Teaching Dialogue with Picture Prompts

I recently saw a {post by Jivey} in which she shared an activity where her students wrote a caption for high-interest pictures. Since we were working on writing dialogue, I thought that I could tweak it a bit!

First, I showed them the pictures that would be the topic of the dialogue.

Then we brainstormed a list of words that we could use instead of "said" for each picture. For one with bears, they suggested roared, slurped, yelped, and gulped. For the puppies, barked, whimpered, growled. They didn't have to stick to these words, but I told them that I shouldn't see "said" more than once.

Then I passed out paper to make a four-flap foldable. They were to write what one person/animal said on the flap, then another person's/animal's response under the flap.

I posted the pictures around the room and called students (to avoid a huge rush) to go by the one they wanted to do. I gave them about ten minutes to work on the dialogue.

After the ten minutes, we came back and shared our dialogues.

"This is what happens when you mimic us," tweeted the bird on top.
"I'm sorry. I take it back!" squawked the dangling bird.
"Hmm... let me think about it," chirped the bird on top.
"No time to think, just help!" commanded the falling bird.
"Should we help him?" asked the bird on top.
"Please, just hold out a talon," murmured the falling bird.
"Learn how to fly," stammered the bird on top.
"Great idea!" panted the dangling bird.

On a side note, we have a LOT of work to do on spelling and punctuation, but they had really great ideas :) You can find links to these pictures and several others that I used for this activity on my Pinterest board below. 

Click to visit my board!


Student Motivation - Book of Awesome Tasks

Today I'm giving a classroom tour at {The Teaching Tribune}, so be sure to check me out over there as well! And for the heck of it, my entire store will be 20% off today and tomorrow. Click {here} to head over.

Every day our kids have study hall lasting almost an hour. Many of them get in trouble because they either a) get their work done quickly and have nothing else to do -or- b) don't do their work and spend their time trying to do anything but work. We have addressed problem B already, but problem A was still, well, a problem.

Yesterday I gave each of my kids a copy of Nick's {Book of Awesome Tasks}. They. Went. Crazy over it! It is a nice mixture of fun, non-academic tasks and fun, academic tasks that don't appear to be academic. I had kids from other classes see my kids with them and come ask me if they could have a copy. But I told them that I only made enough copies for my class. But if their teacher wanted to buy an additional TpT license for them... ;)

I can tell that I will need volume two to come out soon! (Nick - hint, hint)


Spelling Surprise!

I struggle with finding interested ways to motivate kids to study their spelling words. Over the past few years, I've used SpellingCity. It's a website where you can upload lists and students can play different games with the spelling words. It's really awesome if you do Words Their Way or anything else with differentiated lists, as you can have students choose their word list for the games. You can also have the site give them their spelling tests and score them!

Another math game I've played is Sparkle. Students stand in a circle. The teacher says the spelling word and chooses the first person to start it. That person gives the first letter, then it rotates around the circle. If a student says a wrong letter, he sits down and the next person has to provide the correct letter. When a student says the last letter of that word, the next person says "sparkle" and then the NEXT person sits down. The next person begins the new word and play continues until only one person is left. Hard to describe, but the kids love it.

I now have another fun trick up my sleeve for practicing spelling. I got it from Jessica at {Joy in the Journey}. It's called {Spelling Surprise!} Here's how you play. Divide the class into two teams. I was nice and projected the spelling list so they could quiz others on their team while I was setting up. Anyway, call on a student to spell a word. If he spells it correctly, he gets to draw a slip out of the can (or bag or whatever).

Points are assigned based on the slip. Some slips have you add to your score, some subtract, some add to or subtract from the other team. One even has the teams trade scores. Some involve rolling a die.

Definitely a great opportunity to work on mental math! When we played, we were working a lot with negative numbers because it seemed that all of the subtract ones were drawn first! The students really got into this game and have asked me to play it frequently. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I give the winning team a Dum-Dum ;)


Tried It Tuesday - Genre Read Beads (and Tags)

I was inspired by Nick at {Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason} to start read beads with my class. My class did Reading Olympians last year and the kids loved earning the beads and tags. I'm not doing that program this year, but I'd still like the kids to be able to earn beads and tags.

I made it super-simple and totally optional. Students read a book of their choice, fill out a book review from Nick's blog, and turn in into me. I put up some small posters and gave a handout to help with the genre portion of the review. Then I gave students colored beads based on the genre of the book they read. When they read the second book of that genre, they'll earn a tag.

Here's what my brag tag board looks like:

A preview of the tags they can earn:

To be completely honest, I don't have to talk much about it. A few kids jumped on board right away and started earning beads. I made their reviews available and issued their beads, and then that grabbed the interest of others. After I put up the preview of the tags they can earn, I heard a few kids talking about checking out science fiction books...

I bundled together the stuff I created and put it {here} if you want to take a look!

Also, if you own my best-selling DIY reward tag templates, I just updated the file with two more templates that are easier to cut! Go re-download it!


Constitution Day Ideas

During my daughter's Girl Scout meeting, I was perusing TpT looking for something that I could use for Constitution Day. For the past year or so (or however long we've been required to teach about the Constitution on Sept. 17), I've done a Constitution search with my students. I had a worksheet that they used to find various things in the Constitution. It was okay. Kind of meh for the kids. Since I always seem to forget about Constitution Day until the last minute, I don't have time to find something else. So I'm thrilled that I have two days to think about it!

I think that I will begin by watching the "We the People" episode of Liberty's Kids. Not having seen this particular episode, I'm not exactly sure what to expect. Has anyone seen/used that episode?

Since I have nearly an hour for each section of social studies, I needed to find more to do.

The first product that I stumbled upon was Deb Hanson's Constitution Day Readers' Theater script. What really drew me to this particular product was that it had 26 parts! How many times have you read a readers' theater with only a few parts?! This had enough for everyone! I did end up deciding that some of the vocabulary would be a little much for my large population of IEP kids, but I'm definitely keeping it in mind for next year.

I also checked out this {Constitution Day unit from Teacher's Clubhouse}. I think that there are some smaller activities that will work for my class, such as the board game and I Have, Who Has. I also liked the mini-book.

What are you doing for Constitution Day? Link up your ideas by clicking this image.


Also, just a few more hours to enter this Rafflecopter for a $20 TpT gift certificate!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Freebie Friday Sept. 13

If you are a regular follower, I've already told you about this freebie. But in case you missed it or are new to my blog, I created these posters to display in the room as we are doing our foldables.
Free posters to show "hot dog" and "hamburger" folding
One of the folds that we talk about and use a lot is referred to as a "hot dog" fold. That means that you fold the paper lengthwise to make the paper long and skinny.
Free posters to show "hot dog" and "hamburger" folding
For a "hamburger fold," you fold it widthwise (is that a word?) to make it short and fat. It is hard to see on these posters because of the white background, but the black dotted line shows where you would make the fold. However, your paper could be a different size than mine. Regardless, when you do a hamburger fold, you are taking the longer side and halving it. I'm probably making this harder than it is...

Once in a great while we will do a "taco fold." That is when you have a square piece of paper and you fold it so that the points meet, making a isosceles triangle. At least that's what I call it. Do you call that type of fold something else? Maybe I should make a poster for that, too...
Free posters to show "hot dog" and "hamburger" folding

Freebie Fridays


If You Lived with the Iroquois

This week we read the book If You Lived with the Iroquois by Ellen Levine. I love these books, and we have many other books in the same series - Cherokee, Sioux, Hopi, Northwest Coast, as well as many of the colonial ones.

I needed something to get these kids up and moving because even though the book is interesting, it is long. Interesting fact - The Mohawk men didn't shave their heads to create the typical "mohawk" hairstyle. They actually plucked out their hair and left the section down the middle. Ouch!

Anyway, I picked out a few things that I wanted the kids to know for sure based on the fifth grade social studies standards and made some centers.

I am lucky enough to have a class set of these books, so I gave everyone a book and divided them into five groups. At one center, they put festivals in order and matched them to the reasons they were celebrated. Another center was putting events in order for the process of making a deerskin into clothing. I knew when students got to the part about using brain cakes when I heard the "ews" ;) The third center was sorting jobs into those done by men or women. Another center focused on foods that were and were not eaten by the Iroquois. The final center consisted of eight multiple-choice questions where they had to locate the answer.

The kids did enjoy the centers, but my noise level tolerance was put to the test. I am finding that this particular group of students has trouble working together in groups. Too many chiefs, so to speak. So at the end, I had them turn one of their answer sheets over and give each student in their group up to ten points based on how well they participated with the group. I had a pretty good idea anyway, but I wanted them to know that working together was part of the activity and their grade. I also told that them I have final say, so don't think about telling a friend "I'll give you a ten if you give me a ten." You gotta let fifth graders know that you're wise to their tricks ;)

I am linking this up to my Native American linky. Remember as you are blogging about your Native American, American Revolution, and Reconstruction activities, please link them up! Update: I just added geography, Presidents, Explorers, Constitution, and 13 Colonies!


September Monday Made It (LONG Post)

Here's what I've been creating!

Free Noise management cards
This is a free download {here}.

Free signs for rotating classes
I made these supply labels for the outside of my door. Hopefully as students are in the halls during the day, or at least right before they come into class, they will take a peek to see what they actually need to have for class. They're still trying to get used to this middle school thing, and living out of their lockers is foreign. I made circles with the different supplies that they might have, then used Velcro squares to swap them as needed. You can click {here} for the freebie.

Sometimes you just have that kid that can't figure out what's expected in class. Or maybe you need to collect some data to get a kid some additional help with behavior. I have used point sheets for the last fourteen years to help those kids either get on track or get the data I need to take it to the next level.

They look like this and they are totally tailored to the kid. The top one is the blank template, and the bottom is a sample of how one might look.
Free point sheets for tracking student behaviors

The first thing that you do to set it up and decide on up to five goals for the student. State the goals in a positive way. Speaks at appropriate times is better than Don't blurt out. Here are some examples of goals that I have used over the years.

Shows a positive attitude
On task
Respectful to others
Follows instructions
Speaks at appropriate times
Keeps hands and feet to self
Uses kind words
Uses extra time wisely
Works quietly
Be respectful to teacher
Be respectful to classmates
Uses appropriate language
Controls humming and other noises
Accepts decisions
Brings materials to class

These are just some of the more common ones that I've used, but it really depends on the student.

Students can earn up to two points per goal per class. So the example above has 100 possible points. I always start the goal at 80%. If they are meeting that consistently, I bump it up. Usually 90% is as high as I will go. After all, no one is expected to be perfect.

The classes get filled in in chronological order across the top. Each class will have an adult that will need to fill out the sheet and initial it. The student gets two points for meeting the goal, one point for having a few issues, and no points for having several problems with that goal.

At the end of the day, write the actual number of points earned after the word Actual. Usually I have some sort of reward or consequence set up ahead of time for either meeting or not meeting the total goal.

If you would like a free copy to try out, click {here}.

New freebie! Yesterday I created these reference posters to remind my students of the difference of a hot dog fold and a hamburger fold. If you don't use that terminology, a hot dog fold means that you fold it so that your longest sides meet up, ie. making the paper long and skinny. A hamburger fold means that you fold it so that your shortest sides meet up, ie. making the paper fat and short like a greeting card. Click {here} for the freebie.
Free posters to show "hot dog" and "hamburger" folding

Free posters to show "hot dog" and "hamburger" folding

This is actually my MIL's made it, but I picked out the fabric :) Isn't it cute?! These curtains let in natural light while blocking out those kids who have recess during our class time.
I was left with these scraps and the feeling that I didn't want to throw them away.
So I bought these things at a ridiculous Labor Day sale at Joann's.
I cut the fabric into 1x6" strips.

Then I started tying...
While I liked how full it looked, it was going to take four times the fabric that I had. And since I had to go to five (!) different Joann's to find enough fabric to make the curtains, I needed to scale back. (OK, so I didn't go to all five. I went to two. And my MIL checked her local store, and then she checked one during her weekend trip to Omaha, and then she called every Joann's between Omaha and her home to see if they had any. She stopped at one in Ames to get the rest.) So I untied all of those. Very. Sore. Thumbs.

So then I did this with a coat hanger.
And it turned out like this.
And here it is on my door :)

Free signs for rotating classes Free posters to show "hot dog" and "hamburger" folding
Free NOISE management cards Free Point sheets for tracking student behaviors

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