Sunday, March 26, 2017

5 Quick Ways to Check for Understanding

Hey everyone! It's Deanna here from A Primary Owl! Today, I am talking formative assessments....this has been a huge push in my school this year. We have been focusing on Formative Instructional Practices like posting clear learning targets for students, making sure students know their learning targets and regular formative assessments to drive your instruction.

So, I want to share with you 5 quick ways you can check for understanding during or after your lesson. You probably already use these strategies, but do you view at them as formative assessments??
Exit tickets are an excellent way to check for understanding. But you don't just have to wait until the students are "exiting" can have students write what they remember from the lesson the previous day. During the lesson, stop and have students jot down their ideas. I love using index cards for this! I have tons of them and they are super cheap. It takes just few minutes to pass them out and it is easy for students to write on the lines. 
Exit ticket charts or "What Stuck With You Today?" charts are great for this too. I love using my "Think and Respond" Chart. This is just another easy way to check in with students:
I love white boards. We use them constantly in my room during our lessons. I recently felt like I won the lottery when I was in my local Dollar Tree store....they had these dry erase boards with handles only $1.00 each!!! I literally felt like doing a happy dance right there in the aisle! We have used them tons during math and also when we are reviewing multiple choice items for quizzes. I  have them write their answers on their white boards and show me. I can quickly tell who didn't get the correct answer and who needs to look around for help before answering. I can pull those friends into a small group later for reteaching.
Seems simple but we do a quick check on our fingers all the time. I say, "Give me a thumbs up if you understand, thumbs down if you are still having trouble, thumbs in the middle if you still need more time." Another way I use this is when we watch a BrainPop video, we do the little quizzes together and I have my students show one finger for answer A, two for answer B, etc. Easy and no prep or papers to print!
Another scale that we use besides our fingers is a rating scale. While some students might find it hard to show their fingers because they might embarrassed to admit they don't understand a concept. Using a personal rating scale is less public. I made these, laminated them and my students keep them in their pencil boxes. Students can privately show me how they are doing. You can get your free template by clicking the picture:
Finally, my favorite way to check student's learning is using technology. Here we are playing Quizlet Live, our new favorite obsession! 
These are just a few of my favorite tech tools for keeping students engaged and evaluating their learning during the unit we are working on.
Thank for stopping by today! 
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Spring Break and Beyond


Hello.  I am Tami from Kamp Kindergarten.   I am going to be discussing a topic near and dear to most teachers at this time of year---Spring Break. 

No matter how much we love our little learners, most teachers are more than ready for Spring Break when it finally arrives.  I know that was certainly the case for me.  Then, when I was on break, what was on my mind?  School, of course.  Specifically, what activities could I plan to make the final weeks fun for my students?  Whether we stay home and recharge or spend a few days away, we still think of our little ones.

While Georgia is a large state, we are blessed to be located within reasonable driving distance of several desirable vacation destinations. Forests, mountains, caverns, lakes, beaches, and even Orlando, FL tourist destinations can be reached in a day’s drive from most Georgia locations.

Many Georgia families visit beaches either in Georgia or neighboring states for spring break.   If you are like me, finding seashells is a fun part of visiting the beach. No matter how many shells I have, I always find more.  I have found that using some of the shells at school is a great way to engage little ones during the last few weeks of school when they are so over anything we have been doing all year long.

Shell Sorting

One simple way to use the shells is in a tray or container of sand.  Children can sort the shells, order them by size, or simply enjoy the sensory aspect of touching the shells and sand or moving the shells about in the sand.

Putting Shells in  Numerical Order

Use a Sharpie and write letters or numbers in the shells. 
Turn the shells over and place them in the sand so the writing is not visible.  If you like, you may bury them in the sand so students dig through the sand and search for the shells. After finding the shells, students place them in alphabetical or numerical order in the sand.

PLEASE NOTE:  The writing will not come off the shells.  Consider that when selecting ones you want to use for these activities.  

Using Shells to Practice Addition Facts

You may write an addition or subtraction equation on one shell and the sum or difference on another. Put the shells in the sand tray and let students search for the shells.  After finding the shells, students match the equations to the answers.

Using Shells to Make Words for CVCe Ocean Write the Room FREEBIE

Shells with letters may be used for word work and word building activities.  You may use any word cards you already have in your classroom.  Click on the links to download the free cards pictured.

Using Shells to Spell Words for CVC Spell the Room FREEBIE

Shells may also be used in lieu of clips to mark answers on clip cards.   You may use clip cards you already have in your classroom or click on the links to download the free cards pictured.

Using Shells to Mark Responses for Kids at the Beach Subtraction Center

Using Shells to Mark Responses for CVC Clip Cards FREEBIE

I hope these seashell activities are fun for you and your little ones.

I want to wish you and your little learners a wonderful Spring Break.  I hope all of you come back refreshed and ready to enjoy your last few weeks together. 
Happy Spring!


Sunday, March 19, 2017

6 Strategies for Teaching Poetry

Does teaching poetry stress you out? Try these 6 strategies for teaching poetry to get learners to fall in love with poetry.

Use Poetry Templates:
Many styles of poetry use a certain format.  Using templates allows learners to really focus on word choice. Learners don't have to focus on the structure with templates.  Giving access to a thesaurus and dictionary will help writers find the best words to fit their poem.

poetry templates
Integrate Other Subjects:
Poetry doesn’t have to be limited to just literacy lessons. You can easily integrate poetry into the content areas. For example, in math you can write diamante poems about the different operations, bio poems about shapes, and acrostics for key vocabulary terms.  You can get plenty of suggestions in this

Integrate poetry ideas
Use Close Reads
A poetry close read can help readers make inferences and connections. This simple close read guide can be used with any poem. The questions guide readers to understanding the parts of poetry, identify key terms, and search for main idea.

Poetry Close Read for Any Poem
Use Poetry in Lessons and Centers
Make poetry part of your guided reading lessons and literacy centers. Keep it up and running with a poetry book basket and the poetry close read.  Want poetry book suggestions?

Do you want poetry literacy centers that are already prepared?  These monthly poems will allow for you to cover all holidays and seasonal themes. A test-prep/close read guide, written response, poetry writing lesson, and content area connection is provided for each poem.

March Poetry Literacy Center
Read Poetry During Read Aloud Time
Use poetry as part of your daily read aloud. Poetry is perfect for read alouds especially on those days when you are running short on time.  Check out this article to get suggestions of poems that will keep your students reading poetry all year long. Each month includes a FREE set of questions and activities.

Found Poetry
Use found poetry to help students identify the main idea of a passage. Have students highlight the important words and phrases as they read. Then cut out the highlighted words and organize them into a poem.
Found Poetry

Create a Wall Display
Keeping up a poetry word wall is a great way to help students learn those important terms. Put it up near your literacy center.  This poetry word wall has terms and examples.  You can color to meet your classroom decor or for student notebooks.  Or just print and go.

poetry word wall

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