Saturday, March 30, 2013

Common Core Connection: Using Nonfiction Series In the Classroom

Need ideas on how to teach nonfiction?  Check out Nonfiction Series at:

When You Reach Me: Book Review and Teaching Ideas

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is the first book that as soon as I finished the last page, I turned back to page one and started reading it all over again.

It's sixth grade and Miranda is discovering life without her best friend, Sal.  He no longer wants to be her friend and she is faced with the challenge of making new friends, navigating past the laughing man on the street corner alone, and discovering why things must change.

I haven't enjoyed reading a book this much in a while.  When You Reach Me is the kid of book that sticks with you, runs through your mind, and makes you think.  I can't wait to use this book to teach.

For more information check out:

Create a year long unit with this book in mind to meet all of the needs of Common Core standards.  Pairing When You Reach Me with A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle and several nonfiction texts on New York City, the seventies, and science will meet the needs of all Literature and Information Text standards.  

Why I Teach?!?

There are times (especially when I get my paycheck) that I question "Why do I teach?"  Why did I choose a job that follows me home, wakes me at night, and has me reviewing the day as I shower, dry my hair, and drive to work.

Each and every time I question my choice, I get to school and find the answer, in the "I Got It!" moments, the smiles, and my coworkers.

A few years ago in the middle of independent reading, I had one of my best moments.  It was the first week of school and I was setting up the procedure of independent reading.  When I do this I have all students reading at the same time (later in the year this changes), and as they are reading, I model by reading as well.  One student was having difficulty staying focused and kept talking to his neighbor.  I had corrected him once and on the second occurrence asked him to return to his seat.

He came up to me with something in his hand and held it out for me to take.  I hesitated, not 100% sure what was being placed in my hand, but curiosity won over and I held my hand out for the "gift."  Into my palm dropped a peppermint.  The student smiled up at me and said, "Keep up the good work teaching, and there's more where that came from."

And that is why I teach.  

Using Choice Boards

How do you motivate and meet the needs of all students in assessing Common Core standards?  Choice Boards and Menus are great ways to do both!

Choice Boards and Menus allow for you to design authentic assessments that allow teachers to  differentiate, meet the needs of all learning styles, and motivate students to give their best.

In working on the Choice Boards and Menus below, my students were excited from the moment I handed out the assignments.  The energy in the classroom was amazing.  Once I discussed the choices and allowed them to start, I could see the wheels turning and the results were astounding!

In a world where information literacy is a must, the students showed me that not only had they gained new information, but they were able to USE the information as well.

Tips for Creating Choice Boards and Menus: 
1. Use your top row of choices or your first item on the menu for your easiest options.
2. Check to be sure that each column or menu course has an option for various learning styles.
3. Be creative.  Incorporate current trends into your choices.  (Ex: Write a graphic book, write a song using the tune of a popular song).