Using paired passages in the classroom

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Close reading, paired passages, text dependent questions...these all seem to be the latest BUZZ words in education right now.  I have done some research on these as I want to make sure I have a good understanding of what these mean and how they should look in my classroom.
Today we are going to take a closer look at paired passages.  What does it look like?  What is the purpose?  What is our goal in including these in our instructional minutes?

We dug deep today during reading groups and had a fun, engaging time with paired passages.  I love how my { cool } third graders still enjoy using the pipe cleaner magnifying glasses.

After my modeled instruction, guided and independent practice, students learn to:
  • respond to questions relating to the individual passages, then
  • respond to questions relating to the (paired) passages together
I've found that my students LOVE reading paired passages.  They enjoy reading 2 texts on the same topic.  Then we compare and contrast them.  We discuss the genre and why they know which genre each text is as well.  They respond to questions that lead them right back to the PASSAGES.  So they are re reading the text, finding evidence and showing proof that they have a very good understanding of both passages.

As you can see they are responding to text dependent questions:  They fill in a grid which shows that they understand and remember the genres.  They also have compare and contrast questioning for both texts as well.

I loved seeing them look back, take their time with their reading and even take notes on sticky notes.  Such great little reading detectives.

Using these paired passages helps students with the skills they need to compare and contrast fiction and non fiction passages.  Students are given the chance to make inferences, look back at direct text, respond and even write short answers.  Some of the passages offer venn diagrams when appropriate as well.  You will be pleasantly surprised to see your students hard at work with paired passages.  I was so proud of my students today!

If you are interested in giving it a try I have my Paired Passages pack that will help your students with this crucial skill.  I am also working on monthly ones as well.  Click on the photos to take you to them.

I hope you give it a try and see how paired passages work in your classroom with your kiddos.  I'd love to hear about it too!  

Are you ready for a Student Teacher?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Student have or not?  That is an important question to consider in your career.  I've been teaching 21 years and just finished a session with a student teacher for the FIRST time ever.  There are several reasons why I was hesitant in the past. 
* I job shared for 7 1/2 years
* I had small children 
* busy mom ...see above ( sports, scouts, church, etc. )
* I had my reservations - do I want someone in the room non stop  24/7?

These are all VALID questions and thoughts to ponder for sure.  I knew that I wouldn't be able to give my all to a student teacher while my children were young.  After school my kids were with me ( which I LOVED and MISS by the way ).  So I knew my little humans running around might have made it difficult to meet with a student teacher after school .

This school year has been interesting not because of my class but due to things in my life ~ we had a hit and run in September and luckily we weren't hurt but it still took it's toll.  In November I had a surgery and then I came back in January to a student teacher.  I have an excellent class this year and truly missed them while I was on disability for my surgery.  But ~ I have to say I can't wait for tomorrow to have my KIDS TO myself again.  There was a long term sub in there during my disability and then my student teacher came so I feel like I haven' t had 'my kids' since November.

When I was asked by my principal I said, no.  My typical answer for a student teacher.  But then something stirred in me, one of the things I wanted to focus on in 2016 was to be stretched a bit out of my comfort zone.  So, I decided to give it a try.  It was a wonderful experience and I'm glad I did it.  Even though the circumstances this year haven't been what I would like.
Here are some things that made the student teacher experience easier on both of us:

I purchased these 2 organizers from TPT and combined them a bit - I created a binder and ran off copies and had this waiting for her...she was so thrilled.  I also picked up a Dollar Spot pencil pouch and some mechanical pencils, sticky notes and stickers to get her started.  Click below on the pictures to visit these awesome resources from amazing sellers.

This was hanging outside our room on her first day.  She was tickled and told me it eased her nerves a bit.  Just be you and make your student teacher feel welcome / loved.  I tried really hard to refer to her as 'teacher' and not student teacher.  I wanted the kids to know that she was a teacher and was to be respected, etc.

I was talking to some teacher friends at a meet up and brought up having a student teacher ~ It was interesting to hear others thoughts:
* in one district you couldn't just 'be' a student teacher.  You had to do a training that involved lots of hours after school etc.  Only those teachers could be master teachers.
* another teacher brought up the fact that she wouldn't like having someone in there 24/7...I understood that completely!  It does take it's toll.  This teacher friend whom I love and respect dearly mentioned that she likes to be so silly with her students ( like breaking out in a phonics rap ) out of the blue in a phonics lesson.  I LOVE THAT!!! and I find myself doing things like that too.  She said she would feel strange like she couldn't do that with someone in the room all the time.  I get that too.

I enjoyed seeing her improve over her time with me and I loved seeing her use my ideas and watching them from a different perspective in the back of the room as an observer.  I loved seeing her come up with her own ideas too!
What was hard:  It was tiring ~ and I mean really tiring TALKING all day.  During prep when I usually run around, making copies, prepping I was sitting and talking, explaining. planning, etc.  The first week I came home every night really tired like falling asleep at 8pm tired.  
It's tricky giving feedback when things go south, but I loved that she realized it and asked for ideas from me to improve.
I realized that student teachers need a lot of encouragement and validation so I worked hard on giving that to her.  Here's what I had on her desk the morning of  our Valentine's Day party.
Just be sure you really think about all that it entails.  It probably wouldn't be a good time to have a student teacher if you are a new mom, or a team mom on a sport's team.  Do you have enough time to devote to one?  Will you mind having someone in the room constantly?  Can you give up control of your classroom?  
Think about your master teacher and how valuable ( hopefully ) that was for you and try to give your student teacher a similar or better experience.  Be you - you rock and were born to teach!  I hope this helped give you some ideas and sort through your feelings on it.  Happy teaching xoxo

Dr. Seuss Day is coming...( montage )

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

So you all know what day is coming up shortly right?!?  Now that I've moved up to third grade I { sometimes } okay A LOT of times feel like I'm missing out on know like:
100th day
101st day
Dr. Seuss day
Wild Rumpus Week
you know cool - stuff!  I did send a text to the Leprechaun guy and the Elf on the Shelf because HELLO ~ I still need a life in 3rd grade with my little cuties.  AND have you noticed third graders don't have a cute, catchy name like first graders?  I mean thirdies just doesn't do it for me like firsties...are you with me there?
So back to Dr. Seuss Day - he's BIG I tell ya.  His people are big - like don't MESS around with Seuss big.  No products, craftivities, etc. kinda big.  So that leaves us to either:
A.) make our own personal stuff and don't even THINK about posting it anywhere no way no how
B.) come up with cool stuff to do in class that can't be sold, purchased, bought, looked at, gawked at etc.

So looking back over the years I wanted to share some fun ideas I've done with the ole Cat in the Hat guy so you can copy  do them too if you'd like.  Oh and remember no products for this guy  - like EVER!
So usually we ( my team of just ONE other teacher ) ~ seriously this is no lie.  Waaayyy back in 2003 there were 7 or 8 or even 9 of us at a grade level if we had a combo...and we had the good old 20:1 ratio back then in So. Cal.  Then my school downsized TWICE and almost closed a bunch of now there are just 2 teachers at a grade level.  Anywho we usually dressed up with a red bow around our neck, whiskers on our face and a Cat in the Hat hat of course.  Then one day I had this idea to SWITCH it UP and we were Thing 1 and Thing 2 which again is perfect since there's only 2 of us so no one felt left out.
We have done directed draws of cat in the hat..., we've had guest readers come throughout the day...umm we've done some pinteresty ideas with hot air balloons and such:  Well here are some pics from over the years:

Oh yeah ~ how can I forget we always make green eggs and ham.

Shh!  Don't tell the FOOD POLICE in our district about EITHER of these.  We have a healthy coyote rule at our school and an even bigger one at the DO - which I usually always follow but some days you kinda have to cheat a little - just think of it as a cheat day on your diet.

I just melted white chocolate and put 2 pretzel sticks together then added a yellow or green M & M ~ done!

This is the year we switched it up and we were all Thing 1 and Thing 2's...cute with the Truffula Trees right?!!? { those were made with pool noodles by the way and lots did I say LOTS of tissue paper }

Eek!  My precious little man in the red was a 3rd grader way back then..adorbs!
Well there you have are tons of ideas to get you all ready for the big day!!

5 for Friday

Friday, February 12, 2016
My weekend started yesterday and goes until Monday night...whoo-hooo!  I am thrilled to link up with Kacey again for 5 for Friday.  Swing on by her blog and check things out:

So here's what I've been up to this week...

We had assessments this week for ELA and Math so there wasn't a lot of fun  stuff other than Valentine's to share student teacher worked with the kids and made this cute doggie heart project:

How cute did these turn out?!!?  We even made a display at our Valentine's Dance in the MPR with them.

Next I wanted to share how fun my Behavior Bites have been.  I started this in was one of those middle of the night ideas that came to me.  They have been a big hit!  This month we are filling a jar up with conversation hearts that have to do with targeted behaviors that we are trying to meet ( goals ).  This is where we are at and it's not even the middle of the month yet.  When it's full we earn an extra 20 minute recess!

If you are interested in these you can type Behavior Bites in the TPT search bar or find the February ones here:

I've enjoyed having my student teacher with me since coming back in January.  I think it's important to make them feel special like we do with our students every day.  She enjoyed the love.

This is from one of my packs in my store...they create a heart card with a fun little scrapbook paper key on it ~ the parents always love this special keepsake!  If you love it you can grab it below:  It can also be used for Mother's or Father's Day too.

Randomness:  Last but not least I had to share my favorite piece so far from Stitch Fix { this tunic though... } and I took my youngest to his High School Showcase/preview night.  Eek!  How is my baby in high school....?

 He's the class of 2020!!!!

The last bit of randomness ~ the kinders at my school had a visit from the dentist and even though I teach third I couldn't help but get in on the action!!

Well that's all folks...I'm excited for next week as we'll be starting our unit on Biographies so lots to share soon!