Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mercy Watson Chapter Book Love

You know that time of year when things slow down and you can almost see the warmer weather just within your reach? The time when you can breathe a little.

Well, I think that time is finally here for me.  All year it's been a race to keep my head above water.  It's not so much the actual teaching, just everything that goes along with it.  Paperwork, parents, PEP's, IEP's the list goes on...

My point, is that I've been B.U.S.Y but now I'm not.  I have more time to think, share, PIN, create, and reflect on what worked and what didn't.  I plan to share those tidbits with you! 

First, let me introduce you to a character I just fell in love with.  I happened to also make 17 out of 18 little 2nd graders fall in love with him too. His name is Mercy Watson. 

Kate DiCamillo is the author of the series that features this cutie above.  Mercy gets into hilarious scenarios that are interpreted by the humans in her life in hilarious ways. 
My favorite part is that the books are chapter books but they have words that are easy enough for almost all of my second graders yet there are parts that lead to really great vocabulary discussions.  I've used this series in my reading groups. My higher groups look up the vocabulary in the dictionary and use it in their writing and book reports. Whereas, my lower groups are able to still follow along and really dive into character traits, problem & solution,  text complexity and many other skills.  Basically, I'm finding there's something for everyone!

The first book we read was Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride.  We all completed the same class book report on this book (here). It allowed me to really see what areas the students struggled with. 

Peek inside the text...

Mercy's world revolves around hot buttered toast...and since those are adjectives...I'm all for it! 

Remember I said I was able to get 17/18 students to love Mercy...?
Well, one section of the book reports ask "Did you like this book?" and "Would you recommend this book to a friend?"  - My one little boy answered "No".  When asked why, he informed me that he didn't really like pigs because that's what his brother calls him! 

If you're looking for a new easy to understand and read chapter book series, this is definitely one that I recommend! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Teaching Key Words in Math

THANKS for hopping over to my little corner of the world to get another BRIGHT idea. 
If you're anything like me, as I surf through the bright ideas hop, I am having a lot of "Why didn't I think of that?" and "Duh!" moments.  I hope to provide for you another one of those moments.

One of the most effective things I do this year is my math number line with key words for word problems.  
Teaching Math Story Problems
1) Read the problem. Read it again.  
2)Circle the numbers in the problem.
3) Circle the key words. 
4)Find your key word and decide what to do.

As you know, teaching what to do with a word problem sounds easy enough but it isn't.   

With this system I am able to help struggling students easily. The addition key words are to the far right...students know that those key words mean add and then they begin to know that means their number will get "bigger". The subtraction words are on the far left.  The numbers are "smaller" and students know things are being "taken away".  Notice that they are also color coded.  This allows me to have conversations that get them thinking. Conversations where I don't give them the answer. Conversations like this

"What is your key word?" - (sum)
"Did you find your word on the number line?" - (yes)
"What color is it?" - (green)

Pause here while you give the teacher stare......

"So......what do you do?" - (add???)


All you need is colored paper or sentence strips.  Write them down and add them to the wall as they come up in lessons

Here is a cheat sheet for you. Of course there will be those few problems which break the rules but for the most part the student will be successful using the common key words. 

For more fantastic teaching ideas, hop on over to Michelle at Well, Michelle? to learn about classroom engagement ideas. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Book Report Booklet

What do we do in 2nd grade? 
We write.

 We read and then we write about what we read.  Then we do it again and again and again.   

No worries, we do fundamental subjects like math, science, and social studies too.  

THEN, we write about it.  

Thankfully, I understand that better writers make better readers and these are really important amazing skills we're learning over in Room 4.  However, I also realize it can get old too.  In NC, we use MCLASS testing for our students to determine their reading levels (TRC). With this testing, there is a heavy emphasis on the written comprehension component.  In order for a student to pass the test at their reading level they must answer 5 oral questions and 2 written questions.  Then the computer does it's magic trick with the scores and out pops a reading level.  The big thing to know is that the written component carries a lot of weight for this testing.  This is why we write about what we read ALL. OF. THE. TIME.  I recently created 
Book Report Booklets as my newest way to build some excitement.  My kiddos don't seem as bored when I ask them to answer the same text questions over and over again so long as I do it in a few different ways. Hopefully these can help you out in your classroom too! 


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