Teaching Idioms! 5 Tips for Teaching Idioms

Saturday, September 20, 2014
Idiom Anchor Chart Idiom Mini lesson Teaching Idioms Idioms Chart

We began learning about figurative language last week so our first stop was IDIOMS! Here are some tips that I have found help when teaching idioms!

#1 Make an Anchor Chart
Making the anchor chart seen above allowed me to assess the student's knowledge of what idioms were (seen in the purple) and examples of idioms they already know (seen in the pink).  My 5th graders already knew ALOT about idioms BUT had difficulty explaining what they actually meant.  

#2 Consider Your Audience  
I have a student this year that loves......pickles! On Fridays, when the class shares what they will be doing for the weekend he always replies, "eating pickles!"  The other students find this HILARIOUS.  So, to play along, our first idiom of the year that we focused on was, "He was really in a pickle when he missed the train." 

#3 Choose an Approach
Are idioms something you want to focus on for a few weeks OR something that you want to incorporate into your classroom the entire school year? I have been using my Idiom of the Week unit in my classroom so that I can make it a year long activity.  The students get really into it and look forward to see what the upcoming idiom will be! Find my "Idiom of the Week" unit here.  Here are some outstanding samples!
Teaching Idioms Panicked Teacher Idiom of the Week Idiom Poster Idiom Mini Lesson
Teaching Idioms Panicked Teacher Idiom of the Week Idiom Poster Idiom Mini Lesson
Teaching Idioms Panicked Teacher Idiom of the Week Idiom Poster Idiom Mini Lesson

Here is a freebie from my "Idiom of the Week" unit. 
Click on the pic to be taken to the link.
Idiom Template Lesson Idiom Lesson Teaching Idioms Idiom Lesson Plan

#4 Organize the Idioms
I always use the anchor chart that I make in the beginning of the school year to plan my instruction for the rest of the school year.  I don't want to teach them idioms they already know! I use the list below to organize my idioms and figure out what I will be teaching first.  This sheet is a good tool that I have when planning the rest of the year since I can mark which ones I have already covered, etc... (This list is from my Idiom of the Week unit)
Idiom List List of Idioms

#5 Organize a Student Search
This year I am having a figurative language wall where students can add the different types of figurative language that they come across as they are independently reading books.  They will add the idioms etc... to post it notes and add them to the wall (pics coming soon!)  

What tricks and tips do you have for teaching idioms in your classroom? 

Teaching Decimals

Sunday, September 14, 2014
Many students see a fraction or decimal and immediately go into panic mode due to lack of exposure and unfamiliarity!  Often, students do not have a solid foundation for what a decimal is.   This year, it was difficult for students to express how and why they use decimals in real life.  I made the following anchor chart with the students but it was like pulling teeth!!!! I wasn't sure if we thought of everything, but it was a good start!

Decimals Anchor Chart
Older kids need to understand what the numbers in decimals actually mean and making that connection to the physical models really helps to deepen their understanding of decimals. I know this is the truth, BUT to be honest, I didn't have models to give them. I wish I could say I had base ten blocks or some fancy manipulative but that is just not the case.  UGH! Let me tell you what I do have.  A drawer full of post it notes. (My next post, 101 ways to use post it notes in the classroom, lol, coming soon!) Actually, this worked out PERFECT!!!!  The students started making their own hundredths charts on the post it notes.  
Teaching Decimals Minilesson

Comparing Decimals 5th Grade Math Teaching Decimals
After drawing 2 hundredths charts, the students picked 2 decimals to draw.  They easily compared the decimals since they had a great manipulative right in front of their eyes that they constructed themselves.  They loved it!
Comparing Decimals Minilesson Teaching Decimals
 This lesson also lent itself to adding decimals, so they added them up. Now that I think about it, I should have had them subtract the decimals so show that using the inverse operation can help them to check.  Like I do in this math journal below. 
(click on page to be taken to the product to purchase)
Decimal Math Journal Teaching Decimals
Finally, the students explained what they did in writing.
Writing in Math Decimal Reflections 5th Grade 4th Grade Teaching Decimals
The reason I loved this activity was because I just taught it on a whim after planning a completely different lesson the night before.  When I saw the post it notes in the drawer, it just dawned on me to use them for the lesson. What have you done in your classroom to teach decimals? Do you have any tricks for teaching decimals to the thousandths? 

Character Traits

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Last summer I dug into my pockets and bought a whole class set of the book, "Because of Mr. Terupt".  I searched for a book that was appropriate for 5th graders AND would be a fun read.  The kids are LOVING it so far. The story is centered around a brand new teacher that proves to be pretty terrific. We have been focusing on character traits since the book features seven narrators, each a student in Mr. Terupt’s, 5th grade class.  Each character has a unique story AND a different perspective on what makes their teacher special. We have only read the first two chapters and to be honest, it is hard keeping the different characters straight SO I decided to assign the students a group character traits project. My goal was for the students to create a poster for each character in the story.  The posters will provide good visuals for not only the students, but me! Each group was assigned one character from the story.  First, we completed a character traits chart together. 

Character Traits CCSS ELA Literacy RL 5.1 Anchor Chart

We thought about characters that the students have enjoyed the most from books they have read.  Next, we discussed what different character traits were.  The student's came up with; how the character INTERACTS, the character's FEELINGS, the character's THOUGHTS, the character's WORDS OR DIALOGUE, how a character RESPONDS to situations or another character's problems, and finally, how a character SOLVES a problem!

      Next, we brainstormed positive and negative adjectives that DESCRIBE the character's traits.  Here is a closer pic of what the students came up with.
Descriptive Words Character Traits Word List Adjectives
In the end, the students needed to 1.) Think of a word that described their character. 2.) Think of which character trait it was describing. 3.) Find a quote as evidence from the story to support their thinking. And Finally, 4.) EXPLAIN how the quote supported their idea! Here is an example of what one of the kids came up with for the trouble maker in the story, Peter.  
Text Evidence Minilessons

For the illustration on the poster, one student drew what they thought the character would look like based on what they had read about the character. (Since there were no illustrations in the book!)  I loved what they came up with!  The other students filled out the character traits squares.  The kids had a great time with this! Here are some examples of the finished products.
Because of Mr. Terupt Mini Lessons Characterization CCSS RL 5.1

Because of Mr. Terupt Mini Lessons Characterization CCSS RL 5.1

Because of Mr. Terupt Mini Lessons Characterization CCSS RL 5.1

Because of Mr. Terupt Mini Lessons Characterization CCSS RL 5.1

Because of Mr. Terupt Mini Lessons Characterization CCSS RL 5.1

Because of Mr. Terupt Mini Lessons Characterization CCSS RL 5.1

To download the templates used for this assignment, click on the pic below.
5th Grade Character Mini Lesson

What are some things you have done to teach character traits in your classroom?

Student to Student Feedback-A Powerful Tool!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Since we are 3 weeks into the school year, students will be finalizing some writing projects soon.  I think it is so important for the kids to respond to each others writing.  There are so many reasons that I LOVE having the students respond to each other's work. Here is my list!
Benefits of Student to Student Feedback  
1.) Students gain another peer's insight. (They listen to their friends!)
2.) Students think of relevant ideas for improving their friend's work. (Often ideas that I wouldn't have thought of!)
3.) Student's feel important when they are making suggestions for their friend's writing. (AND will sometimes put more effort into their writing when they know someone else in the class will be looking at their work!)
4.) The students listen to each other. (Let's face it, sometimes they are sick of hearing what the teacher says!)  
5.) This strategy can reduce the teacher's workload. (Enough said!!!)

In the past I have used post it notes for the student's to write comments on their peer's work, but the post it note has EVOLVED into Student to Student Feedback Wheels. 

Peer Feedback 5th Grade 4th Grade 6th Grade Student to Student Feedback 

To begin, I go over a Peer Feedback Anchor Chart with my students so that they have an idea of what student feedback is and the different types.
  Upper Grades, Writing, Feedback, Peer Review, 5th Grade Writing, Upper Grade Writing
Next we discuss how everything is not always perfect in their peer's writing, but when it IS, there are different ways to tell them.  So we brainstorm some possible positive comments.  Next, we discuss that many times there are things that their friend needs to change, add, delete, make better, and improve.  We talk about how this can be REALLY difficult, especially when you do not want to hurt your friend's feelings!  So, we discuss constructive ways for the students to tell their friends what they need to work on.  We also talk about how this gets EASIER the more that we do it and by offering constructive criticism the students will be helping their friend's writing AND grade in the future!  FINALLY, we discuss how authors often leave out details in their writing.  We list different questions stems that can help them ask questions about the writing they are reading.  We talk about how this can be the MOST important way for making their friend's writing the BEST it can be because this can really let the author know what they left out.  Once we have brainstormed all of these components on a chart, I give the students the following sentence frames chart that they can keep in their writing folder to help them when we are doing peer assessment.

Sentence Frames, Writing Sentence Frames, Writer's Workshop Peer Review 
To grab a copy of the wheel that the student's use (square version too!), click here!

Getting to Know You Projects-Part Two

Monday, September 1, 2014
The next project really allowed me to get a quick glimpse into my students personalities. Since this project is entitled a "Symbolism Project" we first talked about symbolism.  We started with a simple discussion on how different symbols represent universal ideas like the peace sign representing peace and harmony.  Then we went into a more detailed discussion about how different colors can represent things and the students came up with great ideas like red symbolizing danger, anger, or fire and green symbolizing money, greed, jealousy and nature.  Take a look at the circle map I created with the kids.
Symbolism Brainstorming Upper Grades Writing
 Next, I asked the students to think of one item that would symbolize or pretty much sum up their personality.  I told them they are all such unique individuals and in order to get to know each other better they would need to choose one object that they are extremely passionate about.  I told them that for example, I LOVE to create artwork.  I showed them a piece of artwork that I created exclusively for my daughter when she was born.  I told them that on a rainy day they would probably find me painting or creating some type of artwork for my family.  For that reason, I would probably choose a paintbrush to symbolize my own personality.  I gave the students the following paper so that they could have a written version of the directions (especially good for my visual learners!)
Beginning of Year All About Me 5th Grade Upper Grade Beginning of Year Projects

The students first drew a rough draft of their symbol.  I told them one rule was to try and draw their item as large as the 8x11 paper that I gave them. (This eliminates the teeny tiny drawings we sometimes get!)  Here is a before and after picture of a student's work that is truly fabulous.  This was something I definitely would not have know about this student if I hadn't done this project with them!

The rough draft...

5th Grade 4th Grade Beginning of the Year Project

This students created a magnifying glass to look like a detective.
5th Grade Getting to Know You Open House Back to School
And a class of finished products here ranging from ballerinas to football players.
5th Grade 4th Grade Getting to Know You Upper Grades Writing
Click here to get the symbolism project download!

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