5 Websites for Incorporating Current Events in the Classroom! And a Freebie!

Saturday, October 31, 2015
Current Events Lesson, 5th Grade Current Events
One thing I remember about Elementary School is having to bring in a Current Event article from the newspaper and present it to the class.  While I remember that to be a truly nerve-racking experience (the fact that I had to present), I did LOVE looking through the newspapers to find something to bring in.  WELL, to pass this tradition along to my students, (but to ease the pain of making the kids present to the class), I created a template that encourages students to look for current events, WRITE about them, and IF they are comfortable, SHARE! If students are not comfortable presenting, I usually share for them, but ALL kids end up presenting in the end because they feel prepared and have their thoughts organized on this paper!
 I have compiled a list of my FAVORITE websites for students to visit to look for articles about Current Events.

#1) CNN Student News offers short videos DAILY on topics that are currently happening in the news.  This is usually a modge podge of different topics.  My favorite thing about this website is that there is a new video daily.  The only downside? Videos are supposed to be for middle to high school students.

#2) DOGO News offers relevant news articles that students can relate to and have the option to print.  They  publish an article daily (none on Sunday, but double articles published on Monday) and have ALOT of pictures that go along with each article.

#3) KIDS POST This is Washington's Post contribution to student news and a terrific resource! Titles such as, "Want to be a Pro Basketball Player? That's a Tall Order!" are relevant and interest based articles that will capture student's interest.

#4) BBC NewsROUND This site from the British Broadcasting Company offers student articles such as School Children Get Creative with Coding which are extremely HOT TOPICS for students these days!  It is nice for kids in the United States to get a worldly view on different topics as well!

#5) Time for Kids This is always a go-to for information about what's going on with space, sports, and other hot topics. Very student friendly and formats very well for printing!
Current Events Lesson, Using Newspapers in the Classroom
These are all excellent websites for students to gather articles on different current events. Click the pic above to grab the template to use for students reporting about current events, if you haven't already! Do you incorporate opportunities for students to search or write about current events?


Saturday, October 24, 2015
upper grade libraries, choosing just right books, 5th grade library organization
Getting students to read books at their appropriate level is CHALLENGING in the upper grades! Sometimes, I am frustrated as a teacher that students are reading books that look like they are too EASY.  Knowing and familiarizing myself and students with lexile levels has helped me as a teacher realize that some books that may LOOK easy are actually 5th grade books (and vice versa…books that look HARD because they are thick or longer, may actually not be at their grade level!) The first thing I did to show students and parents what the LEXILE scale looks like was post it in my classroom library where the students check out books. (Click on the pic below to print out this chart!)
exile levels chart, lexile level chart, lexile measures
Next, since my library did NOT have books labeled with Lexile levels, I made the LEXILE LOG seen below so students could actually look up the current book they were reading to see if it fell in the range of where they should be reading for 5th grade.  This was VERY eye opening for students.  I had a student kind of CONFESS and ask me if he could choose another book since his book was more of a 3rd grade level. (SUCCESS!!!)
Just Right Books, 5th grade reading, 5th grade library
Another teacher at my school has their ENTIRE library organized by Lexile Level! I knew it would be a LONG PROCESS and something I needed to tackle, so my next step was to get the books labeled. I made the labels below for FICTION and NON-FICTION so I can have the books somewhat labeled by GENRE too.  Click on the picture below to print out the labels. 
(They print on 5160 standard address labels!)
exile level labels
I definitely think it will be easier getting students to choose the right books when they are actually labeled! Using sites such as LEXILE MEASURES or SCHOLASTIC BOOK WIZARD are helping label each book.  I am having early finishers sitting with the IPAD in the library looking up books and writing the lexile level in the inside cover….(of which I added the labels later) which is making the whole process go MUCH faster! Here is what my WHO WAS Collection is starting to look like!
classroom library, 5th grade reading
How do you get your students to read books at their appropriate level?

Candy Corn STEM Towers

Saturday, October 17, 2015
My school has 2 STEM nights per year where teachers offer different STEM activities in their rooms for the students to complete.  Since Halloween is approaching, I was looking for something Halloweenish for students to work on…and I found the perfect activity from CREATE TEACH SHARE.   Her Candy Corn Stem Investigation sheet, was just PERFECT for our STEM night!  Students had the opportunity to build the TALLEST possible tower using trial and error.  I did make one modification to the investigation.  I used marshmallow shaped candy corns.  When I tried to do a run through with regular candy corns, the candy corns kept shattering.  I think candy corns may have been doable with my 5th graders since they could have built and smooshed the candy corns together for the towers to work.  However, since I was hosting the activity for a large group with students of all ages, I found marshmallows SHAPED like candy corns. The marshmallows were flexible and malleable so they worked perfectly! 

The recording sheet from Create Teach Share started the investigation perfectly! The GOAL of the investigation was for the students to build the TALLEST structure.  The students were not allowed to TOUCH the materials (toothpicks and marshmallows) for their investigation until they had formulated a written plan.  After they wrote their plan, I asked the students to sketch what they ENVISIONED their tower to look like.  After all of their preparation, students were ready to build!
STEM, Candy Corn Investigation
Take a look at how some of their towers turned out.
Example #1)
STEM idea, October STEM ideas, Halloween STEM
 Example #2)
Candy Corn Activity, STEM Candy Corn Tower
Example #3)
Fall Experiment, Fall Science Experiment
Example #4)
Marshmallow Towers, Marshmallow experiments, 5th Grade Science, 5th Grade Science Investigation
I really LOVED the recording sheet.  On the back, the students were able to sketch how the towers actually turned out and they were able to reflect on their work. This was perfect for the moth of October.  Do you have another favorite Halloween or Fall Science Experiment? I would be interested in hearing about it.  Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, or bloglovin'.

8 BEST Websites for FREE Comprehension Passages

Monday, October 12, 2015
Free Comprehension Passages, Comprehension Passages
In the past, when I have needed comprehension passages for a SUB or just a last minute lesson, I have ended up spending what seemed like HOURS looking online!  I thought I would share with you a list of some of my favorite websites for FREE COMPREHENSION passages! 
#1) K12 Reader
Format: Half Sheet Passage on Left/Comprehension Questions on the Right
Grade Range: 1st-10th Grades
Genre: Non-Fiction (Social Studies and Science)


Format: Passages followed By Short Answer Comprehension Questions
Grade Range: K-12
Genre: Non-Fiction and Narrative

#3) Center for Urban Education
Format: One Page Passages
Grade Range: 2-10
Genre: Non Fiction and Fiction

#4) Great Schools
Format: Passage/Comprehension Questions
Grade Range: 3-5
Genre: Non Fiction
One of my favorites I have found for my 5th graders is the passage seen below…This is GREAT for interpreting complex text, figurative language AND gives students a peek at some classic literature!

Format: One Page Passages
Grade Range: 3-5
Genre: Non-Fiction

#6) Wordville
Format: One Page Comprehension Passage
Grade Range: K-7
Genre: Informational Text

#7) Have Fun Teaching
Format: Comprehension/Comprehension Questions
Grade Range: K-6
Genre: Non-Fiction

#8) English Worksheet Land
Format: Comprehension Skills and Passages
Grade Range: K-5
Genre: Non Fiction

Do you have a site to add to this list? Please share!

Incorporating ART into LITERATURE!

Saturday, October 10, 2015
I am definitely an art lover, so any chance I get I TRY to incorporate Art into my day.  I am currently working on the NOVEL STUDY "From the Mixed Up Files From Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" with my students.  In the beginning of the story, my students were fascinated with the fact that the two main characters, Claudia and James, were on their OWN in the big city (when they initially ran away!)  I knew that it was the PERFECT opportunity to work on Cityscapes so the students could try and visualize the BIG CITY.  

A few years back I made this Elements of Art and Principles of Design Anchor Chart for my students.  When I am teaching any art lesson, I am constantly referring to it and it provides a GREAT visual. For the lesson on Cityscapes, we were focusing particularly on Geometric Form, Value, Line, Positive Space, and Negative Space. 
Elements of Art, Principles of Design, Art anchor chart
 But BEFORE we jumped into art, I wanted to build the students knowledge on Skyscrapers since they would be the main subject of their Cityscapes.  First, I showed the students this AWESOME BrainPOP video on skyscrapers to build their background knowledge.  Next, we completed a Close Read on the TALLEST skyscraper in the world, the Burj Khalifa.  
Tallest Building in the World Passage, Tallest Skyscraper Passage, Skyscrapers, Informational Passage Skyscrapers
Students were PUMPED to begin drawing their Cityscapes.  They were taking their role as "architects" extremely seriously. Using graph paper really helped the students sketch and draw. Take a look at a few examples of student's drawings in the early stages.  
Cityscapes, Sketching Buildings
As I mentioned earlier, these are the concepts that I addressed.
Geometric Form
What different shapes can you use to design your skyscrapers?
Is your sketch 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional?
How did you incorporate 3 dimensional shapes in your sketch?
How can you use your pencil to shade darker and lighter areas?
How does changing the value of your sketch change the perspective?
How using a range of values help you with overlapping?
What types of lines help add texture to you sketch?
What different types of lines did you use?
Positive/Negative Space
What objects make up your positive space?
What objects make up your negative space?
Drawing Lines Skyscrapers
I had students get out their whiteboards prior to drawing on the graph paper to plan out what they were going to do.  This really helped them make a PLAN of action!
Planning Cityscapes
Another student (seen below) designs his Cityscape using a 
whiteboard and Elements of Art Anchor Chart.
Drawing Buildings Lesson
Another visual aide that helped students with pattern and design was the chart seen below.  I posted this to help students get ideas for using LINE to build TEXTURE in their drawings.  
 The guide seen below is from Todd Stahl 
(click on the photo to be taken to the link.)  
The finished products turned out beautifully! After the students had shaded in their buildings with colored pencil, they used chalk to fill in the sky.  They smudged the chalk with their fingers for extra texture and effect!  I LOVE how they look in the room! They brighten up our windows and it is such a joy to have them hanging up! I think they all turned out INCREDIBLE!!! Hopefully you are inspired to try these with your students some day soon. :-)
Cityscapes, drawing cityscapes, cityscapes lesson, 5th grade art lesson, cityscape art lesson
How do you incorporate ART throughout your day?

Incorporating MATH PRACTICES during MATH!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Are you incorporating the 8 Math Practices 
into your Common Core Math Lessons?
Alternative Strategies, DOK 3 Math, DOK 3 Lesson, 5th Grade Math, Area Model, Multiplication Strategies
The above picture shows an anchor chart that I made of alternative strategies for multiplication.  Before the lesson, we went over the below Mathematical Practices that I am trying to include in my lessons to encourage students to have good HABITS when it is time to do math!  My coworker in the lower grades is AMAZING and had these practices laid out for his students to reference.  I wanted to make a version that was more suitable for upper grades, so I made the checklist below! 
Before the lesson, I discussed with students what mathematical practices we would be incorporating into our lesson.  The students checked them off on the list and then students explained how they were going to use them specifically (for this particular lesson.)  In the beginning, this takes a bit of guidance.  I constantly referred to this checklist throughout the lesson.  Click on the pic above or below to download this chart! 
While we are working on word problems like those seen below, I like to point out how students are focusing on MATH PRACTICES such as precision (using multiple strategies to check their work) AND critiquing (checking the work of their peers) while they are working. This raises their awareness of the GREAT math HABITS they are working on!
Do you need additional scaffolding materials for multiplication? 
Click on the link below to be taken there!
Another thing I have started doing this year is using the exit tickets (like the one seen below) at the end of a math lesson.  Since it is pretty much a generic template, the students are able to explain what they learned in that particular lesson AND give an EXAMPLE of what they learned (the EVIDENCE.)  They usually find their favorite problem from the lesson and use that as their evidence.  Finally, the students check off the bottom of the ticket which showcases if they felt like they understood the concept OR if they still need help.  I love that they help me form small groups for those that need specific help.  What I love even more is that the EXIT ticket encourages students to NOTIFY me if they need help! Click to download it below…
Math Exit Ticket, Exit Ticket, Math
Do you have any tricks for incorporating the different Math Practices while teaching Math?
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