Sunday, March 29, 2015

Close Reading In Our ISN

While I'm still fairly new at this blogging business and don't have tons of posts up yet, one thing that should be somewhat clear by now is that interactive foldable organizers are my bag when it comes to ISNs! My kids put loads of these foldable organizers into their notebooks and by the end of the year, it's tough to keep them closed because they are just so stuffed.

But, the foldable organizers aren't the only thing that goes in our ISNs. I've mentioned before how we partner our ISNs with close reading. Many times, my students will conduct a close reading of our story to complete their organizer. And then in turn, they use their organizer to answer a literary analysis question. Sometimes though, if we've read a longer short story or are reading a novel, I will photocopy important sections of the piece for students to glue those into their ISNs so they can put their close reading notes on the page as well.

In these couple of pictures, you can see the students conducting a close read in their ISNs. The day before, we had read the short story, "Tuesday of the Other June" by Norma Foz Mazer. The story was about 14 pages in our Holt Reader, making this quite a long, short story (at least for my 6th graders!). It wouldn't be feasible (or helpful!) for my students to do a close read of the ENTIRE story, so instead I photocopied three of the most important sections for students to glue into their notebooks (**Note: these sections were important because they included details essential for supporting the answer to our literary analysis question).

At the top of each section, I have a "task" that guides their reading of that section. We also write down the key that we will be using for marking up this section. The task, and sometimes the key, may change with each section, but they will always guide the students in the direction of our literary analysis question.

Typically, I have students close read with a partner. I find they will actually read the section more times when they are discussing because they keep going back to reference parts of the story in their conversation.

Okay... to summarize how to have students use their ISNs for Close Reading:

  1. Photocopy a section of text from a story that you'd like students to close read.
  2. Glue it into ISNs.
  3. Provide a guiding "task."
  4. Discuss and record a Close Reading Key for the section.
  5. Have students work with a partner to reread and mark-up the text!!

So, what else do you put in your ISNs? Do you include close reading in yours? Do you have other systems for close reading? I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!

Happy Teaching!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Let's Talk Exit Tickets!

Exit tickets are my most favorite method of formative assessment. I use them all the time in math class. Typically, I create specific tickets with two or three problems that are based on our lesson that day. But recently, I've gotten into more open-ended, creative tickets that can work for any lesson.

There are two reasons why I love these types of tickets:

  1. They are a great way to change things up! It's easy to get into a rut, using the same stuff each day. That's what was happening in my math class - my exit tickets were starting to get boring predictable.
  2. You can copy a few stacks of these to stash in your classroom and pull them out on a rainy day. You know... a day when you forgot to make an exit ticket for the day's lesson and have five minutes until the bell rings and need a filler! Or, my FAVORITE rainy day - when an administrator pops in for a quick, unannounced observation and you need to show an example of formative assessment but forgot to make copies of the one you wanted to use because during your prep you got talking with a colleague about how cute Adam Levine looked last night on the Voice! You know THOSE RAINY DAYS!!

These tickets you see here are part of a collection that I sell on Teachers Pay Teachers.

This set contains 21 different prompts that can easily work for math, ELA, social studies, science... any subject really!! And as I said, my favorite part about these is that I can stash away several stacks of these and pull them out whenever I need them because they fit with any lesson. I've also used them in a math center, as homework, and have collected and graded them as a quiz grade.

Do you use exit tickets? What is your favorite way to use them? I'd love to hear from you!

Happy Teaching!!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Interactive Student Notebooks - The VIDEO!!

Two snow days = two blog posts IN THE SAME WEEK!!

A few weeks ago, I hosted a workshop on using Interactive Student Notebooks in ELA classrooms. Since I had all my info and pictures gathered up for this, I thought I'd put them all together in a video for the blog.

If you have any questions about something you saw (or didn't see and was hoping to) please feel free to ask!

Read some other blog posts about ISNs  here and here and here.

If you'd like to purchase any of the organizers (and many others not featured!) they are for sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

The Interactive Notebook: Literary Elements Collection

The Interactive Notebook: Informational Text Collection

The Interactive Notebook: Reading Comprehension Collection

Or, buy them all together and save a bundle!! The HUGE Bundle available here!

Happy Teaching!!


I've had some readers ask for a copy of the rubric that I use to grade the ISNs. Here is Post-It template that I use:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

BINGO! - An Anchor Activity for ELA

Hey Everyone!

I've got another video for you about how to create this BINGO! anchor activity board for ELA.

This board is easy to make (and super cute, in my humble opinion :) and will be a perfect addition to your ELA classroom.

If you give this a try, I'd love to hear about it!! Also, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the videos I've been making... do you like the format? Do you find them helpful? Cheesy? So, please leave me a comment! It would be great to hear from some of my readers :)

(These 100 Writing Prompt Task Cards featured in this video are available here!)

(The BINGO! letters are available to print here!)

Happy Teaching!!

UPDATE: I've had many teachers ask for the "directions" that you see on this bulletin board. Here is a JPEG that you can print and hang up if you'd like (just click on the image and you should be able to print!)...