Saturday, 30 March 2013

Teaching Research Skills & a Freebie

Hello friends,
One if the more tricky aspects of research is teaching kiddies to find keywords, record them, then convert them into explanations in their own words, avoiding plagiarism.

When I taught Year 4 last year, we had a great unit on Natural Disasters / Forces, under the transdisciplinary theme - How the World Works.
This is a really meaty topic that kiddies love to get their teeth into. I have compiled a mini unit around some of the essentials that I used, and popped it onto TPT (HERE) and onto TN (HERE).

 There are 2 title options, depending on your approach, I felt 'Forces' was a better word choice for younger students and helped differentiate between the natural and necessary activities of the Earth (forces), and when these activities occur in highly populated areas (disasters).

The unit contains:

1. Report Criteria: & checklist for the student's books to highlight off
2. Student note-taking sheets for research
3. Presentation samples
4. Links to reference websites (2 pages)
5. Assessment Rubric sample

I included 2 versions of the student note-taking sheets for research. This is one of them.

 These are 2 sided foldables so it helps students to focus on one aspect of note-taking and note-making at a time. I make several copies per student and hand one out at a time for them to work on. Once they have completed and self/buddy checked  the first one, they hand it in to me for a teacher conference. While they begin researching and writing their next paragraph, I can call students down in order of hand in, for a conference. As I notice trends, I may pause the class and explain these to all the kiddies as a mini pointer. I keep a checklist of whom I have seen so that I can chase up or give support where needed.

Once students have conferred with me, they can type that paragraph up on our class GoogleDocs Drive. This can then be checked (for typos only) from home by them, with family support, and by me. When I check their typing, I copy and paste the paragraph below and make typo corrections in the second one, so that they can go back and see the difference (a bit like spot the difference). Once they are happy with it, they can copy and paste the paragraph into a publishing software, app or website, and play with text sizes, fonts, colours and layout.

You might like to explore this link to some student Weeblys from last year.

Now for the freebie. I have also posted the Note-taking/Note making sheets for free, Grab your TpT copy (HERE) 
or you TN copy (HERE)

Monday, 25 March 2013

Free 4 All Linky #3

Hello friends,

I have linked in to the Free 4 all Linky run by All Things Upper Elementary. You can check it out (HERE).

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

5W and 1H

Hello friends,

Today, for writing, I pulled out a section from my resource

Reading Comprehension Skills and Figurative Language Posters

It's the Who, What, Why, Where, When & How questions. I printed them in greyscale for my students, reducing to 2-1 as well. We make envelopes to keep them in and made our own tool kits for buddy conferencing.

Then we got together with a buddy to share our narratives. Students read 1 paragraph at a time, while their buddy held the question prompts ready to ask expanding questions of the writer. After taking turns with this activity, the kiddies regrouped and shared the results of their expanded sentences back to their table groups. What a difference!

This was a follow up to a great little digital motivator called "I made tea." Take your students through it by clicking onto each 'greyed out' word. It will blow their minds how you can expand 1 short, dull sentence into an entire paragraph.

(Here) is the link to the digital motivator and I added some images of our tool-kits, too :)



Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Learner Profiles Revisited

Hello friends,

I posted about my Learner Profile lesson for the start of this year in a post (HERE) earlier. I just wanted to show you the finished results.

I took a photo of each students, with their backpack and Learning Journal, to represent the image in the resource. After drafting their Learner profile, they published them in these cute pencil frames from

Remember you can get my unit for free at
Teachers Pay Teachers
Teachers Notebook
or at Help Me Learn in New Zealand / Australia

Enjoy! Would love to know how it went for you.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Narrative Writing Posters

Hello Friends,

We are hard at work writing our first Narratives this year. The motivational text that I used for this is
Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day by Judith Viorst

You can preview the book on Youtube and the HBO cartoon is also there.

First, we shared the story and discussed why we may have a strong  personal connections to the events that Alexander experiences throughout his day.  We also looked at why the character kept wanting to go to Australia and why would the author keep repeating this concept as a link through the story.

For home-learning, students discussed their own unlucky, unfortunate or 'bad day' experiences with their families, that they have had over the years, and made a list in their Learning Journals, to bring to school.

In class we used these to create a time-line for our stories. We talked about how author's write from personal experiences in order to connect with their reader about  relate-able topics. Also how authors may modify the circumstances or details of these events to fit a story idea or message. My kiddies had to adapt experiences that happened over several years to a timeline that would fit 'Yesterday' - Our Very Bad Day'.

So far we have written the Orientation and half of the sequence of events. They are sounding amazing so far :)

I created this support material for Writing Narratives, both for myself - to refresh the features in my mind - and also to share with the students as they edit their draft work.

I have included descriptions and examples of the following supporting concepts:
Purpose of Narrative Text
Types of Narrative Text
Features of Narrative Text
Plan a Narrative Text
Use of the Senses
Rhetorical Questions
Vary Sentence Openers
Personal Voice

Hope you find it useful too. You can grab it from HERE or HERE

Will share the results soon :)

I Like Myself Art / Writing / Speaking Unit

Hello friends,

Over the past few weeks we have looked at some useful Model Texts to launch our student responses to text (part of our CRAFT reading centre). I blogged previously about our RACK challenge , motivated by Bob Graham's How to Heal a Broken Wing. The hearts are coming along nicely. Even though we didn't reach 100 hearts in 2 weeks, we still managed 51! recorded RACKs and many more that went unrecorded. The students asked to have a week extension on the deadline as they felt that they would really like to meet the challenge. I have another activity that I would like them to go on with after this one, so will keep you updated as that unfolds.

Our self portraits turned out great and we shared them to our school assembly this week. 4 lovely kiddies recorded their writing for the soundtrack as the class set of portraits rolled in a slideshow.

I used the Voice Memos app on my iPhone to record them, which I then emailed to my school address and dragged to edited in Garageband. Then I exported the track to my iTunes. Once I created the slideshow in iPhoto, I could simply select the track from my iTunes and exported this as a Quicktime.

A HUGE and heartfelt THANK YOU to the following for the inspiration. The Harold Caravan, I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont, and Kathy Barbro of Art Projects for Kids.

Here are a few close-ups. Of particular interest is the detail that students  put into decorating their names.