Monthly Archives: November 2013

Teaching Time Words

Time Lesson Plan

Time…we are all bound to it. As teachers, we know every minute counts. Two minutes left in our prep? We can get a LOT done in that two minutes! Some children have an understanding of time, and some, to put it plainly, don’t. How do you teach time words? The new CCSS require students to be very clear in their writing and put to use descriptive words. With so many different time words, how do you teach them to children so that they truly understand them? “The Word Lady” has shared her lesson plan with us. No matter what she teaches, she tries to give children something to hold. Watch the video below to see how it is done!

Creating a Climate for Responsible iPad Use

I have been getting teased a lot lately. I should say a little more than usual. In all honesty, it is because I told my principal that, aside from my wedding day and the birth of my four children, the day we went 1:1 with iPads was the happiest day of my life. In my defense, it really was. It is invigorating to me to constantly learn something new. That goes with the territory when it comes to tech.

I am learning and adjusting as I go. “What have I learned?” you might ask. (Aside from the obvious, which is new apps that seem to constantly be emerging). I found that kids get really excited to have an iPad. Sometimes they are so excited that they just can’t help trying out all the apps on their device before I have the chance to teach and introduce them. I have learned that kids need to be taught how to listen and follow directions before they start doing. I have learned that kids need to understand that using an iPad is a privilege and an immensely powerful learning tool. In order for students to learn and grow, they need to be on-task and not just engaged while working.

That is what led me to create an iPad contract that I discussed with my class and then asked them to sign. In doing so, they understood that signing the contract signified a promise. Kids truly understand promises and know how it feels when someone breaks a promise to them.

The next, natural step, was to talk about what should happen if they break their promise. The following poster is what the class decided on as a list of consequences. Taking time to do this was immensely worthwhile since we use our iPads all the time. Stopping my teaching to ensure that children are using their iPad as a tool and not as a toy makes my job as a teacher very difficult. There needs to be a flow to any lesson. Asking students to take responsibility for their actions was one of the best things I could do.

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Facilitating Asking Questions

All the great reading gurus talk about questioning as an important comprehension strategy that individuals use to help them understand their reading better. We teach students to generate questions before, during, and after reading. We teach students to search the texts they are reading for answers. Sometimes our answers are found in the text itself and others are found in outside sources.

Children are innately curious. My daughter is a prime example of this. She probes me with questions every opportunity she gets. Her questions are insightful at times and borderline weird at others (such as “What are toenails made of?” or “What would happen if you had no lips?”)

Our goal is for children to think deeply and to stretch themselves. We want quality questions which require higher order thinking and so we teach that not all questions are created equal. We draw an analogy between a sandwich. “Which of your questions are thick? Which ones are thin?” we say. (Thick questions require us to dig deeper. The answers are not found right there in the text. Thin ones, on the other hand, are “right there.” “How does questioning help you as a reader?” we probe.

Despite our best efforts, we sometimes have students that struggle with generating questions. They may write down a telling when they are asked to record a question that they have. What do you do then? “The Word Lady” has the answer.

It is actually simple. Take a box. Place an object inside. (Don’t let the students see what you put in.). Say to the class “I have something inside this box. Ask me a question to try to figure out what is inside.” This is where the fun begins! Your first question may be “What is it?” This is where you work your magic as a teacher. You help shape student responses and mold them in to questions. Based on student responses, you might say things such as: “Ask me a where question. Such as “Where is it found?” Ask me a how question. Like “How do you use it?” You can build a concept of categories and teach students to ask if it is an animal, a type of clothing, or a plant.

This is a fun activity that you can use while kids are lining up or during snack time. Give it a try. You will be amazed at the transformation and the types of questions your students begin to generate!

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Rich Vocabularies-More Tips from “The Word Lady”

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Good writers purposefully and carefully select words. They are much like artists as they use language to paint pictures in the minds of their readers. As teachers, we strive to equip our students to use rich and interesting language both in speaking and in writing. Larger vocabularies means more success in reading and a richer life in general.

I have quickly learned that the playing field is not level and I need to strategically teach vocabulary if my students are to be successful. I teach lessons on word choice and encourage children to lay to rest overused words. (You know the ones…little, big, nice…). I have a math vocab wall that I consistently add to. I have a word collector that I use to record new and interesting words that my students and I find together as we read. And now, I have learned another way from “The Word Lady.”

When my class was learning about size words, Miss Jill used storytelling to engage my class. It was unforgettable. She told the story of Jack and the Beanstalk and she weaved different words for big throughout the story. It was a natural, authentic way to drive the concept home. What first grader doesn’t enjoy a great story?

Afterwards, my students and I used the free app, “Pic Collage” to create the following poster to cement their learning.

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Since then, I used the story “Thumbelina” to teach different words for small. I had a blast using the iPad app “Puppet Pals” to bring the story to life.

Thank you Miss Jill for another great lesson!