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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

American Symbols Fluency, Informational Reading, and Writing

This unit meets the Common Core Standards for informational reading, listening and speaking, and writing in first grade. The unit is over 70 pages of rigorous yet FUN learning. My students LOVED learning about American Symbols. I got 4 parent notes telling me how much they enjoyed hearing their child talk informatively and passionately about Social Studies. One parent said that their child "doesn't talk much at the dinner table, and now he won't stop talking about school and symbols!"


Here is a sample of the 8 Fluency Reading Comprehension Pages

I also made you 2 student books that sum up what a symbol is and the 5 major American symbols.

For your Listening and Speaking component the students
will memorize The Pledge of Allegiance.

I emphasize accuracy with my first graders.

Liberty not liVerty

Indivisible not indiminable

They are so proud of themselves as they speak the pledge clearly instead of mumbling along.

I provided a variety of thinking maps and Smart Charts to help
with writing, as well as lined writing pages.
There are also pages to support your language arts learning. Here is a sample of the pages.
This one highlights syllables.
Then, there is one of my favorite activities: Graphing!
Now, I know this sight is for English Language Arts, but I thought I might sneak in a little math.

As a bonus, I have written curriculum that helps support you during the election. Full color graphics of both candidates are included, as well as leveled fluency pages, secret ballots, graphing, and more!


 Oh, and the best part of teaching with this unit was my grade book was full of grades!

Included in the unit are various assessments to choose from!

 Remember, you can give writing grades using the lined pages included too.

The fluency levels in my classroom when through the roof after only two weeks

of using this unit in Social Studies.

Feel free to join me on my blog and ask me any questions you might have.
-Katie Knight

Because of Winn Dixie Common Core Aligned Literature Guide

Now available in PDF download (print coming soon)!

Everything you've ever wanted in a unit plan is in this Guide! This Elementary Solutions Literature Guide for Because of Winn-Dixie contains 133 pages of student coursework, activities, quizzes, tests, and more aligned with the Common Core State Standards for ELA as well as the NCTE/IRA National ELA Content Standards in English for grades four and five. This Because of Winn-Dixie Literature Guide is the solution to your lesson planning and CCSS stress!

Because of Winn-Dixie Literature Guide includes:
  • Pre-Reading activity on Grief and Loss
  • Pre-Reading activity on Visual Discovery
  • List of Pre-Reading ideas and activities for use before reading the novel
  • Biography on author Kate DiCamillo with corresponding questions about the article
  • Allusions and Terminology defined
  • Vocabulary Lists With and Without Definitions
  • Note-Taking Double Entry Log for each section
  • Comprehension Check Questions, based upon Bloom's Taxonomy
  • Specific CCS-Based Literature Focus Activities on Setting, Point of View, Characterization, Inference, Compaaring & Contrasting, Theme, Conflict, and Elements of Plot
  • Specific CCS-Based Language Focus Activities on Quotations, Capitalization, Homophones, Run-Ons and Fragments
  • Specific CCS-Based Writing Focus Activities on Concrete Words and Sensory Details, Writing Narratives, Theme, Using Informational Texts, and Research Projects
  • Reading Quizzes Every Few Chapters
  • Two Versions of the Final Test - One entirely multiple choice for use with bubble-like testing forms
  • Novel Summary by Chapter
  • Post-Reading and Essay/Writing Activities and Ideas
  • Writing Rubric and Descriptive Rubric for help with grading projects and essays
  • Helpful Teacher Notes, Resources, and Sample Agenda
  • Complete Answer Key

Monday, October 29, 2012

Fluency and a Freebie

These are the Common Core Standards for fluency in second grade:

Click image to download freebie.
2.RFS.4 Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
2.RFS.4a Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.
2.RFS.4b Read grade-level text orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression.
2.RFS.4c Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary.

As I look through the fluency standards for all the grades, they are almost word for word the same as above.

The experts tell us that fluency is directly related to comprehension.  Naturally, if a child is struggling to figure out the words in a text, it's going to be tough for them to get the meaning.  If the words flow smoothly, comprehension is more likely.

The experts define fluency with 4 phrases:
  1. automaticity in word recognition
  2. accurate word recognition
  3. prosody, or expression
  4. sufficient to permit comprehension
So, how do we build fluency?
  • Practice both phonetic patterns as well as sight words. 
  • Practice reading phrases and sentences a few words at a time. (Phrasing)
  • Practice reading simple paragraphs with expression.  
  • Oral Reading with a partner.  (using text of appropriate difficulty... "just right" text! 95 - 100% accuracy) 
  • Click image for Third Grade Dolch phrases.
  • Monitored Independent Reading
Personally, I love having my kids read phrases with funny voices or with certain character traits.  We always manage to have some fun building our skills.

The above freebie is for the pre-primer Dolch level. HERE's a set for Primer Level.  HERE's the First Grade Set.  HERE is the Second Grade Set.  Click HERE for the Third Grade set.  Click HERE for the combination set of all phrases.

Election Day - Child Style

I have mixed feelings about teaching Election Day with my students.  Of course, Election Day is an important day in our country.  We are choosing our leaders.  My little second graders certainly won't "get" the Electoral College process, but they do need to understand how an election works.

However, I'm sure you'll agree, this year's election is out of control.  The ads on TV are nasty and misleading.  People are very passionate about this election, and most feel quite strongly for their own candidate and against the other candidate.  There is a lot of anger.  I just don't want to go there with the children. (I don't want to see a fight break out in my classroom!  Kids tend to be as passionate as their parents about presidential candidates!)

My plan is to do some election day activities without getting into detail about any of the specific candidates. I've made the above freebie to practice common and proper nouns.  It has an election day theme, but never mentions the candidates.

Another idea is to have the children vote for something on a child level on November 6th.  I thought I might have the children vote for their favorite subject in school, or maybe their favorite lunch.  It's a good excuse to do some Opinion Writing (CCSS.2.W.1: Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g. because, and also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.)  This standard is close to the same for all grades... it just goes into more depth as the children get older.

It sounds like another good excuse for opinion writing!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Exemplar Texts for the Common Core - Stories

Did you realize there are several Appendixes to the Common Core State Standards?  The English-Language Arts areas have 3 Appendixes!  Appendix A contains Research and a Glossary.  Appendix B contains Exemplar Texts and Sample Performance Tasks.  Appendix C contains samples of student writing.  The one Math Appendix contains information about high school math courses.

I've been focused on Appendix B and the Exemplar texts.

A few weeks ago I did a post about Exemplar Read Aloud Texts for the Common Core.

I thought I'd do a post about the other Exemplar texts... the ones that are recommended for the children to read on their own.

The Common Core breaks Literature into Three Categories:  Stories, Poems, and Informational Texts.  Here are the recommended Exemplar Texts for grades 2 and 3.  Click on the image to read more about each book at Amazon.


If you're familiar with these texts, you'll notice there's quite a variety of reading levels as well as content, but they all have one thing in common:  they're great stories.  My favorite story as a child is here (My Father's Dragon) and one of my favorite stories that has been published more recently is also here (Tops and Bottoms).

I guess that's why they got the title "Exemplar Texts"!  What other stories for this age group would you recommend?