Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Little Fall Never Hurt Anyone...

10 days until I get to see my family for THANKSGIVING!!! I don't know what I'm more excited for: Eating until I enter a turkey and mashed potatoes induced coma, or enduring the hot mess of Black Friday shopping…it's going to be a tight race.

We had an extremely short week this week: No School on Monday in honor of my hubby Veteran's Day, and an early release day Friday for staff development.  Sooooo….we had to make a little bit go a long way this week!

Thanksgiving always seems to come and go so quickly.  I find it hard to focus my time on plans with it being sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas. I always use the same "fall themed" books in November.  Below are some of my go to's:

The Little Yellow Leaf was a book that was recommend to me by my sister in law who loved it.  After checking it out on amazon, I knew I had to have it for the illustrations alone.  The story is about a little, yellow leaf who isn't ready to let go of his tree in the fall!  Super cute, and teaches a great lesson about the importance of friendship, too. :)

The book entails some rather tricky vocabulary for second grade, so I thought about ways to get them more involved in the text while I read it to them.  Determining unknown {vocabulary words} is a skill we practice constantly, but it's an extremely important one for them to really learn, understand, and use in their day to day reading!

I gave each child a vocabulary chart listed with 8 words from the story.  I chose these 8 because I thought these words would be meaningful enough that they would want to use them in their writing (we're having the "let's not use those boring words anymore" conversation daily).  Each child chose a book nook in which to record their thoughts on what each word meant.  If they had NO CLUE what the word might mean, I had them place a ? in the box.

After everyone had recorded their thoughts,  I showed the children picture cards of each word.  After seeing the picture under the word gave them a huge clue as to what the word might mean.  I had a list of the definitions hanging on the wall to help students determine the meaning of each word.

Before reading, I had the students listen for the word that was coming up {located in order on their student chart, and on our large class chart as well}.  When they heard the word, they gave me a THUMBS UP alerting me, we needed to stop, backup, and reread to determine the meaning. After determining which definition matched the word, we reread the sentence omitting the vocabulary word, and replacing it with the definition to check for understanding.  Students then recorded the definition on their chart, along with the CLUE of how they were able to determine the meaning {picture, reading on, schema}. They loved saying, "SCHEMA" all day long after this.  In the past, we've called it prior knowledge, but I figured after the 60th day of school, they were ready for the real deal. :)

It was great for each learner to compare what they knew at the beginning of the lesson to the end--they love competing against themselves!

For independent practice, students wrote a persuasive note using their new vocabulary words PERSUADING the Little Yellow Leaf that it was time to let go!  Their notes were really sweet and I even had a few kiddos write  poems!

Download the resources above HERE!

Later in the week, we read the story, Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert.  This is another great story for fall!  The Leaf Man travels to different places after getting blown away by the wind.  As he blows away, he transforms into various creatures/ objects associated with fall.

 My first idea was to have my friends create their own Leaf "Creature" and write to tell about his/her adventures.  The more I thought about it, the more I wanted something…just something more.  Then I realized,  this book is very similar to inkblots….I'm not sure if any of my kiddos would know what an inkblot was…why not have the kids make their own inkblots….and write to persuade others to see what they see!?

My inkblot thought: Transformers Suit
So of course we did just that.  I started with a simple smart board file of some random inkblots I found online and modeled my think aloud of what they looked like to me and WHY {persuasion example}.  Then they kids split up and wrote their own thoughts on several other inkblot examples.

Students then did a "Hand Up, Pair Up," and compared their thoughts with a friend.  They gave feedback to each other while discussing as to whether or not they saw what their friend saw.  It was so interesting to see their thoughts and ideas!  Was great for all levels of learners since there was no "right or wrong" answer.

We made our inkblots using black washable paint, white paper, and a skinny paintbrush.  I shared with them the goal was "not to make a picture on purpose" but to make random designs and brush strokes, which then would make a totally awesome looking inkblot.  After they were happy with their design, we folded them in half, pressed down firmly so the paint would copy to the other side {making a somewhat symmetrical picture}.  I must say, they really were cool looking!  B even said they looked like the ones he had to take for his own psyche test!  #missionaccomplished

I saved the accompanying persuasive writing prompt for next week.  Students will choose a random inkblot and write what they see.  They will have to persuade us to see what they see by drawing on their friend's inkblot to finish the picture.  I can't wait to see their creativity take action next week!

You can download this activity HERE for FREE!  

Our Turkey Disguises are due next week, when we will present them to the class along with our stories of how they got away.  {FREEBIE here} I'm wondering if any of them will be dressed up as one of the Robertson boys due to our Duck Commander Theme last week.  Only time will tell I suppose!

Try it Out!

Try using magazine holders to house all of your materials for the week!  I used inexpensive magazine holders, school themed scrapbook paper, and the all amazing Mod Podge to create these little beauties.

38 days until Christmas…but who's counting???? ;)



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