Genius teaching idea

Digital Classroom Collaboration with Padlet!

By
Thomasine Mastrantoni and Deborah Goldstein, the Link Ladies

Editor's note: Our much-loved Link Ladies are back with a game-changing nugget of app-style learning wisdom! Here, they explore Padlet, a digital collaborative canvas. As with any Link Ladies-approved app, Padlet is free and simple to use. Plus, it makes reacting to a text super-fun! Try it in your classroom and be sure to let us know how it goes!

Imagine having your whole class of 25 students share what they are thinking simultaneously… sounds like a recipe for classroom chaos, right? Not with Padlet. This app allows every student to do just that. Reading responses, collaboration, and quick assessments at your fingertips. Seeing everyone’s thoughts instantly in one place—a teacher’s dream. And get this… students love it!

The App: Padlet will become one of your all time favorites. A padlet is a digital collaborative canvas. You can post text, pictures, videos, upload documents, share websites or just have a place to keep ongoing lists. Padlets are simple to create, simple for students to use, and having all of your students’ ideas in one place will make it simple for you to use as a check in or an assessment.

Why We Use It: Padlet is a great way to get your students responding to text in an online collaborative space. Since the web address is personalized, students can easily access the padlet anywhere—even at home. With a few clicks and personalizations, your padlet is ready to have students share their thinking. The site is live, so students get to see their peer’s responses in real-time. Another huge part of getting students engaged with their work is this real-time collaboration.

Skill Focus: Collaboration with peers on reading responses; opinion and evidence based thinking

Time: 1 class period (once you teach them how to use the app, you can make it a homework assignment or a center that they can complete independently)

What You'll Need:

  • Storyworks or Storyworks Jr. article (or other text)
  • iPads with Padlet app (FREE in the app store) OR a computer with www.padlet.com
  • A great imagination

First, set up your Padlet: Set up your first padlet before class (it takes 5 mins flat). You do have to set up a padlet account, but it is easy and free. Simply go to padlet.com and sign up. Now you are ready to create your first padlet. Choose Make a Padlet from your Dashboard.

Padlet guides you through the steps to personalize your padlet. At any time, you can click the setting wheel to change or edit your padlet. Start by changing the title and description to reflect what your padlet will be about. We often put our writing prompt or instructions in the description—this makes sure it is visible for students at all times.

Choose how the posts will appear on the screen. There are three layout choices: Freeform (posts will appear wherever you click on the screen—caution, sometimes posts will overlap with others), grid (posts will appear next to each other in a grid format—we find this the easiest to use), and stream (posts will appear in a list). Then, make it engaging! Choose an image that matches your prompt to make the padlet engaging and connected to the learning task/topic.

You can personalize the web address to make it something easy for your students to remember.As you can see, your user name is always the start of the web address.  You can add something simple like “garbage” for your students to make it easy to remember.

Next, choose your privacy settings. You want anyone with the link (your students) to be able to write on the padlet. You can keep it secret, but allow anyone with the link to collaborate OR you can make it public.

Now it is time to have students post. You can share your created padlet in various ways.  You can use a QR code and have them scan and link directly to the page, post the link on your website or in Google Classroom for easy access, or Have them type in the URL on the app.

The Lesson: We use padlet to respond to text all the time. This time we wanted to focus on how to read and extract information from an infographic. Since it’s springtime and we are thinking about being outside, we used the newest infographic "No More Garbage?" from the May/June Storyworks issue.

Discuss how and why an infographic can be used to relay LOTS of information in a succinct and engaging way. We also had a brief discussion about what statistics are and how they can be used to convey information and WOW a reader at the same time.

Give the students a copy of Storyworks Magazine. Talk with them about how to read an infographic. It is not linear. You do not have to read it in order. Information flows in different ways. After students read the infographic, we asked them to choose TWO of the amazing WOW facts and post them to the collaborative padlet. Students were then challenged to come up with ONE solution that they could do to help reduce the amount of garbage.

If this is your first time using padlet, discuss with your students the idea of real-time collaboration. As they are adding their ideas to the page, so are all of their peers—simultaneously.  Some students will need a reminder to focus on their own posts first, then check out what their friends are thinking.

When they access the website, students either double-click or click on the + (bottom right corner of screen) which allows them to start a new post.  They can type their response to the reading prompt (which we have in our description at the top). To differentiate, you can have students who finish quickly search the web and then add an image to their post. This image should support the ideas expressed in their writing.

To view a padlet that our 3rd graders collaborated on, click here.

Padlet can be used in so many different ways. Keep your eyes peeled for our next Ideabook post on how to use Padlet to reflect on your Storyworks school year. THIS idea will make the Storyworks team Jump for Joy!

ELA Meets STEAM in This Fun Roller Coaster Extension

By
Ann Rider and Sandy Tichenor

Editor's note: Ann and Sandy are beloved Storyworks Jr. teacher advisers, and we were so thrilled when they told us about a fun learning extension they came up with for the May/June Paired Texts. After reading the paired texts about the history and future of roller coasters, students design and pitch their own roller coaster ideas! This activity has it all: fun, skill-building, cooperative learning, and a connection to STEAM! The best part: Ann and Sandy have provided you with everything you need to make it happen in your classroom! 

Pitch a Park!

When students interact with a high-interest text, it’s easy to capitalize on their curiosity. Since roller coasters are so intriguing, we decided to go beyond the text and give students a chance to design and pitch their own idea for a roller coaster. This activity follows a close reading of Scream Machines and Want More Thrills? from the May/June issue of Storyworks Jr.

Time: 5 days, working in pairs

Task: Students will be roller coaster engineers. They will draw an original coaster idea including structure, safety features, and theme or special effects. Once completed, students will “pitch” their roller coaster to the class as if they were selling their idea to the owners of Six Flags (or any nearby amusement park).

Student Guidelines: The requirements for student work are that their roller coaster must be fun, safe and have a theme. Pitch should include all of the vocabulary words from the two texts. Direct students to use what they have learned from the articles, their own experience and on websites provided to develop their plan.

Procedure:

1. Read both articles with students. Complete any comprehension activities provided from Storyworks Jr.

2. Introduce the project, distribute the graphic organizer, and share links for research. We posted the project description and links on our Google Classroom. For a list of resources, see below.

3. Give students time to explore resources and sketch their ideas on the graphic organizer.

4. Give students time to finalize their roller coaster plans and draw them on posterboard or large presentation paper. Use markers to make it bold.

5. Use the opinion writing graphic organizer and OREO paragraph planner to guide them in writing their presentation. Links to the graphic organizers from Scholastic are included in the resources below.

6. Use Opinion Words and Phrases page from Scholastic to help students make their writing flow. A mentor text from the Six Flags website that describes a roller coaster is included as a model.

7. Allow students to type their essays and attach it to their poster.

8. Have students present their design to the class, pitching it as if they're speaking directly to the park owners. 

Optional assessment: Students can complete their own Glow & Grow, or have the class vote on best coaster, best presentation, best theme, etc.

Materials: Graphic organizers for planning, plenty of paper for sketches plus poster paper and markers for final design and presentation, Glow & Grow, computers for accessing information and publishing.

Resources:

Graphic organizers/planning documents:

Extensions with STEAM

Roller coasters inspire excitement in third graders, but they are a great application of scientific principles of force and motion as well. They lend themselves well to STEAM exploration in the classroom.  Marble Runs, Knex and classroom STEAM materials can be used for roller coaster engineering and design in the classroom.

ELA Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.1

Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.1.B

Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.1.C

Ask questions to check understanding of information presented, stay on topic, and link their comments to the remarks of others.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.3

Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.4

Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

Fluency and Fun with a Readaloud Play Puppet Show

By
Alison Chaplar

Editor's note: Alison Chaplar came into our world via Twitter, and we are so happy to have met her! When she tweeted about her students creating movies of one of our plays in Storyworks Jr., complete with puppets, we knew we had to have this genius idea for the Ideabook. This strategy is a refreshing approach to the read-aloud play, and we hope you'll be inspired to try it in your classroom!

There is no shortage of great articles in Storyworks Jr. Each week I skim through the magazine wondering which story my students would most relate to. When I saw the play of The Tortoise and the Hare in the March/April issue, I thought, my students would love acting this out! And they did! They loved the play so much that one student suggested we create a movie.

We are pretty tech-savvy in our room, so I gave the students the task of finding the best way to record the movie. We were down to two choices: Toontastic or iMovie. The kids decided to go with iMovie because we had more options to create the characters. From there the students took off. They gave me the task of finding character images online for the puppets. The groups voted on the backgrounds they wanted to use for each scene and we came to a group consensus. The students had so much fun picking their characters and coloring them to match their own individual personalities. After a day of rehearsing, decorating the characters, and finishing the scenery, they couldn’t wait to begin recording.

The recording went great! (Though it was a bit of a challenge for the other groups to control their energy while they waited their turn to record.) We set up a mini recording studio using a box, a ruler, oak tag and play-doh. The kids really enjoyed reading their parts and setting up the studio for each scene. When we were done recording each scene I helped the groups to add our video clips into iMovie to create our featured films! Not sure what we enjoyed more—creating our movies or watching them on the smartboard.

We are definitely looking forward to creating more movies in the future with our Storyworks Jr. stories. Take a look at what we came up with for this project by watching one group's movie here!

Student-Led Learning: DIY Comprehension Quizzes

By
Jackie Rabinoff

Editor's note: Here's our friend Jackie R. from New York, developing a truly fun way to use Storyworks for formative assessment. We love when teachers come up with awesome double-duty ideas like this! It just might be the perfect way to blend student-led learning with formative assessment. Read on and give it a whirl in your classrooms.

Do your students’ parents ask for ways to study with their child? I usually advise them to have their child make his/her own test. Just the act of looking through the notes and creating questions insures that the material is being reviewed. I decided to use that philosophy for an activity in my class, but I took it a step further. Enter Storyworks.

Besides the formative assessment provided by the accompanying activities and writing prompts, I usually use the individual quizzes as well. This time I decided to have the students create their own quiz based on content from the February issue of Storyworks. Not only did this serve as an evaluative assignment, but it was an enjoyable, collaborative learning experience for the class.

I began by dividing my class into equal-sized groups (the number of students divided by the number of stories and articles in the issue). I assigned each group a different selection. I included every type: fiction, paired texts, nonfiction, debate, play, and poem. I then distributed a page I created with specific directions.

Each group was asked to create five Storyworks quiz questions for their designated piece. Each question had to be a multiple choice with four answers and an answer key had to be provided. I also asked each group to indicate the skill they were testing for each question (as does Storyworks’ answer key). I listed some suggestions such as vocabulary, cause and effect, main idea and supporting details, etc…

Creating these test questions gave my students the opportunity to close read for a set purpose and outcome. What better way to fully understand specific reading skills than to create test questions containing them? Not to mention that my students had so much fun trying to come up with challenging questions to stump their classmates. (Shhhhhhh, don’t tell them it was classwork with a precise objective—they thought it was a game!)

To culminate the activity I collected all the questions and answer keys and compiled them to create one cumulative test. I even typed up the same type of answer sheet I use for the regular Storyworks quizzes. My intention was to type the questions too, but we were hit with a blizzard and school was closed for two days. (Welcome to winters in the Northeast!) I used the handwritten copies and added extra credit if anyone could find any spelling or grammar mistakes—the age-old teacher trick when letting errors slip by!

Of course, this test-making activity can be used with any genre in any subject. It’s great for standardized test prep too. So next time you want your students to delve deep into their reading material, try turning the tables and have them make the test. They may just stump you too!

 

 

 

A Text Features Game to Boost Engagement

By
Allie Curtis and Shannon Seigler

Editor's note: Superstar coaches, Allie and Shannon, are back with another winner of an activity: Tabletop Twitter! As soon as you tell your students the name of this activity, we predict they'll be excited! This activity has students previewing text features while "tweeting" their thoughts, comments, and questions. It's fun for kids, and gets them thinking about the text before diving in for a first read. Check out how Mrs. Tiffany Spiva's fourth grade superstars rocked this strategy!  Let us know how it works in your classroom!

Tabletop Twitter is a great strategy for getting all students to interact with text and it gives them a chance to share their thoughts about what they've read. It's a different way of getting kids interacting with text and one another, and it gives us insight into how kids are thinking about and looking at text. We like using the strategy with infographics and text features the most because it gives a fun and engaging purpose for looking at text features. The kids love it because the hashtag format is in their comfort zone and makes them feel like what they're doing is "cool," not just "school"!

How to get started: Cut or copy and glue images or short excerpts from your article onto individual large pieces of bulletin board paper or chart paper. Place the pieces of chart paper around the room in separate locations.

How to choose the text/images: The selection of images or excerpts you choose is key to getting the most interaction and reaction from your students. The selection should be something that evokes emotion or thinking from your students so they will be motivated to write down their thoughts, reactions, and questions.We loved using the thought-provoking sidebars, pictures, and captions like this one in the March/April issue of StoryworksThe Amazing History of American Television.

How to introduce the strategy to students: Discuss what we know about “twitter” and how to tweet. Explain the process so students fully understand: They are to write a comment/question in 140 characters or less, using a hashtag symbol (#) when appropriate. Put a 140-character statement on the board so students have a sense of the length. Set a timer for 2 or 3 minutes and let students know when the timer rings the twitter time is up! Remind students: “Writing is right, but talking is taboo!”

How it works: The students will read the excerpt or caption of a picture, then silently “tweet” their thoughts and/or reactions.  The teacher is moving from table to table re-tweeting and/or writing comments or responding to something already written. When the timer goes off, the students move to the next table and repeat until each student has “tweeted” about each excerpt/image. Students read each other’s “tweets” and respond back to each other by posing a question or comment.

The “tweets” will be posted, so after reflection—and any time during the unit study or lesson sequence—students can return and add more thoughts. Consider this low-tech form of social media a perfect way to build a base of knowledge!

Boost Opinion and Persuasive Writing with a Debate

By
Beth Orticelli

Editor's note: We know that kids tend to get very passionate about our debates, and superstar 2nd grade teacher Beth O's students really took it to a whole new level! We love Beth's simple two-day approach to the debate in the March/April issue of Storyworks Jr. It's one that students have strong feelings about: Should You Always Get a Trophy? We hope it will work well in your classroom!

My class loves to debate. After all, who doesn’t love trying to prove their point or get their way, kids and adults alike!  My second graders have been working on Opinion Writing, and I thought that the article, "Should You Always Get a Trophy," would be a subject that they had a lot of background knowledge about and also some strong opinions.

This was a two-day project. On the first day, and before previewing the article, I had students sit (on top of their desks for more exciting and active engagement) and have a whole-class discussion about their experiences with trophies. What kind of sports are you in? Who has received a trophy before? How do you feel when someone else gets a trophy but you don’t? How do you feel when everyone gets a “participation” trophy? Do you think you should get a trophy, even if you’re in last place? Students were encouraged to support their answers using the word "because" to add their thoughts. They even used language like “I respectfully disagree with ____, because...!”  Since most kids have had experience with this, their feelings were so strong about this topic!

Next, students were given a large copy of the article, so that they could take notes that support both sides. Excitement was building, because most students already knew which side they would want to be on for our big debate! They read the article independently, and then shared what they thought they should highlight together.

Next, students wrote their ideas on the Storyworks Jr. printable, What Do You Think, that utilized both text evidence and ideas from their own schema, proving their point for tomorrow’s big debate.

They chose what side they would be on, and we even had a team huddle and cheer as we prepared for Day 2.

After we practiced our debate strategies, we sat on opposite sides of the room. I stressed to the kids that they should not be a “conversation stealer” and try letting all teammates get a chance to share their point of view. They did a great job of using text evidence and their own personal thoughts. I even had class leaders emerge and ask others to step down to let a quiet classmate get a chance to speak!

The team who debated on the side of “everyone gets a trophy” even had nice, shiny trophy props to try to persuade the other side!

Needless to say, these kids had a blast with this debate! Storyworks Jr. debates are a great way to get kids excited about sharing their opinions while also building speaking and listening skills. My kids are so excited to see what the next Storyworks Jr. debate will be!

Using QR Codes to Enforce Vocabulary

By
Thomasine Mastrantoni and Deborah Goldstein, the Link Ladies

Editor's note: Our beloved Link Ladies are back with another super-doable app-style learning activity! We're sure you've seen QR codes everywhere, but if you're anything like us, you may have found them a bit mysterious. Here, the Link Ladies lay out exactly how QR codes work, how you can make them (trust us, it's easy), and why you should use them in your classroom. This activity links QR codes to vocabulary to deepen understanding in a fun way! 

Vocabulary is a great equalizer. One of the best ways to lessen the achievement gap is to increase students' vocabulary. Storyworks does a great job of using bold text to highlight challenging or Tier III vocabulary throughout its nonfiction articles. Front-loading these words will help to increase your student’s comprehension and ability to interact with the text in more complex ways.

The app: Scan

Why we use it: It's an easy way to engage your students in the content before they even see the article. The app is so basic, any student can use it. The website is a simple way to literally link what students know to the text.

Wondering why we should be using QR codes in the classroom? According to BBCActive.com, QR codes can give direct and simultaneous access to all students to the same resource with the scan of your device in school or at home. They can hold over 4,000 characters of information and are easy to create. They can also be printed on just about anything. Whether you are sharing a web address or a hidden answer to a class question, QR codes are fun and engaging to use.

Skill Focus:

  • Vocabulary Development
  • Using Context Clues
  • Comprehension

Time: 1 class period

What you’ll need:

Frontloading Vocabulary: BEFORE you read the articles, pull out the bold vocabulary words (as well as any other words you think your students will need to know to fully understand the text). Here's the bolded vocab: lure, cultural, anchorman, dedicated, diversity, rural.
Assign a group of students "vocabulary duty."  For the first time, we chose our most independent learners. As you do this more often, give each student an opportunity to get the vocabulary words ready for the class. These students will be responsible for looking up the definition of each of the vocabulary words and creating the QR codes for the class to interact with. In 1-2-3, these words will be ready for the class. Here's how it works:

Go to http://www.qrstuff.com/

1. Click on "plain text" on the lefthand side of the page.

2. Type the definition of the vocab word in the box.

3. Click on the color you would like the QR code to be. Your QR code is now created!

4. Save your code by clicking on "Download QR code." When it asks you to open a subscriber account, just click "No thanks."

Congratulations: You just created your own QR code! It will then create a .png file that you can save on your desktop or copy & paste into a Word or Google Doc for later.
Once your students have all the QR codes saved, print them out.

Lesson Ideas:

You can now have students interact with the words using the Scan app (note that any scanner app will work, but we like the simplicity of the Scan app).  
Your options are endless! You can choose a vocabulary activity that your students already know with the twist of getting the meaning from the QR code.  Here are some other ideas on how to get your students to interact with the vocabulary words.

  • Put the vocab word on a strip of paper with the QR code at the end. Example:

  • As the students read the article, they can use the codes to help them define the words.
  • Scanning is as simple as point and shoot:
    • Open up the Scan app on your iPad or smartphone
    • Hold the device so you see a square to capture the code. It will vibrate when it captures it. Then it brings you to the vocabulary word’s meaning.
    • Students continue to scan as they come across the new words.
  • Have students create a sentence using the new word.
  • Have them draw a picture that depicts the word’s meaning.
  • Have them list 3-4 synonyms they already know that have the same meaning as the new vocab word.

Once you see how simple the QR code generator is, you'll want to find more uses for it. We also create a code each month that links to the answers for some of the questions from the Teacher Resource page for the article. This is another way to extend a student’s learning and offers additional engaging activities for each article—especially for those students who routinely finish early and need a challenge.
If you want to try using QR codes (without making them yourself), here are QR codes for each of the vocabulary words in the Paired Texts articles. You will see how “linked” your students get and will surely want to start making them yourself.  (answers to the math homework… answers to the pause and think questions in Storyworks Jr… the audio for each page of a picture book… the ideas will keep coming to you.) Enjoy!

Anchorman:

Cultural:

Dedicated:

Diversity:

Lure:

Rural:

 

Text Marking Word Clouds For Visual Learners

By
Lisa Shumaker

Editor's note: Lisa Shumaker from St. Charles, Illinois, is one of our secret weapons at Storyworks Jr. She is not only tech-savvy, she is a remarkably gifted teacher. We think your students will love this super-simple but high-impact activity to practice main idea and supporting details. Please share how it works in your classroom this spring.

  • Lesson length: 4 Days
  • Grade: 3
  • Text: "How to Save a Baby Elephant" from the March/April issue of Storyworks Jr.
  • Technology: can be as high-tech or low-tech as you want it to be
  • Instruction type: Small group/independent/Partners

Day 1: Pre-Reading

Small group: Begin by introducing key vocabulary in small group by showing students the Vocabulary Slideshow. Have them hunt for the vocabulary words in the text and read them in context to a partner. Next, prompt students to pay close attention to the headline, subhead, and photos on pages 4-5. Ask students to make observations about the photos and draw upon their background knowledge to make predictions about the setting of the story. After that, read through the headings and have students pause to predict what  each section will be about. Finally, set a purpose for reading: “As you go back to your work spaces, listen to the story read aloud and think about how the photographs and images helped you to comprehend the story.”

Independent work: Students go back to their work spaces and complete the vocabulary organizer and watch the video read aloud as their first read.

Day 2: Active Reading

Partner work: In partners, have students complete a “second” read of the text. Have students use text marking to actively engage with the text. Here are the symbols my students use to text mark, courtesy of Upper Elementary Fun:

Set the purpose for reading: “Today as you read the text, use the text marking strategy to practice active reading to enhance your comprehension.” As they read, they should be answering the Pause and Think questions verbally with their partners to monitor comprehension. 

Day 3: Close Read

Small group: To check for comprehension and understanding, have students share their reactions to the text by giving an example of one place in the text they marked and why. Then, establish the purpose of today’s read: “Today when we read, we will be focusing on finding evidence that shows how humans can affect elephants.” Next, conduct a think-aloud by reading the first section of text. “I notice that the authors have used some pretty bold/powerful word choices to describe what poachers do and how they affect elephants.” Model highlighting some of those strong words in the text (ex: killed, illegally, dies, orphans). Inform students that these words help the reader to visualize the negative affect that poachers have on elephants. Have students read through the next section with a partner, reminding them that they are highlighting words that show how poachers affect elephants. Have students share out the words they highlighted.

Partner work: Send pairs of students back to their work spaces to read through the rest of the article highlighting the positive and negative affects humans can have on elephants.

Day 4: Skill Building

Small Group: Begin by setting the purpose for learning: "Today we are going to be working on finding the main idea of this article." Pass out the Main Idea Reading Kit to students. Have students read aloud the definition of main idea provided on the Reading Kit. Next, explain to students that they will be generating word clouds to help them visually represent the main idea of the text. Model for students how to create a word cloud using this website. Have students contribute to the creation of the word cloud by suggesting words that should be included. Below is an example from our lesson:

Lastly, as a small group, use the visual word cloud as an aid to fill in part of the Main Idea Reading Kit. 

Independent Work: Share the link with students so that they can create their own word cloud. Have students import the words they highlighted that show ways humans can positively affect elephants. Students can choose whatever symbol/shape for their word cloud that they feel best represents the main idea of their word cloud.

Have them use their word cloud to independently fill in the remainder of the Reading Kit.

STAAR Test Prep - 5 Days of Nonfiction Fun

By
Dana Canales

Dana Canales is a relied-upon Storyworks teacher advisor from Spring, Texas. She teaches in a Title 1 school. Dana's voice is so important in our editorial ear, as teachers across the state are preparing for their state assessment all year long, and more rigously in late winter. We love that Dana totally gets that Storyworks can be the "spoonful of sugar" in her regular TEKS lesson planning, and can be used as amped-up STAAR practice too! You've got to check out how she works a recent nonfiction article into 5 days of test-prep for her fourth graders. 

Storyworks has always been a staple of my STAAR preparation. There's no other resource in my classroom that covers every genre tested on our state test here in Texas. What follows is a sample week in my class using the nonfiction article “Disaster in Space” from the February 2017 issue of Storyworks.
 

Monday: This day is all about vocabulary. Each table of students is given index cards with words from the article. They are to find the word in the text and record the following information on the back of its index card:

  • Page number and the sentence it is found in
  • Recording of any words in the sentence that help them determine a definition
  • Dictionary definition after discussing which definition is correct

I also have incorporated word study by having the students underline the base word and identify prefixes or suffixes as they apply.

When each group is done, they share their results with the class and we clear up any mistakes.  I used Storyworks' vocabulary page to orally quiz them.

Tuesday: I began our reading rotations on this day. Groups 1 and 2 consist of students who struggle in fluency and other skills such as inferencing and main idea. Groups 3 and 4 consist of above-level and gifted students. This day all groups watched the video and read the article independently. I assigned each group a section of the article and students recorded themselves reading it through the Seesaw app. This allows me to listen later to the recordings and take notes on fluency for individual work later.

Wednesday: Main Idea and Supporting Details

Groups 3 and 4 worked in pairs to complete the Storyworks main idea activity and share their answers in group discussion. Groups 1 and 2 used a boxes-and-bullets graphic organizer to identify the main idea and details from a given section of the article.

Today we also used the article as reinforcement of our mentor sentence lesson in writing, which was contractions and possessives. Groups were assigned a section and highlighted all the examples they found and labeled them as contractions or possessive. We had some great student-led discussions!

Thursday: Text Features

Students in groups 1 and 2 discussed the text features with me using the Storyworks questions as a guide. Groups 3 and 4 brainstormed a text feature they would like to have seen in the article and why. These were recorded on a poster so all the group could see and share.

Friday: I used the Storyworks noninteractive quiz on two levels. I love these quizzes as they cover a variety of TEKS and I make the kids find their text evidence by highlighting answers in the article.

Again, this is just a sample week in my classroom, but from now until STAAR, I will be going through the magazine focusing on one genre piece per week focusing on skills my students need to work on and review. I also use the poetry as well as Word Nerd and Grammar Cop as key review and test-prep. We're going to be ready come STAAR time!

 

 

Making Science Connections with Storyworks Jr.

By
Beth Orticelli

Editor's note: See how superstar second-grade teacher Beth O serves up a great curriculum tie-in to her science standards using our Paragraph Power article from the March/April issue of Storyworks Jr. It's about an incredible kid named Khloe, who took initiative to help homeless women in her community. Frankly, we never even thought that it could be connected to science! Take a look at this innovative way to use our Paragraph Power article and see if it can work for you.

As we get busier and busier with new curriculum each year, I am always searching for ways to integrate science and social studies into reading and writing.  One article in the March/April issue of Storyworks Jr. really seemed to tie in to our Next Generation Science Standards for second grade: Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.

I made my reading groups a copy of "This Kid is Changing Her City," so that they could easily take it around the room and talk about matching it up to the Engineering Design Process we are starting to learn about. (We have student-made posters for science around the room.) 

After reading about how Khloe, a 9-year old girl, made a difference in her city and possibly beyond, students were searching for that always-important text evidence that would support how she developed her plan.

They could easily relate to the first step of designing something, which is ASK. They were able to locate the proof they needed that Khloe had noticed a problem with homeless women and then asked her mom how she could help them.

Next, she learned about and MODELED strong fabric bags that would last a long time and hold items like soap and socks.

She was also able to EXPLAIN how homeless people might feel just trying to survive. This happened to be exactly the process that we've been talking about in class when we discuss people who make a difference!

Students were eager to point out that at the end, she EVALUATED her idea, realized it was a success, and now wants to make it even bigger by bringing it to Africa. My kids were inspired to think about how they could make a difference.

The best part is always turning around the teaching, and letting students make their own connections to the design process. With use of schema and text evidence, my little second graders were able to read and search the text for what they needed, and our ELA resource offered up the perfect science lesson.