Thursday, July 21, 2016

Point of View in the Elementary Classroom

Below are some of my favorite books to teach Point of View! Don't have them in your library? Listen to them on Youtube as read alouds.  Still great opportunity for modeling and stopping and taking notes.  We does this a couple times a week to focus on a skill or these are also available in a listening center 

Two Bad Ants is a great and funny story following 2 ants and some trouble they get into. Written from the ants' perspective it is great to introduce this concept!

I, Doko is a beautifully written story with a simple and thoughtful message.  This book is timeless and really hits the heart of readers.  It adds a great cultural perspective for students as well and can bring up many discussions.

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs is quickly becoming a classic.  This fractured fairy tale sheds light on the wolf's feelings in the story.  Such a unique story really easily helps identify point of view.

 A. Lincoln and Me is a great story that touches on historical notes while focusing on point of view.  The main character recounts similarities between himself and Lincoln.  Learning facts and searching for clues through this historical context is a great addition to a point of view study.

I love a 2nd person POV book and not many for upper elementary exist.  This book definitely fits the bill.  It engages students and gets the point across.  The tone (no matter who is reading) helps students realize 2nd person POV.  Such a fun read aloud to incorporate!

I love the Flocabulary Point of View song and using pictures to help determine and write our own point of views as well. Below is a link to the listening center with focused point of view questions for the stories above.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Inferring in the Elementary Classroom

 The Sweetest Fig is about a man who makes an unwise choice not to believe in the special figs.  This book leaves you to make inferences until the very last page.  It makes a great inferencing book because so much is left up to the reader to put together.

Teammates is an awesome historical book about a rough time in American history. I love that this book appeals to the boys in my class as well.
This provides a perfect example of how to make inferences about characters in the book and proving them with details.

How Many Days to America is another great historical tale that leads readers to put the whole picture together. A family's journey to a new land is the perfect background for students to infer about characters, setting, and plot.

Fireflies is such a descriptive book.  It leaves the reader deciding important information about the boy's decision and what will happen in the future. I think the illustrations really give this book a leg up and help the reader understand better the story.

You could apply so many skills to this amazing traditional tale. Theme is extremely important but is easily tied in with the plot where the reader must infer what happened to the people.  Although this book appears to be less "modern" I do think it has great value especially in lessons for bigger kids - upper elementary.
All 5 of these stories are in a Inferring QR Listening Center pack in my store or you can read on Youtube.  They come with rigorous test prep questions. 

I love to start the year with inferring as we need this skill with every book we read on our own or with the class.  Knowing what this big word means also helps students feel more confident when it comes to testing time.

I also have a Drawing Conclusions Listening Center available.  All the research I found showed that inferencing and drawing conclusions were very similar both not proved in text but what a reader decides.   I do believe the language of "what conclusion can you draw?" or "What conclusion can be made?" are important for students to be exposed to as well.  I use them almost interchangeably because of how close they are and students only need them to help break apart questions. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Setting in the Elementary Classroom

   This might be my favorite book I've found since really up-ing my picture book game! This is excellent for setting as each person in the family vividly describes their favorite place and how it all ties together with a new sibling.  So Precious!!

 This book is great for details that reflect the setting.  You can feel the imagery used as if you were actually there.  It provides great discussion points as well!

This story is so heart warming.  Not only does it have a great lesson but is set in a place that is intriguing.  Students dive right in and are caught up immediately.  Paying close attention to details leads to a great discussion of setting.

My Great-Aunt Arizona is an awesome nonfiction book to use with setting.  I love getting the chance to use nonfiction in this context.  The places/time period discussed are easy to connect with history and backing them up with text evidence is a great bonus.

  Silver Packages is a great story! I love the imagery in this book.  It's a fun story set in Northeast region of the United States.  The change of setting for a short time in the book is a great focus as well.  A boy receives packages each year by a mysterious donor and it follows his life as he learns a lesson coming full circle.

I love finding details to support setting and focusing on the time, place, and year, season, date --- all of the parts that show exactly what the setting is. 

All 5 of these stories are available in a QR Listening center in my store.  There are also available to listen to on Youtube. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Character Traits in the Elementary Classroom

  This beautiful story showcases the juxtaposition of character traits in a great way among the two daughters.  The idea of a traditional tale makes it great to teach a wide variety of topics.  I love the cultural aspect and how well it fits.  It has many great examples and is a great starting point for character traits.

This a heart warming story that showcases a great message for any age.  Its characters are authentic and presented with a problem that takes some creativity to solve and keep the town together.  Awesome for studying characters and analyzing their thoughts, words, and actions.

 This classic tale is great to analyze through the lens of character traits.  Either Camilla or her family or even the doctors each of their perspectives and words can easily show how they feel about the stripes.  This book is always a class favorite and looking at the how and why behind the characters is a an easy fit.

This book is truly outstanding.  This great historical tale of making a quilt that leads to freedom would be great in many parts of the curriculum.  The imagery is fantastic, but the characters are easily to relate to and resonate with the readers.  There are so many examples and discussions of character's actions that make this a great choice every year.

Golem is another classic tale rooted in Jewish history.  The clay figure comes to life to help protect and then is called back after his mission is over.  This book brings up really great discussion and questions for students but helps study characters because you see both positive and negative in people.  This is another great story to analyze.
All of the above stories are in QR Listening Center Pack you can see more about by clicking on the picture.  They are great stories to illustrate this message and the rigorous self checking questions take it a step further. 

I also love to make a great anchor chart for character traits and make sure to differentiate between physical and behavioral traits.

We always use "prove it" words to show the examples that were illustrated in the story.

I love to have a list of example traits that students glue in their notebooks and can refer back to.  We do this often during the year since this topic can be brought up with nearly every story.  Almost always we refer to positive traits and I think it is worth noting that negative traits do have their place to in helping analyze behavior.  That is one of the reasons I like to include traditional tales because they showcase this better than some other books. 

There is also something to be said about the rich vocabulary that comes with discussing character traits.  Usually the words seem large at first and breaking them down and talking about them is crucial for students.  These always show up on standardized tests and half the battle is understanding and breaking down those words.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Library Events 2.0 with FREEBIE

I'm so excited to share these library event cards!

I stumbled upon the idea in a variety of places but originally from The thinker Builder - Michael has some fantastic posts that I can't believe I haven't found him before! Tara and Kelli also designed their own and I used some of their ideas for our classroom!

Basically these cards will go in the adhesive 3.5x3.5 pockets from Dollar spot I have put up on our whiteboard calendar.  These could easily just be tacked up with anything though.  On the back of the cards are the descriptions of the event in case I would forget!  Here are the 18 I included for our class this year!

I plan to do these maybe 1 a week for a couple a month - nothing to heavily planned but just to keep interest in our library! Are there any others I should add?

You can download using the link below - I left editable because my printer feed backwards on other side so you might have to move the text boxes!

Here is where you can download a copy - here - I left in Powerpoint since there is no clipart and you can change the fonts if you choose.  I used KG Skinny Latte, the Fighter and Fall for you.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Theme in the Elementary Classroom

I love teaching theme.  Usually teaching 4th grade students have heard and had experience by the time they come to me.  Below are some great stories and activities I love to do with theme! I alwa!ys like to reinforce that theme can *apply to anyone's life *be a lesson/moral *does not include any character names

  This story is such a great lesson for any age! A boy learns a valuable lesson when the emperor is choosing his successor.  I love the cultural element this book provides as well!

Mr. Peabody's Apples is a fantastic book to illustrate theme. A boy learns just how much a rumor can damage a reputation and how hard it is to get it back. I love how relatable this book is.  The lesson can truly be applied to any child in a way they understand the consequences of their actions.

Miss Rumphius is just beautiful.  This book has underlying themes that my students just love -this is always a favorite!  The artwork that accompanies it as well is just outstanding.  Miss Rumphius is on the road to making the world more beautiful, fulfilling a final wish.  It speaks on more than just a surface level - to your heart as well.

 This book is quickly becoming a favorite.  Although finding the theme takes a little synthesizing, I love taking that journey with my class.  The illustrations and point of view the story takes make it a fun and quick read but the layers below the surface really bring up some good discussion points and about cooperation!

This book is a stand out picture book! The girl misses a crucial opportunity to be kind and it reflects upon how that effects her.  The book is great for elementary students and is packed with essential lessons that students need to know!  The figurative language really bring this story to life. 

If you like any of the stories above - they are included in my Theme QR Listening Center along with rigorous questions and text based evidence proving theme.  They go hand in hand with my instruction on the topic during that week!  Check them out!


I love making anchor charts to study theme.  We use our read aloud and explore that and other stories daily to examine the theme.  

There are some great FREE worksheets you can find here!

My kids also do this great sort between theme and main idea.  Some need this extra reinforcement!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Summarizing in the Elementary Classroom

I'm so excited to share about summarizing in the elementary classroom! It is a essential skill that we work on heavily in grades 3-5! I'll share some of my favorite books to teach this strategy and some other fun ways we incorporate it in class.  I love summarizing because I can use fiction and nonfiction books like the ones suggested below and it works out great!


 This is a beautiful nonfiction book! I love how it showcases his life before and what brought him to the towers.  This is a great reminder of the Twin Towers and what they represent.   A nonfiction book with enough plot to sustain an easy summary - win win!!

The Librarian of Basra is another fantastic nonfiction book! I love that this book gives a glimpse into a place that students might not normally choose for books and showcases a real problem and solution that faces that country.  It is very thought provoking and brings up questions thatcan start a great discussion!

This book is just a plain ole gorgeous tale! Easy to follow and perfect read aloud because so many children can relate in so many ways.  A great beginning book to sequence and summarize without losing track of too many details.

My Name is Georgia is another nonfiction biography tale but written for children.  I don't think kids get exposed to these enough.  We study biographies at the end of the year and I love how the versions can really hook readers.  They can relate!

This book showcases her history, education and evolution of art in a great way. The art is awesome!  This book is one we do later in our study because students tend to put too many details in and we really focus on what a summary means!  

This book again is another fabulous tale!  It could be used to teach so many skills but I love it for summary. Focusing on the events of the story and really honing in what happens just bring this story to life!  

A boy and grandpa looking for work for the day leads to an eventful day with a big lesson learned. 


  If you want specific QR linked listening Centers with rigorous questions - you can click the picture to preview them! We love them in our class and it gives my students practice with the skill! You could summarize other books in a listening center but in testing grades this gives us a boost!  These ask "What is the best summary?" from a variety of choices and I find that is extremely tough in the beginning and is great practice!

Post It Note Summary --- my students are already grouped in desks.  I give each table 5 post and they put the 5 parts - somebody, wanted, but, so, then.  We put the post its in order and compare with other groups.  We all did the same story but you could do different ones at each table.

SCOOT - place task cards at each group - rotate as groups and write short summaries for each.

Whole class- I make an anchor chart of SWBST - (somebody, wanted, but, so, then) because we start this so early in the year it is the easiest way to get started.  Later in the year we talk about plot and other ways to check summaries!

Summarize your read aloud - we (I!!!) always forget that we model reading strategies and have a book we are all reading.  Use you read aloud to help model your skill or focus for the week.  This is often an exit ticket or entrance slip in my class.  They have to summarize the book so far or just one chapter.  Easy to do in guided reading but can also be a focus for whole class and jumping off point for the day.

Into the Book - Summarizing - I've blogged about this site many times and it never fails! IT IS FANTASTIC! You can do this whole class - on iPads - in computer lab, but students have to summarize what they read as they go! No right or wrong but great practice with short stories.

I always click - no login -- doesn't matter if it saves and saves time and one more login to remember.  It has other strategies on there as well!!