Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Try it out Tuesday: Sticky Note Sentence Combining Strategy

This is the first in a weekly post I'm doing titled "Try it out Tuesday" where I test strategies or ideas that I've found on Pinterest. How many times do we pin something with plans to use it, but never do? Guilty! It is my hope that this weekly(ish) post will give me the boost I need to try out new ideas! I hope that it will inspire you as well :) 

Good intentions never change anything. They only become a deeper and deeper rut-Joyce Meyer

Today's Try it Out Tuesday comes from a pin I found from Rudy's Room 

First, I wrote important quotes from chapter one of The Great Gatsby and put one of the quotes on each group's work area. Then, students got a sticky note and were told to write the significance of the quote on the sticky note. I stressed that this was silent and independent work. Next, I did a mini lesson on sentence combining (we also looked at some standardized test questions regarding this skill since the EOC is coming up). Lastly, groups practiced sentence combining by discussing all of the answers and combining their answers into one really good consensus.

I loved it! The students really liked it too, and it also served as a great way to assess their knowledge without giving a reading quiz. I will for sure use this strategy again! It can work with any open-ended question!

If you would like a copy of the form I used, click here for a free Google Doc From:
Sticky Note Sentence Combining 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

6 Ways to Have a Book Club With Your Teenager or Tween

Let me preface this list by saying that I don’t have any children of my own yet, but I teach about 75 teenagers a day and have a dog and husband, so that makes me an expert on parenting right? HA. Jokes aside, I don’t think parents realize just how much their own reading habits and interest in books affect their child’s love of reading. A simple “Oh I’ve read that book, and it’s really good” can make a huge impact! Without fail, students ALWAYS mention it to me when their parents say something about the book they are reading. I think students are completely surprised that the books they read in class are relevant for all generations. Comments like these got me to thinking about how wonderful it would be if parents could do even more to boosts their child’s interest in books!

 Here are six ways to foster great reading habits and create a “book club” environment with your teenager:
1. Discuss during dinner

In a study by Purdue University, researchers found that children who frequently partake in family meals have, “Improved vocabularies and reading skills, improved achievement test scores, greater academic achievement, [are less likely to] smoke, drink, or take drugs, [are more likely to be] courteous and conversational” (“Family Meals spell  S-U-C-C-E-S-S”). However, if you are eating together often, chances are that you may sometimes run out of things to talk about unless the, “What did you do in school today?”….. “Nothing” conversation takes up your entire meal time . If this is the case, then you eat even faster than I do (teachers know how to wharf down some food ya’ll—a 20 minute lunch break? I can do it in 10 and still have time to run a few copies).  :)
All of that to say this, sometimes it helps to have some things to talk about during dinner. Book discussions can be great for the dinner table! If you have read the book in the past or are reading the same book with your student, it will make it easier to discuss, but if not, you can always use Sparknotes, but shhhh PLEASE don’t tell!
 Discussion starters:
· What do you predict will happen next?

· Which character are you connecting with the most?

· Which character is your least favorite right now?

· How do you think this book would be different if __________?

· What have you learned about life from this book?

· What significance does the title have?

· What surprised you the most about this book?

· How important is the setting and time period to the plot?

· Are there any particular quotes that stood out to you?

· What is motivating _____________ to do _____________?

· Have you read any other books that are similar to this one?

· What was your big takeaway from this book?

· Was the ending satisfying?

· What was an interesting fact you learned from this book that you never knew before?

· Did this book change your opinion about anything as you read it?
2. Cook something together

Take the dinner discussion idea a step further and have a fun night of cooking together! You can check out my free culinary project here:   Culinary Symbolism Project-Based Learning Activity

Yes, you will need to create an account to download the project, but you will be amazed at what else you will find on this site. The Language Arts Classroom wrote an insightful post about why every parent should use Teachers Pay Teachers. You can find that here: 5 Reasons Parents Should Use Teachers Pay Teachers
3. Have a movie night

You can find the companion movie for almost any book nowadays. I was actually in a book-turn-movie club a couple of years ago, and we only read books that were being turned into movies. We met once a month to discuss the book and watch the movie in theaters. It was a lot of fun! There are also tons of already released  book-inspired movies that you can rent for an at home movie night and book discussion.

 Here are some conversation starters for after the movie:

· Which did you like better, the book or the movie and why?

· What things did the book do better than the movie?

· What things did the movie do better than the book?

· How was the movie able to capture certain scenes with only images and music that it took the book paragraphs to   describe?

· Did you like the actor/actress that was chosen to play ______________? Why?

· If you were directing the movie, who would you have chosen to play ______________? Why?
4. Find interesting articles & documentaries to accompany the book

Sometimes while reading, you will come across something interesting that you plan to look up later. Unfortunately, that later doesn’t always happen, but we all need to make it happen because that spark of interest is the key to life-long learning. For example, the main character in the book I’m reading right now is a music therapist. It immediately reminded me of an amazing documentary I watched titled Alive Inside, so I reviewed what I had learned from that film, and looked up some other interesting articles on music therapy just for fun. You and your son or daughter could do the same! Make it a point to jot down things you want to          research and take the time to explore those interests.

 5.  Have an art and craft night
I’m a high school English teacher, and I can assure you that high school students still love to color, draw, and craft; artistic expression is timeless. Teachers love doing these types of projects with their students, but rarely get to due to lack of time and supplies. There are tons of ideas floating around Pinterest, but here are some of my favorites:

 · Create a Blackout poem from a book page that captures a theme from the book (My book-loving heart wouldn’t let me black out a real book page, but it would be cool to do with photocopies!)

· Design a book-related shirt using just paper and markers or a real shirt on a site like Custom Ink

· Find holiday related book art projects such as my free Literary Easter Egg Symbolism activity, book inspired Christmas ornaments, or painted pumpkins.  

· Turn the themes of the book into a children’s book using one of my favorite programs of all time, Storybird. It’s a free site where you can use beautiful illustrations to form your own digital book.

 6. Plan a vacation together or take a Google Lit Trip
Vacation planning is one of my favorite things to do. In college I planned out a “Reading Road Trip,” through the New England states researching places like Walden Pond and Poe’s death site knowing that I could never afford that trip until years later, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that it was fun to dream.
So many times a book’s location or an author’s geographical background plays a huge role in the books we read. Capitalize on these opportunities and plan out a trip with your child doing research on the locations you want to see to get a better insight of the book. You will be promoting life-long skills such as researching and planning as well as interdisciplinary skills like geography and economics. There’s also this really cool program called Google Lit Trips where you can follow famous characters throughout their journey on Google Earth. You can click on various locations to find out more about each setting.

Want this list in a nice and neat printable format? Click here: Link to Book Club Ideas 

  I hope that you give some of these ideas a try!

The gift of reading is best when shared!

Xoxo, B’s Book Love