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Reading Comprehension Strategies


Comprehension strategies can be fun!  Adding in Thinking Marks helps reading comprehension activities become a lot more engaging, especially when students get to use sticky notes!  My students just love using Post It notes during guided reading.  Or anytime really!

Reading Comprehension Strategies using Thinking Marks

I like to help students be more intentional with their comprehension as they read.  Using thinking marks anchor charts and bookmarks helps them to achieve this.  

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Reading Comprehension Strategies using Thinking Marks

The thinking marks anchor charts are included in the My Reader's Notebook.  This interactive reader's notebook can be found here.

Reading Comprehension Strategies using Thinking Marks

At first, students seem to use use the heart, or favorite part, of the story a lot.  But they soon move into using the other thinking marks.  I am always amazed when they use the ? or confusing part mark to get help on words or parts that they didn't understand.  It is powerful to have other students in the group help each other when someone has used this mark.


Reading Comprehension Strategies using Thinking Marks

Nonfiction texts always seem to get a lot of surprising marks!  I guess we all like fun facts that we didn't already know!

Reading Comprehension Strategies using Thinking Marks

A couple of my groups are so engaged when they are using the I agree because... or I disagree because...  They love to try to prove their points!

Reading Comprehension Strategies using free Thinking Marks bookmarks

If you are looking for ways to get students to use text based evidence thinking marks and the I agree/disagree posters are the way to do it in a fun way!  

Reading Comprehension Strategies using free Thinking Marks bookmarks

As soon as I ask students if anyone marked a surprising part or important part or any of the others, students immediately go to their book, open it and find that section.  That is exactly what I am wanting...students getting back into the text to prove their thinking!

Reading Comprehension Strategies using Thinking Marks







Reading Comprehension Let's Roll

Reading Comprehension Questions for Deeper Conversations about Text

We have the most fun and the deepest reading comprehension conversations when we are using these differentiated learning cubes!  Actually, we use them in lots of different ways in the classroom, but reading comprehension questions have really been a fun way to get students to having deeper discussions about texts they have read. 

Reading Comprehension Questions for Deeper Conversations about Text

 Some of my reading groups are reading fiction and some are reading informational texts.  I was looking for a way to up the engagement for comprehension discussions and a way to take their discussions to a deeper level.  Some of the the links below may be referral links, which means,  I will earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Reading Comprehension Questions for Deeper Conversations about Text

I have these differentiated learning cubes and already knew the students enjoy working with them.  

Reading Comprehension Questions for Deeper Conversations about Text

So we used the cubes for comprehension questions too.  I chose questions that would fit the particular text they were reading and the conversations just took off!  Using the reading comprehension question cards made a big difference in the students excitement to talk about the books!  

Reading Comprehension Questions for Deeper Conversations about Text

Besides having all those reading comprehension questions for informational text, I have 60 cards for fiction text too!  There are so many ways to use the cards:
  • guided reading small groups
  • literacy centers
  • reading interventions
  • Scoot
  • discussion circles
You could have 2 packs of cubes, load them up with the appropriate cards and have 6 different discussion circles going.  These areas could all have the same text with different questions or different texts all the students have read.  Then students could rotate to the different areas after a timer goes off.  Really, the possibilities are almost endless in how you could use them!

Reading Comprehension Questions for Deeper Conversations about Text

Using the I agree because... and the I disagree because discussion stems helped students have more meaningful conversations with their peers!  They were not allowed to interrupt as a student was answering their card after having tossed the cube to see what would be their question.  But after the question was answered, students had wonderful discussions about why they disagreed or agreed.  The conversations were at a much higher level than any other time.  Several were discussing how they were going to go home and look up a particular point they had discussed to see who was correct in their thinking!  WIN!!

Reading Comprehension Questions for Deeper Conversations about Text

The cubes come in a pack of three and are soft. This means no noise of cubes banging around on desks or floors!

Reading Comprehension Questions for Deeper Conversations about Text

Each cube has a plastic pocket where you can slide cards into them.  You can find these reading comprehension question cards- Let's Roll!- here.


Reading Comprehension Questions for Deeper Conversations about Text


Reading Comprehension Questions for Deeper Conversations about Text

You can find my other ideas and ways of using these cubes by clicking here.  So many ways to use them for letter identification and phonics skills too.


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Family Literacy Night Activities It's A Lawn Party!

Family Literacy Night Ideas and Activities for Lawn Party

Family Literacy Nights are so much fun!  The secret to having successful family nights for us is to have lots of games, good activities, free food, and lots of fun!

Family Literacy Night Ideas and Activities for Lawn Party

This year our theme (we always pick a theme- do you?) was It's A Lawn Party.  We chose games and activities families might do if they were at someone's yard party.  But we held it in the gym in case it rains.  Like it did.  And almost always does!  Some of the the links below are referral links, which means,  I will earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Family Literacy Night Ideas and Activities for Lawn Party

We greet our families with a welcome table.  Here is where families sign in, pick up a treat bag for each child and a Family Night Passport.

Family Literacy Night Ideas and Activities for Lawn Party

The passports this year looked like this.  I like to have a passport to help families move around to the different activities.  That way they have a chance to visit all of the areas and games.

Family Literacy Night Ideas and Activities for Lawn Party

We decorate the doors going  in to the gym too.  This is a piece of one of the doors with lawn signs.

Family Literacy Night Ideas and Activities for Lawn Party

The treat bags had a piece of candy, pencil, a couple of games and a pack of cards for playing math games at home.  Each child receives a bag as soon as they come in.

Family Literacy Night Ideas and Activities for Lawn Party

One of the stations in the Parent Survey.  We are required by state to have parents fill out a survey on our Title program.  We offer this survey on computers and on paper pencil to parents.

Family Literacy Night Ideas and Activities for Lawn Party, Bingo for Books

One of our most popular games of all time is the Bingo table.  We have a long cafeteria table covered with a decorative tablecloth, place Bingo cards and Bingo chips at each spot so families can just sit down and start playing at anytime.  When they win they go to another table and choose a free book to keep.  We have free food and free books at every family night.  The food brings the families in and we get to put free books into the children's hands to take home.  Win, win!

Family Literacy Night Ideas and Activities for Lawn Party

The other popular game for the night was Corn Hole.  It was a definite hit!  Be sure to have workers stationed here so it doesn't get too wild!  We played it differently than normal.  I didn't face the boards to each other.  I was afraid bean bags would be flying through the air towards people eating!  We placed them up by walls and that helped a lot.

Family Literacy Night Ideas and Activities for Lawn Party

Besides having yard and board games to play, we also had a drawing.  We give away books from the book fair and lots of yard games that went with our theme.  You can check out the games by clicking the links below.  It's all about getting families together and having fun!

Lawn Games:

Board Games:

You can also find our Family Literacy Night Scavenger Hunt activity here.

And our Family Literacy Night Pirate themed Scavenger Hunt activity here.




Flipping for Plants Life Cycle and Parts of a Plant Flip Book

Plant Activities Plant Life Cycle and Parts of a Plant Flip Book

It's spring and you know that means it's time for plant activities in the classroom!  Learning about plant life cycles, parts of a plant, what plants need to grow...Some of the the links below are referral links, which means,  I will earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Books for your plant unit and plant activities

Kids are so enthusiastic about learning how flowers and plants grow.  These books are a great addition to your collection.  Have you read If You Plant a Seed?  Vibrant colors along with a meaningful message that ties planting seeds with the message of planting seeds of selfishness or seeds of kindness.  Love it!
  
You can view these books here:








Plant Activities Plant Life Cycle and Parts of a Plant Flip Book

You can find this FREE Flipping for Plants flip book here.  It will be a great addition to your spring plant unit!

Plant Activities Plant Life Cycle and Parts of a Plant Flip Book

The inside of the flip book has a space for writing about the plant topics for each page and a space for drawing too.  Students can add drawings, diagrams, labels, etc...

End of the Year Memory Book Activities

I created these End of the Year and Summer Time Flip Books to help students and teachers plan their end of the year activities and summer time plans.  You can find them here.

Summer Time writing activities for the classroom

The Summer Time Flip Books have super cute sunglasses to go with the theme of summer!

Summer Time writing activities for the classroom

These flip books can be used with or without the toppers.

End of the Year Memory Book Activities

Either way, they make a fun book for students and if you hang them up, they make a super cute display!

Flip Books for the holidays and seasonal times




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5 Tips for Hiring A New Principal


It's that time of year when schools sometimes find themselves in the position of seeking a new leader, a new principal.  Have you been there before?  We have.  More than once.  Now is a good time for tips for hiring a new principal.

Tips for Hiring an elementary school Principal
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 As everyone knows, finding the right administrator for your building is crucial. It can make the difference between a school year reaching new heights, a year of just moving along or even a season of discord and feeling lost.  

Tip #1- Know What Your Building Needs Are


Tips for Hiring an elementary school Principal
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If you are on your building's hiring committee, you know this is an important task to undertake.  It is an duty to be taken seriously.  You need to know what the needs are overall for your building.  Not just for yourself or for one or two teachers.  But overall, what areas does your school need someone to step in on day one and be a leader?  Is it literacy, core instruction, discipline, staff morale or school culture?  Whatever it is, make sure you know what is most needed for your building.  This will be key to helping you find the right person for the job.

Tip #2- Know the Style of Leadership Your Staff Responds to Best

Tips for Hiring an elementary school Principal
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Every group of people will respond and react to different leadership styles in various ways.  So the hiring committee needs to consider this.  Does your school staff like high energy, on the move, take charge personalities?  Do they respond better to changes if someone makes the tough decisions and then lets them know what the changes are or do they want to be more involved in all the decisions?  Some school's staff love change and challenge and others handle change if it comes in small amounts at a time. One is not better than the other...just different and you need to know what will fit with your group of people best so everyone can get on to the job of educating students in the best way possible.

Tip #3- Get to Know the Candidates

Tips for Hiring an elementary school Principal
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The hiring committee needs plenty of time to not look over, but really get in and read with a critical eye over the resumes, letters of reference, and form their own questions for the days of interviewing.  Do they really have experience or was their principal experience that they listed filling in a day here and there.  Which is good, by the way, but it is not the experience of a full day, every day principal.  Is your school in a situation where a great candidate, but one who lacks experience, could still come in and learn on the job and it could still go well?  Or is your need one of a leader to come in and deal with tough situations on day one?  This will help you as you consider who to call in for an interview.

Tip #4- Know the Candidate's Knowledge

Tips for Hiring an elementary school Principal
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This is an important tip to understand.  Dig in a bit to the candidate's answers to your questions.  Do they have an in-depth knowledge of literacy, differentiation, PBiS, PLC's, etc....Or are they throwing in these buzz words because that is the trend or they think you as a committee are looking for them?  They need to be specific in their knowledge and not use general answers to your questions.  It should be pretty easy to tell who really has knowledge of important educational issues and who does not know have that in-depth knowledge.

Tip #5- Know What Questions to Ask

Tips for Hiring an elementary school Principal
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You have a limited amount of time with each candidate, so the questions the committee will be asking needs to be thoughtful and for a purpose.  Your committee should spend some time on these to make the most out of your interviews.  Ask specific, open ended questions.  Ask tough questions- have they ever had to fire a teacher- tell us about how you handled it.  What discipline problems have you faced and how did you deal with it?  What will you do when you have a angry parent screaming at you about the way a teacher has handled a situation?  Getting the tough questions out there will help you learn about the candidates, what they will bring to your school if chosen, and how well they will fit with your building's needs.

Hope these tips help you if your school is seeking out a new leader and you are on the hiring committee!  I would love to hear about your experience with this!

You May Need:

Reading interventions Fluency Activities and Passages
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Inflectional Endings s, es, ing, ed Reading Intervention Binder
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