Answer Me This {Speaking in Complete Sentences}

Since the beginning of the school year, my second graders have been working on writing and speaking in complete sentences.  While both can be tricky, it's especially easy for students to speak in fragments or to communicate incomplete thoughts. 

Every once in a while, I like to have my students focus on the skill of speaking in complete sentences.  That is, I give them time to practice this skill exclusively.

I like to keep things simple when I can, and this activity is perfectly simple.  I typed up a set of questions and printed them on colored paper. 

I told the students that they would review/practice their speaking skills by working with a partner. I further explained that they were required to answer each question in the form of a complete sentence.  I teach my second graders to restate the question, so I reminded them that they needed to do this as they practiced.

Next, I modeled acceptable and unacceptable responses. To do this, I read one of the questions and provided a sample answer.  The students showed thumbs up if the answer was a complete sentence and thumbs down if it was an incomplete sentence.

I then gave the students time to practice their skills.  Each pair of students sat facing one another, and I walked around and provided feedback as they practiced.

At the end of the activity, each student answered 3 questions in front of the class (we sat on the carpet) and I took a speaking grade.  Sneaky, right?  Hehe.  In all seriousness, the skill is aligned with the standards and I could tell they were ready for me to assess their ability.  They rocked it! 

When I assessed them, I used the same questions that they practiced with, and since speaking in front of the class wasn't entirely new to them, they were familiar with the voice level required when addressing a larger group of people. After each student answered his/her questions, the class gave them a Dr. Jean "wow" cheer.  

You can grab these free question cards here

And, in case you were wondering, I did use a rubric to score the students (see below).  You can grab a copy of the free rubric here.

I love the simplicity of this idea.  Our learning strategist suggested it to me last year when I was looking for some new ideas, and it's made an appearance in my classroom several times since then.  I hope you can use the idea too! 


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Apple Fun!

The past two weeks we have been having all sorts of apple fun in my classroom!  Yay for apples!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I kinda sorta love this theme. I think it might have something to do with the fact that it's the first actual theme that we delve into in my classroom.  So, grab a cup of warm cider, sit back, relax, and hopefully take an idea or two with you.  :)

Our apple fun began last week with this nifty little thematic organizer chart that I made. I'd like to say that I drew the apple shapes myself, but I am no artist.  So, I projected some apple clip art onto my whiteboard and traced the outline of each apple onto some butcher paper. 

Later in the day, we had some explosive fun with the infamous apple-cano.  Oh boy, this was a BIG deal!  They loved it!  You can read all about it here.  I was so caught up in the moment that I forgot to take a picture of our erupting apple-cano!  But, here is the aftermath, alongside an adorable recording page from Jennifer at First Grade Blue Skies.

From there, we spent the next several days focusing on apples and nonfiction.  Of course, some great read aloud books were involved! I read all of these books over the course of my unit.  Some were tied to a specific learning activity and some were used as a read aloud.

After I read aloud Amazing Apples, the students used the organizer on the left to write some facts about apples.  They also completed their own mini book about the seasons of an apple tree (on the right) after I read aloud The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons.

This adorable mini book from Sarah Cooley from First Last was perfect for reviewing nonfiction text features.

We revisited one text feature in particular, the diagram.  To really hammer home this concept, we made these super adorable apple diagram hats.  I make these every year.  They make me smile.

The pattern for this diagram can be found in my Apple Fun! unit, but to turn it into a hat, I reduced the templates to 60% on the photocopier so that they were the perfect size for a hat. 

We also read a nonfiction passage about apples and wrote our first constructed response!  We did this as a shared writing, but I was really impressed with my new group of kiddos and their ability to go back to the text to show what they know.  They are super stars!

Tip: I always ask my students to send in two apples each so that we have plenty of apples for all of the activities that follow.  The cost of apples adds up very quickly, so I am grateful for anything the families can send in.
No apple unit would be complete without an apple investigation.  It's a great way to get the students to practice some of those inquiry skills.  Not only are they observing with a keen eye, but they are recording those observations with words (especially adjectives) and pictures, just like a real scientist.

I also set up an apple observation.  I placed some apple slices into various liquids and the students made a prediction as to which one would take the longest to turn brown.  We observed the apple slices for a few days and the students recorded their observations.

In case you were wondering, yes, we sampled some apples!  I asked the students to write about their favorite kind of apple.  However, that's a mighty task for a seven year old when there aren't any actual apples involved.  So, I sliced up some red, green, and yellow apples and had the students taste one slice of each variety.

After sampling the apples, they chose a favorite and wrote all about it!  I opted to write in some question prompts on this prewriting organizer to help guide my students' thinking since we are just learning how to write a paragraph.  (I forgot to take a picture of their paragraphs).

We didn't let that favorite apple activity fall by the wayside.  I had the students share their favorite apple with the class in the form of a class graph.  I gave each student an apple graphing piece. They colored their apple to match the color of their favorite apple from the writing activity mentioned above.  Then, they added their apple to the graph.

We talked about the graph and then the students completed this activity page to match the class graph.

You can grab the complete graphing activity here for FREE. 

And, finally, for fun, we colored these super fantastic apples from Art with Jenny K. I just love her resources!

We also made some applesauce.  I mean, an apple unit just wouldn't be complete without some homemade applesauce!  It was a tasty way to wrap up our unit.

You can find many of the activities featured in this post in my Apple Fun! unit on TPT.


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Sight Words Activities {Weekend Warriors}

Let's talk about sight words.  There are so many ways to practice sight words. I thought it would be fun to quickly share a few of my favorites with you, in case you were looking for some new ideas.  :)

I have a few "go to" activities for practicing sight words in my classroom.  I love them, and so do my students!

One activity that I love is using a Power Point slide show to quickly practice these important words. I usually use this with my small group students. 

I created a few different slide shows using the various Dolch word lists.  Once I created all the slides, I timed them so they would change automatically every 2 seconds.  Depending upon the needs of your students, you might program the transition time to be a bit slower.  Once my group of students is confident in reading the words, we sometimes read them in different voices (whisper voices, mouse voices, monster voices, and so on).

Finally, I like to use sight word flash cards like these to compliment the Power Point slide show.

I use the flash cards a few different ways.  Sometimes, I use them one on one with the students.  Sometimes, I have the students read them in pairs.  In this case, they would sit elbow to elbow, knee to knee and take turns reading the word and accompanying sentence on each card.

Once they can confidently read the cards, I let them time each other.  The partners take turns reading as many cards as they can in one minute.  Sometimes I have them read just the sight word, sometimes I have them read the word and the sentence.  It depends on the group, their needs, and their ability.  They repeat this several times to see if they can improve their "score."  They always love challenging themselves and competing against themselves in this way.

I love that the one minute challenge activity can be used with any set of sight words.  You can grab this recording form here for FREE.  I've included the version shown above, plus a version to use with cards that only have words printed on them.  I hope you can use it!


Be sure to visit the blogs below for more great sight word ideas!

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Assessment...Easy as 1-2-3

Let's talk assessments!  I'm not talking formal, high stakes, controversial assessments here.  I'm talking about the assessments that matter to us teachers. The ones that give us insight into our teaching and student mastery of the standards. 

While I would much rather teach my heart out and never worry about assessments, I know that it is a valuable component of what we do.  But, assessment doesn't have to be complicated!

When I teach, I'm constantly assessing. You probably do the same!  I'm assessing my students as they interact with the content.  I'm also assessing myself. In the middle of a lesson, I might change the entire course of that lesson simply to make sure that the needs of my students are being met. Assessing during instruction can be easy!

Here are a few of my favorite "during instruction" assessments:
  • student responses (if their answers and ideas are really off base, I better go back and reteach that concept on the spot)
  • the use of mini whiteboards (they can quickly answer questions and demonstrate understanding of concepts)
  • Think/pair/share
  • Answer paddles
You can grab these double sided answer paddle labels for free by clicking {here}.  Simply print them on colored paper, cut them out, and glue them to some craft sticks (I glued the word "true" on one side and the word "false" on the other, making them double sided).

Sadly, I can't just assess my students on the spot with a cute answer paddle.  We live in a world where we are required to take grades, so I also assess class assignments, unit tests, and quizzes.  Some of our curriculum works with the Common Core standards so I am able to use many of the tests built into those programs.

BUT, my school requires that we take two grades per category each week. So, that means one topic test every two weeks in math isn't always going to cut it. And, as for those CCSS Language standards...we don't have any curriculum for that!

So, to make sure I meet those grading requirements, I created some CCSS math and language assessment packs.   Now when I take grades, assessment can still be easy!

Easy as in easy to prep, easy to introduce to students, easy to grade.  And, for the busy teacher, that's huge.  I was able to grade an entire class set of this assessment in less than five minutes yesterday.    

Each assessment is just one page long so they aren't overwhelming to the students, and I can correct them with ease.  There are also three assessments for each standard, so if I need to reassess, or collect more grades, I can!  Or, I can review a skill in a later grading period and take a new grade.  #winning

Did I mention that they are easy to use?  The students always understand what is being asked of them, the layout is clean and easy to read, and the only prep involved is running a set of copies. 

And, the assessments are varied. I included both free response and multiple choice options, which gives me a clear picture of how much my students know and what they are understanding.

I also like how versatile the pages are.  On occasion, I have used them with small groups of students when practicing a tough skill.  I have also used them during whole group instruction as practice of a newly introduced skill (and then I still have two more pages left to use for grading purposes).


You can find my math and language assessments on TPT.  Click the links to check them out.  :)
Second Grade Common Core Math Assessments
Second Grade Common Core Language Assessments
First Grade Common Core Math Assessments
First Grade Common Core Language Assessments
Third Grade Common Core Math Assessments
Third Grade Language Assessments

Click {here} for a math assessment sampler freebie.

 Thanks for stopping by today!  

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