August 18, 2016

Parent Communication - Your Key To A Successful Year!

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.  Research says that good communication between teachers and parents contributes to a student's educational success.  We all hope to have a fantastic school year with great parent communication.  This post, along with this cutting edge (and FREE) application, will pave your way to a wonderful year!!!



Parent Communication - Your Key To A Successful Year!

Research says that good communication between teachers and parents contributes to a student's educational success.  We all wish for a great year with open and easy communication.  This post, along with this cutting edge (and FREE) application, will pave your way to a wonderful year!!!  

How I Got Started!

I didn't believe it myself!  A free app that was going to change the way I communicate with parents?  All I knew is that it had to be easier and less time consuming than what I was doing before!  When my students were at lunch I was frantically writing notes to parents.  If I wanted to keep student tests on file I had to make photo copies so that I could send them home.  If there were special moments in class that I wanted to share I was making a trip to the local corner store to get photos made.  All of this nonsense stopped the moment I downloaded the Remind App! (Remind: Safe Classroom Communication   formerly remind101)

The Set Up:
Research says that good communication between teachers and parents contributes to a student's educational success.  We all wish for a great year with open and easy communication.  This post, along with this cutting edge (and FREE) application, will pave your way to a wonderful year!!!

I was amazed at how easy remind was to implement.  After downloading the app onto my phone I received a message from remind.  The message gave me instructions on how to have parents join my "class".  They simply text a class code to a certain number, fill in basic information (like their name so I know who they are), and they are done!  Their information stays private and so does mine!  Within one day all of my parents were signed up!  I sent home the letter that you see below.  Please feel free to use it to help you!

Research says that good communication between teachers and parents contributes to a student's educational success.  We all hope to have a fantastic school year with great parent communication.  This post, along with this cutting edge (and FREE) application, will pave your way to a wonderful year!!!

Research says that good communication between teachers and parents contributes to a student's educational success.  We all wish for a great year with open and easy communication.  This post, along with this cutting edge (and FREE) application, will pave your way to a wonderful year!!! Woah.... I Never Thought of That!

These are the reasons why you should use remind:

*most everyone has a phone
*communication through text message is easy and private
*you can type or dictate your message
*you can follow classes for ideas on how others use remind
*you get immediate responses! (No waiting for the folder to be returned)
*you choose if you want an email, text, remind message or a combination
*business hours can be set so that you won't be contacted before or after certain times (the parent is notified about this via friendly message)
*when you go to send a message the app will ask you if you really want to send a message (if outside of business hours)
*you can send individual and/or group messages
*group messages can include information on field trips, snow days, report cards, test days, assignments due etc.
*individual messages can include pictures of activities, test results, encouraging messages etc.

What It Can Do For You!

This application can be used to keep in contact with parents and it can also be used to remind students that have the application downloaded.  I am a primary school teacher and I have enjoyed how easy it has been to communicate with parents.  If you teach upper grades you can communicate with students on this app and remind gives you and the student user guidelines to keep communication safe and appropriate.  

The parents that I worked with last year immediately responded with messages of, "I love this app!"  They started communicating with me on a more regular basis too.  It made it so easy for them to get on their phone and send me a quick message on their way out the door.

Here are some examples of actual correspondence in my classroom:

Research says that good communication between teachers and parents contributes to a student's educational success.  We all hope to have a fantastic school year with great parent communication.  This post, along with this cutting edge (and FREE) application, will pave your way to a wonderful year!!!






Using the remind app I could quickly take a picture of a student test and send it to their parents.  No need to make photo copies to keep in a file.  The parents were so thankful to have quick feedback. I could take the picture and send it from school or home!




Research says that good communication between teachers and parents contributes to a student's educational success.  We all hope to have a fantastic school year with great parent communication.  This post, along with this cutting edge (and FREE) application, will pave your way to a wonderful year!!!




My class was fortunate enough to watch the life cycle of butterflies!  Of course my students would go home and tell their parents all about the changes they were seeing in our butterfly house but the pictures I would send brought their stories to life!  This picture is from our butterfly release day.  All of my friends were waving goodbye to the butterflies.  I loved that I was able to share this moment with the parents on remind.







Research says that good communication between teachers and parents contributes to a student's educational success.  We all hope to have a fantastic school year with great parent communication.  This post, along with this cutting edge (and FREE) application, will pave your way to a wonderful year!!!






Our School has a sock hop every year.  At one point my class took a break from dancing to have a picture taken.  I was able to share this fun photo with all of the parents!










Research says that good communication between teachers and parents contributes to a student's educational success.  We all hope to have a fantastic school year with great parent communication.  This post, along with this cutting edge (and FREE) application, will pave your way to a wonderful year!!!





During indoor recess this little friend was so proud of herself after she used Lincoln Logs to build this amazing little house!  She said, "I wish my mom could see this!"  I thought for a moment and remembered..... I CAN SHARE IT WITH YOUR MOM!  I took this picture and sent it off right away. 





 What Will You Do?

Have you ever heard of Remind?  Do you know anyone who uses the app?  What are the things that you love about it?  What challenges have you come across?  Will you download the app after reading this post?  Please let me know what you think about it!  I can't wait to hear!!!



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Research says that good communication between teachers and parents contributes to a student's educational success.  We all wish for a great year with open and easy communication.  This post, along with this cutting edge (and FREE) application, will pave your way to a wonderful year!!!



August 15, 2016

Easy, Last Minute, Sight Word Crafts

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.  Studies say that sight word acquisition through fun, hands-on activities will lead to student engagement and  build strong fluency. With very little time and effort, you can create simple and captivating activities for your students!  This post will give you 5 specific ideas to get those creative juices flowing!  Have fun!!!

Studies say that sight word acquisition through fun, hands-on activities will lead to student engagement and  build strong fluency. With very little time and effort, you can create simple and captivating activities for your students!  This post will give you 5 specific ideas to get those creative juices flowing!  Have fun!!!



Easy, Last Minute, Sight Word Crafts

It Doesn't Have To Be Difficult 

How many times have you put off doing some wonderful classroom craft because you simply don't have the time?  It happens to me all of the time.  Another issue is the cost!  Everyone who teaches knows that this is not a career...... it's an expensive hobby!  We use our own money all of the time in our own classrooms.  The following ideas for sight word engagement in your classroom can be differentiated to suit different levels, they are easy to create, and they are inexpensive!  Have fun and get a pedicure with the money you have saved.... you deserve it!!!


Studies say that sight word acquisition through fun, hands-on activities will lead to student engagement and  build strong fluency. With very little time and effort, you can create simple and captivating activities for your students!  This post will give you 5 specific ideas to get those creative juices flowing!  Have fun!!!

 Building Blocks

These adorable building blocks are $3 at Target!  They come in a clear zipper closing container.  Students can build using different sized blocks and wheels.  I used calendar labels that I had left over from last year's calendar to differentiate.  The container is labeled so that students and helpers in the classroom know what "color" labels to look for.  My blocks cover all preprimer, primer, 1st, and 2nd Dolch sight words.  The student must be able to read his word (you could even have them put that word into a sentence or ask a question using that word) before they can build with it.  I have 2 sets of these and the students beg me to use them! You can also find these at garage sales and save even more money!

Studies say that sight word acquisition through fun, hands-on activities will lead to student engagement and  build strong fluency. With very little time and effort, you can create simple and captivating activities for your students!  This post will give you 5 specific ideas to get those creative juices flowing!  Have fun!!!

 Fluency Sentences

Using colorful sentence strips I made these fluency sentences.  Each color strip represents a different level of Dolch sight word.  The levels are endless but I have preprimer - 3rd grade sight words.  On the back of each piece I have a number.  If students mix up the sentences they are easily reorganized.  I was fortunate and I didn't have to pay for the sentence strips but Lakeshore sells 100 of these colorful strips for under $5.  A sharpie and a pair of scissors and my project was complete.  This has helped my students with sentence structure, reading, and writing.  You can even have your student write the sentence once they have put it together.  My students love to grab a set of fluency sentences for morning work.

Studies say that sight word acquisition through fun, hands-on activities will lead to student engagement and  build strong fluency. With very little time and effort, you can create simple and captivating activities for your students!  This post will give you 5 specific ideas to get those creative juices flowing!  Have fun!!!

 Popcorn Game

I have seen many versions of this game but this one is my favorite!  I printed out popcorn shaped clip art onto card stock to create this game.  The bucket is only $1 at the Dollar Tree store.  I found the card stock (250 pack) for approximately $6 at Walmart.  I had plenty of card stock to make multiple levels of Dolch words for leveled game play!  You can also differentiate by adding directional game cards.  On my preprimer cards a student may pick a popcorn that says, "POP".  This means that they have to put all of their popcorn back in the bucket.  For the 2nd grade level it may say, "Give your popcorn to the player to your right." 

Studies say that sight word acquisition through fun, hands-on activities will lead to student engagement and  build strong fluency. With very little time and effort, you can create simple and captivating activities for your students!  This post will give you 5 specific ideas to get those creative juices flowing!  Have fun!!!

  Dice Roll

To create my sight word dice roll I use my story retell cube.  I received this one from a friend (the best way to get new resources) but you can find this at Oriental Trading for under $7.  I like to put our sight words of the week in the cube.  The student then can have a choice to roll and write three sentences using that word.  Illustrate and write a story using that word.  Sing a song using that word.  Do jumping jacks while saying and spelling the word.  They can also do a combination of the above choices.  To save money I have also made cubes like this using a simple box that is wrapped with wrapping paper and covered with clear, packing tape.  The I use packing tape to create pockets!  It's fun and quiet when it rolls on the table!

Studies say that sight word acquisition through fun, hands-on activities will lead to student engagement and  build strong fluency. With very little time and effort, you can create simple and captivating activities for your students!  This post will give you 5 specific ideas to get those creative juices flowing!  Have fun!!!Cup Stacking

Using Dixie cups I made these stacking cups.  I have also seen teachers call them "Towers of Power".  You can store them in washed out Pringle containersI bought 200 cups for under $4 at Walmart.  The students must be able to read the word and have their partner check it before they can build with it.  If their tower falls they have to start all over again.  This keeps them working quietly and carefully.  I have the sight words written in different colors to keep them organized.  If they get mixed up with another level of Dolch word they are easily noticed and put back into their proper place.  Before the students can take their tower down they read the words again.

Share Your Great Ideas:

Do you have some fun games in mind that have helped your students flourish as readers?  We want to hear it!!!  Please share here!  Let us know how much it cost, the time it took, and how it was implemented into your classroom.  As always, I am so excited to hear your amazing ideas!









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Studies say that sight word acquisition through fun, hands-on activities will lead to student engagement and  build strong fluency. With very little time and effort, you can create simple and captivating activities for your students!  This post will give you 5 specific ideas to get those creative juices flowing!  Have fun!!!


August 9, 2016

Brain Balance Makes Sense For Disconnected Kids!

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful HeatherBrain Balance® has done extensive research (through their founder Dr. Robert Melillo) and found that "disconnected students" often have imbalanced communication between the left and right brain hemispheres.  Wouldn't you like to have an answer for those students that have behavioral, academic, emotional and social struggles in your classroom/school?  Well, learning about Brain Balance® may be the answer you've been looking for!  

Brain Balance® has done extensive research (through their founder Dr. Robert Melillo) and found that "disconnected students" often have imbalanced communication between the left and right brain hemispheres.  Wouldn't you like to have an answer for those students that have behavioral, academic, emotional and social struggles in your classroom/school?  Well, learning about Brain Balance® may be the answer you've been looking for!


Brain Balance® makes sense for Disconnected Kids!

 

How I Was Enlightened

Have you ever been somewhere and met someone and you knew that there was a greater meaning and purpose for this meeting?  This happened to me!  A few years ago I was in a Barnes & Noble children's section with a small friend who was searching for a book.  She was attracted to a woman face painting and soon was being beautifully accessorized with paint!  Brain Balance® was there and they were packing up and getting ready to leave yet they gave us 100% of their attention.  That's when I started a conversation with Tom Shenk.  Tom was an educator in the Hampton Roads area for 22 years.  Some of his experience was as a Physical Education instructor.  His work with students academically and their physical ability in P.E. classes influenced his studies on how physical activity can effect brain function.  These studies led to him being honored as Teacher of the Year in Region II of the entire state of Virginia!  He has an immense amount of knowledge but speaks like a caring educator with terminology that is understandable.  It is immediately apparent that he cares about struggling students, their worried parents, and concerned teachers.  I hope someday you can meet him too!
Brain Balance® has done extensive research (through their founder Dr. Robert Melillo) and found that "disconnected students" often have imbalanced communication between the left and right brain hemispheres.  Wouldn't you like to have an answer for those students that have behavioral, academic, emotional and social struggles in your classroom/school?  Well, learning about Brain Balance® may be the answer you've been looking for!
Tom Shenk is the Center Director for the
 Virginia Beach, Virginia Brain Balance Center


Brain Balance® has done extensive research (through their founder Dr. Robert Melillo) and found that "disconnected students" often have imbalanced communication between the left and right brain hemispheres.  Wouldn't you like to have an answer for those students that have behavioral, academic, emotional and social struggles in your classroom/school?  Well, learning about Brain Balance® may be the answer you've been looking for!

A Great Read!

The book Disconnected Kids is a great read and it also explains in depth the idea of treating children with using Brain Balance® instead of prescriptions.  If you have time this book is a must read!  Tom Shenk gave me the last copy he had that day I met him and the book changed the way I think about autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and other neurobehavioral disorders.  

Think About It

Imagine that your left leg is not as strong as your right leg.  This effects the way you walk, it's not comfortable for you, and you feel different..... and maybe less than.  You go to your physical therapist and they look at your leg, ask you questions, and test the strength of your weaker leg.  After this initial appointment the physical therapist helps you strengthen that leg with specific exercises, stretches, and challenges to balance the weight that you carry onto both legs comfortably.  This is common and everyone can agree that it's the smartest solution to get back to feeling "normal" again.  So... why is the brain any different?  If there is a right and left hemisphere they can have an imbalance and the same care needs to be implemented.  That is where Brain Balance® comes in.  The same kind of appointment can be set up for students being challenged with behavioral, academic, emotional, and social issues.  The first step is to make an appointment.  At that appointment questions are asked and the student completes a 2-3 hour Comprehensive Assessment that tests the child's sensory, motor, and cognitive functions.  Once the testing is complete an individualized plan of action is created and discussed.  Each appointment is specific to the needs of the student, and as they complete fun movement, sensory, and cognitive activities that stimulate only the weaker hemisphere, it's processing speed improves.  As the two hemispheres begin communicating properly, the symptoms reduce naturally, without medication, so that the child's TRUE POTENTIAL emerges!


Brain Balance® has done extensive research (through their founder Dr. Robert Melillo) and found that "disconnected students" often have imbalanced communication between the left and right brain hemispheres.  Wouldn't you like to have an answer for those students that have behavioral, academic, emotional and social struggles in your classroom/school?  Well, learning about Brain Balance® may be the answer you've been looking for!  Community Outreach

Tom Shenk honored Chesapeake Reading Council by offering a free educational learning session about Brain Balance® at their yearly Reading Teacher of the Year celebration.  He had educators up and moving and expanding their knowledge about how the brain works.  Everyone who was present was astounded that more isn't done to help struggling students with these behavioral, academic, emotional, and social issues.  When planning professional development time into the new school year consider inviting Tom Shenk and learning about Brain Balance®.  He knows what you are dealing with and wants to help (remember he 


Don't Just Take My Word For It!  

Please visit the website for Brain Balance® and read all about it.  Read impressive success stories and learn about free community events happening in your area.  My hope is that in the future the idea of balancing the hemispheres of the brain can be implemented in public schools to help our students!  


Tell Me! 

Have you ever heard about Brain Balance® before?  Have you read the book Disconnected Kids by Dr. Robert Melillo?  Would you like an answer for those students who are struggling?  What questions do you have?  I look forward to hearing from you!






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Brain Balance® has done extensive research (through their founder Dr. Robert Melillo) and found that "disconnected students" often have imbalanced communication between the left and right brain hemispheres.  Wouldn't you like to have an answer for those students that have behavioral, academic, emotional and social struggles in your classroom/school?  Well, learning about Brain Balance® may be the answer you've been looking for!







June 25, 2016

Parental Involvement Perfection!

As seen on Virginia is for Teachers!

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful HeatherResearch says that students that have involved parents do better academically! Would you like to boost parental involvement in your classroom?  Well, you already have the ability!  This post (along with an awesome book) will give you the push you need to ensure parental involvement perfection!   

Would you like to boost parental involvement in your classroom?  Well, you already have the ability!  My post (along with an awesome book) will give you the push you need to ensure parental involvement perfection!

Parental Involvement Perfection!

Would you like to boost parental involvement in your classroom?  Well, you already have the ability!  My post (along with an awesome book) will give you the push you need to ensure parental involvement perfection!
Summertime is the perfect time for teachers to reflect and prepare for the next school year.  Many teachers also enjoy reading (by the beach or pool if we're lucky).  Using the book RAISING A ROCK-STAR READER: 75 Quick Tips to Help Your Child Develop a Lifelong Love of Reading, you can empower your student's parents and pave your way to success as a classroom educator.

(photo credit:  Cathy Collier The WISE Owl)


 
I implore you to share your knowledge with parents.  We may assume that parents know what to do with their emergent readers when they don't.  Hand over your wealth of knowledge to parents and watch your students flourish.  Together teachers and parents can create students that want to read and love to read.  RAISING A ROCK-STAR READER is segmented into ten chapters.  Each chapter captures the essence of the strategies used when teaching reading.  You'll be treated to game ideas, how-tos, dialog, and more on the following subjects:
Would you like to boost parental involvement in your classroom?  Well, you already have the ability!  My post (along with an awesome book) will give you the push you need to ensure parental involvement perfection!

  • best books at all ages
  • technology used for academics
  • speech development
  • concept of print
  • phonemes
  • phonics
  • learning the letters
  • rhyme
  • emergent readers
  • the writing connection 
  • fluency, comprehension, and more!  


 Ideas That Have Worked!

Would you like to boost parental involvement in your classroom?  Well, you already have the ability!  My post (along with an awesome book) will give you the push you need to ensure parental involvement perfection!
Every week I send a newsletter home to parents.  In each supplement there is a section about reading.  I simply discuss something that would help their students grow as readers.  You could write about a new app for sight words, questions to ask students after reading, or simply how to read with them.  There are many parents that don't realize that reading a recipe, a bedtime story, or looking for letters in the environment while on a road trip will help their students.  What I thought was a very simple idea has been loved and used by many parents over the years.  Of course you will have to think of ideas every week.  If you have difficulty with that you can use the 75 hints in RAISING A ROCK-STAR READER.  Ok...... I'm no math genius but with 36 weeks of school........ there are plenty of options and choices for you! 

Remember, when you are talking or writing to parents they may not be familiar with terms like concept of print, schema, fluency, visualization, or sight words.  It is very common place for us to use those words but it scares parents and makes them feel closed to the partnership that we are trying to forge.  Make sure you are using vocabulary that is common to them without speaking over their heads.  

RAISING A ROCK-STAR READER will also help you when planning parent/teacher conferences.  If a student is having difficulty with rhyme a parent may not know what to do.  Teachers have resources to help their students in the classroom but we need to come up with some quick and easy ways to implement those strategies at home and this book is full of amazing and engaging ideas. 

At the beginning of the school year and the end of the school year I send home a list of apps and websites that are helpful academically.  If our students are spending a portion of their summer on a device I want the time to be meaningful!  RAISING A ROCK-STAR READER gives you a list to start with...... the work is already done!

Something To Look Forward To:

Inspired by RAISING A ROCK-STAR READER I plan on including 3 items in every newsletter next school year:
  • a book that we've read in class that the students enjoyed
  • a fun activity to play with the family at home (hangman which I call smart student) 
  • a new app or website to help academically 
Would you like to boost parental involvement in your classroom?  Well, you already have the ability!  My post (along with an awesome book) will give you the push you need to ensure parental involvement perfection!

Remember above all make sure that families know that reading is FUN!  As you can see I lead by example...... whenever my family sees a statue we pose and read to them. The (reading) statues on the campus of William & Mary are perfect for that!  My family always encourages reading when potty training!  Reading can be done everywhere and a sense of humor is helpful!

What Will You Do?

Let this post inspire you to use your knowledge to empower parents and make them feel like they are part of the team!   Let us all know how you are motivating parents to be involved with their own student's success.  I can't wait to hear how you get parents involved!!!

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Would you like to boost parental involvement in your classroom?  Well, you already have the ability!  My post (along with an awesome book) will give you the push you need to ensure parental involvement perfection!


May 25, 2016

It's in the bag!!!

Originally seen on Virginia is for Teachers!

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful HeatherAre you at that point where your kids are just bored with sorting words? Do you need a hands on way to keep those bored students engaged? Well, today's post will be just what you need. My students have loved making these books, and I know yours will too!
Looking for new ways to engage your students? Try these bag books for a hands on approach. This post explains how they're made and used.

It's in the bag!

Using simple paper lunch bags you can create meaningful study guides for your students (I also call them bag books).  Your creativity is your limit!  I find this activity most helpful in small differentiated groups.  In my first grade classroom I currently use these bag books to make sight words, sentence knowledge, and word families.  My students cannot wait to add to their bags.  These bag books are kept inside student pencil boxes and used multiple times daily.

Supplies:

You won't need much to make bag books!  For each student I use 3 paper bags.  You can buy already designed bags, white paper bags, or the original brown paper bags.  Grab your hole punch, some string, yarn, or ribbon, and decor!  I use leftover name tag labels, stickers, and markers.  3x5 cards will be used inside the bag (so make sure you have some handy for later). 

How To

You can be creative here but this is how I make my bag books.  Using three bags, alternate the way the open end faces each time you place one on top of the other.  Fold all three bags in half (creating the book shape) and make a crease.  Take your hole punch and place a hole at the top and bottom of the book's spine (on the crease).  Now students can decorate their own bag by choosing colorful string to bind the book.  The book is ready to be personalized. 


Sight Words

On a chosen page of the book bag I have my students write "sight words".  We discuss that there are words that we each have to work on and know quickly to make us awesome readers.  I choose three words at a time and the student is allowed to pick two that they are having difficulty with.  They write these words themselves on 3x5 cards.  If they need a picture clue they can draw it on the other side of the card.  These store beautifully inside the pocket made from folding the bag.  As students master their words we add more (and send the others home to continue to practice). 





Word Families
This is my absolute favorite way to teach word families!  Before I present the books to the students I cut the bottom bag flap.  In the picture above I cut four times to create five small tabs that can be flipped back to reveal a letter.  In preparation I also write the word family boldly on the left.  When the students come to small group we have a conversation about rhyming words and the word family that we are working on.  The students that were working on the "at" family chose the words cat, fat, rat, mat, and bat.  Other students were working on the "ip" family and they wanted to use the words hip, rip, sip, lip, and ship.  Students are then guided to write the beginning letter (c for cat) and draw a picture to match.  When they are working with this activity the illustration gives them assistance in remembering the word family words.

Sentence Knowledge

 How many times do we make an anchor chart teaching editing skills that go completely ignored?  This is a fun and engaging way to have students actively pay attention to sentence structure.  Your students will need to pay attention to capital letters, punctuation, and spacing.  The above pictures show that you can manipulate and differentiate to fit any student's needs.  For my present class I use the center pictures.  The headings remind them that sentences should "start with an upper case" and "end with .!?" (punctuation).  They write an example on the page and draw arrows from the rule to the portion of the sentence where it is shown (above top right).  Inside the pocket (created by the bag) we keep editing sentences we have been working on.

Adjectives and More!

It's fun to use a bag book for parts of speech.  The example to the left is used for adjectives.  They could write their name and draw their picture (or add a school picture).  Inside the flap they can describe themselves.  Think about the possibilities........ students could describe the regions of Virginia, states of matter, list proper nouns!

What will you do?

This is an inexpensive way to get students excited about work!  A pack of 100 bags can be found at any dollar store.  Think ahead and ask parents for a pack on your supply list.

So.... how will you use a bag book?  Please share your ideas and let everyone know what is working for you?  How many pages will you try?  What grade(s) do you teach?  The sky is the limit with these bag books and I'm so thrilled to hear how you choose to create and implement!  Have fun.... because it's in the bag!!!






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Looking for new ways to engage your students? Try these bag books for a hands on approach for teaching sight words and word families. This post explains how they're made and used.

May 20, 2016

17 FUN Comprehension Strategies

Originally seen on Virginia is for Teachers!

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather back for the third and final post in my series. In case you missed them, I began with sharing a view of my classroom on Sunday, a glimpse of me doing what I do, and today, I am sharing a bit of what I've learned so far.

17 FUN Comprehension Strategies 

If you are looking for fun and attention grabbing comprehension strategies this post is for you! You will be treated to 17 exciting comprehension strategies that can be implemented before, during, and after reading. Have fun!
From left to right:  Amanda Hunley, Heather Waild, Kristen Roth
This past March was very exciting!   Along with two co-teachers/friends, I presented at the 49th Annual Virginia State Reading Association Conference.  We worked hard to make sure that teachers went away with strategies that they could implement immediately and effectively.  We called ourselves "The Comprehension Queens" and thanks to Honey Side Up Creative, we were also made into cartoons!

At The Guided Reading Table

Here are some comprehension ideas that you can use at the guided reading table with your small groups.
This activity is called "FLAG IT when you READ IT".  The two above are differentiated for ability and grade level(s).  It's a great use for the flags that are used for page markers in college.  I have a laminated version of this page for my reading table.  Each student receives a set of flags with different colors.  When they are reading and they find one of the identifiers they grab a flag and stick it in the book.  When I see a student reaching for a flag I usually stop my readers and say, "Oh!  Did you find something?  Tell us!"  There have been wonderful 'light bulb' moments using this idea.  Students also are more aware of a purpose for reading when this is introduced. 
This fun game/activity is called "Roll a Response".  After being guided, you could put this activity into a listening center for an 'after-reading activity'.  There are four included here (two for fiction and two for non-fiction).  The teacher can choose which one to use depending on the text given.  If you are sensitive to noise, please use the foam dice that you can find at the dollar stores.  A student simply rolls the die and answers a question that correlates with the number rolled.  If you laminate these boards they can be used year after year!
 
 Some students struggle with learning how to wonder.  It seems as if it would be very natural but that is not always true.  When I saw this book about the Inupiaq people, I knew that it would be a great cover to introduce 'wondering' with.  You can see that one of my students wondered, "Is she in bed?"  After all of the students verbalized what they wondered, they wrote them in the bubble portion of the activity sheet.  As we were reading, students were encouraged to let us know if they found out the answer to what they just wondered.  This student wrote about the fur that the Inupiaq people wear when she found out that the girl was not in bed, she was wearing a fur coat.



As we sit at the guided reading table we know what kinds of questions to ask.  BUT wouldn't it be nice to have someone write them all down for you?  These guides are full of differentiated questions to ask students.  You can also use them as a "pick-a-card" activity during reading.


Your students will have so much fun with these spinners!  Make your own spinning mechanism with a paperclip and a pencil.  A paperclip is the spinner and the point of the pencil holds the paperclip in the center.  If a student is holding the spinner with his/her left hand they can spin with their right.  Our kindergarten friends may need the teacher's assistance but they will love to spin just the same!  On these (fiction and non-fiction) spinners, picture clues are given.


Centers To Go

Who doesn't love an already-created center? Have fun watching your students using comprehension strategies while reading.

Using these "Anticipation Guides" the teacher can give statements or the students can create their own.  They get to predict if the statement if going to be found true or false prior to reading.  After reading, they can go back and answer with information found in the text.  They can even add page numbers where the information was found!

You have to love an activity where the student is asked to wonder before, during, and after reading.  With this activity students can do all three!  The teacher can put page numbers on the activity or give them a choice on where to stop and wonder during reading.






These choice boards give students the opportunity to choose what they will do in centers.  Throughout a week, the students need to color in three boxes (like tic-tac-toe).  A sneaky (aka smart) teacher will place items that need to be done in a main box.

Laminate these book marks and tuck them into books.  You can even write the page number in the bubble with dry erase marker (in case they fall out of the book).  Students get to that spot in the book, stop, and wonder.  You can even offer students lined paper and they can write down their thoughts (if you choose).

Keep It Current

It doesn't matter what grade you teach, students enjoy activities that are current.  We need to take things that they think are cool and turn them into moments of learning.  Students will want to participate if they are excited about the work in front of them.

All that you need for this activity are these guides and sticky notes.  As students find what they are looking for in the book (character, funny party, a time when they inferred, etc.) they draw the icon or emoji that correlates and stick it in the book!

This activity allows students to wonder, tell how they feel, what they thought was funny, if they were confused, what they liked, and how they reflect on the story.  Using emoji-like characters, the students write about what they find/read.  This can also help you, as the teacher, find group reading that the students enjoy and it can stimulate conversation(s) in small group.

Using a hashtag can be an enrichment activity!  When students read text and can summarize with a hashtag they truly have comprehension skills.  This is fun and the students love it.  I'd love for you to share some of the hashtags that your students create!

 

This is one of my favorites and I'm so thrilled that students still use them and love them.  You may remember them as Fortune Tellers or Cootie Catchers.  Don't be intimidated.  They are easy to fold (if my husband can do it, you can do it!).  I put them out in centers and also send them home for comprehension homework.  Many times parents do not know what to ask after a student reads a book.  This will help guide them and promote family fun.  I decided to use sight words for the "outside sections" to give my students extra practice with difficult words but you can be creative and implement them in any way that you need.  *A hint for upper grades:  Have students create their own connected to the text that they are reading.  Comprehension Fold-A-Fun can be a great study tool too!

Make It And Take It

The summer is right around the corner!  It's the time that we have to actually meet up with friends and relax a little.  One thing my friends like to do (nerd alert) is to choose an item that we would like to have for our classroom and make it while we are gabbing.  We've always had a fun time while creating for our classes together.  I think you will too.  Here is your challenge:  Meet up with teacher friends once a month and craft something useful for your class.  Here are some ideas:

These 5 finger retells are just as cute as they look!  The students simply slide the bead(s) up when they find the story element.  Your students will love them and want to retell after using them!         


These differentiated "Roll and Know" cubes are fun and quiet!  Cover them with packing tape prior to cutting them (or use a light laminate) and they will last a long time.

Find colorful card stock and laminate them.  Once they are cut out, they make wonderful thought bubbles for comprehension work.  After reading about friendship these students responded that a "Friends have your back!" and "Best friends is BFF friendship".




Using the labels to the right (and they are ready made to be on printer labels) stick them on craft sticks and put them in a container (this one is a coffee container) and make a cute label.  Students will love to answer questions when they get to choose from the Quiz Me Can!

Can You Comprehend How Fun This Would Be?

I hope that you have found one thing that is new to you or that you would like to make.  You should collaborate with your friends the way that I did with mine (shout out to my girls Kristen and Amanda).  Great things happen when teachers get together!  You should make it happen.  Please let me know what you enjoyed or if you have a different spin on things.  We can all learn from each other!  

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If you are looking for fun and attention grabbing comprehension strategies this post is for you!  You will be treated to 17 exciting comprehension strategies that can be implemented before, during, and after reading.