Friday, December 12, 2014

Higher Order Questioning

With the introduction of the common core, questions have become much more complex. When answering Short response questions students have to make sure they are using a correct format to ensure they have answered the question correctly and with enough detail!

Adding enough detail to a short response question is where I notice my students struggle the most!  In order to get better they need to practice. I decided since it is the holiday season to start answering a question daily. I chose to base my questions on The Polar Express by Chris Van Allaburg. I know my 6th graders have heard this story many many times but I figured I could use that to help them succeed. 

For this activity I'm not really assessing their comprehension of the story. I am assessing whether they can analyze a question using evidence from a text. I created this graphic organizer for them to use to help map out their answer:

This allows my students to make sure they have all the information they need before finalizing their answer. 

You can download this product by clicking HERE!!!

Literacy Centers.. Effective strategies for older students

Hey all!! Hope you are all getting ready for the holidays. I just wanted to share some tips on using literacy centers in the upper grades. A few people have asked me how I am able to keep the centers going once the students get older!  

The first thing I do is organize my centers on one board:
I put the students into random groups and each day they are assigned a new center. Next to this board I keep bins with all the response pages in. The envelopes I have hanging hold different sorting or task cards they may need or any other needed materials (highlighters, paper clips). 

Every Monday I go through each center with the whole class so they know what to do. I also write the directions for each center on a dry erase board in case they forget. 

On this board I also put the objective of the center. 

Since I teach 6th grade the writing center activity usually takes them a week to complete. Whenever they finished their assigned center for the day they go onto writing. 

During this time I am pulling reading groups. If I pull their reading group and they miss a center they know that sometime during the week they will need to make up that center! 

It takes a lot of training in the beginning. I usually start in September and just have then do centers for a month before I start pulling groups. That way they really know what is expected of them during the reading group time. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What To Expect... Reading Carousel **FREEBIE**

I always like to start the year off with my kids moving around the room.  I don't want them to come in and think I'm going to just lecture to them and give them rules.  This carousel allows them to create the rules and tell me about their feelings about reading in a fun way instead of just giving them a worksheet.

I put each of these questions on file folders and have the students write their responses on the inside of the folder.  In the past I had them write on chart paper but it was hard to store.  The file folders go right into my file cabinet and are pulled out at different points in the year to have the students reflect on their progress, or to remind them of the rules they created!

(I'm going to add more pictures after my students complete this activity tomorrow!! Stay tuned!!)

To download this activity FREE click HERE!!

Enjoy :)
Beach Bum Literacy Chick

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Monday, September 8, 2014

Holiday Word Wall Cards and Activities!

Getting back into the swing of things at work! How about you?  I always feel overwhelmed in September since I have a summer of ideas flowing through my head that I want to implement ALL in September!  The next thing I'm putting into my classroom is a holiday word wall!  I want to increase my students vocabulary and feel that my students tend to stick with their known vocabulary out of fear of using a word incorrectly.  By having this word wall I'm hoping my students will be encouraged to use new words!

The holiday's included in this pack are: 
* New Year’s Day * Martin Luther King Day
* Groundhog Day * Valentine’s Day
* St. Patrick’s Day * Easter 
* Memorial Day * Halloween
* Thanksgiving * Christmas

This word wall pack includes 2 sets of words for each holiday.  One set is geared towards K-2 and the other is geared towards 3-6.  This really allows a teacher to differentiate the word wall to meet the needs of their students and challenge students when needed.

To get this holiday word wall pack click here!!

Enjoy :)
Beach Bum Literacy Chick!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Synonym Word Walls **FREEBIE**

I haven't really been writing due to the beginning of school! The first few weeks are always so stressful being a reading specialist. There are tests to administer and grade and schedules to create! Really looking forward to a successful year! After grading a quick assessment we gave I notice the students need to increase their vocabulary. They all use basic commonly used words when there are much better words out there!!

In my classroom I have a synonym word wall.  I leave it up all year and have the students refer to it when they are writing.  My students always find more words to add and really enjoy adding them to our wall.

This is the word wall I have in my classroom.  Each year I end up adding new words based on what I observe in my classroom.

I created a FREE synonym word wall starter set to encourage everyone to start this in their classroom.  The one I created is an ocean theme.  I plan on elaborating more on the file and include many different themes.  If you are looking for a specific theme please comment below and let me know!

To download the starter set click HERE!!!

Enjoy :)

Beach Bum Literacy Chick

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Turn and Talk Task Cards

Well a new school year is about to begin.  I hope everyone had a well rested summer!  I was looking for a fun way to begin the year and came up with these turn and talk task cards.  I know so many teachers start by reading a great picture book (For example The Best School Year Ever or A Bad Case of Stripes) and instead of just reading the book to your class a great activity would get them involved in the reading.

The students are excited to see their friends and this gives them the opportunity to have a conversation and keep them engaged during a read-aloud.

Make sure to check out this great activity by clicking HERE!!!

Also available for Grade 2, Grade 3, Grade 4, and Grade 5

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Give A Hoot for Latin Roots!

Teaching Latin roots really helps students connect to unknown words.  I like to introduce them into my classroom and then have students go on scavenger hunts to locate words throughout our lessons that have the same Latin roots!  This makes learning more exciting for my students!

I don't know about you but I'm always looking for fun, interactive ways to teach.  I can only stand up in front of the class for so long giving a "lecture" before I find my students staring into space.  I know at that point I've totally lost them.  I usually teach my whole class for about 15-20 minutes before breaking up into small groups so the students can do various assignments.  My students typically do well in small groups and for the most part all the activities are differentiated so I know the students are performing at their level.  This also makes for great RTI data (Make sure to check out the Confer App to keep track of your data.  To read my review click here!)

I'm really not big on "worksheets" but I found making this Latin Roots notebook for my students really helps them to connect and understand each of the roots.  When I introduce a new Latin root we always go over the meaning together.  Then they draw a picture and come up with examples.  For the picture and the examples I usually let students work in groups that they choose.  It's great to see the work that they can produce when bouncing ideas off each other!

I really love teaching using hands on activities.  They can be used for small group work or even during literacy centers.  I feel my students are much more engaged in the activity when they can become involved and even move around the room.  

One of my favorite literacy center activities is giving my students task cards.  Although this can be done in a small group I prefer to use them during a literacy center as a review of what we have been learning in class.  Their answers make for a great assessment and since the task cards all ask different questions you can incorporate different learning styles on them.  They all don't have to be question and answer, you can have students draw pictures or do other activities so the assessment can benefit all students.

You can purchase this activity by visiting my TpT page HERE!!

Download the Task Card activity FREE by clicking HERE!!

Enjoy :)

Beach Bum Literacy Chick

Don't forget to follow my blog on Bloglovin!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Latin Roots Task Cards **FREEBIE**

Latin roots are an important thing to implement in a classroom.  It teaches students how to break apart unknown words to find meaning.  This FREEBIE can be used as a literacy center or as a small group activity after a lesson on Latin roots.

The Latin roots mentioned are mono, bi, tri, deca, cent, and mill.

Great ways to incorporate Latin roots in your classroom:

* Make a Latin roots notebook for students to use throughout the year
* Write Latin roots on index cards and hang together using a ring.  Put them outside your classroom door for students to use as an entrance ticket into the room every morning.
* Create a Latin root word wall - Make Latin root flowers as an ongoing interactive bulletin board

Download this free by going to my TpT page!

Please share your ideas for incorporating Latin roots in the comments!!

Enjoy :)
Beach Bum Literacy Chick

Make sure to follow my blog on Bloglovin by clicking HERE!!
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson *ACTIVITY PACK*

This week I am linking up with Book Talk Tuesday from Mrs. Jump's Class.  I love all the activities and books posted so definitely check it out!  The books are all about what to read on the first days of school!

I really enjoy using The Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson.  I find my students are really able to relate to the story and we are able to have many good discussions.  Some good discussion starters could be found from my Reader's Notebook post from yesterday! Check it out!

There are many skills that can be taught using this book.  I created an activity pack to use that contains skills such as:

  • discussing genre (realistic fiction)
  • citing supporting evidence 

It is important that students are able to sight evidence from the text.  Typically students give you a brief summary rather than analyzing evidence to support their answer.  This is a good way to introduce this skill to them in the beginning of the year.

    • character traits 
    This graphic organizer is also given without the characters names filled in.  This gives you an opportunity to differentiate the lesson within your class.  This also goes back to students have to cite evidence from a text and makes for a great group discussion once students are finished.
    • narrative writing 
    • the 4 types of sentences
    My students love this activity.  I have the students work in groups using large chart paper.  I hang the chart paper around the room and give each group about 5 minutes to go through the story and identify a phrase from the story that matches the type of sentence they are assigned.  After about 5 minutes students rotate to the next chart paper station.  They really enjoy this scavenger hunt activity because it allows them to work together.  I really like this lesson because of the discussions I hear throughout the activity.  My students really start to analyze the sentences and this helps them comprehend the story better.

    To check out the activity pack click HERE to go to my TpT page!

    And don't forget to check out Mrs. Jump's Book Talk Tuesday!

    Enjoy :)
     photo 90198fcc-6ece-4d52-a93b-743a1c6f011b.jpg" alt="BACK TO SCHOOL LINKY PARTY">

    Monday, July 21, 2014

    Having A Reader's Notebook

    Having students complete a reader's notebook really allows students to interact with a book. It gives them the opportunity to reflect and record their feelings about what they are reading, as well as giving them the chance to analyze the story and how its written.  I find this important because students often just rush through their reading assignments rather than really trying to understand the text.  My students are often reluctant to begin a reader's notebook but I often find it is something they eventually enjoy doing because it lets them be honest about their feelings without the fear of being judged by their peers. This benefits me by really being able to see what they understand and what they are struggling with.

    I like to have my students glue the checklist in the front of their readers notebook.  It is important to me that my students use different prompts so I like the checklist because I can quickly monitor how often they are using a specific one.

    This is the checklist.  I have students write the dates on the lines next to the prompt.

    On Friday's I have my students complete an exit ticket response page that they turn in.  I respond to their writing and return the page on Monday.  This gives me the opportunity to monitor the responses and I get to respond to their entries.  On Monday they glue the response page into their notebook. Sometimes I have students work in pairs or triads on Monday to discuss the prompt they chose and their responses.  It is great watching their skills grow as they become more involved with the book and their discussions become more in depth.

    To purchase this activity click HERE to go to my TPT Page!!

    Enjoy :)

    Beach Bum Literacy Chick

    Follow my Facebook page for updates about giveaways!

    Sunday, July 6, 2014

    Is It Fiction or Non-Fiction? FREEBIE

    I hope everyone had an amazing Fourth of July weekend! I know I did!!  Now it's back to the grind!  I wanted to post a FREEBIE to go after Fourth of July, thought it would be appropriate!  This one features students sorting whether titles are fiction or non-fiction.  Even some of my 6th graders sometimes struggle with the meanings of fiction and non-fiction, they always mix them up!  This is a great center activity to reinforce those skills.

    These are some book titles that students will sort into
    fiction and non-fiction categories.
    These are the sorting mats that students use to sort the book titles.
    It helps them organize their answers before recording them on their
    response page.

    I love having students complete hands on center activities because it keeps them engaged while I work with a reading group.  Another great idea is to have students check each other's work.  I know my students really enjoy this task because it gives them the opportunity to be the teacher.

    Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

    Monday, June 30, 2014

    Writing Rainbow **FREEBIE**

    I LOVE this activity!  My students all complete a rainbow every time they go through the writing process.  It helps them keep track of their writing to ensure they are going through all the correct steps.  I also created a colorful interactive bulletin board where students move a star to each color of the rainbow to represent each step of the writing process.

    To download this FREE click HERE!!! 

    Enjoy :)

    Beach Bum Literacy Chick

    Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

    Friday, June 27, 2014

    Summer Reading Incentives!! - MUST SEE!!

    I know I just posted a little while ago but I couldn't wait until tomorrow to share these great resources!  I have stumbled upon many different summer reading incentive programs, and being a reading specialist I couldn't resist sharing them with you!

    1.  Barnes and Noble - They have a printable reading log that must be completed.  Children must read 8 books and complete the reading log.  Then they bring it into a participating store and will receive a FREE BOOK!!

    2. Scholastic - They have a reading program that tracks the minutes read throughout the summer.  There are also contests to enter! Check it out!

    3. TD Bank - Their summer reading program allows kids to earn up to $10!

    4.  Half Price Books - Their summer reading program gives kids the opportunity to win a $20 gift card to their site so they can order books!

    5. Sylvan Learning Book Adventure - Students search for specific books on their site and then read them.  Once finished the students take a quiz on the book to earn points.  They can earn points for each book they read and use the points to earn prizes!

    I really hope your children are able to participate and earn great prizes for reading during the summer!!


    Beach Bum Literacy Chick

    Check out my Facebook page by clicking HERE!!!

    Monkey See, Monkey Do - Vowel Board Game

    Yes, I know summer vacation starts today but I just have to continue posting.  It's really important that kids keep up with their reading throughout the summer.  Kids do not want to do "work" over the summer so why not play reading games that still allow them to have fun but they can continue to review their skills.

    Monkey See, Monkey Do is a great game to play to review vowels, long and short.  This is important for kids to reinforce so they can keep up with their decoding skills.  In this game students are given cards that have words with the different vowels on them.  The players will roll the dice and move along the banana spaces.  When they land on a banana they will have to pick a word from their hand that contains the vowel written on the banana.  If they have one they put it in the discard pile, if not their turn is over.  The first player to get rid of all their cards wins!

    There are 3 different sets of game cards so the game can be played at different levels or many different times by a group!

    Enjoy :)

    Get a copy of this game by clicking HERE!!!

    Make sure to follow my blog on Bloglovin for more great ideas and resources!!

    Have a great summer!!!

    Beach Bum Literacy Chick

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    Parts of a Letter -- FREEBIE --

    Hey everyone! I know I'm counting down the days until summer vacation! I have 4 schools days left and can't wait! I'm so excited to relax but also to create great new activities for the next year!  Today I wanted to touch on writing a letter, especially since many kids go to camp over the summer it would be great that they knew the proper way to write a letter!

    This FREEBIE is a great follow up activity for a lesson on the parts of a letter.  It can also be used to assess their understanding, plus its a fun activity and they kids get to use crayons.  I know my students ears perk up when I mention crayons so hopefully that will give them some motivation!!!

    Download this activity FREE by clicking HERE!!!

    For the complete activity pack click HERE!!!!

    Don't forget to follow my blog on Bloglovin to stay updated!

    Enjoy :)

    Beach Bum Literacy Chick

    Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
    Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop

    Saturday, June 21, 2014


    To celebrate the last week of school, for me anyways I know many of you are already finished, I am having a 20% OFF SALE on all items in my TpT store!! Make sure to check them out.  The sale goes from Monday June 23 - Thursday June 26!!!

    Also make sure to check back here next week for some FREEBIES and GIVEAWAYS!!!!

    Enjoy :)

    Beach Bum Literacy Chick!

    Make sure to follow my blog on bloglovin for more great ideas and resources!!

    Thursday, June 19, 2014

    Cute Koala Contractions!! - Gradual Release of Responsibility Model

    So I know I shared a template for this model the other day but I am so excited to start using it that I started creating activities to go with it!  They are a little time consuming so I thought I'd help start everyone out!  This activity is on contractions.  After grading hundreds of final exams I noticed some things kids are struggling with still are contractions!

    I really like using this model to teach this because I can see which students are grasping the concept and which students still need further assistance.  I didn't differentiate this lesson but it could easily be done by making adjustments such as underlining sentences that contain words to make a contraction so when the students are reading they can find them easier.

    You can find this file in my TpT store by clicking HERE!!!!

    Make sure to follow me on Instagram!!! @beachbumliteracychick

    Enjoy :)
    Beach Bum Literacy Chick

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

    Gradual Release Lesson Plan Template

    So I just went to a professional development about the gradual release model and I am so excited to implement it into my classroom next year.  It is something I've really been doing already but I haven't planned my lessons this way.

    In case you aren't familiar with this model it looks like this:
    1. The teacher models the skill being taught.  It could be a reading skill, math concept, a read aloud or any other lesson you are doing.
    2. After the model the next phase is that the teacher and the students complete something similar together.  This is also a good opportunity to have students discuss the concept in groups or pairs.
    3. The next step is to have students complete a similar activity in small groups or pairs.  This gives the teacher the opportunity to observe the students and see who is struggling or to work with a small group to give them extra support.
    4.  The last phase is to have students complete an assignment independently.  This can be done as a homework assignment depending on the amount of time needed.

    All the phases of this model should not take a significant amount of time to complete.  For example with my 6th grade ELA class I choose passages to read that are really short.  I may be modeling a close reading technique and I want them to observe how I would complete the activity.  So that part may take 5 or 6 minutes.

    This is the template that I created to help me design my lessons.  I also put a space for the Common Core standards, an essential question, and the academic vocabulary that will be used during the lesson.  Also I included a closure activity because I always have my students complete some kind of exit ticket.

    This second template I use when I have to differentiate my lesson, which is most of the time.  I typically differentiate the group assignment and the independent assignment.

    This is a really great model to use during your class and really allows you to collect data on your students because you are observing them work on the skill multiple times throughout the lesson.  You 

    can even walk around with your iPad to collect data using the Confer App that I talked about yesterday! :)

    Check out the lesson plan templates by clicking HERE!!! 

    I just started an Instagram account so make sure you follow me there!!! @beachbumliteracychick

    Have a great day!
    Beach Bum Literacy Chick

    Monday, June 16, 2014

    Confer App for iPhone, iPad, or Android! APP REVIEW!

    Hey everyone! I just stumbled upon this app today, someone at my school recommended it to me.  I know it was only available for iPhone and iPad but they did come out with the app for Android.  This app really lets your keep good records on your students and even lets you group kids based on their needs with just a touch of a button!

    I know the school year is over but I am really looking forward to using this app next year to keep all my data on all my students.  It is going to be so easy to use when I need RTI data especially.  All you have to do is E-mail the notes about that particular student.

    Something else I love about this app is that it saves your comments so you can easily write the same comment for more than one student, or you can use the same comment again for the same student if you notice this is something that happens often.  It makes the work of recording data that much faster.

    For more information click HERE!!!

    (Picture was taken from

    I'd really love to know your opinions on this app so please let me know!

    Enjoy :)
    Beach Bum Literacy Chick

    Friday, June 13, 2014

    Father's Day Writing

    I love when its Friday!  This is going to be such a great weekend, I can tell already.  One thing we all can't forget this weekend is Father's Day!  A great thing to do with your students or your kids is to have them write about their favorite memories with their Dad or their favorite things about their Dad.

    The paper below has two options.  Kids who have a lot to say can use the page with the lines.  Kids who really want to draw a picture can use the page with half lines and use the other half to draw Dad a great picture!

    This would even look great in a frame!  Print the activity on cardstock so it holds up better and then frame it when your done!  A great gift any Dad would love!

    Get this activity FREE by going to my TpT page to download!  

    Make sure to follow my blog for more great resources and ideas!

    Enjoy :)

    Beach Bum Literacy Chick