Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Weird and Gross: High-Interest Informational Text Passages

Getting students to read more informational text is so important.  These high-interest passages are designed to help students develop a greater interest in informational text and gain practice with close reading.  It contains strange and unusual facts about plants and animals.  The document includes four passages, bonus graphic organizers, and sample written responses.Click Here To Access Them.  It is great for guided reading, state assessment prep and Common Core.

Weird and Gross Informational Text Passages Coming Soon

Coming soon!  Students love learning about unusual things.  Learning about strange animal facts and odd plants is a great way to expose students to informational text.  Within the next 24 hours, I will release a set of four, high-interest informational text passages that will both interest readers and provide useful information about animal adaptations, history, and more.

My previous blog post talked about how I do field work to study animals and investigate the past with my trusty sketch journal and Nikon camera.  

I love blending my experience as a teacher and writing.  My goal is to provide reading materials that are both relevant and high-interest.  The informational text passages will be released very soon, so check back.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dividing Fractions: Going Beyond Procedures and Learning for Deep Understanding

Having a firm understanding of what a math concept means is just as important if not more than knowing the steps that should be followed in order to solve a math problem.

By drawing step-by-step diagrams in math that show the progression of how numbers or fractional parts change, students are better able to understand math concepts.  Let us look at an example.

Megan read 3/5 of her book in 6 days.  If she read the same number of pages each day, what fraction of the book did she read each day?

For Task Cards That Teach And Review How To Divide Fractions Click Here

To Access Math Task Cards That Teach And Review A Variety Of Math Concepts Click Here

Being able to visualize math concepts helps students understand word problems, and it also helps students have the needed skills in order to solve math problems that are worded in different ways.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Grade 5 Common Core Task Card Bundle

It started out with math.  One group of students was working with me.  Another group was working in a small group with task cards. Then, it happened.  I noticed that  some of the students were doing the task cards, but they were being done all wrong.  The thought came to my mind.  SOMEBODY should make task cards that teach and review.  I thought this would make my life so much easier as a teacher.  Instead of hoping that this would one day happen, I began to create them for both reading and math.Click Here To Access Them

145 Topical Common Core Reading Task Cards That Cover 9 Different Standards for $10 as a Complete Bundle


  • It is like having an extra teacher in the classroom.  Each set of task cards comes with a printable box.  This helps with individualizing instruction.  A box can be placed in a center station or sent home with a student that needs extra review.

  • Each set of task cards teaches students how to reason and interpret information. Examples, modeled responses, and even more are included to help students deeply understand information.

  • Questions are written at multiple levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.  This helps students deeply understand text.

  • Each box of task cards provides topical Common Core review.  This makes differentiating instruction so much easier. Print out as many boxes that are needed for classroom review.  Students record their information on recording forms. Answer keys are also included.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Behind the Scenes with Literacy and Math Ideas

Many people ask me who writes Literacy and Math Ideas' stories and informational text passages.

The passages are created by Literacy and Math Ideas.   My academic background includes both education and writing.  My experience as a teacher really guides what I write and how I would like ideas to be presented. Often, the process of writing informational text begins with field work. 

This picture is from a visit to a tide pool.  I studied the creatures and plants that live there.  The image became part of my Daily Common Core Practice product.

Observing nature is important. This toad jumped right in front of me as I was walking around in my backyard one day.

Role playing events that occurred in the past is also helpful.  I love both science and history.  To better understand what daily life was like during the 1800s for the pioneers, I did many of the same tasks that they did such as washing clothes.  This role playing was done before a passage was written about the pioneers.

This is a picture of some sketches that I drew during a nature walk.  Keeping a sketch journal with you at all times is helpful. Observing, jotting down ideas, taking pictures, and sketching are all done during my prewriting stage. 

After many drafts and revisions, stories and informational text passages are born.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

STEM in the Classroom: Natural Gases and Ripening

STEM in the Classroom: Circuits

STEM and the Next Generation Science Standards are designed to foster a love as well as knowledge about mathematics and science. This project brings circuits directly to students' notebooks.

One of my newest loves and discoveries is aluminum tape.  Where has this been all of my life?  I purchased it for a little under $8 from my local hardware store.  It is found in the plumbing and/or tubing section of the store.  One roll of aluminum tape is enough to last for an entire school year.  I also purchased these round batteries at the hardware store.

The LED lights can be purchased at an electronics store.

STEP 1:  To create a paper circuit, have students draw a pattern on paper.  On one side I drew the picture of a battery.  On the other side I drew a picture of an LED light.

STEP 2:  Cut the aluminum tape into thirds.  I used only a third of the width of tape.  If you are unable to find aluminum tape, aluminum will work just fine.  (A larger width decreases the flow of energy in the circuit.)  

STEP 3:  Place the aluminum on top of your circuit lines in the notebook.

Special Notes During This Step:
1.Do not let both sides of the aluminum strips connect.  This can cause a short in the battery.  The edges on my example come close, but they do not touch.

2.When you are attaching the aluminum foil to the paper, do not cut it.  Instead, fold the corner and continue to apply the aluminum strip.  Cutting the strips reduces the flow of energy.

STEP 4:  (Warning, this part gets tricky.  If your circuit does not work, switch the sides of the circuit that both metal prongs touch. And/or switch the overlapping of the aluminum in the circuit.  One piece of aluminum should touch the top battery.  The second piece of aluminum should touch the bottom battery.)

STEP 4 Continued...
Stack the batteries.  Place the batteries over the battery drawing, and place the LED light over the LED drawing. 

STEP 5:  You are all finished.  I had fold extra pieces of aluminum tape to connect each side of the battery to the circuit.  The sticky tape interfered with the conduction.  (I made sure that when I attached this extra aluminum, both sides of the circuit DID NOT connect as I was attaching the aluminum to the top of the batteries.  

You might have to press the batteries down to hold it in place.  

Remove the batteries and LED light when you are finished so that they can be used in another project.

I love this because students learn about circuits and conductivity from doing and not just reading about it in a book.  

Visit Literacy and Math Ideas for additional STEM in the classroom activities.

*****If you would like a sticker circuit kit that can be used with multiple students in small groups Click Here To Access A Kit********