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Close Reading: Text Dependent Questions

Using text-dependent questions with close reading has been eye-opening for me because previously, we were taught to front-load everything and activate students' schema to increase their engagement.  As teachers, we're now strongly encouraged to ask questions that force our students to delve into the text and provide evidence for their answer.  I've created a 5-part Close Reading series that will walk you through what it looks like in a primary classroom. 



Part 4- After Reading: Extension Activities to tie it all in

Part 5- Your Close Reading Questions Answered

Using text-dependent questions with close reading has been eye-opening for me because previously, we were taught to front-load everything and activate students' schema to increase their engagement.  As teachers, we're now strongly encouraged to ask questions that force our students to delve into the text and provide evidence for their answer.

We're Asking the WRONG Questions

Come to find out, many of the questions we've been asking students require them to make a personal connection without every even opening the text or looking at the passage.  But this strategy is what was considered a best-practice during my credential program and I was nailing it, especially with my English Language Learners.  It's important that we know how to engage our students beyond just asking them to tell a personal story.  The text we're using should be engaging enough according to Frey and Fisher in their book Rigorous Reading.


Come to find out, Common Core doesn't like this approach and is requiring students to cite their evidence and dive into the story.  There's still a place for activating schema and making connections, but with close reading, we can let it go.  Trust me, it was very uncomfortable to change everything I knew about questioning students.  I'm going to show you how to create text dependent questions to go with any type of story based on Bloom's.

What are Text Dependent Questions

Text-dependent questions require the students to provide evidence from the story rather than from their own experience.  The types of questions we ask students influence how they read a text.  If we are only asking recall and recitation questions, they learn to read for that information.  Text-dependent questions require students to read carefully and produce evidence in their verbal or written response.  Read more about it here!

Types of Text Dependent Questions

There are at least six categories of text-dependent questions that move in a progression from explicit understanding to implicit understanding.  This makes for easy scaffolding. You don't need to use all of them, just use what works best for the text.  I created a bunch of question stems for you for each category, just click on the button below.
 I created a bunch of question stems for you for each category, just click on the button below.
Are you looking for more guided reading strategies you can use in your class, check out the monthly link up below.




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8 Easy Ways to Relax and Find Balance as a Teacher

Teaching takes up every ounce of brain-power, energy, and heart.  When the dismissal bell rings, my teacher brain doesn't shut off.  I've got lesson ideas, unfriendly parent e mails, testing, IEPs, art projects, literacy centers, meaningful activities, and a bazillion ways to make our class run efficiently on my mind all.the.time.  But I'm here to tell that it so, so important that we take some time for ourselves to relax and find some balance in our busy teacher lives.  Remember when we talked about this over the Sunday Night Blues? I've got 8 simple tips to help you relax, recharge, and find a little normalcy in your teacher life.

I've got 8 simple tips to help you relax, recharge, and find a little normalcy in your teacher life.

Get Outdoors

There's something about fresh air that makes everything better.  I love to take a quiet walk at the end of the day to decompress, collect my thoughts, and get my steps in.  Find your favorite park, flower garden, or trail to walk.

I've got 8 simple tips to help you relax, recharge, and find a little normalcy in your teacher life.

Do something relaxing

Over break, I realized how much I missed just vegging out at night.  Pick one week per night if you can, to just zone out.  Whether it be with your favorite book, gossip magazine, or if you're like me, an episode of the Housewives.  

Pick one week per night if you can, to just zone out.  Whether it be with your favorite book, gossip magazine, or if you're like me, an episode of the Housewives.


Pajama Party

Sometimes, it's ok to stay in your pajamas all Sunday.  Or be like me and the minute you walk in the door, you throw on your jammies.  Something about being cozy is comforting.  Try it out and don't feel guilty about it.

Sometimes, it's ok to stay in your pajamas all Sunday.  Or be like me and the minute you walk in the door, you throw on your jammies.


Comfort Foods

Treat yourself with your favorite comfort food.  I like to stock my pantry with a few of my favorite treats to reward myself after a long week!  It's ok to hide them from your fam and savor them for you, you deserve it!  

Treat yourself with your favorite comfort food.  I like to stock my pantry with a few of my favorite treats to reward myself after a long week!  It's ok to hide them from your fam and savor them for you, you deserve it!

No Cooking

Take a night off from cooking dinner.  A few times a month I'll call the mister and ask him to pick up something.  After a crazy day, coming home and cooking just doesn't sound like that much fun.  A few weekends ago, I was lucky enough to be spoiled at the Rancho Bernardo Inn and had grilled cheese and fries, a bottle of champagne, and chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to my room.  What a treat!  Something about not cooking makes my teacher-heart so happy!

Take a night off from cooking dinner.  A few times a month I'll call the mister and ask him to pick up something.  After a crazy day, coming home and cooking just doesn't sound like that much fun.

Do what you love

Love going to your favorite spin class, then go!  Do you feel your best after swimming laps, make time for it!  Love catching up with girlfriends for coffee, make it a regular occurrence.  As teachers, it's so easy to get caught up in everything that's involved.  I could probably spend all of my time on the weekends grading papers, replying to emails, working on SSTs, laminating a new math center, and a bazillion other things.  The thing is, our teacher list is never done.  Be ok with it and make time to do the things you enjoy or forgot about. 

The thing is, our teacher list is never done.  Be ok with it and make time to do the things you enjoy or forgot about.


Relax

I love relaxing and do it whenever I can.  You see, a few years ago I was an overwhelmed teacher with a brand new combo class that I was hired for the day before school started.  I was playing catch-up all year and ended up in the hospital with exhaustion.   I learned my lesson and vowed to take more time to do things I love, and relaxing is at the top of the list.  I need a lot of quiet time and mind-numbing activities to help my shut my brain off.  One of my favorite ways to relax is with a good massage.  While at Rancho Bernardo Inn Spa, I was treated to a stone massage, facial, and scalp massage.  If that doesn't relax you, I don't know what will.  Next time you're in San Diego, you'll have to check out their spa.  Not coming to San Diego soon, find a local massage near you.  Maybe add a treatment to your Christmas or birthday list and let your family spoil you.  I've said it before, but you deserve it!

I love relaxing and do it whenever I can.  You see, a few years ago I was an overwhelmed teacher with a brand new combo class that I was hired for the day before school started.  I was playing catch-up all year and ended up in the hospital with exhaustion.

No Professional Development Here

Find a good book that will help you relax.  I know you want to get all professionally developed, but that's still putting your energy into your class and we're trying to help you put more energy into your self and take a break from school.
 So, here's a couple  you may like:

 I know you want to get all professionally developed, but that's still putting your energy into your class and we're trying to help you put more energy into your self and take a break from school.


 All of these ideas apply to summer as well.  Don't let social media and what everyone else is doing teaching-related during the summer make you feel bad.  Let's all stop putting pressure on each other and just relax.When you make time for you, you'll be a better teacher, parent, partner, and human being.  It's the honest-truth.

Thank you to The Rancho Bernardo Inn for another wonderful stay.  They're my go-to resort when I need some time away.  In fact, for the last two school years, I book a weekend the week after school starts to decompress from that first week.

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Get Organized for Next School Year...at the End of the Year

There's so much going on at the end of the year between report cards, filing cumulatives, cleaning, and so much more.  While you've still got some parent volunteers and a class full of kids, put them to work in a way that will really help you start next school year off organized and prepared.  I promise you that starting off your school year prepared will make for a better year.

There's so much going on at the end of the year between report cards, filing cumulatives, cleaning, and so much more.  While you've still got some parent volunteers and a class full of kids, put them to work in a way that will really help you start next school year off organized and prepared.

During my periscope about getting ready for next year, now, I shared that last year was the first year in nine years that I didn't have to move grades, rooms, schools, districts, or even states.  Crazy, I know.

Make Copies for the First Week

Take out your Back to School file and take out all getting to know you activities, crafts, Back to School paperwork, and beginning of the year stuff and make your copies now.  It will save you time during August so you can focus on planning and all of that other beginning of the year stuff.  Put all of your finished copies in a crate or bin and store them for the summer.  I don't know about you, but we can't leave anything out so I place them in a cabinet. 

Take out your Back to School file and take out all getting to know you activities, crafts, Back to School paperwork, and beginning of the year stuff and make your copies now.

Sharpen all of your Pencils

If you have any pencils leftover, sharpen them!  No, not you, have students or parents help you out with this one.  Believe it or not, I still have 3 sharpened boxes from the end of last year that we haven't even touched.  Makes it so easy to grab a new box when we're running low.

If you have any pencils leftover, sharpen them!  No, not you, have students or parents help you out with this one.

Organize and Clean your Class Library

Enlist a few helpers to go through all of your bins of books and clean them out.  Dump out those little itty-bitty pieces of paper and other random goodness that was left behind.  I get a little crazy and have them wipe down the shelves with cleaning wipes as well.  I also have students organize the books, make sure they're in the correct lexiled bin and all of the spines are facing out.  We have to move out anything extra so the custodians can clean so I have kids fold up our rugs and beach chairs.  Do what works for you!
  I get a little crazy and have them wipe down the shelves with cleaning wipes as well.  I also have students organize the books, make sure they're in the correct lexiled bin and all of the spines are facing out.

Prepare your Name Tags

I hate nothing more than cutting out laminate from anything but my personal laminating machine.  So...I use the school laminator and laminate next year's name tags to get ahead.  But what about their names you ask?  I just add them in sharpie after I get my class list and after all of the revisions from said first class list.  They've lasted all year.  Have someone cut them out for you so they're ready to go!

So...I use the school laminator and laminate next year's name tags to get ahead.  But what about their names you ask?

Put up Bulletin Boards

Enlist students and parents to help you take down any student work, take those pesky staples out of the walls, and put anything up for next year.  I love my memory book bulletin board the best and love to get it prepared ahead of time.  You can see the tutorial here.  

Enlist students and parents to help you take down any student work, take those pesky staples out of the walls, and put anything up for next year.  I love my memory book bulletin board the best and love to get it prepared ahead of time.

Organize Student Supplies

Get your supply caddies cleaned and organized.  I have students clean them out really well with a wipe.  They take all old crayons and markers and toss them in a clear bin for next year.  That way, when students need a pink crayon, they can grab one from the bin.  I take the cups that hold writing utensils and the crayon container and toss them in the dishwasher.  Once I bring them back to school, kiddos help refill them with brand new supplies.  I keep the caddies and supplies in our grade level pod so they're out of the way.  But trust me, it makes it so much easier to set up your room when they're already done.

Get your supply caddies cleaned and organized.  I have students clean them out really well with a wipe.


What are some things you do right now to prepare for next year?


I am sharing some Amazon affiliate links with you from some of my favorite things that help make life in my class just a bit easier. I am compensated for sharing these links.


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Books Teachers Love: Earth Day

It's so important to teach our students about caring for the Earth.  I love that Earth Day encourages it, but it's something we can do with our students the entire school year.  I am going to share a few of my favorite "Protecting Mother Nature" books and some activities that you can do in your class.

This month, I've teamed up with several teachers to bring you our favorite books.  Want more read aloud suggestions for the entire year?  Just click the button below!



It was so hard to choose my favorite book to share with the kiddos the important about caring for our Earth.  During my second year of teaching, I was very, like very very into keeping our beaches clean.  I was the crazy person who would pick up someone's cigarette butt after they dropped it right in front of me and ask them if they knew where it would go now that it was on the ground.  I started an organization called Surfing Clean Water and we raised money for local conservancy organizations.  The coolest part was taking 4 classes of kindergarteners to the beach and doing a beach clean up.  My kids became kinda obsessed like me and were inspired to create a school-wide recycling program.  It was a huge hit, spread awareness, and even raised money for our school.  That year, this book became my favorite.



I've said it before but I'm a sucker for books with vibrant colors and pictures.  I picked up Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel with Scholastic points but you can grab it on Amazon with my affiliate link, where I'm given a small fee for referring you.



This book kind of reminds me of the sing-songy type Dr. Seuss ones.  It's about a little town that's a hot mess!  They leave their trash all over the place and could care less about pollution.



Michael Recycle comes to town and teaches them the importance of recycling.  The kids really love that he's a super hero!





I love that it gives practical tips that you know the kiddos will just eat up.




After we read the story, we do all sorts of Earth Day activities on the Smart Board.  I have a very old blog post before I knew about blogging with a few great ideas as well!  We make signs to hang up around the school.  Just good ol' fashioned construction paper and markers will do.  I love to incorporate art and writing (for that academic component if you have an admin. whoever questions you doing art.
We create an anchor chart and talk about the things we will and will not do.  This is a great class discussion.



Then, students answer the prompt: I can make the world a better place by...

Choose which art form is your favorite.  One year we used watercolors.



One time, we used tissue paper to make the Earth.



Short on time?  Just have kiddos color it during a literacy workshop center!



I think tear art looks gorgeous so this is my favorite form!  Just take out a bunch of construction paper and let students do all the work.  They just tear and glue!
(photo submitted by a blogger last year and I don't remember who.  If it's you, let me know and I'll give you credit!)


Our learning doesn't stop there.  We read all of these books as well and spend the entire week working on our environmental game!  All of our math and ELA centers are Earth Day themed throughout the week to really tie it all in.


Other books perfect to teach about protecting the environment






Want to check out more books and activities for this month's Books Teachers Love?



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The easiest and best parent newsletter

We know that parent communication in the classroom is essential, but sometimes, it takes a lot of time that we don't always have.  I have a free parent newsletter that takes just a few minutes to set up.  You can add links to websites, photos, videos, sign up forms and more.  Do you send a weekly or monthly parent newsletter?  Just duplicate it, change what you need, and send!

 I have a free online newsletter that takes just a few minutes to set up.  You can add links to websites, photos, videos, sign up forms and more.  Send a weekly or monthly newsletter, just duplicate it, change what you need, and send!

Getting Started

To get started, go to smore.com and create a free account.  You get 5 free parent newsletters but if you duplicate one of them, it's endless.  For example. I've created one newsletter and duplicated it three times, using just one credit.

 I have a free online newsletter that takes just a few minutes to set up.  You can add links to websites, photos, videos, sign up forms and more.  Send a weekly or monthly newsletter, just duplicate it, change what you need, and send!

What to add?

Decide what you want to add to your parent newsletter using the button option. Play around with it and see what you like.  You can add your class webpage, class social media accounts, homework links, the school website, Scholastic ordering page, and more!  I want this parent newsletter to be easy for busy parents to manage so I added buttons with all of the websites that parents and students will need.  We are required to have a class webpage so I made sure to include that. 

 I have a free online newsletter that takes just a few minutes to set up.  You can add links to websites, photos, videos, sign up forms and more.  Send a weekly or monthly newsletter, just duplicate it, change what you need, and send!



Weekly Learning Targets


Since parents aren't in the classroom, they don't always know what we're working on.  I like to keep parents in the loop by listing our learning targets.  It takes about a minute to change out weekly.
 I have a free online newsletter that takes just a few minutes to set up.  You can add links to websites, photos, videos, sign up forms and more.  Send a weekly or monthly newsletter, just duplicate it, change what you need, and send!

Other things to add


Do you have a Donor's Choose  project that you're trying to fund?  Adding it to your newsletter is the perfect place for it!  Need baby wipes or pencils, create a donations requested text box.


 I have a free online newsletter that takes just a few minutes to set up.  You can add links to websites, photos, videos, sign up forms and more.  Send a weekly or monthly newsletter, just duplicate it, change what you need, and send!


Settings

On the right hand side, click on "Flyer Settings" and mark the privacy to private.  It automatically defaults to public with the free version.  You can also unblock other options for comments and other things, totally up to you!
 I have a free online newsletter that takes just a few minutes to set up.  You can add links to websites, photos, videos, sign up forms and more.  Send a weekly or monthly newsletter, just duplicate it, change what you need, and send!



 I have a free online newsletter that takes just a few minutes to set up.  You can add links to websites, photos, videos, sign up forms and more.  Send a weekly or monthly newsletter, just duplicate it, change what you need, and send!
There is so much you can do with this!  I just copy the link and put it in an e mail to send to parents every Monday.  Have parents without internet access?  There is an option to print out the newsletter as well to send home.


Try this for a month and see what you think!  It will make your parent communication so much easier!


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The Perfect Activity for your Geometry Unit

We've had so much fun with our geometry unit this year.  My kiddos have loved all of the hands-on activities and this adorable craft!  I thought it would be fun for kiddos to put different shapes together to create their very own shape person.
easy teaching tools, the primary pack

You know I love cute things that are easy to prep so I'll be sharing some of my favorite items as part of the Amazon Affiliate program where I will receive a small fee for my referral.  I chose bright colors to give a POP of color to our room!   Choose Astrobright colors that work well in your room.

easy teaching tools, the primary pack
I laid out the pieces, salad bar style, and let the kiddos come up and get what they needed.  I had kiddos work in pairs so they came up, walked down the line, and grabbed a copy from each pile.  It was so easy AND organized!
Show what you know about shape attributes with this adorable shape friend!  Just print out several shapes, let students grab what they want to make their person.  Fill out the attribute sheet to explain what your shape is made of!

There was so much happy chatter among my kiddos as they cut and planned out their little shape person.  I promise you, there was almost no direction on my part, they did it all on their own.  They really loved the freedom of this project.

easy teaching tools, the primary pack

I laid out different scraps of paper left over from other crafts and kiddos twirled, crimped, and cut it into hair.

Show what you know about shape attributes with this adorable shape friend!  Just print out several shapes, let students grab what they want to make their person.  Fill out the attribute sheet to explain what your shape is made of!

Students worked together to write down the attributes on a whiteboard and presented it to the class.  It was a great way to assess their speaking and to check their understanding of attributes of a shape.  Once students fixed any errors, they copied what they wrote onto their fancy paper!

the easy teaching tools, the primary pack

We just added simple smiley faces, Melonheadz Style and glued on the writing to the little hands!

easy teaching tools, the primary pack

easy teaching tools, the primary pack
Hang them up in a spot that needs a POP of color!
easy teaching tools, the primary pack
These little guys were such a big hit at Open House.  But honestly, they look great anytime of the year!
easy teaching tools, the primary pack

If you're looking for more math activities and centers, you will love my Math Centers bundle.

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Close Reading in Action in the Primary Classroom

Is close reading making you pull out your hair? Don't think your primary kiddos can handle it? 
I've created a 5-part  Close Reading Series to help you get more comfortable with it in your classroom.  Once you get the hang of it, you'll see how powerful and beneficial it is for your students.

This blog post shows you different strategies you can use during close reading in the primary classroom.  These close reading strategies are engaging, research-based, and require no prep.



Part 4- After Reading: Extension Activities to tie it all in
 
Part 5- Your Close Reading Questions Answered


During Part 1, I showed you how to implement and get started with close reading in your primary classroom and what to do during the first read.  This week, I want to show you what close reading looks like in our room during the next few reads.  We've been using a few powerful strategies that allow my second graders to really take ownership of what they're reading.  I want them to dig deep and be engaged in what they're doing.

Main Ideas

After I've read them the story one time, they go back and underline or highlight the main ideas or parts they think are important.  This is especially important for non-fiction texts.  If you're reading literature, have your students highlight important parts of the story.  If you're doing this for the first time, model, model, model.  I start this in my guided reading groups so I can really monitor my students.  I do a think aloud as I highlight important parts of the text.  Then, I have my students do the same thing, on their own.  If you are scaffolding, do the first few paragraphs together.  If you plan to do partner highlighting next, make sure each partner has a different color highlighter. 

This blog post shows you different strategies you can use during close reading in the primary classroom.  These close reading strategies are engaging, research-based, and require no prep.

This blog post shows you different strategies you can use during close reading in the primary classroom.  These close reading strategies are engaging, research-based, and require no prep.

Partner Highlight

During this same session, we move onto partner highlighting.  Partners will trade highlighters.  The first child will read what they highlighted while the second child highlights what the first child reads. If it's something they already highlighted, they still highlight it.  It's so powerful because it builds fluency and gives students practice with such a meaty text.  It also forces that partner to really hone in on those listening skills and really focus on what their partner is saying.  I encourage my students to get that collaborative piece in and share why they highlighted what they did.  That part is so important!

This blog post shows you different strategies you can use during close reading in the primary classroom.  These close reading strategies are engaging, research-based, and require no prep.


Annotate

During our third read, students read the story on their own and take notes about what they read.  If this is your first time annotating, or reading with a pencil,  model this for them several times before letting them do this on their own.  I kinda go overboard but literally write down everything I'm thinking.  As I'm modeling this, I'm saying what I'm think aloud so they really get the point.  I model how to draw a quick sketch of a word or phrase because it helps me remember the story better.   I like to tell them, "The more writing on your paper, the better because it lets me see inside your brain."  Although I don't want to see inside their brain because I'm a wimp and can't stand that kind of stuff, the kids think it's hilarious and then the annotate a lot, which makes me happy.

Close Reading Strategy: During our third read, students read the story on their own and take notes about what they read.  If this is your first time annotating, or reading with a pencil,  model this for them several times before letting them do this on their own.

I don't want them to annotate just to do it.  I want them to share their annotations and make sense of it.  Depending on time and my purpose, I have my students share a few of their annotations with their shoulder-partner at their table group.  They read the part of the text they annotated and then add their annotation.
Using the example from the picture above:
"The story said, Hurit went to see Strong Wind and he pulled at her hair. made me think, 'Ouch!' because that seemed like it hurt."  There's a lot of meaningful conversation and collaboration happening here.  This often leads to the partner chiming in about what he or she said during that same part.

Make sure you're catching my Instagram feed to see more close reading in action tips that you can use in your primary class!

Want more Guided Reading ideas, check out my teacher friends!



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