Tuesday, 8 December 2015

*New* Australian Teachers' Collaborative Blog

Have you checked out the new Australian Teachers' Collaborative Blog yet?  If not you can do so by clicking here.

I am very excited to be part of this amazing group of Aussie educators sharing ideas.

You can check out my first post on higher order thinking and the teaching of reading comprehension in the middle years here.

We aim to make the blog posts as practical as possible.

On the main page at the moment you can read:

Paula's post on helping writers to succeed with plenty of practical tips and links.

Jem's post on transition to school and her showbags for this.

Christie's post on cyberbullying which is a growing concern for many parents and educators.

Check out the archives for other terrific blog posts with many links to practical ideas and tips.

To all my Aussie teaching friends, only two more sleeps until Summer holidays :)

Monday, 16 November 2015

Purple snow in Australia

Hi everyone

Don't forget to hop over to the new Australian Teachers' collaborative blog to pick up some freebies and enter my giveaway.  

“Purple Snow” by Eric Löbbecke is a terrific picture book for this time of the year in Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Did you know that snow is purple in this part of the world?  I will give you a hint:

Many thanks to all my friends for sending their photos through.  It inspired me to make a new 4H reading strategy resource.  Click on the image below to find out more.

Remember to check out the new collaborative Australian Teachers' blog here.  There have been some amazing posts from some very talented teachers :)

Have a terrific week everyone.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Lyrics, Life Skills and Kids Who Crumble - How to Teach Writing with a Song

I am thrilled to have Lessia Bonn from I am Bullyproof Music guest blogging today. 

Ten-year-old Carolina  plops down on my couch and presents her social dilemma. "I could have just crumbled!" she emotes. I can't help but notice this little munchkin appears to be crumbling inside my fluffy couch.
Amused by Carolina's colorful use of language, I smile and realize 'crumble' is a great word. A really great word! *light bulb* My goodness - it could be a song hook!"
I share my thoughts with Carolina. She concurs. She claps her hands joyfully. She giggles. On a scale of one to ten, her reaction is an eleven.
I end up writing a song around the word 'crumble' which, wouldn't you know it, becomes a hit at the local high school. Crumble chorus:

A teen boy walks up to me and requests I write a Crumble song for boys. "We get shy too!" he confesses. "We need a Crumble song also!" A full grown man discovers my song on the internet and writes me, "It takes me back to high school! I love it!"
Be still my heart, I took a full grown man back to high school.
Words are powerful. They initiate feelings, take us back in time, and can make or break our day. I make a habit of pointing this out to all my kiddos. I honestly believe we might save the world with better vocabulary choices.

Scruffy Pirate Rhymes
Teen Rachel and I are not discussing pirates. We're discussing appropriate singing vowels and not-so-appropriate singing vowels. Somehow, the word 'ship' shows up.  A moment passes. One of us points out that 'Depp' and 'ship' rhyme when we sing them. They share the same vowel. We are highly amused.
Teacher and student fall to the ground in stitches. After we recover, we decide there must absolutely be a song written that contains the words Depp and ship. Yet another song is born:

Our new song inspires a homespun music video. We film at the harbor in Santa Barbara. We also film on the steps of the local mission. We use my little photo camera. My girls deadpan intentionally. Why? Because they are serious about what they are singing. Scruffy boyfriends often create social dilemmas. Everyone teenage girl knows that.

We are NOT how we dress
I love how this new little ditty of ours contains a subtle life lesson. It may not one of my deepest songs, but the message is solid; we are not how we dress. We are not how we look. Never assume and never judge!  Our hearts are who we are.

Organic Writing Rocks
I often pen songs on the spot - right in front of the kids who are destined to record them. Whatever shows up in real life becomes our dilemma to be solved with a fresh set of lyrics. I choose key concepts carefully. I then wrap sweet melodies around a student's unique spirit. Our songs are nothing if not organic - penned in the
key of life!

Retta's Own Crew: an Up-date
A gifted teacher named  Retta London (Rainbow City Learning) stumbles upon my material on a teacher website and takes to it. For an entire year, the kids in her fourth grade classroom take to it too. Her students become magically calm, cool, and productive. They begin to behave like little happy Yodas. Why do they begin to behave like little happy Yodas? According to Retta, this happens because my songs had become "the sound track of their lives."
And even better?  For the second year in a row now, Retta and another fabulous forward-thinking teacher run a popular after school program based on Bullyproof songs. Does teaching get any more powerful than that? Yes it does.
Retta and I have joined forces now to create an year-long behavior management program that combines literature, writing prompts, lyric art, and social skills songs provided by yours truly. Quite noteworthy, don't you think?
And please don't be fooled by this light blog post. Our material goes much deeper than the playful songs like Crumble and Johnny Depp shared here. Our lead teaching tunes cover courage, empathy, sticking on task, appreciation, and world peace. And  classroom peace! Bullies don't stand a chance.
Video Lessons
Here is a full page of kids teaching life lessons. Some of these kids are from my side of the woods, some are from Retta's side.

A little jump-start
The other day, I thought up a word writing prompt unit to inspire colorful word choices. The way I see it, if I can write an entire song around a single word, young writers can certainly come up with something fabulous using three words! Just ask them, please, not to use Depp, ship, or crumble. Those are taken.
To conclude
I hope this little post hands you some fresh ideas as a teacher. Reluctant writers very often just need a new door into their imaginations. Sometimes it really just takes an unusual word to get kids going. Sometimes it just takes a thoughtful and relevant-to-one's-life song.
Song lyrics make excellent writing prompts. They can also help kids ponder more deeply around social situations. Use a song with your kiddos once in a while and you may just end up with a classroom full of little happy Yodas!
Thanks so much, beautiful Kylie, for inviting me to share my thoughts on your wonderful blog.

Lessia Bonn's I am Bullyproof Music studio recordings feature the voices her gifted students. The sweet voice on her popular song Fearless is that of Jessie Bridges - daughter of actor  Jeff. Lessia's "Crew" has many colorful members. A highly trained musician, Lessia finds it easy to create ageless music that speaks to kids of all ages. A counselor at heart, her mission has always been to help young people find their voices, both inside and out. IaBPm teaching material (all grades) covers ELA, critical thinking, and mood management. She lives in the pretty wine town of Sonoma. It's close to the Golden Gate!


Thank you Lessia - love your work!

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Congratulations to the CBCA picture book award winners for 2015!

I am loving this new picture book which has won the 2015 picture book award through the Children's Book Council of Australia awards.
Written by Irena Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood, this title has so much relevance to many different curriculum areas.

It is a wonderful title for any studies around refugees, immigration, cultural diversity, change, story quilts and/or multiculturalism. 
It is also terrific for inspiring students to develop a love of words and new vocabulary.

You can view a read aloud of this picture book on YouTube.  

Free teaching notes are available here, here and here.

It's also a terrific picture book for themes on friendship and belonging.  You can read more about this title and view some of the stunning illustrations on Freya Blackwood's webpage here.

This title has so much potential in so many areas of the curriculum, or just for the important messages it carries within its plot and text.
Congratulations to both Irena Kobald and Freya Blackwood for creating such a beautiful and thoughtful picture book and for winning the CBCA 2015 Australian picture book award :)

I created a resource to support this picture book, which includes higher order thinking reading comprehension activities.  Find out more by clicking on the image above.  It includes my favourite 4H reading strategy, with 45 comprehension questions for the students to sort according to whether they would find the answer to the question in their head, heart, whether the answer is hidden (so they need to think and search) or whether the answer is right here (on the page).  The children can then work individually or in small groups to find the answers to the questions.  Bookmarks and posters are included for each of the 4H reading strategies.

I have also included bibliographies of titles that could work as companion texts alongside "My Two Blankets", including books about story quilts from different cultures, books that stimulate a love of words, and picture books that feature characters from across the world, with interesting names.  You can read more about the resource here.  

While you are there, you may like to read about my new "Read Around Australia" resource and reading challenge, here.

Please note that you will need to have a copy of the picture book "My Two Blankets" to use this reading comprehension resource, but it is well worth purchasing because it can be used for many different purposes (including just reading it for enjoyment) across many different year levels and curriculum areas.  

Happy reading everyone :)

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Not-so scary Halloween ideas and resources with freebies

Looking for some fresh ideas for Halloween?  

"Scary Night" by Lesley Gibbes received an Honours Award through the Children's Book Council Awards in Australia.  It is not scary at all and would be a terrific companion text for other picture books like "Rosie's Walk" (directional language) and "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" (repetition of location language).  You can read a review of it by clicking on the image below.

Or, you can read a guest post from the author Lesley Gibbs here.  Two Year 6 girls from Covenant Christian School in Sydney, Australia, have posted a book trailer for this new picture book on YouTube.

Free teaching notes for "Scary Night" are available here and here.  There are some terrific ideas for free story props here.  You can also find free interactive activities for this picture book here.  In fact, that site has free interactive activities for all of the shortlisted books in this year's Australian Children's Book Council Awards.

These other sites have free resources and ideas for each of the shortlisted books as well:

Mrs Mac's Library

Mrs B's Interactive Literacy

Dr Jennie Bales

This website has ideas for early years children exploring emotions:
The Little Big Book Club

I put together a mini reading comprehension resource for a friend who was using this title during Book Week.  You can pick up your own freebie copy by clicking on the image below.  If you do download it, I would really appreciate it if you would take a moment to leave feedback in my TPT store.
You can check out my previous blog posts related to picture books for a not-so-scary Halloween, with other freebies, here:
Halloween Treat

Two newly published picture books with a freebie and resource links

"Monster Chef" with freebies

"Monster Chef" by Nick Bland - terrific for a not-so-scary Halloween

Creepy Comparisons with a freebie

"Creepy Carrots" new resource

I have pinned lots of other ideas for Halloween here.

Enjoy all the freebies for a not-so-scary Halloween :)

Father's Day - children's literature

Want something new and fresh for Father's Day?  The titles below are recently published.

You can browse through "Demolition Dad" by Phil Earle at Amazon or read reviews here and here.  You can read reviews on the other new titles which are more for younger readers here.  Free teachign notes for "My Dad is a Giraffe" are available here.

I recently blogged about another title, "Every Second Friday" that is great for children of divorced or separated parents here.
"A Day with Dad" is similar in that Tim doesn't live with his Dad.  His dad lives in another town and Tim doesn't see him very often, so spending a day with his dad is very special.  You can browse inside this title here or read a review here.  You can view a read aloud of this title here.

Some other fabulous picture books for Father's Day are included below:

"My Daddy Ate an Apple" is another classic from Craig Smith that is full of humour and comes with a CD for the story in song.  You can read a review of this title here and here.  You can view a review of this funny picture book with such a catchy tune here.  

"Every Friday" is the story of a boy and his father who spend every Friday doing special things together that illustrates the unique bond between fathers and sons.  A trailer for the picture book for early readers can be viewed here.

"Two Old Potatoes and Me" is the story of a daughter and her father.  This is another picture book featuring a family who are separated. At her father's house she finds two old potatoes in the back of the cupboard that have sprouts growing from them.  This is a terrific picture book for integrating backyard science into Father's Day studies, by studying gardening, plants and propagation.  You can read a review of this picture book here and here.

There are some terrific ideas here for a Dads' and Kids' Book Club using "Two Old Potatoes and Me".  Free teaching notes are available here and here and here.   

"Crocodaddy" is a fun rhyming story for early readers.  You can look inside the book here, view a synopsis of the story here or access free teaching notes here.

"A Wild Father's Day" is such a fun title which is also great for introducing similes.  You can look inside the title here.  I was thinking it would work well with "From Head to Toe" by Eric Carle.  You can preview the story by viewing a father reading it to his young baby here.

"My Dad" is a classic by Anthony Browne.  You can view a read aloud of this picture book here or here or you can look inside the book here.  You can read book reviews here and here.

What are your favourite picture books for Father's Day in Australia?  Please leave a comment below if you have a favourite.

Have a wonderful week everyone and Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

"Every Second Friday" - a wonderful picture book for Father's Day

I love this picture book by Kiri Lightfoot and Ben Galbraith.  It would make an excellent addition to support children of separated or divorced parents.  

Every second Friday Margi (aged six and a half) and her brother Totty (aged four and three quarters) spend the weekend at their Dad's house and get up to all sorts of adventures. This is a light-hearted story full of imagination.

You can read a review of the book here or find teaching ideas here.  

Click on the image below or here to find out more ideas to support this picture book.

Do you know of any other terrific picture books that can be used around Father's Day?  If so, please leave a message in the comments section below.

Have a terrific week!

Monday, 10 August 2015

Newspaper Hats

A new title has crossed my desk and I love it!  It would be a great companion text to "Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge".

"Newspaper Hats" is written by Phil Cummings and illustrated by Owen Swan.  You can read a review of it here.

This story is about a young girl whose grandfather has lost his memory and cannot remember her, but can remember making newspaper hats.

Here are some links on how to make newspaper hats:

Tutorial on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_tDKdXhv0g \

Another tutorial on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7M_bH5AeQDE

This is such an awesome picture book that links so well with Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Patridge...I made a resource for Wilfrid to introduce the 4H reading strategy.  You can find more info about that here:

Click on the image above to find out more.  Actually, I will discount this resource even further for my blog followers :)

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Helping Your Students Compare and Contrast Fiction with Non-Fiction Text

I am delighted to have Jill Richardson along as a guest blogger today...her work is amazing!!!

It is so exciting to be able to share with you today.  My name is Jill Richardson.

Do you need another way to build excitement and enjoyment of learning for your students?  Try pairing fiction and non-fiction texts.  Most of my career has been in teaching reading in the primary grades.  This year I am teaching English as a Second Language and loving it! 

Pairing fiction and nonfiction texts is an authentic way to integrate Language Arts, Science and Social Studies.  It can provide the bridge our ELL’s need as well as benefiting all students. It is a great way to build vocabulary and show children the same words in different genres.  It helps the children to make connections with the world and themselves.

I participated in a Book Study this year on Rigor is Not a Four-Letter Word. In the book, Barbara Blackburn talked about how pairing the two builds rigor.  I thought I would incorporate it more with my students.  Wow, my students and I loved it!  It helped to build my excitement because I could pick some of my favorite classic books to experiment with and the children loved connecting the two because of their natural curiosity.  We had so much fun!

I used what I had in my room as my first pairing. One of my groups was reading at a guided reading level H so I chose, The Goat in the Chile Patch by Lada Josefa Kratky and Goats are Great by Alyse Sweeney (a Reading A to Z book).  I would suggest you pick a fiction book that you enjoy and look for a non-fiction pairing.

Here is a list of Pairings that Scholastic suggests and others that I added.

Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss

Nic Bishop Spiders by Nic Bishop

Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Harry Bliss

Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mark Teague

Dinosaurs by Gail Gibbons

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

Bats by Gail Gibbons

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman

Police Officers on the Go by Alyse Sweeney

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Snowy Weather Days by Katie Marsico

Recycle That! by Fay Robinson

New York City by David F. Marx

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Ducks! by Gail Gibbons

Verdi by Janell Cannon
Pythons: Fun Facts & Pictures For Kids by Lilly Carle

Here are a few tips to help you get started. I have included photographs from my classroom for visual support.

1.Pre-teach vocabulary words.  (3-5 words)

Choose words that are in both the fiction and nonfiction texts.

Review 1-2 Tier One Words. (Basic words that are commonly spoken.)

Teach 2-4 Tier Two Words (High frequency words used in many contexts)

Teach 1-2 Tier Three Words (Words that are content related or applicable to a specific subject.)

2. Complete a  KWL anchor chart or KWL printable on the subject in which the children are reading.
For example Ducks
What do you know?
What do you want to find out?
What did you learn?

3.  Have the students read the texts. You may choose what best meets the needs of your students.

Interactive Read Aloud
Partner Reading
Guided Reading

4. Have the children complete a story map or plot summary of the fiction book.

5. Have the children fill in the KWL after reading the non-fiction text.

6. Complete a venn diagram or graphic organizer comparing the two texts.

7.  Compare and contrast in writing how the two are alike and different. Our English Language Learners may need to be supported by using sentence frames.

Pairing fiction and nonfiction provides rigor in your classroom!  It enhances your students reading comprehension, expands their vocabulary, knowledge and interests and builds great excitement for learning!  It is effective no matter what grade you teach.  You might want to give it a try.

Please enjoy for free: Verdi!  Compare and Contrast Verdi with a real Python! (Paired Reading!)

Jill is an ESL teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Her love is teaching reading in the primary grades.  She has been teaching for over twenty five years in both private and public schools.  She has been a literacy teacher for grades K-5, early education director, literacy facilitator, and classroom teacher of Kindergarten, first and second grades.

Jill Richardson TPT   Jill Richardson Facebook Page  

Many thanks Jill.  Click on the links above, beside Jill's photo (Jill Richardson TPT or Jill Richardson Facebook Page) to check out other awesome resources and ideas from Jill or to follow her to find out about future projects !

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Shark Week -vs- Shark Fest - There's commotion in the ocean

I have been reading lots of blog posts about Shark Week in the U.S. so I decided to investigate more about it.  To be honest, I had never heard of it before and I certainly can't see it taking off in Australia...how wrong was I?!!!

Shark Week was established by the Discovery Channel in the U.S. and is a week devoted to TV viewing about sharks, sometime in July.  Shark Fest is also a series in the U.S. that apparently is competing with Discovery Channel's Shark Week - you can read about the controversy here.

Now there is also Shark Week in Australia, again via Discovery Channel, but it starts on 1 December apparently.  Click on the links to find out more.

I started thinking about my favourite picture books that feature sharks as main characters and two of these are "Nugget and Fang" by Tammi Sauer and "The Three Little Fish and the Big, Bad Shark" by Ken Geist.  

"The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark” is an innovation on “The Three Little Pigs.”

“Nugget and Fang” has parallels to “Finding Nemo” so these are both excellent texts for explicitly teaching text-to-text connections.

Here are some links to resources for each:

"Nugget and Fang"
"The Three Little Fish and the Big, Bad Shark"
So, to avoid studying, I created a resource for these two picture books that focuses on higher order thinking and reading comprehension.  Click on the image below to find out more.

Here are some other resources you may find useful:

Facts about sharks for kids - YouTube clip (some interesting facts that I didn't know!)

Global shark tracker - interesting...

I still can't see this taking off in Australia, because of all the shark attacks we have over here, however these two picture books are adorable for any time of the year.

"Nugget and Fang" is terrific for individual differences and friendship.  "The Three Little Fish and the Big, Bad Shark" is terrific for fractured fairytales or innovating on texts.


Saturday, 27 June 2015

*New* Reciprocal teaching mega bundle - on sale for a limited time!

I am so excited to share with you my latest version of reciprocal teaching for guided reading groups.  36 pages of posters, bookmarks, role cards and graphic organisers!

You can read my research behind this innovation on reciprocal teaching in English and Mathematics here.  

Meyer, Kylie (2010) “Diving into reading” : revisiting reciprocal teaching in the middle years. Literacy Learning: the middle years18(1), pp. 41-52.  

Meyer, Kylie (2014) Making meaning in mathematics problem solving using the Reciprocal Teaching approach. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years22(2), pp. 7-14. 

The resource includes 8 role cards with prompts for students to lead reciprocal teaching groups.  There are five questioning options for the teacher to select, depending on his/her instructional purpose.  The questioning options to support higher order thinking include:
  • 4W and 1H
  • Question, Answer, Relationships (QAR)
  • Thick and Thin Questions
  • 4H reading strategy
  • Question Creator
You can read more about my approach to reciprocal teaching in my blog post here.

My reciprocal teaching resources are my best sellers on TPT (Ripper Reading Resources) and this has to be my very best version yet, which I have discounted for a limited time.  
Grab it while it's on sale :)