Thursday, 21 May 2015

Guest post from Green Grubs Garden Club = Awesome!

Hi everyone! Thanks so much Kylie for inviting me to pop over the ditch for a quick visit :-)

I’m a teacher, Mumma and kids gardening/nature club enthusiast who lives on the fringes of Auckland, NZ, with my amazing hubby and beautiful wee toddler.  I enjoyed teaching full time for 10 years (mostly years 2-4) and loved setting up and organising our schools lunchtime garden club – The Green Grubs! I now teach part time, which has allowed me to watch the amazing leaps in learning that my little Grub makes daily. It also gives me the time to indulge my passion and enthusiasm for all things green, grubby - this includes creating specialised resources to support nature based education.

I pride myself on creating practical and creative resources that get children involved in the wonder that is our natural world, and have a wide range of free nature based resources... whether you have 10 minutes to spare with your class outside with your class or a whole block, I'm sure you'll find something useful below!

There's nothing better to mark the changing seasons than a quick nature walk. Follow up your outdoor stroll with the sheet on the left ~ you can find the free worksheet portion of this Autumn resource in my TpT store here, and the coloured header on my blog here! (*The nature walk writing templates are also available in other seasonal variations (for free!) in my TpT store, so have a good rummage around while you're there).

If you're looking for a way to squeeze a little more nature into your classroom routine, you might be interested in this free set of 'Nature Snacks cards' (below) - 36 cards with prompts that encourage engagement with the natural world…some of the cards can be used inside the classroom by looking out the window, others can be used while moving as a class from one part of the school to the other, and some are best used outside in the playground!

The cut and fold worksheet below is a fun, fast, hands-on version of the traditional nature walk scavenger hunt!  Children cut and assemble the Nature Grab Box template, and then race to fill their boxes with the 12 things listed on the outside…(a small rock or pebble, 2 different flowers, a twig with 3 branches, a leaf with rough edges etc) Click here to grab this FREEBIE! 

For a great introductory activity to a nature based or environmental topic...get silly with this FREE Nature themed Fortune-Teller-Cootie-Catcher! There are 8 challenges inside the Cootie Catcher (e.g. take nine steps backwards, drop to the ground and freeze until you see an insect! Can you name the insect? Name one thing you could do to help the environment - you can't say pick up rubbish...)

Thank goodness here in our part of the world we still maintain strong connections with the great outdoors...and long may it continue!  Respect your class's need for a few minutes here and there to just burn off some energy, run bare feet and feel the wind in their hair....... in fact, why not take your shoes off and join them?

Fresh air, bare feet + grubby hands = active learning!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

NAPLAN - higher order thinking narrative preparation

NAPLAN is the National Assessment Program in Literacy and Numeracy in Australia and I am happy to introduce my latest resource for comprehending and composing narratives (Years 3 to 7).  52 pages of higher order thinking reading comprehension and composing activities are included, based on two narrative texts that have morals or messages.  

I have seriously discounted the price of this new resource, as a way of sharing my work with you and also to support rigorous, explicit teaching, instead of the mindless practising of past test papers.

The resource links the U.S. research on close reading with the Australian research on the Four Resources model (Freebody & Luke, 1990), as well as accountable talk prompts and philosophical inquiry discussion starters.  You can find out more about the links between close reading and the Four Resources model through my previous blog posts here.
You can find out more about my new narrative resource for Years 3 to 7 (pictured above) here or by clicking on the product overview image above.

This is a summary of the contents of the Year 3 to 7 narrative resource, although it was difficult to summarise all 52 pages (I couldn't fit all the pages in the preview overview either):

•  “The Best Teacher” (author unknown)
•  “Nails in the Fence” (author unknown)
•  Higher order thinking reading comprehension activities including graphic organisers and reading response activities, with plenty of inferring and using text evidence to justify responses
•  The Four Resource Model prompts and close reading
•  Making connections, character traits, summarising, problem/solution structure
•  Word work (vocabulary)
•  Writing scaffold for a narrative (fable) - "Show, Don't Tell" prompts, including suggestions for writing leads, themes and character conflicts
•  Accountable talk prompts
•  Book talk discussion prompts

There are other units in this series too that I have recently produced.  There is one for Year 5 using the poem "The Snake" from a previous Year 5 NAPLAN reading magazine (reproduced with permission) which focuses on the comprehension of figurative language which is a priority with NAPLAN narrative preparation:
It is also discounted for a limited time.  You can find out more about this resource here.

There is also a poetry unit that develops students' sensory approaches to writing, to introduce the idea of writing using the senses (which underpins "Show, Don't Tell).  This resource again features figurative language and is based on two original poems by Angela Yardy (reproduced with permission).  I would probably use this narrative resource with Years 3 to 5.  You can find out more about this resource here or by clicking on the images below.
This NAPLAN season, why not try some higher order thinking NAPLAN preparation for narrative texts? Even though we don't know what the genre is going to be this year, in a balanced literacy program, we explicitly teach a range of genres, so these resources can be used well beyond the NAPLAN season :)

The seaside poetry resource also focuses on figurative language and the link between close reading and the Four Resources Model.  It is also discounted for a limited time.

These resources are not based on 'teaching to the test', they are based on rigorous pedagogies, higher order thinking and explicit teaching (not 'skill and drill', or what I often call, 'skill and kill'!).

All the best to my teaching colleagues in Australia for the upcoming NAPLAN season.  I hope you and your students have some fun and authentic, quality learning with these new resources :)

Friday, 1 May 2015

Squirrels Bundle - Higher order thinking reading comprehension activities for three narrative picture books featuring squirrels

I am so excited to share my new bundle with you based on three picture books - terrific for studying narrative texts - "Scaredy Squirrel", "Those Darn Squirrels" and "Errol".  I have discounted the price of this brand new resource in my TPT Store.

Click on the image above to find out more.  A preview of what is included is in the images below:

Contents of the bundle:

“Those Darn Squirrels”
• Making connections
• Character traits
• Vocabulary – word work (inferring and synonyms)
• Narrative text structure - retell
• 4H reading strategy – posters, bookmarks and questions sort
• Visualising – drawing the birds
• Designing a device to protect the bird seed from the squirrels
• Procedural text
• Plot profile
• QR codes – multiple choice comprehension questions
• Compare and contrast Venn diagrams

“Scaredy Squirrel”
• Making connections
• Character traits
• Narrative text structure - retell
• 4H reading strategy - posters, bookmarks and questions sort
• de Bono’s thinking hats
• Story Map
• Listing
• Advantages/disadvantages of avoiding the unknown
• Time sequencing, recording analogue times, sequencing 

• Making connections
• Character traits
• Vocabulary – word work (inferring and synonyms)
• Close reading and inferring
• Narrative text structure - retell
• 4H reading strategy - posters, bookmarks and questions sort
• QR codes – multiple choice comprehension questions
• Compare and contrast Venn diagrams
• Triple Venn

U.S. & Australian spelling included.

Have a terrific week!