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Deluxe Hamburger Paragraph Planning

One of my favorite writing lessons is all about the Hamburger Paragraph Plan. It is such a third grade-friendly layout and something that provides enough structure to help any student feel success with their writing.

For more on how I introduce this with my class at the beginning of the year, click HERE.

As the year progresses, I want to up the complexity of their paragraphs by encouraging them to add in details, descriptions, and examples. It's at this point that I introduce the Deluxe Hamburger Paragraph.

I made this anchor chart this year, with help from some students about preferred toppings:


This expands on our original Hamburger Plan by adding in a space for examples and descriptions after each reason/support/detail. It's awesome to see how their paragraphs improve with this simple addition and really help take their writing to the next level!

*Quick Note: The green light reminds kids to have a "go" introduction sentence and the red light reminds them to add a "stop" conclusion sentence. Many times, I will have them underline their intro sentence in green and their conclusion sentence in red to reinforce this.

I have updated my popular Hamburger Plan for Paragraph Writing to now include posters, notebook helpers, and plan outlines for the Deluxe Plan. You can redownload if your currently own this, or check it out in my TpT Store HERE.


Happy paragraph writing!



Thinking About Theme: Anchor Chart & Freebie

Theme can be a tricky topic to teach and one that I try to touch on all year long with the different Teacher Time books and read aloud books we cover. My experience has been that when we discuss it all year long, students are able to deepen their understanding gradually, as opposed to an isolated lesson here or there. Plus, the added benefit of seeing them connect books through theme at this point of the year reminds me why it's often worth it to go slow on these more "out there" topics.

I wanted to share my Anchor Chart with you today to give you a visual idea of the definition we give to theme as well as the questions we ask when we get to the end of a book to help discover its theme(s).


One of the ways I like to incorporate this lesson is by using this simple and free worksheet, available HERE.

It mimics the questions and ideas from the anchor chart, while allowing students to plug in their own thinking and responses when they are done with a book. The best part? You can print two or four of these to a page and make small slips to have kids fill out when they finish a book. It can become a quick "theme-check" and could easily tie into more theme work, a bulletin board display, or more!



For two-on-one, adjust your print settings to:


And for four-on-one, adjust your print settings to:


To pick up this free response sheet, click HERE.


I hope this can be put to good use this time, or anytime throughout the year!



My Favorite Amazon Things in One Easy Place

I am a huge fan of Amazon for all things shopping, so when it comes to getting anything new for my classroom, it's usually my first stop.


I will often link things from my blog, Facebook page, or Instagram to deals or fun finds I come across. All of my themed read aloud collections are linked as well, and I was looking for a way to make these kinds of collections easier to keep organized. Opening nine separate tabs for Earth Day read alouds isn't the most user-friendly approach!

So, I am happy to share my new "Favorite Things Amazon Store" HERE. It is also linked to my "Shop" tab above. From here, you will find all of my collections in one easy place, hosted by Amazon.


All of my read aloud collections and more will be linked on the left sidebar. You can then click any of the items to be taken to the Amazon page. And don't be fooled my the weird price ranges, it takes you to the normal listing when you click. I love Sharpie pens, but $1K is a bit ridiculous! 

As I continue to add more read aloud collections, besides finding them on the blog and the clickable image, you will be able find them here. I've also added resources based on Facebook posts around flexible seating and ideas we're trying or will try as our school moves in that direction next year. I anticipate adding more diverse collections as the year progresses and will continue to curate each category carefully.

I hope this can help make navigating these collections a bit easier and help you locate great, teacher-approved resources when you need them. 

Happy Amazon-ing!


{affiliate links}

Monthly Thoughts: April


Happy Spring and welcome to April's "Monthly Thoughts"!

Each month this school year, I will be uploading a clickable PDF themed around that month. There will be twenty ideas on that page that will link you to a post, idea, resource, freebie, quote, etc. from my blog or store. Each month will be a new collection of ideas, both old and new, and I hope it will help make the school year and planning easier to navigate.

Be sure to download the calendar page from my TpT Store HERE each month when it's released. It's a clickable PDF, so you will be redirected to my blog, TpT Store, or another website for all of the information when you click the small image.

While I have themed many of the months around holiday items, there are also plenty of ideas geared towards other academic areas, like nonfiction, getting ready for state tests, and more. And if these don't align with your own scope and sequence, hopefully a few can add to your bag of tricks when you do cover those topics in your own classroom.

Today I'm offering the calendar of April, which you can find in my TpT Store HERE.

Monthly Thoughts: April

Click the photo to be taken to the free clickable download on TpT!

As with many of the holidays throughout the year, you can find Earth Day-themed Word Work and Writing Prompts, as well as QR Codes for math computation practice, Brain BreaksTechnology Resources, and thought-provoking Did You Know? Facts. And if you're as excited for the warmer weather as I am, you'll find season-long activities in all of my Spring-themed resources as well.

You can also find the link to some of my favorite read alouds for this time of year, for both Earth Day and Poetry. Because it's National Poetry Month, you can find ideas for both technology and hands-on poetry practice as well.

There's plenty more, so take your pick and click away to find more information on any and all of the images you see.

Download HERE and enjoy! I hope these ideas will get you excited for the month ahead!


My Favorite Earth Day Read Alouds


Earth Day is such a wonderful spring holiday. With all of the warmth, new life, sunshine, and the chance to get back outside again to play, it's the perfect time to talk about taking care of our planet!

These books run the gamut of Earth Day topics-- from composting to classics to heroes for our Earth, you should be able to find a great mix of titles to discuss a wide range of topics around this holiday.

If you're looking for additional resources for your classroom, be sure to check out my Earth Day-themed writing prompts, Word Work centers, Did You Know? Fun Facts, and Brain Breaks. You can also see some engaging and educational technology resources HERE and, if you have a QR reader available in your classroom, you can practice math problems with Earth Day monsters HERE.

One person you should definitely read more about this holiday is Wangari Maathai. Mama Miti is a great intro to her work, but there are loads more titles HERE that capture the amazing work of this Nobel Peace Prize winner. She is an amazing hero and inspiration that is worth a closer look!

To read more about these books, simply click on any of the covers below. Each will link you directly to its page on Amazon where you can preview the inside, read the reviews, and find similar titles. 

Click away here: 

Image Map


I hope this list gives you lots of ideas for read alouds for this month, or really any time you're teaching about the Earth, alternative energy, or recycling. Be sure to let me know of any additional titles in the comments below. I would love to add to this collection!

Writing Prompts and Google Docs

Now that we've entered the home stretch of third grade, I want to make sure I am giving my students practice with typing and word processing since this is a big focus of fourth and fifth grade.


We've only just started touch typing practice (read more about that HERE), so I don't want to overwhelm them, just have fun and write/type as if they were drafting in their Writer's Notebooks.

To do this, I choose about ten of my favorite kid-friendly prompts from the seasonal Writing Prompts packet I have. I print out the version that has ten prompts to a page, then read them aloud to the students to generate some interest as I place them all around the classroom.

When it's time, I have students grab both their Writer's Notebooks as well as a Chromebook and then find the prompt they want to write about most. They will cut out the prompt and glue it to the top of a page in their notebook, using the rest of the space to plan. For more on our plans, click HERE.

Once they have their piece planned, they can log into Google Docs and start drafting directly into their new document. If they finish early, they can grab a different prompt in the room and repeat the process.


I love combining the multiple modalities of writing and typing, plus cutting, gluing and movement around the room. It's a great way to sneak in all of these skills in a short amount of time and also helps with sequencing and organization.... you can cover a lot with this activity!

As they draft, I treat it just like a notebook draft-- do your best with spelling, don't worry about formatting or fonts or colors, just get all of your ideas down in the document.


Some of my students prefer Google's Voice Typing, which I have found to be incredibly accurate, as far as voice dictation software goes. They can just speak into the microphone on the top of the Chromebook screen and voila! Most kids started with this, but eventually found that typing required less editing and fixing-up, so they dropped it as a primary strategy. Some, however, prefer this and I like the option since they still need to go back and edit, adjust, and fine-tune what they spoke.

Getting ideas on the page (or screen) is always the goal for my writers and I have found this to be a very engaging, focused, and motivating activity.

For more of my Writing Prompts in three total formats, click HERE.



My Favorite Poetry Read Alouds

Since April is National Poetry Month, I thought it fitting to share some of my favorite poetry books to read aloud this time of year.

Poetry is such a fun genre for kids to explore and there are an infinite amount of great books available. Many of these authors have an extensive collection of titles in their name, so it's worth a trip to your library to check them all out, if you can!

Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky are old favorites from my childhood, and their style is timeless. If you haven't delved into the work of Douglas Florian, be sure to do so, especially for your students who love science and nonfiction!

I love dog-related titles, but I need to give a Kleenex alert for Love That Dog (an entire BOX worth!). Dogku is an adorable tale of a dog's day told in haiku, and a very easy entry into a sometimes challenging poetry form.

I use the entire series of You Read to Me, I'll Read to You in my Read with a Partner time during Daily 5. They are varied and engaging, plus easy to read so there isn't a concern with mixed reading levels in a partnership.

Another series I'm getting hooked on is reverso poems, like Mirror Mirror! Read one way, it tells one point of view. But when you read it from bottom-up, it's entirely different! Be sure to check out all of the books by Marilyn Singer in this format.

To read more about these books, simply click on any of the covers below. Each will link you directly to its page on Amazon where you can preview the inside, read the reviews, and find similar titles. 

Click away here: 

Image Map


I hope this list gives you lots of ideas for read alouds for this month, or really any time of year. Be sure to let me know of any additional titles in the comments below. I would love to add to this collection!

Fun & Free Typing Programs

We begin the school year by learning cursive (we use Handwriting Without Tears) and end the year learning how to touch type in a short ten minute chunk each day after lunch recess. It's a great way to work on fine motor skills and develop the automaticity needed in both of these writing styles. Plus, I find that by the end of third grade, their hands are all large enough to spread across the keyboards of our class Chromebooks.


*Confession: I am *not* a touch typer. In fact, I only use the first two fingers on each hand and still move my eyes back and forth from the screen to the keyboard (Ack!). I do prove to my kids that I am not that accurate, especially when I can't look at the keyboard, so they enjoy witnessing that when I demo the importance of learning the correct way to touch type.

Our district has a subscription to Typing Pal, which is very helpful as kids move through the grades since it tracks their progress, but I am always on the hunt for additional resources that can help strengthen their practice. Sometimes one program doesn't work for every kid, and since I would love for them to practice three to five times a week for about ten minutes a day, I want them to enjoy the program they use.

I have tracked down a few free and fun sites, several that require no login and others that will require a parent's email, but I hope you find these helpful as you introduce touch typing to your own classroom of students.

Dance Mat Typing



This site does not require a login and is my students' top choice for an alternative typing program. It is hosted by a British rock-and-roll goat, so what could be better?! I have found it to be the most kid-friendly program, both in how it teaches the kids and simultaneously engages them. The only downside is, because you can't login, students will be required to remember what lesson and level they are on each time.

Typing Club



This program also received rave reviews from several of my students. While it does require an email to login, it provides a clear interface and tracks progress across all of the lessons. Helpful progress trackers are included, and you get points, badges, and stars along the way! It also unlocks upper levels only after you have passed lower ones, so it encourages kids to stay on track and not skip the foundations. The data provided on this program is also very easy to read and includes words per minutes, days practiced, and more. You can even replay typing sessions to see how the student did! There is a free and paid school edition that you can read more about HERE.

Typing.com



This is another site that is free (removing ads is a paid option) and requires an email login, but the instructions are clear, the practice is right on target. Kids can also move quickly through the levels as they complete them accurately. I love that they can jump to any lesson at any level because they will be able to use this as a supplement to our current program without having to start from scratch. Each level comes with clear instructions and advance into some amazingly challenging territory-- even medical terms to help learn transcription!

Kidz Type



For a wide variety of typing activities, I definitely recommend KidzType. They have lessons, exercises, practices, and (best of all) games! There are many choices for each and this is a great "free choice" site after kids have learned a chunk of letters, like home row. The do not require a login and kids can practice letters in a wide variety of ways, so it's a great break from a lot of the traditional typing practice they receive on the other sites.

Typing Arm Activity

One of the main reasons I encourage my students to learn to type is to build muscle memory in their fingers and to make typing much faster, easier, and more accurate. To prove that there are tiny muscles and tendons hard at work when they type correctly, I have them hold out one arm and "air type" correctly with their fingers (basically, just tapping all five fingers in the air). While doing this, they rest their other hand on the typing forearm and are in awe when they can feel (and sometimes even see) these small parts of their body at work. We do this for both sides. I then have them hold out their pointer finger and pretend to peck at the keys like a "non-typer" would. They feel their arm muscles not working at all, plus they are able to only do one letter at a time, with large arm movements. Definitely not fast, easy, or efficient!

Do you have other typing suggestions? I would love to hear them, so please leave me a comment below. Happy typing!



Morning Meeting in 5 Minutes

One of the most meaningful parts of our day is Morning Meeting. It has been for nearly ten years and no matter what, it is always the first thing my students do when the 8:00 bell rings. In fact, if I'm ever out, I rarely have to put much into my sub notes about it, it's become such a student-led and fundamental part of our day.

Before reading, I encourage you to check out my previous posts on Morning Meeting HERE and my E-book and resources on TpT HERE.

One of the challenges I face this year is squeezing this important time into just five minutes. This is a huge adjustment from the previous 10-15 minutes we used to have. We begin transitioning to math class (which requires some shuffling of students across multiple classrooms) at 8:05. That leaves us with such a short amount of time to participate in this important activity, so I wanted to share how we were able to do this, in case you were also feeling the time crunch!


Seating

The most efficient way to begin our meeting is in assigned spots. I have to take attendance as soon as possible, so I have them sit in number order (by last name) in a circle around the rug. They are in these spots all year, unless they are Meeting Leader, in which case they sit at the meeting chair. While this may seem boring, it alleviates any debate over who sits where and helps to get us off on a familiar foot each day.


The Bell

Everyone is required to be sitting in their spots when the bell rings. If a chair or two goes unstacked, or if there is still something to be put away, no big deal... that can all be done after Morning Meeting. I try to impress the importance of this meeting from Day 1 of third grade, so kids know that the bell means we get straight to business. The Meeting Leader also knows that the bell is the time to start, so it helps to remove me from being the "time police", which is always a good thing!


Greeting

Eye contact and Level 3 Voice (Normal Talk) are important when students give each other the "Good Morning" greeting. They also say each other's names and reply with a "Good Morning, ___" to that person. Even my most quiet and reserved students participate in this, and I think the predictability of seating choices helps them the most. Making everyone feel welcome by speaking each child's name aloud twice in the first five minutes of school is cause for celebration in and of itself! They are passing a talking stick around at this time and when it gets back to the Meeting Leader (a job that rotates each week), we move onto the next part.


Community Building

This is where the fun stuff happens, all in about three minutes. Most days, our Meeting Leader will pull a question from a jar (available HERE). Students will then need to answer the question in a complete sentence, using that question for their sentence stem. Not only does this help with their speaking and listening, it's an easy segue into writing and PQA: Putting the Question in the Answer. I have found this predictability has also been so helpful for students who have trouble speaking aloud or are second-language learners.

The talking stick is also passed around during this time and when it gets back to the Meeting Leader, I will give my announcements, if any, and dismiss them straight to math.

I know it may seem rushed or impossible to complete in five minutes, but I promise, there are days we finish with time to spare! With kids in charge as Meeting Leaders throughout the year, and knowing the familiar structure, it is very possible to carve just five minutes out of your day for this important, engaging, and meaningful community-building exercise.

Morning Meeting Resource Pack

Find more information, as well as loads of ideas if you have ten to twenty minutes to dedicate to meetings, HERE. There you will find tons of quick questions to start any length of meeting, a comprehensive e-book explaining the why and how-to for launching Morning Meeting in your classroom, editable agenda posters to help keep longer meetings on track, and more.

Enjoy this packet and I hope you and your students enjoy each morning with with the addition of this memorable and engaging routine!




Math Talk {Anchor Chart}

We have been working on Accountable Talk in our class, nicknamed "Team Talk" with students. You can read more about the visual cues we've been using HERE.


Math is a particularly important subject to use good discussion strategies, since there are often so many ways to solve a problem, and really understanding the concepts comes from being able to articulate them to others. We call this "Math Talk" and I like to break it down into three different pieces: Explain, Evaluate, and Extend.


Explain

This is a familiar step in which students walk through the work they did to arrive at the solution. They will explain their steps and the conversation they were having about the problem in their mind so we can all get on the same page as to how they solved the problem. Listing the steps is an important part of this first section; this helps us as we get to any error analysis or alternative solutions in future steps.

Evaluate

In this part, other students can now chime in and either agree or disagree with the solver. In order to do either, they need to be able to back up their thinking with their own work and strategies, similar to the "Explain" step above. This forces students to look carefully and try to see where the student presenting did things differently. My favorite part of these conversations is not just correcting an error they may have caught, but it's in finding multiple ways to arrive at the same answer. It's a great opportunity for the students to be the teacher as they share their thinking about a problem.

Extend

This final step is sometimes interwoven into the "Evaluate" step, but it has its own place outside of strategy-sharing. Similar to reading, I like students to make connections in their math work to other problems, strategies, or Math Talks to reinforce strategies and concepts throughout our entire year. I also like for them to ask questions of each other about the how's and why's of strategies. Sometimes this can seem pretty far-out, but allowing for this section to take place can also allow for follow-up around areas of misunderstanding or lingering confusion. I will also use this opportunity to model different strategies that may or may not work out, so that kids can see and hear me think aloud through various possibilities.



I hope this anchor chart around Math Talks can help your own class hold more in-depth conversations around problem solving and strategies. For more Accountable Talk stems and how I use them in class, be sure to see my Team Talk Pack on TpT HERE or read more HERE.

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