Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Compare and Contrast Two or More Characters in a Story {Freebies Included!}

I'm back for the next part of our character development lesson using Verdi by Janell Cannon. For this lesson, I will be sharing how we used the book to compare and contrast two or more characters in a story, drawing on specific details from the text.

To read the first blog post in this series, and to grab the free Inferring Character Traits Graphic Organizer, click HERE. To check out my other blog post series on character development, click HERE and HERE!

Since our last lesson on inferring character traits through dialogue, my students learned that there are a number of different ways that an author reveals information about a character in a text. An author reveals information about a character by writing about their:
  • physical traits (both explicit and inferred)
  • actions
  • thoughts
  • dialogue
  • interactions with other characters
Once my students had a solid understanding of characterization, we jumped right into comparing and contrasting. While rating and dating our understanding for our Student Data Tracking Binders, I quickly had students show me their level of understanding for comparing and contrasting. With a quick rate it/date it, I learned that my students had very little background knowledge on this concept. Not a big deal! A quick mini-lesson on comparing and contrasting did the trick! 


With this anchor chart, we discussed the terms compare and contrast. I guided students with the idea that authors create relationships between characters, settings, and events in a text by developing the interactions among story elements. Good readers can identify the relationships between story elements by comparing and contrasting them. 




While I love using venn diagrams, an even better tool (in my opinion) to compare and contrast in the upper grades is a double bubble thinking map. 


The reason I like using a double bubble thinking map is because it requires a bit more depth of thought by the students. I love that contrasting requires students to think in terms of point and counterpoint. I promise you they are extremely easy to use!


Some guiding questions that students need to keep in mind in order to compare and contrast and to help them construct their double bubble maps include: 
  • What are the similarities and differences between these two things? 
  • How are these two things alike and different? 
  • Which similarities do you think are most important?
  • Are there any details that are unique to one thing and not the other? 
Even though the standard calls for students to also compare and contrast settings and events in a text, for this lesson we only focused on characters. After re-reading Verdi an additional time, we worked together to construct our double bubble thinking map. 


Side note: color coding your double bubble thinking map is a great strategy for students that may need additional help, especially if this is the first time they are seeing it. I've included this as a freebie that you can grab at the end of this post. 








I think this is such a phenomenal visual that perfectly hits the standard on comparing and contrasting two characters. 

Even though we worked together as a class to fill out this double bubble, students also filled out their own.


Once we filled out the double bubble thinking maps, as a formative assessment, students wrote their own written responses to compare and contrast the two characters.


You can grab this free formative assessment and a free double bubble thinking map at the end of this post!

This formative assessment is a great way to quickly gauge your students' understanding of the standard. 

Throughout the rest of the week, students used double bubble thinking maps to compare and contrast the characters in their own self-selected texts. 

At the end of the week, I gave them their summative assessments to assess them on standard 5.RL.3 from my 5th Grade Common Core ELA/Literacy Assessments and Teaching Notes


I had to get an extreme closeup of this answer because I have to say, I am pretty impressed with their responses!

On top of that, my teacher heart skipped a beat when I saw this on a student's reading passage! He was annotating the text without any prompting from me! Best day ever!


Check out these reading passages and assessments to use in your classroom HERE!

Grab a free copy of my Verdi formative assessment and color coded double bubble thinking map HERE!



Stay tuned for the third post in this series on character development! Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Inferring Character Traits Through Dialogue (Plus a Free Graphic Organizer!)

Have you ever come across a mentor text that literally covers five standards and you squeal with delight? Or am I the only crazy person that gets excited about these types of things?!

After reading Verdi by Janell Cannon with my students, I just couldn't contain myself!


I have so much to share with you about how we used this book to cover so many standards, that I plan to break it down into THREE separate blog posts. Yes, three!

Click HERE to check out part two: Comparing and Contrasting Two or more Characters in a Text.

Each year, studying characters is one of my favorite units to teach, and this year is no different. You can see my two other big character blog posts I wrote last year HERE and HERE

The reason I love teaching characters so much is because of all of the wonderful characters out there that my students can connect with. Whether it's Katniss Everdeen, Percy Jackson, or the unique August Pullman from R.J. Palacio's Wonder, the characters, in my opinion, keep my students coming back for more!

When studying characters, it's important that students understand that we’re talking about what character is, not who some characters are. If I ask my students who the characters are in the books they are reading, most of them can probably name them. For instance, they know that August Pullman is  the main character in Wonder. 

But, character development is more than that. 



The English Language Arts standard requires students to compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g. how they interact).

Before you jump right into this, it's important that students understand the different ways to determine a character's interactions. To understand their interactions, we need to look at each characters' actions, their dialogue, their thoughts, and their emotions. By looking at these details, they give us insight into how these characters view and/or react to each other, giving us information about their interactions.

To teach this concept, I read Verdi to my students. During this first reading, I allowed my students to sit and listen. But, while listening, they were to pay attention to each characters' personality and physical traits that the author came out and explicitly stated in the book. For the purpose of this lesson, we compared Verdi with the group of snakes called the greens. The greens' names are Umbles, Aggie, Dozer, and Ribbon. Once we finished this first reading, I gave students about two minutes to whisper the explicit traits of the greens and Verdi that they recalled from the text.

Next, we discussed the fact that authors don't always come out and give every detail about a character. Sometimes, the reader has to infer based on the dialogue in the story.




Now that we had read the story once, each student received their own Inferring Character Traits Graphic Organizer to fill out during our re-read and mini-lesson.


I went back and re-read some important pages from Verdi and picked out pages where the author used dialogue to show the characters' personality traits.


As I was reading the pages, students gave me a thumbs up when they heard the author use dialogue to show the characters' personality traits.

Then, focusing on just one character (or group of characters e.g., the greens), we worked together to pick out some of the best quotes from the text that we could use to infer personality traits based on the characters' dialogue.




Students worked with me to fill out their own graphic organizers for the dialogue portion, but it was up to them to do the inferring.


I gave students about four minutes to write down their own inferences, and I walked the room to glance over their shoulders and help students that needed some re-teaching.




After about four minutes, we shared what we could infer about the greens based on their dialogue in the text.




This graphic organizer is a free sample from my Analyzing Characters Pack {Common Core Aligned} found HERE!



Click HERE to grab the free Inferring Character Traits Graphic Organizer!



Grab a copy of Verdi to use in your own classroom!



Click HERE to check out part two of this series: Comparing and Contrasting Two or More Characters in a Text. Make sure you grab all of the freebies in the post!

Stay tuned to part three! I will explore character conflicts, and determining the theme of a story!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Color by Number for Big Kids!

I know many of you are probably on Spring Break, but most of us here in the north have a few more weeks of school! Hopefully those of you that have break are relaxing and enjoying the much deserved time off! Yes, I said relaxing! Between all of the snow days, indoor recess days, sick days, and test prep, these last few months can be some of the toughest!

I'm here to share with you my latest creation that will hopefully help all of you busy teachers!

It's my Color by Number for Big Kids Pack! Click HERE to grab my 5th Grade Math version, and click HERE to grab my 4th Grade Math version!


This pack is specifically for 5th graders, because it covers every single 5th Grade Common Core Math Standard. 


This pack is specifically for 4th graders, because it covers every single 4th Grade Common Core Math Standard. 


Seriously, my kids are OBSESSED with these Color by Number activities! I have them in all of my holiday math packs, and they still can't get enough!

I originally started creating these Color by Number activities after my students were begging to do them during indoor recess (seriously!). Then, it turned into me creating a few more to leave with a substitute teacher. Then, before I knew it, I had almost 400 math problems on task cards, and 11 super adorable pictures done!

Here's a sneak peak at some of the completed pictures:





I made these Color by Number activities a bit different than my others. I had my students complete the problems on task cards instead of having the problems inside the picture.


I did this so I could beef up some of the problems! Including coordinate graphs, function tables, fraction models, and word problems is super important if I am going to use these for review all year long.


Below are a few quick snapshots of the preview, which you can check out HERE



Click HERE to check out my Color by Number for Big Kids! Have a great weekend! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Outdoor Biodiversity Scavenger Hunt

Happy Sunday blog world! I am alive! Did you all think I fell off the face of the Earth for a hot second? Life has been very busy lately, and I have been working on some HUGE things for you all. Some of which I can't wait to share with you very soon!

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know that we were preparing for a huge snowstorm this past week. But, lucky for me, my Bauble Bar order arrived just in time, so at least I could be snowed in in-style! ;)



And yes, I'm getting married in 5 months! Between facing the treacherous outdoor elements every other day this winter, and wedding planning, it feels good to get back to blogging!

Today was the first day we have had blue skies and sunshine in such a long time, and it got me thinking. With the number of snow days our kids have had this winter, we need to get them outside. Despite the fact that we all have test prep going on, and many of us are in that final crunch, it's still so important to take a moment with your students to give them some outdoor, real-world experiences. 

So, in an effort to get kids outside, I found this phenomenal outdoor Biodiversity Scavenger Hunt by E is for Explore! 


Us midwest folks may need to wait a few days for this, but I'm hoping that, by the end of the week, we'll be good! Just give your kids some clipboards or textbooks to write on, grab a pencil, and have them hunt for abiotic and biotic factors either somewhere on school grounds (think nature walk) or even in their own backyards! Even if you feel like you can't carve out time from your current schedule, try asking your students if they would like to spend their recess together as a class. I guarantee they will love the idea! 

Then, once students complete the Biodiversity Scavenger Hunt, E is for Explore recommends that students create a food chain or web to represent what they've discovered in the ecosystem they explored! I love it! 


Can you see that teeny tiny bit of grass that is finally showing?! I could shout with happiness! I haven't seen grass in over 4 months!

Click HERE to check out one of my favorite websites E is for Explore, and grab this free Biodiversity Scavenger Hunt! Have fun! 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hurry, Hop, and Win Blog Hop and Giveaway!

I'm linking up with some of my favorite upper elementary bloggers for a Hurry, Hop, and Win Blog Hop and Giveaway!


For our giveaway, we are each giving away one $25 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers.


All you have to do is enter my rafflecopter below for your chance to win. The giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, and each blog will choose one winner that will be announced on Thursday morning.

But that's not all! TpT is throwing their HUGE site wide sale on Thursday, February 27th and Friday, February 28th! That $25 gift card will do a lot of damage!

I will have my entire store marked down on Thursday and Friday, and TpT is offering an additional discount when you use the code: TPT3. That's a total savings of 28% off every product in my store!

Below is a preview of just some of the items I will have on sale.

Click HERE to check out my English Language Arts Assessments and Teaching Notes for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades.



Click HERE to check out my March Madness Basketball Tournament Math Project!
Click HERE to check out my Spring Holidays Persuasive Writing Pack!


Tis the season for test prep, right?! Click HERE to check out my Bundled Review Packs.




Enter for your chances to win a $25 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card below!



After you enter my giveaway, head on over to visit Shelley Gray at Teaching in the Early YearsHer blog is the next stop on the hop!


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