Sunday, January 20, 2019

Blended Book Review


Blended
Blended packs a lot into a middle grade novel, but kids deal with these situations everyday: blended families (in race), blended families (in living situation), questions about who you are, where you belong, and how others and society perceive you. Blended will hit home for many while offering insight for those who haven’t experienced these things.  It’s a thought-provoking read that middle grade students will enjoy. #reading #book #middlegrade #fiction #middlegradebook 
Sharon M. Draper (Author)
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Middle Grade, Fiction

Publication Date: October, 30, 2018

Isabella switches lives every week. One week she lives with her dad, his girlfriend, and her son in a very fancy house, and the next week she lives with her mom and John-Mark in a comfortable house.

She's eleven years old and stuck between two parents who argue all the time about her, and she's stuck in two different worlds. Switching houses every week is more than just switching clothes and names (Izzy with her mom, Isabella with her dad). It's also switching identities.

Isabella is the same person, but her life experiences with her black dad and her white mom are very different.  Isabella and Darren (her dad's girlfriend's son) are stopped by police, and things escalate quickly when a cell phone is mistaken for a gun. 

Blended packs a lot into a middle grade novel, but kids deal with these situations everyday: blended families (in race), blended families (in living situation), questions about who you are, where you belong, and how others and society perceive you. Blended will hit home for many while offering insight for those who haven’t experienced these things.  It’s a thought-provoking read that middle grade students will enjoy.

If you’re interested in reading Blended, you can purchase a copy here on Amazon


*A copy of this book was provided free of charge for an honest review.



Monday, January 14, 2019

Don't Let Bad Handwriting Habits Stop Your Students

In the digital age, handwriting is getting pushed to the side to make way for other technology-based skills. There is no doubt that technology skills are necessary for students who are growing up in an ever changing digital-saturated world, but being able to put pen to paper and scrawl legible words is still a needed skill.

So what can you do when students come to you with illegible or barely legible writing?  

Don't let bad handwriting stop your students. You can develop their fine motor skills and help them build muscle memory with repeated practice. #handwriting #writing #writingskills #3rdgrade #4thgrade #5thgrade #6thgrade #7thgrade #8thgrade


Handwriting is a skill that needs to be tackled in two ways:

1) Fine Motor Skills

Many students do have a lot of dexterity in their thumbs these days, but the rest of the muscles in their hands don't get the same use. Crayons, glue, scissors, and colored pencils in younger years that helped develop fine motor skills over time have given way to tablets and smart phones. 

Bring back some of the fun of fine motor skills with detailed coloring books, sculpting with clay, board games that require pieces to be moved, knitting, or crocheting.  Tracing squiggly lines and curves in the "C" shape also help build basic fine motor and basic handwriting skills.

Utilizing basic pencil grips like these ones: Ergonomic Pencil Grips can also help students with finger placement.


2) Practice, Practice, Practice!

The most effective way to build handwriting skills is through good-old-fashioned practice!  Muscle memory is needed to produce legible writing, and the older a student is, the more practice may be necessary to break bad habits. 

Handwriting practice sheets help students practice the needed repetition to develop muscle memory of proper letter formation. 

These handwriting packets combine practice with mastery tests so students can progress through proper formation of each letter of the alphabet at their own pace.  If students need more time, they can have it. If students show mastery and are ready to move on to the next letter they can.  

Handwriting RTI Practice Sheets and Tests - Print #handwriting #writing #ela #3rdgrade #4thgrade #5thgrade #6thgrade #7thgrade #8thgrade #9thgrade


Handwriting RTI Practice Sheets and Tests - Cursive #handwriting #writing #ela #3rdgrade #4thgrade #5thgrade #6thgrade #7thgrade #8thgrade #9thgrade


Handwriting RTI Practice Sheets and Tests - Script D'Nealian #handwriting #writing #ela #3rdgrade #4thgrade #5thgrade #6thgrade #7thgrade #8thgrade #9thgrade


There is no quick fix for handwriting, especially with older students.  But utilizing the organized, systematic approach the Handwriting RTI packets employ is the most effective way I've seen to see dramatically improve any student's handwriting.



Don't let bad handwriting stop your students. You can develop their fine motor skills and help them build muscle memory with repeated practice. #handwriting #writing #writingskills #3rdgrade #4thgrade #5thgrade #6thgrade #7thgrade #8thgrade



Sunday, January 13, 2019

Use Pictures to Teach and Develop Inference Making Skills


Making inferences can be a tricky skill for students to learn.  It can be an especially difficult skill for students who have difficulty decoding and reading fluently at the grade level expectation.  Students can spend so much time simply trying to figure out what the words on the page say that by the time they finish reading a passage, they have no idea what they actually read. Comprehension is hard when decoding is hard, and advanced reading skills like making inferences are even harder. 

One way to still develop advanced reading skills even with students who are not yet fluent readers is to utilize pictures.


Use Pictures to Teach Making Inferences #inference #criticalthinking #readingskills #ela

Pictures provide a concrete, accessible avenue for students to dive into advanced skills. 

With pictures students can learn, practice, and develop inference making and then transfer those skills to text-based resources as their mastery increases. 

The main resource I use to help student develop their inference making skills is: Making Inferences from Pictures

Use Pictures to Teach Making Inferences #inference #criticalthinking #readingskills #ela


It has 40 weeks worth of high-quality photos.  Each week has five photos (one for each day) for a total of 200 pictures altogether.  

The best part of the resource is that it is flexible. It can be used as a quick bell-ringer activity to get students seated, working, and thinking.  Teachers can also use the lesson to build into larger conversations about inference or utilize narrative writing extension activities. 

Have you used these Daily Picture-Based Inference Prompts in your classroom?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments section!


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