A New Year With New Novels For Your Students

I count myself  a lucky teacher when it comes to how I teach reading in my classroom.  I am not tied to a basal, but instead, I get to use novels as the basis for my lessons. This can be a two edged sword… I love introducing my students to new books.  However, after a few years of teaching a novel, I find myself wanting a new novel to use with my students and to also engage myself with new lessons.   As a result, I am always on the lookout for engaging novels for my fifth graders.

Not long ago, I was reading a thread on Facebook with teachers offering their favorite books for their students.  One book kept being mentioned…Because of Mr. Terupt.  So many teachers were singing the praises of the book that I just had to investigate it.    I was blown away by Rob Buyea’s novel!!!

Because of Mr. Terupt tells the story of a school year in the lives of 7 very different fifth grade students and the lessons they learn from their teacher, Mr. Terupt and each other.  We, as teachers, have had all of these students in our classes…the brain, the new girl, the shy girl and the class clown to name just a few of the seven characters.  This novel has my students engaged and excited about what the next chapter would bring! My students were so engaged, they decided to create a video, using Ipads,  of the culminating event of the novel.  Scripts were written and roles chosen.  This was definitely a student led project.  When it was finished, the students had a viewing for parents and invited the principal.  Writing, technology, and reading all in one project!

It tells the story of a group of students’ fifth grade year with a first year teacher, Mr.Terupt.    His fresh ideas and lessons engage and excite his students.  He connects with these seven kids, especially.  Mr. Terupt’s ways of teaching and discipling students leads to a terrible event that impacts the seven students and their  very different perspectives on the even make the rest of the novel very engaging and made for some really good class discussions as students shared their perspectives of the novel.  If you’d like to see some of the questions I used with my students just click Because of Mr. Terupt.

Another book I am really excited about is Fish In A Tree!  It’s about a sixth grade girl, Ally, who has managed to hide the fact she can’t read very well!  It’s written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt and it is another fabulous new novel.  Ally would rather be thought of as a troublemaker than admit she has trouble reading.  Her dad is deployed which will resonate with many students and the family has moved many times as part of his military career.  Ally’s new teacher, Mr. Daniels, has seen beneath the troublemaker pose Ally presents.  Ally has made two friends, almost in spite of herself, and together they discover their strengths.

I began Fish in a Tree as a read aloud, on the recommendation of one of my students who read it as part of Battle of the Books.  It  quickly captured my students’ attention and the discussions made me realize that my class and I needed to give this book much more attention. I took the book home and read it over the weekend. It is awesome!!!  So many students will identify with Ally and her struggles, both with reading and dealing with other students in her classroom as the new girl once again.

Fish in a Tree is going to be my next class novel after we finish Because of Mr. Terupt.   Both of these books were new to both myself and my students.  Their reactions to both books were very positive and kept my students wanting to know what was going to happen next.

Check out both books…I hope you enjoy them!  Let me know what you think!

 

 

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It’s TpT Cyber Sale Time, So Update Your Wishlist!!!

It’s teachers’ favorite time of year….Teacherspayteachers Cyber Monday (and Tuesday) Sale!!!!  Let me help you AND save you some money at the same time!!!

I know that you  work hard all year and anything I can do to make your job a bit easier and say “Thank you” gives me a chance to extend the season of Thanksgiving.  Teacherspayteachers feels the same way and so Monday, November 26 and Tuesday, November 27  my store will be discountied 20%!  Plus if you use the code CYBER18, you will get an additional 5% in savings!!

Here’s your opportunity to grab all those many items on your wishlist at discounted prices!!!  I won’t lie; I hope you’ll take a look at all my goodies!  Susan Mescall , so just click on my name and browse my store of products.

 

Teacherspayteachers Cyber Sale!!!

Now that you know about the sale, polish your wishlist and get ready to save time and money!!!

Happy shopping!!!

Want a terrific teaching solution to your early finisher problems?

This happened in my early teaching career just about this time of year.  School had been in session for a few weeks and my students had mastered stations/center behavior…almost.  I had several students who  quickly completed their station work and despite being warned, always came to my small group to tell me, “I’m done, so what can I do now?”  I would have to stop and quickly find another activity to engage my early finishers.  In the meantime, I have lost the attention of my small guided group.  Picture me tearing out my hair!!!

Too often, the follow-up activities were just more paperwork.  In desperation one weekend, I created a group of task cards that encompassed many different activities.  I put them up on one of my bulletin boards with the heading CHALLENGE BOARD! Each student was given a Challenge Folder with their name on it.   I showed the board to the class and explained that IF each of them finished the station they were supposed to do early, they could come and choose ANY task card activity.  They could work on their chosen activity until time to come back to whole group.

I also explained the Challenge Board could also be their morning work activity choice as they came into class each morning.  That way ALL my students could be working on a challenge activity, regardless of early finishing of stations.

This was a life saver for me!  Everyone was busy AND my students had choices for their work!!!  Besides my October Enrichment Challenges (just click the pics!)  I also have enrichment challenges for Halloween Activities for Early Finishers and Holiday Enrichment and Challenges for Early Finishers.  Just click the link to find more challenges and enrichment activities!!

How To Begin The Year Positive

Every teacher enters the classroom on the first day of school with high hopes and expectations.  I sure do!  Well, this year, instead of hoping the year stays positive, I decided take direct  steps to keep my students on the positive path and off the side  paths of negativity.  So what am I doing?  I’m so glad you asked!!!

*THE WRINKLED HEART activity :  A few years ago I saw this on  Pinterest and  “grabbed” this activity with both hands!!!  I wish I could find the person who first posted this idea because I’d hug them!!  This activity is a winner!

Give each student a sheet of red construction paper.  Have your students fold their paper and then cut out a heart.  Size doesn’t matter.  After their heart is cut out, ask your students to wad up their heart and WHISPER insults to the heart….just a short time!  Don’t want the students to get carried away.  After a minute or two of whispers, I ask the students to smooth out their heart and tell it , “I was just playing” or “I was just kidding”.   Have them continue to smooth out their heart.  Then ask the students if the marks on the heart disappeared after telling the heart they were “just kidding” or “just playing”.    Of course the marks are still there.  I remind the students that their hearts are just like the hearts they insulted.  While the words may be gone, the heart still shows the scars…just like our hearts can be scarred by careless or negative words.    It really got to my students…as I had hoped.  Words have power to scar and we resolved to make sure our words didn’t leave scars on anyone’s heart this year.

 

Let me know how you build community in your own classroom.

Thanks!

Growing Thinkers One Inspiring Quote At A Time

i’m just a level 2

With all the testing pressure we teachers have all felt, our students, themselves, feel that pressure even more, and too often their self-worth becomes tied to their test results…”I’m a Level 2″; “I’m not a Level 5”; and so on.  It REALLY bothered me when I heard my students talk like that!  I couldn’t seem to change their minds, so I started looking for a way to share with  my students inspiring words from other people and then have my students apply those encouraging words to their own life.

inspiration

I decided to create a collection of inspiring quotes from many different people.  I also decided my students needed to know a little about the person, especially if the person was not familiar to students.  So each person’s page has their quote and a short bio about the person.  I also decided that my students needed to do more than just look at the quote and read the biography.  Here’s one of my students responding to Henry Ford’s quote!

 

This became our Wednesday morning meeting!  Here’s what I did…first I had my students copy the quote into their writing journals.  Then my students read the biography.  Each page also had questions for my students to record their answers to go along with the person’s quote.  I didn’t leave it right there.  Once, everyone had finished writing their answers, the class then discussed both the quote and their answers to the questions on the page.

It really amazed me how so many of my students took the quotes to heart…it was what I had hoped for!  It’s Growth Mindset .  Check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

A Fabulous Sale You SHOULDN’T Miss!

it’s SAving season!!!

Hi folks!  So many of our colleagues are in testing or review mode right now.  It is NOT a time that any teacher likes.  I sometimes think that the time  AFTER testing is the hardest time of all!  A lot of students see the tests as the end of the school year and yet as many of us know, there are still weeks of school left!!!

#SPRINGSAVINGS to the rescue!

Today and tomorrow, there is a fabulous sale going on right now on TeacherspayTeachers!  Over 600 products have been discounted 50% !!!  Use the hashtag #SPRINGSAVINGS to locate them  Here’s your opportunity to grab some new activities that will engage your students and keep them from zoning out after testing is over!!

Use the #SPRINGSAVINGS and have fun perusing all the goodies!  Good hunting and may your new lessons engage your students and make your last weeks of school smooth fun and engaging!

 

Make Earth Day Fun and Meaningful

Two for the Price of One!

With Earth Day right around the corner,  those pesky end of the year tests are also beginning to show on the horizon, too.  As  a public school teacher,  I was ALWAYS looking for thematic activities that would also help my students sharpen their tested skills.  Sort of a twofer!  I think my Earth Day Activities will do both for you!

earth day 1970

Earth Day itself began in 1970 and was the brainchild of U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson.  He was very concerned that the Earth’s environment did not seem to be an important political issue and his first Earth Day drew millions of people to his cause.  Later that year President Nixon and Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency as a result along with legislation concerning both water and Endangered Species Act.

Earth day today!

In the 48 years since that first Earth Day, there has been a lot  more awareness of our need to recycle, reuse, and reduce.  I decided to combine facts about cleaning our environment with my students need to practice their math skills.  As a result, I created 24 word problems that will help my students learn how recycling can help improve our environment AND work on their problem solving skills at the same time!  I love being able to combine two school subjects; in this case, science and math within a single lesson!!

 

I also added a fun activity using Earth Day vocabulary.  My kids love, love word searches and so my Earth Day Activities also include a word search AND a writing activity!  I also included answer keys for both the 24 math problems and the word search.  Take a look and let me make your Earth Day lesson a snap!

 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Earth-Day-Activities-3755809

What are you doing for Earth Day?  Share your ideas with me!