Thoughtful Log Entries: Making Thinking Visible

The goal of thoughtful log entries is for students to share thoughtful responses as they reflect upon their reading by using comprehension strategies and text evidence to support their ideas and make their thinking visible. I adapted this idea from the work of Linda Dorn in Teaching for Deep Comprehension: A Reading Workshop Approach ©2005, and I have combined the idea to align with Common Core Standards (RL) Reading Literature and (RI) Reading Informational Text for grades 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Originally, these responses to make thinking visible were supposed to be recorded in composition notebooks. The questions were glued on a page and students would write their answers under it. While this is still an option, in 2017, we can also integrate technology to make it even more accessible for all students. Using tools like SeeSaw, Book Creator, Explain Everything, or ShadowPuppetEDU, students can record their thinking with their voice, pictures, and videos. When we give students the opportunity to explain their thinking orally, students who struggle with writing can still make their thinking visible to others in a way they couldn't otherwise. Making thoughtful log entries digital will allow you to assess your students' thinking by taking the writing out of the response. 
I wrote a blog post called Close Reading: Character Traits & Text Evidence Brave Irene. It is a lesson designed around the first thoughtful log entry. It has an example of an answer that was done using Book Creator. 

You can use it as a formative or interim assessment with this kid-friendly rubric. 

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Literacy Based STEAM Challenges

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The Maker Movement is big right now, and you can implement one in your own classroom with these STEAM challenges.

The Great Air Race

Begin the challenge with these 2 great books:
Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen

Introduce the Challenge:

What makes a paper airplane fly the farthest? Create your own paper airplane. Experiment with different designs to find the one that will fly the farthest. Give your airplane at least 5 test flights and graph your data. Make a reflection video of your findings that include a recording of your test flights. 

This video trailer will help set the stage for your students as they create their own flying machines:

You can also inspire your students by watching the Guinness World Record for the Longest Paper Airplane flight – 226 feet!

CCSS 2.MD.A.4, 2.MD.D.10, W.2.7, W.2.8, 3.MD.B.3, W.3.8, ISTE 4a, 4c, 6c

Become an Inventor

In this challenge, we want students to get their creative juices flowing so they can become inventors. This is a very open-ended challenge, so get students inspired with this great book:

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

and this message from the Kid President:

Introduce the Challenge:

Time to get creative! Invent something that you think will be useful to others. Start with a problem that you want to solve with your invention. Write a script and create a commercial to describe your invention, how it works, and why you think other people will want to use it. 

You have probably heard of the Cardboard Challenge inspired by Caine's Arcade. Inventing something with cardboard could be a great way for students to begin inventing. Include different kinds of boxes and other miscellaneous items in your maker space, and share how Caine's Arcade got started:

This book also has a lot of inspiring ideas for cardboard inventors:

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

Another fun addition to your maker space could be the Cardboard Creator Toolkit from Lakeshore. It includes rivets, screws, hinges, and other tools that are made specifically for using with cardboard. My son got one for Christmas, and we have been making a lot of cardboard inventions at our house!
                                   Cardboard Robot             Cardboard Car with Steering Wheel

Once students have invented something, it's time to create a commercial. This is a great opportunity to work on opinion writing. Opinion writing is a standard for students grades 1 - 5, and the basic structure is the same. 

To help students write their own commercial scripts, start by analyzing infomercials that follow the same basic structure. Using Edpuzzle, I annotated these infomercials to identify the elements of opinion writing. 

I would suggest having students create their own commercials using iMovie or Shadow Puppet EDU once they have written their own scripts. 

CCSS  W.1.1, W.1.6, SL.1.5, W.2.1, W.2.6,  SL.2.5, W.3.1, W.3.6, SL.3.5, W.4.1, W.4.6, SL.4.5, W.5.1, W.5.6, SL.5.5 , ISTE 4a, 4d, 6a, 6b,6c, 6d

My Mixed Up Chameleon

This challenge is based on the story The Mixed Up Chameleon by Eric Carle:

First, students get to create their own mixed up chameleon using the app pic collage for kids. Erintegration had a great blog post called Eric Carle Style Digital Collages On Pic Collage. She gives step by step instructions on how to create these collages. Using this really cool digital collage technique, students can create their own mixed up chameleon on the iPad. 
Essential Question:
If your mixed up chameleon was a real animal, what kind of animal would it be?

Next, students analyze all the different animal parts that make up their mixed up chameleon. 
Thinking about the animal classification, the habitat, and the diet of all the animals that make up their mixed up Chameleon, students have to decide how they would classify their mixed up chameleon and justify their reasons. Using pic collage for kids, shadow puppet EDU, and putting it in Book Creator as an interactive digital notebook, I created an example of what it could look like:

CCSS RL.1.7, SL.1.5, RL.2.7, SL.2.5, NGSS 2-LS4-1, ISTE 6a, 6b

How to Create a Tangram Animal

This math challenge begins with the story Grandfather Tang's Story by Ann Tompert:

Introduce the Challenge:
Choose one of the tangram animals in the story and create it. Create a step by step “How to” guide using pictures to show someone how to recreate it. Be sure to use mathematical language.
*Bonus* Create your own tangram animal and directions. Remember that you must use all 7 shapes.

Students can create their own set of 7 tangrams with the instructions from this video:

Then, they can study one of the tangram animals from the book and create a "how to" story. By taking pictures of each step in the creation of a tangram animal, students can illustrate their "how to" story with their own pictures. The easiest way to do this is on the iPad using the book creator app to create each page of the story with the student's own pictures. Students can even use the app vimo to highlight important parts of their "how to" story. Here is an example:

I wrote a blog post with directions on how to use the app vimo. You can find it here: Coffee Break with Emily: Animated Valentines.

The next step in this challenge is to create a video glossary for geometry terms related to the tangrams. 

Although the following video is not one of the terms listed above, it is a student example of what the terms in this video glossary might look like. This video was created using Shadow Puppet EDU.

CCSS 2.G.A.1, W.2.2, W.2.6, SL.2.5, 3.G.A.1, W.3.2, W.3.6, SL.3.5, 4.G.A.1, W.4.2, W.4.6, SL.4.5 ISTE 6c

These Literacy Based STEAM Challenges are available for free on Teacher Sherpa. It includes QR codes for all the videos in this post and interactive digital notebook pages for each challenge. Enjoy!


Coffee Break with Emily: Animated Valentines

Here is a fun & easy way to use technology to create an animated valentine! (Starring my son!)

1. Take a photo or video that you would like to turn into a valentine.
2. Using the app vimo, you can add a theme. I choose hearts.

3. Then I choose to add a label and typed "Happy Valentine's Day."

4. Last I added some music from my iTunes library. (It's my son's favorite song!)

That's it! Now you have a super cute animated valentine to share with family or send to a teacher! I saved it to the camera roll and uploaded it to my google drive.  From there it is easy to share. You could even make it a QR code and put it inside a Valentine card. This idea was inspired from The Techie Teacher in her blog post Make a New Year's Resolution GIF on the iPad. She has some great ideas and suggests using this app.

This could be a great academic tool as well. It can be used in a digital interactive notebook to highlight important information. For example, students could create a nonfiction text feature notebook and identify text features.

You can also have students use this app to create a "How to" story and highlight important steps. I have some "how to" interactive digital notebook pages that you can find in this blog post How to Use Our Class iPads & Chromebooks.
How could you use this app? Please share your ideas below! Have fun!


Close Reading Character Traits & Text Evidence: Brave Irene

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We all know that a foundational ELA skill in the Common Core State Standards is close reading, but what exactly does that mean and how do we teach it? The article Common Core: Close Reading by Timothy Shanahan, published by Scholastic, is one of the best explanations I've seen so far. Shanahan describes close readers as, ". . . try(ing) to recognize the author’s tone or perspective, the implications of the author’s word choices, and why a text is structured or organized as it is. Additionally, readers should go beyond a text, evaluating its quality or value, comparing it with other texts, or determining its implications."

He's pretty specific about what close reading is, what it isn't, and how it is different from the kind of teaching we typically do. He also makes a point to say that what we typically do isn't wrong–not every text needs or deserves a close read. So when you are teaching close reading, Shanahan suggests breaking it down into 3 parts by doing 3 readings of the text with 3 different goals during each read:

1st read:  Focus on what the text says. (CCSS Reading Standards 1, 2, 3)
2nd read: Emphasize how the text works. (CCSS Reading Standards 4, 5, 6)
3rd read: Evaluate how the text compares and measures up to other texts. (CCSS Reading Standards 7, 8, 9)

Using these guidelines and principles of close reading, I have designed a close reading lesson for 2nd, 3rd or 4th graders with the mentor text Brave Irene by William Steig and digital interactive reading response notebook pages to record their thinking. 

On the first read, as we focus on what the text says, the essential question is: How would you describe Irene? What is she like? What did she do in the story to make you describe her that way?
If this is one of the first times your students have tried citing text evidence, the video above, Power in Literature: Textual Evidence created by Shmoop, is a great reference to help teach students why we use text evidence to support our thinking.
Using the tree map above, students answer the first part of the essential question by identifying character traits that describe Irene. They use evidence from the text to support why they chose those character traits to describe her.  

Using the same kind of graphic organizer, students identify character traits of the wind and use supporting text evidence: The author makes the wind a main character in the story. What is the wind like? What evidence makes you think so?

Identifying character traits of wind can be tricky. The video above, Personification by Chungdahm Learning, helps teach students how something that is not alive can have human traits.

By importing these pages into the app book creator or google slides, students can create a digital reading response journal in which they can use text, pictures, video, and their voice to explain their thinking.

During the second read, as we emphasize how the text works, the essential question is: Why would the author choose to make wind one of the main characters in the story?
This kind of analysis requires some higher level thinking, so this is another video that will help students analyze characters in a text, ELA 5: Protagonist vs. Antagonist created by Shmoop.

Students respond to this question by creating their own video using the app Shadow Puppet EDU to explain their thinking. The video below is my example of this digital interactive notebook:

There are many right answers to these questions, but this video gives you an idea of how this digital interactive reading response notebook might be answered. 

During the third read, as we focus on evaluating how this text compares to another text, the essential question is: Compare the main characters in Brave Irene by William Steig to the main characters in the story The Rain Stomper by Addie Boswell

Students can use the app Popplet to create a double bubble map to compare the protagonist and antagonist in these two stories and upload it onto this page in their digital interactive response to literature notebook. 

These digital interactive reading response notebook pages along with QR codes for all the videos above are available for free on Teacher Sherpa. Enjoy!

"Common Core: Close Reading." Jan. 2017. <>


How to Use Our Class iPads & Chromebooks

We got 5 iPads in each of our K-1 classrooms this year, so we created ebooks as a class to show how to use our class iPads. We used book creator and these template pages to create our own "how to" story.

We published this ebook on each of our iPads so the kids could refer to it whenever they needed to. They LOVED starring in their own book! We will use it to introduce the iPads to next year's class too. 
We also made an ebook to model how to log into a chromebook. This is a great reminder for kids, especially after a long break. 

These interactive notebook pages are available for free on Teacher Sherpa. Click here to download a copy for yourself!


Do Your Students Know How to Cite Their Sources?

Do your students know how to cite their sources? This can be tricky for our elementary students to learn.  There are a lot of steps, so when do we expect students to know how to cite their sources?

Fourth grade CCSS W.4.8 is the first grade level that asks students to provide a list of sources: Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.
If you need help breaking down these steps for students, here is a resource that scaffolds the process for students.

It breaks down each step of citing a source for a book and a website, and it includes a QR code with a video that breaks it into 5 steps for students. These pages can be printed out so students can write in each step for citing the source. You can download them for free on Teacher Sherpa by clicking on the picture above. 

But you don't have to wait until they are in fourth grade to begin showing students how to cite their sources. Highlight the parts of the Works Cited Page you expect your students to complete so they can begin to see how to give credit to authors. I suggest adding a new section of the Works Cited Page at each grade level:

1st grade: 
Book: book title, .print Website: Page/article title, .web

2nd grade:
Book: author, book title, .print
Website: Page/article title, name of website, .web

3rd grade:
Book: author, book title, year the book was published, .print
Website: Page/article title, name of website, year/date site was updated, .web

4th grade and up:
Complete Works Cited Page

If you need more resources to help you teach students how to cite their sources, Common Sense Education has some great lessons to help you get started: How to Cite a Site, Whose is it Anyway?

They also have this great video that I always use to start the discussion about copyright and giving credit to the creator.



Technology Standards: I CAN!

This summer I got to attend the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) Conference in Denver, and they released the Updated 2016 ISTE Standards for Students. I truly feel that these standards were well thought out and reflect what it means to be a 21st century learner. 

There are 7 standards with 4 indicators under each standard (a - d), and they even define several terms within the indicators to make sure that the expectations are clear. Very thorough! There are Teacher standards under refinement right now, and I'm very interested to see how they outline standards for teachers!

With permission from ISTE, I created these I CAN posters for students that were written in kid language, and I included the corresponding indicators for teachers. I also included the definitions given by ISTE, and I made vocabulary word wall cards that you can use with students to create definitions in your own language. There is a blank space after the word so that you can include a QR code to post a definition that your students create!

I also included a cover for an assessment notebook. I LOVE using digital interactive notebooks, and I thought a standards assessment notebook would be a great way to show a body of evidence and include digital projects that students do to show their technology proficiency. 

I recently discovered a new place to share resources called Teacher Sherpa. On Teacher Sherpa, everything is free, and the best part is, you can edit all of it! Yep--even pdfs! They have tools that you can use to find what you're looking for and tweak it to make it fit perfectly for your needs! With a free account, you get 2 free downloads a month, for $36 a year, you can get unlimited downloads. They also have tools so that you can create your own stuff from scratch. 

TeacherSherpa from TeacherSherpa on Vimeo.

This is where I have shared these free resources! Click here to check it out!