Amy Mezni Tuesday, July 19, 2016
If you are like me, every year you try to improve your independent reading program. Even though I wanted an alternative to a daily reading log, I usually ended up with some form of one - which everyone hated, parents, students, and me. I did not want to be the reading log police, and apparently neither did parents. I didn't find reading logs effective either. If I was lucky, half of the students completed a log and, for the most part, they were not high quality. Students were writing about books they read to younger brothers and sisters - or just whatever book they had at home. My best readers hated completing them. They were often the kids I had to chase down - even though they were reading constantly!
What is Readingopoly?I decided I had to come up with something that had more student buy in. My goal was to get students to like to read, not make it another chore. I also wanted to encourage students to read different genres. Yes, I know that students enjoy reading books in a series. Yes, I know kids should be able to select their own book. I wanted a system that would encourage kids to read a lot of different books while providing student choice. I also didn't want to spend a lot of time or money tracking what each student read.
I created Readingopoly! It is a "game" in which students collect game board pieces and earn brag tags for collecting a set. Each set focuses on a different genre. Students keep track of their own pieces on a mini-game board. You give them the sticker when they earn it - no more lost (or stolen) pieces. If a student doesn't want to read the genre, they just don't earn the sticker and brag tag.
Setting up ReadingopolyIt does take a little set up in the beginning. Teachers need to print and assemble the game board and post it on a bulletin board or science board. Teachers will need a game board for each student. I recommend printing the stickers and the brag tags and storing them in an organizer or file. Templates for each are included in the resource. I printed the stickers on address labels. Also, a book review form is included as an additional option.
I will tell you, the board draws a lot of interest from students. It is definitely an attention grabber. My students enjoy collecting the fast food stickers for prizes, so this was easy for them to understand.
Readingopoly: A Fun Alternative to Reading LogsThis program can be used with a lot of flexibility. Students can easily read books on their own level. Teachers could require students to show the book to earn the sticker. Teachers could use AR and Reading Counts tests or a simple discussion about the book as proof of reading. Teachers could also require a completed book review to earn the sticker.
Do you want an easy way to manage student book reviews? I have created a coordinating digital classroom library for that - I will write about it in the next blog post!
Amy Mezni Sunday, July 10, 2016
Are you using interactive notebooks with your students? I have used them for a few years, and I have discovered the best supplies for interactive notebooks! Okay, a bit of hyperbole there, but I definitely have found supplies that I prefer over others.
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1. Spiral NotebooksYes, some teachers love, love, love composition books. I don't. I have really large handwriting, and even teaching upper grades I have so many students with really bad handwriting. Using spiral notebooks gives me more room and if someone makes a big mistake, then we can just rip out a page or two. Also, most importantly, spiral notebooks are super cheap. Cheap is important. (Don't forget to lurk the after school sales to get them even cheaper!)
2. Crayola Twistables Colored PencilsOkay, you know that special stash of school supplies you keep in your room? You know the ones. The ones that are partially hidden or the kids know that they are NOT to touch them. Teacher Only Supplies. And not any teacher - just YOU.
Get Crayola Twistables for you. They are not super cheap, but if they were, I would get them for every student in my room. No more waiting for kids to sharpen colored pencils. No more kids breaking the pencil sharpener with colored pencils. All they have to do is twist them and more color comes up. They do last a fairly long time, so for me they are definitely worth it. The Crayola Twistable Crayons are also nice, but I do like the colored pencils more. (No affiliate promotion, but I would really not object to some product....)
I also have found that I can use the colored pencils as highlighters, so that is a way to save some money.
3. Colored PensPersonally, I prefer Paper Mate Profile pens. I have arthritis, and I have found that it is hard for me to grip some pens after a while or that some pens are just hard for me to hold. (Hard to hold = really bad handwriting) I have also found that gel pens are easier on my hands, but they can be expensive.
Why do you need colored pens? It helps to have pens to label things before you color over it. A bright color makes the words stand out.
4. Bic Round Stic Grip PensOkay, I hear you. Why do you need even more pens? Because, kids lose theirs and somehow your pens disappear. The fancy colored pen? They go in that DO NOT touch area you have. These Bic pens write really nicely and are usually very affordable at BTS sales.
5. White School GlueThis is definitely a teacher preference just like the notebook style. White glue makes a mess. Kids will soak their paper until you have them trained. Why not just use stick glue? Because stick glue is falsely named. Nothing sticks, at least not for long.
If you want your students to have their notebooks long-term and actually still have their work in the notebook, use white glue. I personally use Elmer's School Glue. I know their are off brands, but for the past few years Elmer's is either 25 or 50 cents a bottle at BTS. Stock up - students will go through more glue than you ever thought possible. (If you don't buy the glue at the BTS sales, it is much more expensive in the middle of the year.)
6. Scotch Brand Titanium ScissorsOnce again, these are for your hands only. However, nothing cuts as nicely as these little Scotch scissors. These are sharp, and they do not rub into my fingers. Completely worth a few bucks. (They will last forever as long as you don't try to cut something with them that you shouldn't - like a wire. Just don't. Trust me.)
7. Mechanical Pencils (Optional)If you write with a pencil because your students use pencils, you may want a mechanical pencil. It goes back to the pencil sharpening issue. However, my handwriting is really rotten, especially with pencils. Mechanical pencils are a bit better.
8. Colored Paper (Optional)I didn't put it in my picture, but I do know many teachers like to copy the interactive pieces on colored paper. I have had mixed results with that. I had certain colors that kids told me they didn't like because it was hard to read. Other students preferred colored paper because they hated to color. In the end, I use colored paper sparingly because it is expensive and because I tend to have a lot of maps in my social studies notebooks. I find it easier to add map details on white copy paper.
Do you have any other must have supplies for your interactive notebooks?
If you are new to interactive notebooks or are looking for resources, I have many free INBs in my TPT store for language arts and social studies.