Monday, March 28, 2016

Blending Technology and Project Based Learning

When implementing project based learning, I can't imagine a project without the use of technology. Whether you are using mobile devices, laptops, or desktops, there are so many applications and websites that can be resources and tools for the project based units. That's why today's post is all about blending technology and project based learning.

Blending technology and project based learning does NOT have to be a challenge. Get great tips and ideas for your elementary classroom by clicking on this link. Your PBL or STEM and STEAM projects will come to life! The tips and ideas presented here can be done with your 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th grade classroom or home school students. You'll love the websites, apps, and other technology ideas mentioned here. Check it out now! {second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth graders}

Friday, March 18, 2016

Growing Readers and Writers by Teaching with Mentor Texts

Growing Readers & Writers by teaching with Mentor Text

Spring Mentor Text Lessons - Character Traits

We've had a warm winter and the wildflowers are beginning to bloom. Spring has to be my favorite time of the year in Texas because of all the beautiful colors. The most popular wildflower is the bluebonnet. The bluebonnet resembles the bonnets early pioneer women wore to protect themselves from the hot Texas sun. It's also the state flower of Texas.

Texas Bluebonnets

I can't think of a better book to read in the spring than The Legend of the Bluebonnet. Tomie dePaola has written this beautiful folktale about a courageous Comanche girl who sacrifices her precious doll to save her tribe from the drought. This very lonely little girl has lost her parents to the drought and her doll is her only connection to her family. As a result of her sacrifice, the gods covered the ground with beautiful bluebonnets and rain. Tomie dePaola also brings in the customs of the Comanche culture through his writing and illustrations.

Character Traits - Legend of the Bluebonnet

Teaching characterization is not an easy skill to teach because the authors usually don't give word by word descriptions of the characters' personalities in the book. Readers may have to infer from the character's actions or what the character says. By reading the text, students can determine if a character is courageous, determined, fearful, anxious... I've provided three different graphic organizers for studying character traits. Each activity is different.

Character Traits - Legend of the Bluebonnet

Character Traits - Legend of the Bluebonnet

I would suggest that you begin the lesson by reading the story as a whole group and then use an anchor chart as you visually discuss the main character's physical traits and personality. Then, break into small groups to reread the story, discuss the character's unique traits, and complete the graphic organizers.

As your students read the story, they can ask themselves these questions:
  1. What words in the text describe the character?
  2. What do you infer about the character after reading the text? 
  3. What cultural experiences have an effect on the character? How does the character handle these experiences?
  4. How does the character change through events or conflicts in the story? Why do you think these events changed the character?
  5. How did people influence the character? What traits do you think the character has because of the influences?

Students can compare their own character traits to the character in the book. There are several websites I've listed for you to visit if you want your students to learn more about character traits. If you want to learn more about wildflowers, the National Wildflower Center is located here in Austin.
Here's a sample from my Legend of the Bluebonnet product.

The complete product includes The Legend of the Bluebonnet and The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush. Both wildflowers are popular in the Texas Hill Country.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Online Collaborative Projects You'll Love for Spring

If you're familiar with Projects by Jen, you know that her online collaborative projects are highly engaging, simple to complete, give lots of opportunity for extension.

Online Collaborative Projects

This spring, there are two projects I would like to share with you. Your students will love them. Most of Jen's projects contain step by step directions and give an opportunity to collaborate or share with schools all over the world.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Let's Move - Raising Healthier Kids

Last week, my granddaughter asked me to help her create a PowerPoint about Michelle Obama. We read about all of her different initiatives which include Joining Forces (supporting military families), Reach Higher (college and career opportunities), Let Girls Learn (help girls all over the world go to school and stay in school), and Let's Move (address the challenge of childhood obesity).

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