Sunday, 27 April 2014

Making Connections: Thinking Stem Posters

One of my other comprehension resources are the Making Connections Thinking Stem Posters. Click on the picture to see it in my TPT store :)

This was another resource I used in my room when teaching the Super Six. We started out with Text to Self Connections. As we read several texts students were able to choose a thinking stem to help articulate their thoughts. Students shared their connections in pairs, small groups and with the class.

After sharing their connections verbally, students moved onto writing a sentence and drawing a picture. The posters were placed on their desk to help them with their writing.

The posters were also hung on the wall so that students could always go back and refer to it if they needed to. This saved a lot of "Miss how do you spell ________" moments. They can also be scaled down and clipped together with a ring clip for use in guided reading groups or individual use.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Super Six Comprehension Strategies

I I love making resources. One of the latest resources I've made is a set of 6 posters about The Super Six Comprehension Strategies. Click on the picture to check it out on TPT.

The Super Six were used everyday in my classroom. I hung up the posters on my back wall and under each poster student work was hung up. Each time we started a new topic, new work was put on display. It became a Wall That Taught and was a great way of showcasing student work.

Here's a summary of how it was used in my year 1 classroom. This was not done in one lesson, but multiple lessons over a few weeks.

First of all we had a discussion about the meaning of the word text (check out my freebie poster in the previous post). We talked about how reading was not just about books and how we can read posters, music, diagrams e.t.c. This was an important concept as the students would be using the comprehension strategies with a range of texts.

Once the students had grasped that idea, it was time to introduce The Super Six! The first strategy was Visualising. We did a lot of activities that involved listening to passages and music. Students were asked to draw what they thought characters, objects and scenes looked like. It was important to emphasise that it's okay if their visualisation looked different to their friends'. Once they drew their pictures they were able to share their pictures and explain how they came to their visualisation. Ideas for texts; The Gruffalo, The Twits and any rainforest music.

The next strategy was Predicting. Students were already familiar with this, but I wanted to take it a bit further by getting them to explain how they reached their prediction. I also introduced them to the thinking stem "I predict...". We also started using this strategy for informational texts. They started to use features of the text like subheadings, text boxes and diagrams to assist in their predictions.

After that we covered Making Connections. We started off with Text to Self Connections with the thinking stem "This reminds me of...". Students wrote sentences in their journals using this stem and drew pictures. We then moved on to Text to Text Connections with the thinking stem "This remind me of......because....". This was a great opportunity to use traditional fairytales and the remakes of them (I.e The Three Little Pigs and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs). Then we focused on Text to World Connections. I picked out texts that I knew had something related to what we had done in school. A good text for this was George Saves the World by Lunchtime as we had previously been learning about recycling and had implemented a few green practices in our classroom.

Next up was Questioning. For this strategy we focused on the thinking stem "I wonder...". This helped the students come up with questions that required deeper thinking. We asked questions before, during and after reading.

Summarising was introduced by linking it to when we give news. We talked about how we only give the main points and don't talk about the little, unimportant things. To get students started we used the "Somebody wanted, but, so" strategy. We started off verbally, then drawing and then writing. Once students were confident with this we then moved on to a more detailed version using time connectives. We also had alpha boxes which we used to list the key words from the topic we were focusing on. This also doubled as a word wall.

The last strategy was Monitoring. We talked about what we could do if we didn't understand what we were reading. The students came up with answers like "ask the teacher" or "look at the pictures". We talked about how sometimes the teacher won't always be available to help and that there were things the students could do themselves to help. These were introduced as "Fix Up" strategies complete with a Bob the Builder picture and his catch phrase "Can we fix it? Yes we can!". Strategies we talked about; using pictures, rereading, asking questions, predicting based on what has happened so far, summarising and asking a friend.

Once these introduction lessons were done, we incorporated the strategies in our everyday routines and students started using them on their own without prompting. The use of thinking stems also encouraged deeper conversations and more sophisticated language.

The Super Six definitely made a positive impact on my classroom and the way students were learning. I would encourage anyone to give it a go.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Freebie: What is a Text? poster

One of the most influential professional development programs I have undertaken was about reading. It was a two year program that really made me think about the way I taught reading.

One of the things that was brought up, was the importance of students being exposed to different types of texts (e.g poems, movies, songs, posters, photos, websites, articles e.t.c). We were asked to create a survey to find out about the reading habits of our students. One thing that came up was that all of my students only saw reading a book as 'reading'. When discussing the results with other teachers, this was a pretty common theme.

So we had a few lessons on "what is a text?". One of the resources I created, was a "What is a Text?" poster. This was used when introducing the lessons and then hung up on the wall for reference. The students were pretty impressed when they realised that they do a lot more reading than they thought they did :)

Click on the picture to download on TPT

What is a Text? poster


After seeing all these amazing teaching blogs, I have finally started my own!

I have been teaching for 5 years and have had a variety of experiences. Like most fresh out of university teachers, I started off as a casual teacher (a.k.a sub or supply). That first year out of uni was a big learning experience. It helped me develop my classroom management skills, ability to think on the spot and find out what lessons worked well and not so well. I also got to pick up lots of ideas from teachers with years of experience.

For the next two years after that, I was on Year 1. Having my own class and classroom was so much fun. Seeing the students make progress and enjoy what they were learning was very rewarding. 

While on class, I started to use more teacher developed resources as well as my own. I found making my own resources enjoyable because I could make them to suit the needs of the students and the theme of my classroom.

My next role was an ESL Support Teacher. It was an interesting experience as I got to go in different classrooms each day and work with students who needed some extra support.

I then took a break from teaching to travel around Europe. I'm still currently travelling for a few months and then returning to teaching as a casual. By the end of this trip I will have been to 33 countries and 68 cities!

I created this blog to share ideas, resources and some of the interesting things I find along the way. I also wanted to have a journal to look back on :)