Text Features is definitely one of my favorite things to teach and review with my kiddos! It's such a huge component of informational text. I make it my mission to have my kiddos become text feature experts by the end of the year. 
Not only is it important for them to be able to identify text features, but they must also be able to interpret them and understand why they are included in the text.
This year I introduced text features by playing the Flocabulary song: Text Features (If you are not a member of Flocabulary, I suggest you get on it! It's a website filled with rap song videos to match different skills across content areas. A couple of teachers and I split the cost of the membership and it has been totally worth it!)

Afterwards, I modeled reading a passage and identifying the text features in it. The students labeled the text features on their own version of the passage. We discussed the features and how they helped us better understand the text. 

The students then created a flap book with the definition of each text feature in their reading notebooks. 
The next day, the students walked into class to find a surgery room setup! I covered their tables with baby blue butcher paper and each student had gloves, surgical cap, and face masks waiting at their desks. 

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Items I purchased:



I explained that it was time for Text Feature Surgery! Each student had a Text Feature booklet with a page for each feature. The students were asked to search through different magazines and cut out the text features and paste them on the correct page. 

I sent a letter home the week before the text feature surgery asking parents to donate a school-appropriate magazine for the activity. You can download the letter HERE




I searched "Heart Rate Monitor" audio on YouTube to set the mood. I told the kiddos that they had to be completely silent and concentrated on their surgery. Any little distraction might hurt their patient. ;) 



This was such a fun activity! My students absolutely LOVED it and it really helped them learn those text features! We review text features every time we read an informational text.
I decided to use some of their work as anchor charts around the class. They refer to these anytime we discuss text features. 

We also worked on sorting and matching text features using task cards. The kiddos had to match the feature name with its definition and an example.

At the end of the week I assessed them using this simple cut & paste activity. 

All of these resources are part of my Text Feature Activity Pack


I LOVE watching you all transform your classrooms! Don't forget to tag me at @SweetToothTeaching in any photos of your text feature surgery in action! 

Prepping for the new school year means loading up on task cards, center activities, and GAMES! I'm very big on making the learning environment a fun and organized one. After attending the "Get Your Teach On" conference in Orlando hosted by the AH-MAH-ZING Hope King, I became instantly inspired! Her creativity and genius ideas are seriously something to look up to. If you haven't heard about her.... uhm... you need to head to her blog and watch all of her videos like now
Elementary Shenanigans
One of my favorite things from her conference was her giant Jenga game. She uses a Jenga game to review import skills and test prep with her kiddos. Here's how it works:
She colors the ends of her Jenga pieces. Each color represents a certain skill. (EX: Red-Rounding, Yellow-Multiplication, Purple-Division, etc.)
Luckily, I found this beautiful Jenga game on Amazon for only $13.99! No need to color or get crafty. 
Leo Classic Colorful Wooden Tumbling Tower

 
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I created cards to correspond with each color. These focus on the math skills we will be doing in third grade, however they can work great for beginning fourth graders. 



Here's how to play:
1. Students decide which Jenga block they want to move. (They can also use the rolling dice included in the Amazon Jenga game)

2. Before they can move the block, they must answer the corresponding question. (EX: if they want to move a RED block, they must answer question #1 on the red question card. If another player has already answered that question, then they would answer #2.)

3. ALL of the students playing must agree with the answer in order for the student to be able to move his/her block. (This allows each student to be held accountable during the game.)

4. The next player repeats the steps until someone knocks down the tower just like regular Jenga. :) 


This resource includes B&W version so that you can customize it to fit any colored Jenga pieces. Simply print the questions on colored card stock. It also includes an editable template so that you can create your OWN questions. 

You can find my Math Review Jenga Question Cards in my TPT store.

The best thing about this Jenga game is that it can be customized for any subject/skill/grade level. It can be designed to fit the needs of YOUR students!

You can watch Hope King's video on how she uses Jenga in the classroom below:

Even though it's summer, it's really hard to turn my teacher brain off. One of the major causes for this issue--Pinterest. I don't know what teachers (or people in general) did before Pinterest existed. 
I've spent my summer searching for classroom ideas, decorations, & organizational tips. 
If you don't follow my Pinterest account-- Follow HERE
This month's "Top 3 Pinterest Picks" includes 3 ideas that i've pinned this summer which I plan incorporate into my classroom.

I found this amazing blog post written by Sandy at Soaring Through Second about using Google Forms as a way of tracking parent/student contact information at the beginning of the year. It is pure GENIUS! I don't know about ya'll, but I always find myself chasing after students at the beginning of the year to return all of their emergency contact paper work. Using Google Forms, you simply provide parents a link and they can quickly fill out the paper work on their iPhone or computer. It keeps all of the information organized for you in columns such as: Parent Name, Phone Number, Allergies, Address, etc. I might even set up a computer "station" during parent night at the beginning of the year. That way parents that don't have access to a computer can fill out the documents on the spot!

My supply list this year will include these four highlighters. How awesome is this idea?! I usually ask my students to underline the question, circle key words, and box the information that proves their answer. These highlighters are like a little "Close Reading Kit" and I LOVE it! You can grab the labels for free HERE

Transitioning into Common Core and new state testing, I find that the most difficult part for my kiddos is writing down their evidence and explaining it. I love this bulletin board with sentence stems! It's perfect to help get them started on explaining their answers. I had a similar anchor chart last year, but this one if just fabulous and colorful! (Goes perfect with those highlighters up there) 

Check out some other great pins below! 

Interactive Notebooks are a staple in my class. I use them across subject areas-- reading, grammar, math, and science. They are perfect for note-taking and direct practice. Plus, they're an amazing reference tool generated completely by the student!

Why use interactive notebooks?

Interactive notebooks allow students the freedom to express themselves and visualize important concepts. They serve as a note-taking tool and personal resource. Students are able to practice the skills taught inside the notebook and keep the activities as a reference tool.

How to introduce interactive notebooks to your elementary students:

After using interactive notebooks for many years, there is one major thing i've learned:
  Set the Expectations!

I have my own neatly organized notebook that I use for modeling purposes. Before diving straight into notebooks at the beginning of the year, we spend 2 weeks doing the following:

-Practicing how to properly cut pieces of paper
-Practicing how to properly apply glue to a piece of paper
-Modeling how to add headings to our pages 
-Numbering each of our notebook pages
-Adding a table of contents to the beginning of our interactive notebook
-Discussing WHY maintining a neat notebook is crucial
-Creating a 'Interactive Notebook Rules' page as a class (We discussed "What are the expectations?") and glueing it inside our notebook

We were able to get started once my kiddos understood why we would be using these notebooks and how they should be properly used.

Keeping interactive notebooks organized:

Some interactive notebook activities may contain many pieces. Here are some ways to help your kiddos stay organized:

- Request each student to bring an empty pouch at the beginning of the year. This is a great place to store pieces that have been cut out and haven't been glued yet. I tried using ziplock bags for these pieces, but my students kept losing their bags. (10 boxes of ziplock bags later, I realized a pencil pouch was a better idea.) 


- Get a small garbage can for each table/group. I bought mine at the Dollar Tree and they're great! The table captain gets them from the shelf whenever we start a cutting activity. 

-Fill their caddies with supplies- this way students do not have to get up to get glue, scissors, crayons, etc. 

-Have students keep record of their skills on a Table of Contents glued at the beginning of the notebook. Every time they are creating a page for a new skill, they will record the name of the page along with its page number.


How do I use Grammar Notebooks in my classroom?

Grammar is one of my favorite things to teach! Therefore, our grammar notebook plays a big role in our everyday routine. Every week we focus in on a new grammar skill. On the first day of the week, my kiddos add a page to their notebook focusing on that grammar skill. (EX: contractions, complex sentences, types of nouns, etc.)
                     
They are able to highlight, annotate, and design their page in a way that will help them visualize whatever the skill is that week. We discuss examples of the skill as a class and add them to our notebook page.

On Tuesday, students complete a paired activity and glue it into their notebook. Students now have a reference tool that they can use throughout the week and throughout the course of the school year. 


Want to try out an interactive notebook page with your kiddos? Grab the 'Parts of Speech' activity for free by clicking below!


I hope you love using interactive notebooks in your classroom as much as I do!



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