These were the tips I got together to share with my teachers this week. Links to other websites are in brackets.
Focus on Character
In the past week, I’ve seen a couple of really good resources about characterization that would go well with Common Core ELA .3.
The first is from the blog Workshop Classroom, from an August post “Teaching About Character Traits”, which you can find [here] The post includes a link to a pretty slick handout that is available for free on Teachers Pay Teachers. The handout is divided into a number of different category that will help students organizer their thoughts. It includes the categories: nice, mean and sad with a list of synonyms for each word. It also includes categories for positive and negative character traits, and traits that describe characters who do a lot, and characters who do very little, and finally a section for opposites. Find the handout on Teachers Pay Teachers [here]. A character reference sheet, such as the one mentioned above, could go a long way in generating specific discussion about a character’s traits.
I think the most interesting characterization activity I have seen in quite awhile is from Erin Klein on her blog Kleinspiration. In her post “If Our Characters Had Instagram”, which you can find [here], Klein describes using Instagram as the inspiration for an activity she used with her second graders, where her students designed Instagram pictures for characters in the story. In the post, Klein provides an in-depth discussion of the teaching process she used to model the activity and engage her students in very high levels of thinking. In designing a photo a character would take the kids had to consider character traits, events, and settings in the story. Klein is offering her handouts free on Teachers Pay Teachers [here].
Please be sure to read Klein’s blog post about the activity, it really is interesting to read about the discussion that occurred and her thought process in designing the activity. You can also follow her on Twitter @KleinErin by clicking [here]. If you’re new to Twitter and looking for ideas and a lot of enthusiasm, she is a great person to follow
Wonder—Be Inspired—Choose Kind
Every now and then you read a book that really sticks with you. For me Wonder by R.J. Palacio is one of those books.
In the book, August (Auggie) Pullman, is a 5th grader, confronted with the daunting task of having to attend school for the very first time. Auggie was born with facial deformities that made it difficult to do every day things like eat, For his first 5 years of school, Auggie was homeschooled as he underwent extensive facial reconstructive surgeries. Auggie is just a normal kid, with normal thoughts and dreams, but many people have a hard time seeing past his physical appearance to understand how normal he is.
The book is a fantastic discussion starter for helping kids to understand the idea that they can not judge others based on looks. It also includes excellent examples of dynamic and static characters, as well as the opportunity for students to discuss a character’s flaws and see how characters can overcome those flaws.
But, mostly the book is just incredibly inspiring. It is a beautiful description of struggle, courage, and kindness, and it is one that belongs in the hands of every student.
Check out the book trailer from the Publisher [here] and R.J. Palacio’s website [here]. Follow Palacio on Twitter, [here] and the hashtag #choosekind [here]. The Choose Kind Tumblr page [here] is also worth a browse.
A Few More Halloween ResourcesThere are a number of fun Halloween songs you can watch on YouTube.
Be sure to check out Scary Halloween Song [here] by the Learning Station.
“Pumpkins, Witches and Ghosts” [here] is another fun Halloween song by the Learning Station.
“Ha-double L– O” is a classic from 1969 by Wade Denning and Kay Lande—see that one [here]
For more videos, you’ll see additional recommendations on the right YouTube panel.
If you have time in the computer lab, ABCya games has a few fun, Halloween themed educational games to check out. Click [here] to see the selection. The best games for skill practice is Ghost Typing, although you may want to check out the crossword puzzle.