Monthly Archives: October 2013

Blooming Thinkers

Stretching our minds and moving beyond Captain Obvious to Captain Creative is our current focus.  I have been introducing “Bloom’s Taxonomy” or thinking levels as I call them to the children.  We want to increase our brain’s “signal strength”; we want to think deeply.

Thus I have been adding more rich thinking activities and it is generating excitement amongst the children.  Hopefully you will see your “Blooming Thinkers” blossoming at home too!

Going deeper…

Now that we have settled into our routines and are getting more comfortable, I have started to make it clear that our classroom is about going above and beyond. I have established minimum criteria for our gifted readers. The kids are starting to work to this higher level with each task and each piece of feedback.

I encourage you to take feedback as a constructive tool. I don’t look at it as a child “lost points” but rather, learning what we can do to stretch and improve. There is no limit in my classroom. If a child starts consistently meeting expectations, then it is time for me to start raising the bar for them. That is what challenge is all about. Please keep this in mind as you review work with your child. I am pushing quality and thinking out of them that is going beyond. My reading instruction is different than what they have been used to and the evaluation is different as well.

And so we start going deeper into our thinking. This week I gave the children a tool to help them evaluate images using artistic techniques: Artistic techniques. I wanted to start pushing them to look beyond the obvious and explore “mood”. If we can detect mood in an image, we can better start to pick up on the mood conveyed in writing. I integrated this is both the Chromebook response activities and the daily dive in. Here is an example image:

Try it with your child! Use the techniques to examine this image closely. We can describe it on the surface, but can we dig deeper to consider the mood? What kind of a story does this image tell?

Here is an example of a strong short response to an image: Olivia Image interpretation on this image:


Also this week, I introduced “exit tickets” to the children. These written response activities are to build written response skills. I am utilizing “ACE” (answer, cite, explain) when responding. This is going to be a skill that we will be developing ALL year, so please do not look at scoring as “points missed”, but rather feedback to help your child stretch and grow. I am using a checklist/continuum scale for all 3 areas: Ace evaluation checklist

Learning objectives: while we work on several goals at a time, our Talk about Text groups focused on these I can statements RL3

Technology transforming learning

I have always strived to use technology to transform learning…to use tools because they make learning possible that would not otherwise have been possible.  This week we did just that!

First, I was able to set up our Chromebooks in a more “permanent” location.  I had a different document on each…a realistic fiction passage.  Students were asked to read a passage, analyze a character and respond.

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Reviewing student work and assessing the quality was SUPER easy!!!  I set up a rubric, copied and pasted their response to it and provided feedback:

Analyzecharacter_JakesSecretTalent  Top sample response

Then, since there are SO many things I need to teach in such a short amount of time, I “clone” myself.  I create mini-lessons on videos for students to review while I am working on a different concept with a different small group!  This week, the students were able to review “Author’s Purpose” via video lesson and 4th graders started learning about figurative language.  That’s what I call working smarter!

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Finally, we are working on reading drama as a genre and as learning about the elements of drama, we discussed monologues.  I have a great “monologue” resource so the children started getting into recording each other “performing”!  It was a great way to analyze a character and well…we have quite a few thespians!  Then we started using our MacBook to upload our videos and work on editing into a collection:

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Learning Targets

When I plan Talk about Text lessons, I have a particular learning target I am focusing on.  The first few weeks, I have been focusing on Common Core English Language Arts standard 5 for literature: RL5

Of course the children need to know what their learning “goal” or target is for the lesson, so I share it with them in the form of an “I can” statement:  I can statements for ELA RL5

Our first week the focus was on referring to parts of stories, while we worked on analyzing a character:  Character analysis (This is also being practiced at the “longer” listening station with the iPod Nanos…complements of donations from Donors Choose!)

This past week we examined poetry closer.  3rd grade learned about how to look closely at stanzas as well as how to compare and analyze successive parts.  4th grade explored rhythm and meter: Poetry terms

Next up…DRAMA!!!


Thinking about one’s own thinking…that is what is at the heart of comprehension.  Being able to listen to that “little voice” inside our heads as it speaks to us when we read.

So we learned about metacognition and what it means…  we also learned a song to go with it because thinking sticks when we have a chance to help it along in different modes.

Here is the introductory lesson I did: