Tag Archive: connections

2nd Grade Labeling

IMG_6823My 2nd graders read All About Robots during group time.  Not only did we learn a lot of different things about robots, but we learned about how labels can help a reader learn more information about a picture when reading non-fiction texts.

IMG_0179After we read about robots we made a list of things robots do, look like, and places they go.  Most of what we listed started out as things from the book, but quickly the boys added other things that a robot could have–mostly what they look like.  And in typical boy fashion, they wanted to add all kinds of weapons!  Ha!

This was our catapult to writing.  The boys were to come up with a robot of their own.  They had to make a list of all the things their robot would do, look like, and places it would go.  This was a lot of fun for the boys as now was the time they could amp up a robot of their dreams.  We had to scale back on the weapons to make it more school appropriate, but I was impressed by the imaginative things they came up.

IMG_6828After they had made their list they were given a homework assignment to draw a picture of their dream robot–including the things they had on their list.  If they said their robot could go in space then there should be something on the robot that would make it possible for the robot to go to space, etc.  The boys came back with very creative robots.

From there they had to start putting the list into sentence format and label their robot.  They labeled the most important parts of their robots.  They then had to write about how these parts they labeled helped the robot.  We discussed how we don’t need to label everything on the robot because not everything is super important.  We also discussed that if we labeled it on the robot then it had to be included in the writing otherwise it would confuse a reading.  It was challenging for the boys to pick what was most important as to them, EVERYTHING was important!

I was able to conference with each of the boys on their writing.  This was a great time for us to make sure everything that was labeled was written about and go over spelling and grammar.

After conferences the boys were able to write a final copy to go with their robots.  They were pretty proud of their work and didn’t want me to hang them up in the hallway because they wanted to take them home.


IMG_0089My 3rd graders are working on inferences within the classroom.  I like to try and tap into what the classroom teacher is doing as well to give additional support.  I noticed my kids were lacking in thinking deeper and using that powerful brain of their to make more meaningful connections and inferences.

I found an Inference Riddle Game site online and it looked like something I could do as a quick little warm up with my kids to get them going.  I did end up typing up the riddles on my own and then getting them laminated and put on a ring.  So if you are wanting to use this you’ll either need to type up your own or let me know and I’ll shoot you a copy.  Let me tell you, today may have been the most fun I had in group with this little game.  We were only going to do one, but we ended up having so much fun that we did two.

IMG_0081I started by asking them what it mean to infer or to make an inference.  No one could answer me.  So we did a little mini review on inferring.  I told them that I would be giving one clue at a time and with each clue they would need to think about what they already know and make a guess on what I was.  They were to write their answer on the whiteboard and hold it up.

IMG_0085They thought they had it in the bag when I gave the first clue: I hang out in schools.  They all wrote students or teacher.  They were pretty frustrated when I told them it was a good guess, but not correct.  “YES IT IS!!!!!” a lot of them shouted at me.  I continued on…I sleep with my eyes open.  I had to crack up because one of my students put me down as their answer.  LOVE IT!

I continued on…my favorite game is Name That Tuna…IMG_0087

….I have fins.

BAM!  The light bulb came on and they all got it.  A FISH!

You wouldn’t believe the grins they had once they put all the clues together and figured it out.

We had so much fun that we just HAD to do one more.  This one was more challenging for the students.  It was a penny.  The clues started as….

  • I have a head and a tail (all gave me an animal answer)
  • My favorite number is one (they all wrote 100)
  • I am made of copper (I got a lot of robot answers)
  • A president’s face is on me (They all wrote Obama…and then one wrote a robot Obama!  Had to “LOL” at that!)
  • I am lucky if you pick me up.

IMG_0086IMG_0088BAM!  It made sense to them.  We talked about how as readers we make predictions all the time when we first begin to read and as we read. Sometimes we find out that we were correct and sometimes we find out we were incorrect, but with each passing thing we read more and more is added to our schema and the light bulb comes on to make a connection.

They wanted to keep going, but we had other things to accomplish in the lesson.  Today was fun.  It’s fun to push them to be risk takers–that it’s ok to make mistakes as long as our thinking continues to bend and change as more information is presented.

Woo-hoo!  Isn’t learning fun??

Thoughtful Journal Entries

If you’re anything like me, you find it difficult to constantly be coming up with purposeful and thoughtful writing responses.  I often times feel like we are writing just to write and then I kick myself when it comes around to testing and the students didn’t do as well as I wanted or expected.

In Linda Dorn’s Teaching for Deep Comprehension: A Reading Workshop Approach, she has a page of thoughtful journal entries that you can use with your students.  I am trying to incorporate these more into my writing day of my group.  I wrote the prompts on little cards (similar to my mission cards) and do put them in envelopes.  This way students are answering different questions and I can make it more appropriate to the different levels within the group.  I’ve found this to be a great way of mixing it up and differentiating what I’m asking of the students.  Plus, it keeps it interesting for me to read different answers and get different insight to what’s going on in their minds.

Respond personally to the text

  • How do you feel about the text and why?
  • How has the text changed your life in some way?
  • What is your favorite part of the book and why?

Respond to the theme and/or author’s purpose

  • What is the author trying to teach you?
  • What is the author’s purpose or message in the text?
  • Why do you think the author wrote this text?

Offer opinion of text

  • Do you like or dislike the text and why?
  • Who is your favorite or least favorite character and why?
  • Will you read this book again?  Why or why not?
  • Will you recommend this book to a friend?

Ask questions

  • What does the word/phrase _____ mean?
  • Why did the character act this way?
  • What did the author mean when….?
  • What is the author trying to teach you?

Make predictions/inferences

  • What do you think might happen and why?
  • I think ______ because ….

Respond to the writing style or author’s language

  • How does the author use language to create sensory images?
  • How does the author’s language deepen your understanding?

Respond to the traits and/or actions of the character(s)

  • Do you like, dislike, or admire the character(s) and why?
  • Would you act/react differently and why?

Share connections

  • Does any part of the book remind you of the world and what is occurring now or has happened in the past?
  • How have your own experiences deepened your understanding?
  • How is this text (characters or events) similar to another book (characters or events)?
  • Do you connect in any way with a character from the text?

Critique the text

  • Did the author do a good job organizing the text? crafting the text?
  • What are the resources the author used to provide you with accurate and current information?
  • Did the author use text features to help you understand the information?
  • Did the author follow the text structures for the genre?

Good luck as you begin to use some of these prompts with your kids.  When I first started using more thoughtful prompts you would have thought I was asking my students for their left arm.  Stick with it!  Getting them to think deeper and more reflective is good for them! 🙂  Happy teaching and happy writing!


My 2nd graders have been reading a series of informational books called All About Sled Dogs and All About Spiders.  We’ve been having a lot of fun learning about new animals in this world.  Their task was to write informational sentences about spiders based on what they learned from the story.

The kids know how much I hate spiders so they had fun showing me all the gross pictures of spiders and writing and drawing about spiders.  It was fun to see how much of the information they retained.

We’ll now be transitioning into writing sentences into a First, Then, Next, Last format, which is something they are continuing to work on in the class.  It is my goal to help transfer knowledge between group and the classroom and to help foster independence with what they are already doing in the classroom.

I think one of the most valuable lessons you can give to your students is show that you are human: that you have fears, insecurities, and make mistakes, too!  I had a moment yesterday with one of my Reading Recovery students as we walked up the stairs to my room.

I saw what looked like a spider or a large bug in the shadows of the steps.  I saw he saw it too.  He started to lean over as if to pick it up.  “DON’T TOUCH IT!” I shouted.  He jumped back, with wide eyes, and looked at me.  “But it’s not alive.” he quietly said back to me.  I wasn’t convinced if it was dead or alive, but regardless, I didn’t want him touching it.

He leaned over to grab it again and I shouted to not touch it again, but it was too late.  He had already scooped it up in his hands.  Now I’m pressed up against the wall screaming as he thrusts it into my face.  “See?!?  It’s not alive!”  Now I can see that it is plastic and my heart attack stops.  Daniel is grinning from ear to ear.  He is happy to see that I have fears.  “Are you afraid, Ms. Acuff?” he asks.  “Very much so!” I reply.  And so begins a discussion of things we are afraid of.  He is still beaming that he was brave and I was scared and we wrote about his new found object.

Later that evening we had parent-teacher conferences and I was able to share the humorous moment with his parents when they were concerned their English Language Learning son wasn’t making connections between the two languages.  I showed them this very much wasn’t the case.  He understands the humor and bravery established earlier in the day.

I went into his classroom this afternoon to pick him up for his Reading Recovery lesson and several of his classmates shouted at me, “You were scared of the spider, Ms. Acuff?”  Daniel had shared our story with his classmates during sharing time.  I owned it.  I’m human!  And I’m glad students could benefit from the teachable moment that we all aren’t so different after all.