Tag Archive: graphic organizer


4th grade is working on timelines in their classrooms.  I found A to Z’s book Mount Rushmore and thought it would be a perfect book to use especially since it had a timeline in the book.

I broke the book up into three sections, as it’s a meaty book with a lot of IMG_0121tricky vocabulary.    The kids were asked as they read to do a few things: highlight important parts, highlight unknown words, and take notes of anything they wanted to talk about in the margin.  (This is the beauty of the A to Z books–the kids can write, highlight, mark up the books as they want and then take them home.)

As they read they were to find an event they thought was important and then write why that was important.  This was a little difficult for them as they either thought almost everything was important or nothing was important–both are incorrect.  This gave us a good opportunity to talk through all the things they found important (and bring up things they didn’t think was important) and then together we were able to decide was REALLY need to be on the graphic organizer.

IMG_0119When they were finished reading the book and filling out their event graphic organizer, it paved the groundwork for filling out a timeline.  The timeline they gave us in the book contained a lot of information, but all of it wasn’t completely pertinent to our focus.

Together we went back through the highlighted areas in our book and our first graphic organizer to figure out which were the important dates for the timeline.  This provided us with an opportunity to go over how we would need to go through our timeline in order.  They wanted to just throw dates they remembered, but we had to make sure our timeline was in order.

I’m so proud of the 4th graders.  This Mount Rushmore session of learning took us nearly 2 weeks and they did a lot of great learning and thinking.  They came up with some really great questions that had us looking back in our books and also doing internet research to find the information we wanted to know.

Also, we learned Gutzon Borglum is a hard name to say. 😉


My 2nd graders just finished reading Hang On, Monkey and Hop, Bunny from National Geographic Kids.  Both of the stories are very similar but one talks about a journey through the woods/forest and one talks about a journey through the rain forest.  The kids loved the vibrant and silly pictures of the animals.  These books have a lot of rich vocabulary that was nice for us to get some practice on those blends and digraphs we really need.

After we read both of the books they were given graphic organizers to compare the two stories.  I normally use a Venn Diagram, but I found a new graphic organizer that I had that was more of a list format and branched off.  It’s designed specifically to compare two stories so I think it’s almost easier for the kids to compare on this graphic organizer versus a Venn Diagram.   They’ve been asked to be adding more details to their writing to make it more thorough and detailed along with quick decoding during reading.

IMG_0111I have been trying to have my 3rd graders work on reading more carefully and thoroughly.  We recently read A Dragon’s Lullaby where a dragon named Dario doesn’t feel appreciated by the town he sings a lullaby to each night.  I had a great graphic organizer that went ovIMG_0113er different character traits and the kids had to decide if that was a strength or weakness for the character and then explain their rationale.  I was impressed by how they really dug back into the book for evidence when they weren’t really sure.  They had to analyze the main character like they hadn’t had to before.  At the very end of the graphic organizer it asked them to come up with their own and they had a fun time picking out one and then asking their group mates to answer if it was a strength or weakness.

We’ve really been working on digging into that text more and looking for more literal comprehension than deep since they have been struggling with some of the surface features such as important characters, main ideas, and problem/solution.


IMG_8586With all the snow we’ve been getting here in Waterloo, I thought it would be so fun to do the From Milk to Ice Cream book with my 3rd graders and make snow ice cream.  Everyone has been doing it on Facebook and they were even talking about it on the radio.

IMG_8587I bagged up all the ingredients and got a ziplock baggy full of the best snow I could find at my house.  I hyped the kids up about it and we started our creation….and it failed.  Apparently, from what we’ve learned, you REALLY need the just fallen fluffy perfect snow.  My snow had ice chunks/crystals in it and it was more like as if I had just blended up ice instead of fluffy fresh fallen snow.  Our ice cream failed.  The kids agreed it was like a root beer float.  No worries–they still loved it, but it was far from our vision of this wonderful snow ice cream.

This still gave us the chance to write down the procedural steps using Linda Dorn’s graphic organizer.  The kids, as a group, filled out the graphic organizer on how we made snow ice cream.  This set them up to make their own graphic organizer on something they knew how to do or make and wanted to share with the rest of the group.

We took the next couple of days filling out our own graphic organizers and writing, using connecting words, different procedural steps on how to do something.  The 3rd IMG_0367graders were then able to share their writing with the group.

Since then the kids have been asking me daily if we can remake the snow ice cream with better snow, which I promised them we could do the next time we get fresh snow.  This of course happened last Wednesday…school let out early…and then 2 days for conferences…2 days off…yeah, the snow wasn’t fresh anymore.  Ok, so we don’t need A LOT of snow, but if we could get one more LIGHT snow where I can bring in fluffy snow for my kiddos that would be greaaaaat!

2nd Grade Procedures

IMG_5181My other 2nd grade group just finished a set of books on procedural steps.  I had started out by reading Monster Sandwich which went over the procedures to which a girl makes a sandwich.  I then used the graphic organizer from Interventions that Work (and our district has blown them up IMG_0003and laminated them so we can use them whole group).  I was going to model, but the kids started shouting out ideas and kind of took over for me.  It was a guided experience, but I was impressed how they really took ownership for what was supposed to be me modeling.  I still had to talk them through the steps as they wanted to jump straight from get out your ingredients to “make taco” and then eat.  We talked about how there is much more to making a taco than just ingredients and eating.  We also noticed how everyone in the group makes their tacos in different ways, which was interesting and brought out the point that just because you think you “know how to do something” that someone else might be able to show you a different way to do it.

Afterwards we did some work on The Fun Club Goes To A Dairy Farm where we talked about how there is a specific process that happens at the dairy farm and then the kids made their own procedural graphic organizers on something they knew how to do or make.

IMG_0005After they completed their graphic organizer, I had writing conferences with each of the kiddos and then went on to model how to transfer the information from the graphic organizer into sentence form.  The kids have already been working on connecting words so they easily put those into their stories (nice job 2nd grade teachers!!)

We are still working on the writing process and how editing can make our writing better.  We are a work in progress, but the students did a fabulous job of procedural steps.

1st grade: Spiders

IMG_1290My 1st graders just finished up a study on spiders.  We started with me reading a mentor text about spiders.  (National Geographic Kids’ Spiders!–I absolutely LOVE their books and try to use them as often as possible!)  In the mentor text it talks about the way spiders make their webs and how it differentiates between spiders.  Students watched 2 short YouTube clips of spiders making their webs and the different ways they hunt.  There were lots of ooos and ahhhhs as we could see the spiders pull the silky string from their spinerettes and hook them in different places.  This helped provide a nice foundation of how spiders work.

From there we went over some more difficult spider terminology such as spinerettes so when students came across it in their reading they wouldn’t struggle and also so they would be able to use those same vocabulary words in their writing.

Students then read their book All About Spiders and were asked to make notes about how spiders hunt, eat, build their webs, and how they look.  They placed sticky notes in their books for places they wanted to remember.

Together we created an anchor chart as a large graphic organizer on spider characteristics and how spiders hunt, what they eat, the webs they make, and IMG_1285how they look.

This was a good opportunity for students to see how different spiders really are.  This was a learning experience for all of us as we learned not all spiders have webs and not all spiders eat insects–some hunt for tiny fish and are so light they can walk on water and dive in the water.

Most of the spiders we see around our homes are brown/black so the kids were very surprised when we saw spiders of all shapes, sizes, and colors that looked different from the ones we usually see.  1st graders copied this information on their own individual graphic organizers and we shared the information so they would have it for when they wrote independently.

After we finished organizing our information on our anchor chart together we greated a group message.  For time sake I only chose to write about one thing from each category, but students were asked to include 2-3 details per category in their own writing.

IMG_1286After we finished our group message, students were able to choose a quiet place to write independently using their graphic organizer.

I was able to conference with students individually and help them refine skills they needed to work on personally.  One of the things I’m noticing is we need to make sure we are only using capital letters in the appropriate places and we especially need to make sure we are starting our sentence with a capital letter.  We briefly regrouped to highlight on our group message where we capitalize in the story.  We also were missing A LOT of punctuation so this was a good time to highlight punctuation as well.

5th grade Persuasive Writing

oreo poster5th grade is almost finished with their book Miss Daisy is Crazy and we’ve had fun looking for evidence in the work that we’ve done and present to the group.  Recently we read about how students wanted to buy the school from the principal.  They were going to have to convince the principal to let them buy the school so they could turn it into a game arcade.

I present the students with an OREO graphic organizer, which stands for opinion, reason, evidence, opinion.  Students had to decide whether they thought they should or shouldn’t be able to buy the school from the principal.

I first modeled to students how to fill out the graphic organizer and then helped student make their own graphic organizer with supporting details and evidence from the book.

The following day I modeled writing a rough draft and how using my graphic organizer could guide me in my writing.  I then was able to conference with each student as he/she wrote during the rough draft stage.

IMG_8543I enjoyed listening to the reasoning each student had when we shared our stories at the very end.  Each student thought of different reasons they thought they should buy the school.

This week we will finish the book and next week start something different.  They are wanting to read real ghost stories, but I think it might just be too scary for Miss Acuff. 🙂  Check back in with us again soon!

IMG_82503rd grade read Road Builders these last couple of days, which is all about the process of building a road from cutting down trees all the way to paving and painting the lines.  There were more steps in the process of building a road than they thought.  (17 steps to be accurate)

IMG_8251After we read through the story then they were asked to complete a Step-by-step procedural graphic organizer from Interventions That Work by Linda Dorn.  They were allowed to use their book to guide them through the steps. 

From there students were asked to make a practical application and make a “How to” on something they knew how to do.  I modeled this for students by making a graphic organizer of how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Some of the kids got bogged down that on a graphic organizer you don’t necessarily have to write in complete sentences because it’s just the planning portion/phase of writing.  This is just how we organize our thoughts to prepare for writing something.  I gave an example of how when I’m writing my shopping list I don’t write in complete sentences.  I just jot down notes/key words of what I need or if I’m running errands then I might jot down places, things I need to do/go, what I need, etc.  This helped put things into perspective and kept us moving again.