Today I was excited to use my new Freedom Summer Literacy Companion Pack with a third grade class.  I've been working a lot with third grade this month, so my teachers can get their dreaded MOY state assessments completed.

One of my goals this year is to model for my teachers the importance of using Collaborative Pairs and/or Cooperative Learning Structures.  Unfortunately, many of my teachers find this as a struggle to fit into their teaching style.  There are so many benefits of allowing your children to collaborate!


Pairs & Whole Group
We started our lesson out using the Fan-N-Pick Context Clues cards (Pairs).  I loved hearing their discussions for the the word "shell".  The sentence in the text was, "We shell butter beans together".  They came up with some pretty good definitions: share, cover, and cook.  They were pretty surprised by the actual definition.  During Whole-Group I read each sentence and we discussed the definitions they came up with and each word's actual definition.

Whole Group & Pairs
I then read aloud Freedom Summer to them, stopping to discuss our vocabulary again, asking guiding questions, etc.  Any time I asked a question I had the students turn and talk to the person next to them before I called on one student for the answer.  Doing this requires ALL students to participate and not just the one or two students who always raise their hand.  Once we read and discussed the story we worked on the graphic organizer.

Whole Group & Pairs & Whole Group
We completed the Time Period and Character components together.  I had them work together with a partner or group to complete the "Important Events" and "Evidence Joe is a Good Friend" components.  We then went over their responses as a  whole class.

They were getting chatty by this time, we had a snow day yesterday, and I was in there first thing this morning.  I assigned them to start working on the Comprehension Brochure independently.  These questions are Higher Order thinking questions and I knew it would be a little bit of a challenge for some of them, but appropriate for them to think about and try.

To help my teachers remember to use pairs during their lessons and remind them that anytime you ask a question to your class, require your students to talk to their partner before calling on one student for the answer.  As adults we learn from each other through collaboration so why not allow your students the same opportunity. :)

On a different topic...Grab my sample freebie (click on the image below) from my newest product "Figure Me Out" for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Students use MATH to lean interesting and important facts about famous African -Americans.

I was excited to teach in a third grade classroom yesterday!  Our third grade teachers started mClass assessments (state intuitive for reading, online DIBELS and RR) today, and this is their first year doing this.  

(Side note: No idea why, but third grade teachers were not trained on mClass in my district until last month.)

Our teachers have to complete the assessments on all their children by the end of the month and with a holiday a few workdays, time is of the essence.  I told my third grade team to sign up for me to come in and teach so they can focus on mClass.  This will also help them if they have any questions or concerns I'm right there in the room with them.  

So today one of my new teachers signed up for the last hour of the day and I prepared a Main Idea review activity for the class.  I based the lesson off of one of my favorites Main Idea Lessons from last year in 4th grade.  I made a few adjustments to meet the needs of third graders and this particular class.

First, we reviewed what "Main Idea" meant and how we can identify, along with our graphic organizer.  I created the template below, which you can grab for FREE, to use with sticky notes. They were excited to use the colored sticky notes for this activity!

I then created teams of four students and had them read the informational text together. I didn't assign "parts" yet because I wanted them to focus on the whole passage first.  I then provided each student with a specific colored sticky note.  Each color was assigned to a specific section of the text.
Our map had space for three key details, but our text had four sections so we used four different sticky notes.  I wanted to ensure ALL students were responsible for one component of the team assignment.

Students then reread their assigned section and wrote down the key detail/main idea on their colored sticky note.  I encouraged students to help their teammates who were "stuck" on finding their key detail/main idea.

Once teams had placed their "Key Details" to their graphic organizer (the blue and green had to share a box) I provided them a larger sticky note to write down the main idea of the entire text.

Once all teams were finished we went over their main ideas.  This was great because two teams wrote "Blizzards and Snow" and two teams wrote "Blizzards and Snow can be dangerous".  We discussed/reviewed the difference between a topic (blizzard and snow) and the main idea (blizzards and snow can be dangerous).

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