5 Simple Ideas to Start the New Year RIGHT in Your Classroom!


Happy New Year!  I always like to start the new year with renewed energy and a positive outlook.  I am excited to get back into the classroom with my sweet student - I've missed them!  The school year is nearly half-way over (already??!) and I want to continue pushing my students to learn and grow to be their best!  I want to maintain a positive and safe classroom environment - the new year is a perfect time for a review of procedures and to introduce some new ideas!

Here are 5 things I plan to do to start the year off right:

1. It's the FIRST Day!  You've been on break for a bit now, right?  So guess what? Your students (and YOU) are a bit out of the school routine.  While it's not actually the first day of school, try incorporating some fun activities to review procedures and expectations.  At the beginning of the year, I show a meme slideshow to go over procedures in my classroom.  My students love it and the best part?  They remember the procedures! Search the internet for a couple of silly memes that will help you review your procedures.


2. Check IN! Now that I've had a nice relaxing break away from the classroom, I realize that I miss my students.  The first week back, I will make a point to have a personal conversation with each of student to check in with them about their break and get a feel for how they are doing. Unfortunately, some of my students likely did not have a fun and relaxing break.  I want to welcome them back into the safe and structured classroom environment. I want to work to rebuild and maintain a connection with each student for the rest of the year.  I keep an actual checklist so that I can write down the date we chatted and what we talked about.  Showing that you really care about someone takes just a little bit of time but has huge and lasting benefits.

3. Be POSITIVE!  I plan on starting the new year with a fresh, positive attitude.  I will reward good behavior A LOT the first weeks back.  I will embrace getting my students to "clip up" the behavior chart, writing positive notes to parents, and giving out tickets to the treasure box - my treasure box is filled with fun new treasures (I cleaned out my own children's old toys to make way for new ones over the holiday break).  Negative behaviors will be addressed quietly and privately with students with gentle reminders in the classroom and a conversation at recess.



4. Build COMMUNITY!  Make it a fresh start and incorporate community and class-building activities. If you expect students to work together collaboratively you MUST teach them and show them how in fun ways. I do this by incorporating a morning meeting with each of my groups.  We get to know each other by sharing and learn to work together by playing  games. The games can be quick and simple like "Telephone" or "Two Truths and a Lie". We also discuss classroom issues and brainstorm ways to resolve them.  I dedicate at most ten minutes every day for our morning meeting and usually add a longer fifteen minute session once a week or as needed. If the weather is nice, take it outside for a breath of fresh air! 


5. REFLECT!  Make the new year a great one by incorporating student reflections and goals.  I have my students reflect on their learning every Friday by writing about 3 things they learned during the week.  They then write about whether it was easy or challenging for them and why. My students keep a Learning Reflections Journal with their data and goal-setting notebooks.  Teaching and modeling to students how to reflect on what and how they are learning is such a powerful way for students to really think about their thinking.  It also gives them opportunities to look back and set meaningful goals for themselves as they move forward in their learning.  You can easily this by students writing each week in a new or existing journal.  To make it even easier, you can check out my Weekly Learning Reflection Forms in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here or click on the image below!



I hope you can use some of these ideas in your classroom in the upcoming weeks!  
What will you do to start the New Year off right?
Happy New Year!

Celebrate Christmas with a Math Project!



The week before winter break is always an exciting time in the classroom and it can be a challenge to keep students on task and learning!  Students seem even more energetic than usual and less focused on learning.  I'm always looking for fun and meaningful ways to integrate the holidays into my classroom to keep my 5th graders focused on academics.   My 12 Days of Christmas Math Project is challenging, yet fun, and allows students to practice problem-solving skills by calculating the cost of the 12 Days of Christmas.

I start by having my students read the lyrics to the "12 Days of Christmas"(I like to play the song as they read along). I have my 5th graders highlight the gifts for each of the 12 days of Christmas as they read. Next, I give them the 12 Days of Christmas Task Page and review the three tasks they are required to complete. 

Task 1: Calculate the cost of each gift
Task 2: Calculate the total cost of all gifts given on each day
Task 3: Use the calculations to answer questions 


After we review the tasks, I give my students the 12 Days of Christmas price list.  There are two price lists options to choose from - whole numbers or decimals to the tenths place.  I differentiate this activity by giving each student the price list that suits their needs best.  You may also choose to have students work with partners or in cooperative groups to complete the project.

Students use the recording pages to calculate all of the costs.  While they are working, I like to project a Yule Log video on the board and play holiday music in the background.


Answer keys are also included.  If you would like to share this activity with your students, you can find it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here!

Happy Holidays!
Live, laugh, love to learn,
Debbie

Using Inquiry to Excite and Engage Students


I LOVE teaching science and teaching science through inquiry activities is a game-changer!  I've always considered myself a "hands-on" teacher but I've learned that while "hands-on"is a lot of fun for students, they don't always come away with what I intended them to learn.  Using inquiry activities in the classroom can excite and engage your students AND they will come away with a deeper understanding of the concept being explored.

Planning an inquiry lesson shouldn't take any more time than any other type of lesson.  Completing an inquiry lesson usually takes a bit more time than a traditional lesson though.  I think the extra time is worth the investment though because my students know understand the concepts AND the vocabulary when they finish.

I use the 5E model to frame my inquiry.  The 5 "E"s are: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate.

The first "E" is Engage.  How will you get your students interested in the topic and make connections to prior knowledge?  For my Exploring Light Lab Inquiry, I have my students look at an optical illusion photograph.  The students discuss what they think is happening in the photo and draw an illustration.  I have students share their thinking with the class.  I am very careful NOT to explain anything at this point.  I just listen and take note of any correct explanations and any misconceptions.  I write this information down so that we can come back to it during the "Explain" portion of the lesson.  I also think of the "Engage" activity as the "Excite"; the students are hooked and want to explore!


The second "E" is Explore.  During this phase of the sequence, students explore the concepts on their own.  I plan activities that will allow my students to experience the objectives that I want them to learn.  In my Exploring Light Lab Inquiry, I set up 3 stations with materials, directions, and questions to answer.  My students will explore and discover that light travels in a straight line, light refracts when it travels through water, and different materials have properties of opaqueness, transparency, and translucency.  The students work in small groups to explore and answer questions together. I also allow time for them to explore the materials on their own to test other ideas and questions.  Each station lasts about 10 minutes.  In my larger class of 24 students, I set up two of each station so that there are no more than 4 students at one station.  I want to ensure that each student has ample opportunity to have a hands-on experience.

The third phase is of the sequence is "Explain". During this phase, the teacher guides a discussion of the activities and allows the students to give the explanation of the concepts in the objective.  If students do not come up with the vocabulary word necessary to describe what is happening, the teacher provides it.  At this point, I review the discussion from the "Engage" phase.  I make sure that we discuss the correct explanations and address any misconceptions that were brought up.  This part of the sequence is critical for students to understand the concepts explored.  As a teacher, I am facilitating a discussion (usually a lively one!) that allows students to take ownership of the learning of the concepts.  I have my students take notes on the concepts and the new vocabulary during this part of the lesson sequence.
The fourth phase of the 5E sequence is "Elaborate".  At this point, students have an opportunity to apply and connect their new learning to previous learning or to similar concepts.  During this phase, the goal is to have students use the new concepts and vocabulary learned to other similar situations.  For example, in my Exploring Light Lab Inquiry, I show my students a photograph of a highway on a hot day that "appears" to have a puddle of water. Students work together to come up with an explanation of what is happening that creates the mirage.  My goal is for students to come up with refraction as an explanation for the mirage.  Here, I can extend their learning and discuss convection and refractive indexes.  This allows an opportunity for a deeper understanding of the concept and a chance to ask questions for further exploration in the future.  I require students to write down at least two questions they would like to explore further.

The fifth and final part of the 5E sequence is "Evaluate".  At this point, it is time to assess your students understanding of the concepts.  I use and exit slip so that I can collect and document their responses.  I sort my exit slips into three groups according to mastery:  complete, partial, and very little.  I use this information to place students in small groups to review or extend the concept.  I will work with the groups who were not completely successful.  The students who mastered the concept will have an opportunity to work on an extension activity based on a question they came up with during the elaboration phase. These students can either work together or independently to research their question and record their findings in their science notebook.


The 5E Instructional Model is an effective way to enhance students' understanding of scientific concepts while developing scientific process skills.  Students take ownership of their learning and have the opportunity to explore with hands-on activities that allow the students to discover and explain concepts in their own words. Please note that the sequence does not have to be linear.  If students do not understand the concepts, you may let them go back and explore!

If you are interested to try an inquiry lab in your classroom, check out my Exploring Light Lab in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
 Exploring Light Lab

Thanks for taking the time to read about how I use inquiry in my classroom!
Live, laugh, love to learn!
Debbie

Meet the Teacher Day!

My summer just flew by and I get to meet my new students in about a week.  In our district, we have "Meet the Teacher" Day on the Friday before school starts.  It's an exciting day for both teachers and families!  Families can come into the classroom to meet their child's new teacher in the afternoon. It's an informal meeting and my new students and their parents will drop in at any point during that hour. Usually, previous students like to drop by and say hello too!  New students, new parents, previous parents, previous students adds up to a lot of potential visitors and a hectic but very fun afternoon!

I like to use Meet the Teacher Stations to make sure that I don't have a crowd of people in one spot.  I have created 5x7 station signs and placed them in acrylic 5x7 frames (I've found that Walmart has the best deal on these here).  I spread the stations out around the classroom  to get families to circulate and visit all areas of the room. 
I include stations for:
  • Welcome/Sign-In - Title I sign-in form
  • Contact Information
  • Transportation form
  • Volunteer
  • Wish List
  • Information (I leave a page about me and my classroom expectations)
  • Peek at learning (I have texts and previous interactive notebooks available for browsing)
  • Favorite subject
  • School supply drop-off
  • Say hello to your teacher 
I also like to have a large vase of flowers on my desk,.  This year I think that sunflowers in a mason jar would look perfect with my Chalk & Burlap theme!

You can find my Meet the Teacher Stations - Chalk & Burlap here.  I have several other styles available as well and all of my newest resources are editable so that you can add your own stations!



Classroom Sneak Peek!

 It's THAT time of year again!  I go back into the classroom for pre-planning in just over 1 week and meet my students on August 12th!  We are going back to school 2 weeks earlier than we normally do which made my summer seem super short.  This will be my TENTH year in the classroom and for the first time ever, I won't be in my classroom for more than 1 day before pre-planning.

Have a seat and let me give you the real deal.  I love my job and I love my students but the end of last year was rough.  A combination of personal issues, stress, trying to do all and be all for everyone, left me feeling completely drained.  The last day of post-planning, I cleared off the top of my desk, picked up the things that had to be moved off the floor, and walked out the door.  I left my bulletin boards up, books on the shelves, things on the walls, and probably some food in the fridge - I just had to get home and go do some fun things with my family.  The great thing is that I've been so busy traveling and relaxing and enjoying not worrying about any other children but my own for a bit that I did not feel the pull to go into school and get started on setting up that "perfect" classroom.

Well, I've had enough down time and now I am ready and EXCITED to get back to it.  I've spent the last two weeks in professional development learning how to teach VEX Robotics to my 5th graders this year.  I am super excited about robotics!  Our 5th grade team needed to go in and get the Lab ready today. This entailed moving all of the junk out of the room (begin rant - why, oh why, does any room with any extra space in school that is not used on a regular basis become a repository for any and all junk?  People, if you don't want it, and no one else wants it, please, just throw it away!-end rant).  We set up the tables and unpacked all of the robotics kits.  It's going to be amazing.  Learning new things and teaching new things is my passion!  I'm also excited that we are departmentalizing our 5th grade this year and I'm only teaching math and science.  If you haven't guessed, math and science are my favorite subjects to teach.

Since I was at school, I spent a few hours working in my room.  Guess what I had to do?  Yup, clean up all the mess I didn't deal with in June. This is what I walked into.  It doesn't look bad, right?


Since, I'm only teaching Math and Science (and an hour of reading intervention), I decided to get rid of my beloved I{Heart}Reading bulletin board (I'll give you more details on that interactive board in my next post) so that I could have a dedicated Science and a Math bulletin board  I also took down the Language Arts bulletin boards and posters, cleaned, and set up the desks and chairs. Whew, that took me two hours!

 I decided to go with a Chalkboard and Burlap Decor this year.  I am a fan of black - it goes with everything and a black background on a bulletin board just makes everything "pop" and I love the texture that burlap offers. I haven't gotten very far in putting my room together but I'm using my own Chalk & Burlap Classroom Decor Pack.  Here is a sneak peek:

- Check it out in my store!

Click on the image to see the full product and other decor ideas in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
I love this look and can't wait to show you my finished classroom!  What is your classroom theme this year?  More importantly, what are you EXCITED about for the new school year?

Live, laugh, love to learn!
Debbie


Teachers Pay Teachers Blog!


I'm so excited that Teachers Pay Teachers selected my blog post for their blog!  Check out this post featured on the TpT blog! I love Teachers Pay Teachers and am so thankful and proud to be a member of this incredible community teacher-authors!



10 Things Teachers Need to Do This Summer



SUMMER!  It's finally here!  I had a great year with my 5th graders but it was stressful and busy.  I'm so happy that summer is here.  I can sleep late, reconnect with my kids, relax. have fun, and do the things I love to do that I don't have much time for during the school year.

Here is MY list of 10 things I plan on doing this summer and you should consider too!

1. Read a great book just for fun!  I love to read and I read a lot of books.  One of my favorite things about summer is that I have more time to read.  I know not everyone enjoys reading as much as I do but reading a great book for pleasure is a great way to relax.  Need some suggestions for a great summer read?


"Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes 
This book is sweet, heartwarming, sad - bring some tissues for the end.  The movie is now out so you can read the book then watch the movie or vice versa!


"Love May Fail" by Matthew Quick
This book is next on my "to read" list.  I loved "Silver Linings Playbook" (the book and the movie). "Love May Fail" is about a housewife, Portia, who leaves her fancy life and cheating husband and returns to the place where she grew up.  Portia reconnects with her high school English teacher and tries to help him overcome a traumatic classroom incident. Sounds good, right?

2. Take a hike! 

Seriously, go find a trail and hike it!  If you are new to hiking, start small.  Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring along some a hat, water, sunscreen, insect repellent, a healthy snack, and a map. Getting outside and exploring nature is relaxing, energizing - it soothes my soul.  alltrails.com is a great website to search for hiking trails near you.  The website includes maps and reviews to make it easy to find a suitable trail.

3.  Make something! 
I love to lose an hour or two painting or creating something just for fun.  I love to work with watercolors and ink and also dabble in acrylic paints. I love making my own decorative wreaths and jewelry. Pinterest is a great place to browse for ideas and tutorials for all sorts of DIY projects.  Here is a link to my Crafts & DIY Pinterest board to get you started with some ideas.

4. Learn something new!
I'm always wanting to learn new things!  What have you been wanting to learn how to do?  This summer, I plan on working on learning how to create digital products and activities for my students to use in Google Classroom.  I also am planning on learning how to hand embroider.  I've seen some amazing embroidery artists on Instagram that have inspired me to try.  Check out @sarakbenning to see what I'm talking about!  What are you going to try?

5. Binge watch!

Find a new series to watch and watch all the episodes.  Have you watched "Orange is the New Black"?  I can't wait for the newest season.  I've heard great things about "Game of Thrones" so I need to get started on that!  If you haven't watched "Downton Abbey", you should! Summer is the perfect time to catch up on a new show.  There are so many good ones to choose from!

6. Cook new recipes!
Summer is my favorite time to test out new recipes.  Pinterest is my go-to place to find new and tasty recipes.  Here are a few recipes I can't wait to try (click on the image to go to the pin):
One Pan Mexican Quinoa
Herbed Lemon Garlic Chicken Skewer

7. Reflect and grow!
Summer is the perfect time to look back on your school year and think about what worked well and what didn't work so well.  I keep a journal and jot down notes and thoughts.  I like to focus more on what worked well and build on that.  Think about the ideas, routines, and activities that worked well and figure out how to make them even better.  One activity that I loved this past year was incorporating reading and writing skills into my math block.  In my math stations, I had students using my Read and Respond  Math passages with corresponding written response questions.  The passages I gave them were review of topics they had previously learned.  It was a great way to review and to practice important reading and written response skills.  Each topic has 3 passages with questions and answer keys available in my TpT store.  Read & Respond Math is also available as a growing bundle that you can find  here.



8. Explore!
Find something new to you in your area to explore!  Maybe it's a park you never visited, a new restaurant, a museum, or event.  Look at your town/city/community through the eyes of a tourist and be one!  This summer I plan on visiting Loblolly Woods Nature Park in Gainesville, FL for the first time.  It's known for bird watching and has a lush forest that looks like it may be a cool place to visit during our hot summers!
Loblolly Woods Nature Park
9. Family fun!
If you have children (and even if you don't), go play!  Pull out the board games, sidewalk chalk, paint, sprinklers, sparklers, whatever, and enjoy!  My kids are teenagers now but I know if I set up a sprinkler or badminton net, they will come out and join the fun.  



10. Nap!
Aahhh, the luxury of taking a nap in the middle of the day!  Just being able to relax and close your eyes for a few minutes is a perfect way recharge and de-stress!  Catching up on much needed sleep is a big summer goal for me.

What would you add to your summer "recharge" list?


Reduce Test Anxiety with Go Noodle!


We had our first day of FSA Math testing today.  The FSA is the Florida standardized "test" which is actually the "AIR" test, and, well, you know, I'm sure they are all just about the same anyway.  Or not.  Who knows, we're not allowed to look at it or talk about it.  Can you tell I'm not a big fan?  I don't mind the idea of a standardized test, I just don't agree with the way we test now.  Anyway, that is NOT the point of this post.

The point of this post?  TEST ANXIETY.
The answer?  GO NOODLE!

Go Noodle has been shared everywhere by teachers and if you haven't tried it in your classroom yet, just go and do it!  Need a brain break? Go Noodle.  Need indoor recess? Go Noodle.  Need to refocus your students? Go Noodle.  Need to reduce test anxiety?  Yup. Go Noodle. Check it out here.

Today, before the BIG test, my students were super anxious. They LOVE math but get easily frustrated.  I wanted to calm them down and give them strategies to use during the test that would help to reduce anxiety if needed.

I used the "Empower Tools" Channel and we watched and participated in "Relieve Anxiety".



The video demonstrated simple breathing exercises and some movement that could easily be done during a test.  After the video, all of my students agreed that they felt calmer.  We discussed how they could "relieve anxiety" during the test in front of their computer if needed.  During the test, I was happy to see some arms being raised to stretch - I just knew they were using the calming breathing technique!



It was a simple thing to add to my students' strategy tool box before the big test!  We're going to try another one before day 2 of testing begins tomorrow!  Do you Go Noodle?

Relax!
Debbie

Do More of What Makes You Happy

What makes you happy?  Well, you should do more of that!


As a teacher and a mom, it's so easy to get caught up in all of the "stuff" that needs to get done!  That, my friend, is a recipe for burn out.  How do you relax?  Where do you find joy?  My favorite happy place is inside of a book.  I make time for reading every single day.  Seriously. If I go a day without my nose in a book, call the doctor!  To me, reading is like a mini-vacation and an escape from the every day world.  My other happy place is playing outside - riding a bike, tossing a ball with my kids, going on a hike, a walk on the beach.  I make time for outside play every day too.  Creating and making things is another thing that makes me happy -  it may mean cooking up a new recipe, creating a new product for my Teachers Pay Teachers store, crafting, or making art (I love to paint and draw)!

Think about the little things you love to do, those simple things that bring you joy, and make the time every day to do one or two or more of those activities! 

Do more of what makes you happy!
Debbie

Leap Day Leap Frog Fun STEM Challenge!

Monday is Leap Day! Leap Day only happens once every 4 years, so I'm celebrating in my 5th grade classroom with a Leap Day Leap Frog Catapult Stem Challenge!

video

On Monday, I'll explain the objective and rules of the challenge, give them the materials and let them design and have fun!  Throughout the challenge, my students are answering questions, recording ideas, observations, making revisions, collecting data.  After the challenge, my students reflect on the designs.  What designs worked the best?  What didn't work?  Students are using important science and engineering process skills all while having fun and working cooperatively.

Students work in teams of 3 or 4 with assigned team roles.  The teams plan a catapult design, build, try the design and revise before the challenge!  Each team gets two attempts to leap the frog from the catapult.  The team that leaps the frog the farthest is the winner!

My Leap Day Leap Frog Catapult STEM Challenge file is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.  The Challenge file contains teacher directions and notes plus student pages for planning, testing, revising, the challenge, and a reflection on the design challenge. A rubric is also included!






Happy Leap Day!
Debbie

Multiply Fractions Using Area Models with a Freebie for YOU!


Confession.  Math was my worst subject in school.  Calculus?  I honestly don't know how I survived college level calc with Dr. K.  I think he just took pity on me.  

Looking back now, I had some not so great math teachers.  I don't want to be that teacher - I mean, who aims for "not so great"?   I want to be the teacher that I wish I had when I was young.  Now, I LOVE math and LOVE teaching math.  I want my students to LOVE math too.  That's a lot of love.   To become the math teacher I wish I had, I seek and create ways to make math meaningful, hands-on and fun!  

When it came time to start multiplying fractions with my 5th graders, I remembered how difficult it was to use area models with my 5th graders last year.  It was so difficult because our district-provided math text has students creating fraction models in tiny boxes and then shading them in.  Ironically, the lesson is titled "Hands-On Multiply Fractions".  Drawing models is not hands-on enough for me!
I had an idea to use clear fraction models that they could overlap to see the area models multiply. I immediately thought of overhead transparency film and that YES I could print models on this!  I created fraction models, printed them, cut them out and viola! Perfect.  

I allowed my students a chance to play with the models first.


Next,  I modeled how to multiply fractions using the area model using this terrific online interactive, http://www.geogebra.org/m/40578.  I also modeled how to use the fraction transparency models using my document camera.

I let my students "play" with the models on their individual white boards.  They created and solved their own problems.  They LOVED this activity.

Lay out the transparency models - one vertical, one horizontal

Slide the models to overlap and find the product
I created  area model problem pages for students to use the models to create and solve the problem and then draw the models and the product.

Here's a preview of the full product Multiply Fractions with Area Models available in my TeachersPayTeachers store!  It also includes a set of expressions and product models for students to sort - great in workstations for extra practice.


AND  I've created a freebie of the fraction models just for you!  


Thank YOU for stopping by!

Do What You Love, Love What You Do


This time of the year, I find myself getting in a bit of a slump.  Student behavior seems to start to slip, lesson plans and grading need to be done, meetings suck up my precious time, and lots of other little things get in the way of joy.  The problem is not all of the little things or my students behavior, the problem is actually ME.  It's so easy to get caught up in all of the problems and  the overwhelming pile of work (and the cold and sometimes dreary weather doesn't help either!).  BUT those things are always there.  Nothing.Has.Changed.  Except my attitude.  Last week, I was in a super-slump of negativity but then I started thinking about the things I LIKE about my job.  Then I realized that I LOVE my job.  I really can't imagine doing anything else.  The joy of connecting with students, helping and watching them learn and grow, instilling a joy of learning, and actually making a difference in a young person's life - it really doesn't get any better than that.  It's my passion.  I love teaching.  Do what you love and love what you do.  Words to live by.  I changed my attitude by focusing on the positive and finding those small moments of joy every day - a hug from a student, that one tough cookie who finally smiles and picks up a pencil, a student's pride in doing well on a test, playing kickball at recess, spending the last 3 minutes of small group instruction just chatting about whatever they want to share with me and each other, a class dance to Uptown Funk at the end of the day..... When I put all of the small moments of joy together- it overwhelms all of the negatives.  There is joy, just open your eyes!  I love teaching.


What Are You Reading Linky


Don't you just love reading aloud to your students?  It's one of my favorite moments of the day. Sharing a great book together is so beneficial.  We discuss, we learn, we argue, we disagree, we laugh, we cry, we BOND.  What a meaningful way to build a classroom community!
Right now we're reading Because of Mr. Terupt.  This is my first time reading this book and I'm hooked.  The first chapter, "Peter", is hilarious!  It's borderline inappropriate but perfect for 5th graders.  Peter is used to pulling one over on teachers but Mr. Terupt is onto him (in a good way).  So many of my students could relate to Peter (or know of a Peter!).  Mr. Terupt is a "rookie" teacher who is already capturing his students' hearts.  This is going to be a great read!

Amazon 

Head over to Focused on Fifth to see what other 5th grade classes are reading!

Focused on Fifth

The Book vs.The Movie

In Language Arts, my 5th graders recently completed a novel unit using Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.  I used the 5th grade novel unit from ReadWorks.org and it was fantastic!  The unit is broken down into 22 days with lessons on genre, predictions, plot conflicts, theme, relationships, gender roles textual analysis  and a ton of vocabulary resources.  It was jam-packed with great lessons and student pages and best of all, it was FREE.  I use ReadWorks.org quite frequently as a source for close reading passages but have never tried their novel units.  I highly recommend that you try it out!  They also have a nice collection of paired texts and poetry!  It's an amazing resource!

My students LOVED "Bridge to Terabithia" and I thoroughly enjoyed rereading it again!  To celebrate the end of the unit, we watched the film.  I had my students compare and contrast the book versus the movie by completing a Venn diagram.


After the movie, my students had to write about the differences and similarities and then explain which version they preferred. 



It was a lot of fun!  The 2007 version of the movie is quite different from the book, so my students had quite a lot to write about.  I'm happy to report that even though they all enjoyed the movie, they ALL thought that the book was better!

You can grab a FREE copy of this organizer and writing prompt from my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking on the image below!



Enjoy!