Category Archives: Language Arts

60 Graphic Organizers

This is a great resource for differentiating.  Many teachers use graphic organizers, but there are a few here that I’ve never seen – such as the jigsaw puzzle.  Changing things up always grabs the students’ attention.  To apply this to different abilities in your classroom you could try the following levels, in order from least ability to greatest ability:

  • organizer that is pre-filled
  • organizer that is attached to a worksheet with the different words or phrases for the students to cut out and apply
  • blank organizer with no word bank
  • select your own organizer and fill out

I have tried the last one in my classroom, and the students love being given the option to choose.  It is interesting to see how they can apply the same information in several different types of diagrams.

Advertisements

Six-Word Memoirs

A couple of years ago, a fellow Gifted and Talented teacher, Michelle A., introduced me to these brief biographies by showing me the book Not Quite What I Was Planning.  I was immediately intrigued, and went out to buy my own copy.  There is something deeply moving about the power of six words to tell an entire life story, and I looked for ways to incorporate it into my classroom.  Apparently, Michelle and I weren’t the only ones who saw the potential of this writing technique.  It has taken classrooms by storm.  On this site, a teacher explains how she used the idea with her second graders, and gives instructions for the classroom activities. (Be sure to click on “Expand to Read More”.)  And at Smith Mag, there are lots of examples and ideas – even 6-word questions.  And Daniel Pink has a variation on this idea, as well, with “What’s Your Sentence?”.   I would not recommend that you set younger students loose on any of these resources, as there are some mature topics discussed, but you can gather plenty of appropriate ideas to jumpstart their creativity.

Make Beliefs Comix

Apparently, I really like this site.  I keep coming across it in my Bookmarks and Favorites on several different computers, as well as my online bookmarking site.  One reason I like this site is because my students like it.  They enjoy the different comic templates and the choices of characters and scenes.  Another reason that this site is appealing is because it offers alternatives for those who may not have access to many computers.  If you don’t want to have your students create the comics online, there are many printables offered by the site, which could also be used for planning out the cartoons.  In addition, there are Teacher Resources (I like that the page is titled “How to Play) with 20 suggestions for using comics in the classroom, and there is a link to Writer Prompts.

The Learning Network – NY Times

According to its website, “The Learning Network provides teaching and learning materials and ideas based on New York Times content.”  Although the site is designed for students who are 13 or over, I have found many lessons that can be adapted to my elementary level Gifted and Talented students.  The site includes lesson plans with links to related stories in the New York Times, as well as news quizzes and crossword puzzles.  I find the “Student Opinion” section to be a treasure chest of engaging questions that can help students connect themselves to the real world.  The “Poetry Pairings” section is also intriguing.  The site is a great resource for teachers, and gives teenagers a voice and a place to see how the news relates to them

Mensa for Kids

This site offers resources for teachers and parents, as well as games, activities, and contests for kids who like challenges.  I like the “Living Poetically” challenge, as well as the “Excellence in Reading Award”.  In the games section, there is a neat “Family Crossword” that is updated twice a week.  It includes clues for kids and for adults, so families can participate together.  The “Word Roundup” is a fun way to learn new trivia and vocabulary, and there are several math games as well.  According to Mensa’s website, Mensa for Kids just won the 2011 APEX Grand Award in the category of Electronic & Video Publications (Nonprofit/Small Office subcategory). With its treasure trove of lesson plans and entertaining activities, I can certainly see why!

WordFoto

WordFoto is an iApp ($1.99) with a lot of potential for creative minds.  The app allows the user to either take a picture or load a photo from the device’s Photo Gallery.  Once loaded, the designer can then crop the picture if necessary.  The main appeal, however, is adding words to the picture.  There are sets of words already provided, or a creative mind can provide his or her own.  You can also choose the style by selecting from different themes or creating your own.  In addition, there are some fine-tuning tools to tweak things a bit more.  Below you will find an example of an original photo by one of my 4th graders, and her interpretation using WordFoto.

Original Photo
WordFoto Version

Thanks to Laura Moore, who first brought this app to my attention in her blog!  Be sure to check out her post for ideas on how to use WordFoto in the classroom.

Tic-Tac-Connect

This idea is one of several provided in an article on Scholastic.com entitled Making Connections/Self-Monitoring: A Differentiated Learning Centers Unit Plan.  You may want to check out the entire unit.  Or, if you have less time, be sure to visit this section, which gives you suggestions for using the above reproducible to encourage your students to make connections to the text they are reading.  The students could use this independently or in a game format in pairs.  This lesson is excerpted from Differentiated Literacy Centers by Margo Southall.