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Monday, June 29, 2015

Opinion Writing for a Multi-Grade Classroom: Conclusion

I've been working on a unit for 3rd, 4th, and 5th Graders about Opinion writing based on the Common Core Writing Standards.

  My goal is to create a unit that can be used in a
 Multi-Grade Classroom. 
 Here's an example of one of the activities.




To make it work for a Multi-Grade classroom, there are 3 different paragraphs that are appropriate for different grade levels. 

 The whole class has a mini-lesson about writing a conclusion to an opinion paragraph.   The teacher then divides students into small groups, and that group receives one paragraph based on their reading level.

Smiles,
Deborah

Monday, June 8, 2015

Clarifying the Differences Between Opinion, Persuasive, and Argument Writing

While developing materials to assist a 3rd Grader as she learns how to write an opinion piece that supports a point of view with reasons, I had to step back and clarify the difference between 
opinion, persuasive, and argument writing for myself.

Here is a simple chart from writestepswriting.com that helped me. Click on the chart to take you directly to their website.

Opinion Chart


Then I came upon this very informative  post written by 
the Six Traits Gurus, and I realized that the big difference between these different types of writing is evidence.

For the 3rd Grader that I am working with, I need to concentrate on just having her learn to state her opinion well but with her own voice.

Grade Level Differences: Opinion Pieces versus Arguments
Up through grade 5, the CCSS call for students to write opinion pieces, not arguments per se. The defining characteristics of an opinion piece are as follows:
  • The writer makes a claim
  • The writer offers reasons to support that claim (School uniforms are not a good idea because they are expensive)
  • The writer offers facts or details to strengthen his/her reasons (School uniforms can cost over $100 each, and every student needs at least two of them)
  • The writer uses transitions (For example, To illustrate, Consequently, On the other hand, In addition) to link reasons or details to the main claim
  • The writer sets up the paper by making the issue clear and closes by reinforcing his/her position or otherwise guiding the reader toward a good decision
After reading this post, I also realized that I don't want my 3rd Grader to get sucked into the conclusion pit where they just restate the 3 reasons.  I want them to start to think about a powerhouse ending that contains those reasons without the step by step writing that is so boring (and yet so easy to do). Here's an excerpt from the blog post that started me thinking:

  • A powerhouse ending. Endings matter. They need to stick in our minds, wrap up loose ends, give us new things to think about—and perhaps, in the case of argument, suggest new thinking or action. An ending must be more than a summary of what we’ve read. It is condescending to simply summarize what’s been said, as if the reader were inattentive or not very quick. It’s lazy to leave things dangling, or toss the choice of options to the reader—the old “What do you think?” way out. A good argument might close with a call to action, a summary of the consequences of inaction, or even with the most powerful piece of evidence—one the writer has held back until this moment. A good question to ask is, What doesn’t the reader know yet that will push him/her to a good conclusion?
 She also discusses implications for higher grades as they focus on argumentative writing and on using evidence to support those arguments.  Click HERE to read the whole article.  It's really worth your time! 

Lastly, I did more research on this topic using multiple sources and an old language arts textbook (dry reading)  and the definitions concurred with the above discussion. I didn't want you to think I just found one source on the internet and took that information as the "holy grail."
Smiles, 
Deborah 


 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Opinion Writing : Common Core Standard CC.3.W.1a



 I am working with a 3rd Grader on the
 Common Core Writing Standard CC.3.W.1.a

Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.

We've been talking about the organizational structure that help us write a well-written opinion.  
Together we wrote down some of her thoughts that answer the topic: Is ballet a healthy activity?
Example of a completed Opinion Structure
Example of an individual Page
If you would like a fan pattern to use in your classroom, click HERE TO GO TO MY GOOGLE DOC FILE

This document has both lined and unlined fan pages. It also includes the organizational graphic organizer that we used while talking about the structure of an opinion writing piece.
 (More on that in another post)

Leave a comment and let me know if you find it helpful or not. Share your OPINION
Smiles, 
Deborah

Monday, April 27, 2015

Comparing Surface Area and Volume

A great activity for those "talented students" that you are urging to think about ideas on their own.

Give the student sentence strips that contain the above phrases.  In small groups, they create the Venn Diagram.  Then, challenge them to create their own Double Venn Diagrams that compare two mathematical concepts.  

Have the students generate a list of pairs of mathematical concepts that they could compare, and then confer with their teacher
 for final approval of their basic idea.

Lately, I've been thinking about this poem.

Perhaps we need to let our "Talented Learners"  FLY?

Smiles,
Deborah

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fractions: Why Numerator and Denominator?

Numerator comes from the Latin word meaning number.

Denominator comes from the Latin word meaning name.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/49/e1/73/49e1734119e4d5666b04ba57f94505e3.jpg 

Don't you just wish early mathematicians would have used 
number and name?

 It would have been so much easier to teach 3rd Graders
 to read and write number and name than numerator and denominator :)
Smiles,
Deborah 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fraction Progress: Referring to the Same Whole

I've been doing some personal professional development about the fraction progression in the Common Core Standards.  

I was thinking about this standard:
 
CCSS.Math.Content.3.NF.A.3.d
Compare two fractions with the same numerator or the same denominator by reasoning about their size. Recognize that comparisons are valid only when the two fractions refer to the same whole. Record the results of comparisons with the symbols >, =, or <, and justify the conclusions, e.g., by using a visual fraction model.


When I came upon this task at Illustrative Mathematics.
 
If you were to choose the two pictures that best compares 2/3 and 2/5, which two illustrations would you choose?


Your first reaction would be that students could choose either illustration 3 or 4 to represent 2/3.  That is true, but why must you select illustrations 4 and 5 together?



This question highlights the fact that in order to compare two fractions, they must refer to the same whole. 
Do we spend enough time on the fact that both fractions must refer to the same wholes?
     When we use pre-made worksheets that compare fractions, they usually have a pre-drawn "Whole."  



Using this task from Illustrative Mathematics, in a small group format, could lead to an amazing discussion of the importance of the "same whole."

Here at home, I think I will give my soon-to-be Third Grader 
a cookie like this and ask her to share 1/2 of the cookie
 with me. 

 
I will promise to share 1/2 of my (unseen ) cookie with her.

My cookie will look like this:
What do you think her reaction will be?  Will our discussion lead to the importance of the "same whole?"
P.S.  If I had a multi-grade 2/3 classroom, would this still be an appropriate lesson, using cookies instead of a worksheet?  What questions would I ask of a 2nd Grader versus a 3rd Grader? 
Smiles,
Deborah

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Manipulatives that Assist Students in Thinking about Similar and Congruent

I have several sets of these  32 MiniRelational GeoSolids. 

 I mix them all together when we do an activity in which students sort the shapes into groups that illustrate the characteristics of similar and congruent.  There are very few concrete materials that help students think about the difference between the properties of these two concepts. 

In grades 4-6 you can also introduce the mathematical symbols for congruent and similar:

congruent Congruent (same shape and size)


similar Similar (same shape, different size)

How about having that mathematically talented group of students in your class create an anchor chart for the class that compares the properties of congruent and similar.  

Here is an interesting anchor chart that I found on Google Images. Let student research the meanings of the markings on the triangles and explain the definitons of the words proportional and adjacent. (Don't worry about the calculations at the bottom, just use the illustrations.)

What do you think about this idea?  I had 3 very mathematically talented boys in my 3rd/4th grade class one year that kept me up at night thinking of challenging activities for them to do or investigate. (They loved geometry concepts, and I heard that one of the boys later became an engineer :) )When we would cover our "grade level" material, I would meet with them 8 minutes before class and discuss the lesson. Then using white boards or concrete materials, they would show me that they understood those concepts. 

 Next, I would give them their assignment, discuss the quality of work that I was looking for, and they would work and write in their math journals at the reading table in the back of the room.  I can only tell you that the quality of work that came from those boys was worth the sleepless nights and extra work.  


Smiles,
Deborah




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