Sunday, February 14, 2016

Fun Valentine Bookmarks for Students

Almost all of our students give candy to each other for Valentine's Day.  Each of them go home with enough sugar to keep them energized for days.  My co-teacher and I wanted to give the students something different that was fun, useful, and inexpensive. Oh, and neither one of us had a great deal of time last week to devote to the project. Thankfully, I had a brainstorm while brushing my teeth on Thursday morning.

I thought it would be funny to use a website to put our faces on funny pictures and create bookmarks for the kids. My amazing co-teacher pointed out that it was a great idea, but would be cuter with the students' pictures instead of ours. It took much longer to create the bookmarks her way, but she was absolutely right. The bookmarks turned out to be adorable and a big hit with the kids. Since we already had cardstock and access to the school's color copier and laminator, our only cost was the ribbon.

There are several free sites that will let you add your face to another photo. The best one I found that had choices appropriate for third graders, was Photofunia. I recommend taking a simple photo of each student early in the year, so you will be prepared when genius strikes at the eleventh hour. I set up a simple template with a message and inserted the jpegs downloaded from Photofunia. By the time the bookmarks were finished, I didn't have much time to take pictures before handing them out to students on Friday afternoon. The pictures aren't great, but you can get the idea. Please leave comments below of your best student Valentine ideas. Hopefully, I can start a little earlier next year!

Share the Love of a Good Book!

Last week, my class focused on the important skill of summarizing a text. A few of my students were struggling with this and I wanted to find a way for them to gain extra practice without making them feel like I was just giving them extra work. Since I couldn't find anything that seemed to fit on TeachersPayTeachers, I decided to create it myself.

I have written off and on in journals for years, but have found that I am much more engaged and consistent now that I have a blog. Having an audience makes all the difference. Of course, at this point the audience of my blog may only consist of my co-teacher and my best friend. I think even my husband only skims it.  Still it is an audience. My students needed an audience for their summaries.

My students have been fired up about reading since we returned to school in January. They share books and recommend books to each other from our classroom library. With the book fair at our school this week, everyone was talking about books and I needed to capitalize on that. I could have had them write simple book reports and read these out loud to the class, but I knew our week didn't allow enough time for that. What gives information about a book, but is far shorter than a book report? A book review!

Using the format of Somebody, Wanted, But, Then, So, I created a form for students to fill out about a book they had recently read from our classroom library. I added a second form to include more information about the book. The students needed a little help filling out these forms. I sat at my kidney shaped table with six students and provided support as they each chose a book and completed the forms. Once the forms were completed, the students simply filled in the blanks to write a book review. It was necessary to read back over their writing and add a few words here and there, but for the most part I was impressed with their results.

It was time for an authentic audience. Potential readers typically read book reviews, so my students visited, typed in their review, and downloaded a qr code link. They added this qr code to a Google Doc along with the title and their name. Once it was printed, I taped the qr code to the back of the book from our classroom library. Now anyone considering reading each book, can scan the qr code and read the student's review.

Although I initially created this for my students that needed extra summarizing practice, by the second day every student in my class was asking to write one. I found my stronger readers needed very little help with the format. We use Google Classroom, so many of them were surprised how easy it was to create the qr code and insert it into the Google Doc. Students have asked if they may write one every time they read a book from our classroom library. Students asking to write more? Nothing warms my heart more! As a Valentine's gift to my dear readers, I've put my QR Code Book Review product on TpT on sale from February 14th to February 17th. Show your students how much you care by giving them an opportunity to write for an authentic audience.