Mar 12, 2014


Where do I start???

It all started when my class came back from Christmas break. We started to learn how to question before, during, and after reading. We started by questioning with fiction texts. Kheila posted a great post about that. Check it out here.

last year I have really fell in love with teaching penguins. I wanted to go beyond just labeling the parts of the penguins and reading facts to the children. I wanted the kids to take part int the process. My sweet friend Kheila from Two Friends In First told me about something she has done before called rainbow books. It took some time for me to get a solid handle on it, but now that I have done it from start to end I am in LOVE with this process. I am by no means am an expert on this, but this is how I managed to make it work in my classroom this year!

When we started to question with non-fitction we wrote down any questions we had about penguins on Post-it notes and then just stuck all of them up on the board. (It was a large sea of questions! That had so many things they were curious about)

After all of our questions were written down we grouped our questions into larger groups. I used our "schema" folders to do so.  We knew we would be finding the answers to these questions and in effect we would be adding schema to our brain!

Before we started reading we decided on a color coded system that would allow us to code the answers to the corresponding question color. For example, any information in the book that related to what penguins looked like would be tabbed purple.

Then we pulled out all of our books about penguins and we set to work!

First I read 2-3 penguin books together as a class and we practiced how and when to add the color coded tabs. I wanted to do it as a whole class first so that there would be less questions when they set to work independently.

I assigned a folder to each of my reading groups. Then I pulled books that I felt each reading group could handle reading on their own and we set to work! Believe it or not there are good penguin books on the lower levels like E and F. I have 4-5 that they were able to look at independently. There was one or two that we did as a "shared reading" during guided reading and we all just worked together. My other 4 groups did a wonderful job and were able to read most of the books. I also remind my students that text features give you lots of clues about what the page is all about.

They absolutely loved doing the research!

Then once we had finished the research it was time to get writing! We spent a few days during writing block to talk about text features and how they help you to tell a story. We referenced other non-fiction books to learn for expert authors. 

I met with them in groups and we looked at each section of our folders and decided how we could break that question down so that everyone could contribute to the book. I created these layouts for each group so that they could remember their topic. These pages were great for keeping organized! 

At first they created their own page independently so I could see what text features they decided to use and what information they were communicating to the reader. Together we looked at their writing and we figured out how to make it better and adjust it. The page with blue pen is the page we did together. 

Once the rough drafts were done it was time to create our book! 

We used Book Creator to do this project. I chose this app over the many others out there because…
1. It is easy for the kids to use
2. It allows them to draw into the app
3. It allows you to record their voice reading the text (an extra fun way to make it personalized)
4. It can be put into your iBooks library or exported as a PDF for printing!

So with some help of a very kind class mom and all my students we were able to create our very first digital class book!

Check out the quick video I took of the book. It was the only way I could let you hear their voices! I only did a few just to give you the idea :)  

Sorry the video is not great! I tried a few times… and this was the best I could do!

I hope you enjoyed learning about how we studied penguins this year! I am working on putting a unit together to explain the lessons that took place to do all of these activities. 

Thanks for your support!


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