Monthly Archives: September 2009

Storytelling: a fun way to practice public speaking

story tellingComment on this post (below) and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card!

Looking for a fun way to foster public speaking skills in your upper elementary school students? Try introducing a storytelling project!

How it works:

  • Set aside about a week for this project.
  • After listening to you model a retelling of a popular story using expression and simple props, the students each pick a different favorite children’s story or fairy tale. (For a great list of download-able fairy tales, check out this site).
  • As a class, brainstorm the elements of good storytelling (eye contact with audience, props, hand motions, expressive voice, etc.)
  • Students begin learning their own story by memory, first by rewriting the story onto paper and then by making note cards about the story’s main ideas.
  • Students gather simple props and practice telling their story to a partner, using this evaluative form (click here to download) to provide constructive feedback to each other.
  • Then, have your students tell their story to the whole class.
  • On the final day of the project, have your students perform their stories either for an audience of parents or for a class of younger children. First-graders LOVE to be the audience for this project!
  • Use this rubric (click here to download) to evaluate students.

Students love getting to work with their favorite childhood stories, and storytelling puts a fun spin on traditional public speaking/oral reading assignments. The key is to model it first, discuss elements of effective storytelling, and provide plenty of opportunities to practice before the final performance day.

Write a comment about this post (below) and be entered to win a $20 School Box gift card!

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Graphic Organizers III: “Comic Book” Story Sequencer

Share your thoughts! OneMicrosoft Word - Story Strip Sequencer.doc lucky commenter from this post will receive a $20 School Box gift card!

Graphic organizers allow students to display and organize their thinking concretely–whether they’re reading a novel or their history book. This three-part series will share a new (downloadable!) graphic organizer with each post.

In the two previous posts, we met The Stick Man and the handy dandy Story Map. This article is about a great tool called the “Comic Book” Story Sequencer.

This tool allows students to summarize and visually depict main ideas of a text or historical event. And, with children, there’s a lot of power in a name. By calling it a “Comic Book” sequencer, students automatically think it’s a blast! They don’t even realize that they’re sequencing, determining main ideas, synthesizing, using writing skills and visualizing.

How it works:

Each box on the chart represents a different main event. Students draw a picture summarizing the main idea of the chapter (or historical event or science concept). And in the rectangle at the bottom, students write a sentence summarizing the main idea.

For younger grades, this can be very simple: A simple drawing of the characters with a simple sentence describing the drawing.

For older grades, this exercise can involve more detail and synthesis: The drawings can be very detailed, and their summary sentences may need to include more than one main idea to encompass the important events.

When to use it:

  • As a study guide before a history test, to sequence major events.
  • As an organizational tool before writing essays (a different point or paragraph can be organized in each box).
  • As an assessment tool to see how well students understand the main ideas of each chapter in a novel study. The pictures also show you what a student is visualizing as they read. Additional sheets can be added for additional chapters.
  • At the beginning of the year: Have students make a comic strip about themselves, using major events from their own lives!

How to use it:

  • Download the graphic organizer here. Once students get used to using the organizer, they can draw their own versions on paper.
  • Model how to complete the diagram thoughtfully. Complete the first one together as a class, so students can see that you want thoughtful responses and detailed visualizations.
  • If students need more practice with the diagram, have them complete one on themselves, next.
  • Then, have students complete the diagram independently on whatever book or concept you’re studying.
  • Colored, detailed sequencers make great classroom displays for open house, too!

To download the story sequencer, click here.

Coming next on A Learning Experience: Fun poetry ideas!

Got a good graphic organizer idea? Share your thoughts! One lucky commenter from this post will receive a $20 School Box gift card!

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Graphic Organizers II: Story Map

Microsoft Word - Story Map.docShare your thoughts! One lucky commenter from this post will receive a $20 School Box gift card!

Graphic organizers allow students to display and organize their thinking concretely–whether they’re reading a novel or their history book. This three-part series will share a new (downloadable!) graphic organizer with each post.

In the previous post, we met The Stick Man. In this post, we’ll be talking about the handy dandy Story Map.

This tool allows students to summarize and visually depict main ideas of a novel or text. Each box on the chart represents a different chapter or event.  In the small box in the right-hand corner, the students can number the boxes sequentially. In the large box, students draw a picture summarizing the main idea of the chapter (or historical events or science concept, etc). And in the rectangle at the bottom, students write a sentence summarizing the main idea.

For younger grades, this can be very simple: A simple drawing of the characters with a simple sentence describing the drawing.

For older grades, this exercise can involve more detail and synthesis: The drawings can be very detailed, and their summary sentences may need to include more than one main idea to encompass the important events of an entire chapter.

When to use it:

  • As a study guide before a history test, to sequence major events.
  • As an organizational tool before writing essays (a different point or paragraph can be organized in each box).
  • As an assessment tool to see how well students understand the main ideas of each chapter in a novel study. The pictures also show you what a student is visualizing as they read. Additional sheets can be added for additional chapters.
  • At the beginning of the year: Have students complete one about themselves, using major events from their own lives!

How to use it:

  • Download the graphic organizer here. Once students get used to using the organizer, they can draw their own versions on paper.
  • Model how to complete the diagram thoughtfully. Complete the first one together as a class, so students can see that you want thoughtful responses and detailed visualizations.
  • If students need more practice with the diagram, have them complete one on themselves, next.
  • Then, have students complete the diagram independently on whatever book or concept you’re studying.
  • Colored, detailed story maps make great classroom displays for open house, too!

To download the story map, click here.

Coming next in this series: Story Strip Sequencer

Got a good graphic organizer idea? Share your thoughts! One lucky commenter from this post will receive a $20 School Box gift card!

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Graphic Organizers: Stick Man to the Rescue!

Microsoft Word - Stickman diagram.docShare your thoughts! One lucky commenter from this post will receive a $20 School Box gift card!

Graphic organizers allow students to display and organize their thinking concretely–whether they’re reading a novel or their history book. This three-part series will share a new (downloadable!) graphic organizer with each post.

The Stick Man

This handy little tool is essentially a stick man that represents a book character, historical figure, personal idol–anyone whom your class is studying.  The students label the stick figure with thoughts, actions and feelings.

For younger grades, this can be very concrete: Christopher Columbus thought the world was round. He sailed his ship to the New World. He felt excited to find new land.

For older grades, this exercise can involve more inferences and critical thinking: Martin Luther King, Jr. thought equality was a right, regardless of skin color. He united people in peaceful protests of an unfair system. He dreamed that one day our country would no longer be divided by race.

When to use it:

  • As a study guide before a history test, to conceptualize and remember historical figures.
  • As an organizational tool before writing biographies or book reports.
  • As an assessment tool to see how well students understood a main character in a book.
  • As a classroom community-building tool: Pair up your students, and have them complete a stick man about their partners.
  • At the beginning of the year: Have students complete one about themselves!

How to use it:

  • Download the graphic organizer here. Once students get used to using the organizer, they can draw their own versions on paper.
  • Model how to complete the diagram thoughtfully. Complete the first one together as a class, so students can see that you want thoughtful responses.
  • If students need more practice with the diagram, have them complete one on themselves, next.
  • Then, have students complete the diagram independently on whatever figure or character you’re studying.
  • Students get a kick out of coloring their stick men, too. They can even add hair, clothes, etc.

To download the stick man, click here. To download a teacher key, click here.

Coming next in this series: Story Boards

Got a good graphic organizer idea? Share your thoughts! One lucky commenter from this post will receive a $20 School Box gift card!

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Four AWESOME Classroom Web Sites!

student and teacher at computerDo you have a favorite online resource? Share it below in a comment. One comment will be selected to win a School Box gift card!

Cyberspace is flooded with sites geared toward education. Here are a few of our favorites– all of which are chock full of great resources you can share with your students and easily implement into your lesson plans. Inspiration made easy!

1. puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com: Make your own printable word searches, crossword puzzles and more using the vocabulary words from your current lesson plans. The site also includes a lesson plan gallery for K-12, organized by subject and topic.

2. www.FactMonster.com. This is a fun reference site filled with facts galore! The site is well organized, and topics span current events, sports, money, math, science, homework help, biographies of notable people (including a section focused on famous women) and a slide show of presidential “first kids.” There’s also a “reference desk” complete with an online atlas (both world and U.S.), encyclopedia, dictionary, and almanac. A one-stop-shop for kid-friendly research!

3. kids.nationalgeographic.com. Learn about places and animals around the world through photos, games, stories and activities. Cool stuff abounds on this site, which is sure to become a favorite with your students.

4. www.eduplace.com/tales. Welcome to Wacky Web Tales- an online version of Mad Libs, where students can hone their parts of speech while making up silly nonsense stories. Hilarity guaranteed.

Do you have another favorite online resource? Share it below in a comment. One comment will be selected to win a School Box gift card!

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Get $35 to spend @ The School Box for sharing your ideas and expertise!

school_box_color_logoOkay, so the school year is underway. Yay! But let me guess…are you already out of funds for classroom supplies? If so, we have the perfect classroom stimulus package.

Just send us a brief (less than 500 words) article, essay, journal entry (whatever you want to call it) that shares classroom tips, lesson plan/project ideas, or poignant or funny classroom stories. If your entry is selected for publication (which it most likely will be), you get instant cash for your class: a $35 School Box gift card to be spent either at one of their stores or–if you’re one of the poor souls who doesn’t live near a School Box store–in the School Box catalog, which we will mail to you with your gift card (we’ll even cover the postage for your items).

So, e-mail your ideas to us, so we can send you a little something-something to support you in your teaching endeavors!

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