Content Card – Details, Details, Details

Details and examples are one of those areas that students have struggled with when writing.  Being able to cite details and examples is a skill that is valuable in reading, writing, thinking, and speaking.  What are some of the things we might want to make sure students learn when we ask them to think about details and examples?  We might want them to know what kinds of things are details: facts, quotes, statistics, firgurative language, the information in a visual, sensory details, and more.  We also want students to know some of the things they can do with details:  compare and contrast ideas, support a point of view, oppose a point of view, make a decision, describe a character, make inferences, make prediections, and more.  As always, I’ve got a pdf copy for you – just print it out and share it with your students (and fellow educators).

Content Card, Details

Exit Slips

Exit slips are as tool to check for understanding and get a sense of where your kids are on just about any topic you want.  They are so easy to implement.

I’ve written basic directions and examples for using exit slips in your classroom.

Don’t let this idea slip away!

Click here to download the three-page document for working with exit slips.

Quick-Writes

A quick-write is a literacy strategy that can be used in any content area.  In this activity you give students a topic or let them choose one of their own and then give them five minutes or so to write quickly about the topic.

I’ve included brief directions for using Quick-Writes with your students and an example of how to have students fill in their writing logs.

Download the materials now and give the technique a try!

Write About Data in Graphs – Elementary

Writing is a tool for thinking and learning.  It doesn’t matter what content area you teach, you’ll find many opportunities to help students think through writing.

This quick overview gives a couple of ideas for having students write about data from a line graph.

Download the overview sheet and examples of having elementary students write about data.

Analysis Questions – Line Graphs

In this pdf, I’ve included examples of analysis questions for two different line graphs.  Both of these are for the elementary level.  For each set of questions, I’ve also included a large size of the graph that you can project and/or give students as they work to answer these questions.

Download the pdf of the Analysis Questions for a Line Graph.

Remember the Success Sequence:  Draw, Talk, Write.  Have the students use the visual and talk about the answers – preferably in a structured way as you call out the question.  Then have students write about the graph.

Analysis Questions – Bar Graphs

One of the simplest things you can do to help students think deeply about visual material is to write analysis questions for the different types of visuals you use with students.  This example is for bar graphs – and I’ve included two examples to give you an idea of how these questions might look.  (I’ll be adding a whole series of analysis questions for different types of visuals, so be sure to check back often and/or subscribe to this blog.)

Overview Sheet – Analysis Questions, Bar Graphs

Analysis Questions, Bar Graph, Band Instrument Choices

Analysis Questions, Bar Graph, 3D Movies

After students talk about the information in the graphs, based on the guiding questions you provide, have them write a summary of what the graph says.  You can make this a short and sweet summary that uses bullet statements or you can have students write a full paragraph.  When you give students a chance to talk about the questions BEFORE having them write, they’ll do a much better job with the summary.

Use the graphs.  Get students talking about the information in the graphs.  Watch them develop deeper understanding because you guided them through deeper thinking of the material.  And as always, don’t forget to add your own good questions.  You may even want to add some here!

Know Data, Know Answers

I want to share a piece I wrote a number of years ago.  I love the rubrics designed by the fine folks at Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, but I wanted to unpack the rubrics.  By unpacking the rubrics, I can get to data that allows me  to see the specific parts of the problem-solving process in mathematics for which students need help.  I hope you’ll read the article and add an idea or two to your assessment toolkit.  Download the article here.

Download a copy of Northwest’s Mathematics Problem Solving Grid.

Using Data to Form Flex Groups – Kindergarten Writing

You’ve likely heard about using data to inform student achievement.  You’ve also likely used assessment data from your state tests to try and do that.  There are many ways to use data, including the kinds of data you collect in your classroom.  This short piece describes how to use data from a rubric to form flexible groups for instruction.  Download the pdf to learn more about how to use this data strategy.

You may also want to download a copy of the kindergarten rubric that is used in this strategy.

Kindergarten Developmental Rubric

This three-page handout has an example of a developmental rubric that can be used in kindergarten.

Download the pdf of the kindergarten rubric and ideas for its use.

You may also want to see my post related to using the data from this rubric to form flexible groups.

Content Card, Parallel (Elementary Level)

Our younger students learn about parallel lines in different grade levels in different states.  But there is some key content that students need to know related to parallel lines.  This content card provides key content.  (If you see other things that need to be added, please leave a comment and I’ll update this.  All of my content cards are a work in progress.)  DOWNLOAD THE CONTENT CARD FOR PARALLEL.  I’ve included a piece that is not in most elementary programs – and that is how to write a math sentence that shows two lines are parallel.

Remember that in curriculum development world, we still need to work on things students must be able to do with this content at the elementary school level.  Do we want students to identify parallel lines in everyday things?  Do we want students to distinguish between a parallel line and a perpendicular line?  What about explaining what a parallel line is?  What about explaining why a line that is not parallel isn’t?  Do we want students to explain the difference between parallel lines and intersecting lines?  These kinds of things become objectives in your curriculum.

For those of you in charge of developing curriculum, there are a couple of questions you’ll want to answer:  What core content do you want at each grade level in relation to this concept?  What do you want students to do with the content at each grade level?  By the way, content cards are a good way to check vertical and horizontal alignment in a curriculum at the district level.

If your role is that of designing assessments, the content cards are a big plus as well.  When everyone works from the same core content – and the same objectives, you support tight alignment at the classroom level – which is where alignment really happens.