Rounding with Number Lines {includes FREE Task Cards!}

It seems there are two schools of thought when it comes to teaching students to round numbers. When you search "rounding anchor charts" on Pinterest, a whole slew of cute little rhymes about "going next door" to the neighboring number appear. You can also find a plethora of images with a rounding roller coaster (which is what I used to teach rounding to my second graders long ago during my first two years of teaching).

Recently, though, I ran across a blog post by Beyond Traditional Math that made me rethink my approach to teaching students how to round numbers. In fact, the author convinced me that teaching students to use number lines to round numbers is the best approach for most children because it provides the necessary conceptual understanding to support long-term retention. Tricks are too easily forgotten, whereas the number line approach supports number sense and place value understanding. (Read the blog post HERE.)

Therefore, when I decided to create a Rounding PowerPoint last week, I used number lines. However, in an effort to make things just a bit more engaging, I added ninjas! These two posters (which can be downloaded by clicking on the images) and the anchor chart show the basic premise.
Use the number line to help upper elementary students understand the concept of rounding. Two free posters and a set of task cards are included in this blog post!

Use the number line to help upper elementary students understand the concept of rounding. Two free posters and a set of task cards are included in this blog post!
Clip art by Educlips.  Border by Kelly Benefield.
Use the number line to help upper elementary students understand the concept of rounding. Two free posters are included!

If you are interested in possibly using this approach to teach rounding this year, feel free to check out my rounding ninja resources. All of these rounding activities address rounding 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-digit numbers to the nearest ten, hundred, and thousand... and the task cards are FREE!

Rounding with Number Lines!

Rounding with Number Lines!

Use the number line to help upper elementary students understand the concept of rounding. Two free posters and a set of task cards are included in this blog post!

Teaching Plot with a Picture Book... with a freebie!

What is your first ELA topic to cover each school year? When I co-taught in 5th grade classrooms, we always started with teaching the PLOT ELEMENTS.  I would introduce the topic with my PowerPoint on the first day, but on the second day I would dig out a picture book!

Teaching plot elements to upper elementary students? Use a picture book like this one!

Picture books are perfect for teaching plot elements in grades 4-6.  As we all know, upper elementary and middle school students still love picture books. Another benefit is that they are short- in one class period you can read an entire picture book and plot the story on a plot diagram. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, Margie Palatini is my go-to author when I am looking for picture books to use with my upper elementary students, so I chose one of her hilarious books to use in this plot lesson.

Before class, I draw a basic plot diagram on an anchor chart (the black line only), and then as soon as class begins I ask the students to recall what they learned yesterday to help me label the various parts of the plot diagram.

Next, I inform them that I am going to read aloud a picture book to them, and when we are done, we are going to plot the story on our anchor chart. (This is also when I show them the book cover and tell them that Margie Palatini is my all-time favorite author of picture books because I am constantly laughing out loud when I read her books… which they are about to witness for themselves! I tell them that most kindergarteners and first graders would enjoy this book, but a lot of the humor would “go over their heads”.  As fifth graders, though, I think that they will really enjoy this book and fully appreciate the author’s humor. This usually perks my students up, and makes them become very good listeners- and it allows for interesting discussions as we read the book!) (Amazon affiliate link follows.)

After we finish the book, students help me write sentences that summarize the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution of the book on the anchor chart.

plot anchor chart

Finally, I give each student the exit ticket shown below. (Click HERE to download it for FREE!) I also set the anchor chart face-down on a table until all students have finished their exit tickets.

I ask students to independently label each box on the plot diagram with its formal name, and write a short definition to explain what typically happens during each part of the plot. After class, I scan the exit tickets to check for understanding. Students who completed the exit ticket activity with ease are allowed to tackle my plot task cards independently the next day, while the classroom teacher and I work with small groups of students who had more difficulty with the exit ticket. (Typically, the classroom teacher quickly meets with students who had one or two minor errors on the exit ticket, while I work with students who appear to need a higher level of support.)

Keep reading below to find out how I plan my 5-day study of PLOT. Feel free to check out the resources shown if you are looking for additional plot activities to do with your upper elementary and middle school students (just click on the images)!

Day 1: I show students my PLOT POWERPOINT.
activity for teaching plot

Day 2: We do the activity described above, reading Bad Boys and creating the anchor chart together.

Day 3: Students work through these PLOT TASK CARDS. Students who are ready to work independently do so, while students who need extra support work through these passages with a teacher.
These plot task cards include four original short stories! Students complete a plot diagram for each narrative.

Day 4: Students read the short story, label the plot diagram, and create the foldable.
This plot foldable can be used with ANY fiction book! Identify the book's setting, plot, and theme!

Day 5: Students read the short story included in this resource and identify the plot elements. (I use this as an assessment.) When finished, they assemble the craftivity.
Plot Elements Craftivity- This resource includes an original short story! After students read the story, they assemble the plot diagram and curtain!

Parts of Speech Craftivity... for FREE!!

I am just writing a super-short blog post today to share my revised FREE Adjective & Adverb craftivity!  In my experiences teaching upper elementary, students struggle with adjectives and adverbs... and understandably so.  They do have similar functions.  Students must have a solid understanding of nouns and verbs before they are able to reliably identify adjectives and adverbs.  Most of the time, students do fairly well identifying adjectives and adverbs in isolation (for example, many kids understand that "beautiful" is an adjective), but once you ask them to identify the part of speech of a certain word in a sentence, it suddenly becomes much more difficult for them!

And that's why I decided to create this FREE craftivity!  It gave my students another opportunity to identify adjectives and adverbs in sentences, yet it wasn't a "boring, old worksheet".  Plus, it makes a great fall wall display!  If you think you can use it with your students this year, please feel free to click on the photo and download it!
Check out this FREE Parts of Speech Craftivity!  Students identify whether the underlined word within each sentence is an adjective or an adverb, and then assemble the craftivity!

If you want to know more about the benefits of using craftivities in your classroom, check out either or both of the following blog posts:

Using Elements of Craftivities in Interactive Notebooks (this post contains another freebie!)