Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Story Retelling or Sequencing Activities

As a thank you to my more than 300 followers, I wanted to share with you some quick retelling story or sequencing ideas.  I know many of you have my Sandwich Writing Activity packet (either the free one, or the one with the black line pages as well).  I use that to increase paragraph skills, and gradually elaborate on responses until the students can write a 5 paragraph essay.  I also use this to help sequence stories or elicit details and main idea of a story that they read or heard.  They write down the sequence of events, one on each sandwich ingredient.  Then they can staple the sandwich together to make a book.  Again, i start out with one sentence on each ingredient, hoping the students remember the introduction, main idea, three details, and conclusion of the story.  You can also have the students list characters, setting, and other story elements, if that is your focus.  As the students understand the concept and improve their ability to sequence one sentence on each ingredient, I have them elaborate more on the details and the content of the story.  They can then use these to improve their ability to retell the story. 

The second activity I have used is making a bracelet with the students.  You can call it either a sequencing bracelet, or a retelling bracelet.  The bracelet is made from a pipe cleaner, pony beads or dyed macaroni.  I use a green bead for the introduction, and have the students choose their own colors for the main idea and add at least three more for the details of the story.  The final bead is the conclusion, which is red.  

Finally, I have used paper chains to assist in sequencing and retelling of a story.  Using the same concept as the bracelet, I have a green link for the introduction, and a red link for the conclusion.  The students can choose the other colors.

I put up an example of what I do with the paper chains for free on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I hope you can use these ideas and the TpT activity.  The example uses The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, one of my favorite children's books!

Here is the link to the activity:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Sweets for the Sweet!

I don't like to give out candy as a reward most of the time, but I just can't help it in February.  Throughout the school year, I address different types of interactions, how to begin a conversation, turn-taking, body language and other pragmatic language skills.  I started to realize that the flow of conversations was still not always typical.  Pre-programmed questions were being asked, answers were given, another topic was asked, and so on.  Yes, it worked, but, to my ears, it still did not sound typical.  One thing struck me as missing from all of my groups, whether they were elementary, middle or high school students -- compliments.  My students learned to thank people when given a compliment, but none of them ever gave a compliment.

I decided that was a goal I needed to address.  First, I took a jar and wrote COMPLIMENTS on it, then I put marbles in a bag next to the jar.  When each group of students came in, i explained that a marble would be placed in the jar each time a compliment was given by a student.  When the jar was filled, we would have a party.  We discussed what a compliment was and practiced the four different types of compliments: 
1.  Appearance (The color of your shirt really shows off your eyes)
2.  Character (kindness, responsibility, etc.)
3.  Behavior (recognizing someone for a job well done)
4.  Possession (I love your necklace!).

Here are two activities I used, one for elementary students, and one for older students.

1.  Bean Bag Compliments: 

As students toss a bean bag, they toss a compliment.  Seat students in a circle or around a table with some room.  Explain that the student holding the beanbag will choose a peer, give a compliment, and then throw the bean bag to that person.  Pass the bean bag repeatedly, ensuring that all students are included several times.

2.  Candy Compliments:  

Candy and compliments are given in this game.  You will need index cards and pieces of individually wrapped candy.  Write the names of your students on the index cards, attach a piece of candy to it, and mix up the cards.  Each student should have three cards, adjust the numbers accordingly if you have groups that are smaller).

When students arrive, each student should be given three cards.  Students should look at the names on the cards and write one compliment on each card.  Students should be encouraged to be creative, selecting compliments specific to the person they are writing about.

Once the cards have been filled out, students can hand out their cards to each person.  Allow students to read the compliments they have received out loud while the enjoy their candy.

My students were so motivated, we filled up that jar quickly.  They stopped fighting over silly things, and smiled more.  They were being nicer, and sounding more typical when having conversations.  The jar comes out often, especially if I stop hearing those sweet compliments.