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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Children Can Get 2 Books/Year x 5 Years = 60 FREE Books!

We all know that getting kids to love reading and books at an early age is important.  Well, Dolly Parton has started an incredible foundation to help children worldwide get books into their hands.   Her foundation is called Imagination Library.
Dolly is giving each child who registers for the Imagination Library a FREE book EACH MONTH from birth to age 5.  12 books a year x 5 years = 60 FREE books!  
Click HERE to go to Dolly's Imagination Library webpage to sign up!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Challenge Your Students with Mastery Club! It's EASY and Fun!

The Scenario:  You're in the middle of a guided reading group.  You're on a roll, students are with you.  Your group is focused.  Suddenly you feel a tap on your shoulder and one of your sweet students says, "I'm finished.  What do I do now?"  Argh, just what you don't want to hear!

You want to find a fast finisher activity that students understand and can do independently without needing you and you don't have tons of time week after week to prepare all of the fast finisher activities.

If this is something you don't want to deal, make your life easier by using Mastery Club!  It's easy to set up, and once you do, you can use it year after year with no additional prep!

In my fourth grade classroom, my goal was to help students become independent learners.  I leaned early on in my career that giving by students choices, I get more in return; sometimes WAY more than I expected.  I always want students to know what to do when they were finished.  Enter the idea of Mastery Club.
You want to challenge your students to learn new things and you're tired of students saying, "I'm finished.  Now what do I do?" or worse yet, "I'm bored."  Oh boy!  Those are NOT the words you NEVER want to hear!  

Mastery Club consists of a list of challenges to learn something new.  There are 86 challenge questions broken down into five main topic areas:  Social Studies, Science and Health, Language Arts and Linguistics, Math, and a Miscellaneous category.  Students use my website, Mrs. Renz.net, to access the links to research each challenge, or they can do research on their own.  Of course, books and other resources can be used for conducting research.  That's how we did it in the old days!  😉 When a student is ready to take the test, s/he simply goes to the storage crate, finds the corresponding answer recording sheet, sits at a special table that you designate and takes the test.  When s/he is finished, they turn it into a special Mastery Club turn in spot.  That's it!  You (or a parent volunteer) use the answer keys or web links to check the answers and if the student got 100%, the challenge was passed and the student officially became a "1 star" member of Mastery Club.  Easy!

Excuse this (really old) photo of the Mastery Club challenge question area.  
It's all about choice!  Students love choices and you will love it even more because students learn about what interests them.  You're not telling them what to do.  Students choose the topics that interest them and learn about the topics in the order they choose.  If you give choices to students, when you need students them to do what you ask, they won't mind because it's been a give and take and this time it's your turn.   
The plastic crate (in the photo below) shows the file folders that holds the student recording worksheets and a binder that keeps the answer keys.   In the set I made for TpT, there are even file folder labels to simply print and attach to the folders.  Set up is easy! 
Once a student has earned at least one challenge, s/he becomes a "1-Star Member."  Teachers simply record the challenge number earned on the grade book sheet included in the set.
Students keep earning and try to do as many challenges as they can before the end of the school  year. You can choose a date for the challenge to end so it allows you time to get the certificates ready.  If you're really lucky, you can maybe ask a parent volunteer to copy and paste the challenges onto the certificate for each student. It makes the certificates that much more special to be personalized.
I can't say enough about how much my fourth, fifth, and sixth graders loved this program!  Many times a student would come back to say hi and would go right to the Wall of Fame to see where their name was in relation to the new names that were added.  Awesome!

Don't let students say they're bored in your classroom!  What do you do for your fast finishers?
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