Wednesday, April 29, 2015

get ready to write...

When I was in first grade I usually got involved with one big problem: Children don´t know how to grab a pencil!!!
To deal with this problem I had tried different strategies (a compile of them is often recommended) and I used one that brought me lot of satisfaction. 
This "booklet" prepared for the students try to make an effort on focusing in aspects like grabbing the pencil, direction of letters (pre-writing), pressure needed when writing...

I didn’t want to do just a worksheet for the students to do by themselves. I want them to know how to grab a pencil, how hard they have to press when writing and how they have to complete each line.
When I use these activities I always use a tambourine but you can also clap to show them when they have to do a line. Why? You must ask yourselves… Because as I told you this product has been made to teach them how to write.
I have seen a lot of first graders grabbing a pen in a wrong way and I think it is essential to show and practice how they should do it.
To get started I show them this picture and I explain how they have to grab the pen and how we are going to work on the book.

When I check that everyone grabs the pencil correctly I start knocking on the tambourine. Each bang is a line. When it gets complicated I bang the tambourine each time the line changes the direction. 

When all of us have finished doing the page in pencil they can complete the page tracing all the lines again with colored pencils. Children love it!
If you like the idea go and download the preview at:

I’m sure you’ll like it!

Saturday, April 11, 2015


On April 23rd we celebrate The World Book Day.
The connection between 23 April and books was first made in 1923 by booksellers in Spain as a way to honor the author Miguel de Cervantes, who died on this date. In 1995 UNESCO decided that the World Book and Copyright Day would be celebrated on 23 April, as the date is also the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, as well as that of the birth or death of several other prominent authors.
In case you want to buy some books in Spanish these are the 10 (I had to do 12!) top series and books for children between 7 and 12 years old in Spain:

1. "Aventuras en..."
Enid Mary Blyton (11 August 1897 – 28 November 1968) was an English children's writer whose books have been among the world's best-sellers since the 1930s, selling more than 600 million copies. Blyton's books are still enormously popular, and have been translated into almost 90 languages.
She is also the author of another well know series: The Famous Five. The stories always take place in the children's school holidays after they have returned from their respective boarding schools

The Adventure Series is a series of eight children's novels. These books feature the same child characters: Philip, Jack, Dinah, and Lucy-Ann, along with several adult characters. Jack's pet parrot, Kiki, is also a standard feature in each novel.
The stories show the four children off on their own, discovering and solving mysteries without much adult assistance. Although the publication dates span a decade, Blyton reportedly wrote each of the novels in less than a week.

 2. Ana Tarambana (Clarice Bean)
Her writer, Lauren Child, is best known for the Charlie and Lola (Juan y Tolola in Spain) picture books and the Clarice Bean (Ana Tarambana) series of picture books and novels.  
The main character is Clarice Bean and the stories feature her challenges navigating the complex ethical and social questions children deal with at school and at home.

3. Los tres invetigadores
Robert A. Arthur was a mystery and speculative fiction writer known for The Mysterious Traveler radio series and his Three Investigators series of novels. The characters known as the "three investigators" are three boys named Jupiter Jones, Peter Crenshaw and Bob Andrews.
Most of the mysteries involved investigation of baffling phenomena (e.g. an ancient Egyptian mummy that apparently whispered and a human skull that seemed to talk).
The investigators were typically introduced to a mystery by a client or by finding something unusual accidentally in the scrapyard of Jupiter's Uncle Titus Jones and Aunt Mathilda, who had a salvage business. The boys encountered baffling, sometimes misleading clues and danger before finally solving the mystery.

4. Geronimo Stilton

Although the series credits its title character as the author, the idea was originally thought of by Elisabetta Dami. In the series, the title character is a talking mouse who lives in New Mouse City on Mouse Island. A best-selling author, Geronimo Stilton works as a journalist and editor for the fictional newspaper The Rodent's Gazette. Geronimo is a nervous, mild-mannered mouse who would like nothing better than to live a quiet life, but he keeps getting involved in far-away adventures. We can find different sizes of this stories thought for younger or older children.

5. Tea Stilton
Geronimo's younger sister. The resolute, fearless and fascinating Tea Stilton is sent as a special Eco of the rodent journalist, the famous newspaper that his brother, Geronimo Stilton directs. In her books, Tea tells the friendship and the adventures of a group of five young researchers: Tea Club! Also found in two different sizes.

6. Bat Pat
Roberto Pavanello's series. The chilling adventures of Bat Pat make children go crazy, especially from 7 to 11 years of age. There are many readers who know the books of Pat Bat, bat, detective and writer, unusual tenant of the loft of the family Silver. This cute bat has three allies, the children of the family: nerd Martin, Leo glutton, and Rebecca, the animal lover. Two sizes too.

7. Los Futbolísimos
Series of realistic novels written in humorous tone - with soccer as argument - about mysteries, friendship and first love. -Written by the author and filmmaker Roberto Santiago, it is aimed at readers from 8 years.

8. Gol
Author: Luigi Garlando. The adventures of eight children who share a passion: soccer! Under the orders of a rather peculiar mister, Mr Gaston Champignon, eight children have formed an unusual football team. "Cebolletas" are called and they expected a season full of big emotions. Reading recommended between 9 and 14 years.

9. La Abuela Gánster (Gangsta Granny)
David Walliam's debut novel was The Boy in the Dress, illustrated by Quentin Blake. The story recounts a neglected 12-year-old boy called Dennis' search for a female role model, his friendship with the popular girl in school, and the ways in which relationships develop along gender lines. After it it came Mr Stink, again illustrated by Quentin Blake, about a 12-year-old girl who meets a tramp and helps look after him. She keeps him hidden from her family. The book consists of 26 illustrated chapters full of jokes. It is aimed at teenagers and children over 9. He published his third book Billionaire Boy, illustrated by Tony Ross, telling the story of Joe Spud, the richest 12-year-old in the country. Joe's father is a famous inventor, and his wealth means that Joe has everything he could ever want: his own bowling alley, movie theater, and a trained orangutan who serves as his butler, but there is just one thing he really needs: a friend. Walliams' fourth book, Gangsta Granny was again illustrated by Tony Ross. It tells the story of Ben who is bored every time he is made to stay at his grandma's house as all she wants to do is to play board games and eat cabbage soup. Ben learns that she was once an international jewel thief and all her life she has wanted to steal the crown jewels. Ben is determined that they do it together. It won a Red House Children's Book Award and was adapted to be a 70-minute film for BBC One. His fifth children's book, Ratburger, telling the story of a young girl named Zoe whose life is a misery as she has an evil stepmother was followed by his sixth, Demon Dentist,  relating the tale of a young boy named Alfie with no family except his dad whose world goes upside-down when a new dentist arrives in town. His seventh children's book, Awful Auntie, tells us the story of a girl named Stella whose Auntie has moved in to her house with her pet.

 10. Diario de Greg (Diary of a Wimpy Kid)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a satirical realistic fiction novel by Jeff Kinney. It is the first book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. The book is about a boy named Greg Heffley and his struggles in middle school.

11. Diario de Nikki (Dork Diaries)

Dork Diaries is a humorous book series written and illustrated by Rachel Renee Russell.
These books are the personal diary of 14-year-old Nikki Maxwell. They feature drawings, doodles and comic strips that chronicle the daily drama of her life in (and outside of) middle school.

12. Nate "El Grande" (Big Nate)
In 1989, Lincoln Peirce created a comic strip named Neighborhood Comix, which revolved a cast of ensemble characters, most of them children. Among the cast was a boy named Nate and his younger brother Marty, who would later serve as the inspiration for the creation of Nate Wright, a future character. An editor of Pierce later sent him a letter, telling him that there were too many characters in Neighborhood Comix, and that he should make one of the characters the protagonist and the focus of the strip. To this, Peirce renamed Marty "Nate", and gave the character Marty's personality. He then changed the strip itself to "Big Nate", based on a nickname he gave his older brother as a kid. Big Nate debuted on newspapers on 1991, and then revolved around the eccentric life of a sixth-grader named Nate Wright, and his family, friends, schoolmates and teachers. Though initially meant to center on Nate's family, the strip eventually began to center on Nate, his friends, classmates, teachers, and middle school
I'm sure you'll find one for you... Let me know if you have a favourite one that I didn't write about.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Graphic organizers

I have been reading a great article about graphic organizers, thinking maps, semantic maps, webs... They have different names and we find them extremely useful and a great help not only when you have to study but when you have to provide a framework for the topic concept to be learned or to organize newly acquired information.

I want to share one book: "The Power of Retelling: Developmental Steps for Building Comprehension" where Carrice Cummins and Vicki Benson emphasize how the students learn to use organizers as a way to prioritize and organize their thinking. The process facilitates the activation of existing schema and helps students chart new knowledge.

Another very helpful information, if you want to deepen in them, are the applications and tools that we can find in internet. The most widely known programs are:
1. Inspiration
2. Popplet
3. Idea Flip
4. iBrainstorm
5. Creately

You can find tens of examples and choose the one you like most in
6. Cooltoolsforschools  or
7. Techtoolkit

I also found some pages where you can download prepared material if you just go easy or in a hurry...
8. Eduplace (in English) or Eduplace (in Spanish)
9. You can find also printable diagrams in Enchantedlearning
10. Teachervision 

In The Power of Retelling: Developmental Steps for Building Comprehension, Carrice Cummins and Vicki Benson emphasized how students learn to use graphic organizers as a way to prioritize and organize their thinking. This process then facilitates the activation of existing schema and helps students chart new knowledge. As a result, students are engaged in a continuous process of establishing cognitive categories, or schema, as they work with the graphic organizers.
In this age of accessible digital resources, there are a variety of easy graphic organizer applications to support our students’ thinking.  Students can use these tools to create graphic organizers to facilitate brainstorming ideas, create outlines, illustrate topics or concepts, and plan presentations. Many applications are either cloud-based or available for download to your iPad, iPhone, or Android, making the apps readily accessible to students.
Inspiration is probably the most widely known program in terms of graphic organizers used in educational settings. Inspiration has also shown that it can grow with the digital age and the basic version can be downloaded as a free application available for the iPad. Features include adaptable templates or templates built from scratch as well as a variety of fonts, colors, styles, shapes, and graphics.  One especially neat feature is that students can add audio to different elements of the graphic organizer they create.  The graphic organizer can be shared through iCloud or emailed. 
Popplet is a cloud-based application designed to make textual and visual experiences available to users. Students can draw or add pictures to illustrate, and they can include lines to show relationships between each element. Once students are done creating, they can save the Popplet to their account, or they can export as jpeg or PDF. Students can either use Popplet through the cloud or download to their iPhone or iPad. 
Idea Sketch enables students to create a graphic organizer with the additional capability of switching back and forth from visual view for your more spatial learners to outline view for your more linear learners. Students can insert pictures, change text size, add connecting lines, and use the color feature to show relationships between key thoughts or ideas.
A fourth tool, iBrainstorm, facilitates students’ ability to capture and share information.  As sticky notes are added, then each note can be dragged to change the hierarchy or order, colors can be assigned to indicate relationships, and the freeform drawing tool can be used to add lines or arrows indicating relationships. This application can also be shared between devices.
- See more at:
  • epresent students’ background knowledge about a topic,
  • provide a framework for the topic concepts to be learned,
  • deepen analysis of the topic, and/or
  • organize newly acquired information about the topic
  • - See more at:
  • epresent students’ background knowledge about a topic,
  • provide a framework for the topic concepts to be learned,
  • deepen analysis of the topic, and/or
  • organize newly acquired information about the topic
  • - See more at: