Monthly Archives: September 2014

Reading Salad: A Hands-On Reading Demonstration

This is an amazing reading lesson that helps our students learn to think while they are reading. It makes the entire process visual as well.

To teach this lesson, you will need three bowls. Have a large empty salad bowl and label it “Real Reading Salad,” and then two smaller bowls labelled “Thinking” and “Text.”

Fill the “Text” bowl with red cards and the “Thinking” bowl with green cards.

Reading Salad

Start out by addressing the class,

“Kids are very good at pretending. Let’s pretend together that you are the teacher and I am the student. All of you teachers are going to listen as I read. Put on your teacher faces. . . Judging from your faces, you’ve noticed that teachers are very serious about reading. Ok teachers, concentrate now and listen as I read. I’m going to ask you to evaluate me as a reader.

I got this book from a publisher who wanted me to review it on my blog. It is a long book with no pictures and has some difficult words. It is a challenging text, but I’ll do my best as I read the first paragraph for you. Read it with good expression and at an appropriate rate. Ask the “teachers” to turn and talk about my reading. “You’ll give me my report card in a few moments.”

Then explain how back when you were in grade 3 that you could read quite well. But that you sometimes faked the teacher out. Tell them that you weren’t thinking. That you were just reading like a robot. It sounded good but thinking was missing.

“You can’t always tell just from listening to someone read. Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you ever done any robot or fake reading? Turn and talk.”

“Sometimes I read the words but I don’t know what I just read. This happens to me still at night before bed if I am really tired.

I just modeled fake reading, now I want to model real reading. Real reading is like a tossed salad. Have you noticed the three bowls sitting here? We are going to use these object to help us understand more about real reading. Notice the bowls are labeled. The large bowl is labeled “real reading salad” and the small bowls are “text” and “thinking” Just like a salad might be a mixture of lettuce and tomatoes, reading salad is a mixture of text and thinking. In the text bowl, there are red cards that say “text,” they are like the tomatoes. In the thinking bowl there are green cards that say “thinking,” they are like the lettuce. With your help, we will make reading salad while enjoying a great book.

To show you real reading, I am going to do something that might look a bit funny. I will point to the text when I am reading it and point to my head when I am thinking. That way you can see the difference. At the same time, we will be making salad.

Dont laugh at me

Pick two students to help. Point to the text and read the title, “Don’t Look at Me.” – text helper drops a card in the large bowl. Point to your head, “I am thinking this book is going to be about kids who make fun of other kids. I hate when that happens.” – thinking helper drops a card in the large bowl. Keep going this way as you read the picture book.

Read the book a second time but this time, stop as ask the students what they are thinking periodically and make a new salad. This time we will probably notice more green than red cars. That is how it supposed to be. There should be more thinking than text. Now we have been doing some real reading and we have been thinking about our thinking. There’s a name for that “metacognition” – add it to the word wall

Reading Salad final

Isn’t that a great visual to teach thinking while reading?

If you loved that, you should read Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading by Tanny McGreggor. It is an amazing book and a must have for anyone who teaches reading.

Comprehension Connections

Teaching Tip Tuesday – your place for great classroom ideas every week!

Bullseye: Greatest Hits

bullseye greatest hits

Bullseye: Greatest Hits

This is a one-off story that attempts to tell the origin of one of the most dangerous villains in comics. This graphic novel collects the entire run of the five issues mini-series.

First off, the title is a bit of a misnomer. This wasn’t a greatest hits compilation. It didn’t retell any of his victories or legendary battles.

Instead, we see him being held in a top-secret and super-secure facility. A negotiating team goes in to talk to him about the whereabouts of a nuclear bomb that he had stolen just prior to being apprehended.

Bullseye acts as though he is exactly where he wants to be, and that he, in fact, has the upper hand, despite being locked down in a seemingly inescapable prison.

Of course, with Bullseye things are never quite what they seem.

This was a nice read and a good companion to my favourite superhero, Daredevil.

My List of 2014 Reads – a detailed reading log of all the titles I’ve read this year

The Hulk is Indestructible


Indestructible Hulk: Volume 1 – Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Bruce Banner has been fighting the monster within ever since the Gamma Bomb turned him into the Incredible Hulk. The meek scientist has been looking for a cure for years. He hates the damage that The Hulk causes every single time he is unleashed.

Banner realizes that The Hulk is indestructable and has come up with a plan that he can live with. He joins S.H.I.E.L.D. so he can be a weapon whenever he hulks out. They simple have to point him in the right direction so he can battle evil forces. In return, he gets a lab and a team of scientists to work on things to benefit humanity.

The new slogan: Hulk  Smashes, Banner Builds!

It seems like a perfect solution.

Indestructible Hulk 2

Indestructible Hulk: Volume 2 – Gods and Monster

This was a really fun graphic novel. The Hulk actually lifts Thor’s hammer, as if he wasn’t dangerous enough without it. There is a lot of comedy in this issue as well. I loved it!

This volume also features my favourite superhero, Daredevil.

Daredevil x Hulk

That was a pleasant surprise and made for a great read. Maybe it tied into the fact that both Daredevil and Thor were featured in the old Incredible Hulk television series. Why not have them both back in a graphic novel too?

Indestructible Hulk 3

Indestructible Hulk: Volume 3 – S.M.A.S.H Time

Time is broken and to make things worse, someone is messing with The Hulk’s past. Bruce Banner beams his consciousness into a robot probe so he can control The Hulk, the only being strong enough to travel through the time distortions and set things right.

The Hulk meets up with the knights of Camelot, dinosaurs in the Old West, and even pirates on the open sea. It’s another great adventure in this series that I am really enjoying.

Indestructible Hulk 4

Indestructible Hulk: Volume 4 – Humanity Bomb

There is a global threat that Bruce Banner thinks he can alleviate with his latest scientific creation. Before he can set his plan in motion, he hulks out and is running around town with a giant bomb.

Ant-Man and Iron-Man are worried what the monster will do and feel the need to stop him at all costs. But did Banner have the right idea all along? And could this bomb help counteract the Terrigen Mist that threatens humanity?

I have really enjoyed this series so far and look forward to reading more of this title.

My List of 2014 Reads – my reading log for the year with links to every single title I read

Hula Hoops on the First Day of School!

I like to start off the first day of school by pushing all of the desks to the side of the room and setting up enough hula hoops for each student in my class.

hula hoop first day

I have been doing this for years now and I find it is a great way to start off the day. I have traditionally had a pencil and paper activity for the students to do as soon as they come into the room. This year, I decided to throw away the interest inventory and get them creating something instead.

hoop close up

I found this activity on Pinterest and thought it was a great idea. I added the caveat that the students would be sharing their creations in a little show and tell.

Doh Be Shy

I love this play on words, “Doh Be Shy. Open it up and make something”

It’s a stress-free activity that lets the students build and rebuild until it’s time to share.

I managed to find a Mega-Pack of Play-Doh for a great price too. I have kept the mats so this can also a rainy day recess activity this year too. Well worth the investment of 32 cans of modelling clay.

DD play doh

I started off the sharing session by saying, “My name is Mr. March and I made a Daredevil because he is my favourite super-hero. His logo is two inter-locking D’s.”

Each student shared their creations and I learned something about them in the process.

Next, we talk about personal space and how every person in the school is entitled to it. “Your personal space is akin to you standing in a hoop and no one else breaking that perimeter.” It is a really nice visual that we can refer back to throughout the year.

Hoop Venn Diagrams

I then move the students into groups of three to create Venn DIagrams of things they have in common with each other and some things that are unique to each group member.

You can learn a lot as a teacher about the interests of your students from this activity as well.

I had a lot more planned for the first day of school. It is important to over-plan. You can download my full day plan here. Stay tuned to this blog every Tuesday for more great teaching ideas.

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive – 200 ideas and counting

Earth Afire – Ender’s Game Prequel


Earth Afire by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston

I had no idea that this book was part of a trilogy when I started reading it. I just thought it was a one-off prequel to Ender’s Game. I enjoyed the read but it seemed like it took a long time to get to the actual story I wanted to read.

I was already familiar with a bit of the story because I read the graphic novel Formic Wars: Burning Earth and I really enjoyed it.

As I got close to the end of this novel, however, I started to worry that the story wasn’t going to be resolved. Just when the it finally got to the point I’d wanted to read, the story ended abruptly.

I like my novels to have some sort of closure, even in a trilogy. This book didn’t do that for me.

Orson Scott Card is one of my favourite authors but I hate to admit that I really am not interested in reading the final book in this series. Instead, I want to finish reading the original Ender’s Game series. I am currently reading Children of the Mind.

I know that I am not painting this book in the greatest of light, but the original Ender’s Game and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, are absolutely amazing, fantastic books that I highly recommend.

My 2014 Reading Log – 40 titles and counting

The New Spider-Man, Miles Morales

I’d been wanting to read this title for some time now. I finally got around to it, thanks to the Marvel Unlimited Comics App on my iPhone. They had a one month special subscription price as a special comic-con deal that I just had to take them up on.

I read all of the graphic novels in this series, the original death of Peter Parker storyline in The Amazing Spider-Man, and all of The Superior Spider-Man titles as well. That was well worth with $1.99 subscription.

I’m thinking of buying a yearly subscription as well. It really is worth it to be able to read all of theses great comics anytime on my phone.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol 1

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume 1

Miles Morales becomes the new Spider-Man but his powers are a little bit different. He has a venom strike that shocks his enemies much like a tazer. He also has the ability to camouflage himself by blending into the background of his environment. The really surprising thing is that he doesn’t have the ability to shoot webs.

I like the fact that he has a Black father and a Hispanic mother. He also has his own identity and the story doesn’t feel like a retread of the original Spider-Man we all know and love.

Brian Michael Bendis did a great job of relaunching the iconic character for a new generation in the Ultimate Universe. It compelled me to read more immediately.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol 2

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume 2

Peter Parker’s Aunt May, Gwen Stacy, and Mary Jane Watson share with Miles their stories and give Miles the encouragement he needs to continue as Spider-Man. They also give him Peter Parker’s web-shooters. Spider-Man is back and swinging from webs once again. Seeing Miles learn how to use them was hilarious and uplifting. I loved it!

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol 3

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume 3

The new Spider-Man gets to join The Avengers, despite Captain America’s objections. Miles also finds out that his uncle isn’t exactly the man he thought he was. And even worse, he discovers that Miles is a super-hero and tries to use him to advance his own criminal career.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol 4

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume 4

Enter Venom and family tragedy. This was a story that had me on the edge of my seat.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Vol 5

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man Volume 5

This image is so iconic and I’m glad they used it in the new Spider-Man series. It makes sense for Miles to pack it all in. He takes a break for close to a year, but he truly is Spider-Man now and is needed. He gets some great encouragement and finally realizes his destiny as a crime-fighting superhero.

I really enjoyed this read. It was a great series that I would have loved to seen continue. But fortunately, I have this app on my phone and can start reading the other new Spider-Man title, The Superior Spider-Man.

My List of 2014 Reads – My Reading Log for the year

There’s Logic Behind How Our Numbers Look

Number Shapes Explained.jpg-large

This is a fascinating image showing a correlation between the number symbols we use every day and the number of angles in each shape. It’s brilliant!

I’m not sure about the historical accuracy of this image though. It seems like they really stretched the concept to make this work for 7 and 9. That, plus the original way these numbers were scribed looks nothing like the modern way we do it.

It would be interesting to see how the number system evolved over the years to our current state because it may have started this way.


Or maybe we could have our students create a new way of representing numbers. This could be a creative project to try out.

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive (over 200 great tips, tricks, and lessons to try)

John Lawson Trail

John Lawson Park

Let’s explore the John Lawson Park trail in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada.

Lawson Entrance

It starts out fairly nondescript but goes off into the woods for a short period. Unfortunately, my photos of that portion of the trail didn’t turn out.

Lawson Creek

I love running through natural areas and crossing small creeks or rivers.

Lawson trail

The trail opens up and comes to an end at small road.

Lawson Creek (2)

But it does run along this small creek.

This run was a little shorter than I had hoped. I ran it twice to get my 5 kilometers in.

I do love collecting trail runs though. You can see my entire collection here . . .

Photographic Tours Archive

Amazing Spider-Man: Dying Wish


The Amazing Spider-Man: Dying Wish by Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, and Richard Elson

Spider-Man swung into our lives in 1963 and immediately became an iconic hero. But all good stories must come to an end. This graphic novel tells the story of the final days of Peter Parker. It collects issues 698-700 of The Amazing Spider-Man.

Spoiler Alert

Doctor Octopus is on his death bed and has merely hours left to live. He manages to cheat death by switching bodies with Peter Parker.

Peter tries his best to beat his nemesis and reclaim his body. Unfortunately, he fails at this task. Yet, in his final moments in the broken body of  Doc Ock, Peter manages to show the doctor exactly why he is Spider-Man. He uses the memory switch to implant his own mission into  his nemesis.

Peter Parker dies in the body of Doctor Octopus. And no one knows that the actual living Spider-Man has been body-snatched with that of a villian.

The twist here is that Doctor Octopus truly buys into being Spider-Man and he tackles it with such vigor, rebranding himself, Superior Spider-Man.

The Amazing Spider-Man comes to a close but a new series, The Superior Spider-Man takes over.

Peter Parker is dead, but in comics, death is never permanent. Hopefully he will return one day. He is a great character.

My List of 2014 Reads – with links to every title I read over the course of the year.

List and the Interpret a Moment

Read a MomentThis is a great idea for a classroom activity.

It involves reading a moment by paying attention to our senses, listing everything that crosses our minds, and then interpreting that list.

Tina Welling explains it all in her book “Writing Wild”

“Readings of the moment are a playful interaction with the natural world, yet revealing, as is anything in life to which we give our attention.

By a reading, I mean a brief listing of the things that attract your attention in your environment. The reading can be done indoors, though prefer outdoors because of the vitality and constant change of the natural world. . .

A reading has two parts: the list and the interpretation. . .

For a moment, close your eyes, then open them and begin a quick list of everything that catches your attention. Include people and animal sightings, bird sounds, fleeting images, thoughts, feelings, colors, smells, body sensations, ideas, weather, Use all five senses to gather your data. Whatever occurs to you, jot down on your page and date it.

Now do a brief interpretation of this list. Respond in writing . . . and pursue any trains of though or emotion that particularly interest you.”

How to Use This for Your Class

I would first demonstrate the activity in the classroom by following the steps above. I would then working together with the class to create a list on the board. Next, I would use my experience to interpret a few of the points. Finally, I would ask a student or two to share some of their personal interpretations. Then we would be ready to go outside and try this individually.

Students could then share their lists and written interpretations if they were comfortable doing so. If not, I think I would just let them keep it in their personal writing (not-to-be-shared) books. These books are very important to have in the classroom. Not all of your writing needs to be shared.

More Teaching Tips?

Come back every week for “Teaching Tip Tuesdays” and don’t forget to check the archive for over 200 great tips, tricks, lessons, and ideas you can use in your own classroom.