Explore Like a Pirate: Chapter 5

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Hi everyone,

Welcome back to our book study on Explore Like a Pirate, by Michael Matera. Thanks to Rachael over at Sweet Sweet Primary for putting this book study together.

Today we are looking at Chapter 5: From the Helm: Getting to Know Your Crew. This chapter is all about the tools that will help us to create game inspired course design.

When designing game inspired courses, we have to determine what type of player your students are. According to Richard Bartle’s theory, there are four groups of gamer personalities: Achievers, Socializers, Explorers, and Killers (griefers). By knowing the type of gamer each of your students are, you can be sure to include something for all types of gamers.

I found the different types of personality fascinating. I can think of many of my students who fall into these personalities without giving the Richard Bartle test.

Achievers
Achievers are those students who want to earn points and show a level of mastery. In our classroom, Achievers are the kids who want to know they are doing well. They like to show off how they are doing and their position or advancement in the game. To motivate an Achiever, you can include daily quests and leader boards.

Socializers
Socializers play games because they enjoy interacting with others. In our classroom, often time the Socializers are our talkers. To engage Socializers while designing game inspired courses, we should think about making a team challenge that requires out of class networking. Socializers would also like the aspect of trading with others.

Explorers
Explores enjoy an open game where they can discover new areas on their own. According to Michael Matera, Explores move at their own pace and are not too concerned with mastery of the game. To motivate an Explorer, you can include locked areas or levels.

Killers(griefers)
Killers enjoy playing high action games and look to battle or beat something quickly. If the reward is worth it, Killers will take the risk. To motivate Killers, you can include collecting things or a protection aspect. Like protecting a person or a house.

Matera also talks about Jon Radoff’s four key components of game design. Aspects of his game design are: Immersion, Achievement, Cooperation, and Competition. By looking at the four categories, we can think of ways to deliver our course objectives.

Immersion
When thinking about immersion, we design a game course that allows the students to grow and explore. this is where the students become the heroes of their own stories.

Achievement
We want to give the students multiple times or opportunities to practice a skill. We have to be sure to make the work challenging but not too difficult where the kids want to give up. The more opportunities the kids have to reach a level of proficiency in the game, the more practice they get at a skill.

Cooperation
TEAMWORK! TEAMWORK! TEAMWORK!
Just like in anything, we want our students to work together. When developing game inspired courses, we need to make sure that we include ways for our kids to work together toward a common goal.

Competition
Competition is a great way to have students interact with each other and work together on a team.

Michael Matera uses The SAPS Model in his course design. This helps to include different motivating factors for all students. Some kids are motivated by status. This is where leaderboards, badges, and daily quests come into play. The students are given feedback on how they are doing and are motivated when others see how well they are doing. Another motivating factor is access. Students become more motivated and engaged when they have access to new material or things they didn’t have before, like being able to find secret areas. When designing game inspired courses, we also want to include power. You can give the students power by giving them choice. The last thing we want to think about when designing the coursework is what Michael Matera calls stuff. We want to include game related things, like a small sword or a power shield. We want to include “stuff” that is related to the game. This will keep the students instrinsically motivated.

I can’t wait to read what comes next. Join us next week for a look at Chapter 6.

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,
Rachel

Click on the picture below to go back to Sweet Sweet Primary’s blog and read about what others have to say about Chapter 5.

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Explore Like a Pirate: Chapter 4

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Hi everyone!

Today we are continuing to read “Explore Like a Pirate”, by Michael Matera. Thanks to Rachael at Sweet Sweet Primary for putting this book linky together for us.

Today we explore chapter 4: Ahoy Mate! A New Language of Learning.

How many times have you heard…Is this being graded? Does this count as a grade? I know I can’t be the only one! My second graders are always asking me those questions. According to Michael Matera, “Layering the game over my entire course encouraged collaboration and offered a ton of self-exploration. Learning was no longer about earning a grade; it was about discovery and growth.”

There are 10 words used to define and drive Purpose-Driven Learning.
Those 10 words are; confidence, creativity, enthusiasm, focus, resilience, initiative, curiosity, dependability, and empathy.

By using these 10 words repeatedly throughout class, comments, and report cards students understand the words and use them to describe their own learning.

Confidence
When students explore, they become more confident and become risk takers. Once a child is confident, they know how to begin and are willing to begin a task without asking, “But how do I start?”

Creativity
It is important to assign open ended questions so that students can be creative in their answers.

Enthusiasm
As educators, it is our job to create work that the students can be enthusiastic about. We also need to remind students that they need to be enthusiastic about all task, challenging or not.

Effort
Students need to be taught to also put forth 100% effort. Not only effort important in the classroom, but in all areas of life.

Focus
Focusing is extremely important. We all have trouble focusing at one time or another. Students need to be reminded to focus on the task at hand and to control his or her thoughts.

Resilience
It is o.k. to fail. We want to teach our students that we not only learn from our successes, but also from our failures. When we do fail, we have to keep on going and not give up. According to Michael Matera, once students know it is ok to fail and they are not being graded on the first or second attempt, their confidence grows and they learn the material or concepts. Resilience is about adapting and overcoming challenges, not just perseverance.

Initiative
Michael Matera talks about how by using games in the classroom, students develop the habit of initiative. They become better problem solvers and overcome obstacles and challenges.

Curiosity
The more curious our students are, the more they want to learn. The more they want to learn, the more passionate they become. The more passionate the students are, the better they learn the concepts or material.

Dependability
Students learn to depend on others and that others depend on them. Students come to class better prepared because they know that their teammates are counting on them.
This helps to promote a sense of community.

Empathy
We need to establish a safe environment where students can take risks. Students need to be taught how to listen to others and how to answer other’s questions. We need to set rules to develop respect of each other and each other’s opinions.

I can’t wait to share chapter 5 with you!

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,

Rachel

Explore Like a Pirate: Chapter 3

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Hi everyone!

Today we are continuing to read “Explore Like a Pirate”, by Michael Matera. Thanks to Rachael at Sweet Sweet Primary for putting this book linky together for us.

Today we explore chapter 3: New World, Old World.

I love how Michael Matera begins this chapter.
He states, “As an educational explorer, you have creative confidence to forge out into the unknown. Trust in the process, and believe in yourself.”
This first sentence of chapter 3 really made me think. I think one reason that so many teachers do not try new strategies or playing games because there is the fear of the unknown. I know I have definitely been there? Have you?
There have been times when I wanted to to try something new and I stopped, unsure and not believing in myself or that something would work. Michael Matera is absolutely correct when he says that we have to “trust in the process, and believe in yourself.” Without those two things, we can not begin to gamify the classroom and bring our teaching into the New World!

According to Michael Matera, using gamification in the classroom will bring us from the Old World of teaching into the New World of teaching. Instead of controlling, we have have freedom and flexibility. Instead of producing followers, we will produce risk takers. Instead of a plotted path, there will be a sense of exploration and discovery. In the place of quiet compliance, there will be creative confidence. In the Old World, there was an automations of knowledge but in the New World we have independent artistic thinkers. We will also create heroes and a sense of wanderlust, spirit, and passion. These are all ways that every teacher wants to connect and inspire their students. I AM SOLD! ๐Ÿ™‚

Another line that stood out for me was, “We are not teaching standards, we are teaching students-children who have passions, questions, and the drive to make a difference.” Too often, teaching the standards are thought of first. How can I teach the standards? What standard does this lesson teach? We have to remember that we are teaching students first. By gamifying the classroom, students become self motivated and overcome challenges. The children are invested in their learning. What teacher does not want his or her children to be self-motivated and invested in their learning?

As I continued reading chapter 3, I realized how once the children are familiar with the game setting or levels, it is easy to make a change. Often times we learn something new in at a conference, a meeting, or at staff development and we don’t implement it right away. We say, “I’ll wait for next semester, or next year.” Once our classroom is gamified, we don’t have to wait to make a change or to introduce something new that we learned. We can do use that strategy or new material the very next day! YES! I don’t know about you…but I know I am definitely guilty of not implementing something new until the next year. Do you do the same?

I love Michael Matera’s example of his scavenger hunt while studying Egypt. I never really thought of doing a scavenger hunt. I’m already thinking about how to incorporate a scavenger hunt with my kiddos. Have I mentioned that I am STILL in school. I have 5 days left. This might be a perfect time to try something new!

Any thoughts on how I can incorporate a scavenger hunt maybe in geometry with my 2nd graders? Maybe a shape is missing to construct a building and I can have riddles for the students to follow… HMMMM.

I can’t wait to share chapter 4 with you!

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,

Rachel

Click below to go back to read what others have to say about chapter 3.
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Explore Like a Pirate: Chapter 2

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Hi everyone!

Today we are continuing to read “Explore Like a Pirate”, by Michael Matera. Thanks to Rachael at Sweet Sweet Primary for putting this book linky together for us.

Today we explore chapter 2: Tall Tales: Dispelling the Myths of Gamification.

According to Michael Matera, before we can begin gamification in our classrooms, we must first dispel the myths. This will ensure that teachers, students, parents, and administration have a positive experience with gamification.

Myth 1: Games are just for play. There is no challenge or educational rigor.
-Michael Matera writes about how by playing games, students learn from their mistakes, practice short and long term planning , and develop informational literacy skills. It is our job to create games that are engaging and rigorous. When sitting down to create games, we must consider the 3 Cs (content, choice, and challenge.) We want to think outside the box when planning and creating games for our students. First, we must think of the content that is being taught or that needs to be taught. Choice is the open-ended game model that students love. We need to challenge the students, just like the twists and turns in video games.

Myth 2: If I give them a badge or points, my class will be gamified.
Many times, teachers play games in the classroom where the students earn points or badges as they play. We think that this is enough, my students are playing games and having fun. I have also been guilty of this. Giving points or badges is simply not enough. When planning a game, there must be a purpose, goals, micr-goals, risks, challenges, and of course socialization.

Myth 3:It’s easy for you. It won’t work for me because I teach ______________.
Let’s be honest. I hear this statement all of the time. This statement can be heard in all schools and for any topic. Whenever something new is introduced or admin wants teachers to implement a strategy, I hear teachers say, “It won’t work for me because…” Often times, frustration or being overwhelmed leads to this statement. Sometimes it is the simple fact of a teacher not having the appropriate training.
According to Michael Matera, saying that it won’t work for you because of a grade or subject you teach is untrue. Teachers should be asking themselves how to connect to their students, not can I connect to my students.

Myth 4: You need to be a gamer to gamify your class.
According to Michael Matera, you do not need to be a gamer to gamify your class. He says you should download some apps and start playing them. As you play the games, keep a notepad handy so you can write down the structure, goals, and challenges.

Myth 5: Students should want to learn; I shouldn’t have to dress it up!
I have heard many people say “Students should want to learn.” I have heard this said by teachers, parents, and by administrations. I’ve heard counselors and psychologists say that children should want to learn and shouldn’t need to be extrinsically motivated. Don’t we all wish that we had a full class of students who were instrinsically motivated. That all students showed up to school everyday ready to learn and wanting to learn. My son, who is 10 hates school. He constantly asks, “Can I stay home from school?” He hates school and completing work, but is reading on an 11th grade level. I wish that some of his teachers had read this book and at least attempted to gamifiy their classroom. I’m sure he would have been engaged and it would have made a big difference in his attitude towards school.

Myth 6: Gamification is just playing games…
Gamification is not just playing board games. When planning, you take the game elements like challenges and goals and layer them over your content and standards being taught.

Myth 7: Girls don’t game.
I don’t even think I need to address this myth. Many of my girls play video games and many adult women I know also play video games. Maybe if I played more video games I would be more relaxed, like my husband. ๐Ÿ™‚

Myth 8: My classroom doesn’t have enough technology to make this work.
I love how the author explains how you do not really need technology to gamify your classroom. Gaming is a lot of socialization, which is tech free and costs nothing. He mentions that you can have a bulletin board dedicated to the game.

Myth 9: Games in the classroom are too much about competition.
I agree with the author when he states that a little healthy competition is good. Children learn to work together and work towards a purpose or to achieve their goal. I think part of the problem with society now is “Everyone is a winner” mentality. Children feel that they should be given something for everything they do. They should automatically get a ribbon or an award just for participating. Schools don’t want a child to feel bad because they did not win. As a result, we have children who do not know how to cope with failure.

I can’t wait to share chapter 3 with you!

Click on the picture below to go back to Sweet Sweet Primary’s blog and read what others have to say.
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Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,

Rachel

Explore Like A Pirate: Chapter 1

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Hi everyone!

Today I am really excited to be part of a new book study. We just started to read “Explore Like a Pirate”, by Michael Matera.

Today we explore chapter 1: The Call of the Explorer: Discover the Adventure that Awaits.

I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for new ways to engage my kids. I already have my students do tons of projects, partner work, group work, and play some games. But I started to think ask the question, “What more can I do?”

I have been teaching for 18 years in a New York City Public School. Over the years, I have seen curriculums, teaching methods, and whatever happened to be the fad at the time come and go. It really is heart breaking to look at your kids and see that glazed look in their eyes. That look that tells you… I am not paying any attention to you. One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is student engagement. The trick is finding what will engage your students. What worked well last year might not work this year.

This is why I turned to the book, “Explore Like a Pirate”. I am ready to really sit down and reflect on how I can better engage my students and still show my administration that the work happening in my class is “rigorous” (by the way, I really hate the word rigorous. Any time someone asks admin what it means, they can’t even give an answer.)

In chapter 1, Michael Matera speaks about how gamification is possible because all you need is creativity. We don’t have to worry about buying extra material or spending money out of our own pockets. YES! We can take our curriculum and the content we already teach and just an add extra layer to the top.

I have to be honest, I am a bit worried about the creativity part for myself and the students. I think the current education system has really stomped out any creativity. I find when I am planning lessons, I really have to sit down and think about being creative. My students…they are a totally different problem. There is very little play and creativity in our education system. Just look at our poor kindergarden students who really don’t get to play anymore. By the time they reach me in 2nd grade, the joy of learning is already on it’s way out of the door. When I tell my kids to use their imagination or be creative, they really struggle. They want to be told what to do. This is one reason that I picked up this book. I need to become more creative and engaged and so do my students.

My mind is already in a whirlwind and I have only read the first chapter. I am already thinking about how I can use gamification in my classroom in September. I am glad that I have the entire summer to read this book and reflect on my own teaching and engaging my students. I can’t wait to discuss the next chapter with you next Tuesday.

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,

Rachel

Check out what others are saying about Chapter 1 by clicking the picture below!

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Math Investigations Part II

So today was Day 2 of my math investigations. As soon as we got into class, the kids ask, “When are we doing math?” They get so excited over working together and creating a poster to show their work.

Day 2
Teaching Point: Mathematicians will do a gallery walk to observe other students investigations and then make revisions to their own investigation.
Time: 75 minutes

Now it is time for the students to have their gallery walk. We put the posters on desks and the students get to walk around the room to look at the math posters. I try to put the same amount of posters on each table so that students can just switch tables once or twice. I have tired the gallery walk other ways but, it can get very chaotic. (You can put the posters where ever you want. If you have the wall space, hanging the posters up works really well.)

The students walk around the classroom with their partner, a pencil and post-its. I give the students as many post-its as posters they will view. So today my kids viewed 4 math posters so they were given 4 post-its.

Now comes the hard part. This takes a lot of practice! They discuss what they noticed, what they liked or what they didn’t understand. My students discuss the math on the poster and talk about glows (what they did well) and grows (what they need to work on.) The partnership has to come to an agreement on what they will write on the post-it. Each partnership can only place one post-it with comments on each math poster they discuss. Are the comments all great? No. But it’s a work in progress.
I have really noticed a difference in my kids math talk. They are using words like strategy!

Here is one of the comments that a partnership wrote:
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As the kids are discussing the posters, I try to coach them on the type of comments and questions the students write on the post it.

Next the students go back to their investigation and read the comments left by their classmates. Kids will run up to you with comments they feel are wrong, but you have to do mini lessons on how to write comments and give good feedback.

After reading the comments, the students use a different color to revise their work. This will be MESSY!! But you can see a lot of learning going on.
Here are some of the revised math investigations
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Day 3 will be on Monday. This part is called the math congress and it is basically a big share. You choose about 3 posters that show something you want to highlight to the class. It could be a strategy used, organization, or how the poster was labeled. You highlight something that you want the rest of the class to pay attention to. Often times, I will choose a poster with a wrong answer and highlight the organization or the math vocabulary that was used. This way the students know that even though it’s important to get the right answer, other parts of problem solving are also important. This also gives the struggling students the chance to be highlighted.
The students come up and explain the part you thought was great.

If you want to see the rubric I use or the conference sheet I use, look back at Part I.

Have you done this in your class? Is this something you might like to try? Leave a comment to let me know what you think.

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,
Rachel

Math Investigations

Hi everyone,

I have 22 days of school left…YES 22! I am so jealous of everyone who is co close to their well deserved summer vacation.

At this time the kids are all starting to go a little crazy. Let’s not forget sitting in the classroom in almost 90 degree weather with no air conditioning! This is the time to do some great partner or group work.

I love math and so do my kids. I wasn’t always a math person. I used to be a reading/ writing person. I even have my Masters with a certification in reading. But somewhere along the way, things changed (Thanks Gael!)

One thing I love doing with my kids throughout the year is Math Exlemplars or as I call them, Math Investigations. Have you done this with your kids? The minute I say we are doing a math investigation, the cheers start. Math investigations work really well at the end of the year also. This is the time of the year when you really get to see the skills and concepts that your students have mastered.

Reflecting back, I should have chosen a more challenging problem for my class to solve. So next week I know to bump it up.

To start, you introduce a challenging word problem to the kids.
Emersion Work:
Time: 10-15 minutes (sometimes a bit more)
-Read the Math Investigation to the class
-Review problem
-What do we know from the problem?
-What do we want to know? What is it asking us to find?
-What do the following words meanโ€ฆ
-How does this problem relate to the math topics we have been leaning about the unit?
-Students try to solve the problem on their own for 10 minutes. (I usually give a little more time.)

Sometimes I am so surprised over the words the kids are unsure about. The words from today’s problem were poked and bulb.
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After the students solve the problem independently, you pair the kids up by like strategies. They don’t necessarily have to have the same answer, but they should have the same method or strategy.

Day 1:
Teaching Point: Mathematicians will solve a math investigation by discussing and working out strategies with a partner or group.
Time: 75 minutes (or however long you have. :))
-After the students are paired up by strategies, review the problem again.
-Students work out the problem together. This promotes the Mathematical Practices. It is great to walk around the room and hear the kids arguing over whose answer is right and why.
I give the partnership one piece of paper so they can work the problem out together.
I also give each partnership a rubric to refer to while working on the problem.
Once the students feel they are finished, they create a math poster showing how they solved the problem
-As the students are working, I walk around the room and ask guided questions: Why are you using this strategy? Does this make sense? What in this problem told you to…? and similar questions.

Here is the rubric (Thanks Lauren.)
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Here is the conference note sheet I use (Thanks again Lauren!.)
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Here are some of my kids’ posters. It’s amazing to see the different strategies.
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Come back tomorrow for Math Investigations Part II – A gallery walk and making revisions.

Leave a comment to let me know what you think. Have you done math investigations with your kiddos? Do you think this would be something you might try?

Thanks for stopping by and saying hi,
Rachel

How Do You Adapt Your Curriculum?

Hi everyone. Are you tired of hearing your admin say, “The reading curriculum is just a tool. Use the material anyway you want.”? Really, REALLY!!

How many of you have heard this phrase? Is it true? I’m not sure. We all change the lessons to meet the needs of our children. But what happens when you have to rewrite the whole damn curriculum? I’m sure many of you have done just that. The schools pay all of this money for a curriculum and we have to spend all of our time to create lessons that actually work.

You might be wondering which reading curriculum I am using. Well, I don’t know if you have heard of the awesome Pearson company (I almost feel like they are the Evil Empire!) In NYC, Pearson seems to have had a monopoly on curriculum for the past three years. Thankfully, Pearson is SLOWLY starting to leave the NYC schools. This was the last year the NYS ELA and Math tests have been created by Pearson.

So we are told to use ReadyGen as a tool. So everyday I rewrite the curriculum and teach the skills or lessons how I want to and in the style that will most benefit my kiddos.

I started to teach each lesson focusing on a 15 minute mini-lesson and then small group work (which is definitely not in the program. :() I incorporate the science or social studies text books or articles on the topics. I added in A LOT of writing because there only seems to be response to literature in ReadyGen’s writing component. Although, there updated curriculum now includes shared writing with more informational writing…the material and expectations are way above grade level.

How else can I make this curriculum just a tool? I started to make interactive notebooks for the books that we have to use in our lessons. The only part of ReadyGen that is ok are SOME of the trade books used.

Last week we read A Chair for My Mother. I absolutely love this book, but if you follow the curriculum it is boring and basically kills any enjoyment of this wonderful book. So I introduced the interactive notebook for A Chair For My Mother and my kids loved it.

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Then I had my kids design their own comfortable chair. Just take a look at some of the chairs that my kiddos created! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Besides designing and building a comfortable chair to go along with the story, “A Chair for My Mother” students also had to write about how they created their chair and why they decided to create that chair.

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My students had so much fun with the interactive notebook, designing their comfortable chairs and their writing assignment.

My students loved using the interactive notebooks so much that I started to create them for the different trade books that we use as part of the 2nd grade ReadyGen curriculum. You can check them out by clicking here.

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Thanks for stopping by and reading my rant. ๐Ÿ™‚
How do you use your curriculum as just a tool?

Rachel

Educents Giveaway!

teacher appreciation educents 2016

To celebrate Teacher Appreciation month, Educents, FreshGrade, S&S Worldwide, and the Sellers of Educents have partnered to give educators funding for their dream classrooms. The 7 educators with the most votes will win a combined $10,000! Any educator is eligible to win – teachers, homeschoolers, parents, and school administrators.

How to Win

Educators get pretty creative when it comes to raising money to cover expenses for classroom supplies. Many host bake sales, ask the community for second-hand supplies, or pay out of their own pockets. However, there’s a new way to get money for your classroom… and it doesn’t include raiding the aisles of your local dollar store.

It’s easy to enter to win the Educents Teacher Appreciation Giveaway, and it still requires a little creativity (see Step 3).

Step 1: Save up to $5,000 in products for your dream classroom in your Educents wishlist.

Step 2: Click โ€œEnter to Winโ€ on your wishlist page and create your voting profile.

Step 3: Share with your friends, family and community and ask them to vote for you every day until May 6. This is your opportunity to get creative – how will you share your wishlist, and how will you involve your community to vote for you??

Any educator is eligible to win – teachers, homeschoolers, and school administrators. Ready to get started?

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Here are a few other entries I love – vote for your favorite!

teacher appreciation vote

“Vote for me because I LOVE teaching. I have a wonderful class that is full of spirit and who loves to learn. I will be putting all my dream items to the end of the year lessons and summer school lessons.” -Diana R.

“I am a homeschooling mom of 4 children, and one baby on the way! We live on only my husband salary. I would love to create a dream classroom for them.” – Gina H.

enter-now

Take a Peek at The Learning Chambers


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Hey friends!  Today I’m really excited to be joining Katie from Pop Into Primary for her Take a Second to Peek into 2nd blog series.  Each month there will be a new featured blogger that you won’t want to miss.  Each blogger will be sharing a little about themselves and will also be putting one of their products on sale for two days.

I’m super excited because the first featured blogger is …. Stephanie from The Learning Chambers!


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One of Stephanie’s favorite products will be on sale September 25th and 26th only.  Her reading response flap journals are so much fun and a great way to have your students respond to the books that they are reading independently.

They are also differentiated because your students can use whatever book they are reading at the time.  They also include two different styles of writing lines.  You can click on the cover image to check them out in my store.
Thanks so much for reading all Stephanie from The Learning Chambers! Stop by next week to meet another featured 2nd grade blogging buddy!

Rachel