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Category Archives: Teaching

First Quarter Journal Prompts

I am very excited about what I’m about to share with you all.  I am doing a mash-up of Padlet, the CuBe of FaTe, and an idea from a first year teacher I worked with last year.

The photo below doesn’t show you the whole Padlet, but you can go here to access it.

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Directions for how I will use this in my own classroom during the first few weeks of school:

  1. Roll the CuBe of FaTe at the start of class.
  2. Pull up the corresponding prompt. (By column)
  3. Allow students time to write in their journals.
  4. Share/discuss/collect as appropriate.
  5. Keep track of each class with this printable PDF so you don’t repeat yourself.Screenshot 2016-08-21 at 2.56.12 PM

This activity is geared towards 8th graders, but may work with other grades or be used in different ways.  I’m just providing the Padlet for you to use. I’d love to hear any ideas or how it goes in your room if you try it!

 

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2016 Classmate Scavenger Hunt

With the same students as last year….and so many exciting things happening this summer, I decided to update my Scavenger Hunt.

2016 Scavenger Hunt

2016 Classmate Scavenger Hunt

Here are links to previous posts about this first day activity:

Updated: First Day of School Scavenger Hunts (Contains three variations for different age levels)

First Day of School Scavenger Hunt (Contains the rules, description of the activity)

 

Summertime Favorites

Lemon Shake-Ups.

Caramel Apples.

Cotton Candy.

Peach-Tea.

S’mores.

Funnel Cakes.

Banana  Splits.

Strawberry Milkshakes.

Which is your favorite summertime favorite?

Hopefully you’ve had a great summer and done plenty of your favorite things and eaten plenty of your favorite goodies. (Lemon Shake-Up for me!)

August arrived almost 72 hours ago. Along with it, band practice, golf practice, back-to-school posts, and an earlier wake-up time (probably the most shocking of all.)

As I get back into the routine, I feel mixed emotions. My daughter is a junior and a squad leader in the marching band this year.  On the first day of practice, I heard her come downstairs.  I hopped out of bed, quickly got dressed, and started my coffee as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes. She looked at me – water bottle, trumpet, music, and keys in hand – and I realized she doesn’t need a ride this year.  She has her own car.  (Imagine both our faces – and my heart – at this moment.)

My son, finally a teenager, is an 8th grader and is on the golf team.  He’s worked hard all summer on his swinging, chipping, and putting.  My parents bought him a giant net that he can set up in the yard. It’s been nice because I don’t have to pay for the driving range, or make his sister drive him to the golf course.   But when I look at my hacked-up lawn…. I think I should put up a sign that says, “A spoiled rotten golfer lives here.”

I’ve started a little of my back-to-school work, but considering this is Year 21, I feel pretty comfortable and have learned to use every second of this precious time for relaxing, refreshing, and re-energizing.

However, during a quick stop at the store this morning, I found the perfect ice breaker activity for my students.

Limited Edition Dum-Dums!

Limited Edition Dum-Dums!  How fun!  I bought two 10.4 oz bags for $4.00 at Discount Drugmart.

After brief introductions of myself and my student teacher, I will bring out the basket.

dumdum2

This is a good time for me to remind them of the rule of saying “Thank You” immediately after receiving a treat, and a warning that candy wrappers left anywhere but the trash can will not work in my classroom.

Now comes the fun:

Screenshot 2016-08-03 at 6.40.59 PM

I’m excited to have my first day activity planned and ready to go. I had most of these students last year in 7th grade, so I have to get creative each year. Plus, this lets us hold onto sweet summer just a little bit longer….

What is your go-to ice breaker?

Do you have something new planned for this year? 

I’d love for you to share your ideas in the comments!

Summer Reading Suggestions

I have seen a lot of posts about Summer Reading programs for elementary students, and I’ve had a few questions from friends about what their kid should be/could be reading this summer.

One kid in particular is Sam, inquisitive, smart, and compassionate Sam.  Sam is a soon-to-be 2nd grader who is reading at a much higher Lexile level than his 1st grade classmates.

Teaching middle school, I was at a lost as to what to suggest to his mom.  It didn’t hit me until a few days ago after the tragedy in Orlando.  Newsela CEO, Matthew Gross, sent an email to subscribers explaining how Newsela would handle the story and how teachers (and parents) could deal with this tragedy.  As stated in the email, the Orlando “story will not appear in Newsela Elementary.”  (I was not aware of this feature.)

While Sam is not ready to read articles pertaining to the bad in the world, Newsela is full of things I know he would love to learn about.  Best of all, his mom can pick Lexile appropriate text to encourage and engage him in his summer reading.

Knowing Sam and his mom, I am able to easily choose a few articles that would be a great start for him:

Kids: Special cameras help scientists look at wild animals (430L)

Health: A boy gets a special new arm in the United States (430L)

Opinion: Sharks need our help to live (480L)

Money: New York looks for the best way to handle its famous horses (490L)

Sports: 17-year-old can do 7,306 pull-ups in 18 hours (480L)

Science: Eastern states prepare for six weeks of the cicada (580L) – Maybe a little high, but the fact these crazy insects have invaded our area should be encouraging enough.

I hope that reading articles like these will accomplish a few things:

  1. Encourage reluctant readers
  2. Improve informational text comprehension
  3. Provide opportunities for discovery and discussion
  4. Give Sam’s mom some peace of mind as she looks for appropriate texts for Sam’s summer reading challenge

Good luck Sam’s mom!! Hope this helps!

How do you encourage your elementary student to complete summer reading requirmements?

Is there a summer reading program at your library or within the school?

Do your kids read just for the sake of reading? (No prize involved?)

 

 

 

Teaching Students to Prioritize

One thing many middle school students struggle with is filling out their agendas and getting work  completed on time. 

Some patterns I’ve  noted (and would like to correct before my 8th graders leave for the high school):

  • Writing “none” or “done” or “math” in each of box on the agenda with no specifics on the assignment. (“What page do we have for math again?”)
  • Saving 7th period homework for 6th period study hall. (Rarely do we get quality work there). 
  • Working on a project that is due in two weeks instead of studying for the quiz that is tomorrow. 
  • Coloring a diagram or writing out notecards instead of annotating the next chapter while I play it on CD. 
  • Looking busy but actually accomplishing nothing. 

There are many reasons for the above behaviors, but I decided to focus on one solution. 

During the third nine weeks, my study hall students came in every day, picked up a dry erase board and marker, and took the first five minutes to write out their To Do lists on dry erase boards.

My student teacher and I were then able to walk around and help them prioritize their tasks if necessary.

The prompt they see on the board: 

 

Now that it’s the 4th nine weeks, we have shifted into writing a prioritized list at the bottom of each day in our student agendas. 

Of course, there’s always that one kid who doesn’t buy into the To Do list concept, but is willing to appease and amuse me:

 
How do you help your students get organized?

Is there a method that works best for your students? 

How can I make this better? 

Leave me a comment. I would love to hear from you! 

“This Compulsion”

“When I get this feeling, this compulsion, I always do what it tells me. I can’t explain where it comes from or how I get it, and it doesn’t happen very often. But I obey it.” ~ Calvin O’Keefe, A Wrinkle in Time

Just like Calvin, I have this compulsion.  I am compelled.

Compelled to be better. Compelled to do more.

Compelled to teach. Compelled to learn.

Compelled to find a place where I am understood and I understand.

I’m excited to say I’ve been invited and graciously accept the invitation to become part of a blogging community that will post, read, comment on, and share education-minded posts several times a month.

What better name for this group than the Compelled Tribe? 

For a while now, I have been aimlessly searching for a “thing,” for my “place,” for my “people.”

For my tribe.

Of course, I already belong to several “tribes” – my oldest friends, my children, my family, and some work friends.  Even my  8th grade class feels like a tribe.

However, this tribe is different, and I’m excited. I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my life when I’ve needed a tribe like this.

These are tough and challenging times in education, and I am finishing out Year 20 of teaching.  I don’t think I’m alone, or will be misunderstood, when I say that some days I feel like I am at a crossroads.

Luckily, I just happened to cross paths with a tribe that wants to grow.  A tribe who will support me, encourage me, and challenge me in areas that are important to me: writing, teaching, and learning.

tribe

 

 

 

Models for Comparing Texts

Here are just a few of the posters I’ve created for my classroom for the times we are comparing texts.  

These are a great encouragement for students who struggle to get started.   

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Tools for the ELA Classroom (My Padlet)

I’m on this Padlet kick lately. (Actually, it’s become an obsession.)

I’m finding it so much easier to add resources to a specific padlet page than to bookmark them. I think it’s because I use my phone, my iPad, my Chromebook, my MacBook, and my school desktop computer throughout the day.

I can also easily share this Padlet with my student teacher and my inclusion teacher, as well as all of you!

The added bonus is the visual it provides me. I can look at the image and it jogs my memory (which is getting worse the longer I teach) as to what I am looking for and where to go.

So here is the link for my Tools for the ELA Classroom. If you have anything great to add, please leave me a comment!

Screenshot 2016-01-31 at 10.20.30 AM.png

A Padlet of Videos for the Classroom

I finally found a way to organize all of the video clips I like to use on a regular basis in class.  I come back to these videos often, and I also wanted something I could post on Schoology for my students to use as a resource.

Now I can easily add to this Padlet anytime I find a new video, and I can share it with other teachers (and you) as well!

Click HERE for the link. (This is just a screen shot.)

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December Padlet with Phrases and Clauses

I’m still playing with Padlet and finding all sorts of uses for it. Right now I see it as a great place to store materials and units If you teach 7th grade, you might be ready to work on phrases and clauses around this time of the year.

If you teach writing, you might be able to incorporate these pictures into writing activities as well.

Again, much like my blog about Padlet and participles, I’ve created a Padlet that houses all of my notes, worksheets, and activities on phrases and clauses, as well as 15 winter picture prompts for December. I am working on adding directions to each prompt, specifically about phrases and clauses, but you could use the pictures as they are.

Padlet December 7

**All of my images were taken from Google images; worksheets and notes are my own.

To access this Phrases and Clauses Padlet, click the link. The password is: jolly

I will be adding and editing this Padlet as I work through December as I am uncertain about the pacing and need for reteaching with my 7th graders.

Hopefully you can find a way to use this Padlet in your classroom!

Tell me all about it in the comments!

 

 

 

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