2018 is here! Happy New Year!
As I sat home last night with my two dogs and 1.5 cats (Ellie was around somewhere, I suppose) waiting for my teenagers to come home from parent-chaperoned parties, I scrolled through Instagram.
I’ve done that a lot over break. Probably too much.
As much as love the written word, I love the images more. The whole “a picture speaks a thousand words” concept, you know?
I enjoy seeing the happiness of others – my extended family, my work friends, people I don’t even know – celebrating major life events.
Sometimes, I admit, it leaves me thinking, “What would I put on one of those trendy felt-boards if I owned one?”
What if I owned one when I was me ….20, 18, 12, or 8 years ago?
Would I have jumped on the felt-board bandwagon?
Would my life have been captured in public posts announcing the biggest moments of my life?
I’m sure it would have been.
We all want to share our happiness, our joy, and our life-changing moments with the world.
But what if my happiness this past year was different than yours?
What if the things you celebrated seemed like tiny accomplishments or things you wouldn’t carefully spell out on a felt-board, but they made you feel good just the same?
We are all in our own seasons of life, and all the things that make each season exciting are going to look a little different in photos and on felt-boards.
It doesn’t mean my 2017 was less than, or greater than, yours.
My 2017 was just different.
I suspect my 2018 will be exactly the same – different.
May your 2018 be felt-board worthy, if not on Instagram, then simply in your heart.
With the same students as last year….and so many exciting things happening this summer, I decided to update my 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)
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.
After brief introductions of myself and my student teacher, I will bring out the basket.
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:
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!
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)
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:
- Encourage reluctant readers
- Improve informational text comprehension
- Provide opportunities for discovery and discussion
- 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?)
Global Read Aloud
This week I kicked off our classroom participation in the Global Read Aloud. I chose the book Fish by L.S. Matthews for my middle school classes. I am so happy to finally be doing some literature-based activities. Our focus up to this point has been strictly informational text.
We’ve been reading and writing a lot about refugees in the first few weeks of school, so my students have a pretty solid background on refugee camps and current refugee situations.
The GRA is designed to connect classrooms around the world. While we haven’t made any contacts with other classrooms yet, I created a Twitter account so we could participate in some of the “slow chats”. However, our school doesn’t allow students to access Twitter, so I am going to need to come up with some creative ways for us to use Twitter as a class.
My 8th graders are already asking if they can tweet questions and comments. I quickly made this simple exit ticket where students can record their thoughts each day and submit them to me for review before I tweet them. I know there are several versions of Twitter Exit Tickets on Pinterest and TPT, but I figured something simple was fine.
Click here for a free PDF of my Twitter Exit Ticket
Literary Element Graphic Organizers – Simplified
Speaking of simple, I decided to revamp some of my graphic organizers and teaching tools. Considering I have some of the same students for a few years in a row, I needed some variety.
I will admit, I used to spend a lot of time making graphic organizers and making them “pretty” and “perfect.”
I realized recently, simple works too. I spend far too much time worrying about the alignment and formatting of my handouts.
It’s time to simplify my life and my classroom a bit and put the creativity into my students’ hands.
As we started our novel, I had students glue each of the organizers below into their reading journals. They glue one on the left hand side and skip the right hand side, because that is where they create their own rendition.
This past week, I gave them three separate pages to glue in. We will be adding to each of them as we work our way through the exposition of the novel.
Clicker here to download the free PDF of my POV, Plot Diagram and Conflict Graphic Organizers
I’ll be sure to share some student samples in the next post. If these aren’t quite what you are looking for, try my Easy Access page with an entire bank of free graphic organizers and teaching tools.
**If you are reading Fish now too, leave a comment! Maybe our classes can meet up online and talk about the book!
Fish by L.S. Matthews was my pick for the Global Read Aloud. We are only a chapter and a half in, but so far, so good.
I’ve been making some vocabulary squares for my 7th and 8th graders and thought I would post them here in case anyone else could use them. Even if you aren’t reading Fish now as part of the GRA, maybe you will in the future.
At this time, I have three sets you can download. I’ve also linked my Quizlets for each set.
Please leave a comment if you are doing the GRA! I would love to connect with others who are participating!
Week 6/Midterm Week was a long one!
Chilly fall weather abruptly arrived, and I’ve also been sick, but it was another week where it felt like things just came together.
Two big ideas this week:
As we continued to read informational text to prepare for our novel, I taught some summarizing skills.
My learning target and goal:
- I know that by annotating the text and asking questions, I will understand the text on a deeper level.
- I can write a one paragraph objective summary using my annotations and a graphic organizer.
We still have a lot of work to do, but with sites like Newsela, it will be a skill we can work on often with current, relevant articles.
I’ve been using leveled articles related to refugee situations in Syria and Sudan to build background knowledge for Fish by L.S. Mathews. This is the graphic organizer I created for my 7th and 8th graders. After they answer each
Here is the PDF to download: Summary Graphic Organizer
Four different days this week we started class with a writing prompt. I searched Google for some images that would work with my class. I lead the students through brainstorming activities for each of the prompts with the following learning targets and goals in mind:
- I know that following the writing process can lead to quality writing.
- I can use my brainstorming to write a complete paragraph with grade-appropriate vocabulary and language.
- On Day 1, students had to create a web or list.
- On Day 2, they completed a graphic organizer that resembled a comic strip. They had a choice to write or draw the events.
- On Day 3, we had a discussion about Author’s Purpose and they listed the 5 purposes in their journal.
- On Day 4, we made a T-chart for cause and effect.
My goal is to get them in the habit of doing a pre-writing or brainstorming activity every time they write. I see too many disorganized, off-topic responses. I also tried to use a variety of activities to meet the needs of all types of learners. Eventually they will get to choose their own strategy.
I created a rubric/checklist for grading their Writing Notebooks. I am trying to use this sheet for documentation as well. Every student received a copy and they had some time to self-evaluate before turning everything in.
Click the links below to access PDF files:
I’ll be excited to share in the coming weeks because we are participating in the Global Read Aloud!! I’m hoping for some great collaboration with other schools. Have a great week!
So many great things are happening in my classroom, and I want to share them, but between golf and marching band, I can’t find the time.
I decided to try to highlight some things that happened in my room this week, and perhaps I will post a little recap each week. Never mind there is no Week 1, Week 2, or Week 3….. I’m officially starting with Week 4.
We have been working hard on annotating the short informational texts we are reading in class. These text selections from Newsela and Readworks are building background knowledge for the novel we will be reading in October, Fish by L.S. Matthews.
By the end of Week 4, my 8th graders came up with the following for our WE KNOW bulletin board.
The premise behind this bulletin board is where I want to post some really big concepts that can be applied to all parts of school, and beyond. I let them decide on the wording because I wanted them to “own it.” Students copied the final wording in an Annotating Foldable.
We’ve been practicing annotations using a set of symbols and following these rules:
1. Don’t go highlighter crazy!
2. If you highlight, you must write!
Here is a link for the quiz I made: Annotation Quiz (The story I used for annotating is from Readworks. I just wanted to provide my students with a large margin.) Readworks: Famous African Americans Muhammad Ali: The Greatest
Subjects and Verbs
My 7th grade is working on identifying subjects and verbs, while 8th grade is finding subject, simple predicate and complete predicate. I continue to use Mentor Sentences to teach these concepts. Again, I used the reading from readworks.org to make short simple sentences for the 7th grade.
I used sentences from an article we read on Newsela for the 8th graders.
Before I forget, did you know that Kahoot! now has “Public Kahoots.” Maybe they always have, but I didn’t know it until this week when I was getting ready to make my own subject/verb Kahoot. What a relief when I found something that worked perfectly!! My students had a lot of fun reviewing for their quiz with this particular Subject & Predicate Kahoot someone else made!!
I Wish My Teacher Knew
Obviously, you can guess what I had my students do. I asked every student to write me a 6-8 sentence paragraph in their Writing Notebooks using that prompt: “I wish my teacher knew….” My heart melted and ached as I read some of their responses. I did not expect to get such honest responses, and I learned so much about my students. I spent the next two evenings writing a half to full-page response back to each of them. It was a simple activity I recommended to all of my teacher friends.
So there are the highlights of Week 4. If there is anything you are specifically wanting to know more about, leave me a note in the comments. Hopefully I’ll be able to post again at the end of Week 5!