Sunday, December 27, 2015

Engaging Activities to Use After the New Year

Are you looking for some fun, engaging activities to do with your students once school starts back after Christmas break?  You've came to the right place!  I found myself dreading the thought of getting back to the grind once this long, overdue break is over.  So what better way to deal with it than to create fun activities that your students won't groan about?!? 

First, I created a New Year's Student Reflection- Video Journal Responses &  Infographic.  This product includes video journal responses where students watch a short video related to the response topic, and then students write a response.  Using the information they include in the journal responses, students will complete a New Year’s Infographic.

Included are:
• 6 video journal responses that address various areas included in the infographic (goal setting, SMART Goals, resolutions, making positive changes, symbolism, etc.).
• 2 page infographic

Another product I use is a New Year's Character Reflection & Infographic.  This activity is a great
way to analyze a character, while also putting the New Year's spin on it.

The activities in this product will require students to:
• Develop a New Year’s resolution for the character
• Determine character’s most cherished memories
• Establish the character’s favorite “things”
• Symbolization- 5 symbols that represent the character
• Goals for the New Year

Similar to the topics discussed in the Infographic are these New Year's Character Reflection Task Cards!  This Common Core aligned product includes 20 task cards that require students to think critically about the character(s) being addressed, as well as to support their answers with evidence.  Approximately half of the cards require students to reflect on the character’s
past year or the year to come; however, the tasks do not have to be used as a New Year’s activity. The other half focuses more on characterization, in general (types of conflict the character has been involved in, internal and external traits, etc.). Therefore, these task cards can be used at any point throughout the year with ANY novel or short story.  Want to try out a free sample of this product?  Download this FREEBIE here!

I'd love to here what you do with your students when you head back to school in January.  It would be great to have a variety of activities on hand to be ready to go!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Implementing Common Core Lit Terms w/ Videos

Implementing the Common Core vocabulary can often be boring for our students. We all know that when our kids are bored, they're less likely to comprehend the material.  Keeping this in mind, I decided to create activities that would allow my students to interact w/ the term as they are learning it.

This 'growing' product includes 30 literary terms (so far). Each time I introduce a new skill, I use the appropriate activity from my Common Core Literary Terms w/ Videos.  For example, when we started our fiction unit, I, of course, wanted students to be able to identify the parts of the plot.  To begin, I gave them a copy of the activity below, which they glued into their Interactive Reading Notebooks.  As you can see, it includes the word, definition, the word used in a sentence, a video explaining the term, and then a review question/activity.  They keep track of each term and the standard that it covers, using a tracking sheet (also included in this product).  I've found students to be much more excited about what we're going to do next by introducing the skills this way.  If you would like to have a FREE sample of this product, you can download that here!  Make sure to check out the full product here.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tis the Season- Holiday Blog Hop

I'm so excited to be linking up with Lauralee from the Language Arts Classroom and Julie Faulkner from Faulkner's Fast Five for their annual holiday blog hop!  This year the theme for the blog hop is "bringing meaning to the season," which is so important to do, even with all of our busy lives.  
So how do I bring meaning to the season for my students?  With the amount of material we're expected to cover in the classroom, it's easy to feel as if there's no time to include any activities related to the holidays.  That being said, why not use holiday related activities that still cover those required standards???  In trying to accomplish this, I begin each class with these figurative language bell ringers from my Christmas Figurative Language Task Cards.  This is a great way to get the kids in the holiday spirit, while also working on skills that the students need to know.  It's also a good conversation starter! 

How do I bring meaning to the season for my family???  We LOVE watching Christmas movies!  My kids love to watch Home Alone, and so do I!  But my personal favorite is Christmas Vacation!  You can't get enough of Clark and Cousin Eddie!

One thing I'm looking forward to this Holiday Season, is spending some quality time with my friends and family!  In my school district, we've had very little time off, w/ the exception of Labor Day and Thanksgiving!  So I'm extremely ready to have more than a couple days off to do things with my family, that you can't do when you have to be back to work w/in a couple of days.

So what do you do to bring meaning to the season???  I would love to hear some fun things you do w/ your children, family, and friends.  I'd like to wish you all Happy Holidays! 


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Middle School Mob Black Friday Giveaway

I'm so excited to be linking up with the other blog that I'm a part of, Middle School Mob (MSM), for an awesome giveaway!  MSM is a collaborative blog of 16 teacher/authors from multiple subject areas.  To learn more about MSM, click here.

We're having a giveaway of our most "Wish Listed" TPT Products!  Make sure to enter to win some amazing activities, lessons, etc. that your students are sure to love!!!   

The product I have donated for the giveaway is my Compound, Complex, and Compound-Complex Task Cards.  Teaching students to vary sentence structure is a requirement of the Common Core State Standards; however, it's often not an easy skill for students to master.  In trying to determine what I could do to help my students gain a better understanding of this, I developed these task cards.  I was amazed at the progress I saw and was even more amazed to see how engaged my students were when working on this!

So make sure to enter the Black Friday Giveaway for some amazing products!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Sale!

A little Halloween gift for you...The following products will be 50% off from now until midnight!
Click the links below to take you directly to each product!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fun Fall Finds- Fall Resource Bundle Giveaway

I'm so excited to be a part of another awesome giveaway, sponsored by Ms. F's Teaching Adventures, B's Book Love, The Literacy Maven, 2 Peas & a Dog, Teach. Inspire. Change, The Language Arts Classroom, and myself.  Several TPT teacher/authors have also linked up in order to provide a lucky winner with great products that are sure to be a success in your classroom.  In addition, you'll also have the chance to win a $35 TPT gift card.  Make sure to enter for your change to win
between Oct. 20-25.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 15, 2015

All Treats & No Tricks for Teachers- Secondary Smorgasbord- FREEBIES

I'm thrilled to be linking up with the Secondary Smorgasbord again for their October linky party! This month secondary sellers are sharing their Trick-or-Treat themed FREEBIES!!! This is a great way to incorporate Halloween, while also making sure your students are still mastering those important skills that we have so little time to squeeze in!

The FREEBIE I'm sharing is my "hot off the press" History of Halloween Close Reading & Informational Text!  This product includes an informational article on the history of Halloween, close reading questions (and answers), suggestions for before and after reading, and extension activities.  I've also added a link to a short video from that discusses the history of Halloween, as well.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Promoting Classroom Engagement with Technology

I have recently discovered what has become one Edpuzzle, so I couldn't wait to share it with all of you!!
of my favorite go-to teaching tools EVER...

Edpuzzle is a website that allows users to customize videos from Youtube, Learnzillion, TedEd, National Geographic, Vimeo, and many more (videos for ALL subject areas).  You can even upload your own videos and then have the ability to crop, record audio, add comments, and my personal favorite, add questions for the kids to answer.  The best part of all--it's completely FREE!!! 

After you create your teacher account, you then can create the number of classes, based on however many you teach.  In my case, that's 5, so I created 5 classes.  Once you create a class, a class code is displayed, and this is what you give your students when they're creating their accounts, so that they can "join" the class.

How I'm currently implementing this in my class is by using the audio version of the book, Wonder, by RJ Palacio, which I found on Youtube.  The full audio is close to 8 hours, so I cropped it into sections.  For those of you who have read this amazing book, you know that it's written from different characters' perspectives.  For ex, the first section is from the main character, Auggie, the second is from Auggie's sister Via's perspective, and so on...  So I cropped the video so that my students can listen to a section at a time.  Once you crop the video, then you'll have the option to add audio of yourself, or add questions that you'd like your students to answer.  This is a great way to assess their understanding of the topic you're currently working on.  The questions can be multiple choice or short responses.  You can also insert links in your questions and comments.  For example, I wanted my students to be able to access the book online in addition to being able to listen to the audio, so I inserted a link to the book.  If you look at the picture that appears directly under the pic of my students using Edpuzzle, you can see the question and the link to the book (which is the blue text that says Wonder).  Where you see question marks below where the video is normally displayed, that means that's where questions will appear while students are listening to the audio.  Students can access the assignments from their laptops, phone, etc.  They can also watch the video as many times as they need to until they're comfortable enough to answer the question.  Not only is this great for regular ed students, but it's also a terrific way to differentiate for ESL and Special Ed, as well!

Another great feature is that it provides immediate feedback once students complete the assignment, particularly if your questions are multiple choice.  This is b/c you're able to choose which answer is correct when you're setting up the assignment (see example of what this looks like in picture).  If you're having students answer with short responses, then you'll have to grade it.  Because of this, I typically make the questions multiple choice.  This serves as a quick way to analyze data regarding whether students are actually paying attention and comprehending the material.  There are also tons of videos available where others have already created questions to go along w/ ALL subject areas.  So far, every time I've searched for a particular topic, I've had no trouble finding at least 20+ videos that are available and ready to go.

I hope you're able to find value in this amazing resource!  It's too good not to share, and I'd love to hear from those of you that try it!  Please let me know how you're using Edpuzzle or if you have any questions!

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Bell Ringers- Secondary Smorgasbord Blog Hop

This week I'm so excited to link up with the Secondary Smorgasbord to discuss how I get my students started at the beginning of each class.  This is the most important element of having a successful class, because it gets students in the right frame of mind- focused and ready to work. 

When students enter my room, they know that the FIRST thing they should do is grab their warm-up/grammar notebook and begin the warm-up for the day.  This is either already posted on the smart board, or it may be a series of different types of grammar and sentence editing that we have already glued into students' notebooks.  For example, on Monday, students glued 8 days’ worth or warm-ups into their notebooks (I typed up 8 days of different sentences they needed to correct, analogies to complete, etc.).  There are 4 days on one side of the paper, and 4 on the back.  This makes it SOOOO easy for both my students and I, because they already have the work and can get started right away, and I don't have to make copies daily. 

Depending on what part of speech or grammar skill we're working on, I will have my students work on that specific strategy using my Grammar Skills Task Cards following the warm-up.  This set addresses the following skills:

  • capitalization
  • commas
  • quotation marks
  • types of sentences
  • dependent/independent clauses
  • types of pronouns
  • action, linking, and helping verbs

I also wanted to make sure I hold my students accountable for completing the warm-up, so I decided to choose a group leader (or row leader, depending on how your class is set up) each week to check each group member's warm-up.  Each student can get up to 20 points for completing the warm-up, and then making the necessary corrections once we go over it together.  If they don't correct the mistakes, they only receive partial credit.  Then, on Fridays, I collect the charts and give them each a classwork grade.   You can access the chart for FREE here