Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Writing Wednesday Link-Up --July

I hope you gained as many ideas and incredible tips for developing and implementing writing as I did from last month's link-up! Hopefully by the time we have to go back to school, you'll have a ton of plans in your back pocket ready to break out and use with your students.

Last month I discussed how I introduced the argumentative writing process.  This month I'm going to share how I put the process into action by having my students write their own argumentative essay.  First, let me be honest.  I had really dreaded introducing this concept to my 6th graders.  I had quite a few students who really struggled w/ reading in general, so I knew explaining the whole argumentative essay process would be challenging to say the least.  But I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised at how well they grasped it, after taking them step-by-step, through each stage of developing the essay using my Argumentative Writing Unit.  This gave them the ground rules and all that they needed to know.  Now I just needed them to APPLY what they had learned.

To do this, I used the amazing an article called, "Why You Won't Find Her on Spotify" from the amazing Scholastic Scope Magazine!   For copyright issues, I can't post the article here, but if you Google the title, it should come right up.  This article discusses streaming services, such as Spotify, Apple Music, etc. and whether they help or hurt the music business.  The article talks about why Taylor Swift isn't available on certain streaming programs.  After reading the article, I created a digital chart in Google Slides for students to access, similar to the one that's included at the end of the article.  *FYI- In Scope, there were several graphic organizers that students are to use in the writing process.  I modified them for my students and created digital versions.  You can access all of these herePlease make a copy before using, so that you don't edit my original version.  To do this, once you open the document, click "File," then choose the "Make a Copy" option.* Using the chart, students had to come up with 3 reasons streaming is not good and 3 reasons it is good.  Then they were to choose the stance that they were going to take when they wrote their own essay, and use the 3 reasons to develop a thesis statement.  This was Step 1 of the process:

For step 2, after deciding which side they were on, they were to find evidence supporting their stance.  I told them they could use the pieces of evidence from their chosen side in the previous chart, but they also needed to come up w/ 2 or 3 more.  They did this using the digital graphic organizer below:

In step 3, they were ready to begin their intro paragraphs.  We had previously discussed writing strong hooks, background statements (as we call them-- some may call this a transition statement), and thesis statements when we began the Argumentative Writing Unit.  

Before students began to work on their body paragraphs, I reminded them that each reason HAD to be supported w/ evidence from the article, another website, etc.  When had previously spent a great deal of time on what this looks like and how to locate the evidence in the Argumentative Unit I mentioned before.  After gathering evidence for each reason, they completed the graphic organizer below in step 4.
For step 5, the conclusion paragraph, we reviewed that it should begin with a lead-in statement, where they acknowledge the topic.  Then they will restate the thesis statement by beginning with a concluding transition word.  The last sentence--the concluding statement-- will be their last chance to convince the reader that their side is the best.  Again, they did this using the graphic organizer below:
My students LOVED using an article that they were interested in, and I really received some excellent argumentative essays after doing it this way.  What has worked with your students?  Where do you find topics to use when attempting help your kids master these skills?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.  Also, make sure to stop by the other blogs to get more incredible writing tips!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Digital Back to School Student Interest Survey- Autosave & Use for the Whole Year

Each year I pass out a student interest survey during the first couple days of school.  I try to glance over each of them, only to be interrupted by-- 1- my own ADD brain- oops, I forgot I'm supposed to be at a meeting or was supposed to turn in these student forms (one of the thousands we were supposed to collect), so I don't get a planning period today or 2- one of my 'real' kids, the ones that I gave birth to (since I refer to my students as "my kids" too) need help with homework, or 3-  any number of random things--toilet is overflowing, somebody needs help w/ homework, my husband can't find his...who knows what, the fire alarm is going off b/c my son is trying to cook his own grilled cheese again (I'm a good mom and teacher, I swear), or any number of things.  This year, I've decided that these obstacles are NOT going to get into the way!  I'm going to have easy access to these surveys AND be able to refer to them quickly when needed, but not because I have to put in a bunch of extra time!!!

On a serious note, I've learned that it's extremely important to know what's going on with your students--not just their likes and dislikes, but the more personal things that they may not want to share otherwise. I learned this the hard way a while back... I had a student who was often absent, and when she was at school, she rarely did her work.  I knew that the child was more than capable based on assignments and assessments she had completed previously, so I was unsure of what was going on.  I wasn't able to reach the parents and school officials didn't offer any insight into what might be the issue.  Fortunately, after several months of this, I finally got word that the child had been living in, we'll just say, a nightmare (and that's putting it lightly).  Had I known this sooner, I would've been much more empathetic.  Not that I wasn't caring to begin with, but the student had been very disrespectful to me, so by April, I was at my whits end!   I certainly don't ask the very personal questions in the survey.  I make sure to word it something like, "Is there anything you would like me to know about you?  Keep in mind, other students will not be seeing the surveys.  It will be sent directly to me."  Notice I didn't say that I won't share this w/ anyone, because by law, if a child tells a teacher something that may harm them, we are considered mandated reporters and have to inform the necessary individuals.

So how am I going to make process this more effective this year?  I created a Digital Back to School Student Interest Survey on Google Forms.  When students answer the questions on Google Forms, it saves automatically.  Then their answers are also automatically put into a spreadsheet-- also saved on your Google Drive (see the steps below for exactly how to do this).  How awesome is that?!? 

Throughout the year, I can refer back to all of the info I have stored, and I can add to it if necessary.  This year I also plan to have my students complete the same survey during the middle of the year.  This will allow me to see if there have been any changes.  Another plus is that you can modify the form if you need to make changes to questions or if you need to add new ones.

In order for students to complete these surveys, I will simply upload them to Google Classroom and add as an assignment.  For directions on how to create and add assignments in Classroom, see my guest post on Erintegration where I explain this in detail.  If you don't have Google Classroom, don't worry.  You can easily upload to Edmodo or another program, you can post the link to the survey on your website, or you can email to your students...whatever works best for you!

How do you use the beginning of the year surveys?  Tell me all about it in the comments. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Back to School Giveaways w/ Educents

Have you checked out the Educents Back-to-School Giveaways yet? Now through August, don't miss your chance to enter to win over $15,000 in prizes like talking stuffed animals, full-year curricula for all ages, a $250 shopping spree and MORE! Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 11.40.25 AM Here are a few I'm hoping to win:  The mCookie 101 Basic Kit from Microduino ($99 value!) -Microduino a known player in the maker community, their mCookies allow anyone who has an interest in electronic DIY projects to easily join the fun and bring projects to life.   Fun-Schooling Books From The Thinking Tree ($165 value!) -Flip to Fun-Schooling! 3 Do-It-Yourself Homeschooling Journals, 1 Spelling Journal, 1 Homeschooling Handbook for Moms, Timeline, Art History & 2 Bible-Time Activity Books. $250 Shopping Spree on Educents - Win $250 in Educents credit to shop thousands of educational resources that you can trust for your child's education! 17 Comment below to let me know which ones you hope to win!  

Friday, July 15, 2016

Why Every Teacher Should Use Google Classroom

This year our school district began using Google Apps for Education.  Although I was familiar with Google Drive and how amazing it was, I had no idea that Google Classroom could be just as amazing!  I've really became a little (ok, extremely) obsessed!!!  So that other educators can share in my obsession, I decided to do a post about why EVERY teacher should be using Google Classroom.

Top 5 Reasons:

For directions on how to create assignments, see my blog post on Erintegration.

As I stated previously, a great deal of the assignments done in Google Classroom are completed using Google Drive.  I found an incredible chart from Cult of Pedagogy that may help you to understand how the components of Google tools relate to one another.
I would love to hear how you use Google Classroom and/or Google Drive with your students.  Tell me about it in the comments.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

101 Amazing Educational Apps and Sites

How do you approach summer learning? How do you balance on and off screen time and keep abreast of technological and other learning? I know my kids spend (or try to) a great deal of time on electronics during the summer.  I found this list of websites from Educents invaluable at finding great educational websites, apps, etc. that fit all ages and learning levels.   Educents' list of the Top 101 Educational Websites and Apps of 2016 has been a lifesaver! This incredible round-up of educational websites, apps, online curriculum, and digital learning resources is your go-to guide for continued summer learning and the new academic year. You can browse the guide by subject to find the perfect resources for your kids to brush up on certain skills or learn something new! There are literally 101 great options to choose from. Here are a few that stand out to me: 1. Kids Discover - Kids Discover Online is an interactive online reading platform, offering 3 Lexile(R) reading levels and over 1,000 science and social studies resources, vetted by subject experts. kids-discover_kdo_b425 2. Farfaria Unlimited Ebooks - FarFaria offers over 1000 ebooks for your children. Each story comes to your mobile device as a colorfully illustrated book that they can flip through, read on their own, or have read to them. If they choose to hear the story, each word is highlighted as a professional actor recites it. educent_farfaria_slide_2_2 3. Learn to Read App: Lifetime Subscription - With music, games, lessons, and stories, HOOKED ON PHONICS: LEARN TO READ is the simplest, most effective and most fun way to learn to read. Enjoy songs, games and interactive entertainment in a style that has never been seen before in an educational app. hop_600x600_1_1 Which ones have you tried or do you want to try? Comment below to let me know which ones are your family's favorites! Untitled design-45  

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Winner Wednesday- July

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for Winner Wednesday again, hosted by Jennifer from A Dab of Glue Will Do and Sara from Sara J Creations!  I always look forward to this, because it gives me an opportunity to link up with several awesome teacher-authors who are also sharing info about one of their amazing products.  In addition, it gives all of you the chance to enter each TPTer's giveaway.  This also means you'll have multiple opportunities to win great products!!!

The product that I'm featuring for this giveaway is my Digital Back to School Activities.  This product is for grades 4-9 and includes:

• Digital and printable social media templates- Selfie Alert!, ‘Fakebook,’ ‘Insta’ Alert!, Text Talk, Snap-A-Chat
Selfie Alert!—Students are to insert a pic or draw a selfie of themselves. Then tell the class all about themselves on the notebook paper provided on the slide.
‘Fakebook’—Students are to use the ‘Fakebook’ template to upload or draw their own profile pictures, and will then explain the chosen images.
‘Insta’ Alert!—Students are to complete the Insta profile page, as they would their own Instagram. They will insert pics (or draw them) showing the class their likes, things they did over the summer, or any other info they would like to share. • Text Talk—Students will use the iPad image to create a text conversation w/ a friend, discussing what they did over the summer.
Snap-A-Chat- Students will use a template similar to Snap Chat to discuss one thing that they feel is very important for the teacher/students to know about them. Then they will explain why it’s important for the teacher to know this.

Thank you for stopping by, and make sure to head over to the other blogs to enter their giveaways.  Enter at the Rafflecopter below.

Monday, July 4, 2016

4th of July Family Activities

What are your plans this 4th of July? What has 4th of July meant for you in your family? Did you talk about American history? Focus on BBQ? Fireworks? Holidays are a time for family and friends to congregate, and 4th of July is one of the more relaxed summer holidays. Who doesn't love great weather and something yummy from the grill? Holidays with national significance are also a great opportunity for learning. Here are 5 ways you can enhance family learning and honor US history this holiday weekend:

1. 4th of July Lapbook Package of 6 (Downloadable)

4thlapbookpackage I can't believe the 4th is Monday already! Thankfully Knowledge Box Central (one of my favorite makers) has a lapbook package that you can download. It covers the Declaration of Independence, important facts about Independence Day (more than BBQ!), Patriotic Symbols and Memorials Activities, and US symbols like the Statue of Liberty in 289 pages. Kiddos learn about the history of our nation and honor the efforts of those before us.

Who it's for: Ages 5-13

Cost: $9.99 (save $20)

Download It


2. 4th of July Hands On Activities (Downloadable)

handson  Keep your kiddos active during the day (so they can rest at night) with 18 hands on activities surrounding the holiday. This set of activities includes color matching, stamp making, necklaces, and loads more. Note it's a downloadable so you'll need to rustle up components like crayons and sponges, but the down to earth ideas won't require a trip to a super store. And you can access it right away.

Who it's for: Ages 2-6

Cost: $9

Download It


3. All 50 States Notebooking Pages (Downloadable)

50 states Quite the bundle - I love this notebook of all 50 states because it encourages personalized, independent research. Kick off long-term learning with the founding states, and discuss how the United States grew as a nation following the Declaration of Independence. I've found that interest-fueled lessons help kids learn with greater depth and retention - but as they say, creativity loves constraints - and this 50-state notebook creates just the right framework.

Who it's for: Ages 7-12

Cost: $25 (save $275)

Download It


4. Declaration of Independence CD

declaration-ad (1) This is a tool that will resonate with auditory learners, and one that the whole family can enjoy. Learn the words of the Declaration of Independence through song, and hear them explained by a teacher in terms children can understand. I hold this truth to be self-evident: this CD is a great way to bring historical concepts to life for little learners.

Who it's for: Ages 5+, the whole family

Cost: $11.96 (save $4)

Order It


5. 4th of July Coloring Pages (Downloadable)

coloringbook4thofjulycoloring How about a little creativity for the day? These adorable pages will let kiddos inner artist shine, while giving opportunity to talk about what's in them. For example, what is the meaning of the Statue of Liberty? You can even talk about how she's green because of copper oxidizing over time, and how pennies are made of the same material. Yes! Arts, History and Science all together! And it's 99 cents.

Who it's for: Kids who love coloring, all ages

Cost: 99 cents

Download It