Saturday, September 28, 2013

Investigative Learning: Point of View

I am really big on the students coming up with their own definitions for content related vocabulary.  I have found it helps them remember and internalized the meaning. can be fun!

While my son was watching Hoodwinked {super funny movie!} last year, an amazing idea came to me...I should use this story based on Little Red Riding Hood to teach point of view!! 

You can get the full lesson here!
It has turned out to be the best lesson ever!  The students were super engaged the whole time and we work together to come up with the meaning for point of view.  At the end of the lesson I had one of the little boys in my inclusion class say, "Wow!  I can't believe I just came up with that on my own!"

Mission Accomplished!

Happy Teaching,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Project Based Learning: Schooled

If you have sat through any staff development then you have heard the latest buzz word in education...Project Based Learning.

It's an idea I love.  I envision students excitedly working on projects, totally into their book!

In the spirit of this latest trend in education, I have created a choices board to correlate with the amazing novel Schooled by Gordon Korman. 

Examples of Projects

The board contains 9 distinct projects grounded in multiple intelligence theory that students can choose from.  It is designed so that students will be required to work on it as we are reading the book. The entire project will be due at the end of our novel and will count as 75% of their assessment grade {the other 25% will be a written test}.

Hopefully all will go as planned {haha}...I will keep you updated. 

Reading Schooled? You can get this project here!!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Classroom Management: Hall Passes

When I first started teaching I was in what we call "The Learning Cottage."  AKA: Trailer.

A trailer that sat pretty far away from the always requested bathroom and water fountain.

Students would ask to go to the bathroom and disappear for about 5-10 minutes.  It just took that long for them to trudge up the hallway, slowly use the bathroom, get water, and amble back to class.  By then they missed a whole mini lesson....super frustrating to me at the time and the students later on when they realized they didn't have a clue what was going on! My teacher sense told me they REALLY didn't have to go to the bathroom, they were just trying to escape my awesomeness {Sad face}
So I implemented the hall pass.
Get a reproducible sheet here

How it works...
1.  Each student gets three hall passes each quarter.
2.  If they need to go to the bathroom, locker, water fountain, etc they have to use one of their hall passes.
3.  When they hand it to me, I rip it up {in a nice, happy way!} and allow them to go to leave.
4.  Any hall passes left over at the end of the quarter may be turned in for extra credit on low test grades.

It has worked GREAT!  I still have students who ask to go to the bathroom.  However, when I ask for their pass they decide it's not worth it.

It's a win win if you ask me!  They stay in class to hear my amazing lesson and get a little boost on an assessment.


Happy Teaching,

Monday, September 16, 2013

180 Days of Inspired Teaching: Plot Diagram Picture Book Project

My students just completed learning about the plot diagram through this fun activity.  I loved hearing the voices my students came up with for each of the characters!  All of my classes {ranging from inclusion to academically gifted} really enjoyed this lesson.

In order to see if they really had a grasp on the topic, to assess their ability to apply their new knowledge, & to tie in with this lesson, I decided to have them write their own picture book!

Picture Book Project

1.  Brainstorm genres as a class.
2.  Students write down their top 3 genres.
{This makes them feel as if they have some control over the project}
3.  Split the class into groups of 4.
{Perfect time for differentiation!!}
4.  Using a graphic organizer, students plan & organize their exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

5.  Meet with each group to discuss their ideas.
6.  Students story board their rough draft.
7.  They will peer edit the picture books.
8.  Using a template created in Word or Powerpoint, students take pictures of their illustrations, import, add text, & print. 
{This gives their book a more polished look}
9.  Print & Bind final book.
10. Plan a parent reception so they can view the amazing picture books created by your awesome students!  The public library is a great place to do this!

*The download is available here!

 Happy Teaching,

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

180 Days of Inspired Teaching: Plot Diagram

Before the students can figure out how the setting contributes to the climax, we have to be able to define and identify the climax {insert middle school humor here.}  Don't can be really easy and fun!


1.  I LOVE Scope magazine!  They have super interesting plays for students. For this lesson I went with the Seabiscuit play.

2.  Split the students into groups

3.  Give each group a part of the play {you may have to split the rising action up to accommodate the groups} and time to review parts and staging {15 minutes.}

4. Introduce each part on the diagram with a definition & then have the corresponding group act it out!
Presentation available on TpT
Pre-K, Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Homeschooler -

It's super easy on your part & engaging on their part!

Happy teaching,

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fun Friday: Increasing Student Confidence

Do you have that student who is always down on themselves?  Who needs a little shot of confidence every now and then?

How can you help?

Sign I put on the Clipboard

If I am giving a quiz or an assessment, I pick two students to be in The 100 Club.  I make a big deal out of selecting these students...I tell them I have special super hero type powers that lets me know who will make a 100.  If they are selected, I give them the "magical 100 clipboard" and they get to sit in the comfy reading seats while taking their test.

It is also a great way to separate kids who you think might be cheating.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

180 Days of Inspired Teaching: Story Elements {Week 1}

Last year I taught story elements towards the end of the accident on my part.
I was going through my standards checklist and realized {with slight panic} that I totally overlooked story elements!  We squeezed it in.  BUT it was not the best teaching I've done. 

I decided then and there this kind of thing would not happen again.
And so......
I made a commitment that every day would be

So, back to story elements.
 It seemed logical {and smart} to start with story elements this year.

How I did it...

1.  I put the students into pairs.
2.  Everyday I introduced a new story element concept {character, character trait, setting, conflict/problem, plot}
3.  I gave the students the definition
4.  We watched a Pixar short {they LOVED this!}
5.  I asked the students to power write for one minute about how the element was displayed in the clip.  Then, they turned and talked to their partner about what they wrote.  I walked around during this time to make sure everyone was on the right track.

{Transition to the application portion of the lesson}

6.  I handed out a numbered blue shopping bag {Walmart: $0.50} to each pair.  Inside the bag was a picture book, chart paper, and markers.
7.  The students read the book.

Paired Reading!

8.  When finished, they had to visually represent the the element of the day on the chart paper.  For example, the first day we talked about characters.  They had to draw the main characters on the chart paper.  Afterwards, they rolled the chart paper up and put it back in the bag with the picture book.  I really stressed creativity at this point!
9.  The next day the pairs got a new bag, with a new book.  
10.  They read the book and added the new element of the day to the chart paper.  For example, on day 2 we talked about character traits.  The pairs added character traits to the characters the previous group drew. 
11.  By Friday every pair read 5 books and each book had a visual representation of the elements we talked about that week! 
They had fun.  They were engaged.  It was awesome!

Happy Teaching,

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Joys of Grammar: Investigative Learning!

I am a big believer in investigative learning...even in the language arts classroom!

I take whatever opportunity I can to get students to come up with their own definitions. 

My first noun activity did just that!

The students were in groups of four and handed envelopes with various nouns.

They had to determine the part of speech of all the words {nouns}, split them into categories they came up with, then write a definition for noun {Since I included words like trust, faith, & Courage it was a little bit harder than person, place or thing...I encouraged them to write "fancy definitions"}

Shared all of our definitions and came up with a class definition.

I have found this type of investigative learning engages the students and helps them remember and understand important LA terms. 

And that is awesome!

I have this and four other noun activities bundled & available at my TPT store.  They are fun and sure to engage even your most reluctant learner.

Happy Teaching,

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