Week 24 is in ‘da books! Below are this week’s highlights!
1. Author Visit – Trudy Krisher is coming in just 3 days! We are so excited! In preparation for our discussion of her novel, Spite Fences, we have been preparing a display of items that would be found in Zeke’s Cart (a main character from the novel). Students are bringing in ‘white elephant’ type items that we will do a creative writing around under her guidance on Monday. Can’t wait to share that with you!
2. Assembly Line Production – We also did a fun activity this week in Social Studies, engaging in a hands-on experience with the pros and cons of assembly line production. I had students time themselves and compute average production time per item (and yes, they got to eat the final product, a cookie ‘burger’). Needless to say, this activity was a big hit! They loved it, and they even cleaned up after themselves and asked if we could do it again. I liked exploring this important element of our modern economy and discussing the benefits and potential chllenges it causes as well.
3. Valentine’s Day Activities – On Friday of last week, my Language Arts class also completed this Valentine’s Day Close Reading activity. We have been focusing on close reading and finding supporting evidence all year in all classes, so this was a good review. It’s also kind of interesting to learn facts you didn’t know about this popular holiday.
4. Readbox Doors – You may have seen my earlier post about the Readbox Bulletin Board I put up in our cafeteria. Well our student-run art club also made some additional Readboxes that could be displayed throughout the school. I think they turned out great!
5. Just For Fun – I thought I’d share with you a project I recently completed. If you follow this blog, you know I love to hand make all my gifts (whenever possible). I found this awesome pattern on steotch.com and it just makes me chuckle every time. My husband is always making ‘Ermahgerd’ jokes, so I mostly made this for him. If you like ironic, snarky cross-stitching, then head on over to steotch’s website or etsy page for some laughs.
I hope you had a great week and that you aren’t totally frozen or buried in piles of snow. It is bound to warm up soon, so hang in there!
12/12 – a Lucky Day! And only 13 Days Until Christmas! The excitement is surely palpable. I finished Christmas shopping and wrapping last weekend (please refrain from hurling things at me), because I am just that Type A person. I don’t like surprises or putting things off until the last minute – this means I can enjoy myself and worry less (a good goal all around).
We had a really productive, great week and I have many exciting highlights to share!
1. Newsela – I’ve been using Newsela with my intervention groups (2 small groups of 4 students each) for the past month. We have seen steady progress. I can’t say enough great things about this website! They translate high-interest current events topics into leveled articles with Common Core aligned quizzes. I select an article, choose a Lexile level, and we read and discuss the article together as a group. I give my students highlighting or annotating tasks as we engage in text-based discussion. Then, they take the quiz on their own. They are building skills and confidence – love it!
2. Manipulatives for Adolescents – When I asked my students to bring scissors and glue to class on Tuesday, their quizzical expressions slowly turned into a smile. They hadn’t been asked to cut or glue for many, many years. In Social Studies class on Tuesday, however, I had them cut apart and sort facts into the correct pre-Civil War Compromise we had learned about that week. They practiced several times, then glued down the correct answers. Not only was this engaging, but it was also a great review activity that tapped into several different learning styles. (You can purchase this activity as part of a mini-unit here).
3. Personal Narrative Revision – In Language Arts class this week, we are working on revising our Personal Narratives (which I have called “Small Moment Assignment”). To practice revision, I gave my students a model paper that needed a lot of elbow grease. I split up the model into 5 color-coded sections, and I assigned each section to a small group. The group was tasked with revising their section based on everything we have learned in class about what makes a great personal narrative (sensory language, metaphors, descriptive words and details, specific adjectives, suspense, foreshadowing, higher level vocabulary, adding a hook, sentence variety, etc.).
The left picture is the original, and the right picture is their revised version (you can click to enlarge and read). It is SOoooOOoo much better now! I was very proud of the work they were able to do. Each small group read their part and presented to the class the techniques they used/added. Then, students had a model/plan for how to attack revision successfully, and they went off to revise their own papers with a partner. I would do this again in a heartbeat!
4. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – In Social Studies class, I often try to work in Art History and art criticism techniques. We ‘read’ images and look for deeper meaning within the context of history. This week, we viewed this illustration from Uncle Tom’s Cabin as part of our unit on The Civil War. I had my students first identify what they see (just take inventory of what is here), then begin to comment on what the illustration might be trying to communicate about the different characters. The slave is depicted as old, feeble, weak, and on all fours like an animal. The slaveholder is standing, powerful, wealthy, ‘looking down on’ the slave, and about to kick the slave. We then discussed the impact of this image on various groups within society at that time – how the image would be viewed and interpreted. I think it is very important to discuss images with students to practice the power of inference.
5. Snuggle Time – Only 6.5 more work days, and this will become my life for a whole 12 day Winter Break! Yes, to them I am nothing but a treat-dispensing, door-opening, warm human dog pillow, but it’s the best job and someone’s gotta do it!
Only 13 days until Christmas, and the countdown continues….!
How was your week?
Howdy all Week 14 survivors! It’s that exciting time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas when classroom management requires some … creativity on my part. I think this meme sums it up quite well:
I do love this time of year, though. The ‘Holidays’ feel like magic, like home. I am excited to share some of this week’s highlights with you!
1. Revenge Review Game – To review for our assessment on the Constitution, my Social Studies class played the Revenge Review game. I split the class up into 8 groups and gave each group 8 Xs. When a team was ‘up,’ I gave them one review question; if they got it correct, they could erase 2 X’s from other teams (no suicide). The winner has the most Xs at the end of the game. I also allowed teams to earn back Xs when they ran out; if they answered a question correctly and rolled an even number on the die, they could earn back one X. The students had a LOT of fun with this! I think it’s going to be the new most requested review game!
2. Compromise Maps – As we are learning about the failed compromises that lead up to the Civil War, my students are completing maps to show the changes in the political boundaries within the U.S. These are from a new product in my store. Click here if you are interested.
3. The world’s best custodian – We really do have the world’s best custodian at our school. Joe is one of the nicest, hardest working, role-model men you will ever meet. The kids just love him. We left a bright, fun note on my board for him to see over the break. The students knew he would be lonely with the school empty, so they wanted to cheer him up. Isn’t that sweet?
4. Countdown – I officially began a Christmas countdown. If you are a fellow teacher, you know this is a dangerous thing (just like an end-of-the-year countdown). I told all of my students that they have X amount of days to think of a very thoughtful, homemade ‘gift from the heart’ for their parents. Think that’ll work on my 13-year-olds? 😛
5. Grandma’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie – Last week, as you know, was Thanksgiving. It was our first Thanksgiving without my grandmother, who passed away last November. I miss her and think about her every day. This year, I attempted her famous Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. It tasted like my childhood and I felt like she was there with us.
I’d love to hear about your Thanksgiving and your week!
You guys… Thanksgiving is only 6 days away! Less than a week! The excitement!!! With Week 12 behind us, I feel like the next month or so is just going to fly by! Before you know it, it will be time for the holiday break. Even though the days are growing cold and short, I still enjoy keeping up my High Five for Friday tradition to focus on the important highlights.
1. Vocabulary Loop Game – I was inspired by some elementary vocabulary loop activities I found on TpT and Pinterest, so I began searching for an 8th grade version. When I didn’t find one, I made my own! I have 35 laminated cards with vocabulary words we will encounter this year. Each student gets one card (some may get two depending on class size). As the first student reads out the definition on his/her card, the class listens to see if they have the matching vocabulary word. Then, the winner readers his/her definition, and so forth. The last card loops back to the first card. Sorry if that sounds confusing! The goal is to play this frequently and to beat our class record each time. I plan to add clear instructions and make this available on TpT soon (UPDATE: It is now posted here). We played it this week, and the students said it was both fun AND helpful!
2. 28th Amendment– This past week, I had my Social Studies class split into small groups and research/propose a potential 28th Amendment to our Constitution. Their class presentations included 3 pieces of evidence and an explanation of how the proposed amendment connects to the principles of our constitution. After a rigorous day of debating and voting, the class reached consensus on our new 28th Amendment: Legalize Gay Marriage. I was very proud of my wise, hard-working, respectful class!
3. Holiday Change Drive Update – We are continuing our school wide change drive to provide a holiday donation and gifts to the local Ronald McDonald house. The jugs are right outside my classroom, and I get to see students walking by all day long dropping their change in. It is so heartwarming to see! In case you are wondering, the girls are totally winning right now 😉
4. Book vs. Movie – This past week, we read “Battleground” by Stephen King, then watched the movie version (from Nightmares and Dreamscapes on TNT, which I purchased on Amazon). I had my students make a T-chart of all the differences they noted. Afterward, we discussed this handout that I made regarding reasons a director would make changes from the original text version (CCSS RL8.7 – click for this free download.). The students told me they had always wondered why there were differences, and they enjoyed trying to figure out the logical reasoning behind them (besides just assuming the director just ‘felt like it’).
5. First Snowfall– Most of the United States is under a cold snap and has received some snowfall this week. Wisconsin, of course, did not escape this fate. We have only an inch or so, but it is freeeeeezing (literally! it’s less than 10 degrees)! I just hate being cold. Dear Elsa, I do NOT want to build a snowman! I’ve even had to break out sweaters for the dogs. To highlight a silver lining, I will say that I do enjoy my winter fashion, from sweaters and boots to scarves and hats. I am also looking forward to a bit of a thaw coming up, as I was told we might return to the 40s soon.
Only 2 weeks until Thanksgiving! Well 1 and a half, really. Actually 7 and a half work days. But who’s counting? ME! We haven’t had a day off yet this year, and I’m so excited! More on my love of Thanksgiving later. For now, let’s celebrate making it through Week 11 with class and grace 🙂 I hope you all had a fabulous week as well!
1. Ronald McDonald House Fundraiser – For the holidays, my middle school has elected to run a change drive to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House. Instead of the typically grade war, we’ve made it into a gender war this year! The winning gender will get to choose our next spirit day. Half of the money we raise will be a cash donation, and the other half will be used to purchase necessities on the house wish list. This is the best kind of school activity to do around the holidays! The fundraiser will go until early December, giving us a whole month. Prepare to be amazed and what we can do, from our family to theirs 🙂
2. Learning LLI– This week I am getting serious about learning the Leveled Literacy Instruction system. I am preparing to begin interventions with a small group in the next week or so. LLI is totally new to me. If you have any words of advice or encouragement, I’d love to hear from you!
3. U.S. Government – This week, we began learning about the U.S. Government in my Social Studies class. I always find it fascinating, and we do our best to explore how these issues (Amendments, principles, etc.) are still applicable today. So far this week we have done the Bill of Rights Activity, the Checks and Balances Activity, and the Preamble Activity from my TpT store.
4. Parent Teacher Conferences – We held two evening conferences this week: Tuesday and Thursday right after work until 6:30pm. I’m wiped out! As much as I might complain about staying late at work, I do enjoy conferences and meeting parents. I have student-led conferences where they report on their own progress, questions, goals, and needs. It helps that they have a portfolio that they keep in my room with all their work and my feedback.
5. Hot Chocolate 15K Chicago – This past weekend, my sister, cousin, and I participated in the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago. Such a fun race! At the end, you get a Finisher’s Mug filled with hot chocolate, hot fudge, a banana, mini pretzels, crackers, and a Rice Krispie treat for dipping! It was so exhilarating to run through the streets of Chicago in the early morning, like we owned the town. Everyone was so kind and encouraging, and the race was run very smoothly. Apart from freezing our buns off in the windy city (weather app said it felt like 35 degrees with wind!), I have zero complaints or regrets. If this race comes to your town, go for it!
Do you ever get the urge to be creative? I know some people are just creative all the time, but I like to think that I’m a healthy mix of practical and creative. Unfortunately, the creative side doesn’t get as much face time as I would like. The result is that every once in a while, I get the ‘creativity bug’ and I go on a major binge. I’ll stay up late painting a mural, spend all afternoon knitting a hat, or find a new Pinterest project to occupy my weekend. A lot of these projects sit unfinished (shhh… let’s not talk about that…)
Well this weekend, I just felt like drawing. I love to draw. So I sat down and started drawing zoo animals. (I really desperately can’t wait to have my own kids so I can decorate their nursery!) Well after a while, I had a pretty great collection going! I made 25 total. Here are some samples, and some ideas of how I would use this in an elementary classroom, if I had one. These would be some really fun activities to do before a field trip to the zoo!
In Art, explore different art materials to create texture and shading.
Or, create a cool graphic design!
In Science, label the parts of the animal. Draw the animals habitat.
Write details in or around the animal about the lifestyle and eating habits.
In Language Arts, write a story or poem inside or around the animal.
Use the animal as an illustration in your own book.
Do a research project on the animal and use the printable as a note-taking sheet.
For Math, take a poll to see which animal is the class favorite. Use the animal printouts to make a giant bar graph. Use multiple printouts to represent proportions and ratios (ex. 1 lion to ever 5 elephants).
For Social Studies, research the current topics around an animal. Is it frequently in the news? Being used to help society in some way? Endangered? Create a large mural with several habitats, and allow students to place each animal correctly.
In Foreign Language, use the printables as posters with the target words (ex: name of animal).
For your classroom, determine each student’s favorite animal, write his/her name on the animal, and place it on the desk as a name plate.