Friday, November 9, 2012

0 ELA Common Core Bulletin Board + Expanding my Blog!

I am lucky and blessed enough in the school district I'm currently in to have a special ed co-teacher who works with me as well as an amazing teacher assistant. I wanted to share the great work she did on a bulletin board for (Thanks, Becky!) Although I consider myself very thorough as a teacher, I sometimes am not the most organized or most artsy-creative person in the world. That's where my co-teacher comes in! I wanted to design a bulletin board that reminded students how to build an argument according to the common core- making a claim and using evidence to prove it.

I have also been teaching my 8th graders strategies I learned from the book Writing Analytically by David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephens (a book we used for professional development in the district I was in last year). This asks students to look for repetitions, binaries and anomalies in order to analyze a text. Believe it or not, the 8th graders are doing a great job with it.

Cooking adventures- healthy 'pepper pasta'

Lately I have really been thinking about expanding my blog from just teaching ideas to a broader view of my daily life including recipes, food, fitness information and workouts. I know there are a million blogs out there, but I enjoy doing it and want to weave writing (why I became an English teacher in the first place) into my life. It is a goal I have set for myself and I don't want to give up on it just because 'there are a million blogs out there'. I am really having a tough time thinking of what to name my blog! I want it to let readers know what I'm blogging about- cooking, working out and teaching. I think I can appeal to more people and get more people to read my blog if I also blog about these things. In the past year I have been teaching myself to cook as well as adopting a healthier lifestyle and I want to incorporate those things into the blog.

My first 5K

I am having such a hard time thinking of something..but when I do be prepared for my blog to be changed from just lesson plan ideas to a place where you'll find recipes I try out and workouts and ideas for health and fitness.

Any ideas for a blog name?!?!?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

0 Spooky Tell Tale Heart Lesson for Halloween

'arts,Edgar Allan Poe,famous people,famous persons,literature,men,persons,Poe,poets,text,writers

I've been planning for WEEKS and stressing out just to make sure I could do this lesson on Halloween. Things got a little derailed when we had an unexpected 'weather' day Tuesday due to the hurricane that didn't really hit us. But I was still able to do the lesson today on Halloween.

For the last three lessons we've been reading Edgar Allan Poe poems and studying his life. Today we read "The Tell Tale Heart" and watched a short You Tube Video that went long with it. The website  Knowing Poe has a great interactive audio along with text for this story. The students followed along and listened to the story and did 'sticky notes'. The interactive on the website allows you to add comments as you go along, so I would stop every now and then and ask students to share a comment. I really wanted to do this on the Ipads and students could have listened to it and done their own comments individually.....but you can't get Adobe Flash on Ipads and that's the program the website used :(

Then we watched a short You Tube video that was a 10 minute adaptation of the story. The kids enjoyed it and pointed out the differences.

Then we answered some close reading questions that I made up. This was one of the first items I put on Teachers Pay Teachers, and it is my best selling item! Check it out!

Tell Tale Heart with Questions

Maybe I should have charged more than a dollar! Happy Halloween
celebrations,cropped images,cropped pictures,decorations,Halloween,holidays,jack-o'-lanterns,PNG,pumpkins,special occasions,transparent background

Monday, October 22, 2012

0 IPad Apps for the Classroom

Today was a professional development day and I was able to play around with my Ipad and test out different Ipad apps to use in the classroom. Our grade level has a cart of Ipads to sign out, and the sixth grade in our school is actually getting 1:1 Ipads. I'd love to get 1:1 Ipads someday but right now it's not a reality, so I have to make do with what I have.

Here is a list of the ones I found most useful:

Voice Thread:
Voice thread allows you to record voice and make notes about a video or snapshot. It really doesn't do anything that amazing, but it's the creative ways teachers are using it that makes it cool. I plan on having students take snapshots of their narrative essays, and record their voice reading it and making comments on it.

They will do this for all their major assignments throughout the year and at the end of the year they will have a 'digital portfolio', with all their pieces of work and voice recording explaining the work.

You could also use it for class discussion about text- but it would require all students have their own Ipad and email addresses. You could take a picture of the text and have students write comments as you read. Here's an edutopia article regarding more you can do with Voice Thread.

QR Reader:
This is a rather simple one that most people have heard of. You can embed a code into a certain QR, then have students scan the QR code with the Ipad and it will go directly to the link/video/website that the QR links to.

This isn't much different than just giving kids the website or directions to find the video, but it's much easier and avoids the headache of students not typing in the address right, not following directions, etc.

You could do a scavenger hunt of QR codes around the room/school and have students do a sort of 'mobile' web quest.

Show Me:
Basically another avenue to annotate and record over pictures and/or diagrams. The only thing is you can only work with one 'slide' as opposed to many pages. This would work well if you wanted to record yourself doing a math problem in action or explaining a concept to students. You don't have to remember what you said each time, you can just record the notes and the conversation.
You can just this for white board notes and not have to re-write the notes for every class. This might be a good tool for teachers who teach in a lot of rooms.

If you have great Ipad apps and ideas that you are currently using in your classroom, please comment below! This is just a sampling of what I even did today...I know there are many more!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

0 Peer Conferences: Are they worth it?

Today we did peer conferencing in class with the narrative essays the students have been writing. Many times I've done peer conferences and realized after the lesson that it had absolutely no value and was a complete waste of time. The students are not teachers. Sometimes they don't give the best advice. Sometimes they give REALLY bad advice to each other.

For example, after peer conferencing in a lesson last year, a student showed me her paper. She asked me if the word 'I'm' needed to be capitalized because her partner had told her that it wasn't. Every time she had used 'I'm', her partner had drawn a big slash through the capital I......head slap.

And then you get the usual useless advice that students give each other like "It was good!" That doesn't really help anyone.

I've been training students to give comments to each other based on the items I've taught them and based on the rubric provided for their narrative essays. Using Angela Stockman's model of 'Warm and Cool Feedback' (see more about this here), I framed questions on an anchor chart that students will use to give feedback to each other on their essays. Examples for narrative would be:

Warm Feedback:

I liked how you used ________________________ to hook the reader.

Your dialogue in (this part) of the story was great.

Cool Feedback:

Could you maybe start your story with _____________________ instead?

What did you learn about life from this experience? (prompting students to come up with a theme)

These sentence frames allow students to give specific advice on the items on the rubric. Therefore when students go and make changes, the changes they make will automatically make their essay better ACCORDING to the rubric and the actual graded items.

My narrative common core rubric, as well as others can be found here.

What are your thoughts on peer conferencing? Waste of time, or worth it?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

0 Teachers Pay Teachers Experiment

Many people have mentioned to me over the past couple weeks about the teacher who became a millionaire by selling lesson plans online.  When I heard about this, I immediately thought about Teachers Pay Teachers. I know about it from doing this blog and visiting other blogs where teachers link to their TPT accounts in order to sell products and the ideas they have on their blogs. I have never been one to actually pay money for lesson plans for worksheets, as I really prefer making my own stuff. I will occasionally download stuff from TPT when it's free or really inexpensive (only if I REALLY want it). 

I figured I might as well go ahead and set up an account because I know there are a lot of teachers who like downloading or copying things that are pre-made. Since I'm already doing this blog I figured I'd give Teachers Pay Teachers a shot. I put up a couple things last week just for fun...and I actually got two sales so far! Woo hoo! 

I don't plan on making a million dollars.....but this is a way I can share some of the stuff that I talk about on the blog. I just recently put up a worksheet I used to help students find how writers use language to convey emotion. This is original work- you have to be careful what you put up because you can't sell something copied from someone else obviously! Well....we'll see how it goes! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

0 Amazing Common Core Standard Checklist!

I can't really take ANY credit for this amazing idea I'm about to was ALL my co-teacher's idea. I asked her permission to post it because I am obsessed with it. My co-teacher was wondering if there was a way to track how many times we had hit each standard in lessons, as well as pay attention to those we focus on more than others. We were looking for a simple document with all of the common core standards but couldn't find one. Then she came into my room with this outrageous creation:

It's kind of hard to see but she cut out the list of standards for each category (reading literature, reading informational, writing, speaking, listening and language) and glued them on to large piece of construction paper. Then she laminated it. To the right are spaces for me to tally when I hit a particular standard in a lesson. I can keep track of it every day. THIS IS GENIUS AND I'M OBSESSED WITH IT!!! 
Here's a shot of the whole thing.

Since these are laminated, I can erase and start all over next year! I just thought of the idea to use a different color for each marking period, so I can track which standards I hit each marking period. This will help me when I'm building my curriculum next year. Since it's my first year in this position, I am still building my curriculum as I go along. Next year I can determine which standards I want to fall in which marking period and make sure I hit the important ones every making period. 

AMAZINGGGGG!!!! That is all.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

0 Common Core Lesson: Providing Evidence

There is a lot of emphasis on students providing textual evidence for answers in the new common core curriculum. This has been the meat of my curriculum and lessons for the last month. It's surprising to see the shift from prior knowledge and inference skill level questions now back to the basic find it in the text questions. Personally, I think the latter are easier for the students so I'll welcome the shift. 

Along with the shift to text based question and answers is the shift in complexity of text. Students are being expected to read more complex and higher level texts. Included in the exemplars, and which I did end up teaching last week, is Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. The look on my students' faces when I told them they would be reading part of a book that I read in college was priceless!

Going along with the narrative theme, I chose an excerpt from An American Childhood by Annie Dillard. I used this excerpt to guide students into providing evidence for claims they make about a character.

Outside of foldable

I used this excerpt and read with students while they completed their sticky notes. We talked about personality traits and focused on Annie, the narrator and author's, personality. I used the 'What does it say, what does it mean, why does it matter?" comprehension strategy and had students make a foldable.I find that this keeps them engaged as opposed to just having them write it down on a sheet of paper.

Inside of foldable, not sure why it won't go the right way...

On the inside flaps, students wrote:

What does it say: They provided an actual quote from the text to support their inference about Annie's personality. 

What does it mean: They made an inference about Annie;s personality. 

Why does it matter: They extended their thinking to consider why this was important to the plot. 

Students are getting used to providing reasons and evidence for claims they make as they are reading. Hopefully they will continue to get better at this as the year progresses.


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