Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Oh Technology

I love technology but sometimes it fails. Last summer I had a hard drive crash and lost a lot of teaching materials.  I tried every possible rescue option, but it simply was lost.  Many of the materials weren't backed up elsewhere (like dropbox) and I've painfully learned my lesson.

However, there is a silver lining.

I did find paper copies of nine different teacher guides while sorting through my teacher materials.  I'm retyping them and revising to ensure that they're up to my standards.  Teacher guides that I made a few years ago need some revision, plain and simple.  As I've learned more, I've taken this knowledge and poured it back into my products.

The upcoming teacher guides are:

The Bad Beginning (#1 in the Series of Unfortunate Events)
The Reptile Room (#2 in the Series of Unfortunate Events)
The Wide Window (#3 in the Series of Unfortunate Events)
The Austere Academy (#5 in the Series of Unfortunate Events)
The Vile Village (#7 in the Series of Unfortunate Events)
The Hostile Hospital (#8 in the Series of Unfortunate Events)
The Carnivorous Carnival (#9 in the Series of Unfortunate Events)
Brian's Winter (a sequel to Hatchet)
The River (a sequel to Hatchet) 
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (#1)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (#2)

All guides will be available within the coming weeks on TpT!  You can follow my store and get emails from TpT as soon as I upload products.

Happy reading!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fact and Opinion

Differentiating between facts and opinions is a concept some of my students struggle with.  Often times they would claim a statement is a fact because to them, it is true.  Based on many, many conversations and reflecting on these teachable moments, I have my students do a "fact check" before determining if a statement is a fact or an opinion.

To be a fact, the statement must: 
-be correct
-be able to be proven, observed, or measured

To be an opinion, the statement expresses a belief.  Even if the statement is true for an individual or a group, unless it's true for everyone, it's not a fact.

This seemed to help clear up some of the confusion.

One activity I like to use is FCRR's fact and opinion football game.  As extensions, I have students write out their own statements for their teammates to sort.

I used this activity in summer tutoring today with great success until...

My helper showed up. 

I've been having a great time tutoring.  It's teaching, but much more relaxed.  I'm focused on skills and what my student needs.  There are notions of just opening a home school that flutter around in my mind until I realize how much "help" I'd have from my fur children...and that dream quickly vanishes.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Happy Birthday Percy!

August 18th is Percy Jackson's birthday and that calls for a celebration!  So bust out some blue cupcakes and head on over to my TpT store for 15% off all Percy (and co) products.  Teacher guides, sorts, and chronological order sorts are included for The Lightning Thief, the Sea of Monsters, the Titan's Curse, the Battle of the Labryinth, the Last Olympian, the Lost Hero, the Son of Neptune, the Mark of Athena, the Red Pyramid, the Throne of Fire, and The Serpent's Shadow!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Classroom Library

This year is the first year I actually have to organize my classroom library.  I'm excited and a little terrified about this daunting task.

My expected end result is something like this:

But on a larger scale (and with a polka dot rug of course!)

I want to see what books are at my school and in my classroom before I begin hauling over boxes.  I want to meet my students and learn their book levels before stocking my shelves so I know what books to bring for which students. 

I did revise my checkout list:

Which you can snag for free here!  (Just please give feedback)

I will be organizing my library by AR level using this super helpful website.  To make my life easier, I am putting sticky labels on the inside cover with the AR quiz number, AR level, and a helpful return to Ms. Vice sticker (just in case).

I have some super cute striped bins that I'll be using to sort by AR level (and author).

Some other ideas for your classroom library:

1) Using plastic bins, color code for informational and literature.  

You can find bins at dollar stores, then use spray paint to make them match :)

2) You can also use these plastic bins to color code by AR, DRA, or lexile level.  That way students know which books are "just right" for them!

3) You can also organize thematically:


4) Use stickers on the spine labels to color code your books with your management system.  I'll be using AR levels but you can do DRA, lexile, author, etc.

Of course, you'll want to make your classroom library an interactive place where students want to be. 

One of my favorite ways to do this is with a quote wall:

Black butcher paper (or poster board), cute border, and metallic sharpies = perfect place for students to record their favorite quotes from their books.  In doing so, they're encouraging others to read that book as well!

I also want to make this print:

Because who doesn't love a Harry Potter reference?

Good luck!


Simplicity, part 4 (ideas 11-13)

Continuing the new ideas, simplicity trend, here are three more ideas for next year.  I'm excited for small tweaks to make a huge, positive differences.

Idea 11: Beginning of the Year "I am" statement for writing notebooks

This would be such a cute first page in their writing notebooks.  It'd be great for students to see themselves as multidimensional people and an easy way for them to get to know each other!

Idea Twelve: Clothespin revival

I've tried the push pin strategy with clothes pins, but I like this one for more permanent places:

Since I moved recently, I seem to have a plethora of extra command strips!  I could easily decorate the clothespins to match my classroom colors (once I you know, determine those).  Thanks Fifth in the Middle for the idea!

Idea Thirteen: Morning Memes

 To be fair, this isn't entirely a new idea for next year.  Last February, I started doing a morning meme to add some positivity in the morning.  They were a great way to connect with students and reinforce various topics (rules, grammar, being nice, etc).  The memes would inspire my students to talk with one another and start our day on a positive note.

I've been pinning ideas to my Pinterest morning meme board, which you can follow here!

What new ideas are you excited to try?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Teacher Guides and Centers (Kane Chronicles)

When I was younger, I was obsessed with Ancient Egypt.  From mummies to scarabs to Nefertiti, I simply couldn't get enough.  I was giddy with excitement when I discovered that one of my favorite authors, Rick Riordan, has a trilogy based on ancient Egypt.

I was fortunate enough to get to read The Red Pyramid with a small group in May but we ran out of time for the sequels...which naturally found their way onto my summer reading list! 

I am pleased to announce two new teacher guides with matching chronological order sorts are now available on TpT!

The first is The Throne of Fire, the second in the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan.

In this much anticipated sequel, Carter and Sadie Kane are off to save the world again before ancient Egyptian gods and monsters destroy it.  By blending witty commentary with a fast paced story line and amusing characters, Riordan doesn't disappoint!  I can't wait to dive into The Serpent's Shadow next!

This novel guide is 31 pages and includes vocabulary, homework ideas, and comprehension questions (with answers) for each chapter!  Extension ideas are also included. 

To accompany this novel, I created a chronological order sort where students must put 26 events from the novel in order.  This helps students analyze how events build upon one another in the novel and how the author reveals the plot via characters.  (RL 5.5)  An answer key is included to alleviate arguments and this can be used as a summative assessment for comprehension or a collaborative center for students while the teacher pulls small groups. 

Since I loved The Throne of Fire so much, The Serpent's Shadow was a natural next choice.

Things are worse than ever for the Kanes, with Apophis rising and a crafty magician to keep track of!  Rick Riordan does a wonderful job at wrapping up this trilogy while imbedding subtle hints at the world of Greek mythology.

Snag the teacher's guide and the chronological order sort now!

I also created a "who am I" game with 25 characters from the trilogy.  Students guess the character based on the given clues. I also included an answer key.

I was on such a role with analyzing characters that I also made this sort:

Students can independently or collaboratively sort the terms (smaller cards) into the characters that are being described (larger cards).  Snag it here!

Happy reading :)