Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bonus Sale on Lit with Lyns Resources

I wanted to let you know that for today only, you can get 25% off of all of my resources using the code BTSBONUS at checkout!

This is a great time to stock up and make your life a little easier as you head back to school. I have added several new activities that will help you out as you get started here.  Enjoy and I hope you all have a wonderful year!!!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

ELA Live Series- August, 2017

Want to make this year your BEST YEAR EVER!?!  Let us help you make that happen!  We have 15 experienced ELA teachers who will be coming to you LIVE each night on Facebook, beginning August 1- August 15th!  We will share our tried and true tips and teaching strategies to help make this school year the most successful yet!  Check out our schedule below, and make plans to head over to each educator's Facebook page at the specified time.

Aug. 1st at 9 pm EST
"Project Based Learning for Secondary English Classrooms" with Mud & Ink Teaching

Aug. 2nd at 9 pm EST
"Strategies for Writing Commentary for Literary Analysis" with Bespoke ELA

Aug. 3rd at 9 pm EST
"Ideas and Strategies to Incorporate Choice Reading" with Doc Cop

Aug. 4th at 9 pm EST
"Pinpoint the Source of Most Reading Problems in Five Minutes" with Reading Simplified

Aug. 5th at 9 pm EST
"How to Teach Students to Elaborate on their Thinking" with English, Oh My! 

Aug. 6th at 9 pm EST
"How to Run a Book Club" with The Reading and Writing Haven

Aug. 7th at 9 pm EST
"Encourage Independent Reading in Reluctant Learners" with Samson's Shoppe

Aug. 8th at 9 pm EST
"Using Showcase Projects to Increase Engagement" with Spark Creativity

Aug. 9th at 4 pm EST
"How to Publish Student Writing Online and Create E-Portfolios" with Amanda Write Now

Aug. 10th at 9 pm EST
"5 Hidden Gems (books!) that Both Teachers and Students will Love with 2 Lifelong Teachers

Aug. 11th at 9 pm EST
"Starting on the Right Track with Struggling Secondary (Dependent) Learners" with Secondary Urban Legends

Aug. 12th at 9 pm EST
"Back to School Digital Escape Room" with Lit with Lyns

Aug. 13th at 9 pm EST
"Conferring with Student Writers" with Wild Child Designs

Aug. 14th at 9 pm EST
"Giving Meaningful Feedback to Writers" with Read it. Write it. Learn It. 

Aug. 15th at 9 pm EST
"Grammar Manipulations: Holding Language" with Language Arts Classroom.

I hope that these tips and strategies help you have a smooth start to the new school year!  What advice do you have to help other teachers get their school year off to a good start?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Back to School- Digital Escape Room

You all know it's coming....wait for it....BACK TO SCHOOL time is just around the corner!  All good things must come to an end, right??  That being said, I started thinking about important items that I wanted to cover with my students over the first couple weeks of school.  My classroom is almost 100% paperless, so I knew that I wanted to introduce my students to technology almost immediately. Keeping that in mind, I decided to create a Back to School Breakout- Digital Escape Room.  I became obsessed with using Digital Breakouts over the last year and shared this with you when I used an escape room for ELA Test Prep.

If your students have never completed a breakout before, you may want to explain what this is. Digital Breakouts are based on escape rooms and involve students trying to use clues to crack multiple codes in a certain amount of time.  I'm usually pretty flexible with the time, but they can typically take about 45-60 minutes in my experience.

The Back to School Breakout includes the following:

  • A student survey, which will allow you to get to know them better
  • Tips that help students to be successful throughout the school year
  • Explains the importance of setting SMART Goals
To begin, students will go to a Google Form, where they will complete the Beginning of the Year Student Survey.  Students will be asked a series of questions which will allow you to get to know their interests, likes, dislikes, how well they understand and can use technology, etc.  Then once they get to the last question, they will be required to click on a link, which will take them to a jigsaw puzzle.  Here, they must put the puzzle together correctly, and once they do, they will see the code. They will be directed to enter the code on the Google Form.  Once they enter it in correctly, they will be taken to the second escape "room." 

In the 2nd escape room, they will be given a link to a video on tips for having a successful school year.  At the end of the video, they will be given the next code that must be entered in order to move on to escape room 3.  

The final challenge is to watch a video on setting SMART Goals.  I love introducing this at the beginning of the year, because this is something I refer to often.  My students update their SMART goals every quarter and modify them as necessary.  At the end of the video, they are directed to go to the Google Form and follow the directions in order to proceed.  On the Google Form, they are told to click a link in order to figure out what the code is.  The link will take them to a fake plane ticket. On the plane ticket, they are directed to look for a *hint that will help them with the final code.  Once they figure the code out and enter correctly, a "CONGRATULATIONS" message is displayed.  

This is a great way to get your students thinking right off the bat, while also being able to learn more about them, as well.  The best part about using Google Forms to have students input information about themselves is that it automatically saves to your Google Drive in a spreadsheet!  Each question is displayed, along with the students' names and their answers.  That means that you can refer to the info gathered at anytime throughout the year.  

What are your back to school staples?  I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Google Classroom- Showing Students How to Access & Use

A while back I blogged about how to add assignments in Google Classroom.  Today I posted a video that I plan to show my students at the beginning of the school year on how to access and submit assignments on Google Classroom.  I thought I would share with you, so that you'll have it to use if you would like, as well.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Digital Escape Room- ELA Test Prep

Escape Rooms have been the latest buzz in education.  I kept hearing teachers talk about them on social media, and then I had students come to school talking about how much fun they had going to them over the weekend.  Since I try to keep my classroom paperless, I decided to combine the two and create a Digital Escape Room for ELA Test Prep!  Kids dread nothing more than end of year testing...so why not make reviewing for these dreaded assessments something the kids will remember??!?  And how perfect that they can remember skills we need them to know for the test!!!

I watched several tutorials on setting this up digitally (Breakout EDU has some great info by the way), and this is what I came up with.

There are a couple of ways you can have your students complete the Digital Escape Room:
  • You can put students into groups.  Share the link to the Google Form via Google Classroom, on your class website, in an email, etc. with only the group leaders.  Then the group leader can share it w/ the other members.  That way they can all work on it together as a group, but still use their own device.  I would suggest no more than 4 students per group. 
  • Assign to every student. 
To begin, you will share the link to the Digital Escape Room Google Form with your students.  This is what students will see when they click on the link:
Here they will enter their name(s), and then click "next."  Once they click next, they will be taken to the screen below:

Next, they will click the link provided and will be taken to the first escape room-- a figurative language drag-and-drop matching activity.  They are required to match the correct definition w/ the appropriate word.  They will need to enter the first letter of  the word in that phrase. For example, the first box listed is the term “figurative language.” They would need to find the definition to figurative language, which is “writing that is not to be taken literally.”  The first letter in this definition is a w.  Therefore, the first letter in the code would be a w (they already have the first answer as I give them this in the directions).  Since there are 8 total examples, the code will have 8 letters.  When they enter the code, all letters must be lower cased.  If they enter the code incorrectly, it will say "Still locked!!"  Then they have to go back and see what they missed until they break the code.  Once they get it correct, they can move on to the next room.  

The 2nd escape room reviews point of view. Students will click the following link on the form, and then complete the point of view activity.  It requires them to read the passage, and then determine what type of point of view is being used.  

In order to break out, they will need to enter the first number of the point of view listed.  For example, if #1 is 1st person point of view, then they would type a 1.  There are 12 different passages, so the code will have 12 numbers. Once they enter the code correctly, they will be taken to the next room.

The 3rd escape room reviews text structureStudents will click the link on the Google Form and will be taken to the activity.  Then they will read the passage, and determine what type of text structure is represented.  

The 4th and last escape room covers main idea. Students will click the link on the Google Form and will be taken to the activity.  Once there, they will be given a link to a Times 4 Kids article that they will read.  After reading the article, they will answer 5 multiple choice questions.  In order to break the code, they will need to enter each answer choice.  There are 5 questions, so they will have 5 total letters.  For example– if #1 is a, then this is the first letter in the code.

Once they enter the correct code, they will see the "Congratulations! image!
My students completed this right before our state testing, and they absolutely loved it!  It proved to be a great way to prepare and cover the areas that were important skills to review beforehand.  If you would like to have your students enjoy some pre-assessment fun, while also getting a terrific review in, check this out here!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Digital Differentiation Using Hyperdocs

I recently had the pleasure of being a guest blogger for Performing in Education.  If you haven't ever checked it out, it's a terrific blog that focuses on project-based learning, hands-on activities, and ideas on how to keep your students engaged.  My guest blog discussed differentiating with hyperdocs.  If you haven't ever used these before, they're AMAZING and have totally transformed the way I teach.  Check out my blog post below:

*Before I even begin to get into Hyperdocs and how they work, I first have to say that they have totally changed the way I teach...and for the better!  This process has completely transformed my class into a blend learning environment, where my students are more engaged and ready to learn than ever before!  This "shift" integrated many of the 21st century strategies that we're constantly being told to use in the classroom, and it was done almost effortlessly...with planning, of course.  I'm so thankful for The Hyperdoc Girls who developed this strategy!* 

According to The Hyperdoc Girls, "Hyperdocs are a transformative, interactive Google Doc that replaces the worksheet method of delivering instruction." Hyperdocs allow students to work at their own pace while completing each of the activities and take the focus away from the teacher, promoting student-centered learning.  To give you a better idea of how to implement this, I'm going to go through the process I use when creating my hyperdoc resources.

How to Plan with Hyperdocs
  • Look at the standards that you need to teach, and then determine what methods you want to use in order to ensure students master these skills.  I determine what skills my students should know by the time they complete the hyperdoc activities.
  • I follow the Engage, Explore, Explain, & Apply structure when creating my hyperdoc resource.  Using this model, I typically include approximately 6 activities total.
  1. Engage- I start by engaging students at the beginning of the lesson with a link to a video that introduces the topic that will be discussed.  For example, if I wanted my students to understand point of view and how different points of view can change a story, I may include a video here that simply provides a brief intro about each type of point of view.
  2. Explore- This is where you include links to articles, videos, infographics, etc. that allow students to explore the topic. Sticking w/ the point of view topic, this is where I would pull from a variety of different online texts and tools, where students would be exposed to different points of view.  I may also include questions on the Hyperdoc that I create to go along with the text, and they answer the questions directly on their doc.  That way, I can keep track and provide feedback as they complete each task.
  3. Explain- At this point in the lesson, students will take a more in-depth look at the skills they are learning.  To further explain point of view, I would post a link to Edpuzzle.com where they watch a video and answer questions, which requires them to identify the different types of point of view that's used throughout the video.  I may also have students use digital task cards, where they would read an excerpt from a text, and then identify the point of view that's being used.
  4. Apply- To apply what they have learned, I might have students to create a collaborative story that shows their understanding of point of view, using a tool such as Piclits or Slidestory.  Both websites allow students to create stories using pictures.  Slidestory even allows you to narrate in your own voice.
Implementing Hyperdocs
My class recently started a unit we call, "Washed Away," which is based around realistic fiction novels about Hurricane Katrina.  Within this unit, students would be reading a realistic fiction novel called, Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana, which is about a family who experienced Hurricane Katrina.  I knew that my students, being 11 and 12 yr olds, weren't very familiar with the impact that this hurricane had on those that went through it.  With this in mind, I decided to begin the unit with informational texts that addressed this.  It was also a way for me to include nonfiction articles, since the novel they would be reading was fiction.  This is a great way to promote critical thinking skills, and they were able to work through each activity at their own pace.  You may also choose to let students work in pairs or groups.  Since hyperdocs are normally done on Google Docs or Slides, 1 student can share the doc with the other group members.  That way they're all working on the same document.

I typically assign the hyperdoc activities through Google Classroom.  However, you can also share this with students via your Google Drive account, Edmodo, by posting a link to your website, or using another digital program.  You can access a FREE video on how to assign in Google Classroom here.

Here's a sample of my Nonfiction Hurricane Unit:

I hope this post encourages you to try hyperdocs or another 21st century learning tool!  This has totally adapted the way I teach.  It also shows that even after 13 years of teaching, there are always ways to grow and learn as an educator.  To see more of my tips and resources, visit my blog, Lit with Lyns!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Differentiating with Google Classroom

As I shared in a previous post, my students have been working in digital literature circles with the books we're currently reading.  I typically allow them to work on their assigned reading/jobs about 3 days a week for approximately 20-30 minutes.  There are a couple groups who have finished their work early, and this is where the new Google Classroom feature comes in-- assigning work to individual students.

I can't tell you how excited I was when I found out that we could now assign work to individuals, groups, etc. without assigning activities to the whole class!  This makes differentiation a breeze!  Now, when I have early finishers, I have them choose from a couple of these Digital Reading Activities that work for ANY novel or short stories.

To assign work to individuals in Google Classroom, follow these easy steps:

For those of you who use Google Classroom, how do you plan to differentiate using this new feature?  I'd love to hear all about it in the comments below!