Thursday, December 8, 2016

Making Reflection Meaningful

Welcome to our Making Reflection Meaningful Blog Hop!  I'm so happy to be a part of this amazing group of teacher-authors and hope you enjoy our tips and ideas!

I begin to have my students reflect on the past year by using video journals.  Using videos for student journal responses is a great way to incorporate technology, while also enforcing 21st century learning. The video journal responses address various areas included in an infographic (goal setting, SMART Goals, resolutions, making positive changes, symbolism, etc.).  I have students complete the infographic once they have finished the journal responses.  You can find the Student Reflection- Video Journal Responses here.

Another activity I use is New Year's Character Reflection Task Cards This activity requires students to think critically about the character(s) from a story that have read or are reading, as well as to support their answers with evidence.  The task cards can be used at any time in the year, not just around the holidays.  For a free sample of these activities, click here.  

How do you reflect and set goals, not only for yourself, but for the classroom, as well?


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Laughing All the Way Blog Hop

I'm super excited to be linking up with some amazing teacher-authors to share some of our ideas and stories that we use leading up to the holidays...not to mention the chance to win a Target and Starbucks gift card.  We all know that this time of year can be extremely hectic, and it's important to find ways that we can all keep our sanity!

For the last week and a half or so before the holiday break, I begin to have my students reflect on the past year by using video journals.  Using videos for student journal responses is a great way to incorporate technology, while also enforcing 21st century learning. The video journal responses address various areas included in an infographic (goal setting, SMART Goals, resolutions, making positive changes, symbolism, etc.).  I have students complete the infographic once they have finished the journal responses.  You can find the Student Reflection- Video Journal Responses here.

I also have a similar activity that my students do with task cards, based on characters from a recent story that we have read.  The tasks encourage students to think critically about the character being addressed, and to support their answers with evidence. Approximately half of the cards require students to reflect on the character’s past year or the year to come. The other half focuses more on characterization, in general (types of conflict the character has been involved in, internal and external traits, etc.). *These task cards can be used at any point throughout the year, not just for New Years. *  For a free sample of this activity, click here

Make sure to enter the giveaway for your chance to win a Target or Starbucks gift card.  Also, check out the other blog posts to get more ideas and resources to use leading up to the holiday break!
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Monday, November 14, 2016

How to Add Assignments on Google Classroom & Put Students into Groups

For those of you who are new to the AMAZING Google Classroom (I know, I'm addicted), I created a video to show you how to add assignments, as well as how to put your students into groups in G.C.  I hope you find the video helpful!  I'd love to hear how you use Google Classroom in the comments!

Click the link below to view video:


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Best of the Best Secondary ELA Lessons

I'm SUPER excited to be a part of this amazing Best of the Best Blog Hop with such incredible secondary English teachers, hosted by Secondary Sara!   We're also giving away 3 $25 TPT gift cards!  I have learned so much from them, and it's awesome to be sharing our lessons together.  Our goal is to share our best lessons in order to help other educators gain tips and resources that can be used in their classrooms.

As a secondary English teacher, I want to develop strong writers.  In the 21st century, it's imperative that students understand how to implement complete sentences and paragraphs that are descriptive, well thought out, and demonstrate a variety in length and structure.  In order to be able to do this, they not only need to clearly identify the various parts of speech, but they also need to understand what constitutes a simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentence.  Because these aren't always the most engaging lessons, I wanted to come up with interactive and digital activities that students would not only learn from, but would also have fun while doing them.  This is how my Digital Grammar Skills & Parts of Speech Bundle was born.

My students absolutely LOVED these activities and have grown so much in the process!

This product includes:

• Capitalization Digital Task Cards
• Comma Digital task cards
• Quotation Digital Task Cards
• Subject & Predicate Matching Activity and Digital Task Cards
• Types of Sentences Matching Activity and Digital Task Cards
• Independent & Dependent Clauses Matching Activity and Digital Task Cards
• Types of Verbs Matching Activity and Digital Task Cards
• Types of Pronouns Matching Activity and Digital Task Cards
• Interactive matching activities on all 8 parts of speech
• Individual interactive activities on nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, verbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections
• Answer Key

Google Drive Info
• Instructions for both teacher and students on how to use in your class
• Link to activities
• Instructions for Microsoft OneDrive users
• Tips & Tricks for Teachers and Students

What are some of your favorite go-to activities?  I'd love to hear about them in the comments.  Make sure to "hop" by the other Secondary ELA blogs for more tips and resources, and enter at the Rafflectopter below for your chance to win one of the TPT gift cards!!!

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Spooky Story Lesson for Halloween

Every year I get so excited about Halloween, because there's so many fun activities that you can incorporate.  Around this time, the kids are usually pretty wound up, so it's always good to find lessons that will keep them focused.

For the last couple of years, I've used the 3:15 series by Patrick Carman, which is a collection of several multi-media short stories.  I first learned about this from the incredible, Erin Cobb of I'm Lovin' Lit.

What 3:15 stands for are the 3 elements that make up these stories:  listen/watch the introduction, read, and then watch the conclusion.  The 15 is because you're supposed to be able to do all this in 15 minutes.  But I'll be honest, my 6th graders haven't ever been able to do it that quickly.  I use this to teach story elements, which I go introduce prior to this story.  As I'm Lovin' Lit stated, this is a great story to use for teaching this skill, because the various parts of the plot are fairly easy to identify.  The ending is actually the climax and also leaves you with somewhat of a cliffhanger, wondering what may happen next. 

To have your students complete this lesson, you will need the following, which I have included here:
As they're reading/listening/watching the story, I have them fill in a story pyramid to check their understanding of story elements.  As a supplement to this, I also use these Digital Reading Response Task Cards, which address main idea, setting, main/minor characters, predictions, author's purpose, and more.

What spooky stories do you use around Halloween?  What activities go w/ the stories?  I'd love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review & Resources

I'm constantly looking for novels that will not only interest my middle school students, but my 5th grader, as well.  After reading The Dragon of the Month Club by Iain Reading, I knew immediately that this would be a great fit for both my students and my son.  It's a fantasy that's aimed towards ages 8-12; however, I can see both older and younger kids enjoying this book.  The book is also the first in a series, and now we can't wait to see what the next one holds!

Synopsis of book from the publisher:
The Dragon Of The Month Club, by Iain Reading, is the exciting first installment in a new middle-grade (ages 8-12) fantasy book series that tells the story of Ayana Fall and Tyler Travers, two best friends who stumble across an extraordinarily magical book and soon find themselves enrolled as members of a very special and exclusive club - The Dragon of the Month Club.

On the thirteenth of every month a new dragon conjuring spell is revealed and the two friends attempt to summon the latest Dragon of the Month. The varieties are almost endless: Air Dragons, Paper Dragons, Fog Dragons, Waterfall Dragons, Rock Dragons, Tree Dragons - not to mention special bonus dragons for all the major holidays, including a particularly prickly Holly Dragon for Christmas.

But one day when a conjuring spell somehow goes wrong Ayana and Tyler find themselves unexpectedly drawn into a fantastical world of adventure based on the various books scattered all across Tyler's messy bedroom. Travelling from one book-inspired world to the next with nothing to rely on but their wits and a cast of strange and exotic dragons at their disposal they must try to somehow find their way home again.

Drawing inspiration from some of literature's most memorable stories - from 19th century German folktales to the streets of Sherlock Holmes's London - the adventures of Ayana and Tyler bring these classic stories to life in delightfully strange and unexpected ways. Filled with fascinating detail and non-stop action these books will spark the imaginations of readers of all ages to inspire a life-long love of reading and seeking out books that are just a little bit off the beaten track.

This book is a great way to delve into an exciting adventure that the two main characters share, as they experience the different settings brought about as they travel from one "book-inspired world to the next."  Kids AND adults of all ages are sure to love escaping into this story.  

As we read the book, my students completed these digital and printable before, during, and after reading task cards that address the following:  main idea, setting, main and minor characters, compare & contrast, point of view, summarization, predictions, author's purpose, mood, and more.  It served as a great way to monitor students' understanding of the book.

For more info and to read an excerpt from the book, go to:

What fantasy books have you read w/ your students or children?  Fill me in in the comments below.  I'd love to have a running list to add to what I have for my students.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Creating Videos EASILY Using MySimpleShow

I recently found a GREAT tool that I have began using, and I just had to share with you!  I learned about Mysimpleshow from another great website called Cult of Pedagogy.

I'm always on the lookout for ways to incorporate videos and any kind of technology into my lessons.  My students have used GoAnimate, Powtoon, Power Point, etc. but most of these tend to be time consuming, and there always seem to be issues that arise in the process.  With MySimpleShow, this was not the case!

The Way it Works
Step 1- Draft- In this step, you choose whether the video you want to create is Professional, Educational, or Personal.  Of course, you would choose educational.  Then you choose what the main purpose of your video is:  educate somebody, introduce a topic, summarize a topic, or discuss a topic.
Next, you choose your "story line."  You can choose a blank template or one of the ones that are listed.

I chose to create my own.   Once you choose your story line, you move to step 2.

Step 2- Write- This is where you write your draft.  Each box explains what you need to include and also gives examples.

Step 3- Visualize- Using key words from your text, the program automatically selects pictures that you can include in the video, or you can choose to upload your own.
The picture above is from the video that I created for our team for Meet the Teacher night.

Step 4- Finalize- This is where you will choose how you would like the text read.  You can use their Text to Speech option, or you can record your own voice.  I actually had a student read mine, and it turned out pretty good.  

See our finished product below:

I'm planning to have my students use MySimpleShow to analyze a book we're reading and can't wait to see how it turns out.  What video programs have you used?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!