Top Teaching > 114 posts categorized "Lesson Ideas"

Start the Year With Super-Easy, Tech-Savvy, Six-Word Memoirs

Second graders shoot their digital six-word memoirs!How do you get the Twitter generation to write a memoir? Start with Hemingway and six words. Novelist Ernest Hemingway didn't tweet or text, of course, but he's inspiring students to write and share their life stories online. Reportedly challenged to write a story in just six words, Hemingway wrote: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." True or not, this legend lives on thanks to SMITH Magazine, home of the Six-Word Memoir project and a series of books, starting with Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith's Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure

You can use this pithy form of the memoir to get students to speak with confidence and build community, and to quickly set expectations for digital projects throughout the year. Read on for a short video excerpt and to scroll through a few of my students' favorite six-word memoirs dealing with issues ranging from divorce and death to self-image.

Above: Isaac, a 2nd grade director, and Emma, a 2nd grade cinematographer, shoot their six-word memoirs.

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What Can You Do to Nurture a Classroom of Readers?

IMG_2098Kids have to be allowed to read just for the pleasure of reading. Let them make their own choices on what they want to read as much as you can.

As I began moving my classroom to its new location, I found myself wondering how in the world I had amassed so much "stuff." I have a penchant for borders, colorful objects, and an interesting assortment of things I collected because "I might be able to use them sometime." However, my largest load, by far, was the books I have amassed over the years. It helped me realize what, in teaching, is closest to my heart: reading!

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Comments: 25

Evidence-Based Small Group Literacy Instruction: Measuring Progress and Growth

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It feels great to be back! This is my fourth year writing with Scholastic, and with each year I have written through the lens of a different grade level. My posts have detailed my time as a fourth grade teacher when I freshly transitioned from being a literacy coach, a third grade teacher, which followed my time teaching fifth grade, and now my current role of academic/literacy interventionist for a K-6 school. In this role, I am responsible for small group literacy instruction for select students in kindergarten through 6th grade. With the great responsibility of meeting individual student needs, and quality small group planning and instruction, there is little down time. With up to four small groups per grade level each day, it is possible that I need to create up to 28 lesson plans a day. How does one know what to plan? More importantly, how does one know what is successful? I am finding it critical to utilize evidence-based literacy instruction and assessment to guide instruction, and I'd like to share some tips on making the most of your time with small group work in your classroom. In this post I have included some printable resources and hands-on materials for literacy instruction as well.

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Comments: 2

No Money, No Time? No Problem! Five Fabulous Ways to Integrate Technology!


This kind of technology is a laughing matter!This fall, I will be teaching 280 tech-hungry students in a building without interactive whiteboards, limited electrical power, limited Internet access and just 10 Apple computers. Nonetheless, my students will learn to safely navigate the wild, wild Web; produce digital products (e.g. blogs, movies, podcasts) and take control of 21st-century communication tools such as Skype and Twitter. Read on for five fabulous quick fixes for teaching 21st-century skills in a low-tech classroom.  

My colleague laughs at the equipment in our new "technology" room! 

 

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Comments: 8

The Power of Playing with Words

WhatsInTheBag Welcome to my blog! I am so glad you stopped by! I am privileged to share with you some ideas and strategies about literacy which I have used in my own class, focusing on those that are easy to prep, readily available, and customizable. The topics come directly from the 1st and 2nd grade language arts standards and include Fluency & Word Recognition, Vocabulary/Concept Development, and Reading Comprehension. In addition, I also want to know what your needs are. Please post your comments and questions - if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who does and blog about it.

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Welcome Aboard! Decorating with a Classroom Theme

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Bon voyage! This school year we are setting sail with our year-long theme, “Cruising Through Kindergarten.” Read more and climb aboard our classroom ship for a fun-filled cruise through the school year. You can see some of our classroom theme decorations, bulletin boards, and future learning activities. In this post, you can also get a sneak peek at some future blog posts on my Top Teaching kindergarten and early childhood blog. Welcome aboard, matey!

 

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Comments: 7

Your Kids Can Do It: Quick, Free, and Easy Stop-Motion Videos

Stop_legoToday is not only my last day of teaching, but also my last day posting on Top Teaching for this school year. For my last post, I would like to share a fun classroom activity. As our year wrapped up, my students took some time to become more familiar with stop-motion animation. Using a free program, we were able to create stop-motion videos from start to finish in fewer than thirty minutes — and jazzed-up versions in less than an hour. With videos featuring Mother's Day messages, Harry Potter in LEGOs, and a demonstration of a llama's digestive system, this post will help wrap up the year in a fun and engaging manner. 

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Comments: 1

Saying Goodbye

BusWaveBye2TH[1] Over the years I’ve noticed that things tend to fall apart, socially speaking, at the end of the school year. Maybe you’ve noticed this phenomenon, too. This social disintegration is marked by short tempers, unkind words, and increased sensitivity and rejection. Rejection is one way students separate from and prepare to leave their classmates. We’re all exhausted and ready for a break, but it’s up to us to ensure that all students feel safe and accepted through the last day of school.

Here are several suggestions for helping students transition peacefully to summer vacation and to their next grade.

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Comments: 2

Interactive Whiteboard 101 — A Resource of Activities for Math Instruction

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Bring your math curriculum to life with your interactive whiteboard. In my last post, "Whiteboards 101: A Resource of Activities for Literacy Instruction," I shared numerous literacy Web sites and games to use on your interactive whiteboard. This week, click "read more" to see an extensive list of math games that will have your students out of their seats, up at the board, and exploring math concepts.

 

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Comments: 2

Redwall Day!

IMG_6858On the first day of school, eager 2nd graders ask, "Are we reading Redwall this year?" and beg, “When can we start Redwall?"

Throughout the year, my students continually bring up Redwall by Brian Jacques (pronounced Jakes). I explain they'll need to build listening stamina for long books before we can read Redwall. I want to give my students most of the year to mature. From past experience, I know Redwall will work best with 2nd graders who have become strong listeners and thinkers. I usually start this read-aloud in mid-March, hoping to complete the 300+ page book by the end of the school year. More than just a book, Redwall Day has become part of 2nd grade mythology.

Read on to find out about this book and  celebrating Redwall Day.

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Comments: 3

Finish Off the Year With Amazing Summer Reading Plans

CamilaplansWow! It’s hard to believe that it’s just about time to wrap up the year with summer reading plans. You've taught your students a ton of reading strategies this year and showed them what it means to be a good reader. You'll want to ensure that they keep up their reading stamina by making summer reading plans. With your help, they'll be excited to grab a new book along with their snacks and sunscreen and hit the beach. Let the summer reading plans begin!

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Comments: 2

Interactive Whiteboard 101 — A Resource of Activities for Literacy Instruction

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Welcome to the classroom of the present! Interactive whiteboards are all the rage at conferences like the International Reading Association’s Annual Convention, which was held last week in Orlando, Florida. My colleague Linda Foote and I presented four sessions of Whiteboard 101: Taking Literacy to the Next Level to a packed classroom of eager and enthusiastic teachers. Continue reading to get links to some great literacy content that you can use with your interactive whiteboard today!

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Comments: 4

Technology and the Great Outdoors

Bronx New Schoolers explore the great outdoors with digital field guides! This summer, rather than venture outside, many students will succumb to television-induced comas or play an endless series of video games. Research shows that today's students spend almost eight hours a day looking at some sort of digital media indoors. Author and naturalist Richard Louv says that kids today spend half as much time outdoors as they did twenty years ago! Louv calls the phenomenon "nature deficit disorder."

But contrary to what many critics are hollering, technology doesn’t have to be Mother Nature's enemy. In fact, technology may be her best PR person! Educators have used technology to make social studies exciting, to bring vocabulary to life, and to virtually eliminate school absenteeism. Now read about four fabulous ways technology can get your students outside and get them moving.

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Comments: 14

Planning for Next Year — Hogwarts' Houses

Hogwarts%202[1] Right now we’re immersed in state tests that will run through the end of May, leaving just enough time for field days, class plays, and an all-school meeting before students board their buses for the last time. Many of us are thinking ahead to next year as we discuss class lists, consider groupings, and receive room assignments. Some of us will move to a new grade or school.

So now seems like an ideal time to share an idea about setting up small groups for next year. Keep reading to find out more. . . .

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Comments: 2

Encourage Persuasive Writing With Movie Reviews and More!

JesusandJessicaLet a trip to the movies inspire your students to write fantastic reviews that will persuade others to either see the movie — or skip it! African Cats is a great film that celebrates family and fits in perfectly as Mother's Day approaches. Is it too scary for kids to watch? Or does it perfectly balance the beauty of nature and the harsh reality of survival in the African savanna? Plan a trip to see it, and teach your students how to write up a review of it. Can't make it to the movies? No worries! I'll share some other ways to get your writers to express their opinions through persuasive reviews. Grab a tub of popcorn, and let's get started!


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Comments: 5

How to Make a Music Video in Five Simple Steps

Dominique and her mentor, cinematographer and parent A. Carlton, shoot a music video. Do the names Willow Smith, Selena Gomez, or Justin Bieber pop up in class discussions? Are the folders or book bags in your school plastered with images of singing/dancing Disney and Nickelodeon stars? If so, you are not alone. Today's students have been raised on a streaming media diet of MTV, BET, and other channels that promote prepubescent superstars. American Idol and overnight YouTube sensations like Justin Bieber plant dreams of stardom in young minds. Thus, it is inevitable that students will ask, “Can we make a music video?”

Use that curiosity and taste for fame to unlock hidden talent, skyrocket self-esteem, and discover the work involved in producing a music video. Read on to view videos produced by a group of talented Bronx youngsters and to note helpful tricks for moving students from passive media consumers to critical, powerful music video producers.

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Comments: 3

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

MEXC0001[1] Cinco de Mayo, May 5th, is a Mexican-American holiday celebrated in the southwestern states and in U.S. cities with large Mexican-American populations. It's a much bigger holiday in the United States than in Mexico. Cinco de Mayo commemorates a surprise victory of the Mexican Army led by Benito Juárez over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Sometimes we confuse this special day with Mexican Independence Day, which is celebrated throughout Mexico on September 16.

Read on for easy ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at your school.

 

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Comments: 4

Explore Poetry That Turns the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary — Write an Ode!

LenaandgenessiswriteodesDuring the last week of Poetry Month, have some fun creating odes with your students. Take the time to assess, use a mentor text you love, and invite your students to notice strategies poets use. Then it's on to the writing and to providing feedback. Your students will enjoy the revising, editing, and publishing phases and finish up with a powerful poetry reading. Let's get busy turning the ordinary into something extraordinary by writing fantastic odes!

 

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Using Video Clips to Build Bridges and Activate Schema

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Students' prior knowledge can help or hinder learning.

Carnegie Mellon’s Learning Principles

When you want to learn how to do something new, where do you go? Chances are you head right for the Internet. More specifically, to videos. There is something about watching a video that explains things better than just reading. The visuals combined with the information, either told or written, helps many people to grasp the concept they need to learn.

Well . . .

Your students are the same! Read on to see how one- to three-minute video clips can assist your students in building the background knowledge necessary for them to learn the content you're teaching.

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Comments: 25

My April Top Ten List: Going Green at School

  
FourthWhile it's certainly worthwhile to use Earth Day to help students understand the importance of “going green,” it’s also crucial to encourage students to be environmentally conscious throughout the year. In this post, I will share a variety of projects and activities that my own school has implemented to become an official “green school” in Michigan. I hope you can use these ideas to help your school go green, but I am also looking forward to reading your comments and seeing how schools around the world are helping to save our planet.   

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A Visit to Bronx Arts

P4130042 This week I visited Bronx Charter School for the Arts in Hunts Point, a Bronx, NY, neighborhood. I was there to attend their Arts Education Conference, which coincided with the school's Arts Week. During our visit, the other conference attendees and I got to see the arts in action.

In this post, read about a few of the discoveries I made at the Arts Education Conference that might interest you, whether you're an arts educator or a classroom teacher. I’ve also included links so you can find out more. 

Photo: Art gallery with aboriginal-style paintings.

 

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Comments: 6

Celebrate Earth Day by Teaching Kids to Make a Difference

DontlitterposterAs we approach Earth Day, this Friday, April 22nd, join me in educating students on the impact we have on our environment with a Promethean flip chart and some powerful photographs of animals in trouble. And get your markers and crayons ready so your students can create posters that will educate others about why we all need to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Hooray for Earth Day! 

(I must warn you. Some of the images in this post are heartbreaking and difficult to look at.)

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Comments: 4

Cure Review Boredom With Games Created by IWB-Ready Tools

 
IMG_0705Are your students not enjoying all the review and test prep going on right now? Is it like pulling teeth to make reviewing concepts interesting? Well, this post is for you! Come take a look at some fun and easy online games created using templates. They'll catch your students’ attention and make reviewing an exciting learning opportunity. Whether you are preparing for state testing or just end of the year assessments, these games are just what the doctor ordered for that review boredom.

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Comments: 5

Poetry in 140 Characters!

Try Twitter Poetry!Using Twitter in the classroom? Combine Haiku with Twitter and you've got engaging and easy poetry for your digital natives. Haiku is approximately seventeen syllables of traditional Japanese poetry; Twitter has a 140-character format. Combine the two to make "Twaiku." "Twaiku" is fun for kids and adults. And yes, there's an application for it. Check out Tweeku on iTunes!  

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Comments: 14

Writing List Poems That Are Better Than OK

JustinbahbinokbookFor the second week of Poetry Month, I’ve got a plan for creating list poems that will allow your students to showcase their creativity as well as the qualities that make them unique. This week's activities involve writing, editing, revising, publishing, and some watercolor painting, so get ready for a busy classroom filled with lots of fun. With the help of one of my favorite authors, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, we’ll get our writers creating poems that are "better than OK”! 

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Comments: 4

April Book Picks!

SpringbooksApril is finally here! We’ve had a cold and snowy winter in NYC, so we are welcoming the spring weather with open arms — April showers and all.

This month’s booklist will help you explore all this month has to offer. We’ll kick off Poetry Month and plan Earth Day activities. Did you know that April is also National Humor Month? Many of my picks will keep your students laughing right along with you. Click on the links to find out more about the authors and illustrators featured this month, and be sure to grab some free resources from their sites. Happy spring! 

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Comments: 6

Digital Poetry — Make Words Zoom and Fly Across the Room!

Bronx New Schoolers recite "Sugar Cookies" by Dominique and Sharlene.All you need is a computer, projector, and an Internet connection to give students the power to make their words larger than life. Digital poetry can turn a typical school poetry slam into a multimedia event. Read on to captivate the most tech-savvy wordsmiths, grab links for your interactive whiteboard, and partake in some 21st century word play.

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The Celebration of Teaching & Learning — Dr. Oz and Much, Much More!

InspiringLast week I had the opportunity to attend the 6th annual Celebration of Teaching & Learning in New York City. There were over 150 exhibits to explore and many workshops to attend. Some of the world's best thinkers and practitioners spoke, and educators joined together to gather ideas and resources to use in their classrooms. It was an incredible experience, and I truly wish I could have taken you all there with me!

Check out the wonderful organizations, incredible speakers, cool sites, and innovative resources that stood out on this very busy day.

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Behind the Scenes, Part 4 — Filming Your Movie

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Lights, Camera, ACTION! You’re ready to start filming! This is an exciting time, especially for the students, but there is still a lot of important learning and planning at this stage. Read more and find out how you can prepare your students to film your class movie in a smooth and successful way.

 

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Comments: 47

My March Top Ten List: Nonfiction Reading Resources

IMG_0029Last month I shared my favorite resources for teaching fiction reading, and this month I'm focusing on nonfiction. Students (and teachers) often choose to read fiction texts in the classroom, but it is crucial that we expose our students to nonfiction texts as often as possible.

Nonfiction texts allow children to experience the wonder of the world. Facts come alive when books about animals, people, or objects are read to children. Nonfiction texts build on children's interests and increase vocabulary and background knowledge. When we help our students become proficient readers of nonfiction texts, we help them become successful at school and in the “real world.” Research shows that about 85% of what adults read on a daily basis is nonfiction. Teachers have a great responsibility in teaching students to tackle this genre.

READ ON to check out resources for teaching nonfiction reading concepts, including posters, links to great Web sites and articles, printables, an exciting new way to make current events interactive, and much more!

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Comments: 10

Working Together and Using Technology to Understand What Is Happening in Japan

JapanbeforeandafterDevastating videos, images, and stories are coming out of Japan. Educators are looking for just the right way to teach students about the earthquake and tsunami as well as the growing concerns about the nuclear reactors. We know that covering current events through activities that incorporate listening, speaking, reading, and writing can increase literacy skills in the classroom. But how do we use online resources to tackle difficult topics with sensitivity and heart?

This week I'll share my experiences working with a 3rd grade class to study the events in Japan. Check out images from my flipchart, click on links to online resources, and download activity sheets that will have your students collaborating in groups and using technology to understand the effects of the earthquake and tsunami on the people in Japan.

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Behind the Scenes, Part 3 — Writing the Script and Storyboarding

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Have you ever seen extremely motivated student writers? The opportunity to bring their writing to life on the big screen is highly engaging and meaningful for students. Read on to learn how my kindergartners wrote the script for our class movie, with attention to "showing" and "telling" writing, and how we storyboarded it out to assist us in the next step — filming our movie.

 

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Comments: 9

Classroom Walkthroughs

2003510191[1] This year as a new curriculum director I’ve visited more classrooms and observed more teaching than I’ve observed in my entire career! Having been an elementary teacher for more than 20 years, I’m at home in classrooms. Five-minute walkthroughs give me surprisingly accurate snapshots of what’s happening in individual classrooms as well as entire schools.

If your principal conducts regular walkthroughs, you're familiar with this observation model. You already know that frequent, short visits enhance your development as a teacher and learner. And walkthroughs are more manageable than longer, formal observations for teachers, administrators, and coaches.

Whether you’re familiar with walkthroughs or not, keep reading to learn what I (and your principal) might note during a walkthrough.

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Comments: 4

Conducting Interviews to Honor the Amazing Women in Our Lives

BulletinboardwomenshistoryinterviewsIt's mid-March, and our Women's History Month celebrations are in full swing. "March Book Picks!" had us researching big names in history as well as reading books by spectacular authors. This week we'll give students the opportunity to honor the incredible women in their own lives.

Whether they've been inspired by their mothers, aunts, grandmothers, or teachers, this is the time for your students to share the stories of the great women in their lives. In this project, we'll create questions for our interviews and ask these special ladies to give us advice based on their personal experiences. Click on my downloadable templates to get your budding journalists started on an important interview.

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Behind the Scenes, Part 2 — Creating a Rubric

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 “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” This is a common saying about how the acquisition of knowledge is empowering.

One way to empower students is to involve them in the process of analyzing their learning and evaluating their work. When they do, true learning takes place, way beyond the intended curriculum. READ ON to see how you can create rubrics with your students to evaluate student-created videos, writing, or other projects. Included are two examples of rubrics my kindergarten students made to evaluate their digital photo story and our class movie.

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A Fun, Practical Way to Teach Sources

IMG_2267If you ask your students how they find answers to questions they wonder about, it's a sure bet that the phrase "Google it" will be mentioned first and foremost. In many ways, technology has made life easier — we're always just a key word and a click away from the answer. On the other hand, many students lack the skills necessary to use resources such as an atlas, thesaurus, world almanac, dictionary, and library catalog. To help your students REALLY understand how and when to use these resources, consider this incredibly fun and engaging game my students played with our school librarian.

Photo: Students race to find an answer to a question using the most effective source. 

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March Book Picks!

MarchbooksMarch is a busy month filled with many special dates. This month's booklist will help you collect resources to plan lots of fantastic activities. We kicked off Women's History Month with Ruby Bridges last week and will continue to teach our students what it takes to be successful in the face of adversity. We'll also look at the Mardi Gras celebrations and learn about the Irish traditions we can all participate in on St. Patrick's Day.

Click on the links to find out more about the incredible authors featured this month and to gather downloadable resources to learn what makes March such a special month. We'll look at poetry, nonfiction texts, legends, folktales, and interactive whiteboard activities that will get your students excited about learning and on the search for their very own pot of gold! 

 

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Comments: 2

Behind the Scenes, Part 1 — Finding a Topic

IMG_0646Are you interested in creating movies with your students, but not sure where to begin? Do you feel as though you don't have time to create movies with all the curriculum and standards that you need to cover? Take a look at this first post in a series about filmmaking with students. In this series, I will walk you through the process of creating a movie with your class so you feel confident in creating student films.

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Comments: 2

Teaching Moon Phases

AddiMoon phases seem to be taught across the grade levels. My son is in 2nd grade and recently completed a study, which included keeping a moon phase log each evening and creating moon phases using Oreo cookies. As I have taught grades 2–6, I dedicate this post to the various ways you can teach moon phases in the classroom. This includes my FAVORITE activity, building a moon phase transporter, as well as some great music resources and videos (four videos, to be exact).


 

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Comments: 2

Ready . . . Set . . . Revolution 2.0 Reporters!


Revolution 2.0 Reporters! My 5th grade students must document a pressing social issue (e.g., bullying, sexism, racism, smoking) using Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. For their attempts to change the world through short movies, Microsoft awarded us $10,000. The most difficult aspect of this lesson was not in writing, shooting, or editing, but in helping kids realize their power to sway opinion and prompt positive action. Weeks later, they realized their ability to influence, impact, and organize a community for positive change, to stand up for their rights, to start a movement or even overthrow a tyrant! This lesson was priceless. 

Whether students are buzzing about the myriad protests around the world, American patriots in history class, heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, or teacher rallies in Wisconsin, provide them with ample time and tools to investigate how ordinary people have prevailed in times of upheaval. If you've got a Mac computer and two 40 minute periods, you can EASILY create iReports of protests around the world. iReports force students to condense their retell of confusing world events into coherent 60 second sound bites. Read on for three steps for using simple technology to thoroughly digest and retell these stories of revolution.

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10 Questions for Diane Johnson, Iditarod Dir. of Education


Diane Johnson Since 2005 Diane Johnson has been Director of Education for http://iditarod.com.
Even though it’s her busiest time of the year, Diane graciously answered questions about the Iditarod and her role on the web site.  She talked about teaching the Iditarod, and teaching in general.

Read interview with Diane...

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Comments: 2

March Is Women's History Month! Celebrate With Art, Literature and Ruby Bridges

ArttiashaMake the transition from Black History Month to Women’s History Month smooth by revisiting your lessons on Ruby Bridges to learn more about her courage, strength, and impact on education at such a young age. With the teachings from last month set as the groundwork for this lesson, ask your students to step into Ruby's shoes as they paint a scene from her life and give her a voice. Get out the watercolor paints and celebrate this great woman in history!

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Comments: 10

Filmmaking — Stop-Motion to Bring Curriculum to Life

IMG_0652Stop-motion has long been used to entertain children and adults on television and in the movies. Think back to Gumby or the cute Christmas specials, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and The Year Without a Santa Claus. All of those were done by using the stop-motion technique of filming. This year my kindergarten class has been interested in stop-motion. We are currently in the process of creating a stop-motion movie to learn about plants using candy. Click to read more about stop-motion and see some student examples of how this exciting filmmaking technique can be used in the classroom.

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Comments: 53

My January Top Ten List: Writing Lessons and Resources

OliviaWriting Workshop is something my students can count on nearly every day. It is a time when they can develop important ideas and relive small, memorable moments from their lives. It is also a time when there are not a lot of rules, as writing is the most open-ended subject I teach. While my students are asked to write within a specific genre, the freedom to express themselves in their own creative way is often liberating. However, there are always those students who find it difficult to perform when they are not given prescribed directions and are instead asked to come up with ideas on their own. This month’s top ten list includes a variety of writing lessons and resources that will challenge your top writers and motivate your reluctant writers as well.

READ ON to find creative mini-lessons, useful printables and posters, interactive whiteboard resources, ideas for incorporating technology into your Writing Workshop, and links to cool Web sites where students can publish their work and receive tips from published authors.

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The Powerful Pull of Sled Dogs!

4-Husky[1] Not surprisingly, many students are drawn to the Iditarod and become avid Idita-fans because of their interest in sled dogs. Children love animals, and dogs that are born to run are captivating!

This week I’m blogging about the true heroes and athletes of the Iditarod, sled dogs. I’ll share an Adopt-a-Dog Journal, an idea sent in by an Alaska teacher, and explain the Idita-harness, a kinesthetic experience you'll want to share with your students.

Read on to find out more . . .

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Comments: 14

Engaging Student Writers With Blogging

IMG_0374Which is more motivating to you? Just writing for your teacher? Or, writing for readers all around the world? Which piece of writing would you spend more time and energy on? More than likely, your students feel the same.

Tap into students’ digital world by bringing blogging into your classroom. Read on to get examples of how seamlessly blogging can be integrated into your curriculum. Also, find out how adding a worldwide audience automatically increases students’ engagement in their writing.

 

Award graphic courtesy of adrianbruce.com.

 

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Comments: 8

Iditarod Excitement Is Building!

Images[5]Every spring my group of excited 2nd graders and their enthusiastic parents prepare for the Iditarod, a 1,100 mile sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. There’s so much I want to share with you about the Iditarod and what we study and learn that I’m planning to write several posts about the race.

For ten years I've studied the Iditarod with my class as a way to teach standards for media literacy, language arts, and character education. Students learn how to navigate a complex Web site independently and follow links under my supervision. Students write musher profiles and sled dog poetry. Everyone picks a musher to root for and follow for the duration of the race. They graph Alaska’s daily temperature and wind speed and compare Alaska's weather to our own. As students follow mushers’ progress, they learn about perseverance, practice, courage, and hard work. They sing, dance, and shout about the Iditarod. Students even pull one another around the gym on carpet-square "sleds"!

Read on to find out more. . . .   

 

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Comments: 8

Differentiate Instruction With Paper Choice and Get Ready for President's Day

PresidentbooksPresident’s Day is less than a week away. Are you ready to teach your students about great leaders in history? Have you been looking for ways to talk to your students about the protests in Egypt? Let’s use this special day to inspire children to think about what it takes to be a great leader. I'll share my book choices here, as well as downloadable resources and links that will help you scaffold your students’ learning while differentiating instruction. If you think about it, we are educating future leaders! So make the time to plan for these lessons today.

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Comments: 8

Finding the Balance on Teaching Vocabulary

ReadingsaladWith any skill we are entrusted to teach, the issue often becomes finding the best and most efficient route, among all the possibilities, to "getting it in." Helping my students become more strategic in their vocabulary acquisition is a large goal for me each school year. I'd like to share some ideas we have incorporated both this year and in the past. Your students CAN learn up to 4,000 new words this school year. Read on to learn how.

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Comments: 34

My February Top Ten List: Resources and Lessons for Fiction Reading

IMG_0061 While nonfiction, poetry, and author studies are very important components of my curriculum, my 3rd graders still get totally excited about fiction texts. However, as students mature as readers, it is important to move beyond reading fiction just for fun and really encourage them to think more deeply about their fiction texts. Focusing on character development, building comprehension through reading partnerships and book clubs, and weaving in technology can make your fiction genre study very powerful for your students.

READ ON to see highlights of my fiction genre study and to look at reading partnerships and mystery detective clubs. You will find lots of printables, links to useful Web sites, lesson plans, and photos.

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