Top Teaching > 30 posts categorized "Lesson Plans"

The Common Core Crosswalk

  Blow_iStock000011442357_kidsandflagAligning curriculum to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is a complex, yet rejuvenating journey, and one that should not be traveled alone. My summer quest to align my curriculum resulted in many trials and tribulations; however, it was a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with colleagues to strengthen our educational system, and we had the satisfaction of knowing that we were paving the way for others.

Read on to watch a video illustrating my crosswalk process — that, is the process of aligning previous units, identifying gaps, and eliminating less important content — and to download the graphic organizer that guided me through this complicated process.  

Image: iStockphoto © KeithBishop.

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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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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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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: 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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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: 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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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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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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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: 9

Finding THE MEssage: Grasping Themes in Literature

IMG_2230With state testing fast approaching, I have found myself carefully analyzing our benchmark assessments for instructional focus. One of our identified areas to address includes identifying the theme of a passage. Being new to the grade level, I wasn't sure if this went beyond my familiar 3rd grade goal of understanding a fable. After some work and research, I'm ready to share how you can teach theme in the upper grades. This post includes SMART Notebook files (also in PDF form), a project idea, and printable graphic organizers and posters.

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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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Comments: 6

Having Fun With Fluency! Part 2 — Strategies Readers Will Enjoy

FluencystrategieschartLast week, we had the opportunity to learn more about the components of fluency instruction in our reading work, as we watched the replay of Teacher Talks Live Webcast Series: Tim Rasinski on Fluency. This week, I'm excited to share a few of my favorite fluency strategies with you. Download printable resources as well as a new bookmark I created, to help keep your students from sounding like robots! We'll build comprehension and teach our students to become fluent readers while we have some fun. 

 

 

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Joy in Words – Writing Poetry


Index.2 Poetry is magical and memorable. The poetry we read, write, and hear in childhood stays with us throughout our lives.

Last week I wrote about heart maps, a visual reminder of what matters, a beginning step in writing poetry. This week, I describe several of my favorite books about teaching students to write poetry. I like to give you resources to make it easier for you to plan lessons. I'm happy to discuss writing with you, so post a comment or question!

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Comments: 4

Kids, the Ken Burns Effect, and American Slavery — Students Become Documentarians

The Middle Passage The history of slavery in America is glossed over in many classrooms. Some educators and textbooks give it little more than a cursory mention as a "reason for the Civil War." Is it possible to learn something from the "peculiar institution," an institution mired in feelings of guilt and shame? Is it possible to effectively teach a subject that makes some adults cringe? YES!

In fact, kids as young as 4th graders can independently use the techniques of filmmaker Ken Burns to highlight the most difficult or sensitive topics and make their audience hungry for more. My students have been using a program called Microsoft Photo Story for years, but it wasn't until I met Columbia professor Steven Mintz that we realized the power of Ken Burns-esque documentaries using primary sources. Read on for great resources for making digital storytelling the cornerstone of any history lesson. 

Courtesy of Library of Congress

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Heart Maps and Writing

DSC00694.JPG[1] My students create heart maps early in the school year and keep them in their writing folders so they can refer back to them when they write poetry or when they’re stuck about what to write.

I learned about heart maps from one of poet and author Georgia Heard's books about teaching writing, Awakening the Heart: Exploring Poetry in Elementary and Middle School. This inspiring and practical handbook for teachers is full of adaptable ideas that will help establish a classroom environment that fosters a love of poetry and poetry writing. 

READ ON to find out how to make heart maps in your class.

 

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Comments: 14

Taking a Look at Nonfiction Conventions

Class_photos 017Nonfiction reading material can be a powerful tool in grabbing the attention and interest of otherwise reluctant readers. However, reading lessons often focus primarily on fiction features (plot, character development, etc.). With this in mind, I thought it might be useful to share some of the resources and materials I have used in my classroom to help readers learn to read, interpret, and eventually write nonfiction texts independently.

Photo: You can download four printables in this post, including the nonfiction conventions posters shown above.

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Comments: 6

Understanding Nonfiction Texts With Help From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MlkbulletinboarddisplayCelebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day by teaching your students how to become peacemakers by learning about his incredible life and really good readers as they navigate through nonfiction texts. Take a look at some of my downloadable resources and bulletin board ideas to get you excited about learning more about an amazing man who taught us all how to appreciate diversity and to fight hard for justice with lots of love. This unit on Martin Luther King incorporates strategies that can be transferred to any nonfiction topic you plan to explore in your classroom. 

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Comments: 6

Forget Resolutions! Set Twelve Goals for the New Year

ThinkgoalsThis week is sure to be filled with festive parties, holiday performances, end-of-the-year activities, and seasonal madness. So take a deep breath and spend some time reflecting on all that you've accomplished this year. What was your greatest achievement? Where would you like to go back for a "do-over"? What were your professional goals? Did you reach them? What helped you? What got in your way?

Since resolutions can be more like wishes that never come true, let's set some solid goals instead, by creating plans for the new year. Then, we can inspire our students to do the same. Use my downloadable template and a few of these tips to get on your way to a happy new year!

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Comments: 1

Peace on Earth


66501-Royalty-Free-RF-Clipart-Illustration-Of-A-Circle-Of-People-Holding-Hands-Around-A-World-Flag-Globe[1] In this season, students and teachers can bring peace to the world. School communities can foster the development of peace within each individual, promote an understanding of diverse cultures and languages, and create a Peace Place in the building or on the playground. We can all become heroes for peace.

Read on to find out more.

 

 

 

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Comments: 10

Christmas Makes Me Think . . . Celebrate Community!

InvitecoverGet inspired to celebrate your community with the help of author Tony Medina! When a read-aloud encourages children to wonder, ask questions, make connections, think about the world around them, and create plans that will have a huge impact on others, you know you've picked the right book to share with your students. And when you hear the excitement in their voices as they make plans that go beyond the walls of your classroom, you know in your heart that you're doing important work. Cue up the holiday music and teach your students how to connect to their community with the support of these lesson ideas and downloadable resources!

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Comments: 2

Visualize! Teaching Readers to Create Pictures in Their Minds

AnaemilyworkAs we gear up for a short week filled with the excitement of Thanksgiving celebrations, plan for some relaxing reading work that will strengthen your students’ listening skills as well as their ability to visualize as they read independently. Check out this group of 4th graders as they sketch drawings and jot down words and phrases inspired by what they visualize during a read-aloud of Cynthia Rylant’s Scarecrow. Watch our videotaped conversations to get a better sense of what students picture in their minds.

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Comments: 5

Inspiring Future Medical Professionals

Heart_parkerWith the flu season approaching, you may be thinking of seasonal health lessons to meet your state standards. If so, I have a unique health unit ready to go, with nine PDF files, photo slide shows, grading rubrics, student packets, and even medical name tags. If you are comfortable having students dissect cow eyes, pig hearts and kidneys, and sheep brains, then put on your medical scrubs and read on!

Photo: After an in-depth health unit, a group of five student "cardiologists" were able to dissect a pig heart.

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Comments: 7

Identifying Reliable Sources and Citing Them

Reliable_sourcesThis may not sound like the most exciting topic for a post, but I can assure you that it is a critical one. If your students complete ANY research online at all, then you will be interested in how I collaborated with our librarian to teach my students to identify reliable resources and to properly credit them.

After helping my 1st grade son create a poster for school last year that required online research, I know this information is applicable to grades 1–12. I have also included sources that help students create grade-appropriate citations. This post includes four lesson plans, photos of anchor charts, and reliable Internet sources geared for students. 

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Comments: 10

Online Educational Games for Classroom and Home Practice

 

IMG_0207
 
Games have long been a favorite activity for children. In our digital, media rich world today, gaming has become a huge industry for not only children, but adults as well. In the classroom educational games can be used to introduce and/or practice skills. Students become highly motivated when playing online computer games. There are so many amazing FREE online games out there that you can easily add to your class website or use on your interactive whiteboard.

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Comments: 10

Author's Purpose With Freckleface Strawberry

Freckleface It's not always easy being a kid. All of us can relate to the feeling of being teased about something that made us stand out of the crowd. Maybe we even did some of the teasing ourselves. Figuring out how to love the unique and amazing person you are, imperfections and all, can take a lifetime. When I saw the cover of Julianne Moore's book Freckleface Strawberry, I knew I had to add it to my classroom library. (Yes, I was a freckle-faced kid myself.) Check out how you can use this book in your own classroom to teach author's purpose as your students learn that everyone is different . . . and THAT is what makes each one of us so special.

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Comments: 27

Planning Units of Study for Readers and Writers Workshop

Spencer_read With ten full days with students left, I find myself preparing for my new challenge of moving to fifth grade next year. Of course, part of my current plans include preparing units of study for both readers and writers workshop. When I taught fifth grade several years ago there was little support to be found about planning units for reading or writing. Now, however, I am dealing with the other spectrum of too much information. I would like to share how I plan on tackling all of the varying resources available to create units of study that will work in my new grade level. You are encouraged to add resources and suggestions for this post! It just might help me and other readers with plans for next year.

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Comments: 41

My Classroom Economy: Bringing the "Real World" Into the Classroom

Customer While economics is considered part of the elementary social studies curriculum, textbooks and other social studies programs often neglect to incorporate economic instruction. The classroom economy can fill this void while serving as a fun way for students to act as both consumers and economists in a real world setting.  A well-run classroom economy has the ability to teach students economic principles while also serving as a behavior management system in which students are essentially responsible for themselves.

READ ON to learn about how I set up my classroom economy, watch a VIDEO of what it looks like in my classroom, and download tons of PRINTABLES that you can use to implement a classroom economy of your own!

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Comments: 61

Assessment in My Reading Workshop

Lead Many teachers are excited to implement a Reading Workshop in their classroom.  And why not?  It is a framework for teaching reading that allows students to read self-selected texts at their own level, and it provides us teachers with many opportunities to differentiate our teaching to meet the wide variety of readers we often find in our classrooms.  However, when we give up the traditional methods of teaching reading, there can initially be a concern when it comes to assessment.  The basal texts and other prepackaged reading programs come complete with end-of-the-story comprehension questions for each selection, fill-in-the blank vocabulary worksheets to match the "one size fits all" stories, and specific questions to ask students as they are reading the stories.  We know that these methods of assessment are not accurate indicators of true reading performance, nor do they help teachers guide their instruction to meet the specific needs of individual readers in their classroom.  So you are probably asking, how can I implement a Reading Workshop and also assess my readers in an effective, efficient, and, most importantly, informative way?


Read on to find out how I use both formal and informal means of assessment to regularly evaluate my readers and inform my own teaching.

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Comments: 4

New Resource Center

Teachmatters_sc

Editor's Announcement:

Hi, Teaching Matters Reader,

It gives me great pleasure to announce the opening of the brand new Teaching Matters Resource Center featuring Angela Bunyi and Beth Newingham. 

This is the place to find everything you're looking for from these star teachers including: videos, photos, printables, book recommendations, themes, lesson plans, and more.

Take a look and tell us what you think. And check back! We'll be adding much more to this great new area. 

--Amy
Scholastic Editor 

The opinions expressed in Top Teaching are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic Inc.