It’s that time of the school year where we all start looking toward the future, to next school year and getting ready for a Fresh Start. This weekend, I am starting a Fresh Start of my own. Raki’s Rad Resources is moving over to a new logo and a new blog – www.rakisradresources.com . In order to celebrate my fresh start, I’d like to set you up with a Fresh Start Package. I’m going to be giving away these four Fresh Start Packages, each valued at over $35 worth of Quality Teaching Resources, at the new blog, and there’s a Fresh Start Freebie for all! So, stop by and sign up!
This week, my students have been learning about Earth Day. My students are so excited to be participating in a collaborative project I’m hosting over at Global Teacher Connect. My students have signed pledges to not use plastic bags until May, we watched videos of whales sick from swallowing plastic bags, and we talked about why plastic bags are not good for the environment. Now, my kids run around the playground yelling at students who dared to bring their snack in a plastic bag!
Please feel free to stop by Project Page to check out the project, or spread the word about the project to other teachers who might be interested.
When I moved to Morocco, I didn’t think I’d be presenting at a professional development seminar. I mean, I’m living in a country where I don’t speak the language! But, thanks to the internet I am! I have taped my video and I can’t wait to see what the other teacher presenters have to say. I have recorded a presentation on strategies for teaching English Language Learners. There will also be presentations on: Integrating Technology, Using Interactive Notebooks and Modifying Math Instruction. I hope you have bought a ticket, so that you can receive all 4 hours of this amazing webinar. You have until Friday to purchase it for $15, then it’s $20, which is still a bargain for 4 hours worth of professional development! There’s even a certificate to print and certify that you have attended when you are submitting those Professional Learning Units! Plus, there’s an amazing goodie bag available for those who are viewing on Saturday, with 9 different teacher resources! I hope to see you there!
It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Top 10 post, but with Earth Day coming on April 22nd, I thought it was time to get back into the tradition. So, here are 10 ways you can celebrate Earth Day with your students:
1.) Watch Magic School Bus – So many of the Magic School Bus movies focus on taking care of the earth, but there are two in particular that I love for Earth Day. One is the Holiday Special and the other is In The Rainforest. My son has them both on one DVD, which I will be borrowing for my students on Earth Day! They give you a great, kid friendly way to look at Earth Day themes – including recycling and protecting the rainforest.
2.) Take a Trip to the Trash – Our society today has a habit of “hiding” the trash, and so kids don’t generally know what happens after they put the trash into the can. Take a field trip to a landfill or a recycling center so kids can learn first hand where the trash goes. Seeing all of the trash together can be a good realization for kids who only see their one little bag as not a big deal.
3.) Get involved in a local Earth Day project – Most communities host activities on, or around Earth Day to “beautify” the earth. Get your class involved in picking up trash or planting trees so that they can get their hands into Earth Day.
4.) Connect with other schools online – Get your class involved in an online project where they can work with other schools around the globe to recognize that protecting the Earth is everyone’s responsibility. Global Teaching Connect is hosting a Getting Rid of Bags collaborative project that you might want to check out.
5.) Read the Great Kapok Tree – If you’ve never read this book – it’s great for talking about the interdependent web of life in the rainforest, and why it is so important to not cut down trees in the rainforest. Mandy Neal of Cooperative Learning has a great freebie to go with this book, that you can read about HERE.
6.) Make do this,not that posters – Talk about the things we should do and the things we shouldn’t do, then let your students create Do This, Not That posters where your students promote good habits for taking care of the earth. Have students hang their posters in the hallway to share what they have learned with others.
7.) Persuade others to act green – Earth day is a great time to work on persuasive writing. Choose a topic – carpooling, bringing cloth grocery bags, taking public transportation, recycling, even something as using reusable napkins could be a great topic for a persuasive writing piece.
8.) Look at Living Locally – If you haven’t read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver – it’s completely worth the read (adult read, not a kid’s book!). In this book, she talks about living locally – eating food and buying products from within a 50 – 100 mile radius of where you live. This concept has not been explored fully with kids, but it’s a great seed to plant, as a way to reduce oil expenditure (trucks burn a lot of gas when they move those oranges from California to New York). A trip to a local farmer’s market would be a great addition to this type of topic.
9.) Watch Captain Planet – Do you remember Captain Planet? It was a great cartoon series where superheros saved the earth. Pull out this great series to get your kids involved in Earth Day. I can’t find them on DVD – but Amazon has VHS and you can find them on YouTube.
10.) Go Paperless – During Earth Day, it’s a great time to model paperless activities – such as using your blog to submit homework, creating digital presentations instead of making posters, sending E-mails over letters, and doing E-Quizzes instead of written tests. Grab an E-Quiz for Ecology from my TPT store.
I have been using the addition fact quizzes and subtraction fact quizzes with my students for months now. Most of my students are doing fine, but I have a few who are having trouble, and I couldn’t figure out why. Then, I gave the quizzes to my son and his first was was, “Mom, why is 2.5 + 2 ?” I explained to him that the first 2 was the question number, and not part of the problem. Then, I looked at the quiz harder and realized it did look like 2.5, hmmmmm…..
So, of I went back to my computer to make it more clear. I fixed the quizzes with a simple ) and some spaces, and then gave the new versions to my students – what do you know my struggling students can see the questions better now! Some are still struggling, but there were definitely some who were getting tripped up on that dot! Isn’t it amazing what can happen when we look at our resources through the eyes of our students?
I LOVE to play board games at home, but I also enjoying using them in my classroom. In addition to encouraging cooperation, turn taking and a variety of other social skills, I find I can often use the games to work on math and literacy skills. So, every Friday, I am going to post a Friday Game Night post, giving tips on how to use a particular board game in your classroom. Here’s this week’s Friday Game Night Tip:
Dice – Part 1 (Math)
After two weeks of looking at playing cards, I decided to try one more cheap “board game” – dice! Just like cards, dice can be used in so many ways to increase both math and literacy. Here are some ideas on how to use dice with math. Check back next week for some literacy ideas.
1.) Roll & Add (or Subtract, or Multiply) – One of the easiest way to practice basic math facts is with a couple of dice. I start my students out with a six sided die, and then move them up to a ten sided die after they have mastered most of their facts. Students take two die, roll the die and then add (or subtract, or multiply – depending on the skill needed). I let my students work with a partner when doing this, and they race against each other to see who can call out the correct answer first.
2.) Make a Number Bigger than This – For this activity, use multiple six sided or eight sided die. Depending on how big of a number your students can handle, each student will need one die for each place value place (ie. 4 die for a number with a thousand’s place). Students will roll all of their dice. Give students a number (either write it on a board, or have cards available for students to draw from if you want to put this into a center) and then challenge them to use the numbers they rolled to make a number larger than the number you have given them. I generally give the students on “re-roll” if they don’t have any digits that will help them make a number bigger than the given number.
3.) Skip Count on From Here – When practicing skip counting and multiples, an easy way is to give students one die (six sided or ten sided work best) and have them roll the number. Students should then skip count to one hundred. For example, if they roll a 2, they skip count to one hundred by twos. I generally do this in small groups or partners, rather than put individual students on the spot.
4.) Make a Word Problem – I love giving students a chance to make their own word problems, but they have a tendency to make work problems with numbers they will know, which can defeat the purpose. Instead, hand the student two (or three) die and let them roll up their numbers. Different die makes this easy to differentiate – your struggling students can roll up numbers 1-6, while your extension group uses a 20 sided die. Grab this free template from Google Docs to help guide students through creating their own problem solvers.
In this current age of standardized testing, we often do not give students a chance to be creative. Our focus is on having the right answer, and we – the teacher – know what that right answer is. However, in real life, we rarely know what the real answer is, so why are we setting our students up for failure in this way? I know what you’re saying – “Because they have to pass the test Heidi – or it could be my job.” Well, I’m going to stay out of the politics of this, but I would like to address some ways we can build in creativity and critical thinking, while still teaching what is needed for students to “pass the test”.
1. Let them illustrate. In the upper grades and sometimes even the lower grades, we often focus so hard on writing, that we leave illustrating out all together, because it’s “just” drawing. Every once in awhile – reverse this thinking. Let students illustrate first – and use it as a brainstorming tool. Hand your students a blank piece of paper, give them a topic and an entire writing period (30 to 40 minutes) to draw a picture of that topic. Tell students they have to keep working for the entire time, adding as many details as possible. Then, when it comes time to write, use all these visual details they came up with to add depth and detail to their writing.
2. Let them be the teacher. We know first hand how much creativity and critical thinking it takes to be a teacher. Why not give the kids a chance at this type of thinking? Let students write their test questions for those awful reading passages – or whatever else they are reading. (Grab a pre-made sheet for this from my TPT store.) Have students write their own word problems, and challenge other students in the class to answer them. Give them a chance to create the review game for centers. By being the “teacher” they will look at their curriculum and their thinking in a whole new way.
3. Challenge them to a puzzle. Everything you teach can be put into a puzzle of some kind. I use puzzles constantly in my room (to see how – check out my guest blog post on Mrs. Miner’s Monkey Business April 17th). My students use jigsaw puzzles, self correcting puzzles and critical thinking puzzles. (Grab a template for self correcting puzzles from my TPT store and a multiplication tiling puzzle for FREE.)
4. Use projects. Project based learning always give students the freedom to be more creative and think in new, critically different ways. Cover all those science and social studies topics with project matrixes that allow students to choose their own way to express what they have learned. Let’s face it, kids would rather create an “interview” of a famous person than write a report about that person – and how much more knowledge are they showing if they have to add personality and style to their project? (Grab a matrix for Black History Projects from my TPT store.)
My class consists of 19 students, of which only 1 speaks English only in his household, and even he began his life in a bilingual environment. The other 18 speak at least one, if not two other languages in their homes. Most of my students speak Arabic, but many also speak French. I have 3 who speak French and not Arabic, 1 who speaks Spanish, and 1 who speaks a Philippine dialect. All of my students speak SOME English, but to varying degrees. My job is to teach them English, while also teaching them everything we normally teach in school (reading, writing, math, science, social studies etc.) Fortunately, I am certified to teach ESL and have some experience with English Language Learners. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. So, for the last 5 months, I have been writing a Teaching Tip each week that is specifically to help you teach your English Language Learners. Last week, I wrote Tip #20 and my follower number went over 100. So, I realized some of you may have missed some of the first tips. For this reason, I decided to give you a review this week of the first 20 tips. Keep checking back as I have 20 more for you! Scroll down for the first 20 tips I have written.
Do you enjoy the weekly TESOL Teaching Tips? Do you want to know more about teaching English Language Learners? I will be speaking on this topic at the Everything’s Intermediate Expo, and I’d love to have you “join” us. It is a virtual expo, which will help us connect no matter where we are! Click HERE for ticket information.
Twenty TESOL Tips:
20. Use Peer Tutors
2. Speak Slowly
1. Use Graphics
Calling all teachers! Global Teacher Connect now has a Facebook page and we’d like you to be a part of it. For those of you who haven’t found Global Teacher Connect – it’s a collaborative blog with teachers from 11 countries, all sharing our perspectives on education. Now, we are adding Facebook to our ways to collaborate. Here’s how:
On this page, teachers from around the globe will ask and answer those questions that will give us insight to what is going on in other classrooms around the world.
On this page, teachers from around the globe will have the chance to discuss what’s really working in their classroom.
On this page, teachers from around the globe can share resources and websites with one another.
On this page, teachers from around the globe can “meet” and find partner classes from other countries to enhance their writing units with pen pals, their social studies units with skype internet pals, their science with interactive projects – the sky’s the limit on what we can do when we connect.
On this page, teachers from around the globe will be able to truly collaborate.
Please come on over and like the Global Teacher Connect Facebook page, and while you’re there tell us where you’re at and how you’d like to collaborate!