July 31, 2013

Lovin', Pinnin', and Playin' Games (a FREEBIE)

It's another tri-linky day. Today I'm linking up with Glitter and Glue for What I'm Loving Wednesday, with The Vintage Apple for Oh How Pinteresting!, and with The Teacher's Chair for the week long School Linky.

This Wednesday I am LOVIN' the weather in NE Ohio. We had struggled through excessive heat and excessive rain for most of June and early July. Now we are having EXCESSIVEly beautiful sunshine and moderate temps in the mid-70's. GORGEOUS!

I'm also lovin' the fact that I can now pin on the TpT collaborative boards on Pinterest. How fun is that! And speaking of pinning. I started three new boards this month, one for each of three books that I'll be using with my students during the first weeks of school: The Coffin Quilt by Ann Rinaldi, Underground by Jean Ferris, I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic by Lauren Tarshis. I've been collecting photos, videos, newspaper clippings, etc. and pinning them to my boards... everything in place for when I am working on lesson assignments, Power Points, Prezis, Sqworls, and instaGroks, and in the process I've been learning lots about Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, the relationship of quilting to slavery, the passengers on the Titanic, and more... lovin' it!

Finally... Lovin' one of my all time favorite classroom games

A Whole Class Game to Review/Practice Science Vocabulary

Divide the class into 3-4 teams of nearly equal size.

Similar to Kaboom, Kerplop, Boom, or whatever you call this type of game, students randomly draw strips from a container, sight unseen, read the word on the strip, discuss the meaning with teammates, and then respond by stating the definition aloud. If the student is correct, the team keeps the strip. If the student is incorrect, the strip is returned to the container.

At the end of a specified amount of time, play stops and the team with the greatest number of strips is declared the winner.

But there’s a twist… Inside the container are several cards with the interjection EWWWWWWWW! on them. If a student draws this card, the team must return all of their strips to the container as well as the EEEEEEEEEW! card.

You can download a set of strips for vocabulary for The Five Kingdoms of Living Organisms EWWWWWWWW! by clicking HERE or on the graphic below.

·   Use a Pringle’s can for your container. Cover it with colorful paper and add a label with the game’s name on it. Better yet, design a label on your computer.
·   Make several sets of words for various concepts. Store them in envelopes/plastic bags on which the game and concept are written.
·   Using a word processing program, utilize the table feature to easily make strips.
·   Use this game idea for all subject areas but give it a different name. For example EEEEEEEEEEW! for Science, Kaboom for Language Arts, and Kerplop for Math.

Happy Wednesday,
Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6
Freebie Fridays

July 30, 2013

Tri-linky Tuesday, a FREEBIE... and the winner is!

Today, I'm linking up with Jessica from Literacy Spark for her It's Time! linky, with Tracey at The Teacher's Chair for her School Week Linky, and with Technology Tailgate for their Techie Tuesday linky... It's time for a technology supported favorite read aloud!

It's time... time to think about going back to school! Not that I've stopped thinking about it all summer. I've busily been working away at all kinds of new things for my classroom and preparing myself for teaching... GULP... eighth grade English again... like not since 1988... GULP! I still have some time left, however. I don't officially have to be in school until August 19th when we will have our first staff meeting and development, but I will enter the hallowed halls next week (I'm shooting for the eighth and ninth) to set up my classroom. I've all kinds of new and cute things to decorate my room this year and am anxious to get in there and get it done for the first day of school- August 22, 2013. It will be here before I know it!

One of the first things that I look forward to teaching is Fifth Grade Language Arts. I know this group of kids as I work a little bit with them in fourth grade doing some technology things with them: Padlet, StoryBird, and general internet skills. I start the year by reading aloud a great little novel called "Apple Island, or the Truth about Teachers" by Douglas Evans. With it I can introduce figurative language, humor, cause and effect, character development, predicting, and more! The best part is that fifth graders LOVE the story. Every year (I've used this for more than ten years) they beg for more, more, more!

Because this is a read aloud, I still need to have my students be accountable for their learning and listening. One way I've worked around this issue is to have them complete a brief comprehension check after I've read a chapter. I may have them complete what I call a Chapter Map (similar to a story map only on a smaller scale). You may download a copy HERE if you'd like or by clicking on the graphic below. I can use these for a quick assessment to gauge individual learning.

Or I may have the students respond to a specific prompt via Padlet, an online post-it note/bulletin board site. At Padlet users are able to set up an interactive board for individual use or by large numbers of people. Teachers can post a question and students can respond from any device that allows them to access the internet.

A board is easy to set up, simply visit Padlet, select "Build a Wall" and follow a few simple online prompts for choosing a background and typing in text. It works much like a word processing program only simpler. I've had fourth graders creating their own Padlet boards in a matter of few minutes. There is no need to register at the site; however, by doing so you can moderate (I moderate posts to control unwanted sentiments), update, and be kept informed of activity with your boards. I set up the following board in under five minutes and will use it with my fivers after reading Chapter 1 of "Apple Island." A little lesson planning already done!

I got a little thrill, a shiver, a moment of YEEHAW! when I visited Amazon to locate the link to "Apple Island." THE BOOK IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR KINDLE!!!!!!! Be still my heart! I can use my Kindle Cloud Reader and computer to project the text while I am reading aloud. The Cloud Reader is an app installed on a pc, tablet, or phone that accesses your Kindle content allowing you to read on devices other than your Kindle. This means that my fivers can read along with "Apple Island" AND I can highlight and bookmark the text. I can return to the text to point out examples of figurative language, I can find specific text evidence to support my ideas... can you say Common Core? What's more with my Smart Board Smart Ink program I can add notes to a page and SAVE them to display again. OH YEAH! Lesson planning just made easier!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

AND FINALLY.... drum roll, please! The announcement you've been waiting for... The winner of my 200 Follower Giveaway is...

None other than Rose from Rosie's Rambles. She left comment number 12 on the giveaway blog post. Rosie will receive my Poetry Task Cards and two more products of her choice from my TpT store. CONGRATULATIONS, Rosie and THANKS to all who helped me celebrate reaching 200 Followers! Now, onward to 300!!!!!!

Happy Tuesday,
Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6

July 29, 2013

Monday Made Its and a Must Have...last chance to win!

I'm linking up once again with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It and with Sabra over at Teaching with a Touch of Twang for Must Have Mondays.

I've been a very busy teacher this week, making loads of things for my classroom, especially things that coordinate with my chosen theme of polka dots and monsters. I have NEVER ever done "cuteness" like this. My fellow teachers will flip when they see what I've concocted this year. 

With all the cuteness has come A LOT of work! One thing that I have found that I MUST HAVE to make my work easier is my new pair of Wescott scissors. I won them plus six student pairs in June after entering an Education Center online contest. SOOO happy that I did! They are the best scissors I have ever used... they feel great in my hand, don't tire my fingers, and cut like a diamond through glass. LOVE THEM!

I've been using them to cut out all the products that I've been making: homework punch cards, homework brag tags, a writing process clip chart... to name just a few! See what I mean by cuteness? The complete set of Polka Dot/Monster Theme classroom decor is available in my TpT Store. Currently there are eleven products with more coming later this week. 

 And if you'd like a chance to win one of these cute products, just leave a blog post HERE before midnight tonight!

The next "cuteness" project on the docket is to glitterize those clothespins for the clipchart and to washi tape a basket in which to place my brag tags... next week's Monday Made It already planned!

Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6

July 28, 2013

A Smorgasbord, 200 Continuing, and a FREEBIE

I'm linking up with Fabulous in First for Sunday Smorgasbord for a little bit of randomness for the first time! Not that I'm being random for the first time... well, you know what I mean.

I am into punches! Not that kind... paper punches. A few years back I purchased some really large round punches that allow me to cut out circles up to 3" in diameter. They really help me with my TpT products. I wrote about them last week for Must Have Monday. This week I found some new punches. I purchased two of  the kind that cut patterned borders and one that creates holes through which you can lace ribbon. I can NOT wait to try them out! Now, what I can make?

This is what I quickly whipped up just to try out a punch... a PQA poster. I use this acronym with my fifth and sixth grade Language Arts students to help them write extended responses. I needed to make a PQA poster to match my new classroom theme of polka dots and monsters, so this is what I came up with. Notice the lacy borders on the long sides? That was done with one of my punches. LOVIN' it!

If you'd like a copy of my PQA poster, you can download it HERE or by clicking on the above snapshot.

I was delighted this past week when Smilemakers, a company dedicated to helping teachers make a difference in their classrooms, invited me to preview then review one of their products on my blog. Of course, I accepted. This is the product that will soon be arriving at my home. I can NOT wait to see it! It sounds perfect for my sixers!

And finally, please stop by to help me celebrate reaching 200 Followers. You can win three products of your choice from my TpT Store. It's easy, peasy! Just leave a blog comment HERE telling me which ONE product you would really like to receive. On July 30, 2013, I will randomly select a number. Whoever wrote the comment with the matching number wins the prize stated plus two more of his/her choice. Like I said... easy, peasy! I look forward to reading your comments.

See you tomorrow for Monday Made It and Monday Must Have!

Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

July 27, 2013

Saturday Snapshot Collages, 200 Continues

I look forward to Saturdays because of Saturday Snapshots with Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera.

I've never really considered myself much of a photographer, and I've never done much with a camera other than point and shoot. Oh, I play around with the settings now and then, changing up the type of shot that's produced. Sometimes I even turn off the flash or use night vision and when I edit photos I might crop or resize them. However, that's the extent of my "expertise."

I didn't even take any photos this week other than of my favorite subject, Miss DaisyMae. No Saturday Snapshots is complete without a picture of her.

I do enjoy taking photos, but I what I really like about snapshots is having fun adding speech bubbles to them or making slideshows/videos with them or even turning them into collages. I've found neat little pieces of freeware or web apps over the years that allow me to have a bit of fun. I've shared a few on Saturday Snapshots already: Phrase.It and Image Chef. This week I'm sharing a couple of images that I created to showcase a whole bunch of my snapshots. The first is of my favorite subject (see above), the second of my family, and the third of me.

The first two collages were created using Shape Collage, a small freeware program that you download to your computer (both Windows and Mac are available as well as iPhone and iPad). Additionally, there is a pro version that you can purchase that has loads of bells and whistles and tons of options. It takes but a minute to install Shape Collage and begin using it; no tutorial is necessary. It works like a typical word processing program, inserting pictures, selecting a few options (shape of collage, background color, borders of photos), then creating (in lieu of saving).

Much to my delight, when I went to Shape Collage this morning while writing this blog post, I discovered that the company has now added a web app. Called Get Loupe, it allows users to connect with social media accounts, accessing photos and publishing collages with the click of the mouse. With Get Loupe there are more shape options to choose from when creating your collage than with Shape Collage but it's just as easy to use. 

I've not been able to use Shape Collage with my students since it's a program that needs to be directly installed on a computer... that's a story for another time. However, now that I've found Get Loupe I can't wait to have my sixers (and eighth graders this year) make their own collages. I can think of so many possibilities for using this in class. How 'bout you?


My easy, peasy 200 Followers Giveaway continues for a few more days. Hop on over to this blog post to enter.

Happy Weekend,
Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6

July 26, 2013

Easy Peasy Giveaway... 200 Followers WOOT! WOOT!

It was only a couple of weeks ago that the old blog counter hit 100 Followers... and that took a little more than four months. Thanks to Bloglovin' and a whole lot of sweet bloggy friends the blog counter is now over 200 just two weeks later. To celebrate I'm having a little Giveaway Party, nothing fancy, nothing involved, just easy peasy!

July 26-29, 2013

To help me celebrate reaching 200 Followers, simply visit my TpT Store and do a little window shopping. Select ONE product that you would LOVE to receive! Come back here and leave a blog comment telling me which product and why you chose it. Your comment must be dated between July 26-29, 2013. Make sure you include your email address in your comment that I may contact you when you win!

Sometime on July 30, 2013, I will randomly select a number. The person who wrote the numbered comment matching the random number will be declared the WINNER of my giveaway. The winner will receive the product mentioned in his/her comment as well as a choice of TWO more items for a total of THREE PRODUCTS!


Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6

July 25, 2013

Tune into Technology and Throwback Thursday

I'm once again linking up for Tune into Technology and Throwback Thursday.

This week's theme for Tune into Technology is Management and Organization. Hmmm? Not such an expert here, but I'd like to share two simple tips that I've learned and MUST HAVE...

1. Set whatever website that you are requiring your students to utilize for a project or activity as your current "home page." This means each time your student opens the internet browser the project page appears in front of him/her without having to type a thing and if a student gets lost on the internet, clicking the "home" button on the tool bar brings them right back to where they started... a time saver for sure! Various browsers have different methods for setting a home page. Chrome, for example, requires users to click the options button in the upper right corner of the toolbar, then select Settings, and finally choose Appearance. From here a click, some typing (or copying and pasting) your chosen website, and saving your information sets the homepage. There are even tutorials on YouTube for performing the homepage setup. The following tutorial is completed without a word...

2. Sentence strips, those long narrow pieces of paper, are a technology tool... hunh? They are the perfect length on which to write an internet web address. Every website address that my students are required to use is written on a sentence strip in dark permanent marker and displayed on a wall near the classroom computers where they remain. They are great visual cues, cut down on student questions, and promote student independence. I teach several sections of Language Arts so my students come from several different homerooms. I make multiple copies of the strips to hang in the other rooms as well, in case they are permitted to do computer work during any free time they may have.

For Throwback Thursday I'm following the theme of technology and reposting a blog entry from June 3, 2013, wherein I talk about one of my favorite websites to use with my students, Padlet (formerly known as Wall Wisher).

I admit it: I am definitely a techie geek teacher. I could easily get rid of books, paper, and all things hardcopy (well, maybe not pens... I love pens.... that's another story). I dream of a completely electronic, in the cloud classroom. I would love to have my textbooks on e-readers that could sync with the laptops that every student would have (our junior high and high schoolers do have them)... ah, someday before I retire!

Because of my love for technology many of my must have's take the form of websites or software programs. Last week I shared four of them. This week I'm sharing two.

1. Animoto... I wrote a blog post about this a while back. You can access it HERE, so I won't expound upon it on this post... just to say that if you are unfamiliar with this web tool, get familiar. Your students and you can create awesome videos for presentation and teaching... AWESOME!

2. Padlet, formerly known as Wall Wisher, is defintely on my Monday Must Have list.

This website allows you to set up a virtual bulletin board upon which you can place post-it notes (see previous Must Have Monday posts about my addiction to these mini-marvels). I've set-up Padlet boards for assessing student comprehension, making connections, answering a particular science question... the possibilities are endless. One thing that is FUN about this web tool is that I can sit at my desk computer and see live the work that my students are doing. As they work I can comment and even jump in and correct if need be. This is a great feature for beginners and is a way to help students with homework. When I assign one of my Padlet boards as homework I also set a time that I will be online that evening.  As students work on the board I am there to help them as needed.

Some new features have just been added that make this web tool even more teacher friendly. Users now have the ability to save Padlet boards as a .pdf, Excel, or image file. The boards can be embedded in webpages or blog posts (see below), and they can be shared via the most popular social media sites. Visitors can even subscribe to a board. LOVIN' Padlet more and more!

I also teach my students how to create boards and require them to build boards that their classmates must visit and respond to. Padlet is a SIMPLE, easy peasy way to incorporate technology into your curriculum, and it can help meet Common Core ELA Standards.

Here is my latest Padlet board (it is still in process as of this post's date). This board is used as a quick final response to the novel Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardner. My fifth grade ELA students are just learning how to use this web tool. They are also learning to include specific textual details in their responses as well as including the question in their answer. They have struggled with these skills all year.

Happy Technology,
Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk

July 24, 2013

Lovin' and Pinnin' Wednesday

I've said it before and I'll say it again... I LOVE WEDNESDAYS! I get to blog about Pinterest and talk about things that I love. What could be better?

This week I am LOVIN' my new home laminator. I took the plunge after reading so many of my bloggy friends extol the virtues of their machines. I really didn't want to spend the money, but the laminator at school is on the fritz and it doesn't look like it will be fixed anytime too soon. I dug in my drawer and found a slew of Barnes and Noble gift cards... we used to have a B&N store in town before the recession and e-readers became popular. I had over 200 hundred dollars worth of certificates so I ordered my laminator and 100 sheets of film and didn't have to spend a dime! LOVIN' that especially!

The laminator arrived last Saturday and has been working hard ever since. So hard that there are only 30 sheets of film left. I ordered another 300 sheets with the rest of the gift certificates today. Here is my new toy working away at laminating my monster/polka dot themed word wall cards and CCSS "I Can" Statements. LOVIN' it!

I'm LOVIN' this idea from Pinterest. I think it is one of the easiest and most clever ideas I've seen. I'm working on customizing a mini-office for my 5/6th grade Language Arts students in my polka dot/monster theme.

You can visit the original site HERE.

I'm LOVIN' these behavior beads from Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera. My sixers would go WILD over them!

You can visit the original site HERE.

I am LOVIN' that I got many TpT items completed this week.

You can view the original site HERE.

I'm also LOVIN' that so many of my bloggy friends are celebrating giveaways this week. Please stop by their blogs for chances to win some awesome teaching resources and terrific gifts.

Kristin over at Teach n' Tex is hosting a 3x3 Giveaway. What you see here is just part of it!

Desiree over at Kinders on the Block is celebrating her second blogiversary.

Jessica from Joy in the Journey has a blogiversary in the works as well!

Happy Wednesday,
Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6

July 23, 2013

Ten Things I've Learned from Teaching

I'm joining Miss Kindergarten for her 10 Things I've Learned from Teaching linky party. I've really enjoyed all the responses from my bloggy friends, and I've found some new friends in the process. That's the best part of a linky party... finding new blogs and bloggers with GREAT ideas!

In the 30+ years that I've been teaching I have learned soooooo many things. It's taken me since Sunday when I first spied this linky until today, Tuesday, to hone my list of ten things that I've learned. You all have heard of the "A List," right? Well, I'm calling my list the "Be(e) List!"

1. I've learned to be prepared for everything and anything from what kids say to what parents ask. Never think you have enough planned, anticipate interruptions, and remember Murphy's Law. If you're prepared nothing can faze you... well, almost nothing!

2. I've learned to be silly.  I make funny faces, I say goofy things, and I behave eccentrically.  If you make your students laugh they will remember you and your lessons.

3. I've learned to be cool, or at least cool in the eyes of my students. If they are into gawdy nail polish, I'll wear green on both my fingers and my toes. I've a tattoo, multiple-multiple ear piercings, and even have teal tipped hair. If they think you are cool, middle schoolers are more apt to respond to you.

4. I've learned that it is better to silently stare with  raised eyebrow and w/o blinking at disruptive students than to say anything. I can make a 6'4" eighth grader wilt with my cultivated look.

5. I've learned to be consistent. If you waffle regarding discipline or classroom management so will your students. Set your policies and stick with them, then there are no surprises for your students and none for you.

6. I've learned to be honest. Students will see right through you if you fabricate anything. Rather than make-up something, simply tell them that you choose not to answer. They will respect you for this.

7. I've learned to be frank. Tell it like it is in a kind, respectful way, especially when speaking with parents.... and always end a conversation on a positive note.

8. I've learned to be excited about everything I do. If I can not be excited about the taxonomy of living things, how can I expect my students to be? Oh, but let me sing and clap about kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus... well, guess who else will be as well? And guess who will remember the lesson?

9. I've learned to be flexible. Things happen to interrupt your day. New teaching methods come along every so many years (can you say Common Core?). Just do your best at all times!

10. I've learned that in order to be a teacher I must be a learner. I am constantly taking college classes or professional development seminars. I participate in webinars and read teaching journals. My kids love when I talk about my own homework or something new I am learning. I value learning and model it for them and their families. They know I believe that learning is lifelong and I want them to believe it as well.

I still have 10+ years of teaching left before I retire... God willing! In the time left I know that I will continue to learn... learn about teaching, learn about students, learn about learning, and learn about myself.

Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6