March 29, 2016

English Festival, Celebrating Literature: Book Trailers using Slideful

English Festival participants enjoying professional storyteller, Pam Holcomb.

Annually, my seventh graders participate in our county English Festival. Junior High students from all of the schools in our county are invited to read quality literature, then join together at our local university branch to discuss issues, play games, write compositions and poetry, and create technology projects based on the books they have read. The list of this year's books includes:

Bulu: African Wonder Dog by Dick Houston
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
The Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn
Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Jump into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall
Counting by 7's by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis
Blink Once by Cylin Busby

As a teacher whose students participate in the festival, I am required to "teach" one session, or workshop. By session I am referring to the activities that students choose to complete. There are sessions for writing stories and poetry, sessions for playing games, sessions for drama and music, and an internet session. Approximately 20 students are enrolled in each 50 minute session. I chose to host the internet session and am permitted to develop the activity as I see fit as long as it involves the literature the students read. This is the second year that I have hosted the internet session; last year I had my participants create a newspaper for their favorite book on the list using ReadWriteThink's Printing Press.


This year my participants created a book trailer for their favorite book on the list. Using the free website Slideful.com and following my instructional sheet Book Trailer 101, the junior high students were able to create interactive video book trailers to entice viewers to read their favorite book.

Of course, I did several dry runs before asking students to complete the activity on their own. Here is my first attempt at creating a book trailer using Slideful.



The best thing about Slideful is that there is no registration necessary. Without registering, users can still compile a video of ten images, each containing text, in a single work session (you can not save projects to work on later). This is the only website that I've found that allows non-registered users to COMPLETE a project! If you do choose to register, there is no cost, and you then can increase the number of slides in your videos as well as save your videos to work on at another time.

While I worked on my own video, I compiled my instruction sheet, a step-by-step set of directions that were kid-friendly. The directions needed to be simple enough for students to be able to follow without minimal teacher intervention, yet detailed enough to permit students to complete a successful project in under 50 minutes. When I felt I had accomplished this task, I handed the sheet to two of my seventh grade boys (English Festival participants but not taking my internet session) and said, "Please, do this."

Step 12 on the original directions contained a specific Padlet page.

And they did!



As did all of my English Festival participants. You can view all of the trailers at this blog link.

The festival was once again a great success. I heard tremendously positive feedback from my students who attended and from those from other schools who were in my session. We teachers who took part will be meeting within a few weeks to begin selecting the books for next year's festival, and I will begin searching for a "new" internet/literature project.

Any suggestions for junior high book titles or 50 minute technology projects? I'm all ears!





March 20, 2016

Sunday Scoop 3.20.16

Time for a little...





Be sure to stop by the Teaching Trio to catch up on more Sunday Scoops posted by teacher bloggers. It's a great way to spend the day!



March 19, 2016

Marble Runs- Full STEAM Ahead!

I just had to sneak in a quick post to share my students' completed marble runs that I mentioned in March's Show and Tell Tuesday post. This was such a wonderful STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Art) project, full of thinking, fun, and learning, probably the best one that we've completed all year. I found some really helpful tips for conducting this activity over at Teachers Are Terrific.

Here you can see my kiddos as they work on their creations. The objective was to create the longest (in seconds) marble run with these constraints:

1. The run must be at least two feet tall.
2. It can only be constructed of the materials that your teacher provides (cardboard tubes, masking tape, cardboard sheets, cardstock.
3. The run must contain at least one complete turn.
4. A portion of the run must be open/visible.
5. The marble must be caught in a small cup (Play-doh container).




Partners had to decide who was going to take home the completed run. This was not always an easy decision. There were some creative methods for determining the owner. Once the projects arrived home many were tweaked or reworked entirely. It's great when schoolwork finds its way home so the learning continues. A few of the runs have even found their ways onto student Instagram accounts. LOVE IT!




March 15, 2016

March Show and Tell Tuesday

Lovin' me some Show and Tell! Thanks, Stephanie (Forever in 5th Grade), for this fun, fun linky!


We have been working on Literature Circles in fifth grade Language Arts. I have used this reading strategy for more than 20 years with my classes and have had tremendous success with it. It has really been a struggle with this year's crop of fifth graders to get them to buckle down putting effort into their jobs, let alone getting them to do their jobs on time! This past week THEY GOT IT! It was a night and day experience, almost like someone waved a magic wand over the class. The kids were delighted; I was ecstatic... now, let's hope this week goes as well!



If you've followed The Teacher's Desk 6 for a while, you've no doubt seen me share photos and posts about STEM activities that my sixers and I do. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would be sawing in my classroom. A STEM marble run project has my sixers using cardboard tubes. Some of the tubes that were donated for the project were almost as heavy as light-weight wood; therefore, my carpentry skills were put to the test.


Here's a peek at one group's collected supplies. I can NOT wait to see the finished product with this activity that I found posted by Carol from Teachers are Terrific.



 Have you used Quizizz yet? If you are a 1:1 classroom or have a set of tablets to use with your students, then what are you waiting for? This website allows you to create custom quizzes that your students can do for homework or as a class competition; you can even select from a huge gallery of shared quizzes created by teachers.

My seventh grade English students all have a school issued computer, and I wanted to be sure to truly utilize them in unique ways in English class. Finding Quizizz has taken the sting out of vocabulary quizzes for my students. Instead of the weekly jeers, I now hear weekly cheers!

Show and Tell would not be complete without a pic of at least one of my fuzz girls. This is my elderly, attitudinal Tabby, Daisy Mae. This is her "Hurry up and finish your work, Mom!" look. She is waiting for me to wrap up this blog post so she can hop back into my lap.


Be sure to stop by Forever in 5th Grade to check out more Show and Tell posts from teacher bloggers. Better yet, why not join in with a post of your own?






March 11, 2016

Springing into Learning Blog Hop: Three ELA Freebies

It feels wonderful to be able to start a blog title with the word SPRING! It has been a loooooong winter, my friends. It's even more wonderful to be participating in this terrific blog hop hosted by Kim from Elementary Antics.


After a long, hard winter it is enjoyable to turn our attention to spring; to turn our classroom environment to a fresh look; and to fill our work sheets, anchor charts, and foldables with chicks, butterflies. and flowers instead of penguins and snowflakes.

One ELA activity that I like to do with my class each season and/or holiday is called a Take Three. This is a brainstorming/fluency of thinking activity that can be used as a pre-writing or stand alone assignment. Given a particular broad topic (in our case: spring), students add three details or supporting ideas for six sub-topics. Take Three's are easy to implement, need little instruction, and virtually no preparation. You can copy the worksheet so that each student has a copy, display the Take Three on a screen or board for students to work together, or have students copy the topic/sub-topics onto their own pieces of paper to save printing costs. Ready to give Take Three a try? You can download a freebie Spring Take Three HERE.


Another ELA Spring activity that I enjoy having my students do is adding spring foldables to their Language Arts Interactive Notebooks. INB's are just plain fun to begin with and remove the sting of having to take notes. In our Language Arts Notebooks we frequently look at how words work within a text: How do nouns name? What are the verbs and how do they display the time of the piece? How do the adjectives and adverbs lend to the description and imagery of the text?

Would you like a fun, little Spring foldable to use in your student interactive notebooks or just as a fun ELA activity? Download your freebie HERE.


When thoughts turn to Spring, it's often hard to keep students focused on work at hand. Let's face it- we would rather be outside in the fresh air and sunshine and so would they! So what's a teacher to do? Play a game, of course. One fun game to add to an ELA class is Boggle. Besides the obvious fun factor, Boggle is a super tool for practicing spelling and word recognition.

Here's a Boggle board decked out for Spring. Just download the pic and display it for your students to use. While you're at it, make sure you play along with them... it will help you quell your own Spring Fever!


Not sure how to play Boggle? Click HERE for the original game rules.

Need a Boggle board that you can edit yourself? Click HERE for a free editable board.

Want a blank boggle board template for your students to use with classroom boggle? Click HERE.

How about a variety of editable boards to change with the seasons? Click HERE for a bundle of fifteen boggle boards that you can program yourself.

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Be sure to hop on over to all of these great bloggers where you will find more Spring freebies and tips. Hoppy Spring!





March 8, 2016

The Tuesday Writing PaWs

When I look at all of the topics that were generated for and submitted to the Original Paragraph a Week Project I am amazed! The variety (and number) is rather extensive. From Beanie Babies to the Water Cycle, from friendship to imagination, from junk food to water it can be found as a PaW (Paragraph a Week) topic.

I always have a hard time choosing which topic to feature each week for the Tuesday Writing PaWs. Sometimes I select topics that deal with nearby holidays or seasons. Sometimes I choose a weekly topic because of events that have occurred, and sometimes I select a topic just because I like it.

This week, the inspiration for the PaWs topic is the weather. We have a LOAD of rain expected in the coming days. All I can say is that I'm very happy that the temps are high enough to let it be liquid water rather than solid.

You can download this week's topic sheet HERE.




March 6, 2016

Sunday Scoop 3.6.16

I almost missed the party... almost! It's still Sunday so here's my scoop...


Be sure to visit the Teaching Trio to read all the scoops for the teaching blogging world!





March 3, 2016

March Pinterest Pick 3 Linky

I can NOT believe that it is March 3rd already! Ah well, time flying by quickly is a good sign. It means that I am busy and actively engaged in productive things... things like... PINTEREST and LINKY PARTIES!



March just wouldn't be March without a salute to St. Patrick's Day. My first pick for you this month celebrates this holiday in a uniquely ELA way... writing Irish poetry: limericks!





Another fun holiday to celebrate in March is Pi Day. Celebrated on March 14th (get it? 3.14) all things Pi (pie) are remembered, practiced, and digested.




Finally, this year March is also a time for Lent and Easter.
I found (a little late) the most beautiful Lenten idea that I am going to institute in my classroom next year. Isn't this tree just gorgeous?