Saturday, March 31, 2012

Easter Themed Picture Writing Prompt

Make a list of ten questions you have about this picture. 
Either use your own questions or exchange them with someone else.
Write a story about what happened.
Here are some suggested questions to get you started:
Is the Easter Bunny really guilty or was he framed?
Who would complain about the Easter Bunny?
What would cause a good character to turn bad?

What's in your basket?

You can purchase all ten forms I use for creative writing assignments and bulletin boards here in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and here in my Teachers Notebook store.  I have included at least two suggestions for each form that are not here on my blog.

Classroom Freebies Manic MondayFreebie Fridays

Friday, March 30, 2012

Poetry in the Classroom

As I work on my poetry units, there are a couple of websites I enjoy reading:

Kenn Nesbitt's Poetry for Kids is a great website  to inspire young poets.

I find his Online Rhyming Dictionary is the best.

Giggle Poetry is another great resource.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Free Poetry Teaching Resources

Frequent readers of this blog know how much I love to read, write and teach poetry.  Here are two forever freebies in my Teachers Pay Teachers and Teacher's Notebook Stores.

List Poems has four original examples and directions for students to write their own poems.  You can download List Poems from my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.  List Poems is also available on Teacher's Notebook.

I developed the lessons in Color Poems to teach my students about figurative language.
Download Color Poems: Exploring Metaphors and Similes at Teachers Pay Teachers, or Color Poems: Exploring Metaphors and Similes at Teacher's Notebook.

I also keep Poems of Silliness, a blog with poems I have written that are appropriate for use in an elementary school.  Click the tags on the right hand side to find specific poetry forms.

Happy writing.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Question of the Week

My entire teaching career, 21 years, I have taught in diverse neighborhoods.  In every class I have students who come to school with all of their supplies and they have parents who replenish those supplies throughout the year.  I also have had students in every class who don't come with supplies.  The third group of students come with supplies, but spend class time misusing them and the pencils, erasers, pens, and sharpeners end up in the "Container of Poor Judgment".

How do you handle it when students don't have the basic supplies they need for school?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Quote of the Week -- March 25, 2012

"Good teachers are those who know how little they know. 
Bad teachers are those who think they know more than they don't know."
R. Verdi

Saturday, March 24, 2012

You Know You're A Teacher When....

About six weeks ago, Jeannie Partin at Kindergarten Lifestyle, created a Pinterest Board called "You Know You're a Teacher When..."  and I had a chance to participate in the link up.  Since then there have been 106 pins.

As I was communicating with my stepdaughter today about her weekend plans, I thought of this one.

The Pinterest Board is here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Why I Teach Poetry in Elementary School

I never thought of myself as a poet, but when I think back the first writing that I did that got public attention was a poem that was hung in the school office when I was in second grade.

When I started my student teaching, I learned to use Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky poems as mini lessons in reading and writing.  As a substitute teacher, I always had a book of poetry in my bag to share with students.  I never knew when I would need an extra activity.  Poetry was quick and could lend itself to all sorts of impromptu literary lessons.  It was also just plain fun.

Here I am twenty-one years later.  No matter what age group I have taught, kindergarten through sixth grade, I continue to read and write poetry with my students.  Of the blogs I maintain, my poetry blog gets the least traffic, but it's the one I always have energy to maintain at the end of the day.

Next month is National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo).  I plan to participate personally in the challenge of thirty poems in thirty days.  I plan to have my students write a poem each day that we are in school and and assemble a class eBook.  I would love to have other classes join me.

Reading and writing poetry is contagious.  I often end the day reading funny poems to my students.  Recently, one of my fifth grade boys went to the school library to check out a copy of the poetry book I was reading to the class.  The librarian was surprised until I told her he wants to pick out the poems he thinks I will be embarrassed reading aloud.  I don't mind; he's reading poetry.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Poems of Silliness

My students will tell you that I love reading and writing poetry -- not the serious stuffy poetry -- but the silly play with words kind.  There are so many mini lessons that can be shared this way.  April is Poetry Month and I am challenging my students to write poetry every day we are in class that month. 

Update June 2014: I have replaced the April 2012 & April 2013 challenges with 10 Poetry Forms.  This packet is all the same poetry lessons in one place.  To download the freebie 10 Poetry Forms from TPT, click here.  To download the freebie 10 Poetry Forms from TN, click here.

I have a personal challenge to have a post on my poetry blog Poems of Silliness every day for a year.  I started in October and so far I have been meeting that goal.  I have tagged each poem with its type, so if you are looking for examples of poetry to use in your classroom, it is easy to find.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Question of the Week

I find March is the most difficult month to teach.  I don't know if it is looking forward to Spring Break or the weather (Seattle rain) or if it just the point of the year when we all need a change in routine.  I find this month in the cycle of teaching is most difficult.

How do you keep students engaged when you are going through those periods of teaching?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Attention Third through Fifth Grade Bloggers

Lorraine at Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies is hosting a link up party to connect those of us who teach third through fifth grade.

Hop on over and link up.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dreams of My Students

After reading Seth Godin's free eBook, Stop Stealing Dreams, I wanted to know what my fifth and sixth grade students thought.  I had them answer three questions:
1.  What is school for?
2.  What are your dreams?
3.  How does school help you reach your dreams?

I encouraged them to take the questions seriously, yet answer honestly.  I thought about letting them answer anonymously, but I decided I wanted to make sure that everyone answered the questions.  I was a little discouraged by their answers.

I have several students who don't see school as relevant.  They want to just get through it.  Although most of my students see college and good jobs in their future, it was hard to see past the students who are already discouraged.

Right now I am helping my sixth graders enroll in their middle school classes.  Reading Seth's eBook has affected the conversations I was having with them about their choices.   One whose future I am most excited about is my saxophone player who is continuing with band in middle school, because he knows the high school program is amazing.  He has a passion that will get him through.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Math Spies

Have you visited Math Spies?  I wrote curriculum for an afterschool enrichment program about 10 years ago.  I had dreams even then of creating a website where students solved math problems to progress through a plot.  Math Spies is not a typical blog.  Students do not follow the posts in a linear fashion.  They start an episode and answer multiple choice questions that lead them through the mission.  To find Math Spies Missions, start here.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Question of the Week -- School lunch

One of my worst teaching days was when the kitchen ran out of food and my students ate cold cereal two meals in a row.  Quality teaching and learning is difficult on an empty stomach.

What do you do when students don't have lunch or forget their lunch money?  Is is a school policy, or do you do something on your own?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Teachers Taking Care of Teachers

Crystal at Kreative in Kinder is organizing support for the teachers and schools that lost everything in the tornados last week.  If you can help visit her blog and leave her a comment.

Let's take care of each other.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Blogs I Enjoy Following

I probably read as many books for the age group I teach in a year as I do books for myself.  One of my favorite authors to read with my students is Rick Riordan.  As I read his work aloud we have great discussions about literary terms and good writing.   You can follow Rick Riordan's blog here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pi Day Link Up

March 14 is Pi Day and Making It As a Middle School Teacher blog is hosting a link up party.  If you have activities you do with your students, join the party.

I have a couple of missions on Math Spies for students to complete that involve using Pi.

The Isle of Pi
Chaos Compound
Water Works

I also have a lesson plan for sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store called Exploring Pi.

There are other ideas to celebrate with your class at the Making it as a Middle School Teacher blog.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Good Teacher is...

(Portrait of June Christy, circa 1947, Library of Congress photo)

This weekend I attended a Jazz Festival where my teenage stepdaughter was performing.  I was most fascinated with the vocal clinic one of the local performers taught.  Each student who signed up gave a solo while their peers watched.  Then the coach would give advice based on the performance.

She was an amazing teacher.  She engaged each student and worked with them on areas she recognized in the few minute sample of their work.  She addressed her comments to the audience as well as the individual on the spot.  I was inspired by her to go home and try some improv.  Her enthusiasm for her subject was contageous.

Contrast that with a woman I know who wants to become a teacher and spent five hours taking a standardized test designed to screen out undesirable candidates.  I doubt the test could have measured the passion of the first woman.

What is good teaching?  How do we make sure that our students are in the hands of people who will inspire them?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012


I find March is the most diffcult for me to teach.  Perseverance is the attribute of character I talk about most during this month.  I recently found a video of John Steven Aquari who finished his marathon at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.  The Tanzanian runner kept running even though he was injured and the last man to finish. 

When asked why he didn't give up, he responded, "My country did not send me seven thousand miles to start this race, but to finish it."
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