Saturday, May 31, 2014

Camp Skits -- Drama Resources for Summer Camps and Classrooms

I can't believe it's June 1 tomorrow.  I am wrapping up Drama Club on Monday and getting resources ready for the activities I'm teaching this summer.

I have been using camp skits with Drama Club this spring.  I love these short humorous plays for practicing all the skills we have been learning.

Here are my favorite websites for resources:

The Ultimate Camp Resource

Camping -- Searchable database with 175 skits

Friday, May 30, 2014

Function Table Freebie

I have been working on a series called Coded Messages where students use function tables to see patterns in number and then use the completed table to find a secret message.  Today's freebie is the page I have included in each book in the series that explains how function tables work.

This post explains how I got started with the series on Math Spies and you can try a free sample.

Click here for the free download: How Function Tables Work.

In addition I am giving away one copy of Coded Messages: Beginning Function Tables this weekend from my Teachers Notebook Store. Enter May 30-June 2, 2014.

Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Have you read  Grimm Fairy Tales?  Not the Disneyfied version where there is little violence and everyone lives happily ever after, but the original ones where people cut off their own limbs and such?

This trilogy by Adam Gidwitz follows the original tales more closely.  He cautions readers at each turn that they might be scared of the events that follow.  I know that for my students that would encourage them to read further.

In the first book, Hansel and Gretel are the main characters in several of the tales that are strung together to make a novel instead of a collection of short stories.

The author recommends reading these aloud.  I don't know if I am that brave. 
If you are studying fractured fairy tales, here is a link to a related bulletin board idea called, "When Good Fairy Tale Characters Go Bad."

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Unexpected Behavior Awareness Day

I know I write this post at the risk of offending someone.  Please believe my best intentions. 

This year we have worn different colors at our school to show awareness of different things.  The day I struggled with the most in my classroom was Autism Awareness. 

We have several students at our school who fit in this category.  When we all wore blue and discussed symptoms, I felt like they were being singled out.

One student in a different class likes me and likes my classroom, particularly my classroom library.  More than once he has appeared in my room unexpectedly and begun going through my books.  My students are generally polite children, but they aren't sure what to do.  If I say to them that our visitor thinks differently, I feel like I have just labeled him inappropriately in front of other children.

I would like to propose something different in an elementary setting.  I think all students would benefit from learning how to respond to unexpected behavior regardless of the cause.  Students with physical and emotional differences sometimes behave in a way that is not called for at a particular place and time.  I would rather give students appropriate responses to this unexpected behavior instead of identifying causes.

I felt awkward identifying certain behaviors during Autism Awareness, even though I never pointed out any children, because I felt like I was giving other students information they shouldn't have.  My students are smart.  They figured it out.

I would love to know what other teachers and parents think.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Quote of the Week -- May 25, 2014

“A gifted teacher is as rare as a gifted doctor and makes far less money.”
~ Unknown
Have a good week,

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fractions with Like Denominators

We had a copying crisis this year at our school that caused me to create a bunch of short quizzes.  Although our standardized tests are now online, I find my students do their best thinking with paper and pencil.  Just in case you think I am the one who is old-fashioned, I want you to know they request paper and pencil activities over computers every time.

For today's Friday Freebie, I am sharing one of the sets of quizzes.  There are three to a page and I have included an answer key. 

To download Adding and Subtracting Fractions with Like Denominators Quizzes, click here. I have included an answer key.

My students enjoy reading print books over eBooks also.  What do your students prefer?

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tango: The Tale of an Island Dog by Eileen Beha

I have never really liked books where animals take on human characteristics, but I enjoyed Tango: The Tale of An Island Dog by Eileen Beha. Tango belongs to a wealthy actress, but he is shipwrecked on an island where humans and animals alike are trying to find belonging.

I have several students who love animals and I recommend this book to them.

Must-Read Monday Linky

Monday, May 19, 2014

Make Way for Ducklings...on the playground?

Earlier this spring a mother duck found some bushes where could make a nice nest and lay her eggs.  She must not have noticed that it was along the stairs to the playground.  Several hundred children walked by the nest each day. 

Someone put a temporary orange construction fence between the sidewalk and the nest.  That just managed to attract more attention.

I remembered Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey from my own childhood and shared it with my students.  Rereading the story reminded me that urban ducks manage their families among noise and chaos.  I still worry for her offspring.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Quote of the Week -- May 18, 2014

"Education would be much more effective if its purpose was to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they do not know and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it." -- William Haley


Friday, May 16, 2014

Mapping the Setting -- Key Symbols

I'm always looking for ways to combine social studies skills into literacy.  I developed this printable to go with my writing legends unit.

Students wrote their own legends and made a map of the setting.  You can decide if you want them to create the map on the graph paper, or if you want them to create a map on another sheet of paper and use the key for a guide.

I found that as my students created their maps they added details to their stories.  The maps became a bulletin board with their illustrations.

Click here to get a free printable version of the map and key.

Writing Legends: A Hero's Quest is available in my Teachers Notebook store.

Writing Legends is also available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

I recently read and reviewed The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg.  The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is set in the same time period and also deals with the lack of opportunities for women at the time. 
 This book, set at the end of 1899, could just as easily been titled The Education of Calpurnia Tate. Calpurnia lives on a farm with her family. She wants to check out a copy of Darwin's Origin of Species at the public library, but is denied. She tells her grandfather and this begins a connection between the two of them and a study of nature.

I found the questions about gender roles in the era insightful. The conflict between religion and science was respectfully presented in my opinion.

Click here for a free printable graphic organizer for students to evaluate how a character trait can create problems and solutions.

For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy First Mother's Day, Laurel!

Laurel is a teacher at my school and a faithful reader of my blog. She keeps me honest. 

She sometimes asks questions or comments about my posts in person and in the comments section.  Since she knows me in real life, she knows the truth. 

A few weeks ago she commented on a post I made two years ago about teacher evaluations and asked me if I still thought that way.  I appreciate the accountability.  I know what I post here has to reflect my day-to-day teaching.

Last Friday, Laurel gave birth to a beautiful little girl.  All of us on staff were stalking our Facebook pages waiting for good news.  We're tight like that and I appreciate it.

Congratulations, Laurel.  We can't wait to meet her in person.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Decomposing Fractions Freebie

Click here for the free downloadable document Decomposing Fractions.

Our adopted curriculum isn't aligned with common core.  I created this two page activity to show my students how to decompose fractions and write the corresponding equations. 

I was surprised at how many conversations this assignment generated.  As I circulated the class watching them work and listening to the discussions, I discovered several students didn't understand adding and subtracting fractions conceptually.

I used this as an informal assessment to determine who needed additional help.
Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Boomtown by Nowen N. Particular


I was looking for some resources for Washington State History when I came across this book.  I enjoyed reading it, but even though the setting is northeast Washington, there is nothing historical about it.

Boomtown is the setting for Chang's Famous Firework Factory.  A new pastor moves to town with his family and they discover what an odd but friendly community Boomtown is.  The story quickly moves into fantasy, but I was entertained if not educated.

For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Linking Up with Primary Inspiration

I just linked up with Primary Inspiration.  Come see what some Teachers Pay Teachers have on their wishlist.

The Teacher Who Laughs

The Teacher Who Laughs

I am the teacher who laughs
And my students laugh with me
Because learning should be fun
Not this scripted curriculum
Not that box of materials
Let's do an experiment
Let's read under our desks
Let's write poems of silliness
Childhood is too important
To only learn how to take tests.
During the month of April I did two poetry challenges, one for students and one for adults.  One of the adult challenges was to write a self-portrait poem.  This was my result.

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