Monday, October 16, 2017

Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Social Studies Classroom

Are you looking for some high-interest books for your secondary Social Studies classroom?  Would you like to read to your classes?  Read this post about the books teachers recommend the most!


Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Social Studies Classroom: A Long Walk to Water, Refugee, A Moment Comes, Number the Stars, Iqbal, Bamboo People, The Breadwinner, Red Scarf Girl, The Boy on the Wooden Box, My Brother Sam is Dead, Newsela



A Long Walk to Water

This book has very short chapters, sure to keep their interest and great for reading about ten minutes a day.  It's about two children living in Sudan and the long walks they take to get what they need to survive.


Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Social Studies Classroom: A Long Walk to Water




Refugee

A newer edition, and another book that has multiple viewpoints telling the story.  This time, it's refugee children from Nazi Germany, Cuba, and Syria.  All are trying to find a safe home.


Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Social Studies Classroom: Refugee




A Moment Comes 

Based on the Partition of India in 1947,  this book shows covers the event through three teens from very different backgrounds (Muslim, Sikh, and British). 


Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Social Studies Classroom: A Moment Comes




Number the Stars

A great story about the kindness of families for the refugees of Nazi Germany.




Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Social Studies Classroom: Number the Stars




Iqbal 

Iqbal is based on a true story about child labor in Pakistan.



Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Social Studies Classroom: Iqbal





Bamboo People

Bamboo people is longer but it gets their attention because they are kidnapped and made into child soldiers in Burma.



Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Social Studies Classroom: Bamboo People





The Bread Winner series by Debra Ellis

This series is about families coming together to take care of each other under Taliban rule.  The heroine of the story is Afghani girl, who must pretend to be a boy so she can work to make money for her family.



Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Social Studies Classroom: The Breadwinner





This is set in 1966 Communist China, and how it impacted the life of young Ji-Li and her family as they try to survive under Mao Ze-dong's Cultural Revolution.



Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Social Studies Classroom: Red Scarf Girl







The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler's List 

This is a memoir by a child survivor of the Holocaust.  It details how the main character and his family were saved by Schindler's List.



Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Social Studies Classroom: The Boy on the Wooden Box






My Brother Sam is Dead  

This is a story about a family divided by the Revolutionary War.


Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Social Studies Classroom: My Brother Sam is Dead



Newsela Social Studies

For nonfiction leveled texts that you can either read aloud or have students read on their own.



Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Social Studies Classroom: Newsela





Be sure to come back next week for the second part of the series:  Read-Aloud Books for the Secondary Science Classroom!












Monday, October 9, 2017

How to Use Get-to-Know-You Activities Later in the Year

Don't throw away those get-to-know-you surveys you did on the first day of school!  This post gives you ideas for using that valuable information all through the school year. 

In a previous post, I talked about making Get-to-Know-You Nametags. The pictures below are the examples I use to show students how to make their own on the first day of school. 









Here are the ways I continue to use them:

1.  Have students keep them out on their desks for the first couple of weeks of school. It really helps me to memorize faces and names.  I just have the students keep the tags in their binders and put them back out on their desk each day. 


2.  Collect and alphabetize the tags after a couple of weeks. I hope-punch put them and put them in a binder. 








3. Refer to the nametags when you need to make a connection with a child.  If I have a difficult conversation with a student, such as poor grades or behavior, I make sure to look at their information afterwards. I make sure to find something we have in common and strike up a conversation with that information. 

For example, I used the fact that I also like watching The Office to make a connection with one of my students who I've been struggling with lately. 

What are some ways you use get-to-know-you activities later in the year?  I'd love some fresh Ideas!





Monday, October 2, 2017

No-Tech Ways to Teach and Assess Vocabulary in Core Subjects

Are you searching for meaningful ways to teach, review, and assess vocabulary in the core subjects?  Then I have what you're looking for in this post!

4-Square Vocabulary Template
I like to assign the Definition and Graphic part of the 4-square vocabulary for homework prior to the instruction of those concepts.  This front-loads the the information so students are reading to participate in class discussions.

Read more about how I use this technique by clicking here.

No-Tech Ways to Teach and Assess Vocabulary in Core Subjects: 4-Square Template




Review Games
After all the vocabulary has been thoroughly taught, we play review games from my Vocabulary Review Games Packet.


No-Tech Ways to Teach and Assess Vocabulary in Core Subjects: Review Games



No-Tech Ways to Teach and Assess Vocabulary in Core Subjects: Review Games


Other fun games to play with vocabulary:

Pictionary 


Vocabulary Bingo

No-Tech Ways to Teach and Assess Vocabulary in Core Subjects: Review Games




Find Someone Who:  
This technique uses a page with squares similar to bingo. In each square is a definition. The students walk around with each other and find someone who knows the right answer. That person writes the correct answer in the box with the definition and signs their name. Spend 5-10 minutes at the end for students to share the correct responses out loud.


Word Splash
Write a vocabulary word on the board and give students 10-60 seconds to write everything they can think of relating to that word.  At the end of the time, have students move to another student's paper and repeat the process with one exception:  They may not repeat write anything already written on the paper.



Vocabulary Assessments:
The template I use to assess vocabulary knowledge includes the following activities:

Fill-in-the-blank
Write the definition in your own words
Give an example/non-example
Use the word in a sentence

Read more about how I use vocabulary assessments in this post.

No-Tech Ways to Teach and Assess Vocabulary in Core Subjects: Assessment





I made a packet for the templates for the 4-square and vocabulary test. Click here to pick up a copy of my Vocabulary Instruction and Assessment Packet.


What do you use to teach, review, and assess vocabulary?  I'd love to hear your ideas!





Sunday, September 24, 2017

5-Minute Pencil-Management System

Are you tired of students coming to class without a pencil?  Do you loan out pencils and never get them back?  I have a quick and easy solution for you!

There's a saying that goes something like this:  "If a student needs a pencil, give him a pencil. There are better ways to teach him responsibility". I agree, but I also don't want to spend my entire paycheck on pencils that grow legs and walk away. 

So, allow me to show you my 5-Minute Pencil Management System!



5-Minute Pencil-Management System

I wrap the pencils in a unique duct tape to easily identify them and place them in a magnetic pencil holder. 



5-Minute Pencil-Management System

The pencils sit in the magnetic pencil cup on the board by the door. 

Before each class period is allowed to leave, I have a student count the pencils. No one leaves until all six pencils are back in the cup. 



Easy, peasy.  You can literally set this up and maintain it in under five minutes a day. 


What are your ideas for maintaining your pencils?  I'm always looking for upgrades!






Sunday, September 17, 2017

Teacher-Approved Shoes

Teacher shoes have to fulfill many criteria: Comfort, durability, professionalism, and reasonable price. Read my post to see the brands teachers recommend the most!

My personal favorite: Crocs Mary Jane. 


Teacher-Approved shoes for comfort, durability, and professionalism.





You can search Amazon for so many diffferent styles of crocs: 
boat shoes
ballet flats
wedges
loafers
heels

Most of them are indistinguishable from expensive brands of dress shoes and they provide the comfort I love in my crocs clogs. 


Other brands my teacher friends swear by:

Tieks
Sketchers
Sperry
Birkenstock
Vionic 
Dansko 
Clarks
Toms
Dr. Marten's


Do you own any of these brands?  Do you have any suggestions of brands that should be on the list?  I'd love to hear about them!




Sunday, September 10, 2017

Constitution Day Activities

Are you searching for meaningful activities for Constitution Day?  Would you like to be able to conduct your Constitution Day activities during multiple core subjects?  If you said yes, then this post is for you!

Constitution Day activities that can be done in Language Arts and Social Studies or Civics class.   Vocabulary graphic organizer for the Preamble to the Constitution.



I always like to try to combine my social studies curriculum with my language arts, and Constitution Day is no exception. Combining my Constitution activities during both subjects means I'm not confined to a single subject or block of time.

First, I like to make an anchor chart as a class of freedoms at home and school.  I keep it up for reference during the Constitution Day activities.  More on that later!
After making the anchor chart, we read a book I LOVE, We the Kids, to teach the preamble!  It's great for read-aloud or you can assign parts of it to older students to explore.


Constitution Day activities that can be done in Language Arts and Social Studies or Civics class.   Vocabulary graphic organizer for the Preamble to the Constitution.


Flipped Classroom idea:  There's also plenty of videos on YouTube of people reading the book. You could assign the video for homework the night/days before Constitution Day.  Then, students can come in and be ready to talk about it without a read-aloud.

After reading the book and/or watching the video, we revisit our anchor chart and put stars beside the freedoms that were also mentioned in the Preamble.  

Next, I like to explore the vocabulary of the Preamble because it is so challenging robust.  I love the language used, but most students don't have any background knowledge of words like "posterity".  To do this, I use a graphic organizer.

The first version of the organizer provides support with pictures and synonyms for the meaning of the Preamble vocabulary.


Constitution Day activities that can be done in Language Arts and Social Studies or Civics class.   Vocabulary graphic organizer for the Preamble to the Constitution.



The second organizer is a "challenge" for students who are ready to tackle synonyms and vocabulary independently.


Constitution Day activities that can be done in Language Arts and Social Studies or Civics class.   Vocabulary graphic organizer for the Preamble to the Constitution.


If you'd like to pick up a copy, click here.

Do you have Constitution Day activities or materials that make the day fun?  I'd love to hear about them!



Sunday, September 3, 2017

Grandparents Day Mini Writing Unit


Would you like to show some love to your grandparents this year?  Do you need to teach descriptive writing and poetry?  Read my post on how I combine the two!


I start out by reading some mentor texts aloud to the class that demonstrate how other kids describe their grandparent's and the experiences they share.  Some of my favorites:

Grandmother’s Book of Promises by Karen Hill


Grandparents Day Mini Writing Unit: Grandparent interview, descriptive writing, grandparent poem.




Grandpa's Face by Eloise Greenfield

Grandparents Day Mini Writing Unit: Grandparent interview, descriptive writing, grandparent poem.

I give several more mentor text suggestions in my Grandparent's Day Mini Writing Unit.

After reading the mentor texts, students interview their grandparents and use that information to write a poem in their honor.  


Grandparents Day Mini Writing Unit: Grandparent interview, descriptive writing, grandparent poem.



Grandparents Day Mini Writing Unit: Grandparent interview, descriptive writing, grandparent poem.



On Grandparent's Day, the students eat lunch with their grandparents and then read their poem to them.  It's really sweet.

My Grandparent's Day Mini Writing Unit includes:
Students will interview a grandparent through either calling, emailing, or visiting them. Students will use the answers from the interview to write a poem about their grandparent(s).

This packet includes:
~Mentor text suggestions for Grandparents Day
~Grandparent Interview letter
~Template for a “You Are” poem to honor grandparents.  In this poem, students use descriptive words and phrases to describe their grandparent(s).
~Differentiated lessons for students needing scaffolding and ready for a challenge

~Rubric


Do you celebrate Grandparent's Day at your school?  If so, what mentor texts do you use?  What activities do you do with the grandparents?  I'd love to hear about it!




Sunday, August 27, 2017

Secondary Brain Break Ideas

Want to start the year off with scheduled physical activity and downtime in your classroom?  Read on to find out how I use both to capture my secondary students' attention!

1.  The Music Break: This is where I put on a song and everyone is required to walk (no running) around the classroom. They usually end up doing laps around the room, but some like to zig-zag between desks. They can also chat if they want. When the music goes off, everyone returns to their seat. 

Here's what you'll need:
Your phone Or Bluetooth-enabled music device
Appropriate popular songs (I download the instrumental version of songs with no lyrics)




2. The Review Break: This is perfect for reviewing things like procedures and expectations or chunking larger pieces of information into smaller bites. 

I have students stand up, find two people from a different table, and tell each person the answer to a review question. For example, "What are the required materials to bring to class each day?"  That means that each student has repeated and heard the answer to that question at least four times. It reviews information and gets them moving and communicating. 


3.  The Whole-Class Longer Reward Break:  My classes earn points for demonstrating responsible behavior each day. Once the class has earned 20-30 points, I allow them to spend 20-30 minutes doing a chosen activity. Some of my favorites include:
Hour of Code
BreakoutEdu Digital
Online learning games
Sustained reading
Vocabulary games


What can you add to this list?  I'd love to hear your ideas!



Sunday, August 20, 2017

Get-to-Know-You Name Tags

This get-to-know-you activity is quick and allows the teacher to quickly find out students' names and interests. They also share teacher interests with students.

I have supplies and name tag examples on each table. The examples share my information with my students, as well as show students what the finished product will look like.


Get-to-Know-You Nametags:  First day of school activity



This is the front (first and last name). We used construction paper and I asked them to make little "feet" to make it stand upright.

Get-to-Know-You Nametags:  First day of school activity



These are the the general categories on the back.  Students used markers to write their own answers. I write different things on each example so I can talk about different things with each table. For example, I might write "kickboxing" beside sports or "90s" beside music on a different name tag because I also like those things.

Some other categories I used:
Favorite band
Favorite author/book series

Feel free to change any of categories to meet your interests or needs of your students. 

What categories would you include?  



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Teacher Savior: How to Get to Sleep Fast and Stay Asleep

Would you like to get to sleep faster?  Do you wish the sleep you do get was more restful?  Then this post is for you!


Teacher Savior: How to Get to Sleep Fast and Stay Asleep



Teachers!  This time of year can do a number on our sleep if we let it. Confession: I have to really work on my sleep.

The following are the time-tested things that help me. 


1. Dim the Lights an Hour Before Bedtime
That includes all electronics, especially your phone. Change your phone's setting to "night shift mode". This is what it looks like on an iPhone.


Teacher Savior: How to Get to Sleep Fast and Stay Asleep





2. Take a Warm Bath or Shower
There's just something soothing about washing away the day's cares. Plus, I like knowing I won't have to rush to shower in the morning. 


3. Essential Oils

Teacher Savior: How to Get to Sleep Fast and Stay Asleep


I use a roller bottle of cedarwood, wild orange, frankincense, and serenity blend (DōTERRA).  I put it on the bottoms of my feet and big toe before bed. It gives me such amazingly restful sleep!  On nights I forget to use it I toss and turn a lot more. 


4.  Get in Bed 1/2 Hour Before You Need to Go to Sleep
This one is pretty simple. Put the papers that need grading and the to-do list down. Get yourself in bed with a good book or a meditation podcast. You know, things that make you feel relaxed. 


5.  Use White Noise or a Fan

Teacher Savior: How to Get to Sleep Fast and Stay Asleep



For white noise, I use the White Noise Baby app. It does cost money but it's got a bunch of different noise options, such as air conditioner, hair dryer, and vacuum. Oddly enough, I always opt for the fan noise. I also like the real thing. So don't be afraid to get an actual fan if that appeals more to you. 



6.  Use a Sleep Mask

Teacher Savior: How to Get to Sleep Fast and Stay Asleep




This might be too much for some people, but I swear it's increased my quality of sleep.  I like the Drift to Sleep mask


Those are my must-haves for a restful night. What are yours?  I can never have too many tricks up my sleeve for sleep!  





Sunday, August 6, 2017

Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder and FREEBIE

Would you like a quick and simple binder set up for your students?  How about a set up that encourages self-reflections and easy organization?  Then this post is for you!

Even though they are older, the more simplified we can make organization for school subjects, the easier it will be for middle-schoolers to perform, study, and find what they need.  It is with that in mind that I design my binder setup each year.


Tips for easy set-up:

Start with a Composition Book OR a 3-Ring Binder:
I personally prefer a 3-ring binder with loose-leaf paper because papers can easily be added or taken out without disrupting the whole notebook.

Include a Table of Contents:
I find a table of contents to be absolutely necessary for students to easily look up information or tell what's missing from their binder.  This one is from my ISN setup pack, but you can easily have the students copy the headings on notebook paper and keep that in the front of their binder.

Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder: Table of Contents


Use dividers to organize the other papers from your class.
I include the following:
  • Table of Contents:  Put about 10 pages of blank notebook paper under this tab.
  • Vocabulary:  Put about 15 pages of blank notebook paper under this tab.
  • Notes: Put the rest of the pack of blank notebook paper in this section AFTER you place the required pages under the “Table of Contents” and “Vocabulary” tab.
  • Labs
  • Study Tools 


The following is the ENTIRE list of setup materials from my Interactive Science Notebook pack.




Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder: Materials






After the general set up, you'll want to give students a way to demonstrate their understanding of what you've been teaching.


In my Interactive Science Notebook ISN Setup Freebie, you'll find ways for your students to demonstrate their knowledge such as:

Note-taking strategies

Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder: Notetaking Plan




Creating Flowcharts

Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder: Concept Map

Other output methods included in my complete ISN pack:
Cornell Note-taking
Textmapping
Thinking Stems
Question Starters
Acrostics
3-2-1
T-Chart (compare and contrast)
Venn Diagram
RAFT writing
Vocabulary

Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder: Acrostic

Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder: Venn Diagram



How do you set up your binders?  What else is important to you that's not part of this post?  I'm always looking to make my set-up better each school year!