Monday, April 28, 2014

Whew! Testing is Over....

... and we charge toward the end of the year with purpose! Resolve! 19....18....17.... This is my least favorite time of the year. For the homeroom teachers, every management trick that worked all year is either scrapped or completely retooled. The testing is DONE! Now it's just a waiting game. It's a difficult time to focus for teachers and students, alike. For an ESOL teacher, for every plan you think up, create, and prepare materials for, it feels like four of those will be cancelled. The fun part is not knowing until you go to a class to pull-out students and all the lights are off, little or no warning. Then, the test results come in, and boy, does that bring its own flurry of activity. So, as I begin to already scratch out plans I created this weekend, I have to adjust my attitude. I'll miss my students, and I won't get as much time to reach classroom goals with them or even say a proper, "Good luck in middle school. We'll see each other soon." By year three, I'll be better prepared to only see them a time or two a week until the end of school, I suppose. In the meantime, this little fella made me smile, I hope he can do the same for you. Gotta love Kid President! Remember, you've worked hard all year! You woke up every day because this is your calling. Administrators may have changed, curricula may have changed, expectations from higher ups may have changed. When a child succeeds, when a child is grateful, and when a child shows evidence of growth, we all remember, hopefully. We remember that any job has challenges, but ours has some pretty awesome rewards.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Exposing It - "Four-Letter Words" Review Game

Watching TV CAN be educational! I have always loved game shows, especially the ones with celebrities. Imagine my excitement when Hollywood Game Night debuted. On the first episode I caught, I found the next game for my students. I envisioned the perfect game for review. In my class, I already have the "I Used an Adult Word" wall, so it's only right that the game I discovered was "Four-Letter Words." Here is the clip I saw on TV.

For review, I came up with four letter words from all the 5th grade subjects, and we played some review. I had enough words for a few rounds. At first, I was running for the letters. By the end, my students knew how to run the game themselves. They weren't quite as fluid as I was, but they'll get it in time. See the result.

My voice screeching is so unpleasant to me!! Can you pretend to unhear me?  =)
Isn't it awesome?! Goes to show that it's fun taking risks on my lesson planning sometimes. Hope it inspires you to not to only play more in your class, but to also find inspiration anywhere. You never know what might strike you.

And a side note... I do promote play. We do play to learn a lot in my classes. Please don't think that that's all we do, but it's sure fun to share these moments, my avenue to differentiation. I think it's more fun to use my blog to expand our creativity in this manner. From other teachers, I am always researching methods like Daily 5, guided reading, writer's workshop, and on and on. I've got my eye out!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Using Commas in a Series (List)

Hi gang! I've got a brand new product up. This time, I've posted something useful for first graders and up. This is the first time that students see the standard, but I've taught enough grades to know that this lesson is not lost on any grade in elementary, especially ELLs. This set is differentiated. I always try to offer that for you. Even in my tiny classes, I have levels so spread out that it's difficult to have one type of work to give them. You'll find variety in this packet that I hope you can appreciate. Click on the images below to see the product at TPT. Please pin it if you think your followers could use it.

Coming up very soon, I have a few great posts. The posts I have in the works is a dynamic description of all the things you can do with travel brochures. I'll be sure to have some product for you, strictly for you convenience, but as always I try to just offer suggestions. Travel brochures, are after all, free for the taking! I do love those things. I've been slightly obsesses since childhood.

Another post is about another review game that we did in class today (the video is just not ready) that was inspired by Hollywood Game Night. I was worried it wouldn't be as great as it is on TV, but it was! Happy day. Can't wait to share the video.

And finally.... (takes deep breath), after testing is over, I love to squeeze in the longer-term projects. This year, I get to collaborate with the 4th grade social studies and science teacher. We are going to do a Westward Expansion project. I can't share much now, but it involved an amazing app that I've since become hooked on in the name of project planning! At least I know it'll hook the kids, they'll learn from it.

I look forward to getting these post ready for you. We start testing tomorrow. I'm a read aloud test administrator. It's definitely not the best time to be up, but you can't tell creativity to call it a night. Goodnight all! Hope you're finding inspiration!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chop Suey - Perfect Testing Review Dishes

I have a late one for you readers. I had the best time with this lesson, and I couldn't wait to share it... but, I had to do some Spring Breaking first! So here it is, my Chop Suey review lessons. This is a great, interactive way to connect students with the text and to check their comprehension. Let me start with the prep for this lesson first.

I was able to get a dozen to-go boxes, a dozen sets of chopsticks, and a dozen fortune cookies for $3 from my local Chinese restaurant. I made an 11pm run, so I was willing to pay much more. I was floored and so appreciative of the deal. "I'm a teacher" can be a powerful phrase! There are two Chop Suey lessons I've created. One is arranging a short story; the other, finding the main idea.

Story Chop Suey 
I found stories online and cut them up by sentences. For the product listed below, the stories are mine, completely original, so no worries about infringement. In each to go box, I put the story sentences on white paper that I curled. I also added the other parts, title choice and ending choice. Titles were printed on one colored paper, and story endings were printed on another. Students were instructed to put the white "noodles" in order, using all of them. They were then instructed to choose the BEST title and the BEST ending to the story. Once everything had be chopsticked out of the to go box and taped down, students read their story one more time. When they decided as a group that their story sounded correct, I gave them a story key to check their work.

Main Idea Chop Suey
I put out 8 boxes around the room, and in each box, I put 4 sentences. One sentence was the main idea. I timed the students to see how quickly they could find the main idea. When they were finished picking out the main idea with their chopsticks, I ran to check their answers and told them how many were right, how many were wrong. 

After they had them all correct, I asked students to tell me the main idea and use the phrases from the anchor chart to cite and defend why they thought they'd chosen the main idea correctly. Once finished, we checked the key to see the sentences together.

My ESOL kids loved using the chopsticks. Some had never had the opportunity to try. My students did a great job, and it gave us all a lot of confidence in their reading and comprehension. I've created the packets below that would be convenient for you to purchase; but honestly, plenty of stories are available online, too.

Get out there and get those Chinese food supplies. I'm still figuring out how many ways I can use them. For all of those testing now or in the near future, good luck to you and your kids. Hope they're all kissing and nurturing their brains! Before I link the product from TPT, here is a fortune cookie message. One fortune for you, one fortune for your students.

I hope the pictures help you see what is going on and how you can use the product. You simply print the pages, some on different colored paper, then cut the sentences into strips. Curling is optional, but if you plan on integrating the chopsticks, it makes it more manageable. Flat sentence strips may be impossible to pick up, and that's coming from a pro.... basically! Click on the images below to purchase your own copy on TPT.

Good luck! Thanks ahead of time for any feedback.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Spring Break... Woohoo!

I'm awful at breaks! I chalk this up to being a (still) new teacher. One day, I'll get this right. For me, Spring Break is for 1. catching up on sleep; 2. catching up on housework; 3. squeezing in every possible doctor's appointment ; 4. catching up on work; 5. and maybe some fun planning out the summer vacation. It's not that I'm not going anywhere. I'm hoping that by the end of the week, my mom and I can take off on a roadtrip to Charleston. Mom and I are road warriors, whereas, my husband would prefer a plane to fly him to his destination. Too bad he doesn't get a Spring Break.  I guess it's just us gals. So, wherever you are in your year, I hope you're basking in the countdown to summer. As the end of my two years have approached, I get all jazzed about how I plan to do things next year. Being away from the students will be bittersweet. As I've said before, most, if not all of them, are pretty good bucket fillers. 

With that, I will be back with a few things as I remember and file them, but I do plan on taking it easy for the rest of the week. My body is telling me I have to.

I am honestly stoked about getting to Charleston. I look forward to getting my Vitamin D, being outside, capturing new sights with my camera, eating great food, and enjoying time with my mom.