Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy New Year Foldable

A friend of mine posted this foldable idea on Facebook through "WeAreTeachers" page and I loved, loved, loved it. The post directed you to THIS BLOG where the teacher modified something she saw on Pinterest.

I took the idea and modified it some more to incorporate a coloring aspect...because I can already see the earlier finishers saying "done!".

I uploaded the editable file HERE if anyone wants to download and use it.

Here are my responses to the foldable:

2 - new goals for this year: (1) Donate blood at least 3x this year and (2) Drink more water

0 - Something I'd like to stop doing: Spending money eating out and/or just eating out less in general

1 - thing I want to learn: How to make more things in my Vitamix blender besides smoothies and hummus (I do have a cookbook I just need to make the leap to opening it :)

4 - new books I want to read: (1) The Brainy Bunch by Kip and Mona Lisa Harding, (2) Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh (3) Night Broken by Patricia Briggs and (4) Innocence by Dean Koontz

Saturday, September 21, 2013

How I Teach Writing - Video

 Here is a video that I made about how I teach writing. I was exploring how teachers can use videoscribing (tech technique - see explanation HERE) to make instructional videos with the software we have in the district. I choose writing as my topic.

I have presented my writing strategies to several schools and have been video taped on how I implement writing in my classroom. I have less time to go into classrooms to teach this strategy so I thought this video might help some teachers. 

I know this is not strictly "science" but I used it when students had to write papers about animals in conjunction with what we are learning in science so I thought it would be appropriate for this blog. 

To see this video direct from YouTube (as opposed to an embedded link - CLICK HERE)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Weather Freebies - Flipchart, Homework, NB Page

First, I apologize for the long delay in between posts. I was moved into a new position (still a technology coach but servicing Title 1 school...of which we have a lot!) and I have been a little overwhelmed. 

As an apology, I have included a link to a complete weather lesson I recently created for some teachers. You will find a Promethean Flipchart (you can only download if you have the Promethean software), a copy of the blank weather map seen in the picture above, and a copy of the homework sheet (seen in picture #2). 

This is a two day lesson with the first day showing the flipchart and creating the weather map symbol cheat sheet. The second day involves taking students to the computer lab to complete the two weather activities on ( 


Thursday, May 16, 2013

YouTube Science Songs

I asked to help a group of 8th grade teachers who were given iPads this year to come up with some science lesson activities that students could do using their iPads. They were studying the theory of Continental Drift. My first go to place was of course YouTube. There I found THIS SONG by Mr. Parr's (which the kids loved!).

It turns out that Mr. Parr has got a boat load of fun science songs that he put together for his 6th graders (so warning...some of the lyrics might be too advanced for elementary). To see a complete list of songs head to his YOUTUBE SITE.

The activity I had students do required that they listen (not watch) the song. I then gave them a print out of the lyrics (also found on YouTube) and they had to create a presentation (they used educreations) to illustrate and repeat the song back. This activity can also be done in Movie Maker Live or PowerPoint and is something I might try with an elementary class next year.

The lyrics can be glued into their notebooks as either a left or right hand reference.

Book - Unit Plans (Hoot)

Hoot is one of my favorite books to read with fourth graders towards the end of the year. It goes well with our study of animals and how humans impact the environment (and it has the added bonus of having a movie to show afterward!).

I talked a new fourth grade teacher into giving it a try (which turned out to be fortuitous because they are doing a birding day this week with a local birding group). We borrowed a class set from another school and checked out the book on CD from the local library as well as the movie (warning the word "dammit" is used in the book...I never noticed before but this teacher did...after the kids went "ooooooo" they got over it). While I was looking for some Hoot lesson plans online for her I came across a site that had an EXCELLENT Hoot unit plan. It was so good (they had sample pages online to view) that I purchased it for $20 (gasp!). I thought their questions and activities provided good higher order thinking questions (good practice for the upcoming transition to Common Core). It included chapter tests as well. Some of the items are "advance" (imagery, irony, symbolism) but definitely dobable. 

The teacher LOVES it and would definitely consider other purchases from the same site. Here in South Carolina teacher's are given state money at the beginning of the year (I want to say $200) and often grade levels have some money to spend. It would definitely be worth it to review the site and purchase other book units. The units are billed as "Middle School" units but they have books that we read in elementary school (i.e. Because of Winn-Dixie, Bud Not Buddy, and Tuck Everlasting to name a few). 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

End of Year - Fun Idea

I was looking for free end of year tech ideas on TeachersPayTeachers and I came across this fun idea. You make a Word document for each child in the classroom and then have each child in your class go into the document (centers or in a computer lab) and write a positive comment (what a great way to end the school year!).

The final version can be printed out and given to each child.

Activity can be found on this TeachersPayTeachers site -

Student Self Direction - Part II

A few weeks ago I wrote about a teacher who uses student self direction learning in her class every Friday - Another teacher saw the post and has developed a game plan for next year and wrote about it on her blog ( I really like her ideas and will be following her posts closely as she implements this great teaching idea (picture of her schedule above is from her blog).

Friday, April 12, 2013

Student, Music, and Behavior

The other day I taught an iPad science lesson with a group of eight graders. After the explanation and practice student were to work independently on their project. Unfortunately these 8th graders could not work independently and quietly at the same time (not a huge surprise).

The students worked hard to fill the void of silence with smack talk across the room distracting each other and getting off task. Luckily I had a Kidz Bop 23 CD in my bag and I put it in and immediately the talking stopped (the singing, the foot taping, and head bopping started but hey they were all working).

Surprisingly children have difficulty focusing in a completely quiet environment and they seek to fill the void with unproductive noise/chatter. Having some music that can play in the background will help to greatly reduce behavior issues in these situations.

I like the Kidz Bop CD's because they feature songs the kids know but they have been filtered so there is no inappropriate language. The 8th graders scoffed at the kids singing but got over it.

If you have had problems with behavior during independent work consider adding music into the mix and see what happens!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Non Fiction Reading Passages (great for sub work!)

A friend told me about this site in conjunction with a grad school assignment. I was particularily drawn to the nonfiction reading passages you could download along with text questions.

Not only did I find applicability with the new Common Core focus on non-fiction text reading but I also thought it was a great site for supplemental instructional material for notebooks as well as substitute material.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Read Across America - Dr. Suess and Science

Tomorrow is Read Across America Day and I have been asked to be a guest reader in two schools.
The first school I will be reading in a second grade class and the second school I will be a reading in an open time slot in their gym.
Because tomorrow is Friday, I can wear jeans and my Dr. Seuss shirt, I thought I would have a little fun. I choose to read Bartholomew and the Oobleck with the second graders. They study weather and the book can be tied to weather as the King in the story becomes sick of the normal things that fall from the sky and asks for something different. Then I asked the teacher if we could make oobleck afterward and tie it into what they had learned about solids and liquids. The teacher was pretty agreeable. I think that is mainly because most of the teachers have given up on tomorrow because, on top of guest readers and various reading events, everyone is wearing their PJ's (note to self - find Dr. Seuss PJ's!). The science teacher in me is happy that I can tie literacy into science tomorrow. As a tech teacher (now) I have also downloaded the YouTube video above (Steve Spangler on Ellen) to show the kids and I plan to video tape the kids making and playing with the oobleck for the teacher's webpage.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"How to Make a Poster" Poster

I made this poster a few year ago from book I got from my mother-in-law (who found it at a garage sale). Here is a link to the book on AMAZON and better yet (!) a link to the FREE PDF of the book.

UPDATE - Apparently the PDF site is down. Luckily I downloaded it before it went down and I have it uploaded HERE.

I copied some of the templates from the book and made a "How to Make a Poster" poster (the kids think that is the funniest thing!).

I left it up on the wall and earlier finishers were directed to the poster to pick a layout to make a poster for the classroom on whatever topic we were covering at the time. This could also be used as a guide for a right hand poster assignment.

It currently resides in a friends classroom and she is using it in a similar fashion.

Social Studies, Art, ELA, and Paul Revere

I saw this in one of the hallways at a school I work in and I really liked the concept. The art teacher tied in learning about people in the American Revolution, jobs/apprenticeships, and art all in one activity.

I thought this would make a good "right hand" assignment in a notebook. The left hand side could contain the poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (YouTube has a pretty good dramatic reading of the poem - HERE). The poem could be introduced in an ELA class in relation to poets, stanzas, and rhyming schemes. The children would then make "silver" teapots for the right hand side of the notebook.

"Cell" Phone - Student Samples

I would like to thank Mrs. Johnson who allowed me to try out the "cell" phone activity in her 5th grade class. It went pretty well. It turned into a two day activity. I was hoping it could be done in one class period but with a "cell" intro and cutting out all the little pieces it ran into a second day (to finish cutting, matching, and gluing). The "cell" phone was a plant cell because of its shape.

Mrs. Johnson had another cell cut out activity for an animal cell and had students do it for their left hand assignment.

We listened to this cell rap song on YouTube, which the kids LOVED. I was thinking that the lyrics (which are listed in the "about" section of the song) could go on the right hand side with the phone going on the left.

Probably the best moment was when we were half way through the activity a 5th grader blurted out that he finally got why it was called a "cell" phone. Ha!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Rock Cycle Activity

Today I got to spend the day with a 3rd grade science teacher doing a rock cycle activity.

She had asked for help a couple of weekends ago to find some engaging rock cycle activities for her students. I quickly did a Pinterest search and came up with a link to a middle school blog where they featured a fun looking rock cycle station activity. That website took me to the originating activity site - Illinois State Museum Geology Online and their Ride the Rock Cycle activity.

I read through it and felt it was doable for third graders (although I was a little nervous about the cartooning). I offered my help and we put together the activity.

The kids did it WONDERFULLY. It was one of those lesson you wish was observed (but of course never is :) They are on an alternating science schedule so she only had two of the four classes today but it was a good sampling of children. She had one class that had a high portion of struggling learners and the second class had a high portion of gifted and talented children (so the lesson was completed across the spectrum and every child did wonderfully).

The children rotated between seven stations (see first picture - my printer was running out of ink!). The pictures aren't included in the activity but I thought they would be helpful for kids as they rotated. I printed out two copies of the cubes for each station and that was a GOOD idea (in fact I might recommend three copies of the cube - I color coded the stations and cubes with dots so that I could match the cubes to the right station - another GOOD idea). Some stations got a lot of kids and we had to wait awhile as they rolled and wrote down what happened to them (as a rock) at that station.

Once they were done I had five volunteers (individually) go to their first station, tell us as a group what happened, and we had to guess where they went (example: the child is at the volcanic station and told us that he became volcanic dust and went into the atmosphere and we guessed where he would go next). That is not in the instructions but worked as a review for us.

I modified the cartoon page in the activity to fit in the notebook (right hand activity - see bottom two pictures where they illustrated what happened to them in the rock cycle). Then I gave them lyrics to this song I found on YouTube - which we watched twice...once for viewing and the second time for participation to put on the other side of the notebook (the lyrics were put on the left hand side of the notebook - see fourth picture). I modified the song using Movie Maker Live to cut out the annoying bit in the beginning and end (which would have distracted the students I was working with).

The teacher, students, and myself all had a good time (learning) and the teacher is going to do it unassisted with her other two groups tomorrow.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Research Project - Illustrated Rubrics

As most readers know I am in a program getting my second master's degree in education from the University of South Carolina. This degree is focusing on elementary science education and I am in the last semester (insert happy dance!).

One of the big assignments I have to do is an action research project focusing on science. I decided to do my research on student self assessment and the impact of rubrics on notebook work. Mentally I have been playing around with the idea for a couple of years but since I left the classroom there was no real "push" for me. This project gave me the "push" I needed to implement.

Since I don't have a regular classroom this year I am using a friends classroom. I developed illustrated rubrics for five typical notebook assignments, each scored from a level of 1 (not great) to 4 (being the best work) - see bottom four pictures. I introduced the rubrics to her students and gave them an opportunity to grade pre-collected work samples from the class based on the rubrics (see pre-collected work samples in pictures 2 and 3). We discussed what the difference was between a piece of work scored at one and another scored at a four (children discussed the differences).

I put the rubrics in a bulletin board display (see first picture) for them to reference. For the next five weeks I will be teaching her Wednesday science class and giving them notebook assignments based on the five I have posted to see how they approach the work. I am giving them the opportunity to grade their work before turning it in on the posted scale of 1-4. I'm curious to see if discussing self assessment and giving them models will impact their effort, in turn impacting their material retention, in turn impacting their assessments.

Ideally  I would like to see students take more ownership of their learning and to identify that they are responsible for their grades.

I've taught one lesson and was impressed that all the students were working hard to get a 4. One child, who graded himself on his pre-collected work (foldable) at a 1 turned around and graded himself at a 4 on the next foldable he did (and it was a solid 3.5/4 work when I graded it).

I went with illustrated rubics because this is a low income school with many struggling readers. In the future I would like to put all these rubrics in a brochure that they reference in their notebook but I am not there yet (one day!).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Energy Rap

I saw this site being used in a class the other day and I wanted to see if there were other videos/songs that could be used. I saw a nice free Energy Song that would be perfect for our 6th grade teachers who teach a lot of these concepts and I liked their game show Even/Odd video and Capitalization enough to send the link to our first and third grade teachers.

The site is subscription based with a 14 day free trial. I wish you could test and buy individual songs as opposed to having a monthly subscription or buying an entire CD (when you only want one song).

Most of the songs seem more middle/high school orientated. I wouldn't get a subscription if I was in the classroom (but I would certainly use the free songs if they applied!).

"Cell" Phone Attempt

This was my attempt at make a "cell" phone. It didn't turn out too badly. It got a laugh out of a fifth grade class who saw it. I am going to be doing this activity with a fifth grade class soon and I'll post pictures of their finished product and let you know how it goes. I gave them some apps on the front page to decorate once they are finished the "cell" part of the activity (so earlier finishers have something to do). These could be easily glued on the right hand side of any notebook.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Water Cycle/States of Matter Website

I had a second grade teacher ask me to help find a computer lab activity for her kids related to the states of matter.

I came up with a lesson using Brain Pop Junior (free for South Carolina teachers through Discus) but I also found this Study Jams site through Scholastic. I watched the Solids, Liquids, and Gas one and that was pretty good. I really liked the song that went with it (although I wasn't a huge fan with how long it took to load).

They also have a Water Cycle video as well (which sadly doesn't have a song :)

I wish they had more videos but they only have two math ones (fractions and determine the missing operation).

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Student Directed Learning Form

I recently had an opportunity to visit a couple of elementary school in Charleston, SC. The schools were using iPads and we were there look at student use of the devices in the classroom.

I visited a fourth grade class at Goodwin Elementary School and the teacher (Mrs. Feit) happened to mention a student self directed schedule on Friday and I became very interested in that (as opposed to the iPads...although that was pretty cool to :)  She let me take pictures of the forms she used (see above) and told me a little bit about how the process works.

On Thursday students fill out their forms of how they want to spend their time on Friday (academically). The teacher has some non-negotiable for that day (Word Master Test, math block, reading block). All the other blocks are for children to fill out. They can finish work they are behind in, practice skills they are rusty in, etc. The forms get turned into the teacher to approve on Thursday. The student has to note the activity/material they are going to do and the reason why they are using it.

Mrs. Feit is on a two man team (she teaches ELA and Social Studies I believe) so both teachers use this form for Friday implementation. They start it at the beginning of the year with more teacher directed items in the schedule gradually releasing it to more student directed items in the schedule. Children who have problems self directing their work continue to get more teacher directed items throughout the year.

I love this idea. It gives students an opportunity to feel in charge of their learning, gives them valuable skills regarding making a schedule and adhering to it, and allows them to analyze what they need to finish or work on. I wish I could visit this classroom on the implementation day (I was there on Thursday).

I told Mrs. Feit that I was going to post on my blog and she was very kind about answering my questions.

This is an older school that serves a lot of low income families. I definitely felt that if they were implementing this with success there it can be done anywhere. I wish I could have stayed and asked a lot more questions.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cells - Funny :)

I saw this on Pinterest and laughed out loud, after I was done I thought mmmm....this might make a good right hand notebook assignment.

You could get a template of a cell phone and students would have to create a "cell" phone. It can be glued into the right hand side of your notebook.

I showed it to a friend who teaches 5th grade (where cells are introduced in the standards) and she was all game to do this with her kids. I am in the process of trying to put together a template to use with her class and will post when I am done.