Monthly Archives: May 2013
I’m more than a little jealous of those of you who are done for this school year. I personally can’t wait for the weather to warm up a little bit and start my daily outings with my own kids – you know, the ones I gave life? It’s been a chilly and rainy May, and I’m hoping for a nice warm and sunny summer. I have so many plans for the beach, picnics, playing at the park, and finding new places on this little island that perhaps I haven’t seen yet. Below is a shot of the fam from last summer. We camped that evening with some friends, went on a bit of a nature hike and ate out at one of our favorite little spots that’s only open in the summer time. All in all, a perfect stay-vacation! Insert sigh here…
However, before all of the summer fun that I have planned, I need to make it through the final month of my school year!
On that note, Laura from Corkboard Connections, was kind enough to allow me to write a guest blog post for her and I’d love for you to check it out if you have a moment. I know I’m not the only one left wondering how to wrap things up in this final month of school!
Please, shoot me a comment with your best end of school year ideas so that everyone can benefit!
I was pleasantly surprised just the other day when I went to collect my mail at the post office, and found that my prize from a blog contest that I entered had arrived! You know that I love PD and professional books. Well, I won a book called Accessible Mathematics: Ten Instructional Shifts That Raise Student Achievement, from Andrea, over at For The Love of Teaching Math. (Thanks again, Andrea.) I haven’t even gotten to sit down and have a really good look yet, but I’m dying to find some time to delve in. The ideas in this book are not about completely revamping your program, but making small shifts in what you already do. Some phrases that jumped out to me in reading the book’s description: “practical” “common-sense ideas” and “streamline your teaching”. Yes, please! I’ll take one of each!
I always read at least one or two professional books over the summer – and it looks like this is going to be one of them! I know, I know. Summer time is a time of rest and relaxation, but for me a big part of the summer is also working on improving my craft and finding at least a few new ideas that I may incorporate into the next school year. (I think it’s because I still feel so lucky to have a job, with the current state of education in my area, even though I’m almost seven years in.)
Anyhow, I’m not going to commit to a “book study” on the book. I’d love to, but I think that it’s just more than I’d like to sign up for – I’m running low on energy! I know that many of you may be in the same boat. However, this is a slim, little read at under 90 pages (there are multiple Appendices in addition to that, though). Very do-able if you are looking for a professional math read this summer. It also has examples from across the grade levels, so if you teach math – you’ll find something useful to take away, I’m sure!
I’m excited to start reading and seeing what common-sense ideas it has to offer me! I’ll be sure to share my main takeaways from the book in future blog posts this summer. If you have read the book, or would like to – please be sure to comment from time to time to tell me your thoughts. A conversation about these 10 shifts would be great.
Thanks again, Andrea. You’ve made choosing a summer reading focus pretty simple this year! I hope that all is well in your state of Oklahoma.
Do you read professional resources in the summer? Do you have a book that you could recommend? Please leave a comment with the title and I’ll add the links to the bottom of this post as they come in!
Some of your favorite professional reads:
I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the lookout for a great inspirational video to show my kids, and I have found a few good ones this year. Recently, I’ve been looking into some good sites for independent films that I can show to my students, which either provide a text for discussion or written response in Language Arts, or that cross over with some of our outcomes in Social Studies and Health. I wanted to share a site that I found which looks pretty promising!
The site is called indie flix and I will tell you up front that it is a paid subscription site. That being said, indie flix has been generous enough to offer Lessons From The Middle TEN, 2 month subscriptions to share with you! How awesome is that? I’ll simply email the ten winners from the Rafflecopter widget below a redemption code and they will not be required to enter any credit card information. Winners will have two months to preview thousands of films from all over the world. Films are rated by age (although you should always preview a video before you show it to your students) and there are films from all genres and on many topics.
Let’s face it. It’s getting to “that” time of the school year
when you just want to when students begin to lose their focus, and it can be difficult to keep everyone on pace until the end. That’s why I’m pretty excited! There are many great films on the site that you could use as texts in your classroom to base a discussion around or a writing assignment. tear your hair out
Finding Kind is a video currently on free preview until May 24th, and I plan to show it to my students. It’s focused on the epidemic of girls bullying girls.
In February 2009, two young women, Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson joined forces having both been affected by female bullying throughout their youth and decided to create change by giving females a platform to speak out about this universal experience. What began as an idea for a documentary about girl-against-girl bullying, ultimately became Kind Campaign, an internationally recognized movement, documentary, and school assembly program based on the powerful belief in KINDness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl “crime.”
This is just one video on indie flix. As I said, there are thousands of films and although all are not appropriate for the classroom, but many are! There are films on everything from parkour to poverty, and all that’s needed is a teacher to see how the film could be effectively incorporated into her room.
I think that this is the perfect time of the school year to receive a two month free preview from this independent films site! Two months will take us to the end of the school year, and films on controversial or simply interesting topics will hold our kids’ attention when we need it most! Not to mention, the preview will run into the first weeks of summer. What teacher wouldn’t want to curl up with a cup of coffee and thought provoking film on a rainy July afternoon? I can’t think of any!
Would you like to receive a 2 month subscription to indie flix? Enter below!
Please feel free to share any independent film sites that you use, in the comments below, as well!
I’ve been so lucky to find wonderful bloggers, teachers and writers who are willing to add their ideas to Lessons From The Middle. This post is by Laura, from 123Contact Form and she’s sharing some info on how you can use quizzes in your classroom. We all use them, but do you ever create online quizzes?
I don’t usually take guest posts from “companies” even if the rep was once a teacher. However, I see so much potential use for these online forms in my classroom and on my own blog. Also, because my students just started their own blogs, I see tons of potential for them to create their own forms, surveys or quizzes with the tool below. Uses in math, beginning of the year surveys…so many ideas! Take it away Laura!
When speaking of evergreen teaching methods, quizzes certainly own a place in the top list. I’ve yet to encounter a K-12 teacher who hasn’t ever used at least one quiz with her pupils. This post will discuss the magic of quizzes in creating a higher level of class engagement and why it’s useful (not only trendy) to make use of online tools for designing your own.
Education quizzes come in all shapes and sizes. Trivia quiz, revision quiz, thematic quiz – the possibilities are almost endless. Pre-made quiz templates you can find on the web are a great timesaver for teachers looking to create something useful and engaging. It’s important to caliber your quiz to be “smart”, as so to challenge pupils’ knowledge level while being fun and engaging. Quizzes can help gather instant feedback from students, by students and therefore increase the level of independence in the learning process.
Why use an online app for creating your quiz?
The web holds a couple of very good tools that will help you build an electronic quiz in just a few minutes, then pass it along to kids in the classroom. This way, pupils will also get used to filling in online tests, which is a great way of building their internet culture.
With an online app such as 123ContactForm, it’s easier to share your education quiz with all the pupils, without having to create hard copies of everything. Moreover, you will be able to track responses later and get a quick overview of all data within a single dashboard.
Smart quizzes in action
During my teaching years, I used to give quizzes most often as consolidation exercises, but they can also be a great evaluation tool over various curriculum expectation categories. It’s not about separating the wheat from the chaff, but rather to engage children in an educational activity that stimulates their interest in discovering new things. Also, quizzes help triggering the natural sense of competition that leads pupils to great results.
Here are a couple of use scenarios for quizzes that students absolutely love.
- He who knows, wins!
Students divide into three groups and the teacher chooses one group leader for each. Next, the teacher offers a trivia quiz that every group leader answers independently with the help of their team in a given time. The teams are ranked: first, second and third by percentage of correct answers. Each of the participants receives a symbolic prize – cards, tokens. This type of exercise encourages discussion and interaction in the classroom, helps participants mingle together and works well before doing other activities that involve team spirit such as sports.
- Intuition Quiz
The idea of this quiz comes from Marlene Caroselli’s “500 Creative Classroom Techniques for Teachers and Trainers” (pg. 331) and works best for upper grade middle school students. It’s great for stimulating pupils to take decisions on the run and cultivate their “intuitive powers”. You can use questions such as “How many different vocal sounds can a cat make?” (100+) “How about a dog?” (10) “What is the lifespan of a dragonfly?” (24 h) Provide a range in which you believe the correct answer will fall. Pupils can be categorized as having intuitive powers if they can “guesstimate” the answer with some degrees of precision.
- Jigsaw Technique
This is a great method of learning by teaching. The class divides into groups of 5-6 students, with the most responsible of them as a team leader. Each student of the group receives a certain topic to learn (same combination for all the groups) and he should only have access to his own material. All students take a quiz before everything starts, to test their level of knowledge. Next, they form expert groups, when students of the same specialty exchange viewpoints over what they’ve learned. After that, the jigsaw recomposes and students take turns presenting their topic to their group mates. There is a final quiz to view the level of achievement at the end of the exercise.
These are just a few examples of what you can achieve in class using education quizzes. You can always vary styles and strategies. Be creative and positive outcomes will show up in no time!
I just have a quick post this evening. We got some VERY good news at my school this week. After MUCH work, and many hours we found out that we will be receiving an Indigo Love of Reading Grant for $84 000 over the next three years. Yahoo!!!!!
That’s $84 000 for books and literacy initiatives. Can you believe it? What this means to my school and our kids, I can not even describe. We are a community in need and Indigo has realized that and come to our rescue, so to speak. So, thank you so much to Indigo and all of the awesome teachers and parents who put hours of time into this application. You all rock!!!
Here’s a snippet of the telephone conversation when we found out that we were chosen. It was supposed to be an interview, to decide if our school could move to the next level. Little did we know, we were about to get some AMAZING news:)
Scroll down – we are Souris Consolidated School: Indigo Love of Reading Grant. The phone died right after we got the news and so we got cut off – but you get the idea!
Just in case you haven’t heard…
TeachersPayTeachers is having their annual Teacher Appreciation Sale today and tomorrow, May 7-8. I’ll be having a sale in my TPT Store as well! Many people find that this is the sale that they like the most! The year’s almost over and people are thinking ahead for the next school year. Wouldn’t it be nice to have yourself all stocked up so that when Back to School time rolls around you’re already set to go?
Anyhow, I had to let you know about the sale! Happy browsing!
Thank you to all who hopped on over and followed our blogs and TPT Stores last weekend! Your participation in this little event was awesome! We do have a winner to announce
Teachingisagift McKay – your resources and Amazon gift code are on the way! Congratulations! Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter!
I want to mention one more thing this evening. My post just went live on Global Teacher Connect yesterday and it’s about student blogging. I’d really encourage you to have a peek if you are currently blogging with your students OR if it’s something that you’d be interested in trying next year. I have a Collaborative Project: Student Blogging Form that you can fill out with your info so that you are able to contact each other and pair yourselves up! So far, there are teachers from Morocco, US, Canada, Ecuador and Bermuda who would like to blog this year or next! How cool is that?
If you would like to be contacted next year for blogging – just add that as a note on the form. We already have two teachers who have posted their info, who would be interested in something for next school year.
I’ve just started blogging with my students in the last month or so and we’re about to collaborate with another school on the Island and one in Ontario, Canada. The kids are trying to “fix up” their blogs a bit more for their audience – which is what we want! We want them writing for a purpose, and with an audience in mind! Anyhow, I can see this evolving into something more for next year. Maybe even a “Blog-folio” type of idea. Regular blogging would be great, but also, having their best pieces of writing displayed for an audience would be so cool. It would also be neat to see their writing abilities progress through the year. Anyhow, I am quite excited about what we’ve done with the blogs so far, although we all still have much to learn!
Check out the post on GTC and even if you’d be interested in having your students READ the student blogs and comment on them – fill out the form! The wider the audience the better! Plus, I’d love for my students to get comments from kids all around the world. That would be a big part of my ultimate goal. (I’ll be working on this next year…so stay tuned if you’re at all interested…)
That’s it for this evening! Please leave a comment here or on the Global Teacher Connect post if you have any tips or questions for me about student blogging.