Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May Freebies your students’ knowledge of world geography with this easy-to-use freebie! This lively set of four no-prep activities from Spark Creativity inspires students to connect literary characters to the modern world.
 12 free Southern Colonies task cards to use for review or a center.             This freebie includes 5 lessons using a newspaper as the source: Summarizing, Skimming, Theme, Persuasion, and Opinions. Used many times in the classroom, thick and thin questions are a great way to encourage students to pose interest, deeper questions and move their understanding towards higher order thinking.

Includes three tests and answer keys. All three test include the eight parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Here's an Idea

Subjunctive Article
Arlene Manemann TpT Store:  Arlene Manemann the various parts of CCSS ELA, it was a surprise to us when we saw ELA 8, 1c and 3a - "Using the Subjunctive".  Though students were used to reading and writing the subjunctive mood, lessons on the subjunctive had not been part of our middle school curriculum.  They had seen thesis statements like, "If Edison were alive in the 21st Century, what would he say about his inventions?" and had created similar statements.  In addition, in their Spanish classes the subjunctive mood was being taught; but they were frustrated as they had to learn about mood in Spanish, which they'd not heard about in our school's English classes.

This is changing with the development of the Common Core ELA/Language Skills.  Now students in 8th grade should learn that verbs have mood and how tense is affected by that mood.  Back to the drawing board - and create new lessons!

Terms such as conditional, indicative, hypothetical, and supposition will need to be taught.  All those years of hammering correct subject/verb usage will have to be amended.  It actually is sometimes correct to say "he were" and "she go"!  Consequently, I made a unit to use while teaching the subjunctive.

It is very important to note that we also went back into our lessons on other topics and inserted references to the subjunctive so that it didn't have that solitary appearance that seems to say, "Get through this lesson, kids, and you don't have to think about it again."  They need to know it is more common than appears at first and that, "Were I president, this is what I'd do", uses the past tense of 'to be' correctly - by way of the subjunctive mood.


Getting Spidey and Killing the Question

by Mrs. E Tpt Store: Mrs. E's Literature Daydreams

Hi all, I’m Mrs E. I teach English and English Literature at a large secondary school in England.
Each week I see around 10 different classes aged from 11 – 18 years old.  I love my job, I mean, I
really love my job.  Most days the kids in my classroom stagger me with their humour, intelligence
and curiosity.  But…we all have days when we can’t drag our heads off the table and today I wanted
to share with you some of the ways I have tackled student apathy head on.


Getting Spidey

This whole class activity is deceptively easy to set up and it not only gets students up and out of their seats, but also enhances and deepens their knowledge and understanding.
In a nutshell

This is a whole class mind-map.
I use themes or concepts from literature, but you could use key words, facts or knowledge from any unit.  The idea is that students use string and post-it notes to link ideas across the classroom.
Deets (Details):

  1. Decide what concepts, ideas, knowledge you want students to link / compare / explore.
  2. Print on individual sheets and place around the room.
  3. Place students in pairs and give them piece of string, blue-tac, post-it notes.
  4. Students use the string to physically connect the sheets and then write the connection on the post-it note.
  5. Ask students to make as many links as they can between the sheets placed around them.
  6. They should put as much information as possible on post-it notes as possible and then hang these from the string. 


Need a more permanent class mind-map?  The spider-web works just as well on the wall – see below.  All the details are the same except I use paper on the wall and double-sided sticky tape.

 Kill the question
Another ‘involving’ activity that challenges students to think deeply.  This one tackles an essay question, problem or exam task.

In a nutshell:
The activity is based on CSI and the idea is that students gather evidence to “kill” or in some cases “resurrect” the question (problem, task).  You nominate the "question" (for question each time read essay, problem, task etc). Then in pairs students are asked to gather evidence from a variety of locations to prove or disapprove the question.

Deets (Details):
  1. Decide on the topic for exploration – this is your dead body – you can see that one of the essay questions we tackled was “Freedom is a redundant idea.”
  2. If you are bold enough – draw round a student on the floor and write the question in the middle.  You can see I have done this with chalk on the carpet (it comes off, mostly) or on paper. 
  3. Now you have your dead body. Your students need to investigate.  They gather evidence and write this on cards that you place around the dead body (question).
    How you manage that is up to you.
    You could:
    1. Ask groups of students to look at the question from different points of view.
      So for the “Freedom is redundant” question. I had different groups of students find evidence for or against it from: History, Art / Literature, Music & Film, Current Affairs, Religion, Science etc.
      When I am using this activity as part of a Novel Study – I might ask pairs of students to present evidence for or against an idea from the point of view of a character, or from a particular chapter or scene.
    2. Ask groups or pairs to argue for or against the idea from their own knowledge and opinion.
      1. You have gathered your evidence. Now it’s time to evaluate it together and decide whether the question stays dead or receives a miraculous resurrection.

      I often use Kill The Question as an essay planning task.  The evaluation stage is then where we begin to explore the strength and weaknesses of different arguments.  We decide whether we can link certain pieces of evidence together. Or whether some evidence stands in direct contrast with others.

      We then write our plan or summary of the idea and its strengths and weaknesses together.

    I hope you enjoyed reading about these ideas.
Check out and follow my TPT store for lots of interactive and engaging activities, including this freebie with 25+ ideas for increasing student talk. If you are an ELA teacher, you might like my new growing bundle full of Shakespeare Activities and Resources.

    Monthly Agendas Set the Pace

    by Connie Casserly TpT Store: Connie

    With every unit that they design, teachers strive to inspire their students with lessons that are motivational, interactive, and meaningful.  Formulating plans into modules that do this while reinforcing previously learned concepts, promoting comprehension and instilling deductive, critical and analytic thinking skills is a challenge.

    When teachers introduce new concepts, they need to offer their students activities where the latter can Hear, Read, Think, Write, Speak and Do as often as possible.  Lessons that communicate specific assessments and outcomes, clear teacher (Directed Method) and student-centered (Constructivist Method) activities, as well as opportunities for students to accept ownership of their work lead to success and satisfaction for teachers and their charges. In other words, for optimal learning, they need to strategically combine both methods into a Teach Me, Help Me, Let Me strategy.

    When designing monthly plans, teachers should consider:

    • Who is learning (student needs and learning styles)
    • What students know/must learn (knowledge/understanding)
    • Where students are to end up (goals)
    • When they are to learn (Time-Frame)
    • Why (objectives: begin with the end in mind)
    • How (Teaching Strategies)
    • Closure (Three ideas/concepts/skills students take with them each day)

    Each unit takes approximately one month, depending on the number and the length of class periods. Grammar and vocabulary lessons stem from the reading comprehension and writing activities. For the grammar lessons, the concepts reinforced or taught are dependent on the skill needs students reveal in their writing. Vocabulary lessons may focus on grade level literary terms that stem from the reading or on teacher-generated lists.  Activities and examples reinforce any new material.

    This method offers students a time- management rubric that builds responsibility.  Students receive the calendars at the beginning of each unit. This way, they are always aware of class work, homework, projects, tests, etc. and can prepare accordingly. Excuses for unfinished homework or for coming to class unprepared for planned assessments diminish.  Ensuring that parents get an agenda-electronically or by another method- shows students that teachers and parents are working together for the students’ success.

    The malleability allows for adjustments according to class needs and student understanding.  By incorporating elasticity, teachers ensure that the material will be covered and the standards met, even with interruptions, i.e. standardized testing, snow days, or assemblies. Most days a literature discussion will comprise the bulk of the period. Discussions of the reading offer flexible time frames which can be lengthened or shortened, depending on the students’ needs. If teachers have to combine some activities into group or individual work, or shorten vocabulary and grammar activities, they still can ensure that crucial standards remain a part of the lesson.

    Studying the writing process takes place on days when the teacher and students brainstorm essay topics, and also on peer critique days. Since the more they write the better they will master the What they Write along with the How they Write It concepts, ten to fifteen minute Warm- Ups work while the teacher takes roll. Some days, teachers may focus on specific issues that appear in papers during grading by choosing anonymous student examples for Warm-Up prompts that reinforce grammar, usage and writing principles.

    Beneficial Monthly Agenda Planning Hints
    1. When deciding on the day-by-day class work and assignments, plan for essays, tests, projects and other graded assessment to be due Mondays through Thursdays to avoid burn-out. Slate graded work for a Friday only if the school follows a Block Schedule where classes meet every other day, leaving Monday for grading. Weekends should not be used for grading.
    2. For assignments that take a more extensive review, set a different due date for each class. With only one packet to grade each day, this work won’t be overwhelming. For example, with three classes completing projects for The Crucible by Arthur Miller, schedule one each for the two days preceding the final test, and the third due the day after the test.
    3. Schedule shorter assessments, i.e. quizzes, which can be graded quickly, for the same day.
    4. Monthly plans mean that teachers never have to worry about life getting in the way of teaching. When family emergencies, illnesses, unannounced observations and other factors threaten their stress level, they have their preset agendas ready.
    5. With this method, teachers may expend their energies where they are most needed -with the students. 
    6. After some tweaking and explanations, teachers can leave these plans for a substitute. Instead of a class discussion, the students can work individually or in groups to address the material.

    Monthly agendas offer clear communication between teachers and their students, teachers and parents, and teachers and administrators.  The objectives are always set from the first moment of planning, and the activities, assignments, projects and assessments follow.  The calendars offer smooth and productive educational journeys.

    Set the pace and enjoy some peace with monthly agendas.

    Try these three FREE coordinating activities
     Comprehension Assessment Activity - "Exit Pass"
    Comprehension-Reviewing Texts Activity: Tying it All Together
    Reading Comprehension & Writing -What Do I Know? How Do I Know It?
    This FREE 10-page activity offers teachers 8 activities that will help students will advance their understanding of each aspect of Bloom's Taxonomy: Remember/Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate and Create.

    This unit plan for 'The Crucible' by Arthur Miller is 51-pages and based on CCS and Bloom's Taxonomy. For grades 7-12, it contains day-by-day lesson plans, vocabulary, act-by-act study questions, 27 worksheets, as well as essay and project topics and a test with the answer key.

    Re-Thinking an Investigation of the Protestant Reformation

    by Doc Running Tpt Store: Hands on Education with Doc Running

    I recently discovered the short video series "Crash Course," produced by John Green and his brother.  Green started with social studies topics, but has expanded to science and other topics.  While the videos can be a bit hit and miss, I admit that I enjoy the occasional viewing. At times, Green has an unusual take on historical periods.  For example, in the video "Crash Course: Renaissance," Green argues that the Renaissance didn’t actually happen. This year, I thought I’d get a little “Crash Course” perspective on the Protestant Reformation. What stood out most from Green’s "Crash Course: Reformation" was Green’s proposal that long before Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Occupy Wall Street protestors, Martin Luther - creator of the 95 Theses- and other European reformers participated in some of the world’s earlier protest movements.

    Of course, it's completely logical to look in history and consider how these people also stood up for their beliefs. However, I hadn't really thought of the Reformation as a protest in the modern sense.  By approaching the Reformation from this point of view, my students would be able to make clear connections between modern times and history - an integral aspect of teaching history.

    My new approach to the Protestant Reformation begins in modern times and then later travels back to the days of Martin Luther and Jan Hus.

    Part 1
    In this inquiry-based introductory lesson, students working in groups explore the roots of protest and reform. They examine a set of photos of various protest movements from different eras and answer:

    -What is happening in the photos?
    -What are some common characteristics?
    -Why do you think these photos are grouped together?

    Students discern that all the photos are examples of protests.

    The students often identify the protests as being peaceful.  They also observe that the protesters are unhappy about an issue and want a specific change. 

    Out of this first step, we infer two big ideas: something is being protested and a specific change or reform is being called for.  On the board, I write the words Protest and Reform.  These words stay up for several days, as before we head back to Martin Luther and the Protestant reformers, the students first launch their own protests.

    Part 2
    Students adopt an issue individually or in small groups. The campaign should include the issue that the students want to protest and the desired reform. A specific platform is necessary for a successful campaign. For example, students may remember hearing about the recent Occupy Wall Street protests. This is a good example of a protest about an issue, but without a uniform platform about specific policies that they wanted to change. As part of the campaign, the students will create posters, ads, tweets, pins, campaign songs, opinion articles, etc. to launch the campaign. Once students have completed a set of campaign pieces, it’s time to share their campaigns. I used a “science fair” style of presenting where half the class set up their campaigns and the other half went around the classroom learning about the issues and calls for reform and then the groups switched.

    Part 3
    After students have created their own protest campaigns, I introduced the protests of Martin Luther in his 95 Theses.  I added letters to words “Protest” and “Reform” so they became “Protestant” and “Reformation.” Then, the students examined Luther’s 95 Theses and explored the issues Luther was concerned about in the Catholic Church and the specific calls for reform.

    Witnessing the students’ passions for change accompanied by their clearer understanding of Martin Luther’s passion was amazing.  Some students felt strongly about police brutality while others were passionate about women's rights in Saudi Arabia or income inequality. The student voices were proud and vocal. Some of the students have since formed groups to launch campaigns calling for reform.  And while, most of my students don't go to church, they easily understood Martin Luther's and the other Protestant reformers’ rally against corruption in the established power of the day: church.

    Regardless of the subject, the power of this activity reinforces the importance of making connections between the topic of study and student’s real-life experiences.

    For a full lesson, with slides and student handouts, click here. Free Protestant Reformation lesson.

 this project, students delve deep into a historic figure and then bring that figure to life at a fantastic end of project soiree.

    Tech Talk for Teachers

    Google Classroom: Making Google Docs Easier for Students and Teachers

    by Sarah Ross-Koves TpT Store: Kovescence of the Mind Blog: Kovescence of the Mind

     Google Classroom is probably the best app released through Google Apps for Education!  It provides much-needed services for teachers and students who are working within Google Docs/Drive even if they are not yet 1:1.  Google Drive allows communication with the students through a newsfeed for every class; this feed is secure to only those who have been invited or have the code.  Any Google Doc, Form, Sheet, Slides, or PDF file can be shared with students reducing the need for paper copies of directions, templates, or handouts.  Teachers can quickly see who has completed what, send feedback and reminders, and update assignments.  Perhaps the best part is that when assignments are created in Google Classroom, they are immediately shared and accessible to the teacher in an organized folder in his/her Google Drive.  You no longer have to hunt through a shared file to find a student's assignment.

    You'll learn more about Google Classroom on my blog.