Thursday, January 28, 2016

CLASS December/January Freebies

A freebie from History and Psychology Resources. Grades 9-12    
This sanity-saving freebie  will help you organize and write letters of recommendation for students.

A freebie from 2Lifelong Teachers  Grades 5-8
This freebie includes 8 worksheets to introduce Greek and Latin Roots and Prefixes to your middle school students.  

A freebie from Secondary Supplements   Grades 6-8

You don’t want your students sitting all period taking notes. Because what are they really getting out of copy, copy, copy? Create engaging presentations with the simple addition of partner breaks. Your students will appreciate the movement and socialization. freebie from History in Focus    Grades 6-11

These sample pages from my World War II Bundle provide an example of the visually engaging worksheets contained in the full set that covers every major area of that historical event. freebie from Creative Instruction    Grades 10-12

Need an easy way to review colonial history with your advanced United States History classes? This fill-in-the-blank activity covers the key descriptors and events of the Thirteen Colonies (plus the Lost Colony) and as a bonus, asks students to make up some headlines as their own. Great for Advanced Placement United States History (APUSH) students. 

A freebie from Connie    Grades 6-12
The whole objective of this FREE activity is for students to have fun showing their understanding of the elements of literature while teachers retain their sanity during this month of emotional highs and lows.

A freebie from mELTing Teacher    Grades 6-12

Nouns, and verbs, and exclamations. Oh my! Parts of speech lessons get a bad rap for being boring. Your students will have fun practicing and using parts of speech with this Do-It-Yourself  poem. 

A freebie from Teacher in the Rye    Grades 9-12
It's not enough to just have students identify symbols while reading. Using these activities, your students will be able to analyze meaning, as well as go more in-depth when discussing both universal and contextual applications of symbols in literature. St

 A freebie from Stephanie's History Store   Grades 8-12
This review activity can be used for any history unit or social studies topic. Students write the news headlines and previews of a story related to the topic, then complete two other tasks. The instructions and rubric contain the expectations of the assignment for your students.


 A freebie from Spark Creativity     Grades 7-12

This packet contains everything you need to put together a successful poetry slam, including an educator's breakdown for the five day unit, all relevant student handouts, and photos of student poetry slams and poetry slam programs. After helping students put together more than fifteen poetry slams both in the United States and abroad, my curriculum has come together into a solid unit that has produced fantastic results for me year after year.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tech Talk for Teachers: Smithsonian Learning Lab


by: Rachel Cummings with Kate Harris

 If you haven’t visited the Smithsonian Museums lately, they are worth a trip. Not a trip in your car, or by plane, but a trip online, to the voluminous online resources available to teachers and students. Smithsonian Education features a slew, yes, a slew, of resources. There are lesson plans for language arts, history and culture, art and design, and science and technology.  You can download activity sheets for everything from pop-culture and traveling in the United States to the Apollo 11 mission to the moon or giant squid. Have students complete an interactive exploration of a topic—Rationing during WW1, Prehistoric Climate Change, an Overview of the Presidents…—at the IdeaLab. But, head’s up, Smithsonian Education is being replaced by a new site and a new approach to online education called the Smithsonian Institute Learning Lab.

The Learning Lab, which debuted in October, will become the mothership for the Smithsonian Institute’s online education resources, eventually replacing many of the existing Smithsonian websites. It offers users the breadth of the Smithsonian collection, and the ability to customize collections and add content of their own. For example, you can create unique collections from the Smithsonian holdings, upload documents, and attach notes and questions to an image.

Let’s see how.

To start, Sign Up on the homepage for an account. Having an account is necessary to create your own collections, and free. Log-in and then use the search bar in the upper left to search for Smithsonian holdings on the topic that interests you. Let’s try ‘revolution’ as an example. 2,190 resources match that search term. When you find one that you’d like to add to a collection, hover over it. Three icons appear. Click on the pages icon on the far right. Then, create a new collection (or, later, add to an existing collection.) When you have more collections, be sure to select which collection to add a piece to and be sure to click the ‘Add’ button in the upper right corner.

You can do cool things once you have a collection. Click on the sunburst in the upper right corner and choose Collections, then click on a collection to discover the possibilities. Use the rocket icon to make your collection public on the Smithsonian site. Create an assignment (file icon) to accompany a collection. Click on the pencil to open the editing tool; click the + icon in the left margin to add notes or design quiz questions for each image from a drop-down menu.

You can also peruse others’ collections. If you want to see what’s out there, don’t put anything in the search box on the homepage, but hit the enter key. It pulls up over a million resources. Narrow this down by selecting the Learning Lab tab on the left, under the search box. Now you can scroll through the 145 public Learning Lab collections. Hover over each to see the title and the creator. If you find one you like, click on it to open it. If you want to edit it, use the icons in the upper right corner to copy the collection. This adds the collection to your own collection and you can now edit and add to it as you like. Cool, huh? And useful. Thanks to the Smithsonian Learning Lab, you can now take your students on a customized tour of all that our nation’s greatest museum has to offer.

If you like this idea, you might also like: 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Diving Deeper into Symbolism

bNoelle Franzen

TpT Store: Teacher in the Rye

You’ve taught your students about symbolism. Let’s say you’ve discussed how the apple in The Giver that changes color only for Jonas might symbolize how different he is than the rest of his family and the people around him. But, what next? Students can say they “get” how the apple is not just an apple, but is there a way to guide them into a deeper connection between the symbolism of the apple and a theme? Maybe Jonas is different because he represents a catalyst for change in an unchanging world. As a teacher, you want to make sure they make those deeper connections.

The Set-up:
I’ve thought about this often; I teach high school freshmen and, with each new group that comes into my classroom, I hope that they have held onto a little of what they learned in middle school. I like to bring up symbolism with my students early in the year. Mostly, it’s a refresher, and we spend about a week throwing around ideas in our warm-ups every day, and then there’s a quiz on what we’ve covered that week.

The Follow-Through:
We then work with symbolism as an isolated lesson where they must find “meaning” within a seemingly unconnected pair: abstract noun and concrete noun. For example, how could a picture frame possibly symbolize disappointment? They figure it out—often with hilarious or sorrowful results. Once, while doing this exercise with an honors class, a boy who just had a crush break his heart wrote about the pain of disappointment in an image that was framed to freeze a perfect moment of happiness. It was strikingly poignant.

After we’ve read a short story, we isolate some symbols and discuss whether or not those objects or people mean anything more than themselves. At this point, I expect them to understand that symbolism is more than its object, but when we read I don’t necessarily want them to be reading to look for objects that might be symbolic of something greater. I hope that they sense meaning first, and then have the lightbulb moment of, “Oh, there’s the connection!”

Now we’ve moved on to another reading selection. This time, they need to make a connection between symbols and themes. How could, say, the symbol of the island in the Richard Connell’s short story The Most Dangerous Game connect with the theme of man trying to rule alone, with no laws and no accountability?
When we read our first class novel, we are ready to take symbolism to a new level. Students should not only be able to identify symbols and what they stand for, they also should be able to articulate in writing and in collaborative group discussions how symbols might add to the development of a specific character. This sounds easier than it is for many students. I like to think with practice, and with a little thought, all students can work toward mastering this understanding. What I’m really going for here is that students use different cognitive processes to approach a concept. This symbolism process, if you will, has taken me a while to develop, and it was only a couple of months ago that I was finally able to incorporate this piece of connecting symbols with characters into an activity.

How Diving Deeper into Symbolism (DDS) works:
Step 1: Students have read ¾ of the novel, are familiar with the characters, understand what symbolism is, and are able to recognize the novel’s symbols. If you want to use this with a short story, read the whole text—maybe twice. I am using it with John Steinbeck’s The Pearl, which is full of symbols and perfect for inspecting closely.
Step 2: Students also should complete the Symbolism Level One chart (included in DDS), either on their own or however you’d like to arrange them in class. It also could be finished as homework, but I don’t recommend flat-out assigning it for homework. This portion of the lesson helps students identify and interpret symbols in the text and provide textual examples for each.
Step 3: Have students complete the Quick Write, which is included in DDS, preferably at the beginning of class. This is usually about a 10-minute activity. It directs students to reflect on something they found interesting in the text, two symbols, and three connections to the theme. The quick write serves two purposes: students have something to bring to the group, and you have something to assess students’ understanding.
Step 4: Have students assemble into groups (assigned or random) to complete the Symbolism Level Two worksheet. Provide each group with at least a couple copies of the Universal Symbol Chart for reference. You will have to assign a character to each group. Provide a double-sided copy of the Symbolism Level Two handout if you choose to give each group two characters to focus on. I’d start with one since this may be a new approach for them.

Before they start, give them as much focus as you choose. You may want to point them toward a category from the Universal Symbol Chart. Perhaps what you’re reading lends itself to focusing on one topic more than another. Or, you may require that they look for evidence of all four (colors, seasons, animals, nature). You may want to complete a sample or let them figure it out as a group. Circulate to observe the process.
About 7-8 minutes before the Level Two phase is over, I like to hand out the Group Response Sheet, as it will provide the group an opportunity to synthesize what they’ve discussed and turn that into a single, agreed-upon connection. It will also help them address any clarification issues they are having with the text. You also could wait unit the next day for this. The Group Response Sheets will provide you with starter questions for a whole class discussion.

I love working with my students on this material, seeing what they write, how they think, and listening to the discussions they have with their peers. I hope that this process gives you a framework for diving deeper into symbolism with your students, and that it gives students not only the opportunity to discover meaning in a work of literature, but a rich, new way to approach thinking about a single concept.