Sunday, November 1, 2015

See You in 2016!

It is hard to believe November is here, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. I am writing this evening to let our readers know that Lesson Lady and I are taking some time off from blogging.  We will return in 2016.  In the meantime, enjoy this holiday season!  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What To Do With All the Halloween Candy

Happy Halloween!  I hope you all are having fun despite the crazy buzz of excitement and sugar rushes that come with this holiday.  Today I'm posting a fun way to use up some of your students candy besides consume it.  CandyExperiments has simple science experiments you can do with some of the excessive treats that kids collect.  Here are five of my favorite experiments...

1) Chocolate Bloom--students expose their chocolate bars to different temperatures and see what happens when the ingredients start to separate.

2) Life Saver Sparks--students eat life savers in the dark in front of a mirror and watch what happens.

3) Candy Bar Bath--students test candy bars to see which sink and which float.  Then they predict why.

4) Harvesting S's and M's--students pull the letters off of Skittles and M&M's.

5) Hidden Sugars--students learn to read labels and, hopefully, rethink some of their food choices.

This could be done in class or sent home as an experiment.  I doubt many parents would mind seeing the candy being used for the sake of education instead of tooth decay!

Have fun.  Be safe.  Let us know if you try it and how it goes.  We'd love to hear your feedback.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Vocabulary and the Common Core

One of my favorite books on teaching vocabulary across the K-12 spectrum is this book: Vocabulary for the Common Core by Marzano and Simms.  If you are looking for a book that lays out tier two (general academic) vocabulary and tier three (content specific) vocabulary that is necessary for unpacking the common core across the grade levels, this is a worthwhile $30 investment.  There are a lot of lists in the book, but there are also a lot of great ideas.  Chapter two lays out steps for teaching vocabulary that helps students access meanings of words at their deepest level.  It unpacks what definitions do and do not provide, and how it is critical that we dive deeper into what words are suggesting, how they are used, and how they connect to other concepts. There are straight forward activities, including several pages of game ideas that will teach vocabulary while hitting on other standards (like listening and speaking).  I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

45 Pages of Spanish Unit One Activities

Check out Excellence in Teaching and Learning.  There you'll find a number of printable activities at reasonable prices to use for centers, exams, quizzes, homework, class work, sub plans, etc.  Unit I materials cover the vocabulary for numbers, greetings, calendar and time.

The activities include Spanish Centers: Introductory Unit, Spanish Centers: Greetings, Spanish Centers: Los Numeros, an 80 page compilation of activities, and much, much more (including 5 brand new activities).

Everything comes with answer key and/or rubrics.  And, at $1-5, everything is priced to sell.  Don't reinvent the wheel, creating activities.  Check out the store's digital resources today!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Virtual Tour of Chichen Itza

About five years ago I took a much anticipated vacation to see the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza.  I had seen the Aztec center of Tenochtitlan several years before, and this completed my tour of Mexico's most significant ancient American sites.  Despite the heat, it was awesome.

I translated the pictures I took and information I learned into a powerpoint to share with my Spanish class.  I uploaded my lesson to TeachersPayTeachers as two separate files.  I uploaded the ppt as one and another file with the ppt + worksheet.  They are priced at $4 and $5 respectively.

Check it out today!  Or wait until tomorrow when this and everything else in my store is 20%.  The sale goes from May 6-7 in honor of Teacher Appreciation week.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Daily Five

I just finished reading The Daily 5: Second Edition by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser (2014) in preparation for my new job as an elementary school literacy coach.  The two sisters, as they refer to themselves, have been sharing their strategies with the rest of the world for awhile.  Their latest edition is a book worth reading, though, if you are an elementary school teacher who is familiar with their work but wants to hone your skills.  For teachers who are unfamiliar with the daily 5 framework, it is a must read.

This is the daily 5 in a nutshell: read to self, work on writing, listen to reading, word work and read to someone.  Each of those is just what it sounds like too.  It is not a curriculum, but rather a way to manage that time of day when students are working on reading and writing so that all students can engage in meaningful, independent skill building while the teacher confers with students individually.  Students are taught to read books, write and improve their vocabulary during self directed sessions, building their stamina throughout the year.

I am not going to summarize the whole book right here and now, but I will list ten reasons it grabbed and held my attention as I began to investigate what quality ELA instruction, especially at the elementary school level, looks like.  Here they are:

1) The daily 5 structure teaches routine and procedures so that students can learn to become independent.
2) The book is replete with references to the most prominent experts and latest research.
3) The structure engages students in meaningful, authentic reading and writing.
4) The book addresses the ever important issue of stamina and how to build it in students.
5) It addresses the latest research about the connection between time spent reading and reading scores and proposes a simple way to increase the number of minutes students spend reading each day.
6) It provides sample lessons and tips for getting started.
7) It addresses what to do with students who struggle to become independent and offers helpful tips.
8) It responds to high frequency concerns the sisters have heard as they've travelled around visiting other teachers.
9) It makes suggestions for how to differentiate.
10) It frees up teachers' time so that they are engaged in meaningful instruction rather then tedious work.

Check back in a couple days for a collection of freebies to help you get started using the daily 5!!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fabulous Freebies: Superhero Style Lesson

For this week's freebies I'm showcasing a fun free lesson idea I got from a former art teaching colleague. She used this Superhero Registration in a fun lesson plan that is perfect for a cross curricular lesson!

The Superhero Registration form would be a fun start to a fictional story or interview for a literacy project. My former colleague combined it with a lego person template as the base of their superhero and had them draw their own hero by adding key details onto the example. The finished examples looked great and I think her students had a lot of fun with it!

If you wanted to add a science element to it you could always do a science experiment to test out super powers like making invisible ink!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Useful Websites: Finding Leveled Texts

Recently I was asked for tips on helping find appropriate texts for students.  So, I've compiled a list of resources that  are free and accessible.  These resources offer suggestions for how to assess a students' independent level along with how to find texts on a variety of levels and topics.  

#1: Unite For Literacy  is a site that has a collection of picture books.  Students can flip through the books online, read the text themselves and then listen to the audio recording of the page being read aloud.  Students can search according by content area.  Two new books are added to this site each week.

#2: Reading A to Z is a resource that costs about $100, but they do have free leveled sample texts online to download.  They also have programs and apps that they offer two week free trials on.

#3: While this is not a free resource, it is a bit of free advice for quickly assessing students' reading level.  The formula for testing whether or not a book is a good fit for the child is pretty simple.  Listen to a child read aloud.  If they make more than 5 uncorrected errors in a 100 word passage, the book is not at their independent level.  If the child shows an interest in a book that is beyond their independent level, don't discourage the child from reading it.  Instead make that a book they read with a buddy reader.

#4: Scholastic has a book wizard where parents can go and search for titles and cross check the levels.  If there is a series that the kids like, I'd encourage them to go through all of the books in that series, as they will all be at approximately the same level.  (For example, the Henry and Mudge books are all listed at level 16.)

#5: Project Gutenberg  has an online collection of children's literature whose copyright has expired.

#6: There is a collection of audio books at:

#7: Students can listen to books read aloud to them at:

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wednesday Website: Sight Word Ninja

Sight Word Ninja is an free app you can download through itunes.  It is a fun way to do word work.  It is just like fruit ninja where the player slices through images on the screen.  Instead of fruit, though, students slice through the word that they hear as it appears on the screen.  It starts off easy with words that students only need to identify by matching the beginning sound to the initial letter.  Then it becomes increasingly challenging by requiring students to match all the sounds in the words.  If they miss a word, it appears a few more times for review.

Students enjoy playing this game and reinforcing their automatic word identification at the same time.  It is most appropriate for students in kindergarten or beginning first grade.  Still, this is definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Favorite Sites for Teaching High School English

I have a pinterest board dedicated to useful teaching websites.  Here is a list of my favorite ones to use with my English classes...

Poem Hunter will provide you with the poems from any number of poets.  I use it all the time.  Whenever I need to find a poem it is the first place I look.  It has short bios on a ton of well known poets along with online texts of their writings.  It is very handy.  The site is super user friendly and comprehensive.   is a website that allows students to make cooler versions of power points.  It takes them a class period or so to play around with it and figure out how to use all of the tools, but once they know how, they love it.  They can add videos, pictures, objects, colors, themes and pretty much everything else that they can do with powerpoint.  But, the visual effects are unique and fun to play around with.  They can save them online and share them with anyone who has an email address.  It is definitely worth checking out.

Purdue Owl is a great resource with a wide variety of writing tips.  The material is most appropriate for  students in middle school through college age students.  I use it all the time as a reference for how to create bibliographies and citations using MLA formatting rules.  Once my students have shown me they know how to format their bibliographic entries, I let them cheat by using

6 + 1 Writing Traits  is a well known writing, teaching and assessment framework.  The title refers to the traits in writing that we want all of our students to develop over time: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions and presentation.  The common language is useful in aligning teachers across contents and grade levels to provide united expectations of students.

Writing Fix and English Companion are websites that have a ton of resources for teaching writing and reading.  They include strategies, graphic organizers, etc.  They have a wealth of information and are worth perusing.

Finally, Grammar Bytes  has a wealth of grammar activities to help reinforce grammar rules with yours students.  The sentences are fun and contemporary.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Deals and Steals: Best Back to School Deals 8/23 - 8/29

Here is a compilation of the best back to school deals and steals for 8/23/15 - 8/29/15!

Use your Walgreens rewards card to get the deals listed below!

Deals under $1
7/$1 -  Wexford highlighter, 12 inch wooden ruler, or two pocket folder *Must use in ad coupon

$0.49 -  Wexford one subject notebook or pencil 8 pk. *Must use in ad coupon
$0.49 -  Wexford erasers or  5 pk. dividers *Must use in ad coupon
$0.49 - Paper Mate grip mechanical pencils 5 pk.
$0.79 -  Wexford carry all case or filler paper *Must use in ad coupon

$0.99 - Wexford one inch binder
$0.99 -Wexford sheet protectors 50 pk.

Deals $1 and more

$1.99 - Wexford mechanical pencil 30 pk.


Deals Under $1

$0.15 - Staples two pocket folder
$0.17 -Staples one subject notebook
$0.25 - Staples one hole hand pencil sharpener
$0.35 - Staples twelve inch ruler
$0.48 - Staples index cards
$0.50 - Staples composition book
$0..50 -Staples school glue or glue stick
$0.50 -Crayola crayon 24 pk.
$0.68 -Staples #2 pencil 12 pk.
$0.75 -Staples filler paper
$0.75 - Crayola washable ultraclean markers 8 pk.
$0.75 - Paper Mate mechanical pencil 5 pk.
$0.97 - Crayola colored pencil 12 pk. or classic marker 10 pk.

 Deals $1 and more

$1 -5 inch kids scissors
$1 - Bic mechanical pencil 5 pk.
$1 - Bic ballpoint pen 10 pk.
$2 -Staples 3 subject notebook
$2 - Reinforced filler paper
$3 - Elmer's clear glue sticks 3 pk.
$3 - Expo dry erase marker 4 pk.

Office Max/Office Depot

Deals Under $1

$0.01 - Office Depot paper folders *$5 minimum purchase required
$0.01 - Office Depot eraser caps $5 minimum purchase required
$0.01 - Office Depot ream of copy paper *$5 minimum purchase and after rebate price
$0.50 - Scholastic glue sticks 4 pk.
$0.50 - Clear pencil case

Deals $1 and More

$1 - Office Depot binder clips 36 pk.
$1 - Office Depot poly composition book
$1 - Expo marker 4 pk.
$1 - Sharpie marker fine point 5 pk.
$1 - Office Depot graph filler paper
$1 - Office Depot graph wireless notebook
$1 - Office Depot laminated portfolio
$3 - Crayola color erasable colored pencils 12 pk.
$3 - Bic mechanical pencils 24 pk.
$3 - Ticonderoga wooden pencil 24 pk.
$5 - Foray magnetic calendar board

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday Website: Cool Tool for Word Study

Online Etymology Dictionary is an online source for looking up words and their origins.  There is a page orienting you to what information you will find there.  Then you are invited to search for words and scroll through alphabetically.  There are so many ways you could use this.  Here are just a few:

1) Have students look up the origins and meanings of content vocabulary with Greek or Latin roots.
2) Have students create words maps for vocabulary with a section for etymology.
3) Have students create a dictionary of made up words using real word parts.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My New Favorite App

Auto Rap is a fun new app that you can download for free.  You record yourself reading something (such as a poem) and it automatically synchs the syllables to a beat and turns it into a rap in your own voice.  I wish I knew about this when I was teaching high school.  It would have been so much fun to play around with when I was teaching poetry.

Here are a few ways I think you could use it:

1) Have students read poetry and listen to it as a rap for the fun of it.

2) Have students read information they are trying to memorize into the app to help your musical students remember it.  (Besides, chants and songs help everyone's memory.)

3) Use it to introduce meter since it uses the rhythm in the language to synch the text to beats.

Happy rapping!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wednesday Websites: Using Technology to Teach Writing or Spelling

Looking for fun ways to get students to practice writing their letters or spelling words?  Here are four apps that you can download for free and start using today...

Chalk Draw is an application that lets students write in chalk and then shake the ipad to erase the writing and start over.

Bubble Snap is an application that lets students write letters in bubble wrap, popping the bubbles as they run their fingers over them to make the words.

Art of Glow is an application that allows students to write letters and/or draw on a black screen in a glowing rainbow of colors.

Sand Draw has students write in the sand.  They press a button to have a wave wash over their writing and erase it when they are done.  There are versions of this for $1.99 and versions of this for free.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Best Back to School Deals - 8/2/15 - 8/8/15

Here is a compilation of the best back to school deals and steals for 8/2/15 - 8/8/15!

Use your Walgreens rewards card to get the deals listed below!

Deals under $1
7/$1 - Wexford mini highlighter or paper two pocket folder with prongs *Must use in ad coupon
6/$1 - Wexford mini composition or memo books *Must use in ad coupon
4/$1 - Wexford erasers *Must use in ad coupon
$0.29 - Wexford index cards or protractor *Must use in ad coupon
$0.29 - Papermate Eagle ballpoint pen 10 pk.
$0.39 - Wexford school glue bottle or sticks *Must use in ad coupon
$0.39 - Wexford compass or sharpener *Must use in ad coupon
$0.49 - Wexford index dividers or 10 pk. protractors *Must use in ad coupon
$0.69 - Wexford composition book or poly binder *Must use in ad coupon
$0.69 - Soho supplies box or Wexford legal pads *Must use in ad coupon
$0.99 - Crayola 24 pk. crayons *Must use in ad coupon
$0.99 - Crayola classic markers 10 pk. or colored pencils 12 pk.
$0.99 - Fiskars scissors or sharpener *Must use in ad coupon
$0.99 - Wexford 96 pk. construction paper or 4 pk. dry erase markers *Must use in ad coupon
$0.99 - Wexford pencils 20 pk. or poly notebook *Must use in ad coupon
$0.99 - Bic Crystal pens 8 or 10 pk. *Must use in ad coupon

Deals $1 and more
$1.49 - Wexford mini stapler
$1.49 - Wexford filler paper
$1.99 - Papermate Write Bros. mechanical pencil 30 pk.
$3.99 - Backpack
$3.99 - Sharpie marker 8 pk.


Deals Under $1

$0.15 - Two pocket paper folder
$0.25 - One subject notebook
$0.35 - Staples 12 inch ruler
$0.48 - Staples index cards
$0.50  Crayola crayon 24 pk.
$0..50 - Staples composition book
$0.50 - Staples school glue and glue stick
$0.68 - Staples pencils 12 pk.
$0.75 -Staples filler paper
$0.75 - Crayola washable ultraclean markers 8 pk.
$0.75 - Bic #2 pencil 8 pk.
$0.75 -Staples wireless notebook or poly composition book
$0.75 -Bic retractable pens  pk.
$0.97 - Crayola colored pencil 12 pk.

Deals $1 and more

$1 - Kids scissor
$1 - Bic ballpoint pen 10 pk.
$2 - Crayola watercolor tray
$2 - Staples reinforced filler paper
$3 - Ticonderoga #2 24 pack or presharpened 18 pk.
$3 - Paper Mate mechanical pencil 12 pk.
$5 - Expo dry erase marker 8pk.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wednesday Websites: Five Favorites

Following up on last week's blog post, here are five more websites I like to use...

The first one is a website that helps you create Jeopardy and other games using Power Point.

Grammar Bytes is a website with tons of free grammar lessons.

Wordle is a fun website to use.  You copy and paste in a text and it generates word clouds.  The words are sized according to their frequency in the text, so it is a fun way to pull out important vocabulary words and ideas. Students can do this with a text they are studying or writing.  It also makes fun cover pages.

The English Companion is a site with a lot of great resources for teaching novels.  The materials are free and easy to use with a variety of texts.

Animoto is a website that allows you to sign up for a free basic account.  You upload pictures and it automatically makes a digital movie for you.  Very easy to use.

For more ideas, follow my board of websites useful to teachers on Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fabulous Freebies: Etc's new items!

My partner in blogging crime has recently come out with two new freebies at her store. Check them out and please remember to rate freebies!

Find databases of high quality children's literature with this easy to use freebie!

Etc is a wonderful teacher known for her use of games in the classroom to help make learning fun. I've learned  many games from her that I used for years in my classroom and became some of my favorite activities. Even if you don't teach Spanish this freebie can still come in handy as a way of learning a new game that you can use in your classroom. Having games in your repetoire is very handy when lessons don't go as planned or when you have unexpected time left at the end of a lesson.

Have fun checking out Etc's newest freebies!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wednesday Websites: Top Three

Websites Useful To Teachers is a pinterest board of mine with five dozen cool websites to check out. I am always adding new pins with new web 2.0 tools, activity generators, videos, online games and apps, etc. It is worth checking out.  To give you a taste of what's popular, though, here are my top three re-pinned websites....

1) Tagxedo is a website that allows you to copy and paste text into an application that uses it to create pictures and word clouds.

2) Handwriting Worksheet Generator allows you to do just that.  You can type in letters and words you want your students to practice writing and it will automatically generate handwriting worksheets that have students practicing their penmanship.  Have young ones still learning to write their name?  This website is perfect.

3) Bingo Card Generator allows you to take a set of spelling or vocabulary words you've been working on and create customized bingo cards to use as a review game with your students.

Check them out now or bookmark them for later when you're ready to start thinking about school again!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wednesday's Wonderful Websites: Online Databases of Children's Literature

It isn't hard to find children's literature, but it can be hard to find children's literature that is high quality and diverse.  When I took a graduate class in children's literature, these were some of the online databases that were recommended:

1) Children’s Literature Guide:

2) Kay Vandergrift’s Special Interest Page:

3) Links to websites of Children’s Book Awards and Notables:

4) Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children:

5) Recommended Literature for Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve:  This one is probably my favorite.  When you go, in you can customize your search so that you it will show you all of the books that talk about homelessness in a certain age range, for example.  It is definitely worth bookmarking!

6) Awards and Best-of-the-year Lists from Cooperative Children’s Book Center School of Education University of Wisconsin

7) 50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know:

As you look for some fun new books for the upcoming school year, I hope that these resources will be as helpful for you as they've been for me.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fabulous Friday Freebie: The Ultimate

I am posting one freebie---just one.  Rockin Resources on Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) has put together one free pdf with hundreds of links to other freebies on TPT.  There are math and literacy freebies for PreK through 12th grade.  Note: a few of the links don't work or link to resources that are no longer free, but based on my experiences, that is true of less than 10% of the links.  This is definitely worth bookmarking and going through when you have a spare minute this summer.  Enjoy.  It is the ultimate collection of TPT freebies!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wednesday Website: A Site Every Teacher Should Check Out

The Florida Center for Reading Research  has put together a site with a plethora of activities, all available for free.  There is no login required.  You can go on and find literacy research, activities and assessments.

Teachers who are using the site to plan lessons can search by grade and skill for the materials they want.  It breaks down phonological awareness components for younger students and comprehension for older students with everything in between.  It also has materials on differentiating instruction.

For principals, there are simple overviews of literacy instruction and learning.  There are also materials for conducting walk throughs of classrooms.

Finally, there is a link to What Works Clearinghouse, a site that shares the latest research on instructional approaches.

Take a few minutes to click around and you'll find a treasure chest of quality materials.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Super-Sized Friday Freebies

The Fourth of July is almost upon us.  So, this week I'm rolling the Wednesday Website and Friday Freebies post into one super sized post on free apps to check out.  Most of them are geared towards elementary students, but don't click off just yet if you teach older students.  Numbers 2, 6, 7 and 8 are really for everyone! Here they are:

1) Rhyming Bee is great for having students work on rhyme.  There is a cute little bee holding a word.  The child has to decide which flower has petals with rhyming words that match the bee's word.

2) Sleep Pillow plays loops of soothing sounds like rain and crackling fires for rest time in Kindergarten or background white noise while they work independently.

3) I Say helps students with their listening skills and auditory memory.  It looks a lot like the old game, Simon Says.

4) Simoo is a lot like I Say, but with cows.

5) Spelling City is a free app that allows teachers to create assignments for students based on customized spelling lists.  Students enjoy playing games with the word and completing the assignments online.

6) Class Dojo allows teachers to encourage behaviors by giving students points for meeting expectations.  Parents can login to check out their child's weekly progress.

7) Remind  is an app that allows teachers to send out text reminders to parents and students.  The receiver cannot respond, so it cuts down on group messages that blossom out of control when everyone writes back.

8)  Turboscan is a free app that allows you to take a picture of a document and convert it to a pdf.  Before it converts the image, it will clean the picture up so you don't see shadows.

9) Profs' Phonics Smar-test has activities to work on the phonological skills that are the first foundations of reading.

10) Kidsdoodle  is a fun app that allows students to draw and write on a black backdrop.  What they create shows up in bright neon rainbow lights.

Stay tuned!  I will be posting the rest of my fav summer finds in the next few weeks.  If you have favorites, feel free to share them in the comments section.

Happy Fourth of July!


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fabulous Freebies: Finding Grade Level Texts

Recently I was asked for tips on helping find appropriate texts for students.  So, I've compiled a list of resources that  are free and accessible.  These resources offer suggestions for how to assess a students' independent level along with how to find texts on a variety of levels and topics.  

#1: Unite For Literacy  is a site that has a collection of picture books.  Students can flip through the books online, read the text themselves and then listen to the audio recording of the page being read aloud.  Students can search according by content area.  Two new books are added to this site each week.

#2: Reading A to Z is a resource that costs about $100, but they do have free leveled sample texts online to download.  They also have programs and apps that they offer two week free trials on.

#3: While this is not a free resource, it is a bit of free advice for quickly assessing students' reading level.  The formula for testing whether or not a book is a good fit for the child is pretty simple.  Listen to a child read aloud.  If they make more than 5 uncorrected errors in a 100 word passage, the book is not at their independent level.  If the child shows an interest in a book that is beyond their independent level, don't discourage the child from reading it.  Instead make that a book they read with a buddy reader.

#4: Scholastic has a book wizard where parents can go and search for titles and cross check the levels.  If there is a series that the kids like, I'd encourage them to go through all of the books in that series, as they will all be at approximately the same level.  (For example, the Henry and Mudge books are all listed at level 16.)

#5: Project Gutenberg  has an online collection of children's literature whose copyright has expired.

#6: There is a collection of audio books at:

#7: Students can listen to books read aloud to them at:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Eyes on the Prize Viewing Guide

Eyes on the Prize is a seminal documentary on the Civil Rights Movement. It is broken into 14 parts, each approximately one hour in length. So often today students feel so out of touch with that era, and have a difficult time conceptualizing what went on then, how it must have felt, etc. This documentary does an excellent job of bringing that piece of important history back to life.

I've bundled the six guides and am selling them for the discounted price of $5 if the buyer purchases all six at once instead of purchasing them individually (they are $1 each, if purchased separately). It includes:

AWAKENING about Emmett Till and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
FIGHTING BACK about integrating the schools
AIN'T SCARED OF YOUR JAILS about the sit-ins & Freedom Riders
NO EASY WALK about organizing & the March on Washington
IS THIS AMERICA? about Mississippi and the Freedom Summer
BRIDGE TO FREEDOM about the march from Selma to Montgomery

Each viewing guide is between 10 and 16 questions and includes an answer key.

Again, each of these is also sold separately for $1. If you interested in certain ones instead of the bundle, visit my store. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fabulous Freebies: Teaching Poetry

One genre that has always been challenging, yet rewarding for me to teach is poetry.  The Common Core expects students to dig into the nuances of language.  Poetry slow students down, requiring them to think through punctuation, word choice, tone, mood, etc.  So, I've been adding to my folder of resources for next year.  Here are a few of my new favorites...

Poem Hunter is a website that I have used many times.  You can search for free for just about any poem by just about any renowned poet.  There are biographies and videos available to accompany lessons.  This site can be used to access the texts or do a biography study of favorite poets.

This is one Limerick Writing lesson available for free on Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT).  The packet has examples, notes on what a limerick is and student friendly handouts so your students can write their own.  This would make a great writing lesson, introduction of limericks, extension lesson after students have read limericks or even a simple sub plan.

This is one of many Haiku Writing lessons available for free on TPT.  Like the limerick packet, this lesson comes with examples, notes on what a haiku is and handouts so your students can write their own.  It would be a great lesson to couple with a unit on Japan, poetry, and/or nature.

This Poetry Packet is another lesson I'm filing away for next year.  It is another TPT freebie.  It has descriptions of the following poem types: Acrostic, Cinquain, Couplet, Diamante, and Haiku.  There is a template so students can write their own book of poems.  It would be a good project idea to summarize a poetry unit.

Auto Rap is a new free app.  Students record their poems and the recording is automatically synched with a rhythm and turned into a rap.  I can't wait to try this with my students and let them hear their voices rapping the poems they write!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wednesday Website: Brain Breaks with Go Noodle

GoNoOdle is a must-check-out-because-your-students-will-love-it website.  It is ideal for the primary grades where students' stamina is limited to small burst of time.  You can create an account for free and then access any number of brain break videos/exercises.  Olympians will take your students through short training sessions before leading them in a virtual athletic competition.  It is a great way to give your students a short break to get out the wiggles in the classroom before transitioning into a lesson.

For other virtual tools, check out my pinterest board of "websites useful to teachers."

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fabulous Freebies: Free Readers Theater Scripts

One great way to encourage your students in the upper primary grades to read fluently and closely for more in depth comprehension is to have them participate in a readers theater.  If you do the Daily 5 in your classroom, you probably have students reading with someone.  A fun way to encourage that and hold them accountable is to have them practice reading scripts together that they can then perform in front of the class.  There are a lot of great resources online to choose from.  Here are a few of my favorites...

TeachingHeart is a website with links to well over 50 scripts for transitional readers.  There are some well known classics such as "Casey at Bat" and Rumplestiltskin.  But, there are also many, many more to explore that relate to a range of topic and themes.  There are scripts for Christmas, Earth day, animals and more.  This site is definitely worth checking out!

Readers Theater All Year has scripts for just about every holiday.  Most of the scripts come with approximate grade levels so you can quickly search based on theme and readability.  

Finally, don't forget about TeachersPayTeachers.  If you do a search for free plays and scripts, you will find a number of quality resources to download.  

The plays the thing to catch the interest of your students!!  Check these sites out today.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Weekly Website: Newspaper Generator

If you are looking for a fun way for your students to create nonfiction pieces, check out Foley's newspaper generator. It creates a mock clip of a newspaper clip and story. I love the look of the newspaper and it's very easy to create. Students can even have fun selecting a name for their newspaper as well.

You could even alter the article to make it an opinion piece as well for a different twist.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Fabulous Freebies: Summer Fun

Our minds are working every day, all the time.  We are constantly learning, growing and changing. Our interactions with the world around us are forming our realities of how the world operates.  New books and people bring us new vocabulary and perspectives.  This is especially true of children.  They don't stop learning because they are on summer vacation.  So, why not encourage parents to use that time to enrich the academic side of summer learning?

Here are a few ideas....

#1-Check out this Scholastics article on ways to keep kids busy while learning.

#2-Send kids home with a summer reading log.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Weekly Webtool: Awesome Site for Teacher Resumes

Throughout my teaching career I've changed jobs several times. I as well as anyone who has looked for a teaching job knows it can be tough even to get your resume noticed and marked for an interview. During my most recent job hunt I wanted to update my resume and make it more noticeable so it could stand out from the others. I looked at many examples and websites with templates, etc but to me nothing compared to the A+ Resumes for Teachers site.

Although the site is based on a paid service to redo your resume, I found the examples there helpful and a great starting point. I loved that they had examples for each teaching area so I could see something more similar to what my own resume experiences entailed.

While I didn't sign up for the service since I was conserving funds, I found the website a wonderful starting point at recreating my own resume. Within a short time I had redone my resume in a completely new style and reworded all of my experiences to match the new format. After I did this and sent my resume out with more applications I did notice a distinctly higher amount of interviews scheduled which helped my land my most recent teaching position!

I highly recommend this site if just for the examples which are a great starting point. Good luck to those on the search for a teaching job!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fabulous Freebies: Ways to Teach with Free Travel Brochures

Since it is almost summer and vacation season, I thought I would share some ideas of what you can do with fun vacation related freebies like travel brochures and other things you can get for free by requesting the through tourist and convention centers.

If you don't have any travel brochures handy here are some resources to get you started:

- Free Visit Orlando Vacation Kit

- Free State of Alaska Vacation Planner

- Free Enjoy Illinois Pack - Can add on highway map and state park guide

Once you get your materials, here are some ways to start using them:

Use brochures to:
- Read for information
- Compare prices and deals
- Compare and contrast different hotels/attractions/or even two different cities
- Compare the city/state to your home town
- Create an itinerary for a set length of time
- Use the brochures as example for your own travel brochure project
- Have students write about why or why they wouldn't want to visit the destination

You can also use the  maps for directions, planning routes, calculating distances and other real world math problems.

If you have any other ideas or ways to use travel brochures in your classroom please share it with us below!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday Websites: Free Online Exemplars

Exemplars are incredibly important for showing students what you want them to do--what a high quality piece of work looks like.  I have found time and again that they set the bar for my students.  The first time I give an assignment is always the hardest, but after that it gets easier.  I file away the best ones to use as exemplars when I give the assignment again.

If you are giving an assignment for the first time, though, or are not happy with what students submit, you have a few options.  The first option is to take the time to make your own.  The second option is to use it as an opportunity to revise.  Revisiting assignments and revising them to make them better teaches them to learn from their mistakes and always strive to do better.  The third option is to surf the net for online examples.  Here are a few sites with exemplars...

#1-Online high school exemplars  and elementary exemplars across the core content areas.

#2- The Annenberg Media website has examples of what rigorous foreign language classrooms look like. This website may not have many exemplars to share with students, but there are examples of students engaging in learning to give teachers an idea of what students in a foreign language classroom are capable of.

#3-Online exemplars of work in the arts (drama, visual arts, and music).  When you get on the site type the word art in the search.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Fabulous Freebies: Memorial Day

Summer is about to start, and there are a few holidays left to squeeze in!  The first is a holiday formerly known as Decoration Day: Memorial Day.  This day is more than just one last day off for those of us who teach until June.  Below is a list of free resources to use to teach your students what the day is all about.

#1- TeacherVision is a site with Memorial Day printables for all grades.  It is easy to navigate, and can be a useful site for a number of other themes in the future, as well.

#2-For a reading comprehension activity that shares some quick facts about the day click here.  (Note: this is best for grammar school age readers.)

#3-Let them do a craft.  Create a Patriotic Pinwheel.

#4-Click here for a reading on Memorial Day.  There are also some activities on this site that you can use to supplement your lesson.

#5-Play patriotic bump with this free game.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wednesday's Web Tools

These are all websites I've enjoyed using with my students.  If the description sounds interesting, click on the image to be taken to the website and investigate more!

1) This is a website that generates bingo cards.  You can choose from their list of themed cards or use your own word lists to make your own printable cards.

2) Animoto is a website where you can create short digital movies.  Just upload pictures of your class and let them generate a mini movie of a trip you took, a special project, etc.  Then you can share it with the class and their families in school or via email.

3) Use the website ToonDoo to allow your students to create their own comic strips.  They can create one based on a story they read in class or make up their own.  They really enjoy working with this website.

4) This is the newest one to me.  It is a coloring page generator.  I recently used it to create a one-of-a-kind coloring book of memories.  Use it to make a momento from a fun class trip.

5) This is a site that I've used to have students create fun plot summaries of stories.  They can go online and create their own cartoons with captions, characters, settings, etc.

6) This one is a fabulous online archive of pictures from Life magazine.  This is a great way to introduce famous people and events from history.  Create a gallery walk that allows students to see and develop a context for the content before studying it.

7) The seventh one is a list of really cool virtual tours.  I was able to show my students a spectacular 360 degree view of Machu Picchu.  I found a site with a live feed from a nature preserve in the Sahara.  This page is definitely worth checking out and using with your students.

8) Finally, the Smithsonian website has a rich bank of
lessons that can be used to bring history to life!

To see a list of many more free online resources, check out my pinterest page of Websites Useful to Teachers.  
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