Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fabulous Freebies: High School Interventions

There is so much focus on teaching students the basics at the elementary level.  Sadly, there are so many high school students who have missed some of the basics.  Here are some of the common misunderstandings that I've seen high school students repeatedly struggle with, along with some intervention resources.

#1: Fractions...So many students who struggle with math are not able to visualize or conceptualize what it means that there are wholes and parts of a whole.  Therefore, being able to use fractions--or decimals and percents--to manipulate and calculate is a struggle.  Here are a few resources that I've seen used that do not appear babyish to high schoolers...

#2: Comprehending nonfiction....One of the skills that students struggle with is pulling the main idea and details out of nonfiction texts.  Unlike fiction, struggling readers often do not realize that nonfiction texts use a variety of structures (spatial, compare & contrast, cause & effect, etc.).  If they did, they would become more strategic readers and successful at comprehension.  Here are a few resources I've used...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Site Wide Teachers Pay Teachers sale!

It's that time of year again, it's a big Teachers Pay Teachers site wide sale! Save up to 28% on items throughout the store. Teachers may discount their stores up to 20% and you can save an additional 10% with the code HEROES! This sale is valid for February 25, 2015!

I will have my entire store on sale at 20% off and many others will as well!

Check out my store here and Etc's store here!

Some seasonal items that might be fun to get while on sale are....

A seasonal spin off of my best seller, my Fast Finishers Spring Art Packet! This is great for students that love art and finish early.
 Etc's Jelly Bean Glyph! This is a fun spring activity that uses fractions and graphs and I know students would love to have a little snack after completing the glyph!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fabulous Friday Freebies: Finding Texts Students Can Read

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, February 19, 2015

Weekly Web Tool: Pixlr

This week's highlight is about a great website for online photo editing, Phixr. I like this site and have used it in the past with a class. It's easy since it does not require registration or require you to go through a bunch of questions. You just go to the site and use it! This was great for my school since students weren't allowed to have any personal log ons to any site.

There are a lot of tools you can use to edit your photos and I found that it's also very easy even for students who don't have a lot of experience using the computer.

I used this site to edit photos we did for a cross curricular project involving writing and then creating an image that represented their words. Photos would also be great for documenting or recording history like historical buildings or even the history of the school's neighborhood. My students loved doing this project as well!

To take the photos I brought in my own simple digital camera and allowed students to take photos with it and then I uploaded all the photos to the server so they could pick their own to edit so I didn't need any fancy equipment. To make sure they took good care of my camera and it didn't get dropped I put some yarn on it and each student that used it hung it around their neck as a strap as a precaution in case it got dropped. I printed the photos at Walgreens for about 20 cents each.

It's definitely a project I plan to do again in the future!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Fabulous Freebies: African American History Online

With two weeks left in February, now is a great time to find (new) ways to celebrate African American History month in your classroom.  PBS has created some great multimedia lessons to teach students about the history of social justice struggles in this country through the experiences of African Americans.  The history lessons are powerful and the themes are universal.  There are six of them:

The lessons are most overtly linked to social studies, but there are ways to link them to so many other content areas.  For example, the lesson on Resistance to Slavery talks about French ruled St. Domingue and Spanish ruled Florida.  It also has students identifying causes and effects, thinking critically about pros and cons of various approaches to problems, and writing journal reflections.  Math teachers could easily create a lesson where students calculate the distances between territories that did have slaves and free territories.  Music teachers can look at creative form of resistance and tie it to a lesson on the use of spirituals in resisting slavery.  Science teachers can discuss the climate changes between west Africa, the Northeastern U.S., Florida and the Caribbean and the adaptations that people would have had to make to survive in each territory.  

If nothing else, bookmark this cite as a something to look at in the future.  The lessons are thorough and tied to the common core. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Wednesday Website: Artsonia

This week I'm highlighting Artsonia. I've used this site multiple times for various schools I've taught at for all grade levels with success. Artsonia is an online art museum that is completely free to use. You register and assign each student a name. At most schools I've just used their first name but I've also used a private anonymous name for extra privacy as well. Each student is assigned to one of your classes.

After this initial set up you are ready to start uploading artwork! You upload a digital image of each work of art. Since I've joined they have improved their upload process so it's a lot easier than it used to be since you can upload a large amount at a time. If you want you can also add in extra information about the work like a title. You can also group it by assignment as well.

My students enjoyed the viewer count on each work since they loved seeing how many people view their work. Viewers can comment but all comments must be approved by a parent first if one chooses to register as well.

You can buy all sorts of items with your child's artwork on it at the site which my students also loved and some students at each school took advantage of that. I loved that you got 15% of the proceeds which helped me buy more supplies!

Artsonia has always been a success at every school I've taught at so I highly recommend it!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Fabulous Freebies: Teachers Can Travel for Free

As a language and literature teacher, traveling to other countries is more than a personal interest of mine.  It is where I've honed some of the skills I need to do my job.  Some of my best memories and learning experiences come from travels to Mexico, New Zealand, Spain and other expensive destinations.  Obviously, money can be a barrier, but it doesn't have to be.  There are some great ways to travel for free.

#1: One of the most popular routes is to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship.  Numerous countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa offer scholarships to teachers covering travel and living expenses.  The experiences are designed to facilitate a cultural exchange and foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of others.

#2: Another option is to take a group of students on a trip with you.  There are a number of companies that organize trips for students.  Depending on the size of the group, teachers travel at free or reduced rates.

#3: Research the vast body of grants and scholarships available.  If doing a bit of traveling peaks your interest, take a few minutes to start doing a bit more research.  You never know where it could take you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Wednesday Website: Origami Instructions

For this week's website I'm featuring Origami Instructions. First I must admit I love origami as a classroom activity since most students seem to love it and enjoy making it so it's a great high interest lesson. You can use origami for several subjects including history, math and art so it can be a nice cross curricular lesson. Also, if you have a low budget origami is wonderful since you just need a sheet of paper (usually square). I have used copy paper sometimes in simple origami and it works okay as well.

Since I love origami I'm always looking for new shapes and new ways to make it so after browsing many different websites and books Origami Instructions is my favorite. It has both written and visual images of each step that make it very clear what you need to do so you don't get lost. Most of their instructions have examples at the bottom that visitors to the site have made so you can feel confident making them. Also, there is so much variety there! You can find just about anything you want to make on the site.

If you are looking to try origami, check them out first for a successful lesson!

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