Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Super Summarization Techniques & Student Engagement Strategies

Summarizing Anyone?

Is it just me or is summarizing one of the most difficult skills to teach students? I'm going to imagine that you all are nodding your heads! Even as an adult, I find it hard at times to summarize information. If you are out of ideas and need something new to try out, take a peek at the links below. I've tried some of them before, but I definitely see some that I'd love to try out. How about you?

10 Fun Ways To Effectively Summarize

Let's Get Engaged!

No.... we aren't getting married silly! Besides summarizing, I thought I'd also throw in a resource for "Best Practice Instructional Strategies". These are awesome for getting your students more engaged. Have you ever stopped and just looked around at your students during a lesson. There are times I swear I could see a student drooling because they were so bored. To be honest.... I'm sure there are times my lessons were very boring. Yes.... I said it! Teachers can be boring at times. It's hard to spice up some lessons or standards. My gifted endorsement class has opened my eyes again to some awesome ways to get students engaged. I'm back baby!

Best Practice Instructional Strategies: Get Students Engaged!

Independent Learning

Finally, I think I mentioned in a previous blog post about a vocabulary contract I was making. Grab it here.... I am taking a chance and offering it in editable format so you can tweak it. :) Enjoy.... This one was created for a 5th grade class that has gifted students but can be done with any student that you feel is ready for independent learning.  If you have trouble with the link, please let me know. Enjoy. You can also view each page below. **Remember...you can grab this and edit it for your needs. I know....the fonts are fun, but I had to choose a font that most of you would already have so that it didn't come out funky on your computer. Sorry to all of the font lovers out there.

Free Vocabulary Contract For Independent Learning

Vocabulary Frame Activity is from
Scroll down to activity 11.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Super Vocabulary Strategies

Am I the only one that gets bored doing the same old thing with vocabulary? I'm certain that I'm not the only one that has students that struggle learning vocabulary. Many students are given vocabulary and asked to study their definitions for a quiz that they'll be given later. I don't know about you, but when my own children are asked to do this they groan! One of my children learns vocabulary fairly easily, but my son struggles with simply reading a definition over and over trying to memorize. It definitely doesn't help him make connections. So, what does a teacher mom do? I go out and try to find something that is visual and not so boring!

Here are a few ideas that you may like and also use for students in your class room.

I found a great visual vocabulary sight called http://flashcardstash.com/. You not only put in your vocabulary word and definition. You also go to a database of pictures to put with it. So....you basically get a visual flashcard stack. You can then study traditionally or through matching with and without pictures. This would be great to create as a teacher and use whole group to introduce or review vocabulary.

You probably already know about www.quizlet.com . It is also a favorite of mine for learning vocabulary as well as any information for a test. It's similar to Flashcardstash. You can get the free app too. My son has this one on his iPhone and creates many flashcards for vocabulary and tests. He shares them with his friends by making them public. If you are a teacher you could create the flashcards for them and share them. They could then go home, search for them, and have access. It gives different options for practice too. My son loves the matching game the most and tries to beat his time each time he practices.

In my gifted endorsement, a teacher friend showed how she used www.animoto.com in her Language Arts class. It immediately gave me the idea to use it for vocabulary. Students can create awesome slideshows with images, music, and text to show their understanding of their vocabulary. You can create an educator's account for free. This gives you the option to have up to 50 student accounts under your name. I did this and it was very easy. If you don't already know how to create student accounts under a main Google click here http://help.animoto.com/entries/104077-How-do-I-set-up-accounts-for-my-students.

Here are some other ways to practice vocabulary on a deeper level.

*Have your students interview one of their words. They can ask thoughtful questions that would require and answer that explains it's meaning.

*Have students use their word as a piece of artwork for a scene. The catch is that their word must be transformed as a part of the scene, and others must be able to infer the meaning through the visual clues in the scene.

*Have students write a story but placing a blank where their vocabulary word would be. Their classmates must use the context clues in the story to figure out the word.

*Use http://www.conversationpieceslearning.org/vocabulary.html Word Wonder's Vocabulary Program. Students learn vocabulary at their own pace, challenging themselves. There's a competitive twist as they work through lists up through 6th grade. They take quizzes, earn, points, and get their name on the Vocabulary Hall of Fame on the website.

More ideas to come as I am creating an independent vocabulary learning contract for students for my gifted endorsement. I'll be posting it soon for you to grab. :)

I hope you've gotten a few ideas you can use.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fall Fever & Fall Freebies

Well, I obviously haven't posted in a while. School has been a little crazy lately since I'm basically working with students from Kindergarten, Fourth, & Fifth grades. Enough about that though..... I'm am already feeling some cool, crisp mornings and it makes me itch for fall weather!  I couldn't resist all the fall clip art and just had to create a few little products for my friends at work. They are who give me most of my inspiration! So....below you'll see some of my latest products with a few FREEBIES at the bottom that I created last fall that you may like too. :)

For my 5th Grade Friends....


For All My Friends..... (probably more for 2nd -5th)


FREEBIE.....Who doesn't love problem solving right?


One more FREEBIE.....but for my 3rd & 4th Grade Friends

Enjoy taking a peek into my newest fall favorites and grabbing the Freebies along the way. :)  I'm on a roll creating for problem solving so if you teach 2nd, you may want to check out my newest 2nd grade differentiated problem solving packs for addition & subtraction while you are there.

Happy Fall Y'all!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Back To School...What is your purpose?

What is your purpose?
What is the reason you became a teacher?
Do you tell your students why you teach or just what you teach?

My instructor for the Gifted Certification program I am in asked us this question the other day. Right away I knew this was going to be like a therapy session. Some of the reasons mentioned were a result of great experiences as a child in school while others' were the direct opposite. Strange isn't it? We so often think that teachers are teachers because they loved all of THEIR teachers.

So, why do we need to tell the students our purpose....our "why"? We were shown a few video clips that related more to the business world, but it relates even to education. The point of those videos were that people don't buy WHAT you do. They buy WHY you do it. I've never thought about that really. Wow! In that moment, I knew that students are the same as consumers in the world. "come in to our classrooms and all they hear is the "what". Blah....blah...blah...that's what they hear. Maybe that's why so many kids are disconnected....uninterested....unmotivated. They simply haven't "bought" into what we are doing. Who's fault is that? I'm guilty of doing just that. So, this year my goal is to start with the "Why" I do what I do. If I can get them to believe and want what I believe, then they will invest.  Here is a link to the Ted Talk by Simon Sinek that talks about this.

I think every teacher needs to revisit the "Why" behind what they do. The beginning of the year is perfect. So....are you wondering about my "Why"?  It begins with Kindergarten. I had a very negative experience (or at least my mom did). I must have struggled at that time....I don't remember. However I do remember my mom going to a parent/teacher conference and the result of that STUCK with me all through my educational years. I can't quite remember how I learned about the conversation, but my mom was told this. Now keep in mind....this quote is what I roughly remember.
"You're child is struggling and is behind. It's okay....don't worry. Most children that live where you live have the same problems. You're child will probably always be below average so don't expect too much because of where you live. It's okay."
We lived in a trailer park, had one car, and my mom didn't work. My family sacrificed so my dad could work full time and finish his college degree. She didn't know any of this. My mom just cried. How and why would a teacher say that? From that point, I felt like no teacher believed in me really. Why would they? I went through school always feeling like I wasn't smart enough. I was embarrassed to get in front of others, and definitely didn't want to read aloud due to a speech difficulty. Even in middle school I thought about those comments. High school came and it was the same. "I can't do this...I'm not smart enough....I'll never be as good as everyone else." My parents never knew I felt this way...never. Everything changed my senior year of school......
My literature teacher in 12th grade gave me an assignment to recite a poem in front of the class. Total fear came over me! I thought....okay, just say it quickly and sit down and get it over with. So, that's what I did. As soon as I was finished she said, "Hmmm....I'd like you to do that again, but think about it and say it with your heart." Great....again? So I did it again. She again said the same thing but told me that she wanted me to do it again the next day. Long story short....I came back and did it again...no caring what others thought of me. She wrapped her arms around me and said, "That's it! That's who you are. I knew you could do it. I wouldn't let you fail." She BELIEVED in me. It was the first moment I felt that from a teacher.
This is WHY I do what I do....My purpose is to help kids to believe in themselves, to believe they can overcome their biggest fear, to believe that they matter, to believe that no matter if they have academic challenges they can achieve what everyone else is doing.
So, I challenge you to think about this. What is your WHY? Start with that as you welcome your students this year. :)
Here are some more videos that some of my cohort classmates shared that contributes to their WHY. Enjoy. There are quite a few.

This last one will simply inspire you!

 I hope you all have a wonderful school year! Don't forget your WHY! :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Self Reflections

If any of you have read my recent posts, I mentioned that I was changing teaching positions for the upcoming year. Recently I taught 3rd grade (and LOVED it!), but an opportunity came up to teach in our Gifted program and learn from an amazing friend in the process.  The crazy thing is that I will also be part time EIP.  Saying those last two sentences probably already confuses you (and me) as to how my schedule will work. I'm not quite sure about that either. I do know that I will have one Gifted class on a full day and then the other four days I will be split between EIP and Talent Development (enrichment for unidentified gifted students).  Sooooo.....I am going to start blogging every Saturday about my journey with my new jobs. Really, I need an outlet and this is one way I can reflect and hopefully hear from some of you as well.

I start my Gifted endorsement classes on Monday. Yes...this coming Monday. Yikes! My summer is officially over at that point because these classes are for 2 weeks and then right after that my preplanning begins. I'm sad my summer is over, but I am excited to learn something new. Let's be honest....I can't wait to also meet some other teachers too. I love making new friends!! My journey to get this endorsement isn't over when the summer is over. It lasts until next summer (June). Once school begins, I have class every other Thursday night. It kind of reminds me of when I was getting my Masters Degree. I'll be in the mix of teaching gifted and getting gifted certified. Is this more money you ask? I wish it were! It'll look great on my teaching certificate though.

I've had many people ask me why in the world I would leave the comforts of a regular classroom job for the unknown.....for a job that is always up in the air because you have to maintain the numbers to keep it. Well, for a long time I've felt like there was just more out there for me to do and to learn. Will I keep this position the next year? I don't know. Do I want to? Of course I do! Sometimes we just have to step out of our box and take a risk! The past few years I've felt like I needed something different. I LOVE a challenge. So when I post of picture of me pulling out my hair  you can remind me of that statement.

I am one of a thousand questions when it comes to new things. Don't worry...I won't bore you with all 1,000 of them. It's the unknown that goes through my head.

*What will my schedule look like?
*How will I be able to switch my brain from Gifted to EIP in the same day?
*What grades will I be working with for EIP and Talent?
*Will I be pushing into the classroom or pulling small groups?
*How well will I juggle taking classes and teaching classes?
*How do I organize my classroom for both positions?
*How will I make sure I don't sacrifice too much family time while learning so many new things?

With all of that being said, I'll be letting you all in on my journey...the good, the bad, and the ugly. :) Hopefully there will only be good right?

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