On the Latent Effects of Student Praise

A few weeks ago I ran across an interesting infographic entitled "How to Raise a Genius" while scrolling through Pinterest and I thought I would share the message I took from it. 

The infographic was produced by OnlinePsychologyDegree.Net and the pin linked me back to a blog called Mama OT.

Here's the graphic: 

Genius Infographic

Now, maybe because I am a teacher and not yet a parent I looked past the implication that this graphic was created for individuals to apply while raising their own children and I immediately thought of it's application in the classroom.

As I have mentioned in my blog before, my first year of teaching was spent with inner-city elementary students.  Many of these students came from families that spoke little to no English at home and most lacked the Norman Rockwell picturesque family dynamic.  That said, most of my second grade students were already considered "lower performing" because they were not as privileged to go home to environments where parents had the resources to limit television time, converse with the children in a way to nurture English language development, push their children to play an instrument or exercise, or even teach them patience.   What I did find, however, was that many of the parents were well aware that their current situations were not the standard formula  for "raising a genius."  So, as a teacher, I noticed that when a student, deemed by society to already to be "disadvantaged" and "low performing" performs well, it seems inherently obvious to praise him.  The parents praised him, administrators praised him, and yes, I praised him, too.  This is what makes the last portion of this infographic so profound - "don't tell them they're smart."

Let's take a moment to talk about parent/teacher conferences.  When I read the phrase "don't tell them they're smart," this was the first scenario my brain jumped to.  Parent/teacher conferences are those few times a year where parents and teachers actually have the ability to come together and discuss the mutual work involved in educating a child.  That said, each party comes with expectations.  My experience here is two-fold; the first being a child that sat through my own conferences, and the second as a teacher leading conferences for my students.  As a child, I always felt that my parents wanted to leave a conference ultimately hearing that I was intelligent.  As a teacher, I feel that many parents come to conferences wanting verification of the intelligence that they already see in their child - who wouldn't? 

Now, to clarify, I am not condemning praise.  Praise, clearly is a beautiful concept that done correctly can nurture a child to success.  The reason I think the phrase "don't tell them they're smart" is so profound is the fact that parents and teachers must be careful about how we praise our children.  This brings me to my second thought - teachers - think about the number of times a student has given an answer to a question that has been wrong.  I will admit that when I first started teaching my general answer or response was "good," regardless of whether the student was correct of the answer truly was "good."  Why did I find myself doing this?  Because my experience as a student exposed me to the conventional norm that every student response warranted a response from the teacher, usually something "stock" such as the word "good."  Well, let's be honest.  Not every answer is "good" and it is better to be honest with the student than to falsely praise him or her.

After reading this information, my goal as an educator is to be more cognizant of the praise I give my students in order to teach my students (I now work with high schoolers) that hard work breeds intellectual gain.  Parents and fellow teachers, I urge you to do the same.  Let's watch the results together. 

 Writing and Conducting an Interview - Handout and Lesson Ideas

I have the unique opportunity to be able to teach a Creative Writing class to some students over the lunch block to earn a little additional credit in English/Language Arts.  I like that Creative Writing gives me a broad range of potential teaching topics and allows me to really focus on fun ways I can help my students grow into becoming better writers, but sometimes the vast topic possibilities leave me, well. searching for what to teach next.  

With my school following the Iowa Core (almost identical to the Common Core standards), I felt that it was necessary to address the writing core in my classroom, but speaking and listening core standards as well, thus creating the idea to teach my students how to conduct an appropriate interview.

Let's be real for a second, though  - there are about a million and a half ways that you could frame writing and conducting interviews in a Creative Writing class, but I decided to attempt to make the interview a little more applicable.  That is, I wanted the students to actually be able to interview someone with the intention of gaining knowledge or information about a topic important and beneficial to themselves.  Anyone that has taught teenagers know that whether or not they want to be, there very much are very into themselves, so, I decided to ask my students to create interviews to ask their parents about themselves as part of a memoir unit.

The purpose of the interview was for students to create and conduct appropriate interviews to ask their parents more information about their families, lives, names, or any other topic that the students felt they might be able to include in a short memoir later.  

Once I introduced the topic and began gathering some pre-assessment information, I learned that my students lacked a lot of knowledge about the typical interview process.  I started out by facilitating a conversation about what the students knew about interviews (why we conduct interviews, when interviews are appropriate, what an interview looks like, etc.), then from that conversation we created a list on the whiteboard about the elements they felt that a "good" interview should include.  After creating this list, I showed students the YouTube video Katie Couric on How To Conduct an Interview.  My students needed a little background information on Katie Couric to understand why she was an appropriate authority on conducting interviews.  After watching the video, asked the students to help adapt the list of elements that a "good" interview should have.

To show my students an example of what an interview looked like, I showed them the YouTube video @katiecouric: Drake , a video of Katie Couric conducting an interview with music artist, Drake.  My students were pretty intrigued and are still continuing to ask if they can watch another interview with someone like Drake.

SO, after talking about interviews and how to conduct them, and watching an interview, I wanted the students to actually write one.  My class really struggles with getting started if I present them with a "blank page" moment, so I whipped up a quick graphic organizer to help the students create a rough draft of the interview they were going to create.

The graphic organizer provides reminders that students should ask open-ended questions, make their interview conversational, and explain why they are conducing the interview to the interviewee.  If you're interested in picking up your own copy, click your way to my Teachers Pay Teacher's store to snag one for your class.  (Psssst... there's a preview below!)

After students completed their rough drafts on the graphic organizer, I split students into pairs to role play their interviews.  If any parts of the role play interview weren't quite right, the students had the opportunity to edit their graphic organizers.  Once all of the editing was complete, I asked the students to write the final copy of their interview on a separate sheet of paper.

I hope these ideas work as well for you as they did for me!  If you implement these ideas in your classroom, shoot me a comment to tell me how it went.

Happy Teaching!  

 Zombie Mob in a Flash

It's been a while since I've had a change to write a blog post because life has been crazy!  Last week was homecoming week at my school and since I work as part of a residential program, my goal was to go all out and really make homecoming week special for the boys on my dorm.  We had a blast bringing in clothes to help the boys dress up.  My favorite day, by far, was walking dead Wednesday.  Another teacher and I were faced with the task of making 32 teenage boys and 4 staff members into zombies in about the span of two hours.  Our goal was to make each "zombie," or student, look a little bit different.  After a lot of face paint, fake blood, latex, and a monstrous mess, we created our zombie mob.

Unfortunately I can't post a picture of my zombie clan and handiwork, but here's a list of what we used.

-Ben Nye face paint in three different colors of corpse-esque gray (found at a local theatrical store).  This paint promised to be more hypoallergenic.  (We thought this would help some of our acne prone kiddos not break out so much.)
-Target Halloween face paint (the $10 multi-color pack.  You'll use the yellow, green, purple and blue from this palette a lot!)
-cheap black eye shadow (I used the Rimmel London brand)
-cheap makeup brushes ($1 E.L.F. brushes from Target)  I bought several blush and eyeshadow brushes
-fake blood (either purchased or created)
-a squirt bottle
-a LOT of wedge shaped makeup sponges
-liquid latex (purchased from a Halloween store)
-cotton balls

We followed these steps:

-Using one of the three colors of the Ben Nye gray face paint and a wedge shaped makeup brush, paint the subject's face.  Don't worry about being neat - sloppy is fine, remember, you're likely in a hurry.  The sloppiness kind of adds to the effect in the end, too.
-Take one of the E.L.F. eyeshadow makeup brushes and the eyeshadow and place black shadow all over the eyelid to the brow.  Sweep the shadow under the eye to create the effect of a recessed eye socket.
-Using the blush brush, sweep the black eyeshadow under the subject's cheek bones to create a sunken effect.
-Brush the remainder of the black eye shadow from the brush and blend the face paint and the eyeshadow together.
-At this point, if you would like to add some structural detail, liquid latex may be used to quickly add a "rotting skin" type of texture.  While the latex is still wet, you may add small bits of cotton from cotton balls to exaggerate the texture.  Latex should be dabbed over the top of the cotton to create a more skin-like appearance.  Allow the latex to dry for several minutes before adding face paint over the top to blend the latex into the skin.  The cotton balls and latex can be shaped to create scars, open wounds, or peeling flesh features.  I usually added green, yellow, purple, and blue face paint to these areas to create a more bruised or rotting color.  FUN TIP: Place a few layers of latex on the skin, then use tweezers to rip blister-like semi-round holes in the latex.  These holes can be filled in with red, purple, and black face paint then covered with fake blood to create a chemical burn/ blister effect.
-To make the subject's hair look gray, we rubbed a bit of flour in.  The flour may be set with hairspray if you want to ensure that it will last for a little while.
-The last, but most fun part, is adding the fake blood.  We asked all of our students to dress in clothing that could be ruined.  We had several jugs of fake blood and a few squirt bottles.  For each student, we chose to identify specific types of injuries, like gunshot wounds, slit throats, etc. The blood was placed depending on the wound.  By letting the blood drip onto the clothes, the injuries seemed more realistic.  The final touch was spraying all of the students down with fake "splatter" from the squirt bottles.  FUN TIP:  Coat the subject's arms with flour and then add the fake blood.  If you rub the flour, the fake blood will clump in some places and create an even grimier, clotted texture.

I followed some slightly different steps for my own zombie makeup, however it will give you a better idea of some of the techniques that can be used with the latex.

The steps I followed as well as the materials and some pictures of the process are below: 

First I coated my face with the lightest foundation I owned (several shades lighter than what I normally wear.)  Then, using a wedge shaped makeup sponge, I dabbed liquid latex on my forehead and under my eye.  You may need several coats of latex.  Be careful that you do not get the latex too close to your eye.  BEWARE!  The smell of the latex will likely make your eyes burn and water  For my hair, I used cheap, strong hold hairspray to make my hair crunchy, gross, and tousled - I also stuck in a few leaves and sticks on the way to school.  

Once the latex on my forehead and under my eye dried, I used tweezers to pull some of the latex away from my skin.  On my forehead, I was going for a chemical burn/blistered look, so I used the tweezers to create round, blister like spots of open skin.  Under my eye, I wanted to create an effect like the skin under my eye had been ripped away.  To do this, I gently pulled the latex down away from my eye with my tweezers.  After I finished using my tweezers, I dabbed the foundation on top of the latex to make it closer to the color of my skin.  To add some more architectural detail, I added some latex and cotton on my cheek to create an open wound effect. 

Once the latex was dry, I filled in the spaces with red face paint.  After this picture, I added black and purple face paint inside the "wounds" to create a darker, more realistic color.  I also added some yellow and green face paint stippled and blended around the "wounds" to make the surrounding skin look a little bruised and rotten.

Once you have finished shading in the "wounds" with face paint, add fake blood to the wounds.  don't be afraid to let some drip. I also added black eye shadow around my eyes, up to my eyebrows and below my eyes.  I pulled some eyeshadow around the sides of my nose, around my hair line, and under my cheekbones too to create a more skeletal look. 

And, there you have it.  Zombie makeup in a flash! 

Teaching the Iowa Core Literacy Standards

Now, I realize this applies mostly to my teaching friends that actually teach in the state of Iowa, however if you're looking for a bit of standards based organization, read on for a bit of inspiration.

I teach at a school that endorses standards based grading.  Out of necessity, I put together this little organizer to help me make sure I covered all of the standards I needed to.  Plus I wanted a way to document student proficiency on each standard.

So, behold... a little graphic organizer that does all of the above.

If you browse through the preview below and want to pick up your own copy, dash on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store to pick one up.

P.S... Two blog posts in one day!  Can you tell I had a day off?  Happy teaching!  

Letter Writing Mini-Lessons

I have the very unique opportunity of being able to eat lunch every day with my homeroom students.  This extra time with my 30 homeroom kiddos really gives us the chance to bond - and for some of my students, pick up an extra credit.  Over my homeroom block, I decided to teach a creative writing course to a few of my students that needed an extra English/Language Arts credit.  So...how did I start of the course?  With letter writing!

Because I work in a residential program, my students are not given the opportunity to go home to their parents every night, or even every weekend, so writing letter becomes VERY important.  I've noticed that the majority of my students understand how to write informal letters, like what they would write to their family members, but try to use the same format when writing formal letters.  I wanted to provide my students will the skills they would need to succeed when writing formal letters like the ones necessary when applying to some jobs and colleges.

To help my students write better letters, I whipped up a 50 minute lesson designed to help the students understand the tone and formatting that are so important to writing both formal and informal letters.  The lesson bundle includes:

-A lesson plan including objectives and common core aligned standards for grades 9-10 and 11-12
-A letter writing guide handout (a great reference material for students to use throughout the year), including a BONUS PAGE covering how to appropriately address an envelope
-A letter writing activity/assessment (scenarios that can be given to students to gauge their understanding of formal and informal letter formatting)
-A self-editing checklist (an excellent resource that can be used for other assignments)
-A letter writing rubric to aid in the grading of the letters.

Although my original lesson followed the Iowa Core Standards, this bundle is Common Core aligned to better suit everyone's needs. 

This lesson addresses the following standards:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.1d Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

Additionally, this lesson would be appropriate for a variety of different grade levels, including middle school and, with some adjustments, upper elementary school students. 

If you're interested in what you see, take a gander at my Teachers Pay Teachers store and pick up your copy.

 Library Log and Self-Edit Teaching FREEBIES

Ahhh... life as a second year teacher.  I will say that the start of this year has been A LOT easier than the start of my first year teaching.  I certainly feel more organized and prepared as I walk into the classroom each day, however, being a young teacher still means that you lack the wealth of materials that you accumulate as the years go by.  That said, I have been creating TONS of worksheets, printables, and guides for each classes.  Below are links to two FREEBIES that will hopefully help you out in your classroom as well!

The first is a bird themed classroom library check-out list.  I plan to print a bunch of these and place them in a binder in my classroom library.  Hopefully this well help me have the ability to hold the students accountable for returning our classroom library books in a timely manner AND it will help keep our library a little more organized.  I hope you find the same!  Grab your free copy from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

The second FREEBIE is a generic self-editing list appropriate for a variety of grade levels and composition projects.  I have found that when I ask my students to self edit their work before turning it in, they do not check their work thoroughly.  This self-editing list includes a variety of errors to look for as well as a box where students are required to check, indicating they deem their paper free of any errors in that category.  I explained to my students that these check marks are almost like a contract where the student agrees that they have edited their paper to the best of their ability and the are prepared to receive whatever grade he is assigned.  Pick up your free copy from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

If you enjoyed your freebies, make sure you leave some kind feedback on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Enjoy the start of the school year!  Happy Teaching!

 Five Paragraph Essay Fun

Tuesday marks the start of the second week of my Composition and English 10 classes.  To start of the semester with my Composition students, I decided it would be best to start with the basics- the five paragraph essay.  Now, teaching the five paragraph essay raises A LOT of controversy in the English teaching world.  It seems like every English teacher has an opinion about whether the five paragraph method should be taught and how to do it.  I will admit, while I think it is important to provide the students with the knowledge of the framework of the five paragraph essay, I don't want to teach them such a structured format that the students literally "plug in" information, wrecking any chance for them to write with voice, exercise artistic freedom, or develop an appropriate and natural flow to their writing.  I suppose my theory follows Pablo Picasso's idea - "learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist."

That said, I whipped up a Prezi presentation to present the five paragraph essay format to my students.  You can borrow the Prezi I used by clicking here.

As a fun way to test how well my students are understanding the information, I created a Five Paragraph Essay BINGO game, complete with four different BINGO cards and a corresponding question sheet for the teacher to read (answers are provided.)  This game also provides a nice gateway to a quick review of an terms and concepts that students still have questions about or have difficulty understanding.

A snazzy BINGO tip I learned from a veteran teacher in Tucson is to use plastic overhead projector sheets and whiteboard markers instead of trying to use small BINGO pieces that frequently get lost and/or become a distraction.  I found that regardless of the age of the students you are working with, the whiteboard markers seem to be an easier way to go.

Take a sneak peek at the download below.  If you like what you see, snag your own copy from my Teachers Pay Teacher's store!  Don't forget to leave me some kind feedback!  

 Highly Effective Readers

In new news, I heard back about my job interview and I am now gainfully employed!  I am so excited that everything seems to have fallen into place beautifully with our move back to Iowa.  Starting August 5th I will begin subbing for Language Arts 10 and Composition classes at my new school until the end of the summer session.  Once the fall session begins, I will take over these classes and truly make them mine.  I cannot wait.  Also, I LOVE that I will be teaching in a more alternative school setting.  I can't wait to meet the boys I will be working with.  I am looking forward to having a lot of fun with them.

Since I have been hanging out for the past week in our apartment with no furniture and since I lack transportation because we sold my car I've been getting a lot done in the teacher preparation department.  I was elated to find out that I would be teaching LA10 and Comp, which means this little pack will come in handy!

This pack was inspired by the article "Teach the Seven Strategies of Highly Effective Readers" on AdLit.com.  You can read their article here.  Ever since I took my Approaches to Teaching Reading Class at the University of Iowa before graduation, I have put a LOT more emphasis on teaching the strategies that students need to become better readers.  So - behold - a bundle that will help every teacher do just that.

This 64 page pack includes:

-1 "7 Habits" poster
-7 individual habit posters with definitions - activating, inferring, monitoring/clarifying, questioning, searching/selecting, summarizing, and visualizing/organizing.
-4 differentiated activating connections graphic organizers for helping students make text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections.
-4 differentiated inference activities including: 1 inference match-up activity with cards and discussion organizer, 1 scenario inferencing activity with cards and discussion organizer, 1 setting inferencing activity with cards and discussion organizer, and 1 what's in the bag large-group inference activity
-1 making inferences graphic organizer
-1 page of monitoring "thinkmarks"
-2 differentiated questioning graphic organizers
-1 finding and revising schema graphic organizer for searching and selecting
-2 differentiated summarizing graphic organizers
-1 visualizing and organizing graphic organizer

*All graphic organizers included contain two copies- one with provided examples and one without examples.

I can't wait to see my new classroom and put these posters up on a bulletin board so I can reference them year round  I'm envisioning lit circles with these graphic organizers, too.  What do you think?  What will you use these documents for?  

An extended preview is posted below for your viewing pleasure.  Like what you see?  Pop on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store  to purchase this download for yourself!  

Classy Cards - FREEBIE business card templates for teachers 

As a child I thought one of the coolest aspects to being an adult and professional was having your own business cards and the cards I presented during interviews last year were... let's just say boring.  Or utilitarian?  I suppose utilitarian is a better way to put it.  This year I wanted a business card that would stand out a little more.  I'm kind of quirky - it's OK for my business card to show that, right?  At least I think so.  So here is a link to some editable little cards for yourself.   After interviews, why not change the cards up a bit and add your school contact info and hand them out to parents at the beginning of the year?

Here's a sample:

You can pick up your copy of the document here.

Let me know what you think!


Credit Shout-out:

Thank you to The Hazel Owl for the cute apple graphics.  Check out her other adorable graphics on Teachers Pay Teachers! 

Check out The Hazel Owl's Teachers Pay Teachers shop here.

A Little Classroom Love- Poster FREEBIE

Packing is done!  Happy dance!  Well... pretty much.  There are just a few things left to do requiring assistance from my strong and helpful husband.  But... now that leaves me with not a whole let left to keep me busy now that my car is sold and everything when own is in boxes.  So... that means more freebies for you!  Exciting, right!?!

Below is a little classroom poster that I created.  How cute would this sucker look with a colorful frame?

Let me know how you use it in your classroom!

Grab your free copy here

Happy Teaching!


Just a few... more... boxes... and another teaching FREEBIE

There are just a few boxes left to back... and this is the second teaching document I've created today.  Can you tell I'm procrastinating?  Plus the apartment is growing less and less exciting the more items I have to throw in boxes.

I guess this just goes to show that when you add Katie waiting for an interview with avoiding more packing and utter boredom because almost all of her possessions are stowed away you get more items on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Lucky you, because this one is a funky little freebie to use while teaching your kiddos how to ask good questions while reading.

I found that working with my second grade kiddos the art of asking good questions needed to be a little more... developed... and thinking back on it, some of my high school students could have benefited from a mini-lesson/reminder, too.  Hey!  It's an important reading strategy!  (Or what I like to tell my students an activity that "good readers do.")

This freebie includes reminders about why readers should ask questions and how to ask good questions as well as an interactive portion where students are asked to ask a question before reading, during reading, and after reading as well as answer their question to show their mastery of the topic.

This activity would be great during literature centers for students in middle to upper elementary grades, middle school students, and appropriate in even some high school courses as well. Don't forget- the vibrant design makes it fun to post in your classroom or display on your overhead projector with an example that students can reference.

Enjoy this freebie!  Don't forget to send me some feedback and tell me how it goes!

There is a preview picture below and a link to my Teachers Pay Teachers page where you can download a copy for yourself!  :)


Getting Organized

While I wait to hear back about the results of my job interview, I can't help but start to want to prepare for the classroom that I may end up getting.  (My fingers are still crossed.)  One item that I wanted to adapt from last year was an organizational binder.  It's just so much easier having all of that information in one place, being able to flip to the correct tap and viola!  The info you need is right there!

So, with the help of some ADORABLE NinjaWoman graphics, I made this whimsical woodland organizational binder, complete with everything you need to keep yourself organized throughout the year.  Plus, it's suitable for any age and subject!  

This 49 page document includes:

Class information divider
Daily schedule sheet
2 hour delay schedule sheet
Early dismissal schedule sheet
Half Day Schedule sheet
Class roster sheet (made to print multiples)
Seating chart (made to print multiples)
Lesson plan divider
Monthly calendars
Weekly plan outline sheets (made to print multiples)
Student information divider
Student birthdays sheets
Important medical info sheet
IEP at a glance sheet (made to print multiples)
ELL at a glance sheet (made to print multiples)
Parent contact info divider
Student log-in info sheet
Parent contact info divider
Parent contact info sheet
Parent contact log sheet
Common core divider
Standardized testing scores and data divider
Standardized testing scores sheet (made to print multiples)
Reading level sheet
Teacher info divider
Important contact info sheet
Teacher log-in info sheet
Professional development notes divider
Meeting notes sheet (made to print multiples)
Professional evaluation divider

The best part is you can print only the portions that you need.  Lucky you, blog readers!  You get an extended preview!  If you see what you like, hop on over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and pick up your own copy!


Let me know how you like it!

Happy teaching!

Packing and a Unit Plan

Life has been a little crazy around here with all the packing and preparing to return to Iowa.  I'm getting more and more excited as we can start ticking the big items off our list of "things that need to be done" before we can move.  Yesterday we were able to cross off a big item- selling my car.  It is a little bittersweet because I've had my little Corolla since I was 16 and it has been an amazing car.  Sure, it was never a show-stopper, nor was it beautiful or swanky, but it certainly was, and still is, reliable.  I couldn't be more pleased that we're selling it to a sweet girl that is so excited to have it as her first car.  It will be wonderful for her!  

On the packing side of things - holy moley.  You never realize how much stuff you have until you start putting it all into boxes.  My apartment is a box maze right now.  Literally.  Can't wait to load everything into our Pod this weekend and ship it off to Iowa.  If you're ever looking into moving, definitely look into Pods.  It will be SO much easier to not worry about a driving a huge U-Haul across the country.  (Trust me, it's about as much fun as it sounds... and I didn't even drive it.  It does take about 11 days for everything to be delivered which means we'll be sleeping on an air mattress for a while and living out of suitcases, but anything beats the U-Haul option again.

So life is really starting to fall into place!  Everything is settled with Patrick's job.  We have both of the vehicles sold and one waiting for us as soon as we roll into Iowa.  Plus I can't wait to live in our new townhouse!  Now I just have to hear back from the job I interviewed for.  ;)  Keep your fingers crossed.

Speaking of job interviews, I decided to create a unit plan to showcase what I would envision teaching for three weeks in a 9th or 10th grade classroom, hence the creation of my monster 130 page unit plan covering Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried.  For anyone who hasn't read this collection of short stories it is AMAZING.  There is a ton of controversy over whether the collection should be classified as fiction or non-fiction, which makes for some great opinion based discussions with your kiddos.  I would LOVE the opportunity to teach this unit with a group of students.  The idea actually stemmed from a unit that was taught by one of my Practicum cooperating teachers and a National Endowment for the Arts lesson plan that can be found online at the following website http://www.neabigread.org/books/thethingstheycarried/readers02.php.
I thought there were some good points in the NEA lesson, but I decided to expand upon it and add a LOT more fun activities, including a mini-lesson that I taught over one of the stories while I was in my Practicum class.  The unit is Common Core aligned, has 15 days of clear lesson plans and materials, tons of vocabulary and terminology posters, extra extension/final project activities, pop quizzes, a final exam and everything else you need to help your high school students succeed.  Browse through the previews below then head on over to my Teachers Pay Teacher's store at the following link:

Let me know how you like it!  Also, I must admit... it felt pretty good to write lesson plans for secondary students again!

Happy Teaching!


What's In Her Bag Inferencing FREEBIE

Reading strategies was one of my favorite things to teach with both my younger and my older students.  One concept that I found was particularly difficult with my younger kiddos was inferencing.  I've found that students are typically more comfortable when asked questions where they can go back in the text and find concrete answers.  Inferencing requires some higher level thinking that pushes some students just a little bit out of their comfort zone.  Perfect, right?  ... As long as you find a fun activity to ease the discomfort.  This is one my kiddos loved and it's easy to do in your classroom, too!

Using the graphic organizer you can snag for free from my Teachers Pay Teachers store, project the image so you can use your graphic organizer.  I liked using my document camera to project the image so I could write on it and my students could see my writing and I didn't waste a bunch of paper making copies for each student.

Plop your purse on a table or desk in the front of the room and pull out a few items.  I chose my car keys, a gift card to Sephora, and a library card.

In the "items in the bag" column, write the items you pulled out of your purse.

Now, pick up one item at a time and ask the students what they think that item says about you.  My students picked up on it right away.  For my keys they came up with ideas like "she has a car," "she can drive," "her car is a Toyota," (because of the symbol on the key.)

Once you have written their inferences, discuss how the items in the bag are like clues in a text.  When students find clues in a text, they can easily make appropriate inferences, too.

We read our weekly story from the Imagine-It curriculum we were using at the time directly after this lesson and the students were making much better inferences!

Although I used this activity with a second grade classroom, I would have no qualms about using it in a secondary setting either, depending on the ability of the students.

Let me know if you use it in your room and how it works for you!

Snag your FREE download here:


What Do the Songs "Row Your Boat" and "It's A Small World Have in Common?"  They Can Help You Memorize your Multiplication Facts...

Last year my students had a lot of difficult remembering some of their multiplication facts... and let's be honest, I had some difficulty remembering a few of them, too.  I remember hating multiplication in school, partly because the way it was taught was never really, well, fun.  I was struggling for a way to teach my kiddos to learn to love, and remember their facts when I ran across a few songs and tricks to help them remember some facts online.  These songs were great, but they didn't cover everything, so I came up with a few new ones.  My students LOVED it.  Every day we would go through our "multiplication songs" and the students really did begin to remember their facts better.  Hurray!  In order to pass the knowledge along, I created a multiplication pack in my Teachers Pay Teachers store with songs, tricks, a fun game, and lots of practice worksheets.  Take a little sneak peek at some page previews and let me know what you think! The full product can be downloaded at the link below. 


Substitute Teacher Binder FREEBIE

As I've mentioned previously, I'm a teacher, but when people ask me what I teach I always find it a little bit difficult to explain.  After going through my program at the University of Iowa, I always had the intention of teaching 5-12 English/Language Arts.  Then my first year teaching I had the great experience of teaching a second grade, fully inclusive classroom at a growing charter in Tucson.  Yes, it was a little unorthodox, but my students and I learned a ton and I learned that I love the younger kiddos just as much as the older ones. Since my husband and I might (fingers crossed) be blessed with the opportunity to move back to Iowa at the end of July, I have no idea what I could end up teaching next year.  With the entire summer off, I've been struggling to come up with classroom ideas that could work for any grade and one was a substitute teacher binder.

I used a similar format last year when I needed substitute teachers to take over my classroom and they LOVED being able to come in, grab the binder, and easily see exactly what they needed to do.  Plus, who doesn't love cheerful polka dots and chevrons?!  I hope the document is helpful!  Don't forget to leave feedback and tell me what you think!

Here's a preview of some of the pages you will get with your download:

You can download this freebie from my Teachers Pay Teachers store at the link below:



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