Friday, June 26, 2015

Teaching about Archaeology with the Magic School Bus (Quiz and Assignment Freebie)

I will be teaching Ancient Civilizations this year.  I am working on trying to plan out what I will teach next year, and how I will teach it. In so many of the classes I have been taking as a doctoral student, we have discussed the idea that in order for students to engage in deep learning that stimulates creativity, students need opportunities to learn in authentic ways the represents how professionals in those fields think.

For Ancient Civilizations, this means that I want to teach my students to think like historians, archaeologists, linguists, anthropologists, art historians, etc. To introduce what it is to think like an archaeologist, we are going to watch the Magic School Bus "Show and Tell" episode.

I have made a quiz for the video and an assignment.

You can get a copy HERE. Do you have a favorite way to introduce students to the field of archaeology.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Math Weekly Participation Rubric - Freebie

In more and more of my rubrics over the last year, I am trying to emphasize effort.  From the reading I have done on the growth mindset, I think it is important to encourage students to challenge themselves and be self-reflective. I also want students to make the connection between what behaviors and habits lead to certain results.

I have been thinking more about how I want to break down my grading structure for math next year.  I decided I wanted to make a math participation rubric that students could use to evaluate their own habits and effort.  Using the rubric, they will be able to earn up to 20 points per week based on this self-assessment.  I then will also grade their effort and behaviors in math, and we can discuss how my assessment of them compares to their own self-assessment.

This version of the rubric I made for a teacher who is teaching our 3rd and 4th grade students. She will be using Xtramath with her students, so I included that as a component of the rubric.  I will probably change the rubric slightly for myself for next year.  The rubric is a word document, so it is editable.  You can get a copy HERE.

How do you break down your grade in math?  Do you use standards-based grading? Do you grade just based on performance on daily work and tests?  Do you ever give your students opportunities to grade themselves and reflect on their own habits and academic behaviors? How do you try and encourage a growth mindset in math?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Unit Plan and Lesson Plan Templates for Backwards Planning (Understanding by Design) - Freebies

One of things I try to do in the summer besides taking more time to read and enjoy my summer is start doing some planning for the next year.  Especially now that I am in graduate school, I find my time during the school year is always limited.  The more organized and prepared I can be in the summer, the less stressed I feel when school starts.  One of my goals this year is to actually try to incorporate more of the backwards design planning into my unit plans.  I have read and skimmed through Understanding By Design off and on over the last year, but I have yet to really plan a unit this way.

I really like the idea of planning with my objectives and end results in mind and then using that to plan for assessments and learning activities.  I also had read Advancing Differentiation for a class two summers ago and liked the way the author broke down knowledge into conceptual knowledge, procedural knowledge, and factual knowledge. This idea of considering what students should know, be able to do, and understand aligns with Understanding by Design but I liked the descriptions of conceptual, procedural, and factual. For me, it helps me to visualize what I want my students to accomplish and learn.

I kept looking for good templates to plan units and lessons plans using this format.  I found some examples, but nothing that really had all the elements I wanted.  So I decided to create my own templates.  For the unit plan template, I basically used similar templates I had found, but I wanted to add more elements to consider how I would pre-assess and differentiate. I also wanted to add something at the bottom where I could break down the unit into the goals of each individual lesson. You can get a copy of the unit plan template HERE.

For the lesson plan template, I wanted to find something that would flow well from the unit plan and include many of the same elements, but also let me incorporate elements of a traditional lesson plan.  Once again, having options to differentiate was important to me.  This template may be overly detailed and not all elements would apply to all lessons/class periods but I wanted to have the elements if I wanted them.  I do not really have to turn in detailed lesson plans very often any more, but I think it is good to still practice and reflect on my own teaching practices on a regular basis. Another part of considering what students should know, be able to do, and understand is giving students opportunities to learn thinking skills.  Direct instruction of different types of thinking skills is something I want to incorporate into each unit I teach this year. This is a word document that be edited, so columns/row can be typed in, deleted, or edited for size.  You could either type directly into the template or edit the boxes to be the size you want and then handwrite into the template. You can get a copy HERE.
Realistically, for lesson planning on a regular basis I really enjoy using You can read my review of different online lesson planning websites HERE.  I would only use a template like this when I decided to make a more detailed lesson plan. However, even on Planbook I can create templates for each class/subject so I will probably incorporate elements of this template into my Planbook templates.

I am looking forward to trying them out.  Have you ever planned units using the backwards design process? Did you feel your units were stronger for using this approach?

Monday, June 8, 2015

What I am Reading June 8

It is Monday, so I am linking up again for #IMWAYR.  I already am enjoying summer.  I have much more time to read when my schedule is more relaxed.

This week I read:

1. The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

I enjoyed this story that linked history to the present.  As a reader, you were able to follow the parallel stories of a foster child and an elderly lady, who had been an orphan from the past who was shipped west on the orphan train. I do think they could have developed Molly's character (the foster child) more.  Molly learns about Vivian's story by helping her clean out her attic and ends up doing an oral history project on her for a school project. This book definitely made me want to incorporate more oral histories into my classroom.  Oral histories could offer a great day to give students opportunities to think like historians.

2. Asylum by Madeleine Roux

I wanted to read this book because I enjoyed Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children.  I have been very intrigued with the idea of photo text ever since I read Wright Morris' The Home Place for a class during my Master's degree.  I love the idea of juxtaposing photography with a fictional story to see how the visual and the verbal narratives interact.  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a much more successful photo text than Asylum.  Asylum has an interesting concept for a plot and was an easy read, but the story is very flat with not much development of the characters.   The main character goes away to a summer college prep program for high school students.  The students are housed in an old mental asylum turned dorm.  It turns into a somewhat suspenseful mystery.

3. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

I am almost done listening to Shadow and Bone on audio.  This book I am actually really enjoying.  I generally enjoy plots that are fantasy but use historical settings you recognize.  The setting of this story is a historical Russia that is war-torn but magic plays an important role.  An orphan girl finds out she has a long dormant power and could be the secret to saving the world.  She is swept away to the palace where she finds herself in the middle of politics.  I always enjoy fantasy stories with history, magic, and a little bit of romance. I look forward to reading the next one when I finish this one.

Any good summer reads you recommend?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Texts and Lesson Ideas for Teaching Multiple Points of View (Common Core Reading Literature Standard 6)

Point of View has always been one of my absolute favorite skills to teach.  Helping students to see events from multiple points of view is a vital skill to so many learning milestones: reading abstract plots, building empathy, understanding narrators, building a conceptual foundation to history, and my list could go on.

This summer I am doing some planning for next year for grades 5 and 7, so I decided to start searching for text and lesson ideas by standard.  Standard 6 of the Reading Literature standards focuses on point of view. As you look at the wording of the standard of each grade, you can see that the concept just builds a little each year. My goal is to work on some lesson units for my store with lesson ideas by standard for middle school.

Grade 5 RL 6 - Analyze multiple accounts of the same event or topic, noting important similarities and differences in the point of view they represent.

Grade 6 RL 6 - Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.

Grade 7 RL 6 - Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.

Grade 8 - Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.

Some great examples of picture books to use as a mentor text that include multiple points of view:

Voices in The Park - This is a simple story with four differ points of view on a walk in the park.

The Pain and the Great One - This is one of my favorite books to teach with because most students can relate to the idea of an annoying sibling. A brother and sister each describe one another and how they annoy each other.  This is also a great story to teach making connections.

The Day the Crayons Quit - This is a great humorous story told from the point of view of a box of crayons to explain why they have decided to quit.  I love following up this book with writing activities where students write from unique points of view.  I have a unit for this book in my TpT store for upper elementary.

Hey Little Ant - This story is told from alternating points of view between a little boy and an ant.

Teaching point of view by looking at unique points of view:

Teaching fractured fairy tales is always a fun way to teach about point of view and writing from unique perspectives. You can find many great examples of great fractured fairy tales if you search on Pinterest.

Two Bad Ants is a great book that gets kids thinking how life would be from the point of view of an ant. Getting students to write from different perspectives always produces some of my favorite writing pieces of the year.  Ask your students to write from an object's point of view or the antagonist.  Here is a lesson for using Two Bad Ants.

Some other lessons and resources from Read Write Think on point of view:

Some other links I found:

Suggestions of kids and young adult novels with multiple points of view:

Suggestions of kids books on point of view:

Lessons on point of view from Read Write Think for middle school students:

Resources of suggestions of short stories and lesson ideas for teaching standard 6 focusing on literary elements such as irony: 

My favorite short story from this list that I would use to teach irony and point of view is The Ransom of Red Chief. After having students read this story, we always put the kidnappers on trial to see if they were really guilty.

Monday, June 1, 2015

#IMWAYR End of School Year Reads

I can't believe that it has been almost two months since I blogged. Then again, I am a teacher and a graduate student who was at the end of the school year and the end of the semester, so I guess I shouldn't be that surprised.  Today is the beginning of my summer schedule (which is still busy but at least more flexible), so I am excited to have more time to relax, blog, and read for pleasure.

Today is Monday, so I am going to link up with Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for #IMWAYR.

I just finished Cress by audio book. Now, I just reserved Fairest at the library.

I have to see I have enjoyed this series by Marissa Meyer.  I have listened to all three as audio books.  As a teacher who has taught elementary grades, I have always enjoyed fractured fairy tales.  The idea of fractured fairy tales for a little older audience set in a science fiction setting is unique spin on an old story.  I also enjoyed seeing how they interweave all the stories. All three of these books are pretty clean too compared to many young adult/teen books, so you easily could read them with younger students.

I finally finished The Wednesday Wars as the read aloud I was doing with my students on Friday.

This is a great book.  It is a coming of age story set on Long Island that has some great examples of figurative language and good use of humor.  I would use this as a read aloud again or even as a literature circle novel. I could see doing a set of literature circles all focusing on the 1960's using The Wednesday Wars, Deadend in Norvelt, and Paperboy. All three of these books are from this era with young teenage boys as the protagonist.  Each story has a unique setting and interesting characters but deals with different issues from the time.

I just put in my request for some summer reads from the library.  What are you reading?
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