Monday, November 11, 2013

Passion Projects

Advanced learners need more...not more worksheets, not more work.  They need more from us as teachers.  So often, these students get forgotten in classrooms because teachers have a million other concerns on their plates.  Today's post is dedicated to fostering the passion of all learners, but specifically GT students and advanced learners.

I began with this motivating video.  This student shows that adults can and should learn from kids.  Wow...she's an amazing speaker too. 

Using the idea from the video below (I didn't show this to kids though.) I gave each student an area around the room to show their passions. I asked questions and had them add each thought to a post-it note.

1. What are you passionate about?
2. How can you change the world?
3. What are your strengths?
4. How do you like to present? Technology? Speech?

Here's an image of their brainstorms...

I can't wait to see what they come up with! My next steps with the students is to have them complete a project proposal so they can begin their plans. Follow my blog to see their final projects next month!

How do you encourage indiviualzed learning for your students?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pre-Assessments Made Meaningful!

Okay, I will be the first to admit this sheet looks boring.  I mean how much data can you get from this basic worksheet anyway?  First, let's discuss.  What are preassessments for?  To guide instruction right?  To show growth?  So often, we give preassessments and then never do anything with them.  What's the point?  We are all too busy to do anything that isn't valuable.  This is where this technique comes into place.

Step One- Give the preassessment.  The nice thing about this sheet is that it can be used for anything.  Students write the main topic in the center and then you offer them four specific questions for them to repond to in the boxes.  Here are some ideas...but I am sure you will come up with better ones!

Topic- polygons
Box one- what are examples of polygons?
Box two- what are examples of shapes that are not polygons?
Box three- what are rules for polygons?
Box four- what are examples of regular polygons?

Topic- non-fiction
Box one- what are examples of non-fiction books?
Box two- what are examples of books that are not non-fiction?
Box three- how would you define non-fiction?
Box four- what genres fall under the non-fiction category?

You get the idea.

Now here's the hard part.  Students need to write in colored pencil and they need to write relatively small. 

Step two- Use the assessment.  Look for trends for whole group lessons, ways you can group students into small groups, possibly even topics you can skip entirely because your whole class are already experts (not that happens frequently, but you never know).  No need to grade them, just take notes to help you teach.


Step three- In a few weeks, after some instruction, give the assessment back to the student.  Have them add to it, cross things out, etc. in a different colored pencil.  This is the best evidence that your instruction matters.  Students will see how much more they know, you can use it to guide your instruction again, parents and administrators will love to see the growth.  And the best part?  Almost no planning. 

What great ways do you use pre-assessments?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

So. Many. Freebies.

Well it's back to school time so this means this post has to be short and sweet and full of great things for my amazing friends and followers.  Many sellers from teacherspayteachers have worked hard this summer on back to school ebooks to help teachers work with the Common Core for math and literacy in new and unique ways.  The ebooks are out now and each page includes one teaching tip and at least one freebie.  It's amazing!  Enjoy :)

Click on the image of my page above and go straight to my freebie to help set up your writing workshop center.  Hope your year is going great!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Back to School Deals and Steals

I was so happy to connect with some of my favorite Colorado sellers.  We decided to share some of our favorite products right before the big sale.  Remember almost every sale is participating and you can save up to 28% off items for back to school.  It’s time to stock up!

Here are some of the best products from the best sellers in Colorado.  Please check them out and have fun shopping for back to school!  Remember to enter BTS13 when you check out to get the full discount. 

Jean Martin’s favorite product is her novel study for Wonder by R.J. Palacio. It is is wonderful book and teaches kids of all ages about tolerance and acceptance for kids who are different. It also promotes the understanding that who we are on the inside is what really counts.

Kristy Morris has these awesome homework writing journals.  She says, "I love them and have found them to be great over the years to add more for writing.  I have a kindergarten one and second grade.  I'm working on intermediate next!" Be sure to follow her store for updates on when the intermediate will be ready to go.
Cecilia Magro from I Love First Grade's favorite product is her FirstGrade ELA and Math Common Core Morning Work.  It is so easy to use and assures teachers that students will be working on SO many Common Core Standards for math and language arts. Purchase the entire bundle and save even more because she is offering even a larger discount on this product making it 38% off!
Naomi O’Brien from Read Like a Rock Star is offering her Main Idea Mega Bundle which combines all 7 of her engaging and helpful main idea packs! Buying this pack will save you over 25% and provide you with 7 different themed main idea packs that will keep your students interested and motivated to read and find the main idea all year long! Themes included are: Science, Valentine's Day, February Holidays, Winter Holidays, Fall/Halloween, Pirates, and her original Main Idea and detail packet.

Kristin Holmquist’s favorite product is her "FindSomeone Who" Math Bundle.  It's a great way to review math concepts at the end of the unit, or as a "refresher" anytime throughout the year. The best part is kids are up and out of their seats, working together, and learning from each other. This product is most appropriate for 2nd-4th grades.

Pam Kranz has an exciting Math Games Galore Bundle. It's a collection of her favorite math computation, order of operations and place value games. She says, "I love these games because they're easily differentiated, work well in a variety of learning situations (centers, solitaire, team challenges, whole class, homework), and are easy to leave for a substitute once the class knows how to play." They're appropriate for grades 4-8.

Ashlyn Ellsworth’s  favorite product  is her  states of matter pack. Ashlyn says, "I love this product because first off I use it with my first graders and made this because there wasn't much out there to meet my science needs! The pack is easy to use and the kids love it. The science experiments are great. Especially the ice cream making!!"

I hope you all enjoy this short preview of some local sellers and especially the great deals coming your way starting at midnight tonight and running through Monday night.  Happy shopping :) 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reading and Writing Workshop

I am so excited about my small group packs that I just have to share out to the world!  The hardest part of teaching in a workshop model is squeezing in time for small groups AND one-on-one conferences.  These packs have completely solved this problem.  Now, all teachers have to do is use their assessments to plan for the groups and they are ready to go...FOR EVERY STANDARD!  I worked hard to make the lessons so they are fun and follow a simple routine so teachers and students know just what to expect.  You can download this routine for FREE!

If you're interested in checking out these resources they will be on sale this Sunday and Monday.  I hope you like them as much as my teammates do! It's available for both reading workshop and writing workshop.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Colorado Teacher Meet-Up

What an amazing experience!  I was lucky enough to connect with some of the best teacher/sellers in the state for a fabulous lunch last Thursday.  We were able to talk about our funny student stories, our current positions, interesting teaching ideas, and even our own kids and pets.    

From the left moving around: Cecilia, Naomi, Kristin, Lorrie, Brenda (me), and Pam. Check out their stores for ideas and resources for every elementary grade. 

What a fun group and fun day!  Keep on the lookout for more collaborative efforts from my new Colorado connections :)