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Monday, March 28, 2016

Marvelous Plastic Crates

My first year of teaching found me with few educational materials and no extra money. Yet, I was desperate to furnish and stock my first classroom. This is where plastic crates saved the day!

I was headed home the week before school started when I spied a stack of plastic crates used for storing milk jugs sitting behind a restaurant. Why hadn't I thought of it before? There sat the perfect solution to my classroom library and storage problem.

The restaurant's manager wouldn't give the plastic crates away since "they belong to the milk company". But, he suggested I drop by tomorrow around the same time and ask the driver of the milk truck. I took his advice and raced right over after school. The milk truck was parked near the crates, and the driver was filling out paperwork.

I lost no time in pleading my case. Fortunately, the driver told me I could "take a few each afternoon over the next several days".  I ended up with ten plastic crates.

After spray painting some of the older plastic crates, I stacked them in two places in my classroom: some behind my desk and the rest in the corner designated as the classroom library. I acquired more crates as the year went along. I used some for storing class sets of textbooks. Also, I used one crate for each of my five classes and inserted alphabetized file folder inserts into each one. Students made portfolios from manila folders. They covered the folders with personal story Road of Life maps to use for writing prompts throughout the year. Each class had a designated crate that they stored their portfolio folders in. The crates worked much better than bookcases or file cabinets.

At the end of the school year, I was told that teachers needed to pack up their classrooms so cleaning and painting could take place. I didn't have to pack a thing! Instead, I righted my plastic crates and toted them home for the summer.

Those marvelous plastic crates made my first year of teaching so much easier! Let me know about your great classroom uses for plastic crates...

In honor of milk and plastic crates, here's some FREE Dairy Month handouts to celebrate! Find the complete set at my TpT Storefront:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Adding Socialization Skills to Lesson Plans

Having fun lends an air of relaxation to learning and mastering new concepts. Even if your lesson plan does not include "fun", it can use socialization as a learning tool. Doing so is simple and places the responsibility for learning back onto shoulders of students.
Below are some ideas for using socialization skills as a learning tool in the classroom:
1. Pair students then have them choose one concept or skill from the daily lesson then explain it to their partner.
2. Use expert groups. Ask students to choose one small portion of the lesson to explain while in small
groups. Use a timer and rotate groups so that each group contains one expert per topic.
3. Have students sign up in advance to prepare a two-to-five minute lesson plan with an activity to introduce to peers. Use templates such as Share Your Knowledge to promote social learning. 
4. Use Comprehension Postcards. Take ordinary postcards and write one comprehension question per card on the postcards' backs. Use craft scissors, which make unusual designs, and cut the postcards in halves. If larger groups are needed, cut the postcards in thirds or fourths. Have students find their postcards' mates then discuss/answer the question listed on the back.

5. Get outside the classroom! Measure school buildings in math classes, go on creative writing excursions, or test hypothesis in science classes by heading outdoors. Head outdoors to teach prepositions with Preposition Walk.

6. Use butcher's paper or poster boards and have groups illustrate one important date from their history chapter. Then create student comic books with this easy to implement Comic Book Writing lesson! It comes with activity worksheets, great student examples, and step-by-step instructions.   

When students have fun learning, they engage with materials, use critical thinking skills, and look forward to coming to school. Happy students make for stress-free teachers!
Teaching is enjoyable with socialization learning activities!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Celebrating Writing on St. Patrick's Day

There's nothing better than St Patrick's Day to implement new vocabulary and fun, educational writing activities! Get students interested in creating unique Irish stories by using story starters and word banks. Vocabulary word banks help emerging writers with categorizing, linking ideas, sequential ordering, vocabulary, and word choices. Students can use words banks, such as those written on shamrocks called St. Patrick's Day Story Starters, to practice and relate vocabulary words to specific cultures and traditions:

(Right click on image to download free handouts)

Begin your St. Patrick's Day educational, fun class time with FREE facts sheets and activities. First, learn about the history of the Irish holiday:

If you have students who need practice with motor skills and matching, try Wacky Wayne's St. Patrick's Day handouts. These activities help students to find similarities and differences, as well:

For younger readers, use phonetic sounds written on shamrocks to practice building words and putting consonants together with Shamrock Blended Consonant Phonetics Game:

Build sight words and combine action verbs with exercise by reading "Lucky the Leprechaun Looks for Gold", a Get Fit Action Story. You can get the complete book FREE by reading my Teacher's Studio post from last week. Here's a short preview of it:

For upper elementary students who are ready to think about character traits, try My Pot o'Gold Character Traits. Introduce character traits to students then tie the concepts to real life with this pot o' gold activity. Students choose one character trait to define each of their classmates. Then, they write the character traits on gold coins, cut and paste onto peers' pot o' gold. This writing activity reinforces emotional intelligence skills by using positive character traits of classmates. 

As your St. Patrick's Day winds to an end, hand out a word search for some Irish vocabulary fun!
Holidays are the perfect time to celebrate writing! So, use St. Patrick's Day to learn about Irish culture, learn new Irish vocabulary, and write stories that incorporate Irish tradition.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Women Scientists as Role Models

There's a national movement to get more female students interested and involved in STEM subjects. In order to do so,there needs to be more emphasis on female scientists who are role models. Ask your students to make a list of female scientists and their contributions. How many female scientists can students name? 

Here's a list of  Ten Famous Women Scientists:

Marie Curry
Barbara McClintock
Jane Goodall
Rita Levi Montalcini
Maria Mayer
Gertrude Elion
Rachel Carson
Elizabeth Blackwell
Rosalind Franklin
Christine Nusslean-Volhard
It's important for students to understand contributions made by female scientists. Therefore, the federal government and the Office of Science and Technology Policy has set up a website to help teachers incorporate STEM into lesson plans. Included are: fact sheets, news, reports, speeches, videos, and more. As more and more females choose STEM fields as professions, their contributions become recognized and celebrated.
Teach STEM and female scientists and contributions with these fun, engaging activities:

Try this STEM related activity: Columbia Shuttle Disaster and Activities.