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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Hurricane Harvey and Disaster Preparedness

Those of us on the Gulf Coast are inundated with water and winds! Our first week of school has been disrupted, and there's more water on the way...

Hurricane Harvey, Spillway, Bacliff, Texas
How can we help students prepare for natural disasters? How can we help calm students' fears about weather related events?

Being knowledgeable about natural disasters may save lives, and it's never too late to prepare. Use National Preparedness Month to help students learn more about natural disasters and how to save lives:

Be knowledgeable, be prepared, and stay safe during Hurricane Harvey!

Studying hurricanes?

Great Storm of 1900

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Surprise! Tuesday TpT Sale Up to 25% Off!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Journaling in the Classroom

Have you tried and tried again to implement journaling in your classroom? Have you lugged home crates of journals after your day ended? Have you struggled to grade and respond to all those entries? 

There's an easier way!

Journaling should be fun and relaxing... 

How does journaling work in my classroom? 

  • Journal the first ten minutes of class time; it sets the tone and gets students ready for class time
  • Set the mood--lower the lights, play Gary Lamb's brain music
  • Insist on no talking (writing notes to others allowed?) for the full ten minutes of journal time
  • Have students either date or number their entries. Skip lines between individual entries (this will make grading much easier and is explained below)
  • Model, model, model--for the first time or two, I write my journal on the board where everyone can watch my process. Afterwards, I read my entry every class period. Yes, I may write only one entry per day but read it during each class period. Memories, school events, and current events work great and often have moral points. Debatable topics work well, too.
  • Give time for sharing: I've had classes where no one shared then classes where everyone shared, but I always read my entry and ask if anyone would like to share
  • Use a prompt or no prompt: my students freewrite with no prompt because that is what they are often asked to do in other classes and this prepares them for future testing. However, a prompt allows you to tie to thematic lessons or discuss specific topics
  • Anything goes in my class: memories, poetry, song lyrics, drawings with captions, comic strips, to-do lists--I accept any form of writing. Face it--some days you don't feel like writing a full blown journal entry, and on other days writing is therapy. Set boundaries you are comfortable with 
  • Grading is simple: Count the number of days the class journaled; give a 3 point grade range (30-27 = A; 26-23 = B; 22-19 = C; 18-16 = D; 15 - Below = F). Then, call students up and count the total number of entries; do not read the entries. Those who wish to share their work should do so after daily journal time has ended or use your class roll sheet to mark daily those students you observed writing versus not writing
  • Use ol' fashioned handwriting with plain paper in paper folders or fancy journals, or use online journals; the process works the same for either 
Make journaling more about students and less about grades by implementing a system that is simple and works well for everyone. 

Remember, journaling should be fun and relaxing!

Emotional Intelligence Prompts (Critical Thinking required!)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Publishing Student Work

Students need audiences for their writings. Therefore, I'm asking viewers to become an audience for my students' final research essays:

Conspiracy Theories
Social Epidemics 

Summer classes ended Thursday, August 10, and students are now published authors! Also, now, they understand differences between academic writing, creative writing, journalism, and social media: 

Kinds of Writing

Students know which skills they are good at and which skills need developed:

Visual Writing

They learned writing is a process and that sometimes it is a very long process:

Writing a Rough Draft

Their final products are proof they learned to brainstorm, plan, research, write, peer workshop, and re-write to produce properly cited academic research sources--I'm very proud of them!

Help your students become published authors:
Publishing Your Work: A How-To Guide

Enjoy students' essays on Conspiracy Theories and Social Epidemics!
Beth, Educator Helper

Sunday, August 6, 2017

FREE Fun Spelling and Vocabulary Adventures

Have trouble getting students to work on spelling and vocabulary? Repetition is often used to help students practice and master spelling words to increase vocabulary. Here's some freebies to make spelling and vocabulary fun!

Make as many words as possible with these Falling Leaf Spelling Activities: 

Go on an underwater journey with Submarine Sally's Spelling Adventures

If an underwater adventure is not for you, then how about going Fishing for Vowels?

 Make spelling and vocabulary fun and interactive with handouts from Educator Helper!