Thursday, April 10, 2014

Interactive Notebook

This year is up and running finally. I added interactive notebooks to my repertoire
 this year. I jumped in with my first few lessons planned out in an interactive version. I love using these notebooks so far. I feel so organized. I also have proof that I taught the objectives and I am so organized. To my surprise no one (Knock on Wood) has forgotten their notebook at home.
Some tips that I found helpful are:
  • Trim or cut pages before passing out. This takes my eighth graders for ever. I save precious minutes by doing it my self.
  • I made supply buckets for each table. This cut down on passing out supplies and collecting supplies.
  • Keep a large Table of Contents poster in the front of the class so that students can update as they go or when they have a free moment.
  • For me it really helped to model everything on the Elmo projector.
  • Buy a great paper cutter!
I think it was a great choice for my classes!
Have any of you already used interactive notebooks? Any tips you want to add?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Motivating Myself!

First, let me apologize for not blogging since November. I have been busy, busy, busy! First, I have been studying to pass the teachers test for my state. I have so far passed two out of three. I took the third one on June 25th. So now I sit waiting for my results. I have also been working on TPT products. So this has taken a back seat.

In one of my earlier blogs I showed you a picture of the books incentive program I started with the students. I am pleased to announce that by the end of the year the students had read 76 books. I forgot to take a picture. The most read student had read 13 books. This next year, I will challenge my students to read more then 13 books in a year.

Sorry, this is short but I promise to put together some new posts some!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Great Experience

Follow Me on Pinterest

Recently, I was able to teach two technology classes for our districts technology conference. The first was "Pinterest for Teachers" and the other was "Student Blogging."  I was so excited about each class, but I was also a little nervous, because this was the first time that I had ever taught adults. I wanted to be clear enough so that they all could understand how to do the things I was teaching them and yet not so watered down that experienced people were bored. I believe that I achieved success in reaching a balance. Hurrah!

I thought I would share the info that I shared with my teacher students with all of you. The first workshop I taught was Pinterest for Teachers.

  • I showed teachers how to set up and edit their boards. 
  • I showed them how to follow someone.
  • I showed them the correct way of going directly to the website to pin from there and not just repin from the feed. 
  • We did some random searches and located information to teach various topics. (That was fun!)
 It was awesome! I now have people coming to me for help. Pinterest is such a valuable teaching resource, I don't know what I would do with out it. 

Follow Me on Pinterest

How do you use Pinterest? If you you are not using it what is stopping you?

The second class I taught was "Student Blogging" I promise to talk about student blogging in my next blog post!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Creating Coversations that are Meaningful

Our first unit is called Meeting Challenges. We have been reading articles and stories about people who face different challenges. Last week, we read an article from Schalastic Action called "Homeless to Harvard" by Laura Lin from the October 8th issue. I had the students read it silently first. This was difficult becasue they all had something to say. The article was about a boy who had his home shot up by gang members becasue he refused to join a gang. David goes on to deal with being homeless by setting high standards for his life. Eventually, making it to Harvard. By making them keep their comments to themselves until discussion time, just about everyone had something to say. They were proud of David's accomplishments, angry with the gang members that shot up his home and furious with David's mom. I think that they had "ahha moments" when I explained to them how much money it costs to get a new apartment. It was a great lesson with outstanding converstion.

Use current article.
Use non-fiction information about teens.
Have students collect their thought and write down what they think instead of sharing right away.
Try to bring in real world information whenever possible.
Be real with the students.

What conversations are you planning for this week?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

MMSS Blog (Part 2)

This is the second installment of my new motivational techniques that I am trying this year.  I have already covered the personal conferencing in my last post, however, I thought I would share something that the kids came up with. When I call them up to meet with me they say " Oh No, it must be "Book Therapy" time!" It cracks me up every time they say it. I wish I had thought of it. LOL Anyway.

Motivation #4: The Wall of Fame. When my students finish reading a book and have done a letter to me about the novel, I give them a simple star. They place the star on the "Wall of Fame." Believe it or not, I have about 15 stars already. The kids (8th Graders) ask for the stars, want to put them up on the wall and let me know when I forget to give it to them. It amazes me that these students are so into this. At first, I thought that this would flop with middle school students, they are definitely motivated.Sometimes, I love being wrong!

Motivation #5:Calls home. I am making a point to call home with positive comment to parents. Parents hear so much negative. I want my students to know that  calls can be positive to their parents as well. Praise, praise, praise!

Motivation #6: I began using Whole Brain Teaching techniques this year. One of the techniques is called Scoreboard. Students earn point toward playing a game. I tally the points for following directions, working quietly and  sharing excellent answers. Then on Friday (if they have enough) we play Basketball Trivia. Which is a game, I semi-created. The link to my free directions will be posted at the bottom of this post. During the week I keep a log of questions about the information they have learned throughout the week.
Free Directions to Basketball Trivia


What things have you tried this year to motivate your students? Were they sucessful or a complete flop?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Motivating Middle School Students (MMSS Blog) Part 1

This school year has started off quite well as far as motivating my students.

Motivation #1: Conference With My Students.  I have begun conferencing with each student during silent reading time at the beginning of the class. During this time, I listen to them read, ask them questions about the book that they are reading and show them how to actively read and keep notes. The students are writing a letter to me each week about what they are reading. I make notes of things that I can discuss with each student to help fill in some of the gaps that they have. For example, one student used the wrong form of "their" in a sentence in her letter. I used our conference time to explain "their, there and they're." I showed her a few examples and she got it. After our meeting, she thanked me for helping her to understand the differences. Not only was she motivated, so was I.

Motivation #2: Use the Nook E-readers. Last spring I wrote a Donor's Choose proposal to get a Nook Color to use in my class. I also asked my PTA to assist in funding the project on Donor's Choose. Well the PTA at my school is so wonderful they gave me $300.00 toward going and buying either a Nook or a Kindle Fire. It was Mother's Day weekend and there was a sale on the Nooks at Barnes and Noble. I went and purchased two Nooks to use in my classroom. Then in June my Donor's Choose project was funded and now I have three Nooks to use. They are so motivating to the students. They are all being used on a daily basis. The kids want me to start a list of who gets to use them next.

Motivation #3: Respect Reward Tickets. This week I started to give out a Respect Reward ticket.  Students receive the Respect Reward ticket when they are doing their best and showing respect to their classmates, teachers or themselves. Each month I will pick a winner that will be given 20 minutes to use the Nook to play a game. I have games like Boggle and Scrabble on the nook so it will be educational (Shhh don't tell my students!)

Well that is all for today! Next week I have a few more motivational ideas that I will share.

What kinds of things are you doing to motivate the middle school students that you work with?

Till Next Time!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Great First week with Whole Brain Teaching!

"This is the best class I have ever had!" 
" Wow, That was a fun class!"
" My class was awesome!"
These were the comments I heard this week as I dismissed students from my classroom. This has been the best week ever. It all started with being in a flash mob at the superintendents convocation meeting.

I am in the green on the end.

Then, I used several new (to me) Whole Brain Teaching techniques. The kids loved, loved, loved, them and that is saying alot for middle school students. Whole Brain Teaching actually put smiles on the faces of my students.

First, I taught the students how to stop what they are doing and answer " Yes" when I say "Class."

Next, we learned the class rules and the motions. I showed them how to teach each other and all about the scoreboard. I was amazed at how into it they were. 

Well one week later my grade six students are loving it and very enthusiastic. My grade eight students are okay with it. They take more convincing. We played Basketball Trivia which is my version of Mind Soccer. So I am hoping that will help motivate them to increase their participation. 

Also, another highlight is the 40 book reading goal. I already have five students that have completed reading their first book. this has motivated others. 

So I am off to a great year.
P.S. Check out the new MMSS Blog Store!

How is your year going so far? What new things have you tried?