Monday, February 25, 2013

Lesson Planning Website

Lesson planning has to be one of my least favorite things to do!  I already have a plan in my head and it's a big pain to formally write them out.  My principal the last few years has required us to turn them in each week, which since I avoided doing them until the last minute, was always a mad rush!  This year I'm lucky and don't have the pressure of having to turn them in, however, we do still have to do them. 

A colleague shared this website at a staff meeting the other day and I am so excited about it!  You can do the free version or it's $25/year (which gives you more features) - there is a free 14 day trial period also.  The best part about this, is that it has a quick search to find your standards and it inserts it into your lesson plans - AWESOME.  You can also turn them into your principal with the push of a button.  I saved mine as a PDF, emailed them to myself, and then opened it in my Kindle app on my iPad... which means no printing.  I don't know if your copy budgets are being cracked down on as hard a ours are - but I feel guilty even being seen in our copy room!

Check this site out by clicking on picture below.  I'm confident you will LOVE it!  Super easy and efficient!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

MLK Wall Mural and Book Talks

For MLK Jr. Day this year, I teamed up with another teacher and we created this amazing wall mural of MLK!  The template came from Art Projects for Kids and was $5. - totally worth it.  Each student in the two classes used oil pastels to color one 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper.  Then we put it all together and created a huge wall mural. 

I can't take too much credit for the idea, because my co-worker, the amazing and talented Mrs. H came up with the idea. I then begged her to let me include my class :-)  Here is the final product!

How are you addressing this standard? 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.4 Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.

I am having my students do book talks.  I have them complete these at home and then present them at school.  So far, they have NOT gone well - uggghhh! 

I tried giving them a form to fill out that included title, author, genre, etc.  Then I had a beginning, middle, and end area to help them with their summaries.  What I ended up getting back was, "In the beginning he went to the store, in the middle their was a dog, and at the end he found what he was looking for..." 

So basically, they totally missed the point! It was torturous to listen to the presentations and the kids were completely restless and uninterested!

Luckily, I was browsing through Pinterest, and came across an interesting idea!  I had to modify it big time because it was for the upper grades, but I think the kiddos will have more fun.  Basically, I sent home brown paper bags, a paper (copied on construction paper) that they will complete, cut out and put in the bag, and use as index cards when they present.  On the front of the paper bag, they will illustrate an original picture that captures the main idea of the story. Then they will have the cards and the bag to help them present.

In addition, I have been modeling and showing them video clips of other students giving book talks to help them get a better idea of what kind of summary I am looking for.

I also posted video examples of students giving book talks on my classroom blog for parents to view.  You can check it out at  There is a link at the top of this blog to my classroom site as well!

I am hoping that this will drastically improve the quality of talks and interest in presenting and listening to presentations!  I'll let you know how it goes.  I should mention that I work in a Title I school, so at-home projects can be difficult for some students!