Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Memorial Day Tribute

This Memorial Day, I would like to dedicate the post and my Memorial Day Tribute Literary Bundle for Grades 4-7, to a former student, Capt. Andrew Pedersen-Keel, who gave his life for our freedom. He and Staff Sargeant Rex L. Shad were killed in March of 2013,  when an Afghan policeman opened fire on U.S and Afghan forces inside police headquarters in eastern Afghanistan. He was attached to Company B, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C., and was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

I cannot speak highly enough of Andrew, PK as many called him. I remember with fondness that day, years ago, when he first walked into my classroom. He was a charmer with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, and I knew right away that I liked this kid. He was smart, in our top group, with such kindness, human warmth, and sincerity that made him unforgettable. The other kids in the class respected and liked him. Due to heart problems, a young girl in my class struggled to carry her books, so Andrew volunteered to tote them for her. This selfless act meant so much to her that years later, at his wake, she shared it with his mom.

We have lost a true hero, struck down at the young age of 28, who made the ultimate sacrifice to make the world a better place. I know that I am a better person for having known  him. The solace that we have is that he was a part of our life and he will live in our hearts forever. I salute you Capt. Andrew Pedersen-Keel.

If you would like to know more about Andrew, please visit this website.

Included in this literacy bundle is a timeline of the history of Memorial Day. There are comprehension questions to be answered as well as writing prompts, plaques and pictures to color. I hope that you and your students enjoy using this.

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For Teachers:……………………………….Page 4
Dedication to Capt. Andrew Pedersen-Keel..Page 5
Memorial Day Historic Timeline...Page 6
Comprehension Questions…Pages 7-8

Writing Prompts
Paragraph about Memorial Day History..Pages 9-10
Memorial for a fallen soldier………….Pages 11-12
Write a letter to a soldier……………..Pages 13-14
Memorial Day Speech by President….. Pages 15-16

Design a Plaque& Pictures to Color
Design a Plaque Honoring a Soldier……….Page 17
Animals are Heroes Too Make a Plaque……Page 18
Our Heroes, Pictures to Color………….Pages 19-20

Grading Rubrics………………………Pages 21-22
Answer Sheets……………………….. Pages 23-24
Resources…………………………….Page 25
Contact Page…………………………...Page 26


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Friday, May 15, 2015

10 Ways to Keep Students Learning Over the Summer

Summer is the time for fun, fun, fun! School is out no more hitting the books. The only problem is that much of what was learned during the school year is forgotten, “out of sight, out of mind.” Not so with these ten fun educational activities that will keep the children looking for more and not even realizing that they are learning.

1. Have your child, if he/she is old enough, take pictures of different things that you do over the summer. This will be especially exciting if you travel
    somewhere. They can put their photographs in a nice scrapbook and write
    a few  sentences about them. Make sure correct punctuation and grammar
    are used. What a great memory to look back on. When the school  year
    begins, this book can be shared in class.

2. Help your child make a summer calendar for June, July, and August.
   They can use crayons, pencils, paint, rulers to color them in and add
   special things that they did over the summer. This will help to
   reinforce number recognition and counting. An effective way to work on
   addition and subtraction would be to say: “How many days till we go to
   the beach? or How many days ago did we go to see grandma and
   grandpa?" even “How many days till you go back to school?”(of course
   they may not want to think about that!)

3. Make  musical instruments from materials that are found around the
    house. Use towel/toilet paper rolls, decorate them with paint, then put small
    pebbles inside. Close each end with cloth, or paper then glue them on or
    secure with rubber bands. This can be used as a rattle or rain stick.  Other
    instruments that they can make are drums, a box guitar, or a maraca, etc

4. Cooking and measuring the ingredients help with math skills. They will have
    to read the recipe and measure the ingredients correctly. 
   Here’s a great website that will get you and the kids cooking.
   with- kids.html

5. If your child likes the computer or tablet, take advantage of it. Have him/her become a web ranger. They will go on quests and learn about national parks. It will help enhance skills in history and geography because they will be asked to solve mysteries and puzzles, play games and more. Check it out on this website: 

6. Start a family garden. Decide what type of garden it will be: flower,
vegetable, herbs or a combination. Then read up on it. Learn about the
particular plants that will be used, find out where they should be placed, in the sun or shade. What types of soil are best, etc.  They can use some math measuring skills to figure out how far to space each plant. They can also measure plants to estimate the growth.  In addition to this they might try a science experiment to see if seeds grow faster in sun or darkness and keep a written record. You can go to this website for more information.

7. When riding in the car have your child read signs, names of cities, towns, parks, or look for license plates from different states and figure out what states are the farthest away from them, or they can count the number of license plates they see from the different states. Another game that is fun when traveling is to start with the letter A and name a city, state, or country that begins with that letter, go through the entire alphabet. A variation of this would be to say a state, city, or country name and the next person has to come up with a name beginning with the last letter of the place just said. Austin/Nebraska, Anchorage/Evansville, and so on. Everyone in the car plays to make it more fun.

8.  For those would be scientists, start a rock or critter collection. See how many
different rocks/ critters they can discover and find information about them in a book or on the web. They can make a scrapbook with photographs and information about the rocks or critters that they have collected.This is a great site for rock collecting, your child will have loads of fun while learning.
This is just right for collecting those critters.

9. Have a scavenger or treasure hunt. You will have to write out directions as to where to find something and your child will have to read it in order to find the prize. This website has printable check lists, 10 ideas for scavenger hunts as well as tips and tricks.
This pinterest page has loads of ideas on this subject

10. Plan a family fun day. Have your child write everything down from the menu to the games that will be played.Here are some ideas that can be written down.
· Describe the activity. What will you do? Will you play games, go for a swim, watch a movie?
· How will you prepare ahead of time. Will you need tickets, a picnic lunch, or reservation?
· What supplies will you require.
· How much will it cost?
· Who will be invited?
Make sure that you or your child takes pictures and then he/she can make an online photo album, write a few sentences about each image and email it to all of those who attended.

11. You can play word games such as scrabble, to work on spelling skills, board games like Yahtzee to help with math skills, card games like war which will
utilize number skills, or word bingo.  I’ve also included some items that you can purchase through my Tpt store to help reinforce math and word skills learned in school.

          For more ideas, check out these websites:

Here are some other great ideas from other teachers, please check them out.

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Thursday, May 07, 2015

How to Make Effective Collaborative Groups

I found that having children work in small collaborative groups made learning fun for both myself and the class. Interpersonal development is essential for students as they need to learn how to relate to each other in a positive way, small group activities allow them to do this effectively.

Group Structure: As I approach the new school year and get ready for my class, I look at last year’s  teacher’s recommendations to help figure out levels, once that is done, I make groups with one high level child, two with average ability and one lower level child. I also try to have 2 boys and 2 girls in each group. That way there is diversity in abilities and they can all help each other. I found that the best arrangement for groups is no more than 4 so if I have 25 students I will make 6 groups of 4 and one with 5.  Each group remains the same for one semester, and then we rotate. We would change groups 4 times throughout the year since we had 4 semesters. I liked having them work together for at least two months, getting to know each other, cooperating and allowing each child a chance to be heard.  Of course there are always one or two kids that have a hard time working with others.  If that occurs, you might pull them from the group and have them work on their own, esp if they are disruptive, until they can prove that they are able to work within a group. Setting up the rotations takes a bit of  work since you don’t want to have the same kids in the group more than once.  *See diagram.  

Participation:  Each child in the group has a particular job to do: leader, complimenter,secretary, person to pass things out, person to clean up, presenter, etc. Make sure that you let them know exactly what is expected of them.  Depending on the lesson, we play the pencil game, one person holds a pencil and it is their turn to do the talking, when they are done the pencil is passed to the next child, and so on. Everyone has a turn.  Sometimes they will write a  group  report and to make sure that everyone contributes, they have to initial the part that they have written. 

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Since it is important to put high level, 1 low level and 2 average students in each group, you might want to assign them a color and a number.  For example: Jane is a bright student, assign her blue 1; Kathy really struggles, assign her blue 4, John and Adam are average students, they would be assigned blue 2 and 3. When you do each rotation, you would need to make sure that they are with different classmates and labeled accordingly. Keep the number code to yourself, the class should know their color code.

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 Classroom set up:  I make two rows of horseshoes. Two members of the group are in front, the other two sit in back of them.  So when it is time for group work, the front row only has to turn their desk around to face the other two. Of course, this takes a bit of practice, but they eventually get it.  When we begin group work, it can become noisy, so I have to remind them to use inside voices, I might hold up a finger, ring a bell, or hold up a QUIET sign. You can also reward the quietest group with something that they would like.  

If you'd like to see a complete lesson using this technique please see my bundle, What is it Like to be an Archaeologist?  
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You might be interested in these items:

This post is from our awesome blog hop. Please take a look at these other blogs from some phenomenal educators.

 An InLinkz Link-up

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Friday, May 01, 2015

Making History Come Alive

I remember sitting in history class, as a student, and being bored out of my mind.  The teacher just lectured and all I could do was to look at the clock and wish that I was someplace else, ANYPLACE else!  Needless to say I learned very little history that year. I only began liking it after I became a 6th grade teacher, years later, and vowed that I would make history come alive for my children. I didn't want them to go through what I did.  That's when my hands on approach to World History came about.

 I found that a good way to get your class motivated in history class is to make it exciting by adding little tidbits of personalized information about people and or civilizations that you’re studying. Kids love hearing a bit of gore, so when I teach about the Maya, Aztec and Inca civilizations, I give information about their bloody sacrifices, or the game pok ta pok which is a predecessor to some of our modern sports like soccer and basketball. This is one way to help them relate to what was going on at that time.

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Archaeology is a term that students should become familiar with. To just have them look up the word and perhaps write it in a sentence, or discuss it in class is tedious. I found some old clay pots, had my husband, who is an artist, draw designs on each one, we then broke them into fragments labeled them put them into bags and distributed them to groups of four students who were to work as an archaeological team. They were to walk around the room and find the missing parts from other groups of students. Once they had some pieces, they were to put the pots together so that they could figure out
what the design was. I wouldn’t recommend this to younger students as it was a bit frustrating since pieces were difficult to find. Of course my goal for the lesson was achieved; the class knew a lot more about archaeology than they did before. More importantly, they realized that it was essential to work as a team and they realized what a difficult task an archaeologist had.

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The Mesopotamians were the first architects of the ancient world, they built huge ziggurats. To help the class gain an understanding of what it was like to build bricks. One of their assignments was to make a brick out of mud, twigs, grass, etc.  As a writing assignment, they were to write a daily journal of their experience. By doing this, they gained insight into the difficulties of brick building, and they 
 realized just how difficult life must have been back then.As a culmination to the project, they brought their bricks into class so that they could build a ziggurat.  Of course, many pictures were taken. Can you guess what their favorite part was? If you said smashing it to pieces, you would have been right.

1. Making History Come Alive
2. 10 Ways to Make History Come Alive
3. Storytelling: Make History Come Alive and Inspire Tomorrow’s 
4. Making History Come Alive
5. Make History Come Alive with Discussion Partners!
6. Making History Come Alive

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