A Little Holiday Downtime.....

Saturday, December 28, 2013 6 comments
I'm linking this post up with I'm Lovin' Lit for herThursday Throwdown!


 So.... I have about 6 hours of grading to do and at least 4 hours of planning.  Of course that means that I am sitting here putting together things for Teachers Pay Teachers and blogging.  Procrastination is my yearly gift to myself!  The holidays here were great..... lots of fun, food, family, and spoiling of my midgets.  The Wii U is hooked up and the princess costumes are strewn throughout the house!  We're probably cuddling too much and spending too much time in our pajamas when the sun is out, but I'm okay with that.

Before break we had some great work happening with my little tribe of students.  My district has started a pretty intense new teacher evaluation system and one of my SMART goals was to increase scores for nonfiction text features and structure as a support to the ELA teacher.  I was trying to find the best way to support here and I just kept coming back to entrance tickets and something I have been doing for months.  I finally got off my butt and made these:

My Twitter boards for entrance and exit tickets!  Every class gets their own board and every kids gets a Twitter space. In order to support the nonfiction work done in the ELA classroom, I created text structure questions based upon our current content.



For my eighth grade, I was able to ask them some great questions that would prepare them for a district Declaration of Independence module.  I track all the information in a spreadhseet on Google Drive and am able to share this information with my ELA tam mate.  We're going to be creating intervention groups and this information came in real handy!

This question was, "What was a Patriot?"  I got amazing and speedy data from using this method.



What I really love about this method is the rich and SPEEDY data I get.  I am horrible at timely grading and this keeps me on my toes because I can't give a new question until I have taken down the last question.  This means, I have to grade it or I end up throwing away great data.  I have started a new page on this blog to share my entrance ticket questions with you.  They are extremely tailored for my classroom but they might be helpful to you if you are looking for ideas!  Click here to take a peak.

My seventh graders thing that Hammurabi's Code is hysterical and mesmerizing all at the same time.  To capture their interest, I created a full Launch, Explore, Assess activity.  First  I have the kids explore the code, then I have them play a group game where I give them various scenarios that break a law in ancient Babylonia.  As a team they need to find the law it breaks and tell me the punishment Hammurabi would have doled out.  As an assessment, I put the kiddos into groups and they had to create plays to portray their three favorite laws.  They had to act out the crime, the trial and the punishment.  We are putting the plays on after break and I'm going to use the stage in our cafeteria.  The kids are so excited to use the stage.

Having more fun making the props than they should!

If you are interested in my Hammurabi Unit, it is currently on sale at Teachers Pay Teachers.  It's 20% off till the new year and includes a whole bunch of resources.  Go on over and check it out!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Hammurabis-Code-Launch-Explore-and-Assessment-the-Kids-Will-Love-1032601
My eighth graders had a really intense argument writing module to do before break.  One of the mandatory things hat needs to take place in the module is a full class share out.  I
used an activity I already created with my seventh grade and it work fabulously!  The kids gathered their evidence with one group, made group posters with another group, and were able to do a gallery walk to gather evidence from all the posters.  I also did this in the hall because, man..... the kids just love to leave the classroom!!!


Not only did the kids love it but it really helped to ease anxiety.  Many of my students are still struggling with gathering textual evidence and in this situation, they were going to have to write an essay based on evidence.  Knowing they would be able to gather information from the peers eased their tension and for me, I knew that they would have good modeling to use for their next activity in gathering information.

I'm going to go back to cuddling with my kids now.  Super Mario 3D world is calling me and a 35th episode on Phineas and Ferb.  The best part, though, is the hugs and kisses!










End of Year

When I find time later today I'm going to sit down and write a real blog, after I can actually see my floor under all the video games and princess costumes Santa brought!  For now, here's a little end of the year present from me.  My entire store is 20% off until the end of 2013.  I actually have two new items in the works as well.  Enjoy!

Pirate teaching and textual evidence

Friday, December 6, 2013 2 comments
I have had an amazing week!  Seriously,  I am so rejuvenated and jazzed right now teaching is like my super power! 
My 8th grade is a special case.  They've had a hard time of it over the years and they are just that more difficult to reach. I spend most of my creative juices on them to let them know that I respect them and want them to succeed.  This week we were discussing the Battle of Bunker Hill.  My school is situated on top of a series of hills so I knew this would be the opportunity to get them out of the classroom.  I waited till a day that wasn't supposed to rain but.....oh my!  It was cold.  I kept telling the kids, "We're from New England!   We were born for the cold!"  But really..... It was cold!  
Why I wanted to do was to show them how far away you needed to be before you saw the whites of someone's eyes.  They loved it!  My boys were the British and my girls were colonists.



We came up with about 30 feet and were totally able to process the pros and cons of the situation.

My seventh graders are an amazing bunch.  We talked about the seven determinants of civilization and found textual evidence to prove Sumer was a civilization.  We used sticky notes.... I really love sticky notes:) 


 The kids did amazing.  They had to find two quotes from the text that proved that Sumer was a civilization (I.e. technology, language, etc.). They did amazing and my admin called the activity, "Dynamic". 
It's been a good week:)


Cyber Monday..... and Tuesday!

Sunday, December 1, 2013 No comments
Come on over to Teachers Pay Teachers on Monday and Tuesday, December 2nd and 3rd and save a bundle. My entire store is 28% off! Enter CYBER in the checkout for he full discount! Happy shopping!!!

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Engaging-Them-All

Crime Scene In The Classroom!!!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 40 comments
*** I have updated the resources and website for this activity.  Access the resources here and the website here!
*** If you would like to see how the simulation evolved, click here!
I had such an amazing class today I just couldn't wait to blog about it! I've been doing decent teaching since I started at my new school but every time I chat with my Teach Like A Pirate peeps (#tlap Mondays at 9 eastern and #sstlap at Thursdays at 9 eastern) I feel really inadequate. I knew I had to try to do a lesson I could sell a ticket to and even though I almost decided to scrap it five different times I finally made myself do it and it was fabulous!

I decided to create a detective agency where we were going to determine if the British soldiers at the Boston Massacre were guilt of murder or simply acted in self defense. I borrowed very heavily from this website and got a lot of inspiration from a video that I now can't find but I'll post it as soon as I find it. In the video, the kids got to interview people who had "witnessed" the Massacre. I am in a very small school and knew I wouldn't be able to get people to come in and act as colonists so I had to come up with another idea.... I would play all the roles and video my "interviews". To do that I created this....

http://bostonmassacrewilkins.weebly.com/...

You must see this just so you can see colonial interviews like this.

Movie on 11-17-13 at 6.48 PM from momtodex on Vimeo.





I had six stations. One was for the crime scene, four were based on different accounts of the events and the last one had three different artists' renderings of the event. At the account stations they had print out of the testimony, could read it on the computer and could read along as I .... I mean the colonists..... Gave their accounts. In the crime scene, students could touch anything and had various questions to answer or consider.

The kids absolutely loved it and I had a blast as well. We will be doing it tomorrow so it is about a two day activity. A the end, I'm going to have the kiddos do an argument writing paragraph about it and then we will watch the John Adams clip about the trial.

Examples of handouts:


If you would like to do this in your classroom, I'm attaching all the information for free. Click here if you would like access to all the printables.  Enjoy!!!!!


#sstlap Chat Tomorrow Night

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 1 comment
I'm substituting for a Twitter friend and will be hosting my first ever Twitter chat tonight. Join us at 8 pm central at #sstlap to discuss social studies, teaching like a pirate and this week's topic - how to keep the pirate alive with everything that has to be done: CCSS, vocabulary development, argument writing, close reading, etc. I would love to see you all there!

Activating their Knowledge

Saturday, November 9, 2013 1 comment
I've been absent because I have been on a roll!  I have totally and absolutely fallen in love with my kids and my new school and about three weeks ago it started to feel like home.  I'm finally starting to really nest into classroom and I've discovered who Mrs. Wilkins is in an urban setting.
My biggest but welcome challenge is working with my ELL students.  I have found that I don't have to change my teaching style but I definitely need to frame my activities differently.  After, what I thought, was a successful unit on the French and Indian War, one of my hardest working and brightest ELL students asked me, "So what was the French and Indian War?"  I realized I needed to front load the lesson and activate their vocabulary.  When we went to start our unit on the causes of the American Revolution I I decided to show the BrainPop before we started.   Instead of having them do the quiz,  I gave them individual white boards and asked them to write down any words, phrases and dates they could process from the movie.  I them had them get in groups and share their words and make a word cloud poster.  Now when we work on the Stamp Act, Townshend Acts, etc. they say that they remember hearing about that one:)



 In my seventh grade class I have been working on a town mandated "module" which is CCSS aligned and models after a performance task that we assume will be on the PARCC test.  As the students gather information they have to have the opportunity to share out to the class.  This becomes difficult with thirty in a class so I knew I had to find a way they could collaborate in a meaningful way.  I had them create group informational posters that they hung in the classroom and the hall.  I told kids they could shop for information from all the posters to build their arsenal of evidence for their argument writing.  One of my kids said it really was shoplifting because we were just stealing information so that's what we call it now... Shoplifting!!!  It's worked out wonderfully and their argument essays are going splendidly.  




On a Teachers Pay Teachers front, you should check out my store.. I've made some great new stuff!
My kiddos have been using these graphic organizers both in my class and in ELA and we are having great success.  Give them a whirl here!

Have students use their geography skills to find the major physical features of the Fertile Crescent. Click here!

Counterclaim Baby!

Saturday, October 19, 2013 No comments
Hello blogosphere!  I have nothing especially spectacular to post but I do have a new item. I have been having some CCSS conversations and people have been telling me that they are having some difficulty having their little ones write counterclaims.  I started to wrap this around in my noggin and realized that sometimes we have them "create" a counterclaim before they can "identify" one.  Reverse Bloom's Taxonomy!!!!!  In response I created this fun Counterclaim Task Card set where students get tons of practice identifying counterclaims and then they can use these as models.  Win win!!!


Enjoy!!!

~Kara

Grudgeball, Text Mapping, Keep it or Junk It and More....

Saturday, October 12, 2013 1 comment
Three day weekend.....yeah!!!!! I actually laid down today during my midget's nap and both of us slept for three hours. Needless to say, my new job is extremely rewarding but very tiring! I have so much to tell you I'll just jump right in....

1. Great purchases

I got this...

Because I have grand plans of doing this...

Right now, it's made me a lot more organized which is really good. I'm still trying to find myself in my new classroom and at least I'm not running all around the classroom now for a paper clip or a bandaid. I don't know if mine will ever look pretty but it's extremely functional.

I also bought these at the Dollar Tree..., for a dollar each!

Earbuds!!! They are fabulous for our MacBooks and they are better than headphones because I just wipe them off with a Clorox wipe in between kids. It made doing my colonial stations easier because the BrainPop station meant a quarter of the class was independent and silent.

2. Textmapping

I did my first text mapping with my seventh graders and they loved it!

Look at all that tape!!!!
Last year when I launched textmapping, I made the mistake of assuming that the kids knew what a text box, illustration, chart, etc. was and I was constantly fielding questions during the process. This year, we did a quick page of notes in our interactive notebooks using this awesome presentation I found. We also watched this video for a great Common Core website called Learnzillion.

On the left hand side of their notebooks we did a prereading activity titled , "I Notice...." Where the kiddos had to tell me three things they noticed about the text using all the text features they just learned. It worked so well and I'll be trying the same activity with my eighth grade this week. Cross your fingers.... They are tougher to please!

3. Keep It or Junk It

I've blogged about this activity before but finally got to use it. Weirdly enough they do it on Jamestown in the video and that is exactly what we did in class. The kids did great for the first part. I had them individually find the ten words they felt were the nonnegotiables. They then got into groups of four, shared their lists and came up with a group list.

When it came to the part where they had to vote as a class, it kind of fell apart from there. First off, the activity went to a second day. Secondly, I have 30 kids in a class. In the end I was going to have about 70 words to go through and that is just way too long for my students's attention span. I will do this again, but I might have each group only do three words and I think I might have to do more modeling. I did let them watch the video before we tried it so modeling definitely helped. I think they need me to start it and then they can jump in when they are ready.

4. Grudgeball

Grudgeball is by far my most popular post on my blog. I was really excited to us it with my new kids and it did not disappoint. They loved it and have been begging for it every day since.

All in all, I have had a couple of great weeks. I'm feeling more comfortable everyday in my new surroundings and I'm really starting to understand what my kids need. We had open house the other night and it was wonderful to hear parents tell me their kids are coming home and talking about how much fun they have in social studies. As you all now, I aim to please.

Now... Onto my wares! First off, I have created some great sticky sheets for main idea and inference. I just used them with my seventh grade and they loooooooved them!

I also made this really funearly man interactive notebook activity with a foldable and left side processing activities. Again, the kiddos had a great time with it and did an amazing job on the processing activities. So many of them went above and beyond!

Lastly, Teachers Pay Teachers hit 100,000 likes on this little old thing called Facebook.... Have you heard of it? Because of this they are offering 10% off with promo code FB100K. Head on over to my store and get all those things you have wish listed!!!