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Showing posts from February, 2013

My Love Affair With BrainPOP

If you have spent anytime reading my blog you will know that I have a love affair with BrainPOP. I use it for everything in my classroom. I launch lessons with it, use it as a review, use the quizzes and graphic organizers and often assign the videos as out of class bonus activities. This year I have two students who, for reasons way beyond our control, can not attend classes. I have spent some time creating independent units of study for these kiddos and BrainPOP has become about a third of these assignments. My own fabulously amazing six year old got on iPad for Christmas and has absolutely fallen in love with the BrainPOP Junior app. In the past eight weeks he has learned about the solar system, the seasons, factor families and fractions, just to name a few of the topics. He just went back to kindergarten after his February vacation and came to home to tell me they had started to learn about money in class. "We're just learning about pennies, though. Tim and Moby t…

Explain Everything App, Primary Sources and YouTube.... A History Techie's Dream

Yeah....February vacation!!!! Although I am going to take it easy and just have fun with my baby girl (the boys had vacation this week.... How sad, right?) I have three school related tasks.1. Enter professional development into the system.......Ugh! I'm up for renewal this year and in the last three years I have entered zero hours of development yet completed about 300. I also left that folder at school. Guess I'll be bringing the midget for a field trip!2. Grade my Citizenship Project.... If you can find the time to blog about the project, I guess it's kind of pathetic that I haven't "found" the time to grade them. I tend to be pathetic so I'm okay with it but there is always time for change :)3. Blog! My last post has received over 800 hits which is just ridiculous in such an awesome way. I had been keeping a list of blogging topics so I'm going to try to carve out the time to write at least two over breakAs I have been documenting here, I…

Room with no view....

I'm having fun getting out into the big wide world of edublogging and decided to join my first Linky Party. Life in Middle School is a fellow middle school blogger who I love to follow. She has challenged us to show the view from our classroom doors, since we spend so much time there. She posted a beautiful scene of a gorgeous outdoor quad in California. This is what I get to post....

It could be worse! I actually have a fabulous classroom in the new wing of our school (of course it hasn't been new in a decade but we're a staff that believes in longevity:) ). This view has been mine for twelve years and I wouldn't trade it for the world. What's the view from your room? Click below to see other views! http://middleschoolforlife.blogspot.com/2013/02/view-from-my-front-door-link-up.html
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Grudgeball.. a Review Game Where Kids Attack!

I have long been a huge fan of using games in the classroom.  Much like sneaking broccoli into the pizza sauce, I have always felt that games were that perfect balance of teaching and engagement.  When I first started, my consummate go to was Jeaopardy but..... Holy work Batman! Setting that all up was extremely time consuming.  I wanted to find a way to have a quick go to game I could use with any set of questions.  I bought myself a Nerf hoop and did a straight game of answer the question, get it right, shoot the ball and earn points.  For a majority of the kids this was enough but for one of my classes, nothing could get them excited.  For them, this game was accompanied by the sound of crickets, followed by awkward silence, followed again by crickets.
I came up with the solution one night while watching Survivor.  The contestant competed in a challenge where they answered trivia questions about their teammates.  For every question they got correct they got to put a coconut in the…

Writer's Workshop... In Social Studies!!!!

Being a social studies teacher (and former language arts teacher), I have always taught my share of writing but over the years the focus has changed. Right now, my department is really trying to implement the Common Core so we are no longer focusing on the five paragraph essay (thank the education gods!) and really moving towards writing frequently with a focus on summarizing and argument writing. We have been doing persuasive writing for quite some time but we are aligning the vocabulary to that of the CCSS (i.e. persuasive to argument, thesis to claim, etc.) and again, we have been working on quality as opposed to length. Many years ago we had adopted the John Collins Writing Program and we recently brought Mr. Collins back to our school to share his ideas on the CCSS. His biggest push was for us to help students learn to grapple with complex texts through completing an assignment called a 10% Summary (http://collinsed.com/PDFs/10%25_summary_focus%20sheet_TSAT.pdf). This sheet…

Digital Unit: Citizenship... I Didn't Even Need to Be There

Last year I created this digital unit that the kids absolutely loved. I was totally jazzed to implement it again this year and I was a little disappointed my life took over and I actually had to be out of school for two of the five days of the project. The funny thing is, I had created a digital unit where they would not only create independently but also learn independently. Goal accomplished! They were able to continue on with everything without me even being there.
I needed to teach my kids the basic concepts on citizenship and I had always done a quick worksheet to quickly cover the standard but I always knew I wasn't doing it justice. After a little investigation I was able to create a fun learning experience that gave them room for creativity. Here is a quick look at the project:

1. The kiddos watched a BrainPop on Citizenship and took the quiz. Google and BrainPop have a wonderful relationship which allows children to submit their score to a Google spreadsheet in my …

My Flipped Upside Down Classroom... Thank You Google Drive!

So, the first five years I was a teacher I took approximately 1/2 of a sick day.  I prided myself on my New England Puritan work ethic and by the time I had my first midget I didn't even blink when I had to take maternity leave.  Fast forward six years and I had to take off three days in the past two weeks.  First, the midgets got the flu, then my husband got in a car accident, and finally the little ones got a fast and furious stomach bug.  My students had been working on an entirely digital unit and I had already abandoned them to a sub one day so I was feeling really guilty.  My school was able to get me tech savvy coverage so the kids were able to spend class in the computer lab and finish up their projects.
Because I was feeling guilty my head started racing with how I could help the kids.  We are a Google school and all of my kiddos needed to open their Google Drive accounts to read the "Do Now" directions.  As I thought about that my plan began to hatch.
1. I edit…