A Big Bucket of Fabric

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 No comments
Let your middle school students play dress up in Social Studies! #socialstudies #middleschool #imaginativeplay #classroom

Do you know what makes my students really, really, really happy?

Nothing makes my students happier than a big bucket of fabric!  If you have a bucket of fabric you have unlimited costumes and imagination!

I have been having kids make plays or videos for all of my 18 years but I never saw the power of the fabric bucket till I went to my new school.  The fabric bucket does not belong to me but is actually shared among teachers and used for Hammurabi plays, Greek God skits, and vocabulary videos.  I have the biggest classroom so I get physical ownership of it and I am lucky!

The fabric is old sheets, drapes, sashes, and rope.  It has turned my kids into Babylonians, women on the Oregon Trail, and the red fabric can be wrapped to become a Redcoat.  When I mention the use of the bucket the kiddos start frothing at the mouth so I often have to hold off on costumes until plays and videos are written and rehearsed.  Once they get their hands on it, though, they become giggly little kids again and that makes me happy.  Middle school kids should be excited about pretend play.  It means they are still kids.  Get yourself a bucket a bucket of fabric and watch your students become creative!!!

Google Earth, Maps, and most importantly CARDBOARD!!!!

Friday, December 4, 2015 5 comments

Get your students super psyched about by integrating Google Earth, Google Apps, and Google Cardboard Virtual Reality! #googleearth #googlemaps #googlecardboard #virtualreality #middleschool #geography

Okay, so when I get a thought in my head I am all in and it becomes a passion.  This week my passion was immersive geography.  In our Language Arts classes we are reading a fabulous book called The Years of Zero by Seng Ty.

It is a wonderful story about life in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge and was written by a guidance counselor in my district.  About 20% of the students in my district are Cambodian so this book is an important memoir for us.  Many of the parents, of my students, grew up in refugee camps in Thailand so the families never go back to Cambodia.
I wanted them to see the natural beauty of that country so first I created a Google Earth field trip.  I then decided that I was going to test the field on ancient Mesopotamia since we were launching that unit in class.  It was wonderful!  I used Google Earth, Google Maps and Google Cardboard to tour Iraq.  As students were on their field trip they had to take notes on what their senses might experience.  The culmination was creating a sensory poem.

They love it all but the definitely love Google Cardboard the most!

We went to the Grand Bazaar in Turkey, Baghdad, the Tigris River, and then we threw in the Eiffel Tower, Great Barrier Reef, and Macchu Pichu because they are AMAZING in Google Cardboard.
If you haven't used Google Cardboard yet, it is a game changer!  All you need is a smartphone, one of these...

and some fabulous apps like Cardboard and Google Street View.  The box allows your students to feel like they are immersed in the environment!  My kiddos loved it sooooooo much they now have a list of places we need to "visit".

If you are interested in the above field trip, click here for the resources!  I will also put them on my Freebie page.

If you would like to explore the use of Google Earth and Maps in your classroom, consider hopping over to Teachers Pay Teachers and check out these products!

Free!!! Ancient Rome Google Earth Task Cards and Activities

Google Earth Task Cards and Passport Activity

Africa: Physical Features and Biomes Activity

Thankful for Vocabulary

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 3 comments
Support all students and scaffold for English Language Learners with this free American History and Ancient History Vocabulary Activities. They are based on the Seven Steps of Vocabulary Acquisition. #ell #vocabulary #americanhistory #ancienthistory #socialstudies #middleschool
Hello all and Happy Thanksgiving! As a show of thanks to all my readers and customers I am sharing:)  Last year I wrote this post about teaching vocabulary to my ELL students. Now I'm sharing all my lessons for both ancient and American history.  Here is an example:

I've also included a link to the Quizlet I created to go with the vocabulary.  In Quizlet you can make differentiated quizzes for assessment by choosing the "test" option.  You will need access to Google Drive to access these.  Enjoy!

Ancient History

Early Man Vocab - Quizlet

Mesopotamia Vocab 1 - Quizlet
Mesopotamia Vocab 2 - Quizlet
Mesopotamia Vocab 3 - Quizlet

Egypt Vocab 1 - Quizlet
Egypt Vocab 2 - Quizlet

Greek Vocab 1 - Quizlet
Greek Vocab 2 - Quizlet

Rome Vocab 1 - Quizlet
Rome Vocab 2 - Quizlet

American History

Steps to the Revolution 1 - Quizlet
Steps to the Revolution 2 - Quizlet
Steps to the Revolution Vocab  3- Quizlet

Government Vocab 1- Quizlet
Government Vocab 2 - Quizlet
Government Vocab 3 - Quizlet

Manifest Destiny Vocab - Quizlet

Industrial Revolution Vocab - Quizlet
The South Vocab - Quizlet

I am thankful for all of you!

Sunday, November 22, 2015 No comments
I am so thankful for all of my followers and customers! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving week and take this small gift of 20% off my store from today till Black Friday. Spend some time with your family, eat too much, and relax too much! Click here to go to my store:)

4Cs video for my first ever MOOC!!

Saturday, October 10, 2015 1 comment
I am taking this great MOOC for Coaching Digital Learning from  THE PLACE @ FRIDAY INSTITUTE.
I had to make a video to get other teachers interested in trying to implement the 4Cs (creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking) into their classrooms.  Here it is:

Back to School!!!!

Friday, October 9, 2015 1 comment
Take a risk and try flexible seating and student led activities in your middle school classroom. #middleschool #flexibleseating #learnlap #yogaballs

I looked at my blog the other day and couldn't believe that I haven't updated since July!  The start to the year has been fabulous!  My seventh graders are adorable and witty.  They make me laugh every day.  My eighth grade is a wonderful group to loop with.  We are already having so much fun.  So, how did I start my year?

#1  Yoga Balls!!!
I have been doing tons of research on sensory integration lately and realized that although I make room for movement breaks and try to plan hands on lessons, some of my kiddos need more.  We tried a couple of yoga balls in the class and the next thing I know EVERY one of my kids wants to sit on one.  I did a GoFund me and through the generosity of my amazing family, was able to buy a classroom set of balls and an air pump.  I bought them at 5 Below for 5 bucks and the kids and I couldn't be happier!

I got a new couch too.  I'm becoming quite the lounge!

#2 Over the summer I read this amazing book called learn Like a Pirate.  It was written by an amazing educator named Paul Solarz about his journey to create a student led classroom.  I'm going to slowly start to implement some of his ideas this year and I started with this fabulous team activity that I read about at Runde's Room. They looooove it and it really set us up to talk about working as a team where I am the coach.

#3 It is primary season baby!!!
I am an election enthusiast, nerd, and connoisseur! I created this fun primary board that we use for Do Nows and to spark amazing conversations.  I love that the whole school likes to stop by and talk with the kids about the race!  if you are interested, you can find it here at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Lastly, I'm gearing up for some amazing green screen videos and finally invested in some longer lasting fabric!

The kids can't wait to get out  our video studio up and running!!!

Back to School.... in 4 weeks!

Friday, July 31, 2015 No comments
So I'm taking a break from readying my store for the big Teachers Pay Teachers sale on August 3rd and 4th.

I just wanted to remind all of you fabulous followers that there are so many ways to connect with me!
I'm new to Periscope and Instagram so bear with me!  My facebook page is very active and I am an AVID (or rabid!) Twitter user.
For those of you that follow my teachers Pay teachers Store, I have a bunch of new products that differentiate for all learners in the middle school social studies classroom.  Head on over and take a look!!!

I'm Getting STEMmy: Building Aqueducts

Thursday, July 2, 2015 1 comment

At the end of the year I decided to build my entire Rome unit as a huge challenge (I'll blog on that later!).  I tried to come up with different tasks that would engage the kids and teach them about Rome all the while trying to push through the end of the year AND 8 snow days to make up.
We did a brief but thorough study on aqueducts and I racked my head for a week on how I could create an aqueduct building challenge.  I found some great ones on the internet but most of them included water (I love my 7th graders but I don't trust them with any liquids) or they required some very expensive supplies.  I finally came up with this simple but really fun challenge as I was driving to pick up my little one from daycare.

3 pieces of posterboard
roll of masking tape
access to as many books and boxes the classroom had to offer
1 ping pong ball
1 dessert plate

I'm kind of lucky because my classroom is an old chorus room.  I already had the height built in but I'm sure you can replicate this in your own rooms.  Each group had to have their ping pong ball travel from a desk on top of the steps (their reservoir) and down their aqueduct.  At the bottom I had taped dessert plates to the ground (Rome).  The challenge was to create a full ramp that would gently lay the ping pong ball onto the dessert plate without bouncing out.  The dessert plate was Rome and if the ball bounced out, it meant the water was flowing too fast.

My students ADORED this absolutely simple challenge.  We did it during one class period but they begged me to let the do it another day so they could capitalize on what they had found out.  Both my science teacher and my principal loved that I had incorporated a STEM activity into my ancient history class.  After we completed the task, we got together and had a think tank on why we did this activity and the kids totally understand the engineering marvel the aqueducts were in a time of so little technology and schooling.
I can't wait to do this again!!!

Hands on Industrial Museum: Part 2

Have your Students create interactive Industrial Revolution museum exhibits in your middle school social studies class. #middleschool #industrialrevolution #activities #socialstudies

Our first annual Industrial Revolution Museum was an AMAZING success. If you haven't read about it and checked out the plans click here and catch up!

We cleared out the room and organized it to look like a convention center or a museum.  The fifth and sixth grade came in waves and engaged with the "installations" by completing a scavenger hunt that my students had created for them.  The best thing that I happened, that I really hadn't planned for, was the amazing sense of pride my 8th graders felt about sharing their knowledge.  They became amazing experts and really wanted to share their expertise with their visitors.  Although, I have to tweak it for next year (the creation of the project was sooooooo long) I will definitely do it again!

The best part, though, about studying the industrial Revolution, is that we live smack dab in the middle of its history.  Shortly after our museum, my kiddos and I got to spend the day weaving away at the Lowell Mills.


My favorite thing about this whole unit is how the children were able to submerse themselves into a topic that is sometimes hard to personalize.  Yeah for hands on learning!!!