Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Descriptive Poetry & Tissue Painting: 5-Sense Your Poetry Lessons!

April is Poetry Month and I'm celebrating with the release of one of my all-time favorite lessons...

Descriptive Poetry and Tissue Painting:

Techniques to Inspire Young Writers & Artists!

Simply put...I love these lessons! Having used these poetry techniques with students in grades 3-8, I am confident that you will also experience immense success!

In the lessons, you will introduce students to a 5-sense method for gathering information about a topic. After learning the technique, they can use it to write additional poetry or transfer the knowledge to other kinds of descriptive writing. (In the examples shown here, we used it in a state study, writing descriptive poems about places in our state.) Don't be surprised if it inspires new urges to write!

After her kids learned the 5-sense technique in one of my classes, a mom shared how they extended learning. On a cold, frosty day, the kids dressed in their snowsuits and trekked down to the river with Mom. With 5-sense flaps in hand, they sat and collected sensory words and phrases about their surroundings. Since temps hovered near freezing, she'd only planned to stay for a short time, but the kids wanted to stay, writing in their flapbooks for 90 minutes. On the way home the kids talked about doing a Writer's Conference together, adding, "You and Dad can do it with us if you want to."

Lessons include:
  • detailed poetry & art teaching notes, ideal for both classroom and homeschool settings
  • photos and examples of student poetry and artwork
  • handouts: 5-sense poetry flaps, poetry toolbox minibook, assignment sheet, Writer's Conference Record Sheet, Author's Self-Conference/Editing Checklist
  • related book suggestions

Time Frame: the series of lessons can be completed in 5-7 days, working ~1hour each day. (more time with a large class, less time with an individual or small group)

Lessons are available through: 

Teachers Pay Teachers

Teachers Notebook

Celebrate Poetry!

P.S. A big thank you to all my students whose hard work is featured here! If you (or your parents) see a photo of your poem/art, drop me an email and I'll send you a copy of the lessons! :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Math Monday Blog Hop #92 (March 25, 2013)

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Homeschoolers & the Common Core State Standards

I might seriously regret this post. If it suddenly disappears, you'll know that  I'm a scaredy cat
I tend to avoid controversy.

Over the past few weeks, I've encountered a series of comments (blogs, facebook, the web world) in which some homeschoolers criticize publishers (homeschool) who are updating their materials to reflect the new Common Core State Standards (aka CCSS).

I sorta don't get it.

Let me clearly state that this has nothing to do with my feelings about CCSS. That's another post. Which I won't write. (See I'm a scaredy cat.) 

It does have to do with my reflections as a homeschool mom. And yes, as an educator. But primarily as a homeschool mom to my kids. For the record, I have 5 kids. The kids' total experience in both worlds:

Cumulative years in homeschool: 18
Cumulative years in public school: 27 (higher because one child went entirely to public school...otherwise, it's pretty balanced for the other kids)

During that time, I have also taught classes in BOTH homeschool and public school. You might say that makes me just dumb enough to open my big mouth qualifies me to speak.

As a homeschooler, I feel a responsibility to have at least some sense of what my children's peers are studying, and what is considered above/below/on target. I'm not going to get all freaky about it. But when I walk into a homeschool store as I did this summer, and hear a parent ask the resident expert about how the CCSS will affect homeschoolers, I expect the expert to at least know what the CCSS is. (And in the conversation I overheard, the homeschool rep had NO. CLUE.)

Why do I want to keep abreast of the CCSS as a homeschooler? For our family, the following comes to mind:
  1. My children may not always be homeschooled. Circumstances can change things in a heartbeat. If your children are public schooled and you are reading this, also note that it could happen in the reverse for you. I used to say I'd never homeschool. (#beforeIhadkids)  I changed my mind because of a given set of circumstances. I now know many homeschoolers & public schoolers who've suddenly had to consider the opposite for a myriad of reasons: health, economics, job status, etc...  And again, it could go either way.
  2. My children will eventually meet up with their peers. Be it in middle school, high school, college, or the job market, they will eventually meet their peers. Even if I don't follow the same exact content plan, I do want to know what it is and whether they are ahead/behind/on target.
  3. My kids do have to take a standardized test. Over time, I'm guessing that all standardized tests will have to move toward CCSS content for financial reasons. (Since 45 states and D.C. have adopted it, I doubt that the market outside that group will be viable.) While testing is never a big personal motivator for what I teach, I think it's unfair to my kids for me to not have some idea of what's coming.

But back to the CCSS and publishers...

It seems unfair to criticize homeschool publishers for being responsible. Any publisher who keeps up knows that the CCSS is here. If they know that over time, homeschool students are likely to be held to those standards in testing, they are leaving themselves pretty vulnerable to not cover that content. It's also important to note that the assessments coming down the pipe are going to be different than what most of us are used to in standardized testing--rote thinking and fill-in-the-bubble. Apparently, kids will actually have to think.

If publishers don't cover CCSS, there is a decent chance that the students they serve will do poorly in comparison to their peers...and eventually, their business will end.

Be kind. I scare easily. ;)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Don't miss the Number Rack! (Rekenrek)

Do you use the Number Rack or rekenrek with your students? This is one of the greatest math learning tools EVER! Watch this video and see the power... ;)

At The Math Learning Center you can access a free virtual Number Rack--use a free online app or download a free app for your iPad/iTouch/iPhone. Here's one way that I've been using it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Zero the Hero Giveaway! ...and a note from the author

After reviewing Zero the Hero, I asked the author, Joan Holub, to share how she came to write the book. She writes,
"Zero the Hero grew out of a visit I made to a classroom. The teacher was using the concept of zero as a hero to teach place-holding to her students. In other words, Zero is a hero because he enables us to count beyond the number nine. Without him, we'd be like the ancient Romans, unable to do much in the way of math operations.

I visualized Zero as an underdog math superhero, complete with cape. It took me years to actually finish writing this book about him. Lucky thing, because the timing was perfect. The manuscript hit my editor's desk just as she was working with a wonderful, bestselling artist named Tom Lichtenheld, who agreed to illustrate it.

The story teaches place-holding and arithmetic operations like addition and subtraction. It touches on stuff like rounding up and down, even and odd numbers--and the fact that the number eight looks like a snowman. But that's all secondary. Mainly, I just hope it's fun to read."
Joan has graciously offered to send one lucky winner a copy of Zero the Hero. Enter below. And pat yourself on the back for being a hero to your students!

Contest closed. Thank you for participating!

Winner is Cindy from Iowa. Her book is on the way!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 18, 2013

Math Monday Blog Hop #91 (March 18, 2013)

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book Review: Zero the Hero

The timing couldn't have been more perfect. It was zero hour for kinder math class recess. (Just wrapping up our math session!) The mail arrived with a copy of Zero the Hero. I called my kiddos back to gather around for a reading before they left. My mail boy, a 4th grader, sat nearby working on an iPad. I plunged in to read. One of my kinders started laughing at the story. An infectious laugh. This little guy regularly runs around, pretending to be a superhero saying, "I'm Super Sammy 2.0!" He LOVES a story with a superhero as a main character. Meanwhile, my 4th grader started smirking and began looking less interested in the iApp he was using. He chuckled. Then laughed. Then edged closer to enjoy the book. And no wonder...

Zero the Hero makes me want to leap from a tall building crying, "Super Cindy 2.0!" It's a tale of Zero, who truly feels like nothing. He doesn't get included in counting. When added or subtracted from another number, nothing happens. Numbers refuse to be divided by him. And when he multiplies a number, terrible things happen.

So Zero rolls away.

But when Roman Numerals come to town, the other numbers are in trouble. Zero must return and unleash his powers in order to save the counting numbers.

I feel like this book packed a lot of punch. In addition to the tale of Zero's redemption, there are many teachable math moments:
  • what happens when you add zero to a number?
  • what happens when you subtract zero from a number?
  • divide zero?
  • multiply zero?
  • and what are Roman Numerals anyway...and why don't they know about Zero?
My kinders definitely didn't get all the mathematical content, but they laughed and laughed over the storyline. My 4th grader couldn't resist all the word play scattered throughout the book. ("You were ONEderful! 4 He's a jolly good fellow! High 5! 3 Cheers!") And personally? I was intrigued by the endless mathematical teaching possibilities.

Bottom line? There is ZERO chance that you won't enjoy this book. :)

Check back in for an upcoming giveaway of Zero the Hero from the author, Joan Holub! And visit her website for related Zero the Hero fun!

P.S. Just checked Amazon and noticed that this book is on a phenomenal sale at the moment.

Disclosure: I received a review copy with no promise of a positive review...or a promise of any review at all, for that matter! :) Any purchases made through the Amazon link will result in a small commission (at no cost to you) which will be given to Grace and Hope, providing foster care for children in China. Thanks!

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Cup Runneth Over...or How Do I Catch All That WATER!??

I am the only one?

I feel pulled in a million directions at once.

I value every single person...every single project...on my list and am having a hard time getting it all done.

Like what, you ask?

Got a kid graduating. Don't want to miss a minute of her last year at home.

A HUGE series of consulting jobs on my "real job" plate. (And the squeaky wheel that pays money does get more grease.)

Another kid finishing basketball who wants Mom there to cheer him on. With two kids in basketball this winter, I've been to a lot of games!

Recently finished lesson plans that are SO. GREAT. and need to be written up to share.

Another kid, in kindergarten half the day; the other half of the day I always know where he is because I follow the path of projects he makes All. Day. Long. When my sister was here on Saturday we played one game. By the end of the game, boxes and other recycled items were taped into assorted stacks around the table; you could see where my son had been by looking at the trail.  If he was added to the picture above, you wouldn't be able to see me at the desk because his recycled projects would cover every available surface. (All this to say that my house is ALWAYS in a severe state of clutter...and 9/10ths of it comes from one very busy little body!)

I want to write my blog.

Shoot, I want to write anything.

Although I love the posts on PBH for Grown-ups, I feel like I have the opposite problem from this:
“Whatever it is you want to do, you need to stop pacing back and forth on the diving board and just jump in the damn water. Getting wet is going to teach you a lot more than all the thinking you’re doing on dry land.” (from PBH for Grown-ups)
I am immensely grateful for endless interests. For many people around to love. For work that not only pays me but inspires me. My cup truly runneth over.

But sometimes I just feel overwhelmed while trying to catch all that beautiful water. Beautiful, inspirational, loving, life-giving water.

Not complaining. Just vocalizing in case anyone else feels the same way.

Back to the fountain...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Math Monday Blog Hop #90 (March 11, 2013)

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Math Monday Blog Hop #89 (March 4, 2013)

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

How to Make Teacher Docs #2: Add Frame

If you want to know how to add one of these:

...to a Word Doc on a Mac, I'd be happy to show you! Here's the second video in the series on "How to Make Teacher Docs!"

If you missed #1 in the series, see How to Make Teacher Docs: Backgrounds.

Graphics credit: MyCuteGraphics

Friday, March 1, 2013

Giveaway: 101 Ways to Make Book Reports FUN!

Announcing...a giveaway for a copy of 101 Ways to Make Book Reports FUN! Enter the giveaway via the Teachers Notebook link below.

Enjoy and good luck!

P.S. Post #2 in the series on Creating Teacher Docs is almost ready. Are there things you'd like to learn about creating your own documents? Leave me a comment and I'll see what I can do.

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