Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Ben Franklin

I don't know about y'all, but I am TIRED.  It's October...grades are due, parent conferences are in full swing, lesson plans and copies and grading are never-ending, performances are looming, PLC's are changing, it's RED RIBBON WEEK, and the kids are fired up about pajama day.  And I am JUST. DOG. TIRED.

Speaking of lesson plans...  I've been thinking about creating a unit on Ben Franklin since last year.  A lot of what I found out there was great for the primary kiddos, but not age-appropriate for my 5th graders.  I knew I wanted my mini-unit to integrate reading and writing, but I also wanted a cute craftivity that was a bit more complex.  And here it is!

Click to score your FREE copy of the unit - for 24 hours only!
  My kids absolutely LOVED IT!  When I first moved to 5th grade (5 years ago!), I worried that the kids would be too old to be cutesy.  Not so!  They love incorporating art like this Ben Franklin kite-and-key comprehension craft.  And I love it because I'm able to teach informational text with the mini-unit, and cover multiple standards with just one lesson!  SCORE!

Finished product - It looks super cute hanging above students' desks!
I love that this activity has two options for the reading passage.  I included materials and instructions for making a cute flip book that has the passage broken up into sections.  It's perfect for struggling readers who need to chunk passages for comprehension.  I also included a suggestion for printing the flip book on colored paper that coordinated with the colored paper you choose for the kite so that kids can easily see which section of the flip book they must turn to in order to complete that side of the kite.  Alternately, there is a print-and-go version of the passage, just in case you are pressed for time and/or your copy code is hitting its limit!

Color-coded flipbook to help struggling readers chunk information
I made sure that my kiddos completed the graphic organizer BEFORE they were able to begin the craft.  It really helped them organize their thoughts so their responses on the kite were well-thought-out and included text evidence.  I also hung the posters around the room for a cute visual, and to aid my kiddos with comprehension.

Graphic Organizer

We will continue to talk about Ben Franklin as we begin our unit in Social Studies on the American Revolution.  This was the perfect introduction, as it created and connected prior knowledge with new information, and set us up to begin talking about the Revolutionary War, and Ben Franklin's role is establishing our country.  Have I ever mentioned that I'm a history nerd???  Get your FREE copy of Ben's mini-unit for 24 hours only!  Click HERE to get to my TPT store and download it ASAP!

Have a great October, y'all!  Try to get some rest.  Blessed be, the holidays are right around the corner!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Celebrate Freedom Week

Okay, y'all.  We are two weeks in, and there's a light at the end of the first-days-of-school tunnel.  Those first few weeks are always so chaotic!  I feel like I'm putting out fires more than anything else!   From trying to get passwords and usernames to gas shortages to long-lost math programs to chauffeuring my children all over creation for football, swim, choir, auditions...  It's EXHAUSTING.  But we're starting to find our rhythm, and I sure am grateful, because I'm kind of already over September.

Next week is Celebrate Freedom week, and I also kind of love US history and talking to my students about our country and the sacrifices that have been made for them and for me.  A couple of years ago, my own children were wanting details about 9/11.  I'm not really the kind of parent who sugarcoats the truth, so I really had to think long and hard about what I wanted them to know.  I ended up telling them the truth, and showing them images from that day.  The effect was profound.  They didn't get scared or have nightmares.  What they got was a thoughtful compassion that can only be found in knowing the truth behind the tragedy.

I haven't shown my kiddos this film, yet, but I plan to someday when they are a bit older.  I watched it shortly after 9/11.  Two French filmmakers were making a documentary about the life of a NY firefighter.  They just happened to be shooting on 9/11.  Without knowing it, they were about to make history.  This documentary is the real deal - if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

In my classroom, I try to stay true to the facts, as well, while understanding that not all parents share my philosophy.  So I'm very careful to stick to the facts and keep the images G-rated.  I'm a very passionate teacher, so sometimes it's hard for me to temper my emotions, and maybe (just maybe) I've shed a few tears in front of my students.  But I think that's okay.  We are models, and if I'm modeling compassion through my tears, then I'm pretty sure I've done my job, and then some.

For Celebrate Freedom Week, I created a guide of materials to engage my students in learning about the foundation of our country, its charters, and the freedoms we enjoy as its citizens.  There are booklets and flap books, posters, and a super cute Freedom Cube that the kiddos make to show what they learned.  In honor of our country's freedoms, I'd like to invite you to download a free copy of this guide to use next week with your kiddos, and I hope that you will share with them your passion and your compassion for all those who sacrifice for our country.

Click here to get your free download!


Friday, August 18, 2017

Teaching a Growth Mindset

The countdown is on!  A week of teacher inservice, and then my classroom will be filled with 21 bright and shining faces, ready to learn every single thing I have in my bag of tricks.  The thought of those faces is what is going to get me through a week of meetings, staff development, more meetings, online training, even more meetings, convocation, and still more meetings. UUUUGGGHHHHH...

And also...  I get SO excited when I'm able to add a new resource to my bag of tricks!  I've been working on a couple of the things this last week that I plan on using WEEK ONE (gulp).  My fingers have been flying across my keyboard with excitement (and maybe a little anxiety) as I try to get all my ideas onto my screen.  Maybe my kids have been living on frozen waffles and Lunchables.  Maybe the animals don't get fed 'til the wee hours of the night.  Maybe the dishes keep piling up in the sink.  But it will all be worth it when I'm finished with everything!

I FINALLY finished one of the goodies, and I'm thrilled to get my Growth Mindset Resource & Activity Guide out there!  Sometimes my eyes are bigger than my motivation, and about two weeks ago, I ordered a ton of picture books with the idea of using them to teach my students how to have a growth mindset.  They sat in my teacher bag while I contemplated just how much energy I had left to start this endevour after setting up my classroom.  Turns out it was just enough!
Have I said how much I love Amazon Prime?
I read each one of these books, and MY, OH MY!!! I SIMPLY. CANNOT. WAIT.  I created a ton of activities to teach growth mindset, and then I created another ton of activities and discussion questions to go with each book to reinforce the importance of growth mindset.  My plan is to use all of these resources...just about 15-20 minutes each morning as we establish a routine in those first several weeks.  Crossing my fingers it all works out!

Check out some of the activities included in the guide!  I've even made it FREE for the first 24 hours!  Click on any of the pics to snag your copy!

Best wishes to you all for a fantastic year!