Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Favorite Books in Just 15 Words

I am a huge fan of Pernille Ripp's blog, where she posts honest reflections about engaging 7th graders in the quest to become well-rounded readers and writers.  She recently posted about this idea that she tried with her students that sounded worth trying with my students.  You can read her post here.

The challenge: 

Students take their favorite book of the year and explain/promote it to the class in 15 words, no more, no less.  And the words have to create complete sentence(s).

I was a little hesitant to try it with my sixth graders, but I thought it could be a fun, thought-provoking way to explore language, requiring them to choose words carefully to convey intent.  I've been pleasantly surprised by the number of students who are working away at this, stimulated by the challenge, sharing their thoughts with friends to get ideas, and asking for my opinion.

How I Introduced It:

Using the book I was reading aloud to them, we brainstormed words to describe it.  Then, we worked on a quick plot structure to remember important elements.  Together, we brainstormed a sentence.  Then I handed out this graphic organizer to help them and set them to work.  You can grab the graphic organizer here.  

Some of their examples:

For Salt to the Sea:
        This adventurous book leads you through harsh cold and drops you onto an overcrowded boat.
        During WWII, a group of secretive people must survive the deadly journey to freedom ships.

For The Rules for Disappearing:

         With romance and suspense, Meg MUST find out why she is trying to be killed.

For Blended:

        Isabella's blended family is more divided than ever; piano playing helps, but is it enough?
       Isabella's family is biracial and she's trying to feel whole but home challenges aren't             helping.

I am so pleased by their hard work and the way they tackled finding just the right words.  I'm excited to see what they come up with when they present these on Friday!  

Have a great week!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Create Custom Rules for Your Students in Schoology

If you use Schoology as a platform at your school, you know that there are many things you can do with it.  In my previous blog post, I showed you how to create custom groups and custom assignments.  You can read about how to create custom groups here and custom assignments here.

Create Custom Rules

One of the best ways to use Schoology to its full potential is to create an assignment for a particular group of students.  When you have students working on multiple assignments at the same time, you can't always check in with each student when they need you to.

To monitor their work, simply create a rule.  To do that, click onto Schoology, go to Options and then click on Student Completion.
You can set whatever standard you want before a student is able to move on.  For example, in the completion rule below, students had a to watch a video and then put the events in order.  In order to move on, they had to earn at least an 80 out of 100.  Scoring less than that allowed them to rewatch the video and retake the "quiz" as many times as they needed. 
Setting it up this way allowed me to work on more complex analysis with students who had questions without having these students wait to meet with me.

As the school year winds down and some of your students are assuming it's already over, using these simple rules is a great way to manage your classroom and keep kids engaged in what they're supposed to be working on.  

Don't forget that today is the last day of the TeachersPayTeachers sale!

Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Final Sale of the Year and a Freebie

TpT's Final Sale of the year starts today!  If you're looking for ways to keep your students working, learning, collaborating, and thinking deeply, look no further than some of my project-based learning products.

Some of my best sellers are listed below, and they're on sale for 25% off until Wednesday night!
Enjoy shopping!

Monday, May 6, 2019

Final Sale of the School Year and a Freebie

Tomorrow starts the last sale of this school year and once again, my products on TeachersPayTeachers are on sale for 20% off.  If you use the code: GIFT4YOU, they'll give you 25% off your purchases.  That's a nice deal!  Don't forget to use the code!  (I do from time to time!)

I also just posted a freebie that I created for my students to help them remember the different types of figurative language.  I call it "SHAMPOO-II."  You can download it as a full page or a quarter-page for your students' interactive notebooks.
I also made posters to go along with them which you can find here.
Favorite book studies are also all on sale! 
Enjoy shopping!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Create Custom Assignments with Schoology

If you use Schoology as a platform at your school, you know that there are many things you can do with it.  In my previous blog post, I showed you how to create custom groups.  You can read about how to do that here.

Create Custom Assignment

One of the best ways to use Schoology to its full potential is to create an assignment for a particular group of students.  When you click onto Schoology, go to Add Materials, and then create an assignment.
 In this example, I created an Assignment, but you can differentiate and have students watch a video, read a linked passage, join a discussion, or take a quiz, etc.

 Click on the three dots in the Options at the bottom.  As soon as you do, you'll see this
Clicking on it allows you to type in the name of your group.  When you do (and hit create), you've assigned something to just those students.

Next week, I'll show you how to ensure that students complete an assignment before they move on to the next one.
Until then, have a great week!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Encouragement for State Testing Freebie!

As much as you might downplay state testing, you probably notice that as you get closer to the date, some of your students seem a little more anxious.

I created these cards to use with my students for random times during the year, but it was a comment someone made when they downloaded these from my TpT store that made me realize how valuable they could be at this stressful time of year.

Click here if you'd like these for your students.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Creating Custom Groups in Schoology

If you use Schoology as a platform at your school, you know that there are many things you can do with it.  It's a great platform for personalized learning, allowing you to differentiate assignments for students in a more discrete way.  That's important in the upper grades where kids like to compare what everyone is doing.

Create Small Groups

One of the best things you can do with this platform is create small groups.  I divide my students into three, and sometimes four groups based on their reading skills; from there, you can customize the assignments you give them.

Your students should already be loaded up on your classroom list, so the first thing you want to do is put them into a group (this is something only you see.)  In your course, click on the Members tab on the left.  (You can see student names and the groups they're in on this picture, because my students are already assigned.  You will only see your student names when you do it.)

Then, click on "Organize members into Grading Groups" on the right.

As soon as you click on that, it asks you to name your group.  Once you've named it, it brings up your class list, and you just put a check mark next to the names of the students you want in that group.

That's it!  Once your students are all assigned, you can start to give them work that's at their good-fit level.  

Next time, I'll show you how to assign tasks for those groups.
Until then, have a great week!