Sunday, July 20, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: High School Level Interventions

There is so much focus on teaching students the basics at the elementary level.  Sadly, there are so many high school students who have missed some of the basics.  Here are some of the common misunderstandings that I've seen high school students repeatedly struggle with, along with some intervention resources.

#1: Fractions...So many students who struggle with math are not able to visualize or conceptualize what it means that there are wholes and parts of a whole.  Therefore, being able to use fractions--or decimals and percents--to manipulate and calculate is a struggle.  Here are a few resources that I've seen used that do not appear babyish to high schoolers...

#2: Comprehending nonfiction....One of the skills that students struggle with is pulling the main idea and details out of nonfiction texts.  Unlike fiction, struggling readers often do not realize that nonfiction texts use a variety of structures (spatial, compare & contrast, cause & effect, etc.).  If they did, they would become more strategic readers and successful at comprehension.  Here are a few resources I've used...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fun Art Sub Lesson!

If you are looking for a fun art project that is ready to use for a sub, this lesson is perfect! Students will have fun designing and promoting a t-shirt during this lesson that is designed with a real world purpose.

Everything you need is included such as:
- Teacher/sub tip sheet
- T-Shirt design instruction sheet for students
- Brainstorming and thumbnail sketch sheet for students
- Final t-shirt design drawing page
- Promotion writing page

This is a lesson I have left for a sub before in my own classroom and had success with so I hope this means it will work for you as well! If you're interested in this lesson, check it out on my TPT store.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Fabulous Freebies for Teachers by Mail!

Here is another edition of Fabulous Freebies by Mail! Nothing is a better pick me up than seeing my mailbox full of free stuff. I thought it was time to find out how to get more freebies for teachers. If you missed this series of posts last year, check them out here. You can still get most of the freebies sent to you easily.

1. Free Ayn Rand Books

If you plan to teach any Ayn Rand books this year, check out this site to get free Ayn Rand books, teacher guides and lesson plans. They are now taking orders for the 2014-2015 school year!

2. Free Anatomy and Physiology Eyeball Bookmarks

Available to teachers of anatomy and physiology are these fun eyeball bookmarks! They are sent in packs of 50 and would make a fun giveaway to your students or perfect for marking pages in your science book.

3. Free Set of 6" Wooden Rulers

Get a set of free 6" wooden rulers from this site. The form is easy to fill out and submit. Rulers are a tool that I've found wear out quickly and break so it's always great to have new ones!

4. Free Trees

If you have an outdoor area near your school or would like to plant trees, the National Wildlife Federation will send you free native trees to plant in your neighborhood. Check out the guidelines and more here. Applications must be received by September 21st.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My Five Favorite Authors on Teaching Reading

The school year is so busy, that it is difficult to find time to get to all those back-burner items on your to-do list.  You know what I'm talking about....all those things you tell yourself you'll get to next week and never do.  One of those for me is getting through my teacher reading list.  If you have one, great.  If  you'd like to create one, but don't know where to start, here are my top five suggestions for authors to read that address some of today's most pressing educational challenges...

1. Ralph Fletcher has written a number of books on how to run writer's workshops, engage your male writers and how to make writing matter to students.

2. Alfred Tatum has written extensively about how to teach so African American males are successful in classes that teach literacy.

3. Jawanza Kunjufu has written over 30 books on the education of African Americans.

4. Jeffrey Wilhelm has researched and written extensively about how to educate struggling readers.

5. Richard Allington has looked at Response to Intervention and writes about what he believes must really be done to help close achievement gaps.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fabulous Freebies for Common Core Reading Standards

Common core is the educational buzz phrase.  Now that summer is here, I'm posting some fabulous freebies that correlate with the reading standards: reading (I'm combining reading literature and informational texts into one), writing, speaking and language.  These can be used by parents out there looking for activities or teachers looking for something to send along to parents of former and/or new students.  Or, it can just get tucked away in a folder to be pulled out at a later date.  But, without further ado, here they are....

#1-Reading: Check out this reading contract and log.  It is simple and attractive.  It is a great resource to use with parents and students because it provides an explanation of the importance of reading, a contract that lays out the logistics and a log to track their reading.  There are several ways it can be used:

a) Send it home to be used by your students over the summer.
b) Keep for next year.  (You are probably already on summer mode and not thinking about work.)
c) Start a summer reading club.  This can even be a neighborhood thing or a once-a-week get together at school to promote reading.  There are a number of free reading incentive programs that promote summer reading.  Check out one of our previous blogs about free summer reading programs.

#2-Language: Check out this antonyms puzzle.  It is a fun way to go over summer vocabulary and opposites.  Once kids/students have put it together, they can create their own puzzle using more difficult vocabulary, synonyms, word analogies, etc.

#3-Writing: This is essentially summer stationary.  It can be used several ways.  Here are a few ideas:

a) Have kids use it to write about your family vacations.  They can add some color and you can put it in a scrapbook.
b) Visiting the grandparents in another state this summer?  Have the kids write about the visit and send it in the thank you note.
c) Have your kids write to summer pen pals using the stationary.

#4-Listening & Speaking: This is a simple question and answer activity with summer vocabulary.  It practices the 5 W questions.  Going through it orally helps students with their listening skills.  It can be made more fun if played as a game.  Take out the oral piece and it can become memory.  Just cut the cards apart, place them face down and match the picture and corresponding question.  Keep the oral piece and it can be a version of go fish where students draw rectangular cards that are made up of the picture and question.  When it is their turn they have to ask the question to see if one of the other players has the item.  This is great for early elementary, but the idea can be adapted and used with more difficult vocabulary.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Extra Summer Money for Teachers

This article is from 2012 but I've updated and added some new suggestions since everyone can always use more money!

1. Sell your teaching ideas & lesson plans online.

Although it might show I am a little behind the times, this is something I had never even realized was done or even thought about doing until this school year. However, it's been the most natural way for me to try to earn extra money over the summer. Sites like Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook let you sell your lesson plans, worksheets, PowerPoint presentations and more online. Teachers Pay Teachers even allows you to sign up for a free account and Teachers Notebook lifetime seller's fee is only $20 so it is a cheap business to start.

I have found that I had to make some changes to some of my favorite lessons to make them work for others and I added some extra details, but thinking about different ways to teach things has made me a better teacher. The feedback from other teachers is also a big benefit. Last year I was looking all over online for an art game to play with my students. Now, instead of looking all over I knew I had the skills and abilities to make it and share it with others.

2. Work at a convention or other temporary summer job.

One summer I earned extra money working at a few conventions that were in town. That worked for me since the Chicago area is large and has many conventions throughout the year. I found out about the convention work through an ad on Craigslist. The company was very understanding and nice and asked me to contact them the next summer if I was interested in work again.

3. Start a class.

Now you may want a break from teaching since that is what we do the rest of the year, but you may enjoy teaching something different. Most park districts offer a variety of summer classes and I have found that if you call in advance with a new class topic, they are very open to new summer offerings. This would be a fun opportunity to teach something you don't normally get to teach such as garden tips or crafts and might refresh you. The park district near my house said that all I need to do was come up with a topic and they would be excited to add it to the curriculum.

4. Tutor kids.

Tutor companies are always looking for teachers to help students during the summer or you could even start your own tutoring business. Tutor Nation is a great place to register as a tutor and advertise your services. Here is a good article about starting your own tutoring business with a lot of tips and things to think about.

5. Do Some Sitting

Pet or house sitting during the summer is a great way to earn extra money and still have plenty of time left to do other things. Pet MD has an article about starting up a pet sitting or dog walking service.

6. Work on Your Hobby

If you have a hobby or craft that you enjoy, developing some items that you can sell on a site like Etsy is a great way to spend your time. If you enjoy photography, this would also work as a great way to earn money while having fun.

7. "Earn" money by becoming a super saver over the summer.

This is not exactly a way to earn extra cash during the summer, but it is a great way to find yourself with more money during the summer and during the rest of the school year.  The summer is a great time to start yourself on a budget if you are not already on one, look through all those bills and see if there are any you can eliminate or switch to different companies to save money.

The biggest way I have "earned" money over the summer after starting it one year was couponing. I am not an extreme couponer like on TV but I learned the basics and couponing is something I can continue during the school year, although I am much more laid back about it. I follow Hip2Save's blog to find the best coupon deals and sales.

Are there any creative ways you earn money over the summer? Please share your tips and tricks in the comments below.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Fabulous Freebies: Free Job Seeking Resources

Many times throughout my teaching career I have had to look for a new teaching job. Since I needed a job at the time I didn't have a lot of extra money to spend on resume services. Here are some free resources for job seekers to help you update your teaching resume and work on your interview skills.

A+ Resumes for Teachers

I looked through the sample cover letters and resumes on their site and was intrigued by the unique organization and layout. I adapted a similar layout to my own resume and rewrote my accomplishments using better verbs after seeing the examples. I got a lot more interviews after doing this! The samples are free to look at and they have one for just about every type of position so you can see ones that are relevant to you. You can also pay for their services which I'm sure are great but I didn't have the money and was able to adapt the idea to my own resume quite easily.

List of Action Verbs

This link takes you directly to a PDF with action verbs that are great for resumes. I like that they are divided by meaning so it makes it easier to find what you are looking for. Everyone needs action verbs in their resume and it can be tough to think of unique, powerful ones sometimes.

88 Teacher Interview Questions

This is a very comprehensive list of 88 teacher interview questions from Teacher Catapult. It is very comprehensive and divided by question type. There aren't ideal answers listed but in my opinion I think it's best to come up with your own best answer. Before my interviews I did go over questions and think about how I would answer them and you could always practice with a friend as well. Some people are naturally good during interviews but I know practice helped me.

Do you have a good free site for resume or interview help for teachers? Let me know below!

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