Friday, May 27, 2011

Three Reasons Why: Creative Questions to Ask Kids

Got a few minutes? Play Three Reasons why with your students. It's easy, fun, and encourages students to think flexibly.

Just ask your students one of these questions and see what answers they come up with.
  1. Jacob did his homework, but he did not turn it in. List three possible reasons why.
  2. Karen got invited to a birthday party, but she did not go. List three possible reasons why.
  3. The phone is ringing, but Carlos does not answer it.  List three possible reasons why.
  4. Mark and Kayla go to the amusement park, but they do not ride the roller coaster. List three possible reasons why.
  5. Derek buys a new shirt at the store, but he does not wear it. List three possible reasons why.
  6. Amber has the winning card in the game she is playing with her little brother, but she does not play it. List three possible reasons why.
  7. Sasha brings her umbrella to school even though the sky is clear. List three possible reasons why.
  8. Andrew is very tired, but he stays up until midnight anyway. List three possible reasons why.
  9. Cody has ten new pencils, but he does not sharpen any of them. List three possible reasons why.
  10. Lucy went to a baseball game but she did not watch the game. List three possible reasons why.
You can extend the activity by having your students make up their own questions.




Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sell YOUR Original Teaching Resources on Teachers Pay Teachers

In addition to writing books, writing this blog, and raising a couple of teenagers, I also sell teaching resources on Teacherspayteachers.com. During the schoool year I make about $1,500 a month. That isn't bad, but it is just a drop in the bucket compared to the site's #1 seller, a kindergarten teacher from Georgia. She has made well over $100,000 in just nine months.

I really beleive that TpT is a great way for teachers to make extra money -especially now when so many jobs are being cut and wages are being frozen. But it isn't a matter of just posting your products up on the site. Thousands of products never sell and probably never will. In order to get results you need to package your project well and maybe even do a little marketing. That is why I started SoS on TpT - a blog all about how to effectively sell on TpT.

Summer is a great time to learn the tricks of the trade and build up a product base. So, please stop by and have a look around!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Make a Class Memory Wall

A class Memory Wall is essentially a way to work as a group to remember the highlights of the school year. While individual projects like memory books and end-of-the-year essays are great, the advantage of the Memory Wall is that by working  as a group, you remember more - one person's memory of an event spark's another memory from someone else. It's also great way to bring events to the surface that might otherwise have been forgotten. In addition, it will give you all a feeling of accomplishment  to see just how much you did over the year.
You should be able to make a Memory Wall in about 45 minutes.
You will need:
  • A large space - part of a wall, whiteboard, or bulletin board
  • A large piece of butcher paper to cover the space
  • A lot of sticky notes - ideally large-sized and in multiple bright colors
  • Markers for every student - Sharpies or something similar in multiple dark colors
Prep:

  • Put the butcher paper on the wall
  • Use a marker to divide it into three large sections: Fall, Winter, Spring
  • If possible, have students bring chairs to gather around the wall.
  • Distribute markers and sticky notes
Activity:
Explain that you will be creating a wall of memories using sticky notes. Students can write or draw simple pictures on the notes. Students should only put one idea on each note (a sentence or phrase) and write large and legibly. 

Ask students to think back to Fall - the beginning of school through about Thanksgiving. Have a few students tell you things they remember to spark more memories. Then have students write their ideas on sticky notes. As they write them, they can bring them up to the board and stick them in the "Fall" section, roughly chronologically (so "Thanksgiving Potlatch" should go after "Halloween Parade"). They don't need to be neat and tidy and they can overlap if you have a lot of them. Make sure that students know that if their idea is already up there, they don't have to add it again. You can add your ideas too.
Optional: add photos of some events.
Repeat for Winter and Spring. 
Students will enjoy remembering highlights and sharing them. At this point it is fun to have students share personal stories from the year.  
I would also suggest leaving the wall up for the rest of the year. Take a picture of it before you take it down. If you have included photos, it might make a nice picture to post on your class website, and also something to show to next year's class so they will know what an exciting year they are in for!

Looking for more great uses for Sticky Notes? Check out the Linky Party on Create-Share-Teach

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

20 Would You Rather Questions for Summer!


Here are 20 fun Would You Rather Questions to use for the end of the school year. Use them for class discussions, class polls, and writing prompts. Great when you have a few spare minutes!
 
Get 200 More Would You Rather Questions
  
Would You Rather… 
1 Have to wear your swimsuit to school on the last day of school 
or 
Have to carry around a large beach umbrella (opened) all day on the last day of school. 
2 Be able to issue an official report card grading your teacher on how she did teaching your class this year
or 
Write your own report card 
3 Get to go on a one week vacation anywhere in the world that you want 
or 
Get to go on a month long vacation, but have to stay within 200 miles of your hometown
4 Spend the summer traveling and camping with your family
or 
Spend the summer at a really awesome summer camp with lots of fun activities. 
5 Go to the beach, but forget your towel 
or 
Go to the beach but forget your sunscreen 
6 Get stung by three bees 
or 
Get a really bad sunburn
7 Get to go to Disneyland for a week, but have it rain every day you were there 
or 
Stay home, but have it be beautiful and sunny all week 
8 Have a lemonade stand every day for a month to make extra money
or 
Do yard work for a week to make extra money
9 Get to have as much ice cream as you want this summer, but only vanilla 
or 
Only get to have ice cream only three times this summer, but you can have whatever flavors you want
10 Have to go on a long hike in the woods without any shoes or socks
or 
Have to spend a day at the beach wearing your winter coat
11 Eat only hotdogs, potato chips, watermelon, and ice cream all summer along 
or 
Eat anything you want all summer except hot hotdogs, potato chips, watermelon, and ice cream.  
12 Have a job working as a lifeguard
or 
Have a job working as a carnival ride operator 
13 Get a brand new bicycle
or 
Get a new set of clothes everyday all summer long 
14 Be in an Independence Day Parade
or 
Host an Independence Day party
15 Have the best summer EVER, but then not be able to remember any of it
or 
Have an ordinary summer and be able to remember everything you did 
16 Spend most of your summer at an outdoor community swimming pool 
or 
Spend most of your summer at the beach
17 Have your whole body turn bright blue whenever you get wet
or 
Have your hair turn neon green whenever you are in sunlight 
18 Have an exchange student from another country stay with your family for the summer 
or 
Travel to another country as an exchange student and stay with a family there 
19 Have to repeat the grade you just completed
or 
Be required to skip a grade
20 Get to choose which teacher you will have next year 
or 
Get to choose each of your classmates next year

  
200 More Would You Rather Questions

Monday, May 16, 2011

Contest for Primary Teachers

If you teach grades 1-3, you won't want to miss this easy-to-enter contest sponsored by Shelley Gray. The winners get 14 great teaching resources, including one of mine: Literature Worksheets (Primary).

Improve your Reading Efficiency

Over the weekend I took an Iris Speed Reading course with the hope of learning some techniques for dealing with the huge amount of reading material I deal with every day. In addition to books and articles that I need for researching the books that I write, there are also blog posts, tweets, status updates, message boards, and of course that huge stack of books on (and beside) my nightstand. I am guessing you have similar challenges.

In the class, I learned several great strategies for increasing speed and comprehension. I wouldn't use them on reading I do for pleasure, but they are great for when you need to understand without spending a huge amount of time. One technique we learned was: Overview, Preview, Read. According to the instructor, students who used these on standardized reading comprehension tests did significantly better than those who did not. It is particularly valuable for long pieces that are not overly technical. Here is the gist:

Overview: Read the first and last paragraphs of the article for comprehension (if you are applying this to a chapter in a book, read the whole introduction and the conclusion).

Preview: Read just the bold subheading, captions and anything else that sticks out at you. If there are no subheadings, read the first sentence of each paragraph.

Read: Read the entire article or chapter, but do so at a faster pace than you would normally. You should be able to read faster because you have an overall understanding of what the article is about. The instructor compared it to traveling with a map

Although it may seem like it would take longer, this technique actually saves time and results in greater comprehension. This might also be a good technique to try with your students if you teach middle school or high school. One fun thing to try would be to split your class in half randomly, have one half read in the regular way (start to finish), and have the other half apply Overview, Preview, Read, and then have them all take the same comprehension test. If you do this, I would love it if you would report your results back here!

BTW, I do recommend the class if it is in your city. Check Groupon for a really good deal.


        

Friday, May 13, 2011

Minds in Bloom May Give-Away!

This week Charity Preston (from the Organized Classroom Blog) and I have teamed up to create The Minds in Bloom May Give-Away, which is a super-easy-to-enter contest. Basically, I supplied the freebie and the prizes and she did everything else.

The contest starts with an exclusive free resource which you can download only on The Organized Classroom Blog. The freebie is a sampler of five pages from five of my best selling TpT products.

The prize consists of those same five products in their entirety, all nicely packaged on a CD and sent to your home address. That is over 100 printable pages to use with your students! There will be five winners and they all get the CD!

The five Prize Products are:

Literature Worksheets (22 pages)

Math Enrichment Worksheets (22 pages + answer keys)

25 Grammar/ELA Worksheets (25 pages + answer keys)

15 Scavenger Hunts

200 Would You Rather Questions

To enter the contest, just go to the contest page here. And btw, she has a great blog, so take a look around while you are there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Math Scavenger Hunt

Here is a fun Math Scavenger Hunt to try with your students!


1.    How many zeroes are in one million?

2.    What is an object that is exactly 5 inches long?

3.    How many prime numbers come before 100?

4.    How many nickels are in twenty dollars?

5.    What do all the numbers on a computer keyboard add up to?

6.    What is the circumference of your head?

7.    How many stacked pennies make an inch?

8.    Where is there a right angle in your classroom?

9.    On what date will the 100th day of school fall this year?

10. How many minutes are you in school each day?

11. How tall do you think you will be when you are an adult?

12. How old will you be in the year 2050?

13. Name something that weighs about a pound

14. How long is your classroom?

15.  If you divided the kids in your class into pairs, how many pairs would there be?

16. Can the kids in your class be evenly divided into groups of three?

17. How far can you count by 2s quickly without making a mistake?

18.  How many even numbers are on this page?

19.  Would you rather have $100 or 350 quarters?

20. What is infinity?

Get More Scavenger Hunts
Get More Math Enrichment

Monday, May 9, 2011

Make Science Fun Again



Minds in Bloom is pleased to welcome guest blogger, Amy Brown! Amy is the author of the Science Stuff blog.  Amy has 27 years of teaching experience in high school biology, chemistry, and AP biology.  Her blog is about ways to make your class more engaging and exciting for the students. 
My normal teaching schedule is Advanced Placement (AP) Biology.  This year I am teaching a Biology I class filled with standard students.  Unfortunately, they have not always had the best teachers in the school.  They came to me dreading another year of sitting in a science class.  I came to them dreading having to teach a class that I had not taught in many, many years.  
But..... I love biology and I love to teach!
I quickly discovered that I could make a difference to these kids and that I could get them excited about Biology.  
Bless their hearts, but on the first day they were expecting me to say, "Open your book and copy the vocab.”  “Complete this worksheet.”  “Read pages 6 - 10 and answer the questions at the end of the section."  When I did none of these, they perked up a little!  Instead of saying, "open your book”, I said, "Let's go to the lab!"
Why did science teachers stop making science fun?  Experiments make science come alive for these students!  The simplest thing (like growing a plant) gets the student excited.  In my class we grow plants, we extract DNA from cells, we collect pond water and identify the protists, we see who can roll their tongue and who cannot, we even do a lab with ferns where the students can watch sperm cells swim to an egg cell.  The simplest thing often becomes amazing.  Now my students love science.  When they come to class and I have a lecture prepared, they are content listening to the lecture because they know the next day might contain a fun experiment.
So now we have reached springtime - the time of the year where teachers across the country have only one thing on their mind:  End of course standardized tests!!!
It doesn't matter what state you live in, or by what name they are called, they are the same.  They are standardized tests.  Every teacher feels the pressure.  It seems that nobody cares if you make your class fun and exciting....JUST GET GOOD TEST SCORES!!!   Please teachers, don't fall into the testing trap!  Keep your class fun, engaging, and exciting and the test scores will probably be better than ever!
Find links to FREE products for fun science activities for both middle school and high school, at Science Stuff
You can also follow Science Stuff on TpT by visiting Amy Brown's TeachersPayTeachers Store

Monday, May 2, 2011

Great Teaching Resources at 30% Off for Teacher Appreciation Day!

To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day on Tuesday, TeacherspayTeachers is having a 20% off sale for every single teaching product on the site! I am adding an extra 10% for a total of 30% off any of
my teaching resources. To get the full 30% discount, use code TAD11 When you are checking out.

All the blue links on Minds in Bloom are links to my resources, so if any of them look like something you need, tomorrow (Tuesday) is the day to buy!

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