Posts tagged ‘resources’

February 6, 2012

Main Idea Activities

by stryson

I’ve been doing a review in a few of my classes recently, so I’ve been back to touching on Main Idea. In my search for resources, I found that BrainPop has this excellent video. Under “Activities,” they have a few excellent worksheets. I particularly liked the Inverted Pyramid graphic organizer.

This game over at Harcourt Publishers was good, but I was disappointed at how quickly it goes by. I’d love to find a similar game that could allow for more turns at the smart board.

I haven’t used it with my classes yet, but this Main Idea Song is cute. One of my classes is still struggling with details as opposed to main ideas, so I may break it out for them later this week.

If you have any fun suggestions for Main Idea, I’d love to hear them – feel free to share in the comments below.

October 14, 2011

Eisenhower’s Birthday

by stryson

Today is President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s birthday. Eisenhower’s famous for many things, clearly, but one interesting point of note is that he was the earliest candidate to really start advertising via television. The ads are archived and still available online, along with the others from 1952 forward, on The Living Room Candidate. I’m going to show some of Ike’s ads to my classes today; I’ll be interested to see how they react. They look hokey by our standards, but they were groundbreaking for their time.

October 13, 2011

Molly Pitcher

by stryson

Good morning!

It’s Molly Pitcher’s birthday today. I searched Discovery Education Streaming, but the only Molly Pitcher information they had was geared toward older kids. Thus, I went searching elsewhere, and found this brief video. I’ll be starting my classes off with it today. I’m continuing my quest to build their background knowledge through holidays and special events each day, as I mentioned here.

Enjoy your Thursday!

September 28, 2011

Cheering activities on a Rainy Day

by stryson

I’m feeling very beaten up and under the weather today. It’s dark and rainy, and I had a dentist appointment yesterday that has left me with a tender mouth. Additionally, it’s grey and rainy. In short, it was the perfect day to start a funny novel with my kids.

I know I’ve mentioned at least once how much I adore Ken Derby’s Top Ten Ways to Ruin The First Day of School. It’s funny, relateable, and a nice, easy novel for starting the year. I used it with my fifth graders last year, and I’ve just begun introducing it to this year’s batch. It cheered me up to see them laughing at Tony Baloney’s Stupid Human Tricks. Unfortunately, as I’ve gone to write this post, I’ve found that this book is currently out of print, but Ken is working on that situation. See his comments here.

Speaking of things that have brightened the week in my classes, I’ve found a typing game that the kids really love: Dance Mat Typing. One of the girls in my homeroom was literally in tears because she was laughing so hard at the interludes. I liked it because they’re so methodical about presenting the keys in the order a normal typing program would.

Enjoy!

September 22, 2011

Happy Hobbit Day!

by stryson

Happy Hobbit Day!

What better way to start this day than with a ridiculous, nerdy sing-along with Leonard Nimoy?

For those of you not in the know, Hobbit Day is the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins from J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpieces, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In addition to doing age-appropriate readings about hobbits, thanks to edhelper.com, I’ll be using The Hobbit Name Generator for some fun with my kids.

If you’re not in a position to spend the day reading or walking about barefoot, perhaps you can create a hobbit name for yourself and make the effort to eat six meals today. You can’t beat hobbits for lifestyle choices.

September 7, 2011

Book Review: The Ballad of Lucy Whipple

by stryson

The Ballad of Lucy Whipple – Karen Cushman

Recommended for: early middle school

I fell in love with Karen Cushman’s writing as a teenager, when I first came across her novel, Catherine, Called Birdy.  I was slightly disappointed by The Midwife’s Apprentice, but I absolutely adored The Ballad of Lucy Whipple.

Summary:  California Morning “Lucy” Whipple is a twelve year old girl who finds herself in California despite her best intentions and efforts to the contrary.  Following through on an old dream, her mother packed the entire family up and moved them to Lucky Diggins, California, after Lucy’s Pa died.  We follow Lucy’s experiences as she learns to cope with her new living situation, as she pines for her hometown in Massachusetts, and as she grows into a strong young woman.

I love historical fiction, and I was incredibly disappointed by living in California when I moved there, so this book was a natural fit for me. Thankfully, I found it was a good fit for my fifth grade reading class last year, as well.  The kids really got into the Old West setting, and could relate closely with Lucy’s struggles.  Common themes of family and responsibility carry through well.  I used the Novel Unit book for homework questions and some guidance for discussions and vocabulary, and it all went quite well.

You can view the Amazon page for the book here: The Ballad of Lucy Whipple

The Amazon page for the Novel Unit books are here: Teacher’s Guide and Student Packet.

Finally, the other Karen Cushman books I’ve read: Catherine, Called Birdy and The Midwife’s Apprentice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 6, 2011

Welcome Back

by stryson

Happy back-to-school! (I realize some are returning tomorrow, and some have already returned, but today was our first day.)

Also, happy Wear A Dress Tuesday. I was going to take a picture of my cute back-to-school outfit, but then I got poured on. When did New Jersey start having a monsoon season?

I can’t wait to be past all of the beginning of the year hullabaloo and just get into teaching. I’m staring down several weeks of placement testing in my reading classes, and I’m chomping at the bit! At least I can dive right in with my computer classes.

While I’m pulling each child for individual testing, I’m having my younger guys complete these “Getting to Know Me” boxes. They’re cute! I have a couple of other activities lined up for when they finish, including this clothesline project. In addition to being ice breakers and keeping the kids busy, this’ll make my room look festive for Back to School Night.

Anyone have some particularly good back-to-school activities? Please share in the comments.

 

July 31, 2011

Goodreads

by stryson

Have I  explicitly mentioned my love of Goodreads yet on this site? I don’t think I have, though a link to my profile has been sitting at the bottom of the page. In any case, goodreads.com is one of my favorite social networking sites – which is not shocking, since it centers around books. The site’s primary focus is helping you keep track of the books you’ve read, are reading, and want to read. They get classified on “shelves” to that effect. You can create further shelves to keep your books organized and to see statistics based on what you read. For example, I have shelves for young adult & children’s lit, fiction, nonfiction, sci-fi & fantasy, historical fiction, etc. You can place books on multiple  shelves, as well. (For example, a sci-fi book would also fit on the fiction shelf.) I love reading and lists with almost equal fervor, so this site makes me incredibly happy.

In addition to these basic functions, Goodreads provides various toys, quizzes, and other widgets relating to books. There are trivia quizzes about books and authors, lists on  which you can vote (i.e. “The best memoirs of the 20th century,”), areas for you to mark your favorite quotes by authors, polls, and so on.

You’ll notice I mentioned the social-networking nature of the site. Of course, you can add your friends to a list, and you can see the updates they post about their current reads, view their shelves, make comments on their posts, send messages, and so on. Goodreads also has virtual book clubs and other groups. I’m part of one called “50 Books a Year.” This is my second year doing this challenge; the last time I did was 2009. (I succeeded, too! 52 books that year. I’m on 29 now for 2011.)

I’m sure there are other features to the Goodreads site that I have not explored thoroughly, but those are the pieces I use. I’d highly recommend checking it out. It’s not particularly  helpful to me at school, but I wonder if it could be utilized in a high school setting.

If you join the site and would like to see my updates or friend me, the link is here.

I’d like to close with a quote from the list of those I’ve “liked” on Goodreads:

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” — Groucho Marx

July 29, 2011

Synonyms, part 1

by stryson

Uh, oh! There’s ambition in the title – a promise of further synonym posts in the future!

In all seriousness, though, I swung by the school today to pick up a couple of things I needed to do work from home and decided to eat lunch at my computer and do some web-exploring. During the year, I find myself so pressed for time that I don’t always find a broad range of resources…. and then I am disappointed to find them later, when that lesson has passed. Today, I decided to run a search on synonyms and antonyms, and I ended up narrowing my scope just to synonyms for the time being.

I’ve yet to find a good video to go with a synonym/antonym lesson – if anyone can link to a suggested one, please do so in the comments!

I did, however, find some useful games. The first is called Word Frog, and it’s from Arcademic Skill Builders. I like this game for several reasons. First, it’s cute. Secondly, it tracks the player’s progress on a graph. This means that I can check on a student’s progress if they use this game for independent time, and it also means that there’s another chance for a cross-curriculum moment. We can look at these graphs together and discuss briefly what they mean, bringing math into the reading classroom.

I anticipate much excitement about the next game I have to share, at least from my students. Scholastic has a Captain Huggyface synonym game! (For those of you not familiar with Captain Huggyface, he is a character on the PBS Kids show WordGirl.) This game is called Synonym Toast.

Speaking of PBS Kids, they have a game on their site that is also good for practicing synonyms, Synonym Sam’s Lab.

I’m still picking through resources for worksheets & thesaurus resources. I’ll save them for the next post. Until then, have a nice, good, enjoyable, pleasurable, entertaining, amusing time trying out these games.

July 9, 2011

Music Games

by stryson

While looking for educational games, I came across a couple of music games that can be useful.

The first, Musical Notes, tests one’s ability to read notes in sheet music. It’s important to note that they give you only one octave of a keyboard – middle c and the c in the middle of the staff are both played on the same key in this game. Be careful in level 3 – they bring in bass clef!

The second game is TRICKY, and I only recommend it to those with some amount of ear training experience and/or a whole lot of patience. The game is called Music Memory. The only gripe I really have with this game is that I wish they’d give an example of “do” before each challenge. I have great relative pitch, but picking out the starting note several challenges in was the hardest part for me.