Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Free Preview-Independent Fluency System for MS Students

The second installment of my fluency system for middle school students is now available and is 75% off through 11/29/14. Read all about the system in my post from 11/16/14.

Click here to download your free preview.  Be sure to VIEW the slideshow in order to see the technology that runs the system.

Click the picture below to purchase this product.

Purchase the second installment of my fluency system today!
Installment #1 is available here. Feel free to leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you!

Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Teaching Restaurant Etiquette: Real Life Experience

This year, I had an opportunity to participate in University Days for the first time in my teaching career. The purpose of University Days is to give students an opportunity to sign up for and participate in various activities that interest them. Each teacher in the community offers different courses and conducts the class. I was excited to offer a course in restaurant etiquette.

My room, converted into a fancy restaurant
My students got a kick out of the Minnie Mouse and Dora the Explorer (not pictured) place settings.
I told them that this is what happens when you have a two-year old daughter at home and have left over paper goods from  birthday parties!

My first order of business was to transform my classroom into a "fancy" restaurant. Students lined up in the hallway and I played the role of the hostess. Once students were seated, we then watched several video clips and discussed the rules of etiquette in a restaurant. Students  also learned about sales tax and the reasoning behind leaving a tip. Next, students took time to view a menu, decide what they were going to order, and figure out the sales taxes and a 20% tip. Some of them said, "Well, I only have $1 left, so that's all I'm going to leave for a tip."  You know that wasn't going to fly! We discussed the importance of leaving a good tip and even watched an inspirational video clip from The Ellen DeGeneres show.

 After the lesson, it was  time for role-play! A few students pretended to be servers while their classmates were the restaurant patrons. They had to practice proper etiquette as they placed their order, waited to be served, pretended to eat their meal, paid their bill, and left a tip.

Older students enjoy and learn from role-play

Then it was time for real life application. The students, my chaperons, and I boarded the bus and headed to House of Pizza. Each student placed his or her own order, paid his or her own bill, and left a tip. Some of the students decided that the waiter did such a good job that they wanted to leave more than a 20% tip. They made comments like, "I want to be a good tipper," and "He did such a good job! He had to take care of ALL of us!" They even applauded for him before we left.
Real life application-students practice restaurant etiquette at House of Pizza
The server and hostess complimented my students' decorum multiple times. I was incredibly proud of them.  Middle school students in a Title 1 district sometimes get a bad rap when it comes to social situations, but my lovelies did a great job of dispelling all the negative stereotypes. This goes to show that ALL students can learn---they just have to be taught!

Are you interested in conducting a restaurant etiquette lesson with your students? You can grab my FREE lesson here. ENJOY!

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sometimes I Want to GIVE UP!

Yesterday morning, I wanted to crawl back into bed, hide under the covers, and hope that everything that I needed to do would magically take care of itself.  The cold weather and dark clouds matched my discouraged mood, and I could hardly get myself going. I was frustrated about all of the test prep that must occur in order to help my middle school students experience success when there are so many wonderful and, dare I say, more important things I want to teach.  I was angry about the new testing format that contains questions that are so subjective that not even a room full of highly-qualified teachers can agree on the answers. I was saddened as I thought about how challenging the new passages are, especially for my students who are reading far below grade level. My heart shattered as I considered the look of defeat on the faces of my students as they tried to muddle through the passages and questions and just couldn't get it. I felt like a failure as a teacher when I remembered the low test scores from the last round of Acuity testing. The overflow of emotions suffocated me and I wanted to cry. I wanted to give up. I wanted to quit.
But then I begin to think of the things that I could control. I could control my attitude. I could use my knowledge of best-practices and help my students move closer to being able to pass the test. Inch by inch we would crawl, but we would get there together. I could stop complaining about the new test, pool my resources, and teach my students to the best of my ability.

I prayed and asked the Lord to give me strength to help me through the day as I dragged my weary bones into the shower. By time I drove to work, I was still down in the dumps, but then, as my students begin to stream into the room, something wonderful begin to happen. Over the next two hours, my mood lifted as I saw their eagerness to learn. I was touched by their DESIRE to keep chugging along, even if the work was hard, and I knew that I shouldn't/wouldn't/couldn't give up.

If we all work together, I am confident that we can encourage one another and come up with ways of helping our students experience success. As a first step, I'd like to share a lesson with you that I completed with my study skills class.  Feel free to use this with your students as a way of helping them become familiar with the new Istep+  Language Arts test that they will have to complete in March. (Click on the picture to download the lesson.)

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
~1 Thessalonians 5: 19

I will keep this verse in mind and give thanks for the educational situation that we face today. Be encouraged, my friends, and don't give up! Our students need us!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Naomi's Birthday = Great Deals for Teachers!

My sweet Naomi turns two in a few days. I know I sound like a bad cliche', but the time really has flown by.  It is amazing  to see just how much she's learned in just two years. I take great pride and joy in seeing her master new concepts. This comes from giving her plenty of opportunities to learn.

Naomi's learning reiterates  the importance of providing our children and students with quality educational resources, regardless of their age. I create products for middle school students and want to make sure that they are accessible to ALL TEACHERS, regardless of financial situations. Therefore, I am making all products in my TpT store 75% off for the first 48 hours that they are posted. My followers will also be notified of flash freebies. This will ensure that teachers get the quality resources they want without stretching their wallet. Follow me today! (Click the picture to go to my store.)

Follow Me Today in TpT!

Here's a flash freebie for all of my teacher friends. This product will be FREE for the next TWO WEEKS in honor of my sweet baby girl's 2nd birthday. Click the picture below to view the product.  ENJOY!!!

Point of View -FREE from November 8, 2014-November 22, 2014. Grab it today!

*Clip art frame by Cara's Clips 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Understanding Point of View

It seems that each year, my students struggle with the concept of point of view.  Last school year, I knew I needed to think outside of the box to help them SEE the differences between the view points. Therefore, I recruited the help of my colleges for a little improv. First, they acted out a scene from the point of view of a 1st person narrator. Then, they redid the scene from the point of view of a third person limited narrator and finally, from the point of view of a third person omniscient narrator.

Oscar worthy performances, yes?

Oh, how my students got a laugh out of the acting! But FINALLY they were able to see the difference between the points of view.

This year, my students will study the script of each scene to solidify their knowledge of point of view. They will respond to multiple choice questions similar to those found on standardized assessments, highlight words that indicate the point of view, circle information that reveals the thoughts of different characters, and fill in a chart that compares the information.  At the end of the period, I'll be able to quickly assess their understanding of point of view with my pre-made exit slips.
UPDATE: Since I teach 7th grade this year, students will also complete bell-ringers and exit slips over objective and subjective points of view.

I've packaged all of this together so that it can be used as a ready-made resource in your middle-school reading/language arts classroom. Grab the lesson here: Bellringers (or Minilessons) and Exit Slips for Point of View.

Check out my other Point of View resources to maximize student learning!

·         Point of View Pretests-Forms A and B-FREE!
·         Point of View Posttests-Forms A and B-FREE!
·         Point of View Flow Chart-FREE!
·        Multiple Points of View-Newest product! One story rewritten from multiple points of view; student activities included
      Point of View Analysis Pack-One of my top sellers!-In this story, the writer is all mixed up between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person points of view. Students have to figure out what the story is supposed to be saying and then rewrite it from various points of view. 
·         Point of View Posters/Anchor Charts in English and Spanish-One of my top sellers!
          Happy teaching!