8.26.2014

Decorating Your Secondary Classroom {18 Things to Consider}

 
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  My friends over at Created for Learning put together an excellent blog post with tips from several secondary teachers on decorating classrooms. You'll want to head over there to get the entire blog post, but I'll share a few here as a tease. ;)


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It's weird how sometimes our decorations end up disconnected with how old our students really are. I teach 7th and 8th graders. Some of them come from fine, constant, healthy family and personal lives.

They are the 3rd and 4th sibling to come through our school and succeed. They play Flappy Bird, use Snapchat and Ask.fm, watch videos on Vine and play medieval phone app games before school.

However, while still maintaining privacy, I can share that just last year, I had students bullying each other, students sharing racy photos on social media to improve modeling portfolios, students cutting themselves, students attempting suicide, even students creating fake online profiles to bully themselves to gain attention.

This is the middle school world we teach in. These are the students we are decorating our rooms for. These just might not be clip-art kids. And high school is another giant leap forward (or backward), but it's a giant leap somewhere. What would our classrooms look like if we designed them to engage these minds and attentions?





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As a teacher, you can use words in clever ways to ìdecorateî your classroom, not only to fill up walls but also to make your students wise. One idea is to title specific areas of your wall in a
http://createdforlearning.blogspot.com/2014/08/18-things-to-consider-when-decorating.htmltargeted/meaningful way.  Carol used an idiom over her writing wall to teach idioms and open the door to the fundamentals of figurative language. In Johnís class, he uses ìCognitive Content Dictionariesî to be placed in a prominent locations which teaches key academic vocabulary as well as ìTier 2î vocabulary to aid in understanding text for EL learners.  Inspirational or humorous posters and quotes can also be used to fill smaller spaces and give students ideas to ponder on their own.

 http://createdforlearning.blogspot.com/2014/08/18-things-to-consider-when-decorating.html
http://createdforlearning.blogspot.com/2014/08/18-things-to-consider-when-decorating.html




http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Tracee-Orman
I have several items that I have in my room from my first year of teaching in 1999. Why do I keep them around? Mostly because they are either funny, sentimental, timeless, or related to a favorite book. Here are some examples: 

• (Funny) Close to Home (by John McPherson) comic: It has hung on my classroom door for many
years. I like to show my students that no matter how strict I may seem, I'm nothing compared to Mrs. Mutner. 
Classroom Pictures from www.traceeorman.com

• (Sentimental) Pictures of former students: Students love looking at pictures of past students. Plus, it helps me remember the names of my former students.
Classroom Pictures from www.traceeorman.com 

• (Timeless) This quote is timeless (and a great lesson on perspective), funny, and sentimental: my brother was an assistant coach for the St. Francis baseball team at the time (April, 1996). Robert Morris threw in the towel after the fourth inning, but the fact that they persevered until then also shows
character.
Quote on Perspective from www.traceeorman.com 

• (Favorite Book): My To Kill a Mockingbird framed pictures. TKaM is still my favorite book and I love being able to share my love for it with my students. My framed pictures and book review from 1960 are probably my most prized classroom items.
TKaM prints from www.traceeorman.com





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As a 14 year teaching veteran, I have tried countless ways to create bulletin boards for cheap. Cost does become a factor, and something a teacher should think of- we spend enough money on our classes without adding the extra cost of bulletin board decorations.  

I have found that some of my most engaging and most talked about boards were not the ones with flawless borders and themed decorations. Actually, it was just the contrary- Black butcher paper background, with the titles and words written in chalk with borders that were hand-drawn, got quite the reaction from my students. These example pictures will help explain what I mean:

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Created-By-Mrhughes
 http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Created-By-Mrhughes
Also, don't forget to use items in your room. For example, when teaching about a topic, I hang mentor texts from my bulletin board so the kids can "see" examples of published work that supports the topic. 

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Created-By-Mrhughes  
Remember to keep it simple, engaging, and useful!



http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Created-For-Learning
All praise and adoration to my teachers growing up, but I can't remember a single one that decorated their room for us guys. And I probably lean toward decorating for the boys...I tend to teach novels that will engage boys. So we deserve it to both genders to take a good long hard look at our rooms and decorations and ask if the boys and girls will be entertained and informed, tantalized and taught.

"But what if I think it's good? What do I do then?"

  Ask our students. They will be honest. Sometimes too much so. But we'll always find out what they think. If we need to, we can do a quick anonymous poll or ballot or something. But we can find out what each gender thinks, if we ask.


CLICK HERE to read ALL the tips for secondary teachers!


Again, thank you Created for Learning for putting together this great blog post with fabulous tips from our fellow secondary teachers! The contributors are listed below:

Blog Contributors Cliff's Notes

Laura Randazzo
>>> Blog ||| TeachersPayTeachers Store
The Teacher Team
>>> Blog ||| TeachersPayTeachers Store
Tracee Orman
>>> Blog ||| TeachersPayTeachers Store 

Created by Mr. Hughes >>> Blog ||| TeachersPayTeachers Store
Julie Faulkner
>>> Blog ||| TeachersPayTeachers Store
Students of History
>>> Blog ||| TeachersPayTeachers Store 

Created for Learning >>> Blog ||| TeachersPayTeachers Store

8.02.2014

Back to School Sale: Secondary Teachers Blast From the Past Yearbook

Back to School Sale: Secondary Teachers Yearbook Blast from the Past!


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  Oh, remember the days of middle and high school? How much simpler life was back then? Join your fellow secondary teachers for a blast-from-the-past celebration as TeachersPayTeachers kicks of its Back-to-School sale early this year!

  Life can be simpler for you using resources made by teachers.  The TeachersPayTeachers back-to-school sale is August 4th and 5th (yes, this coming week!). Use the code BTS14 at checkout to get the best savings.

  Stock up on tons of back-to-school/beginning of the year resourcesclassroom decor, Common Core-aligned lessons, activitieslesson planning, and so much more.

Special thanks to Danielle Knight who compiled all the secondary teacher's pictures and made the *totally awesome* photo above. Comment below with your graduation year (if you dare!) and attach a link to your favorite photo from school (optional...but it's so fun to see all the old pics!).

Here's mine (well, probably not my favorite, but it's my senior picture):

Mrs. Orman's Classroom: Back to School Yearbook!

It took me hours to crimp, curl, and tease that hair. I hope big hair is never back in style... 

You'll find everything you need for a successful school year in these secondary stores:

7.19.2014

Interactive Notebook Examples and Templates

Interactive Notebook Activities for Secondary Students

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When I first heard someone mention interactive notebooks, I thought they meant "interactive" as in digital interaction between peers.

But I was completely wrong. "Interactive," as in "interactive notebook," refers to a student's collection of notes and graphics. They are personal tools for students to process ideas and concepts. The "interaction" part is the student interacting with the notes (rather than with other students). The more students interact with the information (have multiple senses connected with it), the more they can retain knowledge.

This makes sense to me because even though I love technology and would never want my students to be without access to their laptops, I still firmly believe writing with a pencil and reading a physical paper book helps my students remember and connect more deeply with the text.

With that in mind, I've been busy finding ways to incorporate more hands-on projects with my secondary students. (I've noticed that much of what is on the market for interactive notebooks is elementary-targeted.) I created these tabbed mini-books to use with both fiction and nonfiction text:

Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com

The books (Theme, Plot, Story Elements, Vocabulary, and Figurative Language Analysis) practice the following literature standards for grades 6-12: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5, and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6.  They also cover these reading informational standards and language standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4, and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.4, and CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.5.

These are handy for using with individual stories and novels. Students can easily refer back to them later and compare two texts with one another. They are perfect for using as a source when writing a literary analysis paper or compare/contrast paper.

Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com

The wording/language used is targeted toward secondary students.

Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com
Plus, they are easy to put together: no glue is needed. Students can just assemble the pages and staple them. They can be affixed inside an existing notebook or not. 

Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com
Teachers can add as many or as few pages to the books. (This can be helpful for the plot analysis events and the vocabulary analysis book, both shown above.)

I also created a bundle of literature resources to cover all of the 6-12 Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for reading. Even if your state does not use the CCSS, you can still utilize these resources. The skills practiced still involve essential reading and critical-thinking skills. I separated the foldables by standards, but they are not labeled on the templates themselves.
Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com

It includes over 90 different activities, which are scaffolded for introducing skills and differentiated for progressing into more advanced skills.

Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com
One of the more difficult activities for my students over the past few years has been analyzing an event to see how it provokes a decision, propels the action, and reveals aspects of a character. I'm not sure why they struggle so much with this skill (reading standard 3), but breaking down single events and dialogue will help. The foldable above has students write each response on a clock face, then stack on top of each other and staple for a complete analysis of an event (below).
Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com

Another higher-level skill practiced is comparing/contrasting two different works and analyze how the two authors approach the material both differently and similarly. (Reading standard 9)
Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com

Secondary students may also appreciate graphics they can relate to.
Interactive notebook activities on www.traceeorman.com

Interactive notebook: comparing the book to its movie on www.traceeorman.com

Interactive notebook activity: analyzing how themes build upon and interact with one another

Interactive notebook: text message activity on www.traceeorman.com

A secondary interactive bundle would not be complete without the Bard, right!?
Interactive notebook: rewriting Shakespeare on www.traceeorman.com

If you download the preview to my package, you'll get two free templates from the bundle

I'd love your feedback!
Comment below with your experience using interactive notebooks in your classroom. 
• What kind of notebooks do you use (spiral vs. composition)? 
• How often do you use them with your students? 
• Do you have any tips for teachers starting out?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

5.08.2014

Using Bell Ringers and Exit Slips for Quick Assessments

Bell Ringers & Exit Slips for Quick Assessments (www.traceeorman.com)

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Implementing the Common Core State Standards does not have to be a difficult chore for teachers. There are many ways you can quickly assess student learning and measure their levels of understanding.

While teachers will see a push for more writing, the samples need not be lengthy essays. Quick writes—a paragraph summary or a few sentences that show evidence from a tex—count as a writing activity. This is where bell ringers and exit slips can come in handy. The smaller size is less intimidating for students, yet they still practice essential skills.

I've included some examples of how I use quick writes in the form of bell ringers (given at the beginning of class) and exit slips (due at the end of class) to gauge student learning. These are from my two Common Core Bell Ringers  & Exit Slips bundles: Volume 1 and Volume 2.

Implement the Common Core with Bell Ringers and Exit Slips
You should NEVER sacrifice creative thought; it should still be encouraged alongside other skills.

Both bundles have received rave reviews by teachers and students alike. One unique feature I include: the Common Core Standard on every single slip, so you (and your students) know exactly which skills you are practicing or assessing.

Using bell ringers and exit slips in class for quick writes.

Use prompts that practice the Core standards, yet still encourage creative thought. Your students will be more engaged and will put more thought and effort into the activity. The activity above practices the third reading standard, which asks students to analyze the characters actions over time. By asking students to eliminate a character, they must think both critically and creatively to understand how that character impacted the plot and other characters.

Using bell ringers and exit slips in class for quick writes.
Above, students are asked to relate a famous quote with the text. By forcing them to make those connections, they have to synthesize the information they've read.

Using bell ringers and exit slips in class for quick writes.

Another quick assessment is my "What's Hot? What's Not?" activity. Students must select parts from the text that display both positive and negative aspects or connotations. 

If you find yourself stressing about implementing the Core standards, DON'T! I have over 200 different activities to practice every single reading standard for both literature and nonfiction that can be implemented immediately. (See Volume 1 and Volume 2.) 

I've been using the activities in my classroom for several years with great success. Feel free to comment or ask a question below. Thanks for stopping by!

4.21.2014

10 Ways to Celebrate Shakespeare's Birthday

10 Ways to Celebrate Shakespeare's Birthday - www.traceeorman.com

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April 23rd will mark Shakespeare's 450th birthday. Here are 10 different ways you can celebrate the Bard's special day in your classroom (or on your own):

Shakespeare word cloud (from: 10 Ways to Celebrate Shakespeare's Birthday)1. READ A SONNET: Have each student read one of Shakespeare's sonnets aloud. With 154 to choose from, surely your students will find one 14-liner they like to recite. (Use this as a Common Core speaking/listening activity.) This also counts as a great activity for celebrating National Poetry Month! (Don't forget that Poem in Your Pocket Day is Thursday, April 24th. Perhaps students will like one of the sonnets they hear that they will choose to carry a copy of it with them.)

2. CREATE A SONNET WORD CLOUD: Have your students decorate the room with sonnet word clouds using Shakespeare's poems and either www.Wordle.net or www.Tagxedo.com. (They can even choose a Shakespeare bust or a related shape on Tagxedo.)


Shakespeare's Sonnet #18 (from: 10 Ways to Celebrate Shakespeare's Birthday)Shakespeare's Sonnet #98 (from: 10 Ways to Celebrate Shakespeare's Birthday)


3. PLAY SHAKESPEARE WORD GAMES: The Folger Shakespeare Library website offers activities for kids, such as these word games. Students can also try to figure out what these weird words mean. (Give your students the word and have them come up with different definitions. Have the class vote on their favorite definition, then reveal the real one and see how close/far-off they are.)
Shakespeare cake (from 10 ways to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday)
4. LET THEM EAT CAKE: Have a real birthday bash for Shakespeare, complete with cake!

5. COMPETE TO FIND THE MOST FACTS ABOUT SHAKESPEARE: This activity can be done either with books (reference books such as encyclopedias or other nonfiction volumes found in your library) or done online (or use a combination of both). See which class can come up with the MOST facts about the Bard in a limited amount of time. Each class can designate several secretaries to write the information down and several "fact-finders." If computer or book access is limited, you can divide the class into small groups and have them work in shifts. After students have found facts, discuss their favorite ones (or ones they find the most unusual).

6. AMAZING RACE SHAKESPEARE: Along the same lines as the fact-finding competition in #5, but different because students will be looking for specific answers to questions, in the style of the popular TV reality show "The Amazing Race." You can come up with the questions yourself, or use this pre-made activity already done for you (with answer key).
The Globe Theatre from Paper-Toys.com (from 10 Ways to Celebrate Shakespeare's Birthday)
7. RECREATE THE GLOBE THEATRE: Using this free online printable, have your students recreate a three-dimensional miniature replica of The Globe theatre (from www.Paper-Toys.com). If this task is a little too difficult, have them create their own little mini-Shakespeare from www.Toy-a-Day.blogspot.com.

8. "WHO AM I?" SHAKESPEARE CHARACTER QUIZ: Challenge your students with these "Who Am I?" clues on the Folger Shakespeare Library website. Then have your students create their own clues for a "Who Am I?" game. They can use characters from plays already studied, or mix in some characters from other works of literature from the entire year. It'll be a great review of all the books and stories your students have read this past school year.

9. PLAY AN ONLINE PUZZLE OR GAME: If you have access to the internet, play an online game (some can be printed if there is no access to the internet). Using the www.shakespeareinamericanlife.org website, students can color pictures, solve jigsaw and crossword puzzles, word searches, and complete mazes.

Shakespeare puzzles and games from www.shakespeareinamericanlife.org

10. FAVORITE QUOTE PARTY: Have students select their favorite Shakespearean quotes (can be from the plays, his poems, or anything related to Shakespeare). Then have them create a mini-poster of the quote (being as decorative as they'd like). As a writing component, have students write a paragraph explaining why they chose that particular quote. They can attach the explanation on the back of their mini-quote poster.
"There are no tricks in plain and simple faith" Shakespeare quote (from 10 Ways to Celebrate Shakespeare's Birthday)  Hang the quotes around the room and have students roam from quote to quote, jotting down those that they may not have selected, but also like. As a variation (or to add a speaking/listening activity), have students tell the class their favorite quote and why they like it or why it means something to them.

BONUS! yes...here's one more for a bonus 11th activity:

11. SHAKESPEARE'S LEGACY PROMPT: Would Shakespeare be surprised that—450 years later—his work is being studied, performed, and celebrated by people worldwide? Have students write a narrative piece about what their own legacy may be 450 years from now. They can tie in bits and pieces of Shakespeare for comparison's sake. They can speculate whether they think Shakespeare really wanted all his work published and read, or was some of it very private to him? Would students be surprised if some of their private work (journal/diary entries, poems) was studied by others?
  Students can also speculate whether they think documented words such as Twitter "tweets" or Facebook statuses will be considered narrative nonfiction in the future (or are they already?). Would they be horrified or pleased to know people hundreds of years in the future would be reading and studying them? Why?

If you wish to have these activities in printable form, you can find it here:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Shakespeare-Activities-Free-Download-1216646

Shakespeare Activities FREE Download http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Shakespeare-Activities-Free-Download-1216646

The free download includes these great printable pages to use with some of the activities:

My Favorite Shakespeare Quotes FREE Download http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Shakespeare-Activities-Free-Download-1216646

Weird Words Shakespeare Activity FREE Download http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Shakespeare-Activities-Free-Download-1216646Who Am I? Shakespeare Activity FREE Download http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Shakespeare-Activities-Free-Download-1216646



I hope you have a great Shakespeare Birthday celebration!