4.06.2014

Top 5 Reasons Why I Never Complete My To-Do Spring Break List

Top 5 Reasons I Never Complete My Spring Break To-Do List  from www.traceeorman.com

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Today is my last day of spring break. And while I SHOULD be frantically tackling my to-do list, I am here blogging about why I never complete it. Hmmm.

REASONS I NEVER GET AS MUCH DONE OVER SPRING BREAK AS I'D LIKE:

1. My to-do list is way too long. This year my list included: catch up on grading, organize my classroom, create new TpT products (too many to list), upload already completed TpT products (but make preview files for them), revise old units, read lots of books, go to baseball games, take lots of pictures at the games, organize & edit pictures, upload pics to Facebook & Flickr, plan out final days of school for seniors & sophomores, watch Frozen, watch 12 Years a Slave, go back to see my parents, and the list goes on... I think I accomplished five things (and they involve movies, baseball games, and pictures).


Movies I watched: 
I could not pick more opposite movies to watch, but both were very good. "Twelve Years a Slave" made me cry and "Frozen" made me laugh. 

12 years a slave

Yet both made me think: what is it inside humans that makes us do evil things? Greed? Selfishness? Lust for power? Funny how both movies touch on the same theme, albeit in much different ways.

Frozen



2. Some of the things on my list really suck. If I could just list non-productive things (like watching movies and hanging out with family) on my list, I really wouldn't need a list. But I don't want to spend spring break doing sucky things like organizing my classroom. (Or any room, for that matter.) And grading papers is a chore no matter when I have to do it. Over break, I always think I'll have more time "tomorrow" to do these sucky things. Well, guess what I'll be doing TODAY when I finish this blog post!? (If you guessed pinning on Pinterest while procrastinating grading until about 9 p.m., you are probably right on the money.)


Spring break...aaaannnd it's gone. (from www.traceeorman.com)

3. Break is never long enough. Seriously. It should be at least two weeks. And I know many districts are lucky to get one day. (I feel for you all!) We need at least an extra week to recharge our batteries after spending the first week trying to accomplish our to-do lists.


Pin ALL the things!  (from www.traceeorman.com)
4. Pinterest. There. I said it. I have a problem and it involves wasting spending numerous hours pinning funny memes, teaching resources, books, and things that make you say "What the freak?" (or something like that).

5. I procrastinate. Yes, my name is Tracee and I'm a procrastinator. Why do I wait until the last minute for so many things? I don't know. I just do. In my defense, though, we did get our taxes done and it's not even April 15th yet. That has to count for something, right? ;)

Perhaps next year I'll create a more realistic spring break to-do list. If so, I think I could complete it with time to spare. For naps. Or more pinning. 

I could probably complete this list. (from Top 5 Reasons I Never Complete My To-Do Lists)


WHAT I DID ACCOMPLISH :)
I did complete a few TpT-related things. If you purchased my DIVERGENT unit, MOCKINGJAY unit, POETRY RESOURCES, VOL. 1 bundle, ARGUMENT WRITING bundle, and other smaller items, check your "My Purchases" page on TpT to re-download the revised products. I've updated many files over break.

I've also added the following new products:

Poetry Book Assignment & Rubrics (www.traceeorman.com)

Poetry Book Assignment - includes the requirements/criteria, checklist of types of poems/forms & figurative language/poetic devices, rubrics for grading, and sample poems/books from students. 
All in editable PDF format.

Divergent Poetry Activities (www.traceeorman.com)

Divergent Poetry Activities - Numerous exercises to practice writing, reading, and analyzing poetry. Even if you don't teach this unit, you can use these activities to connect with students in your class who have read it.

 For my clip art friends/followers:
Doodle Borders Clip Art for Commercial Use
Doodle Borders:
Swirly Dots (26 .png files)
Small Circles (28 .png files)
Small Boxes (20 .png files)
Basket Weave (26 .png files)


The highlight of my break? 
Watching my son play high school baseball! With the cruddy weather, this week was the first time they could get outside and actually play. 

KO - EP Baseball 2014 (photo by T.Orman www.traceeorman.com)K.O.  EP Baseball (photo: T.Orman www.traceeorman.com)


I hope you had (or will have) a very relaxing and productive (if that's what you want) spring break. If not...we're not too far from summer break, right!?

3.29.2014

Five Ways to Use Memes to Connect With Students

Five Ways to Use Memes in Class  - from www.traceeorman.com

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Students love funny memes. Here are five ways you can bring that humor into your classroom (and school) to connect with students:

Use memes for your class rules and expectations  {from www.traceeorman.com}


1. Class Rules, Expectations, and/or Procedures: Instead of your traditional class rules poster, use memes to deliver your message with humor. Better yet, have students create what they think proper rules and regulations should be. In memes, of course. You or your students can use a website like http://memegenerator.net/.

Use memes for an ice-breaker activity  {from www.traceeorman.com}

2. Ice-breaker or "Get-to-Know-You" Activity: Memes are perfect for getting to know your students better. Break the ice with a "What I Do" meme or funny eCard. For a full lesson with printables and digital templates you can share, click here.

Promote your curriculum in your classroom using memes {from www.traceeorman.com}


3. Promote (and Reinforce) Your Curriculum: Generate excitement with memes or use them to spark discussions. Posted around your room, they are sure to catch your students' attention. You can find hundreds of images on Pinterest.com with a search in your subject area. Or create them yourself.

Have your students create a meme relating to your unit of study. {from www.traceeorman.com}


4. Creative Activity: Students will practice both creative and critical-thinking skills while creating a meme related to the unit you are studying. It seems very simple, but coming up with appropriate wording to convey the right tone is definitely a higher-order skill. Then students have to make sure they use the right meme correctly. Without even realizing it, they will be making connections with the material while having fun. To read a more detailed post about making memes a class assignment, read more here.

Use memes for orientation, open house, or advice from graduates.  (from "5 ways to use memes to connect with students")


5. Freshmen Orientation (or Open House): One of my colleagues came up with the brilliant idea to have our current students create memes for next year's incoming freshmen for orientation. The meme content varied, covering advice, warnings, and plain old high school humor. The eighth graders and their parents perused the memes during their orientation in March. The images always seem to generate questions they may not have asked otherwise. You could also use this for an open house discussion-starter. Graduating seniors can also leave legacy memes with words of wisdom for future seniors.

However you use memes in your classroom or school, one thing is certain: your students will love it!

Feel free to use and/or share the following memes 
(created using the Meme Generator application):

Five ways to use memes to connect with students...

Five ways to use memes to connect with students...

Five ways to use memes to connect with students... (from www.traceeorman.com)

Five ways to use memes to connect with students (from www.traceeorman.com)

Five ways to use memes to connect with students (from www.traceeorman.com)

Five ways to use memes to connect with students (from www.traceeorman.com)

Five ways to use memes to connect with students (from www.traceeorman.com)


The following images are from our most recent freshmen orientation, created by students:
High school memes - www.traceeorman.com
When teachers tell you there's a test today - classroom humor

What is it called when you don't have to study? Imagination.  (classroom humor)


Classroom humor - high school memes - www.traceeorman.com

So a senior said hi to me... high school humor

Why are you packing up already? Classroom humor

We trust you on your laptops...said no teacher ever. Classroom humor

Romeo and Juliet - Shakespeare humor

High school memes - classroom humor


3.01.2014

Classroom Organization Update: Make-Up Work


Classroom Organization: Make-Up Work Solution www.traceeorman.com

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My biggest challenge with staying organized is paperwork. Even though my students have laptops and we do much of our homework/classwork online, I still have several students whose laptops are "in the shop" or they have lost their privileges, so I must provide paper copies of the work we do. This includes copies of presentations, bell-ringers, MLA cheat sheets, etc. And students who are absent for online quizzes, tests, and journal prompts have to use the paper copy because our online program locks them out.

It gets to be overwhelming keeping it all straight.

I finally just started using my magnets (click HERE to see how I made all my classroom whiteboard magnets) on top of different stacks. But you all know what happens next: a student lifts the magnet to grab a copy and the rest of the papers fall to the floor. Some students had the foresight to set the magnet aside and hold the papers with the other hand, but—based on their furrowed brows—this was such an inconvenience.

I have stackable trays and paper organizers that I can put on my counters or a table. I've tried this method in the past and have found that I really don't like them. They take up a lot of room and don't have a prominent place for a label. I need a label that shouts to my students so loudly they don't have to ask me every. single. time.
I hate these stackable trays. Click for a better, cleaner way to distribute paperwork.
Clearly, I'm doing this wrong.
Stackable trays don't allow you to display prominent labels. Click to find out my solution to this...
Epic label FAIL on stackable trays.

So as I saw another stack of make-up work fall to the floor, I thought, I need a strap to hold those papers in. 

My first thought was to use a magnetic curtain rod (I use one for my daily bell-ringer signs* and I love it), but they are not close enough to the papers to keep them flat.
Classroom organization: Love using magnetic curtain rod to hang bell-ringers.  www.traceeorman.com
Love my magnetic curtain rod for my bell ringers, but knew it wouldn't work to hold make-up work handouts*.

Then I tried taking a folder and cutting it in half so the papers just go right in the pocket.
Paper load organization fail: My first attempt for de-cluttering make-up work papers.
It was okay until...
That was okay, but they still flapped over, so students couldn't read the labels on the pocket.
Prototype #1 Fail for organizing/distributing make-up work.
Prototype #1 FAIL!
To combat the flapping, I folded a piece of paper lengthwise in threes and secured it with magnets on the sides to keep the handouts from flapping.
Prototype #2 Fail for organizing/distributing make-up work.
Prototype #2 FAIL!
It worked, but it looked like overkill. Like the folder pocket wasn't even necessary. And it wasn't. So I ditched that and just used the paper.
Easy classroom organization for make-up work and other handouts. www.traceeorman.com
Finally! Third time's a charm.

How easy is that? And cheap.

Easy classroom organization for make-up work and other handouts. www.traceeorman.com
Why did it take me three attempts to figure this out?? 
And I really like how "clean" and uncluttered it looks. Much better than the trays. What do you think?

Another installment in my organization journey: managing the make-up paper distribution.
I am making progress with my classroom disorganization problem, my friends. But I still have a long way to go. Thanks for following me on my journey to organizing my classroom!

Mrs. Orman's Classroom ~ www.traceeorman.com


*Bell ringer signs are found in my Bell Ringer Bundle. "Motivational Monday" quote signs are found in my bundle of Inspirational Quotes Classroom Posters.

2.25.2014

Common Core Argument Writing

What's the difference between a persuasive essay and an argument essay? Click for more...

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Implementing the Common Core State Standards doesn't have to be difficult, though many teachers may be intimidated by the language used. For instance, we used to categorize our writing prompts by "persuasive," "expository,"  and "narrative." The Common Core State Standards changes the wording to: "opinion," "informative/explanatory," and "narrative" for grades K-5 and "argument," "informative/explanatory," and "narrative" for grades 6-12. But that doesn't mean that the writing process or the types of prompts need to be changed.

Persuasive vs. Argument Writing

So what's the difference between persuasive writing and writing an argumentative paper? Both rely on the opinion of the writer. An argument, however, uses facts and data to support the opinion expressed. Students need to research to find evidence rather than rely on opinion alone to support their opinion (or "claim").

Research can be a daunting task, especially for middle school students. I created a student-friendly argument guide you can share with your classes.

In ninth grade, students are required to address the opposition's opinion, which is called the "counterclaim." My students struggled with this at first, but after explaining it and showing them examples, they grasped it and had no problem writing their essays.

I created two more detailed products to help you teach argument writing and practice the skills with your students.

Argumentative Writing for Grades 6-12 {blog post}


My Argument Writing for Grades 6-12 pack includes the student guide, teacher's guidelines, handouts, and grading rubrics (all aligned with the Common Core State Standards for Argumentative Writing). It has over 60 pages of visually-stimulating and student-friendly graphics to explain each part of the essay process, including citations.

For high school teachers, I have an even more detailed guide that includes alignment with the PARCC guidelines for quarterly assessments.

High School Common Core and PARCC Writing for Argumentatives {blog post}

You can purchase these resources, plus many more in my teacherspayteachers store. And the best part? You can get them on sale (30% off) Thursday and Friday! Use the promo code TPT3 at checkout!

SALE! TeachersPayTeachers site-wide sale Feb. 27-28.


Thanks for stopping by my blog!