9.30.2012

The Best Book Boards to Follow on Pinterest - Celebrating Banned Books Week

Find great book boards to follow on Pinterest!

Today kicks off the ALA's annual Banned Books Week, which celebrates our freedom to read.

To begin the celebration on my blog, I thought I would post my favorite book boards on Pinterest. You'll find contributors from all over the world sharing the books they love, ultra-cool libraries, and anything related to books. There's very few advertisements or self-promotion; these are just great book boards to celebrate reading. And with the weather turning cooler, some of the book nooks are just downright cozy-looking!

Check out my picks for the top 5 book boards to follow on Pinterest:

1. Book Community Board - a place to discover and appreciate books. Started by Jellybooks with over 1,600 contributors and 16,000 pins.


2. Junk Bookshop (books and more...) - ...pictures of the library... - inspiring books (bookshelf, joke, etc....). Started by  Flynn "Knihovna" Carsen with 50+ contributors and over 13,000 pins.


3. Book Club -  Contributors pin their favorite adult and young adult books. Started by Kari O., with 380+ pinners and 2,270+ pins, you are sure to find some good reads here.


4. The Librarian's List: All-Time Favorite Books A list of our most beloved books created by librarians for librarians and the world! Started by O'Fallon Public Library with almost 400 contributors and 375+ pins.

5. Banned Books - "As they say, censorship causes blindness. We think it's important to honor Banned Books Week (9/30 - 10/6) all year round." Started by Random House Books with 11 contributors and over 100 pins.


Other notable boards or Pinterest users relating to books include:
Bookish News & Fun - A fun group board for book bloggers (reviews not posted here, though).
Literary Art 
All Things Books - This is my personal board of favorite images relating to books. I especially like the cozy reading nooks and amazing libraries from around the world.
Bernardsville Public Library
Friday Reads - If you look to Twitter on Fridays to see what people around the world are reading (#fridayreads), you can check out their Pinterest boards now, as well.
Scholastic - More about their boards in my next post...

Next up: The best book boards for young adult literature.

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9.24.2012

Fall-Themed Creative Writing Exercises



Last year I posted a Winter Creative Writing packet for younger students. It was well-received, so my intent was to create full-size bundles of creative writing exercises for all four seasons.

Well, here we are in September and I am just now posting my Fall Creative Writing Activities packet. :) Even though these are designed for students aged 10 and up, many of the activities can work for older students, as well.

Students will practice writing acrostic, haiku, and chance poetry, short stories, and short narrative "tweets" based on fall characters. This bundle has double the activities that my winter packet contained, hence the price. Download the preview for a sample activity and thumbnails of all the pages.

As a bonus, it also includes 12 pages of writing pages in fall themes. Use these for various writing assignments, stationery, or anything!


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9.15.2012

Say Goodbye to Your Laminator: A Better Way to Preserve Visual Aids in Your Classroom

Use sheet protectors rather than lamination for your visual aids .
I love my laminator. I use it often for making bookmarks and preserving posters for my classroom. But several years ago I decided for my 8.5"x11" visuals, it was better to use plastic sheet protectors. Here are my reasons why:

1. For your classroom visuals, using sheet protectors is more cost-effective.
You can purchase a package of 100 for less than $10 (for economy quality; less than $20/200 for better quality). I'm pretty sure that's cheaper than the laminator film I buy. If you use the thermal pouches, you'll save about $5 per 100, plus you won't have to cut anything.

2. Visuals store easily in a three-ring binder.
Anyone who has tried to store laminated posters in a cupboard knows what a pain it is. They slip off one another and the sizes are always odd. And I can never find the ones I'm looking for. I've tried putting them in large envelopes and labeling them, but then I have to pull them all out to find the one(s) I want to use. In a three-ring binder, I can flip through the pages quickly to find what I'm looking for.

3. Visuals store nicely--without creasing--in a three-ring binder.
Not only are they easier to find in a binder, they are less likely to get damaged. I can't count how many posters I've accidentally bent or creased while storing them. Having them all organized in a binder makes it a cinch for finding what I want and for keeping them like new.

4. Sheet protectors can be reused.
If you decide you don't like or don't want to use a certain visual aid anymore, there's no loss in money. Just slip it out of the sheet protector and put a new one in. Laminating is permanent. If you change your mind on the visual or notice a typo, you can't undo the lamination.

5. Sheet protectors won't ruin your visual aid.
How many times have you had a colorful poster or an example of student work that was ruined because you ran out of laminator film in the middle of it? Or it crinkled up while running through the machine? Or it created air bubbles on the page? I've had all these things happen and more. I've had to apologize to students for ruining their perfect collage or drawing, and wasted so much printer ink reprinting new signs that were destroyed in the laminator. I love the fact that there is absolutely no risk with the sheet protectors.

EXAMPLES FOR CLASSROOM USE
You can store all your class pictures and visual aids in a three-ring binder.
-Class pictures: I like to take a group picture of each class at the beginning of the year. I also take additional pictures during Homecoming Week (dress-up days), new semester (I always have new classes with shifting schedules and move-ins), and at the end of the year. I used to do old-school scrapbooking with the developed pictures, but with digital I just place them on a fun background then print myself. Each year I have a new crop of pictures to add to my "class pictures" binder, which is so much easier than scrapbooking! My students love looking through the pictures to find their older siblings, aunts/uncles, cousins, and--in the next few years--their parents.

-Showcase student work: I like to display student work throughout the year. The sheet protectors keep their work protected from things like marker dust on the white board and their classmates writing or drawing on them. Within my individual units, I always keep a few examples of exemplary student work to show future classes. Be sure to ask permission; some students do not want theirs used, or are willing if their name is covered up.

-Visual aids by unit: I have binders of visuals for each novel unit I teach. In addition, I have one for poetry & creative writing, one for short stories, one for all my Shakespeare units (The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet), one for journalism/expository writing, one for persuasive & narrative writing, and one for miscellaneous literature and authors.

Sure, sheet-protectors definitely have some drawbacks: 
-they are limited by their size (8.5" x 11")
-they aren't as thick as lamination
-they could slide out (unless you tape the open end)
-the three-ring tab isn't the prettiest for display
 But even with these cons, I still love to use sheet protectors for most of my classroom displays. 

Do you use sheet protectors or laminate? Or something else? Feel free to comment and post a link. 
Thanks for stopping by Mrs. Orman's Classroom!

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9.08.2012

Tip #3 for Implementing the Common Core State Standards in Your ELA Curriculum

Align your lessons with the Common Core Standards.

If you teach in one of the 48 states that has adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), chances are you've been looking for resources to help ensure your students are practicing the essential skills to meet the standards. And chances are you haven't found much for grades 6-12. I'd like to offer some tips that I learned as I went through this process during the 2010-2011 school year. You can find my previous tips here and here.

TIP FOR IMPLEMENTING THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS INTO YOUR ELA CURRICULUM

3. The various strands of the standards work with one another, so many reading activities will cover not just the reading strand, but perhaps the writing and language strands, as well. To demonstrate this, look at the following sixth grade writing standard:
The ELA strands work with one another; use resources that will, too.
W.6.9. Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • Apply grade 6 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres [e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories] in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics”).
  • Apply grade 6 Reading standards to literary nonfiction (e.g., “Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not”).

It would be impossible to implement this standard independently from the reading standards. They work together. Therefore, many of the resources that would cover RL.6.8 and RI.6.8 are the opening act for the writing activity. After you have students make those comparisons or arguments for the reading activity, have them put it in essay format. They already have the outline done if they utilized a good reading resource for standard 8.
My reading graphic organizers can serve as writing outlines, as well.
You don't have to waste your time or money finding separate resources for each of the strands in the standards. Plus, after your students spend time delineating the reading material, they will have a better understanding of what is expected in their own writing pieces.

You can try out some of my free resources in my teacher store:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Common-Core-Reading-Graphic-Organizer-RL9-103-and-RI9-103
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Common-Core-Reading-Graphic-Organizer-RL87-and-RI87
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Common-Core-Graphic-Organizer-RL11-125-and-RI11-125

My Common Core reading graphic organizers can be found here: Grades 6, 7, 8Grades 9-10Grades 11-12


ADDITIONAL CCSS RESOURCES
• If you are a pin-head like me (aka Pinterest Addict), check out my Common Core resources board:
Common Core Resources for English/Language Arts

• I belong to group boards, where you can find resources from various teachers and websites:
Common Core Ideas
The Ultimate Common Core ELA Products - Must Have

• You can also find resources through Charity Preston's Common Core Reading Lessons website. Just click on the specific grade level you are looking for.

SOURCE
The Common Core State Standards were posted under the public license:
The NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) hereby grant a limited, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to copy, publish, distribute, and display the Common Core State Standards for purposes that support the Common Core State Standards Initiative. These uses may involve the Common Core State Standards as a whole or selected excerpts or portions.

NGA Center/CCSSO are the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.

© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.


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9.04.2012

Common Core State Standards: Tip #2 for Implementing the CCSS Your Curriculum

Align your lessons with the Common Core Standards.

If you teach in one of the 48 states that has adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), chances are you've been looking for resources to help ensure your students are practicing the essential skills to meet the standards. And chances are you haven't found much for grades 6-12. I'd like to offer some tips that I learned as I went through this process during the 2010-2011 school year. Check back often to read my next tip (I'll have several). See tip #1 here.

TIP FOR IMPLEMENTING THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS INTO YOUR ELA CURRICULUM
2. Take advantage of the fact that the ELA anchor standards for 6-12 are the same, just varying the depth of each as students progress. For example, the first anchor standard for reading literature grades 6-12 is:
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text. 
(Source: corestandards.org)
Take a look at each grade-level standard for reading literature and see how they either build upon one another or stay the same:
RL.6.1. Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
RL.7.1. Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
RL.8.1. Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
RL.9-10.1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
RL.11-12.1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

At the sixth grade level, it seems as though just one supporting piece of evidence is necessary to find in the text, while seventh through 12th grades require more than one piece of evidence, and/or more difficult texts to find the supporting evidence from eighth grade on up.

Common Core Graphic Organizers
This is helpful because students will continue to build on these same skills each year, reinforcing what they know. It's also to your advantage when it comes to finding resources by using materials that cover several grade levels. My graphic organizers can be used with any text (fiction or non-fiction) in any content area. I begin with the anchor standards, then add directions or prompts that suit the grade level. Therefore, if you teach both an 8th grade and 11th grade literature class, you would only have to purchase the organizers for grades 11-12 because those will have all the materials from grades 6 on up. The organizers for grades 6, 7, and 8 are very similar to those for grades 9-10, so only one or the other would need to be purchased if you taught any of those grades. This is why my organizers for grades 11-12 are more expensive--they contain more and go more in-depth on many of the standards.

UPDATE: History and science teachers can find Common Core Literacy resources here:
CCSS Graphic Organizers for History & Social Studies, Grades 6-12
CCSS Graphic Organizers for Science & Technical Subjects, Grades 6-12

ADDITIONAL CCSS RESOURCES
• If you are a pin-head like me (aka Pinterest Addict), check out my Common Core resources board:
Common Core Resources for English/Language Arts

• You can also find resources through Charity Preston's Common Core Reading Lessons website. Just click on the specific grade level you are looking for.

SOURCE
The Common Core State Standards were posted under the public license:
The NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) hereby grant a limited, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to copy, publish, distribute, and display the Common Core State Standards for purposes that support the Common Core State Standards Initiative. These uses may involve the Common Core State Standards as a whole or selected excerpts or portions.

NGA Center/CCSSO are the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.

© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.
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9.02.2012

Implementing the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts Classes, Tip #1

Align your lessons with the Common Core Standards.
If you teach in one of the 48 states that has adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), chances are you've been looking for resources to help ensure your students are practicing the essential skills to meet the standards. And chances are you haven't found much for grades 6-12. I'd like to offer some tips that I learned as I went through this process during the 2010-2011 school year. Check back often to read my next tip (I'll have several).

TIP FOR IMPLEMENTING THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS INTO YOUR ELA CURRICULUM
1. Take advantage of the materials available to you. There are many websites and Pinterest boards that are posting resources. Utilize those! It will save you a lot of time. (Links to resources posted below.)

Sadly, I did not have any materials available to me two years ago, otherwise I would have used them.

Avoid the tedious task of re-mapping your curriculum.
When our district learned of the adoption of the standards in 2010, we were given the tedious and time-consuming chore of aligning our curriculum maps with the CCSS. It seemed like it would be an easy task, but it turns out there were many Illinois standards that just didn't seem to fit anywhere in the Common Core. It didn't take long to realize it would be easier to re-do many of my lessons than align each one.

As a result, I created my Grades 9-10 Common Core Reading Graphic Organizers. Though I had already been practicing skills like inferencing and analysis of characters, theme, the author's purpose, figurative language, and so on, the language in the CCSS was much more specific with exactly what the students should be learning. Below is an example of one I created for the reading literature anchor standard #3 (CCR.RL.3):
I had my students use the RL.3 organizer while we read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. {You can download this graphic organizer HERE free.}

Below is an example of the character analysis of Scout Finch. In one of my next posts I'll be writing about what we did after students filled out their graphic organizers.

If you are interested in the graphic organizers for other grade levels, you can find them all in my teacher store: Common Core Resources (free & priced) for English/Language Arts

I will be posting more tips every few days, so check back for tip #2!

ADDITIONAL CCSS RESOURCES
• If you are a pin-head like me (aka Pinterest Addict), check out my Common Core resources board:
Common Core Resources for English/Language Arts

• I belong to group boards, where you can find resources from various teachers and websites:
Common Core Ideas
The Ultimate Common Core ELA Products - Must Have

• You can also find resources through Charity Preston's Common Core Reading Lessons website. Just click on the specific grade level you are looking for.

SOURCE
The Common Core State Standards were posted under the public license:
The NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) hereby grant a limited, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to copy, publish, distribute, and display the Common Core State Standards for purposes that support the Common Core State Standards Initiative. These uses may involve the Common Core State Standards as a whole or selected excerpts or portions.

NGA Center/CCSSO are the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.

© Copyright 2010. National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers. All rights reserved.
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