Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday Teacher Tips October 29, 2013 Characterization Resources, Wonder & a Few More Halloween Ideas

These were the tips I got together to share with my teachers this week.  Links to other websites are in brackets.

Focus on Character

In the past week, I’ve seen a couple of really good resources about characterization that would go well with Common Core ELA .3.

The first is from the blog Workshop Classroom, from an August post “Teaching About Character Traits”, which you can find [here]  The post includes a link to a pretty slick handout that is available for free on Teachers Pay Teachers.  The handout is divided into a number of different category that will help students organizer their thoughts.  It includes the categories: nice, mean and sad with a list of synonyms for each word.  It also includes categories for positive and negative character traits, and traits that describe characters who do a lot, and characters who do very little, and finally a section for opposites.  Find the handout on Teachers Pay Teachers [here].  A character reference sheet, such as the one mentioned above, could go a long way in generating specific discussion about a character’s traits.

I think the most interesting characterization activity I have seen in quite awhile is from  Erin Klein on her blog Kleinspiration.  In her post “If Our Characters Had Instagram”, which you can find [here], Klein describes using Instagram as the inspiration for an activity she used with her second graders, where her students designed Instagram pictures for characters in the story.  In the post, Klein provides an in-depth discussion  of the teaching process she used to model the activity and engage her students in very high levels of thinking.  In designing a photo a character would take the kids had to consider character traits, events, and settings in the story.  Klein is offering her handouts free on Teachers Pay Teachers [here].

Please be sure to read Klein’s blog post about the activity, it really is interesting to read about the discussion that occurred and her thought process in designing the activity.  You can also follow her on Twitter @KleinErin by clicking [here].  If you’re new to Twitter and looking for ideas and a lot of enthusiasm, she is a great person to follow

Wonder—Be Inspired—Choose Kind

Every now and then you read a book that really sticks with you.  For me Wonder by R.J. Palacio is one of those books.

In the book, August (Auggie) Pullman, is a 5th grader, confronted with the daunting task of having to attend school for the very first time. Auggie was born with facial deformities that made it difficult to do every day things like eat,  For his first 5 years of school, Auggie was homeschooled as he underwent extensive facial reconstructive surgeries.  Auggie is just a normal kid, with normal thoughts and dreams, but many people have a hard time seeing past his physical appearance to understand how normal he is.

The book is a fantastic discussion starter for helping kids to understand the idea that they can not judge others based on looks.  It also includes excellent examples of dynamic and static characters, as well as the opportunity for students to discuss a character’s flaws and see how characters can overcome those flaws.

But, mostly the book is just incredibly inspiring.  It is a beautiful description of  struggle, courage, and kindness, and it is one that belongs in the hands of every student.

Check out the book trailer from the Publisher [here] and R.J. Palacio’s website [here].  Follow Palacio on Twitter, [here] and the hashtag #choosekind [here].  The Choose Kind Tumblr page [here] is also worth a browse.

A Few More Halloween Resources

There are a number of fun Halloween songs you can watch on YouTube.

Be sure to check out Scary Halloween Song [here]  by the Learning Station.

“Pumpkins, Witches and Ghosts” [here] is another fun Halloween song by the Learning Station.

“Ha-double L– O” is a classic from 1969 by Wade Denning and Kay Lande—see that one [here]

For more videos, you’ll see additional recommendations on the right YouTube panel.

If you have time in the computer lab, ABCya games has a few fun, Halloween themed educational games to check out.  Click [here] to see the selection.  The best games for skill practice is Ghost Typing, although you may want to check out the crossword  puzzle.



Friday, October 25, 2013

First Quarter Library Report 2013

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday Teacher Tips - QR Codes, iPad organization and Halloween resources/read alouds

These are the tips I sent out to teachers in my building today.  We had our second Power Lunch on Friday where we discussed ways to use QR Codes, so I followed up today with some of the things we discussed for the teachers who couldn't make it.

QR Codes in the Classroom

In case you missed our 2nd Power Lunch, we discussed Quick Response (QR) Codes, and ways that you can use them in the classroom.  Check out the QR Code guide with links to QR Code makers and resources [here].
QR Codes and Websites
Obviously, you can use QR codes to link students and parents to websites quickly.  Add them to your business cards, newsletters to send people to your class website quickly.  Add them to hallway displays to link to sources, or to the back of books to link kids to more resources about the book’s topic or the author.  You can also create a QR code scavenger hunt from a template by clicking [here].  Organize your QR codes on index cards clipped on a 1 inch ring for quick access to all the websites your students use the most.
QR Codes and Files Stored in the Cloud
You also may want to experiment with using QR codes for materials you store in a cloud based service like Dropbox, Skydrive, or Google Drive.  Upload videos, PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, or audio files then generate a link for the document/file and share that work using your QR codes. 

This could be a good way to record directions for a center.  Use a recording app or a program like Audacity to create a voice recording of directions, upload it to cloud storage, generate your link, the create a QR code.  Students would scan the QR code when they arrive at the center, and hear you giving them the directions.

QR codes and Formative Assessment
You may also want to experiment with Google Forms and QR codes.  You can use Google Forms or Excel Survey on Skydrive to create a quiz or a poll.  After you make your quiz/poll, create the QR code for the link to the poll, have students scan the QR code, then take the quiz/poll from their device.  This could be a quick way to formatively assess students at a center or for an assignment.

iPad Organization Tip

JES teacher, Mrs. O suggests keeping track of your iPads by assigning each iPad a number, then, print your name and the number on different colored papers. 

Click on Set Both on the Right Side
Using the iPads, take a picture of each paper for the iPad assigned, then set that picture as the lock screen and background. 

This is helpful if you share iPads with other teachers if students need to keep track of which iPad they were working on.

To set the photo as your lock screen and background click:
· Settings
· Wallpapers & Brightness
· Choose Wallpaper
· Photos >> Camera Roll >>choose your photo
· The choose “Set Both” (lock screen and home screen)

Halloween Web Hunt!

Looking for a fun and educational Halloween themed computer lab activity?
Check out  Scholastic’s Halloween Web Hunt geared towards grades 3-5 [here]. 
In the hunt, students are challenged to find out facts about mummies, vampire bats, Frankenstein and the history of Halloween.

Halloween Read aloud

Be sure to check out the series!
If you don’t know Invisible Inkling yet, Halloween is the perfect time to meet him. In Emily Jenkins’ Dangerous Pumpkins, Invisible Inkling is an invisible Peruvian bandabat that lives in Frank Wolowitz’s laundry basket and wreaks havoc on the neighborhood’s jack-o’-lanterns.
The Inkling series is a wonderful series that deals with very realistic problems using humor and some fantasy.

Meet the author—and the bandabat [here] on this Harper Kids YouTube videos.

Emily Jenkins’ Resources for Teachers page, may also be helpful—there’s a great Invisible Inkling art project about halfway down the page.  Click [here] to see it.

Follow Emily Jenkins on Twitter: @elockhart