Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Happy (almost) New Year Activity!

My G&T students love the thrill of a quick research activity...
especially when given the opportunity to share their findings.

So as expected...they loved working on this 
{And I loved it because it incorporated creating a Works Cited, which is something they need to practice.}

I found that New Year's traditions were a great opportunity for research 
and made for a motivating activity to return to after break.  The information to research was limited, so it was nice to go through the motions of a research project without devoting extended time to the research process.

Last year the students completed the above activity in our 4th/5th gifted and talented class.

First, they picked a card that briefly explained a tradition performed by another culture (or our own).
I had my small group G&T 5th grade students complete this individually, 
but am considering using this with my Grade 8 students in partners this year.

They then researched facts and beliefs surrounding the tradition.  
The number of resources and information is limited for this activity. Which is why I like it.  The focus is on using multiple resources and taking the time to create the Works Cited.

They recorded their information on page one of the activity sheet below.
Later to be used as a reference for their brief oral presentation.  I prefer to complete this activity in one day if given the time, because I like this as preparation for impromptu presentations/public speaking... 
changing it up from their much-prepared prezi/ppt presentations of the past.

As they researched, they recorded the websites on the second page.
After researching, they followed the QR code to use to create their citations.

It was a quick and easy activity and could be done over 1-2 days 
depending on the number of students that 

After completing the activity last year and preparing to use it again this year,
I fancied it up with some graphics (they look pretty in color, as compared to these black and white copies, I swear!)

and posted it on TpT!  Enjoy! 

Does anyone do any similar "quick" research and presentation activities? 
I am looking to find or create another for later in the year.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

December - Five For Friday

Well, even though Five For Friday is taking a break in December....
I am linking up writing one anyway!


#1. I updated my home work space with a Target globe and new candle this week.  I changed it up by relocating my dirtsa studio world map to above my desk.  These little additions put the finishing touches on my work space and I think it is a relaxing place to lesson plan and make TpT products now!
{I found the little wood desk on Craigslist last year and my fiance redid it with blue paint and oil rubbed bronze knobs
to knock off this pottery barn table for WAY cheaper. I think it works.  Do you like it?}


#2.  My Giveaway is still going on...don't get forget to enter! It is my first blog Giveaway!
I am giving away some cute teal/gold stationary goodies and a $10 Starbucks giftcard.
{CLICK HERE to enter!}


#3. I am excited about my "Snow: Winter's Favorite Mineral" winter webquest.  I made it when I taught 6th grade earth science and had fun glittering it up with Glitter Meets Glue graphics for TpT!  The students take a quick quiz of misconceptions and little known facts about snow and use QR codes to investigate and answer prompts.


#4. Whoo hoo for Amazon's daily deals... I bought a laminator. Yes, a laminator.  I bought it on Thursday and it was here by Friday.  I then proceeded to try to laminate every paper item in my house.  (Note to Self: If you laminate receipts the whole thing turns black... The more you know.) My school has a hand crank laminator, but I have always been partial to thermal I think this is pretty great.  And for the sale price (80.00 15.99) it was well worth it.   

{They are back up to $30 today.... but now that I have one, I think the full price would be worth it, too}


#5. Hour of Code is totally new to me.  But my 5th grade G&T students LOVE to code...
and are crazy good! We did some,, and after school this week. 
When I can find the time, I would love to look into more coding activities. 

{We did a little half hour of code after school for fun!}

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Stationary and Starbucks Giveaway!

I am very excited for my FIRST EVER GIVEAWAY!

Follow me and fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 5, 2014

Double Dice in Middle School

I purchased Double Dice on a whim thinking they looked cool....
Turned out they were a great addition to making learning
in my resource room HANDS-ON and fun!

I purchased these sets:

In the last few years, I have used the double dice again and again.  
I'm actually surprised I haven't blogged about them sooner.
They were well worth the investment. 

I thought I would use them in games, but turns out that they were better suited for my classroom
for practice problems..... They turned monotonous practice into something fun!

Certain topics and basic skills (fractions, exponents, integers, formulas...) require review and repetition in the resource room and "another worksheet" just won't cut it.  The students need hands-on kinesthetic learning to motivate them and keep them engaged.

I made a few Double Dice practice sheets for my classroom and am sharing them on TpT...
 check them out below!

(I will be posting my fractions & geometry practice sheets soon! )

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


LISTENING: I have been listening to Christmas music on my TV lately.  It makes much better background sound than Vanderpump Rules and Housewives.  

LOVING: Starbucks Verismo black friday!

THINKING: Almost there...can't wait for Christmas in the Caribbean (cue Jimmy Buffett) with the fam.

WANTING: A Snow Day. Pretty self explanatory. 

NEEDING: Love Fabletics.  Their pants are way cheaper than Lulu and seem just as good quality so far!  I got a sweater, cute chevron tights, and tank top for like 30 bucks.  I think it is my new addiction. Here is a link to join if you are interested....   

GIVING: Feedback. I am looking for new ways to give meaningful feedback to help my kids grow!

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Let's talk about one of my fave apps.... Subtext.

What is Subtext?
Subtext is an awesome app that allows students to annotate, collaborate, and interact with a text in new and exciting  ways.  I love it.   It is a wonderful way to read informational text and practice annotation skills.

According to the subtext website it is....
"An eReading program for K12 schools, Subtext is an iOS app that brings reading to the digital world where today's students live, play, and learn. When educators embed questions, discussion prompts, polls, videos, and web links in digital text, students begin to read closely and with purpose. "

How I start using Subtext?
1) Find an online text that can be incorporated into your lessons.  Any online text can be easily converted into a Subtext article for students to read.  There are also articles pre-uploaded and offered on Subtext as well as an option to purchase longer texts.

2) Decide how it will be best used in the lesson. This can be used as a class activity or at home as a flipped classroom activity.  Students annotate text with the option to share annotations with teachers or the class. It works best as an ipad app but also works on the internet.  

3) Set expectations for the students and clearly model.  Clearly model how to navigate the app on an iPad and on a computer and set behavioral and academic expectations (see tips below).  There will be some troubleshooting since it works differently for make sure to do it together.  Once the routine is set, the app will be easy to incorporate for the rest of the year.

What subjects can I use Subtext in?
Students read articles and books digitally and interact with the class about what they are any subject that you can read text for!

I have used it in... 
Gifted and Talented:
  • for research and discussion about project topics

Social Studies:
  • in-class reading assignments for discussion and debate
  • Flipped Classroom reading and interaction about the curriculum unit

Language Arts: 
  • guided research for argumentative essays (provided articles on the app)
  • novel study (The Outsiders)

How do you guide students in using SubText?

1) Have strong expectations for digital citizenship using the app.  This is something my district already has in place and student have signed contracts for, etc.
2) Since I am making a strong push for annotating and close reading text this year, I created an Annotation Guide (available on TpT)
3) Make sure to model usage of the app and the different views.  Viewing and interacting on the app looks different when you compare it on the iPad vs. a computer.  Make sure they know how to best navigate both.  We usually model every time we use it.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Class Logo Design Unit

As our gifted and talented introductory unit, 
I asked the students to made decisions how we want to "brand" our class.  

The unit worked SO well and has so many possibilities 
that I decided to make the product available on TpT....
and I truly think it can work in any type of class (not just for Gifted and Talented)!

Check it out here!: 

About This Unit:
Each class works through a guided unit to design their own class logo. The students work in partners, small groups, and finally collaborate as a whole group.

I developed this unit for my gifted and talented students to design a logo to communicate their class personality, purpose, and goals. I have used this unit with grade 4-7. It can be used for any subject or level of class.  I think it would be an awesome beginning of the year unit, but this year I did the unit later into the year.

The picture above is one of my 6th grade students' preliminary design ideas.  This is a rough draft and you can see their notes written on the page as they collaborated and made decisions.

The students complete guided research and take steps to design and redesign a logo.
The unit contains 8 pages of worksheets for students and 1 page teacher guide.

Included in this Unit:
♦ Page 1: I present this information as a whole group mini-lesson.
♦ Page 2-5: Students will work independently or with a partner to research following QR links or website links.
♦ Page 6: Students will work in small groups (teacher assigned or student chosen) to design 4 logo options, referencing their tips and research.
♦ Page 7-8: Students will present their 4 design logos to the class. The class will provide them feedback on each design and vote for their favorite from each group. The group will then take the feedback and the results of the vote and redesign ONE logo into a final copy, writing a paragraph to explain. I then hang these final copies around the room for a learning walk. Students in the class vote for the final logo winner!
♦ Page 9: Teacher Guide

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