Get your students excited about research with these seven steps.

              Research should be fun!  Yet it often involves restricted topics, rules, and requirements that can limit a student’s natural curiosity and enthusiasm.  Encourage students to follow their questions by implementing simple, small research activities about topics they are curious about. Go Old School:  Use Research Notebooks I loved making these upcycled notebooks from my last post, and I decided to use one of them to create what Cal Newport describes as the “Feynman Notebook.”… Read more »

Upcycle school supplies to create a fun notebook or journal.

    The end of the school year is wonderful and exciting …except for the waste. Rather than having students chunk their partially used notebooks into the recycling bin, have them upcycle them by creating new notebooks.  Students can create their own reading journals for the summer! Earth Day was just a few weeks ago, so students just need a gentle reminder that one of the 3Rs is “reuse.”  This project can reuse a cardboard box (like a cereal or… Read more »

Host a Teach-In to Celebrate Earth Day!

Earth Day ♥ Earth Day is a wonderful celebration, and perhaps your school is extending activities for more than one day.  But, we all want every day to be Earth Day!  That’s why extending Earth Day into a “teach-in” is a great way to end the year. What’s a Teach-In…Sounds Hippy-ish Get out your love beads, fringe vest, headband, and hop into the wayback machine!  Teach-ins were part of the 60s protest movements that also included sit-ins.  Started in university settings,… Read more »

Improve digital literacy: teach students how to fact check with these easy tools.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” Those opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities seem wildly accurate in describing the our own digital age — especially when it comes to our students. Students most definitely need help in navigating the wealth (and swamp) of information available on the internet — a good place to start is fact checking. A few years ago… Read more »

Refresh your semester with these three ideas!

My favorite yoga teacher, Melanie, likes to say, “The left side is the side of wisdom.” Meaning that after you’ve held that grueling series of poses on the right side, you are now going to hold them on the left…and you know what’s coming!  Calling it “wisdom” instead of “dread” is certainly a more positive attitude! This month’s teacher talk topic is about how the second semester of school is like “the side of wisdom.”  We know our students, we… Read more »

Create a fun journal jar for your students.

A journal jar is a great way to offer students choices during writer’s workshop or journaling time. I’ve always loved using a journal jar.  In the past, my journal jar consisted of topics written on strips of paper and stuck into a jar.  Students could pick a slip, glue it to the top of their journal page, and write. That was great except that I had to remember to replenish the jar.  Even though it sounds easy, it was one… Read more »

Use a Writing Scheduler to keep writing projects under control.

Remember September?  When the school year stretched out before you — lots of time to do lots of teaching. Then, suddenly, it’s January.  Testing (might be) looming in the near future, you have a pile of standards to get through…why are there so many daily distractions that keep us from teaching content material?!  And let’s not even talk about flu season! If you’re an ELA teacher, you may be looking at the modes of writing your students need to master… Read more »

An easy way to organize writing projects.

There are a few things you can count on for January:  resolutions (made and broken!), the flu season, and ads promising ways to (finally) get you organized. The organizational promises are the ones that are always so tempting.  Who wouldn’t like their closet/garage/pantry to look like something worthy of Pinterest?! Classroom organization is no different.  Keeping track of handouts, extra copies, lessons, books, student work… Today I want to share just one, simple organizational technique I’ve used with great success.  It involves… Read more »

How to help students self-assess their growth.

Each January, my husband and I measure our kids and mark their growth on the doorframe.  The kids huddle around the door to see who has grown the most — such a gratifying experience!  My son told me one year, “I didn’t think I’d grown at all this year.  But I did!” The joy of looking back and assessing our growth never grows old!  As teachers, we may look back on our first year in the classroom (or first month)… Read more »

Fun writing activity to keep students engaged during the holidays.

It is difficult to keep students’ interested in content material during the holidays!  That is something we can count on! Lisa’s awesome blog post about reindeer stories shows how using an engaging topic can get students excited about writing. My favorite middle school writing prompt is:  Dear Santa, Please Take Me Off the Naughty List.  Students begin with a problem:  they are on the naughty list.  They must convince Santa that they don’t belong there by: 1) addressing the problem 2)… Read more »