December Facebook Frenzy

Saturday, December 7, 2013

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I LOVE the generosity of everyone over at TpT! I know I already told you about the 200 freebies in the TpT Holiday Ebook (If you haven't had a chance to see that, check them out here.)

While you're collecting fabulous freebies, don't miss out on the December Facebook Frenzy, where you can find OVER 200 freebies from K-12, music, and clip art! That's over 400 freebies in one weekend.. you may need to go out and get a new flash drive!

First frenzy? Here's how it works:

       1. Click the picture below.

       2. Choose a grade level/subject to start with. Clicking the                      thumbnail will take you to the first Facebook page.

       3. Click the blue Facebook Frenzy tab. 

4. If you already like the page, skip this step and continue to step 5. Click the "like" button in the upper right corner of the            page to access the freebie. 

 5. Once you like the page, click on the thumbnail of the           freebie! It will begin to download. Then click the snowman to continue to the next stop! Continue until you've collected all of the freebies! 

*Remember, many freebies work for multiple grades, so be sure to check out grade levels around yours to get everything you need

How do you keep track of/organize all of the freebies you get during the hop?! I'd love to know!
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Add some wonder to your listening center!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

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I have a listening center in my classroom, but honestly, I didn't love it.. and neither did the kids. My 5th graders are wonderful readers and really don't need any help with fluency, so listening to our anthology stories on CD is dreadful for them. I had been wracking my brain trying to come up with something more meaningful that's also fun for the kiddos. 

I. Found. It. 

Have you ever heard of Wonderopolis? Until last week, neither had I. I have no idea how it slipped under my radar! 

Here's how it works: 

  • Every day they post a new "Wonder of the Day". There is an AMAZING selection, over 1,100 wonders to choose from! An added bonus, you can search wonders by topics, grades, and Common Core!
  • I think each wonder of the day has a video (I haven't watched all 1,115 of them). The videos are VERY high interest and approximately 3-5 minuets on average. 
  • There is also a brief article. You have the option of listening to it being read with highlighted text. The one weakness is that the read aloud isn't fluent.
  • Under the article, there is a "Did You Get It?" button. The students take a quick (3 question) comprehension quiz. 
  • There is also a vocabulary component! Take the "Wonder Word Challenge" - students have to match vocabulary words from the article with their definitions. 
  • There are also "Try it Out" and "Still Wondering" sections offering a variety of related ideas, recipes, other sites, games, interactives.. the list goes on and on!

Needless to say, after HOURS of playing professional development, I decided to give it a try as our *new and improved* listening center. We tried it as a whole class and then as their center for the week. I had a secret comment box for students to put their honest opinions. Here are some direct quotes from my 5th grade critics: 

"I like Wonderopolis better than the CD because there are so many wonderful stories and articles. It teaches you things you didn't know. I had fun with the game and the quizzes. I LOVE WONDEROPOLIS!"

"Wonderopolis is miraculous. The CD just told us the story and let's face it, was boring. This tells us a lot about really fun topics."

"I loved Wonderopolis because of the choices we have of really exciting topics and activities. It is incredible, has a lot of learning, and is FUN!"

It was unanimous, all 22 of my kiddos loved Wonderopolis! I created a quick little Wonderopolis page for my kiddos to use at the center to hold them accountable, which you can download for free on Google Drive here

Try it out! I would love to hear how you would use it in your classroom! 

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TpT Holiday Ebook!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

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Looking for some fabulous (FREE) holiday activities?

TpT sellers have created a phenomenal holiday gift to show our appreciation for all of you fabulous TpT members! Check out the TpT Winter Holiday Tips and Freebies Ebook! Each page was made by a different seller and includes a holiday teaching tip and link to a FREE holiday product!

There are four books total, divided by grade level. Click the links below to grab them all!

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"Less reading workshop.. more workbook pages."

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There was a palpable sense of shock, mixed with despair, anger, and a touch of sadness, among my peers as I shared this comment with them. 

If you walked into my classroom during Reading Workshop, you would see students relaxing on the rug, sitting under a table, or in the corner, buried in a good book. My co-teacher (also a reading specialist) and I can be found conferring with individual students. We discuss their books, making inferences, connections, predictions, evaluating characters and events, the list goes on and on. The conversations are deep and meaningful. They are also completely individualized, geared to the specific needs of each child in my room. 

If there is less reading workshop and more workbook pages, what will my ELA block look like? Struggling students who are frustrated, further reinforcing their distaste for reading. Advanced students who are bored, becoming complacent with their performance and never experiencing a true challenge.

Funny enough, I am embarking on a research project, which will likely become my doctoral thesis, about exactly the opposite. The working title is (get ready for a mouthful) How Independent Reading of Self-Selected Texts Impacts Struggling Readers. I have been researching this topic for about a year and have read countless articles supporting models like Reading Workshop. 

Less Reading Workshop.. more workbook pages. My head just might explode. 

Three years certainly doesn't make me a veteran teacher, but I am not discounting my experience either. It is deeply saddening that teachers who are well trained, with advanced degrees and experience are not trusted by decision makers. We do not need workbook pages and scripts to teach. Left to our own devices, we are very capable of effective teaching.

One thing I do know is that we should be focusing on developing innovative students with critical thinking skills and fostering their motivation to become lifelong learners. We are not doing that. Not with workbook pages. Our kiddos will not grow up to become professional bubble fillers. We need not instill in them that learning is memorizing facts, multiple choice questions, free from struggle and failure. 

One of my kiddos, a self-proclaimed "non-reader" told me just last week: "I finally found a book that I like. I can't stop reading it! Can we read for a just few more minutes?" 

HOW am I supposed to say no to that?! How am I supposed to tell my students that they have to put down their beloved novels and pick up their pencils to mindlessly practice filling in workbook pages?

Isn't this going backwards?
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