Saturday, December 22, 2012

Classroom Kindness Ornaments

After searching the internet for an ornament activity to do with my middle school students, I was unable to find anything that wasn’t geared towards younger children. So, I decided to create a lesson to do with them that could be educational and also create a keepsake to hang from the tree.

Students write compliments to their classmates, and their words of kindness are turned into an ornament.

My 8th grade students loved the lesson and ornaments, and I was able to work out all the kinks before sharing with you!

I am also excited to announce that I have joined the world of TeacherspayTeachers.  I originally had the opinion that teachers should just be generous and share their work with others for free, out of the goodness of their hearts.  Surprisingly, A LOT of lessons are free (including this ornament one), but the ones that do cost are definitely worth it.  After seeing the quality, I now understand the time and effort that went into the activities, lessons, posters, etc. and definitely think the teachers who created them deserve to be compensated. 

I doubt  I will be charging for anything anytime soon, but am kind of excited to have a new outlet to possibly earn some extra moula.

~Mrs. Scott

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Online Games for Middle School Language Arts

I love having student computers in my classroom, but because there are only two, I have been at a loss with how to let students use them so that they are relevant for 8th grade English.  Anytime a student finished early the only website they knew to go to was, and while I am sure there are great math games, it just didn't feel appropriate for them to play during my class. 

I found tons of elementary-oriented website for helping with reading, spelling, and phonics, but secondary games are hard to come I searched harder.

I have spent some of my free time  (hah!) during the past few weeks looking for games that are fun to play, but also address objectives my students need to know and may also struggle with.  I added my "finds" to my classroom website for students to access and thought some of you may want to use them as well without having to do the legwork. ;)

So, here they are...  If you know of more please share with us in the comments!
For each answer you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, and grades.

It's Greek to Me Game:
Identify definitions by using clues found in words' roots while playing in the Olympics.
Professor Garfield Reading Ring:
Wrestle your opponent by answering comic strip questions.
Professor Garfield Learning Lab:
Watch videos and play games from Garfield.
Interactive mysteries teach problem solving
Rooting Out Word:
Help Remainder the Dog gather enough mushrooms to sell at the market by uncovering the roots of words.
Plural Girls:
Twin sisters Pearl and Flora lost their friends in the bubble machine. Help them get their friends out by choosing the correct plural form of the given word.
Word Confusion:
Help Regan the Vegan make fresh salad. Choose the correct word to complete each sentence.
Grammar Gorillas:
Our friends, the Grammar Gorillas, need help identifying parts of speech. If you click on the right word in the sentence, our friends get a banana. And you know, a gorilla with a banana is a gorilla with appeal.
Spell Check:
Can you check the misspelled word??
~Mrs. Scott

Saturday, November 17, 2012

School Shirts & More for a Cause

I haven't talked about my middle son, Deacon, on here before.  He is two and a half and has already been through quite a bit in that amount of time. He has been diagnosed with autism, epilepsy, and visual impairment.  You can read Deacon's story HERE on my family's blog.

Because of these disabilities, we are working extra hard to give Deacon the best future possible.  As you can imagine, this doesn't come cheap. Between doctor visits, therapy, tests, gluten-free diet, medication, and taking off work for these things (in addition to having two other children), we are stretched pretty thin. 

Needless to say, we are THRILLED to begin our fundraiser for Deacon!!  The main reason for our enthusiasm is because an AMAZING company was willing to help us out:

I stumbled across their website a few years ago and loved their products.  Their personalized shirts were perfect for an upcoming photo session we had scheduled, so we quickly ordered!  They arrived promptly and turned out adorable:

I thought about the website a couple of days ago and figured I would take a shot and see if they would be willing to help us raise money for our sweet guy.  Kristy and Michelle responded the next morning and were happy to participate! 

So, with the holidays quickly approaching, may I suggest Luna B. Tee's for your shopping needs:

They have a ton of personalized products for children, pets, teachers, and family members. 

Including festive holiday shirts,
 baby gifts,
and what I thought you might like, school shirts!  (We teachers could always use an adorable shirt to wear on Jean Fridays!)

Best of all: they are giving YOU a 10% off discount for shopping, while still donating 20% of orders to Deacon!
They also run "Deals of the Week," where selected items are $10 off!  One item this week is personalized clipboards. 
 They also have pillow cases, cutting boards, and water bottles.   So for any of these special deals, you get:
 $10 off + 10% off + 20% donated to Deacon

Start shopping now to get orders in time for Christmas presents and pictures!!  (Orders are guaranteed for Christmas if purchased by December 4th, 2012)

To get YOUR discount and donate 20% to Deacon, be sure to enter this coupon code at checkout:

Thank you in advance for your participation!  I can't wait to see pictures of you and your little ones in their new outfits!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You Danger

I have recently discovered Scholastic Scope Magazine and LOVE using it to teach lessons in my language arts class!  While you are encouraged to purchase subscriptions for each student, Scholastic's website allows you to view issues and project the pdf in class.  (If your school has EBSCO access, you can also find printable versions there)  As an added bonus, they provide curriculum that accompanies each article that address junior high TEKS.

I recently used the above article for a persuasive writing lesson in my class that the students loved.  The article is about how kids risk their lives to video tape crazy stunts to post on youtube and poses a question about youtube's responsibility.

I started the lesson with a video clip from youtube that the kids found hilarious = the perfect hook:

Then we read the article as a class.  At the end of the article students are asked to choose a side on whether youtube should ban stunt videos and support their opinions with textual evidence.
As an extension Scholastic provides a step-by-step guide that walks students through writing an argument essay.  I didn't use these, but there is also a transition guide and an argument essay checklist.

The rest of the magazine is fabulous as well, so you will probably see more blogs in the future about other cool stuff I find in there.

~Mrs. Scott

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Classroom Management: ClassDojo

I stumbled upon this fabulous website last week that helps with classroom management. It is completely free, and is perfect for tracking student behavior, especially those in special education/behavior program.  Their adorable video explains it better than I can.

Student Introduction to ClassDojo

Wasn't sure if it would be too babyish for my 8th graders, but have been reminded yet again how much junior high students appreciate this kind of stuff! They are totally into seeing how they are doing throughout class and adjust their actions accordingly, and many have gone home to modify their monster. I am planning to do some type of reward system each week for students with the highest number of points, but haven't quite decided the logistics.

~Mrs. Scott

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Quizlet: A new way to study

I seriously have my roommate from college, Tracey, to thank for earning a college degree.  And not only for walking across the stage, but graduating Magna Cum Laude. 
I was not a good student before I met her, and God only knows how I even made it into a four year university with the grades I made in high school.  My gpa didn't even put me in the top half of my class...  I never learned how to study.  I was a decent test taker, but that was more from paying attention in class than studying for the test itself.
My freshman year at Sam, Tracey was the flashcard queen.  She made flashcards for every test and used them to study.  We, along with our other two roommates were in the same History class and decided to study together.  We each would take a chapter before the exam and create flashcards on that chapter then share them with each other.  I quickly discovered that I am definitely a visual learner and begin to use the flashcards in every class for every exam.  When I graduated, Brian and I lit a huge fire in our fireplace and burned what I thought would be the last set of flashcards ever.
Little did I know, even "grown-ups" have to study for tests sometimes.
I have taken 3 certification tests since entering the field of education (PPR, Math 4-8, and Sped EC-12).  Recently my new principal asked that I also get a Generalist 4-8 certification so that I could pick up another section of 8th grade ELA (I was only teaching resource ELA and Reading prior to that). 
So I registered, scared to death about passing.  I knew the Math would be easy, since I have taught that for a few years, and was also comfortable with Language Arts, but the Science, and ESPECIALLY Social Studies had me nervous. (I know, most people are Math/Science, or ELA/Social Studies, I'm a freak...)
So anyways, at a workshop, I recently learned about a new website that would have been perfect while I was in college:


Quizlet is a free website that lets you create flashcards.  Even better, you can view flashcards that other people have made over the same topic and "steal" them, then delete or add to flashcards from that set to help you out.  You can then study or test yourself and play games with the flashcards.  There is even an app for your phone, so you can study on the go without needing to print (which you can also do!).

I passed my test with even higher scores than I have made on any of my other certifications!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Video Maker

I am so excited to be the Student Council sponsor at my new campus!  We have televised morning announcements, giving me the chance to advertise for the club in a new way: through video!  I had no idea how I was going to create an ad, and spent hours on youtube trying to steal someone elses work without any luck.

Fortunately, I stumbled upon Animoto, a FREE video creating site.  And when I say it was simple, I am not kidding.  I made two 30 second videos in about twenty minutes.  They already have slideshow templates to choose from and a huge library with music.  You just type in what you want it to say and it does the work! 

I don't think I will win any advertising awards, but they turned out pretty darn good:

I love this site so much, I am going to have to find ways to add it to my lessons, either by the students creating something or during instruction!

~Mrs. Scott

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Youtube Converter

I recently discovered that my new campus has youtube blocked during school hours. I show videos with my lessons almost every day and sometimes teachertube just doesn't have what I need.

After searching the internet for hours yesterday to figure out how to download videos (youtube doesn't allow you to), I stumbled upon a website that will convert youtube clips to mp4's that you can save to your computer to show later. All you do is paste the url and hit convert! No account registration or cost!

Click here for the link

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Character Movie Clips

We are teaching Cornell Notes at school this week and a coworker shared her plans for modeling the structure of the notes using movie clips on a site I'd never heard of. WingClips is an amazing (and free!) website with movie clips that "illustrate and inspire." There are hundreds of categories/themes on their page with snippets from movies that demonstrate the characteristic listed. The movies are current, relevant, and SAFE!

One of the vocabulary words my students learned today was camaraderie, and I was able to teach it showing clips from Forrest Gump and Coach Carter:

If the website is blocked at your campus, they also have a downloading feature, so you can save the clip at home to show in class. And as you can see there is also the capability to embed the video (great for powerpoints)!

~Mrs. Scott

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Classroom Management Bingo

I'm BACK!!!

I started a teaching position in a new district and it has opened up tons of fabulous resources to learn about. And I have so, so, so much great stuff to share! If only I had the time to get them all on here, but I will do my best.

First up is actually an idea that was inspired by pinterest, a weekly bingo card to help with classroom management. I didn't find any online that said exactly what I needed it to, so I just made my own through excel. I thought I would save you the time and effort by sharing an editable version to meet your needs.

So here you go:

Click here for editable document

~Mrs. Scott

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Trailers

Earlier this year a colleague and I attended a couple of ELA conferences. Both conferences spent a large amount of time talking about book trailers and how fabulous they are. We were sold by the time we left and thought we would try it as a lesson for our tutoring groups. Basically, book trailers are a lot like movie trailers: trying to get audiences interested in checking it out by giving enough of a hook without giving away the ending. It teaches almost every objective for our junior high students, but can also benefit elementary and high school students. By the time our project was complete we covered: plot structure, foreshadowing, inferencing, tone, mood, main idea, summarizing, planning, drafting, editing, point of view, and persuasive writing.

We introduced the project by first showing them some book trailers we found online:

Students used Photo Story to create their trailer and had no trouble navigating the fool-proof program that lets you upload and edit images, add music, voice, and text, and decide the transition between slides. Here are a couple of my favorites:

The kids had so much fun and really took pride in their work! The entire project took about 2 weeks (3 days a week for 55 minutes).

Below are the materials we gave students to get started. (Hopefully they download/print for you. I have never used this program before! If not, email me and I will send you the documents.)

Book Trailer Requirements

Book Trailer Rubric
Plot Structure

~Mrs. Scott

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine Themed Ideas

Here are some pretty awesome websites for your class to visit during the chaos that accompanies this sweet holiday.

Word Hearts - This site creates a heart-shaped word cloud. Would be great to brainstorm a list of things kids love or adjectives that mean love.
Valentine Word Drop - players must unscramble the words before they hit the bottom of the screen.

Heart Sudoku
My Money Valentine - Game is played like the online lemonade stand, but with an amorous twist

Starfall Connecting Words - elementary students can learn about connecting words while creating their own Valentines

Heart Writing - Don't let the foreign language throw you off when you enter the site. Simply type a paragraph into the box and choose "layout text" to create your own heart.
Counting Candy Hearts - reinforces number corelation in lower elementary

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Plate Tectonics

Science is by no means my area of expertise, but I am helping to tutor students in the subject. I think being a novice in a subject works as an advantage sometimes, because it is easier to see it from a fresh perspective. This week we worked on plate tectonics.

Like always, I found a videos to start with. (Our district has an account with, so I showed that one first. If your district doesn't have an account, they need to get one, or you need to write a grant! They have bunches of videos, mostly aimed at the secondary level and are quick and a little funny.) The other video didn't have much of a lesson with it, but the kids were entertained:

The art teacher at my school was nice enough to lend some supplies to me execute my idea. I borrowed clay and we built boundaries. I love my kinesthetic learners!
They had so much fun with the clay!
...and each one had their own way to illustrate their understanding.
~Mrs. Scott

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Surface Area

We recently learned about surface area. For some reason, this is always a hard concept for students, and then add in some funky formulas on the formula chart and it totally throws them for another loop. I prefer just to teach them how to find the area of each side and add them together.

I like to start lessons with a brainpop video or youtube video/song. Sometimes you get some good ones, other times they are a little cheesy, but still memorable, like this one:

I thought it might be fun to do something different than just drawing a picture of the sides. We pulled out some paint and 3-dimensional shapes and stamped the sides instead!

When the posters dried (we used a hair dryer borrowed from the nurse), we started measuring and calculating!
~Mrs. Scott

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wii in the Classroom

My husband and I bought this game some time around my first year of teaching 8th grade math: As soon as we started playing I realized some of the games had objectives that I had been teaching in class!

Ordering Numbers:
I had the bright idea to unplug my Wii and take it to school! I think it was the most engaged my class of 35 students had been all year! Since then, I make a point to have "Wii day" a couple of times a year and the kids could not be more excited!

I have looked on Amazon and found a couple of other educational Wii games, but haven't bought any yet. Maybe future grant?

ThinkSMART appears to have games best for high school:
Science Papa lets you explore chemistry, biology, physics, and paleontology through science experiments.
Reader Rabbit has a couple of games for early elementary grades (I think I saw Pre-K through 3rd grade).
My Word Coach looks like it would be great for GT and high school classes, but may be a fun warm-up for a typical middle school classes too.

Jump Start advertises being great for ages 5-9.As if you haven't seen this show! Upper elementary classes would love this:
We recently bought an XBox Kinect for our son and may have to start checking out games for that too! If you know any other games, please share!

~Mrs. Scott