Archive for the ‘English Language Arts’ category

m is for mockingbird

May 25, 2017

mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine is one of my favorite novels—you smile, laugh, sniffle, cry. We developed a unit and a discussion and activity guide for mockingbird, which stand on their own or work together. Both products are grounded in best practice and use a wide variety of strategies that include step-by-step guidelines for implementation as well as handouts that facilitate that implementation. Our research and our work with classroom teachers over the years indicated to us that sharing how to implement best practice saved teachers time and increased the use of best practice in the classroom. Our goal with all of our products is to engage students and facilitate implementation for teachers.

mockingbird Discussion and Activity Guide includes:

  • Teacher Activity and Discussion Guide (34 pages)
  • Emotion Face Chart and 16 Emotion Face Cards for Forming Student Groups
  • 8 Summative Assessments
  • Personal Dictionary Project
  • Student Literary Log
  • PowerPoint Slide Presentation (109 slides) and PowerPoint Teacher Guide 25

mockingbird Unit Plan includes:

  • Instructional Plan for the unit
  • Caitlin’s Phrases Lesson Plan
  • Setting Analysis Lesson Plan (Part 1 & 2)
  • Character Analysis Lesson Plan
  • Fabulously Fun Theme Thursday Lesson Plan: Part 1, 2, & 3
  • 10-Second Rule Game for Chapters 1-14 and for Chapters 15-27
  • Mini-Assessment Project
  • Caitlin’s Rituals Lesson Plan
  • Figures of Speech Lesson Plan (Literal vs. Figurative Language)
  • Quotes Activity: Fact Checker Lesson Plan
  • Friendship Lesson Plan
  • Blooming with Knowledge—Mini-Projects for Mockingbird plus Rubric
  • Literary Log for Students

SALE 20% OFF May 26-27 mockingbird Discussion and Activity Guide and Unit Plan

Unique Approach to Teaching Esperanza Rising

June 14, 2016

Esperanza Rising

As many teachers know, novelty catches students’ attention. Once you have students’ attention, readiness for learning increases. This was our thinking in creating enrichment activities for Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Food plays an important role in this novel, literally and figuratively. Enrichment Activities for Chapter Foods are designed to increase students’ connection to the novel through food. There are two or more activities for each chapter. Activities are connected to the food in the chapter title and/or foods mentioned in the chapter. Each lesson plan also includes Chapter Connections, which help students think about the significance of the foods in each chapter and find connections of those foods to their own lives. There are suggestions for preparing food for student sampling and additional resources connected to the various foods. The food activities are fun and may introduce students to new foods or honor the foods of their families.

Product Contents:

  • 14 Individual Lesson Plans (1 per chapter)
  • 1 Culminating Activity: Chat Stations Activity
  • 1 Chat Sheet
  • 7 Chat Stations Questions Mini-Posters
  • 12 Food Cards for Forming Student Pairs, Trios, and Quads
  • Permission Letter to Parents/Guardians
  • Common Core Standards and Best Practice Connected to this Novel Study
  • 1 PowerPoint with 58 Slides

For more resources and ideas, check out our Pinterest Board.

Surviving to Thriving LjL: Pinterest Board on Esperanza Rising

Here’s a list of some of our collaborative work:

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio
  • Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Son by Lois Lowry
  • The One and Only Ivan
  • The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

Visit our Teachers Pay Teachers Store!

 

Spread a Little Kindness and Avoid Teacher Burnout

April 6, 2015

Quotation-R-J-Palacio-right-choice-Meetville-Quotes-221996

According to Ben Johnson, author of 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout, making someone’s day by extending a small kindness is another step to avoiding teacher burnout. His suggestions include calling a parent or guardian to share something good about a student; complement a struggling student on something he or she is doing well; or just show gratitude to a staff member with a note, hug, or even a small gift. Here are 11 more ways to spread kindness for you and your students:

  1. Set up an appreciation day for custodians, school secretaries, bus drivers, or administrators.  Ask your students to write a thank you statement.  For example, thank you Mrs. Smith for keeping our classroom clean; thank you Mr. Brown for getting us to and from school safely; thank you Miss Thomas for saying hello to us when we come to school, etc.  Place all the thank-you statements in a large envelope and deliver them.
  2. Bring treats in for the staff on a Monday morning.
  3. Buy a dozen roses from the grocery store and give 12 staff members each a rose.
  4. Send a note to someone on your staff that has shown you kindness or has helped you.
  5. Surprise your students with a fun activity.
  6. Explore the resources listed below and commit to doing some of the acts of kindness with your students.
  7. Smile at your students and your colleagues.
  8. Organize your professional books and materials and give a new teacher books or materials you no longer need, but still have professional value.
  9. Leave a generous tip the next time you dine out.
  10. Call someone who has been in your thoughts.
  11. Watch the movie, Pay It Forward.

Below are some excellent resources and ideas for you and your students to consider when choosing kind. Wonder is a great novel that deals, among other things, with the power of kindness. Consider it for a read-aloud for your students. Check out our unit and read-aloud guide on Teachers Pay Teachers.wonder book bites

Resources for Spreading Kindness

15 Random Acts of Kindness

The Great Kindness Challenge

Conspiracy of Kindness

134 Random Acts of Kindness

Acts of Kindness Student ActivitiesSurviving to Thriving TPT

50 Random Acts of Kindness

Avoid Teacher Burnout: 6 Ways to Take Care of Your Health

March 15, 2015

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To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise

we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. Buddha

 

How many of you made New Year’s resolutions connected to taking better care of your health? Eat healthier, exercise often, and sleep more! And, yet somehow those resolutions haven’t morphed into new habits. It may be that that we need to strengthen our willpower and it may not be as hard as we think. According to Dr. Kelly McGonigal, “Being mindful of the present moment improves a wide range of skills, including attention, stress management, impulse control, and yes, being self-aware of feelings and urges. Not only does it change how the brain functions, it physically impacts the structure of the brain to support self-control” (Migliore, 2015, p. 33). Being mindful is often associated with meditation and deep breathing exercises, which seem an easy way to increase our resolve, our willpower, to do those things that keep us healthy.

Teacher burnout is caused by many internal and external forces, one of those forces is physical health, which we have some control over. Taking care of your health is Step 2 in avoiding teacher burnout, as suggested in Ben Johnson’s article: 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout.

Here are 6 suggestions to consider regarding taking care of your health:

  1. Meditate and practice deep breathing for 15 minutes a day.
  2. Do one thing to improve your diet: eat breakfast, drink more water, eliminate one unhealthy food, etc.
  3. Take a 20-minute walk daily.
  4. Take a 15 minute power nap (preferably not during class).
  5. Improve your bedtime ritual and commit to sleeping a healthy number of hours.
  6. Add a physical activity to your weekly schedule that you really enjoy: hiking, biking, dancing, aerobics, karate, yoga, bowling, tennis, golf, walking the dog…(power reading doesn’t count).

One way to find the time to take care of your health is to have on hand some units you love teaching and students love learning. I always think you should save one of your best units for the end of the spring semester. If you are newer to teaching, you might not have that unit developed yet or if you have been teaching for a while, you might have already taught that unit. Give yourself a break and look at some of the wonderful curriculum materials available online. My colleagues and I work hard to create teacher materials that are easy for teachers to implement and engage students. Check out our store Surviving to Thriving LjL on Teachers Pay Teachers. Here’s a list of the novels for which we have developed curriculum materials. Now go take a nap or a walk!

The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenSurviving to Thriving TPT

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Son by Lois Lowry

References

Johnson, Ben. (April 22, 2014). 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Edutopia.

Migliore, L. (Spring 2015). The science of strengthening willpower and summoning self-control. Brain World. Issue 3, Volume 6, pp. 30-32.

Resources

Set Up For Sleep

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linden-schaffer/set-up-for-sleep_b_5605957.html

Sleeping Tips: 7 Ways To Get To Bed Earlier Tonight

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/02/sleeping-tips-earlier-bedtime_n_3359469.html

Start Reading Aloud to Your Students Today!

March 3, 2015

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You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.  Dr. Seuss

March 4, 2015, is World Read Aloud Day and it’s a great day to start the habit of reading aloud to your students. Read a news article, the first chapter of a book, fiction or non-fiction, a poem, magazine article, whatever is at hand. Think about starting a lesson by reading a picture book related to your topic or the first paragraph of last night’s reading assignment. Reading aloud to students of all ages is powerful.

When I taught an American literature class to high school juniors, I realized that reading aloud poems, short stories, essays, and novels caught the attention of the students and kept their attention. It allowed me to stop and explain words, reread beautiful or intriguing passages, ask and answer questions, and check for understanding. And, I and the students were always on the same page.

Listed below are some resources to check that support reading aloud as well as tips for reading aloud. At first, it may be a little daunting to start reading aloud to older students, but once you start, your confidence builds, you don’t worry about stumbling over or mispronouncing a word, you start to use your voice differently for characters and/or for emphasis, and you begin to really enjoy reading aloud as much as your students enjoy hearing you read aloud.

So, in honor of Read-Aloud Day, read aloud to someone!

For those of you who are already reading aloud to your students, you may want to look at our Discussion and Activity Guides, designed for reading aloud, for Catching Fire, Son, The Fault in Our Stars, The Giver, and Wonder.

Teachers Pay Teachers:  Surviving to Thriving LjL

Resources–Reading Aloud

http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/

http://www.readwritethink.org/professional-development/strategy-guides/teacher-read-aloud-that-30799.html

https://www.teachervision.com/skill-builder/read-aloud/48715.html

Resources–Picture Books

http://theeducatorsroom.com/2013/08/picture-books-for-high-school-theyre-not-in-kindergarten-any-more/

https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/top-10-picture-books-for-the-secondary-classroom/

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Written by L. V. Neiman

 

Banned Book Week – September 22-28, 2013

September 25, 2013

What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist. Salman Rushdie

If there’s one American belief I hold above all others, it’s that those who would set themselves up in judgment on matters of what is “right” and what is “best” should be given no rest; that they should have to defend their behavior most stringently.
Stephen King

Although there are those who wish to ban my books because I have used language that is painful, I have chosen to use the language that was spoken during the period, for I refuse to whitewash history. The language was painful and life was painful for many African Americans, including my family.  I remember the pain.  Mildred D. Taylor, The Land

BBW_shortlist_120x180

I wonder if those who ban books read those books.  I wonder if those who ban books understand that banning a book just makes it that more desirable.  I wonder why anyone would think they are the ones who should decide what we read and what we should not read.  Sometimes I just wonder.

This week is Banned Book Week.  It’s a great topic to discuss with your students, your colleagues, your friends, and your family of readers.  If you are wondering what to read next, check out the list of banned books for 2013.  Check with your librarian for additional lists of banned books and probably lots of engaging activities that focus on banned books, censorship, and freedom.  Check out the ALA Store for products that call attention to banned books.

Ponder why any book might be censored or banned and to what purpose.

Freadom13Poster_11x17

Hunger Games Unit medium-645401-1

Resources

American Library Association

http://www.ala.org/bbooks/

American Library Association Store

http://www.alastore.ala.org/SearchResult.aspx?CategoryID=269

Banned Books Online

http://www.digital.library.upenn.edu/books/banned-books.html

Banned Books

http://www.adlerbooks.com/banned.html

Phillips Library-Aurora University

http://libguides.aurora.edu/content.php?pid=63503&sid=2134998

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

http://www.abffe.org/?page=BBWPosters

Characters, Authors, Friends

September 11, 2013

Reading isn’t passive–I enter the story with the characters, breathe their air, feel their frustrations,
scream at them to stop when they’re
about to do something stupid, cry with
them, laugh with them.
Reading for me, is spending time with a friend.
A book is a friend.
You can never have too many.
Gary Paulsen

As I was reading yet another book by Victoria Huston, it struck me how much I enjoy her characters, her plots, and her writing.  And, how comfortable it is to read a book where you already know the characters and you can depend on a good story written in a style that resonates with your sense of good writing.  It’s like being friends with someone you don’t see on a regular basis, but when you do reconnect, you simply pick up where you left off.

I love when I discover a new author and take off on a path to locate every book he or she has written.  What’s better than finishing one book and picking up the same characters in the next book!  I just downloaded John Sanford’s latest book with Lucas Davenport, a character I have known for a long time.  Who is waiting for “W” (Sue Grafton) and finding out what Kinsey Millhone is doing?  Jack Reacher is still one of my favorite characters, so reading Lee Child is just a good time.

Then there are those books that are part of a series:  Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Lois Lowry’s series, culminating with Son, Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, Lord of the Rings, etc.  While I have never been one to reread books (I always feel like there are too many new books to read), I have two sons, now grown men, who would read and reread and reread their favorite series.  Now I have an eleven year old granddaughter who loves to reread her favorite books.

My theory is that we read books by the same authors, and sometimes reread those books because there is a feeling of comfort that emerges when we are among those characters, plots, and authors who become part of our reading life.  Simply, they are best friends and always available.  Who are your favorite authors and characters?

Many of the book we have featured in our Teachers Pay Teachers store are books that have become part of our reading world–whether it is the inspiration found in Wonder and Mockingbird or the adventure in The Hunger Games and Son, these are the type of books that leave an impression on both students and adults.

Hunger Games Unit medium-645401-1           Son Book cover      Mockingbird medium-776321-1     images


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