Archive for the ‘Literature’ category

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

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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: Learn Something New

March 23, 2015

You can learn new things at any time in your life if you’re willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you.  Barbara Sher

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There is something about doing or learning something new that is invigorating. Sharing that experience with your students is another way to avoid teacher burnout according to Ben Johnson, in his article: 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Johnson suggests sharing a new book you are reading with your students or learning about how the brain learns and sharing that. Here are five things to consider connected to doing and/or learning something new.

  1. Go to a large bookstore and browse through their magazines. Choose a magazine you probably would never even look at, let alone buy. Buy it and page through it; look for connections to your own life and/or work.
  2. Read A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink—lots of ideas and suggestions about looking at life differently.
  3. Choose a genre of music with which you have little or no experience. Share some of this music with your students and get their opinions about it.
  4. Try a new recipe every weekend and report back to your students what you tried and whether or not you liked it.
  5. Learn to do magic tricks. Share your magical ability with your students—but no disappearance acts for you or them.

One of the things I did when I was working on a master’s degree in literacy is to share new things I learned about literacy and new learning strategies with my high school students. I would tell my students that I am trying out this new learning strategy with them and after we use it, I want their opinions about how well it worked for them. This was stumbling into magic—students took the new strategy very seriously and then shared their critiques. It was awesome!

I also discovered that students love to learn about their brains and how they learn. There are so many reliable resources online connected to the brain and learning. Recently I pinned an infographic on Movement and Learning that summarizes the benefits of movement in the classroom. As for adding more movement to your classroom, again there are many resources available including brain breaks that are fun and still serve the purpose.

As my colleagues and I create teacher materials for Teachers Pay Teachers, we always include activities that get students up and moving. 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.

Movement and Learning Infographic

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 by Katherine Applegate

References

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

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

 

Who Doesn’t Love a Field Trip?

February 21, 2014

“A good zoo,” Stella said, “is a large domain. A wild cage. A safe place to be. It has room to roam and humans who don’t hurt.” She pauses, considering her words. “A good zoo is how humans make amends”.  –Katherine Applegate, The One and Only Ivan

When you hear the words, field trip, what comes to mind?  I immediately go back to fourth grade and going to Proctor and Gamble to see how soap is made.  And, coming home with samples—WOW!  As a kid I loved those field trips to factories to see how things were made.  Maybe it started with a visit to the Kool-Aid factory with my Dad, who drove a truck for an electrical construction company.  Every summer I got to ride along with him while he made deliveries to the electricians and one day, it was the Kool-Aid factory.  And I did come home with lots of samples—the envy of the neighborhood, but I digress.

For those of you who are teachers, when you hear the words, field trip, you may think about all the planning, coordinating, and hoping the buses are on time.  Another thing to think about is 8 Ways to Liven Up the Museum Field Trip by Stacey Goodman.  Goodman offers several great ideas to prepare students to get more out of field trips.

While spring does not feel like it is around the corner in many parts of the country, planning a spring field trip can make it feel closer.  If you are planning a field trip to a zoo, reading The One and Only Ivan now might be a great way to prepare your students for that trip.  It’s a wonderful story, gently raising issues about the humaneness of zoos.  Check out our unit plan and free bookmarks for The One and Only Ivan!  Good luck planning those field trips!

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/liven-up-museum-field-trip-stacey-goodman

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-One-and-Only-Ivan-Unit-Plan-1053796

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-One-and-Only-Ivan-Free-Bookmarks-1054840

Ivan Bookmarks

Ivan Cover

goodman-museum-field-trip-flickr

The Reason I Jump

January 18, 2014

You can’t judge a person by their looks.  But once you know the other person’s inner self, both of you can be that much closer.  Naoki Higashida

I just finished reading The Reason I Jump, written by a thirteen year old with autism.  Reason I JumpIt’s a quick read that will stay with you for a long time, especially if you are a teacher or someone connected to a child with autism.  Listed below are just a few quotes from this amazing book:

“But, like everyone else we want to do the best we possibly can.  When we sense you’ve given up on us, it makes us feel miserable.  So please keep helping us, through to the end” (Higashida, p. 42).

“I want to grow up learning a million things!  There must be countless other people with autism who have the same desire, the same attitude.  But our problem is, we aren’t capable of studying by ourselves.  To be able to study like other people, we need more time and different strategies and approaches. And those people who help us study, they actually need more patience than we do.  They need to understand our eagerness to learn, even though from the outside we may not appear to be keen students.  But we are.  We, too, want to grow” (Higashida, pp. 81-82).

“The person who’s suffering the most is the one who’s causing all the headaches for everyone else—that is, the one with autism” (Higashida, p. 100).

While Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine is a work of fiction, it also takes the reader into the world of a child with Asperger’s, an autism spectrum disorder.  Another novel about an adult with Asperger’s is 600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster.  Both engaging novels.

For teachers, we have developed an extensive unit plan for Mockingbird.  The more students learn about the differences among people, the more they learn that we are all more alike than we are different.

Higashida, N.  The reason I jumpThe inner voice of a thirteen-year-old boy with autism (Translation) (2013). New York, Random House.

Mockingbird medium-776321-1

600 Hours of Edward

Mockingbird Book


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