Bulletin boards are NOT my thing. They always seem so nice looking, but they also seem like a waste of time to me. Jen shows me these crazy put together boards from pinterest. And, I just think to myself that I just don't have enough minutes in my day to spend hours redoing the boards around my room or outside my classroom (I am lucky enough to have one right outside my door). Boards that provide a dual purpose, or teach, make sense to me.
This is the board in the hallway outside my classroom. I've set it up so I can change the work as often as I want, but it only takes a few minutes to to do. Even my middle school students love seeing their good work on display!
First we placed some globes and the Liberty Bell inside circles. I wanted to make them super sturdy so we also placed them onto cardstock.
For even more durability I laminated them!
Jen got a chance to hot glue for me (she loves it). On one side we placed the circle. I used the Liberty Bell for my history students, and the globe for my Eastern Hemisphere students.
One thing I have learned is that the clothespins need two tacks on them. It keeps them from slipping on the board.
Here is how it looks without student work on it!
Here is how it looks like again with all of the work on it! The best part is, it only takes minutes to change the work on it and it becomes an all new board!
After we learn vocabulary words and add them into a vocabulary folder the students create their own word wall tiles. I really like the neat word wall posters that can be found all over pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers, but there is just something about putting up student work all over my classroom that I enjoy even more than cute posters!
Usually at the end of a unit, or maybe halfway through if it's a long unit, we create these word wall tiles for our vocabulary words.
There are three rules to them:
1. The poster has the vocabulary word.
2. The poster has a definition for the word (kid friendly, we take them from our KIM charts).
3. The poster must have a picture of graphic clue for the word.
Tim changes his up a bit. His students place the word and picture on the front and the definition and sentence example on the back.
Here is what it looks like in our classroom! It is such a great way to share student work and use a best practice strategy (word walls)! Students really enjoy seeing which tiles make our word wall!
I love using reader's theaters in my middle school social studies classroom. They really allow the students to become a part of the history and experience things. It also fits in perfect because our school is an art magnet school. So, we try and incorporate the arts into all of the subjects in one way or another!
How do we use them in a middle school classroom?
First, we read through at a low voice level - reading to themselves. Then, they can read through at a voice level 1 or 2 (whisper read). After that they get together with the rest of their castmates and actually begin reading through the play together; picking parts and adding voice and emotion to the words.
You may notice that the way we practice the plays mimics the close reading strategy...that was done on purpose! The students get to act out the history they are learning and also practice their reading skills- a win/win for everyone!
Depending on time and the group we will continue to act out the plays and they perform them at the end of the class period! Some groups are more willing to perform than others!
These reader's theaters are available in our store! They have leveled parts so the students can be assigned just right parts!
Vocabulary acquisition is so important for any student, but even more so for students in poverty. We use two things in our classrooms for vocabulary (for all of the subjects in my classroom, or just social studies in Tim's classroom). First, we use explicit teaching of the vocabulary along with a vocabulary folder, and second we use student created word walls!
For vocabulary instruction in my room I mix, or mesh, Anita Archer's explicit teaching with Marzano's vocabulary strategies.
First, I say the word (volcano). Then I place my hand out and have the students repeat the word (volcano). I repeat this as needed to make sure there is correct pronunciation.
Second, I give a definition of the word (a volcano is an opening, usually on a mountain or hill, that has molten/hot/liquid rock come out of it). I usually repeat the definition a few times depending on the looks on faces.
Third, I use it in context or explain how it pertains to our lesson. (today, we are going to read about a volcano and how the molten rock comes out of the volcano).
And last, I have the students turn and tell a partner the word and a definition for the word. As they are telling each other I listen and observe to gage their understanding.
We then place the words into our vocabulary folders. We have one folder for all of our vocabulary words. But, to make it easy to find, each subject is printed on a different color paper. Then, the students can find the subject quickly and easily.
I have used multiple ways to keep all of the papers together. We've spiral bound them, we've placed them in binders and we've placed them in folders. It depends on the year and the materials available!
Click HERE for a free copy of the KIM charts!
Stay tuned for my next blog post which will be about student created word walls.
We've been learning about the government in 8th grade US History. I tend to spend a little bit longer on this than most because I think it's really important for young adults to get interested and take an active role in their government (plus, middle school kids really, really, get into rules and rule forming!).
We've been learning about the Great Compromise of 1787. It's a hard concept for the students to envision at first. In a typical middle school mind there is a winner/loser and someone should be right or wrong.
We were discussing how some states wanted everything based off of population and some wanted it by states. I could see the blank looks on their faces. So, I pulled out an analogy that I knew would get them for sure- pizza!
Think of it this way. You and a friend want to order a pizza. You only have enough money for 1 pizza. You want pepperoni, your friend wants sausage (envision heads nodding now). Do you decide not to get pizza? No, of course not. You order a half and half pizza; a compromise!
We then went on to discuss that that was exactly what our founding fathers did. They ordered a half and half pizza. The big states that wanted everything by population are the pepperoni lovers, and the small states that wanted everything by states are the sausage lovers. They both got what they wanted, it was a compromise!
Here is the graphic organizer that we used when discussing this!
If you are interested in any of the items I use to teach Secondary Social Studies check out our store!
Yeah! It's that time of year again; it's a sale on Teachers Pay Teachers!
Don't forget to put your code in to get up to 28% off of products in my store and other stores!
The sale starts Wednesday, the 25th, with an extra day on Thursday! Let's get shopping!
You may have noticed the nice little picture of Tim in the last post (Intervention in the Secondary Classroom). Tim and I both love this website, and our blog together, but, as he is growing as a seller/blogger we decided we needed to make it easier to tell who was blogging. We will continue to place both of our products on TpT under my name; it just works out easiest for us at this time! But, you can decide if the blog post is just right for you by looking at the picture on the left!
So, let's talk Common Core Math Intervention. Now, I get the whole uproar over the government telling us what to teach (I said I get it...doesn't mean I agree or disagree). But, I really have, personally, enjoyed the switch over to Common Core Math standards. I really get the progression of them.
One of the main reasons I think I get them so well is because of a great idea that Tim had that I created last summer. I was leveling books for my classroom library - I know, real exciting summer vacation! - and I was remarking on how it is SO easy for me to teach each of my students reading concepts at their individual level (we use Fountas and Pinnell's levels along with reader's workshop). I just wished there was an F&P for math. So, Tim being Tim, said "why don't you make one?"
What a great light bulb moment! So I created these, easy to use intervention assessments for my students. There are 4 quick questions that are grade level appropriate. At the beginning of a unit I pull out this pre-test and we spend a few minutes at teacher group time (I do math workshop) taking the pre-test for the unit. I also pre-test for the actual CC strands, but this just gives me an overall idea of where the student is struggling.
For example, if I give Julie the pre-test for 4.NBT.4, which happens to be adding multi-digit whole numbers, and she fails it I don't know what part of adding is hard for her. Can she add two digit numbers, three digit numbers, etc. By giving her the addition leveling test I can see where she is on the spectrum of adding. Same goes for Steven that gets 100% of them correct. How far forward should I take him? By giving him the leveling test I can tell if it's just 4th grade adding he really understands or if he needs more challenging 5th or 6th grade adding.
How do I use the data? These intervention tests let me know on the spectrum of learning where the students are. It helps me form guided math groups and how much remediation/extension work I need!
If you are interested in seeing these intervention leveling assessments click here to go to my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Jen does RTI ALL the time. Intervention is just a given in an elementary room. And, it's part of our teacher evaluation- Kindergarten teachers all the way through Honors High School. This got me thinking.
What would intervention look like in a secondary room? Especially a subject like Social Studies! It's not really a subject that builds from one year to the next. How can I provide intervention for my students and more importantly (at least when it comes to the end of year evaluation....), how can I show that I provided intervention?
I guess I should back up and talk about the point of intervention. In my opinion, it's taking a student from where they are and getting them to where they need to be. It's easy to see that in reading and math (at least for me). If they need to be able to add 4-digit numbers, but they are struggling with 2-digit numbers, then the obvious step would be to work on 2-digit and then 3-digit adding before moving onto the 4-digit adding they need to be doing.
But, I teach social studies in a middle school classroom. My subject is not really one that adds on to itself, or is it? The 8th grade students I have were supposed to learn about early American Explorers and the American Revolution in 5th grade. During the first week of school I gave them a quick assessment to see how much they remembered from 5th grade. Well, unfortunately it was not much. So, I put together a review unit to start off our first few weeks of the school year. Which worked out great because we were also learning a lot of routines and things, so the academics didn't have to be as heavy.
That is one way that I do intervention with my curriculum. But, I also conduct individual intervention for each of my students (yes, I have 120 students and I do intervention for every single one!). The great thing about intervention is that it looks different for each student.
For some it might be an extra question or chance to summarize reading. For another it's a phone call home with some extra encouragement on their participation in class (or sometimes the opposite; a phone call for their lack of participation). I'm also really lucky in that the teachers eat lunch with the students, then they get break time (recess, but for big kids) for 30 minutes. This is technically my duty free lunch time, but I usually eat with my students. So, I use my lunch time to reteach concepts, have students make-up work, and even have them re-take tests that they were not proficient in. No, I don't do this every day or I would burn out, but I do have certain days set aside for this.
I know that I'm doing all of this intervention. But, I decided I needed a way to keep track of it for the end of the year (it's also great to have the documentation for student meetings, parent meetings, etc.). So, I created this binder to store all of my interventions.
I don't have time during the school day to keep track of things. So, I jot down the student's name and the intervention that occurred. Then, every few days (or when I remember) I take those post-its and transfer them into the binder.
Click HERE to go to our Teachers Pay Teachers page to get this freebie to use in your classroom.
Tim is super excited to share a resource that he has been using in his Social Studies Classroom for years! As a secondary social studies teacher, who has no textbooks for his classroom (don't even ask how that happens...) he has had to become creative to show his students history and geography.
And, if you ask him now, he'd rather teach using pictures and real documents than have to use the textbook (although don't get him wrong, having a textbook would be nice, especially for guest teacher days and make-up work!).
Where does he find his materials to share with his students?
Of course, you can start with google and just type in whatever your subject is. That is the no-brainer. But, there is a great resource from the US National Archives that has lots and lots of those documents just ready to use in your classroom.
Go to http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/ it looks like this:
This works great for history classes and classes like geography (there are tons of great maps and the present day section offers a lot for non-history classes).
If you want some ideas on what to do with the pictures once you find one, take a look under the analysis worksheets section (on the right hand side of the page) and some great educators that work for the National Archives have provided some ideas for you and your classroom!
Tim loves to find historical pictures for his 8th grade US history classes and great pictures of history and everyday life for his Eastern Hemisphere 7th grade classes. The students really enjoy looking at these genuine artifacts. It really places them in the time period or foreign country!
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