April 27, 2014

Hocus Pocus, Keep Them Focused! GIVEAWAY

We all know that teachers have magic powers.  From eyes in the back of our heads to super-sonic hearing, we are a talented bunch, I tell you!  But this time of year, spring fever has hit, and with the end of the year in sight, we all need a little extra magic to keep us going!  So, in the next few weeks, I’m joining with my favorite intermediate teachers to put a little extra magic in our lessons and keep students engaged.

Credit goes to these talented graphic & font artists: Krista Wallden, KG Fonts & CC Fonts.

We will be swapping resources that will be just what we need to keep our students engaged during the final weeks of school.   We want to share our finds with you in a fun way – a 2-part blog hop giveaway!

Today, we present Part 1, with each blogger introducing the resource they selected to keep their friends engaged and learning in our final weeks together.   Then, over the course of the next two weeks, we will be using these resources in our classrooms.   On Sunday, May 11, we’ll be back to report on how well these resources kept our students engaged!

I was lucky enough to be paired up with Jessica from I Heart Recess!  I took a look in her store and fell in love with her "Gearing up for the Test: 3-5 ELA Review Game".  With our state tests around the corner, I thought that this product would be a fun way to keep students engaged before testing! Her product includes a board game students can play that reviews the following CCSS reading skills: context clues, theme, main idea, text structure, text features, making inferences, point of view, and character traits. I can't wait to tell you how it goes with my students!

Test Prep: Gearing Up for the Test ELA Review Game for 3-5

Now to the giveaway!   Here’s what you need to do:
Stop by each blog below to check out the resources being swapped.

Enter to win the resource that is featured at each blog in the raffle below (the same raffle is at each blog, so you can just add to your entries as you go!).

While you are at each blog, if you’re not a blog follower already, sign on to follow!  (You can earn bonus entries for following all blogs once you unlock the additional entries.)

One winner will receive the entire set of resources being featured by ALL collaborating bloggers!

Here’s the list of blogs to visit: 

Swap Stop A
Teaching FourthTeaching with Blonde Ambition
Swap Stop B 

Fifth in the Middlehttp://thebrownbagteacher.blogspot.com/

Swap Stop C 


Swap Stop D 


Swap Stop E 


Swap Stop F 

One Lesson at a Timehttp://www.commoncoreandsomuchmore.com/

Swap Stop G 


Finally, don’t forget to stop back in two weeks!   On Sunday, May 11, we’ll all be back to share with you how the magic went in our classrooms!   Oh yeah, you might want to know that that there will be a SECOND GIVEAWAY, too!  Until then, enjoy the magic and happy teaching.  :)

April 26, 2014

New Blog Design

I just wanted to take a second to thank the wonderful Megan Favre from A Bird in Hand Designs for my amazing custom blog design! I am absolutely in love with it! :)

Just for fun, and to spread the cheer, I will give away three copies of my newest product, "Poetry Analysis Booklet 2" to the first three people to comment below (please include your email address).

Have a fabulous weekend, and don't forget to swing by my blog tomorrow for a huge multi-blog giveaway!!!

April 18, 2014

Test Prep: Part 2

So, I recently posted Test Prep: Part 1 to give you some insight into what I do to prepare my students for our state testing!....Make sure you check it out if you haven't already.  Part 1 is more about the serious things we do to prep.  Now, for Test Prep: Part 2....the fun stuff!

Language Arts Olympics
In addition to what I've mentioned above, and the research papers we started this month, we will have a "Language Arts Olympics" this Friday and the following Monday (which is the day before the reading OAA).  Students will get into groups and work together to answer a wide variety of questions that address the standards we have covered this year.  There is a tentative gold, silver, and bronze medal team after the first day of games.  However, things can change during the second day!  I use the certificated found in the set below to award my students on the top three teams.

Test Prep Story

Testing Miss Malarkey is a humorous book, and it makes a great to read aloud before or after state tests. 


Test Prep Songs
(since the videos are a little grainy, see the links below them)

Every year in the weeks leading up to the test, I play the following "12 Power Words" rap for my students. Then, I give them a handout with the lyrics.  My students get into groups and I encourage them to create their own beats to read the rap to.  We practice for a week straight, and then during the second week, each group gets a chance to perform for the class.  I try to make it extra special by selecting a group from each class to present their rap to the rest of the school on our morning announcements.  They love it!

Lastly, I cam across this little gem recently, and I am planning on showing it to my students soon! They all love the movie Frozen, and I'm sure they'll get a kick out of this! :)

Test Prep: Part 1

Ohio's state testing, the dreaded OAAs, will begin soon. It's crazy how testing seems to sneak up on you every year!  When April rears its head, I always end up on the Ohio Department of Education website to select some released test questions for my students to practice.  We generally do a practice assessment each week on a Monday, students self-grade it on a Tuesday, and after I look over their answers Tuesday evening, they are given a sheet with their percentages and check marks for the skills they showed while completing their practice test.  So, all in all, my students will take four "practice tests".  We've currently completed three, with only one left before testing week! Mind you, I only select two texts a week.  I don't want to bog my students down with too much practice.  However, I think it is very valuable for them to practice completing a test. For example, they will get use to having a separate test booklet and answer document to write on. I truly believe my students will be more confident the day of the test due to the practice we've done in advance. 

1. Students take a practice test

*First, I will start by saying that the OAA practice assessments' questions, at least in my mind, are not as rigorous as many of the questions we have been practicing throughout the year.  Many of my students are amazed at how my "find it" type questions there are, where they can simply find the answer in the text, versus having to analyze what they've read. I know that we will be using the  PARCC assessments next year, and I have heard that they will be quite challenging. 

2. Students self-grade their assessments

*I think it is VERY valuable for students to be able to deconstruct their own short answer and extended response questions.  It allows them to see their work from the eyes of an assessor.  They can better understand what they've done wrong if they ended up missing a point.  

*The checklist I use with my students also encourages them to use evidence from the text and to explain the evidence in their responses.  I have seen such an improvement in my students' short answer and extended responses this year. I am incredibly proud of their work!

*When we go over the test questions together, I make sure to demonstrate the verbs used in the questions and how students need to make sure they are answering what is being asked.  I practice this skill throughout the year with our "I can..." statements.  I always call on students to further explain our "I can..." statements, so they get used to breaking down harder words, such as "identify" and "infer".  I am also planning on using my Super Words posters to review these terms one last time this coming week.

3. I check over responses and write down student percentages and give them check marks for the skills they showed while completing their practice test

*Even though this is time consuming, it is worth it!  Students are able to see their growth over the weeks.  It is also good to check off skills students are showing for encouragement.  I also try to make it fun by giving students small prizes for reaching certain amounts of check marks.  

Click below for a copy of my chart/checklist!

I will be posting Test Prep: Part 2 soon!