Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Things I Steal From Social Media

Stole this idea from someone on Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter/somewhere. It was hanging the last four weeks of school. It once got up to three days.

That was the Tuesday after Memorial Day. Back to zero by second hour.

Do you want to build a snowman?....

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Favorite Dinosaur & Shared Absurdity

I make my students do A LOT of drawing. Not only that, I often require that the drawings include dinosaurs.

This is for a few reasons:

  • By making the last question of a quiz/test a random dinosaur drawing, it helps them to relax a bit and maybe remember the answer to that question that was just beyond their recall.
  • By making the last question of a quiz/test a random dinosaur drawing, it forces them to slow down a bit rather than rushing through - and more likely to look back over their answers before considering themselves finished.
  • By making the last question/part of an assignment a random dinosaur drawing, it forces them to slow down a bit rather than rushing through - and more likely to look back over their work before considering themselves finished.
  • They enjoy it. Even the ones who complain about it are quick to point out in disappointed fashion when I don't include a required dinosaur drawing.
  • The shared experience of absurdity draws them closer together - there is actual research on the shared experience of absurdity, check it out people!
  • It makes the course more memorable (remember that child development teacher we had freshman year who always made us draw dinosaurs?).
  • And of course, my own personal amusement!
All this to introduce one of my favorite dinosaur drawings of the past school year:

I love when they draw me! How great is that?

It's also nice to know that clearly I strike terror into the hearts of all, even dinosaurs. Love the look on this dino's face.

And now that I've drawn you in (hopefully), here's a little TED talk on that shared experience of absurdity research - watch it! Trust me, it's worth it!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Folder Crates

Quick one today - several people have asked where I found the crates that I use for my folders (see here and here for info on the folders).

Originally I purchased them at Amazon, but at the time I was able to get 7 of them for less than $26; now they're over $10 each, eep!

However, if you go directly to the company that sells them, they are $5 each with free shipping right now, and I personally think they're definitely worth that.

I'll also mention that these particular crates apparently fit perfectly in the Thirty-One utility tote that is so popular amongst teachers these days, a great way to keep files organized in your super-cute bag! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, click to view the organizing utility tote that's all the rage right now on the main website, or support a fellow teacher who "deals" bags on the side over at her blog, The Caffeinated Teacher (great teacher blog by the way, even if you're not interested in the bags!).

This pic is from late November - well, must have been November 22nd to be exact, given that I have a picture of President Kennedy displayed. You can see how the folders begin to show their wear toward the end of the semester (and there's always one that gets WAY more love than the others, as you can see from #9 here).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Thank You Notes

I think that the thank you note has completely fallen by the wayside, and it is a perfect metaphor for our ever-lowering standards of civility. In my small corner of the world, I am waging a war to bring thank you notes back.

PART I - ME (You gotta "be the change," you know!)
First of all, I ALWAYS have thank you notes available in my classroom. This way whenever a colleague or a student is deserving of appreciation, I have them on-hand and can deliver promptly (instead of repeatedly forgetting, not that I ever forget things... repeatedly...). Some of them are plain old generic notes that actually have "Thank You" printed on them, some are just super cute FACS-y cards like these:

Nice recipe cards also work well for thank you notes:

And then of course you've seen my personalized cards before.

Never underestimate the goodwill you can create simply by taking the time to write out a thank you to someone who has helped you out! And again, this applies to students as well!

I work a one-day unit on thank you cards into at least two preps each year, sometimes more. Here's a typical lesson outline for this:

Bell-Prompt: Describe a time when someone actually acknowledged something nice you did for them, and how it made you feel.

Intro: Discussion of the importance of saying thank you, the effect it can have on a relationship, what happens when you let an opportunity to show appreciation slip by, when are thank yous expected, etc, etc, wherever the conversation leads you.

View: One or two "Thank You Notes" segments from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. I think the biggest hit from this year was this Thanksgiving segment.

Model: Appropriate format - heading, thank you, reason for thank you, closing, signature.

Practice: Have the kids write out one or two "funny" (but school appropriate!) thank you notes, and share with the class. (One of my favorites from this year: Thank you, Metabolism, for letting me totally pig out all the time and not gain any weight. I will miss you some day. Love, djfskjksld)

Action: Give kids actual thank you notes, and have them write a thank you note to the teacher/staff member of their choice. Stress appropriateness; also, specificity. If any concern at all, let them know you will be previewing them as part of your instructions. A lot of the kids kind of groan about this, but they can all think of at least one person who has done something nice for them. And, the teachers and staff LOVE receiving these! Goodwill fostered all around!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Back to School Shopping Finds & FOLDERS!

So by now you must have all seen something like this:

It is that time, my friends - put on your game faces! I've received many requests to purchase the documents that I use with my folders (see related post); I've been working on it, and now nearly all are available from my TPT store. All items are either $1 or free - not looking to use my profits to retire early, just a little pocket change to help hedge the costs of the folders!

And speaking of folders, be sure to buy your supply FOR THE YEAR NOW! This is the only time of year that the price is reasonable; it will skyrocket in mid- to late-September. 

The ones I used last year were three-pronged, two-pocket paper folders. They are currently available in a variety of colors at WalMart for 15 cents (soon to be 50 cents!). Again, buy for the year, not just the semester (and if you'll recall, I did need to replace all of them at the semester - totally worth the expense, though!).

If you'd like something a little sturdier, Target is selling the same folders with a coating (not the polypropylene ones, just coated) for 15 cents as well:

Think through how you're going to use, store, and distribute them, because a coating will make them a bit slicker.

I personally would not go with the actual polypropylene folders, for a couple of reasons. One, they are MUCH slicker, and since I fan them out for students to retrieve they would constantly get knocked on the floor (if you don't know what I'm talking about, read my folders post). Two, even though they are WAY more durable than the paper ones, my bet is several of them would still need to be replaced at the semester mark, due to losses, dog bites, teenager bites, etc. Buying two folders per student at 15 cents each is still cheaper than one poly folder at 50, let alone two polys at $1. But enough with the math!

While at Target, if you teach anything child- or reading-related, you may want to swing by the dollar section and pick up some of these kid-sized totes with images from the hungry, hungry caterpillar! 

Back at WalMart, I'm happy to share that they have the crates that I so adore in more colors:

I have used these for color-coding class binders (back when I used binders rather than folders): 

After moving to folders I began using them to organize class materials (again, through color-coding).

My final find was this canvas tote with a "Periodic Table of Text Messaging," in the accessories department at WalMart. In my communication unit in Adult Living I do a lot with the advantages and pitfalls of texting as a communication method, and this would make a fantastic prop!

Those are some of my finds - what great things have you been stumbling upon the past few weeks?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Where to Find Me

Hello all!

Just a quick note to tell you that I'm having a little trouble renewing my domain registration. If you access this blog through and it suddenly stops working, I'll be back over at:

 Hopefully the issue is resolved soon, but just in case!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Nutrition Word Sorts!

Here's one I've had sitting in my draft folder since August 25th! Sheesh!

Studying to be a Reading Specialist has a LOT of perks, not the least of which is a whole new bank of ideas for activities!

To introduce the beginning nutrition unit in my foods class, I created a "Word Sort" activity. First, I assigned groups by having them draw colored plastic Easter eggs (LOVE these things!). Since the regular classroom area only has individual desks, I wanted them to work on this task in the kitchens where they would have a large counter space. Also, getting everyone to stand up would get those kinesthetic associations firing. The color of the eggs they drew determined which kitchen they would work in.

Each group was given an envelope with 19 nutrition-related words. They were told they had to decide as a group how those words should be arranged. I told them that there was no right or wrong in this activity, they just had to be able to explain to me why they did what they did.

Then I walked around so that I could listen to them discussing how to organize the words, which gave me a TON of insight into not only their background knowledge on the topic, but also into each students' cognitive abilities and ways of reasoning (massively important in August, am I right?). Also gave me a great idea of what the working in groups dynamic would be like with this class.

Here they are in action:

Yeah, I know the disembodied arms and hands are a little creepy. When they were satisfied with their arrangements, I told them that I would visit each group and they would need to explain to me the choices they made. Again, I emphasized that there was no "right" or "wrong" in this scenario, we're just trying to figure out what might make sense based on what we already know. I gave them a little time to decide which group member was going to say what to me before I went over. Here's what they came up with in this class:

Pretty interesting results! They all had intelligent explanations for the majority of their choices, which revealed quite a bit to me about what they were bringing into the class with them.

When I had talked with each group, I had them rotate around to look at how other groups had chosen to organize the words. This led to some even deeper conversation, peppered by statements like "Oh, I see what they did there!" or "Why didn't we think of that?" or "I like what they did with these words over here, but ours was better with these words" etc.

I was really happy with this activity as a jumpstarter for learning about nutrition, and the kids seemed to really enjoy it as well. Everyone has some knowledge about at least a few of these words, so it was an activity that everyone could contribute to, rather than just one or two people dominating the conversation. Taking away "right" and "wrong" definitely took the pressure off of them to do it RIGHT, so they could take risks. The dialogue helped me to get a really nice picture of my students as learners as well as their social skills. And, the metacognitive task of having to explain their thinking to their group members and then to me got those brains fired up and ready to go!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Someone Understands...

You simply must check out this post over at Teenagers Are Ridiculous. Your very soul will feel validated by the mutual understanding.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bloom's Taxonomy of Apps!

Today's entry is just sharing an incredible resource.

This is amazing - Bloom's Taxonomy of apps!

If you check out this link, you'll get this image in an interactive PDF, with links to all of these apps!

And this link will tell you all about this awesome resource. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"New" Home Ec

Read a nice article about specific FACS courses being offered in a variety of states - check it out here!

I have two trains of thought on this article. The first one is that I like some of the ideas in it - a combination strength training/conditioning/nutrition class would be fabulous! I work the topic of physical activity into my foods lessons quite a bit, but we don't engage in any REAL physical activity as part of the class. It would be pretty great to sincerely combine them all. Something else that caught my attention was a free curriculum about the food system developed by Johns Hopkins University. I have not looked at it yet, but going over it is definitely on my to-do list. The food system is another one of those concepts I incorporate along the way but feel like I should be doing more with it - and when you say FREE that tends to get my attention!

Here's the second thought. It's beginning to annoy me to see so many articles about the "new home economics," how it's "not just for Suzy Homemaker" anymore and that the students do "more than just bake apple pies" (quotes from various articles over the past several years, sorry not documenting). Um, this is WHAT WE DO! It's not some brand-new, new-fangled, revolutionary idea that just popped up in a couple of schools over the past year. Seriously, what's with these "journalists" who can't do an iota of research about what's really going on in FACS classrooms and instead just write from a place of their own general impressions and stereotypes? I'm thrilled that these classes are in the news and that the ideas from them can be shared, I  just wish that the "news" world wouldn't perpetuate outdated schemas about "home ec."

Regardless, hope you enjoy the ideas and resources from the article!