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TGIF . . . Friday Freebie!

Here's a Friday Freebie that works as well at the end of the year as it does at the beginning of the year! Because it's both ELA and STEM-aligned, it will work fabulously in a variety of classes and grade levels!

Get your camera ready . . . this activity provides lots of opportunities for wonderful classroom photos!

Happy Building!

Rest in Peace, Maya Angelou

I don't assign the adjective "Hero" to very many people, but Maya Angelou was a true hero who spent her life making this world a better place.

Educator, author, literary giant, and social activist extraordinaire, Maya Angelou worked tirelessly for equality.

I cherish so many of Maya Angelou's words, it's impossible to choose even a few favorites, but I will share a few of her most poignant quotes here:

Rest in well-deserved peace, Maya Angelou. Your presence on this earth will be dearly missed.

Silent Signals: Cups

As a literacy teacher, I work really hard to teach my students that when their reading does not make sense – when the meaning breaks down -- they cannot just keep going. They have to stop and repair the meaning, which means going back to where the reading last made sense and starting from there, using strategies to ‘fix the meaning’ as they move forward.

One difficulty reading teachers face on a daily basis is finding the time to assess students’ thinking and understanding. We do not know what students are thinking unless they tell us – so we don’t always know when the meaning has broken down for students -- and many students will not verbalize their confusion or lack of understanding. The older students get, the less likely they are to help us know when they are confused and need support. In fact, many students would rather appear belligerent than appear confused . . . which often leads to behavior problems. Students act out as a strategy to mask their difficulty grasping academic content.

One resolution to this dilemma is providing students with silent signals they can use to communicate that they need help. Just as many of you already do with behavior management, using silent signals is a fabulously effective strategy to use with literacy! Silent signals allow you to monitor many students at once. They also provide a safe and non-threatening way for students to communicate with you without the risk of drawing too much unwanted attention from their peers.

Silent signals also help students be more engaged in their reading and teach them to use metacognitive skills (thinking about their thinking) more effectively.

One silent signal you can use effectively with literacy is to provide each student, table, or group with a set of red, yellow, and green cups. Students move the cups to indicate their understanding of the passage being read.

Green = I understand this well.
Yellow = I’m starting to get confused. Can we talk about this?
Red = I’m totally lost and I need help. Can we stop and back up?

Providing students with silent signals helps them assess their own thinking and understanding and it helps you assess several students at once so you have a better understanding of when to keep going and when to stop and provide your students with help and support!

Happy Reading!

Do Your Students Really Know About the Library?

I daresay most of us encourage our children and our students to use their local libraries . . . but do our kiddos really know about all the resources available at their libraries? Here’s a quick list of little-known resources that are available at many public libraries . . .

Download e-books. Most will expire in three weeks, just like hardcover books, but libraries have thousands of e-books just waiting to be discovered! Many libraries also have Kindles or Play-Aways for the borrowing . . . help your students learn about e-books so they can lighten up their backpacks and delve into new books by their favorite authors!

Download free music. There may be a limit, such as 3 songs per week; however, the music is in MP3 format and usually does not expire!

Download free movies. Most libraries also have hundreds (perhaps thousands!) of movies that are iPhone compatible. Of course, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs are also an option.

Mobile Phone Apps. Log in to your library’s website 24/7 to find a plethora of unique and interesting apps you can download to your phone!

Laptops. Do you have students who do not have access to a computer or a laptop at home? Some libraries have laptops to check out, which can be especially helpful if your students have a big research project due soon!

Homework Help. Many libraries offer online homework help that is available 24/7. The helpline is staffed by experts who can help reduce homework frustration and increase homework completion!

Practice Tests. Build your confidence and reduce test anxiety by logging on to the library’s web site 24/7 to prepare for the ACT, SAT, GED, Praxis and more!

Genealogy Research. Almost every library has excellent genealogy research programs that can be accessed at no charge!

Expert Training. Most libraries offer workshops taught by experts at little or no cost. Common workshops include creative writing, creating your own videos, knitting, gardening, career planning, job searching . . . the possibilities are endless! Everybody’s an expert at something . . . talk to a librarian about presenting a workshop on your area of expertise! What a great resume-builder!

Hang-Out Space. Many libraries offer coffee cafes, game rooms, dens, or some kind of hang-out space for young people to spend time with their friends. You can even reserve meeting rooms or work rooms to meet with study groups, work on research projects, host a knitting club, watch a movie, or hang out with friends for an hour or two.

What else can you check out from your local library? Many libraries have unusual items you can borrow. For instance, some libraries offer the following items for checkout:

'Zines, Graphic Novels, and Comic Books
Electronic gadgets, such as cameras, scanners, and printers
Musical Instruments
Crafting Supplies
Therapy Dogs
Tools . . . such as gardening tools, wood-working tools, even humble household tools, such as hammers, screwdrivers, and saws

The bottom line is, libraries are working really hard to be relevant -- even cool -- to today's young people. Don’t underestimate the power of your local library as a fabulous end-of-year field trip! Have a scavenger hunt, take a tour, ask librarians to teach students about the “secrets” of your local library, and get kids hooked just in time for summer!

Happy Reading!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, TpT is having a 2-day sale! Receive up to 28% off all purchases with the code: TPTXO

Here are a few of the products I'll be picking up during the sale . . .

Of course, sales are always a great time to pick up money-saving bundles! Everything in my shop will be 28% off, including already-reduced bundles! For instance, you can snag my Novel Units Bundle . . . five novels, 9 products, and everything you need for 20 weeks of Middle School ELA . . . for $60 off the original price!

Save an additional 28% on my Novel Units Bundle!

Have fun shopping the TpT Teacher Appreciation Sale on Tuesday and Wednesday, May 6-7! Thank you for all you do -- you make a HUGE difference in our world!

Happy Reading!
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