End your year with a bang and a $1 sale!

Whew!  It’s quiet again at my house.  I am really lucky to have all my children and grandchildren within a day’s drive of my home.  Christmas  was a hectic, loud, and wonderful day spent with our three adult kids and six grandkids. One family came from out-of-town and was able to spend several days with us.  Cousins played and spent time getting acquainted again.

and it was so wonderful to see!   Our adult children grew up away from relatives and missed getting to know cousins, so we really treasure the time their children spend together.

With the quiet of the house, I find myself thinking about the coming of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.  When I was younger, my hubby and I attended our fair share of parties and celebrations.  A good, albeit very late, time was had.  Cue the coming of our children and New Year’s Eve was better celebrated at home, in the comfort of our family room, as the ball dropped.

Well, you don’t have to wait until Dec. 31 to celebrate the New Year!!!  A terrific group of Teacher pay Teacher sellers are having a $1 sale on selected items from their store!  Yes, you read that right…$1 products!!!    To find these great deals, just type #Ringin2019 in the search bar and go shopping!

   

  All you have to do is click on the pictures to find my two $1 deals! 

 

Happy shopping!!!

Sue

 

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It’s TpT Cyber Sale Time, So Update Your Wishlist!!!

It’s teachers’ favorite time of year….Teacherspayteachers Cyber Monday (and Tuesday) Sale!!!!  Let me help you AND save you some money at the same time!!!

I know that you  work hard all year and anything I can do to make your job a bit easier and say “Thank you” gives me a chance to extend the season of Thanksgiving.  Teacherspayteachers feels the same way and so Monday, November 26 and Tuesday, November 27  my store will be discountied 20%!  Plus if you use the code CYBER18, you will get an additional 5% in savings!!

Here’s your opportunity to grab all those many items on your wishlist at discounted prices!!!  I won’t lie; I hope you’ll take a look at all my goodies!  Susan Mescall , so just click on my name and browse my store of products.

 

Teacherspayteachers Cyber Sale!!!

Now that you know about the sale, polish your wishlist and get ready to save time and money!!!

Happy shopping!!!

How To Help Your Students Become Awesome Summarizers!

With the start of  new school year and having students share their chapter summaries,  I decided I needed to explicitly teach my fifth graders how to summarize using the chapters in our novel, “Blood on the River”.  It’s an historical fiction novel about the founding of Jamestown.  Just an FYI,  it’s a great way to incorporate our Social Studies as we study early America.

In the past, won’t lie, I have sort of “guessed and by golly”‘d my way through summarizing.  It is not one of my stronger skills as a teacher.  Partly, I think, because it always seemed so subjective to me.  Well, last week I took the bull by the horns  and began to teach summarizing directly.

My students had summarized chapter 6 of the book as part of their homework.  It became very apparent quickly, that summarizing was needed to be taught explicitly.

As a teacher of 24 years, I am still tickled when my brain pulls out an idea that wasn’t part of my lesson!!!  After all the summaries were read, I went to the board and wrote:

Chapter 6 High Points

Then, as a class, I asked my students to review the chapter with a partner and come up with only six events or ideas that seemed to be very important.  I purposely avoided the words “main idea”.  That term always seemed to make students think there’s only one right answer.  Noooooo….not always!

As partners reported their “high points“,  many were simply supporting details, so as the students shared their ideas, I took their ideas and jotted them on the board.  Together, I helped them “see” the bigger picture of all their ideas. We worked together to put similar ideas into a more general sentence.

For example, in Ch. 6, there is a battle between a whale, thresher shark, and a swordfish that is observed by Captain Smith and Samuel, the main character.  All the students mentioned the battle as an important event, which it was, but the comment from Capt. Smith to Samuel was that no matter how big and powerful you think you are,  the less powerful can work together and bring you down!  That comment helped my kids see that high points in a chapter can be more than just an event.

After the kids and I wrote the six high points together, I had them use those points to create another summary in their reading journals.  I had them compare their first summary with the summary they had just written. The summaries were sooooo much more on point and the kids even remarked at the differences they saw.

It wasn’t me telling the kids what the high points or main ideas were, but all of us working together.  I did the same lesson two chapters later and the summaries showed more depth of thought and relied less on actual events of the chapter.

Give it a try and let me know if your students’ summaries have show growth as you work together!

PS

If you’d like to check out this fabulous novel and the  vocabulary activities and discussion questions I use with my students, just click Blood on the River

 

How To Begin The Year Positive

Every teacher enters the classroom on the first day of school with high hopes and expectations.  I sure do!  Well, this year, instead of hoping the year stays positive, I decided take direct  steps to keep my students on the positive path and off the side  paths of negativity.  So what am I doing?  I’m so glad you asked!!!

*THE WRINKLED HEART activity :  A few years ago I saw this on  Pinterest and  “grabbed” this activity with both hands!!!  I wish I could find the person who first posted this idea because I’d hug them!!  This activity is a winner!

Give each student a sheet of red construction paper.  Have your students fold their paper and then cut out a heart.  Size doesn’t matter.  After their heart is cut out, ask your students to wad up their heart and WHISPER insults to the heart….just a short time!  Don’t want the students to get carried away.  After a minute or two of whispers, I ask the students to smooth out their heart and tell it , “I was just playing” or “I was just kidding”.   Have them continue to smooth out their heart.  Then ask the students if the marks on the heart disappeared after telling the heart they were “just kidding” or “just playing”.    Of course the marks are still there.  I remind the students that their hearts are just like the hearts they insulted.  While the words may be gone, the heart still shows the scars…just like our hearts can be scarred by careless or negative words.    It really got to my students…as I had hoped.  Words have power to scar and we resolved to make sure our words didn’t leave scars on anyone’s heart this year.

 

Let me know how you build community in your own classroom.

Thanks!

Growing Thinkers One Inspiring Quote At A Time

i’m just a level 2

With all the testing pressure we teachers have all felt, our students, themselves, feel that pressure even more, and too often their self-worth becomes tied to their test results…”I’m a Level 2″; “I’m not a Level 5”; and so on.  It REALLY bothered me when I heard my students talk like that!  I couldn’t seem to change their minds, so I started looking for a way to share with  my students inspiring words from other people and then have my students apply those encouraging words to their own life.

inspiration

I decided to create a collection of inspiring quotes from many different people.  I also decided my students needed to know a little about the person, especially if the person was not familiar to students.  So each person’s page has their quote and a short bio about the person.  I also decided that my students needed to do more than just look at the quote and read the biography.  Here’s one of my students responding to Henry Ford’s quote!

 

This became our Wednesday morning meeting!  Here’s what I did…first I had my students copy the quote into their writing journals.  Then my students read the biography.  Each page also had questions for my students to record their answers to go along with the person’s quote.  I didn’t leave it right there.  Once, everyone had finished writing their answers, the class then discussed both the quote and their answers to the questions on the page.

It really amazed me how so many of my students took the quotes to heart…it was what I had hoped for!  It’s Growth Mindset .  Check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

How I Improved My Grammar Lessons By Not Teaching!

when students talk, i listen

A few weeks ago, in the midst of coming in from recess, I was given the word by several students that my English lessons were boring  less engaging than some of my other subject lessons.  Now I could have gotten angry, or bent out of shape, or any other teacher emotion that comes to mind when told a lesson was not all that it could be.  Truth be told, my lessons had gotten stale…that after holidays, after January, waiting for Presidents’ Day time of year.  I won’t lie, grammar often got the short end of the stick in the day as I tried to fit everything in, as I am a self-contained fifth grade teacher!

Students step up!

While I’ve been teaching for more than 20 years, I’m pretty open to new ideas to improve the learning in my classroom.  Trust me, I’ve known a few  “done it this way for years so why change?.” teachers.  That’s not me, so I tuned in with all ears as I entered the conversation.  “How could I fix the lessons?, ” was what I asked.  Imagine my surprise when one of my best students asked if she could teach the next lesson!  We were both surprised when the words, “Sure, let’s do this!,” came out of my mouth.  Next thing I knew, several more students volunteered to teach lessons.

How do I do this, Teacher?

I sat down with my first volunteer and together we chose the lesson…Object Pronouns!  We chose a date…three days in the future and I gave her my teacher edition.  “I’ve got this, Mrs. Mescall” was what I heard until the day of the lesson.

D-Day or should I say T-Day (teach)!  My student did an amazing job…she taught us with a fun game using large dice.  The students rolled the two dice of different colors.  Each number on one of the dice corresponded to a specific object pronoun.  The second dice numbers corresponded to a specific subject pronoun.  Students then took those two pronouns and created a sentence with both pronouns used correctly.  The students loved the game and my teacher student then walked around checking sentences and having the class read their sentences!    SCORE!!  It was a good lesson and I will totally be stealing her game for another time!!!

Lining Up!

Our second student-led  lesson was about possessive pronouns.  I again shared my teacher edition and  that Brainpop had a good videos and activities.  My second student-led class was also a success! My second student’s lesson was more digital and the class really enjoyed it.   We did so well as a class that we were rewarded with “thin mints” as we were “smart cookies”!

Have I totally given up teaching grammar and English…not really.  I do still teach them both, but I have continued to offer the opportunity to teach the class.  Several more students are eager to teach and I will certainly be letting them try out their teaching skills!

Thanks,

 

 

I do have some games and activities you might want to try to add some fun and spice to your English lessons!  Check out the links below!

A fun game with verb tenses!

Here are activities to help master there, their, and they’re!

Here are 3 levels of antonyms to meet the needs of all!

The Free Dictionary Game Students Will Beg For!

Here’s the dictionary dilemma, teachers!  We want our students to increase their knowledge of vocabulary in all subjects, but too often our go-to assignment has students  looking up the words in a dictionary and copy the meaning into a notebook.  For myself, even I used to shudder at the idea of looking up  unknown words in the dictionary!

Engage students are learning students and the best is when they don’t even realize they are learning!!!  I was racking my brain for a new way to introduce the vocabulary in a novel I wanted the class to read.  It came to me like a flash!!!!  I find that most students get very competitive in a game situation and that is what led to, TA DAH!!!  DICTIONARY DASH!!  Even better, the game is free AND easy to implement!!!

Here’s how it works in my room.  I have my students get themselves into groups of three.  Each group gets a dictionary.  Because my students are so competitive,  I have the students put their hands on the closed dictionary BEFORE I write the word to be looked up on the board.  On the board I have drawn a chart.  Word/Part of Speech/Definition.   After the word is written  on the whiteboard, they can’t start their search until I say “Go!”

The first group to find the word yells “We got it!’ and they send one of the students to the board.   The chosen student writes the part of speech and the definition on the whiteboard.  I will check the student’s choice of definition to make sure it is the one needed for the day’s reading.

The other students are reading the meaning of the word as it is written on the board.  After that, the groups put their hands on the closed dictionary and the game continues until all vocabulary words needed for that day have been defined.

That being said, let me add a few pointers about the game:

  1.  DO NOT use this game every day in all subjects!  Anything done a lot gets boring and that’s what you’re trying to avoid!!!
  2. DO NOT use this game to look up EVERY vocabulary word in the lesson.  Why?  See #1!
  3. DO use it in subjects other than just Reading.  Students need to see the need for increased vocabulary in all subjects.

I have the students put the vocabulary words and meanings into their subject journal and glossary. We then jump into the lesson.

That’s it…that’s all it took to get my kids excited about using the dictionary!!  What’s the worst?  You lose a bit of time…What’s the best? A new game that takes little to no prep and excites students!   

If you try the game, let me know how it worked.  If you have some fun ideas for vocabulary, share those too!!!!  Thanks!

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