Sunday, August 31, 2014

Close Reading: The One and Only Ivan

Close Reading: The One and Only Ivan
Lisa Robles

Winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal and a #1 New York Times bestseller
by renowned author Katherine Applegate

            If you have not read this book, you need to. It's an amazing book told from Ivan, the gorilla's, point of view. It's about friendship, courage and love. It's a springboard for a discussion about animal cruelty, friendship and the treatment of wild animals.  Wonderful book for grades 3-8.

          I created a close reading unit to help when reading this book in your class. When I do close reading, I provide the work sheet and model the first few lines. What would I underline and what does it make me think?

         The focus question is already there for them and there is space for them to underline or highlight and write their thinking on the right side. When they are underlining, they are noticing text. They may see patterns, ideas and language. Then they need to write about why that stuck out at them. When they finish their annotating, they need to go back and answer the focus question. My close reading unit can be found on TPT. The unit has questions for every chapter and there are close reading worksheets with a gradual release lesson for the more pivotal parts. So far, we have completed one close reading lesson so the operative word here is modeling but I hope they become as proficient as my students were last year!

Fourth Grade Teacher in California!

Twitter:  @Lisa_teacher

Task Card Review Activity - How to utilize them more effectively in your classroom

Task CardsNot too long ago I had no idea what a task card was or how it could effectively be utilized in the classroom.  I did some research and what I found was that task cards were simply worksheets, broken down into individual questions posted onto cue cards and I wasn't really that impressed.  I started thinking about what I could do to make task cards into an engaging, high energy review game. Since then I've started amassing a diverse supply of activities which are listed below. Elementary Mathematics: Area and Perimeter of Polygons Word Problems Converting between Decimals, Fractions and Percentages Decimals - Four Basic Operations Multiplication and Division Word Problems Fractions High School Mathematics: Solving Quadratic Equations Polynomials - Binomials and Trinomials System of Linear Equations Measurement of 3D Objects Science: Space - The Study of the Universe Biology: Cells and Body Systems Chemistry - Atoms, Compound Naming and Chemical Reactions


These Task Card resources are unique. They can be utilized in a clue gathering, puzzle solving, highly active and engaging activity and/or as an alternative to worksheet review in an individual or group setting.
These activities are 45 minutes of high energy, competitive engagement that sneaks in a lot of review even for those students who are usually against such things. Task Cards

FREE SCIENCE LESSON - “Crazy Putty - Science in the Classroom”

by Teaching Products
1st - 6th Grade

This is a simple science activity that can be completed in the classroom. It uses minimal equipment and students love having something to touch and explore!

Included are complete instructions for making your own silly putty, as well as a scientific explanation of what happened. There are also differentiated student response forms for students to record their hypotheses, questions, process, conclusions, explanations and observations. The student response forms allow students to either write or draw their responses - this is a fabulous way to get your students excited about writing!

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Visual Arts - Classroom - Science

Grades 1-6

ART ACTION - Laurie Carpenter

What fun it is to paint, and even more fun to experience printing with the painted object. It is almost like MAGIC!

PROJECT OVERVIEW-PURPOSE: This project provides a fun, mono-printing experience related to the season and environment of fall. The project teaches children a basic art skill and exposes them to an understanding of the meaning of "symmetry", as it is applied to nature and seasons.
Download includes:
Pdf lesson plan
Outlining patterns

FREE MISC. LESSON - “FREEBIE - Editable Teacher Notecards”

by The Moeller Express
Pre-Kindergarten - 6th Grade

Would you like some cute EDITABLE notecards? Simply edit by inserting your name then print...for extra durability print on card stock.

***Editable means you can open with Adobe Reader and type text (your name) into the box instead of handwriting. You may edit and print as many times as needed. However, keep in mind Adobe will not allow you to save the info typed in the text you will need to print the document before closing. To use the editable version of this product make sure you have the latest edition of PDF (restart your computer after installing).

(The template design is NOT editable.)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Congratulations to the Winners of the THREE $100 GIVEAWAYS of TpT Gift Certificates!

Congratulations to 

Megan Wallen, the winner of the FIRST $100 TpT Gift Certificate...

Erica Hildebrand, the winner of the SECOND $100 TpT Gift Certificate...


Wise Guys, the winners of the THIRD $100 TpT Gift Certificate...

Follow me at so that you will know when I will be having other THREE $100 GIVEAWAYS of TpT Gift Certificates!

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 4)

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 4)
by Shametria Routt

Easy Button Math Problems- Ever seen the Staples Easy button? They can be found at any Staples store or online and provide great motivation in the classroom. After a student shares his or her work with the class, i.e. homework or classwork, allow him or her to push the Easy button. The students love getting to press the button and hearing, "That was easy!" With the Easy button, you’ll never need to ask for volunteers to share their work again!

Math Lessons - "6th Grade Math - Expressions and Equations Bundle - CCSS 6.EE.1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9"

by Hilda Ratliff
6th Grade
I have bundled all of my resources related to the 6th grade Common Core Domain Expressions and Equations. This resource will save you time as there are notes and guided examples that will allow you to introduce concepts. The students will be engaged as they supply missing parts in the examples.

                                                            Click here to preview.
The following topics are included in this bundle
  • Write and evaluate numerical expressions with exponents.
  • Write and evaluate expressions involving variables.
  • Identify parts of an expression.
  • Identify and generate equivalent expressions.
  • Identify solutions of an inequality.
  • Solve equations.
  • Graph solutions of an inequality on a number line.
  • Use graphs, tables and equations to represent relationships of the dependent and independent variables.
This resource also includes group activities, a board game on exponents, and I Have, Who Has games. Click here for a second I Have, Who Has game.

Each individual resource is also sold separately. The most popular resource in this bundle is 6.EE.9 which involves dependent and independent variables and their representations in tables, graphs and equations.  Click here to preview 6.EE.9.

These resources may be used for review or intervention. Take a look at the previews. I think you will want to add these to your materials.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Math Activities from A to Z (Day 3)

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 3)
by Shametria Routt

Daily Station Rotation- Stations are a great way to add some engagement to the classroom! Whether you are trying Math Workshop or the station model, use this time to get your students engaged. There is no set way to do stations. You have to find a groove that works for you. There are many ideas floating around out there. Check out my Pinterest board to get started.
I found the most success by setting up the stations at the beginning of the week and completing one station each day. The stations were designed to be 15 – 20 minutes and followed the MATH structure (see the picture below).
  • M stands for “Math Facts and Computations” and typically includes fact practice on the computer or computational work. My favorite resource for this is VersaTiles from ETA Hand2Mind. It is a self-checking hands-on activity that the students love!
  • A stands for “At Your Seat.” This can be any number of things, from individual computer games to problem solving practice to independent work, such as menus and skill practice.
  • T stands for “Teacher’s Choice” and is the students’ time with me. I generally create need-based groups and gear this time toward a shared need. At other times, I may choose a skill for the entire class and teach a small group mini-lesson on it. Practical Math to AIRR Out Your Curriculum has some great small group lesson ideas.
  • H stands for “Hands-on” and is the fun station! This station always includes a game or group task of sorts. Some of my favorite resources come from Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks and Kamico.

Honestly, the hardest part about implementing stations is the prep work. Start small. Use what you already have on hand. You can easily assign an Internet game, a dice or card game, and a problem solving task or practice sheet from your last unit of study as your activities for the week. As time goes on and you find more and more materials to use, your station materials will become more diverse.

I will be introducing new activities each week at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store—many of which can be used as station activities. Check back or follow me for updates.  

Featuring the Whole Student! Me Museums

by Tried and True Teaching Tools

Grades 1-5

One of my favorite beginning of the year projects is called our Me Museum. (Kudos & thanks to my mentor & friend, Cynthia!! Although now retired, her ideas always involved differentiation and the whole child!) It's a short-term project where students bring in artifacts about themselves, decorate a shoebox as their gallery, then write reflections and an acrostic poem. Other than decorating their box at home, all work is done in the class. Students use their artifacts as tangible objects to spark their writing; first sharing aloud, then writing. They bring in one artifact to represent their family, one artifact to represent an accomplishment, and an artifact to represent something they enjoy. It's really a wonderful project because the kids are so excited to talk about themselves (of course!) and share sides of them we may not know about in school. The acrostic poem describes the student, as well as its symbolic border as another way for the kids to add more information about themselves. My artistic kids LOVE drawing pictorial representations of themselves! I also share my own Me Museum as way of introducing myself as more than just their teacher (and as a model for the finished product).
After the museums are complete, we invite parents and families to our Me Museum exhibit and gallery showing. It's a wonderful opportunity to showcase your class and elicits wonderful discussions!
You can get your copy of the directions and rubric here. If you try this project with your class, I'd love to hear about it and see pictures!

My TpT store:
My blog:

FREE MISC. LESSON - “A Conference Letter...Parent-Teacher Conference Student Letter”

by A New Box of Crayons
Pre-Kindergarten - 4th Grade

Here is a letter for your students to fill in prior to Parent Teacher conferences. It provides areas for strengths and things they need to work on. This should be filled out from the student's point of view. It is for personal reflection and a great resource to share with parents at conference time! Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 2)

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 2)
by Shametria Routt

Circuit- This is a great independent practice activity to complete after teaching a skill. A circuit is a self-checking activity that students can complete individually or with a partner. It is called a circuit because students begin at a starting card, work through the entire set of problems, and end where they started. Here's how it works: 1. Students begin at one card, answer the problem, and determine the answer. 2. The answer leads them to their next card and the process continues. 3. The student’s final card should lead him/her back to the original card if the students completed the problems correctly. 

The illustration below is a circuit from an upcoming pack that I created for the order of operations. It should be available early next week at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

'SOCIAL STUDIES LESSON - "Mapping the United States Geography and Historical Map Collection"

Mapping the United States Geography and Historical Map Collection
By:  The History Wizard               Grades 4-12

Click HERE to purchase!

Total Pages
Answer Key
Does Not Apply
Teaching Duration
1 Month

Updated for 2014-2015 School Year with Zip Folders!

This great lesson plan collection includes 20 mapping activities covering the geography and history of the United States. Six test answer sheets are also included for the teacher to use. My students enjoy these mapping activities and have become very engaged in them. My students ask more questions in class and are better able to connect geographic and historical information. Each mapping lesson plan can take up to one class period to complete. The mapping activities can be easily modified by the teacher to work with any atlas or age level. Save yourself time and money and order this whole collection together. By ordering this lesson plan collection, you will have activities for between 17 and 30 school days depending on the grade you teach. Feel free to check the reviews of my various lesson plans on Teachers Pay Teachers. Links for free maps to be downloaded are included with each lesson plan. Here is the list of mapping activities that are included in this collection.

United States Geography Map Activities

Mapping the 50 States
Mapping the 50 Capitals
Mapping the Physical Features of the USA
Mapping the Major Cities of the USA
Mapping the Northeast
Mapping the South
Mapping the Midwest
Mapping the West
Mapping California (Political and Physical Features)
Mapping North America
Mapping Central America and the Caribbean
Mapping Canada
Mapping Mexico 

Historical Maps of the United States

Create Your Own Colony Activity
Mapping the Expansion of the Continental United States
Mapping Texas( Political and Physical Features) and the Texas Revolution
Mapping the Civil War
Mapping Native American Tribes within the United States
Mapping the Transcontinental Railroad and Cattle Trails
Mapping the Russian Revolution and the Expansion of Communism
Mapping the Great Depression
Mapping the City of Jerusalem Worksheet

Map Test Answer Sheets

50 States and Capitals
Major Cities of the United States
Northeast and South
Midwest and West
Mexican Cities and Physical Features
History Wizard

Thanks for your interest,

The History Wizard

Writing (First Day) What About Me?

Writing (First Day) What About Me?

by Connie Casserly
Grades 6-12

Writing (First Day) What About Me?
The first day of school is often filled with so much administrative detail and information about the course that teachers don't have the chance to really introduce themselves to the students and vice versa. This product, Writing (First Day) What About Me?, offers teachers and students a chance to reveal their thoughts and feelings about school and themselves to each other.

Presenting an opportunity for students to find out what their teachers expect from them, and for teachers to understand what impacts their students academically and personally, this engaging activity will work in all subject areas- required and elective.

Although teachers should fill out their sheets ahead of time, they should not hand them out until the students have completed theirs.  If there is time in class, students should start their sheets, and then complete them at home where they will have more time to think about their answers.

Teachers should require students to finish this activity within the first 2-3 days of school so they can explore their learners’ views and beliefs as soon as possible.

Welcome back to an inspiring and motivational 2014-2015 school year.

Happy Teaching,

Teach It Write

Building Powerful Academic Homes

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z (Day 1)

Doing Math the Routty Way: Engaging Activities from A to Z
by Shametria Routt

I'm starting a new series today sharing ideas and strategies for how to create an engaging math classroom. Subscribe to my blog or follow my blog by email to get my latest post. Read on to see the first two letters! Enjoy!

After Math- Students are always asking what math has to do with real life. The “After Math” activity will provide an opportunity for students to investigate how math relates to their world “after math” is over. This activity can be used in multiple ways and can be repeated throughout the year. It would also make a great menu item. Assign students a topic to investigate (see examples below). Students can find artifacts in magazines, newspapers, clipart collections, on internet safe sites for kids, or simply draw a picture. After they find an artifact, have the students complete an “After Math” sheet to describe their artifact. Then, create a bulletin board to showcase how math is used outside of school. Here are some ideas for “After Math” investigations:

  •  occupations that use math 
  • newspaper articles using math
  • math around your home
  • examples of problem solving in everyday life 
Click here for a copy of the "After Math" activity page.

Book Activities- Amy Axelrod has several math-related picture books. Her pig series books about a family of pigs are a great way to integrate math with literature. Many of the books in this series include math stories where the students can solve the pigs’ problems right along with them. The books also include an overview of the math in each book.
 Use the book to write questions to go along with the story. Place the book and the activity sheet at a station or include it in a math menu and let the students find the solution to the pigs’ problem. Click here for a copy of the "Pigs Will Be Pigs" story questions.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

FREE LANGUAGE ARTS LESSON - “Hopping Homophones Partner Game (Common Core Aligned)”

by Chalk Box Tales
3rd - 5th Grade 

This game is designed to play with a partner to practice the Common Core State Standard: 

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.1g Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., to, too, two; there, their)

It is great for centers, partner play or small group! 

For more Conventions of Language Games please visit my store:
New products are frequently added! 

SOCIAL STUDIES LESSON PLAN - "Mesopotamia Webquest and Journal Activity (Two Lesson Plans)"

Mesopotamia Webquest and Journal Activity (Two Lesson Plans)
Click HERE to purchase!

Grades 5-10
Total Pages 9
Answer Key Included with Rubric
Teaching Duration 3 hours

This is a bundle of two great lesson plans on Mesopotamia. The first lesson plan is a great webquest on Mesopotamia from the following website:

The same website is used for the second lesson plan. Students will take notes on Mesopotamia while pretending to be an Egyptian merchant. Students will write a five paragraph essay about Mesopotamia. This is a great bundle, please check out my other lesson plans and read what other teachers have said about them.

Lesson 1

This webquest on Mesopotamia has 28 questions. An answer sheet is included for the teacher. Students will answer questions from the following great website.

Depending on the grade level, this activity will take one to two class periods. This great activity can be used to introduce or further enhance your students' knowledge of people and history of Mesopotamia.

Lesson 2

This activity is designed to allow students to write a five paragraph essay about Mesopotamia in a fun and creative way. Students will use the following website to gather information about Mesopotamia.

This website is very student friendly. The student handout will guide students through the five paragraph essay format. Each paragraph will focus on a different topic such as:

Daily Life
Agriculture and Trade

The assignment uses creative writing by allowing the students to take the role of a Egyptian merchant writing a report for the Pharaoh of Egypt. A grading rubric is included for the teacher.

Thanks for your interest,
The History Wizard