Sunday, October 4, 2015

Learning From the World Around Us

So much learning can happen from simply exploring the world around us. Field trips can be such a beneficial way to add to the learning experience. Students get a chance to make real world connections to what they are learning in the classroom, while they practice integrating literacy, math and content standards. 

Learning Through Field Trips - by learning from the world around us we can teach kids more on a field trip day than during an entire week of book work. Field Trip Suggestions from Raki's Rad Resources

Visiting the city hall during a unit on Government give students to see the government in action. Here’s a blog post I wrote with suggestions on how to cover all of your standards during a trip to city hall: The Lawmakers are In – Time for a Field Trip.

Visit a nature preserve during an Animal Habitats unit to see some animal habitats up close and personal. Here’s a blog post I wrote with suggestions on how to cover all of your standards during a trip to a nature preserve: An Exploring Nature Field Trip.

Visit a local factory during a unit on Economics to give students a real understanding of raw materials versus manufactured products. Here’s a blog post I wrote with suggestions on how to cover all of your standards during a trip to a factory or business: Behind the Scenes Factory Tours Have Learning Benefits for Kids.

Visit your local landforms during an Earth Science unit on Erosion or Rock Formations so students can truly put their hands on the causing factors of rock changes. Here’s a blog post I wrote with suggestions on how to cover all of your standards during a trip to a local landform: What Landforms Do You Live Near?

For other suggestions, click on the picture below to see all of my field trip suggestion posts.

Learning Through Field Trips - by learning from the world around us we can teach kids more on a field trip day than during an entire week of book work. Field Trip Suggestions from Raki's Rad Resource

Happy learning and teaching!

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Spanish Class Fast Finishers, a Bulletin Board Set from La Profesora Frida

"I'm done.  Now what??"
Don't you wish you could just point to your pretty bulletin board when you hear this question?
 
Laurie, a Spanish teacher in New York, created this awesome layout (above) with Autumn Fast Finishers for Spanish Packet from La Profesora Frida.
Below is another creative layout:
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Already purchased La Profesora Frida's Autumn Fast Finishers Bulletin Board Set?  You could get the WINTER version for FREE by taking a picture of your bulletin board layout for the Autumn version and sending it to her on Facebook!

Because we teach in a public school system, we usually have a mixture of ability levels in our foreign language classes.  While we are offering help to students who are having trouble contemplating a subject, there are often those students who understand the content and finish earlier than the rest of the class.  Which is when we hear, "I'm done.  Now what??"

Students who finish fast often fall into one of 2 categories:
-the quiet type
-the bored "trouble maker"

The quiet type are those students who have a great work ethic.  These are the students who already have a book to read or who have brought a bit of homework from another class to work on because they are used to finishing first.  They're nothing to worry about.
Except....  Are they getting as much intellectual stimulation in your class as they deserve?

The bored "trouble makers" are those students who are not actually trouble makers.  They finish early because they are bright students, but then they don't know what to do with themselves.  They might start to wander the classroom or try to talk to students who are still trying to work-- making them appear as though they are trouble makers.
And....  Are they getting as much intellectual stimulation in your class as they deserve?

One useful way to keep Fast Finishers academically focused (whether they realize it or not!) is to apply a Fast Finishers program to your classes.



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I have an Autumn Fast Finishers bulletin board in my classroom  and the idea is to have a number of activities available for students to work on when they're done with their regular work.

There are a variety of activities; writing, reading, speaking, pronunciation, partner work, artistic activities, over 20 to choose from.  The students have a tracking sheet and know that they aren't to bother you while you're helping other students!  (There are several posters included in this packet so students know to only ask you to check their Fast Finishers work if they KNOW you're not busy!)







Check out this interactive, creative Spanish packet at my TeachersPayTeachers store!  Let me know what you think!  I find it incredibly useful, and I hope that you can apply this teaching concept to your Spanish classes as well.

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Already purchased La Profesora Frida's Autumn Fast Finishers Bulletin Board Set?  Would you like the WINTER version for FREE??  Take a picture of your bulletin board layout (that La Profesora Frida can post on her blog!) for the Autumn version and send it to her on Facebook!
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Another Year of Student Blogging

I posted a Collaborative Project for Student Blogging in the last school year, and I'd love to revive that post now!

Student Blogging is the perfect platform for junior high students, especially, because they love to be the holder of power. Having others read their posts - having a real audience of readers, gives them the power that they desire. Hence, they learn an all important lesson: Words are powerful!
 
With 19 grade seven students this year, I have a variety of writing styles and levels. However, I have a few kids in particular who have really found their voices through their blogs and are even working on extra posts at home. Peers are helping each other edit the posts through the comments section (posts are by no means perfect - but works in progress) and I love seeing this collaboration and feedback in the students' comments to each other. I also enjoy seeing the silly little comments (once in a while) that is proof to me that they are engaging in the process by reading their classmates' blogs and having an online conversation about the content. As with many things, it can go overboard - but it's all part of the process. 

So, if you or any teachers you know are interested in blogging with your students and would like to have another class read and comment on your blogs - please fill in your information into the Collaborative Project document. It's one that I have created for us all to use. If you see a teacher there you'd like to collaborate with - contact them and get the ball rolling. As I said, I teach grade 7 and would love any grade 6-8 classes who are interested in sharing the blogging adventure this year!



Collaborative Project Student Blogging
Mrs. Mills' Mighty Minions - My Class Blog
Collaborative Project Student Blogging
Collaborative Project Student Blogging

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Does Your School Host A Math Night?

This year, our K-7 school decided to host a math night. Math is my favorite subject to teach and so I was super-excited to plan some activities for my students. We sent home notes to all of the students, giving parents the date and general info about what we were doing and asked for the slips to come back with the number of students who would be attending. This way, we had a bit of an idea as to how many kids to prepare for. It was apparent that the parents and students were interested - so off we went planning the activities!

Family Math Night


The whole vision for the night was to build parent engagement, and to try to break down some of the walls with the frustration that can result for everyone around math because the parent was taught one way and the students may be taught a different way. Many times, parents are trying to help by offering a different method, but the students get frustrated because "That's not how we do it in class." There are so many ways to solve a problem! They should be open to all of the possibilities!

We invited in an engaging math consultant to speak to parents about "the new math" that their children are a part of (about 25 minutes). The other 35 minutes was spent with teachers, parents and their children together, taking part in various math activities. I chose to prepare a math scavenger hunt for the 11 grade 7 students who chose to come to Math Night. Eleven out of 38! I was so excited that they came! At this age, you risk it not being "the cool thing to do". Anyhow, they came! For my scavenger hunt, I went around the school the week prior to math night, noting bulletin boards and displays in the corridors and made up little clues. Once students figured out the clue, they had to do some sort of calculation with the number, based on what we've been working on recently in class. For example:

"Fishing can be a job or a hobby,
Locate the digit in the ten thousands place,
If I were you, I'd check the lobby!"

There is a mural in the lobby with a fishing boat...and then students had to perform a calculation with that digit. I had a lot of fun putting it together! And, more importantly, students had a great time doing the scavenger hunt! They were literally sweating by the end because I had them travelling all over the school! It was awesome!

Other classes had SMART Board games or board games in their classrooms. One teacher prepared a handout with math sites for parents to take home with them. And, every child left with a little "grab bag" of math goodies (dice, cards etc.) a cookie and juice box.

Our little town had the best turnout the math consultant had seen and everyone left with smiles on their faces - staff, parents and students. It was simply a great night and I hope we do it again next year!

Have you ever held a Math Night at your school? A Science Night? I'd love to hear more!

Math Night
Math Night
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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ni Hao! I'm the newest GTC author- Andrea Ho

My name is Andrea Ho from Cheers To School and I'm the newest author contributor to GTC.

I am an American working as a Kindergarten teacher in an international school in China.  I just moved to China 2 months ago in early August.  I've been teaching for two years as a substitute teacher, teacher's assistant, and ECC/elementary teacher.
The Yellow star is where I live in China.  Many people say China looks like a chicken, so I guess I live at the base of the Chicken's neck.  
This is my first time teaching in China and overseas.  The student population at my school are mostly Korean (roughly 60-70%), American, Canadian, Japanese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, and a few from South America, South Africa, and European countries.  Most of the students are business kids, diplomat kids, missionary kids, and staff kids.  Every grade has two classroom teachers.  This year I have a very small class-- 8 students total.

I love my new city (I'm close to Beijing), the people, the culture, and my new school.  I can't wait to share my experiences and ideas with you!

Looking forward to getting to know you and other fellow teachers from all around the world!

Cheers!

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Classroom Tour

This year, I am teaching Year 3 & Year 4 (which is 2nd and 3rd grade in the US system) at the International School of Morocco.  I teach my homeroom for reading. Then, I teach 2 groups of Math and Science.  I will teach my homeroom class early in the day, and in the afternoon, I will teach the Year 5 & Year 6 students (which is 4th and 5th grade in the US system).  My partner teacher will in turn be teaching Writing, Grammar and Social Studies to both groups of kids.  Here are some pictures of what my classroom looks like. 

A look into the classroom of Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.  I teach Year 3 and Year 4 (Grades 2 and 3) at the International School of Morocco in Casablanca.

 A look into the classroom of Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.  I teach Year 3 and Year 4 (Grades 2 and 3) at the International School of Morocco in Casablanca

A look into the classroom of Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.  I teach Year 3 and Year 4 (Grades 2 and 3) at the International School of Morocco in Casablanca

A look into the classroom of Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.  I teach Year 3 and Year 4 (Grades 2 and 3) at the International School of Morocco in Casablanca

A look into the classroom of Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.  I teach Year 3 and Year 4 (Grades 2 and 3) at the International School of Morocco in Casablanca

A look into the classroom of Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.  I teach Year 3 and Year 4 (Grades 2 and 3) at the International School of Morocco in Casablanca

For more information on how each of these views work in my classroom, stop by my blog – Raki’s Rad Resources.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Students Love Global Pen Pals!

Interested in setting up a pen pal correspondence for your students in the coming school year?  I've got some free resources for you that I used in my class, as well as some reflections on what worked well and what pitfalls you might avoid in this blog post. We used a combination of emails and traditional paper letters.

Depending on what technology you have available, and your own preferences (as well as administration policies) you can be more snail-mail oriented or include other tech like Skype and Facetime.  This is an experience even my more reticent students have been quite engaged in every year.  I hope your learners enjoy it as well!


In the zip file download I have for you over at Teaching FSL, there's a parental permission form, instruction sheet for students to use with ePals, a peer editing handout I used, and also some tracking tools that will be handy if you teach multiple classes.  I included the PowerPoint presentation that I created for a Professional Development session when sharing my experience with other teachers in my district.

I'd love to hear your students' reactions to this learning experience!


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