Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Year in Preview ~What Will 2013 Have in Store For You?

I feel like I haven't been here on GTC for so long! Where is this school year going?
With the holidays behind us and a fresh new year ahead, many of us begin to wonder what's in store for us in the new year. It's a time for some, to make resolutions for the year ahead and for others to reflect on the year gone by.

I'd encourage you, if you haven't already, to take a few moments and think about what you'd like to accomplish with the remainder of the school year. This doesn't have to be something big - it can something as simple as getting your desk tidied. Of course, work is not (and should not) be the only thing in life. Also, have a look at your personal life and ask yourself what you'd like to make a priority for the new year. I don't like calling these things "resolutions" because no one ever keeps those. I rather think of these things as goals, to consciously work toward.   

a year in preview linky party
What does 2013 have in store for you?
To help you get started...

I just wrote and linked up a post on my blog, Lessons From The Middle, to a great little linky party "A Year in Preview" which is being hosted by blogging buddy Michelle, from Making It As A Middle School Teacher. Come on over and have a look at what different teachers are planning for the new year in their professional and personal lives. It may even inspire you to look ahead for yourself and make some simple, achievable goals, or to reflect on how you're doing with the last goals that you set.

Happy New Year Everyone!

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Making Sense of Senseless Acts - Part 2

With the tragedy of the Connecticut school shooting still weighing heavy on my heart, I was so happy to be able to share something new with my students that, once again, made me so glad I teach in a private Christian school.  Even now, almost a full week after the event, I can tell it’s still on the hearts and minds of my students.
I’ve been doing my best to try and explain to them why such tragedies occur (and I’m even trying to make sense of it myself... even prompting me to write a blog post about it over the weekend). Today during our Bible lesson, we were reading about the Christmas story in the Bible and we came to the part that explains how King Herod was furious with the Magi, or wise men, whom he sent to find the Christ Child, did not return to him as he requested.
Matthew 2:16-18 says,“Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance.Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
  ‘A cry was heard in Ramah—
weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children,
refusing to be comforted,
for they are dead.’”
I took a moment to point out to my students that we see an evil offense against innocent children in the Bible.  I asked the kids to do their best to make a connection between King Herod’s actions and those of the shooter in Connecticut.  We came to the conclusion that evil does exist in this world, and just like in the Bible, God can use that evil for good.  This is just another reason why Jesus was sent to Earth and why each of us needs Jesus, a Savior.  

I know there are many teachers who don’t have the same luxury as me in sharing this with their students.  But I hope it helps those of you who are still struggling to find peace during this time.

I’d like to hear your thoughts and feelings about this post.  

The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sticker Stamps

Here’s another holiday activity that was a big hit with my students.  The kids made their very own stamps, and it was extremely simple to do.

Here’s what you’ll need:
About 8 bottle caps for each student
Large assortment of Holiday foam stickers
6-8 Red & Green Stamp Pads (I got mine at the Dollar Store).

Since I do my own recycling in the class, I begin saving bottle caps from water, Gatorade, and juices for this activity.  I realized I was going to be a bit short this year, so I asked parents to donate and I received a whole lot!

The students find their favorite foam stickers and stick them to their bottle cap.  

Then I had each student write a winter/holiday story using their Sticker Stampers.  Here’s some examples.

The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Making Sense of Senseless Acts - Part 1

In light of recent events, many have found themselves wondering how to make sense of the tragedy in Connecticut on Friday. I too have been struggling with this.  I wanted to write this post as an encouragement to others and to possibly relate to others.  Maybe some of you are having the same thoughts as I am.

Last night, our school had our annual Christmas performance.  The students were told to check in with their teachers before the show started and as I was taking a mental roll call, I took a moment to watch the kids and I witnessed just how excited they were to perform. I watched proud parents snapping photographs of their child with friends and other teachers hugging newly-arrived students.  In the midst of hearing a fit of giggles from students near me, I couldn’t help but think that across our country, families were mourning the loss of their loved ones and grieving for others as well. 

Why did my school get to celebrate that evening and another have to endure what seems like pure Hell on Earth?

It’s tragedies like this that make people question, “Where was God?” or, “How could God let this happen?”  Those are tough questions, but I believe I have some answers.

You know where God was?  He was mourning the loss of each and every person affected.  The only way I can answer the second question is quote the pastor of my church who repeatedly tells us, “Not everything that happens is part of God’s will.” God does not cause pain in our lives, but he does permit it so we can see His beauty and His grace.  If we never struggled, how would we know what answered prayer looks like? I believe that God has a purpose beyond my own understanding.  My God is the God who created the universe; He is the same God who can take an act of evil and work it in such a way that we will see prayers answered, miracles occur, and His hand at work.  I know this because of the following verse:

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"  -Jeremiah 29:11

 If there’s one piece of advice you’ll let me give you, I’d like to encourage you to not get sucked into the media.  In times of crisis we sometimes have a hard time looking away and we often look to the media for answers.  If you do find yourself watching the news, looking for the latest development, be on the lookout for the heroes, and for the supporters.  That’s where you’ll start to see God’s hand at work.

I’d like to hear some of your thoughts or things you’ve been mentally wrestling with yourself.  Please comment below to contribute. 

The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary


Please keep all of these families in your thoughts and prayers today.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Glitter is the Herpes of Craft Supplies

Have you ever heard the expression: Glitter is the herpes of craft supplies?  Truer words were never spoken.  While I don’t dislike glitter as much as some of my cohorts (I have a teacher friend who is literally AFRAID of glitter), I do like to avoid it for most of my kids’ crafts.
This craft, however, was unavoidable.  Our school was having our annual fundraising carnival and this year’s theme was, “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”  Each class was given the task of creating a game booth.  One of my wonderful parent helpers suggested we do a ruby red slipper theme.  I thought it was a GREAT idea and she thankfully took charge of planning the booth and informing all the parents of items we needed. 
In the weeks that followed, students began bringing the items their parents signed up for.  Among the items were: red paint, previously worn women’s dress shoes, and red glitter… lots and lots of red glitter.  Oh boy.  Right away I started preparing myself for Decoration Day (or as I will now refer to it as D-Day). 
D-Day arrived.  I had already planned in my head that my classroom could be considered a disaster area by the end of the day.  Had I not prepared myself, I think I would have literally gone insane.
In the end, the kids ended up doing a great job and were mindful of their cleanliness.  They were so excited with the finished products and had a blast with this activity.
Here are some photographs of the children and their ruby red slippers.

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

To Memorize or Not to Memorize

As many of you know, I am currently living in Morocco with my husband and three young sons.  My two older sons (grades K and 3) go to a Moroccan school in French and Arabic.  Their school requires a lot of memorization and handwriting, and very little higher level thinking and creative writing.  I teach an the International School of Morocco in English.  My school spends a lot of time on creative writing, exploring and building critical thinking skills.  As a mother and a teacher, I often feel caught in the middle.  My sons go to the school they do because I want them to learn the language, but I do wish they spent more time learning the way that I teach.

I recently read an article that got me to thinking though that some of how they are learning is making them stronger learners in some ways.  My older son spends a lot of time memorizing – Memorization has helped my sons become stronger students.poems, verb conjugations, Koran verses, paragraphs about science, and the younger one is starting to come home with these same types of activities.  While this sometimes seems to be a waste of time, he is practicing the skills of memorizations and visualization.  When it comes time to memorize things that I think are important (like math facts), it comes a lot easier to him because he has spent time practicing this skill.  In addition, he has a ton of information stuck in his memory that he can connect his new information with.  Granted, his school does not seem to spend time teaching him how to make those connections, but he makes many connections on his own and my husband and I are helping him to make more connections.

Memorizing Facts is vital to making progress in math.In my own classroom, I am trying to use some of this to help my students.  I am finding that my students who have a background in schools that focus on memorization can learn and memorize things faster.  In order to build their memorizing ability, we are working on memorizing in class, using math facts, nursery rhymes, songs etc.  However, in my classroom, I take the time to show students 1.) why it’s important to memorize the things we need to memorize and 2.) how to connect this memorization to other things that don’t need to be memorized. 

Here are some specific places I have found to use memorization in my classroom:

Please stop by my blog – Raki’s Rad Resources for specific ideas on how to incorporate memory building ideas in your classroom.

How important is memorization in school near you?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources  

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Choose The Free Resource You’d Like Me to E-mail You

Today I turn 30, and I’m trying not to think about it!  Come by Raki's Rad Resources and grab your FREE product as a birthday present from me.So, I decided to giveaway my store.  Everyone gets to choose their own present, from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  There are almost 400 items to choose from.  You can ask for anything from my store that is NOT a .zip folder.  (Last year the .zip folders jammed up my Outlook, lol!)

All you have to do to get your present is leave me a comment telling me what you like about my blog and what present you’d like me to send you.  Stop by my blog – Raki’s Rad Resources – November 9th or 10th to leave a comment and get your free gift.


Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Science Experiment - Pop Rocks & Soda

Have you ever heard the rumor that if you eat Pop Rocks and then drink soda, your stomach will explode?  Many students have heard this before so we decided to do a little research to see if this was a myth or if it was real.  Now, of course we didn’t test our experiment on human or an animal (even though one of my students willingly volunteered to be a test subject).  Instead, we used soda and a balloon to represent a human stomach.

First we gathered 3 different types of soda: Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. We made sure we used bottles of soda instead of canned soda.  Then we filled 3 different balloons with an entire package of Pop Rocks.

Our class made predictions about what they thought would happen.  All of the students figured out that we would witness some type of reaction, so I had the students vote on which type of soda they thought would create the biggest reaction.

Then we tested our hypothesis.  We chose 1 type of soda to test first. Very carefully (and in the sink... just in case), we placed the opening of the balloon over the mouth of a bottle of soda.

Then when we lifted the other end of the balloon up, the contents inside fell into the bottle of soda.  We waited and recorded our results.

After a few minutes, we noticed the balloon filling up with gas and expanding.  Then we did the same to the other 2 types of soda using our remaining balloons.

The students were able to conclude that while consuming Pop Rocks and soda wouldn’t be detrimental to your stomach, it would probably make you pretty gassy.

We concluded the experiment by watching the soda and Pop Rocks candy reaction under a microscope.  First we took a small granule of the candy and placed in on the slide.  Then we watched through the eyepiece as I used an eyedropper to slowly add soda to the granule.

Here are some pictures of what the reaction looked like.

The purpose of completing this activity was to get the students used to using the Scientific Method.  You could also use this to teach about gas, chemical reactions, or carbon dioxide.  All in all, this was a wonderful experiment that I will make sure to do with my students every year.

To view more information about this experiment visit

For more ideas on how to use candy during experiments (especially your leftover Halloween candy) visit

The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Winter Holiday Show

I teach at the International School of Morocco.  We have a truly international school, with over 15 countries represented in our small student body.  In order to make sure that all of the families feel included in the holiday celebrations, I created a truly multiculutral Holiday Show called Light Up the World with Celebrations.  It celebrates the fact that light is often used as a way to celebrate – through candles, lanterns, fireworks, luminaries etc. 

holidayplayNext week, the students at my school will begin to learn our lines. Each student K5 – 4th has a talking part, but most of the parts are short and sweet. My two strongest 4th graders will play the narrators with the most lines. (Grab a free copy of the play from my TPT store.)


Before we begin learning our lines for the play, we will begin learning about the holidays that our show covers with a Winter Holiday Powerpoint Presentation.  There are Winter Holidays Power Point Presentation - Including information on using light as a symbol in the holidays of Christmas, Haunakkah, Kwanza, Diwali, Ramadan, St. Martin's Day, St. Lucia's Day and New Years.many, many holidays discussed during the power point presentation and in our holiday show, including Christmas, Haunakkah, Kwanza, Diwali, Ramadan, St. Martin’s Day, St. Lucia’s Day and New Years. 


Also next week, the K4/K5 teacher, who is also the music teacher will begin working with the students on our two songs – This Little Light of Mine and Silent Night in 4 languages.  We’ll also be singing Happy Birthday in 4 languages, but we already sing those regularly, so that should be no sweat.

The week before we Winter Holiday Vocabulary - Four Free Differentiated Levels - Including information on Christmas, Haunakkah, Kwanza, and Diwali.deliver the play, my students in Grades 3 & 4 will do a more intensive study into four of the winter holidays with our Winter Holiday Vocabulary Packet.  (Grab a free copy from my TPT store.)

Holy Smokes are we going to be busy between now and Winter Vacation. 

What’s your class/school planning for the holidays?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

This Just In...

This past week our school celebrated Grandparent’s day.  The students decorated our room with activities to show off to their special guest.  One of the activities I had them complete was a writing sample, showcasing all the fun things they like to do at school.  The students revealed their answers through a newspaper article.
Here are some samples:

If you would like to have your students write a newspaper article, you can download a copy of the  template I created by clicking here.
The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Integrating Heritage Week

My school recently finished up our Heritage Week where students learn about the countries they and their classmates come from.  In order to integrate this into my “regular” lessons, my students had a special packet for both vocabulary and math.  I’m offering both up free to anyone who wants them, so feel free to grab one of the other – or both, to use in your classroom.

Study countries of the world with this free vocabulary packet from Raki's Rad Resources.  Perfect for English Language Learners.Country Vocabulary Packet – Since most of my students are English Language Learners, I find it important to do weekly vocabulary packets.  For Heritage Week, we focused on how to say various countries around the world, as well as to describe ourselves and others.  (ie. I am from the United States of America.  I am American.  He is from Spain.  He is Spanish. etc.)

Gather information and create graphs with this free digital download packet from Raki's Rad Resources.School Survey Graphing Packet – To cover our math standards of creating tally charts, frequency charts, bar graphs and picto-graphs, we completed this school survey packet.  The students asked the students in their class and others 4 questions:  What country are you from?  What language(s) do you speak?  How many kids are in your family?  What month is your birthday in?.  Then, they used the data they gathered to construct graphs accordingly.


I have a few more resources that we used during this week, but they are not quite ready to be “released”.  I promise another post within a week or two to give you more details!


Does your school have a heritage week?


Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources


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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Paper Plate Venn Diagrams

Here’s a fun activity I did with my students last week.  We created Venn Diagrams using two paper plates.  First we overlapped one side and used a black marker to draw the line where the other side of the paper plate would be.  Then I had the students label the information that would go into either side and viola!  Look below for a few samples.

(We're a private school so we compared/contrasted the Bible's descriptions of Heaven and Hell)

To view more ideas & activities, click here.

The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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