Test Prep - Reading Boot Camp


It's Spring Break!  Time to re-charge, relax, and get ready for the 4th quarter!

When we return from break, we will have two weeks to refresh our students' memories before state testing begins.

One team's approach to Middle School Test Prep!


My 6th grade team and I decided to host a Reading Boot Camp.  There are 5 teachers and 5 days in the week.  So we are each taking one benchmark (standard) that the students need more work with based on the data and we will teach just that standard to all of the 6th grade classes in a rotation for one week.

So on Monday, I will have my own students but on Tuesday - Friday, I will have the other 4 teachers' students - a different set of students on each day.  So I will essentially teach the same lesson all week long.  That may seem a little like a broken record - but only to me - the students will truly benefit because they will get to hear a lesson presented by someone new and as a result, they are more likely to pay attention due to the novelty of a new teacher and a new room.  

I will be teaching non-fiction text structures.  Before I developed my plan, I really had to dissect the standard and how it is tested on our state test.  Essentially, students need to be able to use academic vocabulary such as analyze, contribute and development in concert with the text structure to locate and trace the change in the information and ideas across multiple texts to gain insight and strengthen understanding.  

Sounds easy, right?  Sure....well maybe if it were simplified a bit:

Breaking down Non-Fiction Text Structures before the big state test!

The entrance/exit ticket will have 3 questions that must be answered using pencil only:

Entrance/Exit tickets for a test prep non-fiction text structures lesson!


Next, I'll use my own video with matching Pixanotes® ...
Non-Fiction Text Structures Pixanotes® are great for helping students remember key information for state tests!
Then I'll conduct the "vote with your feet" activity.  To run this activity, I plan to hang 5 text structure posters in 5 areas around my room.  Next, I will read a passage and ask the students to classify it into one of the 5 categories.  Then, I am going to ask them to "vote with their feet" and stand by the poster that they think is the correct classification.   Next, we'll discuss their choices and finally the answer.  It will be a great way to keep everyone involved and engaged!

Finally, I plan to have students re-visit the entrance ticket and change their answers based on their new knowledge.  
(Now you know why I was being particular with pencil! :)  )

So now my boot camp lesson is ready!  This lesson combined with the other four teachers' lessons should make for a great test prep review!

If you'd like to save time and get this ready-to-go non-fiction text structure test prep lesson with entrance/exit tickets, video, Pixanotes®, posters, passages with questions and directions for "vote with your feet" PLUS all answers - Just click here!


It's test prep time and here's an engaging non-fiction text structure lesson that's ready to go!


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Ideas to Combat Apathy in the Classroom


It's approaching that time of year when my 6th graders are starting to flex their behavior muscles and turn to types of behavior that are more "cool".  You know, a general shunning of anything that might be remotely like work.

Enter the "too cool for school" students who couldn't possibly be bothered to lift a finger to write, let alone pick up a book or notebook.

This is when I really have to dig deep into my teaching repertoire and find ways to combat the apathy.

I'm truly thrilled to have my first post featured in WeAreTeachers, one of my favorite sites for new classroom strategies and where you'll find 5 ways to increase student ownership in your classroom.
  I'd love it if you'd visit and check it out!

5 Ways to Increase Student Ownership in Your Classroom


This middle school teacher shares her tried-and-true tips for getting her students to take on more ownership in the classroom. |  Mrs. Spangler in the Middle on WeAreTeachers
Source - WeAreTeachers

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Celebrating Kindness


Celebrate Kindness!

In a world with so much conflict, I believe students need reassurance from a trusted teacher that character still matters.

In my 6th grade class, we were recently discussing the topic of plagiarism.  I gave a (somewhat) famous example of a now Harvard grad that was very publicly "busted" for copying multiple passages from an earlier published novel.  The students were quick to judge based on the evidence.  We talked about the fact that whatever one puts their name on is a representation of that person.  Therefore, it is important that whatever bears one's name reflects back what the person stands for.  They all emphatically agreed given my first example.

Then I told them that this relates to them too.  How?  Well, when they slap any old thing down on paper and then send it my direction which bears their name, what does that tell me about them?  
Silence.  Contemplative looks.  
Now they were judging themselves.

So then I began to think about challenging the students to define what they stand for so we could display it as a constant reminder that character matters.  

This is how I did it:

#kindnessnation FREE Character Matters Activity that helps students determine what they stand for!

You can do this too with my free resource:  



It includes a link to the lyrics, a link to an online "What do you stand for quiz for teens, and mirrors you can copy for your students.

I use the "Man in the Mirror" song to help students reflect on what they stand for.



The key in all of this is that students are reminded daily that they
need to reflect what they stand for in their words and actions. 
So, when they are tempted to “talk trash”, these serve as
reminders to look for these positive traits in their classmates.  I will
often tell my students “Be a treasure hunter, not a trash
collector!”  My goal is to create “treasure collecting” as a culture in
my classroom.

I think kindness shouldn't be just an act we perform here and there, it must be a habit.  I plan to celebrate it EVERY day by encouraging my students to live the kindness they want to see in others.

I think kindness shouldn't be just an act we perform here and there, it must be a habit.




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New Year - New Tech!



I'm so excited to tell you that my school district finally has access to Google Classroom!


The first thing I did was set up my "classrooms" and get my students to join.  We have been using Edmodo so this was somewhat like joining a class there.  This seems better than Edmodo though because it seems to organize things a bit better.

Google Classroom might just be the next best thing in Education!




The next thing I did was to try a Google Quiz for our weekly vocabulary.  I liked it a lot but it did not give the students their scores as a percentage.  Instead, it would say something like 100/120.  All day I was asked "But what is my grade?"  Of course, it was a great mini-lesson in learning that a fraction says "divide" and that's how to figure out one's own grade, but I would prefer percentages too.  I found a quick fix by using Flubaroo that gave me percentages even if the kids have to do the math!

A self-grading quiz?  Yes, please!

I made this quiz using Google Forms and then assigned it to my students through Google Classroom by attaching it from my Google Drive.  You can even assign the same thing to multiple classes all at once!



The next thing I am going to try is an online assignment I made.  After we took our vocabulary quiz online, my students actually suggested that their vocabulary practice actually be digital too!  So wish me luck with my first try this week!

Digital Vocabulary Practice!

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