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Make RSA Animate Videos

14 Oct

Okay, I love this idea!

Check out this blog to learn about making RSA Animate videos with your students.

If you don’t immediately recognize RSA Animate, check out this video. It’s one of my favorites – so fun (and true)!


Flash Fiction

4 Oct

Check out the NYTimes’ post on reading and writing flash fiction. There are some great questions here about what makes a story and some fun ideas for expanding and compressing texts. There are also links to all sorts of interesting related materials. Fun!

Have you or your kids tried your hands at flash fiction? Do you have a favorite piece? Please share 🙂

Summaries and Superfudge

27 Sep

The NYTimes Learning Network is a great place to look for interesting lessons. I am particularly looking forward to this new series in skills lessons, which begins today with summarizing. Our sixth grade teachers told me a few weeks ago how much trouble their kids have with summaries, and I remember from my years as a graduate assistant teaching freshman comp that the skills don’t come a whole lot easier to college freshmen. It shouldn’t be a hard sell to get kids to buy in to the fact that summarizing will be important in their lives, no matter what they decide to do after high school. So, check out the ideas posted in this article, and let me know if you try them out.

As a parent, I’m trying to start early. My husband and I have begun reading chapter books to our first grader, and last night, as we finished Superfudge, we started thinking about what to read next and realized we already couldn’t remember what books we’d read to her so far. (Charlotte’s Web has been everyone’s hands-down favorite up to this point.) Anyway, what came from that discussion was the idea of having our daughter start keeping a scrapbook of her reading. I’m thinking she can write the title of the book, a few sentences about what it was about and maybe a reflection or two; illustrations are also allowed 🙂 I mean, other than the drawing part, that’s pretty much what we asked our freshman comp students to do. Oh, poor offspring of a nerdy English teacher – she’s working up annotated bibliographies at 6!

How can we help our kiddos become natural summarizers? Also, if you can think of any awesome chapter books for six-year-olds, please let me know 🙂

Telling Stories

26 Sep

Um, how amazing is this?

TED curated a series of six lectures on the topic of storytelling, all of which are so wonderful and would be so rich for kids to watch in school. I particularly love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s piece on the danger of a single story. You can find her piece as well as the five others in there series here.

It’s narrative-writing time in our school, and I’m also in an essay-writing course at the local U. So, stories are on my mind these days, big time.

Bell-Ringer Exercises

9 Sep

Here are some interesting ideas for bell-ringer exercises: Read.

In general, I like bell-ringers, but I add the caveat that bell-ringers could very easily translate to wasted time. In my book, if the bell-ringer doesn’t function as a warm-up for the activity to follow, then it’s just time wasted, and in periods that are 36 or 42 or 47 minutes long, we can’t spare that time. So, if we’re gearing up for a lesson on dialect in Tom Sawyer, and we ask the kids to think about local slang or code-switching and write down an example conversation we might hear in our local dialect, well, that would be a great kick-off. However, if we ask them to pen a poem about their favorite animal, well, it’s not that that’s a valueless activity, it’s just that it doesn’t fit. So, I’m always trying to make sure to connect my bell ringers to whatever we’re going to be talking about for the day.

How about you? Is your practice similar? different? How do you deal with those first few minutes of class?