Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Found a New Cool Tool and it's Free!

 Class Tools

Problem: I've used a bunch of online and manual timers and they work ok. But this online timer adds two cool new features that I haven't seen before. My first problem is that if kids don't look at the screen, they don't see the countdown. My second problem is interuptions. I give 2 minute multiplication tests. It seems like someone always someone walks in after I start the timer.

Solution:This timer solves both those problems. Don't let the boring picture fool you. For kids who don't look up at the timer, there is now a music component! I use timers for cleanup and this timer has a 3:30 Mission Impossible Song which works perfectly. Other songs are available and you can add your own. The second issues of interruptions or late starters is solved by having multiple timers going on a once! Genius! I can't wait to try this out!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bud, Not Buddy Text Support

Confession: my teenager's middle name is "Tech Support." Not really...but it could be true! Everybody needs a little tech support sometimes. Teachers, in addition, appreciate a little "Text Support" as well. What is text support? It is all the background information for the novel you are teaching that you would love to have at your fingertips...if you just had the time to do the research. Problem: Students sometimes have a hard time relating to--and consequently, comprehending--a historical novel. Much of the book may be foreign to a 4th, 5th or 6th grader: the era, the culture, and the setting. As teachers, we sometimes assume kids "get" more than they actually do. Solution: I created a "Visual Text Support" PowerPoint slide show for the novel Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. My purpose was to generate student excitement and familiarity with the story while offering a visual context for historical background and vocabulary. I also wanted supporting activities aligned with Common Core objectives, and of course it needed a very cool but simple art project. Let's face it...I wanted the whole package! Results: This comprehensive slide show I created made a huge difference in my students' engagement with the text and understanding of the story. It has been a flexible teaching tool that has proven to be an excellent way to scaffold the text for ELL students, while all students benefited from the enriched historical background.