Friday, November 30, 2012

Common Core Sample Assessment Items

This is a great site to gather sample test items for the Common Core. 

Scroll down to page three to find the links listed by grade level.

Math is also available on this site. 

Using Jog the Web in Your Classroom

This web site allows you to make a list of sites to use in research, give quizzes, or view videos that you find appropriate. I am starting a cause, effect, and fact project over natural disasters with my 8th graders. Students are going to be assigned a particular natural disaster to research. they will then write a five paragraph essay on their topic using MLA citation, and make a Prezi to present their projects to the class.

This is quite a bit to try to cover before Christmas break, so I asked our fabulous librarian for some help. She introduced me to this site and has gone in an listed 5 different sites for each natural disaster on our list. My kids will link to it from my classroom page and start doing their research. This tool will be beneficial to keeping them focused  and cut down on having to closely monitor 28 kids while they freely surf the web, and free up time for me to help them with the actual assignment. There are also jogs already listed for you to use in your classroom. Just click on the link below to check it out.
I am planning on posting the project when we get it completed so stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Free Common Core Vocabulary Lessons for Grades 9-12

I was doing a little surfing yesterday and came across this site at Visual Thesaurus. These vocabulary lessons are for grades 9-12 and are aligned to the common core. I am creating a vocabulary unit for my freshmen and as definitely using some of these.  If you teach high school and are looking for something a little different and challenging for you kids check it out!

You can get to the visual Thesaurus common core lessons by clicking here.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Liebster Award!

I've been nominated for a Liebster Award...Awesome! The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers to let them know they're appreciated. Well I certainly feel appreciated!! :) Thank you to Tales of Teaching in Heels for nominating me!!

The Liebster Rules:
- You must post 11 random things about yourself.
- Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
- Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
- Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
- No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you!)

11 Random Things About Myself:

1. I have been teaching middle school language arts for 16 years, I actually am certified in elementary education with an emphasis in middle school science and social studies. (I got the language arts certification by accident!) 

2.  I have a grandson who is 8 years old  and is the light in my life!

3. I have a golden Retriever named Leo and he is smarter than I am.

4. I refer to myself in class sometimes as "The Giant Talking Head". This is brought on by frustration.

5. I have married, divorced, and remarried my husband. (aka Lifers) 

6.  I love to try new things in my classes! This year it is Interactive Notebooks. 

7.  I work seven days a week, 365 days a year, and only accept pay for 180 days. (aka Stupid) 

8. I have a great since of humor and can be quite funny at times.  I think this is why kids like my class.

9. My most embarrassing moment: Forgetting to take the nozzle out of the gas tank when I was finished pumping, and driving about a quarter mile before I realized I was dragging the nozzle, and hose, down the street:) I probably would still be dragging it if I hadn't noticed the people running behind my car!!

10. Every morning on my drive to work I get to a four way stop, and ask myself the same question: When a child walks into your room does your face light up? As long as I can answer "yes" to this question I will continue to teach.

11. I work in a district with a lot of poverty. I sometimes have trouble sleeping because I am worrying about my students.

11 Answers for Tales of Teaching in Heels

1. How long have you been teaching? 16 years, three at my first job, and 13 at my current school.

2. Do you have siblings? I have a sister who is twelve years older than me. She says I am a "Martini Baby".  I think she means I was an accident, because I don't like martinis :) 

3. How many times have you moved? Six in my entire life and I hate it! I plan on dying where I am at now, or at my desk. 

4. Have you taught all the grades your credentialed for? I'm certified for k-9, and have taught 5-9.

5. What is your favorite dessert? Banana Poke cake! I found the recipe on Pinterest. Easy and awesome!!!! I have also become a chocoholic and am in search of a support group to help me control this addiction.

6. Why did you start your blog specifically? I wanted to share some of the things that work in my class, and provide some of the resources that I use to make our difficult job a little easier. I have a couple of things on TPT, but am considering making all my items free.  I would rather someone use my stuff, than make a dollar or two. I feel like some bloggers are promoting their business more than the craft of good teaching. 

7. Do you like blogs that talk about random things, or just blogs that give away free printables and school "stuff"? Both, I like to see what neat thing others are doing in their classes and I especially like when they freely share their ideas and materials.  I also like DYI blogs and anything that has to do with cooking or home organization. I think that is why I like pinterest so much, because of the variety. 

8. What is your professional goal for the next 5 years? I have a Masters in Educational Administration and am almost done with my Specialist in Education certification. With this said, I plan on being in the classroom or helping teachers in some capacity. I would accept a position in administration if something came along that suited me, but I prefer being around the kids and don't want to have to find a new job every couple of years like most administrators do.

9. What size shoe do you wear? :) 8 1/2 welcome to the gunboat show!

10. If you could have one superpower, what would it be? The ability to cast a spell and make ALL people caring, compassionate, and tolerant of each other. Or fly, that would be kind of cool:)

11. What is your favorite thing about teaching? The kids, the kids, and the kids!!!!!

11 Questions for Nominees

1. What is your most memorable teaching moment?
2. Who was you favorite teacher in school and why?
3. Why did you start your blog?
4. Are you an animal lover?
5. What is the best book you have ever read?
6. What do you think is the most important subject taught in school? 
7. What kind of student were you in school?
8. What drives you crazy about the teaching profession? 
9. Are you conservative or liberal?
10. How would your students describe you?
11. What is your favorite age group or subject to teach and why?

11 Blogs I Nominated for This Prestigious Award

This page is a work in progress !
I keep finding blogs and getting distracted! This is very hard for those of us with ADD! Hope to have 11 nominees soon :)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Awesome Photo Journals for Upper Grades

Interesting photo journal that I made for the Promethean Board using the fabulous writing prompts of Matt Novak. These are truly original and thought provoking.  You can see his work at Photo Writing Prompts. These are for middle and high school aged students.

I have created a Photo Journal Flipchart of 52 (there are 100's of others) of his prompts to use in my classroom.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Writing by Numbers

This is a fun and free creative writing assignment that I do with my seventh graders. Students pick four numbers in advance and then find out who their characters are, the setting, and the plot. Even my most reluctant learners are thinking, and excited about writing. Try it in small groups, or independently.  Students will be eager to share their final product so try to set aside some time for them to present their stories. Below is a copy of the student handout and a PowerPoint to display. Have fun, and let me know how it went.

Get free directions and student handout HERE.

Click HERE for a copy of the PowerPoint to display on your board.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Here is a site that I plan to put on my classroom page at school for my Freshmen who finish early when we are in the computer lab. This is a great site for high school kids to practice vocabulary skills for the GRE, TOFEL, and the SAT. Here in Missouri kids take the ACT and I think it can be helpful for them too. There is also a word of the day and a dictionary. Just click on the link below to get started.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Time Fillers

Our school has a homeroom class at the end of the day. It is a full class period and I often find my kids are finished with their homework early. This can lead to trouble so I like to have fillers to keep the peace. On Fridays I will show the week in review at This has a seven dollar a month subscription fee but I use several of the videos and songs on the site.  The week in rap covers the top news stories for the week and a new one is available every Thursday. My kids remind me that we need to do the "Week in Rap".  The website can be found HERE

Here is another fun website to use. It has "Wuzzles" which my kids love to try to solve. You can link to this site HERE