Black History Month presents a great opportunity, not only to celebrate the achievements of African-Americans who have helped shape our culture, but also time to reflect on where we are as a nation. We need to continue to grow together. Above all, it is a time to rise-up to remember that the only race that defines us is the human race.
In the Classroom
Teaching Black History to children helps build a connection with history, so they can better understand the past, and develop compassion for other people. Furthermore, engaging children in activities such as reading books, listening to music, making meals, or watching video footage of actual events are great ways to teach kids about the African-American experience. These are activities that can be explored all year, not just in February. Almost every new teacher asks for ideas on how to teach Black History in the classroom, so here are some ideas to consider.
I like to find a parent or a teacher who can talk about their choice of an African-American who made an impact in our cultural. They can read a book or do a speech.
Write about your favorite African American Hero.
Finally, here is a list of African-Americans who are influential for students to write about: •Oprah •Elijah McCoy •Harriet Tubman •Frederick Douglass •George Washington Carver •Booker T. Washington •Samuel Morris •Dred Scott •Matthew Henson •Garrett A. Morgan •James Weldon Johnson •Colin Powell •Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. •Barack Obama •Mary Mcleod Bethune •Ruby Bridges •Mahalia Jackson •Marian Anderson: singer •Maya Angelou: singer, actress, activist, writer, poet •Lil Hardin Armstrong: jazz musician •Pearl Bailey: singer, performer, stage, film, special ambassador •Marian Anderson: singer •Regina Anderson: librarian, playwright •Josephine Baker: entertainer •Willie B. Barrow: minister, civil rights activist •Daisy Bates: journalist, civil rights activist
Just in time to start the new year off right…. A TEACHER TpT Gift Card GIVEAWAY!
Just click the links, follow a teacher store, write the follow number in the area provided and click enter. The more stores you follow, the better your chance are to win. Good LUCK! I hope YOU get to enjoy a Teachers Pay Teachers Shopping Spree! Happy New Year!
The best way to teach students how to compare numbers is to provide hands-on learning opportunities for them to get engaged while practicing math skills. Using games with other students provided activities for my students to learn about greater than, less than, and equal to math concepts. Here are some simple ways to get students to compare numbers.
1.FLIP IT – Using playing cards (pull out the Jacks, Kings, Queens and Aces), have students flip over one card each. The person with the greatest number gets a point. When the cards are gone, count the points. The one with the most points wins.
2. Greatest Domino – Use Dominoes to have each student flip the domino over to see who has the greatest number. The person with the most points after 20 times, wins.
3. CUPS – Write numbers on cups. (one number on each cup) Stack the cups. Each child pulls a cup off the stack. Put the cups in order from least to greatest. Give a point to the student with he greatest number.
4. Rock It! – Have students collect rocks or leaves outside. They bring in theirs and compare them to other students, or groups. Discuss who has more, less or equal amounts.
5. Number Whisper – Have partners think of a secret number. They write it down (keeping it hidden). Then, give clues. For example, mine is greater than one, but less than 10. They keep giving clues until the number is solved. Students switch roles.
Christmas time for teachers in the classroom can equal crazy time in the classroom.
So, on my Instagram story if you go look, you will see that I shared a couple ways to get kid’s attention simply by saying something like “Watch me Whip” and the kids would say, “Watch me Nae Nae!” They would have to be silent afterwards. No talking. This is a way to grab their attention.
My son and his friends, who I drive home everyday from school watched it. They said that that was a really old song, and it was really not cool of me. So, they came up with some of their own. They said, “How about “Frosty!” and then the kids would say “The Snowman”. I thought it was cute! Another one that they said was “Up on the Housetop” and the kids would say “Reindeer Paws”. And then the students would be silent.
Then, one that a lot of you should know and one a lot of young kids would know would be “Kiki, do you love me?”, they can make a the little heart with their fingers, and of course, silent afterward.
So, I thought why don’t we have some fun and you guys think of any attention grabbers that you can think of, put it in the comment section below. One that I always used was “Hey Hey!” and the kids would say “Ho Ho!” Another one is “Flat Tire” and the kids would go “Shhhhh.”
So let’s have some fun and you guys share Attention Grabbers you have and use in the classroom by putting them in the comment section below. By the end of the week, I’ll take all of your comments that you all can come up with for attention grabbers, and I’ll put them in a document for you to download so you have them because we don’t want all you guys to lose your mind during Christmas time!
Check back in about a week and I’ll type them all up for you and you can download them for free! Have a great one!
I am so thankful for everything that is part of my life right now including you! My life is drastically different than it was a couple years ago! I’ve never talked about it openly because I was fearful, insecure, and riddled with anxiety.
A couple years ago, it was my 20th year of teaching. My son was in 5th grade at our school. For me, it was a year of H-E (double hockey sticks!) For the first time in my career, I had a principal who hated me. Still not sure why. Not only did she hate me, but she got the rest of the staff, who I considered my family for 18 years, to pretty much dislike and/or avoid me too. I was threatened with my evaluation, lied to, challenged with impossible tasks, given 5 MAJOR behavior problem students who physically hurt me and the other children regularly, and faced life-threatening health problems because of the stress. Prior to the last year, I had been a well-liked and highly effective teacher who loved her career path.
Without going into a lot of detail, I suffered from depression, high blood pressure, and anxiety/panic attacks. For the first time, I had been broken. My mind, my spirit, and my body were broken! I consider myself lucky that prior to that difficult year, I had never been on any kind of prescription drugs. But I knew after waking up in fetal position next to my husband, crying that I didn’t want to go to school, and losing 16 lbs. in one week due to stress, that I had to give in to what my Dr. suggested… A good therapist and drugs. I was on anti-depressants, blood pressure medicine, cholesterol medication, and XANAX! So basically, I was drugging myself to go to work. I even developed an eye twitch. If I wasn’t at work, I was fine, but the thought of going every morning would begin a cycle that was dangerous to my health. I fought it because I wanted to stay in the classroom. I loved the students and figured I could transfer the next school year. It was important to me to be there for my own son who was in 5th grade. But, even on the medication, I continued to be harassed.
After getting beat with a chair again, punched in the stomach, calling the front office for help, and realizing no one was coming to help me, I knew I had to leave the classroom. Seeing the scared faces and hearing the ear-piercing screams of the other kindergarten students as they watched their teacher get hit repeatedly, shook me to the core. I knew the only reason they were in this situation was because the principal didn’t like me. So, I had to remove myself. Now, if you question, why didn’t you report it? Why didn’t you collect data on the principal? etc.… Let me tell you, I did. On doctors orders, I left two months before the school year was over. I still had to pick up my son at school, so Xanax to the rescue. I dealt with a staff who wanted to know what was wrong with me, and because I wasn’t ready to tell them, they made up their own inaccurate stories of why I left my dream career.
My husband planned several mini vacations because I was told to relax. I know he was thinking this was the end of the wife he knew when we married. These getaways were frowned upon by staff (according to the county investigator’s report) because I was on sick leave. Little did everyone know the pain I was suffered from because WHY would I post that on Facebook? In hindsight, I should have never posted pictures of me relaxing on social media. But, in my defense, at the time I was on medication. Maybe it was also the need to let people know that I wasn’t completely broken too.
The LAST STRAW
It wasn’t until my son’s 5th grade graduation where his Certificate of Completion was conveniently removed from the pile that I pushed for a harassment investigation with the school board. Seeing her smirking face as my son sat alone in a row as his friends got their certificate knowing she was behind it as my son signaled to us that he was okay was a total mind-blowing experience. I had to beg my husband to leave before he made a scene as anger filled his “un-Xanaxed” body. Other parents were stunned, taking video and making noises to get staff’s attention that a student was forgotten. I had to stand up to tell them they forgot my son. Anyway, an investigation was done which amounted to nothing even though 9 other teachers came forward with their painful stories of harassment they endured from the principal.
The New Chapter
After that experience, even though I was offered other jobs, I decided I could not go back to teaching in this district. I took me about 6 months to wane by body off all the medication that was mandatory for my survival. Crazy how stress can mess up your entire body! I tell you this story for two reasons. One is if you are experiencing anything like this, you can know that you can come out of it stronger than you were prior to the experience. That you can find confidence, security, and begin a new beautiful chapter to your life. I found a love and passion for making educational resources that I didn’t know existed. Through this experience, I developed strategies to build my confidence back up and to become healthy again. Keep up with this blog in the future, and I will share some of the strategies that helped me. I would have never left the classroom to discover this passion without that crazy experience. The second reason is I want you to know that YOU are part of my new chapter. I love making teaching resources and helping teachers like you save time and money. This is one reason why I offer freebies and discounts regularly. Thank you for being there for me and for your students! My heart will always be in education. I value you!
I don’t know if you like or LOVE themed days in your classroom, but I LIVED for them! Themes get kids excited, which can be exhausting, BUT, they get them engaged. Don’t get upset when your kids are loud and jumping with excitement. When they are excited to learn, especially when they are having so much fun they don’t even know your academic objectives, is when you can pat yourself on the back knowing you are Teacher OF THE YEAR! My favorite theme that I used most of my career was The Polar Express. The story is perfect for squashing any “non-Santa believer’s” verbal language with other students who want the magic still. I’ve also used a Winter Frozen theme and a Movie Theater themed day.
The Polar Express
I’ll walk you through my typical Polar Express day. Parents are asked to send in hot chocolate, marshmallows, and dress the kiddos in their school appropriate PJs. (Make sure you get your principal’s permission first.) In the morning, students arrive to a chalk or taped train track on the floor leading to my classroom door. At the door, they are greeted by a crazy conductor (ME), who wants to collect money or items in exchange for a golden ticket. This is really fun! It is also the time I tell parents to come and take photos. I joke around telling kids to get some money from their parents, and then settle for a shoe or pencil in exchange for a ticket.
Polar Express Ideas
When the students enter the room, they hear train sounds, see the chairs in rows (like a train), smell hot chocolate in the air, and are instructed to stay on in their train seats with their
golden ticket. After they settle, we review rules for the day. I take out a hole punch to ask for each person’s golden ticket. I pretend to punch holes in the ticket by excitedly putting the tickets under my let, over my head or behind my back making the clicking sound. You can either collect the tickets and reuse them every year, or allow them to take them home for a keepsake.
We read the book first. I tell them that the movie came out after the book. Students are encouraged to find differences when they watch the movie. We talk about characters, settings, problem and solutions. We talk about the author’s purpose. During the week they do various writing activities, but the main themed day is about keeping the excitement all day, so focus on the fun. I tell students they are going on the imagination express to take their seats on the train. After beginning the movie, I have a little cart that I keep the hot cocoa on that has wheels. When the part of the movie comes on where the kids get cocoa, I roll out the cart, I DANCE, yes, DANCE around like crazy. Before I got to old, I did cartwheels! This is always the part of the day that the kids go home telling their parents about. I have a hot cocoa maker that I use every year that makes a whole pot of cocoa. I make it really strong and then, mix it with water so it is not too hot.
After The Movie
After the kids watch the movie, we do a Venn Diagram to compare the book and the movie. I hold a bell up and ring it. I pretend like I can’t hear it, because I must be too old or not a believer. (Sniff Sniff) The rest of the day we make crafts, sing holiday songs, and usually write a letter to Santa. This way I can send the letters home to help the parents out with some gift ideas. If you are looking for a fun themes holiday day, The Polar Express just may be your ticket!
If you struggle with figuring out how to teach science to young students when you have little time in the classroom, I have some strategies to help you achieve a positive learning experience for your students. I know for me, finding time to squeeze in science and social studies in my jam-packed plans was a struggle. The first thing I do to alleviate the stress is to integrate my reading, writing or math into a science lesson. By utilizing the other subjects during science lessons, it is a real time-saver.
If having students being engaged in your lessons is a problem, integrating science into a boring math lesson can help to produce 100% engagement with the students. For example, if you are teaching addition in math and matter in science. Why not have students collect types of matter, write about the properties of matter and then create addition problems with the matter they collected. Which brings me to the most important way to teach science. Kids need to have their hands actually on physical items in order to help retain information, especially after a long morning of learning. Encourage students to set up experiments or participate in science discussions to help boost their confidence and critical thinking skills.
Providing a Science Data Notebook helps student develop writing skills while exploring science concepts. Encourage them to collect information and drawings about their observations. Have students record steps they need to take to create a science experiment. Have them think of a burning question they want answered. Then, develop a safe plan to test something in order to answer the question. You can pick one out of all of them to actually do with the whole group. This will help them understand the scientific method.
I like to always refer to my students as scientists during science class. I want them to know that everyone can be a scientist. On Fridays, I would have Science Investigation Stations. Students could wear their father’s white button up shirt, and goggles to feel more like a scientist. Then, they get to explore at different stations. I incorporate reading and writing in the lessons to ensure I’m hitting all my academic targets. Each station has posters with vocabulary words that go with the unit we are focusing on that week. Learning science vocabulary is essential for helping students to think and communicate in future science lessons.
Make It FUN!
Most importantly, be excited for science. Students feed off of your energy. Making learning fun is simple when you use science lessons!
Here is a FREE Energy Sample for Kindergarten and 1st Grade, if you are looking for some ideas.
I love teaching in November! I know that I have so much to be thankful for this time of year! Young students should learn about Thanksgiving by focusing on being thankful, spending time with family, the First Thanksgiving, and the Mayflower Voyage. You can even teach about teamwork of how the pilgrims had to work together to build a common house. Every year I would perform a Thankful Festival for parents. The performance focuses on being thankful, family and the feast. I use music by Jack Hartmann. He is my favorite children’s musical artist! We invite the families in to see us sing songs, and eat together. Sometimes we do traditional food, but I’ve done breakfast instead, if the timing of the show was early in the morning.
I use this time of year as an opportunity to talk about family traditions, sharing, cooking together, and teaching where food comes from. Of course there is always the traditional turkey hand print that goes home every year and other turkey crafts. I like to invite guest readers during this time too. The holidays can make students a little excited, so a fresh new voice reading a book usually is just what the Dr. ordered to keep their attention.
Turkey in Disguise Family Project
By far my favorite home project all year is Operation Disguise Turkey! We send a letter home with a turkey printable for the family to help disguise the turkey so it is not on the table for Thanksgiving. Students also have to write a few sentences about the disguise. The families are always creative! My son made his into a dog. My daughter made hers into a vampire. Yes, a vampire. I guess she still had Halloween on her mind. The projects make a great conversational piece during the celebration with the family.
Great Turkey Stories
I have two favorite turkey stories I read during Thanksgiving. Turkey Trouble and A Plump and Perky Turkey. Students compare and contrast food, write about how to trick a turkey, summarize, practice comprehension, and learn new vocabulary words with these stories. If you have not read these adorable books, I suggest you buy the books or find it at your local library. They are my “Must Haves” for November.
Attentions Teachers and Educators, here is your chance to win part of $500.00 of Teachers Pay Teachers gift cards! What would you buy with it, if you win? I know many teachers are wanting to find some science and social studies curriculums to help cover what is not being provided for them in the classroom. Here is your chance to win in this teacher giveaway. Just CLICK the links to the different teacher authors TpT stores, follow, write the follow number in the action box and click enter. The more you follow, the better your chances are at winning. Good Luck!
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If you are like most teachers, you keep up with the amazing founder of Ron Clark Academy. Ron Clark is a visionary who transforms classrooms around the world by demonstrating high quality techniques that are game changers in the education field. Not only are students engaged in energized lessons, but teachers dream of visiting his school to have some of that inspiration and creativity rubbed off on them to take back to their classrooms.
Recently the hashtag #gradingpaperschallenge has taken off on Instagram due to a challenge that came out of him being bored while grading papers. He recorded himself grading papers while lip syncing Lady Gaga. Then, he added the hashtag, and challenged teachers to have a little fun while doing this tedious task of grading papers. Check out his post.
Teachers all over the world have been responding to his challenge with some impressive video clips. Here are some of my favorites, so far. (You may even see mine at the end. Not going to lie… this #gradingpaperschallenge was fun!)