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Promote Mental Health with a School Wide Scavenger Hunt

 

A  Little Bit of Social and Academic Fun

Need a great idea for your next school wide climate day? Picture this scene. Kids working happily in pairs, contemplating where the next clue might lead them. They know there is a great reward when their hunt is done. Where are they? Summer camp? A birthday party? An outdoor adventure? A museum? No, they are blissfully at school.
How do we create such a secure, encouraging, and nurturing setting? How can we support the social and emotional learning (SEL) or endorsement for the mental health of all children in school? We know  that  social and emotional learning helps learners to be prepared, gain friendships and to learn about themselves. Kids need not only academic instruction, but must also be taken care of emotionally. Social and emotional approaches can reap so many benefits, especially in the prevention of children’s mental health problems.
  
   How can this be done?
     
One way is in the undertaking of school wide scavenger hunts. Teachers and counsellors can watch and make notes on how children are getting along. How are they being treated by others? How do they interact with others? Are they happy to be involved?

    How do school-wide scavenger hunts work?
   Each students can be given a checklist. When each task is achieved a volunteer or teacher signs or initial the learner’s checklist. Students can also be given one part of a puzzle or treasure map after finding a solution. The pieces need to be joined together. Once all checks or pieces have been collected, each student wins a prize. The prize might be from a wish list or something that is useful, like magnets, dominoes, art supplies, or even a grab bag of different items.
   
   Hints might be given by volunteers or aids on where each clue might be hidden. Students might work in pairs, trios or alone to solve problems, or find clues. The kids need not stay with the entire troupe for the whole time, They each have the freedom to work alone, or find other friends for their expedition.

   Does that mean we must give up on academics for a whole day?
  
   I think that once a month  or every other month might be nice for an amusing afternoon. Scavenger hunts can be a large undertaking, but if you have teams of teachers, and volunteers from the community that specialize in a topic, the process can be made simple. Sometimes, teachers or helpers might use the same clues from year to year. But, in general, it is nicer to have new ideas and components than used, or old ones.

   Where might we have an academic scavenger hunt for kids?
  
   If your school has a large gymnasium, or a lunch room, grade levels scavenger hunt could happen there, say for middle school kids. Another choice could be having stations in the hallways for certain grade levels.
   
   Otherwise, “the littles” or small children can be combined.  The 1st, 2nd or 3nd grade teachers can hide the clues in their classroom and have clue stations. The 1st grade kids enter their own and other 1st grade rooms for clues. The 2nd grade children enter their own and other 2nd grade rooms for clues, and so on. 
So, who makes up the academic clues? 
  
   The teachers and volunteers do, of course. A team of teachers could make interesting clues, but don’t forget music, art, physical education, Spanish, French or other language education in this pursuit. Clues should suit the academic needs of your students
 What about these stations?
   
  Station designs can be made with good old cardboard and paper mache (Papier Mâché). There are many wonderful design books. Once, one of my friend’s mother created a giant lady bug. I have made castles, (a large set for a play),  a small castle for reading, and a spindle. I am no artist! Kids could help build and design the stations before the event with the help of adults. 

   

How do we go about this?
  
   Sometimes, school teams can make up one theme and involve many subject matters. For example, let’s say that most of the kids are learning about Australia in social studies.  So, your theme is about Australia. Now think of a title for the scavenger event, such as, The Mysteries of Down Under. Some panels could research facts about Australia. Then each worker prepares a certain number of clues.  
   
  For example, math teachers could make math word problems for several grades. Social studies teachers could make a map of Australia and have students locate the places where certain peoples live, or work. Learners then answer questions to a short reading. Science for primary could have a station where small stuffed animals are hanging from a fake tree. A young learner could hold a koala as he or she listens to a recording or video about this marsupial. Then, he or she chooses a paper object, such as eucalyptus leaves, that relates to the koala.
   
   What does the teacher do doing the actual scavenger hunt event?
  
   First, there is limited structure or regulations beside usual reminders such as “no running in the hallways” or other safety concerns.The teacher’s, helpers, or guidance counselor’s role is to:

a.    give hints to clues
b.    provide other examples, if needed
c.    gauge students’ progress (make notes…how are they getting along? Is the student laughing and with friends, or mainly left alone?)
d.    assist in advancement (make notes…maybe pair up 2 or 3 kids not normally together to work and talk together)
e.    intercede as needed in group activities (switching up pairs at times, subject assistance)

  Lastly, have no doubts that each student can benefit from this event!

                               Best,

                               Lynn

  If your school has taken on this academic and mental health school adventure, please tell me of your experience. What worked out, what didn’t? If you have any questions, let me know! Contact Lynn

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References
  
Choff.com (n.d). Too cool for school? Organize a classroom scavenger hunt. Retrieved from http://www.chiff.com/a/scavenger-hunts-school.htm
  
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning at the University of Illinois at Chicago. (January, 2008). Connecting social and emotional learning with mental health. Retrieved from       http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED505361.pdf


Gubi, A., & Bocanegra, J. (2015). Impact of the common core on social-emotional learning initiatives with diverse students. Contemporary School Psychology (Springer Science & Business Media B.V.), 19(2), 98. doi:10.1007/s40688-015-0045-y

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2009). Models of teaching (8th ed). Pearson Education, Inc.
  
Moesser, J. (July, 2016). Summer learning: How to make an educational treasure map. Retrieved    from http://momitforward.com/educational-scavenger-hunt/

 

 

 

MAKING THE GRADE: 4 Steps to Setting Up for Successful Assessment Practices in Your Classroom

MAKING THE GRADE will be a regular feature on my blog,  highlighting the “take away” ideas from current books, research and readings  with the common theme of achieving best practice assessment in our classrooms. Let’s get started with this week’s highlights from the book:

 A FRESH LOOK AT GRADING AND REPORTING IN HIGH SCHOOLS

by Sandra Herbst and Anne Davies

Take Away Ideas:

4 Steps to Setting Up for Successful Assessment Practices in your Classroom

Before we teach any unit or lesson, we must first plan for success. These four steps that will go a long way to ensuring that your students are set up success in the learning process! 

1.  Determine the learning destination: organize outcomes into “big idea” categories.

We need to start any learning journey in our classroom by sharing the “big ideas” with our students. Begin with the end in mind. We have to show them the target we want them to hit so they can hit it! Including our students in the process right from the start means they are expected to be and supported as active learners.  What does this look like? First we must start with the expect learning outcomes. If you teach younger grades, you will have predetermined these big ideas and have them ready in “kid friendly” language to share with your students. If you teach older grades and time permitting, you can involve your students in the process of organizing them in to bigger topics for the unit, project or lesson. What are the “big ideas” that you want them to understand after participating in these lessons/activities. Making the destination clear from the get go means your students can figure out a way to get there. Going through this process will also help you see how you can group outcomes to teach together.

2. Research the expected quality levels, create rubrics and gather exemplars to share with students. (Freebie: Link to poster of common descriptor language here. As prompted, request permission.)

Second, we need to communicate the expected quality levels with our students at their grade level.  This means that prior to the unit, project or lesson, exemplars clearly showing different levels of achievement are shared with students.  This is not a passive activity in which students are just “shown”  examples of work. Let them explore them, have them work in groups to identify and sort what makes one level superior to another. Have students really dive in and find the qualities that differentiates and demonstrate critical thinking and good work from great work. Use consistent language when creating rubric indicators students clearly know what the expectations are. RUBRICS  can help with this if they are crafted to describe what a student can do and what they need to do to move their learning to the next level. However, creating good rubrics is not easy.  To help you out with that, I’ve made a FREE poster download for my subscribers. This poster outlines words that you can use at each level. If you’d like your copy and future free teaching resources, then just sign up!

3. Plan how you will collect reliable (repeatable) and valid (measures what you want it to) evidence of learning.

(Conversations, Observations, Products)

At this stage it is time to decide and communicate to students how they will be expected to show evidence of their learning. Best practice means that to have valid and reliable evidence we must triangulate or collect the evidence from a variety of sources. Our students do not all learn the same, nor should they have to show us evidence of their learning in the same way. We have to plan for that. After all, isn’t the point of assessment and evaluation to really know what they have learned so we can help them to reach their learning goals?  As educators, then, we must ask ourselves which products (tests, projects, assignments, etc), interviews/conversations (teacher -student, student-student, etc.), and observations do I need to have so I can make a “no doubt” professional judgement about a student’s level of achievement?  This may involve planning several forms of formative assessments throughout a unit of study, gathering data that will inform our direction of assistance with each student, helping them celebrate their learning and address their needs throughout the process. Again, it is best to involve our students in the process of this decision making. Can they actively participate in deciding how to show you that they have learned the outcomes? (More ideas about ways to show evidence of learning in the FREE poster download).

4. Early in the course, collect a baseline of evidence so you and the student can see the progress and evidence of learning later.

Gathering early evidence of learning is vital to establishing a baseline of achievement. This will establish a helpful reference for  both student and teacher to “see” the learning that takes place throughout the course or unit of study.  Think of this process as much the same as why a doctor takes your blood pressure and heart rate for your medical records. He or she then has it for referral to monitor your health over time. Having the baseline provides evidence as to whether your health is improving, staying status quo, or declining. In the education process, this baseline can inform our programming choices for a student and help them witness their successes while addressing their needs.

Finally, I can’t stress enough, that the authors of this book make the assertion that best practice assessment is only achieved when evidence is gathered over time and from a variety of sources. Assessment is a process that provides data driven instructional practice, whereas evaluation is the final professional judgement of the process. When approached in this manner, the research clearly shows that higher student learning results. The research of Sandra Herbst and Anne Davies, then,  should inspire all of us to evaluate and improve our assessment practices for the good of our students.

Best,

Sharon

Teacher, Author, Assessment Coach, HSD

References:

Herbst-Luedtke, Sandra, and Anne Davies. A Fresh Look at Grading and Reporting in High Schools. Courtenay, BC: Connect21earning., 2014. Print.

Get Out of the Classroom and into Learning

   

   Here is a small little classroom with children’s desks all in rows.  The teacher’s desk sits prominently in the front of the classroom and lectures might be given at a podium. Most of the student’s daily work is done here, while being seated in this relatively small space. Does this sound something like your classroom? Probably not, as this is a description of The Oldest Wooden School House in Saint Augustine, Florida, which dates back to the early 18th century. This was the daily life of colonial school children. So, what is wrong with that?

Lack of  Physical Activity
   When my grandmother was a child, she once told me that she would walk to school five miles there and five miles back every day. I thought to myself back then, it was probably a welcomed relief for her to be seated in school.  My parents also walked to school. In the old days, most all teens worked at home, on farms or at a part-time job. My dad worked carrying blocks of ice for an ice truck company. My mother worked at an old time soda fountain. Today,  many children don’t work and most children ride the bus, only to be sitting much of the day.  It is known that remaining seated for hours has detrimental effects. As Thompson (2011) stated, there is a need to offer better design solutions for people in the environment, considering the present health challenges (Thompson, 2013). 
Imagine This!
It is the status quo to teach in a small classroom. But, so much more can be done to make learning more interesting and active. Other settings for instruction can inspire everyone’s creativity and make school an even more inventive place.  Shouldn’t schools be involved in some new ideas? Thompson (2013) wrote, “The outdoors leads to greater levels of activity than remaining inside buildings,” (Thompson, 2013).  Here is an example.  Imagine being able to use the 5 senses: hearing, smelling, seeing, touching and feeling motion (Wood & Hall, 2011 in Chin-Shyang & Mei-Ju, 2015).  How about being able to see artwork which reflects the grass, paths, and even a facilities shape? One museum does just that. A children’s playground with famous artist’s work adorns the landscape (Wood & Hall, 2011 in Chin-Shyang & Mei-Ju, 2015).  
Solutions
Obviously, not all communities offer museums with playgrounds or can even afford to transport children back and forth on a regular basis.  But,  the good news is that Outdoor Education (OE) settings can be designed right on school grounds.  The OE designers can be a team of teachers.
Experts suggest that OE designers incorporate the ideas of using the 5 senses in the project, just like the museum (Brittin, Sorensen, Trowbridge, Lee, Breithecker, Frerichs & Huang, 2015). Here are some suggested steps to follow.
1. Choose an outdoor classroom area.  
Weather conditions might require an awning cover or canopy.
2.  The OE space should be near natural learning settings, such as fields, woods or gardens.  
3. OE spaces should make available
(a) gardens for learning and activities 
(b) trails 
(c) natural terrain 
(d) water fountains, and
 (e) power, water, and light to support OE classrooms settings 
(Brittin, Sorensen,Trowbridge, Lee, Breithecker, Frerichs & Huang, 2015).  
A team of teachers can create lesson plans regarding the surrounding environment of the school.  In the middle school I attended years ago, the Boy Scouts blazed a trail for the school children. We took our science journals, wrote about the flora and fauna and drew pictures of what we saw on the trail. My science teacher spoke of the plight of the Monarch butterfly and milkweeds were planted in a field for them to eat. 
But, what about extreme weather conditions? Urban schools? Costs? Read more in my next article, Settings Other Than Schools, Part 2
Imagery supplied by Thinkstock
References
Augustin.com. (n.d). Oldest wooden schoolhouse. Retrieved from  http://augustine.com/thing-to-do/oldest-wooden-school-house

Brittin, J., Sorensen, D., Trowbridge, M., Lee, K. K., Breithecker, D., Frerichs, L., & Huang, T. (2015). Physical activity design guidelines for school architecture. Plos ONE, 10(7), 1. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0132597

Chin-Shyang, S., & Mei-Ju, C. (2015). Whose aesthetics world? Exploration of aesthetics cultivation from the children’s outdoor playground experiential value perspective International Journal of Organizational Innovation, 8(2), 158-171.

Thompson, C.W. (2013). Activity, exercise and the planning and design of outdoor spaces. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 34, 79-93

Regards,
Lynn @ TiePlay Educational Resources
TiePlay Educational Resources LLC

Creating Literacy Centers, Part 2: Using Multi-Media

Using Multi-Media to Inspire Learning

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Hi Y’all!

   Last time, I discussed (in an example) that many kids were having difficulty understanding the concept of cause and effect in my class. Then, I found some topics from my curriculum that I could use to create centers. Now, I am going to use those topics to find or create multi- media centers that correlate to my fictitious XYZ curriculum.

Glitter Words

Science: Pollution
A Breathe of Fresh Air
http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/c4kairfl11.pdf
New York State Conservationist for Kids magazine

Create a Poster
Print out the pages and place the magazine at a center. In pairs, students read the magazine articles. Each learner finds some reasons for air pollution as well as and pollution’s impact on the Earth. Then, the partners can create a poster together (like the one on page 5) showing good ozone, bad ozone, factories, power plants, fires, trucks and buses.

Social Studies: The Silk Road
The Silk Road Lesson Plan
http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/citi/resources/Rsrc_001878.pdf
Provided by the Art Institute of Chicago Department of Museum Education

Travel Journal
The Silk Road Lesson Plan by the Art Institute of Chicago Department of Museum Education has some great ideas. I loved the idea of a travel journal. I thought having your learners create a travel journal would be another great center.
Learner pretend to travel the Silk Road either as a merchant or a missionary. They can describe and draw their insights and some cases of cause and effect on the trade route. Completed travel journals can be placed on a table or hung on a wall for others to read.

Language Arts: Expository Text on Natural Disasters
Flooding
http://www.watersafetykids.co.uk/pdfs/flooding.pdf
Facts about Hurricanes
http://www.azpbs.org/mastersofdisaster/pdf/Hurricanes/HurricanesLevel2.pdf
Facts about Tornadoes
http://www.azpbs.org/mastersofdisaster/pdf/Tornadoes/TornadoesLevel3.pdf
Gather different natural disaster text at a center, such as the above print outs. Learners can choose one topic for a report. Have individual students pretend they are a newscaster or meteorologist explaining the cause of a faux or real natural disaster, such as a flood happening now, and its effects. Students can create a recording, video, scrap book of photos or PowerPoint in this activity to show to other class members.

Mathematics: Money Problems Involving Interest
Practical Money Skills

    At this center, provide each student with a bank account book. Sometimes, your local bank might donate lined record books to your students. Each students has a weekly allowance which can be drawn out of a hat. The center has catalogs of various merchandise. Students decide how much they will save or spend over the course of two or three weeks. State that the bank will give interest for money saved. If a student saves only 50 cents a day, a savings account could grow to over  $182 in one year. After two weeks, students reflect on their allowance spending or saving and the reasons for the final amounts in their faux bank accounts.

Interventions
 As an intervention, view the following videos and discuss cause and effect.

Ormie the Pig

Cause and Effect Review Lesson for Elementary Students!

If you have any questions or comments about literacy, I’d love, love, love to hear from you!

Best,
Glitter Words
@ TiePlay Educational Resources

For more ideas, freebies and resources, check out Lynn’s blog and stores.

The Benefits of Cooperative Learning

http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/cooperative/howto.html

Cooperative learning can be so much fun for students and teachers. But, what is cooperative learning, and can it be successful in teaching objectives in the classroom?

Cooperative learning is team work and students working together to complete an assignment. Each team member is expected to do his or her share of the work.  Group work in the classroom is known to develop better learning and colleague skills.Students also become better prepared for the work world.

Yes, studies indicate that cooperative learning can be very effective. But, there are methods that teachers should follow in order to develop the maximum student achievement.

Cooperative learning involves may types of skill sets.Group interaction, accountability, social skills, and positive interdependence abilities are encouraged. The teacher is able to see how group members
interact.The instructor is also able to talk to the group or individuals about any difficulties that they are having with the material.

Learners of all ages enjoy cooperative learning. How about your class? For more resources, and a list of cooperative learning how-to’s read on!

For task cards, a form of cooperative learning, visit my store at
 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Tieplay-Educational-Resources-Llc

by Lynn Horn

Tie-Play Educational Resources

Continue Reading >>

Healthy Schools: Climate Matters

kidsgroupA healthy school climate is needed for most students to achieve academic success. What is a healthy school climate? A healthy school climate is where all school employees are friendly, kind and considerate. A healthy school climate is where community members feel welcomed into the school. A healthy school climate is where students believe that they are an important member of their class, and are able to contribute in their own way. And more.

Okay, but why should school employees not act indifferently, like in other professions? The fact is education is not a business. The way persons interact within a school district is known to greatly affect students’ academic achievement, emotional well-being and even physical condition (Blum, 2007). When school district professionals are warm, caring, and encourage student triumphs, students are very likely to do well. On the other hand, negative attitudes are known to gravely impact effective teaching and learning, which often results in an overall low staff and student morale (Blum, 2007).

Students need to feel socially united and be of the opinion that they can achieve the academic standards set forth for them (Blum, 2007). Yet a great school environment not only also focuses on the well-being of the whole child but also the community and staff members. An educational system is important for all community members and therefore, should unite the population and encompass equal opportunity for all. In other words, a successful school is one big and happy family.

studentsbarteal

howdoes schoolrate

  • School buildings and grounds are well maintained and with help of the community
  • Teachers are released from non-teaching tasks (hall duty, bus duty, lunch monitoring, recess, etc.)
  • Reward teachers for innovated teaching skills
  • Materials for teachers are evenly distributed
  • Involve parents in skill building workshops
  • School rules involve kindness, respect for others and personal property, discourage leaving others out and all can contribute to the school rule creation process
  • Provide support for students that need academic, social and guidance assistance
  • Speak to students about their future
  • Allow students to try an assignment over again if they have not succeeded
  • Expect students to do their work and be responsible
  • Older students are expected to help younger students to achieve skills in a buddy system
  • Reward student for academic achievement, talents, and contributions such as kindness and progress
  • Maintain fair school rules and consequences that apply to everyone
  • Staff members avoid teacher cliques, exclusionary behaviors and instead model appropriate kind behaviors toward others and students
  • Collect materials that interest students and provide hands-on and real life projects.
  • Inclusive behaviors involve all staff and community in various school functions in some way

16 = Awesome school!

14 = Getting there, but needs some work

12 = Really, really, really needs work

Below 12 = Needs a new agenda!

References:

Blum, R.. (2007). Best practice: Building blocks for enhancing a school environment. Retrieved from http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/military-child-initiative/resources/Best_Practices_monograph.pdf

Imagery supplied by Thinkstock.com

Blog: http://www.tieplayeducationalresourcellc.com/

 

tieplayWritten by Lynn @Tieplay Educational Resources, LLC, on May 1st, 2016.

Art Lesson: Create Your Own Mandala Art!

What are you doing in your art class this week?

 I wanted a project that would help reinforce the concept of symmetry with my students.  I thought Mandala art would be the perfect project and with the coloring-book craze right now, Mandala is all the rage! Now you can have your class do it with this easy template. I can’t wait to try it out with my class.

“Mandala” is a Sanskrit word meaning “circle” or “completion”. It is often recognized to represent wholeness.Which shapes and colors will you use to express your whole self? The best thing about creating your own Mandala art is that you can choose any shapes and colors you want. Make one or more than one, but the important thing is to have fun!

Mandala Art_Page_1 Mandala Art_Page_2Here’s how you can have your students create their very own Mandala art in class using this template that I made for you. Good luck!  Come back and send me some pictures of your class creations. I’ll post them on the site. It’s fun to share!

Here are the steps:

1. Cut out along the black square lines.

2. Fold in half along the center vertical line and then open and refold along the center horizontal line.

3. Now fold along each straight diagonal line and unfold again.

4. Starting from center make a design in only one “pie-shaped” piece of the circle.

5. Now repeat that same pattern in every other section either by folding the paper and tracing over the original design,

or use a Mirra board along each dotted line and try to duplicate the original design in each section.

6. Once your finished drawing, add colors. Remember to color each section with the same color scheme. Look at the examples

to help you.

Now how do you get the template? Easy. If you are a subscriber to my newsletter, then you get my fabulous freebies.  It’s totally free and I promise not to share your email with anyone else.  I respect your privacy and I hate spam, too, so I won’t do that to you. The best part about signing up is that you’ll also get all the FUTURE FREEBIES that will come to your inbox with the Quest Teaching Newsletter! I can’t wait to hear from you!

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Google Classroom is Calling!

Today we’re going to dive into Google classroom! Let’s take a good look at how to set up your Google classroom and get started with the powerful tools it offers.

What is Google Classroom?  Google Classroom allows you to set up an on-line virtual classroom complete with the ability to set up assignments, grade assignments and provide feedback and send out announcements to your students via the internet.  No more taking home suitcases full of assignments as your students’ work will be literally at your keyboard “fingertips”.

How do you set up your very own Google Class?

  1. Go to classroom.google.com/
  2. Check the upper right-hand corner of your browser to be sure you are signed into google with your school email address (Your tech department will have set this up.)
  3. Now you are ready to set up your first class. I like to set up a class for each subject area even though I have the same students for all classes. To set up a class, just click on the little + sign up by your name. Then type in the name of the class and a descriptor. That’s it! You’ve made your first class.  Want to see it in more detail? Here’s a great tutorial that shows how!

In Google Classroom, you can STREAM announcements, add assignments, give STUDENTS feedback, and set up information ABOUT your class.

4.  Next you can put in some information about your class.  Just go to the ABOUT button and tell your students about your class with information like where the class takes place, a description, etc.

5. Now your ready to add some assignments. It’s easy to do .  Just watch this tutorial to get you started.

6. Finally, Let’s take a look at what your students will get and how they can open and complete assignments.
First they can attach almost any kind of work to hand in: file, google doc, or link to their work on the web. Here’s how:

If they’re working with a google doc or form that was teacher created, then they can simply complete their copy and hit the “turn in” button. Here’s a good student tutorial to show your students how:

So there you have it,  you are ready to set up your google class and get googlin! Have fun, and enjoy the learning journey.