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5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and a Free Gift

Looking for activities to celebrate Earth Day? Help your students learn vocabulary while they learn about caring for the planet.
Try these:
  1. Make recycled paper with your class using your own classroom paper scraps. (See some great instructions in this video.)

  1. Plant trees in your community
  2. Start a community garden to help supply your local food bank
  3. Help your students learn vocabulary while they learn about caring for the planet.
  4. Make musical instruments from recycled materials from home. Then have a mini-concert to show off your class talents!

Finally, help your students learn vocabulary while they learn about caring for the planet with this free word search.  Ecology, recycle, sustainable…and more! This free Earth Day worksheet is appropriate for learners 3rd to 6th grade. The search contains 21 Earth Day vocabulary words. Happy Earth Day!

Your feedback is very much appreciated. Thank you!

Build Interactive Rubrics in Record Time!

Rubrics Made Easy

Why don’t teachers like to make rubrics? Because it’s difficult and time consuming. But that all changes with this tool!

Wow! I am pumped! I just returned from the Google Summit in Lethbridge and couldn’t be more excited about the multitude of new tools available with Google for Education.  At the summit I presented a  session highlighting new way to use Google sheets to lighten your work load when it comes to making rubrics for any classroom activity! Intrigued? Read on!

In my role as Assessment Coach for our school division, it’s my job to help teachers implement best practices when it comes to assessment.  To this end I’ve been using doing a lot of research and having great conversations with teachers about how to involve kids in their own assessment.  Can our students be involved in the process of collecting, organizing and presenting their evidence of learning. Better yet, can they be responsible for it?  Yes. Yes. YES!

How? First of all we have to let them know what their learning goals are. This is where outcome or standards based assessment shines. When we share with our students the targets we want them to hit it gives them confidence to streamline their efforts toward those goals. Clearly identifying those goals and communicating them to your students is the first step to success.

One way to accomplish such a lofty goal is to break open the rubrics! (And yes, it is just one of our goals, but an important one.) Well built rubrics use specific language that allow students to see clearly defined expectations of work quality and depth of understanding.  Rubrics are useful, however, not as an after thought for marking student work. Instead rubrics must be used at the beginning of the learning process as a means to involve the students in identifying their learning goals and being invested in the assessment process.  When used in this way, rubrics provide the road map for learning success.

The challenge?  Designing well built rubrics is downright difficult!  Time and time again, teachers express to me  how difficult  it is to come up with the right wording for their rubric. It’s a time consuming process that must be repeated and tailored to each new activity, project, unit or lesson. My question is… why keep re-inventing the wheel?  What if we could have a bank of rubric descriptors that we could use for a variety of different purposes. What if we could use that descriptor bank in a myriad of combinations to populate and make a custom rubric for each unit or all the performance based activities within a unit.  Yes… what if?  That was my thinking when I decided to make interactive rubrics.

These rubrics are: (use slides)

Interested? Here’s how the interactive rubrics work. Watch this:

Can you see the possibilities? Could this same process be applied to make other useful tools for assessment in the classroom?  Absolutely!

The response from teachers throughout our school division—to this time-saving tool— has been phenomenal. They love it! It’s so good that we can’t keep it to ourselves.  I’ want to pass these helpful tools on to my subscribers.  If you are interested then subscribe here  to my newsletter and I’ll send you a very special access to a pre-built science rubrics for any grade 1 – 9 ( Disclaimer: They are built for the Alberta Curriculum, but I suspect that with some minor tweaking in the wording they can fit your curriculum, too. They are totally editable but not edible.) You’ll also get access to a prebuilt blank rubric, and step by step video instructions on how to use them to make your own interactive rubrics for any subject.

As always, those who sign up will find these language posters included.  

It’s my goal to empower all of you with the tools you need to make it easy to implement best practice assessment in the classroom. I’m here to help anytime. Just email me at sharon@questteaching.com 

Best,

Sharon

P.S. I’d love to hear how you use these rubrics in your classroom. Respond in the comments below or drop me a line!

 

Raspberry Red Goodness from Mother Earth

Raspberry1The sun is shining and the birds are singing. I notice a few wild raspberries blooming among the shrubbery, and it reminds me of walking with my children happily collecting and eating the berries as we ambled through the countryside. Today we don’t find nearly as many bushes growing untamed along the roads as more construction and fewer farms are seen in my area. Still I wondered where did these berries come from and how did they get here.

There is some archaeological evidence that Paleolithic cave dwellers ate raspberries. Red Raspberry, or Rubus idaeus, is native to Turkey and was gathered by the people living in Troy as early as the first century B.C. Rubus idaeus means bramble bush of Ida named for a nursemaid and the mountains on which they grew in Crete. During the Hellenistic Age they were associated with a Greek fertility myth that the berries were white until Ida, the nursemaid of Zeus, pricked her finger on one of their thorns and stained them red. Later on the Romans conquered vast territories and spread the seed of raspberries throughout their empire as evidenced in archaeological ruins of buildings and forts. These berries are mentioned in the fourth-century writings of Palladius, first Christian bishop of Ireland. During the Middle Ages raspberries were used for food and medicine. Artists employed their red juice in paintings.Only the rich could afford them until King Edward I in England encouraged their cultivation and made them popular in the late 13th century.Raspberry2,pic

The red raspberry may have originally come to North America with the prehistoric peoples crossing the Bering Strait. Explorers arriving in North America found Native Americans eating berries of all kinds. They dried them to use while traveling. European settlers brought seeds and new species of hybrid plants. In 1737 William Prince established the first plant nursery on the continent in Flushing, Queens, NY, and raspberry plants were listed for sale. Estate records from George Washington’s home in Mt. Vernon, dating from 1761, reveal raspberries being cultivated there. One hundred years later, more than forty varieties of raspberries were known throughout America.

Luther Burbank introduced many raspberry hybrids to Americans. He produced a multitude of crosses providing an unlimited variety of qualities. These raspberry plants may be a bush or a vine that grows up to three feet high. Their fruits are ready to eat right off the stems and separate easily by using your fingers, as long as you are careful of the prickly thorns. Wild berries supply food for birds and small animals. Many useful products are gleaned from raspberries: jam, jelly, juice, pies and ice cream. Health benefits are limitless. Raspberries contain high amounts of antioxidants that are believed to fight cancer and heart disease. The high content of Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2, and Vitamin C, and Niacin keep our bodies strong. In addition the minerals of calcium, phosphorus, iron and potassium benefit all.

Today more than 70 million pounds of raspberries are sold within one year. So take a walk this spring to see if you can find some of these tasty and healthy raspberries.

Barbara Ann Mojica

Little Miss History

Flipped out over Flippety! Simple Flashcard Review Tool

I just learned about this awesome review/flash card tool called FLIPPETY that I am flipped out for and excited to share with you!  Let me explain.

FLIPPETY  is a tool that let’s you convert a simple Excel doc. into “flippable”—I’m not sure that’s a word, but I’m using it anyway— online flashcards, in a flash!  The tool is a fast easy way to create a review for test, new vocabulary, or any content that you want to go over with students. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Flippety.net.
  2. Read the simple instructions, which are basically:
    1. Make a copy of the template, change the questions and name them.
    2. Go to file ->publish to web ->publish. Then copy the link.
    3. Click on “get the link here” tab. Paste the link into the light blue cell (you’ll see the tab at the bottom of your flippety doc), to get the link to your flashcards.
    4. Click on the link to view your cards.  Be sure to bookmark or post the link, so you can access them easily in the future.
    5. Wallah! You are done.  You can share the link with parents, collaborative teachers, or your students so they can access the review from any device.  Cool, huh?

I made this review for my class in about 5 minutes.  It was easy and fun.

The Rocky Mountain Region Review

You can even color code the flash cards according to question type, or just add color for interest. Check it out!

One final bonus? Flippety also generates a printable list of the questions/answers, a word cloud, and a printable quiz! And… if you prefer to make it into a Jeopardy type game board, instead of just flashcards, you can! Great just got better! Here’s the link with instructions: Flippety Quizshow Link

This tool is now on my list of “Most useful” for the classroom. I hope you find it useful in your classroom, too!

Sharing is caring! If you found this post useful, please share, like or tweet about it! And before you go, be sure join our weekly newsletter so you’ll never miss another post. Newsletter subscribers also have exclusive access to fabulous freebies.  Each week I give away new resources for your classroom, absolutely free! Sign up to get access to these freebies each week!

Best,

Sharon

Teaching Students About Sky Science? This Read Will Launch New Understanding

JessieJessie is a historical fiction that follows the lives of the Cole family as they are removed from their home on Merritt Island, Florida to make way for the growing manned space flight program. They relocate across the Indian River to the small town of Indian River City where the four teenage boys must learn to cope with a new school, bullies, social changes, and family separation as they watch with anticipation America’s race to the moon.

I was born the same time the Space Shuttle program was ramping up, and nearly ever kid I knew had at least one parent working at the Space Center. I will never forget the day we watched the Challenger launch and knew the instant it had all gone wrong. The announcement of the end of the program was heartbreaking, but it gave me the spark to jump back in time to see how our space adventure started. I had a basic knowledge of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, but my research gave me a new appreciation for the men and women who took a leap of faith and invested themselves so passionately into creating new technology. This story focuses on the astronauts, but every person who worked behind the scenes was just as important, as those brave enough to climb atop the rockets and race into the sky.

 DISCUSS IT WITH YOUR CLASS 

(These questions can also be accessed in free pdf form here):DiscussionQforJessie

Scan

  • What was the space race and why was it important?
  •  What do you think is next for the space program?
  • How do you think this story would have been different if it took place from 2000-2009 instead of 1960-1969?
  • What scene resonated most with you personally in either a positive or negative way? Why?
  • Did any of the characters remind you of yourself or someone you know? How?
  • Were there any moments where you disagreed with the choices of any of the characters? What would you have done differently?
  • Have any of YOUR views or thoughts changed after reading this book?

In a time when we take for granted so much of the technology we have, I hope this story will reawaken a desire to learn more, to strive for new frontiers, and open our eyes to strength of our own dreams. I kept a list of the he resources I used and I’m happy to share them with you. I hope you will find them as inspiring as I do.

RESEARCH

I did a great deal of research for this book. There are a number of books I would recommend as additional reading:

A history of Kennedy Space Center by Kenneth Lipartito

Brevard: On the Edge of Sea and Space by Elaine Murray Stone

History of Brevard County, Volume 2 by Jerrell H. Shofner

Moon Launch! A History of the Saturn-Apollo Launch Operations by Charles D. Benson

Memories of Merritt Island by Gail Briggs Nolen

My two personal favorites were:

Live from Cape Canaveral: Covering the Space Race, from Sputnik to Today by Jay Barbree

Gemini! A Personal Account of Man’s Venture Into Space by Virgil “Gus” Grissom.

Jay Barbree also recently released a book on Neil Armstrong that I am greatly enjoying.

I had the chance to tour Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.to see the original launch sites used during the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo days.

I saved many of the videos I used for research on my YouTube channel, including original news footage of launches and even the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Of course I used the NASA.gov website extensively as well as archive.org for audio of misson control during the launches. NASA also has a website for educators and students to learn more about what is going on now with the International Space station, aeronautics, aviation, black holes, constellations, and more.

Meet The Author: 

Rebekah Lyn is a popular Indie writer with a strong following of loyal readers who enjoy her inspirational novels of Faith, Adventure, and Hope. She is a Christian with a heart for new beginnings, and her desire is to reflect that in each of her books.

She received her Bachelors degree in Communications from Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Florida and her career immediately introduced her into the life of event planning, media coordinator, and client interaction. She has been employed for nearly 20 years by a Fortune 500 corporation in Orlando.

Rebekah is a sandal-loving native Floridian, growing up in Titusville, Florida, within sight of the Kennedy Space Center. This was an exciting time to live on the Space Coast, with launches taking place on a regular basis. Growing up, the best place to watch a launch was at the edge of the Indian River, just blocks from Rebekahʼs home.

You can connect with Rebekah online at:

 Website: http://www.rebekahlynbooks.com

Blog: http://www.rebekahlynskitchen.wordpress.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/RebekahLyn1

Facebook: http://facebook.com/authorRebekahLyn

Email: authorrebekahlyn@icloud.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5444665.Rebekah_Lyn

Independent Authors Network: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/rebekah-lyn.html

 

No Nonsense Video Snippets Provide Students with Note-Taking Summaries

There’s a wealth of great educational sites on-line now, but youtube is still a great standby for many topics.  I recently came across a group of science videos put out by mocomi kids. What I like about these videos is that they are easy to follow and often have text overlay which allow s the teacher to stop the video and let students take notes about what they are viewing. The note overlays provide a great summary of the content for tudents to keep for later reference.  There are a variety of Science and Social Studies topics covered.  Though the no-flair production does not have all the bells and whistles, these short, no nonsense video snippets  make a resource for introducing or summarizing lesson content while holding the attention of students.  Just another great tool in teacher’s toolbox.

Should We “Allow” Our Students To Cheat?

treasuretakersbivenn

Click here for your free Treasure Takers Pack!

The answer is a resounding, yes!  We should absolutely allow our students to cheat. Bear with me while I explain.

As teachers we’ve all experienced the “class” discussion during which our five top students are engaged and contributing, while the others are slumped in their desk, playing with their pencil,doodling on their notebook or dreaming out the window.  So how can we engage all our students in the discussion? Well, first we have to set all students up for success by giving them something to contribute.  Letting them “cheat” before they share is a strategy  I have found to work like magic in my classroom.  In my classroom we call it “Treasure Takers!” and   here are the steps:

1. Hand out a venn diagram, chart, or series of questions you want them to fill in to get the discussion started.  Click on the picture  for a free versions of editable Treasure Takers activity sheets including: venn diagrams, and question sheets.  Just add your own labels and questions and your good to go!

treasuretakerstrivenn

Click for a free Treasure Takers Graphic Pack

2. Give them a limited time (a few minutes) to fill in everything that they think they know about the subject/ concept/ question to be discussed.

3. Then tell the class that that when you say ” Get the Booty! ” they are allowed to wander around the room and “steal an idea from another person’s paper, then come back, record it and steal again from someone else until you give the signal to come back to their ship by saying, “All aboard!”   Tell them they must be quiet to be sneaky as they “steal” other people’s treasure.

4. Keep repeating the process, until most students have at least a few items on their chart.

5. Now ask for class contributions to the discussion and everyone’s hand goes up! Now you can call on any students because they all have something to share!

An alternative is to hand out the master and leave it blank on the desk, then put them into small groups to fill in a large version of the diagram on chart paper, then send them to other groups to “Take the Treasure!”  They then return to their group and write it down .  You can rotate the groups they can steal from if you want it more structured. It works well, either way.  Finally, they then get their individual master and fill it with the ideas from their group’s chart which was full of “stolen” ideas.

This leads to great discussions about what is true, misconceptions, etc.  .

In conclusion, sometimes letting them “cheat” and “steal”  is a fun way to get them engaged and feeling successful enough to participate in the learning.  It’s the hook that grabs your students. Once you have them, it’s easier to reel them into the learning! Of course, all this thievery happens long before the real “test”. Have fun with this one in your classroom and let me know how it worked for your class!