Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas Countdown

Countdown to the dismissal bell. . . 

Have a long, restful, 

Merry Christmas break!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Informational Texts for Christmas

Informational Texts Teaching Resources

 for Christmas

     One thing for sure, during those two weeks before Christmas break, keeping wound-up students engaged in learning without a good plan is about as easy as keeping a submarine with screen doors afloat.  Santa understands!

   How about a collection of excellent, kid-oriented, ready-to-use Informational Texts lessons—all of them CCSS aligned—two of them FREE and the rest from $1 to $3.50?

It’s already December 10th, but not too late to grab a few more holiday life boats! 

This is my holiday gift to you!  The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with 12 CCSS aligned questions and a teacher’s page of ideas and resources for additional activities.  This link takes you to my website (Taking Grades) and the Free Stuff department where you can download more than 25 free items without having to register or mess with the shopping cart.  Help yourself!

Informational Texts:  A Christmas Duo  Grades 6-8    $3.50

This is also my product.  You can find it in my TpT Store or on my website.  Poinsettias and mistletoe are the topics of the two informational texts.  Each article is accompanied by 15 CCSS aligned questions.  Full answer keys included.

Informational Texts for Christmas (Short Passages about Christmas symbols)  Grades 2-4  $3.00

From Trina R. Dralus’ TpT Store, this product features five different short passages about the Christmas tree, Santa Claus, the candy cane, the Christmas Elf, and the Christmas stocking.  The author focuses on two CCSS skills in each text. A bargain at $3.

In her winter-themed Informational Text product, TpT Seller Terry Abromitis  features

Chanukah, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting, and the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Five Common Core skills are addressed in the accompanying questions. Great topics for students who love in-depth study.

Text Features Holiday Match  2-4th Grades  $2.75

Michelle Harper, TpT Seller from Tennessee, has come up with a clever and fun activity to help students learn the features of informational texts (captions, illustrations, diagrams, etc.) and their definitions.   I think 5th and 6th graders would have a great time with this activity as well as the little guys!

Christmas Informational Web 2-4th Grades  $1.00

The Loopy Looper, a teacher from Ohio, is offering this unique activity for a mere dollar!  Students get a graphic organizer filled with information about Christmas.  Their task is to convert the facts into an Informational Text about Christmas.  Great idea!!  

From TpT top seller Rachel Lynette, this set of 20 task cards with informational paragraphs challenges students to summarize the information in just 12 words or less.

You gotta’ have this one!

Have a long, restful, fun-filled holiday break!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Book Review

Schooled, by Gordon Korman

     First page, first paragraph, the present: a fourteen-year-old hippie is being arrested for driving a pickup truck without a license. 

     Third chapter, first page, the present: the eighth grade big-man-on-campus gets off the school bus and notices that someone has put the “L” back on the school sign.  He removes it.  This is going to be his year at C Average Middle School.

     Or so he thinks.  He hasn’t yet met the new student.

     Welcome to Schooled, my new favorite middle school title!  Gordon Korman’s story-telling skills translate into page after page of hilarious and dead-serious teachable moments.  This title is a middle-school MUST!

      A clever mix of juvenile humor (spitballs, wedgies, and sneakers dangling from power lines), boy-girl relationships, and the most serious inside look at bullying and cliques you’ll find anywhere, Schooled tells the story of Capricorn Anderson, a brilliant but totally na├»ve youngster suddenly ripped from the tranquility of his grandmother’s left-over hippie commune and deposited in a foster home with a super spoiled foster sister.  Then he takes the bus to the raucous world of C Average Middle School.  Eighth-grader Zach Powers, chief bully and uncontested leader of the school’s in crowd, quickly identifies long-haired Cap as a foolproof victim.  What fun it’s going to be watching the freakazoid fall apart and disintegrate under the pressure of the cool jokes and pranks he has planned.


     Clueless Capricorn Anderson is about to transform Zach’s bullying campaign into a rollicking love feast of peace and harmony.

    As if the C Average students and their shenanigans weren’t enough to make the title middle-school perfect, the author tells the story in first person through the eyes of eight different characters!  Cap Anderson’s first chapter narrative is replaced by a different character’s point of view in the second chapter.  Still a third character picks up the action in the next. This technique is so unusual, it took a while for me to get used to it, but I eventually realized that eight different points of view is the ideal way to tell this story.  So many dramas are taking place on so many different levels, a single person’s perspective would have told a really drab tale.
      More good news!   I just happen to know where you can find some CCSS aligned classroom-ready materials for teaching Mr. Korman’s middle-school masterpiece.

     Check out my Schooled teaching pack.  Purchase the full 196-page unit in a single PDF file, or choose from seven individual components according to your needs.  

(Please note that all CCSS alignments are listed in the answer keys rather than on the printable worksheets for the sake of my international customers.)    

   Don’t forget to download your free CCSS aligned Informational Text from the Schooled package. This article, The American Search for Utopia, is designed as a pre-reading activity for the book, but it can stand alone as an independent study.   Stay tuned for a new Informational Texts Pack, which I will be adding to the $5 Or Less Department soon along with a free Christmas Informational Text activity shortly thereafter!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Back-to-School Sale at TeachersPayTeachers

The perfect place for back-to-school shopping:
Two-Day Sale
Up to 28% off!!

TeachersPayTeachers has launched a huge back-to-school celebration with a two-day sale today (Sunday, August 18th) and tomorrow (Monday, August 19th!)

If you are facing a new teaching year structured around CCSS skills, TpT is the place to go.  Sellers have been busy all summer writing and posting CCSS products for every subject area and grade level.  You can be ready for the first day at bargain prices! 

Everything in my store is marked down 20%, and most other sellers are doing the same.  Get an additional 10% on your already discounted total when you check out (Promo Code: BTS13) courtesy of TeachersPayTeachers. 

Happy shopping!  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

One of Those Days with the Hippies

     Two weeks ago on Monday, it occurred to me that I needed to take the Taurus wagon to the car wash to have the pollen and bird biodegradables removed.  In the meantime, I had been fighting for a week with one of the informational text articles I am writing to include in my upcoming teaching pack for Schooled by Gordon Korman.  Creating a middle-school-student appropriate article about hippies is not an easy task.  It was driving me nuts!

     So, on Thursday the hippies and I are at it again, duking it out on a computer screen, making a mockery of peace and love. I decide to take a break and go get the car washed.  I’m driving the shortcut through the neighborhood backstreets, and I’m about a third of the way there when the hippies push their way to the front of my brain again.  This time, I see clearly how to rewrite a problem paragraph and un-stick the project.  I go over it several times so I can remember as many details as possible when I get back home.

     When I finally get the hippies to leave, I look up and I’m shocked.  What am I doing on this street?  This is not the way I always leave the neighborhood.  And, furthermore, where am I going?

     Dementia!   Alzheimer’s!   I have both!  No!  Think about grabbing your pocket book and stepping out the back door.  Oh, that’s right.   You’re going to get the car washed!

     Dern hippies!

     In the car wash office there are no magazines for girls—only guy stuff—so I do some more exploring into hippie history on my iPhone and get myself locked into some places I don’t know how to navigate my way out of.  After I have turned the phone off and on a dozen times, the lady calls me to pay my bill and go get my car.

     When I step in, the driver’s seat, of course, is pushed back into the cargo bay and I sit there with my legs sticking over the edge like Edith Ann on the rocking chair.  I manage to get the key into the ignition and give it a click.  The radio blares out, playing music from the wrong station.  I tap the AM/FM button and my station is back on.  I find the switch that moves my seat forward to the spot where I can reach the gas pedal.  Now the steering wheel is sitting in my lap and my legs are jammed into one position.  Find that lever and lift the steering wheel.  The radio plays on.

     Good!  Now put the car in drive and leave.  Hit the gas.  Nothing.  The car isn’t moving.  OK.  Pull the hand brake.  The car still doesn’t move.  Try the hand brake again.  Nope!  Back in park and then into drive one more time.  Hit the gas, Nothing.

     I push the button to lower the window and motion to the twenty-something attendant who is staring at me with a puzzled look on his face.  He comes over.  The radio is still blaring, so I turn down the volume.

     “Can I help you ma’am?”

   “Yes!  I can’t get the car to move forward.  Is there some sort of brake on this car that I don’t know about?”

    “Ma’am, your car’s not crunk!”

   There I sit.  Stupid on a Stick!  Degrees and certifications coming out my petoot, a successful career in education, and a car wash attendant with absolutely no skills in using principal parts of verbs is having to give me instructions on how to start a car.

     He looks like a left-over hippie.

     Go home, Margaret!

     Compost occurs.  We all have those days.