Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays and Some Free Resources too!

Happy Holidays to you!  I’m headed to Ireland for Christmas and New Years with my family to enjoy some vacation time and visit with my grandmother.  Happy Holidays - Enjoy over 60 free teacher resources!We’ve rented a beautiful cabin with every amenity, except internet, so I’m signing out for the holidays as of today.  I’ll return early in January with plenty of pictures!

While I’m gone, please feel free to peruse my FREE Resources Page, which I’ve just updated.  There are now over 60 resources available for you.  Consider them a Christmas present from me to you!

Happy Holidays!

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

TESOL Teaching Tip #42 - Conjugating Verbs is Important!

As a teacher at an International School, many of my students are English Language Learners. Even my native English speakers are living in a non-English speaking country. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. Here is this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:

TESOL Teaching Tip #42 - Teach verb conjugations. Verb conjugations are very important in other languages, so students who are transfering from a conjugation heavy language to English need to know how English verbs conjugate as well. Stop by this blog post at Raki's Rad Resources to find strategies and download a freebie that will help you teach verb conjugations to your esl or ell students.

ELL Teaching Tip #42: Teach Verb Conjugations

My oldest son is going to school in French and Arabic, and he spends long hours memorizing verb conjugations.  (And I do mean long hours, in and out of class, in third grade!)  While this seems excessive to us (or at least to me), it is done because verb conjugations in both of these languages are complex and difficult and are required for students to be able to speak and write correctly in these languages.  In English, we tend to gloss over verb conjugations because there is so little to them.  However, our language learners often have a hard time with verbs for two reasons:

1.)  In their heads, they have 5 or 6 different words for a verb and so they expect there to be 5 or 6 different words in English to correspond to the words they have, even when there is just one.

2.)  Different languages conjugate verbs differently for male and female and place a male or female tag onto inanimate objects.  Many English Language Learners then expect this to carry over to English and can’t figure out why the eraser isn’t a “she” and why the verb for “falls” doesn’t change because of this fact.

Now, I don’t suggest spending hours memorizing English verb conjugations, but I do spend time conjugating English verbs so that they can see the similarities and the differences.  I also point out the similarities and differences that I know and encourage my studentsThis free verb conjugation sheet allows English Language Learners to compare verb conjugations from their home language to verb conjugations in English. to find as many similarities and differences as they can, so that they will cement in their minds.  My students show those differences by filling out on a sheet that shows 1.)  the connection between the past, present and future  tenses and 2.) allows them to compare the conjugations of these verbs in their home language and in English.  You can download this sheet free from Google Docs if you would like to use it with your class.
How do you work on verb conjugations with your English Language Learners?

Everythings-Intermediate-Expo7222232[1]Do you enjoy the weekly TESOL Teaching Tips? Would you like to view an hour long presentation on this topic? I recently presented on Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners at the Everything’s Intermediate Expo. Now you can grab the presentation for just $3.95 from Teacher’s Notebook.

Find more TESOL Teaching Tips here, and come back every Tuesday for a new tip!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary


Please keep all of these families in your thoughts and prayers today.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Saturday, December 15, 2012

6 Online News Sites Created for Classroom Use

Today we have a special guest blogger joining us.  I’m proud to present Jillian Terry from Teaching Degree.  She has agreed to share some great websites with you.   signature



When I was a freshman in high school, I had a history teacher who made my class read the newspaper at the beginning of every lesson. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that exercise served a higher purpose than just keeping up with current events. It was really a lesson about democracy. My teacher also used it as a way to bring history alive by showing how current world issues often have roots going back hundreds of years.

Because of this, I believe that reading and encouraging an open discussion about world news is a great way to encourage awareness and foster enlightenment. However, since newspapers aren’t as popular as they were when I was in school, here’s a list of some of the best online, kid-friendly news sites on the web today. Use a mixture of local news sources and the following sites for full news coverage.

CNN Student News

If you have access to a digital projector in your classroom, you can watch the daily news segments created by CNN Student News. The videos usually run Some of the best online, kid-friendly news sites to use in the classroom.around ten minutes and contain stories from the U.S. and abroad. Teachers can download transcripts for each segment for reference, and a news quiz is provided to test student understanding. Students can also send their own video news reports and request school shout outs. If accepted, they will be aired on one of the student news segments!

PBS NewsHour Extra

The PBS NewsHour Extra website is packed with high-quality, teen-friendly news and student commentaries. I say “teen-friendly,” because the articles are written to be read by students in grades 7-12. Some of the best online, kid-friendly news sites to use in the classroom.This is another news site that provides teacher lesson plans to encourage full classroom participation. I especially like the Student Voices section which gives students the opportunity to voice their opinions on current events. Daily video clips are also available in the Teacher Center section. These can be used to supplement news stories or other classroom topics.

Nick News

Some of the best online, kid-friendly news sites to use in the classroom.Nick News is a weekly kids’ news show that has been produced for the Nickelodeon network since 1992. Today, the show has its own website where visitors can find news articles and videos from past shows. I’m a big fan of the documentary-like videos which cover how current world issues are affecting the lives of children and teens. For example, this video about local water supply tells the story of how kids in different parts of the world get water to their homes every day.

TIME for Kids

TIME for Kids is a weekly news magaSome of the best online, kid-friendly news sites to use in the classroom.zine published by Time, Inc. Although classrooms must subscribe to the magazine and wait for it to arrive via mail, its digital version is open to the public and can be accessed from any computer. Although the website doesn’t feature as many news stories as the magazine, there are additional features on the site that still make it worth a visit. For example, the Homework Helper section is a good resource for students who need help with English grammar and writing.

CBBC Newsround

Newsround is a weekday kids’ news show produced by the CBBC (the children’s version of the BBC). Even if you don’t live in Great Some of the best online, kid-friendly news sites to use in the classroom.Britain, you can still access the show’s content on its official website. There, you can read a variety of stories, watch video clips, take news quizzes, play games and more. The stories are all very short to accommodate the reading levels of very young students.

Teaching Kids News

This website was started by a Toronto-based freelance journalist and elementary school teacher. The freelance journalist was a parent to one of the elementary school teacher’s students. After asking the journalist to sSome of the best online, kid-friendly news sites to use in the classroom.peak to his class about the news, the teacher came up with a brilliant idea to start a website that produced kid-friendly news articles. has been operating now since 2009 and is updated on a daily basis. What makes this site difference from other kid-friendly news sources is that each article is accompanied by a lesson plan to aid reading comprehension, promote discussion, and teach grammar.



Jillian Terry is a freelance education writer and former teacher. As an advocate of homeschooling and online education, her writing often focuses on new methods of education and curriculum reform and has been published on various education websites, including Jillian welcomes your questions and comments below!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Africa Puzzles

Sorry for my recent absence from the blogosphere, I’ve been plagued by a terrible migraine and I’ve been steering clear of the computer. I have however, had my students on our computers and iPad recently as we’ve gotten a good start on our Africa unit. We’re using the folktales of Africa to learn about African culture, history, geography and economics. Unfortunately, our unit gets split up with Winter Break, but at least this will give me time to put the finishing touches on our Connected Glog Project and All About Africa PowerPoint, which I will share via my Teachers Pay Teachers store after Winter Break. But until then, here are some technology resources that my kids are enjoying, that you might also enjoy using with your munchkins:

Free iPad app - Puzzle of Africa to teach students the names, shapes and placement of the countries of Africa.1.)  Put Africa Back Together Puzzles – We have one puzzle on the computer and another on our iPad.  Both allow the kids to recognize the shapes of the countries, the names of the countries and the regions that the countries are coming from.






2.)  Find Africa Facts – Students can find facts about particular African countries on this kid-friendly website.  I pondered the idea of having each child choose and research a country of their choosing, but with our unit being split up by Winter Vacation, I’m not sure that we’ll get to this project.





3.)  Read African Folktales Online – There are many websites that provide quality African Folktaafricanfablesles.  Our favorites are called African Folktales and African Fables and Myths.



Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Getting Ready for 12-12-12

Holy Holiday Rush, Batman!  This last week has been so crazy for me that I have all but fallen off of the face of the blogging world. We have had report cards and parent conferences this week, as well as finishing up my Earth Science unit and beginning my new unit on the Folktales of Africa.  Then, we also have preparations for our holiday show – Light Up the World with Celebrations – songs, lines, decorations, programs, etc. 

To top it all off, one of my little sweeties is getting ready for a big move, leaving us to move with her family to Kenya, so we have been trying to get in time to make her last days special.  So, when she asked if we could do something special for 12-12-12, how could I say no?

So, here I was tonight, putting together a fun sheet of random facts that connect to 12.  There are an amazinWhat is your class doing for 12-12-12?  Here's a sheet with lots of 12 connections - to words, numbers, shapes, measurement, the human body and more - free from Raki's Rad Resources.g number of them.  Like, did you know that twelve comes from a Germanic word “twalif” meaning two more?  Or that you have exactly twelve finger bones (without your thumb)? Or that there have been 12 people to walk on the moon?  Okay, the moon thing might be a fluke, but there are some serious historical and mathematical connections to twelve.  Our entire system of measuring type is based on 12 – 12 months in a year, 2 sets of 12 make a day, 12 sets of 5 minutes make an hour, 12 sets of 5 seconds make a minute.  This list goes on.  Grab this free sheet from Google Docs to use with your class on 12-12-12.

Some other things we are going to do is:

- Sing the 12 Days of Christmas

- Fold paper cubes – each cube has 12 edges.

- Play with a deck of cards – each suit has 12 face cards.

- Count on by 12’s from random numbers

- Scout around  our room to find other groups of 12.

What do you have planned for 12-12-12?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Holiday Treat for Free

It’s December!  I can say Happy Holidays!  First, I have to say sorry to anyone who was here over the last 24 hours and was asked to enter a password.  My blog was hacked for a bit, but it has been all cleared up now!

Winter Holidays Tips and Free Teacher Resources E-Book from the Teacher Authors at Teachers Pay TeachersToday, I am excited to announce the arrival of the 2012 Winter Holidays Tips and Freebies E-Books!  There are 4 of them, divided by grade level:



Grades 7 – 12

Grades 3 – 6 (Featuring me on page 38!)Winter Holidays Tips and Free Teacher Resources E-Book from the Teacher Authors at Teachers Pay Teachers

Grades 1 – 2

Grades Pk – K

Each book contains 30 – 50 pages of holiday tips and links to holiday freebies created by the teacher authors at Teachers Pay Teachers, and each and every book is completely free!!  Stop by and get yours today and don’t forget to send the links on to your teammates or other teachers who might benefit from a free holiday lesson or two (or almost 200) during this holiday season. 

Happy Holidays!

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How do YOU divide?

Today is Thursday, so my post should be an iPad app suggestion, and I have a great one for you, but I had something cool come up in class today and decided to share it with you.  Stop by tomorrow for this week’s app suggestion.  Now, on to my eye opening math lesson.

Last week, on my kids math assessment, there was a problem that asked the kids to divide $5 between 6 kids.  All of my kids got stuck on this problem, so I decided to take the opportunity to use this to review long division.

Now, bear in mind that my math program doesn’t actually teach long division, instead it teaches students to use multiplication to solve division problems.  However, many of my students have been taught to divide in previous years at other schools.  All of my students are new to this school and this math program, and as they are coming to me in 3rd or 4th grade, they already have a base built in their previous programs.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), they don’t all come from the same previous programs.  Out of a class of 7 (Yes, I’m the luckiest teacher in the world and I only have 7 kids!), 2 have “American International School” backgrounds, 1 has a “British International School” background, 2 have “Moroccan  Private School” backgrounds and 2 have “Spanish Private School” backgrounds.  Because of all of this diversity, I always try to tell my kids that there are many ways to solve a problem and you should choose the way that makes the most sense to you. 

Last night I assigned a few math division problems to help them review.  While we were reviewing them in class today, one of my students taught me a new way to divide.  Here’s what her paper looked like:

A New Strategy for Long Division

It totally blew my mind at first, and I actually had to go to my husband (who grew up in the Moroccan Private School system) to actually explain it to me.  Once he did, I was able to see the connections between the now 3 different ways we haFree printable poster with three different strategies to solve a long division used to solve a long division problem.  So, I decided to make a poster for my kids to help them see the similarities and to guide them through choosing the strategy that works best for them.  I’m going to make similar posters for the other operations, as I work out all the different ways to solve those problems too.  Right now, I only have division finished, but if you’d like a copy of the poster, feel free to grab a free copy from Google Docs.

Now, my curious mind is wondering – how do you divide?  Which of these methods is your preferred method?  Do you have another?  I’d love to hear about!  Please leave me a comment!

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Website for Geography and More

It’s time for the Wednesday Website suggestion!! For two years, I was the Technology Specialist at a scFree E-Book:  Websites for the Elementary Classroom by Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resourceshool in Georgia. During that time, I amassed a large collection of websites that I use with my students. You can download my E-Book of Websites for the Elementary Classroom for free from Teachers Pay Teachers or Smashwords, or, you can check back here each week for the Wednesday Website suggestion.

This week’s website suggestion was suggested to me by my teammate.  It’s a website she swears by because “it has everything”, called Sheppard’s Software.  It really is wonderful and has interactive games for so many different topics, including language arts, science and math.  However, our favorite sections of this site is the World Geography section.  There are interactive games allow students to play with maps of the world, or maps Use Shephard's Software to teach Geography - Suggested by Raki's Rad Resourcesof specific regions. 

My students’ next unit is on the continent of Africa, and when I started searching around this site for games on Africa, I found:

- a game where students can learn the names of each country

- a game where students can learn the capitols of each country

- a game where students can learn about the rivers of Africa

- a game where students can learn about the bodies of water surrounding Africa.

- a page where students can learn about the animals of Africa

- a page with information for each country of Africa


I am so excited to use this website to build a base of knowledge on Africa and geography for my students.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Most Basic Math Manipulative

Last week, my class was working on mixed numbers in math.  I had tried everything – manipulative pieces, iPad apps, drawings, explanations, but I had 2 students who were just stuck on this concept.  They just couldn’t seem to grasp what I was talking about.  Then, one day at lunch, we came across the answer – oranges.  Everyone wanted more oranges, but there weren’t enough oranges left for everyone to have one.  So one of our directors took the two oranges, peeled them and split them between the students.  One of my students who has been stuck on mixed numbers said “Look Mrs. Raki, we get to eat two oranges!”

Talk about dropping a teachable moment in my lap.  WSome of the best learning happens not because we plan it, but because of those wonderful teachable moments.  Stop by Raki's Rad Resources and see how I used oranges at lunch to teach mixed numbers.e talked right then about how she actually had one whole and a fraction – a mixed number.  Then, as a class we walked out front the the orange tree (Yes, we are lucky at the International School of Morocco and we have our own orange tree!), and collected some oranges.  We went upstairs and immediately used the oranges to model and write out a variety of mixed numbers, and to add, subtract and divide using fractions.  None of this, of course was on my lesson plans, but my kids had light bulb moments and serious learning took places, so who cares!

What’s the best lesson you every taught that WASN’T IN THE LESSON PLANS?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday Sale on Teachers Pay Teachers

I hope that everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving.  We are celebrating today here in Morocco, as many family members were working or at school on Thursday.  However, I had to stop by and let you know about something big that’s coming up on Teachers Pay Teachers on Monday.  There is going to be a HUGE sale for Cyber Monday, which has also been extended to Tuesday.  Many, many teacher authors are putting their stores on sale for 20% OFF (including ME – check out my store here) and then the amazing people who run Teachers Pay Teachers are offering another 10% – with the promotion code CMT12 - which equals a possible 28% off (not 30%, because one discount is applied after the other) of literally thousands of possible teaching products.  Here are some of the deals you can score at my store alone:

Get 28% off of everything at Raki's Rad Resources' Teachers Pay Teachers store during the Cyber Monday + Bonus Tuesday Sale.

Get 28% off of everything at Raki's Rad Resources' Teachers Pay Teachers store during the Cyber Monday + Bonus Tuesday Sale

Get 28% off of everything at Raki's Rad Resources' Teachers Pay Teachers store during the Cyber Monday + Bonus Tuesday Sale

I hope you stop by on Monday and stock up on resources that will make your teaching life easier.  While your waiting, please leave a comment letting us know what is your wishlist.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Friday, November 23, 2012

Writing From the Rock’s Point of View

Last week, my class did a special read aloud to connect to our Earth Science unit.  Rather than read another informational book, we used our class iPad and an app called The Rock Cycle (free at the iTunes store) to read a story of a rock that changes from lava to igneous rock, to sedimentary rock, to metamorphic rock.  This interactive story was written in rhyme, and was written from the point of view of the rock.  It gave my students a great picture of how rocks change, and gave me a great idea for a final project. 

Have students write stories from a rock's point of view to work on both earth science and point of view in writing - free download from Raki's Rad Resources.My students  have been working on the different ways that rocks form and the different ways that rocks break.  Next week, they are going to write their own stories from the point of view of two rocks – Slow Sammy who changes very, very, very slowly (through erosion and sediment etc.) and Fast Freddy who changes very fast (through a volcano, earthquake, hurricane or other destructive force).  We are going to write our stories on this quick sheet I made (which you can grab from Google Docs if you’d like), and then they are going to transfer their writing onto large sheets of paper and illustrate.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Visit from the Book Jeannie

Today we have a special guest blogger joining us.  I’m proud to present Richard Giso from Room to Read.  He has agreed to share a great class reward that he uses.  After reading, be sure to grab the freebie he is offering.  signature



Here’s a spin on an idea that a fellow first grade teacher shared with me about a “Book Fairy” that visited her children’s literature class when she was a graduate student.

I searched online and found a jeannie lamp. The whole idea is that my class gets a visit from the “Book Jeannie” as a reward. The first time the Book Jeannie comes to my classroom, the lamp appears with a brand new, wrapped book and a letter written on “Book Jeannie Stationary.”

I act all surprised and really jazz this occurrence up! We read the letter and book together. The book becomes a part of my classroom library. I leave the lamp in my library. When the Book Jeannie comes again, it always moves to a new spot. This fun filled idea is a great addition to any classroom. Here are some pictures of me getting ready for a “visit”:


Use the Book Jeannie as a class reward and literacy builder.

I chose the book “Perfect Square” my Michael Hall.



Use the Book Jeannie as a class reward and literacy builder.

I bought some shiny wrapping paper with a glitter bow.



Use the Book Jeannie as a class reward and literacy builder.

I wrote a note on my Jeannie Stationary.



Use the Book Jeannie as a class reward and literacy builder.

I get my jeannie lamp, wrap the book, attach the note and I am ready to place this in my classroom library. Not only does it serve as a reward for good class behavior, but it also promotes a love of literacy.

Please visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store for this freebie.

  - Richard Giso 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Chocolate Rocks

My class is working on Earth Science and what better way to way to work on that, but to make rocks out of chocolate!  We had a free morning, so here’s what we did:

We started by cutting up a big hunk of chocolate into nice big chunks to melt down into “lava”.
Free printable sheet to guide students through the process of making candy rocks.     Free printable sheet to guide students through the process of making candy rocks.
We also chopped up some nuts to stand for our “minerals” that mix into our “lava” during heating.  Then, we scooped our rocks onto a tray to let them cool into our “igneous rocks”.
Free printable sheet to guide students through the process of making candy rocks.     Free printable sheet to guide students through the process of making candy rocks.
Next, we started in our “sedimentary rocks”.  On top our our cookie “layered rocks”, we layered melted chocolate, chunk chocolate and nuts.  Then, we covered the “rocks” with plastic wrap and worked together to apply pressure to our “sedimentary rocks”.
Free printable sheet to guide students through the process of making candy rocks.     Free printable sheet to guide students through the process of making candy rocks.
Finally, we made our “metamorphic rocks” by placing our pre-formed sedimentary rocks into the microwave for some quick “heat” and applied more pressure.  This time, however, the pressure was applied by just me, as it was a sticky, chocolately mess!  Of course, at the end, we at our yummy products!
Free printable sheet to guide students through the process of making candy rocks.     Free printable sheet to guide students through the process of making candy rocks.
Throughout the entire process, my students had a data collection sheet that they used to record what their rocks looked like, and keep them busy Free printable sheet to guide students through the process of making candy rocks.through the transition time that generally occurs in all cooking activities.  Feel free to download a copy of this sheet from Google Docs if your class wants to make Chocolate Rocks too.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Friday, November 16, 2012

Better Than Sticky Notes

Report card time is here!  My school uses standards based report cards, which means that my “grade book” is more than just a series of number grades.  MoreUse everynote to organize your anecdotal data - better than sticky notes! important than number grades for standards based report cards are anecdotal notes.  This year, a co-worker of mine has turned me on to a better way to write down those anecdotal notes than on the endless stream of sticky notes.  It’s a free iPad app/ website program called Evernote.

Inside this program, I have created a notebook for each of my students and then notes for each subject.  Every few days, I leave notes about each student.  When I use this as an app on my iPad, I can add pictures, pdfs or recordings to each note.  This has been a great way to do fluency checks and running records.  I can take a picture of the page or upload a screen shot, and then record my students reading the page. 

Use everynote to organize your anecdotal data - better than sticky notes!Since this program is also available on my computer and the notebooks automatically sync, I can also edit the notes on my computer.  This is great for me, because honestly as much as I love my iPad, I HATE typing on it, and I HATE trying to copy and paste even more.  So, if I have comments that require typing or copying and pasting, I can easily add them in on my computer and still have those notes on the iPad when I need them to conference with my students.

I am also planning on using these notes to help guide my conferences with parents.  Also, since my co-worker and I group our students for reading, we can also e-mail each other our notes on each others students, making report cards and conferences that much easier! 

Overall, this app has made my life so much easier and it’s way better than sticky notes!

For more ways to organize for report cards, check out this linky part at Teaching FSL.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources