Saturday, June 30, 2012

Using Mentor Texts in Writing–Blog Swap and Hop

Today is the Blog Hop and Swap.  Over 65 of us teacher bloggers have joined up to guest post all over the place.  You can find my guest blog post about great websites to use when teaching math over at Teach the Math.  Here on Raki’s Rad Resources, you will find Jana Wilson Thinking Out Loud sharing her great strategy for teaching with mentor texts.  After you have read her post and mine, please feel free to scroll to the bottom and check out the other amazing guest blog posts happening today only!



Hello Raki’s Rad Resources fans!  Heidi has generously allowed me to guest blog for her today in honor of the Blog Hop and Swap.  I am excited to be here!

One of my passions is reading and sharing that love of reading with my students.  One way I share that love is by sharing great literature as mentor texts during writing time.  Linda Dorn said, "Children learn how to become writers through meaningful interactions with more knowledgeable people."  Who is more knowledgeable about writing that an author?  How do you become knowledgeable about writing?  Reading great books!

Mentor texts model the craft of writing for students.  "In order to write a particular kind of text, it helps if the writer has read that kind of text" (NTCE Beliefs about the Teaching of Writing).  What does that look like in the classroom?  While I was getting my master's degree in reading, we had to complete a two week summer reading camp for students in grades first through fifth.  I, along with three other teachers, were assigned a group of seven students who just finished first grade.  One of my fabulous teaching mates, had the students create their own picture book based on a shared reading we had previously read together.

The first step is to remember to use a mentor text that has been Using Mentor Text to Teach writingpreviously read aloud to the students.  You want the students to focus on the strategy of the writing lesson, the how the writer wrote.  The mentor text in this case was
A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman.  She began the lesson with, "We are going to write books like the authors of the books we like to read."  She reviewed what the book was about and then had the students focus in on a repeated pattern in the book:  A ____ is a house for a _____.  She told them that they were going to write a book with that pattern.  She modeled for them.  For guided practice, they took the sentences that weren't using that pattern and applied the pattern. 

  Book - "Mosquitos like mudholes or puddles."
  Student version - "A puddle is a house for a mosquito."

Then the students brainstormed other possible houses and she created a chart.  She then had them verbally rehearse what they were going to write and describe what their illustration would be with a the group (since it was so small...if I was doing this with a whole class, I would put them in partners or groups of four).  They wrote their sentence down individually and conferenced with the teacher to make sure they followed the pattern.  The next day they illustrated.  I took all the illustrations and the cover she created to Staples.  I had them bound and each student left summer reading camp an author.  They were so excited to receive those books.

Another mentor text that I love is Cynthia Rylant's When I Was Young in the Mountains.  I worked with a class to create a picture book following the pattern in this book also:  Creating a Picture Book.

I want to leave you with one of my most favorite quotes.  I couldn't have created (and my students couldn't have created) my model picture book for the Rylant lesson without my writer's notebook.  Ralph Fletcher is my go-to person on using writer's notebooks.

Quote from Ralph Fletcher's A Writer's Notebook

Wonderful readers of Raki’s Rad Resources, thank you for having me today.  I have enjoyed my time here.  Come by and visit me at Thinking Out Loud any time.

Thinking Out Loud - Teaching Blog - Guest Blog Post

Make sure to check out all the other wonderful guest blog posts by clicking HERE.



Thursday, June 28, 2012

K5 Learning Review

Homeschooling my boys in EnglishMany of you know that in addition to being a teacher, I am also a mother to 3 young sons – ages 8, 4 and 1.  During the past school year, they started going to school in French & Arabic, and while we did some English “homework”, we really didn’t spend a lot of time working on enhancing our English skills.

This summer, I decided we needed to spend some time focusing on some of those English skills, so I signed up for a free trial of K5 Learning.  Now, I was lucky enough to get a free 6 week trial, because I have this wonderful blog to use as a venue to share my experiences, but anyone can sign up for a 2 week free trial and see exactly what this program is all about.  During that first 2 weeks, you can also request an assessment for each child, to find out where they are starting from.  For me, this was the main reason to sign up with K5.  Since my children don’t go to school in English at all, I was really “guess – timating” where they were really at.  This assessment gave me information to help guide what I worked with them on.

What’s even better, is that the program K5 uses used that information gathered in the pre-assessment to get them started at exactly their level.  It also differentiates for them. 

K5 - Online program for Math and Literacy Skills  - Recommended by Raki's Rad Resource

For example, my 4 year old taught himself to read solely off of sight words, and so while we’ve worked on letter sounds, it was clear from his assessment that we needed to back up and build his base in phonics and phonemic awareness.  Now, when my son gets on for his reading lessons, he is working on beginning sound, ending sound, middle sounds, rhyming words, and all those phonics base skills he needs to develop.  My 8 year old showed a stronger picture overall, but had areas of weakness, especially in the measurement section of the math,  When he gets on to his lessons, I often find him working on elapsed time, distance, and other measurement activities.  There are also spelling and math fact practice sections, but we haven’t spent as much time on these concepts.

So, what do the lessons consist of?  They are small, cartoony examples, which often ask students to click around, as they follow along with the explanation on the screen.  Then, after each little mini-lesson, there is a very interactive game.  My sons love the games, because they come with characters they like, and let them pretend they are helping a robot or playing with an alien – K5 - Online program for Math and Literacy Skills  - Recommended by Raki's Rad Resourcestuff like that.  I do love that the games are much more structured than the ones we play at various other “free” websites, and I really love that the game connects to the lesson and the lesson attaches to whatever skill my sons need to work on.

I have been requiring my sons to do K5 for 30 minutes every day, and then I’ve been working with them on workbook type activities, and other things I’ve prepared for them.  However, they often ask to stay on “just a little longer”, and so probably spend about 40 – 45 minutes a day on K5.  Once school starts, and they have homework in French and Arabic again, we will probably use K5 exclusively and just go to the supplemental materials when one of the kids hits a particularly rough patch – like Kal did this week in his subtraction with regrouping lesson.  Now, my free subscription actually runs out on July 1st, but I plan to renew my subscription before then and pay for my kids to continue with this great program where the English AND Math lessons tailored to their needs.

K5 - Online program for Math and Literacy Skills  - Recommended by Raki's Rad Resources

This is a great site for homeschooling parents, or even non-homeschooling parents, who simply want a supplemental resource.  I know I’ve spent almost as much on some supplemental workbooks as I will spend on a month of K5’s activities.  Right now, K5 doesn’t offer this program to schools, but it’s a great thing to recommend to parents who are looking for something extra!  If you take K5 up on the 2 Week Free Trial, feel free to let them know that Heidi Raki sent you.

K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students.  I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program.  If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their  open invitation to write an online learning review of their program. 

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

America’s Story–Library of Congress for Kids

It’s time for the Wednesday Website suggestion!! For two years, I was the Technology Specialist at a school in Georgia. During that time, I amassed a large collection of websites that I use with my students. If you want to search through some of them, you can check out my IKeepBookmarks site. Or, you can check back here each week for the Wednesday Website suggestion.

Did you know that the Library of Congress has an entire site just for kids?  It’s called: America’s Story, and it’s wonderful for grades 2-6.  There’s lots of cool, fun facts on it that will interest kids, like: Did you know America's story - library of congress for kidsthat the first bathing suits were made of wool?  and Did you know in the original version of Miss Mary Mack – she only had 3 buttons down her back, not 24?  All of the facts connect to great, kid friendly articles about real events from history.

In addition to these “fun” areas, there are places to learn about:

- Amazing AmericansPresidents, Explorers, America's story - library of congress for kidsInventors, Athletes, Entertainers – many different categories are covered in this section, and for each section, there are links to different people – from Abraham Lincoln to Langston Hughes to Harry Houdini.  For each person, there is a kid-friendly biography, a timeline and links to other articles about that person.


- Time Periods in American HistoryFrom the America's story - library of congress for kidscolonial times to the cold war – each important era in American History is covered well on this site, with a kid-friendly write up, a timeline and links to other articles on each time period.


- US StatesAmerica's story - library of congress for kidsClick on a state – any of the 50, and find a great kid-friendly write up, with key facts, a small map, and links to other articles that tie into the important facts about the state. 


How can you use this site with your students, or your personal children?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TESOL Teaching Tip #29 - All English Learners are Not “Created Equal”

My class this year consisted of 20 students, of which only 1 spoke English only in his household, and even he began his life in a bilingual environment. The other 18 spoke at least one, if not two other languages in their homes, and go to school in English, although they don’t live in an English speaking country. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. Here’s this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:

TESOL Teaching Tip #29 - Know your students' language and literacy background. The more we know about our students, the more we know how to motivate and engage them. Stop by my blog - Raki's Rad Resources to find more information on getting to know your esl and ell students.

ELL Teaching Tip #29: Start Out With the Info

At the beginning of each school year, you get a list of students with no information.  If you’re lucky, you might get a star next to the names of students with an IEP or who attend ESL or Gifted and Talented, but rarely do you get more information than that.  If you’re like me, you may run to the teachers from the previous grade and ask for more information.  However, those teachers may or may not be back, or available for you to ask, and so we often start each year fresh. 
With any student, it is nice to have additional information about their background and home situation.  However, when dealing with English Language Learners, it can completely change how you should be teaching them.
For example, if you get a fourth grader who has been learning English for less than six months and has Arabic as their academic language, you are going to need to spend some time working on those basic alphabetic and phonetic principles.  Whereas, if you get a fourth grader who speaks Spanish at home, but learned how to read in English and Spanish at the same time, you will not need to do alphabetic or phonetic principles, but you will spend more time on vocabulary, idioms, and activities that will bring their spoken and written English to the same level as their Spanish (if it isn’t already).
There are other things that can impact a child’s language development as well – for example if their parents don’t read or write in the home language or English, this can impact their language development.  Knowing their math ability in their home language can also be helpful.
Language Survey - Gather Information about Your English Language Learners by Giving Parents this Free Survey
How, though, do we get that information about our students?  Well, one way is to take some time to go back through their student records.  Another way is to issue a “Language Survey” with your beginning of the year paperwork.  On the language survey, you can gather information about what language(s) is spoken and read at home.  (Great information to help with parent communication too!)  You can also find out when your students started speaking in their home language, and in English.  This language survey, translated into both French and Spanish, is included in my Parent Communication Forms Packet.

Language Survey - Gather Information about Your English Language Learners by Giving Parents this Free Surve

Language Survey - Gather Information about Your English Language Learners by Giving Parents this Free Surve

Successful Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners - VideoDo 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!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Teaching with the Language Experience Approach

Hello everyone, I’d like to introduce you to this week’s guest blogger: Natalie of Teach ESOL. She’s going to explain the Language Experience Approach, which is a great method for English Language Learners, but really works for all learners.  I’ve used it myself in lots of different settings. If you like what she has to say, please take a minute to stop by her website and check her out.signature_thumb1


At the beginning of my first year teaching English learners I was terrified I would never get them to utter a word without just mimicking what I said. I was also baffled as to where I was supposed to access this all-important yet elusive “background knowledge” I kept reading about. I mean they just smiled and nodded or stared at me blankly whenever I asked a question. After much frustration, charades, laughter, self-doubt, and tears I finally landed on something that worked for us! Whether you teach native English speakers or English language learners, you are undoubtedly teaching children language. The way children communicate outside of school is more than likely completely different from the way they are expected to communicate in school. I happen to teach English language learners, but even if you do not, methods that work well for English learners can also work wonders for any student. The Language Experience Approach (LEA) is particularly useful for any student who struggles with academic language. While I advocate for maintaining home languages and dialects, I must concede that there is a standard variety of English that will help students succeed in school and in life. I have found success in helping students produce this “standard English” (just any English at all, in my case) and academic language by using LEA.

I know that at some point in graduate school LEA was at least mentioned and written on a list of terms to know for my teacher certification test. Nevertheless, when one of the essay questions asked how I might incorporate LEA into my teaching all I could think was it was just one more acronym I didn’t know the meaning of. Of course, the first thing I did after the test was to read all about LEA! Now I am thankful that I was stumped on that test because I have enjoyed the process and the results of using LEA. If you are not familiar with this approach to teaching language or reading, here is my take on LEA in a nutshell.

First of all, oral language is the first domain of language to be developed, so before asking students to read unfamiliar stories or even words, it is helpful to engage them in activities where they can listen and speak using the target language. After the students have used the language orally, they then dictate the activity to the teacher. The teacher writes what the student says (verbatim, including errors) and then the student reads what the teacher wrote. By using this approach, students are building a bridge between the spoken and written word. The teacher could also skip the activity part and just write about any personal experience the student wants to talk about. I don’t often do this though, because at the beginning of the year many of my students have little to no English, and later in the year, I want to focus more on academic English, which they are not likely to use when telling personal stories.

One of the easiest and most fun LEA activities this past year was with my K-2 students about the parts of a plant. The very first thing we did (the boring part) was to draw a big flower on chart paper and label the different parts. The students practiced pronouncing the words. We also talked about the things a plant needs to survive and drew and labeled those things. The next day, I gave the students pre-cut pieces of construction paper to make their own flowers. They then used the chart from the day before to help them label their own creations. Their final products looked like this:

Plant Project for English Language Approach

While making the flowers the students had to produce the language when asking the teacher for a stem, some soil, the petals, etc… and follow spoken directions of how to place the parts and draw their own roots. The students then explained to the class how they made and labeled their flowers, using the new vocabulary. Many students wanted to say “stick” for “stem” and “dirt” for “soil”, but by the end of the day they were all using the new words with little difficulty. The next day was the fun part: planting our own flowers. Each student got some seeds and soil to plant in a plastic cup. I poked holes in the bottom of the cup while discussing the importance of letting the water drain, and the students ran their fingers through the soil, while using their previously learned adjectives to describe what they felt. We planted, discussed a good location to put them, and then came back inside to get down to the business of reading and writing. Students first summarized the activity of planting their flowers as a group while I wrote what they said on chart paper. After that we took turns reading what they “wrote” together. Finally, the students used that model to write their own activity summaries. Kindergarteners were able to use the model to copy difficult words, while second graders were expected to elaborate with more adjectives. The final performance was to read what they wrote back to the teacher and their classmates.

As you can tell, when using LEA, students get practice in all four language domains of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Best of all, the students they are usually happy and excited all the way through the lessons. I know all children have limited attention spans, but combine that with the inability to understand most of what is being said and it’s a monumental struggle to maintain attention and order. While the activities are often a little dirty and loud, it is worth it! I hope other teachers, especially those that have some English learners in their class, will find this method helpful. This example was from the elementary level, but I also teach middle school and find ways to sneak in a little LEA with my English learners. It is often too much like fun for the middle school administration mentality though. If you are interested in discussing middle grades more, please contact me!

Natalie of Teach ESOL

Teach ESOL - a Teaching Blog for Teachers of English Language Learners



Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sing a Song While You Wait

Dilly Dabbles

Transition times were my least favorite times of this year.  My first graders were terribly impatient and so the smallest nano-second of downtime led to big issues.  It took a lot of tries, and a lot of different strategies, but the strategy that worked the best for my students was “sing a song while you wait”.  During any wait time, I would call out the name of a song we knew, the kids would sing and hopefully by the time the song was done, we could be on to the next task.  It made for a loud class, but it did help keep the “issues” to a minimum.

We used a different transition time to learn our songs.  I had about 15 minutes in the beginning of the day when we were waiting for students and having a bathroom break.  During these 15 minutes, we learned a song a day until we had amassed quite a collection.  Here are some of the songs my kids loved best this year:

1.  Miss Mary Mack

2.  I’ve Been Working on the Railroad


4.  Say Say Oh Playmate

5.  Old Mac Donald


For more ideas on how songs can be used in your classroom, check out Dilly Dabbles’ Songs in the Classroom Linky Party.


Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hippo Words

I LOVE to play board games at home, but I also enjoying using them in my classroom. In addition to encouraging cooperation, turn taking and a variety of other social skills, I find I can often use the games to work on math and literacy skills. So, every Friday, I am going to post a Friday Game Night post, giving tips on how to use a particular board game in your classroom. Here’s this week’s Friday Game Night Tip:

Hungry, Hungry, Hippos - Part 2 (Literacy)

Hungry, Hungry Hippos is a fun game for kids, because it moves fast and is quite noisy. Here are some suggestions on some ways to make it educational. For each of these variations, use a permanent marker to write a single digit number (0-9) on each of the white marbles. Another possibility, is to exchange the white marbles for colored marbles and assign each color a value (blue=1, green=2, red=3, yellow=4 etc.)

1. How Many Words are in Your Sentence? – Do you ever struggle trying to get your kids out of those “I like pizza.” 3 word sentences?  With this version of Hungry, Hungry, Hippos, you can get your kids to make longer sentences, and work on using sentences of varied lengths.  After they play, students must choose a topic and write a paragraph, including one sentence for each marble they have.  Each sentence must have the same number of words as the number on one of the marbles.  All of the sentences must go together to make a paragraph or two on the same topic.

2. Category Words – Before each round, give students a category.  Then allow them to play, trying to “eat” as many marbles as possible.  At the end, allow students to add up all of the “points” that are marked on their marbles.  Once they have added up their points, ask them to come up with that many items to fit into their category.  (Ie. if the category is: Rainforest Animals, and they get 15 points, they need to come up with 15 animals that live in the rainforest.)

3. Syllable Words – Build critical thinking while working on syllables.  Once students have a conceptual understanding of syllables, play Hungry, Hungry Hippo (with the numbered marbles) and tell students in order to keep the marbles they ate, they must come up with a word that has that many syllables.   If they can’t come up with a word, then they do not get the “points” for that marble.  The student with the most points at the end of 5 minutes wins.

I hope some of the ideas will help you use Hungry, Hungry Hippos in a new, different way. Find more ways to use board games in your room by clicking HERE. Keep playing games and watching your students learn.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Self Correcting Puzzle Pinterest Promotion

Now that school is out, I am finding myself spending Find Teaching Resources on Pineterestmore and more time on Pinterest.  I find so many amazing ideas for my classroom, that my to-do list just keeps getting longer and longer.  From what I am seeing, I am not the only one spending a lot of time on Pinterest this summer.  In fact, I am super excited to announce that Raki’s Rad Resources has just passed 1,000 followers on Pinterest! We now have 1,002 Pinterest followers to be exact.  So, to celebrate, if you are one of those 1,002 followers,  I’ll happily e-mail you one self-correcting puzzle of your choice (There are 36 to choose from.)

To get your puzzle, simply:

1.  pin this post

2.  leave me a comment here with your e-mail address, and the name of the puzzle you’d like

Oh, and if you don’t follow Raki’s Rad Resources on Pinterest yet, but you’d like a self-correcting puzzle, please feel free to follow us first, and and then complete the steps above.

Self Correcting Puzzle Pinterest Promotion  Self Correcting Puzzle Pinterest Promotion  Self Correcting Puzzle Pinterest Promotion  Self Correcting Puzzle Pinterest Promotion

I’ll leave this promotion open until Sunday evening (let’s say 10p.m. EST), which gives you plenty of time to pick your puzzle – you can find the list HERE.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

National Geographic for Kids

It’s time for the Wednesday Website suggestion!! For two years, I was the Technology Specialist at a school in Georgia. During that time, I amassed a large collection of websites that I use with my students. If you want to search through some of them, you can check out my IKeepBookmarks site. Or, you can check back here each week for the Wednesday Website suggestion.


After downloading a National Geographic Ap for my son’s new Kindle Fire, we decided to check out the website for National Geographic Kids.  I am so glad that I took some time to explore this site with my son, and there’s so much there, that I decided it just had to be this week’s Wednesday Website suggestion.  Here is what you can find on this fabulous site, hosted by National Geographic, but set up just for kids:



National Geographic Kids Website - Games

Games - There are plenty of games which work on a variety of science and social studies topics.  My son was especially excited to see a bunch of ecology games available.


Videos – The videos available are just great!  There areNational Geographic Kids Website - Videos tons of animals, birds and reptiles, plus there are some great videos with a cartoon character named Iggy Arbuckle who make science and social studies topics fun for kids.


Country Information – This great section gives kids National Geographic Kids Website - Countriesquick facts, a video, a map and a news article on a ton of different countries around the world.  It would be great for research projects for grades 2-5!


News – This section is basically an e-version of the National Geographic Kids magazine.  There are great topics covered that link into science and social studies topics.


Blogs & Photos – One of the best parts of this website National Geographic Kids Website - Blogs by Kidsis that kids can actually get involved with other kids.  There are a ton of kid bloggers from around the world, and your kids can not only read their blog posts, but they can respond by adding comments to their blog posts.  (In order to respond, they must create a free log in.)  Kids can also upload photographs they have taken and view photographs taken by other children.


Stuff for Younger Learners – There is a whole section with games, activities and videos for younger students, so if you have K or pre-K aged kids, this is a great addition to this site.


How can you use this site with your students, or your personal children?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TESOL Teaching Tip #28 - Give Them Context

My class this year consisted of 20 students, of which only 1 spoke English only in his household, and even he began his life in a bilingual environment. The other 18 spoke at least one, if not two other languages in their homes, and go to school in English, although they don’t live in an English speaking country. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. Here’s this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:

TESOL Teaching Tip #28 - Give students context clues by explaining what you will be learning. ESL and ELL students need to know what the objective of the lesson will be. Stop by my blog - Raki's Rad Resources - to find out how to do this for your students.

ELL Teaching Tip #28: Let Kinds Know What You Want Them to Know
A few years ago, I attended a three day training on the SIOP method of instruction for English Language Learners.  One of the main things I remember taking away from the training was the need to write and post objectives.  At the time, I didn’t quite understand why this one thing was so important.  But, then as I began using the objectives, I came to understand that their purpose was to give my Content and Learning Objective Examples - Strategy for English Language Learnersstudents context.

Picture yourself as a student who doesn’t know the language and you walk into these two classrooms – which one will help you know what’s going on better?

Classroom A:  Good morning class, Does everyone remember the parts of a plant?  Let’s label this diagram of a plant and then we’ll go outside and plant these real plants I brought in.  I really think you’ll love these plants, I bought them at the nursery just last night.  It’s great for us to look at real life flowers and not just plants in pictures.

Classroom B:  Good morning class, Let’s read today’s objectives.  As you can see, today we are going to review the parts of a plant.  By the end of the lesson, I need you to know the four parts of the plant: root, stem, leaves and flower.  We will all label these parts of the plant on real plants and pictures of a plant.  Here are the four labels we will be working on again: root, stem, leaves and flower.  These are the four parts any plant has.

Content and Learning Objective Examples - Strategy for English Language Learners

When a language learner walks into Classroom A, they will look around for what everyone else is doing and sort of figure out what is expected, but often they will miss the main points you want them to learn.  However, in Classroom B, language learners will have had multiple cues as to what they are expected to focus on.  In addition, in Classroom B, these objectives will be posted on the wall or board, giving students additional cues.  These cues provide students with context to help them understand the learning situation, and know what is expected of them.  This type of learning situation sets language learners up for success.

So, all those learning objectives and essential questions that we hear administrators ask us about can be more than just busy work for us.  However, they are most impactful to our students, especially our language learners if we also refer to them during every lesson (beginning and end).  By doing this, we give our language learners more context clues, and make their learning experiences more understandable to them.

Another way to make this impactful to your students, is to let them read the objectives to you before you discuss them as a class.  This, of course, works better for students who are reading to a decent degree.  :)

Do you post objectives in your classroom? 
Do you discuss those objectives with your students?

Successful Strategies for English Language LearnersDo 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!
Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pulling Out the Time Puzzle

Children I HomeschoolAlthough I am done teaching in my classroom for the year, I’m not done teaching.  That is because I have 3 boys at home, 2 of which are receiving “homeschool” activities from me, to help maintain their English.  (They attend school in French & Arabic.)  In addition to reading & writing activities, I like to do math activities as well, because I want them to have the vocabulary in English.  It has also helped them to already understand the concepts before they learn them in French & Arabic, because it makes it so they are just learning new terminology when they learn it in their new Time Puzzle - Self Correctinglanguages.

So, one of our tasks for this summer is to work on telling time with my younger son and elapsed time with my older son.  And what did dorky mom (me) do?  I pulled out the self-correcting puzzles I made for my class, of course, lol!  My younger son really likes working on the puzzles just as they were – especially since he knew right away if he had the right answer.  For my oldest, we pull two times randomly and figure out the time spent between the two times pulled.  Overall, it’s Time Puzzle - Self Correctingbeen a good re-use of materials I made for my classroom this year.   (Feel free to grab a copy of this puzzle at my TPT store – it is $2.50.)


Do any of you homeschool your children?  Does anyone just work with their children during the summer, or in a specific subject/language?


Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Top 10 List of Summer Reading for Teachers

All of those that say that teachers don’t work in the summer don’t realize the amount of professional development that teachers do over the summer.  Some of the professional development goes on via workshops and other organized activities.  However, I have found that many teachers complete their professional development through self-led activities like blog stalking and independent reading.  If you are in the second category, here are some great books to try out this summer.  Some of these I have read and some of these are on my summer reading list.

1.)  Tribes – I read this book during my first year teaching, and it impacted me so much.  It gives great strategies to use to create a true collaborative learning experiences in your class and school.

2.)  Understanding by Design – Here’s another one I read that first year.  This shows you how to use the Backwards Design model of lesson and unit planning to ensure that you have teach and assess the standards you set out to teach. 


3.)  The First 6 Weeks – My school did a book study on this a few years back, and it was great for helping me re-think my schedule and start strong to build a great school year.


4.)  Strategies That Work – This book change the way that I teach reading all together.  Not only does it fully explain the processes readers go through while they are reading, it gives great examples for how to teach these strategies to your students.


5.) Awakened – I just got this for my Kindle and I can’t wait to read it, so that I can start next school year out more focused.  This book shows you how to focus on the important stuff and stay motivated in teachers. 



6.)  The Daily 5 – With all the hype about this book, I’ve actually only looked at the website, but even that information made my reading centers better this year.  Over the summer, I’m going to read the book, so that I can do it right next year!


7.)  Making Content Comprehensible for English Learners – The SIOP Model – I read this book a few years back, and it had such an impact on how I teach my English Language Learners.  The strategies included were great for all of my students, but had a particular impact on my language learners.


8.) Trait Based Mini Lessons for Teaching Writing – I’m trying to take my writing instruction to the next level, and so I’m in the middle of this book right now.  It has great ideas and is written very clearly. 


9.)  Lucy Calkins – The Art of Teaching Writing – I have heard that this is a clear, easy way to get in all the pieces of the writing process, so it is also on my summer reading list.



10.)  The Right Moment – I received this book as an end of the year gift from my principal last year and it has been wonderful.  It’s a book full of quotes, but it has been great to look at and get some inspiration or perspective on those tough teaching days.


What are you reading this summer?  What books would you suggest for other teachers?