Sunday, September 17, 2017

Whole Class Journals and a Freebie!

I used whole class journals the past four years while I was in the classroom.  I started using them with the thought that they would be good for those students who love to write.  However, I quickly realized that whole class journals benefitted the WHOLE class (funny how that works).  My students who loved to write naturally gravitated towards these in their spare time, when they finished an assignment, and dare I say...even during indoor recess!  The rest of my class became interested in these journals because they liked reading the responses from their peers, enjoyed the no pressure journal writing, were able to choose from a variety of prompts, and were excited to share their own writing with their classmates.

If you would like to start whole class journals in your classroom read on!  I recently updated my whole class journal product on TpT to include many more prompts and samples.  They are quick and easy to set up!  I grabbed a few 3-ring binders I had lying around (I have also used notebooks in the past), printed out my whole class journal product, and got to work.  I usually only put out a few prompts at a time  so that the students won't get bored with them.  I inserted the whole class journal cover into the clear plastic on the binder.

Then I hole punched my prompt and inserted it into the binder.  I use tabs so that I can have a few different prompts in each binder.

 After the tab I place the sample writing piece followed by some blank paper for the students to write their responses.

 When I first introduce these in the year I spend some time going over the rules (which are included in the download) so that the students know what is expected of them.  I place the binders on the bookshelf so students have access to them and let them go for it!

If you think your class could benefit from whole class journals and would like to try them out make sure to grab my freebie!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

End of the Year Ideas and Activities

Every teacher knows how the end of the year can be CRAZY, but here are some ideas and activities to keep some semblance of sanity in your classroom.  

If you are interested in any of my products just click on the picture covers to be taken to the product in my TpT store.

1. Get outside!

If you are able to take some classes outside definitely do it!  Whether you spend some time reading aloud, reading to self, or writing a change of scenery can be a miracle.  You could always use this time outside to take a quick fun break too by blowing bubbles, writing in sidewalk chalk, or playing ball for 5  minutes.

2. Hands-on activities!

I love to trick students into learning by doing fun projects and hands on activities.  STEM activities are perfect for this!  My students have a blast building rollercoasters and trying to protect an egg that will be dropped from the top of the school.  I've also done tie-dye using permanent markers.  If you don't know what this is definitely grab my freebie by clicking on permanent marker science below!  Note: this is a good one to do outside (yay # 1) because you'll be using rubbing alcohol


To see more check out my previous blogs on Egg dropPermanent Marker Science 3. Look back on the year you've had together

Reflect on your year!  I'm sure you've done a lot of fun things together and a good way to keep your students engaged is to have them spend some time reflecting on all they have learned, the fun projects you've done, special trips, etc.  A quick and easy way to do this is to have your students create a top 10 list.  However, I personally love to have my students create memory books.  These memory books are perfect for the end of the year because they keep the students engaged.  They are writing, drawing, and thinking.  Also included is a "note from the teacher" page.  I spend some time writing a note to each of my students, bind their memory books as a keepsake, and include them as an end of the year gift.

4. Help prepare next year's students!

My school holds a move-up day for the incoming students.  Near the end of school we all spend about 30 minutes visiting the upcoming teacher's rooms.  So that means I get to see the incoming third grade.  I like to have my current fourth graders tell them all about fourth grade.  To do that I have them write letters to the third graders, make a top 10 list (as mentioned above), create Venn Diagrams with the difference in grades, etc.

5. Reward your students for a job well done!

I like to reward my students at the end of the year for their hard work.  I do this in the typical way with award certificates.  I have a fun presentation ceremony and hand out their awards.  Each student gets one.  The best thing about the awards is that there are academic achievements but also nonacademic achievements as well.  I also like to make some traditional things we do more fun.  I assign monthly genre book reports to my students and our final book report culminates with a book share party.  I bring in food and drinks and really let the kids enjoy themselves while they browse their classmates' book selections.

Another fun thing to do is read aloud a book that has been made into a movie.  After you finish reading the book watch the movie as a class and spot the differences between them.


 These are some ways I keep my class engaged at the end of the year.  Do you have any tried and true tips or tricks to add?  Comment below!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Vocabulary Acquisition and Instruction

Content vocabulary is extremely important for students to understand.  I find that this is especially true for subjects like science and social studies.  When I introduce a new science topic I always start with the vocabulary.  Below is an example from my Earth Science Vocabulary Acquisition pack and how I use it in my classroom.
I have the students fill out a table on their familiarity with the words for the topic.  This is a working document that we revisit throughout the study.  Students will add snippets about what they have learned.  I like doing this because it really makes students think about how familiar they are with the words.
The next thing I do is have students read these vocabulary words in context and write their OWN definitions.  This helps our students own these words.  A typical spread in their notebook looks like the pages below.

Below is a close up of these pages.

After the students complete their work on vocabulary in context we spend some time reviewing the definitions.  Then the students will use their definitions to create word squares for the vocabulary.  In the center they will write the word.   In the top left corner students will write the definition.  In the top right corner students will write characteristics or facts about the word.  In the bottom left corner write examples of the word and in the bottom right corner write non-examples or draw a picture of the word.  Their notebooks will look like this.

I also create vocabulary cards for the students to use at home while studying or for whole class review.  Sometimes we will use these to play vocabulary Bingo which is usually a huge hit with my students!
Yes, this is a ton of work on vocabulary alone, but by the time we are finished with it my students have a superior understanding for the words and their meanings.  In addition, they also understand the topics better as a whole.
Click below to be taken to my product page on TpT to see all that is included in my Earth Science Vocabulary Acquisition pack!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Creating a Facebook Page and a #sale!

I have been on Teachers Pay Teachers for a long time and as I have mentioned in other blog posts, I haven't quite capitalized on some things I should have.   I.E. Tailwind, becoming a premium seller on TpT, and creating a Facebook page for my brand.  Today I decided to go for it and create a Facebook page.  I was hesitant to do so because I didn't want it linked to my personal profile, but I realized the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.  

I decided to write a blog post about this so it could help others.  If you are thinking about making one or haven't done it yet, I highly suggest you create one.  It takes a few minutes to set up and then you are good to go!  Click on the arrow in the top blue bar and choose "Create Page."

When you do that it will take you to this page.


There are six options to choose from with different page types.  I ended up choosing "Brand or Product."  It then guides you through the steps to create your page.  

I chose website and entered my name "Endeavors in Education" and it brought me to my new page.


Facebook makes it really easy by guiding you through the steps.  I linked my social media, added a profile and cover photo, and began to add content.  My only regret is I wish I did it sooner!  I would love to have you like my page!

Also, get ready to score some deals with the #TeachersAreWinners hashtag sale!  So many great products will be marked down to $1!  My March resources packet and Sound unit will be on sale for $1!  Make sure to search the hashtag to find some great deals or click the picture below!


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Engaging Test Prep

How do you prepare students for a test at the end of a big unit?  In the past I have played "Jeopardy" type games, used study guides, vocabulary bingo, etc...However, the best method that I have found to help students prepare for tests is by doing a scavenger hunt.

I prepare the scavenger hunt by creating cards to hide around the room.  These cards can be used in a few different ways.  They could contain questions that the students have to answer, or there could be a little blurb on each card that the students will read to find the answer to the question on their recording sheet.  I pass out the answer sheets and explain the rules to my students.  The first and most important rule of scavenger hunting is "NO TALKING!"  I want my students to be able to answer these questions on their own.  The second rule is absolutely no running...because we all know how competitive kids get!

I usually have each student grab a clipboard so they can walk around and answer on their sheets.  Once I give the signal they are off!  When they have finished answering their questions they will have the answers checked by me.  I will mark wrong answers with an "X" and the students need to go back and correct them.

Sometimes I do award prizes (think homework pass).  I have awarded prizes two different ways.  Sometimes I award prizes to the first few students who get the answers correct.  Other times I will award it to the first few students who get the answers correct on the first try.  This allows different kids to get prizes.

This is such a motivator for the students and it keeps them engaged the entire time!  Since I started reviewing for tests this way I have noticed an increase in achievement on end unit tests!  What test prep ideas do you find most successful?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Massive Giveaway!

You do not want to miss this!  I am teaming up with so many great teacher authors to give you FOUR chances to win $100 TpT gift cards in honor of Teaching Autism's birthday (Happy birthday!).  You have until February 28th to enter!  This giveaway is so big there are four Rafflecopters!  Have fun entering and good luck!

Click the links and make sure to enter all four raffles!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 6, 2017

Rebranding my TPT Store

I have been a member of Teachers Pay Teachers since 2011, but I didn't become a premium seller until 2014 (something I am KICKING myself for...sign up as a premium seller right away!).  I have had minor successes in my store, but I have been creating things on an as needed basis for my own classroom making it more of  a hobby than a business.  I have countless products that I started and never finished.  I also have so many products that I posted that I haven't updated.  Some of them need updating BADLY!  I have decided to get really serious about taking my store to the next level recently.  After the birth of my son, rebranding my store and putting more time into TPT became a priority for me.   I have over 150 products in my store currently so going back to update and brand is a huge undertaking!

I started this process by posting my store to some TPT groups I am in on Facebook to get feedback from fellow teacher authors.  I highly suggest joining TPT groups to get advice, feedback, and helpful tips.  The most helpful advice I received was from Misty Miller the admin of TPT Seller Tips and Advice.  I posted my store looking for advice on how to improve and Misty offered some great advice.  She suggested that I brand my store so all of my products have a similar look, make square covers, create custom categories, etc...  Honestly I had been meaning to make square covers for my products, but I was overwhelmed with the thought of making 150+ covers.

My first step was to decide what my brand actually is.  My old button (to the left) had lots of glitter and not a lot to do with education.  My new button (to the right) is cleaner and clearly school centered.  I created my new button using Canva.

Once I figured out what my brand would look like I began to go into TPT and create new covers for each of my products.  I changed from traditional covers to square covers and for the sake of my new brand made cleaner covers.  The covers to the left are the new ones and the covers to the right are the old ones.

The titles on the new covers are clear and easy to read.  The product is more straight forward and the whole thing is less cluttered.  This has been a time consuming project, but one that is well worth it in the long run.  As I go in to update each cover I also update the products themselves.  This includes changing fonts and graphics, adding content, and changing layouts.  The final step before updating is to fix my descriptions.  I make the descriptions more detailed and link to other similar products.  I am sure this rebranding project will keep me busy for quite some time, but it has been well worth it!