Splish-Slash: It's a Summer Time Blog Bash

8:30 AM Sarah Koves 1 Comments



I am very excited for this party as it has been a long time in the making.




One my most popular posts in on Social Studies Bell Ringers.  I decided to create this product after finding out that the book I use is no longer available to individual teachers and must be purchased through the school's representative.

This product is one month of social studies bell work based on the five themes of geography: location, region, movement, place, and human-environment interaction. Two questions for each day of the week. Answer key included.



I am giving away my month of Daily Geography for free during this blog hop.  Be sure to snag it now (an leave it some love) because it won't be free for long.



I am giving away my budget unit.  This is my best selling unit, and can be used for most grade levels.

The Teacher Team did a great review of this product this past February.  Check out their review.



I am currently using this project with some 11th graders while we talk about personal finance.  I began this product with middle school students over ten years ago, and I have been adding to and revising it ever since.  This unit includes a writing piece at the end for reflection on the costs of items and living within a budget.
  Be sure to go check out the preview too.



My summer vacation begins on June 6th, and I am already planning a fun summer.

I am most looking forward to not teaching summer school, which I have given up after five years.  The new teachers want to do it, so I get to start vacation when school is out.

My favorite summer activity is sitting on the deck reading with a fruity drink in my hand while the girls swim.  Although the quiet mornings with me, the cat, and coffee are  close second.

We have a family camping weekend planned to Wisconsin to meet up with my cousins, and I have a conference at Great Wolf Lodge, but there is no major traveling this summer other than North to my parents' house.  Perhaps we will finally get to IKEA.

My favorite summer place is my parents' home in Northern Michigan.  We get to play tourist, enjoy the quiet, and go to the beach frequently.  The girls and I are even happier now that they have joined the 21st century with high speed internet.

My summer must-have item is currently a pair of sunglasses as I found mine broken in the bottom of my purse.  Please leave me your favorites in the comments, so the shopping can commence. 

I have started my summer pile of teaching books to read (thanks in part to a Donors Choose project).  I hope to share what I learn as I work through them.







Sailing Into Summer Blog Hop

9:00 AM Sarah Koves 3 Comments

I am getting ready to sail into summer...13 more school days for me; three short weeks.


A huge thanks to The Language Arts Classroom and Faulkner’s Fast Five  (aka Lauralee Moss & Julie Faulkner)  for setting this up.


My final exam tip/idea:

I am giving my seniors their exams tomorrow morning as they are done on Wednesday, so this couldn't come at a more perfect time.  My tip for final exams is to create an essay that assess both student learning and their writing ability.  Here is the one I use that offers choice for students too.



Three essays for any English class. They ask the students to evaluate their learning for the course or year. I used them as a final exam writing sample. They can be edited for your needs. You could use them as three separate writings or as a year or course opener.

This year I am using this choice essay, but I am adding an option for the students to evaluate their senior portfolio presentation.  I have all their feedback sheets to give them from the panel.  I am going to do that before the exam, and offer them the choice to write about what they learned from the experience of presenting/interviewing with this panel of community members.  This is very similar to the writing I asked them to do at the end of every literature unit for the afterward in their notebooks.

Also, check out all my Exam Products to find something to add to this essay.



Classroom thing I want to do again next year: 
I was very happy with how my student notebooks worked and turned out this year for both civics and AP Literature.  I want to continue to do this next year in these classes as well as the others that I teach.  Check out how I set these up in my post: How I Avoid Grading Stacks of Assignments.



Gift idea for coworkers/students/aids:
Here are a few of the gifts I am preparing for the end of the year.

Personalized notepad for my daughter's teacher from Shutterfly



Frixion pens from Amazon for my TA because she saw mine, tried them, and fell in love.

A new pen with a fun quote for my seniors.  I still have to decide on and print the quote, but it will be something about writing their futures.
Classroom organization tip:  
I try to clean and file before you go.  I have in my desk a file drawer with folders for every unit.  This is where the extra handouts and test go as we go through the year because I won't need them next year (I re-write my tests each year), but I may want them before June.  By this time of year that drawer is very full, so I make it a point to empty it out and toss or scan everything, so I can start fall with an empty drawer.


This summer we have to empty our rooms in preparation for new paint, carpet, and furniture, so I need extra help in the organization department as I pack up EVERYTHING.  I found this article yesterday from Scholastic and shared with my coworkers.


Be sure to stop by and check out the other tips!







May Pinterest Pick 3

5:14 PM Sarah Koves 6 Comments

I have to say that I have not spent much time on Pinterest this past month because of my busy schedule, but I do have a few fun finds from the last month.



I figure it is never two early to begin planning for the first weeks of next year.  That is why this pin was so intriguing to me.  I love that everything is all on one paper.  I did examples and non-examples with my students this past fall, but I love how deep this one goes into description and what it means.



Being as I lead my students two three expectations: Respectful, Honest, and Prepared, this anchor chart will be perfect for summarizing their thoughts on day two (I never start with this stuff-BORING).



This pin proves a point that I try and tell my students all the time: most stories are the same basic plots with different characters and details.  How interesting would this be as a model for reading groups?  or even just a discussion?



I just started reading an Amazon free book that seems to be The Taming of the Shrew set in Lancaster County, Pensilvania with a pair of Amish sisters.





Sadly the blog this pin links to does not appear to talk about this item or even have the picture as far as I could tell, so if anyone knows to whom it belongs, please share.

It seems to be a photo album that has vocabulary cards in it.  These cards seem to have the word, illustration, and meaning on them.  The great thing about this way of storing vocabulary cards is that they can easily be removed or reorganized.

I'm not certain I will use this, but I am certain I will keep thinking about how to use it.



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Visit Sarah's profile on Pinterest.

Check out these other great Pinterest Posts




Calming the Chaos

8:00 AM Sarah Koves 4 Comments


It is that time of year when things start to get a little crazy in the classroom.  My seniors have 13 days left while the rest of us (my juniors and I) have 23.

Next week is senior portfolio presentations and AP Testing, so the chaos is real people.  The juniors are finish up Huckleberry Finn, and we are talking foreign policy in civics/economics.

I am sure after presentations and AP Exams are done this week the chaos will really come on full force.  It hasn't been terrible as of yet with these big items still on the horizon.  However, I am preparing for it with a few simple ideas.

Tweet: 1st thing when planning for these last weeks of school is to ask students what they wanted.  See how  http://ctt.ec/417Bd+ @cera0316The first thing I did when starting to plan for these last weeks of school was to peak student interest by asking them what they wanted to do.  
My English 11 students are starting to think about colleges, so I offered them a choice: another novel  to read or a nonfiction text.  They chose the nonfiction text.  I got these with a Donors Choose project this past winter, and the students are so very excited to delve into them in about a week.


I think by saving the most relevant topic in writing (college applications essays) for the end of the year, and the students' choice to read this novel will help maintain their interest through those first days of June.

The other way I have used student choice to plan these last two weeks was in my civics/economics class.  I am ending the year there with a very relevant topic: personal finance.  My intention was to tailor this last unit to the students.  To better gauge what they needed and wanted one of our stations last week was to complete a Google Form by writing questions.

I listed all the topics relating to personal finance with a box for each one.  Students then went in and wrote questions they have about each topic.



I am still trying to finalize these plans for the personal finance unit, but this survey of students was incredibly helpful to me, which I hope means the unit will be helpful to them.  I want to line up a couple of speakers even to come talk to the students as well.


 My second tip is pretty basic: provide variety and choice.  I usually am out of the classroom about one day a week in the spring due to school improvement and schedule writing (two other jobs I do in my building).

I try to plan all kinds of different days for them:

- reading days to do some of the usually-outside-the-classroom-reading in class

-news days to check on current events

-free writing days where they can write what is on their minds

-Moodle online reader response questions with time to reply to other students' responses

-speakers to come and talk about the topics, so I am not the only voice the students hear

-even a few MUSTARD DAYS (Making Up Stuff That "Ain't" Really Done) [I don't do catch-up days] to help those end of the year grades.


Basically I pull every tool from my tool box this time of year.




Another think I have done is invest in mass quantities of sidewalk chalk.  My plans, now that it is warm out, including going outside and using our two big student parking lots to share our learning.  We did have some crazy snow/ice weather last week, so hopefully that is done and the weather will be nice enough to get outside in the morning classes.

As my students read I have them make annotations on sticky notes (I go through tons of them).  I think that writing advice tips from their reading in both civics/economics and English 11 will be a good starting place for sharing information in the parking lots.

Asking them to each pull two tips from their annotations to share with the sidewalk chalk will be perfect.



I got the idea from this $1 resource that I found a month or so ago and it will be my best planning book for the last four weeks of school to enjoy the weather and fun that is spring/summer.  Room 213 has some great ideas that I know I can incorporate.  I might even add it to my social studies summer school planning.


Check out more ways to Calm the Chaos at these blogs





Five for Friday 5/1

7:28 AM Sarah Koves 1 Comments

Linking up again with  Doodlebugs Teaching for Five for Friday.  I have started drafting this post on Saturday morning and adding cool things I come across them over the week.



The first item this week is an article that I came across while surfing the Teachers Pay Teacher's seller board.  The title alone peaked my interest.  I was unable to find any methodology on the images in the article, but at the very least it made me think about what I do in my civic's classes.


The images below are from this article and make a good teaser to the content.


I do wonder if students understand what lecture really is because I see storytelling and discussion as different from lecturing.

What do you think?


This week I had the opportunity to film a teacher tech tip with The Nerdy Teacher for PD Without Borders.  They have a Youtube Channel: PD without borders videos  where they post short tech videos for teachers.  My video was on using Google Drive and Google Classroom to peer edit.  I am told it will go live next week, so be sure stay tuned.  In the mean time check out my other Google Classroom posts.  Some new features have been rolled out, so I will be posting on those soon.



Go check out their site and channel!



Have you ever heard of the Bammy Awards?  Neither had I until this week.  It looks like a neat idea, and I am now a voting member.

Cast your votes today!


I have always felt personally, without researching or knowing much, that there is a huge gender gap in education.  It is NOT the gender gap explained to me in my teacher preparation program where my professor tried to tell my class that girls act dumb for boys and don't achieve.  I stood up, argued with her, and made a point of asking my classmates how many of them were honor students in high school (or in advanced classes)- most raised their hands.  Then I asked my classmates how many had more girls than boys in that class...most of them.  My professor had no response to that. 

Yesterday at district school improvement we began talking about this gap.  The state and federal government is always wanting school to address gaps among groups,but I have yet to see any questions addressing the learning gap in education between the genders.  In our school most of our summer school, intervention, and credit recovery students are boys.

Here is the article that sparked the conversation:


Do you see a gender gap in your school?  Are you doing anything to address this?



My school is in a contest to win $5000.  I would appreciate it if you could go to the site for my school and vote.


Our local bank is hosting this contest.



GO EAGLES!













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