Sunday, November 3, 2013

Product of the Week: Vocab Exercises in Greek and Latin Roots 

One of the most important strategies for determining the meaning of new words is by understanding Greek and Latin Roots.  This bundle of vocabulary exercises introduces students to 6 roots having to do with numbers: mono, bi, di, duo, tri, and multi.  

Inside the pack are 4 worksheets that give students information about the roots.  Each worksheet is focused on a different root and includes 7-10 sentences using words that contain the root.  Take a sneak peak at a sample worksheet below: 

The bundle also includes a quiz covering all four roots as well as an answer key.  

I have used this bundle very successfully as bellwork.  Each day, students use context clues and root knowledge to determine the meaning of the underlined word.  I have loved watching students' vocabulary and context clue skills blossom!  

The product is a bargain at $3.25.  You can find it at my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Have a great week!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Goulish Sale!

It's time for a goulish Halloween sale!  From October 30-November 1st, The Teacher Lady will be having a 20% off Halloween sale!  All items in my store will be on sale! 

Here are a couple of highlights:

My 4.0 rated Read Like a Detective Presentation introduces students to
close reading for the CCSS.  It's normally $4.00, but it will be $3.20 during the sale!  Here's what previous users have said about it:

"Super resource!  Thank you so much!" - Wilds24

"Very helpful and easy to follow.  I love it!" - Silvia

"Enjoyed the poetry and the fact it continues with your writing like an investigative reporter."  - Cat66
Speaking of my 4.0 rated Write like an Investigative Reporter  Presentation, it is sporting a new and improved look!  It introduces students to writing with evidence, a critical foundation for argumentative writing.  It's normally $4.00, but will be $3.20 during the sale!  Teachers have said that it's a "great resource" and that they "love the fact that [it] uses poetry!"  This is one of my favorite resources; in fact, I'm using it tomorrow!


My 4.0 rated Characterization Graphic Organizers include 7 CCSS - aligned graphic
organizers that can be used with any short story or novel.  They're a bargain at $4.50, but with your 20% off, you can get them for $3.60! Want to know what teachers are saying about this product?                                                                                                                                                                         "Great ways to get students thinking about characters in different ways." -Natalie                                                                                                                                                                              "These graphic organizers are going to get much use as I work with my students. I've always struggled with helping them see all the aspects of the characters and these will really help." - Marynell

My 4.0 rated Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Unit is Common Core aligned. 
One of my colleagues just used it with her special education 10th grade Language Arts class, and she couldn't stop raving about how easy-to-use it was!  It's usually $7.00, but during the sale, it will be $5.60!  Imagine the time you'll save during the course of the 4 week unit!

Other buyers have said: 
"Can't wait to use this! Looks great." - Cindy

"Great resource and presentation. Thanks!" - winpiazza

I hope you check out The Teacher Lady during my Goulish Sale from October 30-November 1!



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Product of the Week: Write like an Investigative Reporter Presentation

This week, I'm highlighting a product that addresses a huge component of the Common Core State Standards: argumentative writing. The CCSS require students to move from writing based on solely on personal opinion to supporting claims with evidence.

This shift to argumentative writing has been a huge topic of conversation at my school -- probably at yours, too! Last weekend, I went to a fabulous AP Language workshop (presented by the College Board) that had a focus on argumentative writing and I was truly relieved and happy to discover that I've been laying a really solid foundation for my students to master argumentative writing!

One of the tools I've used the last two years (and, in fact, will be using this Wednesday!) as a foundation for teaching students to use textual evidence in their writing my Write like an Investigative Reporter Presentation.  In it, I break down using evidence into three easy steps, easily remembered by the acronym ICE.
1. Introduce a claim.
2. Cite textual evidence to support your claim.
3. Explain how your evidence supports your claim. 

I originally intended this presentation to be used with middle school students, but I am planning on using it with my high school freshmen this Wednesday.  I think it will still be a terrific introduction for them as well! The presentation follows a typical "gradual release of responsibility" model: teacher example, student practice, reflection.  It also includes Cloze notes for students, and a rubric for evaluating student work.

I just updated the clip art in this presentation, using products from Blair Turner and Digital Divide and Conquer, and it looks great!  Here are a couple of sneak peaks:

Check out this presentation at my Teachers Pay Teachers store, and let me know what you think of it!

Happy teaching and happy writing,


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Keep Calm and Be a Blazer: Tips for the Best School Year Ever!

As a former high school newspaper columnist (shout out to the LCHS Hilite!), I was thrilled when the newspaper staff at my new school asked me to be the first teacher guest columnist of the year.

I thought I'd share with you what I wrote: 

Keep Calm and be a Blazer

Can you smell that?  Fresh pencils, crisp paper, falling leaves – a new school year has begun.  With new classes and unfamiliar teachers, it can be easy to panic.  As a teacher new to Timberline, I’ll share my game plan for the best school year ever: Keep Calm and Be a Blazer! Huddle up, and I’ll give you the details.

Control what you can.  As much as we might try, we can’t control our parents, friends, teachers, coaches, or classmates.  However, there is someone you can control: you.  Like a wise colleague told me, “Let problems roll off your back like water off a duck’s back.” That’s what you can control.   Trying to control everything else will just frustrate you!  Be the duck.

Aim high and work hard.  What do you want to accomplish by May?  Is it a grade or SAT score?  A leadership position in a club or sports team?  A commitment to a college or workplace?  Pinpoint your most important goals and focus your energy like a laser beam.  If you don’t succeed at your first attempt, keep trying.  After all, Abraham Lincoln lost 8 elections before becoming president!

Learn something new.  A few years ago, my dad decided to take piano lessons.  As any daughter would, I teased him relentlessly (“Were there pianos in the Paleolithic Age, Dad?”), but it was inspirational to watch him learn something totally foreign.  It’s never too late to try something new.  Audition for the musical.  Join a club.  Try out for swim team.  You never know what may spark a new passion. 

Meet people.  I heard a statistic once (I don’t know if it’s true because 73% of statistics are made up) that most people spend 90% of their time with the same 10 people.  That’s fine, but there are many interesting people walking the halls of Timberline who you don’t yet know!  Start a conversation with someone new.  I did during my freshman year and met Mr. Groen (Side note: he didn’t go by Mr. Groen back then.  That would’ve been weird)!  

While this advice is aimed at students, it can absolutely apply to teachers, too!  What are your tips for having the best school year ever?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Constitution Day is September 17!

This year, my husband, Chris, is teaching AP Government.  He was a Political Science major (and is a giant nerd when it comes to politics), so this is right up his alley.

Needless to say, our house has been filled with C-Span, news outlets of every kind, and tons of primary source documents relating to government.  I have now been schooled in The Federalist Papers, Class Theory, and our founding fathers' ideals.  All of this is great because I am also interested in government and politics.

This morning, Chris' challenge to me was to see if I could list the amendments to the Constitution in order.  I did pretty well with the first 10, but I fell apart after that.

What does this have to do with anything?  Well, Constitution Day is this week!  It's a great time to familiarize students with the US Constitution, and I have a product to share with you that will do just that!

This is a 50 question Constitution Scavenger Hunt created by Chris and me that will walk secondary students through the basic tenants of the US Constitution, including the roles and responsibilities of each branch of government, the Bill of Rights, and  all the amendments.  Some of the questions are true/false, some are fill-in-the-blank, and some are free response.  The Constitution is pretty dense reading, so the scavenger hunt is organized to mirror the Constitution itself for maximum accessibility.  All you need to do is provide each student a copy of the scavenger hunt and a copy of the Constitution!  (Chris will also be providing students with patriotic cake on Tuesday... lucky AP Gov kids!)

Here's a sneak peak of the scavenger hunt, which is available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store:


 It's also a great way to get students reading Primary Source Documents -- a critical aspect of The Common Core State Standards.

Cheers to the red, white, and blue!


Monday, September 9, 2013

POW: Product of the Week

My featured Product of the Week this week is my Detailed Participation Rubric.  I developed this handy tool several years ago after having students ask "Why did you give me that participation grade?"   I think if the phrasing of that question doesn't irk you a bit, you probably haven't been asked it yet! 

After I bit back the urge to say, "I didn't give you any grade; you earned it,"  I realized that I was being pretty ambiguous about students' participation and should probably provide students with the criteria by which I was judging their participation!

So... I made this: 

The thing I like about this rubric is that it stays away as much as possible from simply being "citizenship" points for good behavior.  Instead, it demands that students engage, listen, speak, and use time wisely -- all critical points for academic success.  By using this rubric, students are held to a higher standard than simply "being good."  They have to engage in class.

In my class, I have normally had students self-assess their participation twice a quarter.  I have found that by self-assessing, students are typically very honest and usually tougher on themselves than I would be.  If your students are struggling with participation, it can be useful to have them self-assess more often to raise their awareness of the importance of participating and how it affects their grades. 

Right now, my Detailed Participation Rubric is available on Teachers Pay Teachers for only $1. What a bargain!

I hope that it makes your life easier!  I know it was a huge help to me!

Happy Monday,

Katrina, The Teacher Lady

PS The amazing chevron design on my Participation Rubric cover is by Blair Turner.  Definitely check out her Teachers Pay Teachers store as well!  She's got lots of great stuff!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Four Must-Read Young Adult Books for Boys

As a secondary teacher, I have found that it can be tough to get boys to read, especially fiction.  I wish I could say that I've unearthed the perfect formula for what makes a book appealing to teen boys.  I haven't.  However, here are a few that I've found almost always engage my male students, especially those who are a little skeptical about reading.

Peak by Roland Smith

This easy-to-read book is perfectly appropriate for middle
school and early high school students.  It follows the story of Peak, a teenaged climbing enthusiast who gets into legal trouble after scaling a high rise building.  Peak is sent to live with his father, a world-class mountain climber.  Prior to his stay with his father, Peak's teacher encourages him to keep a diary in a Moleskine notebook, and the book is comprised of Peak's journal.  Unbeknownst to Peak, his father is hatching a plan to climb Mt. Everest, taking Peak along for the ride.  If Peak succeeds in summitting Everest, he will be the youngest person to achieve this goal; however, a young Sherpa begins to make him see his goal -- and his father -- differently.  Boys will learn the value of friendship, trustworthiness, and honor in this fast-paced page-turner.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

This book affords readers an up-close and personal look at the life of Junior, a mentally handicapped Native American boy who decides to go to school "off the rez" in order to find a more hopeful future.  In the process, Junior experiences a lot of loss, including losing his best friend, his sister, and grandmother.  However, he also finds new talent as he becomes an excellent student and the star of the high school basketball team.  Junior's musings on race, equality, alcoholism, and hope are interspersed with immensely engaging cartoons depicting his view of himself and his world.  I taught this book last year with a developmental reading class of college freshman, and they couldn't get enough of it.  One student told me, "I haven't finished a book since, like, second grade, and I liked this one so much I read it twice!" With that said, this is the "absolutely true diary" of a teenaged boy, and Junior doesn't hold anything back.  We hear about alcohol abuse and masturbation (can't believe I just typed that, but it's true!).  This is definitely not a book for 6th graders, but older high school students will love it.  I also have a Common Core aligned unit  available for this book on Teachers pay Teachers!

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Ever since I read Slam in junior high, I have been a huge
Walter Dean Myers fan, and this -- in my humble opinion -- is his magnum opus.  In this book, Steve is an aspiring screenplay writer who is on trial for murder because he was the lookout in a robbery gone terribly wrong. Steve tells his story in the form of journal entries and a screenplay he's developing about his trial and his time in jail.  The novel's innovative structural style makes it a fairly quick read; however, some students may have difficulty switching back and forth between journal entries and screenplay. Steve perceives that the rest of the world sees him as a monster, and he thinks they might be right.  Through his diary and screenplay, he tries to rediscover his personal standards and sense of worth.  This is the most stolen (and most frequently given away) book in my classroom library, which I think says a lot about how much it means to the students who have read it. 

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

This book is the second in a trilogy entitled The Last Survivors.  However, it's not the type of trilogy in which you must read the books in order; they're more "companion" books rather than "series" books, if that makes sense.  At any rate, the story is about Alex Morales, a teenage boy who has an incredibly bright future ahead of him, and his younger sisters.  When an asteroid knocks the moon out of orbit, chaos ensues on earth. Tsunamis wipe out the coast.  Earthquakes ravage the landscape.  Volcanoes erupt, spewing clouds of ash thick enough to blot out the sun.  In all of this, Alex's parents go missing, leaving him to be the caretaker of his sisters in an increasingly desperate New York City.  Alex must learn to negotiate on the black market, deal with the loss of his parents, and try to make the best decisions to benefit himself and his sisters.  Kids love this book, partially -- I believe -- because they like to imagine themselves as survivors in a world without adults. 

I'm teaching an Independent Reading class this semester, and I will be recommending these books to the guys in that class.  I'm sure they will have some suggestions for me, too!  I'll make sure to pass those suggestions along to you as well!

Have a marvelous week!

Katrina, The Teacher Lady