Saturday, September 15, 2012

Free Classroom Supplies!

I found a great site today where you can get FREE Elmer's glue sticks, Bounty paper towels and Puffs tissues for your classroom!  It's really easy to get the freebies, too.  All you have to do is enter your school supply list on .  This site is sponsored by great companies like Bounty, Elmer's glue, and Puff's facial tissues.

When you post your list, you will automatically have get a 2 pack of Elmer's glue sticks, a 2 boxes of Puff's tissues and a roll of Bounty paper towels mailed to you.  For every friend you tell that posts a list you will get 2 boxes of Puff's tissues AND a roll of Bounty paper towels.  Tell 5 friends that post a list and you get a SUPER box clean up kit.  The site says your kit will be "chock-full of tons of Bounty paper towels and Puff's tissues."

The only thing you need to make sure you do in order to receive a Clean-Up Kit is make sure that your list includes Puff's tissues and Bounty paper towels.  Your referrals must include these as well in order for either of you to get the kit.

This is a super easy way to score some free supplies for your classroom!  Go HERE to add your list and get your FREE Clean-Up Kit on its way!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Routine Writing Rubric

For years I muddled through grading routine writing in my classroom.  You know, all of those short creative writing prompts, starter activities, journal activities and the like?  If you've had the chance to dive into Common Core, you know that basically anything that isn't an essay is labeled as "routine writing".  Since routine writing is going to be a section of my students' writing portfolios this year, I finally decided to create a Routine Writing Rubric.

I wanted to create something that targeted the basics - formatting, punctuation, capitalization, avoiding fragments and run-ons, fully answering the prompt, as well as strong introductions and conclusions.  I also wanted it to be something fairly quick and easy to grade.  I added a comments box at the bottom of the rubric for teacher commentary, which can also be a great place to comment on skills not listed on the rubric.

I have 10 different criteria that I am looking for and 3 scores for each criteria - No Errors, Few Errors, and Many Errors.  I hesitated to put an actual number of errors for each score possible because this allows me the freedom to change what "few errors" means from one assignment to the next.

The Many Errors column still awards students with 4 points, which I believe allows for room for growth instead of complete defeat.  However, if a student had significant errors you could always leave that row without a score and award them zero points.

I made the document so that you get two rubrics per page, which will make your paper supply last longer!

I've used this for three different assignments this week and love it.  I feel like I can grade quicker, while also insuring that each student is getting a fair grade.  I hope that you feel like it might be helpful to you, too!  I've uploaded it to my TPT store.  HERE is the direct link to the rubric.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Let's make lemonade!

This year has had a bit of a bad start.  I think it's a combination of larger classes, implementation of Common Core Curriculum, furlough days (and pay reductions!), and a myriad of other things that seem to have everyone stressed.  Some of that stress hit home on my hall last week and was on a personal and professional level.  I LOVE to give and make gifts, and I thought that a couple of the teachers on my hall needed a little pick me up, so this is what I came up with.  I put a bottle of pink lemonade, a box of Lemonheads, Pink Strawberry Tic Tacs, some pink wrapped mints, a pack of gum, and a slice of homemade lemon bread into the little goodie bag.  Oh, and I knew that I better include a bar of Dove Chocolate, too!  I wrapped all of this up in a cute little clear cellophane bag that I found with the Wilton cake supplies at Walmart.  I tied it up with pink and yellow curling ribbon and attached a cute tag.  I have to say, I think it did the trick!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Argumentative Essay Peer Review - Beginning of the year version

One of the first things I like to do each year is find out exactly where my students are in terms of their writing skills and abilities.  This year has thrown me for a loop.  I teach two gifted segments of 7th grade ELA and one regular ed segment of 7th grade ELA.  I have found that my regular ed 7th graders are struggling to just indent and capitalize properly.  We worked a bit on argumentative essay writing last week, which is a bit different than persuasive, but Common Core requires it.

Tomorrow we will begin peer reviews.  My plan is to pass out the Argumentative Essay Peer Review forms that I created and have each student attempt to review 4 peer essays.  I will review each section on the form before I just let them loose to review.  I want this to be a learning tool to help students become better writers, so I feel that reviewing these concepts during the beginning of the lesson will help reinforce the type of responses and answers that I'm looking for.

Now, this is a SIMPLY peer review form.  This is no where near where I want them to by by the end of the year...or even Christmas.  However, I do want them to have a starting point where they feel successful.  So, please do not think this is all that be required of them in regards to argumentative writing this year.

If you'd like to take a look at the Argumentative Essay Peer Review form that I created, feel free to go HERE to take a look.  If you think you can use it in your classroom, then please print it and use it.  :-)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Remind101 - My personal review

I truly believe, at least I want to believe, that parents that know what it going on at school have children that perform better at school.  As a result, I'm always looking for new ways to communicate with parents to let them in on what we have going on in the classroom.  This year I found a great communications resource that I love so far.

Remind101 is a free service that teachers can use to communicate with parents via text message without  having to share phone numbers.  The process is completely "blind".  You never see the parents cell phone number, and more importantly, they never see yours.  It's super easy to get started.  All you have to do is go to the Remind101 website, found here and register as a teacher.  You will then be able to set your class or classes up.  I teach three different levels of 7th grade ELA, so the class content, homework, etc are all different from each other.  As a result, I found it best to set up a different text message groups for each class.  I simply labeled them "Gifted ELA", Cluster ELA" and "ELA".  Once you have your classes set up, Remind101 gives you a number and a code that parents text in order to register to receive the text messages.  I included the number and code in my weekly email to parents, but I also printed handouts right off the website that give parents directions for registering and I sent these home with students (just in case parents aren't reading the class emails).

I had a majority of parents sign up within a day or two.  Each day I log in on the site and send out a quick text message that reminds them on an upcoming assignment, changes to an assignment, etc.  Several parents have already commented that they love the service.  I have found it to be a great addition to my weekly emails.

**This is completely my opinion on the Remind101 service.  I was not asked or compensated for this's simply my opinion as a teacher in the trenches of middle school.  :-) **