Here are a few of the most frequent questions that I am asked from buyers, and potential buyers, about my resources. Hopefully, you will find these answers helpful.
Having your students there in front of you is obviously the ideal way to monitor their understanding of a topic, to see the need for differentiating the instruction, etc. There are days, however, where this just might not be possible. With more and more students having access to laptops and other devices the “free” snow-days of the past are being turned into E-Learning days more frequently in order to avoid adding days to the end of the school year.
Natural disasters are causing schools to close for short periods of time, for example, here in Nebraska many schools had to deal with flooding issues last spring and again in the fall which got a bit chaotic with school closings. Sometimes, it’s just the individual student missing out due to a short illness, to a student with an extended illness that prevents them from being in the classroom for a long period of time.
Another example is, homeschoolers might be using e-learning in their co-op groups/classes. There are many different reasons that we might not be able to be in front of our students in a literal way, but thanks to technology we can be in front of them in a virtual way during times of need.
As a curriculum writer, I try and incorporate as many choices and options as possible in my products. I know when I was teaching so many different things would come up and a simple textbook is just not designed to handle the changes and issues that come at you every day. My philosophy holds that ideally, a student will have that book in hand and be using as many of their senses to fully move that information from learning to knowledge. All of my products have a hands-on component that is printable and tangible that the student and teacher can work with together.
I also am a practical person and know that this ideal is not always possible so I have also added to almost all of my products a Google Drive format so the teacher has options. The Google Drive format covers all the same areas but can be done in a paperless environment using Google Drive (Slides and Forms).
The majority of my printable & Google format products are a mix of novel studies, social studies, and financial literacy materials. I also have a few ELA and Math centers that are interactive for Google Drive in addition to printable. In every download, you will find the full printable content as well as a page like this that contains links to add the Google format files to your Google Drive along with directions on how to do it.
Once you click that link your file will now appear in your Google Drive account. It is named “Copy of File Name”. You can easily change that to whatever you want it to be simply by clicking on the name box. From there you can assign the files to your students using Google Classroom.
For novel studies, your students will still need a copy of the novel to accompany the printable or Google Drive format of the novel study. With that copy, they can move through the novel study answering the comprehension questions, vocabulary activities, and extended writing activities all in the Google Slides, just as they can with the printable version. The teacher can monitor their progress in Google Classroom and I would suggest check-ins with small groups of students using platforms such as Google Talk (also known as Google Hangouts or Google Chat) or Zoom, to touch base with your students with a discussion of what they’ve read to make sure they are understanding the content and help them dig deeper in their understanding of the novel. This would be the same thing you would do with class discussions in the classroom, just using technology to cover the distance between you.
All of my novel studies contain assessments that can be completed in Google Forms. All of the multiple-choice comprehension and vocabulary assessments are self-grading which saves you a ton of time! The writing assessments can’t be in a self-grading format since they are not multiple choice in nature, but there are generally only one to two questions per assessment and can be turned in via Google Classroom for you to read and grade.
My social studies and financial literacy formats are very similar to the novel studies in Google format, however, there is no book or textbook needed to complete them. I include Webquest links for learning content and include slideshow presentations in all of my social studies materials to help the student gain the knowledge to complete the activities.
Again, Google Slides is used for the slideshows and for the completion of activities. Google Forms is incorporated in some of the financial literacy activities in the Escape Room activities to explore the content in addition to the Google Slides.
All of the interactive ELA and Math Centers are completed in Google Slides. Students will manipulate the components to practice the skills. This can be monitored by the teacher in Google Classroom.
Most of us take for granted that we have access to computers/laptops and internet access at home. We know that there are some students where it is simply not accessible to them. In public schools, we have the obligation to provide equity for our students. If your school doesn’t have 1:1 capability or you have a student who does not have access at home again, all of my materials are also provided in a printable format within the same product download. All these activities are the same, just on paper instead of the computer. You can send these packets home with your students. To touch base you could try phone calls with those students or maybe something like Facetime or Skype if they have access to that via a parent cell phone. Again, the same content, just a different format.
Technology has given us so many options on how to work with our students. I am not an advocate for screentime for all learning as I feel very strongly that using all of our senses through reading, writing, manipulating, and discussing is the optimal way to learn, but there are times when this is not possible and I hope that my materials can help provide you with different options to utilize at various times when e-learning is called for.
Take a look at these free samples available in my store that contain both a printable and Google Drive™ format to help you get a feel for how it all works.
You can find some tips in this post, Tips for Using Google Drive in Your Classroom, about how to more easily customize Google Drive products to better fit your individual needs.
Spring is in the air, the weather is changing and I know I am antsy to get outside so I can just imagine how antsy students cooped up in the classroom are feeling! Spring is not a time to sit inside and watch the world through the window! We all want to get out there and smell the lilacs! Alas, school is still in session so how do you keep your students still learning as their focus wanes?
• Allow students to earn additional free time outside. Join in! Play a class game of kickball and get in there and play with them!
• Take the class outside and find a quiet spot for silent or read aloud time. Some of my favorite teaching memories are sitting under the giant tree on the front lawn of the school and reading with my students.
These could include review games that allow the children to move.
Based on the resources, especially over the summer, this could consist of spring annuals for beauty or possibly vegetables for nourishment if the resources allow for it.
Some great sites to help come up with outdoor class ideas can be found here:
A community space that they beautify gives the students a sense of pride that they are leaving a legacy behind at their school.
Summer will be here before you know it, but take a little time to smell the spring flowers, enjoy nature, and play with your class to alleviate those antsy spring fever symptoms for all of you.
There are many advantages to using technology in our classrooms today. Along with the pros, there are also the cons of glitches and user frustrations. I offer all of my novel studies and social studies products in a Google Drive format in addition to the printable format to help make it easier for teachers to use the technology that is available to them without having to develop all their own files.
Due to the newness of these formats, I often get technical questions from buyers. I decided to put together this blog post to answer the most frequent questions I get and provide a tutorial for how to manipulate the files to best fit individual needs.
I do offer an instruction guide within each of my products. However, there are still some issues from time to time. The key thing that is missed is that the teacher is not logged into the Google Drive account where they want to house their newly purchased file. If an attempt to click the link within the product is made without being logged in often a message stating that they “need to request access to the file”. You should not need to request access from me at all after you’ve purchased your file, nor should your students need to request access if the directions have been followed. Usually, the fix for this is to simply make sure you are properly logged into your Google Drive and then click the file link. From there you can share via Google Classroom in the normal manner with no access request needed.
Make sure you are logged into your Google Drive and then click the link found in your resource on that page that looks like this:
A new tab will open with the force copy prompt.
Your file will now appear in your Google Drive account. It is named “Copy of File Name”. You can easily change that to whatever you want it to be simply by clicking into the name box.
I strive to create and share this work in the most efficient fashion that I can. For every Google file, I create there is a unique link. If I were to separate these out by chapters or activities you would have a PDF with so many links that it would cause a lot of confusion which is why for each unit there is generally only a single file link or a few for larger files broken into larger sections.
It is understandable that teachers would want the ability to tweak these files to best fit their needs when assigning to students. I get asked a lot about how to share just a single chapter with students for example. There is an easy way for you to create custom pieces to assign to your students from your master file. Below I have included the steps to follow to help guide you in customizing to meet your needs in a quick manner.
Once your master file has been placed into your Google Drive follow these steps:
The size dimensions shared above are for all of my novel study products. My social studies size dimensions can vary, with 12×12 being the most common. You can see what dimension your master file is set at (look at page setup) to know the right size for the file you are creating to avoid any distortion.
Hopefully, you will find these clarifications and tips helpful so that you can customize your files to best fit the needs of your students and classroom. If you have additional questions please reach out as I am happy to share tips and clarify anything that may be confusing. You can find my email address on the first page of every file you have downloaded from my store.
It’s the heart of winter here in Nebraska and with winter comes illness. You get sick, your students are sick, your own children are sick! It is the season for a sub! We all know that it is almost more difficult to prepare for a sub and get everything back on track rather than just come to school sick and push through.
For the health of the community, I ask you to please stay home, take care of yourself, yet be prepared for that inevitable day so that you can focus on getting well, not stressing about your classroom!
A little planning will do you and your sub a world of good, not to mention that classroom full of kids!
• One great thing to do for prep is to make sure you’ve stocked your classroom with games, puzzles, and stories for students and subs to read for a short quick lesson. Click here for some ideas for a “sub bag”. Have these items right there for your sub to have if he/she didn’t come as prepared as you’d hope.
• Leave a list of game ideas and writing prompts that the sub can pull from to fill the time. Click here for some quick time-filler activities.
• Finally, one of the best places to go for a quick, no-cost lesson and prep for a sub is Teachers Pay Teachers. Click here to find FREE downloads for all your sub planning needs!
A little prep when you’re healthy can save you a lot of stress, frustration, and time when you’re not feeling 100%. Plus, your sub will thank you for taking that time to make their day as smooth as possible for your students!
Some of my most vivid childhood memories of school were the novel studies that we read for various subjects. It was my favorite way to learn skills, history, and any topic really! I am a lover of books and getting to read an entire book from cover to cover as a school assignment put me in heaven! I am sure this is a major reason why as a teacher my passion is to create and teach novel studies! I love to introduce new books to students and as a community, get immersed in the book together. I love for a student to pull us off the schedule with a question or comment from something they read that leads the class in a lively discussion. That’s where the real memorable learning takes place after all!
Novel studies are my largest product line simply because I like to focus on what I love. I want to work with my passion! I often get questions from readers asking how I would set up novel studies in my classroom. I decided to write a small series explaining my methods. For the most part, all of my novel studies include comprehension questions, vocabulary/grammar skill work, extension activities, and assessments.
Assessment of a novel study can be a tricky thing to handle. My main objective, in addition to hitting skills, is to hook the student on the enjoyment of reading a good book. Too much assessment can kill that joy, but we need some way to assess that the skills have been met. It’s a delicate balance.
I often get questions from potential buyers asking if there are assessments after every chapter of my novel studies. I kind of cringe when I get these questions because I can only imagine the dread the students have if they are tested after every chapter! Testing is not the only way to assess if a student has read and understood. In my experience, class discussions and the writing in the comprehension answers are more than sufficient evidence of learning and understanding by the student. It is imperative when using novel studies not to lose focus and kill the joy of reading for your students! You want them to voluntarily choose to pick up another book to read when a novel study is over, not run as far as they can from books!
I do understand that assessments can be helpful and needed, but they need to be appropriate and not overwhelming. For many of my novel studies, I have split the book into logical sections and have a comprehensive assessment after each particular section. For example, my Wonder, Projekt 1065, and Tuck Everlasting novel studies, to name a couple, are created in this format.
For some, I only offer assessments at the end of the book for comprehension, vocabulary, and a writing essay question. I offer an end of the novel quiz in both a multiple-choice or a short answer format for comprehension, a multiple-choice format for vocabulary, and a writing assessment so that the teacher can choose which is most appropriate for their students. You can see an example of this from my Turtle in Paradise Novel Study.
All of my novel studies offer a Google Drive™ format to use with your students in addition to the printable format that is shown above. This allows you to use novel studies in a 1:1 classroom, save paper, and easily engage students that are absent. The assessments are included as multiple-choice questions in a Google Forms™ format so that they are self-grading. Here’s an example page from the Google Drive™ format of my A Wrinkle in Time Novel Study.
The key, in my opinion, is not to overdo the testing. You just need to be able to assess if the students are understanding what they are reading and that can easily be done in so many different ways that aren’t paper and pencil testing. Don’t kill the love the student is developing for the book you are reading!
I hope this series has been helpful to you in the planning to use novels in your classroom. I promise you will not be sorry and you may just be the spark that takes your student on a lifetime love of reading!
You can find Where the Red Fern Grows Novel Study, Wonder Novel Study, Hatchet Novel Study, Tuck Everlasting Novel Study, Projekt 1065 Novel Study, and A Wrinkle in Time Novel Study that are mentioned above here in my store or at my TpT store. I also offer over 100 titles ranging from grades 1 to 8 where I am sure you’ll find something to engage your class in some deep reading.
Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!