Select Page
Got Spring Fever?

Got Spring Fever?

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?

 

Head Outdoors: 

• 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.

 

Add more “get up and move activities” to your day.

These could include review games that allow the children to move.

 

 

 

 

Have students choose and set a goal for themselves to meet by the end of the school year to give them something individual to focus on and achieve.

 

 

Bring a focus on science by creating a community garden for your school.

 

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.


 

Tips for Using Google Drive in Your Classroom

Tips for Using Google Drive in Your Classroom

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.

How do I get the file into my Google Drive?

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.

 

How can I assign individual chapters or activities to students instead of the whole file?

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 is 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.



Setting up for a Sub in a Pinch!

Setting up for a Sub in a Pinch!

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.

Click here for some “No Lesson Plan” activities for your sub to utilize.

• 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!


How to Teach Novel Studies Part 5: Assessment

How to Teach Novel Studies Part 5: Assessment

Some of my most vivid childhood memories of school were the novel studies that we read for various subjects. It was my most favorite way to learn skills, history, 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 is 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.

Today’s post, part 5, is the conclusion of the series dealing with the assessment aspect of using novel studies. You can read part 1Part 2,  Part 3, and Part 4 here.

Novel Studies Part 5: Assessment

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 is 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. For many of my novel studies, 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 Hatchet Novel Study.

 

I’ve switched up the format a little in other units such as Where the Red Fern Grows Novel Study that incorporates the comprehension and writing assessments into one format.

 

 

In some of my other novel studies, I have split the book into logical sections and have a comprehensive assessment after each particular section. My Wonder and Tuck Everlasting Novel Studies are created in this format.

 

 

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, to save paper, and to 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 StudyWonder Novel Study, Hatchet Novel Study, Tuck Everlasting Novel Study, and A Wrinkle in Time Novel Study that are mentioned above in my store. I also offer over 90 titles ranging from grades 1 to 8 where I am sure you’ll find something to engage your class in some deep reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

To read Part 1: Comprehension

To read Part 2: Vocabulary

Part 3: Pacing

Part 4: Extras!

How to Teach Novel Studies Part 4: The Extras!

How to Teach Novel Studies Part 4: The Extras!

Some of my most vivid childhood memories of school were the novel studies that we read for various subjects. It was my most favorite way to learn skills, history, 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 is 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.

Today’s post, part 4, deals with the extras added to the novel studies, from writing activities to non-fiction research activities. You can read part 1Part 2, and Part 3 here.

 

Novel Studies Part 4: The Extras!

Of course, when using novel studies in the classroom you need to hit the basics of comprehension and vocabulary. One of the wonderful bonuses with novel studies is you can pull in other areas of the curriculum into a larger thematic unit. The various topics of the different books can lead to a plethora of inquiry and learning.

As I create a novel study I open my mind to all the places the story may be taking me. Some books are easier to explore outside the reading domain than others. Some take me down the rabbit hole of investigation with a deep-thought question that allows for some longer writing passages that can lead to some really nice class debates!

 

Some examples of great non-fiction investigation are The Lightning Thief Novel Study and The One and Only Ivan Novel Study. You can branch off to an entire Greek Mythology Unit with The Lightning Thief.

 

With The One and Only Ivan Novel Study, your students can learn about gorillas and elephants. They can learn and compare life for these animals in the wild vs. captivity. And, the most interesting to me was the true story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla that inspired the story!

 

 

A book like Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH lead to some deep-thought questions regarding animal testing that can be debated and discussed in-depth in the classroom.

 

 

 

 

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, to save paper, and to easily engage students that are absent. The “extras” of the novel study are included in the Google Drive™ format as well. Here’s an example page from the Google Drive™ format of my The Lightning Thief Novel Study.

I love being able to combine the theme from the full novel throughout different curriculum areas in a way you just can’t do with short passage reading instruction. This allows for even deeper learning by using novel studies!


 

Join me for the conclusion in my series to learn how I handle the assessments to end my novel studies.

 

 


You can find  The Lightning Thief Stone Novel StudyThe One and Only Ivan Novel Study, and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH Novel Study that are mentioned above in my store. I also offer over 90 titles ranging from grades 1 to 8 where I am sure you’ll find something to engage your class in some deep reading.

 

 

 


 

 

To read Part 1: Comprehension

To read Part 2: Vocabulary

Part 3: Pacing

How to Teach Novel Studies Part 3: Pacing

How to Teach Novel Studies Part 3: Pacing

Some of my most vivid childhood memories of school were the novel studies that we read for various subjects. It was my most favorite way to learn skills, history, 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 is 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.

Today’s post, part 3, deals with pacing the novel study. You can read part 1 and part 2 here.

Novel Studies Part 3: Pacing

One of the challenges of using novel studies in the classroom is finding the time. It’s a balance between not moving too fast and not letting the unit drag on for too long because we all know you have a million other things to squeeze into your curriculum!

 

Each of my complete novel studies includes detailed daily teacher lesson plans that include the objective and directions for the day. You can see how I have this designed for my Freak the Mighty Novel Study.

 

 

 

I also create a pacing guide for each novel study that helps you map out your long-range plan. You can see an example here from my Crenshaw Novel Study.

 

 

It’s a delicate balance to set the pacing. I generally try to aim for approximately 20 pages to read per day. This will be altered based on the chapter sizes. I don’t schedule to split chapters as I feel this disrupts the reader. I know I hate to stop reading mid-chapter. That’s just mean!

 

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, to save paper, and to easily engage students that are absent. Here’s an example page from the Google Drive™ format of my Wishtree Novel Study. The same pacing would apply for the Google™ version as you would use for the printable version.

 

This pacing is a suggestion as it has worked for me, but it is very adaptable so that you can work to fit it into the schedule that you are working with. The planning pages are generally written for a whole class novel study, but again these can very easily be adapted to fit small book groups or individual novel studies. How much teacher interaction you want to have in the course of the study is up to you and can be worked out very easily in the suggested pacing.


Join me for part 4 in my series to learn how I add the extra experiences to my novel studies for deeper learning and growth.

 

 


You can find my Freak the Mighty Novel StudyCrenshaw Novel Study, and Wishtree Novel Study that are mentioned above in my store. I also offer over 90 titles ranging from grades 1 to 8 where I am sure you’ll find something to engage your class in some deep reading.

 

 

 

 


 

 

To read Part 1: Comprehension

To read Part 2: Vocabulary