Mentor Texts for Social Studies--- Mississippi Morning

Sunday.. Funday! I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties for Mentor Texts!

 This week we are looking at Social Studies texts.  I'm really interested in this one because I found out not too long ago that I have to teach a period of Social Studies next year.  I'm really interested in texts on Ancient Civilizations which will be my focus, but the one I'm sharing today is called Mississippi Morning  by Ruth Vander Zee.

The story takes place in Mississippi in the 1930s and focuses on a boy named James Williams.  His Pa is part of the Ku Klux Klan, and James does not realize it.  This story describes how James begins to realize the true character of his father.  He struggles with this realization, as he has a good friend that is an African American.  It is a great addition to US History and teaching about Civil Rights.
I used this as a character ed piece after we read a story about Rosa Parks in our basal reader.  With Rosa Parks we were learning how she was harassed by the Klan in Alabama.  My smarties did not understand this concept.. enter the Mentor Text.  You can read more about how I used the story in a post {HERE.}  In the post I tied the story to a poetry book as well.  That is realistic fiction based.  I used the pieces for comparative text which is a big test prep skill for us.

I did create a short unit based on the book and it is in my TpT store.  If you are interested in picking it up, you can go {Here}

Be sure to stop by and visit Amanda and Stacia at Collaboration Cuties and link up a Mentor Text about Social Studies!  I'll be on the look out for books about Ancient Civilizations and WWI and WWII, and the French, Russian, and Industrial Revolutions!


Five for Friday and Flashbacks on April 26

Wow has this been a LONG LONG WEEK!  I'm linking up with Doogle Bugs and Teaching Maddeness today...

#1:  Today is my beautiful Mom's birthday!  I wish I was in Florida visiting her!  She is a wonderful, generous, fabulous mom, and I miss getting to see her more often.  To honor her, I made a little lapbook project for my smarties to celebrate their Mother's or Father's.  
I can't wait to work on it with them.
You can find it {HERE} if you are interested.

#2:  This week my loverly daughter, "24" got her catcher's gear on and played softball I think every day!  Talk about a GAMLLION hours at the ballpark!  To help raise money for the team we are having a gala this weekend.  Her team was responsible for making 3 baskets, so I worked on getting them ready.  Didn't they turn out SUPER CUTE!!
I basically shopped with another mom for the basket "innards" and a wonderful, super awesome teaching assistant who is Martha Stewart in disguise I SWEAR put them together.  I am not this crafty.

#3  After going through 6 days of state assessments.. 90 minutes each day, my smarties were ready for something different.  I have to read a story in our basal about Money and the Euro.  I found a video that I have had for like 15 years from the US MINT about how they make coin and currency.  Totally 90s mullets and all, but the kids liked not having to do any computation after 3 LONG test days!

#4:  Speaking of those blasted assessments.. look at what our Celebration Committee did for us in the staff room!
Everyday we had different snacks.. healthy and guilty chocolate coma inducing snacks.. it helped make the week just a little bit better!

#5:  Lastly.. we are still reading The One and Only Ivan... have you gotten this book yet?  

If not, RUN.. don't walk.. RUN RUN RUN out and make this purchase!  You will love it.  I wrote about the book {HERE} if you are wondering what it is all about.

Enjoy your weekend! and Link up with Doodle Bugs and Amanda at Teaching Maddeness!


A Fan-TASH-tic Freebie

Isn't it a Terrific Tuesday!  Today the sun was shining.. and my smarties were ON FIRE with math review.  The rest of the week we are going to be completing our State Math Assessment.  90 minutes of testing each day for the next 3 days!  I'm totally going to be running on DUNKIN by Friday!
To give my students a little lift I made these....

I thought they would also be cute if I were to put them on a bag for an End of the Year Celebration, or Back to School:

If you are interested, stop by my TpT store and pick them up for FREE {HERE}
and leave me a little comment love, follow my blog or TpT store!
Enjoy this terrific Tuesday!


A Family Field Trip to the Florida Museum of Natural History

A few weeks ago we were on Spring Break in Florida.  The sun was shining, it was 75, we were wearing shorts... my family visited the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida in Gainesville.  The Museum gives the natural, science history of fossils that have been found in Florida, and it also provides the social history of the Native Americans. We love this museum.  Usually when we are at UF we end up at the museum at least once because of the Butterfly Rainforest.
Have you ever been to a Butterfly Rainforest?  There is one in NY as well at the Strong Museum of Play which is incredible if you have younger children.  My two smart-alecky kids love to go to the UF campus and this museum.  In August when we were there a butterfly went up my daughter's nose!  It would not leave her alone.  The kids named it Kathy.. no idea why. So now, every time we visit, we have to go find Kathy.

This time, the museum has a special exhibit called TitanBoa.  Students from UF and several other universities discovered a fossil of a GINORMOUS.. yes I'm considered that a word now.. Anaconda snake.  They have brought the fossilized remains back to Gainesville, and are in the process of cleaning up and displaying the snake.
This exhibit was really cool.. and the MATH GEEK in me was going crazy!
UF did a really nice job of setting up this display.  In the bottom picture above you can see a large picture of a snake.  My goofy daughter who is 5 foot 5, is laying at the head of the snake.  The entire wall measures the snake's length.  How cool would it be to see how many of your student's would be equal to the snake size!  I'm going to show my smarties my pictures and have them measure the lengths on the sidewalk outside.  I want to see how many of my students will be the length of the snake.  Of course, I'll add a little bit MORE to it.. they are middle schoolers.. I'm going make them figure out what percent of the snake they are.  That will be a good review from our ratios and proportions unit.  They also  showed visitors the diameter of a normal sized Anaconda snake, and then the projected diameter of TITANBOA.
Working with circles isn't part of my curriculum anymore with the Common Core change, but I'm definitely going to incorporate this stat into a lab of some sort.

It was pretty neat to see all of the measurement places and dimensions work throughout this museum.  Once the lightbulb was turned on, I couldn't get over the amount of math and science could be found.  I'm sure the the Museum has created educational consult works for school groups, but there is a lot of neat extra stuff here if you are willing to do a little leg work first.  Of course, I have never taken my middles here, only my family, but it was a great day.. and an educational one on my spring break!

Have you ever been to the Florida Museum of Natural History?  or another museum where a family trip turned into a lightbulb CLASSROOM moment? Leave me a comment and let me know.

<Just for Disclosure purposes:  This post is MY OPINION ONLY and has nothing to do with UF or the Museum>


Proud Teacher Moment with Newberry Winner: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

Have you had time to read the 2013 Newbery Winner yet?

This book is FABULOUS!  It is a quick, easy, heart-wreching, funny, FAB-U-LOUS book!

I love to do projects with the librarian in our Middle School.  My smarties don't actually  have library as a special area class anymore, but I try as much as possible to schedule a little ELA time in the library, and then I co-teach with our librarian.  About 3 weeks ago she shared Ivan with me.  I had my daughter read it first because I was finishing a different novel.  My 7th grader read this book in about a day.  Once she got started, she couldn't put it down.  She would talk, and talk, and TALK about Ivan.  At dinner, on the way to school, after school, over the weekend... for DAYS after reading the book.
When I finally read it, about a week later. I did the same thing.  We talked about IVAN everywhere!

In a nutshell, Ivan is a gorilla who lives alone in a "domain" and is part of the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.  He spends his day watching TV, and the people on the other side of his glass enclosure.  Sometimes he paints, which Mack, the owner, sells in the gift shop.  Ivan is friends with Bob, the dog, and Stella, an older elephant.  Soon, Ruby, a new elephant, becomes part of the Big Top Mall, and because Ivan has made a promise to a friend, he begins to see his life differently.  It is classic character change at its very best!!!

Katherine Applegate does such a great job of making Ivan humanistic.  Ivan is funny, and poignant, and heartwarming.  The story is actually losely based on a real gorilla.    But Applegate, takes it to another level.  You feel for Ivan.  You work through his resistance to change right along with him.  You watch him become a different "person."  The web site:  The One and Only Ivan can give you information about the book, the real Ivan, and the author.. it has a fabulous video intro!

I am currently using The One and Only Ivan as a read aloud in my classroom.  My smarties, even as cool, hip, "you don't need to read to me anymore, I'm not a baby" middle schoolers are quiet and hanging on my words in this book.  When we finish we are going to continue some practice on expository and argumentative writing using some themes from Ivan.

What absolutely floored me late last week was a text to world connection that one of my Smarties made.  Ivan comments early in the book about being in his domain.  He describes the fact that he has really gotten used to the surroundings, and doesn't really think about the fact that he is no longer free.  After I finished the sentence, one of my smarties pipes up.." GEEZ.. I wonder if that is how the Jewish people felt in the concentration camps during World War II?  You know, like they just got used to it.  It wasn't a good situation, but they had to learn to adapt, and then they.. well.. just didn't remember."
HELLO! My mouth was about to hit the floor... HUGE... MAJOR... THINK BEYOND MYSELF MOMENT right there!  I was so Proud!  
It makes testing this week a little easier!

Drop me a line if you or your class has read this book and loved it!  When  we finish, I'll post about writing our essays!


Math Mentor Texts: Multiplying Menace

Morning all!  I'm linking up with the Collaboration Cuties this week for Mentor Texts on Math.

I can't wait to read about what everyone will be sharing!  When I was teaching in an elementary building I used literature in math ALL the time.  In fact, I wrote my masters level disseration on using literature texts in a mathematics setting.  Hello... Common Core... maybe I was just ahead of my time. <hee hee>  But I have found in the middle school sometimes this is more difficult to do.  It's not for lack of books, but more a timing thing.  With only 42 minutes everyday for math, I have a limited time to use the books.  I'm changing my team siuation for next year, and with the change I'm working on a little more TIME for math.  I'm hoping that I can incorporate more books like this one:

My Smarties loved this book during our unit on Multiplying Fractions.  In this story it is 10 years after Rumpelstiltskin has spun gold and turned a poor maid into the queen.  He returns to the kingdom to claim the queen's son.  When she refuses, he uses his magic walking stick to multiply bad things within the kingdom (bugs, rats etc).  The queen's son, Peter, agrees to go with Rumpelstiltskin.  He learns the magic of the walking stick, and tricks Rumpel at his own game.
What is great about about this book is that the multiplication is not just by whole numbers.  Peter figures out he must use a FRACTION to defeat Rumpel.. how cool is that for upper grades!
If you have a great Mentor Text for Math, head on over to see Amanda and Stacia, the Collaboration Cuties and link up a book that you use in your classroom.


Five for Friday: April 12th

Finally it's Friday!  I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for 5 random things from my week:

#1:  I miss the warm Florida weather!  We were there for Spring Break, watching our GATORS in action.  Most people don't know, but part of the Gators Alma Mater says "In All Kinds of Weather We All Stick Together.."  this has been the mantra of my family for the last 2 years.  When we were there, we found Nike and the Gator Nation has made this Tshirt:
Can I tell you how PERFECT this is for all the busy..crazy things going on now!  I have been sharing this mantra with my Smarties this week as we prepare for our state assessments.. They know I'm a big Gators fan... the timer in my classroom plays GO GATORS so they appreciate the irony of needing to "stick together" to weather the assessments.. AND the POURING RAIN we have been having lately.

#2  Softball and Baseball season have started in my home!  Both of my kiddoes play, but my daughter, "24" is more involved because she is on a travel team.  While stalking Pinterest this week I found this cute signage:
 I may need to get my craft on and make her one of these...

#3:  I am finishing up a unit on Surface Area.. why oh why Common Core Curriculum Creators (Yes, Alliteration was still hanging around in my brain after review) did you put surface area in the sixth grade when my smarties  have trouble with visualizing nets!  It takes sooo long for them to be able to actually see the NET of a 3D object.  Once they can create it, finding the surface area is a piece of cake.
I have brought in so many different boxes it's unreal.  I think we have tackeled prisms, and we are on to pyramids next week.

#4:  Speaking of alliteration, I reviewed alliteration this week.. all figurative language as a matter of fact, and I used this book:

Have you ever heard of it?  I am in LOVE with this book!  It is a fabulous MENTOR TEXT and the illustrations are beautiful. My class always has the best time hunting all of the different pictures for the alphabet words.  Great fun on so many levels!

#5:  My Michael Carter Williams, point guard for the Syracuse Orange Men's basketball team is going to enter the NBA draft... <boo...hissss...whine...whine>  He is only a sophmore, and I would have liked to see him stick around and play a bit more college ball.  I love this picture of him.  I took it at a team warm up before a game at the end of the season.
I know I posted this picture earlier in the month.. it just makes me giggle that he has his tongue out!


TpT Flash Sale and a little light Lucy reading

I have reached 100 followers at my TpT store!  From today (Wednesday) through Friday everything in my store is 20% off to celebrate.
I'm feeling like this week is super long!  Anyone with me on that one?  I may need an extra 'cuppa joe' or two in order to get through the week!  I feel like all I've been doing is NOT teaching... as in prepping for THE BIG TEST which begins next week.  We did alliteration review today.. bet you couldn't tell that from my blog title <hee hee>

I'm wishing I was back in the sunshine... on the beach.. doing a little "light reading" like I was last week.  Lucy could be considered light reading.. don't you think?
Could this count for APPR points?
Anyone else reading this book?  I feel like I need to have a conversation about it!


Squared Away on a Sunday LINKY PARTY: Attention! Your 15 minute Break is Now Over! and a FREEBIE

My Spring Break is coming to a close. Of course was longer than 15 minutes, but I am still wishing it was longer.  We had a chance to visit the hubs over break.  It was a LONG LONG car ride that I WILL NOT be doing again any time soon.. too many crazy drivers.  We also had a chance to visit with family while we were down in Florida.
The weather was beautiful.  We celebrated Easter together, and took a day to go to the beach.  We also had a chance to catch a Gators baseball game, and softball game.  GO GATORS!  We visited the Florida Museum of Natural History which was Fabulous.. and which I will be posting about later in the week.
My poor Gators lost in the Elite 8 against that dreaded Michigan team which then turned around and BEAT my 'Cuse last night <sniffle sniffle>

 I have to at least start thinking about school for the week.  It is our last week before we take our state assessments, which I feel have been looming over our heads since school started.  They are expecting a 40% drop in test scores, so we are all scrambling to get currciulum finished.  I still have to teach a section of Geometry on 3D shapes.  Meanwhile, I am pulling together things to review like Equations and Expressions, Multiptlication and Division of Fractions, Decimals, and the dreaded Ratios and Rates.  I'm going to be taking a day or two on each of the major topics to review the computation aspect and then the word problems pieces.  AAHHHHHH!  Please can't  I have a few more days of rest and relaxation!
If anyone is interested, I do have computation and word problem practice cards in my TpT store for the above mentioned units.
I may also have my smarties fill out a DIDN'T DO POEM just for fun as we get acclimated in the morning.
In this poem they tell of all the things they DIDN'T get to do over break, and things they will be looking forward to doing now that it is getting warmer.  It is FREE  in my TpT store. You can get your copy by clicking {HERE} if you are interested

Link up below with what you have planned or 'SQUARED AWAY' for the week, or if you have a FREEBIE to share that will help us with upcoming assessments, or just plain SPRING FUN!
Follow Farley's Linky Rules:  Comment on 2 before and 1 after!  Grab my linky picture above and share the love!


April Currently

Wowza!  April already!  It is hard to believe considering that March felt like the LONGEST month ever!  I'm linking up with Farley and her Currently while I am off drinking in a little sunshine over my Spring Break.
Listening:  It is so nice to visit with family over Spring Break.  We had an Easter egg hunt yesterday in the warm sunshine and the kids had so much fun.
Loving:  How about my Syracuse Orangemen!! Final Four Baby!  That is so exciting.  Those boys have had an incredible run to Atlanta.  They are so exciting to watch.  I love this shot of Michael Carter Williams.  He is warming up at a home game, his face just makes me laugh.

Thinking, Wanting and Needing:  I'm on Spring Break this week.  Although I HAD big plans to work on a few things for my classroom, right now I need more vitamin D in my life.  I think relaxing poolside and working on my tan is needed for a few days before I dive back in to school work.  The temperatures in the North East have been awful.. cold.. snowy.. unspring like.  So I am enjoying the warmer weather with  my family. 

Advice:  I've only been blogging for about 7 months, so I am still learning a LOT from the wonderful people out here in bloggy land, but one thing I think is important is leaving people a little comment love when you like something they have to say.  I find my blog gets a ton of hits when I put up freebies, but there are few comments.  If you like what people have to say, or even the Freebies they are offering, take time to comment back to them.  I have met some great people in bloggyland over the past few months, and it has really pushed me to think differently.

Stop on over and visit Farley and all the wonderful bloggers you can find there!
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