Writing Biography Lapbooks with QR Codes

We had a great wrap up of our Biography Unit before Spring Break last week.  My Smarties spent about a month reading biographies about Famous People, and we finally settled into writing about a famous person.  We worked at how to find at least three points of research, and then how to organize and categorize that research for our essays.  Next, we wrote our five paragraph essays, and color coded to make sure there were topics, details and conclusions.  We used our library, and had a lesson from the librarian about citation machine.
But, I wanted something more from this project.  I really wanted to make sure my students understood who their person was, so I handed each one Ipod and Kindle Clipart.  I challenged them to come up with three songs that would be on their person's personal Ipod, and three books that would be on their Kindle.  We took the essays and created Biography Lapbooks.

To get students engaged in reading each other's essays and work, I also taught them about QR codes.  Each student found a video clip that was no more than 3-5 minutes to entice the reader to further investigate.  For example, a student who wrote about Jim Henson found a video clip of Kermit the Frog singing Rainbow Connection.  Another who wrote about Pele, found a clip of the Top Ten Goals scored by this famous soccer player.

We created the Lapbooks, and drew pictures of our famous person on the front.  Next we glued the QR code to the front.  On the inside of the books, we included the essay, Ipod songs and Kindle books.

My students were so excited to debut these books because they were able to bring in their Ipods and use them at school for our Gallery Walk.

On the last full day before break we lined all of our projects up in the long hallway outside of our classroom, then students spread out and spent our 80 minute ELA periods reading and listening about these Famous people.

Our technology director for the district even came down and participated.  I did a short video of one of my students explaining the project, and he even put it up on our district webpage!  Yay to my Smarties!

I know this will be a really memorable project!  I can't wait to get started on a few more Lapbook projects before the school year ends!


Surviving Spring to Welcome Summer Blog Hop! {FREEBIE}

This week I'm teaming up with a few of my BBBs to share a few tips for surviving the end of the school year.

 I was so excited to do this post because we are almost finished with our state assessments, and we still have 9 more weeks of school.  Many of my students think that once our assessments are over they don't have to work anymore, so getting these survival tips early is so great for me.

Really, what I want to tell you is... RUN.. I mean RUN.. to your nearest Dunkin, Starbucks, Coffee House, and get yourself a nice 'Cuppa Joe!  Every teacher at the end of the year needs that little extra kick, and coffee will definitely help.  But really, as much as WE need that little extra something something, our students do to.  I try to make as much of my class period as interactive as possible.  That's why we create Student Survival Kit Lapbooks at the end of the year.

I use these Lapbooks to help my students reflect on what they have learned from their experience in sixth grade, and to help me launch my new school year.  My Smarties create a lapbook which I place on my students desks in September when we start back to school.

My freebie for you today is a page from my Student Survival Kit Lapbook.

You can have your students fill these out as morning work, share them in your morning meeting or ELA time, and then save them for your students in the fall.  Place them on the desks of incoming students, or mail them home with your Welcome letter and give them a little preview of your classroom and who you are as a teacher.
Just Click on the Pic above to download this freebie and don't forget to continue on the HOP!

Stop by and visit my friend AMC at Looking from Third to Fourth and grab another Freebie!

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Sparking Student Motivation: Black Death Plague Simulation

My teammate and I found a fantastic way to keep our students motivated during our half day before Spring Break:  a PLAGUE SIMULATION!
We just finished studying the Middle Ages, and we knew that this would be an incredible lab experience for our students.  I try to make my classes as interactive as possible.  I only have my students for a 42 minute period, and I don't want them to be bored while they are with me.  Usually we use our interactive notebook for social studies lessons, but I always try to add in some sort of extended project with each unit.  I was so excited to actually find a simulation that would get my students up and moving during class!

I found the idea for our Black Death Simulation {HERE}.   I didn't create this simulation, it was made for S.C.O.R.E. Science.  (Schools-Online-Resources for Educators).  It is really simple to create.  Maps, Trade and Pilgrimage Routes, Directions etc.  are all included.  FOR FREE!!!  You just simply buy white, red and pinto beans, dice, and bags.  You could also use bingo chips if you have a bunch of them in the same color.  You need space for 25 city stations so I grabbed mouse pads from a few friends classroom to keep the dice noise down to a minimum.  That 's a great trick BTW if you don't have containers, and students are working in groups with dice.  Rolling on a mouse pad eliminates flying LOUD dice.

Students are assigned a pilgrimage or trade route.  They "travel" to each city on the list and roll a die.  The number represents the number of nights you spend in that city.  You pull that same number of beans out of the bag.  If you grab a red or pinto bean you have contracted the plague or cholera.  You then travel to next two cities infected those bags with the plague or cholera before you die.  As a culmination, students write a post card home explaining their trade route, and when and where they contracted the plague.  They also label a class map of where they were infected and where they died.  Then we have an opportunity to analyze the data.  Hello!  Math and Social Studies!!!

My students HAD A BLAST trying to escape the plague as they traveled from city to city.  Take a look at a few of our pictures below.  Our principal even joined in.  Unfortunately, he contracted the plague, but he managed to spread it to a few more cities before dying!

Stop over at visit Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching to find out about a ton of ways teachers are motivating their students! Spring Break here I come!


#IMWAYR April 14th: Day of Tears

This week I'm doing a little preparation for my Smarties for AFTER our Spring Break.  We just finished up The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordin, and I want to get back into independent novels.  I'm looking for books that have multiple perspectives, so I picked up this to use as my novel in the study: Day of Tears by Julius Lester.
Holy WOW!  This book is amazing!  The figurative language in it is amazing!  I can't wait to get my Reading Graffiti wall up after break.
Good Reads Summary:
I know a lot of my students will pick Riordin's books.  They love him. But I'm hoping a few will branch out into some different territories.
My daughter is currently reading:  I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.
I'm really interested to see how she likes this book because generally, she is not into science fiction.  Here is the Goodreads summary.

What are you currently reading?  Stop by and visit Jen at Teach Mentor Texts, and add a few books to your MUST READ list!

A Peek at My SHORT Week! Terrible Tudors, Figurative Language, and Math Review

Happy Sunday all!  I'm doing a quick link up with Jennifer over at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings  for a Peek at My Week Party!

We have a short week.  Only two and a half days until Spring Break... We... can... make... it!
I'm spending a little time tying up some loose ends before we leave because when we get back we have our HUGE THREE DAY #thisteacherisstressed Math Assessment.
So here goes:

I am finishing up a unit on the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation.  My Smarties have loved learning about the feudal system, Magna Carta, Da Vinci and Martin Luther.  I'm reviewing with a little Middle Ages Bingo tomorrow and showing them this funny video about Henry VIII and using this Terrible Tudors video.  My class LOVES these!

Next, I'll be finishing up my Geometry unit by teaching volume.  We'll be finding the volume of a few rectangular prisms using food boxes.  I teach a surface area lab using this, but it will have to wait until after our assessment.  We just don't have enough time!

Next I'll be reviewing for our assessment using Task Cards.  I'm concentrating on Algebra and Ratios because those have the biggest emphasis for our test.  I'm using Algebra Multiple Choice Task Cards, Algebra Wacky Wordies, Ratio and Rate Multiple Choice Task Cards, and Wacky Wordies Ratios and Rates.  I'll be adding in Integers and Rational Number review after break.

Last, I'll be doing a little fun review practice with figurative language using my Spring Figurative Language Pack while we finish up our Biography Writing.
If you head over to my Facebook Page you can Pin It to Win It.  I'll be picking a winner a little later this afternoon when we get home from soccer.  Just like my page and follow the directions on the Pin It to Win It post.  If you are already following, did you know that Facebook may not be showing all of your liked pages anymore?  If you go to my page {COFFEE CUPS AND LESSON PLANS} and hover over the LIKED button a drop down menu appears where you can GET NOTIFICATIONS.  If you select this then you won't miss any posts.  I'm starting to do more flash freebie notifications there, so you don't want to miss out.  Plus you can ONLY enter the Pin It to Win It through Facebook.

Have an awesome week!  Get out and enjoy the sunshine!


Wordless Wednesday: Read Alouds

I'm linking up with Christina over at Sugar and Spice for Wordless Wednesday!

What book is a MUST READ with your class before the end of the school year?


Sparking Student Motivation with Reading Roll and Retell

This week as many of you know was our state ELA testing.  In our middle school after the testing is over, we still have all of our class periods.  I spent time in my ELA class watching The Lightning Thief because we are going to be writing an argument essay between the book and the movie.  Before we took our ELA test, I did some fun review that practiced citing text evidence using our novel.

Do you use Roll and Retell in your classroom?  I first saw the sheet on Pinterest,
I believe it is from Fun In First.  I loved the idea, but the questions were a little too basic for my Smarties in the sixth grade, so I created an upgraded version.  My students loved being able to sit in groups and play.  We did three different rounds using the myths we have been focusing on with our Lightning Thief books:  Promethius, Medusa and Athena, and then our novel.
I put a die in these cool containers that I had purchased from Staples in August.  I like using them because my dice don't go flying all over the room.
I increased the difficulty as we played, first asking them to cite one piece of evidence for each roll, and then as many as 3 pieces when we got into the novel.  I loved what I was hearing from groups!
They were talking, they were arguing their points, and they were enjoying group discussion.      I couldn't ask for anything better than that!  I'm linking up with one of my BBBs, Joanne over at Head Over Heels for Teaching to share this fun activity.  If you are interested in the Roll and Retell, you can get a copy of it {HERE}, it's free. 
Have a great weekend!

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