Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day Easter Eggs

This year, Earth Day and Easter fell so close together, that I decided to combine them for my class by making naturally died Easter eggs.  Here is what we did:

 

1.)  Cut old t-shirts into fabric scraps (REUSE)

Making easter eggs with natural dies from onion skins - great Earth Day and Easter link. Raki's Rad Resources

 

2.)  Collect natural items from the garden: leaves, grass, flowers etc.

3.)  Peel a few onions.  Place the onion peels on top of the fabric scraps.  Then add the natural items on top of the onion peels.

 Making easter eggs with natural dies from onion skins - great Earth Day and Easter link. Raki's Rad Resources

4.)  Add a RAW, WHITE egg to the pile.

Making easter eggs with natural dies from onion skins - great Earth Day and Easter link. Raki's Rad Resources

Making easter eggs with natural dies from onion skins - great Earth Day and Easter link. Raki's Rad Resources

5.)  Wrap the fabric up into a satchel and tie with a string or rubber band.

Making easter eggs with natural dies from onion skins - great Earth Day and Easter link. Raki's Rad Resources

6.)  Place the eggs into a pot, cover with water and boil for for 5 – 10 minutes.

 

Making easter eggs with natural dies from onion skins - great Earth Day and Easter link. Raki's Rad Resources

7.)  Remove from heat, drain water and cool.

8.)  When the eggs have cooled, remove the cloth.  Throw away or compost your onion peels, grass, leaves etc.  Keep the rags to use for cleaning.  Allow eggs to dry.

Making easter eggs with natural dies from onion skins - great Earth Day and Easter link. Raki's Rad Resources 

Making easter eggs with natural dies from onion skins - great Earth Day and Easter link. Raki's Rad Resources

 

The onion skins will die the eggs shades of brown.  Depending on the natural items your students choose, they may also get some green die from the plants or a variety of colors from flower petals.

Happy Earth Day!

Happy belated Easter!

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why Aren’t Students Teaching the Lesson?

We remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 40% of what we see and hear, 70% of what we discuss, 80% of what we experience, and 95% of what we teach.  Give students time to be the teacher - Raki's Rad Resources

I’ve seen this list go around for a long time.  When I think of my personal learning experiences, it makes sense.  When I am preparing to teach a lesson, I do far more research than if I am finding information for myself, because I want to be ready for unexpected questions.  In addition, as I am explaining things and making those connections for my students, I often feel myself connect what I am explaining to other things I know.  Unfortunately, my students don’t have identical background knowledge to me, so they are not making the same connections.  They won’t remember the lesson as well as I will.  Kind of stinks, since they are the intended audience, huh?

But, maybe we are thinking about this wrong.  Maybe students should be participating in our lessons, reading books, watching videos and having discussions, in order to gather information so that they will be ready to teach the class.  Then, they can make connections with their own background knowledge and cement the understanding into their own memories.

Students can “teach the class” in many ways.

1.  You can set aside real class time for them to take over class and be the teacher.

We remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 40% of what we see and hear, 70% of what we discuss, 80% of what we experience, and 95% of what we teach.  Give students time to be the teacher - Raki's Rad Resources 2.  They can create tutorial videos for their classmates.  My students publish theirs on YouTube to help out students around the world.  We use these sheets to help us plan our lessons.

3.  They can create “guide books” with words and illustrations on how to solve the problem or understand the concept.

4.  You can have a “peer tutoring” day where students take turns answering each other’s questions on a topic.

5.  They can create photo stories or blog posts to walk others through how to solve a problem or understand the concept.

 

If we make students the teachers, we don’t lose our role.  We still need to help students build their knowledge by creating engaging, experiential lessons; by leading engaging discussions; by suggesting ways to find answers to their questions; by guiding them through the process of developing their lesson or teaching materials.  If we make students the teachers, we give our students the chance to remember 95% of what they have been exposed to.

 

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Monday, April 7, 2014

What Constitutes Reading Well?

My son almost daily comes home with the homework “Bien lire pg. xxx”  (He attends school in French & Arabic here in Morocco.)  This basically means “read this page well”.  To his teacher, this means his fluency and pronunciation is correct when you read this page aloud to your parent and then have them sign your book.  After a year of fighting over it, he has learned that to Mommy, read well, means I can read it AND understand it.  In the beginning of the year, when I tried to ask comprehension questions from him I got so many complaints with the classic line “That’s not how my teacher does it!”  By now, I just get a classic eye roll while he answers my questions with a touch of attitude, but knowing that he won’t get my signature without his answer.

Use reading response questions to see if your students are understanding the books they should read for 20 to 30 minutes each night.  Reading logs available from Raki's Rad Resources. In my classroom, my students are required to do 30 minutes of reading each night – 15 minutes in English and 15 minutes in their home language.  (For my few who only read in English, they are simply required 30 minutes of English.)  Then, my students are required to respond on Edmodo about what they read.  The response question stays the same for 6 – 8 weeks, but does vary throughout the year so that students have a chance to respond using multiple comprehension strategies.  My students know from Day 1 that when Mrs. Raki says “read well” she means read for comprehension.

In the beginning of the year our reading response question was:  What did you read?  Who wrote it?  What pictures did you see in your head while you were reading it.  Use the sentence frame:  When I read about ____________  I saw ______________________ in my head.

Then we moved into: What did you read?  Who wrote it?  What do you think will happen next in the story?  If you finished the book, what would happen in a sequel?  Why do you think this?  Use the sentence frame: I predict ______ will happen because __________.

Next it was: What did you read?  Who wrote it?  What text connections can you make with the story?  Use the sentence frame:  When __________ happened, it reminded me of _________________________.

Most recently, it was:  What did you read?  Who wrote?  What inferences can you make?  Use the sentence frame:  I can infer that _______________________ happened even though the author didn’t tell me this because _____________.

Now, we are working on summaries and the response question is: What did you read? Who wrote it?  Summarize your work with: a who, what, where, when, why, how summary AND a sentence or two putting that information together. You MUST have both to receive full credit.

Here are a few of my students’ most recent responses:

Use reading response questions to see if your students are understanding the books they should read for 20 to 30 minutes each night.  Reading logs available from Raki's Rad Resources

Use reading response questions to see if your students are understanding the books they should read for 20 to 30 minutes each night.  Reading logs available from Raki's Rad Resources 

Use reading response questions to see if your students are understanding the books they should read for 20 to 30 minutes each night.  Reading logs available from Raki's Rad Resources

My students’ responses shows me that they have “read well”.  They also get a chance to read each other’s responses and often choose to respond to each other on Edmodo.   Use reading response questions to see if your students are understanding the books they should read for 20 to 30 minutes each night.  Reading logs available from Raki's Rad Resources

Before I used Edmodo, I always used reading logs that required more than the date and author, like these:Use reading response questions to see if your students are understanding the books they should read for 20 to 30 minutes each night.  Reading logs available from Raki's Rad Resources

Use reading response questions to see if your students are understanding the books they should read for 20 to 30 minutes each night.  Reading logs available from Raki's Rad Resources

Use reading response questions to see if your students are understanding the books they should read for 20 to 30 minutes each night.  Reading logs available from Raki's Rad Resources    Use reading response questions to see if your students are understanding the books they should read for 20 to 30 minutes each night.  Reading logs available from Raki's Rad Resources

How do you track whether your students “read well” at home?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Sunday, April 6, 2014

This Week’s Lesson Plans: April 7th – April 11th

I have been home for the past two weeks, recovering from hernia surgery.  Luckily, I have an amazing team teacher who has been taking care of my kiddos.  However, on Monday, I go back to my little sweeties.  Here is what I have planned:

Differentiated lesson plans - Raki's Rad Resources

 Every morning, my students come in and work on their nursery rhyme – this week is Sing a Song of Six Pence.  Then they work on their differentiated vocabulary packets.  This week, we will all be working on the ESL Vocabulary Packet on Adjectives.  Hopefully, this will help them remember to add more interesting adjectives to their writing. After they finish their vocabulary, my students will work on their math textbook pages or their writing assignments.

Meanwhile, I pull reading groups.  Some of my students are still working on Reading A-Z books, but my Mister and Me group finished the book just before I left.  While I was gone, this group created an iMovie trailer pretending that the book was made into a movie.  This week, we will review their movie and tests, do a fluency check.  Then, we will begin working on Frindle.  My other group has been independently work on the Ice Wreck novel study, so we will spend this week reviewing their work and then begin the process of creating an iMovie trailer.

Differentiated lesson plans - Raki's Rad Resources

After snack and recess, my students each take a one minute math quiz – differentiated among 7 levels.  Next, my students work on their calendar books and their daily math. 

This week, all of my students will be preparing for their comprehensive trimester test by completing review sheets.  On Monday, we will also add our Math Idiom:  Two Peas in a Pod.   

This week, we will be reviewing the different ways to subtract long numbers and the different ways to add and subtract decimals. On Wednesday, and Thursday, we will jump into our new science unit: The Dry Desert.  While I was gone, the students watched 4 different videos on the desert and completed graphic organizers to reflect on what they learned.  They watched The Magic School Bus: Dries Needs of a plant experiment - free student printableUp, BBC Planet Earth: Deserts, Polar Biomes and the Attacama Desert Explained.  So, we will take some time to review what the students learned, as well as to label a World Map with the location of deserts around the world.

  Next, we will look at plants and how they meet their needs.  I will break the class into 4 groups and each group will experiment with one of the needs of plants: soil, air, water or light.  We will use this sheet to plan our experiment and record our data.  Feel free to download the sheet for free from Google Docs.

Finally, on Friday, we will take some much needed work time on our Math Tutorial Videos, which will be added to our Online Portfolios soon.

In the afternoons, my partner teacher works on Writing and Social Studies.  This week students are finishing up creating travel brochures. In Social Studies, the students have just started to learn about Ancient Egypt. During this time, I work with a small group of first year ESL students, to give them extra support. 

Homework in my class is all assigned via Edmodo.  Monday and Wednesday’s math video links can be found on my collaborative math video Google Doc, which is always available to my students if they need to re-watch a video they have already seen.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into my plans for the week.  What’s on your plans this week?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Friday, April 4, 2014

Using Portfolios at Every Level

This year I am the luckiest teacher in the world. I get to teach at the best school ever – International School of Morocco, with some of the best, most creative, teachers ever. Each time I walk into someone else’s classroom, I get inspired and we just seem to spiral great teaching ideas off of each other. It’s a wonderful place to teach, and since we are all collaborating, it’s a wonderful place for our kids to learn – a teacher’s dream, right? I have tried and tried to convince the other teachers to create blogs of their own tismspotlighto spotlight and share some of their amazing ideas, but everyone is super busy. Instead, they have each agreed to let me spotlight some of their ideas right here on Raki’s Rad Resources. So, each Friday night, I will be posting an ISM Spotlight.

Online porfolios can showcase progress, allow for reflection, build from year to year, be used for student-led conferences, be suread with family around the world, be sent on to a new school or teacher.  Are you using online portfolios with your class?  If not, try this simple how to packet from Raki's Rad Resources

This week marks the start of the third and final trimester of the school year.  In most schools, this is the time people start to think and worry about portfolios.  However, at the International School of Morocco, we have been talking about portfolios since the beginning of the year, both for students and for teachers.  Portfolios show learning as what it really is, a long process that develops slowly over the course of time, rather than being a snapshot of a single moment of understanding on a single day, as tests are.  Portfolios can and should be used all all learning levels – child and adult.  In addition to being a place to showcase learning, they are a place and time for the learner and educator to reflect on the growth that has happened.

online teacher portfolio using WeeblyEach teacher at ISM has been slowly building their own teacher portfolios using Weebly, the website we also use to update our parents on school and class announcements.  I have completed my portfolio this week and am ready to e-mail it in to be used as part of my teacher evaluation.  The process of going back through pictures and projects I have done with my students was wonderful for me. I was able to reflect and see how I have grown as a teacher over these past few years.

Online porfolios can showcase progress, allow for reflection, build from year to year, be used for student-led conferences, be suread with family around the world, be sent on to a new school or teacher.  Are you using online portfolios with your class?  If not, try this simple how to packet from Raki's Rad ResourcesDuring the process of building my portfolio in Weebly, I realized that this program would be just as good as LiveBinders for creating student portfolios as well.  So, I created a student tutorial sheet to add to my Online Student Portfolios Packet

Since many of the Year 3 – Year 6 students have already begun their portfolios in LiveBinders, we will be using LiveBinders again this year.  The students who already began their portfolios will add a new tab and subtabs, and the students who are new to the school will start from scratch.  (To see how last year’s portfolios turned out, check out this post from last year.)  Although we will wait about 2 more weeks before we begin the official brainstorming process, we have been discussing with students all year long which projects they would like to include in Online porfolios can showcase progress, allow for reflection, build from year to year, be used for student-led conferences, be suread with family around the world, be sent on to a new school or teacher.  Are you using online portfolios with your class?  If not, try this simple how to packet from Raki's Rad Resourcestheir portfolios.  Most students want to add their Heat Inquiry Videos and have created multiple Math Tutorial Videos that they are excited to add.  I am most excited for the students who began their portfolios last year to open up their portfolios and see how much their work has grown since last year’s entries.

The teacher for Year 1 and Year 2, Courtney Nassar, has been building her portfolios all year long by taking dated pictures of her student’s work on her iPad.  She labels each picture with her student’s name and at the end of the year is able to sort the students’ work by their name and create a virtual portfolio to share with the parents.

In Nursery and Reception, the teachers have been saving key pieces of artwork, self portraits and handwriting all years, being sure to date each piece.  At the end of the year, they will sort through the pieces with the students to choose which ones belong in the students’ portfolios.

How important are portfolios at your school?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Five Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom

Five ways to use QR codes in the classroom - by Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

 

Has anyone seen these lovely QR codes sneaking up on teaching resources everywhere?  How can they be used?  How do they help students?  And how do we make them? Today I’ve set out to give you the down and dirty.blog qr code

QR codes are like hyperlinks for your smart phone or tablet.  To use a QR Code, you download a QR Code Scanner app onto your phone or tablet.  The app uses the built in camera to scan the code and then take you to the designated website, just like when you click on a hyperlink it takes you to a specific website.

So, in order to use QR codes in your classroom, your students have to have access to a phone or tablet.  My students use one of the 5 iPads we have in our classroom, but I have heard of many schools where students BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and scan the QR codes with their smart phones or personal tablets.

QR codes can be used to aid in research, as an answer key or simply as an easy technology center.  Here are some suggestions for how you can use QR codes in your classroom:

Five ways to use QR codes in the classroom - by Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources - Heat Internet Scavenger Hunt 1.)  Make internet research easier for your students by giving them QR codes to websites that might help them find the correct information.  I have added QR codes to the Internet Scavenger Hunts that my students have completed this year and it has made the whole process so much easier!  I print out the list of questions as well as their QR codes.  The students scan the codes to take them to the websites where they read, watch videos, play games, or generally search for their answers.  It prevents me from having to link up websites to Edmodo, gives them quality sources that they might not find on a Google search and prevents them from having to toggle between too many screens on the iPads.  I like the process so much that I am slowly going back through all of my Internet Scavenger Hunts to add QR code pages.

 

Five ways to use QR codes in the classroom - by Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources - Problem Solving Path Poster 2.)  Post the answers online and let students use QR codes to check their work.  When my students are doing their Problem Solving Path problems, they are allowed to check their work by scanning the QR codes on the posters.  These QR codes take them to a site I have created with the answers.  This allows them to check their own work, rather than running to me to be checked repeatedly.  If they find they have gotten the wrong answer, they are given the opportunity to go back and fix their work.  Again, this can be done independently, causing students to have more control over their learning, and preventing a management issue. (Disclaimer:  Be sure to have all of the answer keys posted before starting this process.  I have fallen behind on posting the answers and boy do the kids get mad if they can’t check their work because Mrs. Raki is behind!)

 

3.)  Differentiate your technology center by posting different QR codes for different groups.  Since all of the QR codes will look the same, students will never know who is being asked to visit what site, making it very easy for you to give easier sites to students who struggle and difficult sites to students who need a challenge.  I often have specific sites QR coded for skills that I need certain students to work on.  Then, I can hand them the QR code they need and they can go to work.

 

Five ways to use QR codes in the classroom - by Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources - Hallway Display4.)  Share students’ online projects by posting QR codes in the hallway.  I have long struggled with how to “showcase” all of the  online work that my students do, creating videos, Prezis,, LiveBinders, and more.  Recently, I decided to create little posters with a screenshot of their work and a QR code and hang them in the hallway.  This enabled me to easily share students’ work with parents and visitors who often have a smart phone with a QR code reader in their back pocket.  Additionally, the other classes have brought their iPads out in the hall to scan our codes and see what we’ve been working on.  So, we have brought about collaboration and prevented the need for scheduling a “showing”.

 

5.)  Make a grab bag of QR codes.  Push your students to try new presentation methods by making a QR code grab bag.  When given a choice, my students all want to present their information the same way – generally using whatever the newest presentation method is, currently they are stuck on Powtoon.  To get my kids out of a rut, I will create QR codes for 4 or 5 different presentation sites – Prezi, LiveBinders, Powtoon, Weebly, Animoto etc and mix the QR codes together in a bag. Then each student or group of students will grab a QR code and scan it.  Whichever site they find is the site they need to use to create their presentations.

 

QR code generator Now, for our final question – how do you create QR codes?  Well, there are many free QR code generator sites out there, including  http://qrcode.kaywa.com/ and http://goqr.me/.  You simply find the link that you want to link to – be sure it is the exact place you want your students to land.  Copy this link, paste it into the generator and hit submit.  The generator will then create a code that you can either download or print screen and voila, you have a QR code image.  Simple, easy, interactive and makes differentiation fun.

How do you use QR codes in your classroom?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

 

For more ways to use iPads in the classroom, click on the banner below.

ipad apps for your classroom

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

ESL Students May Never Have Heard of Your Holidays

As a teacher at an International School, many of my students are English Language Learners. Even my native English speakers are living in a non-English speaking country. Due to my unique teaching position, I have had some readers ask for tips on teaching English Language Learners. Here is this week’s Tuesday TESOL Teaching Tip:
 
ESL Teaching Tip: Teach the holidays of the English Speaking World in order to help students to build their common cultural knowledge and increase their reading comprehension - Raki's Rad Resources
 
 
ELL Teaching Tip of the Week: Teach Holidays of the English Speaking World

Generally, I’m not a teacher who “teaches the holidays”.  For most of my career, I have been an upper elementary (3rd grade or up) teacher and have never spent a lot of time on holidays.  For a long time, the most I even integrated holidays into my classroom was through my Holiday Shopping Math Project.  However, teaching in a country where students not only do not speak English, but also do not celebrate the holidays generally celebrated in the “English Speaking World”, I have realized the importance of teaching these holidays for our ESL population.  For these holidays are referenced in so many stories, movies and other pieces of the curriculum.  These holidays are seen as “general knowledge” and so they are often referred to in things like math word problems and daily language activities.  Since, I don’t want my students’ to be unable to understand these “general knowledge” types of questions, I am now sure to include vocabulary and discussions about holidays in my lessons.

When I teach holidays, I do so with the utmost respect for the holidays celebrated by the children I teach.  (I also try to spend some time on these holidays as they come up – find my free center packet on Muslim Holidays if you want a simple way to introduce your students to some holidays from the “Non-English Speaking World”.)  I stress to my students that there are many reasons for ESL students to learn about the holidays for the “English Speaking World”, including understanding other cultures and truly understanding the language they are studying, but that celebrating a holiday with those who celebrate it does not have to change your own cultural beliefs.

Now, we all have tons to teach already, so what are some quick and easy ways to fit in these lessons, without planning a whole unit on holidays?

1.)  Use holiday stories during read aloud around the time that these holidays occur. 

This year, my class read The Christmas Carol and The Grinch, both of which have become a huge part of common culture regarding Christmas.  Then, we created some fabulous Venn Diagrams to analyze the main characters of each book.  Tada – literary analysis, building background knowledge and common culture all in one fail swoop.

2.)  Integrate holiday vocabulary.

In the winter, we do a Winter Holiday Vocabulary Packet, which talks about Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza and  Diwali (yes, India is a part of the English speaking world).  Last week, we did our Spring Holiday Vocabulary packet, and reviewed the holidays of Easter, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Earth Day.

ESL Teaching Tip: Teach the holidays of the English Speaking World in order to help students to build their common cultural knowledge and increase their reading comprehension - Raki's Rad Resource - Christmas Vocabulary   ESL Teaching Tip: Teach the holidays of the English Speaking World in order to help students to build their common cultural knowledge and increase their reading comprehension - Raki's Rad Resource - Easter Vocabulary

3.)  Use the teachable moment.

Seek out those places in our curriculum where this type of knowledge is needed.  Use those word problems or those daily language activities on purpose, but plan to take some class time to talk about why Thanksgiving:Thursday::Easter:Sunday.  Be aware of which problems are going to trip your kids up and have an explanation – or possibly a video, photograph or memorabilia to share with them in order to help them understand these things.

4.)  If the holiday falls during teaching time – celebrate!

Celebrations don’t have to be big, but take the time to play April’s Fool’s jokes on your kids, dye Easter eggs with them, or exchange Valentines.  We all know that we remember things better when we experience them, and we have to remember that our students may only experience these celebrations with us, so why not make the most of it?


Successful Strategies for English Language Learners by Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad ResourcesDo you enjoy the weekly TESOL Teaching Tips? Would you like to view an hour long presentation on this topic? I recently presented on Strategies for Teaching English Language Learners at the Everything’s Intermediate Expo. Now you can grab the presentation for just $3.95 from Teacher’s Notebook.


Tips for teaching ESL students - from Raki's Rad Resources Find more TESOL Teaching Tips here, and come back every Tuesday for a new tip!
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