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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Wednesday Weekly 5 Under $5 - 4/18/18

Every week I put together a list of 5 great products from members of The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative (TBOTEMC) with the requirement that each product must be less than $5.  With a variety of subjects and a wide range of grades, there just might be something that you can use, so continue to read below and see!

In addition, if you're a seller on Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) that would like to get more information about joining TBOTEMC, click here.  Free free to e-mail me with any questions, as I'd be happy to help in any way possible.


By Reading Spotlight
Reading / Earth Day; Grades 2-6


Inspiring! Easy to Use! No memorization! Designed to be read over a school’s PA system, these statements contain good ideas for kids to appreciate and improve the environment. Easily adapted to different reading abilities, this script provides a boost of confidence for beginning or struggling readers, too.  


By Believe to Achieve by Anne Rozell
Math; Grades 2-6


Your students will LOVE these multiplication and division charts. The charts in color would be great to laminate for student binders or have a class set ready to pass out as needed. Or you could copy the black and white versions of the charts to put in student binders to take from home to school to practice. 


By Spatial Projects
ELA/Science; Grades 1-3



Check out this All About the Human Brain packet! It has everything you need for an interactive nonfiction unit in your classroom. It includes brain craft pattern, nonfiction unit booklet, lap book, worksheets, answer key, graphic organizers, and writing activities.


Basic Operations / Science; Grades 6-12


You have to see this creative and fun way to apply math skills to traditional math skills. Work well for both forensic science teachers and math teachers.


By Mickey's Place
ELA; Grades 2-4


Alphabetical Order Using The Second Letter in Words provides a way for students to practice this skill using a fun format using trains. Sets increase in difficulty, from arranging three cars in a group to sorting six word cars into a group for a total of 32 sets. Skills Practiced: alphabetical order, reading, sequencing, vocabulary.



Other WW5U5 Team Members on TpT to Visit:
Learning Harbor Resources for Teachers
A Teacher's Teacher
Primary Learning
Doodles and Kreations

As always, I encourage comments below and any ideas or suggestions by tweeting me @ATeachersTeach or contact me via e-mail.
A Teacher's Teacher

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Classcraft Cards to Enhance Gamification

Have you ever thought about gamification in your classroom?  The idea of using a game-based approach to classroom management, motivation, and incentivized learning has been a treading topic within education and EdTech, especially over the last 3 or 4 years.  I'm the first to admit that I was "late to the party," but better late than never, I suppose, and I'm glad that I gave gamified-learning a chance.

Within gamified education circles, there's no doubt that Classcraft is one of the giants.  The Canadian-based website started by a former classroom teacher has quickly built its reputation in EdTech circles by offering a role-play RPG framework of gamification that can be utilized within any type of classroom subject area.  There are teachers of art, religion, social studies, foreign language, math, and any other subject area imaginable using Classcraft across the globe.  If you are looking for a place to start exploring how gamification might work in your own classroom, I encourage you to start with Classcraft.


Of course, if you're reading this post, you're likely already using Classcraft in your own classroom, since it's a blog about how to supplement the already-amazing experience the Classcraft has to offer.  While I just started using the website in January, and I admit there are plenty of things I still have to learn, I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to have an additional way to channel creativity and flexibility while continually growing motivation and interest in classroom activities and the structure of Classcraft as a whole.  Within my own educational community online, mostly through Twitter, I came across an account called "Age of Heroes Game Feed" (@MrH_AOH).  With little effort, I tracked down the teacher behind the supplemental approach to Classcraft, Jason Howse (@MrHExperience) and found out a little more information about his Age of Heroes approach to gamification in his own room.  The part that stuck out the most to me was the use of collectable cards which grant powers or abilities otherwise-not-available through the already-determined Classcraft powers.  As an adult that admits to playing Magic the Gathering (MtG) growing up, I instantly recognized for the format of Jason's cards as being that of MtG, and he let me know about MtGCardsmith.com, a website allowing for the creation of custom MtG cards.

I was hooked from the moment of creating my first card.  The creativity aspects of things were limitless and I had a good feeling that these cards were the aspect that would add that little "extra" element to each of my class's Classcraft gameplay.  In addition to the abilities and fun aspects of that the cards added to the game, I also made each cards have a "level," requiring the student using the card to not only have the GP (or GP + AP) to "cast" the card, but also to be of a certain level to do so.  This was done with the goal of motivating students to want to gain XP and level up, if they weren't already actively trying to do so.  I started by first introducing the cards and providing them, at random, as incentives for doing well and by adding a random event in Classcraft to win them as well, calling it "Play the Hand You're Dealt" (1 random remember of each class - warrior, mage, and healer - wins a random Classcraft Card).  When that didn't seem like enough incentive, I followed a similar approach to Jason's AOH game, opening a Classcraft Card store.  Each week I offer up 3 cards following a basic rule of having more quantities of common cards than uncommon or rare cards available for each class.  In addition, the cost to purchase (separate from their casting cost, labeled as "card cost") is higher for rare cards than it is for uncommon or common.  The posting/handout used for this store is shown below.


Classcraft Card Purchasing Rules (document link in Google Drive)

Classcraft Cards range from giving the ability to exclude or redo questions on classwork or assessments to random ways of using dice and playing cards to earn additional XP or GP.  There are also ways of preventing damage, using helpful notes on assessments, and even creating your own "dream team" within Classcraft (an idea I admit to stealing from Jason Howse after seeing it within his own MtGCardsmith collection of created cards).  An example of two cards available this week are provided below. 

A small sampling of Classcraft Cards used with my classroom game.

While the period of time during which I have been using these supplemental cards with my own Classcraft game is still very short, I have seen a growth in interest from students.  I, too, have become even more excited about the use of Classcraft with my students.  In that way, it's been a win-win scenario.  It might not be the best fit for your own classroom, and I am aware of that fact.  Actually, one of the reasons that I am a Classcraft Ambassador is because the game can be framed and used however it fits best for your own courses and your students.  The use of Classcraft Cards, or deciding not to use a similar idea, is no different!

As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments.  I'm always interested in hearing about the great things my fellow educators are doing!  For more ideas regarding education in general and often EdTech specifically, I encourage you to follow me on Twitter (@ATeachersTeach) and Instagram (@ATeachersTeacher) and to like my facebook page.

-Charlie
(A Teacher's Teacher)

Wednesday Weekly 5 Under $5 - 4/11/18

Every week I put together a list of 5 great products from members of The Best of Teacher Entrepreneurs Marketing Cooperative (TBOTEMC) with the requirement that each product must be less than $5.  With a variety of subjects and a wide range of grades, there just might be something that you can use, so continue to read below and see!

In addition, if you're a seller on Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) that would like to get more information about joining TBOTEMC, click here.  Free free to e-mail me with any questions, as I'd be happy to help in any way possible.


By MrsQuimbyReads
ELA; Grades 2-4


This teaching resource was created by me to provide students with an engaging way to respond to their reading. This is a trifold brochure to create, write and make about a book. You can use this trifold with ANY book. I included an example trifold on Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary, that you may wish to share with your students to see the expectations of this assignment.  


By A Teacher's Teacher
ELA/Writing; Grades 7-10



This four-passage text set is accompanied by an informational prompt regarding the topic of global warming. It's a great assignment to engage students and help them work on the skill of finding and citing information from the text provided, rather than relying on their own prior knowledge or feelings about the given topic. Modeled after AIR Testing, which is used in numerous states across the country, it would also fit well into a PARCC simulation. The text set, itself, is 5 pages long. 


By All About STEM
Spring / Earth Day; Grades K-5



Spring offers loads of ways to connect with science, math and other STEM curriculum. Here are 7 challenges to engage your scientists all season long!


Spanish/Science; Grades PreK-3


Get your students ready for summer with these Spanish Mini Guided Readers. Five mini readers have a living theme. Five mini readers have a nonliving theme. These mini readers help students learn to read while having them classify living and nonliving things.


By Primary Learning
Speech Therapy / ESL; Grades PreK-1


These Vocabulary Building Activities provide opportunities for Pre-K (preschool), Kindergarten, and Grade One children to practice identifying and naming items that can be found, and activities that people do, in the spring season. Teach. Play. Learn! Have fun!



Other WW5U5 Team Members on TpT to Visit:
Learning Harbor Resources for Teachers
Believe to Achieve by Anne Rozell
Mickey's Place
Activities to Teach

As always, I encourage comments below and any ideas or suggestions by tweeting me @ATeachersTeach or contact me via e-mail.
A Teacher's Teacher

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Why Every Teacher Should Do Some Type of Yard Work (and it has nothing to do with beautiful landscaping)


Okay, it's not the title to a typical education-targeted blog. But, that's kind of the idea, right? Well, if you're the curious type of teacher that has decided to continue to read, then you're just who I'm looking for.

So, on to the yard work idea. It was about five years ago when my wife and I were working on fixing up our current house. We had just purchased a ranch with a terrific yard (especially for a property in the municipal limits), but it also hadn't been updated for over 25 years! That meant wall paper and pink paint inside. It also meant terribly overgrown flower beds (and randomly-placed raised flowerbeds, equally not kept up) all around the house. Now, I'm not sure about your background with this type of work, but I came in with no experience, and quickly learned it was time consuming work that required a lot of patience.

This is the point where any teacher could make the comparison of the before-mentioned yard work to our jobs; however, stating such a unremarkable "epiphany" is unnecessary. Rather, I tell this story because it was my first experience with clear-minded planning time. All those hours working on the thistle-invested flowerbeds around my new house allowed my wife and I a chance to talk about everything under the sun (often times, literally), but they also allowed for quiet time, which allowed my mind to wander and me to think up great ideas for my classroom and lessons. One such idea was a novel project menu. The idea was basic: set things up with three appetizer options - smaller projects worth fewer points - from which students had to choose. Follow those options up with a few larger, more-significant project options from which to choose, and finish off with a few smaller projects for desserts. I had done a similar options-based approach for independent reading in the past with tic-tac-toe book projects, and I still like those as an option. However, having the time to clear my mind and let he creativity run wild, all while pulling countless weeds out of flowerbeds, was a great "recipe" for success in this case.

Novel Project Menu - A yard work moment of creativity

Of course, not every teacher is "lucky" enough to buy a fixer-upper, and even if you are, eventually the big renovations will be complete. That has been the case for me, but I have still found time working around the yard beneficial - especially while on breaks or even three-day weekends. For example, the concept for my during-reading assignment that works for any novel, which I have called Flip Slips
 came from a period of mowing my yard and a stretch of the field behind my property. And, despite the title of this blog, the work doesn't have to be landscaping-related. The use of something I refer to as a Weekly Google Check-in (a simple three-question form with a multiple-choice question, a rating question, and a non-curriculum personality short-answer question) came about during a full-house dusting episode.

Flip Slips - An idea that came while mowing the yard

As you can see, what I'm really advocating is for all teachers to find some time throughout the year, and especially the summer, to clear their minds and let them wander a bit. For me, that time has best been found when doing some basic rote task like mowing the grass, pulling weeds, or dusting furniture. For others, it might be knitting or reorganizing storage areas. Whatever is the case, don't limit your ideas; you just might find that some of your best lessons and teaching ideas come from momentary nuggets of contemplation such as these.

As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts and feedback, including any experiences you've had with clearing your mind and having great teaching ideas come the surface. Until next time, keep doing the wonderful job in your classroom that I know you are doing!

-A Teacher's Teacher
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