Monday, August 27, 2012

Get Caught in the NETS!

Teachers Pay Teachers Storefront: Anna Colley  

Technology has the potential to change the way we teach and engage students. However, if teachers focus only on rudimentary skills, such as basic keyboarding and creating simple PowerPoints, students will not experience the full benefits of technology. The International Society for Technology in Education is prepared to help teachers move their technology-enhanced lessons to the next level with NETS: National Educational Technology Standards. Think of these standards as the common core for technology skills. They outline what students should be able to do with technology and what skills should be reinforced in classrooms. The standards also help educators benchmark themselves when using technology. Below is a brief rundown of the NETS for Students, called NETS-S.

Make It! Creativity and Innovation

Students use technology to generate new ideas, create products, use models and simulations, and identify trends. Younger students might create a habitat for an imaginary animal using the Kerpoof ( website and then write how the animal is suited to that habitat. Older students might create a simulated business that includes a product idea, web page, and sales brochure then run a simulation ( to show how they can turn their acquired skills into business success.

Share It! Communication and Collaboration

Students effectively communicate and collaborate with peers and experts using varieties of means, such as presentations for varied audiences, and they become familiar with other cultures by engaging with learners from around the world. Younger students might get to experience an author visit via Skype. Older students might give presentations showing what they’ve learned to students in other parts of the world by using a platform such as Blackboard or EdModo and incorporating video, photos, audio, screen sharing, and prepared slides.

Find It! Research and Information Fluency

Students gather, analyze, and act upon information compiled through the use of technology. Pre-K through first grade students may use a site such as PebbleGo to research an animal and then report their findings to their classmates using VoiceThread. Upper and middle grades students might gather data on a local problem, such as community pollution, and then make proposals for how to alleviate the problem. Teachers might arrange for students to present their findings to local government officials. For free lesson plans and materials, check local or county government websites. An example is the Gwinnett County Water Resources divisions.   

Solve It! Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

Students identify problems, conduct research, and manage projects. This standard is closely linked to the others listed above. For instance, the local pollution project would require students to use critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making throughout the process.

Protect It! Digital Citizenship

Students learn what it means to be a responsible digital citizen, which includes online safety, ethical and legal use of technology, and leadership skills. NetSmartz Workshop is a great resource for teaching kids about being good digital citizens. It features sections for teens, tweens, and younger children.

Use It! Technology Operations and Concepts

Listed here are basic skills that used to make up the core of technology education. Young students learn usage of the mouse, keyboards, and basic operating systems, as well as application navigations and tools. Older students learn more advanced features of popular programs, like Microsoft Office, along with more specialized applications, like Adobe Photoshop.

Where Can Teachers Learn More about NETS? 

There are lots of great teaching ideas for implementing NETS-S on the ISTE NETS-S web page. Another excellent source is the NETS-S Wiki. Also, check out NETS for administrators, coaches, computer science educators, and teachers, along with the Technology Integration Matrix to check your ranking as a technology educator.

Related Teachers Pay Teachers Products: 

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Featured Teacher: Laurah Jurca

            1. What is your most memorable field trip experience?

I've always worked in Title 1 schools since I started teaching, so in four years I've only been on one field trip, so I guess it wins by default! The ESOL staff took our 3rd-5th grade ESOL students to the Newseum here in DC.

         2. What is something you have learned from your time on Teachers Pay Teachers?

This is really difficult, because I've learned so much, that picking one thing is difficult. I guess it would be the importance of collaboration, even digitally. I've "met" and "talked" to so many great teachers that I would not have met in "real life", been exposed to some amazing energy, ideas and creativity, and that hs inspired me to do more and be more for my own students.

         3. What book inspired you as a student?

I read so many that I can't really say there is one particular book that inspired me. I collected and read as many books as I could get my parents to buy me!

4. What is something you would like to see in the future, for education?

This may be a "duh", but I would like to see the standardized testing scrapped. I think we need to go back to the basics when it comes to education, and put educators in positions to make educational policy, rather than politicians. Only then will education in our country start to change.

         5. What is something fun about you that teachers don't know about you?

None of the teachers at my school know that I do historical reenactment. To be specific, my hubby and I participate in reenacting Iron-Age Celts.

         6. What is an achievement, in education or otherwise, that you have accomplished?

Completing my Master of Science degree by age 22! (Go Vols!)

Also, I'm only in my fourth year of teaching, but I have been invited to S. Korea twice to help conduct teacher trainings for Korean public school teachers on Content Based English Instruction.

         7. What was your first 'Free' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you choose that?

My first freebie was the 3-2-1 Strategy Guide. I chose that because I think it is an excellent strategy to help students focus on what they are reading.

8. What was your first 'Paid' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers? What made you choose that?        

My first paid product was my "Get to know your dictionary" PowerPoint presentation. I chose that because so many teachers need good resources for dictionary skills. For my ELLs, dictionary skills is especially important, and can be confusing, so I created a very clear PowerPoint with lots of practice. I thought other teachers might appreciate it.

9.  Your favorite teaching quote is...   

A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.  ~Horace Mann

10. What is your 'Go To' time filler?                                                                          
I never have extra time to fill in class. I teach ESOL, and I already don't get to see them often enough, so every minute we're together is crammed with language learning & practice.              

By Laurah Jurca

Laurah's Prized Products

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Look: Elsie-Adventures of an Arizona Schoolteacher by Barbara Anne Waite

By: Barbara Anne Waite
Review by: Holly Weiss

Recommended for: High School to Adult

"Well there was this cowboy..." corrals your attention on the first page of Elsie: Adventures of an Arizona Schoolteacher. Writing a biography requires not just a talented author, but also a compelling subject. Barbara Anne Waite's book about three years in her grandmother's life have both. Published to coincide with Arizona's centennial, the book discloses the social and economic climate during the early 20th century. It captures Elsie's sense of adventure, optimism and self-assurance. The reader is quickly absorbed in the story.

Cultured, college-educated Elsie, who hails from a well-to-do California family, sets out in 1913 for her first job in an isolated, rural town. We learn from letters to her family how she adapts to teaching grammar school in a one-room schoolhouse and comes to love Arizona. She bathes in Oak Creek, rides horses, and revels in her students. Ever the social butterfly, she quickly makes friends. She falls in love and suffers personal tragedy. Taking the challenge of teaching seriously, she soon works her way up to larger schools and high school classes. She is a no-nonsense woman full of pluck and resourcefulness.

A year after her grandmother's death, the author found her diary. "I loved and still love Arizona," Elsie says of her three years there. Waite clearly "gets" her grandmother and portrays her life and emotions clearly. Waite's website states that her research consisted of not only Elsie's letters and diaries, but also personal narratives on cassette tapes, manuscripts, interviews with her former students, and newspaper accounts.

Biographies are often so overloaded with detail that the reader flips pages to find the interesting parts. Not so with this highly readable book. Elsie's letters are fascinating. They are interspersed with photographs, illustrations, diary excerpts and author explanations. Footnotes bolster the historical context.

Elsie lives and breathes books and words. She inspired her students to love literature. You will cheer this unique, fascinating individual.

Highly recommended.

Barbara Anne Waite's website

Monday, August 20, 2012

Homeschooling in Morocco

by Heidi Raki  
TPT Storefront: Heidi Raki 

In June 2011, my husband and I moved our family to Morocco. We wanted to give our sons, ages eight, four, and one, a chance to experience their father's native culture. Also, we wanted our children to have opportunities to learn and speak Arabic and French, languages taught in Moroccan schools. Yet, we worried about the kids developing their English skills while overseas, so we chose to homeschool part-time. 

The children learned a lot in Moroccan schools, but it was soon apparent they didn't always transfer foreign knowledge into English concepts unless pointed out to them. This was particularly true with our four-year-old, who knew the days of the week in Arabic and French but struggled with them in English. In addition, both boys failed to increase their English vocabularies unless prompted.

After a year in Morocco as a homeschooling parent, I discovered a great deal about my children and how they learned. For example, my eight-year-old was a receptive/visual learner. He learned best by reading books and watching movies. He was content getting information through books and websites. Also, he loved facts, and he stored them in his memory bank to be recalled when needed. The four-year-old, on the other hand, was a hands-on learner. He needed to immediately use knowledge gained, whether it applied to playing games or to real life scenarios. He loved to learn via art projects, computer games, cooking projects, or puzzles. He remembered events and ideas but did not recall specific facts unless they related to something of importance to him. It remained to be seen what learning styles the one-year-old developed over time. 

Some of the resources used were:
                 Lower Elementary Grades (ie. eight-year-old):
                                Narrative Writing Journal 
                                Mister and Me Packet 
                                Reading Response Journal 
                 Early Childhood (ie. four-year-old):
                               Primary Narrative Writing Journal 
                               Word Family Making Words Center 
                               Word Family Self Correcting Puzzles  
My kids were wonderful examples that no two children learned the same and that learning took place continuously. Whether homeschooled or in traditional classrooms, I realized there must be consistency in teaching and learning. If they missed a day or two of English lessons, they wanted to discontinue their classes. Therefore, it fell upon my shoulders to be consistent and teach two hours of English and along with their French-Arabic lessons on alternating days. After summer break when school began, the hours decreased to one per day. Even though this was little time, the children connected the knowledge learned in Moroccan schools to English words and concepts. 

Through homeschooling, nothing got lost during translations. The children connected two diverse cultures, and they enriched their learning experiences. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tournaments + Fun = High Student Achievement

by Victoria Leon

Teachers Pay Teachers Storefront: Victoria Leon  

Students learn better when they are having fun! Help students review for tests by using the 12 tournaments found in Test Prep Tournaments For Any Grade and Any Subject.   

Begin with FREE Test Prep Tournament - A, B, C, D Cards, where students work in teams to answer questions provided by teachers. Multiple choice test questions can be obtained from previous district or state tests, old textbooks, test prep booklets, or self-made tests. 

For example, each team is given the problem:

       What is the sum of 856 and 39?
A)  8,815
B)  817
C)  895
D)  823

Teams are given three minutes to solve the multiple choice question. Then, the captain of each team holds up a card with A, B, C, or D posted on it. Teams with the correct answer are given the chance to earn additional points by answering bonus questions:

What is a sum?
Which numbers do I need to add first?
What is 6 + 9?
Where do I put the 15?

Teams are awarded one point for correct responses. Difficult questions that are incorrectly answered are worth two points, three points, or four points. 
Using this method, students do better on state standardized tests because concepts are taught first then “tricks” are added. To get students ready for a chapter, district, or state test, have students take a Review Test. It has questions similar to the actual test. Students have fun working in teams to win the tournament while also reviewing skills for an upcoming test. Let students retake the Review Test then record the higher of the two grades in the grade book. Afterwards, students are well-prepared to take the actual test. 

To reinforce concepts, make sure students have varieties of tournaments to choose from. For example, spelling words and vocabulary definitions may be reviewed using Tic-Tac-Toe or baseball game boards. Historical events and facts are easily memorized while playing adapted versions of football.

Students will enjoy learning with Test Prep Tournaments, and they will successfully master grade level standards.

Visit Vicky’s Blog
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Monday, August 6, 2012

Learning Outside the Box

By Heather Kaiser

Teachers Pay Teachers Storefront: TechedOutTeacher

Anytime is a wonderful time to “think outside the box”--the classroom box, that is. Why not take learning outside? This is a great time to plan field trips or school-yard learning experiences.

Here are some "think outside the box" ideas:

Start a school garden. So much learning takes place as students watch seeds become flowers. At my school, students love to care for our small garden. There is Swiss chard and clover growing in an enclosed space with a hutch for our bunny. We have rain barrels for reclaiming water to use on cabbage, onion, and potato plants. On the last day of school, the produce is harvested and lucky students get to take some home.

2. Plan walking tours of historical buildings in your town. Pack bag lunches and eat at a park. See if your city has a historian who will give guided tours for free. Contact your historical society to find out what’s available in your area.

Give students clipboards then travel outside after it rains. Have them look for examples of erosion and signs of weathering then make note of them. Give students time to record what they see by taking notes and making drawings or by using digital cameras or other video recording devices. 

4. Make home-made weather instruments and sun-dials then spend days making observations.

5. Grab some timers and go outside for math class. Have students estimate how long it will take them to do various activities, and then time the actual results (ie: 20 jumping jacks, run 50 meters, 20 squat thrusts).

6. Here’s an adapted idea: Supplies needed are cardboard circles or squares and markers. Label one side with different monetary values (ie: .10 cents
, .50 cents, $1.00, $5.00, $100.00). Place these randomly with the marked side downward in a circle on the ground. Divide students into teams. Agree on a monetary amount to reach (ie: first team to reach $355.50). Call out “go!” One student from each team runs into the circle and grabs a card. Students run to their team mates and decide whether to keep or return the cards. The next player runs to the middle and repeats the process. Play continues until a team announces the exact, winning amount has been reached. Teachers should check the winning amount to be sure of correct addition. 

7. If your school has a walking track, go outside for daily walks. Every time students complete a trek around the track, give them Popsicle sticks. Record how many they gather then make a graph. Set individual/team goals. When students reach their goals, have a Popsicle party.

What is your favorite teaching idea to get “outside the box”? Leave us a comment.

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Spelling Task Cards: 40 Activity Cards for Any List!  $3.00  
Science Game: A Day at the Beach - Water Cycle, Clouds, Weather  $3.00  
Weather Tracking and Comparisons  $3.18  
First Week of ESL class - Learning New Routines & Sentence Unit $4.00

Saturday, August 4, 2012

NEW Featured Teacher Questionnaire!!!

Starting next week, and just in time for the new school year (how is it already August???? )  comes our brand new Featured Teacher Questionnaire!!

If you have enjoyed reading and learning about us, the educators of Teachers Pay Teachers - now you can find out new interesting tidbits!!

If you would like to participate, and let the general populous know a bit more about your time in education - then go ahead and fill out our nifty online spreadsheet.  We will be sure to get it posted up in the order that it was received.

Teacher 2 Teacher Collaborations

Featured Teacher Questionnaire 2012

For now, here's a snip-ed from the new questionnaire and our first new featured teacher.  Can you guess who it is???

What is your most memorable field trip experience?

I've always worked in Title 1 schools since I started teaching, so in four years I've only been on one field trip, so I guess it wins by default! The ESOL staff took our 3rd-5th grade ESOL students to the Newseum here in DC.

Check back in next Saturday to find out!!
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