Monday, December 31, 2012

What will you achieve in 2013?

13 Things for 2013!! 

Michelle Lundy of "Making It As A Middle School Teacher" has the neatest link up going on that really is inspiring. 
I think it's great to see what each of us has decided to aim for in the upcoming year as well as to think about what we'd like to accomplish personally and professionally in 2013! 


I hope you take a moment to see what various teachers (who are also women, men, mommies, wives, girlfriends, sisters, brothers, daughters, etc.) have chosen to share with you from their list of things to achieve/see/do/create/etc. for this next year! You can view all posts of those participating by clicking above image which will take you directly to the linky party!
Thanks to Michelle for such a great idea to start off the new year!

Happy new year to all of you! 
What's your biggest event, goal, test, hope, wish for next year? Share below~

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Magic of Silent Movies in Creative Writing!

The Tutor House
I want to give a  SPECIAL "THANK YOU" to Adrianne Meldrum of The Tutor House for being a guest blogger today! She does, without a doubt, always have clever and spectacular ideas/activities to share. So, without further delay...

adrianne meldrum guest post innovative connectionsThere's something magical about silent movies.  Even without dialog, a story is conveyed.  How would the story be different if you could add dialog?  Using silent movies for a creative writing project or exercise could liven up your students creative juices.

I found three fun (short) silent movies that lend themselves well to adding dialog.  Two of them are old silent movies and the other is a modern day silent movie.  All of these videos are under a creative commons license. 

Divide your students into teams and assign a video.  Students will then work together to come up with dialog that goes along with the video.  They will need to come up with a title and then perform the voices for the videos.  Of course, you'll need to set some ground rules with no profane or inappropriate content allowed. 

You could also have students do their own voice over of the videos.  If you would prefer this method, please email me to receive an editable version of the video.

What kinds of stories do you think your students will come up with?

Video Sources: Video One, Video Two, Video Three

Adrianne Meldrum is a private tutor and author of The Tutor House, a blog dedicated to helping tutors find curriculum and business tips.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Christmas Stocking Freebie and Teacher to the Core Giveaway Galore!

and a Christmas Stocking Freebie!
I just wanted to share the news of an amazing "Teacher to the Core Giveaway Galore" going on at Katie Knight's blog Teacher Core! (OR REMIND THOSE THAT ALREADY KNOW)
12 Days of Giveaways!!!
Be sure to swing by and see if you can snag some cool teaching resources!! Tell her I sent you! ;)
(Oh, I'm participating in her giveaway too (along w/ many amazing bloggers, so be on the lookout!)She's got TONS of items lined up to dish out to YOU! Congrats to Teacher to the Core on the "200 Followers" milestone!

In case you've missed my primary freebie in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, I wanted to share it with you (being perfect timing and all...)--It's a quick little activity you can do with your kiddos to instill the magic of "GIVING" during the Christmas Season! I call it "Fill Someone's Stocking with Cheer..."
We all know it's more important to give rather than receive, so without any further rambling, check it out:
A Christmas Stocking Freebie and Teacher to the Core Giveaway Galore!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Homemade Ornaments to Match Our Winter Poetry!

Assess students on vivid language use Fun and Festive activity and craft!
I love doing this activity with my students. The beauty of this lesson is that you can assess students on use of vivid language but on their appropriate levels! So, this fun and festive assignment is great for a variety of ages!
Should you be hunting a writing activity to go along with the Christmas or "Winter" season, this is a great one!! 
You'll find guidelines, suggestions, a grading rubric, a pre-writing template, and a rough draft handout to help guide the students through the very important writing process!
Pre-writing Handout! 
What I hear, see, etc...
The focus is on writing, obviously, so an ornament is included in activity only to serve as a visual supplement. So, the ornament creations are left entirely up to the students -HOWEVER they choose to make them should be JUST PERFECT. 
Grading Rubric &
 Rough Draft Handout
Eliminating any limitations leaves the doors wide open for creativity and imagination, encouraging students to utilize available materials they have at home. I discourage store bought items in order to cater to student imagination and it helps with those who are unable to go buy materials to make ornaments. The purpose of the added craft is to create a visual supplement that is totally homemade by gathering items lying around the house...the result being a creation representative of the child's Christmas/Winter term assigned! 
writing activity to go along with the Christmas or "Winter" season
A super festive idea is to string some colored lights across the top of the dry erase board, a tree, or just across your classroom wall, hanging the ornaments on the lights (or hang them on fishing line if you are afraid to hang them from light strands... lol). 
Poof! Automatic Christmas/Winter display, student work display, and festive fun all crated by the work on your part! 
In addition to the ornaments on display, you can put their poems up too, under the lights/ornaments or on wall around a tree, depending on which way you'd like to display it all! 
Oh, just a little tidbit...I use the terms "Christmas" and "Winter" because many students in my classes over the years have different beliefs and/or religions and I do not want to single anyone out or offend anyone--so if considering it our "Winter Poetry" writing assignment handles that issue.
---AFTER ALL, the purpose is to write a poem about an assigned word, stay on topic, and dazzle the reader with vivid language in connections with an assigned term. And, the visual display (craft) is supposed to represent the student's term! So, it hardly has to be dedicated solely to Christmas, which allows us all to take part in the fun writing/craft activity! You can find this item in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store or in my Teachers Notebook Shop! (Those links are on the top right of blog--or click images to go straight to the TPT product!)


What do you incorporate as seasonal fun into your lessons? 
Please share some ideas below!! Who knows, if enough ideas are out there, we could keep the kids involved in seasonal fun until we are on Winter Break!

Happy Writing,
 Christmas Winter Break poetry writing with ornaments to display

Friday, November 23, 2012

Woot! Woot!! CYBER Monday Sale!!

Super brief but important post...
WAIT for it... WAIT for it.....  :)

A Smith Innovative connections teachers pay teachers

We are throwing a huge Cyber Monday Plus Tuesday Sale on Teachers Pay Teachers November 26-27th! 

You can get up to 28% off 1000s of products. 

Have you decided what different things you might need for December? January? Maybe now is a GREAT time to stock up on cute and fabulous activities and lessons for your classroom!


Thanks to Michelle (The 3am Teacher!!) for creating our OH SO CUTE graphic for a linky! If you'd like, check out all the other great stores linked up too!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Binding: Paper Monster Laminator Giveaway!

Guess what???
I have been playing with my new toy!! Yes, a laminator! In terms of toys, it's a favorite among teachers today!
You can see in the pics that I've been busy, and I keep thinking of new items to laminate. Oh no.....How will I get caught up on things? Some way, it'll all come together. In the meantime, I'm laminating! Just know is addicting. (This is your warning!)
innovative connections literary elements subject verb agreement parts

My Binding: Paper Monster Laminator Giveaway!
These are some of my literary elements I have in my store...
I printed them on colored paper!
I <3 how these are working out in my room!
My Binding: Paper Monster Laminator Giveaway!
Love these character trait word cards by Rachel Lynette! 

So, the fabulous news I have to share is-----
MyBinding is going to give one of my lucky followers a laminator. 
Along with my 12 in. laminator, I received a package of 25 --11 1/4 x 17 1/4 pouches and a package of 100 --8x11 pouches. 
See this video regarding the product I've been fortunate enough to use for my classroom and visit the MyBinding web site--

Paper Monster 12 in. Laminator
After you browse the MyBinding site, come back and leave me a comment and tell me how you would use a laminator for your classroom! Also, "like" MyBinding's Facebook page. Simple!
It would be great if you would become a follower of my blog if you aren't already... Then, enter via Rafflecopter! 
Now, for some pics....

Another item I love and was pumped to laminate---Check out these subject/verb agreement sentence parts---Again, I'm a LOUD one, so I printed them on BRIGHT, colored paper! Laminated in these pouches I got, they are super durable--thicker than the lamination used on our school laminator! ;)
  Don't get me wrong, there are tons more pics, but I am trying to keep this brief and to the if you don't already have pictured what you would be laminating.... ;) 
You guys have 3 days to enter this giveway! 
Be sure to enter through Raffecopter below!
A HUGE THANK YOU to MyBinding, and Tarragon from MyBinding, for making this possible!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Borders/Backgrounds-- Freebie for You!

Hey all! Hope your October is lovely!
I meant to load these a long while back and forgot I had them.. HELLOOO! ;) Anyway, these are just a few backgrounds I drummed up one evening when creating my own agenda books for the week. I thought I may as well load them on Google docs and share with you guys!

download on google docs a smith innovative connections
Download these swirly corners frames/backgrounds for FREE--either from pic or google docs link above!
They work great for backgrounds in power points, smart notebooks, promethean flipcharts, pdfs, and all sorts of documents/files! 

Hope you enjoy!
A. Smith

Saturday, October 06, 2012

You Simply Must Read This Book...Bulletin Board Kit and Product Swap!

MrsStanfordsClassJessica Stanford of Mrs. Standford's Class is having her awesome Product Swap, and I'm delighted to be participating again! 
Today, I'm want to share this cute bulletin board resource I got the opportunity to implement in my class this week!!
"Recommended Reading Bulletin Board Kit"
A Language Arts Reading Activity Created by Laura Ellison of Will Grade for Coffee
Check it out in her TpT Store. 
Laura Ellison Will Grade for Coffee
Words in different Fonts!
Three different frame designs!
How many of you stumble upon the issue of students not being able to find a good book to read...or, at least student who think they can't find one? This bulletin board kit takes care of that situation!
Each time a student reads a great novel, one the student would like to recommend, he/she fills out a book recommendation to tell something enticing or fascinating l about the book.
Included are the bulletin board title words "You Simply Must Read This Book!" on individual pages, each word in a different font. So cute! There are also three different designs of frames included to provide as student printables.

This activity sparks fellow classmates' interests and provides a handful of suggestions to your students for picking out their next novels. Or, if your board turns out like mine, they will have a board full of suggestions!!
See the pictures of my students' awesome new bulletin board!!! 

October Product Swap Sale
 I'm LOUD and love COLOR, SOOOO, my title is on PINK paper! 
I love this idea. I actually have students read an independent novel each nine weeks. This week, they completed the activity about novels they really enjoyed reading and wanted to recommend to other students!
When a student is hunting a book of interest, I can direct him/her to this bulletin board to read some of the recommendations from fellow classmates. Awesome! Now, when we go to the libarary, students will be getting in there and checking out books they've been anxious to read instead of spending too much of library time trying to find a book that interests them. 
Hopefully, you have your readers that seem to never have trouble finding a great book, but many of us have just as many or more that fight reading. This could change their minds entirely!
Another cool thing about it is being able to have students contribute to the board throughout the year...
When you've filled it up, replace new recommendations with some of the older ones that most students have already had plenty of time to see! That's my plan... ;) 

Getting students to read is easy breezy if they are reading material of high interest to them. This cool idea not only delivers multiple suggestions, but suggestions are from peers. If students recommend books to other students, as opposed to the teacher recommending books to students, many are more inclined to check them out...I teach middle school, so if one kid thinks something is cool, we all know that another --or two or three--are going to think it's cool. 
So, be sure to get your own bulletin board kit! This is not just for language arts classes either...It's great for any class that incorporates novels/reading into their classes AND---A "SUPER DUPER" bulletin board idea to use in the school library! 
I am actually pondering ideas as I write this post...One thing that comes to mind is asking students to recommend novel titles of particular genres in connections with a new unit or theme in class. For example, we begin a new unit next week that is my FAV! It's our mystery/fantasy unit. Oh my goodness, there are tons of great titles to recommend!! 
Can you tell that I'm excited about my new bulletin board? Um, duh!  
The kiddos finished it yesterday! On Thursday, they wrote recommendations and decorated their frames.  On Friday, we put them on our totally cute bulletin board! Each student did his/her own thing. I tend to get picky about writing, but I let that go with this activity. No "blue/black ink or typed" requirements. For their first time recommending book titles to others, I asked them to think of a book they have read this year or last year (since it's only October) that they REALLY liked. Hopefully, students will add to the board as they come across novels they "really like" and want to recommend! I told them the recommendations should spark student interest and should reveal what was so enjoyable. AND, I did tell them to make it "CUTE"---lol, my kiddos are not exactly used to coloring, so they JUMPED on this! (Okay, so I did throw some tiny guidelines.) Allowing student choice goes miles with my 8th graders. However, it's a plus for all ages. No need for limiting creativity, right? Anyway, some students trimmed excess white paper around the frame; others cut out frames entirely. Ahem, my girls were more particular. Students wrote in pencil, pens, markers, and colored pencils---quite a variety. The activity was an opportunity to say, "Look What I Read that was Totally Awesome!" 
Visit Laura's Blog!
Anyhoo, there you have it! Bet you're wanting your own "You Simply Must Read This Book!" bulletin board, aren't ya? I mean, look at the cute bulletin board my awesome students ended up creating! Swing by Laura's blog to tell her how cool her activity is! I very much enjoyed creating this board with my students and feel it will be a helpful tool throughout the year! FYI, Laura is getting married SUNDAY (Tomorrow)! Deliver Best Wishes when you swing by her blog! 
If you go to the "My Classroom" page on Laura's blog, she has lots of pics of different areas of her classroom---I thought it was insightful and cool to see! It's nice to see how other teachers organize/set up rooms, and a "special page" for it on her blog is a nice feature---hmmm, now I'm pondering ideas for mine! ;) There is also a page/tab especially for 6th grade blogs, so be sure to add yours to her link up if you are a 6th grade teacher-blogger!

Laura happens to be featuring my Writing Adventures Combo Pack resource for the product swap. So, the first 4 peeps who comment below and on Laura's blog can get it for free! BUT, be sure to leave me email address in your comment on my blog if you want it sent to you!!! 
You can connect with Laura via Facebook and find other resources of Laura's in her TPT Store.
THANKS to Jessica for getting this swap together! And, THANKS to Michelle, The 3am Teacher, for the awesome graphic! You can visit Jessica's blog, from the graphic at the top, to see her fab post for the swap and all the link ups of blogs participating. Hope your Saturday is SPECTACULAR! I'm watching a little SEC Football today/tonight! :) 
OH OH OH---For the MAGICAL Product Swap, my TpT Store is 20% off (Most Products...)
A. Smith

Saturday, September 29, 2012

October: Special Days, Weeks, Events of the Month

October is One Busy Month!

I have quite a bit on my "to-do" list, both in the classroom and at home! After learning of all the "special days" for October, my list has gotten longer... Have a look at some below! I had to post this today so you could get started on any additions you want to make to your plans for the first week of the month!

1st week- 
  • Get Organized Week
Cleaning Out the Clutter! Throwing Away Tons of Papers "To Be Filed" and Never Got Filed!
That Garbage Bag in Pic is a LARGE YARD/LEAF Sized Bag!!! 
2nd week- 
  • National Pet Peeve Week --Do I Smell a Journal Prompt???? ;)
  • International Letter-Writing Week 
3rd week-
  • Teen Read Week -I love all of the mystery/fantasy books we use in literature circles for our Mystery/Fantasy Unit starting next week! See More about Teen Read Week Here

4th week-
  • Peach, Friendship, and Good Will Week
October is the month for:
  • Breast Cancer Awareness-- Visit Pink for October for badges, buttons, and backgrounds to show your support! I already changed my Facebook cover photo! And, here's one of their cute seasonal badges! ---------->
  • Domestic Violence Awareness
  • Adopt a Shelter Dog Month -You knew I'd squeeze something for my 4-legged friends in this post! I actually donate monthly to ASPCA! There are tons of things to teach young children and teens in regards to animals (responsibility, treatment, care, needs, etc.)
  •  Streaming video by Ustream
  • Energy Awareness 
  • Computer Learning
  • National Stamp Month
  • Squirrel Awareness Month
  • Positive Attitude Month
Days for many of us to note: 
  • World Vegetarian Day- October 1
  • First Day of Sukkot October 1 
  • International Day of Non-Violence- October 2
  • World Farm Animals Day - October 2
  • Balloons Around the World Day - October 3
  • National Poetry Day- October 4
  • World Animal Day - October 4
  • Do Something Nice Day - October 5
  • World Teachers' Day - October 5
  • Columbus Day (Observed) - October 8
  • World Post Day- October 9
  • Fire Prevention Day - October 9
  • National Stop Bullying Day - October 10
  • Dictionary Day - October 16
  • National Chocolate Cupcake Day - October 18 (Excuse for Class Cupcakes?? I think so!)
  • Rainforest Day - October 19
  • Reptile Awareness Day - October 21
  • iPod Day - October 23
  • United Nations Day- October 24
  • National Forgiveness Day - October 27
  • Summer Time Ends/Europe - October 28
  • National Cat Day - October 29
  • Internet Day - October 29
  • Halloween - October 31
Busy month, I'll say! 
What do you have planned for your students during October?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Focusing on ONE Topic? Hard to do sometimes...

Wow! I just realized I have not blogged since September 3rd! Where does the time go? As many of you are in the same boat, no doubt, I'm sure you can relate to the feelings of being overwhelmed, tired from the school day-week-month, attending extra-curricular activities, and of course planning, teaching, meetings, etc. etc. etc. Having said that, I cannot focus on just ONE topic to blog about----so many things are on the brain tonight! 

Go figure! I was in bed trying to sleep, and opened my eyes, realizing I was wide awake with the sudden urge to write on my blog- a random assortment of things I must say.

So, what have I been up to this busy month? 

1. School, of course! It seems I've had zero time online (sniff, sniff) because I've just been downright too busy from 6 am til 10 pm--and then I'm pooped! Seriously, legs ache, head hurts, and ears in desperate need of silence...
  • Grading!!! It seems as though I have this ever-growing stack of papers to GRADE! Do you have that feeling? Will I ever catch up with all the papers? I feel more pressure over last couple of years since parents check grades on computer ---religiously.. ;)  I think I may have to have a "Come to Jesus Meeting" with myself about feeling as though I must grade every stinkin' thing the kids do---
  • Planning/Preparation-- While I have "boocoodles" of things to use in planning for each week, there's so much that goes into getting ready for upcoming week's lesson plan--the copying of papers is the BIG time stealer, the "cute" notebooks/flip charts to go along with the week's agenda (Yes, this is something I've grown unable to live without, lol), reading upcoming literature selections prior to class time, and more.
  • Make Up Work--wait..... MAKE UP WORK! I have had more students out, due to illness, vacations to other countries, accidents, etc. I spent a ridiculous amount of time in last month putting together make up work for students....more so than any year I can recall. It's unreal how much time gets taken up with getting individual student make up work together. Am I the only one that finds this stressful? Yes, I tend to have my little "system" for make up work---pulling items from the day's lessons and putting them in each block's make up folder for students; pulling tests to put in test make up folder, blah blah--you know the drill! ;) While I totally understand absences happening and make up work just being a part of teaching, I just have to say I've had more absences in August and Sepetember of this year than any I can ever remember....and it seems to be that way with other teachers in my department/grade this year too. 
  • Meetings-- You know what I'm talking about!  Department meetings, faculty meetings, book study meetings, and parent/teacher conferences are the main/routine meetings to which I'm referring. Remembering what day of the week I have which and seeing one thing after the other occupy afternoons on the calendar can really make a girl tired.... yawn.... :) 
  • Ending the School/Work Day-- Even though I've tried very hard to STOP grading papers at home and grade a lot less at home than in the previos years,  I've still struggled with leaving school at school (work at work), and I'm trying to remind myself that I have a "life" and need to tend to things at home-- which brings me to my next topic ;)
2. After School/Work! After a long day at school, you know your day isn't over---and, knowing you totally understand the feeling, I'm dog-tired after school...
  • Cleaning house
  • Tending to 5 dogs/ 1 cat (and my hubs!)
  • Laundry
  • Dinner, dinner, dinner
  • Errands (before everything closes---since teachers can't exactly swing by salons, doctor's appt.., banks, pharmacies, groceries, etc. on lunch Well, I can't at least...I'm doing WELL just to get 5 secs to wash my hands before lunch and maybe RUN to restroom between classes.)
  • Home Projects---Does your list continue to pile up faster than you can cross things off of it? (still painting outside of house, attic insulation, dealing w/ dryer vents, new light fixtures, garage door issues....blah, blah, blah (Don't even get me on the list I HOPE to get to do in next year or two! It's waaayyy too long!)
  • Bills---yes, remembering to pay the bills, recording expenses, etc., etc., ---I don't think my hubs realizes how good he has it not having to remember to do that! I am the main one w/ that duty. And, yes, "bills" occupy time--even the scheduling of payments with online banking...I'm always stressing that I'm forgetting something!
  • Last--Finding time to spend w/ family, friends and actually getting out to enjoy this beautiful thing known as LIFE! I'm trying harder to do that since I basically was a computer/online geek all summer----and, it seems every weekend has been consumed with out of town functions and football games this month. (October is already packed every weekend...) 
3. Down-Time!   Wait.....what was that I just said? Does that exist anymore? I try to decompress--recently in the hammock w/ the spurts of fall weather in the air!! ;) Or, after I've done all I can physically/mentally manage for one day, I jump in bed to read to have some "quiet" time or "me" time--but usually, I doze off w/ the book/magazine in hand! 

Why am I sharing all of this? 
Well, Not to complain--please don't fuss at me or think I don't love my job or life, because I do! I have TONS to be thankful for and have been truly blessed with so much. But, I'm human.
I'm also sharing because I'd love to hear if others can relate to my ramblings..
And, I'm also feeling the need to jabber on about the bazillion things in my head---in hopes that "blog therapy" will take them off the brain, even if momentarily. (This reminds me of that show "Awkward"--ha, I just admitted to watching that show--last Sunday's marathon anyway!!) 
Another reason for sharing and ALWAYS lingering in my thoughts is that I've been feeling that I'm neglecting my blog, collaborative blogs, my interaction with the SUPER AWESOME network of friends I've grown to know through my blogging/social media "pow wows" --and, well, I've been paranoid about being so MIA. Don't even get me started on how BUGGED I am that I've not even thought about sitting down to create my next resource for my store! But, it's as if one day has rolled into the next before I've realized it. I need a couple of hours added to the 24 hr. day!!! ;0 Yeah, not happening. 
So, if you've read this far, THANK YOU for letting me get it all out! ;) This has been a true "Blog Therapy Session" for me! From this point forward, I may refer to it as BTS time! -ha, ha! I'm Serious! People say journaling, keeping a diary, etc. helps. I'm guessing that IS TRUE! I feel a little better already, now that I've BLOGGED about it! This is the first blog post in a while with no pics, products, freebies, giveaways, or basically teaching related content---except for the whole "life as a teacher" thing! 

Tell me, how do you find time to ENJOY life, wind down, and remember the "important things" in the midst of all of the daily demands that will always be there?  I would LOVE to hear your "time management tips" because they would be very helpful! :) 
A. Smith middle school teaching Innovative Connections
P.S. Since I RAMBLED on and on this evening, in attempt to "blog it out," I ask that you kindly ignore any all errors, as I'm just not feeling up to proofreading tonight--Toodles! ;)

Monday, September 03, 2012

Currently September... Too Much To Do, So Little Time!

With September comes lots of things...
Oh' Boy 4th Grade Link up Innovative Connections A Smith First, the month begins with Labor Day, which means....a school holiday! Love it! Second, Football Season is full throttle! Third, Fall is lurking around the corner, teasing here and there with hints of cool weather---Bring ON the FALL weather, already!! It's so hot and humid....                                             AND, There's Also TONS TO DO! Wow, so many papers have already stacked up to grade! How did that happen so fast? I need a autograder!!!!  Fall weddings to attend, football games to watch, home projects to complete as soon as it's not scorching outside, did I mention grading papers? Seems like there's much on the agenda between now and say....Thanksgiving?? Lots of it fun, some....uh, not so much!

On to some favorites...
Gotta admit....that's one awesome stadium! I Love Maroon and White!
Oh' Boy Fourth Grade Farley Currently Link Up
No, that's not my horse or my land, but I do want to go riding!!! 
And, nope, don't have a pic of my blue dress or new clothes! :) But, I'm sure you get, if you like wearing new stuff! There's just something about new clothes, a new school year, a new season, cooler weather, etc....They all seem to feel, smell, and look CRISP, FRESH, and CLEAN!, I'm not weird! But, it's true!

Anyway,You gotta check out the Oh' Boy Fourth Grade's Link Up! I just love the "Currently" that Farley does each month! I find out so much about fellow teachers/bloggers and it is just cool to learn about new people each month and even more about others I already know! What's pretty cool is how much so many have of us have in common! 

Slip on over to Farley's blog to see all the other "Currently" posts!! 
They are fun to read!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Definite Value in Students Working in Small Groups and Pairs in the Classroom

Do you take advantage of cooperative learning? 
As a middle school teacher, I've learned that small groups and pairs both offer so much! That being said, I even let them pair up and do various reading/writing assignments together, in class rather than at home. In this manner, critical thinking and  applying reading/writing skills tend to be more fun for them---less "work" in their minds anyway.
By implementing small group tasks, I'm also eliminating chances that a student goes home to no help or no art supplies needed to create that brilliant something in his/her brain. (But, yes, when it is outside of class and individually, my kids know upfront that they can come to me for materials if they need them.) Additionally, it's very TRUE that kids learn from each other, and when they pair up for any assignment, they learn even more from one another without even realizing it. That's invaluable in itself.

Snapshots of Partner/Group Assignments in Class:
partner/group assignments
A Smith Innovative Connections Middle School Language Arts Literature Groups
small groups come together to share, students end up sharing/gaining multiple perspectives

These are a few instances of small group activities "After Reading" assignments for The Call of the Wild. Students are easily engaged in discussion. After completing group tasks, we usually share with the whole class, which is why I love the big bulletin board paper! I go through so much of that stuff. Throw out the BIG PAPER and the MARKERS, and they will work! :) It's another way to get them moving some, as they have to get materials, many stand as they are writing/drawing and sharing...and, if you have a block schedule like we do, then you understand their need to move around some! 
When small groups come together to share, students end up sharing/gaining multiple perspectives, depending upon the task, about novels, story elements, inferences, etc. It's a quick way to informally assess comprehension too!
What is your take on small groups/pairs and cooperative learning activities? No matter the subject, share what you like/dislike about it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Winners for the Ultimate Middle Years Giveaway and Blog Hop!!

To all of you amazing peeps playing a part in this event – Thank you!!  It was a huge success. To all of you who took on the blog hop challenge – Congratulations!  Your freebies will be emailed out later today. Check your junk mail if you haven’t found the 2 messages in your inbox by this evening.
a smith innovative connections
Again, each of these winners will be receiving a package of products and shopping sprees donated by all of our participating teacher-bloggers. You three can expect an email notifying you of your win, shortly.
So, here ya go!! 
The winners are:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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