Monday, April 30, 2012

Points to Ponder and Remember

Hosted by Jen R.
1st: I just joined an awesome WORD WALL link up at The Teacher's Cauldron! You should see some of the ideas! Click image to the right! Thank you Jen R.!!!

Now, today's post is about:
Quotes focusing on education...
innovative connections quotes focusing on educationI found these on the internet as I was searching for inspiring writing springboards:

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”  ― Mahatma Gandhi

“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” ― Oscar WildeMartin Luther King

"Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence." -Robert Frost

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”   
-St. Augustine of Hippo

Great for upper grades to reflect on and write about in any classIntelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
What is your favorite quote?

These are great for upper grades to reflect on and write about in any class! Perhaps you need a writing prompt for a monotonous Monday to spice things up a bit? Happy Day!

What is your favorite quote? Please let us know so we can add it to our points to ponder!! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Series of Educational Sites: "C"

By the National Center for Family Literacy!
I am an email subscribed reader and enjoy the “Wonder of the Day” on this siteit’s pretty cool!
For Example:
4/26/12   #571
Should You Believe Everything You Hear?
4/25/12   #570
How Fast Can a Nose Run?
Some of these daily wonder posts come with  pictures, videos, etc. Many "Wonders" are quite informative and most useful, and others are totally unique in that they include cool points to ponder or interesting tidbits to learn! I love the Wonder "Why is it so fun to monkey around?" (I adore animals if you didn't already know!) It’s like a small dose of “Get your brain exercising” that never hurts any of us to get on a daily basis!
There’s even a Twitter Wonderfeed: @wonderopolis
So, Question: What is something (maybe bizarre or truly mysterious) that you have always wondered? 
Imagine all of the journal prompts and creative writing activities you could do in class just with this as a springboard! 
You can download this printable for FREE in my TpT Store or directly from GoogleDocs! 
Innovative Connections Ann Marie Smith Free Printable Wonderopolis Have you ever wondered about....

Please tell us in a comment below! I’m sure someone will either have wondered the same or become entirely curious too!

Have a great day! 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Easily Manage Your Classroom Library with a Simple System!

FREEBIE PDF Chart in Google Docs Easy to manage
Download from Google Docs Here! 

If you have a set of bookshelves in your classroom, designated as the "Classroom Library" for the students to use, you may like this chart I have loaded in a pdf format. Instead of having to remember to write down a book title and student name when someone wants to check out one of my personal novels in the classroom, I keep a 1/2" binder with multiple copies of this chart inside. Of course, my students always know to ask before borrowing a book, but if they want to read one of my books at home, more power to them! They just get my approval and fill out the chart with the student name, book title/author (book # if you are that organized!) and the check out date. When the books are returned, students fill in return date and have me initial beside the return date before the book is returned to the shelf! Easy to manage and less for me to remember is what I'm all about these days!
Teachers Initial beside the return date, easy to manage, Cover PageI've uploaded this FREEBIE  in Google Docs, so you don't even have to go to my store to get it! I created a cover page to slip in the clear pocket on the cover of a binder you may use or it can be taped on front of a folder! Hope you can use it!
Please let us know if you have a tip to share for keeping up with those "tedious" things that eat up time, but still need to get done! I'd love to hear new ideas as I'm sure others would like to know too! Have a great day!
Ann Marie Smith Innovative Connections tip to share

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Diggin' in the $1 Bin Again...

     I'm sure many of you recall the link up for "You Know You are a Teacher When..."
Well, mine was about digging in the dollar bins at Target and shopping at Dollar General ALL the time!
     Did it again this week! I went to Target for an item or two and spent 30 minutes in the dollars bins....YEP! I couldn't even get all the way into the store and beyond the checkout area! Stopped by the newly filled dollar bins! LOVE LOVE LOVE...
     There's something about atmosphere that changes my mood. At home, it's a habit for me to cut every lamp on and have a clean (furniture polish-smelling clean) house. At school, I change things up all the time! I've been hunting some of these below at a bargain price. They are a little smaller than what I wanted but, $1 will make you holler!!!!! I bought twelve!
Here's what I'm about to hang in my classroom:
Innovative Connections Ann Marie Smith
Hot Pink, Yellow, and Lime Green Paper Lanterns! YES!

Instant change in atmosphere
I would've bought more, but 12 will work I guess!
They take all of 2 secs to put together, string them with fishing line and hang! Instant change in atmosphere. An inviting classroom really does make a HUGE difference. 
Next on my list? A miniature wind chime! Yes, the teacher across the hall has one and it's super!

What is something cool you have in your room at school? Tell us where you got it so we can go get it!! 

Inviting classroom makes a huge difference

FYI, to those of you participating in the weekly post for the "Innovative Teacher-Author You Should Get to Know," I have decided to make it a monthly (maybe 2X/month) post instead of every week! So, don't think I've forgotten you!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Series of Educational Sites-"B: Arcademic Skill Builders!"

Hello to All! I hope you saw the first of my "Series of Educational Sites" Posts which featured post "A:  Quizlet!"  
Today's "A Series of Educational Sites" post: 
"B: Arcademic Skill Builders!"  (Yes, ARCADEmic...)
Innovative Connections Common Core Grades 1-6 Games
Visit Arcademic Skill Builders' Facebook Fan Page!
This cool place is an interactive site full of engaging educational games for children. From Grades 1-6, you will find ALL sorts of games across the board in subject area!
Why Incorporate this Interactive Web Site?

 An Example: VERB VIPER!
Educational Site Arcademic Skill Builders Remediation Tool
Arcademic Skill Builders' Verb Viper Game!
Awesome link to tell your students about just to let them play games at home! 
I'm thinking this would be a fantastic remediation tool or bonus point option for class! A free time center? Hmmm.....
This kind of learning is what my colleagues and I refer to as "Sneaky Learning" because you can slide in those skills they need as they "PLAY" games and have fun! 

Have you used Arcademic Skill Builders before? Please let us know how you used it! What kinds of games do your students like to play?          ________________________________________________________
Also, while I've added this site's link to it, be sure to visit the 
Top Teacher Resources' Facebook Page!
Stay tuned for another post on "A Series of Educational Sites" from Innovative Connections! Thanks for stopping by my blog! 
Top Teacher Resources Facebook Page Students desired challenge

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Connecting You to a Series of Spectacular Educational Sites: A quizlet blog, utilizing technology ann marie smith
Educational Site: "A"
Utilizing fun, interactive, and educational web sites in the classroom and at home is important for engaging children in learning!  "Why?" you ask. Well, besides the fact that it is indeed 2012, our students were born and immediately exposed to "boocoodles" of technology gadgets and gizmos that most of us probably couldn't fathom being invented when we were kiddos! Boy would I have loved some of today's "toys" when I was a tot! MOST importantly, we are all learners and we learn in different manners! I, for one, have to have interactive material and visual material if you want  me to learn and truly understand some things! And...students need stimulation! Since they come to us with a wealth of knowledge in technology by middle school and high school, already exposed to tons of it from birth on up, we have to incorporate it into our lessons today! It's what they know! 

I'm am beginning a series of posts featuring resourceful, interactive, and/or hopefully fun teacher resource sites or student-friendly sites of various sorts that you can use in your lessons and classes for multiple things! 

Today's Post is obviously "Educational Site: A" to represent day #1! It's just a series of posts I've decided to incorporate with the other things I like to blog about here.  (No particular schedule) However, you'll recognize them by the titles! So, if you haven't already, maybe you can keep track by following via email! 

So, Today's Educational Site: A:

PERKS You'll Love...

  • Cool Tool for Mobile Studying
  • Teachers can create materials
  • Students can create flashcards and other items
  • Games
  • PDF printables
  • Smart Board Options
  • You can set up groups
  • It offers competitive study games 
  • Demo Videos
  • AND...there is Quizlet BLOG 
  • and on and on and on and on
How many of you knew all this already? If you didn't, then I've accomplished something today, and that was to show you a useful educational site that you will certainly enjoy!

It is packed full of teaching resources/materials and student resources/links/etc. Wow! This site is actually one I always keep on my classroom web site in my student resource list!

If you are a QUIZLET fan already, can you tell us how you use it and your favorite thing about it?

quizlet smart board games flashcards interactive innovative connections

Monday, April 16, 2012

First Timer Creating Drawing on Google Docs

 What I'd like to know from you is... "How often do you or how many of you utilize Google Docs?"  

Do you ever find yourself playing on the computer, trying to learn new things you've heard about or watched videos on and want to play around and see what happens?
Innovative Connections Ann Marie Smith 20% Off Sale TpT Store
Please leave a comment if you are a Google Docs user and can enlighten me with feedback! I know lots of us create forms and all, but do you use it for other drawing and items besides general documents or forms? I'd like to know your opinion as far as features....which seem mighty limited. I'm guessing it's for simple, quick items that don't need a lot of special attention?
Drawing, Documents, form, GoogleDocs, Features Innovative Connections

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Math Mojo, an Innovative TpT Teacher-Author You Should Get to Know

Innovative Connections by Ann Marie Smith
Visit Math Mojo's Store Here!

Alexis Sergi

What grade level(s) and subject(s) is Alexis currently teaching? What other grade levels has Alexis taught prior to current position?        
Currently 4th grade, Previously K, 1, 5, College Freshman

How long has Alexis been teaching?            
13 years!

When did Alexis join Teachers Pay Teachers as a Seller, and what made Alexis decide to become a seller?
I joined TpT as a seller December 2011. I could never find commercially made materials that were exactly what I wanted, so I started creating my own. I love to create materials, plan, and share with others. One of the teachers who I frequently share materials with suggested I check out this site and offer some of the things that I develop on the site.

One piece of advice Alexis can give to a beginning teacher & one piece for a veteran teacher:

I would tell a new teacher to take it one day at a time, take things slowly, and lean on others for support. To veteran teachers I would say one of my favorite quotes, "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf." We are in an era of massive change and pressure on teachers and survival in this job is often about learning to find joy in our jobs and learning to not fight the waves of change, but learning to surf!

Something unique about Alexis both as a teacher and outside of the classroom:
Teacher fact - I have taught in 2 countries (the U.S. and Australia), 3 U.S states, and my students have ranged in age from kindergarten to college!
Personal fact - 8 years ago my husband and I sold our house and almost everything we owned and moved to Australia to live and work for a year. We are not impulsive people, but we loved the experience! We are back in the states now and we have started a family, but we always look back on that experience and still can not believe we did it!
TpT Product Link to best selling product
Math Mojo's Best Seller!

TpT Store Link:

Here is a link to one of Alexis's best selling products or click on the image to the right:

What other neat information did Alexis choose to share?

I love to travel. Before having children my husband and I visited over 30 states and 9 countries including Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Now we have 3 wonderful children so our adventures are closer to home. We live in Florida and we love exploring beaches, theme parks, and all the Sunshine State has to offer!!!
Thanks to Alexis for sharing a little about herself with me and other viewers/followers! I find it very interesting and love getting to know a little bit about so many of you guys!
I'm jealous Alexis lives in the Sunshine State!!! 


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Teaching Allegories by Writing Allegories

"Using Picture Books to Teach Allegory..." post on March 21st promised a follow up with student samples. I've finally gotten a chance to take pictures of some of the allegories my students wrote. Then,  I had to email them to myself, etc. You know the drill-as far as getting pics on your computer! 

I have tons of great student work, but here are 5 snippets. After I'd taken pictures, one of my students brought in a POP-UP Children's Book---Allegory with Waffles as characters! How stinkin' cute is that?  He spent hours, and it showed! I will have to be sure to get a picture of it too! 

Innovative Connections Ann Marie Smith Students Write Allegories, Children's Book, Great Student Work
Poster Display with Allegory Attached

Allegory, Story Writing, Poster Display, Follow Up Post
Poster Display With Allegory Attached
Children's book, students created, Crayons
This one is a page in the children's book one of my students created.
Crayons were her Springboard!

Ten Little Monkeys, Poster Display, Results
Poster Display with Allegory Attached.
Variety of approaches, activity, Skittles
Snippet of Cover for Another Allegory!

Hope you like these! Quite of a variety of approaches were taken for this activity, and I was impressed with the results. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tag Tag Tag Tag...

I'm grateful to Mrs. K. of The Teacher Garden for "tagging" me for this unique blog tag party! Thanks, Mrs. K! Be sure to stop by her blog and check out the neat things she has going on there!
Here's how to play:
Post the rules.
Answer 10 questions.
Create 10 questions. 
Tag 10(ish) people and link them with your post. Let them know they have been tagged.

Here are the questions she wanted me to answer:
1. What grade do you teach (or did you teach), and how long have you been teaching?
Currently 8th Grade! I'm about to finish my 11th year teaching!

2. What is your favorite subject or topic to teach?
Hmm, I've taught English Language Arts for 8 years, so I guess English? I thoroughly enjoyed K, 2nd, and 5th and all subject areas too!

3. If you weren't teaching, what would you be doing?
Wow!! My Online Career would launch into FULL TIME MODE!! How fun would that be? 

4. What do you like to do when you're not at school?
I spend lots of time working in my backyard, playing with my dogs/cat, painting, and lots of time on computer in my "blogging, teaching product, networking" ventures....

5. What is your favorite way to incorporate technology into your classroom?
Using the smart board notebooks, promethean flip charts, and VIDEOS to incorporate into lessons which seem to hold students' attention in that long 97 minute block of English!

6. How long have you been blogging, and why did you start your blog?
I began blogging in October 2011; after seeing all the super teaching blogs and what there was to offer and gain through one, I decided I was missing out not having one!

7. What is your favorite book and why? I LOVE vampire novels! (not the scary kind); I think it's because I love romance books! 

8. What do you always carry in your purse?
Lipstick, mascara, cell phone, and headache medicine! It never fails, anytime I leave without the Advil, I get a headache!

9. Share your easiest/quickest/yummiest recipe.
Chicken Breasts in Uncle Ben's Wild Rice Original Recipe, smothered cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, cream of cheddar cheese soups, and add one can of mushroom pieces! Bake for 1hr. 1/2 (uncovered last 30 min)---VOILA! Happy Hubby!

10. What is the best (or most exciting) thing that's happened to you so far in 2012?
TAXES DONE!! Is that sad? Okay, I got a beautiful pair of sapphire/diamond earrings from my hubby for Valentine's Day, card, and a 1 lb. bag of conversation heart! It is usually a sweet card and conversation hearts! Never forget the conversation hearts!

There!! Because I didn't have to ponder answers, I'm going to use these same questions...So, TAG! You're it:

Tonya at

Strings, Keys and Melodies

Jana at

Thinking Out Loud

The Lesson Lady at

La Profesora Frida at 
The Stress Free Spanish Teacher

Mrs. Dwyer at

Mrs. Dwyer's A+ Firsties
Yes, I guess I cheated. I used the same questions, and I selected 5 blogs as opposed to 10! It's okay! Just pass along the fun! It's fun to get to know others, and I enjoy learning about others. However, it seems to take a really long time to choose 10+ blogs that haven't already done a particular post or received an award, so I was trying to make it a little faster and leave some for others! 
Okay, I was pushed for time..... :) lol!!
And here are your 10 questions:
1. What grade do you teach (or did you teach), and how long have you been teaching?
2. What is your favorite subject or topic to teach?
3. If you weren't teaching, what would you be doing?
4. What do you like to do when you're not at school?
5. What is your favorite way to incorporate technology into your classroom?
6. How long have you been blogging, and why did you start your blog?
7. What is your favorite book and why?
8. What do you always carry in your purse?
9. Share your easiest/quickest/yummiest recipe.
10. What is the best (or most exciting) thing that's happened to you so far in 2012?
Have Fun, Ladies! Can't wait to hear your answers to these questions!
Tag from Ann Marie Smith of Innovative Connections

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hand On, Not Hands Off!

Ann Marie Smith  Innovative Connections teaching blog Post Featuring Hands On ActivitiesGuest Post by: The Lesson Lady of One Less Headache  

Have you ever had a student in class that couldn’t keep his or her hands to themselves and wanted to touch everything all the time? What about the student who can’t sit still and fidgets during class? Hands on projects will help you meet the needs of these students and more.

I am a little biased being an art teacher, but hands on projects can be an important and great way to help both you and your students. Kinesthetic learners will love doing hands on projects in class and learn well. Hands on lessons are also great ways to have students reach higher levels of learning from the top levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. You can also teach problem solving skills and creative thinking through the use of hands on projects.

Here are some suggestions of ways to use hands-on projects in a variety of subjects.

Language Arts
·      Billboard or Ad Design – Have students create an ad or billboard for a book that they read. What would they show and why?
·      Mandala – Have students create a mandala with different levels about different aspects about the book, its time period, and culture.
·      Board Game – Have students design and play a board game based on terms or reading passages.
·      Ratios – Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing “The Vetruvian Man” is created out of ideal ratios and is called the Golden Ratio. Students can find the Golden Ratio in his work or trace their body and find their own ratio.
·      Binary Numbers – The South Korean flag is related to binary numbers. Have students create their own design or flag using their birthday binary numbers.
·      Origami – Have students create origami and ask questions such as how many folds were symmetrical or perpendicular. Unfold the origami when finished and see the patterns on the paper. Estimate or measure each angle the paper folds, determine if the paper is symmetrical each fold, use fractions when speaking about how to fold the paper.
·      Optical Illusions – Use optical illusions to see how they trick the eye.
·      Classification – Classify animals and varied life forms viewed in different paintings.
·      Prehistoric Era – View cave paintings and determine what this says about the people, animals, or social ideals of this time. Could also work for Social Studies.
Social Studies
·      Class or Small Group Mural – Particularly in Mexico many artists created mural about Mexico’s history. Students could view the mural and discuss how it relates to Mexico’s history and create a mural either as a class or in a small group on a large paper that describes the history of a selected time period.
·      Time Period Review – Show students a variety of works of art from time periods they have studied. Can they tell which art is from what time?
·      Values – View artwork from different time periods to tell what is valued during each time period. What does the art say about each time period?
Social Awareness & Team Building
  • Symbolic Portrait – Use a light and have students trace their profile. Inside the profile have them draw things that represent themselves or collage items that represent themselves. To add another dimension to this, have students do things that represent how others view them outside the profile. Giuseppe Arcimboldo does some unusual portraits like this.
·     Story Quilt – Create a class paper quilt like those of Faith Ringgold. Have each student tell a story on their paper quilt square. Attach them together to form a big class quilt that tells a story. You can also have students write a story to go with the image.

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