Thursday, May 27, 2010


I always loved when I taught idioms. I would have the students make a poster. They would divide it in half; one side had the literal meaning, the other had the implied meaning. Today, @carlaarena introduced me to the Flickr group for "Idioms in English".

This would be an awesome activity. Have the students use either flipcams or digital cameras to find examples of idioms. They could then explain the literal and implied meaning. If you used a flipcam, you could make the videos a movie (using Moviemaker) and watch them on "Movie Day". Even bring popcorn...if you did digital pictures, you could do a Photo story, and still watch them on "Movie Day"...

Memorial Day-Pass this along!

Please share with students, staff, and everyone!

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's all about ELA!

And it's all about CHANGE!

I think it's ironic that when I typed "ELA" into my BigHuge Thesaurus, terrorist organizations popped up. This post is all about ELA. Here are some sites this week and my ELA ideas for each (in no particular order)

1. Wordsteps - When studying grammar (for example, idioms) it would neat to see how certain phrases and words could translate. When studying literature (such as Julius Caesar) it would be awesome to translate some of those pivotal phrases, such as "Et tu Brutus".

2. Skype an Author - @MZimmer557 mentioned this site today via Twitter. It would be awesome to connect with an author and ask them poignant questions.

3. Lit2Go - This is one @eduese introduced me to at PASA two years ago. I love the extensive collection of audio books. Perfect for any reader...

4. Pearltrees - Pearltrees is an neat alternative to Wallwisher and Edistorm. I think it would be a neat way to brainstorm any number of things, not just writing. Post an argument and have the students defend a position.

5. Author Webpages - This is a neat site filled with author webpages. This tool would be useful when introducing a new novel. The students could research the author beforehand.

6. Writing Prompts - My buddy, @mwedwards, mentioned this site and I LOVE IT! It is a place to find many creative writing starters (prompts). This person @wsfcsdit has so many hooks for getting students to write!

7. The Old Farmers' Almanac - This could be used for numerous point of view writing assignments. Write about today from the perspective of a farmer, a farmer's wife, the garden, the cow....

8. Noodletools - Similar to Easybib, this site helps you cite your research. My buddy, @edtechconnect, likes this site because it will cite APA style.

9. Biocube - This is a neat site to summarize someone you researched...great biographical tool!

10. To Kill A Mockingbird projects - @jpsteltz has AWESOME projects for his TKAM unit that can be adapted to ANY novel/short story. Check out his student prezis, scrapblogs, etc.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Another idea for creatively increasing writing

I came across a Tweet today from @sali2go2 and @jenverschoor. It mentioned the 60 Best Movie Poster of All Time. This is a great resource and could be used in the classroom for a variety of writing assignments. For example, every Friday you could show one of these posters (try to showcase one of a movie that students most likely have NOT seen). Have them write ANY of the following:

1. Predict what this movie might be about.
2. Write a trailer for this movie.
3. Develop a cast of alternate characters for this movie.
4. What songs might be on the soundtrack?
5. Predict what the tone of this movie would be, the category (romantic, comedy, drama)...
6. Mention a vocabulary word from our list or a spelling word to help your description.
7. Mention what literary device you might see in this movie (conflict, personification, etc)
8. Write any of these things practicing what we covered grammatically this week. For example, use so many linking verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc....

Then, if possible, find a clip from that movie poster. You could find it off YouTube most likely. Have the students check their writings and see how close their predictions were.....

Just another thought...I think I might need professional help! Are there support groups out there for English enthusiasts??? :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ideas for Increasing Writing in Class

This week, I attended the TOT ELA EOC exam. Ok, for those of you (like my husband) who may not know what that means, it is the Training of Trainers for the English Language Arts End of Course exam. This test will replace the TAKS test. I came away with my head spinning, mostly thinking about how English teachers can prepare their students for this test. I came across this page titled
"Using Writing in Mathematics" The light-bulb went off...these ideas and strategies can be adapted to fit any subject. I will reflect on the ELA slant...

I will mention my favorite ideas listed on this site.

1. Begin with affective, open-ended questions about students' feelings.

Sample Direction #1: Reflect on your participation in class today and complete the following statements:
I learned that I...
I was surprised that I...
I noticed that I...
I discovered that I...
I was pleased that I...

Sample Direction #2: Describe how you feel about solving _________ problem.

This could also be modified as a warm-up to class. For example, what have you learned about.....or how do you feel about verbs, writing, reading the classics.

2. Explain/write about key concepts learned in class, before class, or after class...

Sample Directions:

Explain in your own words what subtraction means.
Explain what is most important to understand about fractions.

Here are a few more oriented for English class:

"Explain what is a verb." "Explain what is most important about writing an introductory paragraph.."

This article also had neat ways of using writing with group work or team work.

3. As student writing progresses, ask students to write about their small group work.

  • Ask the group to write a summary of how they reached a solution, including any "false starts" or "dead ends."
  • Ask each individual to write an explanation of the group's work on a problem. Have the small groups discuss the individual explanations.
  • After a small group assignment, have students "explain and illustrate two different approaches to solving a problem."

The solution written about could be any type of open ended question. For example, who is a better leader in our story Lord of the Flies at this point? Or do you think Romeo and Juliet's plan will work? Or, how can Brutus gain more power away from Mark Anthony?

Bottom line...think of clever ways to increase writing in the classroom. Writing doesn't have to be a formal paper that takes days or weeks to produce. It can (and should be) a daily assignment that students can enjoy and use as a vehicle for learning!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Who I am Reading...

I am honored to have my blog noticed by such outstanding people. I have had two phenomenal people read and share my blog:



I think I share the opinion of many when I say how truly grateful and appreciative I am of my PLN. Even though I haven't met you personally, I feel I know you. I look forward to collaborating with you daily and wish you all the best.

Here are blogs I feel you should have in your reader:

If you are tagged, follow these rules:

1) Insert the picture above into your blog with a link back to the blog that nominated you
2) List 10 blogs you feel others should read
3) Tell the bloggers you have nominated that you have tagged them.

Sometimes you're the windshield...

Sometimes you're the bug. Mary Chapin Carpenter said it perfectly. This week, I was definitely the bug. I hit so many windshields this week, I was grateful for a weekend break. After two pep talks from SHansen, and one from my boss, I feel as if I can keep on keeping on.

So, this week, I came across numerous history related sites. Here they are (in no particular order)

1. Currency Converter - This always reminds me of my grandpa. He used to constantly tell me that I do not know the value of a dollar. Well, this site lets you compare yesterday's prices with today's. This would be a great addition to an economics lesson or any story with a setting in the past (To Kill a Mockingbird, Grapes of Wrath, ex..)

2. Panoramic Images - I know I have mentioned this site before but I feel I should mention it again. They seem to constantly update their site with new images and additions. Check out the USA 360 Virtual Tours section. Read your students a short story about Death Valley, show them the panoramic, and then have them write a journal entry from the viewpoint of a lizard living there. What a great lesson!

3. World History - I like the ability to upload your own family tree and see how your family contributed to history. Many English teachers I know have the seniors research their family tree and develop a family crest. This would be a neat addition to that assignment.

4. Motto Generator - I like this site. In addition to the above, you could have students create their own family motto. I think this would be a neat assignment to do at the beginning of the school year as a "get to know you" activity. Create your own motto(s) that represents you as a student/learner. Then plug them into glogster and make an interactive poster "ALL ABOUT YOU".

So, I will end with the famous words of Joe Dirt. "Life's a garden...dig it!"

Friday, May 14, 2010

This Story Makes me Angry

Waco-Area Parent: Child's Wheelchair Reason Given For Long Wait at Restaurant:

I received this email from an employee within our district that details this event. I have changed names to protect the family's privacy. I have also omitted the staff member's name.

I contemplated sending this out to the faculty and staff. I
decided I must.

This past Sunday Joe, a former student and player of mine,
along with his family went to Cheddars. Joe and his wife Jill
have a son named Jim who has a spinal condition that has relegated him
to a wheelchair.

They arrived around 3:00 p.m. They were told the wait would be
approximately 12 minutes. After about 30 minutes, and after multiple
parties who came in after them were seated, Joe's wife Jill
approached the hostess and manager to make sure their name was still on
the list. He told them it was.

After another 15 minutes and numerous other parties being seated ahead
of them, she again approached the manager. This time he became
belligerent and told them they were still trying to find them a table.
Jill asked why others who obviously came in after them were being
seated before them. The manager (who is now raising his voice for all
to hear) told her that the wheelchair Jim was in would block the aisles
and that only able-bodied patrons could be seated at this time until the
crowd subsided.

She turned around and asked Joe if he heard what the man just said.
Joe did hear it, but asked him to repeat it. The guy came from
around the stand, threw up his arms and repeated what he told them,
again raising his voice. The manager offered to show Jill how the
chair would block the aisles. Jill told him he did not need to show
her. Joe said at this time Jill began to cry. The manager told
them that if this was not satisfactory, they could leave, and if they
kept making a scene, he would be forced to call the police.

Joe asked for his name. The manager refused to give it to him,
saying he could get it at He asked for the two hostess'
names and the manager told him they were available online as well. At
this time, the manager picked up the phone and called the police.
Joe gathered his family and left. He said the other folks waiting
for a table were literally dumbfounded by the manager's actions. Many
of them left as well.

I just spoke to Joe and have tried to make sure this recount is as
accurate as possible. I realize how hard this is to believe. In this
day and age, that someone could be so blatantly inconsiderate is really
quite unfathomable. I am sickened by it.

What you do with this information is up to you. I just thought everyone
I know should here this story.

Now that I know, I do not think I will be frequenting Cheddars.

Middle School Science Sites

Today, we are administering the 8th grade technology assessment. I am assisting an AMAZING science teacher. She shared with me a list of site students can visit once done with the assessment. Most are science/math games but some are simulations...enjoy!

WebQuests and Science Games
Rags to Riches (5th grade TAKS questions Game)
Rags to Riches (part 2)
Who Wants to Win 1 Million Dollars?
Earth Science Millionaire Game
Energy Battleship
Cool Math Games
Science Interactives/Hands-on Activities (check out under Living Things the Cow Eye Dissection

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just a thought for a research project

A tweet from earlier today:

Love this quote! RT @quotme: "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em." - William Shakespeare

What a great quote to use as a springboard into research!Students could research someone (from history, literature, or pop culture) who fits the different descriptors within that quote. For example, Prince William might be considered someone who is "born great", Barack Obama is someone who "achieved greatness", and William Wallace had "greatness thrust upon him". Students could choose their people and through research defend their argument.

Just a wild thought...thanks @jeff_shoemaker for the inspiration!

Vocabulary Week 1

AudioPal Widget

Learning how to use Audiopal!

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Story Time!

So much emphasis is placed on digital storytelling. This past week, I came across some really neat tools for telling a story, not necessarily a digital one.

1. Magcloud - You can create and publish your own magazine. This would be a great project for a class. You can publish a magazine "All About Your Class". Or, for larger projects, like a unit over Romeo and Juliet, you could publish a magazine at the end of the lesson.

2. Tikatok- You can create your own book and then order it. This would be a neat gift to give your students as they graduate your class. If I taught seniors or even 8th graders, this would be an awesome graduation gift.

3. Zoo Burst - Ok, here is a digital storytelling site that was just too cool not to share. You can create your own 3D Pop-Up book. What a neat way to review for a test, maybe finals, TAKS, or even a vocabulary quiz.

4. Blogs and Vokis - This site is one @cindybrock shared. It is a 3RD GRADE CLASS using blogs and vokis for biographical assignments. How neat would it be to use a voki to tell a story or write your story on a blog.

Have a great week!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Why I have gained 15 lbs..

Friday: birthday Friday. Next week: pot luck luncheon....I have eaten all day today. Breakfast was birthday cookie cake, lunch was buffet at Mazzio's pizza place, and now I just ate this that my buddy RYezak made:

Concho River Delight

Melt 2 sticks margarine

Mix with 1/2 cup lt. brown sugar

2 C flour

1/2 C finely chopped pecans

Bake at 325 degrees in Pyrex pan for 25-30 min. Cool

1st layer

Mix 1/2 large Cool Whip

2 (3 oz. each ) pkg cream cheese

1 C powdered sugar

Beat together and spread on crust

2nd layer

2 small boxes + 3 C milk

1 large instant vanilla pudding

Spread over cream cheese

3rd layer

1 large instant chocolate pudding

Topping - 1/2 large Cool Whip

Decorate with chocolate curls

Since joining this group, I have gained and gained...but it is worth it to be working with such a great group of people!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Teaching Main Idea, Tone, and Purpose/Audience

I came across this video clip from @harrisonmike. He was talking about how these ads make him smile. The proverbial light bulb went off. You could use commercials like this one to teach main idea, tone, purpose and audience. For example, it is a bit unclear what the message is in this ad for Snickers. I would show the kids this ad and not mention the title. I would then ask the kids to share/discuss/ write down the answers to these questions:

1. What would you title this commercial?
2. Who is the audience and what is the purpose?
3. What is the tone of this commercial?
4. What is the main idea?

What an engaging way to practice these skills for the TAKS test!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Awesome Ice Cream Cake

My friend, CPetroff, makes this awesome ice cream cake...I just made one for my kids' teachers for Teacher Appreciation is the EASY recipe!

2 Boxes of Regular Sized Ice Cream Sandwiches
1 Large Tub Cool-Whip
1 Bottle of Caramel Syrup
1 Bottle of Hot Fudge Syrup
1 Bag of Heath Pieces (It's called Bits o' Brickle)

In a large pan, line the bottom with 12 ice cream sandwiches. Spread a layer of Cool-Whip, and top it with the caramel and hot fudge. Top that with another layer of ice cream sandwiches, Cool-Whip and caramel and hot fudge. Top it by sprinkling the Heath pieces on top. Freeze overnight! It is delicious!

Exported my Bookmarks

I recently got a new laptop. It is a very cute, green Dell mini. The problem...I have a bunch of bookmarks on my existing laptop. Today, I finally got around to exporting my bookmarks into a list. Since I cannot figure out how to post my list on here, I have placed it on my wiki here:

Enjoy browsing my bookmarks! Now if only I could organize them on Diigo or Delicious :)

A Few Twists on a Great Lesson

I came across this idea for "Character Scrapbooks" from @mwedwards and @artysteph26. I thought about these as a twist on that lesson...

Students create a glog over a character in the story. The glog must contain the following with page numbers for textual evidence:

Three things I know about ......

Three words that describe .....

Three details about .......'s appearance

Three facts about ........'s personality

Three challenges .......... face

Three accomplishments .......... achieved

Students could also create a wordle, a sliderocket, a prezi, a scrapblog, or even a storybird containing this information.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Misc sites and GRE goodies

I am preparing to take the GRE. I am super nervous about this test. In preparing for the test, I stumbled upon VocabSushi. It is pretty challenging and entertaining at the same time. My buddy, SHansen, also gave me these sites:

When looking for useful search engines, someone mentioned Mashpedia. I like this search engine. It brings up top news, trending people/topics, and search results contain videos, flickr images, and social media mentions.

60SecondRecap is one I can appreciate as an English teacher at heart. You could use this 60SecondRecap as a trailer/teaser into a novel, as review along the way, or students could create their own 60SecondRecap as an assessment.

Guess the wordle is a game I played with my English classes. I would put together a wordle over vocabulary terms, characters in a story we were reading, or grammar concepts I covered that day. Part of their warm-up was to guess the wordle in their journal. @GuessTheWordle has a site called Guess The Wordle. It is fun to play and definitely a neat tool you could use in the classroom.

Three more sites I found this week are Livebinders, Web 2.0 Top 1,000 List, and How to Create a Tour in Google Earth. And if you like panoramas, check out - awesome images!

Have a great week! Also, if you have any tips, tricks, or sites that might help me with the GRE, let me know by leaving a comment or via Twitter @lisamonthie

My New Favorite Commercial