Common Core Practice RI.6.2

When I started working with teachers two years ago upon CCSS roll-out in our state (which was slapped, tickled, and relabeled LAFS – Language Arts Florida Standards), it became clear there was going to be a void. Teachers I worked with and spoke to became nervous that there weren’t enough practice materials for students to master the new and more rigorous standards. I began creating resources for them, such as question stems, and they gave great feedback. As time went on, though, and the new state tests loomed on the horizon, I began to see that students in my district weren’t going to get enough test preparation. This was a function of the curriculum our district uses in English/Language Arts. I won’t elaborate beyond saying that it is completely void of any real, consistent, useful traditional assessments and how the curriculum potentially relates to what the students will see and be expected to demonstrate mastery on when they take the state assessment. I figured that if this was the case in my district, it was probably true in others. Based on this assumption, I began creating my CIM line. CIM stands for Continuous Improvement Model. It is based on the “I do,” “we do,” “you do” model of instruction. Students get three rounds of practice – once at the teacher level, seeing the metacognition that goes on during the problem-solving process; then in a guided setting, where the teacher can begin to see the areas needing focus and re-teaching; and finally, independently, demonstrating mastery or lack thereof. For those of you not familiar with the term CIM, I didn’t invent it. It comes from the reading curriculum our district uses, except we call them FCIMs – the “F” standing for (no, not that F word) Florida. Since the LAFS correlate pretty much identically with the ELA Common Core Standards, I just dropped the “F” and my CIMs are designed to help any student in a state with either Common Core or LAFS – or a state who did the same thing Florida did and just put a brand new coat of paint and called it a horse of a different color.

6th grade CIM RI2 d

I’ve gotten good feedback from these lessons, so I’ve continued my quest to fill the void. I’ve done almost all of 6th grade Reading Literature standards CIMs (putting the finishing touches on RL.6.7…it should be ready by next Sunday) and have started on the 6th grade Reading Informational Text standards CIMs. That’s what this post highlights: RI.6.2 (central idea and summarizing). This resource has three lessons. Lesson 1 is a scripted teacher lesson that presents questions and a passage, along with commentary and reasoning for students to hear the process aloud to see how the teacher arrived at the answers. Lesson 2 is a guided practice lesson where the teacher helps students reason and analyze their way to the correct answers with a little help here and there. Lesson 3 is an independent lesson where students must demonstrate that they can come to the correct answers on their own. The results of Lesson 3 dictate either re-teaching or moving onto the next concept. These resources aren’t units and they aren’t meant to be stand-alone products. They’re designed to be more like bell work or class starters. They’re only supposed to take about 7-10 minutes each. My plan is to have a full line of RL and RI CIMS for grades 3-11 (I’m not sure 12th grade would have much of a demand, since most states stop testing in either 10th or 11th grade), so you’ll periodically see blog posts from me about the newest CIM I’ve added to the line.

6th grade CIM RI2 b

6th grade CIM RI2 c

I have a free version you can test out if you think this might be something your students could use. The good news is that if you’re at all familiar with Common Core or LAFS you’ll know that the secondary standards are remarkably similar, so if you have some students who aren’t quite reading on grade level, the 6th grade series might be a good place to start to build some confidence. Of course, if you use it and you like it, leave some feedback and rate the product. It helps me reach my goals and improve my products. Thanks!

6th grade CIM RI2 a


Summer BOGO #3!

Have you been waiting to see what my newest summer BOGO will be? Well, the wait is over! For this week (from today through Saturday, 6/20/15), I have decided to offer a project BOGO. If you purchase my best-selling and highly-rated Probability Project, you will receive my Scale Model of the Solar System Project for free!

June BOGO 3

Both these projects are fabulous ways to assess your students’ understanding in a hands-on, authentic way. In the Probability Project (which is designed to take place at the END of a probability unit of study), students create their own carnival-style games, predict outcomes, play the games, record data, and analyze the data they’ve collected.

prob proj cover

In the Solar System Project (which is designed to take place at the END of a unit teaching scale and scientific notation), students research the planet sizes and distances from the sun in our solar system. Then, they create a scale model of the solar system and discuss (through writing) their processes.

scale model solar system

My students LOVED both of these projects, and I’m sure yours will, too. They are aligned to CCSS (Math), but would apply to any state’s standards regarding probability, scale, and scientific notation.

Depending on your standards and curriculum, these projects would be appropriate for students in grades 6-9.

I hope you’re having a great summer!

Follow this link to the BOGO offer!

Summer BOGO #2!!!

Maybe last week’s BOGO wasn’t for you. Maybe you teach something other than math. Maybe you teach English/Language Arts. Maybe you teach a subject where you teach students about non-fiction writing (persuasive, informative, research). Even if you’re not an ELA teacher, you are still (if your state has CCCS or something like it) responsible for teaching writing in the content area. But writing is a skill, and it’s a difficult one to master for many students. For many struggling writers, teaching writing in small, manageable chunks can make learning how to be a better writer more accessible. For many struggling writers, visual examples of what good writing should look like can make learning how to be a better writer an easier process.

For example, when teaching students how to write essays or papers, instead of simply assigning a paper (topic, prompt, etc.) and grading the finished result, try assigning specific parts one at a time. Spend a bit of time (1-2 days) just on writing quality thesis statements. Once students have mastered that, move on to instruction on additional components of the paper.

For example, pick an arbitrary topic and write an outline for a paper, talking about the process out loud to your students as you go through and write. Present students with sample topics to mock-outline to practice. Then when you assign the real topic, they’ll feel comfortable with making their own outline and produce a better end product.

For example, pick an arbitrary topic and write an essay, color coding the various elements (thesis statement – original or restated is red; supporting details are green; transition words are blue; arguments are yellow; refutations are orange; etc.). Then show students how the elements fit together so they can see how a thesis threads through a whole paper, or where transition words should appear, etc.

Of course, give your students consistent feedback using some sort of writing rubric. It might be your state’s writing rubric, but you might want something a bit simpler for less involved writing assignments.

Do these things sound like something you’d like to have or do in your classroom next year? Well, you are in luck! This week’s summer BOGO is a writing resource package. Purchase my best-selling and highly-rated How to Write a Basic Thesis Statement lesson and receive my best-selling and highly-rated Sample Outline for a Research Paper, my Writing Rubrics, and my Color-Coded Essay for free! This BOGO is only available through Saturday, June 13, so click on the link now to take advantage!

June BOGO 2

Summer Writing BOGO!

Summer BOGO!

Part 3 of my assessment series will be posted soon, don’t worry.

Right now, though, I’m excited to announce that I am having a BOGO on one of my most popular and best-rated products!

From now through Saturday (6/6/15), if you purchase my Independent vs. Dependent Variables 6th grade Math PowerPoint lesson, you’ll get the 6th grade math PowerPoint: Identifying Patterns and Writing Algebraic Equations for FREE! Both these lessons are Common Core Aligned with the Expressions and Equations strand. Both of them are very highly rated!

math bogo 1

Why not stock up now for next year?

You can also get an editable version of these lessons for free if you contact me for details!

Research has consistently shown that PowerPoints have a positive impact on teaching and learning in the classroom. They help keep teachers organized, focus, and on pace during a lesson. They capture students’ attention, improve focus and engagement, and help note-taking skills.  PowerPoint is also an easy way to integrate technology into your lessons, which is recognized to be an attribute of highly effective teachers.

So do yourself a favor: take advantage of this BOGO and be ready for next year!

Summer BOGO offer

Teachers are Heroes!

It’s true, teachers really are heroes! Teachers are leaders, nurses, parents, psychologists, social workers, friends, confidants, and so much more. If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to check out Teachers Pay Teachers, it has arrived! Today (only for a few more hours!) everything on the site – in every single store! – is at least 10% off! My store has everything 28% off! That’s right! If you’ve been eyeing that perfect lesson, activity, or resource, now is the time to stop by and stock up! There probably won’t be another sale until my birthday (that’s all the way in April, people!), so get test prep, Common Core and LAFS resources, math lessons, writing resources, reading activities, and so much more! And don’t forget, there’s a TON of free stuff on the site, too – not just my store, but hundreds – thousands (literally, there are over 70K stores on TpT!) – of stores with something for everyone. So no matter what or you teach – in a classroom K-12, early childhood, college, or even homeschool, there is something for you! Head on over and check it out!


Get your teaching resources while the getting is good!

Football freebie – 12/9/14

WOW! I mean, WOW. Congratulations to the 2014 football BIG TEN Champions, The Ohio State University Buckeyes! In an unbelievable display of dominance, the Buckeyes – with their 3rd (yes, 3rd!) string quarterback, Cardale Jones – showed no mercy to the Wisconsin Badgers as they shut them out 59-0. Now, of course, we have been selected to play against #1-ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1. (Don’t let me get started on the bizarre-o rationale of the selection committee…) So at least for several weeks, this will be the last football freebie for you, so take advantage!

In light of this monumental win, I have created a freebie unlike anything in my entire store! It is a completely new and unique product! There is a TON of research and science behind using song as a memory tool. There’s a reason people make millions of dollars to come up with jingles – they work. Well, if the advertising companies can capitalize on our brains’ ability to remember things when put to music, why can’t teachers?

When I first began teaching 10 years ago in Tucson, AZ, I began as a math teacher. For 3 years I taught Algebra I Honors to 7th and 8th graders. Somewhere along the way, I picked up (from a stellar colleague, although I don’t remember who, sadly) a tool to help students remember the quadratic formula. Now, I’m not sure if you’re the type of teacher who mandates that students memorize the quadratic formula or not, but when I taught, my students didn’t get formula sheets on their tests/quizzes, so they had to know their stuff. For lots of students, the quadratic formula was so new and had so much going on in it, it was nearly impossible to memorize correctly. As a result, when I heard this little ditty from a colleague of mine, I thought I’d give it a try (even though, to be perfectly honest, as a new teacher I didn’t think it would work…).

The quadratic formula song is set to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel.” The words are simply the formula: “x equals negative b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus four a c all over two a.” When I sang it for my students, they all scoffed at me and told me (not for the first time) that I was a complete and total dork. However, the first test after I taught them the song, I’ll be darned if I didn’t hear little voices across the room throughout the entire day all softly humming the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel.” In fact, the first time I heard it, I think I said, “Ah hah! Gotcha!” Out loud, or something to that effect. To which I am almost sure I received plenty of eye rolls.

Now, I know that you may not be a singer. Or you may be, but you just can’t figure out quite how to get the formula to sync up with the tune. To this end, I have provided for you, for free, a recording of me singing the quadratic formula song. I’m reasonably sure it’s not going to win any Grammys, but I’m all right with that. Also, this tune is in the public domain, so no worries about copyright. I will say as a caveat that I have had a cold for a week and my voice is still kinda phlegm-y and hoarse. So, yeah, take that for what it’s worth. I hope you and your students benefit from my little song!

quadratic formula song

Cheer hard for the Buckeyes to beat the Tide on January 1, 2015!

Football Freebie 12/2/14

Go Buckeyes! That’s right, The Ohio State University Buckeyes continued their dominance over that “team up north” this past Saturday and secured the victory in “The Game.” Back-to-back years of 40+ point games. It makes my Buckeye heart sing! I’ve already created and posted the football freebie for this week’s win. It’s the answer key to my popular product, 100 Content Questions for the novel, Tangerine, by Edward Bloor. It’s got answers to the 51 questions that have a single (or a few possible) “right” answers. I’ve received feedback from people who purchased this product that they would really like an answer key, so I decided to create one. If you teach Tangerine, you could always just download the answer key and have your students create the questions from the answers, Jeopardy-style. It does not include answers for the questions that are short-answer/extended-response or discussion.

Tangerine answer key


Oh, and don’t forget there are still a few hours left for the Cyber Monday (& Tuesday!) sale on Teachers Pay Teachers! Stop on by and check it out!


Visit my store today for extra savings!