Keeping Your Students Current on Current Events

I had sort of an "a ha" moment the other morning.  My students do not know about current events in our world.

A classroom discussion during snack lead me to the startling truth that:

  • 75% of my students could not tell me one single current event happening in the world right now.
  • 40% did not have a favorite sports team, nor could they tell me the basic rules of popular games like baseball or basketball.
  • 100% of my students have never read a newspaper or could even tell me the different sections within the newspaper.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Now, those of you who follow my blog regularly know that I do teach a special needs population.  However, I truly believe that even my general education teachers can relate to this rapid decline of current event knowledge within their classrooms.

After some digging around, I came up with a short list of excellent resources to help our kids stay on top of current events and social topics happening in our world today.

These great resources can easily be added to your already jam-packed school day by discussing articles during snack, watching videos as part of your morning meeting.  Or, maybe adding a current event article as part of your ELA curriculum.  Take a peek:

I love this website because not only does it have engaging, up-to-date news articles for kids, but at the end of every article, there are comprehension questions for the students. Kids can scroll through book and movie reviews...written by other kids.  There is also a CCSS tab that gives teachers helpful suggestions for meeting academic standards.

News designed with the kids in mind.  Love it.  These articles are geared for students in grades 2-8.  At the end of the article, they have writing and discussion prompts at both junior and intermediate level.

Time for Kids
Sign up for a membership and receive extra access to videos and lesson ideas.  Time for Kids is available in both hard and digital copy.  I display these magazines in my library, and the kids really enjoy thumbing through them during free reading time.

CNN Student News
Geared toward middle and high school students, these quick, 10 minute videos cover major, daily news stories happening across the globe.  Great to play each morning or afternoon as the start or end to a day.

Smithsonian TweenTribune  
Interesting articles mainly covering scientific topics.  You have the ability to choose articles based on grade level interest and reading levels.

I made these little current event quick write slips to be used as exit tickets in my classroom.  Click on the image below to grab this free resource, and assess how your students are understanding and interacting with non-fiction text.

What are You Reading Linky

This month I am reading Strategies that Work by Stephanie Harvey and Ann Goudvis.  This little suggestion came from Melissa (Got to Teach) on Elementary Snapshots last month.

The book covers 6 easy strategies that will help improve students' reading comprehension.  It offers lots of suggestions on shared reading and how to model the 6 strategies for your students.

In her post, Melissa was also kind enough to offer some FREE strategy posters for your classroom that directily align with this text.  Click on the picture below to grab the free posters.
Photo Credit: Melissa, Got to Teach
Click on the book image to shop this read on Amazon.

Finally, click on the Focused on Fifth button to check out what other upper elementary teachers are reading this month.

Products for Pay Day

I am a few days late for our Products for Pay Day linky...but better late than never, right?

Every year, without fail, I notice that my students struggle with the concept of equivalent fractions.  In both my general ed and special ed classrooms, this concept poses as a real challenge for my students.

This year, I am using some fun, interactive centers as spiral review and to keep the concept fresh.

I LOVE Pick, Flip, and Check because it teachers the students about independence and self-monitoring.  On one side of the card, the students must solve to find the equivalent fractions for the fraction in the middle.   Then, they clip their answers and flip the card to see if they are correct.

Students can play this independently, or with a friend to see who can collect the most correct cards.

The second center I am rotating is my equivalent fractions flower puzzles and spinner games.

I love this product because it allows for lots of differentiation when printing in either color or black and white on colored paper.

I also love that the spinner game can be used for either single or multi-player use.

To purchase my Pick, Flip, and Check game click here and to download my Equivalent Fractions Spring Centers click here.

Also, before you leave, be sure to download my St. Patrick's Day clip art freebie to get your materials ready for this month's upcoming holiday!

To stock your shopping cart with more great products, hop on over to Focused on Fifth to see what other teacher bloggers are talking about.

February What are you Reading Linky

For those of you who follow this lil' blog, you know I teach a special needs population.  This year, my students' reading levels range from first grade to sixth grade.  Yikes. A pretty large span.

Because of my students' learning and behavioral struggles, reading is a daunting task.  Many of their disabilities prevent them from experiencing the wonders of a great book.  

Leaving for winter break, I was determined to find a solution.  I wanted my students to experience the joys of literature...the fun that comes along with tracking plot structure, analyzing themes, discussing how characters can grow and change, etc...

Enter, The Hunger Games.

I ordered a class set of books through Scholastic, along with the audio CD.  I didn't want my students stressing over reading this book themselves.  I simply wanted them to relax and enjoy the captivating story. 

Well, let me tell you, it was the best decision I made all year.  The kids are LOVING the book and ask all the time for us to listen.

To get the kids pumped for the novel, I had our door decorated and The Hunger Games soundtrack playing when they arrived to class.

We also watched the trailer to give a little visual background of the story.

Tracking Plot Structure

I found these fun plot structure labels from The Primary Girl.  As we progress through the story, the kiddos move the main characters across the plot structure diagram.  This is an excellent visual to help my students grasp the idea of plot.

Making Connections and Comparing and Contrasting using Different forms of Media
I love that The Hunger Games movie so closely depicts the novel and that we are able to use the movie as an extra resource for making connections.  We discuss the similarities and differences between the book and movie and the reasoning behind the differences (i.e., how the movie needs to show character thought differently than the book).

Rather then waiting until the end of the book to watch the movie, we watch a little bit at a time.  I find this keeps the kiddos really engaged and motivated to continue reading.  They love seeing the story come to life.

Tracking Themes and Citing Textual Evidence
To assess that my students are comprehending and tracking themes properly throughout the novel, I have them jot down one or two examples of themes throughout the book/movie as an exit ticket each day after class. I love how simple, yet effective these interactive theme charts are.

To check out what others are reading in their upper elementary classrooms, click on the Focused on Fifth button below!

Simple Organization Hacks that you will Actually Use

How many times have you searched through Pinterest for awesome organization tips?  You gather up some ideas with the very best intentions for using these tricks in your home or classroom, yet...they just don't pan out??  Guilty.

As a busy, first time mom, easy-to-use classroom organization is a must.

For this upcoming year, I am looking for organization systems that are easily maintained and will actually be useful beyond just one week after putting them in place.  Here are some ideas I am loving.

Chalkpaint File Cabinet by Design Improvised
What a simple, cheap way to stay on top of your to do's! Pick up a can of chalkboard paint and go to town on your file cabinets.  Don't have a file cabinet in your classroom?  I am thinking the side of your teacher desk is another easy area to do this little project.

Clean and Comfortable Drawer Organizer by Tales of a Tenacious Teacher
Kelli always has the greatest ideas.  She is one of my top go-to teachers for fun, yet practical strategies for your classroom.  I love this little "keep me together" drawer she made for her classroom.  This bad boy holds all her grooming essentials to keep her feeling fresh all day.

Receipt Organization by I Heart Planners
Receipt Organization 12
How many times have you needed to go back for that receipt and you just couldn't find it?  This little hack is super useful for my personal life, but I am also loving this idea as a way to keep my school purchase orders in check as well.  You simply label the inside tabs by month and file the receipts into their correct slot.

Clothespin Reminders by Decorating your Small Space

I am always jotting little reminders on stickies.  Yet, there is major danger that those little stickies will get lost.  With this clothespin hack, simply string a wire or attach magnets to the back of the clothes pins to stick them on a metal surface.  Voila!  Now you can jot down your easy-to-forget notes and pop them on a clothespin until you can mark the reminder on your calendar.

What are some quick organization tips you are loving right now?  I would love to read your comments below.

December - What are you Reading Linky

Happy Monday, my teacher friends.  I am excited about this month's linky since it comes right before our winter break, and I have my book ordered and ready for me to dive into.

We are (hopefully) getting Chromebooks for our classrooms soon...and I want to be fully prepared for making the most use out of those bad boys.

So, I just ordered Using Google Docs in the Classroom to better familiarize myself with the many possibilities Google Docs can offer my students.

I ordered the book for grades 4-5, but you can also order this book for grades 6-8.

To check out what the other bloggers at Focused on Fifth are reading this month, head on over to the blog by clicking the button below. 

May Your Classroom Be Merry and Bright: Creating a Positive Classroom Environment

I am blogging at Focused on Fifth for Day 11 of our holiday link up.  Today we are talking about seasonal tips for instilling a positive classroom environment.

I am using two popular strategies...with a holiday maintain a positive classroom environment this holiday season.

My students are getting a kindness boost with these jolly gems and Little Hope, our kindness snowman. 

These mini stockings from the Dollar Store are helping keep tabs on my students' good deeds. 
To learn more about Little Hope, our kindness snowman, and Have you Filled a Stocking?, our spin-off from the popular book, Have you Filled a Bucket?click on this link to read about what we are up to in my classroom.

Have some thoughts on creating a positive classroom environment?  Either leave a comment below, or join in on the link up by adding your blog.  

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