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This Map Directions Overlay Can Help Your Students

If you are in Ohio and you are going to Texas, what direction will you be traveling?

Build map skills with easy to make overlays from transparency film!

Sounds easy enough, right?  Right? Hello?

Map skills never really go away; they just keep building year after year. Students need a solid foundation to build on, or they remain confused.

We've been working on using cardinal and intermediate directions lately during social studies. 

So, here is the question again. If you are in Ohio and you are going to Texas, what direction will you be traveling?

If your students are like mine, they often struggle with questions like this. I've found a simple, easy to implement strategy for building this integral map skill.

I make my struggling students a transparent compass rose. How? Easy! 

Easy to make overlays to build foundational map skills
You can differentiate these transparent compass roses by using only cardinal directions, or by adding intermediate directions. You could just add the arrows without providing the actual directions, as well. 

To make one, you will need transparency film, a permanent marker, a hole punch, and scissors.

I lightly folded my transparency film into four equal parts. (Yes, it's hard to fold the transparency film, and yes, you can use a ruler instead!)

Make an overlay to differentiate for students struggling to understand directions
The hardest part is hole punching the center of the transparency piece. 

The trick is to bend, not fold, the transparency piece enough to hole punch it. You can see my struggle below. You don't want to have actual folds in the transparency.

Use overlays to build map skills!

Once the hole is in the center, you can use a permanent marker and a ruler to draw the lines to label the cardinal directions and possibly the intermediate directions. 

Remember that you can simply draw the lines without providing directions. The student would still have to correctly know how to apply directions in order to answer the question correctly. It all depends on the level of differentiation required.

Easy differentiation for struggling students

If you are in need of a map skills packet to practice more skills, I've got one available at my Teachers Pay Teachers shop. 

Creative Map Skills Project!
Click the picture above or below to visit my shop!

Map Skills - project and worksheets!
What adaptations have you tried? What works and what doesn't? I'd love for you to share some thoughts below in the comments!

Build Motivation with Easy-Peasy Student of the Week

Students LOVE to celebrate themselves and feel special! Let's be honest, we ALL like to be recognized and honored sometimes. 

I've started a Mini-Student of the Week display. I wanted a cute name for it, but the acronym for Student of the Week - S.O.W. - sow - in my neck of the woods - is a female pig. Not such a cute name to celebrate students! LOL!

I keep it very, very simple.

First, I assign all students a week of the year. The short weeks, like the week of Thanksgiving or the week before Christmas break, I don't assign at all.

Each student brings in a few pictures, trinkets, toys, etc. that are important to them. All I do is put them on display and allow the student a few minutes to talk about them. If the student can bring in some pictures, I hang those up as well. If the student forgets his pictures, I go to Plan B. 

My Plan B is to use student pictures that I take throughout the school year to make sure that EVERY student will have a few pictures to hang in the frame.

I have a basket of "medals" for students to choose from. These are from my Awards For Students and Staff resource at Teachers Pay Teachers. It has certificates and badges (paper medals) in several different colors. 

I have one more planned activity to celebrate our Specialness. I'm planning it as a surprise for a cold morning after everyone has had their turn. 

It's a Pancake Bar! I'd love to take full credit, but I haven't had it yet, and I got the idea from Pinterest. Here's the picture that I'm using as my Inspiration. It's from a blog called PB&J Babes and here's the Pinterest pic:

Don't you just want to DIVE into the picture? I know my class will swoon, but I also know that when we have our Pancake Party - it WON'T look like the picture above! I have a feeling that my students and I are more the batter-smeared-down-our-shirts types!

I'll take pictures and update you on how it turns out! Stay tuned!!

Question - How do YOU show your students that they're special? I'd love to add more ideas - help me out by leaving a comment!

FREEBIE - Multi-Step Word Problems Strategy

This resource is fresh in my mind because I just recommended it to a coworker. As I saw the product in action, I was reminded just how terrific it is {{if I do say so myself!}}
Solving multi-step problems is difficult for students, and this helps to break down the steps, providing confidence and a strategy to follow. 

Each page lists the CUBED procedure in a checkbox format, which is very similar to CUBES, except that the "D" stands for "Draw a picture." Students are encouraged to draw a picture to help promote comprehension and problem solving.

FREEBIE - did someone say "Freebie??" Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers Store for a FREE SAMPLE - try it out and see what you think! 

I love the twist on CUBES - drawing pictures really helps visual learners make the story problem concrete enough to visualize and solve.
Try this worksheet FREE! Click on the picture to visit my store!
Like what you see? Follow my Blog (in the upper right hand corner) and Follow my Teachers Pay Teachers Store for more FREEBIES and UPDATES!

NO PREP Woodland Animals Unit Your Students (And YOU!!) Will Love!

Need a complete literacy unit that your students will LOVE? This is it!

This unit covers reading, technology, writing, and science, and even has some history thrown in, for good measure! It took my class about three full weeks to complete, but you can easily adjust this unit to fit your class's needs based on grade level and ability. 
The resources in this unit all come separately, so mix and match - use what you need! All resources promoted in this post include links so that you can quickly and easily find what you need!

Let's start with the mentor text for this unit. I'd like to introduce When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike, by Michelle Houts and published by Ohio University Press. Every time I read this book, I appreciate it even more! The illustrations are incredible!

My students have developed quite an appreciation for Grandma Gatewood and they absolutely LOVE this book! I keep two copies in my classroom and they are constantly in use.

First, you have a protagonist (We called her the "hero" until my class became familiar with the word "protagonist") who is quite a surprise! For one thing, she was a woman; she was 67 years old; and she had a growth mindset long before a "Growth Mindset" was cool to have!
We discussed the idea that she was born in 1887 (No, there weren't any tv's back then! OMG! - No video games!), and that the story took place in 1955. We talked about her having 11 children and 23 grandchildren.

I was really trying to push the point that she wasn't a young teenager, she was actually old - elderly - a GRANDMA! Most of the children understood that their own grandmas would NEVER be able to go hiking, climb mountains, and sleep out in the rain. Most people - of ANY age - couldn't do that for days, weeks, and months on end! At age 67, this grandma hiked 2,050 miles carrying only a baby bottle for water, a shower curtain for cover, and wearing the standard high top sneakers that were available in the 1950's! No fancy hiking gear!
It wasn't an easy trek - Emma Gatewood had some setbacks, but she never gave up. It's a true story of perseverance, bravery, positive attitude, and growth mindset!

I highly recommend this book - you and your students will ABSOLUTELY LOVE it!

The When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike book study pack features anticipation guides, a mini-book for students to create, a comprehension tri-fold, characterization pages, problem-solution pages, vocabulary cards, graphic organizers, and Growth Mindset banners and more! Everything that you and your students need to DIG into this incredible book!

My students were so eager to learn more, that we leapfrogged the topic of woodland animals for science, and began using Woodland Animal Adaptations from Two Boys and a Dad Productions.

I'll be honest - technology is something that I'm still learning to incorporate into my teaching. My students LOVE using it, and teachers at my school are strongly encouraged to incorporate it. I wasn't feeling very confident, but I took the plunge and bought this resource from Two Boys and a Dad Productions at Teachers Pay Teachers. I'm so glad I did!

This Interactive Digital Notebook fits beautifully into this unit, and my students LOVED watching the videos and completing the numerous activities about woodland animals!
If you are like me, you might be saying, "What is an Interactive Digital Notebook?" I mean, what does that even mean? After using it, I would tell you that it truly is a student workbook that is on the ipad (or student computer)! My students completely ATE IT UP! I had to keep slowing them down. They wanted to do it all in a day! How's that for motivation??

Here is how I used it with this unit:
After purchasing it, I read through the directions - very easy to follow. Trust me, if I can do it - YOU CAN, TOO! :) After following the detailed instructions, the digital notebook was magically on every student's ipad!

Next, I decided which slides were going to be our main focus during whole group, and which slides would be worked on independently by my students. Our main focus slides were completed as assignments for a grade and with me guiding them along. The other slides were not used as a grade - only because of the time factor (don't even get me started on how there's never enough time! OMG!)

Each day, a new slide (or two) were discussed and assigned. Easy as that!

In addition, the test practice aspect is a FABULOUS bonus! We used ipads for this lesson (which we will also be using for our state testing), and being able to practice clicking on links, focusing attention on videos, reading from the ipad, typing, dragging and dropping, and all of those other skills are tremendously important.

Much of this was new to my students, and the extra practice was INVALUABLE. I'm thrilled to recommend this resource that has so much to offer!

Because my students LOVED the woodland animals so much, I wanted to continue the excitement, and I developed a product combining the book When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike, and the Woodland Animals Interactive Digital Notebook.

It is my Woodland Animals Nonfiction Pack! The focus here is to develop better readers who learn to look back in the text to find evidence of their answers. AND IT WORKS! And my students ENJOY it! Yes, I really did just say that! LOL!

This resource can be used with or without the other resources in this unit. You receive 8 nonfiction passages and a BONUS passage about the Appalachian Trail - which ties this whole unit together in one EASY-PEASY UNIT!

I printed the student copies in black and white, and used the color copy on my Smartboard for whole group instruction.

I use the colored page to project onto my Smartboard for whole group instruction.

These no-prep text passages are high interest for students and easy to use for teachers! Simply make the copies, and you are ready for class!

Students read the text passage (I encourage them to read the passage twice - sometimes orally with partners) and questions. Students look back in the reading to find answers and mark them with the color indicated by the question. Then they write the answer to the question.

Once the answer is identified in the text, students write the answer in a complete sentence. We've been learning to turn the author's words into their own words to answer questions. My students want to simply copy the sentence from the passage - which works sometimes - but other times they need to think it through and change the words. That takes thought and practice.
Finally, we've been working hard in class to build a strong Growth Mindset and learning to turn their "I can't!" into "I can!" It's a process because my struggling students have met failure after failure at school. I know you have strugglers in your class, too, and this is a positive way to support them and promote positive thinking.

Displaying student work is always good practice - not only does it fill students with pride, it also keeps their personal goals front and center. Plus they get to show off their brilliant artwork! Please note that the Grandma Gatewood Book Study includes a Growth Mindset worksheet and two Growth Mindset Banners made specifically for Grandma Gatewood.

And did I mention that When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike is the perfect book to use with any and ALL Growth Mindset lessons!?!? Well, it is! It is a true story of perseverance, determination, and the power of positive thinking!

Finally, I decided that we would be combining writing in this unit too, so we began making mini-books . . . but that's for another time! Look for Part 2 - the writing portion - coming soon to a classroom near you!

Just to get you started and encourage you to check out the new book When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike, here is a FREEBIE for you and your class to enjoy! Just visit my Teachers Pay Teachers Store and download your tri-fold for a quick taste of the book, the book study, and the simplicity of having this unit all set up and ready to go!

When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike by Michelle Houts (author), copyright 2016 Ohio University Press.  This material is used by permission of Ohio University Press, www.ohioswallow.com.
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