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The Beginning of my Digital Year!

If you have been following along with Teaching in Room 6 lately, you know that I am mildly obsessed with using Google Apps in my classroom.  I love finding different ways to incorporate the GAFE (Google Apps for Education) into my lessons in a practical and authentic way.  (You can see some of what I have done so far here.)  I have access to at least 9 Chromebooks all year long (thanks to!!) so I am planning on getting my students up and running with GAFE starting on day one of school this year.

Free google slides project
Our first project will be a take on the whole "hold a frame up and take a picture" craze that is going on now.  I created this slide for each student in which they will get to use their basic Google Slides knowledge and insert a selfie (that they will take that day using the Chromebook) and some text boxes with general information about themselves.   I am hoping to do the same on the last day of school, but I think I will tackle the first day right now :)

You can pick up a free copy of the slides by clicking below on the grade level you need.
3rd Grade
4th Grade
5th Grade
6th Grade

It will automatically copy into your google account, so make sure you have one of those too.   I only did 3rd - 6th grades, as I figure they would have the skills necessary on the first day of school to complete this project semi-independently.  However, I had so many requests for literally every grade level, that I made them for you!  Click on the grade level links below to access the document.

1st Grade
2nd Grade
7th Grade
8th Grade
9th Grade
10th Grade
11th Grade
12th Grade

GAFE in use in an upper elementary classroom
As the first week continues on, I am going to have the students start to long range plan and keep a record of the important work samples that they complete this year.  Using this My Digital Yearbook file, the kids will be prompted to start thinking about themselves as a learner, writing their goals and aspirations for the upcoming year.

Then, after each month, I will have them complete a monthly page to insert into the Digital Yearbook.  They will take snapshots of their work samples, describe things they learned, and include pictures of important people in their school lives.
Using GAFE (google apps for education) in the classroom

I bought these great blank books at the Target Dollar Spot (rush there can get 8 books for $3!!), so I made the pages the correct size to fit inside. My students will be printing out the yearbook so they will have something to take home as a keepsake at the end of the year with me.   What is great though, is *I* don't have to keep any files of their work for this, as it is all housed in the students' Google accounts!  And if I didn't want to print it out, they have a digital copy of the file.  Win-win for everyone involved.

using google forms in a fifth grade classOne final GAFE project I have been working on and plan to implement on the first or second day of school is this Back to School Survey.  Now, usually I have the kids fill this in on paper.  I look at it a few times, place it somewhere, forget about it, and never go back.  So to avoid that paper trap, I have this Google Form that the kids will complete.  I, again, will have digital access to their information without having to use paper to gather it.  It will remain in my Google account for easy access if I do need the information in the future.

Here is a copy of the Back to School Survey as well.  You can edit it to suit your needs, but make sure that you click on the "responses" section to designate where your student response will be collected.  Don't forget that part...or you won't have any responses from your kids!!  :)

So that is about it for now.  Three things I plan to implement the first week of school using my chrome books and GAFE.  Do you have anything up your sleeve to share that you will be implementing?

Want more teaching ideas?  I share many on Snapchat come on over and follow me!

Reading "Bookshelf"

Today's post is going to be short and sweet (I know, I unlike me!)  Anyway, I just wanted to share with you my little "Bookshelf" door that I have put up in my room.  I tried my hardest this year to instill a love of reading in my students and wanted them to have a place to record their reading.  In the past I have done "What Are You Reading Now?" book rings.  While I feel like they were a good place for the kids to write down their reading, they just weren't visual enough.  So this year, taking inspiration from this pin, I put up some butcher paper and was on my way.

This was VERY easy to put up in my classroom.  I just covered one door with brown butcher paper, painted some brown lines to look like a bookshelf, and was done.  I added a "plant" to the top and the READ letters, just to give it some dimension.  And that was it.

Using a book spine clip art I found for free on the web (I just typed in "Book Spine Clip Art" and it was the first one that popped up), I instructed my students to write any books that they finish this fifth grade year on the spine.  In their reading journals, I had them copy the requirements for the spine.  Basically, they put the book title and author.  Then, on the little bottom portion, they wrote their own name.  After that, the students just need to tape up the book spine to add to our collection.

The students complete these when they walk into class each morning during silent reading time.  If they have no book to add, they don't do one.  It is that simple.  The system worked out splendidly.  The kids love seeing the bookshelf fill up and they are so proud when they can contribute a book spine to the wall.

By mid year, it looked like this.

I also had a place to record the exact number of books that we had read.

At the end of the year, I did notice that most of the spines had come from the same few kids, so next year, I am going to have to think of a way to combat that it bit better.  Not sure what yet, but something will change slightly to make sure that everyone is getting up a lot to add book spines.

What is something you do to help foster a community of readers in your classroom?

Greek and Latin Root Word Idea Bin

With Common Core fully in place in my state, one of the big standards that we teach in fifth grade deals with Greek and Latin roots.   In the past, I wrote a few posts about how I taught them (you can find the posts here), but it has been so long, that I thought I would share these ideas with you again.  I figure if *I* have to teach roots, you probably do as well. :)

root words, language artsI really don't have a Root Word program.  Basically, I teach my students 4 root words per week.  To introduce the words, I have the students create index cards with the root, the definition, and a picture of the meaning on the front. 

The back of the cards has sample words containing the roots, as well as meanings. They keep these flash cards all year long to study, create games, use during writing, etc....

For homework, though, I have actually tried to combine all of what I was doing before.  Now I have them use these AWESOME (yes, I just called one of my resources awesome.....because it truly is) Trifolds.  They are so easy.  So to the point.  And SO EFFECTIVE!  My kids really are digesting the roots because of these trifolds.  I am in love with them.

thinking maps,, education
Throughout the week, I have my students create Circle Maps divided into four sections for the roots (meaning, sentence with a word that shows the meaning, picture, and different sample words).  These are done in groups and have been very helpful with the retention of the roots.  Since they are discussing them, the roots become even more cemented in their brains.

I also added to the Word Wall that I was already doing.  Before, it was sort of hit or miss if I actually got around to putting the roots on the wall.  I was just lazy or forgetful or busy or....whatever other excuse I can put there.   But now I created some cards.  They are cut out and laminated and ready to be put on my new word wall each week.  I also have them posted up for the week, sort of like spelling words would be.

Finally, I have introduced Root Word Memory to my students (just this past week actually).  This is a game that they LOVE LOVE LOVE.  In fact, they beg me to play most of the time.  It is played just like regular memory however this time they are matching the roots to their meanings.  What makes this a highly effective game for learning the roots is that when the students turn over the cards, they say the meaning or root they are looking for.  If they turn over a pair that does not match, they say what they would look for on the second root too.  The simple act of talking out the roots and meanings during the game makes the kids super successful in learning them!

So there you have it.  A few different things that I have done in my classroom to help teach my students about Greek and Latin roots.  What do you do?

5 Great Websites to Use in Upper Elementary

Websites that can be used in upper elementary with the students.
As school winds down, and we begin to think of the upcoming year, I thought I would bring you some *must use* websites in your upper elementary classroom.  Now, these websites aren't really sites that the KIDS use (although, I supposed they could).  These are websites that I, as a teacher, use WITH my students to enhance their education while in my classroom.  I wouldn't just put a list of these up for the students to peruse on their own.  Again, the kids *could* use them, but I have found in my own experience that these really work well when I am using them as part of my lessons.

1.  Go Noodle

I know that some people think this site is for younger kids only, with the silly little videos they have.  But honestly, my fifth graders beg me for it.  Truly.  Every chance they get, the kids want to do the Koo Koo Roo songs, or get moving with the Fresh Start Fitness guys.  It is a wonderful way to get a little exercise in to a very sedentary day.

Recommendations:  The Brainercise exercises are very short brainteaser type things (do something with your left and right hands at the same time in opposite directions) that get the kids quietly thinking and moving.  My fifth graders really, really like these.

2.  Study Jams
If you teach any sort of math or science course, this site is for you.  There are short cartoon videos with kids explaining all different science and math concepts.  I personally use this in my room with my fifth graders to help explain all things physical science related.  The way the videos are written makes it so easy to explain difficult concepts to the students.

Recommendation:  The weather videos take particularly difficult concepts of fronts and air masses and make them relatable to the students.
3.  Brain Pop

I use this site for everything.  Again, like Study Jams, it has short little videos that explain all sorts of concepts from Christopher Columbus to September 11 to grammar concepts and all things science.  There are quizzes and even a Brian Pop community with lessons written by teachers that you can use that incorporate these videos into your class.  Here is a lesson I described that used the Columbian Exchange videos as the backbone.  This is a paid subscription site though, with a *few* free videos available.  If you have a little extra money in the budget, I highly recommend using it on this site!

Recommendation:  Pretty much any of the social studies and science videos are worth watching, but my class particularly enjoyed the Water Cycle video and the Periodic Table. (we did use it A LOT for science concepts.)


If you want to get your students excited about computer coding, this site is perfect!  My students (and my own children) LOVE LOVE LOVE this site.  They could literally play for hours.  What the makers of this site have done is take popular cartoons and turn them into coding games.  The kids learn different ways to code computers, and make the cartoons do what they intend for them to do.  It is easy and addicting and, most importantly, thought provoking.   I wrote an entire post about how my kids use this program here.  They had a great time on the site, but more importantly learned code.  They learned how to do something that most of the population doesn't know how to do or thinks is too hard to even try.  It made them feel uber smart when we completed it.

Recommendation:  Start your students with the Hour of Code section (which is what I linked to in this post)   It is a great way to get the kids into the coding. 

5.   Learn Zillion

Have you ever tried teaching a math topic that you were just not super sure about?  You know what to do in your head (or you don't ;)) and it isn't getting through to your students?  Learn Zillion has been my answer to that.  There are videos for every conceivable math topic that out there.  What is best is that there are ALTERNATE strategies than just the plain old regular algorithm, which really helps in this time of Common Core.

Recommendation:  The videos for using the area model when multiplying decimals is great.  It really helped me to see what was going on, as well the kids.  We learned together on this one!

So there you have five different sites that I personally use in my own classroom.  Want to read about even more sites that educators find valuable?  Here is an entire thread on my Facebook Page where teachers like us have listed off sites they have used in their rooms.

What websites do you use and love in your room?

Dear Teacher in the Prime of Your Career

Advice for teachers at every stage in their career

Dear Teacher in the Prime of Your Career,

Well, you are finally here, that sweet spot in this journey we call teaching.  You have made it through those tumultuous first few years (that you didn't even know were tumultuous until you were through them) and have landed in this place where everything is just....easier.   Not to say that it is easy by any means, but now you are able to cope better with what is being thrown at you.  Your confidence in your abilities has grown, enabling you to take everything in stride, knowing that whatever you do, children will benefit and grow.

When you walk into your classroom each morning, it feels like your second home.  You have spent so much time there, that everything is just comfortable.  To make things so comfortable, you have  carefully curated it over years and years of begging, borrowing, and buying.  While the buying in bulk may have slowed down, you are still always on the lookout for a deal and love when Scholastic has their books on sale for $1.  You know all of the stores that give teacher discounts and aren't afraid to ask if you aren't sure.  You frequent the Dollar Spot at Target and are an expert at repurposing.  All of this has helped you create a space you want to be in for years of your life.

You have seen this profession change more times than you can count, but you also know that with each change comes a chance to try something new and expand your bag of tricks.  You scour blogs and try new things in your room constantly.  You look at trends and take what you know will work, try out things that you aren't sure about, and leave the ideas that are really just a flash in the pan.  But even with all of the experimentation and risk-taking,  you still have some great tried and true lessons that you know will be a hit with any and all classes.  You keep those at your disposal and are able to adapt them to the ever-changing needs of your students.  Your experience serves you well.

But now, teacher in the prime of your career, as you move on into the twilight of your career, you must keep up that momentum you have built.  Keep moving forward, learning, and growing.  Keep the students in the forefront as you adapt to an ever-changing environment in this world we call teaching.  Things will keep moving.  Things will keep changing.  But, if experience is anything, you will adapt just fine.

Who is also in her Prime

Click on any of the links below to visit the blog post about each of these other teachers. Chance are you'll be in one of these shoes sooner than you realize!

  An Open Letter to a New Teacher
  An Open Letter to the Teacher in the Prime of her Career
  An Open Letter to a Teacher in a Rut
  An Open Letter to a Teacher Toward the End  
  Open Letter to the Retired Teacher


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