“Black Brother, Black Brother” by Jewell Parker Rhodes – Novel Guide

"Black Brother, Black Brother"by Jewell Parker Rhodes - Novel Guide

“Black Brother, Black Brother”by Jewell Parker Rhodes – Novel Guide

“Black Brother, Black Brother” by Jewell Parker Rhodes is a new timely middle school novel that explores a number of themes; racial prejudice, family, coming of age, resilience, bullying, identity, etc. Rhodes never fails to tell a wonderful story and weave a message of positivity and strength. What I love about Rhodes is her detached objectivity. She is able to present her characters for who they are and expose their humanity, unburdened by the North American cultural burdens and blind spots. This is also why middle school students enjoy her works so much. “Black Brother, Black Brother is so much more than a story about a boy who was bullied at a racially non-diverse school. It’s a story of a boy who learned to “win with his mind”. It’s the ideas that make or break us individually and as a group. Donte learned to reject the false ideas and see bullies for what they are, break away from feeling like a victim, find a role-model, and figure out how to take personal responsibility. I can’t wait to share this novel with my class in the fall.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

 

EPISODE #158: Black Lives Matter for Middle Schoolers

https://lgbpodcast.libsyn.com/jewell-parker-rhodes-2020

 

House Arrest – by K.A. Holt – Novel Guide

"House Arrest" - by K.A. Holt - Novel Guide - Distance Learning

“House Arrest” – by K.A. Holt – Novel Guide – Distance Learning

House Arrest – by K.A. Holt is a must-have and read for middle school grades. This novel in verse tells the story of a boy who tries to do anything he can to help his brother. K.A. Holt does a wonderful job depicting raw emotions and reactions of a middle-schooler to a life that is anything but fair. Timothy has one goal, which is to help his baby brother get the medical help that he needs, and he goes to a great distance to get it, even getting out of his comfort zone and risking public embarrassment to reach his goal. This inspiring story will stay with students for a long time and has earned a permanent place on our classroom shelf. Selected by a reluctant reader, enjoyed by all.

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

Teaching Middle School Math in the Time of Corona

Middle School Math - Year Round Lessons

Middle School Math – Year Round Lessons

Challenges of 7th Grade Math During an Epidemic

7th grade math is challenging. It is the first time students really immerse themselves in learning algebra. They leave behind elementary math and basic operations to take a new step towards more complex thinking. Teaching and learning 7th grade math is the most rewarding experience. Seeing students master new concepts and have fun learning math is a feeling like no other. All this can be done in the classroom, seamlessly. Learning and teaching 7th grade math online is another story. To compensate for limited daily Zoom session, we worked on math problems throughout the day. Often, going over problems at 10 p.m., when teenage students are most alert. My students experienced and voiced frustration over distance learning. Each unit came with stages of online learning, which can be summed up to 1. Ha? 2. I don’t get it. 3. I know what I don’t get. 4. Oh, that makes sense.
As the year is coming to an end, the learning pains of online platforms will stay with us for good. In a way, we were far away from each other, but close to interact every day, throughout a day, and get where we need to be. Even if it took us 5 times longer.

 

Middle School Math Units and Lessons:

Equations and Expressions - Middle School Math

Equations and Expressions – Middle School Math

Probability Unit- Middle School Math

 

Percent Unit - Middle School Math

Integers - Addition and Subtraction

Integers – Addition and Subtraction

Converting Fractions into Decimals - Middle School Math Lesson

Converting Fractions into Decimals – Middle School Math Lesson

 

Digital End of the Year Memory Book

Digital Memory Books - End of the Year Keepsakes

Digital Memory Books – End of the Year Keepsakes

End of the Year Memory Book – The end of the school year tradition of creating keepsakes is changing this year. We can’t go back to the classroom to make keepsake boxes with students’ arts and crafts. Most kids are not even getting a yearbook due to Covid-19. Keepsakes are treasured by all, parents, students, and teachers. Each year marks a magical growth of little humans. Things they liked…things they hated… things they learned… In my classroom every year we create a memory book. We pen down our growth, likes, dislikes, best friends, favorites (activities, movies, books, friends) things we will miss and not … and all kinds of other stuff. Since we are not in the classroom to make our memory books together, I created a digital file as well to create and share.

Free – End of the Year Class Awards

FREE - End of the Year Class Awards

 
Mrs. Lena, M.Ed. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Teach Your Child to Read

Teach Your Child to Read

Teach Your Child to Read

This isn’t my first post about teaching reading and I have a sense not the last. Every teacher a reading teacher – has been a mantra of teachers everywhere. We all teaching reading, no matter the grade or subject that we teach at the time. Reading is the most important skill that we teach our kids. From reading comprehension to analyzing math questions, it all comes down to reading. For anyone trying to help their child learn to read or figure out the science behind reading progression, Coursera is offering a free course: Supporting children with difficulties in reading and writing. It’s informative and will make a huge difference whether you are a parent or a teacher.

“Broken Strings” by Walters & Kacer – Novel Guide – Google Classroom

Broken Strings" by Eric Walters & Kathy Kacer - Novel Guide

Broken Strings” by Eric Walters & Kathy Kacer – Novel Guide

“Broken Strings” by Eric Walters & Kathy Kacer – a future Newbery Award Winner –  is a must read for middle schoolers. This captivating story held our attention until the very last page. Fiddler on the Roof, the world’s most popular musical has made our class bucket list. “Broken Strings” is filled with symbolism of loss and broken things that are repaired and given a second change through perseverance, tolerance, and courage. This is a story of heritage, history, and identity, with timeless themes of human experience that transcend generations and continents. A must read.

 

 

 

Broken Strings" by Eric Walters & Kathy Kacer - Novel Guide

FREE Easter Fun Worksheets

Happy Easter Worksheets

Happy Easter Worksheets

Easter Fun Worksheets

Resources for Google Classroom

Google Classroom Resources

Google Classroom Resources

Teachers and students everywhere have started their online teaching and learning journey due to COVID – 19. In my previous post, I noted some currently free resources for students and teachers. The transition from the traditional classroom to this new online environment has been an interesting experience so far. There is no outline for expectations when it comes to the learning load. How many hours should a 7-year-old spend learning online? How about a 12-year-old? What do we need parents to do? What about students who are stuck living in big cities on quarantine? How much engagement can we expect, being that millions of kids are confined to their homes with no access to parks or physical activity? This year I am teaching 7th grade and find that some things work well and other things, which in theory should be easy, actually don’t work at all. Some students who are the most engaged in class have a hard time engaging online. The dynamic of distance learning is something to get used to. On top of that, we have a world pandemic looming over students’ mental health. My students love, love, love social studies. So one major thing is really working is using Google Classroom to study and discuss historical and realistic fiction. We are immersing ourselves in novel studies about Native American history, Holocaust, September 11th, racial prejudice, Spanish Flu, water shortage in Sudan, Indian partition, Syrian refugee & immigration,etc. Getting lost in the story of someone else’s life is making the current predicament go by a bit faster. Hopefully, by the time we are done with our yearly reading goals, we will be able to enjoy the outdoors again.

Click here for Google Class Resources

Stay healthy,

Mrs. Lena, M. Ed.

FREE Learning Resources – Available Through the End of the School Year

 

Zooboks - Digital Learning Resource

Zooboks – Digital Learning Resource

Ranger Rick Digital Magazines– My students LOVE these magazines. Now they are available for free through the end of the year. What I love about these magazines is that articles are interesting and in-depth. 

https://rangerrick.org/freedigital/

Ranger Rick Digital , Zoobooks Magazines, Zootles, Zoodinos & More… 

BrainPop – FREE access to teachers 

https://www.slooh.com/guestDashboard

Astronomy Lessons

A lot of kids love learning about space. Today, Slooh is starting a FREE livestream, 1-hour astronomy lessons at 4:30 p.m. EDT, and live telescope views from around the world. 

https://www.slooh.com/guestDashboard

 

 

Free Learning Videos

Free Learning Videos

The Kids Should See – Smart Videos 

Epic!– Read Amazing Children’s Books Online – FREE for Teachers and Their Students – until the end of June

NSTA – FREE Science Teacher  Resources

Teacher Vision – FREE for ALL for the next two weeks.

TIME for Kids – FREE Digital Library

Scholastic FREE Learn at Home Library

 

 

Teaching At Home During Coronavirus Learning Disruption

Learning At Home - Teaching Resources

Learning At Home – Teaching Resources

This Friday felt eerie. My school closed for the next three weeks, but really, it is anyone’s guess how long this might last. We were told to take home learning materials and prepare to teach online if the school is closed for longer. This time of uncertainty is going to be tough on all, kids and parents. After a week of break, everyone will be ready to return to learning. If you are a home-school parent or a parent who wants to teaching at home but don’t know where to start, TeachingHub Forum is compiling a library of resources for parents to use at home. TeachingHub is being created by a group of teachers and will start with resources for grades K-8. Whether you are teaching your child to read or teaching integers, the teachers will be able to provide free advice and direct you to available free resources. To receive an invite, send an email to mrslenamed@gmail.com with “TeachingHub forum invite request” in the subject line.

Stay Healthy!

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

 

 

 

 

Best Reads – Women’s History Month

Best Women History Month Books and Lesson Plan

Best Women History Month Books and Lesson Plan

Before She Was Harriet – Lesson Plan

Counting on Katherine – Lesson Plan

Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg? – Lesson Plan

So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth Long Walk to Freedom – Lesson Plan

Ruby Bridges – Through My Eyes – Lesson Plan

Vision of Beauty – by Lasky – Lesson Plan

 

New Black History Month Books

New Black History Month Books

New Black History Month Books

1.“Before She Was Harriet” – Cline-Ransome
2. “Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt” – by Hopkins
3. “Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13” – Helaine Becker
4. “Trailblazers: Harriet Tubman A Journey to Freedom”
5. “The Parker Inheritance” – Varian Johnson
6. “So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth Long Walk to Freedom” – Schmidt

“Horse Museum” by Dr. Seuss – Lesson Plan

"Horse Museum" by Dr. Seuss - Lesson Plan

“Horse Museum” by Dr. Seuss – Lesson Plan

Just in time for Read Across America / Dr. Seuss Day 2020, “Horse Museum” by Dr. Seuss is the latest Dr. Suess library addition. Unlike, most other Dr. Suess books that focus on rhyming and early language development, “Horse Museum” is a book about art history, Dr. Seuss style. As always, Dr. Seuss’s book encourages creative thinking and expression. Suitable for a wide range of elementary grades from Kindergarten to 6th grade. This book inspires students to draw and appreciate different types of art. Even though the book revolves around horses, the main lesson is that artistic styles not only differ due to age, region, and artistic style but also individual artistic expression and choice. There is simply no one right way to make art. Love it!!!!

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

"Horse Museum" by Dr. Seuss - Lesson Plan

“Horse Museum” by Dr. Seuss – Lesson Plan

Elephant Drawing outline Horse Drawing Outline Turtle drawing outlineRose Drawing Outlinebird drawing

Best Writing Assistive Apps for K-12

FREE Writing Pack

FREE Writing Pack

Most students struggle with writing. Writing is an ever evolving skill that can always be improved. Putting one’s ideas down on paper and making them clear and readable is hard enough, then comes editing and more editing. For students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, ESL students, and students with other learning differences, writing is an immense task. So much goes into writing, especially editing, which is a dreaded part of language arts.

FREE Writing Pack – Mrs. Lena’s Class

There are several assistive technology applications available at the time. What most classrooms need is writing assistive technology that students can use during their writing process. When it comes to revising and creating the final draft, good assistive technology provides students with the help they need and independence that they want.

 

Dyslexia Keyboard - by Ghotit Ltd. - Best Assistive Writing Apps

Dyslexia Keyboard – by Ghotit Ltd. – Best Assistive Writing Apps

Dyslexia Keyboard – by Ghotit Ltd. is the best keyboard for K-12 classrooms, and its price is a true bargain for the benefits it delivers. It provides quick-spell word prediction, phonetic word prediction, grammar, and spelling correction, read – text- aloud, reading assistance (word pronunciation is a huge help for ESL students as well), integrated dictionary, the most liked by my students, voice-to-text capability, and so much more. It’s easy to use, intuitive, and educational. It’s perfect for students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, ESL students and students with other learning differences. However, from my experience, students of all ages and skills find it useful. It allows students to check their work independently. You can read more about this truly comprehensive writer assistance tool here.

Dyslexia Keyboard - by Ghotit Ltd

Dyslexia Keyboard – by Ghotit Ltd

Dyslexia Keyboard - by Ghotit Ltd

Dyslexia Keyboard – by Ghotit Ltd

 

Easy Spelling Aid - Spelling & Dyslexia App

Easy Spelling Aid – Spelling & Dyslexia App

Easy Spelling Aid app – translator and dyslexia support app

Easy Spelling App provides spelling support, text-to-speech assistance, word and sentence pronunciation, as well as, foreign language translation. This app has a unique feature of “OpenDyslexic” font. The dyslexic font aids reading by using a font that has a heavier baseline and unique letter formation, which prevents letters reversal or turning. Super easy to use for students with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and students who are learning English.

Have Fun Teaching Writing!

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

Easy Spelling Aid - Spelling and Dyslexia App

Easy Spelling Aid - Spelling & Dyslexia App

Easy Spelling Aid – Spelling & Dyslexia App

 

 

 

 

“Counting on Katherine” by Helaine Becker – Lesson Plan

"Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13" - Lesson Plan

“Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13” – Lesson Plan

“Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13” by Helaine Becker- Lesson Plan; An inspiring story about Katherine Johnson, an African American NASA mathematician, and physicist, who saved Apollo 13 by calculating a safe passage of Apollo 13 back to Earth after an explosion. Her calculations didn’t contain mere numbers but also included her vast knowledge of space physics, which astronauts followed to travel back. Katherine Johnson made numerous contributions to the American scientific community in her long NASA career as a space mathematician and physicist. In 2015, at the age of 97, Mrs. Katherine Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. In “Counting on Katherine” Becker unfolds a story in a most captivating way. Katherine’s spirit and enthusiasm simply jump off the page. Mrs. Johnson’s life story is a story of achievement and her accomplishments are immeasurable. Such an amazing read!

"Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13" - Lesson Plan

“Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13” – Lesson Plan

“Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” – by Patricia Brennan Demuth – Novel Guide

 

"Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?" - by Demuth - Novel Guide

“Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” – by Demuth – Novel Guide

 “Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” – by Patricia Brennan Demuth is the latest book in Penguin’s Who Is? series. Published just in time for our January and February deep social studies dive. This book is a perfect complement to “I Dissent” Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark” by Debbie Levy. Justice Ginsburg’s biography is cross curricular endeavour of social studies and language arts. Perhaps, more importantly than any fact in the book is the exemplary life of Justice Ginsburg, who used her knowledge and position to pursue justice and fairness. Perseverance, positive attitude, and education opened doors for Ruth even though she faced numerous obstacles.

 

 

"Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?" - by Demuth - Novel Guide

“Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” – by Demuth – Novel Guide

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

 

“Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet” – Novel Guide

"Greta's Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet" - by Valentina Camerini - Novel Guide

“Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet” – by Valentina Camerini – Novel Guide

Great Thunberg was certainly the person of the 2019. She is a perfect role model for young people. Greta was able to bring awareness to the climate change cause and even more importantly awareness to the fact that nothing is being done about climate change. We read “We Are All Greta”, a great comprehensive book for students who are in middle school.

“Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet” by Camerini is geared towards younger students in grades 3-5. While Camerini’s novel is an easy read. It is also a perfect text to develop student’s critical thinking skills. While studying this text, we pull from other resources, analyze and debate Greta’s TED Talk, sources of high emissions, etc. The author does a good job presenting the issues and climate change cause(s), dwells a bit much on Greta’s Asperger. Please note that students with Asperger’s are extremely bright and logical people with a deep sense of right and wrong. They have a keen understanding of issues. People with Asperger don’t have a disability, but innate reasoning skills that are accompanied by intense interests.

Camerini’s ends her novel stating that there is no easy answers, which contradicts the whole Greta story. The scientific research is out. Governments do know what needs to be done. There are easy answers. The question is how long will it take us to take action. Lovely book with flawed ending, but perfect for text analysis and building logical and critical thinking. 

Mrs. Lena, M.Ed.

Free Reading Prep Comprehension App – Pekaboo Studios Giveaway

Reading Prep Comprehension 4+ Fiction & Non-Fiction Stories

Reading Prep Comprehension App – Grades 2-5; Fiction & Non-Fiction Stories

“Reading Prep Comprehension” App by Pekaboo Studios – Free for limited time. Perfect for independent silent reading time or group guided reading. Grades 2-5; Fiction and Non- Fiction stories.

Free Reading Comprehension App - Giveaway by Pekaboo Studios

Free Reading Comprehension App – Giveaway by Pekaboo Studios

Winter Pack – Readings About Winter

Winter Pack - Readings About Winter - Reading Comprehension Pack

Winter Pack – Readings About Winter – Reading Comprehension Pack

“Winter Pack – Readings About Winter” is written with older students in mind. Learning about winter is fun and important past primary grades, yet most books about winter are written for kindergarten level. There is so much to learn about winter past the basic information.
While most of us don’t enjoy fishtailing on snowy roads, we all remember enjoying snowboarding, sledding, or whatever one’s choice of winter activity was growing up. Students in grades 3-5 are ready for more interesting text about winter. In this pack we learn about the winter solstice, seasonal variations due to geographical location, types of winter precipitation in addition to snow, different types of snow (not all is good for snow building), snow as an insulator (why is it warmer when it snows?), trees in winter (are they dead or burned? are they hibernating?), types of hibernation (not all hibernation lasts all winter), and much more.

 

Winter Pack - Readings About Winter - Reading Comprehension Pack

Winter Pack – Readings About Winter – Reading Comprehension Pack

Winter Teaching Themes

Watching Snow Fall