Sunday, July 29, 2012

My Newest Video–Making Words Center

Word Families have proven to be a universal tool for teaching English Language Learners.  I have used them to teach students from ages 4 – 15.  The pictures that I have for each word in the word family help them to associate the meaning of the word with the phonics clues.  This weekend my son helped me to make a video for you guys. Here’s the video:


You can grab the ACK Family Making Words Center for FREE at my Teachers Pay Teacher Store.  The other 40 Word Family Making Words Centers are $0.99 each, or you can get all 41 for just $12.00.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources   Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Goal Setting For The New School Year

With the next school year just off in the distance (don't worry it's still a ways off- but you can see it if you squint and tilt your head to the left) I'm going to take this time to talk about goal setting.

As teachers, we get the benefit of a fresh start with each new school year. It's a new beginning, not only for us, but for our students. It's important that we periodically assess how we're doing (both teachers and students) and think about what we'd like to improve to be more successful. Summer break is the perfect opportunity for teachers to take a bit of time, and really evaluate their previous year and choose a few things that they would like to work on in the following school year to improve their craft.
"All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do."
- Norman Vincent Peale

My personal "biggie" is around differentiation. I am always working on it and I always feel as though I could be doing more to include all of my learners, more of the time. Things get hectic and kids get lost - those at the bottom often get the most help, while those kids in the middle and definitely those at the top can get neglected if I'm not careful. I'm personally doing a lot of professional reading this summer, to try to gain some new ideas and strategies and also to show myself that I'm not doing a terrible job. There are lots of things that I'm doing right now that are great (well not RIGHT's summer...right now I'm beaching with my know what I mean). I know that I'm like a lot of you out there - we're hard on ourselves! I don't know about you, but I want things to be done a certain way and I feel like I've failed when I haven't been able to get to "that" student.

Of course my goal needs to be more specific than "differentiation" and it is.  I've got a working list of goals under construction, actually. As I'm reading, I note the REALLY good ideas - I mean the absolute KEEPERS. It's easy to get lost in a great resource and end up not actually doing anything that you read about because there was just too much! So, I've been keeping a list while reading each book (I've had a couple on the go this summer). When I get to the end, I have a look at the ideas and strategies that were note worthy and just take the top ones and those become my focus, until a new "number one" comes along.

So far, my number one is to make better use of Bloom's Taxonomy. Mind-blowing? No. Simple to do? Not as easy as one would think. I find that when my students are really struggling, I come down to them with more knowledge/comprehension  type questions - just so that they may feel some success. The tricky part, is not spending too much time down there and being able to pull them up. So, to make better use of Bloom's Taxonomy by using menus, cubes, in my assignments and activities is one of my do-able goals for next year. It is a vital building block of my bigger goal - to differentiate more effectively.

Of course, I'm not alone in my classroom. Who am I doing all of this reading and thinking for anyway? My students!

During the first few days of school, I have my students also think about what their goals are for the school year. Do they want to improve their reading level, their spelling, finally learn their times tables? We need to put these goals into writing and share them if students feel comfortable - even post them in the room, if possible.

Think about it. If we're heading to a classroom every morning, but have no real idea about what we'd like to achieve while we're there, how much will we achieve? Perhaps some by accident. How much more could we have achieved with some thought, direction and ownership put into the task of goal-setting?

So, what goals do you have for the next school year and how can you help your students to identify theirs?

"Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life."
- Les Brown
To help get you inspired, I made two Quote posters for you, available on Googledocs!

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Global School Tour


The school year is beginning in many places, and as schools begin around the world, the authors of Global Teacher Connect are gearing up with two different projects to share our schools with the world.


Project #1 is our Collaborative Project “This is What MY School’s Like”, which allows you to get your kids thinking about what makes their school the same and different as other schools.  This project will be open until the end of September, so there is plenty of time for classes just starting up to use this global, collaborative project to start out the new school year.

Project #2 is more teacher based.  In this project, teachers will take pictures of their classroom and/or their school and post them on their blog.  The blog may be your class’ blog or your teacher blog, or any other blog your maintain.  Please post a link to the this post in your blog post, and then add your link to the linky party below with your city, state, and/or country in the title so that everyone can see what a school in your area looks like.

In addition, all of the authors from Global Teacher Connect will be sharing their posts about their classrooms right here on Global Teacher Connect on their first day of school – so be on the look out for a peek into classrooms from Morocco to China to Canada to South Africa coming soon!

****  If you are a homeschooling parent and you have a classroom set up at your house – you are free to participate in both projects, we’d be glad to have you involved, and we’d love your children to be able to see what classrooms look like all around the world!  ****


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Colours in the circus

Last week we learned 3 new colours.  I prepared this lesson for my niece( and she likes circus, clowns, acrobats, juggles, dancers...)I related the new colours to the circus theme.
I bought some plastic noses and color some orange, purple and green. I hide them around the house and asked her to go on a "clown nose hunt". She found all the noses and was surprised because she thought all the noses would be red. I taught her the name of the new colours.

Orange= Naranja
Purple = Violeta
Green= Verde

We used the posters to review and practice the colors when "making words" with the letter tiles cards.
These are the bilingual posters and the letter tiles cards for the theme (you will find English/ Spanish posters)                   

Download the posters and tile cards  in my blog
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Do We Really Need La vache qui rit

how do commericals affect meal choices - lesson plan
No matter what country you live in, it seems that there are commercials all over the t.v. and radio that are trying to convince children that they need certain brand name.  In the United States, the majority of the commercials seemed to be for fast food restaurants like McDonalds.  Here in Morocco, the big brand name presented on the commercials is La vache qui rit – a type of creamy cheese that of course has many knock offs.  Here’s a commercial we see on t.v. here:

Whatever the name brand that is marketed in your country, the kids watch these commercials and convince themselves that they must have this particular product.  If we take the time to address this with children early, we build stronger, more responsible citizens.  When I was addressing this with my third graders, I decided to convince them that their regular old graham crackers were actually special McDonalds graham crackers.  This lesson plan will help you address with your children whether a name brand affects the product you buy.  Grab it for just $1 at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 
What product do you see marketed to children in your country?
Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources    Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources
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Friday, July 20, 2012

Happy day from Argentina!

We celebrate Friendship day on July,20th in Argentina. So..have a wonderful day to all my blogging friends!
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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Re-Create the Tortoise and the Hare

Tortoise and the Hare - Response Journal - FREEDue to my recent move, I’ve had a bunch of time without internet, so I decided to use the time to get ready for the summer camp program I am teaching in next week.  We will have students with very limited English and we will be using the story of the Tortoise and the Hare to catch their attention and work on reading, writing, and vocabulary.  I put together this cute 20 page packet that we are going to work through a little at a time, which you can grab FREE at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

In addition to reading the Tortoise and the Hare, we are going to look at other “similar” stories from around the world – like the Fox and the Crab (where the crab wins the race by catching a ride on the Fox’s tail).  Does anyone have another “tricky race” type of story they could suggest for me?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Is there a Science Gender Gap at Your School?

The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), released in May, found eighth grade boys scored 5% higher in science than their female counterparts. A study published in 2011 by the National Science Foundation revealed the gender gap expands at the highest education levels, with females making up only 30% of employed science, engineering, or health doctorates.

A number of programs have sought to boost the number of girls pursuing science-related careers. NSTA wants to know if you think there is a gender gap between male and female students interested in science and what, if anything, your school is doing to close the gap. Let us know what you think by taking this short survey.” (Source:

As an intermediate teacher (in Canada, that would be grades 7 and 8) for the last seven years, I find the NAEP results to be disconcerting.  From my experience (purely anecdotal evidence and a small sample size), I found that girls enjoyed science classes, performed well on assessments, and participated during lessons and discussions. I have not really seen a gender gap in science or math in my classes, but it could be possible that the gap becomes more apparent in high school.

According to the National Science Foundation study (2011), the gender gap expands at the highest education levels.  It makes me wonder at what point some of these female students start to lose interest in science education or choose to no longer pursue further studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields.

What have you noticed in your classes and schools?  Do you notice a gender gap?  If so, is your school doing anything to close the science gender gap?

In Ontario, secondary students are required to take two science credits prior to graduating.  Should students be required to take science credits all four years of high school?  Would this promote further science education for female students? How many years of science education are required for students in your areas?


Teaching Rocks!
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Friday, July 13, 2012

Walk Around the World


Would it be great if we could take our kids to visit all the countries in the world?  There is so much that could be learned this way.  It would be a great way to help kids to understand that all areas are alike and different at the same time. Many kids do not get the opportunity to travel the world, but there are projects out there that can allow you to have your kids travel using the internet - all around the world “virtually”.

 Jo Ebisjum of JoJebi Designs is doing a “neighbourhood walk around the world”.  At her blog, you can find links to  Journey to Morocco - A Walk Around the Neighboorhoodneighborhoods all around the world, including places like Japan, Greece and Australia. At my personal blog – Journey to Morocco. - You can check out my neighborhood here in Casablanca, Morocco

Click on over and check out these great shots!

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources and Journey to Morocco   Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Charlotte's web freebies and ideas..

July, 11th was Elwyn Brooks White's birthday. We celebrated her birthday doing some Charlotte's web related activities. 
I focused on animals on the farm. You can get some freebies and ideas in my blog.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Preparing for Ramadan

Ramadan starts next week, and the people here in Morocco are beginning to get prepared.  If you aren’t aware of what Ramadan entails, it is a month on the Arabic (lunar) calendar.  During this month (about 28 days), Muslims are required to fast from sunup to sundown, going without food or drink all day long.  Many people I know use this time to reflect, forgive, and pray. 

This will be my second Ramadan here in Morocco.  I am looking forward to the Iftar treats that are placed on the table during the first meal afterMuslim Holiday Packet - To Explain Ramadan and Eid to Kids fasts are broken and the absolute quiet that occurs when the prayer is called to signal the end of fasting, as everyone heads inside to eat.  I am also using this opportunity to talk with my children more about the meanings behind this and other Muslim holidays.  Here is a center packet I created for my students last year to discuss the three major Muslim holidays – Ramadan, Eid al F’tr and Eid al Adha.  Feel free to download it FREE from my Teacher’s Notebook store.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources     Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources 

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Several Things You Don't Want to Miss!

Hey guys!

It's Michelle from Making It As A Middle School Teacher.

I have several things going on over at my blog that I want to share with you.  I decided it would be easier to just write one post here and link to different posts.

I'm celebrating my 1st Bloggy Birthday Bash this week with prizes galore!

Click on the invitation above to see a listing of all the prizes.  There will be 23 individual winners and everyone who enters will receive a Virtual Party Favor Bag!

Entires are accepted through Midnight on Thursday, July 12th and winners will be randomly selected on Friday, July 13th!

Also, along with my week-long celebration, we're playing a Bloggy Birthday Bash Game each day this week...beginning today.

Today's game is "Pin" the Tail on the Donkey!  Three random winners will be selected from blog comments tomorrow, Wednesday, at 12 Noon EDT.

Click on the donkey to play the game!

I also want to invite you to take part in my Middle School Postcard Exchange for Grades 6 - 8!

I'm so excited about starting this with middle school aged students.

All 50 states in the U.S. will be represented, but I really, REALLY hope to have 1 classroom from each continent as well as a few other countries that middle school students in the United States study.  My students are always so interested in how other students live, go to school, what they wear and eat, etc.  This should be a fun, educational adventure.

If you are interested, click the image below to read the blog post with all the details and how to contact me to see if your location is available.  I don't have any teachers from outside the U.S. yet since this is the first place I've posted about the event internationally.  

I'd LOVE for you to join in!

While you're there, feel free to look around and some other ideas I have posted as well.

Enjoy :)

Making It {and smiling},

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Patriotic Field Trip

Aloha and Happy 4th of July!! On this patriotic day we celebrate our freedom by spending time with our family and loved ones.

This week I decided to take my daughter on a  Field Trip in honor of the 4th.  We live on the island of Oahu and we went to visit Pearl Harbor.  My daughter is heading into the 5th grade and I felt it was the appropriate time to take her.

The visitor center is free to go in.  The Arizona Memorial Tour is also free, but you need tickets to reserve your spot.  It was extremely crowded with tourists from around the world.

We arrived at 9:00 am, but the next available tour was not until 12:30!  The park rangers gave my daughter a Junior Ranger Scavenger Hunt booklet and it kept us busy while we waited.

This is the Tree of Life. It was created by the USS Arizona Memorial architect to inspire contemplation.

There are several museums here as well.  The Road To War Gallery addresses the political climate leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. It explained quite a bit and made it much easier for my daughter to understand what happened.

The Attack Gallery takes you through the events on the day of the attack, through pictures, displays and videos. 

We then walked the grounds which is filled with historic pictures, weapons and machinery.
We then went on our tour of the Arizona Memorial.

You have to board a ferry that takes you across the harbor.

The memorial is built over the the sunken USS Arizona.

Some parts of the ship are still visible above the water.

Oil is still leaking from the hull.

It was a very humbling experience and one that brought many questions from my daughter about World War II. This was an excellent field trip for my daughters age and I would think all ages above. It really brought out her curiosity about history and we have been reading and watching more documentaries at home.

What resources or historical sites are available where you live? Are they free to educators and residents and what kinds of activities do they offer for children?

I hope this summer finds you healthy and happy and that your 4th of July is spent celebrating your good fortune and freedom.

surfin' Through Second

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