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10 Engaging Weather Lessons All in One Place

Are you tired of wasting your valuable time searching high and low for the weather lessons you need for your upper elementary students? There are so many activities all over Pinterest, but we find most of the weather lessons are for preschoolers- not exactly our niche.

We focus on creating materials for teachers who teach the same things to the same age we do. Most of what we create comes from not being able to find what we need. Worksheets are just plain boring and not at all aligned with our teaching style. We want to help you by putting everything in one place so you don’t have to use all your time collecting lessons from all over the place.

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Concept Based Instruction Concept Based Learning Professional Learning

What is Concept Based Instruction?

Concept Based Instruction? Is this just a new fad? Hoping it will pass and nothing will change? This is the new direction in education and we believe is here to stay even if it isn’t mandated. It just makes sense! It took us awhile to wrap our heads around what this looks like in a classroom…practically. And we are still learning! Here is what we’ve learned so far.

What is it?
Concept based instruction focuses on using content (topics, facts, and skills) to uncover the actual learning concept and the relationship between different concepts. It is multi-dimensional and looks at what students need to know, understand and do. The learning of overarching concepts helps students to transfer the learning to new situations. The goal is to get students to think at higher levels, to have students move from just learning facts to being able to make generalizations that apply to new learning. Familiar with Understanding by Design? Planning concept based instruction parallels backwards design. Familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy? Concept based instruction includes different levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.

What does “concept” mean?
A concept refers to a big idea that students must understand and not just know and do. It is abstract, timeless and universal. For example, a traditional unit of study might include the study of the War of 1812, or World War I or World War II.  Using a concept based approach, the concept could be: power, technology, conflict or identity (among other possibilities).  If identity was the chosen concept then the big idea could be framed as:  War can shape the way a country thinks about itself and the way other people perceive it. If technology was the chosen concept then the big idea could be framed as: Technology can change the outcomes of war over time. In both of these examples the War of 1812, World War I and World War II are used as ‘case studies’ to exemplify the chosen concept.

This post just barely scratches the surface but gets us thinking about the idea of concept based instruction. We will be exploring the different aspects of concept based teaching in a series of short posts. What do you already know about concept based instruction? What are you hoping to learn? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Books Cultural Learning Holidays and Seasonal Learning Commons Library Reading Seasonal/Holiday

15 Picture Books for Lunar New Year

lunar-new-year-picture-books (1)Usually we talk about Chinese New Year but did you know that many other countries celebrate the new year at the same time? In Vietnam it is called Tết and South Korea it is known as Seollal. These new year celebrations are based on the lunar calendar which is calculated using the movement of the Earth around the Sun and the Moon around the Earth.  Because of this, lunar new year is celebrated some time in January or February.  This time of year is a time when families gather, share food and many local traditions. Continue Reading

Books Language Arts Professional Learning Reading Research Skills

Research Skills: Text Features

How often do you give your students a book and they can’t find any information in it? It seems if a page isn’t blinking and flashing they can’t seem to work it. Explicitly teaching text features can help your students understand how to process information better. This won’t just help with their reading, but it will help with all of their research, following directions and locating information quickly in all their subject areas. Continue Reading

Critical Thinking Digital Citizenship Geography Language Arts Learning Commons Library Ninja Tips Our TpT Products Project Based Learning Research Skills Social Studies Technology

Research Skills: Scavenger Hunts

Sometimes students don’t understand how time is of the essence when doing research. They lack the skills to use text features, skim materials and find items quickly.

We’ve been working on this with our students and it’s a struggle year after year.

However, we have managed to find some activities that help students refine their research skills: scavenger hunts. It turns out that making research fun and game-like can have a positive impact on how students complete research. Continue Reading

Art Christmas Creative Thinking Holidays and Seasonal Recycled Materials Seasonal/Holiday

Recycled Materials: Christmas Wreaths

Here is a great activity your students can do that is both environmentally friendly and makes a wonderful Christmas gift.

Your students can help create one wreath as a group or can create their own wreath depending on how much material you have to recycle.

Materials: 1 metal clothes hanger per wreath, old green clothes such as shirts, socks, tablecloths, towels, sheets, and pants (they can be a variety of shades of green as well as different types of materials, but in our experience knitted items do not work well), scissors that cut cloth, green yarn scraps, decorations such as bows, bells and old ornaments

Here’s how to make it: Continue Reading

Interactive Notebooks Mathematics Our TpT Products Professional Learning

Interactive Math Notebooks Representing Numbers

We use interactive notebooks in our math class. We have found creating a reference book of concepts and procedures that students can refer to when working in math helps them build confidence and develop independence.

We’re not going to lie. They are a lot of work, but the working is meaningful. We found on average our math grades improved and students were able to retain more of their learning year over year.

Our notebooks are created using two pages for each concept. Continue Reading