Thursday, November 22, 2012

Cyber Monday +Bonus Tuesday Sale

The Middle School Mouth is participating in Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Monday +Bonus Tuesday Sale November 26-27.  Check out my store for some new products that were just recently added.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nonfiction in Science

Wow, I cannot believe that it has been two months since I have last blogged.  This school year has been one of the most hectic and stressed that I can remember.  I hope that this feeling of being completely overwhelmed soon disappears!  Anyway, enough of the whining and onward to using nonfiction in science.

I am currently teaching two AIG (gifted) language arts classes, one standard science class, and one inclusion science science.  I am thoroughly loving it all, just hoping that I am doing all four groups justice.

Since my background has mostly been language arts in  middle school, my strengths lie there.  I think that science is the perfect place to teach those nonfiction text features and structures. 

In North Carolina in 7th grade, we teach weather and climate.  My inclusion class was struggling with the concepts associated with the topic. As I was meandering through the picture book section of Barnes and Noble, I stumbled across the book Climate Change by Peter Benoit.  As I sat (yes, in the kiddy section of Barnes and Noble) and read this book to see if it was something I could use, I had many ideas running through my head.  I bought the five copies they had on the shelf and had them order me three more so that my students could work in groups of fours. 

The book is written with several different text structures:  cause/effect, problem/solution, question/answer, and description.  Along with finding these text structures, it had many of the nonfiction text features we have been studying.  Students used their copies of the nonfiction text features cards created by Beth Newingham to identify the parts of the text to make reading it a little easier. 

For one section, students were given enough sticky notes so they would have three per subheading.  While reading each section, students were required to write in their own words three facts/ideas/pieces of information, one per each sticky note. 

Students really enjoyed this activity and seemed to actually learn the information they discovered while reading the book.  I was pleasantly surprised at how well they did with this activity and how much information they retained after reading. 

As you can see in the pictures below, there are three other adults in the room with this class.  There are an inclusion teacher, a student intern, a one-on-one assistant for two of my autistic students, and myself with 24 students.  Even with that many adults in the room, we feel wiped-out and unsure of any progress after working with that class each day. 

Climate Change by Peter Benoit

Students working on reading and taking notes on their sticky notes in their interactive notebooks.

More note taking...

Intern working with a group of students.

Another groups of students using sticky notes to take notes in their interactive notebooks.

Inclusion teacher working with a group of students reading Climate  Change.

One-on-one assistant working with two of our autistic students.
My group of girls working together to take notes and understand our climate. 

Enjoy and hopefully it won't be another two months until the next post.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

My New to Me Room

Not much to blog about this week other than the overwhelming feeling I have (like many others) about what I am doing and how I am getting it done.  Our state has switched over to Common Core this year, which is great, but I was a trainer for our new Social Studies Essential Standards that roll out this year as well so I missed all of our language arts training sessions.  And to top it off, I am now teaching Science instead of Social Studies - can we say STRESSED?  And another addition...I am also a new (as in recently certified, never done this before) AIG Specialist in 7th grade and am struggling to understand and complete the paperwork for new students placing into the program and meeting with those parents, plus dealing with my own students.  ENOUGH of my whining though!

I was lucky enough to move into one of the newer, more spacious rooms on our campus this year (yeah, add that to all the stress of learning Common Core and Science over the summer).  I teach at a middle school that was an old high does have character with many room having creaky wooden floors, steam radiators for heat, windows that do not open (or close entirely), and very small rooms.  Last year I had 28 - 6th graders in my room.  We had no room for a small group table, well we didn't even have room to sit on the floor.  Any time we needed to do a spread  out, work on the floor, movement type activity - we headed to the hallway!

So, to say the least, I am very lucky to have this new to me room even with its bowling alley shape.  It has a sink, storage, and plenty of room for all 30 of my student desks.  The biggest bonus - no real bulletin boards!  Yay me!  It is a work in progress, since students arrived this past Monday...adjustments will be made to make it more conducive to active learning.  I will be getting a SMARTboard at some point when it arrives - I just hope it doesn't hang out in the room for a couple of months before they get around to hooking it up for our class. 

Without further ado - here are some pictures of  my room!  I tried to make it not quite so prissy, but neat and organized and somewhat color coordinated.  So far, it makes me happy!

Back of room, the only bulletin board type area.  Objectives, assignments, etc on that board.  Also room to work with small groups.
Our dystopian literature circles study - all of our interdisciplinary units are planned around these novels. 
Scientific Method for science (yes, I teach 2 AIG language arts classes and 2 standard science classes).
Nonfiction Text Features reminders - perfect for both language arts and science!  These were found through a pinterest score.  They were created by Beth Newingham and can be found at her Scholastic Blog. Click on her name to go to her site where you can download them for  FREE!
The front of the room.  The board is off center and it drives me crazy (I did not set up this room, I inherited this way).  BUT - there will be a new SMARTboard hanging out on the wall in the near future.  It will be centered on that wall, starting under the flag, so it will work better for all students to be able to see.  Can you tell that I am a huge The Big Bang Theory fan?  One of my students last year gave me that poster for my birthday.
The side wall with the storage and door. most fabulous computer stand/teaching desk.  The classroom rules are posted here as well (using an Ikea bar) to create a little artwork on the wall.
Our class/team rules.  At first, this was a great idea I had, but then as I painted and attempted to attach all these frames together I thought this was one of the dumbest ideas I had ever tried.  It looks ok, I know it isn't all straight and such...but I am calling that creativity and character so that my OCD self can deal with it.  If you try this, trust me on this idea - take out the glass and use old school overheard transparencies!  I took out all of the glass before attempting to hang it to make it lighter - so glad I did as it crashed to the ground on the first hanging attempt. 
The wall opposite the door.  It will become my word wall.  Of all the things in my classroom, my word nerd wall poster creation is my absolute favorite!  I put the graphic I purchased with the words and uploaded that to Staples and they had it printed for me before I even arrived at the store. 
 I hope you have enjoyed this sneak peek into my classroom.  It will soon not look this neat and clean as these were taken the first day of school before students entered the room.  Thanks for stopping by and feel free to share any ideas you may have to make the room better.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

ISN - Links and More

This post is way overdue and I must admit should have probably been one of the first that I posted to help everyone understand my journey with interactive notebooks in language arts.  As I have said in the past, there were not many resources available at the beginning of my journey with using interactive notebooks in language arts classes.  So...I relied on one of my great friends, Google, to help me search and search and search (you get the picture).  What I did find were many sites and bits of information about using ISNs in social studies, science, and even math.  Being the creative thieving teacher that I am, I took what information I could find and "made it fit" my needs.

I had saved several of these informative sites to my favorites on my computer.  Some of the links still work while some can no longer be found.  Anyway, I did a quick Google search and found a few more sites that I felt had information that could be used to help understand ISNs and also help someone considering using ISNs in their classroom make an informed decision.  I also snapped a few pictures of the Dinah Zike foldables books that I have used in my ISNs over the past couple of years.

One thing that I recommend you do if using ISNs is that you create a teacher notebook as you go through the school year...completing pages/assignments as students do.  This helps to keep everyone on the same page and you have a great record of what students need to do when they are absent.  They can grab your notebook and use it to get caught up and have a guide for where to glue pages and what was missed.  I would also suggest that you create a separate notebook for each class that you teach.  Modeling for each class is so much easier if you just start over instead of showing them your notebook from the previous class. 

Click on the goldish words below to visit that web page.  You may have to do a little searching on that page to find the information related to interactive notebooks - I tried to point you to the main page of each site.  Each foldables book is linked to the book at the Dinah Zike store, just click the picture and it will take you to that specific store page.

History Alive (the birth of interactive notebooks)
Interactive Notebooks (a wiki-space with many logistics)
A Teacher's Treasure (Mor Zrihen's blog all about ineractive notebooks)
Mr. Roughton 2.0 (many assignments that can be adapted for ISN use)
Mrs. Campbell
Stirling English
Mrs. Edwards
Ms. Perez
Science Notebooking
Middle School Science
Teaching Social Studies (this is one of my favorites with very useful info by Mrs. Gannon)
Huff English
Joseph Hill (just found this one today...a new favorite with TONS of info)
EHOW (quick tutorial)
Setting up the Interactive Notebook (Slideshare powerpoint)
Click on the picture to go to the Dinah Zike store for more information about this book. 
Click on the picture to go to the Dinah Zike store for more information about this book.
Click on the picture to go to the  Dinah Zike store for more information on this book.
Click on the picture to go to the Dinah Zike store for more information on this book.
Click on the picture to go to the Dinah Zike store for more information about this book.
I hope all of this information is helpful.  Good luck with your interactive notebook journey.  I will try to answer any questions that I can, if possible.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

R & R

Spending a little quality time with friends at Surfside Beach...south of Myrtle Beach, SC for about a week.  After this little get away, I will have two weeks left before starting back to school.  Hard to believe that it is already time to start back to school - must mean that I've had a busy summer. 

I plan to work on interactive notebook ideas for language arts and science when I get back from the beach.  That is, between workshops for school and for the college where I work part-time.  Any ideas or links that anyone would like to share, please feel free - I'm sure that I am not the only one who would love to know about any ISN ideas, activities, or lessons out there for language arts and science.

Enjoy your last few weeks of summer!
Really?  I am so much on vacation that I don't even know where I am...Surfside Beach is in SC...not NC.  But right now, I am too lazy to fix it!

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Well, all good things come to those who wait, right?  My grandfather used to always say "weight is what broke the wagon."  And that is kind of what has happened, waiting for the dust to settle at school has my teaching assignment for the upcoming school year changed yet again - or my joy wagon broken, but only partly. 
When I left school in early June, I would be teaching four science classes.  Then a couple of weeks ago because of my AIG certification, I would now be teaching one language arts class and three science classes.  I can say I wasn't mad about that.

As of yesterday, I will now be teaching two language arts classes and two science classes.  At first, I can honestly say I was slightly disappointed but after some reflecting, realized it was a GREAT plan.

I will be on a four person team with three other AWESOME teachers and because of the certification of two of us, we have worked out a(n) great amazing schedule for our kiddos - kiddos that I love and am very excited to be looping up to 7th grade. The other teacher and I will both teach two language arts classes and two science classes.  We will both be teaching language arts our first two blocks and science our last two blocks - meaning all of our students will be taught language arts before lunch!  This is like a dream to me (us) since they will be fresh in the mornings. 

Yay to the school year starting out on a good note and for a fabulous team that has been assembled.  And the best part, school hasn't even started and we are all working together and in the best interest of our students. 

Explains it all right now!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Desk Plans...finally!

So, I know that many a few of you have been waiting forever for me to get measurements of my computer desk.  Well, the slacker has finally followed through!  It took me a couple of extra days and trips than I had planned, but I did get the measurements today (after I made a second trip back to school today with a tape measure - I have one in my classroom, but did I mention I am MOVING classrooms and everything is still packed/strung all over the room?)! 
I have taken two pictures of the drawings I attempted to make.  You have to promise that no one will be laughing at my poor attempt to draw - I am definitely not an architect, designer, or artist!  I hope that you can see the measurements in the photo. 

I had mentioned that I would make some tweaks to my original design, so the second photo is one where I erased the original lines I drew in pencil and used a red pen to hopefully show what I would modify if I ever build a newer one. 

I just hope it all makes sense and is clear enough to get a gauge as to what you could have someone build for you.  I am posting this from my part-time job, but when I get home will attempt to scan my drawing and place it in google docs so you can download it as well. 

I hope no one has any questions, because I am not sure I will be able to exaplain very well.  BUT...if you do have questions, I will do my best to attempt to answer them for you. 

FYI...mine was made out of 1 inch plywood (not sure what kind) and a couple of 2X4s which were ripped  down to make the shelf support and then even smaller to make a lip around the top edge.  I painted it orange thinking this was a great idea...wowsers was I wrong!  So then I painted it black and clear coated it.  Also, the holes are needed to be able to put the wires through.  I think he made the holes 2in diameter to allow the ends of the cables to pass through the openings. 

Good luck and happy constructing!

Here are the dimensions/measurements of my current computer desk/stand.  I hope this is clear.  Please ignore the horrible drawing.

Here is a "tweaked" version of the computer desk/stand.  I hope all the red makes sense.  I know my drawings are ghetto fabulous and everyone is jealous of my abilities!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Great Language Arts Interactive Notebook Resource

Check out these Reading Response labels that can be used in your language arts interactive notebooks.  Rachel Lynette over at Minds-in-Bloom created them.  I asked her if she had anything like it and lickety-split, she had created this set.  They can be printed on labels or if you are cheap like I am, I print them on colored paper and have students glue them in their notebooks. 

You can get the labels by clicking HERE or click on any of the label images.

This is a snippet of one page of labels comparing yourself to a book character.

Another snippet from another page of labels about "jumping into the book."

One last snippet about an important event from a story.  There are 42 pages in all!  A great, pre-made resource to have in your arsenal.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


The end of the school year has finally has been quite hectic and stressful.  This has been a great year and I have truly enjoyed my first year in 6th grade AND teaching two subjects.  I was afraid it was going to be an emotional last day of school with these kiddos.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my students and at one point in the year, thought I would be looping up to 7th grade with them, but that plan changed.  And changed, and changed, and get the idea.  A couple of weeks ago I was told I would remain in 6th grade, have a new teammmate and continue to teach language arts and social studies.  I can honestly say I wasn't mad about that idea.

But, things changed this past Thursday.  I found out I WAS indeed moving to 7th grade and I WAS looping with my students.  Great!  That emotional last day didn't happen because I knew we would be together again next year. 

Then the whammy was thrown at me...not only would I need to pack up my old room (I have a lot of stuff, and I had just moved to this room at the beginning of the school year), but would be moving my room next Tuesday.  What? 

On top of that...I would be teaching on a 4 person team...teaching SCIENCE.  Oh my! 

I am excited about the upcoming changes and looping with my students.  The sad part, I will be leaving my SMARTboard behind, which was just installed in February and became operational in March.  I have used that thing almost daily since the day the tech department finally performed that final connection.  As a matter of fact, we started using it before they even left the room.  Maybe they will find the funds to get another one installed in my new room. looks like I will spend my summer learning all about science (weather, physics, human body, and genetics) in 7th grade.  I will be blog stalking, Pinning, LiveBindering, borrowing, and stealing all that I can this summer.  Any ideas of things any of my followers would like to share, please feel free...I won't be offended!

I know I will continue to use interactive notebooks, found a science interactive notebooking book, and will start out the year with the scientific method, lab safety type stuff.  And we will do several mini labs to get our feet wet. 

Any book titles anyone would like to suggest that may go with my new curriculum would also be greatly appreciated.  I will use the story of Phineas Gage.  I will help the language arts teacher with informational reading this year along with finally learning how to use one of those blue TI numbered something calculators and graphing calculators that I have been afraid of for years. 

I am going to share of couple of pictures of my creation a couple of years ago for my teacher computer/document camera.  Previously, my computer was in the back corner of my room and when I used it, I had my back to the class and couldn't keep an eye on everyone - we ALL know that isn't smart in middle school.  All the classrooms were set up like this!  So I designed this computer stand, had a co-worker's husband build it for me and it has become the buzz of the school.  After using it for a couple of years, there are a couple of tweeks I would make but would NEVER change the idea.  The pictures I am going to include were taken the last day of school this year...after I started packing and moving desks around so they aren't the best.  Hopefully you will be able to see that it was placed in the middle of the back of the classroom.  This way, when I was using the document camera I could see every student.  It may look like it has an odd layout, but I should mention that I am a LEFTY! 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Candy Themed Testing Motivators

I just uploaded a FREEBIE to my store.  It is 4 different printables for testing motivation.  I am in NC, and we start our state EOG (End of Grade) testing this week.

Each one is meant to be attached to that particular type of candy.  I have made one for twizzlers, tootsie rolls, blow pops, and nerds.  I am unable to use the nerds one (it is the one I am most proud of) because I couldn't find enough boxes of nerds without taking out a loan to purchase 54 of them.  

I hope you enjoy them and are as excited about them as I am!  And hopefully it will help get your students a little more hyped up about doing well on any standardized testing they must do. 

To get this FREEBIE, either click on the link above or click on any of the images.  There are also additional links at the bottom of the page that should hopefully take you to the documents in my google docs.
Attach to a blow pop or blow pop minis.

Attach to nerds (Ifyou can find enough of them - this was my favorite one, but I could not find just a package of a large number of nerds.)

Attach to a larger tootsie roll (Sam's Club) or to a baggie with a few tootsie rolls in it.

Attach this to a snack size package of twizzlers.  I know that I spelled twizzted (twisted) wrong - just wanted it to sort or match the candy!

I have also tried to link this to my google docs account, but not sure that was successful.  You can try it here (it may or may not work!):  TWIZZLERS, TOOTSIE ROLL, BLOW POPS, and NERDS.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Textmapping was a pinterest find that has really helped my students interact with nonfiction in a way that takes away the dread.  They now feel empowered to dissect and understand nonfiction reading selections.  The idea of textmapping can be explored at the creators website The Textmapping Project.
Students using their nonfiction text features cards to textmap an article on the Greek government.
Creating a "map" key to aid in mapping this article.

Using a teacher directed article to help textmap an article independently.

Almost complete!

Just getting started with the textmapping process.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Social Studies Interactive Notebooks - Yep, Again!

Here are some pictures of my social studies interactive notebook where I have been using lessons from InspirEd Educators to teach how ancient civilizations developed and failed along with our ancient Egypt interdisciplinary unit.
A full page graphic organizer folded and then taped into our notebook.  For social studies, I chose to use a composition notebook instead of a spiral notebook.  The way this is attached, students can still access the page and complete the activities.

This was a flow chart from InspirEd Educators Ancient Civilizations unit on how a civilization develops.

Quizzing students on what is really needed for a civilization to develop.

Another lesson from InspirEd Educators based on scenarios related to survival for an ancient civilization.

This is a simulation activity where students are "color" coded and have jobs to do.  Some students had to draw diamonds for basically no reward while a few others got credit for completed sheets, but had to count the diamonds, while an even smaller group was "paid" just for bossing all of the others around.  Students could see how different social classes came to be within a civilization.

Mapping ancient Egypt.  Students were enthralled with the fact that Lower Egypt is actually located "higher" than Upper Egypt.

Understanding the archaeology of ancient Egypt.

Learning about the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt.

Figuring out the bartering system of ancient Egypt.