Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Scarlet Letter Unit Week - Differentiated Easy Access

The Scarlet Letter Cereal Box Assessment

Chapin-Pinotti Scarlet Letter LessonsThis is an engaging "assessment" for even the most timid readers of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I love the nuances, symbolism, irony and writing style of Nathaniel Hawthorne, but I've been told by many students that The Scarlet Letter  is difficult to read - even thought it is one of the greatest tragic romance novels of all time and if they could access it - they would love it.

For some students, reading The Scarlet Letter  is not always the simplest of tasks.  Sometimes, I think Hawthorne went out of the way to write page long paragraphs of awkwardness; however, much of his prose is beautiful and eloquent and rife with irony and symbolism and allegory and all of the juicy plot details readers love.  It is our job, as teachers, to help students access this.

That said, I like to make reading The Scarlet Letter  fun – for AP and non-AP students alike – so I am starting with the end - a fun literary assessment that will remind students of easier elementary days of dioramas and assessments on cereal boxes…yes cereal boxes.

This lesson helps students learn, remember and retain elements of The Scarlet Letter by using the “Cereal Box” assessment technique. On the first few pages are examples of outcomes. The latter pages consist of student templates and teacher help pages – so enjoy and check back for a week full of The Scarlet Letter lessons, assessments and teaching!

regularly for great lessons on literature, fiction and non-fiction – all differentiated for emerging to AP students.

I am providing this in editable PPT as well as PDF formats. The Font for the A and the Title are ”Old London.” The font for the other boxes are Calibri and Britannic.

Happy Reading.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Earth Day Fun and Freebies!

Since the first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970 - teachers, professors and students have been learning and working together to help make the earth a better place for future generations.  Earth Day is a great time to link what we do in our classrooms to the real world - whether by a simple activity to help with student awareness, to a large thematic unit, to an executed project that aligns with the 2018 Earth Day Theme - Plastic Pollution.

Earth Day 2018 Teacher Resources can be found on the Earth Day website. This year's resources are web-based and cross curricular and turn-key. The K-12 packet available has activities, video links, discussion questions and engaging activities for all grade levels.

The goal of Earth Days - present and past - is to help grow economically aware and environmentally literate students.

There are four components that the EDN's End Plastic Pollution campaign focuses on:
  • Grassroots movement to form the adoption of a worldwide effort to regulate plastic pollution
  • Educate, then mobilize, then lead citizens to action - worldwide - to demand the clean up and regulation of plastic pollution
  • Educate all in each individuals' responsibility to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics
  • Man a campaign where local governments regulate plastic pollution
The president of the Earth Day Network sums up the "History of Earth Day" and provides a wonderful link to a Walter Cronkite CBS News Special from 1970 - great for older students to watch and analyze - beyond Earth Day - as a glimpse of the world in 1970. Perfect to lead discussion about what has changed and what has stayed the same.

Hint: The Earth Day Network's website is a great resource for all kinds of environmental issue awareness, lessons and toolkits for classroom use year round. This one from 2017 is still relevant today as it highlights Climate Change and efforts we can all make to work together for a brighter tomorrow. These lessons are not only meant to education, but to inspire students to act locally and globally.

Remember that helping our students become environmentally literate stewards of the earth is an everyday task - with many challenges. Plus - we all love Freebies!

Other Earth Day Freebies:

Priced Lessons:

Thanks for checking in...

Elizabeth Chapin-Pinotti

Monday, December 4, 2017

Dealing with the December Dilemma

The Infamous December Dilemma

We've all been there - caught between our own traditions for the holidays - whatever they
Elizabeth Chapin-Pinotti Dealing with the December Dilemma
may be or may not be - and being sensitive to the increasingly diverse students in our classrooms - but December doesn't have to be tough and confusing - but rather a chance to embrace our differences and try to understand each other and...perhaps help make the world a better place through our students.

Shameless Plug for FREEBIE:

I've written a book called  Kwanmisadomakuh Big Time! and while you can purchase the book for $9.50 on - you can get a digital copy to the project or print-out for your students at: storytimebyelizabeth - my other blog filled that is with always free projectable stories - including this one. Kwanmisadomakuh Big Time! is about a fifth/sixth-ish grade student, attending public school for the first time, and discovers that Christmas is not celebrated by everyone. It is a sweet story about understanding and acceptance that I feel is easier attained by children than by the adults in the world.

To complement the story is a comprehensive December workbook - Dealing with the December Dilemma $10.90 on The blackline masters are also available on - if you don't want a hard copy of the book and it's activities on a myriad of holidays including: Ramadan, Hanukkah, Christmas, Miwok Big Time and others - the digital version is only $1.50. 

Don't Be Too Sensitive to the Whole Thing

What?! Don't be too sensitive? What I mean is most students, and their parents, don't mind students learning songs (and singing them), studying traditions, decorating holiday cookies and doing other fun December activities - just send out a letter in advance, tell them exactly what will be taught and give them the mandatory opt out. In your letter be sure to emphasize that you are not teaching religion, but culture and traditions and what other religions do and and celebrate. Here is a great article by Margaret Hill, of Three Rs - about the December Dilemma and how to be culturally sensitive to students and parents' feelings: Religious Holidays in Public Schools.

Other December Dilemma Resources

Activities and Lessons on Teacher's Notebook:

Great Multi-Cultural Books for December

About Kwanmisadomakuh Big Time!

Elizabeth Chapin-PinottiIt’s Janie’s first year at public school, but when December 1 arrives she discovers that not everyone celebrates Christmas. At first she is horrified her parents would subject her to an environment different than her own, but when she and her friends discuss their holidays – they discover some common themes -- trying to be good, peace on earth and good will to everyone. With these elements in mind they create their own celebration Kwanmisadomakuh Big Time! After the story read about Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Christmas and the Miwok Big Time Festival in the non-fiction section.

Lights of Winter: Winter Celebrations around the World by Heather Conrad

Lights of Winter is a picture book about winter celebrations including: Solstice, Yule, Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, Teng Chieh, Diwali, Soyal, Las Posadas, Zagmuk, Saturnalia. For ages 3-9. Thirteen color illustrations.

The premise of December Holidays From Around the World is that Christmas is not the only holiday in December and while it is indeed celebrated around the world - there are other December celebrations too - including ways different cultures celebrate Christmas. This book will introduces some of them. Knowing these facts will help paint a picture of worldwide diversity in beliefs and cultures. 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Speed of Falling Objects - and Other Experiments for the Classroom

The following classroom activities are engaging and deal with HS-PS2 Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions.
The Chart Can be Found at HS-PS2 Motion and Stability

According to the NGSS the performance expectations for "Disciplinary Core Ideas for PS2 were developed by using - in part:
  • Structure and Properties of Matter:
    •  Matter at the bulk scale are determined by electrical forces between and within the atoms.
  • Forces and Motion
    • Newton's second law accurately predicts changes in the motion of macroscopic objects
    • Momentum is defined for a particular frame of reference: it is the mass times velocity.
    • If a system interacts with objects outside of itself the total system can change - however any change is balanced in the momentum of objects outside of the system. The Next Generation Science Browser has information and engaging lessons to highlight PS2.2 at the high school level.
  • Types of Interactions: 
    • Newton's law of universal gravitation and Coulomb's law provide the mathematical models and predict the effects of gravitational and electrostatic forces between distant object. (Because objects have mass they are attracted to each other and this is a difficult concept for some students to grasp). (HS-PS2-4) and (HS-PS2-5)
    • Attraction and repulsion between electric charges at the atomic scale explain the structure, properties and transformation of matter, as well as the contact forces between material objects. HS-PS-2-6, secondary to HS-PS-2-1, secondary to HS-PS1-3)
  • PS3.A: Definitions of Energy
    • "Electrical Energy" may mean energy stored in a battery or energy transmitted by electric currents (secondary to HS-PS2-5)
  • ETS1.C: Optimizing the design solution
    • Criteria may need to be broken down into simpler ones that can be attached systematically and decisions about the priority of certain criteria over others (trade-offs) may be needed. (secondary to HS-PS2-3)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data. Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution.

HS-PS-2-1: Analyze data to support the claim that Newton's second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass and its acceleration.

My NASA DATA has top tear NGSS lessons that support the initial phases of Analyzing and Interpreting Data Content for grades K-12.

The Indianapolis Pubic Library "Kids' Blog" has a wonderful collection of lessons including "Science Experiment: Newton's Second Law of Motion". This is a fun lessons for any age students called "Comet Cratering Experiment and it proves that pulling or pushing an object produces acceleration, a change in the speed of motion. The heavier the object the more force it takes to speed up or slow down an object.

Physics for Kids is a great website to explain Newton's Second Law of Motion. The site offers links to other lessons and examples of Newton's Second Law of Motion - Change in motion is proportional to and in the same direction as, the applied forces.

Lesson ideas:

  • Chair
  • Electric fan
  • paper
Goals: To understand the concepts of force and work. To understand that objects move in the same direction as the force that acts upon them.

  • Begin with having a few students push against the wall and ask -- Everyone think for a moment - what are they doing? (Don't correct possible answers yet).
  • Ask another group of students to pull something that will not move - counter, dry erase tray - anything and ask -- Everything think for a moment - what are they doing?
  • Derive at "push" and "pull" and then ask: What do we call a push or a pull?
    • Lead students to "force"

Important!!! Tell students:

  • A FORCE is any push or pull.
Ask a student to sit in a chair and pull him or her across the room.

  • SAY: What are you observing?
    • You are looking for exerting a force

Important!!! Tell students:

  • To exert is to put into action. Give the term exert if they don't get to it.
  • SAY: How does this force compare to the forces we exerted on the wall.
  • SAY: What is the combination of force and movement? 
  • SAY: Work is the is the combination of force and movement

Push the student again.

  • Ask: What am I doing
Answer should be: exerting a force. Doing work.  

Move the student in multiple directions and explain about the direction of forces and the direction of movement - that objects move in the same direction as the force on them.

PUT the electric fan front and center.
BREAK students up into groups.
HAND OUT newspaper.

Have students wear their hats and stand in front of the fan OR hold the fan up and blow their hats off.

Have students work their experiment on the notebook pages in their science journal.

The student Science Journal may be purchased at the link for $6.00 plus shipping. It may be downloaded at www. - or a set of 32 may be ordered for $100.00 plus shipping of $16.00 by emailing


Just for fun: Be a Famous Perfume Maker (aka Chemist)

Things you need to know:

  • Alcohol (the rubbing kind) makes a great solvent for dissolving fragrant oils found in flowers, herbs, fruit and the like.
  1. Get a clear glass or plastic container with a lid - the prettier the better - or one of those small mason jars that are oh so popular. You'll need one per student.
  2. Have students go on a gathering field trip at home. Tell them they are going to make perfume and they get to pick the scent.
  3. Brainstorm ideas:
    1. cloves
    2. lemon peel (explain zest)
    3. orange peel
    4. flowers
    5. herbs
    6. cinnamon
    7. roses
    8. Any flower pedels
    9. ANYTHING  - who knows - they may create the next Obsession.
  4. Have students put their ingredients into their containers and cover with about 4 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol.
  5. Shake twice a day for one week.
  6. At the end of the week it is ready - dab a little on and see what they think.
  1. Have students create a label for their perfume and a brand
  2. Have students make commercials or print ads
  3. Have a contest to decide who likes which scent.
Then tell them: It takes about 8,000 to 10,000 crushes roses to make one dab (barely an oz) of rose oil for perfume, but that chemists have found a way to capture the flowers fragrance. They analyze the rose molecules and make the scent by artificially reproducing the natural oils.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fifteen Free Lessons for Fall

Fall Classroom Engagement

Fall is here with its crisp air, crimson, orange and bronze leaves and restless students who've left the honeymoon period of the new year behind and are settling into their
Elizabeth Chapin-Pinotti
fabulous not-so-new anymore teachers.  Our job now - ensure forward progress towards grade level mastery of the current standards and engage students with interactive lessons and innovative pedagogy. 

As stated in Instructional Strategies: Tips and Tricks - active participation and cognitive engagement are essential elements of instruction and more important as the novelty of the new year wanes into the dog days before the holidays. This sometimes means supplementing your classroom curriculum with lessons that allow your students to be creative and engaged - while learning what they need to know to progress to the next level. It also means taking out that bag of tricks to keeps students alert and involved in the process of learning.

Below are several Fall Freebies that will engage your students, but first...

Elizabeth Chapin-Pinotti

Three Ways to Keep Students Engaged

Way to Keep Students Engage Number 1:

Madeline Hunter was a master of teaching teachers why actively engaging students is imperative to learning; likewise, she was emphatic in the notion that students who achieve success are more apt to try and, thus, more apt to be engaged in any lesson. That said - an essential way to engage students is to teach to the correct level of difficulty. 

In Madeline Hunter's Mastery Teaching (Hunter, 2004) - she puts forth that appropriate instruction is where students are correct in their responses about 75% of the time. Unfortunately, our students do not come to us in neat packages of like-leveled youth, but rather vary widely in their aptitude, backgrounds and ability -- one word addresses this - differentiation. One way to differentiate in classrooms is to group students and rotate your time. This is practiced consistently in elementary, but not as frequently in high school classrooms.

If you group homogeneously - assign different tasks to each group and spend your time working with the lower groups - with spot formative assessment on students who are approaching mastery.  For great ideas about differentiating, look to ACSD's What is a Differentiated Classroom.

Way to Keep Students Engage Number 2:

Create individual "engagement folders" (EFs) and use them daily - no matter what level you teach.  What are EFs? EFs are folders to use during lectures or question and answer sessions. You know -- the times in your classroom where four hands go up -- usually the
Involve and Engage your students
same four. Take this as a red flag and using EFs requires the participation of all students. Prepping your EFs with students will be time well spent. Using a folder or manila envelope and put in the following:
  • a laminated piece of cardstock - to use as a small whiteboard
  • a dry-erase pen
  • an index card with true on one side and false on the other
  • laminated content related charts (as applicable) - a hundreds chart, a period table of elements, a map - anything you need. These can be added on a need-be basis
  • A small envelope with index cards, or scraps of paper (for quick draws or quick writes)
  • Guided note-taking template
  • Multiple-Choice hold up cards - I like an index card with A,B,C,D,E and a paperclip slider
  • If you have other items to add - please leave them in the comments section.
When using the folders and like techniques - don't forget that learning should be fun and give students the opportunity to Play!

Way to Keep Students Engage Number 3:

Involve movement! Just like getting up during a long, or short, session of professional development helps you stay focused - so does the same for you students. Why is it that we think and expect students to do what we cannot?  Incorporating physical activities into lessons has been determined to positively influence academic achievement and student learning.(Beaudoin & Johnston, 2011).

In 2000, Jensen wrote that tradition seat work uses less of the brain than getting students up and moving, playing - participating in discussions, debates, games - even stretching. Jensen explains that "physical activity has been known to release norepinephrine (adrenaline) enabling students to become more alert and ready to learn. Jensen's website on Brain-Based Jensne Learning has amazing information on movement and engagement and "How to Boost Engagement" in three simple steps.

Fall Freebies

That said, I've vetted several fall freebies:

STEM for 5-7 Grades: Adding and Subtracting Fall Freebie by Leaf and STEM Learning: "Fall" into fraction operations with this FREE math center activity that has students interpret fall themed word problems to add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators. Students read fraction and mixed number word problems and use model cards and least common denominators to calculate their answer. 

Elizabeth Chapin-PinottiFiction CCSS Book Unit for Grades 2-4: The Halloween Without Pumpkins Book Unit: Freebie! Book Unit and link for free "The Halloween Without Pumpkins." Common Core State Standards aligned - complete with interactive notebook pages. Includes standards printables and interactive workbook pages for 2.RL.1 through 2.RL.7 and 3.RL.1 through RL.7. The e-reader a link to both a PowerPoint of the book to project and popcorn read as well as a passed youtube book - also on teachertube. Try this with older students too - who says picture books are just for elementary school?

Fall Poem by Free Fall in SCD - writing a fall poem has never been so easy.

Spooky Sentence Center  for grades 1-3: Students are provided with the subject of each spooky sentence and must add their own predicate to complete it. Two directions sheet options are included, one using the terms subject and predicate, and the other using the terms naming part and action part.

Halloween Story Maps: Grades K-7 - great printable to use with any story - more writing templates than maps and can be used in Interactive Notebooks.

Halloween Version of "Would You Rather..." Grades 1-12. I know, I know - I am also usually skeptical of any resource that says it is appropriate for grades 1-12 - but this one really is.

Halloween 3-digit Math Game.

Parts of Speech Autumn Sorts: Grades K-5 - a little difficult for K-1.

Fall Harvest Science Lab: Grades 2-4 students investigate and assess the effects of light vs. darkness and water vs. non-watered conditions in relation to plant growth.

Awesome Autumn - Tons of free lessons on Education World's website - including:

Fall Similes: Grades 3-6

A Broom's Story: Grades 3-6 Students learn about point of view in this lesson. They write a story about a witch's adventures from the point of view of the witch's broom. Older students - clear through grade 12 have fun with this one as well.

Happy Teaching,
Elizabeth Chapin-Pinotti

Friday, September 15, 2017

FREEBIE! Harvest Science Lab - 2-4 Grades

2-LS2-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plans need sunlight and water to grow.

Goal: Students will investigate and assess the effects of light vs. darkness and water vs. non-watered conditions in relation to plant growth.
"pled guilty",

Five cups for each pair of students four for planting seeds and one for watering.
Enough pumpkin seeds for each cup plus extras for “crop failure.”
One cereal box per pair of students.
Construction paper
“Harvest Science Lab” 1 per student  - Science Lab Resources
Potting soil

Each pair of students will plant four pumpkin seeds in plastic cups. You should plant extra in case of “crop failure” The seeds will germinate in about a week. After seeds germinate change the conditions have students put two plants inside their cereal box  and keep two plants out. They will water one of the plants inside the box and one of the plants outside the box.

Student “I Can” objective:
“I can describe how an experience is conducted.”
“I can determine whether if plants need water and/or light to grow.”
”I can keep track of my data.”
“I can make a bar graph comparing conditions.”
“I can state my conclusions from my bar graphs.”

Science and Engineering Practices: Plan and conduct an investigation to
"conflict of interest"
produce data that serves as the basis for the evidence needed to answer a question.  Students are actively engaged in the planning and conducting of this investigation. They will collaborate and share their ideas regarding how the investigation should be set up, how the plants are placed. They will also measure with standard measurement tools.

Procedure: Students will plants seeds. Once these seeds begin to germinate (grow) students will begin their investigations for the different conditions that exist: light with moist soil, light with dry soil, dark with moist soil, and dark with dry soil.

Engineering Connection: As students determine the best environment for growing crops and other plants used to produce produces they are practicing agricultural engineering.

Extension for Advanced Students: Students will learn that plants carry nutrients and investigate other ways, besides water, to transfer nutrients to the roots of the plants.

NGSS: The pieces of this investigation work as a whole to help students discover that plants need water and light to survive. As students work through the investigation they are exposed to elements of the science and engineering practices, core ideas and the CCSS. The CCSS embedded in this investigation include: measurement, written observations, data analysis and non-fiction reading.
Teaching Points:
Discuss how animals and humans need food, water and air.  (PowerPoint teaching presentation is available at: Resources at Lucky Jenny Publishing.
Next, ask students to think about what plants need to live and grow. Have a few plants around to use as examples. Help them make the connection between light and plant growth and water and plant growth.
Tell students they are going to plant some seeds and then see if their plants will grow better in the light and darkness. Tell them they are also going to determine if plants grow better with water or without.
Explain how they are  going to monitor the progress of their own plants to make their own determination.

Please check out more of my resources at Elizabeth's Resources.

Other Fall Lessons:

Not Your Usual November Print and Go Lessons - Resource book with templates, Daily Warm-Ups, projects, Native American Studies and more
Pumpkin Bingo - Fun way to learn and reinforce multiplication fasts - print and go!

Fall Freebies

The Halloween Without Pumpkins - PowerPoint Book to project and read to your class

Webb's DOKs in your Classroom!

Elizabeth Chapin-Pinotti

To Kill a Mockingbird Novel Unit -- Differentiated and Common Core Aligned

A  134-page no-prep novel unit  for Harper Lee's classic -- "To Kill a Mockingbird".   This novel unit contains quizzes, com...