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

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