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Become a Smekens Pro with these Digital Resources

Do you recognize this binder? If you have never seen this be sure to reach out to Tara White and she can help get you the resource. Turn to the first page and follow the directions to access your digital playbook resources. When you use your access code you will be able to get to a website to access Digital Anchor Charts Roadmaps (Editable or Filled in) Signs / Printable Cards Worksheets Videos FAQ page Lesson Ideas Watch the video below for a quick walkthrough of the digital playbook. Digital Anchor Charts If you watched the walkthrough, you saw the...

Connect with Students and Amplify Learning with Videos

Finding small and easy ways to connect with our students doesn’t just help engage them in content, it also creates small opportunities in building relationship. Making videos can become an easy tool that you keep in your Batman Utility Belt. Check out some new ideas and strategies below on how to use videos in your classroom. Building background / academic language Instead of starting a unit with a video you found on youtube, make your own! Talk about how it connects to your prior unit so it activates prior knowledge or sparks engagement with a fun video of you going...

SBG in the Elementary Classroom

Before we begin, it is important that we all have a shared understanding of the purpose of grades.  For standard based grading, we need to agree that the purpose of grades is to represent what students know and are able to do. If this is something you can agree with, you are ready to get started with standard based grading.  So what do we need to do to get started? We’ve been working on essential standards in PLCs for almost two years. It’s time to put those essential standards to work by linking them directly to what students are doing...

Rethink Choice Boards! Free Templates for All Grades

Choice boards are amazing but they can be a lot of prep work, confuse students with too much content, or be too repetitive. Let’s spice up some student choice boards and rethink how we use them in the classroom.  Progressive Choice Boards  Choice is great for students but sometimes too much choice is overwhelming. You would have students ask you “just tell me which one to do” and you instantly regret putting together a huge choice board when they want to be told what to do anyways. Slowly adding choices makes it easier to choose from a lot of different...

Story-Based Templates

“For decades I’ve argued that, as the stories once told around a campfire are now being told with the glow of a computer monitor, we must ensure that the new forms of storytelling are as compelling as the old.” David D. Thornburg, PhD Are you looking for ways to get your students thinking and creating their own compelling stories? Below are many ready-to-use templates that can help students think about stories they’ve read or heard and apply it in an independent and/or collaborative way. These templates can be used to reflect back on stories as well as to plan ahead...

SEL-aware Practice with Standards Based Grading

Whether we want to admit it or not, grading is a powerful influencer on emotional wellness. The letter or number on top of an assignment communicates more than performance; to many students, the grade on an assignment communicates value. Standards based grading is a system which allows us to proactively change our grading to promote positive academic and emotional mindsets in students.

You’re Ready for SBG Today

Grades should represent what students know and can do. If you agree, then you’re ready to start.

Powerful Tools and Resources for PBLs

What is PBL? Project Based Learning (PBL) actively engages students in authentic and meaningful tasks throughout the learning process. Instead of the famous poster board project at the end of the project, PBL takes students through a journey that they care about. The goal is motivating students to take ownership of their learning. Below are 5 powerful websites and tools that can help your PBL adventure. Jay McTighe one of the authors of the book, The Understanding by Design, has compiled a list of websites that has ideas and resources. Note, this document was last updated in 2018 so some...

SEL and Jamboards

I was able to work with some awesome 7th and 8th graders from North Side to build this Jammin’ SEL resource that is easy to edit and simple to use. This isn’t limited to just middle schoolers though! Anyone can use Jamboards to connect to SEL! Why SEL We are learning the importance of social and emotional learning and the impact it has on students’ learning. Creating opportunities where students can thoughtfully reflect on their own emotions can help them process through some of the more difficult ones. A student was helping me build this jamboard and she said, “doing...

Making Learning Concrete with Hands-On Activities and Manipulatives

Practice and Application The 6th component of SIOP is Practice and Application. Practice and Application focuses on how will students will practice both the content and language objectives. It is the what and the how of the lesson. When we are thinking about Practice and Application, it’s important to keep three considerations in mind. Provide hands-on materials and/or manipulatives for students to practice using new content knowledge. Provide hands-on activities for students to apply content and language knowledge in the classroom. Use activities that integrate all language skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) In this blog post, we will be focusing...

Keep Early Finishers Engaged with Anchor Activities

After completing Module 18 in SIOP, I’ve been thinking a lot about student engagement. Obviously, we all do our very best to engage students, but sometimes it is very difficult to do. A lot of times we think that how students engage in our classes is common sense, but common sense isn’t always so common! To help my students see exactly what I expect, I made a slide that is always on my board during classwork. A simple slide like this helps direct student energy toward productive classroom habits. I realized that if a student was struggling and needed an...

Creativity in the Classroom – Embracing Photo

Friends, we’re in the final countdown to summer. Which means at this point, we’re all just trying to make it. Needs some fun ideas for keeping students engaged in your class? Consider adding some creative opportunities to your classroom activities! Using Apple’s Everyone Can Create curriculum, find ways to add in photo, video, drawing, even music to your class. Below we will highlight some of the fun photo activities that YOU could use and adapt to fit the needs of your students in order to include some creativity into your classroom! Everyone Can Create: Photo Accessed through your iPad on iBooks,...

April is School Library Month

Did you know that April is School Library Month? Here are 7 ideas on how you can incorporate school library month into your classroom. D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) day. Pick your own date and hold a Drop Everything and Read day! Have a block of time that everyone (including staff) just reads. Stage a read-in where students wear pajamas and get cozy while reading! Host a “Book tasting”. Librarians are always happy to give suggestions on less-well-known books that your students may enjoy! Learn more about a book tasting here! There is also a digital genre book tasting seesaw...