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Super Bowl Sunday Sales LINKY

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Whether you are trying to get your lesson plans completed before the start of the game, or it is the end and you are scrambling to get your school week organized, we can help!  Check out each of the ON SALE store links below in order to find resources to make planning your school week CHEAPER and EASIER.  We hope your team wins or won! 

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Making Number Lines

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A great resource for making number lines. 

A great number line is hard to find. Now there is a site where you can custom make number lines to suit your needs for free.

At there are many options to choose from.

1) You can generate blank number lines. Your options include positive or negative numbers, and different ways to break up the number line into whole numbers or fractions.

2) You can create worksheets to add or subtract numbers on a number line.

3)You can create worksheets to locate fractions, mixed numbers, or decimals on a number line. This also includes positive or negative numbers. Test or Not to Test?! A Novel Resource Round-Up LINKY

Monday, January 19, 2015

As a language arts teacher I always love encountering other upper elementary language arts teachers in other districts and states because I love hearing what takes place in other classrooms.  Questions I seem to find myself asking most frequently:

What novels do you love to teach?
How do you group kids?
Do you utilize a reading program? 

With so many tests being administered to my students on a daily basis one thing I NEVER assess my students on are the novels they are reading.  Perhaps this sounds crazy, but here is a breakdown of a typical week on my 6th grade instructional team...Pro-Ohio reading assessment, Pro-Ohio math assessment, weekly reading fluency assessment, weekly math assessment, spelling test, and maybe a science or social studies test.  EVERY WEEK!  So when we complete a novel unit as a whole class or students complete a novel independently, I seek out project-based resources for my students to complete to extend their learning.

This is my favorite sight in my classroom...

As a language arts teacher, I have spent countless hours sitting in the book store hovering over pages of different novels in hopes of finding the perfect tales to engage my students and make them enthusiastic readers.  I want them to reach the point in each novel where putting the book down is the hardest challenge they face, not worrying about the assessment at the end to check their comprehension.  To enhance their reading ambition, I created this I'm Finished...End of Novel Projects for Grades 4-6 resource in order to make completing novels even more fun for my students.
Click on the image for a sample project:

Teaching for 15 years makes a teacher wise…As teachers we are always looking for resources to make our students’ time in the classroom most meaningful and productive.  Like you, I don’t have a moment to waste with my instructional time.  Rather than TEST, complete some sort of book report, or answer MORE reader response questions, I want them to extend their thinking as well as share what they have learned and enjoy sharing about the book that has just been completed.  My hope is that another student might find the project so intriguing, they can't wait to read that book as well.
I would love for you to comment, link up a blog post, or link any free or paid resource that you utilize in your classroom to reinforce a love of reading in your classroom...
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Spotlight on Jennifer Blevins of JB Creations!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hi! Thank you for stopping by the Lesson Deli! I am excited to be part of such a creative and motivated group of collaborating teachers! We love to share tips and ideas that we have collected & created to help organize, inspire, and guide other teachers in the upper elementary grades! Here’s a little more about me….
I live along the beautiful shoreline of Lake Erie in northern Ohio. We enjoy many warm sunny days walking along the beach looking for beach glass and playing in the waves. Right now, the lake is quickly icing over with the cold winter we are having which makes for a beautiful, but very frosty view! It is very fitting for my school’s mascot….the Polar Bears!
I am in my 20th year of teaching which hardly seems possible! Although I spent several years in Kindergarten, the majority of my time has been spent in 4th grade….which I love! I may be a tad biased, but I truly feel that this is the best possible grade to teach! I love that the kids at this level love and respect their teacher and generally enjoy learning, while at the same time being developmentally ready to enjoy more challenging learning experiences. I have so much fun with my fourth grade Polar Bears!
I teach an integrated class of Social Studies and Language Arts. A few years ago, I felt myself becoming stressed over the ability to cover all of the standards in both of these classes each day. I decided to try and use my social studies curriculum to guide my language arts standard with a unit on the American Revolution. What a game changer that turned out to be! Instead of trying to cover a traditional “reading basal”, I found a rich historical fiction book to springboard my language arts skills while providing constant references to the period of time we were covering in social studies. Since then, I have taken every unit that I cover in Social Studies and combined it with engaging literature and informational texts to drive my instruction in both areas. It works like a charm and the kids love it! It makes their learning so much more meaningful and connected. I feel like they really retain the information and leave with such a solid base of knowledge and skills. This was the book that I used to jumpstart this integrated approach:
With this new approach to teaching, I found that many traditional methods and activities just didn’t fit the bill anymore. That’s when I really became excited about creating my own teaching materials. I had always enjoyed making my own games and activities to supplement my lessons, but my passion for creating whole units and texts really blossomed with this integrated atmosphere. Some of my favorite items to create include leveled reader’s theater scripts to provide differentiation in my classroom and my group scoot games and activities. Here are some of my favorites!
I saved the best for last - my family!! They are the inspiration for everything I do and I love spending time with all of themI I will be celebrating my 20th anniversary with my husband this summer (hard to believe!) He is a high school Biology teacher and I love helping him each year when he takes a group of students on an outdoor education adventureI We have traveled with students to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, the Tetons, and the Florida Keys to name just a few. Students spend a week learning about science in these new environments.
This year’s trip will be even more special as our oldest daughter is a freshmen this year and a member of the group we’re taking this summer! Our other 2 children (a 6th and 4th grader) will be patiently waiting with grandma for our return so that we can enjoy the peaceful, easy living that a 2 teacher family summer provides! Like most families, we are constantly on the go, and we look forward to the special times we share together!
Thanks for stopping by and reading all about me! If this is your first time here, be sure to check out the other members of our the Lesson Deli by clicking on the links under our "Blog Archive" on the right of your screen. Now, it's time to grab my freebies, a 4 Corners Grammar Review game and a sample of a brand new PARCC prep packet. While you're there, please check out my store, and follow me to be the first to know about my new discounts, freebies, and product launches!

Activities for Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. With Upper Elementary Students

Monday, January 12, 2015

I took this photo over the Christmas break during a road trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas.  When I saw it, I just had to stop because I knew we would be learning about MLK Jr. in January.  I love sharing school-related photos taken during road trips.  I took lots of pictures of sedimentary rock layers, too.  But that's for a different post!  --The Pensive Sloth
Monday, January 19th will be Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Many 4th, 5th, and 6th graders can tell you a little bit about MLK, but as upper elementary teachers we want them to go deeper than that.  Here's what a few of the Lesson Deli teachers are doing in the classroom to commemorate this civil rights hero. 
  • The Pensive Sloth--I think it is important that students know how far we have come in our country, and that a large part of that is due to the efforts of civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  We do a variety of things in the classroom during the week of January 19th. 
    • I like to start by asking students if it is ever OK to disobey a law before we begin discussing topics like civil disobedience and nonviolent protest.  This is a great discussion starter! 
    • We then make a foldable to tell about life before and during the Civil War of the 1860s, from the 1860s to 1960s, after the 1960s, PLUS I have students tell about what life is like today! 

    • For lengthier topics, like the Little Rock Nine and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, students work in partners to prepare a short report to present to the class.  As reports are presented, students summarize each topic on a portable Civil Rights Movement folding word wall.  

    • Finally, I like to end by having students write about what Dr. King would think now.  What would he be proud of?  What would he think needs work? 
  • TheRoomMom, has her students write simile poems about MLK Jr. after learning about him.  First, using a group of words related to MLK, students order the words from most important to least important based on their opinions.  Students then choose the 3 words they value as most important and write a simile using each word.  The similes can be combined into a poem and published on a paint strip for fun!  You can find the free resources for this activity HERE

  • Caitlin also plans to try something new this year--a choral reading with parts of the "I Have a Dream" speech.  What a powerful, simple idea!  Make several copies of the speech and do a dramatic reading in class.  Then, show the speech on YouTube.   
  • JB Creations says, "I like to embrace Dr. King's belief and dream to include everyone! On MLK day, I hand out 3 different scripts for a reader's theater on the life and time of this great leader. The scripts are leveled with a modified, regular, and enriched version to ensure everyone has a chance to participate at his/her own reading level. Students will learn about Martin Luther King Jr's childhood & the beginning of his dreams, his work, dedication, & accomplishments as a civil rights activist, and his lasting influence on people today!"  You can find the scripts JB uses on Teachers Pay Teachers

  • Erin Beers also uses reader's theater to help students learn about MLK Jr.  Students use the script to complete a variety of activities including context clue word work, journal writing, and figurative language practice.  You can find the resource here.  She offers lots of opportunities to address CCSS while studying MLK Jr. 

Time to teach!

--The Pensive Sloth

Dear Diary... I want my boy students to read more.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Looking for book recommendations that boys will devour? Suggest book titles that are a hybrid of the diary book format and a graphic novel.

What features will these books have?
  1. The book is written in 1st person, and the speaker has a conversational "kid-speak" voice (very casual).
  2. The main character is usually not a popular kid at school and has social dilemmas.
  3. Most books have a graphic element to them. They include doodles and cartoon drawings in the margins and/or images that make the page look like a piece of notebook paper. They often have fun fonts.
  4. The main character is usually a reluctant reader or a struggling student in some way.
  5. There is a lot of white space on the page, and it is easy to finish the book quickly.
  6. And here is my final little observation. The majority of the books have a male main character-- especially the ones targeted at 3rd+ grade levels.
my life as a book
  • The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger
  • The Great Hamster Massacre series by Katie Davies
  • I Funny: a Middle School Story series by James Patterson
  • What the Dog Said by Randi Reisfeld
  • The Creature From My Closet series by Obert Skye
  • My Life as a Book series by Janet Tashjian
  • Justin Case series by Rachel Vail
  • Stick Dog series by Tom Watson
  • Timmy Failure series by Stephen Pastis
  • Love That Dog by Sharon Creech (click for novel unit)
  • Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech (click for novel unit)
  • Diary of a Worm series by Doreen Cronin (picture book)

Here are a few additional book recommendations that are in a letter style rather than a journal or diary format.
  • Dying to Meet You series by Kate Klise (click for novel unit)
  • Regarding The Fountain series by Kate Klise
  • Letters from Camp by Kate Klise
  • The Naked Mole-Rat Letters by Mary Amato
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan (click for novel unit)
  • Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
  • The Gardener by Sarah Stewart (picture book, click for activities)

After reading a book that has a letter/diary component to them, review parts of a letter and write to the author of the book. My students and I write one author as a group at the beginning of the year. We research the author's contact information together and send a batch of letters. After that, I use the project as an early finisher activity. If students need an independent activity, they hunt down an author's e-mail address, physical address, or publisher's address and create a letter to the author. We send and receive AUTHOR LETTERS all year and post the letters in the classroom. It is a great way to motivate reading.
Another easy classroom activity is to have students write from the point of view of a main character and prepare an additional diary entry or letter that could be in the story. The students can choose to add their entry to the beginning, middle, or end of the story. The additional writing should address a question or problem that the story left unanswered, so the students have an opportunity to draw conclusions based on the text.

Happy Reading!