Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Themes for Common Core Standards Posters - Update

Over the summer, I revamped the themes for my Common Core Standards Posters. The bundle now includes thirty(!) themes. Since then, several teachers have asked for additional themes. I always get a kick out of learning about the huge variety of themes teachers are using in their classrooms. Here's a quick list of the the ones that aren't in the bundle on TPT.

Dog Theme
Jungle Theme (a more mature version of the jungle theme in the TPT bundle)
Camping Theme (making this one made me want to go camping)
Sports Team Theme
Ocean Critters Theme

If you want any of the themes on this list, just email me or leave a comment below!

A special thanks to these clip art and font creators who made these themes possible.
Scrappin Doodles
Pink Pueblo
Kimberly Geswein Fonts

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Moore Relief Effort Bundle

Teacher-sellers on Teachers Notebook can donate their products to benefit those harmed by the tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma. I donated three products worth $30 - Common Core "I can" statement posters for 6th Grade, 7th Grade, and 8th Grade.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

California Common Core Standards - State Additions for Kinder, Second, and Fourth Grade Finished!

At my school and across parts of California, Seattle and New York, there's a movement afoot to delay teach the standards before students are tested on them. I won't weigh in on the issue at the moment, but I'll say that it seems reasonable. At my school, we are implementing the standards next year, but we're still considering whether the testing will take place or not. Among other things, there's concern that the technological requirements of the CCS assessments can't be met. Apparently, the tests will be computer-based. Although we have a pretty well-equipped school technologically (fast internet, several computer labs), the prospect of high stakes testing dependent on ALL the labs up and running when and where they are needed is a bit daunting.
testing students based on the Common Core standards. Teachers want more time to

Meanwhile, our state Secretary of Education Tom Torlakson just yesterday gave his two cents worth on the Common Core and state testing in California. His take: resist the urge to delay the tests.

In other, less serious, more colorful, and just plain fun California Common Core developments, I finished making posters for the California additions to the Common Core Standards for kindergarten, second grade, and fourth grade. These additions supplement my illustrated CCS posters.

Kindergarten -  11 additonal posters - 8 Language Arts and 3 Math
Second Grade - 8 additional posters - 5 Language Arts and 3 Math
Fourth Grade - 9 additional posters - 6 Language Arts and 2 Math

As always, if you need additional posters for your state's Common Core, don't hesitate to contact me. You can leave a comment here on the blog, contact me through my store, or email me at


Monday, May 6, 2013

Sci Fi Classrooms - 5 Ways Learning Happens in Distant Galaxies and Imagined Futures

This week, FASTCOMPANY released their list of the top 10 most innovative companies in education. The companies on the list are exploring cutting edge, hi-tech ways to revolutionize learning. It inspired me to compile my own list of gee-whiz learning from movies, books, TV, and the not too distant future. Here it is:

Five alternative modes of education from science fiction (and one from the no so distant future)

Star Trek: Vulcan Learning Pits (They are way cooler than the name implies.)

The Matrix "virtual reality learning."

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy. Where Kirk and crew received their training. Looks like a heckuva nice place to go to school. Located in San Francisco's Presidio.

Image Credit: Perpetual Games


Dagobah (Where Yoda teaches Luke the ways of the Force.)

The EXO U EXO Desk This is the real one. Looks promising if it works the way they say it does.

Everything in The Galaxy on Sale! Teacher Appreciation Two Days of Discounts!

Greetings, Teachers! As you probably already know, Teachers Pay Teachers is having HUGE two-day sale for Teacher-Appreciation Week. The TpT sale is on May 7th and 8th. During the sale, everything will be 10% off, site-wide. 

But that's not all! To go along with the 10% off, I will be discounting everything in my store another 10% during the two day sale on Tuesday, May 7th and Wednesday, May 8th. 

My 10% discount will be automatic. Enter the PROMO CODE TAD13 at checkout to get the TpT 10% discount as well.


Monday, April 8, 2013

How is the Common Core Like Burger King? States Can Have it Their Way!

Hello teachers! The common core crunch is coming. My own school is implementing them for all grades in the 2013-2014 school year. The state of California has added several standards to the national ones, and modified a handful. Several other states have done the same. Most are using the national standards as is.

To make a silly analogy: It's a little like every participating state is ordering a Common Core Whopper. Some are taking them as they are right off the menu while others are adding and subtracting ingredients. Tomato? No thanks. Mayo? Extra, please.

This is a working list of states that have modified the national common core standards and those that haven't. As I learn more and make more customizations for the various states, I'll update this list.

States that have added or modified the common core standards.
  • California
  • Massachusetts - the Bay State has made just a handful of changes to the ELA substandards - no changes to the main standards. The math standards are unchanged for grades k-5.
  • Minnesota - Minnesota has made about fifteen additions to the ELA standards. They haven't adopted the Common Core Standards for math because their own state standards are more rigorous than the Common Core. The North Star State's math standards are very different from the national Common Core.
  • New York
  • North Carolina hasn't added anything to their standards for the regular classroom. But they do have an "Extended Common Core." In the Extended Common Core, the standard is rewritten in a simpler more direct language. The Extended Common Core is for "Students With the Most Significant Cognitive Disabilities." Ref
  • Pennsylvania - the Quaker State has made big changes to the National Common Core standards. They have reordered and renumbered them. Many of the standards are still identical to the national ones, but the order and numeric identifications are all different. At this time, I can't make customizations for Pennsylvania, but my posters as is will cover 95% of the state standards.
States that have not added to or modified the common core standards.
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Ohio
  • Massachusett
  • Michigan

Friday, April 5, 2013

Reflecting on Open-ended Projects With Lots of Room for Student Creativity

Spring has sprung. Arbor day has come and gone. Earth day is right around the corner. Seems like a good time to reflect on a class project that revolved around our fine leafy friends.

The first semester of the 2012-2013 school year was incredibly hectic for me. We had a new baby in July, and she was waking up several times a night. I also had agreed (why, oh, why?) to take on an extra class in addition to my four art classes and one yearbook class.

I normally put a lot of time and effort into planning lessons. I develop prototypes, rubrics, detailed step by step instructions, videos, do nows, and so on. I also like to come up with new lessons and projects every year. Only about half my projects are repeats from previous years. New stuff keeps me excited and engaged. But it quickly became clear that I was going to have to (gasp) cut some corners to avoid getting buried in work and exhaustion. So I tried something radical and new. I gave my students a very simple project and gave them six weeks to work on it. 

For six weeks, I told my students to create trees! Trees, trees, trees!

I called the project Explore a Muse: trees! árboles! arbres! 树 (I work at a multilingual school).  The parameters were very basic. The assignment description said this:

Use Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketchup, paper and pencil, paint, tape, markers, pencil shavings, or whatever you want to make trees. Push the concept! Be creative! 

There will be a daily progress grade for this. Don't ask, " How many trees do I need to make?"  You should always be making trees!

At first students were shocked. "How can we work on trees for six weeks?" they asked. I told them to "Push the concept," and "dig deep." Along the way I graded them on their daily progress. If they were working on trees for the entire period, they got their daily points. If not, they lost points. It took them some getting used to at first, because they were accustomed to completing assignments and then waiting for the next one. After a while, they got used to it, knew what was expected, and came up with some really interesting ideas. One student really did make a tree out of pencil shavings. Another made a tree out of a splash of cola. Still another was a tree made from cotton balls on a toothpick, which she photographed then colorized with Photoshop.

Things have calmed down since then. Out little one is sleeping twelve hours a night, the yearbook is finished, and I'm not teaching the extra class anymore.  Happily, I have a fun, open ended project that I can use again and again.

p.s. The seed of the idea for this project came from Speak, an excellent teen novel and movie about teen issues. The movie stars Kristen Stewart of the Twilight saga. I used the novel and movie when I taught high school English.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Common Core Standards Posters - New Themes and State Additions for California, New York, and Wisconsin

Over the holiday break, I had a little time to put my nose to the mouse-wheel and make some new themes and state customizations for my Common Core Standards posters.

State Additions

California Kindergarten
Minnesota 4th Grade (Minnesota has adopted the Common Core for ELA only, not math.)
New York State 1st -5th Grades

If you need posters for your state additions, leave a comment below or contact me by email.

New Themes!

Western Theme (giddyup)
Frog Theme (ribbit)

The clipart I used in the frog theme was created by Goodness and Fun.

The clipart in the western theme is by Corazón Dulce.

If you want a specific theme for your classroom, leave a comment below or contact me by email.

Happy new year!