By Gina Kennedy

By Gina Kennedy

More Enrichment Ideas!

Great ideas to differentiate and integrate the real world into your curriculum and create a rigorous learning environment!  

     It is testing week in Texas, so this blog will be rather short.  I know testing is occurring  throughout the country as most Common Core states are testing over the next few weeks as well and I'd like to wish everyone a healthy and happy productive few weeks.  You have so much to celebrate.
     Standardized tests are designed to enable us to compare the performance of students in a relatively efficient way. But how much can tests tell us about what students actually know?  As teachers you have worked hard to make sure your students have flourished emotionally and academically the past seven months.  As I constantly remind teachers, "All you can do is all you can do, if you've done your best; you can do no more!" 
     A "45 question test"  will never be able to measure your student's growth this year or account for all of the hard work involved in preparing  them to be where are today academically.  Take a deep breath over the next few weeks and celebrate all of your classroom's successes this year.

1.  "Selfie Poems"  April is National Poetry Month and I wanted to create a poetry assignment that would allow the students to self-reflect about all that they have accomplished over the past year before  they take their achievement tests.  We do a social emotional lesson every Friday; so this assignment really fit the bill as it accomplished all of my goals in one.  
     My students were given free reign of the Ipad and my cell phone to take "selfie photos" of themselves.  Then they were instructed to write a "Selfie Poem" that would reflect on all of the things about themselves that make them proud.  They had so much fun with this assignment and each students added their own little twist.  

3. "Math Calculation Comic Book"  This is an excellent enrichment math project to use at the end of the year!  With this project, the students are challenged to create their own math comic books. They are also required to use word problem operation clues in their comic book as well as a few other guidelines included in the directions.
     A complete template is included for the comic book, an instruction guide, a rough draft template and an idea page to help students who are having a difficult time coming up with their own unique idea!
     My students had a great time with this project and completed this project in two days. Their final comic books were amazing and humorous.  You may purchase this resource HERE!

Math Calculations Comic Book Examples

Have a  wonderful week, 


Great ideas to differentiate and integrate the real world into your curriculum and create a rigorous learning environment!  

     Before I begin sharing this week's samples of activities that have worked successfully for me; I wanted to share a poster I created with self-reflective questions for classroom teachers.   
    State exams, new curriculum, and a multitude of new standards have presented an overwhelming amount of work, organization and restructuring of how we approach education today.  There is no doubt that our public schools are spending millions of dollars in our classrooms on the development of  interventions for struggling students because of the accountability on state exams.
     My biggest concern is that many of our students who come to school each year on grade level with an abundance of early childhood experiences, as well as students who may be advanced cognitively or simply students who have a high desire to excel academically are being ignored.  
     Parents have many choices these days; charter schools are opening everywhere, private schools are seeing higher enrollments than they have experienced in years and many more parents are turning to homeschooling and other similar options than ever before.  Unless parents live in a rural area, they simply don't have to send their child to the neighborhood school around the corner anymore; there are now other viable options.  
     The future of public schools could become very bleak if every student who exceeds expectations is inadvertently forced to look elsewhere for a challenging education. 
What type of academic bar would be set for our classrooms then? 
Download this free poster HERE!

1. "Grammar Cartoons"  I've always said the way to a student's heart is a great sense of humor.  This theory has guided me through many difficult situations in 27 years of education.   I decided to compile into a group some of the amazingly humorous grammar cartoons that are circulating the internet and of course "school appropriate" for my students.  
     After reading through and discussing the grammar cartoons, I provided my students with some of the main grammar rules we have struggled with this year.  After reading through the cartoons and grammar rules together, the students were then asked to create grammar comics of their own.  I've included a link to download this free activity HERE:

2. "Story Book Mood, Tone and Theme Easy Quick Assessment"  We had not discussed the reading text features of tone, mood or theme for a few weeks and I wanted to do a quick authentic assessment of how well they were able to identify these text features.  
     I told the students to choose six class library story books they wanted to work with from at least three different genres.  I have a smaller reading class with 10 students; so in a larger classroom you would need to use more books or do this with buddies.
     Each student was assigned to read 1-3 story books determined by their length and after reading each story they were instructed to write the tone, mood and theme of the story on a sticky note. They were then invited to place their sticky note next to the title of the book they read.
     When everyone was finished we shared our responses.  The follow-up discussion was extremely beneficial as they were able to take an in depth look at how others viewed the tone, mood and theme as well of each story.

3. "Number line Fraction & Decimal Order"  I find clothespins to be one of the cheapest; but most useful math instructional tools.  I needed a way to periodically review ordering fractions and decimals and number lines.  In order to do this I covered old wooden rulers with duct tape and created 0-1 number lines.  Then I then created sets of clothespins with seven clothespins in each set.  In some of the sets I had only fractions or only decimals and in others I mixed it up with decimals and fractions in order to assess how well they were able to convert the fractions to decimals mentally.
     The students were divided into groups and instructed to order the fractions and decimals on the number line from least to greatest and place them in the appropriate place on the number line.

4. "Inspiration and Technology"  A conversation that we continue to revisit in our classroom involves "inspiration".  I want the students to determine what drives them to want to be successful.  If students aren't inspired, they lack motivation.   My students discovered through conversation that the things that make them happy are the things that inspire them.
     We have short technology "mini sessions" each week and have been working on mastering all the components of Microsoft Word with my students.  
     I told the students to brainstorm the things that make them happy and using Microsoft Word; create a poster that displays exactly what inspires them.  The posters turned out great and it really made them come to grips with how important it is to seek inspiration from everything around us.

5.   "Ask Me About Measurement?"  I ask my students questions all week, it was time to have the students provide the questions. We started a unit on measurement a few weeks ago and I decided to have the students develop questions with measurement terms and measuring tools as the answers.  Added Challenge:  they needed to include a real-life object and alternative unit of measurement associated with that term in their question.   I've included a link to download this free activity HERE:

6.  "Measurement Cerebral Explosion"  In case you haven't noticed the pun; my students decided last week to rename brainstorming sessions as "cerebral explosions". 
      I always like to start the week out with a little cerebral explosion to get the students thinking about the things we discussed the prior week.
      For this measurement activity, I simply asked the students to brainstorm all the vocabulary words they could  think of associated with length, weight, and liquid measurements.  The students were then asked to list all the vocabulary words associated with items that can be used to measure things.  Finally, they were asked to write down reasons or situations that might require people to know the volume or capacity of an item.   I've included a link to download this free copy HERE below:

Have a wonderful week,

More Ways to Add Enrichment to Your Classroom!

More ideas to differentiate and integrate the real world into your curriculum and create a rigorous learning environment!  

1. "STORYTELLING BREAKDOWN"  This is a fun way to review sentence structure, parts of speech, comprehension and listening skills while sharing one of your favorite picture books with your students.  While sharing any short story or picture book with your students, have them record the the nouns, verbs and prepositional phrases from the story.
     After recording the parts of speech, the students will use their data to compose a thorough summary of the story.  Not only is this an effective tool to check their comprehension and listening skills; but this is a great way to review the parts of speech as well as how to write a good summary.  I've included a link to this free DOWNLOAD here.

2. "PREDICTING THE TEXT"  Before sharing an article about a new topic in social studies or science; write the topic on the board.  Ask your students to write down a question they may have about the topic on a piece of paper. 
     Instruct each student to pass their paper on to another student and have them write their question on it as well.  Rotate papers at least ten times until each student has ten questions on their paper.
     Pass out the article of the topic that you're introducing and invite the students to read the article and see how many of the questions that they are able to answer on their list and write the answers down. This not only adds rigor by forcing them to research for answers, but it encourages those investigative reading skills that our students need to develop in order to become successful readers.

3. "I Believe"  We are headed back to school tomorrow after a week off.  I have my "St. Patrick's Day" treats ready, solid plans in tow and a relaxed and refreshed attitude.  I'm also going to use this as an opportunity to review with the students their goals and aspirations as we head into the last nine weeks of school.
     I provide each of the students a copy of the quote below:

After they read the quote above I invited them to share what they believe it will take to make their dreams come true.  I've included the link to DOWNLOAD this activity for free.

4.  "Data Headlines"   I love this website:
 Headline Generators
Students are able to type in their own story about any topic and then create their own headlines  and article in a neat "newspaper looking" format such as this one:

     At this point, I have the students determine a set of five survey questions about food, movies, school issues or anything that is new and currently on their mind.  They must provide a copy of their questions for me to review and then they are responsible for compiling their data.  
     Once they have compiled all their data; they will compile their results into percentages.  They are then asked to write their newspaper article showcasing the results of their data for the "world to see" and create a table or graph to accompany their article as well.
     I have the students print off their newspaper article and display their amazing article and table or graph together in one neat display.

Math and Writing Enrichment Ideas!

Great ideas to differentiate and integrate the real world into your curriculum and create a rigorous learning environment!  

1.  "Multi-Step Math Problems Backwards!"  One way that I challenge my students and ultimately add a new level of depth to multi-step math problem solving is by having them rewrite a multi-step word problem backwards or in reverse.  Completing this task requires the student to apply higher order thinking skills as they rethink the order of events or operations in the problem.

For example:

1.Jarrod wants to ride the Ferris wheel, the roller coaster, and the log ride. The Ferris wheel costs 5 tickets, the roller coaster costs 7 tickets and the log ride costs 1 ticket. Jarrod has 5 tickets. How many more tickets should Jarrod buy?
Solve this problem:  Jarrod needs to buy 8 more tickets.

Rewrite this multi-step word problem backwards:
Jarrod  would like to have 13 tickets because he found out that he will need 1 ticket to ride the log ride, 7 tickets to ride the roller coaster and 5 tickets to ride the Ferris wheel.

2. Daniel is in the orchestra. Johnelle is in the band. There are 39 students in the orchestra and twice that number in the band. There are 23 boys and 13 girls in the choir. If each student only participates in one group, how many students total are there in the orchestra, the band, and the choir?
Solve this problem:  153 students could be in either the orchestra, band or choir

Rewrite this multi-step word problem backwards:  
153 students wanted  to participate in an activity at school. 36 students decided to participate in choir and 23 or them were boys and 23 were girls.  78 students, including Johnelle, decided to participate in band while half of that amount of students participated in the orchestra like Daniel.

By having the students rewrite the problem and inadvertently record the operations used in the problem backwards; it is much easier to assess their true level of understanding of multi-step word problems.

I have included this free DOWNLOAD to try this activity with your own students.

2. "Character Trait Slam!"    When my students are studying character traits they love an activity that we unanimously decided to name the "Character Trait Slam!"  
In this activity the students are given a character trait and they create humorous slams to exaggerate the character trait.  As the students begin to brainstorm their "slams" they will begin thinking on an entirely new level as they attempt to make connections with the most extreme level of the character trait.   When they are finished with their exaggerations; we share them in one big "Character Trait Slam!" 

Actual examples provided my students!
You're so empathetic that you feel bad for the toast when it gets burned!
You're so empathetic that you feel sorry for your homework when it doesn't get done!

You're so intelligent that Albert Einstein called your house for homework help last night!
You're so intelligent that Jane Goodall's apes want to observe and do a study on you!

I have included the free DOWNLOAD to this activity below. i

3.    "Window Watchers!"  I was becoming a bit "underwhelmed" with the quality of my student's writing over the past week.  Spring break is around the corner and their eyes are definitely on the prize.  It appeared that they were not using the same intensity in their work and I needed a writing piece to motivate them and bring back that drive and creativity so I used a prompt that was close to my heart.
       I love my home state of Iowa, I grew up in a small rural farm community and when I visit twice a year in the summer or winter my favorite thing to do is look out the huge bay window in my parent's living room.  In the winter I can look out and see the white sheet of snow with tree branches peeking out and a stillness of life that is almost deafening.  In the summer I  stare at the  multiplying rows of corn, soft green grass, and the herd of cattle fenced in the pasture wandering about without a care in the world.
      I wanted my students to think about what they would like to see if "right now" they could see anything outside that window that they desire.  They were instructed to write their response in a way that what they were seeing would appear more special than anything any of us could ever imagine.  I've included a link to this DOWNLOAD to use with your students.

4. "Volume and Capacity Share!"  Teaching students the concept of volume and capacity and its relationship to measurement can be challenging.  We teach them that the difference between capacity and volume is that, volume is the amount of space taken up by an object, while capacity is the measure of an object's ability to hold a substance but many times students don't know where to draw the line between the two.

As an introduction, invite your students to each bring an empty food box to school; it could be a cereal, jello, cake mix, or even a casserole box.

The next day have them set their empty boxes on their desk.  Provide a large box of math counters (all the same size) and  this Data Sheet for them to fill out on their box or container. Before you begin, provide a mini-lesson on measuring volume by using examples and measuring boxes of your own.  Then show them how to measure capacity by filling a box with counters.

At this point, they are ready to begin recording, measuring and counting: (I have provided the DOWNLOAD to the data sheet below .)  I have each student share their data one by one and as each student is sharing I use engaging questions to reiterate the meanings of volume, capacity and weight.  After the last student has shared their data,  the students usually seem to have a genuine grasp on these measurement concepts.  Last, I have them attach their data sheet to their box and we keep them on display as we continue to investigate these concepts. 

Have a wonderful week, keep your eyes on your prize; each student that walks through your door needs you to be their hero!