The HappyEdugator

The HappyEdugator
People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Using Modeling Clay and Google Chromebooks

As we were reading The White Giraffe, I introduced an element of fun into my middle school classroom, and my kids really loved it. For who doesn't enjoy modeling with clay? That's right, modeling clay doesn't have to be just for preschool or art class. I had my students make animals and characters from the book with modeling clay, and then write about it. I was surprised at the creativity that they had! And the smiles brought joy to my heart!

When I was planning this project, I was trying to think of a good way to keep the desks clean, so I wouldn't have a major clean up job afterwards. I was going to just use some wax paper for mats, but then I looked in my desk and found an old package of transparencies! I don't use them anymore, now that new technology has really made them obsolete. They worked like a charm, and I think better than the wax paper because they were stronger. When they were finished, we just threw them away. (I hate throwing things out. I know  I could have had a "helper" clean them up and save them for next time, but I just had so many, I went ahead an made them disposable.)

After the experience, we wrote about it using strong verbs and adjectives. First we brainstormed lots of words on the Smart Board, and then we wrote a paragraph describing our animal and how we created it as as a "ticket out the door."

We are still writing about our endangered animals in our Endangered Animal Brochures. The kids are really interested in the research they are doing for their projects, and I am really enjoying seeing them learn how to create a brochure. I was going to try to teach them how to use Publisher, but I decided to just make a template for them to use in Word so I wouldn't spend so much time teaching the program specifics. that way we could focus on standards such as citing our sources. I posted the project parameters in my TPT store, to which I will be adding the brochure template, and I have also have some PowerPoints on endangered animals if you want to do the project. My kids loved the one on penguins, which introduces the "jackass" penguin. You should have heard the giggles. :)

We had a very exciting week this week when we were able to use Chromebooks (like mini laptops) in the classroom! Our school just purchased a hundred Samsung Chromebooks and thirty are on a cart for each grade level to use...priority for Language Arts! Yay! My kids eyes were as big as saucers when I was able to give each one their very own "laptop" to use on their desk. Another cool thing...our district set up Google accounts for every student and teacher in the county! So, I spent two days introducing my students to Google docs, and how they can share and collaborate on their work. Also, they can turn their work in electronically or email me. I heard one of my students say as she was leaving my classroom, " This was the most fun I have had all year!"

Here is a FREEBIE for you...Writing a Diamante Poem Handout!

Happy Teaching!
Deborah Hayes
aka HappyEdugator

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fun Fabulous February

February is a fabulous month for teaching. Besides really buckling down and getting ready for state testing, I love doing special activities for Groundhog Day, Black History month, Valentine's Day, and President's Day. Many great authors have birthdays this month, and even the great inventor, Thomas Edison. 
One activity I have used to engage my readers and inspire my writers is to show a PowerPoint of February Famous Authors, and then have students choose one to research and write about. I made slides on famous authors who had birthdays in February such as: Langston Hughes, Jerry Spinelli, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Charles Dickens, to name a few. Each slide tells a little about the classic author and their most famous works. 

Here is a link to the PowerPoint if you are interested:

On Valentine's Day, I LOVE to pass out my bookmarks as Valentines to my students. Check them out at:

I also have fun with a candy mythology listening activity. I have my students read the story of Demeter and Persephone, and after we have discussed the story, I read to them my mythology story full of candy names they have to listen for! They love it! Then they make puns afterwards to make a class joke book. 
This activity is available at: 

For Black History month, we like to watch the movie The Rosa Parks Story, and afterward, we watch Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech. Then we read Robert Kennedy's speech after his assassination. I also use a PowerPoint on Dr. Martin Luther King, which engages students in a writing assignment at the end. By the time they are writing, they have plenty of background knowledge to pull from!

Lots to do this month!

Have fun! 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tomorrow is the big SUPER SALE at TPT!

Just a reminder, although I am sure most of you already know that tomorrow is the big super sale at I am having a 20% off sale starting today, and tomorrow TPT will take an additional 10% off at checkout! Wow! Just enter the code SUPER at checkout.

Have a great Sunday!

All my best,
Deborah Hayes
aka HappyEdugator