Student Driven End of the Year Memory Books

29 April 2016

The end of the year is near...yahoo! Virginia varies in school ending times, but we're all on the home stretch. Here's an easy, authentic, LOW PREP, idea for an end of the year memory book.

There are hundreds of options for end of the year memory books. Many teachers have a favorite memory book (I always do an end of the year countdown book) but here is an idea you may want to do in addition to your "go to" book to provide an authentic writing experience for your students.

Like many other teachers, I stocked up on the Target Dollar Spot blank books earlier in the year. I chose the 16 page version that had 8 in a pack for $3. That's right...it will cost less than $10 for a class set of books. If you don't have blank books already, you can always just staple blank paper together.


This is an ongoing project for my students during the last few weeks of school. They work on their books for morning work or when they finish work early. I give each student a blank book and a sheet of printed subject labels. They choose the topics they are interested in and want to include in their memory book. I believe student choice is SO IMPORTANT, especially in something as personal as a memory book. One student may love word study while another may cringe at the thought of it, hence why it should or should not be included in their book!


Students simply stick the topic label to the top of the page, write about it, and illustrate. It is so sweet to read what they write and what they consider important. The open-endedness of this project really allows their writing to be authentic and focus on what is important in their school lives. I print a set of class pictures complete with our class name, year, and school to glue to the front of the book. Students can also get autographs from their classmates on the back inside cover.

To help with the prep of this project you can download the FREE labels.


These is just a word document to be printed on standard address labels in comic sans (blahhhhh), but I figured you could edit the font to your favorite and change the topics as necessary. I used Hello Olive from Hello Literacy Fonts for mine. If you're not into labels, you could always just print topics for students to cut and glue or just give students a list of topics they can write about. Whatever method you choose, students will love the freedom of choosing their own topics for their book.

Wishing you and your students a great few last weeks of school. Summer is near which means lots of soaking up the sun while enjoying a great book!

Proposed Changes to the Virginia Studies Standards of Learning

28 April 2016
The Virginia Studies Standards of Learning have been updated and revised, by the Virginia Department of Education, for the 2016-2017 school year. Find out the changes the major changes that are coming to Virginia Studies so that you can prepare!

               
Hello, this is Meghan from Vestal’s 21st Century Classroom! Throughout the past month, many of the incredible teacher bloggers for this site have been writing about the revised math standards that will go into effect at the start of the 2016-2017 school year. But, math is not the only set of Standards of Learning (SOLs) getting an update this year. The history and social sciences SOLs have also be been updated and revised. Today, I will provide an overview of the changes coming to the Virginia Studies SOLs and how you can prepare for them.


I think anytime we hear the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) is planning to revise standards we cringe. The idea of revising standards has become associated with major changes to what is already being taught and more work for teachers. But, I find the revisions to the Virginia Studies SOLs to be nothing but positive. With changes throughout to the wording of the standards, such as “identify” being changed “describe” and “knowledge” being changed to “understanding,” it is clear the VDOE is not trying to completely change or add a bunch of standards. Rather, their goal is to help students gain a deeper understanding and go more below the surface of the current standards. I am excited that the updates to these standards will allow us to move past creating robots who can recite facts about history and move forward towards creating more 21st Century students capable of thinking critically, collaborating with others, communicating ideas, and creatively expressing opinions about events and people throughout history.

Standard VS.1-‘Skills’ has by far undergone the greatest number of changes from what was established in 2008. These changes incorporate three main ideas; tie in more concepts about economic decision making, examine and analyze more types of historical sources, and CRITICAL THINKING. I capitalize ‘critical thinking’ because almost every change made to the revised Virginia Studies standards has to do with incorporating more critical thinking. Previously, students were required to perform tasks such as sequencing events, interpreting historical documents, and discussing issues orally and in writing. Students will now be expected to perform tasks such sequencing events and then providing well thought out connections between each event. Other tasks include explaining different points of views throughout history and understanding what causes a person or culture to maintain those ideas. Students are expected to gain this deeper comprehension of history through the analysis of a variety of sources and conducting research. Since VS.1 has evolved the most, I have provided the entire updated VS.1 standards.

The student will demonstrate skills for historical thinking, geographical analysis, economic decision making, and responsible citizenship by

a) analyzing and interpreting artifacts and primary and secondary sources to understand events in Virginia history;

b) analyzing the impact of geographic features on people, places, and events to support an understanding of events in Virginia history;

c) interpreting charts, graphs, and pictures to determine characteristics of people, places, or events in Virginia history;

d) recognizing points of view and historical perspectives;

e) comparing and contrasting ideas and cultural perspectives in Virginia history;

f) determining relationships with multiple causes or effects in Virginia history;

g) explaining connections across time and place;

h) using a decision-making model to identify costs and benefits of a specific choice made;

i) practicing good citizenship skills and respect for rules and laws while collaborating,
compromising, and participating in classroom activities; and

j) investigating and researching to develop products orally and in writing.

Changes to standard VS.2, ‘Virginia: The Physical Geography and Native Peoples,’ have been minimal. While students are still expected to identify the same geographical features and Native American tribes, they will now be expected to make more connections between the two. Another positive change made is that students will no longer be expected to memorize a long list current state-recognized tribes and their locations. Rather, students will be expected to describe the lives of Native Americans in Virginia today. Removing mass memorization of specific facts is a major component to the revised standards. Below, you can see the wording for the parts of the standard that have been changed.

The student will demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between physical geography and the lives of the native peoples, past and present, of Virginia by

g) describing the lives of American Indians in Virginia today.

The changes to VS.3, VS.4, & VS.5, ‘Colonization and Conflict: 1607 through the American Revolution,’ have also been minor. The only significant difference made to the standards related to Jamestown and colonization (VS.3) is students will be expected to describe the geographic and economic influences for settling at Jamestown. Significant changes made to standards relating to the American Revolution (VS.5) include the addition of the Marquis de Lafayette to list of people students should know in VS.5d and the removal of the Battle of Great Bridge and the ride of Jack Jouett from the list of events students should recognize in VS.5c. Here is how these updated strands will now appear:

VS.3 The student will demonstrate an understanding of the first permanent English settlement in America by

b) describing the economic and geographic influences on the decision to settle at Jamestown;

VS.4 The student will demonstrate an understanding of life in the Virginia colony by

c) explaining the reasons for the relocation of Virginia’s capital from Jamestown to
Williamsburg;

VS.5 The student will demonstrate an understanding of the role of Virginia in the American Revolution by

b) identifying the various roles of American Indians, whites, enslaved African Americans, and free African Americans in the Revolutionary War era, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, the Marquis de Lafayette, and James Lafayette;

c) identifying the importance of the American victory at Yorktown; and

d) examining the reasons for the relocation of Virginia’s capital from Williamsburg to Richmond.

VS.6, ‘Political Growth and Western Expansion: 1781 to the Mid 1800’s,’ undergoes a few small revisions that will help students to think more critically about the time period. Most notably, is the addition of ‘technological advances’ to VS.5c, which previously only asked students to provide geographical reasons for westward expansion. For teachers, VS.5c also clarifies that students are only expected to understand westward expansion through the first half of the 1800’s.

The student will demonstrate an understanding of the role of Virginia in the establishment of the new American nation by

c) explaining the influence of geography and technological advances on the migration of
Virginians into other states and western territories in the first half of the 1800s.

Yay! There are hardly any changes made to VS.7 and VS.8, ‘Civil War and Postwar Era.’ Other than a few revisions made to the wording, which prompts students to examine the people and events of the Civil War with a more critical eye, no content has been added or deleted.

Finally, I think the VDOE did an excellent job of acknowledging how new history is made each day with the revisions made to VS.9 and VS.10, ‘Virginia: 1900 to the Present.’ Previously, the standards required students to learn about Virginia in the 20th and 21st Centuries. But, the wording of the standards has been altered so that students are required to learn about 20th Century Virginia and beyond. A new strand has been added to VS.9 that will require students to examine how national events of the 1900’s, such as women’s suffrage and the Great Depression, impacted Virginia. Also, many strands from VS.9 and VS.10 have been removed or revised in a way that makes more sense and will be easier on teachers and students. For example, students will no longer be expected to provide reasons for people coming to Virginia from other states and countries. Students will still be expected to know the products and industries for Virginia but they will no longer be expected to match those to specific regions. This strand has been modified so students will gain a deeper understanding of the products and industries and why they exist in Virginia, rather than just memorizing a list. I have provided all the revised strands for VS.9, since it is undergoing some significant revisions, but I have only listed the updated strands for VS.10.

VS.9The student will demonstrate an understanding of Virginia during the twentieth century and beyond by

a) describing the economic and social transition from a rural, agricultural society to a more urban, industrialized society;

b) describing how national events, including women’s suffrage and the Great Depression, affected Virginia and its citizens;

c) describing the social and political events in Virginia linked to desegregation and Massive Resistance and their relationship to national history; and

d) describing the political, social, or economic impact made by Maggie L. Walker; Harry F. Byrd, Sr.; Oliver W. Hill, Sr.; Arthur R. Ashe, Jr.; A. Linwood Holton, Jr.; and L. Douglas Wilder.

VS.10 The student will demonstrate an understanding of Virginia government, geography, and economics by

b) describing the major products and industries important to Virginia’s economy;

Overall, I think Virginia Studies teachers have little to fear and lots to be excited about with the revised standards. While these revisions will go into effect at the start of the 2016-2017 school year, the former standards will still be tested this school year. As you are preparing for the Virginia Studies SOL here are some of my favorite Virginia Studies products, both from my store and other stores. All of these products should be updated, over the summer, to reflect the revised standards. But, if you would like to get the current formats AND the updates once they have been added, everything in my store is on sale April 28-29! 



**Clip art by Zip-a-dee-doo-da, Creative Clips, & Ashley Hughes

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The Virginia Studies Standards of Learning have been updated and revised, by the Virginia Department of Education, for the 2016-2017 school year. Find out the changes the major changes that are coming to Virginia Studies so that you can prepare!
Have a great day!

17 FUN Comprehension Strategies

26 April 2016
Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather back for the third and final post in my series. In case you missed them, I began with sharing a view of my classroom on Sunday, a glimpse of me doing what I do, and today, I am sharing a bit of what I've learned so far.



Don't Forget To Have Fun - Dress Up!

25 April 2016
Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather.

Don't Forget To Have Fun - Dress Up!

It's always fun to take a break from the regular workday and add in a little fun.  Working in a Primary School there are many opportunities to dress up.  We celebrate Reading Month yearly and we have a "sunshine committee" (they plan outings and fun dress up days).  There are plenty of teachers in my school that dress up for these scheduled events.  We have a positive atmosphere to be creative.  I hope this motivates you to either participate in your school events, initiate some fun school dress up days, or add to your already fabulous style.

It Has Always Been An Issue

Yes, I'm a dress up junkie.  I need an intervention of sorts.  No one is safe from my need for dress up.  Before I was married, I made my husband dress up like a woman for Halloween.  He still married me!  To me, that is like signing a contract that says, "Forever more I will let her dress me up!"  See..... it is a problem!  Then my daughter was born and my husband was given a respite.  When Kelsey grew up and moved to California (not because of me, I promise!) I had to turn inward and bring the fun to school.

Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teachingDo you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
My husband as Richard Simmons for a race at the beach.  He doesn't look like he minds it too much.

My daughter over the years.  Born into this!

"Work is either fun or drudgery.  It depends on your attitude.  I like to have fun." -Colleen C. Barrett     

Yes, I'm fortunate that the people around me, and the building I work in, promote and support fun.  BUT, I am a teacher..... my costumes have to be inexpensive and not take a lot of time to fabricate.  Enjoy a laugh at my expense!

Character Dress Up 

Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
Pete The Cat
Pete The Cat:  With a simple yellow polo shirt borrowed from my husband and a pair of sweats from Walmart, this costume was simple!  I cut off the extra length of the pants to make the tail.  It was just pinned on.  The rest of the costume was printed out on a printer and laminated.  I glued the laminated mask onto some old sunglasses with the lenses popped out.  I glued some pipe cleaners as whiskers, put on some red kicks, and I was done!

Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
Miss Viola Swamp:  I was frightened to see how close I could come to looking like the "meanest teacher".  I used a rubber nose from a few Halloweens prior, put on rouge with vigor, and some black lipstick.  My go-to black dress and witch stockings from the dollar store were the bulk of the outfit.  Top it off with a printed picture to tape onto your school badge!




Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
Olivia with Pete The Cat
Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
Lady Bug Girl
Olivia:  The only item I had to buy for this costume was the stockings.  The neck tie is a scrap from a junk box at school.  The nose was made out of a toilet paper roll, felt, black elastic, and a sharpie.  The ears were found on sale after Halloween.

Lady Bug Girl:  My boots were borrowed from the Pete the Cat (left).  My wings and antennae were from a costume my daughter wore years ago.  I bought some tulle to make the skirt and added black construction paper dots for the boots.  Sadly most of the dots fell off by this time of day!

Not Just The 100th Day of School!

Many teachers dress up on the 100th day of school.  It's a milestone!  Why not?  I agree!  But our school goes a little further (or less) than that!

Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
 Look at this group of teachers celebrating the 50th day of school!  Why not celebrate the ability to count to 50 and discuss past and present standards of learning at the same time?  Finding a big skirt is easy these days.  My skirt was from a time when my daughter was in a presentation of Grease at her high school.  I tied a scarf around my neck and tied one on my ponytail and off I went!  What a comfortable outfit!  As you see, many of the other teachers used creative ideas and looked stinkin' cute!

Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
The 80th day of school was celebrated like this!  I used to be a student that REALLY wanted to dress like this in the 80s but my babysitting funds didn't allow it.  I was in my glory!  For under $20 I found the top (skirt attached), pants, belt, headband, and glove.  Those awesome sneakers were borrowed from my daughter and I purchased some rubber band bracelets to wear (on my ears too).

The Sunshine Committee and More

Gaze your eyes upon these beauties.  Keep in mind I did have to drive to and from school.  Driving the speed limit was super important on these days.  How would you explain this to a police officer?


Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching






Nerd Day (A Sunshine Committee-created day) and St. Patrick's Day are always fun for the teachers and students. 
Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teachingDo you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching

This was Prom Day!  You were supposed to dress up like you were going to the prom.  I just couldn't be mainstream, so I took an old tuxedo and an old dress and sewed them together.  Make up and barrette were only applied to one side.  This was a ton of fun and honestly was way easier than you'd think.  You just have to give it a try.  I remember my husband saying to me, "Do you have any idea what you're doing?"  I replied, "No!"


Do you have dress up days at school?  Make the most of them!  This post has a plethora of ideas you can borrow to add spice to your teaching
On Super Hero Day, I was drawing a blank when it came to ideas.  As I browsed for costumes they were all too costly.  Then I came up with the idea to be an original super hero:  Super Bucket Filler.  Our school is a "bucket filling community" and I use individual bucket filling in my classroom for behavior management.  I made the cape with material that was on sale, glued an extra bucket to a headband, and another one to a classroom pointer.
Silver Day!  Believe it or not I own that dress!  It's really cute but really, really, SILVER!  I covered an old pair of boots, made arm bands, and covered a headband with aluminum foil.  The girls in my class loved this outrageous outfit!

Would you?  

Dress up days are the best medicine for overworked students and data-driven teachers.  They should be mandatory in every school.  Does your school allow this kind of tomfoolery?  Have you had dress up days that you'd like to share?  I would love to see them and generate some fresh ideas for those who enjoy it.













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Make Your Classroom Theme-erific!

24 April 2016

Hi! This is Heather from Campfire Curriculum with Helpful Heather. First blog post ever alert!!!

If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.

Make Your Classroom Theme-erific

I know that you are thinking, "My classroom theme? It's April!" Yes! Summer is right around the corner. That's when teachers have creative free time. We shop at garage sales and think about our classrooms (which should be illegal).

There are so many creative teachers out there. Many of us enjoy classroom themes. I've met teachers that change their theme yearly. Not me! I like to build upon my theme year after year. The only stipulations that I have before bringing an item into my room (or creating one) is that it must serve a real purpose! Cute items are nice, but we don't have the room for that. Let's get really creative and make our classrooms effective and fun!

Camping Theme

Big surprise! My theme is a camping theme. I enjoy camping and anyone can camp! This is how I created my domain name Campfire Curriculum.
If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.
A reading tent is a big hit! The students love to read quietly in here. On this tent, the sides are mesh and a teacher can keep an eye on their student at all times.
If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.
Finish your writing using our "Camperific Writing Rules" and you get to read your story to the class! I bet you could find a chair at a garage sale and turn it into a wonderful Author's Chair!
If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.
I have three boats in my classroom. This is the smallest. We can always use book storage and these are so adorable!
If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.
My leaders of the day and student readers are allowed to chill out in camping chairs. The students are cozy and they fold up easily! Look for those summer sales!
If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.
This was my last summer's creation! I used a large bucket filled with rocks to steady this sign. The bucket is covered with fabric. My husband who is NOT crafty (shhhhhh) used scrap wood and cut the corners to make arrows. After a few coats of stain and paint labels, it was almost ready. I used double sided (heavy duty) Velcro to adhere them to the post. When teaching alphabetical order this is the perfect manipulative.
If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.
This is my centers/stations wheel. It's made out of foam board and the laminated items are attached Velcro for quick station changes. The center is just a nut and bolt. Don't zoom in or you will see tiny finger prints. The students are in charge of turning the wheel.
If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.
I use coolers for center work and spelling groups. The labels on the front are laminated for durability. These coolers are small and easily lifted by first graders. I love the way they stack upon each other for quick and easy storage. Again.... look for those summer sales!
If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.
I bought these frog gardening pads in the $1 section of a local Target. When students are involved in an activity (such as the Smartboard, where students want to crowd each other up at the board) the frogs give them their own space/seat and help maintain a sense of behavior management.
If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.
At first I thought that this little grill (given to me by my Principal) was going to break my rule for theme decor. Now it lends itself to being an area to introduce a new kind of literature..... cook books! I look for all sorts of cook books and we change them out weekly. Doesn't that fish look tasty?
If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.
I use my lantern every day! The candle inside runs on a AA battery. I turn the light on when I am working with guided reading groups. My students know that when the lantern is lit they shouldn't interrupt me (except for emergencies). It has worked better than anything else I've tried!
If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.

My log pillow pile! I made these with very little skill. I bought the material online and I have questionable sewing skills. The inside is a rolled up $1 towel wrapped with packing tape and surrounded by batting. They stack up beautifully and the students love to read while resting upon them.
If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.

I have two leaders of the day. On the first day of school students draw a picture of themselves on the plate. When they see their name and face they know that they are a leader. It may be a stretch, but I use paper plates a lot when I'm camping!

If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.I was given this picnic basket by someone who was throwing it out. I gave it a good scrub and painted a cute design on it. Now it's my "Buddy Reading Box". Students can read to a stuffed animal for buddy reading. Boys and girls alike love this addition to the classroom.
If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.
No wall space? Put your word wall on the ceiling! We stargaze for words with flashlights. I even have a center/station called "Star Gaze". I love when students are engaged in writing and they pause, look up to the ceiling, find their word, and write! They very quickly learn to look up for words and it has been the answer to the wall space conundrum.

If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.If you're looking for camping theme ideas, look no further. This post is filled with ideas.This is my reading stump. I found a bright pink ottoman on sale at Target for $4. I covered it with material and used hot glue and a staple gun to keep the material in place. I keep whisper phones and fun reading glasses (lenses removed) inside the stump.

How About You?

What is your theme? Have you ever thought about making sure that your classroom additions are relevant? I'm sure that I won't keep my camping theme forever but it sure is fun right now! Please let me know your theme-erific ideas. I'd love to hear from you.


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If you're looking for camping classroom theme ideas, look no further! This post is filled with ideas you will LOVE from Campfire Curriculum.
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