Sunday, August 25, 2013

Meet Deb - a new ATUE collaborator!

Meet my motivation: husband Troy, daughters Brooke and Kayla
Hi there!
I’m excited to connect with you all as a new collaborating blogger at All Things Upper Elementary! I’ll share just a little about myself: I am an ESL teacher in a school district in northeast Nebraska, and I am just settling into my 16th year of teaching.  For the most part, I co-teach with several third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers. I love this, as it allows me to provide support for a lot of students and collaborate with some amazing teachers at multiple grade levels as well!

If you’ve visited my blog or been by my store, you’ll know that I LOVE to create “craftivity” resources … and the only thing better than creating them is seeing first-hand how students are engaged by them, enjoy them, and learn from them. Day after day, I see my upper elementary students benefitting from doing craftivities in these important ways:

A s'more from my inference craftivity.
RETENTION – Students retain the key concept being focused on better than most other methods I
have used in the past. I think adding a concrete object to an abstract concept aids my students in remembering the meaning of academic vocabulary words like “inference”, “context clues”, and “figurative language”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this general conversation:

A synonym roll from my synonym craftivity.

Student 1: What is a synonym again?

Student 2: Remember those synonym rolls we made?

Student 1: Oh yeah! The words mean the same!

FOLLOWING WRITTEN DIRECTIONS – Students need to concentrate not only on the concept
they are learning, but also need to focus on following the steps to successfully complete the craftivity. All of my craftivities include direction pages that I project on the wall. Students need to carefully read the directions in order to complete the assignment. (Further, if they get distracted and miss a step, I encourage them to problem-solve on their own for a way to make it work!)

CREATIVITY – Students are given an opportunity to make choices and express themselves. From the color of construction paper they select, to the shades they choose to color an object, to the angles at which they choose to glue their objects or embellish their finished products, no two pieces are ever exactly alike. I love to see the pride in their faces when they bring me their “finished masterpiece”.
Students LOVE to invent new flavors when they are decorating their main idea cones!
Students enjoy creating facial expressions to go with various character traits!
TASK COMPLETION WITHIN TIME CONSTRAINTS – Students enjoy a sense of personal satisfaction when they finish their craftivity. Although most craftivities can be completed fairly quickly, it’s still a project with steps that need to be done logically and systematically. I give my students a certain amount of time to complete the activity in class. If students spend too much time coloring, they know that their materials will be placed in an envelope and sent home to complete on their own time. (At the same time, I do certainly allow for individual differences! I never sit at my desk while students work on their craftivities. I walk around the room conversing with students and cutting pieces for those who are working hard, yet still lag behind.) We educators all realize that every moment is precious, and wasting time is not an option!

WOW!  That was a lot of words!  (Do you feel like you've just walked out of an inservice?!)  Now that you've hung on this long, let me "reward" you with an example of one of my newest craftivity resources!  I created this one over the summer, and I actually had a ton of fun working on it!  I got quite a kick out of recognizing that I use idioms and hyperboles A LOT - especially with my family.  (Can anyone relate?  How many did I just use in the last few sentences?!)  On a more educational note, though, idioms and hyperboles often pose a challenge to many ESL students.  I also had their needs in mind as I created this craftivity.  Even though it's a sorting activity to differentiate between idioms and hyperboles, they are exposed to 16 sentences that have them, and I intend to stop by the desks of my ESL students as they work on this to explain any they do not understand (which could very well be all of them!)

Here's how this craftivity is designed:  Students first read 16 sentences that are written in glasses. They are tasked with determining whether each sentence contains an idiom or a hyperbole. (They color the liquid in the glass yellow if it's an idiom (for idiom-ade), and brown if it's a hyperbole (for hyperbol-tea). Once they have completed that, they go about creating their idiom-ade and hyperbol-tea stand!

Do you use interactive notebooks in your class?  One of the fourth grade classrooms I am co-teaching in is using interactive language/reading notebooks for the first time this year.  I intend to incorporate all of the craftivities we do in that class into them.  In the case of this idiom/hyperbole craftivity, I will instruct students to select one idiom-sentence glass and one hyperbole sentence glass to glue into their notebooks.  Next to each glass, I will instruct them to write the meaning of each concept (in their own words, of course).  Then they will have this visual reminder and written description of each concept at their fingertips to refer back to for the remainder of the school year!

The finished products of all my craftivity resources can be used to make a unique bulletin board or fun school hallway display!

I mentioned "rewarding you" a couple of paragraphs back... I'd love for you to try this Idiom and Hyperbole craftivity in YOUR classroom this year, so I'm offering is as a flash freebie exclusively on ATUE!  It would cost you $2.50 at my TpT store, but through August 31, it's available HERE to download for free!  (Want to share this resource with your team or other colleagues?  Please do, but please honor copyright laws and rather than simply passing along the file, please direct them to the blog to pick up the freebie for themselves.  While they are here, they can sign up to follow ATUE to find out about future freebies!)

Before I leave you to make the most of the rest of your day, I'll share with you my LINKS:
You can find all of my craftivity resources (plus more) at my TpT store!
First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth, Homeschooler -
Please hop over to my blog - Crafting Connections -  and sign up to follow it!  (There, I will regularly blog about my efforts to help upper elementary learners "craft" meaningful connections!)

{GIVEAWAY ALERT}:  Stop over to my blog before Wednesday, 8/28 and enter a giveaway I've got going on!


  1. Your craftivities are brilliant! I teach 100% Hispanic population and this sort of activity really helps resonate the skill with them! Thanks so much for sharing your creativity with us!

    Teaching to Inspire in 5th

  2. Welcome, Deb!! We are so incredibly excited to have you as a part of our group!!

    Mathematically yours,
    Jamie aka MissMathDork!

  3. Replies
    1. My pleasure! Come back and let me know what your students thought of it once you've completed it with your class!

  4. wow great things have to share here and essay writing service available for students online. We help the students online


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