Calm your students with soothing water sounds

WaterscapesThe sound of moving water is incredibly soothing and very effective at calming students.  Here are five easy ways to bring the sound of water into your classroom.

Buy a fountain.  When you’re trying to create a falling-water sound, nothing beats the real thing.  Fountains at every price point help you make it happen.  Under $25 fountain, under $50 fountain, fancy fountain.

Buy a CD.  I like the nature music/sounds of Dan Gibson.  My favorite water sounds CD is Waterscapes.  It has all kinds of water—rain, waterfall, bubbling brook, ocean waves.  You can play the CD through a few times, then put it on random to mix things up.

Use Pandora and other Internet radio channels.  Tell Pandora to play Dan Gibson music, ocean waves music, or other similar sounds.  The Spa channel is good for water sounds, too.  It’s best if you can spring for a subscription so that Pandora doesn’t play ads.  Another good option: work for a district that blocks the ads, giving you the no-commercial sound for free.

Buy a machine that generates a water sound.  You can bring nature sounds of all kinds into your classroom with a machine favored by spas.  Or, go for the budget option and buy (or repurpose) a Lullaby Sound Machine meant to soothe babies to sleep.  The machine will soothe grade-school kids, too!  Just don’t play the lullabies.

Play Internet videos.  A quick search for water sounds for studying yields many hours-long videos that play water sounds.  If your school’s system will allow, stream away.

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Posted in Classroom Management,Classroom setup,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Apr 28, 2014


FREE worksheet about “If” by Rudyard Kipling

Here is a FREE worksheet written by a National Board Certified Teacher to help students comprehend “If” by Rudyard Kipling.  “If” is an inspirational poem that complements lessons on character.  It’s a perfect choice for National Poetry Month.bookonhead

My students and I love Rudyard Kipling’s “If.”  We read it every year, and I often print a special copy on decorated paper as an end-of-year gift.  The poem is best appreciated by just reading and discussing it, but a multiple-choice reading comprehension worksheet can’t hurt.

The questions help students interpret the poem and understand its theme and central ideas.  Still, it’s a tricky worksheet.  I like to read the poem with students, then let them try the worksheet.  That gives students a chance to show what they comprehended on their own.  Afterward, we can discuss the worksheet, share our favorite parts, and appreciate nuances like rhyme scheme, repetition, enjambment, etc.

Click here for the two-page pdf file.  Page one is the worksheet; page two is the poem.  That way, it’s easy to create a two-sided worksheet.

I know you and your students will like “If.”  I hope you also like the worksheet!

Answers: 1 a, 2 c, 3 b, 4 e, 5 e, 6 c

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Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Apr 21, 2014


Free Divergent Worksheet: Create Your Own Faction

DivergentEngage your students with a FREE Divergent worksheet written by a National Board Certified Teacher.

Students love Divergent, with good reason.  It speaks to the clique-plagued teenage experience.  It shows students a way out of the conformity while acknowledging that individuality has a price.

Challenge your students to create their own faction within the Divergent  universe.  This worksheet walks students through the process, allowing them to think deeply about their faction.  The questions serve as a window into an author’s prewriting process.  Students can imagine author Veronica Roth pondering these possibilities as she crafted her story.

The printable pdf worksheet poses eight questions that should take students a class period to answer.  You can extend the assignment by asking students to write an essay, advertisement, brochure, or editorial about their faction.  Creative students might want to try their hand at fan fiction, describing an initiate’s experience of joining the faction.

  1. Faction emphasis: which virtue or value will your faction emphasize?  Brainstorm, then choose.
  2. Faction name: use a thesaurus to give your faction a distinctive name.  For example, Dauntless sounds much better than Brave and Abnegation sounds better than Selfless.
  3. Contribution to society: what role does your faction fill?  What are its responsibilities?
  4. Faction manifest: describe your faction’s mission and vision.
  5. Overkill: what is the downside of the faction’s emphasis on one value?  What does the faction lose by emphasizing one virtue?
  6. Aptitude test: what challenge would identify people who are well-suited to your faction?
  7. Initiation: what is your faction’s rite of passage?
  8. Wardrobe: how do people in your faction dress?  What accessories do they choose?
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Posted in FREE Worksheets,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Apr 14, 2014


Memorize poetry and learn vocabulary: “There is no frigate like a book” by Emily Dickinson

argenrechallengeStudents learn a great deal from memorizing poetry.  Repeated readings build fluency, familiarity with vocabulary, and appreciation of language.  The act of memorizing helps students learn how to teach themselves.  Memorizing poetry is a great activity for National Poetry Month.

“There is no frigate like a book” by Emily Dickinson is a great poem for your class to memorize.  The poem sets the tone for a language arts class because of its theme of “reading takes us places.”  The structure and rhythm of the poem are very much like a nursery rhyme, but with more sophistication.  The poem has some challenging vocabulary, but students can handle it.

I got the idea for memorizing this particular poem from my younger sister’s AP English teacher, Tom Meschery.  Fun fact: he was the first Russian to play in the NBA.  Seriously!  He played in the NBA, and was a rookie teammate of Wilt Chamberlain’s during the game in which he scored 100 points. Mr. Meschery, besides being an inspiring English teacher and NBA player, is also a poet.  What a guy!  Click here to read an article about Tom Meschery.  His most recent book of poetry is Some Men.  His book of basketball poetry is Over the rim.

Mr. Meschery challenged his AP English classes to memorize “There is no frigate like a book.”   Every student did.  You can imagine how grown-up my third graders felt when I told them that memorizing the poem was a high school assignment, but I felt they could handle it.  A bribe of candy when they completed the task and bam!  Every third grader learned it.

Below is the poem with vocabulary words at the end.  Click here for a printable pdf of the poem with vocabulary.  I formatted it to fit on half a sheet of paper so you can conserve resources.

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry –

This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
–Emily Dickinson

frigate: a fast and heavily armed naval vessel of the late 18th and early 19th centuries
courser: a swift and strong horse, frequently used during the Middle Ages as a warhorse
prance: to spring from the hind legs, to move by springing, like a horse
traverse: the act of passing through, or a crossing
oppress: to burden with cruel or unjust impositions or restraints
toll: a payment or fee charged for some right or privilege, as for passage along a road or over a bridge
frugal: not wasteful, economical, inexpensive
chariot: a type of carriage (as in horse and carriage)
bear: to hold up or support

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Posted in Fun With Literacy,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Apr 7, 2014