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Hip Hop History

To say I love rap and hip hop is an understatement.

Teaching history is my jam.
Combine the two - could it get much better?

I was introduced to Flocabulary by a student.  I was smitten.
Rap songs about Social Studies?  Yes PLEASE!

Then, a student challenged me to a freestyle battle.  I agreed.  With one condition.
Theme:  Ancient India's Geography
Challenge Accepted.

I won the epic freestyle and we wrote down the lyrics.  With the use of some rhyming dictionaries and a beat made on an empty table, my two challengers performed a rap we wrote together.

About the Geography of Ancient India.
My students used content vocabulary in a rhyming format.
Himalaya.  Check.
Ganges River.  Check.
Deccan Plateau.  Check.

Geography of India Rap

So now it is an integral part of my teaching.
I bought some rhyming dictionaries and some microphones that plug into the headphone jack.

I moved to Civics this year, but my students can jam to words like representation, interpretation, and Constitution!
Click the link to enter for a prize!

Writing Wednesday Link Up! RADS Writing Process

After teaching 6th grade for the past five years, I've become accustomed to the moans and groans that accompany a request for a 6 sentence paragraph.  Pulling a 5 paragraph DBQ (Document Based Question) essay was a year long process.  Students needed to be able to state a thesis, add details using text evidence, and summarizing the prompt.  The students were not writing on grade level and were not addressing the prompts properly.

I used the RADS Writing Process.  Click the photo to purchase for only $2.00!

I used a form to help the students organize their thoughts to process a higher order question.  I used scaffolding to help the students build up their writing process.  We began as a whole class and completing the RADS using a Doc Camera.

Students can use a worksheet and complete or can use the worksheet as a template and complete in their notebooks. 

I like to have students peer edit.  The easiest process is to give the students 4 colors of highlighters-a color for Restate, Answer, Details, and Summarize.

In these examples. you can see how the students peer edited to make sure they had each component of the writing process.  This has really helped my middle schoolers build their writing and process a higher order question, support with details, and write a proper summary.

5 Apps for Every Classroom! Teacher and Student Approved!

  • Technology is revolutionizing the modern day classroom. It is majorly due to the increasing awareness of the extent to which quality education matters. Many startups and tech giants such as Google, are motivated to improve the way teachers teach students by launching interactive and intuitive smartphone apps. A collection of such apps which really make teaching efficient and highly productive is given below:Technology is being integrated into education in new ways each year.  The amount of apps can seem overwhelming and teachers can feel left out if they are not tech equipped in their classrooms.
  • These apps can be used by any teacher with a smart phone.
  • Some apps can be used by students with devices, whether BYOD or classroom devices.


My county recently introduced a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program.
I currently teach in a Title 1 school with a 100% free lunch rate.  That means realistically, most of my students do not have a device to bring.  With some grant proposals and a Donors Choose project, I was able to receive 22 Amazon Fire Kindles for my classroom. 

This school year will begin with a 1:1 technology ratio.  I’m excited to institute technololgical learning in my classroom but am a little anxious since the tablets are considered “Personal Property” and not protected  as “School Property”.  I’ve spent some time researching procedures and expectations for classroom technology and BYOD.

I’m going to be using a Red Light Use System:
  • Red Light:  No electronics.  Teacher should not see any devices.
  • Yellow Light:  Facedown on corner of the desk, use only with permission.
  • Green Light:  Use for intended purpose to complete the task.
This is a link for a great online Stoplight that you can use with your projector!
Here's a link to a great set of BYOD Stoplight Posters.

I used Google Forms and a QR Generator to create a log to track device use.  I attached each deviced to a Google Form and attached the form to a QR code.   I stuck the QR Code on the back of each device with a sticker.  I use my phone to scan the code and type in which student has which device.  Each device is numbered and has it’s own form and URL.  With Google Forms, I can pull up an Excel sheet of all devices and each student who uses it.

TIP # 1
Begin the school year fresh with clear expectations and procedures.  Students need to be told what is appropriate use for their devices.  Post these expectations in the classroom and have the students keep a copy in their student notebooks.

  • P – Purpose for using device is always educational
  • R – Responsible use of devices is always expected
  • I – Instructions for device use will always be followed
  • D – Devices must always be using the school’s WiFi network
  • E – Everyone will always conduct him or herself responsibly online 

TIP # 2

Provide students with a parental permission form to keep on file.  Have the students complete a Student Digital Contract.

Digital Social Contract:

As a student,
  •   I am responsible for the choices I make when I use technology,
  •    I understand that using technology effectively is a skill that is essential to my success, and
  •    I understand that I am responsible when I use technology at school.
  •  For keeping my personal computer devices secure when I bring them to school.
  •  For keeping my digital accounts secure.
  •  For what I do on when using technology at school.
  •  For not hurting the ability of others to learn.
  •  For what I say and do online.
  •  For giving credit where credit is due and respecting the intellectual property of others.
  •  For making good choices about when and where I use personal devices at school. 

Tip #3:
Arrange the classroom to support easy monitoring.  Students should be engaged in the assignment and on task.  The teacher should be able to easily see all the devices and ensure students are using devices responsibly.

Tip #4:
Practice verbal signals for proper device use.  Use easily memorable and understood signals:  “Screens Down” to put the devices down.  Use “Spot Check” to indicate all devices should be held up with screens on to see who is on task.

Tip #5:
Devices will be stored in a permanent location and only checked out with permission.  Students personal devices should be kept out of sight unless used during a BYOD assignment.

  • Always have a back up plan!  Sometimes tech fails, so always have an assignment that can also be completed without tech.  This is also useful if a student loses device privileges and still needs to to complete the assignment.
  • Be consistent with your procedures and expectations.  Demonstrate what you need completed. 
  • Emphasize responsibility.

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