Thursday, June 29, 2017

I've Moved to ! Come Visit Me

Hey teacher friends!

Come take a peek at my gorgeous new blog, .  I've done a complete redesign and I absolutely love it! 

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to gain access to my online collection of best web resources just for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade teachers, plus other goodies as time goes on!  I promise not to bombard you with emails!

So, come visit!

Thanks to Kassie, of Designs by Kassie, for the beautiful new look!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Biography Reports That Even Your Reluctant Readers and Writers Will Love

Are you looking to get your reluctant upper elementary readers and writers begging you to write a biography report and cite sources?   Just turn the topic around!   Ask students choose the name of a famous person and BECOME the person and then write about his or her life!  Tell students the famous people will be coming to your school and telling people about their lives during the speech day or wax museum event.  You'll be amazed at what a difference it makes for students and better yet, for you!

Give students the power and control over their research report and you'll be glad you did.

Tell your students it is their job to learn all about a famous person because they will BECOME the famous person.  This simple task changes the research process from drudgery to students begging for time to work on their projects.  That's music to a teacher's ears!  Everyone wants students who are eager to learn and it's easy if you release control and give them choices.

Set the stage and create excitement!  There's a lot of great biographies out there at 3rd, 4th and 5th grade reading level you can use to integrate reading, writing, public speaking, and art.  Get library books and display them in your classroom along with a HUGE list of names you think students would like to learn about. Then leave a spot for students to add their own famous people.

After students have chosen names, it's time to begin reading their novels and conducting Internet research. Conducting random website surfing isn't the best (or safest) to do with your whole class.  I had large classes, which made monitoring where students were on the web difficult, so I created biography web pages for over 143 famous people for students to use.  The rule is simple.  Students can go to the websites on the web page.  If you click the "back" button, you need to be back on our biography page.  Simple! That way you can feel better that students won't land on an inappropriate page that you might have to hear about and deal with.

These are the famous people I built web pages for to use with students.
I taught biographies for years and put all of the materials in one spot for teachers. My biography report set on TpT has absolutely everything you will need from start to finish, plus access to the link to my website collection.  Note taking forms, rough draft paper, final copy paper, report requirements, scoring guide options, parent letters and invitation to the Wax Museum event and more are included. Since we're not all alike, the set is editable so you can customize it to meet YOUR needs.

Here's a few comments from teachers who've loved this project. 💖
Have fun letting the reins go and watching your students take off!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Do Something Different on Valentine's Day! Make a Math Fractions Quilt!

Are you looking to change up your Valentine's activities?  Let's face it . . .  by the time students get to the 4th and 5th grades, they've counted and graphed conversation hearts probably several times.

How about doing something different?  Better yet, do something that taps into the creative side of the brain while reinforcing math skills. Ask students to create their own fractions quilt block design that has a pattern or symmetry and answer questions about their quilt block.

When all of the quilt blocks are made, cut them out and piece them together to make a class quilt. You can talk about how separately, we are individually unique and special but TOGETHER, we are complete.

Do you want to really hook students into learning?  Give them choices.  To differentiate, you can use forms B & C.  Form B in the set is the "D.I.Y." option and allows students to choose their own colors.  Form C gives students full control as the "Quilt Designer" and they choose the colors, decide the pattern, write questions and give an answer key.

Also, notice that there is a simple character education reminder next to the quilt block. Everyone needs reminders!

Here's an example of a quilt block FREEBIE:

You will notice the quilt block freebie in the photo is numbered 6A.  The Quilt Block Fractions math center in my TpT store has 5 different quilt designs, plus forms B and C for each.  They also include the manipulative pieces and answer keys.  Besides using this as a great math/art center, it makes the perfect stand-alone set of activities you can leave for a substitute or as a gap filler.  Easy and fun.  Best prep!

Teachers in grades 3-5, let's share other great Valentine's Day math activities!  What do you use?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Valentine Math Art Gap Filler FREEBIE (Grades 3-5)

Hi teacher friends!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and you might be looking for a fun, colorful art project that incorporates some math to jazz up your bulletin boards.  This is great for gap filler for grades 3-5 and it's FREE in my TpT store!

The worksheet that has three versions of the same worksheet so you can differentiate for your students.  This is a photo of the basic worksheet:

The other two worksheets give students choices to choose their own colors and also to use a ruler to divide up the letters and design their own color key and design.  
Get it HERE on TpT
If you're in need of a great stand-alone math center activity, you might like the full set that has students computing multiples and common multiples!  Each coloring page has two additional pages that allow for differentiation.  It's a print and use, NO PREP set.

Teachers, I'd love to hear what you do for Valentine's Day and what gap fillers you love?  Happy Valentine's Day! ❤️

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Help Students Analyze Poetry and Enjoy It! {Grades 4-5}

Hi teacher friends!  April's poetry month is a short hop and a skip away.

You have to teach poetry to fourth and fifth graders but you may not have the time to prepare for dissecting poems.  There are 9 exemplar poems on the CCSS Poetry Exemplar List.  Yikes, that's a LOT and your prep time is limited.  Maybe you don't even LIKE poetry, let alone have to TEACH it.  Here's some hints that I hope help.

First you will want to learn about the POET:
  • Research everything about the poet.
  • What background can you learn about the poet?
  • Who is he or she?
  • Where is s/he from?
  • What was s/he known for?
  • What other poems has s/he written?
  • What is the audience for the poems?
  • What was his/her style?
  • During what time period was this poem written?
  • What elements of poetry does the poet emphasize?  Why?
  • What may have caused the poet to write this particular poem?
  • Has s/he written other similar poems?
  • Dig deep! Take notes.
Now you need to learn about the poem:
  • Start by first quickly reading the poem.
  • Now re-read the poem, this time  read it for understanding.
  • Then read the poem again, thinking about what the poet was (really) trying to say. 
  • What is the meaning of the poem?
  • What is the poem about?
  • Where does it take place?
  • Think through your teacher lens and make sense of the poem and consider what you would tell students.
  • What is the message and theme?
  • What is the poem's stanza structure? 
  • Does the poet choose to use rhyming structure or not?  
  • Why did the poet choose that structure?
  • What about the rhyme scheme?
  • How about the poet's use of alliteration, metaphors and similes?
  • What other types of figurative language are used?  
  • What other types of literary devices are used?
  • What words are used and what do they mean?
  • How does the poet use words to help convey mood and emotion?
  • Look for vivid verbs and colorful adjectives to point out to your students.
  • What emotion does the poem cause you to feel? 
  • Do you enjoy the poem?  
  • What makes you like or dislike it?
  • How will you teach this to students?
  • How will you assess student understanding?
There's SO much to teaching poetry but you have to do it right or your students won't enjoy it and that's just not okay!  {Quick Story!}  Here's a quick story about the importance of a teacher's love of their subject matter.  Did you have a teacher or professor in college that you loved?  If you did, it's likely because the teacher or prof had a passion and genuine interest in their subject matter.  I enjoyed  my high school French class, not so much because I loved French, but our teacher made it come to life.  He told us stories.  He made us laugh.  He made the subject matter come to life.  He didn't read slides or notes.  He talked to us.  He knew his stuff and he just talked to us and told stories connected to what we were learning.  Learning was fun in his class.  I actually went on to take French for a whole year in college and got a Bachelor of Arts (instead of a Bachelor of Science) because my teacher helped me love the subject matter.  I never dreamed I would do that but the inspiration from his class spurred me on.  YOU can be the storyteller that helps students understand why poets write and help them understand the deeper meaning of poems.  It's like a puzzle that needs solving!

Trust me on this; the more you know about the poet and the poem, the more you will be able to help students learn to read poetry and understand the (literal) words and the (figurative) word play.  I know it's not easy!  Some poems are hard to understand for adults.  Some of the poems on the 4th and 5th grade CCSS list are tough to interpret and I wondered how someone decided which poems were appropriate and understandable by 10 and 11 year olds?  Holy cow!  Think what those deep poems sound like to a student!  If they're tough for you to understand, you can empathize with your students as they struggle to grasp meaning.  You have to understand so you can help your students.  Don't short cut the steps of building your own background knowledge and understanding.  Read as many poems by the same author as you can so you get the poet's style and themes.

If you're STILL stressing about teaching poetry, and maybe don't have the time to devote to it, I suggest starting with one poet and poem. Then teach your socks off!

If you don't have time with the hectic year, don't worry.  I've got you covered!  I love teaching poetry and did all of the hard work for you!  If you're interested, I created 9 Poetry Analysis Task Card Sets for 4th & 5th Graders.  I bundled the task cards to save you money by including 2 free sets. (#everyonelovesadeal)  If you have teaching partners, additional licenses are a reduced price.  You can use one poem task card set each week and have a 9-week unit.  Or you can set up the task cards as a literature station.  Or you can use the tasks cards as direction instruction lesson starters then let students work in discussion groups or with partners to fill out the response booklet.   The choice is yours!  BUT whatever you do . . .  make learning poetry FUN!

Teaching poetry is one of my favorite ELA units of the year and it can be your students' favorite, too.

Here's a 30 second video that gives you a quick peek a the set. 
The bundled poetry analysis set includes everything you will need to teach all 9 poems.  The task card sets include a short poet biography summary.  I wrote task card questions and included sample response answers for each task card.  There's even a cool recording booklet that I designed to save paper for students to use.  It prints back to back and simply folds in half.  Website links are included so you can show students the videos, biographies, online versions of the poems and more.

Take the stress out of teaching poetry and start LOVING teaching poetry!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

This Year It's All About YOU!

Hi everyone!!
Gosh it seems like ages since I’ve posted on my blog.  But it’s a new year, new me, right? ;)  Here’s to hoping!!

We’ve been super busy digging ourselves out here in Central Oregon from two feet (no kidding) of snow that we’ve gotten over the past few weeks!  As we dig out, that leaves plenty of time to think about way to improve myself and my store!  After all, my motto is… “Teach, inspire, create, and help others along the way!!” 

For reference, the fence in the picture below is 5 feet tall!
What are some products that you guys would LOVE to use in the classroom, but just don’t have time to make?  I’m hoping to reach some of you and work with you to create products that YOU can benefit from, and so can other teachers!! :) 
Mrs. Renz' Blog Search!!
What are some things that you guys would love to see and hear about on my blog?  Being a retired teacher, I have a lot of knowledge spanning from my expertise in elementary/middle school math, middle elementary grades, science.  I also have been blessed with some pretty great opportunities to grow as a teacher through several different awards (Disney Teacher, JASON Project Teacher Argonaut in Panama, Microsoft Innovative Teacher, Mt. Vernon Teacher Institute, and multiple publications).  I would love to inspire other teachers to reach for these honors and distinctions, and share my experiences with each of them if there is interest!  :)
Instagram Search!!
What would would love to see more of on Instagram??  Pictures of my adventures, our adorable Golden (I may be a little biased), Instagram-only flash sales?  You name and it, and I’d love to post what interests you the most!!
Facebook Search!!
What do you want to see more of on Facebook?  New product announcements, links to videos, inspiring quotes, new product announcements?

I am so excited to hear what YOU all want to see more of!!  Happy New Year, and I hope you guys aren’t buried in as much snow as we are!  :o

I leave you with one last photo that I LOVE taken a few nights ago of Bend, Oregon by local photographer, Holly Fischer Photography.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Who Wants to Win a $10 TpT Gift Card?

Tis the season to be thankful and give!!  Who wants to win a $10 TpT store gift card?!  

Head on over and enter on both Mrs. Renz Class IG and Mrs. Renz Class on FB.  

There's 3 ways to enter:
#1 “like this post” for 1 entry, 
#2 share this post on your feed/wall tagging Mrs. Renz class for 2 entries, 
#3 tag a friend for another entry!!  

That’s a total of 8 entries if you enter on both FB and IG :D  

One winner will be announced Nov 27th at 6pm PST (just in time for cyber Monday)  

Happy Holidays and Merry Shopping to you!!

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