Friday, December 28, 2012

Hot Topic Friday! 19Pencils

Technology, Classroom management, Globicate, Heidi Befort

     So here's to a new year right around the corner with less hassle and more time for all of you teachers.  With that in mind I thought I'd share a site I ran across the other day, 19Pencils, to make your life a little easier.  This site touts itself as a free site to share resources with other teachers.  It's easy to sign up and the first thing that comes to mind when I sign up is it's similar to Edmodo. You can easily peruse lessons and resources, but I found a lot of eHow information when I searched for some science lessons for when I go back to school in January.  I'm not saying that eHow isn't useful, but I was looking for a little more.  I did find many Smartboard lessons which is great for me since I have a Smartboard. I also came across some Schooltube videos, and lesson plans.
     19Pencils also has the ability to save your favorite sites (especially easy with the Google Chrome widget), create a class, create a class page, add your school's favorites, add a widget to your class webpage or blog, and create assignments and quizzes.  I found some SchoolTube videos and gaming sites that you could easily save for easy access for your students.  All in all, 19Pencils (in the Beta stage) is an easy site to use, access, and share resources with your fellow teachers. Check it out and let me know what your think!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Making Sense of Senseless Acts - Part 2

With the tragedy of the Connecticut school shooting still weighing heavy on my heart, I was so happy to be able to share something new with my students that, once again, made me so glad I teach in a private Christian school.  Even now, almost a full week after the event, I can tell it’s still on the hearts and minds of my students.
I’ve been doing my best to try and explain to them why such tragedies occur (and I’m even trying to make sense of it myself... even prompting me to write a blog post about it over the weekend). Today during our Bible lesson, we were reading about the Christmas story in the Bible and we came to the part that explains how King Herod was furious with the Magi, or wise men, whom he sent to find the Christ Child, did not return to him as he requested.
Matthew 2:16-18 says,“Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance.Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah:
  ‘A cry was heard in Ramah—
weeping and great mourning.
Rachel weeps for her children,
refusing to be comforted,
for they are dead.’”
I took a moment to point out to my students that we see an evil offense against innocent children in the Bible.  I asked the kids to do their best to make a connection between King Herod’s actions and those of the shooter in Connecticut.  We came to the conclusion that evil does exist in this world, and just like in the Bible, God can use that evil for good.  This is just another reason why Jesus was sent to Earth and why each of us needs Jesus, a Savior.  

I know there are many teachers who don’t have the same luxury as me in sharing this with their students.  But I hope it helps those of you who are still struggling to find peace during this time.

I’d like to hear your thoughts and feelings about this post.  

The Resourceful Teacher Blog

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sticker Stamps

Here’s another holiday activity that was a big hit with my students.  The kids made their very own stamps, and it was extremely simple to do.

Here’s what you’ll need:
About 8 bottle caps for each student
Large assortment of Holiday foam stickers
6-8 Red & Green Stamp Pads (I got mine at the Dollar Store).

Since I do my own recycling in the class, I begin saving bottle caps from water, Gatorade, and juices for this activity.  I realized I was going to be a bit short this year, so I asked parents to donate and I received a whole lot!

The students find their favorite foam stickers and stick them to their bottle cap.  

Then I had each student write a winter/holiday story using their Sticker Stampers.  Here’s some examples.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Making Sense of Senseless Acts

In light of recent events, many have found themselves wondering how to make sense of the tragedy in Connecticut on Friday. I too have been struggling with this.  I wanted to write this post as an encouragement to others and to possibly relate to others.  Maybe some of you are having the same thoughts as I am.

Last night, our school had our annual Christmas performance.  The students were told to check in with their teachers before the show started and as I was taking a mental roll call, I took a moment to watch the kids and I witnessed just how excited they were to perform. I watched proud parents snapping photographs of their child with friends and other teachers hugging newly-arrived students.  In the midst of hearing a fit of giggles from students near me, I couldn’t help but think that across our country, families were mourning the loss of their loved ones and grieving for others as well. 

Why did my school get to celebrate that evening and another have to endure what seems like pure Hell on Earth?

It’s tragedies like this that make people question, “Where was God?” or, “How could God let this happen?”  Those are tough questions, but I believe I have some answers. 

You know where God was?  He was mourning the loss of each and every person affected.  The only way I can answer the second question is quote the pastor of my church who repeatedly tells us, “Not everything that happens is part of God’s will.” God does not cause pain in our lives, but he does permit it so we can see His beauty and His grace.  If we never struggled, how would we know what answered prayer looks like? I believe that God has a purpose beyond my own understanding.  My God is the God who created the universe; He is the same God who can take an act of evil and work it in such a way that we will see prayers answered, miracles occur, and His hand at work.  I know this because of the following verse:

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"  -Jeremiah 29:11

If there’s one piece of advice you’ll let me give you, I’d like to encourage you to not get sucked into the media.  In times of crisis we sometimes have a hard time looking away and we often look to the media for answers.  If you do find yourself watching the news, looking for the latest development, be on the lookout for the heroes, and for the supporters.  That’s where you’ll start to see God’s hand at work.

I’d like to hear some of your thoughts or things you’ve been mentally wrestling with yourself.  Please comment below to contribute. 

The Resourceful Teacher Blog

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Glitter is the Herpes of Craft Supplies

Have you ever heard the expression: Glitter is the herpes of craft supplies?  Truer words were never spoken.  While I don’t dislike glitter as much as some of my cohorts (I have a teacher friend who is literally AFRAID of glitter), I do like to avoid it for most of my kids’ crafts.
This craft, however, was unavoidable.  Our school was having our annual fundraising carnival and this year’s theme was, “Somewhere over the Rainbow.”  Each class was given the task of creating a game booth.  One of my wonderful parent helpers suggested we do a ruby red slipper theme.  I thought it was a GREAT idea and she thankfully took charge of planning the booth and informing all the parents of items we needed. 
In the weeks that followed, students began bringing the items their parents signed up for.  Among the items were: red paint, previously worn women’s dress shoes, and red glitter… lots and lots of red glitter.  Oh boy.  Right away I started preparing myself for Decoration Day (or as I will now refer to it as D-Day). 
D-Day arrived.  I had already planned in my head that my classroom could be considered a disaster area by the end of the day.  Had I not prepared myself, I think I would have literally gone insane.
In the end, the kids ended up doing a great job and were mindful of their cleanliness.  They were so excited with the finished products and had a blast with this activity.
Here are some photographs of the children and their ruby red slippers.

The Resourceful Teacher Blog

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hot Topic Friday! LearnZillion

Common Core Standards, technology, Heidi Befort, Globicate

     A couple of weeks ago, I told you about one of my favorite sites, which is a great Common Core site that tailors math and ELA practice to meet individual student needs.  Well, goes one step further and combines 2 sites that I love, and Kahn Academy, into an online classroom where students can watch lessons specifically aligned to the Common Core Standards, and then practice what they watched with the guided practice section. LearnZillion has everything set up for you including letters for parents, practice sheets to turn into the teacher, and classrooms where you can monitor, adjust, and differentiate for your students.  LearnZillion is easy to use, easy to set up, and easy to implement in your classroom.  I can even see if you are short technology in your classroom, assigning these lessons either before (like a flipped classroom) or after for homework or reinforcement after the days lessons.  I'm not sure which site I like more now, or  Check them out and let me know what you think, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Late, Late, & More Late!


     Since the beginning of the year when I started with 35 students, I've been inundated with late work being turned in.  Normally, I've got a pretty good grip on these "Missing Assignment" board posted right by the classroom door and the knowledge that their parents will know as soon as I send out missing assignments is enough to get students to get their work in albeit late or not. But this current group of students is different.  They don't seem to be phased by Mrs. Befort's usual handbag of tricks!  Some have assignments over a month late and zero's on their progress reports, and know every excuse in the book. I've heard so many this year I could write a book. 
     So, I've pulled out my big tricks, and life in room 411 has changed!  I not only list the missing assignments, but have now instituted the "you'll need to work during your second recess if your work is not being completed at home". Students still get recess after lunch, but our second recess is now a working time and let me tell you I've seen huge changes in my "late work" students.  I'm now almost up-to-date on all assignments, students are writing out their agendas appropriately, and their work is completed with thought and quality.  
     I've created a template to help me track my serious offenders, and I can easily peruse or cross off names of students as they turn their work in. I copy it on the back of my class list, so that I have it handy all the time.  Students are very proud of themselves as they cross their names off the missing assignment boards.  So, I feel that I'm moving in the right direction.  Now, I do have to tell you that I've modified some work assignments to meet the needs and abilities of my students.  But, I can tell you late work and missing assignments don't have to be the norm.  You can change the direction of your classroom, students, and work as long as your willing to try several options.  Sometimes its not the one you'll think of, so be creative and patient, and you'll be rewarded!  Check out my template below to track those assignments, and let me know how it worked for you!

Late Work, classroom management, Heidi Befort, Globicate

Friday, November 30, 2012

Hot Topic Friday! MindMeister

technology, mindmaps, brainstorming, Heidi Befort, Globicate

While collaboration, engagement, and 21st Century learning are the buzz words these days, have you ever thought what does it take to really be doing all of this in the classroom with limited resources and technology.  Well I struggle with it everyday as I try to challenge my students to work together think outside of the box, and become global citizens.  The first step for everyone is the most difficult.  I can tell you it probably won't go the way you want, but smile and laugh with the students, and you'll be surprised how much everyone will learn, collaborate, and be engaged as they learn alongside you to become global students.

Try one thing at a time!  I find when I work with teachers they try to do to much all at once and then get frustrated and give up.  Find one thing that you can use in your classroom and work with it until you feel like an expert, and then move on to something else.  With that being said, the first step for many teachers is getting students to think about what they know about a topic, brainstorm for a writing piece, or collaborate with a group.  Here is a great tool that you can accomplish all of the above with in just a short amount of time.  It is called Mindmeister and it's free! The best part is that your maps are stored in the cloud, so it can be accessed anywhere, and can be that collaborative piece you want your students to use.  Once completed, it can be shared globally.  So you've met all of the criteria above.  Give it a try, and you can take mind mapping to a new level.

Create your own mind maps at MindMeister

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hot Topic Friday! XtraMath

technology, math practice, Heidi Befort, Globicate
Do your students need a little more reinforcement with basic math facts and automaticity that comes from repeated practice?  Check out XtraMath for an easy and quick way each day to encourage math fact practice with your students.  XtraMath can be set up within minutes.  Students can practice both in class and at home, and each day or week, you can view their progress.  I can tell you that my students spend about 5 minutes each day and I've seen huge gains in their fact recall.  You can even set up your class computers and they can rotate through the program without a whole lot of disturbance in the class.  Check out XtraMath and watch your students grow!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Curriculum Confusion

I'm really interested to see how many of you out there use an adopted curriculum?  We adopted one 2 years ago, and I keep wondering to myself who wrote these lessons?  Teachers? Administrators? Writers? College Professors?  Just fess up, and I won't hold it against you, but do you really think about how a 4th grader is going to understand what you are trying to teach them in the order you are trying to teach them?

For the last couple of weeks, I've been teaching division.  I looked at the curriculum and lessons before I started, and I knew it was going to be rough. It is such a difficult and abstract concept to ask students to work backwards from multiplication when they don't even know their multiplication facts.  So to say the least there were some struggles and some tears.  We have managed to come out the other side with smiles, and confidence, but not after a few frustrations.  We used our whiteboards, our journals, the curriculum, and technology to help us understand.  Here are a few good sites I've found to help the students be successful. Let me know if you have any to add to this list or any good suggestions you have that have helped you in the past.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hot Topic Friday! BrainNook

Common Core Standards, Technology, Heidi Befort, Globicate
Have you been to BrainNook yet? Well, BrainNook offers you the opportunity to set up a teacher account and classroom in minutes.  This site gathers information about your student's performance as they practice both math and language arts in a game format.  You can create a friendly competition amongst the students as they play against each other to reach the top of the leaderboard. You can obtain  detailed performance data for each student to understand the areas in which they need practice, and all games are Common Core aligned. So, check out BrainNook for concept reinforcement and a fun way to learn. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Science Experiment - Pop Rocks & Soda

Have you ever heard the rumor that if you eat Pop Rocks and then drink soda, your stomach will explode?  Many students have heard this before so we decided to do a little research to see if this was a myth or if it was real.  Now, of course we didn’t test our experiment on human or an animal (even though one of my students willingly volunteered to be a test subject).  Instead, we used soda and a balloon to represent a human stomach.

First we gathered 3 different types of soda: Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. We made sure we used bottles of soda instead of canned soda.  Then we filled 3 different balloons with an entire package of Pop Rocks.

Our class made predictions about what they thought would happen.  All of the students figured out that we would witness some type of reaction, so I had the students vote on which type of soda they thought would create the biggest reaction.

Then we tested our hypothesis.  We chose 1 type of soda to test first. Very carefully (and in the sink... just in case), we placed the opening of the balloon over the mouth of a bottle of soda.

Then when we lifted the other end of the balloon up, the contents inside fell into the bottle of soda.  We waited and recorded our results.

After a few minutes, we noticed the balloon filling up with gas and expanding.  Then we did the same to the other 2 types of soda using our remaining balloons.

The students were able to conclude that while consuming Pop Rocks and soda wouldn’t be detrimental to your stomach, it would probably make you pretty gassy.

We concluded the experiment by watching the soda and Pop Rocks candy reaction under a microscope.  First we took a small granule of the candy and placed in on the slide.  Then we watched through the eyepiece as I used an eyedropper to slowly add soda to the granule.

Here are some pictures of what the reaction looked like.

The purpose of completing this activity was to get the students used to using the Scientific Method.  You could also use this to teach about gas, chemical reactions, or carbon dioxide.  All in all, this was a wonderful experiment that I will make sure to do with my students every year.

To view more information about this experiment visit

For more ideas on how to use candy during experiments (especially your leftover Halloween candy) visit

The Resourceful Teacher Blog

Thursday, November 1, 2012

This Just In...

This past week our school celebrated Grandparent’s day.  The students decorated our room with activities to show off to their special guest.  One of the activities I had them complete was a writing sample, showcasing all the fun things they like to do at school.  The students revealed their answers through a newspaper article.
Here are some samples:

If you would like to have your students write a newspaper article, you can download a copy of the   template I created by clicking here.
The Resourceful Teacher Blog

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Conference Chaos

Conferences, Parent Communication, Heidi Befort, Globicate
 Well another marathon of meetings are under my belt, and I'm heaving a sigh of relief.  Twenty-nine meetings and progress reports have been held, hand shakes and smiles, tears and frustrations have been shared, and I feel like I have a renewed vision for my classroom and students.  I always have just a tinge of anxiety as I approach this week and so I've created a tool to at least "not let them see me sweat"!

Conferences, Parent Communication, Heidi Befort, Globicate
My free resource, Conference Checklist and Student Snapshot is available for you to use during your parent meetings and it will allow you to be organized, focused and professional.  When your parents see that you've noticed those special qualities and areas for improvement in their child, they will be much more likely to work as a team with you to meet your students needs.  It's a win-win combination and an invaluable tool that I use every year!
Conferences, Parent Communication, Heidi Befort, Globicate
I hope you check it out and download my Conference Checklist and Student Snapshot.  Let me know how it worked for you!  Happy Conferences!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Paper Plate Venn Diagrams

Here’s a fun activity I did with my students last week.  We created Venn Diagrams using two paper plates.  First we overlapped one side and used a black marker to draw the line where the other side of the paper plate would be.  Then I had the students label the information that would go into either side and viola!  Look below for a few samples.

(We're a private school so we compared/contrasted the Bible's descriptions of Heaven and Hell)

To view more ideas & activities, click here.

The Resourceful Teacher Blog

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