Sunday, September 29, 2019

Global Read Aloud 2019- A Pre-Reading Collaborative Activity

I have noticed that my students love checking out their houses on google map (street view). Use this activity to hook them into the global read-aloud book"The Bridge Home" by Padma Venkatraman.  The story is set in India. Kids will explore the streets of  India and compare it to their own street. The lesson's objective is to build curiosity, some background knowledge and to practice writing a compare and contrast paragraph. To create this lesson, I used a protocol from the Eduprotocol book by Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo 


 Here is the link to my lesson that includes the instructions and the transition words. Feel free to make a copy of this lesson and tweak it to your students' needs and interests. Please leave me a comment or feedback that I can add to this lesson.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

My heart is beating fast, I feel unprepared. I know I can wing it, but I want to do it the right way. It is 3:30 pm on Sept 2(Labor Day Monday). The famous philosophers and writers say that inspiration pours out easily when one is in the lap of mother nature. Well for me today the closest I can come to mother nature is Starbucks! Do the trees next to the nearby liquor store count as being in an inspirational setting? I will take that, ah I feel the ideas dripping in like the drip coffee. I am starting a writing unit tomorrow, teaching students how to write a  story about a small moment (personal narrative). I can teach them showing other author’s examples and mentor texts. The authentic ELA teacher inside me rises up to the conscious level saying,” You should write your own story first. Don’t you remember your students’ face last week when you read your crappy story.” I thought to myself, "Yes! Yes! Even my 8th graders were engaged in listening to my story about riding my bike at 6 am. Some students even clapped!" Obviously, they are good at pretending or maybe they respect me to not bring down my excitement about my story! It wasn't that crappy after all :-)
“Come on you don’t have to be perfect,” whispers my inner voice. "You have written a story before and you can write one in an hour before heading home to cook dinner." As Stephen King said, “The scariest moment is always just before you start.” Well, clearly all fear has dissipated as I am 253 words into my storytelling.  There is power in small moments that happen to us. Whether our small moment story is about a scar that was left behind or a moment that embellishes our life. It can only enhance our experience of life if we allow it too. My small moment is about a Sunday when an unexpected thing happened to me! The weekend of May 17, 2019 (Friday), started with a memory of a recent scar. As I sat in one of my favorite places in San Jose, I decided to leave those memories behind me. I had a big weekend coming up. The next day, I was heading for STEM training and on Sunday I was competing in a triathlon race. Triathlon is a multi-sport race with three sequential and endurance races- swim, bike and run. Now you cannot drag self-pity to any of these places where you are surrounded by people and an intensely competitive environment. A few weeks ago, I had come last at Half Moon Bay triathlon. I tried to use that memory to propel me forward instead of holding me back! If you can fake it, you can make it. Ever heard that saying? That’s exactly what I did for the next two days. Well, instead of faking, I was believing that I am happy!
              I woke up at 3:30 am on Sunday the noise of relentless rain was loud enough to wake any sound sleeper! “Maybe they will cancel the race.” I thought to myself. What a relief I felt thinking about it.  I was not wanting to race that morning just like students not wanting to go to school, obviously not my students! :-)
Even though I love racing, I still prefer curling up with a book on a rainy day like this! No cancellation emails. 
I drove to the UVASS reservoir in Morgan Hill. I lowered my car windows invigorating all my senses.  The earthy smell of the rain and the sky wrapped in the dark-colored blanket made me feel happy yet felt like an ominous morning. Is it going to be a good race or a bad one?
Before getting in the reservoir, the race director announced, "If you hear thunder and lightning get to the shore.” “Really, how does anybody hear under the water?" It's pitch black in the water and the sky. Anyways, I got into my wetsuit and decided if I die today, at least it was a great setting. Maybe someone will write a story about it. The moment I dove into the water all my fear went away! Stephen King was right after all about the scariest moment- All you need to do is dive in whether it is writing or doing something you are afraid of.
The rain started timely during the biking part of the race! Perfect! It was not a 'spring rain whisper' more like 'spring rain yell! Thunder, lightning, and downpour like I have never seen before at a race! The trees were dancing and swishing to the music of the wind. I was holding onto my bike tight, avoiding to slip and fall. Paying attention to lightning!
I asked another cyclist passing by, “Shouldn’t we turn back?” To my dismay, he said, “Keep going.” I decided to go steady with the steady cold downpour, still hoping that they will cancel the race at this point! Always find something good in a problem. Hard to imagine that when you are in a tough situation. Now looking back there was no need to use a water bottle there was a constant supply of rainwater!
The third and the last part of the race was 5 miles run. After getting drenched on the bike, it was time to dry up and enjoy the course. I was at the finish line feeling very strong and happy about my performance. I was passing older men and younger guys and girls. Guessing I would have made it somewhere on the ranking chart. As I sprinted to the finish line, I thought to myself, "I am definitely not the last probably made it somewhere on the ranking chart."
The award ceremony started with the announcement of fifth-place ranking in my age group. I didn't hear my name, I started walking back to pack up and go home. As I walked back, the race director said, "The third-place winner is Nupur Sethi! He said my name accurately and confidently just as I felt confident about being somewhere on the ranking chart.  I was content and grateful for that feeling. All the scars were wiped out by that rainy race day! 
Taking unexpected race conditions and turning it into a win made me realize how there is beauty in all kinds of life's situation, it is how we respond to it matters that lead us to an unexpected victory. The sun will shine brightly after the dark cloud pass!

Monday, August 26, 2019

How will I ever be able to teach this group of kids?

 29 new sixth graders- cute, innocent, intense, active and some do not like school! About 1/3 of my class has social, emotional and extreme academic needs. After my first math lesson, during recess I sat with my hands on my head, repeating to myself, "How do I teach Math and ELA to this group?". There are SO different than last year's sixth graders. 

The inner voice said, "You teach the student not the subject." Every problem has an opportunity. I told myself, "This is a good problem to have." 

The next day I was going to teach them about the types of polygons. I had to make it super engaging or else I would lose a lot of kids, who think this teacher is kind of different. Simply because, I started the year saying,"Students it is okay to fail, make mistakes and I don't care about your spelling mistakes." I heard one kid yell, "yes!"  So here is my lesson to meet the needs of this unique group of students.

 I was talking to the kids about different types of cars, but the kids were confused. Wait, it is supposed to be a polygon lesson, why are we talking about cars? They got hooked and all of them wanted to tell me their favorite type of car. So how are they different? We nailed it down to what I wanted to hear- shapes, sides. We did go off a little bit, talking about someone's mom's favorite car or another kid's dream car and oh the vintage cars!

I had tangrams with me and asked them to spot the difference. They said they have a different number of sides. I told them once they learn different kinds of polygons, they will be playing a game and going on a scavenger hunt. You should have seen the engagement level especially in that kid who clearly told me, she hates math and everything else about school. She actually started writing and looking at me intently! The keyword is GAMES! I introduced the list of polygons by asking them to come up with the definition by what they saw unique about the shape. They took notes, I must add they did it very diligently  πŸ˜€

I took out the white bag out from my secret spot. One of them said, " she has a bag, I wonder what is in it." I feel sometimes teachers have to be magicians. πŸ§™πŸ½‍♀️ I presented a bag of shapes, polygon names, visuals. It is sorting games, look at the picture and match it to the names of the polygons.

 Then we went out looking for hexagon, octagons, heptagon, quadrilateral. They were drawing, walking in nature, talking to each other, engaged and learning. This made my heart so happy! Sometimes I feel jealous of them, I wish when I was growing up, I was in a class like this. For a longtime, I felt dumb in my math class.  The question I ask myself if I would be a kid in my own class. If the answer is no, I will change my lesson plan!

The next day, the lesson was about teaching different types of angles. I did a kinesthetic activity of acting out what does an acute, obtuse and right angle look like. I asked them to take out their phones. They were shocked. 
Johny (pseudo name) said, "Mrs.Sethi are you sure you said to take out our phones." 
I said, "Yes now go around the campus find all the three angles, come back present to the class!"
All of them were in awe! 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Play-Doh and Parts of Speech Activity

Looking for a fun and simple way to kick start the school year, let your kids play with PLAY-DOH!!

Don't worry you can still structure it using this slide deck that describes the activity. I was inspired to use Play-Doh in my middle school ELA class after reading the book Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess and Quinn Rollins's blog. I integrated ELA standards into this activity and build game like anticipation by using a dice and prompt choices on a slide deck. 

Game Objective- To get to know your student, build classroom community and to (stealthy) review parts of speech all on first day of school! It is a surprise hope none of my students read this blog post :-)
Click here for your copy of  Play-Doh Parts of Speech slide deck.

The idea is to keep it fast paced that will keep the excitement and engagement so give them only 3 minutes. Total each students will be sculpting six times using the prompts on this slide deck. I don't want them to just throw their creations, so students will use devices to take pictures. I got play-doh from WalmartAmazon and Michaels with coupons are great place to buy reasonable price play-doh especially before the school starts.

Noun- Sculpt a thing that you cannot live without

At the very end of this activity, I have students complete this sentence frame :

This year I will like to get better at ____blank 1   by doing this ____blank 2  .  They will first sculpt their idea for blank 1and blank 2, then draw and write the sentence on a 5 x5 card. I will collect the cards.

Please let me know how it went for your class. Please leave me a comment and feedback on how to improve this activity.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Simple, Compound and Complex Sentences Lessons and Resources

Looking for a fun and engaging way to teach grammar. This post include three  +1 different lesson resources with 8 pArTs, a Quiz, followed by a template for MEME (Thin Slides) and examples. Feel free to make a copy for yourself. Hope your students' enjoy these lessons, my 6th graders loved the creative aspect of these lessons and making MEME at the end of these lessons.

                                               1) Start with Simple Sentences 8 pArTs
Here is the link Simple Sentences 8 pArTs

I modeled an example for them. Then students and I created one. Next, they worked independently. You can also show them an image and ask them to come up with a sentence.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Opinion vs Persuasive vs Argumentative Writing

"7th graders, I will be teaching you how to write an argumentative writing," I announced.

 "We already know how to write, learnt it in 5th grade!" they said in unison. "We know how to express an opinion and persuade people." 

Guess what came next, an actual argument between student and I about the differences between opinion, persuasive and argumentative writing. They are a stubborn crew, it was the moment to drop my existing lesson and think quickly how to  teach the difference. I love that about teaching, lets me think on my feet! What was hard to see how deeply was this confusion entrenched in them! 

Thank goodness for Quizizz. I quickly whipped up and combined few quizizzs. 

They took this quiz and obviously they bombed the test. I presented these three examples and we continued to argue about it. Does it seem like an argument is the common thread here? πŸ˜‰I love these kiddos, an exciting challenge!

✍Opinion- I think there should not be  school uniform because as kids  we want to be creative and cool.

Persuasive- I wrote an article telling you that you need to buy a fidget spinner or else you will never be able to concentrate in class again. I will only tell you the importance of getting one and how it will make your school life better.

Argumentative- Because of how many people are affected by smoking, the amount of money has been spent because of cigarettes and the people who haven’t smoked but died because  someone smoked near them, cigarettes should be banned.

I did a kinesthetic movement acting like a scale to show them the difference, opinion has only one side, persuasive is tipped on one side and argumentative is balanced 60:40

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Digital Version of Word Sneak Game to Practice Vocabulary Word

Word Sneak Game Inspired by Jimmy Fallon (Digital Version with full effect!)

Who doesn't love Jimmy Fallon? You know when you are having a bad day and a good laughter can whisk away your stress or sadness. It was one of those days, I started looking for Jimmy Fallon on YouTube, this clip (below)πŸ‘‡totally cracked me up! I don't know if I was crying because of the content in his show or what I was initially sad about. πŸ˜‚

 It was a Friday afternoon, I decided I have to share this fun activity with my students. I didn't know how this would go, it could be chaotic. Especially my seventh graders, they have a very playful sense of humor.  
As an English Language Arts teacher, I am always finding ways to bring playful approach to teaching and practicing vocabulary words. This game was perfect, the challenge was I wanted to create the similar environment as the show( sorry Jimmy, just a wee bit of copy cat or should I say inspired!). 😻

Monday, April 22, 2019

Argumentative Unit for Grades 6-8 with Teaching Resources

Do you know of any preteen or teen who doesn't like to argue? When I announced to my middle schoolers, I will be teaching a unit on argumentative writing, they were psyched about it, saying things like, "bring it on.. I live only for arguing!"  I thought their constant habit of arguing will make them an expert in writing a formal argumentative essay. Through call to adventure (or hook) activity, I learned that my students are actually good at giving their opinion not arguing. As we know about opinions, everyone has an opinion about everything and like feet other's opinion always stinks :-). I knew I had to dive through various mini-lessons to help them write a solid, evidence based formal argumentative essay! 

Like always, I design my lesson using  Ramsey Musallam's Hero's Journey (format that I learned in one of my MERIT'18 classes) 

1) Call to Adventure (Engage) Day 1  

Using visual literacy and Eduprotcol 8 Parts to get them even more ignited about this unit.  I also used this to pre-assess their understanding of argumentative writing. I showed them the image below to get them talking,  more like arguing :-) about what is going on in this image. This image is taken from New York Times, What's Going On in this Picture?

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Seriously, capitalize the I atleast!

Are you tired of fixing students's capitalization mistakes? It is time to rage a war against those silly, repeated capitilzation offense! I will take you on a hero's journey to fight against this improper capitalization war.

1) Call to Adventure ( Engage)Day 1Students walk in and I start with a Quizizz. They have no idea what the quizizz is about They just LOVE this tool so much that they don't ask any questions. The only thing I tell them, "get ready to fail."  As long they are ready to learn and give it another try. This is like a pre-assessment and they will take this again.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Looking for an Inclusive Practice- Try Eduprotocol!

Last night at NFL Honors 2018 awards, Shaquem Griffin from the Seattle Seahawks was named the winner of the Game Changer Award. He is a role model, one of the first people to be accepted onto a team with a disability, setting and changing the standards and norms forever. Shaquem is an inspiration for kids all over the world with disabilities or other needs to help them believe that they can do amazing things.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

All Lives are Impactful! (or should it be death should not be forgotten)

                    Why such a dismal title of this post? Because it is the end that matters.
   When Vanguard's John Bogle died last week, his impact and financial advice were covered by all the national newspapers and TV channels. Steve Job's biography was published three weeks after his death. Bogle and Jobs' legacy and impact will be carried through several generations. Fighting just for survival is ubiquitous in countries like India. How can anyone who is barely making it through leave an impact like Bogle and Job?
    "Do you need a hand carrying your bag?" I asked a frail old lady. She said, "Yes, my hands are trembling." As we both walked to our gate at the Goa International airport, India. She told me she is traveling by flight for the first time, tears rolled down her cheeks not because she was nervous about flying. Because of the reason why a poor taxi driver's wife had to take her first flight in her life. Her younger sister passed away last night and she was going for her funeral. She talked incessantly what a great human being she was and that she left a 6-month baby behind. At that point, it was not the heavy bag that bothered me. But the heaviness in my heart, as I looked into her eyes. I felt her loss and saw her sister's life through her words and in her tears. Why do we l lose the people we love? Where do they go after they die? What if we all knew our end date? Would we live courageously and with a purpose? Emotions were running high and I tried to distract myself by getting lost in the book that I  had got on this trip 'Refugee'.
  Two hours later, I was at the Delhi International airport. The city was shivering at 37 degrees temperature. The struggle around by the common man on the street was hard not to notice, even if you were walking blindfolded. There were poverty and frigid condition in the air. It is about the day to day survival, some survive and some give up. They are born and they die without anyone knowing about the insurmountable challenges they went through. Shouldn't we learn from their humble life? Wasn't their life impactful?
 I walked around thinking about Salma's sister (old lady in Goa) and the poor people outside trying to protect themselves from the cold. Will their lives matter?  I sat at the airport watching people pass by, I noticed Rajesh cleaning the floor. He asked me where I was flying.
  "Did you go to school?" I asked (always a teacher first :) )
 "No, I have been cleaning for years, so my kids can travel like you someday," he said.
Rajesh might be a no one but he has a story to tell and learn from. Sacrifice!
Asha, a bathroom attendant at the Delhi airport.  Li (below) a baggage cart collector at Beijing airport. They are struggling, fighting the battle of life but with a smile and for a bigger purpose than themselves.

Don't fight for what  you have now, fight for what you don't want later."Begin with the end in mind," said Stephen Covey in his book of 7 Habits of Successful People. When we are facing our death, don't we want to feel that our life mattered?
When I look back I want to feel: I came, I conquered and overcome my failures and I lived purposefully. The purpose of my life is to help my students stretch and grow to find their greater purpose. To know that they can write their own stories, that overcoming their struggle will inspire others around them. Their insurmountable life challenges will never be forgotten.

We are not who we say we are, we're not who we want to be.
We are the sum of the influence and impact that we have,
in our lives, on others- Carl Sagan