In the Trenches

Thoughts and Ideas from a Classroom Teacher

New Facebook Template

I’ve done posts before about using Facebook templates for your students to create engaging and thought-provoking projects. Considering the focus in the Common Core State Standards on characterization, understanding point of view, and writing across genres, this really lends itself well to addressing these concepts. I just wanted to share this NEW Wonderful Free Facebook Template that I discovered this week!

Here are just a few ways that you could use Facebook templates in your teaching and learning…

– historical figures

fb template

– scientists

– biographies

– elements of the periodic table

– fictional characters

– states

– countries

– monuments

– national parks

– geometric figures

Leave a comment »

Mythology for Kids

We are getting ready to start an integrated English/Language Arts unit on mythology, folktales, and legends. Our fifth graders have had a lot of exposure to folktales and legends over the years, so we are going to focus more heavily on the mythology component. I’ll admit it. I loved studying mythology as a child, and I love that one of my twins is devouring the Last Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordin. Heck, my little one’s current favorite movie is even Disney’s Hercules. I wanted to go ahead and start organizing information for our unit, so I thought I’d share some of the favorite things I found.



Cute idea generator for writing your own myth

StoryNory provides many of the Greek myths as read-alouds

Understanding mythology as the religion of the Ancient Greeks, and others

Quiz Your Noodle on mythology/Percy Jackson

Symbaloo of major Greek myths

Introduction to Greek Mythology greek myths

Literature for Children: Myths short video from DE Streaming

Clickable Painting of the 12 main gods as research

Brain Pop of Greek Gods



Greek Mythology Unit with readings and activities

Webquest type activity with questions, lessons and pacing – good for an extension project!

A few activity pages, including one of designing your own urn

Crosswords and Word Searches

Greek Masks and Coloring Pages of the Gods



Leave a comment »

Dr. Seuss Day Is On the Way!

It’s hard to believe, but Dr. Seuss’ birthday is coming up in just two weeks. If you are not an elementary school teacher, you may not realize that this holiday rivals Christmas and Valentine’s Day for the craziest holiday of the year. It’s hard to be upset though, when this one is based around a love of reading. Today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite resources for teaching about Dr. Seuss and his books!

seuss pin

Leave a comment »

Story Online

Last night I posted a video of My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother, as read on StoryOnline by Melissa Gilbert. A friend had shared the particular story with me, but I was excited to find all of the other offerings shared by StoryOnline on YouTube. I love a read aloud. I don’t care how old you are or how old your students are, they will love being read to. The only thing that changes from that story time moment as a young child is that they aren’t so ready to admit that they like it! Students can learn about reading, writing, listening and speaking with a well delivered read-aloud, and who better than professionals to share these?!

So, why a video read aloud? What does this offer? Here are a few reasons that I love this as an option…

1. If a student is absent, it’s a built in make up lesson that they can do on their own time (at home or at school).

2. I am freed up to walk around the room with my students, or I can just sit and model good listening skills. I can also pause the video and model meta-cognitive skills that good readers do.

3. It shows people they respect and admire as role models of being good readers. It proves that reading is important and that you can love reading, even if you are not a kid.

4. There are lots of men reading these books. In a situation where the elementary teaching profession is primarily women, I love that my students can hear a strong, passionate man share a great book and talk about how he, too, loves to read!

5. For reluctant readers, using videos of books is a  great way to teach reading skills, like story elements and mood, without the student having to struggle through words. They can master a concept and not have to be struggling with that and the reading, itself.

Here is another favorite. Check out Bad Case of Stripes!

But wait…

I know I’ve talked about it before, but if you are a subscriber to Discovery Education services, don’t miss out on the offerings by Weston Woods. The folks at Weston Woods Publishing have put together videos of some of their most beloved children’s books that are true to the integrity of the books. The best way to find these books is to just type “Weston Woods” in the search bar after you log in to your Discovery Education account. Good luck! And happy reading!

1 Comment »

My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother

I love Patricia Polacco and I love this book! I was thrilled to find it tonight on YouTube as a read-aloud by Melissa Gilbert. She does an amazing job, and I love that this is just one in a collection of stories shared by Story Online. I can’t wait to dive in here further!

1 Comment »

Learn Zillion


Do you feel like no matter how much you accomplish, you always have a zillion things to do? You do, but I’ve recently been checking out a great way to help with that. Learn Zillion!

There are tons of great things out there to help with the transition to the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, but they are often overwhelming. As I’m learning the standards and making their labels part of my daily language, I want a resource where I can go for lessons, learning, clarification and sharing. That resource also needs to be read-able after a long week of work with my students, my own children and everything else that life throws at me. I love the clarity of organization and tools!

If you are flipping your classroom, this is also a great place to go for lessons and ideas!

I’d definitely encourage you to check it out!

Leave a comment »

Civil War and Readers’ Theater

Right now, we are doing an integrated unit for Language Arts and the Civil War. We wanted to figure out a way to bring in speaking and listening in a more direct way, so we thought it would be great to build in some Readers’ Theater. My kids LOVE it! We are using the scripts as fiction and non-fiction reading with a special focus on prosody and point of view. At the end of the unit, we are having the kids write their own monologues from the point of view of one of the historical figures from the Civil War. Here are some of the awesome scripts we’ve found!
  • Civil War Readers Theater
  • Ballard of Abraham Lincoln
  • Will the Real Abraham Lincoln Please Stand Up?
  • Abraham Lincoln: Holding the Nation Together
  • Causes of the Civil War
  • Civil War Events
  • The Civil War Through a Child’s Eyes
  • Gettysburg and Mr. Lincoln’s Speech
  • Women in the War
Leave a comment »

NY TimesMachine

Are you looking for primary sources for your students to use? Are you stumped at finding new places to get non-fiction historical text for your times-machinestudents? Do you need news articles for comparison and reflection?


Check out NY Times Machine!


We are currently doing a unit on the Civil War, and I can’t wait to show my students the actual news articles from when Lincoln was assassinated. We will compare the information here with what they have learned, dissect why it is somewhat different, and analyze how news is shared today (versus in 1865).


I’m really looking forward to using it for other learning objectives, such as…

– advertisements

– word choice

– spelling changes

– and more!


How do you see yourself using the NY Times Machine?







1 Comment »

Genre Posters & Ideas


Are you looking for a set of full-color genre posters for your classroom? How about if they are free? Check out this awesome freebie from
“Think Share Teach”. Her blog is full of great ideas. Check them out!


I printed mine today and laminated them on 18″x24″ construction paper, with a large open space at the bottom. I am going to use my leftover book order forms for students to sort books based on reasonable predictions from the covers, authors and descriptions.  I will also let students write the titles of the books they are reading on small sticky notes and leave them on the right genre poster so we can track the types of books we are reading.
What could you do with these awesome printables?


1 Comment »

We Give Books

I recently discovered the site We Give Books and I am so excited! I’m always looking for ways to read with and model reading strategies for my students. I use my document camera with my projector and I huddle everyone around me as I read, but this site presents another awesome and FREE option. Full versions of many excellent books from varied grade levels and subject areas are available to you and your students at We Give Books. You do have to create a login, but it is free. I sent this site out to my classroom parents, and they were excited about having options of books to read with their children (both my fifth graders and their littler ones). While I haven’t delved too deeply into it yet, there’s even a lesson resource section for educators that focuses on maximizing the impact of We Give Books in the classroom. What do you think? Will you be able to use the books offered here to you and your students?

Leave a comment »