Tag Archives: Middle school

Great pictures and good utilization of adjectives…hint for all of you middle school and high school ELA teachers…very compelling blog and make all of us on the Unlock the Teacher team want to visit the Blue Lagoon!

Have Baggage, Will Travel

You can’t visit Iceland without checking out the Blue Lagoon. Oh, I’ve heard all the arguments against it: It’s a tourist trap. It’s a manmade attraction. It’s expensive. All these claims are at least somewhat true—but that doesn’t detract from the fact that the Blue Lagoon is still pretty freaking awesome.

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Educational Online Resources Recommended byTeachers

Summer Resource Guide

Provided by the St. Regis School and Academy Faculty

 Critical Thinking and all Core Subjects

www.iknowthat.com  Critical thinking and activities in all core subjects

funbrain.com   all sorts of educational fun

www.nick.com/  Nickelodeon/kid games


http://students.discoveryeducation.com/ Digital media content aligned to state standards and common

Brain Builder Links

Grade 3 http://www.puzzles.com/projects/LogicProblemsArchive.html Logic Puzzles to Play Online or Print Out! http://www.neok12.com/ Educational Videos, Lessons, and Games: Covering all Subject Areas: Grades K-12 http://www.kidskonnect.com/ Kids Konnect: A Safe Internet Gateway for Kids http://www.sikids.com/ Sports Illustrated for Kids http://www.funbrain.com/kidscenter.html Cool Games for Kids: Searchable by Grade K-8 http://www.playkidsgames.com/ Games covering a Wide Variety of Subject Areas

Improve Study Skills

http://www.how-to-study.com/study-skills/en/index.asp  Includes links to numerous articles about study skills


Includes helpful tips for effective note taking, test prep, writing essays, reading comprehension, and more

http://www.ucc.vt.edu/stdysk/stdyhlp.html  Provides self-help information for improving one’s study skills


Grades 6-8

www.eduplace.com/kids/hme/6_8/grammar/ www.sheppardsoftware.com/web_games_vocab.htm www.ask.com/English+Grammar+Games www.funenglishgames.com/grammargames.html www.english-online.org.uk/games/gamezone2.htm – 21k www.harcourtschool.com/menus/preview/harcourt_language/grammar_park.ht

Language Arts

Grade 1 http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/gamesactivities.html

Grade 3 www.abcya.com  Grade level lessons in math and language arts. starfall.com   a phonics practice website http://www.k12reader.com/why-read-20-minutes-a-day/  Read 20 minutes a day (at least)

Grades 6-8

www.sadlier-oxford.com For previews of the vocabulary units we use “Vocabulary Workshop – Level C” www.literacyworks.org/learningresources For activities in reading comprehension, vocabulary, and sequencing using real news stories, www.learn4good.com/kids/index.htmlanguage arts skill practice, be sure to click on the first tab –“Languages” http://languagearts.ppst.com power point presentations and practice games on grammar and literary terms.


Grade 1


Grade 3

www.fun4thebrain.com  Math practice for grades k – 8.

www.gamequarium.com  Practice more than 1,000 different math topics in grades

www.abcya.com  Grade level lessons in math and language arts.

Grade 4

www.mathcafe.com  Basic math practice and worksheets www.softschools.com  Worksheets and practice of basic math facts www.math.umass.edu/diehl/mysteries.html  Math mysteries www.brainquest.com  Brain teasers www.onlinemathlearning.com  Math learning http://edheads.org/  Logic puzzles www.aplusmath.com/games/index.html  Math games K – 9

Grade 5

https://www.xtramath.org/  assess and track student’s basic math skills by grade level

www.ixl.com  assess and track student’s basic math skills by grade level

http://www.mathplayground.com/  fun math games, puzzles, and videos

http://www.helpingwithmath.com  math skills and worksheets based on Common Core Standards for Mathematics

http://www.mathsisfun.com  math skill explanations, dictionary, worksheets, and puzzles

Grade 1-8








Grade 7

http://www.loyolapress.com/3-minute-retreats-daily-online-prayer.htm   For a daily 3 minute retreat http://www.catholicdoors.com/prayers/   3433 Catholic Prayers for all needs http://www.usccb.org/   daily mass readings and many other resources from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops


Grade 1 http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/gamesactivities.html

Grade 3


http://www.scholastic.com/kids/weather/  Interactive Weather Maker

http://www.quia.com/custom/29main.html  Earth’s Physical Features Games

http://earthguide.ucsd.edu/earthguide/diagrams/watercycle/  Water Cycle Animation

http://www.epa.gov/safewater/kids/flash/flash_watercycle.html  EPA: Water Cycle Interactive Learning Experience

http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/watertreatmentplant/flash/index.html  EPA: Tour a Drinking Water Treatment Plant


http://kidshealth.org/kid/htbw/htbw_main_page.html  Kid’s Health: How the Body Works Videos and More!


http://www.edheads.org/activities/simple-machines/   Ed Heads: Simple Machine Interactive Learning Experience

http://www.harcourtschool.com/activity/states_of_matter/ States of Matter Activity



As the Earth Turns: Causes of Day and Night: Interactive Learning Experience


Earth in Motion: Causes of Seasons: Interactive Learning Experience


Earth’s Revolution Around the Sun and Seasons Interactive Animation

http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forkids/kidsclub/flash/index.html NASA Kids’ Club

http://moon.nightskyobserver.com/  Night Sky Observer: Moon Page

http://www.harcourtschool.com/activity/moon_phases/  Moon Phases Interactive Learning Experience

http://www.astrocentral.co.uk/starting.html  Star Hopping Guide with Animations: Finding Constellations

http://www.kidsastronomy.com/solar_system.htm  Kid Astronomy: Facts about Planets, Moons, and other Objects in Space

http://stardate.org/  Current News and Information on Viewing the Night Sky

Grade 4

www.sciencekids.com/gamesactivities.html  Science activities for Elementary levels

Grade 5

http://www.education.com/activity/fifth-grade/science/   hands-on activities that explore 5th grade science topics – plus other subjects as well http://www.chem4kids.com/   basic chemistry information and activities http://www.kidsgeo.com/   geology topics and games and other science topics Star Walk app for iPad – awesome interactive, astronomy guide

http://www.brainpop.com  animated educational site – all subjects also – subscription required

http://science.discovery.com/interactives/literacy/newton/media/newtonfinal415.swf  fun presentation on Newton’s laws of motion

Grade 7

http://www.all-science-fair-projects.com/ http://scienceclub.org/scifair.html http://www.sciencebob.com/sciencefair/ideas.php http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/gamesactivities.html

Grade 8

http://www.learner.org/interactives/parkphysics/carousel.html Amusement Park Physics

http://zonalandeducation.com/contents/contents.html Zona Land Education

http://www.neok12.com/ Educational Videos, lessons, and games

http://illuminations.nctm.org/LessonDetail.aspx?id=L639 Make your own cool Tetrahedral Kite

http://www.khanacademy.org/ Khan Academy is your friend!

Social Studies

Grade 1 www.Kids.nationalgeographic.com/ Kid’s games, animals, pictures, stories

www.bensguide.gpo.gov/ U. S.  Government web sites for kids

http://bensguide.gpo.gov/  US government websites for kids

http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/  Kids games, animals, pictures, and stories

Grade 3

http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/michigan/  Information on Michigan’s Native American Tribes

http://www.historyglobe.com/jamestown/  Jamestown Interactive Online Adventure


National Geographic for Kids: On the Trail of Captain John Smith Online Adventure

http://www.americancivilwar.com/civil.html  Information on the Civil War

http://www.civilwar.com/component/option,com_battlemap/  Interactive Civil War Battle Map

http://www.coolmath-games.com/lemonade/  Economics: Lemonade Stand Game

http://www.coolmath-games.com/0-coffee-shop/index.html  Economics: Coffee Shop Game

Grade 5

http://www.educationalrap.com  core subject area topics presented in rap songs – Redcoats vs. Rebels is great!


view the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights; excellent resource for 5th grade S.S. topics

Grade 6



Grade 8

Colonial Williamsburg

http://www.history.org/almanack/tourTheTown/index.cfm http://www.history.org/history/fife&drum/about.cfm http://www.history.org/history/fife&drum/redregimentals.cfm http://www.history.org/Almanack/life/index.cfm http://www.history.org/Almanack/places/index.cfm

Revolutionary War





War of 1812







Civil War






Grades JK-5


This website has many basic topic worksheets.  Great for all students.  Parents can help younger students with worksheets.


This website is a search engine for games made by teachers around the country. One can search for any topics covered in Spanish. Great for all students. Parents would need to help their younger children navigate the site.

http://www.123teachme.com/learn_spanish/spanish_for_children  Games on many topics http://sracaldwell.wikis.birmingham.k12.mi.us/file/view/The-10-Best-Spanish-Websites-for-Kids-12.pdf

This is a pdf file that has active links to many other sites broken down by level.

http://www.kidsspeakspanish.org/esp_Songs.shtml  This website has fun songs that students can sing along with.  Great for JK – 3rd grade.

http://www.spanishtown.ca/spanishforkids/spanishforkids.htm  Great for 1st – 4th grade students.  Covers basic concepts. http://www.abcteach.com/directory/languages/spanish/  Great for 1st – 5th grade students. Parents may need to help younger students navigate site. Many different topics covered by worksheets


This website has a plethora of topics. One can choose Pronunciation, Grammar, Vocabulary, and Verb drills. Pronunciation would be great for middle school students.  Grammar would be great for 4th – 8th grade students.  Vocabulary would be great for 4th -8th grade students to review and expand their word knowledge. Verb drills would be great for 4th -8th grade students to review and expand their verb knowledge. http://www.spanish.bz/learn-spanish.htm

The topics are found at the bottom of the page. There are many topics. Great for middle school students and grades 4 and 5. They are presented in a lesson format: instruction – worksheet – quiz.

Grades 6-8

www.classzone.com (click on our Avancemos book) www.spanishspanish.com

http://www.uni.edu/becker/Spanish3.html http://www.digitaldialects.com/Spanish.htm http://www.literacycenter.net/lessonview_es.php# http://www.quia.com/shared/spanish/

From the Media Center

Local Libraries Bloomfield Township Public Library hosts summer reading programs for all age levels. Print titles are available through the children and youth departments and eBooks are available through their web portal.

Bloomfield Township Public Library: http://www.btpl.org/

Getting Started with eBooks: http://www.btpl.org/node/5312

Baldwin Public Library hosts summer reading programs for all age levels. Print titles are available through their children and youth departments and eBooks and eAudio books can be accessed online.

Baldwin Public Library: http://www.baldwinlib.org/

Baldwin Virtual Services:  http://www.baldwinlib.org/eBooks/

Religious Books and Media Christian books are available through this site and are grouped according to age.

For kids: http://www.christianbook.com/kids

For tweens: http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/cms_sp?sp=102367

Caldecott Medal and Honor Books Awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecotthonors/caldecottmedal

Newberry Medal and Honor Books Awarded to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newberymedal/newberyhonors/newberymedal

Reading/Writing Websites for Kids Great Websites for Kids is sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children and provides engaging links to a variety of subjects for all grade levels: http://gws.ala.org/

Book Adventure from Sylvan Learning: http://www.bookadventure.com/Home.aspx

Interactive Writing Games: http://www.funenglishgames.com/writinggames.html

Educational Apps

Reading and literacy come in a variety of platforms, and educational apps are on the rise. Parental discretion is advised when choosing an appropriate educational app for your child. Here are a few links to get you started.

Best Kids Apps (select age):http://www.bestkidsapps.com/category/ages-5-8/

Scholastic Apps: http://www.scholastic.com/apps/

Apple in Education: http://www.apple.com/education/apps/

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things~


Please note, we would love to share your favorite educational app or website. Just send us an email or leave on our “comments” here and we will be happy to share it with our readers.  When we all share the good in education, we all win!


Filed under Curriculum Resources, Educational Websites and Resources

Wonderful 8th Grade Literature Scrapbooks through the Eyes of the Characters

Utilizing Character Journals/Scrapbooks in the Classroom
Sue Martin, a middle school language arts/literature teacher has allowed us to utilize these great pieces of student’s work.  Students were given a rubric to create a scrapbook/journal in the eyes of one of the characters in the book they were reading.  As the pictures demonstrate, this is a unique and fun assignment for student and teacher and can be modified for various age groups.

"The Lying Game""The Lying Game" scrapbook on the inside"Wait till Helen Comes""Wait til Helen Comes" scrapbook on the inside

"Wait til Helen Comes" Character Scrapbook"Harry Potter" Character Journal


"Wicked" Character Journal


"Wicked" Character Scrapbook on the inside

I find these pictures creative and I have no doubt that the students had a great time identifying with the characters in the books they read as they created these wonderful assignments.
If you would like to share your Best Practices, we would love to read them and share them with our readers.  Please email documents to denise@unlocktheteacherllc.com
May we seek knowledge in all things,


Filed under Best Practices from Awesome Educators, Student's Work and Submissions

6th Grade Teacher Makes Science Fun with Cell Process Cartoons

Who said science wasn’t fun?
While in a school today (St. Mary School Royal Oak, Michigan), I stopped to look at these fabulous displays of creativity.  Not only was this hallway display colorful and creative, it was educational and funny!
 A simple, yet effective and creative way to teach the process of a cell.Students after reviewing lesson with their teacher Mrs. Lapenta, they were given the rubric for a “Cell Process Cycle Cartoon”.  Students had to incorporate the vocabulary given and create a cartoon strip displaying the process reviewed in class. Thinking “Outside of the Box” can take learning to new and exciting places for you and your students.
We would love to share your classroom Best Practices with our readers. Please email me at denise@unlocktheteacherllc.com a brief synopsis of lesson and a jpg or two.  It is in this collaborative process, that we all grow as educators…as parents…as a society!  Good ideas are meant to be shared.  We try to share them as often as we can!

"Outside of the Box" teaching is good for all stakeholders in the learning process!


May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,
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Wire Sculpture Activity for Classroom and Home~Grades 4-12~Teachers Sharing Best Practices

Wire Flower for Wire Sculpture Activity

Activity/Lesson: Wire Sculpture Activity

Submitted by: Linda Irwin~ Middle School Social Studies Teacher

School:                St. Mary School, Royal Oak, Michigan

To get to know my students and to do a quick assessment of writing, I utilize this lesson on the first day of Religion class. (Note: This lesson could be utilized for any class.)

  1. I give each student a piece of floral wire. (NOTE: Wire ends can be sharp, so be careful.)
  2. I ask students to think about their lives.
  3. Using wire, students create a design that represents them and their lives.  (e.g. a musical note~if your musical, a tornado~if you feel at times your life is spinning too fast, a flower~if you feel you are growing and changing etc.)
  4. I remind students that there are no wrong designs, that we are all unique.
  5. Once students have created designs, they write/type a five-seven sentence summary, describing why this given design represents them.

I have found this lesson and the student-created designs insightful and have learned a lot about each student through this process.  This is a great lesson that builds self-awareness and trust.

                                                                                     ~Linda Irwin

Flower with Stem...

Wire Cat


Wire Sun


Wire Lightening Bolt


Wire Polar Bear

We want to thank Linda for sharing this great lesson that speaks to the multiple intelligences and allows students to be creative in writing their thoughts.
We love to share the good in education, so please send us any lessons you would like to share to teachme@unlocktheteacherllc.com or denise@unlocktheteacherllc.com
Have a wonderful week!
May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,

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Anti-Bullying Workshops for Grades 1-12: “Words Hurt”, “Pick-up vs. Put-Down”, “You Can Make a Difference” and “Getting the Big Picture”

Anti-Bullying Workshops provided by Unlock the Teacher LLC

Anti-Bullying Workshops
These workshops ultimately benefit our children, our future and theirs.
We come into schools, summer camps, homeschooling groups,
youth groups and church groups to teach and inspire.

References and Background Check
can be provided upon request.
Please visit our website for testimonials and more information.

Anti-Bullying “Words Hurt” Workshop Session I (Grades K-3)
This workshop is centered on identifying and discovering that  we all have gifts and talents. As a group, we discuss positive and negative words, and how when used, they can make us feel inside.  As a group, students create a “Pick-Up-Don’t Put Down” chart. (e.g.  I am strong because I am kind.”)
Session Length:         45-60 Minutes
Price:                          $400.00 per 200 Students

Anti-Bullying “You Can Make a Difference” Workshop Session II (Grades 4-6)
This is a great workshop for character building. Studies show this is the age to target to catch and dissolve bullying behavior.  Dialogue
centers on identifying appropriate and inappropriate behavior associated with bullying.  Presentation covers how to communicate when involved in or witnessing this behavior. Problem solving tips are given to help with future anti-bullying success. Students create as a group the “Don’t Be a Bully Three B’s Please” chart. (e.g. 1. Don’t be a bully “B”ecause…it makes you feel bad inside!) If time permits, students are encouraged to participate in impromptu skits and role-play scenarios. (Students usually love this portion.)
Session Length:          60-90 Minutes
Price:                          $500.00 per 200 students
Anti-Bullying “Words, Action, Character” Workshop Session III (Grades 7 & 8)
This workshop begins with a review of “You Can Make a Difference” workshop, spending the first 15-20 minutes discussing how we all can
contribute and help each other for the greater good.  In this workshop, examples are given via video clips of 11-13 year olds who have been victims of bullying, its effects and strategies used to overcome it.  Students work together as a group to create a slogan for their school environment’s
“Words, Action, Character”.  Students will identify words that empower the slogan created and words that destroy its meaning.
Session Length:          60-90 Minutes
Price:                          $500.00 per 200 students
Anti-Bullying “Getting the Big Picture” Workshop Session IV (Grades 9-12)
This workshop is designed to educate students on the legal ramifications involved with the improper use of social media tools.
i.e. Twitter, Facebook, AIM, IM, Blogs, MySpace, etc.  Examples are provided to identify improper use and the results and consequences of such action.
Leadership is highlighted in this session along with character attributes.  An overview is given along with examples of how the actions of today are judged by future colleges and employers.  (Given size of school, this session can be divided into two groups: grades 9 & 10 and 11 & 12)
Session Length:          60-90 Minutes
Price:                         $500.00 per 200 students
We work in all schools and are happy to help work out funding or help find a funding source for you.
For additional information, please visit our website at www.unlocktheteacher.com or email us at teachme@unlocktheteacherllc.com
When we all come together for the greater good of our children, our future…there is nothing we cannot conquer!
May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,

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F-R-E-E Educational Webinars for Teachers and Parents

Given our economy, professional development has been slim for many educators. There is a plethora of free webinars online. Have fun learning!

Life is busy and for those of us who do not have time to attend a class for learning or pleasure, webinars can be just the tool needed to achieve our goal. Given technology, webinars can be the next best thing for teachers too.

PBS Teachers Live Should be in Every Teacher’s Toolbox

PBS Teachers Live offers a wealth of webinars in many areas across the disciplines. For example, if a teacher were interested in educating students about Earth Day in April (hopefully), then PBS Teachers Live would be
a valuable tool. Teachers sign up for free and log on to various webinars, full of ideas, lesson plans and across the curriculum connections, to name a few.

Webinars, an Awesome Resource for Educators

After doing some research, here are a few webinar sites across the Internet that is recommended by those within the world of education:

Education Week (one of my personal favorites) offers many enlightening webinars. Check out “E-educators’ Evolving Skills”…talk about relevant!

American Statistical Association offers various webinars…currently hosting a K-12 “Meeting within a Meeting” for Science and Math Teachers

Exploring Middle School MiddleWeb is a blog powered by Typepad. They are a promoter of 21st Century Learning and offer live and archived webinars. Check out the latest webinar: The National Middle School Association is teaming up with the NSF-funded Middle School Portal to offer “Free math and Science Webinars”…the goal was to not only make the training affordable but user friendly; teachers could watch from home.

Webinars and Educational Professional Development

The life of a teacher is very demanding and organization is necessary. This is also true for those entrusted to lead and provide professional development for their educational staff. Given this amazing age of technology, regardless of budget, there is no reason that professional development is not occurring within schools.

All of the webinars posted here in this article, can be utilized to strengthen and enrich any school faculty. Time can be manipulated and educators can watch at their own pace or educators can be assembled and view webinar as a whole and collaborate in groups afterwards. This type of professional development is only going to increase not decrease as we progress further into the world of technology. There are many curriculum developers/professional development trainers, who utilize programs like these mentioned to create meaningful professional development for educators around the world.

Given our economy, we are going to need to be more creative with our training. Training cannot stop due to funding. Teachers still need to be prepared to teach the 21-Century student, we just need to be creative. MSN as created a fabulous tool for any organization looking to create “living” documents. For educators, this tool can be multi-faceted and utilized with students or within a building for aligning curriculum. This is just two of unlimited possibilities with OneNote. Check out the free OneNote Webinar below for further details.

OneNote and Education:
This MSDN blog was created to have a dialog about OneNote and education, including sharing ideas, resources, and building community with teachers, students and faculty.

Parents are the first teachers. All of these webinars mentioned are open to anyone interested in learning and changing the life of a child. This will be one of many articles written on the topic of professional development within the world of education. There is a plethora of free programs out there for all of us to learn and use, to meet the needs of our children,
our future.

May we continue to seek knowledge in all things,



Please visit our website for our wonderful workshops for students and teachers. Our Anti-Bullying Workshops for students 1-12 is quickly gaining steam. We will gladly provide recommendations from parents, teachers and principals.

Unlock the Teacher




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