Friday, May 30, 2014

Using Foldable Graphic Organizers for Interactive Notebooks by Lynda R. Williams

Have you jumped on board with interactive notebooks yet?   Interactive notebooks are a great way to have students organize information, preview assignments, record their thoughts, keep a portfolio of their work, make connections, explain concepts and demonstrate understanding in a creative and meaningful way  (TCI, 2013).

One of the biggest benefits I have personally seen with interactive notebooks is the amount of engagement and pride that students seem to have in their notebook.  The work is personal and meaningful.  

There are many ways a teacher can set up interactive notebooks.  A teacher may choose to have different subjects in different notebooks.  Or they may choose to focus on a single subject and just have one interactive notebook.  If you are trying to save on the cost of the notebooks, you may want to include more than one subject in a notebook.   I have seen this done by dividing notebooks into sections.  I have also seen this done with one subject going from the front cover towards the center, flipping the notebook over, and having another subject go from the back cover towards the center. 

Here are some general tips I have for setting up interactive notebooks:

·        Use a non-spiral, composition notebook.  Spiral notebooks tend to lose their pages.
·        Skip the first few pages to allow for a title page and table of contents.   The table of contents helps with organization and assessment of the notebook.
·        Keep them in the classroom!  Do not allow students to take them home until they have been completed and assessed at the end of the semester or school year. 
·        Have the students number the pages as you go and be very specific, especially in the beginning about what you want in each entry.
·        If appropriate, provide the students with a rubric, letting them know specifically how you will be assessing the notebook.  

What do you have students actually do in the interactive notebook?

The possibilities are endless.  Here are a few things that I have tried that have worked well. 
·        Brainstorming
·        KWL charts
·        Venn Diagrams
·        Concept Maps
·        Thinking Maps
·        Graphs
·        Charts
·        Diagrams
·        Illustrations
·        Maps
·        Foldable graphic organizers

Foldable Graphic Organizers are by far the favorite with the students and most of the above ideas could easily be done within foldable graphic organizers.  These organizers give the students an opportunity to express their understanding both linguistically and visually.  They can replace worksheets with something student generated that has more meaning for the student. 

Foldable graphic organizers have the additional benefit of simply being a better use of space.  Each area provides another space to record information.  This makes your paper and your notebook go a lot further. Try out a foldable graphic organizer for organizing something into parts such as comparing and contrasting, supporting details or cause and effect.  

For more on interactive notebooks and foldable graphic organizers please visit these sites.

Olivares, S. (2011). Using Interactive Notebooks in the Mathematics Classroom. Retrieved January 11, 2013 from
TCI (2013). The Interactive Student Notebook. Retrieved January 15, 2013 from

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lynda R. Williams to Guest Post on Teaching Learning Leading K12 about Foldable Graphic Organizers and Interactive Notebooks... May 30th

I have been teaching professionally for over 27 years. I taught in the K-12 public school system in California for 12 years. Since then I have taught in Teacher Preparation Programs at California State University, Fullerton and at Utah Valley University. 
My current position as a lecturer at Utah Valley University gives me the wonderful opportunity to teach science and social studies methods to new pre-service teachers.  I like to use an inquiry  based approach and I think it is crucial to make the learning engaging.   I try to teach my students in the way that I would like them to teach their future elementary school students.  

I enjoy designing curriculum that is meaningful and useful for other teachers. 

Publications: The CalTPA Prep Guide, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers Store: 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Teachers: 3 Actions you should take before school starts, again



Think about what went well this year and what didn't. Be critical. How could you improve your work with the kids? Is there something that would help you expand your teaching skills during the break? Maybe taking a look at becoming better at using formative assessment for monitoring progress, maybe re-visiting the way you engage the kids, how about learning a little more about the interactive board and the ways to get the kids up and out of their seats…what do you think? Take time to write these down while specific events and children’s names are fresh in your mind.


It is difficult working with many children and their needs all year long. The kids need a teacher who has taken some time for herself. So now it is time to recharge your batteries. Spend time with your family. Go somewhere. Do something. When was the last time you went to the beach or the mountains or how about Disney World? You need some time for yourself so…like Nike says…Just Do It!


Now that your batteries are ready to go again, revisit your notes and reflections and take action. Spend time learning…spend time creating activities based upon what you learned…get ready for the new year and the great bunch of kids that are headed your way!

Smile!!! Its going to be a great year!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Voting in Georgia Primary...Today!


All Educators...

Today is very important!!!!

Georgia Primary Voting

Make sure that you check out your choices and exercise your power to vote!!!!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

High School Coaches: 4 Rules for Helping An Athletic Banquet Go Smoothly

This time of the year is usually filled with athletic banquets. One after another!
 As a principal you might have to figure out how to be in three places at one time! If you are lucky they worked together and your athletic director coordinated the dates so that you could attend. If …you…are …lucky…sigh…
Now this is not really what I am going to focus on….those items are just part of the life of a principal…
Instead, let’s talk about the event.
As a principal I have attended many banquets… some of which I dreaded…Some I actually looked forward to…what was the difference? There were four common elements…

So, here are the 4 rules for helping an athletic banquet go smoothly…

Number 1: The coach cannot be in charge of the event

The coach or coaches cannot be in charge of the event. Matter of fact, there should be a parent committee that oversees the event. They are in charge of telling the coach where and when things happen.  He, she , or they have too much riding on this event (especially if the season was not too great…). Removing the coach from the responsibility means that you are on your first step to having a wonderful night!

Number 2: The Coach must know what she will say ahead of time.

Winging it... Talking off the cuff…whatever you want to call it…It is not allowed…
This type of action spells …
When the coach thinks that she knows everything she needs to know…watch out…this is the type of speech making that I fear the most…As a principal, it usually meant that I was going to get a call on Monday morning from the parent who was offended by the comment or joke, or I am going to hear from the parent or child who was left out spelled get the point...just fill in the blank...

The coach must know what she is going to say and not make detours and add something that was not practiced!

Number 3: Feed the people

Have you ever been to a wedding reception and they insist on waiting on the groom and bride prior to the friends and family eating or sampling the hors d’oeuvres? Well, if not the grumbling can get quite loud and will get worse the longer it takes. Some family and friends will actually leave…the same will happen at a banquet. Feed them. Make sure that they know whether it is cookies and punch or a real dinner (you know…lasagna or chicken).  But whatever you do…don’t let the coaches be in charge of this or you are assured of overhearing the following…”Ok…who brought the paper goods?” You brought a bag of chips and some frozen shrimp? What were you thinking?” “Your family's left over ham is not enough for 100 people!” “Two boxes of Coke are not enough for everyone…yeeesshhh!”
Give me long enough and I can recall even more very real, ulcer inducing comments.
As a note, make sure that the kids eat after the parents…if you want the parents to actually eat…that is…

Number 4: Follow a schedule and keep to it.

A parent should be assigned (who is not afraid of the coach)…This parent creates a schedule and explains how much time is allotted for each part of the evening. She reminds presenters and others that this is how much time they have and when they go. She makes sure that anyone talking understands that they should not go beyond their time frame or they should understand that death comes quickly.

Those are my four rules...I kid you not, if you want the evening to go smoothly…follow these four rules and all will be good…plus your principal will be happy. Can’t beat that!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Principals: 5 No-No's for Graduation Speeches

Okay…so you are tasked with talking at graduation. 

You are the principal. You've got this.

Prepare. Who needs to prepare. I can just wing it!

After all, I know what to talk about. Yea…

How about I’ll tell them a story from when I was a kid…yes…that will work. Then I will tie that to the tough conditions today. Life is tough. Job outlooks are bleak. But when I was young it was tougher. You know…I had to walk 10 miles to school and it was all uphill …both ways!
I won’t need to practice because I know when to end…I’ll just talk until I get to a good stopping place…then …blam…I’ll say something funny… smile and then… hey…let's graduate…Then I can sit and turn it over to the staff…whew that was tough…but I’m done…yea! That’s a good plan…

Ok…If you are thinking this way…STOP IT! STOP IT, NOW!!!!

Oh…the insanity…I can hear the kids going…yeesh...when will he shut up, the grandparents are asking who is this guy? And the parents are wondering about their dinner reservations or the many family members who are back at the house, eating the food meant for the graduation party and wondering where the graduate is…

Here is a summation of 5 No-Nos of graduation speeches…

Doom and Gloom

This is a momentous occasion! Parents, graduates, alumni, family, and friends…Soooo many people excited about the event…thinking about the years gone by…looking forward to the future…some thinking…whew…she made it…Doom and Gloom cannot be part of this speech…No global warming…No Russians in the Ukraine…No China taking over the economy or the lack of jobs or other issues like that…

Speaker talks about himself

This is their day! This is a time for their families and friends to celebrate the journey and the future! They don’t want to hear about you or some famous person! They want to hear about them! Talk about the kids, specific info about events, make comments about issues that were taboo during the year but now are actually funny… Did you know that we have three Eagle Scouts and three Girl Scout Gold Award winners?...remember the trip to Grad Night? Ok…sooo did you really ride the Harry Potter ride only once? How amount the service of the students to the community…The winning field goal…The band in Washington…The Academic team taking top honors…JROTC meeting the general of the Air Force….How many of you really like syrup on the bleachers? (A reference to a prank)…Ok…who is going to admit that they were the ones who placed Ronald McDonald on our roof? Do you remember when the cafeteria started focusing on serving healthy snacks like wheat germ, plain yogurt and bean sprouts…ok yea I know some of you were happy…but…

Now wouldn't this be sooo much better?!

Talks too long

15 to 20 minutes…no more….practice…don’t ramble…make your points…have fun!

Winging it

You must think about what you are going to say…don’t memorize…but create your points…make it about them and their families…practice…practice…so you know what you are going to say and you don’t talk toooo long…

No sense of humor…

Don’t tell jokes …but make it fun!!!
Help to make it memorable…

If they seek you out afterward…If they make you feel like Mickey Mouse at Disney World because they want you to take a picture with them, their families, their friends…then you've done good…