Novel Study and Lesson Ideas for The Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus is a fabulous book for a class read aloud OR for literature circles and independent reading as well. If you haven't read this book already with your students, I highly recommend it! There are a few parts that are a bit mature so I would recommend this book for grades 5 and up.

This book is about a middle school aged girl named Aven who was born without arms and was adopted by a nice couple. The story is written from Aven's perspective and follows along with her as she moves to Arizona and has to overcome the regular challenges of moving and making new friends but all without having arms. It's a story of resilience and determination that will also help readers to develop more compassion and understanding for those that are different.

Making Connections: Reading Comprehension Strategy - Texts for Grades 4-6

When we teach the various comprehension strategies (making connections, asking questions, visualizing, inferring, predicting, summarizing, etc.), it is best to model these strategies ourselves. This is as important for the primary grades as it is for our older students. As students get older we sometimes shy away from picture books but there are so many fantastic picture books out there that are geared for older students. When teaching about Making Connections (Activating Prior Knowledge) or any other comprehension strategy, I prefer to select texts that are shorter as opposed to novels.

Take Your Back to School Parent Survey Digital

In years past I would send home a printed copy of a parent survey during the first week of school. On average I would get 50% of these back if I was lucky. Parents are often as overwhelmed that first week as we are. They are inundated with forms to sign, surveys to fill out etc. As a mom of three I have totally felt overwhelmed with it all BUT as a teacher I am guilty of sending the paperwork home.

Last year I decided to switch things up. I held off on the survey the first week and I waited until our Meet the Teacher night to ask parents to fill it out. I also turned my printable survey into a digital form which made it easy and efficient for parents to fill out. We have a drop in style Meet the Teacher night so I simply set up a few chromebooks on a table and I made a sign directing parents to fill out the form. This worked out so well for me. It meant that I didn't have a line up of parents waiting to speak with me because they would be spending some time filling out the survey first. It ended up staggering the lineup of people waiting for my attention and it gave something for parents to do while they waited.

I also loved that  I didn't have to deal with the paper copies after and I could access the information at any time from my laptop. Now, you don't have to go digital in order to use this strategy. You can simply put the paper copies of your survey out on a table with some pens and have parents fill them out that way. I just prefer the digital method.

I use Google Forms to create my survey because my district subscribes to G-Suite and because I love the simplicity of it as well as how convenient it is. You could do something similar with Google Docs or using the Microsoft Suite.

If you would like a copy of my Digital Back to School Parent Survey you can grab it for free by signing up for my email list. When you sign up a link will be emailed to you. You might need to check your Spam Folder if you don't get it. If you don't want to remain on my list you can just hit the unsubscribe button. That being said I only send out about 1-2 emails per month and they usually include new blog posts, sale information or updates on new (and awesome) G-Suite teaching resources.

Why YOU Should Become Google Certified

Since becoming a Google Certified Educator, several people have asked me why I did it.

There are several reasons.

I am a self-taught Google nerd. I learned how to do all of the basics and then some on my own, just by playing around, watching YouTube videos, and attending EdTech conferences. The thing about Google tools is that for the most part, whatever you do can be undone. So if you royally mess up...never fear, you can undo it.

Even with all of the knowledge that I have gained I knew there was more out there that I was missing Google is also constantly changing and adding new features to all of their tools OR adding entire new tools for us to use.

It's FREE!

Google has all of the training courses for both Level one and two for FREE on their website! So even if you don't take the exam, you can get all of that training for free. I wanted to know if I was missing out on anything so I took the course from start to finish. After doing all of that work I decided that HECK YA I want to be a Google Certified Educator. So, I took the exam. It took my about 2 hours and 45 minutes out of the 3 hours you're allotted. It wasn't difficult, but you do need to know your stuff. The most challenging thing was knowing that you're on a time limit.

You WILL Learn NEW Things:

While taking the course I definitely learned some things that I didn't know before...especially about Sheets! Sheets are my weakness. I still have a lot to learn about them but I do have some basic knowledge. I'm hoping the Level 2 training will help to fill in some of those gaps. Taking the Google Certification course will help you to become more proficient with the tools you're already using.

It will build your confidence!

If you're someone who doesn't try new things with Google because you're just not confident enough to use it in front of your students...this course will help. You can work through things at your own speed and try them out with your students as you learn. If you're hesitant or you think, "I'm not techy, I couldn't possibly do this!" This is precisely the reason WHY you should get Google Certified. The course will teach you the basics and will give you the confidence to use GSuite for Education with ease.

It Looks GREAT on Your Resume:

Another reason to take the course AND get's a great addition to your resume. More and more schools are going digital with Google or Microsoft. Having a Google Certification on your resume shows that you're competent with EdTech tools.

Finally, felt darn good to finish that exam and get my badge. You can add the badge to your email signature if you want to show it off! Or if you're more humble you can just store the badge somewhere on your computer or keep it in your inbox but you will know just how awesome you are for taking on that challenge.

LOOK! It's my pretty Google Badge! Clearly I'm not humble about it. Now I need to get the Level 2 badge...but that's a job for summer vacay.