Year In Review Top 10 Lists

I know that many of you might already be finished the school year... but I've still got 5 weeks to go! As I start to wrap things up with my students I always get reflective about the year and think back to our highs and our lows as a class. 

A fun activity I like to do with my students is to have them create Top 10 Lists for their year.  This week, I'm going to have my students create a Top 10 List of Things They've Learned in the class.  First, I'll have them create the list individually and then I'll ask them to work in groups of 3-4 and decide the 10 biggest ideas or concepts they've learned as a class.  It's a wonderful way to get students thinking about what may be on their final exam, as the exam relates to the BIG IDEAS.  As a teacher it's also an excellent way for me to check that what I've taught them comes through on their lists... hopefully, our lists aren't too far apart!

I've created a FUN FREEBIE with worksheets for you to work through your own Top 10 Lists with your students.  I've included the following worksheets:
  • Top 10 Things I've Learned
  • Top 10 Pieces of Advice (for next year's students)
  • Top 10 School Moments
  • Top 10 Life Moments
  • A paragraph worksheet for students to explain their top three picks from one of their lists.
  • Worksheets come in full & half size!
I've done this activity with several age groups and I've always loved what's come of it! The discussions are fabulous to listen to and I always have a bit of a giggle when I read their "Top 10 Pieces of Advice" list! Always a great way to get a true sense of what your students really think!  

Click the image to download a FREE copy!

Hope you have fun with these!
Check out more ideas for the End of the Year over at

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Great Graduation Advice

It's that time of year for thousands of Seniors across North America, it's one of the greatest rights of passages of our youth and a cause for celebration!  Grad parties, Senior Prom, Convocation... the list of events (and the subsequent need for a new outfit) is endless!

However, it's also an incredibly challenging time for families... first is the incredible cost.  I think some of our students will easily spend over $1000 by the time they've bought a dress, shoes, jewelery, flowers, limousine, hair, nails...  This can be a huge burden for some families to bear in today's economic climate.  

Secondly, there are all sorts of changes on the horizon... 
   - Perhaps an out of town college or university?
   - Living with a room mate for the first time?
   - Doing laundry for the first time?
   - Managing food and the infamous "Freshman 15"?
   - Dealing with a limited supply of money...
   - Learning the in's and out's of college...
   - Leaving old friends behind and making new ones..
I vividly remember being dropped off at University (it was a 5 hour trip from my home-town).  I was sooo excited to be starting life on my own, I had two great room mates (one of whom was a high-school friend), a car and money in my bank account!  But when the moment came to say goodbye to my mum and dad, the reality of what I was embarking on came crashing down.  I managed to maintain my cool (I was after all trying so desperately to prove that I could do this!) while I gave my parents a parting hug and a brave wave good bye.  It wasn't until they were gone, that the tears started...(made all the worse by the world's sappiest card given to me by my mum... something about mothers and daughters and growing up - it was soooo sappy, but I still have it!)

I'm pleased to say I survived all four years of my university career thanks to my very supportive parents, fantastic friends, awesome faculty and a small friendly university.  I managed to find my way in this world and have had several and amazing adventures working in various parts of North America before finally deciding to become a teacher.  A decision I've never regretted.

Sooo... where does this blog post go you may ask??  I'm curious to know what advice you received as a Senior as you graduated from high-school.  What do you remember most about that time in your life? What did someone tell you that helped you get on your way?  

Here are two that stick in my mind:

- High school is fun, but life only gets better from here on...
- Take every opportunity that comes your way... no matter how small, it may lead to bigger and better things.

I'd love to hear your thoughts below... 


Playing with Playdough

I love keeping my students on their toes wondering what they're going to do in class everyday.  Some days (despite my best intentions) class isn't very exciting, however when my high school students walk into class and see that I've got the playdough out, they get positively giddy!

It's amazing how the feel and smell of playdough can take us back to being 4 years old! I love the way it wams up in my hand and the salty taste it leaves behind.  Apparently, my students feel the same way!!

Here's how I use playdough in my Science, Geography and English classrooms.

1. Playdough is a fabulous way for students to create 3-D models of a concept.  Whether it's creating the shape of a specific type of volcano, demonstrating a plate boundary, creating an organism, a cell, an internal organ or part of a plant... having the students physically create something helps them to learn the information and retain it.  I always circulate around the room, ask my students to explain what they're making, ask them to share with a partner etc. 

2. Playdough is also a fantastic way for students to explain a process. For example I can ask students to use playdough to explain how headlands, sea caves, sea arches and sea stacks are related.  This takes the lesson beyond a typical sketch and paragraph. I quickly circulate and ask students to explain the concept to me, I can ask the students questions and they can share with each other.  Other examples - show me three pieces of evidence that glaciers move, show how a rift valley forms, demonstrate the life cycle of a star, show the phases of the moon, the digestive track...  I think the possibilities are almost endless for science (especially biology and earth science / geography).

3. In English class I have asked students to create and explain a symbol to represent a character, a theme, the mood, a character's emotion, the setting, the climax... Asking students to think outside the box and demonstrate their learning in a different way is not only engaging for the students, but also makes the lesson memorable and long-lasting. Here's an example of how a student used playdough to represent a setting.

4. One of the biggest things about using playdough is that it's risk free for the students.  I can't collect it and mark it. I'm not judging them on their artistic abilities because as long as they can explain it , I know that they understand it.  It's not permanent... so if they see that they've got the concept wrong the first time, the playdough gets mashed up and they can start all over again.  No harm is done and no marks are lost!  

5. Did I mention how excited my students get when they see playdough?? I've had the same box of playdough for two school years... all of the colors are in their original containers, none of the colors have been mixed / mashed together and none are missing.  The students respect the opportunity I'm giving them and I've had no problems.  I'm not gonna lie... I was worried that all sorts of inappropriate things where going to be made out of the playdough... but so good!

How have you used playdough in your classroom?? 

Have fun!

Be sure to check out some other fun and smart teaching techniques by following the link below.
Smart Teaching

Smart Teaching
Back to Top