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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Slow Cooker Teacher Savior: Pork Roast

I love my slow cooker!  It lets me avoid the stove and spend 30 minutes or less to come home to a hot meal.  This saves my life on long days, not just those school days.

This time, I'm making pork roast, noodles, and gravy. Even my 16-month-old and picky-eater-husband love it!  Even better:  There are few ingredients and dishes to clean up after the prep.  

2 cans Cream of Mushroom Condensed soup
*1 packet brown gravy + 1 beef bouillon + 1 soup can of water cube OR 1 can condensed French Onion Soup
**1-3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water

3 pound pork roast
Whole wheat egg noodles or mashed potatoes

*I have used both.  Here's the difference:

  • The gravy + bouillon + water will give you a creamier texture and slightly saltier taste.  **You will also need to add more cornstarch to the final gravy to make it thicker than you would if you use the French Onion 
  • The French Onion Soup adds a lot of onion chunks to the gravy.  If you don't like onions in your gravy, you need to strain them out before making the gravy.

In the slow cooker, mix together the soups OR gravy + bouillon + can of water (see above for how to choose between the two).  Add the roast and flip a few times to make sure it's coated.  

Do NOT add the 1/4 cup of water yet.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6.

Remove pork and let it rest on a cutting board or plate.  Mine is almost so tender that I don't need a knife to cut it!

Turn the slow cooker on high, put the lid back on, and let it get good and hot while you start the water for the noodles or potatoes.  After the cooker is hot, add the cornstarch and 1/4 cup water and stir until it's thickened to your desired consistency.  

Pour over noodles or potatoes and enjoy!

Do you find your slow cooker to be a teacher savior?  I'd love to hear how you use yours!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Interactive Science Notebook Setup FREEBIE

Do you want to use Interactive Notebooks in your science class or would you like to update the ones you have?  Read this post about this crucial part of my daily learning routine and get a FREEBIE to help you get started!

First step, gather teacher and student materials for direct instruction and student output.  It's fairly simple: Notebooks, paper, tape/glue, writing materials, and rubrics.

Then I create examples of what teacher input looks like.  For example, note-taking or bellringers (the review question posted on the board as the students enter the room).

Next, I plan possible student output examples to show student mastery of content.

Then I plan out what kind of stations you want to use for cooperative and independent learning.  These are the stations I use on "Lab Day" so that not all students are doing the same learning activity at the same time.

These are some of the examples included in my Interactive Science Notebook FREEBIE.  If you'd like to pick up your copy, click here.

If you're interested in the complete Interactive Notebook Packet:
It is part of my 23-page Interactive Science Notebook packet.  This packet includes:
~Materials suggestions
~Teacher planning sheets
~Suggested station activities
~Table of Contents pages
~How to make bookmarks
~Input activities: 
~Note Taking Strategies (PLAN and Cornell)
~Output activities:
~Thinking Stems
~Concept Map
~Compare and Contrast
~Vocabulary template

You can pick up a copy by clicking here.

Do you use Interactive Notebooks?  I'd love to hear how!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Math is Real Life: Estimating Ounces of Hair Gel

My little boy is 17 months old today.  He currently loves all things sensory, so that's what we spend most of our days exploring.  One thing I've been dying to try with him is...

While browsing Pinterest, I came across this brilliant idea to merge the sensory bag and handwriting.  Basically, you make the bag and place a handwriting or tracing worksheet under it.  So cool!

Idea from In My World blog
Now I just needed to find the instructions for making the bag!  So I searched for "gel sensory bag" on Pinterest.  The most clear instructions I found came from this blog:

Idea from Holly's Arts and Crafts Corner

While she does give general measurements for the ingredients to make the bag, I was longing for EXACT ingredient measurements.  For example, "use about 5 ounces of gel" was hard for me to visualize.  

That's where I ran into....

Hosted by: 4mulafun, theteacherstudioteachingtoinspirein5th, and missmathdork
My bottle of hair gel was 16 ounces, so I couldn't exactly divide it evenly into five-ounce portions as Holly had suggested.  Fourths was easier to visualize since 16 ounces divided by 4 gives 4 equal four-ounce portions.  So, I created a visual for myself by marking the fourths on the bottle with a Sharpie to make my estimating easier.

My proportions are obviously not perfect, but that's one of the great things about estimating!  I knew five ounces would only be a slight bit more than 4 when I was squeezing it into the bag.  In hindsight, I would probably use about 6 ounces, if possible.

Then 10 drops of food coloring went it.  I didn't add glitter, but I imagine this would be the time to add it if you want to use it.  I hear that it adds a little bit of pop to the image.

Then my hubby volunteered to help get as much air out of the bag as possible.  

Then we put it inside another Ziploc and sealed all the edges with duct tape.

I put some tracer worksheets and workbook pages under it to see how it looked.

Just what I wanted!  A reusable writing, art, and math tool!

Have you made sensory bags before?  I'd love to hear what unique things you do with them!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Middle School Hacks: Early Finisher Enrichment

Oh, enrichment in a middle school science room!  What to do?  Gather up some content-related articles and laminate them to start.

Trust me, these may look too "babyish", but my students still love them.

I often used the Close Reading technique in my 4th Grade classroom, but I wasn't quite sure how to adapt it for my middle schoolers.  Then, I thought about what the critical skills are that all students, regardless of age, should practice.  I always like to have articles available, so I hatched this plan.

This packet includes:
~A teacher direction page
~A student direction page

This activity increases the following skills:
Reading comprehension
Asking questions about what students are reading
Determining importance

Increasing content-area vocabulary

If you'd like to pick up a copy, click here.

Do you use Close Reading in your classroom to teach or enrich?  I'd love to hear how!