#tlap Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Mary Kienstra

Invite the Experts

By: Mary Kienstra on: June 23, 2016  in: #tlap, author, Engagement, , ,

Why is it that our students will sit and listen to total strangers in a way that they would never listen to their teacher? When we invite the experts to our classrooms, our students learn from primary sources.  They hear real information and listen in a new way. Last year, I invited experts of all kinds […] Read more


The Survey Project

By: Mary Kienstra on: May 22, 2016  in: #tlap, graphing, math engagement, , ,

What do you do at the end of the school year when the standard is data analysis?  Create a survey project!  It makes perfect sense.  Kids will care much more about analyzing the data that they collect than about any data presented in the text.  Let them create their own. Take a survey. Create a […] Read more


When Students Care

By: Mary Kienstra on: May 19, 2016  in: #tlap, non fiction

When students care, everything changes.  Fourth graders have a tremendous amount of compassion for animals.  What better way to hook them than to tap into that passion with the essential question, “Why should we care?” After studying the importance of sharks in the ocean, we continued the theme with more large mammals.  Timing is everything. […] Read more


A True Community

By: Mary Kienstra on: May 14, 2016  in: #tlap, community, reading

Some classes have the “IT” factor.  That’s the class where the kids all care.  Not about just the content.  They care for each other too. They are a true community.  They work together well and all seem to be pulling in the same direction.  I look at this year’s class and wonder what we did […] Read more


Heads Up Vocabulary Game

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 22, 2016  in: #tlap, geometry vocabulary, vocabulary

Why not use games to help kids learn vocabulary? It sure is much more engaging than handing them a list of words and telling them to memorize them.  This week my class is practicing geometry vocabulary words with the party game “Heads Up” and they are loving it.  Heads Up Vocabulary Games – an engaging […] Read more


And the Winner Is…

By: Mary Kienstra on: April 6, 2016  in: #tlap, creating, Engagement

The first day back after Spring Break is a good day for something out of the ordinary – like revealing the winner of the Book Madness!  So today was the day.  I gathered my students around the book madness brackets.  You know, the bulletin board covered in black with the “DO NOT PEEK” sign.  I […] Read more


The Trial of Sponge Bob

By: Mary Kienstra on: March 24, 2016  in: #tlap, Engagement, reading

Teachers see The Trial of Sponge Bob as a reading lesson where kids practice using evidence from the text to support their ideas.  Kids see it as FUN! The week before Spring Break is a difficult week in an elementary school.  As the excitement level continues to rise, it’s more and more difficult for the […] Read more


Dressing up with the Habits of Mind Lessons

By: Mary Kienstra on: September 13, 2015  in: #tlap

One of the things that kids look forward to when they arrive in my class in August is the day where we all dress up as the Habits of Mind.  Anything that is out of the ordinary is fun and exciting – this is a big day! At the beginning of each school year, I […] Read more


Standards Based Grading: What About the Kids?

By: Mary Kienstra on: August 30, 2015  in: #tlap, assessment

We are in for a huge upheaval in my elementary school this year as we are changing our report cards.  We’re moving from the traditional grades that we have used forever to standards based grading.  To say that teachers are freaking out would be a huge understatement, but I’m excited!  I say it’s about time that […] Read more


Character Analysis – Speed Dating Style

By: Mary Kienstra on: May 24, 2015  in: #tlap, characters, dress-up;, Engagement

Sometimes my craziest ideas turn out to the be the best ones.  We are getting close to the end of the school year, so it’s time for a party in reading class.  But not just any party.  This party was a “dress as your favorite character from a book” party.  Additionally, they brought 5 props […] Read more