My Lesson Plans

First Day of School Ideas

  • “All About Me Posters”: Have students draw and color their name on a large sheet of paper. They add things about themselves, including their birthdays and their favorite things to do. Present and then display them around the room! 
  • Two Truths, One Lie: Students will be given a note card to write their name on one side and three unique facts about themselves. Two of the three facts will be true and one will be made up. Student will be called on at random to read their cards to the class. Students will guess which statement is false and which two are real facts about the student presenting. This is a fun ice breaker and helps students get to know one another! 
  • Morning Meeting: On the first day of school, introduce students to morning meetings. My idea of a morning meeting is to meet on the floor in the same spot every day. Go around the circle and have each student share one short story about their morning, the past weekend, their summer, etc. You could have a daily theme for the morning meeting, or have students tell the class about some time in the past, whether that be yesterday, last week, or over winter break. Morning meetings are a great way to practice public speaking and allows students and the teacher to know what is going on in each students life. 


My Favorite Science Lesson I Taught:

Oil, Water, & Oil Spills 


-Poster board (to display fact sheets and pictures)       - Feathers

-5+ water bottles       -Dawn Soap   -Oil    -Water     -Cocoa Powder        

-Towels      -Laundry Detergent     -Bucket of water

Learning Targets

Instructional Plan Purpose: This lesson will help students understand better what is going on with the recent Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico oil spill. This will also teach children about cause and effect and what can and is happening to our ecosystem and community as a whole. This will help build community because hopefully, students will be motivated to do everything we can to help!

State Learning Standards:

EALR 3: Application. Big Idea: Application (APP). Core Content: Solving Problems

In earlier grades, students learned to use simple tools and materials to solve problems in creative ways. In grades 2-3 students develop the ability to design a solution to a simple problem, using an elementary version of the technological design process. They also increase their abilities to use tools and materials to design and build something that solves a problem. Students can apply these abilities in their daily lives.

EALR 4: Life Science. Big Idea: Ecosystems (LS2). Core Content: Changes in Ecosystems

In prior grades students learned that all plants and animals live in and depend on habitats. In grades 2-3 students learn that ecosystems include plant and animal populations as well as nonliving resources. Plants and animals depend both on each other and on the nonliving resources in their ecosystem to survive. Ecosystems can change through both natural causes and human activities. These changes might be good or bad for the plants and animals that live in the ecosystem, or have no effect. Humans can protect the health of ecosystems in a number of ways.

National Education Standards:

NS.5-8.1-Science as inquiry:  Abilities to do scientific inquiry, understanding about scientific inquiry

NS.5-8.3-Life science

NS.5-8.6-Personal and social perspectives: Science and technology in society

Content Objectives: Students will be able to demonstrate the cause and effects of oil spills and what is happening to our environment.

Language Objectives: Students will be able to describe what we found in our experiment in groups and as a reflection in their science notebooks. 

Student Voice:

Students will communicate the relationship between the assessment and the learning targets. They will prove this through answering the formative assessment question, “What parts of an ecosystem are affected by oil spills?” and through class discussions about the cause and effects of oil spills. They will reflect on this by writing a reflection on the activity in their science notebooks.

Students will also communicate how the learning from a series of lessons connects with communities within and outside of the school. Students will prove this to the teacher by developing ideas for how we can help with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Student will also prove their understanding by discussing all the animals, parts of the environment, and people affected by the oil spill so they can see the true affects of an oil spill. This will be assessed by the teacher through a group discussion and through a reflection in their science notebooks.

Grouping Students for Instruction: Because these lessons will be presented at a science fair in a large room or gym, students will randomly be divided and will come up to our table at their own pace and at different times throughout the day. Students will most likely come up to the table if they are interested in trying our oil spill activity.

Learning/Teaching Experiences

Introduction: “Have any of you heard about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill? Well today, I am going to show you the cause and affects of an oil spill on the water, the animals that live in the water, and the ecosystem as a whole.” I will have a have a poster board with information about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill standing at my station. I will also have lots of water bottles, oil, feathers, and Dial soap on the table. As students come up to my station, I will ask them if they have heard about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and then I will tell them facts about the spill and show them pictures of what happened and is still happening near the oil spill. Then I will ask them to try the experiment and tell them that this relates to us because of the fact that all of our marine life that migrates through this area is being affected. If we do not get this oil spill under control, all of our marine life is going to die, many people will lose their jobs, and the land around the ocean will start to erode as well. This is like a domino affect and we need to help as much as we can!


  • When you shake the bottle of oil and water, what happened? Why?
  • What all is affected by this oil spill around the Gulf of Mexico?
  • Imagine that your bottle of water was a tiny section of the ocean and there are millions of organisms living inside of it. What would happen to the organisms if there were an oil spill?
  • How can an oil spill affect humans?
  • What are ways in which we can make a difference with the oil spill all the way from Pullman?
  • What can we conclude about oil and water?

Learning Activities:

  1. Pass out water bottles filled about ¼ full of water to each student or couple of students that are at my station.
  2. Add a small amount of oil into the water bottle along with cocoa powder to resemble crude oil. (Explain that crude oil is a mixture of naturally occurring hydrocarbons that is refined into diesel, gasoline, heating oil, jet fuel, kerosene, and literally thousands of other products called petrochemicals). Allow students to observe what happens.
  3. Let students shake their water bottles and observe closely what happens.
  4. Ask: “What happened to the oil?” Students will see that the oil and water will always separate.
  5. Create a scenario for the students: “imagine that your bottle of water was a tiny section of the ocean and there are millions of organisms living inside of it. What would happen to the organisms if there was an oil spill?”
  6. Continue the scenario by asking, “How can an oil spill affect humans?” Talk about initial impacts and long-term effects.
  7. Next, have students dip a feather into the bottle of water. Discuss with students that the oil attaches itself to the feather due to the properties of oil and the feather. This is similar to oil sticking to coral, sea life, and birds in the ocean.
  8. Students should then try to clean the oil off the feather using a few methods.

Try: Dawn soap and water, towels, detergent, etc.

Closure: Discuss as a group, the activity that your students just did and reflect by asking, “What would you do to help clean up the oil spill? Did you know about the Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico oil spill in April 2010 before today? What do you think we could do as a class and government to help with the problem of an oil spill?”

Extension Activity: Have students research the recent oil spill. Students can analyze the detrimental effects it has had on the different groups affected.

EX: the environment, wildlife, humans, tourists, etc.

Independent Practice: Research other natural disasters that have recently occurred and discuss the cause and effects of this on the environment, the community, people, animals, and so on. Also, because we will include the Dawn campaign in our lesson, we will tell students and their families that they can help in this cause at home by purchasing Dawn soap and $1 from every bottle will go towards helping with the oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico.



History/Cultural Celebration Lesson: Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year) 


Instructional Plan/Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is to reflect on what we have learned throughout our social studies unit on the Lunar New Year. This lesson will allow students to see the importance of learning about other cultures and their traditions to broaden our understanding of the world as a whole through research and discovery.

State Learning Standards:

5.4 SOCIAL STUDIES SKILLS: Creates a product that uses social studies content to support a thesis and presents the product in an appropriate manner to a meaningful audience.

1. COMMUNICATION: The student uses listening and observation skills and strategies to gain understanding.

1.1. Uses listening and observation skills and strategies to focus attention and interpret information.

1.2. Understands, analyzes, synthesizes, or evaluates information from a variety of sources.

2. The student uses communication skills and strategies to interact/work effectively with others.

2.1. Uses language to interact effectively and responsibly in a multicultural context.

2.2. Uses interpersonal skills and strategies in a multicultural context to work collaboratively, solve problems, and perform tasks.

Content Objectives:

SWBAT display their reading/listening comprehension skills as they answer “Focused Reading” questions while I read a book aloud to the class. (Comm.) 1, 1.1, 2.1.

SWBAT demonstrate their understanding of the Lunar New Year and all that we have researched along with it through this reflection activity/lesson. (SS) 5.4. (Comm.) 1, 1.1, 1.2, 2.2.

Language Objectives:

SWBAT discuss what they have discovered about the Lunar New Year throughout this unit and how they worked well with their group to discover new ways of portraying information they gathered about this celebration.

Previous Learning Experience: Students will have already studied all about the Lunar New Year. This was a weeklong unit about the Lunar New Year that was comprised of research, guest speakers, reading, teacher-led instruction, independent and group work. 

Grouping of Students for Instruction:

Students will work independently on a focused read aloud assignment to begin the lesson. Students will then be working with their table groups to create posters that reflect on their learning throughout this lesson. Finally, we will wrap up the lesson with a class discussion and they will share their “highs and lows” of the unit as a whole.

Learning/Teaching Experiences:

o    Introduction:

“Today we are going to reflect on everything we learned about the Lunar New Year. This will help us to see the reasons why it is important to research and learn about other cultures and their traditions. You are going to work with your table groups, independently, and we will work as a class to reflect on what we have discovered about the Lunar New Year in a new and fun way!”

o    Questions:

1.     What was the most interesting thing you learned about the Lunar New Year?

2.     Why do you think it is important to learn about other cultures?

3.     What helped you learn the most about the Lunar New Year? Guest speakers? Readings? Research? PowerPoint presentations?

4.     Why is it important to learn how to present what you have learned to your peers?

5.     What did you enjoy the most about this unit? What did not help you learn?

6.     Why do you think it is important to ask direct sources as opposed to only looking up information?

7.     What do you wonder about now that you know what you know about the Lunar New Year?

o    Instruction:

To start the lesson, I will give a brief description of what awe are going to do today to wrap up our Lunar New Year unit. Next, I will read Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year while the class works on their “focused read” worksheet. Once we have gone over the worksheet, three groups of students will present their PowerPoint presentations. We will then reflect on what we learned about PowerPoint and how it is an important skill to have. We will talk about the strengths of each PowerPoint and what can be improved upon for future PowerPoint’s.

Next, I will give directions for the table group reflection posters. Students will have a set amount of work time and I will offer a few suggestions and key things to incorporate into their posters that are key to what we learned about the Lunar New Year. Students will then share their posters with the rest of the class, one group at a time.

Finally, we will wrap up the lesson by discussing what our students thought was the most valuable thing we learned, followed by having everyone say their “highs and lows” throughout this entire Lunar New Year unit. I will then tell students how they can continue learning about the Lunar New Year through various Independent Practices.

o    Learning Activities:

1.     Begin by giving the introduction to this lesson.

2.     Then, I will read aloud the book, Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year.

3.     As I read the story aloud, students will be working on a “read along” worksheet.

4.     After reading this book, we will discuss the book and I will ask students to share a few things that they learned from this book.

5.     Three groups of students will be randomly chosen to present their PowerPoint presentations that they made about the Lunar New Year. They will be reminded how to properly present their PowerPoint without reading straight off the slides.

6.     Next, we will talk about the strengths of each presentation and what each group could improve on for the next PowerPoint they create.

7.     Once they have presented, I will lead into giving directions for their table group reflection activities on this unit.

8.     Students will then break out into their groups and work on their posters to portray their understanding of the Lunar New Year as a whole.

9.     After each group has completed their posters, they will share them with the rest of the class.

10.  Next, we will have a class discussion about all that we have learned throughout this unit. I will ask guiding questions and have volunteers share. I will also share with students what I saw them do well.

11.  Then, we will do our “highs and lows” activity.

12.  Finally, I will wrap up the lesson by giving students ideas of things to do for “Independent Practice”.

o    Closure:

I will close this lesson by asking every student in a class discussion, what their “high” and “low” of this unit was. Their “high” would be their favorite thing we learned about the Lunar New Year, and their “low” would be the part of the unit they did not enjoy as much as the rest. Once we have done this quick activity, I will tell students about the things they can do for independent practice and how impressed I am by the hard work they have done!

o    Independent Practice:

“To continue practicing what you have learned about the Lunar New Year, celebrate the specific aspects of Lunar New Year that happen throughout the next 15 days. It will be a fun way to teach your families about what we have learned and this will be a helpful way to keep what we have learned fresh in your minds for the next Lunar New Year. Another fun way you can involve your friends and family in what we learned is by looking up their Chinese Zodiacs and comparing your personality traits. This will be homework for the week. Over the weekend, write about the ways in which you have continued to practice the Lunar New Year.”

o    Instructional Material, Resources, and Technology:

Every student needs:

- Paper and pencils

- Markers

- “Focused Reading Handout”

-Posters – 1 for each group of 6 students

            - “Reflection Questions Handout”

            Teacher Resources:

            - Image Camera, Projector, Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year

           o    Integration of Other Content Areas:

This unit as a whole has been a combination of social studies, language arts, communication through presentations, and technological skills development. This unit could also include art by having students draw or paint their Chinese zodiacs and/or Chinese characters.

o    Acknowledgements:

Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan’s Chinese New Year

Waters, Kate, Madeline Slovenz-Low, and Martha Cooper. Lion Dancer: Ernie Wan's Chinese New Year. New York: Scholastic, 1990. Print. 



Musical Pitch Lesson 

(Accommodations for Students with Various Needs Embedded) 



Musical Concept:    High versus Low Pitch

Grade Level:    3rd to 5th


Students will demonstrate their ability to identify high and low pitched sounds and where those sounds/notes are located on the musical staff. This will help the students get used to different sounds and this will also allow them to learn by putting pitch into their own context. By doing this activity, they will be able to see a “real life” scenario of objects/noises that represent each pitch on their staff paper. They will have some prior knowledge about music such as the number of spaces and lines a staff has, the musical alphabet, and what each note value is worth and what it looks like on a Treble and Bass Clef Staff.


The students will be given a tri-fold folder that has the outside of a house drawn on it and opens where the front door is. If you have blind students you could use puff paints to make the lines and Treble Clef symbol raised so that they could visualize what sheet music looks like. Inside the folder will be a musical staff drawn in with five lines and 4 spaces in the Treble Clef. They will also have a sheet of paper with drawings of objects that represent various pitches or a list of words written in brail that you can cut out for your students to place on the staff by feeling where they would go and practice making the sounds with them so that they can feel and hear when each object/sound would be placed. The teacher will start off by telling them about how you can pretend that a house is representative of a musical staff, and expand on that with how you enter on the LOWER floors or lines, and as you walk up the stairs, or staff lines and spaces, you get HIGHER in the house, or on the staff which makes a higher pitch than the lower “floors” do, and this is shown by using notes on the staff (have your Aid help blind students do this activity). Next, the teacher will give the students examples of high and low pitches on instruments or by saying or singing them. Then he/she will ask the students to give her examples of high and low pitched things at various locations or from different categories; such as: things at the beach, on the playground, different animal sounds, and different instruments (there can be many variations to how you teach this).  These categories and objects that make these sounds will then be listed on the board in categories titled, “High Pitches” and “Low Pitches”. Once the teacher feels that his/her students understand high vs. low-pitched sounds, they will give instructions on the activity for this unit in music. The teacher will tell the students that they must color in the different pictures on their worksheet and once they are colored they must cut out each object and glue it into their “Staff Houses” on the correct line or space, or at least on the high or low side of the staff; the 3rd or middle line divides the high and low pitches. The teacher will have a ready made example to show the students what their “Staff Houses” should look like with all the different pitches in their places once it is complete (also do this with the brail version if needed).

This is where I would get creative for students with various needs. For example, if I had students who were def, I would play different sounds on the computer and allow them to put their hand on the speaker or sit on it (if it is big enough). Because these students will have already had practice with these kinds of activities to recognize different sounds, I think they would be able to teach us about bass and the vibrations that help them differentiate between HIGH and LOW sounds. This could be a very empowering activity for a student that is def to have a chance to teach their peers how they learn!

Next, I would have all of my students blow up a balloon, put it under their chin on their neck and make LOW and HIGH sounds that I say and write up on the board and see which ones made vibrations and which ones did not. This would be fun for all students and would give my students that are def a chance to show their peers how they learn about pitch without hearing it. (This was an idea I got from the comedian we went to a few weeks ago!)

Source: My inspiration came from the High vs. Low Pitch lesson we were taught in class when we learned about different pitches and how the low pitches are on the lower stories of the house, and the higher pitches are higher up in a house, which can be representative of a musical staff. This idea stemmed from what we learned in class, but the bulk of this lesson plan consists of my own ideas.

Equipment Needed:           

(Have all equipment at the students’ desk before you begin lesson)

  1. Tri – Fold Folders with windows and a front door drawn on the outside and staff paper with a Treble Clef on the inside and some objects that you usually see in a house (to show the analogy). 
  2. Staff paper (already glued into folder) – to see a staff and that is where the students will glue the staff identifying objects
  3. Crayons or Markers – to color objects
  4. Glue Sticks – to glue finished objects on the staff paper
  5. Scissors – to cut out objects
  6. Rhythmic instruments: Hand drum, symbols, bells, etc.


To grab the students attention, I will start by telling them about the fun activity we are about to start and that we will be learning something new about music and we will get to have fun while we learn through a new project! Next I will bring out some Rhythm instruments and ask them which one they think makes high vs. low pitched sounds. Then I will go from there to teach the lesson by drawing a musical staff on the board and ask them to give me examples on the way which will ease the transition into the lesson, so that it is fun and they get to help come up with some ideas and I won’t be talking at them the whole time.


  • Introduction (3 Minutes) – Attention grabber, explain what we are going to learn, and tell them about the materials that are at their desk and how we are going to use it (briefly). Write a list of what we are going to do on the board (for students who are def, need a structured plan to stay on task, etc.)
  • Teach Concept (5 minutes) – Explain what high and low pitch means and where those notes/sounds go on the staff. Use examples such as Rhythm Instruments or by saying high pitch in a high voice and low pitch in a low voice.
  • Making a list of High Vs. Low Pitches (5 Minutes) – Ask the class to come up with a list of high and low pitched objects, animals, or people (men, women, kids) at various places; such as, at the farm, at the ocean, on the playground and the different things that makes those types of pitches – girls, boys, cows, birds, etc.
  • Instructions (2 minutes) – Tell them to color in the objects on their handouts, cut them out, and glue them on the staff where those high and low pitches belong.
  • Individual Work (10 minutes) – Let the students work individually on their “Staff Houses” and go around the room to see how they are doing. This will only be enough time for the students to get started on their projects, but this can be a two part activity or it could be extended for an extra 10 -15 minutes to give the students more time to complete their projects.

*Here I could also make variations for my students that have delayed motor skills. I could have the objects cut out for them ahead of time and they could have a partner (who had already completed their work) to help them glue on the objects in the same time allotted to all students so that they do not feel like they are incapable of completing this activity that some kids may do with ease.

  • Closure (5 minutes) – Walk around the room while the students are working on their activity to answer questions and help them with where to place their objects. By circulating around the room, this will ensure that progress is being made, questions are being answered, and the teacher will get a chance to evaluate how well each student has learned the concept of high vs. low-pitched sounds. The teacher should be looking for correct placement of the various objects on the staff, not focusing on completeness of drawings or perfect cutting, etc. to ensure that students are reaching the true goals of the lesson.