Sunday, August 4, 2013

An Apple A Day: Enrichment


Today, I'm linking up with Leigh from the Applicious Teacher to discuss enrichment! Enrichment is always something I've struggled with in my classroom. I differentiate all my lessons, create leveled book clubs, and often have different levels of homework or assignments, but when it comes to true enrichment, I often can't find the time to work into the already jammed-packed-overflowing-don't-have-a-second-to-waste curriculum. It's tough! After racking my brain, my enrichment solution was two fold...

First, I was never a big proponent of "extra credit." My first few years students would come to me or I'd get a parent email a few days before the end of the trimester asking about extra credit. I had the too bad, too sad attitude. But then I started really thinking - what if there was a way to earn extra credit BEFORE the end of the grading period or BEFORE grades started to tank... Hmmmm. My awesome teaching partner Michelle had already been doing something similar in her classroom with math. So, I jumped on the bandwagon!

I created what I dubbed "Brain Busters." These were enrichment activities I could never get to in class but students could work on when they finished their daily work. I laminated manilla folders and put a cute brain on the front and walla! These could be done at home or school and if completed they would receive an extra credit coupon.  The coupon entitles students to 5% extra credit on a quiz or homework and 3% extra credit on a test. They attach the coupon at the time of the assignment - not after they get a "bad" grade. The enrichment doesn't dramatically change anyone's grade - so it's still what the kiddos have earned - but it does allow for help if students have been struggling on a homework or quiz. Plus, the "extra credit" gives that added enrichment! It also cuts back on parent emails about extra credit since it's always available. Students can complete as many activities as they want but I don't change out the Brain Buster pockets more than 3 times a trimester. So about every 4 weeks there are new activities for both language arts & social studies.

I've found great enrichment sources at Scholastic's Teacher Express and Mindware. They have excellent already created materials that are ready to go and challenging! I mix it up but I have crossword puzzles, analogies, word winks, word ladders, etc. Anything to get the juices flowing & bulk up those critical thinking skills!

Here are some favorite titles: {click the books to get a better description}


Right now, Scholastic Teacher Express is holding a birthday sale! 50% off your entire order with the code BIRTHDAY50! Some of these books are worth checking out!

Since, the "Brain Busters" aren't mandatory... The second part of my enrichment plan, was adding in some content rich videos. These usually align better with social studies than with language arts but I find what I can for both. I don't try to dumb down the content for the kids. I want the videos to be meaning, engaging, but still age appropriate. National Geographic and the History Channel both have tons of short videos plus longer videos for further enrichment! I use the video America Before Columbus from National Geographic every year. It's a 90 minute video that chronicles life of Native Americans in North America before and after Spanish explorers.It has tons of EXTRAS and a glimpse at life in Europe which we don't really get into in 5th grade.

Here's an "after" clip about horses bringing brought to the United States.


What does enrichment look like in your classroom?
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