I like to use problem solving journals with my kiddos. This is a journal that they use only for problem solving. I use a small 8 x 7 journal with blank pages that I order through our district print shop. I like this size because it gives kids a good amount of space to “show their work” for each problem. They do one problem per page and I find this helps them focus on the problem and to do their work in a neater, more organized way that is easy to read and understand. Once I have taught students how to use the journals, I have them solve one or two problems every morning as an entry task. I prefer journals over worksheets for several reasons: I don’t like the cost or the time it … [Read more...] about Problem Solving Journals Rock!
Well, its spring and you know what that means…baseball, daffodils, baby ducks, allergies and STANDARDIZED TESTING! Here in Washington State that means it’s time for the M.S.P. or Measurement of Student Progress. Third grade is the first year students get to experience the joys of partaking in high stakes testing. Yes this will go on your permanent record! We third grade teachers try to keep things casual as we prepare our kiddos so that no one (including us) freaks out. The kids do need a lot of prep because many of them do not even know how to fill in a circle on a multiple choice question. So we always have to teach test taking 101 this time of year. Every year I create a checklist … [Read more...] about Test Taking Strategies for Elementary Reading
Well here it is Spring Break already! Can you believe it? The year is flying by like always. Now is a good time to sit back and reflect on how things have worked this year. I created the Spelling Challenge packet this year because I needed an easy yet effective spelling curriculum for my class. This is the criteria I came up with in August: It can't require a lot of planning and instructional time. It has to provide a way to see where kids are in spelling in regards to the grade level expectations. It has to provide evidence. It has to be differentiated. It has to be well organized, easy to follow and something I could have volunteers work on with … [Read more...] about The Spelling Challenge for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Grades
I have always heard the terms reading strategy and reading skill used interchangeably. It wasn’t until I recently completed a course on teaching reading strategies to ELL students that the difference became clear to me. Here is what Neil Anderson author of ELL Reading: Teaching Strategies for K-12 says: “Strategies are the conscious actions students take to improve their reading performance. That "conscious" part is important, because that's what sets strategies apart from skills. Now, even though some textbooks call a "strategy" a "skill" and vice versa, they are distinct. A strategy is something that students have to deliberately work at doing, while a skill is a strategy that's become … [Read more...] about Reading Strategy or Reading Skill?
Recently, I came across a video about a “Whisper Bell” while on Pinterest. The teacher in the video made some really good points with this bell approach and I decided to give it a try. This year I have a very “social” group of third grade students. When I say, “It is time to clean up” they hear “It is time to party!” I have tried using visual signals, hand in the air, and waiting for everyone to notice but that can take too long. I have tried wind chimes but unless I shake them like a madman they ignore it. I got the idea of a bell from this video done by Mr. Smith at Teacher Tipsters. Mr. Smith is a very entertaining guy and he has many great videos for primary teachers. I highly recommend … [Read more...] about How To Get A Quiet Classroom For About $5.00
“Work smarter not harder” is my motto. I like to keep things simple. So, when I was looking around for Common Core checklists, I didn't find any that I thought would work for me. Some just copied the standards and sometimes the standards are hard to understand. Plus, I would have to flip through pages of these standards to find the one I was looking for. Since these checklists were just for the teacher to see, I thought I could shorten them up. There just had to be a quicker way to do this! I designed checklists where all the standards and students fit on one page. One page each for reading, writing, language, math and speaking & listening. Five pages altogether! Here is a sample of … [Read more...] about Simple Common Core Checklists
Are you ready for a new classroom theme? You might want to try going with superheroes. It can be lots of fun for the teacher and the kids! I even made up a set of superhero I can statements for my new classroom theme. I pasted the images into PowerPoint, then printed them up and cut them out to display the images on classroom walls and bulletin boards. Using fun clipart like this can really jazz up a classroom! I also started a Superhero board on Pinterest to collect ideas. Check out some of the ideas I have pinned here so far with my 3rd Grade Superheroes board. Now that I have superheroes on the brain, everywhere I go I am noticing superhero stuff. Last week in Costco they had … [Read more...] about Need A Change? How About A Superhero Classroom Theme?
If you are working in a small classroom like myself, you realize quickly that you have to get very creative to fit everything in. My anchor chart system in my portable was something that really never worked well for me. My school had supplied me with a nice looking anchor chart easel. It even had those convenient storage bins underneath. At that time I was grateful to get it. As it turns out, I discovered I really prefer to stand when writing and at 6'4" the typical classroom anchor chart easel was much too short for me. The easel also took up a significant amount of precious floor space in my small room. I was constantly having to move the easel around to create space since it was always … [Read more...] about An Easy, Inexpensive, Space Saving Anchor Chart System
"NASA Johnson Style" (Gangnam Style" Parody) Here is a great link at NASA for Educators: http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/index.html … [Read more...] about Fun Video To Get Kids Excited About Science and Math
Many states are still using the Common Core State Standards even though the federal government has said states can choose their own standards now. Things could always change again, but until then here are some ideas to consider when choosing a set of Learning Target posters: They should be language that kids, teachers, administrators and parents can understand. They should be visually interesting and easy to read from a distance. They should be well organized and easy to use. They should be made with common materials most teachers have on hand. Not ink hogs, keep color printing cost to a minimum. They should have the standard’s code number on the front … [Read more...] about Why You Should Get Yourself A Set Of Learning Targets