Showing posts from February, 2014

Boost Morale With a Treat!

It's a bit of an epidemic, but low staff morale is spreading across many schools and districts.  When I was asked who I wanted to send a card to, I immediately thought of the teachers I work with!  I went back and forth for a bit, and I had a revelation - let's use the art from their kiddos!  As anyone who has worked with kids before knows, the things we treasure from our students are creative and come from their heart.  I used the online service  to create these cards... I let the kiddos in on my plan - we were each going to decorate a small slip of construction paper, and I would piece them together to share in a card with their teachers.  Look how amazing their art turned out! Next step - scan the pics.  (OK - really, I was in a hurry.  I took the pics with my phone and uploaded the pics to ... Then I started browsing.  {{swoon}}  This was tricky, since I had a *ton* of cards on my "favorites" list.  Here's a peek... P

Great Idea - Use ELA Notebooks to Differentiate in the Classroom

The range of strengths and weaknesses in a typical classroom can be quite difficult.  If you aren't careful, your students will generate so much paper (to grade and file!) that you won't be able to manage it.  Here's my suggestion:  Have an ELA Notebook for each child.  Nothing fancy - I'm currently using "fast-teacher-made-special" notebooks, consisting of a long piece of bright construction paper folded in half and stapled as the cover for 20-ish pieces of notebook paper.  When I taught 2nd grade, we used handwriting paper for the first quarter as a support/transition from 1st grade, and this was a fast way to help keep track of the loose papers for each subject. Credits: Mr. Magician , KG Fonts , Hello Fonts I know... it's really not going to hold a lot, so I encourage the kiddos to draw a line, date the entry, and then do their work, which can run over (neatly) to the page after that.  Typically, these journals last everyone for a month or so, and

Vocab Development, and Why I Don't Keep Score

Wowza!  I'm exhausted.  Since we had so many snow days recently, we have make up days... on Saturdays!  (I know - it sounds really strange, but I'm a teacher in a year round school.  For more info on this odd schedule, check out this post .)  Since I wasn't sure what kind of attendance we would have at our first Saturday make up day, I needed to plan an engaging lesson that worked on a core concept.  I chose Vocabulary Development, since this is crucial to future scholastic success for my ELLs and struggling readers alike. I've always been vocal about the use of games for word work.  They promote critical thinking skills, an understanding of group dynamics, and vocabulary development.  Games can also promote competition, but I try to downplay that aspect.  I. Don't. Keep. Score.  When my goal is vocabulary development, fluency, comprehension, or an understanding of how words work, I think that the competitive aspect undermines my intentions.  I see that look of de

Bright Ideas - Use Pinterest for Transition Time

Today, I’d like to share how I use Pinterest for transition time… We all know that teachers are consistently short on time, so this hop is perfect for the busy teacher - chock full of effective, short, and focused Bright Ideas! In my classrooms, I tend to "hold tight" to each moment, squeezing in as much content as I can throughout the day.  When I was in a classroom with an LCD Projector, I used interesting pins from my Pinterest boards to help us refocus on our task.  My students always have a writing notebook, and it is a handy way to have students do a "quick write" to transition back from recess/lunch/random fire drill/etc.  I project the picture, they get 30 seconds to (quietly) discuss the picture with a partner, then they have a quick write, which takes about 2-4 minutes.  Grammar and spelling are not a priority during a quick write, and each quick write does not need to be shared.  It just helps ease the transition back into the classroom.  Add a b