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Dec 31, 2015

Happy New Year!! Time for a Teacher Giveaway!

Hi teacher friends! Who's ready for a 
NEW YEAR giveaway?!?

Let's celebrate 2016 in style! For all the hard work teachers do during the year, they deserve fabulous prizes

Enter to win a large, inspirational teacher tote bag! 

Have all your teacher inspiration for 2016 right on your school bag! It will help keep you inspired for the rest of the school year :)  ALSO WIN 960 Emoji stickers! These stickers are so cool and fun to use as motivators for students or even just to use with your fellow teachers! 

Enter the giveaway below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you have a wonderful new year with friends and family!

Nov 30, 2015



The CYBER SALE on TpT is already in full swing! Items up to 28% off with coupon code! Don't forget the coupon code "SMILE"!

Phew, what a day! I've been busy at my computer and  I just uploaded some fun winter activities for the classroom! Check them out while these epic deals are happening! 

Students design a creative lapbook all about Arctic animals! Cut & paste pages with fun facts about the Arctic Tundra! Students learn all about Arctic animal adaptations, climate changes, and more!

Students cut and paste flaps where they match Arctic animals with their cold weather adaptations. They also discover the purpose of these adaptations. 

Students love this holiday activity. Recommended for 1st through 5th grade! Also great for substitute teachers to use or for Fun Fridays! 

The units covered are Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Israel, Ancient India, Ancient China, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome. 

Happy Shopping!! :) 

Nov 6, 2015

Order In The Classroom: Behavior Management Strategies

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     Student behavior problems are the foe of almost every teacher, no matter the grade or subject. How do you discipline a student who doesn’t seem to care? They ignore you, don’t hand in their work, talk constantly, and you are left dealing with a kid whose parents may be either indifferent or just as incapable of controlling them at home as you are at school. I remember being in teachers college and asking my professor, “How do you deal with a student who simply has no interest in behaving himself or herself.” She was very unhelpful, saying things like call their parents (during class time?), contact admin (for every issue?) and ignore them (can be difficult if they are disrupting others as well). When I asked for clarification, the professor was stuck, possibly because she was a faculty member from a Faculty of Education and not a classroom teacher with recent experience on the front lines. So we come back to the question posed earlier: What do you do when a student in your class acts up and interferes with the learning of others? Before you can correct the behavioral problem, you need to take a good look at the nature of the transgressive behavior and its context. Is there something about the classroom environment that contributes to the problem? Many kids require structure. Quite often poor behavior can be the result of a disorganized or ever-changing environment. At the end of this chapter, I discuss the value of predictable routines in creating a stable classroom structure. Secondly you need to determine whether the transgressive behavior is a one-off (acute) occurrence or a reoccurring (chronic) problem. Dealing with the one-time cases Often poor behavior is a one-off thing. Students get off track, lose focus, and have a quick chat with their neighbor. These students often need just a small reminder to get back on track.

   Strategies: 1. Get closer. Move closer to the misbehaving student. You can use this strategy both when you are teaching and when the student is supposed to be working independently. This reduction of distance between you and the student may be a deliberate action, meant to be obvious, or a subtle one, where it appears you are simply moving around the room. Either way, your goal is to decrease the space between you and the offending party(ies). By decreasing this distance, you assert your presence and decrease the likelihood that the poor behavior will be repeated. 2. Use visual cues – give them the “teacher stare.” Proximity usually works, but sometimes students need an additional reminder. In addition to moving closer, make eye contact to let misbehaving students know, without saying a word, that you know what they are doing and are not going to let it continue.   For the occasional transgression, these methods often do the trick. However, there are the more troublesome cases in which one bad hat, or sometimes a small group of misbehaving students, are repeat offenders, disrupting learning for themselves and those around them. These repeat cases are chronic and demand stronger measures. Here’s how we deal with them.  

  Dealing with repeat offenders Each situation of chronic misconduct is unique and must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. That’s why it’s challenging. There is no single set of magic words to fix the problem, but there is a process of escalating steps that usually work in all but the most unruly cases, no matter the grade level or the subject you teach.   1. Determine what is causing the behavior in the first place. Talk to the individual(s) involved to try to find out if there is some underlying problem that needs to be addressed that is giving rise to the misconduct. Sometimes extrinsic factors such as family life, relationships, bullying, and so on can play a huge role in how your students behave in class. Maybe it’s a low blood sugar problem—the student is hungry because he wasn’t fed breakfast at home. Maybe she has no idea what is going on during the lesson itself and is acting out, or playing the joker, as a way to avoid embarrassment. Kids don’t want to feel stupid and so, if they don’t understand the lesson, they may choose to escape rather than struggle with concepts they find confusing. Bothering Maria in the next seat can be an escape in two ways. If your teacher is telling you off for bothering her, you won’t be expected to answer the question. Alternatively, if you aren’t following the lesson, which seems too hard, you will be bored and therefore, easily distracted by a more enticing activity (bothering Maria). Once you get a handle on the underlying issue, you can begin to formulate a plan for what to do or whom to speak to next. Often you can address the situation right here at this first step and won’t need to go further. Here are two cases of repeat offenders and what worked to turn their situations around. Reina - During my fact-finding talk with Reina, I found out that, for a variety of reasons, she never had a chance to eat breakfast before coming to school. I told her about a breakfast program we ran at our school and that she should check it out. After that day, her behavior was much improved in my class. Whether the improvement was due to the extra calories or to her appreciating that I had listened and offered help or both, the key thing was that Reina’s behavior significantly improved. Manuel - It turned out that Manuel, a grade 9 student, couldn’t read when he entered my class and therefore, he couldn’t follow written instructions. To cover up his stigmatizing reading gap, he said, he acted out so that I wouldn’t call upon him. Not wanting his friends to find out, he preferred to be thought bad than stupid. I introduced Manuel to our guidance councillors, who got him the extra help he needed. His behavior improved dramatically. Often the problem can be resolved by talking to the students involved. If not, you will need to move on to steps 2 and 3. 
  1. Consult those who are in the know.
Keep in mind that parents, your administration, and your fellow teachers are there to help. Use them. Have colleagues in your department taught the student in the past? What strategies did they use? Are the parents aware of the issue, and, if so, what strategies do they use? Most likely, the problem is an ongoing one that the parents have been dealing with for some time at school and at home. Unless the parents are among those who wilfully turn a blind eye and insist their child could do nothing wrong, they will support you with useful information or at-home consequences. How about your administration? Speak with them; most likely your repeat offender is known in the office. Guidance councillors are also an excellent source of information about strategies for specific students and also certain behavior patterns in general. From this consultation, which may involve one or more of these sources of advice, you can determine what strategies have been used before with what outcomes, possible escalations, and so on.  
  1. Once you’ve gathered your information, you can decide on a course of action.
Your action depends entirely on what you found out from steps 1 and 2. After you have found out all you can from the students themselves and from parents, colleagues, etc., you need to think carefully about what steps to take next. Rewards and positive reinforcement of appropriate behavior are always a first choice. But if you decide on some kind of punishment, follow these guidelines for ensuring that the punishment is fair and fits the crime. The punishment should be:
  • directly related to the misbehavior. For example, if someone pushes another student, don’t take away the offender’s iPod. Instead, speak to them about why they pushed and through discussion, have them come to the conclusion that pushing isn’t the answer. Together you can then come up with a way to remedy the situation.
  • proportionate with the severity of the offence, which is to say it should seem reasonable to a disinterested observer. If you’re in a physical education class and you have a student who each day, doesn’t put any effort into running the track as a warm-up, the punishment shouldn’t be to run 20 laps. Although this fulfils the requirements above (punishment should be related to the behavior), the punishment isn’t reasonable.
  • something within the capability of the student.
  • something from which the student can learn about the negative consequences of inappropriate behavior, whatever it may have been, so that the bad behavior is not repeated.
  Here’s a list of specific strategies.
  • Don’t succumb to frustration, take a deep breath and be calm. Model the behavior you want to see. Getting angry yourself only escalates the problem.
  • If things begin to escalate, take a break. This might mean a timeout for younger grades or a short walk through the school for older ones. What I don’t suggest you do, however, is kick the student out of your class for prolonged periods of time. It’s best not to have them sit outside the room or be sent to thePrincipal/Vice-Principal,if it can be avoided. Removing your student from class for prolonged periods comes at the expense of valuable learning time that can never be recovered.
  • You break it, you fix it. If a student has caused some harm in your class, be it emotional harm to another student, physical damage, etc., make that student take responsibility and repair the harm done.
  • Whatever you do, make sure you follow through with announced punishments and anything you may say about consequences. Never make empty threats.
  • When dealing with students who just don’t care about the consequences, handle them with calmness and dispassion. They are most likely just trying to get under your skin, don’t let them. Administer your pre-assigned punishment (although escalation may be needed for chronic offenders) and move on.
  • If you are dealing with a student who has mental health issues, I advise you to seek out professional assistance. They will have someone in your school who is specifically assigned to this student, you need to speak with them and learn as much as you can about what works and what doesn’t for this person as well as any specific strategies that have already been implemented.
  As long as you stick to the guidelines above, removing privileges that relate to the misconduct can be an excellent way to manage poor behavior.

  Case Study - Bothersome Kyle Suppose that in your classroom you provide your students with computer time when they complete their classroom work. Instead of completing his own work during work time, Kyle is bothering Josh and interfering with his work. What might you do? Compare the following two approaches.   Effective Teacher Response: You could take away Kyle’s computer time for the day. This response does four things: 1) it removes a privileged activity which Kyle enjoys; 2) it directly relates to the improper action; 3) it is a reasonable punishment based on the infraction; and 4) it shows Kyle what happens when he does something that disrupts other students’ learning.   Ineffective Teacher Response: In this same scenario, think about the likely outcome of this next approach. In this case, the teacher becomes annoyed and sends Kyle to the office. This teacher’s response gets rid of the immediate bothersome behavior, but it fails to satisfy the criteria for appropriate punishments. The consequence of being sent to the office has little relationship to the offence; the punishment doesn’t fit the crime, being disproportionately severe; and what Kyle learns is that poor behavior gets him sent away for discipline and removed from the learning environment.

   Have consistent routines As noted at the beginning of this chapter, many kids learn better in a predictable, structured environment. To create structure, you need a routine that is set up and agreed upon by all parties at the start of your time together. Routines will differ significantly, depending on what grade you teach. The key is that whatever you do, do it consistently. For everything to do with your class including getting started, finishing your day/lesson, taking up homework, practicing specific skills, etc., make a routine for it. For instance, in my science classroom, I have an opening routine, beginning each lesson with a short video (generally 2-3 minutes in length but no more than 6 minutes). I find this routine helpful because the process of coming into class and settling right into the video provides a cushion of time for transition into the lesson. If the kids are distracted at the start, after 30 seconds they are quiet and focussed. This focus then spills over to our post-video discussion. So what are these videos? Since I’m in science, I use a lot of stuff from ASAP science, a video producer, who does an excellent job bringing application to the classroom. You don’t need to spend hours finding the right video either. If it corresponds to your previous lesson or today’s lesson, that’s a bonus. But as long as long as the video is timely and has something to do with your subject, that’s all you need. Here’s the link to a page I’ve composed of my favourite videos - In conclusion The final thing I’ll say about problems with classroom behavior management is this: don’t take them personally and don’t take them home with you. Unless you are letting your kids run all over you, you are probably not the cause. With many students, problems are longstanding and have their roots in any number of outside factors. Use the strategies outlined above, but don’t let behavior problems get to you.

 The Author Devon Ferguson has taught for many years in the United States, Canada and Australia. He has just recently released an eBook - Teach Well and Maintain Your Sanity. If you are interested in learning more about it, please CLICK HERE. eBook 1

Oct 30, 2015


Hi teacher friends,
In celebration of Halloween, my entire is store is on sale now until after the 31st! This includes non-Halloween related products! :)

If you need a SPOOK-tacular project for fun Friday, please check out A Batty Craftivity, Haunted House Craftivity, and Halloween Activity Pack!

Have a happy Halloween weekend and be sure to stop by!

Oct 27, 2015

Time Saving Strategies for Teachers

time saving strategies for teachers, time savers, time saving tips for teachers, teacher time savers, time saving strategies for the classroom

Beat the Clock!
Strategies to Help You Be More Effective with Your Time

One of the biggest complaints of educators is that they just don’t have enough time. And, with Common Core and other standards being implemented and adjusted into your plans; that complaint is certainly a reality. But the good news is that you don’t have to struggle to beat the clock. Read on to learn about some time saving tips that allows you to maximize your instruction and complete your lessons in a timely manner.

1. Skip the Small Stuff
Many educators get hung up on the little stuff. A lot of time gets wasted taking whole group bathroom breaks or sharpening pencils, which interrupts your lesson. Don’t lose any time teaching! When your class is out at the bathroom, you can bring flash cards out to work with the students who are standing in the finished line. You can also set a timer during clean-up or transition times with the goal to beat the clock. If the class is finished before the timer goes off, they can get a sticker on an incentive chart, or work toward a large prize at the end of each week. You can also have a pencil bin filled with sharpened pencils. Take on a “Take a pencil, leave a pencil” motto. This way, there will be no interruptions during your teaching and students can silently get up and get a pencil at any point.

2. Don’t Go Overboard with Planning
Many teachers feel the need to over plan. They may set themselves up to fail because they simply have too much to do in a designated time frame. Start smaller next time. Focus on one main goal you wish to accomplish each lesson. Then, you can have supplemental materials that serve as a review to add into your lesson when you complete your day’s objective. Reviews can be skill games, centers, and even worksheets that you have prepared in advanced. While it may take more planning and preparation on your end, you will not feel as if you are rushing to get everything squeezed into your lesson.

3. Utilize Small Group Instruction
One of the best things you can do is teach a new strategy to a small group, while the rest of the class completes an independent review activity. You are able to complete twice as much work in the same amount of time and you can get a better sense of who is mastering skills taught and who needs more intervention. Once you get the ball rolling on the school year and several skills have been taught, split the class in half. One half of the class will work with you on something new for a predetermined amount of time. You can do this on a carpeted space in your room (like your reading corner) and the rest of the students can work at their seats. Be sure to take a few minutes to thoroughly go over the directions of the independent task so students will not be interrupting your direction instruction. Be patient-it can take a few tries to really master this time saving technique, but you are sure to see an improvement in how much you teach and how time effective the teaching strategy is.

4. Keep Everything ORGANIZED!
One of the biggest time wasters is searching through stacks and stacks of paper. Keep organized with digital files on your computer –also keeping your digital files organized too! Don’t be the teacher with countless desktop icons and 20 browser tabs running at the same time. Take care of your computer or it will slow you down later with lagging and freezing!! Decide on how you want to organize your file folders - Have a file folder for every subject or unit of study. Have file folders organized within your file folder.
Ex: Unit 1 >>>> Week 1, Week 2, Week 3

Tired of rushing and stressing? Stop! Try these tips today to improve the way you teach and the way that your students learn!

Oct 26, 2015

Teacher Collaboration Strategies

Strategies for Teacher Collaboration

Are you comfortable with trying new ideas in your classroom and embracing your team members teaching strategies?

Sometimes my teaching style and philosophy will differ with my team.
 As a young educator, I struggled to maintain my autonomy. My idea of collaboration was to share and listen (and then without realizing it) going back to the classroom and doing things my own way. When you are new, it’s difficult to collaborate; you’re just trying to keep your head above water!
As I mature in the profession, I have grown to realize that my way is not the only way, and that without collaboration and integration of EVERYONE’S skills, I am actually short-changing my students. 

So how do we collaborate, tap into everyone’s strengths, and still keep a sense of autonomy?
1.  Learn to listen: 
If you realize that you’re talking the most in the group, pause and take time to listen to what your colleagues are saying.  You already know what your own plans are so take the time to listen to someone else’s idea.

2.  Show examples:
If you are full of creative ideas, bring samples of your lessons with you.  Don’t leave your team guessing as to the specifics of your plan.

3.  Embrace your strengths:
Find your strengths and play to them.  If your skills include working with technology, then incorporate technology into the lessons you share.  If you are creative with worksheets and written activities, then embrace that angle too! 

4.  Acknowledge your weaknesses:
Know where you need help and be willing to ask.  No one has mastered every aspect of teaching!  We are human and we can depend on each other and lean on each other to help our students be successful.

5.  Tackle one project at a time:
If you are new to collaboration then start small.  You do not have to plan the whole year together on the first day.  Start with one project that your grade level or department agrees to do together; and stick to the plan!  You may feel outside of your comfort zone the first time, but you may soon look forward to collaboration.

6.  Even though you may try to resist it at all costs, team up with the person that is LEAST like you:
Find the strength in your differences.  Go outside your comfort zone and see what benefits may come from teaching a new way. Trust me, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll accomplish when you step a little out of your comfort zone.

7.  Compare data and be data driven:
If your colleague’s class is having an easier time understanding a difficult standard, ask them how they taught that standard.  Then try to embrace the new way and go forward. 

8.  Put your pride aside:
Sometimes it’s tough to admit you need help or to realize that your way may not be the most productive or accurate.  We are driven, independent thinkers who love to see our positive impact on students.  In order for true collaboration we must be willing to put some of our ideas aside and pull together for the success of our students.
The expectation for collaboration in education will never disappear.  Gone are the days of closing your door and doing things your way without anyone questioning your methods. Thank goodness for that!!  We can also say gone are the days of struggling to come up with new ideas or a creative ways of teaching a difficult concept.  EMBRACE collaboration and watch your students succeed in ways you never thought possible!

“No matter how many years we have been teaching, we should feel a little bit like a rookie EVERY year by trying something new and not being afraid to fail.” – Heidi Pauer

Oct 18, 2015

Banish Bullying in the Classroom

Banish Bullying!
How Teachers Can Make a Difference

Create a safe environment for your students and create awareness of school bullying. Bullying has become increasingly prevalent due to the increase of technology and the use of social media. As a teacher, it is important to recognize what bullying looks like in the classroom, how to handle it, and end it.
 Because October is National Bullying Prevention Month; read on to learn about how to banish bullying by some tips and tricks you can try today in your classroom.

1. Promote Positive Behavior - Be a Role Model
Bullying feeds off of negativity. When you have a positive classroom environment, you are less likely to encourage or encounter put downs. Rather than focus on negative behavior, promote the positive. Use lots of verbal praise, send happy notes home, and even establish a positive reward system for students. You can issue coupons to students who act selflessly, compassionately, respectfully, and responsibly. Students can trade them in for prizes, enter them in a weekly raffle, or even use them to purchase positive incentives that you offer (Lunch in the Classroom with a Friend, Line leader for a week, Teacher’s Assistant for a Day, etc.).

2. Establish Examples of Bullying
Many children can recognize when bullying occurs, but many don’t realize they are sometimes indirectly a part of it and the overall problem. Conduct an activity in your classroom called, “Stand up to Bullies.” Go through practice scenarios with the class. If they think bullying is occurring, they should stand up and say, “Stand up to Bullies.” Students often don’t realize that even though they are not doing the bullying themselves; it is possible to still be a bully. Explain that laughing at what the bully is doing or passing on a rumor is adding to the problem and is considered being a bully. They also don’t realize that not reporting bullying situations is irresponsible. So have an honest and open discussion after each scenario you present to the class. Students will learn that all scenarios you are presenting to them are examples of bullying and they should be standing for each one and stating, “Stand up to Bullies.” You can then spend time talking about how to report bullying, adults students can talk to if they are being bullied, and consequences for being a bully.

3. Host a Getting to Know You Lunch
After observing students interacting with one another in your class, pair up two students who have difficulty working together in group settings. Eat lunch with them in the classroom. Guide them to answer questions about themselves so they can get to know each other’s likes, background, and interests. The pair may be surprised to learn that they have more in common than they think. Or they will learn that they can respect each other and their differences because they both have feelings and are in class together.

As a teacher, it is your responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of all students. These simple tips and activities will ensure student acceptance and will help promote compassion for all. 

Students will learn that bullying can stop with them and that everyone deserves the right to an education free from those who put others down!

Here are "Kindness in the Classroom" Task Cards! This resource is designed to promote kindness and awareness to help prevent all forms of bullying in the classroom. This resource includes 20 free task cards and a jar label. Place the task cards inside the jar and display it somewhere in your classroom where student can easily access. Encourage your students to read the task cards when they have free time or when a misbehavior occurs. 

Oct 16, 2015

The Overwhelmed Teacher - When It's Time To Slow Down

New Teacher advice

     Teaching today includes a booming internet business filled with DIY projects and creative ideas for every topic and season of the year.  As you walk down the school hallways, you see these designs coming to life in classrooms across the world. Why then, with all the creative and wonderful projects at our fingertips, do we have a higher burnout and teacher attrition rate than ever?  
     So how do we know when enough is enough?  How do we know when it’s ok to be an effective teacher and not a designer or architect? 

Here is a list of top 10 ways you know you are neglecting yourself in pursuit of teacher perfection.

1.  The custodial staff leaves school before you do.

2.  Your husband invites you out on a date night and you show him five stacks of papers to be graded by midnight. Can he help, please?

3.  Over Thanksgiving break, you finish the turkey and start planning the Christmas pageant costumes and music for your grade level. 

4.  You don’t know your own children’s teachers' names.

5.  You use a separate Pinterest account to create retirement boards, filled with dream vacation photos, cruises, and luxury homes.

6.  The last family night out was during the summer break.

7.  Even with highly effective lesson plans, you are still grouchy and on edge.

8.  There isn’t an inch of your room without inspirational quotes or cute educational posters.

9.  You go through the list of your students’ names when trying to call your own kids.

10. You have Pinterest boards for every day of the school year, even National Tortilla Chip Day (that is a real holiday). 

Yes, the standards are higher and yes, the push to be creative, fun and engaging is growing, but what we cannot forget, under any circumstance, is that we are teachers to teach kids, not to have the cutest classroom. Would it really be the end of the world if your classroom does not look like it came out of Education Weekly’s top 5 decorated classrooms?  No matter what, there is one constant in education.  Students will come, we will teach, students will leave and what they need and desperately want to take with them is not the latest fad, but rather a solid education they can use and a loving mentor with whom they can stay in touch.

So you figured out that you might be overdoing it.  Now what? 

new teacher help

Take care of yourself teachers!!! Here’s how:

  Set a time you will leave school every day and stick to it with only a few exceptions.

  Work smarter not harder; facilitate your students to work in groups and self-assess.

  Not every paper that comes across your desk HAS to be graded.

  Have the students create the cute stuff AS LONG as it produces valuable learning.

  Set time aside for family and know deep in your heart it is ok to say no to school.

  Exercise, laugh, and spend time with friends outside of work.

  Let your spouse, family member, or friend be your support system and offer you a break once in a while. 

The bottom line is that the burnout we are suffering as teachers can often be a self-imposed burnout.  We must learn to prioritize for our own sanity and health.  A stressed teacher is not able to teach at his/her best! We should try to accept that we cannot always be that elusive picture of perfection, that all teachers have stressful times in their careers. There is no perfect teacher nor perfectly decorated classroom. Let's celebrate our own uniqueness and teaching gifts. Don't be your own worst critic, by pushing yourself to your own version of perfection. Let's relax and enjoy the wonderful journey that we have chosen as teachers! 

teaching ideas and resources

Let’s work together to create a new perfect teacher image! A teacher who cares about her/himself so they can care for others: a teacher who shows students how to embrace their passion and how to learn using real world situations.  Most importantly, we must be teachers who understand that education takes pacing so we can be in the classroom for the generations to come.        

Which top signs do you relate to the most? What strategies do you use when you face burnout? 

Sep 27, 2015

1,000 Followers - BIG SALE, Giveaways, & More!

Teacher friends,
I'm thrilled to say I've reached a big personal milestone on Teachers pay Teachers! I'm so grateful for everyone who has supported my store and helped make this dream a reality!

To celebrate, I want to throw a big sale for the next two days and throw a couple giveaways!

Let's get this party started! ;)

Giveaway #1 - $25 Gift Card on TpT! 

Giveaway #2 - Science Trading Card BUNDLE! 

Giveaway #3 - Classroom Decor BUNDLE!
7 Classroom Decor themes in a bundle so you never have to worry about decorating your classroom AGAIN! 

My store will also be ON SALE for the next two days!! 

Sep 23, 2015

Best Practices for Conducting Centers!

Hello everyone!
My name is Stacey Lynch and I’ve been teaching for ten years now.  For several years I was good about meeting with my reading groups, but not so good with center rotations.

Then I entered the “Pinterest and TpT” world and my teaching life completely changed! 

I was able to view what other wonderful educators were doing for their center rotations.  Taking bits and pieces from what I read, I put together a well-run and successful reading rotation schedule for my first graders! 

Center 1: Meet with me
Center 2: Seat work
Center 3: Fun center
Center 4: Meet with co-teacher
Center 5: Journal writing

Let’s break this down!

Center 1:  Meet with me
We do a number of activities when they meet with me.  We read books on their level of course, but the other activities depend on the needs of the particular group.  Sometimes we’ll do regular reading / writing activities, a Science or Social Studies activity, phonics or sight word activities, some of their unfinished work, etc...  I’ll even teach them some of the center games they will have access to.

It took me some time to remember that it’s okay if I don’t accomplish everything I wanted to with my groups that day.  There is always the next day! I’d rather take my time teaching / helping them with the concept so they understand it instead of rushing through and have them not understand.  There are still times I have to remind myself of this.

Center 2: Seat Work:
Generally, this is reserved for chunk work and sight word work.  There are occasions where they will also start / finish assignments related to what they did when they met with me.

Center 3: Fun Center:
Fun center changes every day! 

Mondays: TPT center and / or computer center – I have found incredibly wonderful language arts related centers on TPT!  I use MANY of them for this center - games related to sight words, contractions, compound words, forming sentences, and much, much more! 

Sometimes I will have computer center.  The problem is I only have one student computer.  In the past I’ve had the students use that computer, my school tablet, and a laptop from the media center for this rotation.  They love it!

Tuesdays: Listening center –Listening centers should be utilized more, especially in the younger grades.  Not only is it important for students to be read to, they really enjoy it!

My very first Donors Choose project was to request books on cd for my listening center.  I made sure to get a variety of books – classic favorites, seasonal, and biographies. I am so grateful that this was funded!  

My students look forward to listening to and following along with the stories.  After listening to the story, they complete a short assignment, usually writing about the story elements, writing their favorite part, or listing some facts from the book.

Wednesdays: Puzzle center – I spent three summers as part of an organization that tutors upcoming third graders who are struggling with reading.  There were several parts to their day.  (Half day.)  One of those parts was puzzle center.  My boss talked about how important puzzles are since it helps with both visual and organizational skills, along with developing hand-eye coordination.  She always taught students how to separate the pieces – outside pieces vs inside pieces.  She wanted the students to put together the border first, and then focus on the inside.

I have carried this with me into my own classroom.  My students LOVE putting the puzzles together!  As an added bonus, they learn how to COLLABORATE!

Thursdays:  Same as Monday.

Fridays: Art center – Kids need time to be kids!  They need time to be creative! They do what they want to do *as long as they are on task and they are safe!*  I have a bin full of paper that students can use for art center.  They can draw, cut, glue, fold, color, etc…They bring their supplies over and have a BLAST!  Every once in a while, I will put out a template for them to work on, but for the most part, it’s a free for all!

Center 4: Meet with my co-teacher:
I am incredibly lucky to have an administration that believes in the power of co-teaching.  The ESOL teachers, Academic Support Specialists, Reading Specialist, and many of the paraeducators, plug into our classroom for an hour or two each day. 

Depending on who my co-teacher is, I’ve had them do different things when they meet with their groups.  I’ve given some a list of indicators we cover each week / marking period and they use that to guide their instruction.  My co-teacher last year was an awesome science geek and therefore mainly focused on science.  This year, my co-teacher will be working on sight words, blends, reading comprehension, and putting words together.

Center 5:  Journal writing:
My students write every day.  I start off the year with them copying words into their journals:  color words, number words, seasonal words, etc…When printing out their lists, I use the font that has the lines on it so the students can see where their letters should go.  For my “fast finishers,” I have them illustrate those words.

After a few weeks of writing those words, I’ll give them some sentence starters.  “My favorite color is….. I like it because…….”  I include a word bank for them and pictures for the words when possible.

Following that is a general topic.  Write about what you did over the weekend.  OR Imagine we could go on a field trip anywhere.  Where would you want to go?  What would you want to do?  Why would you want to go there?  I try to have a word bank when possible.

For each level of “journaling,” I have reminders:
1.  Start your sentence with a capital letter.
2.  End your sentence with a period.
3.  Leave a finger space in between your words.
4.  You must have at least 5 sentences.  ** (This one changes again, depending on the topic and what my writers are capable of.*)

I’ve been known to throw in other reminders and I always go over the reminders with them before we start our rotations.

Some people ask me why I have journal writing as my last center.  It’s not really my last center, it’s just the last center they go to before meeting with me. :-)  When it’s time to switch, they bring their journal with them to my table and we take a few minutes to go over their writing. 

What about reading center?   
While reading center is not one of my regular rotations, I use it when 1) My co-teacher might have been pulled for the morning.   2) I’m giving them a break from writing center.  3) I will use this in lieu of one of the *fun centers.*

That’s it!  My co-teacher and I meet with four groups every day.  I will start the next day with the group I didn’t get to.  Rotating centers every 20 minutes allows me to get through four centers each morning.  Between rotations two and three is a brain break...usually a Just Dance Kids video.  My students are able to transition with ease and focus with this setup.

Thank you Suzy at the StudentSavvy Blog for having me as a guest blogger!!

About me:

I’ve been teaching in Maryland for 10 years.  I taught 2nd and 3rd before moving down to 1st, where I’ve been for 6 years!  I have a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology, am webmaster for my school’s website, and teach technology classes for my county. When I’m not teaching, you’ll find me singing, helping out with my husband’s acapella chorus, pinning away on Pinterest, or updating my blog.  I have one large, loveable, fur baby!

Make sure to check out my blog!

Sep 20, 2015

Speech and Language Strategies

Today's guest blogger is Miss Speechie from Speech Time Fun.

She is a licensed speech-language pathologist working in an elementary school.  She is here to share some strategies for classroom teachers to use in their classrooms to promote communication (for ALL students, not just those receiving speech).

"Communication?  Why do my students need that in school?"  Well, communication is involved in a lot of factors of the school day.  Students need to listen, express answers, write responses, and interact with peers and teachers.

Tip 1:

What is a multimodal approach?  Students should learn using most if not all of these methods:

  • Written: have them practice writing new vocabulary words in sentences.
  • Oral: have them say out loud new concepts.  Have them discuss with their peers in groups.
  • Visual: Use graphs, pictures, sentence strips, and any way to make learning visual (not just notes on a Smart Board.)
  • Tactile: Students should practice touching it.  Tap out syllables, write vocabulary/spelling words using rice or clay.  Tap out math concepts.
Why is this important?  Every student learns differently and can benefit from learning in a variety of ways.

Tip 2:

Why do students need to be their own advocate?  Students need to learn it is OK to ask for help.  It is OK to need more time.  It is OK to not understand right away.  Encourage students to speak up!  They should not be in trouble or afraid to ask for help.  It is great for them to recognize when they do not understand.  Set up a routine in your classrooms such as students can ask for help once directions are completed.

Tip 3:

What are carrier phrases?  They are the cues to how the response should begin.  For example, if you are working on main idea and the question asks "What was the story mainly about?"  You can help your students get started with responded with "The main idea is...." or "The story is mainly about..."  Some students struggle with retrieval or may be unsure how to word their response.  This way they can get started and will help retrieve that response.

Miss Speechie is a licensed speech-language pathologist from NY and works in an elementary school.  She is the author of the blog Speech Time Fun.  She has a store on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Follow her to learn more on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.


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