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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Daily Language Check #61-90

Here is the next installment of the Daily Language Checks! There are 30 passages that are engaging to the students and sure to grab their interest. Each Daily Language Check has a passage on an interesting topic followed by five questions--one for each cluster on the CST. This is a great way to provide the students with quick and easy practiceon the important skills tested on the CST in the Spring.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Name Tag

This is a great desk name tag. It is available in both full color as well as in black and white. The black and white one is fabulous for the students to color and take home to have as a handy reference. It can also be laminated and kept on the students' desk or in their work folders.

The name tag has the usual items:  alphabet, number line, place to write the student's name, number words, and color words. It also includes items often asked on standardized test:  fractions, solid figures and their names, and even and odd numbers.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Parts of Speech: Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives and Pronouns

Need help teaching the parts of speech--nouns, verbs, adjectives, and pronouns? Then this is the packet you need! There are a plethora of activities, worksheets, and games to help students learn to identify and use these four important parts of speech. There is also a 20 question packet. All questions are in standardized test format, and, of course, an answer key is provided!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Daily Language Check

Daily Language Check is a great way for the students to practice important skills for the CST (or any state test given in the Spring. Each page has an engaging passage on a topic that is sure to capture the students' interests. There are also five question (one for each cluster) about the topic. While this packet is geared to 2nd graders, it is also ideal for high-achieving first graders, third and fourth graders who need to review the skills or need extra support, and for home-schoolers, too!  Currently, there are two packets available--#1-30 and #31-60. Make sure to check out these fabulous packets! Below are some sample pages from both Daily Language Checks!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Token Economy

Using a token economy in your classroom is a great way to motivate students and shape classroom behavior. The token economy uses something to represent money. It could be "funny money", counters, plastic coins, etc. Each item has a value. Make a chart showing the different ways the students can earn money and the value associated with each task. Make sure to include "fines" the students have to pay--for having a messy desk, not returning homework on time, not following directions, etc. The students can spend the money on "paying for field trips" or use it at a classroom store. Many parents would not only love to run the store for you but also would be willing to donate items to the store. Have fun with a token economy!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Parent Conferences

Do you ever get tongue-tied at parent-teacher conferences? Not sure what to say, especially if the report isn't very good or afraid the parent might be angry? Here are some tips to make your parent-teacher conferences successful and less stressful!
1.  Be proactive, not reactive. This means that the parent-teacher conference should not be the time to spring surprises on the parents. If a student is not doing well, the parent should have been informed of this weeks before the conference. Regular progress reports should have been sent home letting the parent know that the student was struggling in certain areas; not returning work; or having behavioral issues. As a teacher, you should have been having regular contact with the parent via e-mail, phone calls, notes home, etc.
2.  Have your documentation ready. If a student has frequent absences or tardies, have the dates on hand. If a student is not returning homework or not completing work, have that documentation on hand. If work is poorly done, have samples of the work to show the parent.
3.  Have a plan. The plan might be to continue monitoring the students progress, to have a Student Success/Study Team meeting, to send home a daily report letting the parents know how the student is doing. (The daily report does not have to be overwhelming to fill out--the simpler the better!)
4.  Always point out the student's strengths or positive points--every student has some! The student might be polite, have great handwriting, positive attitude, willing to help in the classroom, enjoys cleaning the room, etc. Find something good to say about the student!
5.  Thank the parent for coming and follow through on the plan!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Teacher-Bashing by Parents on Social Media

Despite all of the media attention, people do not realize that what is posted on the web can be seen by everyone! What to do if a parent bashes you or a colleague? Ignore them! I know it's hard, but you don't want to get into a "verbal" argument with a parent on the web. It makes you, the teacher, look unprofessional and gives the parent more "ammunition" to bash you with.
Download and print off the parent's comments and put them in a file. Share your concerns and the comments with your principal. When meeting with the parent, for parent-teacher conferences for example, have the principal there to provide unspoken support for you. With the principal at the meeting, you might choose to address the parent's personal attacks on you or continue to ignore them. Do what you and your principal feel will be the most beneficial.
Parents forget teachers are human, but know that 99.99% of the parents appreciate what you do even if they don't come out and say it!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


One important issue that is missing in teacher education is DOCUMENTATION. In my classroom I keep a binder. There is a pocket folder for each student in the binder. I SAVE everything--every tardy slip, every nurse's pass, copies of every behavior note/letter I send home, copies of notes from parents regarding their child. It's an easy thing to set up and maintain. About once a week or so, I slip all of the paper I have collected and put them in the appropriate pocket. It's amazing--at the end of the year there are some students who have NOTHING in their pockets while other students' pockets are bulging. You never know when the information might come in handy--with an upset parent who says, "You never told me!" or a child who is abusing going to nurse's office. It only takes a minute to make a copy. (I use the copy feature on my classroom printer or write notes on NCR paper.) But those pieces of paper can serve to back you up when the time comes. 
In some cases, I hang on to paper work for specific children for a couple of years. Quite often when the child moves up to a new grade, the parents will tell the teacher, "My child has never had that problem before.". The teacher can then show them copies of my paperwork and stop the parents in their tracks. It also allows the teacher and parent to work together to address the issues and move on!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sharing with Teachers

I got tired of chasing my grade-level colleagues down or putting photocopies in their box where they might be overlooked. I finally put three baskets in our photocopying room. Each basket is clearly labeled with each last name. Then, when photocopying items of interest, I make a couple of extra and throw them in the baskets. The reverse is true also. When my colleagues have something for me, they put it in my basket. The phtocopying room is the perfect place for the baskets, because all three of us always go in there before school!

Taming the Paper Clutter

Like all teachers, the amount of papers to collect and grade and the amount of paper work to do can be overwhelming. The first step is to have a "system" that works for you. I use baskets with large labels. The labels include: Work (students' completed word), Copy (photocopying), Incomplete Work (for students to finish); File (students' corrected work), and File (teacher's important papers). The students' work basket is placed in the front of the classroom. The remaining baskets are on the back counter near my desk. If a parent drops in for a few minutes to help, they know to go to the File basket and file the students' completed work in each student's hanging file folder.
At the end of the day, I go through my baskets and take care of my paperwork.
Two tips:  One, don't get behind on the paperwork or it will become a mountain in a few days. Two, touch each paper once and do something with it!Don't keep handling the same piece of paper, note from the office or parent, or flyer---act on it, respond to it, file it, or toss it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting Organized for the School Year

To help get your school year off to a great and organized start, number every student item! It's easy to do! First make a class list. I like to put my list in alphabetical order by student's first name followed by last name.
Then assign each student a number.  For example:  1.  Alice; 2.  Ben; 3. Carlos
When setting up the students' desks, number everything--pencil boxes, folders, books, etc. An easy way to do this is print up a bunch of numbered labels. Stick the 1 labels on everything belonging to Alice, the 2 on everything belonging to Ben. etc. I use a sharpie to number the pencils (just below the eraser), scissors, and even their name tags. This makes it easy to return items found around the room!