Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cooperative Learning Tips


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Have you ever heard a comment similar to this in the work room or teachers' lounge?

"My principal wants me to differentiate.  Why doesn't he/she differentiate, too?"

This conversation is usually referring to a change the administration is making based on something that is happening with a small percentage of the staff.  If you are not part of the small percentage, you might feel resentful towards the small percentage, and irritated that your administrator didn't address the issue where it needed addressed - with the small group.

Reflection is a part of growing as a professional.  I often mull over conversations like this and try to apply them to my job as a teacher so that I can continue to improve.  Is there some part of my job that affects a small group of students that I apply to the entire group?  If so, is this really fair or in their best interest?  Or reverse that, is there something that I do that the fits best for the majority of my students but isn't the best fit for the small percentage of my students?  How can I differentiate more so that my students needs are better met?


After one of these conversations about lack of differentiation on the management's part, which seems to be a frequent concern, I went back to my class and noticed that I had a cooperative group activity planned for later that day.  So, I decided to try something new.  I told my students that I was going to give them choices today when it came to our cooperative group lesson.  I had my students get out a scratch piece of paper and write:
  1. Do you prefer to work alone or with a group? Answer yes or not
  2. If you like to work in groups, do you prefer groups of 2 or 3?  
  3. If you prefer to work in groups, list the names of 3 classmates that you would like to have in your group.  I cannot guarantee these will be your partner but I will try to match up groups as best as a I can.
Just like you have fellow colleagues who prefer to plan lessons and do his/her own thing, it worked the same way with my students.  I had a small number who wanted to work alone.  It wasn't that other students rejected these students.  This is a simple matter of preference.  Other students preferred working with a partner rather than a small group.  When I matched my groups to my students' preferences, I had fewer discipline problems and more engaged students.  

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Do not always put your high ability students with your struggling students.  It is not fair to the high ability students to be put in the role of tutor.  They need to be paired with other students of similar ability so they can work like little spark plugs with each other.  You will get complaints for their parents if you do it too often.


There are benefits for all of your students when you incorporate cooperative learning into your lessons.  The best way I found to save time, respect our differences, and have cooperative groups is to have a mixture of groups that you use for different lessons.  

You can make cooperative groups by subject or generic groups ahead of time so students can quickly get with their group or partner when it time for a cooperative activities.   Sometimes your students that prefer to work alone will be allowed to work alone.  Other times, these students will be in a group.



So, one group may be formed by students' preference from the buddy list (see below), another group may be formed by who you think would work best together, another group might be formed by academic level (low-middle ability) and (middle-high ability).  




Click HERE to download this freebie.

Looking for more tips?  Check out my Reading Pinterest board.  Click on the picture below.


Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Be sure to hop over to her blog!




Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

Each week we will choose one person who shared a tip on our blog who will get a $10 shopping trip.  We will announce the winner on the following Tuesday's post.  

Do you have a cooperative learning idea to share?  Be sure to include your email so I can contact you if you're the winner of the $10 shopping trip. You must leave your email address in order to win.

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.





Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bulletin Board - Hallway Decoration + Portfolio: All in One!


Do you have cork strips in the hallway outside your classroom?  

(click)


These were always a challenge to me because I couldn’t decorate them like a traditional bulletin board with all the background, border, and other things that add color to hallway.  I finally figured out a way to add colorshow my students’ work, and it ended up having some unexpected fringe benefits.


Then I figured out a system where every student had their own assigned spot with an attached ziploc bag.  In the beginning, I had my students put the same assignment in the bag and I made a sign telling about the assignment.

Before we worked on assignments that would be displayed in the hallway, I reminded my students that this should be their best quality work because other people at our school would see their work.  Before long, some of my students were asking if they could add this assignment or that assignment to bag in the hallway because it was their best quality work.

This led into a discussion about careers that have portfolios.  So, then we began calling our bags in the hallway our portfolios.  One thing led to another and from that came more unexpected benefits, all because I was having trouble trying to figure out how to decorate my hallway when I didn't have a traditional bulletin board.

I just finished a packet that has teacher tips, a parent note asking for help, portfolio printables, and other helpful printables to make your own Snapshot of our Work bulletin board - Hallway decor set.  Some of the pages are editable in Powerpoint.  







Click HERE if you'd like to read more about this.








Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sensory Diet: Behavior Tip with Movement


You Oughta Know . . . .

Have you heard of a sensory diet?  If you have wigglers this year, you will want to read up on this topic.  Just like some of us need more protein to feel our optimum best, there are some students who need more sensory input.  For those students, a sensory diet can help them perform and behave better in class.  

Different students needs different types of sensory input.  For some students, they need more movement.  Think about the last long, dry, incredibly boring professional development that you attended.  Do you remember how you lost interest?  You began to look around, looked at your watch, suddenly you felt the need to use the restroom when normally you could have waited.  Lack of stimulation and engagement can make you feel these things.  

A child who needs more sensory input can feel those things in the classroom.  No, I'm not saying your teaching style is dry or boring.  I'm saying that these students feel like you did during that professional development because of their sensory needs.  You could be Robin Williams dancing on the desks in Dead Poets Society and it wouldn't be enough if these students sensory needs aren't being met.  It's not you, it is a sensory issue.

There are a variety of sensory needs.  Some need pressure, others need quiet, but the one that is probably the most noticeable is the student that needs to move.  As an adult, he or she will probably have a job that lends itself to movement, but as a kid sitting in a classroom, it can be quite a challenge.  

As a student, the lack of movement can be a hindrance.  This is where you can help. You can make this student your errands runner.  If you don't have many errands, set up a system with another teacher, librarian, secretary, or other school employee ahead of time.  Have a special envelope so when the other employee sees it, the employees knows that the student is visiting him or her to help with the student's sensory need rather than to running a legitimate errand for you.  It will save both of you time.  It gets the student up and moving.  You might even make a list of possible errands to use such as return library books.  Even if it is just one book that you read to your circle time that day, it is enough to get the student up and moving.


Another ideas you can try is something that is tangible.  Get a pillbox.  I like this one because it divides your day into 3 parts.  Pillboxes come in a variety of sizes.  You can relabel them to fit how many times a day you want to use this.

Set the pillbox and a small container of small items such as beads, beans, skittles if you're allowed to use candy, other small tokens on your desk or an area near your desk.  When you see your sensory student following the rules during the morning block, tap him or her on the shoulder or some other prearranged signal that is silent, and he or she will quietly go take one of the small tokens out of the small container and put it in the pillbox in the right time slot of the pillbox.  Then the student will go sit down.  You have reinforced without saying a word, positive behavior and you helped the student's sensory diet by allowing him or her to get up and move.  

At the end of the day, have your student record the number of tokens he or she earned in each time period on the recording sheet.  Your students will take it home to mom and dad for more positive reinforcement.


The recording sheet is a great documentation tool for conferences and RTI.

Click HERE to download this free recording sheet.


Looking for more information to help your sensory students?  Click on the links below:






I am linking up with Jasmine @ Buzzing with Mrs. McClain's You Oughta Know Blog Hop. Be sure to visit these other teachers to find more great ideas!
 
An InLinkz Link-up


Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Morning Routine Tips


Through the years, my morning routine is one of those things that evolved.  I found that the more structured I made it; the better my entire day seemed to go.  Through my years of teaching kindergarten, 1st, and 3rd grade, I was surprisingly able to keep a somewhat similar routine even though the ages of the students were different.  All children respond positively to structure.


Each school I have worked at has been a little different as far as where students wait in the morning before school.  It worked best when a school had one place to collect my class so I could line them up before I brought them to the classroom.  This worked so much better than the trickle in from three or four different places method.  But, as a teacher, you don't always have control over this so you work with what you have to.

  • Pick up class from our meeting spot.  Students are wearing their backpack and carrying their lunch if they brought one from home.  When arrive at the classroom, have the laundry basket that holds lunch boxes and lunch sacks outside the classroom door.  Students that brought a lunch from home, drop their lunch in the laundry basket. This saves space in their cubbies plus the inevitable spills on their work.
  • Walk to their table or desk and unpack backpack.  I love to use a binder system that you have probably seen different versions of floating around cyberspace.  I first found out about it here.  I have used this with all 3 grade levels that I taught and absolutely thought it was the best thing since sliced bread.  It's another one of those V-8 moments for me.  Why didn't someone show me this when I began teaching?  I think we sometimes assume that organizational skills are something that that children learn by observations.  But, look at how many of your colleagues, people with a minimum of a four year college degree, come to faculty meetings without paper and pencil to take notes, can't remember to turn in paperwork on time, are tardy to meetings, and their room (not just at the end of the day) is so messy you wonder how they find anything? Organizational skills or executive functioning skills are not as intuitive as many people might assume.  People who naturally have these skills assume everyone sees the world in color code and alphabetical systematic way that they do.  This is wrong on so many levels.  Just like some people can play music by ear, some are natural athletes, others are natural leaders, there are some people who are gifted organizers and others who are not.  For those who are not naturally organized, the binder system is a great way to enforce those skills each day because structured, daily, and everything has an assigned place.  Students quickly learn the routine.  When my students came in, they unpacked their backpack which included getting out their binder.  I called the binder different names depending on my theme that year.  Students got out the binder, but didn't open it yet.  That was something that was teacher directed later.
    • Unpack backpack includes getting a new book for their take-home reading folder.  They quickly choose a book, put it in their folder, and return the folder to their backpack.  Hang backpack on their hook when they finish.  I use calendar numbers like these above my calendar hooks so I don't have to change them every year.  It saves time in August when doing room prep for the new year.
                                                                        (click)



After putting away their backpack, the next step of the morning routine was to go to our check in station.  


At the check in station, students will check to see what their group's assignment is for Morning Message.  This is how I differentiate my Morning Messages.  Next, students pick up their assignment, and trade pencils if needed.  There is a sharp pencil cup and an unsharp basket.  I have a pencil helper that sharpens pencils at the end of the day.  Students may turn in one unsharp pencil in order to get a sharp pencil.

As you can imagine, the morning message routine looks different at the beginning of the year when I taught kindergarten and first grade than third grade.  For third graders, morning messages was a whole group, teacher directed lesson the first week or two, depending on the class I had that year.  I introduced the differentiation system in the picture the third week.  Once the third graders got used to completing the assignment with one differentiation task (the card shown in the picture), I added a second task to the groups that I felt needed more of a challenge.  In the beginning, I had my students try to complete as much as the assignment as possible by themselves.  Then we went over it together.  Volunteers came up and completed the messages for the class.  Students could correct their answers.  Students who finished early could turn their paper over and draw a picture or write an extension about the message.

For kindergarten and first graders, this is a teacher led lesson much longer before I introduce the check in system.  Once again, it depended on the class.  There are some groups that quickly get into a routine and can handle adding something like this to their morning routine. Other classes, I waited until they understood all of our other procedures before I added this.  It's a judgment call.  Until I establish the check in station, I do like to have the assignment waiting at their table for them when they come in.  It seems to motivate them to put away their backpacks quicker.

One of the things I quickly saw and loved with the little ones was how they turned this assignment into a cooperative assignment.  I'm sure a part of this is because kindergarten and first graders usually sit at tables.  I usually arranged my third graders' desk so they were in teams.  But, for whatever reason, they didn't seem to want to work on this as a group as much.  It was so exciting to see these blooming readers try to figure out the daily message and see all of the strategies they were using.  

For me, morning message was a great way to review skills.  I did not take a grade on it.  I assured my class that I wanted them to try their best and we would go over the answers together.  I wanted them to check their answers and correct them if they made a mistake.  Volunteers came up and helped fill out the example.  When we finished with this, students read a book while I quickly went around and spot checked their message and stamped them.  For kindergarten and first grade, I had a basket of books sitting on each table that my students read or looked at while I was stamping.

We began our binder check after I finished stamping our morning messages.  Keep in mind that this takes quite a bit longer at the beginning of the year, but the time spent training them is well spent.

Binder check was very structured and I tried to say the same thing each day so it became rote memory for them. Example:
  • Open your binder.
  • Look at your first section.  Is there a note or lunch money from your parent?  If yes, take it out and put it above your binder on your table.  Has everyone who has money or note done this?  Now, let's turn to the next section. I have a helper who picks up all the notes and money.
  • Behavior section: captains please check charts.  Stamp the chart if it is signed.
Routine continues until binder is checked.  The last step is having my students put their morning message in the pocket of their binder.  Parents love reading the morning message.

One of the questions I have been asked by some of the buyers of my morning message packets is what do I do on the other days.  My morning message packets have 10 days of messages for the month.  I did not do morning message every day.  

On Fridays, my class made a class book for the star student. It is our journal assignment on Fridays, which takes the place of morning message.  When one of my students celebrated a birthday, we make a class birthday book.  On those days, it takes the place of morning message. Click HERE for a free copy.   

Each school I taught at had a different schedule for specials, which affected my morning routine.  Some schools it was 6-day routine and other schools it was a different schedule every day.  

It seemed like there were always interruptions.  But, to make it less disruptive to our routine, I had my students pick up their birthday book or star student book assignment at the check in station.  But, there weren't any differentiation cards in the pocket chart.

What do you do if you want to do morning messages everyday? Some of my buyers are purchasing the grade level above or the grade level below.  Some of my buyers are purchasing the themed morning message packets.  I plan to work on fall fun packets this week which could be used September - November.


I thought you might like to see a sample page and answer sheet of morning message. 
Click HERE to download this sample.

Themed packets:
I also have monthly packets for the following grade levels:
By request, I bundled my September - May grade level packets.


Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Editable & Integrated: Star Student - Student of the Week

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If you’ve taught for any length of time, you’ve probably done some version of student of the week.  After doing a few years, it is very easy to get to the point where you lose your enthusiasm for doing it.  There were years that I thought I would not do it anymore, and those were the years that I could guarantee to have at least one parent ask me about it at our Back to School Night. 

After some reflection, I decided that this was one of those things that was going to be a part of my teaching life every year.  If it was going to be part of my week, I needed to make it have value to me.  Up until this point, it was more of a show ‘n tell type of activity.  Granted it did a great job of building positive relationships with students and their parents, but when you have a hectic schedule, it is hard to give up valuable instructional time for something that you don’t see has academic merit. 

With a little tweaking, I was able to add some academic components to the lessons, while still keeping some of the activities that make the student feel special and build relationships. 

Hot off the presses is my new EDITABLE in Powerpoint and INTEGRATED Star Student packet.  If you purchase this packet, please do not get overwhelmed.  I included a variety of activities so you can choose the ones that fit your class best.  Some activities may fit your class one year and other activities may work with your class another year.  There is a menu of choices of fun activities and academic activities.

If you happen to have a challenging class this year, I would suggest doing a few of the same activities for all of your stars such as the class book and bulletin board.  But, change the academic activities so you won't lose the interest of your students.  This way the students who are the stars at the end of the year have just as an enthusiastic of an audience when its their turn as their classmates did who did at the beginning of the year.

Here is a sneak peek of some of the activities:


There are two different parent notes included.  
  • Option #1: Send home a questionaire that the parent fills out and sends back with pictures of the topics.  For this note, you will set up a writing center like the one in the picture above.  Your star will use the information from the questionaire to fill out printables shown above which will decorate the bulletin board.  There is also 2 different pages that your star can use to attach the picture and write captions.  This is a great non-fiction features lesson!

Click HERE to download a free copy of the caption pages.

  • Option #2:  Sent home a parent note and copy of the star pages shown in the picture above that the parent and star will use to decorate a post.  Hang this poster on your star student bulletin board.
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In the questionaire, stars tell what they want to be when they grow up.  Set up a career center based on the star's future career.  Students can read books about the job and then complete the interactive journal printable.

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In the parent note, stars are asked to bring their favorite book to share with the class.  Set up an author study center based on the author of the star's favorite book.  After reading one of the books, students will fill out the printable in the picture.


There are a variety of fun activities included, too.  There are signs included that you can use in a variety of ways.  Have you visited the Target Dollar Spot lately?  Set up a Star Student schedule and add these to it for a reminder.

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Some of your students may be familiar with Hollywood's Walk of Fame.   Create your own Walk of Fame in your class.  The stars are included in the editable files so you can add your students' names with your favorite font.  This could also be set up as a center so your star could decorate his or her star. 

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Start your week by crowning your Star with one of these crowns.  There is a colorful version and black and white version included.


My students have always loved it when I set up a special box of supplies.  For this one week I let them use gel pens, glitter crayons, colored pencils, and other fun school supplies.  I like to use a container that has a drawer like this better than the kind with a lid because it is different than centers.  Different tub seems more special to them.  The sign in the picture is included.



Click HERE to see more about this packet.











Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Team building: What does team mean to you?


Have you heard some version of one of the the following statements in the teachers lounge or work room?
  • "I wished I worked on a team that worked together more."
  • "My team doesn't know the meaning of the word collaborate."
  • "I wouldn't have so much to do if so-and-so on my team wasn't so ____ (you fill in the adjective)."
The common theme from these statements is team.  If working as a team, is the answer to so many of our job stresses, why is it that a functional, cohesive team is as elusive as spying a unicorn?

OK, that might be a slight exaggeration.  In my 20 years of teaching, I've been on quite a few different teams.  Out of all of those teams, there were only a handful that I would classify as good examples of a functional team.  Now when I say functional, I am defining this much like you would define a functional family.  There are functional families and dysfunctional families.  The functional teams that I am referring to, had squabbles and irritations just like any family does.  Guess what?  That is normal and it is healthy.  What sets apart a functional team and a dysfunctional team is how you communicate, deal with your differences, irritations while working towards the common goal of educating the students at your grade level.


The functional teams had common characteristics.

These teams were composed of members with various years of experience, personality, and philosophy.  Diversity is key to a happy team!
  • Members of the team were different.  THIS IS KEY!  Please notice that I am yelling here!  I can't stress this enough.  I have sat on hiring committees where I watched teachers blackball candidates who were different than themselves.  The candidates had a different teaching style, classroom management style, personality, and all of the other things that are discussed and observed in an interview.  Because the teacher being interviewed was DIFFERENT, the teachers doing the interview thought this candidate wouldn't fit in with the team. They couldn't have been more wrong!  Let me give you a glimpse of a team where they hired a teacher much like another teacher already on the team.
    • Current team member Ms. White has always been known as the Queen of Fairy Tales.  She does a major production every year with Cinderella complete with castle and moat with live frogs.  Along comes new member, Ms. Jones who also loves fairy tales.  Everyone thought these two would hit it off because they have so much in common.  Little did they know that Ms. Jones is equally talented at putting on a big production, although hers is with Little Red Riding Hood.  You've heard the saying "too many cooks spoil the broth" well the same holds true with the Queens of Curriculum.  Other team members were getting pulled this way and that.  Some were tired of doing Cinderella and ready for a change.  Other team members felt they should be loyal to Ms. White.  It eventually created a schism on the team and needed administrative intervention.  Not a pretty picture!


Planning had a different definition that what most people think of when they think of team planning.

Our team planning consisted of:
  • Our district provided an overall framework as far as when we were supposed to teach skills.  So, we were all teaching the same skills, but not necessarily presenting it using the same methods.
  • We brought a copy of one thing we were excited about that was in our plans for the following week for each member of our team to our weekly meetings. Sometimes I used it, other times I filed it and used it another year.  This took up the first 5 minutes.  Just long enough for everyone to pass out a copy.  
    • If someone had questions about a handout, it was asked and discussed during non-team meeting times.
  • Then we discussed any upcoming team events like field trips. This took  10-15 minutes.  
    • When I was team leader, I typed up and emailed my notes to my team ahead of the meeting.  Team members read the information before the meeting so we didn't waste value time with me disseminating the information.  Our meeting was a time to ask questions and discuss the information I gave them.
  • The majority of our time was spent brainstorming ways to help our behavior and academically struggling students.  You had to email the team leader your name(s) of student(s) before the meeting.  She planned it so we would have enough time to give helpful information.  Sometimes you had to wait for another week's meeting.  This also ensured that an outspoken team member didn't monopolize all of the team's time.  This is where I saw real team work.  We all had different personalities, experiences, and philosophies.  We all respected each other for our differences.  So, we were open to try new things when they were suggested.  On these teams, I felt support, as a team we sent fewer students to the office which our principal appreciated, and we were less stressed because we each knew each other's students through these meetings.  When we saw a team member having a particularly bad day, one of us would tell that team member to go take a break, and we'll take her recess duty that day.  That is what a functional family does and that is what a functional team of teachers do because you know they will do the same for you.
    • As a side note, I think this brainstorming also helped in an unexpected way.  When I have been on teams that didn't have this structure in place, there are usually at least one or two teachers who freely share all the stresses of their class at meetings.  It's not that the other team members don't have equal challenges in their class, but for whatever reason they do not speak up about them.  When this happens: 
      • #1 - It shows that all classes have challenges:   Without the structure, the teachers who speak freely about their challenges feel like they are the only ones who have such a challenging class this year.  They might even begin to feel like they are "dumped" on year after year.  When in reality, other classes after challenges, too.  
      • #2  - Colleague maintain respect for each other:  Without the structure, the teachers who are not speaking up may lose respect for their colleague who are vent-a-holics.  A little venting is normal, but going too far can make it seem like they don't have the skills needed to do their job.  Moderation is key.  
      • #3 - Meetings are helpful:  Without the structure, team meetings become toxic rather than productive ways to solve problems.

There are different philosophies about team building.  I opened two new schools which brings about a different set of dynamics.  The best analogy I can give is the old t.v. show Dallas.  When these new schools opened, the principals were allowed to bring 10% of the staff from his or her former school which made up the leadership team of the new school.  After a while, I got the feeling that I was living on the set of Dallas.  The principal was the parent, the team leader was the biological child and the team members were the in-laws.  When we would try to plan something like a field trip, we would hear from the team leader how it was done at her former school. Then the rest of the team members would chime in "at their former school they did it this way."  It felt like my first year of marriage when my husband and I were trying to figure out how to celebrate different holidays.  His family did it this way, mine did it this way, and eventually we figured out that we needed to do it "our way".  It came down to traditions.  Each person felt like their school (family) traditions for field trips were the best.  My family quickly figured out what day my team planning day was by my moods on those days.  My husband, who is in management, told me about the stages of team building.  You can read more about it HERE which helped.  If you are going through something similar, you might want to bookmark it.  It does help when you can define what you are going through.

Would you like a copy of the team sign?  Click HERE.

Looking for more tips?  Check out my Reading Pinterest board.  Click on the picture below.


Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Be sure to hop over to her blog!




Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

Each week we will choose one person who shared a tip on our blog who will get a $10 shopping trip.  We will announce the winner on the following Tuesday's post.  


Do you have a team idea to share?  Be sure to include your email so I can contact you if you're the winner of the $10 shopping trip. You must leave your email address in order to win.

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.









Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Guided Reading Galore

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No matter where you teach or how long you teach, you never feel like you have enough resources for your reading groups.  When you are planning lessons for small groups, you are planning for multiple grade levels.  A teacher with a typical class will plan for a minimum of three grade levels when writing reading group lesson plans.  This is if you have a typical class, there are many teachers that are writing plans for more than 3 grade levels.  Is it any wonder why teachers are always on the hunt for new resources to use with their groups?

Hunting for that many resources is time consuming plus when you find them it is often costly.  I have this bagged lettuce theory when it comes to planning lessons.  

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You know how in the summer when you have all the time in the world, you buy a head of lettuce, veggies, and dressing to make a salad for your dinner.  You have time so you chop, slice, and dice to make your family a healthy salad.  But, when you have had one too many meeting before and after school, you still need to take your child to soccer practice, pick up your husband's shirts at the dry cleaners, and make dinner you will often find yourself grabbing one of those salad kits in a bag that has everything you need in one handy bag on your way home from school.   You are willing to spend a little more for convenience.  Your time is has value to you and you are willing to pay a little more for it.

Lesson planning often works the same way for me as grocery shopping. I am willing to pay a reasonable amount of money if resources, especially resources for my reading groups, are convenient and organized so I can easily find what I need. The time I save searching for materials has value to me. 

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A site called Snap Learning recently contacted me.  As soon as I saw the resources and how it was organized, I knew that this site fell into my bag of lettuce theory of planning. This is exactly the type of site you need when you are looking for ways to save time when planning your lessons. I love the convenience of everything in one place and searchable.  Since it is online you can plan from home or school.  If you don't have enough copies of something, you can quickly login and make another copy of something because it is easy to navigate through the site.

Have you been a lucky recipient of Donor's Choose yet?  This would be the perfect project for that.  All of your students would benefit from this site.  Sometimes your PTA and reading specialist have funds to pay for a membership to a site like Snap Learning, too.


There are a variety of activities on Snap Learning that you can use with your reading group.  Teachers who love to integrate lessons will love the choices.  The picture above is a page from the teacher page and student page from the Solid, Liquid, and Gas for 2nd/3rd grade.

If you have a strict paper limit, you can insert the papers into a dry erase pocket or page protector.  


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Add a sheet of cardstock to make the dry erase pocket or page protector sturdier. Add a writing page on the back so students can respond to their writing.

Click HERE to download the free writing papers.  There are 3 to choose from.

Want to find out more about Snap Learning? You can request a demo of the Snap Guided Reading program HERE 


Go check out the site!  They are currently having a Back to School sale until September 9th.




Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

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