Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fun with Geoboards

Geoboards have always been a love-hate thing for me.  I love all that students can do and learn on a geoboard.  But, there are always a few students who want to shoot the rubberbands at other students.  Usually at least one student snaps a rubberband and hurts his or her finger.  If only they could use them for their intended purpose!                                                                                        
I tried using these cotton loops as a substitute:

Click HERE to check them out.

The cotton loops solved the problems with rubberbands flying across the room.  The only glitch with them is you need to have geoboards with tall pegs.  I had some at the time that looked like homemade ones.  They looked like small nails were partially nailed into a board.  These worked perfect on those boards, but not as well on the plastic goeboards.

Today, I found something new that you will want to try and it is FREE!  The geoboard app can be used on iPhones or iPads.  
Click HERE for the app.

Have you used this app yet?  If so, tell me about your experience.

Monday, April 21, 2014

R-Controlled Vowels: Fluency Task Card

If you follow my blog, you know that fluency is something that I write about from time to time.  Here is one of the posts:

Click HERE to read the post.

Fluency is one of those skills that can be easily overlooked because we spend so much time teaching phonics and phonemic awareness in the primary grades.  It wasn't until I sat in a P.D. - yes there are helpful professional development meetings - that I finally understood the long lasting impact fluency instruction had our students.  Read the post above to find out more about this.

After I sat through that PD, I went "back to the drawing board" or so to speak.  I didn't have any more time in my schedule, but I knew I wanted my students to do more fluency strengthening activities.  I needed to find lessons and activities that they could do individually, with a partner, as a center, or with a small group.   My answer was my Sentence Shuffle Centers.   

I have begun a new series of fluency task cards. They are quick and easy prep.  Two quick cuts and you have 4 task cards.

You can organize these by either the R-controlled vowel or by level.

There are 8 task cards for each R-controlled vowel.
  • Level 1 is the easiest reading level and level 8 is the hardest reading level.
  • Each task gives the word count.

You can also organize the cards by AR, ER, IR, OR, or UR.  There are covers included if you want to clip or bind them together.

You can set this up as a partner activity.  Give the partners one card or a ring of cards.  There is a fluency check form that the partners fill out to rate their partner's reading.

It is a quick and easy form!

You can also set this up as a center.  To use it this way, you will need:
  • Ring of task cards - organized by R-controlled vowel
  • Pencil
  • Timer - I like to use the ones from Oriental Trading.  They are $6 per dozen.
  • Crayons

Here is a closer look at the worksheet in the picture.

The answer key is included so you can make this a self-checking center.

After you have introduced all of the R-controlled vowels, you can set this up as a review center.  You can organize the response sheets in files like the ones in the picture above.  Click HERE to download the label file.

Click HERE if you'd like to check this out.

I have other fluency task card packets.  Click below if you'd like to check them out.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Oceans of Fun

This past week was Spring Break where I live.  I thought it might be fun if you tried to guess where my family went.  Leave your guess in the comments below.  One of the teachers with the correct answers will get to choose a packet $6 or less from my store.

Here are some clues:

The scenery was beautiful!

Sea lions were there to greet us.

My favorite memory was seeing orcas in the wild.

Although I was at the coast, the temperature was chilly.  I bought a sweatshirt to stay warm on the boat tour.

Do you know where I went?  Leave your guess in the comment section.

Thank you everyone for your guesses.  I went to Monterey, CA.  It was beautiful!

To keep with the oceans of fun theme, I am going to put some of my ocean themed packets on sale this weekend (April 19, 20).

Sale price:  $3.20
Click HERE to read more about this packet.

Sale price: $3.99
Click HERE to read more about this packet.

Sale price:  $3.99
Click HERE to read more about this packet.

Sale price: $3.99
Click HERE to read more about this packet.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

3 FREEBIES for you!

It has been a year since my friend, Fern and I began our Dynamic Duo monthly giveaways.  We have had a fun time working together and of course we love to give stuff away!

Fern recently came up with a new idea.  Each week, we are going to make one of our normally priced packets free for one day.  This is our way of showing a little appreciation to our followers who have loyally followed our blogs.  As an added bonus, we are going to invite a different blogger friend each week to join us.  Not only will you get free stuff, you might get to "meet" someone new and want to follow his or her store, too.  How great is that?!!!  Make sure you visit our blogs every Thursday!

Click HERE to download your freebie.

Just a reminder:  You will not be able to leave feedback after we change it back to a paid for lesson.

Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fluency Task Cards: Spring Time
Add caption

Strengthen your students' fluency skills and add a little Spring fun to your lessons with these Spring themed topic fluency task cards.

There are seven different topics and four task cards for each topic.  You can organize the cards by topic.  There are cover cards included if you bind yours together or clip them with a ring.

You can also organize them by level.  There are cover cards included for levels, too.

Here is a preview of the task cards about frogs.

If you organize the task cards by topic, you can give your students this printable to complete after they read the cards.  There is a place to record their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd reading plus answer a question about each card.

The answers are also included so you can make this a self-checking center.

Click HERE if you'd like to see the preview of this file.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bright Ideas: Missing Work

If you were a fly on the wall in any teachers' lounge, one of the common frustrations you will hear discussed is missing work.   How do you get your students to do all of their work?  

This month for our Bright Ideas Blog Hop, I thought I'd share a few tips to help with the missing work issue.

Through my years of teaching, my missing work philosophy changed.  When I first began teaching, it was a black and white issue.  The assignment was expected on the day it was due.  I only accepted missing work from students that were absent.  If parents questioned my policy, I always gave them the standard party line, "I am preparing your child for life."

One day I had a parent question this a little further.  You know there are parents that can question things the right way and others who question things the wrong way.  This parent was one of the right way parents.  He pointed out that in real life, mortgage companies have a grace period.  You can pay your mortgage payment a few days late without a late fee.  Some utilities companies also work this way.  But, the electric company won't keep your electricity on forever.  If you go a few months without paying your electric bill, your electricity will be turned off.  Could I make my late work policy more like the real world?  

It made sense to me.  I readjusted to policy to make it more like real life.  I set the date of two weeks before the end of the grading period as my "electricity turn off" date.  After this date, late work would be marked a zero.  I thought it would be too complicated to set a specific number of days for a grace period.  Instead, I set the last Friday of every month as my "catch up" day.  All work assigned that month could be turned in without a penalty.  Because it was a set day of every month, students and parents were aware of the day and it became part of our routine.  Work turned in the following month would be marked down 15%.  I think my students and parents were more engaged with my late work policy because they saw that it was like real life. 

In the meantime, there are things you can do to help your students improve their work habits.

Write the class work and homework in the same section of your white board or chalkboard every day.  You want to train your students to look there.  The visual support is very important with students who have trouble turning in their work.  

Do your students write their assignments on a calendar or chart of some type? Train them to highlight the assignments AFTER they turn it in.  This way when they are packing up at the end of the day, they can easily see which assignments AREN'T highlighted.  Those are the assignments that they need to take home.

Pair up your students at the end of the day.  These are pack-up pals.  Pack-up pals will double check to make sure assignments were written down correctly on their calendar or work chart PLUS make sure they take home the needed books and materials to complete their homework.

Put your students in groups of three.  These groups are study buddies.  Study buddies will exchange phone numbers.  If a study buddy has a question about a homework assignment, he or she can call one of his or her study buddies.

If your school uses an electronic communication system, utilize it consistently.  Consistency is the key!  

Do you have any strategies that have helped your students turn in their work on time?

I hope you have enjoyed our Bright Ideas Blog Hop!  Follow me on Bloglovin and Facebook so you don't miss out on my other ideas that I share!

Don't forget to visit the other bloggers who are sharing their Bright Ideas, too.  Come back and visit us next month, too.  

Newsletter: Weekly Wrap Ups

You have probably seen quite a few messages lately about the changes with the Facebook pages that you have "liked".  Facebook have made some changes in what you see in your newsfeed. Here is a post that explains a bit more about this:  CLICK HERE.  The bottom line is Facebook is a business and they want to make money, which I understand. With the new way, in order for more of the people who have liked my page to see what I post, I would have to pay to boost my posts.  With my number of followers, it would cost me $100 per post.  I usually post 3 things a day.  I do not have an extra $9,000 a month to spend on boosting my post so I can share ideas with teachers who have liked my Teach123 Facebook page.  It does help if you interact frequently with the Facebook pages that you want to see in your newsfeed.  You can interact by liking, sharing, or commenting on posts.  One of the things I am now doing is clicking "like" on every post of the pages that I want to contineu to see in my newsfeed.  My "like" is my new way of telling the FB page owner that I saw the post.

One of the things I enjoy doing on my FB page is telling my followers when I added something new to my store and giving a few copies away.  With fewer people seeing what I post, I am looking for new ways to communicate with my followers.  One idea I have is to do a weekly wrap up through my newsletter.

I would still like to give a few copies of my new lessons away. I am going to see how it works to do it my newsletter.  Here's how it will work.  Each newsletter I will give links to a few of my lessons packets.  I will choose a few email addresses.  If your email address is chosen, email me at ( and tell me which one of the links I shared below you would like me to send you.  That's it!  Easy peasy!

If you are a subscriber to my newsletter, check your inbox because you may be a winner!  

If you haven't subscribed yet, click on the picture below and check each week to see if you are the winner.


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