Sunday, July 27, 2014

Editable Sight Word Program

Have you had any V-8 moments in your teaching career?  One of my biggies happened when I was teaching kindergarten.  I later used this when I moved to 1st grade.  At the time, there wasn't much curriculum for kinder kids who needed enrichment. Thanks to quality preschool programs and involved parents, I was fortunate to have quite few strong students. They were able to read some words, but needed to learn sight words to fill in the gaps.  Through trial and error, the Bubble Gum program evolved.   I thought I'd pass along some of the things I learned along the way.

I organized my materials before school began.  If you teach kindergarten, you may not have a student that needs this program the first week of school, but at some point of the school year you might.  It is nice when you are ready to go.  Plus, if you have a parent that ask you at Back to School night how you are going to challenge their child, you can whip out your handy dandy tub of Bubble Gum materials and show your parents that you are very capable of enriching their child.  It gives them peace of mind and you a peaceful year.

In my tub, I keep a class set of each list of words, the BINGO games, my Bubble Gum scented stickers, reminder notes, homework folders (premade and ready to go), and all the other necessary materials.

I copy the lists on colorful papers.  It seemed to motivate my students to get a new color when they finished one list and began a new one.  It is also easier for the students to find their list at the Bubble Gum word work center when you color code the lists.  I copied the list above on cardstock, the same color as the students' word list and put the cardstock list on a ring.  Students can flip through the ring of lists until they find their list to complete the assignment.

Each Friday during journal time, I called my students in number order (I assign each student a number based on alphabetical order) to come to my table and get tested over their Bubble Gum list.  Students are encouraged to learn at least one row of words (3 words)  but they can learn as many as possible.  I stop testing when they come to the first missed word.  For each row of words that they read correctly, I give them a bubble gum scented sticker in the square at the end of the row.  This is a differentiated program.

There are 4 different assignments included.  Students work on the following skills:  use a BINGO dauber to highlight vowels, use letter stamps to practice spelling words, write real and nonsense words that rhyme with Bubble Gum words, and write words 3 times.


Sometimes students will forget to bring their folder on test day.  I send home the reminder note with those students.  I only test on Fridays.  If we don't have school on a Friday then we skip that week of testing.  There is also other parent communication included.  There is a parent letter explaining the program and a parent note asking for supplies.  Sometimes your PTA will help you with supplies, too.

There were 3 big V-8 moments for me when I taught kindergarten that I saw made a major difference in the growth of my students.  The Bubble Gum program, Popcorn Sounds, and Home Journals.  It was amazing to see how my students bloomed when all 3 of those programs were in place.  I just wished someone would have told me about it sooner!

I am in the process of revising these 3 programs.  I just finished revising the Bubble Gum program.  If you previously purchased it, you may go to "my purchases" to download the revised version for free.

I plan to work on the Popcorn Sounds and Home Journals program in the next two weeks.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sub Plans Resource Binder

See if this sounds familiar . . . don't do as I do, do as I say. You probably heard your parent say that a time or two when you were growing up. When I worked with student teachers or new teachers, I often told them not to do what I did when I was a new teacher. There were so many things that I did the hard way the first few years of my career.  I wasn't necessarily doing them wrong, but there are easier, quicker ways of doing things in our profession that seasoned teachers don't always remember to tell the inexperienced ones.

Planning for a sub was one of these "hard way, easy way" lessons that I eventually learned.  But, I really wished someone would have given me directions to the easy way much earlier in my career!

Plan Idea #1: In the beginning, when I needed a sub, I wrote out step by step directions of what the sub needed to do during the day that I was absent.  Yes, this works but it is not an efficient use of my time.  

Plan Idea #2:  I typed up a generic sub plan and then added the assignments.  This worked most of the time.  But, what happens if you or your child gets sick in the middle of the night and you can't come in and write the assignments and prepare the lessons?

Plan Idea #3:  Emergency sub plans - One day of lesson plans that are generic so they can be used at any time of the year.  One of the schools that I worked at, required us to organize these in a folder and give them to the secretary.  This is a smart idea if your secretary has the room to store them.  

Through trial and error, feedback from subs and co-workers I finally found a system that worked for me.

I organize a Sub Resource Binder.  This is the "how to" for the sub.  It explains all of the procedures for how I run my class.  It saves so much time and the subs love it! Have you ever been pulled from class at the last minute for meeting?  Maybe the meeting is only for an hour or so, but when it catches you by surprise, it is hard to think of all the details you need to put in plans for the sub who will be covering your class.  When this happens you pull out your handy dandy sub resource binder and give him/her the materials that are needed to teach the lessons.  Quick, easy and painless for you and easy for the sub! 

I organize my weekly lesson plans in a tub like this:

Click HERE to read more about it.

I have the following folders in the tub:  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Centers. I put all of the papers, read aloud books, and other materials that I need for my lessons that I need for the day in the order that I will teach them in folders.  I show the special ed. teachers that I work with and a buddy teacher where I keep my stuff.  If there is ever a time when I am too sick to come in an organize my sub plans, I call one of these teachers who can pull out the day's folder and my Sub Resource Binder.  I know that my sub has all that he or she needs to have a successful day.

I think every teacher needs a set of emergency plans because you never know when something might happen.  My first 18 years of teaching, I made emergency sub plans and didn't need to use them.  It would have been easy to think that this was a waste of time to make them at the beginning of the year when I had so many other things to do.  But, then during my 19th year, my daughter got sick - really sick - in the middle of the night, my husband was out of town, and there wasn't any way that I could leave my daughter to go plan for a sub.  Luckily I had emergency sub plans.  

I think you have to look at emergency sub plans like an insurance policy.  You've bought car insurance for years yet you've hopefully not been in a car accident.  But, if you ever are in a car accident, you will be thankful that you not only have an insurance policy, but that you took the time to shop around to get the best policy possible.  Sub plans work the same way.  Take the time before school begins to make quality emergency sub plans.

The procedure pages come in PDF format and EDITABLE in Powerpoint.
Click HERE to read more about this.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reading: Home Connection FREEBIE

Are your resources limited at your school?  Are you looking for more reading books to use with your small groups? I have taught in schools where the resources were plentiful and other schools where funds were an issue.  You can apply for grants, work with your PTA to organize fundraisers, or work with Donor's Choose to get some help to purchase resources.  But, what do you do when you need books for your small groups/centers now, not later?  My answer was mini books.  It does take an investment of time, paper, and the use of a copier.  But, the cost is minimal and the effort pays off in a big way!

I use mini books two different ways.  Some sets I use year after year.  It is really nice when the mini books come in a black and white version and a colorful version.  If there isn't a colorful version, I send home sets to parent volunteers to color.  Or I find an upper-grade teacher who has students that finish their work early.  The students color my mini books when they finish their work.  It's a win-win for the students because they like to help, their teacher has students that are engaged in an activity when they finish their work, and I have help.

Some sets of books are for the students to keep.  It improves their fluency when they read the same book multiple times.  After we finish reading the book at school, I send it home.  I want to have a visual reminder for my students to read their books plus keep the books safe.  My answer was to make book boxes.  I asked parents to send in shoe boxes with a removable lid.

  • TEACHER TIP #1:  It's inevitable that 10% of the class will forget to bring their box on the due date. Start collecting extra boxes from your family, neighbors, and friends this summer.  
  • TEACHER TIP #2:  Cover the boxes with white butcher paper.  Cover the lid separate from the bottom of the box so it will be removable. 
  • TEACHER TIP #3:  Sometimes I send home a roll of white butcher paper with the note below attached to it so parents can put the paper on the box.  Other times, I ask a couple of parent volunteers to come in and put the paper on the boxes.
I usually set Tuesday or Wednesday as a due date for the boxes and then ask parent volunteers to come in on Friday to put paper on the boxes (if parents don't do it at home).  The following week I set up Book Boxes as one of our centers.  Students decorate them in the center.  Some students will draw their favorite book characters on it, other decorate it with stickers, or any creative way that they want.

When the boxes are finished, we use them during our D.E.A.R. time. and then send them home at the end of the week.  These have been popular with my students and parents.  I hope yours like them, too!

Click HERE to download this freebie.

My friend, Fern shared a mini book teacher tip that I thought you'd like. Click HERE to read Fern's post.

Click HERE for a FREE mini book from Fern.

Click HERE to read more about this mini book.  
For a short time, this post has a FREE mini book.

Looking for mini books? The mini books below are on reading levels K-5. Click on the links below.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Journal Writing Resource

This week I got an email from Melanie, a fellow TPT seller.  She asked me if I would be willing to look at her new Journal Writing Resource that she recently finished.  

Although I don't know Melanie, personally, as soon as I saw her blog, How many of us who either sell lessons on TPT or buy lessons or both, can relate to finding inspiration in the teacher's lounge?  Isn't her blog adorable?!!!  I felt like I had found a kindred spirit.  After looking at her Journal Writing Resource packet, I knew this would be something my followers would enjoy finding out about.  Plus, Melanie has a FREE sample for you, too.  How great is that?!!!!

This journal resource has 136 pages and is full of writing ideas for elementary teachers.  These activities can be used for your writing plans plus I thought of some bonus uses for the lessons in this resource.

The packet has monthly journal covers and journal prompts.  These would be a great way to show growth throughout the year.  Keep them in your students' portfolios and then bundle them together at end of the year for a special gift.  This would be a very inexpensive gift and one that parents would love for years to come.  

Use these to prepare your students for the quarterly writing prompts.  There are over 100 journal prompts so I'm sure you'll find some that are a good fit for your class.

Have you made your emergency sub plans yet?  Include a few of these with your plans. There are prompts about holidays, seasons, and general topics.

Melanie has a free sample for you to try.  Click HERE for the FREE sample.

Click HERE to purchase the Journal Writing Resource for Educators.

Don't forget to visit Melanie's blog because she is beginning a new line of resources for educators.  The next one is about Classroom Management and will be finished soon.  Click HERE to bookmark the page.

While Melanie compensated me, these opinions and experiences are my own.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Class Job Tips and freebie

Have you figured out a good system for choosing class jobs?  It took me several years to figure out a system that worked for me.  The way I originally did it, took up too much class time.  Plus, I would usually get a few notes from parents about their child not getting the job that he/she wanted. After trial and error, I found a system that seemed to solve most of these problems.

 I have also pinned different ways of organizing jobs on my Classroom Management Pinterest board.

In the picture below is an example of how I organize jobs in my classroom.

At the beginning of the year, I number my students alphabetically.  I divide the class into 2 groups and put them on a ring (see at the top of the board in the picture).  For this example I have 24 students.  So, students #1-12 are on ring 1 on the left and students #13 - 24 are on ring 2 on the right.

Students #1-4 and #13 - 16 are put on the chart.  The following week, all the cards are moved across and down one row and #6 and #13 are put on the back of  rings 1 and 2.  The next week #5, #17 are put on the top row.  The following week all of cards are moved across and down one row.  
This pattern continues throughout the year.  You don't have to keep track of which students have done which jobs.  Students don't complain about not doing a preferred job because they know eventually it will be their turn.  If you wanted to add a little seasonal fun to this chart, use seasonal calendar numbers for the students' numbers.

If you use numbers instead of students' names, you will save time when you are setting up your classroom in August.  

I made two versions of this for you.  They are both free.
Click HERE to download the PDF format.
Click HERE to download the EDITABLE version.

I used KG Second Chances Sketch font by Kimberly Geswein.  The font is free for personal use.  If you want the editable version to look like the PDF version shown above, you will need to use this font.

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

Fern and I are adding something new this summer.  Summer is a great time to catch up on your reading.  I love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books.  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for Tuesday Teacher 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 in the following Tuesday's post.  The winner for this post will be announced next week.

The winner of last week's post is:

Click HERE to read Mrs. Wilson's tip which is located in the comment section.

Do you have a class job tip to share?  Be sure to include your email so I can contact you if you're the winner of the $10 shopping trip.

Looking for more ideas?  Check out these!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Multiple Intelligence Approach: Syllables

You have probably heard your parents or grandparents say that they remember where they were when they heard that President Kennedy was shot.  There are a few of those experiences like Challenger Space Shuttle and President Reagan being shot that I will be able to tell my grandchildren about.

As a teacher, we often have experiences, that aren't necessarily life-altering like the examples above, but these experiences do have an impact on us professionally.  I was just starting out in my teaching career, when I stumbled across an article about Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligence.  Talk about one of those great "Ah Ha!" moments.  At the time, I had only taught for a few years, yet I had noticed that some students responded differently to different types of lessons.

Have you ever had that experience where you feel like something is on the tip of your tongue but you can't think of the exact word that you're looking for?  That's what I felt like when I would reflect over my lessons.  I noticed these differences with students yet I couldn't put a label on it until I read this article.

Click HERE to read a review of this book.

After reading more articles on this topic and learning styles, I decided to overhaul my centers.  Social and science topics were the overall theme of my units.  Each center was named after a person who demonstrated a strength with the various types of intelligence. Here are a couple of examples of a plant unit:

Intrapersonal - Shel Silverstein center:  Students wrote poems about a tree or flower.

Logical - Mathematical - Isaac Newton:  Student completed an area and perimeter assignment that was about a garden.  

I just finished a new Syllable Thumper and ABC order center which is a perfect way to incorporate music with your lessons.

First, begin with a simple song.  I like to begin with something easy that students are a familiar with like Humpty Dumpty.  This video is great because it has the words and the music.  Have your students clap the syllables that they hear.  Afterwards you can make a list of 1 syllable words, 2 syllable words, etc.

Click HERE to watch the Humpty Dumpty video.

Next, tell your students that they are going to make a Syllable Thumper. You will want to send home the note included with the packet ahead of time asking your parents for oatmeal containers or containers of the same size and shape.

Pictures to decorate the Syllable Thumper are included.  There are colorful ones and black and white ones.  The School Time packet that would be a great addition to your Back to School lessons.  It can also be taught at any time of the year.  I also have an All Star Syllable Thumper packet that would be perfect for Presidents' Day, Veterans' Day, and other patriotic holidays.

You can use these sorting cards with your small groups, whole group, or set it up as a center.

This is a fun time to incorporate some simple music instruments into your lessons.  Music teachers are usually happy to loan bells, sticks, and wooden blocks.  I found the bells in the picture at Michael's Craft Store.  

There are two different extension assignments included.  If you'd like to add a little fun, let your students mark the number of syllables with a BINGO dauber.  

Looking for more multiple intelligence ideas?  I have been adding some pins about M.I. to my Good Stuff Pinterest board.

Click HERE  to visit my Pinterest board.

Do you have any multiple intelligence tips to share?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Morning Messages

Work harder not smarter should be stamped across every teacher's doorway because we never have enough time to do all we need to do.  Do you ever leave at the end of the day thinking, "Wow!  I got everything done.  Now I can go home, make a real meal, and relax."  If you are like most teachers, you are probably making a mental list on your way home of all the things you need to get done between now and tomorrow morning, right?

I stumbled across this work smarter way of doing morning messages when I was doing my long term lesson plans when I was pregnant.  I love morning messages for elementary students and feel they do a great job of reviewing skills, but it was so time consuming to write a message on chart tablet.  The tablet is big and bulky.  It was a challenge to take it home with me to prepare ahead of time which meant I needed to do it at school.  I didn't always have extra time to write a quality message at school.  

I didn't want my maternity leave sub to have to write messages.  She was going to have her hands full with getting to know 22 little kinder kids and all that entails.  I did a little brainstorming and decided that I can type much faster than I can write by hand.  

So, I typed up my first morning message, made a transparency (did I mention that this was in 1999), and put it on the overhead projector.  Since this was kindergarten, this was a very teacher directed lesson.  Volunteers helped by filling in the blanks, circling word wall words, circling first letter of the sentence with a green marker, circling punctuation mark at the end of the sentence with red, etc.  

Once my students learned the format, I had the paper waiting on their tables for them.  I gave them a few minutes to see if they could figure out some of the message.  They loved it!  Eventually, some of the tables began to work as teams.  I loved the cooperative learning that I was seeing and all of the reading taking place.  

Eventually, I could see my students were getting restless with the format.  They were getting through with it much too quickly.  So, I organized a check in station like the one in the picture below.  After students put away their backpack, lunch boxes, and turned in their homework, they picked up their morning message at the table by the check in station and found out what their tasks was for the day.  The tasks are the cards beside the number.  The number is their group number.  In the beginning, I only gave them one task.  Later on, I gave them 2 tasks.  If you shrink the cards or you have a wider pocket chart, you can give them more tasks.  You can assign the same tasks to different groups.
TEACHER HINT:  In this picture is the small pocket chart from Target's Dollar Spot.  I printed the differentiation cards at 75% so I could fit two for each group.

I thought you might like to see a sample page and answer sheet of morning message. This would perfect for your Back to School lessons.
Click HERE to download this sample.

I have a wide variety of morning message packet.  They are available in topics such as:
I also have monthly packets for the following grade levels:
By request, I bundled my September - May grade level packets.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Back to School: Lunch Time Tips

Is lunch time one of those times of day that you dread? Can you relate to this video when lunch time rolls around?

At the beginning of the year, students in the primary grades, have so many new things to learn.  After learning restroom procedures, how to come to the carpet, how to lineup, walk in the hallway, and what seems like hundreds of other details, is it any wonder that they go a little crazy when it's lunch time?

When I taught kindergarten, I included this story in my Back to School presentation:

One year during the first week of school, I thought I had my kinder kids settled for lunch so I could go to the teachers' lounge to eat mine.  One of our cafeteria monitors came in and asked me to speak to one of my students.  The little boy was crying and they couldn't calm him down or find out why he was upset.  This was the little boy's first time to buy a lunch.  But, when he took a bite of his food, he became upset because "it didn't taste like his Mom's food".  Luckily, our cafeteria manager had some peanut butter and jelly so she could make him a sandwich.  I tell my parents that the moral to this story is young children have enough adjustments to make the first few weeks of school.  Parents can help by sending a lunch from home so it is one less thing for them to worry about during this hectic time.  

Many of my parents did send lunches the first few weeks of school. This had expected bonuses!  I had more time to help the ones who bought a lunch the lunch line procedures because I had fewer buying a lunch the first few weeks.  The lunch from home group was less stressed.  When the lunch from home group began buying a lunch, the other group already knew the procedures so they were their buddies.  

Does your lunch program offer different choices?  While it is nice for the students, it can create headaches for the teacher and cafeteria workers serving the food.  At one of my school districts, we had several different options and the cafeteria manager wanted us to line up our students in the following order:
  • 1st:  Students purchasing milk and/or dessert.
  • 2nd: Students purchasing 1st choice.
  • 3rd: Students purchasing 2nd choice.
  • 4th: Students purchasing sandwich.
Now, when you teach little ones, you know that the best laid plans of mice men and all that, right?  Yes, I can have them lined up correctly in the classroom, but and this is a big but, we have to walk a little while before we get to the cafeteria.  I swear at times it was like no man's land.  When my students entered no man's land, our perfectly wonderful line order disappeared.  Not a great way to make a good impression on the cafeteria manager when you are new at a school.  She literally was yelling at me the first day of school.  I had just moved to this new state and had a new job.  Not a happy first day of school for me!

So, I put on my thinking cap AND I did a little retail therapy.  Shopping always makes things better, right?  I was strolling through Target, when I found some colorful, plastic clothes pins.  I did a little brainstorming and figured out a solution to my students getting out their line order when we enter the no man's land.  

I clipped a blue clothes pin to the collar, sleeve, or some part of the clothing, preferably chest height or higher of the students who were in the first group of the line order.  I clipped a green clothes pin to the 2nd group, red clothes pin to the 3rd group, and yellow clothes pin to the 4th group.  The students who brought a lunch from home did not get a clothes pin.

It was easy to see if anyone got out of place because the clothes pins are bright and colorful.  The cafeteria workers complimented me on them.  They could see from distance how many more first choice lunch trays they needed to make by looking at the pins.

My students wore the clothes pins to lunch.  Once in a while, one would get broken but it didn't happen very often.  I did purchase double the amount that I needed.  I figured there would be some that would get lost or broken.  Any left overs I could use the following year.

For some reason, colorful plastic clothes pins are very hard to find - at least where I live.  I could only find wooden clothes pins.  I did try dyeing those but found that the wooden ones break easily.  I ordered these on Amazon.

I hope you have been joining us each month for our Bright Ideas Blog Hop.  My friends and I enjoy sharing ideas with you.  Don't forget to pin these to your Pinterest board so you'll have them handy when you need them.

I hope you will follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Bloglovin' so you don't miss out when I share more ideas and freebies!


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