FREE Listening Center Q.R. Codes & Giving Thanks Giveaway

At this time of year, time is in short supply.  I made a FREE Thanksgiving Listening Center - Q.R. Codes and response pages. There are different apps that you can use for this center.  I like this one.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time of the year to remember all of our blessings. My friend Fern and I are hosting a giveaway to thank our followers. The winner can choose any store or restaurant on the Gift Card Mall site. We will announce the winner on our FB pages.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Feelings Journal & Behavior Management

Feelings can impact the climate of your class.  Students are little thermometers.  They absorb all of the good and bad vibes around them. It is important to have a strategy in your teacher toolbox to help your students.
Have you used a feelings journal?  Use a feelings journal as a morning work assignment.  Students are able to begin their day more focused after sharing what they are thinking and feeling. BONUS: You can take the pulse of your class with this assignment.

Holding students accountable for their behavior is important. Make the end of the your day a time of reflection.  Students can reflect about their feelings and behavior at school with this assignment. 
Different pages from "My Feelings Journal".

Organize books about behavior, feelings, or character traits.  It is very helpful to have a "go to" tub of books when an issue happens in the classroom.  You can reinforce your class rules, discussions, and conferences with students about behavior using read alouds.
You can integrate your behavior management with your literacy lessons.  Quick prep, addresses behavior issues . . . kills two birds with one stone . . . . what's not to love?
Tattling can become a big issue during cold and flu season.  Students are irritable which causes more conflicts.  This is a good time to read A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue.  You can do the easy prep option of read aloud and reading response page. 

I recommend making a tattling tongue bulletin board if this has been an on-going problem.  Point to the bulletin board when your students have a conflict to remind them to use the strategies from the book.  My new file includes a bulletin board, too.

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Reading Fluency: Magazines & Readers Theater Tips

This blog post is sponsored
by Scholastic Magazines.

Do you have any budding actors and actresses in your class this year? Channel all of that creative energy and increase your students' fluency skills with Readers Theater.  This month's Storyworks Jr. magazine includes the Readers Theater script,Yeh Shen, A Chinese Cinderella Story.

Getting a Storyworks Jr. magazine in the mail is like getting a gift for yourself.  Readers Theater is fun, which keeps students engaged at this crazy time of the year.

You can organize the performance of Yeh Shen, A Chinese Cinderella Story different ways.  Add a simple prop like the red fan (picture at the top of the page) to make it more engaging for your students.  I found the fan at Dollar Tree this summer.  I also bought a box of fans (dozen) at a party supply store for $2.50.
There are enough parts of the script,Yeh Shen, A Chinese Cinderella Story, for half of your class to perform it. Divide your class in two groups.  Both groups will perform the play.  Write the names of the students in the groups on a marquee sign like the one in the picture above.  This will help students remember their group.
Use glitter to add a little glitz to your bulletin board with the play groups.
Color code your groups. Students can wear a necklace with the name of the character or their part of the play. When it is time to practice all you need to do is say, "It is time for the green group to practice" instead of calling a list of students.  Color coding is a big time saver! 
Let students make their own signs.  You can also set this up as a center.  You can get a free copy of the play signs and marquee here.
Your students fluency skills will improve with all of the practicing they will happily do.  I'm sure your students will want to know when the next issue of Storyworks Jr. is coming so they can begin the next play.

As you know, I love reading and giving stuff away.  When Scholastic contacted me and asked if I would be willing to tell my readers about their magazines, it was a quick yes.


You could win a $200 gift card from the Scholastic Teacher Store!

We love #SmartTeachingTips. Share yours for how you use Scholastic magazines creatively in your classroom. Tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, and include a photo or video. Be sure to use #SmartTeachingTips.

Three winners will be chosen based on outstanding creativity. Each winner will receive a $200 gift card to the Scholastic Teacher store. We’re excited to see your ideas! Follow Scholastic Teachers on social media to learn more.

Printables – 30 Day Free Trial

Scholastic Printables offer teachers full access to our online database of over 20,000 amazing activities, engaging lesson plans, and other incredible teacher-created resources for grades PreK-6. Try it free for 30 days by clicking here.

Scholastic Magazines - Promotional Code
Scholastic Magazines are the most affordable and exciting way to bring current, curriculum connected nonfiction into your classroom. To save 40%, mention code “2905” when ordering. Call 1-800-SCHOLASTIC or visitwww.scholastic.com/magazines.

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Handling Parent Complaints

Mom's advice, when you hear it you may or may not take it. If you are a mother, you may see more of the "not taking it" occurring in your house. I am the mother of teen so I see more of the not taking it.

It made my heart sing when my daughter began to look at education as a career. When she was younger, she swore she would never teach because "teachers work too hard". I couldn't imagine teaching if you didn't feel a real calling to the profession, could you?

Now that she has shown an interest in my passion, I am trying to impart as much teacher wisdom as I possibly can before she goes to college. You know, all those life lessons in the trenches that you didn't learn in undergrad. This is one of the reasons why I began the "Need Books?" book giveaways this year. I wanted to show her how to level books.

Now I am going to begin a new series of blog post called "Life Lessons from the Trenches". I want to apologize ahead of time in case this sounds too Mom-ish. These are tips I wish someone would have told me before I began teaching. Feel free to share your life lessons in the comments at the bottom of this post.

Life Lesson in the Trenches - Lesson #1

You will get parent complaint. Good teachers get complaints, vanilla teachers get complaints, ineffective teachers get complaints . . . are you seeing a pattern? You can be the Einstein of teachers but, still a parent will be less than pleased with you. Why?

You need to get to the root of the problem.

Comparison: The neighbor raved about all of the amazing stuff their child's teacher was doing.   Now one of your parents is upset with you because you aren't doing the same stuff as the "amazing teacher".  If this happens to you:
  • Invite the upset parent to volunteer in your class so he or she can see all of the amazing stuff going on in your room. 
  • Communicate the great stuff happening in your room.  Don't be shy!  Add pictures to your website or newsletter.  A picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Ask the "amazing teacher" if he or she would be willing to share some ideas or activities with you.
Boomerang: Mom and Dad had a fight about the sad note you sent home. Your note causes dissension. Now the parent is unhappy with you.  It is the boomerang effect.

When you sense this is the issue, invite the parents to come in for a conference so everyone can share their point of view. It is easier for everyone to get on the same page when you have spoken face-to-face. The student needs a united front at home and school.

Ambassadors: The outspoken member of the community has shared his or her concern about how you are performing your job. It is important to listen to all complaint. Don't dismiss a complaints by Mrs. Frequently because she freely shares her opinions. There might be several other parents who feel the same way as Mrs. Frequently. These parents know that Mrs. F. loves to give free advice. They have given their tacit agreement which made her your class ambassador.

It is easy to take complaints personal and let them cloud your view of your job.  Remember, only a small percentage of parents may have a concern.  These parents may have a concern on that day about that particular topic.  The other 179 days of the school, these same parents may in fact think you are doing a great job!

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Independent Word Work for Fall: Making Words

Making words is a simple and easy-to-plan activity for Daily 5, literacy centers, seatwork, or homework.  One of the benefits of an assignment like the one in the picture above is students will differentiate the assignment INDEPENDENTLY.  Students working above grade level will make longer words. One page works for the entire class.
Cut out the letters at the bottom of the page.  Rearrange the letters to make new words.  This is beneficial for your extra support and enrichment student.  Bonus points for being hands on!
Are you a fan of interactive notebooks?  Students can choose words from their making words assignment for the foldable extension.
Need an easy November bulletin board?  Students use words from the Mayflower assignments to write a story on the suitcase accordian book.  The accordian book is a quick and easy bulletin board.
Do you have early finishers?  There are several extension assignments that you can give your students that finish early.
What type of making words activities
do your students like?

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Veterans Day Readers Theater Freebie

Veterans Day is next week. Does your school have special plans? You can incorporate my FREE Readers Theater - Veterans Day with your reading plans. I'm sure your students would enjoy performing this for other classes.

What are your favorite military themed books? I am going to mail one of the followers of my Facebook page some military books to use with their plans. Visit my Facebook page for a chance to win.

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Fluency that is NOT Teacher Directed

Fluency is an important components of reading, yet it is often neglected.  What type of activities could I plan that were NOT teacher directed?
To improve fluency, students need to read over and over which takes time.  Time is in short supply for most teachers.  Some parents listen to their children read at home, but not ALL.  How could I fix this problem to ensure ALL of my students were getting enough practice?  The answer was partner fluency checks.  You can try a free partner fluency check.
Teachers who downloaded the file above asked if I had more activities like the ones in the file.  I recently made a Kindergarten-1st grade Fluency Check file and a 2nd-3rd grade Fluency Check file.

Color Code the fluency cards by reading levels so you can quickly see the difference without looking at the bottom of the card.  Punch a hole and put the cards on a ring for easy storage.
The reading passages come in two formats - fluency cards and comprehension printables.  More formats means more times reading the same passage which improves fluency.
There are also comprehension signs.  Punch a hole and put the signs on a ring.  Use them to ask questions after a read aloud or with your small group.
Comprehension signs are perfect for quick checks after a read aloud. Put the comprehension signs on a ring.  Keep the ring where you read to your class.
Set up a literacy center using the signs and comprehension passages. This is a quick center to set up.

Reading the passages in different formats will improve students' fluency.  Partner fluency checks and literacy centers are NOT teacher directed activities.  Perfect fluency activities for busy teachers!

Kindergarten and 1st Grade Fluency Check 
Fluency and Comprehension Passages

2nd and 3rd Grade Fluency Check 
Fluency and Comprehension Passages

2nd and 3rd Grade Fluency Check 
Fluency and Comprehension Passages

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Having Fun with Math Videos

"This is fun" is my all time favorite compliment.  I know that when students are having fun while learning, they are are more engaged.  More engaged means less discipline problems for me.  A win-win for any teacher, right?

When an activity is fun, students take more risks and have less anxiety about what they are studying.  Of course, all teachers would like every lessons to be fun and engaging.  Unfortunately, teachers have a limited amount of time to plan lessons.

One way you can extend your math lessons and make math fun is with videos. Students benefit from hearing math concepts a second time, presented a different a way. Jason @ Common Core 4 Kids emailed me this week to tell me about a special promotion. Your school can get a site wide license for a full year for $25.  This promotion ends November 3rd.
I have written about Common Core 4 Kids math videos before. Math was a difficult subject for Jason, the owner of the site. This has been his motivation for finding a way to help students. Jason just added a new 3D math game that will strengthen students' skills. With first player games and videos in the games, students can revisit the videos again and again. Students learn concepts through videos and visuals with audio.  Students will answer questions about topics like place value blocks, clocks, and much more.

Would you like to check out this site?  You can get a 15 day free pass

This blog post is sponsored by 
Common Core 4 Kids.

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Behavior Tips: Grab their attention!

Back to School, Spring Fever, March Madness . . . . if you are a teacher, you realize that there are more than four seasons. Halloween is the beginning of the "Do Whatever it Takes" season. This is the time of the school year when students are comfortable with each other, comfortable with you, and "let their hair down" behavior-wise. This is also the time of the year when you are trying to teach the bulk of your curriculum.

When you began teaching, managing behaviors was at the top of the list of important skills to acquire. Your students must listen to you in order to learn. How creative are you when it comes to "Do whatever it takes" season?
"All eyes on me" takes on a whole new meaning when you set up a system like the one in the picture above.  I found these eyes at Party City. Grab them at an after Halloween sale.  The blow up eye would be a good reminder or point to it (visual cue) when you say, "all eyes on me".  The little eye "balls" would be a fun reward system.  Pass out one to students who are modeling the desired behavior.  When all of the balls are passed out, model students earn a reward - eat lunch in the classroom.  Model students will turn the balls back in and the incentive game begins again.
Halloween supply stores sell werewolf ears like the ones in the picture. The next time your students are having a particularly difficult time with listening, put on a pair of werewolf ears.  Once the laughter dies down, your students will see the werewolf ears and remember that they need to listen and follow directions. Visual cues can work wonders!
Party supply stores are also a great place to find fidgets. Some of the fidgets are really cheap, too. I found the stretchy bracelet for forty cents at Party City.

What is your favorite behavior tip?

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What's on your Bookshelf? FREE Book List

Why do some students wander around during free reading time?  Do you have one of those students?  He flips through the tubs of books but can't ever find something that he wants to read.  Seeing all of these tubs of books in many classroom libraries can be overwhelming for some students. How can you help these students use their reading time more effectively?
Do you have a bookshelf like the one in the picture? I like using a bookshelf that shows the front cover of books to feature books about the theme or topic that I am teaching.  This type of bookshelf can help the overwhelmed student (O.S.). Use this shelf as a "one stop shopping"  place for books for your O.S.

  • Bookshelf should be small.  It is better if it shows front cover like the one in the picture.
  • Rotate books on this bookshelf frequently - at least twice a month.
  • Have a wide selection of books: fiction, non-fiction, grade level above and below.

I made a PDF of books with links for October themed books for you.

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