Learn to Read

Netflix, Grading, and Tips

Grading papers is like laundry, a never ending task.  If you skip a week, the stack gets bigger and more overwhelming.  I have found a few things that help me tackle tasks that are less-than-fun, especially when you are doing it on the weekend.

Cool supplies can make the job more fun.  Scratch 'n sniff stickers, sparkly stickers, stamps, and different markers and pens will make your go time go by quicker.  Follow my FB page the week this post is published because I plan to give away a box of markers, pens, stickers, and stamps to one of my followers.

Do you have students that rush through their work and make careless mistakes.  Staple a "speeding ticket" on their paper.  Parents seeing the speeding ticket and students redoing their assignment should help with this problem.

Encourage top quality work by showing your students what you consider high quality work. One easy way to display work is using the twine with clothes pins that is shown in the picture above.  I purchased this at Christmas time.  It was supposed to be used to hang up greeting cards.  Teachers can repurpose it to display students' work.

You can also motivate students by stapling a reward to an assignment that is top quality.  The banana bucks are easy to attach and fun to use if you have a jungle, zoo, or monkey theme.
Put on comfy clothes and binge watch your favorite shows will make your time go by quicker.  The following are some of my favorite shows to watch on Netflix or Amazon Prime:
  • Cover Affairs
  • Hunted
  • The Cleaner
  • Homeland
  • The Americans
  • The Unit
  • Madam Secretary
  • Scandal
  • The Closer
  • The Guardian
  • The Glades
  • The Good Wife
  • Blue Bloods
  • Brotherhood
  • Lie to Me
  • Graceland
  • House
  • Blacklist
  • Chicago Code
  • Legends
Do you have a favorite show(s) to watch when you grade papers?

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

Brag Tags, Movement, 5 Senses, and Emojis

Emojis, emojis, emjois . . . everywhere you look are emojis!  I found these two emoji pillows at a party supply store for $3.  I thought they could be used in the classroom.  Teachers could:

  • Choose 2 students who are good listeners during circle time to hold the emojis.
  • Play the quiet game during inside recess. Choose one girl and one boy to lead the game.  The girl will choose a quiet girl to give the emoji pillow to, switch seats,  and the new girl will walk around looking for another quiet girl.  Boys will do the same thing with the boy emoji pillow - if you have 2 pillows.

Build a positive community with brag tags.  You can reward your:
  • Super Student 
  • Helpful Chum
  • Positive Pal
  • Whiz Kid
  • Hard Worker
I just added colorful and blackline brag tags to my Behavior 101 and my Bundle.  If you already purchased one of those, you may go to "my purchases" to download it again to get the new pages for free. 

Have you been to Target Dollar Spot lately? I found these emoji sticky flags and notes this week.  These would be perfect for writing notes to your students.
Do you want a challenge?  See how many lessons or activities you can incorporate the sense of smell. I found the smelly things in the picture at Wal-Mart.  
  • Markers:  Add to your writing center.  Students can use the markers to highlight or circle the vowels, blends, or other skills that you are working on.
  • Mini-pens:  Add these to your word work center for scent-sational work!
  • Lipgloss:  You can put a dot of smelly gloss on the back of students' hands when you catch them with "scent-sational behavior".

Do you have a wiggly class this year?  It helps if you can give them opportunities to get up and move.  One way you can do this is with a reward system.  I found this bee bowl at Safeway.  You can set this up as a team point system, class system, or do it for individuals who need to move more.  When you catch a team, class, or individual following the rules choose a student to put a flower in the bee bowl. 

I love using a variety of sounds to manage movement.  Keep a small bell like the one in the picture at your reading table.  You can:

  • Ring the bell once if your students' noise is too loud.  
  • Ring the bell twice if it is time to switch.
  • Ring the bell 3 times when it is time to clean up.

How do you manage your students' behavior?

The forms from this post can be found:
(click below)

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

Sort, Patterns,Graphing, and Fairy Tales

If you have taught for a few years, you probably have a few extra sets of calendar numbers, candles, and other small pictures like the ones above.  You might even be missing pieces from a set or not have enough for your current class.  Not a problem!

Gather a variety of small pictures like the ones in the picture.  I organized mine in a small plastic container with drawers like the one in the first picture.  I also added other fun stuff students could use for making patterns or graphs such as stamps and BINGO daubers.
The best thing about this math station is that it is open-ended.  You can make this a permanent station.  Change the pictures or stamps in the drawer when the season or month changes.  

Do you have a science unit about the sun and moon?  You can integrate math with your science unit using this station.

You can also use this math station to enrich your fairy tale unit.  The "jewels" on the sorting page are plastic rocks from Dollar Tree.

Do you have a station that is set up permanently?

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

Whale of a Sale, Deals, and Steals

Are you having oceans of fun this summer?  I have a little freebie for you that you can use at the beginning of the year.  Click HERE to download the ocean themed freebie.

I am joining some of my friends for a special ocean themed week of deals, steals, and sale.  Each will have the fun themes below.

Do you follow my Facebook page?  I will share my daily deal on my Facebook each day.  Be sure to comment or like posts so you will see my posts in your newsfeed and won't miss out on freebies or deals.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Teaching on a Budget

If you are a new teacher or are getting ready to student teach, you are probably wondering how you will ever get all that you need to set up a classroom.  Most experienced teachers remember that feeling very well.

My first year of teaching was in a private school making $26,259.71 - using an inflation calculator to convert to today's money so you can have an idea of my salary.  My student loans were more than my salary, a car that was on its last mile, a newlywed, and I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth.  I was born with a rusty spoon!  So, there was very little to spend on setting up my classroom.

When you have very little to spend, it takes some creativity and work on your part to get the most out of what you do have to spend.  In case you can relate to my first year of teaching, I thought I'd share a few of the things I found that stretched my money.

Drawer liner is an easy way to add color to your classroom and make it look cohesive.  I bought the roll in the picture at the Target Dollar Spot for $3.  You can use it to cover a wide range of things that you use in the classroom.  A tomato sauce can is the perfect size to hold crayons at your reading table.  Be sure to fold the drawer liner over the top so it will cover the sharp edges.

There is something magical about the power of a can of spray paint.  It can turn something headed for the trash dump into a sparkly "new found" treasure.  Best of all, you can use the paint color to pull your room together.  Use the color to enhance your theme and set the tone of your room.  I have a Pinterest board that has more ideas about this topic.  Follow the board because I plan to add more ideas to it before school begins.

It is very easy to see all of the Back to School sale flyers and feel like you need to stock up on everything under the sun.  Remember a few things:
  • Ask your administrator, secretary, or teacher on your team if your students will bring school supplies.  If so, ask for a copy of the supply list.  Not all of your students will bring 100% of the supplies, but this will give you a place to start.
  • Ask your administrator, secretary, or teacher on your team if the school will provide any type of budget and/or supplies.  If so, find out the details.  
    • Are you responsible for ordering the supplies?
    • Do you get the supplies from a central supply closet?
    • Is there a procedure for doing this?
  • Ask your administrator, secretary, or teacher on your team if the P.T.A. / P.T.O. (parent-teacher association / organization) provides funds for classroom teachers.  If so, ask for the details.
    • When do teachers get the funds?
    • Are the funds given to the team or individual teachers?
    • Are teachers given a lump sum amount of money?
    • Are teachers expected to purchase the supplies first and wait to be reimbursed?
  • Are you interested in writing a proposal for Donor's Choose? Ask your administrator before you begin.
  • Does your school have a community (company) partner that provides needed supplies?  
  • Are there funds for new teachers?  Some principals set aside funds to help new teachers.
  • School counselors will often have extra supplies for students who do not have resources to purchase them.
One of my favorite places to find supplies is thrift stores.  I find bags of goodies like the ones in picture above.  I assume a retired teacher donated them.  I find many staplers, tape dispensers, 3 hole paper punch there, too. 

My former school's P.T.A. made a giant wishing well out of butcher paper and hung it near the office.  The P.T.A. asked teachers and staff members to put post-its notes with our name and items we "wished" we had.  One item per post-it so parents who wanted to be our fairy godparents could take the post-it off the well and purchase the needed resource.  This prevented duplicates.  We were asked to vary the price range of what we "wished" for - something that parents could supply for free or very little (toilet paper rolls or egg cartons) to something a little pricey like an electric pencil sharpener.  
I made a sign you can hang or put on your table at Back to School Night.  There is also a list of items that you can use or you could try the post-it system like my P.T.A.  Sometimes I wait to do this at Parent-Teacher Conferences because parents are a little overwhelmed at the beginning of the year.  

Click here to download the Wishing Well sign.

Do you have any tips for teaching on a budget? 

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

Brag Tags & Goal Setting

Back to school means time to teach your new class your rules and procedures. Do you use brag tags?  You can use brag tags to motivate your students. You can incorporate goal setting along with these procedures and use brag tags as a reward.

Introduce the goal (procedure) to your class.  In the picture is a desk goal sign.  Have students model what the goal looks or acts like.  

There are also blank goal signs so you can personalize them to fit your class needs.  Later in the year, you may want to revisit this when your student begin falling out of their chairs, rocking back in their chairs, not pushing their chairs in, or have messy desks.  Goal setting can be used throughout the year to fine-tune expectations.

Attach brag tags to popsicle stick or tongue depressor.  Use these during your lessons when a student needs a reminder of the goal.  These make great visual cues.
There are different ways you can display brag tags. Hang brag tags on curtains rings like the ones in the picture above.  I hung them on a push pin with a hook.  Above the hook is students' assigned number.  This is a easy display to make.  You can buy 24 metal shower curtain rings for $1 at Dollar Tree.  If you use calendar numbers instead of names you can use this same bulletin board every year.
Do you get a sad report when you pick your class up at specials or lunch?  Attach a brag tag or two to your clipboard.  I'm sure the teacher or support staff holding up one of these will motivate your students to show positive behavior.
How do you store your brag tags?  There are many different ways:  tool box, notebox, or in ziplock bags like the picture above.  You can punch a hole in the corner and connect the bags with a ring.

Would you like to see more about this?

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

Value in Observations: Student Teachers and Veterans

Many first year teachers, are surprised at the number of details their cooperating teacher had taken care of, without their knowledge, while they were a student teacher.  These details make themselves known during the first year on the job.  New teachers usually find out about these forgotten details at the most inconvenient times their first year. 

Teacher preparation programs vary from college to college and state to state.  First year teachers will never feel completely prepared for all of the duties and details that a teaching job includes, but I do think there are some lessons that should be included with all teacher preparation programs.


Future teachers need to have hours in the trenches - real classrooms - every semester of college.  Don't wait to observe classrooms a semester or two before student teaching.  Students interested in becoming teachers should take an introduction to education class their freshman year. This class should include at least 10 hours of observation in a classroom. It would be helpful if the observation were divided into 5 hours in a primary class and 5 hours in an intermediate grade classroom for elementary majors.  Having field based experiences each semester has many benefits:

  • Students will get a first hand view of what the job of a teacher is like on a day-to-day basis.  Is this something they want to do?  It is much better to decide this is not the job for them instead of after investing three years of program.  Students may feel pressured to complete a program that isn't right for them if the observations occur later in the program.   Teaching is hard enough when you have a passion for the job.  
  • Many teachers will give college students copies of the lesson that they observe.  This is a great way to begin their teacher files.  
    • Future teachers never know what grade they will teach some day.
    • Teachers often switch grade levels during the first few years of their career.  Having materials that include a wide range of grade levels will be very helpful.
    • These activities will be useful to help students in their future class who are working below or above grade level.

Other countries support their teachers by giving them time to observe their colleagues.  These countries realize there is value in seeing work in action.  To watch a teacher at your school or in your district teach the curriculum that you're teaching has real valuable.

I was fortunate to work for an administrator who believed in this.  We had recently adopted new curriculum and was a little stressed about it.  He arranged substitutes for us and spoke to another administrator so we could observe a team at another school.  Each of us observed a different teacher for half a day.  The colleagues were nice enough to answer our questions during their prep periods.  Then we went back to our school and met for half a day to discuss what we observed.

Guess what all of us were looking for in these observations? We wanted to see the organization and classroom management of the new curriculum.

  • How did the teachers organize the materials?  
  • How did the teacher distribute materials?
  • How did they decide what to take a grade on? 
We were all veteran teachers yet gained so much from observing our colleagues.  Doesn't it make sense that future teachers would gain just as much if not more from doing similar observations?

Pin it and save it!

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE.

Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Teacher from the Black Lagoon - Mike Thaler

Do you have a favorite author or series?  I have quite a few series and authors that I love to share with students.  The Black Lagoon series by Mike Thaler is a wonderful series because the books can be easily incorporated throughout the year.

  • Back to School:  Share the books and introduce the members of your school community.
  • Appreciation Week:  Read the Principal, School Nurse, Cafeteria Worker, etc. when it is the week to show appreciation for that person or group.
  • Community Helpers:  Add these books to your community helper lessons.
  • Sub Plans:  Perfect for sub plans because they aren't seasonal.

There are many different activities in my Lagoon Sub Plan file.  Choose the ones you want for your emergency plans. Then use the extras for your Back to School and Appreciation Week plans.  
The making words assignment in the picture above can also be used as a center or small group activity like the picture below.
There is a making word assignments for: teacher, principal, and cafeteria worker.
Read The Cafeteria Worker from the Black Lagoon before your nutrition lesson.  This can either be used as your science lesson with your emergency sub plans, during cafeteria appreciation week, or with a nutrition unit.

Below is a list of what is included with this file. Some of the pages are EDITABLE in Powerpoint.

The activities included in this file include:
Pg. 2-4 Teacher tips
Pg. 5 Inside recess
Pg. 6-8 Class procedures
Pg. 9-10 How we go home
Pg. 11-12 Class schedule
Pg. 13-14 Class chart
Pg. 15-16 Morning Message and answer key
Pg. 17-20 Word of the Day: worksheet and 3 slides
Pg. 21-22 Reading passages and answer key
Pg. 23-25 Word Work: Making Words
Pg. 26-27 Syllable count and answer key
Pg. 28-29 Writing: Word bank, writing page
Pg. 30-32 Fruit cards and ABC order wksh.
Pg. 33 Writing: Sentence - Draw and Illustrate Foldable
Pg. 34-35 List maker
Pg. 36 Letter writing template
Pg. 37 Key events: where, when, why, how
Pg. 38 Beginning, Middle, and End
Pg. 39 Compare stories: The Teacher from the Black Lagoon and The Principal from the Black Lagoon
Pg. 40 Compare stories: The Cafeteria Lady from the Black Lagoon and The School Bus Driver from the Black Lagoon
Pg. 41 Compare stories: The Teacher from the Black Lagoon and __________.
Pg. 42-49 Small Group Lesson: Phonemic Awareness
Pg. 50-51 Let’s Write: rhyme
Pg. 52-53 Let’s Write: onset
Pg. 54-55 Place Value and answer key
Pg. 56-57 Addition: Two Digits and answer key
Pg. 58-59 Addition: Three Digits and answer key
Pg. 60-61 Telling Time: Quarter Hour and answer key
Pg. 62-63: Compare Numbers: Sums of Addition Single Digit Problems and answer key
Pg. 64-65: Compare Numbers: Sums of Addition Double Digit Problems and answer key
Pg. 66-67: Science: Nutrition – Group Healthy and Non-healthy foods and answer key
Pg. 68: Draw and Write: Favorite lunch
Pg. 69-70: Thank you note – color and blackline
Pg. 71: Sub Report: How was your day?
Pg. 72-73 Lesson Plans template
Pg. 74-76 Assignment cards

The following are EDITABLE in POWERPOINT:
--Helpful information form – same as PDF
--Helpful information form: The graphic boxes are blank so you can personalize it.
--Class procedures: same as PDF
--Class procedures: The graphic boxes are blank so you can personalize it.
--How we go home: color and blackline
--Our schedule: color and blackline – same as PDF
--Our schedule: color and blackline – no table so you can personalize it to fit your needs
--Class chart – color and blackline – same as PDF
--Class chart – color and blackline – no table so you can personalize it to fit your needs
--Lesson Plans template
--Assignment cards

Looking for more sub plans?  Check them out HERE.

Do you follow my Facebook page?  I have been choosing teachers to send boxes of books that are already taped and leveled.

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

Reading Motivation: FREEBIE, Graphic Novels, Magazines

Have you ever had a student (or two or three) that was a perfectly capable reader, yet was not a highly motivated reader? Reluctant readers may be competent readers because of their lessons at school.  But, there is only so much guided practice that a teacher can provide for fluency because of lack of time. Eventually, the reluctant reader's lack of practice (reading for pleasure at home) will impact their fluency skills. When these students enter older grades, with more reading material to cover in a shorter period of time, their limited fluency skills will be a source of frustration.

There are a few things I have found that motivate this type of student.

 Does your reluctant reader have a limited attention span?  If so, he or she may be overwhelmed if there are too many words on a page.  Try books like graphic novels or non-fiction books.  These books have small reading areas with clear start-stop places.  This makes these types of books more motivating to read.  Eventually the reluctant reader reads so many of these that his or her fluency skills improves, builds stamina, and graduates to chapter books
Magazines are another good strategy to use with reluctant readers.  Magazines work the same way as graphic novels and non-fiction books. Magazines do not overwhelm students with short attention spans.  Magazines are also an easy literacy center to set up.  Plus, I have a free sample for you.

Do you follow my Facebook page?  I have been choosing teachers to send boxes of books that are already taped and leveled.

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

Reluctant Reader Tips: Shark Week

Are you looking for reading ideas to use with your reluctant readers?  I've had some students through the years that I felt like I could stand on my head, do a juggling act, and they were still less-than-enthusiastic about reading.  

How are your books organized?  Some teachers are required to organize their books by levels.  Other teachers are given more flexibility. 

I found many reluctant readers were not motivated when books are organized by reading levels.  These are usually the students who are not motivated by moving their star on the A.R. chart or any other reading incentive program.  These systems was full of arbitrary numbers to them.

Books about topics that they were interested in seemed to be the key to motivating this type of student.  I had more success when I organize by books by a wide range of topics.  I used topics like castles, space, desert, time periods, Superheroes, animals - specific types.  

If you are required to organize books by level, you can set up a few "featured book areas" like the one in the picture below. 

Do you have trouble engaging your reluctant reader when you meet with your small group?  Use their interest to motivate them.  Sharks and other ocean creatures are motivating themes with students.

I found these manipulatives at a party supply store.  Sound boxes are a quick and easy warm up.  Great for your phoneme segmentation intervention group, too.  Get a free copy of it.

These gummy candies are fun to use, if your district allows you to use food with your lesson.  I found these at Walgreens.

Want to get your students excited about their reading assignments?  Use fun school supplies like smelly markers.  Suddenly, the assignment isn't work anymore!

You can find a variety of smelly markers.  Some can even be purchased individually.  I found the skinny marker on a clearance section of Staples for 25 cents.

You can download the Shark Reading passage plus other free activities on the link below:
Ocean: Shark themed freebie

I am joining some of my friends for Shark Week Blog Hop.  Be sure to visit each blog for tips and a freebie.  Hop over to Andrea @This Literacy Life  for some fun ideas.

Do you follow my Facebook page?  I have been choosing teachers to send boxes of books that are already taped and leveled.

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE.

Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.