Home Depot can help you with Common Core Standards!


Did you know that your local Home Depot store can help you document Common Core standards?  I didn't either until Jennie Potter, one of my followers, gave me the tip.  In my Common Core Documentation kit, I give you ideas for documenting the C.C. standards which includes asking your parents for 3 composition books.  Jenn told me that Home Depot will cut the books in half for you.  Isn't that great!  I went to my local Home Depot today and they were more than happy to help.  Here's a picture of the end result:

Click HERE to read about my first post about documenting CCSS.

In my original plan, I told you that the magazine organizer (on the left)  that I bought at Target dollar spot would hold 10 books.  If you cut your books in half you can fit 25 of them in a basket (on the right). I think I bought this basket at Wal-Mart a couple of years ago.

Here's a revised parent note, which is included with the kit, asking for 2 books instead of 3.

The Documenting Common Core Standards kit is available in grades K-5.  Click below to go to my store if you would like to purchase a kit:

Once you click on my store there is a search option that you can use to find the grade level you want.

On March 28, I began a series called "3 Cheers".  Please read that post before you read the next part of this post.

Today I would like to introduce you to the dynamic duo of our V.R. (virtual reality) faculty.  Although this duo is new to our "staff" they can be counted on to add fun and merriment to our group.  Have you met Stevi and Tamara of 2 Crazy Texas Teachers?  When I asked for their favorite unit.  Tamara said, "I love teaching the farm unit to my kids because it's just so much fun and has endless possibilities."  I personally lived and taught for 13 years in south Texas, and I can tell you from first hand experience, Texans enjoy having fun which shows in their lessons.  Their farm unit is so large they had to divide it into two units.  Click here to visit their store:  TPT.

Professionally speaking, one of the most well-traveled members of our "faculty" is Arlene of LMN Tree.  Arlene is a military wife so she is well-versed in being the new kid on the block.  She has taught in Virginia, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, New York, and Alaska.  She is your "go to" person if you need tips in Title I schools, ESL students, struggling readers or any grade level.  In Alaska, she was honored by being named the State Teacher of the year.  Her travels and experience in teaching in a wide variety of states enrich the lessons that she writes.  Her current best seller are:  How will I know when it's Spring?  and  The Three Frogs.  


Goal Setting

If you have recently noticed chewed fingernails, teachers rubbing their neck, and the sound of "plop, plop, fizz, fizz . . ."., you know it must standardized test time.  These type of tests have both pros and cons. Stress and anxiety are definitely listed in the cons column. Goal setting should be listed in the pro column. This is a skill that I teach, reteach, and enforce all year. Goal setting not only impacts test scores, it is a skill your students will use for the rest of their lives.  
When introducing the topic, remind students that they have already heard their parents set goals.  Mom and dad call their goals, New Year's Resolutions.  Ask them to think of a short term and long term goal for school and at home.  Brainstorm with your class strategies for achieving their goal.  Have a weekly goal check-in.  Part of goal setting is learning to be reflective.  What is working?  What isn't working?  What do I need to change?  My students' short term school goals all revolved around raising their grades.  For some it was a specific subject, for other students they wanted to make the honor roll.  One of the strategies that we incorporated into our schedule was goal check-in.  Fifteen minute before we began Friday Fun Day, I gave my students their weekly folders with their graded work.  Students looked over their graded work.  Any assignment that had a grade that was lower than what they set for their goal was set aside.  Next, students put a post-it notes on the assignments in the below-goal stack of work.  They looked over their work to see why their grade wasn't meeting their expectations.  Sometimes it was something simple like rushing through work, adding instead of subtracting math problems, or writing was so sloppy I couldn't read it.  Students drew a line across the middle of the post-it note.  On the top half they wrote why their assignment didn't meet the goal.  On the bottom half they wrote how they will correct the problem so it won't happen in future assignment.  Some of their solutions were quite creative.  There were some great solutions when students weren't understanding the assignments.  Some students gave up recess time to come in for extra help.  Others made a goal to use the website IXL for XXX number of minutes a day to help with math facts. I even had a couple of industrious ones meet at the public library after school to help each other.  Parents loved how their children were taking ownership of their grades.  They weren't having as many "discussions" about grades as they were before. When students finished their reflection post-its about their graded work, they brought their stack of work to me so we could have a quick conference about it.  Students quickly learned fewer assignments to reflect about equals more Friday Fun Day time.
Here is a free goal planning sheet that you can use with your class:

Click HERE to download it or click on the picture.


Common Core Aligned: Estimation Jar Grades K-3

Estimation jar lessons are one of those activities that can be organized many different ways.  Plus you can teach a variety of skills with a jar.  Who knew a jar could be so useful in the classroom?

I found this jar at Target today for $3.68.  It is a gallon size Ball Mason Jar.  It almost Easter, so I bought some plastic eggs and egg-shaped gum balls.  They are colorful and add seasonal fun to any lesson.

If you want to add measurement to the lesson, bring in other sized jars such as pint and quart size jars.  One day put the same number of gum balls in each of the jars.  Of course, the smaller jar will look fuller.  Will students estimate a larger number if the jar looks fuller?

An estimation jar lesson is a lesson that can be taught a variety of ways.  There are more Common Core standards that can be used with this activity.  I included a few of the ways that I've used with my classes in the packet.

 Click below to get your FREE copy of my Estimation Jar packet.


Buggy for Reading - aligned with CCSS


This is my first series of packets that I have aligned with the Common Core Standards.  Hopefully, with the C.C. standards being listed, it will save you time to work on other things that are on your "to do" list.  This time of year, it seems like the "to do" list gets longer and longer.

Each packet has 5 reading sheets that each have 5 sentences.  Students will read the sentences the first time at school.  At the bottom of the sheet is a rating scale.  Teachers will rate the students' fluency the first time.  Then students take home the reading sheet for homework.  Students will read the sentences twice for their parents.  Parents will rate their child's fluency the next two times.  A parent note explaining the homework is included.  Plus, there is a happy note to give your students when they complete all 5 reading sheets. This is a great documentation tool!

Also included are 5 writing activities that can be used as a literacy center, handwriting assignment, or homework.  Students will trace and then copy the 5 sentences they read on the reading sheet and write their own sentence, plus illustrate it.

There are 40 word cards in the Pre-Primer packet and 52 word cards in the Primer packet included as well.  These may be copied and glued on construction paper or notecards.  Punch a hole at the top and put on a shower curtain ring.  Students will have their own mini-word wall that is also manipulative.  Perfect for your tactile-kinesthetic learners.  You may also make 2 copies of the word cards on card stock, cut apart to make a memory game.  Perfect literacy center to strengthen visual memory and sight word knowledge.

I included a Teacher Tip sheet.  The first tip is called a rainbow reader.  I cut strips from colored, plastic folders that you can see through.  Here are some pictures:

It's a fun and easy way to add a little color to your lessons!

Another tip is using a secret-decoder.  You tape 2 notecards together, but leave a space between them.  You use 2 pieces of tape, one on the front and another on the back.  The 2 pieces of tape stick together to make a clear strip.  Students cover their words with the notecards and read the words that are in the clear strip.  This helps those young readers who have trouble with directionality.   It also helps dyslexic students, too.

Here is a preview of the reading page from the Pre-Primer packet:

Here is a preview of the writing page from the Pre-Primer packet:

Here is a preview of the parent note which explains the directions of the homework assignment:

Here is a preview of the word cards that can be made into a center:
To add a little color, copy on neon card stock.

The overview sheet lists the Common Core standards for each activity.  The kindergarten C.C. standards are highlighted in blue.  The 1st grade C.C. standards are highlighted in yellow.

This is a happy note you can give your students when they complete all the assignments.  This is from the Pre-Primer packet.

Click below if you would like to purchase this packet:


This packet is on the Pre-Primer level. 
Click on the picture to visit my TPT store. 

 Each level will have a different insect as its mascot so you can easily tell the level of the assignments.  

This packet is on the Primer level.  There is a book #1 and book #2.

Click on the picture to visit my TPT store.
Click on the picture to visit my store.

*Download the preview for Primer Book #2 at TPT to get a free sample.

Click on the picture to visit my TPT store.



Teacher Invention & Earth Day

Jennifer @  Best Practices 4 Teaching is having a linky party.  She said . . .

OK...we are heading into the part of the year where the kids...and teachers!!...get SPRING FEVER!!!  So, I wanted to do something that we could all get a chuckle from!!

The theme for this Linky Party is:  If you could invent something FANTASTICALLY WONDERFUL that would help teachers everywhere, what would it be? 

My inventions have more to do with how I deal with stress and one of my pet peeves.  I always get knots in my shoulders so I would love to have a chair with magic fingers. It would be like those recliners at the mall that gives massages.  You always go away relaxed and refreshed after spending a little time in one.  Imagine at the end of meeting with your reading groups feeling more refreshed than when you began.   

One of my pet peeves is the sound of a pencil sharpener.  UGH!  If I never heard that sound again it would be too soon.  So, I would invent the pencil that never needs sharpened.  Before someone leaves me a message about mechanical pencils and pop-up pencils . . . yes I have tried those but they don't work very well with the little ones.

I don't know about your feet, but my feet are sore at the end of the day.  I think I must have tried every brand of shoe on the market at some point.  I read somewhere to switch shoes in the middle of the day.  I tried that too.  It helped a little, but not enough. My dream shoes would make you feel like your are walking on clouds.  
Surely, you have some irritations, frustrations, or pet peeves that you would like to fix.  What would you invent to solve them?  Click below and link up!

Leanne @ Teaching Tales is hosting an Earth Day linky party and I'm joining the fun!  Here's my Earth Day lesson:

Click below to join the fun!


Common Core Standards - Documentation Kit

Hot off the presses!  My C.C. standards documentation kits are my latest additions to my TPT store.   Little did I realize when I began this, how utterly time consuming it would be.  The packet is only 16 pages, but it was labor intensive work.  Usually I can make a 15 - 20 page lesson packet in short period of time.  But, when you look at how many words are on a typical lesson worksheet compared to a page of standards then you will understand why it was so time consuming.  

Below are the packets I've made so far.  If this is something you would be interested in purchasing from my TPT store, leave a comment with your grade level/email and I will work on that grade levels next.  I will also send you an email when I finish the packet to notify you.

Here's a sneak peek of what it looks like:

Teacher checklist:  MATH & LANGUAGE ARTS

Documentation Book labels for writing, reading, & math.

Parent note asking for composition books.

Labels for language arts and math.

Click on the picture below for the 1st or 2nd grade packets at my TPT store:


Standardized Test Tip & The Lightning Thief


Have you ever been surprised when you got your students' test results back?  Have you had students that you knew were very bright, but their scores didn't reflect this ability?  It's frustrating, right?  Sometimes it's an issue of test anxiety.  Other times, I found it is a matter of rushing through their work.  These students remind me of the cartoon character, Speedy Gonzales.

I tried different strategies to slow these students down and pay attention to the details with little success.  Those little words like "not" in a questions make a big difference when taking a standardized test.  The strategy that I've had the best results with is called steal and slide.  When answering comprehension questions, students steal words from the question and slide these words into their answer.  This makes them pay closer attention to details. When I taught 3rd grade, my students answered all of their questions - social studies chapter question, science question, and reading comprehension questions with the steal and slide method  When I moved down to 1st grade,  my students learned to answer questions orally using steal and slide.  Preparing students to take standardized test should be shared responsibility.  This is one way lower grade teachers can help prepare students.

If you are interested in trying this method, click on the picture below.  This packet has questions about The Lightning Thief.  Students can practice the steal and slide method with the questions from this packet.

This example is included.  The highlighted words are the words stolen from the question which I slid into the beginning of the answer.


For more great idea, click on the picture below.

Freebie Fridays

I am linking up with Jennifer at Empowering Little Learners.  She is hosting a linky party to share information about high stakes testing.  Be sure to check out the differences in how states across America test students.  Click below: