Organizing your stuff

Today, I am joining the Top Teachers Blog Swap and Hop. I hope you enjoy our hop and get to know some new bloggers!  I guest blogging on Jennifer at Best Practices 4 Teaching today.  Be sure to hop over there because I have a free packet for you!

My guest blogger today is April @ A Modern Teacher.  You probably met April during the Teacher Appreciation Jackpot.  April was one of our helpful coordinator. 

Who us?  We have odd-shaped treasures? Naw!  Our files fit nicely in a file folder in the file cabinet.  Right next to our always-clean-nothing-ever-on-it guided reading table.  Ha!  If you are anything like me, you have a ton of these 'where do I put this' treasures!  Doesn't fit in a file folder, the shoe box is too narrow, the tub from the dollar store is too narrow and the giant tub is too deep--some things just get smushed in there. 

Cue your local pizzeria.  Pizza? I know...strange....this idea came from my mom many moons ago and works! Thanks Mom! 

Use pizza boxes to store some of those odd-shaped treasures! 

Here is why I like them:

they are free (either ask for them as a donation or use the ones your pizza comes in or buy them for a small charge)

they are bigger than 8 1/2 x 11

they are not too deep

they stack well (as long as nothing too heavy is in them)

they are easily portable (can grade the odd shaped stuff anywhere)

I just took some contact paper (and you don't have to use that--especially if the boxes are new and white) and pretty-ed (that isn't a word-sorry) them up!  Then I added a label (because you gotta add a label--get yours at the end of this post for free) and voila--I have a spot for all those odd-shaped treasures!

A Modern Teacher DIY Storage

You could use the boxes for:

seasonal items

holiday projects

student projects

lesson plans that require examples that just won't fit anywhere else


A Modern Teacher DIY Storage

I'm sure there are a ton more ways you could use them...any more ideas?

Love to hear them!

A Modern Teacher DIY Storage

Here are some free labels that fit with the pizza boxes.  These are for your seasonal boxes.  I just print, laminate, and tape with clear packaging tape.

A Modern Teacher Free Seasonal Labels

A Modern Teacher Free Seasonal Labels

Thanks Michelle for letting me visit! I am super excited about being here.


A Modern Teacher Blog

A Modern Teacher Blog

April is the creator of A Modern Teacher Blog. After 11 years of teaching, she stays busy with her new baby and 3 year old. She blogs about DIYs, Craftivities, and Creative Fun for the elementary teacher. April is passionate about helping teachers stay creative in the classroom.


Students who have given up

If you teach long enough, you will eventually get a student who has given up on school.  We'll call this student, Child X.  Child X doesn't follow the rules and couldn't care less what the consequence are when he/she breaks a rule. Nothing you've tried, including an office referral, has fazed this student.  What can you do with a child that has given up?

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to substitute for a vice-principal.  It was quite an eye-opening experience.  You know how we as teachers feel like non-teachers don't really understand the difficulties of our job.  I can tell you that after having a very small glimpse of the life of a vice-principal, we as teachers don't know all of the challenges our administrators face on a daily basis.  Sitting behind the big desk is very stressful.  The experience did teach me some valuable lessons that I was able to take back to the classroom.  One of the best lessons I learned was dealing with students who have given up.  I think I was able to reach these students in a new way because I was an outsider.  The students could tell me what they really think, rather than censoring their thoughts.  The story I heard over and over was "my teacher doesn't like me" or "nothing I do is ever good enough".  My first question I asked them after they told me this was, "what have you done that would make a teacher not like you." They need to take ownership for their behavior. After some hesitation on the students part, they eventually began listing all of the rules that they broke.  I explained to them that their teacher likes them, but do not like the way they behave.  I then showed them my copy of The Berenstain Bears Forget Their Manners and asked if they remembered this book.  Keep in mind the students I was working with were 4th and 5th grade boys.  They looked at me like I had grown two heads.  Eventually they admitted they remembered their first grade teacher reading this book.  We discussed what happened in the story.  Brother and Sister Bear decide they are going to go overboard with their manners. They will be EXTRA polite.   I challenged them to an experiment.  I told them to be EXTRA polite for a week to see if this would make a difference in how others treated them.  We brainstormed ways to be extra polite.  They agreed to do things like use "ma-am" or "sir" with their teachers, look their teacher in the eye when speaking to him/her, offer to help classmates/teachers, and above all else follow the rules.  I told them that each day I would pop into their classroom to check on them.  At the end of the week, I spoke to the boys again and they agreed that they had a lot in common with Brother and Sister Bear.  Being extra polite was a good thing.  I'm convinced that some of these students who have given up act like this because they feel like they are a victim.  When they feel like no one likes them or they are never good enough, they are powerless.  When you encourage them to take ownership for their behavior, you empower them.


Measurement Math Center

Today I finished a new math measurement center.  Yipee!  I love that sense of completion.  I was just as happy when I finished cleaning our pantry as I am finishing a lesson.  I love being able to cross off something on my "to do" list. I guess I was in a summer-y mood when I made these lessons because it is ocean-themed.   The theme probably had to do with me listening to California Dreaming while I was creating the lessons.  It's a little ironic for me to listen to this song since I've lived in California the past two years.  

With this new center, students will practice their measurement skills by measuring different sea creatures to the nearest half inch.  There are 12 creatures to measure.  There are 2 sets of creatures.  One set has a black line drawn on the creatures so your beginning math students know where to measure.  The second set is the same creatures, but it doesn't have black lines.  You can easily differentiate this center by copying the creatures on different colored paper.  Let your students know which color cards they need to measure.  One set of cards have cards without lines and the other set has cards with lines.  You could even copy the answer sheet on different colors.  You could one group of students measure to the nearest inch and the other group measure to the nearest half centimeter.

Here are some creatures measurement cards with the black line:

Here are some creature measurement cards without the black line:

After measuring the creatures, students will record their answer on this sheet.  Each measurement card has a number to make it easier for the students to see where they record their answer on this sheet.
Advanced students can measure the width of the sea creatures in inches and centimeters.

There are 2 more assignments which can be used for homework or additional practice.  Each assignments has 2 versions - one with black lines showing students where to measure and one page without black lines.  Here is one of the additional assignments:

This cost $4 at my TPT store.

I also have  two more measurement centers.

Students will practice their measurement skills by measuring different dinosaurs to the nearest quarter inch.

Students will practice their measurement skills by measuring different pictures from Jack & the Beanstalk to the nearest quarter inch.


Permanent Center: Listening Center
Click on the picture

Do you feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it?  One way to give yourself a little extra time is by setting up permanent centers.  The format of permanent centers remain the same all year, only the content changes.  You save time by not having to explain the procedures each week, not getting interrupted during your small group lesson with the inevitable questions about the center, and by knowing what you're going to do with your permanent center(s), you save time planning.

PERMANENT CENTER - Language Arts:  Listening Center

Listen to a story online.  Below are a few websites you should bookmark.

After listening to the center, students complete the following assignment:

Freebie Fridays


Permanent Center: Math

Do you feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it?  One way to give yourself a little extra time is by setting up permanent centers.  The format of permanent centers remain the same all year, only the content changes.  You save time by not having to explain the procedures each week, not getting interrupted during your small group lesson with the inevitable questions about the center, and by knowing what you're going to do with your permanent center(s), you save time planning.

Math journals are great permanent centers.  This center can reinforce skills you've already taught, takes just a few minutes to set up, and also teaches writing skills as well as math skills.  There are many different math journal books on the market that you can choose from, but my favorite math journal prompt books are by Yvonne Crawford.  Yvonne has several different "Mathbooking", books with math journal prompts to choose from.

There are a minimum amount of supplies needed to set up this center.

To me, composition books work better than spiral notebooks.  It seems like someone's spirals always gets stuck on another student's book.  At the beginning of the year, assign each student a number.  Tape number labels on the end of the journals so your students can quickly find their journal.

To differentiate this assignment, put different assignments in different tubs.  Put a sticker on the tub and on the students' journals so your students will know which tub has their assignment.  You can easily change the sticker if your students needs to move to a different ability level later in the year.

You can use fun stickers to add a thematic touch to your math journal center.  These cute zoo animal stickers are from Oriental Trading.

Yvonne has several different "Mathbooking" and math glyph books that would be perfect for this center.  Here are a few examples to begin your year with.  You can click on the page of the sample page to get more information.
Sample page from Autumn Mathbooking
Level:  1st and 2nd grade
Price:  $3.00
Sample page from  Back to School Quick Common Core
Level:  5th grade
Price:  $2.50

Sample page from Back to School Mathbooking
Level:  1st and 2nd grade
Price:  $3

This is a book of math glyphs that would also work for this center.
This is a sample page from Back to School Math Goofy Glyphs.
Level:  3rd and 4th grade
Price:  $2.75

All of these math books and more can be found at Yvonne Crawford's TPT store.  Click HERE to visit her store.


Chronic Discipline Problem

Teri, a 5th grade teacher who read my Friday Fun Day post, asked some great questions.  I thought other teachers may wonder the same thing, so I'd write a post about how I've handled it in the past.

What do you do with the students who don't earn Friday Fun Day?  What do you do with students who don't mind the punishment?

I've tried different things with the ones who don't earn Friday Fun Day.  The first thing I do with these students is we talk about what happened that week that caused them not to earn F.F.D.  Here are a few suggestions:

*Sleep:  Do they need to go to bed earlier?
*Food:  Did they eat breakfast?  Some students can be irritable and have difficulty focusing if they have low blood sugar.  Sometimes doing something as simple as switching your class' snack time from afternoon to the morning will make a big difference.
*Changes at home:  Are there changes at home such as parent traveling for business, work schedule changes, relative in the hospital, etc. ?
*Do these students have at least one friend in your class?  Some students behavior stems from loneliness.  Everyone needs at least one friend.  Some of the strategies that I suggested in my post about teaching shy students work for students without a friend.
*Difficulty focusing:  I gave some tips to help with this on my ADHD tips post.

 Just like we as teachers are reflective with our teaching, students need to be guided in their thinking to reflect about their behavior.  This makes them take ownership and not feel like a victim (i.e. the teacher doesn't like me so there's nothing I can do).

After identifying some problems, we brainstorm strategies:  go to bed earlier, don't sit by the window in class if you daydream, use a timer to stay on task, etc.  If my students seem sincere with their suggestions, I will let them use their ideas in class.  Some students have asked to move their desk, make a chart for their desk,  wear headphones so they aren't as distracted, etc.  I love when they come up with the ideas because then they buy into it more.   After reflecting about their week, they complete the Missing Friday Fun Day report which they take home to their parents.  Usually "the talk" and filling out the form will take 30 minutes.  If there's extra time, I have them do some community service work such as cleaning my white boards, sharpening pencils, dusting shelves, etc.

As far as the students who don't mind their punishment . . . .  I like to catch them being good and then I add time to how many minutes our Friday Fun Day will be that week.  Example, "I like the way Jake came into the room quietly, got out his free read book, and read quietly."  If this is a student who is chronically in trouble, you will be surprised at how the other kids react, plus you just brightened your "Jake's" day.  Pretty soon, the other kids will begin pointing out the good that Jake is doing so they get more minutes of F.F.D.  I think it's the positive peer pressure that helps.

Do you have ideas or suggestions?

Behavior Management Tips

Have you ever had a puzzle kid?  You know, the student that you know something isn't quite right but you don't know what it is?  You have a whole bag of tricks for students that are diagnosed with X, Y, or Z, but how do you help your puzzle kids?  I see the puzzle kids as a challenge, a challenge that I love.  It's helpful to write down all of the issues and the strategies used.  Documenting what didn't work is just as important as documenting what does help.   It is stressful when my bag of tricks runs low and my teacher friends are out of ideas, too.  For those times, I found the perfect resource, The Pre-Referral Intervention Manual, or PRIM for short.  The book has any and every type of issue known to teachers.  You name it, this book has it.  This book gives helpful, practical suggestions that teachers can use with his/her puzzle students.  If your school doesn't have a copy of this book, I highly recommend you ask your principal to purchase it for your school.

Here are a couple of free printables that can you use to document behavior issues.
Do you feel like your classroom is in an episode of Welcome Back, Kotter?  You've got to give Mr. Kotter credit, Arnold Horshack would have tried the patience of a saint.   Do you have a Arnold Jr.?  Try using the visual cue below:
These forms are part of my Behavior 101 packet which is available at my TPT store which cost  $4.


How do children around the world go to school?

I let my fingers do the walking through pinterest when I stumbled across a great site that lends itself to a perfect beginning-of-school lesson.  This site is written in Dutch, but have no fear, you don't need to read Dutch to use this lesson.  If you use Chrome, you will use the translate button on the toolbar near the top of the page.  Here's a picture with an arrow pointing to the translation message:

Here's the translated version:


The slide show tells how children from various countries go to school.  It tells about children from Kenya, Colombia, Jordan, Nepal, the North Pole, Amazon rainforest, Sudan, and more.  There are times when we as teachers feel like we don't have all of the resources we would like to have.  It's very easy to look at neighboring school districts who have more resources and compare ourselves. Who doesn't want a Smart Board!  But, if you watch this slideshow, you will feel a new appreciation for all that you have at your job.

PLEASE NOTE:  At this time, the slideshow above is not available.  I found other resources for you.

Teaching Tips:
*Locate the different countries on a map or globe.
*Compare how your students go to school to the children from other countries with the venn diagram.

Click HERE to download this for FREE.


Using poetry to teach inferences

A great way to introduce inferences is with poetry!  Students use context clues to infer what goes in the blank.  I found a great website that has free poems for teachers.  These poems are fun and kid friendly.  I emailed the poet, Arden Davidson, to see if teachers could use the poems on her site.  She gave us permission to use these with your free lessons or lessons with your students and asked that you credit her for her work.  
Here's a freebie lesson I made with her poem, Flying Popcorn. This would be a great addition to your next poetry unit, compound word unit, or use it in November when you study Native Americans.

If you love the poems the poet, Arden Davidson wrote, you will want to purchase her poetry book which is sold on Amazon.

Playing Hopscotch on a Rubber Roof is Arden's first poetry book. 
You can purchase it by clicking on the picture above.