Thank you Volunteers - FREEBIE

Through the years, I have been fortunate to have some really amazing parent and grandparent volunteers.  I felt like my students benefitted in so many different ways from all of them.  At the end of the year, I knew I wanted to do something to thank them but what makes the best gift for a volunteer?  Through trial and error, I think I found the answer.  Hands down the favorite of my volunteers seemed to be the class book.  I have done different versions but the books worked the same way.  During journal time I have my students each write a page about the volunteer.  The students can write about a memory, how the volunteer helped our class or him/her personally.  You will be pleasantly surprised about what your students will write about your helpers.  I made a volunteer class book that is FREE for a short time.  There are two different versions.

This is the front cover of version #1.

This is the primary writing page.

This is the intermediate writing page.

For the front cover of the 2nd version, print off the letters above.  Each letter is on one 8 1/2 X 11 page.  To personalize it, let your students decorate the letters.  You are going to take a picture of your class and have 8 of your students hold the letters that say "thank you".  Glue the picture to the front cover page below:

This is the intermediate writing page.

This is the primary writing page.

Click HERE to download these volunteer thank you books.

I have a Pinterest board full of ideas for your volunteers.  Click on the picture below to check out this board.

Are you looking for ways to involve your parents in your classroom next year?

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Summer School Ideas - FREEBIES

School is already out for some of you!  Are you making plans for summer school?  Here are a few things to check out!

Does your school use Read Naturally?  You can currently sign up for a free trial HERE.   I have a FREEBIE documentation sheet:

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This vocabulary packet is aligned with 1-3 Common Core standards and is FREE for a short time.

While you are working with a small group of students, let your other students practice  their fluency skills with this FREE fluency check center.  

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Click HERE to find more fluency centers that are organized by reading levels: K-5.

Add a word ring to your writing center.  This packet is FREE.

An Idea Book is great for those students who suffer from writer's block.  This packet is FREE for a short time.

This estimation jar packet is aligned with K-3 Common Core standards and is FREE for a short time.


Late Work

Late work . . . it is on the top 10 list of teacher frustrations, right?  After teaching in different districts in different states, I have found there is no universal policy when it comes to late work.  My late work policy is one of those things that kept evolving the longer I taught.  When I first began teaching I was very legalistic.  If a student was absent two days, he or she had two days to make up the missing assignments when he or she returned to school.  I then tried extending it to one week to make up the missing work before the assignment became a zero.

Many times I caught myself telling the parent that I was "preparing the child for life" when the parent took issue with my policy.  But, then I had an epiphany when I really thought about the "preparing a child for life" statement.  What are the due dates that adults have?  Paying bills is a big one!  I can turn in my taxes and electric bills late.  Granted there is a penalty involved, but the IRS and the electric company are still happy to take my money.  There is even a grace period with most companies that allows you to pay your bill after the due date without a penalty.  But, by the same token, there is a line in the sand when the IRS says you have to pay or go to jail and the electric company says you have to pay or we'll turn off your electricity.  So, if I took this same "preparing for life" outlook and applied it to school, what would it look like? I decided that all work must be turned in before the last week of the grading period.  That is my line in the sand.  Beginning on Monday of the last week of the grading period, all missing assignments are marked as zeros.

The next part is a little tricky.  What type of penalties should be given for late work? If a student is absent, he or she should be given a week to make up missing work without a penalty.  I decided to dock all other missing assignment 10%.  I didn't feel like the student deserved full credit for the work, but if the penalty is too severe the student won't be motivated to do the work.  Students who have trouble turning in their work are usually either disengaged with school or they lack organizational skills.  Do I really want to make the student hate school even more by being legalistic?  I want them to complete the work and hopefully learn something in the process.  

Another thing you can do that is like real life is to have an amnesty day.  Even the IRS has an Amnesty Day. You can approach this two different ways.

Approach #1: Don't announce it ahead of time.  This is kind of like a pop quiz.  One day announce that today is "Amnesty Day".  Students are given class time to work on missing assignments.  Work turned in on that day will not be given the 10% penalty.  Here's the best part!  Students who don't have any missing assignments are given free choice as their reward.  They can work on computers, read a book, centers, etc.

Approach #2: Announce ahead of time that ___ day is going to be Amnesty Day so students can work on missing assignments at home.  All missing assignments turned in on Amnesty Day won't receive the 10% penalty.  Students who have cleared all of their missing assignments will get to participate in free choice.  I'm sure you will have some motivated little workers with this approach!

Check out my Late Workitis for more ideas for dealing with late work.

Click HERE to visit my TPT store.


Fluency Fun

Fluency lessons are often neglected in a reading program. Phonics, phonemic awareness, and comprehension are typically the lessons that get the most instruction time.  We often rely on parents to read with their children 20 minutes a night to strengthen students' fluency skills.  Poor fluency skills often do not affect students until they go to middle school.  These students are expected to large amounts of material in a short period of time. Even though they can read and comprehend the words, they fall behind in their studies due to their limited fluency rate.

The bottom line is a quality program needs balance.  Where do you find more time in an already hectic day?  My answer was to work smarter.  We incorporated some fluency activities during our reading group lessons and I added a fluency center that students could work independently each week.  My students' fluency rate improved when I became more balanced in my approach to reading. 

Some of you may have already discovered my Fluency Center page on my blog.  It has fluency centers that are aligned with Common Core.  There are centers on reading levels: K-5.

If you have a small classroom, you can set these centers up as a file folder game.  This post has tips.

I just updated my 1st grade Fluency Center bundle today.  I added a new writing assignment to each center plus when you purchase the bundle you get 4 Paper Saver mini books.  The mini books are only available with the bundle packet.  You save $4 when you purchase the bundle.

The bundle includes:

Space themed fluency center
Reading level:  1.0

Fluency center #1
Reading level:  1.0

Pet themed fluency center
Reading level:  1.5

Fishing theme fluency center
Reading level:  1.2

4 Paper Savers mini books.  This is the Fishing mini book.

I just added this writing assignment to each center.

If you previously purchased this packet, you may go to "my purchases" to download the new writing assignments and mini books.

Click HERE to visit my TPT store.