Phonics: Pencil Pals - Zoo, Desert, Farm, and Camping

Do you have so much free time at school that you offer to help your friends with their work?  I'm guessing that this isn't the case for you, if you are like most teachers.  It seems like every year, we have more and more expectations put on us.  It is very easy to let all of these extra things stress us out, damage our health, and take away our enthusiasm for our job.  

Summer is the perfect time to recharge your batteries and remind yourself why you originally wanted to become a teacher.  The extra duties will still be there when you go back.  One of the things you can do this summer, is go over all of your duties, and come up with a plan to work smarter.  

Do you have a buddy teacher that has a similar philosophy as you?  Would you be willing to split some of your teacher chores with this buddy?  I've done this different ways through the years.  One of my all time favorite system was when I taught next door to a teacher who hated the paperwork end of teaching but loved being outside.  Maybe it's because I'm too hyper, but for me, recess duty is my version of teacher torture.  Standing there or walking around watching children play is too sedentary for me.  From my very first year, I have hated recess duty.  I've done it because it is required and children need the fresh air and exercise.  But, I did not enjoy it.  Then I began teaching with a teacher who was the yin to my yang.  She hated all of the paperwork, lesson planning, copying, and other stuff like that I loved.  Luckily, we had similar teaching styles.  So, I planned 2 weeks at a time.  Organized each week in a big rubbermaid tub.  There were six folders in the tub.  Monday - Friday folders had all of the things needed for lessons (books, worksheets, etc.) and the sixth folder had all the supplies needed for the centers.  I taught with tub A and my buddy used tub B the first week, then we switched tubs the following week.  It was perfect!  She was perfectly happy doing recess duty every day.  I was perfectly happy taking the extra time from not doing recess duty to plan for both of us.  Here's the thing . . . I would have made those plans for myself anyway.  The only extra work that was involved was to make the copies for her.  How hard is it to make an extra class set of copies for a week's worth of work and organize them in a tub?  Our principal was happy with our arrangement because he knew that with the extra time I had to plan, I was making better quality lesson plans.  My buddy and I were happier and less stressed.  Isn't that what every principal wants? 

So, this summer take the time to come up with a plan to work smarter.  There are many ways you can do it.

I was thinking about centers.  They can be a wonderful addition or they can be a thorn in your side if your students don't understand the directions and are constantly interrupting your small group lesson with questions.  Centers have worked both ways for me.

One way to work smarter with centers is to have some centers that have the same format week after week.  Not that your students will do the exact same lesson, but that the type of activity remains the same so they will know exactly what the expectations are when they go to that center.  

I am working on a new series of lesson packets that can be used for this type of center.  Each packet will have enough lessons for an entire month.  All you will need to do, as far as preparation, is make 4 mini-books/student each month.  (Hint: This would be a great thing for a parent volunteer to do for you.) Students will complete 2 pages of their mini-book each day.  Turn in the mini-book on Friday.  It should be an easy thing to grade and you shouldn't have as many lost papers this way.  Each mini-book is a review of all of those important skills that we review with our students all the time like vowels, digraphs, syllables, word families, etc.

Below is a sneak peek of Book #2.  There is a black and white version of each mini-book and a colored copy so you can also make this a self-checking center.  For a very short time, I am giving a link of the black and white Camping mini-book so you can check it out.  I wanted to do a little bonus for my loyal followers.  If you found this post, after the time expired, you are invited to begin following my blog and Facebook page so you won't miss out the next time I do a bonus freebie.

Click HERE to download this sample.

Click HERE to read more about BOOK #2.  Be sure to download the preview so you can see all the pages included with this book.

Click HERE to read about BOOK #1.
Book #1 has a mini-book called School Time which is perfect for your Back to School lessons.

Would you like to follow my blog so you won't miss out on the next bonus freebie?

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