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Simplifying Classroom Jobs

Classroom jobs, how to keep them simple, yet effective.  We want our students to have responsibilities in our classroom, but when we end up giving hundreds of reminders it becomes too much to manage.  Learn about a simple way to keep your classroom jobs effective.

Most teachers would agree that classroom jobs are important. The challenge is how to make the jobs meaningful and how to get students to take responsibility for them.

Throughout my years as a classroom teacher I tried so many different systems.  Some were okay, but most of them ended up being more of a chore for me.  I got so tired of giving reminders to students about their job.  Much of the time, students had jobs in name only.  I ended up doing all the work myself.

As with most things, the simpler, the better.  A good friend of mine has one of the best job systems I’ve ever seen.  It’s simple and the kids really do their jobs!  The system has four class jobs; Teacher Assistant, Classroom Clerk, Public Relations, and Health & Safety.  Each job has several responsibilities.  

Classroom jobs, how to keep them simple, yet effective.  We want our students to have responsibilities in our classroom, but when we end up giving hundreds of reminders it becomes too much to manage.  Learn about a simple way to keep your classroom jobs effective.

Now, here's how this system is unique and effective.  Each week there are two people assigned to the job.  One is the Expert and the other is the Apprentice.  The Expert is in their second week of having that job and the Apprentice is new that week.  The teacher doesn't have to train the students for their new jobs every week, that's up to the Expert!  The Expert is responsible for making sure the job responsibilities are completed as well as training the Apprentice.  The next week the Apprentice moves up to be the Expert and a new Apprentice is assigned to the job. With two students responsible for the job, things get done!

Classroom jobs, how to keep them simple, yet effective.  We want our students to have responsibilities in our classroom, but when we end up giving hundreds of reminders it becomes too much to manage.  Learn about a simple way to keep your classroom jobs effective.

She also has a fun way to give recognition to the eight job holders for the week.  The expert gets the lanyard with the job description and the apprentice gets the name tag that also fits into a little holder that can be placed on top of his/her desk.

You can download an editable version of these job cards here. (Just click on the image.)

 Classroom jobs, how to keep them simple, yet effective.  We want our students to have responsibilities in our classroom, but when we end up giving hundreds of reminders it becomes too much to manage.  Learn about a simple way to keep your classroom jobs effective.

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Tips for Using Informational Text

Informational Text, tips for using it in your daily lessons.

We all know that informational text is playing a bigger role in our reading instruction.  Teachers are also aware that their instructional day is packed and that the content areas of science and social studies often gets squeezed out.  I've gathered some tips to help you use your science and social studies texts and curriculum to teach the required reading skills. Stop thinking of the content areas as a separate part of your day, bring them into your ELA block.

1.  Show students the difference between literary and informational text structure.  
     One of the first things students need to understand is the structural difference between literary and informational text.  Literary text will generally have characters, a setting and a plot that has a beginning, middle and end. While informational text will usually be organized by topic with sections having main ideas and details. To help students compare these two types of texts you can use a T-Chart along with sample texts.  Set the students up in small groups.  Give each group a few text samples and a T-Chart.  Let them explore the text and make note of what they see.  You can sum up the activity by having them list things the texts have in common and some of the major differences they noticed.  Make sure you have a list of the main points you want to make with this activity.  Depending on the age of the students you can guide the summing up discussions to make sure all the main points are covered. 
Click on the image to download the organizer.

 Informational Text T Chart to compare literary and informational text.

2.  Teach students how to find information using the table of contents and index.
     I think the two most important features of an informational book are the table of contents and the index.  As students begin to use informational texts for research projects they will not always be reading the entire book from beginning to end.  They will use the table of contents and the index to find the specific places in the book that has the information they need.
     A fun way to give students practice in using these features is to have a scavenger hunt.  Choose an informational text for which you have enough copies for each student or each pair of students.  I always did this activity with our Science and Social Studies texts because we had a class set.   Write a set of questions that can be answered from the text.  Make sure some of the questions require the table of contents and some require the index in order to find the answer. I also leave a space to write the page number where they found the answer and if they used the table of contents or the index.

3.  Use graphic organizers to gather information.
     Graphic organizers are a must for gathering and organizing information.  There are many different types of graphic organizers that can be used, depending on the text structure and the type of information to be organized. This handy chart will give you an idea of which organizer to use with your students. 
Click on the image to download the chart and 3 free organizers.
 Download your 3 free graphic organizers to use with informational text.

4.  Choose reading strategies and or skills that fit the text.
     Throughout the year students will be learning many different strategies and skills as they become better readers.  You’ll want to choose just one or two to use with this lesson with informational text.  When you’re planning, read the text with fresh eyes and think about the skills and strategies you’re using as a reader.  Mark places where you used specific skills or strategies. When you finish, go over your notes and decide which skills/strategies fit the text and also fit the needs of your students. Then you’re ready to plan you lesson!

5.  Reread the text to teach different comprehension skills.
     Now that you have your first lesson planned, use the text again to target a different skill or strategy.  On the first day you may cover main idea and details with a graphic organizer.  On the second day the focus may be cutting down the details to just the most important ideas and writing a summary.  Later in the week you might focus on vocabulary or author’s word choice. Reading the same text again and again is always a good thing!

Kids love learning about things in their world.  I hope these tips will help you begin using more informational texts in your ELA lessons.

Find out how you can use informational text in your daily reading lessons.

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The More you Read . . .

the better reader you become. The better reader you become, the more you read!

It just makes sense that to become a better reader you have to read.  I used to tell my students that pro basketball, baseball or football players got there by practicing!  They dribbled, batted, passed, ran, jumped and practiced shooting the ball into the hoop for hours and hours in order to become the best player they could be.  To be a better reader, writer or mathematician is the very same, you have to practice.

I found this chart on Mrs. London's Free Resources that very clearly shows how reading more often leads to increased test scores.

I know the school day is very busy, but you should try to squeeze in as much time as possible for students to read.  In my classroom, if students had any extra time they were to get out a book to read. There weren't any other little time filler activities, they just got out their book and read.

Here are some tips for getting your students to read more:

1.  Make sure they have access to books at their level.  Set up your classroom library so they can easily find good-fit books.  Teach them how to find those books.  You can show them the 5 finger test. Choose a page from the middle of the book, read it.  Count one finger for each word not known or not able to read.  If you get to five fingers then this book may not be a good fit.
2.   Make finding a good-fit book part of your morning routine.  Each student should have 2 or 3 books at their desk, ready to read.  I liked giving my students a Book Baggie.  They kept at least 3 books in it at all times.  When one book was finished it was taken out and another was put in.  This Book Baggie went home every night and was returned the next morning.

3.  Make reading the one and only choice of what to do when an assignment is finished.
4.  Schedule a relax and read time after recess or lunch.  Kids can get their water bottle and find a place around the room to relax and enjoy their book.  In order to maximize the time, set a timer.  When the timer goes off, if everyone is in their spot and reading, the class earns a point toward a Friday reward.
5.  Connect independent reading to your reading lessons.  One way to help connect your reading lessons to the independent or read-to-self time is to use Thinkmarks.  Thinkmarks are small bookmarks students keep in their book to remind them of a recent skill or strategy taught during a lesson.  The Thinkmark may even have a place for students to stop and jot down notes as they read.  
 Click on the image to download a free sample of the Thinkmarks from Crockett's Classroom.
 Reading Thinkmarks ---free sample.  Great way to hold kids accountable and have them show their thinking as they read.

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Keeping it Positive

"Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but words can never hurt me."

Of course you’ve heard this saying and may have even used it to try and comfort a child who  just had unkind words hurled at them.  But I say it’s untrue.  Words do hurt.  Even as adults, we’ve heard things that hurt and sting for a long time. To a child even the smallest insult can have a larger impact.

During the first week of school. teachers spend a lot of time teaching procedures.  They also explain the behavior expectations and the classroom management system for the year. One activity you should add to your first week is this simple activity that shows the lasting effect of unkind words and actions.
1.      Begin by asking the kids what unkind words they've heard other kids say.  Write these words on some of the Sticks 'n' Stones slips. You'll need them later on in the activity.
2.    Now give each student a piece of paper with a blank human figure on it.  Ask them student to color the figure to look like themselves. As you wonder around the room make lots of positive comments about their work.  You want the students to be super proud of their figures. After they finish coloring the figures, students should cut out the figures and write their name on the back.

3.    Have students sit in a circle with their finished figure, a pencil and crayons. Tell students to pass the cutouts to the person on their right.  Read one of the Sticks 'n' Stones cards and tell students that those words hurt. Ask the student holding the figure they received to make a tiny tear in one of the legs.  Make sure it’s small.  (You might hear a few gasps when they see their figure being torn.)
4.    Pass the figures to the right again and read another Sticks 'n' Stones card.  This time ask students to use a crayon and draw a dark zig-zag line across the center of the body. (make sure the color they use shows up on the figure.)  
5.    Pass the figures again and read a Sticks 'n' Stones card. This time have them draw an X on the face with their pencil.
 6.   You can continue passing the figures as many times as you want, reading the Sticks 'n' Stones cards and adding other tears and marks to the figures.  I usually had the students do 5 or 6 things.
7.    On the final rotation read a Sticks 'n' Stones card and have students crumple the figures into a small ball. Collect the crumpled figures.
8.  Students now return to their desks as you gently uncrumple the figures and give them back to the owners.  When the students have their own figure they can try to repair themselves by flattening, smoothing, erasing, or taping.  They'll notice that no matter how much they flatten, smooth, erase or tape their figure the damage can still be seen. 

Now is when you can talk about the effects of unkind words and hurt feelings.  Once words are heard or read, some part of them remain in our memories and continue to hurt. The figures will make a great display about using kind words.

 Sticks and Stones,  words really do hurt. This activity will show your students the damage even the smallest words can do to someone else.

Click on this graphic to download printable for this activity and to receive a free sample of my Positive Behavior Tool Box (SPARKLE).

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Help your students see with their Mind's Eye

Our world is very visual. We see pictures and images on TV, in social media, web sites, music videos, magazines and print ads in every store window. But, students read a lot of the text that does not have images. For a deeper understand of the text it’s important for students to learn how to form these mental images.
One strategy that is great for teaching students how to form these mental images is called Mind’s Eye.  It’s so simple to implement and is a terrific way to begin a reading lesson.

One strategy that is great for teaching students how to form these mental images is called Mind’s Eye.  It’s so simple to implement and is a terrific way to begin a reading lesson.

The first step is to choose 15 to 30 key words from the story or article.  The words need to represent some of the key ideas from the story.

For example, if I was introducing the book Because of Winn Dixie, I might choose these words:

grocery store, manager, red-faced, tomatoes, green peppers, ugly dog, skidding, mess, smile, mistake, summer, preacher, trailer park, manners, found, stay, home, friends.

Read each word to your class and ask them to make a picture in their mind.  As you continue to read, encourage them to change this mental image.  It will be almost like a movie is playing in their head.

When you finish reading the word list give students time to process their mental images.  Here are a few ways they can continue to think about the images they've formed in their mind:
1.  draw a picture of their mental images. Let them share and talk about their drawings with their group.
2.  You can also ask them write a question they hope will be answered as they read the first few chapters. 
3.  Write predictions about what might happen in the book.
4.  Describe the feelings they experienced as the words were being read.  
Here is a free download to help you plan and implement this pre-reading strategy in your classroom.

 Mind's Eye, pre-reading strategy for students of all ages.  Great way to get students to form mental images before, during and after they read.

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I've finally found the best teacher planner ever!

You can stop searching for the best teacher binder/planner.  This is the one you've been looking for!
This is it!  The best teacher planner/binder ever!  Everything you need to keep your teaching life totally organized.

This product has just about everything a teacher needs to keep in a planner or binder.  And, if you don't see the pages you need, let me know.  I'm always looking for ways to make this product even better.

Here's what's included in this binder/planner bundle zip file.

As you can see, all but one of the files is PowerPoint.  That means they are almost all editable!

Binder Decor Editable,  includes: binder covers, binder spine labels and divider pages with 25 design choices!
C C Standards checklists Editable:  checklists for grades K-8 with all standards.  Great for tracking student progress through the year.
Calendars:  This is a pdf file, so it cannot be edited.  PDF file, Up-to-date yearly and monthly calendars.
Newsletter forms Editable:  Keep your parents informed with these newsletter formats, 20 templates, 10 with graphics, 10 without graphics.
Planning Long Range Editable:  Make plans for the year, quarter, trimester and month.
Planning Short Range Editable:  Make plans for the week, also small group planning and planning for individual subjects.
Record Keeping Editable: pages to keep your assignments, grades, and student progress data organized.
Who, What, When, Where and How :  Two PowerPoint files, one is editable and one is non-editable. Everything you need to keep all the bits and pieces of being a teacher organized. (teacher, student, parent, class information) Also includes pages for substitutes.  The non-editable pages can be used if you like to write in the information instead of type it in.

In the spring of 2016 I completely updated my Organized Teacher Binder.  I updated the graphics, added new pages and organized everything into folders instead of one long file.  One teacher she liked the pages in one file because it was easier to print at one time.  So I took that suggestion and created the totally new Print and Bind Planner. I love the way it came out and I think you'll love it, too. (I really do love teacher input and suggestions!) 

Print and Bind Planner 2016-2017:  265 pages you can customize and print as one file to create the perfect planner. So much flexibility! You can delete pages, edit the text boxes, change the font, rearrange the pages, duplicate pages, add you own pages, and add graphics. Since this is a PowerPoint file you have so much control of the content. 

This is it!  The best teacher planner/binder ever!  Everything you need to keep your teaching life totally organized.

This is it!  The best teacher planner/binder ever!  Everything you need to keep your teaching life totally organized.

This is it!  The best teacher planner/binder ever!  Everything you need to keep your teaching life totally organized.

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Teacher Planner, My New Obsession!

This could possibly be the best teacher planner ever!  You choose the pages you need.  Perfect for organizing your plans, progress monitoring, grades, and everything else for your classroom!

I may be a little late to the planner obsessions, but now I'm hooked! I've always loved putting together my teacher binder at the beginning of the school year and a three-ring binders was my organization tool of choice.  I loved how easy it was to arrange everything and add or remove pages.  I saw other teachers with pre-made planners and thought they looked very nice, but I didn't like the idea of someone else choosing what I put in the planner.  But now, I've found the perfect combination of binder and planner . . . the discbound planner system. I love, love, love them!  
Discbound teacher planner, my new obsession!  I love setting it up just exactly the way I want!

There are several different brands.  Two of the easiest to find in local stores are from Staples (Arc system) and Office Depot (TUL). 
If you're not familiar with the discbound system, here's a great video introduction. 

I started my first discbound planner with a letter size, frosted cover planner from Staples.  I also bought the small page punch, which is needed to punch the holes for the pages you want to add.  There are so many accessories you can buy, but I wanted to start simple and grow.  As soon as I got home I started looking online for ideas of how other teachers had put their planners together.  I started watching video after video with tutorials for making all the cool accessories. Being a frugal and crafty teacher, I'm now having a blast creating all the goodies that go in my planner.  

Here's what I've done so far.
Step 1:  Decide what pages I wanted in my planner.  You can either create the pages yourself in PowerPoint or buy a packet from a TPT seller. Of course, I used the Organized Planner from my own TPT store. Then you can print the pages you want to go in your planner.  

My old printer recently died so I bought a new one that prints double sided. Much easier when printing for a planner.   If your printer does single sided only, you can print all the odd number pages. Then put the paper back in and print the even number pages.  

I chose pages with teacher and student information, calendars, long and short range planning pages, and  grade/record keeping pages.

Teacher planner with a discbound planner,  I'm obsessed! You can choose the pages you want, instead of making do with a planner put together by someone else.

Step 2:  Add the extras-- This is where the fun starts! The first thing I made was a dashboard.  All I did was laminate a piece of scrapbook card stock. Then I added these cute sticky notes from the Dollar Spot at Target.

Teacher planner goodies, make a dashboard to hold sticky notes.

Next I made a pocket made from a Target Dollar Spot folder. Trim off the tab and a large chunk of the front corner to make the pocket.  I taped the edges to make the pocket a little more sturdy.  Next, I laminated it and scored across the pocket to open it.  Since the folder is thick It wouldn't fit into the small page punch made for the discbound pages.  So I used the cover of my planner to mark where the holes should be. Then I punched the holes with a regular paper punch and cut a slit with scissors.  Now I have a pocket to hold notes, reminders, etc. 
Discbound planner folders are super simple to make.  They are a handy place to hold all the notes and reminders teachers need to keep.

That's what I have so far in my teacher planner.  What do you think is handy to have in your teacher planner?

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