Tuesday, July 29, 2014

GET UP AND MOVE YOUR STUDENTS! FREEBIES to try!

I was never one to sit still!  At least that's what my mother always told me!  Isn't it true for our students these days?  Now, more than ever, students' attention span is not what it used to be!  So, how do you combat this?  You MOVE them!  We all know that getting students out of their seats can be beneficial in the long run.   Here's a link to a great article (and reminder) that movement can actually ENHANCE the the learning process.  In a nutshell, "Moving With the Brain in Mind," discusses the physical benefits that directly correlate to increased learning.  1.  Circulation increases heart rate, which gives you a better performance.  2.  Movement gives learners a new spatial reference on your classroom.  3.  We learn in SHORT bursts, not ones that drag on and on and cause us to become squirmy.  4.  We, as humans, are designed to be physical. (walking, running, eating, and DOING)  Keep in mind sitting in chairs is something a person invented...  5.  Certain movement can stimulate the release of your body's natural motivators  6.  Both explicit and implicit learning occur when we are academically engaged, as well as moving about.

There are always BRAIN BREAKS...where you simply take a moment to stretch, dance, walk, jog, etc. to get the blood going!  I found some super FREE resources on brain breaks. (Click images for access)

Another way to get your students moving is to actually plan a lesson where they are required to move as part of the skill practice.  Most of us are familiar with the "I Do (modeling), We Do (teacher/students are practicing together), You Do Together (students' collaborative learning) and the You DO (independently) approach to teaching a concept.  Why not create opportunities where your students are UP AND MOVING during the "We Do" or "You Do Together" phase of the lesson?   It's simple and immediate!   For example, if you're teaching Fact and Opinion, simply call out some statements and ask your kids to do a particular movement if you share a fact, and a different movement if you share an opinion.  BAM!  You've given them time to practice the skill with you formatively assessing their progress, as well as given them a chance to stretch and increase their chances of learning.  It works well for almost every single subject or concept you teach!  (Move this way if you're an adjective/adverb, Move this way if you're an odd/even number, Move this way if you should round up/down, Move this way if the evidence in the text helps prove characterization, setting, etc.)   Wow...the possibilities are endless.

Be sure to investigate "Active Academics," a website devoted to Learning on the Move!  It's a FREE site...but requires you simply register to access!  I was able to acquire activities after signing up in a matter of 90 seconds!

  Teachers love to create their own resources as well!  You know I do!   I've got some activities (INCLUDING FREEBIES) that you're welcome to try out.  The 4 Corners game is probably my favorite because it can be adapted to almost anything!  Be sure to try out the FREEBIE version with "Types of Sentences."  


You've probably heard of the SCOOT games.  Funny thing-- when I first began playing them in my early years of teaching (Ummmmm.....20 some years ago), I always referred to them as Road Runner.  :-)  When "Scoot" caught on, I refused (politely) to call my games that.  I still enjoyed the little ROAD RUNNERS running around (okay, walking at a swift pace and switching seats) in my classroom.  So the race is on in your room if you want to try this freebie on contractions.

I played softball growing up, and had 3 brothers who played baseball, so I'm sure that was the inspiration behind some of the Bullseye games!  I
think these require a little more brain power to score, but they are great fun, nonetheless!   This can be a really FUN way to practice a skill, while bodies are pitching pennies or other small objects.  This one is a FREEBIE on NOUNS...loaded with Differentiation practice!


So what are some things you do in your classroom to get your kids up and moving?  Please share!  I'm that big fan of teachers who share their ideas with others, so we all benefit.  SO... let's hear it!  Give yourself a shout-out.  I'll put names in a hat from those that share and on August 11th (Our students' first day back) I'll draw 2 lucky winners!  Primary (K-2) and an Intermediate (3-5) teacher.  **Be sure to list what grade level you teach, what your get up and move idea is for your grade level, AND your email addy so I can send you something!  *I have some BRAND NEW GRAMMAR RECIPE activities I'll send your way....an engaging, creative center that you can set up for students to APPLY those grammar skills you've taught them!  *I have a primary and intermediate version!  :-)

Bananas for LEARNING while MOVING!





Monday, June 30, 2014

Building a Positive School Climate and FREEBIE!

If you're anything like me, you're not quite ready to think about BACK TO SCHOOL yet.  The truth is, however, like most educators, I begin thinking about it long before the previous year even comes to a close.  I think that's how we teachers roll.   I hope your year was successful and you find yourself looking forward to the new one.  As much as we look forward to new beginnings, the truth is, I find a lot of educators are quite stressed in the work place.  As more and more demands are being placed on teacher and student outcomes, the more challenging it can be to keep calm, be encouraged, and see a light at the end of the tunnel.  There are many articles and ideas out there for how to create a positive work environment that are easily applicable to a school culture.  I love the freebie E book 52 Ways to a Positive Work Culture," by Baudville.  It contains some simple reminders about the importance of staring your day right, practicing teamwork, and keeping a positive attitude.
There's also a book for purchase available called, Shaping School Culture: The Heart of Leadership, written by Terrence Deal and Kent Peterson. (Available at Amazon, and most book stores).  This book addresses the critical importance of the cultural aspects that bind a school community together.  It's based on 20 years of research and real-life cases.  If you're a leader in your school or part of a leadership team in your building, this is a worthwhile read!

Last year for us, the year seemed to start off a little rocky.  Between implementing a new reading series, trying to get a handle on Common Core, new administration, and the list goes on, teachers quickly found themselves overwhelmed, exhausted, frightened, and uncertain.  How are we combating this for this coming school year?  One way was that someone in our district actually began an "Educators for Excellence" Facebook group over the summer.  It's a POSITIVE and ENCOURAGING posts only for our district.  It's designed to celebrate the successes and share positive solutions to existing issues.  It went from a few members to a few thousand members in a matter of a couple of weeks!  The group now even has shirts and bumper stickers available to its members that proudly state, "I LOVE MY JOB!"

One of my personal goals this year to help get our immediate building staff started off on a better foot, is to use some (FREEBIE) ADORABLE cards that I can distribute throughout the year.  They contain encouraging and uplifting comments that can easily be added alongside an inexpensive treat to share with a colleague.  (Who doesn't love a little chocolate, or chips, a Diet Coke, or a nice new pen to grade papers with when you least expect it?)  You can use them anonymously, sign your name, create a "Secret Pal" type situation where EVERYONE commits to using at least 3-5 cards throughout the school year for their secret buddy.  Then, have a reveal party at the end of the year!  :-)  However you use them, they're sure to lift somebody's spirits and nurture a positive environment.  So have FUN with them!


What are some things your school does to promote a positive school culture?  Readers would love to hear!  Please post any suggestions or ideas below!  
Best of luck for a wonderful new school year.

Bananas for this quote, "Positive anything is better than negative nothing." -Elbert Hubbard

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Team in Final Four Sale!

Well, a friend approached me after my team...the Kentucky Wildcats won their bid into the Elite Eight. She asked, "If they win again, are you having a sale?"  I promised I would...so HERE WE ARE!  Whether you're a CAT fan or not, sales are always a good thing, right?  My entire store will be 20% off Sunday, March 30 through Tuesday April 1st!  
Some newer items you can grab a little cheaper...

100 activities for the 100 grid.  This grade 2-4 unit incorporates a variety of math practices and skills:  patterns, problem solving, analytical thinking, basic operations, fractions, missing numbers, rounding, percents, making change, missing addends, and more!  GREAT for centers set up near a 100 grid pocket chart! It also makes a nice addition to the 100th day of school!


Do you and your class enjoy book reports?  Here's a new unit with 8 seasonal book reports to get you and your 2nd-4th graders through the year!  (2 fall, 2 winter, 2 spring, and 2 for ANYTIME)  They're great fun and make incredible displays for your classroom!  Happy Reading!  

Finally, I've added a Math Interactive notebook on Measurement to the big bundle.  So all 8 units (a whopping 293 pages) are available in one download OR the measurement unit is available all by itself! Loads of foldable, flips, and writing to explain for your students.  These make great study tools for students AND parents.   

It's not a REAL celebration unless I'm giving something away for FREE....SO...if you teach
grades 3-5 and would enjoy the Problem Solving through April unit (challenging and multi-step word problems for 3rd-5th grades), simply share your favorite college team and the famous CHEER that accompanies your team!  In honor of the FINAL FOUR, I'll give the unit away to the FIRST FOUR college cheers I hear!  *Email address needed so I can get the unit to you!  

Bananas for my CATS!  GO BIG BLUE!  ;-)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

One Stop Super Bowl Shop

You know what time it is!  SUPER BOWL time!  I've been on the hunt for some of my favorite Super Bowl stops...recipes, classroom activities, and pinterest boards.  Be sure to check out some of my favorite touchdowns below.
  
It's with NO GREAT surprise that I want to start with FOOD first!  I mean...what's a Super Bowl without some amazing appetizers and food?    Nobody does it better than the Food Network.  So be sure to visit their "Big Game Bash" site where you can grab a variety of ideas for appetizers, chilis, wings, salsas, desserts and more!  (Click image at right for a quick trip to their site).
If you're a Southern cooking kind of fan, then maybe Southern Living is your site.  They list 42 "score big" appetizers for your Super Bowl adventure, including sweet potato chips (yum) and an old favorite, sweet and sour meatballs.  

For all the Pinterest addicts, what's a Super Bowl without some decorating ideas?  I found a few boards I love that have some great visuals and ideas for setting your table, keeping kids occupied, outfitting your drinks, and turning your living room (or front yard)  into a football wonderland.  These boards also have ideas for  giving the simplest of foods a little football "sparkle."  Some cost, but a lot are free.  Even the ones that cost something gave me IDEAS for something I could do on my own!  Happy pinning.  



If time is precious and you just need to find a store with affordable football party decor quickly, you can't fumble with Party City.  They carry everything from tablecloths, plates, cups, platters, invitations, favors, etc. for the big game. Pop in or shop online.  They're always cute and festive!


Need a classroom craft idea for Super Bowl Day?  For the youngers, how about working on some fine motor skills while lacing a football?  At DLTK's Autumn lacing projects, they have a football template where you can print, punch holes, get some brown lace or ribbon, and lace away (How many of you remember this...over, under, over, under)!  You could always decorate with your favorite team colors!  If you want to "bump it up" a level, consider printing TWO footballs, lacing them TOGETHER, and stuffing them with cotton or paper!
  
EVERY teacher loves great listeners.  This little activity I found at teachingheart.net challenges students to listen to rhymes and color the correct number of footballs asked of students within the rhyme.  It's FREE! 

Finally, your students will get super motivated about the big event, as well as receive a good solid review and practice on some essential skills.  Below are some links to some Super Bowl mini-units and/or reviews you can use with your classroom of little football fans.  All under $5.00!  

Bananas for Super Bowl ideas everywhere!  Wherever you celebrate, have fun, play nice, and be safe!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year FREEBIE and a Giveaway Winner


Happy New Year blogging world!  Here's hoping 2013 was good to you and 2014 will keep you in good health, give you plenty of rest, and shower you with many meaningful blessings!  

CONGRATULATIONS to Megan Horman, winner of my December giveaway!  Megan will get an Amazon gift card so she can purchase her class a set of the finger laser lights.  I know she'll put them to good use!  *Be sure to read the previous post on how you can use them in your classroom.  Several readers gave us some fantastic suggestions.  Thanks to all my friends for playing along!  :-)


Don't forget to grab a New Year's FREEBIE for your classroom.  It's a New Year's Resolution reflection for your 2nd-4th graders!  What goals do they have?  What do they plan to do to make it happen?  I figure you're never to young to start setting goals, right?!  I always make a few plans, but like a lot of people, lose my focus after a few months. This year, my new resolution is to set some goals and NOT LOSE FOCUS.  I'll have to let you know how that goes!  :-)
What goals or resolutions do you have for this year?  Would love to hear!  
Whatever they are, count the blessings you already have, make time for a few random acts of kindness, and give it your personal best in 2014!  

Bananas for my teacher friends,

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Turn on the Lights...Laser Lights Giveaway!


It's one of my very favorite times of the year.  Lights in the park, lights on the tree, lights on the house, and lights in the classroom!!  Light up your walls with some Holiday Text Feature identification practice.  With so many different types of text features embedded in informational text, students often get confused on which feature does what, what the purpose of the feature is, and what it looks like.  This new activity is an engaging game where students match the name of the feature to it's definition, as well as to an image that displays what the feature might look like. It can be done whole group, in centers, in cooperative teams, or individually. There's even a text feature reflection sheet.  Students get practice with a necessary skill AND you can "string them up" to light up your classroom with a colorful, holiday display.   Click on image above to grab!   

How much fun can you have this time of year (AND YEAR ROUND) with these LED finger laser lights?  The elastic strap slides over your finger for easy use.  They come in four bright colors:  blue, green, red, and white.  I found them on Amazon (40 pk) for $7.00.  Imagine sitting at your guided reading table having your students track print with these.  How about locating evidence in the text, or pointing out the problem and solution?  I'm thinking there are LOTS of possibilities!  So let's have some FUN with them!  Leave a comment with a suggested educational use for the LED lights in your classroom to share with other teachers.  I'll put the first 10 suggestions in a hat, draw ONE out, and I'll SEND YOU an Amazon gift card for $15.00 to get a set of your own!  That should even cover the shipping cost!  Rules are quick and easy:  
1.)  One entry per person! 
2.)  Share only one idea so lots of teachers can participate!
2.)  Email address must accompany your suggestion (so I know where to send the gift card!)

Bananas for those silly, little things that make me smile and say, "My students would LOVE this!"   Happy Holidays, friends! 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Holiday Freebies and a Huge Sale!

Happy Holidays educator friends!
Here's hoping this finds you prepping for the holidays with your family, friends, and your classroom!  There's no better time to grab some teaching materials at a huge discount during the TpT Cyber Sale Monday, Dec. 2nd and Tuesday, Dec. 3rd!  Tons of sellers, including myself, will be offering 20% off their entire stores AND TpT is offering an
additional 8% off if you use the Promo code:  CYBER. (For a quick trip to the sale, click on the adorable Cyber Monday Sale Sign (created by the extremely talented Jen Jones @ Hello Literacy). What a great opportunity to stock up on some Winter and Spring goodies for your classroom.  Some of the newer additions to my store: The "Word Family Train Wreck" game is a great way to give your early readers an opportunity to practice their word families.  Students will delight in building their word family train. Watch out of the Train Wreck card, though!  There are 13 games in this bundle! (Best suited for K-1 classrooms)
For the 2nd-3rd grade classrooms, I added the Government Interactive Notebook a couple of months ago, which is probably one of my favorites.  I adore interactive notebooking and enjoy getting to see how each notebook turns out differently.  Students and parents both love them.  Studying becomes a lot easier with the information organized all in one place.
Finally for the math fans, I've added Math 4 Ways!  This unit helps students learn certain math concepts in 4 different ways.  If they are exposed to addition, subtraction, multiplication, fractions, money, time, and place value in various formats, they have a better chance of committing the material to long term memory.  If they can demonstrate the concepts in all 4 ways, they truly understand it!



Don't forget your HOLIDAY FREEBIES up for grabs:    Practice synonyms and antonyms with an ornament match game OR dress Frosty with a variety of hats, mittens, and scarves by creating an organized list!
Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays this 2013 season.
Bananas for the blessings in my life each and every day...including my educator friends and TpT family!

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