Sunday, September 25, 2016

What Makes a Great and Happy Student?

If you said high IQ or a healthy dose of 'the smarts', you'll be surprised to know that you didn't say what most teachers will say.

Happy, successful and productive students are students who:
Click for PDF
  • are intrinsically motivated (they don't need incentives or positive reinforcement to do their best)
  • show responsibility 
  • are able to think independently and solve problems with minimal intervention
  • persevere, these students have 'stick with it'ness'
  • possess good social skills
  • they have 'grit' (they handle pressure rather well)
Is it any wonder why so many educational jurisdictions are including social skills, character development and social emotional learning into their mandatory instruction or curriculum areas?

All too often, a child who doesn't do well academically will be lacking in persistence, responsibility, organization, or social skills.  If these traits improve, so will achievement. It's not rocket science that the two go hand in hand.

If you're looking for a few printables to support social emotional growth or social skills, be sure to make good use of the following:

Click for PDF
If you have further suggestions for embedding good social development and character traits into your teaching, we'd love to hear from you.

Have a great week educators.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Write all About It

Are you assigning your students the same type of writing over and over again? Change it up and keep it authentic. Here's a list of unique things to write:

Advertisements,  observations,  announcements,  metaphors, awards, movie reviews,  bedtime stories newspaper articles and advertisements, billboards,  nursery rhymes,  bumper stickers,  menus,
cartoons,  opinions,  captions,  plays, conversations, puppet shows, definitions, postcards,
See PDF Here
diaries,  questions,  directions,  quizzes, epitaphs,  quotations,  encyclopedia entries, (Wikipedia) recipes, explanations,  fairy tales,  riddles,  jokes, filmstrip dialogue,  signs,  fortunes,  slogans,
game rules,  songs,  graffiti, grocery lists, thank you notes,  headlines,  labels, tongue twisters,  history letters,  journals, how-to manuals, want ads,  wishes, lists, interviews,  introductions invitations, weather reports.

Educators tend to be creative individuals so let's stir it up a bit with our requests for written work!

  • Design a billboard advertising your favorite cereal, chocolate bar or holiday destination (connect it with social studies with a billboard about the country to be studied)
  • Make a riddle book about mystery animals, students, places
  • Write a postcard to a student from another school telling them all about your school experience
  • Make labels for everything you're wearing
  • Make a grocery list for an upcoming party
  • Design a menu for your favorite kind of foods
  • Write a letter to a person who lived 200 years ago
  • Write a help wanted ad
See all of the writing worksheets here.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Social Emotional Learning

Many of us educators already know that we embed social emotional learning into the many things that we do on a daily basis. However, I'm going to share a few of some of those ideas here.

Initiative: To support initiative, a child must feel confidence and have a good sense of self-esteem. Therefore by boosting their confidence levels and enhancing self esteem, you'll be setting your students up to take initiative more often.

Collaboration and Cooperation:  These skills are important, especially in group work.  Do you provide opportunities to work together? Do you help your students develop a code of conduct for group work? Students need to have opportunities to respect the ideas and opinions of others even though they may not agree with them.  Ongoing opportunities for pairs, triads and small groups enhance collaboration and cooperation skills.

Collaboration Worksheet
Persistence or 'Stick With ITness':  Sometimes this is also referred to as 'grit'. For a student to develop persistence, they need to learn from mistakes and see success. They need to have opportunities to overcome distractions and move on despite obstacles. Help children see the learning in the errors. Celebrate the learning from mistakes, help them to see that sometimes, the most permanent learning stems from making errors. Soon your students will not fear failure and develop persistence.

Communication and Relationships: A language rich environment is usually evidenced in all good teacher's classrooms. Relationships are supported by providing opportunities for collaboration and cooperation. Social skill strategies also help with relationships.

Leadership: Children have to work within various group sizes to develop negotiating skills which leads to leadership. Leadership also happens when students are able to be empathetic regarding others. The willingness to make compromises is another avenue to help children develop leadership skills.

For a few worksheets on social emotional learning, view them here.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Effective Teaching

How do you know if you are an effective teacher? The truth of the matter is, most of us know when we 'bomb' a lesson. The classic tell tale signs are all there and the key sign, the students didn't get it and better yet, they didn't engage or like it.

Ask yourself each of the following questions to ensure that you are giving your students your best, after all, wouldn't you want to be a student in your class? I sure hope so, if not, you may wish to re-think your career.

1. What types of questions will I ask that will make my students think, reflect and engage?

Effective Teaching
2.  How will I give my students feedback? Feedback is what will push them into deeper and permanent learning - more so if they respond to the feedback.

3.  Do I maintain a healthy pace for each of my lessons? How do I know?

4.  Am I authentic? Are my students able to relate to the content?

5. Am I showing passion for what I am teaching? Do I keep it fun and worthwhile?

6.  Do I provide the opportunity for collaboration, problem solving and working together? After all, we rarely solve problems alone.

7.  Is there opportunity for movement? No student wants to sit at a desk all day.

8.  Is there a purpose for learning? Did I establish it with my students? Could my students answer the question "Why am I Learning this?"

If you can answer positively to each of these questions for the content you are about to teach, pat yourself on the back and share with others.

Additional Support:
If classroom management is getting you down, try some of the proven strategies here.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Teaching Ideas for Media Literacy

Ideas for Teaching Media Literacy

1. Have learners collect ads from a variety of media: web, billboards, magazines, newspapers, radio ads, TV ads. Use these worksheets with them to determine the target audience, the gimicks used in the ads, what information is missing that the viewer should have to make informed decisions.

2. Develop your own ad for a service or a product of your choosing. Be sure to use the ad planner.
Worksheetplace Ad Planner

3. Give advice to individuals reading ads, include at least 5 tips.

4.  Why is it important to think critically about each ad you read , see or hear?

5. Why should you investigate before you buy or get a service?

6.  What do you think is meant by 'Buyer Beware'?

7.  Find 5 ads that target young people/children. How do you know these ads are targeting young people?

8. Find 5 junk food ads and indicate how or why you think that these are junk foods. Why would these ads be worrisome for young children?

9.  Should ads on unhealthy products such as  junk food, drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. be banned? Why or why not?

10.List all the persuasive methods that advertisers use to convince you to purchase a product or service.

11.  Find examples of heroes or TV/Movie personalities used in advertisements. Is this effective? Why or why not?

12.  Find ads that create a sense of urgency as to why you need this product or service. Is it effective? Why or why not? What other information is needed for you to make an informed decision about this product or service?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Do You Create a Thirst for Life Long Learning?

Educators have a phenomenal responsibility and if you're an educator in education for the right reasons then you know exactly what I'm talking about.

I would like you to read this quote and although it was written in 1941, there is no doubt that it still holds true for today.

"The test of successful education is not the amount of knowledge that pupils take away from school, but their appetite to know and their capacity to learn"

This quote was written by Sir Richard Livingstone 1941

Ask yourself a few questions:

In everything you do, are your students engaged?
Do your students feel valued and respected in your classroom?
Do you model enthusiasm and excitement for learning?
Do you vary the activities to capture the interest of all learners?
Is there learning in every activity you do?
Are you the teacher whose class you would love to be in?

If you can answer yes to these questions, you have just captured my utmost respect. However, if you haven't, perhaps one of your goals this year would be to to increase the number of questions you can answer yes to by changing your practice somewhat.

From this point onward, make a pledge to be the teacher of the class you would most want to be in.

First and foremost, help those children build an ego, a sense of self and a secure place to learn. Remember, the angry child in your room may not have that at home.

On a final note, how about giving some of these Kindness Worksheets a go to set the tone?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Social Media Worksheets

There are numerous educational jurisdictions that are now implementing a bring your own device (BYOD) program. Using technology in the classroom makes good sense. However, along with it comes using the devices responsibly.

Students need to understand what leaving a digital footprint means so that they can make wise decisions about what they put online. After all, there will come a time that it may help or harm them. Wise decisions are critically important.

I have developed many printables on social media that include: privacy settings, how to tweet, privacy violations, how to proceed with caution, how to use social apps at school, the do's and don'ts and many, many more.

These worksheets are suitable for students at a variety of grade levels.

Students will benefit tremendously by having the social media worksheets integrated into your language curriculum.

As always, any suggestions that will help you reach your potential as an educator are most welcome. Have a great week educators, your students count on you each and every day. Be the teacher of the class you yourself would like to be in.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

Calling all Teachers: How to Get Off to a Great Start this Year

Whether you are a new teacher or a returning teacher, this article will help you have your best year ever. Why? Because communicating early with parents is key.

Getting Started:
  • Have a plan to connect with parents EARLY. You can do this with a blog, a website, an email or a newsletter.  It's always helpful to include a picture of yourself and a little bit about you, not too much, just a little.
  • In your early communication, include the school hours and a warm welcome.
  • Let parents know what the students will be learning about the first month.
  • Let them know what the best method to contact you is.
  • KEY - outline your expectations for your students while they are at school and in your classroom.
  • Provide a list of any helpful supplies that their children will need.
  • Give an outline of your homework expectations.
  • Give a list or calendar of important dates. 
Behaviour Concracts in PDF
I had many thank you's from parents who commended me on my early approach to communicate with them. It eased the first day jitters and left a positive feeling with my parents. It gives you and builds a great reputation and is well worth the effort.

Remember, like it or not, parents always talk about teachers. Having a great reputation goes a long way to adding success to your year. 

Ready to move on to classroom management? Here is a checklist to make sure you're ready to go. You also might want to have a few of these behavior contracts for those 'just in case' times.

Enjoy your holidays and if you're already back to school, be sure to let me know what you'd like to see to help you reach your educational goals.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Calling all Substitute and Supply Teachers

My hat is off to you! On any given day in North America, between 5 and 6% of teachers are absent which is a much higher percentage than any other profession. Substitute teachers walk into a variety of situations including students who are upset that their teacher isn't there, under planned days and lessons that aren't the easiest to follow. Unfortunately, substitute teachers are often at a great disadvantage.

This week's post is dedicated to all the substitute/supply teachers. Here are some tips that will hopefully make your life much easier.

  • To be sure you get called back, leave great notes for the teacher and make sure any marking is done.
  •  Always leave the classroom in a respectable state.
  • Be courteous and friendly with staff members and office staff.
  • Always come prepared with a 'bag of tricks' in the event the class you walk into has scant plans for the day. (Try some of these Bellwork Activities).
  • As the students come in, look at each one in the face and welcome them.
  • Ask their names, tell them your name.
  • Remind them that their teacher will be proud of them if you provide a good report, let them know you're going to follow the teacher's code of conduct and may need their help.
  • Do your best to learn their names quickly and call upon them for help as needed.
  • Catch them doing great things and acknowledge them.
  • If you're not sure about the teacher's rules/discipline. Use a 3 point system, name on the board and 2 check marks will mean the regular teacher will find out.
  • Have a variety of back up things to do. ( Charades, scavenger hunts, collaborative math games, many things are white? how many things can you count 100 of, how many root vegetables can you name? how many names begin with a P, R, S? How many countries, cities or places can you name beginning at A in the alphabet.
Remember that your success will lead to a position or more work which is typically the goal. Visit worksheetplace for handy worksheets for your bag of tricks.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Don't Let Your Classroom Rules Fall Apart

Let's face it, teaching needs order and respect for it to be effective. This means that as teachers, you need to not only nurture each child but you need to be very crafty at setting your boundaries in order to create that respectful environment.

As often as possible you will want to recognize and reward appropriate behaviors. Punishments and negative consequences don't teach a child how to behave appropriately and often end up with a child that resents you or becomes angry. Writing out lines or giving any consequence that is repetitive in nature only serves to fuel negativity from the student. You'll find that behavior contracts, one to one talks and some removal of some privileges will be more productive.

Don't be general in your requests "Be cooperative" Be Respectful" Instead, use specific requests like "Don't shout out the answers" "Thanks for putting up your hand".   Your rules should be co-created with the students and they should not be ambiguous. The students need to clearly understand what the rules are. Keep your rules to a minimum or they will be too hard to remember. If the rules are broken, it's wise not to lecture a student, therefore, be sure to let your students know what the consequences are for not following through. Here are some great ideas about what to do when the rules do get broken.

To see more about rules and classroom management, you'll find a wealth of information here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Help Your Students Set Goals

Student Goal Setting Worksheets

Setting goals both inside and outside of the classroom is important. However, all too often a goal is set without support and help to determine the strategies that will help realize the goal.

When you help a student set a goal, limit it to no more than three and perhaps just one depending on the type of student you are working with. The student needs to take ownership and help identify the goal that would be suitable.

Look at the goals in the sample on the left. Review with your students and ask them to prioritize the top three goals according to what they feel their needs are. Once they've identified their top three goals, it's time to think about what those goals look like when they are implemented.

For instance, let's take "I will remain on task". What does that look like? Student should be able to determine a few strategies that make be something like:

  • When my teacher is talking, I will always make eye contact
  • When I am working with a group, I will be responsible for doing my part
  • When I am completing work at my desk, I will not daydream or talk to my friends
Let's take another example: "I will use my indoor voice"
  • I will not blurt out, instead, I will put my hand out and wait my turn
  • I will speak softly 
  • I will not speak out of turn
Once the goal(s) have been set and the strategies discussed, it's time to follow through. Remind the students daily of their selected goals, help them to realize those goals with positive reinforcement. Do not leave a goal until the student has realized the goal to the best of their ability. Sometimes it's helpful to use tracking sheets over a period of time.

See the worksheets and printables on SMART goals as well.

If you have strategies that have worked for you, be sure to share.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Adjective Worksheets and Teaching Ideas

Adjective Worksheets
Adjectives are taught as early as grade 2 and for many grades beyond that. Adjectives are one of the parts of speech. An easy way to remember adjectives is to think of them as describing words, words that describe people, places, things, and feelings.

Here's my top ten list of how to help with the understanding of adjectives:
  1. The Adjective Bag: Fill a plastic bag full of sensory items (cotton, putty, chalk, string, putty...) and take turns describing what the items feel like. Record this on chart paper or in notebooks.
  2. Taste Tests:  Using 10 or so paper plates, put different foods on each plate, enough pieces for each child to try (celery, smarties, parsnips, licorice, rice cracker etc.) For each paper plate item, place a pencil and notepaper to allow each student to print an adjective about each item tasted. Students should be encouraged to print describing words about taste and / or texture.
  3. My Family: Students make a list of their family members, under each member they will print describing words about their personality and looks.
  4. Circle of Students: The students stand in a circle, the teacher or selected student begins by describing the person next to them with an adjective. For instance, student A says polite, the student who was described as polite says a word about the student beside them.....athletic, pleasant, nice, smart, funny, until the students run out of ideas.
  5. Scavenger Hunt: The students go through newspapers and magazines to record as many adjectives as they can within a specific time period.
  6. Nature Walk for Adjectives: Students take their clip boards and notebooks/pencils outside. They print the noun with an adjective or 2. For instance: sky - cloudy, temperature - warm, grass - wilted, bug - ugly. Come in after the nature walk and share as a group all the adjectives they came up with on the nature walk.
  7. Adjectives in the Class: Much similar to the nature walk, students take 15 minutes to come up with nouns from the classroom and adjectives. For instance - books - many, chalkboard - dusty,  chairs - brown, blocks - broken.
  8. Partner Brainstorm: Students work in pairs. One student states a noun and the partner students provides the adjective and then they trade after 10. For instance, partner 1 says apple, partner 2 says red, partner 1 says teacher, partner 2 says nice.
  9.  Adjective Centres: Have a music centre where the students listen and describe the music, have centre with a variety of pictures of landscapes and have students describe them, have a center with a variety of movie titles and have students describe the movie and the characters, have a centre with pictures of cartoon characters and have students describe them.
  10. Stretch the Sentence with Adjectives: The teacher provides a sentence and the students write it using an adjective. (Teacher: I saw a bird. Student: I saw a big, noisy bird.)
If you have other great ideas for helping with adjectives, please share. And be sure to check out all the adjective worksheets here.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Me and You

All Graphic Organizers
Have you read a book lately? Can you relate to one of the characters in the story? In what way? Do you think alike? Do you think alike? Do you dress alike? Do you act alike?

What makes you think that you are different than the character in the story? What makes you think you are like the character in the story?

This graphic organizer requires you to compare yourself with a character. It could be a character from a book or a movie. However, be sure to think socially, physically, emotionally and intellectually when you are comparing yourself with another.

If you find this worksheet helpful, be sure to share with a fellow educator.

Spring is in the air and if you haven't checked out the spring worksheets, you'll find them all right here. 

I'm off to determine which actor or book character I'm most like. Have a great week educators!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Teaching and Learning About Nouns

Noun Worksheets
Nouns are taught as early as in kindergarten and typically not later than the 2nd grade. We teach children that nouns refer to people, places and things.  As they get a little older, it's important to teach them that nouns can also refer to ideas. Idea nouns things like: thoughts, dreams, courage, joy fantasy to name a few.  Personally, I like to break down nouns into each category when teaching children about nouns. For example:

Starting with people, I ask my students what they think their first words were. Of course they tell you Mom or Dad and then we start the discussion that nouns can name people. We then brainstorm all the people we know and come up with a list that looks something like:

People We Know
Mom,  dad, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather, cousin, friends. From there, we make our own list of naming nouns that might include Sara, Jared, Sam etc.

After that, we talk about places we've been. Sometimes they'll name say Dallas, Elizabeth Street or Niagara Falls and they are correct, but there are places like the store, the library, the school. We then talk about common and proper nouns. However, for the introduction of nouns, both proper and common nouns for naming places just fall under the category of places.

Naming Nouns of Places
Students then begin to brainstorm places: their street, favorite park, movie theaters, zoo, streets they've been on, countries, states, lakes, cities and towns they've been to.

(When students understand the concepts of nouns, we do a few activities to distinguish the difference between proper and common nouns - see the worksheets.)

A quick look around stimulates the many different things.

Have your students go on a scavenger hunt to list as many nouns as they can. Once they have their list of nouns, it's time to classify them. You can list them as people, places, things and ideas or you can also list them as Common or Proper.

See all the worksheets on nouns here.
Stay tuned,  as we expand our categories of parts of speech to include adverbs, adjectives, preposition, verbs etc. 
Yours in learning....  Deb R

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Power of T Charts for Higher Level Thinking

T Chart Graphic Organizers
We've long known that graphic organizers are a great tool to promote both written work and higher level thinking. A simple T-Chart can be used with so many concepts and they are pretty easy for students to learn how to use them. A T Chart helps to organize to sides of thinking, they support making decisions, gathering facts, comparing and contrasting and analyze patterns to mention a few.

A T-Chart looks like it sounds, there is a topic and there is a left and right side to the T. Many different words can be used in the T-Chart headings. Here are just a few:
  • Advantages / Disadvantages
  • Pluses / Minuses
  • +  /  -
  • Pros / Cons
  • For  /  Against
  • Positive / Negative
  • Agree / Disagree
  • Favor / Oppose
  • Thumbs up /  Thumbs Down
The topics are endless to use with T-Charts, here are a few to get you started:
  • Homework
  • Owning a Pet
  • Longer Recess
  • A pool in the school
  • Uniforms at school
  • Tablets for all students
This week, I've created a variety of T-Chart graphic organizers.  For a variety of T-Chart graphic organizers and topic ideas, you'll find everything you need right here.

More from Deb R next week!