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, brainstorms.....how 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!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

How to Write a Sentence

Writing Sentences Worksheets
To a large extent, writing sentences are somewhat innate when a child is read to or when a child reads. The exposure to reading leads naturally to sentence writing. As children first begin to write sentences, they will take the form of initial and final consonants for words strung together is 3-4 word sentences:

i  wnt owtsid  (I went outside)
i lk flrs (I like flowers)

It's important not to over correct as the child is taking a risk in writing and if you really think about it, they are more right than they are wrong.  The letters are the sounds they hear, they are simply missing more often than not the vowels. Vowels are later in the developmental sequence. If too much time is spent on correcting sentences like those above, the self esteem will be in jeopardy and the child won't take risks in writing which isn't what we want.

Provide many pictures and ask the child to write what they see. To extend the sentences, remember to use who, what, when, where, why and how.

This week, I focused on worksheets to support sentence writing. These worksheets are suitable for early learning and will also help with students who have learning disabilities.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ready, Set, Goal

Goal Worksheet
Teachers and educators, with the new year now here there is no better time to have your students set realistic goals for the upcoming new year and or term. Goal setting is a great activity that links to oral language standards and written language.  You'll find these SMART goal setting worksheets and some goal setting workheets to be a great help for your students. They're done in graphic organizer style and easy to implement.

Another great activity to do with goal setting to ensure that goals are appropriately set is to use the W-5 plus how strategy. Students select a goal and then answer:

Who is responsile for the goal?
What is the goal?
When will the goal be reached?
Where will the goal be implemented?
Why is this goal important?
How will the goal be achieved?

Happy Goal Setting.  Thanks to all of our users and may your upcoming year be prosperous, happy and healthy!
Yours in educating our youth,  Deb

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Are You Teaching all About Animal Habitats?

I've been working on a few worksheets to support animal habitat and animal classification. I can't think of anything more motivating for children to learn about than animals. Just think of how easily you can embed higher level thinking questions and integrate the animal habitat unit with language.

For Instance:
  • What would the animal say if you changed its habitat? Why?
  • What animal would you like to be and why? Justify your answer.
  • If an animal could talk to you, which one would you want to hear and why?
  • Discuss why some animals could never be pets, justify your answers.
  • How many different ways could you classify animals?
  • What animal is most important to you and why?
A Shoebox Habitat Created by a Student
Animal units provide great opportunities to give children hands on opportunities. Think of how well a puppet show would work, the puppets would talk about their habitat, their enemies, the food they eat and much more. Students could work in pairs and dress up as animals and present their findings as the animal or habitat they studied.

I also like it when students build their biome or habitat in shoeboxes and of  course you can always commpromise if you don't have a shoebox.

See the animal habitat and animal classification worksheets.

Although I provide worksheets, I want you to know that it's critically important to use as many hands on strategies as is possible too.

Have a great week educators and if you are in need of a specific worksheet, let me know as I'm always adding them to Worksheetplace.com

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Organized Teacher

Being organized is everything and even more so for competent educators. If you have a process in place that
all students know the routines for, you will have a well run classroom. Look at the list below, determine what your routines are and ask yourself if the students know them well. If not, it's time to develop and practice those routines until they are fully implemented.

Teaching Rules and Routines
  •  Students know how to enter the classroom, where to put their belongings and what to do upon arriving
  • Students know what to do at every bell
  • Students know your expectations for transitions
  • Students know what to do with all of their belongings
  • Students know how to seek your attention and when it's appropriate or not
  • Students know how to get required supplies and they know where everything goes
  • Students know what your expectations are for all work
  • Students know the procedures for sharpening pencils and washroom breaks
  • Students know the procedures for turning in work
  • Students know what to do when they're work is done and when their work is done early
  • Students know how to obtain missed work when they have been absent
  • Students know what to do for a drills (fire, incidents, emergencies etc.)
  •  Students know routines for working in groups, whole class and alone
  • Students are aware of consequnces for breaking rules
If you have a procedure in place for each of the above, you are an organized teacher!  For additional supports, check out the strategies here.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Critical Thinking Worksheets
What Is Literacy?

Literacy has become the buzz word in education. Previously, literacy would be defined as being able to read and write. However, in teaching, it refers to how well one students read and write. Literacy includes being able to read, write, listen, speak and to think critically and to respond critally to text and dialogue. Literacy is a  complex set of skills crucial for everyone. To K-6 teachers it means improving literacy outcomes for our students. Teaching literacy is important for teachers given that approximately 40% of American school children, read "below grade level". The students we are educating today are tomorrow's future, we need to do everything we can to make sure that our students become competent in literacy.

What is the teacher's role in literacy?

There is no question that improving literacy outcomes for K-6 students involves hard work. To help our students read more and think more deeply about what they are reading, we must add new skills and evidenced based strategies to our teaching repertoire. We need to use strategies that support student engagement and motivation.

The following are key components for K-6 teachers to improve student literacy (you should be able to answer positively to each of the nuggets below:
  • motivating and engaging all Students
  • using large uninterrupted blocks of time (100 minutes daily)
  • parental involvement
  • rich resources and reading materials
  • early intervention for at risk readers
  • balanced literacy program (Shared, Guided, Modeled, Independent, Phonics, Word Knowledge)
  • specific instruction before, during, and after reading
  • effective questioning
  • ongoing observation and assessment
When teachers work with colleagues, consultants and professionals it will strenghten their understanding of literacy and extend their repertoire of instructional and assessment strategies. Participating in ongoing professional learning and taking additional qualifications in reading, writing and critial literacy will also help to refine and strengthen strategies to support literacy. To teach literacy effectively, teachers need a strong conceptual understanding of the reading and writing process, and about how young learners learn as well as being able to create opportunities for students to achieve and want to achieve in literacy. Teachers have a pivotal role and can and do make a difference in improving literacy outcomes for young learners.

See also: how to use literature circles, use guided reading, what to do when students finish early.

Do you have a literacy tip or worksheet to share? Let me know and I'm always happy to share freely strategies that work to fellow educators.