April 20, 2021

3 Easy Mother's Day Gift Ideas

The tradition of creating Mother's Day gifts in school can continue even with varying family structures. As Mother's Day approaches, you can explain that students can make a gift for a very special grown-up in their lives. Some students may make a gift for their mom while others may make a gift for a different special grown-up who takes care of them. This explanation tends to put students at ease as they can decide individually who to make a gift for. 

The 3 gifts that follow are relatively inexpensive and easy to create.

1. Real Flower in a Terracotta Flower Pot

Materials needed include terracotta flower pots, potting soil, spoons for filling the pots with soil, gloves, and a flat of flowers to plant. Students could sponge paint the flower pot before planting if desired. This gift gets bonus points for doubling as a mini science lesson! 

2. Photo Holder

This photo holder is made with a mini glass flower pot, layers of clay, and fine green wire. These materials can be purchased at your local craft supply store. Add a school photo of students for an easy project that parents and guardians love!

3. Chore Coupons

Coupon books can be made with construction paper and tied together with a ribbon. Another option is to have students make this card:



Students will have fun making a gift for their very special grown-up! 


April 5, 2021

Jackie Robinson Day and Baseball Lesson Plans

Jackie Robinson is a legend who can be celebrated for his contribution to the All American Game and for his role in civil rights. Jackie Robinson Day is celebrated on April 15th each year.

If you need to refresh your own background of Jackie Robinson, you could start at the Baseball Hall of Fame site for a brief history. Consider sharing the plaque in 3D with your students. 

Jackie Robinson Exhibit

Although there is no shortage of information on Jackie Robinson, the age group and maturity of your students will be something you want to consider. The Duckster's content appears to be kid-friendly, but preview for yourself, of course! The kids may find it surprising that Jackie excelled at many sports!

Jackie Robinson Biography on Ducksters

Once your kiddos have studied Jackie Robinson and his amazing contribution to not only baseball but to society as well, they may enjoy some more baseball-themed content.

1. Classroom, Bulletin Board, and Hallway Displays

These crafts with writing would be a great addition to your spring displays:

Baseball Craftivity

2. Theme Days

  • If you are celebrating your hometown Opening Day, consider having a sports theme jersey day. Students could wear their own team jerseys from any sport or wear a shirt that shows their favorite team.
  • Baseball cap day could be another fun theme!

3. Snacks and Treats

  • You could cook hotdogs in a crockpot to serve the kids. Prepare a few extra because you'll have fellow staff members stopping by as the smell of the ballpark whiffs down the hall! 
  • Another fun treat would be bubble gum!

4. Fun Worksheets and Printables

  • Check out these free downloads from the Baseball Hall of Fame:

Baseball Hall of Fame Free Downloads

  • Students love the variety of these sports theme exit tickets:

Sports Theme Exit Tickets

5. Class Rewards

  • Consider a class prize of extra recess during baseball season...to play whiffle ball, obviously!
  • Finally, if time allows, watch a baseball movie. Although my all-time favorite is The Sandlot, a lesser-known film called Everyone's Hero is well-liked by students and it's rated G!

Students are sure to enjoy learning about Jackie Robinson and a bit about baseball this spring...

Play ball! 










March 18, 2021

Math Game Time

Math games can help students practice basic facts and other skills throughout the school year. Math game time can be a time set aside on a Friday or during learning stations. 



One easy game to set up during math stations or on math game day is a bump game. Bump games are easy to make, easy to set up, and easy to play!

Here is an example of an Easter theme bump game:

Materials for Bump Games:

A printable game board for each pair of students

10 - 15 chips or math cubes for each student (Partners will need different colors.)

Pair of dice

Directions for 2 Players:

Players take turns rolling the 2 dice and multiplying the numbers.

If the product is not occupied, the player places a chip on the product.

If the product is already occupied by the player's own chip, the player stacks a chip. 

If the product is occupied by the opponent's chip, the player bumps it off and replaces it with their own.

If the player rolls a product that is occupied by the opponent's stacked chips, the player loses their turn as stacked chips may not be bumped.

The player that plays all chips first is the winner!

Making a Bump Game:

Bump game boards are easy to make!

Start with a background or some graphics of the desired theme such as a holiday, space, carnival, etc. 

Create 18 spots for these numbers: 2, 4, 6, 8, 9 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 24, 25, 28, 30, 32, 36

Print and play!

For a more challenging game, use 10 or 12 sided dice and adjust the products on the game board accordingly.

Pressed for time? Here is the link to the Easter Multiplication Bump Game pictured above:

Easter Multiplication Bump Game

Once students learn how to play, challenge them to create their own game board either by hand or on a computer. Give students time to partner up and try out their games! 


March 4, 2021

6 Formative Assessments You Can Use Today

Formative assessments give students a chance to show where they are in their learning. Teachers can use the information provided on formative assessments to plan instruction, form groups, or initiate remediation. Formative assessments don't have to be fancy or take a lot of time to plan, and there are many options.


 Here are a few examples of formative assessments that are easy to implement and adapt to different grade levels and subject areas:

1. 60 Second Summary

After instruction, give students 60 seconds to write as much as they can about the topic. This can be on a large index card, sheet of paper, or digitally if you prefer. Read through students' responses to check for understanding. Make note of any area of instruction that may need clarifying or reteaching.

2. Draw A Picture

Students of all ages will enjoy drawing a picture to show what they have learned. The picture can be drawn on an unlined index card or a blank sheet of paper. Encourage students to label their pictures and use descriptions as needed. Check for understanding and perhaps invite a few students to share their pictures.

3. Exit Tickets

Exit tickets come in many varieties and can be general or specific to a particular lesson. A simple exit ticket would be to have students respond to a question during or at the end of a lesson using a sticky note. Students write their responses and stick the note on the board or on a prepared chart. Printable exit tickets provide variety. They can be used at the end of a lesson and collected or used as a ticket out the door. Students love these sports theme exit tickets that can be used with just about any subject area!

exit-tickets

Or perhaps your kids prefer to be rock stars!


4. Make A Connection

Research shows that we learn new information by connecting it to what we already know. Ask students to respond to "This reminds me of...." They can be encouraged to relate the lesson to an experience that they have had, a book or article they have read, a person that they know, or something that has occurred in the world. 

5. Hand Signals

Students raise up fingers to indicate understanding. This is perhaps the quickest way to assess students' understanding. Simply ask the class how they feel they are doing with a topic and let them respond. These charts go from 1 to 5. Gotta love it when the students hold up 10 fingers to let you know they feel so confident that they are off the charts!

6. 3 - 2 - 1 Exit Slips

These exit slips are a bit more specific. You can make the numbers represent whatever you wish, but here are some common ones for students to list:

3 things you learned, or 3 new concepts

2 questions you still have, or 2 connections you have made, or 2 new words or phrases you have learned

1 opinion you have, or a picture that shows your understanding


Formative assessments are quick, easy, and useful!


February 16, 2021

Classroom Management for all Types of Writing

For all types of writing, students finish assignments at different times. They will also need varying degrees of help from the teacher as they work through the writing process.


Students can continue to write while waiting for assistance from the teacher. One way to keep students writing while waiting is to provide choice boards. These choice boards can be printed and stapled into a notebook where all the related writing is kept. 

types-of-writing

  • Start each monthly writing choice board by going over the choices and what your expectations are for each option. 
  • Next have students write in their goal. Differentiate as you see fit. Ask students to number their entries in their notebooks so that you can make a quick check of their work. A star gets colored in as each option is completed. 
  • Explain that students should use the choice boards during writing times if they finish an assignment early or they are waiting for the teacher's help. With this system in place, students can keep writing and you may no longer hear, "I'm done!"

February 3, 2021

Improving Student Writing

Using task analysis may help students improve their writing. Task analysis involves breaking a process up into smaller learning components. If writing is broken down into manageable parts, students may progress to a finished product with greater confidence and success. 

improving-student-writing


It may be helpful to model steps 1 - 5 with a class writing sample before students try the process on their own.

1. Brainstorming

Once students are given a topic or writing task, give them an opportunity to brainstorm what they know and thoughts they have about a topic. This can be done on a brainstorming worksheet or even a sticky note. 

2. The Best Ideas

Have students circle the ideas they think are the best.

3. Graphic Organizer

Provide a graphic organizer that has boxes to place each sentence. The sentences will not be in paragraph form yet. If just starting out, have students work on just one paragraph. 

4. Rough Copy aka Sloppy Copy

Students write a paragraph in proper form using their graphic organizer as a guide.  Give students an opportunity to read their paragraph first to themselves and then out loud to a partner. Students are able to find and correct errors when they read out loud. Make a quick check of the sloppy copy before students write a final copy.

5. Final Copy

Students write their paragraph(s) out neatly on colored paper, fun writing paper, or type and print.

6. Craft

Select some writing assignments for display. Have students create a craft after the writing is complete because a hallway or bulletin board is a great place the display the work of these young authors! 


Here are a few writing resources that include graphic organizers to help students build confidence:

improving-student-writing

improving-student-writing

improving-student-writing

improving-student-writing

improving-student-writing

improving-student-writing


A few years back, I asked students to begin writing, and the class looked at me with that collective blank expresssion. One student asked, "But where's our organizer?" That was all the proof I needed that this tool was helping students become successful writers! 


January 19, 2021

Teaching Long Division

Teaching long division requires patience and practice! The following steps take students from the concrete to the abstract so they have an understanding of what long division actually is.

long-division-worksheets

Step 1

Step one involves manipulatives to remind students that division is actually just making groups. I'm partial to Skittles, but other options could be: fish crackers, mini-pretzels, small crackers, etc.

long-division-worksheets

Step 2

For Step 2, explain to students that it wouldn't be practical to sort items into groups when dealing with larger numbers, but base 10 blocks will help them visualize the division. 

long-division

Step 3

For Step 3, use the same problem that was used in step 2 to introduce the algorithm.

long-division

Step 4

For Step 4, continue working through a few problems together, increasing difficulty based on students' needs.

long-division

Step 5

When students are ready, show them how to check their answer with multiplication. Then, practice, practice, practice! Since some students get overwhelmed by a page filled with problems, consider having students work through one long division problem per day until confidence builds. 

long-division


Here you'll find a set of 15 worksheets where students complete one long division problem per day. It's a great way to get students comfortable with long division!
long-division-worksheets