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Sample Lesson Plan for Comprehension

I am often asked for sample lesson plans, here is a typical K-2 lesson plan for comprehension.

The ability to tell a story is associated with reading comprehension and early literacy skills. Choose great books to hook your students on reading and instill that life long love.

Grade: K-2

Duration: 3 lessons approximately 40-50 minutes each

Lesson Overview
: Reading Responses based on a story read to the class each day for three days.

Learning Goal: Students will demonstrate an understanding of the beginning, middle and ending of a story by re-telling or restating important information from the story.

: Age appropriate story books. Graphic organizer story timeline (Beginning Middle Ending), writing materials.   One of my favorite books for this activity is The Incredible Book Eating Boy

Day 1
: Put a timeline on the board or chart paper with the words: Beginning, Middle and End. Read the story to the class. Show the students the timeline and review the words beginning, middle and ending. To review the meaning of beginning, middle and ending, use questions that refer to authentic situations. (What happens at the beginning of our school day? What happens during the middle of our school day? What happens at the end of our school day? )
Begin a discussion about the story. Probe the students with specific questions that will elicit the main events that happened in the story. Ask them when the events occurred by pointing to the correct word on the chart paper.

Sample questions to help probe students: What was the problem in this story? How do you know it was a problem? How did the problem start? How did the problem end? Who are the main characters in the story? How did the characters contribute to the problem? How did the characters solve the problem?

Day 2: Prior to reading the story, ask the students what they remember about the story from the previous day. Ask the children to listen carefully for the events that happen at the beginning, middle and end of the story as they will be required to illustrate a timeline of the beginning, middle and ending.

Day 3: Divide the students into 3 groups. Let each group know that they will be responsible for acting out one of the parts (beginning, middle or ending) of the story. Let the students know that they will have a few minutes to organize themselves and that each student will be responsible for a sentence. Read the story the third time. Provide 10 minutes for the students to prepare to retell the story orally. Call each group to the front to re-tell their part of the story.
See also - Reading Response Graphic Organizers and Worksheets

The Importance of Social Skills

Social Skills and Social Emotional Teaching are a large part of what teachers do on a daily basis.

Why is it, we take it for granted that all children know how to use appropriate social skills? The truth of the matter is that many of them need to be taught how to use appropriate social skills. Even more so with the prevalence of students with Asperger's on the increase. Social skills refers to the ability to act  and behave appropriately in a variety of social situations. It also means, reading and interpreting body language and facial expressions.

This week, I added a new category in worksheets, devoted to teaching social skills. It's just a start and I expect to add many, many more yet.

One of my favorite activities to do is to have the students role play with a group of students to show how to behave in social situations that present some difficulty.

The Hundreds Chart Lesson Ideas

Ever wondered about all the math concepts that can be addressed by using a 100 chart?
Let me start with my top 10 lesson ideas for a hundreds chart.

IMAGE 1: Pieces of the 100 Chart
  1. More than and less than: we want our students to be able to quickly know what 1 more, 2 more, 1 less and 2 less than are. Play riddles, "I'm 3 less than 55, I'm 2 more than 18..."
  2. Look for the patterns. Cover up all of the odd numbers with counters/coins. What pattern do you see?
  3. Patterns: What can you say about the number below any number? (always 10 more)
    What can you say about the number above any number? (always 10 less)
    What can you say about the number beside any given number? (1 less, 1 more)
    What can you say about any number on the diagonal? (downward, the one's place and ten's place increase by one digit, upward the ten's place decreases and one's place increases.
  4. Problem solving/Deductive and Inductive Reasoning: Look at image 1.
    For a piece of the 100 chart, a child only needs one number to complete the rest. To solve these types of problems, the child says, I know the number beside/on top or below must be___, therefore, the missing number must be and so on and so forth.
  5. Growing and Shrinking Patterns: Identify as many of these types of patterns as you can.
  6. Adding and Subtracting: The hundreds chart provides an excellent visual to see subtraction and addition.
There's much, much more that can be done, but for a great start, check out my hundreds chart worksheets and lesson ideas here.

Break a Leg, I'd Give My Right Arm, Big as a Whale...

I love using figures of speech when I'm working with children who have some difficulty reading between the lines. And, in the classroom today, there are many children who are on the spectrum who also benefit from 'reading between the lines' or determining the hidden meaning. The worksheets here are for just that purpose! Use them on the presentation device you have or simply print out the worksheets for your students and see how they make out determining what the meaning is for each of the figures of speech.

Enjoy the free figures of speech worksheets here.

Thermometer Clipart

As I began to update my weather worksheets, I soon discovered that there were very few good printable thermometers available to educators. AND, if you're teaching about weather, it's virtually impossible to teach about the weather without having thermometers, both real and printable. Hence, I decided to give my graphic arts program a go and see what I could come up with.

Here you go for your teaching pleasure, feel free to print and laminate and use with your students:
Thermometer Clip Art Fahrenheit and Celsius
Clipart Temperature Thermometer, Generic for either C or F

Free Printable Fahrenheit Thermometer

Free Thermometer Clipart for F and C

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.

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.

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.

A Just Right Book

This is a great printable to provide to parents who need to determine what types of books to buy their children. Finding a just right book is important at home as well as at school.

Selecting a just right book is essential to motivate a reader to improve and to ensure the reader isn't frustrated by reading a book that is too difficult. A just right book stretches the reader to learn new words and  enhances comprehension skills.

A good rule of thumb to follow for a just right book is to use the 5 finger rule. Select a book, open it and begin reading, put up a finger for each word that isn't understood, if 5 fingers are up during that first page or two, the book is too hard. For more information about leveled books and just right books, check out the full article.

See also: 
Currently, I'm enjoying the summer holidays. However, when you're an educator, it's hard to shut the mind off from thinking about teaching, teaching strategies and of course, student learning. Have a great week educators!

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.

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.

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?

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?

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.


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.


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.