Book Talks

Book Talk
Having a book talk within the classroom mimics what many adults do for a hobby. This works well when you have multiple copies of a few age appropriate books. Each student selects from 4-6 books, the book chosen forms the groups. After the students have read portions of their book, they meet and discuss what they've read. Students should be prompted to think deeply about what they read. Some sample questions to get students talking should be available for students which could include:
  • Why did the author give the main character those traits?
  • This book reminds me of......
  • Why did the author select this setting? How does it contribute to the story?
  • Could the events be real? Why or why not?
  • What makes you uncomfortable in this book?
  • If you summarized what you've read so far, what 3 points would you make?
  • What has surprised you or disturbed you?
  • What have you learned from reading this?
  • Predict what you think will happen next and why.
  • Talk about one of the characters and discuss who that character reminds you of and why.
See also: Book Response Worksheets and Elements of a Story Worksheets
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Working on Christmas Worksheets

Christmas Worksheets
I'm a bit late topping up my Christmas worksheets this year but better late than never. I have just finished a category of word problems involving Christmas Menus, Shopping Lists and Wish Lists. These worksheets start with the basics of adding 2 digit dollar amounts and move to shopping lists with discounts and taxes.

I'm also working on a problem solving category but have a ways to go yet. Problem solving is slightly different than word problems as you want the children to discover a method to solve the problems and of course, show their work.

I'm always looking to fill the needs of homeschoolers and educators and although I have much to do, I'll take your requests and add them to my to do list.

Have a great week educators, the holidays are just around the corner.
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Correcting Inappropriate Behaviors

Daily Progress Report
Let's face it, some children need a lot of support and guidance to correct their inappropriate behaviors. Personally, I have found that total respect, 1 to 1 conversations, positive reinforcement and a fair and consistent approach goes a long way to a winning relationship with a student who exhibits challenging behaviors. I also find it quite helpful to use a tracking sheet/behavior contract of some sort for a defined period of time to help support behavioral change. Check out the daily progress report along with the other behavior contracts found here.

See also: Analyzing when inappropriate behavior happens with these FBA worksheets.

Great strategies should be shared, if you like what you discover here at Worksheetplace, share with a friend. Have a great teaching week.
Dar
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Greater Than or Less Than Worksheets

Although it seems like a pretty easy concept, greater than and less than symbols are quite confusing for young learners. Last week, I heard one of the more comical ways of remembering these symbols, it was just  too good not to share so here you are:

"The guy with the big nose, always looks down at us so he is the biggest number!"

The students laughed and a parent told me her son won't forget it.

Give the strategy a try and here are the greater than and less than worksheets to see if it works. Have another great tip? Share in comments.

It's just over a month until Christmas, are you ready? Have a great teaching week!
Dar
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Success Criteria for Good Character

Help Your Students Become More Responsible

Free Responsibility Worksheets
Do your students know what being responsible looks like? Do they understand how to be responsible? We talk about great character traits like cooperation, respect, courage and optimism etc. but we don't often consider how it looks to a student in our classroom. Take a trait or two each month(s) and make it the focus. For instance, let students set goals about how they will become more responsible. Develop a success criteria with the class and post it for the month or two that the trait will be focused on.

Brainstorm what being responsible looks like with the students and come up with 5 or 6 items to post. It may look lilke:

RESPONSIBILITY
1.  Always come prepared for each class.
2.  Follow routines and rules appropriately.
3.  Complete tasks to the best of our ability.
4.  Take responsibility for our own behavior.
Each time a new character trait is introduced, develop a 'looks like' or sucess criteria with your class and focus on the looks like throughout the month(s).

Want the free responsibility worksheets to use with your students? You'll find them all right here.

Have a great teaching week!
Dar
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Organize Your Chart Paper

If you don't yet have a SMART/White board to organize your files from one year to the next with ease, this tip is for you.

I used to write out morning messages, problem solving strategies, word work, problems of the day and just about anything worthwhile on to chart paper. Storing it was always a challenge.

Take a hanger and some clothes pins and start hanging all your chart paper keepers. Use the sticky yellows on the side of each to indicate what they're about. AND, if you can have a bracket that shows about 6 inches or so, hang it there where they're readily available.

However, with technology - soon this tip will be redundant.

Do you have a favorite tip? Please comment and share with fellow educators.
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Word Walls for Older Grades


For Word Walls
Sometimes word walls can get too crowded, especially when they're used in higher grades. One trick that works well is binder rings of words.

Simply laminate small cards of words and using a single whole punch, put all the words for each given letter on the binder ring. On your bulletin board, you will need 26 push pins to hang each group of words. This makes the words handy for students. When students need the spelling of a word that begins with t, they grab the ring containing all the t words.

Word walls should be growing all year, those pretty word walls that become static are nowhere near as effective as a growing word wall.

See the ready made words here or check out the word families.

These tips come from great classrooms and sharing helps everyone,  as always, if you have a tip to share, I'd love to hear from you to keep the sharing going.
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Getting Your Students to be Quiet

How to Quiet Your Students Easily:

When you want your students' attention, you've probably tried every trick in the book. A flick of the lights, a ring of a bell, hands on your head, countdown 3 - 2 - 1, you name it. Are you ready to change it up?

Here's a method the students love. 

Each month pick a new one AND it needs to be related to a favorite team, event or holiday. For instance, for the month of October, you would say loudly 'Trick or Treat', that's the cue to have your students stop talking and listen.

Or if you have a favorite sports team, you would say 'Go Jets, Go'.

The students love coming up with the phrase each month and it works quite well. And if all else fails, perhaps your students need to set goals about becoming better listeners. Try these goal setting worksheets.

Listening Checklist for Students

Have a great teaching week.
Worksheets by Dar.
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Too Many Hands? or No hands?

Popsicles sticks are so handy!

Pick me, pick me, Miss Nelson, you never pick me. Sound familiar? When you ask a question you either get no hands up or too many hands up. Well, here's a strategy to ensure all of your students are listening.

1.  Get popsicle sticks and put your student's names on in permanent ink (on the ends).
2. Stick the sticks in a can with the names down.
3.Each time you ask a question, reach in, grab a stick and read the name.
4. That student is responsible for answering.

No tuning out anymore. All students are listening, they don't quite know when their name will be pulled out of the can!

This is another great tip I saw in a classroom, so once again, please try it and share it.
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Student Voice

Student Voice Box
I saw this in a classroom and was thrilled with how great of strategy it was. Great teachers always share, so please try this and share with colleagues.

Want your classroom to run smooth? Want your students to have better respect? Want to minimize the bullying and conflict? Do something different this year, give your students a voice by creating a voice box.

What you need: A cardboard box with an opening for submissions, placed conveniently near you.
Paper slips: I like to print and cut slips that have a heading at the top. (Some slips need the title Gripe, others need to be called Good Deed) You can determine the names for the slips, I've seen Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down, Cheers and Jeers, 1 Step Forward, 1 Step Back, Hits and Misses.

Now is the time to explain to your class that they have a voice. Each time they see something positive, they print it up on the slip and put it in the box. (For instance, I saw.........picking up litter that somebody else left.) If there is something negative, any student can put in the negative slip and it can be anomynous. (For instance, Thumbs down to a person who was teasing another student about wearing braces.)

Decide when you will have 'Student Voice' time. It should be for a few minutes each day or every other day. This is very important, you need to honor student voice and make it a regular happening. Read the notes and have a mini discussion. This also gives you an excellent strategy to focus on developing great character.

See more strategies for classroom management.

Have a great teaching tip to share? Please do!
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Back To School Routines

Want a great school year? Get a grip on your classroom management. Free tips and strategies right here at your fingertips.

You really only get one chance to make that first impression with your students. If you had one of those years last year where you said to yourself  'Next year will be different, I won't do that again', then be sure to learn from those mistakes.

Print the Checklist
I have some great tips and hints for you to excel at classroom management and discipline that have been used effectively by some of the most experienced educators. Learn from the best and you'll have a great year with your new students.

Tip of the week:  When your students are talking when you are, stop talking! Put the timer on. Each minute they take will need to be paid back. When the bell goes (hopefully you don't have supervision duty.) They pay back their time. By giving up a few minutes of your time, you will be teaching them that they don't speak when you are. If you begin raising their voice over them, you will be teaching them that it's okay to speak when you are. Some of our most effective teachers will tell you that this is a big no no. Learn from the best.

Have a great teaching week!
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Getting Ready to Go Back to School

First Day Jitters Printable
Be prepared for the upcoming school year. Take some great advice on classroom management, set it up right from the beginning and you'll have a great year. You'll find advice on teaching routines, what to do when the rules get broken and you can go through the classroom management checklist to make sure you're all ready.

Once you have your strategies for classroom management and setting up routines, you may want to select a few of these behavior contracts for those little tykes that push you to your limits.
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Summer Countdown

Do you find that your students aren't behaving as well as you would like them to? All too often, classroom management is a struggle as any holiday approaches. Sometimes, you just need to get down to business and claim back a little more authority. Try the countdown approach to those students who continue to be an ongoing challenge. I also like the I can do it behavior contract.

Another strategy I use is the reward system. Let's say you have 30 days left until the holidays. Establish 2-3 goals (e.g., always raise your hand before speaking, class becomes silent on the 3-2-1 countdown, nobody interrupts when the teacher is speaking). Once the goals are established, start providing 1 point for a reasonably good day and 2 points for an outstanding day. Each time the class gets to 20 points, reward the class with either free time, an outdoor period, pizza party etc.

Share what works for you, educators are always looking for new strategies.
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My Math Rant

If you are teaching math in North America, chances are that your curriculum is ridiculously daunting. Is it any wonder that the teaching of it is often referred to as the inch deep, mile long approach? Plain and simple, there is too much content!

Teachers have an impossible job. How can children possibly understand so many math concepts? The truth is, they can't! I'm sure that when these math courses of study, standards or curricular documents were put together, they were done by complete math specialists. Great, in their minds, everything is important. However, with approximately 50 minutes a day for about 180 days 'everything' can't be LEARNED, regardless that everything is taught.

My advice? Use your flexible common sense. Look at those common core standards or your curriculum and tease out those important concepts or Big Ideas and eliminate the rest!

Less is more and if we are going to teach our students anything, we need to ensure that they are learning.  If you're not sure what's important in math, I'd be concerned. However, ask a colleague. Dig deeper and teach less of those concepts, your students will then learn.

If you feel like I do, I would love to hear your feedback.
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March Break?





Want the learning to continue throughout the March break? Check out this Holiday Memory Book. Print it out and have it handy for those parents who would like to see their children do a small amount of work each day during their holidays.

The examples to the left are a couple of pages taken from the full 7 page booklet. This free memory book works great for any holiday destination. Great for teachers and homeschoolers.

You can't print specific pages of the book, or scroll down to the bottom to print the entire booklet in PDF format.
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Active Math

I design worksheets and here I am advocating 'active math'.  What is active math you ask? It's using body movements to learn math concepts. Why? Because young learners need to be active. When you allow for physical activity, learners are more engaged which allows for more permanent learning of  the concept being taught.

Just how to you get your learners physical for math? Here are 3 to get you started:
  1. All students stand up. Do the countdown around the room. Start at any number and when it's an even number, the girls touch their toes, when it's an odd number the boys turn around once. You can add any other elements you wish. (Jump once, squat twice etc.)
  2. Form numbers with bodies. 1 or 2 students makes their body form a shape or number.
  3. Math stomp. The teacher gives the question (3x2 or 9+2 or 12-7) etc. and the students stomp the answer by lifting their knees up and stomping down. Or students squat the number of times the answer would be.
Let you imagination wonder, add movement to math facts and you'll have a more engaged class! Use the comment section to add yours.
Of course, now that the class is tired out, you might want to turn to some fun math worksheets:
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The Value of Skip Counting

Skip counting is an important skill and can really turn into a great deal of fun. Skip counting merely means to count by 2's, 3's, 4's etc. When a child learns to skip count, the strategy will help with later math concepts:
  • Multiplication, let's say they're doing 4 x 6, they simply skip count by 4's or 6's tapping on each finger.....6....12.....18.....24 (tapping each finger as they skip count helps to remember how many times.)
  • Division, let's say they're doing 25 divided by 5, again, they skip count by 5, tapping each finger so they know how many taps they've done as they count 5, 10, 15, 20, 25
These are just a couple to name a few. To an adult, it just makes sense, however, to a child, you will want to point out this strategy.  Another great way to emphasize skip counting is to use 100's charts. For these, you will ask the child to shade skip counts of 2 in yellow, or put an x on skip-counts to 4, or circle skip counts of 6. Get your imagination going as the ideas are endless.
See the worksheet resources here.

Enjoy and be sure to share your great ideas, educators are always looking for something new to try.
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Literature Circles

Differentiated instruction is another educational buzzword but as I've often said, the pendulum doesn't quite swing back and forth. Rather, it hangs on to the 'good stuff' often re-naming it and let's go of the 'not so good stuff'. Differentiated instruction isn't new, it's another word for doing your best to individualize instruction - remember multiple intelligences? Bloom's Taxonomy? Well, if you used those, there's no doubt you're diffentiating instruction. The first step toward differentiated instruction? Groupwork!

One great method to help you differentiate, is to use literature circles. Essentially, you establish groups based on the book that each group will read. The groups discuss the book through various roles and the teacher rotates through the groups.

To keep it easy for you, you'll find quick tip information on how to use Literature Circles in the classroom, worksheets for each of the roles and a marking rubric.  Everything you need to support your literacy practice!

Be sure to post your great ideas, educators love what you share.
Make it a great week, Dar
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Say No to Blurting Out

Whether you're a teacher or a parent, blurting out is often an inappropriate behavior seen in many children. Why do they do it? Because they can! If you respond to a blurting out, you've just taught the child that it's okay to do so.

Think about the classroom, you are going over some instructions and a student speaks out and says 'but can we......'  How do you respond?

1.  Answer the question and carry on with your instructions.
2.  Ignore, carry on with your instructions and ask for questions at the end.
3.  Slowly walk over to the student, rest your hand on his shoulder, continue giving instructions.

Your best responses are 2 and 3. Once you engage the child, you've taught them that it's okay to blurt out, interrupt you and much more, expect a response for the inappropriate behavior.

If you remain consistent with your approach to blurting out, they will soon learn that it's an inappropriate behaviour. Will it completely end? Of course not, but it will certainly improve.

Same thing goes for students who neglect to put up their hands - DO NOT respond to them. If you do, your classroom management will suffer. When you respond to 1 student, you inevitibly are teaching the whole class that's it's okay.

For some of the best tips on classroom management including 'What to do when the rules get broken' and 'How to handle common behavior problems' be sure to check out these articles.
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The 100th Day of School

100 Days Smarter! The 100th day of school happens in this educational jurisdiction during February. I remember those days in the primary classroom. My students would make a chain link necklace for the principal, 100 links of course. But, that wasn't quite enough, they also made her a hat with 100 paper circles, each circle had a word to describe her. But that wasn't quite enough either, they wrote 100 cards of thanks to her and of course to top it off, they counted out 100 cheerios and 100 fruit loops and placed them in a cup as a snack for her. The 100th day of school provides so much fun for students even if some of the strategies are a tad bent!

Share you favorite 100 day activity.

For a terrific higher level thinking activity in literacy, chek out the Figures of Speech Worksheets.
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