It Matters!

States of Matter Worksheets
This holiday season, I was busy getting changes of state, properties of matter worksheets done. Although, they're not completely finished, I've made great headway. If you are a teacher or homeschooler of children aged 5 to 8 years old, you'll appreciate the new worksheets.States of Matter Worksheets.

Matter is everywhere, children need to understand that everything everywhere is matter. They should be able to classify all matter and discuss the properties of matter.

Have a great week educators,
Dar
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A Letter to Santa - Persuasive Writing

Write a Persuasive Letter to Santa
What if you happen to find a list of all the naughty girls and boys on the internet? What a dilemma that would be! Santa now thinks that you've been naughty. It's time to wrtie a very persuasive letter to Santa to convince him that your name doesn't belong there. Here is the template to get you started.

Christmas is a great time to link learning to something that young learners are already excited about.

Another activity I used to love doing with the students at Christmas is to get them to research how much each of the items cost for the 12 Days of Christmas (song). Then determine the cost that year. Surprisingly enough, this year the cost remained the same.

Be sure to check out the Christmas Shape Books and of course the many Christmas Math Worksheets too.

You always have the options to suggest worksheets that you like to see created. We are always looking for ideas to support teachers, homeschoolers and educators to give our students great experiences in learning.

Have a great week and may great health be with you,
Dar
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Christmas Worksheets and Printables

Christmas Actiity Cards
It's hard to believe that Christmas is just a short time away. I find that students are motivated to write when it involves something theme based and Christmas provides a great opportunity for engaging those reluctant writers. There are many ideas in the Christmas Worksheets, however, one of my favorite Christmas printables are the Christmas Task Cards.

One of the reasons I like the Christmas Task Cards is because the tasks lead to differentiated teaching and the activities give students a choice.

There are 8 tasks per card and the cards address creative writing, math and art. Print the cards on card stock or give students a copy of the cards and let them initial what they've done. The card to the left is merely a sample of one.

Be sure to share with your fellow educators, after all, if we are in the business of helping all students learn.

There are also worksheets for Christmas Math, Christmas Shape Books and Christmas Writing. Christmas provides many opportunities to integrate the writing genres into a theme. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Narrative Writing: The Best Christmas Ever, The Night Santa Forgot his Toy Sack, The Alien That Helped Santa, Santa's Secret Elf...
Expository Writing: Why I Loved Last Christmas, My Happiest Christmas, My Favorite Holiday, My Favorite Christmas Movie Character
Persuasive Writing: Why I Need ______ For Christmas, Why We Should Go To _____ For Christmas, Why Santa Should Come To My House First This Christmas
Procedural Writing: How to Decorate a Christmas Tree, How to Make Gingerbread, How Shop For Relatives, Convince Your Teacher to Have a School Dance or Party.

Make it a great week educators, if there is something you'd like to learn about or see a strategy for, don't hesitate to ask.
Dar

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How to Teach the Times Tables

Tips to Teach the Times Tables


According to the Common Core Standards, by the end of grade three, students will know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers. I’m not sure I had to memorize the times tables until the 5th grade! In my many years as a teacher, I only had a handful of students each year that would have committed the multiplication facts to memory by the end of grade three. A lofty goal for eight year olds indeed!

Before students are able to commit the multiplication tables to memory, they need to understand what multiplication is. Students need to develop a foundation for understanding multiplication which will need to begin prior to grade three. Students need to be exposed to skip counting, which means they need to count by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s as they develop fluency with counting by two, five and ten, the other numbers (3, 4, 7, 8, 9) should be added. They need to understand that multiplication is groups of the same number of things. For instance, 4 x 7 means 4 groups of 7 things or 7 groups of 4 things. Then they can begin to commit the multiplication facts to memory.

Committing the facts to memory should not be a random process. Students need to learn the times tables in a sequential pattern, when one table has been mastered, move to the next. For instance, if a child doesn't know the 10, 2 or 5 times tables, keep working on those before doing random worksheets or any of the other tables. Random multiplication facts worksheet should not  be used until children have a reasonable recall or memory of most of the tables.

Follow this sequence to help students learn their multiplication facts. Each link provides you with 6 worksheets with answers in PDF format.

-Start with the 2 times tables (for each table, there are 6 worksheets with answers).

- 10 times tables

-5 times tables

-then doubles (3x3, 4x4, 6x6, 7x7, 8x8, 9x9)  also called multiplication squares

-the 3 times tables

-the 4 times tables

-the 6 times tables

-the 7 times tables

-the 8 times tables

-the 9 times tables

Do not move from one level until mastery (or almost mastery) is achieved at each level.

For third grade students to master the times tables for all of the products of two 1-digit numbers, a solid foundation of skills will be needed starting when students begin school. These skills include being able to identify numbers and number quantity, count, skip count, and add numbers up to 100 and represent numbers and the four operations symbolically.

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White or SMART Boards and Worksheets

This week I was watching a teacher show a class of students how to use a specific graphic organizer with the whiteboard. Worksheets work well with white boards and SMART boards as the students have a chance to brainstorm a few together before venturing off to do one on their own. If we think about our lessons along the lines of  before, during and after, working with new graphic organizers as a group can be quite beneficial. Not only that, when you use graphic organizers, you are using an evidenced based practice because all students can benefit from organizing their thoughts.

This week, I've been looking at some research about using graphic organizers in math, stay tuned as there is some exciting evidence pointing to greater achievement with problem solving.

Be sure to check out all 4 categories of graphic organizers.
Have a great week, Dar

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A Small Tidbit of Advice

A teacher asked me what one piece of advice could I give him that he could implement this year to support confidence and self esteem. I thought for a moment and came up with one of my pet peeves.  A pet peeve you say? Yes, because it leads to a better way of doing business.

When educators are selecting teams or groups of students, it is often convenient to let the students select their teams or groups. At this point, I cringe. Somebody will always be the last one picked. Enough said.

This year, make a comittment to always pick the students yourself, whether it be by a draw (I love the popsicle stick idea) or just number the students off with a 1,2 or a 1,2,3,4. Do not allow the students to pick their own groups or teams.

If you have a SMART board, you'll find the random group selector quite handy. Simply put your student names in and select the number of groups, the randomizer does the rest. (To access, go to the SMART exchange site and type in random group generator.
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What To Do With the Rest of Your Students During Guided Reading

When you are working with your guided reading group, the greater challenge is not what your are doing with your group, but what the rest of the class is doing. This is the tricky part. Here are a few tips to get you started. When you don't want the children to interrupt you, wear something flashy like a feather scarf or a brightly colored bandana, this indicates that you must not be interrupted.

Establish a very clear rule that guided reading is done every day and it is a quiet time for the rest of the groups. For the rest of the groups, they need very clearly defined objectives of what they are to do. Here are some ideas to help.
  • Set up centers and let the groups rotate through one a day (3-4 students per centre). A centre could be a listening centre, a worksheet centre, a quiet reading centre and a word study centre.
  • Set up word study centres. One group uses letter stamps to make their words, another group prints their words, another group uses scrabble like pieces to build words, another group uses flash cards - quietly.
  • Pair students up for quiet games, word concentration, math facts whereby the students print the facts instead of saying the answers, story writing time.
  • Word wall Bingo. For this game, each student writes down 12 to 16 words from the word wall. Another student points to random words, the other students cross out the words. When the first student has all of their words crossed out, they put both hands in the air. They become the next caller. The game repeats.
Guided reading takes a lot of routine practicing. Establish clear routines and don't waiver from your behavioral expectations. Practice how guided reading works, give it time for the students to realize they are to be quietly busy as you work with your guided reading groups. Initially, you may find yourself stopping everything to re-focus the students for both work and quiet times. Over time, with your clear expectations, you will soon find that guided reading works for all students.

See more about guided reading and see some great worksheets about elements of a story, comprhension worksheets and literature response tasks.
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What Will You Do Differently This Year?

Change is inevitible and is also a part of the teaching and learning process. Research propels us forward regularly with new evidence of how children learn. And, as educators, it is our role to use evidenced based strategies to ensure we maximize learning for all students.

What goals will you set to be the best you can be for you and your learners? If you haven't thought about what will help you to become a 21st century educator, here are a few suggestions:

Most of all, remember why you got into education in the first place. The job is more challenging with each year, but our kids deserve our best. Teach every child as though each was your own.

Have a great week!
Dar
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It's Not Just Students Who Should be Setting Back To School Goals

Goal Setting Worksheet
One of my favorite activity to do with students in the fall is to do some brainstorming about goals and the importance of setting and realilzing goals.  There are many great goal setting worksheets here that are suitable for grades 1 through to adult. However, what about us and educators? We too need to think about what we can do to become more effective to ensure that our students reach their potential. Have you thought about some back to school goals? What would they look like? How will you get there? I asked a few colleagues and here is what they told me.

1. I will eliminate busy work. (Great, how? What will you do instead? Daily?)

2.
I will improve my classroom management skills. (How? When? What does it look like? By when? What will you do when you encounter barriers?)

3. I will use evidenced based practice in my literacy program. (How? With which resources? How will you measure this goal? When will  you know you've reached this goal?)

4. I will focus on critical literacy? (How? When? Why? How will you know that it's working?)

5. I will improve the way I teach math. (How? What will you need? What will tell you that you've reached your goal? What does improving math teaching look like?)

Goal setting requires a great deal of thinking it through. To ensure you're on the right track, fill in the goal setting worksheet which forces you to think critically about your own goals.

Yours in education, Dar
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Repeated Readings

  When learning to read, one of the most powerful strategies is to do repeated readings of a book. This doesn't mean that the book is read every day or 3 times a day. However, it does mean that over the period of a week or two, there will be lots of exposure to the book. Here is a sample of what it would look like:

My Story Character Printable
  • Today we are going to read: (provide the name of the book.)
  • What does the title tell us about the book? Why do you think that?
  • What does the picture tell us about the book? Why do you think that?
  • Read the first few pages then prompt again: Were you right? Do you want to change your mind now?
  • Continue reading, stopping at points to model thinking: I wonder why? What do you think?
  • Ask comprehension questions along the way
  • Finish reading the book and discuss it.
The book can be followed up with a written activity - draw and label your favorite part, or use one of the book response worksheets.


The next day, prompt the students for what they remember about the book. Read the book again. This time, probe for higher level thinking. Use questions that focus on:
  • Predicting
  • Inferring meaning
  • Character development
  • Author's intent
  • This reminds me of (real world event, another story, something that happened to me...)
  • When have you felt like? (specific character)
Use the story to focus on new words and vocabulary development. After the third round of reading the story, the children should be able to re-tell it relatively accurately.

Research indicates that for repeated readings to be effective, the book should be read at least 3 times in the same week.



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Guided Reading

Guided reading is the term given to effective reading instruction. Guided reading focuses on targeted strategies for specific student needs.  Students must have a vast array of skills such as, but not limited to: decoding, context, picture cues, comprehension, responding, fluency to text, and directionality. Guided reading is small group instruction whereby each student has the book which is carefully selected to address the targeted reading strategy to improve.

This week, I started a new index for guided reading.  You'll find a guided reading checklist, an overview of what guided reading is along with a sample lesson plan and specific questions to ask for directionality, decoding and fluency.

If you're a homeschooler wanting to do guided reading, these resources will help you in a one to one situation as well. Remember, guided reading is an evidenced based strategy with a proven track record to improve student reading.

If there are other resources you would like to see about Guided Reading, ask away and I'll be happy to provide them. Your input helps this site grow and meet the needs of educators.

Have a great week!
Dar
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Back to School Readiness

There are a few tried and true strategies that the best teachers use. The reason they work well is because they are implemented and adhered to at the beginning of the year.
  1. Can you answer the questions on this classroom management checklist? If not, it's time to think about it now.
  2. Do you know how you will deal with behavior issues? Here's another checklist that will get you thinking about a best practice.
  3. What will you do when the rules get broken? It's all right here.
A few other things to think about:
  • where does finished work go?
  • where does unfinished work go?
  • what cues do your students provide when they need to go to the bathroom? sharpen a pencil?
  • what do they do when the bell rings? when they come in from recess? when they walk down the hallways?
  • where will you record parent communication?
  • what will you do with notes from students?
  • what will students do that finish their work early? what about those that never finish on time?
  • how will you get their attention?
Back to school is a minds on readiness that requres careful thought and planning.
See also - Back To School Worksheets
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Vowel - Consonant Game

Flashcards in PDF Here
Let's get active when helping students identify vowels and consonants. Here's how you play:

You begin with all students standing and you say a word, when the word starts with a vowel the students squat, when it begins with a consonant , they stand.

There are many variations of this game, you may wish to just say a letter, vowels mean they touch their toes and consonants mean they stand tall and reach for the ceiling. You can use hop on one foot, touch their toes, turn around.

Games like this make learning fun. This game can also work with flash cards as well.

See also: Initial Consonant Worksheets, Letter by Letter Phonics Worksheets, Alphabet Dictionaries.

For all the educators and homeschoolers, please submit your requests for worksheets. Worksheetplace works to provide free resources to share, your suggestions are always welcome and appreciated.
Keep well and enjoy teaching, Dar
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Worksheets with a Purpose

Book Talks and Reading Response Worksheets
Remember to ask yourself 'where's the learning' when you select a worksheet. Busy work rarely leads to permanent learning. When selecting worksheets, be sure you have determined exactly what it is you want the child to learn. Copying information does not lead to learning. Worksheets often have the questions on them, therefore the child does not need to spend additional time copying. At Worksheetplace, I believe all students should be achieving to their full potential. Each worksheet is designed with that in mind. Some of my favorite worksheets are in the reading response category and they fit a variety of ages.

Remember to keep the focus on learning, learning with a purpose.

Have a great week educators, Dar
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Social Skills: Why Aren't They Mandatory?


Social Skills Worksheets

I was sitting among colleagues discussing the absolute need for the teaching of social skills.  First time we all agreed on something!!! With such a jam-packed curriculum, it seems that the important stuff has been left out.  Sure, we discussed how teaching social skills is done daily incidentally, but we also recognized that many students need much more than that. Perhaps it should drive the language program or be its own subject. Either way, there is a dire need for more social skills both at home and at school.

One of the best ways to teach social skills is through role play (drama), however, resources are limited. In any case, seize the moment. When you see a teachable moment, go with it.

This summer, I am adding worksheets regularly, in the meantime, here are a few character worksheets which fit in nicely with the social skills theme. As always, be sure to make your suggestions for ongoing worksheet needs.

For those of you on summer holidays (and I'm one of them), enjoy the summer, you have earned it.
Dar
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Musical Chairs

A colleague of mine shared an interesting technique she uses in her classroom for a seating arrangement.  After all, you know how it is, all students want to sit with their friends, but then they're just too chatty! In this classroom, there is no ownership over desks so the technique works quite nicely. The students come into her class and sit anywhere they like. However, if they are too chatty, the teacher immediately plays a bit of music, the music means,  it's musical chair time and the students have to change where they sit. The students know exactly what to do when the music is played. The teacher indicated that she used to play music much more often at the beginning of the year, however, now the students know what the expected behavior is in order to sit with their peers.

Got a tip? Share it here. After all, we get our terrific strategies and tips from educators who share.
See my favorite classroom management strategies.
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