Have you ever struggled with planning out your year in Language Arts? Well, today's your lucky day because I'm giving my entire Language Arts program a makeover this year (in my spare time). :D
You see, I'm always learning new techniques and finding great ideas that I want to incorporate into the whole. For awhile this year I was on information overload, so I just let it all sit and marinate. But now,, I'm ready to tackle it all, add in the best of the best and toss the rest.
There are certainly plenty of things to have regrets about or beat ourselves up about as teachers and as parents. But... here's a few you should never apologize for.
So what?! As my mom would say..."quit boo hooing about it, learn something from it and try again". Show your students how to accept failure and start over. Now, there's a lesson worth teaching! Your failure is a powerful teachable moment for you to use with your students.
This is a big one! If you don't hold to your standards and expectations, then parents and students are going to fight you all year. Being firm is not mean or personal, it's just the law in your kingdom. Get yourself prepared with a list of all the objections you've gotten from kids or parents in the past. Next, write down your reasoning the way you want to sound when you answer them....
Here's my back-to-school book picks for those first weeks of school. With the help of these 15 fun books, you'll set the stage for great discussion and the opportunity to teach your expectations and train your students. While this is far from a complete list, it's a good start to your back-to-school collection.
Pigeon has to start school and is terrified until... As usual, Pigeon is dramatic and funny but expresses all the emotions (and excuses) kids really have.
So many kiddos are nervous about school and the unknown. This timely book (and very funny) book can help pave the way to talking about all those fears.
Chrysanthemum loves her unusual name until she starts school and the mean kids get to her. Not to worry, her teacher has an ace up her sleeve.
Perfect for talking about class culture and how to treat others. It's also great for reminding students what others think of us doesn't...
Hmmm. Well, since you asked...
When I first started teaching I thought read alouds should be treated as an “extra” with “time permitting." Obviously, I had a LOT to learn. With time and experience, I've learned differently. Read alouds are actually a golden opportunity to teach a good majority of reading and writing skills and strategies in meaningful and memorable ways. Not to mention, if you plan carefully, you can add in non-fiction and historical fiction texts to pair with your stories and/or poetry and get some mileage in Science and Social Studies. That's a huge bonus.
So, here's an example of read aloud ideas I might plan for a week in a first grade classroom and in a fifth grade classroom.
The Egyptian Cinderella by Jewell Reinhart Coburn
The Rough-Faced Girl by Rafe Martin
Adelita by Tomie DePaolo
I'm always on the hunt for easy gifts students can make.
Dads get shafted a bit sometimes when school gets out before Father's Day. Help your students prep a gift now, so they'll be ready in June even if school gets out before then.
This one is an app. You can get it on your tablet (or phone) for students to use. It costs just $2.99. First, have students prepare a list of 5-10 words they want to use to describe themselves or they can choose words to use as a hidden message for their dad. Snap a picture of the student with the tablet (or phone). Next, have the student tap on the T to enter their words. Then, they can tap the Style button to choose the look they want. Once they're done, the pic can be sent to a printer. Create a frame with construction paper and it's done!
Print the card pages (back to back) and the token sheet on card stock. Students create a card with slots to place the...
I think we can all agree that sight word knowledge is important to fluent reading. Since sight words are functors, the glue that hold sentences together, they're everywhere in our reading. Once students have a good sight word vocabulary, their reading takes off. In short, students struggle less and reading becomes more pleasurable. Knowing sight words is just one more tool we can give students' to put in their reading toolkit.
As much as we want students to know their sight words, we have to use caution in choosing how to teach them. Making sight word instruction another chore is stressful for everyone. We know stress inhibits our brain's memory system. The more stressful we make learning, the less students remember. So...
Here's a system that's super easy and takes only few minutes to do with each of your small groups. Once I started using it with my students, I realized it was a game changer....
Social media can be both a blessing and a curse in our personal and professional lives, right?! Well, I can't help you with your personal addiction to your feeds, but your professional habits are another story.
Full disclosure: I'm a "moderation in all things" kind of girl, so you're going to be hearing about limits too.
The first thing you need to do is turn off all of your notifications in any platform you use. The more you use them, the more notifications you'll get. Ugh! Too distracting!
That said, let's jump right in. if you don't use social media for teaching ideas, inspiration and connections, it's time to change that.
As we head into the latter part of the school year, we can all get a bit grumpy. Let's face it, life in a crowded place can wear on us. As I tell my kids, "sometimes it's just too much togetherness." Occasionally, we just need a break and chance to be grumpy for a bit.
Helping students both understand their feelings and find appropriate ways to cope is a big part of effective classroom management. I find picture books to be a great way to do that while teaching content at the same time.
Jim woke up grumpy and got grumpier the more everyone tried to tell him what to do about it. When Norman finally tells Jim, "It's a wonderful day to be grumpy." Jim finally starts to feel a little bit better. There's just something about being understood that's more helpful than the most well-intentioned advice.
Well...you know me. I...
I get asked by teachers for book suggestions, so I decided to periodically offer a few by category. The first set is below. It's a bit longer than I intended. Yes, I got carried away. :D
Here's a list of Mentor Texts for STEM topics. It is by no means a comprehensive list. That would be overwhelming for all of us. Think of it as a place to start.
Not sold on the power of read alouds? Listen to this sound bite on the power of reading aloud from Kate DiCamillo.
Want it as a printable list? I've got you covered! You can grab the full list here.
Books by Andrea Beaty
· Rosie Revere, Engineer
· Ada Twist, Scientist
· Iggy Peck, Architect
Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Papas Mechanical Fish by Fleming
Jack and the Geniuses by Bill Nye
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by Kamkwamba and Mealer
Successful Language Arts instruction with minimal worksheets is not just possible, it really works! However, I'm not going to lie to you and tell you it's easy. In order to help students be successful, we need to be directed, knowledgeable and able to embed learning into every moment. It's not easy to get started, but it's quite simple to maintain once we get the hang of it. Like anything worth doing, it takes practice and reflection (rinse and repeat).
There are 5 essential steps to setting up successful Language Arts instruction.
You could use a 4 Blocks format as well. I've seen lots of variations of these. What each classroom looks like depends on the teacher. Know this, there's more than one way to success. Whatever you choose, give your program structure and flexibility.
I keep my phonemic awareness separate from my Language Arts block. I start my day with Phonemic Awareness at the end of our morning meeting. We...
Every teacher wants their students to become committed readers. Here's a simple "how to" cheat sheet you can provide to help PARENTS support their kids in their reading journey. I call it the Sneaky Parent's Guide to Growing Readers because it's filled with loving, savvy tips to make reading feel fun and desirable.