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Wednesday, March 8, 2023

5 Fresh Spring Ideas to Keep Your Students Engaged

  Springtime is in the air and the end of the year is coming quickly. Are your students having a hard time staying engaged in their learning? Today I am going to talk about all things spring and helping to keep your students engaged during this challenging time of the year. 

    Spring is a great time to review skills that your students have been learning all year and one fun way to do that is with math crafts. Students love these activities and they don’t even realize they are reviewing skills they have learned. These types of crafts also make great decorations around the room. Teachers love having these projects for open house to help showcase all the skills their students have been learning. One of the favorite projects in my classroom is the flower telling time. Students love to create their flowers and show off what they have learned about telling time. This is also a great project for beginning telling time or it can even get more advanced with telling time to the minute. 

    Another activity that my students love is digital task cards. Task cards are low prep and allow students to practice the skills that they are working on. You can create digital task cards in google slides and then you can easily assign them through google classroom or whatever school management system you have. There are also a lot of different activities you can set up for your students with task cards. You can have them just straight answer the questions. You can set up the questions on google forms and make it like a digital escape room. You can have students scoot around the room to different questions and have them record their answers on their own papers. There are lots of different things that you can do with digital task cards. 

    Along the same lines as the math crafts, students love showcasing their writing with fun crafts. One project that is always a hit in my classroom is insect stories. Students create their own insect and create a story to go along with it. Another project that is always a big hit is the rainbow poems. April is National Poetry month, so this is a great project to celebrate this special month. Students love showing off what spring items are the different colors of the rainbow. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

My Nine Favorite Picture Books To Teach About Kindness

  Reading picture books to my class is always a highlight of our day. I try to find different times throughout our day when I am able to share a great picture book with my students. Books that teach about kindness are some of my favorites to share, and today I am going to share my list of top kindness picture books to share with your class. 

     The first book on the list is Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller. This book has such a sweet message about being kind. The main character puts together a list of ways to be kind to the people in her life. Then at the end of the story, she finds a way to show kindness to a new girl. This story has beautiful pictures with very sweet and simple words for students to understand. 

     The next book on the list is I Am Love: A Book of Compassion by Susan Verde. This is another great story with a sweet message. It is all about love and how we show love and kindness to the people around us. This book is full of wonderful examples of how we can show kindness, live with gratitude, and take care of our minds and bodies. An extra bonus with this book is the amazing artwork of Peter H. Reynolds. 

     Here is another favorite book on my list, I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoet. This book is perfect for younger students because it is a wordless book. The detail in this book helps students to understand how to help students who are being bullied and how we can stand beside them and help them. This book shows how one simple act of kindness can help a whole community come together to help stop bullying. I love to use wordless picture books as writing prompts for my students. 

     The next book on the list is Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller. In this book, Mr. Rabbit gets new neighbors who are otters, but he doesn’t know anything about otters. He learns from Mr.Owl to just treat them the way you would like to be treated. The author focuses on how to be a good neighbor and friend by simply using The Golden Rule. Children will even learn how to say different kind phrases in different languages. 

     The next book on the list is Have You Filled a Bucket Today? By Carol McCloud. This book talks about an imaginary bucket that gets emptied with unkindness and filled with kindness. The book teaches valuable lessons about giving, sharing and caring. The book challenges children to fill other people’s buckets by saying kind words or doing kind acts. This is always a favorite book to share and it really helps my students understand how to help other people feel good about themselves.

     Another favorite book of my class is Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson. This book is about an ordinary girl who picks some blueberries for her neighbor. Her neighbor makes blueberry muffins that she shares with friends. This creates a chain reaction of doing good deeds that help change the world. This story teaches random acts of kindness and shows how one person can help change the world. 

     The book Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBox is another great book about kindness. This book is written in rhyme, which is a fun way to present a book to your class. It’s about a group of neighborhood children who learn to find peace in everyday items that are all around them. This book helps children to find calm and happiness in their own community every day. 

     The next book on the list is Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. Chloe and her friends are not nice to the new girl Maya. Maya eventually stops coming to school. The teacher did a lesson on kindness and how even a small act of kindness can change the world. Chloe realizes that she missed an opportunity to be a friend and show kindness to Maya. 

     The last book on the list is Tomorrow I’ll be Kind by Jessica Hische. This story encourages young people to promise that tomorrow they will be grateful, helpful, and kind. This story helps all people to realize that even the smallest gesture of kindness can help to change the world. Everyone needs to remember to be kind. 

     Kindness is a skill that students need to work on. What books do you like to use to about Kindness? Share them in the comments. I can’t wait to hear what books you like to use! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

My 5 Easy Steps To A Smooth Writers Workshop Block

Writing is an important skill that our students need to learn, and should be a part of our daily schedule each week. It is amazing to see the improvement of our students’ writing when we are including it as part of our daily schedule. You can have your students write daily with just a few simple steps and systems. 

     One of the most important parts of Writers Workshop is the mini-lesson. I like to use concepts that I see my students having a hard time with and then incorporate that into a mini-lesson. The mini-lesson can be a grammar skill you see a lot of your students struggling with, or it can be a writing skill like word choice or sentence types that your students have trouble with. The mini-lesson should not be more than 10 - 15 minutes. We don’t want to have our students sitting there for a long time, instead, we want to get them to their writing. 


     The next step in running an excellent Writers Workshop block is mentor texts. Bringing in books that focus on different skills as writers is a great way to help students understand what they should add to their own writing. I like to start each new unit with a couple books that fall in that genre of writing. There are so many great books out there that go along with each of the different genres of writing that we teach. I usually display the books on the smart board so all my students can see the pages as we are reading. This also makes for a great way to discuss the books and ideas to add to their writing because all of the students can see the pages. 

     I use lots of graphic organizers during our Writers Workshop block. Graphic organizers are great because you can reuse the same organizers for the whole writing unit. This allows your students to get used to the organizers that are being used. This also makes it so I can reuse the organizers year after year. Just make the tweaks you need to make for each new year. Graphic organizers make my life so much easier and after the first few weeks of school, the students know exactly what to do with each organizer and how to use them. When my students need to add more pages to their writing they just go and grab the organizer that they need. Some students will only use one or two organizers, and some will use a lot more. Using graphic organizers makes it easy for my students to transfer their work to regular paper. As they finish their writing, they meet with me for a conference to go over it and make sure they are ready for the next step.  I love the functionality of graphic organizers, and my students love them too!

    The next part of a smooth Writers Workshop block is publishing. Once the students are done with their writing and they have met with me to go over it, they are ready to publish. The publishing process can be done in a couple of different ways. Some teachers really like their students to hand write everything out on paper. Other teachers like to make everything digital. I like to do a hybrid of the two. After the conference with me, my students get a publishing paper and write their piece on the paper. Just like the graphic organizers, I always have plenty of extras out for my students so they can just grab what they need on their own. Once they have written out their published piece on paper, they then type it on the computer. I have them use Google Docs to do this. I create an assignment in Google classroom and then they are able to type their piece. I like to have them type it also because they need the practice with typing for state testing. The more opportunities we can give them to type, the better. Also, when they type their work, all of their published pieces are organized and in their Google Drive and this makes it easy to add work to their digital portfolios. 

     The last part of running a smooth Writers Workshop block is the organization. I like to keep these paper trays from Lakeshore Learning around the room. I have a spot in the classroom for all our writing materials. I l keep our graphic organizers, rough draft paper, and publishing paper in the boxes. Once the students learn how to use the different papers and where to find them, it makes our writing time run so smoothly. Students just get up, grab what they need, and then return to their seats. Having the supplies organized is so important. I love being able to help my students become independent learners. 

     With just a few simple steps you can have your students writing every day. Your Writers Workshop will be so organized that you can run your sessions in a snap. Your students will become better writers and be begging for writing time. What step in the Writers Workshop block are you most excited to try in your classroom? Tell me in the comments! 


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