Monday, August 29, 2011

Six Greatest Irritations for Teachers with Possible Solutions

by: Scipi

Have you noticed that the same old problems keep resurfacing year after year in your classroom?  Isn’t it funny how the little things sometime put us over the edge?  I can always deal with that “special” child, but the continuous line at my desk about drives me crazy.  Here are six different classroom irritations which I find to be the most annoying plus some possible solutions to think about before school starts.

A. Children who are always at the teacher’s desk

1)      Give the student “question coupons or tickets.”  Three is a good number.  The child must give you one coupon each time s/he comes to your desk.  When the child uses up all of her/his tickets, s/he can no longer come up to to your desk.  The students soon learn to “think about” what questions they truly need to ask the teacher.

2)      Stack three cups on each child’s desk which the children change as needed.  Green (or whatever color you chose) means the student is on task and has no questions.  Yellow means the student needs to ask the teacher a brief question.  Red means the student has no idea of what they are doing and needs help.  This color requires that the teacher goes and assists the child.

B.   Getting a Drink; Using the Restroom

1)    Try permitting this only during non-instructional time.

2)    Set the number of times each student may go per the week.

3)    Allow water bottles in the classroom.  Research has proven that a hydrated mind works best.

4)    Have a restroom pass so only one student is out of the classroom at a time.

5)    Have a sign out sheet to monitor the time a student is gone and the number of times a student goes.

6)    Have a special hand signal the children use to indicate they need to use the restroom; so, all the teacher has to do is nod her/his head.

7)    Count when the children are getting a drink at the drinking fountain such as 1-2-3.  This way everyone is given the same amount to time.

8)    Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer by the door so children may use it before lunch to clean their hands.  (Unfortunately, not all children wash their hands after using the restroom.)

C.   The Pencil Sharpener

1)      Have a box of presharpened pencils that all the children may use.

2)      Make a designated time when students may sharpen pencils.  If you have an electric pencil sharpener, unplug it during the off limits time.

3)      Designate an individual to be the “pencil sharpener.”  This can be a daily job in your classroom.  This person performs the task of sharpening pencils before school, after school, or during any other designated time.

4)      Place a file card with a very short pencil attached to it by the pencil sharpener.  On the card, write, “If your pencil is shorter than this pencil, you may NOT sharpen it.” The children are to hold up their pencil and match it to the one on the card.  If it is longer than the one on the card, they may sharpen it; if it is the same length or shorter, they should throw the pencil away as it is too short to sharpen.

5)      Have two cups of pencils near the pencil sharpener, one for dull pencils and one for sharpened pencils.  When a child’s pencil is dull, s/he places the pencil in the dull cup and takes one from the sharp cup.

6)      If students have a “special” pencil (such as a gift from someone), they must have their own sharpener at their desk.  This avoids claiming that the pencil sharpener “ate” their special pencil which may create drama as well as tears.

D. Stress – Especially at Test Time

1)    Have a “stress spot” in the room where a student may go and sit quietly.  You might have a Pilate’s ball there (a large ball on which a student sits and balances themselves) for the student to use.
2)    Always have stress balls available.  These are inexpensive and come in all different shapes and sizes.  In my classroom, I provide a basket of apple stress balls which my students (college age) may take and use at any time.  Many use them during test time.

3)    Walk around the room placing your hand on the student’s shoulder.  Give them a word of encouragement such as: “You are doing a great job.”

E.  Tattling

1)    Clarify the difference between tattling and telling so the children can recognize each.

2)    Explain when students should come and tell:  emergencies, when someone is hurt; when someone is being harmed.

3)    Teach students to be responsible for themselves.

4)    Teach the students to use “I” sentences with others.  (Example: “I” do not like it when you take my crayons.”)

5)    A good teacher response is: “Oh, well!”  This keeps you out of the situation without showing partiality to any child.

6)    Text Box: Name __________

My complaint is….
________________________________________________Teach the students how to resolve problems on their own.

7)    Have the students write their complaints on a small sheet of paper (the larger the paper, the more room there is to complain) and submit them to you.  Or place a jar or container in the room in which the students can place their complaints.  Be sure the student writes his/her name on the complaint.  Check them often.  If the same complaint keeps reoccurring, it is probably time to have a one-on-one conference with that child.

F.  Teasing

1)    Ask the student, “Is what is being said true?”

2)    Separate the students.

3)    Read a story about teasing to the whole class.

4)    Have the “teasers” hold hands, look each other in the eye, and apologize.

5)    At the beginning of year, establish a rule of “No Teasing.”  Teach it, refer to it, and create an environment that fosters it.

6)    Have the students give out “warm fuzzies” to each other.  You can participate also. Create a bulletin board or similar space where each child’s name is written. Hang a small paper bag under their name.  During the day, each student may write something nice about someone who helped or encouraged them or someone else and put it in the child’s bag.  At the end of the week, each child checks their paper bag for “warm fuzzies”.    Key:  Check to make sure each child gets a “warm fuzzy” each week.

Additional Related Items for Sale

Behavior Management Classroom Challenge

Declaration of Expectations

Three Classroom Management Rules

Beginning of the Year Checklist for Teachers

Friday, August 26, 2011

Incredible Ideas Contest!

Are you on the prowl for an incredible idea? Perhaps you are looking for that next great idea for encouraging creativity in your classroom, or for how to implement cooperative learning. Maybe you are looking for great ideas for "ice breakers" or building classroom community. Well, have we got the contest for you!
The Incredible Ideas Contest is all about teachers sharing their great ideas, tips and questions with one another, because we all know that sharing is one of the things that teachers do best. And the best part is that once you share your incredible ideas, you can enter to win $100 in teaching resources from Laura Candler, Rachel Lynette, SunnyDays and Shelley Gray!
Enough talk; let's get sharing! To share your incredible ideas and enter to win your choice of great teaching resources, click here or on the image below.

Monday, August 22, 2011

An Honest Look at the Common Core Standards

High school teachers in various content areas may be facing some changes this school year as many states adopt the Common Core Standards. The problem, however, is that the initiative has focused too much on selling the idea of common or national standards rather than explaining which content areas will be held accountable for teaching the standards.

It’s long been the burden of the English/Language Arts (ELA) department to be held accountable for all the reading and writing instruction in grades 6-12. Yet, we all know reading and writing does not just happen in English or reading class. Social studies courses rely heavily on reading, as do science content areas. Teachers in those areas know that their strongest students most likely have higher reading and writing skills. This is nothing new, of course. But now the Common Core Standards are spreading out the literacy standards to include those content areas.

The confusing part is how the standards are written. The assumption is that everything under the ELA standards should be taught by ELA teachers. Not so. Even though grades 6-12 literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects are listed under the ELA standards, these are directed specifically to those content-area teachers; however, they are extremely similar to the “Reading: Informational Text” strands in the grades 6-12 ELA standards. Which, of course, causes even more confusion.

For example, look at the first standard in the grades 9-10 “Reading: Informational Text” for History:

RH.9-10.1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

RI.9-10.1. Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Isn’t drawing “inferences from the text” the same as finding “evidence” in the text “as to the date and origin of the information”? I’m pretty sure that inferring is the same thing as drawing evidence.

So why the two separate strands, both listed under the ELA standards? Why rewrite the same standards twice? This is what has many ELA teachers angry, because it looks as if the Common Core Standards are forcing English teachers to limit novel study in place of more non-fiction reading pieces. But, according to Carol Jago, past president of the National Council of Teachers of English and one of the writers of the standards, this is not so. At the Illinois Reading Council Conference in Springfield this past March, Jago explained to our group that while the Common Core suggests 70% of the reading material for high school students is non-fiction and 30 percent fiction, this is across all content areas, not in English class alone.

In fact, students probably aren’t getting enough fiction reading to meet the 70% standard if they only read it in English class. If most students take just one English course in a seven-period school day, and we aren’t counting one period for a math class (which does not fall into the literacy standards), that means they are only reading fiction as required reading 16% of the time--and that is if 100% of the reading in English class is fiction.

So what does this mean? First, it means that English teachers need not worry about having to give up their novels. Second, it means that history, science, and other technical fields may want to look into teaching a novel in their field, if they don’t already. Or, perhaps, do a collaborative novel unit with an English teacher. And third, it also means that not only are the reading standards spilling over to the other content areas, but the writing standards, as well.

On the bright side, for those content area teachers who may be fearful of having to assign a large research paper and novel unit to their students, the Common Core Standards suggest shorter research projects and reading passages that are assigned more often, so students practice the skills more than once a year.

Sites that can help you when you are ready to do a research project with your students are: - Today in History: I use many of these events in history and wrote journal prompts based on them. Students can also do mini-research projects based on the events (which cover all content areas). My journal prompts are found here. You can try out the August prompts free.

By: Tracee Orman

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Featured Teacher-Author: Karla Banks

1. How long have you been on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you decide to be a part of it?
I have only been on TpT for about 4 months.  Another teacher told me about TpT after I shared one of my smartboard lesson with her.  She told me that TpT is a great place to find and share resources and she was right! TpT is the best place for teachers to get together to help each other and to share materials.
2. When did you know that you wanted to be in education?
I always said I would never be a teacher.  I hate public speaking!  I entered college thinking I would earn a degree in psychology.  By the end of my first year, I was taking education classes.  By the end of my second year, I was only taking classes for special educators.  I found I love to work with young children and help them learn. 
3. How are you currently involved in education?
I am currently a special education teacher in a Title I school.  I taught a pull-out resource class for 5 years.  I have been teaching a self-contained class for children with various disabilities for the last 7 years.  I have students in K-5 in one class, like the old one room school house.  I am also very fortunate that the school I work in is an arts integrated school.  Teaching through the arts has helped my students learn when so many other strategies hasn't worked.  In the 5 years that I have been teaching through the art, I have been able to move 4 students out of my class and back into the general classroom with only resource support.
4. What would be your advice to people who are considering joining Teachers Pay Teachers?
Jump in!  TpT is a great community for teachers.  It's a place where teachers can communicate with teachers all over the world.  They offer advice and help on every topic imaginable for teachers.  It's a place where you can find thousands of free resources that are kid tested and ready to use in your classroom.  After you have checked out the free products, start posting your own excellent materials.  The other teachers here will help you make them even better and ready to sell.  
5. What has been a highlight, thus far, about being on Teachers Pay Teachers?
I have absolutely love chatting with teachers from all across the country and around the world.  It's amazing how much education varies from place to place.  TpT has helped me to stay on top of current teaching practices and how education is changing.
6. What is something fun about you that other teachers don’t know?
I love to quilt!  I have made several quilts for my girls.  I especially love to make quilts for new babies.  I love to use bright colors and different textures in my quilts.  I just finished a UT quilt for a little boy and I am working on a Sunbonnet Sue quilt for a lady at church.  Quilting is a great way for me to relax.
7. Do you participate in education outside of the classroom?  In what type of role?
My husband and I teach the 3rd-4th grade Sunday School class at church.  We have been doing this for 7 years now.  We also work in our church's Bible School.  This is the first year I haven't taught a class in Bible School in several years.  This year, the church asked me to be the VBS director.  It has been a challenge, but I've learned every minute of it.  I still have so much to learn for next year.  
8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
When I was a child I always wanted to be an astronaut.  I love the mystery that space holds for us.  I was in the 4th grade when remember clearly when the Challenger mission exploded with the first teacher, Christa McAuliffe, aboard.  I am still fascinated with space and love to teach about it.  Most children love the  wonders that space holds and want to learn everything they can about it too. 
9. What profession would you not like to do?
I would be absolutely miserable with a job that required me to work out in the weather all day!  I freeze all of the time!  In the summer, I'm a big baby, I  hate to be in the hot, humid weather for long periods of time.  Recess is the perfect amount of outside time for me!
10. Who is your favorite author?  Favorite educational author?  And why?
I love to read and will read almost anything that someone gives me.  With two young daughters, I don't have much time to read anymore.  Recently I have been reading Torey Hayden's books.  They are amazing, mostly because they are nonfiction.  Torey is a special education teacher who writes about her class.  If you want an idea of what it's like to teach a self-contained special education class for children with severe emotional and behavior disabilities, grab one of her books.  It will give you insight of what many special educators face day in and day out.  
by Karla Banks

 Karla's TPT Store

Karla's Pick Products

This is a smartboard arts integrated lesson. Students learn how to identify the words being said before moving on to adding correct punctuation to sentences and finally creating their own sentences using correct punctuation for quotes. Student also learn about the artwork of Dr. Seuss and a few tips on how to become a cartoonist. The lesson ends with students creating their own cartoon character (step by step instructions-fool proof) and writing a quote using correct punctuation.

This is an arts integrated lesson that teaches the concepts compare and contrast. It begins with basic objects and moves the students to use higher order thinking to compare and contrast both the lives and then the art work of Rousseau and O'Keeffe. This lesson also teaches students to use a venn diagram to organize their information. Everything you need to teach this lesson is included. (Lesson plan and all background knowledge of the artists are included in the file.) 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to School

It's August...and for some teachers, like me, that means only a few more days of summer.  I have arranged furniture, changed the calendar, organized books, stuffed birthday bags, set up learning stations, written name tags, and the list goes on and on...

With all of these things accomplished, it's time for me to focus on one of the most important things—communication!  Having an open line of communication between a teacher and parents helps create a smooth start to the school year.  Here is how I start the process each year:

1. After I get my class list, I write a note or postcard to each of my new students.  It seems like such a small thing, but it really means a lot, and even big kids will tell you the note is cool!

2. I then write a letter to the parents to let them know a little about me, my classroom, my expectations, and how they can help out.  This establishes trust between parents and the teacher.

3. Along with the parents’ letter, I send a questionnaire for the parents to tell me a about their child. I ask for info such as: preferred name, description, one important fact, strengths, activities/hobbies, goals they have for their child, and any additional information they would like to provide.

4. Next comes the ice cream social.  This is an awesome activity that takes place the day before school starts.  It allows students and parents to come to school in an informal setting to find classrooms, meet teachers, and see old friends.  It lasts about an hour, just long enough to help everyone feel more at ease about the first BIG DAY!  If your school doesn't have an event like this, ask your principal if you can invite families to your room for an hour or so.

5. Sometime during the first couple of weeks of school, I make a phone call to households of students to say something positive about each child.  Each student in your class has a positive trait, so highlight it and praise the child.

These five items, in addition to some sort of regular newsletter, whether on paper or by email, will get your school year off to a great start.  However, even with the best communication, there may be a few rough patches.  Yet, with the trust you've built, those rough patches will be smoothed out before you know it!

By Hilary Lewis

Hilary Lewis's TPT store

Related Products at Teachers Pay Teachers:

Can I Chew Gum in Class? $2.00
My SummerBook $2.00                  
Back toSchool Power Pack $3.00
Beginningof the Year Class Activities and Classroom Management Tools $5.00
Back toSchool Novel Activities $4.00
First Dayof School Find a Friend Treasure Hunt $1.00

Back to School Unit

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Featured Teacher Author: Al Baggetta

Featured Teacher Author

1.   How long have you been on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you decide to be a part of it?
I've been selling my software and test packs on TPT for about three years -- shortly after Paul started the venture.  Before that I had been selling my software and test packs via the internet and through the popular teacher catalog of Teachers' Discovery.

2.   When did you know that you wanted to be in education?
I decided to become a teacher when I was in college (many years ago in a galaxy far far away -- to paraphrase).  I was studying Shakespeare and the depth of the English language, and it seemed like topics I would love to pass on to the younger generation.

3.   How are you currently involved in education?
I am currently retired and connected with educators through my website (

4.   What would be your advice to people who are considering joining Teachers Pay Teachers?
Do it.  You will not only be helping yourself but younger teachers who need ideas to make their classes more stimulating.

5.   What has been a highlight, thus far, about being on Teachers Pay Teachers?

My time on TPT has allowed me to earn a small and comfortable income to supplement my retirement and has kept me up to date on a lot of the changes in education since I retired.

6.   What is something fun about you that other teachers don’t know?
I enjoy playing the guitar and scrollsawing.

7.   Do you participate in education outside of the classroom?  In what type of role?
No other activities except developing new ideas using software and testing material for the classroom.

8.   What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Very happy just the way things are, thank you.

9.   What profession would you not like to do?
See question 8 above.

10.                Who is your favorite author?  Favorite educational author?  And why?
Shakespeare has always been my favorite writer, followed by Poe, Twain, Frost and many others.  I don't read too many books about education, since I have already lived through much of what it is all about.  Experience is the best teacher.
Al's Products
I'm most proud of my work with development of the Literary Test Generators, which I offer on my website.  When I was a new teacher I remember searching regularly for testing material, often not available, so I spent a lot of time creating my own.  I applied this to developing algorithms that I used in my Test Generator programs, which hundreds of teachers are also now using.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kindergarten Learning

Kindergarten classrooms have changed over the years.  I can remember my Kindergarten classroom.  It was huge.  There was an area that you walked into and hung your coats up.  In the back of the classroom was a stage (a real stage!) that we played on and was filled with toys.  On one side of the room there were two long benches and a TV that was attached to the wall.  We would watch Sesame Street in the mornings.  On the other side of the classroom was a rug and our teacher taught us little lessons.  In the middle of the classroom, was this beautiful circle with all the letters of the alphabet and pictures made out of marble.  It was gorgeous.  I can remember playing The Farmer in the Dell in that circle.  There was plenty of room for several round tables and we had two very large bathrooms.  One for the girls and one for the boys.  We only went to school for a half day.  That classroom still exists today, but I am sure that the learning that goes on is quite different.  Instead of learning how to cut and paste they are learning how to speak Italian and read.  If you haven’t guessed it, I went to Kindergarten back in the 70’s.  Times were different. 

Today, my Kindergarten classroom is not nearly as big.  I have tables, and a rug and a classroom library filled with books.  We are learning letters, sounds and how to read.  In math, I am teaching numbers and then addition and subtraction.  Kindergarten classrooms today offer more formal learning, but that does not mean we cannot still stimulate children’s curiosity to want to learn more and be excited about learning.  Students come to school and have an understanding that words are every place.  They already are able to see a grocery store sign and read it, pass a McDonald’s and know what it says.  Teachers are expanding a child’s language by creating rhymes.  We are constantly reading to the children and having the children read back to us, circle words and letters that they can recognize.  We teach them strategies to decode words. 

Even with all the changes, the main goal that teachers strive to reach is the same as many years ago.  Teach them a love of learning, teach them social skills that will stay with them forever, love them and realize that you are their role model and they look up to you.   For many children school is the one place that they can go to and the consistency and their feeling of safety will always be there. 

As a Kindergarten teacher, I am so grateful for all the resources that are available to students and myself.  Years ago, my students would not be able to sit at a computer or use an iPod as a listening station.  The interactive whiteboards have created a learning environment, which captures my student’s attention and gets them excited about learning.  I am able to communicate with the click of a button to find or talk to others about ideas for my classroom.  I am excited to be able to share and find things that others have made for their classrooms so I do not have to reinvent the wheel.  The children of today are born into this world that many of us are still learning how to use.  It is an exciting time and we should embrace it and remember to keep it as stimulating as possible. 

Written by Kinder Glynn

Additional Products

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cyber Monday - Free Teaching Products Today Only!

Just in case you haven't heard about the Cyber Showcase, here is a link to get you started! This was the brainchild of the amazing Laura Candler so of course it is top notch.

Basically, you can download 15 great products from 15 Teacher Pay Teacher sellers for free, today only. There are products for literature, math, vocabulary, and more! Over $85 in free products. This is a goldmine if you teach grades 3-5. Even if you don't, you may find some things you can adjust to fit your needs. So head on over!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Featured Teacher-Author: Pegi Bevins

1.   How long have you been on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you decide to be a part of it?I’ve been on TPT since 2007. I used to teach high school English, so I was part of a school district and had a lot of contacts within the district. When I left the public school system, my pool of contacts shrank, so I thought TPT would be a great marketplace for my products, and it has proven itself to be just that. Also, I had tried having my own website, but I couldn’t get any traffic to it. TPT has provided me with a customer base that I don’t think I could have reached on my own.

2.   When did you know that you wanted to be in education?
I had an excellent English teacher in high school who showed me that literature can be more than just a story. This inspired me to want to be like him.

3.   How are you currently involved in education?
I teach remedial writing at the community college level. Most of my students never planned on attending college, but with the current state of the economy and job market, they realize that it’s the best way to become employable.

4.   What would be your advice to people who are considering joining Teachers Pay Teachers? 
Offer a variety of products that can be developed quickly, keep the price down, and make them both fun and educational—something the students will enjoy doing and the teacher can be confident in the educational value of. Also, keep in mind that sometimes the simplest things work best.

5.   What has been a highlight, thus far, about being on Teachers Pay Teachers?
A highlight has been that teachers actually implement my products in the classrooms, so students all over the country are being exposed to them. Also, I’ve received wonderful feedback on my products from teachers, which inspires me to keep creating them.

6.   What is something fun about you that other teachers don’t know?I am a weaver. Yes, people still do that! Also, my husband and I are beekeepers. 

7.   Do you participate in education outside of the classroom?  In what type of role?

8.   What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I would like to explore the field of library science, which is probably pretty typical for a teacher of literature.

9.   What profession would you not like to do? 
I would not like to work somewhere where I would have very little contact with other people and do not have the chance to meet a new group of people each semester. 

10.                Who is your favorite author?  Favorite educational author?  And why?
I’m into the classics—F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harper Lee, and Charles Dickens. The classics have more depth than a lot of the literature today.
My favorite author for classroom use is Harper Lee at the high school level, Lois Lowry at the middle school level, and Natalie Babbitt at the elementary level. Their books have such wonderful life-changing messages in them. I don’t anyone can ever be the same after reading them.

by Pegi Bevins

Pegi's Pick Products
I have 23 editions of ThemeQuotes games, which I started developing when I taught high school. The games link famous quotations to the themes of popular books taught in the classroom and promote values, encourage teamwork, develop students’ understanding of theme, and challenge students’ reading-for-detail skills. They are a great way to wrap up a book unit. The games are based on most-taught books from fourth to twelfth grade.

I’m also proud of my unique types of crossword puzzles. I have puzzles that focus on figurative language, homophones, anagrams, trivia, authors’ lives, character quotations, synonyms and antonyms, and analogies, just to name a few. I have approached crosswords in a unique way to make them challenging and fun. I like to say that students learn from my puzzles without even knowing it!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...