Monday, May 28, 2012

Special Learning Series: What’s the Plan?

Brought to you by the letters I.E.P!
(Part I of II)

By: Brooke Beverly Conway

Related Teachers Pay Teachers Storefront: Brooke Beverly

Meet the Team:
Stew Dent (the child with educational needs)
Ida Know (Stew Dent’s mother)
Paige Turner (Teacher)
Justine Thyme (Special education teacher)
Frank Lee Speakin (School Psychologist)
Justin Case (Educational Advocate)
Anita Answer (Team Chairperson)

Part I:
Stew Dent: Mom, school’s so hard! I try, and try and I just can’t get it.

Ida Know: Oh, Stew Dent. I love you, and we are working hard to get you some extra help in school. I have a meeting today with the staff at your school.

Stew Dent: Is that why I had to meet with those teachers and do all that extra testing?

Ida Know: Those teachers are part of a team at your school who are trying to figure out how you learn. I am proud of you for giving your best effort.

(Three hours later…at the I.E.P. meeting)

Anita Answer: Hello Ms. Know. Welcome to Learning Elementary School. I would like to introduce the team to you. I am Anita Answer, the team chairperson. You probably have met Paige Turner, Stew Dent’s third grade teacher at conferences. Here is Justine Thyme, the special education teacher, Frank Lee Speakin, the school psychologist, and Justin Case, the educational advocate you have invited to attend this meeting with us. We have conducted educational and psychological testing on your son, Stew Dent based on your request. We have sent home some paperwork for your review, including your parental rights. We are here today to see if Stew Dent meet to determine if Stew Dent meets the eligibility criteria for an I.E.P. 

Justin Case: Ms. Know, to clarify, an I.E.P. stands for an individualized education plan. To qualify for an I.E.P., a child first must meet the criteria for an Educational Disability: autism, developmental delay, intellectual Impairment, sensory impairment (hearing or vision, deaf/blind), neurological impairment, emotional impairment, communication impairment, physical impairment, health impairment such as ADHD, or a specific learning disability. Remember that an outside diagnosis does not equal educational disability. In addition, we evaluate if the child is not making effective progress (measurable gains). And if the child is not making effective progress, is the lack of progress due to the disability, and if so, does the child require Specialized Instruction to access the general curriculum? 

Paige Turner: Ms. Know, we have discussed my concerns regarding Stew Dent’s impulsivity and inability to attend to a task in class. Frank Lee Speakin did ask you and I to fill out checklists to determine if Stew Dent exhibited characteristics of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He has spoken with you, and we know you have discussed these results with your pediatrician. In Stew Dent’s case, we do feel that he meets the criteria for an educational disability, specifically health impairment, because his physiological capacity to function is significantly impaired resulting in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment and the disability is adversely affecting his educational performance, and he requires specialized instruction to access the general curriculum. Do you agree? Were you satisfied with the school’s evaluations? 

Justine Thyme: This ends the eligibility portion of Team Meeting. We would like to work with you to propose an individual educational plan to help meet Stew Dent’s learning needs. We have outlined Stew Dent’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Anita Answer: The first part of the IEP we would like to know concern(s) you want to see addressed to enhance Stew Dent’s education and as a Team, create a vision for Stew Dent is for the next one to five years.  

Ida Know: I would love for Stew Dent to develop strategies to help him focus on his learning. He is having a hard time reading. I would like him to gain better word attack, fluency and comprehension skills. 

Justine Thyme: We agree with you Ms. Know. 

Anita Answer: We would like to go over how Stew Dent’s disability impacts his progress, accommodations, content, method and delivery of services, performance criteria, and other educational needs, goals and objectives, schedule modification, state testing accommodations and additional information. We would like to review with you Stew Dent’s present level of performance and his recent educational testing results with you. Here we are addressing his academic and social and behavioral skills and how they are affecting Stew Dent’s ability to learn. Districts use formal assessments, such as the Woodcock Johnson, or WIAT tests to determine his functioning and get a baseline of his performance. We have also used some anecdotal information collected by Mrs. Turner, psychological education testing conducted by Mr. Speakin and additional observational data collected by Ms. Thyme. Do you agree with our findings? 

Ida Know: Yes, the reports and testing has been very thorough.  

Paige Turner: You will see how we have listed Stew Dent’s strengths and weaknesses. Stew Dent is an eager, energetic and enthusiastic third grade student. He has a solid understanding of grade level math concepts, and he is fluent in his addition and subtraction facts. We are continuing to work towards a mastery of his multiplication facts. He is currently on Rocket Math Level F, with a modified goal of 32 facts in a minute. He loves hands on experiments in science, and he is fascinated about learning about the history of our state. Stew Dent in the area of language arts, he currently reads 64 words, with 4 errors in a minute (curriculum based measurement fluency assessment January 2012), and that places him in the “at-risk” category. His elementary spelling inventory score was a 47, which placed him in the long vowel patterns category. His current A-Z reading benchmark placed him at level J. His interests involve building and creating structures out of blocks or tinker toys. He talks about playing soccer in the fall and basketball in the winter. He says he wants to be a firefighter when he gets older.  

Frank Lee Speakin: Stew Dent is a friendly and outgoing boy. In the classroom, he seeks attention from his peers and teachers, but he tries to please. He requires consistent cues to focus, both in large and small group settings and across all curriculum areas. He performs much better with structure, clear rules and consequences and routine. He is immature socially in comparison to his peers and requires supervision during unstructured situations such as recess or lunch. He often acts / reacts impulsively and inappropriately. However, with social stories, role modeling and small groups, he will learn to be more appropriate with his words and help him think before he acts. 

Read Part II of What's the Plan? on next Monday's blog post...

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Creative Book Reports: Student Instructions & Rubrics  $4.75
Hollywood Classroom Theme Packet  $4.95
Plant Unit  $5.00
5 E's Unit Plan--Electricity--It's Elementary  $6.00

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Featured Teacher: Stacy Mickelson

1.     How long have you been on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you decide to be a part of it?
I have been selling my products on TpT since October 2011.  A fellow teacher invited me to check it out and it seemed like a great way to share ideas and projects with teachers all over the country. 

2.     When did you know that you wanted to be in education?
I had originally wanted to get certification to own and run a summer camp for kids.  But it wasn't until I was in my sophomore year of college that I realized that I wanted to work with little people full-time, and not just over the summer.    

3.     How are you currently involved in education?
I teach 2nd grade at the same building I attended as an elementary student.  It is a very small, rural school that has be awarded several times for academic excellence.

4.     What would be your advice to people who are considering joining Teachers Pay Teachers?
I would recommend it to anyone to at least give it a try.  The site is growing so quickly, there are easily thousands of people searching on it every day.  You are sure to get traffic to your store.

5.     What has been a highlight, thus far, about being on Teachers Pay Teachers?
The best part of the whole experience is knowing that there are teachers all over the country that find my materials important enough to use with their own students.  It's the ultimate collaboration: teachers working together to develop best practices.

6.     What is something fun about you that other teachers don’t know?
I am absolutely terrified of snakes and spiders.  I'm not really sure why, but I think it has something to do with the way they move.

7.     Do you participate in education outside of the classroom?  In what type of role?
I consider myself a "perpetual student".  I completed my Master's in 2010 and just couldn't stop taking courses.  I've continued with an additional 11 courses, totaling 33 credit hours past my Master's.  I know it's crazy but I'm always looking for a great strategy that will help my students.  

8.     What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I've always been interested in the medical profession.  My favorite t.v. show in high school was "ER".  If I hadn't become a teacher, I think I may have gone into nursing.

9.     What profession would you not like to do?
I would have a really hard time with being a lawyer.  I'm not much of an arguer and I really hate confrontation.

10. Who is your favorite author?  Favorite educational author?  And why?
That changes from series to series.  At the present time, I am reading the Indian in the Cupboard series to my students, so I'm liking Lynn Reid Banks.  In the past I've liked J.K Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, Suzanne Collins, and Kate DiCamillo, just to name a few.

I love reading and the journeys the story takes you on.  I especially enjoy books that are part of a series.  I get to follow along with the characters as they grow and change and am always left with a sense of loss when I finish the final book. 

by Stacy Mickelson
  Stacy's TPT store

Stacy's Prized Products

This is my Prefixes Cootie Catcher.  This is one of several catchers I've created.  Students practice the different prefixes and what each means.

This is my Popsicle Subtraction Smart Board lesson.  My students were having a hard time remembering to subtract from the top down.  So I came up with this popsicle image to help remind them to "eat their popsicle from top down and to not choke on the stick.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers Link Up: Alternatives to Worksheets

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lapbooking Ideas

By: Tabitha Carro

Teachers Pay Teachers Storefront: Flapjack Educational Resources  

Have you given lapbooks a try in your classroom yet? A lapbook is a file folder with mini-books pasted inside it. Lapbooks are great to use with students to help organize information, to review skills/vocabularies, as culminating activities, as research projects, etc. 

Lapbooking with whole classes takes more organization and planning than if completed with individual students, but, if done effectively, the project will successfully engage students in creative, hands-on, learning activities. Click  Lapbooks in the Classroom to see more details on lapbooking and how to incorporate them in classrooms. One practiced tip is to encourage parents or school staff members to donate used file folders instead of purchasing new ones. By the time the file folders are covered in mini-books and construction paper, students will not be able to tell whether they are new or used.  

As a Spanish, partial-immersion teacher, the focus is on three subjects: math, science, and Spanish. Here are some lapbooks students have been completed from each of those subjects:  


After several months of covering math concepts and skills, such as graphing, division, multiplication, and multi-digit subtraction and addition, students made monster-themed mathematics lapbooks. The lapbooks were graded for accuracy and understanding of skills. The templates made with design programs, created by the author, are optional. A simple Google search of lapbooking templates provides plenty of options for creating subject-specific mini-books. Click the link for free templates to get started with lapbooks. 


As a culminating activity for an organisms unit, students chose organisms and presented research on their subjects using various mini-books inside lapbooks. Although some of the required mini-books were provided by the teacher, there was plenty of room for students to create their own, which resulted in unique, individualized lapbooks. The lapbooks were graded using a rubric then posted on the school's hallways for all to see. The lapbooks made a great display!  


Games can be included inside lapbooks and can be used in centers as interactive tools. To practice Spanish vocabulary of the seasons, add Bingo cards and a Concentration game to students' lapbooks. Shape books, with petals that opened and closed, allowed students to quiz one another on specific vocabularies. After students completed their lapbooks, they were given sufficient time to practice Spanish vocabulary words in groups. Then, they played "Around the World" and competed for mastery of their vocabulary words. Although these lapbooks were not graded, an upcoming, whole group competition motivated students to give 100% when creating their lapbooks and studying accompanying vocabulary. A "mystery judge", who was the teacher's husband, chose the top three lapbooks according to most creative and most organized. The three winners of the lapbooks competition received dollars to use in their classroom stores.
How have you used lapbooks in your classroom? Please, share!

Visit Flapjack Educational Resources Blog

Related Teacher Pay Teacher Products:

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Featured Teacher: Amanda McDonald

1.     How long have you been on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you decide to be a part of it?
I started TPT in November of 2011. I start TPT because a lady I worked with was doing it. I thought it sounded like a great idea and I wanted to try it out!

2.     When did you know that you wanted to be in education?
I think I always knew I wanted to go into education. (I use to play teacher with my teddy bears when I was little!) However, I feel like I was truly called, or knew for sure, my Junior year of high school. That's when the decision became final. 

3.     How are you currently involved in education?
I am a 4th grade teacher at Oak Grove Elementary in Cleveland, TN. I teach Math Science, and Social Studies.

4.     What would be your advice to people who are considering joining Teachers Pay Teachers?
Get involved in the forums and make a blog. I have loved getting to know fellow teachers though the TPT forum and blogs! It's so exciting to see what other teachers are doing and making and incorporating those great ideas into the classroom!

5.     What has been a highlight, thus far, about being on Teachers Pay Teachers?
I think the little milestones has been the most exciting. Selling my first product, earning 100 dollars, having my first followers, etc. It keeps it fun when you celebrate the small stuff along the way instead of waiting for a huge payoff!

6.     What is something fun about you that other teachers don’t know?
I'm a huge nerd! And not just the academic nerd, but I love super hero's and star wars kinda nerd! I don't go to conventions or anything, but I'm all about going to the newest super hero movie and getting the t-shirt! I also love funny t-shirts and laughing a lot and very loudly.

7.     Do you participate in education outside of the classroom?  In what type of role?
Not really... All of my outside of the classroom time is devoted to spending time with my husband and family and preparing lessons for the classroom!

8.     What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
There are many things I would like to try in the education profession, but outside of that I would be interested in doing dinner theater. There is a restaurant in a neighboring city that has staff that sings and serves the guests. I think that sounds like fun!

9.     What profession would you not like to do?
I wouldn't want to do anything that involved gross stuff or sitting in a cubical all day...

10. Who is your favorite author?  Favorite educational author?  And why?
Favorite Author is Janette Oke. She writes many Christian based stories that describe women overcoming trials with God's help. My favorite books from her are the books in the Love Comes Softly Series!

Educational Author I love Harry Wong! His First Days of School book really helped me plan out the first days of my first year. I still review it every year to help remind myself of the things I need to do to start the year off on the right foot!

by: Amanda McDonald Amanda's TPT store

Amanda's Prized Products

I think I am most proud of my Polygon Song! I had never written a song before, but when I went to teach Polygons this year I couldn't find a whole lot of "fun stuff". I got the whim to write and it just happened! My students loved the song and I was giddy over doing something I'd never done before!

I am also really proud of the War type games I have made. I have made several version because my students have completely fallen in love with them, but the most popular is Decimal War Game.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Types of Games to Use in Classrooms

by Rosshalde Pak

Teachers Pay Teachers Storefront: Rosshalde Pak

Students love learning when it's simplified, and games make learning easy and fun. Here are some tips on types of games to use in classrooms:

1. Student Made
Students get to shine when they create games that are used in their classes because they implement their own versions of games. Every game listed here could be made by students. If worried about time or educational connections, have students make games that count as formal assessment.

2. Bingo
There are countless ways to use bingo in classrooms. For example, I created an award-winning bingo game based upon people from American history. The boards have historical people’s faces on them, and the clues are all standards-based facts. Try math bingo with numbers and clues, which result from problems students solve mentally or on scratch paper. Bingo can be used for phonics, vocabulary, spelling, sounds of letters, and more. Bingo is a game that can be specifically designed for any subject matter. 

3. Memory
Memory is a simplified version of bingo. It works great with phonics and simple math expressions. Also, it is wonderful for ESL students: use images and words, spelling and phonics, and states with capitals. Be sure to laminate the cards. 

4. Hangman
Hangman might just be the easiest game to play.  Use Hangman when introducing new topics of study or as clues for school assembly topics. Hangman can be great as a get to know students activity. It can introduce book titles for upcoming units. Have students come up to the board and pick a word from a word bank. Hangman is a fantastic time filler.  

5. Around the World
Around the World works best with a set of flashcards--math,  sight words,  spelling, vocabulary. Have all students stand. The first student stands next to the student behind him. Show a flashcard. The student with the correct answer moves on. As a bonus, if a student makes it all the way around the room then they get play against the teacher. “What, beat Mrs. Pak?” Since I’m the teacher and I answer the fastest, I give the student three tries to beat me. If I get beat, then the next time we play Around the World, the student gets to be the teacher. 

6. Get Out of Here 
Get Out of Here is a fun game to play before the end of the day, before recess, or before lunch. Stand in the doorway with either a set of Trivial Pursuit questions or flashcards. To get out of the classroom, a student must answer three questions correctly. If not, the student heads to the back of the line and starts over. For students who answer three questions correctly, they get out of the classroom earlier than others. 

7. Jeopardy
There are lots of middle and high school teachers who utilize Jeopardy-type games. It’s great to use as a study tool before a big test. It works well when preparing for the end of units, midterms, or finals. Also, it can be used as a project for small groups of students. Let them create their own Jeopardy categories, clues, and answers so the whole class can play together. This game is perfect for arts, history, literture, science, and so on.

8. Fast Facts
Give students 100 simple math problems and a limited amount of time to solve them. The idea is to get students to understand math problems so well that solving them becomes rote. Use 100 problems and five minutes for third graders; fourth graders get four minutes; fifth graders get three minutes; sixth graders get one minute. Also, Fast Facts can be applied to pronunciation or spelling of words. Pair students, give one a timer, and the other has a list of 100 words to say correctly. Use the same time structure. Fast Facts is quick, easy, and a great way to increase memorization skills.

9. Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts are fun but take some planning to set up. The great thing is they can be used for almost every subject. Go through classroom materials beforehand to create questions. Use fill-in-the-blanks, pictures, dates, people, or anything students need to know before units. Then, put students into small groups to search textbooks, encyclopedias, online sites, and around the classroom for the clues. Get other classrooms involved and have students  visit to find clues.

Using games in the classroom makes learning easier, and time moves quickly when learning is fun.

Visit Rosshalde Pak's blogspot: Education Shortlist 

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15 Scavenger Hunts for Dictionary, Internet, Library, Math and more... $4.00 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Featured Teacher: Adrianne Meldrum

Featured Teacher Author

1.     How long have you been on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you decide to be a part of it?
I have had an account for awhile, but recently went hog wild in January of this year.  It's been really good to me. :)

2.     When did you know that you wanted to be in education?
While I was in college, I read an ad for a job as a autism preschool assistant.  It intrigued me, I thought maybe that would be something I was interested in. After being there for six months, I found it to be some of the most rewarding work. 
Being around children is an honor.

3.     How are you currently involved in education?
Right now, my first priority is to be at home with my three boys.  But, I just couldn't keep thinking about teaching!  5 years ago, I started tutoring and have found that I love middle school kids.  I never thought that would happen.

4.     What would be your advice to people who are considering joining Teachers Pay Teachers?
I say go for it!  TpT has significantly increased my sales and helped my blog get more followers as well.  The forums for sellers has been a great help to me too.  I meet amazing people and get inspired each day.

5.     What has been a highlight, thus far, about being on Teachers Pay Teachers?
Being chosen to have a freebie spotlighted in the newsletter.  That's not something I petitioned for and out of hundreds of freebies, mine got chosen.  Made my day.

6.     What is something fun about you that other teachers don’t know?
Even though I am a college graduate, I never did the cap and gown thing.  I was always on the move and didn't have the means to make it back to school to walk.

7.     Do you participate in education outside of the classroom?  In what type of role?
Currently, I am a PTO Treasurer.  I take care of the money and help with other things.  It's hard work, but I've learned that it is worth the sacrifice.  I enjoy getting to know the staff on a different level.

8.     What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Running a business, but I am trying to attempt it right now.  I created a game called Brain Tower and I am just trying to do my best to get it off the ground and going.

9.     What profession would you not like to do?
Definitely wouldn't want to a doctor.  The human body fascinates me, but dealing with peoples issues would wear me out!

10. Who is your favorite author?  Favorite educational author?  And why?
CS Lewis-his books have so much depth to them.  I never tire of reading them.
Leonard Sax id my favorite educational author.  He has opened my eyes to so many things.  He studies the gender differences in education.  I think he's on to something.

by Adrianne Meldrum 

Adrianne's TPT store

Adrianne's Prized Products

I just finished Pizza Pie and the Number Line Unit.  It's a unique way to teach about the number line.

My favorite game is Brain Tower.  It's a game I came up with and love.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers Link Up: Games in the Classroom

Monday, May 7, 2012

Using Games in the Classroom

by Rosshalde Pak

Related Teachers Pay Teachers Storefront: Rosshalde Pak 

Who doesn’t like to play games? Games are fun, interactive, and social. Being able to bring games into your classroom is a fantastic way to break up the monotony of reading textbooks, or they are great closing activities at the ends of units. However, when there are so many demands placed on educators, who are standards-focused, it can be tricky to incorporate games into your classroom lesson plans. 

Many teachers shy away from games completely because they don’t want their principal to walk in and ask why students are playing instead of learning. Yet, games reinforce concepts, skills, and curriculum materials. Below are some ways to integrate games into students’ learning: 

1. Flashcards
Every teacher has a set of flashcards in their classroom. They are a fast time fillers or quick ways to review concepts. Along the same lines are cards with images on one side and words on another. These are convenient for younger students, specialized learning needs students, or high school students learning foreign languages. Students can create their own flashcards for whole class use, in centers, or with partners. 

2. Math
Making a game with math concepts is fun, and easy. Any of the basics can be used: numbers to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems, or fractions with images, geometric shapes or concepts, variables with algebra. There are a variety of games that can be played with math, such as flashcards, memory, bingo, and fast facts. 

3. Spelling and Grammar
Having students correctly understand pronunciation of words or how to spell those words is very important. Furthermore, understanding grammar and parts of speech is equally as valuable. Give students sentences then time how long it takes to correctly identify the parts of speech. These are helpful ideas when working with English language learners or students with specialized learning needs.

4. Vocabulary
Learning new vocabulary is easier when flashcards or bingo games are used. Also, try using words or images placed onto boards with clues or definitions on opposite sides. To challenge advanced students, draw or give examples of terms that are not definitions then see if students are able to guess correct terminology. 

5. Time Filler
Have an assembly today and just 20 minutes to do a lesson? Why not play a game? Finished the lesson early with ten minutes before the end of class? Games as time fillers have to be fast activities that take little to no prep time. A time filler game is a fun and easy way to use up minutes yet accomplish meaningful learning.

6. Substitute Teacher
Having a few, detailed, lengthy games prepared for a substitute to use can be a huge sigh of relief for everyone. A bingo game is so packed with educational tidbits that teachers say it’s a lifesaver when they have a substitute. Jeopardy is another perfect example of meaningful learning when you have a guest teacher.

7. At the End of a (Thematic) Unit
Why not take a whole class period (or two) to have a game day and review bits and pieces of a thematic unit? Jeopardy and bingo are great games to integrate a lot of in-depth material into classroom learning time.

8. Science Experiments
Think about games and science experiments, such as in Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. In Potions class, Professor Slughorn gives students chances to compete to win Liquid Luck. Obviously, we aren’t working with witches and wizards, but the same game rules apply. Give students chances to compete by using science topics, such as the best and safest experiments.

9. Speak to Strengths and Weaknesses
Play games with concepts and skills that students struggle with. The same games can be used to challenge advanced students, too. By having games and activities that allow students to work individually or in pairs, the pressure of having to ‘perform’ in front of classmates disappears.

Games can be used with kindergartners to high school students. It’s the subject matter and the level of materials used that make the difference to students who are playing the games.

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Coordinate Graphing Mystery Pairs Picture $2.75
15 Scavenger Hunts for Dictionary, Internet, Library, and more  $4.00 
Plant Unit  $5.00
Math Camp-In  $9.99
U.S. History Bingo Game (Hard Good)  $38.00

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