Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Look: The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman

The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman

Reviewed by: Mary Bauer
From the opening chapter of The Gollywhopper Games, I was reminded of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The author acknowledges this inspiration.  Twelve-year-old Gil Goodson enters a contest in the company that has fired his father.  Gil wants to win enough money that his family can move away and make a fresh start. The competition is videotaped and broadcast like a reality show.  What I found most appealing was that the reader can play along and solve the puzzles along with Gil and his competitors.
This book is appropriate for grades 3-6.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Groundhog Day: Integrating Holidays into Lesson Plans

by Sarah Svatos

Teacher Pay Teacher Store Front:

“Why do we celebrate a groundhog coming out of a hole?”

At the beginning of every school year, my students read an article titled, “Holidays in the Hispanic World.” In a foreign language classroom, it’s common, and even expected, to incorporate in-depth studies of holidays and to dig into histories behind them.

After students read the article on holidays, they are asked to respond to two questions: “Did you find any of the holidays you just read about interesting enough to want to celebrate them?” and “Think of a holiday we celebrate here in the United States. Is there anything about it that people from foreign countries might find strange or unusual?” Students often respond with questions of their own: “What in the world does a bunny have to do with Easter? I don’t think anyone understands that” or “I think people would find St. Patrick’s Day really weird. I mean, how do you explain dressing in green, drinking green beer, and stuff like that?”

Responses such as these indicate students often have no understanding of the histories behind commonly celebrated American holidays. The histories of world holidays are vast and interesting! Our students gain so much cultural knowledge by researching the meanings behind commonly celebrated holidays.

So, why do we celebrate a groundhog coming out of a hole?

This is the time of year for the turning point in weather cycles of our planet. People all over the world note this time of year as special, and they have created holidays around it. The Celts celebrate this special part of the year on February 2nd with a holiday called “Imbolc,” which also includes weather prognostications. In ancient European folklore, a sacred badger or bear predicted the weather. Christians also celebrate Candlemas Day on February 2nd, and there is an old English song that goes, “If Candlemas be fair and bright, come Winter, have another flight.” Yet, why do Americans celebrate this holiday?

The hub of activity on Groundhog Day in America is in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. This region of the state was originally settled by German immigrants, and it is believed they carried with them to America the European folklore of the sacred badger, who predicted the weather at this time of year.

Holidays are never as straight-forward as they might seem to a child, or even to adults. Holidays evolve, and holidays in the United States have evolutionary history because of our multicultural immigration--what a wonderful thing to celebrate!

Related Teachers Pay Teachers Products:
Groundhog Day Printables   FREE!
Groundhog Day Word Search  FREE!
Build a Groundhog  $1.00
Groundhog Day Elementary Activities: Coloring, Card & Letter Writing  $1.00
It's Groundhog Day--A Shared Reading Book  $1.50
Groundhog Day Math Activities for Kindergarten $2.00
Groundhog Day Literacy Activities for Kindergarten  $2.00
Groundhog Day Reading Activity Packet for Middle School  $2.25
Groundhog Day Smartboard Activities  $2.99
3 Groundhog Day Activities: Reading, Graphing, ABC Order  $3.00

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Featured Teacher: K. Griffin

1.   How long have you been on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you decide to be a part of it?
I became a member of TpT in September 2011 after searching for free printable resources for my kindergarten classroom. I was instantly intrigued by the concept of teachers making extra money by sharing the work they've been doing all along :-)

2. When did you know that you wanted to be in education?
As a young girl, I loved to organize and play school with my cousins and friends. Since then, it was clear I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher.

3. How are you currently involved in education?
Currently, I am a kindergarten teacher; providing meaningful experiences, and engaging the minds of students in an "at-risk" district.

4. What would be your advice to people who are considering joining Teachers Pay Teachers?
Without a doubt....Join!!!  :-)

5. What has been a highlight, thus far, about being on Teachers Pay Teachers?
Connecting with other professionals who share similar teaching styles and interests, and making some extra money just by sharing the work I've already created; use in my own classroom.

6. What is something fun about you that other teachers don’t know?
I love to snowboard, ride 4-wheelers, and be goofy with my family :-)

7.  Do you participate in education outside of the classroom?  In what type of role?
Outside of the classroom, I participate in curriculum mapping; reorganizing and planning the scope and sequence of lessons to coordinate with the common core standards.  Although currently taking a break to spend time with my family, I have begun working on my Ed.D.

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Aside from teaching, I would love to be an author, or become involved with research.

9.   What profession would you not like to do?
Although I don't have a specific profession in mind that I would not like to do, I couldn't imagine choosing a profession that prohibits mental stimulation and spontaneity.

10.                 Who is your favorite author?  Favorite educational author?  And why?

My favorite author is Eric Carle.  Not only are his illustrations captivating to the children, he incorporates novelty, sequencing and repetition, affiliation, and problem soloving into his stories.  Currently, my favorite educational author is Eric Jensen.  He promotes and educates his audience about brain-based learning.


Griffin's Prized Products

Often creating educational resources for my classroom, I am most proud of the Kindergarten Writing Rubric.  Parents often seem confused about the writing expectations in kindergarten.  This rubric clearly lists the most important, developmentally appropriate, skills teachers are looking for in completed writing samples.

Kindergarten Writing Rubric

Interested in brain-based learning, I am also proud of the slide-presentation I have created to represent Eric Jensen's learning theory. Every detail of that presentation reflects an understanding of brain-based learning; the order of slides, colors, audio and visual insertions, photos, graphic organizers, etc. I wanted to assure that I not only "presented" Eric Jensen's brain-based-learning theory, but that the viewers "experience" it.   

Eric Jensen's Learning Theory

Thursday, January 26, 2012

TpT Link Up: Ground Hogs Day and The Super Bowl!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Book Look: A Guide for Day-to-Day Teaching in a High Expectations Classroom

A Guide for Day-to-Day Teaching in a High Expectations Classroom by Michele Luck
Review by: Rosshalde Pak
Visit Rosshalde’s Store on Teachers Pay Teachers 
Visit Rosshalde's Blog, The Education Shortlist

Michele Luck’s book, A Lesson Plan for Teachers, New or Old (Experienced, that is!):
A Guide for Day-to-Day Teaching in a High Expectations Classroom, is a different take on the standard ‘Ways to Get Started in a Classroom.’  You know the books, the ones that we all were told about in the beginning of our graduate programs and then again when we started teaching in our first classroom.  One of the biggest differences is that Ms. Luck has only been teaching for eight years, so many of the “time-tested” theories are still new to her.  This book would be good for older teachers, rather than newer ones – as it would not only be a fun trot down memory lane, but also a fresh view on some of their standard practices. There are also lots of details and examples provided, so those readers that like lots of detail will enjoy the read.

This book may not be suited for those teachers who don’t enjoy anecdotal stories.  One perfect example is the very detailed organization section of the book.  Ms. Luck goes into great detail to explain why being organized is key; and at the same time provides stories and examples of how this can be done.  For those individuals who are more ‘cut to the chase’, these tips and tools might be harder to get through.

Overall, I think that all teaching books have a certain niche of teachers that really need that book.  This book’s niche could very well be for the educator who needs to reminisce while learning some special skills.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Fresh Start to a New Year: Using Journal Writing in Your Classroom

By Beth Hammett

Teachers Pay Teachers Storefront: Beth Hammett's Store  

Perhaps you’ve tried journal writing before in your classroom, and you cringe at the thought of grading 150 journals once a week or even once a semester. However, using journal writing in the classroom can be a positive learning experience for teachers and students. For teachers, journaling encourages students to free-write and to write-on-demand, skills often needed in standardized testing situations. Also, it allows teachers extra time to write or to get paperwork out of the way. In addition, the benefits of journal writing for students are numerous: grammar usage, paragraph development, vocabulary practice, relieves stress, and sets the tone for classroom writings. Here are some simple tips for using journal writing in the classroom:

1. Block off a specific amount of time each class period for journal writing. Be consistent! For example, the first ten or fifteen minutes of the beginning of the period works well because it gets students ready to write and sets a calming classroom atmosphere. Yet, maybe quiet time is needed at the end of the class period and journal writing can be done before students exit your room.

2. Create a positive atmosphere for writing by setting the mood. Before students enter your classroom,dim the lights or use battery operated candles for relaxation.

3. Use visual prompts that connect to students. For free visual writing prompts using emotional intelligence strategies, click on the “Free Download” button and recieve Emotional Intelligence Writing Prompts .

4. Choose soothing music for background noise. Try Gary Lamb’s Music for the Mind written to improve students’ brain cognitions, or use soothing piano music without lyrics. Find more music at  Gary Lamb's website . Take notice that different types of music affect students’ concentration levels.

5. Make grading easy! Take your class roster, give each student 100 points, and deduct specific points for those observed not writing. This is an easier process than grading 150 individual journals on a weekly or monthly basis. Also, give students opportunities to make-up missed journal writes.

6. Don’t grade for content. Don’t worry about what students write. Some use journal writing as diaries while others write fictional stories, how-to essays, or wish lists. Regardless, students are writing, which is great practice. You may have students who are great artists, so ask them to add captions to their illustrations to meet writing guidelines.

7. Don’t grade for grammar usage. The opportunity to write without worry is relaxing. Remind students to use their journals to practice new grammar skills learned in language arts classes. Research states “it takes twenty times of practicing a skill to put it into long term memory…”, and journal writing is perfect for this.

8. Skim students’ journals and try to comment a couple of times per semester. You will learn a lot about your students through journal writing, and be sure students are given privacy. Ask them to fold pages they do not want read by others. Also, remind students you must refer any signs of abuses to administrators.

9. Write and share journals! As a teacher, it’s an opportunity to practice your skills, and it allows time for reflections. Sometimes, it perfect for writing about specific school issues that affect others, or to give input about certain civic topics. Many “ah-ha!” moments occur during journal writings when students are allowed to express their points of views.

For more hints and tips, or how-to use journal writing successfully, read Journal Writing in the Classroom.

Teacher Pay Teacher Related Products:

Sentence Sort  $1.50
Fact Opinion Card Sort Literacy Center  $2.50
Reading Response Task Menu Critical Thinking Questions  $3.49
Economy Quilts  $.99
Literature Bookmarks  $4.25
U.S. History Bingo Game  $38.00

Saturday, January 21, 2012

featured teacher: Mel D

1.   How long have you been on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you decide to be a part of it?
I have been on TPT for about 6 months. I started a blog and gave a ton of freebies away, then I discovered TPT. I had several bloggers email me about TPT  suggested I try to sell some products and I was hooked. My husband and I are trying to have a baby; I needed to supplement our income to help out with the expense of all the procedures I have to have. Our insurance does not cover infertility issues unfortunately. Tutoring got cut off at our school and that was my extra cash but now I have this - love it!

2. When did you know that you wanted to be in education?
I guess when I was a little girl and used to make pretend tests to keep myself busy all summer long. I used to be a little bossy and would play school with the neighborhood kids; guess who had to be the teacher all the time?!?

3. How are you currently involved in education?
This is my 8th year teaching. I taught kindergarten for 2 years; this is my 6th year teaching first grade. I keep up to date on educational trends and topics and am constantly furthering my education in every way possible.

4. What would be your advice to people who are considering joining Teachers Pay Teachers?
Teachers Pay Teachers has been a blessing to my husband and I. I have had great success in a short time. It's costly to get graphic licenses but you will quickly make your money back. It's well worth the time and effort to make products that are making an impact throughout the world.

5. What has been a highlight, thus far, about being on Teachers Pay Teachers?
I love all the positive feedback I get. It truly makes my heart melt to think teachers are using my products and it is reaching so many children.

6.  Do you participate in education outside of the classroom?  In what type of role?
I give myself about 30 minutes to clean when I get home. The rest of the evening is spent on educating myself and sharing my knowledge through blogging, with colleagues, and then applying my new knowledge when I teach my students.

7. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I would like to teach future teachers.

8.   What profession would you not like to do?
I was in nursing school before I was an educator and I couldn't imagine doing that.

9.                 Who is your favorite author?  Favorite educational author?  And why?

Dr. Seuss is my all time favorite children's book author. My favorite educational authors are "The Sister" who wrote Daily 5; Cafe. Daily 5 has been a huge success in my classroom; its my student's favorite part of the day.


Mel's Prized Products

This is a Word Work activity used during Daily 5. I created cards to be used with any Candy Land board. I followed the first grade curriculum and am making a different game to be used during Word Work weekly.

Candy Land Sight Words

The next link is to a Daily 5 rotation chart that I use in my class.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers Link Up: Special Deals on New Products!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Look: The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse
Newest book by Eric Carle – Author and Illustrator Extraordinaire

Do you remember Eric Carle’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Although it was published in 1969, Mr. Carle’s book fits perfectly with the current topic of kids eating healthy foods. His colorful illustrations enhance the message of eating healthy foods and at the same time tempt readers to run their fingers over the plump green caterpillar with its bright red head. Many of his books have clever tactile techniques that engage young children to poke their little fingers through holes or turn the page to hear a click beetle within the pages of his books. All of Mr. Carle’s books teach children important lessons that include nature, the sounds of animals, manners, letters of the alphabet, numbers, the days of the week and more.

Even with Carle's great success, one would think that new book ideas wouldn’t come easily to him. His latest book, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse demonstrates just the opposite. The fascinating video below is about The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, and how children relate to colors. 

Carle’s inspiration was a German expressionist, Franz Marc, who lived a hundred years ago. Carle had been familiar with Marc’s painting of a blue horse for many years. After researching his life, he discovered that Marc had been a soldier in WWI and when he was killed, his sketchbook with the blue horse was by his side. His book is a great tribute to Mr. Marc and his blue horse.

Sit back, relax and watch this delightful author as he demonstrates his collage technique and explains how the world of color opens doors for children.

We all love Dr. Seuss Day, but think about doing an Eric Carle Day with your students. Allow Carle's work to inspire your students as Marc's work inspired his. Display your students’ depictions of Carle’s wonderful illustrations, create an Eric Carle word wall, and have the kids create soft, huggable felt animals stuffed with cotton batting. Write poems, skits and have book talks. 
Related Links

The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle - Literature Pocket Activities
 This site is based on his book, The Grouchy Ladybug. The titular character is a ladybug looking for a fight. As kids read the book, they come to realize that it’s important to have manners. Kids can create a lady bug clock based on the book The Grouchy Ladybug or make a Grouchy Ladybug windsock, accordion book, glyph and much more.

LibraryThing has a comprehensive list of Eric Carle’s books.

Carle Museum Virtual Tour
The 40,000-square-foot Eric Carle Museum is in Amherst, Massachusetts. Not only is his art on display, but there is also a collection of out of print picture books in a library for kids and adults. Free art lessons are given and you'll see kids working with tissue paper to create their own colorful animals. The theater is where picture books are acted out in skits. This is truly a museum to see!

Coco Cake Cupcakes--Vancouver BC by Lyndsay Sung
Scroll down this gourmet site and you’ll see the very hungry caterpillar made of cake and cupcakes. What a great treat to have on Eric Carle Day!

Shop Wiki Very Hungry Caterpillar
Take a look at “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, puzzles, wall art, personalized growth chart for kids, slumber pets, block puzzles and more.
Collaborative Lesson Archive: The Very Hungry Caterpillar
This is a sequencing activity for the Very Hungry Caterpillar that includes food!!

Eric-Carle.com Teaching Ideas
Discover how teachers use Carle’s books in their classrooms!

Monday, January 16, 2012

"I Have a Dream" of Appreciated Diversity

by Rosshalde Pak

Related Teachers Pay Teachers Storefront: Rosshalde Pak's Store
Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is of special importance each year. Take the time to teach about him, and civil rights, by watching his speech each year to keep it fresh in mind. 

There is so much that is important and relevant to what Dr. King stood for.  What Dr. King, and the Civil Rights Movement, accomplished was monumental. Unfortunately, these values are lost on students of today, who are so removed from the reality of the Civil Rights movement more than fifty years ago. It's important to discuss diversity that can reach students and to provide thought provoking activities that speak to them.

Here are some lesson ideas, alongside other plans various educators and websites contributed, that are utilized to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King's special day:

1. Rosa Parks Bus Project–using a school bus, allow students to pick and choose their seats then discuss why they chose to sit there. Next, move the seats around having boys and girls sit separately. Have some students stand and organize by height, race, eye color, etc. Create verbal discussions about these differences. Back in the classroom, have students do journal writings reflecting on the emotional toll and thoughts they experienced during the activities.

2.Ruby Bridges-use free lesson plans from this wonderful website.

3. Have students watch ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and write reflectively on what the speech means to them;. Ask students to write their own speeches of the type of world they dream of.  If time permits, do oral presentations.

4. Have students discuss racial inequalities that exist today. Hand out inequality charts from the link. Be honest and open about today's civic problems.

5. Create a time line of historically relevant activities that show the evolution of Civil Rights.  Put students into small groups and give them particular decades to study.

6. Discuss current stereotypes and research where they came from, what they mean, and the powerful impact of those words.

7. Take time to learn about various religions. Create charts showing similarities and differences between religious beliefs. Learn about prominent people from all religions. 

8. Try Teaching Tolerance's website where tons of diversity enriched, free lesson plans can be found.

There are dozens of activities to be utilized with students. Since the Cvil Rights Movement is not something we are actively participating in but rather reading in history books, it’s time to bring that piece of history to life. It’s time to help create real history connections for our students and help them produce a world where we can be appreciated for our uniqueness, and, perhaps, even be celebrated for it. 

At least, that’s my dream for our future...

Related Teacher Pay Teacher Products:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

featured teacher: Mrs. Magee

1.   How long have you been on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you decide to be a part of it?
I have been selling on TPT since the very end of March 2011. I could tell that it seemed to be growing and it was around that time that I began getting into teacher blogging. So many bloggers talked about TPT or sold their products on there that I decided I would give it a try.

2. When did you know that you wanted to be in education?
I think I always knew. As a child I loved playing school and being the teacher. It helped that I had amazing teachers growing up who inspired and motivated me.  It wasn't until my senior year of high school that I got really serious about it. Except for the brief periods where I wanted to be a meteorologist (specifically a tornado chaser) or a forensic pathologist I always knew I would enjoy being a teacher.

3. How are you currently involved in education?
I currently teach first grade in Kentucky. This is my seventh year in education. I am also our school webmaster and technology chairperson. I am graduating this spring with my Master's degree in Teacher Leadership with an endorsement in Instructional Technology.

4. What would be your advice to people who are considering joining Teachers Pay Teachers?
Go for it! I never DREAMED I would be as successful as I have been. It takes work and commitment to be a big seller. Don't expect killer sales right away. It takes time to build a following. Starting a blog and sharing things for free helps you gain followers. Do not compare yourself to others. Some sellers have been selling on TPT for YEARS. It will take time to become as successful as they are.

5. What has been a highlight, thus far, about being on Teachers Pay Teachers?
Collaborating with others on sales, products, and contests has been a highlight for me. It has helped me build followers and get my name out there more. Receiving positive feedback has just motivated me more to create new products.

6. What is something fun about you that other teachers don’t know?
I LOVE Disney! Disney World, Disney movies, anything Disney! If I wasn't a teacher I would want to pick up and move to Florida and work at Disney World. I love the animated Alice in Wonderland. Once when my parents and sister went to Epcot without me, they met Alice and had her call me on my cell phone to talk to me!

7.  Do you participate in education outside of the classroom?  In what type of role?
At school I am on several committees and serve as school webmaster and Infinite Campus teacher coach. Outside of the classroom I am usually obsessing over school things. I spend a great deal of my time at home planning lessons, creating materials, and researching new teaching strategies to use in my classroom.

8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
I would do any job at Walt Disney World. Seriously. I would sweep the grounds or cook a hamburger or operate Dumbo the Flying Elephant. I was a classified computer lab instructor for two years and wish that was a certified position at the elementary level. I think teaching Art or Library could be a lot of fun.

9.   What profession would you not like to do?
I would not want to work in food (unless it was at Disney World!). I also wouldn't like working on a farm very much.

10. Who is your favorite author?  Favorite educational author?  And why?
I love Mo Willems! His books are so funny and the kids love them. I enjoy so many children's authors as children's literature is my favorite. Professionally I love Debbie Diller and "The Sisters" Gail Boushey and Joan Moser of The Daily 5/CAFE fame.


Ashley Magee, 

 Mrs. Magee's TPT store

Mrs. Magee's Prized Products

I am very proud of my Fabulous Fairy Tales unit. It was my first "big" unit I put on TPT. It is an 87 page unit that provides writing, math, science, and literacy activities for 10 popular fairy tales.

Another recent bestseller has been my Johnny Appleseed/Apples mini-unit. It contains fun activities to use when teaching about apples, a popular elementary theme.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers Link Up: New This Year Freebies!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book Look: First Day Jitters Series

First Day Jitters Series by Julie Danneberg
Review by: Anna Colley

Recommended for: Kindergarten - 6th Grade

This trio of books follows a first-year teacher from the first day of school to the triumphant final day. In book one [spoiler alert!], students will be surprised at the end to discover that the person who is too nervous to go to a new school on the first day is actually a new teacher, Sarah Hartwell. I always read this book to my classes on the first day, and used it as a starting point for our first writing assignment where each student wrote about his or her own first-day jitters. The second book, First Year Letters, showcases a letter-writing project Miss Hartwell begins with her students. The letters chronicle the many mishaps and adventures of Sarah's first year of teaching. Teachers will smile at Sarah's enthusiasm and missteps, and perhaps get a bit teary-eyed at the progress of one particular student. This book is a good jumping-off point for a discussion about inference, as the reader must put two and two together to determine what has happened in several of the letters. Finally, Last Day Blues is the touching story of Miss Hartwell's students' quest to brighten their teacher's spirit on the last day of school. Teachers will relate to the teachers' conga line as the buses pull away from the building. This is a fun read for the last week of school as a celebration of how far Miss Hartwell's class, and yours, have come.

Additional Resources:
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