Monday, January 28, 2013

The Mysterious Donor

"Will You Be My Valentine?" Look around your many of your students need a special holiday acknowledgement?

Think back to your elementary or secondary school days when you anticipated getting chocolates in a heart-shaped box or a vase of red roses on that special holiday. Valentine's Day is supposed to be fun-filled, yet there are students who wait anxiously for invitations to dances or parties only to be disappointed. Holidays can cause anxieties and stress for some students. 
How can teachers help students on Valentine's Day? Become the mysterious Valentine's Day donor! It's an easy task, especially if you teach lower elementary students. Purchase special cards or treats then slip them into students' bags or desks. No need to fill out the "From" section since that is part of the mystery. 

As students get older and wiser, teachers must become craftier at hiding thier identities. Many junior high and high schools partner with local florists for special deals and deliveries. Contact the florist and explain your holiday project: "Hi, I'm ___(Name)____, a __(Grade Level/Subject Matter)____ teacher at ___(School)____. I have a group of students who may not receive holiday cards or gifts. I'd like to anonymously purchase _____ single roses with only the recipients' names listed on the cards. Please, do not disclose my name regardless of bribes offered. By the way, do you have any special promotions for educators?" The key to the holiday project's success is secrecy, so don't reveal to anyone that you are the donor. 

Your gesture of kindness will always be remembered by students, and the hunt to uncover the mysterious donor's name is fulfilling to watch.

What are your tips for Valentine's Day?  

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Valentine's Day Reward Coupons  FREE
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Valentine's Day Coloring Sheets  $1.00
Valentines Similies   $1.00
Valentine's Day Bookmarks (8)  $1.00
Valentine's Day Hearts Art Grid  $1.50
Valentine's Day Mad Libs  $1.50 
Rapunzel Fairy Tale Lesson  $2.00
Wacky Wayne's Valentine's Day I-Spy  $2.00 
Valentine Fun Booklet  $2.00
Weather Wordles Vocabulary Concepts  $2.50
Bee Mine V-Day Graphing Ordered Pairs  $2.75
Tic-Tac-Toe Holiday Journal Prompts  $2.75
Valentine's Day Activities: Critical Thinking  $3.00
Spring Themed Stationary  $4.50
Valentine's Day Coordinate Graphing  $4.75
Plant Unit  $5.00
Printable Valentine's Gifts  $5.00
Sight Word Mini-Books  $8.00


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Featured Teacher: Martha (Primary Paradise)

         1. What is your most memorable field trip experience?
I really enjoyed going to see the Statue of Liberty in 5th grade. I've always been a big history person, and it was amazing to think about that giant green woman welcoming you to a new world full of opportunity.

         2. What is something you have learned from your time on Teachers Pay Teachers?
I have learned that there are SO many creative teachers out there! I am in awe of some of the fabulous resources, both paid and free, on the site.

         3. What book inspired you as a student?
I absolutely loved reading as a kid, but my favorite for many years was Harriet the Spy. It was the first chapter book I ever read, and I thought the idea of spying on people was very cool. I definitely could be found hiding in closets and under couches "taking notes" about my sisters and parents.

         4. What is something you would like to see in the future, for education?
I would really like teachers to have more say in educational policies. I recently saw a post on Pinterest that poked fun at the fact that politicians who don't have any classroom experience are in control. That needs to change.

         5. What is something fun about you that teachers don't know about you?
I did theater from age 3 until I began college, and it is my passion (besides teaching of course). I would definitely love to get back into, but I don't have the time right now.

         6. What is an achievement, in education or otherwise, that you have accomplished?
I graduated with my undergraduate degree and masters degree in 4 years total. I'm very proud of that.

         7. What was your first 'Free' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you choose that?
I actually had to go back and look. The first Free item that I posted that I'm not embarrassed about is my Counting Coins- Hair Method freebie. I posted some before that, but that was before I had a clue what I was doing.

         8. What was your first 'Paid' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers? What made you choose that?        
My 5 Senses Posters. When I joined TpT, I had over 100 files on my computer of materials I had created for my own classroom, the good the bad, and the ugly. I just started uploading it all bit by bit over a week. I later went back and tweaked and refined almost everything.
         9.  Your favorite teaching quote is...   
It's okay to not know, but it's not okay to not try.

       10. What is your 'Go To' time filler?          
Singing! I love to sing and, since I teach First Grade, we have a song for everything. If I have a little extra time, we'll practice concepts by singing and dancing to our favorite songs.

Primary Paradise (Martha)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Spotlight on Equality

"I have a dream...One day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed...that all men are created equal" (Martin Luther King, Jr,I Have a Dream speech, public domain).

Ask students what "equality" means, and their definitions are as different as their personalities. To better understand how students arrive at meanings of words, pass out large sheets of butcher paper to pairs or small groups of students. Ask students to map "equality". Have groups choose either connotation (associated) or denotation (dictionary) meanings:
(Photo credits: 
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection, reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-122982)
For further studies of equality and Martin Luther King, Jr., try some fun educational videos, such as:

Help students remember the lessons of equality and Dr. King through song:

Other lesson plans include journal/writing prompts, such as those found in Martin Luther King, Jr.: 20 Critical Thinking Journal/Writing Prompts
By using engaging activities, such as debates, podcasts, readings, poetry, projects, songs, videos, and writings, students discuss, interact, and learn about equality and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Share your lessons on civil rights, equality, and MLK with other by posting in the Comments section.

Teachers Pay Teachers Related Products:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Word Puzzles  FREE! 
Bowling Ball Basics  FREE!
ESL Daily Lesson Chart  $1.00
Cause and Effect Practice: MLK  $1.50
MLK Junior Coordinate Graphing/Ordered Pairs $2.75
Non-Fiction Text Features "About Me" Booklet $2.95
ELL/ESL/ELD 5 Days of Grammar Lessons  $3.50
Spring Themed Stationary $4.50
Figurative Language: 30 Worksheets & Answer Keys  $6.00
Making Words Through the Seasons  $7.95
People Make a Difference (Ruby Bridges)  $8.00

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Featured Teacher: Adriel

         1. What is your most memorable field trip experience?
Field Trips? I wish.

         2. What is something you have learned from your time on Teachers Pay Teachers?
I've learned that there is literally something for everyone. What works for one person may not work for another and everyone takes their own path.

         3. What book inspired you as a student?
The Giving Tree. It's short and sweet and a story that reminds me to be as giving as I can be at all times.

         4. What is something you would like to see in the future, for education?
I would like for students to not be limited by funding, or lack of. It breaks my heart to see students go without because a school is struggling financially. I strongly believe athletics, and all other extracurricular activities, are vital to students developing into well rounded adults. When we take everything away from them except the basic requirements for education, we are robbing them of great opportunities.

         5. What is something fun about you that teachers don't know about you?
I love decorating and art! I'm a K-5 Title I Teacher and a 4th Grade math teacher, but I have a sort of secret love for art. Everything in my classroom has to be in some way linked together, by color, by design or by theme. I carefully balance the colors in my room (it's rainbow theme) so there is never more of one color than another. My favorite part of putting together my TpT products is adding the design and themes, the final touches. I'm constantly thinking of ways to create learning materials for my classroom walls that are fun on the eyes for people passing by or the students in my room and also equally educational.

         6. What is an achievement, in education or otherwise, that you have accomplished?
My greatest achievement is striking a balance between work and family. In the last two years I have completed my Masters degree while also delivering two extremely premature babies only 11 months apart (one was 2lbs, the other was 3 lbs). My husband, who is also an elementary teacher, and I have spent a lot of time in hospitals over the last two years. In the mean time, we have continued our paths, completed our Master's degrees and stayed the course with our teaching careers. It's been a roller coaster, but we made it happen and life is great on the other side!

         7. What was your first 'Free' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you choose that?
My first "Free" item was "Word Decoding Strategy" Posters. I chose to post these first because I found them to be one of the most basic yet most helpful classroom tools I have for my Title I students. The ability to decode an unknown word while reading is a vital skill to possess, even as an adult reader.

         8. What was your first 'Paid' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers? What made you choose that?        
My first paid item were the "I Have, Who Has" sight word games. I chose these because I had made them for my Title I students last year and I saw them really make a difference with their sight word recognition. I also wasn't sure exactly how TpT worked, or how well I would do, so I chose something that was a safer bet.

         9.  Your favorite teaching quote is...   
"A teacher's purpose is not to create students in his own image, but to develop students who can create their own image."

       10. What is your 'Go To' time filler?          
My math students LOVE "Math It Up!". It's a TpT freebie and by far my favorite thing I have dowloaded. There are so many possibilities, it never gets old. And best of all, its great math practice!

Adriel Nutter

100 Math Review Worksheets - 4th Grade Math Reviews
Word Decoding Strategy Posters

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Featured Teacher: Miss Martin

         1. What is your most memorable field trip experience?
I remember when my Junior High took the entire 7th grade class to see The Treasures of the Tzars.  It was a really great experience, but I mostly remember going to the zoo afterward and the whole class being kicked out because some boys were feeding skittles to the animals. We ended up only leaving about 15 minutes early, and instead of my class being punished, they simply cancelled the 7th grade trip in later years.  My class was allowed to go on field trips year after year.  As much as I enjoyed the field trips, I remember thinking that the teachers and administrators had probably not made the best decision in that regard, and wondering how they came to that decision. I was always thinking like a teacher I guess!

         2. What is something you have learned from your time on Teachers Pay Teachers?
I have learned that teachers are even more selfless and supportive than I ever knew! The forums on TPT are just a wealth of helpful information, and I am always amazed how quickly teachers will come to your rescue when you have a question, and how happy they truly are to help!

         3. What book inspired you as a student?
When I was in about 4th grade, my teacher recommended that I read the book The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster. I opened it, without expecting much from it at all. At that time in my life, it was exactly what I needed.
 I was blown away by the clever word play and subtle references. I always felt that most books that were geared toward kids my age were somewhat boring and talked down to us. This was one of the first books that I had read that I felt really assumed we were smart!  It really renewed my love of reading, and I still smile every time I think of it.

         4. What is something you would like to see in the future, for education?
I would like to see all college education programs educate every future teacher about special education in a meaningful, effective manner. In every school that I have worked, there has been a slight (and sometimes not so slight) divide between general education teachers and special education teachers. I am not a special education teacher, but I have had years of experience working with special education students, and I know that they too feel that divide. I would love to see one cohesive education program that includes all students equally.
         5. What is something fun about you that teachers don't know about you?
I am an enthusiastic art collector! I especially love supporting and collecting art from local artists. My boyfriend is an artist (ceramics and sculpture) so I have a varied collection of 2D and 3D art. If the artwork involves paper in some way, I almost always gravitate toward it!

         6. What is an achievement, in education or otherwise, that you have accomplished?
I bought my first house at the age of 19 and my second at 26. I paid rent at my first apartment for about 18 months and knew that I was the type of person that needed to know that my money was going toward equity and that someday I would get that money back, with a profit. I am very proud of the decisions that I have made and the feeling of responsibility and control over my life that this has earned me.

         7. What was your first 'Free' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you choose that?
My first item was an activity that I call Boggle Your Mind! It is a Boggle game board that is simple to use, but that allows invaluable practice for students in improving their word knowledge and encoding skills.
I chose this activity because I am passionate about the importance of regular word study in the classroom, and this is an activity that I have used time and time again, and have found incredible success with.  I also love how easily this activity lends itself to differentiation amongst students, and I made sure to include tips for differentiating and 30 sample boards for teachers to use. No more worrying if the grid you made has enough words in it, or even worse, that students will find an inappropriate word in it! Once a simple Boggle grid is made, this activity can be done all year without any additional planning or time-consuming prep!

         8. What was your first 'Paid' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers? What made you choose that?        
The first paid item that I posted, if I remember correctly, was my set of Math Vocab Word Wall Cards.  It is a resource of 76 math vocab terms of varying difficulty, accompanied by visual definitions for the words.  Once the concept is taught, students can use these cards, either in a word wall or other location, as a resource to remembering what that term means.  They can also be used as a visual reference when initially teaching a concept.
I chose this item because it is one that I have shared with fellow teachers at schools I have worked at, and they have always been a hit.  In fact, it was while passing out these cards, that I first heard about TPT! A teacher told me that they looked so professional that I should sell them on TPT!  I went to the site to check it out, loved what I saw, and immediately began posting!

         9.  Your favorite teaching quote is...   
“Fair doesn't mean everyone gets the same thing. Fair means everyone gets what they need."
This quote has essentially dictated the way I teach, and the direction of my educational career, for years.  It is something that I wish every teacher and parent understood.

       10. What is your 'Go To' time filler?          
I wish I had an exciting hobby like mountain climbing or white water rafting, but the truth is, my "go to" time filler has aways been, and probably always will be, creating teaching resources and researching new lesson ideas.  Nothing makes me happier than finding a genius new idea, suggested by another teacher! This is probably the main reason that I am so excited to have found TPT! It literally brings everything that I love together!


Miss Martin

Math Vocab Word Wall Cards
Math Reference Sheet - Intermediate

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Successful Trip to the School Computer Lab

Teachers Pay Teachers Storefront: Classroom Caboodle

As the administrator of my building’s computer lab, I have learned a lot about  school technology management. Taking care of hardware is a very important skill for our children to learn--as important as managing programs once they have logged on.

Here are some best practice tips for a productive trip to the school computer lab:

Elementary computer lab laptops on table
Your second classroom

Ready, Set, Go!

Before leaving the home classroom, have students stand in "lunch-line order". Reinforce the rule that they get whichever computer they end up with. No scrambling for the "best" computer upon arrival in the lab is allowed. After all, cords do not fare well during "scrambling"!

Also, instruct students to bring other classwork, such as a book to read or unfinished assignments to complete, especially during testing days. Once students finish their computer work, they need to remain sitting quietly until class is over. Before long, students understand that using their time wisely in the computer lab is important.

Computer lab cord control
Cord management is priority one!
Upon entering the computer lab, be sure to look over the stations before children sit down. This keeps students from being blamed for damages inflicted by prior classes. All necessary equipment, such as mouse and keyboard, should be present and plugged in. All problems with equipment should be taken care of before students take their seats.

Next, model how students should sit while they are at their computer stations. Demonstrate how to pull out chairs then open computers and select appropriate buttons to push. Also, show students how to properly hold their headphones with two hands then to adjust them to fit their heads. Finally, it's time to begin the task of the day, whether it is research or testing. Before students complete their assignments, model the steps for wrapping up their time in the lab. These instructions are just as important as the guidelines for getting started. Remember to give instructions slowly and to model one step at a time.

Tidying Up

Always build in some class time for clean up. The school computer lab is a classroom where others teach after you, and they expect technology to be ready to use. Instruct students to save their work and shut down computers five minutes before time to exit the lab.
Computer lab non-skid pad
Non-skid pads help keep everything in place

Repeat the steps in reversed order: start with headphones, which are removed with two hands. then save all work and close programs or web browsers. Finally,remind students of the proper shutdown procedures and process.

If laptops are being used, remind students to clear all cords from keyboards before they gently close the lids. I like to finish by having kids say, "Thank you!" to their partner, the computer, then pat the lids when done! Remind students to  stay seated until all computer lids are closed and the signal to move is given.

Final Steps

The last critical step in the computer lab is to properly push away from tables. Modeling this step for students reduces the risk of upsetting carefully-controlled tangles of cords that link computers to the Internet. Also, accidents, such as keyboards or laptops falling to the floor, are avoided. First, have students scoot forward in their chairs until their feet touch the floor. Then, they place their hands on the sides of their chairs rather than the edges of the tables and arise from their seats. Computer lab rules can be reinforced with a Computer Rules Poster

Success Is In the Details

When working around technology, details matter. To save time, use the pre-made Computer Lab Success Checklist. Ultimately, time in the computer lab becomes more productive when safety steps are demonstrated by teachers and followed by students. Follow the link to read more about computer lab safety rules.

Visit Betsy Weigle's resources at the Classroom Teacher Resources website and the Classroom Caboodle blog. 

Related Teachers Pay Teachers Products:

Bowling Ball Basics FREE!
School Computer Lab Door Sign $1.00
Essential Questions Bulletin Board Posters $1.50
Ramona Quimby Vocabulary Quiz $2.25
Comparing Numbers Using = $2.40
Winter ELA Task Cards: 32 Multiple Choice Sentence Cards $2.75
Keyboard shortcuts bulletin board kit $3.00
If I Was President: 16 Fact-Based Presidential Writing Activities $3.00
The Sentence Bowl Subject/Predicate File Folder Game $3.00
Analyzing Characters Independent Reading Project Grades 4-6  $4.95

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Featured Teacher: Jenna

What book inspired you as a student?
I loved the "Little House On The Prairie" books! Those books really helped me to become interested in reading, which led to reading becoming one of my favorite hobbies. I usually read a book a week during the school year and can read a couple of books a week during the summer.

What is something you would like to see in the future, for education?
I would like for students to have the opportunity to read for fun, or at least have more control over what they read. I know so many students these days do not want to read because they are told what they have to read and they do not get the opportunity to read genres and types of text that are interesting to them. Then they start feeling like reading is a chore that has to be done for school because they have a book they have to read for AR or for a project or one that is assigned by their teacher and they do not have the chance to read a book of their choosing. I wish that students would have more opportunities to pick books that are interesting to them so that they will want to read and find that reading can be fun and not just something you have to do for school.  

What is something fun about you that teachers don't know about you?
I love to travel. There is not anywhere that I'm not willing to go visit at least once. Here is a list of a few of the places that I've been: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Italy, Greece, France, Spain and England.

What was your first 'Free' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you choose that?
Frog Theme Math Game Sorting Even and Odd Numbers 1-20
I chose this game because when I joined TPT, this was a game that I had just made to use in my classroom and my students really enjoyed it. This game led to the creation of a couple of other frog themed games.

What was your first 'Paid' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers? What made you choose that?        
I believe my first paid item is my  Word Families File Folder Games
I chose this one because I had made a set of word family games to go along with our frog theme that we had in the spring. I split the games up into different groups (there is also a part 2 and part 3) and decided to put them on TPT along with my frog math game freebie.

Your favorite teaching quote is...   
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose."  by Dr. Seuss
I have this quote in a frame on my teacher's desk.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” by Dr. Seuss
This quote is on the wall in my reading center.

What is your 'Go To' time filler?          
When I need to fill time, I have a container that has flash cards to different games. I recently discovered the "I have _____, who has _____" games and I love them! I also have fun/silly games in there such as rhyming games, finish the sentence, and a 20 questions game.


Jenna (Diving Into Learning)

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