Monday, May 27, 2013

Helping Educators in Need

Teachers across the state of Oklahoma have lost years of accumulated teaching materials. How, as educators, can we lend helping hands to our fellow teachers?  As soon as the news of Moore, Oklahoma, hit television stations, TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers) participants came together to donate teaching units to make four teaching bundles. These include lower and upper elementary. The bundles are for sale at TPT for $25, and all proceeds go directly to help teachers in Moore, Oklahoma.  There is more information and a listing of the products at Teachers Care for Oklahoma

It's been a challenging school year for many educators with Sandy Hook, Hurricane Sandy, plains states tornadoes, and much more. Being able to support and help others in times of need are what teachers do best; after all, we use these skills every day in our classrooms. A huge "Thank you!" to those who have helped, tried to help, and continue to help teachers in need.

FREE Related Teacher Pay Teacher Products by Tchr2Tchr Admininstra:

I'm Thankful
Fry Words, High Frequency WordsHalloween Banner
5 Senses Graphic Organizer
Wacky Wayne's Circus I-Spy (Basic Letters and Shapes) 
American Landmark Foldable
Story Map Worksheet
Happy Fall Y'all
Pi Day Word Search
Year-Long, Semi-Quarterly Book Share Project 
Toying Around with Inclined Planes 
Commonly Misspelled Words: 10 Word Search Puzzles 
Grab Bag of Classroom Resources
Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases: Active Learning
Recognizing Topic Sentences  
Blank Weather Chart   
Weather & Climate Smart Notebook Consensogram 
Rocks Lab Worksheet 
Character Trait Words
Book vs. Movie Worksheet  
Would You Rather Questions 
Steps to a Great Paper
Missed Homework Form


Monday, April 22, 2013

Reflections on the Profession of Teaching

Spring--time to reflect upon the school year. As the end of school draws near, it's time to think about some of the issues affecting today's teachers.

"Why They Leave" , an article by Cynthia Kopkowski for the National Education Association, states:

     "Nationally, the average turnover for all teachers is 17 percent, and in urban school districts specifically, the number jumps to 20 percent, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The National Commission on Teaching and America's Future proffers starker numbers, estimating that one-third of all new teachers leave after three years, and 46 percent are gone within five years"  (1).

Perhaps you graduated from a traditional teacher education program at a four-year university. In 1999 at the University of Oklahoma, the teacher education program required five or more years compared to four-years graduation time for other disciplines, such as accounting, communications, or engineering. Yet, graduates entering into other fields made double, or triple, the salaries of first-year teachers. In Texas, a first-year teaching salary was approximately $32,000.00 compared to a first-year engineering position that started at above $80,000.00. Although teachers do not join their professions for monetary reasons, it would be nice to have proper currency amounts attached to the field. 

A 2012 comparison chart from the United States Department of Labor reads:

As educators, few teachers, other than top administrative positions, earn salaries equal to those recommended by the United States Department of Labor. In fact, there are instances reported in the plains' states of districts' whose teacher employment applications included food stamp applications due to low pay. Those not in the teaching field might ask: what about evaluation and performance pay? It won't be received if subject matters taught are not state tested, so often times those who work hardest with behavioral students, ESL or special education students will never see evaluation or performance-based pay.

The argument that teachers work only "nine-months of the year" has many crying "Foul!" Employees in regular workforce positions often receive same amounts of vacation time although it may be spread out over the course of one year. For example, employees at banks, cellphone/technology companies, and oil related professions may acquire and roll over time accrued that may amount to as much as six-months or more. Plus, there are no bus or cafeteria duties, no extra-curricular afterschool activities, no open houses, and no parent-teacher conferences to attend. There are no individualized lesson plans to write, and no state tests to prepare for. Also, during the off-peak summer months, teachers must attend professional developments to renew certification hours, and they re-write lesson plans for upcoming school years.

Although this article may be "preaching to the teaching choir", hard facts, personal stories, and startling statistics are difficult to ignore. The nation-wide movement to reform education begins with value being placed on the profession of teaching. Until then, the question remains: how can we help fellow teachers survive their first three, or more, years? 

Write your congressman with suggestions on how to change/improve education and how to place more value on teachers. Invite your congressman to visit your classroom and school. Finally, join local and state efforts to address issues affecting education and teachers. 

Do you have suggestions as to how to improve the teaching career field? What were your beginning teaching years like? How can co-workers help first year, and other, teachers survive? How can the profession of teaching become more valued in the work place? Leave us your comments...

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Economy Quilt State Project   $.40
Classifying Triangles Hands-On Sorting Activity  $1.50 
Mother's Day Coloring Sheets for Early Learners  $1.50
No More Bullies! Reader's Theater Script  $1.95
Mother's Day Activities for Elementary Grades  $2.00
Dear Mr. Henshaw 5th Grade Vocabulary Quiz  $2.00
Mariah Keeps Cool Vocabulary Quiz  $2.00
Long Division for Kids Who Can't Multiply   $3.00
Place Value SmartBoard  $3.00
Down on the Farm Cause and Effect  $3.00
Weather and Climate Unit Study Guide  $3.18
Tic Tac Toe Literature Activity Choice Grids  $3.25
Reading Lessons that Work Sequencing Mini-Unit  $3.95
Prefixes, Suffices, and Roots (40 pgs)   $6.50

Monday, April 1, 2013

Is Adaptive Learning the Wave of the Future?

21st century learners are waiting for educational institutions to catch up to their technological needs. That's why adaptive learning is so important--it allows 24/7 access with personalized learning plans and life-like coaches, who answer questions and explain concepts. It allows for flipped models of instruction, encourages teachers to use visual aids, and let's students work at their own paces.

The push to use computerized learning software has increased as Common Core State Standards are implemented across the nation. Even states that opted out of federal guidelines to develop their own state tests realize the inevitable--students will someday test solely on computers. Fight the trend if you must, but it may be a losing battle if funding can be acquired to outfit the nation's schools with low cost tablets and updated networking systems.  

At the forefront of research on adaptive learning is Dr. Ulrik Christensen, founder of Area 9, from Denmark. He continues his work of finding an "improved, highly individualized way of learning" that meets 21st century learners' needs. The result of Dr. Christensen's research was LearnSmart, a learning adaptive platform designed to adjust to students' skill levels and learning traits. For students, this means the more they interact with LearnSmart adaptive learning programs, the better the programs become at understanding their learning styles and meeting their educational needs. For teachers, it aligns to Common Core or state standards with a few key strokes. It breaks down data and takes the guesswork out of assessment. Want to know what concepts students should focus us? Run group or individual data. 

                                  See a lesson in action

There are many software programs with features that individualize learning for students. After students take their diagnostic tests, lessons are customized for them by the program or by the teacher, who sets up lessons aligned with objectives. Reports can be run to determine which skills students need to improve. However, LearnSmart breakdowns include: completion, items missed, metacognitive skills, and more. It recognizes what students need to study, what style of learning is best, and when materials need to be reviewed. An interactive e-book, or Smartbook, asks questions as students read text then directs students to passages for proof. It highlights important materials, which can then be added to digital clipboards, and it helps students focus on what's important within chapters. Best of all, students can access LearnSmart from Android/Ipad/Ipod apps and from PC and MAC; it is open 24/7 and the virtual coach is always there!

                                          Instructor Reports

21st century learners want individualized tutoring and non-traditional classroom settings, so adaptive learning seems to be the wave of the future.

                                              Real Students Talk About LearnSmart

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Child's Life:Colonial America Reading Compr. Passage & Questions  $1.89
I Have Who Has Electricity and Magnets Card Game   $2.00
Earth Day Fortune Teller Patterns  $2.00 
Tell-a-Fact-Based-Story Day (Nat'l Storytelling Month)  $2.50
Adjective/Adverb Task Cards Comparative & Superlative CCSSL  $2.75
Non-Fiction On-Demand Writing Prompts  $3.00
Word Wall Samplers Pack  $3.00
Simplifying Fractions for Students Who Can't Multiply or Divide  $3.00
Personal Expository Essay Independent Writing Project STAAR-Aligned  $5.95
Parts-of-Speech Task Cards 8 Set Bundle CCSS Aligned  $16.75


Monday, March 11, 2013

Rock 'n Roll Learning

Alanis Morissette's song lyrics explained irony on students' levels: 

Students sang along and smiled; they "got it!" They formed small groups then made posters that demonstrated their understandings of irony, along with real life examples. As they worked on projects, they chatted about poems, songs, and writings that contained examples of irony. They joked about real life examples, and they discussed ways to explain and illustrate the concept on their posters. The buzz of the bell came too quickly for students. They put away their supplies then made plans to finish their work tomorrow. It worked--students were engaged, and they enjoyed learning ! 

Think back to when you learned nursery rhymes. Can you recall them with little effort? What was your favorite song as a child? Can you sing the song today? What song defined you in high school? Chances are you know the lyrics today. There's something about music and words that brings learning alive and makes memorizing content easy. An elementary class taught by Betty Jackson in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, in 1995, piloted a Saxon program that used songs to teach concepts to students. One of the students, who is now twenty-four, recalls the songs' lyrics with ease. "I'll never forget them! I still use them today, especially spelling rules..." said Zach. This is only one of the advantages of learning concepts through songs.

Where do you find good lesson plans that include music and song lyrics? One of the best websites is operated by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lesson plans range from pre-k to adult learners. They include lyrics and supplemental resources, such as easy to follow guides, materials lists, videos and web sources. Objectives and outcomes are addressed, along with state guidelines. Implementing songs into any discipline has never been easier! An extra bonus: apply for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Summer Teacher Institute.

Another option is Flocabulary. Remember School House Rock? Transform it into modern day with quality videos and lesson plans. The site addresses most subject matters, and be aware that these tunes are catchy! There's even a contest for students to write their own songs. A free school trial is being offered through June.

Using songs in the classroom has never been easier!

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On Demand Writing Prompts for Grades 3-8  $2.00  
Dear Mr. Henshaw 5th Grade Vocabulary  $2.00
Katie's Trunk Vocabulary Quiz  $2.00
St. Patrick's Day Fortune Teller Patterns  $2.00
Let's All Sing the Blues: Writing Scat  $2.50
Fact and Opinion Card Sort Literacy Center  $2.50
Weather and Climate Unit Study Guide  $3.18
100 Drama Theater Arts Improv Acting Scenarios  $3.49
Main Idea Cut & Past Category Boards  $3.49
22 Literature Worksheets $4.75
64 Literature Response Question Cards  $5.00
Plant Unit  $5.00
5 E's Unit Plan--Electricity--It's Elementary  $6.00
Sight Word Mini-Books  $8.00

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Featured Teacher: Brooke Beverly Conway

         1. What is your most memorable field trip experience?
We went on a field trip to Old Sturbridge Village (a living museum that represents the colonial times).  The staff were cooking a chicken over the fire getting ready to eat their meal.  One of my students tugged on my shirt, and said with all seriousness, "I know this is colonial times.  But, they have shops for all sorts of things like the cooper shop or the blacksmith shop.  Why didn't they have a grocery shop too?  Buying the little [rotissierie] chicken at Price Chopper would have been an instant meal.  Just ask my mom."

         2. What is something you have learned from your time on Teachers Pay Teachers?
What I have learned on TpT is to listen and take in the advice of seasoned sellers.  The collaborative group of educators are always so willing to share their advice and feedback.  It is important to be patient, not compare yourself to others, and do the best you can do for your classroom and your TpT store. 

         3. What book inspired you as a student?
I really loved the Babysitter's Club, and specifically the title "The Truth About Stacey."  I have Type 1 diabetes, and I was able to connect to Stacey.  I think that is why throughout high school, I was a babysitter for several families in town, always worked at summer camp in college, and then became a teacher to work with kids.

         4. What is something you would like to see in the future, for education?
I would love for all schools to have smartboards, laptops, iPads, student response systems, e-readers, etc.  I know school districts are moving in this direction, and it would be fabulous if there was professional development for families, teachers and students to evolve with the technology.

         5. What is something fun about you that teachers don't know about you?
I also work as a trivia host!  I love the randomness of questions, the challenge of coming up with a perfect song that links to a question, and how excited people are when they win!

         6. What is an achievement, in education or otherwise, that you have accomplished?
I am proud that I have had numerous teaching ideas published in the Mailbox Magazine and The Education Center resources.

         7. What was your first 'Free' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you choose that?
I posted a French Fry Book Project.  I picked this product because it was a twist on a book project that I had not seen before.

         8. What was your first 'Paid' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers? What made you choose that?        
I honestly don't remember!

         9.  Your favorite teaching quote is...   
“I'm more interested in arousing enthusiasm in kids than in teaching the facts. The facts may change, but that enthusiasm for exploring the world will remain with them the rest of their lives.”
― Seymour Simon
I, of course, feel that having students learn the standards is essential.  However, I also feel inspiring students to love to learn is one of the most important jobs I have as a teacher.

       10. What is your 'Go To' time filler?          
 The Go To time filler that I depend on is a powerpoint math fact Around the World game.  My kiddos always could use extra practice with their math fact fluency, so if I have a few extra minutes, I will pull up an addition, subtraction or multiplication powerpoint.                                                               

Brooke Beverly Conway

Writing Personal Narratives Powerpoint and Worksheets
Newspaper Task Cards

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Featured Teacher: Mrs. T

         1. What is your most memorable field trip experience?
My most memorable was when I was teaching 4th grade and the docents at the museums didn't give me a teacher packet because they thought I was one of the students! Grr!

         2. What is something you have learned from your time on Teachers Pay Teachers?
I have learned how to do a lot of graphic design on the computer. I have learned Inkscape and Gimp. I have learned how much the sellers on TpT really care about their customers and products. I never imagined how much satisfaction I would get from selling a product!

         3. What book inspired you as a student?
When I was in college, I took a Children's Literature class. My professor had the most amazing insights into picture books that I had never thought of before. The one that really stood out for me was Where the Wild Things Are. She told us how the illustrations take up more of the page as Max goes more into his dream. I wanted to be able to share my love of reading with my students. I

         4. What is something you would like to see in the future, for education?
I wanted to see teachers valued by society. I want us to be respected as having knowledge about children and their learning. I want to see teachers making policy decisions, not bureaucrats.

         5. What is something fun about you that teachers don't know about you?
I love to cook and make a mess in my kitchen! I enjoy finding new recipes and trying them out on my poor husband!

         6. What is an achievement, in education or otherwise, that you have accomplished?
I think getting my master's in education was a big accomplishment! I also have felt greatly accomplished by my work on TpT!

         7. What was your first 'Free' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you choose that?
I posted my bucket filling forms as my first free item, and it is still free! I thought it would encourage bucket filling which I think is a great tool for building self esteem and positive behavior in the classroom.

         8. What was your first 'Paid' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers? What made you choose that?        
My first paid item was a Common Core test I created for my grade level that included all the Common Core standards that my students should have learned in 2nd grade. I wanted to see what they missed since we were implementing Common Core for the first time this year. I chose this item because I worked really hard on it and I thought others might want it too!

         9.  Your favorite teaching quote is...   
Teaching is a work of heart! This quote was on my fridge growing up because my mom is a teacher.

       10. What is your 'Go To' time filler?          
Zap! Students stand in a circle. We count by a certain number pattern, say 2's forward. Then I chose a Zap number, like 6. So they would count 2,4, Zap, 8, 10 etc. If they aren't pay attention or say the Zap number they have to sit down. My students love it!                                                                


Mrs. T

Addition Practice with Singapore Methods up to the Thousands Place
Subtraction to the Hundreds Place with Singapore Methods
Bucket filling Classroom Activity Packet

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Featured Teacher: Britnee

         1. What is your most memorable field trip experience?
My most memorable field trip was my first ever field trip. We went to the zoo. There were (what seemed like) 900 million kids there as soon as we walked in and I was an absolute nervous wreck the entire time! I was so glad to be back at the school, safe and sound with all my kiddos with me. Whew!

         2. What is something you have learned from your time on Teachers Pay Teachers?
Teachers Pay Teachers has taught me the value of being creative and allowing my students opportunities for engaging and meaningful lessons.

         3. What book inspired you as a student?
I just loved A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. That book kind of rocked my world. I remember spending hours imagining Meg and her three strange friends. I was completely eaten up with the idea of tessellating. I could go on and on. That book kept me up at night.

         4. What is something you would like to see in the future, for education?
I would love to see more of a focus on student-led instruction. I believe in allowing students to make their own discoveries and manipulate content to make it fit each of them and their individual needs. As a teacher, I feel my job is not to "teach" but to "guide" students to teaching themselves and their classmates. I would love to see a shift in that direction. Also, smaller class sizes ;)

         5. What is something fun about you that teachers don't know about you?
I really love playing pranks on people. My parents always told me I was "ornery" and I suppose that ornery streak has carried through to my adult years. Even my poor students have been subjected to my pranks. I have plastic wrapped doorways, placed whoopie cushions in many a chair, and even purchased "fake vomit." Suffice it to say that April Fool's Day is a much-anticipated day in my classroom and my home :)

         6. What is an achievement, in education or otherwise, that you have accomplished?
In 2009, I became the first person on my father's side of our family tree ever to graduate from college. I was very honored to hold that title.
I received an educational award this year as well when I was nominated by a former student's parent and selected for a local radio station's Teacher of the Week feature. I was surprised in my classroom by a radio dj and was live on air as the nomination letter and prizes were read to me. I was so touched I was in tears. Unfortunately, I sounded like a total dork on the radio! But, what can you do? :)

         7. What was your first 'Free' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers?  What made you choose that?
I posted a Geometry Terms quiz as my free item. I chose the quiz because I found that while I was able to find many vocabulary quizes and lessons for reading, it was difficult to locate any vocabulary lessons for math. I had designed the quiz for my own class and many of my colleagues had asked to use it as well. I found that it was a popular resource and I was glad to share it with others on the Teachers Pay Teachers website.

         8. What was your first 'Paid' item that you posted up on Teachers Pay Teachers? What made you choose that?        
The first paid item I posted was a Garbage Inferencing activity. I chose it because it is one of my most absolute favorite things that we do all year long in my classroom and I was excited to share it with others. In the activity, students rummage through pre-made "garbage bags" that their teachers "took from her new neighbors trash can." Students then use the items in the trash bag to make inferences about what my new neighbors might be like. They love it! At the end of the year, many of them still reference that lesson as one of their very favorites.

         9.  Your favorite teaching quote is...   
"Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him." - Maya Angelou

       10. What is your 'Go To' time filler?          
When we need to fill time, we do quick "book commercials." Students know that their commercials have to be short and sweet - just like a real commercial. They stand up in front of the room and advertise the book they are reading. Other students write the title down in their reading journals so they can go check it out at the library if they think it sounds like a good read. It is so much fun! Students are usually chomping at the bit to share their books with each other and it really amps up their attitude toward reading in general.                                                                


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