April 20, 2016

Let's Celebrate...

... Spring!
... Testing is finally completed!
... There are less than 35 school days left before summer break!
... with a SPECIAL sale!



Here's how this special sale works...

1. Purchase ANY three items (a bundle is considered ONE item) from my TpT Store beginning now through April 25, 2016 (there is a 10% off sale from 4/23-4/25);
2. find a fourth item that is valued $2.75 or less that you would like to have;
3. email me (teachersdesk@yahoo.com) your TpT username and your fourth choice item by April 26, 2016.
4. I will check my sale receipts for your username, then
5. I will email you your fourth item FREE!

What a steal!
And fun!
And a great way to stock up on engaging activities for the final days of school!
And get ready for the first days of school next year!
And... oh yeah, I almost forgot... This deal carries over for EVERY three items that you purchase... SOOOOOOO... purchase six items, get two free... purchase nine, get three free!

Happy Savings!







April 19, 2016

Show and Tell Tuesday for April

I'm so happy that Stephanie from Forever in Fifth Grade hosts this monthly linky. It takes me back to my school days and wonderful Show and Tell times with my teachers and classmates... ah, warm fuzzies!
What a difference one week makes! Last week it was shiver, shiver while this week it is OH YEAH! Spring is finally in the air.

Two and a half years ago this little girl came to live with me and her fuzz sister. During that time she has wanted to sit up in this window but couldn't figure out how to get there. It is a bit high up and the angle to jump on the sill from surrounding objects is just not feline friendly. I finally hoisted her up on the sill earlier this week. Miss Lulabelle was in puddy heaven!

If you have followed me for a while then you know that I am a "The Walking Dead" junkie (as are a few of my sixth graders). Our last STEM activity was to design a compound machine that did work. The projects were wonderful and great learning took place. Miniature cars were made to move, marbles were hoisted in small buckets, and balloons were mechanically popped. One project stood out, the one in the picture above. Meet Mini-Lucille, folks! If you know TWD, then you know!

Finally, I'd like to share with you one of my all-time favorite projects: trioramas. I've been doing this fun creation for nearly thirty years and have blogged about it previously. I was so happy with how these miniature representations of favorite scenes from Literature Circle novels turned out!

The following pin contains a blog post that includes wonderful step-by-step instructions for making this fun and engaging craftivity!



You've seen my choices for Show and Tell; now I'd like to hear about yours. What would you share during Show and Tell? Leave a message in the comments below, then hop on over to Forever in Fifth Grade for even more Show and Tell!




April 12, 2016

Tuesday Writing PaWs: Living in the Past

There is such a wide variety of topics in the PaW (Paragraph a Week) line-up, from stories to letters, narratives to arguments. Some of my favorite topics are those that require young authors to do some research before they can do the actual writing. This week's Tuesday Writing PaWs is one of these. Assign a decade to your class (or allow each student to choose), adjust the controls of your time machine, and set your young authors free.

You can download your free topic sheet HERE.





April 5, 2016

Tuesday Writing PaWs 4.5.16

I looked back at my posts and discovered that it's been nearly a month since I last shared a Tuesday Writing PaWs. What with Easter break and special linkies that fell on Tuesday I took a brief pause from the PaWs.

When I think of April, I always think of Easter and when I think of Easter, I always think of new clothes. As a child I always received a brand new outfit to wear to church on Easter, including hat, gloves, socks, and shoes. There are countless photos from my childhood of me dressed in my Easter finery. So in honor of Easter and new clothing, here's this week's Writing PaWs. You can download your free topic sheet HERE.



Don't forget: All of the Tuesday Writing PaWs topic sheets are always available for your use. Just click the Paragraph a Week tab at the top of the blog. There you will find more than thirty topics free for you to use in your classroom.


April 3, 2016

The First Scoop of April

Can you believe that it is already April? Here's my first Sunday Scoop of the new month...


In honor of the finale of my favorite TV show, you can grab this cute zombie themed set of grouping cards for FREE for a limited time.

Grab your set of cards HERE.


Be sure to stop by the Teaching Trio to catch up on more Sunday Scoops posted by teacher bloggers.


It's a great way to spend the day!




April Pinterest Pick 3 Linky

Woot! Woot! It's time for my favorite linky!



Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22nd. I am always looking for fun and engaging ways to include this holiday in my lessons. I hit the mother lode with this pin!



April is National Poetry Month! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE using poetry with my students, not only in my ELA classes but also in my Science and Religion classes. This idea for a PoeTREE sounds like so much fun!



I just can't let a month go by without a pin for a STEM activity. STEM activities are this year's crop of sixers' FAVORITE classroom activity! And I have to admit, mine as well.







April 2, 2016

Ten Minute Inservice Part 5: What Makes a Great Teacher?

by Todd Whitaker and Annette Breaux
Are you familiar with educator/administrator/author/presenter Todd Whitaker? He is one of THE BEST professional development presenters/authors that I've had the good fortune to experience. If not, here's your chance! I've joined five wonderful bloggers in a month long book study series of inservices designed to improve teaching effectiveness in just 40 ten minute sessions.

Here's what Amazon.com has to say about the book...
Quick, easy, specific steps that make a difference in teaching and learning. Busy school leaders need an easy-to-apply resource to increase teacher effectiveness quickly and efficiently. This book shows principals and staff developers how to improve teaching school-wide through high-impact inservices lasting only ten minutes incorporated easily into weekly staff meetings. Written by popular education consultants Todd Whitaker and Annette Breaux, this important book offers 40 teacher-tested, mini-workshops that can improve teaching in every classroom. The book covers a range of topics, from behavior challenges and parent engagement to motivating students and making lessons meaningful.  
*Offers school leaders a proven plan to help every teacher improve on a weekly basis by conducting simple 10-minute inservice workshops  
*Offers staff developers, new teacher induction coordinators, mentors, and Professional Learning Communities ideas for effective training sessions  
*Each of the 40 mini-training sessions offered include tips on how to introduce the topic, sample scripts to follow, and implementation activities to ensure lasting learning  

There are five parts to our book study. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading the blog posts about the first four parts from this fantastic resource, you can catch up with the previous posts:

Part 1A: Classroom Management... Kovescence of the Mind
Part 1B: Classroom Management part B... Tried and True Teaching Tools
Part 2: Teaching Practices... Mrs. Third Grade
Part 3: Improving School Climate... Lessons with Coffee
Part 4: Learning from Others... Teaching High School Math

Part 5: What Makes a GREAT Teacher?

Within this section of the book can be found ten inservices:

Inservice 31: Making Student-Based Decisions
Since we are in the business of education for our students, every decision we make should be based on what is best for our students. However, for whatever reason(s), we teachers often lose focus of this fact. The activity in this section asks teachers to refocus their attention on students by providing several scenarios and posing the question "What is best for your students?" Teachers are asked to supply their own scenarios as well. To implement this strategy, administrators are encouraged to simply remind teachers that although it is easier to make decisions based on personal choices, it is imperative that teachers make their choices based on student needs.

Inservice 32: Because I Like You
Don't you tend to do things for people who appreciate you? Or like you? Or you like? Our students are no different. This inservice reminds teachers that in order to get the most out of their students, a teacher needs to be seen as likable by their students. Tips for improving teacher-student relationships are provided.
  • Smile often.
  • Get to know your students.
  • Express belief in your students.
  • Be encouraging.
  • Be understanding.
  • Be the most pleasant person you know.
  • et al. 

Inservice 33: Professionalism Is as Professionalism Does
This inservice begins with a testimony from a disgruntled teacher and a reminder that true professionals act professionally all of the time.  During the inservice teachers are divided into two teams to play a game; the winning team will earn a treat. What the teachers don't know is that the game will result in a tie. The game consists of answering questions that require teachers to  select the best way to handle a classroom/school environment situation. Even though all teachers do not always behave professionally, they do know the correct way to behave. The administrator conducting the inservice has the opportunity to praise the teacher participants for their knowledge of professional behavior and providing encouragement for always behaving professionally.

Inservice 34: Shifting Your Focus
Are you a half-full or half-empty type person? This inservice asks teachers to try to be positive at all times since what we focus on becomes our reality. If we are focusing on the negative things in our environment we begin to see our students in a negative light. To help counter this frame of mind, teachers are asked to compile a list of "Twenty-five Reasons I am Proud of My Students" and post the list outside their doorway for all to see.

Inservice 35: The Miracle of Smiling
Hearkening back to the previous inservice, this section  poses the question, "How is it possible to a motivator and influence others positively if you are not motivated and positive?" During the actual inservice, teachers are asked to discuss and answer the question. Teachers are reminded that students need and deserve to have happy adults in their lives. Smiling is promoted as a solution... students respond more favorably to positive teachers than to negative teachers; smiling sends the message that you care, and smiles are free but their results are priceless.

Inservice 36: Are You All Right?
This inservice shares a simple technique for dealing with inappropriate student behavior. Take the student to the side, ask the question,"Are you all right?" When the students responds, "Yes," simply say, "The reason I am asking is that the way you were behaving was inappropriate and not at all like you (you might be stretching the truth a bit). I knew that for you to be acting that way, something had to be bothering you. I'm here if you'ld like to talk about it." Simple, easy to implement, effective!

Inservice 37: Your Favorite Teacher
During this ten minute inservice, teachers are asked to recall their favorite teacher and his/her characteristics and encouraged to make a list of these to keep in their plan books or on their desks in frequent view. They are then challenged with these questions: Are these the same characteristics that your students would list about you? Would your students list you as their favorite teacher? If not, why not?

Inservice 38: Your Least Favorite Teacher
This is simply the converse of the previous inservice. Participants are asked to think of their least favorite teacher and compile a list of characteristics they possessed. They are then challenged with the same kind of questions and encouraged to copy ten of these characteristics to avoid.

Inservice 39: The Psychology of Apology
This section offers practical advice for repairing student/teacher, parent/teacher, or teacher/teacher relationships. Teachers are asked to share situations wherein they were not as patient with a student as they could've been. They are asked to brainstorm alternative ways of handling the situation. Regardless of how any situation unfolds, teachers are encouraged to end any confrontation with a student, parent, or other teacher with "I am sorry that happened." No blame is placed or accepted and feelings can be repaired.

Inservice 40: A Teacher's Creed
This last inservice is designed to make teachers more aware of the IDEAL teacher by simply brainstorming as many responses as possible... 
The ideal teacher would _________________________.
The ideal teacher would not ______________________. 
Teachers  are asked to combine these lists and turn them into a Teacher's Creed that is to be displayed in every classroom in the building to serve as a motivator for teacher behavior.

While I have provided a brief synopsis of the content of each of the ten inservices in section five of the book, I have only touched on the depth of the material. Grab a copy of this professional book and use it... by yourself... or better yet, share it with your Professional Learning Community. Even the best teachers and faculties will find practical advice for becoming an even better educator!

Thanks to Sarah from Kovescence of the Mind for organizing this professional book discussion series!




April 1, 2016

Earth Day Freebie and Giveaway

No foolin'! Earth Day is fast approaching, April 22nd, just three weeks from today! Are you prepared to celebrate with your students? For a quick, no fuss, print-and-go way to include a little Earth Day in your grs. 3-7 ELA classes, here's a fun and engaging ZAP game.


Students are reminded of the importance of this celebration while they determine the part of speech for Earth Day related vocabulary words. You can grab your Earth Day freebie HERE.

Would you like to spread your Earth Day celebration over more than one day? Here are two ELA Scoot activities to get your students thinking about this seasonal holiday.


On each of the 32 task cards in this first activity are four Earth Day related words. Students must determine which word would come first in alphabetical order. Perfect for a game of Scoot, these cards are also useful in a literacy center, as exit tickets, or as part of an Interactive Notebook. You can read more about them and download them HERE.


This set of 24 Scoot cards is especially designed for older elementary students. Beside providing engaging practice with revising skills, the sentences on the cards are full of background information about Earth Day. You can read more about them and download them HERE.

How do you celebrate Earth Day in your classroom?

Leave your response below in the comments section, and I will select one or two at random on April 15th to receive both sets of my Earth Day Scoot cards... in time to use on Earth Day. Be sure to include your email address in your response that I may email you your cards.