Thursday, December 31, 2015

Removing Stress to Improve Student Achievement

I'm guest blogging at Education to the Core with Emily Liscom. 

This week's blog post provides tips on eliminating students' stress in order to improve academic achievement. 

It includes a freebie of an overview of a program I use with my kiddos to help eliminate stress and maximize their learning in the time that we have together. .

Click here to navigate to the post on Education to the Core's blog.

Have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Building Relationships with Students

"That's not fair!  Everyone else was talking. Why am I the only one getting detention?"
"You just don't like me.  You're racist."
"Why are you getting me in trouble?  {Insert student's name} was doing it first.

Teacher: Please go directly to class.  You've been reminded of the expectations in the past.  Next time you will receive a detention.
Students: {eye rolling, dramatic sighing} Whatever.

Teacher (to a group of students loitering in the hallway): Students, let's move to class.
Students: {completely ignores the adult who is speaking and continues with their own discussion}

Teacher: {insert student's name}, why did you hit ___________?  You are now in trouble.  Go to the dean's office.
Student: I didn't even touch her!
Teacher:  I watched you do it!  Why are you trying to argue?
Student:  I didn't do nothing!!!!
Teacher:  There are cameras in the hallway.  Should I pull up the video footage?
Student:  You can do whatever you want.  I didn't do nothing.

Have you ever heard these types of utterances or seen behaviors like this from students in your building?  Sometimes our kiddos test our patience.  Their attitudes and poor behavior choices are enough to drive us to...     
Image retrieved from

With the right strategies, we can reduce these types of behaviors. 

Check out my guest blog post at Education to the Core for suggestions on how to build relationships with students.  Incorporating one or more of these strategies will dramatically improve the behavior in your classroom and help motivate students to do their best.  This will allow you to spend more time doing what you love...TEACHING!

*Special thank you to my awesome team of teachers who helped me collect the quotes and scenarios from our personal experiences with our lovelies. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

What I'm Thankful for + FREE Context Clues Minilesson

I have so much to be thankful for.  I have a loving family, a house, plenty of clothes and food, and jobs that I love.  Most of all, I am so thankful for my sweet Naomi.  We celebrated the third birthday of our baby girl on the 14th.  It's hard to believe it's been three years since her miraculous birth! I can't help but give God the glory for bringing us through that difficult time. My precious love is spunky and full of life.  She surely brings joy to those around her.

Just thinking...

A sip of juice during quiet time

Enjoying the first snowfall

Now on to the free stuff!  I was sure my students and I would breeze right through what should have been a review of context clues.  I was thrilled to retrieve this outstanding context clue resource from fellow educator and TpT'er Erin Cobb at I'm Lovin' Lit, along with this video and corresponding materials from Flocabulary (subscription required, but well worth it).   As I sat down with my students during our small group sessions, it became painfully obvious that they were struggling with understanding the different types of context clues, therefore, they couldn't explain what clues they used to figure out the meaning of a word.  They also had a difficult time selecting the correct definition from the dictionary when defining a word, even after making an educated guess about the word's meaning.  They truly wanted to understand the concept but needed a little more instruction and practice.  Therefore, I created an Interactive PowerPoint that contains a minilesson and practice for the students. 

Click the image to go to this product. 

Click the image to go to this product
This minilesson explains four types of context clues and shows how the different clues are used.
It also contains printables so that students can record their answers during the lesson.   
Click the image to go to this product

Furthermore, I like to make corresponding posters so that students have a visual reminder of the types of clues.
Click the image to go to this product

After going through the minilesson, I took students to the computer lab so that they could apply the concept.  They went through the minilesson again, this time on their own, and then completed the additional practice items. After two days of intense practice, they had a much better grasp on the types of context clues.   The full, 2-day lesson is available here.  This will be a concept that we continue to work on throughout the year, but this gives them the foundation they need to understand context clues.

Teacher Spotlight

 Amy Sandler 

TpT Store:  Skool Aid Products
Grades/Subjects: 6th Grade English & Ancient History

About: Amy has taught in inner city schools for over 20 years. Amy creates engaging materials to meet the diverse needs of all of her students, many of whom are bilingual and/or working several years below grade level.  She has experienced tremendous success with her students. Most of them go on to graduate from high school, and several are within the top 10% of their graduating class! 

Before becoming a teacher in the schools, Amy taught Sunday school for elementary aged children.  She ended up creating a lot of materials to supplement what was available, so it was natural for Amy to continue creating educational materials when she started teaching middle school. 

Amy works hard to help her students love history and develop a solid foundation in writing. Thanks for all you do, Amy! 

Amy creates colorful PowerPoint Slideshows to help her students grasp difficult concepts.  Check out some of Amy's free products. (Click the image to go to each product in Amy's TpT store.)

YOU can enter to be featured on my blog as well!  If selected, you will win a $5 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers.  Simply fill out this form. That's it! No gimmicks or tricks.  I believe very strongly in highlighting and honoring the achievements of others.  We are all stronger when we learn from others. Winners will be notified via e-mail before the post goes live.  

Here are last month's freebies!  Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Milestone Celebration!-FREE unit on Football and Brain Disease

We at Teachers Pay Teachers know that we could never reach our business goals without YOU!  Whether our goals are financial, include a certain number of followers, or a specific amount of feedback, we are extremely grateful to you for helping our dreams become a reality, and we celebrate our many milestones, whether big or small.

Last week, I reached my initial goal of gaining 100 followers on TpT.  It's a small step towards some overall goals, but that doesn't mean I'm any less grateful for the now 102 people (as of the writing of this post) who have honored me by being a follower.

As a thank you, I am giving away an entire unit over the link between Football and Brain Disease (designed for grades 7-10).

Image Copyright-Jacque Miller Photography (It's my brother!)

This week-long unit will help students better understand the connection between the brain trauma that takes place on the football field and the link to CTE.

Image Copyright Jacque Miller Photography-(It's my brother!)

Your students are sure to remain engrossed in this high-interest lesson because of the serious subject matter to which so many of them can relate.

Image Copyright-Jacque Miller Photography (It's my brother!)

I am not the only teacher-author to have reached a milestone lately.  Elementary school teacher Tara from Tied2Teaching hit a major goal and is giving away her Multiplication Printables (grades 2-4) THIS WEEK ONLY in celebration of her journey on Tpt.

Frances from Nana Fran's Teaching Resources also hit a major goal and is giving away her Reading Center Task Cards for grades 2-4.  These open-ended task cards work for any picture or chapter book. 

Fellow teacher-author Jeanine Schneider from Third Grade Giggles celebrated her 100th follower with these super-cute Student Awards.  Print them out and keep them on hand to recognize the achievements of your students.  They'll LOVE the recognition and will continue to work hard for you. 

Erin Coley from A Library and Garden hit a major milestone and is celebrating by offering 3 weeks worth of sight word resources--absolutely FREE!  This resource is perfect for small groups/intervention time with your K-1 students. 

Ashley from SrtsSpanish opened her store and is celebrating her first sale with a Seek and Sign Family and Adjective activity.  This seems like a fun way to get students engaged and willing to practice speaking Spanish. 

The creator of Look Out Learning met a milestone and is happy to share her R.E.A.D for Thanksgiving Break freebie.  What perfect timing with Thanksgiving right around the corner!  Help students stay on track with their reading while they are away from school with this letter, bookmark, and reading log designed for elementary aged children. 

High School teachers-this one is for you!  The authors from Fun ACT Prep are giving away a mini-bundle of ACT prep materials in honor of reaching a major milestone. 

This freebie gives you an opportunity to practice essential ACT Reading Skills.  The download comes with teaching and assessment resources. 
Thanks again for all of your support.  We wouldn't be where we are without YOU!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Everything You Need to Teach Point of View

Each year, my students struggle with point of view.  They seem to understand the difference between first person and third person, but the concept of limited and omniscient points of view is challenging.  They also have difficulty understanding the impact that the point of view has on the story.  Therefore, I created several resources that help students master this difficult standard.  I pulled some free resources from my Point of View Mega-pack to share with you.

1.    I assess what my students know before I begin the unit with this Point of View Pretest.

2.   Then we move on to direct instruction.  I like to create engaging, narrated PowerPoints, which can easily be converted into videos.  Students sit at the computer with a pair of headphones and watch/listen to the lesson  Students complete a note-taking page as they go through the PowerPoint so that I can ensure they are paying attention.  
Double Bonus: I don't have to repeat myself each class period, AND my students told me that when they listen to my voice over the computer, it is easier for them to pay attention to the instruction  SCORE!

3.   After teaching the unit, I give them this Post-test.  It truly helps me gauge what the students learned.

My entire Point of View Unit is available here.  In addition to the aforementioned items, it also includes the following:  (Each item can be purchased individually.)

Point of view Poster Pack in English and Spanish

Point of View Bellringers and Exit Slips –Includes links to these videos, as teachers act out a scene from different points of view.

Comparing Points of view-Students read the same story from different points of view.  They tell me that this assignment really helps them see the difference between the points of view.  This will lead to them being able to discuss how the point of view of the story affects the plot.  Read the version of the story from the first person point of view in this blog post

Point of view game-Students use the computers to play the point of view game.  This is great practice for helping them recognize the different viewpoints.  Read more about the game in this blog post. 

Point of View Analysis: All Mixed Up-The author of the story got several different points of view mixed up! Students will enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out the story and correcting it.  This is the assignment that I give at the evaluative level.

By the end of this unit, my students have a good grasp of point of view and are better able to analyze the impact of the point of view on a story.

Teacher Spotlight Winner
Retired educator and counselor, Patricia Keefe

This week's teacher spotlight winner is Patricia Keefe. Here are Pat's own words:

I retired June 1, 2015 after 43 years in teaching.  I am currently writing grants for a foundation and enjoying retirement.  I was a guidance counselor for two decades and taught English in grades 6 through 12 during different periods of time.  I was also a High Ability enrichment teacher in K-8, a Title I Coordinator, Drug Free Schools Coordinator, High Ability Coordinator, and Corporation Test Coordinator. I coached Academic Teams, advised yearbooks and newspapers, sponsored a school-wide writing contest, coached problem solving teams, and managed an after-school program.

My passion is writing, and I am a teacher consultant for Indiana University Southwest in the National Writing Project group there.  I used that passion to teach writing in my classroom.  I integrated writing and technology in a flipped classroom environment.  I started Writer's Corner in March and plan to continue adding lessons about writing that I loved teaching and that engaged my students. My goals were to encourage them to write with voice and passion and to become lifelong readers. Someday I may pull all my lessons together in a digital book format, but for now, I am organizing them in TPT to save current writing teachers a great deal of time.

I have written poetry for many decades and someday may compile a poetry book. I also enjoy writing short stories, historical fiction, and am working on a young adult book describing the aftermath of a fictional school shooting. I have written a children's book column for my local hometown weekly newspaper for twenty-five years. I learned much about my students through their writing and they told me things about themselves they would have never disclosed in a class discussion.

I love getting "in the zone" when I am writing and creating characters. Sometimes it is hard to bring the story to an end because I have become so attached to the characters that I don't want to end my relationship with them yet. Writing is hard work and involves a lot of revision, sometimes cutting out parts of something that I have written which I love, because it is not working with the entire piece. I am blessed to be part of an online writing group that shares writing once a month with each other and to have a dear friend who is a great peer editor. We help each other and we work very well together. We each help make each other's writing more awesome.

YOU can enter to be featured on my blog as well!  If selected, you will win a $5 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers.  Simply fill out this form. That's it! No gimmicks or tricks.  I believe very strongly in highlighting and honoring the achievements of others.  Winners will be notified via e-mail before the post goes live.  

And in case you missed it, here are last month's freebies from several teacher-authors.  Have a great weekend!