November 26, 2018

Cyber Monday Sale

It's Cyber Monday and that means you'll find all kinds of sales at your favorite shops and retailers. Luckily, Teachers Pay Teachers has you covered as thousands of teacher-authors are participating - including me! Over at my shop you'll find EVERYTHING on sale with 20% off your entire purchase. Just use the promo code: CYBER18 at checkout!

Here's a peek at a few of my favorite and most popular resources you can snag for 20% off!

Eureka Math!

Eureka Math is one of the newest and on-trend math curriculums that has has seemingly taken over schools around the country. The concepts that are taught really help students learn new strategies to solve math problems and introduces a few new ways students can think about certain math concepts. However, when my school first introduced this new curriculum I quickly realized the workbooks had a LOT of busy work for kids and it was in a format that wasn't really helpful. So, I decided to add my own spin to the work and create these interactive notebook style resources!

I've been busy trying to upload all of the modules for both first and second grade. It's a lot of work, but I'm excited every time I get one finished to share. So far you can pick up Modules 1-2 for 1st grade and Modules 1-3 for second grade!

Guided Reading


Fraction Bundle

Even and Odd Turkey Trot Dice Game

Behavior Management

Think Sheets

Management Bundle

Bundle all of these behavior management resources into one download! Enjoy products like my think sheets, clip slips, awesome behavior notes, and full lesson plans for establishing the classroom culture!

There's so much more! Go ahead and make your way over to see what all you can get for 20% off!

November 15, 2018

Preparing for Parent/Teacher Conferences

Today I am going to be discussing Parent/Teacher Conferences! These conferences are wonderful opportunities to meet with parents for the first time and discuss how the first couple months have been going for their child. Typically, after routines and procedures have been established, teachers hit the ground running with instruction and conferences are great times to share with parents the work students are doing and the progress they're showing! 

This means that teachers need to communicate a lot of information to parents and in a short amount of time. Here I have a resource that has been very helpful to me in the past and it keeps me focused the whole time! It's so easy to get sidetracked so here are a few things I've done that you may find helpful!

Break down the information by quarter or trimester!

Obviously you want to focus on the immediate goals for each child so it's important to dedicate some time to look up student scores and make them easy to compare to quarterly or trimester benchmarks.

This resource includes conference forms for all 4 quarters and now trimesters! It includes areas to document important information about reading, writing, and math so you can focus your conversation with your parents. It also provides the teacher to discuss where the student is at in terms of their work habits and attitude. Having the benchmarks available helps show if students are below, meets, or exceeds the given benchmark for that academic period.

Include student work samples

Student work samples are great tools to use during conferences to show where students should be performing or the goals they should be working towards. I keep previous students' work to help compare. I've gotten a lot of compliments from parents on how helpful it is for them to see what I'm referring to in regards to what I expect each quarter {especially writing!}.

Planning and organization!

I always put out the conference time sign up sheet at my Back to School Night and Open House that way I can get the majority of parents locked in to a time early and it's one less thing to do. However, everyone is different! Plan your conferences to be about 15-20mins each, especially if you're meeting with all your parents the first quarter. Give yourself a few minutes between each conference to prepare and have materials ready. 

Tip: have resource information readily available too like:

-specialists emails or phone numbers
-a laptop or iPad with your schools website so you can show 
them how to navigate it to find other resources

Keep a record...

It's important that teachers keep records of their conferences with each child's parents/guardians. It's important because it can be used as documentation in other meetings, especially if it's related to academic or disciplinary issues. 

This form is good if you want to see your whole class at a glance as you have conferences throughout the year. Or...

You can use this alternative form, which looks at individual students and how often you've met or talked with their parents. I like this form personally because I can keep it in their file in my classroom. It's also helpful if you have students with IEPs or Child Study (in LCPS that the initial meeting that establishes interventions before officially giving a child an IEP).

Don't Forget!

I've included Don't Forget! slips with my resource pack because it's another small thing that parents really appreciate {especially if they signed up for a conference back in Sept}. Just fill out the student's name and the time/date of the conference and send home a week or so before your conferences begin! 

Every year this packet has been such a time saver and an easy way to organize student progress and work in a nutshell for parents.

What are some tricks of the trade you utilize during conferences?

November 13, 2018

Engaging Those Reluctant & Excelling Writers

Two types of writers...

We all have those students who are the reluctant writers. They are the quiet ones - the ones those students who don’t actively ask for help. They hope they can be unseen and overshadowed by the more advanced writers in the class - and will even find ways to become distracted so they don’t have to put pencil to paper. I’ve had my fair share and I can’t blame them for not enjoying writing. It can be a difficult subject for some and depending on their experiences before stepping into my classroom they may already be frustrated or lack in their confidence in their abilities before they even start.

We also know those students who lie on the opposite side of the spectrum - these are the advanced writers. They love to write and often grasp writing skills quickly and are among the first to finish. These students enjoy writing and are eager for a challenge just to keep their minds busy. Teachers often times miss these students too because their focus are on those middle-of-the-road students and assign mundane review tasks just so the excelling students stay busy.

The Answer: A Discovery Journal

How exactly do I manage to grab the attention and excitement for writing from both groups of kids? Well, ever since I began Discovery Journals with my class in second grade it has been proven to show an increase in student involvement both in school and at home. 

Discovery Journals is an at-home research/informative writing project that spans the entire school year. It is optional and is not graded, however I do look over each journal and make little notes to the student as guidance for their following entry. I typically begin this activity a few months after school has started - just so kids aren’t overwhelmed and gives them time to get settled in academically.

Research made easy...

I always share with students this new opportunity and how it will give them extra practice with their writing skills. What’s the hook? They get to choose the topic of their writing each and every week (student choice is everything!). Beginning with the letter A and moving through the alphabet, they are to pick a topic, research it at home either using books or supervised online resources, then use the provided brainstorming sheets to record their facts and write a short paragraph or two as an informative writing piece. Students are then to present their writing in a oral presentation to the class on a day designated by the teacher (I typically pick Friday). 

I always try to give my parents as much information up front as possible. I never try to assume that they know how each little assignment or project is supposed to be completed - even if I feel like I do a great job at explaining it. Since composition notebooks are the only material that parents need to provide, it is important that students find the ‘just right’ notebook for their abilities. So, I provided this (above) optional handout for teachers to send home with the parent letter so they know what kind of writing tablet they should be looking for for their child.

The main structure of this project is for students to properly plan their writing so they have material to which to write with. The planning sheets include A-Z and once students complete Z they can pick their own topics. These blacklines allow students to:

  • draw a picture of their topic (example: alligators (sketch a picture))
  • come up with a topic sentence that hooks the reader
  • three facts to use within their writing
  • find one new vocabulary word to use in their writing and define it for their readers
  • a concluding sentence

Afterwards, students are equipped with enough material to begin their writing, which they will complete within their Discovery Journals (aka composition notebook).

I am always so excited to share this with my kiddos and hope you can engage your students too with this fun at-home project!