Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm a Little Pine Tree -- Just for Fun

Thanks, Jennifer Williams, for sharing Harry Kindergarten on YouTube with me. There are many primary resources available from this site. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nifty Thrifty Fifty Review

Click start and clue to begin.

Click start and clue to begin.

Click start and clue to begin.

Upload lesson here:
Click start and clue to begin.

Word Sorts

Download lesson here:

Download lesson here:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

RTI Resource

"The best intervention is prevention."
~Mike Mattos

Self-Selected Reading - Mrs. Yen's Class

Check out Mrs. Yen's SSR schedule and chart allowing students to sit around the room to read. She has definitely set up her classroom for success!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Weekly Language Quiz - Cold Assessment Example

It's difficult to acquire grades when utizlizing writer's workshop. In addition to monthly published pieces, consider adding a weekly cold assessment to your plans. See example below:

Language Cold Assessment

Parts of Speech

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Encouraging Making Words Lesson

Lesson modified from:

Lesson 26 from Cunningham, P. (2003). Big Words for Big Kids:  Systematic Sequential Phonics and Spelling. Greensboro, NC:  Carson-Dellosa Publishing Company, Inc.

Access Lesson Here:

*According to Robert Marzano, highly effective teachers use similarities and differences in their classrooms. When sorting and transferring, you are finding similarities and differences. :-)

This is typically a two-day lesson. You have students make the words the first day, and sort and transfer the second day.

Make the Words:
  • rage
  • raging
  • race
  • racing
  • care
  • caring
  • uncaring
  • canoe
  • canoeing
  • courage
  • encouraging
Sort the Words for Patters:
  • rage, raging
  • race, racing
  • care, caring, uncaring
  • canoe, canoeing
  • courage, encouraging
  • raging, racing, caring, uncaring
  • etc.

Transfer the Words:
  • If you can spell race, you can spell lace.
  • If you can spell lace, you can spell unlace.
  • If you can spell racing, you can spell lacing.
  • If you can spell care, you can spell dare.
  • If you can spell caring, you can spell daring.
  • If you can spell rage, you can spell stage.
  • If you can spell raging, you can spell staging.
Sort the Transfer Words into the Other Words:
  • See examples below

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall into Reading

Fall into Reading

See more presentations by cheryl_dick | Upload your own PowerPoint presentations

This is the PowerPoint used last Friday with Missouri State University student teachers. Please post or e-mail with questions or comments. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Subtracting with Regrouping Website (and much more)

I watched Ms. Martin use this site with her 3rd graders at John Thomas Elementary. After creating the problem, simply start with the ones column and drag the blue base-ten blocks down to the red blocks and watch them disappear. If you have to 'borrow,' drag the blue base-ten block over and watch it split into smaller pieces before dragging them down to the red blocks. The answer appears to the right of the page. ( I know this explanation isn't written in the best mathematical terms, but I hope it makes sense. :) )

Website Link:

Anticipation Video Clip

I had a chance to observe Beth Neathery teach a reading lesson this morning, and she used this video clip when teaching students to ANTICIPATE an answer. What a neat idea!

Yippee-Yay! Guess the Covered Word

What Looks Right? Bite and Fight

Access the Lesson Here:

*When you click the misspelled word, the gray box covers it. This is a great lesson to use to teach/practice dictionary skills and homophones.

One of my former fourth-grade students was tutoring in Amber Doty's third-grade class today when I modeled this lesson. He said he remembered doing dictionary races in our class WAY BACK WHEN ... He's currently a junior in high school. Time passes too quickly!

Lesson taken from:  Cunningham, P.M., Hall, D.P. (1998). Month-by-Month Phonics for Upper Grades:  A Second Chance for Struggling Readers and Students Learning English. Greensboro, NC:  Carson-Dellosa Publishing.

What Do Students Need to Know to be Proficient or Advanced on M.A.P. Test?

CA Long Descriptors New

Ma Long Descriptors New

Sc Long Descriptors New

Friday, September 17, 2010

Guess the Covered Word -- Poem

Making Words Lesson: Unimpressive

Download Lesson Here:

*The first page is cloned four times before you get to the page with words to sort/transfer to ensure enough room for students to spell all the words.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Use Riddles to Draw Conclusions

Riddle modified from:

Steady and straight we go,
Not too fast and not too slow,
On rails we do roll,
Tremendous weight we can pull,
We are many but still one.
What are we?

A train

Book Leveling Correlation Chart

Book Leveling Correlation Chart

Thank you, Debby Money, for sharing this! :-)

R1H - Drawing Conclusions

We all know that drawing conclusions was heavily tested on the elementary Communication Arts M.A.P. test. I've heard many teachers ask the difference between a conclusion and an inference.  These skills go hand-in-hand.

According to DESE the definitions are:
  • Draw Conclusions:  use of facts and inferences to make a judgment or decision
  • Inference: to draw meaning from a combination of clues in the text without explicit reference in the text
3rd Grade Multiple Choice Example:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Brain Friendly Math Presentation -- Drury University

Key Points of Presentation:
  • Teach the written curriculum.
  • Assess the writtten curriculum.
  • Have high expectations.
  • Include all.
  • Make students accountable when pair/sharing.
    • Finish that thought. Pause right there. Thank your partner for sharing.
    • Randomly call of partners to share their discussions with the class.
  • Add movement to learning to help. This helps students retrieve PROCEDURAL memory.
  • Prime students -- preview information before teaching it.
  • Use stories like Gallon Guy. I LOVED the ladder example for coordinate pairs.
  • Use songs like 18 Wheels on a Big Rig by Trout Fishing in America (and School House Rock).
  • Remember that teaching is fun and what you're doing is important.
Thank you for sharing your evening with me last night. The interaction was much appreciated. It's obvious that many of you have a passion for teaching students. :-)

Click the links below to access:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Note from Barbara St. Clair, Science Consultant

Barbara St. Clair recently read a wonderful article and shared the information with me. You'll want to spend a few minutes reading her words ... they are very thought provoking.

Barbara's Thoughts ...

I really didn’t expect to find the answers to life’s greatest questions while sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for my spouse, but there it was: the Atlantic magazine from January/February 2010, with an article titled “What Makes a Great Teacher?” I grabbed it!

The article is not a huge surprise, but the main message was encouraging: great teachers are not born and are not necessarily the unique heroes of stirring movies; they are instead hard-working, dedicated professionals who strive relentlessly to make a difference to their students.

Great teachers, then, can be models for our own behavior, because what makes them great is not who they are, but what they do. Determining exactly what they do has been the focus of study for the nonprofit organization, Teach for America, for many years. Recently the data from almost twenty years of observation has been compiled and interpreted, and the Atlantic magazine article presents an overview of this study.

The program Teach for America places college graduates in low-income, struggling schools, usually working with students who have fallen below grade level and whose demographics would seem to predict continued failure. What often happens, however, is that individual teachers take a classroom of these struggling students and move them not only through the grade level but ahead—defying the odds. Teach for America interviewed these teachers several times a year, observed their classrooms and visited with their administrators, students and parents. Based on the study, the organization identified several specific actions that promoted student success and significant gains in achievement:

#1 Great teachers tend to set big goals for their students [and they share those goals with their students].

#2 They constantly re-evaluate what they are doing and adjust their instruction accordingly.

#3 They “avidly recruit students and their families into the process.”

#4 They maintain focus, ensuring that everything they do contributes to student learning.

#5 They plan exhaustively and purposefully, for the next day or the year ahead, “by working backward from the desired outcome.”

#6 They check frequently for student understanding [and not simply by asking, “Are there any questions?”]

The author notes that “we tend to ascribe the gifts of excellent teachers to some mystical quality that we can recognize and revere---but not replicate.” The data shows, however, that new teachers and veteran teachers alike can copy the behaviors of great teachers and have similar success---with dedication and perseverance. Greatness, in other words, is possible. That’s a great message for the beginning of the year!

What Makes a Great Teacher? By Amanda Ripley, the Atlantic magazine, January/February 2010

Thanks for sharing this, Barbara! You are an inspiration to me. :) For those of you that know me --- yes, JT is in the photo above (beard and all!). That photo was taken at Camp Barnabas this summer. JT is currently pursuing a major in special education. :)

Encouragement Making Words Lesson

Click here to access lesson:

Words to spell:  (There are three pages that look the same to allow for enough room to make all the words.)
  • eat
  • eaten
  • uneaten
  • agree
  • agreement
  • argue
  • argument
  • rage
  • outrage
  • courage
  • encourage
  • encouragement

Words to Sort:
The fourth page has all the words listed above ready for students to sort for patterns.

Transfer Words:
The fourth page has these words covered; simply delete the box to expose each word after students try writing it on whiteboards to check for understanding.
  • enrage
  • enjoy
  • enjoyment
  • argue
  • argument
  • rage
  • outrage
  • courage
  • encourage
  • encouragement

Cunningham, P. M. (2003). Big Words for Big Kids:  Systematic Sequential Phonics and Spelling. Greensboro, NC:  Carson-Dellosa Publishing Company, Inc.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

DESE 3rd Grade Writing Scoring Guide/Assessment Folder


2010-2011 M.A.P. Checklist

_____1. I reflected on the amount of growth in the students I taught last year comparing their 2010 results to 2009 (4th-6th grade).

_____2. I compared the percentage of proficient/advanced students in my classroom with the building/district/state.

_____3. I reflected on the best-practices I used last year that really worked to increase achievement.

_____4. I collaborated with my principal/team members/TOSAs about these best practices. I shared ideas and gleaned ideas shared by others.

_____5. I know what percentage of my current students scored proficient or advanced on the 2010 tests, so I can determine growth after the 2011 test (4th—6th grade). DESE expects 75.5 proficient or advanced in communication arts in 2011 and 72.5 in math. This is an increase in expectation from 2010.

_____6. I know which students in my classroom were barely proficient or almost proficient (on the bubble) for tutoring purposes.

_____7. I compared my students’ SRI scores with their Communication Arts M.A.P. scores to see if there is a correlation or discrepancy.

_____8. I gave the math and communication arts inventory tests and compared these scores to the Communication Arts and Math M.A.P. scores to see if there is a correlation or discrepancy.

_____9. After giving the math and communication arts inventories, I determined specific strengths and weaknesses of each child for tutoring.

____10. I administered and scored the beginning of the year writing inventory to gather baseline data to drive writing instruction.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Formative Assessment - Fist-to-Five

After teaching a reading or math mini-lesson to the whole-group of students, do a 'fist-to-five' it. Students showing a four or five means they understand and are ready to practice on their own. A three means they kind-of understand it but would like a peer to reexplain it to them.  If they show a one or two, they remain with the teacher for small-group reteaching. Mrs. Connie Hunt said she did this almost every day and it made a remarkable difference in her students' achievement.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Priming the Brain for Learning

Ms. Myers Spotlighting Board

"Pre-exposure to information makes subsequent learning proceed more quickly. The brain seems to have a way of putting information and ideas into a buffer zone, or cognitive waiting room, for rapid access. There is a long history of studies suggesting that prior exposure to content leads to quicker reponses." ~Eric Jensen


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Happy School is a Happening School

To keep focused on the importance of a sense of humor to survive in a challenging profession, the best teachers practice! Check out the attire above ... Mrs. Cooper was all turned around, and Mrs. White's  and Mrs. Aldrich's classes were having an Italian Day. These teachers definitely made me SMILE! Thanks!!

A sense of humor is important:
    *laugh loudly
    *tell someone something amusing
    *smile at least once every hour during the day
    *play at least once and look for fun in your day. If you can't find it, create it.
    *make humor a habit
    *send a colleague a 'unique' surprise
    *make a list of things you have already accomplished today
    *dream about what you will do on summer break
Excellence can be attained if YOU...
...CARE more than others think is wise.
...RISK more than others think is safe.
...DREAM more than others think is practical.
...EXPECT more than others think is possible.
~Author Unknown

Friday, April 30, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Is Your Classroom Brain Friendly?

Brain-Friendly Environment

Environments are the medium in which we live. We can feel them every day, all day long. At school, only the quality of the teacher is a greater determinant of student success than the environment. -E. Jensen

Resource: Environments for Learning by Eric Jensen

Safety First:
• Adopt a zero tolerance policy towards bullying.
• Make the room inviting to students: use music, flowers, warm colors and affirming posters.
• Maintain a caring attitude that accepts diversity.
• Role model positive ways to deal with temporary setbacks.

Prime Students for Learning:
• Plant seeds of learning with pre-exposure.
• Hang up peripherals (posters, pictures, drawings, symbols) two-four weeks before you begin teaching a unit.
• Many teachers do this by having a ‘coming soon’ bulletin board.

Reduce Clutter:
• Make sure your classroom is physically neat before each learning session.
• Take care that ample classroom space is allotted for necessary storage.
• Use appropriate wall space to organize material on bulletin boards.
• At least one time per month, take an honest stock of your classroom; freshen displays and discard materials no longer in use.

• The brain responds exceptionally well to learning environments with high levels of individualized instruction, constructive feedback, small-group interaction, and high expectations.
– Regularly incorporate small-group learning activities.
– Experiment with seating and desk arrangements.
– Consider an occasional change of location to teach a concept.

Music and Learning:
• When children are talking, predictable music without words is best.
• Typically use music no more than 5 to 20% of your class period.
• Use a variety of music types.
– To calm students down, choose a slow song – slightly slower than the normal heartbeat.
– To motivate students, choose a fast beat selection (120-140 beats per minute).
– To enhance productivity, choose selections that mirror the normal heart rate (60-70 beats per minute) and are highly predictable and in a major key.

• When relaxation is required, keep temperature in the upper range of the comfort zone (70-72 degrees).
• When alertness is desired, keep temperature in the lower range of the comfort zone (68-70 degrees).

• Maintain a constant, adequate level of bright lighting (at least 2,000 lux).
• Indirect but bright natural lighting is best.
• Deviate from the norm and take students outside for occasional learning sessions. Not only will they be exposed to more sunlight and fresh air; their brains will be stimulated by the novelty of learning in a new and different environment.

• Research suggests that peppermint, basil, lemon, cinnamon, and rosemary enhance mental alertness while lavender, chamomile, orange, and rose calm nerves and encourage relaxation.
• Be sensitive to others’ complaints about bothersome smells. Unpleasant odors are known to inhibit learning.

Environments for Learning by Eric Jensen

Differentiated Seating Chart

  • First, distinguish the readiness levels of your students: early readiness (ER), readiness (R), advanced readiness (AR). Early readiness is below grade level, readiness is on grade level and advanced readiness is above grade level.
  • Next, create groups of four [see chart above]. If you prefer students facing forward, simply create a base group of four. Then, have students practice moving desks from partners to groups. This can be done in a matter of seconds.
  • Look at the seating chart above. When students work with shoulder partners, the learning gap is considered because advanced readiness learners are NOT paired with early readiness learners. When students work with face partners, advanced readiness learners are NOT paired with early readiness learners.
  • You’ll also notice that each group of four is assigned a number from 1-4. When using tiered assignments, the teacher can easily ask students to move to the four corners of the room – number ones in one corner, twos in another, etc. Students’ readiness levels are already considered and assignments can easily be disseminated.
  • Seating charts are generally kept for four-six weeks. Be sure that you don’t always have #1s as early readiness students when making new groups or students will figure out your system.
  • After you determine where you’re going to place readiness levels, it’s easier to differentiate for behavior too. Notice the pictures in the diagram – class clowns are separated, etc.

Appointment Calendars - Differentiated Partner Work

Appointment Calendars

By keeping appointment calendars, teachers can easily instruct students to work in partners with minimal management required. Students do not meet at specified times, it's simply an organizational tool. At any time during the day, the teacher may instruct for students to work with their 8 o'clock appointments.

Make one copy of the daily appointment calendar for each student in your class. Have students stand up, take their appointment calendars and find other students with whom to make appointments. Explain that each time an appointment is made, the student should write the appropriate name in the agreed-upon time. The calendars must agree. If Johnny is my(student in class) 8:00 appointment, I(student in class) must be his 8:00 appointment.

Students are responsible for keeping up with their appointment calendars, but the teacher may want to make a copy to be on the safe side.

It’s easy to differentiate the appointment calendars by only allowing student to self-select a specific number of appointments. The rest are made by the teacher. Students only have names written by their appointments but the teacher has a ‘key’ as to how the partners were made [see example below].

Appointments are made gradually throughout the year. The teacher may instruct students to self-select 8, 10, 12 and 2 o’clock appointments. This gives the teacher a ‘skeleton’ from which to work. As the teacher becomes acquainted with learning profiles, additional appointments will be made by the teacher. The teacher may simply instruct the class to write down 9:00 appointments by telling (or displaying on the SMARTBoard) who the partners are. When doing this, the teacher does not specify that 9:00 partners are peer tutors.

With a differentiated seating chart and differentiated appointment calendars, think of the flexible grouping arrangement possibilities. If the teacher calls for 3:00 appointments to work together, he automatically knows that he needs to work with the four-six early readiness students.

Appointment Calendar
Possible Teacher’s Key

8:00: Student Selected Partner (Heterogeneous)
9:00: Peer Tutor (ER paired with R; R paired with AR)
10:00: Student Selected Partner (Heterogeneous)
11:00: Similar Abilities Paired Together (ER paired with ER, R with R, AR with AR – Homogeneous)
12:00: Student Selected Partner (Heterogeneous)
1:00: Similar Abilities Paired Together (Homogeneous)
2:00: Student Selected Partner (Heterogeneous)
3:00: Math (Homogeneous – Similar Abilities Paired)
4:00: Reading (Homogeneous – Similar Abilities Paired)
5:00: Science Peer Tutor
6:00: Similar Abilities Paired Together (Homogeneous)
7:00 Student Selected Partner (Heterogeneous)

Appointment Calendar for Susie Q.
8:00: Johnny
9:00: Jennifer
10:00: Matthew
11:00: Harrison
12:00: Sandra
1:00: Kevin
2:00: Cindy
3:00: Kurt
4:00: Sean
5:00: Faith
6:00 Brad
7:00 Kate

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Barbara's 4th Grade Science Post

Fourth grade science teachers at Century have been working on developing instructional activities to address the targeted learner objectives for their force and motion unit [see the form below, Force and Motion Deconstructed GLEs]. The two activities below are excellent science labs designed to have the students explore the concepts incrementally and in depth. The stations in the static electricity lab allow students to talk over their ideas with their teammates and the repeated questions provide students with opportunity to see patterns and relationships. Notice how the questions begin with descriptions of what they saw, and then the questions at the end allow them to begin drawing conclusions.

Another significant point to notice is that the activities are very focused on exactly what the targeted learning goals are. The verbs of the GLEs match the verbs of the activity. Finally, it’s important to remember that these are instructional exploration activities, not quizzes, and teachers don’t need to collect and grade them, but instead should use them for discussion.

Force and Motion Deconstructed GLEs for 4th Grade (2)

Newton Experiment

Static Electricty Stations (2)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010