Monday, August 31, 2015

5 Tips for New Teachers and Everyone Else

By Deann Marin of Socrates Lantern

As veteran teachers, we all remember what it was like when we walked into our first classroom. So, in this week's blog hop, from Sharing is Caring Teacher Blogging Collaborative, we've decided to share some tips with you.

By Kathie Yonemura of Tried and True Teaching Tools
5 "tried and true" teaching tips for new teachers. All that I wished someone had told me in the beginning!

By Marcy Howe of It's a Teacher Thing

Tips for new teachers and great reminder for the rest of us targets advice for survival in the classroom. Veteran teachers discuss their hard-earned expertise on making it through the early years of teaching.

By Retta London of Rainbow City Learning

Five things I wish I could tell to my new teacher self when I started my career.

By Deann Marin of Socrates Lantern
One of the first things that I learned in college was to be nice to the custodian. He or she is your best friend.


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FREE LANGUAGE ARTS LESSON - “September ABC Order Freebie”

by Teacher Gone Digital
1st - 3rd Grade

Here is a September ABC Order Enjoy! See my Primary ABC Activities pack for additional ABC order center activities to use in centers throughout the school year. 

I'm free...please be kind enough to rate me!

Thank you!

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

FREE MATH LESSON - “Number Puzzles for 11 - 20”

by Denise's Designs
Pre-Kindergarten - 2nd Grade

You’re My Missing Piece is 8 puzzles designed to help students with teen number confusion. Puzzles are an engaging way for students to learn or reinforce a skill you are working on in the classroom. These puzzles are a fantastic way to provide practice and/or reinforcement for students who are struggling to understand teen numerals. 

Included in You’re My Missing Piece are 8 puzzles which include the numeral, tally marks, the word, and ten frames to match together to form a 4 piece puzzle. The puzzles can be used during small group or used in a center for additional practice.

I hope you enjoy,

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

FREE MATH LESSON - "Place Value Review: Digital Math Stations"

by Teaching Redefined
Grades 3-5

Are you trying to incorporate more technology in your classroom? This product will help your math stations go digital!
This FREE sample of my digital math stations includes:
  • Link to an instructional video
  • 2 station activities
  • Link to a blendspace with digital instructions for students

This product is a great way to introduce your students to math workshop by reviewing place value. The activities cover:
  • Place value names to the hundred thousands place
  • Standard form & word form for 6-digit numbers
I   The best part about digital math stations, is you're free to work with small groups. Check out my guided math lesson plans to help all your students learn. 

For my ideas on integrating technology, be sure to check out my blog:

FREE MATH LESSON - “Playing with Probability”

by Caitlin Howald
1st - 3rd Grade

Use these three spinners (B&W or colour) as a tool to introduce students to the concept of probability. There is also a sheet students can use to reflect on their findings!

Please rate this product! 

If you liked this Freebie! Check out my other graphing and probability products!

Roll that Dice: A Tally Chart Activity

Graphing Culminating Activity

Roll that Dice: A Tally Chart Activity

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Friday, August 28, 2015

A fresh look at Reading Logs in Kindergarten and 1st Grade

Reading Logs post.png 

I have spent most of my career teaching little people, and a good part of that time parenting little people, too. One topic of great discussion (well beyond kindergarten and grade one) was that of the Reading Log. As a first grade teacher, I had mixed feelings about sending them home. It's fairly easy to figure out early on what will become of one's students' reading logs throughout the year.

As parents, we all have the best intentions. Teachers know that. Many of us fill both roles. Life gets busy, especially that in-between school and bed time when you have to make and clean up dinner between driving kids everywhere ensure they're somewhat clean, and maybe even do some homework. I believe that most parents do read with, or to, their kids. Writing it down (especially when we're exhausted and feeling like we're being policed?) Well, that's a whole other story.

How many evenings did I spend at the end of each month, sitting at my kitchen table with a selection of different colored pens, filling in my kids' reading logs? We absolutely read each night, probably for too long, but we sure didn't break the spell to keep track of it all!
It is because I valued passing on the love of reading that, in the case of traditional Reading Logs, our kids learned from me that I was okay with dishonesty (under very specific circumstances). Yep, they learned that the magic of reading trumped honesty. GULP.
The Parent / Teacher Connection:

 When I was teaching Reading Recovery, between my training and the variety of students I had, I began to really understand the difference between passive and active learners, and the connection between our roles as parents and teachers. Have you heard the phrase 'Never do for a child what he can do for himself'? I'm a believer.

There was a very definite link between how quickly my students that were more independent with getting ready for recess or home, for example, and using the strategies I was teaching them, were progressing through the program. Those who simply shrugged when I asked them a question, or stood daydreaming in the hall, expecting someone to come and zip up their jackets were the ones who seemed to struggle the most. They were also the ones who left their reading bags at home, waited to be directed for every step of the same structured lesson we had each day. Some of my students did not have bedtime stories because they 'didn't have time'. (That did not surprise me with the amount of time it took to travel down a short hallway!)

I have 'rejigged' the reading log for the little people, with the purpose of parents and teachers focusing on maintaining the natural enthusiasm for reading and building responsibility for their learning in our little people! Have a look:

Th 2 Reading Log bw cover
This is the front
cover, with space
for the student's
portrait and
name. Copy onto
colored paper
or let them color
it themselves! 

Th 3 Reading Logs
This is the first
inside page of
the Reading
Log, with the
legend and a
note for parents
explaining how
it all works! 

Th 4 10 June Reading Log
Students draw in &
submit reading
log with a page
completed monthly.
after discussing  
the 3 boxes at 
bottom at home.

strips - Copy
This is a later addition
to Reading Logs -
rejigged, for anyone
wishing to add extra
strips for additional
tracking (weekly?)
Simply return to your
My Purchases page &
download an update!

Fam Read Fun
While this is not part of
Reading Logs - rejigged
it is the ideal info sheet
(& freebie) to include
with it or in your
familiar reading bags! 

It is my hope, that by focusing on each child as an individual 'Superstar' Reader (front cover), who has an important job to do in bringing his or her special Reading Folder or bag home regularly (hopefully with a library book to listen to, and/or some familiar reading), and returning it to school, it will help foster a sense of pride in being a big kid who 'reads'. It is also my hope that our earliest little readers and their parents find reading stories at bedtime something they look forward to each night, and that stories accompany them elsewhere in their lives! Below, please find the links to the free one month trial version and the full versions of Reading Logs - rejigged! If you like this idea, please pass it on! I would love to hear your thoughts on reading logs, this new one, and alternatives you use. Best wishes to all of you as we embark on another school year!

Th1 Reading Logs - rejigged! FULL PRODUCT RL fr sample FREE SAMPLE

The full product comes with all 12 months, plus additional months  for August, October, November, December and April to keep options open regardless of
country or religion!

  Reading Log preview.png - Copy                

The Sight-Word-Stages Leveled Readers Alpha flip book.png Reading Levels.png

Follow That Fun Reading Teacher's board Kindergarten Literacy Fun on Pinterest.

   2015 TpT Store Prof pic circle
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FREE SCIENCE LESSON - “Chia Seeds Tasting Activity - Five Senses”

by Fun monkey bars
Kindergarten - 2nd Grade

How fun it is to learn about seeds while tasting them! And more if we make the students try these super healthy CHIA SEEDS.
Try them and compare different recipes while talking about them and filling out a form to record the data.
Five senses great activity: taste, sight, hearing, smell and touch.
In English and in Spanish.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

FREE MATH LESSON - “Scoot - Recognition of Halves for Kindergarten, Pre-Primary and Year 1”

by Bee Happy
Kindergarten - 2nd Grade

Scoot - Recognition of Halves for Kindergarten, Pre-Primary and Year 1
Always a popular game, this version of Scoot allows for the consolidation and practice of halves. A great Math activity for students who need to be active. Students move around the classroom answering a series of questions. An excellent way to develop a concept. 
You may like these products also available in my store
Addition Word Problems - Think Boards - Bundle
Addition Think Boards - Change Unknown - Sums to 10
Get the Scoop! Fact Family Game
50 Club Basic Facts Cards - addition & subtraction
Fact Families - The Game
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sharing the SECRET STORIES® with Parents!

"Last year, a lot of parents in my class were asking about the SECRET STORIES™ and how they could use them at home to support what their child was learning in school. I want to respect the copyright, but I also love that parents want to know! 

Do you have suggestions on how to share the stories with parents? I noticed you'd suggested in another post that teachers could make a big book to send home using their older posters, but I don't have the old posters.  I only have the smaller, cut-apart set that I use in small group to work with my kids?"

As soon as I received this question, I asked permission to post it on my blog! 

So here are some "TO-DO's" for sharing the SECRETS™with your parents...
-DO devote a little time during Open House to let parents know about the SECRETS™ (what they are, how they work, etc...) and provide them with a copy of the"Parent-Share"page from the SS book!
We always held our Open House a couple of weeks after school had gotten underway, so by that time, my parents had already been hearing about the SECRETS™ from their kids, and so they were excited to learn more about them. Some parents, however, wouldn't even know that the SECRET STORIES® were about the letters, and they just wanted to understand what it was that Johnny kept talking about!

Because time at Open House is always limited, and there are always so many other things to cover, the "Parent-Share" page is key! It's a quick and easy way to provide parents with the tools they need to 'dig-deeper' later. 

In it is the website information (which has leveled writing samples, video clips, sample SECRETS™, etc...) as well as a link to the SECRET STORIES® YouTube Channel and even information on the Home Version (identical to the class set, with the exclusion of the posters) should they wish to accelerate or remediate at home. Oftentimes, schools will even purchase a few copies (ideally, one per grade level) for parent check-out and sharing in-conference, or to house in a Parent Resource Room.

An additional and more comprehensive tool for sharing information is the downloadable and fully editable SECRET STORIES® PowerPoint, from which you can pull what you need and incorporate it into your own PowerPoint presentation, or even make copies to include in parent handouts. This comprehensive resource also contains live, clickable-links for teachers to dig-deeper! (Please note that due to the large file size, you will initially receive a "Whoops" message on GoogleDocs to let you know that the file is too large to preview.  Just click 'YES' and the file will begin to download, although it will take a few minutes, due to the graphics/ file-size.) 

-DO mention new SECRETS™ as they are introduced, in your newsletter!  

It can be as simple as.... 
"Ask Johnny to tell you the SECRET about au/aw!"  
"Ask Johnny if he can tell you some words that contain this SECRET!" 
"Over the weekend, see how many words Johnny can spot with the au/aw SECRET!"

Kids who know the SECRETS™ take great pride in owning them, especially since they had to earn the right to hear them!  It's a mistake when teachers assume that their students won't be able to share the SECRETS™ they know without an accompanying graphic or story text.

Now that's not to say that there won't be times when clarification might be needed. Like the time one of my kinders went home and told his mother...
"Mrs. Garner told us about this guy who's got a girlfriend AND a wife, and he loves them both so much he says 'ahhhhhhhhh' with both of them... she talks about them every day....she's even got their picture up on the wall!"  

Needless to say, that took some explaining.
Even so, what mattered was that the story (and resulting sound) made sense to him!

-DO consider purchasing SECRET STORIES® Porta-Pics for students to use both at home AND during independent reading/writing both in and outside of the regular classroom. 
Porta-Pics are tri-foldable, card-stock placards with all of the SECRET STORIES® graphics, and are designed for 'portable' use both in and outside the classroom. They're available in class sets of 25 for a cost of $65, which comes to $2.60 per student
And as the SECRET STORIES® are used across the grade levels, one Porta-Pic  may be used by multiple siblings at home! They are often purchased by the school or for specific grade levels, although they can also be paid for by the parents, themselves, just like with class book order for Scholastic. At $2.60, per student, the Porta-Pics are simply the best and most cost-effective tool to support student-use of the SECRETS™ at home, or anywhere else outside of the classroom! 

When implementation is school-wide, principals will often use the Porta-Pics as an incentive for parents to attend School Literacy Night, Parent Education Evenings, or even Open House, purchasing several packs and providing one Porta-Pic to every parent who attends. Funding for this is usually accessible through School Improvement, as it helps satisfy the objective for fostering greater parent awareness, education and involvement (i.e. building the 'Home-School' connection).

-DO send home the SECRET™ sheets (provided in the back of the SS book) as students master them in guided group, and alert parents to look for them to come home on a regular basis! 

Each of the SECRET™sheets spotlight a different "secret" sound pattern, providing ideal opportunities for students to share their SECRETS™ when taken home! Similarly, the SECRET STORIES® Guided Readerswith SECRETS™ highlighted throughout the text, prompting learners to share the SECRETS™ they know when reading at home to parents.
SECRET STORIES® Guided Readers
Additionally, the handful of SECRET STORIES®-support items listed on TPT also provide an easy way to familiarize parents with the SECRETS™ and how students use them in the classroom. For example, Spotting SECRETS™ provides reading and writing practice for the most common digraphs, but the best part is that there are thumbnail-sized graphics of the targeted SECRETS™ at the top of each page!  This allows those parents who aren't regular visitors or volunteers in your classroom, to see for themselves what  the SECRETS™ are, and how they are accessed by students for both reading and writing, 
Spotting SECRETS™ 
Also available for this purpose are the SECRET STORIES® Alphabet Mini-Mats and SECRETS of the Superhero Vowels™, both which contain digital images of the SECRET™ vowel graphics that may be brought home to share and/or practice.
SECRET STORIES® Alphabet Mini-Mats
The SECRETS™ of the Superhero Vowels™
-DO consider using old poster versions (for those who have them) to create a SECRET STORIES® big book that may be taken home by students on a rotating basis.  
I'd mentioned this in a previous post as an idea for those teachers who had purchased the new, color posters (Fun & Funky or Original Color) to replace their older 'black-on-red' ones. 
Now for some DON'Ts...
-DON'T make copies of the cut-apart cards in the back of the teacher book!
Not only is it wrong (i.e. against copyright) but at $2.60, the Porta-Pics are cheaper than making all those color copies! 

I had to mention this because oftentimes, teachers are provided with adopted, reading series material that we ARE allowed to copy and distribute to our students, as per the licensing agreement on the material when it was purchased. With the SECRET STORIES® however, that's not the case. And this is why the Porta-Pics were created.

-DON'T make copies of the Porta-Pics (see above :)
-DON'T re-produce, re-type, re-write, or re-word the story text or graphics for in handouts, class newsletters, class websites, Weeblys, Google docs, Prezis, Promethean/Smart Board documents, etc...

The strangest way I've ever seen the SECRETS STORIES® shared was in a PDF file that was uploaded to Google Docs. In it was a series of 100+ images (or however many pages were in the SS book at the time) of a hand, holding up the SECRET STORIES® book, one page at a time... from cover to cover! I can't imagine how long the whole process must have taken, or how she was able to find anyone to sit there and take all those pictures!

(But in her defense, the Porta-Pics hadn't been available at that time ;)

In closing, I would like to invite everyone who will be using the SECRET STORIES® in their classroom this school year, to join my new collaborative Pinterest Page, Sharing SECRETS™!  

My goal in creating it was to provide an easy-access, open-forum for teachers sharing the SECRETS™ to upload pictures and video clips of interesting lessons, guided group  'A-ha' moments, student activities and/or writing, and even their own blog posts! Basically anything and everything SECRET STORIES®-related that shows what you do and how you (and your students) do it!

If you would like for me to send you an invite, you can message me on Pinterest, or just leave a comment with your Pinterest user name, below.  As I currently have about 40,000 followers, (thanks to all of you!) this new board will open with almost 11,000, so it will be a great place for you to share your "secrets" with other teachers! 
Sharing SECRETS™ Collaborative Pinterest Page
Until Next Time,

PS  For those who might not know, you can download FREE Common Core Literacy Posters w/ the SECRET STORIES® graphic-supports for grades PreK-3rd on the SECRET STORIES® website!

FREE PreK-3rd Common Core Literacy Posters
w/ SECRET STORIES® graphic-supports!
There, you will find links for other other 'made-to-match' sets, including the FREE Common Core Science Posters, also for grades PreK-3rd!
FREE Common Core Science Posters for PreK-3rd!