The Quiet Signal

It’s important to establish rules and routines at the beginning of the school year, practise them and ensure students understand what is expected. A key routine to your classroom management is how to get your students’ attention. The aim is to get all students to stop what they are doing straight away, be quiet and focus on you, ready for learning or your next direction.

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There are numerous ways to do this; counting down from 5, call and response, whiteboard timers, chimes etc. I love to use a rainstick for this purpose. When I want the students’ attention, I turn my rainstick to get their attention. I love the sound of the rainstick, it is very calming and quite quiet, but a very different noise to the human voice, so even though it is fairly quiet, it can be heard throughout the classroom. You can keep turning the rainstick for however long it takes to get their attention, so there is no time limit (hopefully this time should get shorter the more the students practise this). Best of all, you do not need to use your voice at all! It is important that we try to think of ways to reduce the amount time we talk to give directions to students and to look after and not strain our voices. I particularly love the calming sound of the rainstick and if you have a clear one like mine, then students’ will love watching the little balls fall through it!

So, what do the students do when they hear the rainstick and I have their attention? I have them put both hands on top of their head. I want to make sure that I have their full attention and nothing is in their hands, so this ensures that their hands and empty and they are focusing on myself.

Then I quietly call ‘hands down’ and students are sitting quietly, still, and ready to listen and learn!  What strategy do you use to get your students’ attention?

Teachers Pay Teacher in the UK!

Hi Everyone,

Happy Summer to those of you who have broken up from school already! I still have six weeks to go until the end of the year, so if you’re like me and still not finished, I hope you have a great few last weeks at school before the holidays!

Last week I had an exciting day on Wednesday when I met with Karen and Talya from the Teachers Pay Teachers team and other UK sellers at the first TpT UK meet up! It was great to meet with others who were involved with the site and discuss TpT. Karen and Talya came all the way over from the US to meet with us to discuss ways to make TpT work even better for those of us over here in the UK. I love that TpT is always looking for ways to improve and seeking out opinions of its users, even it means travelling all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to do so!

Karen and Talya met with sellers in Liverpool and also in London during the week. I travelled to the Liverpool meet. We met at the Hard Day’s Night Hotel, which is a Beatles themed hotel in the centre of Liverpool. A great location for getting a feel for the culture of the city. We had a great evening of eating, talking and sharing thoughts and ideas. I am really excited about the potential that TpT has in the UK and the new developments that TpT are planning for us over here. Thank you Talya and Karen for coming all this way to see us and thanks TpT for thinking about us!
Slide01-1After the meet I was inspired to get started on creating a few UK-specific resources. My first is a set of UK Coin Recognition and Addition Task Cards. Each task card has 4 to 5 UK coins which students must recognise and then add up to find the total amount. The cards are differentiated on three levels with three different sets of 12 cards each. Check them out!

 

Student Personalized Spellings

I want to share a little idea I use to help improve my students’ spelling. I wanted a system which picks up and corrects student errors and prompts them to use (and remember) the correct spelling in the future. I developed this system which is personal to each student.

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In each of my students’ exercise books I stuck a sheet of card which flips outwards. This can be folded back over so the books can be stored away neatly. Whenever a student spells a word incorrectly in their writing, I write the correctly spelt word on the flip out card. If a student asks me to spell a word for them, I write it onto the card. I do not let the students write on the card, only myself or my teaching assistant.  The great thing is that the student is able to write in their book whilst the card is flipped out, so they are able to refer to the words in any future writing. As they skim down their list, they are also reading and re-reading any words they have spelt wrong in the past. This further reinforces the correct spelling.

How to make personalized spelling lists:

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My students’ spelling has really improved since using these personalized spelling lists. They are simple and easy to make and I have had great results using them!

 

Teacher Appreciation Sale!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! To celebrate and say thank you for all the hard work teachers do, Teachers Pay Teachers will be holding a site-wide sale on May 5th and May 6th. My store will have 28% off all items. Get ready to bag yourself a bargain!
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Secret Walker

Today I’d like to share with you a little tip I have picked up from other teachers and used over the years to keep ALL the students in your class quiet when walking in a line. I find it those transitions times such as change over between lesson, walking to another room in the school building, lining up etc when ‘undesired’ behaviors are most likely to occur. So here is a little tip to help students stay focused when walking in a line.
Slide1-1In my class, we have to move to another area of the school several times a day, be it walking to the outside door for recess, walking to the hall for assembly/phys ed/lunch or collecting their belongings at hometime. First I line my students up. You may have a particular order to do this. I use register order for this. Then I tell my students I am going to choose two ‘Secret Walkers’ (I choose one boy and one girl) but I am keeping my choice secret until the end of the activity or lesson. The Secret Walkers have a special mission to walk in absolute silence, to walk and not run, to stay in single file and to not touch anything on display shelves/bulletin boards etc (add whatever your expectations for great line walking is) on their journey along the corridor. I tell them they will receive a reward if they complete the mission successfully. I give house points as our school has house teams, or it could be a raffle ticket, a sticker or whatever your class rewards and incentives are. The great thing is, all students know that it could be them I have picked, so they all try hard to walk perfectly!

I wait until the lesson or activity is over and we have made our return journey back to the classroom. I then announce who the two Secret Walkers are and tell them whether or not they have completed the mission successfully. If they have then I give then a house point but if they talked/ran etc then I tell them that unfortunately they did not complete the mission that time, as I do not want to give a reward and undermine the system if they did not walk as I expected. But you will find that the majority of the time the students are so keen to complete their ‘secret mission’ in case they have been picked that they will all walk in the line following the expectations you have laid out. This little tip has really helped keep all my students quiet and focused when moving to other parts of the school building.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

What Did You Buy?

Hi all,

So, did you manage to clear out your wishlist in the Teachers Pay Teachers sale? I certainly made a dent in mine! I snagged some fab clip art and some display sets for the mountain topic I am currently teaching. Take a look at my purchases!

I’m always on the look out for fabulous clip art and there are so many amazing creations on TpT. I saw these Gold Metallic Glitter Papers by Sonya DeHart and I just had to have them! They are gorgeous!

I also bought this Mega Value Borders Pack from Pink Cat Studio. There are so many different color combinations that there will be something there to suit any project.
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Paula Kim had an AMAZING sale on and I took advantage of her Stacking Borders Value Pack. These will some in sooo useful for so many things! I also bought her Decorative Tape Clip Art. So cute!
 
I love Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs for Math clip art and I bought this fabulous Planes and Graphs Clip Art to add to my collection!
 
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I’ve recently discovered Treetop Displays and I just love their clear, informative posters which have stunning photographs! I’m currently teaching a mountain topic so I purchased a Mountains Information Set  and a Mountains Photo Set – both of which will be on my classroom wall next week!

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What did you buy in the sale?

Guided Reading

I decided to give my Guided Reading Resource Pack a make over. Its cover was looking a little tired so I gave it a fresh new look!
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In the pack you will find student response sheets based on character, setting and plot. They can be used with any fiction book. Also included are word work response sheets. These focus on adjectives, verbs, adverbs as well as dictionary and thesaurus work.
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A selection from the pack. Much more is included!
I love using question cards during guided reading. They are great for discussion prompts and also something for early finishers to answer whilst waiting for everyone to finish reading the text! There are 48 question cards altogether included in the pack. They are based on character, setting, plot and language, I laminated the cards and have used them over and over!
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I love being prepared and organized for guided reading and I have also included covers for each of your guided reading group folders as well as a group recording sheet to record your student responses during the session.
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Happy guided reading!

Halloween

Hi everyone,

So, Halloween is nearly here! Do you have plans for some spooky classroom activities this week? Halloween is a fantastic opportunity for creative writing and there are plenty of activities to help fire your students’ imagination at this spooktacular time of year!

Here are some of my favorites:

Setting Descriptions
Get your students to imagine they are in a haunted house (or other equally spooky location!Encourage them to use their senses to describe the setting. What can they hear? What can they see? What can they smell?

Character Profiles
Halloween is the perfect opportunity for some creepy character description. Students could describe a well known character such as Dracula or Frankenstein or they could make up their own spooky character.

Adventure Stories
Have a go at creating a Halloween-themed adventure story with some spooky characters and eerie settings.
Students could write instructions for their favorite Halloween party game. You could even follow the instruction and have a go at playing the games!

Poetry
I’ve been using my Spooky Halloween Writing Paper for some extra inspiration! Just click on the picture below to go directly to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store to grab them.

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Morning Work

How do your students come into school in the mornings? Do they line up outside and come in together or do you have a window of time where they are able to come in? My class can come in any time between 8.45 and 9.00. This gives me a 15 minute period where my classroom slowly fills up. This makes it impossible to teach any sort of lesson with this staggered entry so it is important that I have something ready that is meaningful and my students can just get on with that requires no instruction from myself as I am taking lunch money and registering the students during this time. So with this in mind, I created my Times Table Daily Practise Sheets.

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I test the students every Friday on their tables. If they get 10 or more out of 12, I move them onto the next table. If not, I keep them on the same table for the following week as they are not yet secure in that multiplication table and need further practice. On a Monday I set out the sheets in the students’ places. As the students walk in they begin straight away by filling in Monday’s column. They do this every day of the week until the test on Friday when I review whether the student is ready to move on to a different table or needs further practice the next week on the same times table. My morning work routines ensures that the students know exactly what is expected of them as they enter the classroom and ensures a calm start to the day. It also provides an opportunity for differentiated multiplication fact review. How do you ensure a smooth start to the day and what do you use for morning work? I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Hi everyone,

Hope the new school year is going well for all of you who have started back already. I’ve just done my first week and I am TIRED!! Sooo glad it’s the weekend! So, next Saturday 13th September is Roald Dahl day and next week I will be teaching a unit based on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I love using novels to teach across a range of different subject areas and this particular book is one of my favorites! I want to talk about how I use this novel in my class. All the ideas below, plus many more are included in my Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Novel Study available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

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Literacy
I also get my students to write newspaper articles based on Charlie finding the final Golden Ticket. This pushes the students to write formally and use the features of a report.

I love using Charlie Bucket’s house and the Inventing Room in the factory for setting description. I read the passages to the children and get them to imagine they are in that setting and then discuss what each of their senses would be experiencing, i.e. the creaking door in Charlie’s house or the potions bubbling over in the factory. I get encourage them to use descriptive language and finally the students write a paragraph based on each sense.

Science
The novel is also great to use as a basis for a unit on plants. you could get your student to write about the life cycle of the cacao plant and study the part of a flower.

You could also discuss nutrient and making sure the students understand the importance of a healthy balanced diet.

Social Science
Students can study a country where the cacao plant grows. Students could produce fact files on the country and learn key facts, main cities, river, and what life is like for the people who live there.

Technology
There is so much scope here to develop students’ skills. I have had my students aim to be the next Willy Wonka by designing their own chocolate product. I got them explore different ingredients which could go in their product, think about packaging and create a persuasive poster advertising their product. We even made the new chocolate product – lots of fun!

What are your plans for Roald Dahl day?