Sunday, February 7, 2016

February Fun - Lessons You'll Love!

February is packed with fun holidays, making it a great time to integrate seasonal activities into your lesson plans. Check out these free lessons and activities for elementary students, including International Friendship Month, Valentine's Day, Presidents Day, Black History Month, and the Chinese New Year! #LauraCandler
February is packed with fun holidays, making it a great time to integrate seasonal activities into your lessons. This year we celebrate the Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day, and Presidents' Day, to name just a few. I'm sure you're aware that it's Black History Month, but I'll bet you didn't know that it's International Friendship Month, too!

I know that every minute counts during the school day, so seasonal activities MUST meet the same standards we apply to all of our lessons. In short, these lessons must actively engage kids and provide opportunities for real learning. It can be challenging for upper elementary teachers to find meaningful holiday-themed lessons, so I'm excited to share my newly updated February Activities pack with you!

You'll love the fact that this 27-page resource is free, but I honestly think you'd love it just as much if you had to pay for it! February Activities is just one of the monthly lesson packs in my Seasonal Activities Bundle; if you like it, please check out the others, too!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

New Facebook Group for Literature Circle Lovers!

As a follow-up to my last post, I have some exciting news about my Classroom Book Clubs program! I LOVE this approach to Literature Circles because it's easy, fun, and very effective. It's different from traditional forms of Literature Circles because it doesn't involve assigning roles and it doesn't burden kids with piles of written assignments. You can learn more on my Classroom Book Clubs page by watching the introductory video.

What the Classroom Book Clubs strategy DOES do is to get kids talking about books and excited about reading!

I also love Facebook groups, so I've just started a Classroom Book Clubs Facebook group for teachers who want to share ideas and strategies for this approach to Literature Circles.

This group is going to be a great place to discuss appropriate books, share ideas for classroom management, and share how teachers are adapting the program to fit their individual needs. You'll be able to ask questions about Classroom Book Clubs and get support from other group members.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Classroom Book Clubs: Literature Circles Made Easy

Learn about Classroom Book Clubs, an easy and effective method of implementing Literature Circles!
Have you thought about trying Literature Circles but didn't know how to get started? Or maybe you implemented Literature Circles but gave up in frustration after becoming overwhelmed with the whole thing. If you can relate, stick with me to learn about a method that's easy for you, fun for your students, and very effective.

If you're not familiar with Literature Circles, the basic concept is that groups of students read the same book and meet regularly to discuss their thoughts and feelings about it. Kids love being able to choose books that interest them and having time to talk about the books with their peers, but some literature circles methods are overly complicated and end up burdening students with piles of written assignments. This is especially true of the models in which students assume roles like Discussion Director, Story Mapper, or Summarizer.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The True Cost of Free Teaching Resources

If you love free teaching resources, read this post to find out some facts that might surprise you!
Every so often someone posts a comment like this on my Teaching Resources Facebook page:

"I miss the days when teachers shared their resources for free in the spirit of collaboration. Now it seems like bloggers are just trying to make a buck off their fellow teachers. If they truly cared about helping other teachers and students, they would offer everything for free."

If you agree, I understand why you might feel that way. Really, I do. I used to feel that way, too, before I discovered the true cost of providing free resources.

Lately I've been seeing more comments like this than usual, probably because I’ve been enthusiastically promoting Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club. I’m not sure why anyone would feel that a life-changing course with tools to help you shave hours off your workweek would be free, but apparently some do.

Yes, I could ignore those comments, but for every teacher who is bold enough to post something like that on my page, there are probably a hundred others who are thinking the same thing. It hurts to know that teachers feel this way, even though I recognize that they don't understand what goes on behind the scenes. I guess that’s why I’ve finally decided to open up about the costs associated with creating and sharing teacher resources.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Plickers 101 - Easy Digital Exit Tickets and More!

Do you use Plickers? It's an amazing (and free) online assessment tool, but up until now, you've had to type in the questions and answers manually. Read the tips in this post and download a free step-by-step tutorial that explains how to make Plickers easy by using task cards for assessment questions. Your kids will LOVE Plickers!
What do you get when you cross response clickers with QR codes?

Wait for it…. Plickers! 

Plickers is a free, totally innovative, web-based tool that combines the best of response clickers and QR codes. The program makes it easy for a teacher to get student feedback almost instantly, and the only technology needed is a single classroom computer and a single mobile device. Kids love it, too!

How Plickers Works
Plickers works somewhat like traditional handheld clicker systems. Students respond to multiple choice questions by clicking the letter of the correct answer, and the resulting data is immediately displayed for the teacher. But here's where Plickers is different. Plickers eliminates the need for expensive clickers by using paper clickers, or “Plickers,” that work like QR codes. Each student is assigned a Plickers card with a unique pattern, and he or she uses the same personal response card all year to answer questions posed by the teacher. After a question is presented, the students respond by holding up their cards, and the teacher scans the cards with a mobile device. The results appear instantly for the teacher to view.