December 20, 2011

Power Reading Workshop Autographed for You!

Have you ever had an idea you wish you had dreamed up a week ago? That's how I felt today! A fellow blogger wanted to order a copy of my Power Reading Workshop book as a gift for someone and have me autograph it before sending to them. The ordering process needed to be a little different because normally books are shipped directly from the publisher. However, we worked out an arrangement and the book is on its way.

Then I began wondering if anyone else might like to order a copy of Power Reading Workshop and have it personally autographed and sent as a gift. Or maybe someone would want their own autographed copy! So I decided to set up a special ordering page to handle those types of orders. All you do is order the book from this page and then send me an email with the information regarding who it should be autographed to and where the book should be sent. The whole process is described on the "autographed copy" book page.

I'm not sure if this will interest anyone, but I wish the inspiration had hit me last week! Since that didn't happen, the best I can offer that if you order a book today (Tuesday), I'll try to get it out in the mail tomorrow via Priority Mail and it might still arrive by Christmas! Even if the book doesn't get there by Christmas, I'm sure that this gift will be much appreciated when it does arrive! Happy holidays to you!


December 6, 2011

A Simple Solution for Fast Finishers


By Angela Watson, Guest Blogger

None of us will ever have a class in which all students work at the same pace. That's okay! The goal is to make sure everyone is engaged in meaningful learning activities. For some kids, that means providing extra projects and assignments while they wait for their peers; for other kids, it means teaching time management and how to get things done on schedule. This is not as difficult as it sounds! Predictable classroom routines, clearly defined procedures, and lots of positive reinforcement will make a huge difference in how smoothly your classroom runs.

An easy way to support kids who finish quickly is to teach your class to always look at a When Finished sign after they complete an assignment. The sign I use is posted on my board and lists several assignments I typically have students complete when they are done with their work early. I use a red magnetized arrow to point to the assignment kids are supposed to complete. If kids need to do more than one thing, I'll use two arrows, one which says "First" and one which says "Then" to specify the order things should be completed in. For example, sometimes I like to have students show me their work before they start their next project, so I'll move the arrow that says "First" so that it points to "Show your work to your teacher" and I'll move the arrow that says "Then" so it points to "Get your book box and read silently." The bottom portion of the sign allows me to write a customized assignment on the board underneath if needed.

The When Finished signs keeps me from having to write out the same tasks over and over, and keeps students from wondering what they should be doing. Students' time is never wasted...and I never have to hear, "I'm done! Now what?"

You can download the When Finished sign for free right here! Or, visit the Routines and Procedures page to learn how to teach other expectations, such as lining up, getting drinks, passing in papers, cooperative learning, and arrival/dismissal routines.


Angela Powell Watson was a classroom teacher for 11 years, and currently works as an educational consultant and instructional coach in New York City. She is the author of two books, including The Cornerstone: Classroom Management That Makes Teaching More Effective, Efficient, and Enjoyable. She provides free teacher resources--including photos, printables, and activities--on her website, www.TheCornerstoneForTeachers.com.

November 17, 2011

Drum Roll for the Winners Please!

Last week I announced a contest you could enter to win one of three autographed copies of Enemy Pie, one of my favorite kids' books. To enter the contest, folks had to answer one simple question: "What is the grossest thing you have ever eaten?"   

I have to give credit to the author, Derek Munson, for coming up with that one! He told me that he often asks this of the students when he does school visits but he's never asked teachers this question. 

I think we both expected folks to write a few words about their grossest foods, and I had no idea what those foods might be! But holy smokes! We never dreamed that over 150 people would respond with the most amazing tales ever! You guys have eaten some seriously gross stuff and you really know how to tell some great stories!

Congratulations to the three winners below! Two were selected from the messages on Facebook and one was selected from the entries here on this blog. I wanted to you read what they wrote in case you didn't catch their stories earlier. Here they are, in no particular order:
  • Melissa Monroe wrote, "Aspic anyone? On trip to Russia I was served a plate with this clear, gelatinous mound perched atop a piece of lettuce. It had an unappetizing brown hue, and floating inside were pieces of egg, fish, and some other unrecognizable things. Not wanting to offend the host I tasted it. To this day, just thinking about its cold, slimy texture and fishy flavor gives me the heebie-jeebies! I'm shuttering right now as I write this. Apologies to those aspic lovers out there."
  • Kim Wasson Compton wrote, "I accepted a dare while I was a teenage waitress at a summer camp. Trying to impress a table of cute boys, I ate their concoction of food they prepared from "all" the leftovers at their table (peanut butter, mashed potatoes, gravy, bread, coffee grounds, sugar, grape juice, veggies, jello...you get the idea!). Needless to say, I wasn't feeling well for the rest of that day!"
  • Mrs Hopper wrote, "I love this book. I work at a school that is in an impoverished area of California. Fighting is prevalent at our school and students at a very young age are accustomed to seeing fights in their daily life outside of school. I love the underlying message behind this book. We have a lot more in common than we realize. My students always enjoy this book and I always pray they take the lesson away and keep it for a lifetime. I would love to win a copy. The worst thing I ever ate was a fly. It flew into my open mouth during PE while I was doing jumping jacks. I swallowed it before I quite knew what was going on. Actually, in reality all I know for certain was that it was a flying bug. I always assumed it was a fly. I learned to exercise with my mouth closed and breathe through my nose."
Mrs. Hopper, Melissa, and Kim, please contact Derek to let him know where to send your copy of Enemy Pie. You can find his contact information here on his Enemy Pie website.  

Thanks to everyone who shared a story, and thanks to Derek for generously offering to give away three autographed books!







November 10, 2011

No Names on Papers? Problem Solved!

Are you frustrated with students who forget to turn in papers or who forget to put their names on their work? I used to get so annoyed when I took a stack of papers home to grade, only to discover that three students had not turned in their work and three more turned in a paper with no name!

But then I got smart and got organized! I devised a system where students turned in their papers by placing them into "paper drops," laminated brown envelopes with student checklists attached. At the end of the class period, I quickly pulled out the papers and checked off who had turned theirs in so I could solve the mystery of the missing papers before they went home for the day. Then the papers went right back into the envelope so I could keep them together for grading later.

The entire Paper Drop System system is described in this packet and includes the printables you need to make it work for you. You can also download a customizable checklist from the Classroom Management page on Teaching Resources. Paper problem solved!






Visit Teaching Resources ~ http://www.lauracandler.com

November 9, 2011

Free Fall Math Word Problem Puzzlers

If you haven't implemented a math word problem solving program this year, I have just the thing for you!  Download these two Fall Math Puzzler printables to try out an easy and effective program that helped my students soar to success in math. With this method, your students solve just one problem a day, Monday through Thursday, with Friday being reserved for in-depth problem-solving lessons or additional practice with challenging puzzlers. It takes just 10 or 15 minutes a day, and you will be amazed at the results!

The Fall Math Puzzlers freebie includes two versions of the same activity page. To decide which version is right for your class, click here to download both pages and print them out. Then try solving the problems as if you were one of your students. Adults would solve these problems using equations or number sentences because we easily grasp what to do. But your students would be more likely to solve them by drawing pictures or illustrating them in some way.Thinking about how they might solve each problem will help you choose the right level for your class.

If you want to differentiate instruction, you can use both activity pages in your class, assigning the first page to some students and the second page to those who need a challenge. However, don't give both pages to the same student because they have similar wording with different numbers.

The Daily Math Puzzler Program
There are four levels in the complete Daily Math Puzzlers program, and each ebook includes enough printables and lessons for a year's worth of instruction. The easiest Level is A which is about right for 2nd or 3rd grade, depending on your students. The most challenging level is D which may be appropriate for 5th or 6th grade.

To see examples of all of the levels and test them with your class, download my free Problem Solving Assessment pack. Administer the pretests to your class as described in the directions. Answer keys are included. If you decide to implement the full program, you can use the post tests to assess student progress at the end of the year.

For more problem-solving strategies and additional Daily Math Puzzler activity pages, visit my Math Problem Solving page on Teaching Resources. Problem solving can be fun when students solve just one problem a day!




October 29, 2011

Hands-on Water Cycle Fun!


Hands-on Water Cycle Fun! Create a mini water cycle using a rotisserie chicken container and demonstrate cloud formation in a jar.
Now that I'm retired, I often miss working with children; children are my inspiration and the classroom is my laboratory! Recently I accepted a position at a local school to work with kids during their year round intersession program, and I had the pleasure of teaching science to 5th graders for 3 days. I had a wonderful time teaching them about the water cycle and weather, especially since I was able to incorporate a hands-on activity and an exciting demonstration into our lessons.

One activity was adapted from a terrific idea shared with me by Pat Calfee, a former elementary teacher who is now an educational consultant. When Pat was teaching 2nd grade, she used plastic rotisserie chicken containers to have her students create mini water cycles.

Because 5th graders need to know the full water cycle including transpiration and run-off,  we modified our mini water cycles slightly. Each team set up their own mini water cycle by adding a rock to represent a mountain, grass for the vegetation, and a small pond made from aluminum foil and filled with water.

On a sunny day, the best way to power up the mini water cycle is to close the container and put it in the sun for several hours. As the water warms up, it evaporates and then condenses on the inside of the plastic lid. The water then "rains" on the environment inside the container and runs off to form little ponds. Unfortunately, the weather called for rain on the day we were doing this (Murphy's law!). So I brought a large lamp from home that gave off a lot of heat, and we put the containers under the lamp. Soon we were observing evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, and run-off!
Hands-on Water Cycle Fun! Create a mini water cycle using a rotisserie chicken container and demonstrate cloud formation in a jar.

Hands-on Water Cycle Fun! Create a mini water cycle using a rotisserie chicken container and demonstrate cloud formation in a jar.
Those containers were a super way to give students hands-on experience creating a water cycle. It was wonderful to be able to have something concrete to observe when discussing these concepts.

Another way to observe a water cycle in action is to create a Cloud in a Jar. This is a teacher demo since it involves boiling water and a lit match, but it's a fun way for students to observe how clouds form. You can find the directions for this activity in my Science File Cabinet on Teaching Resources. The directions include a set of follow-up questions to help students grasp the essential concepts.

A great way to help kids identify examples of condensation, evaporation, and precipitation in everyday life is with my Parts of the Water Cycle Task Cards shown below. I've even added images of all 32 task cards that you can upload to Plickers and use for assessment questions!

What are your favorite activities to teach the water cycle? Please share!

October 26, 2011

Daily Report Homework Solution

Do you have a few students who can't seem to complete assignments and turn them in on time? Yet when you talk to their parents, you hear the story, "But he said he finished all his homework!" Sadly, these students may feel they are telling the truth because they forgot they even HAD homework. The problem with this scenario is that the problem can't be solved without the parents and teacher working together closely for a few weeks to find out where the system is breaking down. Parents can't make sure kids are doing homework if they don't know about assignments until the end of each week or, worse, when mid-term reports come out.

I created this Daily Report to help me stay in touch with parents and to make sure that problems are caught right away. Each day the student writes his or her homework down in a notebook or planner and brings it to show me along with this Daily Report form. I complete the boxes by writing an S, N, or U to show how the student's day has gone, and the student takes it home his or her parents to sign. If parents will set up simple incentives, like allowing the child to stay up late on Friday for a certain number of Satisfactory ratings, this report works very well to stop problems in their tracks.

You can download this Daily Report by clicking on the image above or by going to my Odds N Ends page on Teaching Resources. It's not something you want to use all year, but it is quite effective for getting students back on track. I hope you find it to be useful!


October 25, 2011

Welcome to Corkboard Connections!

Several months ago I decided to create a new blog directly on my Teaching Resources website. I came up with a name, Corkboard Connections, because I want my blog to be a place to connect with other educators, and the "corkboard" theme was a reference to the corkboard background on my website. To make a long story short, I hired a web designer who is working on building a blog into my site with Drupal. We did a little work on it and played with some design ideas, and then the project stalled.

I hope to have my Corkboard Connections Blog working on my site before too long, but in the meantime I've created a blog with the same name on Blogger. This one will serve as a temporary blog until I get the one on my website working. I'm excited to finally launch my new blog!