How To Begin The Year Positive

Every teacher enters the classroom on the first day of school with high hopes and expectations.  I sure do!  Well, this year, instead of hoping the year stays positive, I decided take direct  steps to keep my students on the positive path and off the side  paths of negativity.  So what am I doing?  I’m so glad you asked!!!

*THE WRINKLED HEART activity :  A few years ago I saw this on  Pinterest and  “grabbed” this activity with both hands!!!  I wish I could find the person who first posted this idea because I’d hug them!!  This activity is a winner!

Give each student a sheet of red construction paper.  Have your students fold their paper and then cut out a heart.  Size doesn’t matter.  After their heart is cut out, ask your students to wad up their heart and WHISPER insults to the heart….just a short time!  Don’t want the students to get carried away.  After a minute or two of whispers, I ask the students to smooth out their heart and tell it , “I was just playing” or “I was just kidding”.   Have them continue to smooth out their heart.  Then ask the students if the marks on the heart disappeared after telling the heart they were “just kidding” or “just playing”.    Of course the marks are still there.  I remind the students that their hearts are just like the hearts they insulted.  While the words may be gone, the heart still shows the scars…just like our hearts can be scarred by careless or negative words.    It really got to my students…as I had hoped.  Words have power to scar and we resolved to make sure our words didn’t leave scars on anyone’s heart this year.

 

Let me know how you build community in your own classroom.

Thanks!

Advertisements

Growing Thinkers One Inspiring Quote At A Time

i’m just a level 2

With all the testing pressure we teachers have all felt, our students, themselves, feel that pressure even more, and too often their self-worth becomes tied to their test results…”I’m a Level 2″; “I’m not a Level 5”; and so on.  It REALLY bothered me when I heard my students talk like that!  I couldn’t seem to change their minds, so I started looking for a way to share with  my students inspiring words from other people and then have my students apply those encouraging words to their own life.

inspiration

I decided to create a collection of inspiring quotes from many different people.  I also decided my students needed to know a little about the person, especially if the person was not familiar to students.  So each person’s page has their quote and a short bio about the person.  I also decided that my students needed to do more than just look at the quote and read the biography.  Here’s one of my students responding to Henry Ford’s quote!

 

This became our Wednesday morning meeting!  Here’s what I did…first I had my students copy the quote into their writing journals.  Then my students read the biography.  Each page also had questions for my students to record their answers to go along with the person’s quote.  I didn’t leave it right there.  Once, everyone had finished writing their answers, the class then discussed both the quote and their answers to the questions on the page.

It really amazed me how so many of my students took the quotes to heart…it was what I had hoped for!  It’s Growth Mindset .  Check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

How I Improved My Grammar Lessons By Not Teaching!

when students talk, i listen

A few weeks ago, in the midst of coming in from recess, I was given the word by several students that my English lessons were boring  less engaging than some of my other subject lessons.  Now I could have gotten angry, or bent out of shape, or any other teacher emotion that comes to mind when told a lesson was not all that it could be.  Truth be told, my lessons had gotten stale…that after holidays, after January, waiting for Presidents’ Day time of year.  I won’t lie, grammar often got the short end of the stick in the day as I tried to fit everything in, as I am a self-contained fifth grade teacher!

Students step up!

While I’ve been teaching for more than 20 years, I’m pretty open to new ideas to improve the learning in my classroom.  Trust me, I’ve known a few  “done it this way for years so why change?.” teachers.  That’s not me, so I tuned in with all ears as I entered the conversation.  “How could I fix the lessons?, ” was what I asked.  Imagine my surprise when one of my best students asked if she could teach the next lesson!  We were both surprised when the words, “Sure, let’s do this!,” came out of my mouth.  Next thing I knew, several more students volunteered to teach lessons.

How do I do this, Teacher?

I sat down with my first volunteer and together we chose the lesson…Object Pronouns!  We chose a date…three days in the future and I gave her my teacher edition.  “I’ve got this, Mrs. Mescall” was what I heard until the day of the lesson.

D-Day or should I say T-Day (teach)!  My student did an amazing job…she taught us with a fun game using large dice.  The students rolled the two dice of different colors.  Each number on one of the dice corresponded to a specific object pronoun.  The second dice numbers corresponded to a specific subject pronoun.  Students then took those two pronouns and created a sentence with both pronouns used correctly.  The students loved the game and my teacher student then walked around checking sentences and having the class read their sentences!    SCORE!!  It was a good lesson and I will totally be stealing her game for another time!!!

Lining Up!

Our second student-led  lesson was about possessive pronouns.  I again shared my teacher edition and  that Brainpop had a good videos and activities.  My second student-led class was also a success! My second student’s lesson was more digital and the class really enjoyed it.   We did so well as a class that we were rewarded with “thin mints” as we were “smart cookies”!

Have I totally given up teaching grammar and English…not really.  I do still teach them both, but I have continued to offer the opportunity to teach the class.  Several more students are eager to teach and I will certainly be letting them try out their teaching skills!

Thanks,

 

 

I do have some games and activities you might want to try to add some fun and spice to your English lessons!  Check out the links below!

A fun game with verb tenses!

Here are activities to help master there, their, and they’re!

Here are 3 levels of antonyms to meet the needs of all!

Do You Really Know George & Abraham?

Fact or Fib?

George Washington never told a lie.  Abraham Lincoln walked ten miles to return a nickel.  Theses are some of the “facts” I was taught about these two most beloved and celebrated presidents.  What’s the truth?
                                                      

I went on a hunt for facts about both of these presidents, each of whom have wonderful, but not necessarily true stories about their lives.

sharing is caring!

As I accumulated the facts about George and Abraham, I began to think about how to share these facts with my students.  It was an easy decision to make a game of it all.  Part of why I create products is to make learning fun for my students while also making life easier for my teacher friends. Here was a perfect opportunity to share what I had learned with both my students AND friends!

Celebrate With George and Abraham

I created a “FACT” or “FIB” sort to have students read statements about each of the presidents,  and after discussion, decide whether it’s a fact or a fib.  I have included the answers for teachers.  I also thought it would be fun for students to then take their newly acquired facts and create an acrostic about either president or both!  I’ve included a short assessment or pre/post worksheet and also a Venn diagram to compare the two presidents.

 

Celebrate Presidents’ Day with George and Abraham!

 

What are some and engaging ways you celebrate Presidents’ Day?  Let me know!

Thanks!

 

 

How I Make Fractions and Valentines Fun !

the most dreaded fifth grade math skill…fractions!!!

After 23 years in teaching and 15 years of teaching fifth graders, both departmental and self-contained, the most dreaded standard faced by teachers and fifth graders alike is the dreaded FRACTIONS unit!

Fractions seem to be the “boogie man” of math and so I was looking for a way to combine the practicing of fraction skills  and the upcoming Valentine’s Day with a fun activity.  While we do have a small party and exchanging of Valentine’s cards, there is still an expectation of staying the course with lessons!

awkward age…Fifth Grade

Fifth graders are looking forward to middle school at this time of year…more freedom, less teacher monitoring.  At the same time, they still enjoy Valentine’s parties and the exchanging of cards.  I wanted to make an activity that my kids didn’t see as “baby-ish” and would also challenge their math skills…always an area that needs practice!

the best of both Fractions and Valentine’s day!

The result was “Fraction Operations Valentines Mystery!”  My students love to break codes and solve puzzles, so  combining that with fractions, which we are studying and reviewing, seemed a natural.

Cupid has had his bow stolen by one of his holiday symbol friends and in order to identify the thief, students have to solve 4 different coded messages by solving fractions problems using all four operations.  

I have also included a “How To Use” for teachers!  Let me help you with your lesson planning!

Last, but certainly not least, each fraction worksheet has an answer sheet to help teachers help their students solve the mystery!

You can find this newest of my store products in my store by simply clicking on any of the pictures in my blog!

What do you think?  How do you make fractions fun for your students?  Let me know…I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks,

Sue

A Teacher Gift Your Students Will Treasure All Year!

In years past, I have struggled with what to give my students for gifts.  I usually defaulted to candy and pencils.  Such gifts didn’t break the bank of a first year teacher, but it wasn’t really what my students wanted. However, they took the bags with a smile. Flash forward to my first year at a new school and my usual teacher gift of candy and pencils just weren’t going to do the trick as many of my students weren’t all that crazy about sweets or needed extra pencils. What to do, what to do? Continue reading

Restoring Hope For Flooded Louisiana Teachers

On August 11th, 2016, a stationary weather system resulted in torrential downpours with upwards of two feet of rain that devastated several parishes across South Louisiana. The extreme amount of rainwater, close to 7.1 trillion gallons of water, caused rivers, lake, and other bodies of water to reach and exceed flood stages in the following days. In the blink of an eye, the water began rising and encroaching upon not just areas that typically flood, but the flooding waters found their way to places that had never even had the threat of flooding before. The widespread devastation of the rising water quickly destroyed countless homes, businesses, and schools.
Continue reading