Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Few of My Favorites... Wordless Books!

Hi, Teaching Friends!

I'm linking up today with Teaching Trio for their monthly Favorite Things Linky Party.

Do you use wordless books in your classroom? I think they're a super tool for both reading and writing. Here are three of my favorites!

For pre-readers and early readers, wordless books show children that the pictures carry some or all of the message of a book.

Look through books together and talk about each page, a lot like doing a picture walk with early readers. Talk about vocabulary, making predictions, the setting, the characters... you're building the habits your students will need as they become early readers. In their first books with words, the text and pictures will contribute equally to the meaning, so wordless books will help your students learn to attend to details in the illustrations.

Pair children for buddy reading wordless books. This affirms our message to them that "reading the pictures" is truly a kind of reading! You might want to set a format to equalize participation, like "buddies read every other page", or "Buddy One asks a question about the page. Buddy Two answers the question as part of his reading of the page".

Find discarded copies of wordless books and cut them apart! They're great for sequencing the story. For books with a main character or two, cut out pictures, attach to a popsicle stick or cut finger holes, and you have puppets for retelling. Library book sales, garage sales, and thrift shops are all great sources for super-cheap books!

Wordless books are great for labeling! Put some early words on sticky notes and let your students have at it! After a student labels a page, snap a picture and use it for a class book of words, or put them into a mini-album for a reference in your writing center. Here's an example from Istvan Banyai's Zoom.  I love, love, love this book!!

                                                Just in case you want to "zoom" in for a closer look!

Check my post tomorrow at Teaching Blog Roundup for some ideas for using wordless books with more advanced readers!

Click on the button to head over to Teaching Trio today to see what others' faves are, class projects, fashions, school tools, and more!

Teaching Trio

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Gold Coins Math Freebie for St. Patrick's Day

Hi, Teaching Friends!

March?!? Wow!!

Time for crocuses, and shamrocks, and SPRING!!

To set the scene for shamrocks and such, here's a math freebie for you! I know a lot of you have been enjoying my math elimination puzzles, so here's a set of 12 more. This time, your students will use clues about operations and place value to determine which of four numbers is on the leprechaun's gold coin. There's a student recording sheet, too, so these are great for centers, or even a Read the Room for math activity.

Click here or on the pictures to download it at my TpT store.

If you and your students enjoy using the gold coin riddles, I hope you'll take a peek at my bundle of two-digit elimination puzzles for spring. Four riddle sets, plus a bonus set of  "Ladybug's Home" riddles available only in the bundle. See more here.

Are you one of those lucky teachers headed to the South Carolina SDE kindergarten conference this week? How fun! Stop by the TpT Teacher-Authors table in the display area to pick up your coupon book and bag of free treats for your classroom! The teacher-authors represented there will also be putting their stores on sale Monday and Tuesday. Stop by my store to save 10% . It's a fun way to get more-for-your-money by using those credits you earned from rating your purchases at the Teachers Are Heroes Sale. ;)

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Book Study Bliss: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites

Hi, Teaching Friends!

Have you noticed lately how many teacher bloggers are admitting to being nerdy? Even the ones who you know really aren't? ;)

Here's my nerdy confession: I am somewhat of a geek for professional books. I love to read them, and I tend to keep them forever. I've always wanted to be part of a book study but couldn't get anyone else interested. The one time we had a book study at school, it fizzled like a wet firecracker after the first few chapters.

So I am Very Excited  to be embarking on a study led by a terrific group of bloggers who also like to talk books and teaching. I even love the title of this one, Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites.


Boo to the trend toward worksheets that seems to be rearing its head again. {it's that old swinging pendulum thing...}  I know that active teaching is physically demanding and handing out worksheets isn't.  I know that probably every teacher has had moments of wishing her classroom was at least a little bit quieter at times. { True confession: I may have occasionally let Writing Workshop or silent reading time run beyond the scheduled time because they tend to be the quieter times of the day! Wild and crazy, huh? } 

And I also know that some districts/administrators require some sort of written accountability piece from each student for everything you teach. Seriously, people, in K/1??? Does your school require this?

All that being said, we all know that both the research and our own classroom experience show that the best, long-lasting learning is active, not passive. That's why I'm kind of uneasy about the appearance of  all these no-prep resources. Some of them are games, or surveys, or "semi-active" learning that at least includes interaction and conversation. But in my opinion far too many of those new resources are just plain old worksheets fancied up with cute clipart, but worksheets nonetheless. I don't think that's the best use of our students' learning time.  A little bit of paper and pencil here and there is one thing, but too much of it takes the fun and excitement out of learning.

That's the underlying premise of this book. But the great thing is that the author, Marcia Tate, goes beyond the research to the reality, with very specific suggestions for including active learning throughout your day, regardless of what you teach.

Chapter One focuses on the importance of conversation. That's where I found my *aha!* connection: Think-Pair-Share! It's one of my favorite strategies to keep children actively listening and processing information. When my students come to the rug, they sit with a "Rug Buddy", a partner that changes every week or two. Students expect there to be times when they will "turn and talk" to their buddy, in response to whatever I'm reading ( "How does this character feel? How do you know?", "What do you predict will happen next?", etc.) or teaching ("Explain to your partner how you would add these three numbers", etc.).  This expectation keeps them listening, and the pause to review consolidates their learning. 

The twist to my use of the Think-Pair-Share strategy was the last step. Sometimes, I'd ask a student to share what his or her partner had said in their conversation. Voila! It's an easy way to provide multiple opportunities to talk, listen, interpret, process... and understand and remember! And most of the time that learning is going on, the teacher's mouth is closed and the kids are doing the talking.

I love that so many bloggers will be sharing their reactions to this book!  The linky today is being hosted by Elizabeth at Kickin' It in Kindergarten.  Visit to find new ideas for keeping the dendrites growing in your classroom!

Grab button for Kickin It In Kindergarten

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Procrastinators' Day Sale, 2/27

Hi, Teaching Friends!

Just a reminder that, as I usually do, I'm extending my 20% off sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers store through Friday the 27th. I've got a soft spot for procrastinators. I'll let you draw whatever conclusions you'd like about that.  ;)

I hope you collected some amazing things for your classroom at the Teacher Pay Teachers sale! I bought some great items for creating new resources. I found some fabulous textured background papers at Paula Kim Studios. I've been wanting to add some components for interactive notebooks to some of my resources, and over at The Candy Class, her best-selling set of templates is exactly what I need to start doing that!

What was your favorite find? I'd love to hear about it!

Happy Teaching!

Monday, February 23, 2015

"What's on Your Wish List?" Linky Party

Hi, Teaching Friends!

Are you a snoopy shopper? I know am! I can't tell you how often I've come across something new and delicious after I spotted it in another shopper's cart at the grocery store. Sometimes a peek into somebody else's carriage reminds me of something on my list that I'd forgotten to pick up in an earlier aisle, or sends me back for a needed recipe ingredient that I'd forgotten to put on my list. 

Well, that's the basis for this linky party! Let's help each other out by sharing the great finds other shoppers have already discovered and put on their own wish lists! It's an opportunity for you to find not just new treasures but also new shops that you might never have the time or good fortune to discover on your own!!

Flowers by Dandy Doodles at TpT!

My own #1 wish listed item is also my best-seller, 100 Riddles for the Hundred Chart for Grades 1 and 2.  I'm so grateful to be able to say that I've sold one or more of these very nearly every day since it was featured in the weekly TpT Newsletter just about two years ago.

The set includes one hundred riddle cards like these. Each riddle is multi-step, and addresses a variety of skills, making them great for spiraled review. Teachers have also shared that they use them as sponge activities, for calendar practice, for small group lessons, in a math center, whole group with a document camera, and as an activity for a substitute teacher. It's quite a versatile set!

100 Riddles for the Hundred Chart also includes a hundred chart activity, solve-and-color page, and answer key.

Now it's your turn! Teacher/authors, here are the rules and requests: Please link directly to your one top wish listed item, not a general link your store. If you'd like, include the number of times it's been listed. One item per person, please. Sharing of this linky is kindly requested via blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, highway billboards, blimps, walking sandwich signs, etc.  Feel free to use the image above. :)

Happy Teaching!

Celebrating Teacher Heroes with a Super Sale!

Hi, Teaching Friends!

In the current climate where teaching sometimes seems to top the list of disparaged professions, take a moment to think about the things that make you a hero in the eyes of your students every single day.

You are a hero to the child who had no breakfast when you slip him a granola bar.

You are a hero to the child who gets no academic support at home when you don't dwell on the undone homework but instead give him a few extra minutes of help during your lunch period.

You are a hero to a child when you give her the first smile she's gotten all day.

You are a hero all day, every day. It's a heavy responsibility, but if anyone can handle it, we all know that it's a teacher!

So, as you may have heard by now, Teachers Pay Teachers is celebrating You, the Heroes, with a sitewide sale!

As I've done previously, I've created a little Followers' Newsletter to guide you to some of my new resources and old favorites, too. I hope you'll stop by my store to download it!  In it, you'll also find links to more than a dozen freebies! Do you like my optimism in titling it "Spring Newsletter"?  ;)

If you're a follower at my TpT store ... THANK YOU!! Your support is such an encouragement to me! Please remember to check your TpT Inbox for info on how to get your Followers Exclusive Freebie!

Happy Teaching!

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