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Teacher Care Package Giveaway

Two, four, six, eight ...
Who do we appreciate?


Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!!!


Thank-you for the countless hours you put in before and after school, as well as on weekends and holidays.

Thank-you for creating and implementing engaging lessons that get students excited about learning.

Thank-you for continuing to be a life-long learner and inspiring your students.

Thank-you for decorating and filling your classroom with supplies so it is always a welcoming place for your students.

Thank-you for building a positive classroom environment where everyone belongs.

Thank-you for loving, challenging, cheering, encouraging, nurturing, growing, inspiring every mind that walks through your classroom door.

Thank-you for teaching.

I have gotten together with some of my best teacher blogging friends so we can tell you how much we appreciate YOU - our blog readers and TpT supporters.

We are each putting together a care package, filled with little goodies to put a smile on your face and get you through until the end of the year.  We had SO MUCH fun filling our care packages!!!  (Now I just have to keep it away from my kids).  ;)

By entering my giveaway below, you have a chance to win this care package I put together.  This is what's included:

*  The gift certificate code and digital resources will be sent digitally after contact with the winner.  The remaining contents of the care package will be shipped to you. *

Winning the gift certificate will be perfect timing because TeachersPayTeachers' HUGE Teacher Appreciation Sale runs Tuesday, May 5th - Wednesday, May 6th.  ALL of my resources will be on sale for 20% off and you can receive an additional 10% off at the checkout when you use the promo code THANKYOU.  Click HERE to see some of my newest resources.

Entering the contest is easy, simply use the Rafflecopter just below.  This giveaway will end at midnight Tuesday, May 5th.  Winners will be contacted Wednesday, May 6th.  This contest is only open to teachers who live in the United States or Canada.  When you are finished entering, be sure to visit all the blogs listed just below to soak up a little appreciation from them as well.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The winner has been notified through email.  Winners have 48 hours to respond through email.  
If the winner does not respond within this time, a new winner will be chosen.

Enter to win Teacher Care Packages at all the blogs listed below:

Be Truly Present and Look for the Light Bulb Moments

While reading through my chapter of Angela Watson's Unshakeable:  20 Ways to Enjoy Teaching ... No Matter What, I thought about how I chose this particular chapter for the book study because the title spoke to me - I always want to be present so I don't miss those light bulb moments in my students.  But it didn't take more than a paragraph for me to realize the chapter is so much more than that - being truly present allows you to celebrate those moments with your students and realize them in yourself.

I recognized myself right there in the first paragraph of chapter 18.  Right away.  That busy, stressed, multi-tasking teacher barraged by interruptions and getting annoyed.  Yep, me.  Me as a teacher and me as a parent.  Those times when I slow down and let the "interruptions" take over and become teachable moments are so important - and I even recognize them when they happen.  The problem is, I don't let them happen nearly enough.

While reading this chapter I was reminded about the one little (BIG) area I still need to work on after 15 years teaching - control.  Or rather, letting go of the control.  I know I could feel so much better about every day if I just shook a little more of it off.  When I'm not concerned about deadlines, data collections, standardized testing, that's when I'm more present with my students.  And when I'm more present, the magic happens.  Angela writes, "The end goal for a day of teaching can't be to "cover" a certain amount of curriculum; to cover means to obscure, and our goal is to illuminate.  We must stay focused on illuminating the curriculum for students, and that can only be done by making a connection with them."  And that's it - that's exactly it.  I already know it ... but how do I get there?

And then this - Do you smile when you're teaching?  Smile?  Yes.  All.the.time.  I greet them with a smile first thing in the morning and send them off with a smile at the end of the day.  And I teach with a smile ... because I love what I do.  I love being "present".  So then, if I'm smiling, and I'm enjoying the moment present with my students, why is it so easy to flip over to the busy, hectic teacher on a schedule.  Angela's advice is to consciously practice being present.  Remind yourself of it.  "Practice being present in the moment, and create productive habits that make hectic and mundane moments feel worth savoring."  You can do this by:

  • celebrating small moments of accomplishment
  • look for the light bulb moments and focus on a child you can really help
  • reframe your work to recognize and appreciate the magnitude of what you do
Being truly present allows you to see what YOU are doing - what YOU have accomplished.  Really, truly, see it.  So, smile, be present, and remember that you enjoy teaching every day ... no matter what.

You can read a little bit more about Unshakesable and the messages behind the chapters in the book at Angela Watson's blog:  The Cornerstone.  It was EXACTLY what I needed to read at this time in the year.

Using Task Cards for Test Prep

Testing season is definitely upon us.  And in many classrooms, preparation for testing means ramping up the review.  I try to prepare my students for testing by throwing in questions similar to ones they'll see on the testing throughout the year in assignments and tests.  In math I like to use a lot of task cards for some fun review.  The students love using task cards because it gets them working with other students, gets them moving, and keeps them engaged through the whole class.

These are some of my favorite ways to review with task cards:
  • My Favorite No - This is probably my all-time favorite.  I started using "My Favorite No" last year and my only regret is not starting it sooner.  You can read more about it in a blog post I have HERE.  Task cards are PERFECT for this activity.  You can display one task card under the projector and have students complete their answer on a cue card, or hand out individual task cards to students to solve on the back of the card.  Solutions can be quickly collected and sorted to choose your favorite no and go through the solution together.  Takes 5 - 10 minutes at the beginning or end of each class - the perfect review activity.
  • Exit or Entrance Slips - Use one card at the beginning of class (as a diagnostic assessment) or at the end of class (as a formative assessment) for material learned during the class.  Pass out one task card to each student and have them solve on the back of the card or another sheet.  I like students to use Comprehension Light Traffic Dots on their cards so I can quickly see how they "feel" about the work.  Takes 5(ish) minutes at the beginning or end of class.
  • Partner Up - This is my version of speed dating with task cards.  Students sit in 2 long lines facing each other so that everyone has a partner.  Put a task card between each pair.  After a certain amount of time, (depending on the complexity of the cards) I call out "partner up" and one line shifts one person to the left and one line shifts one partner to the right so everyone has a new partner and new task card to solve together.  Continue until all task cards are solved.  Usually takes a full class.
  • Task Card Stations - Place task cards all over the room in different locations.  Students can work through the room solving task cards at their own speed and on their own path.  No more than 2 students working together at any task card (or you can have them work individually).  I usually sit at one station (one where the question may be challenging) so all students will have to work with me as they work their way through completing the cards.  Usually takes a full class.
  • Collaborative Problem-Solving - Task Cards can be used as the questions for Collaborative Problem Solving activities, in which students work together in small groups to first solve the problem individually, then work together to build the best answer they can as a group.  
  • Agenda Questions - My students have an agenda in which they write down their homework / important information and goes home with them nightly for parents to look through and sign.  Individual task cards can be stapled or paperclipped to agenda pages once or twice a week for students to work on at home and allow their parents to work through with their child, or simply to give them an idea of the types of questions the students are solving.
  • Change the Scenery - Perhaps one of the best things about task cards is how portable they are.  Get out of the classroom with them!  Spread out and use them in the gym or library.  If the weather is nice, get outside with them.  Students can take a clipboard with them for working through the solutions.  If you can't get out of the classroom, get creative in the classroom.  Tape cards under desks, put them up on the walls, make a bulletin board ... have fun!
I have created monthly sets of task cards perfect to use for review for EQAO testing in Ontario - for both grades 3 and 6.  Each monthly set also includes answers, student recording sheet, and a tracking sheet so you can keep track of students' progress by specific strand.  You can click HERE or on the images below for more information.

Think Pink: An Anti-Bullying Resource

Anti-Bullying Day (a.k.a. Pink Shirt day) is a day celebrated on various dates across the world, originating in Canada. In 2012, the United Nations declared the day officially, and is recognized by over 25 countries worldwide, such as the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. On this day, those who participate wear pink, blue, or purple shirts (depending on location) to symbolize a stand against bullying.  In many countries, Anti-Bullying Day is recognized on May 4th.  Here in Canada, many areas celebrate it in February.  National Pink Shirt Day is on February 25th this year.

Pink Shirt Day began in Canada in 2007 with two high school students from Nova Scotia:
“David Shepherd, Travis Price and their teenage friends organized a high-school protest to wear pink in sympathy with a Grade 9 boy who was being bullied…[They] took a stand against bullying when they protested against the harassment of a new grade 9 student by distributing pink T-shirts in their school. 

‘I learned that two people can come up with an idea, run with it, and it can do wonders,’ says Mr. Price, 17, who organized the pink protest. ‘Finally, someone stood up for a weaker kid.’ 

So Mr. Shepherd and some other headed off to a discount store and bought 50 pink tank tops. They sent out message to schoolmates that night, and the next morning they hauled the shirts to school in a plastic bag. As they stood in the foyer handing out the shirts, the bullied boy walked in. His face spoke volumes. ‘It looked like a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders,’ Mr. Price recalled."

I have put together one of my favorite pink shirt day activities and posted it as a freebie on TpT (full lesson instructions, printables for the lesson, completed examples, and pictures of bulletin board display ideas).  This activity can be done in conjunction with any anti-bullying program - if you don't do a pink shirt day, this can still be done ... or better yet, start your own pink shirt day at your school.  

Students start out by blindly picking a "role" - bully, the bullied (victim), or bystander.  Groups then get together to discuss feelings / actions that go along with the role they have.  They then complete an "I am" poem from the point of view of the role they have.  Once the poem is completed, it is typed and photocopied onto a T-shirt template.  I also have my students design a T-shirt for pink shirt day while they are waiting for other students to complete the writing and publishing of their poems - keeps everyone busy and engaged.  

Click HERE or on the image to your right to grab a copy for your classroom.

Collaborative Problem-Solving in Math

 Collaborative Problem Solving Activity for Grade 6 Common Core
I love watching my students work together on a common goal - especially when that goal is producing the best work they can.

I've been doing activities similar to my Stick-It Together resources for a while in the classroom.  Students work in groups of 4.  Each student in the group individually answers the problem or question on a sticky note.  They then place all their sticky notes on a common page and read through the answers.  Taking the very best parts of each person's answer, they discuss and work together to build the best possible answer they can.

I've done these types of activities in both language and math, and a variation of this activity is included in my Building Better Responses resources.

Earlier this year I created my first Stick-It Together Resource - a collaborative activity for reader responses.    

Soon after, I began to get requests for a similar resource for math.  So here it is ... my Stick-It Together for Collaborative Problem-Solving.  The resources are specifically geared to the common core standards - with one question for every single standard.  (I have completed 4th, 5th and 6th grade resources already.  Working on other grades is next on my list).

Each page contains a problem geared to a specific standard, an "I can ..." learning goal, problem-solving success criteria, space for students' individual sticky notes, and a space for the students to build their best collaborative answer.

Also included in the resource are levelled exemplars for students to see and discuss what makes a level 1, 2, 3, and 4 response.  There is also a rubric for assessment, and an answer key.

My students love working together on tasks like this, and I love the collaboration and team work skills they build ... not to mention the review of concepts and help from peers.  When groups complete the task, I like to project their work over the whiteboard and let them present their final responses to the class.  They can take turns explaining how they arrived at the answer, and why they believe they accomplished the task of building the best answer they could.

 Collaborative Problem Solving Activity for Grade 6 Common Core Math
You can take a peek at my newest resource by clicking HERE or on the picture to the right.  Take a peek at some of the sample pages from the resource below.

Click the links below to see the different grade levels in this series:

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