Thursday, 22 September 2016

QR Code Possibilities are Endless

I loved using QR codes in my classroom and to this day, wish I had discovered it earlier.  As a result, I am going out of my way to introduce them to other teachers so that they can identify with the potential that they offer the classroom environment.

I have compiled a few 'How to..." videos for you to watch if you are nervous about taking the leap into the QR code world (believe me, once you start you too are going to wish you did it earlier).

The first video is a TedEd video.  Karen Mensing is a teacher and she gives you practical ideas on how to use QR codes and the results it had with her students.  If this doesn't get you hooked...

Right, you're hooked!  Now what?  The next video is from Instructions 101, and here you are given a variety of websites that you can use to create your QR codes for FREE.  I always use but there are others which work just as well.

Hehe, and while searching for appropriate QR code videos for you, I did come across this one... "The Problem with QR codes."  It made me giggle because I have often been in these situations, and just reminds us all to think about how we use technology.  just because we have access to it, does not mean that it is appropriate in every situation :)

I hope you found this post useful and will dive straight into QR codes when you go back to school.

You can also get some ideas here on how I used QR codes in the classroom and a FREEBIE that will make organizing group work fun!

Here are also a few QR code board games which I created.  they will add a different twist to practicing what was learned:

Saturday, 17 September 2016

This is how I encouraged students to 'Get to Know' each other.

Are you back at school?  Most, if not all, schools have reopened for the new year and days have been filled with getting to know new students, setting ground rules and tackling the task of covering all required work before the first set of assessments.

The first few weeks ( as well as the last few, and everything in between) prove to be rushed and fly by with many tasks to be accomplished.

I always found to spend time at the beginning of the year building my new class as a 'family' worked well for us for the rest of the year.  I did this by creating opportunities for my students to get to know one another.

I would spend time introducing activities to enable students to get to know each other.  Firm favorites were:

Find one person who...

This game entailed each student being given a page containing a list of characteristics.  They would then have to move around the class to find people, and record their names in the space provided, who meet the characteristics.

For example, a characteristic could be:  "Someone who has a pet bird at home."  or "Someone who enjoys watching cartoons."

Students will quickly learn about their peers and have an opportunity to speak to and interact with everyone.

You can download my version from Teachers Pay Teachers for FREE.  I have also included an editable version in this download so that you can add your own criteria and make it more applicable for your students.  I would love you to leave feedback if you find it useful.

What are your goals?

My students sat in groups so would discuss with the rest of the group what their short term and long term goals were.  They would discuss with each other possible methods for achieving these goals.  Each students would then have an opportunity to report back to the class with one of their group member's goals and possible solutions in achieving the goals.

I did this activity with my 5th -7th graders.  It helped then realize that their goals are achievable if they are prepared to follow a path and put in work to get there.

Getting to Know You Board Game

I designed this fun board game for students to play, not only at the beginning of the year, but throughout it.  I used it as an early finisher activity on occasion to help students to move away from their 'click groups' and find out about others in their class too.

Should you be interested in using this game in your class, I have listed a version in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  You can purchase it here.

Friday, 9 September 2016

CVC Fun on the Way to School

Megan is in Kindergarten and loves books.  Every night we read two stories to her and she is starting to recognize words- which is very exciting.

We have been focusing a lot on Sight Words and CVC words and it was getting to a point where she wanted to read on her own, but there would still be too many words that were unfamiliar.

It is also rather challenging having Adam around as he then comes over and wants to read too, which is problematic and my attention is diverted to him.

So, I moved her reading time to the car on the way to school.  We spend about an hour in the car waiting in traffic and I thought this would be the perfect time... Adam would be busy with whatever he brought along and Megan could focus on reading.

The problem came in with me not being right next to her, and there were too many words which were new to her and this ended up being frustrating.

This gave me an idea to create some reading strips for her with a twist!

The sentences revolve around CVC words and for each set a certain number of Sight Words have been used.  This means that she sees the Sight Words fairly regularly and gets to practice the fluency of the CVC as well as the Sight Words.

On each card, there are two sentences and a picture.  (This is where the twist comes in.) She needs to read the two sentences and decide which sentence best fits with the picture and then mark it with a white board marker (or you could use mini pegs).  This focuses not only on her fluency but her understanding as well.

We keep our cards in the car, so that when we hit the traffic, she can take them out and read!

There is no pressure, but most mornings she chooses to take them out and I love hearing how her confidence is growing.

My next mission is to find some appropriate reading books which can replace the cards once she has completed them.

I have listed these cards in my TPT store, should you be interested in them.  Click here for a direct link.  They would be the percet center activity as they can adapted to be self-corrective by placing a sticker behind the correct answer.  Or you can check the answers once the set is complete.

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Struggling to win over your students. Try this...

As the new school year begins and you meet your new class of students, are you concerned of personality clashes?

We have all had the experience of a personality clash, whether it be with a parent, colleague or student.   It's tough... putting 25 individual students into a class with an adult and that they all have to get along.  You may have found, in the past, (or you may have even identified one already) you have a personality clash with one of your students.  It doesn't make you a bad person, or them a bad person.  Your personalities just...clash.

It is, however, your job as the adult to try every possible way to try and win this student over and make their year an enjoyable one - because we all know that a happy student results in a productive year.  (Plus, happy students = happy teachers)

This is a list of suggestions that you can use to attempt in winning that students over.

  1. Praise them for the tiniest things - you may want to read my blog post on "Be Your Student's Hero".  It focuses on finding the positive in each child and praising them for little things.
  2. Pay them a compliment - By paying them a compliment, it shows them that you notice them and find good in them.
  3. Give them a special job - This shows that you trust them and what are relationships based on?  Trust!  Make sure that the job you give will enable the student to experience success.  You don't want it to backfire and you end up nagging and complaining more than before.
  4. Write a note home to their parents about a good occurrence - There is nothing more special than if you take the time out to make a fuss to the parents.  A special call or note can go a long way.  
  5. Send them to the principal with good work.  Once again, recognition.  You are recognizing that they have achieved something.  Look at things like improving their work, an exceptionally well presented task, good group work, a well read passage (all based on their standards and not the highest achieving pupil in class's standards).  You need to vary it up so that the same children are not always going.  Find reasons for your 'unwilling' child to showcase themselves. 
  6. Use them as a good example - "Look at how tidy Tom's desk is." Let them feel proud in front of the class for something they did.
  7. Find reasons to move up on the reward charts - Often this student will not have many dots/stars/points on the reward chart as they act out 'against' you.  Find reasons to give them rewards.  Bringing me back to my past post, you need to find the positive in every child.  What self-worth does a child with no stars have in a class filled with 'chart-fillers'?  None!  
  8. Share a secret - It can be about what you did over the weekend or a fear you have.  By giving them a piece of information as a secret, you are 'letting your guard down' and opening yourself up to them.  You will then share something that no one else does.  It also once again shows that you trust them.
  9. Inquire about their likes and dislikes - show you are interested.  Once you know what they like, you can make a conscious effort to find out about it.  Maybe it's a specific football team (find out when they are playing and make mention of the scores in class), maybe it's horses or camping or fishing or reading or math...
What is important to remember, is that you want your attempt to be subtle.  Enough for the student to feel a positive emotion but not enough for the class to pick up on it and start teasing or discriminating against the child for being the 'favorite'.  Find a balance.

I hope you have found these suggestions helpful.  I am also busy with a series of identifying and handling specific behavior problems.  You may want to check it out if you think your student has a specific behavior problem.

I would love to hear what you found useful in your class and success you have experienced in willing over a child.

Let's make learning fun!

Monday, 8 August 2016

Be Your Student's Superhero!

This has been on my mind for a while now.  It is something that I think does not come naturally to everyone, and is therefore overlooked by many.  It applies to not only teachers, but parents too.

I'll be honest with you and admit that my 'light-bulb' moment only happened after my daughter, Megan, was born.  She is six now and from when she could move, talk, and even blink I realized that she had a mind of her own and would be D.E.T.E.R.M.I.N.E.D to show me who is boss (well, I had news for her...).  The more I argued, the more she dug her heels in.  The more I punished, the more she had to prove her point.  The more I explained, the more she negotiated.  It was a constant battle...until... I shifted my focus.  My role as a mother was to be her HERO.  As a teacher, we have the same role towards our students. 

So what did I do?  I focused on all the positive she was doing.  I did mention and offer an alternative for undesired behavior, but I focused on the positive.  Don't get me wrong, there were consequences for certain situations but I "picked my battles."  I focused on the good she was doing and not so much on the 'bad'.  She thrived off the positive reinforcement and therefore sought it out.  Asking for more responsibility, in order to show off her 'positive' skills.

Right, now how does this fit in with being your student's hero, you may ask?  The secret is... Focus on the Positive.

Adopt this attitude...

... and I can assure you that you will start looking at your students differently and they in turn, will look at you differently.

Find something in every child that is special, and focus on that.  No matter how naughty, rude, untidy or disruptive they are.  There WILL be something!  Focus on the positive.

Go out of your way to praise them for the tiniest things: the ability to share, tidy up, raise their hand, wait their turn, pick up papers, speak politely, hang their coat on the hook, hold the pencil correctly, creativity in the dolly corner, agility on the obstacle course, ability to balance on the beam... and so I can go on.

Make them feel like they matter!  Like you notice them!  Like they are special! Like you are truly happy to see them and have the privilege to know them!

(Am I going a bit far saying it is a privilege to know each of your students?  No.  If you find the positive in each child, you will realize that it IS a privilege to know each one of them!)

With some children you may need to dig deep to find the positive quality to praise, and you know what?  Those are the children that most often need it the most!

Be their HERO!  Make them matter!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Oh so Fun Summer Fashion for Teachers!

Would you wear these t-shirts?  I probably would...

I found it here.

Get it here.
This one comes from here.

I found this here.
You can find it here.

Hehe, I definitely need one of these.  My non-teacher friends can't believe that I would arrange and organize other people's children in a public place...

I would love to see your Summer Teacher outfits.  Tag me in your Instagram or upload an image to my Facebook page.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

DIY Puzzles

Adam is loving puzzles at the moment!  Once he starts, he wants to build all our age appropriate puzzles and even digs into Megan's box, which is not a good idea yet as her pieces are tiny and she would not be happy if he manages to lose a piece or two.

In the past I had spotted these great paint color sample cards at my local DIY store.  They are not the normal multi-colored ones but rather a larger rectangle of the solid color.  I have always kept these in mind for projects as they come in loads of different colors and they are free!

I knew that this project would be perfect for those little cards, so I pooped down to the store to grab a few (or maybe a lot :) ) - I must admit, I felt a slight stitch of guilt selecting my color cards knowing I would not be doing any painting - oh well, it didn't last long ;)

On each card I drew a picture with my limited skill, but fortunately my children don't notice where I think my skills are lacking - aren't they wonderful!

Once the pictures had been drawn, I cut them up into various sizes and shapes.  The nice thing about this is you can make it as challenging as you wish.  I started by cutting each puzzle into four pieces, but once my son gets the hang of it, I can cut them again so that there are eight pieces.  He will then be familiar with the picture of the puzzle but it will be more challenging to put it together.

The different colors also help with color recognition and sorting.

If you can't get these paint samples in your home town, you may just want to use ordinary card stock - which can give you a bigger image if you would like.

I placed a small ball of sticky putty under each of the pieces to help to hold them in place while building the puzzles.  They tend to move around quite a bit.
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