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I have three tips and resources to help your struggling readers improve their Phonemic Awareness.

But first an awesome giveaway for #teacherappreciationweek. Teachers deserve appreciation all year long, but I'm glad we have this week each year because we need something to cheer us up when we are faced with too much testing, and school-wide events not to mention kids (plus teachers) struck with a case of summer vacay fever. Also, I realize how many teachers don't live anywhere near the awesome Target Dollar Spot so I collected some items to giveaway to my blog readers!

Pictured below are four different prize packages for four different winners that I can send your way! Just sign up for my email at the at the top of this page or via any other pop-up you might see. You're welcome email will also send you to my TpT store to check out 20 different follower freebies! One winner will be chosen from IG and three from my new subscriber list. If you subscribe already just tag a friend on IG and you click the picture below to find my IG post or look me up @teachermsh on the app to participate. What do you hope to win? Tell me in the comments. *Giveaway is only open to those 18 years of age or older and you must be a U.S. resident due to shipping constraints. Entries will be accepted through Sat. May 11th, 2019 and winners announced and messaged the eve of Sun. May 12th, 2019.




Now for my tips to improve phonemic awareness in students! 

1) Assess student gaps in phonemic awareness. 

2) Teach students about common phonic sounds, patterns, and rules to help them decode easier. 

3) Have students practice reading words that contain targeted sounds and phonics patterns for at least 20 minutes a day ideally in a small group with you so you check for accuracy while others participate in centers. Use flash cards, games, or phonics readers.  


Here are some awesome resources I have used that have helped me accomplish all three goals. I have seen my students increase two to three reading levels in one trimester using these item. 

Just recently I created a new small group game to keep them interested and motivated during reading intervention time. Reading City includes all the sounds, and phonics patterns in word context so students can practice their decoding skills! Students chose a card from the pile and it to you correctly they can read it they get to move the number the number of spaces shown on the right top corner of the card. You can have first, second and third place winners if you choose to keep the game going. You can separate the cards they use into correct and reteach piles. Then use the reteach pile or any of the cards as flash cards. I also plan to add two more sets of cards for older readers soon. 

Keep in mind when I publish new resources they are always on sale for 50% off for the first 48 hours after I publish them and this is new one too, so if you are interested please check it out soon or follow me on TpT for more great deals.


Since, TpT is having a site wide sale May 7th and 8th so be sure to use code GIFT4YOU at check out to get an additional 25% off of anything pictured and in my store.


                    Just click any pic to be taken to these resources.



By using these resources consistently I have seen my readers grow their phonemic awareness knowledge quickly. I've also seen tremendous growth with most students moving up a few reading levels before I even began to work on guided reading. We use Reader's Workshop at my school and often we have very little in the way of resources that focus on foundational reading skills that include phonemic awareness and engage students. 



FYI this is a growing bundle and more posters will be added as well as additional cards for the reading game. I'm also working on adding my Reading Goals and Strategy Bookmarks resource to the bundle. Right now the price is low but it will go up as I add more items to the bundle.  



The Phonemic Awareness and Decoding Inventory is great because it helps me know what phonemic awareness gaps I need to fill. You can also use the same sheet to assess your students' progress up to three times a year by using a different color highlighter or colored pen to show new growth and mastery. Then using the Phonics Posters help me teach all the phonics rules and patterns so that students readily crack the reading code to become stronger decoders.



If you do decide to get any of these resources be sure to follow my store and have notifications turned on to receive updates about any new additions to the resource you get so you can download the updated version again for free.

Please let me know if you have questions about any of these resources in the comments or on TpT in the Q and A and I will try to get back to you as soon as possible. I hope you find these resources to be helpful and don't forget to sign up for email at the top of the page for more notification of new resources, updates, giveaways, and sales just a few times a year.





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It's the most wonderful time of the year and I am excited to share a few of my favorite things. Thanks to Southern Fried Teachin's Christmas Linky Party you can collect even more teaching ideas and resources over on her cute and patriotic blog.





1) My favorite holiday song is Andy William's Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season. It's so upbeat and festive that whenever I hear it I just can't wait to do Christmasy things, like craft, decorate or bake. Click the video to give it a listen if you like!

Andy Williams-Happy Holidays - YouTube


For more of my favorite Christmas songs click this pic for my YouTube playlist with over 50 songs.



2) One of my favorite holiday treats is the Scots Shortbread recipe my Mom makes. It's a recipe my grandmother saved. She used to make it for my Irish grandfather who loved shortbread since he lived in Scotland before immigrating here. 

3) Which leads to a family tradition for the holidays which is baking together. I have fond memories making shortbread, fudge and decorating cut out cookies with my Mom and siblings growing up. The holiday tradition continues with nieces and nephews getting in on the action too. I just love making chocolate covered marshmallow reindeers but they are not as easy as they look.  When I tried this recipe in my classroom it was hard to get it to work, as you really need a freezer to help the chocolate set, and putting them on top a large ice pack wasn't cutting it.  

Now I just stick to making edible Christmas trees with my students! I found that using frosting from a squirt can is easier than spreading it on with a knife.  Also this year I'm going to use shredded coconut as it gives the effect of snow! As with all difficult crafts or messy projects that you might do with students, I recommend that you pull a couple of students to the back table while others are working on something else. This way you can help students make and decorate their trees and supervise closely for less mess. Small plastic or paper bowls will also help to contain the mess while students decorate their trees. 


 

4) One of my favorite holiday books is the Polar Express and I absolutely love the movie. If you are interested in having your students compare and contrast the book with the movie, you can use a Venn diagram or have them draw a double bubble. If you subscribe to my blog you will also get a link to a Venn diagram with writing lines, specific to this activity, in this month's newsletter exclusive freebie.

5) Christmas Kindness: Every year I chose a couple of charities to donate to, instead of spending a ton on gifts.  Some of my family and friends have also chosen to donate on my behalf in the past as gifts to me. 


6) and 7) One of my favorite memories is when my sister and I both got kissing barbies one Christmas Eve. These dolls came with a lipstick stamp (pictured in her hands) and a button on Barbie's back that when you pressed it, Barbie's head would jut forward. It was so silly. Even her dress came with kisses on it. Our aunt and uncle got us the exact same dolls, probably so we wouldn't fight over them. This memory coincides with one of my family's favorite traditions which were when my parents allowed us to open just one gift on Christmas Eve after we got back from looking at holiday lights. 

8) Some of my favorite Holiday crafts include this awesome Countdown to Christmas Tree and Garland that I made this year. I got tired of plain red and green rings, so I made one with washi tape style ribbons. I love how it turned out! I choose a student or two each day to take a ring off and then they get to wear the ring as a bracelet with a little Scotch tape. You can grab this craftivity too for just a $1.00 in my TpT store.  Just click the pic to follow the link.



9) My favorite holiday movie is without a doubt the Christmas story (besides Polar Express). I can watch it over and over for some reason. My Dad really enjoys it too, so when I am home visiting we watch it together and laugh our butts off. 

10) I do like to give small gifts at work to thank my team, teacher assistant, office staff and bosses. I rely on the Target dollar section and/or treats from Trader Joe's to thank them.

11) I would like Santa to bring me a Fitbit Flex so I can be motivated to stay more active. 

12) Finally, here is one of my students' favorite games this time of year. They're Multiplication and Division Fact Family Flash Cards with a Christmas Tree theme.  Students cover the answers as they use them and try to guess the answers before they lift their thumb or hand.



If you are looking for some more great Christmas resources I just updated my Letter to Santa to include primary writing lines and a bulletin board display kit.  I have my students write letters to Santa persuading him to fill their stocking because of good behavior and work they have accomplished. Then Santa fills them with small trinkets and treats!  Santa can even write the class back with my handy template that is included.
 
Originally, I bought brick patterned craft paper from Lakeshore as well as the chalkboard Christmas lights borders. But since updating this resource there is brick paper now included for you to print and tile across your board and a template for the white part with Christmas light borders as well. However, you can also get the background paper and borders here and here through Amazon using my affiliate links. For the top part I just used white construction paper to make the top of the fireplace, and black construction paper for inside the fireplace. 




In MS Word I simply created a table and added student names to it. (UPDATE now an editable table in the resource too!) I then print, cut-out, and glued the labels to the mini-stockings from Walgreens. It usually only runs a 1.50 for six little stockings. What a deal! Amazon has them here too. I also see if there are any trinkets to fill them with, and they usually have Christmas pencils, stickers,  and candy canes. You can buy goodies in the Target dollar section too.  


Here's hoping that you have a Holly Jolly Christmas this year and a relaxing vacation!



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My Visit to the National Civil Rights MuseumA few summers ago, I got to visit the amazing National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennesse. The museum was built on the site of Martin Luther King Jr's. assassination at the Lorraine Motel in 1968. The museum took almost the entire day to go through as it has two parts. This is because they later acquired the former hotel across the street where James Earl Ray stayed. Ray fired a single shot from his hotel room's bathroom window at King who was standing on a balcony outside his second-story room alongside other leaders of the African American Civil Rights Movement.  My hope is to provide teacher background by relaying what I learned at this museum and share some resources for teaching this history at the end.


The original museum begins by chronicling the history of slavery and racism againt African Americans. Violence and hatred by groups like the Klu Klux Klan, and segregation through out much the south, alongside many stories of hate crimes such as Emmett Till led to the Civil Rights Movement. Most historians sight the beginning of the movement with Brown v. Board of Education a case brought before the Supreme Court that declared school segregation unconstitutional in 1954. But several years earlier a landmark case in California over segregated schools was brought by the parents of Sylvia Mendez. Several organizations came to their aid including Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP.  Later on this case would help them win the national debate. (You can read more about this case in the book Seperate Is Never Equal linked to at the end.) Often the schools where students of color were required to attend were dilapted and contained old and outdated materials if any. In 1960, Ruby Bridges was not allowed to attend her neighborhood school as they had refused to integrate. Progress was slow as it had been six years since the Supreme Court ruling. Inequity in education, and racism were the catalyst for many early protests.


The museum also covers the Montgomery Bus Boycott that began with Rosa Park's refusal to give up her seat and that was preceded by other brave black women who began protesting, in the same way, a year earlier. 15-year-old Claudette Colvin and 18-year-old Mary Louise Smith who were also arrested for challenging the Montgomery bus segregation. They were encouraged to take these actions by Jo Ann Robinson the leader of the Woman's Political Counsel who was the first to demand a bus boycott. Since Rosa Park was also part of the NAACP her protest received a larger audience and soon Martin Luther King Jr. joined to help lead the boycott.


Jim Crow laws were enacted to segregate and limit rights for people of color in the south. An interesting fact I learned is that the term Jim Crow was a pejorative term for black people that originally derived from a white actor's performance in blackface intended as an insulting caricature of black people. Many painful stories of protestors and counter-violence that activists endured during the fight against Jim Crow Laws are shared. Children were even jailed for protesting segregation. Major events like the Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, the Freedom Riders bus tour and the March on Washington are chronicled. The passage of the Civil Rights Acts in 1964 and the Nobel Peace Prize that King received are also covered. Finally, the first museum ends with the events of the I Am A Man protest led by Martin Luther King on behalf of black Memphis garbage workers and the site of his assassination outside his hotel room on April 4, 1968.

 

The second part of the museum I mentioned is at the site of the hotel where the shooter stayed. This side covers more about the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King Jr's. death. A wealth of information and evidence about the shooter James Earl Ray is presented. and a view of his hotel room next to the bathroom he shot out of is visible. It was very chilling and disturbing whereas the prior exhibits brought mostly tears, anger, and confusion at the mistreatment of others. The rest of this museum which is smaller than the first side covers the lasting affects of the movement and how the changes affected other minorities and America.  If you get a chance I highly recommend a trip, because you will learn so much that you may have missed out on in your own schooling and because you can take what you learn and come back to share it with your students.


How I teach what I've learned and resources I use
At the bottom of this blog, I link to some wonderful books that I have found to be effective in my own third-grade classroom to teach students about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement. We cover these topics in a few ways. First students have access to many biographies of famous Americans that include African Americans and we teach students how to read them as part of our Reading Workshop unit on biographies in December. Students must also complete a research project on someone they read about. We use mentor texts that include Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks among others like Cesar Chavez for some of our read alouds and to model the research project. Second, after this unit concludes we began our Social Justice unit that begins in January and it includes many of the mentor texts below, that cover the Civil Rights Movement and more. (More about the biography project options and social justice lessons will be shared in a future blog post so please follow me or subscribe if you want to be notified about these posts.)


For Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I play my students the speech below called, "My Little Girl" where King tells the story of how he had to explain to his daughter why she couldn't go to Fun Town a local amusement because of segregation.  If you want the text of this speech I found it here. I like playing this speech for my students because it really helps them to understand segregation. They can relate to the idea of going somewhere fun and the idea of not being allowed to go really speaks to them. You can also hear King's heartbreak at having to tell his daughter why and my third-grade students pick up on that and become very empathetic with some even tearing up at the thought of being excluded for their skin color.  The classroom discussion that follows is always very powerful and meaningful. Finally, after some read alouds about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and/or watching these videos that I have saved on my YouTube channel they fill out this free poster /graphic organizer from Curriculum Castle.



My Little Girl (06/17/1966) - YouTube


Here are the books I recommend and use in my classroom. These are Amazon affiliate links and I earn a small commission of a few cents if you buy through these links. Your support of my blog and classroom are very much appreciated!


       

    





         



      


    
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I'm back with Currently from Farley and I'm grateful for no Internet access issues this time around.  Last month I had my currently and blog post all ready but between work demands (I design our digital report cards), needing to replace a bad router and spotty internet during my week's vacation off for Thanksgiving I decided to save it for next year.  So here we go with December's!




This is a pic of an editable craft I've done with my students in the past. I found these cute reindeer and candy coated marshmallow pops on Pinterest. They have actually been quite messy and it's hard to set the chocolate without a freezer handy. 



This year I will return to using sugar cones and have the kids decorate them to resemble Christmas trees using green frosting, candy and sprinkles. 




Also my students get to try their hand at Dreidel. I provide red and green M&Ms for this activity.






I'm teaming up with other sellers including the Nitty Gritty Science Teacher to Give Back. I am happy to participate as I donate to several charities each December and I even prefer people donate to worthy causes I share rather than give me a gift. Some of my faves from Christmas past include Red Cross, Heifer International, and Kiva. My charity of choice for this event is Lungevity. This charity and organization raises funds to research better treatment options for people with Lung Cancer while searching for a cure. 

This charity is near and dear to my heart because my cousin Melissa Waller died of this disease at the age of 34 in 2010. She has been an inspiration to me in starting this blog as she had the courage to blog every step of her disease so she might help others.  I also set up a Memorial Fund in her name that you can still donate under. Another reason (besides having excellent ratings on CharityNavigator.org) is that my one of my Mom's best friends' husband died of lung cancer as did another one of her teacher friend's husband. Neither were smokers so it's important to know this disease can effect anyone. 

If you'd like to help out just click the circle below and any purchases you make in my store on Dec 14th. 100% of sales this day will go to my charity.  I'd even be happy if you donated yourself to any of the charities I linked to above or if this post inspired you to give back elsewhere. There is no greater gift this holiday season, or better way we can give thanks for our many blessings, then to give to those in need.




Now for some fantastic Christmas resources from my TpT store. Each year I head over to Walgreens for these itty bitty stockings for my students and they write a persuasive letter to Santa on why they deserve to have it filled! You can get the bulletin board sign in my TpT store along with the Santa themed writing paper. And if you are looking for Santa to write your students back, you can use this editable letter to include your name and class. So far Santa has brought us holiday pencils, erasers, stickers, and candy canes! I wonder what he'll bring this year!!!










Finally I'm teaming up with James Des Jardins of Elementary Music Teacher for a Huge Giveaway with 69 teacher authors and over $400 of TpT products! Just click the pic to head over to his blog and participate. This giveaway runs from December 14th-17th this week!



I'm giving away this product in the 3-6 Rafflecopter. My third grade students loved the Candy Corn one I made for October so they could practice their multiplication facts during centers and now this Christmas Tree themed one is keeping them motivated to practice their division facts. Click the pic to check it out!





I hope you enjoyed this post and that you and yours have a blessed Holiday Season!











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So happy to be joining up with the Elementary Entourage for the Tricks and Treats Blog Hop! I have some great tricks and treats in store for you to help make your October and Halloween Celebrations Easy Peasy! I've included some teaching tips and tricks, treat ideas, freebies, and a giveaway for a choice of one product from my TpT store. 



One trick I've used among many to encourage my students to practice their multiplication and division facts is holiday themed math flash cards! My students love using these rather then the plain flash cards I print for them to practice with for homework. You can have students make their own fact family sentences using my FREEBIE sampler with the blank cards or opt for the ready-made flashcards included in the complete product. You can also have students color their fact family cards and string them up for a math and holiday-themed banner! These have been great for my math center time games as my students start multiplication in October then division in November so I'm covered for two months with these fun flashcards. 



Here's another teaching trick or tip that I use to motivate my students in writing. Student gets to make their own Pop-Up Haunted House and write a spooky story to accompany it. There is a customizable haunted house where students can pick which graphics they will include or a pre-made haunted house with all graphics included already. My students were really excited to get to chose their own graphics to include behind the windows and doors they cut open. The only thing is that I found out it takes so much longer for students to cut, color and glue so many pieces. It's great if you have time to spend an hour on art, but if you don't I have provided a second option where after coloring they just glue the back paper to the haunted house they already cut open and that's it! Graphics are already placed to appear through the windows and doors as well as additional ones on the front that you see pictured below. Don't forget that students will still need time to write a narrative story about their haunted house.  I just broke my lesson into two days to make it manageable because I wanted my students to have plenty of time to do the art and their stories. Another option is to have students write picture stories. In place of character names, they can put even smaller graphics that I've included in duplicate sets.







 


My students would get so excited when I told them they would be eating dirt pudding on Halloween over the past years. My student's parents would also donate all the ingredients needed to make this fun dessert for parent hours. However last year our school adopted a healthy snack policy and this year they are pushing towards only healthy items for classroom celebrations and birthdays too. While it's hard to depart from fun treats in the classroom it has led me to think outside the box. Last year, I came up with these! If you check Pinterest there are some additional healthy snacks you can serve for Halloween but they involve more time to prepare. What makes this easy is that there is no prep for the teachers and kids get to decorate their very own clementine "pumpkin" with food safe pens or sharpies!


Now if your school doesn't celebrate Halloween or you happen to have some students who don't  participate for religious reasons, I use this activity that I found thanks to Pinterest. My students got to chose between doing the haunted house activity or this great fall activity. It was actually quite easy to dye the pumpkin seeds and since I basically live in a desert they dried fairly quickly outside in the sunshine only taking about 4 hours. I think drying them overnight might be best just to be safe since a few were still damp. I also changed out the paper towels underneath the seeds after 15 minutes and put down new towels. Now on to the directions for dying. First, I boiled some water and added it to each cup of seeds until they were covered. Then, I added two tablespoons of vinegar each followed by 5 drops of dye. I stirred and let it sit for about 30 minutes before draining and drying the seeds.  I found the pattern for the tree via this blog. I just right clicked and saved the images there then added them to PowerPoint, resized them and printed them. Another important tip that I learned when I tried this the first time was to make sure to use unsalted dried pumpkin seeds as salt inhibits the seeds from absorbing the dye fully. Oncethe seeds are dry let students glue them their paper trees that have been cut out and mounted on paper.




Finally one more treat for you!!  I hope you enjoy the quick giveaway below. Please keep in mind that emails entered to access the giveaway will be auto-subscribed to my blog newsletter which you can unsubscribe from any time. I promise to keep your emails safe and secure. I will only be sending newsletters a few times a year to share monthly blog posts, that include giveaways, and exclusive freebies I have for subscribers only. Some upcoming freebies in the works include behavior management tools using Whole Brain Teaching. 

Thank you for participating!


a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Happy Teacher's Appreciation Week! 

I hope you have had a wonderful school year so far. I'm sure many of us can't wait for summer but this year I just don't feel ready to give up my awesome group of kiddos. Anyone relate? 

In case you haven't heard there is a site-wide sale going on at teacherspayteachers.com, and my entire store is on sale. Use code; THANKYOU17 to save up to 28% off at checkout. May 10th is the last day so hurry over!




Also, I have a few new resources that are over 50% off the for the first 48 hours (plus the 28% off discount if you get it during the site-wide sale. The first one is a Summer Countdown activity for your classroom. Now that the stress of two weeks of state testing is over, we could use a long summer break to recover, so I made this countdown for my classroom. 




The second resource on sale is Motivational Testing Notes for your students. I recently used these in my classroom for our state testing and I was surprised at how much students appreciated these notes, especially since they had been using to getting snack themed notes. 





More importantly, students were asked to explain their "Why?" and write it on one note with this task. I asked students why they wanted to pass the test and they actually gave awesome reasons and it helped them set some sort of goal for themselves. 


Another new resource that I posted earlier this spring that was a big hit with my students are these DIY Emoji Clocks that we used during our telling time lessons. Students get to choose their favorite emoji, color it in, label the clock, then put it together so they might use it during math practice. I decided to put these on sale as well, at half price, so with the THANKYOU17 code at check out they are over 50% off during this sale!




Looking for some awesome FREEBIES? Check out this link to see 20 different resources ideal for 3rd Grade and upper elementary! Be sure to leave a review.

You will also want to check out this awesome giveaway for a $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card organized by Kelly Malloy over at An Apple for the Teacher.  It ends 5/13/17 so hurry over!

Finally, if you aren't on my email list yet you'll want to subscribe to get access to exclusive subscriber freebies. I only email out a newsletter with links to free resources, giveaways, and sales a few times a year since I know teachers are too busy to keep up with lots of emails.


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8 Tips to Start Your School Year Off Right!
Tips for Teachers by Teacher Ms H

Blog Hop Hosted by the Owl Teacher.







This is an easy way to keep track of what students you have called on already. Draw them, then clip to the side. Just write their numbers and names on the clothespins. I prefer to put the numbers on with a thin fine point sharpie and just use pencil so I can erase old names and add new ones each year. I also like leave one or two in that say volunteer for students who just want share their knowledge without waiting their turn. I take any hands raised when a volunteer is selected.




Do you teach upper elementary students and find they still lack calendar skills? This idea works great for me and students get to take turns being Calendar Monitor. All they have to do is move a magnet on the day that it is! Also when it's a new month they get to help me put up the new calendar and decorative pieces I've had since I began teaching so long ago. They have magnets on the back and the number of the month. I keep the month headers organized with a binder clip and the little accents in a ziploc bag. 

Finally, I chose a bright marker color that seems to go with the month, so the calendar numbers can easily be seen from far away.  I always find these great desktop calendars at Big Lots each year during their back to school sale. I just tear off one month at a time and post it on my whiteboard using more magnets to hold it up! I love that I can write special occasions or student birthdays on this calendar too.



Goodbye cards or student nameplates.

Want to play a quick game? Comment below if you know what movie and/or book these characters are from! 

My school requires us to check out our kids at the end of each school day for added safety. I made these as I got tired of fumbling around with the daily check off clipboard while kids say goodbye and head to their parents or an after-school program, I can now just collect the cards put them back in number order then mark off my list of names when dismissal is complete. 

Luckily (as I update this post) our current principal no longer requires a checklist as long as we have a procedure in place like this one! Thank goodness, as I hated looking for each kids and the day's date on the teeny tiny list of columns and boxes to check off each day that the office gave us since these eyeballs aren't getting any younger! 

Now you could make your own by cutting up sentence cards and using a Sharpie to write on them or check out the editable version that is now included in my Back to School Bundle pictured at the end of if this post. Don't forget to laminate them. Also you might as well make two sets of them as even with lamination they only last half the year. Bonus is that these also work as name plates! 







This is the easiest way to check out library books that I have found yet. I use extra large ziploc bags (2 1/2 gallons so big picture books can fit if necessary) and I write the student's name and number with a Sharpie. I ask them to have their book cover facing the front where their name is written. Next I snap a picture on my smartphone and when they return and put it away I delete it.  I use an old iPhone that has speakers that don't work due to water damage. But you could even use a classroom student iPad if you weren't worried about the photos accidentally being erased, or just create a library album on your iPhone. You could even train a responsible student to check everyone out!





Grading made easy!!! No more old cardboard slidey grading thingies. This app Groovy Grader for iOS is ready to go. Just enter the number of questions in the white box, and it will calculate the percents in black, based on how many wrong in red. While this app is great, it doesn't grade my papers.  In an upcoming blog post, I will be sharing about another one of my new favorite grading apps from ZipGrade.com where you can make custom scantrons and scan them right into your phone with instant data at your fingertips! Don't forget to subscribe to my email list or my bloglovin' to receive updates about this and other blog topics.
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Glue!! I hate sticky stuff especially on my hands. I've been known to become slightly panicked when there is not a napkin or sink in sight. This is why I go through several napkins for finger foods and messy meals. If I could I'd eat everything with a fork I would. I do try. Lol. 

Anyhow I also hate strong smells, so glue sponges are a no for me. The thought of them growing icky over time is just well... Yuck! Enter easy cleanup!  If you have a restaurant supply store near you, or you would like to wash and recycle takeout sauce containers this trick might work for you. Just pour a little glue in each container and have kids use these awesome glue wands or spreaders. I ordered mine on Amazon, but I think Lakeshore also carries them. 

When my kids are done with their projects, if there is a lot of glue left in the containers, I just put a matching lid on so the glue doesn't dry out and you can use it again later. If the glue is almost out, just leave the container with the glue wand inside to dry overnight. Then the next day just pull out the glue wands and off comes the dried glue. No more sticky mess at the sink and trying to wash it off! Your janitor will also thank you for not clogging up sinks. Finally, kids absolutely love pulling the dried glue off. So get them to help!





Speaking of glue, magic erasers are amazing for getting it off students' desks and classroom table tops! Combined with natural lavender all-purpose cleaning spray from Target and you have the added bonus of lavender being a natural bug repellant for your classroom. For any classroom parties, I have regular sponges that I dampen and the students use them to wipe down their desks after I have sprayed with this magic stuff. It also smells awesome and calming instead of chemical like! I have noticed that while neighboring classrooms get ants and other yucky bugs I don't seem to have this issue anymore since using it over the past few years. 





My final back to school tip is.... Take Care of YOU! Besides wiping down desks frequently and reminding kids to wash their hands or use hanitizer,  (That's a legit teacher word, sure to be added to Webster's one day) take your VITAMINS!! Also, if you can help it never pick up students pencils, crayons, markers etc. because they are full of germs. Always have a pencil or pen of your own in hand that is labeled with your name or teacher only that you tell your students they can never touch or borrow.  

I don't have the greatest immune system for fighting off kids germs with cough-variant asthma and terrible sinuses but since I started taking Vitamin D daily and eating yogurt with lots of healthy bacteria, it has helped me to ward off more colds. When I do get sick I take Ultimate Flora Advanced Immunity. You can find it on Amazon at the link, at Walgreens or at the Vitamin Shoppe. It has helped me to kick colds quickly before they turn into bronchitis or a sinus infection. Besides natural and powerful probiotics, it contains Echinacea which helps to clear up any viral or bacterial respiratory infections.


I just want to end by sharing some Back to School FREEBIES and resources of mine that you might find useful in your classroom to start the year off great.  I find it very important to start my year off with organizational systems in place, great parent communication, and first week of school activities ready to go. These tools help me do just that. I hope you take a look and see if there is anything that might be of help to you!





    





Now on to the big giveaway and blog hop!




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I am so excited to share a few of my favorite resources that I am using to get my new school year under way, and they are on sale for one day only, on TeachersPayTeachers.com this coming Monday, August 22, 2016, with code: OneDay This sale is all about sharing our #bestresourcever so we help everyone have their #bestyearever this #bts2016 season! My entire store will be on sale tomorrow at 28% off with the code One Day. In addition to this awesome bonus sale, I've partnered with over 30 other awesome teacher-authors for a MEGA HUGE giveaway! Please enter the rafflecopter at the end of this post to have a chance at winning over $300 in prizes.


Last year I set out to revise some of my classroom resources, anchor charts, and posters. After teaching for 15 years I knew it was time for a small makeover. Some of my posters and charts looked dusty, tattered, and plain worn out, not mention some were created with just a couple of markers and cut out stars. I was also tired of looking at the same old activities and resources I was using, with some even illustrated by hand. I also found beautiful graphics and fonts to update my job chart, parent survey, first day of school survey, welcome banner, birthday chart, 5-star line poster, and other activities.  I hope these resources help you have the #bestfirstweekever like I did! Last week I got to meet my new third graders, and I'm feeling very lucky and blessed to get a break from extreme behaviors after experiencing an exhausting last year.



Check out this before and after:



  


Here's a look at the whole bundle, sans two direction pages explaining how to glue sheets together to make a larger poster as there are actually 3 different sized posters for the Happy Birthday one and two different sizes for the 5 Star Line poster.


I have a new favorite resource to share with you, but first books. When I taught fourth grade a long time ago, my students had to respond to the quote of the day I wrote on the board, each morning when they came in. I think that inspiring quotes are really valuable for our older grade students as a source of motivation and character development. Not only did my students get writing practice we had awesome discussions centered around each quote's meaning. These are some great books I have used in my own classroom to share quotes.  I really like the first book because it is ordered by positive character traits while the second affiliate link is a great quote book for the classroom as it offers writing prompts and discussion ideas for quotes. Click on the pictures of these books to be taken to my Amazon affiliate links if you are interested in learning more about these books.


I am just in love with all things chalkboard and I now finally have all my favorite quotes in one place with a design I got to choose.  This year I used Scotch Sticky squares to affix my laminated posters to my classroom windows, as the tape I had used before for other posters and mini-anchor charts been near impossible to get off. What I like about these squares is that they make it easy to reposition the posters so that they are straight. There is nothing more annoying to me than something looking topsy-turvy in my classroom when it comes to decor and displays. If you are interested in trying these squares, Amazon has them via my affiliate link. However I can't vouch for their use on other surfaces or how long they will last,  but for now, they are doing the job, and they were way easier to use than rolling up the tape.  Since my classroom is on the second floor of our building and I have tons more wall space, I only use these windows to display posters and mini-anchor charts for my students to see. 

   




Finally for more back to school tips, check out 8 Back to School tips a post I wrote last season. You'll also want to make sure that you are following me on Instagram @teachermsh where I host monthly giveaways and by subscribing to my monthly newsletter for even more exclusive freebies and giveaway announcements. This month I'm sending out editable name plates and goodbye cards.

Many thanks to the Whimsical Teacher for helping to organize this great giveaway! 




To enter the MEGA Giveaway use the Rafflecopter below.  For an additional prize please subscribe to my email list and leave a blog comment with an item you would most like to win from my store! Don't forget to include your username before the @ (not the last website part) as it isn't a good idea to post your whole email publicly on the Internet due to spammer software. Using random.org I will select a winner from the comments and will contact the winner via the email they submitted to my list. Thank you for participating!

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*This post contains affiliate links which enable me to maintain this website. Thank you!
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6 Steps to Building Math Fact Fluency




Why is basic fact mastery and memorization so essential for students in younger grades? If you have taught upper elementary or beyond you are probably familiar with a few students who's lack of basic fact mastery slows them down when they are working with bigger numbers or with more difficult concepts like algebra. Often these students make so many simple errors they rarely arrive at a correct answer. The issue is that without automaticity or fact fluency, they fall further behind as it takes them longer to get to their answers. You might see students still using tally marks or drawing out arrays to get their answers when there simply isn't time. After teaching elementary students for over 15 years, with the majority of my time spent in third grade,  I have figured out a couple of tried and true ways to help my students master their facts.

1) Use fact families to build number relationships.

After you have made sure that your students have foundational skills such as understanding visual representations of number sentences through drawings, arrays, part/part whole and the use of hands-on manipulatives it's time to teach number relationships. Use an anchor chart displaying how fact families work. Students can also draw a fact family house. Here is a link to a free fact family resource and you can find more via a simple Google search. When students learn a fact family, they also learn the inverse operation at the same time. Suddenly, learning subtraction after addition or division after multiplication doesn't seem so bad.


2) Have students practice their facts daily by using flash cards in the classroom and sending a set home for homework.

I use these triangle fact family flashcards in my classroom, and my students love them because they are holiday themed! Once printed on cardstock and laminated students get to use them in our math center or if they finish classwork early. Click the pics if you want to get these holiday themed fact family flash cards in multiplication and division. Since my kiddos need to learn their multiplication facts by the end of October and their division facts by the end of December, these work out great!!! I also send home plain, ink-friendly flashcards for use at home like these free ones I made long ago.

       

3) Practice makes perfect goes a long way. Give students practice sheets in class and for homework. 

I use these practice sheets for multiplication and division in my classroom, but I also want to share with you an awesome, free facts practice resource from one of my favorite educators/presenters, Rick Morris.  These can also be used as quizzes if you choose.



4) Quiz students weekly on their facts.

Using the same resource pictured above, I give my students weekly quizzes, usually on Fridays once they have had the whole week to practice and study assigned facts. Students are welcome to take the quizzes over and over again until they pass them. The only thing I require is that they show they have done extra studying before they request to take a quiz again. See the next step below for how I track this.

5) Send home results of quizzes so parents know what facts their student needs to study more.
These are multiplication notes and division notes that I send home so that parents know which facts they didn't pass. Included with the note is another opportunity for students to practice their missed facts using See it, Say it, Write it. Yes, it's rote memorization or drill and kill, but recent research has shown that this old fashioned method is actually more effective than other tricks or memorization strategies taught. I know this technique definitely helped me in school.



6) Use games and rewards to motivate students to learn their facts.

In my class, I use as many different learning games as possible to reinforce skills taught. Not only that students love racing to name answers or missing numbers quickly. Besides playing bingo or using flashcards to do Math Around the World, I have found these games engage more students and keep them accountable for learning.You can check out my newly published Subtraction and Addition Fact Family Mastery Racing Game here or click the pic. You can play this game, as a whole class, or students can work alone or with partners to see how many facts they can name in one minute! A tracking sheet is included, and students are shown how to track their own progress after the game ends. The best part is that it only takes 5 minutes a day to play!



I also have students earn an ice-cream sundae and a pizza party for each fact they learn. See this awesome product here or just click the pic. Each time a student passes a fact they get to color in part of their ice-cream sundae ticket!



If you are interested in even more resources (free and paid) to help you teach math in your classroom check out my math resources category on TpT.


Now for the awesome TpT gift card giveaway with 12 winners chosen! (Sorry this giveaway has already ended)

Each blog in the hop will be choosing one winner for a $10 gift card with a total of $120 in prizes possible if you chose to enter every raffle. Also so don't forget to fill up your cart in advance of TpTs site-wide Cyber Sale at 28% off that will be this Monday and Tuesday from Nov. 28 thru 29th using code: CYBER2016 Don't forget that many sellers, myself included, will mark down any new products for an additional 50% off for the first 48 hours after publishing. Be sure to follow stores to be notified of these amazing deals.

Finally, please note that when you enter my Rafflecopter your email will automatically be added to my mailing list. I promise to keep your email private and will only use it to send out subscriber exclusive freebies, announce new resources, and future giveaways. I only send out about 6 newsletters a year as I'm just as busy as you are in the classroom. Thank you for participating! Good luck!


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Please hop on over to Surfing to Success to view the next blog and for another chance at winning a $10 gift card!
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I'm so glad it's February! Fall and the holidays proved to be difficult with family health issues but I'm finally back to share some great free resources with you and an awesome sale! #resourceswelove  



I have shared three favorite items that I love using with my class in February and I've teamed up with ten other teacher-authors who are also sharing their resources. The first two are 50% off thru Valentine's day and the third item is free!  Head over to TpT to check them out using hashtag #resourceswelove or just click the pic. 

I'm passionate about character education and with Kindess week and Random Acts of Kindness also celebrated in Feburary I wanted to have a nice display for my classroom where students could share ways to be kind. This Kindness Counts resource is simple but it also includes a link to great videos and read alouds I've curated on YouTube. 



The second resource is a fave of mine because I was able to come up with clever puns or plays on words for these adorable Animal Valentine's Day Cards! Adding the scratch-off part is optional but fun if you want students to have a hand in making these to give as gifts. You can also try the free sampler that features just the cat, before you buy.



Finally, my last resource I'm sharing is a freebie that teachers love everywhere. My Candy Hearts Graphing Freebie  has recently been updated and it now includes a sorting mat, tally mark collection pages, and math word problems using addition and subtraction. Please leave feedback if you enjoy this FREEBIE!



I hope these resources help you out in the classroom and that you have a happy Valentine's Day!

P.S. Make sure you sign up for my newsletter to access even more exclusive freebies.

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