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Have you ever seen these cute little pouches of letters? My kids love them, you can get them at Walmart or Amazon, (here) I even saw them at my local grocery store. I have used these in third grade and just let my students make their own word puzzles, like crossword puzzles. I also love using them in the lower grades with these Fry Words puzzles that I've made. The best thing about these is, you make them once and can keep them out at a center for a long time. Kids never get tired of them!

 Love some more word work ideas? heck out the ideas on The Curriculum Corner!



Valentine's Day is so close! Are you ready?? I don't know about y'all but I like doing our Valentine bags in class. I like having them all look similar and I don't want to burden my families with having to make a box or a bag at home. But having said that, I like something easy that won't take us too long to make.

Dollar Store gift bags are great for this! I picked up bags (2 bags for a dollar) and some packs of their foam sticker hearts. All of these bags are made with the hearts only. I had to trim a few of the hearts for some of the pieces but students could easily do this. The only other supply we added was googly eyes. You could totally use construction paper eyes though.
Using just hearts, I made a dog and a fox.
I also made a butterfly and a cute little pig.
And finally a crab and a mouse.
The best part about these bags are the Name Tags! I laminate them and then attach using temporary double sided tape, then later students can take their names off and use them as bookmarks! I love being able to use things over again and not just throwing them away. 

You can make yours by downloading this freebie:


What are your plans for Valentine's Day? Hope you feel loved and appreciated!

Pin for later:





Hey everyone! I hope you had a great New Year and are energized to finish out this school with a bang! 

At this point of the year, my readers are focusing on comprehension and getting ready for the types of questions they will have on that dreaded standardized test, The Georgia Milestones. One of my go-to websites has always been ReadWorks. They have great passages, on a variety levels with higher level questions....just what we need in Third Grade. Oh and did I mention, it's free!

But then, they stepped it up! The came out with ReadWorks Digital and ya'll this is so easy...it's amazing! Within 10 minutes, I cut and pasted my students names to create their log on. Chose some passages for them to choose from. I decided to have show my students this in class, then we went to our computer lab to complete their first passage. Each passage has 5 - 10 questions plus short response that they have to type. 

The best part is the data! Teachers love data, right? I can easily see who missed any questions and then read their short answer responses.
This makes it very easy for me to see who did well and then form small groups with my kiddos who had difficulty. Also I had one friend who is a high level reader, he missed 3, so I need to check in with him to see why.

There are so many ways a teacher can use this tool in her classroom, including assigning for homework. This is what I plan to do. 

Check it out!


I can't even believe we are getting so close to Christmas break! I have 8 days left....8 long days! This time of year is so stressful, remembering to buy gifts for friends and family but then also your students. This has been my go-to present for my students for the last few years. 
My students always love this and it's so quick and easy. I buy Dollar Store mugs and fill them with hot cocoa packets, candy canes and little baggies of mini marshmallows. I usually put the mugs in clear gift bags and attach a tag. Done. One reason why I like this is because all of my students can receive one, no matter what holiday they celebrate.

And you can print the tags for your class too! Click the pic to download:
I can't wait for these next 8 days to zoom by, Christmas break can't get here soon enough. I hope your last few days go by fast too!

Deanna







Let's face it, having Halloween on a Monday is NOT going to be a teacher's favorite day! I dread this day more than the day before a vacation! Not only is Monday going to be challenge but the day after is going to be worse. But there are a few things we can do to get through these days, because if you can't fight 'em, then join 'em.

First, be prepared! Don't plan on doing anything new. This is not the day to start introducing new concepts. Students that participate in trick or treating are going to be tired the day after and students who do not, might feel left out of all the fun. It could be hard to navigate. Give students extra recess time or some free time, like extra quiet reading and writing time. Better yet, if the weather is nice...try taking your lessons outside. Fresh air will do everyone some good.

Second, have some fun activities to do. Have students all bring in one piece of candy (you can bring in extras for your students who do not bring in a piece) and do some fun sorting and graphing activities, like in this activity pack.There is math, writing and a "Find Someone Who" that will work for everyone in class. (Even your non-trick or treaters can join in.)
Third, try a STEM activity. This is a great way to get students working together and yet learning about the STEM/Engineering design process and the Scientific Method. 
Either way, with a little prep and you'll make it through just fine! Have a happy Halloween.




I know the current trend these days is flexible seating and I so wish I could jump on this train...but in my school we have nowhere to store any extra furniture. So we've been told, any furniture (including student desks) has to to remain in our classrooms! Ugh. Not really what I wanted to hear, because this year I had my heart set on going into flexible seating.

With that being said, I continue to focus on Flexible and Collaborative Learning Spaces, which I plan to blog about very soon!    


So in the meantime, since my desks are arranged in groups...I use this to my advantage! I love to reward my teams with points during the week (I use Class Dojo) then reward the group with the most points. My favorite reward is to "eat with the teacher". They love it and it costs me nothing but my time. The super fun part is.....I let them choose their group names. Every couple of weeks, I usually rearrange desks, then I decide how we are going to name our groups. Here is a list of ways to name groups:
The students love working together to decide on their group names, this week we are candy names like the Smarties, Lifesavers, Herseys, Poprocks, and Tootsie Rolls! 

I got those cute little chalkboards from Walmart, they are whiteboards on the back. I let each person n the group write their name on the whiteboard side. I update how many points the group has on the whiteboard too. Works like a charm to get everyone working together as a team!

Deanna


So there it is....It might be a little controversial but I made a big decision last year to switch from using composition books to binders for my students' Writer's Notebooks. 

Here was my struggle, my students wrote during writer's workshop, but often times during my mini lesson I had a list of transitions or vivid verbs......where were they to keep it? So I tried using a folder and a comp. notebook. It was just too much. Students were not using the references I gave them when they were writing.

The Writer's binder was born. Now when we get a graphic organizer, a list of transitions or have a mini-lesson on writing great grabbers, it all here in one place. They have a section for mini-lessons, seed ideas, word lists, rough drafts and published pieces. It worked like a charm! To prepare for this year, I typed up all of the resources I might need (but since it's a binder we can always add things as we go along) and I am so excited to share it with you! The cover comes editable. After you print their name on it, they can decorate it and make it their own. Last year, I did this as a home project so they could add stickers, photos, or anything they wanted.

The divider sections, I put into page protectors. Then as you need the various pages and mini-lessons you print and hand them out to add to their binders. Doing a lesson on using more adjectives in student's writing? Then add that page to their notebooks. You can get your copy by clicking on the picture:
And....just in time for Back to School, TpT is having a sale! 
Hope it's your BEST YEAR EVER!!


This morning I read this excellent article Recess Is Not A Privilege, Stop Taking It Away and it really got me thinking! So, instead of taking away recess as a punishment, what can we do? Often we think this is the only consequence that can influence kids to listen or act they way we want them to. But it doesn't work!! Sitting out at recess will not get the work done that they have been dragging their heels on in class, it won't stop the disruptive behaviors and it won't bring in the forgotten homework. But I still see this practice happening in my school, heck I even stoop to it when I get super exasperated with a kid from time to time.  So what should or can we do INSTEAD?? 

Here's what we can be doing, what is really the most effective and long term ways to deal with students. Mostly these are what we know to be "best practices" but it helps to have reminders going into a new school year!
You know this! But consistency is so important! Make sure your school has a solid behavior plan in place and stick with it. We are a PBIS school, the buy-in hasn't been easy but it is working. The one part of PBIS that I love is the refocus. If you are not familiar with refocus, it is similar to a time-out. The student leaves to reflect on his/her behavior then comes back when he or she is ready to reenter the room and return to work. It works really well. We also have a great system of rewarding kids and recognizing kids doing a great job in every area of our school. In other words, catch them doing good!
So many kids act out to get attention. They are not getting what they need at home so they are going to demand it from you at school. Sometimes it just takes a few extra minutes to touch base with them in the morning to see how they are doing, how are they feeling, start off the day on a positive note. This article about school discipline had the best quote, "we spent a lot of time trying to diagnose children by talking to each other," D'Aran says. "Now we're talking to the child and really believing the child when they say what the problems are." Every year I have students who don't do their homework because they have to either watch little brothers or sisters, go to work with mom or dad or other problems that would break your heart! Could I get upset that they don't do their homework? Yes. Should they do their homework at recess? No, it's my job to help them. I usually give them time before class begins to try and get it done. 
If a student does break a school rule, the consequences should fit the rule that was broken. The only time I have students sit at recess is when kids are fighting or arguing on the playground. Sometimes a few minutes of sitting and cooling off is what everyone needs. At my school we don't have large scale fist fights that often, that would mean immediately going to the office. But my boys argue a lot about the games they play, ie kick ball and soccer! So I showed them a few YouTube videos on how to actually play those games correctly so that everyone would know all the rules! This helped the arguing a lot.
This last one is HUGE! If you are going to draw a line in the sand, you better be prepared not to cross it. Don't get caught in the control game. If you spend more time trying to control everyone and everything, you are not going to teach your students the self-control they need to be successful in school and in life! 

Last but not least, give your students some voice and some choice. If they need to stand to work, let them. They will get more work finished. After my mini-lesson, my class works on the floor, around the room on tables, at their desks where ever they can work well. giving students choice lets them take ownership in their work and their classroom. 


I recently presented at my county's Digital Learning Conference and my topic was Student Engagement. I love technology and this was huge for me! My presentation was on some tech tools that you could use besides Kahoot!....because let's face it, we all love Kahoot! But like anything if you overuse it, it will get old. So I presented some new websites and also some old ones you might have heard of but they've added some new features. Here's a quick run down of these websites.  

Kahoot: Of course, it's awesome...but now they've added a new team feature! Kids just love this and there are thousands of public Kahoots posted. It saves so much time.

Quizlet: Also a website lots of teachers have used for a long time. It has thousands of card sets already uploaded by teachers. The newest feature though is AMAZING...they have added Quizlet Live. It's a fun quiz game that randomly puts students into groups. (My own personal children came home from school telling me how fun this was!)

Today's Meet: It is an online chat room. I have blogged about how I use this and I still love it. You can read more here.

Quizziz: This is like Kahoot, the best thing about Quizziz is that you can assign the "game" or quiz for homework and leave it open for a period of time. I love this!

Zaption: Zaption allows you to insert a variety of questions into a video clip. You just pause the video where you want to and insert your question. There are many different platforms from which you can get videos and it is so easy to use. Awesome for flipped classroom.

Nearpod: Nearpod is not new but if you've never played around with it. It is an awesome way to present a lesson. You design a slide show and you can insert a variety of ways students can respond. There are some free presentations to upload or you can also purchase pre-made ones.

Formative: Formative is a great way to assess students, one thing I loved about this is you can upload a pdf and students can answer questions right on the pdf. What a great way to reduce the amount of paper we use!

GoSoapBox: Probably one of the easiest tools to use, you can create quizzes, discussions and polls very quickly and students respond using a quick code. I use this one frequently in my classroom.

Padlet: Padlet is a great tool for students to use, it is easy to embed in your own website. Students can see each others posts. (Which they love!) I use this one when I ask my students to take a picture of something they have been working on and post it on a board.

What tech tools are you planning on using next school year?? 

 
Is this your class?? Or even your children at home?? I just can't even deal with this! We all get into our centers, I sit down with my guided reading group or math small group and out of the corner of my eye I see two students arguing over who's going to go first in a game or who's going to read first...yada yada yada.

So here's a great way to END these arguments before they even start! 

Hang this up and then each day, move the clothes pin down to a different way to choose "Who Goes First". You could even put a copy in each center or area of your room, and presto....No arguments!   

You can get your copy here

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