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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Free Item - Grade 3 Reading Response Questions

In the spirit of time management I created one question guide that addressed all of the Common Core Literature and Informational Text Standards for my grade level. The questions can be used with any text and allows the students to demonstrate their thinking and understandings.

You can download your free item at:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Grade-3-Reading-Response-Questions-Addressing-Common-Core-Standards-1018070



For more lessons and activities to engage your students visit: 
(Add your email to follow and get new updates delivered to you!) 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Survey Help Needed!

I am doing a teacher training for my EdS and I need some information on how people teach Guided Reading.  The survey is only 10 questions.  If you complete the survey I will send you borders/papers for your classroom.  Promise it won't take more than 5 minutes. 

Here is what to do: 
1. Complete the survey (no names are on the survey so just be honest please) 



3. Find a set of borders/papers you want.  

4. Reply to this email with the name of the borders you want and I will send them to you! (Sometimes school accounts won't allow a file this big, so if you have another account let me know). 


PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH ANY TEACHER FRIENDS YOU THINK WOULD WANT TO HELP ME.  THEY CAN GET FREE STUFF TOO! (Just tell them to email me at Trammell13@gmail.com saying they completed the survey and the name of the border set they want).  

Thanks for your time!  I really appreciate it! Have a fabulous day! 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Teachers Pay Teachers Sale

Teacher Pay Teachers is having a Back to School sale this weekend!  If you like any of the items I have posted or if you want to find more for your classroom, check out the BIG SALE!

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Jessica-Zannini


Guide Reading Difficulties and Solutions - Comments Needed!

I am currently working on a project for my EdS to try and develop training (fun and worth your while training) to help make the most of your Guided Reading lessons.  My goal is to try to create training that you can take and use and not make extra work.  So here is what I need from you all:

In the comments section, please answer any of these questions below:

1. What problems do you have with managing your guided reading time?

2. What strategies work in your guided reading?

3. What is the hardest for you in planning your guided reading time?

4. How do you collect reading grades?

5. How do you use technology during guided reading?

6. Other concerns, problems, or things that work for you?


Thanks in advance for all of the responses!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Getting Ready for a New School Year

Time and Money:
10 Ways to Make a Teacher Smile before Winter Break
By: Jessica Zannini



Over the summer, schools are cleaned, students relax, and teachers start planning for the new school year.  The beginning of the school year is the time to put excitement to work and start making plans to save time and money.  You will be glad you did it on those busy weeks when you need to type weekly plans, grade papers, and inspire learning. 
1. Get to know the standards: Print a copy of your standards and search the textbooks, supply closets, your cabinets, and the media center to find materials that you can get your hands on for free. For those standards that need new materials shop around for the best price or see what you can make.
2. Spending your money right: After searching for materials at the school talk with the secretary and PTA president to see what money the school will provide you for supplies.  Make a list of what you still need.  Use that school money to buy consumable products.  For those items you know you want to keep and use wherever your teaching takes you, use your own money. 
3. Shop around at the beginning of the school year: During tax-free weekends and Back to School sales you can find great deals.  Think through your school year.  Do you need class sets of colored pencils, clipboards, or markers?  It is cheaper now to stock up on paper than to buy more in January. 
4. Make copies now: For those quizzes, notes, etc that you already know you want to put in the hands of your students, go ahead and make them now.  Be sure you know you copy limit for the year.  Maybe you have a friend, family member, or parent volunteer that has access to a copier and can make some of these for you. 
5. Laminate those weekly folders and posters: Anything you know you want to keep – laminate it. Create two folders per student so that you can have fresh ones after the holiday season.  Laminate those store bought and teacher created posters so they will last over the years.  You will appreciate it the following school year when you already have one thing checked off the list.
8. Make a Wish List: Decide on materials you would like to have throughout the year such as tissues, snacks, pencils, and copy paper.  Put the list on your website.  This will eliminate shopping during the school year and help save a few dollars. 
6. Use Parent Volunteers: Create a list of help you will need throughout the school year.  For those parents that can come in during the school day have them make copies, create bulletin boards, be reading and math tutors, or study buddies.  For those parents who work full time and can’t get in the room, have them cut out laminated materials or donate supplies and snacks.  If you ask for help, the parents will come running. 
7. Let Students Choose Their Own Seats: Don’t spend time on a seating chart before you know your students.  You will learn that first day, your talkers, friends, and responsible students.  Let this information guide you in making seating charts in the future.  You may just find that the students will be able to handle this arrangement and you don’t have to make time for rearranging.  This knowledge can also be used for cooperative grouping activities.
9. Create Book Lists: Find great read alouds and have them handy.  Look in your classroom and the school media center.  What books do you already have that match standards and the interest level of your students?  Make a list for those units and standards to pull out when you teach each unit.  The media specialist can pull the books for you or students can use their research skills to find the books and place them at your fingertips.
10. Go Through Those Permanent Records: Look at past scores.  Are there students you could already plan for reviewing and strengthening skills?  Find out how you school district wants the records organized and go ahead and make sure they are accurate and have the right materials.  Some may get disorganized throughout the school year, but you will be glad this is done in May.
Side Bar:  Want to keep them on track?   Research popular songs appropriate for school and make a CD of the songs to have on hand.  Push play anytime you need to motivate the students.  This is also a great discipline tool to get students on task and working at a pace to get you through a busy day. 
Find a way to eliminate road blocks you face in a school year, and there will definitely be more time

and money. As one of my former students told me while plopping a peppermint in my hand, “Keep up

the good work and there’s more where that came from.”


Want more?  Find forms, activities, lessons, and bulletin board displays in the teacher resource: Starting the School Year Right! - http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Starting-the-School-Year-Right-Activities-Ideas-Displays-and-Forms-793167

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Year Long Writing Guide

                         

Writing is one of those subjects that is taking a backseat to math and reading.  It should be a major part of the curriculum since it is how students express themselves and demonstrate their knowledge of the standards.  Writing is the first subject I plan each year so it doesn't get overtaken by the subjects that have test scores tied to it.  Each unit is planned with Common Core Writing and ELA standards.  Then other Common Core standards are pulled into each unit.  This way several standards are able to be taught in multiple subjects.  I have created Common Core ELA guides to help organize my ELA standards.

Common Core Connections - Grade 1 
Common Core Connections - Grade 3
Common Core Connections - Grade 4

Here is my plan each year:

Weeks 1-3 - Poetry Unit - This is a great way to get students creativity flowing without having to worry about all of the rules.  Students focus more on word choice and ideas in poetry.  Poetry is also a quick and easy way to get a bulletin board up for Back to School and Open House nights. Since poetry assignments (both reading and writing) are shorter you can get grades quickly.  If you need a unit on teaching poetry check out these two:

Poetry Unit - Second Grade 

Poetry Unit - Third Grade 

Coming Soon - Upper Elementary Poetry Unit

Weeks 4-8 - Personal Narrative Unit - Writing personal narratives is an excellent way for your students to learn about you, and tell about themselves.

Unit available soon for grades 2-6 at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Jessica-Zannini


Weeks 9-15 - Fiction Narrative Writing Unit - Now that you have the ideas, word choice, and narrative organization down, it is time to combine these into a fiction narrative.  This is always a fun unit to teach and the students really enjoy being creative.  If you need a unit for writing Fiction Narratives check out:

Writer's Workshop - Fiction Narrative

Weeks 16-20 - Informational Writing - By now you have taught several science and social studies units. Create a list of these topics for students to research.  A unit will be coming soon to help you teach this topic.  However, if you are ready to teach informational writing now, read this to help get you started:

A webpage I created to help guide teachers and students in writing informational pieces.
http://nonfictionseries.weebly.com/


Weeks 21-25 - Persuasive Writing - This unit combines all of the skills taught in previous units.  It gives the students a chance to show their thoughts and feelings and support it with what they have learned.  A persuasive writing unit will be available soon at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Jessica-Zannini

Weeks 26-29 - Writing Dramas - Too often dramas (plays) get overshadowed each year.  The new Common Core standards stresses an importance on understanding dramas.  A great way to get students involved in writing dramas is to allow for performances.  To help reach all students offer a variety of ways to perform: live, videotaped, or use apps for performances (Puppet Pals and Puppet Pals 2 are great apps for those students whose fear of public speaking keeps them from showing their best.)

Weeks 30-36 - Writer's Workshop - Student Choice - Allow students to choose any of the writing genres taught this year and write what they want.  By now your students know your writing routine so the class can handle everyone being on a different page.  Plus most of the standardized testing is behind you!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ready to Write Fiction?

Are you ready to get your students motivated to write? This writer's workshop guides students through the writing process and teaches them how to plan and write a fiction story. 



This writing unit contains: 

- Daily lessons on showing emotions and actions, creating characters, 
setting, and plot, and mini-lessons on adjectives, adverbs, adding -
transitions, creating enticing beginnings and endings, using a
thesaurus, and how to use quotation marks. 
- Handouts are provided for the lessons. 
- Wall Display of all writing guides, and writing process. 
- Transition words wall display. 
- Editor's Checklist 
- A Unit Study Guide and Unit Test 
- Thesaurus Scavenger Hunt 
- Guidelines on HOW and WHEN to conference. 
- Conference Sign Up Sheet 
- Teacher Questions for Conferencing and Conferencing Tips
- Publishing Suggestions
- Suggested Books to Use for Lesson Topics
- Options for Struggling Writers 
- Suggestions for Differentiation
- Exemplars 
- Rubric for Grading 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Blogging in the Classroom with Kidblog

Want an easy way to blog with your students.  Check out Kidblog.org.  It's great for elementary students - no student email needed! 


Monday, June 10, 2013

Book Review: Here I Am by Patti Kim

If you are looking for a book to use with ESOL students and struggling writers then this is the book for you.  Here I Am  by Patti Kim is a wordless book about a boy who moves to America.  The pictures are fantastic and have a bit of graphic novel set up as there is more than one picture on the pages.  Learning to live in a new place, especially a new country is a struggle.  The main character learns that sounds, smells, and tastes have a universal language.  A definite read for all students. It is coming out September 2nd. Just in time for a new school year!

Ways to use in the classroom:
1. Use as a read aloud by having the students tell you what is happening on the pages.
2. Use with ESOL students by giving them connections to the text.  Write the words they say so they can use it to retell the story again.
3. Use with struggling writers.  Have them write what they think is happening on each page.  Discuss the parts of story, details, and message as you work with the student.
4. Put out for independent reading.  My 10-month old couldn't stop looking at the pictures!
5. After reading have students write/tell about a time they moved or tried something new.

Check out this Book Trailer

Thursday, May 16, 2013

If These Walls Could Talk

Have you ever had that walk-though observation and thought 'If only they had walked through 5 minutes earlier?'  I am sure ever teacher has had that observation where he/she wished they could stop the lesson and talk to the observer letting them know more about what is happening.

If only the walls could talk?!  Well, guess what - they can!  Let your walls do the talking.  Here are a few tips to help make your next walk-through observation a breeze:

1. Before you leave each day, be sure that you have Essential Questions, Homework, Learning Objectives, and Vocabulary listed on the board. Observers are able to clearly see what is happening throughout the day. An added bonus - your students can see it too!

2. Use sticky chart paper to record student learning.  I like to make Circle Maps of current learning for each subject.  I change my marker color each day to show the new information.  I hang these below my board so they are easy for observers to see and easy for me to reach during lessons.

3. Have student work posted with commentary that reflects the learning.  Put a post-it that gives feedback and connects to the standard.  (Example for Fractions Math Poster - Wow Kayla!  You really showed a clear understanding of adding fractions with unlike denominators in your illustration!)  This allows observers to see what students are grasping.

4. Clip a copy of your lesson plans to your board so you can hand them to the observer as you are walking through the room.

5.  You may even want to have a Notes for Observers document that tells some of the exciting things that are happening in your classroom!


I'd love to add more to this list.  What ways have you made your walls talk?

Need a Summer Review

Summer is getting closer and I am sure you all have a countdown hidden somewhere.  Some of you probably have it right out in the open on your board.  I always have parents asking for summer materials. I just found this really cool site that would be great to suggest to kids for summer math review!   Check out Johnnie's Math Page.  There are great interactive reviews to help students review or learn new math standards!

/http://jmathpage.com/


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Time and Money: 10 Ways to Make a Teacher Smile Before Winter Break!


Time and Money:
10 Ways to Make a Teacher Smile before Winter Break
By: Jessica Zannini

Over the summer, schools are cleaned, students relax, and teachers start planning for the new school year.  The beginning of the school year is the time to put excitement to work and start making plans to save time and money.  You will be glad you did it on those busy weeks when you need to type weekly plans, grade papers, and inspire learning. 
1. Get to know the standards: Print a copy of your standards and search the textbooks, supply closets, your cabinets, and the media center to find materials that you can get your hands on for free. For those standards that need new materials shop around for the best price or see what you can make.
2. Spending your money right: After searching for materials at the school talk with the secretary and PTA president to see what money the school will provide you for supplies.  Make a list of what you still need.  Use that school money to buy consumable products.  For those items you know you want to keep and use wherever your teaching takes you, use your own money. 
3. Shop around at the beginning of the school year: During tax-free weekends and Back to School sales you can find great deals.  Think through your school year.  Do you need class sets of colored pencils, clipboards, or markers?  It is cheaper now to stock up on paper than to buy more in January. 
4. Make copies now: For those quizzes, notes, etc that you already know you want to put in the hands of your students, go ahead and make them now.  Be sure you know you copy limit for the year.  Maybe you have a friend, family member, or parent volunteer that has access to a copier and can make some of these for you. 
5. Laminate those weekly folders and posters: Anything you know you want to keep – laminate it. Create two folders per student so that you can have fresh ones after the holiday season.  Laminate those store bought and teacher created posters so they will last over the years.  You will appreciate it the following school year when you already have one thing checked off the list.
8. Make a Wish List: Decide on materials you would like to have throughout the year such as tissues, snacks, pencils, and copy paper.  Put the list on your website.  This will eliminate shopping during the school year and help save a few dollars. 
6. Use Parent Volunteers: Create a list of help you will need throughout the school year.  For those parents that can come in during the school day have them make copies, create bulletin boards, be reading and math tutors, or study buddies.  For those parents who work full time and can’t get in the room, have them cut out laminated materials or donate supplies and snacks.  If you ask for help, the parents will come running. 
7. Let Students Choose Their Own Seats: Don’t spend time on a seating chart before you know your students.  You will learn that first day, your talkers, friends, and responsible students.  Let this information guide you in making seating charts in the future.  You may just find that the students will be able to handle this arrangement and you don’t have to make time for rearranging.  This knowledge can also be used for cooperative grouping activities.
9. Create Book Lists: Find great read alouds and have them handy.  Look in your classroom and the school media center.  What books do you already have that match standards and the interest level of your students?  Make a list for those units and standards to pull out when you teach each unit.  The media specialist can pull the books for you or students can use their research skills to find the books and place them at your fingertips.
10. Go Through Those Permanent Records: Look at past scores.  Are there students you could already plan for reviewing and strengthening skills?  Find out how you school district wants the records organized and go ahead and make sure they are accurate and have the right materials.  Some may get disorganized throughout the school year, but you will be glad this is done in May.
Side Bar:  Want to keep them on track?   Research popular songs appropriate for school and make a CD of the songs to have on hand.  Push play anytime you need to motivate the students.  This is also a great discipline tool to get students on task and working at a pace to get you through a busy day. 
Find a way to eliminate road blocks you face in a school year, and there will definitely be more time and money. As one of my former students told me while plopping a peppermint in my hand, “Keep up the good work and there’s more where that came from.”

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fantastic Research Day 1

I hate it has taken me 15 years to figure this out, but today was an eye opening experience.  I recently learned about the Big 6 research method.  I created a journal for my students to complete as they went through the process.  Today we did the Location and Access step of the research process.  The main thing we did the entire time was search, pull books and locate web resources.  The students were relaxed and excited about finding their materials.  In the past, this day was the day I wanted to pull my hair out! The day I wanted to change my name! The day I wanted silence after 3pm!  But not today. Today I am pumped and ready for USING the information tomorrow.


Tomorrow the students will actually sit and READ the materials they found today.  They will find a relaxing spot in the Media Center to do their research reading.  

More updates to follow!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Common Core Connection: Using Nonfiction Series In the Classroom

Need ideas on how to teach nonfiction?  Check out Nonfiction Series at:

http://nonfictionseries.weebly.com/

When You Reach Me: Book Review and Teaching Ideas



When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is the first book that as soon as I finished the last page, I turned back to page one and started reading it all over again.

It's sixth grade and Miranda is discovering life without her best friend, Sal.  He no longer wants to be her friend and she is faced with the challenge of making new friends, navigating past the laughing man on the street corner alone, and discovering why things must change.

I haven't enjoyed reading a book this much in a while.  When You Reach Me is the kid of book that sticks with you, runs through your mind, and makes you think.  I can't wait to use this book to teach.

For more information check out: http://www.rebeccasteadbooks.com/

Create a year long unit with this book in mind to meet all of the needs of Common Core standards.  Pairing When You Reach Me with A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle and several nonfiction texts on New York City, the seventies, and science will meet the needs of all Literature and Information Text standards.  




Why I Teach?!?

There are times (especially when I get my paycheck) that I question "Why do I teach?"  Why did I choose a job that follows me home, wakes me at night, and has me reviewing the day as I shower, dry my hair, and drive to work.

Each and every time I question my choice, I get to school and find the answer, in the "I Got It!" moments, the smiles, and my coworkers.

A few years ago in the middle of independent reading, I had one of my best moments.  It was the first week of school and I was setting up the procedure of independent reading.  When I do this I have all students reading at the same time (later in the year this changes), and as they are reading, I model by reading as well.  One student was having difficulty staying focused and kept talking to his neighbor.  I had corrected him once and on the second occurrence asked him to return to his seat.

He came up to me with something in his hand and held it out for me to take.  I hesitated, not 100% sure what was being placed in my hand, but curiosity won over and I held my hand out for the "gift."  Into my palm dropped a peppermint.  The student smiled up at me and said, "Keep up the good work teaching, and there's more where that came from."

And that is why I teach.  

Keeping It All Together: A Long Range Planning Guide for ELA Common Core





                                                           



                                                  





Using Choice Boards

How do you motivate and meet the needs of all students in assessing Common Core standards?  Choice Boards and Menus are great ways to do both!

Choice Boards and Menus allow for you to design authentic assessments that allow teachers to  differentiate, meet the needs of all learning styles, and motivate students to give their best.

In working on the Choice Boards and Menus below, my students were excited from the moment I handed out the assignments.  The energy in the classroom was amazing.  Once I discussed the choices and allowed them to start, I could see the wheels turning and the results were astounding!

In a world where information literacy is a must, the students showed me that not only had they gained new information, but they were able to USE the information as well.




Tips for Creating Choice Boards and Menus: 
1. Use your top row of choices or your first item on the menu for your easiest options.
2. Check to be sure that each column or menu course has an option for various learning styles.
3. Be creative.  Incorporate current trends into your choices.  (Ex: Write a graphic book, write a song using the tune of a popular song).

Jazz It Up With Fun Borders

Are you looking for borders to use to jazz up your bulletin boards.  Here are a few options I created for my classroom.  You can purchase these at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Jessica-Zannini

















Thursday, March 21, 2013

Close Reading


Need a way to spice up your reading lessons?  Want to get your students engaged in the text they are reading?  Well, check out Close Reading!  This is a fantastic strategy to motivate your readers, and give purpose to their reading.

Close reading will guide your students to using reading strategies that are important in them becoming lifelong readers and learners and in teaching to the Common Core standards! This is a great strategy to use for guided reading groups and for independent work.

A quick peek at how to use:
Guided Reading Group:
Use pages you are currently reading.  If students own copies or have eBooks, then let them write and highlight in the book.  If they are school or library copies, use Post-It notes.  An example for reading Bridge to Teribithia:
1.  Let's read pages  106-107. As you read, I want you to write or highlight words and phrases that you think are important or inspiring.
2.  Share and discuss the words. You can create a chart of these words to document the groups responses.
3. Now let's read the same pages again, but this time let's read these pages and think: "Why do you think the author has Jess go back and remember his day in Washington and conversations he had with Leslie?
4. Read one more time and look for figurative language.  Ask, "What examples of figurative language do the author use on these pages?  Why do you think the author used these examples?



Independent Work: See Slides Below







Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Authentic Assessment: Measurement Olympics

Need a way to motivate your students to show what they know about Common Core Measurement standards?  Check out Common Core Connections: Measurement Olympics.

Included:
1. A choice board with 9 different measurement activities
2. A follow-up graphing lesson
3. A list of materials needed
4. List of 3rd Grade Common Core standards addressed in the lesson.



Also meets some second and fourth grade measurement standards.  This is a great tool to differentiate and extend and review standards.

Need Pictures?!

Are you looking for good pictures to use in student presentations that you can use copyright free?  Well, the answer is right in front of you!  Take the pictures yourself!  Take your camera everywhere with you and start creating your own collection.  Encourage your students and their families to donate pictures for the class to use as well.  You can create lists togethers of habitats, animals, having fun, etc.  Take pictures at recess, field trips, on a trip down the hall.  "Hire" student photographers for the week and have the students take pictures while they are at school.  You can download these photos once a week to the class collection.


I started my own collection recently and I am able to use my pictures without the fear of copyright laws or citing sources.  Above are a few that I added to my plants collection.

To help save memory and make the pictures portable for your students, buy a few flash drives for use in the classroom, media center, and computer lab!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Testing on the Horizon

It is the time of the school year when testing starts lurking in the future.  You are stressed, the day is drawing nearer and it seems that everything you have taught your students throughout the year has jumped right from their brains.  Rest assure that they will do fine.  Here are a few tips to help review before the big day:

1. Review Testing Skills
- covering answers to see if you can answer first
- highlight important words
- highlight the answer in the text
- showing all of your work
- read the questions first

2. Review Types of Questions
- Check out online sample questions and review with your students.  This gives them the chance to ask questions.

3. Give Out "Smart" Pencils
- I like to give students a smart pencil at this time of the year.  The students study with their smart pencil.  They tell the answers to the smart pencil so that on testing day the pencil knows the answers too!

4. Stock Up On Snacks!

5. Plan Fun Learning Activities
- Do something fun after testing to engage your students.  (Play learning games, set up economy store, write reader's theaters, have students design math games.)


Getting Ready For Testing

This is the time of the year that I find myself reviewing the year and beginning to think how I will change things and make them better for the next year.  Testing season is quickly approaching and I worry if I gave my students every tool they need in order to be successful.  I want to be able to know that I have taught everything by this time of year and know who mastered each standard.  I created a guide for each grade K-6 to use to help assist with long-range planning and reflection.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Rocks and Minerals Labs

A great way to manage your rocks and minerals unit is to group your students.  This will help make your experiments a little more manageable and allow you the opportunity to have great discussions with your groups.  But what to do with your other groups?

How about:
1. Finding great rocks and minerals webpages for them to explore.
2. Create Rocks and Minerals choice boards.
3. Play Vocabulary and Review Games.


The experiments are what will help the students remember the skills.  Let them explore and ask questions. Create lab guides to help guide their thinking as they work through the scientific process.

Book Review - Baby Mouse for President

What a great way to kick off you democracy unit or student council elections! Baby Mouse for President by Jennifer L. Holm  is a winner with humor, wit, and great graphics. I'm sure your class will run to the library to check out the rest of the series! An excellent read for your students who need a little motivation.