Monday, September 24, 2012

Using Music in the Classroom

This link list some songs for the classrroom.  Mr. Vasicek has another article on Scholastic that tells how music can be used.  Music is a powerful classroom tool. Don't use the music videos.  Just use the music.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

Rainbow Edit

Rainbow Edit:

Every paragraph should be a RAINBOW

after you check it over!

Red – Capitals – all capitals! Beginning of sentences and proper nouns

Orange – Periods or end punctuation marks

Yellow – Indent – highlight the blank spot at the front of EACH paragraph

Green – Topic Sentence – underline it

Blue – Details – add more adjectives, add more information – where do you want to add more?

Purple – Check your spelling. Any words you aren’t sure about? Look it up using spell check on the computer or ask a neighbor to help.


It's pretty self explanatory - it has to be for 4th graders. Basically last year I was fed up with kids saying they did the editing process, when really they didn't. This system made them check each paragraph and color code it (which they loved). When they finished editing, they would show me, and it turned into a quick glance to see that they really did check things over before the final draft. In my classroom I only grade the final drafts, so the quick glance was my way of making sure they were reminded to do their best before the official grade. 

As for using spell check on the computers... well, I wanted my students to show independence instead of asking me to spell words - not the words that they should know how to spell, but the longer vocabulary/synonym type words that they were expanding their horizons with. I just pulled up a word document on the student computers, and they typed it in. It did the normal things that we associate with spell check - a red line if it's spelled incorrectly, and I taught them to right click on the word to get different spelling options. They then had to figure out the correct spelling and write that word on a separate paper in their writing folders. The correctly spelled words stayed on that word document for the entire writing time, so students could see the other words and gather ideas. Their word lists became longer, and I was a happy camper conferencing with students instead of spelling words.  

Check out Emily's blog.  She has some great things!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Free Reading Sites

These are two more free
reading websites.  Give
them a try and let me
know what you think about them.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Owl Moon

Check out this site for the orginal post and links that are "hot"   I love her use of Kagan structures. My school is currently attending Kagan training.  SOOO exciting!

Featured Book Friday: Owl Moon June 23, 2011

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
If you’ve ever looked forward to a special day with your father, this story will bring back the thrill that only a young child knows. Written in the voice of a girl who is going “owling” with her father late one night, the beautiful pictures and language in this story put you into the forest as you hear your “feet crunch over the crisp snow” with “heat in your mouth from all the words that are not spoken”. You’ll see the “black shadows stain the white snow”, and “feel someone’s icy palm run down (your) back” as you listen for the whoo-whoo-who-who-who-whoooo under an owl moon.
~Teacher Stuff blog review written by Emily Stout
FREEBIE: You can download some lesson resources for this book by clicking here:
Curriculum Connections
by Emily Stout
  • Comprehension strategy: Visualizing
  • Author as Mentor: write using 5 senses
1. Read the story Owl Moon to your class. I recorded myself reading this book ahead of time, and I used sound effects to help the students visualize the story better. For example, the story says, “A farm dog answered the train, and then a second dog joined in.” (Click the sentence and download “Owl Moon snippet” to hear a part of the recording.) I used sound effects to give the story the same eerie feeling of a forest late at night. has a great collection of free sound effects. (I would share my recording with you, but I believe that would break copyright laws.) If you have older students, you can let them make a recording of the book using sound effects. (I recommend Garage Band–it is the easiest way for you or your students to record books.)
2. This story is full of beautiful language that paints a picture in your mind. Use ‘Round Table Consensus‘ (See Kagan Structures below) to sort the words and phrases from this story into 5 senses. The “Visualizing with 5 Senses” cards (print from link above) has sentences and phrases from the story your students can use.
3. Once your students have spent time sorting the language used in Owl Moon, they can use the author, Jane Yolen, as a mentor to write their own poem focusing on the strategy of visualizing. Have students write about a time that they went camping, swimming, or did something outside. Have each team agree on an outdoor event to write about, then use the structure “Jot Thoughts” (see Kagan Structures below) to help students brainstorm good visualizing words and phrases to put in their poem. First have students use their sticky notes from “Jot Thoughts” to create a team poem, then have students write their own individual poem.
  • Kagan Structures
- Round Table Consensus:
1. Each team needs a “Visulizing with 5 Senses” sorting mat and Owl Moon cards.
2. The first person takes one card, reads it aloud, and decides where it goes on the sorting mat.
3. Teammates show a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to show if they agree or disagree. If there are any thumbs-down, the team needs to discuss the answer. If the team cannot agree, everyone raises a hand so the teacher can help.
4. When the team agrees on the answer, it is the next person’s turn to draw a card.
-Jot Thoughts Poem:
1. Each team needs sticky notes for each person.
2. As a team, decide which topic you are going to focus on i.e. camping, swimming, etc.
3. When the teacher starts the timer, write as many visualizing sentences or phrases as your can about your topic. Write one phrase or sentence for each sticky note. Try to cover the table with your ideas. Use all 5 senses.
4. When your time is up, use the ‘Round Robin’ structure to read all the ideas your team came up with.
5. Arrange your sentences in an order that sounds pleasing.
Example: Camping
Crickets chirping
stars sparkling in the sky.
The hot dry smoke
burns my eyes when I
squeeze them shut.
Marshmallows puff out
their cheeks
as the orange fire dances under them
turning their fat white
cheeks brown.
The spongy center doesn’t
always slide off the stick
when I pull the soft, gooey filling
into my mouth. Yum!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Twig Books: A Novel Novelty

Twig Books: A Novel Novelty  


Super easy directions: Find a twig and cut some paper to match. Hole punch two holes. "Line up the twig with the holes, wrap the rubber band around the top of the twig, and then string it through the top hole. Stretch the rubber band down the back of the book. Then string it through the bottom hole, toward the front of the book, and around the bottom of the twig" (from Playful Learning, p. 52).
These images came from Crafty Crow (a fabulous children's craft site)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Red Solo Cup

Plastic Cup

4 Easy Classroom Management Strategies

A set of plastic cups is an amazingly versatile classroom management tool.

You’ll need several colors for each strategy, but buying the cups is a one-time

investment. You only need one of each color per team, so you can buy the

cups in bulk and share the expense with several teachers.


For each team, you’ll need one cup of each color. Green, yellow, and red work well, but

you can substitute other colors if these are not available. For a seasonal twist, buy holiday

cups to use at special times of the year. Stack the cups upside down in the middle of the

team so that only one color is showing. Designate a different Team Captain each day who

is the only team member allowed to touch the cups. It’s best not to mix and match the

strategies below because students may become confused about what the colors represent.

1. Noise Management

Suggested Colors: Green, Yellow, Red

Directions: Use green to show the noise level is acceptable, switch to yellow if the group is

a little noisy, and place the red cup on top if the team is too loud. If you have to place the

red cup is on top, the team must get quiet for one minute before continuing with their

activity. (Or you can substitute another consequence of your choice.)

2. Ready Signal

Suggested Colors: Yellow and Green

Directions: When starting a cooperative learning activity, have the Team Captains place the

yellow cups on top. When the whole team has completed the given task, each Team

Captain places the green cup on top as a signal that their team is ready to move on. A quick

glance around the room will let you know who is ready and who may need help.

3. Team Questions

(submitted by Christine Sardinia)

Suggested Colors: Green, Yellow, Red

Directions: When students are working in teams, have them place the green cup on top to

show that they are working fine without problems or questions. If they have a question but

it’s not urgent, they place the yellow cup on top. If they have a question that must be

answered before they can continue, they place the red cup. This works well because when

you are circulating through the room, you can easily monitor team progress.

4. Teacher Availability

(submitted by Allyson Estes)

Suggested Colors: Red and Green

Directions: When conferring with one student or working with a

small group, place a cup nearby to signal your availability to other

students. A red cup on top means that you are not available to

answer questions unless it’s an absolute emergency. If the top cup is

green, students may approach you and ask questions.

Thanks to Christine and Allyson for sharing their plastic cup management strategies!

© 2010 by Laura Candler ~ Teaching Resources ~

Monday, September 10, 2012

Laura Candler's Cooperative Learning Resources

Laura Candler has some great resources on her site.

Laura Candler's
Cooperative Learning Resources
What children can do together today, they can do alone tomorrow.
~ Lev Vygotsky, 1962

Cooperative learning is a powerful teaching strategy that's more than just a passing fad. Research has shown that when implemented properly, students in cooperative learning classrooms outperform their peers in traditional classrooms. The key is knowing how to implement the strategies to foster interaction while making sure all students are held accountable. Dr. Spencer Kagan developed the "structural" approach to cooperative learning, and I've found it to be extremely effective. I highly recommend his book Cooperative Learning which is available from Below are some cooperative learning pages on my site that you might find helpful.

Cooperative LearningCooperative Learning Pages

Featured Cooperative Learning Freebies

Friday, September 7, 2012

Meeting Etiquette

This was written by Dr. Stacia Levy

What are some common mistakes in business meeting etiquette for students to know and how can they be avoided?

  1. 1

    Not Being Prepared

    Not dressing correctly, not knowing what the meeting is really about, and not bringing important documents or handouts are common concerns. I’ve seen fellow committee members ask to borrow pens and necessary handouts sent out beforehand—these are materials that professionals should have with them. Such lack of preparation creates a poor impression and wastes the time of other participants. The problem can be addressed by preparing each evening and/or morning before a meeting: think about what will happen at the meeting, who will be there, how to dress, and what to take with you.
  2. 2

    Not Focusing on the Meeting

    There is a lot of inattentive behavior at meetings, the American attention span being notoriously short: cell phones ringing, participants texting under the table, whispering and off-topic conversation between members, etc. Some of this is just human behavior, but avoid excesses in these areas. Turn off your cell phone for the duration of the meeting, skim through the agenda and other handouts, listen attentively to the conversation, and contribute to it. Participants who do this enough will be noted for their strong group participation.
  3. 3


    Although friendliness and some humor are almost always appropriate and welcome, avoid excesses in these areas. I once was on a school committee in which two of the group members apparently saw the weekly meetings as an occasion to try out their comedy routines. I began to dread going as nothing got done as everyone who spoke up on committee business was interrupted with joking. Others apparently felt the same way as I about the time drain, and the committee disbanded not long after—too bad, as it had the important mission of strengthening standards of ESL classes. Other nonprofessional behavior to be avoided includes extreme emotion: if you really feel you can’t control your anger or tearfulness, it might be best to excuse yourself from the meeting. Excessive complaining about the organization and its clients is also unprofessional and a drag on the committee, affecting attendance and commitment to the committee. Don’t be the committee killer!
  4. 4

    Lack of Respect for Committee Members and Mission

    All of these rules could probably be summed up in the reminder to respect the committee, its reason for being, and the people who serve on it. It’s very common for a committee to take on a life its own and for its participants to get so caught up in the attendance of the meetings and their routines that the overall mission gets forgotten. By staying focused on what the committee’s mission is, what you can do toward the mission each day, or week, or month, you can begin to shift the focus back to where it belongs: the critical purposes of the committee and how you and your colleagues fit within that purpose and what that means about how you relate to fellow committee members. So, for example, if I am focusing on the committee and its purpose, I won’t get tempted to be pulled into my colleague’s complaint session and will gently remind her, “Where on the agenda are we? Oh, yes. Let’s hear what our speaker has to say.”
Meetings are abundant in our lives as educators.  Do you think these could apply to us as well?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Jumping up and down excited I am so excited to find this site. Great stuff!!! Head over to her website and checkout this post. All of her links are hot so it is easier to navigate there. Web 2.0 For Everyone Over the summer, I have trained teachers to use a variety of Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. I wanted to share some of my favorites. I have blogged about a lot of them, but you really should check out some of the sites to use in your classroom this year. Some of them will help you organize both your classroom and home life, while some of them are special sites for the kiddos to use. Over the course of this year, I will share how these can be used in the classroom in more depth, but I wanted to go ahead and share the list so you could do some exploring! Organization Tools • (bookmark 7 websites for your students to use easily) • (organize your home page) • (organize and track your classroom library) • (manage classroom behavior digitally) Bookmarking Tools • (create online binders) • (bookmark favorite sites and access from anywhere) • (need I say more?) Creation Tools • (create videos using digital photos) • (animate digital photos to create a movie with music) • (create word clouds) • (make presentations more engaging) • (make pictures talk) • (create comic books) • (digital storytelling for elementary students) • (create videos) • (post information to a virtual bulletin board) • (create posters online) • (interactive timelines) • (many lesson plans and interactive tools for students) Planning Tools • (lesson plans) • (find videos, lesson plans, interactive games, and more) • (videos to flip the classroom or tutor students) Collaboration/Sharing Tools • (Facebook for the classroom) • (upload videos or pictures to share and receive comments) • (tweet classroom information) • (share documents, pictures, videos, etc. with colleagues) • (create an online bulletin board for students to answer questions) • (share everything) All of these tools are awesome and FREE! Some of them you don't even have to create an account to use. This makes them simple to implement in the classroom. I hope you can find at least one to use this year! Make sure to check out This is definitely one of my favorites!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


How to Make Sure Your Reading Lesson Sticks: 9 Fun and Easy Activities with Post-Its

Reading is one of the most important aspects of most English language teaching programs,

but it can also be one of the toughest for you and your students.

Preparing for, understanding and assessing reading can all be a challenge. Even great reading

activities can be simple, however. Here are 9 ideas you can use in your reading program that require

nothing more than some sticky notes. Not only that, they are fun and easy, too!

Try These 9 Fun and Easy Activities with Post-Its

1.       1

Questions While Reading

Asking questions while reading can be one of the greatest aids to understanding a passage, either at home or in class. For ESL students, though, questions can become a juggernaut making the end of the reading unreachable. Students may become frustrated, and if they had finished the selection some of their questions may have been answered by the remainder of the article. To help your students over this hurdle, give each student several post-its to use as he reads. When he has a question about the passage or finds himself confused, have him write the question on the post-it and stick it near the place he had the question and continue reading. Then, when he has reached the end of the passage, have him return to his notes and see if any of his questions were answered. Any remaining questions, he brings to a reading group of three or four and asks his classmates if they know the answers. Collect any questions that remain after the discussion groups and talk about them as a class. Your students will eventually have all of their questions answered. Through this activity, your students will also recognize that having questions as you read is okay, and that the questions are often answered by the end of the reading selection.

2.       2

Vocabulary Preview

Before you introduce a new set of reading vocabulary to your students, see what they already know or can decipher about the given set of words. Write the new vocabulary on the board and have groups of three or four students copy each word on to its own post-it. Then ask the students to sort the words in a way that seems logical to them. They can use the knowledge they already have of the words, word roots, or part of speech endings. If possible, have them sort the words on the inside of a file folder, and can keep the words sorts until after the reading is complete. Then, once they have read the words in context and learned what they mean from the reading selection, have the same groups resort the same set of words. Most likely, they will decide on a different sorting logic after learning the meaning of the words.

3.       3

Comprehension Check

You can use post-its to check your students’ reading comprehension as well as teach them how to write a summary. Break your class into groups of four to six students, and assign a reading selection to the group. Once everyone has completed the selection, have your students close their books, and give each person three post-it notes. On each of these notes, each person writes one event or piece of information from the reading selection. Encourage your students to write the most important events, and check to make sure everyone has some understanding of what they have read by reading the notes. Then, the groups of students come together and put all their post-its in sequential order. They will find it challenging to remember all the events in the reading selection. Once the events are in order, you can show your students how to write a summary from the main points they chose from the story. Your students will not become bogged down in the details of the story when they write from their own highlights!

4.       4

Reading Cloze

You can also use the smallest post-its to create a cloze exercise for your students. Type out a reading passage in a large font, and use the small post-its to cover every fifth word. (Note: you may have to adjust the spacing of the words to make the post-its fit.) Then, challenge your students to write an appropriate word on each post-it to complete the passage. They can check to see if their words match the original words by looking underneath the post-it, but any word which logically and grammatically completes the blank would be an acceptable answer.

5.       5

KWL Board

If you use KWL charts (Know, Want to Know, and Learned) with your students before reading a new reading selection, try this variation, which uses post-it notes. Instead of having students complete individual charts, have them write what they know about a given topic on post-it notes – one idea on each note. As a student completes a note, announce to the class what is on the note and stick it to your board. As your students hear what their classmates know, they may remember facts of their own. Continue until everyone has written down all of their ideas and you have posted them. In effect, your class will be brainstorming everything they know about the day’s topic, but the simple addition of sticky notes will make the activity more energetic and entertaining. Once the first part of the activity is done, have students write down any questions they might have about the topic of the day on separate post-it notes. (Use a different color note, again one note per idea.) Follow the same procedure as you did with the first part. After your class reads their selection, have them write things that they learned on a third color of post-it. These go on the board, too. When what a student learned answers one of the questions from the second part of the activity, post the third note next to the question note.

6.       6

Book Reviews

Keep a supply of post-its near your classroom library. When a student completes a book from the library, he writes a one sentence review of the book on a post-it note. He can write what he liked, what he didn’t, or any other thoughts he has after reading the book. Then, when your other students are choosing their next books, they can read the review that the first reader wrote. After this second person finishes the book, she writes her own review and sticks it in the front of the book. The reading and reviewing continue in this manner, and by the end of the school year, you will have a deep understanding of which books are working for your class and which aren’t. Moreover, your students will have peer feedback at their fingertips when it is time to choose a new book.

7.       7

Quick Questions

You can get your students to think critically as they read by placing post-it notes in your classroom library books. Write several sticky notes for each book that you have in your classroom, and ask questions such as these: What do you think will happen next? Did the main character make the right decision? What advice would you give the character? Then, place these notes strategically in your classroom books. When a student comes across one of the notes during his or her reading, he answers the question on a separate post-it note, writes the page number on which he found the question, and sticks the note to the cover of the book. You can then check your students’ comprehension by simply looking at the covers of their books and their answers to your quick questions.

8.       8

Step by Step Summary

For students who may have a difficult time writing a summary of a large reading selection or chapter book, they can use post-it notes to write a summary as they read. Simply have students stop at the end of each chapter and write one sentence on a post-it summarizing what happened in that chapter. Then, at the end of the book, the student takes all the notes and puts them together to complete a summary of the entire novel.

9.       9

Read Aloud Comments

If you find your students either interrupting you or giving you blank stares when you read to the class, you can use post-it notes to make a smoother and more effective read aloud experience. Whenever a student has a comment or question while you are reading to the class, he writes in on a post-it note. He can then stick the post-it to the front board once your reading session is over. You can then answer the question for the whole class or write a reply post-it to that specific student. If you are looking for feedback from all of your students, you can also hand out post-it notes to everyone after you are finished reading and have everyone write something that confused them, something that they thought was interesting, or something that they thought of as you were reading.

The best classroom activities do not have to be complicated.

And what could be easier than keeping a few sticky notes in strategic places in your classroom? You will have a better read on what your students like and what they understand, and they will feel like they are being heard when you use these understated sheets of paper to open the channels of communication in your class!


Monday, September 3, 2012

ELA CCSS from Kansas Dept of Ed

Open this link to see a great picture of how the CCSS ELA section is set up.  I was interested to see the section on how to document the CCSS in lesson plans.  We have been asked about that in the trainings.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My Favorite Three Minutes of Television

Lucy wants Ricky to learn "perfect" English. 
Then he encounters the "ough" spelling. 
Teachers of reading, I hope this brings
you pleasure and laughter!