Monday, November 30, 2015

Classroom Management Tip #3 : Being Consistent and Fair

Last week, I talked to you about how to create structure and routine to properly manage your classroom.  This week, I want to look at being consistent and fair.

Now being consistent is obviously easier said than done. But it's so important. It means that you have to work hard and be organized ahead of time to ensure that you can be ready and deliver.

Consistency will win you the race in the long run.

If you're implementing a system where students can simply go to the washroom during work time as long as they write their name on the board, but then Johnny simply goes whenever he wants and you're not consistently making sure he's doing it right, then others will start following Johnny's example because it's easier.

If you want students to walk in the hallways quietly and you've practice this but there's that one time that you're late for an assembly and you simply allow them to walk while talking to the gym, then students will think it's not that important to you and start talking a lot more in the hallways. You're back at square one and gotta start all over again.

If you always check students homework in the morning and expect them to have their homework out and ready for you by 9am, but you're always late doing it, then you can't expect students to actually have their homework out for you. They've learned they don't need to!

You're not consistent, and that brings you right back to square one.  And we don't want to go back to square one! You've spent a lot of time practicing these routines with your students, so make sure you keep on being consistent throughout the year. Use an alarm system if you need to (seriously, I used alarms on my phone ALL the time for stuff like this! It worked beautifully!)

And be fair.  Fair doesn't mean equal, but remember, to students eyes, it's all about perception. If Nick feels like you're always getting mad at him for not having his homework out at 9am but yet, Alex does it and you don't even bat an eye, you're going to have issues on your hands with Nick.

Be consistent, be fair and it'll be great!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Classroom Management Tip #2 : Implementing Structure & Routine

Last week, I talked about how important it is to build relationships with your students for proper classroom management. You can read more about it here.

This week, I want to talk about implementing structure and routine in your day.

Think about it for a second. Imagine your students walking into your classroom. Johnny walks over to Alex, Nicky and Ron and starts chit chatting about their hockey game last night. Jennifer, Jill and Joanne start moaning about the latest TV show. Roxy starts reading her book. You want to begin your day, but you must first wait for them to be quietly in their seats. So you make a noise to get their attention. Joanne notices but she's too enthralled into what Jill is saying to shush the rest of her group. You make another noise and Joanne starts going back to her seat, but all while she's still talking. Johnny's group starts to dissipate as well but they're having issues stopping their conversation right at that point. Roxy is still blissfully reading. Finally, you get them at their seats and quiet but now you have to get Roxy's attention, since she had been in the zone and not paying attention to anything. By the time you get to start your lesson, 3 minutes has gone by (and that's quick!)

3 minutes x 3 times a day x 5 days a week = 30 minutes a week wasted on waiting for students.

Not only is this precious classtime wasted, but it's also showing students that they can continue chatting and/or reading for those 3 minutes before they really have to listen to you. Not a good combination.

So how can we change this?

By doing the same thing all the time. This is the power of structure and routine.

Now picture this : The bell rings and Johnny walks in your classroom. He says hi to Alex and might make a comment about the hockey game last night but walks over to his desk and immediately starts working. Roxy never even opens her book and Joanne, Jill and Jennifer talk in the hallway and when they enter your classroom, they promise to keep the conversation going at recess. Within a minute, everyone is at work. Because they know what to do and they know what's expected of them.

Now this isn't as easy as simply giving them work to do and then thinking they'll do it.  Nope, sorry, not that easy.

That first month of school, you will be continuously practicing. Practicing how to enter your classroom and getting to work. Showing them what needs to be done. Showing them how NOT to do it (students always love this) and then practicing again and again and again.

I always scheduled my class the same way :

First thing when they walked in, they worked on their Weekly Paragraph. Every. Single. Day. They simply knew what we were going to do and they did it.

After morning recess, we worked on our Number of the Day. Again, same thing, every day. After lunch, we did silent reading & literature circles and after last recess, I read to the students.

Every time my students walked in my classroom, they simply knew what we were going to do and that routine simply made things work smoothly.

There's so much more I can write on this subject, so I promise more blog posts are coming! But for now, think of all those transition times and how you can make them smoother for your students by doing the same thing over and over again. You'll be amazed at the results!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Classroom Management Tip #1 : Fostering and Nurturing Relationships

Last week, I talked about why I got rid of my behaviour chart and why I'm begging you to do the same! You can read more about that here.

For the next 3 weeks, I'm going to bring you my 3 no-fail tips to have the absolute best classroom management. It takes work, but trust me, the benefits are very worth it! When you have a classroom that still behaves and has fun the week before Christmas, or the week before the end of the school year, you will know that all your hard work paid off!

My first tip is probably my most important. Because without it, none of the other tips will work. They'll help, but they won't really achieve what's important in your classroom.

Because in your classroom, you don't want students to simply sit and listen and maybe learn.  You wan them to be engaged, you want them to take charge of their learning and you want them to be curious little souls.

My first tip? Foster and nurture relationships with them.

That means showing them that you love them for exactly who they are. Because every student is perfect just the way they are.  They might have behaviours that aren't ap. preciated, but they need to know that you, the teacher, cares truly about them.

How can you show them this?

It all depends on the students, but one of the easiest ways is to be present.  When students are coming into your classroom in the morning, be there, at the door or in the hallway. Greet them, talk to them about their night or their morning. Be interested in what they're interested in by asking questions and letting them talk. Smile.

At lunch time, take 5 minutes to sit down with a couple of students and chat with them. At the end of the day, wish each and every one of them a wonderful evening.

Take 2 minutes out of your day to talk to that student that gives you a headache each day. But truly talk to them. Ask them what they enjoy doing, or their favourite TV show or sport to play. Whatever. Just don't talk shop. Don't start talking to them about their behaviour or what they can do to improve. Don't talk to them about their potential or how you know that today can be a better day than yesterday.

Be genuine, be real, be affectionate (in a proper teacher-relationship way) and really build those relationships.

Because when students love you, they'll do anything for you.

Stay tuned for my next tip : Implementing Structure & Routine

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Please! Get Rid of that Behaviour Chart!

My 4th year of teaching, I found an amazing chart.  One that I thought was going to change the way I taught forever!

You guessed it, it was a Coloured Behaviour Chart. I made it myself, with 7 coloured squares. Everyone started on the middle green square and could either move up or down throughout the day depending on the choices they made.

Sounds good in theory. Students are responsible for their own actions, they were made accountable for those actions by their placement on this chart.  To make it more enticing, every square represented a point (1 through 8) and at the end of the day, you added your number to a class list. When you reached a certain amount of points, you received a reward.  There were also class-wide rewards for when everyone reached a certain amount of points.

It was awesome.

Or so I thought. 

Imagine having a behaviour chart in the staff lounge, where your boss could move you up or down depending on various circumstances.  Would you like to see your pin moved down? How would you feel as a teacher? Would you hold your head up high and feel proud and happy?

Every child is perfect the way they are, and it's not by moving them up or down that we change their behaviour (if we so desire).  That chart simply acts as a tracking tool, but it doesn't foster nurturing relationships that students crave.  It doesn't allow students to grow in your classroom. It airs out their dirty laundry and that's just not right.

So please, do yourself a favour and throw that behaviour chart out! Just throw it away! Don't give it to another teacher (like I did! Oops! I majorly regret that one) but throw it out. You don't need it and your students certainly don't need it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Tricks & Treats: A Halloween Blog Hop and Giveaway!

Its my favourite time of year! Leaves are brightening our world, bugs have disappeared, cool but sunny days are in the forecast and the holidays are right around the corner! So what's a gal to do to celebrate this wonderful time of year? Participate in an amazing blog hop and giveaway with a few other TpT Authors and friends! 

Last year, I took my students on a field trip around the school. We visited each classroom, and were able to see everyone's costumes. It was a lot of fun, and my students loved showing off their costumes as well.

Then, when we went back to the classroom, I whipped out this Halloween Writing Activity, where students simply write about their favourite Halloween costume and justify their answer. We discussed options at first, and really dived into the *why*. I love developing their critical thinking! 

I always have a page protector glued onto each locker and students will decorate and add their finished text to this page protector to decorate the hallways and showcase their work. This turned into a whole-school activity as other classrooms wanted to come and read what my students wrote and see if anyone thought their costume was the best! 

Click here (or the image) to be able to download your Halloween Writing Activity for free! I have both Canadian/UK as well as US spelling included (because I use the word favourite/favorite!)

I told you this blog hop and giveaway was amazing! Not only do you get tips and tricks, you also have a chance to win one of 4 TpT $25 Gift Cards! How amazing is that!

Entering is simple! The rafflecopter is below, but you need my secret word to enter! My secret word is Skeleton! Fingers crossed!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now don't forget to keep on going and "haunt over" to our next wonderful blogger, I Heart Grade 3 for her tips, tricks and secret word!

Want to add even more educational fun to your Halloween day? Check out my Halloween Close Reading Poetry and Writing Activity

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Classroom Habitudes : Week 4

Last week is upon us!  I can't believe how quickly these past 4 weeks have gone by and how much I enjoyed reading this book.  If you're looking for a great book for your own professional development, I strongly suggest Classroom Habitudes: Teaching Habits and Attitudes for 21st Century Learning!

Need to catch up? No worries! You can read week 1 hereweek 2 here and week 3 here.

This week, we read about Passion and Adaptability. The passion chapter really got me thinking about my own passions.  It got me thinking about how to help my students understand about passion, and start thinking about their own passion and how it can and will influence their life.

There are a lot of thought-provoking questions in this chapter to help you understand your passion, and Maïers strongly suggests you use the questionnaire yourself to discover who you really are, what your passions are and what you can really do.  Questions like "When I..., it gives me a deep satisfaction and sense of accomplishment".For me, there are two that come to mind : when I cook and when I help others. 

The handout, A Passion Detector, is available for you to download here.

The last habitude according to Maïers is Adapability.  Adaptability is the ability to cope with change. This habitude is huge.  The way you approach and handle adapability can greatly influence your life. Think about technology (an example she brings up in the book), think about all the wonderful tools it brings us and whether or not you adapt to use them positively in your classroom.

I really do love the way Maïers organized the book to give us the play by play to introduce all these habitudes to our students. In her 3 lessons, she really has students thinking and then stepping outside of the box in terms of adaptability, how to turn those "yeah, buts" into "yes, hows." Instead of saying Good idea, but... let's say Wow, that could be very cool or Yes, and... 

If you are reading this blog post, I know that you are looking for ways to inspire your students, to prepare your students, to change your students' lives. The first step is up to you! Believe in your passion, believe in yourself and your skills, bring that to your classroom and you will succeed!

I'll leave you with one last quote from Angela Maïers.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Classroom Habitudes : Week 3

Welcome to week 3 of our 4 week book study blog hop with the book Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maiers! If you've missed the last couple of posts, don't worry!  You can catch up on week 1 here and week 2 here.

This week, we dove into the habitudes of Perseverance and Courage.  I must say, these two really spoke to me.  These are the two habitudes that I really want my students to demonstrate in my classroom, and that I strive for every year.  The great thing about Classroom Habitudes is that she gives you a no-fail, simple approach, including dialogue, on how to introduce these habitudes into your classroom.  There's no way your students won't "get it" when you use her approach!

I love how Maiers explains that students show perseverance when they give up TV time to spend hours studying, or they keep trying to complete a new assignment that's difficult.  She's giving them real example of how they persevere, and all students should be able to relate in one way or another to one of the statements.

In the three lessons, she really dives into allowing students to see how their perseverance pays off (or doesn't pay off). She really talks about failure as an amazing thing instead of something to be feared. This is something that's so tough for our students! They always want to be right, we reward the right answers, whether by compliments (good job!) or by grades. It's so important to allow students to fail and to see failure as a stepping stone to success.

In the detailed lessons, students really examine how their behaviour affects their results, whether positive or negative.  She also allows students to examine many examples of success vs failure and to bring students to really understand how failure isn't actually a negative thing! This is something that I've tried so hard to get students to understand, but Maiers really does a great job of laying out all the ground work.  This book, in my opinion, was worth it just for this one chapter.  If I can get ONE student to realize that failure isn't a bad thing by doing what's outlined in this chapter, then I will be over the moon happy!

Courage goes hand in hand with perseverance, because it takes courage to persevere!  It takes courage to keep on going and allow failure to bring success.  It takes courage to learn from bad decisions and to take responsibility for outcomes whether they are positive or negative.

Often, students believe that courage means a heroic act, like saving someone's life, but our students show courage every day! Maiers really dives into how students show courage every day and wants students to recognize and realize this habitude in themselves and others.  They learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and how to be able to guide their behaviours, actions and attitude as they face obstacles and challenges in their lives.

This book is really a must-read as you prepare yourself for your classroom this year!  These habitudes will be an amazing positive effect in your classroom this year!

Have a fantastic week!  Make sure to follow me to be notified when week 4 is out!

You can now read week 4 here!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Classroom Habitudes - Week 2

I am so lucky to be participating in a book study blog hop with a wonderful group of ladies! Last week, we discussed our thoughts on the first couple of chapters of the book Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maiers.  If you missed it, no worries, you can catch up by clicking here.  

This week, I'll be talking about chapters 3 and 4.  These chapters are diving right into the habitudes, talking about Curiosity and Self-awareness.

Before I go ANY further, I must direct you to the Solution Tree website, where there are many free printables available.

Ok, now that that's done, let's get on with it!

Does curiosity really kill the cat?

No. It doesn't.  Curiosity fuels our imagination. It keeps the brain active, it keeps us open to new ideas and keeps life interesting!  The more curious you are, the less likely you are to be bored. Maiers explained that a study by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in 2002 found a direct relationship between attention and our interest in the world.  So nothing is boring if we pay attention to it.  Want to test out this theory in your classroom?  Maiers suggests the following curiosity challenge : pick a subject, focus on curiosity, and turn the subject inside out, asking a lot of questions regarding the subject. Surprisingly, what was boring before, often becomes a little more interesting, as now their curiosity is piqued and they want to get the answers to their questions!

By developing your students curiosity, you really are opening up the whole world for them.  You're getting them to ask the right questions, to ask better questions and to start questioning and wondering about everything around them.  I'm really impressed by this chapter, especially the way everything is laid out, detailed and explained. 

To be or not to be.. aware

Imagine.  A classroom where students know what they need to learn.  Where they know that they'll need to use manipulatives to figure out that math question and they know they need to re-read that paragraph to fully understand it.  Imagine, a classroom where students understand who they are and how it affects them in the classroom.  Wouldn't that be absolutely amazing?

I always knew it was important to have students become aware, but Maiers does such a fantastic job of breaking it down.  Of showing you how to create a Student Learning Profile for your students and going through all the dialogue.  

I am loving this book and truly feel it's one that should be in every teacher's classroom.  Not only does she talk about the habitudes and explains why they are important, but she gives you real content that you can directly apply to your classroom with little to no prep.  

Now don't forget to head on over to these other blog posts to find out what they thought of these two chapters!
*Click here to read Week 3*

Friday, July 17, 2015

Classroom Habitudes : A Book Study & Blog Hop

Last year, I participated in a book study & blog hop for the book The Book Whisperer and I loved it.  I do a lot of reading, and the book study allowed me to really examine the book, analyze and understand it.  The blog hop portion allowed me to share what I had learned with everyone, and hopefully impact a few classroom at the same time.

This summer, I am super excited to participate in a book study & blog hop once again!  The book is titled Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maiers and it's super good (so far, I'm only up to chapter 2!)

For the next four weeks, we will bring to you our thoughts and ideas on this book.  So let's get to it, shall we?

Am I limiting my students learning by trying to educate them?

Maiers explains how all students are capable of genius, and how our classrooms might be suppressing their genius.  Our excellent students are often the ones that do exactly as their told, that ask the teacher how they want it done. Is this genius? No. Is getting a 90% on a math test genius? Or how about the student who always wins the science fair?

In fact, no. That's not genius.  A genius is someone who uses his/her insights, realizes there's a problem and finds the not-so-obvious solution to that problem. You know what they've used? Habitudes. Their habits and their attitude

So when I'm educating my students, am I limiting their potential? Am I limiting their capacity for genius? I hope not. I had a good friend once send me a quote "Morality is doing what's right, no matter what you're told. Obedience is doing what you're told, no matter what's right." I think habitudes play right into morality, and in the end, I don't want my students to simply obey, I want them to grow.  To become the best they can be.

What about me? Am I ready to do this?

In the book, Maiers has a handy Habitudes Self Assessment that allows you to determine how you use the habitudes, how you incorporate them in your life and will also highlight areas where you can improve.

When I took the test, I scored a 69, which was on the low scale of Excellent (69-100). It states that I'm well on my way to becoming a transformative leader, but being so low on that scale, I am definitely taking a look at which areas I need improvement (such as being quick to adjust and adapt - I believe I'm flexible to a point, but I will moan and groan about it!)

Seriously though, adding something else to the teacher's plate?

Man, do I get you.  I really do!  As teachers, we seem to have our workload increasing and increasing and increasing but nothing is ever taken off of our shoulders, and now we're talking about adding habitudes to it as well?

But see, that's where magic happens.  Because habitudes are a part of everything.  And they're an integral part of students learning journey. If you take the time to teach habitudes, the rest comes easy.  Students are magically more engaged and the classroom atmosphere is perfect for learning.

So what are these habitudes?

Imagination, curiosity, self-awareness perseverance, courage, passion and adaptability are the 7 habitudes that are described in the book. As I'm reading that list, those are 7 wonderful habitudes that I am so excited about.

We've touched the first one so far, imagination, Imagination is so important! I look at my 15 month old son, and he can play with anything, anywhere. I definitely want to nourish his imagination and inspire him to always think about every unimaginable answer out there! I can definitely see how some students have this habitude down pat, and others might need a little prodding.

So far, this book is a must-read for all teachers.  Maiers does such an amazing job of describing and explaining the habitudes and HOW to incorporate them in your classroom.  She is thought-provoking, but gives you a real guide, or framework, for teaching and learning the habitudes.  I can't wait to keep on diving into this book!

Until next week!
*Click here to read Week 2 of the blog hop!*

Friday, June 26, 2015

Daring to Dream!!

This week, our TpT challenge has asked me to talk about my dreams.  And they dared me to dream BIG. I mean, REALLY BIG. 

And when I started thinking about what I wanted and what made me feel amazing, I realized that my number one goal with TpT is to help other teachers.

I recently helped a new teacher transition into his classroom at the beginning of May.  Poor guy was fresh out of teachers college and they literally dropped him in the classroom on Monday without any transition, without any time to prepare (he was hired on the previous Friday and wasn't from the region).  I helped him develop routines, structure, gave him advice, gave him a few products to help and spent countless hours chit chatting and talking shop. 

And then I received a card at the end of the year from him, expressing his gratitude and thanks.  And that card means more to me than anything else I've ever received.  

As well, this week I attended two graduations, the elementary school graduation and the high school graduation at the school I taught at.  Both graduations incorporated something of mine that I had left behind - whether the actual graduation ceremony script, description of prizes or even decorations.  And it made me feel proud that I was able to leave something behind that they will use year and year again. 

I get that TpT won't actually get me helping teachers and schools in the same way, but I'm hoping to one day, be in every school in some way or another. 

And that, folks, is my BIG dream!

Linda :)

Thank you to these lovely ladies for setting up the TpT Challenge!


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I'd love to go but.... when world events coincide with teacher schedules

I was checking one of my Facebook teacher groups and came across an article where a teacher was denied a 2 week leave of absence, unpaid, to take his 90 year old veteran father overseas to attend a Second World War ceremony in Holland.

I, like so many other teachers, am outraged that the school board denied this teachers request. 

Yes, we get the summers off. Yes, we get two weeks at Christmas and a week in March.  I get it. We get a lot of "vacation" days (which aren't, in fact, paid vacation days at all).

But does that mean that everyone must abide by that time off? Should the world revolve around teacher time off so that teachers can attend?

Forget scheduling your wedding in May and hoping your teacher childhood friend, who lives 800 kilometers away can attend. Nope. I've actually been there and was denied time off.

Forget having family vacations to Mexico in November if a member of your extended family is a teacher! Been there, done that too.

Forget planning a vow renewal on a Saturday and asking your teacher daughter in law to attend if it means traveling the day before. Yup, denied again.

Do I enjoy my summers off? Of course I do. I need that time to decompress, recharge my batteries, plan for next year and take any professional development course I want. 

Do I enjoy Christmas off and a week in March?  Of course. I'm not going to deny that we have time off as teachers that are well deserved and luckily at fortunate times of the year.

But let's not forget that our schedule isn't very flexible.  And yes, it might be easy for me to plan family outings, vacations and events around my schedule, but it's a little tough to ask the whole world around me to do the same.

I'm glad to report that the school board allowed the man in question to accompany his father, but I hope that school boards start being a little more flexible with allowing teachers a day off or two here and there.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Writing Workshops : Autobiography Product Swap + a GIVEAWAY!

Three weeks ago, Jungle Learners suggested doing a product swap, and I thought the idea was brilliant!  I was paired up with Kovescence of the Mind, and got to pick a product from her store to use in my classroom. I'm also hosting a giveaway and giving away the product I chose for FREE!

In my classroom, I do Writing Workshops, in which students are working on, well, writing! This occurs every Wednesday afternoon.  When I took a peek in Sarah's store, I knew I had to pick her Writing Your Autobiography product, as I figured it'd be a perfect fit for my Writing Workshops.

When I introduced the idea to my students, they were enthralled. We talked about the various chapters their autobiography would entail and how they could go about creating it. I even brought my cricut machine to work so they can use it to scrapbook!

I've turned this into a HUGE project, so my students haven't gotten super far into it yet, but they're all starting to plan out their autobiography and gathering pictures and information from the 8 chapters included in the product.

It's tough to grab pictures of my students using this product in action, as I don't want any personal information or pictures of my students on my blog!  So I took this pic before she got started to avoid any issues.

Sarah did a great job in dividing this project into 8 different chapters, making a huge task seem less daunting for my students (especially grades 5/6). Instead of thinking about all the information I needed them to gather and write, they were thinking on how to present and create their autobiography! Students are loving looking at old baby pictures and finding out information about their birth, such as their weight and height (and then comparing it to every single other baby they know!)

Now, I did have to change the grading scheme, as we can't grade with a point system, but this was fairly easy to do. I built the success criteria with my students anyway, so a rubric was easy to make after this exercise.

Want to win your own copy of Writing Your Autobiography? Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do you want to know what Kovescence of the Mind received in her swap?  Head on over to her blog by clicking her blog button at the top of this blog post to see which product she used and how much she loved it! She's giving it away for free too, so don't forget to head over there for your chance to win!

Want more?  There's more of these wonderful blog posts here :

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Evaluation by Observation

In Ontario, a document came out a couple of years ago, Growing Success, that encourages teachers to evaluate by 3 means : Observations, Productions and Conversations. 

In my classroom, I like putting the emphasis on observations, because everything we do is important and is used to determine their grade.  I do use conversations and productions, but I still love my observations.  It's easy, simple and when it comes to report card time, my comments are basically done! 

I start off with a class list.  At the top of the page, I have a place where I can add the learning goal of the lesson, as well as the date.  Afterwards, my page is divided into three columns : student name, a box for "acquired, being acquired and not acquired" and comments.

Acquired, Being Acquired and Not Acquired

For every learning goal, most of my students fall in the Not Acquired or Being Acquired category at the beginning.   Writing where they're at on my class list allows me to see quickly the improvement that they're making and hopefully after a couple of lessons, they are well on their way to the status of Acquired. 

Loosely translated, not acquired is equal to a level 1, being acquired is a level 2 and acquired is a level 3.  Sometimes, the speed at which they acquire the skills, or the ability to apply their knowledge will give them their level 4.  Obviously, professional development does play a huge part in this, as students all work at different levels all the time.

I use the short form (A, BA or NA), since it makes it a lot easier and allows me to have more room for my comments.


I don't always write comments for every student, every day, every lesson.  This would require a lot of work!  What I do write in the comments is information that stood out or struck me as important to note.  If a student needed extra help, I will write that down.  If a student has it for the most part but made a simple mistake, I'll write down the mistake to see if it disappears next time.  If I notice or talk to the student about a specific next step for them to take, I will write this down as well.  

I will also make sure I make a comment for every student at least once throughout a specific learning goal.  Even if it's a simple "Understands without my help" or "easy for student to accomplish", at least I've written it down.

I also make sure everything is short and quick to write.  If I notice that I'm always making the same comments, I'll create a short version of this comment.  

Basically, I'm writing my report card comment right here.  Sometimes it'll be what they've learned, sometimes it'll be their next step, but it's always personal and anecdotal, which is one of the keys of Growing Success.  

How to Get Started

To get started, you can download a FREE copy of my class list.  It is editable, allowing you to insert your own student names and adjust how many rows you need (since I have 25 students, my version has 25 rows).  In the image above, I used KG Behind These Hazel Eyes font but since I wanted the file to be editable, I changed it to Arial Black.  For your own personal use, you can download the font I use and install it on your computer.

I print around 20-25 copies to start in 4 different colours.  This year, I placed each colour in a different duotang, representing different subjects.  You can also place them in one large binder, using dividers to separate the subjects.  

Every time your students are working, you simply grab a sheet, write the learning goal and date at the top and start observing and commenting! It's THAT easy!

This blog post was a part of my monthly newsletter, filled with other goodies as well.  If you'd like to receive my newsletter, hover on over to the right side, enter your e-mail address and enjoy!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

5 Tips on Teaching Fractions

Fractions is one of those math concepts that students tend to cringe when they hear that oh-so-scary word. Taught the right way, fractions are easy to master and your students will start loving them (ok, maybe not, but it's worth a try!)

The thing with pizza is that everyone loves it and understands it.  Students know that pizza comes cut in slices and this makes it a perfect tool to start introducing fractions

Drawing a pizza on the board is an easy way to start working with and introducing common fractions (1/2, 1/4, 3/4).  Cutting the pizza in fourths, students are quick to understand that dad eats two slices, mom eats one, leaving only one slice left!  

Using the pizza example idea, start "eating" slices of pizza and writing out the fraction, explaining how you got the numerator and denominator.  

In this pizza, there are 4 slices, of which 2 are eaten, giving a fraction of 2/4.  

Give lots and lots of examples, using various denominators, until all students are comfortable writing fractions.  

Have students draw, draw and draw!  Give students a fraction (for example, 1/10) and have them represent it through a drawing.  

Drawing pizzas is still completely acceptable, but they might also want to start expanding and simply using rectangles and dividing them. 

It's also the perfect time to start introducing equivalent fractions (and simplifying fractions).  

By drawing, students can start seeing how 1/10 (pictured in the first drawing) is equal to 2/20 (pictured above). 

There are many various ways to play with manipulatives, but one of my favourites is to give my students this puzzle.  I take two puzzles, cut them into pieces and mix them up.  Students then have to form two rectangles, using these fractions.  The fractions each represent a part of the rectangle to which they belong.

So far, you might be spending a lot of time working on fractions in your classroom, but that's ok!  Practice really does make perfect, and considering how important understanding this concept, it's worth the time you put into it.

I have created a Fraction Bundle to help you teach this concept in your classroom.  Two of these are games (and what better way to learn and consolidate their knowledge on fractions by playing games) and one is a set of 90 task cards. 

Here's to a wonderful fractions unit this year!