This past summer, I had an amazing experience teaching in a summer gifted camp. The kids were amazing, but even more so the people I worked with. Everyone had enthusiasm about teaching. With that enthusiasm came much creativity. There were dragons and castles everywhere. The front desk was decorated as a castle. All of the classroom doors were decorated as little drawbridge doors. I wish I could take credit for this marvelous idea, but the coordinators of the camp made us the materials and had the ideas. We just put the materials together. This is my door…
Now let me tell you about the gray rocks. These were an afterthought and another teacher friend made them and made enough for me. I used them, but after I started putting them on, I really didn’t like the look of them. See the other doors without the gray rocks. They look better don’t they?
Now the following door is the same door, but just with a different angle.
Now, I know what you are thinking. Those black paper chains are attached to the floor, and they won’t make it very long with kid traffic. You are correct! We did have an issue with those, however they mostly stayed in tact after three weeks of kid traffic–which was the length of the camp. One of my neighbor teachers attached the chains to the wall to keep them off of the floor. After the first day, the kids get the general idea of the castle theme and I think it is fine to attach them to a door.
I hope this sparked an idea for your new door decoration idea for this coming school year!
To celebrate over 350 followers in my TPT store I am teaming up with a group of my blogger friends to host a July giveaway. We are teaming up to giveaway a $25 and/or a $75 TPT gift card! Woohoo! Here are the details:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Giveaway organized by: An Apple for the Teacher
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Before I tell you the name of the book, I must say that this book is second only to Fred Jones’s Tools for Teaching. I must tell you the whole story, though. I recently acquired a job teaching summer camp for GT learners. The heads of the camp have provided every child and teacher with a copy of a book and it’s associated workbook which helps teach character. I have seen this book for years on the shelves of bookstores at back to school time. I have thought to myself, “Self, you need to read this book!” However, I never bought it and never read it.
The book I am speaking of is Ron Clark’s The Essential 55. Have you read it? If not, YOU MUST READ this book before school begins. I guarantee it will change your school life! I have always known to teach procedures and even known that they need to be specific, but Mr. Clark takes his teaching a step further and teaches his children rules to be successful in life. Here is a peek at the table of contents:
While reading through this book, I have to even ask myself if I am following through with these rules in my own life. Teaching your students to follow these 55 rules for life will surely change your whole school year! In addition, Mr. Clark has written a workbook to accompany the book he has written so that students can have a chance to practice the specific procedures they have been taught–What a valuable resource! I will definitely use these next year.
Just look at this video, too, which emphasizes that school needs to prepare students for life which school seldom does.
One of the last things my principal asked me to do before I left school for summer is to make a bulletin board to advertise our need for “Watchdog Dads”. Well, that is exactly what I did, but with a creative flair! We had some clocks lying around, so I decided to use the clock to make a watch on the wall with a little riddle.
Then, I used push pens to attach the clock. The clock is just hanging on them.
I hope this gets lots of fatherly attention for back to school! If you want to learn more about Watchdog Dads, you can go here!
You know the guys who easily multiply in their head who leave you picking your jaw up off of the floor? Well, these folks have special strategies. I am going to teach you one of these so that you can teach your students!
First, let’s look at this example with fractions. If you double ½ you get one. Instead of going through all of the steps it takes to multiply fractions, why not simply double the fraction and multiply? In the case of one half or any other fraction with an even denominator, this process is simple. ½ becomes 1. Then multiplying by 1 is super simple.
In the case of a denominator such as ¼, in the second example, you can double the number twice and halve the other number until you find a factor that is easy to multiply. ¼ doubled becomes ½ and ½ doubled becomes 1. As long as the other factor is easy to halve, this works great!
This may be done with mixed numbers as well. As long as one of the numbers is even, you can double the other.
Now let’s look at examples with whole numbers. Again, double one factor and halve the other. Hmmmm 6 x 24. I don’t know that in my head, but I do know that I can easily double 6 to 12 and halve 24 to 12. Wow! I do know 12 x 12! 144!
I will skip the next two examples (12 x15 and 25 x 16) because these are self-explanatory.
Let’s look at 6 x 32. If we double 6 and halve 32, we get 12 x 16. Still not an easy fact. Ok, I will try to double and halve again, and I get 24 x 8. Hmm, again I don’t know that one. Let’s try another time. We get 48 x 4. Whew! Still difficult. One more time. Ok, 96 x 2. To solve this problem, I will use a combination of strategies. First I know that 96 is 4 away from 100. If I have two groups of 4 away from 100, then I know that I will be 8 away from 200 because 96 is almost 100. If I take 8 away from 200, this gives me 192. Teach children through number talks etc. to think flexibly about numbers and ways to solve problems. By teaching children these strategies, you will become stronger at solving math problems in your head as well!
While you are relaxing this summer, enter for a chance to win this sizzling summer giveaway– a $25 Amazon gift card! I have teamed up with a group of bloggers to offer this special giveaway to you!
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.
Giveaway ends 6/22/16 and is open worldwide.
When students struggle with ladder division, many times it is because they learned a procedure and haven’t made sense of the procedure for themselves. In this case students haven’t had enough experiences with division problems that are near friendly numbers so that they can reason about the numbers. Try giving students some problems that are near friendly numbers first if you notice that they aren’t using number sense to form partial quotients. For example, if students continue to subtract only small groups of ten and aren’t able to estimate a larger number for partial quotients, then try giving students numbers that are easier with which to estimate, like in the picture below. In the above picture, I started with some students in intervention who started solving the problem using groups of ten. 2499 divided by 25 is obviously close to 2500. Why not start with 100 groups and reason about taking away one group so that the quotient isn’t too large. When students look at how they could estimate to solve this problem, they have a lightbulb moment. Give them other examples like this to get students in the habit of solving problems with reasoning and number sense as opposed to a procedure.
I am teaming up with my dear blogger friend Pat McFadyen, a talented 5th grade teacher, from Growing Grade by Grade to host a post she has written about book clubs. We met at a recent TPT conference and have kept in touch ever since. I hope you enjoy!
“Book clubs can be a valuable part of a school’s literacy program. They can:
However, book clubs can only do all of the things if they work. Not all book clubs work. Here’s what happened to mine…
About fifteen years ago, I was asked to coach an after-school book club for our 4th and 5th grade students. At the time, I had a self-contained 5th grade class, meaning I taught all subjects, so I felt confident enough with my ELA skills that I thought I could do it. I’d always wanted to have a book club, so I was really excited as I scheduled and organized.
Unsurprisingly, there was no money for books. I had to get really creative digging through old stashes of books in classrooms and the library to have enough copies for everyone to read the same title of a book they hadn’t already read. At this point, I don’t even remember the book we started with, but it doesn’t matter. The results would have been the same.
Within a couple of weeks, the group was experiencing problems. Faster readers were already finished with the first book and anxiously ready to discuss it and move on to the next one. Slower readers were struggling. Less serious club members were using the time as a social club. Over-scheduled kids missed meetings. I was moving away from “friendly book club coach and mentor” to “teacher who has to fuss to get kids to do their work”. No one was really happy.
We stumbled along like this for a while. I was ready to throw in the towel and tell my administrator that the club wasn’t working and I wanted to close it out. I was dejectedly web surfing one night (and keep in mind this was long before really good browsers – or even Facebook! – so results could be sketchy), when I found a teacher chat group. One wonderful teacher mentioned that she had had good results with a “genre book club”. Instead of choosing one book for everyone to read, she chose a genre of literature. She collected as many examples of the genre as possible and let students pick from that collection. There wasn’t a lot more information, but it stopped me in my tracks.
The advantages of a genre book club flooded my thoughts. I felt that choosing a genre and offering students a selection of different titles within the genre would immediately solve some of my most pressing problems.
For our next meeting, I greeted students with a pile of books – literally! I chose the genre “Humor” to begin with and almost cleaned out our school library of joke books, comic-type books, and obviously funny, funny books. I explained to the book club members what I was doing and why. I very honestly shared why I was disappointed in how the club was going. I made it clear I was not disappointed in the students, but in how a one-book focus and a lack of resources seemed to be limiting our progress and enjoyment of reading.
I explained that we would start with Humor as our first genre study, but would gladly take suggestions for our next one. We would keep the time limit for each genre study open in case we wanted to extend one genre or cut short another one.
During that meeting, I briefly discussed the characteristics of Humor as a literary genre. I made it into a poster for later reference. Then, we dove into the stack of books. Hands reached over each other, searching for an interesting title. In just a few minutes, every student had a book. And…they read.
They read! They quietly, absorbedly read our books. For almost the first time, I saw students enjoying reading in our book club. To keep the momentum going, I kept the books checked out of the library under my name and had the club members check them out from me. They could come by my classroom at any time to return/check out these books as much as possible. When we met the next week, we shared what we enjoyed, what we didn’t enjoy, and how the books fit into the Humor genre.
The school year was almost over by this time and we didn’t have many more book club meetings. We were able to include the Poetry and Short Story genres. Most importantly, we ended the book club on a high note with at least some enthusiasm intact.
Lesson learned: If I ever sponsor another book club at the elementary level, I will seriously consider making it a Genre Book Club. I can’t guarantee this would be the best format for middle school or high school, but as an option for developing readers, the Genre Book Club is a seriously viable option.
In a nutshell, these are the advantages of a Genre Book Club. While offering the same benefits of a traditional book club, it can also:
If I coached a book club again, I would also offer a way for students to respond privately about their reading and to encourage accountability. Follow this link to check out my Genre Book Report product.
How To Start A Genre Book Club
If you are tasked with organizing a book club of any description, here is a list of steps to have it up and running successfully.
Best of luck to any and all who sponsor/coach/mentor our readers! If you ever get the chance to run a book club, consider a Genre Book Club. It just might be right for your students.”
I hope you enjoyed that fabulous post about her book clubs! Make sure to stop by her TPT store
to pick up a copy of her Genre Book Club product!