Tuesday, 18 August 2015

My Favorite Resources & a Back to School Freebie

I've got a few more glorious weeks of summer and then it is back to the classroom for me. I have to be honest, I have not been having as many back to school nightmares as I usually do, but I'm sure they'll start soon!

Today I want to talk about my favorite resources for the classroom, so let's just jump right into it.

1) Morning Work

I said morning work, but really this system could be used at any point throughout the day. Typically, morning work is used in the morning to help settle students and provide them with a little language or math (or both) review. I like to split that up and have the math review at the beginning of the math period and the language review at the beginning of the reading/writing block. However you do it, I think the important thing to take remember is the routine & the review.

Students (and teachers) often thrive on and need routine. That doesn't mean you can't switch it up every now and then - by all means, keep it interesting - but I find that students (especially struggling learners) really work their best when they know what is expected of them throughout the day. Plus, establishing this routine early on will cut down on all those "What should I be doing?" questions during the morning or the beginning of a period.

Now routine is important, but let's not forget about the review aspect. I will never forget when I was student teaching and my mentor teacher and I decided to give the students a little exit ticket on place value. We were not working on place value at the moment and oh boy, it was an eye opener. This was when it really hit me, how important it is to incorporate review into the daily schedule. Students not only need to review the new material with which they are being presented, but also those ever-so-important basics that form the foundation of their learning.

When we talk about a daily review, I don't think it should be extensive. That can waste valuable class time and be counterproductive. I mean a simple, daily review, where every student can feel successful. I created Daily Math and Daily Language reviews that are super easy to use (just print and provide to students) and with only five questions per day, do not take up too much time or overwhelm students.

If interested, you can click the picture above to be taken to the 3rd Grade Daily Math Bundle, or click {HERE} to check out the other grades available. I've finished 1st through 4th and am currently working on a 5th grade version.

I also have Daily Language available:

Again, you can click the above picture to check out the 3rd Grade bundle or click {HERE} to check out the rest. I've finished 1st through 3rd (bundles and individual packs available) and am currently working on a 4th grade version.

2) Formative Assessment

Like I said, I have yet to head back to school, but one question I know I will be needing to answer soon is "Where are my new students at?"

When I was in University, the professors could not speak enough about the importance of formative assessment and that is something I always try and incorporate a ton of into the classroom. Before you start working on the new curriculum for the year, you really need to find out what your students know and what they still need to work on. This year, I've created a Back to School Ready pack (available for 3rd & 4th) of 10 printables (5 math and 5 language) to get a good idea of where the students are at, based on the previous year's standards. This will give you a great idea of your group's strengths and weaknesses, which is essential when planning for the year.

Click the pictures above to head to the 4th grade version and {HERE} to check out the 3rd grade one.

3) Reading Comprehension Printables

Reading comprehension strategies, where do I begin? Through teaching reading and doing learning support, I've come to realize that reading comprehension strategies are kind of like mental math strategies. Some students just get it, some students get it but can't explain why they get it and some students need to be explicitly taught it, sometimes repeatedly. I've worked with struggling readers in the past who had to use a certain printable to show their thinking. The problem? They didn't understand how to use the printable, so of course they didn't know how to show their thinking.

I created two packs of printables, one set to be used with picture books and one set to be used with novels. The great thing about these is the age range is flexible and they can be used over and over again, with any book. Work together as a class to teach students how to use these at the beginning of the year and then they become an independent tool for students to re-use throughout the year to show their thinking as they read.

Click the picture above to check out the picture book pack and the picture below to check out the chapter book pack.

So, those are some of my favorite year-round essential resources, but now it's time to switch gears for a back to school freebie! If you've already been back in school for awhile, you can always tuck this away until next year!

Help your students get to know you with this fun, editable freebie! Fill in 10 facts about yourself and let the students decide which are true and which are false. Go over as a class and blow your students' minds with all the details (or only a select few!) about your life. Works best if you've led a fascinating life!

Share a classroom? No problem! I've also added a printable where you fill in the facts and have students decide whether they apply to one teacher, both or neither.

And finally, if your students had a blast discovering facts about your life, they'll probably love telling you about themselves, so I've also included a student version.

Click any of the pictures above or {HERE} to grab this freebie.

If you're interested in any of the resources I talked about, make sure to pick them up tomorrow during the one-day-only Teachers Pay Teachers Boost Sale. My entire store will be on sale and if you use the promo code "MORE15" you'll save even more! Just what I needed, another excuse to do back to school shopping!

Thanks for reading!

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