Collect bags of plastic eggs and make some super fun math centers for students in grades K-5. Each game can be adapted for different math levels. Click here for the directions for five plastic egg math centers.
Earth Day is April 22! Here is a board game to help students brainstorm ways to recycle a variety of different trash items. Click here to download the game complete with directions and playing cards.
I believe the most important thing teachers can do to boost student achievement is to show students you care. Showing students you care about them helps create a positive, supportive relationship and helps build an environment where learning can flourish. When we take the time to build a trusting and caring connection with all of our students and especially our most challenging students, the better they behave and the more they achieve. It is not always easy, but the rewards are great. The more we know about our students’ interests, talents and needs, the easier it is to prepare meaningful lessons and help students feel the partnership of the learning experience.
Ways to Show You Care
- Allow time for students to talk to you or write to you about problems that arise, things they are excited about, questions they have, etc. When you are not readily available to talk with a student, I have them write a note and place it in a special box.
- Help students share what they want others to know about themselves through art and writing activities.
- Spend one on one time with each student. One way to spend special time is having a lunch date with individual students. This is a great time to listen to your student and find out about their families, cultures, ideas, interests, feelings about school, etc.
- Keep in touch with parents and show interest and concern for their children. Invite parents to class, make phone calls and send positive messages home. Keeping an open dialogue with parents helps us better understand and know the students. Click here to download some Happy Grams to send home with a positive message for parents.
- Know your students academic
levels through authentic assessment practices. Students are most successful when they have appropriately challenging lessons. One of the most important ways we show students we care is through differentiated teaching practices.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” — Leo Buscaglia
Here is a free game you can adapt to whatever level or subject you are teaching. On the back of the cards write math problems, vocabulary words, sight words, literature questions, etc. You can create different cards according to the needs and abilities of your students for easy, effective and differentiated learning centers. Click here to download the game board, playing cards and directions.
Here is a super fun project to celebrate Dr. Seuss books. These unique Dr. Seuss book reports are made from paper cups. First students choose their favorite Dr. Seuss book. Next students draw, cut out and glue a character from the story on the back of the front cover. Then they can write about the book, tell why they like it and draw pictures about the story on the inside pages. Click here for the directions.
Here is a super fun vocabulary building project. Students write synonyms on these paper cinnamon roll strips. Then they glue the cinnamon rolls into a tuna can. Click here for the directions and the cinnamon roll print out.
Reading aloud to students is probably the most important activity to instill love of literature and also increase listening, comprehension and vocabulary skills. It is important to read aloud every day to all ages of students. Here are some guidelines to make your read aloud time engaging and amazing for yourself and your students.
1. Choose books you love. Your enthusiasm for a book will spread to the students. I love reading books I have just discovered and also favorite classics from my childhood. Some of my favorite books were the Little House Series. I tell them how I would cuddle under my quilt and read until my parents made me go to bed. Often my favorite books are also some of my students’ favorite books. Click here for a list of some of my favorite read aloud books.
2. Choose high interest books that will capture the attention of the students. If a book is not working, it is okay to stop reading it and get another book. You can tell students are loving a picture book when they want you to read it again and again, or a chapter book when they don’t want you to stop reading. High interest books are the greatest advertisement for reading. It teaches children to associate reading with pleasure.
3. Read from a variety of genres and expose students to different types of literature. I like to read aloud a different literature genre each month and teach students the characteristics of the genre. Here are the nine literature genres we did: fairy tales, folktales, mysteries, classics, historical fiction, poetry, realistic fiction, fantasies, science fiction. Reading aloud from a variety of informative text should be sprinkled in often.
4. Talk about what you are reading. Children listen at a higher reading level than they can read independently. This is a good way to teach critical comprehension skills. It is important to allow time for class discussion during or after a read aloud. It is also important to share your own connections, opinions, inferences and predictions about the story.
5. Read with expression. It is essential to use a lot of emotion and voice changes when reading a book. Don’t be afraid to be dramatic! One day a substitute teacher in my fifth grade class read from the chapter book I had been reading to the students. When I returned to class the next day, my students were upset and asked me to reread the chapter, because the substitute did not read it the right way. This showed me how much students become accustomed to your voice and your read aloud style. In my class, read aloud time is a bonding experience.