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FREEBIE - Multi-Step Word Problems Strategy

This resource is fresh in my mind because I just recommended it to a coworker. As I saw the product in action, I was reminded just how terrific it is {{if I do say so myself!}}
Solving multi-step problems is difficult for students, and this helps to break down the steps, providing confidence and a strategy to follow. 

Each page lists the CUBED procedure in a checkbox format, which is very similar to CUBES, except that the "D" stands for "Draw a picture." Students are encouraged to draw a picture to help promote comprehension and problem solving.

FREEBIE - did someone say "Freebie??" Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers Store for a FREE SAMPLE - try it out and see what you think! 

I love the twist on CUBES - drawing pictures really helps visual learners make the story problem concrete enough to visualize and solve.
Try this worksheet FREE! Click on the picture to visit my store!
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Ready For Action Unit Your Students (And YOU) Will Love!

Need a complete literacy unit that your students will LOVE? This is it!

This unit covers reading, technology, writing, and science, and even has some history thrown in, for good measure! It took my class about three full weeks to complete, but you can easily adjust this unit to fit your class's needs based on grade level and ability. 
The resources in this unit all come separately, so mix and match - use what you need! All resources promoted in this post include links so that you can quickly and easily find what you need!

Let's start with the mentor text for this unit. I'd like to introduce When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike, by Michelle Houts and published by Ohio University Press. Every time I read this book, I appreciate it even more! The illustrations are incredible!

My students have developed quite an appreciation for Grandma Gatewood and they absolutely LOVE this book! I keep two copies in my classroom and they are constantly in use.

First, you have a protagonist (We called her the "hero" until my class became familiar with the word "protagonist") who is quite a surprise! For one thing, she was a woman; she was 67 years old; and she had a growth mindset long before a "Growth Mindset" was cool to have!
We discussed the idea that she was born in 1887 (No, there weren't any tv's back then! OMG! - No video games!), and that the story took place in 1955. We talked about her having 11 children and 23 grandchildren.

I was really trying to push the point that she wasn't a young teenager, she was actually old - elderly - a GRANDMA! Most of the children understood that their own grandmas would NEVER be able to go hiking, climb mountains, and sleep out in the rain. Most people - of ANY age - couldn't do that for days, weeks, and months on end! At age 67, this grandma hiked 2,050 miles carrying only a baby bottle for water, a shower curtain for cover, and wearing the standard high top sneakers that were available in the 1950's! No fancy hiking gear!
It wasn't an easy trek - Emma Gatewood had some setbacks, but she never gave up. It's a true story of perseverance, bravery, positive attitude, and growth mindset!

I highly recommend this book - you and your students will ABSOLUTELY LOVE it!

The When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike book study pack features anticipation guides, a mini-book for students to create, a comprehension tri-fold, characterization pages, problem-solution pages, vocabulary cards, graphic organizers, and Growth Mindset banners and more! Everything that you and your students need to DIG into this incredible book!

My students were so eager to learn more, that we leapfrogged the topic of woodland animals for science, and began using Woodland Animal Adaptations from Two Boys and a Dad Productions.

I'll be honest - technology is something that I'm still learning to incorporate into my teaching. My students LOVE using it, and teachers at my school are strongly encouraged to incorporate it. I wasn't feeling very confident, but I took the plunge and bought this resource from Two Boys and a Dad Productions at Teachers Pay Teachers. I'm so glad I did!

This Interactive Digital Notebook fits beautifully into this unit, and my students LOVED watching the videos and completing the numerous activities about woodland animals!
If you are like me, you might be saying, "What is an Interactive Digital Notebook?" I mean, what does that even mean? After using it, I would tell you that it truly is a student workbook that is on the ipad (or student computer)! My students completely ATE IT UP! I had to keep slowing them down. They wanted to do it all in a day! How's that for motivation??

Here is how I used it with this unit:
After purchasing it, I read through the directions - very easy to follow. Trust me, if I can do it - YOU CAN, TOO! :) After following the detailed instructions, the digital notebook was magically on every student's ipad!

Next, I decided which slides were going to be our main focus during whole group, and which slides would be worked on independently by my students. Our main focus slides were completed as assignments for a grade and with me guiding them along. The other slides were not used as a grade - only because of the time factor (don't even get me started on how there's never enough time! OMG!)

Each day, a new slide (or two) were discussed and assigned. Easy as that!

In addition, the test practice aspect is a FABULOUS bonus! We used ipads for this lesson (which we will also be using for our state testing), and being able to practice clicking on links, focusing attention on videos, reading from the ipad, typing, dragging and dropping, and all of those other skills are tremendously important.

Much of this was new to my students, and the extra practice was INVALUABLE. I'm thrilled to recommend this resource that has so much to offer!

Because my students LOVED the woodland animals so much, I wanted to continue the excitement, and I developed a product combining the book When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike, and the Woodland Animals Interactive Digital Notebook.

It is my Woodland Animals Nonfiction Pack! The focus here is to develop better readers who learn to look back in the text to find evidence of their answers. AND IT WORKS! And my students ENJOY it! Yes, I really did just say that! LOL!


This resource can be used with or without the other resources in this unit. You receive 8 nonfiction passages and a BONUS passage about the Appalachian Trail - which ties this whole unit together in one EASY-PEASY UNIT!

I printed the student copies in black and white, and used the color copy on my Smartboard for whole group instruction.

I use the colored page to project onto my Smartboard for whole group instruction.

These no-prep text passages are high interest for students and easy to use for teachers! Simply make the copies, and you are ready for class!

Students read the text passage (I encourage them to read the passage twice - sometimes orally with partners) and questions. Students look back in the reading to find answers and mark them with the color indicated by the question. Then they write the answer to the question.

Once the answer is identified in the text, students write the answer in a complete sentence. We've been learning to turn the author's words into their own words to answer questions. My students want to simply copy the sentence from the passage - which works sometimes - but other times they need to think it through and change the words. That takes thought and practice.
Finally, we've been working hard in class to build a strong Growth Mindset and learning to turn their "I can't!" into "I can!" It's a process because my struggling students have met failure after failure at school. I know you have strugglers in your class, too, and this is a positive way to support them and promote positive thinking.

Displaying student work is always good practice - not only does it fill students with pride, it also keeps their personal goals front and center. Plus they get to show off their brilliant artwork! Please note that the Grandma Gatewood Book Study includes a Growth Mindset worksheet and two Growth Mindset Banners made specifically for Grandma Gatewood.

And did I mention that When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike is the perfect book to use with any and ALL Growth Mindset lessons!?!? Well, it is! It is a true story of perseverance, determination, and the power of positive thinking!

Finally, I decided that we would be combining writing in this unit too, so we began making mini-books . . . but that's for another time! Look for Part 2 - the writing portion - coming soon to a classroom near you!

Just to get you started and encourage you to check out the new book When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike, here is a FREEBIE for you and your class to enjoy! Just visit my Teachers Pay Teachers Store and download your tri-fold for a quick taste of the book, the book study, and the simplicity of having this unit all set up and ready to go!


Credits:
When Grandma Gatewood Took a Hike by Michelle Houts (author), copyright 2016 Ohio University Press.  This material is used by permission of Ohio University Press, www.ohioswallow.com.

Early Finisher Activities for Elementary and Middle School Students! Great for Sub Planning, Too!

Now that the school year is in full swing, you may be searching for quick, educational NO-PREP worksheets. I will start with the Elementary students:
Subtraction Solve and Draw - No Prep - Great for Early Finishers and Subs!
Students LOVE the math and drawing combination! Click to visit Teachers Pay Teachers!
The worksheets catch students' eyes because most students enjoy drawing and coloring, and teachers love the idea that students are combining math, reading, and art!

Subtraction Solve and Draw - No Prep worksheets for early finishers and subs!
Subtraction Solve and Draw Pack - Click to visit Teachers Pay Teachers
When students ASK FOR MORE, you KNOW you're on the right track! My students are asking for more - they benefit from the additional subtraction practice and they LOVE comparing pictures!

Super for Substitute Teacher Plans and Early Finishers! Click to visit Teachers Pay Teachers
I leave at least one set of Solve and Draw Subtraction pages in my Sub Tub at all times. I also leave a set of mazes.

Combine Subtraction, reading, and drawing all in one product! Click to visit Teachers Pay Teachers
Who says math has to be boring and monotonous? It doesn't! Supplement your curriculum with some fun but educational, NO-PREP worksheets!

Addition and Subtraction Mazes - With and Without Regrouping!
Addition and Subtraction Mazes - With and Without Regrouping! Click to visit Teachers Pay Teachers
The best part about these mazes is that ALL students succeed! Even if a student misses a problem or two, they still are able to get back on the right path to complete the maze with success!

Basic Addition Fact Mazes - Every Student is Successful!
Basic Addition Facts for young learners! Click to visit Teachers Pay Teachers

Two Digit Addition Mazes with and without Regrouping!
Two Digit Addition - every student succeeds! Click to visit Teachers Pay Teachers

Subtraction Mazes with and without regrouping
Subtraction With and Without Regrouping! Click to visit Teachers Pay Teachers
There are three different sets of mazes - Basic Addition, Two-Digit Addition, and Subtraction. Try them - you will LOVE them!

Now for Middle School through High School!

Distributive Property Mazes - Algebraic Expressions with one Variable
Algebraic Expressions With One Variable! Click to visit Teachers Pay Teachers
For all of the Middle Schoolers on up through High School, try the Distributive Property Mazes, Order of Operations Mazes, and Cootie Catchers!

Order of Operations Mazes - every student is successful!
Order of Operations Mazes with No Exponents - With and Without Division! Click to visit Teachers Pay Teachers
Finally, try this Integers Expressions Bundle! It includes Cootie Catchers and Adding and Subtracting Integers Task Cards and Integers Cards (used for games like War)!

Cootie Catchers for Integer Expressions
Easy Differentiation with Task Cards and Cootie Catchers! Click to visit Teachers Pay Teachers
Bottom line - we all know that when we combine education and fun, we have a winning combination and students are the winners!

Filing Cabinet and Contact Paper - Amazing!

Hello! Hope your school year is off to a FANTABULOUS start!

This is a quick blog post about the amazing transformation of an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan! Ok, well, beautiful might be a stretch - but it's at least an attractive swan!

Here is the before picture:

Easy renovation for filing cabinet
Incredibly shabby!
I couldn't look at this crooked, squeaky filing cabinet for one more minute!

Armed with a roll of contact paper from Walmart, a hammer, and a screwdriver, I got busy. I will be the first to admit that I man-handled this filing cabinet. I stuck the screwdriver between the label holder and tugged and pulled until it popped out. It was somewhat bent up, but I hammered it flat again. That's the man-handling part. 

I'm sure there is a more gentle, skillful way of beating that little label holder into submission, but I'm not sure how else to do it. It did take a bit of muscle. The handles simply unscrew from inside the drawers.

Covering the filing cabinet drawer fronts with the contact paper was pretty easy. The hardest part is smoothing out the bubbles and getting the contact paper edges straight.

Contact Paper makeover for filing cabinet

This is how the filing cabinet currently looks. I need to spray pain the label holders - maybe black! If you look closely, you will notice that they are fairly rusty looking right now.  That's for another day when it's not so hot in the classroom!

Contact Paper project for filing cabinets
Old stickers are ugly!
One final tip - if you have old stickers and can't peel them off with your fingernails (blech!), ask your custodian for some adhesive remover and a razor blade. You obviously don't want the razor blade around when your students are present, but the adhesive remover should also only be used in well ventilated areas without students present. 

All in all, this simple project was very, very, VERY worth my time! I am happy with how it turned out. I'd love to see your filing cabinets after you cover them with contact paper!

Make Your Own Reading Guides to Improve Student Tracking!

Super quick tip today - but something that I use nearly every single day at school. It's one of those great tips - quick, easy, and cheap!


I'm sure you've seen the EZ Reader highlighting strips that sell at Amazon (and many other places). I actually bought and used these in my classroom a couple of years ago. They are called Reading Guide Highlight Strips and sell at Amazon in a pack of 12 for $13.00.
Reading Guide Highlight Strips
Well, they really are a great product . . . for the first couple of weeks. Then they began disappearing (but no one took them - you know how that goes - no one ever admits to taking anything), and they got bent up and wrinkles, and the highlighted plastic comes out, etc. My students literally beat them up.
Teaching Tips for Reading Class

That's when I decided that I wasn't going to spend my money on any more of these. Which is fine, except that they really did help my students read more fluently and not lose their place on a page.

Here's where my consumer savviness (really that just means I'm a tightwad!) comes into play.

First, get a few pages of transparency film - I used the kind you can run through a copier.

Classroom Teaching Tips
Next, I cut it into four equal sized pieces, but you can use the sizes that work best for your students.

The third and final step is to make a straight line on the transparency film for students to use as a guide when reading.
Classroom Teaching Tips
Sometimes I turn the transparency film long-ways (landscape orientation) and draw the lines on that way. That seems to work out better for some books that have wide pages.
Classroom Teaching Tips
Here is a reading guide laid over a Read Naturally passage
And there you have it - Short, simple, and sweet! And economical!!

Take care and please stop back again!

Sanity Savers for the First Week of School


Join the Back to School Giveaway!


Welcome to the Best Back To School Tips Blog Hop and Giveaway! And a BIG welcome to everyone who is popping in from my friend's blog at Two Boys and a Dad Productions!

By visiting each of our 6 blogs, you will have the opportunity to enter 6 giveaways! Each blog will be giving away a $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card!

Remember - typically, Teachers Pay Teachers holds a Back to School Sale, so the timing is PERFECT! Woo Hoo - I'm so excited!!



Starting a school year on the right foot is tremendously important - but I know that you know that already! :)  It promotes a calm, positive atmosphere for students and teachers.

Every year I have a few moments of panic as I feel my To-Do List spiraling out of control – the first week is sheer survival mode! But the more prepared you are, the less you will worry and sweat the small stuff!

Repeat to yourself: “I am flexible, don’t sweat the small stuff, and I can do this!” Because you CAN do this! 

Seriously – deep breaths and positive mantras are necessary! And remember to laugh! Keep it in perspective - this is truly not Life and Death!

Here are my Sanity Savers for Teachers at Back to School Time!


1. Learn students’ names – Read over your student list and practice saying difficult names prior to meeting your students. If possible, check with last year’s teacher about any names that could be mispronounced. I had a student years ago that I simply could not remember the pronunciation of her name for the first few days. It embarrassed her and I felt terrible each time I stumbled over it.  Luckily, she was very gracious, but I felt like it reflected poorly on me – and it did.

I also take the time to label student desks with first and last names as a cheat for myself. Usually I am able to remember students’ names based on where they sit in the room long before I can remember all of their names as they are moving around the room. My school allows us to attach name plates on the desks, which helps both students and teachers.

And while you are labeling, name tags can be attached to lockers, coat hooks, and often teachers provide name tags for students to wear, either self-sticking, or on strings to be worn around their necks. Specials teachers, like phys. ed., art, music, etc., appreciate the name tags on students. There are many name tags available on Teachers Pay Teachers – many very cute options! I usually attach desk plates to the desks with clear packaging tape. Yes, you will have to instruct the students not to pick at the tape!
 
Click the picture to visit Teachers Pay Teachers!
At this point, I assign a student number – typically the numbers are assigned alphabetically. I know it’s risky – there are bound to be students who don’t show up, and new students who are assigned to you at the last minute. Some teachers don’t assign numbers until the second day – it’s up to you. There are pros and cons for each method. But once a number is assigned, don’t change it! That leads to confusion.

Students then use the numbers when they write their names on their papers (such as John Adams #1, Sue Bennett #2, etc.), which really helps when putting grades in the computer or grade book!


1½. Carefully Read Your Students' IEPs!
Sorry about the 1 1/2, but this was too important to leave out! :)
While we're on the subject of students, I need to mention here that you really do need to read over the IEPs of students who are in your classroom. I always read through IEPs (and 504s) with highlighters. I make notes on the IEP cover, and I cover it with sticky notes. My IEPs are in a special binder that I keep handy by my desk. I also list students and their accommodations and modifications on a separate sheet that goes directly in my lesson plan book and grade book.


2. Teach Daily Routines and Procedures This is truly a sanity saver!

By explicitly teaching and modeling expected behaviors over the first few days and weeks of school, you ensuring a safe classroom community which provides you with more time to teach, decreased discipline problems, and improved learning and productivity. The structure is appreciated by teachers and students - especially at-risk students.


In my classroom, we model the correct procedure, then a student models the procedure incorrectly, then after a short discussion, the same student models the correct routine. By modeling correct, incorrect, then correct again, students have the opportunity to approve the positive behavior. 

Hint: Select a student who may struggle to perform that procedure correctly, incorrectly, then correctly again. He received instant feedback, gets the negative behavior out of his system right from the start, and receives positive behavior approval, which is very valuable to attention-seeking students.

Some procedures to consider practicing include lunch count, pencil sharpening, lining up, hallway behavior, proper manners, hanging up coats, getting drinks – and so on! Write out a list of your expectations and be sure to discuss them and model them during the first several days.

Hint: You don’t need to recreate the wheel here – for a couple of bucks, you can purchase tried-and-true procedures products on Teachers Pay Teachers. Many are editable so that you can personalize them for your class and needs. Worth their weight in gold!



3. Make Lesson Plans -  My first few days of lessons and lists never fit nicely in the little squares on a lesson plan book. Instead, I type them out on a full sheet of paper - in list form - leaving lots of room to pencil in additional stuff that pops up. These papers are kept from year to year as valuable references. Plans typically change - I mean, ALWAYS change - but remember your mantra - "I am flexible, don't sweat the small stuff, and I can do this!"

A rough outline of where I am headed for at least the first couple of weeks is a MUST for me. I write out (in very general terms) plans for the first couple of weeks because it makes me feel calm and knowing where I'm headed relieves a lot of my stress.

I still write my actual lesson plans by hand (on my computer template) even though I end up drawing arrows, scratching out, and revising. Confession - at least by hand I have a reason to buy those pretty colored markers to make my scribbles and scratches cool looking!

Hint: Have you seen the incredible Teacher Planner options on Teachers Pay Teachers? I'm looking over the choices myself because I'm finally going to buy myself a super organized Teacher Planner from a fellow teacher who's been there, done that!


4. Hang a list of your students outside the classroom door. Students and parents will appreciate knowing for sure if they are or are not supposed to be in that room. Some students get really nervous about walking into the wrong room. 


Click to visit Teachingwithamountainview.com
Personally, I like to decorate my classroom door with students’ names for a bright, cheerful, and warm welcome! You know Pinterest can help you find just the right door d├ęcor!


5. Organize your teacher desk! Being unable to find what I’m looking for drives me CRAZY! I figure that having an organized desk is completely in my control. I can’t control many things that happen in the first couple of days, but I can control the chaos on and in my desk. Get it put together and move on! I’ve seen some teacher desks that have so many papers shoved in them that the teacher can’t really even use the desk.


When I have piles of papers, I try to be honest with myself – will I really use that worksheet? My old boss once taught me to touch each paper only once – “Put it away or throw it away, right away!” If it’s super cute, but just not right for your class, either throw it away or pass it on to someone who can use it – DO NOT CLUTTER YOUR DESK WITH IT! Truly, there have been times when I’ve sat down to work, and had to move to my small group table because there’s no work space on my desk – NOT GOOD!


6. Sticky notes are your friends! 
Stock up on them for the beginning of the school year. Take them to every meeting that you attend and make a list of things you must do. Also, write down the names of the new people in your building so that you don’t have to ask (Yep, I’m bad with names, so I learned this trick fast!)



I have them sticking to my computer, my purse, and the wall beside my desk. If you have Windows on your computer, you can right click on the desktop and get a sticky note right there on your computer!


7. Prepare a Sub Tub Sooner Rather than Later! 

You won't regret it! I've written a longer post about an easy way to keep a Sub Tub filled HERE. You think you won't get sick, and often you are able to suffer through it, but occasionally we get so sick that we are simply UNABLE to make it to school.
I've learned (through experience) that basic sub plans (Emergency plans) are so, so incredibly important. I personally don't have any sub plans for sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store, but I have purchased some from other teachers and they are truly Lifesavers! Invest (yes - it's truly an investment!!) in a quality set that suits your grade and subject. You won't be sorry, you will be relieved!

LOL - no, this is not me! She's just a nice model!
Well - those are my top jobs for preparing myself and my classroom for the first day! If time allows, continue working on the classroom, library, and working on making your classroom as efficient as possible. Keep high traffic areas clear, keep work spaces tidy and uncluttered, and above all - KEEP SMILING!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Want more chances to win a Teachers Pay Teachers $25 gift card? Continue this blog hop by hopping over to Jewel's School Gems by Jewel Pastor by clicking on the link or her logo.


Good luck in the giveaways and on your first day back at school!
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