New standards make it more important than ever before that we teach students to thoughtfully respond to text in writing. Having the ability to write about the text shows a deeper understanding of the material and allows teachers to integrate reading, writing and language. But there is NOTHING EASY about teaching students to respond to text! Every time I would give my students a reading response assignment, I would cry when I saw their work. The wailing with big, fat tears  kind of crying. Seriously. This is a third grade response... This is nothing like I pictured it in my mind! Where are the complete sentences with proper capitalization and punctuation? Where is the text evidence? Where is the evidence that the child even read the text? Can we spell words correctly that are right in the question???! After several disappointing attempts at reading response, I knew that I needed to spend more time teaching students HOW to write about text. It has made a HUGE impact on the...
I am always looking for ways to keep my students engaged the week before Halloween while still working on our standards. I created this writing menu and some graphic organizers to give my kids a fun Halloween themed writing activity that reenforces our writing lessons. The menu includes 3 narrative prompts, 3 informational prompts and 3 persuasive/opinion prompts. I put a writing process checklist on the bottom of the menu to help students to work through each step. I included a graphic organizer for each each type of writing to help students plan. The freebie also includes several cute Halloween themed writing papers  for their final drafts. Would you like some more classroom tips and Halloween freebies? The talented bloggers from Upper Elementary Snapshots put together this FREE Halloween eBook ! You will find all kinds of helpful information and links to ten FREE products, including my writing menu. Click on the picture below to download. {C...
I use class money ad I blogged on iTeach Third about how I keep the system simple and still motivating! Here is the post... I am excited to share some simple strategies for making a classroom economy work in your classroom. I have used a classroom economy before and could never keep up with it. I was supposed to pay the kids and I totally forgot for weeks on end. I was supposed to sell coupons and I just never found time for the sale. After feeling terribly guilty, I would sell the cute coupons- but then the students actually wanted to use them! I didn't have time for that either! "I am sorry that you bought a show-and-tell coupon. I have 38 standards to teach today and there won't be time!" "I know you bought a lunch with the teacher coupon, but I have two meetings and photocopies to make during my 15 minute lunch." By Christmas, the economy just faded away. This year, I rethought the entire process! I found ways to make it super simple on ME! A...
Many classrooms have students do the attendance. Students are using a digital white board or a clip chart to record their presence. Not in my classroom! I have a student led classroom, but taking attendance is one thing that I will NOT let go of. Here is why....it is the perfect time to connect with each and every child!  When I call attendance, I do not just call a student's name. I always look right at the student and use their name. So It sounds like this, "Good morning, Tyler." I smile at him. My students are trained to look at me, smile and reply, "Good morning, Mrs. Sears."  I have talked with my students about it feels so good to be called by name and that smiles can change a person's mood. My students are encouraged to learn all of the last names of volunteers, aids and specialists that work with them. If they know their names, they can properly address and thank these adults. It would be easier and faster to have students move a...
I LOVE teaching third grade math! If I could find a way to teach nothing but third grade math- I would be in heaven. I did not like math as a child. I just couldn't understand WHY! I was THAT kid asking, "When will I use this?" "Why does that work?" My math teachers hated me. And because of that experience, I strive to give my third graders a better experience with math. In my classroom, we always talk about why they need to know it and why it works.  Third grade math is not easy though! They spend Kindergarten, 1st grade and 2nd grade working on addition and subtraction. Then in third grade, we are expected to teach multiplication and division to mastery. We double the number of operations that students have to be competent in and will see in word problems! Using key words in word problems may have been a suitable strategy in previous years. However, students quickly realize that many of the addition key words can also be used in a multiplication probl...
I wanted to share this post that I wrote for iTeach Third . After a long day of differentiating, assessing, managing, data analyzing and communicating with parents- I am shocked to come home and discover that my children want to eat dinner. Don't they know how tired I am?! Do they really need to eat dinner EVERY day? Tired mommy and hungry kids taught me the value of the crock pot! I now use it to make the majority of all of our dinners! I love the ease of throwing simple ingredients in the pot in the morning and coming home to a finished meal. Here are five of my family's favorite crock pot recipes: Ingredients: 1 1/2 pounds of boneless chicken breasts or tenders 2 cups of your favorite salsa 2 cans of corn (do not strain) 1 packet of taco seasoning Rice Shredded cheese Sour cream Directions: Place the chicken, salsa, unstrained corn and taco seasoning in the crock pot. Cook on low for 6-9 hours. Take the chicken out of the pot and shred with a fork or with...