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Social Studies Topics that Matter for Elementary Students

Despite the negative reports posted on the hour, despite the comments sections on most websites, despite the ever-growing notion that we are more divided now than we've ever been before...

We still have hope. 

We, LaNesha Tabb and Naomi O'Brien, have joined together to write what we like to call our "love letter" to students all over America- and even beyond. We seek to heal, enlighten, and promote curiosity about our world, it's past, and the present people in it.  This resource is for you. 

Our hope is that this resource widens perspectives, encourages conversation, and promotes the idea that different isn't "bad" or "weird." We believe this can be done at even the youngest ages. We realized that we were both guilty of only teaching Black History in our classrooms and that that wouldn't cut it when we live in a nation full of diverse people. In this resource, you'll find just about every heritage month that is recognized nationally. Our goal was to create a unit that has something for everyone inside. Why?

Because knowing stuff about our world matters. 

We have created a resource that covers Social Studies subjects for primary grades. In these monthly thematic units, we cover fresh and interesting topics in the areas of civics, history, sociology, geography, and economics. There's a little bit of everything in here- differentiated reading passages, activities, crafts, mini-books, e-books, assessments...the works! It can be adapted anywhere from grades K-3. LaNesha is currently teaching the modified version in kindergarten and Naomi teaches her gifted and talented students- all from the same resource!  

Here is a snapshot of the January Resource! 

Lastly, we wanted to make sure that you could see the big picture for where we are headed, so we'd love to present the overview for the year! Are you ready? Annnnnd scroll! 

See? We weren't kiddin'! Our goal was to recognize as many cultural groups and interesting topics as we could! We are so excited to expose our youngest students to our rich history, sociology, civics, geography, and economics! Little kids can do big things and think big thoughts and we hope this resource encourages just that! 

Common Core Activities for December

December is always so much fun at school, but unfortunately, also crazy busy! When I taught first grade, there were always SO many themes I wanted to integrate into the curriculum. There's gingerbread, Polar Express, reindeer, Christmas around the world... The list goes on. There are a lot of cute and fun things I wanted to do, but I also wanted to make them meaningful. This week on my blog, I shared some of my favorite activities from years past. These are all FREE activities that I posted years ago that have been updated. They all hit several Common Core Standards, too!

This fun writing activity is a follow-up to comparing gingerbread stories. All of that information and details for this activity can be found HERE.

This activity starts with a cute fiction story with it's own comprehension activities. It leads us to our big question: Are reindeer really the best animal to help Santa? This leads us into opinion writing, which can only be done after some research. Lots of standards hit with this one and the kids are really into it! There is also an option for shared writing, if your kiddos aren't ready to do it on their own. Perfect opportunity for modeling writing skills! Click HERE to get read all about it.

This activity can be found all over, but I blogged about how I turned it into a fun shared writing assignment. I also created a rubric for those of you who do want it to be an independent writing activity. Click HERE to read more.

Finally, a great addition to your Polar Express unit. Click HERE to read more.

I hope one of these activities fits into those lesson plans for the short, but busy, month of December.

Writing Workshop Tips

Are you looking to begin or tweak Writing Workshop in your classroom?

Writing Workshop has been a important and delightful part of my classroom for over ten years. My students and I absolutely adore writing workshop! Yet - I'm still in a constant state of refinement.

Here are some tried and true tips for what has worked well over the years, regardless of the writing curriculum I was using...Let me know which tips you find most helpful!

Growing Firsties - writers workshop tips

Make sure to pin this post so you can come easily back to it when you want to add more layers to your workshop or have more questions.

Heads up - this is a MONSTER BIG post! Took me over two three months to write (#reallifefirst #thenbloglife) and there's SO much more I could say about each tip. #teachingiscomplex #whichiswhyiloveit #mostdays #somedaysijustwantjammies

Here we go...

Growing Firsties
(There are some affiliate links in this post.)

This one's a big deal that can have a big impact...
All writers need to feel successful. As a teacher who ditched the deficit model decades ago, I am eagerly on the hunt for positive, genuine ways to compliment each writer as often as I can. Not only is this kind and humane, it respects the writer's developmental stage and builds on his/her strengths. And they ALL have strengths.

In an effort to be strategic...
Compliment based on your teaching points...and do it in a loud-ish's another opportunity to reinforce what you're teaching. will benefit all who overhear it.

In order to feel more genuine, your compliments will often sound like "noticings."

If your mini-lessons are about including introductions, your compliments (noticings) might sound like...

"I notice you introduced your piece with a question!"

"You're trying out a sound effect in your introduction!"

If your mini-lessons have been about improving writing stamina, your compliments might sound like...

"Check out the way you're really sticking to it today! You're not letting anything distract you from your important writing work!"

"Wow! I noticed that you turned your body away from your friend so that you could stay on track with your work. Powerful decision!"

If your mini-lessons have been about editing, your compliments (noticings) might sound like...

"Look at you, going to town, editing your piece for punctuation!"

"I see you edited for using capital letters only for names and at the beginning of sentences!"

For 11 more tips, pop on over to this Growing Firsties post!

6 Easy Things You Can Do to Change Negative Behavior in the Classroom

When dealing with negative behavior in my classroom, I love to make sure I have a lot of ideas in my back pocket to pull out and change what I don't like. Here are 6 things I do that you may want try out and add to your arsenal management techniques!

       1. Make a weekly behavior chart and allow the student to come up with their own behavior goal.
Meet with the student frequently to find out how they think they're doing. Ask their input about how you can help them reach the goal they set.

   2. Choose a responsible peer to partner up and be a role model for their classmate. The student with negative behavior must be willing to accept encouragement and direction from their peer. The peer must realize they are NOT in charge, they are simply helping.  This has always worked great in my classes! (As long as the responsible one isn't taken to the dark side in the process)

 3. Leave positive notes for your student to start the day off right! Yes, maybe they ended the previous day by not completing any assignments, and refusing to follow directions, but today is a new day! Let them know you still believe they can change, and that a new day can be their new start.
Handwritten notes and a treat go a long way, too!

 4. Have some behavior reports handy to document incidents in the classroom, and to involve the parents. (Just make sure this isn't the first time you communicate with them. Start off on a positive note.)
Having behavior reports really helps me to keep track of a student's repeated behavior. Sometimes looking over past reports helps me to recognize a pattern or even a trigger for certain behaviors. It also helps to involve the parents and show the student that you AND their parents are a team, and do not find their behavior acceptable.
These are also great to pull out at conferences if negative behavior persists. Sometimes the student and their parent don't realize how much of a problem there is until they see it right in front of them.

 5. Make some incentive tickets! You know what your student likes. Make some behavior tickets that they will really want to work for. You can decide what it takes for them to earn one. Completing their writing assignment, not calling out the entire day, being respectful at Specials. Whatever you need to them to work on!

6. Make some badges for your students to sport! Chances are your student is acting out for attention. Train them to seek attention for positive behavior instead of negative. I let m student wear these badges and encourage their classmates, other staff members, and even the principal to ask them why they are wearing it, so they can proudly boast about the good choices they've been making!

I hope these ideas help you in the ways they've helped me out!

Have fun teaching- Naomi

For more ideas or for the resources shown click the links below!

Guided Reading Strategy to Help Fluency

Guided reading strategy to help with fluency

Hi all, It's Emma from Clever Classroom

Okay, let's talk guided reading for emergent readers.
Reading comprehension and fluency are vital reading competencies for any reader, especially our beginning readers. These leveled reading pointers provide a FUN, hands-on system for your students to grow their fluency. These reading sticks will help children follow and understand the text that they are reading.
When I taught kindergarten I had an inspirational mentor who helped me understand loads of things like: phonemic awareness, phonics, guided reading and spelling strategies. I am so passionate about these aspects of teaching all these years later. She helped me understand 1:1 correspondence with text and how students move from that to sweeping their finger under the text as they read. Finally, students should move away from these two foundations to reading just with their eyes. This was a great framework for my students.

Guided reading strategy to help with fluency and reading competencies
Providing a Concrete System to help Children with Fluency
I found that some of the students needed concrete materials to motivate their reading progress. I came up with a fun way to help my students. Reading pointers aren't new, they have been around for years. I remember using them more that 15 years ago!
Another great idea is to use transparent counters to help students read the word they are pointing too.... anyway....
Providing students with a system will ultimately help them grow and motivate them to keep going. It's kind of like giving them goals to work towards. We all love that, right?
Guided reading sticks - 3 levels to help motivate children and develop reading skills
Different Countries, Different Guided Reading Levels or Systems
I know that different countries use different leveled systems, eg. letter and numbers and some colors. Which system does your state or country use to represent leveled readers?
No matter which system, I am referring to the first emergent and beginning reader levels. You might implement the graduation of pointing, sweeping and eye sweeping slightly different to myself, that's okay, you can decide when to change up the sticks.
What do I Need? 
The sticks are easy and very quick to make. your students might like to help!
I found three different sized popsticks, but you could use just one size if you wanted.
Reading sticks for guided reading. Use three levels to promote reading fluency with emergent and beginning readers.
What are the Three Levels?
One on one correspondence is first. I use this for the first 2-3 levels.
Guided reading idea fluency with 3 levels of reading sticks for emergent readers
I promote reading with a sweeping finger for the next two levels. The best way I thought my students would understand this was with a paintbrush. Woot-woot, it's kind of FUN!
3 levels of reading sticks to match emergent reading progression great idea for Kindergarten first grade and reading RTI
Then finally, I encourage students to be using no fingers, and just their eyes to follow the text as they read. I would invite students to use the eye sticks for one level as a transition to independent eye scanner reading. After this, there are no more sticks!
Guided reading idea to build reading skills

guided reading fluency sticks 3 levels for Kindergarten and first graders
These fun sticks are a great way to help children progress and develop their reading competencies. I hope your students love them too.
Guided reading sticks - 3 levels to help children's developing reading competencies including fluency and comprehension
Thanks so much for dropping by. I hope this idea helps to motivate your students as they develop their reading skills.
Similar Teaching Ideas
You might also like our Reading Reminder Slips which are a fantastic way to communicate with parents and also remind students which skills they are working on at home with their take-home readers.
guided reading skill and strategy reminders  Guided reading reminder slips to help develop reading skills and strategies
 If you're looking for emergent reading centers that are hands-on and that will last the entire year, and are also super-dopper FUN, your students will enjoy these centers and printables. They are matched with kindergarten or emergent reader skills set for both reading and writing. Click the image to see more.
I can read center activities to last the entire year   Kindergarten reading books and activities
Learn to read and write activities for kindergarten
Thanks so much for reading, I do hope it helps.
If you are a mad word work and reading nut like me, then you might like to join me over on my blog; Clever Classroom.

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Thanks for dropping by.