Primary Chalkboard: September 2015

What We're Chalking About OCTOBER: A Visual Calendar

Hello everyone! It's Christina, from Miss DeCarbo's Sugar and Spice! 
I am so excited to share a little sneak peek with you of all the upcoming blog posts we will be publishing during the month of October! 
October is my FAVORITE month! I love everything about fall - and we have a lot of fall goodies and ideas in store for you in this month! So grab a cup of hot apple cider or a pumpkin spice latte, throw on your favorite sweater, and get cozy with our visual calendar for the month! Our talented and super passionate teacher-authors can't wait to share some amazing ideas with you!

To receive our blog posts directly so that you do not miss anything fabulous, click HERE.

Here is what we will be blogging about this month:

To remember this post, you might like to pin it.  That way, you can come back to see the posts throughout the month. 

If you have any topics you would like us to write about, please leave us a comment below. We love hearing from you!

We can't wait to share all of these great fall ideas with you! See you soon!

Fostering A Positive School Culture- An Administrator's View!

     It can be felt by EVERY SINGLE PERSON that enters your building. The minute anyone opens your school doors and walks inside, an immediate impression is felt. Often it is one of happiness, structure, and confidence. Sometimes a building may have a sense of chaos, frustration, and discontent. Regardless of whether it is good or bad- the point is that it is there.
     Now, you might be wondering why this matters. One might say, "Who cares what I feel when I enter the school. As long as kids are learning and teachers are teaching, and administrators are dealing with discipline, then everything is right." Sadly, they couldn't be MORE wrong.
     In that instance someone comes into the building, an important connection is being made in their minds- this school is a good school, or, this school is not. It sounds so cliche and corny, but I truly believe that it happens.
     So, that being said, how does a school foster a positive culture? One where students enjoy coming each day to school, teachers are empowered to be their best, administrators devote their time to leading, and parents are confident and feel supported in the education process. 
     It isn't an easy undertaking, and one that may take months or even years to correct. 

Click on over to my blog, An Educator's Life, to read MY story and see ideas and suggestions for increasing the positive culture in YOUR school!

Thanks for stopping by!

-John Hughes
Elementary Principal
Owner, Created by MrHughes
Proud Member of The Elementary Chalkboard

To find out more about me and my teaching ideas click below.
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Content Integration and Close Reads

Hey y'all! I hope everyone has gotten off to a fab new school year. I have been in school for about 2 months already. But I can't complain because tomorrow starts my first fall break ever! A whole week off after 7 weeks of school. I really hope our calendar for next year keeps this break because kids and adults definitely needed it!

Today I wanted to do a throw back post to one of my own more popular posts about integrating Close Reads and Social Studies. I know there isn't enough time in the day to really set aside time to teach all subjects the way they should be taught, so I decided to pull my literacy standards into my Social Studies time....or my Social Studies standards into my literacy time.....either way works! I hope you are able to snag a few tips from my post that you can read by clicking {here}. Now that I am only teaching middle grades social studies, I find myself pulling in literacy standards left and right. It not only helps reinforce important reading and writing skills, but it also helps out my fellow literacy teachers.

And because it's getting to be my favorite time of year, I just have to say, "Happy Fall, Y'all!"

Heather- 2 Brainy Apples
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What's for Lunch?

Hey, everyone! It's Cyndie from Chalk One Up for the Teacher and I'm here to tackle one of my very least favorite things about back to school. Grading papers? Nope! Meetings? Nope! Lesson plans? Nope! Nope! Nope!  

It's trying to think of something quick and yummy to pack for lunch!

 Do you feel my pain?  
If you have some great ideas for lunch, I'd love to hear them, so please feel free to comment below.

I'm bringing back one of my most popular blog posts ever. Simply click on the picture below to head over to read it. The giveaway has ended, but there is still a freebie lunch planning sheet for you to grab.

I hope it helps if you're like me and dread that lunch-packing routine.

Games To Teach Place Value

Aloha friends! Corinna here from Surfin' Through Second.  I want to share with you some fun math games that I use to teach and reinforce place value in my classroom.

Students learn best when they are engaged and having fun.  I always try to incorporate math games into each lesson to reinforce concepts and practice important skills.  Place value is such an important concept. These 5 games are fun and easy to implement in your class.  You can use dice, cards or spinners for each of these games.

I'm The Greatest

Students use number cards 0-9.  They pick a card and have to decide whether to put it in the ones, tens or hundreds place.  The object is to make the greatest number possible. They can play with a partner or you can do it as a whole class. Click {Here} to Download the cards and template.

Place Value Battle

Students use cards or dice.  They can play using 2 digit or 3 digit numbers.  The first card is placed in the hundreds place, the second in the tens and the third in the ones.  The greatest number wins.

10 More 10 Less

Students create a number using cards or dice. Then they write a new number that is 10 more or 10 less.  They can play with a partner. Partners can check answers and then create their own numbers.

Expand It

Students use the spinner templates to spin a number.  They spin on the hundreds, tens and ones. They can write it in expanded form and standard form.  The person who spins the highest number wins.
Click {HERE} to download the spinners.

Money Trade

My students love this game!  You need one and ten dollar bills.  Students choose a banker.  The banker hands out the money.  Students roll the dice.  If they roll a 6, the banker gives them 6 dollars.
Once the students have 10 or more dollar bills they can trade in 10 ones for 1 ten.  The first person to get 10 tens is the winner.

This last game is a lot of fun to play with your class. It's a great way to get those minds thinking!
Some of these games might be something you already use, but hopefully you've come away with some new ideas for your classroom.  Happy Teaching!!

Math Talks are Fun!!! Plus a FREEBIE!!!

Hi Everyone! Its Latoya of Flying into First Grade!!!
I am here to share with you some resources about Math Talks also known as number talks.
I am a new math coach and this is one big initiative that I am pushing to my teachers.  I have been modeling number talks left and right. 
I love number talks because the students are engaged with each other and they are thinking mentally.  They are also responsible for explaining their thinking and coming up with different strategies to solve.  It is working wonders for our EL students.
Here are some slides from my PD and a number talk planning sheet so you can plan your own!


Alyssha here, from Teaching and Tapas. Hi!

I am shy.

Yep, it's a part of me that I feel like is so obvious when you are around me in person. I feel my cheeks warm up and heart racing when talking to new people. So much of that shyness is internal. I say this because I have had people tell me they would never describe me as shy. That's me covering up a lot of my weird nervousness :)

As teachers, we are all trying to tune into our students. I remember 3rd grade clearly and at the end of the year I realized I had never once raised my hand to talk in front of my class. Yikes!

I've had teachers who tried forcing me to talk in front of groups. Some of my teachers were helpful and could coach me in a gentle way. Other teachers made me feel humiliated and where I wanted to hide deeper in my shell. Both of those models helped shape the way I interact with my students today. Here are a few tips to keep in mind with your own students...

1. Don't tell the student they are shy. 
When someone would point it out to me, I always felt more embarrassed and like everyone was staring at me waiting for me to speak. Yuck. The feelings of sitting there, anxiously worrying that everyone is going to notice me feeling super uncomfortable. Bad feeling. It's better to just acknowledge the shy student when the speak up just as you would acknowledge every other student. Make it seem like no big deal. Of every student/teacher relationship is different and if you have an open line of communication with a shy student, your judgement is the best.

2. Give your students plenty of options to interact with silent signals.
This does not have to be a special trick reserved only for some students. Re: Tip#1, when you point it out, shyness and anxiety may become worse. So just give ALL of your students the options to use silent signals such as sign language (thumbs up, thumbs down, "I understand" signals, etc.). Not only does this get more of your students interacting in your lessons, but you are able to check the understanding of even your quietest students.

My signal for "I agree"
My signal for "I made a connection"
3. Give a silent sign before calling on a student.
If you are confident that one of your shy students has something to add, give a little warning such as place a finger on the corner of their desk or give them a wink beforehand. It can take away that deer in the headlights feeling :) With a little warning, the student may be able to find their words and think of what they want to say. This means giving them plenty of wait time.

4. Strategic buddies.
Be sure the student is sitting near someone they can relate to and feel comfortable with. This can make such a huge difference when it comes to partnership activities, turn & talks, etc.

5. Assign special jobs.
Do you have a classroom job that requires someone to interact with individuals, but not in front of everyone? In my classroom, I had a job for someone to check book bins and make sure everyone had between 3-5 books. If they had too many or too little, this person would go remind the student to adjust their book bin. A job like this is perfect for a shy student if they are willing to talk to classmates.

So there you go! I hope my perspective gives you some more tools for your toolbox when it comes to doing all the great work you are doing with your students!

The 5E Model: Engage

Hi everyone!  I'm Ari from The Science Penguin.  This is my first post on Primary Chalkboard and I'm excited to share some science ideas I use with elementary students.  
Many teachers use the 5E Model for teaching science.  I've mostly used a variation of that to incorporate stations and notebooking.

What does Engage mean?
The first "E", Engage, is your's fun!  Teachers elicit prior understandings and pique students' interest in the topic.  They ask driving questions and identify misconceptions.  This can be a fairly quick activity (in the teaching real-world) or a longer activity that lasts a whole class period.  I often do this part informally, but it sets the tone for the entire mini-unit.
To decide how you will engage your students, you have to know them.  Every class will be different.  I don't believe there is a one-size-fits-all activity that every teacher should use to engage their students for any particular unit.

Engagement Ideas
So what can you do to engage students in your unit?
1. Use discrepant events.
2. Read a picture book.
3. Do a short activity that exposes students to the concept you will be talking about.  
4. Talk about a relevant, real-world example.
5. Combine video clips and discussion.

When introducing relative density to 4th graders, we made density bottles.  Before I even uttered the word "density", we made our bottles.  Once we had our bottles full of blue water, vegetable oil,  a plastic sea creature, and a bead, we made observations.  What floats?  What sinks?  THEN, we brought in the new vocabulary.  If an item sinks, it's more dense.  If a substance floats, it's less dense.  We practiced using the new vocabulary to describe the substances in the density bottle.  It was the perfect "engage"!

Here are some more ideas for quick and easy science engagement on my blog, The Science Penguin.

"Accountable Talk"--but are they ready?

Many of us are familiar with the term "accountable talk" as it refers to discourse in the classroom.  Many districts have been implementing "accountable talk" initiatives where teachers are working hard to explicitly teach students how to engage in quality educational discussions.  I think most educators will be in agreement that this is a good idea.  After all, we know that academic discourse can lead to amazing learning--and can improve engagement and interest.  Many teachers have accountable talk "stems" or sentence starters posted and use these to help guide students through more and more sophisticated discussions.  I'm a huge fan--really!
But I sometimes stop and look at my own students and realize that, for some, we may need to back up a little from this.  It's all well and good to teach students the ins and outs of a quality discussion.  Students may know WHAT to say and even be able to explain why.  But there is one thing I think we sometimes forget--some students just lack the confidence to apply these new tools we are teaching them!  By engaging in these discussions and saying things like, "I disagree with you because..." or "I would also like to add...", it requires a great deal of confidence and risk taking.

One thing I have started to do in recent years is give students a lot more opportunities to build their oral language skills in pairs and get them used to sharing their ideas, piggybacking off of other ideas--and even disagreeing with others.  By doing this in much smaller groups, the risks go down, and confidence can increase dramatically.  

I start having partners share stories that I have on these cards.  I have a whole range of topics--things that ALL students should be able to talk about for about a minute.  We practice with our pairs making a comment about what the other person says...they might just compliment them...or ask a question...or make a connection...but it's all very relaxed.  I may then invite some students to share ideas with the whole class.  I love to make the connection to writing--about how learning to TELL stories is the first step in WRITING stories.  This practice accountable talk is fun, relaxed, and builds comfort in a much safer environment than in front of the entire class...and allows me time to walk around and "coach" and make suggestions.
 Sometimes, too, it's fun to just throw a word or phrase out there and let the students talk!  The other day, I presented this card to the class...and we practiced agreeing and disagreeing with each other in groups of three.  We had people talking about their opinions about roller coasters...about personal experiences about roller coasters...and even about how they work and how dangerous they can be.  What do you notice?  That's right--writing genres!  This was the perfect time to talk to students about how a simple topic like homework...or snakes...or losing..,can lead to countless discussions or pieces of writing.  In fact, after they had their roller coaster discussions, we did some whole-class sharing and then I sent them off to their writer's notebooks to free write on the topic for about 15 minutes.  Their pencils were furiously scratching across their pages--and I know it's because they had some amazing discussions before  they wrote. students are having a lot of fun with language these days, are getting to know each other, and are building their confidence daily.  As we move deeper in the school year, I know that more and more of them will be ready to chime in to class discussions and really use those accountable talk stems I have hanging there!

Because I use these so often in my class (these are great fillers when you have 5 minutes...while you wait for a special transition in from recess...), I did make a nice laminated set for my class.  I have put them in my store as well--I know this would be SO easy for teachers to do on their own, but sometimes just having them done is so nice!  I have informational topics, opinion topics, and cards geared for personal narrative stories--so I can use these with every genre of writing I teach.  Here is the link if you are interested.  Thanks for stopping by today!


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