Setting High Expectations for Students

Setting high expectations for students, from my experience, always results in higher achievement. However, the expectations and goals need to be different for each student. There are usually groups of students who can achieve the same high goals, but having one high expectation for all students can sometimes leave other students feeling like failures. The key is to have different goals i for each student. Knowing all students can learn is a MUST in order for teachers to move forward in helping each student to improve.  This knowledge needs to be brought to forefront of your consciousness by staying aware of your words and thoughts, even out of the classroom. I’ve heard educators who claimed to know all students can learn, but then would utter the word “He can’t learn anything” while eating lunch in the teacher’s lounge. Some teachers indicate that a whole class was impossible to teach. We have all had students who seem like they don’t understand a concept, no matter how many different ways we introduce it to them, and then suddenly they walk in one day and POOF – they get it!  If the teacher had considered it too difficult, or had given up before trying a different strategy, the light may not have ever have switched on for that student.

Another valuable tool is how we communicate our expectations to students. Here are strategies used successfully:

1. Tell the students your expectations for the whole group, and then individually pull them aside to explain individual goals.

2. Find out as much as you can about their interests by taking surveys and asking questions.  Teaching students using their interests is one of the best ways to break through any intellectual block they have in academics or even behavior. For example, if a student loves boats, use boats in math examples, boat books or magazines for reading, and let them write about boats.

3.  Communicate your expectations to the parents in newsletters or parent conferences.  They can give you great insight to what the student’s interest levels are as well.

4.  Provide opportunities for students to work in groups to make discoveries.  Don’t answer questions, but instead lead them to make their own discoveries by asking questions and communicating to them that you know someone in their group will find the answer.  This may seem difficult the first few attempts, but once they get the hang of working together to get answers without the teacher, they will be hooked and not depend so much on adults for the answer. This is our main goal as educators. To create a learning environment where students are independent learners and teachers only play the role of facilitating, leading, and inspiring.

5.  Provide specific verbal encouragement all day. For example, “Johnny, I knew you could solve that math problem. Can you share what you found with the rest of the class?”  Students love to know they did something well and share with others.  Once you share their accomplishment with the class, you’ll notice the rest of the class will follow suit, and even try to do better than the example you shared.

6.  If your goal for a student is about behavior, use signed contracts with the student stating your mutual expectations.  If necessary, attach it to their desk for daily review.  The contract should state what the expectation is, how the student can achieve it, and what they will receive when accomplished.  You don’t need to give candy etc… but it is helpful to let the student choose their reward.  The reward system should be gradually removed once the student consistently demonstrates a pattern of the expected behavior.

Nashville TpT Conference

Okay, I know I told you all my next post would be about the Hawaiian Themed Classroom Decor Bundle, but I am so excited because I’m getting ready for this years Teachers Pay Teachers Conference in Nashville.  We are driving. (We=My Hubby and I)  He will keep busy with some friends we have there while I “work.”  Have I have told you how much I love TpT?  It has been the biggest blessing in my life.  So when I return, I promise to share more about the Bundle and the conference.  You can click HERE, if you want to peek at it.  Especially if you have going to have a beach themed room, you will love it!  It makes me want to jump back in the classroom. I’m not going to, but just a quick thought. 😉  Follow me on IG, or my FB page, if you want to see updates from the conference.  See YA’ ALL soon!

#TpTNashville18 BOUND

Hawaii Heaven Classroom Decor

I haven’t posted lately because I was on my dream vacation in Hawaii!  It was everything I imagined and more.  The pictures don’t do it justice at all.  Although Waikiki and Honolulu were a bit more commercialized than I expected, I found one island just amazing!  My favorite island was Maui.  If you love tropical vacations, like I do, it is an experience of a life time.  I live in Florida, so I’m use to the beach life.  The Road to Hana, hidden waterfalls, legends, Poke Bowls, caves, rain forest, volcano, spectacular snorkel spots,  and friendly locals made a magical trip for my family.  The trip hit the wallet a little harder than I expected even with all the research I did prior to the trip, but it was well worth it. Now, I have so many ideas for a new classroom decor!

Every corner I found inspiration for new #TpT products.  I took a lot of pictures  to create a tropical classroom decor pack that I can’t wait to see come to life.  So far I have made a Hawaiian themed Color Word Posters and a Word Wall Banner Set.  These will become part of a Hawaiian Theme Classroom Decor BUNDLE… COMING SOON.  Go check them out though, if you are thinking about a beach classroom theme for your classroom. One of our favorite hidden lunch places that we just happened to stumble upon is called The Garden Terrace at Kula Lodge!  Eat outside while enjoying the spectacular entire west side of Maui view.  They have an outdoor wood-burning pizza oven that my kids still talk about today!  Mama’s Fish House Restaurant was our favorite place on the island for catching a view of Maui’s amazing sunsets.  The food is absolute terrific!  You can find some of the sunset pictures in the new calendar pack I’m in the process of making that will be part of the set.  I rarely post pictures of my family on my blog, but here is one showing the beautiful sunset.

Check back in the future for blogs on the new Hawaii Themed Decor Sets that I will have up in my Teacher’s Brain store soon.  As they say in Hawaii… Mahalo!!!!

I realize some of you are not on summer vacation yet.  You may want to check out the blog post about End of the School Year Activities.

Father’s Day Coupon Book

Looking for something fun to do with your kids for Father’s Day?  Try this coupon book that looks like a matchbook.  It has ten coupons that the kids fill out saying what the coupon is good for, and a unique matchbook cover.  Ideas for coupons are included.  Some ideas are coupons for hugs, cleaning their room, breakfast in bed or washing the car.  Share any ideas you have for to make Father’s Day special.

End of the School Year Activities

Okay, so hopefully you have all that testing behind you now and are freed up to do some educational activities that are engaging for your students!  I always have an end of the year celebration with my student that is themed-based.  I also have an end of the year celebration where the parents are invited to share some special moments with their child before summer heats up!  Here are some theme ideas that I usually let my students choose from:

  1. HawaiianSPY DAY Themed Days - SPY Mystery Thermatic units
  2. Spy Day
  3. Beach or Ocean Day
  4. Pirate Day
  5. Circus
  6. Mad Scientist Day
  7. Craft Day
  8. Super Hero Day

We do activities with items I purchase from Oriental Trading Co. usually.  I also ask parents to donate items for the day.  Superhero Themed Activities - Superhero Themed Day - CentersWe make a t-shirt to go with the theme.  All the activities are educational, but they are theme-based. This is a do just for kids, but I do have a couple volunteers helping me with activities.

When I invite the parents to the room, we have a slideshow showing pictures taken throughout the school year.  Each year, (20 so far) I’ve made individual photo albums for all my students and present them to the parents as a parting gift.  Even though these cost me a lot, they proved to be priceless! Many students return years later with that album in hand. They tell me how meaningful the albums are to them.  One even said, “When I’m down, I can look at it, and it always cheers me up.”  I’m glad I invested in them.  Then, I have parents bring in a dish to share.  They can also bring in footballs to play outside with the kids after we all eat.  It’s a great day!  To make it really special, I also give every child a candy certificate as a keepsake.

Then end of the year is a busy time for teachers, but it also the best time to make memories that will last a lifetime with your students, build connections with the community, and celebrate the time you shared together as a class!End of the Year Awards Certificates EDITABLE - Candy Awards - Superlatives

 

 

Spring Teaching Ideas for Kindergarten and First Grade

Springtime is one of my favorite times of the year to teach! Flowers bloom, everything is new, sun shining, and engaging resources.  I use lots of spring themed lessons including Easter activities. My all time favorite thing to do, is to step away from the curriculum, just a little and teach poetry! Students really learn to love literature when they see how much fun they can have with words!

Spring also means new plants and flowers are in the process of growing.  Students have a blast learning all about plant parts, dissecting the plants, germinating their own seeds and more in this 3 week Plant Unit.

I also use Spring Worksheets with my kindergarten students that are themed in all subject areas!  This creates a connection across the curriculum areas.  The printables also meet most state standards in reading, writing, math, and science.

Of course celebrating springtime would not be the same without some fun spring and Easter activities in the classroom for our students! Students get creative with art supplies making butterfly glasses, bunny headbands, jellybean math, and life cycle books.  Whatever you do with your students, make sure you are having fun right a long with them! Happy SPRING!

 

How to Sell on Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT)

Teacher friends are always asking me how to start selling on TpT.  I love helping others!  I look forward to helping the people who have already took the step to become a seller (Teacher Author), and helping others who want to create some time saving resources for teachers.  To be honest, it is not easy.  I started part-time, just working on the weekends.  Now, I resigned from teaching and work TpT full time.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE every minute of this job, but it is time-consuming.  Like anything, the more you focus on something, the more successful you will be at it.

How to be a TpT Author

 

First, let me have you ask yourself a couple questions to see if it is right for you.

  1. Do you have an educational background?
  2. Do you enjoy creating teaching material?
  3. Do you have a computer?
  4. Do you have time to spend creating materials?
  5. Have you worked in PowerPoint before?

If you answered yes, then there is a pretty good chance that you will enjoy working with TpT! Now, what do you need to do to get started?

 

Step 1: Join Teachers Pay Teachers.  You can use this Referral LINK to join as a seller for FREE. Once you get comfortable, and know it is the right fit for you, I highly suggest you upgrade to the premium account, so you get a better payout.  Think of a great name for your store.  You can use your own personal name like a lot of sellers, or you can create one that keeps your brand separated from your person.  Once you decide on a store name, check first to make sure no one else has your name by typing it in the TpT search bar.  This will be the way people remember you, so spend some time to really decide on something you will be happy with in the long run.

 

Step 2: Use PowerPoint to create your first resource.  The first one is a free resource, so make it nice so everyone knows what they can expect from you in future resources, but don’t go over 10 pages.  My first one was only 1 page, and it is really not a good representation of my type of products I offer now after all of my growth, but it makes me happy to see where I started.

TIPS FOR YOUR PRODUCT:

Create a Cover, Put a copyright on each page, Have a boarder around each page, Find images and fonts on TpT to use in your product, (there are some free ones who just want you to link them in the credits and you can use Pixabay for commercial use images for free),Don’t break copyright law by copying others, Make a great preview (maybe the product in action), Make sure the description is clear

 

Step 3: Once you are happy with your first product, upload it. Repeat this with another product and this time put a price on it! Now it gets exciting! TpT has resources for you to find how to properly price items.  Make sure you look around the web site to become familiar with all it has to offer.

Step 4: Download the TpT app to your phone, so you can hear the CHA CHING sound that plays when you get a sale.  It is motivating!

Feel free to visit my store Teacher’s Brain to look around to see how I write a description, make covers, and previews.  There is a lot more to learn, but this should get you started.  Do a search on YouTube for tips on how to make covers in PowerPoint.  That is how I got started.  After a few months, I  was able to create resources that I was really confident about making for teachers.  If you need a course that will really get you to focus, try The Focused Teacherpreneur Course with Shelly Rees.  It has been a game changer for me, and worth every penny.

 

Good Luck!

St. Patrick’s Day Classroom Ideas for Kids

I was recently asked what I do for St. Patrick’s Day with students.  I am a huge fan of  engaging students through various holidays! St. Patrick’s Day has always been an exciting day with the students joining me in looking for a little trickster leprechaun on campus!

weather unit rainbow

I made a small pair of pants out of green fabric.  I would mess up the room when the kids where at lunch, sprinkle some glitter around the room (even in the toilets), and hang the pants on a cracked open window.  The students would look for the trickster everywhere.  When they would find the pants, we would laugh about how there was a little leprechaun running around without pants.  He would always leave a gold coin on the desk for the students.  Now, how does this fun tie into education?  First, we would read a book about a tricky leprechaun.  I also have a fantastic activity called The Paper Leprechaun where the kids have to make their own paper leprechaun using fine motor skills after listening to a poem, and the pot of gold goes missing.  They write out a personality for the paper leprechaun and then write about how to catch one!  For a home project, the students would make leprechaun traps working on problem solving skills at home with their parents.  These would be shared with the class during the week.  I would sometimes display them in the media center.  During centers, students made rainbow art. Each student would get to make their own LUCKY Shamrock Hat to wear for the day.

paper leprechaun cover      Leprchaun cover

For math, we would sort, count, graph, and eat Lucky Charm cereal. Who doesn’t like a little snack while learning!Lucky Charms Math long

Play some Irish traditional music while the kids are working using Pandora, YouTube, or Amazon.

ST. Patricks day headband

Need some great books to share with your students? Look below…

Read Across America Ideas

Dr. Seuss is the perfect author to inspire students of all ages to read.  As teachers, we love to share his work during Read Across America Week and to celebrate his birthday with March activities.

Here are some great ideas to help you inspire your students with reading themed activities.

Red fish

One Fish , Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish is a classic delightful book that helps students with colors and counting skills.  Have students make their own colored fish to display in the room.

Oh The Places

Read Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss.  Then, have students make their own hot air balloon craft.  They can even write about where they would go.  I like to use tissue paper or wallpaper squares to decorate the balloon.

s7

Wacky Wednesday is a fun way to spend a Wednesday during Read Across America with Dr. Seuss.  While the students are at lunch or recess, make your classroom “wacky” by changing the clock, hanging things like shoes from the ceiling, putting socks inside the tissue box or turning a desk upside down.  Then, have students see how many “wacky” items they can find out of place.  They can play rhyming games this day or make a “wacky” animal using different animal body parts.

s6              s5

How about these cute Halloween printable glasses?  You can easily turn them into something creative during the week for students to wear during reading time.  Tell them that the glasses are magical and help them to focus on the story you are reading.

Invite a guest in who dresses up like one of the characters from Dr. Seuss’ books to read to the class. Make sure to have a CRAZY SOCK day also to go with the Fox in Socks books.  I also like to ask students to send in their favorite Seuss books to share with each other during reading time.  I have them find rhyming words in the books.   They love it!

s4         s2

Ask parents to send in a special treat for a day like these yummy Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes.  Make task cards with Seuss colors like this WHAT CAN I DO WHEN I’M DONE for Early Finishers.

s1

Of course, no Read Across America celebration would be complete without making Green Eggs and Ham with your students. (Check for allergies first.)  I had my students make these hats out of paper plates.  No matter what, have fun with your students this week.  This is a great week for students to explore new words, use their imaginations, and feel inspired to read a good book!

 

Sources for Printables: http://bit.ly/2HLe8s3