Rss

 - TeachersPayTeachers.com

2 Timesaving Technology Tools for Teachers

Teachers, I estimate that we only spend one-third of our time actually in the classroom teaching. Would you agree? Long after the students are dismissed, we spend our hours planning, marking, doing professional development and preparing materials for the lessons we planned. Technology is supposed to make things better, faster, and more efficient, but often learning the technology, itself, becomes a burdensome time-consuming chore.
As educators, then, we must constantly evaluate where to spend our time. Which tech tools will actually help us with our profession and which will take a lot of time to learn with limited practical application. Today I want to share with you two tech tools that have changed the way I plan, mark and organize everything. I share these tools because I believe that these tools really will help you and save you time, rather than waste it. Today I’ll introduce them, but over the next few weeks, I will highlight the many uses of these two tools for the classroom.
evernoteicon  The first tool is an app called Evernote. Evernote is a web-based application that allows you to make notes that you can then tag, file and have access to, from any device. Whether using your phone, iPad, tablet, home computer and/or any other device you may have, Evernote syncs your information between all devices seamlessly and allows you to find it with ease.  You can also record or create information in any format. Here are just a few examples:

Continue Reading >>

Easy Steps to a Differentiated Spelling Program

25waysspellingfunEach September I begin by asking my students why we write? I want them to fully understand that the basic purpose of writing is to communicate our ideas. Grasping this concept is a step in the right direction to having them want to improve their skills.  After all, if they work at developing good writing skills, it will be easier for them to get their message across.

This leads us to the spelling issue. In this day and age of spellcheckers and technology, do we really need to focus on spelling in school?  The answer is yes. Poor spelling leads to miscommunication, so I use an example of poor spelling to get my point across.  After seeing the difference that spelling makes to the clarity of a message, students are eager to improve their skills, but the traditional spelling list does little to actually help them achieve their goals. The trick is tailoring the spelling instruction to individual needs of students.  This is a summary of how I differentiate to meet the spelling instruction needs of my students. I hope it will help you meet the needs of your students, too.

  At the end of these lessons, you will be able to:

*identify and share the different purposes for writing

*identify improving spelling as a way to better communicate in writing

*identify and apply common spelling generalizations in own writing

Write this message to your students on the board or pop this picture up on your smart board.  Turn and talk with an elbow partner:spellingexemplar

Why was it difficult to read the message?

In a whole-group discussion, share the problems with the message: spelling, punctuation, printing.

What would you do to improve the message?

Give students a copy of the message and see if they can work with a partner to make it better.

Hand out new notebooks that the students will use to improve their spelling of the words they don’t know. Label the book with “My Spelling Words to Study”.

Explain to the students that we all have different spelling skills, just like we all wear different shoe sizes. That’s why we all need to work at learning to spell different words, but first we need to know which words we need to work on.

Follow up with a test of the top 300-500 (depending on grade level) high-frequency words. It may take several sessions to complete this diagnostic assessment. I usually give about 50 words at a time. Higher grades may want to use words  500+. I recommend using Rebecca Sitton’s Spelling Sourcebook

After each test, mark the student’s work and circle each misspelled word and write the correct spelling word beside the misspelled word.

Following the tests, have students transfer the first ten of the correct spelling of the words they need to know to their “Words to Study” list included in this package. We will repeat this each week from the 300 words. After that, I will give a new test of the next 100 high-frequency words and/or use the “problem words from their writing”. Students now have an individualized list of words that they need to work from during the year. Each week they will work on these words during their word work time using a variety of generic spelling games and study activities which have been taught.

For home practice,  I give students a recording sheet to make their lists each week.  This is how I set mine up:

Each week the students will refer to their “Words to Study” list to make their spelling list to study for that week. If you are teaching specific spelling patterns each week, you may have them choose five words from the list and five words from the spelling pattern you are currently studying. They make two copies of the list.  One that goes home to study and one that stays at school for the peer test that students give each other later in the week. If students do not spell every word on their  “Word Work/Spelling List Record Sheet” correctly, they must transfer the words they got incorrect, to next week’s list  and continue to do so until they have mastered them. Each week that they master their list, they get a coin for their “Master Spellers” certificate. At the beginning of the year,  I also send home the “25 Ideas” in two page protectors. Students can post these on their fridge for fun ways to practice their words at home.easyspelling25ways

Vital to student success and growth in spelling will be the provision of many goal-setting conferences to identify successes in improved spelling in their writing.  The connection between good spelling skills and clarity of written messages needs to be continually reinforced during these teacher-student conversations.  These conferences should go a long way towards helping students see that their efforts are resulting in progress toward their better spelling and communication goals.

On in my TPT store, I put together a complete package for you to help get you started. In it,  I tried to include everything you’ll need for your word work program this year. Included in this package you’ll find:

easystepsmultisheet* My Word to Study Listwordstostudypic

*Student Spelling List Record Sheets

* Student Spelling test sheets

* Word Work Activity Ideas

* “Master Speller” coin collector student sheet

I hope this is a valuable resource for you in providing a differentiated spelling program for the students in your classroom. The whole package is on sale this week to give you a chance to get it, and try it, for an introductory low price.  Check it out here:

EASY STEPS DIFFERENTIATED SPELLINGcoins

Questions? I’d love to hear from you. What do you do in your classroom to differentiate instruction for students?

Best,

Sharon

How to Use the Quest Teaching Site

Welcome to Quest Teaching!

This is a website built by a teacher, for teachers. In fact, in my class, I teach from the site every day! It is my hope that it will be as helpful to you as it is for me, so I wanted to just highlight how the site works and how to find a whole treasure store of valuable teacher tips, book reviews, and educational resources to inspire learning. Let’s get started.

Main page:  The main page of Quest Teaching includes a collection  all the blog posts, in every subject area.  Every time there is a new blog post it will be posted on the main page and on the related subject page for easy access.

The sidebar of the main page includes many teacher tools, blog sites, curriculum links, and educational resources. I hope teachers will find these connections useful in their lesson planning and classroom management. It is my goal to put all these useful tools in one place because I know that teachers don’t have time to be constantly searching.  That’s why I have done the “quest” for them and included any sites, blogs and tools that I find useful or have been recommended by other teachers.  I will keep updating the sidebar as I find new great teacher tools and blog-sites worth following.


3_GoldenBeryl
2_Garnet 4_Rainbow 1_Diamond 5_peach 6_Emerald 7_Ruby 8_purple 8_purple 9_sapphire

Coins: Each coin represents a subject area. By clicking on the coin, the teacher will be taken to a page which highlights all the published blog posts related to that subject.  As well, the side blog roll on that page will include websites and tools related to topics in each subject area.

Quest Projects: Woven throughout the Ultimate Treasure Quest are the themes of community and service. This page  is the place that your class can become aware of many worthy service projects in which  they can get involved.  Each project will be highlighted by guests who have a heart for serving others. Every organization is just a click away, found on the sidebar under the type of non-profit organization or cause that it represents.  Talk about real-life learning applications!

Quest Teachers:  This will  be the place to share with other teachers who are using the novels or the  many other resources found at Quest Teaching. This is a place to leave your comments, share ideas for how you are using the resources in the classroom, ask authors questions, and connect with other classes.  Also, watch for updates, teacher time-saving tips, technology tips and new resources available to teachers. They will all be posted here!

Quest Classes:  This is the place that I send my class and I hope you will send yours!  Here, your students will find a  safe place with links to a variety of kid-friendly websites that can be used to differentiate your classroom learning environment. The sites are arranged by subject area on the side-bar.  If you are wanting students to access the site links on iPads, then download the photon app and browse the Quest Teaching site with the app.  All the flash websites will work.

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, or homeschool educator,  I hope this helps you better navigate the Quest Teaching site and helps you inspire others to keep on in their learning quests.

As always, I’m here for questions and comments.

Sharon

Interesting Narrative Helps Students Connect

They say that necessity breeds ingenuity.  There is truth in that.  I was terribly bored when the whole idea of teaching the curriculum through the narrative hit me.  As the drone of the “professional development” presenter faded into the background of my thoughts,  I started to wish that I had chosen a different session. Suddenly, I realized that I often do the same thing to my students.  I bore them.  If I wanted to learn from this session, then I needed it to be relevant, engaging and connected to my teaching practice.  That got me thinking, what if this presenter were presenting me with the same information, but it was presented through “story”.  Then I would be interested. Suddenly, there it was; the entire concept for Quest Teaching.  What if… I  could craft a story that would connect many curriculum concepts throughout the narrative, for my students.

Then the teacher in me came out and I started to think about the criteria for the story. This is what I came up with:

1. It would have to be good literature; not filled with contrived dialogue imparting knowledge to my students, but rather a fast paced exciting quest that would hook them into the learning before they knew what was happening.

2.  It would have to have all the elements of good literature: well developed characters with which the kids could connect, action woven throughout an intricate plot, interesting vocabulary to increase their love of words, use the variety of literary techniques that I teach them to use, and of course, be centered around a problem that was curriculum related, but kid relevant.

curricularconnections

Click to see all the topic/chapter curricular connections!

3.  I wanted the story to provide jumping off points for lessons in science, social studies and language arts at a minimum, and   hopefully link to other subjects, too.  Could it provide a hook to learn about mapping while it also led into a lesson about rocks and minerals? (Can you tell I’m a theme teacher at heart?)

Could this be done?  I’ve always loved writing, so was I crazy enough to try?  The answer is yes!  I planned the story and it all came together. All the skills and concepts I wanted them to learn could be embedded in the plot!  I started by modelling the writing process with my class. Each week I would share the new chapter that I wrote, after planning and marking, of course.

The response was magic! They loved it, and begged for more.  It really worked better than I ever imagined. My students identified with the characters, and rooted for them while they were taken through the story and they loved the page- turner endings of most chapters. But, the best part was – the story gave me a way to connect all their learning. The “remember when…” factor provided me with the jumping off point for lessons that I was seeking.  As the students identified with all that the characters had gone through, they connected it to the classroom lessons and therefore, they were immediately interested and engaged.

The_Ultimate_Treasur_Cover_for_Kindle (2)

Click here: Now available on Amazon

Today, one year and one month later, I received the first shipment of the paperback novels. I am now a published author and I am now thrilled to offer this exciting quest to other teachers, parents and anyone who loves a good story and loves helping others learn about the wonderful planet we live on.  It is my quest to help you take youth on a Quest that will incite them to find the Ultimate Treasure of Learning!