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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sarcasm in the Classroom

Let's talk about sarcasm. There's been some online chat lately about whether sarcasm is appropriate in the classroom. I'd like to share my stance on it today.

Using Sarcasm in the Classroom
I was raised in a family of smart alecks. Typically the comments we make to one another in my family are not meant to be hurtful, but just funny. Granted there is a fine line between the two, but I think there is a definite difference between them as well.

Have you heard of Bill Engvall's comedy routine - Here's your sign? Below is a little video if you're not familiar with it.

This type of humor is what my family is all about. Occasionally we say something that is obviously not the smartest comment we've ever made. However, our family members will point this out in a witty manner, and everyone will enjoy a good laugh. 

Does humor like this belong in the classroom? Some say no. I would say yes, but only after you know your students well and know where to draw the line.

If you choose to use sarcasm in the classroom, you must use caution. Don't make any comments that might be taken the wrong way. Make sure your face shows that you are kidding. Know your students well and know when you've crossed the line (which hopefully won't happen!)

Sarcasm isn't for everyone. As I stated earlier in this post, I grew up with it. I know the difference between joking around and crossing the line! (And on the few occasions that I don't, I've apologized profusely right away!)

One last thought on sarcasm... A veteran speech-language pathologist I worked with told me that every child needs to learn sarcasm. It occurs often in the workplace, and students need to be exposed to it in school. I had never thought of sarcasm that way, but she has a point. There are sarcastic people everywhere. Sometimes they are rude, but sometimes they use sarcasm in a fun manner. Students need to know the difference. As teachers, we can teach them this life lesson in the safety of the classroom. 

Enough of my rambling thoughts. What do you think of sarcasm? Do you use it in your classroom or are you completely against it? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Using the TREE OCTOPUS to Teach Students to Evaluate Websites

Today's students have always known the internet. They have grown up in a world where much of the information we read each day comes from online sources. With this it's important for them to learn how to evaluate websites and decide which ones are credible. For that - try the tree octopus!

Using the Tree Octopus to Teach Students to Evaluate Websites

Yes, yes - you're probably thinking I'm ridiculously insane right now if you've never heard of this before. However, go do a quick search on the tree octopus. All sorts of sites show up! This phenomenon has been around long enough that sites show up with the word "hoax" prominently displayed. However, with a little ingenuity (or a class website) you can still set up a great lesson!

  • Send your students to the site 
  • Have them take notes about the tree octopus, and let them know they will be sharing these with the class. I recommend limiting the amount of time necessary for this. You don't want one of them catching on to the fact this animal is fake, and you also don't want to spend too much time on this lesson. After all, the point of the lesson is to teach them to EVALUATE websites - not honestly learn about the tree octopus.
  • Have a class discussion about what they learned. In my experience, they are going to enthusiastically share what they have read because they find it so fascinating. Slowly start questioning them. Ask things like, "Have you ever heard anything like this before?" or "Do you think it's too crazy to be true?" 
  • Hopefully at this point they are beginning to question what they read a bit. Guide them in the direction of realizing they should do more research. You should pull up a Google search that look something like this:
  • Point out the words I've circled in red. Not that Google is perfect, but the students should realize that seeing multiple words like this should at least raise question marks in their head. 
  • How far you go with the discussion is your call. However, I always used this as an introductory lesson for research projects and internet use. I wanted students to realize that they had to put some critical thinking skills to use when using the internet. 
The moral of this lesson that I always hoped my students understand is that just because they find something online does not mean it is true! 

If you want to take this lesson even further, you can also try these sites: The Dog Island or Buy Tigers

What do you think your students' reactions to this lesson would be? How do you plan on using this in the classroom? Please let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

HUGE 3rd & 4th Grade Educents Deal!

It's hard to believe it's already back to school time, but it is! Some fellow bloggers and I have teamed up to bring you great resources that will make teaching a bit easier!

You will get 56% off various 3rd and 4th grade curriculum products. With nine instant downloads (236 pages of materials), you are sure to love these interactive notebooks, printables, thematic units, and more! 

Stock up on this great curriculum deal! You will receive nine products totaling 236 pages of awesome content! Reading, Math, and even some science is included!

All these items regularly retail for $42.97, but you can get them for a limited time at 56% off - $18.99!

Includes 9 instant downloads and materials including printables, task cards, units of study, interactive notebooks, and much, much more.

Academic Concepts Covered
parts of speech
water cycle
and much, much more

You get nine great products in this bundle and three of those are from me! 

From me you will receive:   

Irregular Verbs Magic Square Puzzles

Multiple Meaning Word Task Cards

Multiplication Magic Square Puzzles

But that's not all!  Check out what else you get:

56% off and only for a limited time!  
Head on over to Educents to stock up for your third & fourth grade year!  

What do you think? Tell me about it in the comments below! 
Better yet - tell me what bundles you'd like to see me participate in with Educents in the future!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dictionary Resources for the Elementary Classroom

Today's students don't need to have the same dictionary skills as students of days past. With all the technology available, it's easy for students to use spell check. BUT that doesn't mean spelling or dictionary use has completely gone away!

Dictionary Resources for the Elementary Classroom

In order to help students become more comfortable with dictionaries, they need to practice! I've compiled various dictionary activities to help you get your students the practice they need.

Introduce the Dictionary

Dust off an old dictionary and make sure students know what it is. This may seem a bit too basic, but I've had upper elementary students look at me like I just grew a third eye when I told them to pull out a dictionary. Take the time to show them what it is and how to use it!

Make sure your students understand how dictionaries work. Rebecca Bishop has a great anchor chart freebie that will help explain a dictionary entry to your students. 

Review the Basics of Alphabetical Order

Do a basic ABC order to help introduce students to how to use the dictionary. Once you've got that basic skill retaught, dive right into actual dictionary use! Cara Carroll has a fabulous idea over at her blog! {She even turns the activity into a super cute art project!}

Linda Nelson at Primary Inspiration has a great freebie on her blog if your students need more alphabetical order practice. 

Review the Basics of Guide Words

Teach students understand that guide words allow you to look at just those words and not the entire page of words. It never ceases to amaze me how students finger through an entire two pages of words looking for the word they want when it isn't even there! As teachers, we need to ensure they realize how the guide words work and that they are there to help us!


There are many great ways to practice dictionary skills. This vocabulary building freebie from Natalie Snyders is one great way! 

Grade School Giggles has another great freebie on her blog. It's better for younger learners who still need the guide lines when writing. 

Dictionary Dig is a great activity to use with any word list (even spelling words)! I Love 2 Teach has the freebie right on her blog! She even has a bonus on her sheet where students write riddles!

Use this freebie from Rachel Lynette to get some more practice. And Teaching in Flip Flops has a fun bulletin board that gets even more dictionary practice in! 

Keep on Practicing

If you need even more hands-on dictionary ideas, Rachel Lynette over at Minds in Bloom has some great ideas in this blog post. The Elementary Librarian also has a great list of activities on her website

There are also two products in my store that help with dictionary skills. The first is entitled Dictionary Fun: Syllable Search. It has students practice their syllables and dictionary use at the same time. With five printables included, students will find ten words per sheet. They need to be creative and search the dictionary for the word with the most syllables. You can turn it into a game, particularly as a center!

What dictionary activities are your go-tos in the classroom? 
Shout it out in the comments!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Teaching Place Value {Great Ideas, FREEBIES, and More!}

It seems like most math curriculum and teachers start the year teaching place value. It makes sense. After all, students need to understand how to break numbers apart before they can learn to do much else with them. And regardless of how many times they've learned place value in the past, there will be at least a couple who act as if this is a foreign concept. That's ok! They'll get it. =)

Today I want to share some great place value ideas that I've gathered from around the internet. So grab a cup of coffee, that Diet Coke, or another beverage of choice, and enjoy these place value ideas!

Teaching Place Value (Great Ideas, FREEBIES, and More!)

This little song is ADORABLE! Tessa from Tales Outside the Classroom shared this freebie, and I absolutely fell in love with it! Click here or on the picture below to go download your copy from her blog. 

This YouTube video is another great way to help students understand how place value works. 

Ashley Benoit from The Teacher's Treasure Chest has these FREE Place Value Sorting mats. Print (and laminate if desired) and have your entire class break apart numbers using base tens blocks. Click here or on the picture below to get your free copy. These mats would be great to use as a group activity where the teacher tells the students what numbers to create and is able to give immediate feedback. Or I could also see this working well for guided math or center work. It's that versatile!

Ashley has another great idea for teaching place value on her blog. This DIY flip chart is an awesome idea! Click here to learn how she did it. {And if you're not a DIY person, you can buy something similar here. Or use these dice instead!}

This flip book is another really great idea! You can create your own, but I think I would do mine sideways so it's more realistic of how numbers really look. This great idea came from the Parenting Passageway.

Needs a more hands-on approach for teaching your students place value? Then try this activity by The Curriculum Corner. She's got free cards you can print off so groups of students can visually move to where they are supposed to be. Students who need a kinesthetic learning approach will love this one!

Here's another activity for the student who is hands-on. This idea comes from You can print out the little number cards when you get the link from them.

If you want a game for your students to practice their place value, how about some Magic Square Puzzles? There are three of them available in my TpT store, so your students can slowly master the concept! Start with two digit number puzzles, then move on to three digits, and end with four digits numbers. By then, they'll be pros! =)

Want to make sure you're fourth graders are really understanding place value the way they should be? This FREEBIE from Wild About Fifth is a great tool! Simply give the students this exit slip, quickly check them over, and you'll know if your students have mastered the concept or need a bit more practice. 

Here's another game from Teaching in Room 6. Students can play this game with a simple dice and sheet of paper (or a whiteboard). Head over to the blog or click the picture below to learn more about how to play. 

Need even more place value ideas and freebies? Then how about this Expanded Form Roll a Dice game from Sparkling in Second Grade! Or this Roll It, Make It, Expand It freebie from Teaching First is great also! 

And if that's still not enough, Alyssa has more great ideas over at her blog post. You can check them all out here or by clicking on the picture below!

Want even more? How about these ideas from Teaching with a Mountain View!

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Which of these have you tried with success? Which one will you try for the first time this year? Or what other ideas do you have to share? Sound off in the comments! 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Site Wide TpT Sale - August 3 & 4

Just a quick post to let my faithful followers know that there's a site wide sale going on at Teachers Pay Teachers on Monday, August 3, and Tuesday, August 4. Make sure to go and check it out because you will find savings up to 28% off site wide! 

Here's a direct link to my store

Here's a direct link to my Magic Square Puzzles.

Now I'm off to fill up my cart! Don't forget Promo Code: BTS15

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Back to School Tips for the Busy Educator {plus a FREEBIE!}

It's about that time again - Back to School! Whether you are excitedly ready and raring to go or sticking your head in the sand for a few more days/weeks, it's coming! Who couldn't use a couple tips to help them start the year off right? No tips needed - then how about a freebie?! This blog post has both!

Let's face it - you're busy! So how about we keep it to five simple tips that you can easily implement. 

Here you go!

Tip #1 - Overplan!

There's nothing worse than breezing through everything you had planned for the entire day by lunch. (Been there, done that! I was a bit lot clueless that first year I taught Kindergarten!) Make sure you plan enough meaningful activities to get through the entire day. Think you've got enough? Plan some more! It cannot hurt you to over plan, but being under-prepared can be a bad thing. 

Tip #2 - Explicitly Teach Your Expectations!

Make sure you teach every.single.thing you want students to know! Do you expect them to line up a certain way? Teach them that expectation/procedure. Do you have certain rules? Teach them what they do and do not look like! Want to make sure there's no foul language in your classroom? Make sure you teach that too! I've even had to teach students to close the door to the bathroom. If you want it taught, don't assume they know it! Teach it!

Tip #3 - Reteach!

Everything you taught in Tip #2. Teach it again. Show another way. Let the students practice it. You won't get all of your procedures taught on the first day. But be ready to repeat yourself a.lot! That's ok - they'll get there! =)

Tip #4 - Introduce yourself!

Make sure the students learn a little bit about you! Whether you show students a five minute Prezi you made, bring in a few pictures, or just tell them a little about yourself - do it! You are going to be with these kiddos a LOT in the next few months. Make sure they know a real person - not some robotic teacher - is with them every day.

Tip #5 - Watch the clock!

It's not fun to be the person who has to have someone come in to remind you that your students were supposed to go to lunch 10 minutes ago. {Hand raised! Been there, done that!} Make sure you keep track of the time! Once the year gets rolling and your students are in a routine, they will help remind you of what's going on during the day. (Well, normally...unless they don't like that activity.) But on the first few days of school, it's up to you! Don't be like me and forget to take your students to lunch! =) {They got to eat, no worries!}

Quiz time! Do you remember rule #1? 

Plan and be prepared!

Since you've stuck around this long to read my rambling {and obviously passed my quiz ;) }, how about I help you complete tip #1! This great Back to School Magic Square Puzzle FREEBIE will work great in those first few days of school. Keep it on hand in the first day or two in case you run out of materials. If you don't use it on those days, then save it for when all that baseline testing begins. Students will have a worthwhile critical thinking activity to complete while you assess their peers.

The best part? This puzzle will help your students understand the concept behind Magic Square Puzzles so you can use them throughout the year! There are many great Magic Square Puzzles to choose from in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, so you can get the ones that best work for your students!

Need more back to school ideas? 
Check out my Pinterest board devoted to the beginning of the school year!

If you're reading this by 8-1-15, then don't forget to enter the giveaway going on! It's geared mostly toward 4th, 5th, and 6th grade math teachers, parents, or homeschool families. 

Thanks for stopping by!