February 20, 2016

Making Pairs in the Classroom

Making spontaneous pairs is one of my least favourite parts daily classroom life, but it is so, so necessary.  We know that cooperative learning is a key component of success at the elementary level and beyond.  But when it comes to the inevitable "Think, pair, share....", or "Work in partners...", or "Grab a buddy..."  I know that someone will be left out.  I can always see my students making eye contact with each other, signalling 'Will you be my partner?'

Sometimes I have partners assigned ahead of time, and other times they are told to talk to an elbow buddy (someone they can touch with their elbow without moving from their current spot).

This year, I added in Animal Pairs to randomly assign partners, and it is going so well!

February 14, 2016

And The Winners Are...

I want to start by saying a huge thank you to everyone who helped to make my blog launch a success. Thank you to those who instagrammed, and blogged about my giveaway, and for all of the teacher-authors who donated products.  I am so in awe!

Without further adieu, I have two winners for my prize packs....

February 13, 2016

Planning for a Sub

This has been an up-and-down week for me as a teacher. I have been away for most of it... sick... ugh! Man do I miss my kiddos. I had some amazing Valentines activities planned for them, but had to leave them in the hands of a very capable substitute teacher. Thank goodness for wonderful subs, I don't know what I would do without her!

Does anyone else feel like being away sick is more work than being at school?  I know I need to take the time to rest and heal, but planning for a substitute is just so much work.  There are so many good grab-and-go sub plans out there, but sometimes I just want things to continue my way, and I know that's not always possible.

In this season of colds and flus, it never hurts to be over-prepared with sub plans!  I try to have a binder of writing assignments, math projects, and classroom routines all prepped and ready to go just in case I can't be in the next day.

If you want to win $200 worth of ready-to-go units for elementary students, or a shopping spree at 10 Teachers Pay Teachers stores (plus a $15 site-wide gift card), head on over to the previous post, where I am giving both of those away for FREE!.

Am I alone in this anxiety over leaving my class with a sub?  How do you plan for your inevitable days off?  Let me know in the comments below!

- Rachel

This post has been part of Friday's News, hosted by RclassroomsRus, head on over to see other great Friday updates from awesome Teacher-bloggers.

February 10, 2016

Blog Launch Giveaway

Welcome to the brand new blog for Poet Prints by Rachel Poetker.  I am so glad that you are here!

Although I have been trying my hand at blogging for the past few months, I finally invested in a beautifully designed blog.  It was worth every penny.  I used Blogs Fit For a Queen, and they were wonderful to work with.  They took a colour palette from my home, and pictures of real decor from my house, and integrated them into my blog colour scheme!

I just love how this blog reflects who I am.

I am kicking off the brand new blog with an amazing giveaway!  There are two prize packs to be won, and lots of chances to get your name in to win them.

Prize Pack #1 - TPT Shopping Spree

This prize pack is filled with gift certificates to amazing shops all over Teachers Pay Teachers!  To start, there is a $15.00 gift card that can be used site wide.  Then, go shopping at seven different (and equally amazing!) TpT stores for your choice of any resource from each one!

Click through to browse sellers participating in  TPT Shopping Spree:

Prize Pack #2 - Resource Roundup

This is the ultimate elementary resource pack.  Writing, reading, math, smart board lessons, no-prep packs, year-end awards, games, crafts... this pack has it all!  There are more than 20 units, lessons and resources, and it is valued at over $200! 

Click through to browse sellers participating in Resource Roundup: 

February 08, 2016

The Easy Way to do Subtraction

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Subtraction in Third Grade - Not as easy as it looks! 

There are parts I love about teaching.  Reading? Writing?  Speaking?  All over those!  Creative centers and integreated learning? Check and check!

But math?  Ugh.  That is my achilles heel.  I have to work extra hard to make sure that my students are getting the best possible math education.  Finding strategies that work for everyone just does not come easy for me.

Am I alone in this?

I spend my evenings on Pinterest, and reading other blogs about strategies that work for other teachers, and I try to implement them in my classroom.  I desperately want my kiddos to succeed.

Recently, our math curriculum introduced subtraction with missing numbers.  Boy, were we lost.  Do we add?  Do we subtract?  What is the question even asking.  There are so many times when the materials we have (especially the text book), just is not enough!

So I started from scratch.  I made new worksheets, new posters, and a new "cheat sheet" to help guide my confused bunch of third graders.  After a bunch of repeated practice... I think we have it!  Praise the Lord!

So, I am sharing it with you.  Use it, try it, let me know if it helps your kids to master this concept.  Although this is available on Teachers Pay Teachers for $3.25, blog readers can have it for free when they sign up for my mailing list.  Once you sign up, a link with the unit will come straight to your inbox.  I promise not to spam your mailbox (nobody likes multiple e-mails a month, or even a week!), but it's a great way for us to stay caught up, and for me to send more free lessons and units your way.

Sign up form is below.  Once you've subscribed, let me know what you think in the comment section!

- Rachel

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February 05, 2016

I Love Reading

When I first began student teaching, my mentor teacher always used to say that there were three things that must happen each day in an elementary classroom.  First, students need to write something.  Second, students need to actively read something.  Finally, there needs to be a point in each day where the teacher reads out loud to their students.  No matter how busy or crazy the school day, he always emphasized the importance of reading out loud, and students loved it.

I've carried those three rules into my own classroom, and reading out loud is something that both I, and my students, always look forward to.  I try to pick from a variety of texts as I read out loud: novels, picture books, information texts, silly poems... almost anything!  Here are a few of my favourites books to read out loud: 

The Book With No Pictures (by B.J. Novak)
This book is one of the silliest read-alouds I have ever purchased, but even after reading it a dozen times (no exaggeration) my students are still begging me to read it "just one more time."  Make sure that you're ready to be a little bit goofy, and play along with the story in the book! 

My Mouth is a Volcano (by Julia Cook)
This one is my favourite "teaching" books.  It has a lesson, and my third graders find it easy to connect to the story.  In My Mouth is a Volcano, the main character has difficulty with 'blurting' his thoughts and answers during class, and finds help in visualizing his words as a volcano erupting!  I have a class of excited 'blurters' this year, and it's been great to find a book that helps us to see how blurting may hurt other classmates' chance at sharing their ideas. 

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library (by Chris Grabenstein)
This book is a few levels above my third grade students, but I read it aloud for a class novel study.  It's a great book and has about a hundred chances to make text-to-text connections while you read! It follows the adventures of a group of seventh grade students as they explore (and escape from!) a brand new library designed by an eccentric master gamemaker.  Think The Amazing Race meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Note:  The first quarter of the book is a little bit slow, and introduces a lot of smaller characters, but stick with it, it gets a lot better! 

How about you? What is your class reading right now?  What inspires you as a teacher?

- Rachel

This post is a part of the "I Love Reading Link Up" hosted at Busy Bee's Activities.  Head on over there to check out what other amazing teachers are recommending!

*All images of books are from Amazon.com 

February 02, 2016

The One iPad Classroom

In the fall, my school did an in-school Professional Development day.  It was a 'best practices day' and a few teachers were asked to present on something that was working well in their classroom, or something they felt confident to teach to others.  I love technology!  My classroom has a projector and an iPad, and I was asked to present on how I effectively use a single iPad to instruct and teach in an elementary classroom. 

I was nervous, but I have to say, it went really well!  So well, in fact, that I'll be giving another pro-D talk later on this year to a larger group of staff!  (Wish me luck!)  Our school may not have a huge technology budget for the elementary department, but with a little creativity, there are still many ways to use technology to make students' classroom experiences better.  Even before I was given a projector for my classroom (only two years ago now), I was finding creative ways to use a single iPad, or an old iPod touch to add to the learning environment.  

This is the PDF I handed out at my presentation.  It walks through hardware needed to set-up, apps for teachers, apps for students, and effective classroom uses.  Please feel free to use it at your school, keeping my logos and copyrights in tact. 

- Rachel