Posts tagged unit plans
BEATING THE SUMMER SLUMP (and a freebie!)

April and May are some of my favourite months to be a teacher. By this point, I know each and every one of my students, and they know me.  We’ve found our perfect rhythm and can work together as a fairly well-oiled machine.

I know which students need that ‘extra push’ to do their best, and which ones need to be gently coached with a hug and a smile of encouragement. I know how to correct behaviors in a way that encourages the best from my little ones, and doesn’t crush their spirits.

Each student needs such different things, and it often takes months to figure it all out.

Look at my little hard-working students  Oh term three, how I love you!

So, for me, Term Three is the most blissful of the three.

They know what I expect in my classroom, and I (for the most part) know what they need to be successful. I still get small butterflies in my stomach when I look across the hall to the Grade Two class that will eventually be ‘mine’ next year.

I wonder how we will get to this point.

Academically, I find September to be one of the most challenging months as a teacher.

Is anyone else with me on that one?

All of those lovely, high-achieving students that walked out of the school in May or June, walk back in like tiny little zombies who have forgotten almost everything. (Or so it seems!)

Oh, the summer slump.

Teachers, you know what I mean.

It’s that phenomenon that happens over the summer where the 8+ weeks of summer vacation seem to erase our students’ brains… or at least the part that remembers how to ‘do’ school.

So we re-teach. Things that were a snap in June, are suddenly brand-new skills.

  • How to put your name on a piece of paper
  • Where to line up
  • How to use capital letters and punctuation
  • Working for more than 3 or 4 minutes at a time
  • How to open a thermos! (So, so many thermoses… side note: why has no one invented a thermos that will open itself?!)

I’ve tried all kinds of things to beat the Summer Slump.

I’ve sent home reading logs, writing journals, and extra science projects.

Some have had more success than others.

This year, I’m trying something different.

I’ve put together a “Stay Sharp Summer Packet” for my kiddos.

It covers most of the things that we have learned in Grade Three, plus a few skills from previous grades that I don’t want them to lose.

I’m spiral-binding it into a booklet and sending it home right before the break.

Purposeful practice: Summer practice pages specifically designed to practice the most important skills.  (Try out a freebie - link below!) 

It is my hope (and prayer!) that they will do one page every 2nd day.  That should be about 15 minutes of work. Just enough to help to keep their minds sharp a little bit over the summer, and maybe, just maybe, prevent the summer slump from completely erasing their brain! ;)

I'd love for my blog readers to try this packet out!  The full version is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, but I've put together a sample (9 full pages!) for you to try out for free. The full version (90+ pages is available for 5$). 

(CLICK HERE for the freebie!)  

Let me know what you think about it in the comments below.  

How do you combat the Summer Slump in your classroom or in your school? I’d love to hear your tips!

- Rachel

Inquiry Based Science

Let it Grow!

I am a big fan of hands-on learning.  The less I can teach, and the more I can let students discover for themselves the better! When I was in university, I completed my education degree in the inquiry-based cohort, and it has absolutely impacted my teaching style.  There is just so much research suggesting that when students discover things for themselves in a classroom environment, rather than have all of the information ‘deposited’ lecture-style, they make genuine lifelong connections to the learning.

This spring, we are learning about plants through a guided-inquiry unit.  It is guided because I came up with the inquiry questions (true inquiry allows students to come up with their own questions). 

We began by learning some vocabulary and key plant terms.  Then, I posed the question: “How do plants grow and change?”  I put the question on a blank bulletin board, and left room for us to answer as we moved through the unit.

Guided inquiry cards  (Pictured above - included in the whole packet)

Instead of handing them a worksheet with the answers, we began to plant! We planted beans, lettuce, scallions, marigolds, and pansies. Each student cared for an individual bean plant, and tracked its growth, changes, and how they cared for it.  In groups, they took turns being ‘gardeners’ for our group outdoor garden. 

There were so many great AH-HA moments as we used our hands-on garden as the focal point for our learning, and I think we learned more from our mistakes than successes!  My students knew the concept of photosynthesis, but only truly understood the importance of green leaves when their plants were munched by local deer!

We finally figured out why plants need sunlight after our blinds were accidentally closed over the weekend and our plants sat in the dark for 72 hours. 

We tracked the changes on our plants, and marveled at how resilient our bean plants were! 

We could not believe at how our teeny-tiny seeds turned into edible pieces of lettuce!

I cannot tell you how many parents have sent me e-mails or stopped in to let me know that they now have small gardens in their houses/apartments that are being tended to by my third graders.  It makes me smile to think that what we are learning in the classroom is already turning into out-of-school continued education! 

I’ve gathered together my whole unit into a ready-to-go packet that you can pick up on Teachers Pay Teachers.   It has everything you need: vocabulary, life cycle worksheets, inquiry questions, student notebooks, and two experiments. 

Check it out here:  ALL ABOUT PLANTS, inquiry-based science

If you try it out, let me know what you think!  Have your kiddos discovered their “green thumb”? 

- Rachel

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Easter in the Classroom

I work in a Christian school and I love it. I love being able to talk about my faith all day and play my favorite worship songs as my students work.  I have had so many incredible conversations with students about their big questions, and worries, and it's great to be able to point them back to The Word in all things.

Of all of the holidays, Easter is one of the 'big ones' in my classroom.  Teaching at a Christian school allows me to stray further from the theme of bunnies, eggs, and chicks(however cute they may be!) and focus on the story of new life through Jesus' sacrifice.

This year, to tie our Bible lessons into our Language Arts, we are going 'in depth' into the symbols seen in the Easter Story in the New Testament.

Following this complete plan, we have been learning about Jesus by actually reading our Bibles, and spending time in Bible study! All of the reading is from the New Living Translation of the Bible, and it's the perfect level for my third-grade students.  I love that they can 'dive into' The Word on their own!

Then, we craft!  In my third grade classroom, Art is a tie-in to almost every subject, and my students love getting crafty.   Check out our Symbols of the Easter Story mobiles

The whole Easter unit is available HERE  from my Teachers Pay Teachers store .

I've also created a special free version of the craft for my lovely blog readers.  You can find that HERE.

Let me know, how do you prepare for Easter in your classroom?  Any tips or great resources to share?  Sound off in the comments below!

- Rachel 

Easter in a Christian Classroom
The Easy Way to do Subtraction

Subtraction in Third Grade is not always 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?  Sometimes I feel like I am totally 'rocking it' and other times it seems like my lessons go in one ear and out the other!  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 in my class is a constant juggling act! 

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), are just 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 blog readers can have it for FREE as part of my Free Resource Library (See the link at the top of the page that says 'Resources') when they sign up for my mailing list.  

Once you sign up, the password to the library will come straight to your inbox. PLUS there are other great units and printables in there as well!  

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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