Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary! D.E.A.R.

bookWhat do Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, Beezus and Ramona Quimby, Otis Spofford, Ribsy, Socks, and Ralph S. Mouse have in common?  They’re celebrating Beverly Cleary’s birthday on April 12th.

April 12th also is National Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) Day.  D.E.A.R. is a reading celebration that encourages families to make reading together on a daily basis a family priority.

Beverly Cleary’s beloved character, Ramona Quimby, is the program’s official spokesperson. Ramona is responsible for spreading the word and the love of reading.  All this came about because Beverly Cleary received many letters from readers who participated in D.E.A.R. at their schools, so she gave the same experience to Ramona in Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (link to amazon, book and movie).

The goal of National D.E.A.R. Day is to show families how to make time to drop everything and read.  It’s easy to set up and host your own celebration.   The D.E.A.R. website features information and tools to promote your celebration. There’s also a list of Favorite Read-Aloud Titles for Families of D.E.A.R. Readers

Students get really excited about D.E.A.R. in the classroom: have them read any and all books by Beverly Cleary.  My parents read her books when they were in elementary school, and now Beverly Cleary’s books are published in twenty countries in fourteen languages.  Beverly Cleary’s autobiographies, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet
, fueled my dreams of writing children’s books.

Happy Birthday, Beverly Cleary!  Now, I’m off to read!

Posted in Accelerated Reader (AR) by Corey Green @ Apr 11, 2016

 

How AR levels are determined

argenrechallengeMany schools use the Accelerated Reader Program (AR) to guide students’ independent reading.  In essence, children read books and take a computer based AR quiz to earn points.  Points are based on the reading level of the book and the word length.  Points are awarded based on the quiz score.  A student must earn a passing score to receive points for a quiz.

Your child’s AR level is determined by a test called Star Reading.  This test is part of Renaissance Learning’s suite of programs designed to work in conjunction with AR.  Star Reading is a multiple choice test with a fill in the blank format.   Students read a sentence and choose the word that best fits the blank.  The test is self-adjusting because question difficulty varies based on whether students answer correctly.

In essence, Star Reading is a test of vocabulary.  This is appropriate because vocabulary is an excellent predictor of reading ability.  I have found the Star Reading test to be quite accurate for my students.

Observations and Comments:

  1. Most children do not read at grade level.  This makes sense, because grade level is basically a median.  Half the students are above, half the students are below.  The child’s AR level is usually determined by a statistic called independent reading level, which is the level of books a child can comfortably read on his own.
  2. Sometimes parents want their child to read above the assigned AR level, but this can be a mistake.  Children improve by reading books that are fairly easy for them.  If the child is struggling to read the words, he can’t understand the story.  The child will not improve reading comprehension by practicing like this.
  3. The way to move up in AR levels is to read, read, read!  Encourage your child to read everything available at his or her level.  By doing this, your child will pick up new vocabulary words.  The Star Reading score will rise, as will the AR level.

Connection:  You can also help your child build vocabulary by reading aloud.  Choose books that are above your child’s AR level.  Children can listen at a much higher level than they can read themselves.  Your child will naturally absorb new vocabulary.

Posted in Accelerated Reader (AR) by Corey Green @ Mar 7, 2016

 

The 5 BEST Leap Year Worksheets online–all FREE!

boyleapingClassAntics has the best Leap Year worksheets online.  They were hugely popular in 2012 and have been a hit in 2016.  ClassAntics Leap Year worksheets teach reading comprehension, math, and writing.  Here are all the Leap Year worksheets in one place.  Enjoy!

Start with a reading comprehension worksheet about Leap Year.  It’s a good, basic introduction to the concept of Leap Year that is appropriate for third grade and up.

Students like the writing worksheet about how and why Julius Caesar created Leap Year and rearranged the calendar. This worksheet challenges students to write a newspaper article about the event. The article gives “notes” our fictitious reporter took at the press conference—in a handy who, what, where, when, why format.

Here is an fun reading comprehension worksheet called “Fun with Leap Year and Leap Day.” The passage and questions are indeed fun. What other worksheet challenges you to figure out what Pope Paul III and Ja Rule have in common? (Answer: they were both born on Leap Day.)

Next is my fun “Was it a Leap Year?” math worksheet that lets students apply their knowledge of divisibility by 4. Hints for determining divisibility by 4 are at the bottom of the page. The worksheet teaches a special case: century years. Because a revolution around the sun does not quite take 365.25 days, only century years divisible by 400 are Leap Years. The worksheet gives a student-friendly explanation and challenges them to determine if a century year was or wasn’t a Leap Year.  I also have provided an Answer Key as a separate download.

My Leap Year Idioms worksheet helps you teach students about idioms—a commonly assessed concept on state standardized tests. Have some Leap Year fun with idioms based on the word “leap” or “year.”   Here is the Answer Key as a separate download.

Posted in Uncategorized by Corey Green @ Feb 28, 2016

 

Tips for a Smooth Valentine’s Day Party

Valentine penguinValentine’s Day is a fun, low-key holiday.  The most important thing is the Valentine Cards!  Let your class enjoy handing out Valentines, reading them, and munching on a limited amount of treats.

  1. Buy extra boxes of Valentines for kids who don’t have any.  Sometimes it’s a matter of money, or just a too-busy family life; other times an English Language Learner doesn’t have valentine cards because his parents don’t know about this elementary school tradition.  Parents, an extra set of valentines makes a nice donation to your child’s class.  Teachers, buy extra Valentines at the Dollar Store.  I also buy Valentines at 75% off after the holiday for next year’s supply.
  2. Decorate Valentines bags: Let your students color designs on plain white paper lunch bags.  This is a good way to channel Valentine excitement on the morning of the party.
  3. Learn about Saint Valentine: Why not bring a little history to the day?  Report highlights from Saint Valentine on Wikipedia to your class.  Or read aloud from a book:   Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda is a good choice. (AR Reading Level 5.4; 0.5 points)  With beautiful illustrations and simple text, this is a good Read Aloud for elementary school.
  4. Watch a movie: Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown is sure to be a hit!  With all the Chimpunks mania of late, let your class go old-school and watch the animated show, Alvin & the Chipmunks: A Chipmunk Valentine.
  5. Limit the treats: I recommend just one treat–and make it good, like a cupcake.  This way, the focus is on cards and classmates–and nobody gets sugar high.  I ask parents to send in Valentine’s sale treats after the holiday for our Emergency Party Supply.

Teachers: Keep a hefty supply of thank you notes!   I keep them on hand so I am always ready to write a thank you note immmediately.

Posted in Classroom Management,Holidays,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Feb 13, 2016

 

Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 3

Leap Year Idioms

Teachers, here is a FREE Leap Year worksheet written by a National Board Certified Teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy it! Here is the Answer Key.

This worksheet helps you teach students about idioms—a commonly assessed concept on state standardized tests. Have some Leap Year fun with idioms based on the word “leap” or “year.”

If you haven’t seen them already, check out Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 1: Leap Year Reading and Writing

Part 2: “Fun with Leap Year and Leap Day” reading comprehension and Leap Year Math

Posted in FREE Worksheets,Fun With Literacy,Holidays by Corey Green @ Feb 1, 2016

 

Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 2

Fun Reading Comprehension and Leap Year Math

Teachers, here are FREE Leap Year worksheets written by a National Board Certified Teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy them!

Here is an enjoyable reading comprehension worksheet called “Fun with Leap Year and Leap Day.” The passage and questions are indeed fun. What other worksheet challenges you to figure out what Pope Paul III and Ja Rule have in common? (Answer: they were both born on Leap Day.)

You and your students will enjoy learning about Leap Year luck (or lack thereof), Leap Year marriage proposals in Ireland, and the quandary posed by a Leap Year birthday in The Pirates of Penzance. The questions are all opinion based—and in my opinion, you shouldn’t grade them! Give students credit for completion, then go home and kick back to enjoy the rest of Leap Day.

Next is my fun “Was it a Leap Year?” worksheet that lets students apply their knowledge of divisibility by 4. Hints for determining divisibility by 4 are at the bottom of the page. The worksheet teaches a special case: century years. Because a revolution around the sun does not quite take 365.25 days, only century years divisible by 400 are Leap Years. The worksheet gives a student-friendly explanation and challenges them to determine if a century year was or wasn’t a Leap Year.  I also have provided an Answer Key as a separate download.

Don’t forget to download the other two worksheets in Free Leap Year Worksheets Part One.

Happy Leap Year!

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays by Corey Green @ Jan 25, 2016

 

Free Leap Year Worksheets Part 1

Reading Comprehension and Writing Nonfiction

Teachers, here are FREE Leap Year worksheets written by a National Board Certified Teacher. I hope you and your students enjoy them!

The first one is a reading comprehension worksheet about Leap Year.  It’s a good, basic introduction to the concept of Leap Year that is appropriate for third grade and up.

Next is a writing worksheet about how and why Julius Caesar created Leap Year and rearranged the calendar. To shake things up a little, this worksheet challenges students to write a newspaper article about the event. The article gives “notes” our fictitious reporter took at the press conference—in a handy who, what, where, when, why format.

Stay tuned for Free Leap Year Worksheets Part Two: Leap Year trivia reading comprehension and Leap Year math!

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays by Corey Green @ Jan 19, 2016

 

Ballad of Birmingham

book“Ballad of Birmingham” is a famous poem about the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 in which four girls were killed.   Of all the lessons I present in connection with the Civil Rights movement, this is the most emotional and memorable.

Read the poem.

I recommend the book Free At Last: A History of the Civil Rights Movement and Those Who Died in the Struggle. A double-page spread shows pictures of the girls and explains about the bombing.  This book was developed as part of the “Teaching Tolerance” program at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

You can use materials from BalladofBirmingham.org to teach your students about the poem.  You will learn the story of the bombing, the story of the poem, and the story of the song.  I recommend that you read the poem with your students.  The song should be a separate experience, but it is one worth sharing.

Here is a video with the song and news footage.  I recommend that you view it yourself and decide if it is appropriate for your students.

You can also see a clip about the church bombing from the History Channel.  This explains the context of the bombing in a powerful, visual and concise way.  Again, view it yourself and decide if this is appropriate for your students.

**I discovered the poem “Ballad of Birmingham” as a child, when I won a Dr. Martin Luther King Day essay contest at the US Navy base in Naples, Italy.  There was a ceremony in honor of Dr. King.  I read my essay, but by far the most memorable part of the day was when my friend Keisha’s mom recited “Ballad of Birmingham.”  She ended by singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”   This powerful performance is one of my most cherished memories.

My essay compares Dr. King’s dream to the international community at the NATO base in Naples, Italy.  Read my essay at the About the Author section of my CoreyGreen.com website.

Ballad of Birmingham by Dudley Randall

“Mother dear, may I go downtown
Instead of out to play,
And march the streets of Birmingham
In a Freedom March today?”

“No, baby, no, you may not go,
For the dogs are fierce and wild,
And clubs and hoses, guns and jails
Aren’t good for a little child.”

“But, mother, I won’t be alone.
Other children will go with me,
And march the streets of Birmingham
To make our country free.”

“No, baby, no, you may not go,
For I fear those guns will fire.
But you may go to church instead
And sing in the children’s choir.”

She has combed and brushed her night-dark hair,
And bathed rose petal sweet,
And drawn white gloves on her small brown hands,
And white shoes on her feet.

The mother smiled to know her child
Was in the sacred place,
But that smile was the last smile
To come upon her face.

For when she heard the explosion,
Her eyes grew wet and wild.
She raced through the streets of Birmingham
Calling for her child.

She clawed through bits of glass and brick,
Then lifted out a shoe.
“O, here’s the shoe my baby wore,
But, baby, where are you?”

Posted in Academics,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Jan 11, 2016

 

Teaching Kids to Access Memorized Information

Accessing information you’ve already memorized is
as easy as Z-Y-X!

That’s a catchy way to introduce this tip: teach kids to access memorized information by showing them where to look for it, so to speak. All you need is a backwards alphabet and a buddy!

Here are the Z-Y-X steps:

Z: Ask the child to stand right in front of you and recite the alphabet—backwards.

Y: Watch the child’s eyes as he attempts this task. Note where the child looks.

X: Tell the student that when attempting the task, he looked to his top left (or top right, or whatever you noticed.)

For THIS STUDENT, that is where to look when trying to access memorized information. Everyone is different, so you will need to help each student individually or buddy kids up so the buddy can identify where the partner should look for answers.

Got a test coming up? Try it yourself and you’ll know where to find all the answers!

It’s much more effective than staring into space.

Posted in Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Jan 4, 2016

 

Sing Multiplication Songs During Transitions

bookTransitions are a difficult time for students.  It’s easy for kids to misbehave and waste time.  I don’t have all the answers for successful transitions, but I do have one: SING!  If kids are singing, they can’t talk.  (You might have to start the song over a few times to enforce this.)

If kids are singing Best Multiplication Songs EVER!, they are learning their times tables during each transition.  My multiplication songs are short—most are about 30 seconds long.  It’s a good length of time for many transitions.

My class works on times tables in a team approach.  Say we are working on 3s.   We sing the 3s while we line up for recess, lunch, special, end of day, you name it!  We sing our 3s if we have a little time between activities.

It’s simple, effective, and educational.

Posted in Classroom Management,Math,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 28, 2015

 

How to introduce two digit multiplication

Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!An occasional series with sample pages from the Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!

This tip comes straight from my Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!  The section on teaching 2 digit multiplication is very helpful for teachers looking to scaffold learning.  I break long multiplication into 3 sections—multiplying multidigit numbers by 1, 2 or 3 digits.  Within each section, a dozen or more lessons teach the process step by step.

Please use these two FREE sample pages with your class to introduce 2 digit multiplication.  This introductory lesson lets your students learn the Hugs and Kisses method to keep their numbers lined up when they have to put in that place holding O.  (The place holding O is the hug.  You put an X, or kiss, over a number to kiss it goodbye when you are through with it.)

The workbook lets students practice Hugs and Kisses by beginning with multiplying times 11.  This isolates the Hugs and Kisses skill, allowing students to focus on the procedure, not the math.

I wish I’d learned multiplication this way when I was a kid!  I hope this and other lessons from the Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! help your students.

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Math by Corey Green @ Dec 21, 2015

 

Star Wars in the Classroom: FREE ready-to-use activities

Friday is Star Wars Day! It’s doubly exciting because for many of us, Friday is also the last day before Winter Break.   Doing Star Wars lessons lets you neatly sidestep actual holidays.

Mr. Mangham, a sixth grade math teacher in Southlake, Texas, has created a Star Wars-themed packet centered around algebraic reasoning.  The entire packet is here.   Scroll through and choose what you like.  I enjoy the following lessons from the packet.  I have split the large pdf into these easy-to-access pdfs for you.   I have made no changes and take no credit.

Star Wars Word Problems: solve using algebraic reasoning

Star Wars Characters Math: choose your favorite character, then use order of operations and some very specific formulas to calculate things like the Chill and Skill Index.

Jedi Bridges: Use algebraic reasoning to solve visual puzzles.

Code.org has created a Star-Wars themed coding unit that your students will love.  There are two levels, so this unit is appropriate for K-12.

Finally, visit Star Wars in the Classroom for lessons related to many subjects: mythology, robotics, social studies, and more.

May the Force be with you.  As we wind down toward Winter Break, we’re all going to need it!

Posted in Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 13, 2015

 

Attack on Pearl Harbor: teaching tools including two FREE worksheets

“…December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

If your class is like mine, you will find that students know next to nothing about this tragic and important event.

I have taught the following lessons to both third and fifth graders.  Students are eager to learn about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and I never have any trouble keeping their attention.

First, I describe the event to students, and place it in the context of World War II.

Here is a good reading comprehension worksheet with a short passage about Pearl Harbor.  This passage gives American embargoes on Japan as the reason for the attack.  I think that children should know that destroying the Pacific Fleet was another Japanese goal for the attack.

I read President Roosevelt’s famous speech and explain it to the students.  I give students a copy of the speech.  You can print the speech and listen to it at AmericanRhetoric.com  Students are fascinated to hear this address from so long ago.  They listen much better if they can read along.

I use information from the National WW2 Museum fact sheet.  Also, I playa video clip about the attack from the History Channel.  It shows visuals and features the beginning of President Roosevelt’s speech to Congress.

After students understand what happened, I tie the lesson into writing by showing a first draft of FDR’s speech, from the National Archives.  It’s interesting to see how he developed the most famous phrases.

InstructorWeb has a nice packet about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It’s appropriate for students in 5th grade and up.   The packet features a passage to read, a chart, and questions: multiple choice, short answer, matching, and essay.

Posted in Academics,Social Studies,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 7, 2015

 

Good Holiday Presents for Teachers

Many kids ask their parents if they can give small holiday presents to their teachers. Here are some gift ideas that are always appreciated:

A card with a heartfelt message

Christmas tree ornaments—your child should sign first and last name and date them (Josie Jones, 2012) so teachers can reminisce when decorating every year.

Gift card for a local learning/teaching store

Gift card to a discount store like Wal-Mart or Target

Supplies for the class: sanitizer, pencils, white board cleaner, Kleenex, etc.

A personalized gift (I love my Miss Green apron!)

Flowers or a small potted plant

Amazon gift card

Blank note cards—teachers write a lot of notes. (You can buy nice blank cards at stores like Ross and Marshalls for about $5 or less)

iTunes gift card

A recommendation letter, typed and signed, recommending the teacher. The teacher can hold this in her file and use it for applying for another job, make a copy and give it to the principal for her personnel file, etc. It can go a long, long way.

Handmade gifts: bags, decorative items, etc.

Two gifts I personally appreciate are chocolates or candy I can share with the class (Dum Dums, Jolly Ranchers, etc.)

Remember, your child’s classroom teacher is not the only important adult at school. You might want to send in cards to a specials teacher, librarian, bus driver, instructional aide, school nurse, or the custodian who always greets your child. Classroom teachers often receive many presents at holiday time, but these school workers are often overlooked. Something as simple as a holiday card with a personalized note would be much appreciated.

Posted in Holidays,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Nov 30, 2015

 

FREE Worksheet for the Movie The Mouse on the Mayflower

Celebrate Thanksgiving and give yourself a little prep time by having your class watch Mouse on the Mayflower and complete this FREE worksheet.

Mouse on the Mayflower is a time-honored Thanksgiving movie. Your class will enjoy the cartoon story told from a mouse’s point of view.

For older students, you can use this FREE comprehension worksheet to increase the educational value a little. The questions are easily completed by a fifth-grader who pays attention. This worksheet is perfect for grades 4-6. In my experience, third graders just stress out and interrupt each other asking for the answers because they missed them.

Here’s a previous post about Mouse on the Mayflower.

Follow up other mouse-eye views of history. My favorite is Ben and Me, a wonderful book by Robert Lawson and a fun cartoon movie by Disney. It’s a great way to teach students about Benjamin Franklin and set the stage for a unit on the American Revolution. Another good mouse story is She Was Nice to Mice: The Other Side of Elizabeth I’s Character Never Before Revealed by Previous Historians, a cute mini-novel written by 80s star Ally Sheedy when she was twelve.

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Holidays,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Nov 23, 2015