Try a Dr. Seuss-Themed Reading Buddies Session on Read Across America Day

NEA’s Read Across America Day coincides with Dr. Seuss’s birthday.  Your students are either the right age for Dr. Seuss—or way too old.  Either way, pair up with another class for a fun Dr. Seuss-themed event.

“Class reading buddies” is a time honored tradition in elementary school.  Typically, a primary class pairs with an intermediate class.  The older kids read aloud to the younger kids.

The two classes can have a great time with a Dr. Seuss-themed session.  Get as many copies of Seuss’s books as you can.  Try the school library, the public library (put BIG labels on these books and keep track of them), and ask families to send in their well-loved Seuss readers.

Pair the kids up however you wish.  There are many options:

  • Randomly
  • By reading level (pair higher-achieving primary readers with higher-achieving intermediate readers)
  • Let the little kids pick their buddy (empowering and interesting—watch them choose someone who looks a lot like themselves)
  • By interest: who wants to read The Cat in the HatOne Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish?

Then start reading!

It’s nice if you have enough computers so kids can take Accelerated Reader (AR) tests.  I would let intermediate kids take the tests, too—assuming they haven’t already in earlier grades.  They should be rewarded with AR points for reading aloud to little kids.

Consider Cat in the Hat themed art activities.  Keep it simple with coloring pages or making bookmarks.  After all, you’ll have up to 60 kids in the room (or split between two rooms.)  Here are templates:

Seussville Printables for Cat in the Hat

PBS Kids Printables

Happy Read Across America Day!

Posted in Accelerated Reader (AR),Fun With Literacy,Holidays by Corey Green @ Feb 28, 2013

 

What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 5

A National Board Certified Teacher explains what an educator’s life is really like. The series is a value-added collection of Best ClassAntics Posts EVER! Each post explains something about a teacher’s life and links to ClassAntics posts with relevant teaching tips.

Part Five: We put time, money and energy into meeting kids’ basic needs

Teachers wear many hats, slipping each day between the roles of parent, social worker, social coordinator, and tutor. We care deeply about our students and don’t hesitate to spend our time, money and energy to meet their basic needs.

Many ClassAntics posts reflect the little things teachers do for their students. The three-part series on kids and glasses shows some of what we go through: the grief we take for referring reluctant glasses wearers, how we help obtain glasses for students, and common pitfalls we encounter each year.

Kids and Glasses Part One: It Often Begins in Third or Fourth Grade
Kids and Glasses Part Two: Common Pitfalls for Students New to Wearing Glasses
Kids and Glasses Part Three: Special Cases

I feed my class every year. It started with keeping spare supplies, but as the economy got worse and lunchtime crept later each year, my class developed a Stack a Day Habit for Saltine crackers. I keep spare treats for kids with allergies so they enjoy something yummy when a classmate brings in a treat.

I like my students to be comfortable and happy when they learn. The class has a stash of sweatshirts, because Cold Kids Can’t Think. Chapped lips are a major distraction, so we have the Class Vaseline Jar with Q-tips so students can get a dose of relief. Some kids have trouble focusing because of ADHD or some other issue; I find that Point & Focus really helps them.

Sometimes we have to help our students do the best they can with the hand life has dealt them. My post about Kids Who Miss School to Baby-sit offers advice for helping students with adult responsibilities make the most of their time at school.


 

What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 4

A National Board Certified Teacher explains what an educator’s life is really like. The series is a value-added collection of Best ClassAntics Posts EVER! Each post explains something about a teacher’s life and links to ClassAntics posts with relevant teaching tips.

Part Four: Lunch doesn’t just happen

Managing a class is like herding cats. At no time is this cliché more applicable than lunchtime. We have to convince thirty children to finish their lessons, put away materials, clean up the classroom, and locate lunch supplies. Then we have to maneuver this group to the cafeteria and get everyone settled in. Some teachers have lunchtime duty; others grab a quick bathroom break, then scarf down a sandwich while doing errands and prepping afternoon lessons.

The setup for lunchtime begins in the morning, with a streamlined procedure for students to indicate the lunch they will eat today. (The cafeteria needs the lunch count so workers can prep the food.) Teachers have to organize lunch money from a variety of sources and make sure everyone’s account is current.  Otherwise, kids end up with a crummy cafeteria emergency lunch and are in a foul mood all afternoon.

Before we take the class to lunch, we convince everyone to wash their hands. Some teachers do a bathroom break; others do some variation of a hand sanitizer Squirt Procedure. We sneak in a little learning by having kids Sing Multiplication Songs During Transitions. (We can review at least four times tables in the time it takes to sanitize the class’s hands.)

Kids don’t want to keep track of their lunch box while they’re playing at after-lunch recess, so many schools have a lunch bucket to hold each class’s lunchbox collection. Our class found that The Lunch Wagon is easier to maneuver and much more fun.

Teachers really care about their kids and spend a lot of time attending to their basic needs. Nourishment is an important need, and we spend some time teaching kids how to fill up at school lunch. (Hungry kids appreciate knowing that eating their protein first is the smart way to fill up.)

Lunchtime isn’t the only time teachers manage food for thirty kids. We develop systems for dealing with birthday treats and hope parents will heed our Tips for Sending Treats to Class. We have rules and procedures to deal with Water Containers at School.

Fun fact: Lunch is an important part of the school day—but did you know it can promote diversity and build school community? The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance Mix it Up at Lunch Day has been doing just that for ten years.


 

What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 3

A National Board Certified Teacher explains what an educator’s life is really like. The series is a value-added collection of Best ClassAntics Posts EVER! Each post explains something about a teacher’s life and links to ClassAntics posts with relevant teaching tips.

Part Three: Keeping students disciplined and engaged is exhausting

Elementary school teachers spend years learning pedagogy—how to teach. Then we get our own classroom and find out that most of our energy goes into keeping kids disciplined and engaged.

Before I tried my hand at teaching, I thought kids more or less behaved at school. WRONG! If the teacher doesn’t manage every single thing, the kids quickly revert to their natural state. Which is WILD! I cannot imagine what a group of 30 youngsters would be like without a teacher managing them.  Frankly, Lord of the Flies comes to mind.

We try to learn what we can from books. The New Teacher’s Complete Sourcebook helps us plan for the school year. It even gives a step-by-step plan for surviving the first day of school. A manual like the Elementary Teacher’s Discipline Problem Solver can help with problems ranging from gum-chewing to gossip. But that advice only takes us so far.

Once in the classroom, we develop our own systems. We manage kids by sorting them into table groups and launching competitions—whoever cleans their table first wins five points, etc. But when we find ourselves accidentally wronging a child, it’s time to break out Guilt Points.

To keep the kids on their toes during a lesson, we create games like Ask Random Third Grader. Students never know if they will be called on, but they have a chance to earn points for the whole class if they answer correctly. If that doesn’t work, we resort to the desperation Fun with Whatever technique to give a boring lesson a good name: Fun with Long Division really is slightly better than plain old Long Division.

We can motivate the class to behave or achieve by using the always-successful Instant Motivation: Boys versus Girls. But to launch a learning activity, we are probably going to have to give directions. Without a system for Giving directions to the whole class, only about 20% of the students will know what’s going on.

Constant argument is part and parcel of any elementary school class. Without an iron will and a strong plan to Make your classroom a tattle-free zone, every lesson will be interrupted by a tattler.

The best-laid plans go awry when something funny, embarrassing, or awkward happens. (The classroom sink spontaneously explodes into a jet of water, a two-year-old who got away from her mother wanders into our room.) It’s best to let the class enjoy the hilarity*, then implement the We are over it! procedure for getting back on track.

Teachers can discipline, motivate, and manage all they want. But, like firefighters and ER staff, we know that if things have gone really bad, It Must be a Full Moon. (The word “lunatic” is no accident—many people really do believe that the lunar cycle affects human behavior.)

*Don’t worry, we sent someone to help the two-year-old find her mother!


 

What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 2

A National Board Certified Teacher explains what an educator’s life is really like. The series is a value-added collection of Best ClassAntics Posts EVER! Each post explains something about a teacher’s life and links to ClassAntics posts with relevant teaching tips.

Part Two: Classroom management: our daily struggle against the forces of chaos

Managing a classroom really is a constant fight against the forces of chaos. It takes just one little slip-up for everything to crumble. To prevent all but the most unpredictable problems, I create a million management systems.

Every single thing about our classroom and schedule was engineered by me, the teacher. Before the kids ever set foot in the classroom, I try to have the entire day thought out, the materials ready, organizational systems in place. Then we proceed through our day, following procedures for everything from turning in library books to distributing hand sanitizer.

For example, without a complicated pencil-management system, you have NO pencils when you need them. Kids sharpen pencils just any old time, interrupting lessons. Or kids hoard pencils. Or the pencils are just littering the floor. It’s a mess without…

Pencils, Part One: Managing Your Pencil Supply
Pencils, Part Two: Some Advice About Pencil Sharpening
Pencils, Part Three: The Pencil Drive

A classroom full of kids requires management systems just to keep everyone straight. First, we assign students numbers and use them to organize everything from paperwork to our class line.

Although kids have a designated place to be in line (based on their assigned number), there are still lots of ways for them to make mischief. Five tips for getting kids into line represents hard-earned knowledge on how to avoid the most embarrassing mishaps.

Teachers use student numbers to organize seatwork—but the system depends on kids putting their number on their paper. Heck, the kids need to remember to put their name. Do they? Of course not! The Name and Number Song helps, but the The No-Name Form “intervention” is necessary to deal with the 10-20% of students who constantly forget to label their papers despite having just sung the song.

Everyday decisions provide students with time to hem and haw, argue, jockey for position, and just generally make mischief. After several years of teaching, I learned to Offer a choice of two for pretty much everything.

How do teachers know which students understand the material and which need more help? Whiteboards help—they let kids work out the math problem, then hold up their answer. But whiteboards are expensive. Luckily, teachers learn things like how to make Cheap “whiteboards” for no-budget classrooms.

After a long day, the class might want to kick back with a simple art lesson. But how do you manage the kids who finish early and the ones who take forever? How do you give kids an opportunity to share their art without creating work for yourself in the form of decorating yet another bulletin board? Quick and Easy Classroom Art Gallery is a good system for accomplishing those goals. Such a simple idea—let kids display their work on the whiteboard as they finish—but I had been teaching for five years before another teacher taught me the trick.

Management systems help a lot, but nothing can save us when a bird dive-bombs our window, someone falls out of his chair, or a boy decides to take an impromptu poll of who the class thinks will win the Super Bowl. In each of those cases, the forces of chaos reigned for a while.

Fine by me! I may manage everything, but I wouldn’t want a school day to go by with out a few funny ClassAntics.