National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs Part One)

Part One: What is a National Board Certified Teacher?

You may have noticed that your child’s teacher has the initials NBCT after her name.  What does it mean?

A National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) has completed a voluntary and rigorous process of evaluation.  Based on 10 assessment pieces, NBCTs have demonstrated their excellence in the Five Core Propositions for what teachers should know and be able to do.

> Teachers are committed to students and their learning.
> Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.
> Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.
> Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.
> Teachers are members of learning communities.

Application for National Board Certification is a demanding and time-consuming process.  Within a year, a teacher must complete 4 portfolio entries and take a 6-part exam.

The portfolio entries vary by type of certification sought—a music teacher would complete different entries than a biology teacher.  A portfolio entry tends to consist of a videotaped lesson, a 12-15 page analysis of the purpose, planning, pedagogical techniques, and effectiveness of the lesson as measured by student achievement.  Teachers typically tape and analyze many lessons before choosing the ones they will use for the portfolio entries.  After the portfolio entries are submitted in March, the teacher waits until November to learn whether he/she has attained National Board Certification.

To apply for National Board Certification, a teacher must meet certain requirements:

> Hold a bachelor’s degree
> Have completed three full years of teaching/counseling experience
> Possess a valid state teaching/counseling license for that period of time, or, if teaching where a license is not required, have taught in schools recognized and approved to operate by the state

Posted in Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Jan 7, 2011

 

Happy New Year! Tips for returning to school after Winter Break

Teachers and students know that the new year really begins on the first day of school.  January 1st is like a new beginning for us.

Here are some of my plans and resolutions for the second half of the school year:

Review procedures on the first day back.  A break that feels too-short to the teacher feels like forever to the kids.  They will have forgotten so much—in academics and in classroom behavior.

Renew our focus on basic facts.  It takes an iron will to force students to memorize, but I know that knowledge will serve them well.  We’ll practice in many ways: with Dad’s Worksheets, Best Multiplication Songs EVER!, my math addition and multiplication practice programs, and the classroom game Math Smackdown.

Set new goals for independent reading.  We’ll set goals for reading a certain number of chapter books, a certain number of books in each genre, etc.  We’ll work toward a fun celebration, like Fort Day.

Forge on with our typing.  Our school district bought special computers to help students build typing skills.  The students love them—but again it takes a teacher’s iron will to force them to focus and practice.  I know that good typing skills pay off for a lifetime: it’s worth it!

Make time for fun.  Community builders, energizer activities and parties to celebrate accomplishments bring us closer together.

…so those are my classroom resolutions!  But school’s not in yet.  I’m working up my appetite for the traditional New Year’s black eyed peas and greens.  Learn more about the tradition at about.com.

Posted in Classroom Management,Holidays,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Jan 1, 2011

 

Teaching Cursive with Muggie Maggie

bookMuggie Maggie by Beverly Cleary
AR Reading level 4.5  1 point
Available at Amazon.com

Cursive may seem outdated compared to typing, texting and tweeting, but it is still an important skill for kids to learn.  If nothing else, they need to be able to read cursive—notes written by parents and teachers, or cursive written by our forefathers in the Declaration of Independence.

Kids are very excited to learn cursive, but sometimes their interest lags after the first few lessons.  You can keep them going by reading to them Muggie Maggie by Beverly Cleary.

In Muggie Maggie, third-grader Maggie absolutely refuses to learn cursive.  She’s a smart girl, but she gets herself into quite a predicament—with a lot of embarrassment, time spent out of class, and even trips to the principal’s office!

See, Maggie’s teacher has hatched a plan with other teachers and school staff.  She makes Maggie the messenger.  All the messages Maggie deliverers are written in cursive.  Maggie is pretty sure she recognizes her name in the messages.  Maggie has no choice but to learn cursive so she can read the secret messages.

Muggie Maggie is clearly intended for a third-grade audience, but AR (accelerated reader) classifies the reading level is 4.5.  (Many Beverly Cleary books have a reading level above the intended audience’s grade level, as I have described in a different post about this topic.)  Some third-graders will be able to read Muggie Maggie, but I recommend that third-grade teachers read it aloud because it is perfectly suited to their audience.


 

Graph Paper Improves Handwriting

threeboysSome kids just have terrible handwriting.  The letters are too big, the spacing is a mess, and their finished paper is illegible.  I have found that using the first and second grade style lined paper doesn’t really help older kids.  There is something, though, that does help them: graph paper.

It needs to be graph paper with big squares.  You can print your own from math-drills.com, which is a good site for—you guessed it—math drills at all levels.

I like to use the ½ inch graph paper.  In my experience, it improves handwriting immediately, but the child should keep using it for a few weeks until better handwriting becomes a habit.  The graph paper really helps kids understand spacing, and lets them develop their fine motor skills within the realms of the little boxes.

I have found that it is good to turn the paper sideways, because otherwise the child will write a lot of hyphenated words that continue on to the next line.

The graph paper is also good for lining up math problems.  It’s a lot easier to keep your addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division straight if you have the little boxes helping you line everything up.

Hurray for graph paper!

Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Oct 28, 2010

 

Turning Notebook Paper Sideways

girlanddteacherNotebook paper, whether wide ruled or college ruled, is great.  It’s cheap, and can be used for many assignments.

Kids and other teachers have taught me that notebook paper is also really useful when it’s turned sideways.  Then you can use the lines to help you line up math problems.  This really helps kids keep everything straight, and makes little mathematicians much more successful.

It’s a quick tip, but a good one.

Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Oct 21, 2010

 

Little Critter Workbooks Get Results!

bookI have found a magical teaching tool: Spectrum Publishing’s Little Critter Reading.  It’s a workbook with the perfect format: an engaging story based on the Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer, followed by a worksheet covering comprehension, phonics, and study skills.  Students beg to use it and groan when we put it away.

In my experience, Little Critter Reading improves a reader’s skills by a whole grade level.

You can buy Little Critter Reading at two levels: grade 1 and grade 2.  Grade 2 is appropriate for students in second and third grade.  Grade 1 helps students make the remarkable transformation from reading three sentences on a page to reading several paragraphs—in the space of one workbook.  Grade 1 is great for English Language Learners.

I recommend Little Critter Reading books for the classroom and for the home.  At home, a parent or older sibling can tutor a struggling reader with Little Critter Reading books.

How to use Little Critter Reading:

1.  Read the story to your students.  Very important—think how much better they can read if they already know what it sounds like!
2.  Let the student(s) read aloud with you.  This way, you’re pulling the student along and helping her experience fluency.  For the whole class, choral read the passage.
3.  If time and patience allow, the student can read the story aloud without your help.
4.  Do the worksheet that goes with the story.  You might have to teach a mini lesson on topics such as root words, ABC order, verb tense, etc.  Kids quickly catch on and complete the lesson easily.
5.  Review the lesson.

One caveat: you are not supposed to photocopy Little Critter Reading workbooks.  I applied for a grant and bought a class set of the workbook.  I use it with my third graders at the beginning of the year.  We put a page protector over the worksheet page and write on the page protector with an Expo marker.  We erase with old socks.

Students who behave well get to draw on the page protector for two minutes!

Seriously, I can’t recommend Little Critter Reading highly enough.


 

Best Multiplication Songs EVER! Wins Awards

Great news!  My album, Best Multiplication Songs EVER! won two awards for 2010:  Dr. Toy’s Top 100 products and Dr. Toy’s Top 10 Educational Products.

Click here to learn more about the album.

Who is Dr. Toy?  Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, is one of the nation’s and world’s leading experts on play, toys, and children’s products.  Dr. Toy started her career as a teaching and reading specialist, helped establish the first childcare centers for federal employees, and founded the San Francisco International Toy Museum.

bookWith 30 years of specialized experience, Dr. Auerbach evaluates educationally oriented, developmental and skill building products from the best large and small companies in four annual awards programs.  Parents, teachers and toy buyers rely on Dr. Toy’s guidance in selecting products for children.

Dr. Toy’s motto is “Let’s play!”  Best Multiplication Songs EVER! perfectly fits Dr. Toy’s philosophy that play is educational, and education can be fun.

Thank you, Dr. Toy!

Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Oct 1, 2010

 

The Math Worksheet Generator

The Math Worksheet Generator (math-aids.com) is an awesome FREE site!  Parents and teachers should know about it.  It’s beyond awesome.  It’s great that you can generate worksheets for basic facts practice…but the awesomeness extends far beyond that.

I will definitely be telling my fifth and sixth grade colleagues about the PEMDAS worksheets.  I didn’t learn about the order of operations until junior high (in an advanced class), but now the Department of Education thinks that 10 year olds can do it.  Now we teach fifth-graders how to do PEMDAS: Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction.  As you can imagine, the kids need tons of practice.  Once they understand the concept, they can’t get enough PEMDAS worksheets!  It’s really fun to do big kid math.

The math worksheet generator has a great section on roundingRounding is an extremely difficult concept for children.  Many students struggle with it all through elementary school.  Kids can’t get enough rounding practice.  Teachers will be glad to have great worksheets that provide this practice.

The kindergarten section is wonderful.  It can be tricky to find good practice for kindergartners, and this site certainly delivers.  At home, the kindergarten worksheets would be great for older siblings to use when they’re playing school with younger siblings.

I could go on and on about the sections on money, graphing, time, measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode), exponents, ratios, fractions, and more…but I think it’s really time you stop listening to me and go visit the Math Worksheet Generator!


 

Teach kids to respect school staff

Introducing kids to school staff is a good first-week-of-school activity.

Since everyone on staff is especially busy during this time, they probably won’t be able to visit classrooms.  You might want to take pictures and prepare a simple PowerPoint slide show.  (Or just print the pictures, if time or resources are limited.)

You might like to ask each staff person to tell you little bit about their job, how they serve students, and how students can help serve the school community.  Add a little personalization with hobbies or interests, if you’d like.

This way, your students understand that it’s personal when they mess up the lunchroom, ask to go to the nurse when they really don’t need to, or make extra demands on the school secretary.  The kids might come to understand that the principal is a real person with more to do than discipline naughty children.

Your students will feel inspired and empowered by the tips on how they can serve the community.

Start with the custodian/building manager and whoever will be your Special Person for the day.

After that, here are some suggestions for people to “meet”:

> Specials teachers (Music, PE, Art)
> Principal/Vice Principal/Dean
> Secretary/Attendance Clerk
> Nurse
> Social worker
> Recess monitors
> Psychologist
> Cafeteria manager
> A representative of Instructional Aides, and certainly the ones your class will work with
> Resource teacher (if he/she will be working with your class)

This is a lot of information.  Prioritize, then “meet” one or two people a day.  Your kids can’t remember much more than that.  You can review this little presentation after each school break for a quick brush-up.

Make a little quiz if you’d like!  (Sample question: who takes care of sick students and tests vision?)


 

FREE Computer Program—Best Addition Practice EVER!

bookTeachers, students, parents—you can download a FREE* computer program, Best Addition Practice EVER!  to help kids study their basic addition facts.  (*Free for non-commercial use — it was designed for home and classroom use; it’s available for PC only,  Windows XP or newer.)  Click here to look at screenshots and detailed descriptions about the program.

Best Addition Practice EVER!  really is the best.  The program is simple and easy to use.  It’s customizable, letting kids teach themselves addition facts, practice, and test themselves.

Teaching Tips, a button on the screen, explains how you can show your students to use the program to teach themselves, then test their progress.

For example, beginning students can practice with adding 0 and 1 to the numbers 0-12.  Students could also choose to practice adding only 0 through 5.  Students who think they really know their addition can select all numbers and test themselves on all 169 facts.

Students can practice with facts that give them trouble.  Many students struggle with adding 9.   Students can start by adding 9 to 0, 1 and 10.  Then they can add an additional fact, while constantly reviewing what they already know.

My dad wrote a version of this program for my younger brother and sister years ago.   I have used it in my classroom for several years.  Students from my class—and others—love to use it for practice.  It works like magic!

Best Addition Practice EVER! complements my new CD, Best Multiplication Songs EVER!   It features simple lyrics and tunes you know.  The songs help kids learn their times tables quickly and permanently.

Give them a listen!

Best Multiplication Songs EVER!  is available for purchase at Abligio.com.  If your school is interested in buying multiple copies, contact Abligio Books for a special school rate.

I hope that Best Addition Practice EVER! and Best Multiplication Songs EVER!  help your students as much as they have helped mine.


 

FREE Computer Program—Best Times Tables Practice EVER!

bookYou can download a FREE* copy of a special computer program, Best Times Tables Practice EVER!   (*Free for non-commercial use — it was designed for home and classroom use; it’s available for PC only,  Windows XP or newer.)  Click here to look at screenshots and detailed descriptions about the program.

This free software complements my new CD, Best Multiplication Songs EVER!  (More about that later in this post.)

Best Times Tables Practice EVER!  really is the best.  The program is easy-to-use.  It’s customizable, so students can practice one or two times tables at a time, review all of their facts, or even teach themselves.

Teaching Tips, a button on the screen, explains how you can show your students to use the program to teach themselves, then test their progress.

For example, students can begin to learn their 6s, a difficult times table, by practicing with ONLY 6 times 0, 1, 10 and 11.  Once students know this, they can add an additional fact, while constantly reviewing what they already know.

My dad wrote a version of this program for my younger brother and sister years ago.  I have used it in my classroom for several years.  Students from my class—and others—love to use it for practice.  It works like magic!

Best Times Tables Practice EVER! complements my new CD, Best Multiplication Songs EVER!   It features simple lyrics and tunes you know.  The songs help kids learn their times tables quickly and permanently.

Give them a listen!

Best Multiplication Songs EVER!  is available for purchase at Abligio.com.  If your school is interested in buying multiple copies, contact Abligio Books for a special school rate.

I hope that Best Multiplication Songs EVER!  and Best Times Tables Practice EVER!  help your students as much as they have helped mine.


 

Best Multiplication Songs EVER!

bookRemember how you learned your ABCs?  It was easy.  You sang a simple song with simple lyrics.  If you’re like many people, you still hum the tune to yourself when alphabetizing.

My new CD, Best Multiplication Songs EVER!  lets kids learn their times tables just as easily.

I stand by my claim that they’re the Best Multiplication Songs EVER!  The songs are catchy and easy to memorize.  The lyrics are simple and the tunes are familiar.  Your class can listen to all times tables, zero through twelve, in 8 minutes.  Special music-only performance tracks let kids test themselves—or put on a show.

Best Multiplication Songs EVER!  helps students access their times tables using multiple intelligences: linguistic, logical/mathematical, musical, and bodily kinesthetic (because these toe-tapping tunes get kids dancing!)  The result is that students learn more quickly, more permanently, and make more connections in their learning.

In teacher terms, the songs build a prior knowledge.  Times tables are boring, difficult, and abstract to most children.  The songs put the times tables in students’ heads—prior knowledge that makes the task of memorization easier.  You’ll notice students singing the songs to themselves as they complete multiplication practice sheets.

Best Multiplication Songs EVER!  is available for purchase at Abligio.com.  If your school is interested in buying multiple copies, contact Abligio Books for a special school rate.

This one-minute YouTube video explains Best Multiplication Songs EVER!  and samples several of the songs.  I hope you enjoy it!


 

How to work with special area teachers

This is part of a series of posts about special area teachers, whose subjects include music, art and physical education.  Today I’ll discuss how classroom teachers can optimize their relationship with special area teachers and help their students learn more from every “special.”

It all comes down to respecting the teacher and teaching children to reflect on the day’s lesson.

Before the special area class:

Ask your students what they did during the last session.  What do they hope to get out of today’s lesson?

Take a moment to calm your students, so your students are primed for learning when they begin their special area lesson.  My class usually needs a calming thirty seconds in line before a special area class.  It makes a difference.

Leaving your class with the special area teacher:

Greet the teacher by name.  Smile.  Exchange pleasantries about how much your class is looking forward to the lesson.  Without taking a lot of time, show an interest in what the class will be learning.

Make sure the students are calm and ready to learn before you leave the class with the special area teacher.

Picking your class up from the special area class:

Greet the teacher.  Ask if your children behaved well, and promise to follow up if there were any behavior problems.  Ask one student to recap what they learned.  Remind your students to say thank you.

Special area teachers, do you have any additional tips for classroom teachers?  How can we support you?