What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 1

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 One: Our day is planned to the minute

Elementary school schedules must be one of the great mysteries of life, because A typical elementary schoolday schedule is one of ClassAntics’ most popular posts. The blog entry explains that the schedule is determined by outside factors and does not necessarily reflect a teacher’s priorities.

The typical elementary school schedule is extremely regimented. The entire class’s schedule revolves around special areas and special interests:

  • Music class is at 9:32 and not a second before
  • Lunch is at 11:50 and if you’re late, they might run out of the good food, plus your kids will miss part of their recess and be mad at you
  • Math had better be underway by 10:35 because that’s when the instructional aide will come to help
  • Dismissal must run like clockwork—every day, even if you have a sub

This regimented schedule explains why Alarm Clocks Make Classroom Life Better: I set them to go off when it’s time to get ready for lunch and dismissal.

Teachers typically plan lessons well in advance. We have a yearlong curriculum map, goals for the quarter and month, and lesson plans for the week. Problem: we never know how long students will take to do anything!

Will they be able to complete this math lesson in the 40 minutes allotted? Will they still remember the material tomorrow or next week? The slightest change can wreak havoc on all a teacher’s careful plans.  However, teachers are happy to adjust the lessons and schedules they spent so long developing.  Our job is to teach what these particular students need now.

Elementary school teachers never have a spare minute. What looks like prep time—before school, after school, during specials, and lunch—is spent attending meetings, performing extra duties, and tracking down key personnel to address classroom issues. Really, many teachers count themselves lucky if they get a chance to go to the bathroom during the day.  Prep time happens during the evenings and on weekends.

Fun fact: while teachers never have a spare minute, kids have no sense of urgency about anything but recess. Part of this is because they’re kids, but part is because they just don’t understand time. Teaching kids to tell time and read a clock is an annual struggle, no matter the grade level.

Why kids struggle with telling time and reading a clock
FREE online resources to practice telling time and reading a clock


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Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers,What it's like to be a teacher by Corey Green @ Jan 28, 2013


Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! wins Learning Magazine Teachers’ Choice Award

Big news! Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! has won a prestigious award: Learning® Magazine 2013 Teachers’ ChoiceSM Award for the Classroom. Teachers’ Choice is the only award program in the educational market judged exclusively by teachers, and it carries the most weight. Companies like Lakeshore Learning, Disney Education, and TREND vie for it each year. Products are evaluated based on criteria most important to teachers and students: quality, instructional value, usability, innovation and relevance to curriculum.

Here are some comments from the panel:

How did judges use the book?

In the classroom, I used the pages presented in the book as a way to show my students the patterns that are presented in multiplication. I also was able to differentiate my instruction because each fact sheet has a similar look to the others. Therefore the students were able to grow at their own pace because they received sheets specific to their own needs without being embarrassed about their progress.

I used this as my lesson plans, because the book showed the best way to teach the multiplication skills and it gave tips on each of the facts.

The students not only were able to fluently memorize their facts but they were also able to apply them in the word problems presented in each section. The product helped to build self confidence and the students were encouraged to make progress by the fun animal characters.

I love this book! It provides great scaffolding to allow students to master their multiplication facts and then carries through and allows them to apply those concepts in word problems. The best part is that it splits the facts up into four levels of increasing difficulty. It give tips to the kids to help them when answering facts and has several pages to practice each fact. Finally, at the end of a level it provides a comprehensive review and then a test to allow kids to test their fluency.

This product is a great tool to use in the third grade classroom just as it is. No modifications need to be made.

Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!Would judges recommend the book to a colleague?

I have already shared the book with my colleagues and would recommend it to others that are teaching multiplication to their students.

I would recommend this to a colleague because it is teacher friendly and approaches multiplication in a systematic way. It is easy to use to help students. It scaffolds instruction.

I would absolutely recommend this product to other teachers in third grade and beyond. It is perfect for any student who needs to work on fact fluency. The word problems are all real-world problems and the long multiplication would be a challenge for more advance students who could work out of the same book.

I would recommend this product to my coworkers. It’s engaging for students, presents information in several ways which helped to reach my struggling students, and the order the facts are presented helped my students succeed.

Learning® Magazine is brought to you by the same folks who produce The Mailbox, a perennial teacher favorite for ready-to-use activities and ideas. Click here for a complete list of the Learning® Magazine 2013 Teachers’ ChoiceSM Award winners.

Buy Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! now.

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Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Jan 21, 2013


American Girl Teaching Guides

American Girls SeriesThe American Girl series is just wonderful for introducing elementary school students to history. For each era, there is an irrepressible character with many books, games, and often even a movie to hook students on that time period. Students comprehend history lessons more easily if they can relate them to the experiences of an American Girl.

Today, the American Girl Teaching Guides! These are high-quality materials, just like everything from this company. You will find printable worksheets, easy-to-teach lessons, and ideas for connecting the books to character lessons as well as academic content.

Example: the Kit teaching guide focus on the Great Depression, giving, and resourcefulness. Worksheets encourage students to relate to Kit’s experiences with the Depression, make judgment calls about giving, conserve today’s resources by applying the lessons of the Depression, and even create their own messages in hobo code.  The materials are very high quality, and the worksheets would have taken you a while to develop. Good, time-saving stuff!

Here are the teaching guides. Each link opens a file in pdf format.

Addy: Freedom, the Civil War, and Life After Slavery

Caroline: Patriotism, Heroism, and the War of 1812

Chrissa: Bullying and How to Stop It

Felicity: Loyalty, Independence, and the Revolutionary War

Josefina: Spanish Culture and the Settlement of the Southwest

Julie: Equality, the Environment, and Facing Change

Kaya: Native American Life and the Nez Perce Tribe

Kirsten: Pioneer Life, Cultural Differences, and Helping One Another

Kit: The Great Depression, Giving, and Resourcefulness

Lanie: Animal Habitats and Observing Birds and Butterflies

Marie-Grace and Cécile: Diversity, Community, and Point of View

McKenna: Self-Esteem, Goal Setting, and Encouraging Self & Others

Molly: Cooperation, Adaptability, and Resourcefulness

Rebecca: Immigrants, Old Ways and New Ways, and Doing the Right Thing

Samantha: Innovation, Generosity, and Family

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Posted in Academics,Book Lists,FREE Worksheets,Fun With Literacy,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Jan 14, 2013


FREE Worksheet Series: Learn How to Draw a Star

A National Board Certified Teacher shows that you can use scaffolding to make anything easier to learn—even drawing a five-point star. FREE printable worksheet series teaches kids how to draw a star.

Learning how to draw a star becomes an obsession for many students. Channel that energy with these FREE worksheets that help kids break it down. Who knows—if the kids learn how to draw a star quickly and efficiently, maybe they’ll get back to their seatwork! Click here for the FREE printable 4-page lesson on how to draw a star.

While the kids are drawing stars, why not teach them a little about astronomy?

Fun Facts About Stars/Fill in the Blank About Stars: These worksheets from KidsKnowIt.com are fun for students. They will enjoy learning interesting facts about stars. Note there are two answer pages.

Kids Astronomy: This site features fun lessons about astronomy, along with worksheets and free online astronomy games.

NASA’s StarChild: A Learning Center for Young Astronomers: This site features NASA’s lessons about astronomy. The Teacher’s Center features lesson plans and worksheets.

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Posted in FREE Worksheets,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Jan 7, 2013