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How to End the Year Like a Boss

End the Year Like a Boss!

The end is near… can you feel it? What does it feel like to you? Is it your toes in the sand? Is it a margarita in your hand? Is it turning off your alarm clock? Is it losing track of the days? Oh yes… the end is near!

5 Steps to End the School Year

Now, back to the current task at hand: finishing the year. The End of the Year can be one of the craziest times for a teacher. Our To-Do List goes on and on! We have state testing, end of the year assessments, report cards, class placements, cleaning your classroom, packing up, and don’t forget that small task of providing your students with memorable activities that you want them to remember you for! We are here to give you advice on how we End the Year LIKE A BOSS!

1. What are You Waiting For? Get Going!

Step 1: Make a To Do List and Get Started!

As mentioned before, a teacher’s To-Do List is a mile long! Make a list of all of the things that you need to do before that glorious day when you get into your car and pull out of the parking lot. (By the way, is there any better moment?)

Sort your To-Do List into tasks that you can get done now and tasks that have to wait. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you when to get the next task done. Getting your end of the year tasks done early will help you feel less stressed and less overwhelmed!

End of Year Resources for Teachers

Editable End of the Year Checklist

End of the Year Teacher Reflection and Surveys

2. Give Your Students What They Want… YOU!

Step 2: Give your students YOU!

Getting your To-Do List in order will help you focus on the most important aspect of teaching… your students! Take your time to enjoy your students! You worked so hard with them all year, so enjoy them! Make the time to do some fun activities that you normally don’t have time for in your regular school day. Build those relationships! Smile with them! Is there a time that you could play kickball? What about grabbing a blanket and reading outside under a tree? Take the time to create special moments with your students that they will remember forever!

3. Reminisce

Step 3: Reminisce about your year!

Look back at your year with your students. Take a morning and have your students fill out a memory from your year together on a slip of paper and have them add it to a jar. Whenever you have a spare moment, pull out a memory and read it to your class!

Create a Memory Jar!

Here’s why we love this activity:

  1. Memories build relationships. Relationships are the most important part of teaching!
  2. These memories are a feedback tool for you! If your students enjoyed a particular activity, be sure you repeat it with your students next year! Take note of common responses! Notice what your students value and build on that for the following year!

4. No Prep Fun

Step 4: No prep End of the Year FUN!

Just because you made a To-Do List doesn’t mean that you checked everything off already! Trust us, we get it! You need time to get things done, but your students also need to be provided with some quality “End of the Year Fun!” Grab some No Prep End of the Year resources to keep your students busy, while you keep checking off that mile long list of things to do!

No Prep End of the Year FUN!

Click the Image Above or the Individual Links Below to Check out some No Prep End of the Year Activities!

30 No Prep End of the Year Activities

End of the Year Packin’ My Bags File Folder Activity

End of the Year Brochures

End of the Year Bingo

5. Look Ahead

Step 5: Look ahead to NEXT year!

If there’s anything more crazy than the End of the Year, it’s the Beginning of the Year! Are we right?! Ask yourself: “What can I do THIS year that will help me NEXT year?”

Here’s what we ALWAYS make sure we do before leaving for summer vacation:

  1. Give next year’s students a welcoming letter, a summer challenge, and a school supply list! This might seem a little overwhelming, but it’s not! How do you know which students you will get? You don’t! Get with your whole grade level and make a common supply list! Then, pass these things out to the ENTIRE grade level below you that will enter your grade next year! Click HERE!
  2. Bulletin Boards! Plan and prep your bulletin boards for Back to School! Can you leave your boards up? Great! Get them all ready so you are ready to roll! Have to take them down? Plan your boards out and have everything ready to put up when you get back!
  3. Plan! Get with your team and plan the first few weeks of school. How will you start the year off? Get your lesson plans done so that when you get back, you will have one less thing to do! Want to see how we plan for our whole year and teach every standard? We have a blog post just for you! CLICK HERE!
  4. Copies! Want to know when the copy room is empty? The end of the year! Everyone is so focused on short activities for their students and finishing up things they didn’t get to throughout the year that the copy room is a ghost town! Get in there and prep the first few weeks of school! You will thank yourself next year! We promise!
Welcoming Letter for Next Year's Students
End Your Year Like a Boss!

How to Upload Digital Resources to Google Classroom

How to Upload Digital Resources to Google Classroom

Hello! We are so happy that you are here to learn something new! Did you just get Chromebooks, laptops or other forms of technology? Are you making the switch to go digital? Are you new to using Google Classroom? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are in the right place! We are going to take you through the process of uploading and assigning a digital resource to Google Classroom! Let’s get started!

Uploading to Google Classroom Steps 1-3

*Before we begin, please make sure that you are already signed into your Google Account*

Step 1: Go into Teachers Pay Teachers and got to “My Purchases.” Find the resource you would like to assign to your class and click “Download Now.”

Step 2: Click the PDF in the bottom left hand corner of your screen.

Step 3: Click the link to open the resource.

Uploading to Google Classroom Steps 4-5

Step 4: Click “Make a Copy.”

Step 5: A copy of the resource has now been saved to your Google Drive. The resource will appear. You can exit out at this point and head on over to Google.

Step 6: Go to Google. Click on the waffle. Click on “Google Classroom.”

Step 7: Click the class that you would like to complete the activity.

Uploading to Google Classroom Step 8-9

Step 8: Click “Classwork” at the top and then click “Create”

Step 9: Click “Assignment”

Uploading to Google Classroom Step 10-12

Step 10: Title the assignment, give instructions, assign a point value and topic if necessary.

Step 11: Click on the Google Drive icon on the bottom left of your screen

Step 12: Find the resource you would like to assign. Click on that resource.

Uploading to Google Classroom The Final Step!

The LAST STEP: Click “Assign”

CONGRATULATIONS!

That’s it! You’re DONE!

Sometimes, seeing the process in action can help! We have uploaded a video to help!

Click HERE to Watch a Video Tutorial!

You have successfully uploaded a digital resource to Google Classroom!

Are you looking for some digital resources to get you started? Check out these resources below! Click on the Images!

Check out these resources below! Click on the Images!

Simile and Metaphor Digital Task Cards

 

Punctuating Dialogue Digital Task Cards

Vocabulary Digital Task Card Bundle

Looking for other resources? We have Digital Task Cards for every Vocabulary Standard and every Grammar and Language Standard individually and even bundled in one ready to use resource! Hop on over to our store and take a browse! Click HERE!

Want to grab our Grammar and Language Digital Task Card Bundle for FREE? Enter our raffle below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Standards Based Brochures in the Classroom

Why We Created Standards Based Brochures

Why We Created Standards Based Brochures

You know that stress that you have every single year? You know, the yearly question: “What grade level will you teach next school year?” Well, one year, Deserae got handed a 4/5 combo class! Yikes! As the year progressed, she started making one brochure at a time just to keep students in one grade level busy while she finished up a lesson with the other grade level. I remember walking in and picking up a brochure and quickly said, “Ummm, hello! I NEED these!” Standards Based Brochures were not just for a combo class. Standards Based Brochures are a necessity for every classroom!

Spiral Your Standards Through Reading With Standards Based Brochures!

What are Standards Based Brochures?

Standards Based Brochures are a ready to use resource that will have students applying what they are learning to the books that they are reading. Each Standards Based Brochure lists the standard, gives a place for students to write a definition, provides a place to list examples, and lists questions for students to consider as they are reading. Standards Based Brochures then provide students with five opportunities for practice using the standard chosen. Brochures can be used with class read aloud books, independent reading books or picture books. Students find the standard they are practicing in the books they are reading. Then, students prove their findings in the frames provided. Each Standards Based Brochure walks students through the standard so that they are able to do the brochure independently.

Standards Based Brochures Connect Reading to Learning

Why Use Standards Based Brochures?

In our classrooms, we want our students to take the standards that they are learning out of a superficial context and into an authentic one. Standards Based Brochures are a way for students to connect what they read to what they are learning. Our ultimate goal is to have our students read with binoculars on that zoom in and find how the author is using the standard in the book.

Standards Based Brochures Zoom in on Learning!

Standards Based Brochures are a Opportunity for Application!

Why Teachers LOVE Standards Based Brochures

Standards Based Brochures hit so many “checks” for teachers! Spiral Review… CHECK! Independent Practice… CHECK! No Prep… CHECK! We love using Standards Based Brochures in our classrooms! We use them for Small Group Instruction, Early Finishers, Intervention Groups, and ways for parents to help their child at home! Want to find out more about each of these? Click the image below or HERE Standards Based Brochures are a Ready to Use Resource!

What Standards are Covered in the Standards Based Brochure Bundles?

Cover Your Standards Using Standards Based Brochures!

3rd Grade:

Character Traits, Making Inferences, Theme, Character Motivation, Character Change, Character Analysis, Plot, Mood, Types of Conflict, Tone, Types of Characters, Compound Sentences and Conjunctions, Punctuating Dialogue, Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases, Parts of Speech, Poetry, Point of View, Author’s Purpose, Drama

3rd Grade Standards Based Brochure Bundle

4th Grade:

Character Traits, Making Inferences, Theme, Character Motivation, Character Change, Character Analysis, Plot, Mood, Types of Conflict, Tone, Types of Characters, Compound Sentences and Conjunctions, Punctuating Dialogue, Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases, Ordering Adjectives, Relative Adverbs, Relative Pronouns, Formal and Informal Language, Progressive Tense Verbs, Modal Auxiliaries, Subjects and Predicates, Homophones, Capitalization, Similes and Metaphors, Context Clues, Proverbs and Adages, Prefixes, Suffixes, Idioms, Synonyms and Antonyms, Poetry, Point of View, Allusions, Comparing Themes Across Cultures, Author’s Purpose, Perspective, Drama 4th Grade Standards Based Brochure Bundle

5th Grade:

Character Traits, Making Inferences, Theme, Character Motivation, Character Change, Character Analysis, Plot, Mood, Types of Conflict, Tone, Types of Characters, Compound Sentences and Conjunctions, Punctuating Dialogue, Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases, Expand, Combine and Reduce Sentences, Interjections, Perfect Tense Verbs, Verb Tenses, Verb Shifts, Correlative Conjunctions, Commas, Punctuation in a Series, Capitalization, Similes and Metaphors, Context Clues, Proverbs and Adages, Prefixes, Suffixes, Idioms, Synonyms and Antonyms, Homographs, Poetry, Point of View, Author’s Purpose, Perspective, Drama 5th Grade Standards Based Brochure Bundle

Want to Try a Brochure for FREE?

We have one just for you! Click HERE or the image below!

GIVEAWAY! Enter NOW! 3 Lucky Winners!

We are raffling off:

One 3rd Grade Standards Based Brochure Bundle

One 4th Grade Standards Based Brochure Bundle

One 5th Grade Standards Based Brochure Bundle

  a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interactive Notebook Secrets That Make YOUR Life Easier!

Interactive Notebook Secrets GUARANTEED to Make YOUR Life Easier!

PSSST… Wanna Know a Secret?

Interactive Notebooks Can Be Time Consuming for the Teacher!

Not really a secret? You’re right! We know Interactive Notebooks can be time consuming and you do too, but we are here to share three interactive notebook secrets that we have discovered over the years that are guaranteed to make YOUR life easier!

Hello and Welcome to our third blog post in our Interactive Notebook Series! ‘

If you missed the first two posts, we went over How to Start Interactive Notebooks and How to Effectively and Efficiently Grade Interactive Notebooks. You can check them out below! (You’ll grab some freebies too!)

Click Here for Post #1

Click Here for Post #2

Now that you’re caught up, check out these Interactive Notebook Secrets GUARANTEED to Make YOUR Life Easier!

How to use Parent Communication with Interactive Notebooks

Interactive Notebook Secret #1: Getting Parents Involved Will Make YOUR Life Easier

If you’ve ever looked at or graded an Interactive Notebook, you know that there are two types of students. You have the organized, neat and thorough student, and then you have the HOT MESS student. The HOT MESS student has incomplete assignments, organization issues, pages falling out of their notebooks and sloppy work. Teachers do what they can in the classroom, but there is only so much time in our day, right?!

When we first started Interactive Notebooks in our classrooms, we never thought to involve parents. We thought that it would be too much work for them and that they wouldn’t truly know what the assignments were. After dealing with these HOT MESS students for a few years in a row, we decided it was time to get parents involved.

How to use Parent Communication with Interactive Notebooks

In order to get parents involved, we decided to start off with a parent letter explaining what Interactive Notebooks were and how they could help their child. We also created notices that stated when their child’s notebook would be graded. We followed these notices up with reminders when their due dates were approaching. The result was that more students were prepared to turn in their Interactive Notebooks on their due dates and they were also more likely to have their assignments completed. ( This is also because of the checklists that we use, as we stated in Post #2 ) We have found that parents want to help… they just don’t know how to most of the time.

How to use Parent Communication with Interactive Notebooks

How to Create a System for Interactive Notebooks

Interactive Notebook Secret #2: Implementing a System to Grade Interactive Notebooks Will Make YOUR Life Easier

As with everything in life, having a regular routine and system in place makes everything that much easier. Here are some of the routines that we have put into place with Interactive Notebooks. Our students know that before they turn in their Interactive Notebook, they have to get a peer to check their work! Peer checks create motivation to get their work done! Another system that we have in place is that after Interactive Notebooks are checked, students reflect on their work and examine what they did well and what they would like to improve before the next Interactive Notebook due date.

How to Create a System for Interactive Notebooks

One Interactive Notebook Secret that we simply could not live without is having a Interactive Notebook Collector! Since we grade Interactive Notebooks on a daily basis, there were COUNTLESS days where we forgot to collect the notebooks that we needed to grade. Forgetting this, even one day, caused us to fall behind on our grading. Students love helping! Let them!

How to Create a System for Interactive Notebooks

Learn how to give students recognition with Interactive Notebooks!

Interactive Notebook Secret #3: Recognizing Students Will Make YOUR Life Easier

We saved the best Interactive Notebook Secret for last. Student Recognition is the most powerful tool that you have to make your life easier when using Interactive Notebooks!

Learn how to give students recognition with Interactive Notebooks!

The first way that we use this Interactive Notebook secret is that we created these colorful stickers to place throughout a student’s Interactive Notebook while we are grading. We love watching them flip through their notebooks when they get them back to find the stickers!

Learn how to give students recognition with Interactive Notebooks!

Another way that we use this Interactive Notebook secret is that we will sometimes reward them with an Interactive Notebook Incentive Coupon! These are no cost rewards that students can use at any time. THEY LOVE GETTING THESE!!!!!

Learn how to give students recognition with Interactive Notebooks!

The last way that we use this Interactive Notebook secret is that we have an Interactive Notebook Hall of Fame posted in our classroom. When we notice that a student has consistently done a thorough job in their notebooks, their name, or number, gets posted on a Hall of Fame star. They are also awarded a “Ask Me! I’m an Interactive Notebook EXPERT!” badge. They become the Interactive Notebook experts and help students who may have questions (which also makes your job easier!)

 

We hope these Interactive Notebook Secrets will help to make your life a little easier. We applaud you for using Interactive Notebooks in your classroom… and your students do too!

 

Interested in grabbing this life-saving

Interactive Notebook Management System?

Click the image below!

Resources We Love BLOG HOP GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to our “Resources We LOVE Blog Hop!
Blog Hop Giveaway
We are teaming up with some amazing and talented bloggers for a HUGE GIVEAWAY! There are two parts to this amazing GIVEAWAY, so check it out!

PART 1

Want to win a $100 Target gift card?
Who doesn’t???? We all LOVE Target!
Enter below!
In order to qualify, you must complete all tasks!
Good Luck!

 

PART 2:

We all have those resources that we could not live without in our classroom, are we right?!! For us, one of our favorite resources are our Sit Spots! We love Flexible Seating and we have found that Sit Spots work extremely well for the Flexible Seating classroom.
Sit Spot GIVEAWAY
If you would like to learn more about Flexible Seating, check out our blog posts by clicking here and here! With Flexible Seating, students choose different seats and sit next to different students every day. Sometimes, we need our students to have certain partners or to be in certain groups for certain activities! Sit Spots are our answer! In our classroom, we use four different colors of Sit Spots. We group our students into four ability based groups. Each color represents a different group. For example, our green colored dots could be our high group, etc… Sit Spots are the perfect way to organize partners, centers, teams, and any other grouping that you need to create. They are also great for dismissing students, or calling on different groups of students to choral read. You could call the purple group first or the color with the most girls. The possibilities are endless! We also use our Sit Spots to bring students together for direct instruction or for class meetings.
To learn more about Sit Spots, CLICK HERE!
Since we could not live without our Sit Spots,
we know you would love them too!
To win a $50 gift card for your own class set of Sit Spots,
enter our raffle below!

Want to find out if Sit Spots work on your flooring?

Get a sample Sit Spot for FREE and test it out!
Just click here!
Ready to see what the next blogger is raffling off?
Click the image below to HOP on over!
http://theanimatedteacher.com/2017/02/11/products-we-love-giveaway/
Each blogger is giving away a resource they
LOVE to use in their classroom!
This Blog Hop has a $100 Target Gift Card
and 12 total resources up for grabs!
Happy Hopping!

 

Top 5 Reasons to Subscribe to Our Newsletter!

 Hello! We are Deserae and Michelle,
also known as The Rigorous Owl!
We are so happy that you are here!
We guide passionate educators who are determined to stand out from the crowd by providing thorough, high quality, no prep lessons that will keep students engaged and begging for more.
Our goal is to help students love their learning
and in turn love you, their teacher.
We are very passionate about our students, the materials that we use in the classroom, making learning fun, and sharing great ideas and strategies with teachers like you!
By subscribing our NEWSLETTER, you will get the
Red Carpet Treatment from DAY 1!
Here are the Top 5 Reason’s to subscribe!

 

The Rigorous Owl

 In every Newsletter, it is our #1 goal to bring you VALUE!
This means that you will not just get product updates.
You will get something of VALUE that you can use!
We have brainstormed a list of ideas to GIVE to you, our subscribers. We will send some new posters to use in your room, a video showing a strategy to use with your students, some cute homework passes that serve as a free gift to your students for holidays, and so much more! We are constantly popping into each other’s room to say, “Hey, we should give this to our subscribers!”
It will always be a Newsletter worth opening!
WE PROMISE!

 

The Rigorous Owl

 Here is the #2 Reason to Subscribe! You will get these colorful Key Idea and Details Posters for your classroom for FREE! These posters cover your basics from RL 1, 2 & 3, HOWEVER, they also dive SO MUCH DEEPER! For example, RL 3 says Characters… Well, we go over your basic Character Traits (that everyone else does…yawn…) AND we also include Character Analysis, Character Change, Character Motivation, and the Types of Characters!
These posters serve as great Anchor Charts to
use throughout the year!

 

The Rigorous Owl

 The #3 Reason is that you get our Literacy Center Toolkit (that’s completely editable) for FREE! Yep, another amazing FREEBIE! Students love using this board to guide their Literacy Center Rotations! Check out our blog posts on Literacy Centers by clicking herehere, and here!
 Are you ready for another FREEBIE?
The #4 reason to subscribe to our newsletter is that you get our 200 Key Idea and Details Sentence Frames for FREE! These are AMAZING and we personally use them every day and all year long in our classrooms! This is how students respond to their independent reading books. The possibilities are endless on how you will use them!
 The #5 reason to subscribe is that you will be the first to know about our new products. Why do you need to know this? Because all of our new products are 50% off for the first 48 hours! You can also follow us on TPT by clicking here to get notified! Just click the green star!

 

The Rigorous Owl

Now, if we weren’t who we are, we would have stopped at 5 reasons, but WE ARE THE RIGOROUS OWL! We aim to go above and beyond for YOU! There are definitely more than 5 reasons to subscribe to our newsletter. Inside of our newsletter, you will also find a schedule of private VIP sales JUST FOR OUR SUBSCRIBERS! We also include Blog Highlights from recent blog posts. We love blogging about themed activities, strategies for teaching a standard, and other ways to help you in your classroom! (By the way, if you aren’t following our blog, please do!)
So, there you have it!
Here are the Top 5 (plus more) reasons to
Subscribe to The Rigorous Owl’s Newsletter!
We hope you will subscribe and share in our adventure in the most rewarding job there is out there! We love what we do and we know you do too! Our goal is to make a difference in your teaching life and add value to your classroom!

 

What Comes Before and After Literacy Centers? Part 3 of a 3 Part Series

sequence of teaching

 Welcome to our third post on Literacy Centers! 

If you’ve made it this far, you’re almost an expert! 
We are so excited that you have found the value of implementing Literacy Centers in your classroom! 
We truly believe that this is where good teaching happens! 
Students need exposure to a standard through different modes of learning. Literacy Centers check off both of those boxes… and more! We believe that this is what our students have been missing all along!
In this blog post, you will learn about the ideal sequence to teaching a standard! 
Let’s get goin’! 
lesson plans
 Above, you can see the ideal sequence for teaching a standard. We gave the example of teaching Idioms. This is a common standard that everyone teaches, so the idea can be applied to whatever you are teaching. As you can see, students are given a plethora of activities to expose them to the standard! They have multiple chances at accessing the standard and you have a variety of assessment tools to monitor their proficiency along the way! 
This is what we have implemented in our classroom this year, and we can honestly say that we have had the biggest growth that we have ever had before. Our students are performing at a level they have never reached before… and guess what? 
THEY ARE HAVING FUN! 
AND EVEN BETTER… SO ARE WE!
interactive notebooks

 When we first introduce a standard,

we start with our “Week Long Lessons.” 
Day 1 starts with having students take notes on the standard and creating an Anchor Chart in their Interactive Reader’s Notebook. This provides a point of reference for later questions. It is also an excellent tool for parents to see what their child is learning and how to help them at home. Day 2 gives students more practice by providing them with a Practice Page. These practice pages are not just a worksheet! Students usually have a maze, ti-tac-toe game or other engaging activity in order to practice the standard. Throughout the week, students also complete a foldable, which is placed inside their Interactive Reader’s Notebook. Students also use sentence frames while they are reading their Independent Reading book. A sample sentence frame would be, “Idiom Alert on p. ____! The idiom is ____,” or “A great idiom for today’s reading would be ______.” These sentence frames are also applied to our class Read Aloud. This is great for Modeling and Teacher Think Alouds! Another activity included in our “Week Long Lessons” are JOT ideas. “JOTs” are a quick jot about the standard. Our JOTS include an art activity with a short writing piece applying the standard. There are two JOT ideas included. There is an assessment included in our “Week Long Lessons,” but we save the assessment for the very end… after our Literacy Centers and Task Card Activity Bundles.
differentiated instruction

Literacy Centers come next and they are our favorite! Literacy Centers allow students to use what they learned in the “Week Long Lessons.” Students have a variety of opportunities to master the standard! We have already posted two blog posts all about them, so check them out by clicking here for Post #1  and here for Post #2! 

the rigorous owl

 After Literacy Centers comes “Task Card Activity Bundles!” 

These task cards are not just your typical task cards! 
We love the differentiation that is included. From the Literacy Centers, you will get enough documentation to group students accordingly. We love using the Task Card Activity Bundle for Intervention! We rotate students into three groups. Each teacher uses the Task Card Activity Bundle at a different level. The Proficient group uses the enrichment, the Basic group uses the task cards in a larger group setting and the Below Basic group uses the task cards in small groups with a teacher, or assistant, at each group. The differentiation included is sufficient for all three categories of students. 
the rigorous owl

The best part of all three of these tools is that they are “Print and Go!” The work has been done for you! It’s as easy as sending it out to the printers, or doing the printing yourself at school. None of the activities require additional materials. It’s about as easy as it get at a thoroughness and quality that will have your students begging for more! You will stand out from the rest with your test scores and your level of differentiated instruction!

Here is a sample of what this post has been about… 
We have many more options available in our store!
WEEK LONG LESSONS
Context Clues Week Long Lessons Common Core Aligned   Quotes Punctuating Dialogue Week Long Lessons! Common Core   Proverbs & Adages Week Long Lessons Common Core Aligned    Relative Adverbs Week Long Lessons! Common Core Aligned L4.1a
LITERACY CENTERS
Context Clues Literacy Centers   Punctuating Dialogue   Proverbs and Adages   Relative Adverbs
TASK CARD ACTIVITY BUNDLE
Context Clues Task Card Activity Bundle   Punctuating Dialogue Task Cards   Proverbs and Adages Task Card Activity Bundle   Relative Adverbs Task Cards

Click the above images to check them out in our store!
Thanks for joining us on this blog post series! 
If you have any questions or comments, 
we would love to hear from you in the Comments below!

How to Run Literacy Centers in Your Classroom… Part 2 of a 3 Part Series

 Welcome to our second post of our three part series on 
Literacy Centers! 
If you missed Part 1, check it out by clicking HERE!
This blog post is all about how to effectively run a 
Literacy Center Rotation in your classroom! 
You will learn all about organizing groups, getting students engaged, keeping students organized and focused, improving the quality of their work, managing behavior, checking for levels of understanding, team building, and lastly, keeping yourself organized! 
Phhheeeewww! 
That was a lot! Let’s get started!
During a Literacy Center Rotation, we group our students into groups of four. This seems to be a manageable size because many of the activities require pair work with checking another pair’s answers before moving on. In this group of four, we assign a role, or responsibility, for each student. We simply laminate the cards above and use lanyards that we have collected over the years. Another idea is to use yarn and clip them with two clothespins to make a necklace. The team jobs that we use are Spirit Leader, Time Keeper, Clean-Up Crew, and Captain. Team Spirit Leader starts each center off with hands in the middle and a phrase such as, “Go Team!” If someone starts to get negative, they redirect and get their group back on the positivity train! The Time Keeper is in charge of monitoring the time. We display a countdown on our projector for students to use. We like using this Simple Online Countdown Timer. Our Literacy Centers are set up on a 15 min. rotation schedule. Time Keepers give a five minute and one minute warning to their group. The Clean-Up Crew is responsible for stopping at the one minute marker and reminding students to pick up their things, throw trash away and get the center ready for the next group. Team Captains read the directions at each station, settle difficult decisions, and keep their group focused. Giving each child a responsibility is crucial 
to building teamwork and engagement!
 Working in groups is tough! Especially when the teacher is unavailable to monitor students because she is working with a guided reading group! Teaching students how to get along and how to work together takes a lot of training. We believe that explicitly teaching students how to work in groups is extremely necessary. We love to teach off of these posters and post them in an area where students can reference them frequently. Our favorite is the pink image above because we get to role play each part for students to get a feel for how their conversations should sound.
 Because the teacher is unavailable, how do students monitor their own behavior? We teach them how to solve their own conflicts by using the steps on the purple image above. If students cannot come to a solution, or if a student chooses to continue the behavior, other group members can write the student’s name on the Behavior Report. We like to keep this next to us, so that students are less likely to tattle on each other. It seems to make it a little more serious because you can glance at it and send that special student your favorite “teacher look.” The key is to not allow the misbehavior to interrupt your guided reading group. We always deal with the misbehavior after our rotation is over. If it is a situation that the class could learn from, use a class meeting to solve future re-occurrences! 
 How to keep your students on track and organized can be tough! The forms in the image above are posted on our Literacy Center wall. Students can quickly see which group they are in and what they are learning. Students also use the Literacy Center rotation board to see which Literacy Center they are traveling to next. The first image in this blog post shows that board. Our literacy center rotations always focus on one standard at a time. We usually run anywhere from four to six stations at a time all focusing on the same standard. Each Literacy Center focuses on a different aspect of the standard, which makes it easy for us to see what parts students understand and where they may need more instruction or practice.
 Another way to see if students are understanding what is at each Literacy Center is to have them fill out a 
Levels of Understanding Emoji Survey! 
Each student shades in the Emoji that describes 
how they did at the Literacy Center. 
Quick, Easy and Fun!
 Now, here is the part that is a game changer! Because students are rotating through a variety of Literacy Centers, they all finish their work at different speeds. THIS is where you will run into behavior problems! Let’s keep them busy! Students don’t always know what to do when they are done, so TELL THEM! We always make a list of what they could do at each Literacy Center if they get done early. We also provide a Quality Checklist, so that students can improve the quality of their work when they finish! Ummmm, can we say A-MAZE-ING???? And the best part is that it is not coming from you! Students start to do these steps by themselves the more they are exposed to it!
 Here is the part that we LOVE! 
Why? 
Because it is so easy and it is yet another way to recognize 
students for positive behavior! 
It is also an amazing way for you to find out amazing things that happened at a Literacy Center that you may have missed! 
Whenever we think about this component, 
all we see in our minds are SMILES! 
Smiles are always an added bonus, are we right?!
It is important for the teacher to stay organized and collect data from the Literacy Center Rotations. Too often, we will run Literacy Centers and not bother to collect the data that could be used for IEPs, Intervention, Parent-Teacher Conferences, or anywhere else student data is needed. We have a Literacy Center Binder where all of our data is stored. We keep track of student groupings, notes of the groups that come through our Close Reading Literacy Center, levels of understanding, and grades from student work at each center. You’re already doing the work, so you might as well have something to show for it!
If all of this looks so good that you want to have it for your own classroom… Guess What?! You can! 
AAAAANNNDDD… 
YOU CAN HAVE IT FOR FREE!!!!!
Simply subscribe to our newsletter!
Don’t want to subscribe? 
You can also purchase it by CLICKING HERE
… but why would you, right?!
You can also CLICK HERE to get a little taste test 
of our Literacy Centers! 
This is a SAMPLE of our 
Character Traits Literacy Centers.

Want to Implement Literacy Centers in your classroom? We have a plethora to choose from!
Fragments and Run-ons  Formal and Informal Language Plot Character Motivation
Fragments and Run-on Literacy Centers
Formal and Informal Language Literacy Centers
Plot Literacy Centers
Character Motivation Literacy Centers

AND SO MANY MORE!

Be sure to follow us so that you will be notified when our third Literacy Center blog post is done!

Questions/Comments? 
We would LOVE to hear from you 
in the comments below!

How to Improve Your Literacy Block… a 3 part series!

 Welcome!
We cannot wait to share with you what your
Literacy Block is MISSING!
Have you ever taught a standard and had your students
perform poorly on an assessment?
Never, right! HA!
Here’s the problem….
It was happening WAY TOO OFTEN in our classes!
We would give the direct instruction lesson, do a little pair share, give a handout, maybe another handout the next day, talk about it the next day and give an assessment and wonder why our students were not scoring at a proficient or advanced level!
Well, here’s what happened.
It was time for my formal evaluation and I was writing out my typical lesson plan. Totally predictable and totally average.
I stopped and thought to myself, “If my students aren’t scoring proficient or advanced, it doesn’t matter how great this individual lesson looked for an evaluation. The bottom line was that it was not getting the job done. I had to change!” I decided that I would shake my class up a bit and try something new. Because my evaluation was in four days, I had to get my students trained FAST!
Here’s what we decided to do…
The problem was that our students were not getting enough exposure to the standard. We decided to create Literacy Centers for the standards that we were covering in our unit. We would focus on one standard and have students rotate through the six stations in 15 min intervals. We pulled apart each standard into its different components and designed a Literacy Center around it. This way, we could assess the output from the students and evaluate which part of the standard they were not grasping.
Each Literacy Center needed to appeal to different modes of learning. We all know that students learn in different ways, so Literacy Centers need to address the different modes!
Here are the six Literacy Centers that we developed.
Our first center is Close Read. This center is teacher led and examines a passage closely. Students read, discuss, and examine the text’s contents. This guided reading group is our favorite!
The second Literacy Center is the Game. Students love games! Games vary from Matching, to dice games, or even Headbandz. Students love learning with other students!
The Note Taking Literacy Center has students create three column notes. Students fill in a variety of information based on what is asked of them.
The Sort Literacy Center has students practice examples and non-examples. Again, manipulating the content is powerful!
Our Art Center is for students who learn best from visuals. They are asked to draw the concept on their “canvas” and create a short writing piece.
The last Literacy Center is Writing. Students are asked to write showing their knowledge of the standard in their writing.
Take a look at what the Literacy Centers look like in our classrooms.
(On a side note, excuse the mess… students are learning!)
 Here is the most important component to Literacy Centers!
We all know that we have different groups of students in our classroom. Everyone learns at different paces and we need to accommodate these needs in our classrooms.
The most powerful component of these Literacy Centers is that there is a way to DIFFERENTIATE at each center!
If you look at the image above, you can see that the pair on the left is at a lower level of understanding than the pair to the right. One asks for a definition, while the other asks students to apply the meaning to a scenario. The differentiation has been done for you! All you need to do is group your students accordingly!
This has saved us a ton of time when preparing
for GATE students or Intervention!
These Literacy Centers are perfect for small group instruction
at whatever level you need!
The last part that we feel that we have to tell you is how the observation went! Let’s just say that I met all of the teaching standards with flying colors. My evaluator loved the conversations students were having, how engaged the students were, the differentiation and the rigor of the content. She even asked if other teachers could come in to see what we were doing in our classrooms and that this is what great teaching looks like.

We can also tell you that our students LOVE it when we use these centers. When they walk into the room and see them on the schedule, we hear, “Yesssss!!!!! I loooooove the centers!”If you are interested in learning more about Literacy Centers, you have come to the right place. This is post #1 of a 3 part series! Our  post #2 will be all about HOW to run Literacy Centers. Post #3 will be all about where Literacy Centers fit into the sequence of teaching a standard. Be sure to subscribe to be notified and follow us on Instagram!

If you would like to give the Literacy Centers a try for FREE,
Click here for a sample.
You won’t get the differentiation and all of the extras,
but you will get a feel for some of the centers.
If you have any questions, please let us know
in the comments below!
Punctuating Dialogue   Character Change  Proverbs and Adages   Idioms

Idioms Literacy Center
Love FREEBIES?

 

Top Takeaways from The Ron Clark Academy

Welcome!
We are so excited to share our top takeaways from our visit to the Ron Clark Academy. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Ron Clark Academy, and yes, the rumors are true.The Ron Clark Academy is absolutely amazing!
If we were to sum up our trip in one word, our word would be “ELECTRIC.”
Our experience at The Ron Clark Academy was ELECTRIC.
The vibe, the passion, the learning, the feeling,,, everything was ELECTRIC.
If you have not heard of the Ron Clark Academy,
Click here to learn more.
So, what is it like visiting The Ron Clark Academy?

Click here to Get the Feel!

With all of that being said, we can’t wait to share our top takeaways from our visit! Here it goes…

1. Student Relationships
We all know that student relationships are important, but have you ever considered that student relationships are EVERYTHING? When is the last time you looked at your students in their eyes? We mean REALLY looked into their eyes when you were delivering a lesson? It’s that connection that inspires students to rise up and achieve what you are asking from them. The next time you deliver a lesson, notice how many eyes you are looking into. Find out your students’ interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes. Have you eaten lunch with them? Do you have conversations that do not involve academics? Setting this positive personal relationship with students is the foundation for everything else.

2. Engagement
Throughout the entire training, there were three words that were mentioned over and over again. MUSIC. MOVEMENT. MAGIC. These three components are crucial for student engagement.
MUSIC
Mrs. Bearden said, “Music is the heart beat of life.” Wow, right?! How often do you have music playing in your classroom? According to our training, it should be ALL THE TIME. Music should be playing as your students enter and exit your classroom. Loud, upbeat, relevant music that your students enjoy listening to! Music should be playing in the background while you are teaching, music should be played while students are independently working. Go to You Tube and type in: Pop Instrumental Music and the year. You will have a plethora of options to choose from! Students can also create music by doing short chants or cheers. Music brings spirit, excitement and enthusiasm.
MOVEMENT
How much do your students move around the room? They should! How often do you move around the room? Your answer should be ALWAYS! Movement is another way to build a connection with your students. When you deliver a lesson, talk with your hands. We learned that your hands should be moving in an invisible box close to your body for normal speech. When something is of great importance, your hands should break through this invisible box to let students know that they should be listening! If you are walking around the room, STOP when you get to an important point to draw attention. It’s all about these  “opposites” that students will quickly pick up on. Students learn when they are moving! Gestures are a great way to reach your students.
MAGIC
Magic is that little something extra that YOU bring to a lesson. A scenario was presented… Imagine that there are six classrooms… three on each side that have their doors open. Each of them has the same materials, the same classroom decor, the same lesson, the same lesson plans, etc… You walk through the hallway and are asked to pick what classroom you would like to be a part of. You pick. What made you pick that classroom? Was it the smile on the teacher’s face? Was it the smile on her students’ faces? Was it the quick joke? Was it the way she moved? Whatever it was, it was her MAGIC. The teacher makes the difference.

3. Teach High
At the Ron Clark Academy, Ron encouraged us to keep teaching to the high students of your class. Don’t stop because a few do not understand. Keep going! He advises that this is what will motivate the others to improve! This is a great reminder! Too often, we may hold the higher students back. We need to provide the enrichment they need, while providing intervention to those that need it also. We should always move forward!

4. Consistency
No matter what goals you set for yourself and your students, we need to remember that consistency is key. You can have the best plans, but wonder in the end why they didn’t pay off? You may find yourself blaming your students or complaining to others about how nothing you do seems to work. The problem, as hard as it is to admit, is YOU! You are the number one reason your plans do not work out. You are in charge of how successful you and your students are. The faster you realize this, the further you will get reaching your goals. Start small. Set achievable goals that you can follow through with and build onto them!

5. Parents
Here was one of our BIGGEST take-away from the Ron Clark Academy. If we are being honest, it’s where we struggle the most. Parents. Am I speaking to ya? We can love on our students day after day, but until we love our students’ parents and get their buy-in and involvement, we will keep wondering where we are going wrong.
Have you ever gone above and beyond for a student and then find out that it’s their parent who filed a complaint on you or went to the principal because they questioned something you did? EVERY TIME… are we right?! Ron encourages us to keep two separate compartments. He tells us to separate our heads from our heart. Who’s in your heart? Your personal life and your students. Who’s in your head? The parents. Never let your head affect your heart. Don’t take it too personal and let it affect your heart! You are not going to be able to please everyone all of the time. Someone will hear a story wrong or view something in a different light from what you intended it to be.
With that being said, how should we deal with parents? According to Ron, we should give them the red carpet treatment. Take the extra time to build rapport with them. Get to know their names and their entire family. Build relationships! Have you ever done a home visit? If not, maybe consider going to “that student’s” home to grasp a full picture of who they are. Get that parent’s support and buy-in. Another thought is to consider the way you dress. If there are a group of teachers and you are dressed the nicest, how do you think that you are perceived? Ron stated, “Perception is reality.” The way that parents see you is the reality that they have painted in their heads. When a parent has respect for you, they will be more willing to work with you in a positive way!

So, what we are going to implement at our school? We believe that the above takeaways are more of a mindset than anything else. They are great reminders and philosophies to use in your classroom on a daily basis.

Below, you will find different strategies that we plan to implement. Again, we are going to start small and take it one step at a time so that we can have consistency and success. Here are some amazing strategies that we saw at the Ron Clark Academy.

  • Taking the Floor: Taking the floor is all about students answering questions posed by you and moving into a classroom discussion. This strategy puts students in control and gives them a voice. If they have an answer PREPARED and are ready to speak, they simply stand up and address the class (not you). If two students stand up at the same time, they work out who will speak first. For example, if Bob and Mary stand up at the same time and start speaking, Bob can say, “Go ahead Mary. If there is something else I want to add, I will.” Mary can then speak and ask Bob if there was anything else.
  • Chants: Chants are short little cheers or attention grabbers. Chants redirect student behavior. For example, if you’re moving around the room and students are not looking at you, you could say, “Track me now!” Students can reply, “Zoom Zoom Pow!” Students would use gestures while doing this. After students respond, you should wait to make sure that everyone is actually looking before moving on.
  • Ways to Celebrate: Students should celebrate each other’s accomplishments! Teachers should encourage students to whisper, “Great Job,” if a student “rocks” an answer. That act should get praise too! Students should not be timid to give praise to students that deserve it!
  • Essential 55: Ron Clark’s Essential 55 is critical for students to be able to do any of the above tasks. Students need to know how to behave and how to consider students and teachers around them. Ron Clark says that he values the role playing of the Essential 55.
  • House System: This is what we are MOST excited about implementing at our school. We believe that the House System provides the sense of family that is critical for a school. If you haven’t heard of a House System or if you haven’t checked it out, be sure to! They have made it so easy for us! The Ron Clark Academy has a FREE app available in your app store. Once you download it, click on Resources and scroll down to Hope King’s House System. She has a whole article titled, “Houses for Dummies.” It is awesome. It takes you through the idea step-by-step! We plan to roll out this House System in upper grades first, work out the kinks, and then go school wide.
Well, we hope that you have had some takeaways from reading about our trip! 
If you are every able to go to the Ron Clark Academy,
we would strongly encourage you to do so! 
It is seriously a Disneyland for teachers! 
Our trip will forever be ingrained in
our minds and in our classrooms. 
Questions? 
Please leave them in the comments below!