Sunday, October 9, 2016

How You Can Squeeze Social Studies Into Your Reading Block

Do you have a hard time fitting Social Studies into your day? Many of us are expected to integrate it during our reading block which is really hard and honestly doesn't happen very consistently.  I love all the cute flip books and interactive notebooks too, but I cannot dedicate the time needed for them. After failing at this too many times, I began looking for close reading texts that contained Social Studies content that I could use during my Reading Block. Unfortunately, finding really good text was very hard to do. There seemed to be great text for Science, but not Social Studies.

How I squeezed Social Studies into my Reading Block

Finally, I decided to make my own. My goal was to create a close reading text that students could use in whole or small group as well as in literacy centers. I wanted a resource that was flexible, so that I could squeeze it into different areas as needed. After all, teaching Social Studies is important and my students deserve to learn this important content, so I need to find a way. 

The first set is for the 3rd Grade Civics and Government strand and includes three passages with ELA Common Core question stems and a Social Studies Connection question. The three passages are:

Three close reading texts with ELA and Social Studies question stems.

For each passage, I have included both ELA and Social Studies questions, so that students are using close reading to increase comprehension of the text as well as gain Social Studies content knowledge.

This also gives students valuable practice responding to questions in complete sentences and citing text evidence.

Social Studies close reading text with ELA question stems.
I love the flexibility of these close reading passages! You can use them as the primary text when teaching Social Studies concepts or as a supplement to a Social Studies activity that you do have time for! As an added bonus, you can take both an ELA and a Social Studies grade.

Social Studies close reading passage with ELA and Social Studies quesitions.
So if you need to squeeze Social Studies content into your Reading Block, this resource is perfect! Just a quick click on this link and you can preview it for yourself!

Civics and Government Close Reading for 3rd Grade

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Could You Use $75 in Classroom Resources?

I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of my own money on classroom supplies and instructional resources. There are so many amazing resources on Teachers Pay Teachers that my students need and like most teachers, I want them to have the best! But, it starts adding up and many schools and districts do not reimburse teachers for these resources. I've got one way you can get the resources you need and not pay out of your own pocket! 

Just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win a $75 TPT gift card! Good luck! I would LOVE to have one of my Teaching in the Heart of Florida followers win!

Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 10/13/16 and is open worldwide.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

Here's a couple of new resources in my store that might help you out in your classroom!

This resource is great for goal setting
and progress monitoring! It includes goal setting pages, progress monitoring graphs, and certificates for reading, writing, and math.

Chalkboard and Polka Dots AR Chart
 for your classroom! Works perfectly for
 many classroom decors and is available in 10's too!

My newest resource helps you teach
Social Studies in your Reading Block!
 There are 3 texts with ELA question stems.
 Works really well for whole group instruction,
small group, or centers!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Teacher Tip Tuesday - Managing Transitions

One of the biggest problems students and teachers have in the classroom is during transitions from one activity to another or one subject to another. Why is it a problem for both students and teachers? Let me explain......

Scenario 1: You are teaching a lesson and everything is going great - students are listening and participating - you close the lesson feeling on top of the world. Now it's time to move to another activity or subject. So, you grab the next set of materials and move on. After all, you have a lot to do and need to get through the lesson plans. Not only that, your class has to go to lunch soon or computer lab or specials, etc. As you are moving on, the noise level grows and grows, students are restless, and possibly misbehaviors begin occur. Why?

Scenario 2: Your students return from lunch, computer lab, or specials and upon getting seated in the classroom, noise levels rise, and two students begin arguing, As a teacher, you are thinking "What is happening here? I don't have time for this, I need to start math."

Remember when I said this is a problem for both students and teachers? Let me start with teachers. Once students are off task, talkative, misbehaving, it is time-consuming and hard to bring them back. If this happens throughout the day, you are missing a lot of instructional time and students aren't learning.  For students, it's frustrating because many of them aren't doing anything wrong, but their teacher seems to be frustrated or mad.

These type situations happen to all teachers at one time or another and will continue if certain changes aren't made. For new teachers, this happens a lot. Why? Because they tend to be very focused on teaching their lessons and making sure they cover all the material. So, when they are done, they are ready to transition to the next thing. Both of these situations occurred during that transition period in the classroom. Students and teachers are moving from one activity to another.

So, how do you fix it?

TELL THEM YOUR EXPECTATIONS and GIVE THEM A PROCEDURE FOR IT: Have you told them what you expect them to do when you aren't teaching? Do they know what to do when they walk into the classroom and are waiting for instruction to begin? Here's what I have done in the past:

1. My students were expected to READ in between subjects, instruction, or whenever they don't know what to do. I would specifically tell them that was my expectation for them. They were responsible for having a book in their desk at all times - either a library book, a classroom book, or a personal one. ALWAYS.

2. I gave specific instruction at the end of a lesson.  "Before we begin centers, I would like you to put your textbooks away, get your center folder out, and read quietly until I tell you to move to your center."  This does two things, tells students exactly what I expect and gives them a procedure to do it and gives me time to move to my next activity or lesson.

3. If students were moving from desks to carpet area, I would say, "please fold your arms and walk quietly to your space." Expectation and procedure.  If a student did not follow my directions, I would ask them to go back and do it again.

4. Before entering the classroom, I tell them exactly what I wanted them to do when they got to their desk or on the carpet area. This way, when I am ready to begin - they are too.

It's all about expectations and procedures. Now, 100% of your students are not going to follow directions or procedures 100% of the time - so don't be disappointed by this. If your students don't follow your specific directions - re-teach and let them try again. If you do this, they will get it and transitions will become quieter, easier, and more productive.

One more thing - be consistent. Try to keep transition procedures the same for similar activities. If you do, it will become routine. Give it a try - I think you will see improvement pretty quickly!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

New Teacher Tip Tuesday - Feeling Overwhelmed

Lesson plans, papers to grade, meetings to attend, demanding parents, behavior issues, and the ever present thought that this is not what I was expecting it to be.  It's a lot to take on isn't it?

If you are feeling overwhelmed as a new teacher, here are 5 tips that will help you through it.

Especially when just a few months ago you were a student and maybe some of you were interning with a really great teacher who had wonderful classroom procedures in place when you arrived.  She had already built relationships with students and parents.  It was an AWESOME interning experience. Now reality has hit and you are feeling overwhelmed because it's not quite as easy when you are the person in charge. You're thinking "I'm not cut out for this." Don't worry - here's what you need to do:

1.  BREATHE - It's going to be fine. Really.  Most teachers feel somewhat overwhelmed at this point in the school year - not just new teachers.  Everything is new each school year to some degree and it takes time to get it under control. So, remember it's not just you.

2.  FOCUS - There are a million little details that pop up and you have to deal with them, but keep your focus on your students and their learning. 

3.  GET ORGANIZED - If you are an organized person - skip this step.  But if you are NOT, please take my advice.
  • Create a student filing system for their graded papers and other paperwork that must go home. 
  • Get a Academic calendar planner and USE it. Write down everything and check off your list as you complete tasks. 
  • Have a folder or drawer for papers that need grading. Try not to get behind on grading - it's a mountain your don't want to have to climb.
  • Create folders for lesson plans by subject or by day and put everything you will need for the lesson in that folder. 
4. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF - It will feel like you could work 24/7 and never get it all done.  It's true - you can't, so stop stressing and pace yourself. Try to work on school stuff only one day out of the weekend. You need time off or you will get burnt out really fast. 

5. ASK FOR HELP - Your teammates and administration are very busy just like you, so they don't always know when you need help - so ask.  90% of the time they will be happy to help you out. Remember - they were first year teachers at some point and they REMEMBER how hard it was.  

If it feels overwhelming being a new teacher, check out these tips!
If this is how you feel, just remember to:


Thanks for stopping by! Check back next Tuesday for another New Teacher Tip Tuesday!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New Teacher Tip Tuesday - Begin with the End in Mind

Welcome to New Teacher Tip Tuesday! If you are a new teacher or newish to the teaching profession, this series of blog posts is for YOU! After being in the elementary classroom for the past 15 years, I have begun a new position as a New Teacher Mentor. Now that I am in this position, your struggles and challenges are in my view 5 days a week. I remember what that first year was like and I want to tell you - IT GETS BETTER AND EASIER - so hang in there! Meanwhile, check in with me every Tuesday for little tidbits of help that will make your first year a little bit easier.

Begin with the End in Mind

Because I know that you have about a billion things to think about every day and sometimes figuring out what to do first is a challenge, I would like to narrow your focus a little by talking about planning and instruction. There's lots of noise in education that might cloud your focus from the most important aspect of teaching - student learning. It's the bottom line and it's where the majority of your time and effort should be taking place.  So how can you do this? Begin with the end in mind.

What does that mean?  Basically, start at what you want the students to know and learn and go backwards when planning. Most schools, districts, and states use standards whether they are Common Core, Florida LAFS/MAFS, Texas TEKS, or whatever. Begin with the standard and determine what it is the students should know and be able to do in order to master the standard. Plan your instruction, activities, formative and summative assessments to achieve this goal.

Sample plan of activities for RL3.3 that focuses on beginning with the end in mind.

Everything I have planned for this standard relates directly to what it wants students to be able to do. Now when I assess my students, I will know if they mastered this standard or if we need to re-visit it again. The focus should always be on what the students should be learning. If you approach your lesson planning by beginning with the end in mind, your students will learn and you will be putting the most effort in the area of teaching that is most important.

Don't forget to begin with the standard when planning.