Monday, November 10, 2014

Thanksgiving in an Intermediate Classroom

Here in Canada we have already celebrated Thanksgiving but because of blogging I feel like I get to celebrate it twice a year. Mmmm more turkey.

Here is a Thanksgiving freebie for you. It includes a multiplication practice page, a crossword puzzle,and Thanksgiving writing paper.

All of these are a sample of my Thanksgiving Worksheets and Activities for Intermediate Students Bundle. 


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Create Take Home Home Bags For Reading or Math

During my first year of teaching, I looked for a way to reinforce lessons at home, so I began to create take-home bags.  Book buddies were common with the kindergarten teachers, but I wanted to do something a little different for my third graders.
These are some of my math task cards (click the link and scroll down to view them)

Wear and tear has gotten the best of my first bags.  I use both plastic containers from Dollar Tree and book bags now.  This bag only cost me $1.00 at my local discount store.

During off season time periods, book bags can be purchased at a really good price.  If you cannot find any within your target range, Dollar Tree sometimes has the long plastic containers like these.  Target also has plastic containers. They are usually just above $6 for the longer containers.  

Featured are the Text Feature Playing Cards and the Text Structure Playing Cards.  (Each comes with a printable box)

Each container or bag contains games or task cards that cover one specific topic.  With it organized this way, I can easily assign a specific bag or box to a group of students or assign one to go home with a student that needs extra review.

Dry Erase Close Reading Task Cards are shown in this image.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Inside of a Math Notebook

I am back to show pictures from my math notes.  My students take detailed notes and use interactive journals.  Using visuals really helps them understand ideas and remember information.For Additional Lesson Ideas Click Here

To Access Math Task Cards That Teach And Review or Interactive Notebooks

(They come with printable boxes.  Place a box in a math center station.  Or, send home a box with a student that needs extra review.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Free Technology Idea: Smarpthone and iPhone Drive

This could be brilliant, or it could be crazy......but recently I've been talking with teachers about low- or no-cost ways to get more technology for the classroom. It occurred to me that Android Smartphones and iPhones with wi-fi capability function just like tablets when disconnected from cell service but connected to wi-fi.

Many people upgrade their phones yearly, and with the new iPhone 6 coming out, the timing seems ideal! Why not do a drive at your school for used Android Smartphones and iPhones? You can enhance learning in your classroom for next to nothing!

To help get you started, I created the following *FREE* flyer that can be sent home to parents and hung up in the school. Just click the thumbnail below for your free flyer!

Teach on, techy teachers!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Spiders Are Your Friends

Spiders! We see pretend ones in the store as Halloween decorations (some are pretty terrifying) or real ones outside in a web they have created.  For some reason, these creatures are always something that students want to learn about. How are spiders different than insects? What is an orb web? Are all spiders poisonous? How does the spider not get stuck in her own web? These are questions that students will ask because they are curious and inquisitive.

Did you know spiders are really useful animals and serve mankind well? They eat mosquitoes, grasshoppers, locusts and other insects that are harmful to man. A single spider may kill about two thousand insects in its lifetime. Even though you may be afraid of spiders, very few are dangerous. The black widow and the brown house (recluse) spider do have poisonous bites, but there are no other common house spiders known to be dangerous.

Spiders are not insects, and insects are not spiders. Spiders are arthropods because they have spinning glands used to create silken threads. Sometimes spiders are called arachnids because of their eight legs. Spiders and insects have different attributes. All insects have six legs, but all spiders have eight legs. An insect has a three-part body, but a spider has only two parts to its body. Insects have antennae or feelers, and spiders do not. Spiders can usually be found in basements, barns, garages, or attics. In warm weather, you can find them under rocks or logs, sitting on fences, or in the grass and flowers. There are about forty thousand different species of spiders.

Interested in learning more?  Check out a ten page short mini reading/science unit  about spiders. First, the students read a short passage about spiders. Then they answer several questions about the reading based on Bloom's Taxonomy, or they do an activity related to the reading passage. Activities include dictionary work, spider math problems, labeling the parts of a spider, and completing a spider web. This mini unit is appropriate for grades 3-5 and will take about five days to complete.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Learning Geometry using Number Tiles

My college students will soon start the unit on plane geometry.  I love teaching geometry because it is so visual, but there are others who despise it because of the numerous new words to learn.  In fact, our plane geometry unit alone contains over 50 terms that must be learned as well as understood.

I have found that with my students, mathematical language is either a dead language (It should be buried and never resurrected!), a foreign language (It sounds like a different language from a far away country.), a nonsense language (It makes no sense to me - ever!) or a familiar, useful language. Many times, they are unduly frustrated because mathematical language has never been formally taught or applied to real life.  For example, many primary teachers will have their children sit on the circle when in fact, the children are sitting on the circumference of the circle.  What a wonderful, concrete way to introduce children to the concept of circumference!  Yet, this teaching moment is often missed, and circumference doesn't surface again until it is time to teach the chapter on circles.

Plane Geometry + Number Tiles
Because I believe it is important to find different ways to introduce and practice math vocabulary, I created a new resource for Teachers Pay Teachers entitled: Geometric Math-A-Magical Puzzles.  It is a 48 page handout of puzzles that are solved like magic squares. Number tiles are positioned so that the total of the tiles on each line of the geometric shape add up to be the same sum. Most of the geometric puzzles have more than one answer; so, students are challenged to find a variety of solutions.

Before each set of activities, the geometry vocabulary used for that group of activities is listed. Most definitions include diagrams and/or illustrations. In this way, the students can learn and understand new math words without difficulty or cumbersome words. These activities vary in levels of difficulty. Because the pages are not arranged in any particular order, the students are free to skip around in the book. All of these activities are especially suitable for the visual and/or kinesthetic learner.

A ten page free mini download of this item is available if you want to try it with your students. Check it out!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Math Note Taking

This is Literacy and Math Ideas.  I am back to share some pictures of the recent note taking that my students did in math class.  Click here to take a look.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"I'm done.  Now what??"
Don't you wish you could just point to your pretty bulletin board when you hear this question?
Laurie, a Spanish teacher in New York, created this awesome layout (above) with Autumn Fast Finishers for Spanish Packet from La Profesora Frida.
Below is another creative layout:
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Already purchased La Profesora Frida's Autumn Fast Finishers Bulletin Board Set?  Wishing you could have the WINTER version for FREE??  You can!   Take a picture of your bulletin board layout for the Autumn version and sending it to LaProfesoraFrida on Facebook!

Because we teach in a public school system, we usually have a mixture of ability levels in our foreign language classes.  While we are offering help to students who are having trouble contemplating a subject, there are often those students who understand the content and finish earlier than the rest of the class.  Which is when we hear, "I'm done.  Now what??"

Students who finish fast often fall into one of 2 categories:
-quiet type
-bored "trouble maker"

The quiet type are those students who have a great work ethic.  These students already have a book to read or have brought a bit of homework from another class to work on because they are used to finishing first.  They're nothing to worry about.
Except....  Are they getting as much intellectual stimulation in your class as they deserve?

The bored "trouble makers" are those students who are not actually trouble makers.  They finish early because they are bright students, but then they don't know what to do with themselves.  They might start to wander the classroom or try to talk to students who are still trying to work-- making them appear as though they are trouble makers.
And....  Are they getting as much intellectual stimulation in your class as they deserve?

One useful way to keep Fast Finishers academically focused (whether they realize it or not!) is to apply a Fast Finishers program to your classes.

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I have an Autumn Fast Finishers bulletin board in my classroom  and the idea is to have a number of activities available for students to work on when they're done with their regular work.

There are a variety of activities; writing, reading, speaking, pronunciation, artistic activities, partner work- over 20 to choose from.  The students have a tracking sheet and know that they aren't to bother you while you're helping other students!  (There are several posters included in this packet so students know to only ask you to check their Fast Finishers work if they KNOW you're not busy!)

Check out this interactive, creative Spanish packet at my TeachersPayTeachers store!  Let me know what you think!  I find it incredibly useful, and I hope that you can apply this teaching concept to your Spanish classes as well.

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Already purchased La Profesora Frida's Autumn Fast Finishers Bulletin Board Set?  You could get the WINTER version for FREE by taking a picture of your bulletin board layout for the Autumn version and sending it to her on Facebook

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Congratulations to the Winners of the THREE $100 GIVEAWAYS of TpT Gift Certificates!

Congratulations to 

Megan Wallen, the winner of the FIRST $100 TpT Gift Certificate...

Erica Hildebrand, the winner of the SECOND $100 TpT Gift Certificate...


Wise Guys, the winners of the THIRD $100 TpT Gift Certificate...

Follow me at so that you will know when I will be having other THREE $100 GIVEAWAYS of TpT Gift Certificates!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tips & Tricks for ELL Family Engagement

The beginning of the school year is the best time to start to connect with parents and open a dialogue about their child's learning. This can be especially important and challenging for teachers with ELLs.

Come by The ESOL Odyssey to learn some tips and tricks for Engaging the Families of ELLs!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Number the Stars ELA Activities

Number the Stars! 

This is definitely one of my favorite stories! It's set during World War II and is so skillfully written by Lois Lowry that the characters come alive. It's based on a story that was told to Mrs. Lowry by a woman who lived through the German occupation during the War.

Because most students have no background knowledge about WWII, I included an article, with questions, that gives them a better understanding of the events and circumstances happening during those years. Also included is a map of Denmark and Europe, with map activities that can be integrated with social studies classes. This 71 page packet has detailed instructions of how to use the pages.


photo of Number the Stars ELA Activities, PDF, novel studies, ready to print student worksheets,Ruth S.
photo of Number the Stars ELA Activities, PDF, novel studies, ready to print student worksheets,, Ruth S.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fill Your Shopping Carts

Back-to-School Boost - One Day Sale - August 20th

300 × 250

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a Back-to-School Boost!  Use the promo code BOOST and receive 10% off all Teachers Pay Teachers' products.  Take an additional 20% off all of my products at TpT.  
Go to my TpT store at...

Some of my best-selling TpT products are...
Teaching Tips From an Award-Winning National Board Certified Teacher
Word Problem of the Day - 200 Word Problems & Charts

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Start the Year off Right..... starting EVERY class period off right. 

This is a tip for secondary teachers that teach multiple sections each day. 

Call it what you want - a Bell Ringer, a Do Now, Bell Work, whatever.....just make sure you do it everyday.  It has to be a routine to be useful.

Explain your process the first day & do it from day 2 on!

My students pick up their "Bellringer Book" on the way into the classroom, complete the practice/review problems or respond to the prompt on the board and return the book to the bin on the "Bellringer Table" within 4 minutes. 

It is a great way to start class!  It buys me 4 minutes to record attendance, reset the room from the last class, and check in with late students.  It gets students into class-mode from the moment they enter the classroom and provides a natural consequence for being late to class. 

I prepare a booklet of legal sized paper folded in half for each marking period with the dates printed on the pages.  I randomly check them for a grade.  Sometimes the grade is for completion, sometimes for correctness.  You could  have students write dates in a composition book, or keep a section in their own notebooks for Bell Work. 

If you happen to teach Algebra, I've begun a series of Bell Work PowerPoint files.  Each has 48 days from which to choose.  SET 1 is posted: 

Here is the index slide with hyperlinks to the slide you select for the day:
I'm hoping to finish up & post SET 2 within days:

Good Luck with the new school year.   
It's difficult to take back a class, be sure to start it off right!

Lisa   =)

Save some money for Back-to-School time!

If you're like me, you're always looking for a bargain. One of the great things about being a teacher is the many businesses that offer everyday discounts for Teachers to help you stretch that salary just a little further. On my blog, The ESOL Odyssey, I've compiled a list of Everyday Discounts just for teachers! Hop on by and save some $$!

Have a great school year!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Writing Prompts for Research Papers

 I like to let students choose their own topics for their research papers, but I find they need a little direction to get started. In my blog, I talk about how to get them going with prompts and questions to consider. I've had great results in my classroom using these prompt cards. Read all about it here!
Happy Teaching!