Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Help Us Give Teachers the Recognition They Deserve!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Jul 16, 2015 3:35:36 PM

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Do you know a K-8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our teacher spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or narrative texts.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

Read More

Topics: Teacher Spotlight

Classic Post: Letter-Learning Ideas

Posted by Tiffani Mugurussa on Aug 5, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This guest blog post is by Tiffani Mugurussa of Rohnert Park, CA. It was originally published in October 2013. If you like what you see here, Tiffani also writes a blog called Time 4 Kindergarten, in which she writes about phonemic awareness, classroom decor, numbers, letters, and more! 

Letter Learning with Books and Manipulatives

letter buddies books 250Hi, I’m Tiffani Mugurussa! So many of my students come to school with very little knowledge of the alphabet. For many, singing the ABC is their only connection to the alphabet. This is why so much of the beginning of my school year focuses on the alphabet. We are very busy learning the difference between letters and numbers, what each alphabet symbol represents, and the sound for each letter.

On the first day of school, I begin with the letter A and introduce a new letter each day until we reach the letter Z. This is just an introduction to the entire alphabet; once we have met all of the letters, we begin our letter of the week focus. This is a more in-depth concentration on each individual letter.

letter buddies interior 250To introduce each letter during my 26-day letter introduction, I use alphabet books, flash cards, and other alphabet materials. I have a very old set of alphabet books with cartoonish pictures that I have used for years. However, when I saw the Letter Buddies Letter Books, I knew I needed to use these. The books have beautiful, real photos. There is something about using real photos when teaching—the students really become enthralled with the pictures, and it makes the content you are teaching relevant.

To begin, I share the book with my class. We discuss each photo. Being that many of my students are learning English, these books are a great resource for building their vocabulary. I point to the beginning letter in each word in hopes that the students make the connection that the beginning letter is the beginning sound and the focus letter. Next we try to name some other items that begin with the letter.

I follow up the books and letter introduction with other letter activities during our daily center time.

Here are two of my students’ favorite centers:

Alphabet Manipulatives: Use Beads, Magnetic Letters, or Letter Tiles

Choose one of these manipulatives to place in a tub of rice. Students sift through the rice searching for the focus letter. I colored my rice to make it a little more fun.

colored letters rice 250 white letters rice 250

Shaving Cream: Spray a small amount of shaving cream on the table. Students can practice writing the focus letter in the cream. They will love this activity, and—best of all—it cleans up easy and makes your tables really clean.

shaving cream 250

When teaching the whole group, I like to use activities that get the students involved. Pocket-chart sorting is an activity that I use often with my whole class. Using a set of beginning sound picture cards that I have made, students take turns placing the cards under the correct letters.

pocket sorting 250

First, I pass the cards out to the students. I then have them come to the pocket chart one at a time. They must say the name of their picture, the beginning sound, and then what letter the picture begins with. This activity focuses on several skills at the same time, which are perfect for my for my English-language learners. My students are learning English vocabulary, first-sound fluency, and letter names.

tiffani mugurussa~~~

A little bit about me: my name is Tiffani Mugurussa, and I am an alphabet-singing, storybook-reading kindergarten teacher. I am also the author of Time 4 Kindergarten, a blog for kindergarten teachers. I have been a teacher for 23 years, teaching grades kindergarten through fifth. This is my ninth year as a kindergarten teacher. I'm a kindergartner at heart. I love being the foundation of a child's education. Knowing that I am responsible for their first school experiences warms my heart with love, pride, and joy.

~~~

Do you know a K–8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our Teacher Spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or literature.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

Read More

Topics: Teacher Spotlight, Making Learning Fun, K-2 Literacy, Letter Buddies, Letter Learning, Tiffani Mugurussa

Classic Post: Teaching Speaking & Listening Standards

Posted by Dana Lester on Jul 22, 2014 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest blog post by Dana Lester of Common to the Core, originally published in October 2013. Dana wanted to bring the attention of the teaching community to the Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards, which she feels are often overlooked. She's come up with some ways to encourage oral language skills in the classroom, so read on to find out more!

dana lester 200Speaking and Listening Standards in the Classroom

Reading lessons that include Literature and Informational Text standards can easily be created around pretty much any book, but what about Speaking and Listening Standards? Do you purposefully include these standards? Do you teach Speaking and Listening standards with the same explicit instruction that you use with the other standards? Prior to spending hours and hours in Common Core State Standards training to be a Core Coach for my state, I didn’t. I was of the mindset, “Oh, they know how to talk to teach other. They can listen. I don’t really have to teach those things.” WRONG.

We have to use the same direct instruction that we use to teach vowel sounds, to teach speaking and listening skills. Yes, our students talk. Yes, they listen (most of the time). But it’s probably not the quality of speaking and listening that’s called for by the Common Core State Standards. Teachers must model rich, purposeful talk and understand that oral language skills influence reading comprehension.

I have a few Speaking and Listening activities to share with you that can be used around any genre of story. Folktales are one of my favorite genres and I love designing lessons around them. The Little Red Hen is a classic story that is familiar to most children, but there are so many versions of this tale, that it is easy to find one your students aren’t familiar with. For example, the most recent version I’ve seen is one in which the cat plays the guitar, the duck plays the drums, and the goose sings! This hilarious version is retold by Alan Trussell-Cullen and is published by Hameray. I like the ending of this retelling because the hen actually lets the other animals eat the bread after they each choose a chore to help with clean up!

Little Red Hen Cover FinalSo, you’re ready to read. Start with intentional pairing. This will allow more students to be engaged in dialogue. Some tips for pairing are:

  • Know your students; don’t put a Chatty Cathy with a painfully shy child. The painfully shy child will never get a word in edgewise.
  • Assign each partner a number (1, 2) or a word (peanut butter/jelly, milk/cookie)

Read the story, pausing to discuss along the way. Don’t wait until the end of the story to ask questions about what the hen did first. An easy way to remember to ask questions is to put a sticky note on the page you want to ask questions about. Encourage oral language by requiring students to support their answer with details from the text. This, my friends, is what “close reading” looks like in Kindergarten or 1st grade!

Allow students to have a thirty-second conversation with their partner about a specific part of the story. For example, the teacher says, “Boys and girls, I want you to turn to your partner and all the 1’s are going to talk about why the hen’s friends did not want to help bake the bread and when I call out SWITCH, I want the 2’s to talk about what the hen did when no one would help her.” This intentional pairing ensures that each child gets the same amount of airtime and all voices are heard. The thirty-second conversation hits the first Speaking and Listening standard for grades K–2.

We can also use sentence stems to build oral language. Sentence stems are sentence starters. First, the teacher would explicitly model the process by writing the stem on the board and reading it aloud while writing: “I can help…” The teacher completes the sentence. “I can help my daughter with her homework.” Next, the teacher directs the students to “grow” their sentence stem with their partner. Partners share their sentences with each other, then shares with the class. Not only would this meet the firstSpeaking and Listening standard, but it pulls in the first-grade standard on producing complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation and the Language standard on producing and expanding simple and compound declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences.

5085 Different Kinds of Bread Cover FINALGreat conversations can arise from reading two different versions of the same folktale. Students can compare and contrast the actions of the characters using sentence stems and the thirty-second conversation. Creating a word web is an excellent way to expand vocabulary. Read an informational text on bread, such as Different Kinds of Bread by Alan Trussell-Cullen and have students create a web with the word “bread” in the center. Students will be able to pull words such as wheat and flour from The Little Red Hen and words such as "pita," "crust," and "baking powder" from Different Kinds of Bread.

To sum things up, oral language strategies will benefit our high- and low-language students. We must design our lessons with Speaking and Listening Standards in mind and plan for opportunities for students to practice these skills throughout the day. Give students thirty seconds to talk to each other about a specific topic. You will be surprised at how students can benefit from half a minute. Emphasis the importance of vocabulary through word webs. Post these webs in your writing area so students can see these words and use them in their own writing. Support language development with activities that structure sentence formation. Post sentence stems around the room so students will have constant reminders on how to produce complete sentences. Literacy gets its start with oral language, so we must be purposeful in our talk!

~~~

dana lester blog screenshotDana Lester received a B.S. and Master’s Degree from Middle Tennessee State University and is currently teaching at Walter Hill School in Murfreesboro, TN. Dana is also a Common Core Coach with the Tennessee State Department of Education. She has 12 years of classroom experience and has just begun her role as Library Media Specialist. As a strong advocate of the Common Core Standards and Whole Brain Teaching strategies, she engages her students in hands-on, inquiry based learning and shares many ideas and activities on her blog, Common to the Core. She was named Teacher of the Year at Walter Hill in 2013.

~~~

Do you know a K–8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our Teacher Spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or literature.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

For more information about the Story World Real World series shown in this post, visit our website or click the image below to download an information sheet with series highlights and key features!

New Call-to-Action

Read More

Topics: Teacher Spotlight, Common Core, Literature, Informational Text, Oral Language Development, Dana Lester, Speaking and Listening

Have Great Teaching Ideas? Write for Our Literacy Blog!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Feb 26, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Do you like to write? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Do you know a K–8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Come stand in our Teacher Spotlight, or sign on as a guest blogger!

We're looking for bloggers and teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog this spring and summer! Our Teacher Spotlight runs least once a month, possibly more often, with the aim of inspiring the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Slightly different from the Teacher Spotlight, our guest blog posts are featured one to three times per week, and bloggers usually sign on for a run of four to six posts at a time. These posts can increase the visibility and traffic of your own blog, and ensure that your contributions to education are seen far and wide.

Each teacher and guest blogger we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or literature. You can develop your classroom library at the same time as you share ideas with other educators on how you use the series in your classroom.

If you are interested, tell us a little more about yourself here and someone will contact you to participate in the Teacher Spotlight, guest blogging, or BOTH!

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Topics: Teacher Spotlight, K-2 Literacy, Guest Blog

Spotlight! Teaching Speaking & Listening Standards with Dana Lester!

Posted by Dana Lester on Oct 30, 2013 8:01:00 AM

teacher spotlight


Welcome once again to our Teacher Spotlight, giving recognition (and free books!) to deserving teachers who have great ideas to share. Today's featured teacher is Dana Lester of Murfreesboro, TN. She writes a blog called Common to the Core, in which she writes about the Common Core State Standards, student reading skills, behavior management, books and products, and more! Dana wanted to bring the attention of the teaching community to the Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards, which she feels are often overlooked. She's come up with some ways to encourage oral language skills in the classroom, so read on to find out more!

dana lester 200Speaking and Listening Standards in the Classroom

Reading lessons that include Literature and Informational Text standards can easily be created around pretty much any book, but what about Speaking and Listening Standards? Do you purposefully include these standards? Do you teach Speaking and Listening standards with the same explicit instruction that you use with the other standards? Prior to spending hours and hours in Common Core State Standards training to be a Core Coach for my state, I didn’t. I was of the mindset, “Oh, they know how to talk to teach other. They can listen. I don’t really have to teach those things.” WRONG. We have to use the same direct instruction that we use to teach vowel sounds, to teach speaking and listening skills. Yes, our students talk. Yes, they listen (most of the time). But it’s probably not the quality of speaking and listening that’s called for by the Common Core State Standards. Teachers must model rich, purposeful talk and understand that oral language skills influence reading comprehension.

I have a few Speaking and Listening activities to share with you that can be used around any genre of story. Folktales are one of my favorite genres and I love designing lessons around them. The Little Red Hen is a classic story that is familiar to most children, but there are so many versions of this tale, that it is easy to find one your students aren’t familiar with. For example, the most recent version I’ve seen is one in which the cat plays the guitar, the duck plays the drums, and the goose sings! This hilarious version is retold by Alan Trussell-Cullen and is published by Hameray. I like the ending of this retelling because the hen actually lets the other animals eat the bread after they each choose a chore to help with clean up!

Little Red Hen Cover FinalSo, you’re ready to read. Start with intentional pairing. This will allow more students to be engaged in dialogue. Some tips for pairing are:

  • Know your students; don’t put a Chatty Cathy with a painfully shy child. The painfully shy child will never get a word in edgewise.
  • Assign each partner a number (1, 2) or a word (peanut butter/jelly, milk/cookie)

Read the story, pausing to discuss along the way. Don’t wait until the end of the story to ask questions about what the hen did first. An easy way to remember to ask questions is to put a sticky note on the page you want to ask questions about. Encourage oral language by requiring students to support their answer with details from the text. This, my friends, is what “close reading” looks like in Kindergarten or 1st grade!

Allow students to have a thirty-second conversation with their partner about a specific part of the story. For example, the teacher says, “Boys and girls, I want you to turn to your partner and all the 1’s are going to talk about why the hen’s friends did not want to help bake the bread and when I call out SWITCH, I want the 2’s to talk about what the hen did when no one would help her.” This intentional pairing ensures that each child gets the same amount of airtime and all voices are heard. The thirty-second conversation hits the first Speaking and Listening standard for grades K–2.

We can also use sentence stems to build oral language. Sentence stems are sentence starters. First, the teacher would explicitly model the process by writing the stem on the board and reading it aloud while writing: “I can help…” The teacher completes the sentence. “I can help my daughter with her homework.” Next, the teacher directs the students to “grow” their sentence stem with their partner. Partners share their sentences with each other, then shares with the class. Not only would this meet the firstSpeaking and Listening standard, but it pulls in the first-grade standard on producing complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation and the Language standard on producing and expanding simple and compound declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences.

5085 Different Kinds of Bread Cover FINALGreat conversations can arise from reading two different versions of the same folktale. Students can compare and contrast the actions of the characters using sentence stems and the thirty-second conversation. Creating a word web is an excellent way to expand vocabulary. Read an informational text on bread, such as Different Kinds of Bread by Alan Trussell-Cullen and have students create a web with the word “bread” in the center. Students will be able to pull words such as wheat and flour from The Little Red Hen and words such as "pita," "crust," and "baking powder" from Different Kinds of Bread.

To sum things up, oral language strategies will benefit our high and low language students. We must design our lessons with Speaking and Listening Standards in mind and plan for opportunities for students to practice these skills throughout the day. Give students thirty seconds to talk to each other about a specific topic. You will be surprised at how students can benefit from half a minute. Emphasis the importance of vocabulary through word webs. Post these webs in your writing area so students can see these words and use them in their own writing. Support language development with activities that structure sentence formation. Post sentence stems around the room so students will have constant reminders on how to produce complete sentences. Literacy gets its start with oral language, so we must be purposeful in our talk!

~~~

dana lester blog screenshotDana Lester received a B.S. and Master’s Degree from Middle Tennessee State University and is currently teaching at Walter Hill School in Murfreesboro, TN. Dana is also a Common Core Coach with the Tennessee State Department of Education. She has 12 years of classroom experience and has just begun her role as Library Media Specialist. As a strong advocate of the Common Core Standards and Whole Brain Teaching strategies, she engages her students in hands-on, inquiry based learning and shares many ideas and activities on her blog, Common to the Core. She was named Teacher of the Year at Walter Hill in 2013.

~~~

Do you know a K–8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our Teacher Spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or literature.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

For more information about the Story World Real World series shown in this post, visit our website or click the image below to download an information sheet with series highlights and key features!

New Call-to-Action

Read More

Topics: Teacher Spotlight, Common Core, Literature, Informational Text, Oral Language Development, Dana Lester, Speaking and Listening

Spotlight! Letter-Learning Ideas with Tiffani Mugurussa!

Posted by Tiffani Mugurussa on Oct 4, 2013 8:00:00 AM

teacher spotlight
Welcome once again to our Teacher Spotlight, giving recognition (and free books!) to deserving teachers who have great ideas to share. Today's featured teacher is Tiffani Mugurussa of Rohnert Park, CA. She writes a blog called Time 4 Kindergarten, in which she writes about phonemic awareness, classroom decor, numbers, letters, and more! Tiffani brought to our attention some great activities she's come up with to teach letters to her kindergarten students; she wanted to share them with the wider teaching community, so read on to find out more!

Letter Learning with Books and Manipulatives

letter buddies books 250Hi, I’m Tiffani Mugurussa! So many of my students come to school with very little knowledge of the alphabet. For many, singing the ABC is their only connection to the alphabet. This is why so much of the beginning of my school year focuses on the alphabet. We are very busy learning the difference between letters and numbers, what each alphabet symbol represents, and the sound for each letter.

On the first day of school, I begin with the letter A and introduce a new letter each day until we reach the letter Z. This is just an introduction to the entire alphabet; once we have met all of the letters, we begin our letter of the week focus. This is a more in-depth concentration on each individual letter.

letter buddies interior 250To introduce each letter during my 26-day letter introduction, I use alphabet books, flash cards, and other alphabet materials. I have a very old set of alphabet books with cartoonish pictures that I have used for years. However, when I saw the Letter Buddies Letter Books, I knew I needed to use these. The books have beautiful, real photos. There is something about using real photos when teaching—the students really become enthralled with the pictures, and it makes the content you are teaching relevant.

To begin, I share the book with my class. We discuss each photo. Being that many of my students are learning English, these books are a great resource for building their vocabulary. I point to the beginning letter in each word in hopes that the students make the connection that the beginning letter is the beginning sound and the focus letter. Next we try to name some other items that begin with the letter.

I follow up the books and letter introduction with other letter activities during our daily center time.

Here are two of my students’ favorite centers:

Alphabet Manipulatives: Use Beads, Magnetic Letters, or Letter Tiles

Choose one of these manipulatives to place in a tub of rice. Students sift through the rice searching for the focus letter. I colored my rice to make it a little more fun.

colored letters rice 250 white letters rice 250

Shaving Cream: Spray a small amount of shaving cream on the table. Students can practice writing the focus letter in the cream. They will love this activity, and—best of all—it cleans up easy and makes your tables really clean.

shaving cream 250

When teaching the whole group, I like to use activities that get the students involved. Pocket-chart sorting is an activity that I use often with my whole class. Using a set of beginning sound picture cards that I have made, students take turns placing the cards under the correct letters.

pocket sorting 250

First, I pass the cards out to the students. I then have them come to the pocket chart one at a time. They must say the name of their picture, the beginning sound, and then what letter the picture begins with. This activity focuses on several skills at the same time, which are perfect for my for my English-language learners. My students are learning English vocabulary, first-sound fluency, and letter names.

tiffani mugurussa~~~

A little bit about me: my name is Tiffani Mugurussa, and I am an alphabet-singing, storybook-reading kindergarten teacher. I am also the author of Time 4 Kindergarten, a blog for kindergarten teachers. I have been a teacher for 23 years, teaching grades kindergarten through fifth. This is my ninth year as a kindergarten teacher. I'm a kindergartner at heart. I love being the foundation of a child's education. Knowing that I am responsible for their first school experiences warms my heart with love, pride, and joy.

~~~

Do you know a K–8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our Teacher Spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or literature.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

- Tara Rodriquez

Read More

Topics: Teacher Spotlight, Making Learning Fun, K-2 Literacy, Letter Buddies, Letter Learning, Tiffani Mugurussa

Spotlight! Tips for Classroom Management with Richard Giso!

Posted by Richard Giso on Sep 13, 2013 8:00:00 AM

describe the image
Richard Giso 200Welcome once again to our Teacher Spotlight, giving recognition (and free books!) to deserving teachers who have great ideas to share. Today's featured teacher is Richard Giso of Salem, MA. He writes a blog called Mr. Giso's Room to Read, in which he writes about fun classroom activities, behavior management, and classroom management.

In addition to coming to stand in our Spotlight, Richard has agreed to write a series of guests posts for us, so be on the lookout for more content from him coming soon, right here on our Classroom Literacy blog. Today, he is sharing with us some of his classroom management tips and ideas, developed over his fifteen-plus years of teaching experience.

Classroom Management

I am often asked how my classroom runs like a “well-oiled machine.” My response always notes how important the first few weeks of school are in setting a positive, yet well-managed, tone for the remainder of the school year. Without establishing clear expectations starting day one, a teacher is setting his or her classroom up for a year of potentially ineffective instruction. I’m pleased to have a chance to share some of my strategies in this Teacher’s Spotlight.

Mr. Giso’s Top 10 Tips for a Well-Managed Classroom

1. Be as FIRM and as STRICT as you can be from day one—especially for new teachers. You can always “ease up on the reins” as you move through the year, but you will never “tighten them up” successfully midyear. You are not your students’ friends; you are their teacher. Don’t worry—in the end, they will still love you.

2. Establish a routine for everything, starting on the first day of school. This includes daily before-school work, walking in the halls, sharpening a pencil, getting supplies, using the bathrooms, assembling on the rug, using your classroom library, placing the date on written work, unpacking snacks, turning in homework, taking attendance, collecting lunch money, dismissal—EVERYTHING!

3. Develop classroom rules and expectations as a community on the first day of school. Phrase words in a positive manner. Instead of “No running!” use “We will walk.” Have them numbered and posted in a central location by the second day. Don’t forget them! When a student breaks a rule, bring him or her to the rule board for a discussion. Send the rules home to parents the first week, so that they know your expectations, too.

ClassRules

4. Establish fair and logical consequences for breaking rules beforehand, and communicate this to children AND to families. They should always know what to expect for which behaviors. This avoids making a threat that is not possible to follow thorough. Avoid surprises.

5. Be careful with rewards. Way too often, children expect to get something for behaving. Make good behavior the norm—the expectation. Avoid bribing at all costs. Children need to behave because that is what is expected of them. This is not to say that offering raffle tickets for a raffle at the end of the week or having children have their own mini-banks to save up for a class store is a bad idea, just don’t overdo it. Keep candy at home. It has no place being handed out for rewards in the classroom.

6. Give your class’s line behavior extra attention. Your students’ behavior in line is a mirror image of their behavior in your classroom. The only difference is that, in line, you have NO door to close. Quiet voices, hands by sides, facing forward, etc., must be reinforced daily. Have a “mystery walker.” Pick a random student each day (popsicle sticks work great to draw names). At the end of the day, announce that student’s name, discuss his or her line behavior, and reward accordingly.

7. Half of your class should not be on daily behavior reports. First of all, who has time to complete these during the course of your busy day? Spend your time on your curriculum and lesson planning. Only send home behavior reports on an extreme basis, such as a student having a legal documented need, going through an unusual hard time at both school and at home, or being unable to get a student to comply despite all your efforts, etc. Make the behavior report easy (rubrics work best), and always include a behavior to rate that you know the student will be successful at displaying. Parents must be on board, too, otherwise it’s a lost cause.

8. Plan how you wish to monitor the level of talking, or lack thereof, in your classroom. Implement a nonverbal sign for quieting down like holding up the “peace" sign. Have a “Noise Gauge” which lets students know what their voices should sound like throughout the day: whisper voice, speak up voice, no voice, 3 inch voice, etc. Also make a “Noise-O-Meter” to monitor noise level throughout the day. Is you classroom too noisy, could it be better, or is it just right?

NoiseGaugeNoiseOMeter

9. Move around often, and have your students move around often! If you have a distracted student or a group being chatty, move your body close to them—your body’s proximity, without even needing to speak, can do wonders. Also let students move around as often as possible. Use carpet samples to let them use the floor, have plenty of side tables around the perimeter of your room, and have a large carpet for whole class meetings, etc. Do a stretch between long lessons, something like Simon Says, the Chicken Dance, the Macarena, he Hokey Pokey, etc. I recently purchased those gymnastic twirling ribbons to have my students wave them around to classical music. They love them.

10. Establish a classroom community. Celebrate classroom spirit. Always focus on the positive. Arrange the desks in small groups. Make EVERY child have a classroom job that rotates each week. Explicitly teach character education, explicitly role model what it means to be a good friend, etc. Remind children that when they misbehave, it brings down the whole community. Use peer pressure to your advantage! Always remember to point out positives and devote your attention to them. Statements such as “I like how Joe is being a good friend by picking up the paper that Cara dropped on the floor,” and “I’m so proud to see Shane not talking when Winston is trying to get his attention during our math lesson,” are more effective at managing a classroom than “Stop talking right now,” or “Stop dropping your pencil.”

With these helpful tips you are ready to a successful tone for a great school year. Good luck!

- Richard Giso

~~~

describe the imageI'm a proud teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. I began my teaching career as a fourth grade teacher at the Bates Elementary School in Salem, Massachusetts. Since then, I have taught fourth grade for eight years. From there, I moved to a job as a reading coach under the Reading First grant. Having missed my true passion—having a classroom of my own—I returned to teaching as a first grade teacher for the next five years.

Now I've moved to the Carlton Innovation School, also in Salem, Massachusetts, where I am ready to begin my first year as a member of a team of four teachers that teach grades one and two. In addition, I teach undergraduate and graduate students at Salem State University. My courses involve literacy, children's literature, and elementary education. My educational interests include early literacy, effective reading interventions, and positive classroom climates. Click the image to check out my blog!

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Do you know a K–8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our teacher spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or narrative texts.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

- Tara Rodriquez

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Topics: Teacher Spotlight, Classroom Libraries, Richard Giso

Spotlight! Taking a Look at Classroom Libraries with Lyssa Sahadevan

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on Aug 23, 2013 9:00:00 AM

Lyssa SahadevanWelcome once again to our Teacher Spotlight, giving recognition (and free books!) to deserving teachers who have great ideas to share. Today's featured teacher is Lyssa Sahadevan of Marietta, GA. She writes a blog called My Mommy Reads in which she writes about motherhood and teaching-related topics, such as classroom management. Sometimes, she even has giveaways! Lyssa is here to share some ideas about different ways classroom libraries can be organized.

If you're interested in classroom libraries, we offer six sets that are divided by reading level. You can find out more about them by clicking here!

Classroom Libraries

No matter how many books you have or what grade level you teach, organizing your books should be a priority! It saves you instructional time and makes life easier for you AND your students!

So what is the best way to organize books? Levels? Genres? Author? Fiction/Informational? My answer is a good mix of everything. But I think the correct answer is whatever works for you and your students!

You might choose to sort your books at the beginning of the year with your students or you may sort them ahead of time. I do a little of both, and then everyone helps sort the books into their correct baskets. When we receive books throughout the year, we let partners decide where the book should be placed. Involving students (readers) in the classroom library decision-making empowers them and builds their sense of ownership.

However you decide to sort, and I know it is a big decision, start today. If you want to level your books, ask for parent volunteers or work with a colleague. Building a classroom library that works will take time, but is absolutely worth it!

Here are a few examples of up and running classroom libraries in grades K–2:

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1st grade: Leveled books are available for students for at home reading.

 

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1st grade: Books are sorted by theme. This tub features fiction and informational books about weather.

 

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1st grade: Tubs sorted by topic. Informational baskets come in handy during research!

 

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1st grade: Books are sorted by author and/or character. Character studies and author studies are a snap when your tubs are ready!

 

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1st grade: Leveled readers for guided reading.

 

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1st grade: Seasonal tubs for read alouds!

 

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2nd grade: Chapter books are sorted by series.

 

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2nd grade: Informational tubs with abbreviations that are also written inside each book for easy return.

 

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2nd grade: Books sorted by topic (animals/fiction and tv shows/comics) may also be leveled by topic within their basket.

 

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Kindergarten: Leveled readers for small-group instruction.

 

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Kindergarten: Books sorted by genre, placed at student level for easy access.

- Lyssa Sahadevan

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Lyssa Sahadevan Blog ScreenshotLyssa Sahadevan is a first grade teacher in Marietta, GA. She loves reader's and writer's workshop, is a former Teacher of the Year, and shares ideas at www.mymommyreads.com.

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Do you know a K-8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our teacher spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or narrative texts.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

- Tara Rodriquez

Read More

Topics: Teacher Spotlight, Classroom Libraries, Lyssa Sahadevan

Hameray Herald: July 2013 Issue

Posted by Jacqueline Jones on Jul 26, 2013 8:00:00 AM

Joy Cowley Interview Part 1 V2


We recently had the pleasure to sit down for a chat with master storyteller Joy Cowley! The Mrs. Wishy-Washy author recounted how her journey as a children's author began, and she answered some fan questions too. Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be publishing the various parts of our interview with Joy, starting today with why she began writing. Watch below!



Hameray Flipbooks Hameray Series Snapshots

Easily Sample Our Various Series Using Flipbooks

Now Available. You can flip through a digital sample book from our series. A great way to see what the buzz is all about!

Learn More

Learn More. Download Our One-Page Series Sheets

Download Them! Want a handy reference that describes the features of each of our literacy series? These one-pager are perfect! 

Learn More

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Teacher Spotlight: Keep Your Submissions Coming

Our Teaching Community Shines! Since introducing the "Teacher Spotlight" feature on our blog several months ago, we've received many submissions from innovative educators all over the country (& world too) who want to share their classroom activities. Just recently, we've brought you some terrific literacy ideas from Greg Smedley,Brian HopkinsMisty Poland, and Paula Dugger. We've got other wonderful educators to introduce to you in the coming weeks & months so stay tunedl  

Of course, if you know anyone who would be interested to be a part of our Teacher Spotlight blog series, have them contact us here.

CCSS: Connecting Literature & Informational Texts

Learn what one teacher is doing to meet the Common Core State Standards.  Misty Poland shares her ideas for bridging different text genres using the Story World Real World series

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- Jacqueline Jones

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Topics: Teacher Spotlight, Mrs. Wishy-Washy, Joy Cowley, Common Core, Hameray Herald

Spotlight! Connect Literature to Informational Text with Misty Poland!

Posted by Misty Poland on Jul 24, 2013 8:00:00 AM

teacher spotlight

Welcome once again to our Teacher Spotlight, giving recognition (and free books!) to deserving teachers who have great ideas to share. Today's featured teacher is Misty Poland of Arizona. You may remember Misty from our post with highlights from the Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway back in May.

Misty PolandMisty writes a blog called Think, Wonder, & Teach, which is about teaching and all the neat peripheral things related to it. Recently, she has covered topics such as her favorite school supplies, strategies for teaching subtraction, and her recent attendance at NASA's PSTI program.

When offered the chance to stand in our Teacher Spotlight, Misty wanted to share a graphic-rich activity she devised to link narrative text to informational text using the Story World–Real World series we came out with not too long ago. These books were written and designed specifically for the purpose of putting stories in the context of things that exist in the real world, but you could also expand the idea to use any story and any informational texts that relate to elements in the story. Here's Misty's lesson plan in her own words!

Connecting Literature to Informational Text

As schools move into fully implementing the Common Core, teachers are scrambling to connect literature to informational text. Now, we can do it but it seems to be missing something. The Story World–Real World books come to the rescue!

The first book in this series is a traditional tale. Today, I am working with my own third-grader who is reading a favorite story: the Three Little Pigs. As I teach third grade, it is so helpful to have my own personal guinea pig at home.


read Story World

After reading the narrative text, he read one of the three Real World books. In this set, he had the choice of Where Would You Like to Live?, Our New House, All About Pigs. He chose All About Pigs because his puppy is named Miss Piggy.

read Real World

My plan for my classroom is to break up my students into three groups. Each group will read a different book and complete a bubble map to compare and contrast the real world with the story world book.

Venn Diagram

Then we will come back together to discuss what we read and our bubble maps.  I use a document camera to project each group's bubble map onto the smart board. From here, we can continue to add in the knowledge from other groups as we continue to explore both literature and informational text.

Whenever I have a chance, I love to create a graphic in the classroom. It brings math into every topic and, at the beginning of the school year, it helps us get to know one another better. I use chart paper to create my graphics. Each student will receive a Post-It to write his/her name on; then the student will have a chance to help build the chart by adding their information to it.

Categorization graphic

This makes a great morning activity! Each day, you could have a different graphic available for them to work with. With this series, you could also easily do a graphic on where were you born or create a map of all the places the students have lived or visited! Both would be great extensions from the books.

Our New House reminds me of the classic story This is the House that Jack Built. Do you remember that one? The basic structure is adding steps to a process using repetitive rhythm, each step echoing the last. You could ask your students to create their own story of this kind, perhaps about a new school. For example, who is the first person they met? What did they learn? What should they do or not do (rules and procedures) throughout the day?

Misty Poland blog screenshot- Misty Poland

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Misty Poland lives in Arizona with her husband, three sons, and their puppy. She has a bachelor’s degree in business and project management and a master’s degree in elementary education. She is currently teaching third grade, while moonlighting as a project manager for Honey Bunch Blog Designs. Check out her blog at www.thinkwonderteach.com.

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Do you know a K-8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our teacher spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or narrative texts.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

- Tara Rodriquez




Read More

Topics: Teacher Spotlight, Literature, Narrative Text, Informational Text, Misty Poland

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