Sunday, February 26, 2017

10 Tips for a Substitute Teacher

A substitute teacher needs hundreds of tips--I know, I've collected them all!  Here are my top ten tips:  

Substitute Teacher Guide - Renee Dawn
1)  Safety is your number one priority.  I'll repeat that: Safety is #1.  That means good behavior management, and orderly routines.

2)  Stay focused and present.  Neither be a deer frozen in the headlights, nor frantic.  Keep your cool, calm exterior—even if you’re a bit flustered or overwhelmed.  Take a deep breath and move forward.

3)  Be organized.  Ask yourself, “What absolutely must get done?”  Watch the clock; be on time for lunch, prep classes, and dismissal.  Leave plenty of time for transitions.  If you find you have extra time, you can do a quick “bell ringer” activity, singing, chanting or callbacks.

4)  Be prepared.  Have your materials ready; at the very least, a fun book to read.  Have a back-up plan, and enough high-interest lessons to last a day.  Do the regular teacher’s math and reading lessons first, when possible.  Save the fun stuff for later, as incentives for good behavior.  If a holiday is approaching, you can work it into the day with a book, art, writing or craft.

5)  Actually teach!  Give a mini-lesson and specific instructions for work.  Circulate and help the children complete their assignments.  Don’t just say, “Work on whatever you want,” because kids respond best to structure.

6)  Go with the flow and change plans as necessary.  Cut a lesson short or take a brain break to calm or energize the class.

7)  Be firm; give specific, clear instructions for every action.   And, be kind.  One of the best “rewards” is to say, “Thank you for helping.” 

8)  Ask for help.  Don’t do everything yourself.  Ask the kids where to find things, or how the routines go.  Ask an organized child, or ask the class.  Say, “Raise your hand if you know…”  And ask a nearby teacher if necessary.

9)  Don’t use up the teacher’s supplies, crafts, or pre-printed worksheets.  Don’t use specialty notebooks unless the teacher requests it.  You may use plain copy paper if there’s plenty of it, or bring your own.

10)  Respect the regular teacher’s room!  Leave it clean and tidy.  Don’t leave open food containers, torn posters, or running electrical equipment.

…And one for the road:

Subbing is like a language that you can learn to speak fluently.  You can master this--be prepared, focused, firm, and pleasant all at once.  

Remember to leave a “While you were out” note, including your contact info, for repeat business.
Whether this is your first year subbing, or you simply want a step-by-step guide to taking control of a classroom, I can help show you the way.

NOT JUST FOR SUBS--This makes a great refresher course for a regular teacher, or a perfect sub binder for the days you're absent.

I’m a New York City public school teacher with over twenty  years’ experience.  I’ve observed hundreds of subs and teachers in action, and was a sub myself for three years prior to teaching full time.  Now it’s my pleasure to pass along all I’ve learned to you.

The Ultimate Guide for the Substitute Teacher includes hundreds of tips, teacher scripts, lessons, and printables that you can use all year.
As always, I'm wishing you all the best, 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Number Chart Robots with Bling

Number Chart Robots with Bling...
...were just the thing I needed for my 100th Day of School celebration.

I knew kids would be portaging 100th Day Projects twice their size...
...with pieces falling off and needing re-gluing.  

So I set up a "Do Now" to give me time to organize their displays.

I showed them my easiest Number Chart Robot up on the SMARTboard.  I said they should color the same number-squares that are colored here:
Will you color number 1?  No!  Number 2?  No!  Number 3?  No!   Number 4?  No!   Number 5?  Yes!  That's all they needed to get started.

I said, you can color the head one color and the body, arms and legs another color.  Or, you can color each square differently.  You can even draw a design inside a square before you color it--like a heart or a star--with your pencil.

Who wants a fancier--and more difficult--robot?  I named a few kids, and said, "I'll bet you'd like this one!"  I handed them a printout of a complex robot to re-create.
Then I handed out blank number charts, and the kids got busy.  Some kids huddled together on the floor to try a trickier robot, and to help each other out.  A couple of kids messed up the first time, but they all made a robot--and were thrilled to pieces over it.

They were even more thrilled over the bling we added later in the day.

And they seemed pleased with the shabby-grunge vibe they got from sloppy coloring--born from excitement to start the activities of the 100th Day.    

I noticed that some kids will focus more on the number sense with their creative robot variations.  Others might concentrate on story-telling, and burn up a trail on the fancy lined paper included.  And there's always the show-stopper who will groom, adorn and accessorize like it's a red-carpet event.  That's differentiation, folks, and kids eat it up like candy.  

We'll do Number Chart Robots again sometime!

 Number Chart Robots r dawn

 Number Chart Robots R Dawn

 Number Chart Robots R Dawn

 Number Chart Robots R Dawn

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Life at Home Printables

Life at Home Printables were so useful to me, I'm giving them away, but only to you--my loyal homies:

Life at Home Printables

THEY'RE FREE THROUGH PRESIDENTS WEEK - and if you do download them, won't you kindly leave a feedback comment - Thank you!

We read Life at Home: Then and Now, as part of our ReadyGen Reading Program.  I needed high-interest, differentiated activity sheets, so voila!  

A home outline for kids to draw and label activities in a home, then and now--two pictures of each.

The advanced kids also wrote a sentence on the bottom: I prefer this or that, because... (and yes, one kid preferred using a washing board 'cause then he could sing while he washed--FUN!!)
You could also use this as a unit assessment, or for drawing family members: draw one or more person in each room, or draw family members doing different activities in each room.

I differentiated:

  • Group 1 used the house outline  
  • Group 2  drew a unique house, free-style, using the empty border sheet and inspired by the house outline  
  • Group 3 drew a smaller picture, and wrote extra on the lined paper provided 
One caveat: I always tell the other groups that they can take a house outline later, at centers time.  They all want one.

Hey, this also works for Presidents Day--you know, comparing life in colonial times and now.  Hmmm...would kids actually prefer life back then?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Valentine's Day Paper Bag Robots

Valentine's Day Paper Bag Robots sound like heaven to me...

Valentine's Day Craft Robot
  ...and to my kids!
  Valentine's Day Robot Craft
A simple card would've been easier for everyone--but not nearly as memorable.

This is an action figure.  Kids practiced talking with robotic voices, saying " you for-ever...Mom," while moving their robot heads with their hands.

Valentine's Day Robot Craft

It was pretty easy.  I pre-cut the rectangles to fit the head and the body, and one heart per child (six hearts per 9 X 12" paper).  Then I cut scrap rectangles that the kids could cut up for arms, legs, buttons, hats, antennae, etc.

I showed them how to put glue on the top of the bag, and place the head.  Then put glue on the bottom of the bag, and add the body.  Next, a heart.  And finally, the robot details.
Valentine's Day Robot Craft
Angry Bird eyes, yellow shark fin, and patched up heart, anybody?

In the last few moments of class I improvised a song:

I'm in love
I'm in love
I'm in love with a Love-Bot

One kid spontaneously added a high falsetto tag line, which we all took to like Motown Masters.

I'm in love (Can you feel?)
I'm in love (Can you feel?)
I'm in love with a Love-Bot

That's what Valentine's Day is all about, folks.
Would you like to wear your Valentine's Day Sight Word Craft Heart on your sleeve? 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Presidents Day Neon Money Banks

Lincoln and Washington never imagined this:
Presidents Day Neon Money Banks!
...that I can hang from the ceiling on strings!
...and watch them twirl and dance in the heating system's breeze!
So easy to make: I just taped the string through the money bank slit before gluing the last panel shut.

Big question: why do neon Presidents Day Money Banks make me--and my kids--so happy?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

TeachersPayTeachers Sale!

It's all on sale--the whole TeachersPayTeachers store!

Teacher resources at 28% off--there's a lotta love here!

Please stop by and look around...

 Number Chart Robots

 Number Chart Robots

I'll see you there!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

$10 Gift Card for Teachers Pay Teachers

Please join me in a $10 Gift Card Giveaway!

Simply comment on the Blog Post below -- 7 Keys to a Great Lesson -- or choose another entry point, for more chances to win $10 of great resources for teachers.

It's a Rafflecopter giveaway!
Thanks for joining the fun! 

Contest begins 12 AM Monday and ends 12 AM Tuesday. 

Even sweeter:

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a SALE--up to 28% off everything--Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb 7th - 8th.

ENJOY, and see you there!!

7 Keys to a Great Lesson

Teacher Great Observation Lesson - Renee Dawn - Teacher Ink

     A lesson grows organically out of your kids’ needs and abilities. But with all the new buzzwords and protocols it can sometimes seem like an impossible maze. 
Here are 7 timeless keys to a great lesson. I found that they help me organize my teaching and I hope they help you, too.

1)                  Your learning target
     Your learning target is the starting point. It’s what you want your kids to master, and it should be front and center at all times. Make it SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. Keep your lesson short and lively, and then move into individual or small group work. Finally, through kid-watching, checklists, tasks, or exit activities, be sure that you’ve met your objectives.

2)                  Remember: the teacher is not the star
     Remember: the teacher is not the star, the children are. Students should be proactive and lead high-level discussions without always being prompted by the teacher. They should know how to use resources in the room—books, dictionaries, internet, and anchor charts—and be free to access them. Even 5-year-olds can reflect on their own mastery of the learning target via rubrics, sharing with peers, and exit activities.

3)                  Ask a mix
     Ask a mix of low and high level questions. Involve all the children by having them turn and talk—often and brieflyto the person next to them. English Language Learners can join a group of two, to learn from their answers. Want super-engagement? Try a whole-class conversation where kids call on each other. Just guide them to "go deeper" with divergent thinking. You can end a discussion by posing a thought-provoking question. Groups of six kids can turn and talk about it, and then share their ideas with the class.

4)                  Check for understanding
     Check for understanding with a quick, informal assessment—and do it frequently. For instance, have the students show “Thumbs up if you understand,” or “Explain the learning target to your partner.” Then adjust your lesson or reteach to small groups as necessary. 

5)                  Differentiate for small groups
Differentiate for small groups of kids based on needs, abilities, interests and learning styles. That includes visual, audio, kinesthetic, tactile, group size, space and lighting preferences. When you really know each child you can individualize the content, process, or final product of a lesson. 
    Please don't think of this as more work for you. It's actually a life-saver to get everyone on board. You might have to scaffold, or build little steps to help some kids succeed, while others take creative leaps. All the kids will master the same learning target, but they may take different roads to get there.  

6)                  Classroom management
     Classroom management procedures should be in place, with effortless movement; for instance, from meeting area to tables, or to small groups and back. Kids should know how to turn and talk to their buddy, and how to join a nearby group if their buddy is absent. You'll explain exactly how these routines look—almost like a stage show—then demo with a small group, and practice till they're smooth. Organize your teaching resources so they're easy to get to. Ditto for student books, sharp pencils, and other supplies.

7)                  Behavior management
     Behavior management is a top priority. Ideally, you won't have to think about behavior. But in practice, kids might lose focus or get off-task. Be prepared to bring them back as gracefully as possible—by saying a child’s name in a pleasant voice, or by doing a quick brain break. For example, try clapping patterns that the kids repeat, doing a brief chant or song related to the lesson topic, or a slow stretch with deep breathing. Above all, keep your classroom tone positive with a deep current of respect and rapport. Rapport will help you save the day, even if things do go wrong.

When you teach, it all comes together seamlessly. That's when the magic happens. 
That's when you blend your personality into the mix, and show how much you love life and learning. Because without these, you might have the keys to a great lesson, but the doors they open won't have the same appeal.

I hope you enjoyed thinking about these 7 keys to a great lesson! If you want a thorough and detailed look at The Perfect Lesson, this guide will take you step by step.

The Perfect Lesson includes checklists, charts, cheat-sheets, tips, class posters, lesson plans and lesson plan templates for your expert Danielson teacher evaluation in K – 5. 

As always, I'm wishing you all the best!

Renee Dawn has been a New York City public school teacher for over 20 years, and enjoys designing resources that will help teachers feel calm and confident in the classroom. She has a creative approach to teaching the whole child with the common core, music, dance, meditation, conversation and a big dollop of laughs. Please visit her TpT Store, Facebook, Pinterest, and Teacher Ink blog for creative teaching ideas.