Wrestle the STAAR Like a PRO- Class Engagment Game- Grade 4 Math

This is guaranteed to be fun!  It is a great review for the dreaded MATH STAAR and the everyday norm.  The class is divided into teams and will wrestle to solve the answer.  Not really physically wrestle...wrestle their math skills. 

 How to Play: Divide your class into four equal groups.  The students stand together and solve the problem.  One person from the group is the speaker.  Once the group solves the problem, the speaker displays the answer.  If correct, that team gets one point.  If incorrect, no points are earned.

 Who Plays Against Each Other:
 Below are the team drawing cards.  The teacher draws two cards and the teams begin to solve the math problems.  Prior to playing...copy the TEAM drawing cards at least 5 times and cut them out.  Mix them into a pile and place upside down.  The teacher picks up two cards and the two teams chosen will "wrestle."  For example, Team Spartan and Team Crusaders will go head-to-head.
 There are 30 questions to solve.  The team with the most points wins!  This packet includes the new math TEKS and some financial literacy questions too.
Other options:  Instead of playing as a whole group, play in small groups of 4.  This would be a great tutoring activity too.


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St. Patrick's Day Close Reading-Rainbow Comprehension Freebie

We are normally out of school for Spring Break on St. Patrick's Day.  This year Spring Break is a week early.  I created a mini-size St. Patrick's Day Close Read for a fan freebie.  This gives you some practice using this product without the commitment of purchasing a larger one.  If you love it, come back and get all the other Rainbow Comprehension Sets.

Interested in learning more about Rainbow Comprehension and Close Reading...click here to a previous post.  


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Hollywood STAAR Theme Parent Night

With it being both OSCAR and STAAR Testing season, I created a parent STAAR Night resource.  Do you have a night for parents to come to the school and learn more about STAAR?  If so, I have some great resources for you. 

Posters: OSCARS
Outstanding Students Can Achieve Results

 Bulletin Board- NOW SHOWING Oscar Worthy Performance
Decorate the halls and classroom for Open House or Parent Night
 Have students wear VIP passes.  Another idea...students earn a VIP pass for coming and bringing a parent.  They can cash the pass in for an easy participation grade in the gradebook or homework pass!
 Editable Parent Invitations are included.  Just type in your info in the text boxes.
 If you're having a presentation for parents, just add your own text to the blank powerpoint slides. 
Hope you love the Hollywood Theme and have a successful parent night.!

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We are Testing Door Sign-FREE

It's a Sunday freebie kind of day!  It is a simple freebie but very useful during the testing days of school.


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Second Grade Compare and Constrast

Have you heard of GoNoodle? It is a website with tons of brain breaks for your classroom.  The students love them.  Just a short brain break really does your students a world of good.  It gets the wiggles out in a fun and interesting way.  I observed in a second grade reading class Thursday morning.  The students started the lesson with a few yoga stretches and then a tight rope exercise.  Sorry about the blurry pictures...I had trouble keeping balance myself.  

This brain activity had students bend down and scoop up "happiness" and drop it on their heads.  I loved it and so did the students.

After a few quick minutes of brain breaks, it was off to a compare and contrast of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.  Take a look...

The teacher, Andrea Smith, used Primary Junction's printables.  She read the passages to the class and asked questions along the way.  Building comprehension is of high importance in any grade level.  The students were given orange fact cards and used highlighters to locate the facts.  For example, did George Washington like math or did Abraham Lincoln like math or did they both like math.  This activity helps students locate evidence in the text.

 Both Presidents were born in February.  The student located the evidence in both Washington and Lincoln. 
 The students then placed their cards on the Venn diagram.

I hope you enjoyed a look in a second grade class!


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Math Fluency

Subtraction can be fun!  I observed math tutoring in two second classrooms today.  Students had a scoot game sheet in hand.  Desks were numbered and a subtraction card was placed on each desk. Music filled the room.  The joy of practicing math facts was priceless.  Students scooted around the room until they answered each math fact.  

An incentive for being the first five to finish...a trip to the treasure box.  Who doesn't love the treasure box!
Thanks Mrs. Rester and Mrs. Ramirez- Loved the class observation. 

Scoot is a great way to keep students engaged in the lesson and have fun learning or practicing previously taught skills.  If you are looking for more ways to keep students engaged in the classroom, take a look at my Interactive Student Engagement Activities resource.  There are 30 activities to keep students engaged as well as increase student participation.

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Finish Strong

The end of the school year will be here before we know it.  This time of year is always a bit more stressful than the beginning of the school year.  The brand Nike has a motto that says, "Walk to the stadium. Sprint to the Finish."  I can't help but think about how we walked in the doors in August and now as we can see the finish line.  How will we finish the school year?  Will you finish strong?  Do you have the endurance and perseverance to finish the year with the same motivation and drive as you did in August?

Stay committed and focused as you move closer to the end of the school year.  If you expect your teachers to work hard and produce high scores, you're going to need to lead by example.  There is no greater motivation than seeing the boss down in the trenches working alongside everyone else.  Hard work is done on every level.

How will you choose to finish this school year?  You might have stumbled on unexpected obstacles or been battered with a difficult class or group of students or faced difficult challenges with parents or staff members.  Remember, it's not our circumstances that define us.  Instead it's how we respond to them.  Turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones.  The choice is yours...Finish Strong!

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Test Prep with the Best Link Up

Test Prep Link Up All Week! Testing can be a stressful time for teachers and students.  We want students to learn the material in a fun way...instead of worksheets and practice pages.  I am starting a link up for Test Prep.  I'm in Texas so all of my products are STAAR.  However, if you are in the common core states, you can link up as well.  If you teach K-2 grades, you can link up too and share how you assess students or what you do to prepare students for the testing grades. Let the fun begin by sharing your best test prep that helps keep students engaged in the learning and eager to learn the material!

Grab the image below and add your own products to it!


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Valentine Cards for Teachers- Freebie

 Have you ever tried EOS Lip Balm?  I have a creative way to use them for Valentine gifts for teachers and friends.  The instructions are included in the packet.  Copy on cardstock and cut out the middle of the circle with some scissors.  Unscrew the lip balm and place between the two halves.  Screw the two halves together and just like that...You have a great gift.

Download Valentine Cards for Teachers


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Grade 4 Writing STAAR Prep

 The Writing STAAR will be here before you know it.  We just finished our last benchmark for writing.  The first set of pictures you see is from a class observation I did a few weeks ago.  The students use colored-pencils for revision and editing.  In February, this is routine to all the students.  They complete the tasks with ease.
Green colored pencils are used to circle the first letter of each sentence.  A red colored-pencil circles the punctuation at the end of each sentence.  A yellow colored-pencil is used to indicate each sentence in the paragraph that is on topic.  

If you are from Texas, you all know we are taking some tests online this year.  We are preparing for that by training on laptops.  I trained the teachers last week on how to use the online system for benchmarking so students are familiar with it on the actual STAAR day.

Data day is this week and we will look over our benchmark data and score the compositions using a rubric.  The rubric is kid-friendly and can be used to score narrative or expository type compositions.

If you need other STAAR materials, I have some others located on Teachers Pay Teachers.  

What do you do to prepare for the STAAR test?


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Dig Deeper into Complex Text with Close Reading

How can we help students get to the most out of reading and comprehend complex texts?  Have you heard of Close Reading?  Close reading is an effective approach that can be added to your classroom's reading instruction.  Close reading helps students investigate text with multiple readings over multiple lessons.  For example, students read and re-read the text.  As they read it multiple times, they mark it up.  Students underline ideas, locate and prove answers to questions, circle words or phrases and identify important information

Close reading can and should begin in early grades.  My close reading passages are designed for the young learners and have "right there" type questions.  These questions do not require students to infer.  When working with the youngest learners, you need to begin with text that is not as complex and then build up to more challenging text.  If we begin this process with our younger students, they will be able to wrestle more challenging text as they move into state accountable grade levels. 

My close read passages are all titled Rainbow Comprehension.  This allows students to use different color markers, crayons or colored-pencils to locate the evidence in the text. You can download The Big Rainbow Comprehension Bundle by clicking here.

Close reading is all about deeply understanding a text.  It is all about developing a habit of returning to text to examine it carefully.  We call this text evidence.  Teach the students to locate the evidence in the text to answer comprehension questions. 


One of my newest Close Reading resource is Winter Comprehension Passages. These passages are designed specifically for Kindergarten and First Grade.  The set has easy to read passages with three comprehension questions. 

Have you used close reading in your class? 


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