December 30, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Years to all of you from all of us at Fun To Teach!

Happy Teaching!

December 28, 2015

Quote for today!

Hello everyone!
The definition of quote is to repeat someone else's statement, phrases or thoughts.
Here is today's!

Happy Teaching,

December 26, 2015

Quote of the day!

Hello everyone!
The definition of quote is to repeat someone else's statement, phrases or thoughts.
Here is today's!

Happy Teaching!

December 16, 2015

ESL Kids Stuff

Hello everyone!
I just visited ESL Kids Stuff and thought I would give them a shout out! 

They have a wide variety of lesson plans, worksheets, flashcards, songs and classroom readers.  The lesson plans I have looked at were good.  Although, you have to buy a membership ($29.00 per year) to access the products they offer, I did find this product for free

ESL Kids Stuff also has a collection of articles devoted to ELD/ESL.    Click here for ESL Kids / Young Learners Research Articles - Online

Here is what ESL Kids Stuff says about themselves:
We are 13 years old! ESL KidStuff 2002 - 2015
We are a group of English teachers who, like you, teach kids. We know teaching little ones up to teens is not an easy task, and just as difficult is getting good, quality materials to use in your lessons ... and finding them quickly!
Our aim, therefore, is to provide great ESL materials, specially made for teaching English to kids, which are quick and easy to find and print.
ESL KidStuff has a huge library of lesson plans, flashcards, worksheets, craft sheets, songs, and classroom readers. We will keep adding to this range as well as offering different materials.
We’d also like to help out in other areas, too - sharing teaching tips, hints and advice and making this site a useful place for you to visit time and time again. We already have quite a lot of these sections at ESL KidStuff - games, holidays activities, teaching tips, etc., and we are working on adding more!

Grab a cup of tea and take a look at ESL Kids Stuff.  I would love to here what you think!

Happy Teaching!

December 15, 2015

Drawing Conclusions and Making Inferences

Hello everyone,
I wanted to share this great poster with you all.  Drawing conclusions and making inferences are essential skills for  students to develop.  Each of these skills require students to fill in the blanks left by an author. 
Students must learn to put the pieces together to understand the whole message or story the author is trying to convey.
Essential pieces to putting the puzzle together include:
  • Thinking about personal experiences
  • Using clues from the text
  • Thinking about what is known about the character
  • using clues from illustrations.
 This chart helps students visually with each piece of the puzzle! us know what your favorite ways of teaching students how to draw conclusions and make inferences.

 Click here if you would like to check out this graphic organizer.  It is a great help to students when they need to extra support in writing!

Happy Teaching!

December 9, 2015

Brain Breaks Video!

Hello everyone,
This short video shows a classroom teacher giving a brain break to her students.  These breaks let kids move as they transition to a new subject or activity!  Great idea!

What type of transition moves to you use with your students?

Happy Teaching!

December 3, 2015

Semantic Gradients

Hello everyone,
Semantic gradients are super cool and if you haven't tried them yet read on...the following is an article I wrote for REALLY GOOD STUFF BLOG!

Happy Teaching! 

Hello everyone,
As elementary teachers we are always looking for and finding strategies to use with our students that broaden and deepen their understanding when reading.  We know that when students, especially second language learners, can distinguish between the shades of meanings of related words, then they can be more precise and imaginative in their writing. Shades of meaning are the small differences among words that are related to a specific topic or idea.  The Common Core Language Standard L.5 requires students to distinguish shades of meaning among words beginning in Kindergarten and continuing through elementary grades.

If you don’t know about semantic gradients, let me introduce you!  Semantic gradients are powerful tools to teach elementary students the differences between related words and increase their vocabulary.  This method of improving reading comprehension works with both English Language Learners and native English speakers and offers classroom teachers a vehicle to reach the needs of all of students. This type of gradient helps students distinguish between the subtle nuances of meaning of related words and broadens their understanding of connected words.  Furthermore, gradients show all students how to use vocabulary precisely when expressing themselves in speaking and writing.
What is a Semantic Gradient?

If you would like a free copy of the black line of the gradient I use in my classroom, click here!
Semantic gradients are lists of related words that have similar meanings placed on a continuum moving from one word to its opposite.  It is a continuum that order related words by degree. 
These gradients use anchor words (words and their opposites) at each end of the gradient.   The words used in between gradually shift in meaning.
For example, freezing and sweltering would be the anchor words for a semantic gradient of temperature words that included the following:  freezing, cold, cool, warm, hot, roasting, and sweltering.

How do you use a Semantic Gradient?
·      Identify your 2 anchor words by choosing a word and finding its opposite. 
·      Find synonyms for each of those words and order them to create your word list. 
·      Students then order the words to create a gradient or continuum.
Click here to download a copy of this gradient!

Where can I get more information about Semantic Gradients?

Reading rockets has an excellent, clear and informative video on using semantic gradients in an elementary classroom.

This is a quick and effective resource on semantic gradients:

Let me know if you use semantic gradients with your students!
Happy Teaching,

November 24, 2015

Together We Are Better

Hello everyone!

TESOL has an interesting article on co-teaching that I wanted to share.

The article Together We Are Better 


  • a definition of co-teaching
  • what makes collaboration/co-teaching successful
  • models of co-teaching/collaboration
  • barriers and pitfalls
 Click on over to Together We Are Better  to view the full article.

Happy reading,

Happy Teaching!

November 11, 2015

Get Back to me Video!

This short video is great to share with your classroom teachers on wait time!
So cute!

Get back to me with your thoughts!  :)

Happy Teaching!

November 5, 2015

“If only I had more time in a school day...”

Hello folks,
This is an article I wrote for Really Good Stuff Blog a few years ago.  Still holds true so I am reposting it here!
Happy Teaching!

 “If only I had more time in a school day...” 

Have you ever caught yourself uttering this phrase?  You can easily add those instructional minutes to your day by explicitly planning for your transition times.  Carefully considered transition times offer the key to maintaining an optimal learning environment, minimizes disruptions and behavior problems while maximizing instructional time.  By providing the structure of predictable routines, procedures and behavioral expectations, teachers offer their students, including second language learners and those who struggle with poor attention and impulsivity, an avenue to success during transition times.

Plan for the transition periods in advance.  Take a few minutes and think about the transition times that occur in your classroom. 

Common transition times include:
·      entering the classroom first thing in the morning
·      changing from one subject to another
·      leaving or coming into the room after assemblies
·      recesses or lunch, clean up time at the end of the day

The first step in planning for transition times is selecting a signal that you will use for each transition time.  Be consistent and use the same signal for all transitions.  Make sure it is a visual and auditory signal.  Provide enough “wait time” for students to respond.

Choose a method to instill a “sense of urgency” to the transition.  Students respond well to the feeling that their work and time is important.  By giving the situation “a sense of urgency” students respond quickly.  Set a timer, count, or sing a song to give students that “sense of urgency.  Often simply saying, “Class we have 40 seconds to enter the room quietly and slowly, return to our desks/tables safely and begin reading.  Ready go.” is sufficient to instill that sense of urgency.

Always follow the same procedure.  During transition times where students leave the room, teach them to put their materials away, stand up, push in their chairs, move slowly and safely to the door.  During transition times to the next activity include an activity that will help children adjust to the change.  Consider adding a quick opportunity to stretch, a song that focuses on the new activity or subject, skip counting or reciting a poem.  This gives students a break to readjust and provides slower students a bit more time to complete the transition.  Be deliberate in ending this very short brain break. Go right to work, don’t waste time here.  This creates a “sense of urgency” and shows your students that you value their time and work.

Be consistent.  Smooth transitions occur when students know what to do and how to do it.  Adhere to your schedule.  Have work ready for students.  As students enter each morning have a plan for exactly what they will do as they enter.  Look at your morning and plan for success.  Teach students to enter the room and
·      Hang up backpacks, jackets and coats
·      Turn in homework
·      Sign up for hot or cold lunch
·      Find their seats
·      Begin reading, handwriting or whichever morning activity you choose

Consider playing music or setting a timer the students can hear for the first minute students are entering the room.  Be very consistent and choose the same amount of time the music ends or the timer goes off in order to create that “sense of urgency”.  Transition times will be efficient and productive parts or your educational day when you value your students’ time and work.

Finally, good teaching of any routine and procedure is the key to success.  Remember to explain the expected behavior, explicitly model the routine and procedure, practice, practice, practice and finally provide feedback.  Congratulations, you are on your way to smooth, efficient, and safe transition times.

We created a helpful worksheet you can download for free.  Click here to download,  My Plan for Smooth & Efficient Transitions!

What strategies and activities do you use during transition times?  Please share your ideas with us!

Happy Teaching!
Lori Wolfe
Fun To Teach