Sunday, September 18, 2016

Author Project Books and Picture Books!

This is a great FREE project to motivate your students to explore new genre and to read more than one book by an author. They start by researching an author and and writing five facts they learned about the author's life.

Have them choose two books by the author and summarize them briefly, and lastly they should rate the books. When they're finished they can discuss their authors and novels in small groups. Laminate the cards and arrange them in a index card box in ABC order so they're available for students to view.
Click on the cover for more information.

photo of Author project free pdf picture books, student worksheet, research an author, genre, facts, author's life

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Trifold Book Report

I'm always thinking of new ideas for book reports, so the kids can have fun yet demonstrate to me that they understand strategies and skills. I also love giving kids choices. 

I remember doing book reports when I was in elementary school and it was always the same. No creativity. Nothing fun. We never had choices of what we could do. Write a book report for the book you're reading. That was it! BLAH!

When I became a teacher, I told everyone that I would NEVER teach like some of the teachers I had. I'm from a very musical and artistic family so I was always creating something new and different. Playing the piano, writing miniature symphonies when I was ten, poetry, pen and ink drawings, designing terrariums for the salamanders I caught, knitting... just to name a few. 

Not all of my teachers were like that, though. I had one very special high school English teacher who rocked my world! He taught us grammar by using lyrics to songs. He got us out of our seats and we could have rocked and rolled 'til the sun went down! When I run into him, I always tell him that he inspired me to become a teacher. He beams! So do I!!

My trifold book report can be done using any fiction book. There are three trifold pages and a "bonus" page with all kinds of activities that the kids can choose from in order to earn bonus points.  Have a share day so that all of your students can read their friends' reports, then put them on display! It's also a great way to expose kids to new titles that they might want to read!

photo of trifold book report, reading, Teacher Park

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Common Core Worksheets

It seems the Common Core Standards have become the hot topic of teachers' conversations around the country. The last time I checked, 47 states had adopted the Core. I wasn't concerned about what the Core covered, because our state standards, to this point in time, have been one of the highest ranked in the country. That being said, I wasn't surprised that our standards outweigh the requirements of the Core. 

Because the Core standards were developed for students from different backgrounds,environments and 
socio-economic backgrounds, I had a feeling they'd be "watered down" from the state standards we already had in place. With test scores down across the country, I was expecting a more rigorous set of standards. 

Why not "raise the bar" and increase our expectations? Are we teaching our students the same standards that were in place when I was in school? No. My teachers kept the "bar" high and expectations were rigorous. I memorized multiplication facts in third grade. Rote memorization these days is frowned upon. Why? Because no one is allowed to fail? 

Don't make kids memorize poems? Why not? I memorized many poems as a kid and I can still recite them today. Don't make kids learn cursive writing? I learned to write in cursive in third grade. My hand didn't fall off, although some days I thought it would when I was first learning how to hold the pencil correctly and move it smoothly across the paper. Today, cursive writing is an endangered art.  

Our forefathers scribed the Declaration of Independence and Constitution in beautiful longhand. Painstakingly, they formed the letters with flourishes, dipping their feathery pen nibs in ink after one or two words. Will the words of our future children be as beautiful? I think not. With the technological advancements, there may no longer be handwritten signatures. Will there be a computer chip implanted in the fingertip, so all one must do is touch the paper to sign an important document? 

I'm slightly off the topic of Common Core but I think we should take a serious look at what we teach and how we teach it. I'll keep my expectations high and the bar raised. Yes, I do require cursive on certain assignments. I do make modifications for those students who aren't physically able to write. I even still give cursive lessons if asked how to form a letter. 

Like my father used to say... "If it isn't broken, why fix it?"

Back to the Common Core... 

I decided teachers need Common Core worksheets they can use with any story or book. To make sets of these worksheets would take more time than teachers have on hand, so I've developed some that will make teachers' lives easier. I'll continue to create more throughout the year. 

 These are three available in my TeachersPayTeachers store. Take a peek. 


photo of Common Core Standards Reading Themes PDF Teacher Park

photo of Common Core Reading Standards Main Idea PDF Teacher Park

photo of Common Core Task Cards Foundational Skills PDF Teacher Park

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Homophones Are Fun!

Which which is which? I remember my fourth grade teacher writing that question on the board and explaining what homophones are and why it's important to always write the correct spelling of them.

To this day, I remember the important lessons I was taught and still "hear" and "see" my teachers as they stressed important concepts and strategies. 

I had little tricks I used to remember some of them. The word "witch" contains the word "wit" so I thought of a nice witch who had a good sense of humor.  Little tricks like that can make difference. 

Another example are the homophones "bear" and "bare".  The word "bear" has "EAR" in it. Bears have ears! That one is easy. 

As I teach homophones we brainstorm for little tricks like that and I'm always amazed the kinds of clues my students think of to remember the correct spellings of homophones. 

Download my free homophone activities and have fun!

photo of Homophones are Fun, PDF, free, homophones, Ruth S.

Close Reading Informational Text Polar Bears


I've never known anyone who doesn't love polar bears! Ask your students to state facts about polar bears and they'll most likely tell you they're cute, white and live at the North Pole. 

Wonderful. But definitely not enough information. They may think polar bears are cute because they have polar bear stuffed animals that aren't fierce predators and that have white "fur" unlike real polar bear fur that's translucent. 

Trust me when I tell you I had a friend's young son tell me that Eskimos have polar bears as PETS!!!!  I kid you not!

When our social studies curriculum included Native American cultures, I chose the Inuit (Eskimos) and each year, we did in depth research projects about them, as well as study animals indigenous to the Arctic region.

At that time, I developed several nonfiction packets that gave my students activities that  were both tied to English language arts, social studies and sometimes science.  I love to teach integrated units if possible. 

The information in this packet, describes polar bears lives, how they survive in the frigid temperatures and helps students make important assumptions about the fate of polar bears. 

The article is set up with columns on the right hand sides so you students can take notes about vocabulary words, concepts they may not understand or to write opinions about the article.

I love designing pages and used scenic photos of the Arctic with less opacity, so they wouldn't interfere with the text, then laid photos of the bears over the scenery. The pages print out beautifully and students love the realistic photos. 

This is my most recent informational text resource. Stay tuned for more! :)


photo of Polar Bears Close Reading Informational Text, PDF, ELA, student worksheets, Ruth S. Teachers Pay Teachers

You may also like another informational text article about the CHEETAH
Click on this link...

Examples of two of the pages

Teachers Comments :

~ Great work- kids very interested in topics! Thanks!
~Thank you for this wonderful product.
~ Love this!
~Thank you! Such good practice:)
~ Awesome!
~ Love this! Thank you!
~Great Common Core questions!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

NonFiction Bingo

Kids will learn nonfiction elements as they have fun playing Bingo! Run a weekly Bingo contest! Winners put their Bingo coupons in the Bingo Jar and win prizes! Laminate and use year to year!

Included in the packet are:
Call out card
4 pages of creative design markers
6 different bingo cards
Bingo winner coupons
Bingo labels for the Bingo Jar

Click on the cover for more!

photo of nonfiction, bingo, games, Language Arts, Ruth S.

nonfiction, games, Language Arts, Ruth S.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Prefixes UN and RE

Download these free prefix student worksheets to teach or review the prefixes UN and RE. Answers and teaching ideas are included!  Worksheets are in black and white. Watch for an update on this packet, if you've already downloaded. Coming soon...

Prefixes Un and RE Teacher Park Free PDF