Sunday, February 26, 2017

FREE Punch or Stamp Cards for Classroom Management

No matter what time of year it is, teachers are always thinking about school! 

Classroom management and behavior are two top teacher issues.  

My FREE punch cards packet is a positive reward system that works! Over the years I've been teaching, I've tried many different classroom management systems and this one is great! I love positive reward systems. so I highly recommend this one. 

Just keep in mind that if you begin a reward system or any other type of behavior/classroom management system, it has to be done consistently.  If you don't follow through, your students will know. In my opinion, that's why some teachers have difficulty with behavior management techniques. Follow through is extremely important if the system is going to work.

Oh! If you don't want to punch the cards, each time a student reaches a milestone, you can stamp them with your special teacher stamp or you can use decorative punches that can be purchased in craft stores! 

Try the cards with a student who doesn't do homework or who has a hard time managing his or her time or materials and you'll definitely see positive changes.  The packet has all the instructions needed.  These cards have been used with 5th, and 6th grade students. 

I did, however, have a 7th grade teacher friend of mine,  who just couldn't reach a couple of her students. One, a very bright girl, was totally disorganized and the other student never completed his homework when it was due. She asked if she could try my punch cards. I told her the illustrations would be too "young" for her students. Well, it worked!  The students were a bit immature and needed a special pat on the back and TLC. That and the cards were a perfect fit. 

Click on the card to see more.. :) 


photo of Punch or Stamp Cards, classroom management, Ruth S., grades 1 - 6

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Design-A-Game Book Report

I created this book report when I was my state's representative on the Weekly Reader National Teacher Advisory Board.  A few years later, I presented it at the NELMS (New England League of Middle Schools) convention for four years, along with other activities and resources I created. Over six thousand educators attend the NELMS convention, so it was really exciting to be asked to be a presenter. 

The feedback from teachers, parents and students about this book report has been phenomenal! 

Surprise your students by handing them the certificate that says they've been chosen to design a board game for a game company before you introduce the project and watch the fun begin! 

The main objective is to reinforce comprehension strategies. As class friends play the games that have 16 events in sequential order, they'll be introduced to a book they might want to read. What better way to learn about new books!

Kids have to design the board game at home so there is a sheet of instructions and a rubric for parents. This 19 page packet includes everything you need for this book report including my detailed instructions. Kids have told me over the years that it's one of the best reports they've ever done. 

Have a "Game Day" and invite other classes to come play your students' games with them. 
You'll be amazed when you see how creative the games are. 

Find out more by clicking on the cover of my packet!

I LOVE sharing this book report with other educators. 

Design a Game Book report, book reports, comprehension strategies, rubric, sequence, homeschool, novel, books, gameboard

Friday, February 24, 2017

Behavior and Classroom Management Forms for Teachers

I bet most teachers will agree that behavior and classroom management is 
topic these days. 

Stop and think about it...

How many different ways have you tried to stop students from disrupting others, or even disrupting themselves? You have Tom who's drumming on his desk, Susie who's gazing out the window and humming her favorite Lady Gaga song, Ben who's fiddling around with his book bag, zipping and unzipping every single pocket.  Joe who's texting his friend who sits right next to him.  And the list goes on and on and on...

How many times have you arranged and rearranged seating charts to separate the talkers or those who don't get along?  You've moved your desks or table arrangements so much that the only next move would be to hang the desks from the ceiling!

How often do you think about classroom management and find it a very frustrating topic? 

I can bet that thinking about classroom management is constantly on a teacher's mind. You dream of a perfect class atmosphere with all students on their best behavior. They're sitting up straight, with their hands folded on their desks, looking at you, smiling and ready to learn.

Then reality smacks you. Your dream deflates and you are back to square one. Behavior management is a teacher's enigma!

Driving to school, you think about contacting the social worker about a student who's very disruptive. On your lunch break, you talk with teachers who have tried different ways of discipling students. The thoughts are always the same. Contacting parents, meetings with the school support staff. The list goes on and on and on. 

Managing classroom behavior actually isn't a new topic. it's been around since the days of the one room school house. One room school houses? Did teachers have discipline problems WAY BACK THEN? 

My great aunt was a teacher in Pennsylvania, in a little one room school house. She taught kids ages 5 - 14. Sounds like a nightmare, right? Think about it. How did she provide individualized lesson plans for that wide range of ages? How did she manage the paper work, the lesson planning? HOW DID SHE MANAGE THE BEHAVIOR OF ALL HER STUDENTS?

Well the stories passed down generation to generation went something like this.

In those days, the school was built by neighbors, townspeople and people with certain skills.

People donated materials, worked without pay and had a great sense of pride when the school was finished. There was no building committee, no governing body to dictate how high the walls should be, no one to say how long the school day should be. That was determined by the local people.  Some times kids were pulled out of school to help their parents plant crops and harvest them. It was necessary for family survival...

What did kids do to disrupt the class back in the one room school house days? Hardly anything. Teachers were respected and if parents found out their children were being disrespectful or were disrupting and interrupting the teachers, there were consequences, set down by the parents. God forbid my great aunt had to tell a farmer that his kid was being bad in class! Any kid who misbehaved paid the consequences at home.

 So what happens these days?

Teachers plan their lessons hoping they'll get through them with no interruptions. They pray that students will pay attention and learn what's being taught. They cover their bulletin boards with good citizenship posters, classroom rules and consequences and good feeling quotes as reminders, and hope it will reinforce good behavior. 

I'm not saying that displaying posters and good feeling quotes is wrong. Not at all. They are good reminders for students. In the good old days, there were shortages of paper, no computers, no printers and the teachers used what they had. They told the kids what was expected of them and laid down the rules at the beginning of the school year knowing parents backed them up. 

Is that reality? Certainly not. Our students aren't perfect. They're individuals who come from different backgrounds, different family environments and have different life experiences.  Some reach out for attention at home and school in negative ways because that's the only way they know. I f you throw a tantrum at home, you get attention. If you act out and misbehave, you get attention. So why not misbehave in school? Yes, it's negative attention, but it DOES get attention. 

How many times have I walked passed a teacher's room and heard a student being reprimanded in front of others? How many times have I heard a teacher, beyond frustration, yelling and reprimanding an entire class when it was only one or two who caused the disruption? Too many times. 

I'll never forget the day when I entered my first period, 11th grade history class, a couple of minutes late. The teacher lashed out at me verbally and berated my tardiness in front of the entire class. Being a very quiet girl, at that time in my life, I was mortified. I had a disagreement with my mother before I left for school, so with that heaviness on my shoulders, I had to listen to an angry teacher make things even worse. 

I ran out of the class in tears and went to my guidance counselor's office, where I sought solace. The saddest part of my experience is that I've never forgotten it. I can still see the teacher's face, hear his angry words and feel the embarrassment of being reprimanded in front of my peers.

At that point, I had already decided to pursue a teaching career, so that one incident changed the way I viewed class behavior and class management. NEVER would I embarrass a student in front of his or her peers. NEVER.

Okay, so you're probably wondering what I do, when a student disrupts others or interrupts a lesson. 

Read my skit below to see what happens in my class when there's a disruption.

I introduced a lesson and began explaining how to begin the preparation.  I looked up and saw Joe bothering friends who sit at his table. He poked Bob's arm and spun around in his chair and began bothering Mary. 

I nonchalantly and very calmly walked to the table, stopping to commend Mary for the effort she was demonstrating.  I turned around and without saying a word, motioned to Joe to follow me. He looked puzzled,  got up and followed me out the door, into the hall. I close the door. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that all eyes are on us. A hush falls over the room.

Once we're out in the hall, the conversation goes something like this.

Me:  Hi Joe. How are you doing today?
Joe: Uh, good. (He looks puzzled and looks down at his feet. I KNOW he was expecting me to raise my voice)
Me: You're good? I noticed you were doing something you shouldn't have been doing. 
Joe: I was?

Me: Yes you were. Can you describe what you were doing?
Joe: Uh. (Looks down at his feet) I was talking.
Me: Right. You were talking among other things. What happens when kids talk when I'm giving directions about a lesson?
Joe: (He pauses and looks up at me) They don't hear what you said?
Me: That's right. What will happen if they don't hear the directions? 
Joe: They won't know what to do?

Me: Right again. Let me ask you something. 
Joe: Okay. 
Me: Do you like being in my class? (He looks up at me with a puzzled look)
Joe: Yeah. 
Me: Would you like to stay in my class?
Joe: Oh yeah I would.
Me:  Well, if you continue disrupting others I might have to call your parents and discuss it with them. Or I might ask that you be moved to another class.

Joe: What???? Oh pleeeease don't call my parents. Please!  I don't want to be moved to another class. (I had one student get on his knees and actually plead with me not to call his parents. He's a very theatrical kid.)
Me: Well, if you don't want me to call your parents, I guess I'll have to call Mr. _______(principal's name) A look comes over his face and once again he makes his plea for me not to contact the principal.

Me: How do you think YOU can fix this problem?
Joe: By not talking and interrupting?
Me: Sounds good to me. Listen, we're not going to mention this conversation to anyone, ok? You walk back in the room, sit down get ready to listen. I'll walk in and explain the directions, and continue with the lesson. Deal?
Joe:  (Huge smile) Deal.
Me:  This is the last time I'll have to talk with you in the hall, right? And you won't say anything about it when we go back in class, right?
Joe:  Right. 
Me: That's good because if it happens again, I will call your parents and speak with the principal or dean about it. Is that understood?
Joe: Yes. 

I extend my hand and we shake on it. 

As we walk back in the room, every single student is looking at me and looking at Joe. 

Were they expecting me to say something to them? Of course. They were expecting me to storm in the room and reprimand the entire class.

Were they wondering what happened in the hall? Of course. 

Did I say anything? Absolutely not. 

Did Joe tell them what I said to him in the hall? Maybe... 

Does this work with every student? For me, it works 90% of the time. Naturally, there are always exceptions.

What's the best part of my method of classroom management?

 Word gets around.           Kids talk.           They Tweet.  

They know I won't yell at them in front of their peers, therefore they respect me. 

Respect and fairness are keys to successful behavior management. 

Again, it won't work with every student, but trust me, it's worth a try.  

Think about it. Your blood pressure won't soar,  you won't feel your face flush. You won't have to scream, yell .. You'll feel that YOU have control....

That said... 

You might want to check out my "Behavior and Classroom Management Forms for Teachers" resource that contains MANY forms for managing those who need guidance and assistance. Some forms are for school use only, some are for students and some help keep track of parent communication. 

I've also included award types of cards that can be handed to those who make good strides as well as larger types of cards that can be used as bulletin board toppers. 

Check out the preview of the packet, to learn more. 

photo of Behavior and Classroom Management Forms for Teachers, PDF, behavior management, Ruth S.,

Thursday, February 23, 2017

NonFiction Student Worksheet

Nonfiction Student Worksheets
If you already downloaded my nonfiction student worksheets resource, there's a new update! 

Kids often have difficulty transitioning from narrative to expository or fact based writing. Introducing nonfiction can be a lot of fun. Books like "Frog or Toad" by Patricia Lynch that Carolyn of the Wise Owl Factory reviewed on her BookaDay website is a great book to start off with. 

This book helps kids distinguish the differences between toads and frogs. I'd read this book to my students and then have them list the likenesses and differences on the free template that Carolyn has posted.

I'd then ask the kids to use my NonFiction worksheet, to fill in the information they can, then get into small groups to compare their answers. 

This free worksheet is best used with non-fiction books about subjects, autobiographies, biographies and other fact based books. Students can record facts on the sheets, about the non-fiction books they read and keep them in folders. Send them home at the end of the year as a surprise gift to parents! 
Click on the sheet to download. 

photo of Non-fiction student worksheet by Teacher Park


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 it. 

Prefixes Un and RE Teacher Park Free PDF

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Chocolate Fever

Chocolate Fever!

Find out what happens to Henry when he comes down with Chocolate Fever! 

Kids love working together to complete this packet o fun Chocolate Fever worksheets. 

The activities include the main elements of a story, such as plot, setting and characters but also includes Chocolate Fever math, art activities, response to text, a chapter trifold to display in your classroom and more. 

To see the complete packet description, click on the title page.


reading  novel Robert Kimmel Smith Ruth S.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

The first time I read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, I kept thinking... I wonder how many students know what happened during World War II? 

How many even know where Germany is or Europe for that matter? 

Before I even introduced the book to my students, I asked them to locate Germany and Europe on our world map. My expert map student was raising his hand, almost leaping out of his chair and making those familiar "Ooo, ooooo" sounds, we teachers know well. He pointed to Germany and the surrounding countries as well as the Atlantic Ocean. Isn't it great to have an expert in class to help introduce lessons? :)

Then, I asked them to raise their hands if they knew one fact about WWII. One boy said his great grandfather fought during WWII. A girl raised her hand and said that WWII was a big war. Those were the only students who volunteered answers. I was shocked, to say the least. 

It was then I decided to write up a packet of student worksheets for Number the Stars that would include an informational piece about World War II. It was a good way to introduce WWII and even though it wouldn't be a detailed history of the War, it would give my students a "taste" of events and the causes of the War. 

I always try to integrate social studies with my ELA classes so this was perfect!

Lois Lowry's book, Number the Stars, has students walk in Annmarie's and Ellen's shoes as the story unfolds. The setting is Copenhagen, Denmark in 1943, the third year of the Nazi occupation of Denmark. Annmarie and Ellen, who is Jewish, are best friends. The story is how Annmarie's family take Ellen into their home to protect her from the Nazis. The story is filled with facts presented in a way students will relate to themes like friendship, trust, honesty, conflict, and hope. 

It's no wonder this historical fiction book won the Newbery Award, in 1990, as the most distinguished contribution to children's literature and remains popular to this day. 

This is my 69 page packet to accompany the book. It has detailed instructions for pre-readinng, reading and post reading activities. Also included is the nonfiction, informational article to provide students with a better understanding of World War II. 

To read the full description of the book, click on the map. There is also a free preview of the packet of my ready to print student worksheets that can be downloaded.


photo of Number the Stars Activities and Worksheets, historical fiction, Ruth S., ELA, historical fiction, reading, writing

After speaking with many of my former students' parents, over time, it's apparent that students aren't receiving a good base of American history throughout their school years. I noticed the changes in textbooks when I was on the social studies curriculum committee for a number of years. The information in textbooks seemed watered down and lacking in good solid information about our history. I began wondering who was writing the text for the publishers and who makes the decisions about what's included in their textbooks.  That remains a mystery, but one we educators should be asking. I hope you are.