Take your curriculum and shop here for ways to manage and organize your classroom as well as jazz it up with new teaching strategies.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Problems Viewing Google Documents with Internet Explorer 11

We have recently discovered that there is difficulty in viewing documents when you click the link we have provided when using Internet Explorer 11(IE11). The problem is that Google Documents Viewer does not currently work with IE11. You may still open or download the documents by going to files/download and choosing open or save from the dialogue box that opens.

We are sorry for the inconvenience and hope that this issue will be resolved soon.

Also be advised that Google may not support earlier versions of Internet Explorer. They have dropped support for IE7 and will phase out support for later versions over time.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Team Smart

SMART is a review game that can be used after each activity in your daily lesson plan or used to review for a test.  Team SMART is started by dividing your class into two teams and using a visual as pictured below.  You can draw the visual on your classroom white board or use the PowerPoint version and project it onto your whiteboard.  If you have a Smart or Promethean Board you can copy and paste the visual from the PowerPoint onto the Smart or the Promethean Board using the tools provided by the different boards.  After putting the visual on your electronic board, lock the visual in place.  Then using the tools from your electronic board, create triangles and squares to use as game pieces.  Make the game pieces in different colors and do not lock these tokens so you can move them.  I recommend using magnets as tokens if you are playing on a white board but anything with tape on the back will work. The game begins when the teacher asks a question of a student, and if that student answers correctly the team is given a token on the SMART Board.  If the student misses the question, then it is given to a student on the opposing team and this process continues until one team has won the token.  I also recommend putting the students in rows to play this game.  You can then ask questions by going up and down the rows, and this makes it much easier to know who gets the next question.  When a team spells SMART, the SMART cards are cleared and a new game starts.  The team that spells SMART the most times wins the game.  All files needed for this game are located at the end of this article.

I often use the following scoring option to change things up.  See sample below.

Team #1

Team #2

Red Team = 10 points for winning game (1 point for each triangle and 5 points for the win).
Green Team = 4 points for answering questions

This keeps the score closer and for some classes it keeps things more interesting.


Class Tic Tac Toe

Tic Tac Toe is a game used to review for a quiz or a test. All you need to play is a list of questions and the visual attached below.  I would project the visual right on the whiteboard and use a dry erase maker to put the X’s and O’s onto the board as students answer questions correctly.  If you have a Promethean Board you can use the tools from the Promethean board to copy the PowerPoint Tic Tac Toe Board and paste it right onto your Promethean Board.  Lock the Board in place and then find the attached X’s and O’s and copy and paste them onto your Promethean Board.  Do not lock the X’s and O’s and as you need to be able to move them around.  All files needed for this game are located at the end of this article.

Now you are ready to begin.


1.               The teacher will divide the class into two teams.  I prefer to have the students sitting in rows for this game.
2.               The teacher flips a coin to decide which team goes first.  The team that does not win the toss may select to be either X’s or O’s.
3.               The first questions will be given to the first student in the first row of the team winning the toss.  The student will be instructed to select a question to answer by asking for a particular spot on the board.  For example, the student will say upper right, upper middle, upper left, middle, right middle, left middle, lower right, lower middle, or lower left.  I usually put my questions on cards and lay out them out on a desk simulating a Tic Tac Toe board.  Then the student not only selects position but the question he/she will answer.  I never let the student look at the questions so if I do not have time to create cards, I can just use a list of questions. 
4.               If the question is answered correctly, the appropriate symbol is placed on the board.  If the question is answered incorrectly then the next person in line on the opposing team will have the option to answer the question.  If the question is missed again it will go back to the next player on original team to answer.  This process will continue until the question is answered correctly.  If three students on each team miss the question asked, I would make it a free question and it can be answered by the first hand I see.  If a team answers a free question, then that person will receive a tie breaker card which can be played when a CAT results in the Tic Tac Toe Game. (A cat means no one was able to get three in a row.)  A student holding a tie breaker card can turn a cat into a win for their team if their team has more X’s or O’s than the opponent.
5.               Questions are asked until one team has either gotten a Tic Tac Toe or the game has ended in a CAT.
6.               The game is scored by giving two points for getting three in a row and one point is given in addition for each X or O your team gets.  See sample below.  If no team has a tie breaker and a CAT results, the number of Xs and Os are counted and added to the team’s score.

Sample Game Scoring

X’s =     2 points for winning Game
              4 points for X’s
Total =  6 points 

O’s = 4 points for O’s

This helps keep the score closer and
Students more interested in playing.

6.  Now you are ready to go.  Have fun playing whole class Tic Tac Toe


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Strip Teaching

Strip teaching is a method of story telling that gives students words that they can use later to tie the material that needs to be mastered together.  First the teacher creates a visual that outlines the most important material the students need to know.  I have created my visual on 3rd Grade Social Studies (Civics Unit) and you can review the chart below and obtain a copy here.



Difference between Rules and Laws

Why do we have Laws?

Encourage good behavior
Keep People Safe/Maintain Order
Protect Rights and Property

Laws are made by the Government

How do they get in Office?


Type of Government

Representative Democracy

Republic – Republican form of Government

Purposes of Government

Make the Laws
Carry out the Laws
Decide if Laws have been Broken

Is Government Necessary?

Yes – Protects our Rights and Property

We all live in a community?

Different backgrounds
Different skin colors & religions

Melting Pot


Different but the Same

Believe in Basic Principals

Life, Liberty & Pursuit of Happiness – Equality Under the Law

Benefits to Diversity


Rights are so important we that have armed forces that protect those rights—Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard
Holidays that honor those people who serve or have served in the armed forces

Memorial Day
Veterans Day


Honors solders who died
Honors those who have served

After the visual is created you create what I call strips that you can use on your white board, on a table, or reformat them for a SMART Board.  If you use a SMART Board you can replace some words with pictures if you want to. You will find the file with specific strips that go with the chart here.  They are almost identical; I may have left out a few words so the visual for the students is easier to read from their seats.  I sometimes have the students sit on the floor up next to the board to make the lesson more personal and easier to read.  If you plan to use the strips on a white board, laminate them and put magnets on the back.  This will make them last a long time.  I have strip sets that are several years old.

Next I develop my script for the content I want the students to know.  It follows both the chart and the strips.  I will put up or uncover (SMART Board) the appropriate strip that relates to the story I am telling. The students need no prior knowledge to participate in the strip teaching activity, and I promise after completing the strip teaching two or three times the students will be able to tell you the story and which strip comes next as you are telling it.  These words serve as hooks for the students and when they see them on tests, the story comes back to them and they can answer the question on the material being asked.


We all live in a Community.  A Community is where people live, play, and work.  All communities have rules and laws that help make it a good place to live.  Any time you violate a rule or a law there should be a consequence, but the consequences for violating a law are much more severe than violating a rule.  If you violate a rule set by your parent, you might be sent to your room; if you violate a rule set by a teacher, you might be sent to time-out; but if you violate a law, you might be asked to pay a fine or even made to go to jail if found guilty.  Why do we have laws?  We have laws to keep people safe and maintain order, to encourage good behavior, and to protect our property and rights.

Who makes the laws?  Laws are made by the government.  Our government is made up of elected officials that voters select to make decisions for them.  This is called a representative government.  Another way of saying representative government is republican form of government.  The United States is a republic.

The purpose of a government is to make laws, carry out laws, and decide if laws have been brokenIt is important to have a government as it makes the laws that protect our rights and our property. 

We all live in different communities and the communities throughout are country are very diverse.  Our country is a melting pot and has people from all over the world living and working here.  We call ourselves Americans. We believe in our countries basic principalsThose basic principals are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and “equality under the laws.”  The words “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” come from the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson.  “Equality under the laws” ensures all of us that we will be treated fairly.  There are benefits to our diversity and having lots of different types of people living here.  Some of those benefits are different foods, different clothing, and different music

We believe that our rights are so important that we have a military to protect them (Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard).  We have holidays to honor those who are serving and have served in our military and to honor those who have died in wars.  Memorial Day is celebrated in May and honors all veterans who have died in wars, and Veterans Day is celebrated in November and honors anyone who is currently serving or has served in the military.

There are a few add on strips if you want to use them that expand Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.  You can just say the document it came from, who wrote it, what war it lead to, and who led our troops to victory and won our freedom.  Some people like the extra strips; others think it makes it to long.

In conclusion, Strip Teaching is a quick way to teach and review some of the most important information likely to appear on the Third Grade Social Studies End of Course Test.


Monday, August 5, 2013

A New School Year is A New Beginning

      As you get ready to start a new school year, it is time to evaluate how things went in your classroom last year and come up with the solutions to fix those problems you experienced.  I always told my teachers that “The First Three Weeks” of school were the most important three weeks of the school year and that a teacher could make or break themselves by the end of that first three weeks.  I told my teachers this to try and help them understand how important it is to be tough in those first few weeks of school.  The next thing I told them was that “Starting Over” is acceptable and necessary to maintain a well managed classroom.  Every new marking period needs to be kicked off with a day in which rules and procedures are evaluated, changed, and reviewed with your students.  Sometimes problems are instructional while at other times they are organizational; but do not forget, they are always linked together.  A lesson is only as good as the procedures used to implement it.  We all make mistakes and we can continue to make them or we can do something about them.  I have always preferred change to failure and hope that you do to. 

At the start of school and at the start of each marking period the teacher must: 

  • Teach/reteach and model academic expectations.
  • Teach/reteach and model classroom procedures.
  • Teach/reteach classroom rules and model consistency in enforcing consequences.
  • Set the tone for the rest of the school year.
Where do you start… 

1.      Have a plan for Success.  For example, here are my “five steps to an A or B”: 

·    Come to school everyday. (Good Attendance)
·    Listen to your teacher and classmates while in class. (Don’t talk in class about non- subject related items)
·    Participate in all classroom activities. (Stay on Task)
·    Do your homework. (Come to class prepared to do work)
·    Study for quizzes and tests. (Review means extra SOL/Benchmark preparation) 

2.      Have each student write down on an index card what grade they want to receive for the marking period.  

3.      Explain the plan on the first day of school and at the start of each marking period. The plan should change each nine weeks as you evaluate what your students need to be successful. 

4.      Spend some time explaining to your students how they can use the plan for success to achieve the grade they have written on their index card.  Be sure and keep these cards as they will be useful to show students and parents when students are not working hard toward their goal.
Where do you go from here… 

·         Evaluate the old, create some new and teach/reteach the rules and procedures.  Before you create the rules and procedures list all the behaviors you would like to see exhibited by your students in different types of situations.  Remember behaviors are actions you can see or hear; your acceptance level of these behaviors may change as the years goes on and you attain experience.  What is acceptable on the first day of school should not be acceptable to you at the start of the second semester. The key to success here is to have lots of procedures and very few rules.  It is time to evaluate your classroom ---- when do you lose instructional time …… what makes this happen in your classroom? 

For example, if you collect papers one by one the students will get noisy, if you have them passed to the front and then down the front row you can collect them in about one minute which is not enough time for students to get out of control. 

Other problem areas are generally going to the bathroom, sharpening pencils, personal conversations, sleeping in class, and getting in and out of groups.  

One of the biggest mistakes that teachers make is not adequately teaching what each rule means and the practicing procedures needed to carry out activities that impact the daily routine.  
·         Organize yourself and develop well-planned lessons.  It is time to decide which strategies are working and which ones are not.  If you do a lot of worksheets and students talk while they do them then you must come up with alternatives to deliver material to your students.  You cannot use the same strategies day in and day out and expect success.  For example if you teach a 90 minute block you need to have planned at least 120 minutes of instruction utilizing different teaching strategies for that 90 minute block.  You need to vary the time line each day and have lessons that last from 5 minutes to 30 minutes.  Some days you may have three 30 minute lessons utilizing three different strategies, other days you might have one 30 minutes lesson, two 15 minute lessons, two 5 minute lessons, and one 20 minutes lesson utilizing multiple strategies.  Of course do not forget about over planning (120 minutes) and the back up lessons you will need if one of the planned lessons does not work and needs to be terminated.  It can be deadly to continue with a lesson that is not working in your classroom.  Scrap what does not work and move on.  Also, if all your lessons work then you have a head start for next weeks planning. 

·         Be fair and consistent with all students.  This is one of the hardest things a teacher must do.  If a rule is good for one student on one day then it must be good for all students on all days. You cannot bring your personal problems to your classroom and you cannot let your emotions influence your decisions.
·         Believe that all students can learn.  I have worked most of my career with at-risk students and I know beyond a shadow of doubt that all students can learn but not always in the same way.  You have to look at your students and search for ways to help them become successful.  It is a ongoing trial and error process.  Good teachers know this and master how to do it.
For more Classroom Management Tips go to the Classroom Management Tips Page


Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Football is a game used to review for a quiz or a test. All you need to play is a list of questions, a visual of a football field with lines drawn every 10 yards, and a token to mark where each team is on the field when they have the ball. You can draw the field on your classroom white board, use the PowerPoint version and project it to your whiteboard, or if you have a Smart or Promethean Board you can copy and paste one of the football fields I have provided below to your Smart or Promethean Board. If you have a Promethean or Smart Board you can use the tools from the board to copy the PowerPoint Football Field or the word version and paste it right onto your Board. Lock the field in place on your Board, and then find players on page two of the PowerPoint. Copy and past them onto your electronic board as well and use them as your game pieces. Do not lock the players so you can move them. Tokens for the whiteboard can be anything that will stick. Find all needed files below.Now that you have a field, questions, and tokens, please divide your class into two teams and follow the procedures below.

Game Procedure:

1. The teacher flips a coin to decide which team gets the ball first. The team that wins the toss will receive the first question on their 20 yard line. Place the team’s token on the 20 yard line. The first question will be asked of the first player on the team. If answered correctly, the team will move 10 yards on the football field and the second player on the team will receive a question. The student receiving a question cannot receive assistance from other team members. If assistance is given, the team automatically fumbles the football and the other team will take over on the yard line where the ball was fumbled I recommend the no-talking rule for all teams while the teacher is asking the questions.

2. If the student answers incorrectly, the opposing team can collaborate (in a whisper) and answer the question to cause a fumble and take over possession of the ball at the point of the fumble. If team #2 fails to answer correctly, the student who had answered incorrectly will receive another question but will lose a down. The opposing team will have the opportunity to cause a fumble after every question not answered correctly. The student can have no more than four downs to move the ball and failure to do so will surrender the ball to the other side. If you have discipline problems in your classroom, I recommend using a team captain as the only person who can give the answer to create a fumble. The team captain would poll 4-5 students for the answer and decide which answer to give the teacher. Students who desire to be polled need to raise their hands.

3. The process continues until team #1 either scores or fumbles the ball. If a team scores they will receive 6 points. The next student in line kicks the extra point by answering the next question correctly and thus adding one point to the team’s score. If this student misses the question and the opposing team answers it correctly, it will be ruled that the ball was fumbled and run back to the opposite end zone. This will result in the opposing team being awarded 2 points. Many people do not know this rule in football so your students will be impressed with your knowledge of the game. Every time a team scores the non-scoring team receives the ball on the 20 yard line farthest away from their end zone.

4. The team scoring the most points wins the game.


To add spice to the game I recommend adding passing questions. I shuffle passing questions in at random, and they automatically go to the next student in line to answer a question. If you answer a passing question correctly then you will move the ball 30 yards for your team or in other words you have completed a pass play or scored. If you miss a passing question and the other team answers the question correctly they will intercept the ball and run it back 30 yards or score. The more I play the game the more I like the variation and never play the game anymore without using it. I do pre-marked questions that are passes prior to starting the game. This way the students see you as being fair to both sides.


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