I hope to offer on this page ideas for everyday classroom instruction and management. Please use the menu below to jump to a specific idea category. If you would like to share any ideas of your own to include on this page, please feel free to send me an email at teachingifted@aol.com. Be sure to write "Ideas for Teachers" on the subject field. Have fun exploring!

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Autobiographical Poems
I introduce the basic format for an autobiographical poem to my students and ask them to complete an autobiographical poem about themselves. Once students finish their poems they are allowed to share it with the class. You can obtain the format for the autobiographical poem by visiting our “Poetic Power” section of the Student’s Corner.

Descriptive Name Tags
Before the first day of school, I prepared a series of cut-out block letters, a black construction paper strip to mount the letters on, glue sticks, and thesauruses. I made sure I had enough letters so that each student in my class would be able to spell out their first name. Students glued their letters onto the black construction paper strip and then used the thesaurus to come up with adjectives starting with each letter in their first name. They wrote their adjectives inside each letter and then presented their descriptive name tags to the rest of the class. This turned out to be a great get to know you activity. At the end of the activity, I collected all their name tags and posted them around the room.

Name Alliterations
Another great get to know you activity for the beginning of the school year. I distributed sentence strips (one per student) and gave the class a brief introduction to alliterations. I used well-known tongue twisters like “Peter Piper” or “Sally Sells Seashells.” I then asked the students to write an alliteration sentence using their first names. The alliterations didn’t have to be real, but they had to be creative and they had to make sense. Here’s an example of my alliteration: “Mariely makes magical moments.” I had the students present their alliterations to the class and we ended up having a great time. The alliterations where then posted around the classroom.

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Color Cards
This is a behavior management strategy that I have seen many teachers use. The way I used it was to use a smiley font on a Word document and make a series of happy, regular, sad, and really sad faces. I copied each face onto a different color paper. Each face was about 2 inches in diameter. I cut out each face making sure I have enough of each color for each student in my class. I then glued each face to the end of a blank 3x5 index card. I purchased library pockets for each student to hold all the different color cards. For durability, I laminated all the cards plus the library pockets. I used the end of a scissor to open up the pockets again after lamination. On the front of the pocket, I wrote the student’s name with a black sharpie marker. Every child would out with the same color card every day (green smiley face). Every time a rule was broken their card would be changed to the next color (yellow, orange, and lastly red). Each color card would have a consequence and a reduction in conduct grade. I would record the results at the end of the day and reset all the cards to green for the next school day. If a student remained on green for an entire week, on the last day of the week they would receive an award for maintaining excellent behavior.

Compliment Stones
I purchased a series of small decorative glass stones at Wal-Mart for about a dollar each small bag. I then got small clear container with a lid and with a wax pencil I drew a goal line. I told students that every time someone gave the class a compliment for being quiet, walking in a straight line, or following a classroom/school rule, they would get a series of compliments stones inside their compliment jar. When the compliment stones reached the goal line, the entire class would be treated with a reward such as an ice cream party, popcorn party, or some other class-wide reward. As the year progressed, the compliment goal line would get a bit higher so the students would remained challenged to stay in good behavior.

Stop Light System
The new behavior management system in my classroom is called the “Stop Light” system. It is a very easy system using a stop light you can make out of construction paper. You will need to dedicate one of your bulletin boards space to display your stop light. Make your stop light background using black construction paper. Then use green, yellow, and red construction paper to make your stop light circles. Punch a hole at each top corner of the black background paper to hang a string around it. You can use the string to hang your display up on the bulletin board. Glue your circles onto the black background and gather enough clothespins for each student in your class. Number each clothespin using a black sharpie and assign a number to each student in your class. Clothespins can be placed on the black area next to the corresponding color. Every student starts out each day on green (excellent). When a student breaks a rule, give the student a warning and move the clothespin down to yellow (caution). If the student breaks another rule while on yellow, move the clothespin down to red (danger). You can come up with different kinds of consequences for each color. If you would like to see how I use the system, please visit my “Assertive Discipline Plan” page. My stop light system was created by our school’s art teacher and he did an awesome job!

Team Points
My students would be seated in groups of 5-6 students and according to their behavior and how they worked as a team, I would reward them a series of points shown by tally marks on the board. Not only did this strategy reinforce math skills, but it maintained the groups in good behavior. Teams would compete for points and at the end of the week, the team with the most points would receive a reward. Team points were cleared at the end of the week and a new cycle would start the following week.

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Daily Agenda
In order to help my students be prepared for what was to come in the day, I placed a daily agenda on the board. The agenda just contained bullets, in order, informing the students of the activities that we were going to complete for the day. Once an activity was completed, I would place a check next to the activity to let the students know we were moving on to the next activity on the agenda.

Hanging Student File Folders
Instead of using regular file folders to store student’s work, I purchased hanging file folders and their corresponding small storage bins. It’s a small investment but the hanging file folders last and they make filing away papers a breeze…just drop down the papers in their corresponding folder and you are done. Moreover, they can be reused the following year by simply replacing the name paper on each hanging file folder tag.

Instructional Daily Folders
In order to keep all of my paperwork organized for the day, I developed a series of instructional daily folders. I used 5 regular letter size file folders (in different colors), a school theme computer letterhead (5 sheets), file folder labels, and a glue stick. I used the letterhead, a computer, and a printer to make a title page for each folder. I made sure I titled each letterhead “Ms. Sanchez’ Instructional Folder” and then placed the corresponding day (Monday, Tuesday, etc.). I glued the letterhead paper to the front of the file folder, placed the file folder label with the corresponding day of the week on the tab of the file folder, and lastly, laminated the entire folder (opened) and then trimmed it. The end result was 5 different color daily instructional folders all laminated for durability. At the end of every school week, I organized my folders placing inside of them all the necessary papers, worksheets, and plans needed for the following week.

Student Name Craft Sticks
I developed some individual student craft sticks to help me call on students to answer questions, go to learning centers, or help in the classroom. I used enough wooden craft sticks per student, took a sharpie marker, and wrote each student’s name per craft stick. I then placed all of the craft sticks in a cup labeled “To Be Called” and drew out a craft stick whenever I needed to call a student. Once a craft stick name was called, it was placed inside another cup labeled “Called” until everyone had an opportunity to participate. After every student participated, the craft sticks were placed in the “To Be Called” cup again and the cycle started over.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - "He had a dream...I have one too."
During the month of January or Black History Month students can learn about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by reading a short biography and learning more about his dream for a world where everyone would live in harmony without judgment based on outward appearance. Students can then brainstorm and creatively think of what their dream could be from a better world. They can then write their dream and think of the steps it would take for their dream to become a reality. Finally, students can predict what effects their dream would have if indeed it were to become a reality. I put together a packet for this activity named “He had a dream…I have one too” that includes all of these pages for students to creatively develop their dream for a better tomorrow. If you would like to download this packet, just click on the link below.

"He had a dream...I have one too." (Activity Packet)

Teacher Appreciation Goody Bag
During the month of May, every teacher is shown appreciation during Teacher Appreciation Week. One way that I have shown my fellow teachers how much they are appreciated is by putting together a Teacher Appreciation Goody Bag. This goody bag contains 15 items that hold a symbolic meaning as well as a note card explaining what each item represents. The items can be placed in a small cellophane bag or a Ziploc bag. Items include: a Hershey’s hug, a Hershey’s kiss, a Starburst, a fun-size Mounds bar, a fun-size Snickers bar, an apple pencil top eraser (or an actual apple), a small notepad, a pencil, a crayon, a paper clip, a rubber band, an individually wrapped Life-Savers candy, a band-aid, a toothpick, a piece of string, and a piece of bubble gum. Click on the document link below to download a copy of the instructions on how to create these goody bags.

Teacher Appreciation Goody Bag

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Challenge Capsules
In my class, when students finish their work early or earn extra time, they can choose to pick a challenge capsule from a container I keep in my classroom. I purchased the 1 inch empty vending machine capsules from eBay and filled them up with rolled up language arts and math challenges. Students choose a capsule, complete the challenge, and give it to me to check over. The challenges I use for my capsules come from The Mailbox Mind Builder books. The books come in different subjects such as: Language Arts, Math, Science, Geography, Spelling and Vocabulary. I also bought these books from eBay!

Intellectual Wizards Club
Another option my students have when they finish their work is to visit the Intellectual Wizards Club in our class website. This page is filled with various challenges for the students to complete. The club also includes a monitoring system where students are recognized for the amount of points they have gained through the challenges. This idea was originally created by Mrs. Renz (http://www.redmond.k12.or.us/mccall/renz/masteryclub.htm), but Mrs. Renz' calls it the Mastery Club. You can visit her site for more information on how you can add this club to your website.

Take to Your Seat Learning Centers
Evan Moor has created a series of awesome books to help teachers set up learning centers that are resourceful, fun, and convenient. The books come filled with the pages needed for you to create the learning centers, all you need to do is laminate the pages and follow the easy step-by-step instructions on how to complete the center. You can check out the Evan Moor Website for more information or you can search for Take to Your Seat Learning Center books from Evan Moor on eBay.

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Math Challenge
As part of my class’s opening routine, I have students work on a critical thinking math problem. I call this time “Math Challenge.” Students make a booklet using white copy paper and one color copy paper. The color copy paper is used as the outside cover of the book and the white paper is used as the pages. Students copy down their problem and solve it within the time given. The class then goes over the solution and the answer to the problem. This is a great way for me to address mathematic gifted goals for students in my language arts class. The website I use to obtain most of my math problems is MathStories.com. Yearly membership is required on this website but I think it’s worth it. Check it out for yourself!

Sir Cumference
Want to find a creative way of incorporating math instruction into your language arts classroom? Well, the answer is “Sir Cumference.” Sir Cumference is a series of picture books that contain funny mathematical stories that will entertain your students while building on important reading and language arts skills. So check out Sir Cumference today! You can also check out many more math themed picture books in a book store near you.


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Free-Form Maps
This is a CRISS (Creating Independence through Student-Owned Strategies) strategy I learned when undergoing CRISS training. After reading a story or selection, students work in groups to create a free-form map which demonstrates what they’ve learned from reading. What is a free-form map? Well, it is made up of student drawn pictures related to the story or reading selection. The students are not allowed to write any words, just pictures. There is a variation to this activity where you can have the students write words or phrases along with their pictures, but I prefer to have them draw only pictures to elicit more thinking on their part. Every student in a group must participate in drawing the pictures. The theory behind this activity is that if the students can transfer the information they’ve read into pictures, then they can understand the story better and therefore, increase their overall comprehension. After students complete their free-form maps, they present their maps to the class. Everyone in the group presents and talks about their illustrations explaining how each picture is related to the story or reading selection.

Paper Plate Venn-Diagrams
This idea came to me one day while my students were getting ready to work on a Venn-diagram. Instead of having them complete a regular Venn-diagram graphic organizer, I decided to overlap two paper plates and staple them together. I just felt like being a bit creative! I handed out the paper plate Venn-diagrams, the students completed them, and decorated the edges of their paper plates when done.

Reading Around the Room
As part of my opening routine, I have students read around the room. What do we read? Well, we start with the alphabet and then go over each letter sound. Then we proceed to read our Six Thinking Hats Bulletin Board, The Parts of Speech (with examples), Punctuation Marks, The Writing Process, Our Word Wall, and different labels around the room (i.e. computer, window, door, sink, chair, desk, etc.) This has become a regular part of our routine and something we do on a daily basis. It builds word recognition, phonics, literacy, and language arts skills. Students are actively engaged through this activity from beginning to end. We start the activity by singing our “Reading around the Room” song written below. Students start out a beat by stamping their hands on their desks and clapping. The beat goes like this: bang, clap, bang, bang, clap, bang, clap, bang, bang, clap, etc. The number beat is 1, 2, 1-2, 3, 1, 2, 1-2, 3. Try to play this beat and sing along to our song below. To help you out, think about the kind of marching songs/chants the U.S. Army soldiers say when marching along.

“Reading Around the Room”

A, B, C,
1, 2, 3,
Now it’s time
To read around the room

A, B, C,
1, 2, 3,
Now it’s time
To read around the room

We are
To read around
The room!

Reciprocal Teaching
A great strategy I learned and use in my classroom is Reciprocal Teaching. This strategy helps students take charge in their reading instruction by taking turns being the teacher. I recreated the Reciprocal Teaching Cards as well as the Reciprocal Teaching Worksheet for use in my classroom. You can obtain both of these documents inside the Download Café or by clicking on the icons below. Once you print out the Reciprocal Teaching Cards, make copies of the cards in different color paper so that you have enough cards for each student in your class. In the beginning, the teacher is the one who uses the “Teacher/Leader” card to guide instruction. As students learn the strategy, you may choose to have students work in small groups of 6 with one student being the “Teacher/Leader.” The “Teacher/Leader” card shows you the order in which the cards are used. As you guide instruction, make sure every student in your class has a Reciprocal Teaching card. You may start by saying, “Who has the pink ‘Predict’ card? Please give us a prediction based on the title and the cover of the book.” The student will then use one of the sentence stems to help him give a prediction about the reading selection. After the student gives the prediction, the class will begin to read. Stop the class at different intervals in the story to help students with reading comprehension and practice using Reciprocal Teaching strategies. After reading a section, ask, “Ok, who has the pink ‘Clarify’ card? Please share with the class a word you did not understand in the selection.” The student will then share her word and attempt to use the different strategies listed on the card to help her figure out the meaning of the word. The teacher will continue instruction using the “Make a Picture”, “Teacher-Like Question”, and “Summary” cards in that order. After a summary is made by the chosen student, the teacher will proceed to ask for the next set of color cards (i.e. “Who has the yellow ‘Predict’ card?”) and the process will begin again. Continue the process until the reading selection has been read and all the students have had an opportunity to practice a Reciprocal Teaching Strategy aloud with the class. In situations where the teacher is not the “Teacher/Leader” and students are working in small groups, have the students will out a Reciprocal Teaching Worksheet in order to monitor their progress and use of the strategies. If you still have any questions regarding this strategy please do not hesitate to email me at teachingifted@aol.com.

Story Map Flip-Books
As an alternative to story map graphic organizers, have students make story map flip-books. They are very simple to make.

Step 1:
Take two sheets of white paper and line them up together with about 1 or 1 and a half inches off-set at the bottom.

Step 2:
Fold the papers so that they make 4 different flaps that look 1 or 1 and a half inches tall.

Step 3:
Once the papers are folded, staple the top part of your flip-book. Now your flip-book is complete.

Step 4:
Next, instruct students to label the different sections of the story map flip-book as follows:

Flap 1 (Top Flap): Write the story title, author, and illustrator

Flap 2: Label outside flap “Characters/Settings”

Flap 3: Label outside flap “Problem/Solution”

Flap 4: Label outside flap “Main Events”

Ask students to flip open the first flap and on the top portion where it’s labeled “Characters/Settings” and have them write down the names of the main characters and the settings of the story. Next, have students flip open the second flap and write down the problem and the solution on the top portion where it’s labeled “Problem/Solution.” Then have students flip open the last flap and instruct them to write main events in sequential order on the top portion where it’s labeled “Main Events.”

Step 5:
The final step in this story map flip-book is to have students turn the flip-book over to the back and have them draw a picture of their favorite part of the story. Instruct them to write a sentence or two explaining their favorite part and why they liked it. Voila! Your story map flip-book is complete. I hope you liked this idea.

Story Map Flip-Book Variation: Character Step-Book
Here’s another creative way for students to do character studies. Use the instructions found above under “Story Map Flip-Book” to create the flip-books needed for the character study. Replace steps 4 and 5 with the following steps:

Step 4:
After you staple your flip-book together, use a paper doll template to trace the paper doll body onto the top of your flip-book.
Students will use the paper doll shape to illustrate their character.

Step 5:
After students illustrate their characters and the background, have them complete the character flip-book by adding the following information underneath each flap:

Flap 1:
Write down the title of the story, author, illustrator and the name of your character.

Flap 2:
Divide this section in half. On the left side, write about how your character feels at one part in the story and why. On the right side, write about something your character likes and why.

Flap 3:
Divide this section first in half and then divide the right half into half again so you end up with 3 sections. On the left side (largest section) write about something your character does in the story and why they do it. On the top right section, write down something your character said in the story that you liked and explain why you liked it and why the character said it. On the bottom right section, write and explain whether your character seems real or not and why.

Step 6:
On the back of the character flip-book, draw a Venn-diagram and use it to compare the character to yourself. Write your name on the left side and you character’s name on the right. Find similarities and differences between the both of you and record them in your Venn-Diagram.
There you have it…a character flip-book with all the details on how to make it. I hope this idea is useful.

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Ecosystem Food Chain Poem
A great idea to help students demonstrate their knowledge of how energy travels through a food chain in an ecosystem is to develop a Food Chain Poem. Students first choose a specific habitat to work with and then an animal that lives in that habitat. Students must first know about their chosen habitat and animal before beginning their poems. Have students draw a picture of the habitat they have chosen along with the animal of choice. Students will also need to draw the other animals and plants that will be part of their poem leaving space on the bottom for their Food Chain Poem. The title of the poem will be the habitat the students have chosen. The body of the poem will talk about the plants and animals shown in the habitat/food chain illustration. The last line of the poem repeats the name of the habitat and the child’s name. Here’s an example of a Food Chain Poem:

The Pond

These are the baby hawks,
That were fed by the mother hawk,
That caught the slippery frog,
That swallowed the grasshopper,
That munched on the green grass,
That grows in the pond where Sarah lives.

Ecosystem Illustrations
After teaching students about ecosystems and the various things found in an ecosystem (consumers, producers, populations, energy, resources, predators, prey, habitat) have students demonstrate their understanding of ecosystems by completing this activity. Give each child a piece of white paper and instruct them to draw an ecosystem demonstrating each of the things found in an ecosystem. It could be a forest, desert, ocean, or even their backyard. After students draw and color their illustrations, have then use small post it notes to label the different components/things in the ecosystem. Have them place one sticky to represent each of these parts of the ecosystem:

Producer Resource
Consumer Predator
Population Prey
Energy Habitat

Laboratory Journals
Here’s another great idea for using journals in you science class. Have each child bring a marble composition notebook and instruct them to set it up in the following way:

Science Lab Job Titles
When engaging students in science experiments or labs, it is important for each student in a group to have a job. Here’s a list of science lab job titles to give to each student in a group:

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