Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sharing Our Blessings....Together!

Sharing Our Blessings blog hop... enter giveaways for $850 worth of TpT gift cards and learn how (and when) you can download 17 teacher products for free!
I'm thankful for so many things in my life, and I feel blessed beyond belief. For starters, I'm thankful for my loving and supportive family, my wonderful friends, and my excellent health. I'm grateful to live in a country where I can experience freedoms that are only dreamed of in other parts of the world.  

I also appreciate the opportunities available to me and the tools that allow me to express myself creatively. To me, teaching was the ultimate outlet for creative expression; I was always developing new strategies and resources to meet the needs of my students. Now that I've retired from the classroom, I'm thankful that I can continue to express my creativity while developing resources for others! I appreciate the teachers who test out my resources with their students and who work with me to make them top notch. Finally, I'm especially grateful for teachers who support me by purchasing my resources, leaving me awesome messages in their feedback on TpT, and connecting with me on Facebook.

Sharing Our Blessings in TWO Ways
Today I'm joining 16 amazing and generous teacher bloggers in a big blog hop we've named Sharing Our Blessings. All of us feel such gratitude for our many blessings that we decided to spread a little joy by sharing our blessings with others. What better way than to join together so we can multiply the effects of our sharing?

First, we are EACH giving away two $25 TpT gift cards, which means 34 gift cards totaling $850! Find out how to enter at the end of this post.

Also (and you'll like this even better), each one of is going to give away one of our products, absolutely free for two days, this Sunday and Monday. It's not a contest with one or two winners.... EVERYONE wins because everyone will be able to download each product for free! Not only that, but you'll be able to download one product from all 17 bloggers in this hop!

My Gift: Monster Math Mix-up Telling Time 
I love teaching with math games. Kids think they're playing, but they are actually learning! Recently I gave one of my favorite math partner games a makeover, and I wanted to share it with you as my free gift. It's called Monster Math Mix-Up: Telling Time.

Check out the Sharing Our Blessings blog hop to learn how (and when) you can download Monster Math Mix Up Telling Time and 16 more teacher products for free!

Kids LOVE this partner math game! While playing the game, students must correctly read and write the times shown on task card clocks. Instead of scoring points for correct answers, each player puts together a monster puzzle, one piece at a time. The tricky part is that they have to spin to see whether they get to ADD pieces or have to take some away!

Everything you need can be found in this pack, and I've included both color and black and white versions of all task cards and game materials. If you don't want to print the full color monster puzzles, you can print black and white outline versions and let your students color them in!

Monster Math Mix Up: Telling Time is just one of many math games I've created that can be used in math centers or with cooperative learning groups.

Click over to my TpT store to check out all my math games now. If you're wondering why Monster Math Mix Up: Telling Time isn't free, remember that it's not free until Sunday and Monday. Don't forget to return to grab it for free then!

How to Enter the $25 Gift Card Giveaway
To enter my giveaway, complete any or all of the options in the Rafflecopter entry form below. My favorite option is for you to share about your own blessings. Click over to this Facebook post where I announced the blog hop and comment to say what you're thankful for. Or share a photo on Instagram to let others know why you feel blessed. Use the hashtag #sharingourblessingstpt to help us connect! There are two other entry options, and the more options you submit, the better your chances are of winning! The giveaway ends at midnight PST on November 23rd, and I'll do the drawing for the winners on Tuesday, November 24th. I'll contact the winners by email. Be sure to read the terms and conditions which you'll find on the Rafflecopter entry form.  

Ready to visit the other teacher blogs in this blog hop and enter their giveaways, too? The links at the end of this post display the product that will be given away by each blogger on Sunday and Monday, and clicking on any image will take you to one of the blogs participating in this event.

Have I mentioned how blessed I feel to be collaborating with such amazing bloggers? When you click the links at the end of this post to check out their blogs, you'll see why!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Get Your Kids FIRED Up About Reading!

Get your kids FIRED up about reading! Enter to win an Amazon Fire for your classroom!
Next Giveaway: Dec. 9th

Did you know that Amazon Prime members can borrow Kindle ebooks for free? I was telling my daughter Amy about this, but I also mentioned that the offer is only good on an Amazon Kindle or Fire. You can't borrow books for free on the iPad even if you have the Kindle app. Talking about this reminded Amy that she had seen the Amazon Fire advertised for $49.99! We looked it up, and she was right! You can now buy a tablet for under $50!

When I saw that price, my jaw dropped! A $50 price tag makes the Fire really attractive for schools to purchase. Furthermore, the deal is even sweeter because if you purchase a bundle of 5 tablets, Amazon will give you a 6th one for free! (Who would have thought that one day tablets would be sold in 6 packs???)

Kids love reading on mobile devices, and it would be amazing to get a whole set of them for the classroom. After Amy and I saw this price, we looked at each other and spoke together. I said, "I want to give one away to a teacher!" at the same time she said, "You should give one away to a teacher!" Great minds think alike, and the message was clear that I needed to do a giveaway!

Post Update: The first contest ended on November 15th, and DonnaMary was selected by Rafflecopter as the winner. However, this deal is so great that I've decided to select another winner in December! If you've already entered,  you don't need to enter again. Your name is still in the system and you might be the NEXT lucky winner!

Next Giveaway Date - Wed, December 9th, 2015
If you are a teacher who would like to win this Amazon Fire for your classroom, fill out the Rafflecopter entry form below. Complete as many options as you'd like; the more options you complete, the better your chances of winning! A winner will be selected at 9 pm EST Wednesday, December 9th, and I'll email him or her right away to share the good news.

Whether or not you win, you might want to put this Amazon Fire on your classroom wishlist! It's a great way to get your kids FIRED up about reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: Amazon affiliate links appear in this blog post. 

Friday, November 6, 2015

How to Cope with a Disrespectful Parent

Advice from Real Teachers Series

How to Cope With a Disrespectful Parent - Advice from Real Teachers post on Corkboard Connections
We've all been there, so if this happens to you, don't be caught off guard! Imagine that a parent of one of your students accosts you in your classroom or in the hallway after school and begins verbally attacking you ... and you are so stunned that you just stand there, completely tongue-tied! You know you shouldn't allow another adult to speak to you in such a disrespectful way, but you have no idea how to respond in a professional manner or how to prevent it from happening again.

A few weeks ago I posted a question on Facebook that had been submitted by "Lynn," a new teacher who wanted to know how to handle this situation. Here's what she wrote:

"The parent of two of my students is being completely inappropriate in her communication with me. She is harassing, called me names, and cussed. She questions every grade given to her children and takes it upon herself to tell me how to teach. She is also a teacher at another school district. Did I mention that this is a private Catholic school? I am getting very little support from my principal, but my mentor teacher is very supportive. Any suggestions on how to get this parent to back off? I am a first year teacher, and I have been told she causes a problem every year with one teacher or another. What can you do when administration will not put a stop to harassing parents?"

Advice for Coping with a Disrespectful Parent
When I shared Lynn's question with the followers of Teaching Resources, I knew that it was a tough one, and I wondered if anyone would be able to offer helpful advice. So I was astounded to see that over 140 fellow educators responded with some terrific and very detailed suggestions! You can read her question and all the suggestions here on Facebook. Normally I shared 15 or 20 ideas here on my blog, but there were so many suggestions that were filled with helpful details that I'm only going to share three examples and you can read the others on your own.
  • Mary Hurst - I'm not sure how things are handled in private school, but please make sure that you keep evidence of every conversation that you have with her. Print your emails and keep them in a folder, document every conversation in a file and keep both hard copies and computer files, etc. You may need them in order to get her to back off. I'm not sure where you are, but you might be able to file legal charges against her if it continues. You may have to tell your Principal that you will pursue that option if the harassment doesn't stop. I sure hopt hings get better.
  • Ginger Henderson - I had a similar situation, although I had support from my administration. I stopped all communication with the parent. I would read whatever the mother or father would send in, but my I did not respond. If it was an email, I'd reply with something like "thank you for letting me know about your concerns" just so they would know I had received and read the message. Then I just let it roll right off my back and continued teaching my class. If they request a conference be sure to have another person present, whether it's a principal, counselor, mentor teacher, etc... In my experience the best way to deal with this is to ignore as much as possible.
  • Vi Petalu - Call a prearranged parent meeting with administrator, mentor teacher, parent, and a stack of data. Let her know the attendees and agenda in advance. Get permission that the conversation be recorded. Back all your claims up with facts. If she won't agree to have the conversation recorded, take minutes to be later shared with all attendees electronically, noting that she didn't agree to have it recorded. Repeat as necessary. Discourage bad behavior with inconvenience and facts. After all, if she truly has a concern, she won't mind taking her own personal time to get things cleared up, right? At the end of the day, everyone is on the same page, wanting student success and happiness, but sometimes it takes time to get everyone there. Listen to her concerns and do all you can to accommodate, but in the end, it's facts and accepting that some people are never satisfied. However, at least that way, you have witnesses and documentation of your earnest, repeated efforts to resolve the situation.

Flashback to My Early Teaching Days

Reading Lynn's question and the advice from other teachers reminded me of a similar situation that happened a few years after I started teaching. A parent came to see me after school to discuss some concerns, and she immediately began speaking to me in a completely inappropriate manner. She had never even visited my classroom, yet she began attacking my teaching methods, my classroom management style, my grading policies, and she just went on and on! I had been taught to treat others with respect, and I had no idea how to defend myself against her verbal abuse. I stayed calm while she was there, but when she finally left I broke down and cried! It wasn't that I felt I had done anything wrong; I was upset with myself that I couldn't figure out a way to stop her verbal abuse and I just took it. When I later told my husband about the incident and how helpless I felt, he said, "Why didn't you just get up and walk out on her?" I was shocked and replied, "What? I couldn't just walk out and leave her in my classroom!" To which he responded, "Why not? You shouldn't let her talk to you that way. If it happens again and she won't leave, just walk out and go find an administrator."

Let's Try that One More Time!
As you might have guessed, it did happen again, but this time I was ready. First, I talked to her as calmly and politely as I could, hoping that I could reason with her and diffuse the situation. But when that didn't work and I had had enough of her verbal abuse, I stood up and said, "I'm sorry, but it seems that we don't agree about these issues. We need to reschedule our conference for a time when an administrator can meet with us."

The woman did not take the hint that it was time for her to leave and she continued talking to me in an extremely disrespectful manner. So I did exactly what my husband advised me to do, and I walked out. As I was leaving, I turned to look at her and saw that she was dumbfounded! She couldn't believe that I would walk out when she wasn't finished blasting me. She yelled, "I'm going to talk to the principal about this!" To which I calmly replied, "That's exactly where I'm headed and you are welcome to come along." I did talk to the principal, but (not surprisingly) the parent didn't join us. She did talk to him later, but he backed me and stood up to her. Even though the situation was difficult for me, I was proud of myself for first keeping calm and trying to reason with her, and then leaving the room when it was clear that she would not stop her verbal abuse. I didn't have any more problems with that parent the rest of the year, but I was careful not to talk with her alone.

Be Prepared and Plan Ahead
Have you ever  had this situation or something similar happen to you? If so, how did you handle it? If it ever happened again, would you handle it differently? Why?

I'm not advising you to handle a situation like this the way I did because you have to do what feels right to you. However, it's a good idea to think ahead to how you might act if something like this did happen to you. Be sure to read the responses to Lynn's question because the educators who responded shared some terrific strategies. If you're a new teacher, ask your mentor or consult other teachers to find out how they would handle a disrespectful parent.

The Question Connection
Do you have a teacher question for the followers of the Teaching Resources Facebook page? If so, click over to this Google Doc form where you can submit your question. I'm not able to share them all, but be sure you to follow my Facebook page so you'll see the responses if I share yours. Also, if you see a question pop up in your Facebook feed that you can answer, please jump in and share your expertise! Your helpful advice might save the day for a teacher who is frustrated or discouraged. Together we can make a difference!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Adult Coloring - Art Therapy for Teachers!

Coloring is art therapy for adults as well as kids! Learn how and when to use adult coloring sheets, and download some great freebies from this post!
Adult coloring is all the rage these days. This is no surprise—as busy as our lives are in the 21st century, we are all looking for healthy ways to relax, slow down, and connect with our creativity. 

The calming and therapeutic qualities that coloring has on children are the same for adults. And, yes, teachers count as adults even if our students might think otherwise! 

All adults love to color; they just have different needs than a child does. Adults need age-appropriate subject matter that connects to their lives, and they need opportunities to color material with smaller areas and shapes to match their more advanced fine motor skills. As much as we use our phones, other mobile devices, and computers, it’s important to use the fine motor muscles that control drawing, coloring and writing so as not to lose them. 

When to Use Adult Coloring Sheets

What is your most stressful time of the day? Is there a way you can calm it down by using adult coloring sheets? Here are some suggestions for ways you can work my free adult coloring sheets for teachers into your day:
  • Start your day by coloring while you enjoy a cup of coffee.
  • During lunch, avoid a negative teachers' lounge. Instead, enjoy your lunch outside while you color.
  • If your day starts to go terribly awry at school, stop everything you are doing and hand out some interactive coloring sheets to your students. Turn on some quiet music and pull out your own coloring sheets. Sit down with your students (not separate at your desk) and color with them. This will certainly turn the energy of your class around and get everyone back on the same page again.
  • When your school day is over, instead of going home feeling frazzled and stressed out, sit down and take a few minutes to color before transitioning to your personal life.
  • In the evening, put on some nice music to relax and color at home. Invite your family to join you!
  • Keep some of your favorite coloring sheets with you so you can color while waiting for appointments. The long wait at the department of motor vehicles might not make you as angry if you look at is an opportunity to color.
  • Color during different types of emotions. See how your work looks when you are angry compared to when you are happy. Allow adult coloring to be a therapy.
Coloring is art therapy for adults as well as kids! Learn how and when to use adult coloring sheets, and download some great freebies from this post!

Give Adult Coloring a Try for FREE  

Try Art with Jenny K.’s FREE Pop Art adult coloring sheets for teachers. Jenny has included all the instruction you will need to enjoy these unique Pop Art interactive coloring pages for teachers. 

Take something simple like the apple above on the left, and turn it into something magnificent like the apple on the right. These coloring sheets are unique because you get to interact with them. No two will ever come out the same. See how two teachers colored their hearts completely different. They are both beautiful yet unique - like the teachers who created them.

Use hashtag #artwithjennykpopartcoloring on IG to connect with other teachers who are enjoying the benefits of adult coloring. Click HERE to get started right away!

Coloring is art therapy for adults as well as kids! Learn how and when to use adult coloring sheets, and download some great freebies from this post!

Art with Jenny K Logo
Jenny Knappenberger is an award-winning educator who has taught art to middle school, elementary and gifted children in Virginia and in Arizona. Jenny is is the author of the Art with Jenny K blog and is dedicated to making art integration easy and exciting for classroom teachers.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Seek & Spell Challenge - Word Work That WORKS!

Seek & Spell Challenge is an engaging word work activity that's so fun your kids won't know they're learning!
Do your students groan when it's time for spelling? Spelling might be an important subject, but it doesn't exactly inspire a passion for learning! But that might change if you introduce your kids to Seek & Spell Challenge! In fact, they might BEG for this activity!

Students are given a set of letter tiles that they use to create and record as many words as possible. Making words with letter tiles is not a unique concept, but Seek & Spell Challenge has a unique twist that makes it motivating and fun for kids. What's the secret sauce? Simply that all of the letters can be unscrambled to form a "mystery word," and kids love the challenge of searching for that word!

I first created Seek & Spell Challenge as a fun seatwork activity for my 5th graders to be used on special days, like the the morning of a field trip or the day before a holiday because it had a calming effect on the class and my students enjoyed it. But when I noticed how much my students' spelling and foundational reading skills were improving, I started including it as a regular work work activity in my literacy centers. The results were even more amazing when I used it weekly!

When I began creating my monthly  Seasonal Activities Mini Packs, I included a similar word work activity in some of the packs. The only difference was that kids didn't have to look for a mystery word, because the word or phrase was written at the bottom of the printable. (This Words in a Word example is in my November Activities pack.)

But about a month ago, I came across one of my old mystery word printables, and I realized that the original activity was worthy of being a separate product. Furthermore, it was so motivating and effective that it NEEDED to be shared with other teachers!

I decided to run the Seek & Spell Challenge concept by the elementary teachers in one of my Facebook groups to see what they thought about it. They loved the idea!  So I invited those who were interested to work with me on the project. I had only used the activity with 5th graders, and I wanted to adapt it for younger students and test the activities in classrooms from 2nd grade to 5th grade.

As I created the mini-lessons and printables and shared them with the teachers, they offered great suggestions, like using lowercase letters instead of the uppercase letters I had been using. The 2nd grade teachers asked for a variation of the printable with fewer lines and larger spaces for recording words. Throughout the process, these amazing teachers tested the printables and activities in their classrooms. Everything worked perfectly as planned!

Seek & Spell Challenge is an engaging word work activity that's so fun your kids won't know they're learning!
Click HERE to download a PDF preview.

What Teachers Love About Seek & Spell Challenge

I loved seeing the photos of students working with the materials, but the best part was reading feedback from the teachers about why they love the program. It was so validating to learn that what I had experienced in my classroom was happening in other classrooms, too. Here's what a few of teachers shared with me:
Seek & Spell Challenge engaged my students and encouraged "real thinking" about words and their spelling. I loved watching teams of two work together and brainstorm and then check the word wall or their "quick words" for correct spelling. Having to find the "Mystery Word" was the bonus! The kids loved this concept and it provided a nice challenge for those who needed it. Manipulating the letters is important for student growth as it provides practice and exposure that they need as spellers, writers, and readers. ~ Cheryl Jordan, 2nd  Grade
 My students loved Seek & Spell Challenge! I had them work individually and then with a partner. They enjoyed comparing the words they each had made, finding those that were the same and those that were different. They saw that they could rearrange the letters in each other's "big" words and make smaller words too. I know there are similar word work activities; however, this packet is much more thoroughly put together and easier to prepare and use in the classroom. ~ Cheryl Barrios, 3rd and 4th Grade
I love how Seek & Spell Challenge is naturally differentiated for each student’s level; my lowest students could find success and my higher students could find challenges. ~ Deena Hayes, 5th Grade
My students loved the kinesthetic aspect of Seek & Spell Challenge. It was interesting to watch how they created words and how the activity easily differentiates itself as the kids are working. Having the letters that can be confused underlined helps greatly. Even though my kids needed help finding the mystery word, they were still so excited to get to it via my clues and were just as happy when they finally figured it out. The mystery part adds such a fun element to the whole activity. ~ Sally Campbell, 2nd and 3rd Grade

Seek & Spell Challenge is an engaging word work activity that's so fun your kids won't know they're learning!

Seek & Spell Challenge Freebie

Does Seek & Spell Challenge sound like an activity that would benefit your students? Wouldn't it be nice if you could try it before you buy it? :-) You can!

To give teachers a chance to test out the activity, I created a freebie that's similar to the sets of mystery word printables in Seek & Spell Challenge. Download this freebie from my TpT store and take a look to see what you think. Here are some features you'll love:
  • Ready-to-use, no prep printables
  • 36 mystery words (1 per week)
  • Several options for grading rubrics
  • Editable printables and rubrics
  • Several formats make it easy to differentiate
  • Hands-on, kinesthetic approach    

Thanks to My Teacher Field Testers!

I wanted to wrap up with a funny story from Deena Hayes who tested the activity with her 5th graders. Sometimes teachers have to be a little sneaky to get kids started on a new activity, and Deena knew just what to say at the first sign of resistance!
"My class had a great time completing the activity. At first, they weren't exactly thrilled, because it looked like a spelling activity. I reassured them that it wasn't spelling at all, instead it was a fun puzzle contest. With that, the race was off and running!"
I am so grateful for the help from my field testers; Seek & Spell Challenge would not be the awesome resource that it is without their feedback and suggestions! To show my appreciation, I listed them all in the acknowledgements at the end of the book... and I sent them all a free copy of the finished product, of course!

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