Saturday, March 29, 2014

Exit Ticket Parking Lot

Exit slips are a great way to get students to reflect on their learning and to help teachers reflect on their teaching. I always had a tough time keeping track of exit tickets. I tried it with Post-It notes, but they would fall off. Then, I thought-- why not Velcro?

I made these reusable exit slips as a ticket out the door for my students. For my self-contained kiddos, I have them fill out an exit slip (or dictate to an adult/classmate to fill it out for them) for each subject, placing them on their own weekly board.

I just cut, laminated, backed with Velcro, and had students write one thing they learned in today's class period. Students love these exit tickets, and they make for a great post-assessment.

I can just glance at them after class to see how well they grasped the concept. I post mine under my objectives board, so they can look up for an idea. I assigned a student to wipe them off for me at the end of each day.

Don't you love things that make life easier? I sure do! Get the set here:

How do you assess student learning? Do you use exit tickets? Please share in the comments below!

Interactive Elkonin Boxes

I finally found a phonemic awareness activity that I can use with my littles who are active yet reluctant learners!

If you're not familiar with Elkonin boxes, they are a fun, concrete way for students to break apart words into sound segments (phonemes). For example, with the word "cat," students would use a three-sound Elkonin box and touch each box as they said each sound (/c/ /a/ /t/). Then, they would slide their fingers along the arrow as they blend the sounds together ("cat").

This is one of my favorite strategies, but I was having a tough time getting my antsy learners who had trouble with phoneme segmentation to attend to this activity. So, I thought, "How how how how howwwww can I make this more interactive?"

I saw my roll of tape and had an idea:

Students can hop across sounds and then slide across the arrow as they blend the sounds together. One of my littles also had an idea to do the same activity but using a bicycle, and another had the idea of driving a car across them. Then, the whole class started sharing ideas-- "What if we dance as we sing the sounds? What if we ballerina twirl across the sounds? What if we act like animals and say the sounds in animal voices?"

Now this is their favorite activity! I'm going to keep these on my floor beneath my rug so I could use it every day.

Just a word of caution--Use stage tape or painter's tape, to avoid the tape sticking permanently!

How do you help your active learners? Please share in the comments below!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Low Prep Test Review Games

Test prep can be so draining, for both students and teachers. In a behavior support classroom, this is the time of year when our students frequent our rooms more often. Anxieties are high, and behaviors pop up.

This year, I took a fun, easy approach to test prep. I explicitly taught students how to take standardized tests, using my Test Prep Decades sets. We had "dances" throughout the decades, with theme Powerpoints for the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. The students LOVED this! I played some well-known songs from the decades using ( was blocked by our servers).

I also played some "students vs. the teacher" games. These are fun, because they teach teamwork, and the students always love to try to beat the teacher. I mean, who wouldn't?! (Although, I did have one little guy who pretended not to know an answer to try and help me get points... too cute!)

We also played baseball. We moved the desks out of the way and taped plates and bases to the floor with Painter's tape (could also use stage tape... or masking tape if you're planning to take it off right away... otherwise it sticks for good!). Partners also used tape to make numbers and names for their shirts.

Thanks to Graphics from the Pond for the font in this picture!

Next, I air "pitched" them a question. They had three chances to answer (strikes), and out of four choices it was pretty easy to "hit" the ball.

I took our review packets and put numbers beside each question--
Single - Easy
Double - Slightly more challenging
Triple - Challenging
Home Run - Very challenging

This made it easy to differentiate for students. It also made it easy for students to "pitch" questions to me, because they just had to read it off of the paper.

I made a printable score board, which we used to keep track of the points.

What do you do to make test prep more fun? Please share in the comments below!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Make Test Prep Fun!

In my multi-age setting, it's tough to find a test prep activity that suits ALL grade levels while reviewing the content for each standardized test. Standardized test week is a common anxiety-provoking time of year for our students with emotional and behavioral needs.

I decided this year that I would make test prep fun and engaging. Here's what I'm planning.

Throughout this week, we will have decades celebrations-- 50s on Tuesday, 60s on Wednesday, 70s on Thursday, and 80s on Friday. I grabbed a couple of cheap decades banners and printed a couple decade pictures from the internet. I also purchased some plastic trophies.

I made decades slideshows that explain how to take standardized tests. Our students need explicit instruction in this area. Clear expectations yield lessened anxiety, which is so important for our kids with EBDs this time of year.

And the bundle:

Using free streaming Pandora music stations, I'm going to play some music from the decades for our anticipatory set. Then, I'm going to use my decades slideshows to explicitly teach test taking skills and expectations.

Every couple of slides, I'm going to play some more decades music and ask review questions aligned to state standards, using (paid) and (free). For my kiddos who are not of testing age, I'm going to use the Powerpoints and review sheets that I'd normally use from their daily lessons. I'm going to give students the opportunities to answer their questions in game-like situations (e.g., write letters on white boards or iPads, flash in on game show buzzers, dance to a corner of the room labeled with the answer choices, etc.).

I also grabbed some prizes related to the decades as fun keepsakes to remember our lessons.

Here's to hoping for a low-stress, fun standardized test prep week! [sigh]

I'll keep you posted on how it goes. I'll try to snap some pictures, too!

How do you keep anxiety low while prepping for standardized assessments? Please share in the comments below!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

I'm feeling so honored!

So I have no idea why this entire post is highlighted with an awful white color. I keep trying to re-format it, but it's stuck there. Grr!

I'm doing my happy dance today, because Miss B from Butterfly through Teaching has nominated me for the Liebster Award for blogging! "Liebster" is German for "dearest," and this award is a way to recognize new blogs and those with less than 200 followers. I started A Peach for the Teach this August, and I've met so many awesome people along the way!

These are the rules I've been given by Miss B.

  • Link back to the blog that nominated me.
  • Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
  • Answer the questions posted for me by my nominator.
  • Share 11 random facts about myself.
  • Create 11 questions for my nominees.
  • Contact my nominees and let them know that I nominated them.

Check out Miss B's awesome blog. She's got so many fun ideas for crafty teachers (especially if you love laminators)!

Let's start with 11 random facts about myself.

1. This is my fourth year teaching, my third teaching K-5 Emotional/Behavioral Support.

2. I was furloughed from my first teaching job (K-2 Learning Support/Inclusion Co-Teaching) due to state budget cuts. It was  my dream job, and I was devastated... But the silver lining was that it led me to my new job-- which led me to start this blog! Also, on the day I found out about the furlough, I went impulse-shopping (you know, the best therapy), where I met my fiance! Everything happens for a reason, they say.

3. I'm saving for my first home with my fiance. He just got hired as a police officer (Our poor future kids. I could hear them now, "My mom's an emotional support teacher, and my dad's a cop. I never get away with anything!"). Our wedding is in June, so we're hoping to be homeowners by then! High hopes, we know.

4. My side jobs include TpT, tutoring, and teaching yoga and Pilates. Maybe one day I'll become good at dancing so that I could teach Zumba! lol. All that goes into the house fund.

5. I have an hour long commute each day, so I'm learning how to drive a stick shift (gets over 50 MPG!). I'm getting there, but I stall out like it's my job. If you see me driving on a hill, maintain a reeeeeeally safe following distance!

6. I thought I was allergic to chocolate but found out this year I can eat it! [Cue Belinda Carlisle] Oooooh, heaven is a place on earth! It's not, however, a number on the scale... lol.

7. I'm going to be a first-time aunt in a little over a month! Yay! All my cousins and friends are having babies now. It's so much fun.

8. I love baking, and I've finally gotten to the point where I can figure out what's wrong with a recipe and "eyeball" measurements. I'm still working on cooking. I've been trying some new recipes. Feel free to share good ones in the comments below!

9. I tried to learn how to play the guitar, but my fingers are so short. It was recommended that I try the ukulele first. So now I play the ukulele. I'll write a blog post on how we use it for spelling. It's so easy, and it was only about $50.

10. I earned my master's degree this summer in Reading Education (K-12) with a Reading Specialist certification. My undergrad was Special Education (N-12) and Elementary Education (K-6). I think next I'll try an ABA degree. I love learning.

11. I would one day love to be a college education professor. I am thinking of going back for my Ph.D.!

Now, I'll answer my questions from my nominator!

What are your top 3 favourite teaching blogs?

I'm going to cheat and pick three sets of my top three! I absolutely love

Do you have a TpT store?
I do! Check it out at

What is your favourite resource you have ever made?
My Classroom Routines & Procedures poster packI use it to teach routines and procedures and also to keep them on display for reference throughout the year. They help my classroom practically run itself! They're super helpful for me, students, subs, and instructional assistants! I put pictures on it for my pre-readers, too.

What topic do you love to teach?

Social Skills is definitely the most fun to teach! I can integrate academics but really have a lot of freedom in how I can explicitly teach social skills. It's fun to see the students apply what they've learned! I turned our state social skills standards into a Social Skills Rock Star Hall of Fame motivator. We're having a blast with it.

First ever (if any) linky party you joined in?

The Currently... link-ups from Oh' Boy Fourth Grade. I try to link up with them periodically. I need to do the March one next! So much fun!

Who did your blog design?

Me. I purchased some fonts and graphics, which are credited at the bottom of the page. I'm thinking of paying someone (if I can convince Crayonbox Learning hehehe) to spruce it up even more!

A funny comment you have had from a child?

"Sometimes my life is just like a fart." It's pretty profound when you think of it! Haha!

Helpful tip to a new blogger?

I'd say just post quality content. Make quality products, too-- but make your blog about more than just self-promotion. You can give and get so many awesome ideas from blogging and meet a ton of awesome people! I also learned a lot from Teaching Blog Traffic School when I first started.

Favourite book for use in the classroom?

Ahhh, I have too many to name! My favorite reference book is Challenging Kids, Challenged Teachers. My favorite social skills books are listed here.

Best ever teacher gift from a child?

This letter. Also, anything chocolate is okay in my book!

Memory from your first year of teaching?

My best memory-- The life skills teacher and I became friends, both brand-new teachers. She had a student with autism who was non-verbal. The life skills teacher thought we might be able to help this child participate in my learning support class. We encountered a lot of skeptics, but we tried anyway. The child flourished, and by the end of the year we had her included in our inclusion class where I co-taught. We gradually increased her inclusion, and even began speaking! I recently had a phone call from a former colleague, who told me that now this child participates in inclusion all the time, and she said the Pledge of Allegiance in front of the entire school! Needless to say, I cried my face off!

My not-so-happy-but-still-kind-of-funny memory-- I had students make life-size cut-outs of themselves and stuff them with cotton for Open House. I didn't realize how much cotton expanded, so I bought two bags for each child. As I was helping a child cut out her shape, a little boy in my class opened all the bags. In a minute, it looked like a blizzard! The cotton even covered one of my kindergarteners! A colleague came in after class had ended and asked me if I was teaching a lesson on snow. Haha! It took 30 minutes to clean up, eight giant trash bags later... KA-BOOM!

And now, for my nominees...

I nominate the following awesome blogs that deserve more readers and followers. Please check them out and follow them!

I'll start with one of my sweetest blogger friends, Cassie from Create-AbilitiesShe has a ton of fun, creative teaching ideas! Her blog name describes her content perfectly.

Next, I'd like to nominate someone who has left some pretty fun comments on my blog posts, which led me to check out her blog. Her name is Kate, and she's the heart behind Kate McDee's Busy BeesHer blog is adorable and full of great ideas and resources! Her products are highly appealing at the elementary level. She's my new go-to for fun academic products!

McDee's Busy Bees

Next, I'd like to nominate some of my fellow Pennsylvania bloggers-- That First Grade Blog, What's New in Room 202, and Abc123is4mePennsylvania has faced a lot of cuts to education funding in the past couple years, but these up-and-coming bloggers have blogged on and provided fun teaching resources! These are three of my favorite new PA blogs.

11 Questions for my Nominees

1. What's your educational background and experience?
2. What led you to start teaching and blogging?
3. Do you have a TpT store, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.?
4. What are some of your favorite teaching blogs, groups, etc.?
5. What is your funniest teaching story?
6. What has been your greatest teaching challenge?
7. What has been your best teaching moment?
8. What are some of your hobbies or talents?
9. What has been the best workshop you've attended, speaker you've heard, etc.?
10. What is your favorite teaching resource?
11. What are your long-term goals?

Check out the rules above for what to do next!

Thank you so much, Butterfly through Teaching! 

What are your favorite up-and-coming blogs? Please share in the comments below!