Archive for June, 2010

Tabbing Read Alouds: A Guide for Teachers

by: Jennifer Perez

Every teacher knows that planning is the key in making a difference in children’s lives!  It is impossible to just ‘show up’ for the school day and make things happen.  As teachers, we must plan in order for our students to have those ‘AHA’ moments.

One way to create teachable moments is through the use of Teacher Read Alouds.  As mentioned in My 1st Professional Training of the Summer, a Read Aloud is a “book chosen BY the teacher, for a particular purpose. Purposes for Read Alouds include: modeling fluent reading, introducing new authors/styles, introducing a new topic or extending a lesson.”

Taking advantage of extra time

Since it’s summer, why not take advantage of the extra time and begin tabbing some of those teachable moments, skills or standards and get some of the planning done in advance?

I’ve already begun to tab some of my favorite picture books that I am SURE my students are going to enjoy!

What you will need: Books and Post-it-Notes…..It’s that EASY!

Mrs. Perez’s Tabbed Read Alouds

One of my favorite things about being a teacher is sharing new information and ideas with others! I know the feeling when I learn something completely new and wonder, “ why didn’t I think of that?” I’m here to help you with those moments and share a few of my favorite Read Alouds and how I tabbed them for classroom use.

1. The Little Bit Scary People by: Emily Jenkins

This book is wonderful for discussing:

  • Character/Character Traits
  • Not judging a book by it’s cover
  • Different kinds of emotions
  • Extracurricular Activities

2. Dear Mrs. LaRue by: Mark Teague

This book uses provides excellent examples of:

  • Transitional words and phrases
  • The use of ‘voice’ in writing
  • Modeling sentence variety
  • Verbs

3. The Journey-Stories of Migration by: Cynthia Rylant

This book provides excellent examples of:

  • Modeling sentence variety
  • Transitional words and phrases
  • Facts

** Also does a fantastic job telling several stories about animal migration.

Tabbing books has proven to be an extremely useful tool in my classroom.  The benefits not only benefit my students, but they also benefit me as a teacher.  There is nothing better than planning a lesson and your students learning from the hard work of YOUR planning ahead!  Go ahead…..Tab those Read Alouds…..I double dare you!

Happy Learning!


June 30, 2010 at 7:18 AM Leave a comment

Individualized Learning Space (I.L.S.)

by: Jennifer Perez

In my opinion, every child needs a quiet space to call their own.  If your child/children are of school age, then I call this quite space their Individualized Learning Space or I.L.S.  The I.L.S. is a place where your child can learn and grow on a daily basis using the resources around them.  The I.L.S.  is  extremely beneficial if used properly and regularly.

Location Please!

The location of the I.L.S. is extremely important.  You and your child want to choose a location that is a comfortable working space for them AND this space must be in a location that isn’t noisy.  You do not want to choose an I.L.S. that is near a television, family room or any other area where there is high traffic, as this will be distracting for your child.  The I.L.S should be a place where homework is completed, research on the computer takes place and where planning is done.  The I.L.S. can be highly effective and extremely beneficial to your child….just encourage usage and provide plenty of positive praise and you will see that your child will prefer using their own I.L.S. to complete work as opposed to the kitchen counter.

Stock the School Supplies

Now that you and your child have decided on the perfect location for their I.L.S. it is time to Stock the School Supplies.  Have a conversation with your child and ask them what it is that they will need in order to complete their homework, research and planning.

School Supply Suggestions:

  • Plenty of pencils with functioning erasers
  • Blue/Black pens
  • Loose Leaf Paper (Wide rule or College rule?)
  • Dictionary/Thesaurus
  • Post-it-Notes (for tabbing areas of interest OR difficulty)
  • Paper Clips/ Stapler

Make it your own

Now that the location has been chosen and the school supplies have been stocked, it is now time for your child to add a few elements of their own to their I.L.S.  Adding just a few special touches will truly make this learning space their own.  I would encourage anywhere between 3-5 special elements so that the I.L.S. does not become cluttered and distracting.

Ideas for Special Elements:

  • Small lamp for additional lighting
  • Throw pillow for additional back support
  • Inspirational Quote posted at Eye Level
  • Cork Board to post upcoming assignments that are due, work to be proud of or even just some inspirational pieces.

Happy Learning!

June 29, 2010 at 8:20 AM 1 comment

Higher Order Questioning

by: Jennifer Perez

I must say, last week was the first week in quite some time where I actually felt that I was back to a traditional 40-hour week.  In addition to the ‘normal’ week (what is normal anymore right?) I attended two Professional Development Trainings where I learned invaluable information.  The 1st training was Vocabulary K-5 and the most recent course being Reading and Thinking Deeply Through Higher Order Questioning.

What does it mean to “Read and Think Deeply Through Higher Order Thinking???  It means that we have to ask our children and students questions that allow them to:

1. Apply a concept or skill that they have learned.

  • Key Words ~ Infer, Organize, Summarize, Cause/Effect, Graph

2. Strategically think and critique what they have read and already know.

  • Key Words ~ Revise, Critique, Draw Conclusions, Investigate, Asses

3. Extend their thinking by synthesizing and analyzing what they have read and applying those concepts.

  • Key Words: Prove, Create, Analyze, Connect, Design.

Please remember when asking questions in #’s 2 and 3 that answers to these questions require additional ‘think’ time.  Additional thinking time is suggested since you will be asking more involved questions.  It may help to tell your child/student that you will give them a few minutes to think before accepting any answers.  By doing this, you are promoting that think time and truly allowing your child/student to fully form an answer to a Higher Order Thinking question.

I’ve already begun tabbing some of my Read Aloud books for the upcoming school year with appropriate Higher Order Thinking Questions and cannot wait to share with you all the feedback that I receive!!

Try this out with your own children/students and feel free to share any thoughts and/or questions you may have along your own Higher Order Thinking Questions journey!!

Happy Learning!

June 28, 2010 at 1:48 PM Leave a comment

Time Management for Families

Shara Lawrence-Weiss

One of the biggest challenges every family faces is Time Management. It’s easy to think that this gets worse with each generation but I’m not sure that’s the case.

Consider the parents who traveled by wagon across country. They didn’t have computers, kids in school, homework to grade or social media to attend to, true. However, they did have manual labor, home-schooling, gardening, animals to heal, water to locate for bathing, babies on the way while traveling 24/7 through rough terrain and so on.

Safe to say that Time Management has always been an issue for every family, in every generation.

Today our schedules play out something like one of these situations:

  • Get the kids up, eat breakast, drop to school, rush to work
  • Rush home to clean, organize, sort, get meals ready
  • Rush off to a volunteer shift
  • Care for the younger children, not yet in school
  • Drop the kids to day care and then rush to work
  • Kids to school, home to clean and take care of more kids, back to school, errands, sports, dinner, homework, family time, clean up, bed

For my husband and I, we are dealing with the following:

  • We both work from home
  • No sitter at the moment
  • Three kids to go between, feed, entertain and raise
  • A home to keep tidy
  • Meals to prepare
  • Volunteer shifts
  • Pets to care for
  • Local town events that we assist with
  • Three busy businesses to run
  • Social Media, article writing, emails to answer, calls to return
  • Websites to build and maintain
  • Traveling when needed for meetings, medical purposes, etc

It’s not easy and people often ask me how I manage my time. I’ve found that planning ahead usually renders the best results. If we discuss our week on Sunday evening or Monday morning, we can jot things down on paper in an attempt to organize our thoughts. My husband and I will ask each other, “What’s your biggest priority this week? Who needs your attention the most, work wise? What can I do to help you?” If one of us needs more time for work than the other we try to honor that and the slower-paced business steps back for a few hours or days, as needed. Ebb and Flow, if you will.

My advice for Time Management:


Lists are a friend of mine and I often pull out pen and paper and write down what needs to be done, what our schedule looks like and what free time we can plan on for the park, library, eating out and so on. Some people enjoy using sites like Cozi, Google or Yahoo. I still prefer pen and paper – Old School style.

Take a Break

We all needs breaks. Don’t schedule your day (or your child’s day) so much that no free time can be found. Free time gives you the opportunity to think, dwell, reflect and self entertain. Grown-ups need that and so do children.

Free Time

Use your free time wisely. Think ahead about what free time your week will offer and how you might like to use it. Will you have a picnic? Go for dinner? Visit the zoo? Attend a play or musical? Walk the beach? Explore the woods? Watch a movie? Read a book? If you have limited free time you’ll want to make the most of what you’ve got.


Everyone needs to laugh. It’s good for our health, sanity and it’s a great (free) way to relieve stress. After a nice long laugh you’ll find it easier to plan for your week or day without feeling so overwhelmed by the countless to-do lists.

Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself

Did you plan to get something done and it just slipped past you? Don’t dwell on that. Why waste energy on things you can’t un-do? What’s done is done. Say sorry to the person you forgot about (if that applies) and move on. We’re all busy and most moms/dads/business owners understand that everyone has bad days.

Be Content

One of the most effective ways to be happy is to be content in your current circumstances. If you can do that…you will always be happy! Even if you long to have a clean house (I long for this myself), remind yourself, “I have kids who are happy, healthy and playful. They want to explore and learn new things. This is GOOD. This is what I WANT. It gets in the way of managing my time, yes, but would I want things any other way? No. There will come a day when the kids are all gone and then I’ll have more time to myself…and I’ll miss them being around making those messes. The house will go quiet and I’ll long for the days of noise and commotion.”

Every family has its’ seasons and each one will come with new and challenging Time Management issues.

Take each season as it comes along, embrace it, and do what you can to work within the chaos and calm.

In one line, my personal Time Management Strategy is as follows: Battle through the storms and plan during the calm.

June 28, 2010 at 7:11 AM 7 comments

A NEW twist on the Deck of Cards

by: Jennifer Perez

Do you have a deck of cards just lying around your trusty ‘ol junk drawer collecting dust? Well.. it’s time to put those 52 cards to valuable use! Here are FIVE fabulous games/activities that will promote learning and encourage family quality time.

  1. War ~ This game is a wonderful way for your children to work on their Number Sense, compare numbers and their values.

How to play:

  1. Be sure to shuffle the cards well!
  2. Each of the two players receives 26 cards.  Each player keeps their cards face down in front of them.
  3. Each player turns over a card at the same time.  The person whose card has the higher value takes both cards and adds them to the bottom of their card stack.
  4. If the players turn over cards of the SAME value then….its time for WAR!
  5. For War, each player places a card face down and then another card face up and top.  The person whose top card has the highest value wins all six cards.
  6. Continue repeating Steps 2-4 until the game has ended.
  7. The game ends when a player has all 52 cards.

2.Go Fish! ~ Playing Go Fish! Will allow your children to work on their Number Sense while matching and pairing ALL at once.

How to play:

  1. Be sure to shuffle the cards well.
  2. Distribute cards to all players.  If there are four or less players, each person will receive seven cards.  For five to seven players-distribute only five cards per player.
  3. The remainder of the cards are placed face-down in the center of everyone.
  4. As a family, decide who will go first-you may choose to go by age, who has read the most books to date, etc… Have fun with it!
  5. The object of the game is to see which player can collect the most “books.” A book is any four of a kind such as four Queens, four A’s, etc…

3. Memory Game/Concentration ~ With this game your children will work on their memorization skills as well as matching and pairing.

How to play:

  1. Be sure to shuffle the cards well.
  2. Any player then takes all of the cards and spreads them over a flat surface, face down, one at a time.
  3. As a family, determine the order in which the players will choose cards.
  4. The 1st player will choose any card and turn it face up for everyone to view.  Then they will turn over another card in the same fashion.  If the two cards form a pair, the player collects the two cards and turns them face down in front of them. This player will then turn over two more cards ~if the two cards form a pair GREAT, if not, the two cards are turn back over and the next player proceeds.
  5. Continue repeating Step 4 with all of the players taking turns in the same order.
  6. The player with the greatest number of pairs is the winner!

4. Math Flash-Addition ~ This is a game I use with my students to work on their Number Sense and their addition fluency.

How to Play:

  1. Be sure to shuffle the cards well!
  2. Each of the two players receives 26 cards.  Each player keeps their cards face down in front of them.
  3. Just like War, each player will turn over a card at the same time.
  4. Each player will then take turns adding the sum of the two cards turned over. A’s=1 J=11 Q=12 K=13                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (Depending on your child’s level of Number Sense, a piece of scratch paper and a pencil may be necessary to work out the problems).
  5. Set a time limit for solving problems~ 5-10 seconds is  reasonable.
  6. The player who isn’t solving the problem double-checks the other player’s addition for accuracy.
  7. The game continues until all cards have been used at least once!

5. Math Flash-Multiplication ~ This is a game I use with my students to practice their multiplication skills.

How to play:

  1. Be sure to shuffle the cards well!
  2. Each of the two players receives 26 cards.  Each player keeps their cards face down in front of them.
  3. Just like War, each player will turn over a card at the same time.
  4. Each player will then take turns finding the product of the two cards turned over. A’s=1 J=11 Q=12 K=13                                                                                                                                                                                                                 (Depending on your child’s level of Number Sense, a piece of scratch paper and a pencil may be necessary to work out the problems).
  5. Set a time limit for solving problems~ 10-15 seconds is reasonable.
  6. The player who isn’t solving the problem double-checks the other player’s addition for accuracy.
  7. The game continues until all cards have been used at least once!

Happy Learning!

June 25, 2010 at 7:29 AM Leave a comment

Recipe Writes!

by: Jennifer Perez

Here is a fun way to have your young one integrate their reading and writing  skills as suggested on Writing can Improve Reading.

Materials are needed:

index cards, a pencil, and a set of fine-tipped markers.


Ask your child/children what their favorite home-made meal is and write it down. Then, brainstorm out loud all of the items/ingredients needed in order to create this meal. Next, ask your child/children to get their pencils and index cards ready to write out their own recipe!  Together, create the steps necessary in order to make this favorite dish come to life!  Allow your child to write the steps out on their own and check the measurements for accuracy.

Once the first recipe has been completed, and re-read for spelling errors, give your child/children the markers and let your children re-trace what they have written in their favorite color(s)! Without realizing it, your child will be re-reading the text, yet once more!

Take it to another level and ask your child to illustrate the meal represented on the recipe card and create a caption for it! Feel free to share your delectable dishes!

Happy Learning!

June 24, 2010 at 7:25 AM 2 comments

Graphing the Weather

by: Jennifer Perez

Make graphing fun with your children this summer by graphing the weather together! You can tune into your local news station or log onto The Weather Channel to get your daily local temperature. You may choose to keep a log of the temperatures and graph daily or weekly. Make your child a part of the decision making process and ask THEM how often they would like to graph. Depending on the age of your child/children, they may/may not have learned about different types of graphs in school. Below you will find the most common types of graphs and visual examples of each.

1. Line Graph

2. Pictograph

3. Bar Graph

Once you and your child decide which graph to create, discuss what aspects of the graph need to be present.

Line/Bar Graphs

  • Title for graph
  • Clearly labeled X and Y axis
  • Scale with an appropriate interval (most of the times this is on the Y axis, depending on how the graph is labeled).
  • Connect the points on a line graph
  • Create clear bars on the bar graph


  • Title for pictograph
  • Relevant picture to be used in the graph
  • Create a key (See example)

After the 1st graph has been created, challenge your child to choose a different type of graph to create using the same data!! Take this one step further and ask a few questions such as:

1. Which week had the highest overall temperature average?

2. What is the sum of the temperatures in Week 3?

3. What is the difference between the hottest day and the coolest recorded day?

What a great way to promote learning and get those brains working… even if it is summer!

Happy Learning!

June 23, 2010 at 6:57 AM 2 comments

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