Procedures for Turning in Assignments

We all know how important it is to teach procedures for things like turning in assignments. Well, I want to share with you some procedures I teach during the beginning of school. I’m excited to be linking up this post with my “I Teach” friends. We’re excited to bring you some awesome “Back to School Tips” and a giveaway! 

Back to School Linky

Are you tired of being frazzled when grading papers because “Little Johnny” forgot to turn in or write his name on his paper! This happened to me just one too many times!  So I was excited to implement some procedures which, frankly, saved my sanity.

Save your sanity! Use these tips for teaching procedures to turn in assignments.


 Tips for Managing  Assignments

1. My very first tip for turning in assignments is to assign each student a number. This is easily done by listing names in alphabetical order, then numbering.  My students know to write their name and their number on any assignments I collect for a grade.  If a student moves, simply skip that number and assign it to an incoming student at a later date.

2. My second tip I have to credit to a colleague who shared this amazing gadget with me.  It is called a document sorter. (This is an affiliate link, which credits me but does not increase your cost.)  You can find it by clicking on the image below. Each flap is numbered, students simply lift the flap, and slide their assignment under their number.  Just gather papers together and voila! all of your assignments are basically in alphabetical order.  This is an easy way to check that each student turned in their work, and makes it simple to enter grades in your grade book.  

Tips for Teaching Procedures for Turning in Assignments

3. I have a visual reminder, along with a cup of markers for students to use when turning in assignments.  Students simply highlight their name on their paper.  They love the chance to use these special markers.  If you’ve got smelly markers, that’s even better!  No more papers without names! 

Tips for turning in assignments Freebie

4. After students highlight their name and slide their paper into the document sorter, they cross their names off the list on my assignment sheet.  Now I know at a glance who turned or didn’t turn in an assignment. 

Freebie for tracking assignments as they are turned in.

Click on the image below to download this free visual poster and editable student assignment sheet. A sheet is also included for handwriting names.  It would be super easy to record grades beside each name, making it easier to enter grades.  

Free editable back to school assignment checklist and poster

Be sure to enter our rafflecopter for a chance to win a fabulous prize. Check out all the links below for more timely back to school tips and freebies!  

I’d love to hear your comments and favorite tips below.  Wishing you a wonderful back to school with lots of good memories and restful nights!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Text Dependent Questions: Chapter 4

Chapter 4 focuses on using text dependent questions to teach students strategies for understanding what the text means.  I have to say this was an amazing chapter!  The authors deepened my understanding of the ELA Common Core Standards and the purpose of close reading. Lots of A-HA moments! I’d like to thank Mrs. Wills’ Kindergarten for heading up this book study.

text dependent questions what does text mean

Using Text Dependent Questions to Teach “What Does the Text Mean?”

Skilled readers can look at all of the parts of a text, similar to working on a jigsaw puzzle. They understand how the parts and the whole work together and can arrive at a deep understanding of the text. This is not an easy, or automatic skill. Using close reading processes, teachers lead students into an understanding of how to infer and synthesize text, so they correctly interpret the meaning of the text.

The authors point out that easier texts have a higher cohesion (the way the parts of the text work).  These texts make relationships and inferences explicit.  Rigorous text requires students to make the jump to interpretation and synthesizing. The amazing thing is our students can make this jump, and they thrive when our expectations convey our faith in their abilities.

By leading our students into making connections between multiple sources and working across disciplines, their knowledge is further deepened. Close reading at its finest guides students into taking the time to comprehend text and provide evidence for their opinions.  

text dependent questions what does the text mean   

We read some wonderful books about diversity, acceptance, and kindness last year.  I know that most of these are familiar, but the lessons and cross-curricular topics are perfect for close reading. 

Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson, is fabulous for discussing issues of bullying, friendship, acceptance, and regret.  It would be a perfect book if you were going to incorporate random acts of kindness in your curriculum. My second graders really had a hard time getting the deeper meaning of this text.  They missed the author’s purpose and I basically explained the story to them.  Of course, I know now, that is a big NO, NO!



Set in the deep south in 1964, just as at the height of the anti-segregation laws, two young boys, one white and one black, learn that friendship can be a catalyst for change.  My kids LOVED this book.


The last book I will share, also by Jacqueline Woodson, was adored by my students!  I can’t tell you how many times we read it, they read it, and we watched the YouTube production.  If you haven’t read this book, then you are missing out on a treasure! 

I can’t wait to read the next chapter and look forward to your comments!



5 Easy Ways to Use Number Cards and a Giveaway

Today I want to share 5 easy ways to use number cards in the primary math classroom. I’m excited to be linking up this post with my “I Teach” friends. We’re excited to bring you a Christmas in July sale and giveaway! 

Ways to use number cards in the math classroom.

Number cards are a simple and versatile math manipulative. They are great for building number sense skills. In order to have number sense, students need to understand what numbers mean and their relationship to each other. I’m going to share ways I have used them in the classroom.


 Ideas for Using Number Cards With Young Learners
5 easy ways to use number cards in the primary classroom.

1. Early learners can use number cards in a variety of ways.  

  • Practice simple number recognition
  • Order cards to represent number order
  • Start with a number other than 1, such as 6, then have students identify the numbers that follow
  • Give students a card and have them represent that number with counters, blocks, or other manipulatives.
  • Give students a certain number of objects to count, then have them find the matching number card.
  • Give students two different number cards.  Ask them, “Which is more/less?  How do you know?”
  • Have each student choose a card.  Then, have them build towers to reflect their number.  After, towers are built, have students compare their numbers using the vocabulary, same, more, less. For example, “I have 4. 4 is more than 2.” To differentiate use smaller numbers only.
  • Use the cards to make a number book. Print cards on regular copy paper.  Have them glue each number onto a page, then illustrate that number by drawing objects to represent the number.
  • Give students a set number of cards.  Provide clues to see if they can select the correct card.  For example, “I’m thinking of a number that is one more than 6.” “I’m thinking of the number that is the same value of a nickel.” “I’m thinking of a number that tells how many legs a dog has.”
  • Have students match object cards to the number card that represents the quantity of the objects.

Use manipulatives with number cards to build number sense.

Free number card math game

Using Number Cards With Older Primary Students

  • 2. Use cards to play concentration


  • 3. Use cards to play War


  • 4. Use cards to practice addition


  • 5. Use cards to practice odd and even


I hope you have found some new ways to use number cards in your classroom.  I would love to hear of other ways you use them!  As part of your Christmas in July Sale, I am giving YOU these back to school themed number cards FREE! Simply click the Christmas in July image below.  Additionally, my entire store is 20% off for the next 3 days!

You might want to check out my Back To School All About Me Writing Journal! Just click on the image below to find it in my store!

Back To School Writing Journal



Free number cards center by Burke's Special Kids. Perfect for your young learners!

Be sure to check out all the other blog posts for some fabulous gifts from the other I Teach Bloggers!  



Don’t forget to enter our rafflecopter for additional prizes! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy July 4th!


Text Dependent Questions: Chapter 2

Welcome back for  Chapter 2 of Text Dependent Questions! I hope you are enjoying Fisher and Frey’s text on successfully using text dependent questions in the classroom. I was excited to jump into Chapter 2 which focuses on “What Does the Text Say?” Mrs. Wills’ Kindergarten is hosting this book study.  Be sure to check out her post where she delves into planning for a lesson with a mentor text! 

Close Reading Text Dependent Questions Book Study. What does the text say?

Literal Level Questions

Fisher and Frey stress the importance of literal questions as a precursor to deeper level and inferential understanding of text. Student responses to these questions are a clear indicator of their foundational understanding of the text. The authors refer to these questions as scaffolds to access complex texts. 

“But understanding the literal level of a text is the gateway to analysis and conceptual thinking” p 26

I loved the validation for using literal questions with my students.  I teach in an area where the students lack receptive and expressive language skills. As we are pushed into increasing the rigor of our questioning, I realize that these literal questions set the stage for my students to gain access to the meaning of the text.  In addition, they allow me a quick check into their initial understanding. 

Text Dependent Questions. What Does the Text Say?

Close Reading What Does the Text Say


This chapter focuses on using questioning to uncover the literal meaning behind text.  Of course the authors point out that close reading and true understanding is best developed through the social contexts of student discussion.  I did use partner and small group discussion in my classroom last year, however the authors highlight important considerations when using these strategies.

  • It is not an “endless round of Q and A” neither is it frontloading all of the background or meaning of the text.
  • Using challenging tasks, be sure to have students explain their ideas, not just facts.
  • Teach students how to elaborate 
  • Discourage elaborated personal experiences and picture cues, as students can lose the whole meaning of the text.

These tips are going to be in my mind this year as I circulate during my student led discussion groups.  I plan to create an anchor chart to assist my students in discussion starters for elaboration.  I love this free chart found at Learning at the Primary Pond. 

Ways to respond to a partner during reading discussions.


Final Thoughts


Text dependent questions book study hosted by Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten.


This chapter clarified my understanding of key details as defined by the common core standards.  Understanding that key details in narrative text refer to story grammars such as plot, character and setting, and in informational text refer to organizational patterns such as cause and effect, will help me hone in on the standards during my ELA block.  My next step is to locate texts to use in my classroom and develop questions as I work through this text.  The authors state to have a range of literal level questions ready to accompany each text.  However, they state that doesn’t mean you have to ask EVERY. SINGLE. QUESTION!  Once your students demonstrate literal understanding they are ready to move on to “How Does the Text Work?

Thank you for stopping by! Be sure to join in on the lively conversation happening at:

Mrs. Wills’ Kindergarten Blog

The Kindergarten Collaborative Facebook Group




Close Reading Text Dependent Questions: Chapter 1

Close Reading Text Dependent Questions Book Study


I’m excited to be linking up with Mrs. Wills’ Kindergarten and participating in her Text Dependent Questions Book Study. Fisher and Frey link research to practice in this easy to understand text.  You can join in on the collaborative conversation by joining the Kindergarten Collaborative Facebook Group! If you want to learn more about building close and critical reading skills with your students, grab this book and join us as we discuss our reflections on this professional book. You can get your copy of the book by clicking the link below.



Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Book Study Text Dependent Questions


My Reflection Points

As Mrs. Wills pointed out, educational practices cycle, but the idea of reading closely has been around for quite awhile. As best practices shift, it is always wise to take the best parts of what we learned in the past, and combine them with the new ways to bring success to our students.

Stamina, Persistence, and Confidence

As a former inclusion teacher, now teaching second grade, I have not received training on close reading, so this text is a huge help for building my understanding of the process. Two big ideas that stood out in the first chapter were the realization that a major tenet of close reading is student collaboration and limited front loading when introducing new text. Recently teachers have been proponents of building schema prior to reading any text.  While this is appropriate at times, Fisher and Frey warn us to use this strategy with caution when introducing a text for the purpose of close reading. Removing all obstacles defeats the purpose of close reading, which poses an age appropriate struggle for students. Removing all struggles from our students doesn’t allow them the opportunity to practice and “own” the reading strategies we are teaching them. Appropriate struggle helps our readers build stamina, persistence and confidence.

Social Learning

The act of close reading in the classroom is social learning guided by carefully constructed questions posed by the teacher. The process allows for students to learn from each other through discussion and collaboration.  Reading this section brought to mind number talks which I have begun implementing in my classroom.  This part of the math block mirrors the foundation of close reading. It is important to note that although the teacher guides student questioning in the beginning, the ultimate goal is that students eventually develop the ability to ask and answer questions during their own independent reading.   

Close Reading Text Dependent Questions Book Study

Students need scaffolding and support in learning to develop collaborative processes. In this case my students took turns talking based on who was holding the ball.


Be sure to join us at the Kindergarten Collaborative and post your reactions and reflections on the text!  

Close Reading Text Dependent Questions Book Study


Happy Reading!



Winter Fun Hop and Rain forest Writing in the Primary Classroom

We’re having a Winter Fun link up hosted by Mrs. D’s Corner. You can participate in the fun by downloading our free Winter E-Book and entering the rafflecopter below for the chance to win a fabulous prize!

Birthday Celebration

To beat the winter blues, we dove into our informational writing unit with the topic of the rain forest. Interesting topics are a sure fire way to engage students in informational writing in a primary classroom. Since we recently read about the rain forest, I introduced informational writing using a fascinating rain forest bird. Our rain forest writing project was a huge success in our classroom.  

Informational writing in a primary classroom

One of my favorite mentor texts for teaching point of view in reading is The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry.  If you aren’t familiar with the text, it is basically a story which depicts the deforestation problem in the rain forest as told through the voices of the various rain forest animals.  A second grade standard is understanding point of view and being able to read texts using different voices to depict characters.  It is so much fun to share this wonderful book to kids of all ages by reading the various voices of the rain forest inhabitants.  You can grab the book at Amazon by clicking below.  This is an affiliate link, but does not add any cost to you. 

Informational writing is our focus this grading period.  To kick off the unit I introduced my students to a simple layout to plan their writing.

informational writing

I selected a passage from Enchanted Learning about the Toucan.  You can find it by clicking the word Toucan.  We did a close read using this passage. I built their schema through the use of google images and a You Tube video of the Toucan singing. Did you know that they croak like a frog! 

Next I used this graphic organizer to develop the topic and details students would add to their writing.  You can grab it for free here!

graphic organizer informational writing

After completing our writing we did a directed drawing activity which you can find at We Draw To get the students started on their page I created a body template for them to trace using a file folder.

Tucan directed drawing activity

We loved how unique and cute each one turned out!






Be sure to enter the rafflecopter below and hop on to the next blog for more great tips to use in your classroom this winter! Just click the free Winter E-Book image to grab this fantastic prize!  You will find my secret word below.




a Rafflecopter giveaway



Year-End Blowout Sale on Educents

Are you busy planning for the coming months?  I know I am!  I was excited to see these deals coming up on Educents and thought I would share them with you.  Be sure to use the code SAVE15 or FREESHIP on  orders 49 dollars or higher!

c (13)

Out with the old, in with the new! Our friends at Educents have come through with an end if the year blowout sale that’s too good to miss! These deals won’t be around after the first week of 2016, so you have to act fast.


Shop the Educents Year-End Blowout Sale

On top of these already awesome deals, you can use the code SAVE15 for an extra 15% off sitewide, or FREESHIP for free shipping on orders over $49.


Life of Fred Elementary Math SeriesThe wildly popular Life of Fred books are a great way to get your child excited about math. I know it sounds crazy, but kids everywhere love the misadventures of math genius Fred.


National Geographic Kids World Atlas | Space Encyclopedia – National Geographic is one of the most trusted names when it comes to education about our world. Through brilliant photography, the National Geographic World Atlas can help educate your entire family.


5 Kit Magic School Bus Variety BundleThe Magic School Bus has spent decades educating children about all facets of science. Now, with this variety bundle, the lesson can continue in a fun and engaging way. Perfect for kids aged 5-10, this bundle will be more than enough for a whole school year of learning fun.


Freestyle Building Kit – Children have loved building toys as long as the simple wooden block has been around. The Freestyle Building Kit pushes that creativity even further with this kit. The kit includes thousands of blocks of various vibrant colors; the kit will be more than enough to help.


Spanish Course – Buy 1 Get 1 Free – Learning another language is one of the most valuable skills you can have, and countless studies have shown that the earlier you start, the easier it is to learn. This buy-one-get-one-free Spanish package is already a great deal, and now you can get it for even less.


Scholastic Beginning Reader Boxed Sets – When it comes to supplying books for young students, not many do it better than Scholastic. From LEGO, to Star Wars, to Clifford, these books are a great way to get your littlest learners excited about reading.


Scholastic Young Reader Boxed Sets – And for the slightly older readers, you can continue their education with some more classic books. With topics ranging from Harry Potter to Minecraft, any young reader will be sure to find something they like.

Whether you are a parent hoping to turn playtime into learning time, a teacher stocking up supplies, or a homeschooler starting new lessons in January, there’s something on Educents for you.

Shop the Educents Year-End Blowout Sale


Note: This post contains some affiliate links which do not add any cost to you.

Currently January 2016

Currently Jan. 2016


I’m happy to be linking up with Farley at Oh’ Boy Fourth Grade for this month’s Currently Linky!

Listening:  to silence and loving it!  My grandson, whom I love, is back home and soon I’ll be back in the noisy hub bub of learning with all my sweet second graders.  Until then…I’ll take some quiet when I can get it!

Loving:  the extended break teachers have over the Christmas holidays.  The time off gives me time to relax, reflect, and refresh for the remainder of the school year.  I feel I accomplish so much and enjoy my family to the fullest knowing I don’t have to set the clock or be on a tight schedule.

Thinking: I need to review resources I purchased over the break and plan some fun, yet meaningful, learning activities these last few days of break.  I need to print, laminate and cut out materials for centers too.  Oh boy, it makes me tired just thinking of all the cutting and organizing.  Glad I still have a few days!

Wanting: yes, another week would be totally awesome!  I know you want that too!  Since that isn’t happening, I better get motivated to start all of the laminating and cutting!

Needing: to keep in mind that there are so many things to enjoy in life!  I want to keep a healthy balance between work and home so that I enjoy my time spent with my “littles” as well as my family. 

One little word: Hope. New Year brings a promise of hope and renewal.  I plan to do so many positive things in the coming year both in my work, personal, and business life.  Knowing that success requires hard work, I am willing to do what it takes.  My hope is that each and everyone of us will be blessed this coming year!

Tips to Combat Teacher Fatigue

Tips to Combat Teacher Fatigue

Let’s face it.  Being a teacher is hard work.  Finding simple ways to combat teacher fatigue can be a game changer!  I published this post on Classroom Tested Resources today, but thought I should share it on my blog as well. Now that school is back in full swing you might notice your energy waning.  Me? Well, I’m changing positions a month after school started, so I am in full “back to school tired” mode!  This led me to investigate ways to beat teacher fatigue.

It goes without saying that we need to maintain good sleep habits once school starts.  It is so easy to work long hours, hoping to get caught up.  The ugly truth is there will ALWAYS be something else to do, especially in today’s world.  Getting enough rest will keep your body healthy and your mind active during the long days at school.  Being overly sleepy is your body’s way of saying, “Hey! Get some more rest!” When I ignore this signal, I often find myself fighting a nasty cold.

Test your sleep IQ by taking this interesting sleep quiz from the National Sleep Foundation.

You can find it by clicking {HERE}.

I know many of us toss and turn keeping us from falling asleep at night.  We simply have too many things running through our minds.  The best way I have found to combat this dilemma is by:

  1. Make a “To Do List.” Write down the things you need to accomplish or remember. This will free your mind to relax at night.  Try to prioritize and only list must do items.  Remember, this isn’t a wish list!
  2. Unplug from social media about an hour before bed.  Research states that computer usage before bed can decrease our ability to go to sleep.
  3. Keep a bedtime routine and time schedule.  Our bodies get used to falling asleep and waking at certain times.  Keeping the schedule even on weekends is helpful.
  4. Investigate essential oils. In a glass spray bottle combine a few drops of your favorite relaxing essential oil, like lavender, with water.  Spritz over your linens just before bed.  Check out The Prairie Homestead for recommended oils geared for getting and staying asleep.
  5. Let your linens dry on an old fashioned clothesline.  This is my absolute favorite!
Linens drying on a clothesline
Bring fresh air in for a restful sleep.
I found this affordable essential oil on Amazon.  It has some great reviews, including the use as a sleep aid for children.  Note: This is an affiliate link.



Healthy lunches that look and taste good, are a wonderful “pick me up” during the afternoon.  I am famous for throwing a container of  Greek yogurt in my bag, then hoping for the best.  While most yogurt is good for you, it can get a little boring.  Having a fun, tasty lunch gives you more incentive to take the time to eat.

Photo and recipe can be found at Family Fresh Meals

Foods that keep blood sugar steady, provide long lasting energy, and trigger your brain to feel good are the best choices for lunch.

1.  Choose whole grains, keeping an eye on the amount of sugar listed in the ingredients.  These carbs are good for boosting energy and the feel-good chemical serotonin. Whole grains are absorbed in your body slowly, so your energy doesn’t spike. Sugars cause blood sugars to spike and then plummet. Avoid high fructose corn syrup.

2. Add nuts, beans, lentils, fresh lean meats, and eggs.  These protein packed foods absorb in your body slowly and provide extended energy throughout the day.  Nuts, as well as whole grains, contain magnesium. Magnesium deficiency drains your energy. Meats contain Vitamin B-12 and boost dopamine levels which keep you alert and focused.

3.  Plan dinner meals which can easily be incorporated into wholesome lunches.  It is easy to cook a little extra during your main meal, then pack the leftovers for lunch.  Another great alternative is to make simple tweaks to your main meal for a fresh take as a lunch choice.  See the recipe below as a great example. Not only do you use the crock pot (“win-win”), but it would be so easy to add the leftover chicken to create a delicious lunch salad or wrap.  Have roast?  Shred it for an easy barbecue sandwich.

Find this photo and recipe at Family Fresh Meals.

4.  Seasonal fruits and vegetables are an easy, nutritious addition to your lunch.  They are low in fat, sodium and cholesterol. They do provide complex carbohydrates, fiber, nutrients and natural sugar. It is important to make sure you “eat the rainbow” when making choices.

fruits and vegetables color choices for health

Check out my Pinterest board for some easy lunch recipes.
Follow Sebrina Burke’s board Easy, Healthy Lunch Ideas on Pinterest.

Take the advice of someone who has been teaching for 21 years, and is still NOT caught up!  Work will always be there.  Prioritize.  What needs to be done to keep your students safe and reaching their potential?  What deadlines are looming?   Does it really matter if every corner of your classroom looks like it came off a Pinterest board?  NO!  But your health, happiness, and family do depend on you to realize that you simply “Can’t do it all!”

Be kind to yourself, get some rest, and enjoy your coming weekend!


Back To School Pick 3

Back To School Pick 3

Back to school season is upon us already!  Summer just seemed to fly by!  I’m linking up with those fabulous girls from PAWSitively Teaching and Inspired Owl’s Corner again for the August Pick 3 Pinterest Linky. Even though it is hard to get back into the swing of things, the structure and routine, back to school is an exciting time of the year. It is always fun to meet your new students and welcome them into your safe and caring classroom.  Building a caring community ensures that your classroom management is firmly established.  With that in mind, I choose some pins that help establish the sense of community in classrooms. back to school pick 1 My first idea comes from Our Small Town Idaho Life.  (Click their blog name to see the original post and ideas.)  Her room looks so warm and inviting.  

back to school 1a

Click the image to visit the site.

I love the idea of the students doing a self-portrait at the beginning of the year.  This is a great way to get some student produced work up as a cute bulletin board.  (Hey, one less bulletin board you have to put up!)  Plus the students are more likely to appreciate a board with their work vs. one you pre-made. This serves as a great board to leave up for open house. How fun is that for the parents!  Students could do a writing assignment to accompany their self-portrait. back to school 2 My second idea can be found at Mrs. Robinson’s Classroom Blog

back to school 2a

Click the image to see the site.

Providing opportunities for talk and collaboration from day one builds a sense of community and learning.  How awesome is this idea of providing the chance to develop and talk about classroom rules that are positive and build success.  This is a very interactive activity that is sure to leave students excited to be in your classroom!

back to school 3

My third pick is eye catching and visually demonstrates the community you are building in your classroom.  The pin origination is unknown, but ELSA Support in the U.K. is the site that contains the photo below.

back to school 3a

Click image to visit site.

 Is that not stunning and precious!  

I hope you have discovered some useful ideas.  Be sure to check out the other blogs participating to gather more August ideas for you classroom and life!



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