Monday, 20 September 2021

Random Student Partners for Full Participation

Putting students into groups or partners can be a tricky thing. We all know that who a student works with makes all the difference in how successful an activity will be. 

Many times teachers (and I was/am guilty of this too) put students together based on abilities. The students know who is the "smart" one and who is not the smart one and both resent the pairing. Right away they are not happy with the partnership and this is no way to get the best work from them.

I remember reading a book (I can't remember the name) about student engagement in the classroom. It talked about how if students perceive that groupings or partnerships are completely random then they are more comfortable with working with others. No longer do they need to worry that they are being partnered with so and so because they are not a very good reader or not good at math. Now they can focus more on the task. 

As soon as I read this I told myself that I would not partner students up based purely on abilities again if I could help it. 

Here is where Partner Cards (keep reading for FREE partner cards) make an entrance in my teaching practice. The best part is my students LOVE them.

When it is time to partner students up (and I don't want them to pick their partners -- which you should let them do from time to time) I pull out the partner cards and watch the excitement happen!
Each student gets a card and they have to find their classmate who has the matching card. This will be their partner. Now students don't have to worry that I assigned them a partner based on their abilities. 

It also saves me time from having to match students up beforehand. I call this a win-win situation!

Do you have an odd number of students?

If your classroom has an odd number of students there is an easy solution. Give yourself a partner card. One of your students will be your partner for a quick moment. For that student I do 1 of 2 things.

  1. Let them pick any partnering to make a group of 3.
  2. I assign them to a specific group that I think they may work well with. This can be based on academic needs or behaviors. If this is what I am going to do, I usually give the student a choice of 2 groups to work with. This way they still have some say in it.

Do you want to randomly put your students into groups of 3 or 4?

All you need to do to create random groups of 3 or 4 is to print of more partner cards. Instead of printing 2 pages of the same card.... print 3 or 4.

I highly suggest you keep these separate from your other partner cards and clearly label that they are for groups of 3 or 4.

Teacher Tip:

You can create your own partner cards using academic topics if you have the time. 

  1. Write a math equation on one car and the answer on the other. Students have to find their match. 
  2. Put letters, numbers, sight words on each card and they find the peer with the same thing.
  3. Write a science or social studies question on one card and the answer on the other.

A Resource For You:

To get you started with partner cards I have created a downloadable PDF with 2 sets of partner cards for you to print and use when you get back in the classroom. 
Partner Cards for matching students up.

Each set has 30 cards in them. This should cover most class sizes. The pdf also has more tips on how to fully utilize partner cards.

Here is an image to pin for later or to share with your friends!


Monday, 6 September 2021

Residential School Picture Books for Grades 2-5

Teaching students about the history of Canadian Residential Schools is necessary but can lead to some very heavy conversations. I have found the best way to do this is through the use of picture books. 
It can be difficult to know which books are appropriate for children so I have compiled a list of 14 picture books I feel are appropriate for elementary school students. 

The list below is in order from younger audience to older audience. This is just my opinion and you may think differently. That is ok! Even though the first few books talk about younger students and have simpler language they provide rich class discussions for students in Grades 2-5.

Keep reading for a set of FREE printable activities to do with any of the picture books mentioned below. 

I have used all of these in my classroom as part of lessons on Residential schools and Orange Shirts day. They are also kept in my picture book bins all year long so that students have access to them for more than just Orange Shirt Day. The ones with the * beside them are my favourites to use. If you are looking to start your own collection, I would start with these ones first. 

When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson & Julie Flett
*Tyson's New Orange Shirt by Bianca Bell & Lynda Dobbin-Turner
Stolen Words by Melanie Florence
*Phyllis's Orange Shirt by Phyllis Webstad
*When I was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Not My Girl by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
*Kookums Red Shoes by Peter Eyvindson
Shi-shi-etko by Nicole I. Campbell
Shin-chi's Canoe by Nicola I. Campbell
"Mush-hole" Memories of a Residential School by Maddie Harper (has the word "ass" in it one time)
*I am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis & Kathy Kacer
*Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

~Please note that the links above are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase one of the books, I get a few cents. It does not change the price you pay for the books. If you prefer not to use the affiliate link you can search for the books on your own.

FREE Activities for Grades 2-5

To go along with the picture books, I have created some free printable activities for you to use with your students. 

I have used these activities with my students and I am always impressed with their deep thinking and reflecting skills. 
The first 3 activities can be used with any picture books about Residential Schools. They are all just print and go activities because I know your time is precious.

The final 2 activities are to be used with the book Shi-shi-etko by Nicole I. Campbell. 
All of these pages are in one file. To get your copy, click the image below.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Must Haves For Teaching Math

Math is so much easier to teach (and to learn) when you have resources to use. I am a firm believer that learning math is best done with hands on activities and lessons, rather than just doing worksheets.

Don't get me wrong, I think worksheets provide valuable practice but there has to be more than just worksheets. 

I am going to share with you my must haves for anyone teaching math and why I think you should have them in your math class. 

These are not in any particular order (because I think they are all important) and I realize that there are way more things you could have in your classroom but these are my top 15 must haves if I was forced to pick.

1.) Whiteboards

I think I use mini whiteboards in my classroom more anything else and they are perfect for Math. We use them during whole class lessons and during small group time. 

When I am doing a whole class lesson I don't want just 1 or 2 students involved, I want them all. The best way I have found this is to give everyone a whiteboard (with marker and eraser) and have them answer questions along with the student coming up to show what they know. 

I give a lot of time for all students to work through a problem before I call someone up to answer. This is time I wander around to see how everyone is doing on their whiteboard. 

Students are more apt to take risks on a whiteboard because it is not permanent. Their work (and with some, insecurities) can easily be wiped away.

2.) Counters

Some people think counters are only use in K-2 classrooms but we use them for so many things. 

They are great for looking at fractions, ratios, graphing, arrays, making equal groups when multiplying/dividing, & addition/subtraction if that is the strategy a student prefers.
These are examples of some of the ones I use. 

We have even used them during small group time to review even and odd numbers. I have students grab a container and decide if there is an even or odd number in them. They love to challenge each other and see how many containers they can do before we have to move on. 

Different items to use as counters is something I am always keeping an eye open for. Everything from buttons, animal shapes, jewels, and keys, to seasonal shapes. 
Here is the label for the containers that I use to store them in. Dollar stores are great for containers and counter items.

3.) Two Color Counters

Two color counters can be used for all the things above but I particularly like to use them for probability and when first learning about arrays in multiplication. 

If the equation is 6x4 I will have students use one color to build the array with 6 rows and then use the other color to build it with 4 rows. They can easily see that the answer is the same but that there are 2 different arrays they can use.

4.) Base Ten Blocks

Base Ten blocks are likely the most important resource to have when teaching students about place value up to 10 000. 

They are instrumental in students understanding how to trade when regrouping and to see that a number can be represented in more than one way.

For instance, to show 2 345 you they can use 2 thousand blocks and 3 hundreds blocks or they can use 1 thousands block and 13 hundreds blocks. 

I also use them when teaching decimals.

5.) Number Lines

I always have copies of different number lines ready to go because we use them for many different concepts/skills. 

Students use them as a tool to help with addition and subtraction if they need it. We use them for fractions, elapse time, skip counting, negative numbers(older grades), etc.
If you would like some FREE number line templates here they are!
Included are 19 different number lines.
  • a variety of lines from 0-10 to 0-100
  • fraction lines from 1/2 to 1/10
  • negative numbers -20 to 20
  • a variety of blank ones for you or your students to fill in however you need them!

6.) Hundreds Charts

Just like number lines I have a variety of hundreds charts printed/laminated for my students to use if they like. 

I have a giant pocket chart one displayed in my classroom, as well as the smaller printed ones. 
Hundreds charts are great for teaching number sense, place value, skip counting, rounding, even/odd numbers, etc.

Some people think hundreds charts are only for 1st and 2nd graders but I am here to tell you they are not. Especially if you make charts for numbers higher such as an 800s chart or a 900s chart.

I even put hundreds (and 500s, 600s, 700s...) charts in my math centers. You can read all about that here and get a free chart to get you started!

7.) Dice

This may be my #1 must have. You can never have too many dice in your classroom. 6-sided, 10-sided, 12-sided, 20-sided, or any sided. They are ALL so useful. 

Throw in some operational dice and you have an endless supply of math games!

If you are just getting started with dice in your classroom here is are 3 FREE worksheet activities that you can use with your class. I use them with 20-sided and 10-sided dice but you can use any dice and have students fill in numbers based on their dice roll. For the subtraction page I remind students that the greatest number has to go on the top. 

8.) Cards

I recommend having a good supply of cards in your classroom. Students use decks of cards to play math games such as war and crib. They also use them to build numbers for place value and addition, subtraction, multiplication activities. 

When learning about integers and playing math games with cards, the red cards can represent negative numbers. 

Save the decks that don't have all the cards! When we are using cards in activities that don't require a full deck of cards, like building umbers, students can use incomplete decks. I have these decks clearly marked as incomplete so they don't get mixed in with the full sets. 

I have found the best place to get cards is at the dollar store or by asking friends if they have extras at home they are willing to donate. 

9.) Dominoes

I use dominoes much like I use cards in my classroom and expand the concepts to fractions. 

For fractions, dominoes make instant fractions for students to draw, order, compare, say to a partner. 

I also have students use dominoes to build numbers to add or subtract. If I want them to calculate a 4 digit number they will pick 4 dominoes and line them up. The top numbers create the top number in the equation and the bottom numbers on the dominoes create the bottom number of the equation. For subtraction I again have to remind my students that the number at the top has to be the greater number. 

When I am purchasing dominoes I try and find the double-12 sets so students have larger numbers to deal with. Just like cards, keep all random dominoes because they don't need them as a set. 

10.) Snap Cubes

Whether you have/call them snap cubes, unifix cubes, interlocking cubes, linking cubes, etc. we use them all the same.

In my classroom we use them most when exploring fractions or area and perimeter. For fractions, students can get 2 different colors and build a variety of different fractions with them. For area and perimeter, I have students build a shape and then decide what the area and perimeter is for that shape. They also love building shapes and seeing if their partner can find the area and perimeter.

Snap cubes can also be used to create patterns, used as counters when adding or subtracting, as well as to make arrays for multiplication and division. 

11.) Page Protectors

I cannot imaging teaching math without the use of page protectors. If I have activities that I want my students to complete for a math center but I want to reuse the page, I simply slide it into a page protector and have students use dry erase markers to write on the page protector. When they are done showing me or a partner their work, it is easily erased and ready for the next student.

I use them a lot with my small math groups to slide math work mats and graphic organizers into. The organizers can be store in the page protectors and put in binders for easy access. 

If I have printed off a math game, such as Bump, and I don't have time to laminate … into a page protector they go.

I have found the box of them at Costco are the best quality (erase cleanly when written on with dry erase marker) and the best price. If I can't get them at Costco then I get these ones from Amazon. 

12.) Bingo Chips

The more Bingo chips the better. I keep a bucket of Bingo chips close by my small group table so we have quick access to them when learning about patterns, even & odd, and fractions of a set. 

Just like counters I get students to grab a handful of Bingo chips and decide if they have an odd or even number. This is a super simple activity to have them do if you need to grab a few more things for your lesson or you finish a few minutes early. 

If you have your students play Bump math games then you know that Bingo chips are ideal. I prefer the transparent chips for Bump games but I don't get too picky.

If there is anything else you find useful to teach math I would love for you to leave a comment and share it with us all.


Monday, 23 August 2021

Free After the Fall Growth Mindset Lessons

As soon as I read After the Fall by Dan Santat I knew that I wanted to use it in my classroom for growth mindset lessons. Besides the amazing illustrations, it has an incredible growth mindset message.
I have tried many different behaviour management and self-regulation methods in my classroom over the years and I have seen the most success with growth mindset. When students start understanding what it means to have a growth mindset they are able to take a moment and change their thinking.

I have seen first hand how students who previously got very upset/disruptive because they thought work was too hard or because they had to fix an error, were now talking themselves through those situations and calming themselves down more quickly.

Seeing this, tells me that I need to continue incorporating growth mindset lessons into our days and this is one of the reasons I created these growth mindset lessons for After the Fall.

What is included?

Lesson plans for an interactive read aloud with guiding questions. I also included templates for printing the questions on sticky notes so you can easily put them in your book, without marking up the book pages. 

Humpty Dumpty's mindset chances throughout the story and this leads perfectly into discussions about which of his thoughts/actions are examples of a fixed mindset and which are examples of a growth mindset.
I wanted the fixed vs growth mindset activity to be a differentiated one so there are 2 versions of it. 

  1.  Examples are provided for students to cut out and sort (the picture above).
  2.  Students have to write their own examples of when Humpty showed a fixed and a growth mindset. 

Lesson plans and templates for a lesson on throwing away fears. Students will reflect on what fears are holding them back and then create a paper airplane that they will send their fears away on.
A variety of different graphic organizer activities that students can complete over multiple lessons. These graphic organizers focus on students fears and how they can overcome them like Humpty Dumpty did. 
I love to have my students write about a mentor text we have read, so I created 5 different writing prompts connected to After the Fall. 

These can be used in different ways. I create a mini book for each student and each day of the week, they complete one of the prompts. Once the week is over they will have a completed book to share with a buddy and to take home to share with family.
The writing prompts also make great exit tickets, if you want to use only some of them.

I love to have visuals to display in the classroom so students can get reminders of our activities throughout the day. Because of this I designed a variety of inspirational posters with quotes from the book.
There are colored and black and white versions so you have options as to how you want to print them. They look super cute put in a picture frame and placed on a bookshelf.

Get it FREE!

By signing up for my email newsletters you can get all the After the Fall Growth Mindset activities for free!

Need the book?

If you are not familiar with the book or you want to get your own copy you can find them on Amazon here (affiliate links):
.com --
.ca --

I know your students will love this book and these activities as much as mine do.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Teacher Planners: Why I Don't Buy a Fancy One.

Do you search for a teacher planner every year?

I don't. Well let me start by saying I use to but then I stopped.

Year after year, I would hunt for the perfect planner to use as my day book and year after year I would spend way too much time filling it out.

No pricey daybook for me. Alternative to an expensive teacher planner Terri's Teaching Treasures

I found that I was writing the same things over and over again each day/week because they were things that were part of our routine. This was wasting too much of my time after school so I needed to find a better way to plan my days.

In our school district, we are responsible for writing a day plan for when we have a substitute teacher. This is why I constantly had to write out routines and procedures. 

If your luck is like mine you always get sick at night/early morning when you are not at school. This means that I had to always be prepared for a substitute in my classroom. There was no way I want to write up a detailed day plan when I am sick. 

I no longer have to do this and I no longer have to write a ton in my daybook when I am planning.

How You Ask?

My daybook is put in a binder with photocopies of my day plan template!!

I still want the binder to look nice so I print off a fancy cover and just slide it into the front of the binder and voila....fancy!

editable teacher binder cover for Mrs. Browne lime green, turquoise, and bright pink colors Terri's Teaching Treasures
What My Plan Looks Like

At the beginning of the year, once we get our schedules set, I type a detailed plan (in Word) for each day of the week. I add any routines and procedures that another teacher would need to know about our day and what we do. 

I leave spaces for me to write what I am doing for each subject for that day but ALL the procedures/routines are typed. 

Example photo of teacher planner daybook page. Terri's Teaching Treasures

Click on the photos to see a larger view of them.

I no longer need to do this throughout the year and if someone comes in to teach for me most things are ready. 

Full screen view of what my daybook looks like in a binder. typed out day plan pages.

Weekly Schedule

At the very front of the binder I also keep a weekly schedule so that someone can see very quickly what is coming up for the week and how the subjects are scheduled. 

I do not know if any substitute teachers actually use it but it is there if they want it. 

The Tabs

I keep most things I need right in my binder in different sections.

labels on binder tabs to show what sections are in the day book. Terri's Teaching Treasures

Day Plans: Just what it says. This is where all my day plan pages go.

TTOC Info: We call our substitute teachers Teachers Teaching On Call (TTOC for short) so any information they may need goes here. I have seating plans, class lists, any behaviour plans I may have for students, helpful information about the class, etc.

Schedules: You guessed it. All my schedules (gym, music, library, supervision, learning assistance...) go here for my reference or a TTOC's needs. I also keep an extra copy of my daybook plans here just in case I am away and more are needed. My year overviews are also kept in this section so I know where to find it when I need it. 

Staff Meetings: This is where I keep all staff meeting minutes and any papers we get. I use to keep them in my filing cabinet but I find them way quicker to access here if I need dates or information that came up at a meeting. 

Stuff: Any other random stuff I may want handy goes here. I am always surprised at the end of the year what ends up in this section. 😂

Other Benefits

I am super picky about the binders that I use because I want them to be sturdy but I also want them to have the pouches on the inside of the binder.

This is where I store any answer keys I am currently using and my week schedule (as I explained above). I use to have my answer keys just randomly laying around and I would lose them. Since I switched to the binder daybook, they all go at the back in the pouches. No more remaking answer keys for this girl👍

I also have not-so-fancy to do lists that go in my daybook. When I am planning for the week I put sticky notes at the end of each day and make a list of what is needed for the next day. As soon as it is prepped or done, I can check it off. 
writing on a sticky note as a teacher to do list. It is stuck to the end of each dayplan in the daybook.
Since I don't buy a pricey daybook I now have more money for coffee or shoes!

Another fancy thing I don't buy and is FREE for you!

I wrote a blog post all about my daily board schedule for the students to use and how I make my own schedule cards. You can read about that here and get the free editable download. 
class day schedule cards post Terri's Teaching Treasures

Don't buy a teacher planner. Instead make your own with all your routines and procedures typed out.

If you want to save this post for later, here is an image to pin!

Please let me know if there is anything else you want to know about (or any way I can help you with) planning for the day, week, month, year ❤


Monday, 9 August 2021

Free Daily Class Schedule Cards

I am a firm believer that EVERY classroom should have a day plan posted on the board. It helps everyone know what is going on and what is coming up next. Student anxiety can lower when they have a predictable day.

Before I started putting a day schedule on the board students were constantly asking me what we were doing next. That had to stop REAL quick. 

I have gone through many versions of a day schedule from just writing it on the board with a whiteboard marker to having super fancy labels.

Here's What I Found

Writing it on the board each day took too much of my precious time and I was getting covered in whiteboard marker because I would try to save time and use my hand instead of a brush to clear the previous day. Also, I don't have the neatest printing/handwriting. Yes, not all teachers have that amazing, perfect printing that you admire about your primary level colleagues. lol

Next, I tried the fancy labels. While they did look cute at first there were days where I thought they looked to cluttered on the board. I like clean lines and the chevron AND polka dots (we all remember those trends) were very busy. Also the subject text was so small because I wanted to get in all the fancy borders and images that some kids could not read it from the back of the room. 

I am not judging you if you use these types of labels (they are some of the best sellers in my store) because I think they are stinking adorable. They just are not for me right now. Who knows maybe in a few years I will change my mind again. 

I've seen the schedule cards that have little clocks on them to show students what time they will be doing each activity. No pun intended but I do not have time to change the times everyday. We generally do the same activities at the same time of day but not always. 

What I Use Now

Now I use a very simple label that is a solid color with just the text.

You can print them on one color or multiple colors that compliment your room decor and they do not take up a bunch of printer ink.

I have the outside break times (recess, lunch, and home) on a their own color so students can easily see when they get a break. 

After I laminate them I attach magnets to the back so they will stick to the board. I did find that the magnets fell off the laminated surface pretty quickly so I covered them with packing tape and it works perfect!

I store them in a plastic container form the dollar store and put it on my board ledge. It is super easy, and quick (best part) to put up our new day schedule. 

Our Routine

Each morning, a different student tells us what the date is and then they read over our day schedule. If a student needs a little bit of help reading the labels, no problem. That is what I am there for. 

If I know right away that a student will struggle with reading them, I wait until later on the rotation to pick them to read. This way they will have seen and heard the words read numerous times and they will have more success with many of them.

For You!

If you want a FREE copy of the labels for your own classroom, here they are.

The file is on Google Slides so that you can completely customize them yourself. I have put in the labels I use, but you can easily change the font type and words. You can also make more labels that will suit your needs. 

The Slides are set up so they are printable at 8.5 x 11 size.

More Labeling Fun

If you love labels as much as I do and need (want) more free ones, here are the labels I use to organize the materials I have prepped for the week.

If you want to save this post for later, here is an image to pin to Pinterest. 



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