Saturday, 13 August 2022

The Benefits of Using Printable Student Planners

 Do you want to help your students work on their organization skills and at the same time open up communication with families? I have the answer for you... 


Over the years I have always had my students use a planner, daily,  and I have notice many benefits of them. These benefits only come when the use of planner is routine and predictable. 

Here are my top 5 benefits (the last 2 are the BIGGEST ones) of weekly student planners.

1) Tracking Goals:

A printable planner is the perfect place for students to track their goals. These goals can be directly related to academics or to do with their extracurricular lives. 

Having a place to jot down the goals and to look back and see how they are doing (and make adjustments if needed) is a great life skill for students to start doing at a young age. The younger the students are the more guidance they will need.

By putting goals and progress in the planner, students will be able to share them with teachers and family members without having to remember them or write them in more than 1 place.

2) Habit Building: 

When teachers have students take the time to write in a planner each day they are helping students build healthy habits for future academic/work/life success. 

As students move on in their education and they are having stricter due dates or more assigments, it is imperative to their success that they have some sort of planning organizational skills. Let's start building this habit early.

3) Improves Student Responsibility:

It is important that we start allowing students to take ownership for their learning and success. One of those ways is to give them the small task of taking care of their planner and using it daily.

My students are responsible for bringing it back and forth from home and school everyday. Of course, they are not perfect (who is?) and will need some help with this. No one is innately born to do these things so teaching and patience is required.

I do get those students that say "My mom forgot to put my planner in my backpack." I then remind them that it is not their mom's responsiblity to keep track of the planner but it is theirs."

At the beginning of the year, I have family members help students write down important events or extra curricular activities in the planner so students can use these reminders to help them plan around. If they know they have baseball practice 3x a week, they can use that information to determine when they will have time to complete homework, get forms signed, or practice skills. 

Some years, I include a reading log in the planner and it is the student's responsiblity to fill out the entries each time they read. I don't get parents to sign them so it is solely a student task. One more smaller task to build responsibility. 

4.) Building Organization Skills:

As I've mentioned, organization skills do not come easily to students and they need a systematic approach to learning these skills. 

Every afternoon, we have the same routine of coming back from the gym and then students get out their planners to write in. At the beginning of the year, there are lots of reminders to get the planner and I tell them what to write each day. 

Slowly I release that control and they take it upon themselves to decide what is important to write. This cannot be done until they have the skills to know what will help them with organization and planning.

Many studies have shown that when students write information down they are more likely to remember it. Great news for those using printable student agendas.

Now a days, students have so many commitements with school and extra curricular activities (and work when older) that staying organized is an important life skill.

5.) Communication Tool:

To me this is the most beneficial part of using student planners, especially in elementary school.

Parents and teachers have busy lives and do not always have the time to make a phone call or send an email.

In my planner I have a place for home-school communications where notes can be sent back and forth. 

The notes usually consist of reminders of appointments, notes about stuff sent back to school, happy notes about the student, etc.

If I am using this space as a daily check in on student behaviours, those are always agreed up before hand at a phone or in-person meeting. It is important to me that the planner does not become a place of negative messages. No student is going to remember their planner book if they know it will only be filled with negativity. 

Here's the Printable Student Planner I Use!

Included are yearly, monthly, and weekly calendar pages that you can use how you see fit.

If there are specific school events, holidays, etc that you know of before you print the monthly planner pages, those can all be added beforehand with the editable pages. 

Academic Planner Features:

An added bonus to the planner I use with my students is that it includes reference tools that student can use throughout the day or with their homework.

There are different reference pages to pick from. Primary or Intermediate Math and Canadian or American references.

Students can learn interesting facts about random stuff by looking at the bottom of the weekly planner pages. The facts include everything from planets, to different foods, to animal facts, technology facts, and so much more.

If you have your students do spelling there is a place each week to record their words and make a goal for themselves. The times I have not done spelling, I have had students use this place to record interesting, or new, words they find while reading. 

Every year I have student that I taught the previous year (yay for split and I wanted to change things up for them so I have created multiple covers and designs to use.

These covers are editable so you can personalize with your students' names and even add the school name if you like!

How to Assemble the Student Planners:

After all the pages you want to use are printed out, you have a decision to make on how you want to bind them.

  1. You can laminate the covers and then spiral bind them. Your local stationary store is a great place to do this if you don't have a binding machine.
  2. You can hole punch them and put them in binders. This may be pretty bulky to bring back and forth to school though.
  3. You can put them in a 3 prong folder. This is what I personally do.
If I have access to the plastic folder covers I will get those because they can be easily cleaned. 

Inside the folder, I put a plastic sheet protector to store any notices or loose papers that are going home.

Then go in the cover, reference pages and weekly planner pages. It is beneficial to print off a term at a time so the planner is not too big.

If you want to take a look at how I set mine up, here is a quick video. I am not a video expert so this is VERY amateur 😉

Bonus Feature!

If I student happens to lose their planner, it is very easy to just print them off a new one. No having to check to see if the office has extras. No having to collect money from the students for the more expensive planner books. 

How to Get the Printable Student Planner:

To get the planner or look more closely at all the features, just click the link right here. 

I Almost Forgot!

Oops! I almost forgot to tell you that the student planner is updated EVERY YEAR with new dates (and sometimes new cover designs)!

Purchase it once and you will have it year after year to use with your new students.

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

I would love to hear in the comments what benefits you have seen in your students from using planners or what features you love to have in your student planners. 


Sunday, 24 October 2021

Free Halloween Addition and Subtraction

Are you looking for some addition and subtraction practice pages?

I love using the holidays as a way to engage students in practicing their math skills. Halloween is my favourite holiday so of course I want to bring it into the classroom.

These printable Halloween worksheets allow students to practice 4-digit addition and subtraction skills and at the same time decode a fun Halloween riddle.

All the equations have regrouping in them. The first page focuses on 4-digit addition and the second page focuses on 4-digit subtraction. 

I have also included the answer keys to make marking easy for you. Often times, I will even have students mark their own work using the answer keys. Win win for everyone. You get more time to work with students and students feel important for getting to use the answer key.

Are you ready to download the FREE worksheets?

No need to go anywhere else. Just click the button below and you will instantly have the Halloween worksheets to print. 

Looking for More Halloween Activities?

If your students are as obsessed with Boom cards as mine are you will want to check out my latest Halloween Boom cards which focus on one step equations for addition and subtraction.

These let me students practice adding and subtracting facts to 20 as they find the unknown number in the equations. 

Do your students need more practice with multiplication facts? These Ghoulish Multiplication centers are an exciting way to practice multiplication facts!

Included are 2 different math centers using the colourful eyeballs. 

Cheers & Happy Halloween,

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Oil Pastel Printmaking Art Project

Oil Pastel Art Lessons for 3rd - 6th Grade

Oil pastels are one of the art supplies I love using to teach students about blending colors. They also make excellent supplies for printmaking.

If you get a good quality oil pastel, that does not dry too quickly, your students can be in awe when they transfer the pastel to another page. This art lesson is based on just that --- printmaking and color choice.

Images to Use

For this post I will be using the Indigenous prints my students completed but you can do this with any images that have a mix of bold black areas and thinner lines as are in these examples. 

One year I did this and my students loved it so much they wanted to make a print for Father's Day. They found images that their dad would like and I printed the image for them to do. We framed them with Dollar store frames and sent them home. 

Really the possibilities are endless. 

I cannot share with you these images because of copyright. However, you can get images from a quick Google search that you can use for personal projects.

Time Needed to Complete

We usually end up working on this for 2-3, 45 minute art periods. I tell my students I would rather they take their time and do a good job than to rush it. 

Few art supplies needed.

I'm not exaggerating when I say you need only a few supplies to complete these prints. Here is what you need:

  • oil pastels (I prefer 1 box/student but they can share if need be)
  • 1 blank 8.5x11 piece of paper per student (I use regular blank paper. Nothing fancy)
  • pencil (not too sharp but not too dull)
  • print out of the designs you are wanting to use
  • stapler and staples
  • colored paper, card stock, or construction paper for background frame

Step By Step Instructions

1.) Print off the images you want your students to use. Make sure the image does not go all the way to the edge of a 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. 
2.) Have students pick their image and then turn the paper over and draw a ring around the outside of the shape. Explain to students that they are to only put oil pastels inside that ring. This stops oil pastel from unnecessarily transferring to the other paper when they are working. 

3.) Students will now put a thick layer of oil pastel on the back of their image. Have them continue to add color onside the ringed shape until NO WHITE is showing. If there is white it will not transfer when doing the printmaking. 
4.) Once students have completed their color blocking, staple a clear white piece of paper to the back of their image page. I staple very closely to the edge and I do all 4 corners. This will keep the image in place as they are working. 

5.) Now it is time for the print transfer. Students should use a pencil that is not too sharp (it may poke a hole in paper) but also not too dull. They will begin in one area and pressing firmly, color over the image with their pencil. I tell them to do small sections at a time and to make sure they color over EVERY part of the black part of their image. We talk about outlining the section they are coloring so the print on the other paper has crisp edge lines. 

You can see in these next 2 pictures the difference between crisp outlines and "scratchy" outlines. 

6.) Once all sections of the black image is complete (Watch for those small detail sections. They are easy to miss) carefully remove the staples and take off the black image paper. I then have students create a color block of pastel on that paper and place it on the printmaking page to write their name.

7.) Students then pick a colored piece of paper to create a frame. I have them glue their image in the middle of the colored paper and then I trim with a  paper cutter if needed. 

More Student Examples

Creating the Bulletin Board Display

When I make the bulletin board display I add signs that tell about each animal. We go over these before students choose their image. If you are using different images for the printmaking, you would skip adding these signs. 

Other Ideas:

If you feel your students need some practice with the oil pastel printmaking before they start a bigger project like this one, have them practice with their initial. I print off their initials using different fonts. They get so excited to see their initials in fancy colors. 

Students can write a story or poem about their image and this can be added to the bulletin board. 

Share your projects

I would love to see how your students did and celebrate their art work. Share on social media and tag me (@terristeachingtreasures) so I can comment on your students masterpieces. 

If you want to save this for later, here is a picture for Pinterest.


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.

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