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Using the Periodic Table to Create Bulletin Boards

As many of you know, my husband teachers middle school science.  Together, this is our 80th year of teaching; so, you can tell that we both still love what we do. In fact, we can't imagine doing anything else.

Free Resource
My husband isn't one to do bulletin boards, never has been and never will be. My daughter (also a teacher) and I usually construct them for him. For many months now, I have been looking for individual tiles of the periodic table.  I saw a bulletin board on Pinterest (one of my favorite places to gather ideas) that I wanted to recreate for my husband's science lab.  I finally turned to Teachers Pay Teachers (where I should have gone in the first place) and asked in the Forum if anyone had such an item. I found that The Triple Point had just what I was looking for. It was a set containing 118 images (png) of Periodic Table tiles, one for each of the 118 elements. Since the resource was free, I downloaded it immediately.

After copy the individual tiles onto card stock and laminating them for durability, I laid out the bulletin board (see below). To be honest, my husband did staple everything onto the board as well as arrange the other items. Didn't he do a great job?


In case you can't read the meme in the middle, it says, "That will be $5.00 for the Electrons; the Neutrons are Free of Charge." After all, every classroom needs a bit of humor!

Give Reading A Helping Hand!

I believe the Conceptual Development Model should be constantly used when creating lessons for students, no matter what their age or grade level. (I even use it on the college level.) This particular model helps to bring structure and order to concepts found in almost any discipline. Here is an example of how I used the model in reading.

When I taught third grade, I noticed that my students often had difficulty identifying the different components of a story. I knew I needed a concrete/pictorial example that would help them to remember. Since we always had our hands with us, I decided to make something that would be worn on the hands. By associating the abstract story concepts with this concrete object, I hoped my third graders would make connections to help them visually organize a story's elements. I also suspected it would increase their ability to retell, summarize, and comprehend the story.

I purchased a pair of garden gloves and used fabric paint to write the five elements of a story on the fingers...**characters, setting, problem, events, and solution. In the middle of the glove I drew a heart and around it wrote, "The heart of the story." (theme) Towards the wrist was written "Author's Message." (What was the author saying?)

After we read a story, I would place the glove on my hand, and we would go through the parts of the story starting with the thumb or characters. (a person, animal, or imaginary creature in the story). We then proceeded to setting (where the story took place.) We did not progress through all the story elements every day, but would often focus on the specific part that was causing the most difficulty. The fun came when one of the children wore the glove (Yes, it was a little big, but they didn’t seem to mind) and became the "teacher” as the group discussed the story. As the student/teacher talked about each of the fingers, we would all use our bare hands without the glove.

I also made and copied smaller hands as story reminders. This hand would appear on worksheets, homework, bookmarks, desks, etc. Sometimes the hand contained all the elements; sometimes it was completely blank, and at other times only a few things would be missing. The hand became known as our famous and notorious Helping Hand.

Why would I allocate so much time to this part of the curriculum? Because…

1) If a student learned the elements of a story, then they understood and knew what was happening throughout the story.

2) If a child is aware of who the character(s) were, then they cab identify the character’s traits during the story.

3) If the child knows the setting of the story, then they recognize where an event was taking place.

4) If they know the problems that are taking place, then they can be a part of the story and feel like they are helping to solve it.

Such visual tools allow a teacher the flexibility to focus on one single story element or present a more complex or intricate view of all parts of a story. By knowing the components of a story, students are more engaged and connected to their reading. It’s as if they assimilate the story and become a part it. So, are you ready to Give Reading a Helping Hand in your classroom?

**The five parts of a story may be identified as introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution or other similar categories.

A Go Figure Debut for an Ohioan Who's New!

Today I feature another teacher from the great state of Ohio. Nancy has been teaching third grade for 22 years at the same rural school district. She is married and has one son. She enjoys traveling and photography. Since math is her favorite subject to teach, she was moved right to the top of my debut list. Her product ideas come from helping struggling students and creating hands-on activities so they can practice these skills.

She currently has 106 resources in her Teachers Pay Teachers store. Although she creates products for many subject areas, her emphasis is on math, most of which are suitable for grades 1-4.

Free Resource
Presently, Nancy has ten free products in her store. One of my favorites is entitled: Back to School: Stack and Solve Addition and Subtraction with Ballpark Estimates. It is a nine page resource booklet appropriate for grades 3-4. Students can practice adding and subtracting with regrouping while using ballpark estimates to check their work. Included are 24 cards, a recording sheet and an answer key.

Nancy's products are reasonably priced, but she also offers several bundles so that teachers can save even more money. One of those bundles is 64 pages and includes Line Plots: Build Them, and Line Plot Scavenger Hunt. Even though both items are sold separately, you save 20% by purchasing them in a bundle!

Just $6.00
The first part of this bundle is called Line Plots: Build Them. It contains four sets of line plot graphs. Each set has four task cards that are color coded for easy sorting. Also contained in the bundle is a blank line plot graph on which students can write the numbers with dry erase markers. Four task cards accompany this graph. Moreover, she has included a full page of task cards for projecting onto a board for a whole group activity.

The second portion of this bundle is called Line Plot Scavenger Hunt. Students move around the room solving 30 line plot cards. Students may work independently or with partners. Students should be familiar with finding the range and mode, and a calculator may be useful for some cards depending on the level of your students.

Additionally, Nancy has her own blog that is titled the same as her TPT store, Create, Learn, Explore. Her articles are well thought out as well as practical which means you can learn a great deal from her.


So take some time to check out Nancy's store and blog, and while you are there, be sure to download her free resource.


Setting Limits in the Classroom

One of the most practical books I have ever read is Setting Limits in the Classroom: A Complete Guide to Effective Classroom Management with a School-wide Discipline Plan (3rd Edition) by Robert J. Mackenzie. This year, many of our local schools are making it a require read and school wide book study. It will be used for daily group discussions as well as for application in the “real” classroom.

It is easy reading and contains many practical, no nonsense methods for classroom management that actually work. No theory here; just real life examples that can easily be applied in the classroom. Many of the chapters give effective ways to encourage the unmotivated child. (I'm sure that each year you have one or two sitting in your class.) It is a book worth purchasing, reading, and sharing. AND many of the suggestions carry over into managing your own children.

The paperback book can be purchased on Amazon.com for about $10.00. Mackenzie has written several books, one entitled: Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child: Eliminating Conflict by Establishing Clear, Firm, and Respectful Boundaries. I haven't read this one, but I wish it had been available when I was raising my first son!

The Best Laid Plans. . .

Lesson plans have always been an Achilles heel for me.  I have taught for so-o-o long, that how to teach the lesson as well as knowing the content is not an issue.  I always have a Plan B, C, and D ready - just in case.  I now teach on the college level where no one checks my plans; however, I still write an outline for the day so I know that I have covered the important points. 

My first job, when I retired from our local school system, was teaching math at a private school.  Mind you, I had been teaching math for over twenty years; yet, the administrator wanted me to do detailed plans which had to be turned in every Friday. I grudgingly did them, but would add little comments in the comment section. That space became my way of quietly venting; so, I would write such things as:  "So many lesson plans; so little time. Writing detailed plans is not time well spent.  To plan or to grade, that is the question.  I am aging quickly; so, I need to make succinct plans."

My supervisor finally relented and allowed me to do an outline form of plans. However, he visited often to observe my teaching, which I didn't mind.  At least he knew what was happening in my classroom.  I have learned from teaching and observing student teachers that anyone can come up with dynamite plans, but the question is: "Do the plans match what the teacher is doing in the classroom?"  Remember Madelyn Hunter?  Oh, how my student teachers hated her lesson plan design, but they did learn how to make a good plan. To this day, I still do many of the items such as a focus activity and a lesson reflection at the end.

Science Lesson Plans for a Week in October
As many of you know, my husband is a middle school science teacher. He is the "sci" part of my name. Anyway, he is in his 40th year of teaching, and he still does lesson plans - not the detailed ones we did our first couple of years of teaching, but plans he has. He divides one of his white boards into sections using colored electrical tape as seen in the illustration on the left.  He then writes what each class is doing for the week in a designated square. In this way, the principal, parents, and students know the content that will be covered. Even the substitute (he is rarely sick) has a general idea of the day's activities. If plans change, he simply erases and makes the necessary corrections.

So what kind of plans are you required to do?  Maybe there are no requirements for you, but do you still write plans?  Are they in outline form or just brief notes to yourself?  I am interested in knowing what you do; so, please participate in the poll on the left. OR leave a comment to share your thoughts.

Lesson Plan Templates
By the way, do you need a lesson plan that is easy to use, and yet is acceptable to turn into your principal or supervisor?  Check out my three lesson plan templates. One is a generic lesson plan; whereas, the other two are specifically designed for mathematics (elementary or secondary) and reading.  Checklists are featured on all three plans; hence, there is little writing for you to do. These lists include Bloom’s Taxonomy, multiple intelligences, lesson types, objectives, and cooperative learning structures. Just click under the resource cover.