Friday, November 23, 2012

While you're busy doing your holiday shopping this weekend, don't forget to treat yourself on Cyber Monday to some great products for your classroom that will save you time and spice up learning in your classroom.  The Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Monday sale will be in full swing on Monday and Tuesday, the 26th and 27th.  My entire store will be discounted 20%.  Then, when you check out, enter promo code CMT12 to get an additional 10% off. Enjoy!

Monday, November 12, 2012

First of all, a big thank you to all current military personnel and their families, as well as all veterans, on this Veteran's Day.  I am so grateful to all of you, and grateful for this great nation.  I am so proud of my dad for his service during the Korean War.

The journey into Common Core Math Standards has been interesting, to say the least.  It has been fustrating, as we have tried to shift gears in the way we think about math, and the things we expect of students.  We are using "GO MATH!" for the first time this year.  My kiddos have had a struggle with all the problem solving.  We have not, in the past, expected them to THINK so much!  They are beginning to get a little better at it.  I know it will be a process.  I am anxious to see how our American kids, overall, do with math in the next few years.  There are some things about the Common Core standards that I really like.  I think the shift toward more problem solving is good.  I think that emphasizing fewer topics and going more in depth is good.  I have to admit I'm a little worried about some of the things that seem to have been left out.  Topics that were a big part of our third grade math curriculum previously, seem to have just disappeared. . POOF!  We no longer directly teach place value, for instance.  Maybe with the emphasis in first and second grade, there will no longer be that need. . . .we shall see.
I was asked a question today on my Teachers Pay Teachers page that is a very good question, indeed.  I created a quadrilaterals unit, based on the Common Core Standards.  A teacher who bought that unit wondered why I included trapezoids, rectangles, squares, rhombi, but not parallelograms.  The answer is that the word parallelogram is not used in the Common Core.  I don't know if that's good or bad.  It's one less definition to remember, but also one less classification to use in making sense of quadrilaterals.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Two new blog give-aways that I'm excited to contribute to:
200 Follower Giveaway Button.JPG

Swing by and sign up!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

 We are implementing the common core standards for math this year AND have a new math program. We are having to take math one lesson at a time as we watch this unroll and try to figure out how everything is going to work together.  It's a little unsettling.  In the past, we've had our math units and lessons mapped out for the year, and have had a pretty good idea of how much time we will need to spend on each.  Of course, we made adjustments as each unit progressed, in order to provide the instructional and practice time that students needed. 
  I was dismayed to see that the new math program taught rounding to nearest ten and hundred in lesson 2 of chapter 1.  I'm convinced that people who write text books don't teach children.  Really?  They think kids who have never heard of rounded numbers can master rounding to tens and hundreds in one lesson? And the second lesson, no less?   Laughable! Needless to say, that one lesson stretched over a couple of weeks!
  I've tried many different approaches to teaching rounding over the years.  No matter how you approach it, it takes some time for kids to master.  It seems that once they get it, they get it.  But until they do, you go through it over and over.  In desperation, during that first week of school, I turned to something I started last year, and then I expanded on it.  The Rounding Robot were born! I introduced my kids to two of my creations--the Strong Man and the Wimpy Guy of rounding.  Using two different power points, classroom posters, and a set of practice worksheets, I finally got through to those kiddos who just didn't get it. 
  My Rounding Robots powerpoints and printables are available here:

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Literacy Give-away

I 'd like to invite you to visit Creation Castle's blog to sign up for a great give-away of literacy resources!

My unit for Kevin Henkes book Chrysanthemum is part of the third grade give-away.  Sign up today!

Disadvantaged and Under-achieving Students

I teach at a Title 1 school.  Many of our students come from difficult circumstances.  We are always looking for strategies to help boost these kids and give them a better chance at being successful in school and in life.   Below is a list of little things that can make a big difference.

Disadvangated and Under-achieving Children
1.  Disadvantage and under-achieving children need more time on task.
2.  Structure and routines are vital for their sense of safety, nourishment, and care.
3.  Disadvantaged and under-achieving children need background knowledge.  Do not assume they have a great deal of background knowledge or conceptual knowledge.
4.  Disadvantaged and under-achieving children do not have a strong oral language foundation.  Vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary!
5.  Disadvantaged and under-achieving children need more intensity and multiple practices.
6.  Disadvantaged and under-achieving children are highly distractible. Maximizing learning begins with minimizing distractions.
7.  Disadvantaged and under-achieving children need a lot of feedback.

And this from a Solution Tree pamphlet: “At the center of learning is uncompromised, no-nonsense literacy instruction.” 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

How NOT to Liven Up a Math Lesson

Sigh of relief!  I am always so glad when the new school year is underway, the routines have been taught, and we’ve settled in.  The first few weeks of school this year seemed especially hectic, perhaps because we got a new math program, which we are still trying to figure out, and we have larger classes than last year—each of us on the third grade team with a full share of students whose needs require extra attention.  Last Thursday, I did the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done in the classroom—I tripped over a student’s chair and fell down.  I tried to save myself as I went down, to no avail.  I went down on my back and just laid there for a few seconds.  Kids started yelling, “Is she dead, is she dead?”  You can imagine the uproar.  Lying there on my back on the floor, I said, “No, I’m not dead, just really embarrassed.”  Well, that really enlivened the math lesson!  I think I’ll try to find simpler ways to bring excitement to the lesson next time!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers Back to School Sale

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a Back to School sale on August 12 and 13.  All items in my store will be 15% off.  Use coupon code BTS12 for an additional 10% off at check-out.  I invite you to take a look at new products I posted this summer:

And also these previously posted products that have revised and improved:

Back to School

Well, it's time.  The summer has flown by.  It's time to shake off the cobwebs and get back to it!  For me, this is the 35th time I've been on the teacher side of "Back to School".  It is always a little bitter-sweet.  Summer is just so wonderful, with a relaxed attitude and schedule, but it is so exciting and fun to start again with a whole classroom full of new possibilities.  I don't know any other profession that has so many opportunities to "start". 

One thing that really helps with the craziness of starting over, is to have a standard back to school to-do list.  You know, the things that you need to do every year, but since you only do them once a year, it's easy to forget.  Things like supplies to get from office, copying your parent info packet, making desk top name tags, etc.

I also like to have some items calendared for the entire year.  I always make a year-long plan for my small-group reading instruction.  I select comprehension skill to be emphasized, the reading text that will be used (a combination of selections from 3 different reading basals and various trade books), and determine how many days will be spent on the lesson.  By the way, I don't believe in ever throwing away basal reading texts.  You can ALWAYS use the selections from basal readers.

I usually have a math calendar in place, as well.  This is based on the pacing guide from my district, and core concepts and skills that drive the curriculum.  This year, we will have a new math program, Go Math! and I have not yet received the pacing guide.  That will come next week.  I'm anxious to get the plan laid out for the year.  For me, it is so helpful to have these major pieces of my planning in place for the year.  When I finish a unit, I don't spend any time wondering what to do next.  That is already decided.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Sale

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!  In reality, every week should be Teacher Appreciation Week. Teachers are miracle workers--doing so much for so many, with so little.  My hat's off to you all.  I invite you to take advantage of the great sale going on at Teachers Pay Teachers in honor of teacher appreciation.  My entire store will be discounted 20% from May 6 to May 8.  When checking out, enter code TAD12 for an additional 10% off, for total savings of 28%! 
Take a look at my new unit on adjectives--a good balance of paper/pencil practice and fun activities.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Importance of Handwriting Instruction

A few weeks ago, our district had a training session with Anita Archer.  The topic was “Written Expression Instruction”.  There were so many ideas and methods presented, all of them immediately accessible to teachers for use in the classroom.  I was glad and impressed to hear Ms. Archer address handwriting as a foundational skill for success in writing.  I have known primary grade teachers who spend no time teaching handwriting and I have wondered how they ever expect children to become fluent, productive writers if the mechanics are not mastered first.  Ms. Archer discussed the importance of writing fluency as a foundation for self-expression, just as reading fluency is the foundation for comprehension.  Here are some quotes from the materials Ms. Archer presented:

“Children who experience difficulty mastering this skill may avoid writing and develop a mindset that they cannot write, leading to arrested writing development.” (Graham, Harris, and Fink, 2000)

“If students have to struggle to remember letter forms, their ability to express themselves suffers. Handwriting must be automatic.”  (Graham, 2007)

“Fluent, accurate letter formation and spelling are associated with students’ production of longer and better-organized compositions.” (Beminger, Vaughan, Abbott, Abbott, Brooks, Regan, Reed & Graham, 1997)

“Measures of handwriting speed among elementary students are good predictors of quality and quantity of written products in middle school.”  (Peverly, 2007)

The bottom line is, handwriting instruction matters!  Students benefit from explicit instruction on how to form and fluently write letters of the alphabet!  As a third grade teacher, I spend a fair amount of time teachings students to write in cursive and then practicing to build fluency.  When students come to me with correct letter formation of the manuscript alphabet, the transition to cursive is much easier.  When students are not fluent in correctly forming manuscript, cursive is a real challenge.  I SO appreciate K-2 teachers who send me students who have good handwriting skills!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Wisdom of Suess

At this point in the year, most of us are probably gearing up for test prep and high-stakes testing.  It is stressful and just not as joyful as teaching should be.  While I understand the need for testing, I do not understand giving such importance to a single snapshot of growth and achievement.  So many edicts coming down from law-makers and boards of education seem to be designed to crush the spirit of teaching.  I'd like to share with you some words of wisdom from that wisest of all authors, Dr. Suess.  Hope they will give you some encouragement and something to smile about!

Today you are you, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is youer than you.

Why fit in when you were born to stand out?

You'll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.

Think and wonder, wonder and think.

You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.  You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

Everything stinks til it's finished.

Will you succeed?  Yes you will indeed!  Ninety-eight and three-quarters percent guaranteed!

Step with care and great tact.  And remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Unicorn's Quest

I just finished reading The Unicorn's Quest by Jonathan Soule to my
class.  (PublishAmerica 2006 -Paperback 185 pages ISBN 1424124913).  
I have read it to my class each year for the past four years or so and the
kids love it every year.  I was introduced to this book through a colleague
who personally knows the author.  The book is not widely published, but
it is definitely worth the time to find it.  It is set in the fantastical world of
Tanzal, which is engulfed in a battle between good and evil. The main
character is Alyssa, who is drawn into this world and this battle along with
her brother Brett, during a juxtaposition between Earth and Tanzal.  There
are, throughout the book, a few spelling and grammatical errors, but the
story is so engaging that the errors can be over looked.  We invite Jonathan
Soule to visit our third graders every year and talk about the story, the
 process of writing, andwhere his inspiration came from.  There are a
whole lot of young fans (and some older ones) anxiously awaiting
the sequel to this exciting story!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Leap Day Sale at Teachers Pay Teachers

Leap Day comes but once every four years.  Don't miss the Leap Day Sale at Teachers Pay Teachers.  My entire store is discounted 20% for this one day.  Plus, enter L2P9Y at checkout for another 10% in savings--a total of 28%!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Organizing and Managing Your Classroom Library

There are a zillion different ways to organize and manage your classroom library.  The most important thing is making it accessible and inviting to students.  I try to provide a wide variety of reading levels, topics, genres, and authors so there is something for everyone.  I buy paperbacks for my class library, but always reinforce the binding by stapling with a heavy-duty stapler, and then putting book tape on the spine, extending part way onto the front and back covers.  I then write, inside the back cover, the reading level, quiz number, and point value.  (We use AR at my school.)  I add a label to the front of the book or inside the front cover that says, "This book belongs to Mrs. Lindley".  I arrange my books by reading level.  My third graders are still learning how to choose books that they can both read and enjoy, so I am always encouraging them to read books "on their level".  Our school media specialist has a system she uses in the media center with color-coded dots on the spine of the book indicating AR reading levels.  She has been willing to give teachers the color-coded dot labels for their own class libraries, so my color system matches the media center. I have colored bins matching the colored dots.  The books are placed in the bins, covers facing forward.  So when a child needs a new reading book, s/he goes to the colored bin that matches reading level and flips through the books.  My kids are allowed to have two books from the class library at any given time.  I don't use an actual check-out system, but many teachers do.  I give each child a large ziplock baggie.  The rule is, if you put a book from the class library in your desk, it has to be in the baggie.  No books from the class library are allowed in desks without the protection of a baggie.  I have two classroom helpers whose job is to check at the end of each day and make sure the books in the class library are in order.  My system is simple, but it has worked very well  My class library is very popular with my kids.  One of the things I love about third grade is watching kids turn into readers.  During the year, many of them discover chapter books, and are thrilled when they find they can read it from cover to cover and love it.  Please leave comments sharing tips and ideas about managing your classroom library!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A big thank you to Victoria Leon at The Best of Teachers Pay Teachers blog for nominating Third Grade Etc. for the Liebster Blog award.

The Liebster Award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve.  Liebster is a German word meaning "dearest".
In order to accept the award, the blog owner must do the following:

  1. Copy and paste the award on our blog.
  2. Link back to the blogger who gave us the award.
  3. Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have been nominated.
  4. Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs.

I am pleased to accept this award and would like to pass it along to the following great blogs:

Mandy's Tips 4 Teachers
Terri's Teaching Treasures
Classroom Confections
Debbie's Dabblings
Beg, Borrow, and Teach

Take a look at these great blogs.  Another big thank you to The Best of Teachers Pay Teachers!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Building a Classroom Library

Having a classroom library of several hundred titles makes good sense for teachers who are trying to inspire children to become readers.  It is also backed by all kinds of research as being an important piece of the literacy puzzle.  It is not often, though, that teachers are given the funds to build a class library.  It is one of those things that we figure out on our own and work toward, step by step.  It is very rare to find a "new" teacher with a full class library in place.  There are ways to add books, though sometimes we need to get creative.  Below are a few suggestions.
* Probably the easiest way to add to your class library is to take advantage of all the freebies offered by bookclubs.  I don't believe in pressuring students or parents to order books, but I send home the flyers and provide the opportunity.  Use bonus points, free book coupons, and other offers to get classroom books.
* Ask for donations of used books as parents clean out closets, bookshelves, etc, at home.  You will get some books that you can't use, just pass these along to a thrift store or other worthy cause, and keep the books that your class can use.
*Look for grant opportunities.  In my district, the Education Foundation has an annual "Tools for Schools" mini grant of $200 that is available to every teacher, every year.  We just have to have a plan, fill out the form, meet the guidelines and deadline, and the money is ours.  I buy books with it almost every year.
*When you do have money to spend, shop around and look for the best prices.  One of my favorite sources for classroom books is  They have very competitive prices and great customer service.
*When parents, PTA, or others ask for suggestions for getting  you a gift, suggest a gift card for a local bookstore or online source.
*Keep an eye out for book sales at public libraries in your community.  As they weed out their collections, they sell books for very minimal prices.  You may find some that will fit right into your class library.

I hope you found something in my list of suggestions that sparked an idea.  My class library is a huge asset in my room.  In further postings, I'll discuss ideas for organizing, labeling, and checking out books.  Til then--happy teaching!