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Friday, 4 December 2015


GIVEAWAY!!!! To celebrate the birth of my daughter and Christmas approaching I am giving away a bundle of Christmas products!

How to enter:
1) Like MrsAmy123 on Facebook (if you haven't already) www.facebook.com/mrsasmy123
2) Share the post pinned to the top of the Facebook page
3) Comment below the post pinned on my Facebook page
For an extra entry:
1) Tag a friend in the comments
Winner will be randomly selected Sunday 6th December AWST

Good luck!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Give Away!

Hop on over to my facebook page for my current giveaway. Up for grabs is one complete spelling package including word lists, activities, grids, posters and more! Over $20 value!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Flash Freebies in June

This month I will be randomly making some of my paid products free for a limited time (some will only be for a few hours!). These freebies will be announced on my facebook page and/or this blog. Make sure you are following both so you don't miss out!
The first one is my very popular job wheel! Find it here FREE for the next 12 hours only!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Dino ideas for Dinosaur theme!

I love dinosaurs as a class theme. Kids are always passionate about it (even if not a first) and it can be integrated into all subjects. Today I am going to share some of my best dinosaur lessons.

I like to start off with a KWL. Students discuss what they already KNOW about dinosaurs. I get them to choose one of the facts they are most sure of and write it on a B4 piece of paper and support it with a picture. Repeat this with what they WANT to know. It makes for a great presentation on the wall.

 Another really good wall presentation is silhouette sunsets. Students paint a sunset background on a half piece of A4 using a wash of paint (watered down or water colours). They then cut out silhouettes of dinosaurs and trees. This can be really fiddly but makes great fine motor practice. Ensure you instruct them on cutting tips and making sure they leave no white pieces. Tell them to take care while gluing to ensure each part is glued down and no pieces get ripped. 
The following activities are all available in my Dinosaur Pack.

Dinosaurs are a great topic to practice comprehension skills including learning how to write full sentence answers and finding answers for a range of question types. My pack contains 5 dinosaurs and an article on the pterodactyl and why it is not a dinosaur.

A great way to introduce dinosaur vocabulary is a word search. Discuss what the words mean and then students can complete the word search for fun.

Once students get to know about various dinosaur and their features they can design their own! Discuss how to label diagrams and then students practice their descriptive writing describing their dinosaur.

For a fun design lesson (Technology and Enterprise) students can use recyclable materials to recreate a chosen dinosaur. They must write a procedure for how to do so including a labeled diagram.

Integrate poetry by creating acrostic poems (based on research), a cinquain or haiku in the shape of a dinosaur or a shape poem. 

There are plenty of opportunities to link dinosaurs with writing including persuasive writing and narrative texts. Have students argue why dinosaurs should or shouldn't be alive today!

Saving the best for last is having students become paleontologists! Students create hand fossils as they learn about how fossils are created and then dig them up using tools like those of paleontologists. The procedure for hand fossils is available in the package. A great video to watch first on paleontology is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEyl2rRa2YY

Stay connected - follow this blog or go to www.facebook.com/mrsamy123 

Bonus idea for reading this far! Use chalk and 1m rules on a basketball court to map out the rough shape of a lifesize dinosaur to show their size to students. How many students tall were they? How many students could fit inside the dinosaur?

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Procedure Writing Unit

**This blog post has been so popular I have done an updated version here. **

When we think of the text types we need to teach to our class we first think narratives and persuasive. 
We chuck in some poetry, a letter or two and then maybe think about procedures.

I love teaching procedure writing! 

It is one of the most hands on and engaging text types and definitely a text type they will see and probably need to write later in life.
It can also be a gateway to teach so many other topics, cooking, measuring, verbs, adverbs, oral instructions and so much more!
Today I am going to share with you some fun lessons I like to do and you can find all the resources you need for them and many more exciting lessons all sequences into a complete unit in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Teach your students to be specific and thorough when writing procedures by getting them to write a procedure for making toast. Then allow them to make the toast following their instructions down to the letter! Oops, they forgot to push the toaster down? Sorry you'll have to have bread. The instructions says to put toast in the toast? Guess they want burnt toast! 
It can also be fun to get them to read their instructions to you and you follow them. So when they say put the butter on the toast, pick up the container and put it on the toast. Spread jam over the toast? Lather it on really thick or incredible thin.
It can be a great laugh for everyone and a meaningful lesson. 
Warning: The smell of toast cooking in a classroom will make you hungry!

Another lesson I love to do is take 4 different procedures for making paper planes and give one each to different group of students. One is an online video tutorial modelling how to make it, another has written instructions with clear pictures, the next a procedure with only words and last is only a picture of the final product. Groups then spend time making their plane. It doesn't take long for a few groups to become frustrated and the video tutorial group to finish. Discuss with students why some had trouble and others didn't and then get the finished students to help the others make a plane.
Sequencing activities are great introduction into procedures.
Teaching procedure writing also has a great lot to do with giving verbal instructions. I find barrier games a great introduction into instructions. Students partner up and are separated by a barrier. One partner makes a picture and then must describe their picture to their partner. They can not look at each others pictures until the very end. The closer the pictures the better the instructions and listening.

My barrier games come included in my Complete Procedure Writing Unit but you can Buy my barrier games separately here

A complete 10 week planner with succinct, easy to follow steps for each lesson and following the Gradual Release of Responsibility Framework. All worksheets, printable activities and an assessment rubric have been included. My procedure unit was written for year 3s but is easily adaptable for year 2 and 4.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Reporting Tips and Tricks

For most of us it's that time of year to start writing reports. Queue the sighs of thousands of teachers. But it really doesn't have to be an inordinately difficult or time consuming task.  
I am that teacher other teacher's hate. I make reporting look like a breeze and am usually one of the first to finish. Today I am sharing my secrets!

Good planning is the key to easy reports! Make sure you are regularly doing tasks that can double as assessments. Monitoring your students progress allows you to develop a feeling about each students grade level. It is also not fair on the students to expect them to do a lot of hardcore assessments all around the same time. Remember in uni when it seemed all your assessments were due at the same time? No one liked that!

2. Choose the Right Major Assessments
You will have to ask your students to do a few large tests right before reports are completed. Pick broad ones that encompass a lot. The results from these should support the grade level your students have been displaying already and be the evidence you place in assessment folders to show parents. My main assessments are an all round maths test (for year 3 semester 1 I use a past NAPLAN test as they complete this anyway for a practice, for semester 2 I use my specifically designed Year 3 ACARA test), PM Benchmark (running record) for reading, a writing sample (usually persuasive in semester 1), an observation sheet for speaking and listening and unit tests for all other subject areas. If linked to the curriculum they also become your comments!

3. Store Your Major Assessments in a File
My students have a portfolio that I store all major assessments in. These files are great to pull out to show students and/or parents how they are progressing and ....great to use to write your reports. Once all the key assessments are in there use these to write your report comments. Your comments need to show what students can and can't do but this does not need to come out of a variety of assessments. Save yourself lugging a hundred exercise/scrap books home or piles of paper.

4. Trust your gut!
No-one knows a students ability better then their teacher. You will know whether a child's performance in the major tests match their typical performance. Check your other assessment results if anything seems unusual or inconsistent. Moderate with other teachers to ensure your expectations of a C grade match others or check online samples for your state.

Yep, planning again! It really is the key! I plan out Term 2 to ensure I break up my reporting load evenly. You DO NOT want to leave it to the last minute. Below is my timeline and reasons why I do it in that order.

Term 2
Week 1- revise work from term 1 to get students brain juices flowing (assessing here would not produce accurate results)
Week 2- Start major assessments (I start PM bench marks first as these take a lot of time to complete)
               Complete Attitude, Behaviour and Efforts (I find starting with the easiest thing gets me into the reporting mind set and starting is always the hardest part)
Week 3 - Maths assessments (I write my maths comments first so it makes sense to do the maths assessment first)
               Begin writing general comments (I go to them next because you don't need assessments to write them. I also find them the hardest and most time consuming. More tips to come soon on making these easier to write)
Week 4 - Writing assessments
                Finish writing general comments (Allowing more then one week to write comments cuts you some slack if you have a busy week or just can't get into the frame of mind)
                Start writing maths comments
Week 5 - Finish writing maths comments
                Start English comments (I leave English to last as I find it is the subject students can change most in within a few weeks so leaving them to last makes them more accurate)
Week 6- Finish English comments
               Enter grades onto reporting system including effort
Week 7- Buffer week for anything not yet finished. Check everything is still accurate.
               Reports due at end of week

6. Stick to your Plan
Of course if you finish anything early bring up your schedule but try not to give yourself excuses to get behind.

I will be posting some specific tips for each subject area comment soon so follow this blog or like my facebook page

Monday, 27 April 2015

Mental Maths Sorting Strips

At the beginning of this term I did a blog post on my new approach to mental maths. Inspired by all the 'Number of the Day' posters that were popping up on Pinterest I did up my own. You can read my original blog post here: Number Crunch

The trial is over and the verdict is.....we all loved it.
Students were engaged and motivated. Their mental maths scores improved each week even when the questions got harder. They continually practiced learnt skills from the classroom. I especially loved that students could come in from recess and instantly get started on the task.

I like to mix it up and so this term I will be trialing yet another mental maths activity. This was inspired by classroomdiy who used pop sticks in a mental maths sorting activity. 

It has 50 mental math sorts, each containing 15 strips. That's enough for one per student, everyday for an entire term!

Each set of 10 sorts contain the same question types. Each set of 10 sorts get progressively harder.

Students are given a sort and must find the strip with start written on it. They then read the first question and find the next strip that has the answer on it. You may wish to time how long it takes the students to do each sort for extra challenge or motivation.

Print, laminate and cut the strips so that each strip contains an answer and a question. Store each sort with an elastic band or in a zip lock bag. Each sort is a different colour and/or background so if any of the pieces go wandering it should be easy to find which set it belongs to. 

Print two or four to a page to act as answer keys for students to mark their own work.

Suitable for grades 2 through 4.
P.S It's half price for the first 48 hours so get in quick!

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Storage in the Classroom

Finding a system to organise all your teacher resources can be tricky. Trust me though, when you finally find the right system- everything becomes easier!

I trialed many different ways of storing games but this is by far the easiest to keep organised. This is a special tub for file dividers- it has grooves along the side to hold them in properly. I label each divider and then place each game inside in a zip lock bag. Some of the bags get pretty thick but the file dividers are able to cater for that. These tubs also come with very sturdy lids so you can pile them high! Sometimes I take out particular games, other times I take out whole files. TIP: Sticky tape the labels in place so they don't fall out!

Fold-able storage boxes are great for lighter items. Have a couple of them flat packed in the cupboard and pull them out as needed. I like them for storing paper offcuts (scrap box) and recyclable resources.

Containers are fantastic in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I love little ones to store knickknacks. Here are some storing my guided reading resources. Click here to read my post on guided reading.

For my weekly resources I use these wheelie draws. Each one is labeled with a subject. I used to have a concertina file with each day of the week labeled but I found that difficult on the weeks where I was prepared more then a week in advance and booklets are too big for them. I use the bottom few draws for certificates, student notes and original sheets to come home and be filed.

I use the hanging canvas pockets for notes and work to be sent home and work needing to be finished. My brother made these for me.

I stole the next idea off of a fellow teacher and wanted it in my classroom simply because of how pretty it looks! This is just a clear set of draws that I keep A4 paper in. 

For A3 paper I used the box some A3 Blank paper came in and I pushed in one of the sides so I can see the colour choice at a glance. I just lift up the paper to pull out a particular piece.

It wasn't until a few years after I started teaching that I finally got all my paper resources out of big piles and organised.  I have lever arch files for my general subject areas. I made up labels and have the files colour coded according to the colour ACARA has assigned the subjects.

Inside the files I use A4 sleeves. Some sleeves contain multiple sheets and some only contain one. It depends on how similar the sheets are and my likelihood of using them.  I use sticky tab labels down the side to section each lever arch out more. Unit plans are really easy to lift out and put into my planning files at school.

I use display files for my theme resources so I can just take a single display file into school when we change topics. 

I hope you found some helpful organisation ideas! Good luck organising!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Guided Reading Setup, Tips and Tricks!

Guided Reading is all the rage right now. Most schools seem to be mandating it as a whole school strategy and that was the case for mine last year.
I had done reading groups before and always felt I spent more time doing behaviour management than actual teaching. But I believe in whole school approaches so through trial, error and research I have finally got guided reading working for me.

Set up
This is my guided reading station (and my main desk area). I love the horseshoe desk so much, the practicality of it is endless and if you are doing guided reading without one you are really missing out. I currently keep the book for each group in a white bookshelf behind my desk although I will eventually gets tubs (when I can find one style in 5 different colours).

I have all my guided reading resources on the top two shelves behind me organised in containers.
In small tubs I keep motivation tools. 

Witches fingers are great. I got a ten pack off eBay for less than $5.00. 

Magnifying glasses are very exciting for students and I got a set for less than $10.

Pointers can be as simple as fun pictures on popsticks. I got these zombie pictures from Ainslee Labs on TPT.

These questions fans come from Runde's Room. I purchased the bundle so I got 6 different sets. I love them because all the questions are sorted into categories. I never struggle to think of questions and I ensure I am covering a concept in depth.
Laminated card and whiteboard markers are great for any written work. Do yourself a favour and get magic erasers (bulk buy on eBay) for rubbing work off- 10 times as quick and easy as a tissue or cloth)

I also love this resource for assisting your students with reading problems. 

For term 1 I have a different strategy for each week that all groups cover. In term 2 I get more targeted with each group, focusing on their specific needs. 
My current planning document is a simple table that has the group names and days of the week as headers. Each section explains what they are doing at each activity and a comments column at the end. I hope to take this to a higher standard soon.


While I am with my guided reading group I like to have the rest of my students in groups. They rotate through 4 activities each week. I use the chart above to show students which group they are in and what their group is doing. The chart has blue tacked names so I can easily change the groups based on student needs. All the pieces are laminated so I change the activities as needed. I have either 4 or 5 groups depending on student needs. When I have 5 groups I still only run it 4 times a week but while my top group is reading their text my weakest group is with me, then they swap and the weaker group re-reads their text.
By having the chart I am able to tell my students to go straight to their activity without any instruction time, 

Other Students
I change the activities the rest of the class are doing on an as needed basis. This term the other group activities are as follows:
SRA Comprehension box: Those good old leveled cards that students work through. Ensure you check on the students every now and again to see what pace students are working through the cards.
Computer/iPad based: For term 1 students have to do interactive comprehension texts on Studyladder. Its a great program, it's free and has a wealth of activities. Each student has their own log on and you can set tasks for the class and see results. In term 2 I pick a more targeted text or activity for them to complete.
Oral Reading: My biggest hate of guided reading is the lack of oral reading (did you know the reading part of guided reading is meant to be silent?). To ensure students are practicing this important skill I give them an easy text (independent level 95% + accuracy) and a voice card. Students attempt to read in the given voice and then vote on the best voice. The best voice presents to the class and receives a reward for public reading. On the last day all the winners read and an overall winner is announced. In my experience the people change week to week. I got my voice reading cards from here and here. (they are in the picture behind the pointers).

Tips and Tricks
  • Make sure the other students are completing activities that have a high level of accountability i.e. easy to check to see if they did what was required.
  • Have as many of the other activities as independent as possible- don't sit students together when they are working on independent tasks.
  • Discuss with students the noise requirements. I use ninja mode. Students have to sneak around like ninjas making no sound (think ninja turtles) and sometimes I will pick the ultimate ninja for a reward. This could also be called mouse mode. 
  • Noise level apps are also great - provide students a reward if they stay under a certain noise level. 
  • Wear an accessory when doing guided reading groups and explain to students that when you have that on they are not to come to you.
  • Keep sessions short- this will ensure students are on task and don't get bored.
  • Teach independence and problem solving strategies. What should they do if they get stuck while you are with a guided reading group?

That's how I make guided reading work for me. Hope you found some useful tips!