5 Fun Ways to get Students Engaged in Reading Aloud

Hi everyone! I'm Mary Beth from Brain Waves Instruction and I'm so happy to be sharing ideas with you all today.  Rachel, thanks for letting me stop by!
Like most teachers, I'm constantly on the hunt for engaging ways to help students become more confident, effective, and critical readers.  Sometimes, I even go "old-school" and have my students read passages out loud in class...but reading out loud isn't always motivating for students. 

There are lots of benefits to reading aloud like improving fluency, facilitating cooperative learning, increasing attention spans, promoting deep discussions, building community and closely reading texts. However, many times when I ask students to read out loud in class or small groups, I'm met with grumbles OR enthusiastic participation from the same three students. This reaction to reading aloud got me thinking that there must be a better way to engage students in reading aloud. Over the years, I've found that these ideas do just that...
1.  Fun Chair
All you need for this read aloud activity is a circle of chairs and one really fun chair. In my classroom, the fun chair can be the famous "orange chair" that doubles as my favorite homework motivator, my comfy teacher chair, an Adirondack chair, or any other unusual chair I can find. Of course, all the students want to sit in the fun chair...and they can...when they read aloud.  
We start this activity once all the kids are sitting in a circle.  One lucky student sits in the fun chair and starts reading aloud, first. Then, when he or she is finished all the kids move over one seat and the next fun-chair-reader begins. It's an easy reading activity and students love getting up and moving, too!
2.  Silly Reading Tasks
My kids go nuts over the basket of silly reading tasks. It's filled with funny ways to read out loud. Everything from "read really slowly" to "read like you're underwater." I typically bring out the silly reading tasks when students are already familiar with a passage or I want to do a bit of a reread before moving on. It's also super fun to do with small groups, or as a choral reading activity. 
FYI: I've prepared a free resource of these tasks and others that you can find HERE if you'd like to try them in your classroom.
3. Spontaneous Reading
Oh, this is one of my students' favorite ways to read out loud in class.  The first step is to have all students sit on top of their desks with the reading passage in their hands.  Then, simply explain that you will no longer be directing, selecting, or monitoring the read aloud of the text.  That's right, the kids are in complete control.  
Explain that once you say "start" someone, anyone can start reading.  Then, when the next person wants to read he or she should just pipe in.  If two or more students start reading at once, they'll just need to work it out (without any words).  Typically, one person continues on and then the next student starts up a bit later.  It's a pretty magical way to read.  I'm always surprised by who reads (usually everyone), how much they read, and how often.  It's spontaneous and so fun!
4.  Mystery Word
On the days when I can't get more than a handful of students to volunteer to read in class, I bring out my mystery word envelope.  In the envelope I stick a piece of paper with a word written on it that the students will encounter during the class's reading for the day.  Then, I explain that the student who happens to read the mystery word will receive a homework pass (or other prize).  All they have to do is read.  Then, while students are reading I pay special attention to the student that actually reads the mystery word.  Finally, at the end of the passage, I reveal the mystery word from the envelope and reward the reading winner.  It amps up the number of student volunteers every time!  
(Resources for this strategy can be found HERE.)
5.  Reading Dice
Reading dice are a super fun to bring out when students are reading with a partner or in small groups. I have several versions of the dice to use with different types of passages. Students love rolling their reading fate and I love how engaged they are in reading!  
Each of these ideas have been successful additions to the reading instruction in my classroom. I hope you'll find that your students become more confident, engaged, and effective readers in your classroom, too.  
If you're interested in printables of the ideas above, you can find them for free HERE. Or, you might like these Reading Comprehension Units (that my kids love) or my newest Close Reading Unit.

Mary Beth, from Brain Waves Instruction, is a teacher-author with years of experience in the middle school classroom.  When she's not creating student-centered, teacher-approved curriculum she's busy laughing with her silly sons, finding sweet deals at estate sales, dreaming of warmer days (when will this winter end?), and hanging out with her favorite people. You can find us at our TpT Store, BlogFacebook and Pinterest

Positive Behavior Management Strategies for the Primary Classroom

Hi there everyone! My name is Marine Freibrun. Elementary school teacher, mom, wife, and blogger! I am the author of Tales from a Very Busy Teacher. I am so honored and excited to be writing a guest post for Minds in Bloom today! I am sharing TEN positive behavior management tips for the primary classroom with you today!
Classroom/behavior management is one of the most important things to master in your classroom. Having solid behavior management helps maintain a positive classroom environment, while enabling teachers and students to accomplish LEARNING!

Here are TEN tips and tricks for behavior management I use in my classroom:
Greeting Students at the Door
The way you start your day is the most important factor of having a good day! Even if you have had a rough start at home, hit traffic on your way to work, or forgot your morning cup of coffee, you shouldn’t let those little blunders ruin the day for your students. They come to school, in most cases, looking forward to seeing their teachers and friends.

So, to start the day off right, I greet my students at the door! I love, love, love, shaking my students’ hands at the door as they come into the classroom. I always start the day by having my kiddos form two lines. I grab their attention and wait for listening ears. I let them know what they’re expected to do when they enter the classroom (put things away, morning work, etc.).
After checking for understanding and getting feedback from my kiddos on what my expectations are, I greet each student as they go through the door. It can be a handshake, hug, high five, or fist bump. I always say good morning, and I try to find something to say to each student as they enter. For example, if a student has a new hair style, I make sure to notice. If another student got new shoes, I make sure to compliment. The list goes on and on. I just try to personalize their greeting and make sure they know I care and that it’s going to be a great day!
Brain Breaks
Brain breaks are a great way to enhance student engagement and keep students on their toes throughout the day. It breaks things up and it creates some blood flow for the brain! I created these brain break cards that you can cut out and glue to some popsicle sticks. When you and your kiddos are in need of a break, pull out a card and complete the task! These breaks help get students movin’ and groovin’.
As teachers, we are aware of our lessons and we notice that our students may need to get up and change pace. Using brain breaks are a great way to get that change of pace.

Click here to download them for FREE.
Behavior Chart
Displaying students’ negative behavior for the whole class to see is kind of a pet peeve of mine. 
When I was in Kindergarten, my teacher would always put a happy face and a sad face on the board. Of course, my name was ALWAYS on the happy face board. Well, one day this classmate of mine decided he wanted to kiss me on the cheek. He was definitely not a boy that I wanted to kiss! LOL So, when he kissed me, I screamed. My name then went on the sad face board. I WAS HORRIFIED. It scarred me for life. Obviously, I am now in my thirties and am still upset over this tragic event. When I became a teacher, I told myself I would never let this happen to my students. 
My first year teaching I decided I was not going to use any type of behavior system that would call my students out. I quickly learned that not having anything in place would be a disaster. I used a lot of positive reinforcement, but I didn’t have any consequences for unacceptable behavior. I decided it was time to move on and try a behavior chart. I found a lot on TpT and really liked the fact that these charts had a lot of positive factors that students could strive to reach. Using these charts proved to be a huge success. 
My favorite part was getting students to reach the blue or purple section of the chart. Everyone else tried so hard to get there too. Students who made it to the “top of the chart,” received a special little card that acknowledged their accomplishment for that day. I even let those students choose a stuffed animal from our class library. The stuffed animal they chose would be with them the whole day at their desks, learning with them! I rarely had students go below the green section of the behavior chart. Plus, I always made sure that students didn’t end on yellow, orange, or red. They always had the opportunity to get back to green or higher.
Here are some sample behavior charts from Pinterest that foster positivity and better behavior:

Marble Jar
I really enjoy using a class marble jar as a whole class behavior incentive. It’s easy, fairly inexpensive, and gets the point across very well. Just get a large jar at Walmart, Target, or the Dollar Tree. While you’re there, pick up a couple bags of marbles.
As your class behaves well, add marbles to the jar. Once the jar is full, they’ll receive a class prize: free recess, pizza party, movie, Friday free time, etc.
The only recommendation I make when using the marble jar: don’t take the marbles out if the class has done something bad! The marbles in the jar are marbles the class has already earned; therefore, they should not be taken away as a consequence. The class should receive other consequences that fit the bad behavior.
Free Prize Box Tickets
I love these! I used to have a pretty awesome treasure box with pretty awesome prizes. I would buy a bunch of things at the Dollar Tree and fill my treasure box. Soon, the DOLLAR tree became the HUNDRED DOLLAR tree! I couldn’t afford to continuously by prizes for my treasure box. Then, I stumbled upon these beauties…prize box tickets! There are quite a handful on Pinterest. You can pick and choose the ones you want your students to have to choose from. THEY ARE A HIT! I also think the best part is that they’re FREE!
Students will love these prize box tickets as a behavior incentive. They’ll be doing all they can to get a trip to that treasure box.
Heart on the Board
This is a cute one! And…it’s FREE and SIMPLE!
All you have to do is draw a big heart somewhere on your whiteboard. You can even laminate a large construction paper heart and hang it on a wall in your classroom. Throughout the day, add students’ names to your heart! These can be students that are sitting nicely, listening to directions, being polite, etc.
When I completed this in my classroom I would always say, “OH MY GOODNESS! I love how 'so and so' I sitting so nicely. She’s quiet, calm, and ready to learn. Please come write your name in my heart 'so and so'.

Immediately, all of the other students would sit quietly, calmly, and be ready to learn. I would continue to ask students to come up and write their names in my heart too. My kiddos LOVE it. Some days I would try to get all their names in my heart. 

But, I would always make sure I got all of my students in my heart throughout the week. Especially those students who struggle to make good choices. Sometimes all they need is LOVE!
Table Points
This one works well if you have your classroom divided into groups. Just assign names to each “table” of students. Write those names on the board. I would usually name my tables with numbers. Each time a table or team is sitting nicely, following directions, being polite, and all that good stuff…add points to their team. The team that wins at the end of the week gets to go to the treasure box to pick a fun prize box card! I also feel that taking away table points is completely unfair-similar to that of taking away marbles. There should definitely be another type of consequence.
Student of the Day
This is another one of my favorites. At the end of each day, I pick 3 to 4 students that have exemplified great citizenship, workmanship, and behavior. I fill out my little Student of the Day slip and write something about them that they did that day that made them earn “Student of the Day.” They get to take that slip home and show it off on the refrigerator. My kiddos love being Student of the Day! It’s a great incentive and a great way to give your kiddos some recognition. Throughout the day I would remind students about Student of the Day by saying, “Oh WOW! It’s going to be so hard to pick a Student of the Day today!”

There were other phrases I would use in my favor to gain the class’ attention and promote positive behavior. You can grab some of my Student of the Day papers here.
Motivational Reward Cones (DOLLAR TREE!)
These cones are so much FUN! I grabbed a bunch of these at the Dollar Tree (aka my favorite store). My students and I call them “Cones of Excellence.” 
I would let my students put these cones on their desks if they were student of the day from the day before. They could have the cone all day on their desks to show how proud they were of their good behavior. Sometimes I would bend the rules a little bit and just hand out cones to students who were behaving well. I didn’t do that too often because I didn’t want to take away from the importance of the student of the day. I guess you just gotta go with the flow of the class!
Smiles and Positivity
This one is easy and doesn’t require any downloading!
Be HAPPY! SMILE! And be POSITIVE! Your kiddos will thank you for it! There’s nothing like having a happy, smiley teacher greet you and help you everyday. Students spend the day with their teacher at school. Why not make it a happy day?

A little bit about me...

My name is Marine Freibrun and I am an elementary school teacher in Southern California. I earned my BA from UC Irvine, my teaching credential from CSU Bakersfield, and my MA in Educational Leadership from CSU Northridge. I have taught 2nd, 3rd, and 6th grade, but actually began my teaching career as an 8th grade teacher. I am staying home this school year to be with my first baby, Jacob. I love teaching and sharing educational ideas! Check out my blog and TpT store

Artist of the Month Club

What could I do when budget cuts eliminated an organized art program at my school? How could I incorporate art into the regular classroom without taking away from time required to teach state standards? First, I had to get past my own feelings of inadequacy. I am not an artist. How could I teach art concepts to my students?? 
The answer was simply to provide a little bit of instruction, give them the tools to use, and allow them to shine. Then, I had to come up with a program that was not just craft time. In order to use my valuable classroom time, I needed to justify to myself and my principal why this was essential for my students. My answer was the “Artist of the Month Club.” 
ARTIST:  To make this program educational, each month I teach a brief biography of a renowned artist. So far this year we have studied Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and Michelangelo. I still have ideas for many other units. All it takes is a little bit of research. Exposing them to the various styles of these artists broadens their knowledge base.  
I make a PowerPoint presentation and/or handout for student reference. I always try to include various samples of the artist’s work for the students to critique. This takes some modeling to get them past simple observations to more in depth analyzing, but can be very rewarding. Below you will find a FREEBIE of the booklet each student uses to record their thoughts. 

ELEMENT OF ART:  Another way to make this educational is to incorporate one foundational aspect of art education each month. There are 7 basic art principles to cover: line, shape, form, color, value, texture, & space. YouTube is a great resource for teaching videos on these topics.  Here is a sample video on the topic of mixing colors. 
You will also find these principles described in my Artist of the Month Club units available from Teachers Pay Teachers Jennifer Kime Creations.
PICTURE BOOK:  There are many captivating picture books written about artists. I had never been exposed to them in the past, but I’m so excited to use them now. Two of my favorite authors are Laurence Anholt & James Mayhew. I also found a delightful series of videos by Mike Venezia. All of these resources keep the students’ attention while introducing them to various masterpieces and their creators. These books can easily be used to meet language arts standards. I have incorporated them into our weekly mentor sentences & vocabulary text rotation.
PROJECT:  Projects can be simple coloring pages, directed imitations of the classic artwork, or free response to the story.  It is fun to introduce the students to a variety of mediums along the way.   We have used tempera paint, Model Magic clay, watercolors, chalk, markers, and colored pencils. 
Picasso face using Model Magic clay
Monet’s Water lilies using water colors
Van Gogh’s Starry Night using tempera & chalk
This program does not have to be complicated. Choose an artist, read the story, plan a simple art project, and watch your students flourish. Mine can hardly wait until the next month rolls around to see what we will be making. I hope this resource will motivate you to delve into art education with your own kiddos. 
Thanks so much to Rachel Lynette for inviting me to share my new passion with you. It was an honor and a joy!

A little more about me:  My name is Jennifer Kime. I am in my 21st year of teaching. Most of this time has been in 3rd-6th grade traditional classrooms, but I did spend a few of those years homeschooling my 3 awesome kiddos and teaching in our homeschool co-op. Throughout all of these years and countless classroom projects, my wonderful husband has stood by my side.  Teaching is not just a job it is a lifestyle. Thanks to my wonderful family who have supported me and to God who has blessed me with these!!  If you have any questions you can e-mail me or find me on Facebook.

My Super Hero Teacher: Fifth Grade Teacher Mrs. Klein

Rachel Lynette, Redmond Elementary
That's me in third grade. You wouldn't know it from the picture, but at that time in my life I had the self-esteem of a gnat. I was by far the shortest kid in my class. I was years from figuring out all those unwritten social skill rules, and I am pretty sure I had have some kind of undiagnosed learning disorder. They were not too great at picking those up in the 70s. It didn't help that my handwriting was a mess too.

As a result, I was always struggling. I just didn't "get" so much of what was taught. Lowest reading group (in first grade I was so low that me and this other kid had to go out in the hall and use a book that came before the basal). I pretty much gave up on spelling. Math was a nightmare - lots of tears there. I was sure I was stupid.

In fourth grade finally started reading fluently and things got a tiny bit better. But it was in fifth grade that my world got dramatically better. In fifth grade, I had Mrs. Klein for a teacher.

Mrs. Klein was a newer teacher - I think it may even have been her first year. She was young and full of enthusiasm. She made learning fun and for the first time, I felt like I could succeed in her classroom. The turning point for me was when I somehow managed to get the very best score in the class on a test on the digestive system. I even got the extra credit points. It was just one test, but Mrs. Klein made it into a really big deal. I remember how proud I felt, and it occurred to me that I might not be stupid after all.

I've been lucky enough to have several gifted and inspiring teachers over the years, but I really believe that Mrs. Klein made a significant difference in my world, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

That is my teacher super-hero story. I am sure you have one of your own and I would be honored if you shared it with a comment. I am also sure that many of you who read this are the star of some of your students' teacher super-hero stories. What amazing work you do.

Which is the theme of the current Teachers Pay Teachers Sale. You know the drill - up to 28% off February 25-26. Use Promo Code HEROES. You can see my blatantly promotional post here if you are looking for ideas about what to buy.

You can read about other amazing teachers just by clicking one of the links below. A giant thank you to Jenny Garwood from Luckey Frog's Lilypad for making it all happen.

Teachers are Super Heroes!

Image created by Ladybug Teacher Files
Well of course you are! 

TpT is having another awesome site-wide sale to celebrate your awesomeness! My store will be on sale both Wednesday and Thursday this week! You can get 28% off everything you buy just by using the promo code HEROES!

If you happen to be looking for things that will make the rest of your school year as awesome as you are, here are some ideas:

Newly Updated

I have been working on updating products. These four now have totally new fonts, clip art, and borders! They look so much better. If you already own them, you can get the updated versions on your TpT purchases page. If you don't, the sale is a great time to pick them up!

Most Recently Posted

When I wasn't busy revising, I was working on these. I am especially excited about the Word Problem Detective Task Cards.

Save Big with Bundles

Bundles are already discounted, so the savings is huge when there is a sale. Here are some to consider:

Perfect for Test Prep

These task cards all focus on those skills needed for standardized tests. Task cards can be an awesome way to review. Try Scoot, a scavenger hunt or put them at a center or stations. For more ideas, check out this flow chart!

Happy shopping!

Decide Now: Great Classroom Technology

I'm Amber from SSSTeaching! I love finding new and innovative ways to use technology in my classroom.  The Decide Now app was something I recently discovered that revolutionized how my classroom works.

In essence, it is an extremely easy app to use based on a wheel of choices. You can input choices and name spinners along with picking color options. It is very straightforward and uncomplicated. It does take a small amount of time changing the wheel options but it only needs to be done once. I use AirServer to mirror the app on my Smartboard so students are paying attention to the choice as well. Just displaying on an iPad would work the same. This is a great versatile app that could be used in any subject.

You can use the Decide Now App in a variety of ways. An easy way to use the app is for picking partners. The sound effects are catchy and the element of surprise is also superior to the dreaded teacher choice. This is a fun spin on partner work for students.

Another fun way to use the app would be with tasks or subjects for the day. On those mornings with many tasks to complete shaking up the order can break up the monotony especially for older students. Starting with writing instead of spelling offers a break from the routine.

My absolute favorite way to use the app would be to  Spice up Seatwork. As a teacher, I feel like seat work is inevitable even though I try to give it only when necessary. Even with the best of classes, I can't sit for that long. I need to get up or get more comfortable - imagine how my students feel!

I like to change up the work environment and make it more fun and conducive for learning.  We have been known to go over homework while sitting on the floor or laying down.  A large part of being able to have this learning environment is trusting and knowing your students along with setting clear boundaries.

We only spin the Decide Now spinner during certain subjects so I avoid the "Can we spin the spinner?" questions all day!   Some of the unique ways we spice up seat work are: no shoes, work by flashlights, switch seats with the number before you, work on dry erase boards....you can find all the options listed in our spinner - here.

My students are always excited for a chance to use this app during the day.  They get a chance to move and be a little silly.  This brings and fun and youthfulness into our work while we still take it seriously. This really helps kinesthetic learners in your classroom and really all younger age students!

Another fun way we use this app is for class rewards. I have the spinner already programmed with reward ideas such as movie, extra recess, switch seats day, snack, gum, and other free or very cheap ideas.  We use this spinner all year when we reach a designated number of compliments from other staff in the building.  Students are on the edge of their seat when reward time comes!

There are many different ways this app can be used in classrooms. Other ideas include voting for which read aloud next, what indoor recess game to play, how we should line up, to choose who to call on for questions in class, choosing project ideas... For our Famous Missourians project, I plan on using the app to decide who each student is writing about - eliminating the dreaded, "he took my person" or "that's who I wanted to do." The possibilities really are endless!

The best part is that this app or using a choice wheel can fit into any classroom. Instead of now a pencil and paper spinner or picking sticks the app stores all the information for you.

With a little effort in the beginning this app can be used throughout the year. The following year you can use the same spinners so it makes it even easier. This app is well worth the 99 cents for the convenience and ease of use. Any free alternative you find making probability spinners would work just as well!

I'm Amber from SSSTeaching. I am a newly 4th grade teacher navigating the waters after having moved from Kindergarten last year. I absolutely love technology and am always looking for ways to incorporate it in my classroom as well as get it in the hands of my students! I have some great Tech themed resources in my store that you can check out or visit my blog for upper elementary ideas.

5 Ways to Prepare Students for Middle School

Ever wonder what the middle school teachers receiving your graduates really want? Not sure how best to help your 4th, 5th, and 6th graders transition from primary to secondary grades? I'll let you in on a secret: we middle school teachers are equally concerned about helping kids learn how to "be students" as we are with the content knowledge that they have when they arrive.

For example, I work in a K-8 building by day and tutor high school students by night, so I spend a lot of time with students who are in transition: watching the 5th/6th students get ready to join my 7th grade homeroom, helping my 8th graders get ready for high school, and prepping juniors and seniors with the college admissions process. If there's one issue that students in K-12 have in common during a time of transition, it's this: study skills.

At all points in the journey, our students need explicit instruction on how to adjust to the next level of their academic careers...
  • Students entering junior high are learning how to deal with higher volumes of homework, more long-term projects, and their first experiences with midterm and final exams. 
  • Students going into high school are dealing with higher frequencies of tests and quizzes, even harder content, and higher stakes.
  • Students preparing for college often don't know how to adequately prepare for the SAT/ACT, how to write an essay that will appeal to the admissions audience, and how to get everything done in addition to their regular homework from school. 
(All of this in addition to raging hormones, social issues, and extra-curriculars. Whew!)
Don't worry - we middle school teachers know that the 6th and 7th grades are scary. We expect students to have a learning curve with lockers, changing classrooms, organizing binders, and exams. We're prepared to deal with friend drama, new academic rigors, and even puberty.

But there are few things that primary teachers could do that would really, really help us out. 
With whatever precious minutes you have to spare, give your students these five things to prep for middle school:
#5: Calendar skills
Planners, assignment books, and calendars need to be completed daily and independently by students, and the fastest way to help parents know what their children should be doing. Using your calendar method of choice, please help them learn how to record not just when something is due, but what they could do TONIGHT to work ahead, study, or prepare. Breaking down bigger tasks into smaller pieces is one of the toughest skills that we have to work on in middle school, and we appreciate if you fight the good fight along with us!
(Bonus points to you if you've got an online calendar for students to double-check their homework from anywhere, like we often do in secondary, BUT make students write it down in addition to that resource. Not every future teacher will post the work for them, and there's more to write down than just the final due date anyway!) 
#4: A healthy fear of the final draft
Primary teachers are the MASTERS of teaching the writing process, and we SO thank you for it! At the same time, anything you can do to emphasize the final draft/publication step is greatly appreciated.
This is particularly true if your students will be transitioning from a mastery-grading scale to one with points and percentages. (Go ahead and forewarn your students that I might take off points for formatting, grammar and spelling errors, or not following directions/prompts. Feel free to make me the bad guy.) 
If you need help, 5th and 6th grade teachers might like my Interactive Editing Checklist and Task Cards set, which breaks down editing vs. revising and other strategies to make a final draft their best work.
#3: A love of INDEPENDENT reading 
I'm so blessed to have talented K-6th grade teachers who send me passionate readers! However, with all of the competing demands of grades 7-12, students will have increasingly less free time to read for pleasure at home. Encourage students to read at home AND school so they don't become dependent on solely in-class reading minutes. Help them break down longer books into page-per-night goals so their goals seem more manageable and have the accountability of smaller deadlines. (We find that day/page goals work better than just minutes-per-night goals.) Talk openly about when and how you read books, or let other students share how they pencil in reading minutes at night.
If students learn how to fit in reading at home in addition to other demands, we may truly grow a generation of lifelong readers! 
#2: Self-advocating skills
I know how counter-intuitive this may sound. Right now, you might be engaged in epic battles with students regarding reporting vs. tattling, independent vs. teacher-dependent problem solving, or independent research foundations. 
However, that student who asks you five million questions often comes to middle school and clams up tight, afraid to ask his intimidating new teachers for help or admit he has a problem. This problem persists into high school, when the day is even faster-paced. 
Teach your students how to ask good "we" questions, when to ask "me" questions, and how to check their resources for the answer. (Or even better, revamp your business letter unit to include a How-to-Email-a-Teacher lesson. It helps the introverts and extroverts alike learn how to write a polite request for help!)
#1: One solid study method for tests and quizzes
My students love different the features of Quizlet to study vocabulary!
...OTHER than just blankly rereading the notes. The easiest way you could help is to tell students at least two ways to study before any test or quiz. I know one innovative 5th grade teacher who does skits and verbal sharing during class to teach kids what studying "looks" like; another uses logs and checklists so that students must prove that they have studied at least 3 ways before a test takes place. I use the various features of Quizlet's online flash cards extensively when I teach vocabulary and Greek & Latin roots! When my team starts preparing 7th graders for their first-ever midterm exams, we help them to:
  • Read and understand a provided study guide
  • Gather the correct papers/handouts/notes to study
  • Read those notes more than once
  • Start studying more than one day in advance
  • Rewrite notes or convert them into flashcards
  • Redo practice problems, homework pages, or already-completed questions
  • Repeatedly use paper or online flashcards (like Quizlet)
  • Find a friend or parent to quiz them on the material
  • Practice writing short answer responses in advance
  • Invent and answer questions that COULD be on the test
  • Get enough sleep and avoid panicking
A parting note of thanks
Despite the requests for backup listed above, we really do think that primary and middle grades teachers are fabulous. Working in a K-8 building has only deepened my appreciation for the tears, germs, and sweat that go into a day of teaching younger students, and I salute you. 
At the end of the day, we will be grateful for your students and the work you put into their success.

Even if you only start these battles, we will happily jump in and end the war!! 

Secondary Sara is a 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts teacher from central Ohio. She earned her Master's degree in ELA for grades 7-12 at THE Ohio State University and also tutors high school students. Find her on TpT, Pinterest, Facebook, and her blog!

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