Monthly Archives: February 2012

8 Strategies to Keep Your Students Engaged In Your Lessons

Even we as adults know how easy it is to get distracted from the task at hand (hello iPhone!)—so, it’s easy to understand when your students get their attention pulled away by other students, outside events and classroom interruptions.  But, in order to make the most of your lessons, it’s essential that you keep your students focused so they can learn.  Here are a few simple ways to keep them engaged in what your teaching.

  1. Start every lesson with a warm-up activity (Click FREE DOWNLOADS below for “DAILY WARM UPS”). Whether it’s a quick story, a game or a problem for the students to solve, give them a bridge to help them transition to a new subject or lesson.
  2. Get your kids moving. Don’t just make them sit in one spot for an entire lesson. Instead, have them move to different areas of the classroom, do clapping or hand motions, switch tables or come up to the front to answer a question—you’ll find that the activity helps them to stay focused and stay on track.
  3. Remove the distractions. If a student is distracting other students, move them. There is no use saying “settle down” or “stop talking” over and over—just calmly move the student to another part of the room and continue your lesson.
  4. Mix up your teaching strategies. One day do quiet class work, the next day go outside, the next watch videos, the next go to the computer lab. By varying your teaching strategies, you account for all different learning styles as well as keep the students engaged by teaching them new things in new ways.
  5. Have them collaborate. Have students work together in small groups to solve problems or complete an assignment. When each student is responsible for a particular task, no one is able to tune out or drift away.
  6. Ask questions more than you answer them. When your students ask a question, ask them a question right back—and encourage them to use their own problem solving skills to discover the answer.
  7. Keep your instructions simple but specific. Make sure you give your students specific, simple instructions for every task—and then make it your policy not to repeat yourself. Your students will learn very quickly to pay attention to you the first time you explain something.
  8. Choose people to answer questions at random. Every classroom has a few students who love to raise their hands and answer questions—but that doesn’t allow for equitable classroom participation.  So, select students at random or draw names out of a cup as to who will answer questions in order to make sure that every student not only has the chance to answer, but will also be ready to answer at any given moment.

We’d love to know: How do you keep your students engaged?

Grades 1/2 – MATH / READING
Grades 3/4 – MATH / READING
Grades 5/6 – MATH / READING
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


SPRING FEVER in the Elementary Class


Combat Spring Fever in the Elementary Classroom

Motivate and reward.

Spring is the time to pull out all the stops when it comes to motivation and reward systems. Be generous with stickers, tags, and treats. Have kindness contests. When a student shows kindness to a fellow classmate, he gets a sticker on his chart, or a tag for his chain. When a student reports another student showing kindness, the reporter gets a sticker on his chart or a tag on his chain as well. This results in “positive” tattling! Make a compliment jar for the class. When the entire class follows a specific rule (randomly chosen by the teacher), a compliment is placed into the jar. You can use marbles, slip of paper, game markers-anything that can be counted. When twenty compliments are received, the class gets to celebrate with ice cream. Have each student set a reading goal for the last nine weeks of school, and keep a personal record of achievement. A special bookmark can be given when the goal is reached.

Count it down.

Teachers have been doing it for years. Somewhere in the classroom, post the number of school days left, and assign a student to change the number each day. Spring fever is much easier to endure when you can see the deadline just ahead!


Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Uncategorized


Entrepreneurial Skills

Since today is the birth date of the late great visionary and entrepreneur, Steve Jobs (1955-2011), it only seems fitting to offer this FREE teaching guide on this day. (See “teacher’s guide link below). Relevant for grades 3-5.

Entice your students with a brief summary:

A visionary and entrepreneur, Steve Jobs co-founded Apple Computers in 1976 and helped launch the personal-computer revolution. He left Apple in 1985 and returned in 1996 as CEO, and the company, which had been struggling for years, went on to become one of the most successful companies in the world, featuring the must-have Macs, iPods, iPads and iPhones.

Your students are sure to be excited and motivated because they can relate to one or all of these products. Once your students are intrigued, introduce your next reading project: The Lemonade War

Encourage the development of students’ entrepreneurial skills with the economics and math activities in this teacher’s guide for The Lemonade War, a book about two siblings’ business endeavors and relationship. Guide classroom discussion of the book with the questions provided in this packet.

Have a good weekend!

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Posted by on February 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


Teaching FUN for end of FEB

It’s almost time to say goodbye February, hello March! Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day have come and gone, however Black History Month is still in full swing!

Here are 5 fun and easy teacher-tested ideas to help you teach your students during Black History Month.

  1. Have your students select an influential person related to Black History and represent them to the class.  (2012’s theme is “Black Women in American Culture and History”)
  2. Write a play about women who influenced the abolition movement.
  3. Integrate tidbits about black history and culture into every subject you teach.
  4. Select art by influential black artists and use the pictures to decorate your classroom.
  5.  Write rhythmic songs that mimic the music movement in black history.

Do you have a favorite Black History Month activity or lesson that would like to share?

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Continue Random Acts of Kindness


love_heart.pngIn addition to Valentine’s Day, this week (February 13th-19th) is Random Acts of Kindness Week? We love that teachers are sharing the love, and challenging their students to show kindness in small and/or big ways. Along with the Kindness Week Kickoff Project – below are some easy ways to help your students celebrate Random Acts of Kindness all week:

  1. Make Cards for a Nursing Home or Local Business.  Help your little artists make cards or pictures and then deliver them to cheer the residents at a local nursing home or to help decorate the offices of a local business.
  2. Help other kids.  If you teach older students in a school, have your students to go read stories, tutor or play with the kids in a younger class.
  3. Make a Wall of Kindness in your classroom.  Have your kids write all the ways they can show kindness both now and throughout the school year on slips of paper and then post them on a wall of kindness to remind them.
  4. Who’s Kind?  Research kind “heroes” from throughout history or literature and have each kid write a report about one person who inspired them to be kind.
  5. Write letters.  Help your kids write letters home to their parents or grandparents telling them how much they love and appreciate them.
  6. Start Kindness Journals.  Give each kid a notebook and ask them to record each time they do or see an act of kindness and how that act made them feel.
  7. Create a Kindness Chain. Start a chain of kindness that will reach your whole school or your whole city by challenging another classroom (or the whole school) to do something kind for someone else.
  8. The Giving Tree.  Read “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein and discuss how the tree showed kindness to the boy even when the boy wasn’t showing it in return.

How do you celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week?

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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Kindness Week Kickoff!

Ask students to list the names of the other students in the room on a sheet of paper, leaving a space between each name.

Think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down and turn in. Only positive comments are acceptable.

Write the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and list what everyone else said about that individual.

Give each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class will be smiling.

Tell the students to fold them up and see how long they can keep them. 


Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


School Calendar – February

A friendly reminder of upcoming events in the month of February from

This week: National School Counseling Week highlights the tremendous impact that school counselors can have in helping students achieve success in school. School Counseling Week Feb 6-10

Other important dates:

Black History Month Feb 1-29

Kindness Week Feb 13-19

Valentines Day Feb 14

Presidents Day Feb 20

Download February FREEBIES:

FREE Kindness Certificate. Random Acts of Kindness Week is February 13-19. Kick off the week by awarding all of your students a certificate, or reward random acts of kindness throughout the week with this certificate. However you choose to use it, you students will be proud to receive a RAK certificate!

Check out this fun and easy to implement RAK classroom project

Students can learn Presidential Trivia and have fun with this Presidential Trivia crossword.

For younger students, this “If I Were The President” book project is cute!

Happy February!

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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Uncategorized


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