Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I Don't Know How I Survived Without These 3 Teaching Tips

My Most Pinned Idea:

This idea gets re-pinned on Pinterest several times each day!  I use these every day in my classroom.
Each child gets their own mat and cup filled with dry erase mini markers and a mini eraser.
You can find lined dry-erase contact paper online or at educational supply stores.
Last year I found lined dry erase charts and just cut them into quarters.
Click HERE to see a 30 pack at a pretty good price.  

Attach one to each laminated sheet of construction paper.  To keep the edges from coming up, I tape them down.  
Even the teacher gets her own mat
with lined dry-erase paper attached to it.
Now, when I'm working with a small group, I can model a letter or write an entire word for a student to copy.  All I have to do is pick up my dry erase marker and I can help a student with a math problem or anything else I might need to write down for that student.  When we are done, we just erase it!  

Last summer, I grabbed these cute little erasers at Target's Dollar Spot.  They were 2 for a dollar!

My Next Best Idea Is...

... not my original idea.  :)  It's from Rick Morris' web site.  I tried this idea and my students love it:

I hang my "Ringing Pen" on a hook so I can always find it.

You just tie a bell to a dry erase marker.  (The square bells work better than the round ones because the round ones tend to swirl the clapper around in silence.)  Then, each time you want your students to really listen and watch what you are writing on the board, you use the marker with the bell.  You don't have to say a word.  They hear the bell and they know that whatever you are about to write is super important.  

My Last, Best Idea:

Take each child's photograph when you first meet them.  This might be at their pre-test time before school begins or it might be on their first day of school.  
I smudged out her name, but you would normally see it at the bottom of the photo.

I use the same tablecloth for the background so everyone's picture looks somewhat uniform.  

I create a template in a word processing document with a place for a 5" X 7" photo, three 2" X 3" photos, and two 1.5" X 1 " photos.  I type their names into a text box which is placed at the bottom of each photo.

Now, I can use these great pictures all through the year.  I laminate the larges one and place it in their cubbies.  
Photos inside the cubbies before adding the names.
The red checkered background goes perfectly with my
picnic bulletin board and with my farm theme later in the year.

I place one of the the smallest ones on their record folder where I keep all of their ESGI flashcards, testing results, and work samples.    If you haven't checked out ESGI yet, do yourself a favor and try it for 60 days for FREE.  This is the perfect time to explore their website, their ready-made tests, or try your hand at creating your own custom tests.  And if you teach T.K., you can grab the tests I created by searching my name, Palma Lindsay.   Then, if you like it, use my discount code, B2174, for $40 off of your 1st year.  I guess this is one more thing I can't live without! 

I use one of the medium size photos for our classroom graph by laminating it to card stock and adding Velcro to the back.  
Photo on the front, name & Velcro on the back.

Sticky-back Velcro holds this on our graph. 

I attach one to a copy of their name for our writing center.  Then, other students can find the picture of their friend and quickly see how to write their name. 
Add caption

 That leaves me with 2 more photos to use throughout the year.

That's it.  3 (or 4) ideas I simply can't live without.
Come back tomorrow for more classroom tips.


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  1. Can you please send me the template for the photos? I teach Pre-k and use photos for everything, this would be perfect.

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Stephanie, My template is on my school computer, but it's super easy to make. I used Microsoft Publisher (I know, an OLD program, but I love it) and I just created a "photo" box for 1 5"X7", 3 2"X3", and 2 1.5"X1" photos. Then, just insert one child's photo into all of the boxes and you will have enough photos for several projects. Hope this helps. Palma :)

  2. Any reason why you wouldn't just laminate lined paper for students to write on? Does the lined dry erase paper work better?

    P.S. I love Microsoft Publisher, too! I use it for EVERYTHING.

    1. Yes, dry erase paper works better than laminated paper. I have used laminated paper and it became permanently stained over the years. I also never use dry erase cleaner. It tends to ruin the dry erase surface. If it ever becomes stained, I just apply more dry erase ink to the stained section and wipe it off with a clean cloth. Hope this helps. :)

  3. I would also like a copy of the template you use for saving the different sizes of pictures of the students also or a little more detailed directions, so I can create one. I use pictures for a lot of things too. Having an easier way of saving them sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing, your blogs a great resource!

  4. Oops just read the reply from above. I will try that, thank you!
    My team and I just started using ESGI this year, don't know how I've been without it for so long. It's fantastic!

  5. Yes, can't live without ESGI. Remember to use a code, like KFUN, when signing up for your free trial so the dicount will apply if you choose to purchase a year.

  6. Do You have a template you can share for the pages used in the name book for the writing center? I would love do this with my students pics.

    1. Hi Donna, My template is on my old school computer (and I'm retired now), but it's super easy to make. I used Microsoft Publisher (I know, an OLD program, but I love it) but you can also use PowerPoint or if you have a Mac, try Keynote or Pages.I just created a "text box at the left side (6"X10") and added my students' names using a lined font like DJ Inkers. You can find lots of lined fonts online. Some are even free. I added a "photo" box for each name that was 1"X1.5". Then, just insert one child's photo into each of the boxes. I put 7 names/photos on each page. Hope this helps. Palma :)

    2. Thanks, I only know how to use word and was hoping to skip the work to make it.
      Happy retirement to you!

    3. You can do the same thing with Word, Dona. Just find a lined font like this one:
      This font is for personal use. If you want to create a commercial product, you need to purchase a license from her. Info is at the bottom of the description for her font.
      Hope this helps. :)