It's Moving Day!

For the past few weeks I've been working hard on my brand new blog at fishyrobb.com! I've moved many of my old blog posts over and am excited to get working on some new ones. I will no longer be posting here on Teacher Times Two.

So why the move? My new website is a better reflection of me as a teacher and my business. I hope you'll stop by and take a look! I'd love to hear your feedback as well. Just click the image below to come visit...



Digital Task Cards: The Latest & Greatest Addition to TpT

I'm so excited to announce a brand new category of classroom resources that are now available through Teachers Pay Teachers: Boom Cards!

Huh? Boom Cards? What's that? We all know what task cards are and how many ways they can be used in the classroom. Well now your students can use them online, through the Boom Learning app. Boom Cards are interactive task cards that play on any device.

Kids love them because they earn badges and rewards for completing tasks. Teachers love them because...

  1. They are self-checking! 
  2. No printing!
  3. No cutting!
  4. No laminating!
  5. Access to teacher reports to track student progress!

If you want to see what all the fuss is about, just head on over to my TpT store and download a preview. The preview includes a playable sample. Just click the picture below:

Over the next few weeks, I'll be adding many more sets of Boom Cards to my store! If you've already purchased printable task cards from me, check for updates in your purchases because I'll be adding access to the digital versions to some of those files as well. 

I hope you're as excited as I am about these new and exciting resources!


5 Things To Do Before Summer Break

Now that we’re nearing the end of the school year, are visions ofbeach chairs and margaritas dancing in your head? 
Ok, so that's not really me. But yes, summer is just around the corner and I know we're all thinking about days at the pool. Even so, it’s never too early to start thinking about next school year. I know, I know... who wants to think about next year when this one isn’t even over?

Teachers love to enjoy their summer break, right? Come August, however, stress and panic set in. How will I get my classroom ready in time? Where are those posters I put away? Why am I not better organized? Help!

Wouldn’t it be nice to put some of those worries to rest even before your summer starts? Well, you can. I have created a list of things you can do NOW to make the start of the next school year stress-free. Even better, your students can help with some of these!

Think about all of the supplies you’ve used this year. Are you running short on any items? Do you wish you had more of something? Have your students create an inventory of items in your classroom, such as: markers, crayons, construction paper, glue, scissors, etc. Go ahead and order your supplies ahead of time so you’re not waiting for them in August or September. You can even get them organized into basket or bins. (Students LOVE to help with that!) 

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that sets me back at school more than not having the copies I need. If I had the space and any sort of organizational system that worked, I'd make the entire year's worth of copies ahead of time. But alas, the best I can do is get the first few weeks ready ahead of time. This can be done at school (if you’re lucky) and it will save you a ton of time in the fall. 

Think about the handouts and worksheets you need for at least the first month of school. What papers get sent home during the first few days? What will you use for morning work and homework? What about things like reading logs or behavior notes that you need all the time? Beat the lines at the copier in the fall and get it done now! With all your copies ready to go, just file them neatly in a “beginning of the year” drawer and they’ll be right at your fingertips when needed. {If you're super crazy organized, unlike me, you could even have labeled files for each stack of papers!}

How many times did an illness pop up and you were left unprepared this year? Save yourself a lot of stress and create next year’s sub folder now. While you can’t make your class list or seating chart just yet, you can add things like updated class rules, emergency procedures, and so forth. Put in extra worksheets and time fillers that can be used anytime of year.

Don't have a sub folder? Want something already put together? Here's one you might like...

Speaking of folders. here's one that should be at the top of your to-do list... student folders. You know, the ones they take home every day. Buy your folders and binders now. Get them all ready to go, so all you have to do in August is write your students' names on them. Don't forget to make a few extras for those late enrollments. While you're at it, make extra sets of the papers you put inside for new kids that arrive later in the year. 

What goes in my folders? A zipper pouch (pencil case) to hold money and notes, the student agenda, important papers (like their math facts to study) and a plastic pocket page for homework like this...

You can have this year's students help assemble the folders for next year's group. By now they know what goes inside and in what order.

Last but not least... During the last few weeks of school, as you take down your classroom, why not just put up your Back to School board and new decorations? This task is a huge time-taker during pre-planning when you have so many other things to think about. Wouldn't it be nice to walk into an already decorated room when you return? 

Not all schools will allow you to leave things on the walls over summer, but if yours does, take advantage! Get your students in on the fun too. They can help decorate, hang posters, and think of cool new ideas.

It is always best to be prepared for anything in life. As teachers, anything we can do to get ahead is so important. Rather than spend the last month of our summer vacations stressing, prepare NOW and enjoy that last month of freedom! 


Word Work for Older Kids

As an elementary teacher, one of the most important skills I can teach my students is how to read, write and spell. The use of word work in my classroom is essential, even in the upper elementary grades. Word work is when students practice spelling, vocabulary, frequently used words and word parts like prefixes, suffixes, and roots. This helps them continue to grow as young readers and writers.

In order to keep your students interested and engaged, you have to find age-appropriate word work activities that they will enjoy. A fourth grader most likely will not appreciate rainbow spelling the way a first grader would. In contrast, solving vocabulary puzzles would be an excellent choice for older students. I like to incorporate word work in my third grade classroom during centers and reading groups. During centers, they often independently practice a skill that we have worked on during reading group.

One really important skill for understanding language is the ability to break words down into their individual parts to extract the meaning. This requires instruction in word analysis: specifically prefixes, suffixes, and Green and Latin roots. When students understand the individual parts of a word, they are much more successful at determining the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary.

This resource consists of word wall words, a Word of the Day worksheet, and word building cards including prefixes, suffixes, and many Greek and Latin roots students will encounter in their reading. {Click the picture to see more.}

In addition to analyzing words, students in third, fourth, and fifth graders still need practice with more advanced phonics and spelling patterns, and vocabulary.

Listed below are a few really great and age-appropriate activities for your students to try:

  • Vocabulary Crossword Bulletin Board: Laminate squares of blank paper (so they can be used over and over again) and use them to create a giant crossword grid on your bulletin board. Post the clues about your weekly vocabulary words next to the grid. For example, if one of your vocabulary words was "pointless", then 1 across might say "Having no purpose". Students can record their answers on their response sheets or you can have them write their answers on the grid using dry erase markers.

  • Scrabble Spelling: Older students don't often like to practice their spelling words. One way to add some fun is to turn it into a game. Scrabble tiles work great for this. Put all of the tiles into a bag or box. Each student should also have their spelling list handy. They take turns pulling a tile from the bag. If they can use it to build a spelling word, they keep it. If not, it gets set aside. Keep pulling tiles until they are all used up. Any completed words get scored by adding the points on the tiles used. Incomplete words do not count. The person with the highest score wins.
  • Word Sorts for Big Kids: Word sorting is typically a primary grades activity but it can work for intermediate too. There are plenty of advanced spelling patterns that lend themselves well to word sorting. One example is the "shun" sound. The tion, sion, and cian patterns are confusing and take a lot of practice.

Students can complete these activities in groups or centers to practice sorting words by the suffix “tion, sion and cian”. At the same time, they will be building their vocabulary. (This resource includes word cards, definition cards, a recording sheet and a cut & paste worksheet.)
  • Stamp Challenge: Since students love competition, this game is perfect! With a partner, two stamp pads, and a set of letter stampers, students take a word from a work bucket, and stamp out the spelling of the word as quickly as possible to beat their partner. This game is strictly for spelling practice but it sure is fun! 
While word work is essential for the younger grades, it is important to keep reinforcing spelling and vocabulary skills as our students progress. Students will enjoy games and group activities that increase their knowledge of words beyond just how to spell them. I hope you and your students find these ideas helpful! Enjoy!


My Day On the Farm

A little peek at our little farm today...

I'm really excited about the vegetables that are ready to pick. I made pickled red beets yesterday and today I'll be making cole slaw with some of that cabbage. YUM! 

Gracie looks so pretty in that picture, doesn't she? No so much the other day...

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