Teachers Pay Teachers


I've bumped into this site several times in my searching in the last year or so. As soon as they asked me to fill out a membership with my email, etc. I moved on. Well, after bumping into it over and over again via Pinterest links, I decided to join and check it out. I'm so glad I did!  This week, there are over 30,000 FREE resources and another 98,000 for under $3.  Check it out, you won't be disappointed.

More Sensory Processing Disorder


This whole site is a blog dedicated to SPD. In this post, the author describes using this book to talk to kids about SPD.


Multisensory Math


So, this summer I am tutoring a second grader who has been diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD. She is unable to take medication, so focusing is a very difficult task for her. She has particular problems in math and so after working with her yesterday I decided to see if I could find some more ideas on how to teach math using a multisensory approach.

While researching, I remembered a training I attended more than 10 years ago regarding Touch Math so I decided to look into it. The idea is very visual and physical, which helps most students learn, but is nearly essential for a student like my "Tuesday tutoree".  She mixes up numbers, forgets whether to count up or back when subtracting and really does not appear to have any concept of what all the abstract computation is. Place value, time and money are all a mystery to her.

The Touch Math site has several sample units per grade level that are available free for download as well as number cubes that can be downloaded and made with laminated card stock.  There is also a free training available. If any of you have additional multisensory math resources or links, let me know!


Sensory Processing Disorder

I often find myself giving out this excellent resource, so I figured I should share it with you. Many people are aware that students with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) have "sensory issues". However, most people that I have met do not know that individuals do not have to have ASD to deal with sensory struggles. Individuals with any disorder, particularly ADD and ADHD have problems integrating sensory information. Some people are even diagnosed only with SPD and don't meet the criteria for any other diagnosis. Regardless of the alphabet soup (what I call the myriad of acronym-diagnoses) attached to an individual, it's great to know how the sensory system works and what to do when someone is struggling with SPD or similar symptoms.

Think about a newborn infant, suddenly thrust into the world of sensory information that until birth was muffled significantly. What do newborns typically do when they are "over stimulated"? They typically simply shut down and go to sleep. Their brains are so overwhelmed that they just shut down to regroup. Fast forward a year or two and think about an over-tired toddler. What do they do? Do they ask to take a nap or crawl into bed? Rarely! They generally get more and more hyper and out of control. These are both examples of normally developing sensory systems.

The sensory systems are not typically fully developed until around age 10. If the brain is not making connections smoothly between systems, this can affect learning in all areas and can be manifested in a wide variety of observable behaviors. Children may appear lethargic, withdrawn, depressed, distracted, hyper, out of control or antsy when their system is not coordinated. This is often the reason why an overtired, overstressed or hungry student exhibits these same behaviors. However, sometimes the problem is actually a neurological issue that can be defined as SPD. This is a great analogy from www.sensory-processing-disorder.com :
"Imagine driving a car that isn't working well. When you step on the gas the car sometimes lurches forward and sometimes doesn't respond. When you blow the horn it sounds blaring. The brakes sometimes slow the car, but not always. The blinkers work occasionally, the steering is erratic, and the speedometer is inaccurate. You are engaged in a constant struggle to keep the car on the road, and it is difficult to concentrate on anything else.

The range of the symptoms vary widely. Here is a video from an individual who is hypersensitive to stimuli and has been diagnosed with SPD. (Some students, often those with ADHD, are not sensitive enough to stimuli and that is why they crave more, more, more!)

The author at Sensory-Processing-Disorder.com has an excellent page regarding symptoms from which I have highlighted a few parts:
Imagine if:

  • You could see obstacles in your way, but you could not make your body move the direction you wanted it to to avoid them.

  • You felt like someone had given you a shot of Novocain in your backside so you couldn't feel if you were sitting in the middle of your chair and you fell off 3 times during this training.

  • Your clothes felt like they were made of fiberglass.

  • You tried to drink a cup of water from a paper cup, only you couldn't tell how hard to squeeze it to hold onto it. So, you squeezed it too hard and the water spilled all over you. The next time you didn't squeeze it hard enough and it fell right through your hands and onto the floor.

  • Every time you tried to write with your pencil, it broke because you pushed too hard.

  • The different smells in this room made you utterly nauseous.

  • The humming of the lights sounded louder than my voice.

  • You couldn't focus your eyes on me because everything and everyone in the room catches your attention and your eyes just go there instead.

  • The lights are so bright you have to squint, then you get a pounding headache half way through the presentation

  • Every time someone touches you, it feels like they are rubbing sandpaper on your skin.

  • You could only sit here for 15 minutes and then you had to take a run around the building or do 20 jumping jacks so you could sit for another 10 minutes before your muscles felt like they were going to jump out of your skin.

  • People's whispers sounded like they were yelling.

  • The tag in the back of your shirt makes you feel as uncomfortable as you would if a spider was crawling on you and you couldn't get him off.

  • You wanted to write something down but it took you at least 5 seconds to form each letter. You can see the letter in your head, but your hand will not go in the right direction to write it.

  • You had to pull the car over 3 times on the ride here because the motion makes you sick.

As you can see, if you are struggling with all of this, learning something new, listening to a lecture, walking in a hallway, eating in a crowded cafeteria or completing homework would all be quite challenging.  I highly recommend reading up on this disorder and in particular looking at ways you can make your classroom more comfortable for students dealing with SPD or similar symptoms.



When teaching a whole class, it's important to keep in mind different learning styles. There are many different theories, but one of the easiest to remember is VAK...visual, auditory, kinesthetic. Below is an excellent way to encorporate some movement into your day.


Once a Teacher

via Once a Teacher…. | Adventures in education 3.0 and web 2.0, starting from 0.0.

This is another teacher's Wordpress blog. She offers lots of great links to free technology on the web.

Teaching Children to Care

I have bought this book, Teaching Children to Care, three times because I keep lending it out and not getting it back!  This book introduced me to the Responsive Classroom approach. It was a natural fit for me. I first learned of it at ProTeacher. It walks you through how to set up a true classroom community, complete with steps for problem solving and natural consequences including the idea of students paying retribution for poor choices. I highly recommend it! 


Florida Center for Reading Research

The free resources on this site are incredible. There are lists of reviewed reading programs, including core and intervention programs and many great articles. My favorite part of this site is the section with the center activities. These are ready to print on cardstock, laminate and bingo! you have centers for reading that are not just fluff. Check it out when you have some time.



Think Deeper

I think this is what I've been trying to figure out ever since I discovered that I could teach anything with sticky notes! Kids love to write on sticky notes, it gives them a few moments to get up to put them on an anchor chart, they can be moved, color coded, the possibilities are endless. This chart is going to take my sticky note lessons to the next level!

Source: via Jody on Pinterest

Character Titles

Teach all the core standards and integrate character at the same time!


Free Kids Clip Art by Phillip Martin

Free Kids Clip Art by Phillip Martin, Free Clip Art for Kids.

This site has 100s of free, high quality, hand-drawn, colorful clipart for every school related topic imaginable! For those of you who do newsletters, this site is a must.


Stages of Reading Development

This website is well worth the cost, especially if you are a fan of Reader's Workshop. http://www.readinga-z.com/guided/stages.html

Rita's Stories

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bndCdOeMO3Y&w=420&h=315]

Check out this video that you will surely relate to! This is an excerpt from a training based on the book "Understanding Poverty" by Dr. Ruby Payne. This highlights the fact that there are hidden rules in society. Dr. Payne talks at length about how schools are typically run on "middle-class" rules. If you have students being raised in poverty, or conversely, in wealth, these students are not being taught the same rules at home.
"A 'hidden rule' is a method of interacting that is common to agroup of people (subculture). Every subculture or class has "hidden rules", but not even the class members realize the rules are there. But when someone violates the rules, it sets up a barrier. Know the "hidden rules" and you will be able to more effectively cross cultural lines."

Really Good Stuff

If you haven't seen this catalog, make sure you check it out this summer! They have their own exclusive products, their prices are great and they even have a 3-month Easy pay plan to ease the bite. The products range from organization (check out the bins) to reading, math and science. Most of the products are aimed at primary and elementary, but secondary teachers shouldn't ignore this one. If you're like me, you'll see lots of ideas you could recreate yourself. Happy browsing!


Number Sense

  100 board activities are excellent for developing number sense and mental math. Here is an idea with some printables to get you started. 100 board activities are great for centers or independent work too.

In Her Own Words

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfKSrBDtDt4&w=420&h=315]

This woman speaks about her disability primarily through her augmented communication device. She has cerebral palsy that affects her mobility but not her cognition. I showed this video to students when discussing the idea of "not judging a book by it's cover". We talked about how this applies to reading but also to people.


Engaging Students

There are plenty of things you can do within a lesson to keep kids from day dreaming...or worse yet, nodding off. Here are some ideas:

Desk Switch: Students have ten seconds (count down from ten) to find another desk to sit in that is in a different part of the room than his or her normal desk. Students stay in that desk for the rest of the lesson. Why? Two reasons, first switching desks gets them up and moving. Second, sitting in a different place in the classroom will give them a different perspective and wake up their brains a bit.

Position Switch: Have students turn their chairs around and sit straddling the chair with their hands resting on the back (girls in dresses can sit side-saddle). While good sitting is important, a few minutes of sitting differently can keep kids alert. Another idea is to let kids sit on their desks with their feet on their chairs (which they will love!)

Wander as you teach. If you don't need to be glued to the board, then wander throughout the classroom. Most kids will track you, which will keep them alert, and if you see someone having trouble focusing, you can stand right next to him or her for a quick perk-up.

Give each child a small ball of play dough to fidget with if you are doing a lecture-type lesson.

Throw students a foam ball when calling on them to answer a question.

Randomly and frequently ask students to repeat what you just said.

Choose a fun word, such as "Shazam!" or "Bazinga!" Every time you say the word, students must use both hands to hit the tops of their desks two times and then clap two times. Say the word several times throughout the lesson. It will wake everyone up!

If you have experience in theater, improv, or just like to have a little fun, teach a small portion of the lesson with an accent or imitating someone famous.

With younger students, teach with a puppet or give a voice to a stuffed animal.

Throw in a joke every now and then.

Use student volunteers. Any time you can call a few kids up to the front to be part of a demonstration, do it. It can be as simple as having them hold up signs (rather than displaying the same information on the document camera) or writing an answer on the board. Better yet just call on students to help rather than asking for volunteers.

If a lot of kids look sleepy, stop talking and write a simple command on the board such as: "Put both hands on your head." The silence should alert day dreamers that something is going on. Follow up with two more written commands. Make the last one something with sound just in case a few kids haven't caught on, such as, "Clap three times." Continue with your lesson.

Wear bright colored clothing. If you want to keep their attention, you should be the most interesting thing in the room.

Have students explain something they just learned in partners.

Require a response from everyone, rather than calling on one student by using individual white boards, or having students signal yes or no with sign-language.

Teach outside. This of course, could have the opposite effect with students being even more distracted, but on a beautiful day it could be a nice break for everyone to sit under a tree a tree with a clip board rather inside at a desk.

Animate those PowerPoints! If you don't have time or know how to do it yourself, you could probably find a helpful upper-grade student who could add some animation to a PowerPoint that already has the content.

Require students to take notes. Every so often, have them do a quick, related sketch in the margins. For example, if you are learning about Abraham Lincoln, give them 30 seconds to draw log cabin in the corner of the paper.

Throw in a higher level thinking question that is related to the lesson (but not part of your objective) and have a quick discussion. For example, if you are learning proper ways to use a comma, ask the students which punctuation mark they think is the most important and why. Questions like these are also fun to put at the bottom of a worksheet and have students answer on the back.

Let students know at the start of the lesson that they will need to write down three things they learned as their "ticket out the door."
This post was written in response to the Five-Star Blogger Challenge posted on The Organized Classroom Blog. Take a peek at the link up there to see more great Five-Star Blogs!

Informal Assessment Tip

Another excellent Pinterest find! While walking around during group work, or when conferencing quickly with students, write notes on labels. Then, later put the labels on index cards, or in a student data binder to be used for later reference for rubric grades or in conferences. This could also be a way to manage behavior data.


Behavior Math

What a great way to use something that is meaningful to a student and link it to math! You could talk about greater than, less than, fractions, percentages, etc. You could do it with colors, stickers, stars, happy faces, numbers, anything! You could do it whole class, small group or individual!

Reading Strategies

There are a few different styles out here on the web, this is the newest I've seen. This adorable idea links reading strategies for both decoding and comprehension with an animal and the original creator encouraged student to use an actual Beanie Baby that when using the corresponding strategy.


Great Math Website

This is a wonderful math resource with excellent, free, printable charts for 250+ math topics. Some charts are even interactive. A great way to use them would be to print them and have students keep them in a math journal.



How long do you do this for and how often do you rotate your materials? My entire math time lasts between an hour and an hour and a half. I do BUILD for 2-3 rotations a day, ranging from 10-15 minutes. It all depends on how long the whole group lesson is for the day and what other extra things are going on.

Do you only allow a certain number of students with each basket? This year I had 18 students, so I normally pulled 2-4 kiddos to my table for a small group lesson and then the remaining 14-16 did a BUILD rotation. Usually I allowed 4 kids to do B (2 groups of 2), 3 students at U, 3 at I, 3 at L, and 3 doing D.

How many items do you put in a basket at a time for the kids to choose from? I only put enough things for the number of kids I allowed to do it at a time. The exception to this was my B bucket- there are probably 10-12 games in there for them to choose from. Also, in the I bucket there are about 30 math books.

Where did you get your baskets? I got these particular baskets on the Target Dollar Spot last year around back to school time. They are a perfect size for BUILD. I hope they come back because I'd love to get some more. However, if they don't, Big Lots and The Dollar Tree always have some great baskets at back to school time.

Do you do whole group? If so for how long? Yes. I use Investigations and Number Corner. My whole group time normally depends on the lesson- sometimes I do a lesson and activity for 30 minutes, and sometimes the lesson is actually just a review that lasts 7-8 minutes.

I also use Investigations and am wondering how you fit this in? Is it a separate part of the day than your hour long Investigations lesson? For anyone else who uses Investigations, instead of doing the allocated 'Math Workshop' I just do BUILD instead. Whatever the book says to do for math workshop, I just make sure I have those activities in my BUILD buckets. For example, in the 1st or 2nd unit, one of the activities is Mystery Boxes. I put those in my U bucket for the next few weeks and my students eventually get to it.

How do you introduce the concept of BUILD to your students? Do you tell your students, "Today we will begin five centers and this will be called 'Build'?" In other words, how do you interest your students in liking this concept? I pretty much just told them that we would begin doing math centers. I explained to them that there are two ways we could do math- a fun way (centers) and a not so fun way (worksheets). I explained to them that I really wanted them to get to do the fun way but that we had to practice practice practice. I started out with only the U bucket (because they are already familiar with maniulatives) and the I bucket. Half the class did I and half the class did U. We practiced BUILD the same way you start out Daily 5. We built stamina, we modeled, we talked about the right way to do it and the wrong way to do it. After the 1st week, I introduced either L or D, it doesn't really matter which one so long as they have another choice. At this point the students are not choosing where to go just yet. I am telling them where to go. The third week I have intro'ed everything but B. By the 3rd or 4th week, they should be ready to do B. Make sure you do this with games they are comfortable with and know how to play because arguments might occur if they don't know what to do.

Once all the buckets are in place, I start pulling 1 student at a time to assess and start small group planning. By the 5th week of school your kiddos should be ready to go. I never had trouble all year with my kids being interested in BUILD. They loved it and on days when the whole group lesson didn't allow time for BUILD, they were not happy campers!

Do you know if the BUILD concept is copyrighted? BUILD is not copyrighted- the ladies in my district who came up with it did it on school time so it will not be copyrighted. Feel free to beg, borrow, and steal! :)

**If I can give anyone a piece of advice about BUILD, it is that it is soo soo flexible and you should feel free to make it your own. If you have a lot of whole group lessons that you HAVE to do- do one 12-15 minute rotation of BUILD a day. If you have a lot of workbooks or worksheets that your district requires you to do, put that in the I bucket. You can easily change this up to fit your needs- there is no one size fits all in teaching. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask! :)

-Mrs. Thompson



What a cute, cheap, way to create a focus board with student objectives. Not only is this more appealing to look at, it helps students with visual processing locate the information needed. A large white board with lots of information on it can be intimidating to the young student and older students with visual processing difficulties. I would, however, choose either a less busy paper or I would put a solid color mat on top of the busy paper to help the student see the writing.

Source: via Lisa on Pinterest


Crate Seats

Considering how "short" we are on chairs, this might be a fun summer project!



Simple Tips to Help Every Teacher Meet the Common Core

from Education World

Teachers everywhere want to know how the new Common Core State Standards will alter what they teach and how they teach it. To gather an-swers to those questions, I spoke to educators across the country. Here are some of the things I learned.

To meet the CCSS, teachers should:

 Lead high-level, authentic discussions. Teach-ers should craft good questions, and students should learn to cite textual evidence in their responses. For great ways to teach speaking and listening skills, see the book, Teaching Critical Thinking by Terry Roberts and Laura Billings.

 Focus on process over content. That doesn't mean content is not important. It means teach-
ers shouldn't ask students to memorize vocabu-lary words or facts; instead, they should engage students in the gathering-information and learn-ing process. (For suggestions, see Vocabulary at the Center by Amy Benjamin.) Also, it’s a mistake to think you have to nail each stand-ard, one by one. The standards are not meant to be taught via isolated, discrete tasks. In the real world, skills overlap, and they must overlap in the classroom, too. For a great unit that combines multiple standards, check out this research unit by Heather Wolpert-Gawron (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/common-core-lesson-plans-speeches-heather-wolpert-gawron) .

 Create assignments for real audiences and with real purpose. Don’t assign papers that are just for the teacher. Design projects with a real purpose, such as to solve a problem in your community. Have students present their find-ings to an authentic audience—online, in print, or in person. Students will benefit from these rich experiences and be more motivated to learn.

 Teach argument, not persuasion. According to Appendix A of the CCSS, persuasive writing might “appeal to the audience’s self-interest, sense of identity, or emotions,” whereas a logical argument “convinces the audience because of the perceived merit and reasonableness of the claims and proofs offered rather than either the emotions the writing evokes in the audience or the character or credentials of the writer.” Teach students how to gather logical evidence.

 Assign increasingly difficult texts. One way to increase text difficulty is to use text sets. For ex-ample, one teacher at the conference suggested combining The Odyssey with a Star Wars text and an NPR story on veterans and violence. Text sets increase engagement and help students make thoughtful connections.