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Keep Them Engaged, Learning, and Having Fun!

In my experience, kids need to move! That shouldn't keep them from learning, in fact, moving is a great way to enhance learning!

Keep them engaged, and having fun! It's possible to attend to the children's need to move while keeping the learning happening! Try these ideas!

As many of my readers know, I have studied how the brain learns and using research on the brain to design resources to help children learn. (For more information, check out these posts:)
 
Some of the common threads in these posts include movement, integrating the arts, working with others, and making it fun. Plus, we all know from developmental studies that it's important for them to move! 

(See this post: Is Digital Learning in the Best Interest of Children?)

Keep them engaged, and having fun! It's possible to attend to the children's need to move while keeping the learning happening! Try these ideas!

It just so happens that I have a series of resources that address these needs while promoting learning at the same time! There are 15 resources in this series (so far) and they all have the exact same format: 
  • an informative text about an interesting science or social studies topic (Perfect for close reads and guided reading!)
  • 10 questions about the text
  • 4 sketching tasks to go along with the text
  • 6 brain breaks related to the text
Once they catch onto the format, less time is wasted on teaching them how to use the tool, and they become quite independent in their learning with this tool!

Keep them engaged, and having fun! It's possible to attend to the children's need to move while keeping the learning happening! Try these ideas!
There are many different ways to use these resources! It can be differentiated for different learning levels, different organizational needs, as well as different social needs. Keep them engaged, and having fun! It's possible to attend to the children's need to move while keeping the learning happening! Try these ideas!

I always start off with whole group instruction! Everyone gets a copy of the text with the answer sheet, and we read through the text together. I go through some of the questions and show the students how to go back to the text to find the answers. (They LOVE using highlighters on this!)

Keep them engaged, and having fun! It's possible to attend to the children's need to move while keeping the learning happening! Try these ideas!

We do all the brain breaks together, and discuss the sketching tasks.  
 
Once they "get" how the whole thing works, we can play a game of Scoot. (See directions here: Active Students? Try Scoot!)


Keep them engaged, and having fun! It's possible to attend to the children's need to move while keeping the learning happening! Try these ideas!

Some of my more challenged readers usually need more guidance. I'll bring copies of the text to some of my reading groups. We read through the text together, discussing vocabulary and talking about what we've learned. I'll let the group take turns reading the different task cards. We discuss what the answer might be, and go back to the text to find where we found the answer. (Again, the highlighters!)
 
Once the small group has gone through the whole process, (and yes, of course we all do the brain breaks together!) they're ready to do the whole process independently! (These make great centers!) 
 
Yes, they can re-read the same text and answer the same questions all over again! Why? Because there's a lot of information in those texts, and even though they've answered the questions already, that doesn't mean they remember all the information! A second (or even third) time through, especially after a passage of time, is ideal! Not only are they practicing important skills (reading for information) but they are learning interesting information!

Keep them engaged, and having fun! It's possible to attend to the children's need to move while keeping the learning happening! Try these ideas!

These sets make great centers! I often assign centers to be done in pairs. Why? Because of those great conversations! Talking about the text internalizes what they're learning. (More brain research!) Plus, they learn from each other through these rich conversations. Some may share information about the topic that's not even in the text! (More learning, yippee!)
 
Another reason to let partners use these activities? Because some children need a stronger reader to help them out. This can be a delicate situation, since we need to be sensitive about our lower readers, but you know your kids! Make smart choices for partners who will support each other without insulting each others' abilities!

Keep them engaged, and having fun! It's possible to attend to the children's need to move while keeping the learning happening! Try these ideas!

These are also perfect for your fast finishers to do independently during centers time!  Again, each set can be used more than once... hopefully, they'll remember more information each time!

Keep them engaged, and having fun! It's possible to attend to the children's need to move while keeping the learning happening! Try these ideas!

This one is easy! Anytime! I find they're perfect as centers during those last couple months of the year when their skills are strong and they've developed some independence.
They're also great for the beginning of the school year when you're teaching procedures!
Plus, if you're doing a unit related to one of these topics, these are perfect!
 
If you're interested in these, check out this link:

Reading Comprehension for Active Learners

Keep them engaged, and having fun! It's possible to attend to the children's need to move while keeping the learning happening! Try these ideas!
 

You can try one for free here:  

Keep them engaged, and having fun! It's possible to attend to the children's need to move while keeping the learning happening! Try these ideas!

How do you keep your students learning and engaged?


Keep them engaged, and having fun! It's possible to attend to the children's need to move while keeping the learning happening! Try these ideas!



Is Digital Learning in the Best Interest of the Children?

There's a lot of Digital Learning going on in schools right now! But is it in the best interest of the children?

Digital Learning? There has been a lot of push for digital learning lately, for a variety of reasons, but don't forget the need for hands-on learning!

 Developmental Psychology was my favorite course in college.

Digital Learning? There has been a lot of push for digital learning lately, for a variety of reasons, but don't forget the need for hands-on learning!
I really loved learning about the stages that children went through as they developed. Piaget was my favorite! Do you remember these stages?
Digital Learning? There has been a lot of push for digital learning lately, for a variety of reasons, but don't forget the need for hands-on learning!
The Sensorimotor Stage: the babies! These are the little ones that are just learning about how their bodies work! They learn to interact with the world by using their senses.
Digital Learning? There has been a lot of push for digital learning lately, for a variety of reasons, but don't forget the need for hands-on learning!
The Preoperational Stage: These are those toddlers and pre-schoolers through about second grade. These little ones are only beginning to think in terms of symbols. These sweeties need a whole lot of hands-on learning! That's how they learn!

Digital Learning? There has been a lot of push for digital learning lately, for a variety of reasons, but don't forget the need for hands-on learning!
Then there is the Concrete Operational Stage. These are the upper elementary school age children: about second grade through sixth.  They are becoming capable of some logical thought, but these children still need lots of hands-on learning!
Digital Learning? There has been a lot of push for digital learning lately, for a variety of reasons, but don't forget the need for hands-on learning!
The Formal Operational Stage begins around middle school and extends into adulthood. These children are beginning to be able to think in an abstract manner and manipulate ideas in their heads. But, you know, even adults love those hands-on experiences, and it will enhance learning! 
 
As teachers, we all know there are children who develop faster than their peers, and many who develop much slower. 

Digital Learning? There has been a lot of push for digital learning lately, for a variety of reasons, but don't forget the need for hands-on learning!

In the past couple of years, laptops and devices have become a bigger part of the classroom. Honestly, the children LOVE them, and there's a whole lot of learning that can happen with them! (Plus, they often make life easier on the teachers, too!) Plus, digital learning is a necessity during remote learning!

Digital Learning? There has been a lot of push for digital learning lately, for a variety of reasons, but don't forget the need for hands-on learning!

I'm sure you know how much the children love learning on a digital device! I'm a huge fan of Boom Learning activities, as they provide fun learning as well as easy record keeping for teachers! Plus, there's an amazing variety of learning that can happen on this platform! Check some of these out HERE

Digital Learning? There has been a lot of push for digital learning lately, for a variety of reasons, but don't forget the need for hands-on learning!

Those of us who work with children in the preoperational as well as the concrete operational stages of development know the importance of internalizing learning with hands-on experiences! Please make sure they get plenty of these experiences! 

I've recently developed some resources for place value that are the best of both worlds: digital learning and hands-on learning!

Digital Learning? There has been a lot of push for digital learning lately, for a variety of reasons, but don't forget the need for hands-on learning!

Level one gives the children practice finding a number by counting tens and ones!  Cuisenaire Rods Place Value Fun Level 1 Tens and Ones Boom Learning

Digital Learning? There has been a lot of push for digital learning lately, for a variety of reasons, but don't forget the need for hands-on learning!

Level two gives the children practice finding a number by putting together tens, then counting tens and ones! Boom Learning Making Tens with Cuisenaire Rods Level 2: Hands-on and Digital

Digital Learning? There has been a lot of push for digital learning lately, for a variety of reasons, but don't forget the need for hands-on learning!

Level three gives the children practice finding a number by regrouping to make thens, then counting tens and ones! Boom Learning with Cuisenaire Rods Level 3 Regrouping Tens: Hands-on and Digital

Or go for the bundle:

How else can you maintain the important hands-on learning while using digital devices?
Digital Learning? There has been a lot of push for digital learning lately, for a variety of reasons, but don't forget the need for hands-on learning!

Five Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards

Teaching is pretty challenging!

Some students learn at an "average" pace. Other students need extra help to keep up, and then there are the students who already know everything you are expected to teach them!

We want these students to continue learning and stay motivated in the classroom. How can we do this, while we continue to meet the needs of the other students as well? 

5 Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards: Here are 5 ways to address the needs of these fast learners without losing the others!

Idea #1: Let them develop skills on a deeper level!

I always prefer to let more advanced students deepen skills rather than accelerating their learning onto a higher grade level's skills. Students need to feel like they belong, and if they're not studying what the others are studying, they feel excluded! This is a tough concept when they already know what you're teaching, but there are ways to work with it.
 
How do we do this? 
  • This is easiest to do with reading. If everyone in the class is working on biographies, they should also read a biography, but at a higher reading level. They can do a more challenging form of book summary or report.
  • If you're studying addition, have these children make problems for their classmates to solve. Or have them learn a game that practices the same skill, but at a deeper level. (Practice 4 digit addition rather than 2 digits!)
  • If you're studying Mexico have these students research something that's not in the district's curriculum, such as Mexico's history, or major exports of Mexico.
  • If you're studying figurative language, have these children find figurative language phrases to share with the class.
  • If you're studying the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly, have these students research more information about the butterfly, such as migration or how fast they can fly.
  • Here's a resource I use based on second grade math requirements: Mystery Math Bundle

5 Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards: Here are 5 ways to address the needs of these fast learners without losing the others!

Idea #2: Let them learn by guessing!

I know, this sounds rather strange, but I call it the "Jeopardy method." (See this blog post: Do You Ever End Up Smarter After Watching Jeopardy?) Whenever you hear the answer (or on Jeopardy, I believe it's the question...) you get smarter! Having the children take an educated guess at some trivia helps them remember the information! 
 
Here are some resources that are perfect for your fast learners to learn by "guessing:"
 
5 Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards: Here are 5 ways to address the needs of these fast learners without losing the others!

Idea #3: Let them work with another student at their level.

Just because they're smart and catch on easily doesn't mean they have to carry the load for a group that isn't functioning at the same academic level. (We know this can happen!) They do need some time with their equals who can challenge them and help them go above and beyond the status quo. Please, find opportunities for them to work with others at their level, even if it means finding students from other classrooms or even other grades who can work with them.
 
5 Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards: Here are 5 ways to address the needs of these fast learners without losing the others!

Idea #4: Offer choice!

All students need and deserve choices! These quick learners need choices too! Most students make choices based on their strengths, interests, and passions! A student with an interest in writing would prefer to write a report on what they learned. A student with an interest in art would prefer to make a poster. A student with an interest in social studies might like to make a map. All students have preferences, not just the gifted and talented! Please respect these preferences, you'll get a whole lot more from your students if you do! 

5 Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards: Here are 5 ways to address the needs of these fast learners without losing the others!

Idea #5: Let them research something they love. 

As mentioned above, all students have strengths, interests, and passions. The best way to address the needs of all students is to work with these passions! These brighter students can research their passions! The acts of research will help them enrich their skills, and the ways they present what they've learned will strengthen more skills! It's a win-win!

5 Ideas for Students That Have Already Mastered the Standards: Here are 5 ways to address the needs of these fast learners without losing the others!

Here are a few blog posts also dedicated to this group of students:

 How do we keep them engaged?

How do we keep them engaged? Some children finish their daily work much faster than others. How can we keep them engaged without assigning "busy work?"

 Three Purposes for Boom Learning Digital Task Cards  

https://www.elementarymatters.com/2021/02/three-purposes-for-boom-learning.html

 

Twelve Reasons to use Boom Learning Digital Task Cards!   

Twelve Reasons to Use Boom Learning Digital Task Cards: Do you want to make teaching easier for you and fun for the students? Here are 12 ways!

 But My Students Don't Know This Stuff!

Sometimes my students do activities where they are expected to answer questions, but they haven't been taught the content. How can this be valuable?

 Looking for ways to organize it all? Try this!

Organizing Literacy Centers

How do you organize your Literacy Centers? This post gives you ideas for organizing what the children do when you're teaching a group. Plus, there's a freebie! 

One last note:

As smart as these children are, they all have weaknesses as well! They may be ahead of the game with reading skills or math skills, but like all of us, they have areas of need. Please pay close attention to the whole child and make sure they are developing academically as well as socially and emotionally.

 


 

How am I Doing?

Every "report card" time, kids will undoubtedly ask, "how am I doing?"

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

Of course, it's great that they care about their achievement, but seriously, they're in school every day doing the work. They're in class, participating and engaging in work all the time. So, shouldn't they already know how they're doing?

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!


What do you think? Yes, report cards are all about reporting to their parents. They have a right to know how their child is doing. They see the children through homework, encourage them to do well, and want to know about their child's successes! 

This post isn't about report cards and reporting to parents.

It's about giving feedback to the children every single day!

Brain research tells us that frequent feedback is essential to learning. 

A good place to start is making sure every child knows their strengths!

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!
 
I believe in encouraging children every time you see them doing something right. It could be ANYTHING they do well. Here are some examples:
  • staying organized
  • smiling at classmates
  • participating in group discussions
  • greeting classmates when they arrive
  • positive attitude
  • listening
  • following directions
  • getting to work right away
  • following rules
  • working independently
  • staying focused
  • helping classmates
  • helping teacher 
  • putting forth effort
  • showing growth

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

In fact, this information should be made public. Everyone in the class should know who is good at knowing math facts, and who is good at following directions. All students should know who they can turn to for figuring out an unknown word, solving a math problem, where to find extra supplies, or sketching a cat for their journal. This is all part of the teamwork. And I'm sure you'll agree, all children have strengths!

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

All children also have areas that need improvement, don't they? The only way they will improve in these areas is if they are aware of their weaknesses and put in the effort to improve them. I prefer to think of these as "skills the child is working on," rather than weaknesses. It's just a bit kinder!

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

Although the whole world should know the strengths of your students, the opposite is most definitely NOT true!

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

 

I schedule meetings with individuals every so often. How do I find the time? I meet with individuals instead of reading groups for a couple of days. (See THIS POST to see how I organize this!) I spend a few minutes with each child, and honestly, those few minutes make a world of difference and are totally worth missing a reading group or two!

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

I use a 2-1-1 strategy! I start with 2 statements about what the child is doing well. These can be about ANYTHING the child is doing in school, as long as it's honest praise. (See THIS POST about giving honest feedback!) 

After the happy celebration, I mention (carefully) one thing the child needs to work on. They usually know, and agree they need to work on this. 

Wanting to leave the conversation with a positive note, I'll mention one more thing the child does well. This doesn't have to be academic, just a little something to keep the conversation upbeat. Quite often, it's something like, "I'm glad you're in my class!"

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!

You've probably already spent a lot of time building relationships with your students, and these personal conversations should simply amplify these relationships. Of course, make sure it ends with a smile!

How do you keep the children informed about their progress?

Kids often ask, "How am I doing," especially around report card time. Here are some suggestions for making sure the children KNOW how they're doing!



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