Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Teaching Phonics with Sign Language

Watch this video with your kiddos until they are familiar with all of the gestures for each animal/ letter.
Warning! It is addicting for them.

See some example flash cards by clicking on the picture

     When students associate a picture with a sound and a gesture, they are unstoppable! I believe that Kindergarten has two Reading Goals, I call them "Unforgivables." They must learn their letters and sounds, capital and lowercase, and they must be able to read and write C-V-C Words. These are three letter words with a vowel in the middle such as, CAT, PIG, HAT, RED, GUM. 
     The full page flashcards will help students focus on these goals. I set the cards on my lap (print them on card stock and laminate to make them sturdy), then do the following routine (one of several). I say the name of the card, for example: BAILEY BEAR b…b…b,   COCO CAT c…c…c, as I do the sign language for each card. Students love doing this in my class and are engaged the whole time. 
Charlie Chaffin 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish and in Sign Language

     As a Dual Immersion teacher, one of the first things that I did was translate the Pledge of Allegiance to Spanish. I looked on the Internet for a translation that I liked but the varieties that I say had some words that I did not agree with. For example, some people use the phrase, "El Juramento," but to me that translates to The Swearing. So I chose the "Promise Loyalty" phrase since there is no direct translation of allegiance. I do not believe that there is an official Spanish Pledge.
     I was so proud to have learned The Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish and we said it every day in my Dual Immersion class but I was saddened to hear that some people think this is anti-American in some way. I understand that people should learn to say the Pledge in English and it is actually one of the first acts that new American Citizens perform, but I think that it is extra patriotic to learn the Pledge in another language too. Here is the Pledge in American Sign Language too. I found it at I think it is a wallpaper site.

What do you think? Is it unpatriotic to say the Pledge in a different language?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Read Across America

Theodor Geisel's Birthday (March 2), Green Eggs and Ham, Read Across America, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, St. Patrick's Day, and Little Green Leprechauns…That is my word association for March. I found an official poster for Read Across America. I didn't even know they had a poster! I also learned that this event is sponsored by the NEA (National Education Association) The link will take you to the Web Address where you can download and print the poster. They also have free resources for your classroom. I got inspired to make this Keep Calm Graphic because I could not access the one they had from their official Pinterest Page. I used Helvetica Font in BOLD and it looks almost right.  

Awesome link for Top 100 books to Read in many categories.   

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan Template

Hello, and thanks for stopping by. In this post you will find a blank Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan Template as well as two tried and true sample lessons. There are 7 basic steps to the 
Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan. 
Step 1: 

Anticipatory Set - AKA "The Hook" -This is where you build excitement for the lesson students are about to learn. It can be as simple as reminding them about something the previously learned to getting them out of their seat like in the first sample lesson. 

Step 2:

Objective Stated to Students- While you definitely have your own objectives/standards that you plan as your focus, don't forget to tell the students what they are about to learn (in kid friendly language) and how they are going to show you that they learned it at the end of the lesson. This helps with the "What did you learn in school today?" and kid answers "Nothing." syndrome.

Step 3: 

Purpose/ Connection to Real World- How does this lesson apply to the real world? Why should students bother learning this? The answer should never be "to pass the test." 

Step 4: 

Instructional Input- Includes lesson specific Vocabulary. Some people think that the teacher should only talk for ten minutes and then let the students process for two minutes.

Step 5:

Check for Understanding- Can occur simultaneously with Instructional Input or can be the "two minute" processing time. Let students explain to another student what the teacher was trying to convey. You will be surprised how students will retain information better by adding this step to every lesson.

Step 6:

Closure- Close the lesson by restating what they have learned. If students can then explain to their parents or other students what the objective was then you know they learned!

Step 7:

Independent Practice- If students learned the concept, they will be able to independently work on a few problems on their own correctly.  This can also serve as an assessment. Make a SMART GOAL for yourself: If 80% of the students got 8 of 10 problems correct then the lesson was a success. If not, it is time to Reteach.

There are actually two full pages to each of these sample Madeline Hunter Lesson Plans. You can access them by choosing each image. On the second page there are the Check for understanding, closure, independent practice, lesson extensions and SENTENCE FRAMES elements.  
Follow me on Bloglovin' to get more updates. 

     When I was interviewing for a teaching position at Hardy Brown College Prep, I had to do a sample lesson. I chose the Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan Template because to me, it is the best and most complete template. This was the hardest I have EVER worked to get a teaching assignment and it was just a temp substitute position!

     The lesson went so well that the Principal and Assistant Principal couldn't stop grinning from ear to ear. They said it was the BEST they'd ever seen that batch of kiddos behave. Needless to say, I was hired for a long term position. This was good news since I was taking a sabbatical from my regular teaching assignment and I wanted to get to know a CHARTER SCHOOL from the inside. More on that in another post (but below is a little snippet).

     After being there a month, I know that I will never badmouth what the wonderful teacher's unions do for us. I felt like a slave in this charter school. I worked from 7:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.(4:30 officially) but I still had work to do when I got home AND I only had 30 minutes for lunch. 

     Those poor kindergarteners were on a full time schedule from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with no nap time. I had been successfully teaching 1/2 day Kindergarten for 4 years. The extra 5 hours of class was not the magic key. Och! I could go on but alas, I just wanted to share my two Madeline Hunter Lesson Plan samples. I have also been working on a KINDERGARTEN CLOSE READING LESSON PLAN. 

     Please let me know how your lesson goes if you choose to use them. Let me know if you have any questions. 

Charlie Chaffin 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cute Valentine Tutorial

Are you still scrambling' to make your Valentine Cards? This is the easiest and quite possibly the cutest Valentine Card Craft ever! I made it a few years ago for my class and it did not disappoint. I promise it literally took me two minutes.

     First, I folded the pink construction paper in half, traced half a heart…and voila a perfectly symmetrical heart appears. You'll have to keep it folded to make the mouse body. I had two heart punches so I used them to punch out my heart shapes. I could have just as easy cut out my smaller hearts using the fold method. 
     The smaller hearts are for the ear, the lollipop label, and the cute little black nose that looks a little like a mustache. I used the black permanent marker to dot the eye on. I then glued the heart ear on, taped the heart label on the lollipop, and stapled the heart in half. I also made some adorable SPANISH VALENTINE PRINTABLES and if you are still into the MUSTACHE MADNESS, check out free printable for that as well. 

Rounding RAP

Teaching students how to ROUND was one of my favorite things to do as a 3rd Grade Teacher. When speaking with my colleagues, most did not feel the same. I was very lucky that my first year as a teacher, I came into contact with an awesome teacher, Mrs. Thomas. This is how it goes and it works with any place value:

Mark the place                   748     or     743
Look to the right                  ➳               ➳

Four or less,                       748             74_                    
It's out of sight                     ✘                ✓

Five or more                       748↶ 4+1=5       
Will buy one more                 ✓      

Before it too,                      75_
is out the door

In those empty                   75_              74_
right hand spaces

Zeroes mark                       750              740
the proper places

Please enjoy this awesome teaching strategy! If you have any question about how it works shoot me a comment.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Common Core Lesson Plan Template

          There is a lot to be said about a good lesson plan template. My favorite one has always been the MADELINE HUNTER LESSON PLAN TEMPLATE, probably because of nostalgic reasons. When I was going through my teaching program, this template was the rule. I still think it is a valuable template but how does it fit in with the Common Core State Standards?

     Recently, I trained a group of Kindergarten teachers on how to do a CLOSE READING. May I say 'skeptic' Kindergarten teachers. Some were weary of foregoing the 'background knowledge' component. I tried to to explain that it is more valuable for students to grapple with text and make their meanings rather than giving them the vocabulary definitions ahead of time. 

     The basic rule of thumb is: if students can use context clues to figure out the meaning, do not pre-define the words. However, if the meaning cannot be gleaned from the text, then give them the information needed.

     How can Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers prepare their  students for the higher expectations of the common core? If you are like me, you know that Kindergarteners can do a lot more than the stated standards for our grade level and are anxious to start the ball rolling now.

     A good LESSON PLANNING TEMPLATE that incorporates the basic tenets of close reading at the Kindergarten or 1st grade level is shown here. This lesson plan template sample is filled out but if you want the blank template let me know. 

Charlie Chaffin

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Abraham Lincoln Activities

I have compiled the best Abraham Lincoln Activities in one single Pinterest board for Abraham Lincoln's birthday on February 12th. Sadly, his birthday is not a federal holiday and apparently President's Day is actually just Washington's Birthday. But we love our Honest Abe and I thought he deserved his own board. See below the Pinterest board for my Penny Rubbing experiment. I tried pencil, colored pencil, and a crayon. See which one works best below.

I think the orange crayon works best. That is the penny on the very bottom. In second place is brown colored pencil. A regular pencil works okay but the image is difficult to see. One problem my students have had is that the penny shifts under the paper so if anyone has an idea how to fix this problem I would like to know.

Charlie Chaffin

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Valentine Crafts

Here is a compilation of the best Valentine Crafts ideas that I've seen lately in a single Pinterest board. Please take a look at these awesome ideas. There are some Valentine Crafts and some Valentine Mailboxes and some Valentine Card ideas. Follow my board while you are at it :0). 

Printable Valentine Cards

Please feel free to download these Printable Valentine Cards and reuse them. They are too cute to go into the most inner caverns of my computer, never to be seen again… 

The inside message for the Mustache Valentine is: Who love's you baby?

The inside message for the Bird Valentine is: Tweet, tweet, I think you are sweet!

I gave the mustache valentine to my hubby and the bird valentine to my students. I punched a hole in the corner and inserted a thick red ribbon and tied a knot. They looked very fancy. 

I would print the bird valentine card on card stock. Print back to back to get two cards. For the mustache valentine card, I printed on regular paper, back-to-back and folded it in fourths to make a card that opens with the message on the inside.  

The Printable Valentine Cards for this year will include a fox and an arrow. Check back soon!

What is the Common Core for Parents ?

Common Core Initiative 101:  (I will try my best to give you the information in parent friendly language and separate the ideas in smaller snippets.) Please look at the very bottom of my blog or check the grey tab on the right hand side to see what the standards are at each grade level.

     Prompted by the United States performance in International Tests, like the PISA, or perhaps because of the No Child Left Behind debacle. The United States set out to develop a set of standards that would help our students become college and career ready.

     At each grade level the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) focus on certain tasks to ensure that students gain well-rounded exposure to concepts. States have the freedom to choose whether they will use the standards as is, or add some additional standards as well. Some states have even chosen not to adopt the CCSS. 
     There are some major shifts when comparing the Common Core to the previous state standards (I will give you some of the more important ones.)

1. Students will have to read more Informational Text as opposed to Narrative Text (Stories). Currently, especially at the younger grades, students read mostly Fiction Stories. Now there will be a balance of both information and narrative reading

2. A growth in Text Complexity means that students will be exposed to texts that may be a little more difficult than they are used to. There has been a discrepancy between high school texts and college text.

3. Up until now, teachers have been asking many questions based on students' experience or how they relate to the stories. Now there is a focus on Text Dependent Questions. Students will have to go back to the text to give answers. This means that they will have to reread the text passages several times. They will learn to analyze the author's choices and determine word meaning based on context clues. 

      All states had standards before but the opportunity to have shared high standards in all states is new. Instead of having a lot of standards, there are fewer standards so that their depth of knowledge can be greater. The concepts are a little more rigorous and a focus on becoming independent readers of complex texts is expected. Many students are  not ready to read college level texts and cannot be successful in their career without this skill.

     The CCSS were created by teachers and other experts. They studied models that were effective across the U.S. and around the world. The goal is for our students to be competitive in the global economy as we are headed in that direction. U.S. students will now have to compete with students around the world for jobs.   

Cesar Chavez Day

Cesar Chavez Day is on March 31st. It is celebrated on his birthday. In 2013 Google honored this Mexican-American icon when they put his image inside one of the Google o's. Sadly, there were many people that were outraged because his birthday also happened to fall on Easter. Cesar Chavez, who was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, was a catalyst for change in the migrant farm worker community using non violent methods.

Migrant farm workers followed the crops from city to city that needed harvesting and often faced poor working conditions. 
Chavez started a union, now known as the United Farm Workers (UFW), to help increase wages and improve the working conditions and safety of farm workers. He organized ‘huelgas,’ or strikes, and boycotts of lettuce and grapes in order to help workers. Chavez also went on some famous hunger strikes. He was put in jail many times during his fight. But his work paid off and millions of farm workers’ lives changed for the better.                                                                                       
The motto made famous by Cesar Chavez was “Sí, se puede,” which means “Yes, it can be done,” is still used today to inspire Hispanic movements. Barrack Obama even used the motto in is campaign for presidency. Chavez was awarded the US Medal of Freedom after he died, posthumously. 

For more information search my Charlie Chaffin TPT Store or you can buy directly with PayPal from 
MY STORE  at a discounted price. There are 18 pages total with Lexile leveled Reading Passages, with Text Dependent Questions, Timelines, and an awesome Reading Strategy to build independent readers. This teacher created resource is made for 4th - 8th grades. Written in Spanish and English. Can be used in the Dual Immersion class too.

Buy with PayPal

100th Day of School Activities

This day is such a big milestone in the school year. Students have been diligently counting up to 100. Each day adding a new straw or popsicle stick to the ones place pocket. When they reach '10,' its time to bind the straws and move them to the tens place pocket. The big day comes when they have built ten groups of ten! Teachers and students celebrate this big day by reading books about the 100th day of school. Counting, clapping, and jumping 100 times. Decorating hats or shirts with 100 items. The cutest thing lately is that students dress up like they are 100 years old! They write about, "When I am 100…," "100 years ago…," or "If I had $100 dollars…" and OMIGOODNESS what they can do with a Hundreds Chart! There are so many learning math and literacy opportunities on this day. Really savvy teachers will even relate the significance of 100 with money and play trade up to a dollar or 'roll and cover' games. My favorite of all of the activities though is the making of the 100 Day Salad. Students pick 10 fun snack items, from 10 bowls, to make a 100 item snack. I used such things as cheerios, m&ms, popcorn, hot tamales…you get the idea. My first year I had them eat it in class as together as we ate each item and counted to hundred. The result? ….so many sick bellies. Now I tell them to take their time and eat it home. I made a 100 Day Teaching Resource on my TPT store. 

Friday, February 07, 2014

Teacher Pay Teacher ?

Many people enter the incorrect term 'teacher pay teacher' singular but it is actually plural: Teachers Pay Teachers. Do not fret. You can still go to the site by clicking on one of the buttons below.

*If you do begin selling, please consider starting your store by clicking the first button above. If I refer you to them, then I earn a very small percentage of the earnings TPT would get from you. I can help with any questions you might have to get started. For example, you will need cute frames and backgrounds to make a cover page to may your product attractive. We can link to each other's blog so we can help each other advertise. I want this to be a win-win partnership. If I ever make more than $100.00 from your store (that would mean you would have to sell over $4000 in a calendar year), I will pay for your next year's membership of $59.95 so that you can earn a higher percentage of your earnings. Just trying to survive in this crazy teacher selling products world while helping others teachers too. This is for their Refer a Friend program but you must click my button or else it won't work. Cheers!

Thank you,
Charlie Chaffin

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Kindergarten Writing Paper

Believe it or not, when my kindergarteners leave my classroom, most of them are able to write a five sentence paragraph. This is shocking to some people that do not realize that kindergarten is the new first grade! The way I approach writing is in a non-stressful environment but they do begin writing from the first day of school. Usually I give them a drawing lesson on an "apple" or an "ant" (something that starts with an 'A.' Then they simply copy the letters on the lines (many don't stay in the lines at this point). Everyday they draw something and then copy the letters. When students have learned the High Frequency Words: I, like, and my, they can form simple sentences.

 "I like my pig." 

Not too much time later, they can add some describing sentences such as:

"The pig is fat.
The pig is pink.
My pig can play in the mud."

If they have practice every day, they will not fight against it and may even enjoy writing! 


Monday, February 03, 2014

Types of Writing Styles: Use the PEACE sign to help

Part of Tools for Annotating from my TPT Store
Coming Soon!

There are at least three types of writing. How do we get our students to remember and know the differences between them? Usually an acronym helps. The most famous one is PIE for writing to PERSUADE, INFORM, and ENTERTAIN. I came up with two more as we are calling they types of writing different names with the arrival of the Common Core State Standards. PIN which stands for Persuasion, Information, and Narrative. PEaCE is my favorite however, because it uses the language from the CCSS. The P stands for PERSUADE as usual, the E stands for EXPLAIN, the small ‘a’ simply means ‘and,’ and CE stands for CONVEY EXPERIENCE (real or imaginary). 
by Charlie Chaffin

Close Reading Strategies

'Reading With a Pencil,' or annotating, is a new buzz phrase for the Common Core State Standards, which have emphasized that students need to be able to read COMPLEX TEXTS independently in order to be college and career ready when they graduate from high school.

There is not just one way to correctly annotate a passage but I have come up with an acronym that can help students annotate any text. The acronym is “TPQ Dr. ACES.” Each letter in the acronym will help students to become independent readers. This strategy will help students to think about “Key Ideas and Details” during the first quick read. Then they will slow down to think about the passages Craft & Structure. Finally, if done correctly, students will have more than one source of text on the same subject in order to Integrate their knowledge and Ideas. 

The difficult part of this is how do we know students are going through the process of doing a “Close Analytic Read?” Try this strategy because students have to show proof after completing each step. In the margin of a selected passage have students write “TPQ Dr. ACES” vertically. (See example above)

T - Read and Underline the TITLE. This focuses the reader in 
      anticipation of what they will be reading. There is a lot to 
      be said about titles.

P - What is the PURPOSE of this text? (This is where you 
      can use PIE, PEaCH, or PIN or some other way that you 
      have in your bag of trick so that students remember the   
      three main types of writing. There will be more notes on 
      those acronyms in another post.)

Q - Do a QUICK read for the Key Ideas or the "Whole 
      Enchilada." Have students think about the Central Idea 
      and come up with an alternate title. This makes them 
      synthesize their ideas into a few short words. 

DR. - This means DO READ carefully two more times while 
       annotating the text. They will read once for Craft & 
       Structure and once for Integrating Knowledge and 

A - Now students are ready to ANSWER the Text 
      Dependent Questions (TDQs). Hopefully students will  
      have had a chance to have some Post Reading 
      Discussion in a group or with peers.

C - As students answer, they will need to CITE evidence. I 
      used a different color highlighter in the example above.

E - At this point, students are prepared to EVALUATE the 
      text for Credibility, Reliability, Bias, and the Author's 

S - I put the 'S' here but students can figure this out 
     whenever they get enough clues about the STRUCTURE 
     of the text. In this example, Compare and Contrast was    
     used in every paragraph.

Remember doing a Close Read takes a long time. It cannot be done in a single sitting usually. Make sure to pick out high interest passages worthy of multiple readings. For younger students, I have a modified version that I will be posting soon. Let me know if this post was helpful and if you can see yourself using in your classroom. Updates will be coming soon.  

by Charlie Chaffin

Printable Valentine Cards in Spanish

How do you say Happy Valentine's Day in Spanish? "Feliz Día de San Valentín," some people say "Feliz día de los enamorados," but I don't like it for elementary. It literally means "Happy lovers day," so stay away from that term. When I was teaching Spanish Dual Immersion, it was difficult to find cute Spanish Valentine Cards. I made 8 adorable cards with "muu-cho" care. There is a little smart play on words for each card. They have cow and penguin clipart and I also included a 6-month Calendar with Spanish months for students to give away as gifts to parents, teachers, friends, or grandparents. Students simply draw a picture and then you can laminate it. You can also take a cute picture of them and the gift subject and place it in the frame. Super cute gift they will have up for at least six months.

Charlie Chaffin