Using Entrance Slips to Guide Instruction

One teaching "tip" I have that I love to share is how essential formative assessment is to effective teaching.  Research states clearly that knowing WHAT your students know and teaching to address these needs has a HUGE impact on student learning.  Pair this up with quality feedback and you are golden!  

Many people use exit slips at the end of class to see what students have learned. I do this as well--but not as often as I use ENTRANCE slips!  

Entrance slips you ask?  Absolutely!

Consider the number of students you have had in your life who got 100% on every spelling test but spell the same words incorrectly at every other time.  The same can be true with exit slips.  LOTS of students can do well with a topic immediately after being taught.  For me, it is more valuable to see who can still do it the next day or the day after that!  That's why I started using quick learning checks the next day--I wanted to see where my class stood before I started to teach.

Here's where I want to be clear.  The entrance slips I am talking about are not “busy work" for students to do while I take attendance.  They aren't necessarily graded (although they can be).  They can be used to check understanding on academic content OR to get a read on student attitudes and comfort levels and I use them in a couple of ways:
to see if there are any students with major misconceptions
to see if the entire class is missing understanding and I need to reteach

to sort my students into groups for instruction

What I do is hand the students an entrance slip as they come in...they know to just get out a book when they finish. I quickly scan them as I collect them and sort them into piles--usually the "Totally Get It", the "Not Quite Sure" and the "Yikes" piles.  This helps me know exactly who I need to meet with when we have math workshop time.  How do I keep track of it?  I use this sheet...I've whited out names on these from my "grade book" from this past year.

I often create a bunch of these entrance slips to use as I plan any given unit--but I also create them "on the fly" when I feel
the need to take the temperature of the class.  I keep a bunch of easy to use slips that work for any subject copied and ready to use.  

Before I get started with instruction, I often give students one of these, collect them as they finish, and give them a quick glance.  I might sort them into piles.  I might highlight things I notice or things I want to address with the class.  I love that I always have a good sense for where my students are and what I need to do as a teacher to better reach them.  I sometimes change my plan right on the spot based on what I see!

I got tired of creating the same slips over and over so I did finally create a resource that has a TON of easy to use options if you--like me--always want something handy and ready to use.  The entrance slips I have provided come two per page and are low-ink and ready to copy.  Each entrance slip comes with a “suggestion” page where the slip is highlighted with a blue box with ideas for how that slip might be used . . .  like this! I have also divided the entrance slips into two categories—those used to measure academic performance AND those used for students to “self-assess”—whether it be their own understanding, their effort, or their participation.  I really believe it is essential for students to take an active role in their learning—and that they need to be reflective and take ownership of their “job” in the classroom!

I also really want to get students thinking about that self-assessment piece so I’ve included a color and black and white version of an anchor chart I use in my classroom.  Use it as is or create an anchor chart of your own! Finally, to help you start “organizing” the information you get from these entrance slips, I created a simple sheet that you saw in the pictures above that you can use to record your findings.  If you (like me) are trying to do a better job of tracking student progress, grouping, and reteaching—this might help you out!

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Summer Reading List ~ 12 Teaching Ideas Worth the Read

I am always looking for something to read.  I don't always get to it, but I have a lot to choose from come summer.  This week, I've compiled some of our most favorite and popular posts.  Each post provides a teaching tip, idea, inspiration, or all of the above.

10 Ways to Practice Multiplication Facts  

From Teaching With Simplicity

Let's be honest, practicing multiplication facts can be a bore and a chore.  You may want to try these:   Pick-a-Card, Number Draw, Multiplication Pyramid.  Sound interesting?  Read more here...

Math Perseverance

From Teacher Studio

How do you get your students to persevere in Math?  Give them problems that are challenging, but provide them with tools to be successful.  Read more here...

How to Teach the Standards through Social Studies Inquiry Circles

From One Stop Teacher Shop

What are inquiry circles?  They are a lot like research projects, but they begin differently.  Read more here...

5 Reasons to Use Mentor Text with Big Kids

From The Teacher Next Door

Number one, mentor texts can be used across the curriculum.  Read more here...

Getting Math Stations Started

From Learning with Mrs. Santillana

What's the first step?  Create a schedule and have students begin learning about the stations.  Read more here...

Making Deep Connections

From Crafting Connections

Begin by creating an anchor chart that distinguishes surface level connections form deep connections.  Read more here...

Using Picture Books to Teach Cause & Effect

From Teaching Fourth

The Memory String, Pinduli, just to name a couple of books to teach cause and effect.  Read more here...

10 Steps to Prepare for Writing Workshop

From Rocking Resources

For each student you need a composition notebook, two 3-prong pocket folders and....Read more here...

Putting the Spotlight on Mentor Sentences

From Create Teach Share

A mentor sentence is a well-crafted sentence that can be found in any text.  What do you do next?  Read more here...

Grading vs. Noticing

From 2 Brainy Apples

Why give your students a whole page to see if they know how to do something?  Give them 5 problems.  Read more here...

Organizing Books for Read Aloud

From Clutterfree Classroom

There is no better time to organize those read alouds than summer.  Need some ideas and tips accompanied with photos to get started?  Read more here...

Doodle Page Borders

From The 3am Teacher

Who doesn't love free clipart?  On top of that, who doesn't love page borders?  Read more here...

That's it!!   Your summer reading list has been compiled for you, and you now have ideas to save for back to school. We most definitely don't want to get ahead of ourselves, so be sure to enjoy your well-deserved summer!

Happy first official day of summer! Woohoo!!

i-Mazing End-of-the-Year Project

The end of the year is a great time for students to look back and reflect on things they have learned throughout the year. At the end of this year, I put together this simple project to use as a culminating activity for our studies of California and U.S. History!!

This year I had 4/5 split class, and this project was very easy to adjust for each grade level. In social studies, my 4th graders studied California History and my 5th graders studies U.S. History. So, their assignment was to research different California and U.S. symbols and monuments.

To prep, I enlarged and copied this iPad template onto 11x17 paper. {I had to trim 12x18 construction paper, and mess around with our copy machine, just a bit!!}.
Download Here:  POWERPOINT    PDF     PNG

I also copied three app pages for each student...
Download Here:  POWERPOINT     PDF

To begin the project, I provided my students with a list of California and American symbols and landmarks to choose from. Throughout the week, they researched each one and wrote a short paragraph to summarize. They edited and revised their paragraphs, and then copied each of them onto the apps. {I had to remind them to stay in the lines, since they would be cutting them out!!}

After all of their paragraphs were copied, they cut them out and folded them in half. On the outside, they illustrated their symbols and included a title. {Again, they needed reminders to draw their pictures in the right direction, so that the app would flip up, not down, when glued!!}
Finally, they arranged and glued each of their apps onto their iPads.
They loved this project!! My kids love anything technology, they learned so much through their research, and they were so proud of how they turned out in the end!!

While this worked great for my 4th and 5th graders as a culminating project in social studies, it could really be used for just about anything....

  • Reading Strategies
  • Parts of Speech
  • Text Features
  • Geometric Figures
  • Book Summaries (of different books read throughout the year)
  • Short Biographies
  • Biomes/Habitats
  • Rocks and Minerals
  • Solar System/Planets
The possibilities are endless!!!

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Keep Math Skills Sharp Over the Summer!

It's summer vacation - a time to relax, read, and have lots of fun!  I wanted to share with you some links and ideas on how to keep your kids' math skills sharp over the summer.  I collected online websites, apps, fun ideas, and printables. I am sure you can save some of these ideas for when you go back to the classroom as well.  Enjoy!

1. Math Magician 

This site is AMAZING!  I use it during the school year to create some friendly competition among my students.  You can review addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, time, and many other topics.  Click here to view the full list.  Make sure to bookmark this site!

2. MangaHigh

This is my FAVORITE math website to use during free choice in my classroom.  It has the most engaging, fun, educational games!!  Two of my favorite are pictured below (Sundae Times Lite and Flower Power). PEDMAS Blaster Lite is pretty cool too!  Who am I kidding, I also love the Pyramid Panic Lite reviews perimeter!!!  This site is FREE :)

3. Free Apps

1. Marble Math Lite (free) - This is a pretty fun game.  It involves puzzles and multiplication practice.  If your child really enjoys it, they do have a paid version that practices other skills ($2.99).

2. Sushi Monster (free) - Review multiplication facts

3. Mayan Multiplication (free) - The free version has 2 out of the 5 games unlocked.  If your child enjoys them, you can unlock them all for (2.99).  

4. Fun, Interactive Activities

If you are looking for something different (not computer) check out the following sites.  They have some fun, interactive ways to keep math fresh!

  1. 15 math games for grades 3-5
  2. 10 tips to sharpen math skills
  3. Water Balloon Math

5.  Math Practice Sheets

If you are looking for practice sheets, check out a couple of resources from my store.  

Create a Multiplication Math Book
Complete some fun Math Sorts!

Thanks for reading!  I hope you and your children enjoy your summer :)

How to Keep Kids Reading All Summer Long

Summer and reading don't usually go together, but they can! Summer reading for kids is so important. Motivate readers with these great reading tips and strategies so that students are reading all summer long! (I do #3 every day!)

For me, summer is a time for going to the pool, enjoying family vacations, and grilling out some juicy hamburgers! Yum! Yes, summer was made to be fun, and very well should be.  However, summer can also be a great opportunity to help children grow as readers.  Unfortunately, most children's reading levels actually decrease over the summer.  Good news is, there is an easy "fix" to this problem; We must encourage children to continue reading.

Here are a few tips to help you keep kids reading all summer long.  (Parents can do these with their children, and teachers can recommend these tips to parents)

1. Bedtime Reading

Summer and reading don't usually go together, but they can! Summer reading for kids is so important. Motivate readers with these great reading tips and strategies so that students are reading all summer long! (I do #3 every day!)

Bedtime is a great time to encourage reading, especially during the summer when children don't have to wake up as early as throughout the school year.  Set a bedtime and explain that if they would like to stay up a little later, they can, but they have to spend that time reading.  I don't know about you, but my daughter will jump at any reason to stay up later.  After starting this routine in my house, she now begs me for bedtime reading.

2. Use Incentives

Having your child earn rewards for the time they spend reading is a great way to motivate them when they just are not motivated.  Maybe your child loves Minecraft.  You could tell your child that for every 20 minutes of reading they complete, they will get 5 minutes of Minecraft on "whatever day".  You could also use money, a special activity, having a friend over, or anything else your child loves to do.

3. Buddy Read with your child.

Summer and reading don't usually go together, but they can! Summer reading for kids is so important. Motivate readers with these great reading tips and strategies so that students are reading all summer long! (I do #3 every day!)

Tell your child that you want to read with them.  They can read any book they want, while you read your own book.  Find a special place in the house, and just read.  This is my favorite tip because it forces me, as a parent, to stop and spend quality time with my daughter.

4. Use a Visual

Try using a chart to keep track of how much your child is reading.  Some children enjoy seeing their progress, and it almost becomes a game.

5. Set Daily/Weekly Goals

Have your child come up with a goal for how much they are going to read in a week/day, or for how many books they want to finish during the summer break.  Each time your child meets a goal, celebrate with them.  Sometimes just telling them how proud you are is enough!

6. Give Purpose to Their Reading

Summer and reading don't usually go together, but they can! Summer reading for kids is so important. Motivate readers with these great reading tips and strategies so that students are reading all summer long! (I do #3 every day!)

I love reading for pure enjoyment!  However, sometimes it is good to give children a "purpose" for their reading.  One fun way to do this is to give them a question to think about while they read.  For example, "In tonight's reading, which character do you relate to most? Why?".  Or you can give them a fun activity to complete after their reading time.  For example, "Create a comic strip showing what happened in tonight's reading."  If you are looking for some quick and easy questions and activities to go with any book, check out these Reading Homework Activities, and these FREE Fiction and Non-Fiction Activity Sheets.

No matter how you decide to go about keeping your child reading this summer, it is important that you make it a priority.  If it is important to you, it will be important to them.

If you are looking for a list of book titles, here are some free summer reading book lists for you to check out.

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5 Last Minute Activities to End the Year

I don't know about you, but I often get to the last couple days of school and there seems to be some downtime with my excited students.  It may be before awards or after field day, but I find myself scrambling to keep them busy.  If you come to the same predicament, here are some ideas!  Of course if you have finished your year, pack these away for next year!  Woo woo!

1.  What I Predict I Will Be Doing When I Graduate

I love to do this with my class!  Why?  I keep my students' addresses each year and when they are due to graduate, I send them a card!  I include their letters in the card!  It adds an extra touch and are so fun to read and super cute!  This is an example that I recently sent out to a girl who is graduating this week.  She was so excited to receive it!

Some messages from parents:

2.  Summer Bucket List

Help students create some activities to accomplish over the summer!  They can hang it on their refrigerator and check it off as they complete them!


Colored Paper


1. Make copies of list for each student and have them fill it out.

2. Print a copy of the bucket, rim, and shovel.  Create stencils.

3. Either cut out piece ahead of time or have students trace and cut.

4. Glue ribbon, then place rim over it.

5. Cut other pieces out and glue onto bucket.  Waalllaaaa!

3.  Zouch

1.  Cut four even sections out of the left side of a file folder.

2.  Optional:  Tape down each section.

3.  Place students in groups of 4.

4.  Round 1- Draw the head of person, alien, or animal.  Don’t show anyone!  Then draw a little line into the 2nd section to show where you left off.  Close your section and pass your folder to the left.
5.  Round 2.  Open 2nd section of the next folder and look for lines.  Use them to draw the shoulders, chest, and arms.  Drawn lines on where you left off and close your section.  Pass your folder to the left.
6.  Round 3- Open the 3rd section and draw the waist to the knees starting from the lines provided.  Close your section and pass your folder to the left.
7.  Round 4-  Open the 4th section and look for the lines.  Use them to draw from the knees to the feet.  Close you section and pass it back to the original person.

8.  Create a story about your Zouch!  Include name, where he/she lives, and what it does on a daily basis.

4.  Hanging in There

Great bulletin board idea for the last week or two of school.  We're Hanging in There for ___ Days/Hours.  I give each student a teacher or administrator's name.  They have to create them using construction paper.  We hang them from a string in the hall way and each day, we change the amount of days left.  On the last day, we change it to hours!!!  Click on pic for the free poster.

5.  Read Alouds

Last but certainly not least, read aloud are always a staple!  These are my favorites and if there is still time after reading, give them a piece of bulletin board paper to illustrate, quote, or write about the story!

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