Monday, April 16, 2012

The Enabling Parent - Part 1

Don’t you just love how parents like to have important meetings at the spur of the moment? You know, like you’re prepared for anything and have all the answers without preparation for their questions? Well that’s what happened to me today.

Here’s a little back story before I tell you about the Enabling Mom. One of my students didn't finish his math assessment yesterday. We took the assessment in the morning and he was the last student still working on his test, so I told him he could have the rest of the day to finish it during his free time. Long story short, the kid didn’t finish his assessment because he chose to do “fun” things instead during his free time. At the end of the day, I collected his test, graded it, and he received a 50%.

Today as I was supposed to be watching the kids during after school dismissal, the mom (let’s refer to her as Nancy the Enabler) marches up to me wanting to have a long discussion about why I should allow her child to have extra time to finish his test. I then proceeded to inform her that her son didn’t chose to finish his test during his free time. Nancy was still very insistent that I allow her son the extra time since it was basically my fault for not reminding him. Hold on! Here’s what I wanted to say in response, “You’re crazy, woman! It’s because of your enabling that he’s become codependent. You remind him too much about what he needs to get done so he’s not learning responsibility.” Of course that’s not what I really said... I do love my job and intent on keeping it.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Enabling Parent to see how I really responded.

  The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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Global Professional Development

In my “past life” as a teacher in a big county in the state of Georgia, United States, I never considered professional development – unless my principal asked me to present something to the staff.  Otherwise, it was always taken care of by the school and/or the county.   Even in tight times, when there wasn’t money to pay for presenters to come in, there was always some sort of development happening, because the schools would pool resources and pull from different staff members etc.  Everythings Intermediate Expo - Global Professional Development

My current school is great, but we are a small school and our teachers mainly speak a different language from the language of the country.  So, this often leaves us reaching for professional development opportunities.  Needless to say, when I presented the Everything’s Intermediate Expo to my principal – she was very excited.  I personally can’t wait to see what the other teacher presenters have to say.  I have recorded a presentation on strategies for teaching English Language Learners.  There will also be presentations on: Integrating Technology, Using Interactive Notebooks and Modifying Math Instruction.

Everything's Intermediate Expo - English Language Learner StrategiesWebinars are a great form of professional development.  They give you a chance to attend seminars without the need for travel – and they are available to everyone who has a computer with the internet – making them a truly “Global” form of Professional Development.  Plus, you can attend in your PJ’s if you want to!

What is professional development like at your school?  Could you benefit from a webinar like the Everything’s Intermediate Expo?

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources    Raki's Rad Resources

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Parent Communication

Many teachers know that to one of the keys to successful teaching is parent communication.  There are many ways we can communicate with parents: conferences, phone calls, emails, and/or notes sent home.  The easiest way for me to communicate with parents on a consistent basis is by sending notes home.

Usually, when I want to communicate something to parents I have a form I’ve filled out and sent home.  I have created forms for just about everything!  Here are some forms I use to communicate with parents.  You can download the forms by clicking on the link.

1. Daily Behavior - Whether it’s good or bad, I like parents to know how well their child did in my class today.  

2. Major Incidents - When students have a bad day or if another student involved your student in something serious, there’s a form for that.

3. Thinking About Behavior Sheet - I have students fill out this form at the end of the day if they didn’t have good behavior.  It’s a chance for the student to reflect on his/her behavior, recognize what he/she did wrong, and make plans to change it in the future.  

4. Absences - When your student is absent and you want to communicate with the parent what he/she missed that day, download this form.

5. Tardies - If your student has had a large number of tardies, fill out this form and send it home.

6. Missing Assignments - Any missing assignments that you want parents to know about?

7. Missing Supplies - If your student is missing any classroom supplies, fill out the form and send it home with a due date on it.

8. Redo Assignment at Home - If you want your student to redo an assignment at home that they did poorly on in class, download this form.

9.  Redo Assignment in Class - If you had your student redo an assignment in class and want to communicate with the parents that you let their child have a 2nd chance, grab this form.

The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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Getting Rid of Plastic Bags

Part of being a part of a “global teaching community” should be getting our students involved in the collaboration.  From now on, each month Global Teacher Connect will host a collaborative project, hosted by one of our authors, which will allow you to get your class collaborating with other classes around the world.

I am Heidi Raki of Raki’s Rad Resources, and I am proud to be hosting the first collaborative project.  My project is focused on Earth Day and plastic bags.  Living in Casablanca, Morocco, plastic bags No More Plastic Bags Collaborative Project(called “micas” here) are everywhere!  When you go to the store you get them for everything and they end up all over the place, in the street, on the beach, in the water – it’s just kind of atrocious to look at.  So, for Earth Day, I am going to talk to my students about choosing not to use plastic bags.  Then, we’re going to take home and hopefully sign a “Bag Free Pledge” to go bag free until the end of April.  Each day (starting on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 and ending on Bag Free Pledge Form FreeMonday, April 30, 2012) I will ask my students to tell me one time that they, or someone in their family chose not to take the plastic bag.  I will record their anecdotes and post them back here.  If you would like to participate in this collaborative project you can also post your students anecdotes here.


To participate in the Getting Rid of Plastic Bags Global Collaborative Project, follow these steps:

1.)  Add an initial comment to this post telling us where you are located, what grade level you teach, and how many students will be participating.  (Also open to homeschooling parents – you’ll just list one or two students, instead of 20!)

2.)  Grab a Bag Free Pledge Form to use with your class – it has been translated in French and Spanish and is available via Google Docs.  Talk to your students about how plastic bags are bad for the environment (here are a two sites you can use:  How a 10 Year Old in India Got Rid of Bags, Video on Using Green Bags from Australia).

3.)  Check back at least once with anecdotes from your students between April 17, 2012 and April 30, 2012.  You are welcome to share anecdotes as often as you would like, but please share at least once.  (Please share using first names only, if you are not comfortable using first names, give each student a number and use their number to share – ie.  Student 1 said “xxxx”.)

4.)  Read the anecdotes from other schools with your students so that they can be aware that we are all working together to rid the world of plastic bags.


Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources      Raki's Rad Resources

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

What’s the Weather Like?

Who’s writing this blog? Lots of people – each from a different place and with a different story.

Who’s reading this blog? Lots of people from all around the world.

So, each week, there will be a Getting to Know You question posted so that we can all come together as a Global Community and get to know each other better.

Do you have a question about us you would like answered? Feel free to email you question to us at heidiraki @ gmail . com.


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Teaching English On-Line

Although I have taught ESL for over 20 years as a classroom teacher I have also taught English On-Line for 4 years for a Korean E-Learning Company. After my first year I started writing my own Speaking Lessons which I could upload into the virtual classroom. Since there is a limited amount of time and number of times a week that students study I wanted to insure that students were speaking for at least 70% of the class time. I incorporated Sheltered Instruction Strategies which were very successful in the regular elementary classroom and saw wonderful improvement in student's speaking proficiency with my on-line lessons. Here is a free Beginner Speaking Lesson which is part of a 3 Beginner Speaking Lesson packet. I would love for you to download your free lesson and give me feedback. I haven't added a lot more lessons as there hasn't been a great market for them and hope this Global Teacher community will help all of us demonstrate that good teaching is good teaching. I found that using Sheltered Instruction strategies benefited all my students.
If you like this lesson I hope you will let me know.
Arlene at LMN Tree

 How many of you teach English on-line? What are your greatest challenges?                                        
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

International Day

Each year, my school puts on an International Day.  Each of the elementary classrooms choose a country to study.  The students and/or teacher (depending on the age group) gather information Student Presentations on the Democratic Republic of Congoabout that country: the language, the religion, the food, the animals, the clothes, the flag, the plants etc.  During the week leading up to International Day, the students visit the other classrooms to learn about the countries.  Then, on International Day, parents come in for the big finale.  Students get dressed up in traditional clothes of their country.  There is food to taste from each country, and the students present what they have learned to their parents.  After all of the presentations, the entire school gathers together for Student Created African Masks for Project on the Democratic Republic of Congosongs, skits and dances from the different countries.  Finally, we end it all by singing We are the World.

This year, my class chose the Democratic Republic of Congo for International Day.  One of my students is from this country, and her mom came in to help us out – she let the students interview her, as well as making the costumes and the food!  My students learned about the rainforest, two animals that can’t be found anywhere else, a volcano eruption, and fufu – the national dish of the DRC.  They painted the flag of Congo and made traditional Congolese masks in Art.  They also learned a play Rainforest Classroom Display with the Congo Rivercalled Never Cry Croc – the Congolese version of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.  It was a great learning experience for them!

Does your school do anything to celebrate other countries?


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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How do you practice handwriting?

I recently wrote a post on my blog about one of the ways my students practice their handwriting.  You can read it and grab a freebie page here.

How do you practice handwriting around the world? 

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I Think I Misunderstood You

I love my students.  They continually make me laugh on a daily basis and truly make me love my job. 

Today the students came back from Art class and the first few students ran to their desks and I heard a cacophony of, “I’m first” and “No, I was first.”

I made the general comment to those filtering in after, “You guys are so competitive.”  Once the students were settled, one of my girls raised her hand and asked in a sad voice, “Did you say we were pathetic?”

I was so worried that she misheard what I said and clarified, “No!  I said COMPETITIVE,” I re-enunciated the word, “COMPETITIVE.  Not pathetic.”  Then she sighed a relief and smiled and we all had a good laugh.

I’m so glad she said something to me, though. Can you imagine if she went home and told her parents that I called the kids pathetic?  Phew!

The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Do You Speak English?

When you live in a country where you don’t speak the language on the street – you get excited to hear English – in any form.  When we first got here, my kids would get so excited over everyone who knew even a few words of English.  Now, they have enough Arabic to play with friends, so English isn’t as exciting, but they still look forward to having over friends who speak English – in whatever form.image

One of the things I have learned in this move is that there are lots and lots of different versions of English.  I work with a few wonderful ladies from England who have helped me learn about the differences between British English and American English – starting with the word rubber, which means eraser in American English.  I have also come in contact with teachers, parents and other ex-pats from: Ireland, the Phillipeans, India, Belgium and Canada.  Each of these people have had different ways of saying words that are very familiar to me.  I kept telling myself that “my” English was the “correct” English.  Then, I sat down with a parent from India who had spoken English his entire life.  During this conference, the parent told me how hard of a time he head understanding me, and let me know that his child may also be having a hard time understanding my English.  This conversation reminded me that my English was only one form of this language.  Many people around the world speak English with their own accent and dialect.  Each form of English is the “correct” form of English for that particular community. 

Being a part of the global English speaking community means knowing and understanding English in all of it’s forms.  What “English” words or phrases have ever made you pause and say in your head – “Are you sure you’re speaking English?”

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

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Guarding Yourself Against Germs

Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to turn you into a “germaphobe,” (which I don’t think would be a bad thing, I do have some “germaphobic” tendencies myself). Simply these are  tips I use to help myself from getting sick.

Like most teachers, I get sick all the time.  Kids usually have difficulties with sharing, but not when it comes to germs! I have literally had a student sneeze on their paper, and then hand it to me (of course I didn’t collect it until I put on rubber gloves, a mask, and continued to spray it with with Lysol until it was crispy).   So here are some ways to protect yourself against your generous students:
  1. Don’t eat and grade papers simultaneously.  Again, refer back to my comment about the kid sneezing on his paper.  Kids are picking their nose, rubbing their eyes, and spreading their germs all over their work.  If you touch it, then feed yourself, it only makes sense that you are going to catch what they have.
  2. Sanitize EVERYTHING!! Ok, maybe not everything, but pay attention to what your students touch most: door handles, desks, the sink, the classroom phone, computer keyboards, etc.  I love using Clorox Wipes to clean these items, they have been a life-saver (or more appropriately, a health-saver).
  3. Don’t allow kids to take work home when they’re sick.  This will depend on what your school policy is for absent kiddos.  We have a pretty open policy at our school (which I don’t like very much), but if a kid is sick, the parent can come to school to pick up any work they missed.  I usually tell them that I prefer the student wait until they get back to collect the work they missed.  Think about it though: If a kid a sick and they’re completing their missed work from school, they’re getting all their germs all over their work and then turning it into you.  Then you’re going to get sick and probably infect some of your students, so it’s really best for your health if you wait until they return to school.
  4. Keep sanitizer readily available.  I keep red buckets at each desk group filled with items the kids use on a daily basis.  One of these items is hand sanitizer.  The students have access to it whenever they need it, especially right after sneezing or blowing their nose.
  5. Teach your students how to sneeze or cough in their arm.  I like to refer to this as the Dracula method.  Getting them to cover their germs with their arm eliminates the amount of germs on their hands, which means fewer germs you come in contact with.
There you have it.  Stay healthy, teachers!
The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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I tag YOU!

Krista from The Second Grade Super Kids sent me this fun game to know about fellow bloggers. I thought it could be fun tagging all of you (Global Teacher Connect authors). Please visit my blog for more information. And don't feel bad if you don't have the time to follow this game, it's just for doing some blog hopping.
I could not write a comment on all your blogs so I hope you see this. It is a good way to see all our blogs and get to know each other.
Have fun!

Lita Lita
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Monday, April 9, 2012

The Red Buckets

Here’s a quick tip for organizing items your students use on a daily basis  My classroom configuration is set up so that my students are always sitting in groups.  I like to keep one red bucket (shown in the picture) at each group.

Inside the buckets you will find highlighters, hand sanitizer, sticky notes, flashcards, extra pencils and erasers, and homeless pencils (sometimes they find their way back).  These are items we use pretty much every day.  It helps to keep them organized and by using these buckets kids can reach them easily without getting up and distracting other members of the class.

I found these buckets at a teacher’s store where they were a bit costly.  I’ve also seen them at the dollar store for about the same quality, but a lot more cost effective.

To read about how much I love the dollar store, click here and here.

The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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I wonder if anyone else has stumbled upon StumbleUpon? I supposed it is like Pinterest, except we are looking at the actual website rather than a picture from it. It does look like a promising way to get the word out on GTC and our personal blogs.

I signed up yesterday, added their badge to my blog and have already found heaps of fantastic resources like this one: Fun Family Crafts.

The only thing I found a bit odd about is that on their "Interest" tool, they don't have anything like Kindergarten, Preschool, Teaching, Elementary Education, etc. so I have had to categorize my interests under "Kids" or "For Kids".

Any thoughts on this? Is anyone using this site and do you find it worthwhile? I would love to hear your comments.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Getting Creative with Nature...


Look at the portfolio covers in the picture above. Aren't they cute? Especially the coconuts! The students who created these had the option of decorating their portfolios about wetlands in any way they wanted. Some students printed real pictures of a wetland, others drew theirs (which I also liked).  But these students chose to use a mixture of drawing and a few real materials from nature. I have a weakness for craft and creativity. When I saw these finely detailed portfolio covers, I fell in love! (I held back some of my excitement because I wanted the other students to know that I appreciated their efforts as well.)

They explained to me that they used different parts of a palm tree (which is a much smaller cousin of the coconut palm tree) to make the fallen tree branches and the coconuts that you see in the picture. They also used twigs to represent a log, cotton for clouds, stones for rocks, and grass and seaweed to represent marshes and bushes. Of course, all students got the same mark for creativity, no matter how they chose to represent a wetland on their front covers. I do not believe in assessing a child's art work because all children have different levels of artistic ability so it would not be fair for me to do so. But I do enjoy giving them avenues for their creativity to shine.

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Daily Behavior Color Change Chart

Here’s a great method for keeping track of your students’ daily behavior.  I have a color change chart in the back of my classroom.  Here’s how it works.  Every day the kids start on the color green.  If students have trouble following directions, they “change their color.”  Behind the green cards shown in the picture are yellow, orange, purple, and red.  Here is a breakdown of what each color represents (you may want to refer to my blogs about using tickets as a reward system. 

  • Green:  Student had a great day - gain 1 ticket
  • Yellow: Student received a warning - loss of 1 ticket
  • Orange: Student received 2 warnings for either the same or a different infraction - loss of 2 tickets
  • Purple:  Student received 3 warnings for either the same or different infractions - phone call home
  • Red:  Student received 4 warnings for either the same or different infractions - student gets to spend quality time with the principal.
Looking for resources to document student behavior?  Click here

The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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Saturday, April 7, 2012

What Time Zone Are You In?

Who’s writing this blog? Lots of people – each from a different place and with a different story.

Who’s reading this blog? Lots of people from all around the world.

So, each week, there will be a Getting to Know You question posted so that we can all come together as a Global Community and get to know each other better.

Do you have a question about us you would like answered? Feel free to email you question to us at heidiraki @ gmail . com.


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Organizing Students' Missed Work

Here’s a quick tip for how to keep all those papers organized when a student is absent. When passing out worksheets,  keep all of their papers they’ve accumulated throughout the day on their desk.  Then at the end of the day, gather their missed work and staple it to a cover sheet.   Write everything the student missed while they were absent and include the date that it is due.  That way, you have an organized list of every item that was completed that day and it makes things much easier when it’s time to fill in those holes in your gradebook!

You can download the cover sheet I use in the teacher resources section or by clicking here:  Absent Work

The Resourceful Teacher Blog
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Friday, April 6, 2012

Fun Writing / Art Activity

The Resourceful Teacher BlogCheck out these cute monsters the students created!  Click here to see how we made them and what they wrote about.
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