Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Four Fabulous Ways to Rejuvenate and Prevent Teaching Burnout

As teachers, we face so many demands. We give it our all each and everyday, day in and day out. If you have been teaching for several years, it is quite possible that you have experienced some type of teacher burnout. Whether you simply had one day to fall apart, and you felt despair; or whether you experienced one of those years that you thought would never end, many of us have experienced some type of burnout. Now that the middle of the school year is here, many of us find ourselves facing possible burnout. Teacher burnout can be overcome, and better yet, it can potentially be avoided. Before we reach that point, let's look at some ways to help us prevent teacher burnout and renew that joy that we have for teaching. (Be sure to keep reading! There is a freebie at the end!)


1. Add some excitement and sparkle back into your lessons. If your routine has become predictable and monotonous, then perhaps it's time to change up the lesson plans just a bit. Complicated lesson plans and activities are not necessary for a little excitement in your lesson. Adding sparkle could be as simple as incorporating an exciting video segment into a lesson, using a fun PowerPoint lesson, or adding some seasonal art or activities into the day. Students can get excited about the simplest activities, and that excitement can certainly be contagious and exciting for us as well.

I have several grammar PowerPoint lessons in my store that are sure to add some sparkle to your lessons. These are a super easy way to incorporate sparkle in your lessons.
Combining art and grammar is a great way to add sparkle to a lesson, too. My students love my Seasonal Parts of Speech Quilts. These are a fun way to review grammar, provide some fun coloring, and decorate your walls all at the same time! My winter set is perfect for this time of the year!


2. Do something for yourself that is not related to school. Take a class (art, music, dance, etc.). Try something new and fun, or simply do something relaxing. Get a pedicure, a manicure, or find time to get the hair cut you've been putting off for months. (Am I the only one that can't seem to find time???) Starting a new hobby or craft can certainly be relaxing as well. I personally love crocheting. It is such a relaxing activity, and it can take my mind away from the stresses of work so that I can feel rejuvenated the next day! The point is to do something completely unrelated to school!


3. Volunteer. Volunteer at a local charity or church. Doing something for others can help lift one's spirits tremendously.


4. Change things up in your classroom, and spend some time reconnecting with your class. One way to reconnect is with some of the get-to-know you activities that are usually considered beginning of the year activities. Sometimes at the middle of the year, our classroom management system might need some minor adjustments. Our students can become complacent to the system that we have in place, so perhaps it is time to change things up just a bit.

If you have not started brag tags, this could be a great time to begin. Brag tags do not have to start at the beginning of the school year. Now would be a great time to begin, and your students are sure to love them! I offer a set of bee themed brag tags in my store that might be perfect to help your students "bee" their best!
This is also a great time to motivate your students and encourage them to do their best the last half of the year. One great way to do this is to use motivational posters. I have several varieties of motivational posters in my store, but these Winter Themed Motivational Posters would be a great addition to any classroom and are an easy way to redecorate your classroom for the winter months.  Classroom management is noted as one of the major causes of burnout. Creating a positive classroom environment will certainly go a long way in helping prevent teacher burnout.

For another fun motivational idea, use these letters to post in the room every time students are caught being good. The fun part comes when the class spells out Fun Friday. We usually celebrate with something fun. It can be something as simple as a game afternoon with partner games like tic tac toe or the connect the dots game, class games such as heads up seven up, puzzles or board games, a short video, popcorn, free time, etc. You can find these free in my store! Just click the image below.

Fun Friday Behavior Motivator

There are many ways to prevent teaching burnout. Although teaching is a stressful job, it is one of the most rewarding careers. Always keep at heart the lives that you are touching each and everyday. You are truly important, and if no one has told you lately, thank you for all that you do! You are truly special!

Have a bless day!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas in the Classroom

I love the Christmas season, and so do the students in my classroom. After our Thanksgiving break, we have three weeks until Christmas break. While we strive to continue to make the most of each instructional day, students still enjoy fun Christmas activities. I try to sneak in some fun activities to make these weeks enjoyable for the students.These are a few ways that I incorporate Christmas into my classroom.

Christmas Tree

My students were so excited to see the decorated Christmas tree on the first day back from Thanksgiving. A Christmas tree does not have to be very large or elaborately decorated, but my students love seeing a Christmas tree in their classroom. In fact, I used a tree from home that I decided to retire this year from my house decorations. The ornaments were from a theme that I had used in my home as well and decided not to use this year. I have a good teacher friend who has a large classroom closet. She stores her small tree completely decorated, and all she has to do is pull it out each year and set it on a table. How smart is that?

Christmas Art

Unfortunately art in the classroom often takes a backseat to all of the demands of the required curriculum. Having a daughter who is an artist at heart, I understand the need for art in schools. We, unfortunately, do not have an art teacher at our school, so I do try to include at least a few fun art activities throughout the school year, especially during holidays. Jenny, from Art with Jenny, has some wonderful and fun activities that are perfect for the Christmas season. This year, I chose this simple, but adorable Gingerbread Man Collaboration Door Poster, and I wish you could have heard the oohs and ahs from my students when I revealed the final product. They thought this was the best activity ever,  and they were so proud!

I also enjoy an art activity into my reading and language lessons whenever possible, and this Christmas Parts of Speech Quilt packet is a great way to do this! My students love doing these, and they are a fun way to review parts of speech and a great decoration for the holiday season as well.

Christmas Poster Decorations

I love decorating my classroom for Christmas, but finding the time and energy is sometimes a little challenging. These Christmas themed motivational posters are the perfect solution. All I had to do was print them out and hang them up. I thought they looked perfect around the Christmas tree. They are a simple way to decorate the room.

Christmas Books

One of my favorite ways to incorporate Christmas into the classroom is with the huge variety of picture books available. Even upper elementary students love reading picture books about Christmas. We partner read Christmas picture books, I use them for model lessons and strategies lessons, and we read them for the pure enjoyment. There are so many wonderful choices for Christmas books. My next blog post will feature several of my favorites.

Christmas Graphic Organizers

Christmas themed graphic organizers are not only perfect to use with Christmas books, but they are great to use with any book during the Christmas season. Students love using these, and they are a great way to sneak in a little fun while the students are thinking about and writing about their reading. This set is available in my store.
Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

4 Fabulous Thanksgiving Themed Books for Upper Elementary Students

Four Fabulous Thanksgiving books that your upper elementary students will enjoy are also perfect for last minute lesson planning. (I mean, am I the only one who does last minute? Please tell me I'm not!) These books are perfect for read-alouds, partner reading, or small groups.

The Very First Thanksgiving

Although this is a very simply written book, The Very First Thanksgiving is an excellent book for upper elementary to introduce a lesson or a discussion on the first Thanksgiving. Students enjoy the rhyme and rhythm as well as the beautiful illustrations. I personally love sharing the author's note and illustrator's note at the beginning of the book with my students. This is a great choice for a read-aloud.

A Plump and Perky Turkey

This is simply a fun book that even upper elementary students love! The story is enjoyable, the rhyme and rhythm are musical, and the illustrations are adorable in this entertaining picture book. This story always brings a smile to my students' faces and is a perfect read-aloud for those days before Thanksgiving. It is also a great book to use as a before activity to introduce  a fun Thanksgiving art activity or a writing activity.

Milly and the Macy's Parade

This is a great example of historical fiction. This is a sweet fictional story of a little girl who inspired the Macy's Parade. Milly and her story are completely made-up, nevertheless, it is still a sweet read-aloud for your students. Also, Scholastic has some wonderful freebies to use with this book.

Molly's Pilgrim

This is probably my favorite Thanksgiving book to use in my classroom. Although the reading level is only 3rd grade, the message of this story makes it a wonderful choice to use with your upper elementary students. So many topics can be discussed, taught, and reviewed with this book: point of view, author's point of view, compare and contrast, character analysis, and inference. Even more important is the message that is prevalent in this story. Students will easily recognize the theme, "It takes all kinds of Pilgrims to make a Thanksgiving."

I have uploaded two free graphic organizers to my store just for you! These easy print and go graphic organizers will be a great activity for the last few days before Thanksgiving.  Click here to download your free graphic organizers to use with this book.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving items from my store:

You may also enjoy these quick and easy "Owl" About My Thanksgiving printables from my store. They are the perfect activity to do the last few days before Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Activities Poster
Your students will also enjoy these Thanksgiving Themed Graphic Organizers. Use them with Thanksgiving themed books or with any book or story to add some Thanksgiving fun to your November reading classroom.
Thanksgiving Graphic Organizers
My students are loving these Thanksgiving Parts of Speech Grammar Quilt! This is such a fun way to review grammar while sneaking in a little fun with coloring. They make a great hall or classroom  display.
Thanksgiving Parts of Speech Quilt
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 10, 2016

My New TpT Seller's Package

Is it just me, or is this time of year busy? I know we have been busy at my school with meetings, activities, getting ready for visitors, etc. Not only have I been busy at school, but I have also been busy adding some new products to my store, and  I just wanted to give you an opportunity to one of them. Countless hours were spent creating my new TpT Seller's Package, and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. This was my first attempt at creating digital papers, and I must admit, I really enjoyed creating these. These digital papers are inspired by my border designs. Of course, borders in various shapes are included in this package, as well as colorful circles, headers, and banners. This is simply a great package for creating your TpT products, cover pages, etc. I would love to give one away to someone, so if you would like a chance to win, simply
1. Follow me on Instagram @teachingfourthwithkellyb
2. or Pin the image below and leave the link in my comments.
3. Leave comment below letting me know which one you chose along with your email address so that I can get in touch with you if you win.

Update: Winner of this bundle is Karyn! Thank you so much for visiting, and I hope you enjoy this set!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Digital Papers Freebie

If you follow my TpT store, you know that I love creating borders. I find it relaxing and somewhat therapeutic to draw and design new borders and frames. After a long day at school, it is nice to sit down, relax, and create new designs. It was just a fluke that I even began creating borders, and to be truthful, I never, ever believed that anyone would buy them. After uploading my first set, I thought, "I'll give these a couple of days, and if no one purchases these, I'll simply delete them." To my amazement, that first set still sells almost daily, and the response to my borders has been phenomenal.

My latest creation contains not only borders, but colorful and coordinating digital papers inspired from my most popular borders, and as a gift to you, I have just uploaded a freebie to my store containing a small sample from this package. Three digital papers along with one square frame are included in this free sample. Just click the image below to go to my TpT store and download this for free!
If you like this sample, check out the entire TpT Seller's Package at my store.

You'll find colorful digital papers,

matching frames, banners, and ribbons,
and borders. All of these things are available at a great price!

This seller's bundle is a great set for creating product covers, classroom activities, and more! There are many possibilities when you combine this package along with your creativity!

Don't forget to download the freebie! Enjoy, and have a blessed day!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

4 Fabulous Ideas for Teaching Theme

Teaching theme in fourth grade is not easy, but it is very rewarding to see the students' little light bulbs come on! In my experience, students need many opportunities to find theme in stories, and I love giving my students a variety of ways to do this.

 Picture Books

To introduce the concept of theme, I love using picture books. Using picture books as model text is one of my favorite things to do in reading, and for me, it is a great way to introduce theme. Some of my favorite picture books for teaching them include:

Mr. Peabody's Apples
 I am not a Madonna fan, but I do love this book by her and the message in this story. The theme of, "You should not spread rumors about others" or " Once a rumor is spread, you can never take back those words" are themes that most students can easily recognize in this book. I highly recommend this book if you can locate a copy. Unfortunately, I think this book is now out of print, but you may be able to locate a used copy. I stumbled upon this book  several years ago at our local used book store and have never regretted the purchase. I use it every year for multiple skills and strategies.
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
Although the reading level of this book is lower, the theme in this sweet story about a special friendship may be slightly more challenging for some of your students to express, but it is worth the challenge. Students will enjoy this story as well as the theme of, "Friendships can span generations."

Three Hens and a Peacock
 This is a fun story with colorful illustrations. Your students will quickly recognize the theme of "Always be yourself" in this humorous story. This is a great choice for those struggling with theme.

The Junkyard Wonders
Finally, any of Patricia Polacco books are wonderful choices when teaching theme. The Junkyard Wonders  was my choice this year to use with my students while teaching theme. Most students can easily recognize the theme of "Never give up" in this beautifully told story.

Anchor Charts

After reading aloud Sister Anne's Hands, the students and I worked together to chart the character's words and actions, our inference, and the author's message of the story. This modeling activity helped my students tremendously in understanding and finding theme. This year, I actually began teaching theme by reading this book aloud to the class as a model text. We discussed and "turned and talked" throughout the story. we then worked together to create the anchor chart. Finally, I paired up the students and gave each pair the books that I listed above (in #1). After partner reading the picture books, students worked together to create charts in their journals similar to the chart above.

 I have also included a link to a free journal reference page for theme. Simply print the page, cut it in half, and give one-half to each student to use as a reference when searching for, writing about, or discussing theme with groups or a partner. This freebie will make a great reference for your students.

Theme Songs

My students loved the next activity that we used to review theme. I played the theme song to "Fuller House," and my students worked together to determine the theme of the song. (Families are always there for you. Families will stick together. etc.) This was a fun, quick activity to open up a review lesson on theme. It definitely caught my students' attentions, and they loved singing along. The link to the theme song on Youtube is here: Fuller House Theme Song  If your students are not familiar with this show or song, you may want to play the longer version with the words Fuller House theme song with words and focus on the chorus of the song.
Also, if you are not familiar with SafeShare.TV, this is a great way to show Youtube videos in your classroom to insure only the video and no inappropriate content will be shown. It takes away any advertisements before an video previews at the end. It is a must in your classroom if you are showing Youtube video clips, and it is very quick and easy to use. I have this on my favorites bar so that it is just a click away.

Graphic Organizers

If you have followed me for a while now, you probably already know that I love using graphic organizers. After going through extensive training on reading strategies several years ago, I became hooked on graphic organizers, and the results I saw in my classroom convinced me that graphic organizers are an excellent tool that I want to continue to use with my students. For me, there is no question about using graphic organizers when teaching theme. My best selling Common Core: Graphic Organizers for Reading Literature contains 4 graphic organizers perfect for teaching theme, moral, and lessons in stories. They are a fabulous way for students to use with any book or story and to write about their reading. They also make a great assessment tool as well.  This packet comes highly recommended. I'd love for you to check out all of the wonderful reviews on this set.

I hope you found these ideas helpful for your own classroom! Thanks so much for dropping by, and have a blessed day!