Monday, March 30, 2009

Focus Frames

A focus frame is a great tool for keeping a student on task.  A student has the focus frame at their seat and can frame a word or answer to a question individually.  Making focus frames is an easy task.  Just use an old manila folder, scissors, and a pattern.  To create the pattern you just cut out two L-shaped pieces, then cut slits in one of them so the other piece can slide into it.  

Many students with motor coordination or visual/spatial organization problems benefit from the use of these frames.  When they view numbers, the numbers often appear out of alignment.  The focus frame allows them to learn to frame and focus on units, then tens, then hundreds.  They uncover what they need to solve the problem, one step at a time.  This is especially helpful in long division.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Give me 5!

Attention-getters are an important part of classroom management.  These are items that should be taught to the class in the first few days of school and used with consistency throughout the year.  Here is one that I recommend.

Give me 5!
The teacher tells the class "Give me 5!" and the class immediately does the following:
1.  Eyes on speaker
2.  Quiet
3.  Be still
4.  Hands free
5.  Listen

If this is taught to the class at the beginning of the year and is an expectation, then the teacher will be able to gain the class attention easily in any situation.  I have also used :

Teacher says: "Alligator, alligator"
Class responds:  "Chomp, chomp" and can include a hand gesture of alligator jaws chomping.
The class is taught from the beginning that the expectation is to join in the choral response and then have eyes on me and voices off.  What have you used that has been successful????

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Reading Strategies: Read a Picture

There are many different reading strategies that can be used with students.  An activity that is good to use with pre-emergent readers is called Read a Picture.  

You will need a  nonfiction picture book, dry erase board, and dry erase marker. 

This activity will use prior knowledge to add meaning to text.  It will also have the student look at picture clues to predict story content.

  1. Write on the dry erase board 2-3 vocabulary words from a nonfiction story.  Select words that connect to illustrations in the book.
  2. Show students each page of the book and have them use picture clues to predict information.
  3. Ask how and why questions.
  4. Read aloud and define the words on the board.
  5. Have students use the listed words to describe the book illustrations.
  6. Then read the story aloud.
  7. Have students compare their predictions to the facts in the story.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

With spring comes the fidgets!

With the warmer weather arriving, many teachers are having to deal with the "fidgets".  Kids are getting restless and keeping their attention in class is a struggle at times.  Let the children have a way to move as part of a procedure or routine.  One idea is:

Teacher's Attention
1 Finger held up = "I wish to speak"

2 Fingers held up = "I wish to leave my seat"

3 Fingers held up = "I need your help"

Pictures should accompany these directions so everyone is on the same page as to how the fingers should be held up.  The teacher should explain the concept, practice the procedure, and then consistently implement the procedure in the classroom.  If you have any ideas, please feel free to share!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Visual Perception Activities

What is visual perception? Some students have difficulty with focusing their eyes. This can impact them in the classroom in a variety of ways. Below is a list of activities that can be done with a student to strengthen their developing visual skills.

  1. Mazes: have the student work a variety of mazes. This will have the added benefit of strengthening fine motor skills also.
  2. Matching, sorting, and labeling objects based on color, shape, size, function, etc.
  3. Sorting and labeling pictures.
  4. Hidden pictures: have students find objects hidden in a picture, like the Where's Waldo photos.
  5. Matching objects to outlines drawn.
  6. Memory games using a small selection of picture cards, and finding pairs.
  7. Spot the Difference: find differences between two photos
  8. What Did You See?: Show 2-5 objects for 15 seconds, cover them or take them away, and have the student recall what they saw.
  9. I Spy: Play the I Spy game. Have the student point to the item that you have named.
  10. Dot-to-dot exercises
This is just a partial list of many activities that can be done to strengthen a student's visual skills. Remember: vision is not just a matter of can they see or not, it also includes tracking skills, focusing from near to far, and many other skills.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Need some help with Rhyming?

Rhyming is a difficult but important skill for children to learn.  Learning to hear that "cat, bat, hat" have similar sounds is an early literacy skill.  If your child/student is having trouble finding a rhyming word they can visit for some help.  They can click on Go Get It! and the rhyming dictionary will give hundreds of possibilities.  It can also help find synonyms, antonyms, definitions, and more.  So visit and enjoy!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Connect Families 2 School

Dear Readers,
I apologize for the brief break in posting. We will be returning to
our regular schedule of posting information beginning today. Please
check out the wonderful offerings that we have to share.


A time for parents to connect with other parents, educators, and
specialists to enhance their knowledge, gain strategies, and increase social and emotional support.

When: Monday, March 9 from 6:30pm to 8 pm
(adults only if possible)

Where: John Pittard Elementary, Murfreesboro City Schools
Music Room

Topic: Sue Humphrey, Occupational Therapist, will be discussing
sensory needs in children. Mrs. Humphrey is an expert in recognizing and assisting families with children who have sensory needs. Come, listen, and participate as Mrs. Humphrey shares her vast experience with sensory regulation and our daily routines.

If there are any questions please call Lori Shea at Pittard at