Words of Wisdom and Practical Tools
Shared by teachers in classrooms like yours across the state. Learn from colleagues who have been in your shoes, as they share specific skills and strategies to improve engagement and learning in the classroom.
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Learn the engaging “Counting in a Circle” or “Sparkle” activity from teacher leader Kara Holtzman. This versatile routine is perfect for practicing counting and can be adapted for all elementary grade levels. Discover how to use it for multiplication, skip counting, spelling, vocabulary, and more. Keep the pace fast and fun to boost fluency while building classroom camaraderie.
Robin Walker, an educator from the Santa Maria-Bonita School District, shares the “Did You Know That..?” activity, a powerful tool for connecting with students from second grade to high school. In this simple exercise, students write freely in small notebooks, sharing thoughts, concerns, or experiences. The teacher responds, fostering open communication and building trust. It’s about giving students a voice and nurturing meaningful connections in the classroom.
Chris Lewis, an educator at Mountain View High School in El Monte, introduces the “See, Mean, Matter” strategy for analyzing political cartoons. This approach guides students through three steps: understanding the historical context, dissecting artistic techniques, and deciphering the cartoon’s message. This strategy enhances media literacy by helping students decode visual messages.
Julie Kanel, a reading specialist, shares three interactive “Listening Word Games” for young learners, promoting phonemic awareness. These games, suitable for grades TK to 2, help improve students’ reading and spelling skills. The activities include “I Spy” for beginning and ending sounds and rhyming, “Guess My Object” where students deduce the object based on clues, and “Rhyming Categories” to reinforce rhyming and sound discrimination. These games make phonics practice engaging and enjoyable.
Kate Bowen, an experienced Elementary Consultant, shares an effective strategy called “Sentence Stretchers” to enhance students’ writing skills. Using four sentence strips labeled A, B, C, and D, students construct detailed sentences by adding descriptors and rearranging the strips for variety. This approach improves writing quality, engages students in creative sentence construction, and suits various grade levels.