How To Teach Author's Purpose: It's As Easy As P.I.E.

Understanding the author's purpose is a crucial skill for elementary students to develop as it enhances their reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. By understanding the author's intent, students can gain deeper insights into the text and engage with it on a more meaningful level. 

First, it is important to expose students to author's purpose through a variety of text, including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, newspaper articles and advertisements. I like to guide my students through this process using these posters: 

They act as a great visual reminder and anchor chart for the students to reference (click the picture above to grab your free copy). 

I start our lessons by reading a passage aloud and ask the students to determine the author's purpose. I ask questions such as "Is the author trying to make you laugh or tell you a story?" or "Is the author giving you facts or opinions?" I like to use task cards with the whole class when first introducing the concept too. The stories are short and can keep the attention of my students. They give them just enough information and everyone can be successful.

Providing activities that explicitly focus on identifying author's purpose allows students to actively apply their knowledge and demonstrate their understanding of the concept. My students loved creating their author's purpose flapbooks.

The kids sorted different types of text and glued them under the corresponding author's purpose. The small group discussions were amazing! The kids were trying to convince one another why a certain text belonged with a specific author's purpose. It was awesome to listen to their reasoning and PERSUADE one another to think a certain way. We had a discussion about this afterward.

I don't have a TON of space to display things in my classroom. I put a few flap books up on our concept board, next to our anchor posters. This will allow the kids to use them as reference for other activities we will be doing next week. The rest of the students glued them into their interactive language notebooks. You can grab this activity and more in my Author's Purpose Pack.

I hope you are able to use these author's purpose ideas with your students too!


Beating the Summer Slide: 7 Strategies to Keep Elementary Student Learning on Track

As summer approaches, students and parents eagerly anticipate the break from school, envisioning days filled with sunshine, fun, and relaxation. While summer is undoubtedly a time for rejuvenation, it also brings with it the potential for a phenomenon known as the "summer slide." The summer slide refers to the loss of academic skills and knowledge that can occur during extended breaks, particularly among elementary students. In this blog post, we will explore what the summer slide is and provide seven effective strategies to help students avoid it, ensuring their learning continues to thrive even during the summer months.

What is the Summer Slide?

The summer slide refers to the decline in academic skills and knowledge that takes place when students are not actively engaged in learning during extended breaks, such as the summer vacation. Research shows that students can lose, on average, one to three months of academic progress over the summer, with the greatest losses occurring in math and reading comprehension. The cumulative effect of these learning gaps can hinder students' academic growth and place them at a disadvantage when the new school year begins.

Strategies to Avoid the Summer Slide:

  1. Engage in Summer Reading: Encourage students to develop a reading habit during the summer. Set reading goals, create a cozy reading nook at home, and provide access to a variety of age-appropriate books that cater to their interests. Consider enrolling them in summer reading programs at local libraries or participating in online reading challenges.

  2. Utilize Educational Apps and Websites: Harness the power of technology by incorporating educational apps and websites into summer routines. Many interactive platforms offer engaging activities, games, and quizzes that reinforce academic skills. Encourage students to spend dedicated screen time on these resources to promote continuous learning. Some of my students' favorite apps are IXL, Amplify Reading, Zearn and Starfall.

  3. Enroll in Summer Enrichment Programs: Explore summer enrichment programs that focus on specific subjects or areas of interest. These programs offer a structured learning environment and expose students to hands-on activities, experiments, and projects, fostering both academic and personal growth.

  4. Create a Learning Schedule: Establish a daily or weekly learning schedule to maintain a sense of routine during the summer. Designate specific times for reading, math practice, and other educational activities. Having a schedule helps students stay organized and ensures regular engagement with academic content. Before my students leave for the summer, I always send them home with a summer packet to help them review skills we learned all year. Take a closer look at the summer review packets for Rising 2nd Graders and Rising 3rd Graders. All skills are Common Core aligned and review language arts and math standards.Summer review packets

  5. Incorporate Learning into Everyday Life: Encourage students to view the world as a classroom by incorporating learning into everyday life experiences. Plan educational outings to museums, zoos, historical sites, and science centers. Engage in discussions, ask open-ended questions, and encourage critical thinking to make learning interactive and enjoyable.

  6. Encourage Writing and Journaling: Promote writing skills by encouraging students to keep a summer journal. They can document their experiences, reflect on their learning, or write short stories. Consider setting up a shared family blog where everyone can contribute their written pieces and receive feedback, fostering a love for writing and effective communication.

  7. Foster Peer Learning: Organize study groups or learning circles with friends or classmates during the summer. Collaborative learning enhances retention and understanding of concepts. Students can discuss topics, solve problems together, and teach one another, creating a supportive and stimulating learning environment.

The summer slide poses a real challenge to elementary students' academic progress, but with proper planning and engagement, it can be overcome. By implementing the strategies outlined in this blog post, parents and educators can help students beat the summer slide and ensure a seamless transition into the new school year. Remember, learning doesn't have to take a vacation during the summer; it can continue to thrive and inspire young minds when approached with creativity and intentionality.


10 Earth Day Ideas for Any Elementary Classroom

earth day ideas
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As an elementary teacher, I believe it is important to teach our students about the importance of protecting the environment. Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to engage students in learning about the environment and taking action to protect it.

Enjoy these 10 Earth Day ideas, which are perfect for any elementary classroom.

PLANT A TREE: One of the most effective ways to celebrate Earth Day is by planting a tree. You can involve your students in the process by asking them to select a location somewhere at school, digging the hole, and then planting the tree.

LITTER CLEANUP: Schedule a day to pick up litter around the school or even at a local park. Have students wear gloves or even use litter grabbers to safely collect the trash.

START A COMPOST BIN: A compost bin is an excellent way to teach students about the importance of reducing waste and recycling. You can start a compost bin in your school garden.

CREATE A RECYCLING PROGRAM: Encourage your students to recycle by setting up a recycling program in your classroom and/or school. Provide bins for plastic, paper, and other recyclable materials. 

MAKE BIRD FEEDERS: Students can make bird feeders using recycled materials such as milk cartons, plastic bottles, or tin cans. You can even make them with toilet paper rolls. When complete, hang the bird feeders around school.

READ ENVIRONMENTAL BOOKS: Read books that teach children about the environment and the importance of protecting it. Some of my favorite read-alouds are: We Are Water Protectors, Compost Stew, What A Waste: Trash, Recycling, and Protecting Our Planet, and the classic The Great Kapok Tree.

CREATE ECO-FRIENDLY ART: Encourage students to create art using recycled materials such as cardboard, newspaper, magazines, or paper towel rolls. Display the art around school or in your classroom. You can also try this Recycled Garden Activity that incorporates art and measurement skills.

EARTH DAY MATH CRAFT: Students can apply their math skills and create these hanging Earth Day math crafts or these bees, butterflies and flowers math crafts

EARTH DAY SKILLS ACTIVITIES: Review reduce, reuse, recycle concepts with these skills based activities that include fact and opinion, cause and effect, ABC order, writing and more!

EARTH DAY NO PREP ACTIVITIES AND BOOM DECK: Review reading and math skills with this set of NO PREP activities which come in PRINT and DIGITAL formats to meet all your needs. These lessons are also great to review for state testing skills. Use these activities during morning work, small groups, homework or for fast finishers to review their skills. 

I hope you enjoy these 10 Earth Day ideas to help your students to develop an understanding of the importance of protecting the environment.


Classroom Management Tips and Tricks

Classroom Management Ideas

I love using classroom numbers to help with organization! This seems to be a very controversial topic among educators, however they are a life saver for me. I do not call on my students by number. They do not write their number on papers. The numbering system is solely used for organization. It allows me to number students cubbies, so I don't have to relabel everything at the start of the school year, or when a new student enters our class. You can read all about how I use student number sticks HERE.

student number sticks

Have you ever had the most chatty class in the world? I did one year and it made me implement a classroom voice level chart immediately! The kids love the chart with the tap lights. I usually pick one student to be in charge of the lights so I don't have to monitor it as much. It provides a great visual for my students and serves as an excellent reminder. You can read all the details on how to make your own voice level chart HERE

classroom voice level chart

Connecting the learning in the classroom to the learning that continues at home is critical. I LOVE using learning folders that have all the important learning information at students' fingertips. On the front side of the folder, I also include user names and passwords for regularly used sites. I love the folders with plastic covers, so I can insert learning resources they will need throughout the year. The folders can be found on Amazon or Target.

take home folders

One of my biggest pet peeves is being interrupted during direct instruction time or small group time for something as simple as:
  • getting a tissue 
  • sharpening pencil
  • going to the bathroom
  • getting a drink of water etc. 
I implemented hand signals into my classroom routines several years ago and it has cut down on interruptions, dramatically! I keep it simple with only 4 different choices. I have used Keeping It Captivating Editable Hand Signals for years and love them!

Reward tags provide such an easy way to recognize great student behavior and accomplishments. Each of my students has a ring in the front of that classroom to keep their reward tags on, as they collect them throughout the year. The best thing about reward tags is they are versatile, inexpensive, and can be given for any reason! I am obsessed with ALL the reward tags from Aimee at Primarily Speaking

I hope these ideas inspire you and help you stay organized, so you can spend the most time teaching your amazing students!


Assessment Tips for Distance Learning

As a new school year begins with distance learning, there are so many questions to be answered about assessment logistics and more importantly, accuracy of the results. We are going to be starting our beginning of the year assessments in the coming weeks and I am still unsure of what it looks like. One thing I do know, I need my data to be as accurate as possible. 

assessment tips for distance learning


ENCOURAGE STUDENTS TO DO THEIR BEST: Let students know these assessments are to help you teach them this school year. All they need to do is their best work. Scores don't matter. This will lower their anxiety levels too. 

A QUIET PLACE TO WORK FREE OF DISTRACTIONS: This may be easier for some students than others. However, whenever possible, a test taking environment free of siblings, pets, toys, etc. will  help a child focus on the test they are taking online and therefore give more accurate results.

CHECK YOUR TECH: It is important for students, parents, and teachers to make sure they know how to use their technology, especially during assessments. Can multiple windows be opened at once? Do your students know how to click between the different windows? Do teachers know how to share their screen so students only see the test and not where they are marking assessment results? This takes time and practice to set up.

GET PARENTS ON BOARD: Parents need to understand the importance of these assessments. The results need to be accurate, so we can guide our instruction. If parents are prompting, reading, and giving their child answers during the tests, the effort will all be for nothing. Our students have basically missed five months of school. It's pretty safe to say, it should not be the norm to move up five reading levels in that time! In order for there to be a chance for accurate testing results, we need the parents help! I created a list of guidelines to help parents understand the DOs and DON'Ts of how they can help their child during assessments!

I am emailing these guidelines out to my parents just before we start testing. The intention is to inform parents the best way to "help" their children in order to get the most accurate assessment results.

You can gain access to this FREE resource by putting your email into the pop up form that is on your screen when you first come to my blog. You will be emailed a password and gain access to this resource, as well as, many more distance learning resources, which you can download for FREE! Already a subscriber? Just enter the password into the SUBSCRIBER RESOURCE LIBRARY link at the top of the page.

How are you preparing for distance learning assessments? I would love to hear from you!