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Elementary Teacher Resources, Issue #010 -- Ideas That Work
February 03, 2008

Welcome to
Elementary Teacher Resources

Ponderings of a tired teacher...

I’ve been pretty worn-out lately. It seems to be the time of the year where I’m on the down-hill slope. Holiday Break seems like months ago and Spring Break can’t come fast enough. Everyone hits that wall, and I’m pretty much there.

It always seems like when I’m in this kind of situation that the “perfect” thing comes by to pick me up – and today it did!

Today I heard a very engaging speaker talk about how to look at situations that you’re drowning in.

She was talking about was the words dismember and remember.

On their own they don’t really mean much, but when you think about them in the context of a classroom they are enlightening. Seriously. Let me explain.

Let’s say you have a student who is a handful. This student is worrying you because you want them to be prepared to move up to the next grade but they are always a step or two behind academically. And behavior, forget about it, this student is running laps around you.

Well, there are two ways you can look at the situation. You can dismember or remember.

According to Wikipedia, dismemberment is the act of cutting, tearing, pulling, wrenching or otherwise removing the limbs of a living thing. That sounds awful, painful and rightly unnecessary, if you ask me.

You can do this to your classroom. You can dismember everything, scream, and take apart everything you’ve built up just to deal with this student.

This is dismembering everything you have built. It is starting over from square one. This is a lot of work.


You can remember. You can remember that you are the teacher, the mentor and the surrogate parent to this student.

You can remind yourself that you guide your classroom community, you can support the student and scaffold through love, patience and caringness (I know it isn’t a word, but I like it, and I hope to start using it more often).

This is remembering that the students in your room are just that, students. They aren’t adults. They don’t know everything. They need to be guided, molded, and taught how to be everything they can be.

So, they next time you are frustrated by a situation, just think about which you would rather do – dismember or remember.

Fun Foam Letters

A First Grade teacher at my school (Lynn Goodwin) gave me this idea and it is just too good to keep to myself.

What she did was cut foam into strips and circles then have the children create letters, words and stories with them.

She uses the foam letters for "bellwork" and has the children create spelling or vocabuary words in the morning.

My students use them independently during centers and they just adore them. I also use them as a guided reading extention for a quick assessment.

The most exciting part of using the foam letters is that it is totally engaging, yet mostly quiet!

People, Places and Postcards!

If you’re looking for a great way to integrate reading, writing, geography, global studies, languages and more – try this postcard project!

All you need to do is find a map, hang it up and beg your student’s parents and your friends to send you postcards.

It’s that simple!

Once the postcards start coming into your school mailbox you can use them as read alouds, find states on maps, compare stamps, ponder pictures, go on “sight word hunts” and so much more.

We started this project about a week ago and already the children can find Tampa (where they live), Florida and California. Each time we get a card from a new state we mark it and hang it up.

My awesome Intern, Emily Gordon, is also beginning to teach them the song, “Fifty Nifty United States”.

The kids love it when we get new cards. It is a great way to get reluctant students excited about reading. They look at the pictures and try to read the cards, and are talking about what they think.

It has been terrific to bring it personal experiences too. When we got a card from California we were able to talk about how one of my kids had been there to visit family.

This project is basically free, takes very little work and will reward you tons in the long run.

If you’d like to be part of our project, please send a postcard to:

Mrs. Mikesell’s Kindergarten
3719 17th St.
Tampa, Fl 33610

First Grade Daily Math Journals are finally here!

Areas covered by First Grade Daily Math Journals are:

  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Whole numbers
  • Two-dimensional and three-dimensional geometric shapes
  • Beginning Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Numbers and Operations
  • Time
  • Money
  • Fractions

I hope that you have enjoyed this newsletter. Please feel free to email it to friends and family who are teachers!

Also, don't forget to get your copy of my free new teacher handbook! It's full of great tips and tricks to make your year go great.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

See you next month!

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