Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How Do I Prepare for Back To School When I Don't Know My Teaching Assignment?? Part 1 Bulletin Boards

We all remember our 1st year of teaching in the UAE.  Where will I teach? What is my grade level assignment?  How do I prepare for the unknown?  What supplies will I have? Shouldn't I be planning something by now? The only advice we seemed to receive was "be flexible."  As a teacher of 20 years I always spent time over the summer researching curriculum, working on new units and manipulatives, and of course preparing my classroom.  As I sat through trainings and empty days in the hotel, all I wanted to do was start preparing! But for what???  Having now taught in Abu Dhabi for the past 5 years I know there are a few things you can do to make your transition into your new position and classroom a little smoother.

So let's talk bulletin boards!  Most classrooms will have bulletin boards inside and out that will need to be readied.  The first step is thinking about general bulletin boards that would fit any grade in your cycle level.  Some ideas that work well for the beginning of the year are a calendar, math tools, English alphabet, class rules, discipline, student introduction, amazing work, word/vocabulary wall, table/group numbers or names.  You might choose 2 or 3 to prepare for before arriving.  You can get them up quickly when you are placed so that is checked off your list and you can focus on learning about your school's expectations and curriculum during the 4 inservice days before school begins.

Most schools do not provide supplies for bulletin boards such as backing paper, border, or lettering so your first job is lining up these items.  There are teacher stores and bookstores in both Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
     Abu Dhabi: Teacher's Place Al Muroor Rd near Emirates Supermarket, Al Batra Bookshop MBZ City, The Bookshop 2 St. next to Centro Rotana, Bookshop Mushriff Mall, Bookstore Boutik Mall Al Reem Island
     Al Ain: The Bookshop Library ِ مكتبة المكتبة (see Facebook page), Al Batra Bookshop kiosk in Hili Mall

On a tight budget and need to prepare?  Here are some money saving tips.

Flat sheets and table cloths can make amazing background material for bulletin boards that can be found for a low price and hold up for several years.  These can be found at Lulus, Daiso, Emirates Discount, Carrfour, Hamdan Center, and many of the discount dirham spots around the cities such as Dirham Tower, Dirham City, etc...

Use a local print shop for printing color copies.  Most print shops charge 1 dirham for 1-2 pages of color printing.  Many print shops have a company email so you are able to forward your printing needs with instructions and pick them up later.  Finding a print shop close to home was one of the best money & time saving things I did my first year. Ask teachers in your area if they use a certain printer or know of any good ones.

Print only the bulletin board letters you need rather than purchasing colored sets.  This allows you to choose different colors and fonts.  I use powerpoint to create fun letters of various sizes & prints!

Choose alternative border materials such as crumpled tissue, student handprints, or wavy cut construction paper rather than store bought border.

Ask on Facebook if there are veteran teachers who have extras to share.

Find printable bulletin board materials online for a lower price.  Many items can be found for free on Teachers Pay Teachers or Teachers Notebook if you put in a search and choose free.

I also offer different English & Arabic translated sets such as a calendar, number line, discipline set, free ADEC sight word sets for grades 1-5, and classroom labels in my Teachers Notebook shop. These products will help you with classroom environment observations when admin will be looking for both English and Arabic labels and vocabulary throughout the learning environment.

 All of the sales of my products are dedicated this year to covering my son's medical expenses back in the US.

Congratulations Back To School Winners!

Congratulations to our 4 lucky winners Tai Paschall, Keisha Paschall, Betsy Lauren Lewis, and Matt Worth!  You have all won the product of your choice from our Teachers Notebook Shop!
Happy Shopping!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

ADEC Sight Words Made Easy

Trying to keep up with 50+ students' mastery of ADEC Sight Words has been a challenge for me every year.  I was losing valuable teaching time each trimester spending countless hours testing students one on one.  So last year I decided to create a self paced system that would allow students to be more accountable for their own learning.  Over the last 4 months, teachers on my campus have been using these ADEC Sight Word & Fluency Phrase books with great success!

These little books make teaching ADEC Sight Words and fluency so easy!  Each student can move through the lists at their own pace, allowing varying levels of readers to progress using the same tool.

First students receive Book 1, which contains the 100 Grade 1 ADEC Sight Words.  Each book page has 10 ADEC Sight Words on the front and 10 fluency phrases on the back using the same 10 words.  When students read front and back accurately and fluently they move on to the next list of 10.

I sign and date the bottom of each list to keep a record of when the list is mastered.  When students master an entire booklet, they have mastered all of the ADEC sight words for that grade level, and are ready to graduate to the next grade.  If they can get through 5 booklets, that's 500 sight words and 500 fluency phrases!

My students keep these in their home/school book bags so they are ready to practice or "level up" at any time.  There are ten numbered spots on the front of each book for coloring, stamping, or placing stickers on to show what levels have been mastered.  

I color code the covers to visually keep track of what list each student is working on.  Students are so excited to graduate to a new level which motivates students to practice at home and school.

It is up to you how often you check a student's mastery.  If students are reading accurately and fluently it takes less than 30 seconds to test.  I often test at the end of a guided reading group, during independent reading, and during recess.  

You are able to place students on the beginning level you feel is appropriate. Students that are reading above grade level do not need to begin on book 1.  I teach grade 3, so I began my higher readers on book 2.  Students have been super motivated to practice during "read with a partner" center.  I love that my higher readers are such great assistants to those on lower levels by listening, correcting, and pretesting to make sure they are prepared to test.  I keep a basket of stickers on my desk so that students are able to choose a sticker to place on the number spots on the cover of their books.  

One day a month I collect the books and mark my grade sheet by taking a quick glance at the front cover of each student's book.  This has totally eliminated my need for a week of 1 on 1 testing which has made sight word data a breeze!

These ADEC Sight Word & Fluency Phrases Books are available in my Teachers Notebook shop.

Friday, November 20, 2015

GoNoodle's Game On!

This week I want to share one of my favorite GoNoodle Channels, Game On!
The thing I love about the Game On! Channel is the ability to make the activities personalized to my classroom learning using the My Questions option.  Let me share some of the favorites in my classroom!

Our all time favorite so far is Body Spell!  This 2-10 minute activity lets you add your weekly spelling words so that students can practice spelling each word using their bodies by following the body outline.  This kinesthetic activity gets us using all up and moving as we learn.  It's also great for students to use for practicing their High Frequency Words!

Think On Your Feet is a 2-10 minute Kinesthetic Learning Activity with a game show type format.  The class is broken into 2 groups.  All students participate in a physical challenge such as balancing on 1 foot while the selected team answers questions to earn points.  This game also features the My Questions option so you can add questions based on your current learning outcomes or you can choose grade level appropriate questions from a bank of subjects.

Freeze It is a wonderful 1-2 minute game which also has the My Questions option.  I actually use the question bank on this game with my students to practice math skills such as addition, subtraction, and multiplication.  There is also a set of questions based on letter sounds which is so valuable for those students just learning letter sounds or who struggle with them.  Students move until the word freeze appears on the screen when they must freeze and call out the answer to the posted question!

Mega Math Marathon is a 1-2 minute fun game which incorporates running in place with math questions.  Although this doesn't have the My Questions option, you can choose your grade level and question set which then breaks that question set into sub sets of questions.  I love this activity for the afternoon when we are bubbling with energy and struggling to focus.  Not only does it wear us down a little but we are getting those math minutes in as well!  

As we finish any of the above activities I always transition back to a calm classroom atmosphere by choosing one of the calming activities.  My favorite being Airtime which is a 2-4 minute video which uses breathing techniques to relax and settle down for classroom learning.

If you haven't joined GoNoodle it is absolutely free!  Visit the following link to join teachers all over the world who GoNoodle!

I encourage you to visit GoNoodle this week with your class and give the Game On! channel a try.  I would love to hear from some of our UAE teachers who have tried out GoNoodle in the classroom so add a comment with one of your favorite activities!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

GoNoodle's Koo Koo Kanga Roo!

This week has been full of awesome GoNoodle fun!  My kids have loved sampling activities from several channels this week for lots of different purposes like brain breaks, skip counting, guided dancing to get the wiggles out, and calming to help us settled down for some learning.  The kids have been so excited I wanted to take the time to share a little about one of our favorite channels of the week, Koo Koo Kanga Roo!

Koo Koo Kanga Roo is loaded with 31 fun-tastic activities.  We started out the week with Skip Counting.  This video is 2:25 of counting by 2s, 5s, & 10s.  

I was also able to get everyone cleaned up and ready to go by offering the incentive of using the Class Dismissed video which lasts a quick 1:52.

Ever wonder what to do for the few kids that know their "happy birthday"?  Try Birthday Hooray.  It's a quick 2:17 to make that child feel special!

Cat Party is one of my personal favorites and the kids love it as well.  It's 3 minutes of heart pumping fun.  I love it because I'm grabbing a few minutes of exercise during the day as well.

I hope you take some time this week to try out the  Koo Koo Kanga Roo channel on GoNoodle.  If you don't have an account yet it is free to sign-up.  Here is a link to join and I would love to hear from some of my fellow UAE teachers on how it's working in your classroom!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Congratulations Lucky Winners!

I am so excited to announce the lucky winners of the Happy Valentine's Giveaway.  The 3 lucky winners are Michelle Williams, Hafiza Sayed Nabee, and Andrea Gallien.  Thank you to all those who entered using the Rafflecopter.  For those who did not win but would like to pick up a copy of their favorite product, I am holding a sale for the next week on my Teachers Notebook shop at

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentines Day Give Away!

Today is one of my favorite holidays, Valentines Day!  To celebrate I am hosting a free give away!  Sign up using the rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of your favorite product from my Teachers Notebook Shop!

a Rafflecopter giveaway