A New Year and Decade: A Stronger Teacher

By Victoria Jasztal on January 6, 2010
  • Grades: 3–5

A new year, and a new decade, has made me particularly ambitious about my teaching goals this winter. I dedicated part of my winter break to making a plethora of new materials for my fourth grade classroom. Here is a preview of what I will introduce to my students this coming week when they step through the door of my classroom.

This entails reading skills charts, math and science charts, a vocabulary book, task card boxes, a Cruising Through the USA board, iPods, new books, a new classroom microscope, and a student reading handbook. Hopefully, these resources will compliment our new classroom enrichment center as well as heighten my students' interest in studying science and social studies.

Reading Skills Charts:

One of the most important resources I am creating for my students is a flip chart booklet revolving around reading skills. These lessons were written based on selections from magazines, strategies from Mosaic of Thought, and chapter books my students will be reading in class like Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.




The chart "Waves of Terror" is for a mini-lesson I will soon teach to my students that correlates with the January 2010 edition of Scholastic Storyworks. The skills reinforced in this lesson are: schema, locating text features, main idea and supporting details, locating facts that include numbers, and summarizing.


The chart "Red-Eyed Tree Frog" reinforces these skills: context clues, author's purpose, subheadings, and making connections. It references the book Animals Up Close, published by DK Books.


The chart "Young Grass Snake" reinforces these skills: questioning, noting important facts, main idea and supporting details. At the end of this lesson, students will compare and contrast the young grass snake with the red-eyed tree frog. 

Math and Science Charts:


This is a question many students missed when taking their most recent Thinklink math assessment. Discovery Education's Thinklink assessments are administered three times a year to every student enrolled in the Hernando County School District. When you log on to Discoveryeducation.com and look at student reports, you can click on an interactive report to see the problems your students missed.












Vocabulary Book:

I designed a vocabulary book for my students with categorized words. Since we call strong vocabulary words "Million Dollar Words" in my classroom, the title of the book is Million Dollar Words with the design of a penny on the cover. I purchased this $10.00 blank book as well as black and bronze acrylic paints in the craft department of WalMart.


Outside cover


Inside cover

The following pages were designed using extra scrapbooking stickers, papers and photographs I had around the house:







Task Card Boxes:

I am still in the process of making the task cards, yet here is a preview:



Cruising Through the USA Board:

On the Cruising Through the USA board, there will be two brochures students will look at every week: one having to do with a place of interest in Florida and the other having to do with a place of interest in the United States. Students will then place post-it notes with information they gathered from the brochures every week to earn extra credit points as well as a ticket to go in our monthly A-Inators drawing.

I purchased the mini science fair board pictured below at JoAnn's Craft Superstore.



January is also opening up the opportunity for me to introduce our five classroom iPods. When one logs into iTunes, the opportunity to upload podcasts for free comes up. I uploaded video podcasts from Dragonfly TV (PBS) as well as CNN Student News and ColeyCast (from Brent Coley's fifth grade class in Murietta, California). Besides uploading podcasts, I ventured to Mr. Coley's fifth grade website, where I uploaded sets of iPod flash cards. I of course uploaded podcasts from our class as well. Our list of student podcasts will be growing in the second half of this year since the iPods are now available in our classroom. A mini science fair board will also be available for students to write Post-It notes with their thoughts. Here are some images regarding our classroom iPods:





Some sensational new books are going to be introduced in our classroom as well. With the help of a Barnes and Noble gift card as well as books that have been stockpiled in our classroom for a few months, approximately 15-20 new books are going to generate a lot of excitement this next week. Here is a picture of our new book board as well as a one of my favorite new books:



Classroom Microscope:

I am introducing a new classroom microscope as well:


Reading Handbook:

Last, I created a reading handbook for my students focusing on the mini-lessons we are completing between the months of January and March. I write some of my own fiction and non-fiction selections that focus on specific comprehension skills. Besides that, I gather reproducible pages from Storyworks, skills charts from http://www.readinglady.com, and other pages from recent popular movies produced by Walden Media. Below is an example from the website for Journey to the Center of the Earth:


As stated, I am very ambitious for the new year and decade! I hope this year brings you sensational ideas as well.

Robert Frost said, "I am not a teacher, but an awakener." Ben Sweetland stated, "We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own." So in the year 2010, find ways to "brighten your path". Believe you are a person your students can deeply, respectfully, and honorably admire.


I would love to see in full the magnetism and electricity charts as well as any of your science charts how can I do that?They are both cut off on your photo.

Here is where you can print images of the charts. I took straight shots of each poster today for fractions, decimals, and percents. Some new anchor charts made AFTER 2010 are included as well! =) Thanks!


Hi! I never knew comments continued long after my time as Scholastic teacher advisor ended. I wonder what I could do to make these anchor charts small enough for printing. =) Of course, if I can do it... they will be free!

This summer, I will be opening two new domains, and I will try my best to get these charts on there, even if they are on the smaller side and they can be printed out for students' journals. Thank you SO MUCH for caring!!

- Victoria Jasztal

I would love to print your fractions/decimals chart that is at the top of this. How can I get my hands on this? I will pay !! :) for real!

Hi Victoria,

The charts are awesome! I am a new teacher/Special Education Teacher and believe that these charts would be such an asset to my students is there any way I could get a copy of what you wrote. I retired from the Air Force and decided to become a teacher for special needs students. With this being my first year I am loving it thus far. Thanks in advance.

Sabre' Alderete

Your charts are great. Where did you get your info to make them? I would love to make them for my self. What book did you use and how can I get a full picture of all the charts? The math charts....

wow, You are an awesome teacher!!!! I wish wish wish my children had had you for a teacher. Its amazing that you have taken the time to do these things so that the students can learn.... Bless you and all you do...

Wonderful ideas! I am a middle school math teacher and wanted to copy your posters but could not see the whole page. Is there anyway to get full page pictures for the math posters?

Hi, Elizabeth! I apologize for the late reply. Yes, I organize my charts on the easel so I can flip back and forth. Now, this month I have barely used pre-made charts, but I use them a lot before students take state assessments and in mini-lessons for reading. I believe I will be making more in the near future as we work on the book publishing project. What do you do with charts made in class or pre-made charts? Thanks for asking.

How do you organize your charts? Are they all on the easel or do you post them? Do you have any more pics?

Hi, Patricia! I developed the reading workbook by researching different topics of interest to the students and writing stories with corresponding comprehension/ vocabulary questions as well as finding stories that are able to be printed for student distribution. The reading workbook has 16 stories and has been printed/distributed to my students in two parts: 8 for January's centers and 8 for February's centers.

I am interested in how you developed the reading handbook. It seems like something I would like to develop for my students. Thanks.

Hi, Dana! I have room to post the charts because they are all together on my chart stand. Besides that, no, I do not make them every year; I rather try to make more for subjects that may not be covered as much. Students can flip through them if they desire. Besides that, I hand out vocabulary lists every once in a while, though students just place them in their writing binders and do not have a "word book", per se. If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask!


Your charts are fantastic...your word book is too. Do you redo the charts from year to year? How do you have room to post them all? Also, do the student vocabulary books look like your example too? Thanks

Hi, Rebecca! Thank you. Is there anything you would like to learn more about? Considering you teach in Florida, you may benefit from a post in the near future I am thinking about referring to writing assessments. There is going to be a lot about Florida Writes in the post. Hope you'll find it useful!! - Victoria

Wow! What wonderful ideas. As a first year, 4th grade teacher I love reading your posts and utilizing the tips and ideas you give.

Thank you for always caring, Christy! Are you doing a unit on fractions or a few mini-lessons revolving around them? What do you ultimately want your students to do in mastering fractions this month? I am not so much looking forward to teaching the skill of adding and subtracting with different denominators.

I am glad to be of help. Thank you for inspiring me, also.



Victoria, it all looks great! Your fractions chart looks almost exactly like the one I will be using with my kids tomorrow. You have some wonderful ideas on here for us to use. Thank you so much for opening your classroom to us!

Kathy, I am going to be using the iPods for the first time next Monday. I am EXTREMELY excited because I have had them since October, yet I did not get them synced until now. More than anything, I am looking forward to using the podcasts from CNN News and Dragonfly TV from PBS. I was wondering, also, does Scholastic offer any kind of podcast for kids through Scholastic News or something else?

Kelsi, thank you for commenting! I am very grateful you are enjoying my posts. Which grade do you teach? Is there someone you would like to read about? In my last post, I mentioned some posts that will be coming in this new year.


How are your Ipods working out? Any other great ideas for using them? Great chart ideas and samples! Love the photos~Thanks

Hi, Rebecca! I am just a self-proclaimed overachiever. Our holiday break also happened to be exceptionally long this year. It didn't take as long as it would seem to someone, though it took quite a bit of thought and some planning to get things right. I am still not done, but I think what I created is going to suffice when I return next Monday. I am sure you are doing incredible; don't feel like you are not doing enough. Relaxing is important, and I admittedly need to do more of that! - Victoria

Wow, these are great posters! Now, honestly, how do you find the time to create these wonderful resources. I feel like I'm not doing enough.

Thanks for you continued support & ideas!!


I had a blast making these, Kay! I also did not mention in the post that anyone can copy the charts word-for-word if they find them useful for their classroom instruction.


Wow,I love your charts! This is a great motivation to create more of my own. Thanks for sharing!

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