This is not an original idea, but it’s well worth repeating for those of you who may not have come across it. It can be modified for many grade and/or ability levels even in the higher Chinese tuition centre. I am currently using this activity with my Resource Room students.


  • book: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  • chart paper & marker(s)
  • weather forecasts from newspaper or Internet
  • weather related books/kid’s magazines at a variety of reading levels
  • food forecast planner
  • writing paper with a food border for final copies
  • crayons/colored pencils


  1. As a journal topic, have students brainstorm as many weather words as they can in 10-15 minutes. You may want to make the following available: weather reports from the newspaper and/or the Internet; weather books (I had several from the Step Into Reading series).
  2. Have students share their weather words in a whole group. Write the words on chart paper. You may want to categorize by labeling three pieces of chart paper as follows: Wind Words, Rain and Snow Words, Other Weather Words.
  3. Read the book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett to the students.
  4. Explain to the students that they will now be planning and writing their own weather forecasts for the town of Chewandswallow. I also shared examples that former students had written (planners and the written forecasts). We talked about what was good in each piece and what could be improved upon.
  5. Hand out the Food Forecast Planner. It should have two columns, one for a school day and one for a weekend day. In each column should be lines for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack. The students should list food for each meal/snack along with weather words. I review the writing process at this point and explain that complete sentences are not necessary at this point. Encourage the use of the weather word charts for reference. Variation: If you have many students with limited writing skills, you may want to take the time to brainstorm some food words as well. I did this in a small group while the other students got started.
  6. After the planner is finished, students should do a draft of their forecast, then revise, edit and complete a final copy on the food-border paper.
  7. Naturally, most students will want an opportunity to share their forecasts.
  8. Fillers: Because students work at different paces, it is necessary to have some “filler work” for those students who finish quickly or who are waiting to have a writing conference with the teacher. Some suggestions follow:
  9. Make a compound word matching puzzle. Cut meatball shapes out of brown construction paper, cut each meatball in half, and write one half of each compound word on the meatball halves. The book Cloudy… Meatballs has lots of compound words (meatballs, northeast, overcooked…) The kids could put the meatball halves together to form compound words, then write the compound words on paper (built in accountability).
  10. Have the students list in their journals all the problems that could occur if food really did fall from the sky.
  11. Have the students scan the text of Cloudy…Meatballs for all the words following a specific pattern or rule. For example, they could search for compound words, words with -ing, words with consonant blends, etc. etc. The words they find should be listed on paper.
  12. Read or listen to (on cassette) weather related books or poems. They could fill out a short form telling what they thought of the book for accountability.

Submitted by,



GRADES: 2-12
In order to make our classroom a bit more real life we have instituted a pay system.  Students enjoy getting paid for their work.
  • Computer (to make your own personalized checks)
  • Items to stock your store with, point sheets and record keeping items (I use an EXCEL spreadsheet)
  1. You will have to teach each of the areas you for which you will be issuing points.  In my classroom, students receive the following points.  We work from Friday to Thursday so that I can have their checks ready to be cashed on Friday’s.  The idea behind this is to get students to realize that in the real world if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.  I am currently giving a penny a point and round up to the nearest dollar.  Students are earning any where from 1 – 3 dollars a week. 
    • Behavior — 5 points per day
    • Morning Exercises — 5 points per day
    • Classwork — 5 points per assignment on time that is quality (must earn at least a 70)
    • Homework — 5 points per assignment on time that is quality work
    • Tokens — 1 point each
  2. Bonus — can be given by teacher for whatever seen fit
  3. All of the above were taught to my students during the first week.  On Friday we taught them about checks and how to properly endorse them, etc.  We will continue lessons on banking and even take a field trip to a bank that is a business partner with our school.  So far, we are finding that the quality and quantity of our students work is greatly improving.  If anything else, or 4th,5th and 6th graders will have learned some valuable life skills.
  4. You will need to include time to cash checks and allow students to shop at the classroom store.  Takes roughly 1/2 hour to 45 minutes for 12 students to go one at a time. 
  5. Items I have in my store — 2 pieces for a dollar (cap erasers, small candies like starbursts), 1 dollar items include larger candies and wood pencils, 2 dollar items are plain mechanical pencils, grippers; 3 dollar items are lolli pops, fancy mechanical pencils, highlighters; 5 dollar items are small candy bars, cool flex rulers; 10 items are yo-yo’s, sodas, juices; 15 dollar items are baby bottle pops; 20 for markers; 50 for small games and puzzles; 75 for beyblades (at the request of students). 
  6. I have the items labeled and in containers – takes roughly 2 minutes to set up my store.  I polled students as to what they were willing to work for and they love it.  Some spend every week and a few are learning to save.  Soon we will be getting to the point of opening accounts for students so they may deposit their checks versus having to save the money themselves. 
I wish everyone well if you attempt this and grant that you will need to modify this to meet the needs of your students.  It is a fairly new idea and we are still working out the kinks — but hey, for SLD kids to be working as hard as mine are I will go to any length.
Submitted by,


GRADES: 3-12

Many students struggle with answering questions in writing. By teaching students to use TTQA (Turn the Question Around), you can help your students formulate complete sentences in response to questions on tests and assignments. When students use TTQA, they use some of the words from the question to write their answer. An example follows:

Q: Who was the story mostly about?

A: The story was mostly about a girl named Jamaica.


  • none


  1. Write several questions on sentence strips before hand. Be sure they are simple enough to make using TTQA easy.
    To begin instruction, I explicitly tell students that they will be learning a new strategy for answering questions in writing. I tell them the acronym and what it stands for. Recommended: Create a poster describing the steps in TTQA.
  2. TTQA (Turn the Question Around)
    • Read the question.
    • Think about what the question is asking.
    • Underline the words in the question you will use in your answer.
    • Decide what your answer will be.
    • Write the answer using some words from the sentence.
    • Re-read and edit your answer.
  3. Post the sentence strips with questions on the chalkboard spaced widely enough that there is room to write answers beneath the strips. Have student volunteers read the questions. For the first 1 or 2, follow the steps of TTQA yourself to formulate and write an answer. “Think aloud” as you do. By verbally stating the steps as you do them, you are providing a good model.
  4. When students seem to have it, allow them to tell you the steps in TTQA and how to write the answer using a complete sentence.
  5. Allow students to practice independently by giving them questions to answer. Start with non-threatening questions such as “What is your favorite color?” The first time they practice, you might want to begin the answer sentences for them (ex: My favorite color is…). Gradually wean them off of this assistance.
  6. Once students understand TTQA, you can make it a regular requirement. They can use TTQA on written comprehension questions and tests.
  7. To increase students’ skills further, begin having them use TTQA for the first sentence in a written answer; then have them add a “detail” sentence with additional information.
  8. As students get older, TTQA can be used to formulate topic sentences for paragraphs. Knowing how to answer essay questions on tests in complete paragraphs will help students with disabilities gain additional points on tests.
Submitted by,



GRADES: 4-12

This method allows students to evaluate their own behavior. It also provides written documentation for parents. I currently use this with 2 of my BD students and it is helping.


  • evaluation sheets (one per day–see example below)


  1. Give students a week’s worth of sheets (responsibility is part of the lesson).
  2. After each class period (or day, depending on how your classroom is set up), the student completes the sheet marking + for following that behavior or a 0 for not following that behavior.
  3. Student takes sheet up to teacher to be changed (if teacher disagrees), to add comments, and to initial.
  4. Sheets are to be taken home and signed by guardian.
  5. This works well with a token economy. Establish rewards for improvement. These can be easily adjusted to meet individual behavior goals.


  • Came to Class Prepared
  • Followed Directions
  • Respectful to Teacher
  • Respectful to Peers
  • Completed Assignments
  • Used Time Wisely
  • Participated in Class
Submitted by,


GRADES: 3-12


  • spelling lists
  • writing materials


  1. Monday: Students will write their spelling word 5 times in cursive, then write them on file cards to be placed in their own file card holder. These words can be used to study or as a word bank when writing.
  2. Tuesday: Students are to place their words in alphabetical order and write them in a sentence using correct grammar and punctuation.
  3. Wednesday: I make up sentences spelling their words incorrectly, some sentences do not begin with capital letters, others have incorrect ending punctuation. We go over these the next day.
  4. Thursday: I make up word searches and fill in the missing letters papers, sometimes the students are to look up their words in the dictionary. Lower functioning students may just write down the page number.
  5. Friday: Grade the spelling tests in class, asking the students to correctly spell the word they missed. Perfect papers get 3 mini-tootsie rolls or other small candy available.
Submitted by,