Sunday, November 8

4 No Prep Thanksgiving Writing and Math Activities

 

no-prep-thanksgiving-activities

 

Fall is in full swing and Thanksgiving is on its way. I love this time of year and all the fun fall-themed activities I can do with my students. Hybrid and distance learning has made it difficult to do my favorite Thanksgiving activities, so I’ve made some adjustments. Read more to check out the four no-prep Thanksgiving activities I will be doing with my students this year.

 

no-prep-thanksgiving-activities

4 No Prep Thanksgiving Writing and Math Activities

The first no prep Thanksgiving activity I will be doing with my students this year is daily digital writing prompts. There are so many of my favorites included in this Google Slides writing prompt pack. Every year in November, I love to do certain writing prompts. For example, the turkey in disguise, and what am I thankful for writing prompts are some of my favorites. Now, even though I am teaching in a hybrid setting, I can still do these writing prompts with my kiddos. Click HERE to explore the Google Slides writing prompts I will be using.

 

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4 No Prep Thanksgiving Writing and Math Activities

The next no prep Thanksgiving activity on my list is editable! I love editable resources; they make my teacher heart happy. This year my kiddos will be practicing their spelling skills with the help of fully editable Thanksgiving spelling activities. My students love the fun fall graphics and I love how easy they are to use. Click HERE to check out the Editable Thanksgiving spelling activities I will be using in my classroom this year.

 

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4 No Prep Thanksgiving Writing and Math Activities

Right now my students are in the middle of a writing boot camp. This is where we hone down and really practice our writing skills. In order to continue breaking down each skill in our fictional writing process and have some holiday fun, I created a digital Thanksgiving writer’s notebook. My students can continue to work through the writing process with digital graphic organizers to aid them. Click HERE to check this digital writer’s notebook out.

 

no-prep-thanksgiving-activities

4 No Prep Thanksgiving Writing and Math Activities

The final no prep Thanksgiving activity I will be going with my students this year are Thanksgiving themed digital task cards. These task cards will allow my kiddos learning from home or school the option to practice their addition with regrouping skills. Want to snag these addition with regrouping digital Thanksgiving task cards for FREE? Click HERE to get them now!



 

Sunday, October 25

6 No Prep Halloween Activities

 

no-prep-halloween-activities


There’s a chill in the air, leaves are falling, and students are buzzing about costumes. Yes, teachers, it’s almost Halloween! I always love this time of year and the fun activities I get to do with my students. We know this year is going to be different. With social distancing and distance learning being thrown into the mix, how are we supposed to Halloween activities with our kiddos? Read more and I will share with you the six NO PREP Halloween Activities I plan to do with my students this year.

 

No Prep Halloween Activities

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Have you ever heard of Art Hub? This is an amazing art channel on YouTube.com that teaches children how to do different directed drawings. I love doing these with my class! Before we begin, I tell my students that all their artwork will look different and that’s the beauty of it. I also tell them to simply raise their hand if needed and that will be the cue for me to pause the video and give them some extra time. Last week we did the haunted house directed drawing and I tied it into our adjectives lesson. They had so much fun with this easy no prep Halloween Activity! I love that I can also share this activity with my students at home as well as at school (I’m currently Hybrid teaching). Click THIS LINK to check out some of their amazing Halloween themed directed drawing lessons now.

 



No Prep Halloween Activities

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I think writing prompts are fa-BOO-lous.  Typically, I use writing prompts as a warm-up activity before writing class or as an informal formative check-in on a specific skill I taught (ex. dialogue). In years past I have loved using these writing prompts as quick no prep Halloween activities. This year I needed to adapt. So I have transformed all of my favorite October writing prompts into digital prompts for Google Classroom. Now my at-home learners and in-class learners can do a Halloween writing activity too! Click HERE to check out the Digital Halloween Writing Prompts I will be using. Click HERE to check out the paper copy Halloween writing prompts.


No Prep Halloween Activities

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Looking for more no prep Halloween activities? Well, my friend, check out this awesome FREE one! My students love worksheets like this. It allows them to write about their interests, as well as do a little coloring. If you are looking for a fun time filler or quick Halloween activity to do with you class, then click THIS LINK and grab it now!

 

No Prep Halloween Activities

no-prep-halloween-activities


I love helping my students grow in their craft as writers. So, any chance I get to engage them (like with Halloween spooky stories) and take them through the writing process, I am all about. This year I have created a Halloween digital notebook to do just that! My students will be using this no prep resource all week leading up to Halloween. From digital writing prompts, to word lists, this Digital notebook will take them through all the skills needed to write some SPOOK-tacular stories! I can’t wait to use this digital writer’s notebook with my students this week and read the BOO-tiful stories they write! To check out the Halloween digital writer’s notebook we will be using in room 204, CLICKHERE.

 

No Prep Halloween Activities

no-prep-halloween-activities


I love math games, but how am I supposed to play math games when my kiddos can’t touch the same game board or get too close? I think I’ve finally come up with a solution to my math game problem, roll and write games! I’ve created bright and colorful math games that my students can play while maintaining their required distance. Happy dance time!

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This week, my plan is to give each partner identical game pumpkin multiplication boards, a dice, and game play pieces (I use pompoms). This way they can mirror each other game boards as they play! Interested in checking out my Roll and Write Math Games? CLICK HERE!

 

No Prep Halloween Activities

 

no-prep-halloween-activities

Alright, it’s all treats and no tricks time. Are you ready for a FREE no prep Halloween activity? We just finished a place value math unit in my classroom. So, I thought it would be fun to practice place value with an interactive pumpkin review! Click HERE so you can grab this Google Classroom ready, no prep Halloween activity for your kiddos now!

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Saturday, September 12

Why I Love Digital Writer’s Notebooks

 

digital-writers-notebook


Teaching writers workshop digitally equals one word, yikes! I love teaching a writing class in person. Working side by side with students to help them grow in their craft as writers is simply the best. How can I possibly continue my writer's workshop style of instruction if we have to go digital this year? Let me share that these were only a few of my worries as I planned my writing instruction for the 2020 school year. I like to believe that wherever there is a big problem, there is a solution somewhere just waiting to be found. After much stress eating and brainstorming, I finally found a way to continue teaching writing the way I love no matter what the school year throws at me. Take that 2020! Read more as I share my solution to my writing instruction dilemma. 

 

digital-writers-notebook

Right now, I am teaching in a hybrid model. This means that I see one group of students on Monday and Tuesday. Then I see my second group of students on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday everyone including teachers is at home doing distance learning. When my kiddos are with me, I am free to teach my workshop writing instruction as I always have. However, I still want my students to be able to continue their writing pieces during “at home learning” days. So, this year my kiddos are using a new writer’s notebook, a digital one! 

 

Here’s Why I Am Loving Digital Writer’s Notebooks So Far:

 

1.) There is no concern about forgetting a hard copy notebook at home or school as my kiddos travel between, “at home” or, “in-person” learning days.

2.) I can still use the same graphic organizers that I use every year (because they are digital now).

3.) I can keep the same workshop model even when my students are at home.

4.) Everything is easily organized in Google Classroom for my kiddos and me hallelujah!

 

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How Digital Writer’s Notebooks Work:

 

A digital writer’s notebook is just like the notebooks I set up with my students in person each year, except instead of using a binder we’re using computers and Google Classroom. Once I made a copy of the Google Slides presentation (the notebook), I assigned the whole notebook to my students in Google Classroom (with no due date). HEADS UP! Be sure to click, “make each student a copy” when you assign the presentation, trust me sister you don’t want to forget that! Once assigned, I can work with my students both in class and digitally throughout the entire writing process using the premade slides. It has been so much easier to keep track of my student's work than having them submit countless Google Docs.

digital-writers-notebook


 

Why My Students Love Digital Writer’s Notebooks:

1.) Easy for them to use

2.) Bright, colorful, and fun pictures

3.) They don’t have a physical notebook that they have to keep track of

 

Right now we are in our Personal Narrative writing unit and have just started using digital writer’s notebooks. Instead of overwhelming stress, I am now feeling prepared (I know shocker considering it’s 2020 and we can’t seem to prepare for anything these days). I feel prepared because now I know that no matter what the school year brings, hybrid, in person, or distance learning, I have a tool that will help me continue to teach writing the way I love. If you want to check out some of the digital write’s notebooks I will be using with my students this year, click HERE.

 

Saturday, August 1

Let's Talk About Reopening Schools

reopening-schools
 

Let’s talk about reopening schools this fall. It’s funny that I am saying that because I have spent the last few weeks avoiding the discussion of that topic like it was the plague. Why? The topic of reopening schools has teachers brimming over with emotions. We have been on pins and needles all summer waiting, just waiting to see how our worlds will be forever changed this fall. Each district email has been viewed with anxiety and questions that there are no answers to yet.  We want to go back to school this fall and have our “normal” back. We want to greet students each morning with hugs and high fives. We want to gather our kiddos on the carpet to share a story and discussion. We want to give students manipulatives and let them work with hands on tools, or build amazing projects. We want to work in small groups to help our students tackle difficult concepts and achieve those precious “light bulb moments”. We want to teach students how to work collaboratively. We want to hug them when they cry, show them our smiles, and help them know how much we care. However, we realize that it is impossible in our current reality to go back to school as “normal”. Therefore, I ask you to please let us catch our breath.

 

reopening-schools

Give us a chance to catch our breath and time to process what is being asked of us professionally and emotionally. Professionally, many of us are being told to teach in a way that completely contrasts our teaching philosophy. I believe education should be a fun, hands on, engaging, and collaborative experience that fosters kiddos to seek more and become lifelong learners. I have spent years making my classroom a place where these things happen; where fun and learning are at the forefront of each day. Students know when they come to my room that they will be creating epic projects, learning how to work together, they will move constantly, feel loved, and have fun.

Now, I am being told I must change everything. On a professional level, I will have to alter my instruction style from small groups, hands on, collaborative learning. In its place will be independent work and lecture style whole group instruction. This makes me want to cry because it is not how I teach and see my students thriving each year. So please, pause and let me catch my breath.

reopening-schools


Let's talk about completely changing our classroom environments. My classroom is styled more as a learning café. Students have flexible seating options and move about the room as needed for stretch breaks and to work in their best fit spot. I have big tables, comfortable rugs, pillows, crate seats, kicky bands, and more. Now my students will sit in individualized spots, and desks with standard chairs. The rug must be removed, as well as pillows and other flexible seating options. Students can no longer move around the room as needed. Professionally, everything from the way I plan for and deliver instruction must change. My cozy and colorful room must also change. So please, practice patience and give me time to wrap my head around how I must completely change how I do my job. Give me time to catch my breath.

 

reopening-schools
 

Let’s talk about the emotional rollercoaster teachers have been on since March. We have had our students ripped from our rooms overnight. We learned how to alter instruction and work in the digital world, however we missed our students. What you must understand is that we spend so much time with our students that our class becomes like a little family. We missed them and worried about them terribly. Now, we are being told that we will return in some capacity but it will be very far from “normal”. We will stare out and see little masked faces. Where group projects and hands on learning once stood now stand desks in rows, feet apart. There is no rug for cozy mini lessons or to come together to share the joy of a story. There is no recess for kids to play on the playground, tag, basketball, or jump rope. School is now a ghost of what it used to be. So please, give teachers a minute to process. Allow us time to mourn what is lost; be angry, sad, and nervous. These feelings are justified. We teachers pour our heart and soul into what we do because we love helping kids. We love helping them grasp difficult concepts, grow socially, and conquer feats that they didn’t believe they could. We love building relationships with our students, growing a strong classroom community, and having fun with our kiddos. Now, that will be replaced by masked faces, distance, partitions, and individual work. It is heartbreaking. Teachers have gone through an emotional roller coaster this summer. Every new update is another gut wrenching drop in the emotional ride we have been on. So, please give teachers time to process the new reality. Give time for teachers to grapple with the drastic changes to the job they love. I know it is difficult to understand the emotional trench we must climb out of, especially if you are not in the classroom every day. I ask that you pause before passing judgement on an educator right now. I ask that you jack the brakes before judging and posting a negative rant. If you feel you must share something, give grace. Give grace and time for educators to tackle their new reality this fall. Give grace and a kind ear while teachers process the loss of what school once was. I know there is a great deal to be nervous or angry about in the world right now, but I ask that you do not take it out on teachers. We are doing our very best to plan for an unplannable year and make learning fun even in these strict conditions. Give teachers grace and not grief in this back to school season. We will march on and make the year the best it can be for our students, but please let us catch our breath first.

 


Wednesday, June 24

My Biggest Mistake as a New Teacher


new-teacher

Being a new teacher is not easy. I like to think of your first few years in the classroom like this; you barely know how to ride a bike and suddenly, people start throwing things at you and yelling, “catch!” You simply do your best to catch every flying object while simultaneously trying to keep your bike from toppling over. Being a new teacher is a stage five juggling act that you are in no way prepared for. I struggled hard as a new teacher. I made countless mistakes as a new teacher, but one stands out above the rest. Read more as I share my biggest mistake I made as a new teacher and what I learned from it.

 My Biggest Mistake as a New Teacher

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When I started my teaching career after graduating college in December, I was offered a long term substitute position in a third grade classroom for the remainder of that year. I remember the feeling of joy and disbelief that I was really going to be a teacher and have my own classroom. I had visions of amazing lessons and sweet kiddos who would love me instantly, however, reality hit me hard in the face right on day one. You see I was the fifth teacher to try and take over and lead this group of third graders after their original teacher had quit just a few short months into the school year. Student behaviors were beyond challenging and I was fresh off the boat with no mentor teacher (because I was technically hired as a long term substitute). I was in way over my head and drowning. Honestly, as I look back on that time now I can’t help but laugh at it all.

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Teaching is NOT easy; I made countless mistakes and learned as I went. That point brings me to what I really wanted to tell you, my biggest mistake as a new teacher. You see I had dreamed about being a teacher since I was in middle school. I feel like teaching really is a calling, and is something you just know that you were destined for. I dreamed of this job for so long and now that I was finally here, I was failing miserably. I so desperately wanted to do a good job and be the teacher I had always envisioned. That was my biggest mistake as a new teacher. I know you’re thinking “wait what?” right now, so allow me to explain. I so desperately just wanted to be a good teacher that I tried everything and anything any teacher advised me, even if it didn’t jive with me as a person. I saw veteran teachers who had spectacular classroom control and I tried to do exactly as they did, the same ways they did. I tried behavior management techniques that I hated. Nothing felt right and I was still, in my eyes, failing with my class. I was so focused on being good at teaching that I forgot all about who I was as an individual. I forgot about my strengths, what makes me special, and I just tried to do what I saw other teachers doing. After so much time struggling I have finally learned that you have to know who you are as a person in order to be the best teacher you can be. Once you know who you are, you can learn what type of teaching style best fits your personality. So new teachers, do you know your teaching style?

There are five traditional teaching styles.
Authority: Teacher centered. Typically includes long teacher lectures/ lessons where students are expected to listen and take notes.
Demonstrator: Teacher centered. Teacher shows students what they need to know through presentations, activities, and more.
Facilitator: Teacher guides students. Teacher will help facilitate student develop skills and retain knowledge through activities and more.
Delegator: Student centered. Teacher allows students to lead learning in experiments, provide student feedback, and have discussions/ debates.
Hybrid: A blended model of the teaching styles. This style blends the teacher’s interests and personality with those of the students.

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In the beginning of my teaching journey, I tried a great deal to be an “authority” style teacher. This works great for some people, but good Lord it is so not my personality. Through my first three years of trial and error I discovered that I was a “hybrid” style teacher. Now that I knew my teaching style I could research, try, and learn instructional and behavioral techniques that fit with that model. I’m happy to say that I now know exactly who I am as a teacher and I feel darn good about the work I do. I know myself as a person and the teaching style that blends with my personality.
If you are a new teacher, I encourage you to learn from my big mistake I made as a new teacher and go learn your teaching style. Take time and brainstorm what you want your ideal classroom to look like and sound like. Picture what you will be doing and what your students will be doing. How do you feel in this space? Do you see kiddos actively listening while you deliver a fantastic lesson at the front of the room? Do you see yourself listening and leading students in accountable talk and deep discussions? All five styles can lead to sensational learning opportunities for your students! Please do not fall into a trap of thinking you have to be one style to be considered a good teacher. Take it from me and learn from my biggest mistake as a new teacher; if you stay true to yourself and find your own teaching style, you will become a better teacher than you ever imagined.


Looking for some FREE tips, strategies, and more to help you rock your first few years in the classroom? Click the Download button to get a copy of my FREE Top 10 Tips for New Teachers Ebook!




Tuesday, June 9

Classroom Management Tips for New Teachers

classroom-management

Hey new teacher! Let’s talk about classroom management. Let me be frank, classroom management is everything! You can have all the amazing ideas in the world but if you lack classroom management, those ideas will never take flight. Trust me on this one; it took me years to find my groove with classroom management. Let me save you some time and share some of my favorite classroom management strategies, tips, and more! Read more to learn some amazing classroom management tips for new teachers.

classroom-management

Classroom Management Strategies


When planning your classroom management system for the year, create an easy to implement combination of the two strategies below. Your classroom management will be the best when you operate your classroom with both a whole group system and an individual focused system simultaneously. This is a lot to keep track of! Make your systems clear for your kiddos and easy for you to keep up with.
Whole Class- This is a strategy you use with your entire class. Such as a gem jar, beat the teacher game, gain chain, and more. Simply put, the class that works together celebrates together.
Individual- Each student can work independently toward reaching a behavior goal. This allows students to be recognized when their personal goals are reached and they do not have to wait for the class to reach a goal. One example is a sticker chart.

classroom-management

Classroom Management Style


There are two things you must remember when you start to tackle this classroom management mountain; first is that consistency is KEY, and the second is to do your own thing. Let’s chat about these points some more. Children need consistency. They need to know where the limits are and what will happen if they push them. This provides them with structure and a sense of safety. I suggest making a set of class rules with your students and hang them on the wall. This will serve as a reminder to you and your students about the expectations and what will happen if they are not followed. No matter how hard it becomes, remain persistent and constant even when it is difficult.
Next, be true to yourself. Within my first few years I tried countless classroom management strategies that were suggested by my colleagues. They were great advice, but unfortunately those strategies just didn’t jive with my personality. This created inner struggle for me and I would end up braking  away and loosing that ever so crucial consistency factor. So, my advice is for you to explore new methods that you think align with your personality and educational philosophy. Here’s the big but, never feel like you are locked in once you try a style. You are a new teacher for heavens sake! Allow yourself time to experiment and explore. It may take time, but I know you will find the right classroom management system for you and your kiddos!

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Visual Classroom Management Strategies

Classroom Rule Posters- Have clear expectations posted so student can see and refer to them when needed.
Non-verbal Cue Cards- Use bitmoji cards or color coded cards to send a message to your students without needing to stop instruction. Simply explain what the cards mean ahead of time and place one on a student’s desk if needed during  instruction or work time.
Timers- Sand or digital timers can help with classroom management. These visual tools can be used for countdowns until it is time to transition, time to stay focused, time to stay in take a break, and more.
Class Reward System Posters- Keep a visual representation of class behavior goals at the front of the room. This visual reminder can be easily referred to and can visually remind students to keep working on good behavior.
Tickets/ Stickers- Student sticker charts or tickets can ban an easy way to praise students for good behavior. Having something tangible helps reinforce the good behavior paired with specific verbal praise.
Brag Tags- This visual reward system allows individual students to wear their praise in the form of a “brag tag” around their necks each day.

classroom-management

Verbal Classroom Management Strategies


Call Backs- Teach students to give a choral response when you say a cue phrase. For example if you say, “oh class?” They must all respond, “oh yes!” There are so many fun call backs you can use in your classroom, or have your students help you create some!
Line Up Chants- Rewrite a song and sing it as a class when moving to line up. One of my favorites is, “show me a line” which goes to the tune of the Adams Family theme song.
Transition Songs- Create a playlist for better transition times. Students are allowed to move about while the song plays. When the song is done, students must be done transitioning and ready to learn.

There you go, now you know some of my favorite tips and strategies for classroom management. Ultimately, there are three things to remember when it comes to classroom management; consistency is key, relationships are everything, and give yourself grace. All good things take time, especially getting good at classroom management. My advice is to try out strategies, find some that you love and work at it. Give yourself some grace; you will be a classroom management master in no time!

Looking for some FREE tips, strategies, and more to help you rock your first few years in the classroom? Click the Download button to get a copy of my FREE Top 10 Tips for New Teachers Ebook!




Thursday, June 4

3 Reasons Why You Should Get a Class Facebook Group


class-facebook-page

Facebook can be a fun platform for connecting with family and friends, but did you know it can also be an awesome tool for parent communication? I have used a private class Facebook group for the past four years; I love it and so do my students parents! Read more to learn my top three reasons why you should get a class Facebook group.

Reason #1 Why You Should Get a Class Facebook Group
The first reason I think you should start a class Facebook group is simple, it is fantastic parent communication. In today’s day and age, people are always on their smart phones. It is far easier for a parent to open a notification on their phone than to dig through their child’s backpack. Having a class Facebook group ensures your parents will receive important information in an easy and timely manner. I often take a photo of important papers going home and write in the post that the papers were sent home today. My parents love how easily information can be shared to them. Happy parents = happy teacher.

Reason #2 Why You Should Get a Class Facebook Group
The second reason I love having a class Facebook group is the ability to share pictures. Parents send their children to school each day and when they ask what happened in school, they will most often receive a, “nothing”. I love sharing pictures and videos of what is happening in our classroom! It helps the parents feel connected. They love being able to actually see what happens at school. My students love when I post pictures to our class Facebook group as well. They love being able to show their parents what we did in the classroom today and talk about it with them. Just make sure you get a signed photo release from each student before you post any pictures to your group.
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Reason #3 Why You Should Get a Class Facebook Group
The third reason I love having a class Facebook group is for the features. I can ask my students parents a question in a poll to get their quick input. I can do a Facebook live activity with my students so parents can see the great learning happening in real time. There are so many creative options to help keep your parents feeling connected and informed using a class Facebook group.


Looking for some FREE tips, strategies, and more to help you rock your first few years in the classroom? Click the Download button to get a copy of my FREE Top 10 Tips for New Teachers Ebook!