Thursday, May 28

End of the Year Digital Celebration Ideas



The end of the year is coming quickly, and what a weird year it was. What started out as an ordinary year with my kiddos quickly flipped upside down and now we are ending the year apart. However, even though we are apart, we can still celebrate together! I have gathered some great (and easy) end of the year celebration ideas that can be done virtually. Ready to get your virtual party on? Read more to check out these fun end of the year virtual celebration ideas!

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End of the Year Celebration: Student Slideshow
If you are a photo nut like I am, then you have plenty of pictures to go around. I captured so many special memories in our classroom before we switched to distance learning. I am going to put these photos together in a slide show that I can share with my students. I know they will love remembering all the fun projects they did and seeing the fun pictures.
End of the Year Celebration: Zoom Party
Why not celebrate the end of the year with a Zoom party? Let your kiddos know the day and time, and that it is just for fun. You can even have a theme for your virtual party. Why not have a PJ party, or a beach themed party? During the party you can play music and dance or do scavenger hunts. There are many creative options for Zoom celebrations that would be a blast for your kiddos!
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End of the Year Celebration: Countdown Videos
I love countdown calendars and so do my students! I take the number of students I have and count backwards from our school closing date. On all of those days in between we celebrate specific students! To celebrate virtually, I am doing a balloon pop each day and posting the video to our class Facebook page. I mailed my kiddos packages ahead of time. This way when I do my balloon pop and their name is inside, they can open the package and enjoy the treats on their special day. It has been a lot of fun! You could do a virtual countdown with an online spinner too.
End of the Year Celebration: Student Awards
I love doing student awards at the end of the year. This year I printed and mailed mine, but you could also send them digitally! Simply save the award you make as a PDF or JPEG file on your computer. Then you can easily email the award to your students! I do this with my character education end of the year awards. Core values and character education are a big part of my teachings each year, so I use end of the year awards that reflect that importance. For example, students in my room may receive an Integrity award or an award for showing great Compassion. I love this end of the year activity because my students are so proud when they receive their awards. Click HERE to check out the class awards I use.

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However you choose to celebrate virtually this year, know that your kiddos appreciate it. It has been a weird year for everyone and distance learning has been hard. Coming together to celebrate is something your students still really enjoy, even if it has to be done virtually. So enjoy your last few days of the year and go celebrate with your kids! (Virtually of course).

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, May 12

5 Must Do End of the Year Activities


end-of-the-year-activities

As the end of the year approaches, teachers are looking for fun activities to do with their students. I have compiled a list of my top five, must do end of the year activities! From countdown calendars to relationship building activities, it's all right here. Read more to learn my 5 must do end of the year activities!


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End of the Year Activity #1: Letters to Students

Each June I have my current students write letters to my upcoming kiddos. I present my new students with these letters on step up day. This is such a fun activity because students will share what they love about you as a teacher and what upcoming students can expect. It allows your new students to get a peak at what their new teacher will be like before the year begins. Distance learning this year? No worries! Simply have your students type their letter in Google Docs. This way you will still be able to print them and give to your new students!


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End of the Year Activity #2: Memory Books

At the end of each year I make memory books for my students. This is similar to a yearbook. Memory books are a fun way for students to reflect, write/ draw about their year, and gather friends’ autographs. Memory books are always a fan favorite in my classroom and one of my favorite end of the year activities as well! Click HERE to check out the memory books I use.

End of the Year Activity #3: Turtle Compliments

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Turtle compliments are such a fun activity to build classroom community! I like to do this activity after winter break and then again as the school year comes to a close. This classroom community building activity is super easy and free. It allows an opportunity for children to learn about compliment giving and kindness. Each child will tape a paper plate or piece of white paper onto their backs. Then, each person in the room is responsible for going around the room and writing one kind thing on each person's back. I always tape a paper to my back and join in on this activity. I like my kiddos to see me active modeling as we do this activity and to remind them that I am part of the classroom community too. This is a wonderful end of the year activity to keep that classroom community growing right until the end of school. For a distance learning version, try creating a shared Google Doc that all your students can use to write compliments to each other on.

 End of the Year Activity #4: Countdown Calendars

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I love countdown calendars and so do my students! I take the number of students I have and count backwards from our school closing date. On all of those days in between we celebrate specific students! On their special day in the countdown, the chosen student will sit in our VIP desk and everyone else will write them compliments on our white board to start the day. I teach students all about giving compliments and celebrating one another. You can do many creative visuals for countdown calendars. From balloon pops to spinners, there are so many fun ways to countdown and celebrate your students in this fun end of the year activity. Check out the VIP student resource I use, click HERE. I you are distance learning, do a video countdown calendar! Record little videos each day that help students count down to the last day of school. This is what I will be going this year, along with mailing my kiddos their VIP badge and end of the year awards.

End of the Year Activity #5: Student Awards

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I love doing student awards at the end of the year. We host a little class party and each child gets a chance to be recognized for something wonderful. Core values and character education are a big part of my teachings each year, so I use end of the year awards that reflect that importance. Instead of giving my kiddos silly end of the year awards, I recognize each student for a character trait we learned during the year. For example, students in my room may receive an Integrity award or an award for showing great Compassion. I love this end of the year activity because my students are so proud when they receive their awards. Click HERE to check out the class awards I use.


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!








Monday, April 27

10 Must Have New Teacher Essentials


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Hey new teacher! Are you getting ready for an epic first year? Then sit down, get cozy, and read all about my 10 must have new teacher essentials. Trust me, once you read these new teacher essentials you will see how they were total lifesavers for me, and honestly still are. Are you ready? Read more to learn my top 10 must have new teacher essentials.

New Teacher Essential #1 Comfortable Shoes:

I know some teachers can rock it in heels and crush the whole professional diva chic thing, but trust me you do not want to go down that road. As a teacher you will be moving and grooving with your kiddos all day. You need shoes that will support you with every class line you stroll down the hallway and recess duty you walk around for. I have discovered that I am a much better teacher when I have happy feet. Now, just because you need comfort, doesn’t mean your teacher shoes can't be super cute. Check out some of my cute and comfy teacher shoe picks below.


New Teacher Essential #2 A Good Thermos:

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This one is of the most important items. In case no one told you, as a teacher you will never again drink all of your coffee while it is still hot. Honestly there are some days I only take a few sips of my coffee at all. Days when the classroom runs on full screech, it is common to put your coffee down for a second, and return an hour later when its ice cold. So you need a good thermos to keep that coffee warm (or cold if you’re an iced coffee fan) all morning. Check out some of my favorite thermoses below.


New Teacher Essential #3 A Support System:

One of the most crucial things a new teacher can acquire is a tribe. You are embarking on a challenging new journey and you need the right people by your side. Find your support system and don’t be afraid to lean on them. If that means you call you mom on the drive home to share the joys in the classroom that day, or you stay after to chat with a colleague and vent your frustrations out. All are great options, just make sure you find people you can trust.
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New Teacher Essential #4 Your Own Pens:

Get your own pens! My students are welcome to use just about anything in our classroom, except my ink joys and flair pens. Having colorful pens is definitely a teacher must have. From correcting papers to writing notes you want to have something that makes you happy to write with, and trust me keep them off limits!

New Teacher Essential #5 Emergency Sub Plans:

Can I get an amen! Oh my stars you need a sub tub, emergency sub plan pack, or sub bin. Whatever your system is, you NEED to set up emergency sub plans ahead of time. Trust me on this one friend; you just never know what is going to come your way. Having three days’ worth of sub plans done at the beginning of the year is one of the best decisions you can make. This way if you wake up violently ill or have an unexpected emergency come up you don’t have to spend hours writing and sending sub plans that morning. You simply notify the correct person where they can locate your already made sub plans in your classroom. It’s as easy as that. If you want to check out the sub plan templates I use, CLICK HERE.
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New Teacher Essential #6 Water Bottle:

This may seem silly, like what does a water bottle have to do with teaching? It has everything to do with your health. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to enjoy all this year will have to offer. So why is a water bottle a new teacher essential? You need to get a water bottle and keep it in sight so you remember to stay hydrated. It is so easy to fall into a pattern of not staying hydrated at school, because you don’t remember to take care of yourself, or know you won’t have time to use the restroom if you drink too much. Either way, do not fall into this pattern. Get a cute water bottle you want to see staring you down every day and stay hydrated!

New Teacher Essential #7 A Sturdy Teacher Bag:

You are about to start carting piles of paperwork, curriculum, and random coffee mugs back and forth to school each day. Find a bag that has sturdy straps and a lot of pockets/ compartments to help keep you organized. I have gone through a variety of teacher bags over the years, no matter what bag I chose for the year they all have one thing in common, they are easy and comfortable to carry. Check out some of my favorite teacher bags below.

New Teacher Essential #8 an “Everything I Forgot Box”:

LIFESAVER ALERT! You must have an “everything I forgot box.” What on earth is that you might ask? It is a small box you keep in your classroom that has any basic necessity you could forget on a crazy morning. My box has everything from deodorant and dry shampoo, to eyeliner and Advil. You can’t leave work for an hour long lunch and stop at a store to pick up possibly forgotten items mid-day. Nope, as a teacher once you get to school, you’re there for the day. So, find a cute box and fill it with all of your favorite daily essentials. You can thank me later.
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New Teacher Essential #9 All the Snacks:

Good teachers need good snacks. This is my personal opinion, but honestly you need to keep snacks in your classroom. Some days you will be starving right after lunch and sometimes a student might need a little extra something to eat. Whatever the reason you should always keep some snacks on hand, especially chocolate. Keep a secret stash of that hidden. Trust me good sweets can get you through even the toughest of days in the classroom. I keep chocolate caramel squares hidden in my room at all times.
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New Teacher Essential #10 Self Care:

This is one of the most important new teacher must haves on this list. Self-care is so important. You are entering into a career where you will look after others all day and night, yes at night your teacher brain will struggle to turn off. Start the year with a self-care routine. This way it will be easier to keep up that routine when the craziness of the school year unfolds. My self-care routine is as follows; Monday is my night for smut TV shows, Wednesday is my “bring nothing home” night, and Friday is date night. These few things keep me charged and ready to tackle what the week has to bring. Be sure to take care of yourself and your needs so you can be the amazing teacher you were born to be. If you want to read more about teacher self-care check out my blog post all about it, click HERE.

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!







Wednesday, April 22

Collect and Organize Your Teacher Evaluation Evidence Like a Boss

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Let’s talk about teacher evaluation evidence for a minute. I know what you’re thinking, umm I’ll pass, but did you know that teacher evaluation evidence collection and organization doesn’t have to be a daunting task? Read more to learn the strategies I use to stay on top of my teacher evaluation evidence collection and organization like a boss.

Collect Your Teacher Evaluation Evidence

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When you are trying to plan out evidence for your teacher evaluation try and think of things you will already be doing. For example, if your teacher evaluation goal is to increase student engagement, stop and think about what measures you are already taking. Are you writing lesson plans that show engagement strategies? Check, put those in your teacher evaluation binder. Are you researching new strategies to increase student engagement? Yes, print out the ones you are using and put them in your teacher evaluation binder. Are you teaching and using strategies to increase student engagement in your classroom? Um yeah, well videotape yourself and use it as evaluation evidence! You don’t need to recreate the wheel when it comes to teacher evaluation evidence collection. Think smarter not harder. Think what am I already doing/ using that could be great evidence? Stop and jot all the systems and methods you are already doing that could be used as fantastic evidence in your teacher evaluation. Then, make a plan to make sure you collect that evidence you are already doing.

Organize Your Teacher Evaluation Evidence

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In order to organize your teacher evaluation evidence like a boss, you need a good system! Something that has really helped me stay on top of my teacher evaluation evidence collection is to start early. I can’t tell you how stressful it is when the end of the year is approaching and you realize that you haven’t been collecting evidence and now have to put a whole binder together. Ugh.
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Now I start each year with a binder. Inside I put my teacher evaluation goals for the year, important dates, and the methods of evidence I plan to use. Getting an organization system going as soon as possible is so important. As I collect evidence throughout the year it will already have an easy to access place to be filed. Easy peasy. Starting my teacher evaluation evidence collection early and with a clear system has made my life so much easier! Want so check out the editable teacher evaluation templates I use? CLICK HERE.
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Stay on Track with Collecting Your Teacher Evaluation Evidence

With the craziness that each day in the classroom brings, it is so easy for me to forget to collect my teacher evaluation evidence. This is why I put an “important dates” section inside my evaluation binder at the beginning of the year. This way I can give myself checkpoints throughout the year and make sure I am collecting that data and evidence like a boss.
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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!




Wednesday, April 15

An Open Letter To New Teachers


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Dear New Teacher,

I see you with a fake smile as you tell the world you’re doing great. I see you bubbling with excitement and fresh ideas for your students. I see the worry behind your eyes and the overwhelming fear you are failing. I want to tell you that all of this is normal and you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
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You have entered into one of the most amazing professions out there. How incredible is it that each day you have the chance to change lives? Each day you get the opportunity to make someone feel loved and wanted. Each day you get to share the gift that is educating someone.

You will meet amazing children that will change your life forever. You will teach little humans to read and tackle math problems. You will teach them how to be kind, courteous, and how to apologize. You will help build friendships and dry tears. You will learn the power of patience and that a wet paper towel cures most things. In case you haven’t figured it out, when you become a teacher you now wear countless hats and the ones that call you teacher look to you for help with all their needs.   
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This job is truly incredible in so many ways. However, it is not all rainbows and sunshine, triumphs and hugs, no teaching is also extremely challenging. You will face obstacles bigger than you could have ever imagined. Heads up, college did not prepare you for real world teaching. College courses did not tell you how to handle difficult parents, deescalate a child in crisis, or fix the stupid photo copier that seems to break every time you use it. No college did not prepare you on how to engage today’s learners, differentiate across multiple grade levels, instruct tiered strategy groups, how to data track like your life depends on it, or how to keep it all together. Breathe, because I promise it will be alright.
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Honestly, some days you will give it your all and it still won’t be good enough. On those days I ask you to take a deep breath, practice some self-care, and go to bed. Tomorrow is another day in the classroom, another day to make a change in the lives of your students. Teaching is extremely tough, but so are you. You didn’t want to be a teacher for the fame and fortune, you wanted to be a teacher to make an impact on countless lives, and that is exactly what you will do.
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So, new teacher, do not compare yourself to anyone else. Stop peaking at the teacher down the halls perfect bulletin boards, stop comparing yourself to the Instagram perfect teacher who seem to have everything perfectly figured out. It is ok to feel like you are drowning. Despite all your worry and self-doubt, you are exactly what your students need this year. They need someone who will love them and try their best to make school great. So, new teacher feeling overwhelmed, excited, and exhausted all at once, I see you and I want you to know that you are doing an amazing job.

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, April 9

Teach Writing in Google Classroom with Ease

 google-classroom-teaching
As we all know, distance learning is very different than classroom instruction. There are many challenges to distance learning. Fortunately, there are many fantastic online platforms that can make virtual learning better, one such platform is Google Classroom. Being honest, there are things I love, and things I am not tickled pink about with Google Classroom. However, I have found a way that I love and can use Google Classroom for writing. Read more to learn how to teach writing in Google Classroom with ease.

Now, I am not going to talk to you about instruction inside Google Classroom. The platforms I use for writing instruction during our distance learning time are either Facebook live or Zoom. However, I do want to share about the changes I have made for my students writing assignments. How I assign and receive their writing is so much easier now, so let’s get into that.

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I am a super visual person. In my typical writing classes we use a lot of graphic organizers. Both my kiddos and myself were struggling when we made the switch to digital learning, for MANY reasons, one being that writing class was now so different! I decided that I needed to find a way to bring our lightning writes (quick daily writing prompts) and graphic organizers back onto the scene.
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Did you know you can use Google Slides to create great visuals for your students and assign them easily in Google Classroom? Yeah, neither did I! After some reading and YouTubing, I learned how to make and assign graphic organizers for my kiddos! I love the ease of assigning one prompt or graphic organizer at a time. It has made such a difference in my writing assignments on Google Classroom. I encourage you to play around on Google Slides and Google Classroom. You can make some awesome things for your students. Then, watch the video below to see how easy it is to assign these fun visuals to your Google Classroom.


Want to check out the digital graphic organizers I use inside of my Google Classroom? Click here!
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Wednesday, April 1

3 Tips to Engaging Online Read Alouds

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Distance learning has caused many hurdles for teachers. One such hurdle is doing a class read aloud. How are we supposed to read to our kids? How are we supposed to keep them engaged in a story when we are not in class together? I have complied my top three tips to help keep your kiddos engaged in read alouds while we are participating in distance learning.

Zoom Backgrounds 

Did you know you can transport into the book your reading? Well not really, but with the help of the online platform Zoom, you can videotape yourself reading with any background of your choice! How neat would it be for students to see you reading Harry Potter in front of Hogwarts with wizards flying behind you? Are you reading about mummies in Egypt? Why not do your read aloud from a pharaohs tomb? You can use both; standard images or moving video clips to replace your background. The possibilities are endless! Here is a video to teach you how to change your background on Zoom.  Click Here.
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Facebook Live 

The next way you can keep your students engaged in online read alouds is through Facebook live. Facebook live is an amazing way to engage and keep connected with your kiddos while we are distance learning. If you have a closed class Facebook page you can “go live” which means your students can see, hear, and respond to you in real time. This is wonderful because it allows you to pause and ask students questions about the story, similar to how you would do a read aloud in your own classroom. To learn more about Facebook live for your students click HERE.


Video Recordings with Drawings

Not interested in doing a live read aloud? Don’t sweat it! You can still keep your students engaged in your read aloud while we are practicing distance learning. Simply record yourself reading the next chapter in your book, then ask students to draw/ illustrate what they hear happening in the story. After, have them share the pictures with you digitally. This is a fun and simple way to keep your students engaged in a read aloud while distance learning.