Genre Pic Collages

Sunday, December 3, 2017
Bringing technology into your lessons is a great way to build engagement! My students were learning about genres of fiction, so I chose to show them how to use the Pic Collage app for our content. Pic Collage is a great tool to use to quickly show learning. Pic Collage Kids is our go-to option though - filtered ads, but does cost money!
Each student was given a genre on a card. It was a secret and they were to keep it to themselves. Then each student had to find 4-5 pictures to put into a collage that represented their genre. Students could take pictures around the classroom, pull from the internet, etc. However my rules were NO words and NO book covers! You can see an example of fantasy in the image above.

After they submitted their collages to me, I displayed them on the board and we all guessed each other's genre. They had a lot of fun and came up with some great ideas!

Pic Collage Kids is a great app to use in any content area! I encourage you to try it with kids. They love it, plus it's an added quick assessment tool you can use to see if students understand the content you're teaching!

Teaching the Columbian Exchange

Wednesday, November 29, 2017
American history in 5th grade is one of my favorite things to teach! We don't always have a ton of time to dive deep into our social studies and science, so I put together some resources I use every year to teach the Columbian Exchange and the New World Explorers. Check them out below!
1. Encounter by Jane Yolen
Encounter is a great read aloud to do with your class at any point during the unit. It is a picture book that tells a story about an explorer coming to the New World and the exchanges he had with the native people. It's a very powerful book that kids get really into! Grab it on Amazon HERE.

2. Brain Pop: Columbian Exchange
Brain Pop has a great, short video about the Columbian Exchange.

3. Flocabulary: Discovering America
Do you have a Flocabulary account? It's $99 for a year subscription, which can definitely be pricey and some of the videos can be found on YouTube, but my students and I absolutely love it. We watch the videos for almost every content area and it has really good, catchy tunes that stick with the kids. Discovering America is a great Flocabulary video we play a number of times throughout the unit.

4. New World Explorer Research
I created some research pages for 10 well-known explorers of the New World. In the research, students are looking for information related to where they're from, where they explored, what they were looking for and if their journey was successful. You can find those research pages HERE.

5. European Explorers Dice Simulation
Have you checked out the dice simulations from Teaching in the Fast Lane? I have bought more than 5 for various content areas. My students absolutely love them! She created a great one for the explorers and their journey to the New World. Grab it HERE.

6. "I Will Fight No More Forever" Speech
The speech by Chief Joseph is really powerful and depicts a strong message from the Native American perspective. You can find the speech HERE. You can use it for whole group, close reading, or small group instruction.

7. Crop Exchange Simulation
The Columbian Exchange did create some positive exchanges of crops and goods. Students can see where some of the common crops and goods that we use and eat every day came from by using the crop exchange simulation found HERE.

8. Writing Prompt/Project
To wrap up the unit, I ask the question: What impact did the explorers have on the New World? With this project, students are directed to create some sort of project that depicts the answer to this question. They also are required to write a minimum of one paragraph that explains their project and what they learned. The project guidelines and rubrics I use are linked up HERE.

Upper Elementary Snapshots also has a great list of resources and activities you can use to teach the Columbian Exchange. Check it out HERE!

How do you teach the Columbian Exchange and New World Explorers in your classroom?

The BEST Planning Move I Made!

Friday, November 17, 2017
It was the end of the first quarter and the other 5th grade teacher and I sat down to do some planning. Both of us sat there overwhelmed, a bit frustrated and tired. Just straight up tired. We wanted to be innovative, we wanted to try new things, we wanted to enhance our curriculum, but we just couldn't find the time. Then we said, wouldn't it be nice if we could just take one thing off our plate? Well, we did. And it is amazing!

We immediately called down our administrator (who is so supportive) and asked her - what did she think about me taking over reading and my partner taking over math? We would align our schedules to make it work, give the 5th graders a middle school feel and divide and conquer. Of course, she said yes!

We took about a week to get ready. I organized my room to be more reading focused and she designed hers to be more math focused. I gave her all my math materials and she gave me all her reading materials. We prepped the kids, told them the routine and procedures for how it was going to look and feel, then dove in! We teach our own classrooms every morning our respective subjects. Before leaving for recess/lunch, all the 5th graders put their materials on the top shelf of their lockers for their afternoon class. After lunch, the students gather their materials then travel to the opposite classroom - they don't even have to stop in their own classroom at all. It's seamless and smooth. And the best part...the kids LOVE it!

Since starting, I cannot express enough how much better I feel! We both still teach writing, language and content (however, I try to incorporate content into our literacy as much as possible), but just taking math off my plate has been incredible. I feel focused, excited, innovative and I am feeling the results after just a few short weeks! I am on my game, I can focus my energy and my students are making gains! I had some hesitations in the beginning because I do really enjoy teaching math. However, after just a few weeks of this schedule switch, I'm wondering why we didn't think of this sooner!

Rights of a Reader

Tuesday, October 17, 2017
After reading Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer (which I HIGHLY recommend), I wanted to start the year off fostering a love of reading. I really wanted my students to take ownership of their reading, choose their own books and fall in love with our independent reading time. I used some of what Donalyn shared in her book and chose 10 Rights of a Reader. 
At the beginning of the year, I share these rights with the students and we briefly discuss them. Then throughout the year, I revisit and discuss the different elements so students are very aware of what they are able to do during our independent reading time. You can find the posters HERE in my Teachers Pay Teachers store! The blank letters are also available, as well as white background versions for easier printing.

I love having these displayed in my classroom above my classroom library for students to reference so they know they are readers and have rights in their reading habits!

Displaying Student Work + FREEBIE

Monday, October 16, 2017
I always make sure I'm displaying student work in my classroom, as does about every teacher, right? We are really focusing on building grit and growth mindset in my classroom, so I wanted to tie a quote with the student work display. I created the quote Grit + Growth = Success on my board to make sure that students understand how important grit and growth are! You can find the words for FREE HERE.

The options for work to display are completely up to you! On this board below, I post my students' Moby Max badges they have earned throughout the school year. You could post writing samples, math achievements, reading goals, etc!
You can print however works best for your classroom. I printed each word on different colored card stock. You could also laminate if you plan on keeping them for the long haul. Hope you find them useful for your classroom :)

Student Autobiographies + FREEBIE

Sunday, October 1, 2017
My favorite beginning of the year writing project is student autobiographies! It builds community in my classroom, builds writing stamina and is high interest.
Before my students write their autobiography, I give them a planning page to start writing ideas. You can find the planning page for FREE HERE! I make sure to tell them to include more if they want! Also, some students don't want to include all the information on the planning page and that is okay, too! The planning page just gets them to start thinking about what to include and organize their writing.

Now, after the planning page is completed, I make sure to tell them that I expect an organized 5 paragraph autobiography. Most of my students use the headings from the planning page to help them, while others are able to change theirs to make it their own. The planning page really just helps them get started and stay organized in their piece!

Once we're done editing their autobiography, I trace their silhouette on a blank white piece of paper. You can easily do this by turning on your projector, have them stand in front of your board to make a shadow, tell them to stand very still (hard for some :)) and trace away. I chose to cut my students' silhouettes out to prevent noses being cut off, etc. Then I gave them stacks of magazines and told them to find pictures to create a collage that represented them. They had so much fun with this! Students started recommending ideas to other people or would ask the whole group if someone liked pizza because they found a picture of a pizza - it was super fun! Once students finished, I cut off the extra edges (turn the silhouette over and you can easily see if any of the pictures are overlapping) and then I had them use their favorite color to color in the white spaces if there were any.

The finished products are perfect for right outside my classroom for the first quarter! So many teachers, parents and students have walked by to take a look! Such a great start to the school year!

Mindfulness in the Classroom

Saturday, September 30, 2017
Do you use mindfulness in your classroom? This is one of my favorite times of the day. We switch it up, try new things and it's still a work in progress, but I'm learning more each time. Here is how I got started and a few resources you can use in your classroom!
First, we talked about what mindfulness is and why we should practice it. I found this great YouTube video you can find HERE that has kids explaining mindfulness. I thought this was really engaging for them. We spent some time talking about how it calms your body and rebuilds your brain. We also talked about how it takes time to practice and get really good at it.

Now, the first time was hard - for me and for them. I felt uncomfortable leading their mindfulness the first time, so I found this great website that plays recordings for your students. Check it out HERE! It is honestly a lifesaver and really helpful. There are a lot of different options!

I also purchased a few books on mindfulness for kids! My first recommendation would be Cultivating Mindfulness in the Classroom. Find it HERE on Amazon! It gives you TONS of options and lessons you can quickly implement in your classroom! My second recommendation would be the Mind Up Curriculum you can find HERE. Make sure to check for your grade level because they have different texts for different grades. This resource really teaches students how their brain works and how we can rewire our brain.

Another resource I use is Go Noodle! They have some amazing mindfulness videos that show up right in the categories to practice breathing techniques.

Finally, we have a mindfulness bell that I like to use with students when we only have a few minutes to practice. I ring the bell (in the picture above) and students spend time listening and being mindful of the sound. I usually ring it 3-4 times depending on how much time we have. I grabbed mine off Amazon HERE.

I have loved implementing mindfulness into my classroom and the kids love it too. It doesn't need to take 20 minutes a day and doesn't need to be scheduled lessons. You get to decide how often to bring it into the classroom! Even 1-2 minutes a day can make an impact! It's a really great way to help students regulate their emotions and feelings, as well as helps them refocus on our content and my teaching. Truthfully, it's been really great for me to practice as well!

I encourage you to try it and know there is no wrong way to practice mindfulness!

Open House + A Freebie

Monday, August 28, 2017
Getting ready for Open House can be a crazy and exciting time! Not only are we prepping to meet our students and their parents, but we are also setting up our classrooms and getting ready for the first day of school! I really like to keep it simple for families to be able to pop in, drop things off and get excited for the school year! Here are a few things I get ready for my students and their parents on Open House night!
1. Folders: We have a school-wide take home folder, so I make sure those are available for my students right away. They always get papers and information at Open House, so this is a good place to store it all and get in the habit of using this folder for their children.

2. Scholastic Orders: I like being able to send home a few Scholastic orders for students at Open House and talk with parents about how easy and cheap it is to order, plus the added bonus of more classroom library books. Scholastic has a really great letter to send to parents with your class code already on it, so no need to recreate!

3. Moby Max: We use Moby Max often in my class and our school, so I also send a letter home to parents explaining the program. Again, Moby Max has a parent letter already available, so I print that off and send it home right away!

4. Newsletter: My newsletter before school starts is really simple. I include information about me, plus my contact information. I write about our homework policy to make sure students and parents are aware right away. I also give any upcoming important dates for the month of September so parents can put it in their calendar right away. This year, we changed our arrival procedure in my building, so I made sure to include that information as well. I made editable newsletter templates that you can find HERE to help you get started! These newsletters are easily adaptable for the entire school year.

5. Snack: I like to give a little snack to give the students something more exciting to leave with - the papers are generally more for the parents. Last year, I bought Starburst for the kids with a super cute tag you can grab HERE from The Applicious Teacher. This year, I decided to go a little healthier and grabbed bags of popcorn off Amazon for the kiddos. I created a tag you can grab for FREE HERE.
That's it! Super simple, super easy and super quick! How do you get ready for Open House?

Decorative Letters: A How-To

Friday, August 25, 2017
I have this awkward space in my classroom (not a bulletin board) that looked too bare, so last year I decided to cut out all these letters and make inspirational words for my students to reference all year...they fell down after two

This space didn't get any better and looking at it for the rest of the year was an eye sore, so I took the summer to rethink the space. I found some great ideas using big letters from Hobby Lobby or Amazon, but I did NOT want to drop over $100 for this to work, so I had to get creative. Here is what I came up with!
The first thing I had to do was collect cardboard boxes. Luckily, my husband was able to get me a ton quickly from his job so I was able to get started right away. I cut the pieces to similar sizes to get them ready for tracing.

Then I opened a new file in Keynote (you can use Word, PP, Google) and typed in a letter in a text box with the font that I wanted. I projected it onto the screen of my SmartBoard.
Once I had the sizing right, I held up a cardboard piece on my SmartBoard with the letter projecting onto it. I traced the letter on the cardboard piece with a pencil.
After tracing all the letters, I cut them all out using a box cutter. The edges frayed a bit, but because of where the letters were in my classroom, I wasn't concerned about seeing the frays.
Once all the letters were cut out, I grabbed some cans of cheap spray paint from Walmart of my classroom colors and sprayed the letters outside. This took maybe 5 minutes. I sprayed on two coats.

When the letters dried, I hot glued the edges of the letters together to make one big word. Now the words are sitting on top of the shelf against the paper. They look great and I know they won't fall! They are set for the year (and hopefully years to come)! Win.
Super easy and super cheap! The entire project cost less than $10 with spray paint. Far better than $100 and it is something I know will last all year ;)

Bathroom Pass Labels FREEBIE

Monday, July 17, 2017
I found this idea on Pinterest a few years ago and have truly LOVED this procedure in my classroom. I was never really a fan of bathroom passes leaving my classroom and going with the students to the bathroom (in my school a hall pass is not required). I often had a missing bathroom pass because a student forgot it in there. AND I really didn't 100% believe students were being overly sanitary...yikes. Here is how the bathroom procedure goes in my classroom: hand sanitizer bottles!
Before school starts, I buy two large hand sanitizer bottles - one for girls and one for boys. You can grab the labels HERE for FREE!

1. Discuss appropriate times for students to use the bathroom right away on the first day of school. I am fine with them going during all independent work periods, but not during whole group instruction or if they are in a small group with me.

2. When the student needs to go to the bathroom, grab their bottle and put it in on their desk. This gives me a quick look at who is in the bathroom at any given time.

3. Student goes to the bathroom.

4. When the student returns, they pump some hand sanitizer (I tell them this is IN ADDITION to washing their hands) and put the hand sanitizer back in the appropriate location.

EASY PEASY! What is your bathroom procedure in your classroom?

Structuring Numbers Activities

Thursday, July 6, 2017
Teach those students to structure! It's a bit surprising how many students even in upper grades don't have these skills. Once these skills are solid, student understanding of deeper material will be much more fluid! Here is a roundup of all the ways I guide my students to structuring numbers to 10! These activities can easily be adjusting to 5s and 20s.
First, let's talk materials! For students to really understand structuring numbers, they need to see visual representations and get their hands on materials! Here are the materials I have in my class that I use regularly:
  • ten frames: you can easily print them off from various free resources or find a variety of them HERE; I also grabbed some amazing magnetic ten frames on Amazon HERE
  • rekenreks: grab some on Amazon HERE or you can easily make your own
  • dominoes: grab some on Amazon HERE
  • 10-sided dice: grab them HERE
  • irregular dot patterns: grab them HERE
  • deck of cards
Now, here are a couple ways you can quickly and easily use each of these materials. There are so many varieties that you'll be set for lessons!

Flash Materials
Quickly flash one of the materials at the students - they should see it for approximately one second. Then turn it back over and ask the students the following questions. How many on the top? How many on the bottom? How many altogether? How many to make 10? Students can also practice this activity with a partner. One partner flashes and the other responds. You can do this with any of the materials listed above giving you so many days of small group lessons!

Quick Writes
Flash a material like above. Students will then write the number on a whiteboard. You could also have students write the pair to make 10 or have them write a number model that represents the material.

Number Talks
Show students a material. Ask them what the students see and how they see it. Students start to build great conversations around combinations of numbers. Check out Sherry Parrish's Number Talks book. It is AMAZING and so worth it!

Screened Collections
Show a bead rack or counters and screen a portion of it. Students will then have to work out a solution while transferring to mental math strategies. This works really great for the rekenreks. Show an amount, say 3, and keep the remaining 7 screened. Students will have to figure out how many are missing.

Number Construction
Give students a material to work with. Ask them to construct a number. Watch and observe how students construct that number. Then ask them to construct another. Observe how they manipulate their setting - do they clear the setting completely or simply adjust it? You can build strong math talk around this as well by having students describe their setting to each other, what they see and notice, as well as how they adjusted their setting.

Adding and Subtracting Numbers
Give students addition and subtraction problems where they can use their setting to manipulate the beads or counters. This will give students a more concrete representation and students will start to notice they can use 5s and 10s as anchors.

Games such as Make 10 Go Fish and Make 10 Memory with a deck of cards are super engaging for students. You can also find some engaging Bingo and Race games HERE. I also snagged this Shut the Box game on Amazon HERE that my students absolutely LOVE!

How do you teach structuring in your classroom? The best part is all of these activities can easily be adjusted for structuring numbers to 5 or 20!

You can check out another blog post I wrote HERE about some of the ways you can specifically use ten frames in your instruction!

The Book Whisperer: A Must Read

Sunday, June 25, 2017
This is not a sponsored post by any means, but I had to share some take aways from The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. It was one of the best professional development texts I have read in my 7 years of teaching. It's a quick read with a lot you can do right away in your classroom. Here are a few of the takeaways I got from the text that I'm implementing now!
Model a Passion for Reading
Kids pay attention! If you show them your love for reading, students are going to recognize that and it could possibly get them engaged in reading as well! If you don't love reading, fake it 'til you make it ;) Honestly, I never thought of myself as a reader growing up. I don't think I even considered myself a reader for a good chunk of my 20s. Then I started reading young adult fiction so I could try to get my students hooked. Well, I got hooked. Now, I love young adult literature way more than adult literature. I find that I can read the books faster (I'm not the most patient person) and that's okay! Showing kids that you love reading can definitely make a difference in their lives as well. They literally may not see this in any adults they know.

Read, Read, Read
I started to read young adult fiction to see which books I could read with my students. It turns out I started loving it. Because of this, I can now recommend some great texts to my students. However, after reading The Book Whisperer, I realized I have to keep going and open up my horizons a bit. I LOVE realistic fiction - Wonder, Fish in a Tree, Because of Mr. Terupt - I could read them all day! What I realized is that I don't have many fantasy or mystery texts to recommend to my students. My next goal is to try these out! If I don't like them, so be it! It's okay if I put them down, but if I don't take risks in my reading, my students won't either.

Book Recommendations
Speaking of book recommendations, Donalyn Miller is a big proponent of this. Now, I thought in previous years that I was doing this, but not to the extent that I should. I created this Student Survey you can grab for free to get my students thinking about themselves as a reader right away at the beginning of the year. These surveys are also going to be a great way for me to find tons of books that I think my students will love right away! Additionally, I need to give students the opportunity to share texts they love with their peers! Having tons of recommendations at their finger tips will more likely give them more motivation to pick one up and dive in!

Take it Easy on the Book Units
One of my favorite things to do as a teacher is read a book aloud to the class and really enjoy it with them. I love hearing their reactions and their questions while they get hooked in the text. One thing I realized I need to do is lay off the formal, unnatural way my students are responding to the text like completing a worksheet or written a response where I'm looking for just the right answer. I want to change this up for the coming year. Of course I'll use the texts to teach important literary concepts such a plot, setting, character, etc. However, now I want those lessons to be built in the discussion and experience of the text rather than some packet or book report that needs to be completed.

Okay, so those are just a few of the fabulous things that I'm getting started with right away. There is so much more amazing information in the text and can be applied to any grade level or class! I would highly recommend reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller right away!

Student Interest Survey + a FREEBIE

Tuesday, June 13, 2017
I always love a good student interest survey! I usually give them out at the beginning of the year to get to know more about my new students in my classroom! Here are a few ways I use them, plus you can grab the Student Interest Survey I created HERE!

Building Relationships
It's great to get to know your students likes, dislikes, interests in and outside of school and their personality (which can really shine through these surveys). I love going through these together as a class before administering them so students know the importance and it shows the students how I really want to get to know them as much as possible right away!

Community Building
Using these as a community building opportunity is pretty great too! Students can share out their answers and find others with similar interests. It's a great way for students to get to know each other as well. Students can also feel a sense of pride in who they are, as well as start having some conversations about struggles to foster growth mindset.

Guiding Instruction
If I know a student is really into Star Wars, I might use that to guide some of my instruction, especially if I'm working one-on-one with a student. It makes their learning a little more exciting (hopefully ;)).

Recommendations for Students
After reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, I realized using these surveys is the perfect way to recommend books for students - particularly those reluctant to read. If I know students are really into sports, I'm going to find as many sports books as I can that are quality texts to get in their hands right away at the beginning of the year!

Do you use student interest surveys with your students? How do you use them?

Don't forget, grab the Student Interest Survey for FREE HERE!

Conferring with Readers

Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Have you started conferring with readers during your literacy block? My amazing literacy coach introduced my staff to conferring this school year and it has made such an incredible difference. I am by no means an expert, but here are some resources I used to get started!

What is conferring? (my take, anyway)
Meeting with students where they're at, academically and physically (meaning, get down on the floor next to them where they are to read with them) and spending time discussing the book THEY are reading independently. Conferences take LESS than 5 minutes with a specific goal and time for you, as the teacher, to get to KNOW your readers!

What does conferring look like?
What?!? I move around the room and talk individually with students about their books??? And you're telling me the conference is less than 5 minutes? Are you kidding me? I had ZERO clue where to start. Thanks, again, to my lit coach, she showed us this great Jennifer Serravallo video. It was a great starting point. Now, do all my conferences look like this? NOPE and that's okay. I've adjusted my conferring style to what works best for me and my students!

What questions do I ask?
Again, NO clue at first. I started out with the usual questions - problem, solution, characters, setting, new information learned, blah, blah, blah. I wanted to go deeper, so I started researching. I started with the hierarchy of goals (check them out on her blog HERE) in Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book. This really helped me get started with what I should be looking for. I then, of course, cross referenced with multiple other reading resources I had (we all know we've got them collecting dust on our shelves) and of course, found some on the wonderful world of the Internet. I had STACKS of books, papers, and websites for great questioning.

Now, I didn't want to carry around all these stacks on stacks on stacks to the carpet, then to a desk, then at a corner table, then to a crate seat (yes, I do flexible seating), so I put together all the questions into categories and wrote them up on cards in two formats. Check them out in my TpT store HERE if you're interested!

Now what???
Give it a whirl! It may not be pretty at first and may not make sense, but once you get into the groove, you'll see the benefits of conferring with readers!

Using Task Cards in the Classroom PLUS How to Store Them!

Monday, April 17, 2017
Do you use task cards in your classroom? I started using them for math and absolutely LOVE them. It's a great way to practice your content while getting students moving around. You can easily use them whole group, small group or individually with students depending on their needs.
All you have to do is print out the task cards you're using for content, cut them out and tape them up around the room. Give your students an answer sheet (I actually create a quiz page in our Schoology account if you have that - super easy and less paper.) Then students wander around the room solving problems instead of sitting in one spot and doing worksheets - it's a win-win in my book!

There are so many great resources and Teachers Pay Teachers sellers out there that have such a variety of task cards. I have created some in my own store that you can find HERE. I also have a few favorite go-to stores depending on level of content I need: Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd, Lucky Little Learners, Blair Turner and Rachel Lynette!

Now, storing task cards can be a bit of a pain, but not with these incredible photo organizers from Michael's. Make sure to be patient and wait for a Michael's coupon - it pays off! I have 4 of these photo organizers and they are amazing! You can also get them on Amazon HERE!

How do you use task cards in your classroom? My next goal: use them in literacy too :)

Getting Ready for a Student Teacher

Friday, March 3, 2017
I really love having a student teacher and practicum students in my classroom. It's such a great way to share your passion for teaching! However, it can be a bit overwhelming when they're about to start! Here are a few ways I get my student teachers ready!
Organize a Space for Them
We want these student teachers to feel like they have some ownership in the classroom. I always find a nook with a table or desk for them to use so they feel like it's their workspace and their classroom. I usually put them in the opposite corner than my desk so they have their own space. Plus, it's always nice to have an extra set of eyes on the opposite side of the classroom. I make sure this space is set up BEFORE they come in!

Welcome Basket
I like to put together a little welcome basket with some teacher essentials - really quick and easy. I put in a few items such as post-its, Flair pens, a clipboard, paper clips, etc. I like to get them in the teacher mode. And let's be real, they will need all these things at some point, so instead of them feeling like they're always asking for little things, provide them with it all right away!

Meet with Them Before They Start
I find it's really important to meet with your student teacher before they get started. It's good to get to know them a little bit and for them to know you. I usually like my student teacher to come right before students go out for recess, so my kiddos can put a face to a name and know who to expect coming in. Then I spend my lunch period showing my student teacher around the building, discussing expectations, showing them our workroom, showing them how to make copies and all the little things that we won't have time for on the first day.

Resources Binder or File
I swayed away from a binder of printed papers this year and switched to a Google Doc which has worked amazingly so far! In the doc, I include a slew of information for them so they can reference it throughout their time. I also love using a Google Doc so I can easily add any information for them that I forgot or that has come up throughout their placement that they will need to know. Here is all the info I include: 

  • important dates
  • important people to know
  • a general schedule for my blocks and specials
  • the curriculum topics that will be covered during their time with me
  • curriculum resources I use frequently in my teaching
  • any behavior or special ed students they need to be aware of
  • a general description of our school make-up, as well as our school-wide behavior program
  • my expectations of them (how to dress/act, professionalism, etc.)
  • a calendar of their progression into their lead weeks so they know what they will be expected to teach each week

Give Them Homework
I always give student teachers homework for their first day. It's usually 2 things. The first is an introductory letter to be sent home to families. In the letter, I want them to tell about themselves a little bit and make sure parents and families are aware of their presence in the classroom for their placement. The second is a community building activity to do with the students on their first day. I give them about a half an hour to plan for a way to get to know the students and their names right away.

How do you get ready for a student teacher? I'd love to hear some more tips!

10 Ways to Use 10 Frames

Sunday, February 19, 2017
Ten frames are such a great tool to use in any classroom! Ten frames help students subitize, build mental math strategies and structure numbers to 10. Here are 10 ways you can use 10 frames in your classroom!

Flash Ten Frames
Flash a ten frame at the student(s) for approximately one second. Then ask the student the following questions: How many were on top? How many on the bottom? How many altogether? How many more to make 10? Mix it up: Use frames with black counters, frames with red/blue counters, pair-wise counters or five-wise counters!

Quick Writes 
Each student will need a whiteboard or piece of paper and a marker. Flash the ten frame at the student(s). Students will then write how many dots are on the frame on their whiteboard. You can also flash a ten frame and students need to write the number that goes with the frame to make 10 like in the picture below. Share out answers.

Quick Write Pairs
Each student will need a whiteboard or piece of paper and a marker. Flash the ten frame at the student(s). Students will then write the combination of 10 the frame represents on their whiteboard. Share out answers.

Slap 10
This game is just like the game Slapjack. You may need 2-4 sets of ten frames depending on how many students are in your group. Two frames are flipped over. If together they make a full frame, the first student to slap the pair gets the cards. Play until the cards run out. The winner who has the most cards at the end of the deck wins.

Work Mats
Give each student a blank ten frame with chips. Tell students to create a number on their 10 frame. Then discuss how they made the number. Give students the freedom to create their number however they would like to discuss the various combinations.

Observe Frames
Study the various ten frames. You can also use red and blue ten frames found {HERE}. Ask students what they see, how many are on top and the bottom, as well as how many more to make 10. Be sure to expose students to pair-wise frames and five-wise frames.

Flash and Yell the Number
Flash the ten frame. Students yell back the number. Whoever yells the number first gets the card. The player with the most cards at the end wins. The students could also yell the number that goes with the frame to make 10!

Flash and Yell the Pair
Flash the ten frame. Students yell back the pair on the ten frame. Whoever yells the pair first gets the card. The player with the most cards at the end wins.

Math Games
There are a ton of math games with ten frames. Check out my products HERE and check out this search I did on Pinterest HERE. Tons of great ideas!

Shake and Spill
We often do a shake and spill version with equations, but it really helps giving kids concrete manipulatives to solidify their learning. Put 10 two-colored counters in a cup. Shake and spill. Then place the counters on a work mat. Discuss how many are red, yellow, and the combination to make 10.

Also, check out this great blog post I found that gives a great description of why we use 10 as a benchmark. How do you use ten frames in your classroom?

Classroom Inspirational Words

Monday, February 6, 2017
I entered a new classroom this year and I knew I had to spruce it up. I love bright colors and have a pretty ugly brick wall with little character. I knew I wanted to put something inspirational on that wall. Here is what I did!

It was SUPER easy! I typed one letter to a page on a PowerPoint slide. I printed the letters on the specific colored paper I wanted. Then I laminated the pages and cut them out! Make sure you have enough colored card stock or paper per the word you want.

A little tip: for the inside of the closed letters (o, p, r, etc.), I used a utility knife on a hard surface so the letters wouldn't be bent.

If you want these words for FREE, grab them HERE!

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