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Pumpkin Investigation



Fall is a wonderful season that lends so many possibilities to incorporate seasonal items into our classrooms. Fall is also pumpkin season and a pumpkin investigation is a great way for students to get hands-on and practicing science and math skills.

Effectively Building a Home-School Connection





One of the keys to a successful school year is to build that home-school connection. developing a good relationship with students and their families is a key to a great year.  The easiest way to build that connection? COMMUNICATE!


I’m going to share some of my favorite tips from my classroom to help you build that homeschool connection.

How to Have Your Best Open House




Why You Should Try a Student-Led Open House

Open House can be so stressful!  I can stand and talk to a roomful of students all day long, but a roomful of adults causes me MAJOR STRESS!  I wanted my Open House to reflect HOW I teach and how my students learn in my classroom, so I created a Student-Led Open House!  The results??  It was a HUGE hit!  The parents loved it, my students loved it, I had a better-than-usual turn-out, and my principal LOVED it too and sat in my room for a good part of the session.


To have a student-led Open House, you must train your students to teach their parents all about your class.  The students are in charge and you have the opportunity to casually join the family conversations.  A student-led open house is far more fun and enjoyable than having the teacher lecture from a presentation for 30 minutes!


Here are the details on how you can plan and hold your own successful student-led open house.

Meet the Teacher Day



Meet the Teacher Day

This summer just flew by and was shorter than usual.  It’s hard to believe that we’re gearing up for back

to school again!  I’ve been teaching for over 15 years so I have a bit of experience in prepping for the

first weeks of school.  I really enjoy setting up my classroom and getting things ready for my newest

group of students.



I have some tips for you on how to take some of the stress away and make your Meet the Teacher Day

a success.

In my school district, families and their children can come to find their new classroom and meet the teacher on the Friday before the first day of school. Families can come in at any time during that hour. (MOST families are lined up at the door EARLY eager to meet their new teacher!).

End of Year Memories of a GREAT School Year!





Winding down the school year is so bittersweet.  The school year has had its challenges and juggling all the teacher things is hard work (and we are all looking forward to summer break) but….your class has become a little “family” and it’s always hard to say goodbye.

Memories of a Great School Year

To end the school year on the BEST note, I have students reflect, collaborate, and write down all of the

memorable events, lessons, activities, and fun things our class did throughout the year. We

collaboratively put all of these amazing memories together to create a special digital class yearbook.


Read all about how I create a digital class yearbook with my students:

Step #1

Collect Memories and Photos

First, we begin brainstorming a list of memorable events from the school year and then I have students work together in groups to add to the list.  I gather all of the photos from the school year and create a folder my Google Drive and share the folder with my students.

How to Teach Shades of Meaning




Vocabulary matters. Knowing what words mean is one of the keys to reading comprehension and words are also HOW we communicate.  Understanding the meaning of words and actively learning new words helps students to become better communicators - in their reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Shades of Meaning
Understanding the subtle differences and nuances in similar words is a great way to expand a student’s vocabulary by connecting words they already know to words with similar, yet slightly different meanings.



Making Math Work Stations Work for YOU (and your students)!




Meeting with small groups for math instruction is so important for student success.  It can sound so easy to just give the rest of your class independent work to do while you are meeting with small groups but we all know this is much easier said than done.



THE PROBLEM

The problem is that students who are not engaged or are struggling with independent practice will either: 

  • Do nothing,
  • Interrupt you with your small group, or
  • (the worst) Find something more “fun” to do unrelated to math, like talk to their friends, go to the restroom, doodle/draw, or whatever it takes to avoid the task that needs to be done!

This is a huge PROBLEM. Students not engaged in independent practice are distracting their classmates and your important small group time.  Having practice work that you know they can either complete independently, with a partner or is engaging will allow you to focus on your small groups and the supports or enrichment you can provide there.


NO (or at least minimal) INTERRUPTIONS

Having engaging Math Stations are the key to having uninterrupted time to meet with your small groups.


The MOST important thing to limit interruptions is to have expectations and procedures in place. If students don't know what to do, they need to know where to find that information. If students have a question about what to do, they need to know that they can ask a classmate in their group. If they need to go to the restroom? Have a non-verbal signal. Need a bandage? Make sure students have access, and know where they are. Having procedures AND allowing students to have access to the little things that they might need (bandages, paper, pencils, erasers, water, etc.) will help minimize any interruptions while you are teaching your small groups.


THE SOLUTION

The solution is simpler than you think. You need to plan activities that you know that your students can complete without you (or at least with only peer support), that also have easy-to-understand directions, and are FUN. The most important thing though? Students need to KNOW what they are supposed to be doing!

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