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Teacher Hack for EASY Student Engagement



Student buy-in and engagement is the KEY to getting your students to practice what they need to practice.  Giving students a CHOICE in what they practice is the key to success!


The problem? Students either do sloppy work or won’t do their work at all. They are either just trying to get it done or avoiding the work altogether. 


Imagine if your students WANTED to do the work they needed to do to practice and be successful!





Giving students a CHOICE in how they choose to practice can make all the difference.  I use Choice Boards in my classroom for independent reading, spelling, and ELA. Using Choice Boards in my classroom has greatly impacted students practicing the skills they need to practice on their level. YOU can choose the word list, spelling list, or book selections for students OR you can let YOUR students choose the word list, spelling list, or books. Giving your students the choice will make practicing a whole lot more engaging and fun for all of your students. 

Test Prep SUCCESS

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Engaging students in review and test prep can be stressful for you and your students. You want your students to take the "big" tests seriously but at the same time don't want to put pressure on your students. Test prep and review can be tedious AND stressful but it doesn't have to be. I have some tips for you to make it fun and engaging.

Rewards

After every test we take, we review the questions either as a whole class or in small groups. No matter where or how we review the test, I offer rewards to students who try their best to see where mistakes were made and finding the right answers. 

image of mini animal erasers to use as "desk pet" rewards

One of our FAVORITE rewards is desk pets. Have you heard of desk pets? They are just mini erasers shaped like animals. My students can "adopt" a new pet if they are engaged and working hard during our review.  We love desk pets in our classroom and they are cheap and easy to find. Here is one of my favorite sets on Amazon  (affiliate link).  You can also offer classroom economy money, Class Dojo points, or whatever you may already use in your classroom.

5 Tips for Using STEM Challenges in Your Classroom



STEM Challenges are one of my favorite ways to engage my students. STEM challenges require the use of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills in a way that replicates real-world challenges and how teams really work together to solve a problem. A STEM challenge is also a way for students to be creative and hands-on and may help students who seemingly struggle academically, to show off their creative, innovative design and building skills. A well-designed STEM challenge can teach students so much more than just academic standards.



  1. OBJECTIVE. What is your objective?  STEM challenge activities can be planned around a theme or a standard. Either way, a STEM challenge is targeting engineering, design, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills.   A theme could be a season, a holiday (Halloween, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.), even a book.  A STEM challenge can also be planned around a standard in any subject like social studies, music, art, and of course, science. For St. Patrick's Day, you could have students build a Leprechaun Trap. To integrate with other subjects or seasons you could have students design a house for the 3 Little Pigs, float for the Thanksgiving Day parade, or a catapult for launching pumpkins in the fall.

Start the New Year Off Right in Your Classroom!

Image of an iPad, pencil, and paper with text that reads 5 Simple Tips for a Great New Year




Happy New Year!  I always like to start the new year with renewed energy and a positive outlook.  I am excited to get back into the classroom with my sweet students - I've missed them!  The school year is nearly half-way over (already??!) and I want to continue pushing my students to learn and grow to be their best!  I want to maintain a positive and safe classroom environment - the new year is a perfect time for a review of procedures and to introduce some new ideas!

Here are 5 things I plan to do to start the year off right:

1. It's the First School Day of the New Year!  You've been on break for a bit now, right?  So guess what? Your students (and YOU) are a bit out of the school routine.  While it's not actually the first day of school, try incorporating some fun activities to review procedures and expectations.  At the beginning of the year, I show a meme slideshow to go over procedures in my classroom.  My students love it! And the best part?  They remember the procedures! Search the internet for a couple of silly memes that will help you review your procedures.

Celebrate Christmas with a FUN Math Project!

The week before winter break is always an exciting time in the classroom and it can be a challenge to keep students on task and learning!  Students seem even more energetic than usual and less focused on learning.  I'm always looking for fun and meaningful ways to integrate the holidays into my classroom to keep my students focused on academics.   My 12 Days of Christmas Math Project is challenging, yet fun, and allows students to practice problem-solving skills by calculating the cost of the 12 Days of Christmas and now includes a DIGITAL version in Google Slides for distance learning.



Give Thanks: Gratitude Activities for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is always a great time to reflect on how much we have to be thankful for!  In my classroom, I like to work on writing activities the week before the holiday to think about the people in our lives and meaningful ways to show our gratitude.




I've created an "I Am Thankful" poem template for students to share their gratitude and I love how simple and beautiful the poems turn out!  Students just need to come up with something or someone they are thankful for and write their ideas around that topic.  The most popular topic is FAMILY.  I model an example for them using my family to help them get started.

How to Use Book Talks



I love to read and I love helping to teach children a love of reading. I've found that just putting a good book in a student's hands is not always enough for all kids.  Some kids need a little more encouragement to pick up a good book and book talks are a great way to help kids find a book they will love to read!

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