Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Year's Resolutions for Teachers

3 Quick Steps to Becoming a Reflective Teacher

     Do you make New Year's resolutions? It seems that this is one of those things that sounds like a great idea - in theory, but in reality - it doesn't seem to work out well for most people. Me included. But, it does work for classroom teachers. Because the reality is - if you are to become a reflective teacher - which you must - you have to resolve yourself to the fact that you can always improve your practice.

     One of the things that I love about being a teacher is the fresh start you get each year with a new class, sometimes a new grade level, or even a new classroom. Oh, the possibilities! Everyone gets a chance to be better - whether it's content knowledge, classroom management, organization, professional development, or time management.

     Here's the beautiful part about this profession....we also get do-overs after the winter break! Maybe your school year didn't start out well, or being a new teacher (or veteran) was totally overwhelming and this is the first mental break you have had - guess what?  You can reset, re-do, or just improve in any area. It can be little improvements or big ones. Here's a few tips on how you can go back with a fresher outlook and a plan to improve in 2018!


     Now that you have a had some time off, it's easier to reflect on your school year so far. What is going well?  What is definitely NOT going well? Is the student behavior in your classroom structured in a way that encourages learning? Does your data reflect growth with your students? How is your relationship with parents? Is there something that has been bothering you about your class, but you weren't sure what it was?

     Think through some of these questions and pick ONE area you would like to improve.


     Once you have chosen the area you want to improve, think about what exactly needs to be changed. What result do you want? How will you know if it has improved? How much do you need to change in order for that result?

     Keep it as simple as you can. Sometimes one little change can make a big difference.


     Commit to making this one change. Plan it out and be consistent. Give it time to develop before you assess whether it improved the situation.

     Once you decide you want to make a change - you will look forward to going back and tackling this challenging, stressful, and fulfilling profession once again! There is nothing like a fresh start to motivate and inspire us! Not only that - you will have taken the first step in becoming a reflective teacher. That alone will get you on the right path in your teaching career! Good luck and Happy New Year 2018!


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How to Wake Up Summer Math Brains - BTS Math Review for Rising 3rd Graders

     Multiplication, division, rounding, fractions – oh my! Third grade math is HARD! There are so many new concepts that 3rd graders are introduced to in the first few months of third grade. It’s kind of mind boggling, but also daunting for kids.  Especially if they are coming off of summer and have done absolutely NOTHING academic. Summer learning loss is real for many of our students.  How can you get them revved back up so that they are ready to learn new math concepts? 

     Take time to review. Give them a chance to be successful doing something they already know or have mastered in 2nd grade. Many of our students were A students in 2nd grade, but will struggle in 3rd grade because its much harder in all respects. Beginning the school year reviewing key math concepts from 2nd grade will build confidence, but most importantly prepare them for the math concepts you need to start teaching pretty quickly.

     I have found that the first and second week of school is the perfect time to review 2nd grade math skills as you are teaching procedures and doing class building activities. It provides opportunities to pair students up, teach procedures on how to use manipulatives, practice Kagan cooperative learning structures, as well as give overwhelmed students some much needed independent time.  It’s also a good time to pre-assess students on key math concepts so that you can appropriately plan for the next few weeks of math.

     Here are a few ways I use my Back to School Math Review worksheets in the first week of school:

     This worksheet is a great icebreaker for partners. Give them a pair of dice, some crayons or markers, and let them practice addition facts and work together. It’s really fun to let them race to the finish. Competition is fun!

     I love this one for a group project. Give each student a page and let them find as many different ways to spend $1.00. Afterwards, have groups share their combinations.

     Place value is such an important skill to master! Before giving these to students, do a mini lesson to refresh their memories. Then let them complete these independently.  You can use them for formative assessments. It will give you valuable insight as to who needs more work immediately and who is ready for more challenging work.

This measurement activity is a great time to teach students how to handle rulers in the classroom – do not use them as a weapon, etc. – as well as checking to see if they remember how to use a ruler appropriately. Let them move around the classroom measuring objects as a warm up. Then give them this worksheet to measure these six school supplies. Afterwards, they can color them for fun!

Using this Geometry worksheet is another great opportunity to review and teach procedures at the same time. Give teams pattern blocks and have them describe the attributes of each. Then challenge them to complete the worksheet. This is another really quick formative assessment you can use.

As much time as K-2 teachers and students spend on addition and subtraction, you would think rising third graders would have it mastered – but many don’t. In fact, I have found that many rising third graders are struggling with both addition and subtraction. Which is why I have included 4 worksheets to help students practice 2 and 3 digit addition and subtraction with and without regrouping. I love putting these practice sheets in my Number Sense math center. Make sure you have counting manipulatives available and encourage them to use them.

Addition without regrouping
Some students will need to begin with this practice worksheet
before tackling regrouping.

Addition with re-grouping
This practice sheet will give students more challenging
 basic addition and word problems.

Subtraction with regrouping
This will be challenging for many students, so a mini-lesson will be
 necessary before students can tackle it on their own.

If you need math resources to help your students review math for the first weeks of school, my Back to School Math Review is available in my TPT store. There are 10 Math Review Worksheets that are PRINT & GO  which will save you time and give your brand new third graders a much needed review!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

#Sweet as a Pineapple Gift Card Giveaway

I think most teachers would agree that July-August-September is a major drain on our wallets! Classroom decor is high on our list of must haves, not to mention the needs of our own children as they head back to school. Waiting all month for a paycheck during these months is HARD!

With that in mind, some pretty "sweet" TPT sellers and I are giving away THREE $100 gift cards to try and help you survive this major wallet drain. The giveaway is only open for July 23 - 25th, so don't put off entering. You don't want to miss this opportunity!

Just enter here - GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 21, 2017

How to Make a Great First Impression

“You only get one chance to make a first impression.”

     What teacher doesn’t want to make a great impression with parents right away? It makes the entire school year go smoother when they have a positive impression of you. But what impresses parents? Looks? Personality? The Classroom? It’s hard to impress all parents because let’s face it – each of us has our own idea of what makes a great teacher. But one thing that is universal, is having your act together or having the appearance of having your act together! I know when I met my daughter’s teachers, I wanted to feel that they knew what they were doing and being prepared and professional made a huge difference. So, how can you make a great first impression?

     Most schools have a Back to School night or Open House for parents sometime at the start of the school year. My school always held this in September, because we wanted parents to know quickly what the expectations were and what our classroom rules/procedures were. Prepared parents are helpful parents - right? Having an impressive and professional power point presentation is the first way to impress parents. Giving them the information you need to get across and the information they want and need is important.

     Before you begin, decide on what you want to tell parents about and gather your resources together.  I like to tell parents what our daily schedule will look like, what time lunch is and what they should do if they want to join their student, my classroom management plan, the school’s discipline or incentive plan, report card information, transportation, conferences, field trips, etc. As a third grade teacher, I liked to focus on academics, so I would give an overview of what they would learn in 3rd grade in each subject area.  If you are new to your grade level, use the Common Core standards to help you with this. Click here for the Common Core Standards.


Whether you start from scratch or purchase a ready to go power point, you need to have a cohesive and professional looking slide presentation. 

If  you want to create your own in power point, all you need to do is pick a design. Open a new power point presentation, click on DESIGN:

Choose one of the pre-made designs:

Power Point gives you the option to choose a layout for your pages. This one is for content and titles and works really well for Back to School presentations. Once you choose your design, just follow the on screen instructions to add text or pictures. (Possible topics to cover is listed below)

If you want a ready to go power point, I have three available in my store depending on your design preference:

If you purchase one of these, you can choose what slides you want to include in your presentation and/or you can create one of your own with the 3 blank slides included. Some Back to School night topics you might consider:

 How to add text boxes, information, and photos to your slides.

If you are using my ready to go power point slides, adding text is SUPER easy using text boxes.

Go to the slide you want to add information to and click insert.

Click on text box, then go to the slide and draw a box.

Now, just type in the information:

If you want to add photos - just click on insert and instead of a text box, click on photos.

Once you have all of the information inserted into your slides - CHECK for SPELLING & GRAMMAR!!! Making a great impression means no typos!!

***Helpful Hint: If this is your first time making a Back to School power point - SAVE IT in a safe place. Next year, just update it and you are ready to go!\

If you want to save TIME and use one of my Back to School Night/Open House Power Points, click here to go directly to my TPT store. 

If you spend the time NOW to create a professional informative presentation for parents, you will reap the rewards of a better parent teacher relationship throughout the school year! Make a great first impression!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

End of Year Goal Celebration!

How I Celebrate Goal Achievement in my Classroom

     I love setting goals with my students. It is such a wonderful way to teach growth mindset in our young learners. At the beginning of the school year, we set goals for reading, math, and writing.  In third grade, those goals are usually centered on comprehension measurements such as weekly reading assessments. In math, fact fluency in multiplication and division are the focus. Finally, in writing we look for specific areas for growth such as topic sentences, complete paragraphs, capitalization and punctuation. Each week, I have my students update their goal graphs and discuss our progress and/or plan strategies to improve our performance in these key areas. If you are interested in a complete goal setting resource for your classroom, I have just the one for you available in my TpT store. Just click here to see more about it.

      Although we do celebrate our successes during the school year, I love to give my students the opportunity to reflect and create a keepsake of their school year that celebrates whatever growth they have experienced. That's why this End of Year Goal Celebration Interactive Lapbook is so great. It gives students choices about what they want to celebrate AND a creative and fun activity to work on in the last weeks/days of the school year.

     I created this classroom resource so that each teacher could make choices about whether they copy the pages in black and white OR in color for their students. All you need to add is a manila folder, scissors, and markers/crayons/pencils to fill in the key goals reached. Of course, your students will want to decorate the folder just a little bit to truly personalize it!

Your students can choose to show off their highest
 reading score from any assessment they like!
Fact fluency for addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division
 AND sharing HOW they achieved this important goal.
The writing element gives you and students choices about
what to celebrate - perfect for multiple grade levels!

Four more elements that can be added to the Lapbook.

     Parents will be so thrilled to see this memorable keepsake from their child's school year and your students will be excited to show off their accomplishments!

This completed lapbook is done with color paper and the
 black and white copies in this resource. 

This is one possible layout of the inside of the lapbook.
You and your students can choose to do it any way you want!

Cover of a lapbook using the color pages. There is a space for
 students to put their names too.

Isn't this a cute and fun way to celebrate goals? If you would like to share this activity with your students and their parents, click here to see more!