I recently read a Facebook post from another teacher. Her question was, "Should the first day of school include fun  activities  or would that set the wrong tone for the year?" I read though many of the comments. One teacher said, "No because you need to show your students that you mean business." My jaw dropped and my heart broke. I don't know about you, but I am in the business of loving kids so much that they want to learn from me.  Now let me start by saying that I am not writing this blog post to upset anyone. Being a teacher is a tough job and I don't have all the answers. No one does. Do what feels right in your heart. I wrote this blog post because the question kept repeating itself over and over in my head this week. I knew I wouldn't feel better unless I shared my thoughts.  I am a firm teacher and I spend a considerable amount of time teaching routines and expectations. But being firm and being fun are not mutually exclusive! Yo...
Are you struggling to find time to teach meaningful vocabulary lessons?  I was! So I did lots of reading and research about vocabulary. I made it a professional goal to improve the quality of my vocabulary instruction. I tried a lot of different things. I gave my students a dictionary and had them look up the words. They were totally confused by the fact that most words had half a dozen definitions and often used a form of the word in the definition. I made PowerPoint presentations to introduce the meanings of the words. My students were not actively engaged or listening. I was doing all of the work! After lots of trial and error, I finally have a routine that my students enjoy and I am happy with the growth they are making in their word study. I did a video on Facebook about my weekly vocabulary routines. You can watch the replay. You can also read about these routines by clicking on the photo below. If you are interested in the materials that I use w...
I hate to be the messenger of bad news- but for some of us- back to school is right around the corner! In fact, my kids already started! The first week of the school year is so important. It is the time when you set the tone for the rest of the year. It is the time when the class starts to become a community. It is a time for learning rules and expectations and for having fun with new friends. Planning for the first week can be tough because routines have not been taught and often curriculum is not being implemented. We need quite a few activities and we need them to be fun and innovative but easy to prep! Here are some of my very favorite ideas for that first week back to school. Trust me! Play Doh is not just for little kids! When my students enter the room on the first day of school, they will find a container of Play Doh on their desk.  The directions are simple- Make anything that makes you happy. This activity is awesome for several reasons. First, the stud...
I have said this a million times, but I feel the need to say it again- Interactive notebooks rock!!!! My students love them because they feel like a craft to them and I love them because my students are working hard on important standards and skills.  But if not done properly, interactive notebooks can take up way too much of our instructional time. I went live last week with 4 of my best tips for saving time with all that cutting and glueing in  interactive notebooks. If you didn't catch the live recording, you can watch this replay. If you have more questions about interactive notebooks, you might want to check out this blog post. If you are ready to start using interactive notebooks in your classroom, you might want to check out these products. ...
So this post is only for third grade teachers. Sorry, if you don't teach third grade, you have to scroll down. Top secret stuff coming..... Ok, so now that it is just us crazy third grade teachers, I have to share this amazing back to school activity with you. I love it!  So this activity is actually done on the 3rd day of 3rd grade. It is a way to celebrate being 3 days smarter! The theme of the task card set is the number 3.  There are a few reasons that I LOVE this activity. First, half of the cards ask students questions about themselves. I am able to walk around the room and see the students' responses. It helps me to learn little details about my new friends and start conversations with them. It is a fun time for the teacher to make connections. Another reason that I love this activity is because every other task card asks students an academic question that they probably learned in 2nd grade. I am able to observe as they answer the...
So I put my big girl panties on and faced my fear of doing a live video! Did I just use the word "panties" on my blog?! I'm getting all kinds of brave now!!! Anyway, I went live on Facebook earlier this week to share how I use brag tags in the classroom. Here is the replay if you missed seeing it live. The most common question that I get asked is "Where do you get the necklaces?" You can get them from most craft stores. Amazon also has them and if you went in with another teacher friend, it's a GREAT deal! Click on the picture below to be taken to my Amazon affiliate link. If you still have questions about brag tags, you might want to check out these blog posts. Are you ready to try brag tags in your classroom? Check out the tags that I have available in my store. ...
Can you believe that teachers in my district start back to school next week?! Crazy! If you are also headed back to school soon, you are going to want to start thinking about fun back to school activities! If you just started your summer break, pin this post and get back in the pool! Save Fred: My third graders had such a fun time with this simple activity. It got them talking with one another and working as a team from day one. You will need plastic cups, 4 paper clips per group, gummy worms and gummy lifesavers. Fred, the worm, was riding in his boat, the cup, when it tipped over. Fred is on top of the boat and he doesn't know how to swim. Lucky for him, he brought a life preserver, the lifesaver. The problem? The life preserver is stuck under the boat. Students will work in groups to plan a way to get Fred inside the life preserver. They cannot touch the worm, the boat or the life preserver with their fingers. The only tools they can use to help are the...