Teacher Tips

Tips and ideas for teachers, new or veterans!

5 Tips To Help Discuss (And Dismantle) Racism In The Classroom - "Racism isn't something that was created by people of color. It isn't something that is perpetuated by people of color. It isn't something that people of color benefit from. "
Happy 2017! Here Is A List Of The Best Books For Children - New Year means new books! Here's the list from NTCE, recognizing the best books for children in 2017!
Tackling Our Students’ Mental Health Through Literature - I can't say that it's the same for every classroom, every teacher, and every group of students. But what I can (and will) say, is that it's always better to face an issue, to discuss it, to have your classroom be an open forum, rather than avoid mental illness conversation altogether.
If You Need Some Organization Help For Parent-Teacher Conferences, Look No Further - So you're stressed about conferences. (Don't worry, this is normal.) And there's a solution! Best part? It will take you less than five minutes.
Take A Seat, Make A Friend (A Simple Reminder To Invest In Others) - During the anti-bullying week at the middle school, we showed the students a video where random strangers interacted with one another in a street-side ball pit. Here they learned the value, and meaning, of investing in others.
Share This Cute Puppy Video With Your Students (And Make A Difference!) - The video shares the truth--cute puppies fight boredom and put smiles on our faces! So why not show this 3 minute segment to your class? The best part: for every view, Purina will donate one pound of Puppy Chow Natural, and up to 500,000 pounds of dog food, to help feed pups across the country!
20 Things We Need To Say More Often - I stumbled across this adorable video the other night. It's by a young boy who (in an adorable voice) lists 20 things we all need to say more often, from serious to funny, and all super important.
New Year, New Sale! - It's a new year, new you. Right? 🙂 As teachers we are always changing, growing, and working to make our classrooms stronger. That's why I'm excited to announce my 20% sale on my Teachers Pay Teachers site, joining with other teachers to make teaching affordable and always improving.
What is Blendspace? - Blendspace is a way to create interactive lessons that sync documents, Power Points, videos, pictures, and other materials in one succinct, easily managed, and organized space. Lessons are accessible by computer and allow students to use technology to learn independently!
Learning How My Learners Learn - I stumbled across this video a few weeks ago, Dear Teacher: Heartfelt Advice for Teachers from Students. In this video, adorable young students with learning disabilities talk about their struggles in the classroom. It's so short and so simple, but so impacting.
You Are the Teacher for the Day - I love switching up the way I teach lessons. Last night, I had this great idea of changing how I teach the vignettes in House on Mango Street. What if I made my students and I switch roles? What if they were the teachers for the day? What would they teach me about the given vignettes?
A Complete 6-Week Unit for House on Mango Street - Am I joking? No. This is not a joke! Here is a 6-week plan for House on Mango Street that you can easily view and download here: Complete 6 Week House on Mango Street Unit.
What the Heck is Smore? - One of my students showed this website to me: Smore. This is a place where students, teachers, anyone can easily create an awesome-looking newsletter. FOR FREE!
Engage Students in Reading with Contemporary Music! - Looking for a way to engage your students in reading? Want to do something fun, easy, and relevant? Then use contemporary music!
Class Dojo - Have you heard of Class Dojo? This is an awesome way for teachers and parents to stay connected and stay updated on student behavior.
Poster My Wall - Looking for a great way to have your students use technology and create awesome posters/collages/calendars/cards via online templates? Then Poster My Wall is the resource for you and your classroom!
Dear Sixth Grade Self - As my eighth graders discussed the theme of growing up in the novel House on Mango Street, I had them connect the idea to their own lives---How had they grown up? Especially in the transition from sixth to eighth grade?
Figurative Language Challenge - What's better to middle and high school students than a game/competition/individual challenge? (The answer is nothing). That's why I wanted to create an extension activity and figurative language activity that would engage my eighth graders and let them have a little fun.
Connecting to Novel Characters - Making connections while reading is hard! That's why I created this resource to help not only my struggling readers in Book Club, but for for any struggling reader or young reader (fifth grade through eighth grade).
“Piano Lessons” – Close Reading & Question Set - Ahhh...close reading passages, a necessary evil. Students aren't big fans of close reading, but these mini-readings are important for their skill building, especially if there is a set of questions that are relevant to the skills they are practicing.
Awesome Reading Resources for the Classroom! - As an English/Reading teacher, I love love love finding awesome websites for students to play around with when they're done working on a class assignment, when there's a few minutes left of the period, or when they are looking for something fun and relevant to their age to read! Here are a list of a few websites that you just have to check out and point your students towa
What My Transgender High School Student Taught Me About Being True to Yourself - “She—he—goes by Elvin,” my coworker whispers. I look at the student fumbling with the cart of computers in the front of the room. She—he—formerly Cadence, then Cade, and now Elvin, is a thick bodied sophomore with glasses, an ‘I love pizza’ shirt, and short, spiky blue hair.
Teaching Figurative Language! - Figurative language is so complicated, yet so much fun! I created this AMAZING (okay, I might be bragging just a little, but I'm super excited!) resource to teach students. It is a scaffolded set of notes that include examples, pictures, and even song clips for learning figurative language in more ways than one!
Sentences Competition - Today my sixth graders were finishing up the editing process for their personal narratives. They were all at different places--just starting, halfway through, almost done--so I decided to create some fun, Halloween-related extension activities for those who were finished.
Poverty Training - Today our Professional Development was held in the high school auditorium, bringing both middle and high school together for a presentation and mini-training on poverty.
CRAP Test - My eighth graders are working on a perseverance project to tie into Hunger Games. To connect main character Katniss' life with other lives, the students are researching a person in their field of interest and finding evidence as to how that individual persevered through difficult times and challenges. To do this, they need to use the internet---thus the CRAP Test--finding reliable sources.
ClassTools.Net – An Excellent Teacher Resource - Just last week, my co-teacher introduced me to ClassTools.Net, an excellent resource for teachers! This website has interactive diagrams, models, games, and activities for all ages!
The Whats and Whys of Standards-Based Grading - The goal is to remove traditional grades from the education system and have the focus be on learning. Are students learning new skills? Are they proficient in those skills?
Launching My Teachers Pay Teachers Site! - To all my loyal followers, fellow teachers, and avid readers, I'd like to announce the launching of my official Teachers Pay Teachers Site!
A Lesson in Movement – How Classroom Mobility Changes and Assists Student Learning - I was curious about the idea that movement allows for a more productive and engaged community of learners, so I decided to try the idea out with my tenth grade Honors English students. This is what I discovered.
Notes on My Students - As my first placement comes to a close, there's one thing I wanted to make sure to do before leaving: create a student note sheet for my cooperating teacher so that she knows a little about each student going back into full-time teaching.
Parents Say the Darndest Things, Too! [ An Unexpected Conference] - Conferences are supposed to be this warm and fuzzy time where you talk to parents about their students, celebrate their successes, discuss areas for growth, and go over the activities and progress made since the first day of school...right? Well, in an ideal world.
Peer Reading - Okay, I thought. We'll see how this goes. I stood at the front of the class. "Today we're going to finish the book. I'd like you to find a partner of your choice and read this final section, 'Afterward' aloud."
Seeing Through My Students’ Eyes - In my sophomore Honors English class, I assigned a pop quiz over chapters 3 and 4 in To Kill a Mockingbird. As I went to grade the quizzes, I saw that one of my students didn't hand in a quiz--and she was in class! I chalked it up to the fact that she probably hadn't read, and when I saw her next, I told her I didn't get a quiz from her. "I couldn't see the board," she said simply.
Peer Editing - Peer editing is a wonderful tool...if done effectively. When students read one another's work, they are able to see and fix errors in their peer's papers, as well as translate those changes to their own papers. They also are able to take a critical eye and put themselves in a teacher's seat for a moment, hopefully looking at their work from a flipped perspective.
My Grading/Planning System - Being a teacher can be difficult at times. There's typically 2084305 thoughts going on in your head at once--sometimes it's near impossible to keep it all straight!
Student-Teacher Collaboration – Hooray for Google Docs! - This year is my first time time using Google Docs/Google Classroom, and I have to say I'm very impressed!
504’s and IEP’s — What Are Those? - Have you seen the latest internet trend, 'What Are Those?' It started with a silly vine of someone making a comment on someone else's shoes. Now it's viral on the internet! A silly internet trend, yes. But I have to say, when I first got an email about my students in 504 Plans, that exact question, in that exact inflection, ran through my head: 504 Plans? What are thoseeeee?
Task List/Work Day - What's the solution to disruptive, easily-distracted students while not taking anything away from productive, doing-what-they're-supposed-to students? For me, and for my English 10 classes, the solution was a Task List/Work Day.
Tuesdays With Morrie – Online Text - Let's face it. Students aren't always going to follow directions and bring their books to class, despite our best efforts to remind them. It's the sad reality about being a teacher.
Varying Assessment – Google Classroom Assignments - Assessing students is not something that should be the same every time. Assessment is varied and in my classroom I understand and use formative, assumptive, ethical, and multiple assessment methods.
Pre-Planning the Tuesdays with Morrie Unit - This is what I call the Novel-in-a-Notebook, a way to pre-plan for your lessons by having all of the pages of your text copied into your notebook for easy access, reference, and smart note-taking.
Quick Tip – Jeopardy Game - I just made a post about a jeopardy game I created today for my students: Easy-Peasy Jeopardy Game. I wanted to go further though, and explain why and how teachers should make games for students!
A Great Vocabulary (and Reading) Resource! - As I've been preparing for student teaching (which starts at the end of this week, yay!) I've been looking into several teaching resources and reading a lot of teacher websites and blogs. Something I came across a few months ago is ReadWorks, an awesome company with a website that features boatloads of vocabulary words, short reading passages, assessments, lessons, and standards. It is seriously such a great resource!
A Little Something to Show You Care - On the last day of Kindergarten with my Lake Mills Elementary kids (a summer part-time teaching job I picked up to get out of my comfort zone), I decided to put together a collection of pictures me and my other two co-teachers had taken over the course of three weeks. I wanted the kids to remember some of the fun we had, I wanted parents to know the different activities we did and why, and I wanted the kids to see themselves and feel important!
Five Clever Ideas to Spark Independent Reading by Kids - I’ve always been a reader, so reading days were fun for me. I could never understand why some kids just weren’t having it. But now that I’ve entered the teaching world, I understand that every child learns differently and is interested in different things. Reading might not be someone’s strong-suit. That makes finding ways to make reading fun even more relevant.
Google Classroom – What? How? Why? - If you are looking for a super easy way to update your students, organize your classes, and keep students and parents in the know about homework, assignments, questions, and upcoming tests, Google Classroom is a must-have!
Simple Math Game for the Little Guys - So on Thursday while working with my Lake Mills Kindergartners at the summer school, I learned a super easy game called "Top It" (or in other words, the little-kid version of the card game War).
Dealing with the ‘D’ Word - Back in mid-May, I visited Four Oaks in Mason City, Iowa, which is a live-in treatment facility for struggling youth. As stated on their website, Four Oaks provides: “prevention, intervention and treatment programs and services…Some [children] have been in trouble with the law, got into drugs or ran away from home; that’s when we work with […]
And We’re Off! The Start of Summer Reading Tutoring - This summer I'm working with a seventh-grade girl on her reading, comprehension, literacy, and spelling. One of the first things I noticed about her was her energy! She was excited to be there with me, and I could tell she loved reading, she was just struggling.
A Lesson in Culture – Visiting Heritage Academy - For the second and final week of my Multicultural Practicum class on diversity in education, me and a classmate were placed in Heritage Academy of Science and Technology in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A 100% Somali school, this was something completely different than the public school systems I've grown up with and taught in. I didn't know what to expect.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone – Serving at a Community Kitchen! - As a part of my two week summer class, Multicultural Practicum, me and my fellow students went to the North Iowa Community Kitchen to help serve. We did this as a way to connect to the local community, and to see how the community can play a huge role in the schools.
A Class Divided - As a part of my two-week Multicultural Practicum, a class focused on diversity in education, we watched A Class Divided, an episode of Frontline based on the Iowa schoolteacher Jane Elliott and her third grade classroom.
Appointment Clocks - Here’s a little something I came across in one of my earlier clinical placements:
Breaking Down Assessment - Something I’ve learned in my Assessment/Goal-Setting class is how to create assessments that are valid, meaning that they have:
Atheism in the Classroom - The object of this presentation is to discuss the major beliefs and ideas that surround Atheism—whether the belief in the human mind and self-reliance, or the belief in science. The presentation reflects two major ideas: Atheism as a belief system or Atheism as the absence of faith in a higher power. 
Adapting for Cultural Minorities - I know that to be an effective teacher I must have cultural awareness, be positive in regards to cultural diversity, and use appropriate instructional tools. I also know that to have a comfortable and safe classroom environment, I must encourage tolerance within my students.
Social Contract - As a future English teacher, my job is to make sure my classroom is safe, fun, orderly, and effective. One of the most basic ways I can do this is through a Social Contract.
Accommodating for Diverse Learners - Early in my college career I learned the importance of accommodating for different types of students: minorities, low-achieving, mentally-handicapped students, students with learning disabilities, students with behavior problems, gifted/talented students, etc.
Lesson Plan Template - One of my very first education classes at Waldorf emphasized lesson plans–a huge component of not only my college career, but my professional teaching career as well.