Tuesday, May 19, 2020

5 Tips for New Teachers!

This past school year I was asked to be a part of our school's mentoring team. It was the first year they had actual teachers mentoring our first-year teachers! Crazy, right?! I think they've made a move in the right direction ;) 

 I was asked to speak at a Summer Symposium for all of the new hires in our school's complex. I was asked to share some tips with them in opening up the school year and to answer any questions the teachers had. 

So today I would like to share with you the 5 tips I have for any new/beginning teachers. 

In order to have a successful school year, it is so important to establish routines and procedures for EVERYTHING. Know exactly what and how you want things done. 

Be sure to clearly communicate these expectations to your students so they know exactly what you expect! 

Creating posters with your students and modeling these expectations are extremely helpful. Examples of what it should and should NOT look like help your students to know exactly what you mean.

For me, I like to type out all of the things that might happen on a daily basis and make sure there are clear expectations for how things happen. I also include this in my substitute binder, so that subs know what is expected at all times. 
This is an example of some of my expectations.

You can access a copy of the template I use and see the things that I create procedures/routines for here.

It is important to remain consistent throughout the year! Be consistent in your expectations of behavior, routines, procedures, and consequences. Consistency is key when it comes to classroom management! 

If you don't follow through with what you say you'll do, your students will not follow through on what they are expected to do. 

 Always have a plan for how your day will go! Know what you need to teach and have the materials prepared for your day's lesson.
Students can pick up on when a teacher is
unprepared, and they will take full advantage of it! 

With this, also learn to be flexible! Things will
always come up throughout the day or a lesson may not go as planned….and it’s okay!!

 Reflection is an important key in order to help
yourself to become a better teacher! Some
great questions to ask yourself are:
  • What went well during my lesson?
  • What could I have done to make it better?
  • What did the students have a difficult time with?
  • How could I improve? 
  • What will I do differently the next time?
Reflection at the ending of the school year is also important. 
Think about your year and choose one area that you feel you would like to really work on and improve in the upcoming school year. Find some professional development books, do some research online, and read blogs about that topic! 

Last, but above all, develop positive relationships with your students!

I will leave you with this video about the importance of relationships. 

Like Ms. Rita Pierson said in the video, "Kids don't learn from people they don't like". This could not be any more true!

I hope this post was able to help you prepare for your first year. 
Go out there and be a Champion for YOUR students. 

Give yourself grace. Don't feel that you need to do All the things you see on social media. Focus on these 5 tips and you WILL have a great year.

I'd love to connect with you via Instagram or Facebook. Be sure to stop by and say hello!

Good Luck, Keep Your Head Up and HAVE FUN! 

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on July 19, 2015, and has been updated with additional information and resources. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Say Goodbye to Complicated Class Lists

Are you and your teammates tired of spending hours putting together your class lists? Are you looking for a quick, easy, and efficient way to sort your students and make next year's lists as equitable as possible? 

I remember dreading class list time. We used to get index cards for each of our students and had to color code and make little notes on each card based on academic rankings, 504/IEP plans, EL services, etc. We would physically sort them out into different groups and move them around a thousand times. We would have to separate the students who had the same first name, students who didn't get along, etc. It took FOREVER and we often overlooked things. Then, we would have to alphabetize all the cards, and then type up class lists to submit to administration. 
Thank goodness for technology, more specifically, Class Composer. Class Composer is an online program that will automatically sort your students based off of all the data YOU input for each kid. Once the initial lists are created, you can drag and drop students with similar "ratings" to balance out lists even more based on specific identifiers. 
What's even better is that if your entire school uses the program, the information you input on each kid will stay in the system from year to year. Those kids who can't be together in the same class will no longer get overlooked! Also, when your new lists get assigned to you, you can view it through Class Composer along with all the data and notes from the previous year's teacher. 
Here is a video to learn a little more about this amazing program. 
For more information, head here to check out their Frequently Asked Questions. 
Our school has been using this online program for the past 4 years. It has been SO EASY to use and the company offers fantastic customer service. When I called, I actually got to speak to one of the founders himself, so all of my questions were answered with ease. 
This post is not sponsored by Class Composer, but I am a HUGE fan. You can try out a free trial for your grade level by heading here
I'd love to know your thoughts if you and your team decide to try it out. 


Monday, May 4, 2020

End of Year Brochures: Tips for Your Future Students

Want to provide your students with something meaningful to do during the last week of school?
 Look no more, I have the perfect thing for you and your students! 

These End of the Year Brochures from your current students will provide your future students with great advice! 
At the ending of every school year, I sit down with my kiddos and we talk about all the things they've learned this year. We discuss what 'a piece of advice' is and what helpful tips are. They are then tasked with coming up with any information they feel is important for incoming 2nd graders to know based on what they've learned about our classroom and/or the 3rd grade. 
Once the kids are done, I collect the brochures and hold on to them over the summer. At the 
start of every school year, our school holds a Meet and Greet event where students can meet the teacher and drop off all of their school supplies. 
When kids come in, I let them choose a brochure. I share with them that it's a gift from my last year's student and recommend they read it for some helpful information. 
My former students always got a kick out of it that they designed a brochure. They will often come back to visit to find out who got their brochure :) 
Never before have I ever imagined we would be in the situation we are in now. Many states have been out of school since March due to the Corona Virus and many will not be returning for the rest of the year. Teachers have had to figure out 'distance learning' overnight, and they all continue to show up top-notch for their students every day. 
In an effort to help teachers out during this time as well as maintain a sense of normalcy, I have also made these End of Year Tip Brochures available digitally. I think that regardless of the situation, it will be nice for teachers to have this to pass on to their next year's kiddos. 
I've had to get creative with this one but I actually LOVE the way they've turned out. Students will create digital slides with their tips instead of the typical tri-fold brochure. You will then provide a link to student slideshows with a QR code and attach them to the student bookmarks. At the start of next year, you will hand these super cute bookmarks out to your NEW kiddos welcoming them to your class/grade. 
The Digital End of Year Tips come with already made templates in Google Slides. All your students need to do is add in the text and whatever pictures they would like :) 
There are 3 different color options available for you or your students to choose from. 
  1. I recommend assigning these to students through Google Classroom as it will be the easiest to give each student their own copy. 
  2. Instruct students to get creative! They can use fun fonts, colors, and add in photos.
  3. When they are done, select 'Publish to the Web' and check off the box that says "start slideshow as soon as the player loads". You will want to change the amount of time between each slide transition. 
  4. Grab the link and enter it into a QR Code Generator. Save the QR code under the student's name.
  5. Insert the QR code to the back of the student bookmarks.

Follow me on Instagram @TeachinginParadise for more ideas :) I'm much better about posting there than here! lol 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A Tutorial on Adding a Voice Recording to Your QR Codes

Each summer when I got my class list I would begin to handwrite a postcard for every single one of my students. My kids LOVED getting mail from their future teacher. 
For many students, it was the first time ever for them to actually receive ANY mail! I strongly believe that this helps to build relationships with students and parents before the year even begins! You can read my previous post about Building Relationships Before School Starts
I recently shared an idea over on my Instagram page about adding a QR code to the postcards you send to students. When students scan the QR code on the postcard, they will hear a recording of their teacher reading the note to them. I had lots of questions on how to add your voice to a QR code so I am here to share that today!

The first thing you will need to do is download a voice recording app to your phone. The app that I used is called Voice Record Pro and it was free from the app store!

Next,  go ahead an open up the app and simply record your message! When you're done recording save your file to Google Drive.

Once you've saved your voice recording, you'll need to log in to your Google Drive to grab the URL. Here's a quick video to show you how!

Once you have your URL, you'll want to go to a QR Code Generator Website. Simply paste in your URL and then click generate QR Code. Once it's generated you can either download the code or take a screenshot of it (like I did in the video above).

Last but not least, you'll need to add your QR code as an image into your Powerpoint file. :)

My Back to School Postcards are now fully editable. Included in this file is a PDF that you can print from if you choose to handwrite your cards. 

Also included is a PowerPoint file. In this file, you can write messages to each of your students by adding a textbox and typing out your message. I have also added blank copies of EACH postcard type so that you can add in your own textbox and customize the saying on the front of each postcard. There is a total of 16 different image options for you to customize with your own text. 


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Easiest Classroom Library Checkout System

If you're anything like me, I've changed my class library checkout system quite a bit over the years. I could never quite find something that worked well, that students followed through with and that was simple. 
Today, I've finally FORCED myself to sit down and write this post. I've been wanting to share my checkout system here on the blog for the past few years...but just haven't made the time to write a post. This is the simplest system EVER and I would never go back to any other system I've used before.
Traditional class library checkout systems didn't work for me for various reasons. One of the classic systems, placing a shelf maker in the spot you borrowed a book from did not work for me because I wanted my students checking multiple books out at one time.  I also tried having them fill out a class library log, but only a handful of students filled it out consistently and accurately. Not to mention, it was just too much of a headache to constantly monitor (especially that returned column). 
The second best system that I had was when I used Classroom Booksource. 
Image from Book Source. 
I blogged about that here. When I first used it back in 2012, it was really new. Now that it's been around awhile, I'm sure it is much more user friendly and easy to use. What I liked about using this site was I had an inventory of ALL my books. All I needed to do was scan the barcode on each book. Students would log into their account and check books out. This was good because I could see what books I had on hand as well as who had a book checked out if I wanted to use it for a lesson. I could also figure out who the missing book on the floor belonged to when nobody in the class would claim it lol. 
Although this system worked well for me, my students did sometime run into issues where they couldn't find a book they were checking out in the system. It was also time consuming for students and the setup was SUPER time consuming for me. It took me forever to get my entire class library uploaded into that database. 
All you need for this NEW and IMPROVED checkout system is a phone/iPad/tablet, books, and kids. 

You good?!

I had a rotating schedule on when students could bookshop. 

Each day of the week, a different colored group would get to book shop first thing in the morning. They were allowed to choose 4 books and would keep those books in their book bags until the next time their book shopping day came around (the following week). Once they chose their books, they would simply come up to me, spread their books out and I would snap a photo of them on my phone.

Even if I was in the middle of something, it took less than 5 seconds for me to snap their photo and delete their picture from the previous week. This system allowed me to see who had what book and monitor what was checked out. If a kid wanted to keep one of the same books and get a few new ones the following week, they would just choose their new books and come to get their picture taken as normal. If they wanted to keep all their books, they would just come and let me know and I would keep their old photo.

Because I only had a few students shopping each day, it was totally manageable. I could also see this working as a class job. 

If you decide to try this system out, I'd love to hear about how it's working for you and your students. Feel free to leave me a comment or tag me on Instagram @Teachinginparadise :) 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Navigating Reading Wonders - Online

Hi Friends!

Wow, It sure has been awhile since I've last posted here. Life has me busy, busy, busy but I wouldn't trade it for the world! Hubby and I are expecting our first little one any day now. I'm both anxious and excited to meet our little guy! I'm officially 39 weeks and 1 day now...so he could literally make an appearance at any moment! Once he arrives, I'm sure there'll be crickets here again....but for today I would LOVE to share a little about Reading Wonders online components.

When my school first adopted this program back in  2014 I was completely OVERWHELMED. 
There is so much that this program has to offer.....but I had no idea where to begin or how to wrap my head around it all. During that first year, I pretty much relied on and utilized my TE because that is what I was used to....and let's face it, that was all about what I could handle. 
The following school year I stepped out of the classroom into a curriculum coordinator position. During the 15-16 school year, I really had the opportunity to explore the online components of Wonders and found some great things I wish I had known about during my first year of using the program. Check them out below!

Not sure about you but I know that THIS sure has happened to me on a few one too many occasions. 

Ever felt super motivated at the end of the day to get a ton of work done when you go home? You pack your bags with all your work....not to mention those HEAVY Reading Wonders TEs.

Then this happens......

I have lugged that heavy TE to and from school almost every single day during that first year of implementation. My teacher bag was always bulging and extremely heavy! I sure wish I had known that I could just pull up the entire TE online!! If your school has given you access to the ConnectEd website, I'll show you how to find that resource. 

Next, I'd like to share the amazing Tier 2 Resources that Wonders has available. The resources are broken up into different books based off of The Big 5 (Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension). 

These resources are great for those kiddos who come to you behind grade level and have many pre-requisite skills they need to work on before being able to do grade level work. This is perfect to use in small groups and/or with those one or two students that you may pull individually. The best thing about these resources are that they are super easy to implement, all your resources are provided for you and each intervention lesson only takes about 15-20ish minutes.

That's it for today friends! I'm off to get a little Netflix time in. :) 
I sure hope that I was able to share at least one useful/new thing with you today! If you are new to the Reading Wonders Program, give it some time. I think it's a great program once you've found your groove with it. If you'd like to see how I organized my Wonders materials, you can check that out here. I also blogged about my weekly plans here.

If there are other topics you would like me to cover, leave a comment for me down below :)


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Building Fact Fluency

Aloha, Friends! 
Today I'm here to share a tip with you on building fact fluency with your students.

I'm not sure about you..but my students always seem to struggle with their addition facts when they enter third grade. Don't even get me started with the subtraction facts either! lol. I also hear from the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade teachers at my school that it is a never ending battle. Each year the kids just DO NOT know their facts. 

As teachers, if we expect our students to know their facts, we need to allow them the time to practice their facts! In an ideal world, they would actually be practicing at home, but we KNOW this doesn't happen at home for most! 

In my classroom, each day of our math block begins with Math Drills. This seriously only takes about 5 minutes of our block, and I see improvements daily. Rather than making copies and having them pile up on my desk wasting a ton of paper, I print one copy of each drill and insert them into clear sheet protectors. 

Then all of the sheet protectors go into their math drill folder. 

The students use their dry erase markers to do their drills. I quickly go over the answers and the students correct their own drills. We don't log our grades anywhere. The students take a mental note of how they did for the day, and they are challenged to beat their scores the next day. 

I get my drills from this awesome site: math-drills.comhttp://www.math-drills.com .
You can print addition, subtraction, multiplication an division drills. I begin each year with addition. At the start of this school year, most of my kiddos couldn't even get through half of the page (50 problems on each page). After about a month or so..almost the entire class was whizzing through the entire page-with accuracy! 
Now, we are currently working on our subtraction facts. Eventually, we will add in multiplication drill pages as well. I usually add in 4 different sets of each operation. This way we can change it up each day. The drills from the website are already labeled 'drill a', 'drill b', and so on. This makes for easy reference to which drill set we will be working on.

The best thing about is this is that it's easy and the kids WILL get their facts down! 
I recommend getting thicker sheet protectors, because they will last longer. I am still using the same drill folders from 2 years ago! 

I've also got a little treat for you today :)

I've created some labels for you to add to your math drill folders! All you need to do is print, laminate, and tape onto the front cover of the folders. I have included a black and white version to save on ink. You could easily print on colored paper for a pop of color. Also, there are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple labels in this file. 

You can pick these labels up in my TpT Store for FREE! 

If you decide to use these drill in the classroom I would love to hear about it OR see it!  Tag me in a photo (@teachinginparadise) on instagram so I can check out your math drill folders!! 

Thanks for stopping by today!