How to Teach Questioning in Primary Grades

Asking good questions and citing evidence is essential in helping students think deeply about their reading.

Students learn to ask better questions by example. If we want our students to ask good questions of themselves and think deeper about their reading, we have to model that in our lessons. One of the things I teach students of all ages, even Kindergarteners, is to answer with their evidence ready.

Here’s an example of a conversation with primary students about Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse. The conversation is happening just after reading the part where Lilly is heading out of the classroom after slipping her picture of Mr. Slinger into his bag. My goal here is that students learn to observe, think critically and cite evidence while enjoying a fun text.

How to Make Your Parent Conferences a Success [Free Guide]

It’s fall and that means that parent conferences are just around the corner. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could go into each student’s parent conference feeling prepared and confident?

I know how hard you work and how much you care about each of your students. Take the time to prepare a bit for parent conferences so your families will have no doubt about your hard work and caring heart as well.

So what do we need to do to have successful conferences? Prepare an overall plan, prep student details, rehearse and understand parents' expectations. Think of conferences as an opportunity to build relationships, share information and create a plan for moving forward.

Read more and get the free conference guide.

How to Get Your Principal to [Truly] Understand Your Schedule

Do you ever feel like your admin, parents or even your own family don’t fully understand how hard you work as a teacher?

Does it seem like everyone thinks you should help them out or volunteer because you get off work at 3:00? You know the drill… “You’re just a teacher. Working until 3:00 and then going home so early must be nice. You get every holiday and summers off. How hard can it be?!”

It’s insulting. I get it. But instead of getting hopped up over a few thoughtless words or general ignorance, try this.

Why I Don't Do Reading Logs and What I Do Instead

I'M NOT USUALLY A QUITTER, BUT IN THIS INSTANCE... I QUIT!

Quite a long time ago, I quit sending home reading logs and asking parents/students to time their reading. I've never regretted that decision. Reading at home is expected but runs on an honor system. I don't need parents or students stressing over reading time or hating reading because of having to keep track. Reading should be a joy, not a chore.

3 Tips for Memorable Word Work

I know we all do word work with our students in elementary grades. Whether that looks like spelling words, phonemic awareness or something else may differ from classroom to classroom. I also know not a single teacher out there that plans activities not caring if students remember the learning long-term. So how do we increase the odds of our students remembering? 

Tried and True Picture Books for Teaching

How do you choose the books you teach with and what deserves shelf space in your teaching library?

There are so many wonderful picture books coming out every year. It can be a bit overwhelming. However, we need to remember there are older books that are just as wonderful. Perhaps it's time to walk away from the next shiny thing for a minute and inventory/repurpose what we currently have. 

Teaching is tough. It's even tougher if you can't figure out what to wear every day or go to school not feeling great about how you look. It effects our mood which effect our teaching. You deserve to feel fabulous no matter what your body type. When you feel great, you will be confident and creative. Your students and their parents need you to project confidence and professionalism, even in how you dress.

Easy Summer Science "Field" Kit

Every summer when my lids were little, they would head outdoors and investigate nature. So one summer, I made them a “field kit” and notebook. Oh my goodness! Was this ever a hit in the neighborhood!

Teachers, this idea can easily be adapted for summer homework or classroom use.