Coming soon... Classroom Management 101

3 Keys to Successful Classroom Management

classroom management Jun 13, 2019

Did classroom management get you down this year? You're not alone! It's tough to train and manage a class well. There are lots of pieces to successful classroom management. But, let's start with just a few.

Here's 3 Essentials:

1. Simplicity

The more complicated your classroom management system, the harder it is to implement on a daily basis. Here's where I put on my inner Marie Kondo of the Classroom Management world. Simple is best. Simple expectations and consequences are easily remembered and followed by everyone. I have only 2 written expectations (rules) for students and myself. They cover pretty much everything. You can do more if you prefer. But when you get to more than 5 expectations or rules, it's too complicated.

2. No Rewards for Expected Behavior

While I know this is something many of you don't want to hear, I firmly believe it needs to be said out loud. I have 5 kids of my own and more than 20 years of teaching experience. Begging or bribing...

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The Power of Teaching with Read-Alouds

books teaching Jun 06, 2019

It all started with this question. "How have you seen students respond to and learn from read alouds, Lisa?"

Hmmm. Well, since you asked...

When I first started teaching I thought read alouds should be treated as an “extra” with “time permitting." Obviously, I had a LOT to learn. With time and experience, I've learned differently. Read alouds are actually a golden opportunity to teach a good majority of reading and writing skills and strategies in meaningful and memorable ways. Not to mention, if you plan carefully, you can add in non-fiction and historical fiction texts to pair with your stories and/or poetry and get some mileage in Science and Social Studies. That's a huge bonus.

So, here's an example of read aloud ideas I might plan for a week in a first grade classroom and in a fifth grade classroom

First Grade

Books:

The Egyptian Cinderella by Jewell Reinhart Coburn

The Rough-Faced Girl by Rafe Martin

Adelita by Tomie DePaolo

...

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The 15 Secret Rules of Highly Successful Teachers

effective teaching May 29, 2019

Here's the rules...

  • Take care of yourself first. This means you MUST guard your personal time.
  • Pre-determine how much time you’ll work outside school hours. Make a schedule of time/day and what you’ll accomplish. Stick to it. Walk away when time is up. Remember, weekends are sacred. You NEED a physical and mental break to be a good teacher.
  • Show up mentally and emotionally. Be invested. Be real about the days you're worn out or struggling. You students will notice, so ask for their help in winning the day.
  • Master your classroom management. If this is working, everything else will be so much easier.
  • Commit to being consistent in all you do so your students will feel safe.
  • Don’t judge other teachers or parents. Life is hard enough. We all have our journey and need support to grow from who we are today to whom we’ll be tomorrow.
  • Budget, budget, budget. Spend as little money on your classroom as you possibly, reasonably can. Less is more. 
  • No...
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3 Easy, Fun Father's Day Gifts

teaching May 16, 2019

I'm always on the hunt for easy gifts students can make. 

Dads get shafted a bit sometimes when school gets out before Father's Day. Help your students prep a gift now, so they'll be ready in June even if school gets out before then. 

Here's 3 fun gifts your students can make for Father's Day.

WordFoto

This one is an app. You can get it on your tablet (or phone) for students to use. It costs just $2.99. First, have students prepare a list of 5-10 words they want to use to describe themselves or they can choose words to use as a hidden message for their dad. Snap a picture of the student with the tablet (or phone). Next, have the student tap on the T to enter their words. Then, they can tap the Style button to choose the look they want. Once they're done, the pic can be sent to a printer. Create a frame with construction paper and it's done!

Token Card

Print the card pages (back to back) and the token sheet on card stock. Students create a card with slots to place the...

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Purposeful Summer Reading: Setting the Stage for the Next Year

reading summer reading May 09, 2019

Summer reading is a requirement at many schools around the country. While I'm not a fan of checklists and reading logs, I am fan of reading.

So many students have wonderful teachers who've matched them with books and made reading purposeful and exciting. Their students have learned to search for good books and to love books. You've have caught their hearts, and they will be readers for life. 

 Let’s see if we can catch some more hearts this summer.

Here's a few ideas for making summer reading purposeful for students and have it flow right into lessons for the first weeks of school. 

 Entering Kindergarten

Order caterpillars for September. Perhaps the summer read for incoming kindergarteners is the Very Hungry Caterpillar and as many Eric Carle books as they can get their hands on over the summer (parents can read to them aloud). Then, you can start September with these and an author study on Eric Carle. Read a bunch of his books, talk about...

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What to Do Instead of Summer Homework and My End-of-Year Readiness Guide

This is the time of year where we're not only prepping for the end of school but thinking of what we'll do the same and differently next year. It's funny how those things are intricately tied together. 

I've got a few things for you for end-of-year, summer boosts and gathering all those thoughts and ideas for next year as well. Wow! That's a lot of stuff, right?! No worries, I'll make it as simple and easy as I can.

End of the School Year Organization

As we near the end of the year, it can be difficult to keep track of all the moving parts to get things wrapped up, packed up and ready for summer. Here's my [free] End-of-Year Checklist to help you with that. 

Summer Boosts

While you probably know I'm NOT a fan of summer homework, you might not know this bit. I'm a HUGE fan of sneaky ways to get kids learning and reading without even knowing it's the dreaded "practice" they want to avoid. So here's two items to help you support parents in this quest.

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Sight Word Fluency in 5 Minutes a Day (or Less)

sight words teaching Apr 25, 2019

I think we can all agree that sight word knowledge is important to fluent reading. Since sight words are functors, the glue that hold sentences together, they're everywhere in our reading. Once students have a good sight word vocabulary, their reading takes off. In short, students struggle less and reading becomes more pleasurable. Knowing sight words is just one more tool we can give students' to put in their reading toolkit.

KEEP IT LOW STRESS.

As much as we want students to know their sight words, we have to use caution in choosing how to teach them. Making sight word instruction another chore is stressful for everyone. We know stress inhibits our brain's memory system. The more stressful we make learning, the less students remember. So...

How do you teach sight words easily and effectively?

Here's a system that's super easy and takes only few minutes to do with each of your small groups. Once I started using it with my students, I realized it was a game changer....

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Teacher Tired Should NOT Be Considered Normal

self-care Apr 17, 2019

Raise your hand if you are #teachertired. I see you, all of you. You're worn out!

I'm sure we can all agree we got into this teaching gig with the same enthusiasm and expectations for our future success as teachers. We looked forward to making a positive difference in students' lives, to helping them to love learning, to help students learn exponentially and to contribute to their become amazing people. It wasn't going to be our job; it was going to be our vocation.

So where does it all go wrong?

Sure we do a lot of what we hoped to accomplish but we're worn to the bone. Why are we so tired and overwhelmed all the time? Well... there are lots of factors contributing to that. We could go on and on, right?! But, let's deal with the ones we can actually control.

Taking Control of Your Wellbeing

Here's the ones we can control (off the top of my head): energy level, sleep, self-care, preparation, knowing how to say no, confidence, time management, classroom management, how much work we...

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8 Tips for Better Classroom Management

classroom management Apr 11, 2019

Someone once told me...

The answer is always simple. It may not be easy to implement, but the answer itself is simple.

Classroom management is like that. It's also the one thing that can make or break your school year.

When we're at university, we spend a lot of time learning how and what to teach. We also learn about laws, theory and all kinds of minutia. Classroom management is taught, but it's such a hard thing to grasp until you're faced with an entire class on your own.

Your Classroom, Your rules

When you get to make up the rules, begin the year any way you want and every decision rests firmly on your shoulders, classroom management is an entirely different animal. It seems so simple. You have rules and consequences and the students fall into line, right?! 

Nothing could be further from the truth. There will always be those students who are natural "rule followers" and "pleasers". On the other hand, there's always those who have to push the envelope, nudge your boundaries...

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How Social Media Can Support Us as Teachers

pln teaching Apr 03, 2019

Feeding our teacher souls.

Social media can be both a blessing and a curse in our personal and professional lives, right?! Well, I can't help you with your personal addiction to your feeds, but your professional habits are another story.

Full disclosure: I'm a "moderation in all things" kind of girl, so you're going to be hearing about limits too. 

The first thing you need to do is turn off all of your notifications in any platform you use. The more you use them, the more notifications you'll get. Ugh! Too distracting!

That said, let's jump right in. if you don't use social media for teaching ideas, inspiration and connections, it's time to change that. 

Here's why.

  • Social media has a wealth of great teachers sharing their fabulous ideas for free every day.
  • Each social platform serves a different purpose for me as an educator. There's something to fit everyone's style and needs. Find what fits your needs.
  • Connection. Teaching is tough. We need to share our burden with...
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