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Using Google Slides as your Teacher Planner


Hello darlings!

My teacher bestie and I are so similar when it comes to our passion for teaching and our love for our students!  But we are so different when it comes to planning and how we organize things.  LOL!  I am a paper and digital hybrid.  She is all digital and I wish I could be like her because my life would be so much easier!

How I Plan

I create one template that I love, in Google Slides.  For a few weeks, I type my lessons in the beautiful template and print it out because I like to hang it on my bulletin board right by my desk.  It looks so gorgeous and organized.  As the weeks go on, I get lazy and just start printing out the template and write on it instead.  Totally fine.  Works great.


How My Teacher Bestie Plans

The only issue is now I have to rewrite everything the next year while teacher bestie over here, just duplicates last year's plans, cuts and pastes a few things that she needs to change, and BAM, she's done.  Good for you, teacher bestie!  LOL!

I also envy her because she has all of her small group lessons for math and reading planned out in Google Slides as well.  I just wish I liked typing as much as I do writing.  She is a few years younger than me.  Could that be the difference?  Let's just pretend it is and it's not that I'm lazy.  LOL!

I love that she can just copy and paste from previous years AND if we even had to turn in lessons to our principal, she could very easily just press share on Google Slides.

Going Digital


I think I've just talked myself into giving it another try this year.  It would be nice to have everything in one place

This is the Teacher Planning Toolkit I made for her.  I'm going to give it a whirl myself since so many things are going digital.

I made sure to include everything she, uh, I mean, we, would need to keep organized and save paper!

-Title page
-Curriculum Map for the Year
-Weekly lesson plans
(you can change amount of rows & columns for subject and days!!!)
Template 1: 6 subjects and Mon.-Friday
Template 2: 6 subjects and Mon.-Wed.
6 subjects and Thurs-Friday
-Lesson Ideas and Links (add hyperlinks and pics for upcoming lessons)
-Weekly To Do List 2 formats
-Meeting Notes Form
-Teacher Passwords
-Classroom Schedule
-Classroom Checklist
-Student Transportation
-Class Birthdays
-Student Tech info and passwords
-Student Medical issues
-Parent Contacts
-Parent Communication Log
-Professional Development Log
-IEP at a Glance
-Student Alternative Schedules
-Math Rotations
-Math Small Groups
-Small Group Lesson Template
-Reading Small Groups
-Reading Conferences
-Guided Reading Lesson Template 2 formats
-Writing Small Groups
-Writing Process Stages
-Writing Conferences
-Small Group Template 3 formats
-Student Data Chart
-Student Growth Data
-DRA scores
-Progress Monitoring
-Gradebook pages with AND without premade subjects
Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies, Word Study, and 4 templates that you edit the subject


 Go check it out and see if it is something that would help you to be more organized this year!


Creating a Class Promise Instead of Classroom Rules


Hello darlings!

I don't have a list of rules posted in my room.  Instead, I have a class promise that my students "made" and we recite it each morning.  You would not believe how much it has changed the climate of my classroom!

Students have a sense of ownership and they call each other out when someone isn't following the promise.  I hear thinks like, "Jane, I asked you to stop, and in our Promise it says that when someone asks you to stop, we stop."  Or when we do compliment circles for morning meeting, I will hear things like "I like how you always stay focused and work hard."

How We Want Our Class to Feel, Look, Sound


I use the same promise every year, but I don't refer to it until we create this chart on the first day. Each year I make a chart that says how we want our class to feel, look, and sound.  I gather the students to the carpet and I ask them to tell me about their dream classroom.  I fill in the chart as I go.  They want to FEEL safe.  They want it to LOOK like kids are having fun.  They want it to SOUND like people laughing and being kind. Etc.  I kind of "guide" them with the language I really want to pull from our promise.

Next I tell them how I think that they have great ideas and that this is the kind of classroom I want as well.  I talk to them about how great it will be to have fun and learn together but I tell them that we have to have rules in order to make this happen.

Students Make the Rules

I ask them to create the rules for us.  I have them each get with a partner and they each get one sticky note.  On the sticky note, the partners must agree on two specific rules for the class.

Finally, we gather back together at the carpet and I have each partner group come up and share their rules.  We then discuss where those rules would fit on our "How We Want Our Class to Feel, Look, and Sound" chart.   I always have multiple rules that are the same and sometimes, students never actually cover the exact rules I want.  That is okay.

The Class Promise


This is when I get creative and I show them how Our Class Promise fits exactly what they wanted for our rules.  When someone made a rule that said, "Don't call people names" that fits perfectly with "Treat others better than you want to be treated." 

By the way I added in the "better than you want to be treated part" when I learned years ago that if you ask a kid something like, "Would you like it if someone called you stupid?" they would always say "I don't care!" or "It wouldn't bother me!"  That's when I tell them, "Well, that's why we have to treat people BETTER than we want to be treated!"  Believe me, they really do care but their pride won't admit it when they are upset and in trouble.

Recite it EVERYDAY and Make Movements

We say our class promise every single day and when kids have it memorized, we make motions to go along with the words.  For example, when we say "We promise to encourage others and cheer each other on," we throw up our fist in the air like we are cheering.  This helps with more buy in as the brain is becoming more involved.

There will become weeks or days down the road when they become complacent and just say it to say it.  This is when we start to really talk about it again and use a lot of inflection in our voice.  Sometimes I even make little competitions between table groups on who can sound the most convincing.

Give this a try!  Use mine or make your own, but please make a promise.  It makes such a difference because you and your students are using the same language everyday.  They know what you expect and they know that they are held accountable for their words.  Here is my Class Promise. 



6 Steps to Creating a Curriculum Map Pacing Guide for your Year


Hello darlings!

Can I let you in on a little secret?  I hate planning.  I love creating and making engaging lesson plans, but trying to fit in all my standards for every subject for the entire year isn't something I enjoy.  It's especially  hard if you aren't already given a pacing guide by your district or by your curriculum company.   But, guys, once you do it, it is so WORTH IT!

Luckily, my team and I worked on this together a few years ago and now all I have to do is tweak it for changing standards or new curriculum adoptions.  Otherwise, I just change the dates each year, and I am golden.

I will admit, it takes a little work, but once it is complete, you really have a document that will keep you on track and make sure you cover all of your content.

6 Steps to Creating A Curriculum Map

Step 1: Plug in the Dates for your year.
To save myself time, I wanted to just denote each week as Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, etc, thinking that it would make it easy for the next year.  Having the dates are helpful because then you don't forget about four day weeks, holidays, special events, etc.  This will make a difference.

Step 2: Does your curriculum have a recommendation of how long it should take to teach each lesson/unit?
Many times your teacher manuals will have the amount of time recommended for each lesson.  Just make sure you are looking at your curriculum as well and not just the teacher manual.  For example, the math curriculum we were given has extra standards that we don't teach and also is missing some standards for my state, so I have to make sure I include those myself.

Step 3: Find out if your district has a certain order you must teach the standards.
For example, in my district, we have a very specific order we have to teach our reading and writing units so that if you go to any of the schools in our district, we are all teaching the same unit at the same time.

Step 4:  See if you can teach science and social studies in any order.
I LOVE it when all of my subjects match up in one big theme.  That's when the real learning takes place.  For example, when we are teaching about graphing in math, that is the perfect time to also be teaching about weather in science.  There are so many weather graphs and charts that we make and analyse.

Step 5: Plan the Order of the Units first.
Before I fill out the Curriculum Map, I plan out the order of each of my units first.  That is how I can make sure they match up and make sense.

Step 6: Plug in your Map for each week.
Finally, I use all the info I have to plug in the units and indicate which week I will teach them.  I never stick to this perfectly, because any good teacher knows you have to be reflective and just because it took me four weeks to teach that skill last year, doesn't mean it will take me four weeks this year.  Each class is different and as long as you are pretty close to your schedule, you will be fine.

To get your own Curriculum Map resource, click here.


Diverse Books to Have in Your Classroom Library


Hello darlings!

We all like to think that we are just one little person and we really can't do anything to affect change.  As a teacher, that can't be further from the truth.  I believe teachers have immense power in their classrooms.  

I think of my third grade teacher who embarrassed me in front of my class saying I couldn't even cut straight with scissors.  That still affects me as an adult.  LOL!  I think about my fourth grade teacher who introduced me to my first book series and got me to start to love reading when I hated it before.

One simple thing we do in our classroom can stay with a child forever.

What if that one simple thing was just a book?  One book.  A book that for the first time, your student actually saw himself as the main character.  Your student could see his face reflected on the pages of the book.  And it wasn't a book about Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks.  It was just a regular old book with a regular old, powerful story.  Sadly, something this simple has to be discussed and isn't the case in all classrooms.

If this holds true for your classroom library, let's see why that is.  It's kind of difficult to have the right representation when books aren't even being published! 

Posted with Permission Huyck, David and Sarah Park Dahlen. (2019 June 19). Diversity in Children’s Books 2018. sarahpark.com blog. Created in consultation with Edith Campbell, Molly Beth Griffin, K. T. Horning, Debbie Reese, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, and Madeline Tyner, with statistics compiled by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison: http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp. Retrieved from https://readingspark.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/picture-this-diversity-in-childrens-books-2018-infographic/

This is why we, as classroom teachers, have to do the work and find the quality books that are out there.  

I have done research trying to find the best books possible to add to my classroom.  Below you will find links to others who have done a much better job than me collecting all of these titles into one place.


Here are just a few to get you started.  This is in no way an exhaustive list of all cultures. 


Black Books Matter: Books Celebrating Black Boys 

28 Picture Books That Aren't About Buses, Boycotts, or Basketball

28 More Picture Books That Aren't About Buses, Boycotts, or Basketball

The 2020 Ultimate List of Diverse Children's Books 

Diverse Books Featuring Leaders of Color 

Social Justice Books 

Books by Sharon Draper 

40 Children's Books Celebrating Native American and Indigenous Mighty Girls 

Native American Children's Literature Recommended Reading List

Culturally Diverse Picture Books Pinterest

Happily Ever After Elephants Diverse Children's Books 

Enjoy adding more books to your library!


Preparing for Back to School with COVID


Hello darlings!

School just ended for me here in Missouri, but like you, I am already thinking ahead to next year and how on earth school is going to look during this COVID-19 Pandemic.  My mind is spinning and I'm seeing all kinds of crazy pictures and recommendations on social media.

States are trying to decide what school will even look like.  Will we go back inside the classroom?  Will will stay home?  Will it be a hybrid of at school learning and distance learning?  Will students go on an A/B schedule with some students attending in the morning and some in the afternoon?  Will some students attend school on Monday and Wednesday and another group on Tuesday and Thursday?  Will we have to wear masks?  No more flexible seating? Desks have to be 6 feet apart?  And it just goes on and on and on, and guys..... I'm over it.  

I'm over the stress and the uncertainty.  I am a classroom teacher.  I am not in charge of making any of these decisions, and let's face it, I'm not going to have a say anyway.  So instead of ruining my summer, I am going to stay calm and focus on what I have control of.

You need to take a break my friend!  Seriously!  I know you hear about self care all the time, and remember that means your mental well-being.  Focusing on all the uncertainty and things you have literally no control over will NOT HELP.

Here is what we can control.  

1. We CAN brush up on technology and digital tools for next year.

2. We CAN get a jump on websites we can use in our classroom or virtually.

3. We CAN organize our resources and make them digital.

If you know me, you know I HATE wasted time.  Meaning, I don't want to spend time preparing for something that might not happen.  I am only going to focus on the things that will help me and my students no matter what happens!

1. Focus on Technology Platforms-Posting and Recording Assignments

My district uses Google Classroom, so I am making myself an expert with that. I used Google Classroom before distance learning to push sites and links out to my students and I will continue to do that no matter what, next year. Ask your district what platform they are thinking about using.

Google Classroom

If you want to see how I used Google Classroom during distance learning, go to my instagram stories here.

This is a Tutorial for Google Classroom that explains everything for beginners.

If you already use Google Classroom, here is a tutorial on how to post assignments and Google Forms.



I also created a Google Slides Assignment Template for my students to keep track of all their assignments.  You can grab the free template here.  


Recording Teaching Videos

Youtube App
The Youtube app was indispensable during the school closure.  I was able to record my lessons and read alouds right from my iPhone and upload to my own channel.  I even made all of my videos unlisted so that only my students with the link could view them.

I used the free version of Screencastomatic to record any videos that I needed to share my screen or create a tutorial on how to use something on the computer.  It allowed me to also show my face in the corner to give that personal feel.

I am still looking into Digital whiteboards such as Loom, Explain Everything, and Whiteboard.fi 

2. Websites for Distance Learning AND for in the Classroom


There are so many websites out there for student learning.  Thankfully, many of them were free with unlimited use during the school closures.  I am not sure how that is going to work in the fall, but here are the sites I recommend. 

I used this for math.  I set my students up with the 3rd grade program and they worked through it at their own pace.  It has videos and then exercises students must master before they can move on.  If we are in the classroom, I will still use this during math rotations. 

Freckle
I used this for Math and ELA even before the closure. It also has science and social studies. It allows you to pick the standards and decide on an exit ticket or assignment.  You can view the types of questions before assigning and view reports.  It also groups students for you.  The free version allows you one assignment per subject at a time.  It has reading articles, grammar, word study and so much more for ELA.

Prodigy 
This is my students' favorite math site.  It is basically like a little video game, but they are asked challenging math questions in order to advance.  I like that you can set the standards that they work on, or have them work in certain domains and they advance after they take a pretest.  This is free.

Get Epic 
This site is amazing for reading!  It is basically an online library with TONS of QUALITY books that you actually have in your classroom library, not obscure books.  You can assign books or allow students to choose.  You can even assign quizzes. It is currently only free until the end of June, BUT it was always free for students during school hours.

Flipgrid
This was my favorite tool during distance learning and I am going to continue it into the regular classroom as well.  Flipgrid is a platform in which you can assign students a task and then they respond with a video!  They can respond to each other's videos if you allow it.  I used this for my daily read aloud.  I recorded my read aloud in Youtube (Flipgrids's longest video is 10 minutes) and then pasted the link in my grid assignment.  Students then responded to my question with their video.  I am going to use it next year with having students video themselves teaching a lesson.  I did this with having students teach me how to tell time, and it was amazing!!  Watch how I used Flipgrid in my instagram stories. 


3. Organize Your Standards and Make Curriculum Digital


One of the other things I can focus on this summer, is taking my resources that I already use and turning them into Digital Resources.

For example: How can I take that writing assignment and make it digital to use at school or at home?  Easy- just take my directions and my rubric and create a Google Doc or Google Slide that students can type their writing on.

Take your math worksheets and turn them into self-grading Google Forms. You can use mine here. 

You can screen shot basically anything and save it as a picture, then insert it as a background in Google Slides.  Then just insert text boxes where you want students to type.   (For copyright purposes, make sure you check the terms of use if you are using a resource someone else created.)  Here is a Tutorial using PDF to Image to make it faster. 

Check your TPT purchases.  Many of your purchases from TPT are being converted into digital products for you.  Most sellers like myself, are including that in our paper versions so all you have to do is go to your purchases and redownload the new additional digital resource.


So... I am just going to focus on what I can control and not dwell on what could be.  We will find out soon enough what our classrooms will look like for Fall 2020.  Don't let worrying about tomorrow, rob you of your joy today!



End of the Year Ideas for Virtual Teaching


Hello darlings!  Trying to end the year of virtual teaching definitely has be an emotional roller-coaster.  While I am glad to be finished with this computer based typed teaching, I am going to miss my students.  I hate not being able to give them a hug!

To end my year, I hosted a Virtual Class Party on Zoom.  You can do the same on Google Meets.  I created gift bags for my kiddos and then delivered them to their homes the day before our meeting.  I just set them on the front porch or by their door.   I told them not to open it until our meeting.


Party Bags


For each bag, I created a little tag with a poem.  I filled each bag with..
-party hat (Walmart)
-Caprisun (Amazon)
-Rice Krispy Treat (Target)
-mini notebook (Walmart)
-Invisible ink pen (Amazon)
-Photo of them and the class

Free Gift Tag Poem

Delivery

I used Map Quest to put in way points to create the fastest route.  Google Maps will allow you put in way points, but you have to know the order yourself.  Please note, Map Quest only allows for 26 entries. 



Virtual Meeting

I emailed the parents and told them to make sure students did not open the bags until we were on the meeting together.  This built up a lot of anticipation and excitement for the gift bags. Here is what we did during the meeting.

1. Open Gift Bags and put on party hats
2. I played our Class Photos Slideshow by sharing my screen. (this took 15 minutes)
3. We then went around and each student shared their favorite memory of the year.
4. I told them how proud I was of them and how amazing they had been through all of distance learning.
5. We did a virtual air hug and said goodbye to each other.  Sob, sob.

I hope this gave you a few ideas of how to close out this crazy pandemic year!  Here is a virtual air hug for you!  I know this has been tough!



Free Virtual Vacation Field Trips


Hello darlings! With school closings, I wanted my students to do something fun on their Spring Break. I created these Virtual Vacation Field Trips! You can use them for Spring Break OR as Virtual Field Trips. I have included all the links if you click on the little airplanes. Students also have a journal to fill out as well. If you don't need the journal or the spring break picture, just delete those slides from your copy before you post it to Google Classroom. These slides are NOT editable, meaning you cannot change the days of the week or change out the places I have chosen. The student journal IS EDITABLE.

I created this to be shared in Google Classroom. I am not sure how to share it on any other platform. I am pretty sure you can open these in Google Slides and download them as PowerPoints.


How to Use

After you click on the links and open the forced copy, you can post this link in your Google Drive. Just make sure to..
1. Add assignment
2. Attach the Google Slide from your Drive
3. Click: Make a copy for each student

Here is a video tutorial.  Please watch if you have questions.

If it is asking you to request access, you must open with a Google account. Make sure that is your work account or it is going to make you to request access when you finally try to put it on Google Classroom. You can always share it with yourself. If your students are having to request access, then you didn't share it with them properly.

Free Resources:

To get the Google Slides, click on the PICTURES.  It will ask you if you want to Make a Copy.  Yes, you do.  This will make your own copy and be saved in your Google Drive.

Monday:
Directions to my students that I typed in Google Classroom:
Today you are going to the Happiest Place on Earth! I want to hear all about your adventure and which rides you loved the most! Click on the airplane to get the link, then click on the link to travel!

Tuesday:
Directions to my students that I typed in Google Classroom:
Where are we going today? I bet you can figure out my favorite location on this trip! Click on the airplanes to open the links to travel. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the journal! When you finish, click TURN IN so I can read it and write back to you!


Wednesday:
Directions to my students that I typed in Google Classroom:
Today you are going on a Bear Hunt! You will be searching the live cams for all kinds of animals on your adventure today! Click on the airplanes to open the links to travel. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the journal! When you finish, click TURN IN so I can read it and write back to you!


Thursday:
Directions to my students that I typed in Google Classroom:
Today you are going to do a lot of "walking!" There are so many places to visit! Pick one or two to explore! I'd love to hear your thoughts in the journal! When you finish, click TURN IN so I can read it and write back to you!



Friday:
Directions to my students that I typed in Google Classroom:
It's your last day of Spring Break! Have some fun on your vacation! Today you are headed to Universal Studios in Florida!!! Enjoy the rides and write all about them in your journal! When you finish, click TURN IN so I can read it and write back to you!



Happy Vacationing!


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