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. 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: Retrieved from

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!

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