Weekend Warriors {Teaching Tips}

Welcome back to the Sunday edition of Weekend Warriors!

Today, I thought it would be fun to share a few teaching tips!

I know that you are already an awesome teacher, but it's always fun to read tips and tricks from fellow teachers.  I'm going to narrow today's post to three tips.  That's it, three!  My three favorite tips (at the moment-ha).

Find a planning partner.  This is the best advice I could ever share with any teacher.  A few years ago, another teacher and I teamed up to plan our weekly lessons together and it has saved us sooo much time (and grief).  We have a system in place.  At the beginning of the week we plan all of our lessons for the following week.  From there, I type up all the lessons in our online lesson plan program (it's district created), and she does the prep work (photocopying, cutting paper, etc.).  Every Friday we leave the building knowing that we are totally set and ready to go for the following week.

Make daily "to do" lists.  Planning partner, or not, everyone needs to make a list of the things they need to get done.  Here are my "to do" list tips:
  • Keep a running "to do" list on your desk where you can see it everyday/all day.  I use the term "running" because you can (should) add things to the list as needed!  I frequently add tasks to my to do list throughout the school day.  If I don't write them down, they won't get done.   
  • Prioritize the items on your list.  When you get to work, ask yourself, what needs to be done now/for today?   Which tasks can be done later in the day?  Which tasks are more involved and require more time?  Are there several small/quick tasks that you can be done so that you can tackle the more involved task(s) later on?   
  • Update your to do list every day.  Move the tasks you were unable to get to one day to the following day, along with any new tasks that need to be taken care of.  (I rewrite my to do list every day, but, I'm weird like that).  
  • Use a small wire bound notepad for your to do lists.  They don't take up much space, and have plenty of paper.  Plus, they usually have cute covers so if you close it up one day, your desk will be prettified. Yep, that's a word.

It isn't about you.  Say what???  It's true.  You know it, and I know it. Our job is not about us.  However, it is sooo easy to forget this.  Believe me, I know!

Think about it, every time we turn around we are tasked with doing more, we are given more responsibilities and duties, we are held accountable at every level, we are told that our evaluations/pay will be based on how a child performs on a single test, we feel like someone is always looking over our shoulder, so of course it is easy to forget that our job isn't actually about us.

Our job is about our students and we need to remember that.  Do whatever it takes to remember these words.  Write a note and attach it to your desk, print the saying out and hang it up in a prominent place, or tattoo it across your forehead (joking, but you get the point). 

Be sure to stop by these fabulous blogs today to see what kind of tips they have in store for you today!

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Weekend Warriors {Tips and Tricks}

Welcome back to another edition of Weekend Warriors!  This month, my partners in crime and I are bringing you a variety of tips and tricks as they relate to blogging, TpT, and teaching.  Be sure to read all the posts because you never know what kind of wonderful ideas you'll stumble upon!

Today, I thought I would share a tutorial with you!

Please note: this tutorial will likely be most beneficial for PC users.

When bloggers share freebies with their readers via Google Docs, they have uploaded the document using a setting that allows anyone with the link access to the document. Since the document has been shared with you, there is no need to ask the blogger to share it with you.  Yay!  All you need to do is download it and save it to your computer, and this is really easy to do, I promise!

Sidenote: I tried to make you a nice little video and after lots of compressing and processing, it was of terrible quality.  Boo hoo.  So, since "Plan A" didn't work out, I'm going to "Plan B," screen shots!

So, of course, in order to download a freebie from a blog, you need to click on the link to said freebie (see below).  Well, I'll just let the tutorial do the talking!


Sometimes, I will email a document as an attachment.  I do this when I want to save it and print it at school.  I don't have access to Google Docs there, so this is a nice option because I can still access the file and once I open it from my work email, I can then save it to my computer for future use!

Now it's time to test out this tutorial!  I made this homework folder cover for next year's students and I'd love to share it with you.  Simply click {here} to grab a copy!

Here is a picture of how I use this homework cover.  I am very lucky that my school purchases these heavy duty plastic folders with a see through cover, but the homework cover I've shared can also be glued to a standard folder.  Use it however you like!

Don't forget to check out some fun tips and tricks from these super talented teachers!

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Take Note! {Note Taking in the Primary Classroom}

Note taking.  It's a skill we've all used in our lifetime.  I probably didn't start taking notes until junior high, but it was definitely a skill that I developed and used up until the day I graduated from college.  In fact, I still take notes.

This past year, I introduced note taking to my second graders.  Say what?  Don't worry, I didn't lecture my second graders and expect them to sit intently at their desks as they took copious notes on the subject matter at hand.  Promise. 

Last year, everyone on staff was asked to come up with a few teaching goals.  One of my goals was to foster student stamina within a whole group setting and one of the identified ways in which to do this was to incorporate note taking into my repertoire.

At first, I was like, "Uh, how am I supposed to teach these kids how to take notes?  I'm still hounding them to write a complete sentence!"  But, then it dawned on me, I could do both!  Plus, the more I thought about it, note taking is an awesome learning strategy!  It fosters concentration and understanding.  When we write things out by hand, our brains store the information more easily, so note taking leads to remembering.

What does note taking in second grade look like?
Here's a sampling of one second grader's notes.  She did a pretty good job of writing complete sentences, most of the time.  I told you, I'm always hounding my students to write complete sentences (insert winky smiley face).  This was from one of our very fist note taking sessions dating back to November.

When do your students take notes?
I typically use note taking during a nonfiction read aloud pertaining to a unit of study and/or during a content related video.  Note taking usually makes an appearance during my social studies and science time since most of my units are language arts based.

What does the process look like?
It goes a bit like this:
  • The students gather on the carpet with their materials (the carpet area is my favorite teaching space).
  • I read several pages in a nonfiction book.
  • I pause and tell the students to write down one important thing they learned from the reading up to that point in time (in the form of a complete sentence); they use bullets to separate their ideas.
  • I let a few students share their notes with the whole group. 
  • I read a few more pages and repeat.  
  • If we are watching a video, I do the same thing.  I pause the video every so often and give the students time to write down something they learned, and then let a few students share their notes before resuming play.
What do you do with the notes?
Typically, I compile the students' notes onto a class anchor chart (or two).
Note: I don't always write their notes as complete sentences on my charts.  This is usually due to time constraints, paper size, and/or it may not be conducive to the assignment I give them once the chart is completed.

Then, I have the students use the shared notes to write an informative paragraph (one reason I don't always write complete sentences on the anchor chart) or complete a graphic organizer (can/have/are, fact/opinion, and so on).  While I mainly used this skill during Social Studies time, it can be used whenever and however you like, that's the beauty of note taking!

What materials do my students need to take notes?
Last year, the students did most of their note taking on mini whiteboards (as shown at beginning of this post), but that was not the greatest tool to use.  The ink smears and many of the students write way too big most of the time. 

This year, note taking will make a return visit to my classroom, but instead of using those messy, super small boards we will use one of these generic note taking forms that I created. There are two different versions so I can start with the one that I think will best meet the needs of next year's kiddos.  I may even copy the form double sided, just in case!

You can grab a copy of these forms by clicking {here}.  I hope you can use them.

So, the burning question is, do your primary students take notes?

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