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Classroom Management Ideas - Easy Ways to Positively Manage Students' Behavior

Here’s a quick list of simple ways to positively manage behavior in the classroom. These tips are designed to be easy and quick. You’ll find ways to manage the entire class and individual students. 

Many of the ideas are things you probably do intuitively. However, this list provides a simple reminder of some effective ways to positively manage students’ behavior.

If a student is becoming distracted or talking too much, stand right by their desk.  Continue your instruction as usual.  Just moving closer to them is often enough to alleviate the distracting behavior.

If a lesson is not going particularly well or if students are super chatty, just get out your seating chart and start changing seats.  Quite often a ...
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Easy Ways to Build Positive Relationships in the classroom


As teachers, we're always on the hunt for easy ways to build positive relationships with students. That's because a strong connection with student can greatly increase their success in our classrooms. I'm sharing 15 ways to build relationships with students. I'm sure you already do so many of I hope you find a new idea or two.
Don't worry! I've put together all of these ideas in a printable set of cards. 
You can download all the ideas for FREE HERE.

Make it a practice to send out a set number of postcards (or even emails) a week celebrating students that made positive contributions to class.  

TIP:  Be sure to record your mailings in a communication log.  

Give ...

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Back to School Activities - Perfect for Upper Elementary and Middle School


Searching for fun and meaningful back to school activities? Looking for easy ideas that introduce students to you, their classmates, and your classroom? Wish you could grab some FREE back to school activities to try at the start of the new school year? Well...then you're in the right place!

I've rounded up some of my favorite back to school ideas for grades 4-8.'s the best part...I've included 2 different freebies so that you can easily give some of them a try!


Plan an activity to get students sharing about themselves in a fun and easy way. I'm a fan of starting the first day of school off with letting students create name tags. Download this ...

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4 Analysis Tasks for ANY Poem


Analyzing poetry is a skill all our students need to develop. While students are required to investigate poems often, poetry analysis is still something that many students struggle with. That's why I'm a big fan of practice! I love to give students lots of opportunities to closely read and analyze poetry. 

(And I've put together a FREE one-pager that students can use with any poem!) 


When putting together a poetry analysis lesson, here are some tips I follow:

✔ TIP 1: Select a poem that is long enough for students to adequately investigate, but not too long to make the process overwhelming.

 TIP 2: Provide students with background information about the author of ...

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Calm Classroom Decor Ideas - Creating a Serene Classroom Environment

Creating a calm classroom environment is more important than ever. Since classrooms can be such a busy place, many of our students (and their teachers) long for a serene environment that calms their senses. That's why I thought I'd put together a series of classroom design mood boards filled with ways to create a calming classroom environment. You'll find that the mood boards include muted colors, flexible seating, lighting alternatives, cozy textures, and motivational messages. The idea is to create a space that helps students feel calm and ready to learn.

Each mood board is meant to create a relaxed and serene learning environment.  You'll even notice that the mood boards have some common elements.  For instance, most mood boards ...
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Calming Classroom Posters - Free Calming Corner Decor

Classrooms are busy and sometimes stressful places. Our students have a lot of feelings and emotions to process throughout the day. Sometimes our students need gentle reminders to slow down and calm down. That's why I created this set of FREE Calming Classroom Posters. 

These posters are designed to be a proactive tool to help students feel encouraged and safe in their classrooms. They are designed to be simple so that students can easily find actionable tools and messages for creating a positive outlook. Display these posters to bring a little calming touch to your classroom. 

 Add your information below to receive the FREE set of posters in your inbox!


These posters are designed to be versatile. ...
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Book Report Ideas (that kids actually enjoy!)


Let's say goodbye to boring book reports for good! Today, I'm sharing 7 of my favorite ways to get students to report on the books that they have read. These ideas combine creativity, rigor, and engagement so that students actually enjoy reporting out on their reading. And...there's enough variety in these activities that you'll be able to tap into a variety of learning styles all year long.

1. Doodle Book Review - Exclusive FREEBIE!

Oh baby! There's nothing better than doodles to get students excited about learning. In the doodle book review, students complete planning pages before creating a doodle-themed, one-page book report. 

This book review is accessible and fun...and since I know your students will LOVE IT, I'm ...

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Positive Affirmations for Teachers - Promoting a Positive Mindset


Let's face it...being an educator is challenging. Teachers often have the weight of the world on their shoulders. So, simple coping strategies are essential for promoting a positive mindset about teaching. One way to reduce stress, promote happiness, and reset one's thoughts is with positive affirmations. Reciting positive affirmations is an easy tool for teachers.

Affirmations are positive statements that help you overcome stressful and negative thoughts. They are brief phrases, repeated frequently. When affirmations are repeated often, one’s outlook and thinking patterns begin to change. Positive mental repetitions reprogram our thinking patterns, so that we begin to think and feel differently.

Affirmations have been shown to boost problem-solving abilities and reduce health-deteriorating stress. In addition, they can stimulate ...

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Positive Classroom Community Activities and Ideas


Building a classroom community where students feel included, valued, and supported is every teacher's dream. As educators, we want our students to feel like important members of our classroom community. Of course, this happens naturally in the way we interact with students and the way we celebrate learning in our classrooms. However, I've found that it is also effective to include intentional activities that help students build bonds, develop social emotional learning skills, and foster a positive learning culture. 

Here are a few of my favorite ways to build a positive classroom environment...

Writing notes to students is a wonderful way to let them know how important they are. Many students have a deep desire to be noticed and ...
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Day Before Winter Break ELA Plans

Oh my! This time of year can be so stressful. It's such a challenge to keep students learning and engaged in instruction with winter break on the horizon. That's why I put together a set of free lesson plans that you can use the day before winter break (or any winter day, really).
In the plans you'll find:--- 8 different ELA activities--- Links to all the FREE lesson ideas--- An exclusive This or That Writing Prompt FREEBIE--- Ideas for making the day before break special

Here's the great news...the plans include over 3 hours worth of meaningful and engaging lessons that are perfect for the day before winter break (or after, or any winter day). You can find the ...
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Thanksgiving Lessons and Thanksgiving Activities for Upper Elementary and Middle School Classrooms


If you're looking for Thanksgiving lessons that require students to think, create, and share, then you're in the right place. I'm rounding up my favorite ways to celebrate Thanksgiving in the classroom. These Thanksgiving activities are designed to honor the holiday while teaching students critical listening, speaking, reading, and/or writing skills. In other words, no fluff! 

Your students will love these engaging Thanksgiving lessons, and you'll love that they're already planned for you.

Here's a quick overview of my favorites:

--- Thanksgiving Doodle Poster and Gratitude Leaf Project

--- FREE Listening Comprehension Activity

--- 5 Reading Comprehension Learning Stations

--- Thank You Note Writing and Pockets

--- Parts of Speech Pop Art Turkey Lesson

--- Autumn Poetry ...

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Social Emotional Learning Activities for Upper Elementary and Middle School Students

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has been found to promote academic success and increase students' commitment to school. Generally, there are five key components that make up social emotional learning. These competencies include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and decision making. 

Today, I'd like to focus on ways to help students develop self-awareness. Self-awareness includes one's ability to recognize emotions, have an accurate self-perception, identify strengths, develop confidence, and show self-efficacy. 

Researchers have found that a student's ability to control his or her feelings, thoughts, and behaviors can be linked to academic success. So, let's take a look at some easy ways to help students develop an awareness of their individual characteristics and personal emotions.

All About Me - ...

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Engaging Writing Lessons for Reluctant Writers

Let's face it...classrooms are often filled with reluctant writers. (And if we're being really honest, reluctant teachers of writing). For many students (and teachers) writing is intimidating and often paralyzing. 
It makes sense. There's no real formula for "good" writing. There's no equation for putting together an excellent written piece. The pure openness of writing is often what makes it so overwhelming. Students struggle with where to begin and often where to end, and many times, teachers are right there with their students. Teachers also wonder where to begin and where to end their writing instruction. That's why I'm sharing 5 easy ways to help students love writing
Check out my tried and true ways to make writing FUN. ...
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Valentine's Day Activities for Big Kids

Teachers everywhere know that Valentine's Day always seems to bubble over with anxious anticipation and candy-fueled excitement for many students. There's a unique buzz in the air as students in upper elementary and middle school classrooms navigate Valentine's Day celebrations. That's why I love finding fun ways to harness all that energy with educational games and activities. Capitalizing on all of the excitement is a perfect way to engage students. 

I've put together a list of my favorite Valentine's Day activities and games for big kids. I hope you find some that your students will love!

BONUS: Many of these ideas work for virtual instruction as well!

Fact Hunt - Make learning about Valentine's Day super fun with a fact ...

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Virtual Classroom Activities for Zoom or Video Conferencing Platforms

Games are a tried and true way to engage students. Whether teaching in-person or remotely via a live session like Zoom or Google Meets, teachers know that games, brain breaks, and icebreakers are an awesome way to get students actively involved in learning. With the ever-changing landscape of education, I thought it might be nice to compile some versatile activities that challenge students in really fun ways. Best part? They can work in a virtual or an in-person setting!

These activities encourage students to listen, solve problems, be creative, and practice critical skills. They're designed to be easy to do with little to no prep. You can easily add one of these games to any distance learning lesson as a ...
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The Socially Distanced Classroom: Learning Activities that work with Social Distancing


When I first imagined a socially distant classroom, I had an overwhelming sense of sadness. I was flooded with images of classrooms under "normal" circumstances. I had flashbacks of kids rotating through fun learning stations, playing games together, reading in small groups, completing learning fact hunts, doing hands-on projects, and getting imaginative with their learning. For an instant, I felt like those days were over. 
Then, I remembered the most fundamental truth about educators: "Teachers are innovative." 
I knew it was time to think creatively about instruction. So, I took a deep dive into some of my favorite ways to get kids learning, and guess what? With small tweaks, we can still make learning engaging, motivating, and meaningful...and ...
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Connecting with our Community - How to Create a Robot Hunt

My family needed a project. Nearly a month into social distancing, it was time to figure out a way to connect with the friends that we all missed desperately.

So, I recruited our two boys and my husband to create a robot hunt. I thought we could make some robots, hide them around our town, write some clues for the hidden robots, and share the Robot Scavenger Hunt with our friends. 

Turns out, it worked! Our friends and their families got outside, hunted down some robots, and shared photos with us along the way. We had such a great time doing it, I thought you might want to try it in your own community.

(Click HERE to download the ...
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Tips for Learning at Home - From a Teacher-Mom

I don't know about you, but it felt like Remote Learning came into our household like a tsunami. When we first got word that schools were closing, there was that brief moment before the tsunami hits. It was that strange calm when the ocean recedes, and for a moment, I was like, "OK, yeah, we've got this!" I mean between my husband and I, we have over 30 years of teaching experience. So, while I knew we were going to be faced with the challenges of the new routine and all the sad ripple effects of the pandemic, I felt like the "home school" element was definitely within our wheelhouse. I had visions of home school being just like this... ...
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Lessons, Activities, and Projects to Support Remote Learning

If you're a teacher or a parent looking for fun ways to help kids learn at home, then you're in the right place. I've put together a list of the 10 best ELA activities, lessons, and projects for kids to complete at home. To make it on this list, each resource had to meet this criteria...

--- Kids can complete the work independently.
--- The lessons require no additional planning for teachers and/or parents.
--- The activities are fun and engaging.
--- They are easy to share with families.
--- And most importantly...they tap into critical ELA skills like reading, writing, and grammar.

Some of the resources can be completed digitally. Others, require just a piece of paper and ...
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Ideas for celebrating National Poetry Month in the Classroom

National Poetry Month takes place every April. I'm pretty sure I love the month-long celebration of poets and poems as much as students love a snow day!

National Poetry Month first began in 1996. It is organized by the American Academy of Poets as a way to build awareness and appreciation of poetry.  Since its creation, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world. Wow! Pretty cool, right? Publishers, poets, libraries, and book vendors celebrate National Poetry Month, so it only makes sense for teachers and students to celebrate too.

I've put together a list of really easy ways to celebrate National Poetry Month all April long. In addition, I've compiled my favorite poetry lessons (many ...
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5 things Happy Teachers Do!

Since teaching can be one of the most challenging, exhausting, and downright difficult professions, I thought it might be interesting to figure out exactly what happy teachers are doing to meet the challenges of the teaching profession. I went on search for 5 things happy teachers do. You actually probably do a lot of these things, but I hope that you'll find an idea or two to help you feel a little happier in the classroom.

It's a fact...happy teachers laugh. That's no surprise since science has proven that laughing can lower your blood pressure, improve concentration, and reduce anxiety. Teachers need opportunities to laugh. Of course, it's great if you can laugh at work, but if you really ...
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5 Rules to Break in the Classroom

As teachers we’re pretty amazing at creating rules. We have rules for just about everything. There are rules for how to behave, how to participate, how to get along, how to move, how to speak…well, you get my point. And it’s a good thing. Without rules and guidelines, a classroom and the children in it would go absolutely bonkers. However, as they say, “some rules are meant to be broken.” I’m here to suggest that it might be time to break some of our standard classroom rules and encourage our students to learn in new ways.
If you’re OK with breaking some rules (and being a bit of a rebel), here are just a few rules that you might want ...
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Join the fun!

I absolutely love spoiling teachers! That's why I created the Brain Waves Instruction Club. It's absolutely free and especially for teachers on the hunt for free lessons, activities and resources. Just add your information HERE and you'll receive fun freebies, news, and updates right in your email inbox.

When you sign up, you'll receive a set of 5 creative writing lessons instantly! I love these lessons because they work perfectly in any classroom on any day. They're perfect to leave behind for a substitute teacher too!

Then, every couple of weeks, you can expect more fun freebies. I've put together a set of lessons for special occasions...and it's 40 pages! There are games, homework tips, and ideas to make ...
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Tips for Managing and Handing Back Papers in the Classroom

Do you ever feel like you're drowning under a mountain of students' papers? Sometimes, as a teachers, it feels like we're constantly shuffling and sorting papers. I don't know about you, but after creating a lesson plan and grading students' work, it feels like getting the papers back to students can be a serious hassle. There has to be a better way! And...good news...there is! 
I surveyed a group of dynamic teachers about how they manage and hand back students' papers in their classroom. They came back with some awesome ideas! Check them out...

Setting up a central system of mailboxes is a great way to get materials back to students. Jennifer F. sets up a mailbox for each student. ...
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Mindfulness in the Classroom

Mindfulness is the act of slowing down and noticing what is happening. The purpose of mindfulness is to calm our thoughts and focus on the present moment. 

(GUESS WHAT? I've put together exclusive FREEBIES for mindfulness. Click here to receive them!)

Mindfulness meditation is a way of focusing the mind so that it is fully attending to what’s happening right now, to what we’re doing, and to the space that we’re currently in. Cultivating mindfulness means to be present, to pay attention, and to be aware of our emotions and the way that we respond to them.

Recent neuroscience research points to many benefits of mindfulness meditation: 
   ➧ increased focus
   ➧ a sense of calm
   ➧ decreased stress ...
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