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5 Things Every Student Should Know about Veterans Day

As educators, our mission extends far beyond the confines of textbooks and classroom walls. We are tasked with nurturing young minds, fostering empathy, and instilling a deep sense of civic responsibility in the next generation. That's not always an easy task! One crucial aspect of this duty is teaching our students about the significance of Veterans Day. (Click here for ready-made lessons.)

We all know that Veterans Day is not just another holiday on the calendar. It is a powerful opportunity to instill values of gratitude, respect, and pride in students. In this blog post, I'm sharing essential facts about Veterans Day that you may want to share with your students. You'll also find practical strategies to make this holiday ...

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How to Create a Calm Classroom with Calming Classroom Decor

Have you ever walked into a classroom that was so visually overwhelming it made your head spin? From bright colors to busy patterns, classroom decorations can either enhance or hinder student learning. But did you know that a calming environment can actually have a positive impact on academic performance? Studies have shown that the right classroom decorations can reduce stress, improve focus, and even encourage creativity

SPOILER: I've included a link to a set of FREE calming classroom posters at the end of this post!

Let's delve into the science behind calming classroom decorations, see how to create a calming environment, and explore the benefits of incorporating natural elements into your classroom décor. 

Research has shown that a  ...
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Tips for New Teachers - How to Have a Successful First Year Teaching



Today, I'm sharing a round-up of common mistakes that new, new-ish, and let's face it, even veteran teachers make while teaching. They're considered common for a reason. I guarantee the colleagues you currently admire were making some of the very same mistakes when they started their career. The thing about mistakes is that they are really just learning opportunities. So, take a look at the mistakes, check out the tips to improve, and see how you can turn the mistake into a success. 

Weak or Lacking Classroom Management Skills:

Mistake: New teachers often struggle with establishing and maintaining effective classroom management, leading to disruptions and a loss of instructional time.
Tips to Improve: >>> ...
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4 Sentences Every Middle School Teacher Should Say to the Their Students

Teaching middle school isn't for the faint of heart. Middle school teachers are tasked with providing top-notch instruction to a class full of students facing some of the biggest social, emotional, and physical changes of their lives. Adolescents have unique needs as students. That's why teachers are so critical in their development. 
If you've every found yourself in front of one or thirty teens, and you've wondered what to say to make them feel important, heard, and understood, then check out these research-based sentences that every middle schooler needs to hear.

Adolescents often face self-doubt and uncertainty about their abilities. Self-esteem tends to fluctuate during adolescence. Early adolescence (ages 10-14) often shows a decline in self-esteem as individuals navigate physical ...

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Free Back to School Essentials for Teachers: Get to Know You Activity, Class Syllabus, Homework Helpers and More!

Let's get right to the good news: everything I'm sharing in this post is included in this FREE pack of back to school essentials for teachers. That's right! I've put together a set of free resources to help make your back to school planning a little easier. You can grab the collection of free school start materials right here.

If you're curious about what is included in the beginning of the school year pack, see what's inside below.

First of all, there's a get to know you activity that you can share with students on the first day of school. I'm a big fan of placing an activity on students' desks to complete independently when they arrive to your classroom ...

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Promoting Social-Emotional Learning in Upper Elementary and Middle School Classrooms: Building Strong Classroom Communities

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is a crucial component of education that goes beyond academic achievement. It equips students with the necessary skills to understand and manage their emotions, build positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. 

Social-Emotional Learning refers to the process of acquiring and applying knowledge, attitudes, and skills related to recognizing and managing emotions, developing empathy, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions, and engaging in effective communication. SEL cultivates a safe and nurturing environment that enhances students' overall well-being, academic success, and long-term success in life.

In upper elementary and middle school classrooms, SEL activities play a pivotal role in fostering a supportive and inclusive classroom community. Let's explore the significance of SEL and discover engaging activities that can promote ...

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Long-Range Curriculum Planning for Middle School ELA: A Comprehensive Guide for Teachers

Starting a new school year signals the beginning of a great deal of curriculum planning. Determining what to teach in what order can be overwhelming especially since effective long-range planning is the cornerstone of a successful middle school English Language Arts (ELA) classroom. It allows teachers to set clear goals, create engaging lessons, and ensure a coherent and well-structured curriculum throughout the year. In this blog post, I'm sharing a step-by-step guide on how to complete long-range planning for your middle school ELA curriculum. 

Here's the best news, though! ⤋  ⤋  

I've put together these tips and the tools for long-range planning in the free Back to School Guide for Teachers. Get the 100+ resource filled with ...

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Effective Strategies for Managing Challenging Student Behavior: A Proactive Approach

Managing challenging student behavior is an ongoing concern for teachers. I've had my fair share of difficult students and even classes. Over the years, I found that adopting proactive strategies and maintaining a positive classroom environment, helped me to effectively address and promote positive behavior among my students. Today I'm sharing some strategies to promote positive behavior before, during, and after students misbehave. 


In this post, you'll find my teacher-tested techniques for managing challenging student behavior proactively, dealing with difficult situations in the moment, and building connections with students after misbehavior occurs below. I've also put together a TON of ways to manage behavior in this classroom management pack.

One of the best ways ...

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Classroom Organization Ideas for Back to School - Classroom Hacks

If you're reading this, then you know that setting up a classroom can be a daunting task, and keeping the classroom organized can seem almost impossible. That's where these easy classroom organization hacks come in. They are simple ideas to make your spaces more efficient, and...well...organized. (Oh, and if you're looking for more back to school ideas, grab this FREE guide for teachers filled with nearly 100 pages!)
Here's a round up of 6 easy organization hacks to try in your classroom. 

If there's one thing that classrooms are notorious for, it's having a lot of supplies. Figuring out where to put all the work and craft supplies can be overwhelming. However, you ...
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End of the Year Celebration Ideas for the Last Days of School

As the school year draws to a close, it's fun to celebrate and acknowledge the hard work and achievements of your students. Not only does it provide a sense of accomplishment, but it also creates lasting memories and fosters a positive classroom environment. To help you make the end of the school year memorable, here are eight fun and easy ways to celebrate and honor your students.

Personalized Notes or Letters: Write personalized notes or letters to each of your students, expressing your appreciation for their growth, effort, and positive attitude throughout the year. Highlight specific achievements, moments of resilience, and personal growth that you have observed in them. These heartfelt messages will make each student feel valued and recognized ...

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Ten Easy Ways to Prepare NOW for your NEXT school year

Here's a list of the top ten things that teachers can do at the end of a school year to better prepare themselves for the start of a new school year:

Reflect on the past year: Take some time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the previous year. Identify areas for improvement and set goals for the upcoming year. 

Some questions you might think about include...

--- What key lessons did you learn about yourself this year?

--- What was one of the greatest things you accomplished this school year?

--- List 3 successful lesson, projects, or activities that you implemented this year.

--- What challenges did you overcome this past school year?

--- Are there any areas ...

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Free Cards to Give Students at the End of the School Year - Easy End of Year Gift for Kids

As the school year comes to a close and festive celebrations fill the air, teachers everywhere are searching for the perfect end-of-the-year gesture to express gratitude and appreciation for their students. Amidst the flurry of final projects, report cards, and classroom packing, finding a unique and thoughtful gift idea can be a bit overwhelming. Look no further, dear educators! 
In this blog post, I'm sharing a FREE end of the year gift card that you can give to students. Get it sent to your inbox by adding your information below. Just add your email and then your first name.

    The "sweet" cards are designed to capture your students' hearts but also leave a lasting impression of ...
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    End of the School Year Checklist for Teachers

    Yahoo! If you're reading this then you made it to the end of a school year. That's no small feat! It's not easy guiding students through a year of learning with passion, kindness, and inspiration. You deserve a standing ovation and a little help making the end of the school year as easy as possible. So, I've compiled all the end of the school year tasks that you may want to complete in this post. 

    Don't worry, you can print a downloadable FREE version of the checklist right here. (BONUS! I've included a personal reflection and letter to parents inside the freebie, too).

    Since every classroom is different, some of these tasks may not apply to you and your students. ...

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    Lesson Ideas for Writing a Lead - How to Teach Leads in Writing

    There's no doubt about it...a composition's lead is paramount! Would you read a book with a boring opening? Not me! A story's lead is its first impression, so it must be dynamite! 

    I've put together a FREE lesson for writing a lead that you can grab here. Be sure to download the freebie and then learn all about how I like to teach how to write a lead below.

    STEP 1: Build Background
    Give students background information on what a lead is.  Remind students that when writing and improving their lead sentences, they should consider their audience. 
    Teach students that...
    --- Leads are the beginning sentences of a story or writing piece.

    --- Since the lead is the reader's ...
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    How to Teach Theme - Tips for Teaching Theme in Language Arts

    Theme is such an important concept when teaching reading. Students are asked to determine the theme of a text over and over again. However, many students struggle with how to identify the theme. That's why I'm sharing some of my favorite ways to teach theme. You'll find theme lesson ideas, theme activities, and theme passage suggestions to help your students finally figure out how to find theme! 

    Sometimes when thinking about theme it is easiest to think about what it is not. Theme is NOT the subject of the text. The subject would be a single word like "childhood" or "friendship." It is NOT a summary. A summary would be several sentences describing the text. Instead, it is the ...
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    Free Reading Comprehension Skills Doodle Note Pages


    Reading comprehension skills like making inferences, finding the main idea, and recognizing cause and effect are critical curriculum elements in any ELA classroom. As our students build their reading skills, they need to develop their understanding of 12 different reading comprehension skills. One of my favorite ways to teach students about the reading skills is with doodle notes. 

    Don't worry...I've put together a 20+ page set of doodle notes that you can download for FREE! (Sign up at the bottom of this post!)

    Have you tried doodle notes in your classroom? If so, you know that...

    Doodle notes are a great way to introduce students to important information.

    These doodle notes include definitions for 12 different reading skills. ...

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    How to teach fables - Lesson ideas for writing, reading, and analyzing fables


    Fables are an important part of English Language Arts instruction. The genre, which often includes animals that act like humans and moral lessons, is perfect for targeted lessons in reading, writing, listening, speaking, and analyzing. Classic and modern fables are both entertaining and approachable. Fables also shed light on other cultures, characterization, and moral lessons. Most importantly, they're just plain fun to teach! Here are 6 easy ways to teach fables in your classroom...

    I LOVE giving students a chance to write their very own fable. I recommend starting with mentor texts so that students can become experts on the genre. Then, through targeted writing instruction, students can write their own story that includes a moral, animal characters, story ...
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    Free Valentine's Day Gift Idea - Valentine's Bookmarks


    I love celebrating holidays like Valentine's Day in the classroom. I also love encouraging students to read. So, what's better than a free Valentine's Day gift that combines a Valentine's Day message with a bookmark? Nothing!

    If you agree, then you're going to love this FREE set of Valentine's Day cards that come in the form of bookmarks. 

    Here's why I'm crazy about them...

    --- They are easy to make.

    --- Their message is sweet.

    --- They can be used immediately as a bookmark.

    --- They are perfect to give to students or for students to make for others.

    --- Oh, and best part? They are free and ready to print right here.

    After you print the Valentine's Day ...

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    Creativity in the Social Studies Classroom - Ancient Civilizations

    As a kid in school I loved when my teachers celebrated creativity in the classroom. In fact, when I reflect on my own education, the moments I remember the most were the creative ones.  I vividly remember making salt maps of the state, book report mobiles, models, papier-mâché globes, interactive brochures, puppets, and dioramas.  What about you?  Are the instructional moments that you remember the most tied to creative activities?  There's just something so powerful about hands-on learning with creative opportunities.

    Now, more than ever, in our assessment-focused world of education, it's time to infuse creativity into the classroom!  Check out these fun ways to turn ancient history lessons into creative hands-on learning experiences!

    During this project, ...
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    Writing Activities for Reluctant Writers


    For many students writing can be intimidating and overwhelming. That's why it's essential to provide students with a variety of writing activities to make learning meaningful and rewarding. Here are a few of my favorite ways to make writing engaging for reluctant writers in your classroom.


    Timed writing activities challenge students to race the clock as they write as much as they can during a fixed time period. Students are encouraged to “just write.” There is no pressure for perfection. In fact, the only parameter is that they need to write for the entire time. The fun nature of timed writing activities help students develop confidence as they experiment with the writing craft. Here are a ...

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    Activities and Lesson Ideas for Teaching "A Christmas Carol"


    December always marked five wonderful days of teaching "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens and dramatized by Frederick Gaines in my middle school classroom. The classic tale about choices and the way they impact those around us is meaningful and profound. 

    Since students must navigate through the elements of a drama, the challenging vocabulary, and the historical references in the play, I've created a unit that helps students successfully read and analyze the text. Here are a few of my favorite activities to accompany reading "A Christmas Carol."


    "A Christmas Carol" was published in 1843 in England. Nearly one-third of Londoners were living in poverty at the time. The city of London was dirty and overpopulated as ...

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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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