Latest from the Blog

A sheet titled "Classroom Volunteer Record" laying on the teacher's desk next to several sign up sheets that have been completed by parents to show their interest in volunteering in the classroom.

Classroom Volunteer Organization and Scheduling

Parent and family volunteers are a major asset to any classroom. Here at the start of the year, many afternoons are filled communicating with volunteers about expectations, scheduling and training. When bringing parent volunteering into the classroom, it’s important to dedicate time and effort toward creating routines and expectations for each of them so they fit right in with your respectful classroom environment and are an asset for the entire year. Taking this approach helps your volunteers become an integral part of your classroom community. There are three vital elements in developing a strong and effective volunteer presence in your classroom: communicating needs, syncing schedules, and introducing routines and expectations. STEP 1: COMMUNICATING NEEDS Make a list of each area you would like support in and that you know can be successfully managed by the parents in your classroom. Once you have your inevitably long list, narrow it down to

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Four Simple Back to School Parent Communication Tips

Focusing on parent communication during the first week of school can help you build trust in your classroom community. It can also make your entire school year immensely easier because parents will begin to see you as an organized, proactive expert. A strong start in the communication department really helps ease back to school nervousness parents experience as they get to know their child’s new teacher. You’ll spend less time fielding parent questions, sitting in parent meetings, and answering parent emails.  So how can you establish this strong start? Communicate with families multiple times during those first few days of the school year. This helps you set the standard for open communication and lets the families in your class know routine updates are something they can expect from you. Here are four methods of communication I use during the first week of each school year to do just that.   First:

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Five Favorite Activities for the First Day of Elementary School

Originally posted on August 2, 2015 | Updated on: July 19, 2021 Elementary students are filled with enthusiasm and powerful emotions. Harnessing those attributes in productive ways can be a full-time job in and of itself, which is why the first weeks of school leave us feeling teacher tired like no other time of year. As you head into a year of teaching, keep in mind, the ultimate goals of the first day of elementary school are simple: Make sure each student eats something at some point during the day.  Make sure everyone gets home safely.  Accomplish both of the above goals without any tears.  I’m only slightly joking. Realistically, you will accomplish much more than those three basics, and doing so takes careful planning. Below, I’ve shared five of my favorite first day activities for elementary school. These activities help me accomplish the deeper goals I set for the

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Number of the Day Morning Routine

Planning For An Efficient Morning Routine In the Classroom

Originally posted on: August 21, 2016 | Updated on: June 25, 2021 One of the greatest challenges we face as teachers is finding enough time for all the instruction we need to fit in. Oftentimes, we feel there is a need to hurry on to the next topic once we see a student has reached their learning goal. Unfortunately, this seemingly relentless need to move on robs many learners of their infinitely more important need to go back and review concepts. We learn quickly that in order to make room for the spiral review students need, we need to hit the ground running each morning when they arrive in the classroom. MY OLD APPROACH TO MORNING WORK During my first four years as a third grade teacher, I consistently made room for math spiral review during morning work. At that time, I used the spiral review materials included in our

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Core Inspiration Camp Array Multiplication Project Laying Next to Math Project File Bin

Four Tips for Organizing Math Project Materials In Your Classroom

Helping young learners stay organized during a multi-day project doesn’t have to be a challenge. With a little planning and visualizing, you can easily create organizational structures in your classroom that will help your students stay organized. You no longer have to feel like the project has completely overtaken your learning environment. Four areas I urge you to consider when planning the logistics for your PBL unit include: Distributing Materials Organizing Work in Progress Tracking Student Progress Incorporating the Project into Your Schedule This post includes affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. Distributing Project Materials When prepping for your project, you can print all the materials students will need in order to complete the project and place them in a folder. On the project launch day, students label one pocket of the folder “Materials I’ll

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Core Inspiration's desk elf classroom job card with desk elf checklist and bowl of tidy up tickets sitting on a white table.

How To Manage Your End-of-Day Classroom Tidy Up Routine

Tidying and organizing your classroom shouldn’t be something that takes much of your teacher time. Your students share the space with you and they should share the responsibility of keeping it clean/getting it ready for learning each day. When your students work with you to keep the space clean, there’s more time for planning, prepping, and making each day in the classroom more engaging for your students, which motivates them to care for their environment.  This is something you have heard me talk about time and time again, especially on Instagram stories. Each time I talk about this topic, I receive several messages about how I approach tidy up time at the end of each day so this collaborative effort to care for the classroom environment is a success. I hope seeing my answers to these questions in one place paints a complete picture of my approach to tidy up

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Math workshop parent communication cover sheet laying on top of blue weekly work folder next to file bin with weekly student work.

Five Tools To Help You Communicate With Parents About Their Child’s Progress During Math Workshop

These five communication tools make it easier for you to consistently share student progress about math understanding with families. If you love using hands-on learning, multi-step projects, and work that students refer to multiple times throughout the unit so they can build on their learning and deepen their understanding, these tools are for you! Each tool is designed to keep parents in the loop with what their child is learning and how they are progressing in your workshop-style classroom.

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Metal file bin with group 1, 2, 3, and 4 files containing different word sorts copied on different colors of paper.

Prep for An Entire Trimester of Word Work in 30 Minutes or Less

When Words Their Way is first introduced to you, it can feel a bit overwhelming. Wrapping your head around how to best organize and prep all the differentiated word sorts students will be working on from week to week takes a bit of trial and error.  In hopes of saving you a bit of time, here is a breakdown of exactly how I organize and prep word work. Using this system has made word study one of the easiest things to differentiate each day in my classroom.  Creating Differentiated Groups Based on Assessment Data After giving the Johnston’s spelling assessment to my students, I use the Words Their Way Spelling Inventory Feature Guide to record any errors they’ve made on the assessment. You can find these feature guides in Appendix A of the Words Their Way overview book.  I use the same feature guide for each student the whole school

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Five Classroom Tips for Channeling Student Excitement During the Holidays

Have you ever noticed your students get a little more excited than usual during the days leading up to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas? Do I even need to ask?  It’s inevitable really…and who can blame them? For many of your students, the weeks at the end of the calendar year are filled with special activities with family and friends, stores filled with holiday goodies, and commercials reminding us of the festivities to come.  So, how do we channel that excited energy and continue with productive learning in the classroom? Here are a few of my favorite tips.  Consistency is Key  Stick to your consistent classroom schedule. During years when I’ve abandoned my regular schedule structure to try a theme day or to create longer blocks of time to work on a special project, I’ve found my students become overwhelmed and struggle to focus. With all the excitement and special activities

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Math In Motion Divide and Conquer featured in a math games demo round.

Three Tips For Making Math Games A Success

I’ll never forget the first time I tried incorporating games into my math block. It was my first year of teaching, and I had all the right intentions, but the execution was a total disaster. Sound familiar? My plan was to teach a math lesson to the whole class, and then have my students rotate to different activity centers: a center where they would meet with me, one where they’d play games, and one where they’d complete their seat work. It was essentially Math Workshop before I knew Math Workshop existed.  After briefly introducing each center that morning, I taught a whole-class math lesson and sent everyone to their first math rotation. My students headed to their activities with excitement, and I sat down in front of the small group I planned to work with.  What It Looked like when math games failed Within the first minute, confused stares turned toward me

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How To Transform Your Closet into the Ultimate Teacher Home Office

One of the first things you’ll notice when you walk into my classroom is how much I adore using organizational tools from The Container Store. I always save up to purchase a couple special items for my classroom each year from their amazing selection. Over the past ten years, I’ve been able to slowly-but-surely design a learning environment that meets my organizational dreams and helps students work as self-directed learners. That organized space is something I’ve been missing dearly since I’ve started working from home. A few weeks ago, I mustered up the courage to reach out to The Container Store and ask if they might be interested in collaborating to organize the classroom supplies that are now part of my home office. My love for their company multiplied when I quickly received an enthusiastic response from their team and we leapt into a very exciting work-from-home project designed to inspire

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A sheet titled "Classroom Volunteer Record" laying on the teacher's desk next to several sign up sheets that have been completed by parents to show their interest in volunteering in the classroom.

Classroom Volunteer Organization and Scheduling

Parent and family volunteers are a major asset to any classroom. Here at the start of the year, many afternoons are filled communicating with volunteers about expectations, scheduling and training. When bringing parent volunteering into the classroom, it’s important to dedicate time and effort toward creating routines and expectations for

Read More »

Four Simple Back to School Parent Communication Tips

Focusing on parent communication during the first week of school can help you build trust in your classroom community. It can also make your entire school year immensely easier because parents will begin to see you as an organized, proactive expert. A strong start in the communication department really helps

Read More »
Core Inspiration's desk elf classroom job card with desk elf checklist and bowl of tidy up tickets sitting on a white table.

How To Manage Your End-of-Day Classroom Tidy Up Routine

Tidying and organizing your classroom shouldn’t be something that takes much of your teacher time. Your students share the space with you and they should share the responsibility of keeping it clean/getting it ready for learning each day. When your students work with you to keep the space clean, there’s

Read More »
Math workshop parent communication cover sheet laying on top of blue weekly work folder next to file bin with weekly student work.

Five Tools To Help You Communicate With Parents About Their Child’s Progress During Math Workshop

These five communication tools make it easier for you to consistently share student progress about math understanding with families. If you love using hands-on learning, multi-step projects, and work that students refer to multiple times throughout the unit so they can build on their learning and deepen their understanding, these tools are for you! Each tool is designed to keep parents in the loop with what their child is learning and how they are progressing in your workshop-style classroom.

Read More »
Math In Motion Divide and Conquer featured in a math games demo round.

Three Tips For Making Math Games A Success

I’ll never forget the first time I tried incorporating games into my math block. It was my first year of teaching, and I had all the right intentions, but the execution was a total disaster. Sound familiar? My plan was to teach a math lesson to the whole class, and

Read More »