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Latest from the Blog

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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Core Inspiration job cards attached to classroom whiteboard next to class schedule.

Are Your Classroom Jobs Ineffective? Here's What You Can Do.

Creating an efficient learning environment that feels calm and easy to navigate so students can focus on learning is essential. Many teachers head into the start of a school year ready to welcome their students into a carefully-planned environment, but find themselves struggling to maintain that environment once the school year gets rolling. If this sounds familiar, then it is time to start leveraging the power of classroom jobs and interactive modeling.  Classroom jobs are a fairly common classroom management tool, but they are not often used to their fullest potential. If you have class jobs but still regularly find yourself sitting in a disorganized or untidy classroom when your students head home, then it’s time to revamp the way you introduce those jobs by using interactive modeling.   How to Use Interactive Modeling for Classroom Jobs Interactive modeling helps students understand the exact thinking and skills required for each job

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Core Inspiration Third Grade Classroom Library Shelf

Three Quick Tips for Social Distancing in the Classroom Library

At this point, we have no idea what school will look like come fall or exactly how we’ll need to tweak our routines and expectations to ensure students stay safe and healthy if they return to the classroom. One thing that helps ease the feelings of uncertainty is to think of each space in your classroom and brainstorm ways to maintain the systems you’ve put in place as much as possible with modifications that will help students maintain social distance while at school. The classroom library is an excellent place to start because it requires thoughtful organization that can help to calm nervousness and anxiety, and takes you one step closer to being ready for whatever challenges back to school may bring. Whether you use the classroom library organization system I’ve shared on my blog, or have one you already love, here are three tips for keeping your classroom library up

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Core Inspiration fraction word problem solving task card next to storage box with fractions label and word problem solving recording sheet with specific problem solving steps.

8 Ways To Organize Your Math Problem Solving Task Cards

As you may know, problem solving task cards are one of my favorite learning tools for building students’ ability to solve complex word problems. Over the years, I’ve tried a few methods for keeping my task cards organized, and I wanted to take a moment to share those approaches with those of you who are looking for an efficient way for students to use task cards in your classroom. This post includes affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. Keep in mind, organization systems are not one-size-fits-all, and you may need to try a couple of approaches to organizing your math problem solving tasks before you find the system that best fits the space you have available. You may also find the approach you use from one year to the next needs some tweaking, depending on

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Google Classroom Distance Learning Schedule shown on laptop screen on desk

Tips for Communicating With Parents During Distance Learning

Communication overload is what a lot of teachers are feeling during their distance learning journey. The energy it takes to teach online is a totally different beast. Add in the parent communication demands that have been amplified by this new reality, and you may find yourself with a very empty tank at the end of each day. Many of you have reached out in search of advice on maintaining strong parent communication because you know the powerful impact it has on student participation and success while distance learning. Although I have suggestions on how best to tackle distance learning communication, I’m out on maternity leave and haven’t had the opportunity to test whether any of those ideas would actually be effective. So, I decided to turn to a colleague who is an absolute master of parent communication in the elementary classroom. She is admired by parents, teachers, and administrators at

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Third grade math units being stored in binders to keep unit materials organized for the teacher. Math games stored in page protector within each binder.

Twelve Ways to Organize Your Math Games

An organized classroom is a place where students can focus, feel appreciated, and navigate their learning environment with ease.  Setting up organization systems that can be maintained by you and your students is essential to creating an organized space that lasts. This is especially true for spaces in your classroom that receive heavy use on a daily basis, or have many moving parts, like your math manipulatives and math games.  This post includes affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. Of course, organization systems are not one-size-fits-all, and you may need to try a couple of approaches to organizing your math games before you find the system that best fits the space you have available. To help inspire your organization mission, I’ve curated several ideas from teachers who messaged me on Instagram with pictures and descriptions

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When writing collaborative rules, the teacher takes time to group all the rules written by students into categories without headings.

How to Write the Best Classroom Rules with Your Students

When students are part of the process of creating rules, they have a deeper understanding of them, feel a stronger connection to them, take ownership of them, and hold themselves to a higher standard for following those rules each day. This is why I take time at the beginning of each year to write rules with my students, rather than for my students. I also find great value in revisiting those rules and working together to tweak them throughout the year so a strong environment of respectful and responsible behavior is maintained.  This is an idea I share often in Instagram stories, and one of the most common follow-up questions I am asked is, “How exactly do you create rules with your class?”  This post includes affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. Well, the answer

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I meet with students on our carpet by the front door for reading conferences and word work activities.

3 Ways to Make Small Group Reading Instruction More Productive

Originally posted: February 28, 2016 | Updated: February 20, 2020 About 60% of our second grade day is spent in small group instruction, and our reading block is one of the longest stretches of time when small group instruction is used. Although this teaching approach is highly targeted and differentiated, it is also intense to plan and deliver. Over the past few years, I have evolved from a teacher who dreaded small group instruction to one who fully embraces its undeniable benefits.  The driving force behind this change is organization and the development of unique small group instruction management routines. Rather than dreading every small group transition and feeling exhausted with all the reminders about supplies and groupings I had to give during our reading block, I feel like this time of day is efficient and productive. The three tips below have helped make the management aspect of small group

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Core Inspiration Homework Drop Dox

Homework Drop Box : A Routine To Organize Homework Collection

One of the most exciting parts of being a teacher is having the creative freedom to experiment with routines and procedures that work best for you and your students. The little tweaks we make in our classroom throughout the year create an environment that is more functional and exciting for students. The Evolution of Homework Collection One of the classroom routines you may find yourself tweaking frequently is homework collection. Those first few minutes when students walk into the classroom are filled with a lot of hustle and bustle…and an occasional unexpected surprise. Homework collection should be quick and seamless, but finding an approach that works best for you may take some time. Here are a few approaches I’ve tried in the past: Turn In Bin Students place their homework in a turn in bin. The pros? Homework submission is quick for students. The cons? You may find nameless papers

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Core Inspiration's R.E.S.E.P.E.C.T. mini posters with definitions of each word that is part of the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. acronym next to large R.E.S.P.E.C.T. display poster to be hung in the classroom.

How To Spend Less Time Reteaching Routines After A School Break

After a long school break, it is always important to revisit your classroom routines and expectations with students much like you did during the first weeks of school. Students benefit from reminders about the consistent focus you have on expectations for respect in your classroom. With the use of theR.E.S.P.E.C.T. Classroom Management System, I spend less time reteaching routines after a break. Instead, we spend a quick one-hour session reviewing our guiding principle of respect, and get right back to learning. Here’s a peek at exactly how we make this happen after our long December break when we return to the classroom in January.  Classroom Environment Hopes and Dreams In the morning after students have completed their bellwork and we’ve had a morning meeting, we spend a hour revisiting R.E.S.P.E.C.T. We begin by meeting on the carpet where I ask my students the exact same question they were asked on

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Low cost flexible seating option: lap desks from Michael's allows students to sit anywhere in the room and have a hard surface to work on.

Did You Know Flexible Seating Doesn't Need to be Fancy?

There’s not always a need for fancy chairs or furniture to create flexible seating options in your classroom. In fact, you can arrange your existing classroom furniture and weave in a couple tools that help create more natural flexible seating choices. The options discussed below leave room for students who are interested in working away from their desk, but still create an environment where every student has their own desk – their own home base. Keeping All Learners In Mind When Designing Classroom Seating Something that is often forgotten in today’s focus on flexible seating is the wide variety of learners sitting in our classroom each day. Every year, we have students in our class who find a great deal of comfort in knowing they have a desk with their name on it – a place where they can sit consistently day-to-day. Yes, we should have these students practice flexibility,

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Core Inspiration PowerPoint slide displays on board during tidy up with the detailed tidy up classroom routine written out so students can follow it.

Do You Wish Your Classroom Was More Tidy?

A tidy classroom makes for more a productive learning space, but how do you maintain a tidy classroom? This post is filled with tips for getting your students genuinely involved in maintaining a tidy classroom environment each day so you as a teacher aren’t the only one working hard to maintain organization and tidiness throughout the school year.

Read More »
Core Inspiration job cards attached to classroom whiteboard next to class schedule.

Are Your Classroom Jobs Ineffective? Here's What You Can Do.

Creating an efficient learning environment that feels calm and easy to navigate so students can focus on learning is essential. Many teachers head into the start of a school year ready to welcome their students into a carefully-planned environment, but find themselves struggling to maintain that environment once the school

Read More »
Third grade math units being stored in binders to keep unit materials organized for the teacher. Math games stored in page protector within each binder.

Twelve Ways to Organize Your Math Games

An organized classroom is a place where students can focus, feel appreciated, and navigate their learning environment with ease.  Setting up organization systems that can be maintained by you and your students is essential to creating an organized space that lasts. This is especially true for spaces in your classroom

Read More »
Low cost flexible seating option: lap desks from Michael's allows students to sit anywhere in the room and have a hard surface to work on.

Did You Know Flexible Seating Doesn't Need to be Fancy?

There’s not always a need for fancy chairs or furniture to create flexible seating options in your classroom. In fact, you can arrange your existing classroom furniture and weave in a couple tools that help create more natural flexible seating choices. The options discussed below leave room for students who

Read More »
Core Inspiration PowerPoint slide displays on board during tidy up with the detailed tidy up classroom routine written out so students can follow it.

Do You Wish Your Classroom Was More Tidy?

A tidy classroom makes for more a productive learning space, but how do you maintain a tidy classroom? This post is filled with tips for getting your students genuinely involved in maintaining a tidy classroom environment each day so you as a teacher aren’t the only one working hard to maintain organization and tidiness throughout the school year.

Read More »