Latest from the Blog

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.

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Core Inspiration problem solving challenge task sign next to challenging math problem solving task for third grade and sample recording sheet with model and math reasoning written in complete sentences.

3 Ways To Challenge Your Advanced Students During Math Workshop

Your math block is likely a time of day when your advanced learners stand out like a sore thumb if you don’t have the resources to keep their brains stimulated. Often times, these learners become disinterested or disengaged because they are bogged down with busy work when they meet expectations and demonstrate mastery early on in a unit. At times this can result in a subject where they demonstrate great talent and ability becoming a student’s least favorite time of the school day.  Keeping advanced math minds genuinely engaged requires us as teachers to create an environment where being “done” is not a focal point. Instead, structure your learning block in a way that the entire spectrum of learners has more options than they can possibly complete, and a deep variety of learning activities to demonstrate their understanding each day.  After you’ve built a strong collection of learning activities, create

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These monthly unit bins are perfect for keeping art projects and seasonal projects in good condition without the need for a filing cabinet.

Teacher Organization Ideas To Help You Declutter Your Classroom

Many teachers reach out to me with questions about how to minimize paper clutter in the classroom and keep their unit resources organized. When it comes to organizing your teaching resources, it’s helpful to find an organization system that will help you store the essentials and force you to tidy up routinely so paper clutter doesn’t build up in the first place. Here are my favorite organization tips for four categories in your classroom.  Organizing Your Teacher Reference Books Begin by looking through all your teacher reference books. Get a little Marie Kondo status by picking up each book and thinking about whether or not you have referenced it during the past year or two. If you haven’t used it, place it in a pile to donate. There are other teachers who may need that resource and it’s not doing anybody any good sitting on your shelf for years without

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Core Inspiration Respect Poster up close shot. A perfect tool for helping teachers build a respectful community while focusing on social emotional learning.

What Happens When You Focus on Building Respect In Your Classroom

Strong classroom management is one of the critical components to making your life as a teacher more smooth and enjoyable. No matter where you fall on the classroom management spectrum – from “My classroom is a zen, well-oiled machine” to, “I never feel my classroom is in control…maybe I’m not cut out for this teaching thing”, it is possible for you to transform your classroom into a space where respect is the core focus, and students are more intrinsically motivated.  This post contains affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. Over the past ten years in the classroom, my classroom management has evolved, and will continue to do so. I have had the opportunity to learn from many students who require very heavy behavior supports, and from those who easily adapt in any learning environment.  What

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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

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 »