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Latest from the Blog

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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Khan Academy open on Chromebook next to math workshop rotation schedule for the week. Khan Academy tracker is laying on the keyboard of the Chromebook. Core Inspiration Math Workshop transition desk on display on whiteboard in background.

How To Make the Third Week of Math Workshop A Success

This is part three in a series of posts about how I introduce the routines of Math Workshop over the course of three weeks. If you would like to start by reading about the first two weeks of Math Workshop, visit the links below.   Math Workshop Week 1 Math Workshop Week 2 BACKGROUND ABOUT THE THIRD WEEK OF MATH WORKSHOP My goals for the third week of Math Workshop are focused around further solidifying the routines and expectations that we’ve established during the first two weeks, and to introduce a final few routines and tools that boost students’ ability to be self-directed learners so workshop can run at full efficiency. These goals include: Review and solidify expectations for warm-up, mini lessons, at your seat rotation, and hands on rotation. Introduce the technology rotation. Introduce our digital Math Workshop rotation board. Emphasize the thoughtful equity built into our weekly Math

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A Design Challenge Your Students Will Absolutely Love

The end of the school year is such a special time as testing winds down, and you finish teaching those last few standards. You may even find you have little pockets of time throughout your days when you and your students can work to strengthen that special classroom community bond that’s been building throughout the year. One of my favorite ways to savor that last few weeks with my family-away-from-home before they head off for summer break is through design challenges and game play. During my first year of teaching, my teammate introduced me to a simple game. Onto the table she plopped this box of heavily-used index cards that had been folded in every which-way. The crease on each card was grimy grey from all the little hands that had handled them over the years. She grabbed a handful, started folding several cards in half, and then stacked them

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These two versions of the "My Summer Reading Plan" sheet makes goal setting for summer reading easy to differentiate.

The Perfect Activity to End Your Year With Reading

As the school year winds down, some of the most absolutely memorable days of the year are upon us. In most cases, that final week of school is a time when all the standards have been taught, you’ve finished most of your report cards, and you’re starting to organize your room for the summer break. It’s also a time when our young learners are starting to get antsy for the year to end and need more time engaged in flexible, social activities. All these factors make one of those final school days a perfect time to transform a school day into a special learning event called a Reading Summit. This themed school day is dedicated to sharing love for reading, and setting the stage for summer reading. Activity Inspiration For Your Reading Summit Over the years, I have tweaked the schedule for our Reading Summit in third grade, and finally

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I love setting up a different deck for each day of the week so I can easily open the file that matches that day of the week and jump right into efficient classroom transitions during math workshop. I use the rotation planning grid to make setting up slide super easy at the beginning of the year.

This Is How To Make Your Workshop Transitions More Efficient

Workshop teaching is one of the most effective ways to differentiate instruction for the wide variety of learners in your classroom. But with so many moving parts, a workshop classroom can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming for students and teachers. Students need to know what activity they are assigned to work on at any given time, the details of their assignment, and when to move on to the next activity. Without clear directions and smooth transitions, a lot of time can be wasted during your workshop block, leaving you exhausted, and the students with important work left unfinished. Trouble With Transitions During Math Workshop When I first started using Math Workshop in my classroom years ago, transitions were my biggest headache. I would keep a timer on my desk. When it went off, I’d project the groupings for the next assigned activity on the board and signal for students to

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Every Monday morning, my third graders find their job pocket stuffed with class cash. They get paid a salary every week. One of our class jobs (Payroll Courier) is responsible for distributing the cash.

A Classroom Economy Students & Teachers Love

When it comes to classroom management, some of the most common struggles I hear about from teachers are the lack of respect students have for their learning space, and a desire to maintain a more organized classroom. If you are struggling with these, I urge you to consider utilizing well-developed classroom jobs, and a classroom economy system.  Imagine this. After completing a job application, students can be hired for classroom jobs that require detailed responsibilities. These class jobs are designed to help boost student ownership of their learning space, and connect classroom jobs to the real world. In fact, students get paid a salary for each job, which they can save up, or spend to purchase class passes that unlock special in-class experiences.  It is entirely possible for you and your students to work together in very productive ways to create a home away from home that is enjoyed and

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Math problem solving task card teacher feedback sheet freebie.

An Easy Way To Boost Math Problem Solving Skills

Math Problem Solving Task Cards are one of the most productive tools for helping students build a deeper understanding of math concepts. These unique task cards include a variety of word problems that require students to utilize problem solving skills, critical thinking, precise modeling, and get routine practice with explaining their reasoning. Each day during Math Workshop, students are given time to work on these rigorous task so they can connect the math skills they are learning to real world situations. This post contains affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. To make the most of this tool, and rapidly build your students’ problem solving skills, it is essential that students are given time to engage with these tasks on a routine basis. This post includes a break down of the math task card routines and

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Core Inspiration Spring Umbrella Art Project

Welcome Spring to Your Classroom With A Little Umbrella Art

Spring is right around the corner, and those snowmen hanging on your classroom walls are probably starting to make you feel a little antsy to leave winter behind. This umbrella art project is the perfect way to freshen up your classroom as you welcome little rain drops and sprouting flowers to your school days. I discovered this project on Pinterest a few years ago. Those pins simply link to digital student art portfolios from a classroom in Maryland, so I thought I’d take a moment to share the steps my students followed to recreate this spring favorite. This post contains affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. Step 1: Design An Umbrella On the first day of this two-day project, my students each design a unique umbrella using cardstock paper and tempera paint (affiliate link). Here

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Individual project based learning planning sheet to hold enrichment students accountable when working independently on a PBL unit.

How To Make PBL Manageable With Math Workshop

One of the most common questions teachers send me on Instagram is, “How do you find the time to teach your math curriculum, do Math Workshop, and do project based learning?” My answer is always the same as I explain these three parts of my math instruction are not separate entities, they are all done together during Math Workshop. Since this question is becoming more and more common, I wanted to take some time to explain in detail how I integrate project based learning into Math Workshop. Many teachers have the misconception that project based learning is something you have to do on top of your regular instruction and Math Workshop routine. In fact, it can be something that enriches your regular instruction, and replaces some of the more routine tasks you may be doing during a particular unit. In my third grade classroom, PBL units replace rigorous problem solving

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Photo of student supply area to show how the area should be organized at the end of the day. Easy tip for getting students involved in keeping the classroom organized each day.

How Can You Get Your Classroom Amazingly Organized?

An organized classroom runs like a well-oiled machine, and you don’t have to be the only one maintaining that machine. The most organized classrooms are made that way because of collaboration between the teacher and the students. You’re all using the space, so it makes sense you work together to organize and maintain it. This post contains affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase. My secret to maintaining a classroom that is extremely well-organized is a simple recipe.   Step 1: Thoughtfully set up organization systems Step 2: Model how to use these systems Step 3: Give students time to practice these systems while you provide immediate feedback Step 4: Carefully teach students how they will help maintain organization systems each day during tidy up time Here is a peek into how you can collaborate with

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A Design Challenge Your Students Will Absolutely Love

The end of the school year is such a special time as testing winds down, and you finish teaching those last few standards. You may even find you have little pockets of time throughout your days when you and your students can work to strengthen that special classroom community bond

Read More »
These two versions of the "My Summer Reading Plan" sheet makes goal setting for summer reading easy to differentiate.

The Perfect Activity to End Your Year With Reading

As the school year winds down, some of the most absolutely memorable days of the year are upon us. In most cases, that final week of school is a time when all the standards have been taught, you’ve finished most of your report cards, and you’re starting to organize your

Read More »
Every Monday morning, my third graders find their job pocket stuffed with class cash. They get paid a salary every week. One of our class jobs (Payroll Courier) is responsible for distributing the cash.

A Classroom Economy Students & Teachers Love

When it comes to classroom management, some of the most common struggles I hear about from teachers are the lack of respect students have for their learning space, and a desire to maintain a more organized classroom. If you are struggling with these, I urge you to consider utilizing well-developed

Read More »
Math problem solving task card teacher feedback sheet freebie.

An Easy Way To Boost Math Problem Solving Skills

Math Problem Solving Task Cards are one of the most productive tools for helping students build a deeper understanding of math concepts. These unique task cards include a variety of word problems that require students to utilize problem solving skills, critical thinking, precise modeling, and get routine practice with explaining

Read More »
Individual project based learning planning sheet to hold enrichment students accountable when working independently on a PBL unit.

How To Make PBL Manageable With Math Workshop

One of the most common questions teachers send me on Instagram is, “How do you find the time to teach your math curriculum, do Math Workshop, and do project based learning?” My answer is always the same as I explain these three parts of my math instruction are not separate

Read More »
Photo of student supply area to show how the area should be organized at the end of the day. Easy tip for getting students involved in keeping the classroom organized each day.

How Can You Get Your Classroom Amazingly Organized?

An organized classroom runs like a well-oiled machine, and you don’t have to be the only one maintaining that machine. The most organized classrooms are made that way because of collaboration between the teacher and the students. You’re all using the space, so it makes sense you work together to

Read More »