4 No Opt Out Strategies to Increase Student Participation

Mrs. Miller is in the middle of a thrilling lesson on symbolism when she asks the class what types of symbolism they noticed in chapter 12.

She scans the room, and her eyes lock on Billy, who just happens to be looking at anything and anyone other than Mrs. Miller.

"Billy, what types of symbolism did you notice in chapter 12?"

Billy thinks for a moment, he scans the room and locks eyes with a few of his peers as if to silently say, HELP. After a few moments Billy realizes no one is coming to his aid and he responds to Mrs. Millers question with, "um, I don't know.

As teachers we have all experienced moments similar to this interaction with Billy. The question is, what do we do when a student is reluctant or unable to answer a question?

How to Give Feedback to Boost Student Achievement

In Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain, Zaretta Hammond states that "feedback is one of the most powerful tools we have to improve learning." Without quality feedback it is impossible to improve in a skill.

On the other hand simply providing feedback doesn't necessarily equal change. The feedback must be accepted by the learner and put into practice.

So then how do we harness the power of feedback to boost student achievement? The following are four characteristics of quality feedback:

10 Organization Tips for Back to School

Can you believe tomorrow will be July 1st?

It is getting to that point in the summer when teachers start thinking about classroom setup and organization. I have been on Instagram all summer in search of quick and easy organizational tools for teachers.

Here are my top 10 picks to help teachers rock their back to school organization!

Getting Students to Buy-In On the First Day of School

Student buy-in is one of the most important components of a successful school year. If there is no student-buy with regard to the class mission and values at the beginning of the year the result can be fatal. This is a sad reality considering that student buy-in can be achieved in just a few minutes of the day through purposeful planning and student interaction. This starts on the first day on school!

The following are just a few ways to ensure student buy in on the first day of school.

4 Things to Do For a Stress-Free Back to School

Summer has finally arrived, and unfortunately it will fly by before we know it. I have been spending some time this week getting organized for next year in order to avoid that back to school stress. Although it seems like a chore to work on school over break, I actually feel less stressed. In turn, feeling less stressed is actually allowing me to enjoy my summer more since I am not constantly worried about my To-Do list piling up.

Here are just a few of the things (4 to be exact) that I have been doing in order to set myself up for a less stressed back to school!

How to Use Fidget Spinners in the Classroom

By now I'm sure the fidget spinner craze has made it's way to your classroom. Perhaps you are enjoying your summer break right now hoping to not come in contact with another spinner EVER or at least not until school starts up again.

However, if your are like me, you have been looking for as many ways as possible to turn these fidget spinners into motivating learning activities. Here are just a few of the activities my students completed this school year with fidget spinners.

How to Keep the Peace at the End of the School Year

Towards the end of the year, the increase in "tattling" is inevitable. The students are growing restless as the end is near. They've spent the last nine months together and need a break. Kids are getting on each others' nerves now more than ever. The little stuff that didn't bother them at the beginning of the year is now constantly being brought up, and things that didn't seem like such a big deal at the beginning of the year have now become major issues.

FREE and Engaging End of the Year STEM Project!

Congratulations you have almost made it to the end of the school year! As you begin wrapping up standardized testing season I'm sure you have begun to experience the burn out that is common around this time in the school year. Your kids are experiencing it as well. Why not take some time to recharge? Why not spend some time reigniting your students' passion for learning? Why not try an engaging STEM project???!!

Jelly Bean Bottle Flipping STEM Activity

Have you seen the water bottle flipping sensation buzzing around the internet?

It has even made its way into our schools and students have picked up the habit. As a third grade teacher I have noticed my students flipping their milk cartons at lunch and breakfast, and it drives me CRAZY!

However, as the old saying goes, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!" That is why I have decided to turn this obsession into a learning opportunity by creating...Jelly Bean Bottle Flipping STEM!

Spring STEM: Egg Drop Challenge

Spring has finally arrived! One of my favorite things about spring is the return of warmer weather which as teachers we all know what that means...the return of outdoor recess! I am doing a little  happy dance in my head just thinking about it.

The warmer weather also provides opportunities to get outside with your students for some hands-on learning experiences.

 Why not take advantage of the warmer weather by having your class complete a spring themed STEM challenge?!

How NOT to Reward Your Students!

There are so many different philosophies surrounding student rewards. As a busy teacher, it can be so easy to gravitate towards what is most comfortable or the latest trends rather than best practice.

Last year I began teaching at a new school that frowned upon the use of a treasure chest. Despite knowing that fact I had a hard time letting go of my old friend. In fact, I actually continued to use it despite the school policy. (Shh! Don't tell my principal.) 

This year I finally got the courage to ditch my treasure chest. The following are FIVE ways to NOT reward your students that I learned in the process.