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 There aren't many words to describe the year that was 2020. As educators, we learned and grew so much! If you didn't know about Google Classroom, Nearpod, Bitmojis, Screencastomatic or Zoom (just to name a few) before March of 2020, you definitely climbed that learning curve! I have been so proud of my fellow teachers in all that they have learned, never skipping a beat. When the rest of the world was shut down, here we were learning how to teach and do what was best in our circumstances for our students. Wow.

So where do we go from there? Many schools are returning back in person, I have been back in person since October 2020, with all my students being in person. I know many teachers who are continuing to expand their bag of tricks with teaching both in person students, as well as online learners (at the same time). Some fellow educators are teaching a hybrid A-B schedule, and some of my friends are also still teaching from home with their students being all online. 

So now that I am back in person, have I mentally blocked everything I experienced and learned in the past year? Well some things LOL, but definitely not those great teaching practices that have helped me to enhance engagement and my teaching within the classroom. Here are some things I found really have been lifesavers while returning back to in person learning after COVID.

First and foremost, Google Classroom. Posting assignments within Google classroom has been a sanity saver, especially for students who are absent or missing work. I also love being able to post links to websites or articles that students can access without having to print everything. I have my Google Classroom set up by days of the week, then after the week is over I will create a new topic (that week's date, for example 'Week of March 1st') and then I will move assignments from the M, Tu, W, Th, Fr topics down to that 'Week of' topic. Google Classroom is super user friendly, and absolutely my top pick for what I've continued to use within my classroom, even with all my students face to face. 

My Bitmoji classrooms are another favorite, and not just a favorite of mine, but also my students. I love how you can use the Bitmoji classrooms for a variety of uses. What we used to do around the room SCOOT, with task cards posted, and a recording sheet, students can now do a SCOOT within the Bitmoji classroom. I also have independent reading and reflecting centers, for students to listen to a book being read, and then respond to it--- this is a crowd favorite among my students. I've created new Bitmoji classrooms each month, and they enjoy listening to the books and different themes featured each month. Another use for the Bitmoji classrooms is if you have a class website within Google Sites. Kids enjoy and take pride in their class website.

I have to say I was not on the Nearpod bandwagon when I first learned about it a few years ago. Probably because I thought I didn't have the time to learn this new stuff!! I learned about Nearpod the beginning of last school year, before COVID hit and I'm so glad I did. Not only does Nearpod have a library of already created lessons, but you are also able to create lessons within Nearpod, this is so cool!! My kids love to compete, so they love the time to climb lessons, and beg me to make more every time we play!

What have you found that are your favorite tools that you are using, or plan to use when you return back to in person teaching?! I'd love to hear about it!

Getting ready to start a unit on fractions?! Hands-on and providing opportunities for young learners to make meaning of their learning is my top priority. Whether you are teaching second grade, or fifth grade, or any in between, I know you can use these ideas for your students. Here are my favorites tools and go-to manipulative with teaching fractions to my elementary students. This blog post contains affiliate links and when you click on the products and choose to purchase them, I will make a small commission.

Fraction Action is wonderful in increasing student's vocabulary on fractions! Vocabulary is essential in helping students grasp the concepts. Lots of different examples to show students fractions in various ways.

Fraction Fun is a great book that makes the concept of fractions easy for students to understand. This book dives into numerators and denominators and the beginnings of comparing fractions!

Full House is a fun, whimsical way of reinforcing the concept of fractions! I would suggest this book more for primary though as concepts are basic.

The Lion's Share was one of the first books I purchased for my teacher read aloud library, so this one holds a special place in my heart! This is a great story that visually helps students to see the value of different fractions.

Fractions in Disguise is another book I purchased years ago, as an elementary ed teacher I wanted as many books as I could get to build my teacher library. This book introduces simplified and reduced fractions with equal parts, so I would suggest this for grades 4-6. 

Sir Cumference and the Fraction Faire is another book I enjoy reading to my students. This teaches the basics of fractions to elementary students. I enjoy all the Sir Cumference math tales!

This is another line of math texts I love! Pigs in the Pantry: Fun with Math and Cooking makes the connection between qualities and cooking in recipes. This would not be the text I would base my fraction teaching from, but more of a fun book to add into the instructional unit!

Fraction tower cubes are a great hands-on way for students to compare the fractional units, as well as explore with equivalent fractions. This would be great for homeschooling families, or as an exploration center within a classroom.

Magnetic fraction circles is another great hands-on tool to help students visualize and see the fractional sizes. These are durable and great for teacher and student use alike.

Pattern blocks are a great way for students to create alternative models of a fraction. If the yellow hexagon is their whole, how could they recreate that hexagon shape by using alternative shapes? What fraction of the whole would one of those shapes be?

Plastic fraction tiles is another great hands-on manipulative that allows children to line up the fractions to visually see how many eighths fit into a whole, or how many sixths fit into a half. 

Hopefully you've found some new tools or texts that you will be able in teaching your students about fractions! Let me know if you have any favorites I've forgotten!

With most of teachers teaching remotely, I thought I'd share some advice, as to what things are must haves for teachings working remotely during this distance learning time!

Teaching from home, in some sense, has been a joy! I get to see my own children learn new things and interact with their teacher and classmates on Google Meetings. But something that I have found most beneficial for me is headphones, so I can hear meetings, co-workers, and students more clearly!

This mint/gray pair of Elecder i39 Headphones with Microphone sells on Amazon for $18.99. They are adjustable and have a built in microphone. I have not used this brand, but they have decent reviews. They also come in a wide range of colors!

These Sony ZX Series Wired On-Ear Headphones are the ones I have been using this week. They sell on Amazon on about $18.49. I haven't found them to be the most comfortable headphones though. And to be honest, I've only been using them because my earbuds have been misplaced!!

Another item that I have found to be essential is the ability to communicate with my students through video. My computer, a Mac Book Air, has a built in camera, so I have been able to use that. But if you are in need of a relatively inexpensive webcam, here are some ideas:

 This KLJKUJ Webams HD Computer Camera with Absorption Microphone sells on Amazon for less than $8. It's ad claims that it can be used on both laptops and desktops.

This FENGTING HD Webcam is also made for laptops and desktops. It is more expensive, as it sells on Amazon for $26. The camera is also rotatable 360 degrees.

If you are wanting to show your kids how to do something, for example, highlight a text, or write an informational paragraph, a doc camera is what you would use in your classroom, but here are some inexpensive options for at home:

This cellphone/iPad holder isn't quite a document camera, however it holds your phone, and allows your to take videos/pictures as a doc camera would, and it's not as pricey, it costs $18 on Amazon.

This portable camera also sells on Amazon, for a bit heftier price of $50. It has a built-in microphone, and is versatile for taking pictures, video conferencing, creating time lapse videos.

What about some ideas to use with your student? My students loved Prodigy back before we were learning remotely. You can math standards for a certain date range, and they answer questions based off that standard, and you can look at their data how they are performing and what areas they are struggling in. My students also love Mystery Science. They have some great videos and the content is high interest! Another essential I have found while using Google Classroom platform is a daily slide agenda, as shown here:

These slides are editable, as well as there are different color options. My students see this on our daily stream and they know what they have to get done for the day.

I have been creating resources on Teachers Pay Teachers since 2013, and in 2017 I started creating Interactive, Paperless Resources  in order to use them in my classroom and in Google Slides and Google Classroom. I have created over 50 resources that you can send you students through Google Classroom, Microsoft OneDrive, or just through email or link. 

If you have any other suggestions what has worked for you during these #distancelearning days, please feel free to post below! This post contains affiliate links that I make a small commission from when you choose to click the link and purchase the products, thank you~ 

During our most recent trip to the library, Alexa, my 6 year old kindergarten chose a handful a books, some she could attempt to read, and others she chose with the intent of me reading to her. But I thought I would share these books that peaked her interest. 

The first book she chose was one that she read at school, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. He is a wonderful author, and I know I own quite a few of his books in my classroom library at school. Chrysanthemum is a funny and honest school story about teasing, self-esteem, and acceptance, perfect for any time of year. Chrysanthemum thinks her name is perfect, until her classmates begin to make fun of her. This book is a favorite of both Alexa and I.

The next book Alexa chose was one that she skimmed through and felt confident she would be able to read most of it, it is titled, Bunny will not Smile by Jason Tharp. Bunny will not smile no matter what his friend Big tries, Alexa laughed her way through the silliness of this Level 1 Ready to Read book.

The next book Alexa chose because of the cover, she longs for snow living in Florida, so she wanted a book that had snow in it. This book is titled, The Winter Visitors by Karel Hayes. This story takes place at a summer cottage once the visitors have left for the winter. Much information is gained from the pictures as there are very few words throughout the story, but it lends itself to relying on the pictures to tell the story. 

Alexa chose this book, Tales for Very Picky Eaters by Josh Schneider, because she said it reminded her of her Uncle! This ridiculous tale, of the main character James, taught a valuable lesson that we should always try new things! This is a short chapter book, wonderful for newer readers.

Alexa also chose this book Biscuit's Big Friend by Alyssa Satin Capucilli with the intent of reading it without 'mommy's help'! This book is from the series of I can read, using basic language, word repetition, sight words, perfect for emerging readers!

Alexa chose this book, Step into Reading Disney Frozen 2 Spirits of Nature because she is probably the only 6 year old that hasn't gotten to see Frozen 2 yet, or at least that's what she tells me! Step 2 Readers use basic vocabulary and short sentences to tell simple stories.

The last book Alexa chose this week at the library was The Snow Lion by Jim Helmore and Richard Jones. Again Alexa chose this book because it had the word snow in the title. This story is about making new friends and is encouraging to shy or lonely readers. 

I hope you enjoyed Alexa's selection of books she picked out this week! Have a wonderful day!
Y'all I ain't gonna lie. It has been a hot minute since I've been an ELA teacher, 3 school years in fact. I enjoyed my time teaching science and math, as I feel like that is my stronger content, but the past 60 few days teaching all subjects has been a pretty fun challenge. 

We had been working with cause and effect, and I really wanted to challenge my kids. I work at a PYP (Primary Years Programme), and we really encourage thinking globally, creating inquiry based lessons to challenge the students with real-world tasks and problems. When I first kicked off cause and effect, I showed 3 different images and had students turn and talk, as to what they thought the connection was with the items. I showed them a stove, a pumpkin, and an empty pie pan. I wanted them to make the connection of pumpkin pie. On day 2 I showed them 3 more images, candles, a cake, and balloons, and wanted them to make the connection of a birthday party. I created this interactive making connections you can use whole group, or send to your students through google classroom and have them complete it. Then I had them create their own clues, and within one of our centers, students used post-it notes to guess what the connection of their classmate was. 

Our overall unit has been about Energy, and our first line of inquiry has been the different forms of Energy, so one of the books I read aloud to the students was 

Then the next day, I placed 9 different brown paper bags around the room. I had the students work with partners (works out since I have 18 students currently), and set the timer for them to spend 2 minutes at each bag. They looked at the items in each bag (around 3-5 items) and they were to determine what the connection was. 

A few days later I placed different effects around the room, and had students worked with their partner to once again travel to the different bags and write on sticky notes what were the causes of the effects. 

Then we went back to the book we read aloud, Energy Makes things Happen, and I gave each group a page and they were to find a cause/effect relationship from the page they were given.

I gave them around 7-8 minutes to find this in their text and label the cause and the effect. They did really well! 

Finally, I had them think about all the different cause and effect relationships we had talked about over the course of the last few weeks. We shared out some we remembered, and then I had them write one down to add to our anchor chart shown below.

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