Got to Teach!: August 2016

I Can’t “Picture” Myself Teaching Without This!

As teachers we all have a few (or several:-) classroom "must-haves" that we will never be without.  Whether its a special brand of pens or the perfect staple remover, there are those special items that we must have in our classrooms at all time.  I have gotten together with the bloggers over at Upper Elementary Snapshots to tell you about my Classroom Must Haves. Let's face it...these are the things I can't "Picture" myself teaching without! Plus, be sure to check out how to collect lots of "Must Have" freebies and enter our Giveaway at the bottom of this post!

1. Must Have Supply

If there was just ONE classroom management tool I could have, it would definitely be this visual Time Timer. When it comes to teaching time management, this timer is a gem! I use it for unpacking and getting settled in the morning, independent work time, and clean up at the end of the day.  I even use it to keep myself of track while teaching.  

2. Must Have Book

Every year I start my read aloud with Crash by Jerry Spinelli.  The kids LOVE it because its hilarious and the characters are very relatable to both boys and girls.  I love it because it has a powerful message about bullying and friendship, which is perfect for setting the tone of classroom community at the start of the year. 

3. Must Have Resource

I also couldn't "picture" myself teaching without my 5-A-Day Spiral Reviews for Math and Language.  I waste no time previewing and reviewing important concepts with my students.  I begin with whole group lessons where I model and discuss each of the activities. I don't worry too much if there hasn't been a formal lessons on a particular concept; I treat those items more of a preview. After a few weeks, the students really start grasping the format and I can begin to transfer the workload to them. Eventually, when the students are working independently on the review, you will simply spend time correcting and discussing their work in class

4. Must Have FREE Resource

Get your classroom ready with these Common Core Mathematical Practices Posters! They will not only brighten up your room, but they will also serve as a great visual reminder of the 8 practices .

After you've downloaded my freebie be sure to visit each of the blogs below to add 12 more FREE RESOURCES to your own collection of things you can't picture yourself teaching without. Afterwards swing by our collaborative blog, Upper Elementary Snapshots for lots of great content and ideas you can put into practice in your own classrooms as well as a chance to win gift cards to Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Teachers Pay Teachers so you can stock up on your own Classroom Must Haves.

Tips for Teaching Students to Think and Respond with Depth and Complexity.

I recently blogged about engaging your students in critical thinking over at and thought I would expand up this topic with a few tips for implementation.  My above post mainly covered what the 11 "Thinking Tools" of critical thinking look like in the classroom. I made a little "cheat sheet" that you can download for free {HERE}

teaching students to think and respond with depth and complexity

The information can be a bit overwhelming, but I promise you incorporating this into your instruction is WELL worth it.  

Here are a few pointers for you to get started:

1. Print the Critical Thinking at a Glance "cheat sheet" and keep it near you when lesson planning and when having class discussions. It can really help you elicit student responses for each of the "Thinking Tools".

2. Start off with incorporating just a few of these "Thinking Tools" at a time.  Don't even look at the rest, and really just focus on learning and teaching 2-3 at a time.  This is especially important if you teach younger students or students who are completely unfamiliar with these "Thinking Tools".

3. Teach one "Thinking Tool" at a time using something the students are already very familiar with, like a picture book that they have ready multiple times.  I use fairytales for this, but you could also use familiar fables and myths too.

4. These are not just for gifted or high-achieving students.  Make sure you are using these with your English language learners, special needs students, and on-grade level students as well.  They will benefit greatly from these and will really rise to the occasion.  

5. Don't try to hit the ground running.  It's okay to really take your time with implementing these. The benefits will not be lost, I promise you!

6. Head over to my blog post at UpperElementarySnapshots and download the FREE Critical Thinking Bookmarks for a quick and easy tool to use in your classroom.


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