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Morning Work Made Easy!

Morning work.  It's that love-hate relationship, am I right?  You want something students can complete independently, but you want it to be meaningful.  You want something engaging, but you want it skill-related. You also don't want one more thing to prep, but you need it to be organized for your students.

Let me introduce you to my new Build Your Own Week Morning Work.

What Does Build Your Own Week Mean?
This series will include a slideshow to use for each day of the week.  By having a different activity each day, students will not get bored with their morning work.  Each day will stay fresh and engaging.  But, that's not enough.  I'm actually including several options for each day of the week.  Now, you can't (or probably won't) use more than one option a day, but by giving you different options it ensures that you can choose the skill that fits your particular students best and it gives you the option of changing that focus throughout the year, if needed.  So, by looking at all of the different options, you can Build Your Own Week with your morning work!  I've included skills that focus on writing, words, and math so that students are getting a well-rounded experience.

The daily slides are no print and no prep.  Just project the slide on your board and students will complete the task in a notebook or journal.  Each slide has the directions on the left side and a modeled layout to guide students on the right side.  Each slide also has instrumental music embedded that can be played with the click of a button.

What Different Options Are Included?
Let's take a look at the different options -

Making Words Monday
Making Words Monday has 40 slides in which students will use the letters from a big word to make smaller words.  They'll sort their words by the number of letters and see how many they can make. This practice of making words gives students practice with manipulating letters which strengthens their ability to sequence sounds heard in words.

Monday Memories

Monday Memories gives students a personal narrative topic to write about and illustrate. The topics are general so that all students can pull from their experiences for writing.

Teach It Tuesday

Teach It Tuesday slides give students a chance to be the teacher as they teach their classmates "how to" do something through their writing. Students are asked to write and draw in sequential steps using transitional words from the word bank provided. This is a great way to strengthen how-to writing.

Talk About It Tuesday
This option gives students practice with those speaking skills that are often formally overlooked in the classroom.  Students get with a partner and talk about a topic provided - the catch is that they must stay on topic!  Question prompts are provided to help them along if there's a lull in the conversation.

Workout Wednesday
Workout Wednesday lets students workout their brains and bodies!  First, students solve a logic puzzle (working out their brain) and then they do an exercise that correlates with the answer to the logic puzzle (working out their bodies).  

Wednesday Word Work
Wednesday Word Work asks students to brainstorm both synonyms and antonyms of a common word.  Students could even be allowed to use a thesaurus to complete this.  Then, they use one of the new synonyms and one of the new antonyms in a sentence that shows meaning.

Thank You Thursday
Thank You Thursday helps students spread a little kindness while also practicing their letter writing skills.  Each slide asks students to write a thank you note to someone.

Thursday Thoughts
Thursday Thoughts give students a chance to express themselves as they form an opinion to a question and write about it.  Students are prompted to support their opinion with examples and reasons.

Factual Friday
Factual Friday instructs students to write facts that they know about well-known objects.  They can use their senses and/or knowledge about these items to form their facts.  Students are also asked to sketch the items and label any parts they know to form a diagram.

Friday Fact Families
This segment gives students two digits and asks them to make two different fact families using those two digits.

Will More Daily Segments Be Created?
Yes!  These are just the daily segments that are in the works now.  I will be creating (at least one) more daily segment(s) for each day of the week - those topics will be announced at a later date!

Why Should I Jump On This Resource Now?
By purchasing the bundle, you save 30% off individual products.  Plus, this is a GROWING bundle which means that you can buy it now with only a few pieces in and receive ALL FUTURE segments for FREE!  As of this post, you can grab this bundle for $6 but it will be a $45 value once complete!  

What are you waiting for?  Run and grab everything you need to Build Your Own Morning Work and be set for the entire year!

Last Day of School FUN

I am determined to make the end of this school year as stress-free as possible. This is always my intent, but it never seems to happen. This year I'm being purposeful about it.

Let me help you have a stress-free last day of school, too! I've created a set of 6 digital games that are absolutely NO PREP and ready to use. They will keep your students engaged and give you a little classroom community bonding time one last time.

The 6 games (plus a bonus directed drawing and a bonus origami craft) are all perfect for both in-person teaching and distance learning. Here's what is included: 

1) Find It! - In this game, there are two cards filled with summer images on each slide. There is ONE image that the two cards share in common and students try to be the first to find it.

2) Oh Snap! - In this game, students get a glimpse of a portion of a picture "up close" and must use their inferencing skills to figure out the image before it is revealed on the next slide.

3) Pic Puzzlers - In this game, students will see a series of pictures that must be put together to form a word or phrase. Students must first determine what the individual pictures are showing and then add them together to find the answer.

4) Riddle Me This - Who doesn't love a good joke? This is a compilation of the best jokes for the season. Students will see if they can solve before the answer is revealed.

5) Would You Rather... - Each slide will pose two options for students and they must decide which they would rather do. Students can show this with the hand signal shown, making it perfect for in-person or distance learning.

6) Word Nerds - In this game, students put their word-making skills to work as they use scrambled letters to spell any and all words possible. The ultimate goal is to figure out the mystery word that uses all letter tiles given.

BONUS #1: - Directed Drawing - Students will draw a coral reef scene

BONUS #2: - Origami Craft - Students will create a sea turtle origami craft

With everything planned and ready to go - and no copies to make or supplies to organize, the last day of school will *hopefully* be stress-free and FUN! 

No Prep Digital ABC Countdown

Digital ABC Countdown

You asked and I listened!  I know you don't want your virtual students missing out on all of the end-of-year fun. You would like to keep the same routines in place whenever possible to bring that normalcy to them.  So, I did it.  I revamped my printable end-of-year ABC Countdown into a brand-new digital version.  There was no way to take the exact same activities and make them digital, so this is a brand-new version that will bring the same excitement digitally!

This is a Google Slides resource with an interactive Table of Contents on slide one.

Each day, you just click the letter for the day and that will take you directly to the slide for that day.  Here's an example!

You'll just click play on the video showing on the laptop and students will follow along!  On this day, students will create origami sunglasses so they will need a piece of paper.  The great thing about these activities is there is never anything to print or copy and the most require no materials.  If they do require materials, it's never more than a piece of paper and a pencil.

If for some reason, you want to change the video selected - maybe you just finished studying sharks and really want your students to make origami sharks instead - you can simply delete the video and go to INSERT > VIDEO and paste the URL of the new video you'd like to appear on that slide instead.

The flexibility makes it perfectly adaptable to your classroom, but the activities selected should be appropriate for 1st-5th grades.

Most videos are 5-10 minutes but if you're looking to make each countdown activity last a little longer, I've include extension ideas for each activity.  Of course, these activities were chosen to only need paper/pencil also.  No copies - No prep.  This is mean to make the ABC Countdown an easy-to-use, stress free activity.  We all know teachers already have enough stress at the end of the  school year!

Morning News Segments

Are you looking for a way to engage students during your morning meeting?  Are you looking for new segments for your school news show?  Do you just need a fresh brain break that can work for in-person or distance learning?  I've got you!

I help run the morning news program at my school (K-5th) and use these daily videos as news segments.  They are also perfect for spicing up a classroom morning meeting (each video is only about 1 minute long) or for daily brain breaks in your classroom.

There's a different series for each day of the week so that students don't get bored.  They are short and interactive to keep students engaged.  And the best part?  They are NO PREP and ready to use! 40 weeks worth for each series - an entire year's worth!

Here's a look at each series:

In Monday Mysteries, students watch a video clip that asks them to help find a book character "thief" who stole (or borrowed) a particular object. They are presented with four clues the book character left behind. Using those clues, knowing the object that was borrowed, and using their knowledge of book characters, students help track down the thief. There is a second video clip that can be played later in the day, the next day, or later in the week to reveal the answer. This particular series comes with answer slips that can be used if the teacher/school wants to collect answers from students.

I tried to use a mix of picture books and chapter books to appeal to all elementary students.  A complete list of book characters used can be found in the product listing.

View this sample of a Monday Mysteries segment to see what it's all about - and to see if you can figure out the book character thief!

Tuesday Travels consists of a short video clip that shows students a photograph of a place in the world.  Then, four clues are given.  Students must use the photograph along with the four clues to figure out the weekly destination.  This is the perfect chance for students to have an introduction to online research, using the clues to help guide them. This series also comes with slips students could use to write their guesses. There is a second short video clip that can be played to reveal the destination to students.  This series also includes image files of the clues and the destination reveal for an alternate option.

The first 20 videos in this series are places located in the United States, while the final 20 places venture around the world. See all destinations used in the product listing.

View this sample of a Tuesday Travels segment to see what this segment is all about.

It's Webcam Wednesday! And on Wednesdays, students are shown a short video clip that provides a photograph of an animal along with some interesting facts.  Then, they are given a webcam to view - watching an animal in its habitat is always a hit with students!  At our school, we leave the webcam streaming all day after our news program so that classes can "check in" on it whenever they have time throughout the day.  If you were using this in the classroom, you could check in on the webcam during transitions, at recess/lunch, or during dismissal time - or all of the above. :)  

This series also includes a Google Slides version that can be shared with students so that they can check in on the webcam on their own - perfect for distance learning.  See all animals used in this product listing.

View this sample of Webcam Wednesday to see what this segment is all about.  (Webcam links are provided in a single PDF document for the teacher's ease of use.)

Thumbs Out Thursday shows students a short video that poses a question, followed by 10 photographs of answer choices.  Students are asked to take out their thumbs today and give a thumbs UP or a thumbs DOWN to each answer choice in the video.  This provides a QUICK and easy way for students to get to know their classmates better and build relationships. See a list of all topics used in this product listing.

View this sample of Thumbs Out Thursday to see what this segment is all about.

Fake News Friday is probably the biggest hit at my school.  In this series, students are asked a question and posted two facts - one true fact and one false fact.  Students must try to decipher the real news from the fake news.  This is a great introduction to realizing that you can't believe everything you read - especially on the Internet. See a list of all topics used in this product listing.

View this sample Fake News Friday to see what this segment is all about.

If you're looking for daily segments for your morning meetings, schools news show, or engaging brain breaks I hope these will fit your need.  You can save 25% by purchasing the entire Daily News Segments Bundle here. I hope that by having these ready to go for each day of the year, it will provide you with a little breathing room while giving your students something to look forward to each day!

Pixel Magic Activities

If you've been following me on social media, you've probably seen that I am completely and utterly obsessed with Pixel Art activities at the moment.  I used these activities with students in grades 3-5 in the past and they ATE THEM UP!  I even had one 5th grader who loved them so much she taught herself how to code a simple one over winter break.  She was so proud of herself and I was too! <3

With everything moving digital I wanted to find a way to use them with younger students as well as older students. I've even started creating Pixel Magic activities to go along with picture and chapter books and I've been having way too much fun with it!  I can't wait to get back to school next year and use these with students...and the great thing is, no matter what our school situation looks like - back in the classroom or remote learning - these will be easy to use with students!

If you are not familiar with Pixel Art, it uses Google Sheets to "bring in" squares of color a few at a time as students enter correct answers until finally an entire picture is revealed. One of my favorite things about Pixel Art is that it is an independent and self-checking activity.  Since the bits of color appear when correct answers are entered, students will know if they entered an incorrect answer since nothing new will appear.  They will then know to try again!

Here take a look:

Students will need access to Google Sheets (or Microsoft Excel) to do these activities. If you're a Google school, the activities are super easy to share through Google Classroom.  If your students don't have access to Google Classroom and don't have their own Google accounts, you can use them as centers in your classroom on your own or a class Google account that you create.   The activities can also be download from Google Sheets as Excel files to share with your students that way, if preferred.

It's important to know that when entering the answers into the sheet, answers DO need to be spelled correctly.  The answers are not case-sensitive, but spelling matters.  That can be difficult for the younger learners especially, so I'm going to share an app that I've used for years in my classroom for this.

Easy Spelling Aid is an app that is available on both The App Store and Google Play.  It is $4.99 in the app store on my ipad right now and honestly it was the best five bucks I've ever spent on my classroom.  I've used it for years for writing workshop.  You know how you have those students who are perfectionists and want every single word spelled correctly?  I would have this on my tablets as an option during the revising stage.  It's SO easy to use - students simply tap the microphone, say the word, and it repeats the word and displays the spelling.  There are a lot of other features to this app that are helpful for dyslexic students, also.

Take a look at the intuitive design of how it works as a spelling aid.

With my Pixel Magic Book sets, I have made them available in GROWING bundles, which means after purchasing, you will receive ALL future book activities added for FREE.  I only promised 12 picture book activities and that bundle is already up to 40!

By purchasing the complete GROWING bundles you also get the deepest discount (50% off) at only $1 per activity.

You can click on this image to see the description which includes all current titles included:

I also have a complete GROWING bundle for a chapter book set.

Since the picture book set has grown so large, I've also divided it up into MINI bundles of 10 books each.  By purchasing the mini bundles, you receive a 25% discount ($1.50/each activity)

And, of course I still have Pixel Magic activities that are separate from books.  My Yearlong Research Bundle (grades 3-5) includes one activity per month that has students visit and read/research from a website to find answers to questions on a seasonal topic.

And my Primary Pixel Magic bundle has 3 versions for each image - basic addition, basic subtraction, and word riddles - no research required!

If you're new to pixel art and would like to try one of my resources for FREE, check out the versions below.


I hope this is a new digital activity that you and your students will LOVE!

Teacher Picks for Parents for Remote Learning

Now that students are learning remotely from home, it's important that teachers help parents have the learning essentials for their children.  If you ask me, there's not a LOT that falls in the essential category when it comes to supplies students must have at home to assist in learning, which is a good thing because every family situation is different - especially during this time.  So, besides having a way to connect with the teacher for instruction/assignments (whether that be from a district-provided device, the family computer, or a parent's cellphone), here are my other Teacher Picks for Parents During Remote Learning.  {Disclaimer: Oriental Trading provided many of the products in this post free of charge in exchange for the published post.}

Pick 1:  Dry Erase Board & Markers

Save paper.  Seriously.  This is one of those top tips that teachers use in classrooms daily.  If students are practicing math, spelling, or other content that is not going to need to be kept then white boards are the perfect solution!  You'll save paper and children LOVE them!  Markers with lids that "snap on" to the top of the marker so they're not lost easily are the best.  And, yes, that's a sock for the eraser.  Let's save money where we can - every home has socks without mates hanging around, right?  Who knew we'd actually find a use for those?  They make the perfect eraser for little ones.  Just slip them on the hand for erasing and then toss them in the wash later to use again another day.

Pick 2: Clipboards & Pencils, Crayons

Pencils and crayons are probably a given, but clipboards go hand-in-hand in my opinion.  While I strongly recommend having a designated "work spot" (desk, kitchen table, coffee table) we all know that sometimes it is tiresome sitting in one spot for a long period of time.  Many teachers now have "flexible seating" in their classrooms, so have a clipboard on hand to allow your child to work in other places around the home.  Even as an adult, I work better in non-traditional seating areas.  Let your child stretch out on the floor, on his bed, or in her favorite chair to complete independent assignments.  Plus, sometimes, if multiple children (especially siblings) are learning in a common area they just need a "break" from each other for a bit.  These rainbow clipboards from Oriental Trading are perfect if you have multiple children.

Pick 3: Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk chalk is something you may already have at home (#winwin) but if not, Oriental Trading has some really fun options like the popsicle chalk in the picture above or the unicorn horn chalk.  While most schools are cutting the learning time for remote learning, it still helps for children not to be stuck inside for lengths of time.  They need to be able to get outside whenever possible.  Why not take that spelling practice or math practice out to the driveway to get some fresh air? 

Pick 4: Pony Beads (or other small manipulatives)

You'll also need some type of small manipulatives for students to use for math.  These will help them with counting on, adding, subtracting, patterns, and more!  The small manipulatives could be anything really - cereal, pennies, dry beans, legos... I chose pony beads because they're something children can keep in their own container (more about that in a minute) and because we can also use them for craft activities when we need to take a break from learning.  Pony beads can be used to make bracelets, pipe cleaner animals, key chains, mosaics, and more!

Pick 5: Organization

Maybe one of my most important picks (or possibly the one you don't have at home already) is organizational tools!  My first recommendation is to give your child a container with a handle that he/she can carry around as his "school box."  Mine is filled with most of the items listed above - pony beads, markers, pencils, crayons, a sock, sidewalk chalk, etc.  This way your child has everything he needs with him at all times - and those things aren't getting misplaced, or stolen by younger siblings.  The school box becomes off limits to everyone else. 

My next organization recommendation is a clipboard holder.  The great thing about this storage piece is that it can also hold the dry erase boards.  If you have multiple children, this will be a lifesaver instead of having clipboards and dry erase boards scattered all around the house.

Find a shelf or area in your house where the "school boxes" and clipboard storage can go.  When it is not learning time, these items can be "off limits" so that they are always there and ready for the next day of remote learning.  When it's time to work, your child will know right where to go to grab their clipboard, dry erase board, and school box before heading to their work spot.  Easy peasy!

If you do have multiple children, color-coding supplies may help too.  I like to label the containers with names using a color that matches one of the clipboards.  No arguing over which clipboard everyone is going to use in the mornings.  Colors are claimed or handed out on the first day and then it becomes a non-issue. 

Pick 6: Creative Play

My final pick is for a new creative play option at home.  Your children will get bored quickly being home all day long.  This Marble Run is one of the top choices in our STEAM lab at school.  Children LOVE to build courses for the marble to race down as they try to make it land in the "catcher."  It's a fantastic way to get them using their problem solving skills as they try to figure out why the marble went off course and adjust their track.  It comes with a set of cards with examples of tracks for children to try to build or they can just use their imagination! The pieces are magnetic so they're perfect for the side of the fridge. 

In classrooms, teachers often give students "brain breaks" - these are short 3-5 minute activities that let students take a break from work and help them to refocus and attend to the task when they come back to it.  At home, you'll need to allow for brain breaks too and activities like this, rather than watching TV or playing a video game, are recommended.

I hope these ideas help you set up a space for your child that will be organized and easy to implement as you continue on this remote learning journey.  Let me know if you have any other questions or need additional tips about setting up remote learning in your home.  We're better together!

Technology Coach

I taught second grade for 20 years.  I never thought I would do anything else.  But when your dream job kind of lands in your lap, you jump on it.

I've always loved technology and I've taught hundreds of hours of tech workshops for my district.  I always LOVE supporting teachers because I don't understand how they can continue doing their jobs well without support.  They have SO many demands on their time now days.  So, to get to do all of this WHILE still teaching....yes, please!

Many people have asked what I'm doing this year.  My official title is a Technology Integration Specialist, also listed often as an Instructional Technology Specialist but commonly referred to as a Technology Coach.

Since accepting this position, I've come to find out that a technology coach can look very different depending on the location.  Many tech coaches serve a district and are assigned to multiple schools.  Some tech coaches are at one school and solely help teachers integrate technology into their lessons (do not trouble shooting or other duties).

I wasn't really sure what my job was going to look like at the beginning of the year, and as most of you know, I'm a major PLANNER so that was stressing me out!

I'm definitely still learning as I go and I've learned that my position may evolve and look different from year to year.  At this time, most high schools and middle schools in my district have tech coaches but not many elementary schools.  In fact, there are over 50 elementary schools in my district and only 4 have tech coaches - two of us being new this year.

So, what does this mean?  What do I do from day to day?  I'm lucky that my position is at the school I've taught at for the past 12 years.  I already know the staff and the resources we have available.  My main job is to help teachers integrate technology into their classrooms.  Grades 3-5 are 1:1 with chromebooks and grades k-2 have iPads.  We also have laptop carts and a computer lab available.

Teachers can sign up for me to come into their classrooms to teach lessons, introduce new tech tools, help them with lessons, be an extra set of hands, etc.  They can also sign up for me to help them plan or hash out ideas.  Some examples of things I've done this year include - teaching students to use Flipgrid, Green Screen, SeeSaw, Chatterpix, Quizizz, Digital Breakouts, and more!

So, there's no set schedule for each day (eek!) - it's really just whatever the teachers need.  Some days are super filled while other days I have more flexibility.  Open times give me a chance to deal with all of the troubleshooting (aka tech problems) - think Promethean boards not working, computer, problems, printer, issues, etc.  This is, not surprisingly, the least favorite part of my job, but I do realize how important it is and therefore try to stay on top of it.  I know how it feels to have 24 little faces staring at you when you can't get your board to work...and then having to revamp your entire day that was centered around technology!  I try to get these issues resolved asap.

When there aren't too many issues going on, I get to work on the other parts of my job - planning/reviewing professional development, scheduling virtual field trips, exploring new apps/programs, creating instructional videos for our staff, updating the school website, adding to our school's Instagram account, creating flyers and QR codes for school events, broadcasting our school's morning news program, helping students create green screen promotional videos for school events, and more!

Here's a peek at this week's sign up (aka my schedule) to give you an idea of a typical week.

As you can see, Halloween digital breakouts have been in high demand this month!  And, you can also see that I'm also pulled for coverage of classes and asked to help with standardized test administration. It can't all be fun, right?! :P

So, while I'm in a new position you'll probably notice a shift here on my blog.  I'll be sharing even more tech integration posts with you - maybe bringing back my Appy Classrooms series, too.  I can't wait to share some of the things I've been working on with you!

If you have any questions about the tech coach position, leave them below!

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