How To Get Free Books With Little Effort

How To Get Free Books With Little Effort by A Word On Third


Do you have a small classroom library? If you're a young teacher or you teach in a district that doesn't throw lots of money at you, it's very likely that you have a sparse library. As someone who has taught 3 grades in 5 years, I totally relate to having too few leveled books!! In fact, this became such a frustrating problem for me that I tried every trick in the book. I went to the library all of the time (it sucks paying over-due fees and losing books, by the way), printed out books online... you name it, I tried it.

I wanted to get good leveled books into my students' hands, and it was really hard to do. Would I have to spend every Saturday going to yard sales? Would I have to scour book stores and look for sales?

No. The answer is no. This is my favorite way to get books because 1. the books are free, and 2. it's super easy. All I have to do is sit at my computer for 3 minutes. That's it. Maybe it's a trick that you already know, but keep reading, because I still have a few tricks up my sleeve.

This trick provides me a minimum of 100 free books each year. A MINIMUM! I spend about an hour throughout school year doing this, and most of it is shopping for books.


Let me introduce Scholastic Reading Club. Maybe some of used this as a kid in an elementary classroom! Here's how it works for teachers. Each of your students can buy books and have them delivered straight to your classroom. Every time a student buys books, you earn points. Then, you spend points on books. I get books for free with my points, and I have them delivered for free every time I have an online parent order. It's that easy. No tricks. No surprises. No catch. Maybe you're familiar with it, and you're having trouble getting parents to buy in? No problem. Skip down to later in this post, and I'll teach you those tricks I have up my sleeve that I mentioned!


First, click on that link to Scholastic Reading Club. Go click it. Then sign up for a teacher account if you don't have one. You'll look for a part on the page that looks like this:


Once you're done, you can go to your "Teacher's Desk" and set up all sorts of preferences in your account. I like to send home a letter in the beginning of the year (there's several set up for you... you don't have to write them) and work on my wish list and recommendation list. That's really all you have to do to make the most of this. And truthfully, you really don't NEED a wish list or recommendation list!

The parent letter teaches parents what Scholastic is, how to order books from your class (so you get those book points), and sets everything up for you so you don't have to explain it.

Wish lists are great because parents can use them to donate to your classroom. I tell my students I prefer books than chocolate at holiday time. I tell them that this is something they can donate that will make us all happy. I discuss it at Back To School Night too.

The recommendation list is also great because it can help students or parents to make informed book choices. I tell parents these are great gifts for kids at holiday time too, and I usually put all the hottest books on my list. Great nonfiction books from National Geographic, the fiction series the kids love... it's on my list. If it's developmentally appropriate and a quality text, I just pop it on. You can probably develop a pretty impressive list in 5 to 10 minutes.

OK, so you skipped the part about how to sign up and want the juicy stuff!! Start reading here:

Here are my quick and dirty tips for getting parents and students to buy in!

  1. Talk up Scholastic Reading Club at Back To School Night. Include it in your presentation and give parents a paper letter with directions so they can go home and sign up. Tell parents that books make great holiday/birthday gifts for the kids. These are the same books you'd buy at Barnes and Noble... the difference is the books are delivered home to each child without a trip out, and the profits go towards supplying the classroom books.
    If you teach in a lower-income area, you might want to point out that plenty of books are less than $5.00. You can even get family members with kids to sign up under your class account. I also offer previous students to use my account if their current teacher doesn't have one.
  2. Show the kids some of your favorite books that you got from Scholastic. Every once in a while, right before a read aloud, you might say, "OH WOW! I got this book from Scholastic. I am so glad I got it. There are a lot more like it online if you're interested." Don't say this if you don't like the book. That's not going to sound genuine. Plus, you're recommending a book you don't like. WHY DID YOU READ THAT FOR READ ALOUD TIME?! ;)
  3. Have kids book "shop" during morning arrival. I really don't like meaningless morning work. I'm just going to go right out and say it... I think a list of sentences to edit, math problems to solve, and word puzzles to figure out are busy work. They aren't the best use of your students' time. I prefer to assign meaningful work that extends into what we're doing in class. It might be extra reader's workshop time, time to sort words or do a word study game... but it's meaningful. Well, once or twice a month, I give kids a Scholastic book catalogue to peruse while they wait for classmates to get in and unpack. This is actually meaningful because it gets them interested in books and can help them with previewing skills a little bit. Here's the big thing you have to do: HAVE KIDS CIRCLE SOME BOOKS THEY ARE INTERESTED IN PURCHASING! Then talk about it as a class later. Which leads me to...
  4. Talk about books at Morning Meeting. If you're always struggling to squish 8 things into 20 minutes like 99% of all teachers, this is a good "cut two carrots with one knife" kind of deal. During the "share" section of your Morning Meeting, have kids share a book they want and why they are interested in it. Afterwards, you can even have kids vote on a few and you can buy them for the class with the free points. Follow through with this! Write the popular ones down. Even if you only get one or two, that's OK.
  5. Make a big deal out of each book arrival. On the day the box comes, tell the kids about it. Have a big "unboxing" ceremony. AKA... when you have 2 minutes between classes or before lunch or at the end of the, open the box and get excited. Tell kids you can't wait to give them their orders, but only make a big deal out of the class books you ordered. This includes book selections you made with and without your students' input. You don't want students to feel bad if they don't have books. Even if they don't feel bad, it's kind of boring to hear about something that doesn't apply to you.
  6. Give mini book talks when you think of it. "This book, The X and the Y, is so awesome because blah blah blah. I really like it because I like the author and I like how he/she blah blah blahed. You can order if on Scholastic if it sounds like something you'd like.
  7. Send emails to parents periodically reminding them of new due dates. Make a point of saying that winter holidays are big for books. Order in advance so books arrive in time. You might even want to set up a system for books to be picked up secretly by parents so kids won't know what their holiday gifts are. That's a big hit in my classroom each year!
That's literally all I do. It's so easy! Scholastic will send you the catalogues you want for your classroom and labels with your class activation code to put onto the catalogues for any parent who forgets it/hasn't signed up. I like to have my kids do this as a class job. My "messenger" who puts stuff in mailboxes can do this start to finish. 

Then I go shop with my billions of book points. (Ok, not billions at all, but it feels like it!)

Do you use Scholastic Reading Club? If so, what are your tricks for getting parents and students to buy in and get books? Comment below!

What Are You Curious About?

Hi, Teachers! I'm so excited to announce that I am going to be launching a summer blogging series about how to launch your classroom effectively. What do want to learn more about? Fill in the google form below and I will write posts about what you want to learn! :)
 

Here Are 3 Ways To Start Off Your Year With A Bang!

Hi, Teachers.

Things have been SUPER crazy in my life. My grandma is very, very ill and I am getting married in 12 days. That is a really awful combination. So things are just TOO crazy in my life right now to be a perfect blogger. I'm not going anywhere, but please understand that things are going to be tricky for the next month.

In the meantime, here are 3 things that I want you to think of that you can use to start your next school year off in a really cool way.

1. Try flexible seating.

By clicking the picture above, you'll be taken to my post about how I've used flexible seating in my classroom so far. If you want to dabble in this, but you're not ready for going all-out with yoga balls, standing desks, etc. (due to funds OR feeling overwhelmed), then check this out. These are the most affordable options for teachers who are just starting out.


2. Run Morning Meetings.

These are some activities to get you started. Activities can often be used as brain breaks too, which I love. They get kids moving and thinking. Activities can calm your students down or energize them. 


3. Try raising Monarch butterflies in the classroom.

This is SO much fun. If you can get to a workshop, I definitely recommend it. They are all over the country. The workshops will set you up to know everything you need to know and give you every material you need. They are only $99, but usually you can go for free by applying for a grant right on the website. It's super easy. It's just an application. Check out that post and click the picture above. Isn't my little caterpillar cute?!


So those are 3 posts to get you thinking about 3 things to start off your year with a bang. Which might you try?

13 Easy, Magical Ways To Give Students Choice Now

13 Easy, Magical Ways To Give Students Choice Now by A Word On Third


If you're new to giving students choice, I totally understand the feeling of overwhelm that can wash over you when you start providing choice to your students. Try to remember--the more power you hand over to your students, the more rewarding your job will become and the more self-directed your students will be.

Before you hand over choice to your students, remember that you need to teach students to plan for choice, work, and then reflect on their choices. Turning students' attention to their thought processes when working with choices is important, even if it's small. Teaching them to reflect and apply reflections to future choices will also help them to make better choices and work more efficiently.

Here are some EASY ways to hand over the power to students at the beginning of your journey into providing student choice.


Writer's Workshop
1. Let students choose their writing utensil.
Set whatever routines you want for the writing process (like using certain colors for editing or revising) and then give your kids choice within that routine. Can they choose to use pen or pencil to draft? Let them! My kids love using different colors... can they choose what to edit or revise with when they write?
2. Let students choose their writing paper.
This becomes trickier once your kids are using writer's notebooks, but when they publish, provide a lot of paper options and tell them to pick the paper that best conveys what they are communicating. I find nonfiction writing to offer the most different types of writing papers.
3. Let students choose their writing partner.
If you're not comfortable with doing this all of the time, maybe let them share once per week with a partner of their choosing.

Reader's Workshop
4. Let students choose their books.
Provide kids with many leveled books, and let them choose a certain amount within that level. Bonus points if you let kids pick 1 free choice book every week from any category (be it a different level or genre).
5. Let students choose how to respond to books.
No, not every student will have a text-to-self or text-to-text connection on Tuesday. They are going to write something in their reader's notebook or on their post-it notes that is not authentic. Instead, give them practice and let them decide how to respond to books. Maybe they'll track characters across a story mountain instead that day.
6. Let students decide on their own goals for reading.
Teach students how to make goals and let them decide what they want to improve upon. Conferring is a great time for this.
7. Let the class vote on a read aloud text.
All it takes is 2 or 3 choices for kids to be pumped!

Math Workshop
8. Let students decide which manipulatives to use.
One kid might love digi-blocks, and the other might love base-ten blocks. Once you've taught both, give kids the ownership in picking the manipulative that works best for them/
9. Let students decide which strategy to use when solving problems.
Teach your strategy for the day and give them time to practice it. Then send them off and let them solve how they want to. Maybe they want to solve multiplication problems by making an array or by using repeated addition. Once you've exposed them to different strategies, they should know what works best for them.

Word Study
10. Let students decide on their own high-frequency words for the week.
If you have a word wall and add words to it each week, can kids have 1 word wall word that they practice on their own? What do they want to learn and master?
11. Let students choose how to practice.
Providing at least 2 options can really make kids happy. Teach each option and then let kids choose. Some might want to build words with magnetic letters and others might like to rainbow write in as many different colors as they can.

Classroom Management
12. Let students decide how to line up or be dismissed to start their work.
Sounds silly, but it's still choice and it conveys the message that kids are decision-makers. Should they line up by birthday month or by favorite snack?
13. Let students choose where to sit when they work independently.
If you discuss how to pick a successful spot beforehand, this is seriously powerful. Let them work on the floor with a clipboard, at their desk, or at your small group table (when it's not in use). They know what they need. If a student has trouble, talk about it.


These are just some small ways to get you started. How do you hand over the power and provide choice in your classroom?

Hurry-Join My Easy Summer Reading Challenge!



Last summer was the first summer I felt like I learned a lot and was productive over my summer break. I was so proud of sticking to a plan to read all summer. So, with a lot of excitement, I'm launching my 2016 summer reading challenge! If you want to learn a lot about something important to you, try it out!

1. MAKE A PLAN FOR READING.

This part is so important. Last year, I posted about my success with my reading challenge. I had the great idea to plan for my own summer reading just like I require my third graders to do in their book clubs. WELL. With a little plan came a LOT of success! Last year, I was adding my plan into my personal health planner. You can see what my plan for one of my books looked like here:


It's nothing crazy. All I did was write what chapters I'd be reading each day. This summer, I've got my plan on google calendar. See?


Each night you can see "SRC" for "Summer Reading Challenge. You can see the book and the chapters I'm reading. You should pick a plan that works for you. If you think you can only read 4 to 5 days a week, that's fine. Just create a plan that reflects that. I find that it's important to schedule in a time for reading too. 

2. PICK YOUR BOOKS.

There are so many I want to read, but I narrowed it down to 5 this summer. Here's what I'm reading! Click any picture of a book to see it on Amazon.

My friend Amy Harris is always talking about this one, so I am giving it a try. It is all about unlocking your potential and shifting your mindset to be more positive. I think I'm pretty positive, but I'll always welcome more positivity. So, this isn't only school-related, but I'm giving it a try. I am going to be responsible for improving my school's climate and getting character education into each classroom next year, so this seems like a great fit for me!

This is going to be super useful. I have a really warm classroom community in my room, but in third grade, cliques start forming. I am NOT into them AT ALL. They really get under my skin since I was bullied as a kid. I want to make sure that my classroom is as safe as possible. Bonus points? This book was written by Caltha Crowe, who I have a slight obsession with and teacher crush on. #TEACHERGOALS.

I'm super stoked for this because, as I said before, I am all about positivity. AND WHAT'S EVEN COOLER IS THAT I WON THIS BOOK! Just flipping through, there are TONS and TONS of practical, easy-to-implement tips. I love my classroom because it's happy and fun. I want to make it even more happy and fun. This book covers grouping students for collaborative learning, getting to know your kids, making learning interactive, how to structure lessons, and teaching kids to self-assess. It looks super amazing!

The product description on Amazon says, "Create a thriving, student-centered classroom with this powerful resource. The book guides teachers to develop a rigorous, concept-based curriculum that is differentiated for all learners across content areas, and to build students' thinking skills." UM. YES PLEASE. 

If you're in for my challenge, I want you to pick the books that resonate with you. I hope my choices are an inspirational starting point for you. If you just want to learn and have no idea where to start, check them out! Or mix and match! Read what will make you a better teacher and make your classroom happier. 

3. GET COZY AND COMMIT.
What's going to make you get your reading done? Is it setting a bed-time reminder on your Fitbit and getting into your pajamas at a consistent time? Is it sitting pool-side with your book and your favorite pink lemonade? Whatever it is, get cozy, and commit to the schedule you set. I found the schedule surprisingly easy to follow because I had already made the plan for myself!


So have you read any of these books? If so, what do you think? If not, are you going to try them? What's on your list? Comment below!

How To Make Birthdays Unique And Exciting

How To Make Birthdays Unique And Exciting by A Word On Third


Quick and AWESOME announcement: I am going to be interviewed in Teach Happy Membership for the THM Masterclass this week! I am going to be on Sheila Jane's online blab on Wednesday, June 15 at 7:30 PM EST. Be ready to talk Responsive Classroom! (Big surprise right?) If you're not a member of THM, you can join and watch my interview by clicking the button below. I hope to see some of you guys on there!!


OK! Now onto birthdays. I'm going to be honest with you--I got kind of sick of the birthday celebrations in my class. There were many reasons why, but some felt more important than others. It's not that I didn't like celebrating--I really do! However, I felt sad for the kids who were bothered that other kids would bring a snack for the class or goodie bags when they didn't have any. I didn't like that some parents wanted to come in and others didn't. I didn't like the inconsistency in my classroom when it came to birthdays and the potential negative feelings that could come from it. 

I thought long and hard about what I thought birthdays should be like in my classroom, and over time, I created a really nice birthday celebration that is fun, low-key, and a nice way of honoring the birthday girl or boy. I'm going to share them with you in hopes that you can start next year being consistent! You might consider talking about your birthday routine on Back To School Night so parents know what to expect.

Start the day with a little gift.
Now, I'm talking a really little gift. I used to get those birthday certificates for students, but I don't do that anymore. Nobody really cares about them anyway. Instead I print out a little picture of a cupcake that I found with a quick google image search. I also have some birthday stickers and pencils leftover from the last teacher who had my room. I'll run out of those soon and I'll probably just buy cheap pencils at the Dollar Tree or Target. This is what greets each student on his/her desk on the morning of his/her birthday.

How To Make Birthdays Unique And Exciting by A Word On Third

I like doing this because it's the first thing that child will see when they come into my room. It's nice to be recognized! It's not much, but it's enough to make a smile. 

I also have a prize box that the kids pick from on their birthdays. I don't use the prize box for anything other than birthdays (I'm a big believer in NO marble jars and prizes, but that's another post for another day). I put in extra Scholastic books from my Scholastic Reading Club order, little things I accumulate that I think would be fun (I once got some extra shark tooth fossils... into the birthday bin!), and cheap prizes from the dollar store. Many times these items are leftover from class parties or holiday goodie bags. 

Turn your morning message into a birthday card.
I think this is the coolest thing ever. My message usually says something like this:
Dear Team,
Today is X's birthday. We will celebrate him/her at meeting today. Sign your name below to wish him/her a Happy Birthday!  
(Here I draw a big box for kids to write. I'll sign my name and add a little birthday message too and kills will follow my lead.)
Love, Miss S. 
I always send my morning messages home at night, so on a child's birthday, that child gets to take home his/her morning message. We also send a class mascot home each night for fun (ours is a stuffed pig named Puddleton) and the kids write in Puddleton's journal. Believe it or not, my third graders really like doing this and haven't outgrown it yet. So, of course, the birthday boy or girl takes Puddleton home too.

Transform your morning meeting into a personalized birthday celebration.
The birthday kid picks the greeting we do. Then he/she shares about his/her birthday and we make comments/ask questions. At this point, we stop the meeting for an epic birthday song, and cha-cha-chas are a must. We dance around and sing and have a blast! Afterwards, the birthday kid picks the activity. My kids this year tend to love the activity called "Answer This."

To play Answer This, I ask the class a question, (often-times it's a birthday-themed question, like "What do you think Ethan will get for his birthday?") and they answer it as a class. The fun part is that the kids can only contribute one word for an answer. So kid A will say, "Ethan," kid B will say, "will," kid C will say "get," kid D will say, "a," and kid E will say, "puppy." We keep going around in a circle to make sure everyone answers at least once. These answers get SILLY. This isn't the only activity that gets played on birthdays, but we sure do seem to like this one this year. In fact, this year, the class decided that Ethan would "get a pair of stinky socks for his pet goat." Strange but fun. :)

After our activity, we read the message and we've had a nice, little intimate birthday celebration that feels more authentic than passing out goodie bags or anything else.

In the past, I've had birthday kids pick our read-alouds too. The big thing here is that it's important to be consistent and make each child feel like he/she belongs, is significant, and is having fun.

What do you like to do for birthdays? Do you think you'll try any of these? Comment below!

How To Teach Teamwork In A Powerful Way

How To Teach Teamwork In A Powerful Way by A Word On Third


Cooperation is easy to talk about, but it's tough to actually SHOW kids why it's important. I can read countless amazing books about cooperation, but it just doesn't seem to stick the way I want it to. Have you guys ever experienced that? Now, I still recommend reading those books... but I also recommend having the kids participate in an activity that makes them apply that knowledge in a meaningful way.

So here's what I love to do... it's really simple. I'll break down the lesson plan for you in bullet-form.

1. Start by reading a quality text that covers cooperation.
Here are some good ones:

                

As a class, discuss what cooperation means and how one might show it.


2. Introduce the picture challenge.
Break students into groups for 4 to 6. Tell the kids that their job is to draw a picture. They must first plan what they will draw and then draw it. Here's the catch: each child can only use one crayon! If I start with purple, I can only color with purple. Make sure the kids understand they need to draw a picture of something and not simply a design. For that reason, I suggest giving the kids 1 or 2 minutes to plan what they'll draw first.


3. Give kids 10-15 minutes of work time.
You won't need more than this to get the point across. If kids start to disagree and ask for your help, try to stay out of it. You might say something like, "How can you use cooperation to solve this problem?" or "How can you follow our rule 'Take care of everyone' and solve your problem?" The most important thing is that kids need to get through the struggle on their own. Some might not, and that's OK.


4. Reflect.
Gather the class together. Display the pictures where they can all be seen, and reflect on what happened. What was successful? What was challenging? What did the kids learn? How might they use teamwork more effectively next time? What types of compromises does one need to make to be on a team?


I find this to be a really powerful lesson for my kids, and I do it every year. Sometimes I do it at the beginning of the year, but it's also a great way to close off the year. It's easy to forget about the classroom communities we've worked so hard to build in those last few weeks, but it's more important than ever to peacefully transition to the next year!

What are your favorite books that help you teach cooperation? Comment below!

How To Put The Spotlight On Content In Morning Meeting

How To Put The Spotlight On Content In Morning Meeting by A Word On Third

The end of the year is near, and we are SQUEEZING in all of the content we can possibly squeeze into each and every second of instruction, am I right?! Let me share some great ways to squeeze content into each component of Morning Meeting.

Greeting
Whether you have a little time or a lot of time for this component, academics can fit into this nicely.
  • Give students cards with math facts on them. Students must greet each other until they find their matching pair. For example, if you're practicing addition, give one kid an index card that says "25 + 25" and one student a card that says "50." Equivalent fractions? 1/2 and 4/8. The opportunities are limitless. This isn't just a math greeting. Kids can match a new vocabulary word you've learned in science or social studies to its definition.
  • Play baggage claim and have kids jot facts on their cards.
  • Try the secret handshake greeting. In this greeting, normally kids greet people while music plays. When it stops, they create a secret handshake with the person they are in the middle of greeting. Make sure students incorporate an academic skill into their handshake (like chanting a math fact or something they know about a topic of study).

Share
This is an easy one to do, but I figure you'd probably like some more creative ideas.
  • Kids go around the circle taking turns sharing a favorite fact.
  • Kids share a favorite fact or way to solve a problem with a partner.
  • Kids create a "headline" for something they learned and share it with the class. When we do this to build our community, it might sound like "Special Bowling Night on Saturday" so a kid can share about a weekend activity he/she is looking forward to, but in an academic setting, it might sound like, "Monarch Caterpillars Eat Skin After Shedding." It's also fun for kids to spice up a fact by making it sound like a newspaper headline.
  • Kids share in concentric circles about a fact they learned, something they are wondering about a topic of study, etc. To make this even spunkier, have them share what they heard from the person before them too.

Activity
There are TONS of academic activities you can find online, but these are some of my favorites:
  • Play a game of I Have Who Has. Bonus points if your kids made the game!!
  • Play a game of "Silent Match Up." Use the matching pair cards from the greeting. See if kids can find their match in a certain amount of time without talking. This will involve cooperation! You can exchange cards and repeat as many times as you can fit.
  • Play interruptions. Read a familiar poem or text (which may or may not be on the message) and have kids do certain things during certain parts. For example, clap during all the punctuation marks, whisper during the long vowels, stretch out words with 3 or more syllables, etc. Get creative!
  • Name 5- Have kids work in small groups to name 5 things they've learned about a topic, 5 things they still wonder about a topic, etc. The number can be adjusted according to age. Then share out at the end!

Message
There are TON of ways to make Morning Messages sensational. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Include a mini-inquiry. What do kids notice about something? It can be science-related ("What changes do you see in the tadpole tank today?"), social studies-related ("What do you think is happening in this picture?" with a picture of immigrants at Ellis Island), etc. Here's one I did this morning with my kids since we're studying poetry!
    How To Put The Spotlight On Content In Morning Meeting by A Word On Third
    (Poseidon, Eureka, and Neptune are our pet hermit crabs, by the way!)
  • Include a math question, but discuss multiple solutions.
  • Have kids edit your message or identify parts of speech. SHARE THE PEN.
  • Find word wall words in the morning message.
  • Read the message in different ways--this can help improve reading fluency and also fits in more shared reading!
I hope these ideas help you!! By the way, are you a THM member?? THM stands for "Teach Happy Membership." You can sign up to be a member here. My friend Sheila is the goddess of preventing teacher burn-out. She is interviewing me on June 15th at 6 PM PST (or 9 PM EST if you're on the East coast like me!). I'll be talking about the tricks I've learned throughout my teaching career that help me to be a happy teacher. Make sure to tune in if you're a member, and if you're not... you should seriously consider becoming a member! I AM SO MUCH HAPPIER because of Sheila's amazing membership! It's insanely reasonable price-wise, and I get so much out of the membership: PD options, a teacher tribe I can connect with, incredible ideas to put the spark in my classroom... it's amazing!! #THMPRIDE

How do you like to cram academics into your Morning Meeting? Share your ideas below!

Here Are 3 Posts To Help You Survive The Rest Of The Year

Hi, Teachers!

I didn't get to post on Monday... I was busy working on stuff at home, and I stopped to enjoy Memorial Day weekend a bit. I will still be posting tomorrow, but until I do, I figured I'd check in and say HI!

So... HI!

I have 10 days of school left! EEK! I can't believe the year is so close to ending! I have a lot to finish up in a very short amount of time. To tide you over until tomorrow's post, here are some old posts that might be useful to re-read:


1. My 3 Best Secrets For Finishing Report Cards Quickly

This is really useful if it's the end of the year for you. This post gets pinned fairly often on Pinterest and I find it gets great readership. I've shared my favorite tips for getting those bad boys done with ease.

Tip # 2 (using a template) CHANGED. MY. LIFE. I know that sounds silly, but I mean it. My stress levels went soooo far down during report card time because I wasn't sitting there trying to write the perfect post anymore. I was just worried about the content on each report card comment. Maybe your school doesn't require you to write report card comments, but we are supposed to write a big paragraph for each student.


2. How To Stop Messing Up With Homework
I always used to feel like I was consistently "messing up" when it came to homework. Always feeling like I was in some sort of homework rut that I didn't know how to break out of. I found there wasn't just one answer, but a few that I needed to use together to feel like I fit into a good groove. My kids like my homework too! That's a good indicator that it's probably OK.

My favorite rule is the grade x 10 rule; you should assign no more than that number of minutes of homework. I teach third, so homework is never more than 30 minutes each night. My kids are so much happier, and I am too. There's less to grade and check. I try to make sure homework is meaningful by incorporating student choice if it is possible also. This post has a few ideas that might help you if you're noticing your kids aren't doing their homework in the final stretch of the year. It might seem like a waste to start something so soon, so if it does, you might think about this for next year.


3. How To Get Rid Of Your Teacher-Tired And Start Taking Care Of Yourself
This is SO CRUCIAL for the end of the year. I have done a few things that really help me when I feel like my brain is made of scrambled eggs. They REALLY. TRULY. help. Maybe if you still have school this year, you can try out a few tips at the end of the year and see what works well for you. You can take one of those tips to next year!

I really feel like you need to think about the whole picture for this. I have to hydrate, eat well, sleep well, exercise, and carefully plan/manage my school time to feel happy in my personal life. It probably sounds silly to some, but I'm just not my best self without thinking about these things. If you read this post and scroll to the bottom, you'll also see a link to a "part 2" post that talks a bit more about exercise. It might surprise you.


Anyway, as promised... HERE IS A PICTURE OF SOME CHICKS! :) Our chicks are doing pretty well. I'm super excited that we had such a great hatch rate this year! Did I tell you my kids decided to name a chick after me? I'm not too pleased about this, but I can appreciate the humor. So in this picture, you can see Marla Savage, Charles (that name cracks me up), and Omelette among others. Yep.


Are you done with school? If not, how many days do you have left?! And what's on your agenda right now? I'm trying to finish reading assessments and get report cards done. OY! What about you?? Comment below!