A Very Victorian Christmas in the Elementary Classroom

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate in the elementary classroom. The season itself is filled with hope, joy, and love. It's also a perfect time for students to focus on being generous to others and thankful for their blessings. I love to include lessons specifically teaching them about the historical origins of our modern-day holiday traditions. Many of our modern-day Christmas traditions were born in Victorian England.


It's hard to believe, but before the the 1800s, Christmas was not celebrated in the same ways we celebrate it today. People didn't decorate trees in their homes, send greeting cards to one another, or give presents for the holiday. By the beginning of the 1900s, Christmas had grown into a widely-celebrated holiday with traditions that we still follow to this day!

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Schema Maps - An Alternative to the KWL Chart

Activating schema, or prior knowledge, is the foundation to helping students understand what they are reading about any topic. One of the more popular graphic organizers to record students' prior knowledge on a topic is a KWL Chart or a KWL+ Chart. I have used these charts many times to help my students record their thinking and learning about a new topic, but I've frequently run into a specific problem with them...What do you do when the kids think they know something, but as the teacher, you know it's totally wrong?! Do you correct the students right then? Or do you move on? What's the best solution to correcting their misconceptions?




SCHEMA MAPS

Schema Maps provide the perfect solution to this problem! This strategy encourages students to record their prior knowledge and their new learning. Schema maps require students to distinguish between information that is expanding upon something they already knew and information that is brand new learning.  Schema maps also require students to identify any of their prior knowledge that is a misconception and explain why the information is incorrect. I love schema maps because they have really helped my students deepen their knowledge in different content areas and they are super easy to create. This post will tell you exactly how you can get started using schema maps in your own classroom!

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Gluten-Free Play Dough: An Allergy-Free Solution for First Day Fun

Play dough is my favorite activity for students for students to do as they enter the room on the first day of school. It gives them an engaging and hands-on task while freeing me up to help other students get situated or meet briefly with parents that come to the classroom. It also promotes collaboration, creativity, and divergent thinking! But did you know that some students with a gluten-allergy may have an allergic reaction from merely touching play dough?  I always thought students with allergies would need to ingest the play dough in order for it to be an issue, but some gluten allergies are severe enough that even touching play dough can cause children to break out in hives.

Play dough is the perfect first activity on the first day of school! But students with a gluten-allergy can break out in hives just by touching play dough. This recipe for gluten-free play dough is super simple to make and will keep all kids safe from allergic reactions.


For this reason, I started to make gluten-free play dough for my students on the first day of school. It costs a little more than traditional homemade play dough, but it still costs less than purchasing pre-made play dough for everyone! It's also worth the extra cost to know that all my students are safe from potential allergic reactions. 
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Play Dough: A Perfect First Day Gift for Students

Play dough is my favorite activity to start the year with on the first day of school! I love the message it communicates to students right from the beginning. I want my learners to know that our classroom is a safe place for creativity and collaboration. I want them to be confident in their abilities to jump right in and get to work. I want them to know that there isn't always one right answer. And play dough does just that! Once I started using play dough, I knew I would never go back to another worksheet.

Play dough is the perfect activity for the first day back to school. It sets the tone and communicates that our classroom values hands-on learning, collaboration, creativity, and divergent thinking!

My first year teaching, I started the first day of school with what I thought would be a fun academic review sheet. I believed it would immediately put the focus on learning and would them busy while I got everyone settled. I also thought it would help my kids feel more confident because, after all, it was just a review. Except I learned very quickly that my kids couldn't ALL do it. Sometimes it was a situational issue. Students hadn't brought the necessary supplies, so they either didn't have a pencil or their pencils weren't already sharpened.

But for some kids, they really couldn't do it because it wasn't academically appropriate.  I hadn't provided the scaffolding necessary for them to be successful because I didn't know them yet, and I didn't know who needed it.  I provided something I thought was one-size-fits-all, except it wasn't. And I inadvertently communicated the wrong message to my students. Instead of feeling capable right away, they were faced with something that wasn't appropriate for their needs. I imagine some of them heard that little whisper in their minds, Look how everyone else can do it, but you can't. You are dumb.

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Using Mind Sweeps to Prioritize and Focus

Back to School time is filled with excitement, but it can also be incredibly stressful! Teachers have so much to do to be prepared, but have limited time and resources to get it all done. Many teachers work long hours during the first few weeks of the school year, but feel like their To Do list just gets longer and longer. Mind Sweeps are a simple strategy that will help you conquer that endless list once and for all.

Perfect for that crazy "Back to School" season or any time your To Do List gets out of control! Mind Sweeps (AKA Brain Dumps) are a simple and effective way to clear the mental clutter that is leaving you stressed and distracted.  It will help you determine a plan of action that is the most efficient. Learn how to use Mind Sweeps to reduce your stress today!


Mind Sweeps (sometimes referred to as Brain Dumps) are a simple, but effective way to clear the mental clutter that is leaving you stressed and distracted. I imagine you have a million thoughts racing around in your mind about all the things you need to accomplish before the school year begins. A Mind Sweep will help you clear your mind of the clutter and focus on what is most important. It will help you determine a plan of action that is the most efficient.

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How to Build Work Relationships as an Introvert

Extroverts and introverts often handle the demands of teaching very differently. One expectation for teachers is that they will interact and engage with students all day long. Extroverts tend to perceive this situation as very socially isolating because they are interacting with children, but not other adults. This isolation can lead many extroverted teachers to reach out during natural breaks in the day to intentionally build relationships with other staff members. Introverts can mistakingly perceive these extroverted behaviors as or pushy, demanding, or even rude.

In contrast, the constant interaction with students can lead introverted teachers to feel tired and in much need of down time to recharge. Introverts often prefer to spend their lunches or other natural breaks in the day alone so they are recharged for the rest of the day. As a result, many introverted teachers can struggle to build relationships with other staff members, being perceived by extroverts as shy, aloof, or even snobby. This post will share strategies for introverted teachers to help build relationships at work while still maintaining your sanity.

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How to Build Relationships with Difficult Parents

Do you need help building relationships with difficult parents? 

The truth is, building quality relationships with parents can be HARD. Pinterest is ready to come to the rescue, but communicating with parents doesn't always come easy. Sometimes it is a laborious and time-consuming process that leaves teachers feeling powerless, defeated, and overwhelmed. We can have great relationships with 99% of our students' families, but it just takes one difficult parent to leave us feeling like failures. So what can we do when we are having a hard time building positive relationships with parents? 

Building quality relationships with parents can be hard. We might have great relationships with almost all of our students' families, but it takes just one difficult parent to leave us feeling like failures. This post is full of real, actionable strategies to help teachers when they are facing challenges with parent communication. // Adventures of a Schoolmarm


The point of this post is not to stereotype or blame parents, but rather, to provide real, actionable strategies that will help teachers when they are facing the challenges that come with parent communication. 
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How to Help Students Build Lasting Friendships in Class

Do you need ideas to help students build relationships
with the other students in your classroom? 

We all want to belong. Psychologists have shown that it is actually part of our DNA.  It doesn't matter if we are introverts or extroverts - we all want to feel accepted by our peers and a part of something larger than ourselves. As teachers, we play a huge role in helping our students learn how to affiliate with their peers and establish friendships in a healthy way. Students building friendships with one another doesn't always come naturally, so teachers need to facilitate teambuilding and classbuilding experiences in order to help them along the way. 





Developing positive relationships between the students in your classroom is a crucial part of building a positive classroom environment, but it may seem a little overwhelming to know how to get started.  Follow these guidelines to encourage healthy friendships to blossom between your students!

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Custom Desktop Organizer Slideshow Tutorial

Are you tired of having the same desktop organizer on your computer for too long? Use this tutorial to create a custom wallpaper slideshow that will automatically cycle through all of your favorite photos.

Are you tired of having the same desktop organizer on your computer for too long? Use this tutorial to create a custom wallpaper slideshow that will automatically cycle through all of your favorite photos.


I love to keep my desktop organized using meaningful personal photos with a bonus feature - I add labeled boxes right on top to give everything on my desktop a place! There are different ways to create a computer desktop organizer, but I do so using the program PowerPoint. To learn how, check out my post on Classroom Tested Resources today titled DIY Personalized Photo Desktop Organizer... then hop back over here so I can show you how to use that method to create scrolling wallpaper.

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Teaching Curriculum with Fidelity

Are you overwhelmed by your curriculum?

Navigating a district's purchased curriculum can be overwhelming for even the most veteran of teachers, but it is especially stressful for new teachers. Perhaps it is your first year teaching or your first year in a new district. Getting to know the curriculum resources can feel like a major hurdle to cross, especially when you are told that you have to teach that curriculum with fidelity.  
Navigating a district's purchased curriculum can be overwhelming for even the most veteran of teachers, but it is especially stressful for new teachers. Perhaps it is your first year teaching or your first year in a new district. These strategies will help you not feel so overwhelmed! // Adventures of a Schoolmarm


As we continue our series specifically for new(er) teachers, Tonja and I want to share strategies to help you navigate the curriculum in your district. I will be sharing specific strategies for when you are required to teach the purchased curriculum from your district with fidelity, while Tonja will share strategies for when you have a little more freedom regarding the curriculum. These strategies will be especially helpful to you as you prepare for the school year, no matter what your situation may be.
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10 Classroom Routines You Need Immediately

Are you worried you may have overlooked
some very important classroom procedures? 


Classroom routines and procedures are essential for a successful classroom. They help your classroom run efficiently so you can maximize student learning. However, as a new teacher, determining routines and procedures can be incredibly overwhelming because there are so many different ones to think about! This post is designed to keep you from overlooking routines that you didn't even know you needed.   

Classroom routines and procedures are essential for a successful classroom. They help your classroom run efficiently so you can maximize student learning. Check out these 10 procedures that you may have overlooked! // Adventures of a Schoolmarm


As we continue our series specifically for new(er) teachers, Tonja and I want to share 10 Classroom Routines that you may have overlooked! I will be sharing 5 specific things here, and Tonja will share 5 more on her blog, so make sure you click through to read all 10. We are confident that thinking through these 10 Classroom Routines will help your classroom run more smoothly this year! 

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10 Things I Wish I Knew My First Day Teaching

There's no doubt about it. The secret to a successful first day of teaching is being prepared! But what exactly does that look like? How do you plan ahead for something you have never experienced? The truth is, your first day of teaching will be both exciting and stressful, and you probably won't think of everything. You might have trouble falling asleep the night before, you may even have nightmares about your first day going terribly, and you will probably wake up feeling slightly queazy. At least I find this to be true for myself. Every. Single. Year.

This post shares solutions to problems I wasn't expecting my first day as a new teacher. Learn from my mistakes so you can have a successful first day teaching! // Adventures of a Schoolmarm

But don't worry! As Tonja and I continue our series for new teachers, we want to share the 10 Things we WISH someone had told us before our first day of teaching! I will be sharing 5 specific things here, and Tonja will share 5 more on her blog, so make sure you click through to read all 10. We are confident that these 10 Things will help you be SO much better prepared for your first day of school that we ever were!
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Tips for Building a Positive Classroom Culture

What are the best ways to build
positive classroom culture?

Would you believe me if I told you that classrooms with a positive culture all have ONE thing in common? I know, given the variety of classrooms around the world, that's hard to believe. How could it possibly just be ONE thing? But research shows that there really is ONE MAGIC INGREDIENT!    


In his book Engaging Students with Poverty in Mind (which I highly recommend!), Eric Jensen explains that the one thing classrooms with positive culture all have in common is ACADEMIC OPTIMISM. Simply put, students that experience a classroom filled with hope and positive energy try harder. This makes learning more fun for students, which helps sustain their energy and efforts, and the positive cycle continues. This post will share 3 guidelines to help you build and maintain a positive culture in your classroom, whether you are a brand new teacher or an established veteran. Each guideline will also include a variety of strategies and tips for implementation. This will be especially helpful for new teachers as you establish the climate of your very first classroom!

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How to Mentally Prepare for your First Year Teaching

Do you need ideas about how to prepare
for your first year teaching? 

So, you got the call. Yes, that call. The one that said, "You're hired!" You probably did a happy dance or updated your Facebook status before it really sunk in. And now? You feel this mixture of excitement and overwhelm. Your To Dos have started swirling around in your brain, along with ideas for classroom management, classroom decorations, and lesson ideas. You have no idea where to even start. Sound about right? Welcome to life as a first-year teacher! 

Do you need ideas about how to prepare for your first year teaching?  Are you overwhelmed with no idea where to start? This post focuses on strategies to mentally prepare for your first year of teaching. // Adventures of a Schoolmarm

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! You rocked your interview. You were the best candidate and they believe in you. They want YOU on their team. This is such a great accomplishment and you should be proud of yourself!!! There is nothing like your first year teaching. It will be filled with a whirlwind of emotions, but we are here to help. The Backstage Pass to Teaching Series will be coming to you every Monday to walk you through all the steps of getting ready for your first year.
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Résumé Writing for Teachers

Do you need help with writing a résumé for teaching jobs? 

Your résumé should demonstrate both your professionalism and your passion for teaching. It should showcase your commitment to maximizing students’ achievement through best practices in education. It is your opportunity to highlight your strengths that make you the best candidate for the positions in which you are applying.


Do you need help writing a résumé for teaching jobs? This post will walk you through the steps to writing a traditional teaching résumé that best represents you as a professional. Your résumé should demonstrate both your professionalism and your passion for teaching, showcasing commitment to maximizing students’ achievement through best practices in education. It is your opportunity to showcase your strengths that make you the best candidate for the positions in which you are applying.

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Backstage Pass to Teaching: A Blog Series Especially for New Teachers

Are you getting ready to head into your first year teaching? Are you simultaneously more excited than ever AND completely overwhelmed with no idea where to start? Don't worry. That's completely normal! We've got you covered. Backstage Pass to Teaching is a blog series written especially for YOU. We will be posting every Monday this summer with a topic specifically related to you. Even better, you are going to get two entirely different perspectives on that topic!

Backstage Pass to Teaching: A Blog Series Especially for New Teachers by Adventures of a Schoolmarm and Smart Puppy Learning

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First Year Teachers Blog Series


Congratulations on being hired for your first teaching position! In addition to feeling excited, you may also be feeling a little overwhelmed. Don't worry. I have been mentoring new teachers for several years, and this feeling is completely normal! This blog series is written especially with YOU in mind. Be sure to check back in every Monday for new content that is tailored specifically to meet your needs. Also, don't be afraid to ask questions in the comments below! 

Looking for a community of new teachers to connect with on Facebook? Join our >>New Teachers Unite!<< group to share ideas, ask questions, and connect with other new teachers around the globe.   

Live links will be updated as the series continues this summer.

Do you need help writing a résumé for teaching jobs? This post will walk you through the steps to writing a traditional teaching résumé that best represents you as a professional. Your résumé should demonstrate both your professionalism and your passion for teaching, showcasing commitment to maximizing students’ achievement through best practices in education. It is your opportunity to showcase your strengths that make you the best candidate for the positions in which you are applying.  
Do you need ideas about how to prepare for your first year teaching?  Are you overwhelmed with no idea where to start? This post focuses on strategies to mentally prepare for your first year of teaching. // Adventures of a Schoolmarm


This post shares solutions to problems I wasn't expecting my first day as a new teacher. Learn from my mistakes so you can have a successful first day teaching! // Adventures of a Schoolmarm




Building quality relationships with parents can be hard. We can have great relationships with 99% of our students' families, but it takes just one difficult parent to leave us feeling like failures. This post is full of real, actionable strategies to help teachers when they are facing challenges with parent communication.











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Teaching Elapsed Time on a Number Line


Are your students struggling with ELAPSED TIME 
math problems? These strategies really helped my students!  

Are your students struggling to learn elapsed time? There are a variety of methods and strategies for teaching elapsed time, but using a number line is one of my favorites. // Adventures of a Schoolmarm


Elapsed time is such a tricky concept to teach in a way that students understand. The passage of time is such an abstract concept that students really struggle to master this skill. There are a variety of methods and strategies for teaching elapsed time, but using a number line is one of my favorites. My students especially love using different colored pencils for each of the steps!

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5 Types of Knowledge Used to Construct Meaning in Math


We see it in media everywhere: American students are not able to compete with students from other countries, especially in the areas of math and science. People are becoming increasingly concerned that students do not have the skills they need in order to be successful in a global economy. Whether you agree with these statements or not, one thing is certain: teachers carry an immense responsibility to give our children a solid foundation so they can become productive members of society.


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