Top Teaching

And ACTION! Math Instruction When You’re Out of the Classroom

MovieclipartThough it’s only the beginning of October, it’s time to write sub plans. Whether you're out because of a sick child, professional development, or a doctor’s appointment, creative approaches to planning for a substitute in your math (or any) class help the day run more smoothly. I've found that recording video lessons for the substitute helps enormously when I have to miss class. Read on to find out how you can create your own library of video lessons for the days that you're out of the classroom.

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Six Steps to a Successful Back-to-School Night

BacktoschoolExtracurricular teachers — those who teach art, music, or technology — fight for parents' attention at curriculum nights and parent/teacher conferences. For tech educators who want to increase traffic to their room, help is here! Read on for six steps to attract parents and begin a substantive conversation that will last throughout the year.





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A Key Ingredient to Comprehension: Vocabulary

WordgirlVocabulary instruction is one of the key ingredients our students require to achieve reading success. All students need to have an understanding of what words mean and how to use them in order to find meaning in what they read.

This week, I’d like to share a recipe that anyone can follow for teaching our primary standards in vocabulary and concept development. Read on for meaningful, easy-to-prep ideas for teaching antonyms, synonyms, compound words, and classifying words. And don't forget to check out Scholastic's Word Girl Competition Webcast, another opportunity for students to enrich and test their vocabulary.


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Getting the Wiggles Out and Catching Students’ Attention

IMG_1362Picture this: You get all of your students to the rainbow rug for a fun and exciting story. As you look out, anxious to begin, you are greeted by a sea of movement. . . . Mason is lying down on the rug. Maya is playing with her dress. Mike and Chris are play-fighting. Miguel is rolling his head in circles and pulling on Carson’s shirt. You say to yourself, “These kids just can’t sit still!” 

The beginning of the school year can be a very wiggly time, especially in preschool and early childhood classrooms. How do you catch and keep students’ attention while allowing for the wiggle time they need? Click "read more" to find a few ideas for getting the wiggles out and helping students focus.

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Getting the Class Back on Track

Vasicek_shutterstock_62662183_crazedwomanThe beginning of the year was hectic, and the procedures you tried to put in place didn't really stick. Looking back, there are definitely things you would have done differently. Plus, as the novelty of a new school year wears off, some students are really testing the limits. You realize your class is off track and you want to fix it before it completely derails. What do you do? Try these strategies to get your class back on track.

Photo ©: iStockphoto.

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The Common Core Crosswalk

  Blow_iStock000011442357_kidsandflagAligning curriculum to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is a complex, yet rejuvenating journey, and one that should not be traveled alone. My summer quest to align my curriculum resulted in many trials and tribulations; however, it was a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with colleagues to strengthen our educational system, and we had the satisfaction of knowing that we were paving the way for others.

Read on to watch a video illustrating my crosswalk process — that, is the process of aligning previous units, identifying gaps, and eliminating less important content — and to download the graphic organizer that guided me through this complicated process.  

Image: iStockphoto © KeithBishop.

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Building a Classroom on a Budget

IMG_2158Did you move to a new grade/new school/new job (or any combination of these) this year? Are you thinking, "Help! I don’t have anything"? Believe me, whether you are new to the teaching profession or new to your grade, we have all been in your position. Teachers are notorious for spending out of their own pockets for their classrooms, but also for finding creative ways to turn "finds" into learning tools. As we begin the new year, I would like to offer some tips I have learned along the way for building a classroom on a budget.

Photo: The furniture for our reading area, including the bookshelves and the table, were all donated.

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HopperandwilsonHi, folks. I'm sure you've all been busy helping to foster new friendships in your classrooms as the school year begins. I thought I'd help you out by turning you onto these new friendship-themed books.


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Finding Literacy Inspiration: Why It's Okay to Be Addicted to Pinterest

AnchorchartForty-one tabs. Seriously, I had 41 tabs open on my laptop at once. Forty-one glorious gems that I just could not close, many of them printable resources ready to be utilized immediately. Time spent finding these resources? Probably thirty minutes. Tops.

Anyone who has ever touched Pinterest can attest that it's highly addictive. However, I have found the time I spend on the site to be extremely beneficial. If you haven't heard of this resource yet, you are totally missing out. Forget Googling, and learn how you can peruse the Internet, find incredible educational resources, and share them with your friends in a visually appealing way. 

Read this post to learn about some of the quick and easy literacy ideas I've found through Pinterest. I'll also spotlight a few archived posts on literacy, where you'll find many videos and printables.

Photo: Visit The Inspired Apple (tab #32) for some gorgeous anchor chart and lesson ideas.

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Rethinking Motivation for the 2011–2012 School Year — Thanks Daniel Pink! Part Two

Class“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.

             —Albert Einstein

Welcome back for the second part of my two-part series on motivating students this school year and beyond. The picture to the right shows my homeroom students the first week of school. I am amazed by the expressions of determination on their faces every time I look at this photograph. In fact, I had the picture enlarged to a four-foot by three-foot poster and hung it outside our classroom door as a reminder that curiosity and excitement about learning do exist, even at this age. And without vigilance and the willingness to grant them autonomy, this flame can be extinguished in an instant.

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The opinions expressed in Top Teaching are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic Inc.