Academic Engagement in the Home Stretch

You’ve made it to the last few months of the academic year! From spring fever to state testing, there are lots of reasons why students might need a nudge to stay engaged in academics around this time of year. Here are some tips that can help!
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Engaging Middle Schoolers During the Holiday Season

With interrupted classroom schedules, school vacations, and increased disruptive student behaviors, managing the classroom can feel like a daunting task during the winter holiday season. With a little strategizing, you can help…
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Joyful Endings: The Last Few Weeks of School

Although we hope that our students’ learning won’t stop just because school does, it’s good to help them reach a sense of closure during the last few weeks of the year. Good…
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Class Memory Books

On Move-Up Day, a rite of passage for the children at my school, I tend to feel a bit wistful as the second graders I've been teaching head off to meet their…
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Reflecting on Your Teaching Year

At the end of another school year, it's tempting to count the days left, wave goodbye to my class, pack up my room, and mentally check out for the summer. I've earned…
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Making Up for Lost Time

"Maybe we'll get to teach in February." That's been the joke at my school after snow, ice, and extreme cold, plus holidays and teacher workdays meant that last month we had only…
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November Blues

What teachers have to deal with at this time of year (in addition to teaching, of course) can be daunting—writing report cards, meeting with families at conferences, grading papers, adjusting to a…
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When the Teacher Is Away

For years, I had wanted to travel with my father to India, his native country. Finally, I had the opportunity—but the trip meant I would miss five days of school right after…
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Wrapping Up the School Year

You can do this one in conjunction with packing up the classroom library: each child chooses a favorite book and tries to convince classmates to read it over the summer. There are…
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Need a New Mattress?

At this time of year, people who work in schools often start feeling a bit frayed. Now that the school year is well underway, the "honeymoon period" of the first weeks is…
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Celebrating Friendship

Take time at the end of the school year to help children reflect on how they have worked to get to know each other, efforts they have made to be kind, and…
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Reflecting on Hopes and Goals

As the school year winds down, how will your students reflect on the hopes, dreams, and goals they set for this year? Many books could inspire this sort of reflection, including those…
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Read-Alouds for Remembering

How has your class grown this year? What acts of kindness have they done for each other? What have they learned? What do you hope they will remember? Children's books can be…
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Bringing the School Year to a Strong Finish

The end of the school year is an emotional time. By this time, many students (and teachers!) are eager for summer vacation, yet many children have mixed feelings about leaving the comforting…
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Starting Over at Mid-Year

Last week on Facebook we asked, "What's your advice for someone who's taking over for another teacher in the middle of the year?" and you shared so many great ideas! Several people…
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Holiday Celebrations

Winter holiday celebrations! They’re such a big part of American school life. But as our schools grow more diverse, traditional celebrations can leave some children and families feeling excluded or uncomfortable. Also,…
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Why Wait?

Oddly enough, I have been thinking a lot about New Year's resolutions lately. Specifically, I think about how I can't wait for January so I can start getting back into a healthful…
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Keep Learning Going During Holiday & Vacation Times

Suddenly, it seems like the class is falling apart. Classroom routines that were going smoothly just a few weeks ago now seem rough around the edges. More and more children are forgetting…
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Summer Reading: Access & Choice

I’d just read Tina Valentine’s post called “Will Your Students Keep Learning This Summer?” when I happened on another article on the same topic in the current International Reading Association newsletter. “Stopping…
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Will Your Students Keep Learning This Summer?

Did you know that two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading can be related directly to unequal summer learning opportunities? Even though I've seen firsthand how students can lose ground in their…
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Planning for Success: Classroom Celebrations

A reader recently asked about including children with challenging behaviors in year-end celebrations. Should children with persistent behavior issues be allowed to participate in this type of celebration? The short answer is "yes."Still,…
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Field Trip Fundamentals

I recently had the pleasure of watching a talented museum guide lead an excited group of fourth graders through a well-designed interactive exhibit about Lewis and Clark’s trip west at St. Louis’…
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Behavior Challenges in the Homestretch?

It's April. It's tempting to think that by now students understand our expectations and know how to behave, so we can all just coast to the end of the year. But, in…
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The Last Days of School

Endings can be difficult for both children and adults. As the last days of school approach, the children in my first grade classroom and I will be feeling a range of emotions,…
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Reflecting on Classroom Routines

What routines do you use in your classroom? Which are going well? Which still need some work?
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Reaffirming Community after a Vacation

Students are often a bit out of the routine of the classroom after a vacation, making this a good time to do activities that reaffirm the group’s sense of community. Plan post-vacation…
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Handling the Holidays: Morning Meeting Message

Tips on using Morning Meeting Messages and the last part of Morning Meeting, reading the message together, to set a positive tone during the build-up to winter holidays and vacation. Winter themes.…
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