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Classroom management

Cel-e-brate test times -- C'mon!

Yes, the old Kool and the Gang song rings true — even for state testing! One of the things I feel very successful about as an upper grade teacher is my ability to kill test anxiety! Even though this doesn't have too much to do with Common Core tactics and struggles, I find that anything that lightens the testing mood always helps every classroom!

How disruptive is a disruptive child?

As teachers, we know that a disruptive child can change a classroom environment. When a child is acting out, the teacher has to spend time redirecting that child, and then refocus the lesson for all students. Over the course of a day, interruptions from a disruptive child (i.e., a child with low self-regulation skills) really wear on a teacher and students. But does it have lasting effects on that child's learning? How about the learning of other students in the class?

First impressions with classroom doors

As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression! I thought it might be fun to show some pictures of back-to-school classroom doors. Please check out our Pinterest board to see some great ones. If you have a picture of your own door to share, please let us know by commenting below. Enjoy!

My teacher gives more homework

Do you ever hear this complaint? Kids know which teacher gives the most homework AND which teacher gives almost no homework at all. I think there are two issues here: how much homework is good? And should teachers at the same grade level give the same amount of homework?

Text sets: One theme, several books

Teachers often have a specific theme or content they want to cover, but have a wide range of reading levels in their classroom. One way to handle that situation is to have many books on that one theme, but the books are written at different reading levels. These are often called text sets. I wrote here about a text set on persistence. ReadWriteThink has some good guidelines for creating text sets.

Comprehension posters for your classroom

I recently stumbled on a site that promises to consume far too much of my time! But I love the possibilities of Pinterest, a virtual pinboard. Pinterest lets you organize and share all the great things you find on the Web in a very visual way. It's free to join, but there's an invitation process you'll see on the site.

New reality series: Kindergarten Teacher

Congratulations to Patricia Raina, from Suisun Valley K-8 School in Fairfield, California! Ms. Raina was one of three teachers from across the nation selected as winners of an NBC Education Nation essay contest.

Her idea? A new reality show: Kindergarten Teacher. Ms. Raina's essay is cleverly written in the form of "rounds" Contestants try to move from round to round, although certain things disqualify a contestant immediately.

Feeling overwhelmed?

As the new school year starts, the reality of the classroom really sets in. The kids and their personalities, the mounds of paperwork and homework, and all the careful watching and listening easily adds up to a 50 hour day! I clearly remember how overwhelmed I felt during my first year of teaching.

What does good homework look like?

Teachers give homework just about every night of the week. A good homework assignment can provide students with practice with a skill already taught, can prepare students for an upcoming test, and can extend a project or topic under study. A poorly designed homework assignment can bring tears and frustration and a lost opportunity to build a bridge between what's being taught in school and talked about at home. Homework struggles are particularly real for struggling readers and for students with LD.

New school year resolutions

I recently had dinner with some teacher friends who are preparing for the new school year. The conversation turned to "New School Year Resolutions." With their permission, I thought I'd share three of the resolutions with you and also find out what sorts of teaching (or parenting) resolutions you're making at the start of this school year.

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"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall." — Roald Dahl