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Teachers Care for Oklahoma

In response to the tornadoes that ripped through Moore Oklahoma, a number of teachers on TpT have teamed together to offer four different product bundles as fundraisers for the victims of the devastation.  With the destruction and loss of life at the elementary schools, many of us were touched and felt like we needed to help in some way.  Hopefully, though these bundles, we can make a difference for the children as they return to school next year.

100% of the proceeds for this fundraising event is being collected by TPT, and will be distributed by check to the appropriate Moore Oklahoma School District Representative earmarked to specifically aid the teachers as they begin the process of rebuilding.

K-2 Bundle 1

K-2 Bundle 2

3-6 Bundle 1

3-6 Bundle 2 

Michele  :)

In the Students' Hands

There comes a time with every child when the parents must allow them to go off on their own to do their own thing.  We often talk about the baby bird first using its wings to fly, and while poetic, the real thing scares the crap out of us!  As teachers, it is the same feeling as we end the school year, knowing our students will fly off to the next grade or to their next adventure in life.  We question... did we do all we needed to do?  Did we do it right?  What should I have done differently?

Every year, on those final days, I take time to say goodbye to my students.  I am not a "party" teacher, and I was never good with the sappy "see you laters."  Instead, I tried to organize a simple discussion with my kids.  I gave that "What I hope for you..." speech and I told them as a whole group how much I had learned from them through the year.  I then opened the floor to their thoughts and concerns, often sitting there, hoping I would hear their praise and affirmations.

I taught 6-12th grades.  That praise and affirmation stuff I hoped for just isn't second nature for them.  Expecting them to openly, in front of their peers, discuss their dedication and appreciation of me and all I did for their lives just wasn't going to happen.

Now, I have to admit, I did have some of those classes, usually my AP or Magnet kids, who were open and appreciative.  They came with gifts, Starbucks cards, and cards filled with wonderful thoughts and wishes.  Here's the twist... I was less concerned about their opinions than I was about those who I could just never figure out.  I wanted to know that I reached them all... not just the ones I knew were "my" kids.  I wanted to know that I made a difference in ALL of their lives.  I HAD to know!

So, I did what I had to do... I gave my students one last assignment.  I gave them a Final Exit Slip.  Only this one was not to assess them; it was to assess me.  And they took me up on the opportunity to tell me all their thoughts, sometimes good, sometimes bad!

I have learned more from those exit slips each year than I learned in all of my education classes combined.  I've learned what I do right, and what I need to improve upon.  I've also learned that my perceptions are often WAY off!

And when I read those comments from the students I worried about most, I am reassured that in one way or another, I made a difference.  I receive that affirmation from them, in their own words.  And sometimes those words can be harsh, but they are what I need to remind me why I do what I do!


Need an Exit Slip to use with your students on the last day of school?  Try this one:

End of Year Student Survey Exit Slip

Thinking About Next Year?

For many, this school year hasn't yet ended, but this is the PERFECT time to begin your planning for next year.  And, while many of you are screaming that you need your break first, I argue this will help you shorten your planning and preparation time by leaps and bounds!

First off, as you are wrapping up this school year, what worked or didn't work for your students is fresh in your mind.  As you begin cleaning up (or packing up) your classroom for the summer, it is much more time efficient to sort your resources and organize them for the coming year.  If an activity was a complete fail, get rid of it.  If it needs modification, pack it for your summer work.  If it was the perfect class activity, keep in handy for your new crew!
Next, almost every teacher in the United States is under pressure to implement the Common Core Standards into their curriculum.  This will be a huge task for many, and planning ahead can save you from the stress of trying to get it all together at the last minute.  More importantly, as the weeks wrap up, your co-workers are all there for collaboration and team planning for the CCS implementation.  Divide and conquer is a much better method than struggling all on your own over the summer when you would rather be on that nice, warm beach!
Finally, the best reason for planning ahead is you!  You are already in "teacher mode" right now.  As you rest and relax over the summer, it will be even harder to tackle that to-do list for the coming year.  And, if you already have your first weeks planned before your close the classroom door this year, think of the stress-free feeling you will have as you greet your new babies as they enter your door in August/September!
Happy Planning!


Time Filling Activities

While many teachers struggle at the end of the year to get through their content with the few moments left in the school year, others find themselves with time left at the end of the year that they do not want to go to waste.  What to do?

Make it fun!  Make it fulfilling!  Make it something to remember!
  • Review the big concepts using games or "big paper" activities.
  • Allow students choice in the lessons and activities they do in the final weeks.
  • Turn the lessons over to the students for team/group instruction and competition!
  • Review with play, such as creating paper dolls or doing scavenger hunts.
  • Use the time for reflection and discussion on what we can all do better in the next year!
Here are a few tools to help you utilize those final days!

Allow students to pick their favorite characters from the books or lessons they learned in the year.  Create paper dolls and organize the dolls into themes or categories around the room!

Turn your classroom into a competitive stage with student-created board games on the different units you have covered throughout the school year!

Engage your students in an Olympic Competition!  Allow students to learn or review while competing in games of reason, strategy and fitness.  Be ready for the award ceremony, too!
Review all of your year's content with relays and other exciting individual or group activities.  You'll be amazed at how your students will work together to win these fun review games!
Keep your students learning new content while they have fun at the end of the year!  Use scavenger hunts to introduce them to fun facts about the presidents, new countries, or any other topic!
Have students plan their own travel itinerary as they learn about the history, costs, and excitement of planning that perfect vacation.  Travel the U.S., your local region, or even the world!

Happy Teaching!


Teacher Appreciation SALE!

Teachers deserve appreciation!  And this week, you will receive the perfect gift - A Sale at!  Use the promo code TAD13 for 10% off all of your purchases at checkout, plus visit My TeachersPayTeachers Store for an additional 10% off!  Be sure to check out all of my new products, and don't forget to stock up on the staples for next year.  What could be better?

Happy Shopping!
Michele :)

A Teacher Appreciation Giveaway!

Super Secondary TpT Giveaway! 
Just in time for Teachers Appreciation Week. 
40 Prizes from TpT's Top Secondary Teacher Stores. 
ONE Grand Prize Winner. 

Jump over to start at either Brittany Wheaton or Danielle Knight's Blogs to enter from May 1st - May 5th.

Danielle Knight and Brittany Wheaton are giving the winner (could be you!) a $10 TpT gift certificate to each of their stores and 40 other teachers (including me!) have made donations for the giveaway!

Good luck!  

Michele  :)