Getting ready for back to school also means getting ready for Back to School Night aka Open House. Back to School Night at my school is for parents only. It is meant to be a time for teachers to introduce themselves, the classroom expectations, and an overview of the upcoming year. Planning a successful Back to School Night can be stressful, so I am excited to share a few of my favorite tips. 

1. Letter Home
Send a letter home to parents and/or guardians with the date and time of the Back to School Night. Actually, send home a letter, an email reminder, and post it on your website. Making sure families know the date and time is one of the hardest parts of the whole thing. It may seem like a simple thing, but let's face it, people are busy. Thoughtful reminders can help out even the most organized family. 

2. Sign In Spot
Create a sign-in spot in your classroom. I place a small table by the door in my classroom. I put a container of pens and pencils, copies of handouts, and important forms on the table. As parents enter the room they grab a pen, the handouts, and forms and find a seat. (I use flexible seating, so the students do not have a specific spot.) Parents fill out the forms as everyone is getting settled. The sign-in sheet allows me to make sure that the families that were unable to attend receive the handouts. 

3. Video Presentation
This tip has been a lifesaver! Create your presentation and then make a video to share with parents that couldn't attend. They will get to hear and see the information you presented. Now, I know what you are thinking, you don't want to video yourself in front of the room talking. Me neither! There's an easier way. I create my presentation and then import it into Google Slides. I use the Screencastify extension in Google Chrome to record my voice going through the presentation. I do this before the actual event. I treat it like a practice run of the actual night. Then, I link the video to my website for the parents to view. You can check out my editable presentation here

4. Contact Information
Let your parents know how to contact you. I include this information in my presentation, but also make magnets with the information to give to families. 

The magnets I use are 2" x 3.5". I include my email address, my class website, and the information to follow our class Instagam. Click here if you would like a free template. 

5. Donation Station
Designate an area to place a list of things that you would love to have donated to the classroom. There are lots of creative ways to do this. Here are a few ideas:
  • Fishing for Donations - Use fish shaped cut outs and write one item per fish. Place in a cute fishbowl or glass container.
  • Helping Hands - Use hand shapes and write one item per hand. 
  • Classroom Lifesavers - Make colorful lifesaver shapes and write one item per shape. 
6. Parent Messages
Ask parents and/or guardians to leave a message for students before leaving. They can write about something they liked in the classroom or write a positive message. I place sticky notes and markers near my chart paper stand. Parents write a message and stick it to the chart paper. Remember to write notes to students that didn't have a parent present. My students LOVE reading these messages. 

Back to School Night doesn't have to be stressful. I hope you found a tip or two to try out this year. Here's to a fabulous new school year!


Most people love when the end of April rolls around.  Warmer weather (especially if you live in New England), longer days, and the thought that the summer months are almost here.  I am here to tell you that this is NOT what teachers think about at the end of April.
Some teacher friends have expressed frustration that they are unable to use Google Classroom because they are not in a 1:1 situation. Plot twist! You CAN use Google Classroom with one student or a group or students. The first step is to set it up so that your students have access. (You can read more about setting up classes here.) Then, the possibilities are endless. Here are some of my FAVORITE ways to use Google with small groups:

Morning Work
Many teachers start the day off with some type of morning work or bell ringer assignment. One way to approach this is to assign your students to a group and have a list of morning week with the week. Assign different tasks each day for each group. Have one assignment be a digital assignment in Google Classroom. Each group of students would complete it on a different day, but it would all be finished by the end of the week. 

Math Stations
Math stations are organized for small groups of students to complete and then move on to another station after a set amount of time. So, Google Classroom assignments are perfect for math stations! You can assign a digital activity to be completed at one of your math centers. Each group will rotate through. You can easily differentiate activities and track the completion of assignments, too! Check out some of my digital math resources here.

Centers
I am using "centers" as a catch all term for things like centers, daily 5 activities, or any other type of small group work that is done in a subject area. If you have a few Chromebooks, iPads, or computers you can assign a digital activity for students to complete. Writing prompts, digital task cards, or a link to a video to watch are a few possible digital center examples. 

Fast Finishers
We all have at least one! Set your fast finishers up with a digital assignment to complete. If time runs out before he/she can finish the assignment it's not a big deal because it will be waiting the next time the student logs in. 
Flipped Lessons
One way to utilize a few devices in the classroom is to create flipped lessons. This is a great way to meet the needs of all students. If students need to review a lesson or hear it again they can listen to a listen and complete an assignment. A more traditional style of flipped lessons could be done, too. Students could watch a lesson at home on Google Classroom and do the assignments in school.

RTI/Intervention  Groups
Google Classroom is great for intervention groups! Having an assignment for an intervention group to complete would allow the interventionist to work more closely with individual students in the group. Google Forms and Boom Cards are two digital resources that offer data collection. Data collection is a key component for intervention groups. 

Homework
Homework assignments can go digital. Google Classroom can be accessed on smartphones, tablets, computers, iPads, and Chromebooks. Many students could complete homework assignments digitally. Boom Cards are one of my favorite things to assign for homework. Click here to see my Boom Card resources or click here to try a 5th grade fraction set for free.

Google Classroom has helped me in many ways and my classroom is not 1:1.  Have you used Google Classroom with groups of students? Comment below and tell me about your favorite way to use it. 


March is the month that makes many teachers feel queasy because winter break has happened already and spring break seems so far away. Here are a few of my favorite activities to make the long month of March fly by!

Do you use task cards in your classroom? If you answered YES, then you should give Boom Learninga try because it is basically a task card's trendier cousin aka a digital task card. Boom decks can be used on interactive whiteboards, computers, and tablets that have modern browsers (released within the last three years).

There are many things to like about Boom Cards™, but here are some reasons why I LOVE them:

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