Educator Blogs: A Helpful Hand

Not long into my search for educator blogs I realized I have MANY teacher blogs already bookmarked myself and a few I specifically follow often. Heck, they make up quite of bit of my pinterest tags-go figure. They are a wonderful way to see what others are doing, a different sort of collaboration, complete with tips and suggestions based on in class experience.  Just the helpful hand we all need.

I loved exploring 1plus1plus1equals1 over the past few days.  My daughter is 3 ½ so I constantly look for ways to extend her learning at home and build her curiosity and this blog is perfect for that.  It is elementary level but in a home school atmosphere-very convenient ideas when I have to keep my daughter home when daycare is closed waiting for Covid results.

  • So often in teaching we feel we are reinventing the wheel and it is refreshing when you see that someone else has already tackled the mountain you are looking at.  While this Behind the scenes-storing printables post is an example of what to do with elementary printables, I use a ton of manipulatives in a world language classroom, even at the high school level.  Blogs can be so useful when they include instructions, the why, and PICTURES of what is going on.
  • You can read sight words year-end review Reflection is a valuable part of the planning process and in blogs are an amazing why to cover that to reference later and to help out fellow educators.  In this post the author sums up a particular topic and goes into why she made the decision to skip certain units within it.  While doing a pre-assessment she realized the student already had mastery of most of those last words.  She could move on while making a point of lightly reviewing those words naturally as she went through the next topic and keep the student engaged.
  • Behind the scenes lapbooking This post briefly touches on what lapbooking looks like in the preschool/kindergarten level including the process for choosing one or deciding to make your own.  I really like that she mentions using more than one at a time when her son was having an easy time with lessons, and just one when lessons become more rigorous.  She also links many other useful sites and blogs so you can explore further, fall down a rabbit hole exploring answers to questions you came up with as you read and not come up until 2 hours later.  Teachers really are lifelong learners.

SrtaSpanish is an amazing blog with all sorts of suggestions for the world language classroom.  I love looking through her interactive and interpersonal activities and reading her thoughts on adapting them to different units.

  • 5 ways to do a digital gallery walk was a God send. I use gallery walks in most of my units to get students up and moving around the room while still having the time to go around my self to help where needed.  Having to switch to online learning has completely upended how I do everything in my courses and seeing options.  She stresses the importance of starting with a tool you are already comfortable with and going from there.  For me that would be PowerPoint as we don’t have google classroom.
  • Persona especial quarter 1 reflections Finding ways to work on interpersonal and presentational skills with lower level language students is extremely important and Srta Spanish goes into great detail how she uses “Persona especial” to accomplish this as part of her weekly routine.  Using it to review old sentence structures, basic question answer format is good enough already, but she also explains how she is going to expand it to offer writing opportunities for her students as well.
  • 7 ways to weekend chat was great to read because it reaffirmed one of my favorite weekly routines-having students share about their weekends.  She offers great scaffolding ideas to build students skills as you slowly introduce the routine. This helps avoid a smash and burn.  Using Quizlet to help students review formats, modeling to show how you want them to present-plus they learn about you and practice listening skills at the same time, and starting with writing time to allow students to gather their thoughts are all tips.

Organized classroom is what it says-an amazing collection of different ways to get stuff categorized or stored so we don’t pull our hair out finding what we know we already put tons of hours into creating.

  • Magnetic letter fun goes through many ways to take something ordinary like magnetic letters and use them to keep a child engaged and reinforce letter names and sounds.  I really like that she offers suggestions for what to do about finding a magnetic surface other than the fridge or chalkboard-use a cookie tray!  Finding ways to use one tool in a multitude of different activities is necessary in any classroom and this post is the perfect starting point.
  • DIY pencil pouches is a post showing how to make quick pencil pouches for students that go in three ring binders.  As she explains, some kids just need that extra boost to get them organized.  Let’s face it-we as teachers sometimes need that boost, even the OCD ones that are already organized.  The author Charity Preston even writes about using them to organize different activities or flashcards for students.  Immediately I started considering how I could use them to sort out manipulatives I use at station rotation and am betting I can combine this idea with the one from 1plus1plus1equals1! I love how she always expands on her idea and purpose of the post.  Reading the posts is helping me use the same thinking strategy as I work through my own ideas.
  • With my school starting online this year our staff is trying to make an effort at the start to teach students how to organize file folders on their computers, etc. Custom Desktops is a great suggestion for making an image to set as the background on student computers (teachers too-though they would probably look different).  Creating an image with visual blocks and labels so students can drag items on their computer desktop into specific easy to find/see locations on their computer could really help ease frustrations. I also liked that this can be a teaching project on showing students how to use different aspects of a program before using it for a class project. I liked it so much I have already tried it with my students and had quite a few thank me for taking the time to have them do it.

So many thoughts to explore and help me make sense of what is going on in my own classroom without being limited to my own department (I love them dearly but we are only so many-benefits us all to get fresh ideas). Each one I read leads me to another great idea I need to write down for later. Massive teacher tool box at the ready.

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