How to Backwards Plan and Organize Your Teaching Life


Of all the things that you can do to organize your teacher work life, creating a year plan is absolutely at the top of the importance list.

I’m ALL ABOUT backwards planning! Curriculum mapping and planning for the following school year is a huge part of our end of the year routine. 
A year plan makes it easy to discuss things as a team while looking at the “big picture“. This is our piece of mind. This is our bible. It allows us to embrace our creativity while knowing we are also meeting the needs of all the data driven aspects of our job.
Because we refer to it often, I print a huge copy for my team to refer to throughout the year in addition to our own personal-sized copy.
A thorough curriculum map helps ensure teachers:
  • are planning with purpose
  • have increased comfort/knowledge with grade level standards & expectations
  • cover all key areas of focus during the school year
  • unify disjointed scopes and sequences
  • find clarity and direction for the school year
Honestly, I can't imagine beginning the school year without it. 

For an assortment of reasons, it is definitely in our best interest to be completely aware of exactly what we plan to do with our kiddos while ensuring that we will “hit it all” during the school year. The best and most efficient way to do that is with backwards planning.

Creating a year curriculum map is essential to an organized and well managed school year. 

Click for a comprehensive guide to backwards planning. 



Winter Lips Got You Down?


NOTE:  This is a sponsored post, but the opinions are my own.

Prep Your Lips For Spring!

I live in a cold and dry climate and I love to spend my off time outside.  Add that to the fact that the coldest weather of the year is here so it's time to hydrate your face, body, and lips. Luckily, EOS products are here to keep you comfortable. I have probably 5 of those little lip balms in my purse, car glove compartment and even in my ski jacket.  Life SAVER! 

Because I lack that skill of putting on your lipstick without a mirror, I usually use the natural colored balm, but I also like a little tint, so I have a few of those too. 

The Top Five Tips and Benefits Of EOS

1. Smooth lips

EOS stands for Evolution Of Smooth (did you know that?), and this line can prove that your lips stay happy against the storm. The popular egg shape is easy to stash in your pocket or purse with a smoothing balm you can apply anytime.

2. Tinted and shimmer

When you want to feel fancy, EOS lip balm products will do the trick. Lovely shades match your lips and can add shimmer when you're ready to perfect your pucker.

Tinted colors accentuate your natural lip tone for a subtle flush. In addition, shimmering blends are soft and shiny for a touch of glow atop your pout.

3. Medicated varieties

Lip care isn't always about the look. If you suffer from dry lips (hand raised high) or skin problems, you can be assured this brand will look out for your well being. Medicated and SPF balms are great for day to day use and will keep you protected no matter what the season. 
  
4. Cutesy packaging

If you're familiar with EOS, you know the packaging is key. This brand went above and beyond with colors to please their buyers and lovely prints for a lip balm that will stand out among the crowd.


5. Tasty flavors

With EOS lip balm, you can find bundles of flavors that go together or standalone balms that taste as good as they feel. Lip balms such as Pomegranate Raspberry and Strawberry Sorbet evoke the feeling of freshness on your lips (or wips as my kindergarten students call them.)

Sweet and Vanilla Mint are great for winter freshness upon your pucker. These long-lasting balms provide healing qualities and are easy to stash in your purse or pocket.

Choose EOS For Springtime Flavor


EOS lip balm products provide flavor as well as style. These portable necessities are perfect for daily wear and can be carried around in your bag whenever you're on the go. If you want to go glam or casual, EOS is a great brand for all your beauty needs.


Here's to surviving winter and getting ready for spring!


Animals That Hibernate Classroom Ideas

Animals that hibernate Lesson Plans! You will find ideas and lessons for teaching about animals in winter! Fun activities, reading lessons for The Bear Snores On, crafts and more! Ideas for centers that will keep your kids engaged!
 Winter time is a great time to explore lessons around animals that hibernate!

Animals that Hibernate Books

I have a few favorite books we tend to read every year!  Here are just a few (click on the cover to find the book on Amazon-affiliate link).







As a class, we read Bear Snores On as part of our Engaging Readers Series.  The series also includes an informational text, so we did a little fact collecting!
Hibernating Animals Lesson Plans! You will find ideas and lessons for teaching about animals in winter! Fun activities, reading lessons for The Bear Snores On, crafts and more! Ideas for centers that will keep your kids engaged!

We also did some retelling of the book The Bear Snores On!  This book is so adorable and lends itself to some great conversations!
Hibernating Animals Lesson Plans! You will find ideas and lessons for teaching about animals in winter! Fun activities, reading lessons for The Bear Snores On, crafts and more! Ideas for centers that will keep your kids engaged!

Hibernating Animals Lesson Plans! You will find ideas and lessons for teaching about animals in winter! Fun activities, reading lessons for The Bear Snores On, crafts and more! Ideas for centers that will keep your kids engaged!
You can read more about the lessons and activities we did for animals that hibernate over on my blog.

Click below to read more!




Phonics & Sight Word Practice That Builds Confidence


Hi Peeps!
I love incorporating phonics and sight word practice with chunky monkey. This phonics strategy is awesome for beginning readers.

It is important, however, for beginning readers to address the strategies in realistic situations as well as in isolation.

In 7 Key Components to Effective and Engaging Instruction I stressed the importance of working on both phonics and sight words in independent and guided practice. This incorporates rigor, builds mastery, and improves fluency.

It is essential that students build confidence in working independently with phonic and sight word skills. One of the best ways to do that is by incorporating these important reading skills in as many things as possible.

I often have my students highlight or circle phonic chunks as well as the sight words we are studying for the week in worksheets and readings that we do throughout the week. Students notice the chunks of focus are not found in isolation. They are in every day text.

THIS is common core. Real life application. Understanding new learning in the context of where it is found in the real world.

Read More about how your kiddos can deepen their understanding, fluency and reading confidence.




Whale of a Time


Hi blog hoppers!

I wanted to quickly stop by and let you know that I have been having a 'whale of a time' recently, completely and utterly inspired by some sketches I've been doing and books we have been reading here at home.

My little boy Sam (he's in Kindergarten) has just hit his sweet-spot in reading and literally cannot stop pulling books from our shelves. He has also started drawing All. The. Things. But I will save that for another post!

If you have missed some of the whale resources I have shared recently, be sure to pop over and get them today.


When, why and how to teach children about whales?

Besides being awfully cute and engaging, whales make a perfect stimulus for many learning activities in the classroom:
  • learning the consonant digraph 'wh'
  • learning to write animal information reports (there are loads of interesting and awesome facts about whales to research)
  • responding to literature (there are a plethora of beautiful texts featuring whales)
  • learning about our world and environment in science (children on the east coast of Australia may be currently witnessing whales and their calves in the ocean and at the beach - use this as a springboard for learning about these fascinating creatures)
  • looking at photos and pictures of whales and their habitat to inspire some lovely expressive artworks
Please stop by my blog to find these goodies, I would love to share them with you. I look forward to sharing some more ideas with you next week. 

- Mel (From the Pond)