Sunday, November 8, 2015

November Teaching Secrets

I don't know about y'all, but I'm so glad I'm officially over the Back to School madness. We're far enough into the year that I feel like I've started to hit a groove: all fall happenings (Meet the Teacher, Fall Conferences, and Open House, oh my!) are crossed off the list, those relationships with my students are really starting to develop, and my evenings no longer feel like a mad scramble.

And, more importantly, the upcoming breaks are on the horizon. Hallelujah.

Anyway, I jumped at the chance to talk about November secrets with Kelly Anne from Appleslices and Martina from The Hungry Teacher. They're seriously some of my favorite Instagram inspiration (and comic relief). Also, not only am I totally jealous of Kelly Anne's recent gorgeous travels to Boston and Martina's totally brave jump from 5th to 6th grade (talk about my big teaching goal!), but I'm also enamored with the idea of sharing how I plan to survive enjoy 5th grade until break.

Talk about total excitement over here.

Keep reading for my ideas and to enter to win an Amazon Gift Card and some amaaaaazing products. Happy November, friends!

First up, I have to state the obvious.

Crazy holiday season means I can totallyyyyy engage my fifthies by using some seasonally-themed products.

Like, my kiddos were so into our simile and metaphor review using some turkeys and coloring.

We also loved using this freebie to introduce Main Idea with articles about Thanksgiving, Veteran's Day, and football from 24/7 Teacher and ReadWorks.

(PS If you haven't discovered ReadWorks or 24/7 Teacher's engaging articles yet, add that to your to-do list ASAP!)

I also plan to have the kids make their own word search using vocabulary we've been studying, and using a fictional review foldable to totally enjoy Balloons over Broadway for our #classroombookaday. And, time permitting, we'll create our own football player and use figurative language to describe him.

Seriously, seasons make the best inspiration. #amiright

It's November, we've been in our school routine for a bit, and a good chunk of my kids are getting restless with the option of reading as an early finisher activity.

So, this is the month I bust out what I call one of the best TPT purchases I've ever made: Rachel Lynette's Word Link Cards.

Seriously, my fifthies LOVE these. I had to snap a quick picture of two precious girlies completely engaged with these cards while some classmates finished a test.

The challenge is figuring out what word links all three of the terms on the card together. In other words, what word could you put before or after each of the listed terms to create new (and sensible) things? For example, the card shown has "seat," "fan," and "leather." The girls figured out the answer is "belt" since the words on the card become "seatbelt," "fan belt," and "leather belt." Even my kiddos who can't sit still longer than a second and a half are completely mesmerized by this activity.

SO much fun and SUCH a sanity saver for this teacher!

Hence why I save this early finisher activity for this time of year. ;)

In the midst of all these classroom hints, I do have to advocate for my favorite sanity saver.

Food planning.

Such a old-lady sounding topic, yeah?


But regardless, making my lunches every Sunday and menu planning for the week ahead totally saves my butt.

If you're needing a swift kick in the rear for convincing, check out my Instagram (where I post my weekly lunches and, if I'm extra caffeinated that week, whatever dinner recipes were faaaantastic) and my menu planning blog (where I actually just list out the links of what I'm making). And, if you're interested, I use these containers for my lunches.

I may have some long or rough days of teaching, but at least I can celebrate that I'm not having the what's-for-dinner freak out. And, the whole eating well and cooking totally helps me with my #5 tip below.

One word: Playdoh.

This time of year, we're learning Greek and Latin Roots, as well as -DUH - continuously reviewing for standardized testing.

To shake things up, I introduce Playdoh spelling.

Why let the little kids have all the fun?

And, at this point in the year, I have enough student relationships and behavior management developed that breaking out Playdoh wouldn't turn into a complete circus.

I have laminated vocabulary mats with various Language Arts vocabulary terms and Greek and Latin roots that the kids choose to use playdoh to spell.

Talk about total engagement.

Take a peek at the packs I use to make this happen here and here.

 And my last sanity saver? Two weeks ago, I not only deleted my school email from my phone, but I challenged myself not to check my school email past 5PM.

Such a game changer. I'm not able to completely turn off my teacher brain, but separating myself from my email really does help me leave work at work.

This month I'm continuing to challenge myself to actively pursue balance. Because let's be real: I need myself to be at my best, since I consider the first semester of school to be the worst.

Go love on yourself, friends!

And speaking of love, click below to enter our lovely giveaway, and check out the lovely Martina and Kelly Anne to hear their love and wisdom.

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