As I cozy up with yet another homemade pumpkin spice latte this week… it’s shameful how many I’ve had… I am reminded of how thankful I am for this time of year. Without a doubt, fall is hands down my favorite time of year, which is apparent in my Fall Fanatic Pinterest board (check it out), my undeniable love for outfits featuring scarves and boots, and my obsession with turning leaves. But adding fall into my home is just too much fun! So with that spirit in mind, I created a thanksgiving printable for you today! Enjoy your freebies!
These printables come in three different colors, all sized 8.5″ x 11″. Simply click on the download buttons below and print out a copy to frame in your home. So thankful for you! Enjoy :0)
Morgan and I couldn’t be more excited to finally announce to you all that we’re adding a little helper to our workshop this spring! Baby boy West is still name-less but is expected to grace us with his presence in mid-March. With the busy stocking season upon us and holidays just around the bend, we’ll be preparing for his arrival in no time! We can’t wait to meet you little man 🙂
Welcome back, friends! This week we’ve been talking about all the reasons why you need a classroom blog and we’ve set up your very own. How did it go yesterday? Any questions? Leave them in the comment area and I’ll help you work through it. Today we’re talking about creating posts and how I use my blog in my classroom (e.g. how often I post, what my posts consist of, and setting up a template for quick use).
Now that your blog is set up, and I’m sure you’ll be tweaking it nonstop until you love it, it’s time to figure out how to post and create a vision for your blog in your classroom on a daily basis.
My Vision for my classroom blog: My blog acts as my go-to on a daily basis. We have a chromebook cart in my classroom and at the start of each day, my students are expected to get their chromebook and open up to the blog before the bell rings. This keeps my students accountable and on time. But that’s not all, the blog gives my students very specific directions before the class even starts, making my life SO much easier.
I’ve set up a template for each blog post with the following information:
Today I will – where daily objectives are posted for that lesson
Take out – This section tells students what they need to have out on their desk that day to be prepared (for example, a pen, homework, novel, etc.) This saves time right off the bat while you wait for your kids to shuffle around.
Agenda- A basic list of what we’ll be accomplishing that day
Homework – Any homework for the evening is recorded with any links attached with documents. So no excuses for not knowing what the homework is once they leave my class, or lost worksheets! Muahahaha
Let’s Get Started – Any specific instructions for my students to get started on our first task for the day
Working off of this template creates a routine for my students and making my blog posts speedy and efficient. All important information has been relayed to any family members for them to keep up to date with your classroom and see exactly what their child should be doing each day. Yup, go ahead, do a happy dance!
So before you create your first blog post, take some time to think about what you want your blog to do for you each day. Create that vision that will work for you and your classroom.
Now let’s create a post! On your dashboard click on the orange button on the top left of your screen that says “New post.” I’ll be diagramming the post page to help you navigate.
And that’s the general gist of creating your own post. Now, as I said, I post the same information each day. Rather than typing all of that in, I’ve created a template that pops up each and every time I post that looks like this -then all I have to do is fill in the blanks.
I suggest you do the same to make your life easier and more efficient. To create your own post template, follow these steps:
Go to your dashboard and click on “settings” on the left hand side
Click on “posts, comments and sharing”
Under Post Template click “add”
I hope this information was helpful to you today and gave you a good starting place. Tomorrow I’ll show you how you can add stagnant pages to your blog with info for parents, gradebooks, etc. Leave a comment and let me know how your set up is going! I’d love to see them when you’re done :0)
Yesterday, I introduced the one tool I implemented last year that saved my life -a classroom blog – so that you can create your own. Taking the leap to use a blog in my classroom was a no-brainer for me, but I promise you do not have to be a blogging expert to effortlessly set up and use your own classroom blog. A classroom blog is so effortless to use and doesn’t need to take a great deal of time on a daily basis. Regardless of my comfort level with blogs, there were a few hurdles I had to jump through in terms of deciding my blog platform, which company I’d use, and how to set it up. So today we’ll talk briefly about different platforms and then we’ll jump into creating a Blogger for your classroom. Let’s get started!
Platforms: There are many different blog platforms available to you today. Some of the most common are WordPress, Blogger, Weebly and Tumblr; all of which have free options. WordPress is my go-to for Pink Slip Inspiration because I can customize it to my heart’s desire and works much better for a business site. But when it comes to creating a classroom blog, Blogger is hands down the best choice in my opinion for several reasons.
Why Blogger is the way to go for your classroom blog:
It’s a simpler, easy to use platform that will make posting a breeze
It is a Google product and works seamlessly with Google Apps for Education (Docs, Gmail, Forms, you name it)
If your students already have a Google/Gmail email address, they already have access to blogger built in! Which means, once your students get comfortable using your blog, they can create their own. Super awesome… more on that later and how we transformed Literature Circles with student blogs.
It allows you to easily have a blog and stagnant website in one
So let’s get started and create your own Blogger Classroom Blog today! My students can set up their own blogs in two class periods… so imagine how much you could get done this afternoon 🙂
How to set up your Blogger. Follow this step by step process:
Head on over to Blogger.com
Click on “New Blog”
Create a title for your blog (e.g. Blogging with Mrs. West) no stress, you can change this later as many times as you want
Create your web address or URL. This cannot be changed after you’ve started. So try to find something that will be easy for your students and parents to remember. (e.g. mrsjwest.blogspot.com) All addresses will have blogspot.com unless you pay for custom domain name
Don’t worry about selecting a template now, you can select this later in design mode.
Click “Create Blog”!
Your blog is now set up! And here is where the fun begins. It’s time to design your space. You’ll be directed to your dashboard next. This dashboard page will show you a preview of your blog in the center and the command features are all located in the left sidebar.
Click on the “Template” tab in the left sidebar.
When selecting a template, you’re selecting the general aesthetic and layout of your blog. Once you’ve selected your template you will be able to customize all backgrounds, colors, fonts, etc.
Select a template: You can change it later if you dislike it.
At the top of the template page click on “customize”
Explore the “background,” “adjustable widths,” “layout,” and “advanced settings” to customize your blog.
While customizing your blog make sure to take advantage of all aspects of the page, especially the sidebar. In your sidebar you can add “gadgets” in the “layout” tab. These gadgets allow you to insert a place for parents to subscribe to your blog to receive daily updates of what’s going on in your class. You can add resources for your students. Fun images that speak to you and your class, etc.
Have fun and play around with the design of your page today. Make yourself comfortable with the site and how it all works. Come back tomorrow to see how to create a post on your blog. I’ll go over how it works in my classroom and you can come up with a vision that works for you 🙂
I was recently asked what I disliked most about being a teacher… and I have to admit I was stumped for a minute. There are so many bonuses about being a teacher; I was actually drawing a blank! It must be summer 😉 That is until my husband reminded me of all the things I whine about throughout the year… What would I do without him 😉 When it came down to it, one of the things I dislike the most is communicating with parents and keeping chronically absent students up-to-date, purely because of what a time sucker it can be. It dawned on me, that while this is my least favorite aspect of teaching, I hadn’t thought about it much this past year because I had implemented just one toolthat had solved all of my biggest annoyances in the classroom – a classroom blog – and it was life-changing! With a few weeks left of summer, this blog series will walk you through the basics of a classroom blog, who this works best for, how to set up your own free blog, how my blog works in my classroom, and how I have transferred this tool to my students with their own blogs.
But before we begin, here’s just a few reasons why you need to implement a classroom blog this year. Your new classroom blog will provide you with the platform to:
Write short and sweet daily lesson plans for yourself that are practical, and that are also communicated easily to anyone outside of your classroom
Cut down on communication with parents and students
Provide active links for worksheets and documents on a daily basis (another reason you should be using Google docs for everything)
Encourage students to interact with your class on a regular basis
Create an interactive, live platform that’s not a stagnant website that is forgotten about
Clearly post daily objectives for parents, students, and admin
Communicate clear instructions for students at the start of each day
Build up interest for your lesson each day
Keep a detailed log of what you did each year, in which order, with documents attached…boom!
It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? It’s that good! Now, you might be wondering if this would work in your classroom. If your answer is yes to the following two statements, then this is the saving grace you’ve been looking for. So, are you:
already transitioning to a digital classroom on a regular basis?
If so, your blog will act as a control center for all of your new techy uses. Make sure you’re not missing out on any tech uses in your classroom in my post here.
Do you have a relatively high ratio of students with computer and internet access at home? This will be key for success.
So what are we waiting for!? Let’s get started talking about the vision of your blog and creating your own online space before the school year starts. You can get yourself started in just one afternoon… I promise! Head on over to my classroom blog to poke around and see where your blog just might take you at www.mrsjwest.blogspot.com
Tomorrow we’ll talk about blog platforms and I’ll show you how to set up your very own blogger so you can get started now! Come back tomorrow to join in on the fun 🙂
Summer is in full swing, and for me, that means time to explore unchartered territory and feed my soul. My creative juices have been a-flowing; and in all of my exploring, I’ve found a new love for podcasts. How has it taken me so long to jump on this train!? One of my favs has been The Tim Ferriss Show (thanks, Aunt Carol). I am so inspired by the way in which Tim approaches each day. Granted, I don’t usually have hours to spend on me in the morning during the school year to meditate, free write and write in a gratitude journal; that would be wonderful. But it has inspired me to find ways in which to incorporate small pieces of this into my life throughout the year and I’ve come up with a plan on how to incorporate gratitude in my classroom and school relationships. Tips I’m sharing with you today.
Why put forth so much effort to show gratitude? … Sounds silly and obvious, I know. But practicing gratitude has proven benefits for those who purposefully express it and it can transform your school and your experience within it. Here’re just a few ways gratitude can benefit you:
-Lower stress levels
-Strengthen your immune system and lower blood pressure
-Harbor more joy, optimism, and happiness
-Act with more compassion
-Feel less isolated
Now, if that’s not enough reasons why you should plan to practice gratitude, I’m not sure what is. Furthermore, who wouldn’t want to work in an atmosphere where this was general practice? But, before we dive into plans to incorporate gratitude in the classroom, let’s take note of our headspace at the moment. You know all too well, that if I asked you to sit down and carve out time to incorporate gratitude notes and actions in your classroom in October or May, you might lose your marbles. I would too. Now that you’re refreshed and have room for warm fuzzy feelings regarding your upcoming school year, let’s tap into that recharged spirit to plan for gratitude ahead of time. Genius, right?
So here we go. Here are a few tips to plan for gratitude towards; your students, your students’ families, your colleagues, and your admin. Some of these tips are about creating a habit and some are templates to create now, to make expressing gratitude in the moment easier.
Expressing gratitude towards your students: This school year I plan to end each block or class period with a statement of gratitude towards my students as a whole. It’s important that these statements are genuine and short and to the point. By ending each class with a statement of gratitude I can effectively establish an area of trust, make a human connection, and influence my students to practice their own habit of gratitude. If you have a particularly difficult class or frustrating lesson it’s even more important to express gratitude! There’s nothing more disarming to a teenager than thanking them for something inherently good about them when they have treated a situation poorly. I would bet that your students will be more excited about returning to a class where they feel respected and valued. Examples might include: “thank you for an engaging class period today and your willingness to take risks;” “I’m so thankful to be surrounded by energetic youth who remind me to dream big,” or “Thank you for supporting each other in a safe learning environment as we step out of comfort zones this week.” Give it a go.
Expressing gratitude towards your students’ families: Often times I dread contacting families because it is usually accompanied by an issue or problem that needs to be resolved or supported. Rarely do I carve out time to contact families to let them know how well their student is doing or what a pleasure they are to work with. That’s ridiculous! What I’ve done to make this easier is I have prewritten email templates for various positive messages to send home (work improving, treats others with respect, a pleasure to be around, etc). At the end of each week, or during a prep period, I’ll select one or two students who have stood out recently to send a positive message home. Simply copy and paste from the template and make a new, positive connection with a family and their student in two minutes or less. Download a copy of my templates below and you’re on your way!
Create a habit to show gratitude towards your colleagues and admin: Buy a simple thank you card pack at the store, not more than $2 or $3 and leave it on your desk in a visible area. Each time you see your thank you card stack, think of someone who has gone out of their way to support you that week, or is a pleasure to work with, you name it, and write them a quick thank you note. If you’re lucky enough to receive classroom supplies from a student at the start of the year, write a personal thank you immediately and send it home to show your gratitude. Sending an email to thank someone will suffice, but I think there is a stronger emotional, human connection to a written card. If the individual works at your school, don’t track them down, just leave it for them in their box or on their desk and it will brighten their day! I have been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of this gesture and it feels great! Thank you!
The opportunities are endless and the effort is minimal, but the benefits are immeasurable! What are some other ways you can incorporate gratitude in your classroom? I’d love to hear!
Prep for a year full of gratitude now, while you’re in a great head space to help make those trouble months like October and May even better 😉 I’m looking forward to a school year full of gratitude and appreciation. I feel blessed to have found a platform where I can share my dreams and goals with all of you. Thank you!