Back to School Tips - Set Aside the Chevron Welcome Banner

There seems like there are a million things to get done around back to school time! Classroom set up, lesson plans, meet and greets, labeling, establishing routines and can be such an overwhelming time for teachers! With such a heavy load, it is possible for us teachers to temporarily forget what is really important. For me, there is no point in having the cutest classroom decor (and you all know I love to make things pretty!) or the latest innovation in teaching and learning, if I don't know my students and they are not attached to me. Building connection and trust in the classroom affects the way our students learn, the way we teach and the way our class runs. So if you are running out of time before school starts to get that chevron welcome banner finished, set it aside and make a plan on how you will make your students feel welcome as you get to know them.

How do we build relationship and connection in the classroom you might ask? Much the same as you or I would in our adult lives - spending time together, starting conversations without being invasive, showing interest, finding common ground, being trustworthy, showing respect, making eye contact, listening. I have mentioned before that little ones love speaking about themselves. I recently found out that us adults are not that different. The lovely Lucy from Here's an Idea from Lucy S asked me to be an interviewee for her Teacher-Authors Around the World Series. I was flattered that she was interested in my story and initiated a virtual get-together. As we were chatting, I realized she knew and remember many things from our previous interactions. Lucy had listened to me! We communicated about our common interest (education) and explored unknown territory. I am excited about our new friendship, which I hope will grow with time and contact, and all because Lucy asked me to talk about myself :) You can head on over to Lucy's blog to check out the full interview.

Showing interest in our students is the first step to building a trusting relationship. All the cute decor and educational innovations in the world won't matter much if your students are not connected to you. Here's a nice freebie to help get the ball rolling. Just click on the image below. Don't forget to complete one yourself! After all, it is not just the little ones who enjoy talking about themselves ;)

Linking up with Brownbag Academics Back to School Blog Hop. Click on the image to check out more Back to School Teacher Tips!


Sight Word Interactive Notebooks - Part 2

I love using Interactive Notebooks for introducing and practicing individual sight words. I also love to use them for revising a whole bunch of words after they have been introduced and practiced. Today I'd love to show you how we do that.

We begin our revision with a simple cut and paste activity. Students read and color the high frequency words. They then cut and arrange the letters in order and glue to make the word under the flap.

Similarly, in the next activity students read the sight word and make it by stamping (a favorite!), rainbow writing, bingo marking or any other preferred method on the left. On the right, students trace the word on the top sheet and color the word under the flap.

In this colorful activity, students repeatedly write the words in the rainbow strips according to the colors on the rainbow review shape.

The Sight Words Sliders are a fun way to practice saying these 'tricky' words. Students move the strip up and down, saying the new word each time. They love to have races against themselves or others :)

The alphabet sort is not only great for sorting the sight words, but also great for any additional words we are learning in class. For this reason although not all letters have a sight word, the complete alphabet included is great!

The Words I Know/Words to Learn pockets are great for me as an at a glance progress report. The kiddies love moving their words from Words to Learn to Words I Know too! To use this activity, students simply cut the word strips, trace and place in the pocket where they belong. (Please excuse my old photo that has word instead of words. It has been fixed, but I haven't had the chance to photograph it yet! Where does the time go?)