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Giving Thanks For Teaching Goodies

By Lindsey Petlak on November 26, 2013
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

I am beyond thankful for the many blessings in not only my personal, but also my professional life. My students, their families, parent volunteers, my fourth grade team, school colleagues, mentors, long-distance teacher friends, and (last, but certainly not least) my family are absolutely immeasurable blessings. In addition to this cornucopia of plenty to be thankful for, read on to see my top teacher picks for must-have goodies to get you through the daily classroom nitty-gritty.


1. Starbucks: Anyone who knows me knows I’m shamelessly in love with all things Starbucks. My personal favorite beverage is their shaken iced green tea, no sweetener, no water. I’m not going to lie, their grab-and-go breakfast and lunch offerings save me from starvation at least once or twice a week!





2. ClamCase Pro: This all-in-one, iPad keyboard, case, and stand has totally and completely changed the way I use my iPad. If I had to guess, I’d say I use it five times more while in the classroom than I previously did. Check this product out if you want to maximize the use of your tech device, both as a tablet, and a mini-laptop. It’s a bit expensive, but totally worth it.




3. Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks: I use Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks games to teach, supplement, and reinforce basic math concepts. Each game employs the use of dice (Box Cars), dominoes, and/or a deck of playing cards (One-Eyed Jacks). In fact, our team is so crazy about this Common Core State Standards aligned, hands-on, games-based math supplement that we dressed up like the manipulatives for Halloween!




4. Newsela.com: Thanks to Top Teaching Blogger, Kriscia Cabral, for introducing this amazing resource to me! Just in time for a new ELA unit, Kriscia showed me how this FREE ONLINE TOOL could transform my CCSS instruction. Search their site for relevant, kid-friendly news articles, then customize according to desired Lexile level for instant differentiation!


5. Text Compactor: This is another gem from Kriscia that I fell instantly in love with! To further differentiate complex texts so that they are accessible for everyone, pop any digital work (copy/paste) into the Text Compactor, then select to which percentile you want that text compacted. This is great for texts that are too difficult for every student to read and understand, but still exposes them to the main ideas of an article or piece of literature so that they may have a shared experience and participate in class discussions/lessons. Thanks, Kriscia!

6. Math Meets Fashion, by Scholastic:  Math, fashion, Tim Gunn, and Diane von Fürstenberg . . . oh, my!  Math@Work is a web series that ties students’ classroom learning to their career aspirations. Engage your class as you watch students discover the importance of math from industry leaders and the Scholastic Math team. The first episode shows practical ways math is vitally important within the fashion industry and was a HUGE HIT with our entire class. Be sure to check out Tim Gunn’s video and “make it work” for your class, too!




7. iDoceoiDoceo is an app-based gradebook for the iPad. No Internet access is required to use it. This app will calculate averages in real time, and includes features for seating, lesson plans, checklists, icon/text/number grading, and more. You may import and export information to and from this app, which makes record keeping and communicating data simple and efficient. iDoceo is an inexpensive app.  See my post about Data/Record Keeping and Common Core Resources for more information.


8. Executive Functioning Furniture: Aside from the fact that our classroom now has brand new tables, chairs, and storage drawers, and my previous furniture was most likely 50 years old, the implementation of executive functioning furniture has truly been a blessing this year. Check out my post all about executive functioning, including descriptions of the furniture components as well as other facets of this classroom management (and life skills) miracle.



9. Flocabulary: MY STUDENTS LOVE FLOCABULARY!  Incorporating these educational, hip-hop and R&B songs into our instruction and practice has been amazingly impactful.  See what the creators have to say about Flocabulary:

“Flocabulary is an online library of songs, videos and activities for grades K-12. Hundreds of thousands of teachers use Flocabulary to supplement their instruction and engage students. Our team of artists and educators is not only committed to raising test scores, but also to fostering a love of learning in every child.”

10. Class Messenger: Class Messenger, powered by Scholastic, has enhanced my home-school communication in the most positive ways. I’m able to send updates, reminders, photos, surveys, requests, and more instantly throughout the day. Since messages are available via phone text, app push notification, and email, there’s a way to reach every parent. Try Class Messenger to make home-school connections today!

11. Airborne: We all know how disgustingly germy (eww!) classrooms are, even if you are as OCD about disinfecting and cleaning as I am. Despite my most valiant efforts this year, it seems the plague has been circulating for at least a month-and-a-half in our room (and the entire school). Thank goodness for Airborne tablets, because I think they have helped keep me from succumbing to the rounds of illness this year!


12) Dollar Tree Vegetable with Dip Containers: I’m sure these inexpensive little containers are fantastic for vegetables and dip, but that is not how I’m using them. I have found countless uses for these plastic containers, and am sure I’ll continue to find more as the year continues. Currently, I have them set up to hold manipulative sets for our Box Cars and One-Eyed Jacks games. Everything is set up for students to use during math workstations . . . students simply grab-n-go!


What are some teacher tools you are grateful for and cannot live without? Please share, and include links, when applicable.

Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday break!!

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