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August 16, 2015

Back to School in a Flash: Student Engagement

I'm so excited about this next week of school.  Every year I always forget how draining the first week can be as the kids are learning the routines and procedures, but then the second week comes and things are so much better.  I thrive on having a routine and I start to really know my new students.  With starting the true curriculum, there is always the need to keep the students engaged and focused as they learn, so today I wanted to share some things I've learned after all these years.   

 I love using games in my classroom to review concepts.  It makes it fun and exciting.  One of my favorite games is Scoot.  It's easy to play... just grab a set of task cards (one card per child), and place them on the different desks.

 The kids have a limited amount of time to answer that one question/card on a separate sheet of paper.  When the teacher calls "Scoot" the kids scoot to the next desk to answer yet another card. The movement makes it fun, yet the kids are still getting a lot of review.  It's because it's such a fun game that I decided to create task cards for every math concept that I need to teach my kids.  Between using them for scoot, intervention, and math centers, the cards are used a lot every single year.  I love how it's a one time prep, many year use.

For behavior, I love to focus on the positives.  One of the best tips I learned years ago was to use prizes that cost me close to nothing.  I didn't have to worry about running to the store at 8pm at night to pick up more treats.

  Sweet Treat Prizes - Freebie

I use these prizes as part of my Friday raffle.  In the past years students have turned in their tickets to enter the raffle (I choose 3-5 winners every week), and the kids choose a prize card out of a little bin.  They hold onto it until they use the card.  It's easy stuff - like using a pen all day, or sitting on the floor for a lesson, or taking off their shoes during a test...  It's free if you need something!  This year I decided to not buy any more of the raffle tickets and instead am using a 100 grid.  It worked so well this past week.  I let kids choose a spot to write their classroom number, and then I added students numbers as well when I would normally have given a ticket (pushing in chairs without being asked, lining up quietly, being a helper, etc.... all those normal things).

You have probably heard of this before... but student choice is by far one of the most valuable student engagement tools possible.  Years ago (at least 5) I learned about Daily 5.  By far one of the best professional development books I have ever read.  Now, over the years I have tweaked it to make it work for me and my schedule... but that's the beauty of it... CHOICES! 

My workshop time (both ELA and Math) has been changed forever.  The mini lessons add to the day, the student work time has everyone on task, and the kids are excited when it's time for Daily 5 (or Math Daily 3)...  I really love it!  

 Speaking about another thing that has transformed my classroom...  Whole Brain Teaching!

Product Details

 I have the book, but the best thing that helped me was watching the videos both on Youtube and at 

Want to join in on the fun?  Link up a blog post to the below linky!  I hope this helped.  :)  


  1. Whole brain teaching is so amazing! It transformed my classroom. Students are so much more engaged! Thanks for linking up.
    Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher

  2. Thanks for the freebie coupons! I love them. I'd love to see the way workshops run in your class. Do you have a blog post about that?

    I have loved having you link up these past four weeks and I look forward to networking more this coming year. Hope next week is amazing!
    Fancy Free in Fourth


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