Can you smell the dry erase markers yet? Are you hearing phantom bells ringing? Are you practicing getting up early again? Yep, soon it will be that time of year again when teachers are preparing to go back to school! Here you’ll not only find one back to school tip but seven! Make sure to read on to the end to download a back to school Tech Tips FREEBIE!
Back to School Tip #1 – How to Handle School Supplies!
I am fortunate at my school that our grade level fundraisers bring in enough funds to purchase EACH third grader at my school a pencil pouch. At first, we used to get pencil cases but the quality of those went down so we switched to these pencil pouches.
The pouches are rugged, have a metal zipper and big enough to fit what the student needs. Also, they come in many colors so if you’re ordering as a grade level, it’s easy to assign one class a particular color.
Why do we do this? Because in the past when we’ve asked students to bring their own pencil boxes and school supplies, it was a disaster. Many kids didn’t bring anything. Some students brought pencil boxes that looked like suitcases stuffed with everything BUT pencils.
Another reason we do this is that the students at my school do have to move to another classroom during the day for RtI or ELD instruction, it’s easy for them to take this pencil pouch with them and be ready to learn.
I have these ready and waiting for my new students on the first day of school. We go through it and I explain why we do it and the expectations I have for it.
Back to School Tip #2 – Keep the Parents Informed!
Do you want to make sure that parents are kept informed about what’s going on in your class and the school? Do you send countless flyers home in Communication Folders yet parents still seem uninformed?
Essentially, you send text messages (that can include images) to parents. You can use any device to send the messages. The parents will NOT see your phone number, but they do have to sign up to receive your text messages. So at Back to School Night, I have everyone take out their mobile device and sign up. It’s as simple as texting a message to a number.
That’s it! To sign up, I project the number and message and it’s immediate. Here’s an EXPERT TIP. I have them sign up with their CHILD’S name. Sometimes, students and parents do not have the same last name and it becomes a game of guessing which parent is which!
It’s important because not only can you send out whole class texts, but you can text just one parent as well. It works like a chat. You can also set office hours to that you don’t get texts back from the parents after certain hours.
What Do I Use the Remind App for?
Overall, it is very effective because almost everyone today has a mobile device. Those with mobile devices are more apt to check their texts than go through a Parent Communication Folder sent home once a week. These are immediate texts that are sent and received.
What do I use it for:
- to announce field trips
- or to announce upcoming tests
- announce picture day
- or announce special events at the school
- announce special homework projects
- remind parents when school projects are due
- remind parents of their appointment for a parent-teacher conference
- answer questions by parents quickly and efficiently
- send images of their child doing something special in my classroom
- and the possibilities are endless!
You can also write your announcements and schedule them in advance! I usually send out my announcements at a set time, usually around 4 pm. Parents know that this is a regularly scheduled time for my announcements.
Back to School Tip # 3 – Are You Using Google Forms Yet?
Since I am in a 1:1 classroom, I really want the parents to see that many of the forms that we send home could be filled out online. Then it makes it easier to aggregate and organize the information we collect. After all, they now have to register their children in our district by filling out all the forms online.
Schools use a great deal of paper trying to get information to parents. We save forests every time we share information digitally! I’ll be sending a Google Form to collect needed information. They can even fill out these forms on their mobile device!
Back to School Tip #4 – Be Responsible!
I know that even with my own kids, they’re not always responsible with the things we give them. Apparently, school supplies grow on the proverbial trees with money, too!
On each student’s desk, there will be a “bill.” A bill showing how much it costs to buy all the materials, supplies and equipment they will use during the year. Why am I doing this? One year I had a huge problem with students being responsible with their materials whether it was their pencil pouch or the Chromebook.
So I’m hoping this bill will show them that nothing is really free. Someone has to come up with those funds to buy all this for the student. I’m going to try to get my principal’s permission to also display the bill at Back to School Night so the parents can see it too! This way they see why we fundraise and where all that bond money went to (Chrome Books and wireless infrastructure!)
Back to School Tip #5 – The Power of Yet!
Here’s one back to school tip that is really catching on everywhere. At the beginning of the year, many students have already established in their mindset that they won’t be able to learn anything new in some particular subject. Let’s start off the new school year with a positive mindset.
I want my students to understand the power of the word Y-E-T. “I may not know how to ________ YET, but I will eventually.” If you’re using ClassDojo, then this set of videos on Growth Mindset are just perfect at the beginning of the year when you introduce ClassDojo. More information about the using the ClassDojo Growth Mindset videos can be found HERE.
In the meantime, check out the first video in the series!
Back to School Tip #6 – A Great First Week Read Aloud!
One way to get my students comfortable in my class during the first week of school is to have some great read alouds on hand. I have my favorites and I bet you do too! Some of my favorite first weeks read alouds are chapter books meant for third grade, but the others can be used in any elementary grade.
Third Grade Chapter Books:
- How to Be Cool in the Third Grade by Betsy Duffey
- How Not to Start Third Grade by Cathy Hapka and Ellen Titlebaum
- Third Grade Angels by Jerry Spinelli
Books suitable for any elementary grade:
- Mr. Tanen’s Ties by Maryann Cocca-Leffler (this is a series)
- Ruby the Copycat by Peggy Rathmann
- A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech
Do You Need Some New Back to School Resources?
Additionally, I have a few other Back to School resources you might want to check out. I use them every year at the beginning of the year. The Diary of a Back to School Kid is a book that the students create to write down all the important information about our class, including the rules and schedules. The book is 10 pages long but can be printed as a booklet.
Another resource I use is iPortraits which are templates the students use at the beginning of the year (or any time of the year) to introduce themselves to the class. The templates serve as “Get to Know Me” activities.
Back to School Tip #7 – How Do I Cut and Paste?
If your students haven’t learned the keyboard shortcuts to cutting and pasting, then grab this FREEBIE! I created this Tech Tip Keyboard Shortcuts poster and student desk version to immediately get my students more productive. Since I’m in a 1:1 classroom with Chromebooks and I want to make sure the students are as productive and efficient as possible.
Students tend to do everything with the trackpad or mouse. Keyboard shortcuts enable students to work with both hands more quickly. Consequently, students complete more assignments when they are more productive.
You activate the keyboard shortcuts by using the CONTROL Key: cut, paste, duplicate, select all, and undo. Those are the ones my students use the most. The FREEBIE has 3 versions of the poster: 1) all grayscale 2) gray and black and white 3) black and white and some yellow. Sign up below to get the student desk versions as well. Tape the student versions to any desk. Or they can be glued into notebooks. The student desk versions measure about 4 inches by 5 inches.
To get the Control Key Shortcuts Freebie, just sign up for my newsletter below!
What’s YOUR best back to school tip? We’d love to hear it in the comments below!
Don’t Go Yet!
Are you new the 1:1 classroom setting? Then you’ll want to read my Valuable Tips for the 1:1 Classroom.
Check out how I use Google Classroom to present at Back to School Night for Parents.
Or maybe you’re interested in receiving this FREE Guide to Achieving Multiplication Fluency. Get it now by signing up for my newsletter below!
What’s YOUR best back to school tip? We’d love to hear it in the comments below!