All teachers have a few things in their classrooms that they feel they could not live without. Some have specific pens that they are attached too. Others find specific websites and online resources they depend on daily. Myself? I have three resources in my classroom for which I am truly grateful.
#1 Ipad Stand
First, I LOVE my iPad stand. I no longer use a document camera that requires me to toggle back and forth between my laptop screen and the camera display. I have found a much easier way to display what I want students to see by utilizing an iPad stand.
This tool holds my iPad at whatever angle I want. I can move the arm higher and lower, pull in closer and farther away, as well as being able to twist the angle at which the iPad faces. With the iPad in position and connected to my Apple TV or projector, I can display exactly what I desire. If I want a document camera capability to show students things I am doing and writing in real time, I can use the camera app on my iPad, which shows exactly what is on my iPad screen. I can also go out of the camera app and show videos and more with access to the web. I can display myself working within various educational applications as well. I love being able to demonstrate math concepts using digital manipulatives on my iPad. Overall, the iPad stand allows your iPad to be a one-stop-shop for all things needing display.
#2 Organizational Tools
Second, I appreciate and depend on many different organizational tools in my classroom. I have labelled tubs for all my books and labels on the back of each book to keep them organized Each cabinet and drawer is labelled with its contents. My students have caddies at their tables that help them organize daily supplies, and my own desk has a tub for each school day where I can place copies and other needed materials. I also use folder scaffolds and bookends to prop up the resources I use most. This year I have created 3-ring-binders for each unit in each subject area. I include dividers and 3-hole punch all materials I find meaningful and organize them by topic within each binder. This method helps me find what I need without having to sort through a simple manilla folder with overflowing resources.
#3 Holiday Themed Escape Rooms
Finally, I am grateful for holiday themed Escape Rooms! Though there is a lot of content to teach each day, I know that students really enjoy changing things up for the holidays. They are excited about upcoming events, so why not allow them to celebrate that excitement through a holiday-themed escape room? Not only do they engage students, but they are created intentionally to align with standards for each grade level. I can invite students to participate in these activities and be at peace knowing they are learning and demonstrating understanding in response to grade level learning targets. It’s like hiding vegetables in desserts!
These products are tailor made for various grade levels. First, the Turkey Math version has students help a turkey escape from the farm before turning into Thanksgiving dinner! Versions for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade are available. Each standard-aligned task leads students to finding feathers that must be collected for the turkey to escape. Materials needed are few, which makes preparation easy for both a printed and digital version of the activity. The topic is engaging for students and allows holiday celebration to be littered with learning too! For just five dollars, this is a steal!
Escape rooms are great for any grade level, and are often a review of many concepts. But, some of them focus on a specific skill. For example, the link below leads to an escape room focused on basic multiplication facts. Task cards are included which add opportunities for students to get up and moving, always a great benefit! This is timed too, which adds a competitive aspect for students to enjoy. QR codes are included, which provides another option to choose from when thinking about how to conduct the escape room activity.
Digital breakout rooms are great for distance learning or group games in the classroom. The link below leads to a game of this type. Directions for each part of the activity are very detailed, so there is little preparation needed for teachers and students alike. The range of digital task types keep student attention and add suspense for students when thinking about what may come next. Enjoy options for 3rd-5th grade students and standards.
Overall, each educator benefits from identifying those tools they just cannot teach without. Whether they be digital tools, organizational materials or specific activities, the hunt for those go to resources can be arduous. However, it doesn’t have to be! Borrowing ideas from others is an important part of the profession if you want to work smarter, not harder. Try out my top three and I guarantee you will find something worth keeping in your teaching tool belt!