What Works? HUGE Giveaway!!!!

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!
Every day I am amazed how SO many teachers dedicate a countless amount of hours every single day (weekends included) to helping their students succeed. I am so fortunate to get to work with K-5 teachers at FOUR different elementary schools each week. I am constantly learning new tricks and strategies to help kiddos learn best.

So...today I am supposed to reveal a few secrets from my classroom. I don't really have any "secrets" but I can share a few of my favorite tips/tricks I carried out when I was a classroom teacher:
Interactive notebooks were my JAM! We used them for all of our major content areas. Before Pinterest existed, it would take my kiddos F-O-R-E-V-E-R to find the next clean page in their notebooks and more than half the class didn't keep any kind of order. Ancient China interactive notes would be glued in between the Citizenship unit notes and it was just a huge disaster. Literally one of my first "pins" that I made on my Pinterest board were notebook place holders that you can make by simply hot gluing a piece of ribbon to the cardboard back of the notebook:

Talk about a HUGE time saver. I trained my students to mark the page we were working on before closing their notebooks and the rest was history! No more wasted minutes waiting for everyone to find a clean page and no more disorderly notebooks. For the next few years I made sure to find a parent volunteer who would take on our notebook bedazzle session at the beginning of the year. They met with each child and did all of the hot gluing...gotta love those parent volunteers :) (that is, if you are lucky enough to have them...)
Every teacher has experienced that one child a handful of children who NO MATTER what you do or how many FUN activities you incorporate into your lessons just have the hardest time retaining information. I had these challenging cuties year after year. Not handfuls but DROVES....My students would stare at me blankly the next day when I brought up the information we discussed the previous day. I seriously questioned my teaching ability. I had engaging lessons, very few worksheets were used, learning centers were incorporated, technology was present, and all of the hands-on activities one could ask for were presented day after day. Why couldn't these kids remember ANYTHING? One year I decided to implement what I called "Mural Masterpieces". The kids would work together to add a little bit to our mural wall each day.

For example, Ancient Egypt had many vocabulary words and a plethora of information the kids had to remember. When we learned about the Nile River, they painted an enormous Nile River. When we learned about the Fertile Valley, they added the Fertile Valley and fertile land along the river. Pyramid day consisted of making pyramids and adding it to our mural. We had a pharaoh day, hieroglyphics day and the list goes on....

Not sure why, but this worked! Something about seeing the "full picture" really made the material come alive for my students. I wish I could find more pictures to display of our murals! I will continue looking and make a blog post dedicated entirely to Mural Masterpieces :)
Last "secret"....I guess I need to make this a "techie" one. Have you ever heard of the website Comemories? Comemories helps you to collect photos you, your friends and family took at the same event with several cameras. I use this site often during my technology lessons...it is a great way to get the kids to use a certain set of pictures by going to just one location. Anyway, I found this site to be very beneficial when going on field trips when I was a classroom teacher. I would give the site address I created to my parents and they were able to upload any and all pictures they took that day. Parents LOVE this...especially those who can't attend the field trip. Everyone's photos are stored in one organized location! There is even a Comemories app you can download!

All you have to do is go to comemories.com and type in the name of what you would like to call your gallery and click "Create Gallery":

Copy the url address and give that to your parents:

All they have to do is click the upload button and attach their pictures. EASY!

Now is your chance to enter a HUGE giveaway!! TWO chances to win an AMAZING prize pack:

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PLUS....$140 Gift Box of Fabulous Teacher Supplies sent to you from Amazon
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You won't want to miss out on all the other great secrets being shared by successful teachers!  Be sure to check out all the other great posts below.