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Another year is coming to an end, and that means it is time for another round-up of all the best blog posts from the year. This post is full of the top ten posts on this blog in 2017 and includes a little bit of everything.

Click on any title to check out the full post!

How to Unlock Your Full Math Class Potential
In this post, I discuss how I structured my math block along with strategies and resources for engaging students at each step. 

Cooperative Learning: The Jigsaw Strategy
All about my absolute favorite cooperative learning strategy for putting students in the driver's seat. This strategy allows students to become the experts on a given subject and incorporate literacy skills along with listening and speaking practice. What more could you want?

10 Ways to Use Test Smash
Are you looking for a strategic way to prep your students for standardized testing? Look no further than test smash! 

This post will link you to the resources as well as show ten ways to use the resource and keep engagement high! 

Can Teachers Be Millionaires?
I never knew that investing could be so easy, but this book walks you through the steps and got me started down the right path for a more confident plan for retirement. 

You can't afford to not read this one! 

The Magic of Math Stations or Centers
I used to think that math stations or centers were only for primary grades, but I would be very wrong. Read this post for why I changed my mind about math centers and how I managed them in my classroom. 

Small Group Strategies That Work
I struggled to find a routine that would work for my students and me during small group time. 

I always felt like we were wasting time and not getting enough done. That's until I used these strategies.

Cooperative Learning Strategy: Inside Outside Circle
This cooperative learning strategy is great for sharing or brainstorming as well as having students work with many other partners. 

Plus it is no prep!

Happy Teacher Series: Dealing with Stress
As a teacher stress is inevitable, but it is all about how you deal with it. 

Check out this post for a list of actionable tips to deal with stress in a healthy way that will ultimately make you a happier teacher. 

15 Pieces of Advice for New Teachers
Whether you are a new teacher or a veteran, these pieces of advice are a great reminder for all! 

How to Be Unhelpful When Speaking to a Student
It is tempting to fall into these traps when speaking with students, but it is imperative that we don't! 

Check out these useful alternatives for what to do instead. 
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In the elementary classroom, there is only one way to fit it all in, by integrating subject areas. As a fourth-grade teacher writing was integrated into every subject nearly every day, out of pure necessity, but it also lead to a deeper understanding of the content. Even the most reluctant writers can find success when writing in a content area, and their confidence will flow over into general writing too. 

Why Should We Integrate Writing In Content Areas?
First of all, writing is a life skill. It will continue to benefit our students long after they leave our classrooms. Writing is a tool for communicating thought and will never go out of style, although it may change how it is done. 

Writing also aids in understanding. When you write about a subject you increase your depth of knowledge in the same way you would if you have a conversation. Writing helps us to cement vocabulary we have learned and use it in context. 

Writing also ups student engagement and requires them to think critically about their topic. 

The Benefits of Integrating Writing with Content Areas
There are just not enough hours in the day to teach each subject in solitude, but also why would you want to? When we integrate subjects we accomplish more and go deeper. 

Writing can be used to save time and encourage collaboration. Additionally, it can be used to assess students' learning all while putting them in the position of being an expert. 

Strategies for Integrating Writing with Content Areas
There are many ways to integrate writing, but these are a few of my favorites! Be sure to stick around until the end for a freebie that you and your students are sure to love!
Silent Conversations-
  • Students form partners
  • Each student has their own piece of paper and writing utensil
  • A topic is given
  • Think time is given
  • Students start by writing a question or comment on the topic
  • Students trade papers with their partners
  • Partners respond to one another
  • Continue this process until time is out
Quick Writes-
  • A topic is given
  • Think time is given
  • A timer is set
  • Students write everything they know about the topic
  • Students share their writing
I love to support my students during quick writes by providing them with either a photo as stimuli or content vocabulary for them to use, sometimes both. You can check out resources for photo and vocabulary quick writes here. 

Sticky Note Summaries
For this strategy, you will need three different sized sticky notes.
  1. Index card sized sticky notes
  2. Regular sized sticky notes
  3. Small page marker sized sticky notes
This strategy is especially great for reviewing content ahead of an assessment, but can also be used to check prior knowledge. 
  • Each student is given one sticky note of each size
  • Topic is given
  • Think time is given
  • Starting with the largest sticky note students write down everything they know about the topic
  • Students share what they wrote
  • Moving to the regular sized sticky note students write as much as they can fit, in normal sized handwriting,  about the topic again
  • Students share what they wrote
  • Finally, students write their best summary of the topic on the smallest sticky note being sure to include all important information
  • Students share their summaries
Draw and Label
Drawing and labeling should absolutely be considered writing and serves a definite purpose in content areas. 
  • Topic is given
  • Think time is given
  • Each student draws a representation of the topic
  • Students label their drawing using content language and vocabulary
  • Students share
Point of View Writing
  • Topic is given
  • Students write a narrative from the point of view of the topic e.g. a piece of sediment, a person on the Oregon Trail...
I love to have my students complete dice simulations that inspire their writing. You can check out dice simulation resources here. 

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