Sunday, September 14, 2014

Teacher Blog Review...

I remember a time when blogs were still relatively new and the number of teacher blogs were limited. Today that is not the case. It seems there are an abundance of teacher resources available in the means of blogs. What sets one apart from another? Today I am reviewing 4 of my new favorite teacher blogs.

To meet the criteria to be one of my 4 favorite teacher blogs a few things were considered.  I chose the blogs if they were relevant to early childhood education, which is the age I would prefer to teach. I also chose the blog based on the classroom management advice. I like to have a clutter free, highly organized classroom, so any advice on this area is considered a benefit. Next, I want to be able to read about someone else's creative lesson ideas. There is always room for improvement in teaching, so to be able to consider the thoughts of colleagues is high on my priority list. Less important, but still considered aspects of my favorite teaching blogs included blog organization, design appeal, and writing style. If I do not care for your design or writing style, I probably wouldn't appreciate your manner of teaching. The four blogs chosen were very high in design appeal. In fact, I must hide my wallet because I would love to purchase most of the designs in these teacher's stores.

In no particular order, here are my 4 favorite teacher blogs:

Clutter-Free Classroom

Clutter Free Classroom is jaw dropping! The author, Jodi, had me at hello with her gorgeously appealing chevron blog design. Of course, one twin mommy to another, I may be partial. She has twin girls, I have twin boys. Jodi has years of experience under her belt in the teaching world. She has taught pre-k, k, 1st, 2nd, and currently 3rd grade. Not only does she offer teachers wonderful tips on organizing their classrooms, but she also offers organizational products for download. Some of the products are for sale and others are available for free. Her blog is literally a one stop shop for teacher resources. Her blog is neatly organized with tabs right across the top including: home tab, classroom management tab, classroom organization tab, classroom decor tab, teaching ideas tab, and the freebies tab. I love how easy it is to navigate. Jodi's blog is an outstanding example of supportive learning environment because the information provided enables teachers to save both time and money. One of the best organizational classroom management ideas that Jodi shares is in regards to her daily materials. She utilizes IKEA cardboard magazine boxes that are decorated in order to hold the papers needed for daily work. The boxes are divided by day. This is a wonderful idea because not only does it kept the regular classroom teacher organized, but it also enables a substitute to step in and be able to easily find the materials needed for the lesson. I am certain to return to this blog for solutions to my organization problems, classroom management ideas, as well as lesson plan ideas. Thank you Jodi for being willing to share such a wealth of information,

Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

I first found Mrs. Wills on Teachers Pay Teachers website, at which time I realized she had an amazing blog. Little did I know that her blog would become my best friend! Seriously. She has an amazingly thorough website. If you are working with kindergarten students, you must sit down with a large cup of coffee and read every single post. Really. You will not be disappointed. Mrs. Wills Kindergarten is written by DeeDee. She is from my neck of the woods, which is probably why I enjoy the blog so much. It is very helpful to read information that pertains to my state. DeeDee provides her weekly lesson plans for her readers. She also has a place for readers to link up their lesson plans. These lesson plans are a great way to break the monotony of lesson planning, if you are stuck in a rut. Not only do you get a glimpse of her general plan, but she even links up what resources she uses. Simply wonderful. DeeDee answers everything from what do you do for bell work to how to create stations. While there are tabs on the blob to locate information, the tabs are mostly about DeeDee and her store and classroom. There is a search box, so if you have a particular topic you want to research, you can type it in there. I decided to research her blog for intervention information. I found a sight word intervention idea. DeeDee even provides the resources as a freebie. She lists the steps involved in creating a sight word flip ring for students to study throughout the day and at night. I especially like how she utilizes a star sticker on the words the students know and uses highlighter tape to show the students the words they need to practice more. It is a great management and intervention tool.

Lesson Plan Diva

If you are stumped for a lesson plan, then Lesson Plan Diva is THE place to go. It is the largest lesson plan blog I have seen outside of the Teachers Pay Teachers resource. Jenaya is thorough. She offers lesson plans for multiple ages and spans across the whole curriculum. Not only does she link up the resource for the lesson plan, but she provides visually stimulating photos as well. The Lesson Plan Diva also provides a sample of each lesson as a freebie, but also offers the entire lesson for sale. Each lesson comes with ideas for teaching, or how and why it was used in the classroom. Jenaya also has a tab for photos where you can see how her room is setup and managed. There are detailed photos that explain the classroom design, as well as demonstrate the classroom management style. I particularly liked the behavior chart she uses, it is similar to how I would like to set my classroom up. She uses clothespins with student names and then they clip up or down depending on the choices they make. I bookmarked the counting and ten frames and letter formation post that provides information and links for a wonderful beginning lesson plan on counting from 1-20 using ten frames. The lesson also has a wonderful letter formation, letter sound recognition, and writing packet for early kindergarten. All are excellent resources for common core aligned activities for kindergarten.


Chalk Talk

Chalk Talk is another wonderful blog written by Mrs. Larremore. She is a teacher out of Texas who has taught kindergarten for 16 years and is a k-1 strategist. Her blog is set up more like a traditional beginner blog, so rather than tabs for information you can choose a post label to search. Posts are filled with wonderful photos that provide a great visual for the advice given. I decided to search 'classroom environment'. I found an amazing post on the importance of utilizing small group instruction at the pre-k level and how the classroom environment should reflect that. Teachers should use the furniture in order to create clear spaces for centers. It is recommended that they avoid the traditional desks in the middle and instead focus on small group interaction and teaching through the use of activity centers.