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Hi! I am Rachael, The Tahoe Teacher. I've taught K-3 and 6th grade English. I've taught in both Texas and in the Lake Tahoe area. My focus is on hands-on and student-directed learning. Welcome to the blog!
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Back to School Planning Resources

back-to-school

Back to School Planning Resources

Hey, y'all. With summer upon us, it's time to start planning out the first few days of school--after the extensive days at the beach, multiple naps, and a series or two on Netflix that is. 

Anyway, it can be hard to get started planning if you're new to teaching (or if you're so wiped out from this year that you've forgotten how you started the year in the first place), so I compiled a list of my back to school planning resources to get you going. 

Getting started on the right foot at the beginning of the year is essential for a successful school year. First, I plan out all the routines and procedures my students need to know in order for our days to go smoothly. 

back-to-school-planning-checklists

Then, I work out how I can teach each of these things in the first couple weeks of school. There are so many things to cover, but day one should also focus on making sure everyone feels comfortable and safe. My first year teaching, I had so many things planned for the first day and no idea how long any of it would take. Now, I know how much we can realistically get done on day one. Of course, I always have a few extra things to do just in case some things move quickly.

realistic-first-day-of-school

I always, always, always have great books to start us out with. Below is a list of books that I have on hand and ready for the first few days, but I'm also on the look out for new titles. Nothing screams fun like having a student yell out, "We read this book last year!" on day one. This list includes both "welcome to school" books as well as social skills books. 

books-for-back-to-school

Okay, we've got our list of procedures, our realistic plan for day one, and some books to get us started. Now it's time to map out the school year. The best laid plans begin with the end in mind. You don't plan your trip to the beach without knowing where the beach is--you have to know where you're going. You also shouldn't plan a unit until you know what the success indicators are--what your students are supposed to know. So...at the beginning of year, I pull out our curriculum maps and put them into a spreadsheet. Each map is on it's own PDF and none of the planning people talk to each other, so it's our job to line it all up. 

I start with a general calendar, then add in each subject area and approximately when each unit begins and ends. When it's all laid out like this, it's easy to see which units overlap making it easy to plan lessons that integrate different subject areas. Anytime I can integrate subjects, I do. It gives us so much more bang for the buck. 

year-long-curriculum-map

I'm also big on using themes to tie everything together. I don't always have themes, but when when we do, the kids get really into it and make connections so much faster. There are so many ways to incorporate themes into your curriculum without it being too simple. For instance, if the theme is apples, we could be exploring apples with our five senses, measuring apples or adding seeds, reading books about apples, exploring their life cycle, planting seeds and writing how-to's on keeping them alive, and so many other things. It shouldn't just be about the cute manipulatives or crafts. Those have a time and a place, but the meat of the learning should be much deeper. 

thematic-learning-ideas

Each of the themes we use gets added to the planner tool above. It helps me stay organized and keep it all together in one place. If you'd like a printable version of all of these things and a link to your own copy of the year long planner, just click here
 
And if you're curious about how I plan out each unit, you can check out the Planning for Independent Learning course here. It is a game changer!

Anyway, thanks for stopping by and hope these tools were helpful. If you haven't grabbed your copy of the checklists yet, please do so. I made them just for you! 

I'm always adding new things to the blog and to my Teachers Pay Teachers store so stop by often or give me a follow to see what's new.
 
I hope you have a wonderful week and I'll talk to you soon. 

Stay cozy,


Six More Books Every Elementary Teacher Should Read

books-for-teachers

6 More Books Every Elementary Teacher Should Read

Hey, y'all. I'm back with a few more must-read books for elementary school teachers. The world is changing quickly and so are our instructional strategies. These books are all fairly recent publications sure to have a huge impact on your classroom instruction. They're also some of my favorites. 
This post contains affiliate links.

The Playful Classroom 

Are you wanting to back-up your case for play-based learning in your classroom? This is THE book for that. Everything you love about teaching--kids talking about their learning, constructing knowledge, hands on learning--is reinforced in this book. As soon as I started reading, my heart started filling up. My copy is covered with tabs and notes on things I can use in the classroom and research to backup the case for play-based, constructive learning. 

the-playful-classrooom

Unpack Your Impact

Written by two teacher bloggers, Unpack Your Impact is an eye-opening book about ways to incorporate social studies lessons within the time constraints of our daily schedule. Many things mentioned in this book fall in line with the social studies stations and phenomenon based learning units I already use (and are available in my store). But there are lots of additional ways to incorporate social studies in even the youngest classrooms.

unpack-your-impact

The Civically Engaged Classroom

The Civically Engaged Classroom is written for upper elementary and older students, but many of the ideas in this book can be used with younger students. Obviously, content needs to be modified to fit the developmental stages of the students we work with, but even kindergarten students can get involved with civics. This book was published in 2021, so the ideas are fresh and insightful. If you're looking for ways to get your elementary students involved in the world around them, this is an excellent read. 

civically-engaged-classroom

Happy Teachers Change the World

This one is one of my favorites. It's full of ideas on teaching mindfulness in the classroom, slowing down, breathing, and more. This is the book that introduced me to mindfulness and how much it can benefit students in our classroom. If you looking for ways to cultivate calm in your classroom, this book is it! 

happy-teachers-change-the-world

A Fresh Look at Phonics

I spent the entire time reading this going, "Yes!" "I knew it!" and, "I told them!" If you're having some tough conversations about literacy at your school and you have some strong feelings about how to teach phonics, as well as the importance of it, you need to read this book. Phonics instruction is imperative in the younger grades. This book highlights why and provides strategies to get you going. It will be a game changer in your classroom. 

a-fresh-look-at-phonics

Shifting the Balance

Shifting the Balance discusses the science and brain research behind learning to read. It doesn't just cover the assumptions classroom teachers make based on their own observations. The authors have sifted through pages and pages of research on brain development and language acquisition to determine exactly how students learn to read. It's hot off the presses as of this writing and reviews are hopeful it will "end the reading wars" once and for all. Who knows on that one, but I do know that it's easy to read and understand. It discusses how the brain acquires language and processes words without getting so scientific that it's hard to read. It also offers actionable steps to take in the classroom to set your students up for success based on this research. 

shifting-the-balance

These titles are all relatively new and worth a closer look at. If you're struggling to find joy in the classroom, read The Playful Classroom or Happy Teachers Change the World. If you're looking for ways to get your students involved in the world around them, Unpack Your Impact and The Civically Engaged Classroom is the way to go. Wild about reading? Check out A Fresh Look at Phonics and Shifting the Balance

I have personally read each of these and every one of them has made an impact on my teaching. I'll probably even do a quick re-read of each of them over the summer as I plan out instruction for the fall. None of these are a super heavy read, but all of them are worth it! 

I hope you found some new favorite PD books and if you read any of these and have thoughts you want to share, drop them in the comments. I'd love to read them. I hope you have a wonderful week and I'll talk to you soon.

Stay cozy, 

Yoga Animals Watercolor Classroom Decor and Meet the Teacher

yoga-watercolor-classroom-decor

Yoga Watercolor Classroom Decor and Meet the Teacher

Hey, y'all! I finally put two of my loves together--watercolor and yoga--and made this bright, but calm, classroom decor set. 

yoga-watercolor-classroom-decor

This set is a blend of the OG watercolor decor set and the original yoga animals decor I made a little while back. I love them both, and I think I love them even more together!

yoga-watercolor-classroom-decor

This set includes calendar headers and numbers, subject headers, days of the week for labeling supplies, classroom jobs, desk (or cubby) nameplates, a couple of options for alphabet lines, a Welcome banner, and so much more. There are 6 different choices for nameplates as well making them great for student choice or grouping students for activities. 

watercolor-classroom-decor

watercolor-classroom-decor

watercolor-classroom-decor

watercolor-name-tags

There's even a matching meet the teacher set. ('Cause you gotta match, right?). The meet the teacher set is great for welcoming families at back to school night, helping students organize supplies, getting student and parent information and more. 

meet-the-teacher

meet-the-teacher

meet-the-teacher

Each set is available separately or bundled together. And they each include editable pages for labeling library book bins, student supplies, or anything else you might need to label. You can find them here.

I hope you found just what you needed for your classroom. I'm always adding new resources to my Teachers Pay Teachers store, so check back often and be sure to follow my store so you don't miss a thing. Have a wonderful week and I'll talk to you soon. 

Stay cozy,

Boho Watercolor Classroom Decor and Meet the Teacher

boho-classroom-decor

Boho Watercolor Classroom Decor and Meet the Teacher

Hey, y'all! Have I ever told you how much I love making classroom decor? I adore each set I've made and I think that's why I change up my classroom decor every year. I love them all and just can't choose!

boho-classroom-decor

I found this clipart set and just had to create classroom decor to go with it. It's whimsical and fun, and the neutral tones are great for creating a calm and relaxing vibe. 

boho-classroom-calendar

This set includes calendar headers and numbers, days of the week for organizing supplies, voice level charts, several options for alphabet lines, a number line to 20, desk (or cubby) nameplates, a Welcome banner, classroom jobs, and so much more. For a full visual of everything included, check out the preview file in my Teachers Pay Teachers store

boho-classroom-decor

There is a lot of brown in some of the watercolor spots, so I made sure to include several pinks and greens as well. These subtle tones really lighten things up and give off a happy vibe. 

boho-number-line

boho-alphabet-letters

boho-classroom-decor

If you've been following my store for awhile, you'll know I always make a matching meet the teacher set to go with the decor sets. Gotta coordinate, am I right? 

boho-meet-the-teacher

Each meet the teacher set has a Welcome sign, signs and labels for students to sort supplies, a classroom wishlist sign with editable cards for adding your personal spin on it, student information forms, teacher information cards, and treat topper bags if you want to pass out treats before school starts or at open house. 

boho-meet-the-teacher

Both the classroom decor set and meet the teacher set include editable pages for those school-specific things that need labels. I use them for my classroom library labels, station signs, etc. 

meet-the-teacher

You can find this decor and meet the teacher set by heading over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I'm always adding new things, so be sure to follow me for the latest resources. 

I hope you found some things you can use in your classroom. Have a wonderful week and I'll talk to you soon.

Stay cozy,


Digital Summer Sight Word Practice

digital-summer-sight-word-practice

Digital Summer Sight Word Practice

Hey, y'all! We're gearing up for the end of the school year, but we're not quite done practicing sight words yet. 

The same old sight word centers can get old, but digital centers can create a sense of novelty making them instantly engaging. 

This latest digital set takes us to the beach for a little sun, sand, and sight word fun! Students read the word, then click and drag the letters to the boxes to spell out the word. It's simple, but it's a great way to review words learned over the course of the school year. It makes a great assessment tool, also.

summer-sight-words

I love the Boom Cards version because they are self-checking and give students instant feedback if they get it right or wrong. The Google Slides version is also great because it's so easy to assign just what your students need to work on and to differentiate for each learner. Both versions require zero paper making them absolutely amazing as far as organization and grading goes!

You can find these and many more sight word sets by heading over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I am always adding new resources, so check back often to see what's up. 

I hope these are just what you were looking for and help you and your students make the learning fun! Have a wonderful week and I'll talk to you soon.

Stay cozy,

Digital Informative and Argumentative Writing Units

digital-informative-and-argumentative-writing-for-google-classroom

Digital Informative and Argumentative Writing Units

Hey, y'all. For our next writing unit, we're introducing different types of writing--specifically informative and argumentative. We're also teaching our students how to be more independent and self-directed. That second goal is the hard one! 

In order to try to reach both goals, we've created this interactive digital writing unit that covers both informative and argumentative writing. The reason we paired the two types of writing is so that students can see the connections between the two. This also allows them to save some time by using the same (or mostly the same) research to create both essays. Work smarter, not harder!

digital-informative-and-argumentative-writing-for-google-classroom

We also want the kids to be able to go at their own pace. We know that many will need help with pacing themselves and that's okay. School is for learning, after all. 

digital-informative-and-argumentative-writing-for-google-classroom

Throughout this unit, we'll be giving students mini lessons on how to set goals and make plans for achieving those goals, how to organize sources, how to organize a multi-paragraph essay, and more. There are many informational slides within this unit, but mini lessons should be tailored to your particular students' needs. 

digital-informative-and-argumentative-writing-for-google-classroom

Students can begin writing their essays directly within this file. When they feel like they're ready, they can copy and paste each piece into a Google Doc to submit. 

digital-writing-process-for-google-classroom

The learning pathway on the second slide is interactive and links directly to the slide the student is working on. Students can choose a car and move their car along their pathway as they complete each task. This will help them keep track of where they're at when they return to their slides later. Each of the tabs along the top and sides are clickable as well. 

digital-writing-process-for-google-classroom

My students were so excited to get started on this writing unit and I know yours will be, too. You can find this unit here. I hope this unit is something you can use in your classroom to both teach writing and foster some independence. 

I am always adding new resources to my Teachers Pay Teachers store, so check back often to see what's new. I hope you have a wonderful week and I'll talk to you soon. 

Stay cozy, 

Digital Easter Sight Word Practice

digital-spring-sight-word-practice
Easter Sight Word Practice 

Hey y'all! Are you looking for some fun and simple ways to practice sight words? 

Practicing sight words can start to get old after awhile, especially if your students are struggling and it seems to be taking awhile to master. The novelty of seasonal centers keeps the fun going when students need some extra practice. 

These digital Easter (or spring) sight word task cards are available for both Boom Learning and Google Classroom. They include the first 40 Fry's sight words that students are expected to know, making them just right for kindergarten, advanced pre-k kiddos, or first graders who still need additional practice. 

digital-Easter-sight-word-practice

I love using these cards on Boom because they are self-checking and give immediate feedback. Students randomly get 20 cards at a time so each time they play, it's a little bit different. 

When using these in Google Classroom, it's super easy to use just the words you're currently working on, to chunk the learning, and to differentiate the words for students. 

I love using digital resources in my classroom, I just wish I'd learned how to implement them effectively sooner!

Anyway, I'm always adding new resources to my Teachers Pay Teachers store so check back often for the latest classroom tools. Be sure to follow me too to see the updates immediately. Have a great week and I'll talk to you soon. 

Stay cozy,