First Year Teacher Tips and Resources


These days, new teachers are leaving the field at a rate of 50% – decreasing the teacher population while the student population increases. Brian and Eric of Wise Guys have used their combined experience of 40 years in the classroom to help tackle that problem, by writing an e-book to motivate new teachers along with creating a large resource guide to equip new teachers with the tools they need for success. They also created a free ebook for more established teachers to start this new school year off strong.

I remember what it was like as a new teacher.  I received my grade level and location assignment just two days before school started and I was immediately overwhelmed.  I was going to be a 5th grade teacher (thank goodness this grade ended up being my niche).  I walked into an empty classroom, just tables and chairs and a teacher desk.  We had no textbooks at the time because we were a Literacy Collaborative school.  I started putting up bulletin boards and making the room as colorful as a could.  I had little time to plan anything detailed before the students arrived, so it was a fly by the seat of my pants kind of year.  I had 34 students, and I loved every one of those kids immensely!  I rarely left before 9pm each night and slowly, but surely I started getting my feet underneath me.  I was on my own that year (no team to speak of), but I did learn to stand on my own two feet.  I fell in love with teaching and have never looked back.

I admire anyone who answers the call to be a teacher.  Even after 20 years as a teacher, I LOVE MY JOB!  I am the luckiest person on the planet.  I have been in four different buildings and I have learned a lot in each one and I still have a lot more to learn.

My tip for first year teachers:  Give yourself a chance to be successful!  Get organized and try lots of different things to see what will work for you and your students.  Check out Pinterest and other sources for ideas.

To celebrate the launch of The First Year Teacher Ebook and Resource Guide, Wise Guys are giving away $100 in gift cards to Teachers Pay Teachers plus copies of the book and guide! If you know anyone who is new to this profession, let them know about this giveaway too! For more inspirational stories, head on over to the Guys’ blog to get linked to others’ First Year Teacher reflections at

Links to check out…

Free ebook:

The First Year Teacher Ebook:

The First Year Teacher Resource Guide:

Brian & Eric’s blog post about this:

Have a great school year!

Using MAD LIBS to Teach Parts of Speech

I am a child of the 70’s and 80’s and I still love MAD LIBS!  As I was doing some Mad Libs with my own children I realized that they would be a great resource to use in my own classroom and they are really inexpensive!  I bought an assortment of Mad Libs pads from Amazon and we use them 1-2 times a week in our classroom.  Click here for the link to Mad Libs on Amazon.



These quick sheets get students identifying and writing adjectives, nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc. in a fun and creative way!  After about a month, my students work on making their own MAD LIB stories to use in our classroom.  While it may seem easy, it is really pretty challenging!

Students work in pairs or as a table group to complete the Mad Libs and once we are finished, a few groups/pairs share them with the class.  We hang them up on a bulletin board in the classroom so students can read them!

Using Writer’s Notebooks and Writer’s Talks

As I plan for the fall, I am really working on adding more to my writing lessons.  One of the biggest changes I am making is to have my students keep a daily Writer’s Notebook.  I am going to use composition books because I think they will be more durable for daily use throughout the year.

Writer’s Notebooksblog

My students will write four days a week using a prompt that I give them.  These prompts are designed to be interesting and easy to write.  They are meant to be “seeds” of writing that can be later grown and developed into larger writing projects.  I have the September Writing Prompts available as a FREEBIE in my store!  Click here to grab a copy!  If you are interested in purchasing my Writer’s Notebook prompts for the WHOLE year, click here!

september writers notebook promts

The second part of the Writer’s Notebook involves using Writer’s Talk pages.  Each one is focused on one author and they are about writing skills, tricks, questions, etc. (not biographies about the author).  I created a set to use in my own classroom based on the books we are using this year, both novels and picture books.  Here is an example of what a Writer’s Talk page may look like:


These Writer’s Talk sheets will be copied for each student and placed into their Writer’s Notebooks.  Students will respond in some way to each of the Writer’s Talk pages.  The Writer’s Talk pages are pretty easy to make, just search for the author (I looked for interviews they had done), then look for a picture of the author as well as books they have written.  I highly suggest teachers make their own, so they can choose the books, authors, and focus areas they need for their specific group of students.


We use a LOT of picture books, so I included a lot of picture book authors in my Writer’s Talks.  Throughout the year, I will have my students make Writer’s Talk sheets to share with our classroom.

Time to get WRITING!


Fish Guts! A Hands-On Lab Focused on Ocean Food Chains


This is one of my students’ favorite labs in science!  Who doesn’t love fish guts?  Students need a container of slime filled with the cut up pieces of plastic ocean animals.  The slime/creature mix is then placed into a rubber glove so it looks like a stomach.

fishgutpicThis pack includes everything you need to make your own fish guts and complete the lab!  It is a guaranteed hit with the students!  Click here for the link to the lab pack!


Students are totally engaged in the activity and they can’t wait to do the extension projects and research to find out more!

My Wild Self Project ~ Animal Classifications Introduction

I am always searching for creative ways to introduce new topics of study to my classroom in order to get those kids hooked right away!  I literally stumbled upon this one totally by accident.  I found this great FREE site called: Build Your Wild Self (from the New York Zoos and Aquarium!  Student go on the site and design themselves using a variety of components of different animals of their choice. (see center picture)  We printed our “Wild Selves” and colored them (no color printer in our classroom).

DSC00113On the bottom of the picture that prints is a list of the animals that were used in the creation of the Wild Self.  We then did some research!  Students had to research each of the individual animals that made up their wild selves and find out their animal classification, interesting facts, and a picture (or they could draw it).  They were SO engaged in doing the research about the different animals (many are very unusual ones).


Now that students have had a little taste of Animal Classifications and how they work, we can begin our unit!  We displayed the fact cards on a sheet of 12 x 18 construction paper.  Pretty minimal supplies are required for this project, just construction paper, crayons/markers, scissors and glue, and access to the Internet and a printer!


These look great hanging up on a bulletin board!  Click here to grab the FREE pack!  Go find your WILD SELF!


Creating Greek Pottery during our Literature Unit

We are reading, The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan and studying Greek mythology.  The kids are SO into it!  We just created our own Greek pottery examples and will be writing myths to go with them!  This was such a fun and engaging project for my kids and I cannot wait to extend it into a writing project later this week!


I bought plastic terra cotta pots, black sharpie markers, and black tissue paper from Amazon in order to complete this project.   Click here for the link to the FREE project sheets in my TpT store for this activity!  I can’t wait to see the writing they come up with now that they have these pots as an inspiration!



Creating Infographics

We are currently studying space in science and I found a really cool new book about it!   Information Graphics: Space, by Simon Rogers.


This book got me thinking…I’ll bet I can do this with my kids!  Infographics are all around us nowadays and I know my students will love making their own with paper piecing and other art supplies.

What is an infographic?

An infographic is an artistic representation of data and information using different elements, such as:

graphs, pictures, diagrams, narratives, timelines, checklists, etc.

Here is one example I found on-line…


Infographics allow us to give information in a more engaging way. There are even free sites where you can make them on-line and then print them.  Click here for just one of these sites!

We are going to get to work making our own inforgraphics about space and I will be sure to share them as soon as we are done!