Blog Hop, Giveaway & Freebie! Teaching Strategies that Work

I’m so glad to be a part of this blog hop about Teaching Strategies that Work. Keep reading ’til the end so you can enter the giveaway! 16 bloggers have teamed up to offer some great products AND gift certificates to their stores. I love spending at TPT so this would be an awesome prize! ๐Ÿ™‚

A BIG thank you to Celeste at the Education Highway for coming up with this idea, hosting the giveaway and doing so much work to create the graphics and get everything running! ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course, she is part of this blog hop so make sure you stop by her blog and share your appreciation!

Join at:

There is a new social media was officially launched last week and is already taking the blogging world by storm. It is called Tsu (pronounced Sue). When you join and start using the network, it feels a lot like facebook. So, why bother? What’s new?

Facebook started out as a fun network to connect with family and friends. I remember reading about it while I was in a hotel lobby during a family reunion vacation. I was connecting with family members who I had only been able to see a handful of times in my life. I thought this sounded like a brilliant way to strengthen those connections and be involved in their lives while living so far away. It was. I’ve enjoyed seeing pictures of weddings and children and little glimpses into their lives.

When I started selling on TPT, Facebook seemed like a natural addition. I was already on Facebook a lot (too much!) so why not use this as a platform to connect with teachers. I enthusiastically participated in blog hops, giveaways and was working to provide and find content that would be beneficial. My facebook account grew quickly from a few dozen and now it is really close to 4,000 likes.

Unfortunately, over the last several months Facebook has been making changes that have been detrimental to bloggers and business owners. They started offering a system to pay for posts to have more a wider audience and limiting how much your post is seen. My organic reach (the number of people who have a chance to see the post) dwindled over this time. If I do not ย pay for the post to be seen, Facebook is generally showing my posts to about 1% of my followers. I have tried asking my followers to like, comment, choose to get notifications, etc. I have tried paying for posts to be seen. It is very discouraging to write something and then have it filtered and blocked from those who would like to see it. I recently had a really big sale on one of a large bundle at TPT. I posted about the sale on Facebook and Instagram. I had several teachers who eventually saw the post from Facebook and were sad they missed the sale. I extended it and still had some who missed it. It has become a problem. Also, I loved to host giveaways on Facebook. It was fun and easy to host a quick giveaway where you could enter by liking or leaving a comment. Facebook also changed their terms for giveaways a few times over the last few months and at times has severely limited giveaways.

Tsu is a different type of social media. They believe that the content creators (the ones who write the posts) should control the content and even make the majority of the ad revenue that is generated on a social media site. They have an MLM type of structure so that you sign up with someone and both of you benefit from your activity on the site. It is free to join and there is no need to “recruit” anyone to join up with you. You can just use it like you would use facebook – to follow friends and other interests (teaching). The best part – they are not filtering who sees the content. If you are following my store and scroll through your feed then you will be able to see the links to giveaways, freebies, teaching tips, etc. that I post. I can even host a giveaway without worrying about not following the terms of the provider. I am really excited to try this. I have seen so many teachers join in these first few days. I hope that this continues so we can have a great place to network and share our ideas for the classroom! Please go to to sign up and start following my page. ๐Ÿ™‚

Social media is all about connecting (in this case with other teachers). So, I thought I would share a few simple strategies for connecting to your students and families.


I was recently at a PD conference where Harry Wong, author of the First Days of School, was speaking. One of the things that he spoke about was the importance of greeting the students when they enter the classroom. That is something that I had already learned from my wonderful co-workers. They all stand at the door to welcome each student. That is not a requirement and no one has asked them to do that. Wong expanded on that idea even further, by suggesting that you train students to take turns greeting each other. What a wonderful way to help your students build their social skills and create a warm and caring classroom environment. I am just starting to implement this idea and am excited about the difference it can make in our classroom.

Most students have so much that they want to talk about — that is why you are always telling them to stop talking and get to work! ๐Ÿ™‚ We thrive on those social connections. My 1st graders love to share! We have been learning about bats and I asked if any of them had a seen a bat (outside of the zoo). A few of them had some very credible sounding stories. Then, I started getting stories like…”Once, I was camping and I heard bats outside of the tent.” Hmmm… those noisy bats! That happens all the time! They just really want a story to share. My own boys are getting older (teen and pre-teen) and they seem to compete with each other to be the one to get to tell something. It is a frequent complaint lately that one starts telling something and the other wants to interrupt and finish it! I remember our pastor’s wife sharing about raising teenage boys and that sometime you just have to hang out with them (usually in the kitchen!) and talk about insignificant things (minecraft!) and before you know it they are sharing about the things that really matter. Listen to what your students have to say. Connect.

Help your students feel that they are an important part of the classroom. I read a recent Washington Post article about a teacher who spent a few days as a student. She asked one of the students she was shadowing if they were an important part of the class. Did she make important contributions? Would her input be missed on days that she was absent? The student laughed. No, she did not feel like they needed her in class. How sad. Our students spend so much time with this community of learners – shouldn’t they feel like they belong?


There are multitudes of ways to connect with parents and family members.

I send emails to my parents most every week to remind them of upcoming events and share what we are learning. I try to think about the things that they want to know. What will their child share with them about the day? What details will they have questions about? When we introduce a new app for the iPad rotations, I will often share that info with them. I will tell them about a topic we are studying or something fun that happened in class. I want them feel like they are also a part of the class. We have a weekly bulletin that is emailed from the office, but many parents don’t really read it. It is information about the whole school — they want specific information. Emails from the teacher will always hold more weight than general office emails.

It’s all about communication! ๐Ÿ™‚ Many parents want to know about the behavior of their student. Our class has a classroom clip chart. I use a classroom calendar to communicate upcoming events and the students color the square at the end of the day to show what color they were on at the end of the day. I use a marker to put a check mark on the square to keep them honest! ๐Ÿ™‚ (not that they would ever purposely use the wrong color…)

I’ve created some praise certificates that you can use to let your parents know when a student has awesome behavior. This is a freebie that is exclusively for my tsu followers. I have another freebie later in this post for EVERYONE! ๐Ÿ™‚ ย Tsu followers – just click on either image below to go directly to the tsu post and download your freebie!

Let parents know about the positives in class. Share about the good things that happen in the day. Send home a happy note. Share pictures of the pictures that you take in the classroom – – student’s participating in classroom activities, student work, etc.

I made a freebie with the fall leaves and the words from this display. You’ll have to provide your own scarecrow. The pumpkins were created with strips of orange posterboard. I used a brad at the top and fanned them out and taped the bottom. The leaves are green construction paper. The vines are green curling ribbon and some gold cord. I made the fence out of large brown leaf bags. Click on the scarecrow picture above to download the leaf pattern and words. There are a few different quotes available for the words.

Here’s some more information about creating your door and including the audio QR codes. I had the students decorate fall leaves. They wrote about 3 things that they were thankful for during their Welcome Work (a phrase that I learned from Harry Wong at the conference — isn’t that great? I like it so much better than Entry Task!). Then, I had a grandparent volunteer record them reading it on the iPad. I created a QR code to put on the leaf so that when the leaf is scanned, parents (and others) can hear the message of thankfulness. This idea was MUCH easier in my mind! I found that it is difficult to record the audio on the iPad and then create the QR code on Windows. There were some complications with audio players, etc. Next time, I may get a microphone for my computer and useย 

Here is what I used to create the audio QR codes with the iPad:
*Awesome Voice Recorder (free app) ย This app will create an .mp3 recording and you can easily send it to dropbox. I saw a few blog posts about linking to dropbox, but I never was able to figure out a way to do that and get the audio file to open up or start playing. It just wanted to send me to a download page. I made the file public and tried to get the link while it was playing and nothing worked. If you know of a way to do this, please let me know.
~~YOU CAN AVOID THIS STEP – just use the soundcloud app!~~
*Sound Cloud – an online platform for sharing original music and audio content. Transfer your files from dropbox to soundcloud. There are options under each file. Click on “share” to get a URL.
~~The Soundcloud iOS app has an recording option. Just record the files directly on Soundcloud to save time.~~
* – This is my go-to QR creator. Just select the globe icon to enter a web address. Input the URL and press enter. Click on download beneath the live preview. I save the code as a .jpg. You’ll want to view the file right away so that you can change the default name to the student name. You don’t want to mix-up the files! ๐Ÿ™‚
*Insert the QR code image onto a page in Word, etc. Print.
*Scan – Use a QR scanning app to access the file. I like to use Scan. I could not find a way that would play the file automatically so you do need to press the play button for this method.

There is a big prize package that you could win! This prize includes 8 ($10) TPT store WINNER’S CHOICE to choose an item up to that value and 8 great products! You can enter to win this package by following each store on tsu. You can sign up for tsuย @ย
Keep reading to the end of the post for your freebies. ๐Ÿ™‚ Enter to win the prize package here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit the Education Highway to see the other participating bloggers and their posts with teaching strategies and freebies!

Congratulations to the giveaway winners & October Calendar Days

Congratulations to Lorena, Mary L., Cheryl J., Heather S., Rose T., Robyn G. Emily L. Michelle S. They are the winners of the Fabulous Fall Friends Giveaway! Emails have been sent to notify the winners.

Can you believe it’s October???? Wow! I am ready for some crisp, fall days! Following is a list of some of the unusual National Days in October. I will feature some of these days and have some resources for you. Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day may be a good one for me! Am I the only one who works with about 30 tabs/pages open and has a very crowded desktop? Windows 8 took care of some of that for me by eliminating the desktop (not a fan!). Stay tuned and I’ll be posting about some of these special days! Let me know what ones you would really like to see featured.

Happy Friday!!