April 14, 2020

Recording Video for Students - It's Easier Than You Think!

If you are like me, you have pretty much gone totally digital in your teaching. Initially, we were just posting assignments on Google Classroom for our students. One thing I missed, however, was our daily read aloud times. 
I love reading books to my students! It's my favorite time of the day because I can introduce all sorts of topics - like character development, story elements, or just read for fun. The best part of read alouds, for me, is getting my students to love books! 

Because I was unhappy not to share books with my students, I knew I needed to find something. This caused me to look for different options and I found one that I love! Have you heard about Loom? It's amazing! All you need is your computer. Now let's talk about Recording Video for Students - It's Easier Than You Think!
Recording Video for Students - It's Easier Than You Think!

What is Loom?

Loom is an extension that gets added into your browser. Hopefully that doesn't sound too complicated. Let me explain it in simpler terms. When you add things to the browser, you are adding it to the area next to the address bar (where you type in a web address). 
It's simple to download, go to the Loom website and follow the steps. You basically just give permission and it will set up everything for you. By the way, it is FREE for educators!

Why Should I Record Myself?

Students need something normal in their lives right. As the teacher, you may be the one of most important person in their lives. Students want to see you and interact with you. While a Loom video doesn't offer feedback (except for comments), it's a step towards forward.
I had a parent send me a picture of her daughter watching a video of me reading a story. It was so sweet. Other students have commented on how much they enjoy the story times. I can see that my videos are accessed throughout the day and on weekends, so I know my students are watching them!

While I use Loom mostly for read aloud time, you can use it to teach lessons. I think that starting with Loom is much easier than trying a Zoom meeting or Google Meet with your students. It's a great way to try something new. 
Recording Video for Students - It's Easier Than You Think!

Steps in Recording a Video

  1. You click on the extension (it looks like a rose picture).
  2. Decide if you want to video your computer screen, your computer screen and you, or just you. Click on the icon that shows the picture of the one you want.
  3. By your picture, click the play button. You will have 3 seconds before the recording starts.
  4. Click that same button to end the video when done.
  5. It will automatically take you to the Loom website and give you a link for your video. (You can create a name for your video too.)
  6. Take this link and post it on Google Classroom or anywhere else you use to communicate with your students.
  7. Loom keeps track of the number of people watching the videos (and if students are logged into Google, it tells you which students have watched the video).
If you need more help than the steps provided above, please let me know. You can email me at beth@confessionsofafrazzledteacher.com. I hope this helps keep you connected to your students during this crazy time! 
By the way, if you want more tips like this, make sure to sign up for my email (and get tons of freebies). Just click the picture below to sign up!

Distance learning is tough! There are so many new resources that teachers need to master in order to teach their students. This blog post will help all the frazzled teachers out there. Inside you will discover Recording Video for Students - It's Easier Than You Think! Read step-by-step how to record video of you teaching a lesson or reading your students a book. The best part...this is FREE! With this tool, you will begin to master distance learning in no time! #confessionsofafrazzledteacher

March 15, 2020

E-learning Ideas for Learning at Home

Crazy times are here! The dreaded virus (I won't say the C word as most of us are tired of it!) has caused everything to close. My school is closed. Because of this, we have moved to e-learning. My team already has a little plan in place (at least for a couple of days). Unfortunately, we never thought we would be closed multiple weeks! With this in mind, here are some E-learning Ideas for Learning at Home.

E-learning Ideas for Learning at Home

In each section below, I provide different links to FREEBIES offered by different providers during this period. Please use the links provided as some are not found on the first page of their website. 

* Please note, these are NOT referral links. I am in no way affiliated with any of these programs.

Google Classroom 

This has to be set up by your district. If they do not have it, unfortunately you will not be able to access it. Having access to Google Classroom makes it easy to drop links and assignments for your students. 

If you are a G-Suite district, check out the link to see how they have expanded services to help teachers and students at home. For example, they have increased the participants allowed in Google Hangouts.

Have you ever played a breakout game? These are fun, educational games that have questions which need to be answered to unlock different clues and win. This particular website has breakout games meant to be played at home.

The students answer questions and use the answers to unlock the locks. This might be a little difficult at first. I suggest having students do an easy one (below grade level one) at first to understand how to play the game without worrying about the questions.

Virtual Field Trips 

Since students are stuck at home during this period, a Virtual Field Trip will take them to different places around the world. This list shows just a few places. To find more, I suggest doing a simple Google search for Virtual Field Trips.
  1. 12 Museums you can Tour. - People Magazine created a list that links different museums for you and your students to visit. One museum I recommend is the British Museum. I love that one!
  2. Mount Rushmore - When I first tried this, it was a little tricky to navigate, but once you get into it, it's pretty cool. Students can click on different pictures throughout which will lead them on the trail to Mount Rushmore. There are also 360 degree panoramic views and lots of educational information!
  3. Statue of Liberty - This page gives you the directions on how to navigate the tour. In order to actually take the tour, students need to click on the words - High Speed.
  4. The Liberty Bell - This will take you around the Liberty Bell so you can examine it up close.
  5. Treasure Trove of Places - While looking at the Liberty Bell, I clicked on all they have to offer. There are too many places to list here but some include the Lincoln Memorial, Titanic, Sigmund Freud Museum, Antarctica, and hundreds more all over the world.
Most of these trips offer so many educational pieces of information that students can read and learn. To 'prove' that students have completed their field trip, you can have them write 3 things they have learned or find a cute graphic organizer to fill out.


EdPuzzle will allow you to make videos or use already created videos to engage your students. By signing up with the link I provide, you will gain full access to this site. This means you will get records of which students have viewed the videos and their comprehension of them.

Mystery Science 

Mystery Science is offering some free mini lessons perfect for science. Some of the lessons have an activity for students to complete after watching a video. Some are just an educational video. With those, have students watch them and write a reflection afterwards to prove they saw the video.

We use this in my school and I love it! They are offering their program FREE right now. You can assign students work in reading, math, science, and social studies. What's nice is that once students start, you don't actually have to do anything! 

Students are pretested and placed in work according to their ability. You can even create a contest in which students earn a certain number of points. Right now we are in the midst of a March contest and my students have already been going on at home to get the most points in class. (FYI - Points are earned for correct answers.)

If you fill out the form by clicking on the link above, you will gain FREE access on BrainPop. This means you can assign videos, quizzes, and view lessons that go with them. I love how BrainPop makes videos easy for my students to understand. In school, I generally use them as an introduction to a lesson or a quick review. However, you can use them for so much more!

While you can use Kahoot! for free anytime, right now they are offering FREE Premium access to their site. Kahoot! is a fun way to review that students understand their work. You create quizzes (or find previously made ones) that students answer to earn points. By use the Premium feature, you will be able to print out reports with how well the students completed their work.
    There are tons of more FREE resources to use during this time but like anything else, I caution you to keep it simple so you and your students are not overwhelmed by shiny new object syndrome. We are all working to figure out this e-learning. If you have any tips or suggestions, please let me know by commenting below or emailing me at beth@confessionsofafrazzledteacher.com. I want to help in any way that I can!
    In these uncertain times, teachers need as many resources as possible to help students learn at home through e-learning. Students may be working at home 2-4 weeks, so the resources needed must be diverse and easy to use. This blog post contains virtual field trips as well as normally paid resources that you can currently access for FREE! Help your students be successful during this crazy time! #confessionsofafrazzledteacher {2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades}

    Looking for FREE printables to use during this time? Click the picture below to get access to 20 pages of FREE Differentiated Math pages!

    January 7, 2020

    4 Sight Word Centers That Help Fine Motor Skills (FREEBIE Inside!)

    Do you use centers in your classroom? We use them during guided reading time. I use no prep/easy prep centers for my students to complete while I pull small groups. The most important thing I think about when it comes to centers is - Can students complete them without any help? I want high engaging centers that will truly benefit my students, but I do not want to have to help them since I would rather focus on my guided reading group.

    4 Sight Word Centers That Help Fine Motor Skills (FREEBIE Inside!)

    I also decided that these centers would need to be dual focused. They need to help students learn their sight words and help with their fine motor skills. With this in mind, here are 4 Sight Word Centers That Help Fine Motor Skills.
    Disclaimer: This blog posts contain affiliate links. Clicking on them will not cost you anything but may earn me a small commission if you make a purchase.

    4 Sight Word Centers That Help Fine Motor Skills

    Magnetic Letters 

    Materials Needed: magnetic letters, cookie sheet (from the dollar store), jewelry organizer

    What to Do: Students find the letters to create the words on the cookie sheet. The jewelry organizer neatly keeps all the letters in order making them easy for students to find. As a bonus, it hangs up out of the way when you aren't using it.

    Play Dough 

    What to Do: For years, I have thought third graders were too old for play dough. This past summer, after a lot of reflection, I realized how badly my students needed to use it in school. Playing with play dough helps students with their fine motor skills (which I noticed are more and more lacking as the years have gone on).

    Now I give my students the sight word cards and play dough and let them practice their words.

    Alphabet Beads/Pipe Cleaners 

    Materials Needed: alphabet beads, pipe cleaners (cut in half), small container (for storage)

    What to Do: Students have to spell their sight words using the alphabet beads and sliding them onto the pipe cleaners. It's a tight fit so the students really have to work their fine motor skills.

    Sight Word Activity Pages 

    Materials Needed: Sight Word Activity Pages

    What to Do: Sometimes, you need to give students a worksheet. You need the grades! This is not just an ordinary worksheet however. Each page focuses on one sight word word. Students have to color the word, cut out/glue letters, write the word, and more for each page. This gives students the opportunity to practice the words in different ways.

    Sight Words Bundle - Fry Words: 1-500 - Primary Version                 Sight Words Bundle - Fry Words: 1-500 - Older Student Version     

    One Last Note About Sight Word Centers

    No matter what you decide to use for your sight word centers, keep it simple for you. You don't want a ton of extra management to worry about, extra grading, or extra prep to complete ahead of time. You want these students to benefit your students without overwhelming you. You also want to focus your resources on your guided reading group! What would you add to sight word centers? Feel free to email me your ideas or comment below!

    Planning for reading centers can be overwhelming! It's also difficult to fit EVERYTHING into the school day! This post will help teachers plan simple centers that focus students  Bonus!!! There are freebies included! #confessionsofafrazzledteacher {Third, Fourth, and Fifth Graders}

    By the way, if you missed the freebies above, here they are again...

    August 13, 2019

    16 Read Aloud Books Perfect for Back to School

    16 Read Aloud Books Perfect for Back to School

    My original plan was to create a list of 10 Books Perfect for Back to School! As I began to compile this list, it started to grow and grow! Before I knew it, I was at 16 books! What can I say? I'm OBSESSED with books and reading. So here it goes (in no particular order)...16 Books Perfect for Back to School!

    1. First Day Jitters

    I know that this book is on a lot of Back to School lists! Luckily, no one reads this one in K-2 in my district. I ALWAYS read this book the first day of school. Watching my students as I read this book, especially on the last page (there's a HUGE plot twist), lets me have a really informal way of assessing my students' comprehension skills. It's surprisingly accurate as too which students are going to need extra help during the school year!

    2. Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind

    I have a bunch of Miss Malarkey books in my classroom library! I LOVE how this teacher makes sure to find a book that encourages all of her students to get interested in reading. I let my students know that I am like Miss Malarkey. I love reading so much and want my students to develop that same love. We will find a book that they will love!

    3. If You Take a Mouse to School

    This is a simplistic book but works well as an easy introduction for problem/solution. This book is full of both! For every solution that is created, a new problem occurs. Using literature to teach skills makes understanding those skills easier for students.

    4. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books!

    This is another simplistic book to use in your classroom. This time, focus on sequencing. The old lady swallows items in a particular order. There is a lot of repetition in this story to reinforce the sequence of events.

    5. Too Much Glue

    Have you noticed that your students struggle with gluing? I think this skill has gotten worse over the years. I use this book as a humorous way to introduce how I want them to glue. I actually take the time to practice this skill with my students after reading this book.

    6. The Juice Box Bully

    I love how this book is not a traditional book about bullies. Instead, the students in this book stand up to the bully and show students how they can too. It teaches students that there is a zero tolerance policy on bullying when everyone gets involved!

    7. Mouth is a Volcano!

    During the beginning of the school year, students tend to forget that they shouldn't shout out whenever they feel like it. This book gives a great visual on how students may feel like shouting out but need help with self-control.

    8. The Recess Queen

    The Recess Queen is another book involving a bully. This one has a different approach to deal with the bully. In this book, a new kid stands up to the bully by becoming a friend. 

    9. Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

    I tend to read a lot of books in this series. I love the concept of filling a bucket by using kind words. I have a little bucket that I keep by our Morning Meeting area as a reminder during the year. This book helps my students develop a common language to use when talking about how words make us feel.

    10. Do Unto Otters

    This a cute book to help your students review manners. The focus is on the Golden Rule. Love the cuteness of this one!

    11. What if Everybody Did That?

    I normally read this one in April for Earth Day, but it's a great one at the beginning of the school year too! It's a book full of questions for the students to ponder. Just because everyone else does something, doesn't mean they should do it too!

    12. The Book With No Pictures

    This book works well as a model to teach students how to read fluently. Normally students are focused on the pictures. Since there are no pictures, students can really focus on the words. It also helps that this is a hilarious one! My students always crack up when reading it!

    13. Third Grade Angels

    I try to read a chapter book within the first couple of weeks of school. Since I teach third grade, this is a perfect one. I just like this story. It's a nice one of encouraging students to be kind to each other. 

    Please note, there is a sequel to this book called Fourth Grade Rats. I must say that I do NOT like this one at all. I was disappointed in it. I would suggest you take the time to read it first before reading it to your students.

    14. Fish in a Tree

    I cannot express how much I LOVE this book! This story is about a sixth grade girl that really struggles with reading. During the story, she learns she has dyslexia. I feel like it has such a positive message about working hard and accepting yourself. 

    The only warning I have with this book is that it is a longer one. Depending on your group of students, you may want to wait until the attention span is a bit longer.

    15. Wonder

    This is another book that raises a LOT of great conversations with students. If you are unfamiliar with this story, it focuses on a little boy born with facial abnormalities. After being home schooled his whole life, he finally begins school. This brings so many issues for him and his family. 

    This is another longer book, so if your students do not have a strong attention span, I would wait for this one!

    16. Any Magic Treehouse Book


    I love the Magic Treehouse series! When I read one of these books at the start of the school year, it's actually the fourth book in the series, Pirates Past Noon. I have a pirate themed classroom, so this book is perfect. Magic Treehouse books are fun ones for early chapter book readers. Any book in this series would help encourage even your most reluctant readers!

    What do you like to read with your students for Back to School?

    Finding the perfect story to read aloud to your students at the beginning of the school year can be difficult. This blog post shares 16 books (both picture and chapter) to encourage students to become interested in reading. The recommendations also help teachers use trade literature to teach comprehension skills like sequencing and problem/solution as well as social/emotional skills. #confessionsofafrazzledteacher #teachers #backtoschool {Kindergarten, First, Second, and Third Graders}

    August 6, 2019

    7 Must Have Back to School Supplies

    7 Must Have Back to School Supplies

    Throughout my years of teaching, it feels like I have bought out entire stores! Luckily, I have also been lucky enough to be given items from generous people to supplement my classroom needs. Throughout this time, I have come to rely on some items that I cannot live without! 

    *Disclaimer - This post contains affiliate links. Clicking on them will not cost you any money but may earn me a small commission if you make a purchase.

    7 - Toolkit

    This may seem like something that is frivolous and not necessary, but let me explain! My toolkit comes in handy for day to day tasks like using pliers to pull a too short pencil from the pencil sharpener, using a screwdriver to fix a loose screw on a student's desk, measuring anything with the tape measure, or creating level bulletin boards with the level.

    My toolkit has also come in handy in an emergency! At the end of the school day, a teacher was returning to her classroom to find the lock stuck. Since it was the end of the day, our regular maintenance guy was gone for the day. Instead, there were two cleaning ladies, our dean, and our principal all trying to open the door without success because they couldn't find the right tools. My trusty toolkit saved the day, opening the door to let everyone get their supplies to go home! 

    I've now had my toolkit for about 5 years! I can't go back to not having it around! It's a must have!

    6 - Pencil Sharpener

    I am a bit of a snob when it comes to pencil sharpeners. The one pictured above is the ONLY one I use! I have one for home and school. When the school one finally dies, I bring my rarely used one from home and get myself a new at home sharpener. I find that I only have to get a new sharpener every 1 and a 1/2 to 2 years. 

    I know that some teachers do not let students use their pencil sharpeners. I don't have the time or energy to sharpen my students' pencils. Instead, I teach my students how to properly use this sharpener. When a pencil is sharpened, the sharpener makes a quieter sound. We all listen for this sound and then I have my students practice using it correctly. It's actually very rare to have issues with this sharpener (at least in my opinion).

    5 - Popsicle Sticks

    I use Popsicle sticks for all sorts of things in my room. I use them to write all my students' names and pull sticks for grouping students or when I need an answer to a question.

    Popsicle sticks are also great for creating cheap Kaboom games. Kaboom is a fun game that can be used in centers, small groups, or 1:1. Click HERE to see how to make a Kaboom game

    4 - A Great Pair of Scissors

    This seems like a silly thing to include on my list. When you are making bulletin board displays or need to cut anything out, you want a quality pair. It's amazing how much time and energy I have wasted on a horrible pair of scissors. Now I have a couple of pairs of great scissors in different areas of my classroom. They are ready to go anytime I need them.

    3 - Fun Pens

    Pens are another item that may seem frivolous. Think about how much time you are going to spend grading papers. That is a thankless, tedious job! Having a favorite pen to use for grading helps to make this a little more palatable. 

    Since my favorite color is purple, I ONLY use purple pens when grading. I have also jumped on the flair pen bandwagon. I find that flair pens tend to be smoother when writing. They are also nice and dark when I use my ELMO (it shows any paper and writing in real time). Other pens tend to fade and not get seen on the board.

    2 - BLUE Sticky Tack

    Sticky Tack is used in lieu of tape to stick posters to the wall. Notice, I said that the Sticky Tack has to be blue (the other colors do not work as well). I have found that this sticky tack is the only thing that will really hold my posters up all school year. You use small amounts, roll it in a ball, and stick it all over the back of a poster. You may need to use a lot to keep it up, but once you invest in this, it will last for years. 

    At the end of the school year, when removing posters, collect all the sticky tack and keep it in a sealed container. You can reuse this the following year. You may need to roll around the sticky tack in order for it to be tacky again. It really lasts!

    1 - Books


    I am OBSESSED with books. Right now, my classroom has over 3,000 books! Is it enough? No way! I currently have boxes of books at home that I have to get ready for my classroom library. My only problem is finding room to store all of these books. I wish my classroom were larger so then I could add thousands more!

    I don't expect everyone to be as crazy about books as me. However, I think that every classroom needs books. It isn't always cheap but it's worth it. Here are some quick ways to get books into your classroom: ask family/friends for donations, go to garage sales/thrift stores, use Scholastic, and create a Donors Choose project (Click HERE to see my post on How to Get Your Donors Choose Project Funded!).

    If you liked this post and want even more resources, freebies, and more, then sign up for my email HERE!

    What are your Must Have Back to School Supplies?

    If you liked this post, you may also like these...

    Every classroom needs basic supplies like glue, pencils, and crayons. What about other necessary supplies? This blog post shares 7 Must-Have items in your classroom! These supplies are designed to make your teacher life run more smoothly! #confessionsofafrazzledteacher #teachers #schoolsupplies {Kindergarten, First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Grade Educators}