Get Inspired at the Blog

Popular Blog Posts

Most Recent Posts


25 Engaging Ways to Review for a Test That Your Students will Love

The quest for the perfect test review is a challenge teachers face with every impending exam. If you're on the lookout for innovative and enjoyable ways to help your students prepare for their next test, you've landed on the right page! In this blog post, I'm sharing 25 interactive and downright delightful methods to transform the often-dreaded review process into a memorable and engaging experience.

From classroom karaoke sessions to escape room challenges, get ready to revitalize your approach to test preparation with these tried-and-tested strategies. 

  1. 1. Doodle Review Page:

  2. Make reviewing for any unit fun with this Doodle and Do activity! First, students complete a planning to page to collect critical information on the unit. Then, they turn ...

Read More

5 Free and Interactive Writing Lessons for Grades 4-8


Are you on the lookout for dynamic and educational writing lessons that will captivate your students' imaginations? Do you wish you could find FREE writing lessons and activities for your classroom? If so, then you're in the right place!

In this writing lesson roundup, I'm sharing a collection of 5 free writing lessons tailored for grades 4-8. These lessons are not only educational but also hands-on and interactive, making them perfect for any day in the classroom. Whether you're looking to spice up your regular writing instruction or need activities suitable for substitute teaching, these resources are designed to add a touch of excitement to your classroom.

Check out these popular writing FREEBIES...

1. Free Story Cubes to Write ...

Read More

A Poetry Analysis Guide for Teachers - Free Poetry Lesson for '"Hope" is the thing with feathers"

Teaching poetry can be a daunting task, especially when met with reluctance from students. However, there's a jewel among the verses that can transform your poetry lessons and captivate even the most hesitant of students - Emily Dickinson's '"Hope" is the Thing with Feathers.' In this guide, we'll explore key ways to teach this timeless poem, overcome common teaching challenges, provide tips for analyzing poetry, delve into teaching literary analysis, and underscore the importance of Emily Dickinson in the literary canon.

Here's the best part...I've included a FREE lesson to teach the entire poem. Learn about it below, or download it right here.

Check out these easy steps for teaching '"Hope" is the thing with feathers'...

1. ...

Read More

Classroom Management Ideas for Promoting Positive Behavior in the Classroom

Are you a teacher seeking innovative and effective strategies to foster a positive classroom environment? Navigating the complexities of behavior management is a shared challenge among educators. Whether you're looking to reestablish classroom rules, set clear expectations, or introduce engaging activities to promote positive behavior, this blog post is filled with ideas.

You'll find 10 practical tips, tools, and fun activities designed to help you not only manage behavior but also cultivate a vibrant and inclusive learning space. From creating a collaborative "classroom constitution" to incorporating interactive learning games, discover actionable insights to make your classroom a hub of positivity and academic success.

1. Classroom Constitution

Overview: Create a collaborative document outlining the rules and expectations for the class, often ...

Read More

Introduction to Shakespeare Activities to Make Shakespeare Fun, Approachable, and Meaningful

Teaching Shakespeare can be a rewarding experience, and incorporating creativity into your approach can make the material more engaging for students. Here are seven creative ways to begin a unit on William Shakespeare or a unit that studies his literature...

1. Create a scavenger hunt with facts related to Shakespeare's life, works, and the Elizabethan era. Hide or hang the facts around the classroom or school. Then, have students hunt for the facts. As they find each fact, have them add the information to their notes as they build background on Shakespeare. 
This activity gets students up and moving while providing them a historical base for their Shakespeare studies. Need ready-made facts? Find them here!

2. Have students choose ...
Read More

Social Emotional Learning Games - Activities and Games to Promote SEL in the Classroom

Are you on the lookout for engaging and fun ways to foster social-emotional learning (SEL) skills in your students? Well, you're in the right place! Whether you're a seasoned teacher or a fresh-faced educator, I've included a treasure trove of games that will transform your classroom into a hub of self-awareness, self-management, relationship building, social awareness, and responsible decision-making.

These games are not only a breeze to implement, but are sure to have your students begging for more. These activities aren't just about learning; they're about making SEL skills an integral part of your classroom culture. So, let the games begin!


Game 1: Empathy Chairs

This game is similar to musical chairs, but it has a social-emotional learning twist. ...

Read More

5 Things Every Student Should Know about Veterans Day

As educators, our mission extends far beyond the confines of textbooks and classroom walls. We are tasked with nurturing young minds, fostering empathy, and instilling a deep sense of civic responsibility in the next generation. That's not always an easy task! One crucial aspect of this duty is teaching our students about the significance of Veterans Day. (Click here for ready-made lessons.)

We all know that Veterans Day is not just another holiday on the calendar. It is a powerful opportunity to instill values of gratitude, respect, and pride in students. In this blog post, I'm sharing essential facts about Veterans Day that you may want to share with your students. You'll also find practical strategies to make this holiday ...

Read More

How to Create a Calm Classroom with Calming Classroom Decor

Have you ever walked into a classroom that was so visually overwhelming it made your head spin? From bright colors to busy patterns, classroom decorations can either enhance or hinder student learning. But did you know that a calming environment can actually have a positive impact on academic performance? Studies have shown that the right classroom decorations can reduce stress, improve focus, and even encourage creativity

SPOILER: I've included a link to a set of FREE calming classroom posters at the end of this post!

Let's delve into the science behind calming classroom decorations, see how to create a calming environment, and explore the benefits of incorporating natural elements into your classroom décor. 

Research has shown that a  ...
Read More

Tips for New Teachers - How to Have a Successful First Year Teaching



Today, I'm sharing a round-up of common mistakes that new, new-ish, and let's face it, even veteran teachers make while teaching. They're considered common for a reason. I guarantee the colleagues you currently admire were making some of the very same mistakes when they started their career. The thing about mistakes is that they are really just learning opportunities. So, take a look at the mistakes, check out the tips to improve, and see how you can turn the mistake into a success. 

Weak or Lacking Classroom Management Skills:

Mistake: New teachers often struggle with establishing and maintaining effective classroom management, leading to disruptions and a loss of instructional time.
Tips to Improve: >>> ...
Read More

4 Sentences Every Middle School Teacher Should Say to the Their Students

Teaching middle school isn't for the faint of heart. Middle school teachers are tasked with providing top-notch instruction to a class full of students facing some of the biggest social, emotional, and physical changes of their lives. Adolescents have unique needs as students. That's why teachers are so critical in their development. 
If you've every found yourself in front of one or thirty teens, and you've wondered what to say to make them feel important, heard, and understood, then check out these research-based sentences that every middle schooler needs to hear.

Adolescents often face self-doubt and uncertainty about their abilities. Self-esteem tends to fluctuate during adolescence. Early adolescence (ages 10-14) often shows a decline in self-esteem as individuals navigate physical ...

Read More

Free Back to School Essentials for Teachers: Get to Know You Activity, Class Syllabus, Homework Helpers and More!

Let's get right to the good news: everything I'm sharing in this post is included in this FREE pack of back to school essentials for teachers. That's right! I've put together a set of free resources to help make your back to school planning a little easier. You can grab the collection of free school start materials right here.

If you're curious about what is included in the beginning of the school year pack, see what's inside below.

First of all, there's a get to know you activity that you can share with students on the first day of school. I'm a big fan of placing an activity on students' desks to complete independently when they arrive to your classroom ...

Read More

Promoting Social-Emotional Learning in Upper Elementary and Middle School Classrooms: Building Strong Classroom Communities

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) is a crucial component of education that goes beyond academic achievement. It equips students with the necessary skills to understand and manage their emotions, build positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. 

Social-Emotional Learning refers to the process of acquiring and applying knowledge, attitudes, and skills related to recognizing and managing emotions, developing empathy, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions, and engaging in effective communication. SEL cultivates a safe and nurturing environment that enhances students' overall well-being, academic success, and long-term success in life.

In upper elementary and middle school classrooms, SEL activities play a pivotal role in fostering a supportive and inclusive classroom community. Let's explore the significance of SEL and discover engaging activities that can promote ...

Read More

Long-Range Curriculum Planning for Middle School ELA: A Comprehensive Guide for Teachers

Starting a new school year signals the beginning of a great deal of curriculum planning. Determining what to teach in what order can be overwhelming especially since effective long-range planning is the cornerstone of a successful middle school English Language Arts (ELA) classroom. It allows teachers to set clear goals, create engaging lessons, and ensure a coherent and well-structured curriculum throughout the year. In this blog post, I'm sharing a step-by-step guide on how to complete long-range planning for your middle school ELA curriculum. 

Here's the best news, though! ⤋  ⤋  

I've put together these tips and the tools for long-range planning in the free Back to School Guide for Teachers. Get the 100+ resource filled with ...

Read More

Effective Strategies for Managing Challenging Student Behavior: A Proactive Approach

Managing challenging student behavior is an ongoing concern for teachers. I've had my fair share of difficult students and even classes. Over the years, I found that adopting proactive strategies and maintaining a positive classroom environment, helped me to effectively address and promote positive behavior among my students. Today I'm sharing some strategies to promote positive behavior before, during, and after students misbehave. 


In this post, you'll find my teacher-tested techniques for managing challenging student behavior proactively, dealing with difficult situations in the moment, and building connections with students after misbehavior occurs below. I've also put together a TON of ways to manage behavior in this classroom management pack.

One of the best ways ...

Read More

Classroom Organization Ideas for Back to School - Classroom Hacks

If you're reading this, then you know that setting up a classroom can be a daunting task, and keeping the classroom organized can seem almost impossible. That's where these easy classroom organization hacks come in. They are simple ideas to make your spaces more efficient, and...well...organized. (Oh, and if you're looking for more back to school ideas, grab this FREE guide for teachers filled with nearly 100 pages!)
Here's a round up of 6 easy organization hacks to try in your classroom. 

If there's one thing that classrooms are notorious for, it's having a lot of supplies. Figuring out where to put all the work and craft supplies can be overwhelming. However, you ...
Read More

End of the Year Celebration Ideas for the Last Days of School

As the school year draws to a close, it's fun to celebrate and acknowledge the hard work and achievements of your students. Not only does it provide a sense of accomplishment, but it also creates lasting memories and fosters a positive classroom environment. To help you make the end of the school year memorable, here are eight fun and easy ways to celebrate and honor your students.

Personalized Notes or Letters: Write personalized notes or letters to each of your students, expressing your appreciation for their growth, effort, and positive attitude throughout the year. Highlight specific achievements, moments of resilience, and personal growth that you have observed in them. These heartfelt messages will make each student feel valued and recognized ...

Read More

Ten Easy Ways to Prepare NOW for your NEXT school year

Here's a list of the top ten things that teachers can do at the end of a school year to better prepare themselves for the start of a new school year:

Reflect on the past year: Take some time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the previous year. Identify areas for improvement and set goals for the upcoming year. 

Some questions you might think about include...

--- What key lessons did you learn about yourself this year?

--- What was one of the greatest things you accomplished this school year?

--- List 3 successful lesson, projects, or activities that you implemented this year.

--- What challenges did you overcome this past school year?

--- Are there any areas ...

Read More

Free Cards to Give Students at the End of the School Year - Easy End of Year Gift for Kids

As the school year comes to a close and festive celebrations fill the air, teachers everywhere are searching for the perfect end-of-the-year gesture to express gratitude and appreciation for their students. Amidst the flurry of final projects, report cards, and classroom packing, finding a unique and thoughtful gift idea can be a bit overwhelming. Look no further, dear educators! 
In this blog post, I'm sharing a FREE end of the year gift card that you can give to students. Get it sent to your inbox by adding your information below. Just add your email and then your first name.

    The "sweet" cards are designed to capture your students' hearts but also leave a lasting impression of ...
    Read More

    End of the School Year Checklist for Teachers

    Yahoo! If you're reading this then you made it to the end of a school year. That's no small feat! It's not easy guiding students through a year of learning with passion, kindness, and inspiration. You deserve a standing ovation and a little help making the end of the school year as easy as possible. So, I've compiled all the end of the school year tasks that you may want to complete in this post. 

    Don't worry, you can print a downloadable FREE version of the checklist right here. (BONUS! I've included a personal reflection and letter to parents inside the freebie, too).

    Since every classroom is different, some of these tasks may not apply to you and your students. ...

    Read More

    Lesson Ideas for Writing a Lead - How to Teach Leads in Writing

    There's no doubt about it...a composition's lead is paramount! Would you read a book with a boring opening? Not me! A story's lead is its first impression, so it must be dynamite! 

    I've put together a FREE lesson for writing a lead that you can grab here. Be sure to download the freebie and then learn all about how I like to teach how to write a lead below.

    STEP 1: Build Background
    Give students background information on what a lead is.  Remind students that when writing and improving their lead sentences, they should consider their audience. 
    Teach students that...
    --- Leads are the beginning sentences of a story or writing piece.

    --- Since the lead is the reader's ...
    Read More

    How to Teach Theme - Tips for Teaching Theme in Language Arts

    Theme is such an important concept when teaching reading. Students are asked to determine the theme of a text over and over again. However, many students struggle with how to identify the theme. That's why I'm sharing some of my favorite ways to teach theme. You'll find theme lesson ideas, theme activities, and theme passage suggestions to help your students finally figure out how to find theme! 

    Sometimes when thinking about theme it is easiest to think about what it is not. Theme is NOT the subject of the text. The subject would be a single word like "childhood" or "friendship." It is NOT a summary. A summary would be several sentences describing the text. Instead, it is the ...
    Read More

    Free Reading Comprehension Skills Doodle Note Pages


    Reading comprehension skills like making inferences, finding the main idea, and recognizing cause and effect are critical curriculum elements in any ELA classroom. As our students build their reading skills, they need to develop their understanding of 12 different reading comprehension skills. One of my favorite ways to teach students about the reading skills is with doodle notes. 

    Don't worry...I've put together a 20+ page set of doodle notes that you can download for FREE! (Sign up at the bottom of this post!)

    Have you tried doodle notes in your classroom? If so, you know that...

    Doodle notes are a great way to introduce students to important information.

    These doodle notes include definitions for 12 different reading skills. ...

    Read More

    How to teach fables - Lesson ideas for writing, reading, and analyzing fables


    Fables are an important part of English Language Arts instruction. The genre, which often includes animals that act like humans and moral lessons, is perfect for targeted lessons in reading, writing, listening, speaking, and analyzing. Classic and modern fables are both entertaining and approachable. Fables also shed light on other cultures, characterization, and moral lessons. Most importantly, they're just plain fun to teach! Here are 6 easy ways to teach fables in your classroom...

    I LOVE giving students a chance to write their very own fable. I recommend starting with mentor texts so that students can become experts on the genre. Then, through targeted writing instruction, students can write their own story that includes a moral, animal characters, story ...
    Read More

    Free Valentine's Day Bookmarks: Fun and Easy Classroom Activity or Valentine's Day Gift


    I love celebrating holidays like Valentine's Day in the classroom. I also love encouraging students to read. So, what's better than a free Valentine's Day gift that combines a Valentine's Day message with a bookmark? Nothing! I'm so excited to share these free Valentine's Day bookmarks with you. They work perfectly as Valentine that teachers can give to students. Or, you can print these for a single student to give classmates. Oh...and you could even use the bookmarks as a classroom celebration activity where students make the bookmarks for each other. They're very versatile and so much fun! 

    I have a feeling that you're going to love this FREE set of Valentine's Day cards that come in the form ...

    Read More

    Creativity in the Social Studies Classroom - Ancient Civilizations

    As a kid in school I loved when my teachers celebrated creativity in the classroom. In fact, when I reflect on my own education, the moments I remember the most were the creative ones.  I vividly remember making salt maps of the state, book report mobiles, models, papier-mâché globes, interactive brochures, puppets, and dioramas.  What about you?  Are the instructional moments that you remember the most tied to creative activities?  There's just something so powerful about hands-on learning with creative opportunities.

    Now, more than ever, in our assessment-focused world of education, it's time to infuse creativity into the classroom!  Check out these fun ways to turn ancient history lessons into creative hands-on learning experiences!

    During this project, ...
    Read More

    © Copyright 2017 Brainwaves Instruction. All Rights Reserved. Web Development by Steven L Smith. Design by Ruby & Sass.