Top 10 Blog Posts of 2021

Reflection is a big part of teaching. As I shared last month, it is important to consider what worked and what didn’t, what to keep and what to jettison or tweak in a lesson. As part of my reflection process for last year I was looking over the stats for my blog and decided that January should be a month to celebrate what went well (and consider why some things might not have gone as well). This week I’d like to review for you the most viewed blog posts of 2021.

#10: Materials Organization

This post, and it’s sister post, Digital Materials Organization (#20), details how I organize my mountain of teaching materials so I’m able to quickly and easily put my hands on anything I have for a given topic/skill at any moment.

#9: Digital Scattergories

How do you play this popular game and prevent cheating when people are in different physical locations? This post details my solution and includes a link to create a free copy of a form we use to play.

#8: Vocabulary Word Wall

One of the most used features of my classroom has always been our word wall. In this post I share how I organize it, how I select the words for it, and some of the ways we use it. The post also includes a free download of the word wall cards I used when teaching National Geographic’s Inside curriculum (see #4 in this list for the lesson plans I used).

#7: Game Smashing: Silly Shorts

The term “game smashing” still hasn’t caught on, but Silly Shorts is still one of my students’ favorite speaking games. I love how easy it is to play and that it uses materials I already have in my classroom.

#6: Phonics Based Vocabulary

If you’re looking for a scripted phonics curriculum, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a set of activities that can be chosen from to create short lessons each day to help older students (grade 3+) improve their vocabulary and reading, this is what worked for mine. Get all the details in the post.

#5: ELLs Can Common Core

One of the most used, loved, and requested resources I’ve ever developed is the alignment of the K-8 CCSS and old WIDA I Can Statements. The alignment helps teacher to better understand what language learners can do to show mastery of the different standards. This post has all of the details and a link to download the alignment for free.

#4: National Geographic Inside Lesson Plans

Still one of my favorite curriculums to teach, National Geographic’s Inside series is great for middle school. This post shares why I like it (and some aspects I didn’t like) and has links to download the lesson plans I used to teach it for free. (Don’t forget the word wall cards from post #8 in this list.)

#3: Decorations with a Purpose

You will never find pictures of my classroom on Pinterest, it was simply not worthy, but it was always a cheerful place my students and I enjoyed. Most of the decorations were things my students and I made and all of them served a greater purpose. This post details my thought process and has links to download many of the posters I used (most of them free).

#2: Accommodating ELLs

While the #5 post on this list has the most requested and used resource I’ve ever made, this post details the most requested professional development session I’ve ever put together. Get an overview of my best accommodations for the general education classroom, and links to download the presentation slides for yourself (yes, they’re free), in the original post.

#1: New Teacher Classroom Purchases & Setup

Until December I wasn’t sure if this post, or the previous one, would end up as the most popular, but I think the graduating mid-year-hire teachers pushed this one over the top. Check the post for all of my advice, but the short two-part version is: “First, if it doesn’t help you teach, or your students learn, it’s in the wrong place or doesn’t belong there at all. Second, don’t expect or try to have it all right away; it’s ok to start with less and build up slowly.”

Stay tuned for more Top 10 lists this month, including the underdog blog posts, free Teachers Pay Teachers products, and free blog downloads. Happy teaching, everyone!