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Best Year Ever: Back to School Resource Roundup

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Well folks, it's almost Labor Day weekend, which means the start of the school year is a) days away or b) already underway! If you're still looking for a few activities and resources to fill out the next couple weeks, don't fret! We have compiled some of our favorites. Enjoy, and best of luck with the new school year!

5 Things I Wish I'd Known My First Year of Teaching

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Julia Cremin is a 6th grade Reading, Language Arts and Math teacher at O'Keeffe Middle School in Madison, WI. She is certified in Elementary Education (grades 1-9) with a minor in Mathematics. This is her fourth year teaching middle school. 

Back to School: Send Home Teacher "Business Cards"

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Parent-teacher communication is vital to the success of any student, and it is important to begin
those relationships early in the year. As a teacher, making yourself accessible and easy to get into contact with is a great gesture to parents. 

We love the idea of using a magnet as a business card of sorts to send home with students. Parents can of course program your information into their phones and computers, but there's something about a magnet on a fridge that has extra staying power! 

Back to School Activity: Positing Post-It Questions

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In our effort to bring you only the best and most innovative classroom practices, we recently went on a Pinterest searching spree for back to school and first day activities. We focused on interactive activities, and this activity from Miss Klohn's Classroom and Dandilions and Dragonflies was one of our favorites.

Interactive PDF: Anchor Charts in the 21st Century Classroom

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Wondering how to integrate anchor charts and traditional classroom visuals with tablets, classroom computers, and interactive whiteboards? We created an interactive PDF (only 8 pages long) that details ways to integrate anchor charts into the technology-equipped classroom. Here's a sample of the sections included:

Summer Break: Time for Professional Development

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We asked one of our favorite guest bloggers, Julia Cremin, to share her reflections as a teacher on summer break. This is the final post in her "Summer Break" series.

Download Now! Reader's Workshop Launching Unit

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 It's here! The Reader's Workshop, developed by VariQuest and The Curriculum Corner, is available for download.

This Reader's Workshop, designed for intermediate students in grades 4-6, emphasizes the use of anchor charts and individual student responsibility for choosing books, discussing texts, and effectively collaborating with other students in pairs and small groups. 

VariQuest Visual Learning Tools is Reader's Choice Award Winner!

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You like us, you really like us! Maybe we should work on a different acceptance speech... We are humbly honored to announce that VariQuest Visual Learning Tools and the VariQuest Perfecta 2400 wide format printing design system has been named a winner of the 2014-2015 eSchool News Readers' Choice Award! Here's part of the official August 1 press release:

4 Ways to Pair Anchor Charts with Interactive Whiteboards

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In digitally-equipped, interactive 21st century classrooms, reinforcement tools are still necessary. Tools like interactive whiteboards create a great, dynamic tool to use during lessons, but cannot reinforce key concepts on a daily basis. Visual reinforcements like anchor charts are necessary to classroom environment in order for students to continue learning once the board is turned off.
However, this decision does not need to be an either-or decision. Interactive white boards and tangible posters and manipulatives can complement each other--here's how teachers can incorporate both learning tools into their classroom:
  1. Teachers can use the interactive white board for a lesson, then transfer key points onto the anchor chart.  The chart becomes a visual
    reinforcement that the student can use throughout the lesson/unit. On day two of the lesson, the teacher can use the poster that was created on day one as the review or anticipatory set to begin the new lesson for the day. 
  2. Use the interactive whiteboard as a tool for quick notes for the student to reference in addition to the posters that have been made throughout the week.  Teacher can put the students into partners/groups and have the students create their own posters with the poster maker to share with the class after.  The whiteboard can be used as a reference for directions if needed.
  3. Students can also use the interactive whiteboard to make notes or write information on the posters.
  4. The teacher can also use the interactive whiteboard to teach a lesson with a hands on element. For example, the life cycle of the butterfly could be virtually shown on the whiteboard, then students can put together their own butterfly life cycle using anchor charts as references and cutouts to assemble and personalize. This creates a great visual for the students and a larger display of student work! Click on the image on the right for a downloadable poster.

Why are anchors & other "hard copy" visuals important?

Summer Break: Discover New Materials and Resources

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We asked one of our favorite guest bloggers, Julia Cremin, to share her reflections as a teacher on summer break. We will share the three posts as a "Summer Break" series.

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