Author Archives : carrberrycreations

Keeping Students Learning All Summer

 photo Summer slide_zpsv4rcg9nl.png

Preventing the summer slide is such a big issue  for teachers and schools. Personally I hate sitting down with parents at beginning of the year conferences and informing them that their child has a lower reading level at the start of the year than they had at the end of the previous school year.

When I was first asked about how teachers can keep kids learning all summer, I thought… adopt? After all, children spend their summers away from us, and out of our control unless they are our own. Thinking about it a bit more though, honestly the answer is to adopt, but not the children, adopt the parents. Adopting the parents means cultivating an excellent relationship with the parents of your students, and making yourself available to them at any time. How far you go with this depends on your personal comfort level. At the start of every school year I create a private blog for parents and I to communicate on, hand out my school email, and personal cell phone number to parents. I send postcard though the mail, make regular phone calls, and even do home visits. When the school year ends I still have parents checking in on our class blog, sending me texts from vacation, and email asking for how to help their child over the summer.

It is not too late though, to increase parent communication and prevent the summer slide. Check out my top 10 tips below which will all be on my classroom blog, but can be sent one in a newsletter at the end of the year. Read on

How to Hone a “Soft Skill” (& a GIVEAWAY – Read On)

This week the Sharing is Caring Elite Blogging Cooperative is blogging on this week’s topic “Incorporating Soft Skills Into the Classroom.”


If you haven’t heard the phrase “soft skills” (I had to look that one up) basically it means, how to you teach that stuff students aren’t assessed on in class. We used to call them social skills, manners, etc… Now it includes a bit more like how to handle a bully, and what to do in an emergency.

These soft skills may be the most important things you actually teacher students this year. More than how well they read, how well they can navigate various social situations (Sometimes referred to as emotional or social intelligence), predicts how successful students are in their future lives.

Want to read about social Intelligence? Check out these sites (Yes I know Forbes isn’t a research magazine – but employers read it and they are learning what to look for in an employee of the future):

Ok, So how do we teach soft skill in the classroom, when we have no time set specifically aside to do so?

In many schools (mine, my children’s, their grandmother’s to name a few) PBIS has become the norm. What it essentially amounts to is using loads of positive praise in the classroom daily to focus students in on what behaviors we want to teach. Schools tend to adopt school wide behavior incentives, such as praise tickets, used to purchase prizes in a school store, or admission to a fun event at the school. Teachers (or teaching teams) are often left to devise their own in class rewards and incentives. Read On

How to Destress Students on Test Day

Stress Chalk1

Stress’s impact on other life functions is one of the most researched psychological issues. It has been shown by researchers  by psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson as early as 1908 that too much stress can negatively impact performance in many ways including on tests. Many many studies have gone on to support their research. So, finding ways to keep kids calm(er) on test days is extremely important.

My son’s school started SBAC testing last week. He’s a struggling 4th grade perfectionist. His stress level has been very high, and we have 1 week to go. His teachers have given him 2 weeks off of homework, and bubble gum during the test taking time. When I asked my son how he felt about the test he put his thumb out to the side, thought about it for a second, and quickly turned it downward.

This got me to thinking about the strategies I have used over the years to destress students for test days. I have used several different strategies which I will share with you, and no one alone seems to do the trick. Every child is different, so what calms them is different too. It is important to try using multiple strategies for students to get the most impact from the effort. <<Read On>>