Archive for the ‘Reflection’ category

Free Online Teaching Activities

July 25, 2020


So many teachers, instructors, and professors will find themselves teaching online during this pandemic.  Few are given any strategies or activities for engaging students online. Building a community of learners is central to student learning. As technology improves online learning platforms, it is still a challenge to build community among students.

Surviving to Thriving LjL would like to share a new product: Teaching in the New Normal: Teaching Strategies for the Online Classroom. It includes eight Getting to Know You activities and five Student Reflection activities. The platform you use determines how you might share these activities with your students and among your students.

If you have an account with Teachers Pay Teachers, go to our store, Surviving to Thriving LjL. It’s free! If you do not have an account with Teachers Pay Teachers, email us at and we will gladly email you a free copy.

Good luck to all of you and stay safe and healthy.


F is for Formative Assessment

May 12, 2017

We often focus only on what we do not know and perhaps it might be beneficial to also know what we do know. We developed two products to facilitate formative assessment by creating fun and fast exit slips and fast formative assessments. These two products are grounded in our own practice as well as research.

Exit Slips and Tickets Out are fast formative assessments that you can use daily to see how you and your students are doing. The novelty of these exit slips will catch your students’ attention. They will also give you ideas for creating your own. This product includes:

  • One-Minute Write
  • Muddiest Point
  • Ticket Out
  • Exit Slip
  • Admit Slip
  • One Thing I Learned Today
  • Halftime Report Basketball and Football Themed

Fast Formative Assessment Strategies: Checking for Understanding is a packet of mini-assessments ideal for closing a lesson or unit for grades 6-12. These mini-assessments get students focused on showing what they have learned in clever and engaging ways. This product includes:

  • Stick it With 6
  • Hey Granny Did you Know?
  • Resume of a Leader/Portrait of a Character
  • Scene Rewind
  • A Poetic Moment
  • Fact Checker Quick Check

SALE 20% off May 14-15 Exit Slips and Quick Formative Assessment Strategies

C is for Colleagues

May 9, 2017

C is for colleagues, those persons with whom we share our professional and personal lives. I have had two experiences working with colleagues that almost seem like Camelot. At Burlington High School I worked with Carl, Patti, and Judy. I learned more about my own teaching from Carl and Patti than any other colleague—we teamed taught, experimented with block scheduling, and established site-based management. Judy was my life-saver when I had to call in sick because one of my kids was sick. But, more than that she and I shared our ideas about how high school English should be taught. Judy was innovative and supported my own innovation—gave me courage to go ahead and try it.

At Cadinal Stritch University, I worked with Linda and Jennifer, among others, to develop a Masters of Arts in Teaching program, designed for people who had a non-teaching degree who wanted to teach. I’m very proud of the teachers we turned out and to this day, those teachers are making a difference for kids. Linda, Jennifer, and I published two books together on classroom management, one for elementary and one for high school. We presented together at national conferences and area school districts—what fun! Today we are partners in Surviving to Thriving LjL and continue to create teacher materials that engage kids and are easy to implement for teachers.

When we presented, we always had give-aways which included bookmarks with inspirational quotes for teachers. So, we decided to offer those bookmarks to teachers free of charge. This product includes 16 reproducible bookmarks with directions for 7 Ways to Use Bookmarks with your colleagues. Each bookmark has a graphic and teacher quote. As you think about your own colleagues, think about how much you appreciate them and their role in your professional life.

16 Free Bookmarks

We Love Bookmarks!

June 14, 2016

We love bookmarks. Students love bookmarks.  And so, in many of our products, we include bookmarks.  We even offerIvan Bookmarks free bookmarks to teachers on Teachers Pay Teachers.

7 Ways to Use Bookmarks

  1. Form pairs, trios, and/or quads. Distribute the number of different bookmarks equal to the number of pairs, trios, or quads you want to form. For example, to form quads, reproduce four copies of each individual bookmark. Distribute bookmarks and direct students to form a group of four by finding three other students who have the same bookmark they have.
  2. Use as a writing prompt. Distribute bookmarks. Direct students to read and ponder the quotes. Next, ask students to write a short reflection on what the quotes means to them. Invite students to share their reflections with an elbow partner.
  3. Investigate the speaker. Use the bookmarks to form student trios. Direct trios to read and ponder the quotes. Ask trios to answer the following questions: What kind of person would say this? To whom would this person address this quote? What kind of situation would be appropriate for this quote? Invite trios to share their quotes and their responses to the questions.
  4. Review the text. After students have read the novel, story, or play, distribute a variety of bookmark quotes. Direct students to read their quotes and jot down the incident in the text connected to that quote. Next, direct students to find another student who had the same bookmark quote and compare responses.
  5. Choose a favorite. On a table, lay out bookmark quotes and as students enter the classroom, invite them to choose a favorite bookmark quote. Ask students to jot down a few notes on the back of the bookmark quote what this quote means to them. Invite students to share their responses. Consider this activity for a morning meeting or talking circle.
  6. Make your own bookmark. Distribute blank bookmarks and direct students to write a favorite quote from a text you are currently studying in class. In addition to the quote, ask students to include a graphic or illustration that connects to the quote they chose. Invite students to share their quotes with the class. Consider collecting the bookmark quotes and displaying them on a bulletin board in your classroom.
  7. Use as a bookmark

We hope you love our bookmarks!bookmark this

Free bookmarks for The One and Only Ivan

Free friendship bookmarks

Free bookmarks for Esperanza Rising

End of the School Year Activities

May 23, 2013

Reflection in the context of learning is a generic term for those intellectual and affective activities in which individuals engage to explore their experiences in order to lead to new understandings and appreciation.  It may take place in isolation or in association with others.  David Boud, Rosemary Keogh, and David Walker


Once again it is the time of the year that teachers are counting days, lamenting and celebrating the end of the school year while excitedly planning for next year.  End-of-the-year reflective activities wrap up the current school year and provide students an opportunity to reflect on their classroom experiences.  Student reflections solidify what students thought was important about their classes, whether that be what they learned, how they felt, or what they might do differently in the future.  These student responses also give teachers valuable information about their teaching and what they should keep doing and what they might consider not doing.  The activities listed below are just a sampling of reflective activities that have worked for us. Please share your end-of-the-year reflective activities that have worked for you and your students.

A Few Reflective Activities for the End-of-the-School Year

Reflective Essay

Write an essay about what you learned this year or semester in this class?  Not just the facts, but what did you learn that you can apply to your own life or that was important to you.  No limit or page requirement, just an essay.

Reflective Collage/Wordle

Create a collage or Wordle that reflects what you learned this year or semester in this class?  Not just the facts, but what did you learn that you can apply to your own life or that was important to you.

3-2-1 Contact

List 3 things you learned this year.

List 2 things you will do over the summer to become even a better student and learner.

List 1 thing you will try that you have never done before.

Contact:  Choose one activity you enjoy doing and practice it.  Become a pro!

Four Corners

Corner Question #1:  What was the most fun you had in this class?

Corner Question #2:  What was the most important thing you learned in this class?

Corner Question #3:  What would you tell someone who will be in this class next year about this class?

Corner Question #4:  What was your favorite activity in this class?

Use Post-Its or invite students to write comments on poster paper.  Invite students to visit each corner and write a response to the prompt.  After students have visited all corners, share responses.

Letters to Those Who Will Follow

Direct students to write letters to the students who will be in their class next semester or school year.  Provide a variety of stationary, including colored paper and different size envelopes.  Good opportunity to remind students how to address an envelope.  Great way to start the new school year or semester.

Spring Check-Out

Copy these questions on a half-sheet, add a spring graphic, and invite students to respond to each of these prompts:

  • One thing that really blooms in this class is…
  • One thing I might weed out in this class is…
  • One thing that would make my learning blossom is…

Kindness is Catching

If you keep scraps of colored paper, this is a great use for them.  Give students oddly shaped pieces of colored paper and ask them to write down a kindness someone showed them during the past year and how that kindness positively impacted them.  Create a bulletin board by displaying all the kindnesses.

Spring Snowball Fight

Give each student a piece of white paper.  Ask students to list the three most important things they learned this year/semester in this class.  Direct students to crumple the paper and on your signal, throw that “snowball” into the air.  Next, direct students to pick up a snowball, unwrinkled it, and read it to the class.  You might want to shovel up these snowballs for further reflection.

Something else to consider is to give students a project for the summer like our Summer Reading and Writing Journal which includes teacher guidelines, parent letter, resources for reading lists, bookmarks, 38-page student reading and writing journal and much more.  Ideal to give intermediate students and their families to sustain and promote reading and writing skills over the summer.


Summer Reading and Writing Journal

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