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Teacher Report Card: A Fun Way to Grade the Teacher!

Teacher Report Card: A Fun Way to Grade the Teacher!

This Teacher Report Card is one of my favorite things to do with students during the last week of school! Students love grading the teacher, and it's always fun to read their responses. It's the perfect end-of-year activity to use during those last few days of school before summer break.

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Teacher Report Card: A Fun Way to Grade the Teacher!

I print this teacher report card front to back and fold it like a book. On the cover page, students write their teacher's name, school year, and grade. I always give them time to color and decorate it if they want to.

Teacher Report Card: A Fun Way to Grade the Teacher!

On the inside pages, students have the opportunity to tell the teacher what they liked most about core subject areas. They describe their favorite field trip memory, what they liked most about their teacher, and what they liked least about their teacher. Students also "rate the teacher" by checking the appropriate boxes.

Teacher Report Card: A Fun Way to Grade the Teacher!

On the back, a "comments section" is included for students to write a personal note to their teacher and give suggestions for next year. There is also a box where students can place an overall letter grade for their teacher.

Teacher Report Card: A Fun Way to Grade the Teacher!

It is always fun (and sometimes comical) to read their responses and get some feedback on how we are doing in the eyes of our students.

The Ultimate End-of-Year Teacher Checklist

Is the end of the year getting you down? I know...it's overwhelming. There's so much to do. From end of grade testing to finishing report cards to updating each individual student's permanent records - it leaves us drained every.single.day.

With over 16 years in the classroom, I've managed to come up with an end-of-year checklist to make life a little easier. This checklist includes a little bit of everything. If you're like me you're swamped with so much to do that you don't even want to think about next year. This checklist will help you keep your sanity and hopefully make the beginning of a new school year much easier!

One thing I always liked to do before packing up my classroom is to take a few pictures. I took pictures of my room arrangement, bulletin boards I might want to recreate, and bookshelves that housed my math manipulative, centers, supplies, etc. I would refer to the pictures to help me recreate my classroom style when I put my classroom back together again. This always made setting up my room the following year so much easier!

Tip: Before packing up, consider taking a few pictures of how your classroom looks.  Did you like a particular bulletin board or your room arrangement? If so, you might want to duplicate or recreate your classrooms style at the beginning of the next school year. Your pictures will come in handy!

After that, I would start the checklist with things I could do before students leave. Even young students can help clean and pack up the classroom, so get those little helpers busy! I always had a stack of unused worksheets that I sent home with students for the summer. They may or may not have completed them, but I took the chance that maybe they would work on those extra math review sheets or reading passages instead of just throwing them in the recycling bin.

Tip: Instead of recycling those piles of extra worksheets and printables try sending them home with students to complete over the summer. 

Next - clean, organize and purge.  Yes, I said PURGE! Get rid of those dried up Expo Markers.  Have students test the markers on the whiteboard and throw away any that doesn't work anymore. Toss those glue sticks that no longer have lids.

What happens to the lids of glue sticks anyway?!? Do they eat them? I'll never understand that phenomenon.

Clean out and organize filing cabinets, bins, baskets, and tubs. You don't want to come back to that mess next year. One thing I always do before leaving for the summer is clean up my inbox. Yep, delete those old emails and respond to any emails that you might have overlooked. Who wants to think about cleaning up school email over the summer, huh?

Tip: Respond, delete, and clean out school email before leaving for the summer.

Paperwork. Ah...the dreaded paperwork. It's not going anywhere, so set aside time where you can sit down quietly in your classroom - or at home - to finish up final grades, gather and organize important student data and documents, and update student records.

Tip: Be intentional with your time.  Set aside a time to finish up report cards, organize student documents, and update student records.

FREE End of Year Teacher Checklist

Take inventory! Custodians are famous for moving our things around over the summer. In the past, I've walked in my school over the summer and found my whole classroom sitting in the hall while custodians are hard at work cleaning my carpet and polishing the tile. My first thoughts are, "Are all my things going to get put back in my room?" Just in case they don't, organize and count textbooks, workbooks, manipulatives, supplies, classroom library baskets, etc. Label your desk, chair, bookshelves, filing cabinets, personal items, etc. Hopefully, by doing this your items will be returned even if they accidentally get placed in another teacher's classroom.

Tip: Label everything! Classroom items get moved around over the summer. Take a minute to label your desk, chair, bookshelves, filing cabinets, personal items, etc. 

Extend the life of your electronics by turning them off. This includes unplugging lamps, pencil sharpeners, speakers, computers, interactive whiteboards, laptops, iPads, Chromebooks, etc. Anything electronic should be turned off and shut down over the summer.  I'm sure the fire marshal would agree, too! I also like to cover up my computers and printers with sheets.  This keeps the dust off and ensures that I don't have to vacuum out dusty computers and printers when I return.

Tip: Turn off and shut down all electronics over the summer.

And last, take home any plants that require watering.  This also applies to any animals that require feeding! ;) Check the staff lounge and make sure you have gathered all your personal food containers from the fridge. No one wants to clean those out after the food has molded over the summer. Classrooms are typically left open over the summer so that custodial staff can clean. So, be sure to take any money or valuables stored in your desk home. Also, I know you will plan amazing new lessons and units over the summer. Don't forget to take your teacher planner and any curriculum materials you might need with you when you leave.

Tip: Take your teacher planner and curriculum materials home over the summer so you have what you need when you sit down to work on those amazing new lessons and units for your upcoming new students!

FREE End of Year Teacher Checklists
That highlights a small portion of the checklist, but there's so much more that you don't want to forget! Download your FREE End-of-Year Teacher Checklist here, and get started ending another amazing school year! I promise this will make starting a new school year a breeze!

Teacher Appreciation: A FREE LETTER to the Teacher

Celebrate teacher appreciation week and #thankateacher!

I made this printable for my daughter's teacher this week during Teacher Appreciation Week.

A Free Thank You Letter to a Teacher

I shared it on my Instagram and had so many people message me wanting a copy. So... here it is for all of you, too! Just click on the image below to download it.

Don't worry if Teacher Appreciation Week is over. You can still give this to a teacher anytime during the year to show your appreciation. It would also make a great end-of-school gift card or tag.

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A Free Thank You Letter to a Teacher

Writing Tall Tales in the Classroom: A Thanksgiving Writing Activity

Writing Tall Tales in the Classroom: A Thanksgiving Writing Mini-Unit

A Thanksgiving writing lesson on Tall Tales. The perfect addition to any November writing unit for teachers.
Tall Tales are so much fun to write! Student's creative writing skills come to life when they get the opportunity to stretch the truth because we all know children are full of humor and exaggeration! The best thing about tall tales is that they can be funny or silly. They are typically filled with hyperboles, similies, metaphors, and lots of descriptive vocabulary. Tall tales are always read or told as if they were true, even though the listener or reader knows that the story could never really happen - another reason children love writing and reading them!

Each year, during the month of November, I teach my 4th graders how to write Turkey Tall Tales.
This lesson is a lot of fun, and students love the end result! This mini-lesson is the perfect addition to any creative writing unit but is intended to be used as a Thanksgiving writing activity.

I start by introducing students to tall tales. I also read Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan. Students are usually familiar with these two books. You can also search YouTube to find animated tall tales for students. There are tons to choose from! After reading tall tales and watching a few animated YouTube stories, we discuss the characteristics of tall tales. To get started, I use Turkey Tall Tales - a writing mini-lesson on tall tales found here in my store.

Steps to Introducing Tall Tales: What are Tall Tales?

This mini-lesson comes with a two-page introduction to tall tales and their characteristics. Once you've familiarized students with tall tales, they can choose from 4 different story starters and you can distribute the planning sheets for students to start planning their turkey tall tales.

Writing: planning a Tall Tale using Thanksgiving Story Starters

On the planning sheet, students look at the prompt they have chosen and circle the matching turkey picture. This is what their main character looks like. After students have planned their story, they finish the story starter sheet by writing their tall tale. As students finish, I have them bring me their writing for us to edit together. After they make any needed corrections I give them their header and footer to color.

Creating a header and footer for Tall Tales

Distribute the header and footer that matches the turkey on their story starter and planning sheets.

At this point, students are ready to type their tall tale. This mini-lesson includes a direction page for students to use while typing their writing. All directions are aligned to Microsoft Word, but you could easily use Google Docs as well.

How to Type Tall Tales

Directions are given for how to format the margins and columns of their tall tale. Students will need to change their margins to narrow and set their document to print as three columns.

Formatting margins and columns of Tall Tales

The last step on the direction sheet is to print, cut apart columns, trim edges to the same width, and tape together (adding their header and footer). This makes one TALL tale!

How to Print L-O-N-G Tall Tales

Writing Tall Tales: A Thanksgiving Mini-Unit

Students love their finished product and reading all the other tall tales that students have written. It also makes an excellent November bulletin board or classroom display. :)

16 Time-Saving PowerPoint Secrets for Creating Printables: Part 2

This blog post is Part 2 of 16 Time-Saving PowerPoint Secrets for Creating Printables

Welcome back! If you haven't read Part 1 of my 16 Time-Saving PowerPoint Secrets for Creating Printables click here.

If you're back for more of my PPT tips and tricks get your pen and paper ready, because I have so much more to share with you! I also have a bonus secret at the end so be sure to read all the way through (even if you already know all these secrets). :)

Formatting the Background in PowerPoint

My first time-saving secret is all about formatting your background. When creating printables or (if you're a TpT seller) product covers you sometimes want a background image. We often refer to these images as digital background paper.

There are two ways to add a background image in PowerPoint.

#1 - You could simply click on the Insert tab > Pictures > Choose your image > and click Insert. This would place the image on the page and you could drag the corners and sides to fill the background space. However, two things are going to take place when you do this.

  1. You're going to distort the image.
  2. The image is going to be easily moved around on the page.

The goal here is to fill the background with the image. You don't want the image to look distorted and you're going to get frustrated if you're constantly moving it around while adding other objects to the page.

Inserting an Image as a Picture in PowerPoint

#2 - You could format the background to add digital papers to your PowerPoint slides. This is the best way to add a background to your printables because...

  1. Your image will automatically fill the space and not be distorted due to stretching.
  2. Your image will not move around on the page.

Formatting the Background in PowerPoint

The example above shows you how to format your background by clicking on the Design tab > Format Background > Picture or texture fill > File > Search for image > Click Insert.

You can also choose to check the box "Tile picture as texture". I always check this box just to see if the image would look better tiled, but I mostly use it for textured backgrounds similar to what I used in the example above.

Formatting your background will make your digital paper look much better! Your images will not be distorted and you won't get frustrated when you accidently move the background around on the page.

Using the change picture tool in PowerPoint

The Change Picture tool is often useful when you are trying to find the "perfect" image or piece of clip art to use on your page. I find myself using this option a lot - especially when I want to try out different images to see which one looks or fits the best. I could always delete the image and insert a different one. However, if I've resized the image or clip art to fit a particular space, the Change Picture tool will replace the image with another one while keeping the image size close to the same. 

When you click on an image in PowerPoint, the Picture Tools in the Format Tab automatically open in your ribbon at the top of the screen. 

How to use the Change Picture Tool in PowerPoint

Click on the image you want to change > Click on Change Picture > Click on from a file > Search for a different image to replace the one you already have on the page > Click on Insert.

Change & Replace Images in PowerPoint

This is a quick and easy way to change an image on the page. 

Using the selection pane to save time in PowerPoint

This time-saving secret will come in handy when you are working with several pieces of clip art or text boxes on one page. Sometimes I like to use several different objects (clip art, page borders, text boxes, shapes, etc.) when I'm building printables. When you put all these different objects on one page you end up layering them. I'll discuss how to layer objects in the next tip, but for now, we are going to focus on "naming" them.

When you use the selection pane you can easily select objects, change their order, or change their visibility. As you add objects to a page it's a good idea to name them. This makes finding an object much easier when you want to move, replace, or delete it.

I've used my monthly newsletter templates in the example below. This page has a ton of images, text boxes, shapes, etc. They are also layered so that certain objects are in front or behind other objects. As I placed these objects on the page, I gave each one a name in the selection pane on the right.

To access the selection pane select an image > click on (Picture Tools) Format Tab > Selection Pane

How to use the selection pane in PowerPoint

To name an object simply double-click it's original name it was given when inserted. This will automatically show up in the selection pane. For example: when I inserted the tractor clip art PowerPoint named it "Picture 1". I double-clicked on this wording in the selection pane and renamed it "Tractor". I also inserted three pumpkins on the page. As I inserted them, I named them "Pumpkin 1", "Pumpkin 2", and "Pumpkin 3".

Now, why did I do this? As you can see in the example above I have many different objects in my October newsletter. This requires lots of layering and alignment to get them in the right places. There is a hay bale behind the tractor and stalks of wheat behind the wagon and header. If I wanted to move either of these objects I would have to move everything in front of it to get to them. Instead of messing up my design I could simply click on the name of the object in the Selection Pane and from here I could reorder, move, delete, or replace the object. This keeps my original design in place and doesn't move any other object on the page - definitely a huge time-saver! 

Layering and Arranging Objects in PowerPoint

In the last time-saving secret, we talked about "naming" objects using the Selection Pane, and I briefly mentioned how helpful this tool is when "layering" objects. In PowerPoint, you can layer objects by bringing them to the front, sending them to the back, or you can slightly nudge an object forward or backward.

Let's look at my October newsletter template again. I have a lot of graphics layered in my header. The bundle of wheat was originally behind the wagon, basket of apples, and the October title. I could not click on the wheat image to move it because it was behind other objects. I could have moved the wagon and baskets of apples to get to it, but I had those images where I wanted them, and I didn't want to spend time arranging them all again.

I had previously named each image as I inserted them on the page, so I could use the Selection Pane to select the wheat and bring it to the front. From here, I could move it around on the page and reorder the object without moving any of the other graphics.

How to Layer and Arrange Objects in PowerPoint

If you only have a few objects on the page you don't necessicerly have to use the Selection Pane. You could click on the object you want to move and arrange it either backwards or forwards. (see example below)

Example of layered objects in PowerPoint
The arrange feature comes in handy when you are working with many different objects or if you are trying to create a scene.

Grouping Objects Together in PowerPoint

PowerPoint enables you to group objects on your slides which can be a big time-saver! This feature is particularly useful when it comes to creating complex pictures because it allows you to work on one part of the picture, group it, and then work on the next part of the picture without moving the objects you've grouped together. Pictures, shapes, clip art, and text boxes can all be grouped together.

Let's take a look at my Speller's Choice Menus. I have a lot of graphics and text boxes on one slide. I placed the cascading flowers where I wanted them, but I didn't want to accidentally move one of them while I continued to work on the design of the page. I selected all of the flowers > clicked on Arrange > clicked on Group. This grouped all the flowers into one object.

How to group objects together in PowerPoint

You can also select the objects to group together and right click over them to choose Group > Group. Or, you may decide that you want to ungroup objects so that you can work on your design. You can also regroup it all back together again. This will save you time trying to fix it back if you accidently move an object while working on another area of the slide.

How to group and ungroup objects in PowerPoint

Objects grouped together in PowerPoint will also stay together if they are moved or resized. This is much quicker and easier than selecting all of the objects each time you want to move them (especially when you have objects layered over each other like I do in the example above).

Reusing Slides in PowerPoint

This is one of my favorite time-saving secrets! I use it A LOT! Reusing slides is one of the quickest ways to insert a slide you've previously created into another document. You could always open up both documents and cut and paste from there, but there is an easier way!

One way I reuse slides is by adding my thank you and terms of use page to a product I've created. To do this go to the Home tab > New Slide > Reuse Slides

Steps to Reusing Slides in PowerPoint

The Reuse Slides feature will open on the right side. From here, you can browse to find the file you are looking for.

Reusing Slides in PowerPoint

How to search and find slides to reuse in PowerPoint

My thank you/terms of use page has a lot of parts and formatting added to it. I could always "select all" on the page and copy/paste it onto a slide in my Main Idea product, but it's SO much easier to reuse this slide.

Example of reusing slides in PowerPoint

After you select the document you want to use, all of the slides in the document will open. Before you select a slide to reuse make sure the "Keep source formatting" box is checked. This will ensure that all formatting will be copied over when you insert this slide. Choose the slide you want and click on it.

In this example, I'm choosing my Thank You/Terms of Use page. I checked the box beside "Keep source formatting" and click on Slide 1.

This inserts the slide as a new page and an exact copy is now in my new document. I could change anything on the slide if I needed to and it would not change the original document. So easy!
How to insert and reuse slides in PowerPoint

Duplicating Slides in PowerPoint

Duplicating slides is another feature similar to Reusing slides, however, this feature is will allow you duplicate and reuse slides within the same document. I often spend a lot of time formatting a page with background, clip art, and text. To save time, I'll duplicate the slide so that I don't have to reformat it again. I always do this when I'm making task cards.

When I'm creating task cards, I want to make sure the pages are exactly the same. To get an exact copy I right click on the slide shown in the slide preview on the left. You can also click on the Home Tab > New Slide > Duplicate Selected Slide. I just find it quicker and easier to right click on the slide I want to duplicate.

How to duplicate slides in PowerPoint

Now, I have an exact copy of the first slide, and I don't have to recreate the page by adding all the images and text boxes again.

Example of duplicating slides in PowerPoint

Saving Slides as Images in PowerPoint
In PowerPoint, you can save each slide as an image. In Part 1 of this series I showed you how to change the export resolution of your slides when you save them as an image. If you missed that time-saving secret you can find it here

Saving a slide as an image is super easy! There may be times when you want to save only one slide as an image or you may want to save multiple slides as images.

To begin saving a slide as an image click on File > Save As > Choose Folder (You may need to browse for the folder you want to save to if it isn't listed in the most recent folders on the right.)

How to save slides as images in PowerPoint

From here, you will need to click on the arrow beside "Save as type". You want to change the format to either JPEG or PNG. I recommend saving as a PNG as this will produce a better quality image.

Steps to saving slides as images in PowerPoint

Once you click on "Save" a box will pop up asking you which slide you want to export. You can choose to export "All Slides" as images or "Just This One".

How to Save Slides as Images in PowerPoint

In the example above, I have chosen to save all slides as images, and PowerPoint placed them all in one folder. I also chose to save just my cover slide as an image, and PowerPoint place that image in the folder I had selected. 

Using Line Spacing Options in PowerPoint

Okay, time for a confession! I added this bonus time-saving secret because I completely forgot about it until I was writing Part 1 of these time-save PowerPoint secrets. I realized that I change my line spacing ALL.THE.TIME! I just do it without thinking. Honestly, I didn't even think about it being a time-saving trick until I already had these blog posts planned out. So... here's the secret to line spacing!

In PowerPoint, there's an option to make your line spacing between text tighter or you can widen it out. 

Steps to Using Line Spacing Options in PowerPoint

To format line spacing, select the text you want to change. Under the Home tab in the Paragraph section you'll find an icon for changing the spacing between lines. (see example above) From here, you can choose one of the options listed to widen the space between your lines, or you can choose "Line Spacing Options" to customize the spacing between your lines.

Changing Your Line Spacing in PowerPoint

I usually use the line spacing options to decrease the space between my lines. I use this when my wording doesn't fit within a certain space. I almost always change the line spacing to Multiple > 0.8. This usually gives me a perfect fit, but there are times that I have to tweak it just a little (depending on the font I'm using).

How to change your line spacing options in PowerPoint

There ya go... 16 Time-Saving PowerPoint Secrets for Creating Printables! Whew! Did you get all of that? Don't forget to check out Part 1 of this mini-series to learn more PowerPoint time-saving tips and tricks.

Hopefully, this helped you learn a few secrets about PowerPoint that you didn't already know as well as give you a few ways to save some work time. Do you have any PowerPoint secrets that I didn't list here? I'd love to know about them!