Engage and Organize from Day 1

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Great teaching starts on the first day. Right now, a little information on trends and classroom organization will help you improve your school year. So here, you’ll learn about some hot back to school trends and get some tips on using them in your classroom. Let’s get ready!

back to school like a pro

This blog post is sponsored by Staples. All content and opinions are my own.

1 – Emoji is Hot!

Emojis are everywhere. Walking through my local Staples, these cute faces are on pencil bags, boxes, backpacks and even charging cables.

Pro Classroom Tips

Writing. Some teachers are using emojis in their writing prompts. Students draw or are given an emoji. They write about a situation where that emoji would be appropriate.

Emojis are images that express emotion. They are very cool for back to school. Use them in classroom activities.

Emojis are images that express emotion. They are very cool for back to school. Use them in classroom activities.

Math. Some algebra teachers are using the emoji insert feature in Google Docs to replace the x or y in Algebra with an emoji. It helps kids understand the purpose of a variable.

Mood. Some teachers have kids draw or select their emoji as they come into class. This gives a quick attitude check with the students.

Figure out ways to bring trends “in” to your classroom. (See fidget spinner ideas below.) 
Staples has great limited time deals going on now. Plus, their 110% price match guarantee means if you find it less somewhere else within fourteen days, you can come back to Staples and they'll refund you the difference, plus take 10% off the price.

Staples has great limited time deals going on now. Plus, their 110% price match guarantee means if you find it less somewhere else within fourteen days, you can come back to Staples and they’ll refund you the difference, plus take 10% off the price.

2 – Shop Early

While Staples guarantees everyday low prices and has products in-stock all season long, shopping early means you get what you want. With all of the colors and choices, the “popular” colors can go first. (Or emojis as in the case of item 2 below!)

3 – Personalized Ways to Write and Create

back to school crayons

Unique ways to color and draw mean that every child can pick something that suits their hand size and writing style.

When many of us were kids, Crayons came in one style. Now, there are twist crayons and a wide variety. As a Mom of two children who struggle to write, I’m thankful for the new choices.

Pro Back to School Tips

Parents. To better understand your child’s needs, take him or her shopping with you. Let them pick out their supplies. They’ll usually take better care of them.

Teachers. As a teacher, pick out a variety of writing tools. Make them available so you can see what your students like. Some hands are better for larger sized writing tools. Others prefer smaller ones.

Teaching Venn Diagrams. Have students create Venn diagrams or graphic organizers to compare various writing tools. This helps them become familiar with the tools you have and comparing and contrasting things.

Learning is personal so creating should be too. Have an assortment of tools to spark creativity. 

4 – Customize Your Planning System

Customize your planning system. The Staples Arc Customizable planning system is a great start to making your own planner. (I’ve been using it for the last several years and it is featured in my Do What Matters productivity book.) 

This year, Staples has these cool stickers and colored project forms!

Customize your planning system using Post-it® Brand and Arc by Staples

Customize your planning system using Post-it® Brand and Arc by Staples

Pro Organizing Tips

Invest in a paper punch. Whatever type of planner you use, make sure you have a “punch” and some of the same sized paper so that you can easily add to the planner. The Staples Arc Punch works for me with standard sized paper.

Use sticky notes. Put your top three things to do at school each day on one colored note. Put your top three home items on another colored note. Then, when you transition between home and school, just change the order of the notes. You can even move important things from day to day.

5 – Motivate with Quotes

Use journals, notepads, and supplies with motivational quotes.

Use journals, notepads, and supplies with motivational quotes.

Send positive messages. Choose notepads, planners, and supplies with a positive message.

Pro Teacher or Parent Tip

Make your own quotes. Purchase sticker paper. Make your own quotes. Stick them on commonly used items for quick encouragement at a glance.

Choose wisely. We become what we think about most of the time. Choose positive messages that fit with your values.

6 – Get the Perfect Stylus for your Tablet

Sketchnoting and drawing on tablets are becoming very popular. Get a great stylus. (Staples has a Youth Stylus for students, available in-store only.)

Sketchnoting and drawing on tablets are becoming very popular. Get a great stylus. (Staples has a Youth Stylus for students, available in-store only.)

Whether you need an Apple pen or want to use one of the student styluses, Staples can get you ready to draw and sketch on your iPad, Surface, or another tablet device.

Pro Tip

Stylus ends are everywhere.  Some pens and pencils are now coming with a stylus on the end. If you want to always have a stylus handy, you might want to invest in one of these types of pens or pencils.

Check the box. Check to see the recommended tablet device for a stylus before you buy it.

Stock your maker space with a variety of tapes, coloring books, and art supplies.

Stock your maker space with a variety of tapes, coloring books, and art supplies.

7 – Stock Your Maker Space

Colored tape, paints, coloring books  and more. Stock your Maker Space with a variety of craft and artistic items.

MakerSpace Pro Tip

Tape. Duct or craft tape with patterns are so useful in a maker space. Not only can they be used to decorate things, but if you’re making robots, they can decorate and reinforce them. Buy five or six rolls of several types of patterns. Select complimentary colors so that students can mix and match.

Coloring books and mindfulness. Adults are enjoying the coloring pages as a relaxation technique. Students can do this as well. Staples has a wide variety of the Mancala color pages. Stock them for an activity students can do or even help them calm.

8 – Make Sure Your Home Computer Backup Is Working

Can you afford to replace your computer? How about all of the data on your computer? Fall is a great time to make sure your backup is working. If you need a backup, the options are easier to use than ever. Purchase a backup device for your home computer and take time to set it up.

Fall is a great time to buy a backup hard drive for your home computer. If you have one, now is the time to check to make sure it is working.

Fall is a great time to buy a backup hard drive for your home computer. If you have one, now is the time to check to make sure it is working.

 Home Backup Pro Tip

You need two hard disks for your home computer backup system.

Full backup. You should have a backup drive. This type of backup will make it so you can restore your computer with the click of a button. If you don’t want to have to take the time to re-set up your computer if it has issues, you’ll want to have a backup.

External file storage. Purchase a second hard drive to archive old files. If you make movies or take a lot of photos, organize them on an external hard drive if you’re not using them. At the beginning of the school year, try to have 20-35% of your hard drive space free so you won’t have to stop working to free up space.

9 – Fidget Spinners

Like emojis, fidget spinners are another hot item.

Fidget spinners are another hot trend in the classroom and with students. Check your school policies before buying them for your child to take them to school. Smart teachers will figure out how to use them in class.

Fidget spinners are another hot trend in the classroom and with students. Check your school policies before buying them for your child to take them to school. Smart teachers will figure out how to use them in class.

Pro Teacher Tip.

Math. For timed math tests, have students time themselves by spinning their fidget spinner. Let them try to finish before it stops spinning.

Science. Ask students to figure out why the fidget spinner spins.

10 – Label and Color Code Your Classroom

Print neat labels to be able to see items from a distance.

Printed labels and color codes for your classes and subjects will help workflow more easily in your classroom.

Printed labels and color codes for your classes and subjects will help workflow more easily in your classroom.

Think about the colors you use and make life easier by grouping tasks, subjects, or activities by color.

Organizing Pro Tips

Color Your Classes. Each class or subject should have a color. The time savings when I did this was amazing. I use the same color dry erase marker, folders, sticky notes – everything for one class is one color. Student notebooks even match the color code for the class.

Labeling. Think about the size of the surface before you print labels. Create and print one or two before typing all of the names of your students before you find they don’t fit. Get a child or student volunteer to help you label once you’ve decided how you’ll do it.

Visit www.staples.com/back-to-school  for more information and great deals!


Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) 

The post 10 Ways to Tackle Back to School Like a Pro appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!


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