Must Have Digital Resources to Use All Year Long

digital resources for elementary students

Last year at this time, the last thing on my mind was digital resources. I love using Google Classroom™ and technology in my classroom, but creating an endless supply of digital resources to cover all of content objectives that needed to be taught was just not on my radar.

This year, however, digital resources are a must!

Whether you are teaching in the classroom with social distancing, remotely, or using a hybrid approach, students will need to be able to learn through the use of digital resources. This year, it is a focus.

Being consistent with instruction and expectations is key to helping students shift from in-school learning to at-home remote learning and anything in between!

That means that the digital resources you use should be engaging, interactive, easy to use, and work for multiple standards.

Here are a few of my favorite digital resources that can be used all year long and help students to continue to learn seamlessly as they shift between different structures and ways of learning.

Reading Tasks for ANY Book

Must Have Digital Resources to Use All Year Long

These short, quick, and easy to use reading check-ins will keep your students on track and accountable as they read ANY book. These are perfect to use as formal or informal assessments weekly, monthly, or even daily, to show growth all year long. I love that these can be used with any book and my students love that it keeps them focused as they read.

I also love this digital reading strategy practice activity pack. They keep the consistency going as they align with the reading strategy expectations that we use in class during reading workshop. Since there are anchor charts included they help students apply what we do in class to reading any time, anywhere, with any book! Grab free digital reading activities with the link at the bottom of this post.

Writing Choice Boards

digital writing resources for students

These Tic Tac Write choice boards are a great way to have students meet both reading and writing standards at the same time! Yes, at the same time. These response to literature questions hit narrative, opinion, and persuasive writing standards as students read ANY fiction or nonfiction book. Plus, it is a fun twist on choice boards since these require students to respond to any three prompts in a row, allowing students to choose, but still hit all the standards needed!

I also love to use monthly seasonal choice boards to help students master narrative, opinion, and expository writing. I love bringing the seasons into the classroom and my students love to respond to these seasonal prompts. Plus this set includes modeled writing so when they are away from the classroom, they can refer to the included anchor charts and modeled writing as a refresher of everything they learned during writing workshop.

Math Problem Solving

Must Have Digital Resources to Use All Year Long

These interactive mathematical problems reinforce students' math problem solving, reading, writing, and debating skills. Students also use their error analysis skills to solve a problem to see if they agree or disagree with the solution presented to them. My students love the paper version of these problems, so it was natural to move them to digital Google Slides™.

With interactive parts and spaces for students to defend and explain their mathematical thinking, these are perfect for all year long! Bonus they align to every standard for grades 2, 3, 4, and 5Grab a free digital sample of these activities for grades 3, 4, and 5 with the links at the bottom of this post.

Classroom Community Building 

Must Have Digital Resources to Use All Year Long

Whether you are in the classroom or not, building a close-knit classroom community is a must, and such an important way to start the year. Getting to know you activities and community building read alouds are a great way to get the year started with an emphasis on community.

These digital monthly letter writing activities are a great way to kick off your classroom community at the beginning of the year and maintain it all year long. To build ongoing classroom community students write positive and uplifting friendly letters to other students each month. this activity is a fun way to build student self-esteem and classroom community at the same time. Added bonus: students practice communication, writing, and interpersonal skills at the same time!

No matter what your school year looks like, make sure that you are engaging students with interactive digital resources that are easy to use. That way if you need to shift into a new learning format, your students can seamlessly continue to learn at any point during the year.

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Grab these FREE digital activities and try them out!

Must Have Digital Resources to Use All Year Long

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    10 Best Mentor Texts to Use for Reading and Writing Lessons

    upper elementary mentor texts

    If there is one teaching aide that I cannot live without it would be picture books.

    I lean on picture books often in my classroom. I love to read picture books to help me teach reading and writing strategies, engage students in social-emotional learning lessons, celebrate holidays and seasons, get students critically thinking about math topics and strategies, build classroom community, bring diversity to my classroom, and so much more!

    When faced with a tricky classroom situation, new concept, lesson, or objective I have been known to say, "There's a picture book for that." See what I mean?

    10 Best Mentor Texts to Use for Reading and Writing Lessons

    The only problem I have faced when it comes to sharing my favorite picture books with my students is time. There is never enough time to read all the books!

    To make the most of the time that I do have, I like to use one book many ways.  

    By doing this, I am able to make the most of the time that I have for my mini-lessons and the time that I have with my students, even during reading and writing conferences.

    Using previously read picture books allows students to focus on the skill or objective I am focusing on in that moment. That means that students do not have to worry about taking in the whole story and comprehending it as a cold read. They are already all warmed up to the book we are revisiting and can focus on the mini-lesson at hand.

    This is why I highly recommend using previously read picture books in your classroom again and again.

    These amazing ten picture books will become your new favorite mentor texts since you can use them again and again for teaching BOTH reading strategies and writing strategies. One read, many revisits, so much learning! #teacherwin

    Be sure to grab a free printable guide to these books and lesson topics that they align with at the bottom of this post.

    10 Best Mentor Texts to Use for Reading and Writing Lessons

    1. Owl Moon

    Owl Moon, written by Jane Yolen is a quick read told by a young child narrator. It tells the story of a night of owling wit their dad.

    Reading Lens:

    • Understanding character feelings and traits
    • Making predictions
    • Summarizing short texts

    Writing Lens:

    • Writing small moments
    • Writing personal narratives
    • Using figurative language and onomatopoeia 

    10 Best Mentor Texts to Use for Reading and Writing Lessons

    2. Knots on a Counting Rope

    Knots on a Counting Rope written by Bill Martin Jr tells the story of an intimate talk between a Native American boy and his grandfather. With a surprise ending, your kids will want to revisit this tale over and over again.

    Reading Lens:

    • Making predictions
    • Asking questions as a reader
    • Making inferences

    Writing Lens:

    • Personal Narrative Writing
    • Building Suspense
    • Strong Endings

    10 Best Mentor Texts to Use for Reading and Writing Lessons

    3.  The Relatives Came

    The Relatives Came written by Cynthia Rylant tells the story about a large extended family getting together during the summer and how they spend their days.

    Reading Lens:

    • Making Personal Connections
    • Visualizing (share the story without sharing illustrations)
    • Summarizing short text

    Writing Lens:

    • Personal Narrative Writing
    • Telling a story over time
    • Memoir Writing 

    10 Best Mentor Texts to Use for Reading and Writing Lessons

    4. The Curious Garden

    The Curious Garden written by Peter Brown is an engaging read about a young curious boy determined to bring his city back to life.

    Reading Lens:

    • Making Predictions
    • Visualizing 
    • How the setting effects a story

    Writing Lens:

    • Strong Character Development
    • Using Varied Word Choice
    • Extended Endings

    the raft read aloud

    5. The Raft

    The Raft written by Jim LaMarche is about a young boy forced to spend the summer with his Grandmother. The summer ends up being much better than he anticipated.

    Reading Lens:

    • How Characters Change
    • Making Inferences
    • Symbolism

    Writing Lens:

    • Using dialogue in writing
    • How secondary characters support main characters
    • Using varied word choice

    10 Best Mentor Texts to Use for Reading and Writing Lessons

    6. Fly Away Home

    Fly Away Home written by Eve Bunting tells a powerful story about a homeless family and their struggles as they live in an airport.

    Reading Lens:

    • Symbolism
    • Character Feelings
    • Asking questions as a reader

    Writing Lens:

    • Writing beginnings that hook the reader
    • Writing events with specific details
    • Writing with varied sentence structure and length.

    10 Best Mentor Texts to Use for Reading and Writing Lessons

    7. Herbert The True Story of a Brave Sea Dog

    Herbert the True Story of a Brave Sea Dog written by Robyn Belton will become your favorite mentor text for nonfiction and informational reading and writing units. This book follows the true story who was lost at sea but eventually recovered alive.

    Reading Lens:

    • Nonfiction Narratives
    • Character Development and feelings
    • Summarizing Nonfiction 

    Writing Lens:

    • Nonfiction Narratives
    • Figurative Language
    • Writing using the appropriate amount of dialogue

    how to read a book

    8. How to Read a Book

    How to Read a Book written by Kwame Alexander is a must read during the first few weeks of school. It tells the reader how to find the perfect spot to read and how to enjoy a good book.

    Reading Lens:

    • Finding a spot to read
    • Real VS Fake Reading
    • Understanding Figurative Language

    Writing Lens:

    • Procedural Writing 
    • Using Figurative Language
    • Using Illustrations to tell a story

    10 Best Mentor Texts to Use for Reading and Writing Lessons

    9. Dear Mrs. LaRue

    Dear Mrs. LaRue written by Mark Teague is a story told through letters written by a dog named Ike. Ike feels he was wrongly convicted of a crime and is telling his side of the story through letters.

    Reading Lens:

    • Reading different formats of texts (letter writing correspondence)
    • Using context clues to understand new words
    • Point of view or perspective lessons

    Writing Lens:

    • Letter Writing Format
    • Cliffhanger endings
    • Perspective writing

    10 Best Mentor Texts to Use for Reading and Writing Lessons

    10. The Stranger

    The Stranger written by my favorite author Chris Van Allsburg follows the events that happen after a stranger comes to town.

    Reading Lens:

    • Making Inferences
    • Asking Questions as a reader
    • Making Predictions

    Writing Lens:

    • Strong beginnings
    • Telling a narrative over time
    • Author's purpose

    When it comes to using picture books in your classroom re-purpose previously read picture books. Not only will you save time but you will find that students develop a deeper understanding of the books that are revisited throughout the year for different objectives and most importantly to help your students love reading!

    reading mentor texts upper elementary

    You might be interested in reading:

    Check out my favorite picture book companion sets HERE

    Like this one focused on A Bad Case of the Stripes

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    10 Best Mentor Texts to Use for Reading and Writing Lessons

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    Back to School Math Activities to Get to Know Your Mathematicians

    back to school math ideas

    Most back to school getting to know you activities revolve around student interests and hobbies, their families and cultures, and what books they read over the summer. While those activities are a great way to know all about your new bunch of students, make sure you set time aside to get to know your new batch of students as mathematicians.

    The math activities that I complete with my students during the first week of school are specifically designed to help me get to know my students as mathematicians. This is a term that I use with my students all year long. Just like I call students readers and writers during reading and writing workshop, I call them mathematicians during math. This sets the tone that all students are mathematicians and that during math time we work hard as mathematicians.

    The following back to school math activities are a great way to get students knee deep in math activities and critical thinking right from day one. Not only will your students begin the year already loving all things math, but you will gain valuable insight into how your students feel about math, face challenging problem solving tasks, and work and discuss mathematics with their peers.

    These activities will take you through the first week of school and longer if you choose to go more in depth with each lesson idea. Grab FREE math problem solving activities and other math goodies at the bottom of this post.

    Let's Talk Math

    back to school math discussion starters

    What better way to get to know your new students' thoughts and feelings about math than by talking about all things math! I love to use math discussion starter cards to pose questions about math to get my kids talking about their math pasts, how they feel about problem solving, and working with partners during math class. The responses that students share offer valuable information about them as math students.

    Following a class discussion on math, I have students work independently to complete a math inventory. This provides students with the chance to let me know how they feel about math in a private setting. I collect these and keep them in my files. I love to repeat this activity midyear to see if their thought about math have changed.

    Once we have finished up discussing math and the inventories, I have students complete attainable math goals that they would like to achieve. I do use the SMART goal setting method which I have found to be a great way to help students set goals, meet them, and then set new goals again.

    We are Mathematicians

    math inventory for back to school

    Get your students use to hearing you refer to them as mathematicians with this simple, yet super engaging activity. To get started, create an anchor chart together with your students about what good mathematicians do. Encourage students to share strategies and tools that are needed when solving math problems. Showcase your anchor chart in your classroom and make copies of your list for students to keep in their math notebooks or folders.

    Once your list is created, have students create a colorful illustration of themselves as mathematicians. Where would they be working? What tools would they use? Would they be alone? Have your students label their illustrations to show all the things that they are using.

    I especially love this activity because the work that students complete look adorable hanging up on a bulletin board or on the classroom door! They are always a big hit for Meet the Teacher Night.

    Read a Math Picture Book (or two)

    back to school math picture book activities

    Every day is perfect to read a book, but those first two weeks of school are often filled with amazing picture books! Why not take the time to read some amazing math centered picture books to engage students in meaningful discourse about problem solving, persevering, and making mistakes. Here are three math picture books that I make sure to read during the first few weeks of school.

    Get Kids Talking About Math

    The best way to get kids to talk about math in meaningful ways and engage in rich discourse about the problems that they solve is by teaching them!

    I love displaying accountability math talk stems like these to practice kids in meaningful math discourse! It develops a great habit and encourages the students to keep the conversation going. I display them on my math bulletin board and give each student their own list to keep in their math notebooks. This makes a big difference and positively impacts the kids' ability to engage in rich math dialogue.

    Growth Mindset

    growth mindset in the math classroom

    If you teach math, you cannot start the school year without diving into the concept of growth mindset with your students. I love displaying growth mindset quotes and alphabet charts in my classroom and using our morning meeting time to discuss the concept of growth mindset to encourage students to persevere and show grit especially when faced with challenging math activities.

    But over the years, I have found that much more is needed than just hanging up a positive quote.

    By teaching formal lessons, reading picture books, and watching videos about growth mindset students will understand the concept of growth mindset much better and quickly begin to put some of the growth mindset strategies that I have taught them into play. That is why I set aside time during the first week of school to begin my growth mindset lessons. These can easily be weaved into your the first ten minutes of your beginning of the year math lessons.

    Problem Solving

    math back to school digital problem solving activities

    I love presenting students with problem solving tasks during the first week of school. While I do believe that understanding what basic math skills students have is important, I love to see how they work through more challenging tasks.

    Any multiple step problem solving task that uses skills from the previous year will work as an informal assessment of students' abilities. Give students one class period to complete it,the process is more important than the final product. As they work observe their behaviors and dialogue with students, asking them questions about the steps and strategies that they are using to solve the problem

    Collect student work and keep them as a benchmark activity even if students are not done. This is a great starting point that future assessments can be compared to as the year progresses. It also shows you what students can complete during one class period.

    Play a Math Game

    math back to school games for digital classrooms or distance learning

    There is no better way to get kids loving math than by playing some hands on math games. I love using math games in the classroom to help students engage in meaningful discourse about math and share their mathematical thinking with a peer. Playing math games also holds students accountable for their work and focused at the task at hand.

    This FREE math game will give you some valuable insight into how your students approach both skill questions and problem solving questions. If you want more in depth games or school themed activities, these are my go to games to play with students during the first few weeks of school:

    Back to school season is all about getting to know your new batch of students! Make sure you take the time to know them as mathematicians, too. It will not only show students how much you value math, but allow students to develop a positive relationship with mathematics right from day one.

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    ideas for math about me upper elementary

    You might be interested in this math alphabet:

    math cursive alphabet

    Make a math selfie bulletin board this back-to-school season!

    math selfie bulletin board

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