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Back to School Night: 10 Tips to be Prepared and A Schedule

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” - said no teacher ever. If you are anything like me, you cherish those summer months. You cringe at the thought of going back to school. You cry when you receive those late August welcome back e-mails. You are just not ready and it’s just not fair!


But let’s face it, it’s time to return to our beloved classrooms and soon enough, host yet another Back to School night, or Open House, to some schools. Some teachers love this night, some teachers dread it. I personally enjoy it. I like meeting my students’ parents/guardians/family members. I like getting a short glimpse into where my students come from.
If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.

What is the purpose of Back to School night? It is the time when you get to introduce yourself and your classroom to the families of your students. It’s not ALL about you, the teacher. It’s about you AND the classes you teach. A successful Back to School night showcases a combination of the two. The families are equally interested in both you AND what classes their children are taking this school year.


I know what you’re thinking, “How can I have a successful night?” or “What tips do you have for me for Back to School night?”

Top ten tips to have a great night:

  • Be Positive: you want to be upbeat, always smiling and excited to be there. If you’re not, it’s obvious.
  • Greet the families at your door: shake their hand at the door and welcome them to your classroom.
  • Have a sign-in sheet: This is a perfect spot to get parental contact information such as their name, phone number and e-mail address.
If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.

Leave a sign in sheet out on a clip board with a pen attached. As families enter the room, encourage them to fill it in. Its an easy way to record who was there that night. Many times, administration requires this and will want a photocopy of it. Be prepared.

  • Give out handouts: These include course proficiency list and class rules, among any other important handouts you want to give them.

If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.
I use this back to school night flip book. I add all of my pertinent information for the families to take home with them.


  • Provide “exit tickets” or Post-Its for the families to leave any questions, comments or concerns they may have: They might not want to ask questions out loud or just want to speed the night up so this provides a quicker, more private way to get their questions to you. Assure them you will address each and every exit ticket or post-it you receive.

If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.

  • Create a OneSheet: These are like a snapshot of YOU: a little about you, how to get in contact with you, your teaching schedule, email address, phone number, etc...
  • Make teacher-business cards: Like a normal business card: name, phone number, email address. Very convenient for families to hold on to for when they need to get in touch with you!
  • Display student work on the walls: The families, and administrators love to see student work displayed. It shows the educational fun that happens everyday in your classroom! 
    If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.
    Dedicate some time before open house to decorate your room appropriate for grade level and subject area. Word walls are great. Shown here is a "word wall tree." The leaves are the words that are a part of English Language Arts grades 9-12. 

  • Interact with the families: Ask them questions! Don’t just lecture! That’s when they start to tune you out and not pay attention. Kind of like our students, right?
  • Shake their hands and thank them for visiting you as they leave your classroom: Be sure to shake their hand and thank them. It is the polite thing to do and it will leave them with a great impression of you!


At my school, we hold Back to School Night for two hours at the end of September. We have 8 periods in total. We start the night with meeting in our homeroom, and then proceed to each of the 8 classes. The families follow their children’s schedule, seeing which classes and teachers they choose. Each class meets for 7 minutes, and the families get a 5 minute window to find their next class. Seven minutes can either seem like an eternity if you’re not prepared, or it can go by in a flash if you are well prepared!


If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.

Lucky for you, I have created a time schedule that can be adjusted to your needs so you are well prepared down the very minute!


0:00-1:00: Meet and greet! Say good evening, welcome the families as they enter your classroom, have them sign-in with their name, phone number and e-mail address and  instruct them to take your pre-made handouts before they pick a seat.

1:01-2:00: Introduce yourself! Who are you, where did you go to college, how long have you been teaching, what do you love about teaching? Short, sweet and to the point. That’s always best.


2:01-5:00: During this time, you will want to refer to the handouts you provided. These handouts should include a copy of course proficiencies and a copy of classroom rules. You will also want to discuss what types of activities your students will be doing, what types of technology your students will be working with, and anything else particular to your class.


5:01-6:00: Invite the families to do a gallery-walk around your classroom to view the displayed work of your students during the first month of school. They love seeing this stuff!
If thinking about Back to School Night makes you break into a cold sweat, don't worry! These ten tips and minute-by-minute schedule will make it painless! Being positive may seem like an obvious tip, but the other nine are sure to help the evening go off without a hitch. Click through to see how you can use these tips at ANY grade level - preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, middle school, and even high school.
I love to bring attention to student's work by walking over to it, and asking something like, "Does anyone remember reading Shakespeare in high school?" Then, I point out some of the cool and interesting details included in the project.


6:01-7:00: Provide an “exit ticket” or Post-It for any questions, comments or concerns they make have. Upon exiting, provide them your personal business card and your OneSheet and thank them for coming tonight.

You can adapt this to fit your needs but this is a basic run-down of a successful Back to School Night. Being unprepared leads to awkward silences and weird stares that make everyone uncomfortable. It gives a terrible first impression and the whole point of the night is to give the best first impression you can.


Hopefully you’ll find this helpful as we move into the start of another exciting school year! Best of luck to all of you as you prepare for Back to School Night and the rest of the school year!

Visual Images and Digital Interactive Notebooks

How many of you have ever seen digital interactive notebooksProbably many of you reading this right now. Now, how many of you are totally stumped about why and how you can use them? Don't worry! I am here... tell you all about these digital interactive notebooks!

Digital interactive notebooks are a great way to get kinesthetic & visual learners engaged in the upper elementary, middle school, or high school classroom! Click through to see ten different versions of digital interactive notebooks in use so you can visualize how great these would work in your literacy classroom for 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students! Great ideas and all the resources you need are located in this post!










What makes digital interactive notebooks so special?

Digital interactive notebooks are similar to regular paper and pencil interactive notebooks, except they are, you guessed it, all digital! They are all online. No making endless photocopies, no waiting years for your students to cut and paste everything, no wasting precious classroom time assembling. If you are familiar with the paper and pencil versions, then the digital version will be a breeze.

How are digital interactive notebooks created?

Digital interactive notebooks are created using Google Slides. Why? Google slides is the easiest platform for creating. It gives you easy access to all of the different shapes and it’s so simple for your students to move these shapes around as needed. It’s also so convenient for you, the teacher, to customize all of the activities from the templates to your own subject area and content. 

Digital interactive notebooks basically look like a bunch of graphic organizers, but in the digital form. Why is this amazing for a teacher? You can use them over and over again, for multiple subjects and topics! 



What if a student is absent? 

You have the ability to prepare an already-filled out page and print it out for those students. These notebooks help different types of learning as well, such as kinesthetic learners and visual learners.

Once you have access to all of the templates, you’re probably wondering what to do now. There are categories for the visual images - sequential, cyclical, conceptual, and hierarchical. Listed below are ten ideas you can use for your students:

1. Hamburger: Think of the layers of a hamburger. Your students can use this as a tool to help with the writing process, or something similar. Each layer of the hamburger represents a step in a process.



Digital interactive notebooks are a great way to get kinesthetic & visual learners engaged in the upper elementary, middle school, or high school classroom! Click through to see ten different versions of digital interactive notebooks in use so you can visualize how great these would work in your literacy classroom for 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students! Great ideas and all the resources you need are located in this post!

2. Ice Cream Cone: Similar to the hamburger, each scoop of your cone represents a step in a process or a series of ideas. 


Digital interactive notebooks are a great way to get kinesthetic & visual learners engaged in the upper elementary, middle school, or high school classroom! Click through to see ten different versions of digital interactive notebooks in use so you can visualize how great these would work in your literacy classroom for 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students! Great ideas and all the resources you need are located in this post!

3. Ladder: Another useful tool for representing the order or steps of different processes.

4. KWL: “What I know, What I Wonder, What I Learned”, you can create movable pieces and text boxes for students to continually update throughout a lesson or unit. 


Digital interactive notebooks are a great way to get kinesthetic & visual learners engaged in the upper elementary, middle school, or high school classroom! Click through to see ten different versions of digital interactive notebooks in use so you can visualize how great these would work in your literacy classroom for 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students! Great ideas and all the resources you need are located in this post!

5. Pyramid: Also similar to the hamburger template, the pyramid can be used as a tool to show a hierarchy of things, or an order of things. 

6. Tree: I have used the tree template when working with root words of vocabulary. It’s a good visual representation when learning where common words come from and what words are related. 

7. Mountain: The mountain template can best be used when discussing the plots of the novels you are reading. You can create movable pieces, and the students need to identify parts such as the climax, resolution, and rising action. 

8. 5 Senses: This template can be used for a character study, where students have to create ‘senses’ for the character in their novel. For example, using text boxes, students create what the character ‘sees’, ‘smells’, ‘hears’, ‘tastes’ and ‘feels’.

Digital interactive notebooks are a great way to get kinesthetic & visual learners engaged in the upper elementary, middle school, or high school classroom! Click through to see ten different versions of digital interactive notebooks in use so you can visualize how great these would work in your literacy classroom for 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students! Great ideas and all the resources you need are located in this post!
All shown here are visual images that you can use in a digital interactive notebooks:
The 5 senses, tree, mountain, and gears all included.

9. Venn Diagrams: Most commonly used for comparing and contrasting different ideas and subjects.

10. Gears: When you think of gears, you think of pieces moving and working together. Your students can use this template to learn how different things work together, or discover the ‘flow’ of things. 



Digital interactive notebooks are a great way to get kinesthetic & visual learners engaged in the upper elementary, middle school, or high school classroom! Click through to see ten different versions of digital interactive notebooks in use so you can visualize how great these would work in your literacy classroom for 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th grade students! Great ideas and all the resources you need are located in this post!

These are just ten different ideas you can use as you create your own digital interactive notebooks. The true beauty of having all of these templates are that you can reuse them over and over again, for a million different topics, in a million different ways. The possibilities are endless, and your students will have so much fun with them.



Celebrate Innovative Classroom Technology Day


Getting ready for back to school? In my own classroom, I am preparing for more engaging digital interactive notebooks. My grade 9 English language arts classes always start off with a fun short stories unit. I love flip books (who doesn't, right?) In order to go paperless and take advantage of our technology, I converted the flip book to share in our Google Classroom. My students can now use it right on their chrome book or tablet. I cannot wait for them to dive in!

On July 25th we celebrate Innovative Classroom Technology Day. Teachers from all over the world are preparing technology infused lessons and activities. Here are some informative blog posts and engaging digital lessons to use in your classroom. I hope you enjoy them! 

GO INTERACTIVE! GO DIGITAL!

Innovative Classroom Technology Link-Up for Grades 6-12.  Check out these helpful blog posts and classroom resources...

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What kind of innovative technology are you using in your classroom?