Timely Teaching Tips


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Teaching is a collaborative profession and at The Daily CAFE we work to share timely information you can apply in your teaching right away. During these times of change, we are all thinking, working, and teaching differently and there is so much we can learn from each other. Recently we asked members of our community to share what they are doing to enhance distance learning for their students. We appreciate the ideas that were shared and would like to highlight one or two a week. If you have an idea that you would like to share, email us here.

July 10, 2020

Looking for how to include Read to Someone as a Daily 5 choice during a time of physical distancing? Kathi Byington of Thousand Oaks, California shared an idea we think is pretty ingenious!

Consider the use of a sneeze guard or piece of acrylic/ plexiglass in a stand. Have one or two of them in a space in designated spaces in your room were students can go sit on either side and read a book together while having protection between them. A search for sneeze guard on the internet will return some fairly pricey results, so creating your own with acrylic and a wooden block or some type of self created base may be a less expensive way to go. Kathi researched this option and shared a few DIY tutorials with us:

PVC pipe and plexiglass
Plexiglass and shelf brackets
2 picture frames

Thanks for sharing, Kathi! 


June 25, 2020

Looking for a way to encourage and support children as writers? In this six-part series presented by Regie Routman and Gail Boushey, you will uncover writing possibilities for yourself and your students, while feeling supported as writers and teachers of writing. 


June 19, 2020

A word collector is a simple tool to help students expand their vocabulary. In our classrooms, we post our word wall near our teaching area and throughout the year we add words we find that are interesting and we want to learn more about. It is a wonderful way to build new vocabulary together. When teaching remotely, we can continue to build our class word collector virutally via google slides. Here's how:

  1. Go to Google Slides
  2. Select Start a new presentation
  3. Create 26 slides (one for each letter of the alphabet)
  4. In the top left corner, title your presentation
  5. In the top right corner, select share
  6. Share with your class or open the link to all
  7. As you add words, link them to the definition:
    • highlight the word
    • select insert from the top menu
    • from the dropdown under insert, select link
    • paste the link to the word definition (there are many sites to use for definitions, we like to use vocabulary.com)

View our example here. You may even wish to copy it to use with your class! 

June 12, 2020

Looking for formative assessment options? Google Forms is an online tool that can provide the information you need in a quick, effective way. Create a form that includes the questions you want answered, and share the link with students. Then, check in to see who has responded and get a pulse on their understanding of current concepts being taught. New to Google Forms? We found this guide for beginners you may find helpful. 



May 29, 2020

Teaching virtually and looking for a way for all students to share their answers? Recently a teacher shared with us one way her students participate in whole group learning. Students take a sheet of paper, fold it to create 16 boxes and using a black marker write around the edges various options for answers: A, B, C, D, True, False, 1, 2, 3, 4, Yes, No (see image). Then, as you ask a question, students can point to their answer and you can see at a glance where students are with their understanding. Genius! 


May 22, 2020

Looking for non-fiction text to enhance reading strategy instruction or content area lessons? A few subscription services have opened their libraries to teachers and students during this time of distance learning. 

Time for Kids

National Geographic



Have a resource to share? Visit our discussion board!

May 15, 2020

Create a class word collector in Google Docs that all students can access. Enourage students to Tune In To Interesting Words by searching for words in their reading or even their conversations with others. Add a little flare to this by challenging them to find a word that starts with a certain letter or describes a certain object or event. Have them record their word on the class word collector, with their name behind it, to share during the next class meeting. 

May 8, 2020

4th Grade Teacher, Penelope Tadler shares how one way she engages her class is through scavenger hunts and special guests. Penelope writes:

I create a scavenger hunt and post it on Monday morning, telling students they have all week to find the items on the list. I let them know that on Friday we will share our treasures.  The items included in the list are generalized, which adds to the fun when we see each other's interpretation. The items can build on previously learned concepts and vocabulary, or just be for fun. For example, a circle, something cold, a green item, something with a 90 degree angle, something that retracts, etc.

The first scavenger hunt was such a success that last week, I provided another and promised a surprise guest on Friday.  I then sent the list of items to our special guest (their music teacher) and he joined our session Friday to share his scavenger treasures with us. His items were mostly musical instruments. 

The conversations as we share are fabulous. The way everyone interprets things in a different way is the best part. One item was "a tube." I brought a toilet paper tube, one child brought a tube of toothpaste, and the music teacher brought a recorder. 

All in all, this is a huge hit. One parent texted me and said her son was so happy running around the house collecting things and then put everything in a bag that he set on the table and declared, "DO NOT TOUCH THIS! I NEED IT FOR SCHOOL ON FRIDAY!" That made my heart happy. 

May 1, 2020

Looking for digital books for your students? Over 3500 free leveled books for children are available on Rivet. This resource is available as an app or on the web. 

April 24, 2020

Use Seesaw for sharing notes of encouragement to students, brief focus lessons, and information to parents. It is also a great tool for students to share pictures of their work or videos of their reading and writing with their teacher (who can then choose to share with the entire class). 

Here is an example of one student's video sharing her vocabulary work.

April 17, 2020

Looking for a way to start a virtual conversation your class can participate in without having to join in real-time? Check out Flipgrid. A free, education–focused platform to create and share short videos. Ask a question and watch your students’ answers come in! Take a look at one we created, and (if you want) add a clip of yourself. 

April 10, 2020

This week’s idea come from Maureen Culbertson from Columbus, Montana. She writes:

After the second week of school closure, I decided to write personal letters to each of the 45 students I work with in Title 1. I write to one grade level per day to break it up. Each letter I write is hand written and unique, so this ends up taking several hours each day. Spending this time thinking about each kid as I write makes me realize how much I miss each of them. I include my address and email and encourage them to write back to me. I started 4 days ago, and now I’m looking forward to checking my mailbox for their replies. We’ve been doing some online learning and sending home packets, but this letter writing has helped me feel more connected to my students. I hope they will feel the same way.

Thanks for sharing, Maureen!

If you have an idea that you would like to share, email us here.

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