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  • Christina Brauner

Updated: Mar 20

Wow... what a week it has been! Most of us have been thrust into the virtual world of education with a moment's notice. We have had to say goodbye to students without knowing when we may see them again. Some of us weren't even able to say goodbye to kids at all!


With that said, I wanted to throw together a quick post to provide some freebies that will hopefully help you over the coming weeks. Please enjoy these freebies and ideas that I hope help during this difficult time! Click the picture to be directed to the download.


We only had two days to throw together plans with very little stipulation about what the future may look like. I quickly surveyed my students who reported that they all had access to internet at home and our district sent home devices with every student 2-12.


That being said, I decided a weekly schedule was going to be the best idea for us. I planned it out much the same as our day is already, and even threw in specials and recess ideas! The point was not to overwhelm parents, but provide them with a schedule and their kids with a sense of some "normalcy" during this stressful time. I am well-aware some of it may not get finished and that some kids may skip it completely. For the short-term, my district told us to offer it as a choice and that nothing is required.


This format will also help as I plan activities. I know I need a different reading activity each day and I know what website I will pull the articles and activities from on each different weekday. For writing, I plan to video some lessons and try as much as possible to continue where we left off (starting our opinion papers and learning about prepositions). Math will be much more difficult, but I think I am going to rely on Zoom to record lessons (our district blocked this for students, so unfortunately we cannot interact and answer questions during lessons.) I did give students and families my Google Voice number and I am able to communicate with them through Google Chat.


While this week was technically supposed to be a "normal" one, the students have taken off the remainder of this week and it is tacked onto their Spring Break next week. I know many of my students are bummed their Spring Break is going to be stuck practicing social-distancing, so I created this template of places we can "visit" together as a class next week. I compiled some interesting places to visit, and I'm really hoping that the Chromebook's at home allow them to access the sites (we have had some tech issues already.)


I also wanted to pump them up for when we do start the optional online instruction with a Virtual Spirit Week! I saw the idea floating around a teacher Facebook group and she had her students post their images to a private Padlet each day so they could see how their classmates were participating. It looks like a lot of fun! I can't wait to see how it works out.


Please click on each image to be directed to the free downloads! I hope they ease some of the planning stress and keep a smile on your student's faces during this difficult time. Stay safe everyone!


  • Christina Brauner

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links and referral codes. This allows me to earn a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for helping me provide my classroom with more great materials!


Our school, like many I'm sure, does not have a color printer. My last school did, but since ink can tend to be pricey, it was seldom used. I came across a program that has changed my classroom life... HP Instant Ink!


If you're like me, you have a good amount invested in some functional, adorable task cards on TeachersPayTeachers. Printing them off in black and white (or colored cardstock) just doesn't feel like the right thing to do, but ink is expensive! That's why this program is perfect for teachers. Read on to find out more about this money-saving program and see if it would be beneficial to your classroom (and your pocketbook!)


HP Instant Ink is basically a subscription ink service. You pay a monthly fee (anywhere from $2.99/month and up) and can print as many pages as you are allotted, with as much color on each page as you want. The only downsides are that any page printed counts toward your page allotment, even if it's only black and white or a few lines. So be careful when you hit print preview and only print what you want! Also, a double sided page counts as 2 pages. When your printer is running low on ink, it sends out a signal and new ink is shipped to you before you ever run out!


5 Reasons to Try HP Instant Ink

1. Their printers are very reasonably priced! My first HP Instant Ink printer is the HP Envy 5055. I love this printer because it is simple and prints duplex, which is perfect for making sure my positive parent postcards are aligned seamlessly. My Envy was actually funded through my first ever DonorsChoose project and is housed in my classroom. Because it has to be connected to wifi to update every week or so, I tether my phone as a mobile hotspot on Fridays and login to HP Instant Ink's website to update my printer status. Super quick and takes minimal time! I only have to do this because the school's wifi requires authenticiation and I can't access it through my printer at school. I use my printer so much I bought another for my house: the HP OfficeJet3830! This one is a little more advanced, with a scanning feature that my husband really loves when he works from home.

2. I can change my plan from month to month! I tend to print more in the summer when I am prepping new decor or organizing task card sets (finally!) This plan allows me to switch to a higher printing plan (500 or 700 pages/month) in the summer and then tone it down during the school year when I may not print as often. I like not being locked in to paying for a certain number of pages when they may not get used.

3. It's so EASY! I love not having to remember to order ink or grab it from the store. My computer sends a signal through my internet when it's time for new ink, and it arrives at my door a few days later! I've only had one issue with not getting ink before mine runs out (see tips below.) When I get new ink, I ship the old cartridges back in the pre-labeled package and make my son run it out to the mailbox. It's magical!

4. Referral credits make it even more affordable. Know another teacher looking to solve their color printing problem? Give them your referral code and you both get a free month! Don't have a friend using HP Instant Ink? Use my code to get us both a free month of ink!

5. Printing is better in COLOR! I love having the freedom to print things in color without worrying about how much ink it uses. I've printing many different TPT products in color and the kids love it! Plus, you can save so much more in classroom decor if you print it yourself!


Tips & Tricks

-Check the website for codes to stack on top of your referral code! I got 6 months free right out of the box! You only get one shot to enter codes, so gather them all before you sign up.

-Don't plan on printing off 100+ pages your very first day. The ink cartridges that come with the printer are super tiny (not sure why) and you run out of ink pretty quickly that first time. After that, the cartridges are bigger and will last you a good long while! I recommend calling customer support upon signing up if you need ink expedited to you (they have great customer service!)

-Sign up for the 500pg/month plan while you have referral codes! You get your plan free that month even at the highest level. Just remember to switch back once they run out to avoid unwanted charges!


Pin to save blog post for later or share with others!



  • Christina Brauner

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. This allows me to earn a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for helping me provide my classroom with more great materials!


In my last blog post, I addressed a helpful procedure I use for checking in student work and eliminating the need to sift through piles of paperwork to see if a student turned in a particular assignment. This eliminated the work on the teacher to track down paperwork from students and gave a quick way to see who had and hadn't turned something in.


Today, I would like to address part two of my turn-in procedures - Reflect & Highlight! If you haven't read part one, I highly recommend it so that you know what it means when the poster says that students should check off their name. This strategy has almost eliminated my no name papers and also allows the students a quick moment of self-reflection after every assignment. Allow me to explain...


As a third year year, I was super frustrated at having to tack multiple no name papers up to the board every time I graded a stack of papers. I had seen plenty of strategies scrolling through Pinterest, but none of them appealed to me or stuck very long if I tried them out. I found myself stuck telling my students that they needed to put their name on their papers 56,345 times every month, and it wasn't holding them accountable for remembering these procedures!


I also loved the thought of having students reflect on how they feel they understood an assignment. I had looked at many options on Pinterest - but again, nothing really stuck with me. I liked the idea of having different colored turn in bins, or labels for their level of understanding, but I wanted something that wouldn't require me remembering who had put what paper in each bin for each assignment. Then, I had the idea to combine these two procedures (highlighting their name and reflecting) and alas, Reflect and Highlight was born! I know I'm probably not the first teacher to ever think of this, but if it helps anyone else as much as it helped me, I definitely wanted to share!



It goes like this: after students check off their name on the checklist for the assignment, they grab a highlighter that corresponds to their level of understanding about that particular assignment. I have these highlighters conveniently located by my turn in baskets, and marked with washi tape so that they don't walk off! Students simply grab one, swipe their name ONE time (yes, this is a procedure I teach, otherwise they highlight multiple times until their name is barely readable!), and turn their paper in.




These Levels of Understanding Reflect and Highlight Posters, with an editable version available in the resource in my TeachersPayTeachers store as well! See below for how I teach the procedure and implement this within my classroom.


Level 1 - I do not understand, YET. I needed support to complete it.

These might be your kiddos who completed this paper at your small group table and needed assistance through each step of the process.



Level 2 - I sometimes understand. I had to ask a couple of questions to complete it.

These might be those kiddos who checked in with your halfway through the assignment to make sure they were doing it right, or needed a few quick reminders on what needed to be done.


Level 3 - I understand most of it. I completed this independently, but I couldn't teach it to someone else.

I teach this explicitly to students! I tell them that if they could do it by themselves, that's great! They are a Level 3. This is the step I want them to attain, and anything else is bonus! Sometimes students have a hard time not being at the "top of the chart" (Level 4). I explain to them that Level 3 is great and is exactly what I am looking for.



Level 4 - I understand completely. I am confident I could teach this to a peer!

If I notice a student consistently rating themselves at a Level 4, I may check in with them and ask them to explain to me how to do a problem. This just helps them recognize whether they can truly break the process down to help someone who may be struggling. If they are confident and can explain it to me, I will sometimes partner them up with a peer to help!


I pair these check in procedures with my student checklists and teach them all at one time at the beginning of the year. It takes a few weeks of reminders, but then it is ingrained in them and they do it naturally!


In the resource, I have included a sheet with mini-posters, four to a page. These are useful for a couple of purposes!


1. Teacher cheat sheets: I always found that when I took papers home to grade, I would forget which color went with which level when I was grading. I always liked to see if their color correlated with how they scored on the assignment, so it was crucial for me to remember which color was which level, but I could never seem to keep them straight! Now I keep a laminated copy with my E-Z Grader so that I always have a copy with me.


2. Student reference sheets: You could also print these in color and have the students paste them in their notebooks so that they can refer to them at their desks before turning in. This would work especially well if you have table supply caddies and each group has their own supply caddy and highlighters!


As with any procedure, I teach the how and the why to students when I introduce it. I tell them that it is important for them to reflect on assignments to monitor how well they are understanding concepts and ask for help when need be. This would be great paired with the read-aloud The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes! I love using picture books to teach procedures at the beginning of the year.


You can find this resource posted in my TPT store. I hope it helps you and your students! I know it has greatly increased accountability in my classroom and I love not having to search for the owner of no-name papers anymore! Click this link to grab the posters for yourself.


Have you ever combined two different procedures like this before? What does it look like in your classroom? Let me know in the comments below!





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