The Why Behind Using Classroom Slides

Have you ever felt like you have a million tabs open on your computer? Or like you’re switching back and forth between a ton of different things: doc cam, timers, videos, etc? That you have to repeat directions multiple times? Or that you just need something to help you stay on track and organized throughout your day?

Well I have a solution for you! Classroom slides! Not only do classroom slides help you streamline your planning and lessons, but they also maximize instructional time by making those transitions quick and easy and improving the flow in your classroom.

And that’s just the start! Let me share why I love classroom slides so much and why you need to use them in your classroom! (sidenote: this is a tried and true teacher tool! I’ve used classroom slides in my classroom since I began teaching in 2012 and have never looked back!)

reasons why classroom slides are the best:

#1 maximize planning and instructional time

I already mentioned this a bit but let’s talk more about it! Instructional time is maximized because everything you need is right in your slides: timers, videos, screenshots of handouts, directions, you name it. Therefore, you’re spending less time accessing those things and more time teaching.

It also helps with my planning because I have a consistent outline for my slides and each time I create a new set I’m not starting from scratch. I’m able to use my unpacked standards and plug that information into my slides. I can also recycle slides each year and adjust them as needed. And I know when I’m finished with my slide set for the lesson that I have a comprehensive, thorough, and effective lesson ready to go!

#2 consistent visual for all students

In my classroom, all of my students know where to look if they need information…and it’s usually our slides! Everything I say out of my mouth is usually referenced on my slides in some way. This makes it a consistent place for students to refer to when needed.

They’re also a great support for all learners (not just my visual ones) because they have valuable learning supports like sentence frames, academic vocabulary, math supports, and more!

They support management because students know where to go if they need directions repeated. Timers help students stay on task and know how much time they have to complete an activity. Not only is this helpful for students but also you!

#3 keep us on track

To tie it altogether, they keep us on track! I am confident that my slides have everything I need to stay on track throughout the day. I don’t need to refer to notes to make sure that I’m not missing anything because it’s ALL there!

Students know they have a consistent visual to refer to throughout the day, every day!

Instructional time is maximized and your day flows seamlessly because you have everything you need right there in your slides! Sounds like the perfect teacher tool right? Well, I have one more benefit for you…

#4 support effective, thorough, and engaging lessons

Like I said, I know when I finish a slide set for a lesson that it is comprehensive, throrough, and effective. It has all of the questions I’m asking my students, problems were solving, and supports that my students and I need.

My students are engaged because they have the supports they need, the flow of the lesson supports pacing, they’re a great visual, and they know exactly what we’re doing.

I can also add components to the slides that make the lessons interactive, and if you have a smartboard you can do this too! I love adding moveable math tools so my students can come up to the board and show us their math thinking. I can also have them write on the board to show us how they solved. This makes it more engaging and puts the heavy lifting on the students, which is always a win-win in my book!

#5 added bonus…

And because I hate even numbers, I have one more reason for you! If I haven’t convinced you yet, here’s an added bonus! They’re fun to create and fun for your students to see! I love switching my slide themes up every month because it’s fun for me to put some creativity into it, and my students always love seeing them!

I have the PERFECT resource for you full of fun and unique classroom slides! They have everything you need: tons of editable slide templates, custom headers, blank backgrounds and clip art, so you can get creative and make it your own! You gotta check them out, I promise you won’t regret using this resource in your classroom!

As always, feel free to email me if you have any questions and happy teaching!


Some Tips for Planning Math Small Groups

a few thoughts about math small groups

One of my biggest goals this year was making my small groups hassle-free, easier to prep, but also effective and meaningful for my students. I felt like I had so much to tackle, and a very small amount of time to do it. So, I wanted everything I did to have a big impact.

Since I started teaching 5th grade math these have been some of my thoughts regarding math small groups : “man this is hard, some of my student have so much unfinished learning, where do I even start?”, “what group should I put this student in?”, “I need to change what students are doing independently more often”, “I’m not doing enough.” Can you resonate with any of those thoughts?

So here are some things I’ve done this year to tackle some of these thoughts.

#1 most of my small group lessons are task-based 

This is the most authentic way I’ve found to address students’ unfinished learning and push them to new understandings. It allows me to see their entry point and meet them where they’re at in their math thinking. They feel safe to share and show their thinking in a small group setting, and this gives me so much insight. We’re able to address misconceptions in an authentic way and use concrete models to deepen our understanding. Added bonus: it makes my planning much easier and streamlined. I’m able to use one task for all of my groups, scaffold when needed, and see the magic happen from there.
Here are a few of my favorite places to pull tasks for my students: Illustrative Mathematics, Mine the Gap, and here!

#2 my groups are flexible and somewhat heterogeneous (most of the time)

This has been a game changer because now I don’t think so much about “what group should I put this student in/where do they fit?” This was a big shift because I was so used to grouping students homogeneously (hello, primary literacy teacher brain). I’ve found that heterogeneous groups work really well in math, and having the flexibility of switching up groups based on the day works well too! I’ve found that this helps a lot with students hearing different perspectives on problem solving and pushes students in the group to reflect and possibly revise their thinking based on what they’re hearing from their classmates. It puts a lot of the heavy lifting on the students and less on me, the teacher! Which is a win-win in my book.

Ps…are there days when my groups are more structured and planned? Of course! It all just depends on the day!

#3 make independent work easy to prep and consistent

Say it with me, independent work can be basic and still meaningful. Not only does this make prep much easier but your students get to know the drill and the focus is on the math. Now, this doesn’t mean students are doing the same exact thing every week, but they are doing a different version of the same activity.

Here are what my students work on independently throughout the week:

>Math app/website: There are so many great math websites and apps now. My school uses IXL and so that’s what I use in my math classroom, but I like to switch it up with Prodigy and 99math too.

>Weekly Number: My students complete a weekly number worksheet. The template is consistent but changes weekly to address standards we’ve learned. There’s also a self-checking component so students are able to see how they’ve done.

>Math Identity Journal Prompt: I’ve used this in my room for a couple of years now and I love it. Students complete a weekly prompt that addresses various aspects of their math identity. I read these responses and respond to them periodically. I use a digital version which makes it super simple to assign and check. If you’d like to check out this resource in my tpt store here it is!

a little bit on systems and organization…

One more note because you know your girl loves some organization. I’ve also made sure that I created a space that is conducive to what I’m doing in my small groups. I wanted a space that was functional and worked for my students and I, and I truly feel that I’ve created just that! Here are a few of my favorite things that I use to organize my space: this container is great for organizing my tasks, love having a little caddy with some frequently used supplies, and these little pouches are perfect for organizing all of my favorite math tools. Check out some more of my small group faves here!

Also, because I’ve really streamlined what I’m doing in both my small group lessons and independent work for students this makes planning and prep a lot easier. I’m able to batch plan which is so darn helpful! Check out my no-fuss planning template below!

Welp, I hope this gave you some things to think about in terms of making your math small groups a little more no-fuss, but also meaningful and rigorous for all students.

small group planning template

*please note: this post includes some affiliate links, which means I earn a small little commission if you follow those links and purchase something! So thanks in advance for showing your support, it truly means the world to me!