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Teaching 4 Tomorrow Blog

Apr 03, 2020

The Gift of Time

By Sherrilynn Bair

How many times as educators have we uttered a version of these phrases? “We don’t have time for that” or “I would love to do that but I don’t have time.”

Suddenly, guess what we have? Time. Unexpectedly we have received the gift of time. The gift of time to do those things we never have time to do. We have the gift of time as educators. We have the gift of time as learners. We have the gift of time as parents.

What have you longed to do and simply have not been able to make time to do? Write thank you notes to students, parents, or colleagues? Read that new educational book that everyone is raving about? (My current favorites include Choice Words by Peter Johnston, Collective Efficacy by Jenni Donahoo, and The Coaching Habit.) Spend time looking at all those reports that help you understand more about your students? Create a Twitter account and see what all the buzz is about? Call tech support and finally resolve that tech issue that may be time consuming? Write a blog post or maybe even start your own blog?

Share your ideas and thoughts in the comments below.

Educators are inherently learners. “Creating lifelong learners” is a phrase found often in School Improvement Plans. What keeps falling to the bottom of your learning to-do list because you haven’t had time—knitting, playing the guitar, Italian cooking, organic vegetable gardening, quilting, coding? Now might be a good time to start a project that takes multiple days to complete. Most schools are closed and travel is restricted for at least two weeks, making it a perfect time for a long-term project. Using this gift of time to follow your passion and learn something new is energizing.

Don’t feel pressure to use your gift of time on completing stacks of worksheets, unless your student loves playing school or teacher and wants to do stacks of worksheets. Let’s use this gift of time for building a love for learning, rather than a time for completing tasks and checking assignments off of a to-do list. Reflect on the times you have said, “I sure wish we had time to do ______.” Find a way to do some of those things. If that list includes visiting the Grand Canyon then do that virtually here. If it includes cleaning, organizing, building, or creating, turn those things into learning experiences. The gift of meaningful reading and writing can make a significant difference not only in your child’s learning but in building family relationships.

Don’t forget to be active. Include your family’s favorite exercise in your daily routine or learn something new. How about yoga for kids? Learning, loving, and moving together promotes physical and mental well-being.

Give your child the gift of time to set up his/her own learning space. Be it formal or informal, inside or outside, giving them a choice empowers their learning.

Sherrilynn Bair is passionate about being an educator, learner, parent, and grandparent. She loves working as Curriculum Director for Snake River School District and serving on the Idaho Public Charter School Commission. She is currently using the gift of time to knit with her granddaughter, do bedtime stories through FaceTime, and promote anytime, anywhere learning for all.

creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking

Mar 27, 2020

4C’s Come to Life Through Digital Tools

Super skills, twenty-first century skills, best practices—whatever you want to call the 4C’s (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication), they are an integral part of the student experience in our classroom. Even so, sometimes a pathway to incorporate the 4C’s may seem evasive or like it takes too much time. Adding the following tools and ideas to an instructional toolbox can support a seamless incorporation of the 4C’s into our teaching and learning for all students.

Mar 20, 2020

Enhancing Human Connection in the Classroom Through Technology

“What do you remember most about elementary school?”

While preparing for an international conference presentation in Finland on quality education, I reached out to my former 5th grade students (who are now in their mid-20s) with this question via social media. I anticipated typical responses like friendships, sports, and field trips.

Instead, their responses left me speechless

Mar 13, 2020

Preparing for Coronavirus: How to Harness EdTech to Keep Students Learning During School Closures

As the coronavirus spreads, talk of school closings have increased. Schools near outbreaks in China, Italy, and parts of the US have already been closed to prevent the spread of the virus. Whether or not the virus effects your community, it is a good time to develop or review your plan in the event of a school closure for any number of reasons (including inclement weather, fires, or other unforeseen circumstances). Educational technology tools make it possible for your students to continue learning even when they can’t make it to class.

Find grants for your school.

Mar 06, 2020

Start with Something You Love

People often ask how I became interested in writing grant applications for my school. The answer is simple—there are many interests I want to foster in my students that often require additional funding to achieve. Here’s how I went about making that happen.

Get ready for the Hour of Code

Feb 28, 2020

The Importance of Coding

“Yay! We love coding!” The students shout. One student starts jumping up and down. This is the excitement I love seeing in the computer lab. My students get excited about different projects and activities, but there is something powerful about learning to code. I tell my students it is like having digital superpowers.

Feb 21, 2020

Wrapping up an Epic Learning Experience: How to Facilitate Student Reflection

Each time you and your students embark on a new story, your characters undergo a transformation. If you lead your students through the elements we’ve discussed (creating an epic classroom, uncovering a conflict, and traversing the rising action to solve the conflict) then the transformation will happen by itself. A critical part of epic learning is helping students to realize that metamorphosis and use what they’ve learned. Here are a few activities to facilitate reflection and wrap up your epic learning experience.

Top Five Resources in January 2020

Feb 14, 2020

Our Top Five Resources in January 2020

Each month we publish blogs and several newsletters full of digital learning, funding, professional growth, social media, and STEM resources. Below are items from our blogs and newsletters that educators turned to the most in January.

Integrate STEM and Programming into the Classroom

Feb 07, 2020

Integrate Computer Science and Literacy in Your Elementary Classroom

Are you curious how you might integrate computer science in your upper elementary classroom, or are you looking for a unique way to have your students share their favorite books? With technology playing an increasingly important role in every profession, a foundational understanding of computer science is becoming an essential component of student learning. To authentically integrate computer science and literacy, I’m going to teach you how to support your students in using block-based coding to program book trailers.

Jan 31, 2020

Train, Observe, Collaborate

As an educator of many years, change has always been an influential companion on this exciting journey of teaching students. Lately, change seems to be the driving force of everything. This became very evident when I asked my students what careers they would like to have in the future. Their answers were very different from the usual pro ball players and nurses—they said they wanted to be YouTubers! This shows just how prevalent technology is in their everyday lives, both in and out of school.

Jan 24, 2020

Seven Strategies for Guiding the Rising Action of Your Students’ Projects

We’ve talked about the elements of story and creating conflict. Now we’re going to get into structuring the rising action of your classroom’s story. As your students work towards resolving the conflict you’ve introduced, they will traverse different paths that ultimately lead them to a climax and a resolution. These are seven strategies that can be used to guide your students’ stories:

Top 5 resources in December 2019

Jan 17, 2020

Our Top Five Resources in December 2019

Each month we publish blogs and several newsletters full of digital learning, funding, professional growth, social media, and STEM resources. Below are items from our blogs and newsletters that educators turned to the most in December.

Jan 10, 2020

To Lead Others and to Be Led…

Merriam-Webster defines “mentor” as “a trusted counselor or guide.” The actual origin of the word dates back to the end of the eighth century when Homer wrote The Odyssey. Mentor was a trusted friend of Homer and he stayed behind during war to watch over Odysseus’ son. The word was then adapted to mean “someone who teaches or gives help and advice.”

Jan 03, 2020

Using Conflict to Engage Students in Active Learning

My previous blog discussed how to structure classroom projects into stories. There are five elements of a story you must consider when creating an epic project: theme, plot, setting, characters, and conflict. I’d like to dive deeper into one of those elements: conflict.

Top 5 Resources in November

Dec 13, 2019

Our Top 5 Resources in November 2019

By Taylor Kremer

Each month we publish blogs and several newsletters full of digital learning, funding, professional growth, social media, and STEM resources. Below are items from our blogs and newsletters that educators turned to the most in November.


Digital Learning • Learning Support
Funding & Recognition
Mobile Learning
Professional Growth
Social Media


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