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  • Hand-raised discussion

This strategy allows students to raise their hands to answer the questions

  • Teacher Call Discussion

This strategy allows for everyone to be prepared to answer questions randomly.  Always announce this type of discussion so the students know to listen and be prepared.  Be careful to ask easy questions for those who struggle.

  • Head-to-head Discussion

This strategy allows students to talk with partners to discuss the question the teacher has asked.  This is a good strategy to have before the whole group discussion.

  • Sticky Note Discussion

This strategy will help you monitor class discussions--making sure everyone participates and nobody dominates.


  • Give all students three sticky notes on the front of their desks.
  • Each time they make a comment they will move one of the sticky notes to the other side of their desks.
  • One comment = one sticky note.
  • The rule is that everybody must use at least ONE sticky note, and nobody can use more than THREE.
  • The teacher can move around the class and see who has used all their comments and who needs to be encouraged to speak up.
  • Consider asking a very open-ended, easy opinion question directly to students who have not commented as the discussion draws to a close.


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The First Three Years PodcastIn this episode of The First Three Years, we talk about test anxiety and how it can affect teachers and students. We interview Brooke Anderson, JSD Evaluation, Research, and Accountability Teacher Specialist, about how teachers should view end of year testing and ways to help calm any anxiety about the tests. We also interview McKinley Withers, JSD Administrative Specialist Health & Wellness, about how teachers can support their students through testing.

Both Brooke and McKinley are happy to help you if you have questions.


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End of year testing will give information to help with planning for the next year.  Here are some resources that present a positive approach to testing.

  1.  Ideas to relieve test anxiety:
  • Have class meeting prior to testing
  • Allow students to ask questions about testing
  • Review test-taking strategies
  • Elementary—plan fun activities for rest of the day
  • Secondary—Encourage teachers in non-testing classes to have a relaxed day

Relieve test anxiety

  1.    When assessment works best, it does the following:
  • Provides diagnostic feedback
  • Helps educators set standards
  • Evaluates progress
  • Relates to a student's progress
  • Self-evaluation motivates performance

Why Is Assessment Important?

  1.   Ethics:
  • No talking during the test.
  • No leaving the room by teacher or student while tests are being administered.
  • No assistance provided to students.
  • Tests may not be reproduced or reviewed by the students or teacher.
  • Reference materials, texts, notes, etc., may not be used unless specified.
  • Students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) may have special accommodations.
  • The teacher is responsible for the security of the tests.

Test Administration 


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The quote on my work email states,

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”  -Ignacio Estrada

This has always been my goal, but since I have been researching for this blog, I have found renewed energy to really put this quote into action. One article I read, “Does Our Natural Affinity for Games Have a Place in the Classroom?” by Adam Moler, really sparked a new flame.  He talks about incorporating gaming into the classroom.  I think most of us “more seasoned” teachers remember playing The Oregon Trail simulation.  I remember being excited for choosing the correct gear to take across the plains in my wagon and using my mistakes to plan better for the nest trip.  It was THE educational game of the 80’s!  It was gaming when gaming wasn’t popular.  Now that gaming is popular, where is the application in the classroom?

Moler suggests that we bring back the Oregon Trail idea with a renewed gaming facelift. This could be done by creating learning scenarios with experience points, badges, avatars, and quests. You can find his article at

Jennifer Gonzalez , throws some teaching caution into the mix.  She is worried we are teaching things that are not even found in the core.  Memorizing facts, dates, events, and people need to be replaced with doing something!  She stakes, “If we want our students to actually lean the facts and concepts and ideas we’re trying to teach them, they have to experience those things in some way that rises above the abstract words on paper.  They have to process them. Manipulate them. To really learn in a way that will stick, they have to DO something.”

She suggests that in between the direct instruction and assessment step of our planning we start adding some of these activities:

  1. Sorting
  2. Kinesthetic work
  3. Discussion
  4. Graphic representations
  5. Write to learn
  6. Mini-projects
  7. Anticipation guides
  8. Quality note-taking
  9. Retrieval practice
  10. Collaboration

For a more detailed look at her suggestions, visit the link above and read her article, “To Learn, Students Need to DO Something.”


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In this episode of The First Three Years, we will explore the idea of bringing back playing and creating to the classroom and the impact it can have on student learning, especially during remote learning due to COVID-19.

We interviewed Cally Flox, Director of BYU Arts Partnership, and she shared some ideas of how to get students out of their seats to better their instruction time.

Cally would love to hear about the successes you are having in your classroom as well as questions you may have about creating an atmosphere of play and create in your classroom K-12.  Visit her website below for some great ideas.



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Play and Create                                                

It seems that once our students get to high school, the idea of playing and creating is a long-ago idea that got lost in the educational shuffle somewhere in elementary school.  Education turned into a series of memorizing dates, facts, and periodic tables.

Is there a place for playing and creating in the high school classroom? Zaidee Stavely believes so.  Not only is it good, it is imperative that students do not lose the desire to play and create in the upper grades. She looks at how students play and create in elementary school and compares it to how that would look in the secondary schools.

Elementary School Secondary School
Free Choice Student-directed learning
Blocks and Legos Maker Spaces and Fab Labs
Playground Pickup sports and Jam Sessions
Finger-painting Arts Integration
Make-Believe Problem-Based Learning
Rice Tables and Sandboxes Science Through Inquiry

“Teenagers need creative outlets, just like elementary school children. Those experiences help open their brains in different ways, get them excited about learning and allow them to have fun. Playful learning can in turn lead to deeper engagement with school, better retention of learning and a stronger motivation to persist all the way through school.”

For a more in depth look, read Zaidee Stavely’s article "How to Bring Playfulness to High School Students"

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Surviving the first few years of teaching is huge! New teachers are busy during those years getting a handle on all the teaching things -- management, planning, teaming and data diving, improving engagement strategies, surviving their evaluation...the list goes on! As they get to the end of the provisional years and see all their growth, some new teachers ask the question, “Now what? What can I do to continue to grow?”

Jordan School District has some great opportunities available for teachers to continue their education and learning. There are several endorsements that are offered through the district. Some of these endorsements even tie into master’s programs. One perk of these credits is they can help you advance on the pay scale!

If you are interested in endorsements that are offered through our district, here’s a list and some contact information. 

  • ESL Endorsement: The ESL Endorsement is offered through Southern Utah University. Teachers can use credits from the class towards a master’s degree. For more information about this endorsement, contact Sheri Sample:
  • Technology Endorsement: The technology endorsement is offered through Utah Valley University. This endorsement can be used towards a master’s program. For more information on this program, contact Deanna Taylor:
  • Gifted and Talented Endorsement: The GT Endorsement is offered through Southern Utah University and can be tied to a masters program. For more information on the GT endorsement, contact Rebecca Smith:

Elementary Endorsements:

  • Math Endorsement: The math endorsement is offered through Utah Valley University. The credits earned can be used towards a master’s program. For more information on the math endorsement, contact Melissa Garber:
  • Reading Endorsement: The reading endorsement is offered through Utah Valley University and can also be used towards a master’s program. For more information on the reading endorsement, contact Laury Finch:

Many universities around the area offer endorsement programs as well. Check their course catalogs for more information.

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The First Three Years Podcast

In this episode of The First Three Years, we will explore JPAS and how it can help you reflect on your teaching practices so you can set realistic goals for growth. We interview three JSD principals, Shawn McLeod, Kim Searle and Tami Bird, to get a principal’s perspective on how they use JPAS to help teachers thrive. 

As you receive your JPAS results; if you would like specific goal setting assistance please contact your school’s instructional coach or your mentor teacher specialists. We would be happy to help you.


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Half a year of teaching is complete; you have gone through the disillusionment phase, and now you are learning from your previous months of experience. Reflection begins and rejuvenation happens. You are in a busy but great moment!

How will you reflect, improve and change? You should reflect on what kind of learning has taken place with your students; does your data show the growth youhope they have experienced? Do you need to change or revamp the way you teach or do something? Could your classroom management be strengthened? Now is the time to evaluate and try something new. This is the joy of being an educator. We can always try something new and make it an adventure with our students. They are willing to help you become a successful teacher, and if you approach the changes you want to implement as changes that will help them be a more successful student, you should have positive feedback from your students. 

Don’t be afraid to fail; we grow from failure when we learn from our mistakes. It makes us stronger, resilient and better. An effective teacher is one who continues to learn, improve and change. Those who are the same throughout their career are not the innovative and dynamic teachers students seek to learn from. We wish you success in your career adventure!

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January is a good time to reflect on procedures in the classroom.  This can be an opportunity to reteach procedures to make the class run smoothly.

  1. Develop plan to get attention
  2. Develop plan to eliminate distractions
  3. Plan for classroom shakeup--CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY
  4. Find the right demeanor
    • Focus on being a mentor not a friend
    • Focus on being respected not being liked
    • Be kind (personable, nice, understanding)
    • Be firm (high expectations, deal with issues, don’t be a pushover)
  5. Execute classroom procedures
    • Give detailed instructions
    • Practice
    • Correct anything done wrong
    • Redo the practice
    • Deal with problems when small
    • Stay Consistent

If you feel that your classroom would benefit from a shakeup and want help, contact your building instructional coach or your mentor specialist.

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