Time Management Tips for Remote Teaching

This school year is NO JOKE. At my school some teachers are doing hybrid teaching, but two at each grade level are teaching fully remotely. After doing fully remote teaching last spring, I have done a lot of troubleshooting with how to manage my time. To help, I have some time management tips for remote teaching (but can really be applied to a hybrid model too or "traditional teaching".

Time Management Tips

Limit Phone Usage

I know, you think that you won't be on your phone that much if you are teaching remotely, but you'd be surprised. Sure, we are not going be looking at Instagram when we are live with our students, but those notifications are hard to ignore when texts come in. Also, my texts show up on my smart watch now! Consider turning those off if you have a watch like mine. And consider placing your phone out of reach, away from your work web cam. During your prep time, if you really need to concentrate and plan / get things done, you can turn off your phone, put it on airplane mode, or even in another room. I have done it and it helps! If you're worried someone will have an emergency and call you, they won't but , set a timer for 15-20 minutes and do a quick 'Did anyone call with an emergency?' check and then get back to planning.

Plan When to Check E-mail

Choose only specific times of day to check email! I did this even when I was a classroom teacher in traditional times. If you have notifications on your laptop for email, turn those off, so when you are looking at assignments in Google Classroom, you don't need to worry. if you're an early riser, maybe check email first thing and get it over with, but if you get going just in time to log on for your first session, trying checking email for the first time at snack or "recess". Planning another time to check again , or even twice more may be wise. I know classroom teachers in my school get dozen of emails, many from parents alone. I'd recommend, unless you don't get stressed by email, to not check it after dinner or late at night if you can avoid it! Here is my email routine from the spring:
  1. First thing in the morning
  2. After morning RTI sessions
  3. After afternoon RTI sessions 
And that's it. I'd take action right away or delete emails that didn't relate to it and move on.

Organize your Schedule

Pick a place to keep all your scheduled classes/log on times - maybe Google calendar, the notes app on Apple devices or a paper and pencil planner...I find the calendar in Google very handy because we use Google Meet so often the links to meets were right in there too! Some teachers love using traditional planners and keep their links for zoom or google meet on a note on their laptop/computer or in a Google doc. Whatever works for you. But find a way to keep everything straight!

Use Templates and/or Repeated but Varied Assignments 

Use templates so that you do not have to make 35 different activities a week! Seriously!The second grade  Journeys resources I created have a lot of templates that are an example of this. Each week students do activities with vocabulary words, but using the same or similar templates, so that I wasn't reinventing the wheel and students easily would know the directions from week to week. Check them out here if you want to take a look. 

I also did phonics patterns with Boggle board every week as a reading center. Something like this could be done on Seesaw or any learning platform. Use a blank board, enter your letters or words and keep the directions consistent. 

Stop working!

Clock off at a certain time. On remote days I could work all day and night so I promise myself to stop at 4pm. We know we are going to work on weekends, vacations and maybe an hour or two after dinner, so give yourself a stopping time in the late afternoon for your own mental health!

Let me know if you have an additional time management tip for remote teaching and I will add it ! And if it is all just too stressful and you need to do some self care, check out my 7 Self Care Tips for Teachers post here.

Books to use for Teaching Immigration

Books to use for Teaching Immigration

I'm here today to share with you some wonderful books to use for teaching immigration! Immigration is a dense topic but at my school in Massachusetts, it is required to be taught in second grade. I spent many years looking for high quality, helpful trade books to support my students.

Here are some of my favorites!

Non Fiction

Coming to America by Betsy and Guilio Maestro   is a book I often start with when opening my immigration unit! It covers a lot and I usually need to read it in two sessions but it really helps explain many facets of immigration to America in the 1800s.
Kids are really into the Who Was/What Was series so this one is a great addition to your classroom library if you have fans! Even a lot of my second graders could read and enjoy this one.

How old does it make me sound if I admit  this series was kind of new when I started teaching in 1998? Anyway, it still comes in handy to answer questions that come up. The book is split into chapters titled with questions like "What if your name was changed at Ellis Island?" or "Why was Ellis Island opened?"
This is a helpful book that most of your students will be able to read. You can also read parts or all of it out loud to help with important topics!
Now I want to be 100% transparent with you and tell you I don't have this book (yet), but Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers has been described as a "fascinating and fun take on non-fiction". If, like first grade teachers at my school, you need to teach about American symbols, this is a great book to share!


Let's talk about some wonderful fiction! Dreamers is a book that we read two years ago about a young mother immigrating by foot to the USA. Now, this doesn't really fit in if you need to focus on immigration in the 1800s but it's  an important, pertinent, and special story. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is inspiring.

Patricia Polacco books are always a home run! Fiona's Lace is a beautiful story that resonates with me because many of my own ancestors immigrated to the United States of America from Ireland.
 When Jessie Came Across the Sea is a terrific choice to teach about immigration in a way that will interest your students - it teaches while telling a historical fiction tale. Jessie is a teenage girl that crosses the Atlantic on a ship with her two younger brother. She makes her way in New York City and is able to honor and keep her family traditions from her old country.
Finally, this book is award winning and especially perfect if you teach older students (probably 4th grade and up as a read aloud, or independent reading for middle school). This doesn't take place during the 1800s but instead during the Great Depression and Esperanza must try to make her way in a California labor camp for Mexican.


If you're looking for teaching resources and curriculum,  I created immigration resources that teachers can use with second, third, and fourth graders. It was just right for my students and it may help you!
Immigration unit for second, third and fourth graders! Helpful, accessible curriculum

So what would you recommend? Are there any other books to use for teaching immigration? Let us know and we will reshare! 

                                                  Books to use for teaching immigration

What are Digital Task Cards?

Task cards, the classroom favorite for many teachers during the last 5-7 years, have gone digital. I have actually been creating and using Digital Task Cards for several years but with the school closures in March, teachers everywhere have been trying them. But  what if you aren't familiar with them and you're asking what are digital task cards?

Should I be using them? Are they user-friendly and will they help me? I have the answers to your questions here!



Think traditional task cards, but take them off the paper and put them into Google so that they don't have to be printed.

Here's what printable and digital task cards look like compared to each other:


With digital task cards, there is no printing, no cutting and laminating, no worry about storage: you just add the file to Google Classroom or Canvas, etc and that's it. Save paper and time!


That's right - if it is digital, you don't have to be concerned about touching papers that might have germs on them. You don't have to "air out" papers for 72 hours (or six days like my school)! Students use the digital task cards from home or on their 1:1 device and you don't have to touch anything they touched!


You know when students use paper task cards and come interrupt you to tell you, "We can't find card 6" or they have blank spaces on their answer sheet, so you have to follow up. When you do, kids tell you "We couldn't find those cards". With digital task cards they are all in one file!


Digital task cards can be used at school on 1:1 devices, during math centers, for hybrid learning, remote learning / distance learning and more! I have even had a student tell me they went on their device in the car and did some! They can be used on iPads, desktops, chrome books... and in Google and even other platforms like Canvas and Edmodo!


Student love digital task cards and often ask me for more! They will work hard and put out good effort because they are interested and engaged!


My digital task cards are for elementary school students. By using them, they are also working on developing technology skills such as clicking, dragging, keyboarding, manipulating track pads, clicking links, and more (don't forget the magic undo button)!


If you have heard of Boom cards, they are also digital task cards and you can read all about them on this blog post here!


Here are a few favorites of my digital task cards! You can find tons more on Teachers Pay Teachers at my shop and many others!

So know do you know the answer to what are digital task cards? With all of the options, there really is no reason not to try them! What is your favorite thing about using them?