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Back to School Tips and Tricks for Teachers

Back to School Tips and Tricks for Teachers

To kick off a new school year, the Kiddom Success Team has put together some recommendations to help you start the semester strong. These back to school tips and tricks will help you and your students engage and get ready to tackle another year!

Tip #1: Create a Getting to Know You Survey

Investing time in getting to know your students early in the school year is essential for building strong relationships that allow students to take academic risks and encourage open, honest feedback. What better way than creating a survey that invites students to express who they are, in their own words?

You can also align your survey to any of the CASEL standards for social emotional learning — we suggest the competencies that measure Self-Awareness and Relationship Skills. This will start a dialogue that welcomes students to express themselves early and often.

Create a survey using Kiddom's Google Drive integration

Using our Google Drive integration, you can create a survey in Google Docs and share it with your students in Kiddom. They’ll each receive a private, personal copy organized automatically in a Kiddom folder in your Drive. Our assignment settings make it easy to share this without it counting towards a grade to ensure that students aren’t afraid to be honest.



Add SEL standards and start a dialogue early

Using Kiddom for Teachers, you can select from the provided CASEL standards, or create your own custom SEL standards to measure SEL progress from day 1. Once students have submitted their responses, you can comment directly on the Google Doc or use Kiddom’s commenting features to start a dialogue that will last all year. 

Ross Wisser

Ross Wisser

School Outreach and Research, Kiddom

Obsessed with talking to schools and districts to find out what they need. Former professional tennis coach/guru. Takes all things related to the University of Michigan and the Detroit Red Wings WAY too seriously.

Tip #2: Plan Backwards — Even for Personalized Instruction

Sometimes we see teachers experiencing burnout from all of the lesson planning in the first few weeks back, especially when it comes to personalizing for students with different learning levels. Rather than do it all at once, you can break this into two tasks to make the process far less exhausting.

First, build out the scope and sequence. It’s good to start with the overarching plan that you can come back to when you have more time to fill in the details. Using Kiddom’s Planner (always free for teachers), you can get organized early with a great view of what’s to come, even if you aren’t ready to add resources or lesson plans yet.

Next, plan multiple levels of resources into each lesson. Early in the school year, you might not know your students well enough to personalize too much yet, but at the very least you can plan ahead with this ability. so collaborators have access to varied resources that they can use to personalize for students. This way teachers can make the call on which might be best to assign for a student, which they can do so discretely and in a manner that wont embarrass students who might receive, for example, a lower-level reading resource than what their classmates receive. 

Build out the scope and sequence

Typically the “scope” is a detailed expectation of what is to be taught, and the “sequence” is the order in which lessons are expected to be taught. Using Kiddom, a curriculum director can build the “scope and sequence” units out into instructional days, and then share this with teachers to fill in on their own. This way they can let their teachers know which standards or content types to use in class.

Save multiple levels of resources into each lesson

You can create an assignment in an Assignment Group. This collection will be saved in your Planner, so you can easily drag and drop your classwork for each day whenever you’re ready to assign, without creating the assignment over and over again.

Within your Assignment Group, you can make an assignment for each day and attach content from the Content Library (or your own… or both!), standards, points/rubrics, and assignment type. Use your Assignment Group to group lessons, resources, videos, assignment types — whatever works best with how you’re organized. 

Nicole Plante

Nicole Plante

Support Specialist, Kiddom

Nicole Plante is a former middle and high school ELA teacher who received her B.A. in English (U.C. Berkeley), M.A. in English Education (CUNY-Brooklyn) and B.A. in Web Design & New Media (Art Academy, SF). At Kiddom, she is a Support Specialist who uses her experience and skills to support a diverse range of educators and students.

Tip #3: Assign Class Roles and Give Yourself a Break!

Clear and consistent routines and procedures can make or break classroom management systems. When I was an 8th grade teacher, I often wished I could multiply myself to get it all done. So I did!

I created a list of “class roles” for students to act on, such as homework recorderoffice assistant, and tech assistant. This gave them the chance to practice taking on more responsibility while freeing me to focus on instruction.

Not only do class roles give students greater agency — if done right, they can be an orderly foundation for your class culture.

How can I implement this in my class?

  1. Think of tasks students can carry out to help the flow of the day or period. You know your class and students best, but feel free to use our resource of possible class roles and descriptions.
  2. Create an assignment for each role in Kiddom. Write out the descriptions in student-friendly language so they will be able to understand the expectations when it is their turn. This could be alternated easily throughout the year by dragging and dropping assignments from your Planner.
  3. Go over the roles and expectations as you would routines and procedures. Depending on your students, you may need to model it, review it mid-year, or have them sign up. Ask them to master it and then teach the next student for you.

That’s it! Enable your students to contribute to the class and give yourself a break.

Create a Playlist of class roles using Kiddom

Create an Assignment Group of class roles that you can drag and drop into your Timeline and assign them to different students throughout the year.


Tip #4: Engage Students by Letting Them Choose Their First Assignments

It’s no secret that when we let students choose how they want to learn, they’re often more invested and engaged in the material. Bell work, exit tickets, and other re-engagement activities are a great start, but Kiddom’s K-12 Library lets you quickly and easily find exciting and engaging materials for all subjects that you can save into Assignment Groups using your Planner.

Giving students a varied list of assignments to choose from will help them engage in learning activities. But doing so early in the school year gives the added bonus of helping you learn about your students’ preferred learning styles.

Use Assignment Groups to bundle resources

You can create an Assignment Group to bundle resources within one assignment in Kiddom. This collection will be saved for reuse in your Planner, and you can easily drag and drop your classwork for each day whenever you’re ready to assign, without creating the assignment over and over again.

Within your Assignment Group, you can make an assignment for each day and attach content from the Content Library (or your own… or both!), standards, points/rubrics, and assignment type. Use your Assignment Group to group lessons, resources, videos, assignment types — whatever works best with how you’re organized. 

How to create an assignment from your Kiddom Planner

When you’re creating an assignment in your Playlist, click the Kiddom “K” logo to access our content library. With about 100,000 resources, we have exactly what you need: videos, interactives, practices, and more, for all subject areas.

Simply select your grade level, subject, and if you want, where you’d like to see the resources from or resource type. This will generate all of the content we have for your subject and grade. You can also use keywords like “American Revolution” or “Molecules” to narrow down your search. Preview the content to see if it’s the right fit and then click select to attach it to the assignment.


Shannon Doyle

Shannon Doyle

School Success Manager, Kiddom

Dedicated to making the adoption of new technology easy for administrators, teachers and students. Outside work, she enjoys traveling, trying new cuisine and discovering all the unique culture opportunities in NYC.

Tip #5: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel — Collaborate to Share and Refine Your Best Lesson Plans

If you already have a lesson plan you used last year, or you have colleagues teaching the same subject, why not share your lesson plans with them to give them a head start? 

This could be especially helpful for first-year teachers, or colleagues who are new to teaching your subject. But it could also help you refine your own practice, as you pick up tips and suggestions from others teaching from the same plans.

Sharing lesson plans with others helps build your teaching community and ensures the most engaging lessons come to surface, so that they can be repeated and refined, year after year.

Share your saved lessons with Kiddom Planner

Planner is where you plan out your assessments or lesson plans, so this is where all of your assignments live before you assign to students.

Using Kiddom, teachers have the option to give collaborator teachers view only or edit access, so teachers can share their most engaging lessons and lesson plans  — this allows multiple teachers to save their best resources year after year.

More Teaching Resources

What People Are Saying

“Kiddom is great for assessing data and then assigning appropriate work based on individual student performance. I love that it's very easy to attach standards and rubric to every assignment.”

Jackie Curts, Middle School Teacher

“Using Kiddom has made me stop and ask ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’”

Ann Leghorn, High School Literacy Specialist

“I can see where my class and any student is at any moment in their educational journey. This way I can take action to assist them to work towards mastery.”

Mr. Albrecht, High School Teacher

My Dinner with Betsy

My Dinner with Betsy

Friday morning, I woke up, fed my kids breakfast, drank a large glass of water and went to the gym. A pretty typical day at my house, but when I walked outside, noticed that it was much colder than usual. On the drive to the gym, the sky was filled with dark clouds, through which slips of red sun peaked through. It was ominous. I don’t know if that was a harbinger of what was to come when I was to meet with the Secretary of Education, or just Fall in Seattle. Either way, I didn’t like what I saw.

In February, Betsy Devos, was appointed the US Secretary of Education, even though she has no background in education, except giving money to organizations that are homophobic, or anti- union, or anti public school, or all of the above. Her big thing is school choice, which is the push for students to be able to choose what schools they attend. While it makes sense that students not be relegated only to the schools in the zip code, her desire for school choice is actually an extension of Jim Crow.

History lesson!!!

School choice has its origins in white supremacy. After Brown vs the Board of Education, many schools in the South still refused to integrate their schools. To get around integration, school districts would use the vouchers that were provided, to send only white students to private schools. The black students would be denied vouchers. In Virginia’s Prince Edward County, in fact, they even managed to close the entire public school system, making it extremely difficult to get an education, if you were black. Black families that had the means to do so, moved to northern states, but those that could not, cobbled together a form of home schooling, or, in most cases, were forced to leave the school system permanently. It wasn’t until 1980 that the private schools decided to allow black students to attend. The Fuqua Academy, as it was called, only did so, so they could keep their non-profit status. The result was that only 1% of the Fuqua student body was black, though the black population of Prince Edward County was almost 40%.

In 2013, the black student body still only made up 5%, or 17, of the 363 students. Virginia was not alone, and during the 50s and 60s, white students left the public school system, to enroll in private institutions, using federal and state vouchers. In 1990, Alabama was recognized as having the greatest educational inequities, disproportionately impacting black students and students with disabilities. It was to be resolved in the state courts, but was blocked by the state attorney general. That person is now the US attorney general, and his name is Jeff Sessions. The same Jeff Sessions who reversed a policy to allow transgender students to use the school bathrooms that fit their gender identity. He also says the Department of Justice will no longer protect gay or transgender students from workplace discrimination, and that he will not seek federal oversight on police departments suspected of abuse.

But I digress…

Today, the school voucher system, promoted by Secretary Devos, targets low income students, yet some districts place no barrier on financial means. Of the students receiving school vouchers, 60% of them are white, while only 12% of students receiving vouchers are black. In 2013, those numbers were 46% and 24% respectively, so the gap has actually widened. As reported by the Century Foundation, the students that benefit mostly from school choice, are the advantaged students that are eligible, whom tend to be middle class and white. The voucher system has effectively made economic segregation increase, which is the exact opposite of its intentions, yet it is where education reformists, like Devos, tend to hang their hat.

Friday afternoon, I took my kids to the playground, in the hopes of letting them blow off steam. Also, I was afraid they were going to kill each other. There was no school and they were getting a little cabin feverish. At the playground, they had fun, and I enjoyed watching them play, in a way, only children can play: without abandon. It was still chilly and overcast outside, but I was looking forward to my dinner with Devos.

The 1000 seat dinner was to be thrown by the Washington Policy Center(WPC), a non-profit, think tank that promotes sound public policy based on free-market solutions. The WPC has been around for years and they have a large base of supporters, that come from across the entire state of Washington. The WPC focuses on solving problems with the environment, agriculture, healthcare, education, and more. The one commonality is that all of their solutions are free market based. Free market is another word for capitalism, and, as we know, capitalism is all about making that “skrilla.”

My kids and I walked back home, ate some snacks, and then I changed clothes. The dinner was labeled as “business attire,” so I had to break out my flyest gear, and put on a tie. Looking like the black Mr Rogers, with a deconstructed Afro, I jumped in my car, turned up the Led Zeppelin, and drove to Bellevue. Where else in western Washington, but Bellevue, would someone attend an event honoring Betsy Devos?

I arrived at the Bellevue Hyatt, to see several hundred people protesting the arrival of Secretary Devos. Signs ranged from the punny “IKEA has better cabinets,” to the plaintive “Fully Fund Education.” I also a couple signs that were basically just expletives. I understand their sentiments, but they lacked originality, or focus, which ended up taking away the potency of the protest.


New Secretary, Who Dis?


I took a few pictures, fist bumped some protestors, and headed towards security. To my surprise, I entered the hotel and walked to registration, without any trouble. I was repeatedly asked if I was here for the event, by different police officers, but when I told them, “yes,” they pointed me in the right direction. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the venue was that this was a very well organized event. I got my name tag and table number within seconds, with clear signage for the bathrooms, coat check, and beverages. The second thing I noticed was that the beverages were cash only. The least expensive ticket was $350, and for that amount of money, I would have liked a complimentary Coke. But, like I said, it’s about that skrilla.

I was on the early side, and walked around to read some of the literature. There were pamphlets discussing the need for transparency in how the state uses money for transportation related issues, and the need for us to reduce carbon emissions to create a greener environment. I read about the need to protect our agricultural workers and the need for more local control of government spending. I read many statements that rang true and fact based articles that supported the positions espoused by the WPC.

An hour passed while I was reading, and no one spoke to me. To be fair, I also didn’t seek conversation with anyone else. As I was taking notes about what I was reading, a woman walked up to me and asked me if I was a reporter. She didn’t say hello, or greet me, in any way. She just abrasively asked if I was a reporter. I told her “no, I’m an educator.”

“Oh. Ok. I just wanted to see if you were a reporter.


“Have a good day.”

“Ok. You too.”

I don’t know what to make of that interaction, but I’m happy she spoke to me. It made me look up from my reading, to notice that more people had arrived. As I looked around, I noticed that I was one of three faces of color. This is Bellevue, but I was still a bit surprised. I kept walking around and began to examine the other attendees. They were mostly people of my age, or older. Definitely white and definitely middle to upper class. There were some young people present, that were members of the Young Americans group, who were to attend the dinner in the next room. Devos was to speak to them after speaking with the older folks, like me. That dinner was for those under the age of 39.

“Are you also alone?”

“I’m sorry? Oh, yes, I am”

A gentleman of about 65 and his daughter approached me and we began to talk about how we didn’t know anyone at the event. They were a nice twosome and quite friendly. During our conversation, they asked why I had never been to an event before. I told them I had recently moved from New York, and was relatively new to the Washington Policy Center. The gentleman looked at me, and asked about rubber rooms.

“Well, they closed I think.”

“Still, the fact that they existed makes no sense!”

“I agree.”

“Why they can’t fire teachers that are useless, is beyond me.”

It was at this point that I realized why the anti union argument was gaining traction, with WPC and organizations like WPC. Rubber Rooms were rooms that teachers, that have been, or will be disciplined, must go to, while they are waiting for a decision about how to handle their cases. The Rubber Room is basically a purgatory sentence for classroom teachers, and to my knowledge, only existed in New York City. The teachers receive a full salary, must sit in that room for an entire school day, without leaving, save for lunch and bathroom breaks, until a decision has been made, on whether or not, they can go back to class. That may be a week, a month, a year, and some cases, close to a decade. If a teacher is accused or misconduct or incompetence, they go to the Rubber Room. This practice supposedly ended years ago, but I can see why it frustrates most people. I also understand how this practice is associated with teachers’ unions. However, many teachers are exonerated, and the process is supposed to be less than 30 days. It is equally important that we understand that this happened in NYC and is not representative of all teachers or unions or all school administrations across the country.

The gentleman’s daughter left for the bathroom, and he told me that his grandchild, his daughter’s kid, suffers from seizures. The seizures prevent the girl from attending a public school that can meet her needs, so she attends school online, which is supported by school vouchers. His complaint was that Washington state doesn’t do enough for parents. Whenever school choice is debated, I hear stories like this family’s story. I get asked how I can be against charter schools and vouchers, when I hear stories like this one. My answer is simple:

I am not against school choice.

A parent or guardian should have every right to choose the school that best fits the needs of their child. Zip code or wealth shouldn’t dictate the educational tract of a person. It is a choice that a family makes for their family. The government, nor I, nor anyone should make that choice for anyone else. In my many years as an educator, I have worked at traditional public schools, charter schools, private schools, and religious- based institutions. Although I may like some places more than others, it was always about the students and responding to the culture of the youth being served. The question we should be asking ourselves is not “is school choice the answer?” The question is: “why are people so invested in school choice?”

Economics Lesson!!

The Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000 provided tax incentives to businesses that are located in, and hire residents of, economically depressed urban and rural areas. Most charter schools are in lower income neighborhoods serving mostly students from that area. Businesses that invest in charter schools can double their investment in seven years. The number seven is important because the tax incentives last for seven years, before they expire. In order to keep receiving tax breaks, businesses diversify their portfolios by building more and more charter schools in those areas. Of course with the influx of money, comes the prestige associated with money, which leads to gentrification, which leads to why more wealthy white students go to charter schools, than the students that are meant to be served. In effect, charter schools are one of the leading cause of gentrification, and wealth disparity.

All about that skrilla.

The doors open and I sit down at my table, next to an older white couple. We greet each other and I also say hello to the other 7 people at my table. Everyone is white, except me. They are all smiles, so I smile back. The older couple to my left ask what brings me to the event.

“I wanted to hear Devos speak.”

“Do you like what she has to say?”

“No, but I’m willing to listen.”

“What do you do, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“I’m an educator.”



“Retired police officers.”

Of course, I would sit next to two police officers, at a Betsy Devos event, surrounded by 900 white people.

“Why don’t you like school choice?”

“I’ve got nothing against school choice, but it’s not the answer to solving the problems with education.”

“Yes, we need more teachers working on the bad behavior of students. Those kids won’t learn any other way.”


“Don’t you agree?”

“Absolutely not, the answer isn’t discipline. First we must understand the needs of students and meet those. If we look at the maladaptive behaviors of young people and blame them, because their maslovian needs aren’t met, then our education will continue to operate a system with opportunity gaps. We must look at the teacher training programs and how teachers are prepared to teach. We teach them in a 20th century modality, ignoring the 21st century world, in which we live. The curriculum doesn’t reflect the students being served. I don’t just mean students of color. I mean all students will benefit from having subjects taught in a manner more accepting of different cultures and perspectives. If we end white supremacy, we can solve education problems.”

“Well, I’m sure you know more than I do, about education.”

I apologized for my rant, and she said she appreciated it. It was the rare time I was able to speak with someone, in real life, that had completely opposing views than I. She began talking about her friend, who was a teacher, that was underpaid. She spoke about how Washington was great because it was so welcoming. It was a good conversation.

“Hello and welcome to the Washington Policy Center Annual Dinner!”

The evening’s emcee came out to wondrous applause. He made a joke about the hippies protesting and a joke about the Huskies. I didn’t understand what he was talking about, so I started to eat my salad. When I looked up again, everyone was standing for the Pledge of Allegiance. I stood up, clasped my hands behind my back, and looked at the 100 foot wide USA flag, that was the backdrop for the stage. When the Pledge finished, we all sat down. Then the emcee asked everyone to stand for the National Anthem.

I did not.

My table mates looked at me and then turned their heads. Everyone else sang the song, with hands over their heart. When I could see the stage again, Secretary Betsy Devos was standing at the podium, and addressed the audience.

I wish that I could say that she said something amazing, or that she said something completely onerous, but she did not. She spoke her speech and smiled, in a way only the very wealthy can smile: without joy. She spoke about three students (all of them were of color) that were able to choose their school. One of the three made a video that told the typical sob story of being poor, black, and uneducated, until she was given the opportunity to attend a charter school, where her life changed. She now works with Devos at the Department of Education.

The crowd roared with praise.

Secretary Devos spoke about how school choice saves lives and is the way to go. She said there was no “one size fits all” model for education, then she said school choice will improve education. Then she left the stage and went to the room next door, to speak with the Young Americans.

My cop neighbor table mate asked if I changed my mind about her. I told her I agree that there is no “one size fits all” model, but that school choice is wonderful for those that have the resources to choose a school. School choice is a band aid that only some people can have. The rest of society has to find other ways to cover their wounds.

Somehow, we started talking about police violence and she said that that doesn’t really happen, where she lives, in Kent. I looked at her wondrously. I asked her if she thought Black Lives Matter is anti-cop? She said yes. I talked about how black people were killed by police and we were only saying that our lives also matter. She said, again, that that wasn’t an issue in Washington. I spoke about the several police cases, in Washington, where cops have killed black people. She stared at me. It was at this exact moment where I felt like everyone in the room was also staring at me. My other table mates kept their backs to me, and I went to take a bite of my fish. Before I could a woman came onstage, to say a prayer. She was black which surprised me, but then I remembered how “we shole is gud at chu’ch,” and sat with my hands on my lap.

When the prayer ended, I took a bite of my food, looked at my watch, and excused myself from the table. Not one single person acknowledged that I was leaving. As I walked out, I heard the emcee talk, again, about hippies, but this time it was referencing how the Huskies were losing to those “hippies” at Berkeley.

When I got in my car, my shoulders relaxed. I drove out of the parking lot, playing an old A Tribe Called Quest song.

“Oh my god, yes oh my god

Oh my god, yes oh my god”

I couldn’t have said it better, Busta.

I got home and watched Dave Chapelle’s newest comedy special. I hugged my kids and kissed my wife. When I woke the next day, I grabbed my bag to head to the airport. Today was Saturday, and 45 youth and I were headed to Arizona for Macklemore’s concert.

But that’s another story…




By: James Miles

More Digital Teaching Resources at Your Fingertips

More Digital Teaching Resources at Your Fingertips

You might have heard that we recently tripled the teaching resources available to teachers in Kiddom’s Library. Not only are we excited, but we’d like to share our team’s favorite content providers. So without further ado…


Liz, Curriculum Specialist


Zearn: Elementary Math

LizAs an educator I am always looking for resources that are made with the student in mind. Zearn is that resource. They understand things about young children that a lot of us take for granted. The imagery is straightforward and easy to understand. The lessons are fun and engaging. They encourage student interaction, check for understanding and give corrective feedback so students can learn from mistakes. There are no flashing distractions or unnecessary components. The language used is student friendly and always has read aloud options. Zearn can be used as a full adaptive math curriculum that meets the students at their level or as targeted teaching opportunities to supplement a variety of other programs.


Kashon, Teacher Advocate


NextLesson: Math, ELA, Science, Social Studies K-12

Kashon: NextLesson is a great addition to the Kiddom Content Library. From the student’s perspective, you can select from a wide variety of subject matter that interest you, and share this with your teacher for more personalized assignments. From the educator’s perspective it’s a great tool to gauge a student’s personality type and find resources to engage them. You can also search lesson plans by aligned standards, giving teachers the ability to develop a child’s skill set within the parameters of their interests. They have great project based assignments that bring learning to life.


Amanda, Community Partnerships


IXL: Math & ELA PK-12, Science & Social Studies: 2–8

AmandaI can’t wait for teachers and students to experience what IXL brings to the classroom, catering to kids learning at different paces and on different levels. I was fortunate to find IXL in my third year teaching 6th grade Math. Students ranged in their mathematical ability from the elementary to high school level and I was determined to provide opportunities for kids who needed remediation andkids that needed a challenge. Incorporating IXL work-time in my classroom engaged my students at their appropriate level. I would select a number of lessons or topics for my students to explore and the IXL program monitored their progress, prompting students to move forward once mastery was reached or to practice more if they needed help. As the facilitator, I could see progress on each skill and provide small-group instruction for those students that got stuck within a concept. IXL provides immediate feedback, standards-aligned lessons, and more time for me to support students one-on-one.


Melissa, Professional Development


Listenwise: ELA, Social Studies, Science 6–12

MelissaAs a high school English and Social Studies teacher, it never made sense to me that students were only asked to analyze print texts on state exams. As an adult, I get news and entertainment across so many forms of media, including podcasts and audiobooks, and I deepen my understanding of new ideas through debate and discussion with friends and colleagues. That’s why I love Listenwise for using public radio podcasts to bring my students current events in an accessible, engaging format. It’s often hard for students to connect to faraway events they read about, so the varied perspectives from podcasts and interviews encourage empathy and critical thinking as students learn. Using audio sources also allows all of my students to access the same ideas and content, regardless of their reading levels, making it a great tool for differentiation. Listenwise also pairs graphic organizers and comprehension questions with their podcasts so that you can assess critical listening skills in addition to their silent reading comprehension. Easily keep your curriculum up-to-date with in-depth news stories and help your students become informed citizens.


Jessica, Curriculum Specialist


Everfi: Healthy Relationships, SEL 6–9

Jessica: I love a lot of content but I am very excited about Everfi because they offer resources for subjects and topics that are underrepresented in the digital world. I used the Healthy Relationships interactive modules in my health class to support students who struggled with conflict resolution, communication, and making decisions. The comic book style made the “true-to-life” scenarios more approachable for students who were not interested in role playing the situations in class. This resource is also great for people interested in covering Social Emotional Learning skills which have been in high demand. The greatest part is that this is all free. Soon, we also hope to share some of their other great life skills courses on Kiddom.


Shabbir, Support Analyst


TEDEd: Multi-Subject

Shabbir: I’m a visual learner with a variety of interests across all subjects and I could not be happier about the addition of TEDEd to the Kiddom library. TEDEd has videos curated for a wide variety of subjects, mostly geared towards an older student audience. TEDEd videos have a knack for being informative, but what makes them stand out are their engaging animations, pacing, and delivery. Maybe most important of all, many TEDEd videos have special guest speakers with expertise on the topic- so not only do students get exposed to information in a fun way, but now they are familiar with with some faces in the subject’s field. With TEDEd on your Kiddom utility belt you can assign engaging, personalized assignments, thoughtful remediation, and lessons that spark discussion and thoughtful dialogue.


Abbas, Chief Academic Officer


Desmos: Math 9–12

AbbasAs a former high school math teacher, I recognize it can sometimes be challenging to find opportunities to translate what’s being learned in the classroom to students’ lives. Sure, if we had more time to plan, we could probably come up with a plethora of creative projects and activities that help students understand how their daily lives are impacted by the mathematical concepts covered in class. Unfortunately, we aren’t always privileged with time to plan like this for every topic. Enter Desmos. Desmos connects a rich graphing calculator to engaging, real-world activities. These activities can instantly help your students engage with and connect more meaningfully with mathematical concepts. And don’t hesitate to roll your sleeves up and play along, they can get challenging.

We hope you’re able to find resources that support your classroom needs and love them as much as we do. If there’s a resource you’d like to see available in the Kiddom Library, let us know by tweeting at us or emailing us directly. Happy Teaching and Learning!

Written By: Jessica H.

4 Ways to Differentiate Instruction

4 Ways to Differentiate Instruction

Planning curriculum is a complex, ongoing project — teachers arrange their learning targets for the year into a scope and sequence, write daily lessons to scaffold instruction, and find content resources that align to the various levels and interests of all students. That’s a lot of heavy lifting.

Finding the right teaching resources online can be particularly challenging. There’s an endless supply of content and curriculum providers, and teachers have little time to comb through it all. That’s why we’ve been researching, vetting, and adding thousands of new resources to our library: to save teachers time. You already know teachers using Kiddom can access a comprehensive library of free resources and assign them instantly to students. Today, we tripled the size of that library, adding more content for more subjects across more grade levels. Yippee! 🤓

As an added bonus to teachers, resources assigned from select partners automatically transfer scores to your reports in Kiddom. That means more teachers will spend less time with data entry. Student progress will be imported into Kiddom, and your reports will be up-to-date.

Our library of teaching resources now includes a wider range of standards-aligned multimedia content and lesson plans. We’ve added a plethora of resources from new providers (IXL, LearnZillion, PBS LearningMedia, Newsela, and Desmos to name a few), and we’ve also added more resources from legacy providers (CK-12, Khan Academy, and CommonLit).

Of course, what good are resources if they aren’t supplemented with implementation strategies? Here are four ways to use these resources.


1. Remediate or Extend 🚀

Content providers like IXL, Khan Academy, and Desmos offer excellent practice videos, problem sets, and challenge problems for math skills across grade levels. Create a playlist of instructional videos from Khan Academy or practice sets from IXL for students who are struggling with a specific skill-set. Send challenge activities from Desmos to students who are ready to apply new skills to real-life problem sets and move them up Bloom’s taxonomy to higher levels of thinking.

2. Offer Multimedia Perspectives 🎧

With Listenwise, you can support literacy instruction and listening comprehension through audio resources. Listenwise has a library of podcasts that cover current events with depth and a range of perspectives to help students draw connections between themselves and the world. Pair these podcasts with articles on the same topic from Newsela to meet multiple learning styles. Newsela’s articles are available at multiple reading levels to ensure all students have access to the same information. Create rotating stations and have students read articles from Newsela, listen from Listenwise at each one ahead of a class discussion, or have students choose their own station based on learning preferences.

3. Integrate Social Emotional Learning 💛

Incorporate Everfi’s Healthy Relationships course into advisory, counseling, or homeroom to support your students in developing positive, appropriate relationships with peers and adults. This course is self-paced and interactive, including authentic videos with diverse perspectives. Use them in an advisory setting to guide discussions about community values and shared norms, or weave them into a literature unit to give students language to discuss interpersonal conflict in the stories they’re reading.

4. Mix and Match 📝💻

Curriculum is rarely one-size fits all — use our content library to find the best of the bunch for your students. Both Zearn and Khan Academy have resources and materials aligned to EngageNY modules. Pick the ones that work best for your students and build out a cohesive sequence of lessons. Search “EngageNY” in Kiddom’s content library to find Khan Academy’s EngageNY-aligned units labeled by module number and topic letter. All of Zearn’s materials are aligned to EngageNY — you can see an overview of their curriculum map, organized in the same way, here.


By: Melissa Giroux, School Success Lead

To learn more about Kiddom’s library, visit our help desk resource.

If you need more support, it’s no problem! Book a free 1:1 demo and we’ll walk you through how Kiddom can support your instructional practice.

There is Power in Art

There is Power in Art

I wake up and it is quiet

There’s no noises

The sunlight is peeking through the blinds of my bedroom window, where I see the wind ruffle the leaves of our magnolia tree.

I hear the wind, now, too.

Two hummingbirds are buzzing at the feeder suction cupped to my window. They rest and drink the sugary water and look at me through the window.

A crow caws as it flies past, and my wife rolls over in her sleep. The sound of her breathing is long and measured.

I wake up like this, everyday. It is extremely peaceful and the most relaxing thing I’ve ever experienced.

Yet, my heart is beating fast, very fast, like wings of the hummingbird outside of my window. There’s a knot of anxiety that refuses to dissipate. Something has a hold on my chest and my breathing is shallow. Why? What is making me feel this way, when I wake up in such an idyllic environment?

I pick up my phone that is next to me on my nightstand, and then I know why. Why I’ve felt this way for months, why I’ve felt uneasy since I moved from Brooklyn, to Seattle.

I feel unsafe. I feel that my life is threatened.

Scratch that.

I know that my life is threatened.

People are being murdered by the police, almost on a daily basis. The rights of gay and transgender people are being stripped away from them. Muslims are being targeted by bigots and denied entry into the “land of the free.” The education system is in shambles and young people are being terrorized by current policy. Teachers are devalued and deemed worthless; there are articles about teachers being replaced by AI. Artistic expression and creativity is shunned, but lies are universally accepted. The gap between the rich and poor is widening, as is the divide between black and white. Canada was on fire, and the smokescreen has made Seattle’s air quality akin to Beijing. White Supremacists are marching in Virginia, burning torches, and spreading vitriol, bolstered by a nation that has chosen hate as its form of expression.

Polar ice caps are melting and it is way too hot. Animals and trees are dying, and I’m laying in bed, and it is quiet and serene.

It’s feels like I’m lying in a coffin.

I know that I’m lucky, but I know my luck will end. Our luck will end. I wake up every day thinking today will be the day. The day that my life will be taken from me.

Then I remember

We are stronger together.

Out of darkness, there is light.

There is power in art.

After the dark ages in Europe, there was the renaissance. Because of da Vinci, we understood Flight.

After years of “let them eat cake,” we had the French Revolution and with it, folk tales from the Brothers Grimm and music from Mozart and Beethoven. Artists turning their fears and desires into children’s stories and complex musical notes.

After the Mexican Revolution, we saw the innovative period of Mexican Muralism, which brought us artists like Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Out of bloodshed and war, these muralists created images of family life and, of working class people, normally overlooked, in classical art.

During the Great Depression, there was also the Harlem Renaissance, highlighting Black artists of the 20s. From a time when people were grabbing pigeons out of the sky for dinner, Black artists were holding onto life, by reflecting what they saw in the world. There’d be no jazz, rock n roll, or hip hop without the Harlem Renaissance.

I wonder what art will spring forward based on the lives we live in 2017. How will the youth of tomorrow see the youth of today?




Written By: James Miles

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