Back to School Blog Hop: Tips, Freebies, and a Giveaway!

When the fabulous Christi Fultz started talking about a Back to School Blog Hop, I knew I wanted to be a part of whatever fun idea she had up her sleeve. 
I know many of you (gasp) are back in school already. I went back (sob) this past Wednesday. Our kids come on August 7th. I've been collecting Back to School ideas on this Pinterest board and I'm *almost* ready for Meet & Greet on Monday afternoon!
I'm starting the year without my favorite teaching partner. She just had the cutest baby ever, so she'll join me in October after her maternity leave is finished. Her sweet supply teacher is brand new to teaching and hasn't had too much experience in a low income, high ESOL school like ours. As I was thinking about the things I wanted to share with her, I realized there were more than a few things I wish someone had shared with me before I started teaching...
I know not every district has this kind of resource available, but it's worth checking out. We are a large school system with a huge array of ESOL students and families entering our schools every year. I make every effort to utilize our International Welcome Center when I need a major class form translated - welcome letters, supply lists, permission slips, etc. If I can't get it translated, then I try to schedule a conference with one of our system translators on hand. If all else fails, I ask the family to come in and bring a translator with them. Make every effort. Think about how frightening it would be to hand your children over to complete strangers every day that you struggle to communicate with. I am in awe every year of how much trust many of our families put in us. Don't take it for granted - do everything you can (within reason) to make sure they feel included! 
Along those same lines, if you work in a low income area don't assume that all of your parents know how to read and write. It doesn't matter if they speak English or not! I've made that mistake at least once, and I don't ever want to make it again. I try to include images and visual aids whenever I can. Since Meet & Greet is the first time I see many of our parents, I always include as many pictures as possible on whatever paperwork I send home. It is also translated in English and Spanish as much as possible. Last year, I had a little girl arrive from Haiti and at the last minute I was able to send off our letters to get translated into French Creole. She took her paperwork home a few days later than her classmates, but her sweet mama was so appreciative!!
supply list in English and Spanish with visuals
I am also excited to share this *limited time* freebie with you! 
I started playing around with QR codes this summer and managed to come up with some reward cards to go with our Homeworkopoly game. I have an old iPhone I'm going to bring in so the kids can scan the codes to see their prizes for Chance and Computer Cards. 

There are 20 cards - with and without QR codes -  that you can use in your own room. I tried to include as many rewards as possible. I would love to hear from you if you think of one that is missing. You can leave your suggestions in the comments below and I'll add them as soon as I can! Our first day of school is Wednesday, so I'm not making any promises! :)
I'm only leaving this product free until Thursday night, so please grab it while you can! 
Now hop on to Lynn's fantastic blog - Fun in the Fours - to grab your next set of tips and freebies! 
Make sure you go all the way around and enter our HUGE giveaway at the end!