3 Teacher Tips Thursday: Nov. 26th Edition

This week’s 5th edition of 3 Teacher Tips Thursday comes from TCDSB elementary teacher Merle Gonsalvez.

Below are 3 simple yet effective resources broken up into 3 categories:
– Great Ideas
– Online Tools
– Teacher PD

Enjoy 3 Teacher Tips Thursday. Hope you find it resourceful.


As a virtual teacher I know the struggle of sitting in front of a screen all day.  The one thing virtual students lack is socialization.  That’s why I consider “making school fun” one of my #1 priorities.  Enter weekly theme days

Every week (the day varies from week to week) students dress up according to the theme-of-the-day. Some past themes include: Crazy hat day. Facial hair day. Superhero day. Dr. Seuss day.

Another example is Twin Day. Not only was it fun, but it also encouraged students to socialize with a not-so-familiar classmate to organized what to wear (being online it was a student from another home school).

One pair dressed head to toe identically from the same hairdo to the same colour socks!  Do I get 100% participation?  Nope.  But that is out of my control. For those who did participate, it was a great way for them to socialize and get to know each other.

My favourite theme day so far has been Dress As Your Future Self Day.  We had nurses, teachers, an engineer and even a fashion designer. Since my students always joke that I’m an old geezer, I dressed up as “Grandma G”. 

 I stayed in character the whole day! It was rough on my voice but it made my students laugh a lot. One of my teaching philosophies is, “When in doubt, just have fun!”


As a virtual school teacher, there are so many things that are different. One of these things is photo day. It was sad thinking about class photo day and how we wouldn’t be together this year.

When I stumbled upon Pixton I knew I had to have it. Pixton is a paid membership that allows students to create their own comic strips using avatars.  It is well worth the money. 

Students have access to thousands of scenes and objects they can use to recreate points of a lesson, create their own storyboards for a play, make posters, and full blown comic strips.  In my two months of having a membership, my students have used it for 6 assignments so far and they love it.

Best of all, Pixton has a class photo option which brings all the avatars together.  You can even choose a custom background like a classroom, a beach, or even a safari.  Pixton is a great way to get students to be creative and the pre-made templates make it super easy to use.


One of the best ways to add to your teacher toolbox is to pick the brains of other talented educators. Teach Me Toolbox is a collaboration between myself and fellow TCDSB teacher Nick McCowan. It was created so we and other educators can share all the amazing things we do in our classrooms with other teachers. Sharing is caring right?!

Everyday we post practical tips you can use in class as well as reminders about why you became a teacher, because let’s be honest…it’s tough not to lose your spark in 2020!

Here’s some of our previous Instagram post.

To help spread Christmas joy, we are collaborating with Rainbows of Awareness and Teachers Meet Teachers to provide gifts and Christmas dinner to needy families within the TCDSB. Want to get involved? Follow @teachmetoolbox on Instagram or Twitter.  

About the author:

Merle Gonsalvez is an elementary teacher at the Toronto Catholic District School Board at St. Martin de Porres. This year she is teaching virtually at St. Anne Catholic Academy School of Virtual Learning.

Instagram: @merle_g16
Twitter: @MamaGLeadershp

I hope you enjoyed our fifth weekly edition of 3 Teacher Tips Thursday. Got a resource, idea, or PD opportunity you want to share? Email stefanie.lenzo@tcdsb.org.


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