Symbiosis Worksheet & Examples

If you’re looking for a symbiosis worksheet for your science classroom, scroll to the bottom of this page.

Symbiosis Definition

Symbiosis is defined as any natural relationship in which two species live closely together, often depending on one another for survival.

The 3 kinds of symbiotic relationships are as follows:

  • Mutualism: A relationship in which both species benefit.
  • Commensalism: A relationship in which one species benefits and the other is unaffected.
  • Parasitism: A relationship in which one species benefits and the other is harmed.

Symbiosis Examples

Mutualism Examples

Clown Fish & Sea Anemone
The sea anemone is poisonous to most fish, but clown fish are immune. This makes the anemone a perfect home for the clown fish. In exchange, the fish cleans the anemone of algae and chases off any fish who may eat it.

mutualism examples

Bees & Flowering Plants
Bees provide a service for the flowers by pollinating them, and in exchange the flower produces a sugary nectar for the bees.

mutualism examples

Ants & Aphids
Ants are essentially farmers are they protect the aphids and provide them nutrients in exchange for the sugary food that the aphids produce.

mutualism examples
Commensalism Examples
commensalism examples

Spiders & Trees
Spiders depend on trees to provide a location for their webs, but the tree is completely unaffected by this interaction.

commensalism examples

Hermit Crabs & Dead Mollusks
Species with shells decompose after they die, but their shell lives on. A hermit crab may find the shell and make it their home, but obviously the mollusk is unaffected.

commensalism examples

Cattle & Egrets
Egrets eat the bugs that come up as they are disturbed by the grazing of the cattle. The cattle do not benefit from this relationship, nor are they harmed.

Parasitism Examples

Dogs & Fleas
Fleas bite dogs and feed on their blood, this irritates and causes harm to the dog.

parasitism examples

Mosquitoes & Humans
Mosquitoes bite and feed on the blood of humans, causing itching and irritation.

parasitism examples

Aphids & Plants
Aphids feed on plants, damaging them as they do so.

parasitism examples

Symbiosis Worksheets

symbiosis worksheets

Symbiosis Guided Reading Worksheet

This resource is great for introducing, reteaching, or reviewing the different kinds of symbiotic relationships. Students are given examples and will determine if each is mutualism, commensalism, or parasitism.

Get it directly from me or through TPT.

symbiosis worksheets

Symbiosis Color by Number Worksheet

Classify examples of symbiosis and color based on your answer with this fun resource!

Get it here.

symbiosis worksheets

Symbiosis Cut & Glue Activity

With this resource, students will cut apart 25 squares and use logic and problem solving skills to reassemble them in such a way that only matching answers touch.

Get it here.

symbiosis worksheets

Symbiosis One Pager

This resource is great for review! Students can freely fill in their own notes and summaries of each kind of symbiotic relationship as well as doodle in the images provided.

Get it here.

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Easy to Use Distance Learning Resources for Science

We all thought that with a little bit of diligence, the pandemic would be finished by now. But here we are, and school is starting again amid a massive aura of uncertainty and fear. Should we prepare to teach online or in person? Or are we preparing for a blended model? Whatever your district decides, I’m here to share some easy to use distance learning resources for your middle or high school science class to ease the burden.

Lessons

distance learning resources science
We used Nearpod with the Water Cycle, and the kids had a blast with the draw feature.

When it comes to whole group teaching during distance learning in my science class, Nearpod was the ticket. With this free platform, you can upload any presentation you already have in PowerPoint format. Then, you can edit it to make it a lot more interactive than it was before.

To give you an idea of the kinds of interactive features you can add to your old presentations, Nearpod includes:

  • Free draw with prompt (great for vocabulary and internal summaries)
  • Polls
  • Multiple choice questions
  • Matching
  • Long form free writes

In the spring, I tried to add an interactive element every couple of slides to make sure that my students were still engaged and to give them an opportunity to ask questions, check for understanding, or to simply give them a chance to express themselves (one of the biggest things I miss after transitioning to distance learning).

Homework

For homework, because focusing during a virtual lesson is really tough, I liked to reiterate the days learning with a guided reading. That way they have all the information they need at their fingertips to review and refresh.

I have created a catalog of over 50 of these resources, all coming in both printable PDF format and in a Google Slide version. If you decide to use PDFs for assignments with your students, you can have them download Kami, a Google Chrome extension that allows students to fill in PDFs. Personally, I prefer the Google Apps because they are easier to check when students submit them back to Google Classroom.

Here’s an example of one guided reading on the scientific method:

distance learning resources science
distance learning resources science
distance learning resources science

Get it directly from me or through TPT. You can also shop my entire collection of these Google Classroom friendly resources to find more great topics like the water cycle, antibiotic resistance, friction, chemical reactions, and much more.

Try my States of Matter resource for free, and get more free resources by subscribing:

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Games

If you’re like me, the saddest part of distance learning is definitely the lack of authentic interactions with students. Skribblio quickly became a favorite of ours when we needed to spend some time relaxing and enjoying one another’s company.

distance learning games

To play, you as the teacher can easily set up a room and get a sharable link that you can send to your students through whatever platform your school uses. The students will join in, and from there it’s basically Scrabble. Everyone gets a turn to draw from a selection of 3 secret words, and the rest of the group guesses. To sweeten the deal, you can even choose your own words to make this into a fun vocabulary review game!


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distance learning resources science

Carbon Cycle Worksheet & Presentation

Look no further! Your carbon cycle worksheet and teaching presentation are here! These easy to use and check activities cover all the major vocabulary your students will need to master the carbon cycle.

Topics include:

  • Carbon in Living Things
    Did you know that you’re made of carbon? Carbon is an essential element for biology because of its ability to bond in four directions. This fact makes all kinds of three dimensional organisms possible.
  • Greenhouse Effect
    The greenhouse effect is more important than ever as our planet begins to experience the adverse affects of global warming. There is more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than ever as we continue to burn through fossil fuel reserves.
  • Respiration/Photosynthesis
    These processes are perfectly balanced to exchange carbon and oxygen between organisms. Plants play an essential role in absorbing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but can they keep up with our demands?
  • Fossils Fuels
    Fossil fuels contain the energy of long lost organic matter. They release massive amounts of energy when burned, and for that reason our society has become dependent. We use fossil fuels for everything from electricity to powering our aircraft. But with every gallon of oil we burn, we release more carbon into the air. This contributes to the greenhouse effect.
  • Industrial Emissions/Combustion
    Industries relying on fossil fuels continue to emit carbon dioxide into the air, warming our planet. Can trees and other plants absorb it fast enough to save us from major climate change?
  • Diffusion
    Carbon can also be removed from the air when it diffuses into the ocean. There it can be absorbed by photosynthetic algae.
carbon cycle worksheet

Carbon Cycle Worksheet

Teach the Carbon Cycle with this easy to use and check activity covering all the major introductory vocabulary. This resource has 2 pages of information and 2 pages of activities for students. A reading introduces important vocabulary. Students are then able to answer comprehension questions.

Get it here.

carbon cycle presentation free

FREE Carbon Cycle Google Slides Presentation

The best things in life are free! Grab the presentation that corresponds to the carbon cycle worksheet above by clicking the link below. All you have to do after you access the file is make a copy and then it’s yours to keep and edit as you please.

Get it here.

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States of Matter Worksheet

MS-PS1-4 Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature, and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.

Get it free here.

Introduce States of Matter with this easy to use and check worksheet. Students will do a quick 2 page reading and complete 3 activity pages using the information they have learned.

Vocabulary covered includes:

  • matter
  • solid
  • liquid
  • gas
  • heat
  • melting
  • freezing
  • condensation
  • evaporation

Approximate Reading Level: 4-8th Grade

Uses for this resource:

  • Ready to print Sub Plans
  • Flipped Classroom pre-reading
  • Whole or small group opportunity to model and teach Close Reading strategies and annotation
  • Differentiation – assign this reading only to students who have been identified as requiring reteaching
  • Differentiation – assign graphing extension only to students who are identified as above grade level
  • Interactive Notebooks: Print 2 pages in one and cut apart. Glue mini pages into notebooks with room for annotations on the side
  • Interactive Notebooks: Print entire PDF as a mini booklet and add to notebooks using these simple instructions.
  • Creation of Independent Work Packet for students who are not able to be present for direct instruction.

Download includes a printable PDF file in black and white (doodle friendly!) and color with answer key. On page 2 of this resource you will find a link to a student friendly Google Slide version of this file. You will be able to copy this file and use it with Google Classroom or any other paperless initiative.

If you enjoy this resource, consider checking out some of my other guided readings! Or submit a request for a topic you’d like to see in a future product.

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states of matter worksheet PDF

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Weather Worksheets for Middle School

If you’re looking for printable or Google Classroom weather worksheets for your middle school lessons, scroll to the bottom of this page.


For middle school, the NGSS weather standards are as follows:

MS- ESS2-5 Collect data to provide evidence for how the motions and complex interactions of air masses result in changes in weather conditions.

MS- ESS2-6 Develop and use a model to describe how unequal heating and rotation of the Earth cause patterns of atmospheric and oceanic circulation that determine regional climates.

MS- ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.


Weather Worksheets

weather worksheets water cycle

The Water Cycle

This guided reading covers everything your students need to know about the water cycle. I find that a lot of the available resources on the water cycle are too simple for middle school, so I created this one to be a bit more advanced. As a bonus, this resource is also completely Google Classroom friendly as it comes with a Google Slides version of the PDF file.

Get it here.

weather worksheets density

Density Virtual Lab

When it comes to teaching weather, there’s no way around density. This PhET sim gives students a great intro to the topic as they explore the idea that objects of similar size can have very different weights.

Get it here.

weather worksheets fronts

Fronts Foldable

Great for interactive notebooks or as a simple review, this foldable will allow students to summarize their learning on the 4 major weather fronts.

Get it here.

weather worksheets weather prediction

Weather Prediction Task Cards

Challenge your students to combine their knowledge about air masses and weather in order to make predictions. These task cards come with a student sheet and answer key.

Get it here.

weather worksheets wind

Wind – Color by Number

Use this color by number as a sub plan, chill day, or even as an assessment.

Get it here.

 weather worksheets weather fronts

Fronts Clipart

If you’re planning to create your own weather worksheets, grab this set of front clipart in both color and print or doodle friendly black and white.

Check it out here.

Additional Weather Resources:

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One Pager Science

I love to use one pager science activities to help my students review key takeaways from lots of different topics! In this activity, students are tasked with the problem of fitting all the essential information related to a topic onto the front of one page, ideally in an aesthetically pleasing way. It’s a great way to incorporate design, creativity, and color into your classroom.

Tips for Incorporating One Pager Science into Your Next Lesson

Although it would be fun to eventually build students up to the point that they can design and create their own one pager from scratch, I’d recommend beginning with some templates available on TPT. This way, students can begin to catch on to the main idea behind the activity: creating a well organized summary sheet within the confined space.

Shop my complete collection of one pager science. Each resource is only $1.

After your students have caught on to the purpose behind the one pager, challenge your most artistically inclined students to design their own for topics you’ve discussed as a form of differentiation. This is also a great assignment for early finishers.

Students who work more slowly or need more scaffolding can still be given templates.

For a fun infusion of technology, consider allowing students to use online design programs like Canva. I’m not at this level in my own class yet, but I think it would be amazing to play around with iPads and apple pens to create one pagers in Adobe Illustrator or other great drawing apps.

Take a look at a couple examples to get inspired!

Sample One Pagers

science tools one pager science

Get this science tools template here.

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symbiosis one pager science

Get this symbiosis template here.

energy one pager science

Get this energy template here.

mitosis one pager science

Get this mitosis template here.

meiosis one pager science

Get this meiosis template here.

inheritance one pager

Get this FREE Inheritance One pager template here.

CER one pager template

Get this FREE CER One pager template here.


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Genetic Disorder List

Below you’ll find a list of common genetic disorders. These include both gene and chromosome disorders. Some of these disorders are inherited from parents, while others are a result a mutation within a single individual. Scroll down to read more.

List of Common Genetic Disorders

1. Angelman Syndrome/Prader-Willi Syndrome – An uncommon inherited disorder characterized by mental retardation, decreased muscle tone, and life-threatening obesity. When this genetic mutation is inherited from the mother, Angelman Syndrome arises which causes neurological problems including jerky movements and spontaneous laughter.
2. Canavan Disease – A degenerative disorder that causes progressive damage to nerve cells in the brain.
3. Cancer – Uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body.
4. Celiac Disease – A disease that triggers an autoimmune response that causes damage to the small intestine when certain types of protein, called gluten, are eaten.
5. Color Blindness – Occurs when you are unable to see colors in a normal way.
6. Cri du chat Syndrome (Cat’s Cry Syndrome) – The syndrome’s name is based on the infant’s cry, which is high pitched and sounds like a cat.
7. Cystic Fibrosis – A recessive genetic disease in which the exocrine glands of afflicted individuals produce abnormally thick mucus that block the intestines and lung passageways. People with the disease have a very hard time breathing and often die from suffocation.
8. DiGeorge Syndrome – While the symptoms can vary, they often include congenital heart problems, specific facial features, frequent infections, developmental delay, learning problems and cleft palate.
9. Down Syndrome –
A chromosome abnormality, usually due to an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. This syndrome usually, although not always, results in mental retardation and other conditions.
10. Duchenne & Becker Muscular Dystrophy – The muscular dystrophies are a group of genetic diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement.
11. Fragile X – A genetic condition that causes a range of developmental problems including learning disabilities and cognitive impairment.
7. Cystic Fibrosis – A recessive genetic disease in which the exocrine glands of afflicted individuals produce abnormally thick mucus that block the intestines and lung passageways. People with the disease have a very hard time breathing and often die from suffocation.
8. DiGeorge Syndrome – While the symptoms can vary, they often include congenital heart problems, specific facial features, frequent infections, developmental delay, learning problems and cleft palate.
9. Down Syndrome –
A chromosome abnormality, usually due to an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. This syndrome usually, although not always, results in mental retardation and other conditions.
10. Duchenne & Becker Muscular Dystrophy – The muscular dystrophies are a group of genetic diseases characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal muscles that control movement.
11. Fragile X – A genetic condition that causes a range of developmental problems including learning disabilities and cognitive impairment.
12. Familial hypercholesterolemia – Characterized by high cholesterol levels, specifically very high levels of low-density lipoprotein
13. Haemochromatosis – A disorder that causes the body to absorb too much iron from the diet.
14. Hemophilia – A rare disorder in which your blood doesn’t clot normally because it lacks sufficient blood-clotting proteins.
15. Kleinfelters – A genetic condition that results when a boy is born with an extra copy of the X chromosome.
16. Neurofibromatosis – A genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue
17. Huntington Disease – A hereditary, degenerative brain disorder for which there is no effective treatment or cure. HD slowly diminishes the affected individual’s ability to walk, think, talk and reason.
18. Phenylketonuria (PKU) – A hereditary disorder in which the amino acid phenylalanine isn’t properly metabolized. As a result, the amino acid can build up to dangerous levels in the blood and other tissues, causing mental retardation and other serious health problems.
19. Polycystic Kidney Disease – A genetic disorder characterized by the growth of numerous cysts in the kidneys. The cysts can reduce kidney function and lead to kidney failure.
20. Sickle Cell Anemia – An inherited disorder that affects hemoglobin, a protein that enables red blood cells to carry oxygen to all parts of the body, resulting in a low number of red blood cells and periodic pain.
21. Spinal Muscular Atrophy- A disease that robs people of physical strength by affecting the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord, taking away the ability to walk, eat, or breathe
22. Tay-Sachs Disease – A rare inherited disorder that causes progressive destruction of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, found to be more common in people of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage than in those with other backgrounds.
23. Triple-X Syndrome – A rare chromosomal genetic syndrome with one or more extra X chromosomes, leading to XXX (or more rarely XXXX or XXXXX), instead of the usual XX. These people are females and can be unaffected, or may suffer from problems such as infertility and reduced mental acuity.
24. Turner’s Syndrome – A chromosomal condition that exclusively affects girls. It occurs when one of the two X chromosomes normally found in females is missing or incomplete.

Get my Genetic Disorder Project Packet here.

List of Debatable Genetic Disorders

The exact genetic causes of these disorders is still mostly unknown. Some lifestyle factors may play a role.

25. Obesity Obesity is an excess of body fat that frequently results in a significant impairment of health.
26. Alzheimer’s Disease – A progressive brain disorder that gradually destroys a person’s memory and ability to learn, reason, make judgments, and communicate.
27. Autism – A broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.
28. Diabetes, type 1 (Juvenile Diabetes) and Type 2 – A chronic metabolic disorder that adversely affects the body’s ability to manufacture and use insulin, a hormone necessary for the conversion of food into energy.
29. Parkinson’s Disease – A motor system disorder which is the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. Parkinson’s can cause tremors, rigidity, slowness of movement and postural instability.

Read more on how I teach my DNA unit.

List of Other Genetic Mutations

These mutations do not cause health problems, so are not considered a disorder.

30. Shar Pei Skin – The wrinkled skin of these dogs defines them, but it was originally caused by a mutation.
31. Double Muscled Cattle – Belgian Blue cows have a mutation that gives them double the muscle.
32. Extra-Toed Cats – Some cats have 7 toes due to a mutation.
33. Curly Hair in Dogs – Some dogs have a trait that allows their hair to grow and not shed.
34. Wrinkled Peas – Pea plants have either smooth or wrinkled peas.
35. Red Hair – Red hair is common in Scotland and Ireland where this mutation originated.
36. Lactose Tolerance – Being able to digest the lactose in milk originated as a mutation.

Get my Genetic Disorder Project Packet here.

genetic disorder list

Sexual vs Asexual Reproduction

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

All living things must reproduce in order to grow their populations. In order to accomplish that goal, evolution has provided 2 competing methods: sexual and asexual reproduction. Each method produces offspring, but has its own benefits and drawbacks. Let’s take a closer look at sexual vs. asexual reproduction.

Sexual Reproduction

Most of the species that we’re usually in contact with reproduce sexually. This includes everything from humans to fish to flowering plants! Sexual reproduction requires two parents who produce special cells called gametes which combine to form a genetically unique offspring.

In sexual reproduction, an offspring will only receive half of each of its parent’s DNA. This mixing and matching of genetics produces lots of variations in a population. As DNA is mixed and matched over several generations, new traits pop up that may not have been present before.

This variety is considered the primary advantage of sexual reproduction. Because all the individuals in a sexually reproducing population are slightly different from one another, there is a higher chance that some portion of the population will have a genetic resistance to challenges that may arise as environmental conditions inevitably shift. This process of slightly changing over time makes sexual reproduction the primary driving force of evolution.

The drawbacks of sexual reproduction mostly center around the amount of energy it requires. Gametes, produced by the process of meiosis, take time and energy to make. On top of that, it also requires energy to find and select a suitable partner for mating. One has only to think of the plight of the salmon to be convinced that sexual reproduction is often quite the task!

Asexual Reproduction

Asexual reproduction, involving much less energy, is a form of cloning. A parent will produce offspring which shares an identical set of DNA. This can happen in a variety of ways:

Types of Asexual Reproduction

BuddingSome species, like the hydra, are capable of growing an appendage that eventually breaks off and becomes an offspring. This process is called budding.
Binary FissionMost cells reproduce asexually. In eukaryotes that process is called mitosis, in prokaryotes it’s known as binary fission.
RunnersSeveral plants, including strawberries, are able to reproduce asexually by growing a root that shoots away from the parent plant. Eventually this root will sprout a genetically identical clone.

Regardless of the way it’s accomplished, asexual reproduction always produces genetically identical offspring. This can be a bad thing when it comes to changes in the environment. When one individual is susceptible to a danger, so is the entire population. For better or for worse, asexual reproduction produces an army of clones. This lack of genetic variety makes an asexually reproducing population vulnerable to changing conditions.

Asexual reproduction, however, is strong where sexual reproduction is weak. It requires very little energy and can happen very quickly. These benefits make asexual reproduction an excellent reproductive strategy for any species interested in building a very large population quickly. Bacteria are one such example. Their colonies can grow to millions of individuals in just a few hours.

Sexual vs. Asexual Reproduction Resources

sexual vs asexual reproduction worksheet

Guided Practice

2 pages of pre-reading covering sexual vs. asexual reproduction prepares students for a summarizing review. This resource also includes a graphing extension which can be used for differentiation or extension.

Get it here.

sexual vs asexual reproduction quiz

Quiz

15 multiple choice questions requiring students to differentiate between instances of sexual vs. asexual reproduction.

Get it here.

sexual vs asexual reproduction webquest

Webquest

Who doesn’t love a good sub plan? Let students explore reproductive strategies on their own using this interactive webquest. An extension activity requires students to argue which strategy they would choose in an organism of their own design.

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Additional Sexual vs. Asexual Reproduction Resources

  • PDF File containing many descriptions of various organisms and their reproductive strategies from the University of Utah
  • Lab involving population growth of both sexually and asexually reproducing species
  • Textbook style pages describing in detail the two methods of reproduction. Includes a watermark, but could still be useful for reference
  • Web Interactive containing descriptions of reproductive strategies of several species
  • Youtube Video with a short, student friendly description of both strategies
  • Presentation
  • Presentation 2
  • Worksheet
  • Worksheet 2

If you would like your resources to be included in this list please contact me at laneyleeteaches@gmail.com


My teaching resources have already benefitted the learning of over half a million students. Please pin the image below to help me expand my reach.

sexual vs asexual reproduction

How to Start a Teacher Blog: The Ultimate Guide

In the world we live in now, simply doing is not enough. Even robots can do tasks, and they do. To earn a spot in today’s economy, you have to create. Teachers all around the globe are taking to the E-streets to share their wisdom and opinions. Six months ago, I was just like you. I wanted to start a teacher blog, but how? Where do I begin?

I started this blog in June of 2019, and I wanted to take a few minutes to give you ALL my tips from my first year blogging. If someone, anyone can benefit from all my struggle, then my pain has meaning. So, please, enjoy the wealth of my knowledge!

Here’s the 7 most important areas you’ll need to concentrate on if you still want to know how to start a teacher blog:

  1. Hosting Your Blog
  2. Your Domain Name
  3. Blog Design
  4. Your Niche
  5. SEO
  6. Promoting Your Blog
  7. Outcome Expectations

Read on to learn more about each of these!

1. Hosting Your Blog

Are you going to host your blog on Blogger or WordPress? I recommend WordPress. Their platform allows you more freedom to design your blog in any way you want. This will allow you to make your blog look more like a website than the traditional scrolling blog. However, lots of successful bloggers are still on Blogger, so you may want to do your own research for how each of these sites can help you start your teacher blog most effectively.

Much of my following advice will be specific to WordPress for obvious reasons.

2. Your Domain Name

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Next, you will most likely want to spend the relatively tiny amount of money to get your own domain. I bought mine for $18 through the WordPress site, but you can also buy through Godaddy. This allows your blog to function more like a standalone website with its own address, rather than looking like something that’s more of an extension of WordPress. Which is more professional looking to you?

Option 1: https://laney-lee.com/
Option 2: https://laneylee.wordpress.com

I prefer the first option. If you do too, you’ll want to buy your own domain as well. It’s extremely easy to buy and set up the domain within the WordPress dashboard. The sidebar on the left has a main section called Manage, and under that a Domains portion. From there, the process should be relatively self explanatory.

When you’re trying to figure out how to start your teacher blog, choosing a domain is probably one of the easiest but most exciting first steps. It’s really fun to imagine your brand becoming well known and trusted!

Image by 200 Degrees from Pixabay

3. Blog Design

I, for one, refused to write anything until my website was perfect looking. How can I start a blog that isn’t beautiful?! Who will take me seriously if I don’t include loopy fonts and cute color schemes!? I need an About Me page and a newsletter popup. It has to all look sleek and professional so that my readers trust me! I spent a lot of time looking through other teachers’ blogs in jealous rage. I want to be the very best.

In hindsight, perhaps the best route (but not the one I chose) is to pay someone to design your blog for you. At the time, I was already feeling a bit overwhelmed when it came to overhead costs. Therefore, I became quite determined to figure all of this out myself. And, well, you can see my blog. You can decide for yourself how you think I’m doing with it.

Here’s a couple links to some people who honestly know a lot more about how to start a teacher blog than I do:

  • Georgia Lou
  • Blu Chic
  • Etsy also has tons of WordPress designers. You can buy a theme and most likely chat with the seller about your needs.

If you’re a blog designer and you’d like to be added to this list, please reach out! Laneyleeteaches@gmail.com

If you’re going to be stubborn like me, here’s what I would advise: Definitely start with a free WordPress theme. There’s several you’ll gain access to with your business account. I’d highly recommend starting with that purchase as a bear minimum (you’ll see why in a minute). It costs $212 a year.

Next, you’re going to want to create a couple pages. Pages are not like blog posts. These pages will be the main tabs of your blog. When you visit my site the first thing you see is not my blog, it’s a page. The tabs at the top of your screen are links to my other pages. About Me, Blog, etc. I created a few “fake” pages that actually end up linking to a whole other web address (the one that says Store, for example. Also the Subscribe tab.) I believe I had to use a plug in to get that set up. I managed to figure every bit of this out using a lot of Google and Youtube. Yes, it took time.

Finally, you’ll want to get a couple Plugins.

3A. WordPress Plugins

Plug ins are essentially third party developed apps that WordPress can install into your theme to give you new features. This is why you need the business version of WordPress. It’s required in order to download plugins. You can search through thousands of popular plugins through the WordPress site and decide for yourself what strikes your fancy.

The main plugins I use are:

  • Recent Post Widget with Thumbnails: This plugin creates little thumbnails of my related posts at the bottom of every blog. This is a really important plugin because it keeps people who are interested in what I’m saying on my blog for longer. You can configure the way you want the plugin to work. Mine links posts based on what category they’re tagged in. This ensures that readers see other posts that are on a similar topic to whatever they’re reading now. I also chose to use one with thumbnails because I think it’s visually nice.
  • Yoast SEO: This plugin is absolutely critical. There’s a paid version, but I only use the free one. In short, this plugin ranks my SEO strength as I’m writing a blog post. After I identify the key phrase that I’d like to target with my post, Yoast helps me make sure I give Google everything it wants so that I rank on the first page and get lots of views. For this post, my target phrase is “how to start a teacher blog.” That means I’m hoping people who search that phrase, or other similar phrases, will find my blog in the Google results.

After you have your blog set up with a memorable and unique domain, a theme, a few main pages, and a couple plug ins, you’re basically ready to roll! There’s lots more to be said about setting up your pages and your theme to be exactly the way you want them, but again, I’d highly recommend you either research elsewhere on the web or (ideally) pay a much more specialized person to help you.

4. Your Niche

Alright you’ve got a gorgeous blog! Now we have to figure out what to write about. You want to start dreaming about a thing called “topic authority.” This means that Google, using all It’s infinite algorithmic wisdom, has determined that you are THE source for information on this topic. You’ll rank in Google searches just because you’re you!

I’ve only been writing this blog for 6 months. I would like to be vulnerable for a second and admit that I haven’t really found my niche yet. A lot of the great creative and business advice I’ve ever received over the years seems to favor the “just start” model over the “waste a whole bunch of time figuring out what you’re going to do, despite the fact that once you begin you’ll likely change directions several times anyway” approach.

Running a business, or writing a blog, is going to involve a lot of little pivots. You’ll go in one direction for a while and you’ll strike a little gold, so then you’ll follow the gold. I’m still a little too hyperactive and fascinated with everything to stick to a really narrow niche right now, but maybe later on I’ll randomly strike topic authority in something and ride that wave for a while.

When I started this blog, I certainly didn’t expect to be writing about how to start a teacher blog. At the time I knew exactly nothing about that. Now that I’ve learned so much, though, the teacher in me is compelled to share.

how to start a blog
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Here’s some ways you can begin to find your niche:

Find your niche by joining Facebook groups related to your interests. What are people talking about?

Find your niche by searching your own soul. What do you know a lot about? What can you teach people?

Find your niche by writing. What topics end up resonating the most with your readers?

Find your niche by doing key word research. What topics are out there that are yet to be completely saturated? Where can you find your first little sliver of space to shine with less competition?

how to start a blog
Image by janjf93 from Pixabay

5. SEO

When we write blogs, we don’t just randomly write about whatever we are feeling! No ma’am! This isn’t the early 2000’s anymore. Instead, we have to consider the one who giveth clicks and the one who taketh clicks away (Google) and how It will feel about our writing. We are nothing without our beloved clicks, and we bow down to the all powerful Google so that It may determine that we are worthy of receiving them.

Here’s what it SEO is: Google has an algorithm for how they determine what goes on the first page of a search. That algorithm includes things like:

  • The average amount of time people spend on your page. Bounce rate is considered the rate of people who click and back right back out within 5 or so seconds. You don’t want a high bounce rate.
  • The number of backlinks to your page (I’ll talk more on this in a minute)
  • Your “topic authority” – yet another algorithm Google uses to determine your validity on post D if your posts A, B, and C are all performing strongly.

We really want to give Google what They want so that our blog will succeed.

SEO is so complex that I don’t doubt they could create entire college courses on this stuff. Not to mention that it’s constantly changing. Google is free to change Their algorithm whenever They want, and we are at Their mercy. I’m writing simply as an introduction. You’ll want to research this topic a lot more if earning a blogging income is something you strive to achieve.

However, Yoast is here to get you started. As I mentioned in the plugin section, Yoast is my best friend when it comes to SEO. As I’m writing this post, there’s a little box at the bottom of the page for Yoast to tell me how I’m doing SEO wise. Right now it’s telling me I need to say the phrase “how to start a teacher blog” more times so that Google’s algorithms will be absolutely certain that this is the page that people who want to know how to start a teacher blog will want to visit. See what I did there?

5A. Keyword Research

You need to start each blog post by doing keyword research to determine what Google search you’re planning to rank for with that post and how many clicks it could hopefully bring to your blog.

Ubersuggest is the best free tool I’ve found so far for doing keyword research. Using this platform, you can type in keywords that you may want to target with your blogpost. Ubersuggest will tell you how many people are searching those words as well as how difficult they predict it will be for you to rank on Google for that phrase.

Initially at least, you want to start by choosing terms that don’t have a lot of competition so that your blog can start to gain some traffic. Go for the bigger volume words when you’ve got some traction built up.

how to start a blog
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

5B. Backlinks

Backlinks are defined as any time someone on another site links to your site. That’s considered a good thing for how reliable and accurate your writing is, according to Google. Any links you’ve seen so far on this page are considered back links for the brands that I’m linking. I’m not paid by any of them, but as you can imagine sometimes backlinks are sponsored.

As a beginning blogger, it’s really difficult to get anyone big to link to your fresh and untested blog. I’ve yet to form any real connections with other education bloggers, but I can only imagine that, if I ever manage it, we will mutually backlink to each other to grow traffic to both sites. (Contact me if you’re reading this and interested! laneyleeteaches@gmail.com)

how to start a blog
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

6. Promoting Your Blog

You don’t ONLY have to rely on Google searches to get traffic to your blog! You can also use social media! To get you started promoting your blog, take a look at the ones I use.

6A. Start an Email List

Most bloggers use Mailchimp to start collecting email addresses of people who are interested in and would like to subscribe to their blogs.

On Mailchimp, you can send targeted email campaigns to groups of subscribers based on different data sets. These emails will contain a lot of links to your blog and other reminders that you exist as a brand and why subscribers should care about what you’re doing.

I’m proud to say that I have a grand total of 22 subscribers at the time of writing this, and I would be honored if you would show your support by becoming number 23!

6B. Get on Pinterest

You can pin images that link back to your blog post and hopefully other users will pin them as well! Pinterest images show up in Google results, so even people without Pinterest accounts can find your blog through your Pins. Like any other marketing, this takes time. I use Canva to create eye catching images that hopefully entice people to read more of what I want to say. Maybe you arrived on this page thanks to one of those images?

6Bi. Tailwind

For a faster way to pin, try Tailwind. Using Tailwind you can schedule weeks or months of pins ahead of time. I think most bloggers and online marketers pretty much consider Tailwind a must at this point. I pay $179 per year for the service which includes a basic membership and a small upgrade for Tribes (groups you can join with people in your niche with an agreement that you’ll pin each others’ content).

If you join with my link, we’ll both earn some credits.

how to start a blog
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

7. Expectations

We all know there’s people dumber than us who are already out there earning 6 figure lifestyles with just a blog. First of all, I wouldn’t consider it “just” a blog. The time and financial commitments required to produce the kind of content that readers expect is nothing to shake a stick at. Let’s take a look at how long it takes to start a teacher blog that actually earns money and how to do it.

7A. Earning Expectations

There’s a lot of ways that bloggers earn money. None of them happen very fast, and most of them depend on how much traffic you’re receiving. In my first 6 months blogging, I’ve earned a grand total of $1.45 through my blog. (And you better believe I was grateful for it!) Someone clicked a link to one of my TPT products, and then they actually bought it. That’s all my blog has earned me, and I’ve spent a lot more than that.

Here’s some ways I hope to earn through my blog once my traffic becomes more significant:

7Ai. Affiliate Programs

Amazon has probably the most popular affiliate program. You can sign up for free and begin creating your customized links to literally any product. Then you simply embed those links in your blog posts. There’s a million other sites that can teach you more about this than I can, so I won’t go into it any further. I got kicked out of the program because I hadn’t made over $0.00 in a certain amount of time.

There are also lots of other companies and brands which will pay you a small commision if a link you provide on your blog produces income for them. You can look for affiliate programs pretty easily on Google. Here is a list of affiliate ideas for education bloggers.

7Aii. Google Ads

Eventually, when your traffic becomes significant enough, you can easily sign up to host Google ads on your page. Google will pay you directly depending on how many people see or click the add on your site.

7Aiii. Links to Your Own Products

This last one is definitely more in my area of expertise. Thankfully, I already have an entire store full of digital products that I know are useful for people. Most of my blogs focus on promoting my own content. I hope to one day write a book or design a course that I can sell too. I’m sure you’ve seen many other bloggers taking these steps to grow their income.

7B. Time Expectations

This is the worst part so I saved it for last. This is going to take a LOT of time if we hope to become successful. I’m currently 6 months into my blog and I’ve spent countless hours learning about blogging, thinking about what I’m going to write, writing, and marketing. I’m still in the red as my poor like $1.45 isn’t even coming close to covering the startup costs. And I was conservative when it came to buying my way to success.

You’re going to want to produce a high quality blog post once a week. That process involves keyword research, writing high quality content, and SEO optimization. After it’s live, you absolutely must market it. Fortunately, you can schedule posts and get a little ahead so that if you miss a week somewhere your blog will still be automatically updating without you.

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve considered giving up completely many, many times. Especially since I already have my Teachers Pay Teachers store earning me over $1000 a month, it feels almost stupid to spend so much time writing blog posts that are currently earning me nothing when I could be creating products to sell to my loyal followers.

Maybe I will give up on blogging, but I definitely will not give up yet. I’m fine to spin my wheels for a few years. I know that what I have to say is important and that readers will only find me if I continue creating. So here I stand.

how to start a blog
Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

You Can Do This

To be fair, the ratio of time I’m spending vs. the money I’m making right now is absolutely appalling. But don’t forget: so many of our heroes were nothing for a very long time before they became a name that we now know. Don’t believe me? Try listening to the podcast Imagined Life. It tells the stories of people who are now insanely successful, but the stories are about their lives before they were successful. You’ll won’t find out who the story is about until the very end. This podcast has brought me to tears several times. I never knew the trials that people like J.K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss, and Elon Musk really experienced before they finally had their breakthroughs.

I’m not making money on my blog yet, and neither are you, but lots of people are! If we continue creating high quality content consistently, I know that we can all carve out a little room for ourselves in this new digital economy. Remember overnight success is not a thing! Expect to spend a few years (yes I said years) grinding hard before you reach a point where you can coast and enjoy the financial freedom that blogging can provide to anyone willing to put in the effort.

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If this post was helpful to you, please pin the image below to help me expand my reach. I’m still waiting on that second dollar! Others may benefit from learning how to start their own teacher blog!

how to start a blog

Reaching the First TPT Milestone

I just wanted to write a quick post to say that as of yesterday (January 15, 2020) I have officially reached the first TPT milestone of $20,000 in earnings. For me, this has been an extremely long and arduous journey.

I’ve had absolutely no overnight success. I currently have 273 products in my store and have received 1,548 ratings.

My mindset grew with my store. I got into TPT when there were a lot less barriers to entry. I threw up a couple products (with no covers) because I thought they could benefit other teachers. I was ecstatic to earn $40 in a month. I never transferred my balance to my bank. Instead, I bought myself a book or two on Amazon. I felt like I was winning.

A few years later, I finally began to take my store more seriously. I designed covers that looked like this:

Atrocious.

As I began to level up my store, I set my sights on $550 in a month. That was the cost of my rent at the time, but before I ever reached that goal I switched my life up completely by jumping into international teaching.

Money was a big reason for that move. At my current school I make about $1k more per month, I don’t pay taxes, and I get my housing for free. I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

Now I’m in my 8th year teaching grade 7 science, so fortunately I have my classroom life down pat. This gives me time to really focus on my store. This is the first school year that I’ve made resources that weren’t directly for my own classroom.

Lately, my main goal has been to make my store a lot more comprehensive, covering all middle school science topics. I have been working hard on growing 3 new lines of products:

  1. Guided Readings
  2. Color by Number
  3. One Pagers

Here are my stats:

tpt milestone first

At this time, I’m finally earning a consistent $1,000 per month. I’m hoping to increase that to 2 or 3k and eventually quit my day job (5 year plan). Diversifying into this blog and also working on my first book has been a step of safety in the event that TPT ever fully shuts down.

tpt milestone first

Clearly I’ve maintained a very solid average of $2 per sale considering that I also crossed 10,000 units sold in the same day. And, in all honesty, units sold is the number that really matters. I’m humbled to know that my products have been used in 10,000 classrooms. TEN THOUSAND!?

tpt first milestone

Naturally, it appears that views have increased as sales increase. I think putting links to related products in all of my descriptions has really helped this. I’m honestly on the fence as far as how much I think my Pinterest efforts have really increased my sales. Regardless, though, I continue to truck along.

But first, we celebrate!


A rising tide raises all ships.

If you’re reading this and you’d like to collaborate or request advice from the little of what I do know, please feel free contact me at laneyleeteaches@gmail.com.

Read more about my journey to the first TPT milestone here.