Monday, November 16, 2015

Are you a Soda Kid or a Water Kid? {Noticing our Reactions}

Because our school is Leader In Me-focused, we have lots of discussions about being proactive and thinking win-win.

One of the ways I like to make these ideas relatable, especially to some kids who struggle with these concepts the most, is to use analogies that they are all familiar with and can easily relate to.

My favorite question to ask these days is not, "Are your being proactive or reactive?" but is instead, "Is this a Soda Kid choice or Water Kid choice?"

Let me help explain by using the Anchor Chart we made in class:

All kids know what happens when you shake a can or bottle of soda: it explodes! All over the floor, your clothes, your hands.... everywhere! It's a mess and takes a long time to clean up.

But what happens when you shake a bottle of water and then open it? Nothing! The water is just water- ready to drink and enjoy (and as one of my thirdsters pointed out, it's much healthier for your body than soda is, too!).

So how does this relate to our class and our personal reactions when life happens, situations are out of our control, or it feels like we're getting shaken and thrown around in all different directions? When your reaction comes out, is it one of soda or water?

Soda choices are made spur-of-the-moment, usually pure reaction, and are often filled with anger. They are messy and it usually takes a while to "clean up" and repair the harm. Water choices, however, are calm and in-control, even despite the hardest shaking. We spoke about how our bodies even feel like soda or water on the inside, especially in the heat of the moment, and talked about some of our Brain Break and cool-down strategies to get our body to water when it feels like exploding soda.

I set up this chart like I usually do when I compare two things, in a T-Chart. This was ready to go when we began our discussion and we brainstormed as a class how one type of person would react versus the other.

It was a very concrete and helpful way for kids to see proactive versus reactive thinking and, now that it's hanging in our classroom, we can refer back to it throughout the weeks ahead and simply notice where their reaction is falling: Soda or Water?

Have a great week ahead!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Our Growth Mindset Class-Created Anchor Chart

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Growth Mindset-thinking, and I try to incorporate it throughout our day whenever I can.

If you haven't seen my previous posts about Growth Mindset and goal setting, be sure to check them out below, including a great resource round-up to help get you started.

To begin our year, I love to reference this fantastic anchor chart by Stephanie Skelton:

I chose to make this activity a bit more interactive since it was the beginning of the year and I wanted to keep my students up and moving as much as possible. I also had these phrases (along with a few others I added) typed up and ready to go, mostly because the kids weren't yet familiar with the new language associated with Growth Mindset.

Our final result looked like this and I cannot be happier, especially since it's the first thing you see on our wall as you enter our classroom:

Creating Your Own Anchor Chart as a Class:

To help us introduce these ideas, we read these two fantastic picture books:

After a class discussion about these characters, we were ready to dive into the two mindsets.

I set this activity up by passing out each of these slips of paper and having students walk to the end of the classroom they thought their phrase belonged in: Fixed or Growth.

After they were on either end of the classroom, I had someone from the "Fixed" side read their slip and someone on the "Growth" side would share their slip if they thought it was a better way to frame that problem. While there are no hard and fast pairings, some do fit better with others, and we enjoyed referring to the books (and even our own experiences) for evidence and examples.

I then glued these down onto large sheets of butcher paper (each color is 24" across, so 4 ft. wide altogether!), and hung it front and center in our classroom, so it's the first thing you see as you come in the door.

Tip: You could also copy these responses on green and red paper and use white butcher or chart paper to display them.

If you're interested in these slips, they are available as a freebie on Google Docs HERE. I also recommend checking out the links below and I hope you enjoy this activity with your students!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Creating Easy Number Magnets

A common question I'm asked is how to make the number magnets I use in my Classroom Jobs post HERE. I number my students for so many reasons throughout the year (read more HERE) and this is such a space-saver on my job board! I originally bought these magnets on Etsy, but this year presented a unique challenge....

I was faced with a dilemma as my class size grew and I realized I didn't have enough number magnets to support all of the kids in my class. A trip to Hobby Lobby in desperation actually yielded a great alternative that I really love!

The supplies are easy to come by and there are a lot of alternatives to really make these your own!

Supplies List

1. 1" Number Stickers: You can purchase these (if you could find them, I had trouble) or you can make your own if you have a Cameo (which I did). You could use regular number stickers or even a Sharpie or paint pen to write your own! This is the part that you can make as simple or creative as you'd like! In fact, you could even glue in student pictures if you don't use student numbers.... so many possibilities!

2. E6000: If you haven't used this glue, it's *intense* but holds everything, which is important since you'll need a strong bond with these materials

3. Flattened Bottlecaps: These are in the craft embellishment aisle and come as actual bottlecaps or flattened. I recommend the flattened and they come in white and black, although you could always spray paint them to match any decor!

4. Heavy-Duty Magnets: There were 50 in a pack and are amazingly strong! They will need to stay put but also move a lot all year, so for $8 (plus a 40% off coupon), these were well-worth the money!

5. Resin Covers: I thought I would need these, but they didn't stick as well as I would have liked, so I returned them. You may need them to protect your numbers from heavy use, but they weren't necessary for my needs.


I don't even have any pictures of the assembly since it went so quickly! Magnets glued to one side and numbers stuck to the other. I let the glue dry overnight and they were good to go!

Final Product

I am thrilled with how these turned out, especially since they were so easy to make! They are clear, strong, and durable, so I couldn't ask for much more.

I hope this helped if you use my Chevron Classroom Jobs or if you number your students in your class for any reason.

Have a great week and happy crafting!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Etsy Store Launch: Teacher-Specific Lesson Planner Stickers

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you have seen a "Coming Soon" teaser of my newest project that I am *beyond* excited to bring to you:

I will be launching my brand new Etsy Store and bringing you Teacher-Specific Lesson Planner Stickers!

These are meant to go into *any* planner, although I have color-coordinated them with my favorite, Erin Condren Teacher Planner, to help you streamline and organize your year in a fun, meaningful, and visually-appealing way!

Each sheet contains 130 stickers-- 10 gray and then 12 rows that match the Erin Condren Teacher Planner Monthly layouts. You can use these to coordinate or not, they are beautiful colors no matter how you choose to incorporate them!

Each round sticker is 1/2" in diameter and is printed over the cut marks, ensuring your stickers are full of color all around. I use high-quality matte sticker paper and ink, so you can rest assured they will not smudge or smear. Plus, you can write overtop with a pen or Sharpie!

There are currently around fifty designs to choose, with even more coming out throughout the year. I also have weekly numbers and single-color sheets as well!

To find out more, I've made a video below that includes a monthly layout as well as how I plan my weekly layouts using these. You'll see I layer the stickers with the ones included with the Erin Condren Teacher Planner and they turn out great!

Because these are only 1/2" in size, they only take up two lines in the lesson planner pages, so you can leave space for notes or additional details.

Take a look at the video below and mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 11th at 5pm EST. I will be launching my store then!

Because the store is just made up of me, I may need to close it from time to time to get caught up on orders. Thank you for your understanding and I can't wait for you to get these in your hands and into your planners!

For more information on my love of Erin Condren Teacher Planners, click HERE.

For a $10 off your first Erin Condren order coupon, sign up HERE.

Let me know any questions or requests you have below! I can't wait to hear what your favorite icons are! Happy organizing!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Back to School Survival Tip: Get Them Moving from Day One

It's Back to School time! Nerves and energy are high and the to-do list seems endless. There is always so much to do the first week of school that it often seems like you'll never get to it all! One of the best survivor tips I can offer you this week is to incorporate movement intentionally whenever and wherever you can. When you make this a priority from Day One, you can ensure that your sanity will be saved and your kids will be engaged from the get-go.

Here are five ways you can incorporate movement and Brain Breaks into your Back to School to-do list.

Tip #1:

One of the most important things to do at the beginning of the year is to set up rules and routines in your classroom. While we all know the importance of having your class help create the rules, incorporating movement will help channel your students' energy and encourage buy-in even more!

When you create rules, have your kids come up with gestures to accompany these rules. Practice them together and ensure that kids know not only the rule, but the gesture as well. You can even have them practice the rule gestures only, without words. For more on class rules and gestures, you can see some of my posts HERE.

Another way to channel energy during this back-to-school time is to create a Class Cheer and a Sign of Silence. These can be any movement, but should be class-developed and practiced regularly throughout the day. Cheers can be as simple as a fist pump and "Oh yeah!" or get even more complex, as mentioned HERE. A Sign of Silence could be a hand making a zero and held in the air to signal quiet, or even something a bit louder like Ready, Set, Learn (read more HERE). Anything that will pair both movement with a verbal cue will help get every student on board during these important times.

Tip #2:

We all have fun ways to get to know our students at the beginning of the year, but including movement can be a very engaging way to encourage even more smiles and laughs during this time.

One of my most favorite activities is similar to Four Corners, although I will use compass directions (mentioned HERE) to sneak in some geography skills. I will call out a variety of choices and have kids run to different walls that coincide with their choices. Some of my questions include:

  • Favorite subject
  • Favorite specials
  • How you get to school
  • Teacher last year
  • Favorite sport/hobby
  • Favorite recess activity
  • ...and more!
I love throwing in these questions throughout the first few days as I get to know the kids and they get to know each other a bit more.

Tip #3:

As they complete the activity above, they begin to see some fellow classmates with similar interests and likes as themselves. I try to have kids partner up with as much variety as possible at the beginning of the year, so Find a Friend is a great way to do that! Before an activity, I will announce they will need to Find a Friend who.... and they will need to find a new partner each time. Some choices include someone with same/different:

  • hair color
  • eye color
  • shirt color
  • class as last year
  • number of siblings
  • birth month
  • ... and more!

If kids can't find a partner who has the same/different criteria, they need to find a way they are similar or different and be able to tell me what that is... I actually love it when this happens, as they usually find some wonderful connection that we often use the next time I call out to Find a Friend!

Tip #4:

We spend so much time setting up our classrooms, but often forget that kids join us and have no clue where to find the dictionaries, the class supplies, or the tissues! One of the best ways to solve this problem is a Classroom Scavenger Hunt!

I will use the compass direction signs for this activity as well, and create a simple checklist of all of the necessities in our class. I share this with them before we begin and they grab a clipboard and walk around the room looking for each item. When they find it, they record their answer using the compass direction of the wall it is found along. Of course, working with a partner is encouraged and helping each other is great!

Using Scavenger Hunts is also a great way for kids to get to know each other and the school as a whole. You can use a similar checklist-style or create something more fancy, but encouraging getting up and moving around will help them to get their wiggles out and discover these important places and spaces themselves.

Tip #5:

Something so important to remember during these first few weeks of school what a huge change it is for our kids to come back to the school environment after the summer. In all of the hullaballoo of our to-do lists and the hustle to get things launched, it is essential to incorporate some calming breaks for our students throughout the day.

Controlling the breath is a simple and no-impact break that will help everybody. I love throwing in some math when we breathe. For example, counting by 2/5/10s and encouraging an exhale that is twice as long as the inhale. You can also have kids put their hands on their bellies to feel it expanding as they inhale and contracting as they exhale. During this time, have kids practice breathing in through their nose and out through their mouths for even more calming effects.

Another easy break is having students close their eyes and rub their ear lobes with opposite hands. The cross-lateral movement is subtle, but important, and this can be done at their desks, in the meeting area, or even in line before you leave the classroom.

No matter how you choose to do it, incorporating movement from Day One will help establish even more class buy-in to routines and procedures and reduce many of the behavior management issues that can arise during these first few weeks. When you include movement and Brain Breaks from the beginning, you make them a part of your classroom culture and establish them as a "normal" part of your day. What a wonderful gift to give to yourself and your students from the very beginning!

Brain Break Resources

If you are a fan of these ideas and looking for more to last you throughout the rest of the school year, be sure to check out all of my Brain Break resources HERE on Teachers Pay Teachers. There are resources for each major holiday, Word Work & Spelling, general classroom use, and more!
These Brain Breaks are also available in a variety of formats: circles on popsicle sticks, posters, and PowerPoint slides that you can incorporate into your presentations and use on your projector! Each set comes with the full description of how to complete each break, so you can rest assured that you, your students, a substitute, or even your admin. can call a Brain Break at any time and know what to do.

Find all Brain Break activities HERE on TpT and have fun with your students all year long!

Back to School Survival Guide

I am excited to be a part of an incredible group of bloggers who are sharing even more amazing Back to School Survival Tips!

Keep reading by clicking the links below and you'll find more helpful hints and giveaways!

Have a great Back to School season!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

2015 Erin Condren Teacher Planner {Part 2: Review}

If you haven't had the chance to watch me unbox this year's Erin Condren Teacher Planner, be sure you get started HERE. This video will help explain some of the pieces and parts that are a part of my planner bundle!

I am so excited to be walking through the 2015 Erin Condren Teacher Planner with you, sharing some of my favorite tips and tricks, and showing you some tweaks to personalize it even more!

Walk-Through Video

Here's a video to get you started. It walks through each of the sections more in-depth and includes how I adjust certain parts:

Inspiration & Parent Contact Freebie

I hope these headers can help you rethink the sections of your planner you may not use as much! Here is a close-up of the before and afters of each of the pages:

Ooops! The "Before" pic was taken after I had covered up the months with the stickers. Sorry about that!
You can grab the freebie containing both of these files HERE on Google Docs.

Using Stickers & Pens

There will be *tons* more posts about these great stickers and pens as the school year approaches and plans get filled in. Here are some of my initial ideas, though. If you're interested in how I number my students, click HERE. Below is a sampling of their pens in my Life Planner :)

Subject Headers, Washi Tape & Notes Pages

I mentioned the subject headers, washi tape, and more from last year's planner tips. Because those haven't changed, be sure to head to the original post HERE to see them in action and to pick up your feeebies!

Look Book, Sales & Coupons

For an even more in-depth look at the full line of school products from Erin Condren, be sure to view the Look Book HERE.

I'm excited to let you know that there is currently a 25% off sale for these Teacher Planners! Use the code TEACH25 until July 19th!

Would you also like $10 off your first order? For a coupon, be sure to sign up through my affiliate link HERE:

I'll be back throughout the year as more things begin to take shape. Keep you eyes on my Instagram account for updates as I fill in the blanks. Have fun with these freebies and I can't wait to see how you make this planner your own!

Disclaimer: gave me this planner to review, but all opinions are my own. I only promote what I use and love!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

2015 Erin Condren Teacher Planner {Part 1: Unboxing}

It always feels like I can officially start thinking about the next school year when my Erin Condren Teacher Planner arrives in the mail!

This year, it came a bit early, thanks to the fact that Erin Condren sent me a box full of goodies to review for you all. I have been a fan of hers for years, so this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up!

I waited oh-so-patiently to open it up until I could film it and go through all of the amazingness with you all. This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the Teacher Planner, how it is the same/different from last year, and how I plan to set up the different parts in the next few days.

If you're new to Erin Condren and want a $10 off your first order coupon, be sure to sign up through my affiliate link HERE.

To see more of their great line for teachers, visit their Look Book HERE.

For more on how I customized last year's EC Teacher Planner, click HERE.

So now, without further ado, the unboxing of this year's Erin Condren Teacher Planner! Enjoy and let me know in the comments if you have any questions/requests that you would like me to answer during Part 2!

Disclaimer: gave me this planner to review, but all opinions are my own. I only promote what I use and love!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Independent Writing Time Bingo & Prompt Management

Like most things in my classroom, I teach writing in small groups. I have a lot posted about this under the "Literacy" tab, then scrolling until you get to "Writing" to see the full run of ideas around Writing Groups and fun products to help.

One thing I worked on a lot last year is my Independent Writing block. Kids have twenty minutes a day to write on their own and I wanted this time to be purposeful, productive, and self-guided.

In both Word Work and Math, I use a Bingo board to have kids choose their own activities to complete throughout the week or unit. They will plan their Bingo and then work towards it during independent work time, showing me their progress at the end and getting a signature. Five signatures in a row is a Bingo and a small reward (usually a sticker), then they keep working until they hit Blackout or the unit is over and the Bingo sheet is collected. For additional info, click HERE for a video walk-though of my editable Bingo boards.

For Independent Writing, these Bingo boards look a bit different. Of course, since they are completely editable, they can be filled with any information you'd like, but I like to do one of two things: Types of Writing or Prompt Numbers.

Types of Writing Bingo

This is the easiest since it can be reused under any circumstance. I filled this in myself, so you can use this as a guide or adjust it to fit your class' needs. Kids will write about any idea, but follow the format of the type of writing in their Bingo square. This is a great way to ensure that your kiddos don't get stuck on just one type of writing. By having them choose their Bingo, they can take some risks and also write in some of their favorite formats.

Prompt Bingo

I wrote a lot about how I used my Writing Prompts in a prior post HERE. While this version does take some initial setup time, I have found it a great way to get through more of the prompts and really keep kids fully engaged in writing.

An easy way I organize this is with 4x6" photo sheet protectors, a binder, and my trusty Silhouette Cameo for the numbers:

I numbered each pocket 1-24. Now, I can use it all year long for any Writing Prompt packet. I then print out the pages of prompts (10 to a page). You can number these 1-24, which would be very smart, so kids could stay organized during the process. The prompts themselves don't come pre-numbered, since there are 35 total and a space for you to write your own, so you can pick and choose the prompts that work best with your group.

The prompts then get put into the slot with the number and are available for kids to grab and glue into the top of their Writer's Notebook.

All of this is stored in our Writing Prompts Binder which students can access easily during Independent Writing Time.

For a FREE copy of this binder cover, click HERE!

Using this format, when students show me their writing at the end of Independent Writing Time, I can see their progress with the prompts and it allows them to work in a variety of formats and purposes in a fun and engaging way. Many of them won't finish the prompts during one Independent Writing block, so on Fridays we typically have a "Finish Up Friday" block instead where they can go back and finish their draft and maybe even revise and edit some old prompts to make them their very best work.

To view my growing collection of Writing Prompts, click HERE to see them in my TpT Store or below to go directly to their listing:

To see the new Independent (and Partner!) Writing Bingo Boards, click HERE to see them in my TpT Store.

Please leave any questions you have for me about these or my writing block and I will be happy to answer them in the comments or an upcoming post. Happy writing!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

3 Ways to Find Posts on My Blog

If you're like me, summertime is a wonderful, relaxing few months to reenergize and recharge from a long school year. I love reading blogs for ideas and moseying through Pinterest, but it's with a much more laid-back vibe than during the school year. Then, I'm usually looking the day before (and even the day of) for something to help with a lesson, unit, behavior, etc. Either way, it can sometimes be challenging (especially on a blog) to find a post or idea that you're looking for. And while I may have more time on my hands now, I still don't want to click through my blog, one page at a time, to look for a topic or idea.

If you can relate, today I wanted to let you know about some quick and easy ways to find things on my blog using Labels, the Search Bar, and Tabs.


You will find these on most any blog you read. Mine are found near the bottom of the sidebar on the right. I try my hardest to attach these labels to posts to help group them together and make it easy for readers to find the information they are looking for. Usually, my posts have several labels attached to them. You'll notice the number of posts with that label in parenthesis next to the topic. The size of the font is relative to how many posts there are: the more posts with that label, the larger the font.

The Search Bar

Located about halfway down the page in the right-hand sidebar is the "Search This Blog" feature. Believe it or not, I use this all of the time myself, especially when I am linking to a post of mine in the past. You can enter key words or phrases and the applicable posts will appear. I like this much better than labels since I can get to what I need quickly. When I click on a Label, all of the posts will appear and I will need to scroll through each of  them. When I search using the Search Bar, it appears like a Google search with the title and a snippet of the post listed, so I can see many results at once and know which post I need.


This is what I am most proud of and what I am continually updating as I write new posts and add new resources to my TpT Store. Located on the top of my blog are Tabs. When you click one of these, it will take you to a page filled with thumbnails of popular posts and products. This is almost like a Pinterest view of my page: loads of familiar images that will take you straight to where you want to go. I update these frequently, and they are worth checking out if you like an idea or wonder how I teach something. Oftentimes, blog posts are hard to read if there are several posts in a series. With these thumbnails, you'll be able to see each image in a series and click to whichever one you're interested in. The nice part is that the thumbnail will dim when you've clicked on it, so you can track what you have and haven't read yet in an easy way.

Whether you're visiting for the first time or have followed me for years, welcome and thank you so much for all of your support. I hope you are enjoying your lazy summer days and can peruse ideas for your upcoming school year in an easier and more organized way, thanks to these tips :)