Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bosses vs. Leaders Lesson + Freebies

We are a Leader In Me School and talk a lot about using the 7 Habits of Happy Kids in our everyday lives. I love the idea of encouraging kids to act as leaders in the classroom and beyond. What I have noticed, however, is that sometimes "leadership" comes off as "bossypants" and that is not the route we want to take!

I know you've probably heard of Sheryl Sandberg (of Facebook fame) and her campaign to end the word "bossy" (read or listen to an NPR story HERE), but I was hesitant to come straight out and use that word in our class. Instead, I wanted them to think on terms of "boss" and "leader" to recognize the differences between the two and to think about their own language choices in the classroom, in small groups, on their sports teams, and more.

We first looked at this picture and talked about what we noticed:
This led to some discussion about leadership versus boss behavior. While the kids were discussing, I was passing out example cards to their table spots. Before I dismissed them, I shared this leadership quote from John Quincy Adams:

They were then given instructions about our activity.

I had printed example cards on two colors: blue for boss and green for leader (although they didn't know that yet) and they needed to read their card and find someone with an opposite color card and opposite example (good time to incorporate the word antonym, too!).

I dismissed them to their tables and first had them converse with students in their table group to ensure they understood the word or phrase on their card. When they gave me the thumbs up, I told them to find their match and them meet to discuss why they went together and be able to give examples.

We then began assembling our Anchor Chart. Each pair would come to the front of the class and would explain which card was descriptive of a "boss" and which was descriptive of a "leader" and why. They gave examples and I elicited a lot of help from the classroom for additional examples and language that both a boss and leader may use during that example. I would tape the cards to the Anchor Chart and we continued through each pair. There were two groups of three (with two leaders to one boss) and that worked out perfectly with my class (definitely feel free to adjust if you have lower numbers). 

Our completed anchor chart looked like:

It was so powerful to see how often kids may think they are helping, but instead find themselves on the "boss" side of the chart instead of the "leader." I know several of the examples are repetitive, but we really talked through these and used examples from our own lives to recount when using "leader" words and language set us up for success. I also explained the "me vs. you" mentality of bosses versus the "we and us" mentality of leaders. 

Overall, it was a very powerful lesson and I look forward to referring back to this Anchor Chart this year, especially when "bossypants" behavior leads to conflict. I think these concrete examples can help guide the naturally strong leaders in my class to make better language decisions that can help grow them as leaders and really inspire others, just like the Adams quote!

If you'd like a copy of these cards and quote, you can download this as a *freebie* HERE. How do you address bossy vs. leader behavior in your class? Share in the comments, I would love to build on this lesson!

Friday, January 16, 2015

*HUGE* Classroom Decor Giveaway from Staples! {Valued at $125}

You all know how much I love to decorate my classroom each summer! For proof, click HERE and you'll see that the majority of August is dedicated to spiffying up my classroom for the year ahead.

Like many of you, though, once the year is in full-swing, I let updating my decor fall to the wayside. Time is short and the majority of our teacher stores are an hour away, which is tough. I do love decorating for the holidays, however, and it's typically a challenge finding seasonal supplies anywhere nearby. So when Staples contacted me about their expanded in-store and online decor selection, I jumped at the chance to take a look at it and offer a giveaway opportunity for you all!

First up, BORDERS!

I am in love with these since they add a great pop of color to any display. Plus, there are pop-up borders for each season, so they give some added depth and jazz to your bulletin board!

Next, File Folders and coordinating Publishing Paper!

I have a gajillion ideas for these guys! Think about the centers you could organize in the folders or the prompts you could store inside. Then, kids could use the publishing paper to publish their writing or their work. Or, you could be more selfish like I am and save the paper for yourself and notes that you will send home throughout the year ;) You could always print the directions for the center on the matching paper and then kids would know what directions and materials went with which folder.... Like I said, so many uses and the folders are in such fun prints, they are bound to brighten up your centers!

Bulletin Board Sets for the Year

I think the key to having engaging boards is to keep them changing througout the year so they don't blend into the wall and lose the kids' interests. There is a Moose and Owl set, both very popular and loved out here in Colorado, that can be switched for every holiday and are just so darn cute!! Decorated moose antlers for Halloween?! Yes, please! The Snow set is also an adorable accent, especially if you're displaying any winter writing pieces this time of year.

Chevron Charts and Posters

You know how much I love all things chevron, and these charts always get good use in my class. From keeping track of work turned in, multiplication tables mastered, progress towards a goal and more, these are simple but effective tools to keep your students accountable in an easy way. Plus, the blank posters are great for year-long signs that kids can refer back to over and over again.

Accents for Every Purpose

These are so much fun! These accents are things you always need in your classroom but can never remember to get at the store when you're there (yes, speaking from personal experience!). The adhesive labels can be used ALL over the place: from grouping students to organizing centers, to name tags at Open House.... endless! Die cut letters and holiday shapes save me oodles of time, even with a Cameo, and the stickers, reward certificates, and additional chevron signs all come in handy for all of the lessons and successes throughout an entire school year.

As you can see, Staples is committed to carrying some very engaging, useful and appropriate decor for your classroom that you can use throughout the whole year. Best news? There's a Staples just around the corner from me, and hopefully for you too, so I know I can pop in there without a long drive to get what I need for whatever season!

Plus, did you know about Staples Teacher Rewards?

"In addition to staying in stock with classroom needs all year long, Staples helps makes more saving happen for educators with the Staples Teacher Rewards program, The Teacher Rewards program gives participating teachers up to 5% back in Staples Rewards, free shipping on, 10% back in Staples Rewards on teaching and art supplies and ink recycling rewards."

I know that 10% back adds up throughout the year, especially on ink. #teacherproblems!


Would you like to win this HUGE classroom set of decor from Staples? It's valued at $125, but the time and energy it will save you makes it worth even more! Enter below! The contest ends in one week (Friday, January 23). Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Staples sent me the materials in return for a review and giveaway on my blog. All opinions and comments are my own and I only share things that I know, use, trust, and love!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Technology Resources for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

This week, we are delving into some work around Martin Luther King, Jr. He is such an inspirational figure in American history and a perfect tie-in with our work around leadership, the 7 Habits, goal-setting, and more. Plus, his work is just as important today as it was 50+ years ago. I am excited to share some of my favorite technology resources to help you and your students delve deeper into his work and legacy!

BrainPOP & BrainPOP, Jr.

These are my old reliables, and I love that BrainPOP also has a separate video on Civil Rights to dig a little deeper into the movement and hear about some other important figures during that time. Each of these movies are short, developmentally appropriate, and come with some fantastic additional resources, like quizzes, vocabulary worksheets, and activities. They are worth exploring and don't worry-- if you don't have a BrainPOP membership, the Martin Luther King, Jr. video is currently *FREE*!

Find Martin Luther King, Jr, videos on BrainPOP HERE and BrainPOP, Jr. HERE. Find the Civil Rights video on BrainPOP HERE.

"I Have a Dream" Speech: Audio & Text

I love this resource since it allows kids to listen to Dr. King speak his famous words as they read along below. This would be a fantastic Listen to Reading activity and gives them the chance to really soak up his words outside of the video of his speech. It's also very cool to listen to him as an orator and really appreciate how gifted he was as a speaker. You could easily print off the speech to reuse in a whole-group setting or to have kids underline or circle as they listen along. So many wonderful possibilities with this site.

To listen and read Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" Speech, click HERE. How Big Are Martin's Words?

This is a fantastic follow-up activity to the speech resource above, since it includes lesson plans and an interactive poetry activity all around "found poems" in his "I Have a Dream" speech. is all standards-based and very well-laid out to make it easy for you to implement these lessons in your classroom. I love the last activity in this lesson: Students will be given an excerpt from Dr. King's speech and they can move and add words to create their own new poems. What a fun and unique activity!

To find this Found Poem lesson and resource, click HERE.

NEA Classroom Resources

NEA (National Education Association) has compiled some wonderful K-5 resources that I had to include the entire page! On this site, you will be able to find lessons, resources, quizzes, activities, printables, videos, and more! It's very extensive, but also very well-organized and filtered so you don't have to worry about clicking through a million links to find just a few resources. This would be a great page to bookmark and come back to often this week as you study Dr. King!

Find lots of K-5 MLK resources on the NEA website HERE.

I hope these resources can strengthen your study of Dr. King this year. I will be using many of these, along with my Word Work Centers and my newest resource: Writing Prompts!

The Martin Luther King, Jr. version was just added to my store and we started working on them today with a lot of success. There are three versions of each of the 35 prompts, so you can use them for a variety of purposes:

  • Use the cards for a Writing Station idea basket
  • Use the cut-out prompts to glue to the top of a page in a Writer's Notebook
  • Use the lined pages for formative assessment, early finishers, writing homework, and more!

These are going to continue being released for each holiday, so keep you eyes peeled!

Find more Technology Resources throughout the year here:

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Noise Blockers to Help Kids Stay Focused

Welcome back! It's been a whirlwind week already and it's only Tuesday. So far, 2015 is off to a busy start!

I wanted to share a quick tip today about something I've been using in my class for years: Noise Blockers.

If you aren't familiar, these are typically what you see construction workers wearing while using a jackhammer! They are sometimes used as an accommodation for children with sensory issues, but I have found that many children like using them when we are working on Read to Self or Independent Writing.

Because our room is just one big rectangle and much of my teaching is done in small groups, there is often a hum or buzz that's happening throughout the morning. I am a person who *loves* to work while surrounded by low-noise activity. Proof? I'm listening to as I type this! It simulates a coffee shop without having to pay $5 for a latte ;)

But for some of my students (and for some of you, I'm sure), background noise can really get in the way of the work and be more of a distraction than a help.

These Noise Blockers are available in our class supply area in a large tub for any student to use during *independent* work time. Students are welcome to grab a Noise Blocker and work comfortably, returning them to the bin when they are finished.

At the beginning of the year, there is always a mad rush to use these, but over time as the novelty wears off, the use dwindles down to around a handful of kids throughout the day. Because of that, I only have about 10 pairs (and I have 26 students, so less than half).

I do teach and reinforce the proper use of these so they aren't handled too roughly, as they are not indestructible. I also have one of our Classroom Leaders (Clean-Up Crew) responsible for wiping them down with a Lysol wipe each week to make sure we aren't transferring germs all year long.

I do know these can be expensive, which is why I was so hesitant to build on my small collection a few years ago. If you do a search online, they can range anywhere from $25 and up, so even replacing two was a challenge.

I am happy to report that at the beginning of this year, I came across FullSource that has an inexpensive pair for only $6!
(Disclaimer: I am not being compensated, I just really like this find!)

I definitely jumped at the chance to build my collection with that price tag and I hope this link can help if you're looking to start or build your own!

Do you use Noise Blockers in class? Any tips or tricks you would recommend?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Counting Down the Top 10 Posts of 2014

Happy Holidays!

I'm still adjusting to the end of the Christmas season and the start of a New Year. All of our decorations are still up, but we've managed to start cleaning out the pantry, closets, and more in anticipation on getting 2015 off to a great start!

As this year wraps up, I wanted to look back and highlight my most-viewed posts that I wrote this year! Hopefully these will jog your memory and/or give you some new ideas to get the second half of the year started right!

Counting down from 10.....

Working on Weekly Class SMART Goals

Classroom Tour 2014

Making my Erin Condren Life Planner Work for Me!

Morning Meeting: Updated Packet

Ho-Ho-Holiday Gifts for Your Students {2014 Link-Up}

Teachers Thanking Teachers & Magic 3

Smooth Sailing with My Erin Condren Teacher Planner

Bright Ideas: Sticky Note Summaries

Technology Resources: Earth Day

Using Student Numbers to Keep Organized

Have a wonderful time exploring these popular posts and I can't wait to ring in 2015 together soon! What kinds of things would you like to see me blog about in the new year? Leave a comment below and I'll add it to my list!

Thank you for joining me on this journey for another year and here's wishing you a festive and fun New Year's celebration!

Clip art from Scrappin' Doodles & Fonts from KG Fonts