January 26, 2020

December 17, 2019

Social-Emotional Activity Your Students Will Love!

This decade is almost in the books!  I like to create vision boards and make resolutions for the upcoming year and I also like for my students to do the same.  It’s important to me that I walk them through the process of what a goal is and how to achieve the goals they set.

 I discussed goal setting with my students and what character strengths we needed to develop in order to reach that goal.  This was the lead-in for them learning one word that would guide them throughout the goal making process.  

 You may be familiar with the One Word movement. The book One Word for Kids  (affiliate link) wasn't released until November, but I didn't want to wait.  You can read the book before completing any activities.  I will do this next school year!

The One Word movement is about picking one word that centers on your character and creates a vision for your future. We put our one word on the bracelet so we could have a constant reminder of our vision or what we want to grow.   

  My Intent is another company that has a mission to support mindfulness and intention setting for students. I'm not an affiliate for the company, I just love the mission! 

They have an educator discount that’s 50% off the regular prices!  You submit an application and they will verify that you are an educator.  


My Intent Educator

 I have a wonderful aunt who donated money for me to buy supplies this year.  This was one of the purchases I made with the donation! 
(Thank you, Aunt Alexis!)

This activity involves quite a bit of discussion.  My Intent has a quiz you can have your students take to help them discover their word.  If you go through the quiz first, you can pull out words that your students may have a hard time understanding.  I made this my first lesson. We talked about what the words meant to help scaffold the learning.  We read picture books where the characters displayed certain traits. 

After discussing the words, the students took the quiz to help generate their word.  They made a list of five words from the final quiz. 

There is a page with a list of words as well if you just want your students to pick a word, but the vocabulary lesson is very beneficial. 
Word List

I told them they had to go home and sleep on their word before committing to One Word! 😊

The next day, we wrote all about our word…what it meant to us, why it’s important, and why we picked it.  I had my students type the rough draft in Google docs and share so we could work on editing and revising as they worked.  I like this process because some of my students give up if I keep sending them back to make more edits or revisions.  I also like enabling the speech-to-text feature on Google docs.  I tell my students that writing is just talking on paper.  Using this feature helps them to see that writing is easier than they think.  


The final copy is a handwritten piece.  They get practice with using the keyboard but also continuing to develop legible handwriting. 

After the final copy is completed, we watched a short video on how to make the bracelet.  This is an activity that takes time in order for the bracelets to look nice.  Since my students come to me for 50-minute segments, I scheduled two students each day to make a bracelet.  They knew who would make their bracelet each day so there was no rushing or mistakes because of the enthusiasm and they were excited!
Most of my students were extremely nervous because they didn’t want to make a mistake. 



I did this with fourth and fifth grade.  You can definitely complete the activity with 2nd or even 3rd graders, however, you may need to make the bracelet for them. 

December 10, 2019

Building Your Classroom Library


If you are a teacher, you know how expensive it is to add new titles to your classroom library.  Also, if you are anything like me, you want all the books!  There are a variety of ways you can start to add to your library slowly over time.  Before you know it, your selection will be quite impressive


Teachers make beautiful displays of their wish list each school year.  I’ve seen the apple tree where parents can pick an apple that has “baby wipes” written on it.  The goal is for every parent to pick an apple from the tree and have that student bring in said supplies.  Just add a few book titles to that list!  Parents know that back to school shopping is a must and they may be more receptive to purchase a book at the beginning of the school year.  It could also be the pressure of watching other parents pick items to purchase too!!

This takes me to the wonderful Amazon Wishlist.  Well, I think it’s wonderful.  I like the fact that I can add the book to the list with ease.  If I’m out and I see a title I would like to explore later, I just search Amazon then add to my list.  The list is always growing.  You can share this link with the parents of your students at the beginning of the year or add to your class newsletter or webpage. The link can also be part of your email signature.  Place it anywhere your parents can see it.

If you are not familiar with DonorsChoose hold on to your seat.  There is actually a website where you can post items that you need for your classroom.  It was started in 2000 by a teacher that thought about all the money he and his colleagues were spending on books and other materials.  He knew that there were people around the country who wanted to help.  Set up an account and post your first project.  You will answer a few questions about how your project will be used and a little info about the school.  There are approved vendors that you can shop and Amazon is on the list!  I’ve had the most success when I post a book project in late summer or back to school time.  There are also companies that will match your donations or fully fund the amount. 

#classroomlibrary #schoolhouserap

Focus on one genre or book per month and have your students make videos for people to watch.  Think Reading Rainbow meets Donors Choose.  Make sure you have parental permission before sharing on social media.  Here is an example of what your students can do.  Video your students listening to books and the activities they do with each book.  Include this in the video with the new book you wish to have.  There are many free apps you can download to your phone that will allow you to create very simple “movies.”  Parents love to see their children showcased. 

Collect the writing of your students throughout the month or if you taught a specific genre like poetry.  You could offer an Author’s Night and invite the family to come out to support.  Inform the audience that you are accepting donations that will go towards the purchase of a set of books for the classroom.  You could even have a picture of the book covers on display.  Again, parents enjoy watching their children share their creative genius. 

Goodwill and other resale stores will have a variety of books.  This is not the first place I look to find diverse, picture books but every now and then I find a steal.  Make sure you take your time and have patience.  It’s not like walking into a bookstore.  They do have a children’s section but it has EVERYTHING from board books to YA chapter books. 

#classroomlibrary #schoolhouserap

First Book marketplace is my go-to for diverse literature. I always check this website first because the books are so affordable.  Check here before purchasing a book on Amazon.  I have been able to find popular titles for less than $5!  They offer brand new books and educational resources that have been donated by their publishing partners and are available to First Book Members for the cost of shipping & handling.  I hope that one day First Book will work with DonorsChoose!!!

#classroomlibrary #schoolhouserap

 Finally, your school and/or public library can help bring more books into the class.  You may need to return them at the end of the school year, but at least your students will have access to a great selection of titles.  Your librarian may be able to purchase the books that you want.  It doesn’t hurt to ask!

I hope these ideas will help build your classroom library.  What other ways have you used to secure funds for purchasing classroom books? 

December 1, 2019

Author's Purpose

Author's Purpose Posters

Who doesn’t love a little PIE? 

There may be years when teaching author’s purpose is harder than others.  Each year is different, and any educator knows exactly what I’m talking about.  My students were able to master Author's Purpose this year without a lot of reteaching. 

I covered each purpose one at a time.  We started with entertain because most of the books my students read are for enjoyment.  This was easy for them to master.  I read a variety of texts and had the students decide what was the author’s purpose for each.

 Naomi from Read Like A Rockstar has a great product for Author's Purpose.  I love how she includes a checklist of questions for the students to ask themselves about each passage.  This was very helpful when they had to work independently. 

Read Like A Rockstar 

Working together 

I used the passages from Read Like A Rockstar but just cut the tops and the bottoms off before laminating.  Each group had preselected reading passages based on their reading level. 

  We ended the unit with a “You Got PIE’ED” activity.  Students worked together with a partner.  Each group was given a collection of reading passages. They earned points for each purpose they answered correctly.  They were allowed to turn the crank on the Pie Game based on how many points they had.  So basically, everyone was going to get Pie'ed. 




  How do you teach author's purpose in your classroom?

November 21, 2019

Quick Writing Tips for Younger Students

Use Graphic Organizers consistently
 Graphic organizers are simple tools that can help kids who normally have trouble with writing. It helps students organize their thoughts and breaks the writing into smaller pieces.  Graphic organizers are meant for jotting down ideas and not the full writing piece.

Teach the Writing Process
When using the writing process, students will be able to break writing into manageable chunks. Guiding students through the writing process helps them to think about each step of their writing.  They will be able to understand how skipping any step will lead to a less polished piece of writing.

Brainstorm using graphic organizers to connect ideas and structure for a writing piece. Have young students engage in whole-class brainstorming. Their brainstorm can consist of drawing pictures as well.   

Students will work independently when writing their Rough Draft. I would also suggest having your students skip lines when writing the draft.   This will help leave space for revising the piece. Another suggestion is to let students know that it’s okay to cross out and not erase writing on the rough draft.  This helps avoid frustration when mistakes are made.    

Show students the difference between revising and editing because they are different aspects of the process.  Revision is where students add details to make their writing better where editing is correcting any conventions in the writing.

  Let your students collaborate with their classmates to help develop language proficiency.  Let students have a choice in how they publish their final piece of writing. 

Here is a set of posters you can use in your classroom to help teach the 
Writing Process.  

Accept Invented Spelling
 Children show that they know their letter sounds by using invented spelling. Allowing children to use invented spelling lets them concentrate on communicating their ideas. I know many teachers are frustrated when students misspell words but invented spelling is a necessary phase in your students’ development as a writer.  Your students will develop standard spelling as they advance. Encourage a love of writing by making it fun and don’t sweat the spelling. 

How do you teach writing in your classroom? 

November 17, 2019

Picture Books about Characters with ADHD

I wanted to share two new books I discovered while adding to my Amazon book wish list.  Actually, they aren’t new, just new to me!  Both books were published in 2008.  Thanks to my media specialist who was able to contact our local library for the delivery of the books.

The stories deal with the issue of ADHD in kids and how they are trying to cope throughout the day.  

The first book is It’s Hard To Be A Verb  (affiliate link)  written by Julia Cook.  Julia Cook is also the author of My Mouth is a Volcano.  It’s actually the same character in both stories.  I found out that Julia Cook is a former teacher and school counselor.  She started writing books after hearing stories from her students and parents of those students who were dealing with different issues.

I like this book because not only can your ADHD students relate, but it gives some coping skills to help students manage the deficient.

I’m also all about using literature to teach EVERYTHING and this is a great book to use in your ELA lessons for what else…verbs!!

The next book is Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have The Wiggle Fidgets  (affiliate link)  written by Barbara Esham.  This story is part of the Adventures of Everyday Geniuses series.

The main character,  David, is introduced by all the things he does that is either distracting or just not paying attention.  He even recognizes that his teacher has a “speaking to David” voice.  After a very messy pudding incident, the teacher decides to send a letter home to David’s parents.  David is worried of course, but he wants to discover a cure for his wiggle fidgets.  He does find out his dad had the same issue as a kid.

David spends a whole day coming up with some great ideas to help not only himself, but Mrs. Gorski!

The book has an awesome list of resources at the end of the story. 

I know every teacher has encountered a David or a Louis or you might be dealing with one this school year.  I know it can be frustrating but take a breath and always remember EMPATHY.

Leave a comment if you have found other great books about children with ADHD to share with your students!  

What other techniques have you used with your students who have the wiggle fidgets?