Saturday, October 12, 2013

TpT Sale for 100K Facebook Likes!

Just wanted to pass the word along that Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing a 10% off sale (using promo code FB100K) now that they have 100,000 likes on Facebook.  The sale ends on Monday, October 14th.  

Along with this sale, all items in my store will be an additional 15% off until Monday.

Hope you're able to find some goodies from your favorite TpT stores!


FOCUS on 5 and the KSRA Conference

Hi Everyone! 

Kelli and I have been a little MIA lately.  We're very sorry about that!  We've been diligently working to get our presentation ready for the Keystone State Reading Association's Conference next weekend.  We will be presenting information about how to use our Focus on 5 Writing Menu to improve student achievement in writing.  Will any of you be at the conference?  If so, be sure to check us out Friday morning.  We want to make our presentation as meaningful as possible to our attendees, so we'd love to know what kind of things you enjoy when attending a conference.  What kind of presentation has been your favorite?  Do you enjoy hands-on activities, small-group collaboration, time for a question and answer portion, lecture with a PowerPoint presentation?   What can we do to help other teachers in the most effective way?

We are really looking forward to spreading the word about FOCUS on 5 since we have seen such great success with it.  What would you like to know more about writing instruction and assessment?  Post your questions in the Comments section below and we will answer them and share resources with you.  Below you will find the link to our FOCUS on 5 Writing Menu if you haven't already downloaded it.  

Thank you for being followers of our blog.  You have no idea how much that means to us.  We love hearing from you, too, so don't hesitate to get in touch with us!  We will definitely be posting more frequently in the upcoming weeks, and we'll be sharing some wonderful resources we have found or created to improve our writing instruction for our students.  

If you want to download the menu for use in your classroom: Free FOCUS on 5 Menu

Enjoy your weekend!  I hope to hear from you soon!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Back to School Pennant FREEBIE

I know this is probably a little late for most of you... but if you're still wondering what to put up in the hallway outside your classroom (ahem... like me), this is a quick and easy {and CUTE, of course} activity to get your kiddos to complete before Back to School season is a thing of the past.  I'm always at a loss as to what to put in the hallway at the beginning of the year before students have produced something truly meaningful. Since pennants seem to be all the rage these days, I decided to create my own "getting to know you" bunting.  If you're a more organized teacher than I am and you already have your hallway decorated, you might also like to showcase these pennants INSIDE your classroom and keep them up all year!  I think it would be a neat keepsake to give kids at the end of the year.

I've made different versions for use in Grades 1-6.  CLICK HERE to get yours for FREE in my TpT store!  Please leave Feedback and a Rating if you like them!


Here are my super simple directions:
1. Print one copy of the pennant that you would like to use.  Use a copier to make a set for your class.  (No need to waste your printer ink!)  Use colored paper if you won’t be having your students color their papers.  Use white paper if you plan on having students color their pennants.  Use card stock if you want the pennants to be super durable.
2. Use a paper cutting machine to chop off the diagonal edges of the pennants.  (I like to leave a little bit of a white edge, so I don’t cut the top of the page.)
3. Have students fill in the blanks in pencil.  When a student doesn’t know the spelling of a certain word, write it on a sticky note so that they can copy the correct spelling (since this is a paper you will likely display for others to read!).
4. After a student’s spelling has been checked, s/he may color the heading, stars, and border.  The star frame can be used for students to draw self portraits OR you could place students' photos inside them.
5. If you want to hang the pennants on a string or ribbon, simply punch a hole in the top corners of the pennants.
6. Voila!  You have a fantastic Back to School display!

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Nonfiction Short Text Jackpot

Are you suffering from a shortage of high-interest short nonfiction texts to use for whole group and small group lessons?  Well, suffer no more!  I just read a fantastic blog post by Jen Jones from Hello Literacy.  In her post, Jen lists tons of online sources for finding engaging nonfiction texts to use in the classroom. Click HERE to begin your nonfiction treasure hunt!

I also discovered another great site thanks to I'm Lovin' Lit's recent blog post.  If you go to, you can access nonfiction articles written by the Associated Press.  Not impressed? Well... you may be interested to know that ANY of the articles can be translated for ANY reading level from grade 2 - grade 12!  Crrrraaazzzyyy Cool!  Welcome to differentiated instruction heaven!  You can have all the readers in one classroom read *the same* article on their individual reading levels.  So... what's the catch?  You have to pay for a subscription.  Just kidding.  You CAN pay for a subscription OR you can login for FREE like this:

username: CommonCore.Teacher
password: CommonCore.Teacher

The login is case sensitive, so be sure to enter it exactly as shown above.

Please leave a comment below if you have any other nonfiction short text suggestions to share!

Get those kids reading nonfiction texts!

p.s. Check out these fabulous blogs when you get the chance.
I'm Lovin' Lit   Grab My Button

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mentor Texts

Hey friends!

Kelli & I are happy to report that we successfully made it through another week!  I know I'm definitely excited for a long weekend!  

This week Kelli and I began the preparations for our presentation at the Keystone State Reading Association's fall conference.  Originally we were worried about having enough to say to fill our time, but once we started preparing, we realized we have SO much to say that 2 hours really isn't enough!  One of the things we talked about was our LOVE of Mentor Texts during our Writing mini-lessons.  We both have a lot of favorites, so in the upcoming weeks, we will be sharing those with you.  I decided to start with my absolute favorite picture book, If Roast Beef Could Fly by Jay Leno.  I LOVE this book and so do my students.  The best part is, the back of the book includes a CD where Jay Leno himself reads the story.  The kids really enjoy having the book read by him since he uses funny voices and a lot of expression as he reads.  I use this book every year to introduce the students to the format of a narrative.  We talk about how Jay hooks the reader and develops his characters, how he describes the setting through his vivid details, and how the plot unfolds naturally.  We take the time to list out the sequenced summary of the story on a Free Plot Diagram Printable from Scholastic so we can see the different parts of the plot, and where they all fall on this graphic organizer.  Students then have the visual of how a story is written, and take time to write their own.  

Do you have a favorite Mentor Text that you always use in your classroom?  What is it and how do you use it?  We'd love to hear about it!  

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!  


Saturday, August 24, 2013

First Week of School

Happy Saturday, Everyone!

I wanted to check in now that we have officially made it through our first week of school with our new 4th graders.  My plan was to tell you all about my newly acquired LOVE for Whole Brain Teaching after spending my week introducing students to many of the techniques with Kelli, but she has beaten me to it!!  I feel completely transformed as a teacher using these strategies in the classroom, and the best part is how much our students LOVE them! My heart smiled hearing from so many of our new students that "Fourth Grade is the best!" or "I wish I didn't have to go home for the weekend!"  I can't wait to get back into my classroom with those kiddos on Monday!  

Another awesome classroom management technique that Kelli has brought into my life is Class Dojo. Class Dojo is a free website where you can track your students' behavior and time on task throughout the day.  It's such an amazing tool for teachers!!  Class Dojo is easy to customize so you can improve behaviors specific to your classroom and grade level.  The students receive instant feedback, and they love the adorable monster avatars.  The best part?  Parents receive weekly reports about their child's behavior once they sign up with an email address!  Student engagement, parental communication, and documentation of behaviors...Class Dojo is the best!  Check it out and comment below to let us know what you think!

Have a great weekend! 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

7 Habits of Happy Kids & Whole Brain Teaching

If you ever visit my classroom, you'll immediately discover that I LOVE Whole Brain Teaching.  It has revolutionized my whole-group instruction and classroom management!  I have also recently become fond of Sean Covey's 7 Habits of Happy Kids.  If you've never heard of either of these, I highly recommend checking them out.  Now that I know about them and use them in my classroom DAILY, I don't know what I would do without them!  Thank you, Chris Biffle and Sean Covey!

Click and begin your exploration HERE:
Chris Biffle's Whole Brain Teaching Website - FREE Stuff!
My Pinterest Board for the 7 Habits of Happy Kids

The two worlds of WBT and the 7 Habits magically come together in this video.  Awesome!
7 Habits WBT-Style Video