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Back to School 2016

Summer always passes in a flash. With Target filling their dollar spot full of adorable classroom decorations two days after summer break started to Dollar Tree and Walmart stocking their shelves with crayons, pencils, notebooks, and markers galore at the beginning of July; back to school was upon us before the last school year ended. It's like everyone adopted Hobby Lobby's stance on Christmas and applied it for Back to School! I think we were all secretly ok with that though ;)

With BTS in full swing, TPT's big Back to School SALE is here! Starting Monday, August 1st and running through midnight Tuesday, August 2nd you can get 20% off all products in my store. Use the code: BestYear at check out to get an additional 10% off of your purchase!

I've been using these EDITABLE Homework Menus for several years and LOVE them! Each menu for August through July contains tasks for phonics, reading/writing, math, and science/social studies. High Frequency word lists are included for each month using the first 100-300 Fry words. There are pre-and post assessments for each month to assess acquisition of high frequency words. Finally, there are several files in the download including: complete menus, editable high frequency words, editable tasks, fully editable, editable monthly calendars for behavior or parent communication.

These menus cut my prep time in half! Tasks are aligned to Common Core standards for kindergarten and first grade so students are getting meaningful practice in each night! Parents love that the homework tasks are brief, lasting no more than 5-10 minutes. Students love the autonomy of choosing which task they want to work on each night! It's a win-win! Check them out today!

Are you looking for ways to manage routines through the day? CHAMPS may be the answer! These CHAMPS posters are simplified and easy to implement. Just print, laminate, and manage behavior like a boss! To learn more about CHAMPS or this product click here!

What about morning routines. Are you in the market for a simple, paper saving morning work option? I don't know about you but I don't have the time or copies to print a page for each student everyday. I also don't believe in being that wasteful! These Morning Work Quick Activities may be the answer! Print one page per student per week! Everyday after my students unpack they take out their morning work folder and complete one of the five standards based tasks. This helps everyone settle into the day with a meaningful activity. I glue a library pocket into the front of each morning work journal. Students cut out the tasks on Monday and keep them in the pocket until we complete that task through the week. It's simple, efficient, and effective!

Can you tell I like to simplify things for myself? #WorkSmarter

I love book companions! I make them for any story I fall in love with. Check out the original Room on the Broom or the original Squirrel's New Years ResolutionChicka Chicka Boom Boom and The Kissing Hand are perfect for back to school! Click here to check out all of my book companions and book buddy activities!

How about engaging ELA activities?!?! Responding to Literature and Ultimate Word Work Pack are units I use ALL YEAR LONG! Click here to check out all of my ELA/Literacy games and activities!

These Math Supplements were a labor of love! This summer I completed mini-units for every first grade skill, concept, and standard! There is a cost saving Mega-Bundle marked down and available for further discount for this sale ONLY! Get it now for the lowest price ever! There are 18 mini-units including: Fluency within 10MoneyEquivalent ExpressionsPartitioning ShapesGeometryTime, the Commutative Property of Addition, and so many more! Check them all out here!

Remember how I told you I love book companions? I also love STEM! These book companions are a confluence of all that I big puffy heart love! There are ELA activities to help you dig into the text and pull out the very important meaning and lesson in each story. To top it off there is a STEM challenge based on the story! A single resource couldn't get any more perfect for me!

Start your school year with Rosie Revere! Your students will learn the important lesson of perseverance with Rosie as she realizes:

Your brilliant first flop was a raging success!
Come on, let's get busy and on to the next!
Life might have failures, but this was not it.
The only true failure can come if you quit.

I mean, sign me up! Check out my STEM Book Companions here!

Finally, Minute to STEM it! These quick challenges are perfect for primary classrooms. I try to do one every Friday. They really help nurture a culture of perseverance and higher order thinking in my classroom!

Happy shopping and an even happier back to school! #BestYearEver

CHAMPS Behavior Management

 Check out these CHAMPS posters here!

Pat Benatar could have written another song called "Your Classroom is a Battlefield". I'm no singer/songwriter but that would have hit big with the teacher demographic struggling to manage behaviors.

During my first year teaching I was shipped off to a CHAMPS professional development along with the rest of my school. We were given the knowledge, book, and posters to help us take a run at behavior management using a positive, proactive, instructional approach. It worked like a charm! Students thrive when they have clear expectations set for them and they understand what to do and expect. Which makes sense because, don't we all?!?!

As you can see I don't use the "S" in my display. It is available in the file for the large acronyms.
CHAMPS is a positive behavior management system created by Dr. Randy Sprick of Safe and Civil Schools. It was designed to improve classroom behaviors, reduce misbehaviors, and motivate students by establishing clear behavior expectations with logical and fair responses and consequences for misbehavior. Teachers spend less time on discipline and more time with actively engaged students who feel empowered and happy in class. Sounds like a dream, right? It is!

For eight years I used the uniform set of posters that my school provided. Two years ago I transferred to a new county and was ready for an upgrade. I designed two sets of posters. Acronyms with behavior expectations that make up a large display visible for all students no matter where they are in the classroom. In the photo above, you can see my whiteboard next to the CHAMPS display, this should give you an idea of the scale of the large display. All large posters for each acronym are pictured below.

I also designed a set of posters that are applicable to the I DO, WE DO, THEY DO, YOU DO instructional model. Some people call it the Gradual Release of Responsibility, others call it the Collaborative Framework, and who knows what teachers call it in their own classroom when the doors are closed! These posters have all behavior expectations on one 8x11 sized sheet of copy paper.

For those of you who may be new to CHAMPS, each acronym communicates to students what they are expected to do to behave successfully during specific activities or times of the school day. The CHAMPS acronym stands for:


There are a lot of sets of comprehensive CHAMPS posters. This is a simplified, easy to implement version. If you have ideas for additional prompts please comment below and I will be happy to add them. My favorite thing about these posters is that they are no prep. Just print, laminate, and manage behavior like a BOSS! Check them out here!

2017 Florida Teacher of the Year


No single word can truly sum up the experience that Florida District Teachers of the Year experience during the Macy's Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year Roundtable and Gala. If I was forced to choose a word it would be transformative. I am not the same person I was five days ago.  I have been honored, humbled, supported, inspired and empowered. I know what they've given me will positively impact my work with students in and out of my classroom and with a bit of luck and a lot of effort it will spread across my school district. They sent me on my way fired up and prepared to "pour my own pavement."

The week started with a Welcome Fair where district representatives meet Commissioner Pam, in person! That evening she hosted a Reception and Cocktail hour. Throughout the week she participated in each event, talking with teachers and inspiring us with her own stories as a  Teacher, Guidance Councilor, Assistant Principal, Principal, Deputy Superintendent, Chancellor, (Comman-cellor) and Commissioner of Education. Her absolute love for the children of Florida is both evident and inspiring. Can I be Pam one day?!?!

We spent each day talking and working with Commissioner Pam Stewart, Chancellor Hershel (Walker) Lyons, Deputy Chancellor Dr. Brian Dassler, Bonita Hampton, Megan Collins, Abbey Stewart, and so many more wonderfully inspiring and dedicated individuals who work at the Florida Department of Education.

Florida offers District Teachers of the Year the unique and exclusive opportunity to participate in the Florida Teacher LEAD Network. Most of our Roundtable work focused on Growth Mindset and finding our roles as leaders in our school and district. The DOE is investing in the development of leadership skills in Florida TOY's to "impact change in classrooms other than our own." Because #everychildmatters.

After a productive morning working with Michael Russo & Dr. Maria Reitano from the New Teacher Center and the DOE, we took a little time to shake our tail-feather because sometimes teachers need brain breaks too! Thanks Coach Mark Peters, Port Malabar Elementary in Brevard County!

One of the highlights of the week is the Teacher of the Year Gala where the next Florida Teacher of the Year is announced. It is truly a special evening! Macy's spares no expense making every teacher feel honored! Deborah Norville emcee's the event as families, friends, and leaders in both education and the state gather to celebrate the dedication and accomplishments of each District Teacher of the Year!
My mom was the best date a girl could ask for!
Thank you for celebrating with me sweet friend!
I am so impressed by each Finalist! The way they impact students each day brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes! Students talked about the love they have for their teachers and the love they feel from their teachers everyday. All of them are truly irreplaceable!

Jessica Solano who teaches 3rd grade at Highlands Grove Elementary in Polk County was selected to represent Florida as the 2017 Florida Teacher of the Year! I've gotten to know her through the District TOY network as well as at the Roundtable and I have to say she will be an exceptional representative of all Florida educators! I couldn't be happier for her and hope she enjoys every moment of this wonderful new adventure! #JessicasRunTheWorld

We reluctantly ended our week together at an Awards Breakfast the following day with more recognitions, awards (which included a very generous gift from Governor Scott and the Department of Education), and 72 new friendships. I posted #speechless & #isthisreallife all week because this experience left me in complete shock and awe.  

Teacher of the Year is so much more than a parking spot and a title. It's a unique opportunity for you to grow into and embrace your role as a teacher leader. When I was chosen to represent my district several people told me, "You have a voice in education and an opportunity to use it." For a while I wasn't sure what I was supposed to say, who I was supposed to say it to, and who would even listen. This experience helped me find my voice. It helped me figure out what I have to say. I learned that I am brave enough to pave my own path and create the change I want to see. I've been home for less then 24 hours and I've already emailed my district administration "volun-telling" them how I want to use this platform.

The truth is EVERY teacher has a voice. Every teacher has a platform outside of their classroom. Think about what you are passionate about and use your voice to effect the change you want to see in your classroom, school, district, and beyond!

I'd like to express my sincerest thanks to the Florida Department of Education, the New Teacher Center, Macy's, Eduardo Briceno, Lucas Boyce, Debbie Bowe, Diane McKee, all of the sponsors whose contributions helped make this event so transformative. Thank you for all that you do to support teachers and students in Florida. You help us effect REAL change! Most of all, thank you Clay County for allowing me to represent you! Thank you to my coworkers, family, friends, and students for supporting me, inspiring me, and challenging me to reach far enough to do my best work!

In the words of the magnetic Debbie Bowe:

Rosie Revere Engineer

Have you discovered Rosie Revere Engineer by Andrea Beaty? It's part of a series of STEM inspired books that includes Iggy Peck Architect. Ada Twist Scientist is coming September 2016! I won't spoil the surprise of how all of these characters are connected. 
This series is legit my new favorite children's books!
Check out all of Andrea Beaty's amazing books on Amazon!
I fell in love with Rosie Revere last summer after watching my students frustration with failure during STEM challenges. Rosie is a brilliant, creative, shy child. She became intimidated by failure and gave up on her dream (hello fixed mindset) until her great-aunt Rose (inspired by Rosie the Riveter, adorable right?!?) came to visit. This passage sums up the incredible message of this story! 

I decided right away that this was the perfect first STEM challenge to kick off our new school year. I wanted my students to understand that sometimes they WILL fail but how you cope with that failure determines your ultimate success. Each year I strive to create a culture of risk-taking and perseverance and this story is the perfect way to set that tone!

I started by creating ELA activities designed to help my students dig into the text and understand the message. We discussed Rosie's character traits and connected to times that we have struggled. 

Big thanks to Dana for sharing a cute character trait poster idea with me!
Doing the monkey bars, riding my bike without training wheels, doing my homework...#kidproblems
After discovering the message and learning about how we can apply it to our own life, we capped off the week with a Rosie Revere Engineer inspired STEM challenge.

Whole group resources and teacher directions.

Engineering design process recording options and reproducibles. 

I started the challenge by flying a loop plane and marking the start and goal line. Then I challenged pairs of students to modify a loop plane to travel further.

They taped paper-clips, connecting cubes, and extra loops onto their straws and tested them in the hallway counting floor tiles to measure the distance their plane traveled. 

Students recorded their process on this recording page.

How much you you love the thumbs up at the end?!?

Pairs named their loop plane and we tracked their best flight. None of the groups made it past the goal line and none of the students gave up! Instead they went back to the drawing board and I listened to them discuss what went wrong and how they can change it to travel further. It was amazing to see the shift in their mindset. They now understand it's a necessary part of growth!