Set the Stage

Set the Stage
Set the Stage

Thrifty Finds

Thrifty Finds
Thrifty Finds


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7 Effective Behavior Management Strategies for Upper Elementary Classrooms

Helping students learn is our primary concern as educators, but that can definitely prove to be challenging in a chaotic classroom environment. Therefore, we must do our best to provide a safe and calm environment for our students. So, how can we most effectively accomplish this?

First, let me start off by saying that it is near impossible to have a perfect day, everyday, every year, without facing zero behavioral issues. Let's face it, life just isn't perfect. However, there are definitely a few things that can be done to guarantee less behavioral issues in upper elementary classrooms, leading to a better learning environment. 

A Writers' Workshop to Motivate Students During Text-Based Writing

How can we continue to inspire students to give 100% while practicing their text-based writing skills so late in the school year? Why, candy extrinsic motivation of course. 

Let's be honest. Getting eight, nine, and ten year olds to write a well developed, multiple paragraph essay, after reading and synthesizing multiple nonfiction texts, is no easy task. It takes lots and lots of practice, plus lots and lots of motivation. By the time the end of the year rolls around, and preparation (for high stakes testing) has been going on for months, motivation to write can begin to decline. This is what happens in my classroom pretty much EVERY...SINGLE...YEAR...IF I don't think outside the box.  This year, I decided to change it up a bit, and boy, oh boy, did we see a change. What did we do differently? We incorporated colored candy extrinsic rewards into our Writer's Workshop.

What is Mindfulness? How can it Benefit Students in My Classroom?

Have you ever wondered:

  • what was I coming into this room to get?
  • what streets did I take to get here?
  • what did he just say?

These are scenarios that most of us can relate to. They are all examples of situations where our mind was, well for a lack of a better word, somewhere else. It was not in the present moment. Our mind was full, but not "MINDFUL."

What is Mindfulness?

Being present in the moment.

Thrifty Alert: Popular Book Titles for Only a Dollar? Yes, Please!

Did you know that you can grab some popular book titles at Scholastic Reading Club for just $1 a book? Yep! ONE DOLLAR!

If you aren't signed up yet, its absolutely FREE to do so, and pretty much any teacher can sign up. The best part is, that presently if you order $10 worth of books, shipping is FREE! 

Classroom Transformation - Italian Restaurant (Punctuano's Ristorante Italiano) for Commas and Periods

Classroom transformations have been so successful in my classroom, that I have recently done two in just about a month and a half. They are a great way to engage students. 

The idea for this classroom transformation was inspired by Kim Bearden from the Ron Clark Academy. 

My students had just learned six different uses for commas (appositives, words in a series, conjunctions, introductory words, nouns of direct address, and quotation marks) using the resource found HERE. I then wanted to assess their knowledge using an engaging authentic assessment. Once I saw Kim's idea, I knew I had to created something with this theme for my own students. 

Classroom Transformation - Roots and Affixes Surgery Room

Keeping students engaged and motivated, especially at the end of the year, can be quite a challenge. For this reason, I have been evaluating the best ways to keep students excited to come to class and "work" (well, to them this seems more like playing). You may be wondering if this works with older students, and the answer is DEFINITELY YES! I am a 5th grade teacher, and the students absolutely LOVE these transformations!

I used the Surgery Room Transformation to evaluate students understanding of Roots and Affixes through this rigorous and enriching activity that forced them to use higher order thinking skills in order to complete the tasks assigned. 

Parent Communication Binder - Keeping It All Together

As we all know, communication with parents is an extremely important part of our job. Staying in touch with parents about their child's progress is crucial. But how do we keep it all together when there are phone calls, emails, conferences, after school encounters, etc?

As I'm sure quite a few of you have encountered, sometimes there is a lapse in memory on our part, or the parents' part, as to the details that were discussed during one of these encounters. Because of this, I find it extremely important to keep good records of my contact with parents. Not only is it beneficial to have this communication with parents, but at most schools, and district levels, it is required. As a matter of fact, in the district I work at, teachers must present their parent communication records as part of their end of the year evaluation to their administrators. For these reasons, it became important for me to have a well organized Parent Communication Binder.