Top 3 Pins for Classroom Engagement

I am falling down happy to join up for this month's edition of the Pick # hosted by Pawsitively Teaching, Just Reed, and Inspired Owl's Corner!

I am back to school already and so my focus is "hooking" my students to keep them wanting to come back tomorrow!  In other words, I am all about engagement!

This pin leads to a post that is chock-a-block full of great ideas to make word walls come alive!  I especially liked the ideas of adding visuals along with definitions to the words on the wall and creating word art.  I am definitely going to be trying those right away!

This pin leads to a post about getting students excited to read new books by doing a "tasting".  It's all very well explained and looks like tons of fun!  I'll bet this event would be one that students would talk about all year!


Last, but not least, I am going to be trying the Super Improvers League.  It's a whole brain teaching concept where you track progress on a goal and students move up the ranks as a result.  It's very motivating for the students to have a goal to work towards and actually track visually.  Of course, there are also various privileges awarded for moving up the ranks, but that's part of celebrating success, right?

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How I Create A Positive Classroom Culture

I create a positive classroom culture by building relationships.

Have you ever seen/heard this TED Talk before?

In this very powerful message, Ms. Pierson says (in part) "Every child deserves a champion.  An adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connections and insists they become the best they can be."

To me, this is the epitome of teaching.  Yes, there are standards to teach and tests to take, but without the relationships in a positive classroom culture, the standards and tests just won't matter to the students.  This is because as Ms. Pierson also says in the video above, "Kids don't learn from people they don't like".  Now that doesn't mean to be the students' best buddy or to let them rule the roost.  That means "seeking to understand before being understood".

I do this in several ways:

I try to learn everyone's name (all 125 of them!) by the end of the first week.  This communicates interest in knowing my students and helps us make that first connection.  Then I use their names to greet them as they enter the classroom.  They love that I know their names!

I incorporate many ways for students to share about themselves by making a classroom quilt and then sharing information in a discussion circle.  I make a square and share too!

Making a classroom quilt:  All students contribute a square to show the power of bringing all the class's talents and skills!

I use the picture book The Patchwork Quilt  by Valerie Flournoy to explain the concept of the quilt in this way:  Separately all the fabric pieces are lovely, but together they make something much bigger, stronger and more beautiful.  Likewise, when we all bring all of our likes, dislikes, strengths, skills and talents together, we can make one bigger, stronger and more beautiful community of learners.

3.  Our rules aren't called rules - they're agreements.  We all brainstorm what we need to be successful and then we modify the ideas until we all are in agreement.  Then, I summarized our thoughts into Prompt, Prepared, Responsible and Respectful.

What if your classroom rules were agreements on what the class needs to be successful instead of rules?My classroom "rules" are agreements instead.  It's a great way to build positive classroom culture!     

I have several weeks of these kinds of activities all planned out and ready to go!   Just click here to check out these positive classroom culture helpers!

Now this is a good start, but honestly building a positive classroom culture is an ongoing task.  It's about really knowing your students and staying tuned in.  It's about giving the benefit of the doubt, having fun with the students, being fair, having boundaries and being human.

Like Ms. Pierson said, it's all about leaving a legacy of relationships.

An InLinkz Link-up

Secondary Smorgasbord is hosted by The ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures!

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Summer Show and Tell

I'm very happy to link up with Forever in 5th grade to show and tell about one big thing I was a part of this summer - hosting a Welcome Social that was held at the TpT conference in Orlando this past July!

The Florida bloggers welcomed over 600 teacher-authors to Florida to kick off the 2016 TpT Conference with swag bags, prizes a photo booth and more! 

We want to thank everyone for coming out and joining us as well as thanking our generous sponsors and donors!!

Mary, from Full of Smiles Photography, did a fantastic job of capturing the event!

First, we must thank Adam, Amy, and Paul for coming to our event!! Don't they look great?!

A huge thank you goes out to Sarah from Educlips for making this amazing clip art!

Seriously though, a big "Thank You" goes to Team TpT for coming out to the event!! It was amazing to have them come and join us in welcoming everyone to Florida!

Another BIG thanks to Tabitha Carro from Smartphone Marketing for all her support and fun giveaways throughout the event!

Another huge thanks goes out to A+ Images for sponsoring our event and giving away a class set of shirts!

We hope everyone enjoyed all the great stuff they found in their swag bags! These were packed with goodies from the Florida bloggers and specific donors!

Thank you to the amazing sponsors above as well as these great sponsors and donors for helping to make our giveaways and prizes the best!
A Modern Teacher
Safari, Ltd
Seat Sacks
Simple Soap
The Fit Teacher
Denise Boehm: Sunny Days in Second Grade
Amy Labrasciano
Cara Gingras: Kindergarten Boom Boom
Kimberly Solis: Elementary Antics
Your Thrifty Co-Teacher
Ta-Doodles Illustrations
Alexis Sanchez: Laugh Eat Learn Designs
Meg Anderson: The Teaching Studio
Teaching in the Tongass
Lyndsey Zurawski: Speech to the Core
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas
Lovely Leaders
Kristin Bowers - Kiwi Speech
Meg's Crayons
Learning Harbor
Hallie Sherman - Teacher Blogging School

It was terrific being able to host this social with all the Florida bloggers and we hope y'all come back real soon!  :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Top 3 Pins for Back to MIDDLE School!

Teachers in my district go back in just 5 days and so you can imagine I am having to shift my summer brain back into gear!

I'll be teaching 6th grade ELA exclusively at a new school this year, so my pins are focused on Middle School!


This pin leads to a collaborative blog post from Created for Learning.  My favorite was the idea of planning your walls to add things in an organized manner as the year progresses.  I know I need a word wall, an essay word wall, space for other anchor charts and students work.  Now I just have to figure out where everything should go...


This is one thing with which I am definitely going to use to decorate my room!  I think they're great discussion starters and are very decorative without being too cutesy.


Unless I have to have the same syllabus as my new PLC, I am so going to use this one!  An infographic syllabus is almost too cool.

BONUS! There is a terrific giveaway going on at

The GRAND PRIZE is a Big Swag Bag full of goodies from Teachers Pay Teachers with Starbucks and Target gift cards!

For more back to school ideas, check out my Pinterest board and the other fine bloggers that have linked up below. 

An InLinkz Link-up

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