The power of yet

Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Growth mindset ~ I know, I know you've been hearing about if for a while now.  You may think it's just a new educational 'buzz' word but just hear me out....
Growth mindset has totally changed the trajectory of my classroom over the last 2 years.  It has truly been a mind shift for myself and my students and I've fallen in love with the concept!

growth mindset and the power of yet

Welcome to another edition of 

I'm here to talk to you all things Growth Mindset.  I know I've shared some growth mindset posts in the past that had products I've made that were helpful but I want to talk to you about implementing it.  You can implement it at any point in the year but I will say starting at the beginning of the year is helpful.
It truly can become the culture of your classroom if you do it right.  We all want a safe, fun, engaging, family type climate to our classroom right?!?!  Well, I'm gonna tell you growth mindset can definitely help you get there.
It will take some buy in from your students - I'm guessing you have already bought in so it will be easier to sell your students on it.  When your students hear you using growth mindset 'talk' they will follow suit.  They will see that it is the norm of your classroom and expected and you will see them start to use it with their peers.  It's such fun to watch!
As you work through math, etc as the teacher do 'think alouds'.  Kinda like you would in a read aloud.  But, say things out loud to yourself like, " I haven't done a math problem like this in years...but I know if I work though it then it will all come back to me."  "I've got this!"  I do this all.the.time guys!  Your students will get a kick out of it, but seriously I tell them - we didn't learn math this way so I'm new to this too.  This helps you become so much more relate able to them.
As you introduce it you definitely need to explain to your students the differences between a fixed and growth mindset so they understand.  Maybe they can think of a time in the past when they have experienced both.  This would be a great time to have them pair share with a peer and give examples of both so they can have a deeper understanding of it.  I heard students say things like, " I had a fixed mindset when I got mad during soccer and had trouble passing."  I stormed off the field at the end of practice.  Or, I had a growth mindset during piano because I wouldn't go outside and play until I learned the ending to a song I was practicing.  I finally got it and felt really proud for not giving up.  They start to see it in their lives as they reflect which is awesome!
There are several activities you can do to reinforce this, sorts, books to read, etc.  But honestly the key to having a successful growth mindset in your classroom is revisiting it all day long and making it a natural part of your dialogue.  Anytime you can apply it, bring it up, like I said this helps it become a culture in your classroom.  I may mention, " Sydney had a growth mindset moment today during reading, she used her reading strategies and word attack skills to figure out some hard vocabulary words. "  Things like this will stick out in the kids minds and they will want to be recognized for the same thing.  You will see them persevering without even thinking about it, soon it will become second nature and you won't have to fight a battle with those kids that tend to give up easilyIt's honestly magical!!!
Once you start to see this happening frequently you can move onto the strategy and feedback stages of growth mindset.  Your students need to do more than recognize when they need to use it in their lives, they need to use it in deeper and more meaningful ways as well.  These are what I like to call extensions of growth mindset.  They need to pull from a variety of strategies when they are struggling or ready to give up.  Sometimes they need to see what might be setting them up for failure and address that first.  If it's negative self talk, lack of confidence, etc.  This is hard for little guys to do but if you teach upper grades/ middle or high this is feasible.  
Next, they need to work on giving and accepting feedback - positive or negative.  Learning to accept criticism and move on and improve from it is key in lifeI teach my students that we can learn from constructive criticism and make our lives better.  I give them the example of when the principal comes in to observe me.  He gives me constructive criticism/feedback and I can improve my teaching practices and be a better teacher for them.  I don't get mad or insecure, I learn from it and move on.  That is hard for kids but certainly doable!  

growth mindset and the power of yet

All of these ideas will help your growth mindset class be set up for success but you need to slowly introduce it.  Use growth mindset type sayings often like, " you did it!"  "You can persevere, keep trying, I know you can do it, believe you can, it will just take time", etc.  Discourage fixed mindset talk like, "I'll never be able to do this" and call it what it is!  I have said to students, "oh my, we don't say that in our class, that is a fixed mindset."  "We can turn this around, how can we approach this instead!"  Just like I don't allow bullying or laughing at someone - I also don't allow fixed mindset talk.  The kids know this and learn it quickly.  They quickly change their self and peer talk.  It's so fun to hear students say to kids that would typically use fixed mindset talk.  They say, "you can do this, just change your thinking, you got this!"  It makes my heart so happy!  With a little care, some modeling and gentle encouraging you can completely change the culture of your classroom.  I interviewed a couple kids and asked them how growth mindset has changed their thinking and this is what they said: 

growth mindset kid quote

growth mindset kid quote

growth mindset kid quote

growth mindset kid quote

I hope this has encouraged you to give it a shot, if you feel like you might need some resources to help you out here are a few links you can take a peek at:

growth mindset activities and pack

growth mindset activities

growth mindset giraffes can't dance

I hope this has helped you realize that you can easily introduce and continue a strong growth mindset presence in your classroom with just a little effort.  You got this teachers, message me or visit my instagram and let me know how it goes. 
As always... happy teaching! 


Chrome books in the classroom

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Technology isn't going anywhere, it's here to stay!  How are you using it in your classroom?  I know a lot of k-2 teachers use ipads but in the upper grades we are pushing them to also use chrome books since the state tests are on those starting in third grade.  So, I have some tips to help you out if you are a beginner in the chrome book world.  

Welcome to another edition of 

Let me preface this with telling you that I'm not that techie.  I mean really I'm not.  I ask a lot of questions and try really hard and usually need even more help.  But, the key is I try.  I've been teaching 23 years and I didn't grow up with a phone at any age.  When I had my first child my husband was a football coach and he wore a beeper in case I went into yeah, I'm old! 
Since I've moved into teaching third grade that is unfortunately focused on ' the test'  I have to be cognizant of my students typing skills.  Let's be honest these tests are brutal and if they don't have sufficient typing skills...well I'll have criers.  For real, the test is hard enough if they can't type a paragraph or short answer I'm done for...they'll give up and type 4 sentences when I know they are capable of writing 3 paragraphs.  So, I do start every chrome book cart time with typing practice AND using the 'home row'.

typing games for students to practice

I don't know all the latest and greatest activities to do with chrome books, I've never been to a CUE conference but I wanted to share what I do as a mediocre tech person to encourage some of you that are in my same boat.


First of all you need a plan.  If you get the chrome cart twice a week you CANNOT go in without a plan.  Treat your chrome book time like a regular lesson you would teach.  In my plan book I have a specific plan on the days I use chrome books.  We may be finishing up a research project or using a digital resource from TPT.  We might be working on a google quiz I created to reinforce our work on fractions or prefixes.  

chrome book ideas to use in the classroom


If you haven't tried out Kahoot you are missing out!  Kahoot is amazing and it is a sure fire way to get your students excited about anything.  It's easy to search for pre made Kahoot games that you can use in your classroom.


Learn what you can about Google classroom, Google slides, forms, quizzes, etc.  I know many districts now offer after school trainings on this and some even send teachers to Google summits.  Go for it.  You will learn incredible ways to use Google maps, go on virtual Google field trips, etc.  Google classroom is easy to set up and use I promise!


There are so many websites out there that offer FREE educational activities for your students.  You may need to research a bit, in fact I encourage you to play the game yourself before you have your students use it to see if it's a valuable teaching tool to reinforce learning or a glorified fun, game they can play that is meaningless.


Set up a time to SKYPE with an author, they often accept pre sent questions so if you plan well and send your questions out ahead of time your student may just hear their name and their question during the SKYPE session which is pretty cool.  

There are endless ideas and activities you can do with your students when they have their chrome books.  My biggest bit of advice is to plan and review before you even start a session with the chrome books.  Plan ahead so your time and more importantly your students valuable time isn't wasted.  
I hope these ideas were helpful, if you have some fun sites, drop them below and we can all share.  
OH before I forget:  If you have never heard of Kiddle you MUST check it out.  It's a kid friendly search engine that we use all the time.  So if your students are researching something you never have to be afraid anything inappropriate will come up because it's filtered.  Even if your district has a filtered wifi this is like double coverage.  It looks something like this:

kid friendly search engine

As always, 
happy teaching !


Sunday Night Snippets on Instagram

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Are you on Instagram?   Do you love FREE teacher tips?!?!  Well I have just the thing you may be interested's called Sunday Night Snippets...

Every Sunday ( usually late afternoon or evenings ) I have an instastory dedicated to just teacher tips.  Sometimes it's an organization tip, I may talk about flexible seating or a new product launch.  Lots of times I talk about behavior management or an art idea.  I often include freebies too so you don't want to miss out!
Tune in each Sunday ( while school is in session ) I typically don't do it over holiday breaks and not often in the summer.  You can find me here:

I would love to have you join me and see what I'm up to each week.  
As always ~ happy teaching my friends!!


Early readers and Comprehension

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
SSupport your early readers by using your small group time effectively.

I've spent most of my career in first grade so I'm pretty passionate about all things literacy and reading instruction.  I know how difficult it is to not only get your students to grade level and beyond, instill a love of reading in them and teach them comprehension.  Not to mention fluency and phonetic instruction...whew!  Makes me tired just thinking about it!

I have since moved up to third grade and I have to say I do miss all the phonetic work I did with my firsties.  There's so much to learn and it's all so exciting!  I give #allthecredit to first grade my mind they have the hardest job.  There are so  many expectations put on these little 6 year olds nowadays.  I do struggle with this as well...if you've followed me for very long you know I'm quite passionate about the  #letthembelittle philosophy.  However, I'm here to share some ideas on teaching reading and encourage you along the way.

One thing for your 'real' littles is this - remember what Jen Jones said best:

YES!  Reading pictures is foundational, I loved watching my own children make up words to picture books when they were 3 years old.  They looked at the pictures and read what they saw.  This is an important step and it's okay to encourage it.

One way I supported my struggling readers was through pictures and words.  This gave them confidence and scaffolding at the same time.  
Talking about text is sooo important, I can't stress that enough!  Talk about text with think alouds while you are reading aloud whole class, talk about text in small guided reading groups.  Your students are going to remember what they are reading by making connections to the text, so if you are talking about it they are more likely to find a connection.  Even better if they can make a sensory connection, if you can tap into their senses and make a connection that way it is likely to stick with them.  
Background knowledge or schema is super important too.  I think sometimes as teacher we make some assumptions as we teach and we need to stop doing that.  Our students come from a wide range of backgrounds.  Their experiences are different from ours and from each others.  So, be sure to discuss what you are reading and see if they are truly understanding the text again making connections as much as you can along the way for them.
Reading between the lines is an important skill that even your young readers can draw upon.  If they can draw inferences out of the text they are going to be successfulWhen you are reading aloud whole class model these strategies so when they are asked to do them they will have a road map of how to get there.  Show them how they can read between the lines and find out what the author is trying to tell us even if it's not spelled out.
You, as their guide will help them with any fix up strategies they need in small groups.  They rely on you to reinforce those tricky phonetic skills and help them with the strategies they need to be successful readers.
If you have young, reluctant readers that still need a bit of scaffolding you will find success with this product:  You can get it ( here )

early comprehension for kindergarten

As you can see the pictures and the short easy to read passages are perfect for your youngest learners.

kindergarten comprehension

This next pack is perfect for your youngest readers, helping them along with the basics.  You can grab it ( here )

kindergarten reading posters
 These basic posters are perfect for your young readers.

vowel word work
 Basic letter work and vowel practice is key!

kindergarten assessments
  Assessments for concepts of print, letter recognition etc is also included in this pack.

mini book for kindergarten on how to read a book
 A mini book that reminds them how to properly hold a book, read etc.

cvc, segmenting sounds and finger spelling to help with phonics instruction
 Cvc words and finger spelling perfect for small group instruction.

Making sure your students are tracking correctly in reading.
 Another important skill to keep your eye on is tracking, this pack has you covered.

Finding the differences between letters and words and consonants and vowels

Working on understanding the basics of : is it a letter or a word and understanding the differences between consonant and vowels will be very helpful as well.

 Lastly, my phonemes pack is very helpful for your readers that are still getting hung up on decoding.  It helps them break words down into chunks or use finger spelling as a strategy.  Grab it ( here )

phonemes, word work, phonics and finger spelling

I hope these ideas help transform your small group time to be more effective for even your most reluctant readers.  
Happy teaching! 


The Math Struggle

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

the math struggle, stop rescuing your students

Welcome to my

The struggle is real guys ~ the math struggle that is... our district has been trained in using the Julie Dixon math strategies for a couple of years now and I have mixed thoughts about it, however....
My foundation for math was poor at best!  I have always struggled in math, growth mindset or not because I had NO... I mean ZERO foundation.  I basically skipped first grade and went from kindergarten to 2nd.  I was an excellent reader and tagged as gate/super smart back then ( mid- to late 70's ).  My mom was a teacher so I happened to be a strong reader.  So, my school put 4 of us into a 2nd grade classroom straight from kindergarten and on top of that our teacher was 100  very old and well how do I say this nicely - close to retirement and it was obvious that her head wasn't in the game anymore unfortunately for me.  I'll never forget raising my hand in class...granted I was not the outgoing person I am now.  In fact I was quite shy until about third grade.  I asked her to further explain borrowing/regrouping for me since I only learned the basics like 10 - 6 in kinder.  She lashed out at me and said,        " You are suppose to be one of the smart ones. "
" You just need to catch up with the 2nd graders and get to it. "  She DID NOT, I repeat DID NOT explain math to me.  The girl I sat by who was a 2nd grader...I'll never forget her name - Hillary said this to me, " You're dumb! "  Wow, I was broken...devastated.  I never raised my hand in that class again during math.  It's funny I taught first grade for 15 years...I feel like I was making up for the non existent experience I had in first grade in that 1/2 combo class.  Yeah, it was suppose to be a combo class and she literally said out loud,  you first graders since there's only 4 of you are going to just get 2nd grade twice.  WOW, that's all I can say.
So with all that being said, I spent about 20 years RESCUING my students in math.  FOR real folks!  If one of my littles looked like they were struggling in math - I jumped up and practically gave them the answer so they didn't feel like I did waaayy back then.  I never really thought much about it until I met Juli Dixon over 2 years ago.  
She spends a lot of her time teaching teachers to STOP rescuing their students.  That really hit home to me, I mean I was a teacher, I'm in the helping profession, I love kids...blah, blah, blah!  Let's face it I wasn't doing any of them any favors by jumping to their rescue.  There's something to be said about the productive struggle that students go through.  No pain, no gain we hear that all the time in regards to working out and staying in shape right?!  
I started to shift my mindset and try out some of her strategies and...guess what!?!  I learned a lot about myself and my students.  I reevaluated the way I taught math, looked at math and the way math was perceived by my students because of how I have always felt about math.  I look back and think how many times I had rushed through math to get to something I loved to teach...seriously!!!!  UGH!
I started to ask open ended questions and give tasks with less directions and manipulatives and watch them work in groups collaboratively to figure things out.  I gave lots more time to my math block and actually had fun teaching it.  My mindset began to change quickly as I saw that my students loved math and even more as I started to see light bulb moments all over my classroom start to happenMath is now one of my favorite subjects to teach!!!
There is a fine line between the productive struggle and losing the student I get it...but I do challenge you to look at how you are helping your students.  Are you giving them too much help/direction?  Are you rescuing them before they could reach it on their own and find their own success?  Just some food for thought in our ever changing and evolving journey as a teacher.  As always happy teaching my friends! 


Winter Ideas and freebies

Friday, January 5, 2018
Have you gone back to school or are you headed back Monday?  Well I have a couple ideas I want to share with you that might make your first week back more bearable.
One is something to help you reconnect with your students and make them feel special and it's easy - who doesn't love easy?
Print out snowflake clipart and either hand write or type a special message to each child.  Set it on their desk first thing in the morning and you are all set.  Some kids have a little anxiety when it's time to come back to school so this should ease that and make them feel right at home again.  If you are interested in having your own editable page so all you have to do it print and write or print and type you can click ( here ) for your own copy to make your life easier...OR you can just use your ellison machine and punch out the snowflakes with construction paper.

snowflake note to students

Another fun art project you can do with your students the first week back or anytime in January is this adorable snowman art.  It is so easy it can even be done during a reading group rotation.  You can grab this cute freebie ( here )

Snowman freebie craft

Lastly, another idea if you are in need of writing thank you notes for all your wonderful Christmas gifts from your students is this cute backdrop....

Holiday backdrop idea for photos

Set this up in your classroom and have each child stand against it.  They can just stand and smile or hold up a banner that says thank you.  You can make one, you can pick up a chalkboard heart garland from Target and write thank you on that...lots of ideas.  Then glue to a blank card or even index card if you are desperate and you're all set.  The parents will appreciate that you took the time to say thank you but they will LOVE the card you gave them also.  It's a #winwin!
I hope these ideas will help you ease back into the school year my friends.  Happy teaching!