Five Fun Facts #TEACHERWEEK15

Hi friends! I am so excited. Teacher Week 2015 is here, and today I am linking up with Blog Hoppin' to share five fun facts about me. 

Fact #1: I am sort of a daredevil. I am an adrenaline junky. Now...this doesn't mean that I am brave. I still think that I am going to die every single time I try a new feat. But that doesn't stop me from trying. One time, I even decided to jump out of a plane. I might have called my mom 5,000 times to ask her if she in fact, thought I would die...but once I got going, you couldn't stop me. My husband, Wade, hates heights. Somehow I managed to talk him into jumping along. You can watch this video to enjoy the experience along with us...

Fact #2: I am a dog lover. Let me clarify...not animal lover. Dog lover! :) I despise spider, snakes, lizards, frogs, and anything else in the slimy family. However, I love, love, love my sweet puppy Maya. I call her Tas. You know? Tasmanian Devil? She is full of joy and love, but boy does she get into everything. Yep. She is a mess! 

Fact #3: I loooooovvvvvveeee basketball. Football? Not so much. But man oh man! When it's basketball season, I am all over it! Wade and I are huge Duke fans and we are also frequent visitors at Phillips Arena to cheer on the ATL Hawks. 

Fact #4: I love cupcakes. Like I would eat them for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, midnight snack if my body would allow it. My absolute favorite cupcakes are Georgetown Cupcakes. 

Fact #5: I love to teach in costume? Like I might be obsessed with it! Why? Because, well...why not? ;) 

Now head on over to Blog Hoppin' and share five fun things about you! Don't forget to link up all week long! Here's what is going down...

Cheers & Chants in the Classroom: Set the Stage to Engage Week 8

Can y'all believe it? It's week EIGHT of my Set the Stage to Engage Series. It feels like I started it...oh...who am I kidding? It feels like I started it two years ago. :) There is just something about back to school that makes each day feel like at least ten. Can I get a witness? ;) 

I know y'all don't have a lot of extra time so let's get right to it. Week eight of Set the Stage is all about how cheers and chants can add a little spark to your classroom while getting your kids attention and helping them remain engaged. 

Check out a periscope that I did a few weeks ago about this very thing. One of my dear friends, Adam Dovico, joined me for this one, and we had the best time. This video includes several cheers and chants that we both have used in our classrooms for quite some time. 

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and get your classroom cheers and chants started. You won't be sorry! :) 

If you missed any previous posts in my Set the Stage to Engage series, you can check them out below! 


Hope y'all enjoy! 

The Million Dollar Question: Reading Engagement

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know how passionate I am when it comes to student engagement. That includes during independent reading and reading instruction. I think one of the most difficult battles that we fight is how to get our students to love {sometimes we even settle for like} reading. Check out my Periscope from last week to see how I plan on engaging my readers this year! This is definitely one...of many future posts! 

I have been working and reading All. Summer. Long. I have been reflecting on my experience as a teacher and as a reader. My thoughts go in a million different directions, but even through the foggy ideas, one thing always holds true. I feel 99.9% certain that this answers the question: How do I get my students to read and love it? 

Seems simple right? Then why is it SO hard? I feel like often times, this practice is neglected because of standards and mandates. As teachers, let's be honest...we also like control. By allowing our students to select their own texts, we are releasing complete control! I know. It's scary, right?

However, if we find a way to make this happen, I strongly believe that it could potentially do more than just change our students' reading behaviors. I 100% believe this could change their lives. After all, lifelong readers is what we all strive to create. 

I am going to be breaking down my year in reading here on the blog as the weeks progress. I am sure I will have many achievements to celebrate, but I also plan to share my struggles. I am hoping that together, we can all work to change our reading instruction into something that truly engages and INSPIRES our students. 

I have also been collaborating with my brilliant friend, Adam Dovico, to create a new reading incentive program that we feel will inspire and motivate our readers. It's not reading logs. It has nothing to do with points. It's all about creating a classroom of engaged readers. Adam and I will be revealing this on September 18th. I. Can't. Wait!!! Here is a little sneak peek!  

I can't wait to share the progress of my readers this year. Let's change our readers...together! :) 

GIANT Jenga: Set the Stage to Engage Week 7

Oh. My. Word! I have been trying to get this Jenga game on here for some time now. I apologize to everyone that has been waiting. I accidentally deleted the Periscope, so I had to record it all again. Eeek! But not to's's on YouTube...and it's ready to go! Whew! 

I am SO excited about incorporating this game into my classroom this year! I love to use games to engage my students. However, it is SO important that we are designing games to make the most of our time. We don't want for students to be in large groups where they are only responsible for answering three questions in 25 minutes. On the same note, we don't want to put them in large groups where they are all discussing an answer. Let's be honest...we all know that only one {maybe two} students are benefiting from this type of activity. Typically we find that the smartest person in the group is doing all of the work. Think of games, or even better, ways to play games that will engage all of your learners at every single second.

Check out this quick little video to find out how I will be playing Jenga in my classroom this year, AND how I will engage every single student during the entire game. 

You can click the image below to download the blank Jenga game sheet.

Note: Of course you can also use regular Jenga with the same concept. I have four large sets and eight small sets that I will be using with my students. I purchased my sets from Splinter Woodworking on Etsy. They were super fast and the quality of the game is excellent

I have also had questions about storage. Here is a little peek at mine. I simply used storage containers and created labels on my Cameo. {Don't mind my sweet little pup, Maya, on the side. She just wanted to get in on the action! ;) } 

Let me know if you have any questions below, and I will answer and add to this post! 

If you missed any previous posts in my Set the Stage to Engage series, you can check them out below! 


Hope y'all enjoy! 

Set the Stage to Engage First Week Activities: Hollywood

The first week back to school is always one of my absolute favorite weeks of the year! I know it's a crazy amount of work, but it is also one of the most influential weeks that I will have with my students. It sets the tone for what is to come the remainder of the I always feel some kind of way about making it super engaging and rigorous! 

I shared a periscope on my blog not too long ago with some great ideas for back to school. You can check that video out below or read the post by clicking {HERE}

I have had several requests to give a Hollywood spin to my Set the Stage to Engage - First Week Activities. If you are looking for some fun ways to engage and challenge your learners on day one, you can check it all out below. 

I love sending postcards to students before the first day of school. There is just something about that piece of mail that gets them itching with excitement for the first day. And who doesn't love a photo booth on day one?!! It's a great way to capture those beginning memories together. 

A few treats fit for your celebrities are a must. 

Get to know one another with paparazzi profiles. The kids love wearing their cameras around just in case they have any celebrity sightings during the day! :) 

This pack also includes unconventional ways to introduce the rules. You can also check this out in my video above! 

Even on day one, it's time to get to the content. Both of these writing activities provide the perfect stage to being your writing block. 

....and more ideas ways to engage in content! 

Riddles are a great way to practice writing and making inferences. Can your students guess which classmate is hiding under the popcorn? 

You can grab all of these activities in my latest unit. Of if you are looking to transform your kiddos into superheroes, I've got you covered. Check out either unit below! 

Now, let's go BACK TO SCHOOL! ;) 

Unlock the Magic

Let me hear a shout from all of the teachers already back in school?!? My hat is off to you guys. I still have a few more weeks and my pile of work is growing by the second. As a matter of fact, I was in my room today making some pretty major changes. Can't wait to show y'all the final reveal! 

Many of you watched my Unlock the Magic Periscope last week, and I had a BIG request that I post that video and info here on my blog. I am so excited about this little reward system that I created, after years of watching The Price is Right, and can't wait to use it with my kiddos this year! Check out the video below. It is only about 12 minutes and will give you all of the details about my lock system. 

This is super easy to create and use. In short, the kids will earn keys throughout the month for different behaviors and achievements. At the end of each month, we will have a key ceremony where the students will receive their actual key and have a chance at unlocking their lock. If that lock opens, they get to attend that months reward trip. 

In the video, I gave tons of suggestions for how to recreate this project. The keys can be a little pay close attention to that part. 

And remember...reward trips do not have to be super expensive, but it is a great way to build relationships with your students outside the four walls of your classroom. If you can make it work...I HIGHLY recommend it. Watch the video for some ideas of inexpensive reward trips! 

This is where I house all of my keys. It is simply a cute storage container from Hobby Lobby that I painted to match my locks. 

That's it y'all! That's really it. How will you unlock the magic in your classroom this year? 

See you tomorrow for a little info on how I plan to use Jenga in my classroom. I told y'all it was coming soon! ;)