31 August 2015

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...

25 August 2015

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! 

18 August 2015

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! :) 

12 August 2015

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 year...so 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! ;) 

10 August 2015

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 tricky...so 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! ;) 


06 August 2015

Back to School Bash Wrap Up!

Folks, we have a lot of winners... in fact...NINETEEN of them!!!  These winners have already been contacted, but we didn't want to leave you hanging any longer!  

 Remember that one time when we announced that ONE LUCKY winner would receive a Smartboard, Silhouette Cameo, and ESGI license??!!  This sweet girl got one giant surprise in the form of an email on Monday morning!!!
We just want to say thank you for having a little fun with us before a new school year!  We know it was a lot of work hoppin' around and entering, but we hope that you found some new companies to shop from, new bloggers to follow, and new resources to check out!  A special thank you to all of the generous companies that donated to make teachers happy all around the country... and even Canada!

05 August 2015

Set the Stage to Engage on the First Day: Week 6

It is officially time for the back to school flow. School supplies is everywhere. It's teacher mayhem in Target stores across the nation. The back to school nightmares are becoming all night motion pictures! Do ya feel me? So let's talk back to school and get excited about what is sure to be our best year yet! 

Now let's get ready...and pumped up about creating an engaging atmosphere that will set your students on fire for learning in just the first week of school! How do you set the stage to engage your students? 

Check out my most recent video on Periscope about how I celebrate the new year! 

At RCA, we are all about planning first day celebrations that will have our students giddy to run through the doors on the first day back. Be sure to watch the video to find out how we keep a balance of fun/energy/enthusiasm and rigor/manners/respect on the first day. It's all about that balance! 

Here are a few pictures from last year's first day at RCA. It was all about identity. We challenged the students to think about what legacy they would leave to future generations of RCA students. 

Every year, the faculty of RCA runs out hand-in-hand to greet our students. We hug them, cheer, throw them over our shoulders, and get them pumped up for the year ahead. This is a great way to begin building relationships from that very first moment. Your emotions are contagious. Think about that on your first day! :) 

Last year, we began our year with a dance party in our gym. The key to the success of the event? The teachers were sold out to showing the students how to have a good time. Again...emotions are contagious. {Let's be thankful that dance moves are not. Mine are definitely not the best! Don't judge me! ;) }

Engergy. Passion. Enthusiasm. JOY! Aren't those the feelings and emotions that we want for our students to associate with school? As teachers, we have to find a way to make that happen! 

My first year at RCA, we threw a "New Years" celebration. The kids received New Years hats, noise makers, and necklaces. Then we had music and danced the hour away in our library. We ended the celebration with a count down to the new year, of course! When we all screamed "Happy New Year", we dropped balloons from the ceiling. This idea can be easily replicated in any school! 

Before my years at RCA, I had always celebrated the first day back with my students. I would always choose a theme for the year and have at it. The year that we celebrated superhero style, I had a blue carpet (instead of red) that my kids walked down to enter the classroom. Of course I didn't forget the music. Kids love walking into an environment filled with energy. Music makes that happen. 

Then first day pictures are always the best. I always had a first day photo booth. I would have a volunteer come in to take pictures. The kids would go crazy over it as they were making new friends and transforming into superheroes in the booth. Here's a look at some of the props! 

Every super hero must ignite their super powers. Superhero treats always did the trick!  

While the students took pictures and enjoyed their treats, we would spend time getting to know one another and building relationships. As soon as the celebration ended (about 30-45 minutes)...BOOM!!! It was all about that content. Check out my video above to see how I made this first day happen, and how I used my celebration to motivate my learners! 

Here are some examples of the lessons that took place during day one! 

If you are interested in any of these resources, you can purchase them in my TPT shop by clicking the picture below! :) 

As you think about your first day of school, think on these words: 

Make it happen! :) Wishing you the very best for this school year! 

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