Friday, December 30, 2016

New Year Sale for Teachers

Start the New Year with savings...and a calm, confident teaching makeover.
 It's funny, but my New Year's resolution is always the same: improve everything.

I want to improve, refresh, better, evolve, and tweak everything.  The opposite is unthinkable.

That's why---every few days or every few weeks---I open up my expert guide to the perfect lesson...and tweak away.  I add pages, edit phrases for clarity, and add a few more words of wisdom.

And then I use my own tips with real kids in the classroom, so I can fine-tune them even more.  The Perfect Lesson is not written in stone; it's a work of art to be lived.

It's trans-formative--and it's my #1 pick for Teachers' New Year reading.  My runners up this month are:
...for the substitute teacher's dream life, or a regular teacher's easy Sub Binder.
...because nothing beats the sound of a Chinese New Year Dragon's tail fluttering to the beat of Chinese New Year music, in the hands of a dancing child.

Happy New Year, everybody!  Enjoy your celebration, and please stop by my store, to enjoy 20% off everything for teachers through New Year's Day!

I'm wishing you all a healthy and happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New Year's Resolutions for Kids to Review Rules

New Year's resolutions for kids are cool!
Kids are returning from a long winter break.  Here's a cheery way to review rules--and you must review rules; you know that, right?

This--talking about resolutions--is a fresh way to revisit good behavior, and respectful attitudes toward self and others.

Kids won't just recall the rules.  They'll write and draw about their resolutions.  It's like a social contract or behavior management plan--disguised as beautiful art work.  And you'll display their pieces, as a constant reminder of their promises--dressed up colorfully.

Don't just dress 'em up, bling 'em up with sparkles and spangles.  It's bubbly for kids, and a kind of buying in to the deal.

My list of kid-friendly resolutions do double duty as a brain break.  I like to chant a line and kids repeat it.  They vamp to it, stamp to it, mug away and smile--all to the beat of my electric piano rock beat.
  • I will
  • I will stand...taller
  • I will breathe...deeply
  • I will be...a better listener
Rules are cool--or "hot"--or rad, or whatever the new word is.  Word!

If you'd like My #1 Resolution printable it's part of a New Year's Fun package that includes tons of writing printables, a poster, song, hat, and a cool, hot, rad list of kid-friendly resolutions.

Enjoy your New Year's resolutions and picture-perfect behavior!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Teacher Observation Prep is the Best Gift

Teacher Observation prep might be the best gift you can give yourself.
A teacher observation is not stressful--if you're prepared.

That's why my mantra is: be prepared--at all times.   

I'll tell you how it came to me; and it starts with some stories from the trenches:

1)  A couple of years back, my super-confident teacher friend wanted to show off her self-assurance.  So she told our "Gotcha!" principal to come and observe her unannounced, at any time.  Now, this was a principal who reveled in surprising teachers when they least expected it, and loved seeing them blanch when caught doing the slightest thing off-leash. 

Well, our "Gotcha!" principal sauntered into my colleague's room--one fine Halloween Day.  It was right after our Halloween Crazy Hat assembly, complete with songs and a wild rumpus. 

I'm sure that my teacher friend put on a show of not being flustered, but I'm also sure she wasn't 100% prepared for what her students might do, pumped up on sugar and spice, and everything not nice for an observation lesson.

2)  Then there was that freezing, sleeting, dark January day--with me holed up in the boondocks of my portable trailer classroom, far from the comforts of our main school building.  My principal was absent that day, and observations were certainly not on the radar. 

Well, from out of the dark, windy, freezing rain, in stumbles my Assistant Principal.  Without a word, she settles down, opens her laptop and begins recording everything she sees and hears.

I being me--and my mantra being be prepared--I'm mid mini-lesson, with books about spiders clipped open, class-made charts comparing spiders to insects, anchor charts about writing nonfiction hanging all around, and a SMARTboard lesson with the learning target underway, and with enthusiastic kids deep into conversation mode.

I can't make these stories up.  They're real, and they've shaped my mantra, as well as the mind-set to make it happen.

If you're a classroom teacher, I hope you'll give yourself the greatest gift and be prepared for your own stories from the trenches...and be prepared with the perfect lesson at every moment.

I'm wishing you peace and goodwill--on Earth, and in your classroom.  Especially on teacher observation day.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Teacher Evaluation Level 4 Indicators

Teacher Evaluations never stop.
Last week, we had a Principal's Evaluation, during which our District Superintendent popped into my room; this week is our Quality Review (School Evaluation); and my unannounced Teacher Observation--one of 4 each year--has been awaited for a month.

No worries!

I've been honing my Level 4 indicators since day one:

  • All the kids are obviously engaged in the lesson.
  • Kids’ questions and comments show a deep understanding, and enthusiasm for the lesson.
  • Kids ask higher-order questions of each other, and can carry on a conversation without the teacher’s intervention.
  • Kids show appreciation for other kids’ work and ideas.
  • Kids help each other to be successful in discussions and group work, and involve them in the lesson.
  • Kids take the initiative to move chairs and tables, or to find and use classroom resources, as necessary.
  • Kids modify a learning task to make it more meaningful or relevant to their own needs.
  • Kids take the initiative in improving their own work.
  • Kids share their work with classmates, and give each other high-quality feedback.
Welcome to the new kindergarten, where kids ask each other, "Do you agree with me?" and "Why?" or "What do you think about that?" and "Is there anything you might change?"

...and kids take a resource book from a basket, then sprawl out in a cozy spot on the floor to find a passage that will help them complete their assignment--and share it with a friend.

...and kids ask me mid-mini-lesson, "Can we search the internet for an image of that?"

I'm loving it, and I'm sharing my love of their high-level, level 4 sophistication, with the kids themselves!  Because for me, the most important level 4 indicator is creating a class atmosphere of respect and rapport.

For tons more tips for your perfect lesson, and best observation and teacher evaluation possible, please take a look this guide. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Holiday Robots for Kids

Holiday Robots for Kids.  Say no more!
In fact, a Holiday Robot picture speaks for itself.
A Holiday Robot leaps off the page and runs circles though your imagination.

He--or she--marries math, literacy and art with the most charming verve.   Make no mistake, this is rigorous academic learning--but with a huuuuge dollop of holiday cheer.  

It's tailor made for kids--all kids.  Older kids can write pages about their creation, on the robot-styled paper included in the kit.

And, teachers, if you know you'll be absent around the holiday season, you know that your substitute teacher will adore you for leaving this assignment.  There are enough academic lessons here to last a day--and then do it all again the next day (with a different holiday character).

Robot reindeer, robot elf, robot snowman, robot gingerbread man, robot gift box, anyone?

For a kindergarten or first grade Holiday Robot, we've got you covered.
Happy holidays--beep, beep!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Humor Helps Kids

Humor helps kids--ho, ho, ho!

Laughing and fun are especially important around the holiday season.

Stress can run rampant, thanks to preparing for parties, family gatherings, money overspent on unnecessary or even unwanted gifts, or money not spent.

Humor--the unexpected, delightful twist--helps kids intellectually, socially, physically and even spiritually. 

Humor and laughter...

  • Makes kids more creative, spontaneous, and flexible
  • Makes kids able to see under the surface of things, or beyond the obvious.
  • Makes kids more social, because shared laughter is funnier
  • Makes kids more likeable
  • Helps kids deal with change or adversity
  • Helps kids to not take themselves too seriously 
  • Helps avoid getting stuck in one emotion
  • Clears away depression
  • Relieves stress
  • Teaches empathy
  • Teaches the difference between laughing at someone and laughing with someone
  • Teaches appropriateness
  • Teaches when and where certain humor is acceptable--or not
  • Shakes up the lymph system
  • Improves the immune system
  • Makes kids feel that the world is OK, everything is balanced, sadness and happiness can coexist.
Most kids "get" humor.  They laugh when something's funny.  The challenge is to teach them to be humorous--to think of the unexpected and express it in socially appropriate ways.
Kids learn how to be funny from experiencing it.  That's why I use it so much in the classroom.

I like to put a Christmas Creative Writing Speech Bubble up on the SMARTboard.  Kids take turns thinking of funny speech bubble captions.  They learn from each other: what's funny, what's hurtful, or embarrassing--and why.

I created a tutorial in the Christmas Writing Kit called How to Write with Humor, to help activate the funny bone.
It's a 2-minute bell-ringer activity.  Sometimes we do it just before dismissal, and it sends them home smiling--and thinking.
My Christmas Creative Writing Speech Bubbles include plenty of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and non-denominational pages.

Sometimes laughter is the best medicine, and the best holiday gift.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Substitute Teacher Comprehensive Guide

It's called the Substitute Teacher Survival Kit, but it's really more. 
Call it a Substitute Teacher Comprehensive Guide.  Or, Your Must-Have, Go-To Substitute Teacher Bible for the True Glory of Subbing.

I know.  I've been there.  Decades ago, before I started teaching full time, I was a sub for three years.  I wasn't awful--I kept my head above water--but I sure wish I knew all that I know now.

You know how it goes--I didn't even know what I didn't know.

That's why I wrote it all out.  So I can be there for you, the next gen.  So I can whisper in your ear, so to speak, and say, "Do thisNoooo, not that!"

...and take you through your subbing day, step-by-step, telling you moment by moment what to bring, say, and do.

...and help you to be calm and confident every time you sub.  That's what we teachers do, pass down the priceless knowledge.

This enormous tome is much more than a stack of printables you can use with your kids--although that's included, too.  Dozens of wonderful printables that will make your lessons memorable and beloved.
It's like I'm right there with you, every step of your subbing journey, from preparing for and acing your job interview, to ensuring you'll be hired over and over--and actually enjoying your days as a sub. 

If you, or someone you know, is a substitute teacher please take a look at the full description.  Make your subbing life easier, more effective, creative, and--dare I say--glorious, with the Substitute Teacher Survival Kit.

As always, I'll be thinking of you and wishing you all the best.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Substitute Teacher Guide on Sale

Substitute Teacher Guide on Sale, Cyber Monday and Tuesday:

This is much more than a run-of-the-mill guide for the substitute.

I've taught full time for over twenty years, and I've observed hundreds of subs and teachers in action.  I've seen it all--the good, the bad, and the Kindergarten Cop Chaos.  This resource is a detailed and comprehensive account of what to bring, do, and say when you sub.

And, it includes dozens of printables a sub can use all year.

If you're a regular teacher, this makes an easy Substitute Binder--for the days you are absent.
...And, it's on sale for an absurdly low price on Cyber Monday and Tuesday.  Please stop by and take a look at the Substitute Teacher Survival Kit: Everything You Need for Grades K - 5.

Sunday, November 27, 2016





If you download these Behavior Management Callbacks--for FREE, today; Sunday, November 27th & Monday, November 28th ONLY--

...AND leave your positive feedback at TeachersPayTeachers...

You will be in the running to win a $10 GIFT CERTIFICATE to use at One winner will be chosen at random.

Enjoy your callbacks! Behavior management is UNTHINKABLE without them ;-)

Behavior management is easy with callbacks! Simply say a phrase and kids will repeat or respond enthusiastically. Kids are hard-wired to chant, so behavior management is better than effortless—it’s fun.

P.S.  This contest is now closed.
Thank you all for entering...
And thank you, for selecting my winner, ZippadeeZazz ;-)

More good news:
Cyber Monday gets you 28% off everything at my store.  Please look around.  And enjoy your fabulous Cyber Monday deals.

Teacher Resource Sale!

Teacher Resource Sale!
If you've been on the fence, please consider these teacher resources at steep Cyber Monday discounts:


If you download my Behavior Management Callbacks--for free, today; Sunday, November 27th & Monday, November 28th ONLY--

AND leave your positive feedback at TeachersPayTeachers...

You will be in the running to win a $10 GIFT CERTIFICATE to use at  One winner will be chosen at random.

Everyone wins something. 

Happy Cyber Monday to all!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Creative Thanksgiving Fall Montage for Kids

Celebrate a creative Thanksgiving with a fall montage for kids.
 Scarecrow, straw and turkey.
 Pumpkin, plaid, crows 'n berries, corn 'n apples, farmer hats, big buttons, twigs 'n leaves...
...and don't forget the turkey!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Turkey Craft Tips

Turkey craft tip #1 is... 
1)  Start cute!  OK, that's obvious.  Turkey hat, anyone?
2)  Make a pop stick puppet.
3)  Tape a sparkly pipe cleaner to the back to make your turkey "dance."

 4)  Staple or glue a cup to the back to make a "cornucopia" catch-all.
5)  Staple a gift bag to the back...
6)   ...and add a gift!
7)  Fall Montage:
8)  Hang your turkey craft on your wall and smile every time you see it.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving turkey craft!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Pilgrim Hat Pop Art

Pilgrim hat pop art
This is not your great-great-grandfather's pilgrim hat.  It's museum-quality, eye-popping rad.

My coloring tip: color in small, round, light-stroke, continuous and different-sized circles.  And, blend similar colors on top in layers.

Success for everyone!

Then, to make them really come alive, fold black construction paper or card stock in half and cut thin strips for the head bands--about 12" long will do.  Staple the two ends to the back of each hat, just above the bottom rim.

Display your pilgrim hats in the weeks before Thanksgiving...or let kids channel their inner pilgrim and wear them every day.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thanksgiving Creative Writing for Kids

Thanksgiving is all about thanks…
Not just for what you have, but what you are—your loves, wishes and dreams.
This Thanksgiving, give your kids a special gift—a Thanksgiving Creative Writing Keepsake Book.
This writing project will take your kids on a journey to a New World—a world they create out of their own desires and imagination.
Over the course of 10 pages, they will follow the Pilgrims' Journey, then imagine and write about their own ideal trip to a New World.

Creative writing and divergent thinking pops off the page.  It’s great for kids of all ages.  And teachers, you’ll find yourself filling in the blanks, too!
When I display these, I open each book up to a different page, telling the pilgrim story in sequence.
You can let your kids channel their inner pilgrim with a classic pilgrim hat.  One teacher told me she’s letting her kids wear their hats every day till Thanksgiving.

How fun is that?  I'll give thanks for that!