I've already written all about HOW and WHY you should use choice boards in your classroom. Are you convinced yet? (If not, revisit that blog post here.)

I've made tons of choice boards for my own classroom (13, to be exact!) and many others for YOUR classroom based on requests. View all of my choice boards here




So are you ready to try choice boards, and maybe even wanting to make one personalized to your own classroom? THIS is the blog post for you! 


Recently, I was featured on the Edverything Podcast reiterating why I love choice boards and telling teachers step by step how to make their own. (Listen here). 



Want a quick recap of the design segment of the podcast?

Here are the basic steps I go through when making my choice boards:

1. Choose your topic and zoom in.

2. Review your standards BEFORE designing tasks... I learned this the hard way! 

3. If needed, pull up a visual aid for Bloom's Taxonomy to get your creative juices flowing.

4. Strategically place tasks on your choice board based on depth of knowledge / level of thinking required. If you choose to ask students to complete a tic-tac-toe, you'll want them to complete three different types and levels of tasks.

5. Use QR codes for tasks that require technology. 

6. Appeal to various learning styles. Think: multiple intelligences. 


To help you achieve this, I've created a resource to guide you through the creation of an awesome choice board. This checklist includes types of tasks you should try to include on your choice board in order to appeal to various learning preferences and to create opportunities that are engaging, rigorous, and relevant. At the bottom of the checklist, I've linked my favorite resources that I use to help me as I create my own choice boards. 

I'd love to send you this resource for FREE to help you make intentional choice boards! 

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    In order for students to be successful, you'll need to set expectations. The higher your expectations are, the more your students will achieve!

    One problem I've had with choice boards is students rushing through tasks to try and get them all done. We had to have a class meeting to discuss that getting all 9 things done is not the goal. Creating something to enrich your knowledge and to demonstrate your understanding of the content is the goal! At the beginning of the year, I created exemplars to show students the quality of work that I expected from them. 

    At the end of each unit, students love to present their work to the class! They are so proud to show off their hard work, and they get to work on those speaking/listening skills. 

    Lastly, choice board products make a great and super easy hallway display! Students can hang up their work as they finish something they are truly proud of. Your hallway display will be cohesive yet differentiated - win win! 

    Have I convinced you yet? What are you waiting for?! Get started on your own choice boards, or save yourself some time by looking at all of the options I have for you here.

    XOXO


    Year six is DONE, y’all!
    ⁣⁣
    I spent a lot of time during the last week working on my “back to school box,” which I’ll pack in my closet LAST so it’s easily accessible when preplanning rolls around much too soon.

    I learned this trick from some other teacher friends of mine, and it truly makes returning from summer break SO MUCH EASIER and so much less stressful!

    I’ve been doing this for the past few years and it’s a TOTAL game changer - seriously.



    ⁣⁣
    𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐞’𝐬 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭’𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞:

    • Sneak Peek supplies (tablecloths, signs, forms, etc)⁣⁣
    • Supplies I’ll need immediately (scissors, Sharpies, stapler, staple remover) ⁣⁣
    • Blank nametags for desks and for students ⁣⁣
    • Back to school bulletin board decor⁣⁣
    • Birthday treats for the year⁣⁣
    • A note I wrote to myself when I started my first year of teaching: My former principal made the whole staff do this, and I still have it!

    ⁣⁣
    Do you make a back to school box?

    If not, try it this year and thank me in the fall!







    Each year, 3rd graders participate in a "living wax museum" project during the last month of school. It's truly one of my favorite days of the year! We spend a few weeks reviewing nonfiction by studying biographies, then students get to bring biographies to life! 

    If you haven't tried a wax museum yet, you totally should. It is SO much fun - You will be so impressed by your students!

    We all have research standards, writing standards, and speaking/listening standards that can be taken care of with this project. Having students write speeches and present in front of an audience is not only meeting standards but it also an important life skill. 



    My team chooses for students to complete the project almost entirely at school. We spend a few days researching, a few days writing, and a few days making posters. At home, students practice their speeches (aiming to memorize) and put together a costume. 

    We also encourage artifacts to make our wax museum like a real museum. You will notice that Jackie Robinson brought a baseball bat and glove, while Maria Tallchief brought her pointe shoes! 



    I like to show my students pictures and videos of real wax museums to help them understand the concept. Otherwise, they have no idea why it's called a wax museum!

    We also spend some time watching videos on YouTube of other schools' wax museum exhibits, that way students have a model of exactly what is expected of them. 


    On the day of our wax museum, students show up in costume and we all trek to the cafeteria to set up the exhibits. Students must choose a statue-like pose for their wax figure and remain still and silent until a visitor presses the "button" to make the figure come to life! 

    We invite the second graders to our wax museum for a little bit of practice before the parents arrive. 


    You can grab the "button" for free right here. If you need to edit it to fit your needs, click "File," then "Make a Copy" to duplicate the document to your own google Drive. 

    Are you looking for a resource to give you a head start on your wax museum project preparation? I've got you covered with this teacher-tested, parent-approved, completely editable resource.

    This product includes a fully editable parent letter explaining the living wax museum project, a suggested timeline for project completion, a rubric, and an optional outline/organizer to help students write their speeches. Read more here


    It is specifically designed to be used for book characters or famous Americans, but really the possibilities are endless. You could tweak it to make it work for historical figures, public figures, people important to your state, or anything else that helps you meet your standards!

    HAVE FUN! 



      








    Once upon a time, when I first started teaching, I started building my classroom library. 

    I gathered books from retiring teachers and Goodwill. Throughout my career, I've grown my library by using Scholastic Book Club points, visiting Scholastic Warehouse sales, and shopping for specific series lots on eBay. The bins are from Dollar Tree, and they've held up well! 

    I must say - I'm super proud of my library! 


    My first school required me to have my library sorted by guided reading level. I get that! Students, in order to improve reading skills, should be reading books on or slightly above their instructional reading levels. 

    My library looked like this for six years... until now. 

    I noticed this year especially that my students rarely visited my classroom library unless I forced them to "book shop." They LOVE reading on Epic! where they can easily search and sort by categories. 

    Plus, as a grow as a teacher, I've learned that the most important thing about a child reading is that they are learning to LOVE to read. What if they can't find a book they love in their reading level basket? I don't want to be the adult in a child's life that turns them off of reading. 



    So, I decided to take on the hefty task of reorganizing my library by categories and genres. The kids helped me brainstorm, and it actually only took a few days to do! 

    Here's what we ended up with:

    • Short Fictional Stories (aka 5 baskets of picture books)
    • Early Chapter Books
    • Fiction Favorites
    • Magic Tree House (the only series that could fill a basket on its own)
    • Fantasy
    • Sports
    • Silly Series
    • Mystery
    • Historical Fiction
    • Realistic Fiction
    • Adventure
    • Math
    • Fables, Folktales, and Fairytales
    • Animal Fiction
    • Animals: Nonfiction
    • Nonfiction

    I added examples to some of the labels to help students out. For instance, Junie B. Jones and Horrible Harry fall under silly series. If you want to see more - or use my labels for your classroom - you can find my classroom library labels HERE. (It's a Google Doc, so you'll need to make a copy to your own Google Drive in order to edit it. Click File, Make a Copy!) 

    The labels are the perfect size to fit inside the clear pocket labels from the Target dollar spot. That makes it super easy for you to change out if needed, too! 


    The biggest issue I face now is the book return, because I've willingly made the system more complicated. Honestly, kids put books back wherever they want - even when they literally had to match the letter on the book to the letter on the basket - and I'm sick of it! 

    Until I can come up with a better system, like labeling my books again (which I know will take forever), I've decided to create a book return basket. 



    For now, this will be my job to replace the returned books. I know it's another thing to add to my plate, but it's a task I'm willing to take on in order to save my sanity. Plus, I'm thinking that if kids are finding books they actually love, they won't be trading out books as often since they'll be enjoying them from start to finish! (Wishful thinking?)

    Eventually, I'd like to train students to be in charge of the book returns. I may train my after school program students, who are the last to leave during dismissal and already file all my papers for me - ha! Or, I'm thinking that I could add the task to my team jobs. We'll see! 


    The pink label bothers me a little as it doesn't match my color scheme, but I hope it stands out enough for kids to actually use it! 


    Any questions? Leave them in a comment below!



        





    It's that time of year, y'all! *finally*

    Time for students to reflect on their year of experiences while you start packing up your classroom. Whew! Exciting, but hectic! 

    One of my favorite projects for the last week or two of school is this newspaper creative writing task



    It's a meaningful, creative writing activity for the end of the year! Students use all those writing skills they learned throughout the year to write about how they feel about the end of the year, their favorite memories, and advice for next year's students.



    We all have standards that state something about "using standard conventions of English" and "with the support of an adult, publish a writing piece." This is a great end-of-year assessment tool to see how much your students have grown in their writing abilities. Copy one of the pages as a work sample, if you need one! Most importantly, it's also a fun way for our students to "publish" their writing by creating their own newspaper; They love it! 

    It's up to you if you use just one page or all four! I personally like to use all four pages and have students glue them on a 9x18 piece of construction paper so that the end result looks like a real newspaper. However, you could also do one page front and back so that it ends up looking more like a newsletter or pamphlet. Your classroom, your decisions!


    The comic section is - of course - the favorite of many students. They will likely need a reminder that the comic strip should portray an event from the school year, not sometime completely random AKA related to Fortnite. 

    Prepare to be shocked by how excited students get about the newspaper project and how engaged they are while working on it. This is a great task for students to work on while you wrap up end-of-year testing, makeup work, or other tasks! 



    The newspaper ends up being a great keepsake for the students, too. Bonus points!

    I know what you are thinking. Do I have this for your grade level?

    OF COURSE! You can find all of my newspaper products right here to locate that one that best suits your classroom. 


    Best of luck to you as we wrap up yet another school year! We've got this! 






    We finished testing last week. Whew!

    Now we relax AKA anxiously await the results. *fingers crossed*


    I already told you some of the things we did to prepare for testing, specifically 4 ways to reduce testing anxiety, but here are some things I did throughout the testing week to keep kids calm and positive. 


    Say Goodbye to Worries:

    One day, we read Wilma Jean the Worry Machine, which is a Julia Cook book about a young girl who suffers from anxiety. Throughout the book, she learns that worrying isn't helpful and what she can do to deal with it. You can find it on Amazon here (affiliate link) or watch on YouTube here


    After reading, we talked about all of the testing "What Ifs" that students may be wondering. Like Wilma Jean, we discussed worries that we CAN control versus worries that we CANNOT control. Lastly, I encouraged students to write down their worries on a sticky note. I told them no one would see what they wrote - not even me. 




    Peer Letters of Encouragement:

    Another day, students wrote letters to a peer. They drew a classmate's name out of a hat - actually, a box, LOL - and settled down to write a meaningful note of encouragement. 

    I included a checklist at the top of the template to hold students accountable. The checklist gives ideas and suggestions for students to write about. That way, even if they drew a name of someone they do not know very well, they still had plenty to write about. I really wanted all of my students to write, and therefore receive, quality letters. 



    This template is available for only a dollar right here in my TPT store. Print on colored paper, chop on the dotted line when students are done writing, and leave them on desks for your precious students to find one morning of testing. 

    You've got this, teach! Go get 'em! 



     


    Spring has sprung, and  a new season means new text features passages!

    First, let me tell you about how I teach text features in my classroom. 

    • I love cutting up an old book, magazine, or Scholastic news to make an anchor chart. It's a great way to teach text features in context and make the concept a little less abstract. 



    • Hand motions! Lots of hand motions. Whole brain teaching strategies help vocabulary stick. 

    See the full video here

    • Revisit constantly. Every time you see a text feature, point it out, and discuss how it can help you with comprehension. 

    • Three words: text features passages! 


    Learn more:

    I love using text features passages as practice and assessment. I originally created these products for my own classroom. I needed a way to assess my students’ understanding of text features other than by observation, and I wanted the assessment to tie in to our science and social studies curriculum. Thus, this idea was born. The kids have fun using different colors to identify the different text features, and it provides great work samples for me. 

    Want to try some out for yourself? 

    I actually have TWO freebies for ya! 

    The first, about the life cycle of a butterfly, can be downloaded for FREE in my TPT store. Click here to find and download the free sample. 




    One teacher says, "This product is a great way to bring science and writing together. It made the text features explicit so students could have that "ah-ha" moment."

    Want another freebie? I have another passage to offer you all about the life cycle of a frog:





    Join my newsletter & I'll send it for FREE!

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      The frog freebie would be great to use in conjunction with the other free article about the butterfly life cycle. Try comparing/contrasting the text features OR the content!



      Looking for more to engage your students even more? 

      Holiday text features passages may be for you! 

      These passages are always a HIT with my students. They get excited about the holiday and forget that they are working! 

      I love using these passages to practice 
      • determining the main idea using text features, 
      • making text-to-self-connections, and 
      • using context clues to infer the meaning of unknown words. 
      • Fluency practice always works, too! 

      The first page in each pack is called “Comprehension Check.” Just choose the passage you are going to use, then copy the Comprehension Check onto the back of the chosen passage. You will then have a two-sided nonfiction assessment that will assess text feature identification as well as reading comprehension. 

      The holiday content just makes all that much for fun!

      I do have an Easter passage included in the holiday pack. 



      Memorial Day is also included, which is right around the corner!

      Check out the holiday text features pack right here

      One teacher says, "This is a fantastic product! I recommend this to anyone who is teaching text features!"

      Another says, "I kid you not, this bundle is pure perfection! My students literally cheer when we do this, and they are begging for more. You will not be disappointed by this product or any other from this seller!!"



      PIN FOR LATER:







      I'm so excited, because April is HERE!

      It's my favorite month because...
      1. spring break (duh)
      2. my birthday 💁🏼
      3. NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!

      I love using poetry books to teach my students poetry.

      I recently updated my poetry books to meet the needs of my third grade classroom:




      Use this book as a tool to teach your students poetry!
      Types of poems included:
      • acrostic
      • bio
      • shape
      • 5 senses
      • haiku
      • personification
      • cinquain
      • diamante (synonym and antonym)




      This product includes an example, a scaffolded prompt (You Try It!), and a blank space (Write Your Own) for EACH type of poem. 


      You can print 8.5 x 11 size books, or choose the format suitable for the mini books found in the Target Dollar Spot - sooo cute! 

      You can purchase the poetry book here. Use it year after year for fun with your students!
      *                  *                  *                  *                  *
      After your students write their own poetry, try having a poetry slam in your classroom as a culminating celebration event! Dim the lights, bring some snacks, and TA DA... instant engagement!
      You can read about my poetry café here.

      Don't forget to tag me on Insta and Twitter so I can see the amazing things you're doing with poetry!