#ThankfulforTeachers Dollar Deals

15 November 2016

It is DOLLAR DEAL DAY today because we are #ThankfulforTeachers 

What an honor it is to work along side so many admirable professionals! I am forever grateful! 

Type #ThankfulforTeachers into the teacherspayteachers search bar to find a complete list of Dollar Deals for today, November 15, only! There you will find one of my best sellers for only $1!!! Click here to get it for dirt cheap! 

This could possibly be better than the dollar section at Target. 
Also, don't forget to sign up for our Gift Card Giveaway Extravaganza. Today is the very last day! You can do that here.
Good luck!


Thankful for Teachers Giveaway Extravaganza

12 November 2016
I would like to THANK my fellow teachers for all of the hard work you all put forth each and every day. It is an honor to work along side with some of the most caring and selfless group of individuals. Educators, you really are inspiring and molding our future, and for that we say THANK YOU! 

As a small token of appreciation, my fellow teacher - authors and I have organized a giveaway of over $500 worth of gift cards. How perfect are these before the holiday season? We will be giving away 11  - $50 gift cards to stores like Target, Amazon, TpT, and Starbucks! The Giveaway Rafflecopter will run from Sunday, 12:15 am through Tuesday, 11:59 pm.

Entering is super easy! Here's how you do it... 
Step 2: There are 50 calls-to-action. For every call-to-action you complete, you will receive one entry in the giveaway.
Step 3: Wait for the winners to be announced on Wednesday. 

My two calls-to-action are: 
1: Like my Facebook Page
2: Like my TpT Store

Since you like my store, go ahead and download your special FREEBIE!

Remember, the more you do, the better your chances to win.

Good luck!

Math: The Daily 3

14 September 2016
The sisters have done it again! Not only do we have a Daily 5 for literacy instruction, we now have a Daily 3 for math instruction. I am really excited about this! 

I'm going to be focusing on three parts to math this year: number sense & facts, real world application, and common core. 

So I am thinking since I have one hour for math instruction, I'm going to divide it up by three. That's 20 minutes per round. I need about 5-7 minutes for a mini-lesson, and about 3 minutes for transitions. That gives us about 10 minutes per round for independent practice. It also gives me 30 minutes of small group instruction for those in the MTSS Tier II level. 

I am really excited that I will have 5-7 minutes to explicitly reach number sense and math facts because let's face it- one month out of the year is NOT enough for primary students! Research shows that students in K-2 need to conceptualize numbers. That takes repetitive practice. 

I also have time to teach the common core, which if my students are having ample practice with number sense, they should theoretically be able to grasp the core quicker.  I plan on doing a quick assessment afterwards using plickers multiple choice sign language to choose my small groups. 

Finally, we have time to teach and model real world applications - or solving word problems! Again, there is real time set aside to learning how to conquer those pesky word problems!

I think the Daily 3 is going to be a win for my classroom. I'm excited to see the results. I plan on beginning the implementation of our Daily 3 after reading assessments are over and after I have introduced place value to the whole group. So maybe by October we will be up and running with our Daily 3. 

Is anyone out there already using it? Please post in the comments below and let me know if you plan on using it, if you are, or if you are thinking about it. I'd love to get some feedback and get a group together to support each other. 

Happy teaching! 



Punctuation Presentation - Gets a Makeover

21 August 2016

As I’m getting ready for back to school, I’ve been organizing my documents and found this old gem in my flash drive. Punctuation PowerPoint. I probably made this in my first year of teaching. Wow! It was so boring, but the content was RICH!

I knew that other teachers would love it too, so I decided to give it a makeover. What do you think? 

                                                           Old Title Page
                                                         New Title Page
                                                             New Slide 1

                                                              Old Slide 1

You can find the actual PowerPoint in my TpT store HERE. I made it all editable so you can modify it to fit your needs. 

OMG I could not get over the difference in the presentation. It totally sets the tone for the lesson. The old one seems a little dreadful to me... kind of like prison. The new one makes me feel happy! It's truly a phenomenon how design affects our psychology. 

Hope you like it! For now, I am going to keep looking at more OLD stuff. LOL 

Best wishes for this new school year! 


THRIVE: 7 Tipes for Managing Time

05 August 2016

7 Tips for Managing Time

         People know that I have 100,000 roles that I have committed to in my life. I am a mom (of two small children), wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, science coach, health coach, leadership coach, teacher-author, blogger, the list goes on  Everyday, I have people asking me, “How do you have time for all of this?” Today, I am going explain how I do it all. These tips will be clear and to the point so that you can THRIVE in all of the roles you play in your life! 
Tip 1: Healthy Balance
We all need a healthy balance in our lives. Think about a balloon with air in it. If you put too much pressure on one side, the other side will inflate and get super large. If you put more pressure on that one side, you increase the chances of that other side popping. That’s an example of an unhealthy balance.
We tend to find ourselves in an unhealthy balance when we feel overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, etc. To create a healthy balance, we must put our priorities in order. Create a list of 5 10 things you are responsible for in your everyday life. Now rank each of those roles 1 10. Can you eliminate some of those roles? Some of those roles may be toxic to your health, which brings me to my next tip

Tip 2: Time for Yourself
         Who are the most important people in your life? Do you ever consider putting your needs before theirs?  It may sound selfish, but putting your needs before the most important people in your life will make you a better person. I’m not saying you neglect those important people, nor rob them for their time, but rather, you MUST take time to nurture yourself each and everyday. You can do this through exercise, eating healthy, meditation and prayer, reading, enjoying a hobby, etc. Taking the time for yourself helps relieve stress, helps you prepare for life’s challenges, and because of that, it helps you to be a better person to all of those who are most important to you in your life.

Tip 3: Plan Your Day
         It took some time in creating a schedule, but it has been worth every effort because I have been so successful in completing everything on my to-do list. Knowing what’s ahead on the day eliminates over commitment.

Tip 4: Just Say “No!”
         Once you have your schedule down packed, you are going to be more aware of what you need to accomplish in the days ahead. When someone asks you to do something, you can take a look at your schedule and ask yourself these three things,
1.    “Can I commit to this?”
2.    “By doing this, will it fill up my bucket?”
3.    “Does this follow my goals?”
If you say, “No!” to any of these questions, then you should say, “No!” to the person who asked you to do something in the first place. Just because you said, “No!” will not make that person dislike you (disclaimer: they may be initially upset), and if they do dislike you, then let that be their problem. You’ve got too much going on in your life to give it your best. They’d probably be more upset at you if you said, “Yes!” and only gave it a little effort instead of your best.

Tip 5: Exercise in the Morning
         At 4:30am, my alarm goes off. I get up, get dressed, and put in a workout. To me, that is the hardest thing to accomplish throughout the day because so many things tend to pop up throughout the day. When making my schedule, I knew that I had to schedule my workouts during the day when I had the least amount of interruptions. I know that if I wake up at 4:30, I’ll be the only person awake in our family, and I’ll have the most willpower at that time!
By putting my exercise first thing in the morning, I know that I am not going to have the choice to say no throughout the day. Your willpower is like an energy/stamina bar in a video game. It starts off as a full bar, but as the day goes on, you have more and more tasks to complete, and your willpower dwindles. By the end of the day, your willpower is at an all time low, and it is very easy to put off the exercise.
Exercising in the morning sends off dopamine and serotonin in your brain causing you to be happier throughout the day. Imagine going to work happier and the copier breaks again Hey, no big deal! You are a smart and strong person. You’ve got this!

Tip 6: Take Breaks
         I personally believe that no person should be sitting down for more than 29 minutes at a time. Time yourself, take short breaks, and return back to your task. In doing this, you prevent burn out by keeping your brain fresh and on task.

Tip 7: Cut Out the Unnecessary
         Do you really need to watch that show at 10 o’clock at night? Do you really need to check up on your notifications every five minutes?  The answer is quite simple. You do not! People, if you want to be more effective throughout the day, then put the social media and TVs away. Set aside a small amount of time where you can check your notifications and watch your favorite shows, but try not to mix those with your tasks at hand. Your smartphone is the biggest distraction to you. In fact, people are dying in car crashes checking them. Why would they be safe doing any other task?  Set aside time solely for the smartphone.

Now that you have these seven tips, you are going to apply them to your life today to make you a more productive, more present, and more accomplished person. I promise that by doing these things, you are going to see improvements in relationships, your self-confidence will increase, and your stress level will decrease. Above all, take time for yourself and love the ones around you!


Sarah is a second grade teacher, science coach, and an author for TpT

The Tiers of Vocabulary in Primary Grades

21 July 2016

The Tiers of Vocabulary in the Primary Grades 

         Did you know it takes the average person seven years to become fluent in a language? That is for both first and secondary languages! In a study I completed in college, most people thought that it would only take about 18 months to learn a new language. I find that to be very interesting for multiple reasons!

1.     If you were learning Portuguese and you expected to be fluent in 18 months, you’d probably feel really down about yourself when you hit the 18 months mark and still didn’t speak, listen, read, and write the language fluently.
2.      If you expect someone to learn your native language in 18 months and they don’t meet your expectation, you may just consider them to be less than you.
3.     If teachers expect this, and the student doesn’t measure up, then they may be referred for intensive interventions, or worse, put in a “special” classroom.

This common misconception causes grief and insecurity with the learner, frustration with the teacher and general public. When we think about our primary learners, many believe that students are already fluent in a language without considering the reading and writing piece. Fluency is reading, writing, speaking, and listening. We must teach skills for each piece!

The English language vocabulary is one of the trickiest in the world! One of the main reasons is because the English language is a trade language. Due to that reason, it has adopted an enormous amount of words from other languages that don’t follow “normal” English language rules. So as a teacher, teaching vocabulary cannot be strictly based on the spelling patterns or grammar rules. Primary students need practice in a variety of different ways for new vocabulary to STICK!

When think about what words you want your students to know, think about the purpose of WHY they should know the words. What tier are the words? Tier 1 words are words that follow a pattern or high frequency words. These are simple words that we see often. Tier 2 words are interesting words, usually descriptive words, that don’t necessarily follow a pattern. These are juicy words. Tier III words are scientific words that are usually difficult to understand because they are not used too often. Here are some activities for each tier:

Tier I Words (sight words): The purpose should be to have your students remember how to spell these words through rote (muscle) memory. 

1.     Rainbow write: Have students practice spelling these words by using a blue color for consonants and a red color for vowels. Students can also use a different color for each letter.
2.      Tracing: Tracing is super traditional and can be done in the air with a finger (kinesthetic), tracing on a paper with a finger, pencil, crayon, marker, paint, etc., or tracing on a smart board with magic ink. I like typing the words out in this font: Bubbles Outline, printing it out, then letting the students trace inside the font.
3.     World Build: This is where students will begin writing the first letter of the word, then move to the second line and write the first and second letters and so forth until the student has written the entire word. Here’s an example:
4.   Word Scrabble or Word Value: I love these two activities because it integrates a little math. This is perfect for logical thinkers. Students write a word, use a reference to find how much each letter is worth, and finally they write an addition equation to find the total amount of the word. I have activities like this in my Word Work for Literacy CentersPack.

The purpose of Tier II words is to expand vocabulary and get little learners using these words in their speaking and writing while being able to understand them when listening and reading. Here are some activities to help students understand the meaning behind these words.

1.   Think-Pair-Share: Students listen to a word used in a sentence. They think about what it may mean and think of an example of how they can use the word in a sentence. Then, discuss with their partner, and eventually they share together with the class. We record examples on chart paper or smart board.
2.   Word Cards: My students love these! We cut out word cards at the beginning of the week (or on a Friday afternoon). Then, I show the students pictures of the words, talk to students about what they mean and how to use them, and they verbally share examples. On the back of the card, students draw a picture of what the word reminds them of. Then we do a walking museum. It is interesting to see everyone’s ideas. This is what my word cards look like from my Oil Spill Clean Up! resource and my Life Cycle of a Butterfly resource.

3.   Synonyms and Antonyms: This is super easy! Students write the unknown word at the top of a two-column chart and label the left column of the chart “What it is” and the right side of the chart “What it isn’t” They write examples of each one, share with a partner, and then share with the class. Again, this is really neat to see the different perspectives each student brings to the classroom!

The purpose of Tier III words is to teach students subject related words. We would like for youngsters to use the words in speaking and writing, but most importantly, we need them to identify the words and understand the words when they read and listen to them. Tier III Words are tricky and require a lot of concentration. Here are some games I like to play with these:

1.     Charades: Place students in groups of 3 4 and give students about 10 minutes to practice each word. Students will create a motion (similar to sign language) to have the other students guess the word. After the 10 minutes is up, each group will have 1 minute to guess as many words as they possibly can. For every word guessed correctly, the team earns 1 point. The team with the most points wins!
2.       Guess the Word: Write one word on an index card. Continue until you have all of your words for that week written on them. The guesser will place the index card on their forehead so they cannot see. The other player will then try to help the guesser guess the word correctly by telling them synonyms or antonyms.
3.   Bingo:  Use a Bingo generator (I like: http://www.osric.com/bingo-card-generator/) and plug in your words. Print out the number of cards for each student. Give the students clues as to which words you are calling out without saying the word. For example: frog These amphibians have smooth skin and are usually smaller than toads. They jump further than toads. What is it?
4.   Pictionary: Place the students in groups of 3 4. There will be one drawer from each group. Show the drawers the word. They will have to draw a picture of what the word means to get the team to guess the word. The first team to guess correctly earns a point. Teams with the most points win.

These games are fun and highly entertaining! They build community and help your students remember the word. I hope that these activities are useful for you and your kids. Please let me know in the comments how your students liked these activities or if you have some others that I didn’t list here that you think are FABULOUS! Thanks so much!

-Sarah B. 
e-mail me @

Black and Yellow Themed Classroom Decor

08 July 2016

Wahoo! We are officially chilling out during the summer and then like any teacher, your brain begins to wonder what you can do brand new for next year. If you are anything like me, you will probably spend the next two months reflecting on the past year and thinking about what you can do to make it better.
         I will say that I had a lot of success this past year, and a lot of it was due to the new strategies I implemented throughout the course of the year, but each and everyday I felt happy and at home in my classroom because it was colorful!
         I knew I wanted to do something bumblebee themed since bumblebees are so flipping fantastic! I began the year telling my students about the three types of bees: drones, workers, and queen bees. The drones are the lazy bees and they usually have a shorter life span. The worker bee’s work to pollenate the flowers all around the hive while the queen reproduces and takes care of the hive. My students were then asked to think about which bee they would be like.

         With that being said, my class had an understanding of why bees were the symbol for our classroom and they were motivated to work hard each and everyday. I created my own Black and Yellow Classroom Decor using the graphics I had on my computer. They turned out great. I’m a relatively new teacher working in one of the worst states for teacher pay, so I don’t have a TON of many Not much at all actually (LOL only kidding kind of)!
         Each year I invest a little of my money back into my classroom, and last year I bought a class set of new clipboards. They were super nice and super expensive! I knew I wanted to switch it up a little, but I couldn’t afford to go out and buy all of the new posters at a teacher shop, so I decided to make my own!
         I was worried that the yellow and black would overwhelm the white walls and I wouldn’t like it, but I added a pop of color here and there, and I think it turned out great!

         I created some letters too! I printed them, cut them out, and glued them to paper plates. It was super cheap and gave my word wall a nice, bold look.

 I’m thinking about investing in a new mat this year or new bookshelves since mine seem to need replacing every year. I’m not sure. What are you going to be investing in this summer? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear!

Top 10 Best Reading Strategies to Motivate Your Students

30 May 2016

My Top 10 Reading Strategies to Use TODAY!

 I Used to Help My Students Grow 8 Reading Levels in One Year!

As I am nearing the end of my fourth year teaching, I am finding the most success with my class this year in reading (and math), and I want to share some of the POWERFUL strategies that I have been using (ALL THANKS TO MY LITERACY COACH, MARY F.). While the majority of my class grew 4 5 levels, I have two students who grew 8 reading levels! That is unreal! I cannot even begin to explain how amazed I was. This has truly been the most incredible year of learning for my students and me!

Here are my truly amazing and helpful tips!

1.     Choice: It’s all about choice! My entire school uses Daily 5 during our literacy block and every student is familiar with the language, process, etc. While many teachers have their own processes and their own tips and tricks, I simply allow my students to use a paw print magnet and allow them to make their choice every morning for which round they would like to start the day in. Then, I change the choices for the rest of the day, but only to save time. If a student truly wants to stay in a writing round to finish a story, I allow them to. The really enjoy being able to have a choice! 

2.    Tic Tac Toe Boards: To help my students stay on track and apply the skills from the mini lessons taught, I use tic tac toe boards for our Daily 5 Rounds. There is always a “Free Choice,” so the students are never limited, but they are never left to question what they should be doing. I have created my own for ALL Daily 5 Literacy Rounds as well as for Work on Writing and Word Work. My students enjoy the freedom as well as the challenge, and it has really helped to familiarize them with the type of language we see in our benchmark assessments.

3.    SCOREBOARDS: This year I created an ice cream cone scoreboard. It works like this, every students begins with a cone and one scoop of ice cream (because I have to reward them for reading with me when they were so nervous from day 1). Then, after I progress monitor or do an assessment and see that they have grown a level, they add one more scoop. These scoops are for their ice cream party at the end of the year (the more they earned, the more scoops and/or toppings they will receive). Here’s a previous blog about my Scoreboards.

4.    Book Posters: Students need to fall in LOVE with reading if they ever want to be good at it. I have my students showcase their favorite books by creating posters. We have hung some of them outside to show our friends in the school. Perhaps next year we might try these on index cards to create trading cards with friends. 

5.    Reciprocal Teaching: If a child can teach it well enough, then the child has successfully learned the concept. I taught my students a writing strategy for the written comprehension using an acronym, RAP. This means that students must Respond to the question, Answer it, and finally, they must Prove it within the text. After modeling and showing my students how to do this several times, I decided to let them create a way to teach the rest of the class about the RAP. Each group created a song and dance to teach the whole class the RAP. We had lost of giggles and fun times, but the most important thing was that they all remembered it! When it came time for benchmarks, all of my kids would say to one another, “Good luck! Don’t forget the RAP!” They killed it!

6.    Book Baggies: This year, I sent home two books for my students to read for homework. In the past, I have had the students use a blank reading log and books from home or checked out from the library, but I still wondered whether or not they were doing the reading. So I switched it up this year thanks to the recommendation from Jen Jones at Hello Literacy! She suggested that I create a book baggie where students choose one book from my classroom for their parents to read to them and one leveled text for them to read to their parents. Wow! This saved so much time in our reading groups since much of the time is spent without the text (teaching strategies, etc.). My kids were ready to have book discussions in our small groups and they LOVED the fact that their parents had homework!

7.    Reader’s Motivation Survey: Part of unlocking the readers’ code was discovering what motivated the students. I wanted to get some real time data in a kid-friendly way, so I created a Reader’s Motivation Survey that you can get here for FREE! It really helped me understand where my students were coming from and what messages were being sent to them about reading from home and their friends and family. At the end of the year, we tracked it again, and the data went up! I actually have data on how much my kids ENJOY reading! 

8.    Books on a Ledge: This is super duper easy! I have a tiny classroom, and I try to use every inch of my space, so I placed “Featured Read Alouds” on my whiteboard ledge and my students were eager to read the book I just shared with them or preview what we were going to be learning about within the upcoming weeks. This was really a no brainer! 

9.    Accountability: Part of the problem that I have witnessed in my classroom and in other classrooms is that students are held accountable when they are working independently in their literacy centers. Before we head off to literacy centers, I don’t tell my students what they need to work on, instead I invite them to try the new skill we use, then I ask my students before they go into their round, “What are you going to be working on during Word Work, Work on Writing, etc.?” If the student can answer quickly, then I let them go to their round. If they are unsure, I keep them on the mat until I have released everyone else. Then if they are still undecided I offer a couple of suggestions and help the student make a choice. It really doesn’t take that much time, and you become more aware of what the students are supposed to be doing during their literacy block.

10. The Vault: My vault is a simply black cabinet with a box of my treasured books. I share with my students how I treasure each one of the precious books and tuck them away nicely in my black cabinet. When my students have mastered a skill in small group reading instruction, or if their behavior and effort was out of this world good, then I open the vault and let them choose ANY of the books they would like for the next 10 minutes. They think this is the coolest thing ever, and the best part is that it is FREE (except for the books you already have) and you don’t have to print anything out!

These are the wonderful reading strategies that have helped my class this year!  I hope that you will consider using these next year because you will be the coolest teacher ever!