Tell All Tuesday Kindness Roundup

Hello everyone!  Welcome back to another edition of Tell All Tuesday.  Thank you so much for stopping by, we're sorry that we missed last week but we're so excited to be back this week with a very important topic.  Most teachers find themselves in a familiar place this time of year.  They're either working furiously to set their classrooms up to make sure that their school year gets off on the right foot, or they have already begun another wonderful year with new students.  
Diana and I recognized this and as much as we know the importance of setting up a perfectly organized classroom, there's something else that is extremely important and necessary to put into place from day 1 of the school year.  And that is deciding and planning how you as the teacher will help inspire and instill kindness in the classroom.
I'm about to dive headfirst into my 6th year of teaching and something that I have tried more and more as my career goes on is to make sure that my students are not only succeeding academically but socially as well.  First grade is such an important year to lay academic foundations but it is also a crucial time to help students gain confidence and compassion.  For this reason and many more, Diana and I decided to focus on kindness in and out of the classroom for this week's post.  We hope that we can offer some ideas for you to help instill kindness in your classroom, in your school, and also in your home or personal life. Below you will find a roundup of some of my favorite ways to inspire kindness that I've tried in my classroom and some other things I hope to do in the future.  

Inspiring kindness in my classroom is something that I try to do from minute 1 of the new school year.  Something I have found to be crucial in modeling kindness and allowing time for students to practice treating others with compassion is during morning meeting.  I use Responsive Classroom's Morning Meeting in my classroom and ever since I started it last year, it's been a game changer.  This 20-30 minutes of time at the very beginning of the day helps us build community by greeting each and every single person in the room, listening to friends share about things they're excited about, play games or activities to get to know each other, and time to put things into practice during morning message.  Morning meeting also guarantees our class a time to discuss problems that may arise and role play social situations where students need to make better choices.  I have to thank morning meeting for allowing me the time and environment to establish kindness in my classroom.  

Some other practical and fun ways that I have been able to establish a kind environment is through classroom management tools like the V.I.P. table and Brag Tags.  I do not have "tables" in my classroom so instead of designating one area in my classroom for V.I.P's, I have two traveling baskets that magically appear on a new V.I.P's desk each morning.  

When the students enter, we always discuss WHY these students were given the title of V.I.P. for the day and WHAT kind or caring act they did the day before to earn this privilege.  The V.I.P. basket is NEVER given without explanation during morning meeting and a discussion with the class.  This allows the students a chance to learn from others and see how their actions whether they realize it or not are appreciated.

Brag Tags have been a wonderful addition to my classroom especially the area of instilling kindness and compassion in my students.  I wanted to do brag tags for a while but I wanted them to have a specific purpose and that purpose was to reward behavior that aligned with the 6 pillars of character education.  The brag tags that are given in my classroom have the sense of accomplishment, yes, but they also all align with being a kind, caring, and helpful friend.  

Once my little friends earn their brag tags, the pride they have is so strong because they are told why they earned them and can feel a sense of accomplishment when they wear those tags around their necks.  It's the sweetest thing!  These character education themed brag tags can be found in my TpT store by clicking here if you're interested in learning more about them!

I know this next example is a hotly contested idea, but I do still see benefits for my ol' clip chart. So, for now it's sticking around.  I have to say my clip chart is MOSTLY for reinforcing smart choices and celebrating moments where students are acting kind and showing compassion towards other friends and adults.  This immediate positive reinforcement has been so helpful and students are thrilled to reach Super Student by the end of the day.  

When my students receive, Super Student 5 times, their clip gets 5 stickers/jewels on it and they get to choose a reward to celebrate.  These rewards are NOT toys from a toy or treasure box.  They are activities that students can do to show their hard work.  Choices in my room to celebrate our kind kids are:
Teacher's Assistant for the Day (they get to sit at my desk, use any and all of my supplies, clip kids on the chart up, give out brag tags, and help with other tasks around the room)
Eat lunch with the Teacher and a Friend
Have Stinky Socks For a Day (No shoes, no problem!)
Bring In a Stuffed Animal for The Day
Read a Book to the Class
Give a Spelling Test

Here's a picture of one of my previous students acting as Teacher's Assistant and wearing our clip necklace around his neck (shows the clips that have reached Super Student on our chart for the day.)

If you're looking for picture books to help teach friendship, kindness, and compassion, these are a few favorites of mine!

There is no one way to help inspire kindness in the classroom, no perfect activity, or necessary book.  The key ingredient really has to be you, the teacher.  If you show your students kindness and compassion and model for them how to treat others, they will follow.  I try to model the wrong way to solve a problem, the right way, and every way in between until it becomes more natural for them.  Practice makes perfect in all aspects of life!

I would have to say, I'm lucky to have many people in my life to help inspire me and show me kindness and how to best spread kindness.  My parents are number one the biggest examples of spreading kindness, being selfless, and showing compassion towards any and all.  They raised me to constantly ask what more can we do for others and that has stuck with me through my childhood and into my career teaching children.  

I can also say that this tight-knit TpT and blogging community constantly inspires me by showing kindness and compassion on a daily basis.  Most significantly, my Primary Punchbowl ladies.  They have been a constant source of inspiration for me throughout the last year and I am so grateful for them!

Without a doubt a huge and significant inspiration for my classroom and personal life is my blogging twin, Diana from My Day in K!  Her ideas are adorable, her positivity is infectious, and she has quickly become my sounding board for every big moment that's happening in my life.  I don't know what I would do without her!  I have the online teaching community to thank for bringing us together!

My favorite quote about kindness happens to live in my classroom year-round.  It's so simple but so important, not to mention it's from a Disney movie so win-win!

I hope this post gave you some ideas for the upcoming school year!  We'd love for you to join us for our Kindness Roundup!  Simply grab these images, write your post, and link up with us!  

Thank you so much for stopping by!  Have a great rest of your week!

Tell All Tuesday-Summer Relaxation

Hi everyone!  Thank you so much for dropping by today for another edition of Tell All Tuesday 2.0!  Diana and I have been really enjoying getting to know everyone and meeting some new bloggers and teachers along the way.  It's not time for me to head back to school just yet so I'm still thinking of how to fully relax and recharge over the summer so I am ready when it's time to start putting those bulletin boards back up.  No matter where you are in your summer whether it's just starting, if you're in the middle of it, or if it's already come to an end we'd love for you to join us!

Diana and I would love to know what your favorite way to relax is.  I'm hoping that you've been taking some time out for you this summer.  We all know teachers work too hard without a break, so summer must be the time for us to recharge!  I can't wait to read what you have been up to below!

For me, there is nothing better then being on the beach, under an umbrella preferably, and reading an entertaining book.  So far this summer I haven't gotten through as many as I would have liked but I've read:

and I'm almost finished with

I am hoping to finish another 2 or 3 books this summer so I would love some recommendations!  I seem to be reading the same kinds of books this summer and even though I've really enjoyed them I wouldn't mind the change either!

How have you been relaxing and recharging this summer?  I would love for you to grab the image, write about what your favorite way to relax is, and link up with us!

Thank you for reading!  I hope you'll join in on the fun!

Tell All Tuesday...Summer Snapshot

Hello everyone!  Welcome back for a brand new Tell all Tuesday! Thank you so much to everyone who participated last week and joined in on the fun.  I'm hoping that you'll join us again this week for some more summer fun.  For teachers, summer is the time to relax, recharge, and have an adventure.  Even though I'm not going away to anywhere exotic this summer, I still have a favorite summer getaway that is my happy place and constant escape from reality.  So for this week's Tell all Tuesday, Diana and I have decided to share a summer snapshot with our readers.

We'd love for you to participate too!  All you have to do is grab the image and banners to add to your blog and link up with us!  I can't wait to read all about your favorite summer escapes or favorite photo from the summer!

For this summer snapshot, I'm sharing a photograph from one of my very favorite places in the world; Long Beach Island, NJ.  My family has a house there and we go down as often as we can.  When I was there over Memorial Day weekend, I snapped this photo of the most amazing sunset from my parents' roof.  

Having a drink on the roof at sunset down in LBI is one of my absolute favorite places.  It's very difficult to be unhappy with the view of the bay and that sunset in front of you.  

Here's a closer look at heaven on Earth...

What's your favorite summer snapshot?  I'd love to see some of the places that you've visited or escaped to to relax over the summer.  I hope you're out making memories with family and friends!

Grab the image below to add your own photograph to, write a blog post, and link up with us!

I can't wait to read your posts!  Thank you again for visiting this little ol' blog!  I'll be spending the whole day tomorrow at jury duty, wish me luck!

Five for Friday...Finally!

Well, well, well, hello Five for Friday, we meet again!  It feels so good to get this blog back in fighting form!  I have missed connecting with bloggers and sharing ideas with everyone so much.  It is so true that teachers become human again over the summer.  I'm feeling energized, excited, and more creative then I have in a long time.  I love you July and August!  I know August is not always a summer month for some teachers but here in NJ, my new crew of firsties won't report back until after Labor Day.  So, I still have a good amount of summer ahead of me.  But, in the meantime let's look at what I've been up to lately!

I had fallen off the TpT creating horse these last few months but with summer comes time that I had been lacking. I am starting to create things that have been on my to-do list for months now!  I'm so excited to have finished up my newest packet that is similar to my Animal Research Reports using PebbleGo that has been so fun for my firsties.  This year, my team is looking to use PebbleGo even more for researching opportunities, so creating an identical biography packet was a MUST.  This will be on sale throughout the weekend.  I hope you will check it out in my store here!

This Tuesday, Diana from My Day in K and I kicked off our summer linky party; Tell all Tuesday 2.0.  It was so much fun connecting with new bloggers last summer and we're hoping to engage with even more this summer.  Each Tuesday, we'll post a new topic to blog about and give everyone the chance to link up with us.  I hope you'll check it out!
This week, we kicked off with Two Truths and a Lie! It was so fun to read everyone's "facts" about themselves and see which one was the lie and which ones were true.  For anyone who read my post, my second fact was a big fat juicy lie!  I love to write and actually did write a children's book in grad school but have never pursued publishing.  Maybe one day!  

This summer, my husband Craig and I are taking on new jobs; professional wedding guests!  It has been a blast to spend time with friends and family but it is also exhausting to travel!  We have just wrapped wedding #3 and have two more before the end of the month.  From June until the end of October, we will attend 10 weddings.  I'm so happy for all my friends and family but woh it can be a lot!

Isn't this the most gorgeous sunset you've ever seen?!  Last weekend I was able to spend time in my happy place, Long Beach Island, NJ.  My parents have a house there and I would love to get down there more often.  Hopefully next weekend!  Do you go to the beach over the summer?  If so, which one?

Another product that I am so excited to use with my firsties this year is this Scavenger Hunt with No, David!  I already know that I have a lot of new incoming students this year from a private school that closed in town so I wanted to come up with a fun way to get them acquainted with our new school.  I always read No, David and David Goes to School over the first few days so I thought about a way to incorporate some activities with these great reads.  Before the first day, I'll hang up David's clue and message cards at different spots around school.  After reading, we'll go on a hunt to find David's hidden messages.  At each stop, David will have left my students a little poem about what he would do in this areas (library, cafeteria, office, etc.)  BUT, we all know David likes to get into trouble, so the ideas he gives the students will be the opposite of how they should act in each location.  This will lend itself to a great discussion about what is appropriate behavior at different areas of the school!  I think my first graders are going to love this!  If you want to check it out some more, head over to my store here!

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading today!  I hope you'll come by again on Tuesday for the next edition of Tell all Tuesday.  In the meantime, I'll be hanging out with my summer buddy.  He says, "Good morning!"

Tell All Tuesday: Two Truths and a Lie

Hello everyone!  Let me just take a minute to dust this old keyboard off.  Wow, has it been too long!  The end of this year was a little hectic and I just couldn't seem to find my blogging mojo to keep up with everything. I couldn't think of any stellar topics to bring to my readers, summer break was definitely needed!  But, I am so excited to be back and teaming up with my sweet friend Diana over at My Day in K again for our Tell All Tuesday summer linky party 2.0!  I've only been on summer break here in NJ for 2 and a half weeks so I'm looking forward to this series being a way to keep me accountable during the time off.  I'm even more excited to meet new blogging/teacher friends from all over and I hope you will join us throughout the summer!  

Each Tuesday, Diana and I will come up with a new topic to blog about.  It may be posts to get to know each other, tips for the upcoming school year, or funny topics we'd like to talk about!  No matter the subject, we hope that you will join us to blog and get involved in all of the fun! 

 This week we are taking a topic thad we had so much fun with this last year: Two Truths and a Lie!  In order to participate, think of two truths that tell us a little bit about yourself and then one little tiny fib!  In the comments section, ask your readers to guess which ones were true and which one was a lie.  We can't wait to get to know you a little better and have some fun guessing!  So let's get started, let's see if you can guess which one of my facts are true and which one is a teeny tiny fib!


I am obsessed with all things British.  My husband jokes that I only watch TV or read books that have an English character or takes place in England.  Most of the time, he's correct.  I have always wanted to go to London and this year for my 30th birthday (good bye 20's!) my husband surprised me with a getaway there!  I officialy checked something off of my bucket list but now we have an even bigger problem.  Now, that I know how amazing it is, I want to move there full-time!  I keep dropping not so subtle hints to my husband, but for now we're still New Jersey residents.


I have always said that a dream of mine is to write a children's book.  I have been coming up with different stories and characters for as long as I can remember.  When I was 12, I started a young adult novel on my very first computer and I have continued to write ever since then.  For a class in grad school, I had to create my own children's picture book and I have held onto it ever since.  My professor loved the characters and encouraged me to one day publish the story.  I'm currently in the middle of working on getting it published.  I can't wait to see what happens with it!


I may not be a mother to any little babies yet but I am a very proud fur mommy to a little dog named Roger.  He is my best buddy and the cutest little furry friend.  When we were looking to adopt a dog a few years ago, I had one stipulation for my husband; no sports-themed names!  Well, my husband was able to pull a one-over on me and offered Roger as a nonsports related name that was just adorable!  Little did I know, that it really stands for a mascot of my husband's favorite baseball team.  He is a huge Pittsburgh Pirates fan and when they win, they raise a flag called...THE JOLLY ROGER!  I didn't realize the connection until a few days after we brought Roger home and at that point I loved our dog so much and found the name so fitting for him.  Now, it's a funny story to tell people when they ask how we came up with our dog's name.

Which one of these facts are true?  Which one is the lie?  Let me know what you think in the comments below! I can't wait to read your facts and discover what are your two truths and one lie!  Thanks SO much for stopping by!  I hope you'll stay with us throughout the summer!

Happy blogging!

Guided Reading Rotations

Hi everyone!  Thank you so much for popping in today to read this post.  I have been meaning to write this for a few months now but wanted to make sure these rotations were running smoothly in my classroom before I shared them as a success story.  As primary teachers we are well acquainted with the necessity of guided reading as an essential part of reading instruction.  Working with a small group of students or one-on-one is the most effective means of teaching.  Unfortunately, with a new curriculum and structure this year for ELA something that kept going by the wayside for me was gasp...guided reading.  I was struggling on a weekly basis to meet with students and found that the only groups I was successfully meeting with were my struggling readers.

In this one year alone, I won't lie, I have tried it all.  I tried Daily 5 rotations with word work, work on writing, read to self, and buddy read.  I tried a true reading workshop approach where all students were reading with their own book baskets and I would conference one-on-one or pull strategy groups.  This worked for a little while but as a general education teacher in an inclusion classroom the lack of a clear schedule did not work for my littles.  My special-ed students were being pulled for services, my struggling students would get pulled out for basic skills three times a week, which left me with willy nilly groups and weeks where I wouldn't be able to listen to some of my babies read.  I was fed up.

I knew that I wanted to have a set time of the day where reading, just reading at students' own levels, was taking place without all of the frills of other centers or activities.  But, I also knew that I needed and my students needed a schedule to keep us all accountable.  We have found so much success this year with our word study schedules that my teammates and I sat down and asked, "Why couldn't we do that with guided reading too?"  So, my guided reading rotation schedules were born and let me tell you they are WONDERFUL!

Just like in word study, each of my students were placed into guided reading groups based on their DRA level and teacher observation.  I run four groups and my co-teacher has one group.  This worked out well for us because we can run groups Monday through Thursday and have Friday as an intensive instruction day for students who need extra support.

How Does It Work?
Every student in my class has a guided reading folder.  Inside of their folder they have, their guided reading book that is read with them during Meet with Teacher, listen to reading QR codes, and a reading response sheet.

Each group follows their schedule to determine the activity that they must complete on that day of the week.  One group meets with the teacher on Mondays, one group meets on Tuesday, one group on Wednesday, and one group on Thursday. Their schedules all reflect these different meeting days.

When they're not meeting with the teacher they're completing one of four different reading activities.

Read to Self
Read to self is always completed the day after the group meets with the teacher.  They are instructed on their guided reading book in their groups with the teacher so when they begin read to self the next day, they are already familiar with their guided reading book.  This gives them the confidence to read a more challenging book and rereading only helps with fluency and comprehension.  After they complete their reading of their guided reading book for the week, they are asked to read other books in their individual book baskets.  

This little one finished her guided reading book and was able to dig into a book of her choice.  Junie B. is making quite a splash in our room lately! 

Buddy Read
Read with a buddy is always the following day after read to self.  Students from the same reading group can pair up and reread their guided reading book together.  This is one of our favorite activities because my more fluent readers are now able to use their buddies to help them act out their stories.  This is the third time students are reading the same text, so they are able to read with more fluency and accuracy on their buddy read day.  After pairs reread their guided reading book, they can buddy read any book from their book baskets they want to.

Listen to Reading
On listen to reading days we choose to mix things up.  Some weeks, students are listening to their guided reading books on the HMH read aloud app that comes with our Journeys program.  Other weeks, I try and find QR codes that will bring them to a safe online read aloud of a favorite story.  We are currently reading folk tales, fairy tales, and fables so Sarah Barnett from Mrs. B's First Grade has a fantastic product of read aloud QR codes that my firsties are gobbling up.

Make sure to check out her QR code products in her TpT store here!

Reading Response
The final activity on students' guided reading schedules before they cycle back around and meet with the teacher again is reading response.  This reading response is completed completely independently and used alongside the guided reading book that they were given at the beginning of their rotation.  The skills used for reading response are things that have already been taught and comprehension strategies that students can independently practice with their book for the week.  I have several reading response activities from my reading workshop packet that I use but I have also compiled story maps and comprehension maps from other sources as well.  

Some of the reading response activities included in my TpT packet are:

Meet With the Teacher
The rotations start all over again once students meet with the teacher after their reading response day.  The first thing that I do is collect their guided reading book from the previous meeting and their reading response activity that they completed.  This gives me an opportunity to check in with them and assess their learning before we dive into a new book and a new skill for the next rotation.  When my students come to the teacher table, we're reviewing sight words, learning new vocabulary for their next guided reading story, and stopping and jotting our beginning, middle, and end while we read.

Here's a picture of a quick sight word review game that we're playing before introducing our new guided reading text
Where Do I Get my Guided Reading Texts?
 Since my school is still using Houghton Mifflin Journeys, I try and pull some guided reading texts from them when the levels are available.  However, my students reading abilities vary much more than the resources they provide so this year I have become a fast fan of Reading A-Z.  If you don't have a subscription, I highly recommend it.  The text levels are clearly laid out for you and the selection is great for my first graders.  I am hoping to make myself a little library so I won't have to print, cut, and put together all new books for next year!

This system isn't fancy but for now it's working for me to organize all of my new Reading A-Z guided reading texts.  

When Do I Do Guided Reading?
Because of the nature and makeup of my class this year, I constantly have students coming in and out of my room.  The one time we're all together is the first few minutes in the morning.  So, after winter break I made the startling decision to...wait for it...GIVE UP MORNING WORK!  I know, I know you might think it's crazy.  But, I have to tell you it was the best thing that I have done yet!  My students come in, unpack, and go straight into morning meeting.  After our morning meeting routine, we transition smoothly and calmly into our 20 minute guided reading rotation.  
I only do one round a day that way each group completes their daily activity and is ready to move on to the rest of the day's activities.  It's such a calm and purposeful way to start the school day.  My students have really responded to the consistency of our guided reading rotations and the time that they have EVERY day to just read.

Some may wonder if I miss the word work or work on writing centers that usually accompany a reading rotation.  But, I must say that having this time to just work on reading, shows my students how truly important reading is to their school experience.  They understand that the only way to become better readers is to do just that; read.  We complete word study and writing workshop at other times in the day so my students are working on those areas at their own level during those times.  Not to mention the prep work is so minimal with these guided reading rotations.  

Thank you so much for staying with me and reading through this entire post. If you have any questions about what guided reading looks like in my classroom, I'd love to answer any questions that you may have in the comments below!  

If you're interested in using these guided reading rotation schedules and other activities in your own classroom make sure to check out my packet in my TpT store by clicking the image below!