Sunday, November 6, 2016


It's that hectic time of the school year. You've gotten to know your students, you've gotten into a routine, and now it's holiday time and you have NO spare time.  That's one of the reasons I LOVE Teachers Pay Teachers!  When I need a resource really quick, I can get it immediately. What I really need is the $$$ to make this happen. That's why I am so excited to be part of this month's TPT Gift Card Giveaway!


Prize: $75 and $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. Giveaway ends 11/13/16 and is open worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

How You Can Squeeze Social Studies Into Your Reading Block

Do you have a hard time fitting Social Studies into your day? Many of us are expected to integrate it during our reading block which is really hard and honestly doesn't happen very consistently.  I love all the cute flip books and interactive notebooks too, but I cannot dedicate the time needed for them. After failing at this too many times, I began looking for close reading texts that contained Social Studies content that I could use during my Reading Block. Unfortunately, finding really good text was very hard to do. There seemed to be great text for Science, but not Social Studies.

How I squeezed Social Studies into my Reading Block

Finally, I decided to make my own. My goal was to create a close reading text that students could use in whole or small group as well as in literacy centers. I wanted a resource that was flexible, so that I could squeeze it into different areas as needed. After all, teaching Social Studies is important and my students deserve to learn this important content, so I need to find a way. 

The first set is for the 3rd Grade Civics and Government strand and includes three passages with ELA Common Core question stems and a Social Studies Connection question. The three passages are:

Three close reading texts with ELA and Social Studies question stems.

For each passage, I have included both ELA and Social Studies questions, so that students are using close reading to increase comprehension of the text as well as gain Social Studies content knowledge.

This also gives students valuable practice responding to questions in complete sentences and citing text evidence.

Social Studies close reading text with ELA question stems.
I love the flexibility of these close reading passages! You can use them as the primary text when teaching Social Studies concepts or as a supplement to a Social Studies activity that you do have time for! As an added bonus, you can take both an ELA and a Social Studies grade.

Social Studies close reading passage with ELA and Social Studies quesitions.
So if you need to squeeze Social Studies content into your Reading Block, this resource is perfect! Just a quick click on this link and you can preview it for yourself!

Civics and Government Close Reading for 3rd Grade

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Could You Use $75 in Classroom Resources?

I don't know about you, but I spend a lot of my own money on classroom supplies and instructional resources. There are so many amazing resources on Teachers Pay Teachers that my students need and like most teachers, I want them to have the best! But, it starts adding up and many schools and districts do not reimburse teachers for these resources. I've got one way you can get the resources you need and not pay out of your own pocket! 

Just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win a $75 TPT gift card! Good luck! I would LOVE to have one of my Teaching in the Heart of Florida followers win!

Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 10/13/16 and is open worldwide.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

Here's a couple of new resources in my store that might help you out in your classroom!

This resource is great for goal setting
and progress monitoring! It includes goal setting pages, progress monitoring graphs, and certificates for reading, writing, and math.

Chalkboard and Polka Dots AR Chart
 for your classroom! Works perfectly for
 many classroom decors and is available in 10's too!

My newest resource helps you teach
Social Studies in your Reading Block!
 There are 3 texts with ELA question stems.
 Works really well for whole group instruction,
small group, or centers!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New Teacher Tip Tuesday - Managing Transitions

One of the biggest problems students and teachers have in the classroom is during transitions from one activity to another or one subject to another. Why is it a problem for both students and teachers? Let me explain......

Scenario 1: You are teaching a lesson and everything is going great - students are listening and participating - you close the lesson feeling on top of the world. Now it's time to move to another activity or subject. So, you grab the next set of materials and move on. After all, you have a lot to do and need to get through the lesson plans. Not only that, your class has to go to lunch soon or computer lab or specials, etc. As you are moving on, the noise level grows and grows, students are restless, and possibly misbehaviors begin occur. Why?

Scenario 2: Your students return from lunch, computer lab, or specials and upon getting seated in the classroom, noise levels rise, and two students begin arguing, As a teacher, you are thinking "What is happening here? I don't have time for this, I need to start math."

Remember when I said this is a problem for both students and teachers? Let me start with teachers. Once students are off task, talkative, misbehaving, it is time-consuming and hard to bring them back. If this happens throughout the day, you are missing a lot of instructional time and students aren't learning.  For students, it's frustrating because many of them aren't doing anything wrong, but their teacher seems to be frustrated or mad.

These type situations happen to all teachers at one time or another and will continue if certain changes aren't made. For new teachers, this happens a lot. Why? Because they tend to be very focused on teaching their lessons and making sure they cover all the material. So, when they are done, they are ready to transition to the next thing. Both of these situations occurred during that transition period in the classroom. Students and teachers are moving from one activity to another.

So, how do you fix it?

TELL THEM YOUR EXPECTATIONS and GIVE THEM A PROCEDURE FOR IT: Have you told them what you expect them to do when you aren't teaching? Do they know what to do when they walk into the classroom and are waiting for instruction to begin? Here's what I have done in the past:

1. My students were expected to READ in between subjects, instruction, or whenever they don't know what to do. I would specifically tell them that was my expectation for them. They were responsible for having a book in their desk at all times - either a library book, a classroom book, or a personal one. ALWAYS.

2. I gave specific instruction at the end of a lesson.  "Before we begin centers, I would like you to put your textbooks away, get your center folder out, and read quietly until I tell you to move to your center."  This does two things, tells students exactly what I expect and gives them a procedure to do it and gives me time to move to my next activity or lesson.

3. If students were moving from desks to carpet area, I would say, "please fold your arms and walk quietly to your space." Expectation and procedure.  If a student did not follow my directions, I would ask them to go back and do it again.

4. Before entering the classroom, I tell them exactly what I wanted them to do when they got to their desk or on the carpet area. This way, when I am ready to begin - they are too.

It's all about expectations and procedures. Now, 100% of your students are not going to follow directions or procedures 100% of the time - so don't be disappointed by this. If your students don't follow your specific directions - re-teach and let them try again. If you do this, they will get it and transitions will become quieter, easier, and more productive.

One more thing - be consistent. Try to keep transition procedures the same for similar activities. If you do, it will become routine. Give it a try - I think you will see improvement pretty quickly!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

New Teacher Tip Tuesday - Feeling Overwhelmed

Lesson plans, papers to grade, meetings to attend, demanding parents, behavior issues, and the ever present thought that this is not what I was expecting it to be.  It's a lot to take on isn't it?

If you are feeling overwhelmed as a new teacher, here are 5 tips that will help you through it.

Especially when just a few months ago you were a student and maybe some of you were interning with a really great teacher who had wonderful classroom procedures in place when you arrived.  She had already built relationships with students and parents.  It was an AWESOME interning experience. Now reality has hit and you are feeling overwhelmed because it's not quite as easy when you are the person in charge. You're thinking "I'm not cut out for this." Don't worry - here's what you need to do:

1.  BREATHE - It's going to be fine. Really.  Most teachers feel somewhat overwhelmed at this point in the school year - not just new teachers.  Everything is new each school year to some degree and it takes time to get it under control. So, remember it's not just you.

2.  FOCUS - There are a million little details that pop up and you have to deal with them, but keep your focus on your students and their learning. 

3.  GET ORGANIZED - If you are an organized person - skip this step.  But if you are NOT, please take my advice.
  • Create a student filing system for their graded papers and other paperwork that must go home. 
  • Get a Academic calendar planner and USE it. Write down everything and check off your list as you complete tasks. 
  • Have a folder or drawer for papers that need grading. Try not to get behind on grading - it's a mountain your don't want to have to climb.
  • Create folders for lesson plans by subject or by day and put everything you will need for the lesson in that folder. 
4. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF - It will feel like you could work 24/7 and never get it all done.  It's true - you can't, so stop stressing and pace yourself. Try to work on school stuff only one day out of the weekend. You need time off or you will get burnt out really fast. 

5. ASK FOR HELP - Your teammates and administration are very busy just like you, so they don't always know when you need help - so ask.  90% of the time they will be happy to help you out. Remember - they were first year teachers at some point and they REMEMBER how hard it was.  

If it feels overwhelming being a new teacher, check out these tips!
If this is how you feel, just remember to:


Thanks for stopping by! Check back next Tuesday for another New Teacher Tip Tuesday!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

New Teacher Tip Tuesday - Begin with the End in Mind

Welcome to New Teacher Tip Tuesday! If you are a new teacher or newish to the teaching profession, this series of blog posts is for YOU! After being in the elementary classroom for the past 15 years, I have begun a new position as a New Teacher Mentor. Now that I am in this position, your struggles and challenges are in my view 5 days a week. I remember what that first year was like and I want to tell you - IT GETS BETTER AND EASIER - so hang in there! Meanwhile, check in with me every Tuesday for little tidbits of help that will make your first year a little bit easier.

Begin with the End in Mind

Because I know that you have about a billion things to think about every day and sometimes figuring out what to do first is a challenge, I would like to narrow your focus a little by talking about planning and instruction. There's lots of noise in education that might cloud your focus from the most important aspect of teaching - student learning. It's the bottom line and it's where the majority of your time and effort should be taking place.  So how can you do this? Begin with the end in mind.

What does that mean?  Basically, start at what you want the students to know and learn and go backwards when planning. Most schools, districts, and states use standards whether they are Common Core, Florida LAFS/MAFS, Texas TEKS, or whatever. Begin with the standard and determine what it is the students should know and be able to do in order to master the standard. Plan your instruction, activities, formative and summative assessments to achieve this goal.

Sample plan of activities for RL3.3 that focuses on beginning with the end in mind.

Everything I have planned for this standard relates directly to what it wants students to be able to do. Now when I assess my students, I will know if they mastered this standard or if we need to re-visit it again. The focus should always be on what the students should be learning. If you approach your lesson planning by beginning with the end in mind, your students will learn and you will be putting the most effort in the area of teaching that is most important.

Don't forget to begin with the standard when planning.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Labor Day Link Up & Sale

I hope you are enjoying your 3 day weekend friends! Most of you have begun the school year and this holiday weekend is just what you needed to catch your breath! While you are relaxing by the pool or at the beach, check out this Labor Day Link Up & Sale. Lots of TPT sellers have linked up and put their stores on sale for Labor Day. Now that you know what grade you are teaching and the kiddos you will be teaching - it's the perfect time to grab a few back to school resources on sale!

Here's a few suggestions from my store:

Goal Setting for a Growth Mindset

                                                                                 Goal Setting for a Growth Mindset - Reading, Writing, & Math

AR Chart by 5's

AR Chart by 5's - Chalkboard & Polka Dots

Chalkboard & Polka Dots Clip Chart

Clip Chart - Chalkboard & Polka Dots

Reading Wonders Constructed Response 3rd Grade

Reading Wonders 3rd Grade Constructed Response Unit 1 - Co

Multiplication True or False Prove It Task Cards

Multiplication True or False? Prove It! Task Cards

The sale is on Labor Day and most sellers are giving 20% off. Here's the link to our Labor Day Link Up & Sale or if you want to go directly to my store, just click here.

 Enjoy your day!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New Teacher Tip Tuesday - Prioritize Your To-Do List

Starting today, I am kicking off a new series on my blog - New Teacher Tip Tuesday! I am really excited about this because helping new teachers is my job this year and I love it!! My county has begun a new Teacher Mentor program to help our beginning teachers navigate their first year and do it successfully. With that in mind, I am getting lots of questions from new teachers and I know there are plenty of you out there who probably have some of those same questions too. So, check back each Tuesday for little pearls of wisdom that might make your journey just a little bit easier. For those of you who have taught a little longer - you too might need a reminder every now and then, so I invite you to join us too!

Tips on how to prioritize your long to do list

One thing I know for sure is that your to-do list is a mile long. Welcome to being a teacher! The thing is that you will always have a to-do list, but the key to managing all these things is to prioritize. So, here's an easy way to do this. If your tasks fall in any of these three categories, they have priority and should be done today or scheduled for the very near future, i.e., this week.

Tasks that will have a direct impact on student learning versus decorative ones that won't.  We all want "cute" classrooms, but they are NOT a priority.

Tasks that must be done today.  For example, returning parent phone calls or emails. These should be done as soon as possible (meaning today). Tasks that are part of what you will be teaching tomorrow.  Don't wait until the morning of the lesson to get things done.

Tasks that must be done by the end of the week.  For example, next week's plans and materials, graded papers to be sent home, and newsletters. Use a planner-  any kind will do, Target has inexpensive ones that work perfectly -  to schedule out a few tasks per day so that they are finished by the end of the week.  If the task repeats each week, schedule it the same day and time every week if possible.

If your task does not fall into one of these categories, it gets moved down the list and you can get to it when you have time.  At the end of the day, re-write your list and place your tasks in order of importance based on these three categories. This will help you focus on what's most important. are a teacher at the beginning of your journey. You are not expected to have it all mastered, so try not to put too much pressure on yourself to "get it all done".  

If you are a new teacher and have topics you would like to read about, please leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Using a Growth Mindset to Set Goals in the Classroom

Have you ever set goals with your students? In order for our students to grasp the growth mindset of trying, failing, trying, making mistakes, trying, and finally succeeding – we have to guide them through the process.  One of the ways I like to guide my students is by setting goals in reading, math, and writing.

When I first begin to talk about the process with my third graders, they really didn't "get it". It was definitely a process that developed over time - but a very effective one.

First, you want to get your students thinking about what kind of student they want to be. Initial responses are usually words like smart and straight A. But, you need to lead them to deeper, more specific adjectives and phrases. In the picture below, you can see that we used words like: determined, problem solver, and always improving. These are growth mindset words. They open the door to all students to become the student they want to be. 

The next step is to set goals and strategies for how they will reach those goals.

  A goal without a plan is a wish. 

Antoine de Saint-Exupery French writer (1900 - 1944) 

No wishing necessary - just a simple strategy for HOW we will reach our goals. How will you know what goals your students should be setting?  Use whatever beginning of the year assessments and screenings that are available.  You can also wait a few weeks and gather data from classroom work or tests. Once you have this,  you can begin helping students set SMART goals. What are SMART goals? They are simply:

Specific...Measurable ...Attainable ...Realistic ...Time Specific 

To make this even easier for you and your students, I have Reading, Writing, and Math goal worksheets with sentence starters. These are perfect for primary grades and beginning 3rd graders. 

If you have upper elementary or even middle schoolers, this plan sheet works well because they can personalize the wording of their goals and strategies.

Here's a breakdown of what and how your students will fill out the goal worksheets:

Look at each of the goal sheets. See how SPECIFIC the goal is? Make sure the goal is VERY specific. Otherwise it is pie in the sky for kids. They won't know what they are reaching for A...a B? 

Next, goals must be MEASURABLE. How will students know they have reached them unless you collect data and they track it.  So a goal must be numeric in some way - points or percentages work really well.

Remember...nobody is going to gain if the goal isn’t ATTAINABLE. In this box is where the HOW will be written.  With your help, the student can identify exactly what they are going to work on, decoding, fluency, summarizing text, underlining text evidence. Whatever you determine will help them move along, but keep it short and sweet.  It needs to be something a child can comprehend and act on. Be specific. 

As a bonus, this section works for the student and the teacher. They know what to work on and you know what to plan for small group or RTI. 

Realistic goals are within reach and definitely doable. Why? Because we have a growth mindset! This is where the connection to What Kind of Student Do I Want To Be can come in. I like to have students choose a few of their phrases or adjectives to reinforce this thinking. 

The 4 week graphs work really well for primary grades. It's not too long nor too short. They can see their progress or if there isn't any, you can adjust the practice or the goal.

For upper elementary, the 9 week time frame works well for them. It gives them sufficient time to reach their goals and can be planned to coincide with a grading period.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned how effective goal setting was for my third graders. Well, the proof was in what they would do without my input. I "caught" them getting post-it notes to write their goals on before tests. They would put the post-its on their privacy screens for a visual reminder. Isn't that the best? Just when you think they aren't paying attention! Did their post its strategy work? ABSOLUTELY!!  I couldn't get their tests graded quick enough for them! MAJOR growth mindset happening!!!!

Of course, achieving goals is celebration worthy! So, not only did we make a BIG deal when a student reached their goals - I gave them a certificate to take home and share with family.

If you want to help your students, whether primary or upper elementary learn to set goals and support a growth mindset, you might want to look at my resource Goal Setting for a Growth Mindset on TPT. Included are goals setting worksheets for reading, writing, math, AR Points, and math facts. Check out my preview for more detailed look at all of the resources that are included!

Monday, August 22, 2016

TPT Sale - How to Save Even More!

The Teachers Pay Teachers Best Year Ever sale is today! You can save up to 28% in lots of stores - including mine. But there is a way to save even MORE!

Did you know that you receive TPT credits when you leave feedback on your purchases? It's really easy to do and you can use your credits toward new purchases!

Here's how you do it:

Go to your My Purchases page.

Right below the product description it will say Provide Feedback. Click on that.

On the product page, leave a comment and rate the product using the scales provided.

Thats it! Now you have TPT credits to use toward new purchases!

So get busy leaving feedback, then go back and buy those goodies in your cart! But don't forget to use the code ONEDAY so you can get all the savings possible!


While you are there, POP in to my store and see all the new products available:

AR Chart by 5's - Chalkboard & Polka Dots

4th Grade ELA I Can Posters - Chalkboard & Polka Dots

Clip Chart - Chalkboard & Polka Dots

Friday, August 19, 2016

Five for Friday - August 19th

Happy Friday Everyone! I know those of us who are back in school are so happy to reach this day! These first days are a killer on the feet. Fortunately, I am able to write this post off my feet!  So excited to be joining Doodlebugs Teaching and the other wonderful bloggers this week!

Can we talk about how amazing the Olympics have been this year? I always love to watch, but this year there are so many stories that have made this one really amazing. Michael Phelps - 28 medals; Simone Biles - 4 Gold Medals - a first for the women's gymnastic team; Katie Ledecky - her swim in the 800m - no one even in the screen shot when she won. AMAZING and it's not over yet!

I've had a little FOMO this year since I'm not in the classroom and therefore NOT decorating or getting to enjoy all the new little goodies everyone is showing on their Social Media accounts. A couple of my favorites: Lightboxes, banners with big chunky letters, flexible seating, and an even bigger emphasis on teaching a growth mindset that includes bulletin boards, flip books, and posters.

In my new position of Full Release Teacher Mentor, I have already had the opportunity to work with a few new teachers as they begin their first school year.  I have to say being new is so hard. I think it's much harder now than when I started and I feel for them.  My daughter is a new teacher this year and I am getting the day by day account of how hard it is, especially for those who have not been trained to be a teacher.  She is a history major teaching middle school and the history part is super easy - it's the craft of teaching that has to be learned. Of course, that is the part that everyone truly has to practice and learn constantly in order to be good at it.  If there is a new teacher at your school - give them a smile or a helping hand - they need it!

How cute is this MacBook Air cover?  I got my first Mac for my new mentor position and I had to buy a cute cover for it, right?  What can I say? It's the little things in life.

I spent the first three days of school this week at my old school helping out....tagging Kindergarteners, directing parents and students to classrooms, setting up a new classroom, helping a new teacher prepare, and wishing I wore comfortable shoes. After a summer of relaxation, this first week always kicks my butt! So thankful today is Friday! Have a great weekend friends!!!

Make sure you check out the other posts at Doodlebugs Teaching!