Saturday, 03 September 2016 22:27

A New Look for This Year's Class Mission Statement Featured

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My students and I just completed our class mission statement, and I decided to try a different format this year. Rather than present our ideas as a series of paragraphs, I designed the document to look like the front wall of a classroom. The text was fit inside a whiteboard, two bulletin boards, a clock, a flag, and other "classroom-themed" shapes. As much as possible, the meaning of the text matched the object in which it was placed. For example, the words "we use our time well and make the most of every day" were put in the clock. My hope is that this novel format will resonate with my students and give our ideas greater meaning.   Click here to see the full-sized version of our new class mission statement.
Saturday, 18 June 2016 00:51

Exciting Video Announcement Featured

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In this video I announce the release of my new e-book on amazon, 15 1/2 Ways to Personalize Learning. In the book I present a variety of proven, user-friendly teaching strategies, ideas, and activities that simplify the challenge of personalizing student learning and enable educators to meet children’s diverse needs confidently, effectively, and joyfully. This teaching resource is divided into four sections. Part 1: Personalize the approach students take to their work Part 2: Personalize academic instruction (This part includes my favorite method of integrating technology in the classroom.) Part 3: Personalize student goals Part 4: Personalize each child’s classroom experience There is also a link in the book that provides access to a free PDF with over 25 printable pages that make it easy to incorporate the book’s ideas in the classroom. Click here to see the book on   Click here to see the video.
Saturday, 18 June 2016 00:40

NEW Video: Help Kids Pursue Their Passions Featured

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One of my favorite beginning-of-the-year activities to use in the classroom is the Passion Survey. Having children identify their favorite hobbies and topics and then using this information throughout the school year produces numerous academic and socio-emotional benefits. This video describes these benefits and presents a user-friendly way to organize and display the results. Watch this video now.
Saturday, 18 June 2016 20:51

NEW Video: Give All Your Students Their Own "Thing" Featured

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This video features a fun strategy designed teachers can use in the classroom to personalize everyone’s classroom experience and guarantee positive attention. When we give kids their own thing, it can be a nickname, a job, a gesture, a signal, or a private joke—anything that makes a child feel special and acknowledged as an individual. The goal is for every child to have or be known for something that is uniquely theirs.  Watch this video now.
Saturday, 18 June 2016 20:29

NEW Video: Help Children Improve Their Reading Skills Featured

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This video features a wonderful resource we can use in the classroom to improve children's reading after we conclude our reading conferences with them. Conferring is a terrific way to personalize our strategy work for the benefit of each child. Follow-up is typically the primary challenge of conferring. For example, a student, during a reading conference, may do a fantastic job of making a thoughtful prediction before starting a new chapter, yet transferring that skill to her daily reading, where it matters most, may not come as easily. To help facilitate stronger transfer, we can use simple tools called visual reminder cards. Each card is a small, index-card-size sheet that contains the name of a specific strategy, a corresponding image, and a brief definition or description of the strategy. At the end of a conference, I like to present students with a visual reminder card focused on the strategy we…
Tuesday, 14 June 2016 17:14

2 NEW Short Instructional Videos for Young Mystery Writers Featured

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"What is a Mystery?" and "What is the Crime?" are two engaging videos that are a part of "The Ultimate Mystery Writing Course for Kids," a series of engaging, easy-to-follow lessons I created for, in which I take young writers step-by-step from the beginning of the writing process to the end and help them craft stories that keep readers guessing and on the edge of their seats!   If your child is interested in writing a mystery adventure, you may also want to consider "The Ultimate Mystery Writing Guide for Kids" on In both the course and the guide, I combine the knowledge and skills I have developed during my 22-year teaching career with numerous examples from my Chase Manning Mystery Series to teach children about crimes, crime solvers, suspects, motives, clues, witnesses, alibis, red herrings, and all the other elements that make mysteries so much fun to…
This short video features "The Drive for 5," a concept I created to help children and parents understand what I consider to be the 5 most important traits kids need to develop and display in order to have the best school year possible. You can find the set of visuals that I present in the video on my Pinterest page. I share the visuals with my students at the beginning of the school year and with their parents at Back to School Night. These ideas become a significant reference point that we use in class throughout the year. Click here to watch the video.
Saturday, 05 March 2016 01:00

The Awesomeness of Problem-Based Learning (Part 7) Featured

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     Last week I described the self-esteem benefits that surfaced when I presented the Thrively strength assessment results to my students in groups rather than individually. During these conversations another powerful benefit of using Thrively in the classroom emerged—improved group functioning.      When children work together on an academic activity, teachers, of course, want each group to complete the task successfully and produce quality work. The primary goals of cooperative learning, however, have less to do with the final products the kids create and more to do with the development of important habits of character that will serve students well throughout their lives. For example, when members of a group work together, we want the students to treat one another with kindness and respect, be open to the ideas of others, solve disagreements peaceably, maintain their focus without straying off task, and take pride in the final product…
Saturday, 27 February 2016 01:59

The Awesomeness of Problem-Based Learning (Part 6) Featured

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    In last week's post, I mentioned that my each of my students took an online strength assessment at and received a detailed summary of the results that was 100% positive and motivating. I first incorporated the results of this strength profile into my instruction during the Community Resource Project, a problem-based learning unit that was part of our science curriculum. (To review, Thrively is a free website for teachers and parents that’s designed to help children discover their interests and passions, personalize the learning process, and maximize their amazing potential. Over the past few months, I have been collaborating with the founder of the company due to our mutual interest in strength-based education and teaching the whole child.)     After my students took this online strength profile, my original plan was to meet individually with each child to discuss the results and determine the different ways we could…