Thursday, 04 March 2010 06:56

Other Projects

Steve has also pursued a variety of other projects throughout his career. This section features four of them.
The Tower of Opportunity
The Tower of Opportunity is a four-sided structure that helps students find greater meaning in their schoolwork and better understand how daily learning activities connect to the higher purposes we teachers try to promote in our classrooms. Each of the Tower's seven floors features one of the life roles Dale Parnell defines in his marvelous book Why Do I Have to Learn This?

The 7 Life Roles are:

  • Citizen
  • Consumer
  • Family Member & Friend
  • Individual
  • Leisure Participant
  • Lifelong Learner
  • Producer (Worker)
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"Quote of the Day"
Steve's latest project stems from the "Quote of the Day" discussions that he has used successfully in recent as part of his classroom's morning routine. This book features 122 inspirational quotes that parents and teachers can discuss with children 8-12 years of age in order to build character and improve the overall classroom or home environment. Along with each quote, Steve provides "talking points that readers can use or reference in these discussions.

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"The Joys of Teaching the Upper Elementary Grades"
Steve was asked to contribute an article to Phi Delta Kappan: The Journal for Education for the February, 2009 edition.

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Fantasy Football Article: Six Factors to Consider Before Making Your Pick
Steve’s passion for Fantasy Football inspired him to write an article in the summer of 2009 detailing an approach that fellow enthusiasts can use to select the best players possible in their annual drafts.

Read the Article
Tuesday, 17 July 2012 07:18

The First 30 Days

The First 30 Days: Start Your School Year with 4 Priorities in Mind


The First 30 Days: Start Your School Year With Four Priorities in Mind

The First 30 Days: Start Your School Year With Four Priorities in Mind is a user-friendly 40-page resource designed to help you get off to a great start as you begin each school year. Giving the following four priorities the time and emphasis they deserve will pay big dividends for you, your students, and their families.

  1. Establish procedures, routines, and expectations so students know how to function efficiently and effectively in your classroom. Keep this training period going until performing these routines and procedures becomes second nature for students. Generally, 4-6 weeks will be sufficient.
  2. Build a cooperative classroom culture through icebreaking and team-building activities so students feel safe and comfortable and see one another as friends and assets, not rivals.
  3. Establish a sense of purpose in your class so students understand why it is important to come to school each day and work hard. Children who understand the many purposes of their learning will behave better, work with greater motivation and enthusiasm, and find greater meaning in their work.
  4. Communicate with your students’ families about the new year. Build a sense of excitement, optimism, and possibility as you share your plans for the coming months. Be proactive. Doing so gives you the opportunity to package your ideas and articulate them in the best possible light. Proactive communication increases your credibility, strengthens your voice, and reaffirms your position of leadership.

The chapters bring these priorities to life with a wide variety of activities, strategies, suggestions, and sample pages.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012 07:18

The First 10 Minutes

The First 10 Minutes: A Classroom Morning Routine that Reaches and Teaches the Whole Child


The First 10 Minutes: A Classroom Morning Routine that Reaches and Teaches the Whole Child

A consistent, effective morning routine sets the tone for the upcoming school day and prepares students for high quality learning. In The First 10 Minutes Steve describes a three-part routine that reaches and teaches the whole child. This resource is a user-friendly, 23-page PDF download.

Part 1 introduces the morning check-in, an activity that addresses the affective domain by building a sense of inclusion and mutual caring, strengthening teamwork, increasing class bonding, and helping each child feel acknowledged and valued.

Part 2 features three types of class discussions that focus on moral and character development and emphasize strong work habits and social skills. The goals of these brief conversations are to inspire children to maximize their amazing potential, build a sense of purpose, and increase student motivation to learn and succeed.

Part 3 adds a physical component to this routine that both energizes and de-stresses children to help them achieve an ideal mindset for academic learning. After completing this warm-up routine, students will be calm, relaxed, focused, and confident.

Sunday, 23 October 2011 07:18

Changing Kids' Lives One Quote at a Time

Changing Kids' Lives One Quote at a Time: 121 Inspirational Sayings to Build Character in Children

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EChanging Kids' Lives One Quote at a Time

Created for parents and teachers by a National Board Certified elementary school teacher, Changing Kids’ Lives One Quote at a Time contains 121 inspirational sayings designed to bring out the best in children and develop lasting habits.  For educators, discussing these quotes also helps establish an enthusiastic, productive, team-oriented classroom culture.  

Specifically, the quotes target 13 “Habits of Character,” a list that includes Cooperation, Courage, Fairness, Honesty, Kindness, Patience, Perseverance, Positive Attitude, Pride, Respect, Responsibility, Self-discipline, and Service.  In addition, the sayings touch on other important ideas, such as quality, success, and health & wellness.  From beginning to end, the quotes spiral through these topics to empower children with multiple opportunities to think about and discuss each one. Accompanying each quote is a set of “talking points” Steve provides as a reference that parents and teachers can use to draw full meaning from each saying.

In Changing Kids’ Lives One Quote at a Time Steve describes a simple, effective way for parents and teachers to conduct meaningful discussions with children. Though the conversations take only a few minutes, the exercise is a valuable one because it encourages kids to think deeply, because there is a high tone to the dialogue that appeals to the best in people, and because it allows your family or classroom to start the day on a positive note.  Further payoffs to consistent use of this activity include better student behavior, stronger work habits and social skills, improved attitudes towards school, greater enthusiasm for and increased dedication to learning, more connections made between school and students’ present and future lives, and enhanced vocabulary development.

Finally, Steve provides a series of prompts for teachers who are interested in using the quotes for journal writing purposes. Furthermore, Steve shows how talking and writing about these quotes addresses a variety of important language arts standards.

Sample Quote

Here is a sample quote from the book along with its talking points.

Quote #21

“7 days without exercise makes one weak.”

-Rudy Benton


• Rudy Benton is a legendary Physical Education teacher from Northern California with a gift for clever word play.

• The key to this quote is the word “weak.”

• Of course, seven days makes one week on the calendar. Seven days without exercise, however, makes one weak.

• Benton’s point: keep your body healthy by moving it around on a regular basis.

Endorsement Statements

"An excellent resource for home or school, designed to provide the parent and teacher with a simple, to-the-point plan to engage, empower, and promote the much needed character-building traits in today's youth."

-J.D. Hughes, M.Ed and Ed.S
National Board Certified Physical Education Teacher, Author, & National Physical Education Consultant
Villa Rica, GA

“Steve Reifman's Quote of the Day discussions draw on the latest educational research and his own innovative approach to helping our children reach their highest potential."

Dan Stern
Parent, Roosevelt School
Santa Monica, CA

"As the assistant principal at my school I believe that building the character of our students and challenging them to think about their actions and opportunities is vitally important. With this in mind we begin every school day with some thought provoking quote or message. Steve's book provides an excellent, conveniently organized resource for this type of daily motivation."

Todd Sanderson, Assistant Principal
Byhalia Elementary School
Byhalia, Mississippi

"These inspirational quotes, presented in the classroom or offered around the dinner table at home, engage children in remarkably insightful, lively discussions concerning their meaning.  It's heartening,and great fun to hear kids excitedly sharing their ideas and interpretations of these phrases and listening to others offer their own impressions. The pro-social, affirmative messages in the quotes encourage children to draw on their own personal experiences to express what it means to them to be an individual within a community, a motivated, active contributor and participant in the larger world."

Susan Reichmann, (m.a., l.m.f.t., a.t.r.-b.c.)
Parent/Marriage & Family Therapist
Santa Monica, CA

“I love this book! Steve Reifman has created a well-organized and thought-provoking book of quotes designed to focus students on positive character traits.  Many students come to school without exposure to these traits that are so crucial to lifelong success. I plan on using this book and the accompanying talking points Steve has included to give my students a daily dose of positive thoughts!”

Diane Dahl
2nd Grade Teacher
Frisco, Texas

"Witnessing the children process the quotes Steve provided each morning in class was amazing!  I was so impressed how each child was able to interpret and apply these quotes to their own lives.  This is truly a wonderful technique that encourages children to think deeper and open their minds to a whole new way of thinking. I hope all teachers can apply this to their curriculum for their students to experience."  

Chris Pegula
Parent, Roosevelt School
Santa Monica, CA

“What a vauable resource! These are great quotes, by great individuals, leading to the development of great people living out character-filled lives. Families, schools, and youth groups will all find relevant topics on leading a life guided by integrity, an essential in today's society. This book is the perfect starter for conversation, discussion, and reflection. We will be posting these quotes on our school bulletin boards. Thanks, Steve. This is a great idea.”

Chip Candy
1995 NASPE Middle School Teacher of the Year
Marlton, New Jersey

Thursday, 12 August 2010 01:44

Teaching Books

In his teacher resource books Steve aims to help educators improve the quality of teaching and learning that occurs in elementary and middle school classrooms. Though each book may focus on a different topic, his works stem a common philosophical framework that emphasizes several core themes: student empowerment, intrinsic motivation, enthusiasm for learning, teamwork, finding meaning in and understanding the larger purposes of our work, and the development of lasting habits of mind and habits of character.
Eight Essentials for Empowered Teaching and Learning, K-8 Eight Essentials for Empowered Teaching and Learning, K-8 (Released May, 2008)
Published by Corwin Press, Eight Essentials for Empowered Teaching and Learning, K-8 presents a set of eight integrated principles that comprise an overall approach to organizing and managing classrooms. Inspirational and practical, this book focuses on the quality of teaching and learning in elementary and middle school classrooms and helps teachers and students find more joy, satisfaction, and meaning in their work.

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Brushes With Greatness Brushes With Greatness (Not Yet Released)
Brushes With Greatness contains 1-page biographies of 20 well-known individuals who used education to make better lives for themselves. This book is designed to help elementary school students understand the role that education played in empowering these people to achieve the greatness for which they are known today. The biographies trace the learning paths of the individuals featured and emphasize the educational accomplishments and character traits that made their later success possible. The stories also highlight the adversity these men and women faced and the obstacles they overcame. This book’s primary goal is to encourage children everywhere to become more determined, more motivated, more purposeful learners.

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Rock Your Students' World Rock Your Students' World (Not Yet Released)
The recent explosion of literature relating the findings of brain research and its implications for improving student learning has presented educators with a golden opportunity to reach greater heights and achieve greater results than ever before. Teachers now know more than we've ever known about how the brain functions, how students learn best, and which types of instructional practices hold the most promise.

Learn More

Eight Essentials for Empowered Teaching and Learning, K-8: Bringing Out the Best In Your Students

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Eight Essentials for Empowered Teaching and Learning


Published by Corwin Press in May, 2008, Eight Essentials for Empowered Teaching and Learning, K-8 presents a set of eight integrated principles that comprise an overall approach to organizing and managing classrooms. Inspirational and practical, this book focuses on the quality of teaching and learning in elementary and middle school classrooms and helps teachers and students find more joy, satisfaction, and meaning in their work.

Experienced teacher Steve Reifman defines a quality classroom in reader-friendly terms, explains how to measure quality, and covers the conditions under which all students are empowered to reach their full potential. The author synthesizes key concepts from the fields of education, psychology, management, and personal growth to arrive at the eight essential elements of teaching, including realistic goal setting, assessment-oriented instruction, parent involvement, and teacher leadership. Written in a personal, engaging voice and drawing upon the work of experts such as Stephen Covey, Howard Gardner, Ted Sizer, William Glasser, Carol Ann Tomlinson, Alfie Kohn, and Alan Blankstein, this resource

  • Promotes student motivation and a classroom environment of trust and respect
  • Builds higher-level thinking and group problem solving into the curriculum
  • Presents classroom applications, examples, anecdotes, and reproducible pages
  • Features ideas from practicing teachers for putting these essential ideas to work in the classroom

Eight Essentials for Empowered Teaching and Learning, K–8 motivates student teachers, beginning teachers, and veteran educators to become the most effective instructors they can be and achieve the best learning outcomes possible for their students.


The book has many fine qualities—chief among them is a very desirable structure for helping teachers organize and maintain classrooms in which students are likely to flourish. This book goes a long way toward helping teachers acquire that competence." - C.M. Charles, Professor Emeritus, San Diego State University

"Takes Gardner, Covey, Tomlinson, and wraps them all together in an approach that I find very motivating." - Karen Kersey, Second-Grade Teacher, Albans Elementary, St. Albans, WV

"Contains information that is vitally important for the success of any classroom." - Julie Duford, Fifth-Grade Teacher, Polson Middle School, MT

"Gives us a format that we can develop into a philosophy or goal for our classrooms so our students become enthusiastic about learning. I could barely put this book down until I finished it. In fact, I am recommending it to my principal." - Debbie Halcomb, Fourth-Grade Teacher, Robert W. Combs Elementary, Cornettsville, KY

Thursday, 04 March 2010 07:24

Rock It!

Rock It! Transform Classroom Learning with Movement, Songs, and Stories (Publication Date: 9/15/13)

"A must-have for any educator looking for ways to get students engaged, motivated, and learning!"
- Jerry Evanski, PhD, author, Classroom Activities
"Movement and music are magic in the classroom."
-Debra Em Wilson, founder, S'cool Moves    

Buy My Copy of Rock It! Now


Rock It! Transform Classroom Learning with Movement, Songs, and Stories has over 100 activities you can implement today in your elementary classroom to energize your students and help them learn.

All of the movement activities, songs, and stories for teaching math and English language arts are aligned with Common Core State Standards in grades K - 5 to help you meet those learning goals. Other activities help students learn science, social studies, and health curriculum topics. There are also ideas for movement warm-ups, breaks, and creating a strong classroom community.

Research shows that getting kids active while learning helps engage the brain. The activities in Rock It! will get your students rocking to the beat of success.

"Hundreds of ideas that every teacher loves - practical, brain-friendly, Common Core aligned and immediately effective."
- Pat Wyman, author, Amazing Grades and founder,

"In a test- and data-driven society, Rock It! brings back the fun to motivate student learning."
- J.D. Hughes, author, PE2 the Max

Book Table of Contents


CHAPTER 1: Movement Warm-Ups

CHAPTER 2: Teaching Math with Movement and Stories

CHAPTER 3: Teaching Language Arts with Movement and Stories

CHAPTER 4: Teaching Science, Social Studies, and Health with Movement and Stories

CHAPTER 5: Songs for Learning

CHAPTER 6: Movement Breaks

CHAPTER 7: Rhythms and Chants

CHAPTER 8: Creating a Quality Classroom Culture with Movement and Stories




Buy My Copy of Rock It! Now

Thursday, 04 March 2010 07:18

2-Minute Biographies For Kids

2-Minute Biographies For Kids: Inspirational Success Stories About 19 Famous People and the Importance of Education

Buy 2-Minute Biographies For Kids Now


This user-friendly book contains inspirational stories of 19 well-known individuals who used education to make better lives for themselves. The biographies trace the learning paths of the featured men and women and emphasize the educational accomplishments that made their later success possible. The stories also highlight the adversity these people faced, the obstacles they overcame, and the positive character traits they demonstrated. Interesting facts, anecdotes, and quotes are included so children understand that these individuals were at one time kids just like themselves.

* Ideal for bedtime or classroom read-alouds
* Engaging "riddle-format" keeps the identity of each individual a secret until the last sentence
* Great source of short Non-Fiction texts you can use to address Common Core standards
* Designed to inspire children 8-12 years of age to become more motivated, more determined, more purposeful learners
* Features a diverse, distinguished group of individuals, including Barack Obama, Susan B. Anthony, Oprah Winfrey, Thomas Edison, Sandra Cisneros, Sally Ride, Dr. Seuss, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

List of Featured Individuals

  • Maya Angelou
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Elizabeth Blackwell
  • Louis Braille
  • George Washington Carver
  • Sandra Cisneros
  • Bill Clinton
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Tim Duncan
  • Thomas Edison
  • Bill Gates
  • Barbara Jordan
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Barack Obama
  • Condoleeza Rice
  • Sally Ride
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Pat Head Summitt
  • Oprah Winfrey

Sample Biography

She Learned Early in Life to Shoot for the Stars

As a child, she had always been fascinated by planets, stars, and galaxies, but never did she dream of becoming a scientist. She was born in Los Angeles, CA on May 26, 1951 to parents who deeply valued education. Her father Dale was a political science professor at Santa Monica College; her mom was a teacher and voracious reader. Authors Jane and Sue Hurwitz remark that she and her younger sister Karen “were raised in an atmosphere that encouraged individual exploration. Accordingly, {she} believed that she could undertake any activity that she felt capable of or wished to learn about. Being a girl never prevented her from doing anything she wanted.” She loved to read Nancy Drew mysteries, James Bond spy novels, and a fair amount of science fiction. Looking back now, it is fitting that one of her heroes was Superman.

She developed an intense passion for both science and sports. By age five, she was reading the sports section of the newspaper and memorizing baseball statistics. There was an even a time when she dreamed of playing for the hometown Dodgers. She was so good at softball and football that she was often the only girl selected to play in neighborhood games with boys. From these games, she learned two critical lessons: 1) the importance of being a team player and 2) girls can compete in games with boys.

As she grew up, major changes were occurring in the field of space exploration. The Soviet Union had taken the lead over the U.S. in the “Space Race” by launching the first artificial satellite to orbit the earth in 1957 and by sending the first person into space in 1961. Along with thousands of Americans, her interest in space increased during this time.

Tennis soon became her main sport, and her talent, motivation, determination, and perseverance helped her become a top junior player. In 1964, she won a partial scholarship to the all-girls Westlake School, where she met Dr. Elizabeth Mommaerts, a teacher who encouraged her to become a scientist. In high school she continued to progress with her tennis while also studying chemistry, physics, trigonometry, and calculus. After graduation, she attended Swarthmore College, a small liberal arts college just outside Philadelphia, where for two years she excelled at tennis. She then came home so she could play all-year around in the warmer climate.

Eventually, she concluded that she didn’t quite have what it took to become a pro tennis player, so she dedicated herself to becoming a scientist. She went to Stanford University and in 1973 graduated with degrees in English and physics. In the years that followed, she earned her master’s degree and Ph. D in astrophysics, the study of the physical and chemical characteristics of matter in space. In 1977, unsure of what kind of job to get, she came across an advertisement in the university newspaper. NASA was looking for mission specialists to conduct experiments on board the space shuttle, and for the first time women were urged to apply.

Even though there were more than 8,000 applicants for the program, she made it, due to the combination of her science background, athletic ability, scholastic achievement, and reputation as a team player. On June 18, 1983 she served as mission specialist on the space shuttle Challenger. With a crowd estimated at 250,000 watching from Kennedy Space Center, she became America’s first female astronaut and the youngest American to take part in a space mission. Her participation wasn’t simply an outstanding personal achievement; it would help create new opportunities for other American women in a variety of professions. Her courage and commitment to working as part of a team earned her the respect of fellow astronauts, the admiration of millions of Americans, and a place in history. Her Dr. Sally Ride.

Buy 2-Minute Biographies For Kids Now

Whenever I want to communicate an important academic or behavioral idea to my students, I try to create a visual representation of that idea. Creating a visual reference point makes the idea easier for kids to understand, and it also gives it a sense of permanence because I can review the visual, as needed, over time.







Over the past few weeks I have been writing about the virtuous cycle that begins once students develop higher personal standards and expect more from themselves. This virtuous cycle has been on my mind quite a bit lately, and I have started to discuss the idea more explicitly and more frequently with my students.