Using Mentor Text and Modeling to Teach Writing

Most writing curriculums encourage teachers to use mentor text and modeling in their writing workshop. Why? Because they are effective instructional strategies that promote student engagement and give students powerful tools to apply in their own writing. Learn about these writing strategies, why you should use them, and tips for teaching them in your classroom that will help even your most reluctant writers!

MENTOR TEXT and MODELING are both effective strategies to use when showing students examples of a writer's craft. That is why I chose to discuss them together.  Prior to using these strategies with a new writing lesson, provide students with an anchor chart explaining the meaning of that particular writing skill or writer's craft. Then use mentor text as well as modeling to show students how to apply the lesson in their own writing. Using both strategies will provide your students with two explicit examples.

First, let's look at the definitions of mentor text and modeling and why we should use them.

What Is Mentor Text?

A mentor text is a published piece of writing used when teaching a specific writing skill or craft to ultimately motivate students to write effectively.

"Mentor Texts is like having a literature expert and master teacher at your side all year long. Enjoy it, mark it up, make it your friend. You and your students will be energized and motivated as you savor richly constructed mentor texts and connect them to amazing writing opportunities." -Linda Hoyt

Mentor text should be used in teaching a writing lesson because the examples of quality writing from a professional writer gives meaning to the lesson. Looking at key skills featured in a published text is a powerful way to impact student writing.

What is Modeling?

Modeling is a way teachers show students how to apply a particular writing skill or craft by actively wrting their own example in front of the students.

Modeled writing should occur to provide another quality example for the students and establish good writing behavior in the classroom. Reluctant writers will learn to trust the writing process by watching their teacher write examples of the lesson and/or apply it to a class story.

"Teachers who repeatedly model and think aloud as they read and write explicitly show their students the mental strategies involved in constructing meaning."- TEA

Next, find tips on how to use these strategies and look at some examples.

How Do You Use Mentor Text?

If we want students writing an exciting story or an effective essay, show them a mentor text.

1.  Choose a mentor text that explicitly shows the particular skill you are teaching.


Click for free download.

2. Read the story out loud. Since you want your students focused on the writer's craft, reading out loud will help struggling readers stay on task.

3.  Ask students questions to comprehend the story. It is important for students to understand the story elements in order to identify and understand the writer's craft.

4.  Ask students to identify the specific skill or writer's craft from the lesson.  Reread what they point out together and ask them to think deeper.

5.  Discuss the example found in the story. How does the skill or craft relate to the story? Why is it a good example? Have questions ready ahead of time that is related to the lesson.

6. Highlight or write the example on chart paper. It will make it easy when you need to refer back to it.

How Do You Model Writing?

1.  Tell students your expectations.  Say something like, "Pay attention to my writing, because you are going to be doing the same thing!  I expect you to also write an example of the lesson."

2.  Only model the lesson from that day.  Don't overwhelm your students. The reason writing should be broken up into mini-lessons is to lessen the stress and writer's block. Take one step at a time!

3.  Be enthusiastic. If students see that you fear writing or aren't excited to write, they may emulate your feelings.  Say something like, "I can't wait to write today!"

4.  Think aloud. While you are writing, talk about it. Refer back to the anchor chart or mentor text. Explain why you are making the choices in your writing.

5.  Accept student input. Especially if you are writing an ongoing story, allow students to brainstorm ideas with you. You can pick and choose which ones will be best for your writing.

6.  Write where all students can see. Depending on the size of your group, model on chart paper or a smart board so all students can see you writing.

7.  It is ok to have it already prepped. Are you just as afraid as some of your reluctant writers? Are you afraid you won't be able to write effectively or brainstorm on the spot? It is completely ok to have your modeling not spontaneous. In all of my Interactive Writing Notebooks, I have the modeling already prepped for this reason!



Last, discover the best approach to using mentor text and modeling!!! 

I want to end by telling you an effective approach to using mentor text and modeling. The best way to teach writing is through Step-by-Step Mini-Lessons that build upon each other and scaffold through the writing process. With a writing prompt, teach mini-lessons in an order that works through the writing process. With each lesson, share an example of a mentor text and model writing by adding that lesson to a class story. Students should also apply it to their own writing prompt. It may take many weeks to write one story, but it will be worth it in the end! Students will learn all the writing techniques and gain confidence in their writing when they see a powerful final copy!

I hope you found these ideas helpful!  There is a grade level list of several mentor texts for each skill as well as modeling for all writing skills scaffolded through the writing process included in my writing program called Interactive Writing Notebooks.  HAPPY WRITING!

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10 Engaging Vocabulary Activities

Developing vocabulary is crucial in children's growth as readers. In order to understand the text, students must first have an understanding of the words they are reading; therefore, vocabulary instruction is an important component to reading comprehension.

Three important instructional practices in vocabulary instruction include:

1. Providing a student-friendly definition as well as examples of using the word correctly in sentences. 

2. Giving students an opportunity to apply the word to their own experiences and make connections with the words.

3. Practicing using the word through engaging activities.

Practicing using the words can be an opportunity to add some fun and excitement to your lessons. Here are 10 tried and true activities that my kiddos love, and hopefully, yours will too!

1.  Fly Swat

Yes, this game is on every vocabulary idea list that you find, and it is there for a good reason. I have used this game in my classroom for over 20 years, and students still get excited about this fun and simple activity. All you need are 2 fly swats and a whiteboard. I simply write the vocabulary words randomly on the board, and divide my class into two teams. One member from each team comes to the board. Call out a definition or a sentence that is missing the vocabulary word, and the first person to swat the word gets to stay at the board. The next player from the opposing team comes to the board and play continues until everyone has had a chance to play. Kids love this game and beg for more. Easy, fast, and fun!

2. Vocabulary Flipbooks

This is a fun and easy way to review vocabulary words. Fold a paper in half "hot-dog" style. Cut the front flap for the number of words that you would like for the students to use and review. I usually have the students to write the vocabulary word on the front and draw a picture about the word. On the inside, students can define and use the word in a sentence.

3. Index card strips

This is another fun way and simple way to review vocabulary using index cards.  See this link for instructions.

4. Play Popcorn

This is another game that I have used for 20 plus years, and it is still a hit in the classroom. This is similar to Around the World. I simply divide my class into two teams, although they are not competing against one another. One person from each team stands. Call out a definition, and the first person to say the word remains standing. The other person sits down and the next person on that person's (the one who just sat down) team stands. Play continues around the room until everyone gets to play.

5. Technology

With technology today, there are so many fun ways to review and learn vocabulary with online games. Some of our classroom favorites include Kahoot, Quizziz, and Quizlet Live. I am in no way affiliated with any of these companies. I believe that each of these websites have paid versions, but I simply use the free versions which provide everything that I need for my students. I love all three, but I especially love how Quizlet live enables students to collaborate in order to determine the correct answers!

6. Graphic Organizers for Vocabulary

Graphic organizers can be a great way for students to think about and use vocabulary.  This set of  Vocabulary Graphic Organizers is designed to help your students think deeply about vocabulary. 14 vocabulary graphic organizers are included in this packet along with examples of completed g.o.'s. Students may use dictionaries, glossaries, or context clues to complete the pages as they review and think about vocabulary. This is also a great review for synonyms, antonyms, prefixes, suffixes, root words, parts of speech and more.

7. Will the Real Word Please Stand? 

Another simple vocabulary activity is Will the Real Word Please Stand. Give each student a vocabulary word written on an index card. Several students may have the same word if needed. Call out a definition. If a student has the index card with the correct vocabulary word, she should stand. Continue until all words are reviewed.

8. Word UP 

If you are planning a read-aloud, whether it is a picture book or a chapter book, before you read aloud the book, search for vocabulary words and write each one on an index card. Distribute the cards to students, and as the book is read aloud, students should hold up appropriate cards each time the vocabulary word is read.

9. Illustrate the Word

 Illustrating a vocabulary word not only incorporates creativity into a lesson, this also provides a visual learning element to the lesson in which students are more likely to remember the word. This is why I always incorporate illustrating in flipbooks and in many of my graphic organizers.

10. Character Trait of the Day 

I have found that the biggest struggle that my students have with character traits is that they are not familiar with the vocabulary (character traits), so I begin each day with a character trait of the day. I simply introduce a character trait and its definition, and when appropriate, provide an example from a recent read-aloud or from a popular book. Students then turn to a partner to use the word in a sentence or to describe a character in a book in which they have recently read. This is a quick and simple way to introduce this needed vocabulary.

Varying vocabulary instruction and activities will help keep lessons new, fresh, and exciting for your students. For more ideas AND A FREEBIE on creating a vocabulary-rich environment in your classroom, visit my blog post at Teaching Fourth.

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How to Create a Positive Classroom Culture

Creating a positive classroom culture is the first thing every classroom teacher should do the first week of school. But it shouldn't stop there. You should continue to work on class culture the entire school year. We are hear to offer some tips, advice, and activities for you to use in your classroom to build on what you started the first month of school.

Interest Inventory
If you have not yet given an interest inventory to get to know your students you should. We have a simple one that we have created that you can download here for free. It contains thirteen questions that will help you to know your students better. You may be surprised at some of the answers! Use the surveys throughout the year by incorporating students' interests. Your students will be excited to see that you are interested in what they like.
FREE Back to School Interest Inventory for Grades 3-5

Cooperative Challenges
Another way to build a positive classroom culture is through cooperative activities. One of our students' favorites is the Marshmallow Tower Trial. In this activity, students are given a box of toothpicks, 5 large marshmallows and a few handfuls of small marshmallows. Their task is to cooperatively build the tallest tower that they can in 10 minutes. They can not use anything except the materials provided. This is a great team-building activity that will show you how your students work together. We did this the first week of school and were pleased with how well the groups worked together. Of course, at the end, we gave them some marshmallows to eat too which probably helped.

We also do a "Save Fred" activity. Students come into the classroom with a situation in their group. Fred the gummy worm is stuck on top of his boat (clear plastic cup) and he has to get his life preserver (lifesaver) from under his boat with only the use of paper clips! Watch students use the scientific method as they try to solve the problem. Click here for a blog post to read more about it.

Whole Group Activity
After the first few weeks of school, the "honeymoon" period may be over and some students may need a reminder on what it means to be kind and respectful to each other. We have created a toothpaste activity that is sure to hit home with your students. Pull out a brand new tube of toothpaste and show your students. Tell them that you have a challenge for them. Tell the students that you want to see if they can squeeze all of the toothpaste out onto a piece of construction paper in one minute. You will have tons of hands shoot up for volunteers. Take one volunteer, set a timer, and let the student squirt it all out. You will have students cheering as the toothpaste exits onto the construction paper. When done, write the time on the board. Then pick two more volunteers, but don't tell them what it's for. When you have two volunteers, hand them each a toothpick. Tell them that their job is to put every last bit of toothpaste back into the tube. Watch as they try and try but find it impossible to do it. This is where the true learning takes place. Discuss with the class how saying something mean or hurtful is like squeezing out toothpaste-easy. But the damage left on the person who was the target will never be complete again. Those unkind words will never be fully replaced. This is a powerful lesson. If you would like step by step directions for this, you can find it here.
Classroom Management Toothpaste Activity

Be Prompt
When issues arise, address the problems right away. We have found that contacting parents that first month of school can make all the difference. If behaviors are ignored, they will just continue to surface and grow throughout the school year. If you want to have a positive classroom culture, you cannot let a few students' behaviors ruin that for the rest of the class. Involving the parents is key to letting those students know that they need to fix their behavior.

Culturally Responsive Teaching 
In order to have a culture of respect, you must value diversity in your classroom. We are not only taking about racial, physical and cultural differences, but learning styles as well. It is crucial that your teaching style incorporates a wide variety of methods to reach all of your learners. We have created 25 culturally responsive teaching activity cards that will engage your students in many different ways. We use these all the time and students respond well to the wide variety of learning methods. You can find them here.

Culturally Responsive Teaching Activity Cards

You are the key to continuing a positive culture in your classroom. Make sure to stop and evaluate your current atmosphere in your classroom and use some of the above tips, advice, or activities to help make it an environment that students can thrive and excel in.

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Don't Skip Whole Group Instruction

Teaching using a guided math model does not mean you have to say good-bye to whole-group instruction. In fact, it's very important to start with a mini-lesson before you begin your small groups/math centers.

Here are some reasons why:
> You set a purpose for the day. Students will know the learning goal and will stay on task.
> You help build background knowledge. You can introduce vocabulary words students will interact with during their math centers.
> You can quickly see how well students have mastered the concept and adjust math groups as needed.

Let me share with you 4 ways you can start your math workshop block. This whole-group instruction should be no longer than 15 minutes. 

It is very important that you teach math vocabulary to your students. Not only will they see these words in math problems, but you should expect students to use these math words as they explain how they solve their math problems. 

Our math text book has vocabulary cards for students to use. If your textbook doesn't have this, you can have students create vocabulary flash cards using index cards. Students can also use part of their interactive math notebook to keep a list of math vocabulary words by topic. 

Other resources: has a wonderful illustrated vocabulary website. (Click here to view

Using Number Talks with students is a way for students to build mental math strategies. Number Talks are math warm up problems where students are asked to explain how they solved the problem in their head. Students are not to use pen and paper. It is the teacher's job to write down student thinking and guide students to use the strategies that are most efficient. 

Where can you get these math problems from? Some textbooks come with a daily math warm up problem you can use. You can also look through the practice problems from the day and pick a couple to complete before you start your guided math groups.

Other resources: is a math treasure that you will find very helpful. Click here to visit.

We are very comfortable thinking aloud as we read a story in order to show students how reading is an active process. Yet, we don't spend much time thinking aloud as we solve math problems. Teachers need to model the process that goes into solving a math problem. 

Teachers don't always have to do the thinking aloud. You can break up your class into groups of about 5 students. They solve the word problem together, and then you pick a couple of groups to share their thinking process. 

You can use word problems from your math textbook. I am also linking my math trifolds below. They are available for grades first, second, third, fourth, and fifth


I love technology, but sometimes it can be a big waste of time if you don't show students exactly what to do. You can use your 15 minutes of whole-group instruction to introduce and practice new technology activities. 

There are two main computer activities that we focus on in my classroom. My school bought each student an math subscription. You can show students which skills you want them to focus on and practice a few before they complete the assignment on their own.

I have recently created paperless math centers for students to complete during math workshop. These are digital, interactive math activities that are aligned to the common core standards. Teachers can easily assign these resources using Google Classroom or Microsoft 365. Below are links to the growing bundles for grades third, fourth, and fifth.


I hope you have found these suggestions helpful :)

Don't skip whole group instruction when using a guided math workshop model. Four example whole group instruction activities.

5 Things to Do While Your Students Are Writing Independently

When your students are writing, how can you make the most of your time? Here are five ideas to impact your student writers.You've just finished teaching a writing mini-lesson to your class, and now you send them back to their seats to dive back into the drafts they've been working on this week.

You look at the clock.

You smile.

You've actually managed to keep your mini-lesson relatively "mini" today, which means your class has a nice chunk of time to write independently. You walk over to your desk and take a swig of your room-temperature coffee to celebrate the moment. Ahhhhh.

Now what.

What are you going to do?

It's easy to let this time slip away drinking room-temperature coffee "supervising." But you have this nagging desire to... well, teach. So how can you make a difference? How can you use this time, be it twenty-five minutes or five, to help students become better writers?

Here are five ways: 


Holding one-to-one writing conferences is powerful and a classic component to any writer's workshop model. Whether you keep a strict schedule and extensive records, or use a simple chart like the one started below, when you meet with an individual student about their writing, those focused couple of minutes can directly help that student become a better writer.

I encourage you to meet students at their workplace to hold these writing conferences, as opposed to calling students back to a table where you remain. When you are the one who moves to the student, it has a few advantages. First, you are in control of transition time. If you want to  take a moment to record some notes, you can, but you are not waiting on any student to dilly-dally their way back to you.

Second, when you visit a student at his/her desk, you are the guest. I always felt like this dynamic gave the student just a tick more confidence than when he/she came into "my territory." And I want the student to feel confident and open about his/her writing. Though I will coach and suggest and offer guidance, I want the student to remain the decision-maker.

And third, when you confer at a student's desk, the students sitting nearby receive some "second-hand coaching," just by being there, giving you a little extra bang for your buck.

You can learn all the ins and outs of having successful writing conferences with all my forms (including the one above) on my blog HERE.


Especially if you've asked the class to try out the skill or strategy from your mini-lesson, doing a "quick-check" is a practical way to get a pulse of how well students were able to apply the new technique to their own writing.

Let's say your mini-lesson was about using transition words to help your writing flow. And you ended the lesson with, "Okay boys and girls, I want you to try using a few transition words today while you're writing." After students have had some time to write, interrupt the class and say, "Please put a star in the margin next to a transition word you used today. I'm coming around to check. I'm so excited to see them all."

Then take a marker and work your way around the room. I like to put a check mark in students' notebook to show I've seen their example. These aren't conferences. You want to get around to everyone in just 3-4 minutes. You're going to want to stop and help or coach some students, but instead, just make a list of students that could use some reteaching.

Sometimes the skill/strategy doesn't lend itself to marking a single word. You can also teach students how to put a bracket around a section of their draft that best shows their attempt at the skill/strategy... maybe it's a sentence or paragraph. This might take you longer to check through them, and you might want to have students stack their open notebooks (open to the page with their bracketed section) to look through after school.


Use patterns you notice from your writing conferences, or the list you made from a quick-check, to pull a strategy group.

Maybe you have a list of five students from yesterday's quick-check on transition words who could use some re-teaching. So today, while the class is writing independently, you pull these five students back to you with their writer's notebooks and you review the lesson again, and have them try it out right there with you.

Use strategy groups not just for reteaching and review, but also to push and enrich writers who are ready to make another jump.

With a strategy group, you get a lot of bang for your buck: you already know these specific kids need this specific instruction, and you're doing so in a group rather than one on one, thereby making efficient use of your time.


On certain days, try pulling three to four students back to a common table where you are sitting. Have them go about their writing with you nearby. These students could be some of your struggling writers, but they don't have to be. I actually prefer to bring back a mix of writers. (You'll see why in a moment.) In this set-up, you aren't there to teach a specific lesson (like a strategy group). You are there more to guide and coach individuals as needed.

I like to check in with each of the students at the table individually, getting a sense of what they are working on and offering guidance (similar to mini writing conferences), but as I'm doing so, I'm trying to find connections to the other writers I've brought back to the table. After this quick round of checking in, which doesn't last more than a few minutes, I then start initiating conversations between writers... "Hey Sarah, I noticed Robby here is working on his lead. He's trying to get the reader's attention a little better. Can you show him how you did yours? Robby, listen to Sarah for a minute." Or, "Hey Teddy, Max here has some dialogue going on with his characters. Will you show him that part in your story where you have some dialogue but also remembered to still explain what's happening around the characters?"

When you have a group of writers at hand, you can use them to facilitate these valuable interactions.


Having a couple of students share a strong example of a skill/strategy the class is practicing can be a productive way to wrap up your writing block. In order to to this, be proactive during students' independent writing time: search out and find a few of these examples and mark them with a certain symbol, maybe a little speech bubble in the margin of their notebooks, with a bracket around the section to share. As you look, be sure to gather a sense of the overall success the class had applying the skill/strategy (or combine with a more official quick-check).

With a couple of minutes left, have the marked students share with the class just the small section that applies the skill/strategy.

Often when we ask the class if anyone would like to share their writing, it's like opening a whole can of worms that is unfocused and lasts too long. With this technique, you get a productive couple of minutes that helps tie straight back to the focus of the day's lesson.

*   *   *

One of the most common issues that can prevent you from using independent writing time to really make a difference with your student writers is this sentence... "Teacher, I don't know what to write about." These story starters can eliminate that issue. They use engaging prompts paired with compelling photos. And they are anything but ordinary. Try a set for free HERE, or check out my monthly sets HERE.

For more reading and writing ideas, come visit me at my blog, The Thinker Builder. And while you're there, be sure to sign up for my FREE newsletter, and receive a mini-pack of my response pages as my gift to you!

Teaching about Themes in Literature

Let's face it... teaching about themes in literature is hard! It's so difficult, in fact, that teachers don't seem to have a unified approach to teaching it. If you do a quick search on Pinterest, you will soon realize that there seems to be two approaches. Some teachers teach their students that the thme should be stated in one word (honesty, friendship, etc.), while other teachers stress that the theme should be stated in a complete sentence.

I struggled with this for years, constantly second guessing whether I was teaching it "right". I finally decided that I needed to choose an approach and be consistent. I chose to embrace the "complete sentence" philosophy because it appeared to best match my state's standards. 

Last year, I ran across this blog post by Bonnie of Presto Plans that made me feel more confident in my decision... but it also challenged my thinking a bit! I realized that I was guilty of confusing the MORAL of the story with the THEME at times. Bonnie has a fabulous chart that illustrates the differences between main ideamoral, topic, and theme. These words are often confused when teaching students about themes in literature. 

Now that you know a little about my "journey" with teaching theme, let me share a few of my favorite tips and activities for teaching upper elementary students about themes in literature!

Are you teaching upper elementary students how to identify the theme of a piece of literature? This blog post features FREE posters, an anchor chart idea, and five helpful tips!

1.  Use the cupcake analogy.

I use a PowerPoint lesson to introduce students to this analogy on Day 1 of my theme unit, and refer to it constantly. My students have always responded extremely well to it!
Teach your students how to identify themes in literature with the cupcake analogy! This blog post contains FREE posters, an anchor chart idea, and five helpful tips!

2.  Use a guided question to help students get started. 

This guided question is the one that I have found works best: 
"What does the author hope the reader realizes after finishing this story?"
Also, allowing students to brainstorm the answer to this question with a partner can be extremely helpful when this topic is first introduced.

3.  Search out lots of examples of theme statements.

Some students struggle with writing theme statements because they tend to be a bit abstract. Therefore, it's important to read many theme statements with students in order to get a "feel" for their abstract nature. Click on the following images to download these free posters
Themes in Literature... TWO FREE Posters full of common themes!    Themes in Literature... TWO FREE Posters full of common themes!    
Notice that the word "selfishness" is underlined on the first poster. I point out to my students that any number of negative traits can be written in place of "selfishness". Therefore, these are a few more theme possibilities:
  • Dishonesty can lead to negative consequences.
  • Laziness can lead to negative consequences.
  • Rude behavior can lead to negative consequences.

4.  Read aloud picture books, and work together as a class to identify the themes hidden within the books.

My go-to author for this concept is Patricia Polacco! Her books are so beautifully written, and always contain a theme that is relatively easy to pick out!
When teaching students how to identify themes in literature, be sure to use Patricia Polacco's books! This blog post contains many tips for teaching theme.

An A From Miss Keller: Facing challenges can help you grow.
                                        Challenges can be overcome with hard work and patience.
                                         Value your friendships.
My Rotten Red-Headed Older Brother: Families face adversity together.
                                                                Family members are there for you when life gets messy.
Mrs. Katz and Tush- Friendship can come in forms you might not expect.

5.  Create a tool for future reference.

Theme is a topic that you will be referring to throughout your school year. If you're like most upper elementary teachers, when you finish reading a book with students, you'll take a moment to decipher the book's theme(s). Therefore, it is helpful for many students to have some sort of tool they can reference. My favorite tools that allow for future reference are anchor charts and interactive notebook entries. Below, you will see my theme anchor chart.
Theme Anchor Chart, plus tips on teaching students how to identify themes in literature. FREE posters, too!

Click on this image to hop over to my blog and download this free interactive notebook entry.

Is teaching students to identify the theme of a piece of literature one of your yearly objectives? If so, be sure to check out my THEMES BUNDLE! It even contains my lesson plans that shows how I have organized this particular unit for my own students.
Teach your students how to identify themes in literature with the cupcake analogy! This bundle contains several ready-to-go resources for upper elementary students!

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Are you teaching upper elementary students how to identify the theme of a piece of literature? This blog post features FREE posters, an anchor chart idea, and five helpful tips!

Our Favorite Resources For the New School Year

Here on the Upper Elementary Snapshots blog, we're always working hard to bring you the best teaching ideas and resources for upper elementary! This post is all about our most highly-rated resources for the school year. Read more about us here, and then check out our recommended resources below!

Classroom Management & Growth Mindset

When you're starting a new school year, classroom management is always on your mind! We have some wonderful resources to help your students grow into hard workers this year!

As a classroom teacher you are under constant scrutiny by administrators, parents, and the general public. How you manage your classroom impacts not only your students' academic growth and happiness, but also your teacher evaluations and in many cases your pay and job security.

A poorly managed classroom results in avoidable behavior problems, decreased motivation, general feelings of stress and uneasiness and lost time on task. Investing the time to sharpen your classroom management skills, implement strategies and tools to streamline management tasks and developing routines and strategies to ensure your classroom "runs itself" will be greatly rewarded in countless ways. The CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT BUNDLE is jam-packed with ideas, tools and resources to make you a highly-effective teacher! 

I like to start the year with discussions about the importance of having a growth mindset because it sets a positive tone for the new school year. I also like to be able to quickly refer back to growth mindset concepts at various points during the school year, like when we begin a new unit that is particularly challenging. 

This 85-slide PowerPoint is designed to introduce your students to 5 major components of growth mindset beliefs. Along with the PowerPoint, it contains lesson plans for 5 days, directions on how to split the PowerPoint into 5 lessons, PowerPoint companions, and 5 worksheets your students can complete each day after going through the PowerPoint slides.

Customize the perfect agenda for your students this school year! The One Stop Student Binder will teach students the important skill of staying organized all year long. Includes weekly agendas, calendars, schedules, progress sheets, data tracking and more.

With this purchase, you will get FREE updates for LIFE!!! This student binder is currently dated through July 2018. As I update this product each year, or anytime in between, you will be notified, and be able to get all the updates for FREE! That means that this student binder can be used from year-to-year without ever purchasing a new one!

English Language Arts

Looking for help turning your students into quality readers and writers this year? We have ELA resources that are engaging and easy to implement!

The Complete Guide to Writing is a resource that  engages students in fun, meaningful writing prompts while teaching them the organization of these 5 types of writing. 

Teach Opinion, Informational, Explanatory, Personal Narrative, and Creative Narrative writing like a pro with this resource! Each unit includes teacher examples and all printable student organizers. Print out the pages you need, and you're all set to teach your students how to write incredible, well organized essays! This is great for 4th & 5th grade teachers that want to easily teach their students the writing process without having to spend hours planning each week.

It seems like every conversation I overhear my students having starts with, “Would you rather...”! I remember having the same conversations with my friends when I was in school! So, why not use conversations that students are already having and apply them to critical thinking, opinion writing, and collaborative discussions! 

This resource includes 16 Would You Rather prompts and comes in two formats: DIGITAL and PRINTABLE! Editable versions of each are also included!

These activities can be used in a variety of ways. They are a perfect way to get students interacting and getting to know each other. Students ponder each option, then write about and defend their choices. Next, students discuss their choices and reasoning, and write a final reflection. Students can discuss in pairs, small groups, or as a whole-class!

Starting the year with writing and continuing throughout the year is so important for our students. With this Month by Month Writing Prompts, Posters, and Graphic Organizers Bundle you are certain to keep your students motivated to write the entire year! Your students will enjoy the fun writing prompts inspired by unusual and offbeat holidays as well as traditional holidays. For each writing prompt there is a graphic organizer that can help your students learn how to plan and organize their writing. Colorful writing posters can be used to decorate your bulletin boards, walls, and writing prompt cards for each prompt will fit perfectly in any writing center.

This Step-By-Step SENTENCE STRUCTURE AND PARAGRAPH WRITING UNIT unit is loaded with teaching tools to give your students the foundation they need for sentence structure and how to form a strong paragraph! It is Common Core aligned with the CCSS listed on each anchor chart. You will find 116 pages in the teacher resource (including cover sheets and answer keys) and 67 pages in the student resource.

These 20 Reading Games for 4th/5th graders target key reading skills and are perfect for centers, for whole class, or for test prep. There are 10 Fiction Games and 10 Nonfiction Reading Games, which are engaging for students but very low prep, and easy to manage for the busy teacher.

Doodle notes present your students with a meaningful and engaging activity that they will love. Doodle notetaking activates verbal and visual modalities to capture concepts. The whole brain is absorbed in hearing, synthesizing, and retaining ideas. This high level of engagement not only helps with retention of the content, but it also leaves little room for distraction.

Critical Thinking & Innovation

It's difficult to incorporate 21st century competencies into your already jam-packed lessons! Check out our recommendations for incorporating creativity and innovation in the classroom.

Genius Hour is a time set aside during the school day for students to research something they are passionate about. By implementing this during the first month of school, your students become more engaged in learning and are excited to come to school each day to work on their projects. Give Genius Hour a try in your classrooms and watch student learning explode!

Put some meaningful morning work into your daily routine with these "Top 3 List" activities! Get students discussing engaging topics, creating lists, defending their choices, and analyzing their own and others' decisions, all in a clever format with little prep on your part. It's a great way to warm-up students' brains and get the morning started in a fun yet purposeful way. 

Geometrocity is a project based learning activity where students will take their geometry skills and design their own city. This multi-tiered activity allows for immediate differentiation because of the size, and students may complete parts or the entire project based on your choosing. This project doesn’t just focus on math skills, as there are components of social studies (mapping skills), writing, problem solving and comprehension skills too.

Students will be creating a city that uses 2D and 3D, practicing both plane and solid geometry. This project allows for students to practice and apply learned skills in geometry while problem solving and making decisions based on their own knowledge, creativity, and imagination. Students will utilize many types of geometric concepts such as nets to create buildings and structures, designing parts of a city with shapes, lines, angles, and incorporating multiple skills at the same time to reach their objectives.


Teaching math concepts in the upper grades can be a real challenge! These resources will help you get your students excited about learning math!

Fact fluency is so important because it frees our students up to better understand other math concepts like division. Many kids come to the upper grades without knowing their basic facts and what better way to have them practice but through games and educational play. This bundle is great because each pack contains the same 3 games for each fact. Once kids know how to play them, they can practice with any of the facts. Start the school year right, practicing multiplication facts.

Have you ever been told that you need to be implementing RTI for math? Do you know where to start? This is the reason I created the Standards based progress monitoring. Providing evidence of students learning is crucial. Progress monitoring will allow you to document student growth and make sure that the interventions that you administer are working. Everything you need to assess and track students is provided here.

Each of the Common Core Standards contain A LOT of little pieces. I broke these down into the pieces that my students needed to master in order to master the entire standard.

This resource is available for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade!

Helping students realize that not all work comes easily is so important--so this collection of problems is geared toward helping them realize that struggling is ok, and working together can lead to new understanding, even when the answer isn't immediately evident.

What do you get? I start this unit with a number of lesson ideas and suggestions for how to get your students more engaged and self-reliant with their problem solving. I include photos from my classroom, learning posters that can be turned into anchor charts, rubrics, checklists, and more.

But what is really the heart of the unit is the 24 high level problems that will really test your students' ability to apply these new problem solving skills. Some of the problems have many solutions. Others are tricky to read and interpret. Others require them to simply "dig in" and start guessing and checking!

These math sorts are engaging activities that encourage math talk and are great for centers. Students explain how they sort their cards and build strong math concepts as they create cards of their own. Please view preview for more information and 7 FREE sorts.

What is Included?
- 80 sorts that review third grade math standards.
- Student Directions for Day 1 and Day 2 Activities
- Math Sorts Binder - Pages that list all math sorts, standard, topic, and small group lesson plan page for notes
- Dividers for Notebook - Students use these dividers to keep track of when they complete each math sort. The learning goals are also on each divider.
- An edited one sort per page version

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