Turn Your Education Beliefs into Action

Turn Your Education Beliefs into Action

Summer is the perfect time to reflect on your education beliefs. This is the time we dream and plan for the coming year. Having a strong belief system in place ensures your plans don’t go astray.

Education Beliefs


Why don’t you take the challenge with me! 

Educational beliefs to action challenge


Taking time to identify your education beliefs pays off huge dividends at the end of the day. These beliefs are a starting point as you plan or reflect on past lessons. They are my “go to” when I need to step back and adjust or fine tune lessons. Beliefs guide the vision we share for our students.

I want to share my beliefs with you.  

My education beliefs


Believe in your students.

Being an advocate for your students is one of the most important roles teachers play.  An advocate goes beyond collaborating with professionals to ensure rights and safety.  As classroom teachers, we advocate for our students by ensuring they reach their full potential right in our classrooms.  We believe in students and find ways for them to be successful based on their individual needs. We don’t set limits on what our students can learn and do, but believe in their potential.  My education beliefs start with this key point:

quote education beliefs 2

This belief in action:


Be sure to check out the other education beliefs teachers like you and I share.  The next link in this series is from Lisa.  Just click on her button below! 



Believing in my students leads me into my other education beliefs.  What are your education beliefs?  Which one do you feel most strongly about?  I’d love to hear from you!




The Wonders of Science

Two little girls with magnifying glass outdoors in the day time

For the past 8 years I was a reading intervention teacher, but now that I’m back in my own full time classroom, I’m loving all the core curriculum I missed out on! Let me tell you…my kids LOVE Science! Nothing excites them as much as seeing me set up with hands on materials for a science lesson. Well, maybe except for cupcakes and party favors!

Science quote

This is from a post I wrote on another blog when we were studying matter. I thought I would share it here today.  The kids loved this simple and CHEAP experiment we did that clearly illustrated the concept of water surface tension. We had been reading about the skin, or surface tension of water, in language arts. I could tell they didn’t grasp the concept. So a quick Google break netted this gem. Basically all you need is some water, a container, black pepper and some dish soap. All things we had access to that day. Since I always forget to take pictures, I recreated the experiment at home so you would have a visual. 

Water surface tension  Step 1. Materials needed. Step two Step 2. Add pepper to the water. Be sure the water is still.
Step 3 dip soapy toothpick into the center of the water filled container.


What you can’t tell by the pictures is how dramatic this experiment is, even though it is so simple. The pepper races to the edge of the bowl. One thing I did learn by doing this at home, is that the restaurant style pepper with the larger grains, is going to allow some of the pepper to sink. Using regular style pepper is best to demonstrate how the pepper floats on the surface.

Free Science Experiment

Click to download


I’m leaving you with your own downloadable copy of the experiment, as well as several response sheets your students can use as part of the scientific process or within your ELA block. You can click the experiment, or {HERE}, to download your copy. I hope your class enjoys this as much as mine did!

Until next time!



Reading and Role Playing

Reading and Role Playing

As part of my PD this summer I’m joining The Sunny Side of Second Grade and some other teacher bloggers in a book study.  I’ll be sharing Unit 7: Reading and Role Playing from Lucy Caulkins’ book,  A Curricular Plan For The Reading Workshop Grade 2

Lucy Caulkins Book Study

Click the image above to be taken to the beginning of our book study.


Unit 7 Lucy Caulkins

The author recommends spring {April/May} as the perfect time for engaging our young readers and writers through tales that so easily spark the imagination. This unit is perfect for beating the winter blues through engaging activities that invite readers and writers to delve deeply into the text.  It is the perfect time to bring witches, princesses and fairies into the classroom.

How does this help my students master the standards?

It is natural to seek answers to this question.  Through teacher modeling and practice, students will develop a love of role play.  To bring richness to their acting they will  delve deeper into the text to infer character motives and purpose. Students will learn to question, discuss, understand point of view, and develop retelling skills. 

Tim Rasinski, well known for his work on reading fluency, has opened our eyes to the need of developing fluency as an aid to comprehension.  We know students in second grade need to progress from reading 30 to 50 w.p.m. in short chunks, to more fluent readers who read in phrases of 70 to 100 w.p.m. by the end of second grade. Building fluency happens naturally through role playing, reader’s theater, and other forms of acting out text.  Speed, as well as expression and prosody will blossom with these activities.



Reading and Role Playing to build fluency

 As you will notice, there are plenty of opportunities throughout this unit to build fluency:

  • Teacher modeling
  • independent reading for a purpose
  • partner re-reading
  • expressive reading
  • readers theater

How do I find the time?

Caulkins suggests daily opportunities to allow students to think about and discuss text. By forming partner and reading club groups students can spend 5 to 10 minutes daily engaging in these activities.  This still allows plenty of time for independent reading.  Students will be more engaged during independent reading because they are looking to contribute to the group and they have group accountability.  This time supports the speaking and listening standards common in many states.

Readers Becoming Actors

Caulkins suggests starting this unit by comparing well known read alouds/stories with their cartoon/animated counterparts.  Share in the marvel with your students as they understand how characters come to life through expression and gestures. Model with a well known book by using expression, gestures, and voice changes.  Invite students to join you as they are sitting on the rug.  

Think, Pair, Share Activities

  • What is the character thinking in his head?
  • Say the character’s thoughts aloud to your partner.
  • Why did the characters act the way they did?
  • What can we learn from the author’s lesson?
  • What was the moral of the fable?

Invite students to step into a character’s shoes.  Model noticing and interpreting details that offer information about the character.  Use anchor charts to chart character traits and teach vocabulary that allows students to express character traits more accurately, i.e., frustrated instead of simply mad.  

Character Traits

Image from Scholastic.com. Click the image to view the site.

Using post its will help students mark text that helps them analyze characters.  Students can discuss and reread marked places with their partners.  The texts in this unit usually have exaggerated character types.  Children will often recognize these tales have similar characters with similar traits.  This aids in building understanding of plot structure, author’s purpose, theme and morals.  Caulkins recommends closing the unit by letting the students read and role play or perform a favorite tale. 

For more resources on readers theater, check out my pinterest board below!
Follow Sebrina Burke’s board Readers Theater on Pinterest.
Be sure to check back on July 17 for the final post in this series: Unit 8 & Conclusion by The Sunny Side of Second Grade!  Just click the image below!



Preparing for Parent Communication

I blogged over at Classroom Tested Resources this week, but thought I would share the post here also.  I feel parent communication is vital. This summer I have taken time to reflect on ways to establish a solid connection with my families. Research and experience have proven this an invaluable way to support our students emotionally and academically.

Parents often feel alienated from schools.  They may have had a bad experience while they were in school, or an unfortunate school based experience with their own child.  By opening our classroom doors and welcoming families, we gain valuable allies.  It is important to provide a method of two-way communication.  This communication is not the school informing the parent, rather is is an ongoing communication in which both parties share valuable information.

One way to build this relationship is through daily communication with families.  This summer I decided to ditch the ragged, torn, and dirty take home folders.  I am going to put together binders for each student.  Binders will be more durable, organized, and provide multiple ways for daily communication.

Below are the items I used, minus the page protectors and a one inch binder.

I am using a one inch binder that will be labeled for each individual student.  I found a pack of 8, one inch, white binders for $10.00 at my local Sams Club.  I chose these Avery page tabs because they were colorful, had a large space for labeling, and they are made of a heavy plastic.  I am only using two per child.  I found all of the materials, even the individual white binders, at Wal-Mart.

I decided to give it a cute acronym, H.O.T.  Which stands for Home Organizational Tool.  These binders should last the entire year and keep my students and families organized throughout the year.

Let’s look inside to see what is included!


I like to use Vertex Calendars for free calendars, the excel version is editable.  You can also find cute ones through Teachers Pay Teachers.  You can find this free one by The 2 Teaching Divas by clicking HERE.

You can grab a set of editable binder covers and spines in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. Currently they are free!  Simply click {HERE}.

I’d love to hear ways you provide parent communication!


July Pick 3 Tips for Summer

There’s nothing like summer break for relaxing and spending quality time with your family. So kick back, and take a look at some of the pins I found for this summer!

July Pinterest Slide


July Slide1


After a few days of relaxing I know I need to start organizing and cleaning.  I want to share with you a great cleaning tip that I KNOW works!

dawn and vinegar cleaning solution

This homemade cleaning solution is WONDERFUL!  No more toxic fumes or expensive cleaners.  You only need dawn, vinegar, and a spray bottle.  I have been using this solution to clean my showers and sinks for a year now and love it.  You can find the directions on Honey Bee Hive.   I enjoy finding healthy, natural ways to clean, even though I am NOT the queen of cleaning by any means!

Pinterest Pick 3 July

One of my favorite summer treats is the time to indulge in reading.  I like to continue reading educational blogs and research materials, but I relish the chance to get into some great fiction.  I happened upon a site chock full of shelving solutions for all those great books.

Pinterest Pick 3 July

What a cozy place to read on a rainy day!  Check out Interior Design 2014 for 40 ideas for book storage.

I am currently reading an amazing book written by Charles Martin called “When Crickets Cry.”  I am thoroughly enjoying this tale of the heart. This is the synopsis on Amazon:

A man with a painful past. A child with a doubtful future. And a shared journey toward healing for both their hearts.

It begins on the shaded town square in a sleepy Southern town. A spirited seven-year-old has a brisk business at her lemonade stand. But the little girl’s pretty yellow dress can’t quite hide the ugly scar on her chest.

Her latest customer, a bearded stranger, drains his cup and heads to his car, his mind on a boat he’s restoring at a nearby lake. The stranger understands more about the scar than he wants to admit. And the beat-up bread truck careening around the corner with its radio blaring is about to change the trajectory of both their lives.

Before it’s over, they’ll both know there are painful reasons why crickets cry . . . and that miracles lurk around unexpected corners.

Find it on Amazon by clicking the book image.

Pinterest Pick 3 July 3


July 4th, a celebration of our Great Nation’s Independence is right around the corner.  Bring in some patriotic colors with nutritious snacks featured in these 2 pins.


Click the image to visit Family Fresh Meals for the directions.


red white and blue snacks 2

Red white and blueberry yogurt Popsicles. Click the image for directions on The View from Great Island

I hope you found some summer inspiration.  Be sure to visit the participating blogs for more summer treats!


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