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Classroom Community Culture

Shout Out!

March 30, 2017

Doesn’t it feel SO good to be shouted out for doing something amazing? Your mood instantly improves and you feel yourself smiling from ear to ear. What better way to get the children to call out other students for having outstanding behavior than to create a Shout Out display. The idea of celebrating other students will become second nature for your kiddos. This can look like a million different things. Here is how it looks in our classroom:

 Take Fun Pictures

Take pictures of the students pretending to yell or shout! This makes the display way more entertaining. It’s so funny to see how each child interprets the idea of “shouting out!” Let them be a creative as possible. Our students held their hands to their mouth and said the word, “shout out” as I snapped their picture.

 Create a Fun Display

Pick a space in the classroom or hallway where the display will be seen ALL THE TIME! You want to show off this space and let your students know how proud you are of them for lifting up their classmates. This could look like a bulletin board, a classroom door, etc. The possibilities are endless. Pick a theme, such as “Kindness is Cool.” In our class, the classroom door has a fun background and seven page protectors. We slip the Shout Out template and a picture of the child into the page protector to be seen by all.

 Switch It Up

Switch out the shout outs and students frequently. The more you switch, the more chances you have to celebrate the positive. There can be rules to how often you switch, who can give a shout out, etc. Make it a huge deal to be celebrated on the wall!

Classroom Community Creativity Culture Morale Reading

Get Your Groove On

March 29, 2017

Flowing Through Fluency

There is a movement happening in classrooms right now- a music and movement movement. As a dancer and supporter of all things performing arts- I LOVE it! Educators really desire to connect to our students on a personal level and establish good relationships by simply relating to our kiddos. In Tennessee, teachers also have a law that requires students to get at least 90 minutes of physical activity per week. An hour is actually the preferred amount of time that students should be involved in movement per day based on the researched correlations between students’ positive academic performance and exercise.

As a practitioner, you get it. Kids become restless with too much sitting and lecturing. They just do not pay attention to the lessons or get off task. You may have even been guilty of this yourself. Just think about your last faculty meeting. The human body craves movement! Adding kinesthetic aspects to your lessons will further tap into students’ memory and help them better store the information you are trying to convey. You may even reach some of your reluctant learners as well when you begin to get your groove on in the classroom!

 The weather can sometimes make it more difficult to get as much exercise outside with your students. However, there are easy ways to add some movement into you reading routines and transitions. Let’s start with an easy topic for adding music and movement: fluency! Fluency is my favorite aspect of reading and one that rarely gets enough practice in the regular classroom setting.

Make class fluency folders and change out what you are practicing almost weekly or as soon as your students have mastered the passage you are using so they do not get bored. Even my first graders could help with the management of updating the folders by sliding new pages to practice into clear page protectors when needed. Print out students’ favorite songs and sing them while reading the lyrics. Just make certain the songs are school friendly! Or you can always do what the teachers did in the first two videos I linked below: make up your own class song. Add poetry to your fluency folders and have students help create appropriate movements to accompany the poems. Students can even add a mini performance time to the weekly classroom routines. Dr. Timothy Raskinski, the fluency researcher guru, says that kids need authentic reasons to want to practice reading, and a classroom performance time provides just that! In my classroom, I offered performing fluency passages on a volunteer basis as not to force students who may be uncomfortable reading in front of their peers. Once it caught on, even my shy students were wanting to read and perform in front of the class. With fluency folders, struggling readers have had time to practice the passages (I let my students take these folders home nightly) so they are less afraid of messing up in front of their peers. This can really boost their confidence to have their friends cheer them on and support their reading.

Here are my two favorite music and movement videos for introducing the concept of fluency to students:

Give music and movement a moment in your classroom today!

Classroom Community Classroom Management Culture

Teamwork is Dreamwork

March 27, 2017

Working as a team can be hard. There are always the students who do the right thing. On the other hand, there are always those students who seem to know exactly what to do to push your buttons and do the opposite of what you’ve asked. Teamwork can be a tricky concept for students to grasp. At a young age, children are learning to cooperate and share with their friends. Creating a whole class reward system can really invest those students in “getting on the team” and helping to work together towards a common goal. Here are a few ideas:

Brownie Points

Place a real cookie sheet on the board or somewhere visible in the classroom. Create fake brownies using brown construction paper, etc. Laminate and place magnets on the back. Show the students what it looks like and sounds like to earn a brownie. Give examples so students have clear expectations of how they can show teamwork. Each time the entire class works together and follows directions, place a brownie on the tray! Celebrate! Make it a huge deal! Let them know how proud you are to see them working together! Once you fill the tray, think of a fun reward the students can earn. To make it more personal, have the students come up with their own appropriate rewards to go in the bank of possibilities.

100% Jar

In our class, we have a 100% jar. We bought tiny basketballs and a miniature hoop. Each time the students are displaying teamwork, the class earns a “slam dunk.” Once the hoop is full, we earn a playground party! We let the students choose what their reward will be. We have clear expectations of what it looks like to show teamwork and how they can earn basketballs!

Mr. Potato Head

Just like the “Brownie Points,” you can build a Mr. Potato Head, earning pieces along the way. Tell the students what it takes to earn a piece. Once you have added every piece to Mr. Potato Head, your students earn a reward! It’s up to you if you want the system to be both positive and negative. You can take pieces away for students who display un-sportsman like conduct in the classroom. Those friends who did the right thing will be motivated to help those students step it up and show some teamwork.

Art Creativity Culture

Bridging the Gap between Ancient & Modern Art

March 19, 2017

Bridging the Gap between Ancient & Modern Art.

If you’ve ever taken a look at the sixth grade Social Studies standards it is almost identical to the progression of major art periods throughout Art History. Beginning with the Stone Age, Mesopotamia, Egyptian history, Greek and Hellenistic, and so on. It is much easier for me to collaborate and work with our sixth grade Social Studies teacher on this.

The Stone Age

When introducing a graffiti art lesson, I always begin with the stone age and major events that happened during this time to shape how the world is today. It’s funny to see the expressions on the students faces when teaching them about how the world used to be so much different. There hasn’t always been technology, social media, organized sport and activities, or shopping malls to capture their attention. However, there was one thing that everyone could participate in when it came to being creative, cave art. Cave art paintings were very simple drawings that used heavy earth tones but told a story. The symbolism in each piece was very important because it captured a piece of history during the Stone Age; just like graffiti art today.

TAG! You’re It!

Graffiti artist then and now captures various issues and events throughout history that have made an impact on society. Banksy is one of the most famous graffiti artists in the modern art world today. One thing every graffiti artist does is create a TAG.  A TAG is your signature for your art, your stamp on the world, proving you are a skilled artist. With my sixth grade students, I presented information that allowed them to discuss, with groups, the history of cave art, graffiti art, the similarities and differences, and the meaning of vandalism and legality with graffiti today. I provided each student with various art making materials and a plethora of fonts they could use for inspiration showing me their name, initials, or a nickname and symbols that represented them as a person. Once I gave the students those guidelines, I turned them loose for three 45-minute class periods and they created beautiful TAGS that displayed their understanding of the concept successfully.



Classroom Community Culture

I Don’t Want To Hear It!

March 18, 2017

I can’t tell you how many times a day I say, “I don’t want to hear it!” When a student comes up to you with their eyebrows raised, talking a mile a minute, you know exactly what they are about to do: tattle! Not only is this extremely annoying (being 100% honest), but it isn’t helping the child to solve their own problems. In the beginning of the year, we teach the children what a TATTLE is. A tattle is okay if somebody is hurt or if the situation is dangerous. A tattle is NOT okay if you can solve it by yourself. Here are a few ideas to help eliminate those tattle tongues in your classroom!

Read Aloud

A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue by Julia Cook is a great read for the beginning of the year. This book tells a story about what happens when all you do is tattle. WARNING: Some children will instantly become petrified to tattle for fear of getting the tattle tongue. This could actually work to your advantage (shhh). In the back of the book, there are rules for knowing when it’s appropriate to tell a teacher.

Rule 1: Be a Danger Ranger

Rule 2: Be a Problem Solver

Rule 3: Now or Later

Rule 4: M.Y.O.B.

If the problem isn’t dangerous and doesn’t involve you, mind your own business. I love how these rules are positively stated rather than telling the child what NOT to do!

Act It Out

One of my favorite parts of the beginning of the school year is performing endless skits. Being as dramatic as possible, show the children exactly what it looks and sounds like to tattle. Act out situations that require telling a teacher and situations that could be solved by yourself using problem-solving strategies and prompts. It’s easier for children to relate if they can hear exactly what tattling sounds like and how obnoxious it really is to have to listen to it.  

Tattle Phone

Using a pretend phone, set a station where children can go and “vent.” Sometimes it’s hard for a child to hold in their feelings and they need an outlet. Rather than tattling, they can practice appropriately “telling” about their situation and “solving” their problem. When the child needs to solve a problem and the other student isn’t in a brain state to calmly apologize and process, the phone can serve as an outlet for the time being.

Good Luck and BEWARE of the Tattle Tongue!






Art Creativity Culture Integration

Putting the “A” in STEAM

February 18, 2017

Wait, you can integrate art and core subjects?

In just a few years, art education has gone from the easiest thing to cut in a school budget to the most popular teaching technique. Art education can help increase student engagement and deepen understanding in both the art room and the classroom. The arts are being weaved into many core subjects and surprisingly the boost in academic achievement has risen tremendously! Academic achievement, creativity, and school pride increases when special area and classroom teachers are collaborating.

Collaborating with Classroom Teachers

Throughout college, I focused so much on the art lesson and the creative process itself that sometimes I would completely forget to incorporate the core subjects into the lesson. I was so used to being in my “art bubble” with other art education majors that I never thought about collaborating with grade level teachers. Honestly, the idea scared me and seemed overwhelming, but it has now turned into one of my favorite things to do! I enjoy asking teachers what’s going on in their classrooms and finding a way to incorporate the standards into my art lessons.

Bridging the Gap

Art integration bridges the gap of understanding for those students who need a creative approach. This allows the students to display their knowledge on a particular topic in a unique way.  For example, I’m sure many of us began the school year incorporating the 2016 Olympic games into many different areas in our classrooms. I began teaching my students in grades 3-6 about the history of the Olympics. We were able to explore geography, cultures of Greece and Brazil, artwork for a specific time period and much more. Students were able to express their learning in the form of art making, writing, reading, videos, and kinesthetic learning. Often times allowing the students to explore the standards creatively sparks the light bulb, creating the “AHA” moment.

A goal of mine is to make learning more meaningful through art

I enjoy walking through our school’s halls and seeing plant and animal cell paintings, Greek Olympic vases, onomatopoeia pop art, fantasy stories using particular writing techniques, and many more projects that I teach during the school year. Not only are these pieces aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but deep down I know that I am teaching my students skills and standards they need to know in their homeroom as well.

I love the challenge that art integration brings because it not only makes me a stronger art teacher but a well-rounded educator.

Art Creativity Culture

Creating Unity Through Art Education

February 2, 2017

What drives my passion for Art Education you ask? Let’s See…

Hello fellow educators! Thank you so much for checking out my post here on I am very excited about sharing my passion for the arts, art education, curriculum integration, and what I have learned from past challenges that have made me grow as an art educator with all of you!

Starting a new school year can be overwhelming, yet full of excitement. As a new teacher, I am still learning so much daily and applying what I have learned to my classroom routines. I begin the year with assessing art classroom routines that need changing, organizing art supplies, planning new projects, and much more.  While these tasks seem like an overload of things to do there is one thing that pushes me through the school year; knowing that I am sharing my love for art to my students and helping with creating them into well-rounded individuals in the community and in the classroom.

What’s the point of Art Education?

The one question I believe that I am asked more than any other question is “Why do you think art education is important?” I even ask myself this question when I feel defeated or I am facing a challenge that seems impossible to get through. Art has existed since the beginning of time and is more beneficial than we come to believe. When I am teaching an art lesson on Picasso, Warhol, Van Gogh, and many more successful artists, it’s not just about the artwork, it’s about the history behind it, events or emotions that inspired the artwork, and being able to use critical thinking skills to analyze the piece.

Art, History, and Emotions?

Art education exposes you to artwork that has recorded emotions through historical events. Art history gives a pictorial view on how the world has changed for centuries. When these artists recorded their emotions through art, it teaches them how to control their emotions and how to express them positively; a sense of self-awareness.

A strong sense self-awareness? CHECK √

Art education allows for my students to have a strong sense of self-awareness, not only in the classroom but in challenging situations they may have to face at home and later in life.

Communication and critical thinking skills.

How to interpret your thoughts, emotions and feelings during art critiques, group work, and class discussions are very important when processing information that we have learned or showing me what they have learned.


Art education brings various cultures together! Regardless of race, gender, or economic status the love for art and what we are learning in the art room brings us together, which I LOVE. My students enjoy learning about cultural history, art techniques, and pop culture. They soon begin to realize that themselves and their peers are more alike than they think; creating not only art but UNITY.

Art education is vital for my students and yours. Not only because of the few points I have listed, but because it can be your students saving grace, their positive outlet, their safe place. Regardless if art or crafting is a hobby or passion, it’s your escape too.