Norms of Collaboration

Norms of Collaboration – How Was Your Last Staff Meeting?

Have you ever sat through a meeting that could be described as… dysfunctional, boring, pointless, dominated by one individual, lecture like… the list could go on and on.  We sometimes make excuses blaming one individual or a couple of people.  It is much harder to believe that we have a part in being able to be a change maker and help the meeting become effective and/or ground breaking.  It just takes being intentional about the way we communicate and the culture that is being set within the group.

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End of the Year Celebration

End of the Year Celebration! A Few Ideas and Freebies!

Every year end my fourth grade classroom throws an End Of The Year Celebration!  It is a great time of reflection, celebration, tears, and lots of laughs!  Here are some thoughts, pictures, and printables from the celebration.  I would love to hear what you do with your students too!!

My Timeline for the End of the Year Celebration

Two Weeks Before the Celebration:

  • Have students fill out Top 10 ListsThese lists will help bring together the different parts of the script that will be written for celebration, as well as, they make great decorations for wall, lockers, or hallways.
  • Create committees for celebration.  The committees that I use are as follows: Decorations, Set Up, Clean Up, Greeters, Narriators (they help me write the script), Communications (help with RSVP’s and invites), and Food.
  • Write the ABC’s of Learning as a class.  Each letter of the alphabet represents a memory, habit, or routine in your classroom.  I usually assign one or two letters per student.  They create the saying associated to the letter and then at the celebration they will each read the letter that they wrote.  Here are a few sayings from one of my last classes.  I usually print these on multiple colors of paper and make a class book or use them to decorate the hallway coming into our classroom.
  • ABC's of Learning ABC's of Learning1 ABC's of Learning2 ABC's of Learning3
  • Begin to create the end of the year script.  Example script found here.  This script we used to put on our production for parents.  Our script consists of a few different parts including… an introduction to our parents from narrators, the reading of our ABC’s of Learning, Readings of our Persuasive Essays unit found here! (only a couple students shared), and last but not least mock election awards(here is a freebie from Tiffany Goliday on TPT).
  • Send out invites to parents and other teachers.  Find my freebies here!

One Week Before the Celebration:

  • Have committees meet a couple times throughout the week with agendas.
  • Begin practicing the script.
  • Hold Mock Elections

Week of the Celebration:

  • Rehearse each role.
  • Set up classroom
  • Send out reminders

Day of the Celebration:

  • Set room
  • Run through script twice
  • Committees meet

Long and Short Vowel Activities

Two products that we love using not only in the classroom but at home!  Early elementary students need lots of practice distinguishing long and short vowels!  The more hands on fun we can provide the better!

Find the Sweet Vowel Word Hunt and Monster Vowel Word Hunt in our stores!

Quick Tips on Long and Short Vowels….

What is the difference between short and long vowels? Depending on their position in the word and the pronunciation of that word, the length of the vowel can change and have a different sound. Not all letters make the same sound in all words, and that’s what vowel length is about.

14Short Vowels

When syllables end in a vowel and then consonant (as in the examples above), the vowel is usually short. If there is more than one consonant, the vowel is almost always short.

The most common sound for each vowel is its “short” sound:

  •  ă, pronounced /æ/ as in apple, pan, or mat,
  •  ĕ, pronounced /ɛ/ as in elephant, pen, or met,
  •  ĭ, pronounced /ɪ/ as in insect, pin, or mitt,
  •  ŏ, pronounced /ɒ/ as in octopus, ostrich, upon, or motto,
  •  and ŭ, pronounced /ʌ/ as in umbrella, pun, or mutt.

15Long Vowels

The alphabet sounds (when the vowel “says its name”) are called “long vowels.”  We call them ‘long’ because we hold them longer than the short sounds, but they are completely different sounds– not a longer version of the same sound.

  • Long A (ā ), pronounced /eɪ/ as in ate or mate,
  • Long E (ē ), pronounced /iː/ as in eat or meat (or meet or mete– all pronounced the same),
  • Long I (ī), pronounced /aɪ/ as in mite or might,
  • Long O (ō), pronounced /oʊ/ as in oats, mote or moat, and
  • Long U (ū), pronounced /juː/ in mute.

Vowel Resources!

Comment below and tell us, what resources do you use to teach vowels?

Collecting Evidence for The Writers Workshop

Collecting Evidence For Your Writer’s Workshop

Do you ever feel that you do not have enough evidence when assessing an overall grade in your writers workshop?  I have to admit, at times I have not felt confident explaining a grade to a parent or colleague when only having a students’ latest piece of work, conferring notes, and my gut to go from.  With a majority of students I am very confident, I know where they are at and know where they need support.  Other students I find it harder to put my finger on what they are struggling with, especially if it is not a direct goal of the unit.  One of my solutions has been identifying my structure of assessments and checkpoints through out my writers workshop.

For each workshop unit my grade level team began creating lists of components that fully support our view of the students progress, strengths, and weaknesses.  I know that my colleagues and I have found this component and assessment sheet helpful, so I thought I would share it with you!

Writing Workshop Persuasive Letters1

I use this with the corresponding checklists, rubrics, and assessments for each unit.  This makes my workshop flow so smoothly.  It also helps me feel organized while gaining a clear picture of where each student is at in my workshop. This is also useful as a grade level to remain consistent with our grading and speaking to parents about the workshop.


Persuasive Letter Writing UnitMy newest unit is The Persuasive Letter Writing Unit.  This is one of my favorite units!  It has just taken me awhile to get it all out of my head and on paper for you!  There are many different types of letter writing but persuasive writing lends itself so well to this letter unit!!

The overarching goals for this unit include:
  • Writers study mentor texts to understand the genre of persuasive writing.
  • Writers generate ideas for writing persuasive letters.
  • Writers learn strategies for writing effective persuasive letters.
  • Writers learn strategies for revising and editing persuasive letters.
  • Writers publish and share persuasive letters.

The Writer’s Workshop: Persuasive Letter Writing Unit is easily adaptable for grades 3-5. 20 Lessons with connection, teaching point, active engagement, and link. It includes anchor charts, minilessons, handouts and much more.

If you would like to see all of what comes in this 107page unit head over to my TeachersPayTeachers Shop to see the description!

Copy of Mitch

How To Make a Button For Your Blog in 4 Simple Steps

Design a button for your blog using your favorite design program.  (Powerpoint, Photoshop,  ) It will need to be either 150×150 or 200×150 pixels (I prefer the bigger).  Today I am going to show you my new favorite way…   It is FREE and easy to use.  Here is a 3 minute video of how to use Canva if you are interested.

Once you have made your button and saved it as a PNG or JPEG you are ready to move on to step 2.

You will now upload your picture onto a picture host site of your choice.  Personally, I use

You will upload your picture so that you are able to use a direct link code.  (You will need this for the next step.)
You will not replace all of the highlighted text with your own links.  Copy and paste this code into a Word or Pages document while you play with it and then I will tell you where to place it in the next step.

Copy the example below


<div align="center"><a href="" title="YOUR BLOG NAME"><img src="http://DIRECTLINKFORPHOTO" alt="YOUR BLOG NAME" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
You will fill in your sites web address, the name of your website, and the direct link to your photo.   If all else fails and you find yourself stuck at this point you can just head over to The Code Generator and use their tool to create your HTML Code.  

My filled in version for my button looks like this…

5px;”>Teaching Upstairs

<div align="center"><a href="" title="Teaching Upstairs"><img src="" alt="Teaching Upstairs" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Now you will insert the HTML Coding that you created into your Blogger Template.

To do this head to your Blogger Dashboard and click on the Layout Tab.  See the green arrow below.

Choose to add a Gadget. See green arrow below.
Chose to add HTML/Java Script
Add the HTML Code that you created.  You can title it whatever you want, most use “Grab My Button” .

The product that is produced from the code should be similar to the one below.  Sit back and enjoy your work!

Let me know if this tutorial worked for you and link up your store so we can see!

Back To School Signs! A Freebie For You!

Tomorrow is the day!  We are back to school and it is the perfect time to capture a memory.  This year I will have a Kindergartener and a Second Grader!  In honor of the first day of school I am sending out a freebie for parents and teachers alike!

Printable and Digital Back to School Signs!

In this freebie you will find signs for grades Kindergarten through Sixth Grade in two different colors!  Don’t see what you need let me know and I can whip it right up!

Are you already back in school…don’t worry you wont miss out because you can use these digitally.  You will see in the example above that you are able to take this image and place it on a picture from the past year.

Here are the specifics:

You can use the signs two different ways…

  1. Print out the sign on a regular piece of paper and have your child or students hold them in the picture.  8.5×11 Landscape
  2. Use the digital image to place on the photo using your computers photo editor or another online editing system like or
Head over to my TeachersPayTeachers Store  and get your free download today!