Get Inspired at the Blog

Popular Blog Posts

Most Recent Posts

Thumbnail

Round Up of My Favorite End of the Year Lessons & Activities


Before you know it, it'll be time to say goodbye to your students as they head off into summer. With the last day of school rapidly approaching, I thought I'd share my favorite ways to make the most of the end of the school year. (I've also filled this post with some exclusive freebies! So exciting!)

Here's a quick listing of the ideas I'm going to share today:

➧ Unit to teach:  Roller Coaster Persuasive Writing Unit
➧ Gifts for students:  Motivational Gifts for Students
➧ Whole-class review:  Grammar Escape Rooms (with a twist)
➧ Doodle reflection:  End of the Year Doodle Suitcase or Locker
➧ Freebie: Accordion Book Reflection
➧ Summer reading project (and FREEBIE): Summer ...
Read More
Thumbnail

3 Easy Ways to Make Poetry More Fun!



Why does poetry have such a bad rap? In my experience, every time that I would mention poetry to students, their response was always a deafening protest.  Every year, it makes me wonder:  why are students so averse to learning how to read, analyze and write poetry? 
There seems to be a massive misconception about poetry among students (and maybe teachers too). Poetry is often perceived as this mythical type of literature that only the most gifted and insightful can interpret and create.  But, it's not!  Sure, there are some challenging pieces of poetry, but there are so many wonderful ways to make poetry FUN!  Here are just a few ideas...

CREATE A ...
Read More
Thumbnail

Persuasive Writing Topics and Lesson Ideas


Did you know that researchers have found that children's persuasive writing abilities develop more slowly than any other genre (Applebee, Langer, & Mullins, 1986)?  That means that it is essential that we get students writing persuasively as often as possible. One of the best ways to motivate students to write persuasively is with really fun and engaging writing topics.  In addition, when we give students different types of ways to write persuasively from speeches to critical reviews, we can really engage students.  

In the spirit of getting students writing, I've compiled 15 of my favorite topics and styles of persuasive writing. These ideas are sure to get your students excited about writing persuasively!



Students are ...
Read More
Thumbnail

5 Ways to Build Better Writers




As teachers, we all want to help our students become stronger writers. However, knowing exactly HOW to build better writers can often be a challenge.  Since teaching writing has always been one of my favorite things to do, I'd thought I'd share 5 ways to build better writers in the classroom.  Speaking of sharing, I'm also giving away 2 sets of FREE WRITING RESOURCES in this post! (You'll find the links below!)

I'm not sure about you, but I feel like in our standards-based world, creative writing has gone by the wayside.  And nothing makes me sadder!  Creative writing activities are my absolute favorite way to build better writers.  That ...
Read More
Thumbnail

Free, Fun and Festive Valentine's Day Projects




If you're like me, you're always on the hunt for a fun and festive Valentine's Day project.  Today, I thought I'd share two FREE lessons that you can combine to make two different types of projects.  I've teamed up with my friend, Art with Jenny K.. to tell you all about them!


Here are the links to the resources you'll need for the projects:
Pop Art Heart (This is in the supporting documents of the video in Art with Jenny K.'s shop.)Writing a Valentine's Day Rebus (You'll find this as a free download in my shop.)

Start both of these projects with the pop art heart designed by ...
Read More
Thumbnail

Favorite Winter-Themed Lessons


I don’t know about you, but for me, the winter season always seems so busy!  Perhaps it's the holidays and celebrations or maybe it’s all the activities, but winter is a super busy time of year...especially in the classroom. With so many tasks, activities and traditions in our "real" lives, it can be hard to find the time to plan lessons for students. That's why I thought I'd take one thing off your "to do" list:  lesson planning! 
I've put together a round-up of winter-themed lessons and units that are just a download away from teaching.  Some ideas are specific to holidays and others are perfect for any winter day!

Here ...
Read More
Thumbnail

5 Favorite Poems to Teach Growth Mindset



Robert Frost once said “There are three things, after all, that a poem must reach: the eye, the ear, and what we may call the heart or the mind. It is most important of all to reach the heart of the reader.” Anyone who has read a poem and felt the words deep within themselves knows this assertion to be true. Poetry is uniquely capable of touching the hearts of readers.  That's why it lends itself perfectly to the underlying messages of growth mindset.
Poetry can be engaging when relatable, and it also makes for an easy way to reinforce skills that students have already learned while reading longer works such as interpreting figurative language, citing evidence within ...
Read More
Thumbnail

3 Fun and Educational Thanksgiving Lessons


I love infusing holiday-themed lessons into ELA instruction. Since students are naturally excited about holidays like Thanksgiving, it's easy to capitalize on their enthusiasm while still teaching critical skills.  That's the key part, right?  I love lessons that keep students learning while adding a Thanksgiving-twist to the lessons.  
Here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving lessons that are not only fun, but super educational, too!

This FREE lesson combines listening comprehension and art!  It's a collaboration between Art with Jenny K. and I.  During the Thanksgiving lesson, students will practice the critical skill of listening comprehension while they learn about the origin of Thanksgiving as a national holiday.  After a ...
Read More
Thumbnail

9 Fun Book Projects

The days of dioramas and book reports may be long gone. (Is it wrong that I’m a little sad about that?) Yet the expectation that students read and express their understanding of what they’ve read remains as strong as ever.
So what’s a teacher to do? More specifically, what’s a creative teacher to do, when she doesn’t want to rely on worksheets? Get creative, of course!
I’ve compiled 9 Fun Book Projects for you. They’re quick and easy to prepare, and best of all, they’re engaging – for both your students andyou. No more slogging through piles of “Why I Liked This Book!”




Take a look:

Write a different ending -- What ...
Read More
Thumbnail

9 Ways to Develop Growth Mindset in the Classroom All Year Long


Dr. Carol Dweck researched thousands of students. Her discoveries about growth mindset have had a direct impact on so many classrooms! That's because her work found that students with a growth mindset achieved more than those with a fixed mindset. Of course, teachers took action! Teaching lessons that help students develop a growth mindset became just as important as the other great lessons teachers teach...and that's a good thing!

Like many lessons that help students develop as learners, growth mindset is one of those concepts that lends itself to teaching many times throughout the year.  It's not a "one and done" concept. That's why I thought that it would be fun to compile a bunch ...
Read More
Thumbnail

3 Easy Ways to Turn a Drab Bulletin Board into a Fab Bulletin Board


When I started my teaching career there was no such thing as Pinterest (gasp)!  So, my bulletin boards were not as “pin-worthy” as the ones that teachers create today.  However, these days, I’m so inspired by what teachers are creating in their classrooms.  While many of the designs might feel out of our league, I’ve found that with a few simple tips, we all can turn drab bulletin boards into fab bulletin boards.  Of course, to illustrate some of the ideas, I’m sharing some images from Pinterest!  I hope that you’ll find that with very little creativity even the most drab bulletin boards can turn into fab displays in the classroom ...
Read More
Thumbnail

Free Classroom Resources to Save the Day



Let's face it, teaching brings about new challenges every single day! That's why I thought I'd compile 3 freebies that you can use to make some of those days in your classroom a little easier!  I'm sharing free print-and-use resources to help you create a teacher vision, free resources to save derailed lessons, and even a substitute feedback form.  They're all about helping you survive in the classroom! You can check out this quick video where Jenny from Art with Jenny K. and I are discussing the ideas if you'd like:
And...if you find something you like, just download it for FREE!

Here's a freebie that is perfect any day of the ...
Read More
Thumbnail

Creating a Colorful Classroom with Mood Boards


I don't know about you, but I just love a styled classroom!  You know the classroom I'm talking about, right?  It's the kind of classroom that seems to have it all pulled together.  Sometimes in our quest to have a visually appealing classroom, it can hard to know where to begin.  That's why I've put together a set of Classroom Design Mood Boards to provide a little inspiration.  
Speaking of inspiration, all of the mood boards in this post are based on a color of the rainbow.  Why?  Because one of the easiest ways to put together a styled classroom is by sticking with a single color.  This makes gathering design elements for the ...
Read More
Thumbnail

Classroom Sweet Classroom: Designing a Classroom that Feels Like Home

For many teachers, our classrooms are our home away from home. That's why I thought it would be fun to put together some classroom mood boards that are inspired by home decor styles. After all, what's the easiest way to make a classroom feel cozy and welcoming? Making it feel like home, of course!  I've put together a few inspirational mood boards for doing just that! Just imagine if your classroom could take on a mid-century modern vibe or a hip urban loft.  What about a boho chic classroom or a modern classroom?  Ever dream of a cottage themed classroom, well, I've got some ideas for that, too!
For the most part, each of the ...
Read More
Thumbnail

Classroom Design for the Little Ones

This year, you and your students will spend A LOT of time in your classroom!  So, why not make it super fun?  I love the idea of pulling together design elements to turn a drab classroom into a fab classroom.  That's why I've put together a series of classroom mood boards to provide a little inspiration for setting up a fantastic classroom. The mood boards in this collection are designed with young students in mind. You'll find themed classrooms with a bit of whimsy and ton of fun!
For the most part, each of the mood boards have common elements in them like a...
A classroom rug - No matter what age group of students you teach ...
Read More
Thumbnail

Classroom Decor with a Theme


We all want our classrooms to be special places for students to learn, but sometimes it's hard to know where to begin...especially when it comes to setting up our classrooms.  Over the years, I've found that a great starting point for designing and decorating the classroom is to choose a theme. This tip actually sparked a whole bunch of classroom design mood boards based on...you guessed it...themes!  I've compiled a whole bunch of mood boards for a variety of themes to provide a little inspiration and maybe spark some creative decor ideas for your classroom!
You'll notice that the mood boards have some common elements.  For instance, most of the mood boards include ...
Read More
Thumbnail

Middle School Classroom Design Ideas


When it comes to decorating the middle school classroom, it's not always easy.  That's because middle schoolers themselves aren't always easy.  They're in flux!  Their needs are unique!  Their opinions are strong!  So, it's important to find just the right balance of whimsy and maturity when it comes to setting up a middle school classroom.  Since this balance isn't always easily achieved, I thought I'd put together some classroom mood boards with middle schoolers in mind.  (Of course, these ideas could work in any setting.)  
Each mood board is meant to appeal to middle school students.  You'll even notice that the mood boards have some common elements.  For instance, most ...
Read More
Thumbnail

Bright and Bold Classroom Decor Ideas


Don't you just love a bright and happy classroom?  I do!  I love a classroom that is filled with colors! There's just something so engaging about a bright space!  I'm so in love with colorful classrooms, that I thought it would be fun to put together some bright and bold classroom mood boards.  Although each mood board is full of color, you'll note that there's still a theme that unifies them all together.  Or, if you'd like, you can always mix and match ideas!  I hope you like them!
For the most part, each of the mood boards have common elements in them like a...A classroom rug - No matter what age group ...
Read More
Thumbnail

Classroom Design Inspired by the Times


One of the best parts about decorating a classroom, is that you can be really creative!  You can fill your classroom with whimsical items or bold furniture pieces.  The options are endless!  In fact, it was just this mentality that inspired me to dream up some classroom designs inspired by different decades.  That's right, imagine a retro classroom or an 80's classroom.  How fun!  Check out the classroom mood boards for a bunch of decades-inspired ideas!
Wait, before we get started, I thought I'd fill you in on some of the common elements in most of the mood boards...A classroom rug - No matter what age group of students you teach, a rug is one of ...
Read More
Thumbnail

Growth Mindset Open House Projects



Spoiler Alert:  There's a free Open House Activity in this blog post! It's a free growth mindset activity that aligns with the Open House project ideas I'm discussing today.

Are you overwhelmed by Open House?  I know I've spent many years in absolute panic about what projects and student work to put on display for children and their families during Open House and/or Parent Night events.  That's why I'm always on the hunt for Open House activities that check all my Open House "boxes."  In my quest for the perfect Open House project, I'm always looking for ideas that are...
  1. EDUCATIONAL - I don't like open house projects that are just "fillers ...
Read More
Thumbnail

10 Great Reasons to Teach Poetry

As you may know, April is National Poetry Month, and as good a time as any for some reminders on why it’s so important to teach poetry. Too often, poetry instruction is seen as frivolous, or worse, dull, when really, the exact opposite is true. Need proof? Check out these 10 reasons to teach poetry…
1.  It can connect with larger instructional themes. Poems can beautifully complement themes of every topic – from aging to rebirth. A poem can help you take a different angle on a complex historical period, like the Civil Rights Movement, and make it more personal.  For instance, you could easily link poetry to Black History Month with a Poet and Poem study on Langston ...
Read More
Thumbnail

No-Prep, No-Excuses, No-Hassle Vocabulary Games

As the old adage goes, if you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime. It turns out the same can be said about a student’s vocabulary: Teach her what a word means, and she’ll become a stronger reader.
Even better, say researchers, teach your students what eight to 10 words mean, over the course of 37 to 50 weeks, and even your lowest readers could experience a 30 percent increase in word knowledge… And the more words your students know, the more likely they are to comprehend what they read.
But as any of us who has memorized lists of vocabulary words knows, it can be – well, boring. As with many things school-related, the key ...
Read More
Thumbnail

5 Favorite Behavior Management Techniques


As teachers, we're always on the hunt for behavior management techniques that work.  That's because we all know that if students aren't behaving, they're definitely not learning.  Today, I thought I'd share some techniques that have worked successfully in my classroom.  You can read all about them, or you can check out this FREE video where I explain them all:I also have a ton of FREE bonus resources in the download for the video, so checking it out is totally worth your while!
Technique #1:  Behavior ChartThe first technique is one that I learned about when I was student teaching.  It's a BEHAVIOR CHART.  The set-up is easy.  You just place ...
Read More
Thumbnail

3 Fun Ways to Teach Irony

Have you ever been faced with a classroom full of blank or even confused faces when you ask students to find, discuss, or analyze the irony in a piece of literature?  I know I have!  Irony seems to be one of the concepts that students struggle with year-after-year.  That's why I thought it was time to develop some hands-on and engaging lessons to get students mastering situational, verbal, and dramatic irony!  I thought I'd share some of the ideas with you today. I hope they'll help your students get excited about irony, too!
IDEA #1:  Irony HuntSend students on a search for irony with this fun activity.  First, you'll need to create a set of ...
Read More
Thumbnail

Free Stackable Classroom Posters!

You know how they say that "necessity is the mother of invention?"  Well, that was definitely the case when I was faced with a super narrow bulletin board in the classroom.  I was perplexed about how to use the space.  Then, I remembered how much I love displaying motivational quotes in the classroom and the idea of the stackable poster was born. I decided to create a long, narrow poster with an inspirational quote.  

Then...I couldn't stop creating them!  Seriously...it's becoming an obsession! That's actually a good thing for you, because I have a bunch that you can download for FREE!  

They're super simple to install.  First, just cut out each of ...
Read More

© Copyright 2017 Brainwaves Instruction. All Rights Reserved. Web Development by Steven L Smith. Design by Ruby & Sass.