Five for Friday

Five for Friday doodle bugs teachingI’m linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday…. my first one!

Five for friday 1Something that has occupied most of my week has been Teachers Pay Teachers. I got 3 sales this week – my first sales ever!! Which made me feel pressure to improve the product, as I mentioned in my previous post, I wanted to make the Homework Binder Inserts editable so that teachers could personalize it to match their homework policies. I’ve finished it and am just waiting to hear back from a seller whose product I would love to include in the pack. As soon as I hear back, I will post the revision!

**revision is up**

Here is a sneak peak in the meantime! Homework Binder preview watermarkedI also added a math homework menu, for those days/weeks when things get crazy and you can’t run worksheets or find a valuable activity that students can complete independently. As well as an extra spelling menu – I plan to switch out the menu half way through the year to change things up.

five for friday 2


I love to draw and doodle, and hubby even bought me these awesome pens and black notebook for Valentines Day this year. I haven’t done much in the book, partly because of time, and partly because of hesitation and fear I guess. BUT….not anymore!!! I watched one of my favorite periscopers yesterday and she did a quick lettering tutorial – which totally inspired me!! She recommended this youtube channel and I’ve already watched a couple of the lettering tutorials. I’m totally hooked, and cannot wait to “fancy up” my anchor charts and other classroom posters, etc!!

five for friday 3

I was lucky enough to attend the ASCD Conference on Teaching Excellence this summer, for the second year in a row. Once again – I’ve come away with so many great ideas!! Last year I focused on two things, explicitly teaching grit and trying to incorporate teaching strategies that would help boys succeed in the classroom. They were my 2 biggest takeaways from that year.

This year, I have a three BiG takeaways:

#1 Providing consistent and meaningful feedback

#2 Keep students engaged in their learning through reflecting on objectives, learning, and effort.

#3 Pacing (which goes hand-in-hand with student engagement)

Providing timely feedback can be the most challenging thing for a teacher – especially when you have more than 20 students (which is not often the case in our Title 1 school). The presenter of the session on feedback said that it has been scientifically proven that in order for feedback to be meaningful – you have a 2 day window. Otherwise, the student will actually have to relearn the material as opposed to simply making corrections or clarifying their understanding.

With this, and takeaway #2, in mind, I created goal accounting templates (I like to call them student objective tracking/reflection recording sheets, because that is what they are.) This will help provide 1 of 3 types of feedback – reflective feedback. Expert feedback is provided by the teacher, and clarifying/indirect feedback is peer feedback (which you could have students engage in during turn and talk).

I plan to make the goal sheets part of my every day routine to either have the students jot down the objective, or provide them with it on a label to stick in (if I know I’ll be short on time). Students then rate their level of understanding, between 1 and 4. After the lesson, they go back and rate their effort (1-4) and their level of understanding now. Eventually they will record their assessment results for that objective/goal.

Below is an example of different ways students could write the objective – they do not need to write the whole thing out if you’re pressed for time or have students who struggle writing neatly.

objective sheet watermarked

five for friday 4

wedding pic watermarked

This picture was taken a week ago – at my bestie’s wedding! It was such a fun-filled day and night!!

My number 4 is my fourth grade team. I work with ladies that I can truly call some of my best friends!! I love each of them as people and professionals. We are all so different, and have different styles of teaching, but we work so well together. I dread the day that we get separated, which is probably inevitable…. but, until that time comes – I pledge to enjoy every day working with them and learning from and with them!!

five for friday 5  My number 5 is simple: Periscope!

Periscope has changed my life. And I don’t say that to sound dramatic, I’m serious!! I’ve followed teacher blogs before and follow teachers on instagram, etc…. periscope is different. It makes the people behind the blogs and instagram accounts real…

Through watching teachers on periscope, I have realized my own personal gifts and talents as a teacher. It has given me confidence to step out of my comfort zone and try things that I didn’t think were “for me” – such as teachers pay teachers, a teacher blog, hand lettering….

It has also given me the freedom to really push myself and be the best I can be. When you’re in your own teaching bubble, it can be difficult to push yourself. I know that for me, at my school (and I’m sure it’s the same at many of your schools) the job is so challenging and emotionally draining because of the wonderful little people we teach. Teaching is only the tip of the iceberg with these kiddos. That being said, there is a culture of “you have to take care of yourself” or “I can’t put extra time into this job, i have a family/life/stress that needs attention” at schools. Sometimes this makes me feel like I shouldn’t be putting in extra effort – because it’s not the norm…. and I’m not saying that we should put our jobs before our families, or our own mental, physical, or emotional health…

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I truly LOVE teaching, I LOVE planning, I LOVE going to professional developments, I LOVE trying new things/intiatives in the classroom, I LOVE it all….. so why should I feel guilty for putting in extra time and effort?

Periscope has connected me with many like-minded teachers (not that there aren’t any at my school — there are plenty!!) who are wonder women! They give me hope that I too can find a balance between being the best teacher I can be, and having a separate life!

If you’re still reading – thank you!!

Please let me know what you think in the comments – I’m interested to know if I’m the only who feels/felt this way!

Have a great weekend!!



My Best Back to School Tip Linky Party

back to school blog post

I’m linking up with Christina at Hanging Around in Primary and Katie at Pop Into Primary for this linky party!

Teachers report back to work on August 17th – so we have 15 days of summer break left! *Cue sad soppy music…*

No…not really. I’m excited to go back and try some new things in my classroom. I’m also really excited to get a new class of students and to build new relationships. Anyway – on to my tips.

I haven’t had much time for planning this summer, after attending the ASCD Teaching Excellence Conference, working summer school, and then being a bridesmaid in my best friend (and teammate’s) wedding, I am only now getting started on school prep. There are 3 things that I have done that have made me feel so much more prepared than I was a week ago.


I planned my first day with the following considerations:

  • Supply Collection
  • Student Interest Surveys (something for the students to work on while you collect supplies)
  • Team Building Activities
  • Class Expectation Activity (include the students in the rule making)
  • Embed Routines Throughout the First Day/Week (which requires that you plan your routines ahead of time and purposefully plan your activities and transitions around these routines, so that the students can learn them in context and can practice them. For intermediate grades, consider creating a document that outlines your classroom routines. This will be especially useful for new students who join your class during the school year).


I created a list of each subject that I teach and considered my teaching style and the procedures I plan to use for each subject. Using this, I decided what supplies the students will need for each subject area. I also planned out where we would store each of these notebooks/folders/etc.

I really like to stay organized and want to teach my students to be organized too. Messy student desks are one of my biggest pet peeves, and one of the most inevitable situations in elementary school. I want to be proactive when it comes to helping my students keep organized. “A place for everything, and everything in it’s place” is a mantra I hope to teach my kids this year! 😛 I might be setting us up for failure, but you never know until you try. So I’m going to try.


Homework can be so frustrating – students lose things they forget things…. it can be so painful. So this year, I wanted to be ready and prepared to help eliminate all excuses!

I am going to set up homework binders/folders (enough for each student, at least 5 new students, and a few extra for those students who are going to misplace theirs). Last year students had a take home folder and a spelling notebook, they would do spelling homework in their notebook and they would take math homework home in their take home folder. I wanted to have students do reading homework, but I didn’t have a good system and wanted to make sure it was meaningful.

So, I create some binder inserts to organize these homework binders with. The inserts are as follows:

  • A cover
  • Slide2A page outlining homework expectations
  • Spelling homework menu (students will choose an appetizer on Monday, entree on Tuesday, and dessert on Wednesday. On Thursday they will take a practice test). There will be some lined paper after this insert for students to complete their spelling homework on.
  • Reading homework questions, 12 for fiction and 12 for non-fiction. Students will choose 1 question a week. These questions are based on the third grade common core standards. Although I teach fourth grade, I want to make sure students can complete their homework independently, so it is more of a review and practice. Again, there will be lined paper after this insert for students to answer questions on.
  • Reading Log. Students will be expected to read for 20 minutes every night and record their reading on a log. I will include 2-3 copies of this log in each binder.
  • The last insert is just a Math Homework cover. My intention is to have this insert in a sheet protector – so that students can place their math homework in the sleeve for safe transportation to and from home.
  • I am considering adding (updating/revising) the inserts to include a “keep at home” and “please return” inserts, also to go in sheet protectors. I may also include exemplar examples of each activity – to really eliminate any question of expectations and to help parents be clear on my expectations for homework. Let me know what you think?

Slide1Don’t forget – the Teachers Pay Teacher’s Back to School Sale is August 3-4. Up to 28% off select products!

Use the code BTS15

What do you do to get ready for a new school year?


Third Year’s a Charm

Why hello world!!

I’ve been blogging for about 9 years, but when I started teaching full time…my blog fell off my radar. I had much bigger fish to fry (don’t worry, they weren’t any of the #littlefishteacherbloggers). But, now that I’m going into my third year of teaching, and my second year of teaching fourth grade – I feel a little more balanced and prepared. So I’m jumping back into the blogging boat! My previous blog is a more personal blog with years of personal history – so I hope you can understand why I’ve started fresh with this “teacher blog”. I probably won’t blog on my older blog anymore – which means you should get a good mix of teacher and life blog posts (but mostly teacher, since teaching takes up most of my time and is my passion).

In case you’ve been living under a rock (aka – not being obsessed with social media) there has been a serious teacher-take over… teachers have taken over periscope (if you haven’t heard of it, and love collaborating and learning new things – do yourself a favor- get the app and sign up. If you find me (@bonbrad) you can check out my following list to find hundreds of other teachers).

After the periscope-teacher-takeover (of 2015) teachers, like me, were encouraged and inspired to start their own teachers pay teachers stores. Now periscope and the worldwide teaching community has empowered and motivated many teachers to try their hands at blogging; hence my new “teacher blog”.

I can’t wait to share my classroom and my passion for teaching with each of you!!

Stay tuned for my back to school tips!!