ENGAGE, EQUIP, & EMPOWER: Lesson Ideas for the Chinese New Year

dogFebruary 16th will be the first day of the New Year on the Chinese lunar calendar. Each year of the calendar’s 12-year cycle is represented by an animal. According to the Chinese zodiac, people born during a given year share traits with that animal. This year, 2018 is the year of the Dog. Those born in the Year of the Dog are said to be very sincere and they’re very loyal to friends.

Check out the following lesson ideas:

Boars & Baseball: Making Connections with ReadWriteThink

In this lesson, students will make text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections after reading In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. After sharing and discussing connections, students choose and plan a project that makes a personal connection to the text.

Click the image below to order a copy of the book for this lesson. Clicking my Amazon affiliate link does result in a small commission for me  at no extra cost to you.


Read Works is also an online reading resource with multiple text selections about the Chinese New Year! You could also choose this time to do a culture study about China. Read Works also offers several FREE text selections to fill that need as well!

Happy Teaching!

ENGAGE, EQUIP, & EMPOWER: Black History Month Lesson Ideas

mbwThe function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. – Martin Luther King Jr.

February is Black History Month. This blog contains links to some of my favorite ideas and books to use when designing lesson plans to celebrate and learn at the same time.

First, here is a round up of some great resources from Teachers Pay Teachers.


Designed with third and fourth graders in mind, this biographies resource includes materials for students to use while conducting research, as well as materials for the presentation of their final writing piece, in a Biography Lapbook. Click HERE to find this product, Biography Lapbook!



bhmLooking for some new and fresh activities for Black History Month? This pack includes writing, reading, vocabulary, crafts, and more! Click HERE to find this product Black History Month Activities!




Below are a few FABULOUS books to read to students during Black History Month. Click on any image to order from my Amazon site.

The following links are affiliate links to Amazon. If you choose to make a purchase, I do receive a small commission. 

Happy Teaching!

New Year’s Words & A New Voice

eee“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” -T.S. Eliot

It is 2017. It is time for new words and a new voice.

Have you noticed how educators latch on to “buzz words” as if those words will be a magic solution for the numerous issues we face in our quest to create a better educational system for America’s future?

I have. I have also noticed that we often use the “buzz words” but fail to put in the “basic work”. There I said it. Go ahead stone me. It is  true.

We often want to quote the latest buzz words we heard at a conference, but we don’t actually want to commit to making those words work. Why? I don’t have the answer for that. Maybe we don’t believe the buzz. Maybe we don’t want to put in the work. Maybe we are tired, stressed, and tired of our profession being disrespected.

This year, I commit to the work not just the words.

I believe there are three key words that are essential to educating our students: engage, equip, and empower. These three words are just the components; they must be joined together with work.

Join me in the next few months as I look at each of these “words” and  the real “work” that will facilitate student growth and academic achievement.

In 2017, will you be a new voice?



Back to Blog

girlreading“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” – Oscar Wilde

I can’t begin to count the number of times that I have read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I believe that I was in the fifth grade the very first time that I escaped from reality into the world of that secret English garden. When I allow my mind to wander there, I can still inhale the scent of flora and early morning fog. My ears still perk up at the sound of a small bird chirping a happy tune. My heart always hopes that it is Robin, the symbolic gatekeeper. Like Mary, I am enchanted by Robin’s merry tune and the prospect of revealing the garden’s hidden secret.

“Mistress Mary forgot that she had ever been contrary in her life when he allowed her to draw closer and closer to him, and bend down and talk and try to make something like robin sounds.” –The Secret Garden

My love of escaping into a novel was nurtured by the many wonderful educators who blessed me with the gift of knowledge. Their influence no doubt played an important role in my decision to become an educator. I feel alive in a classroom. When I teach, I know that I am doing exactly what God designed me to do.

Knowing all of that, it might seem odd that I made the decision to come out of the classroom and step into the role of reading specialist. I have not made a blog post this school year because I have been adjusting to me new role. I am pleased to announce that I love it.

I will begin to blog about my experience in this new role, share resources that I find or designed, and share victories that I encounter on this journey. I thank God and Tallapoosa County Schools for giving me this opportunity.


DES 5th Grade Reading Challenge

Youth slogan_HWe did it! We survived those first three days of school. Although we have already been hard at work in 5th grade, this week we will really get going with our 5th Grade Reading Challenge.

I challenge you to read at least 8 of the novels on this list and 2 novel choices of your own (10 total). You must have your alternate novel choices approved by me. You must score 70 or higher on each AR test. Students completing this challenge will receive a reward. It is your responsibility to keep up with the challenge tracking sheet (you will be given one this week). It is your responsibility to track your progress. Will you accept the challenge?

It is not enough to simply teach children to read; we have to give them something worth reading. Something that will stretch their imaginations—something that will help them make sense of their own lives and encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are quite different from their own. —Katherine Patterson

HOMEWORK: Your only homework in reading class this week is to begin the 5th Grade Reading Challenge. Next week we will begin our written homework assignments.


Storia: Our New Favorite App!

Nathan shows off his new favorite app. . .Storia!

We have a new favorite app in our house! I discovered Storia by Scholastic to assist Nathan with his reading fluency and comprehension. Storia can be downloaded to your PC, iPad, iPod,etc. Thousands of eBooks can be downloaded for $3 – $5 each. Storia allows you to set up personalized “bookshelves” or set up your “shelves” by reading level for use in the classroom. This app also has learning games, a dictionary, read-to-me books, parent tools, and note taking abilities.

I have at least 50 educational apps on my iPad. This is hands down the best eBook app for kids I have found. You can download anything from picture books to the most popular new series for teens (The Hunger Games). Nathan and I hope you check out Storia and enjoy it as much as we have.

Happy Reading!

Thank you, Mommy!

My youngest son has struggled with reading difficulties since he began his educational journey. He loves to learn, but is well below his grade level in reading. He has been blessed with a loving reading coach who loves and encourages him. He suffers through having a mommy who is an educator (not always fun). He keeps on smiling through it all.

At the end of his third grade year we decided it was time for a big step. He had displayed signs of dyslexia so we set him up for testing. My son is dyslexic.

This did not discourage him. This diagnosis is the answer we have been seeking. We can now devise a personal education plan for my sweet boy.

I am sharing this because I know there are many students just like my Nathan. They are bright, creative souls who struggle to read, spell, and write the simplest of words. It is frustrating. Dyslexic individuals “see” the world differently. They have a weakness that can become a great strength. When he was in first grade he drew a picture of him teaching with the caption “I want to be a teacher and teach people to read.”

That reminds me of Patricia Polacco. If you have not read her books then you are missing out on quite a treasure. My favorite is Thank you, Mr. Falker.

It is the story of one very special teacher who helped a little girl overcome Dyslexia and succeed beyond her wildest dreams. I once thought, “That’s the kind of teacher I want to be.” It still is, but now it is personal. Now I can say, “That’s the kind of mommy I want to be!” I hope one day my Nathan looks back on this journey and says, “Thank you, mommy!”

For more about Patricia Polacco:



Speak by L.H. Anderson is a must read!!

Last night I settled in with PJs, pizza, and a great book. I read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Yes, I read ALL of it last night! This book is for the 7th – 9th grade age group. It is a MUST READ for girls of this age. This book gives the reader an inside look at the young adolescent mind of a girl dealing with a serious secret. She can not heal until she speaks out about the injustice she endured.

**Let me say that if I had a daughter of this age, I would read this book and then give it to her to read. It opens up the opportunity for a MUST HAVE discussion. -Happy Reading

Summary from Goodreads:

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.