Skip to content

Choose Kind

May 15, 2015

One of the greatest rewards of being a teacher is seeing our students grow and spread their wings as professional educators. Currently one of our students is completing her student teaching in Costa Rica. Earlier this week I received an email from her with a special  request. It wasn’t asking for anything personal, but it was a request for help for one of the children in her host family.

We know as teachers that our classroom communities include not just our students but their families and our school community. We know that it is a sign of professional growth when educators make every effort to support students and their school community in ways that truly make a difference.

In short, the relationships among the educators in a school define all relationships within that school’s culture. Teachers and administrators demonstrate all too well a capacity to either enrich or diminish one another’s lives and thereby enrich or diminish their schools.

(Barth, 2006).

Below is Ashley’s request. It is an excellent opportunity to choose to be kind and to help someone in need. It is also a way to support Ashley as she is trying to make a difference. Please consider a donation and help Ashley spread the word.

Emily is a little girl I’m currently living with while in Costa Rica. I cannot say greater things about this family. During my 2 months here, they have taken me under their wing and supported me in every way possible. From day one, they have gone out of their way to make me feel included. This isn’t easy, being that a language barrier is present. Emily, who is turning nine in two weeks, has a variety of medical issues and a week ago underwent a 6 hour heart surgery, from which she is still recovering. I want to support this family in every way possible, and I am hoping perhaps you do as well, so I am asking anyone who is willing to please consider making a donation to support this family. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please share it and spread the word.

To help support the family’s  medical bills and other expenses while she recovers, I have created a gofundme page where individuals can donate money that will directly go to the family to help support their costs during this time. GoFundMe page: Emily’s Medical Fund Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please consider donating and sharing.




Barth, R. (2006). Improving relationships within the school house. Educational Leadership, 63(6), 8-13.

Another End of the School Year

April 29, 2015

Originally posted on From Surviving to Thriving:

Quite possibly, May and June may be the busiest months of the year. In classrooms everywhere, teachers and students are frantically finishing projects, rushing to meet goals, and reflecting on past and future accomplishments.

While there is joy in the growth students and teachers have experienced, there is a quiet sadness and some fear of the unknown as students prepare to move to the next level and teachers gently push them on. Classroom teachers are also quietly preparing NOW for next year’s new crop of students.

At Thriving we are huge fans of lists as tools for organization. We strongly urge educators to begin the process of organization now, to end the year and prepare for next year with as little stress and as much joy as possible. Don’t forget to celebrate accomplishments, even as time is flying by.

Below is a sample”To Do” list for the end of the school year from our book,

View original 197 more words

Surviving and Thriving During the Last Weeks of the School Year

April 27, 2015

Originally posted on From Surviving to Thriving:

Now that spring has arrived in most areas of the continental United States, students and teachers alike are noticing the signs that the end of the school year is coming. From conversations with other teachers, I know that many of you have just completed some type of standardized testing. Some teachers and students may be fatigued, but it is important to make the most of all the time we have left.

What do you do now to engage student interest and ensure that high level learning continues right through the end of school? Master teachers teach to the end, just like athletes go all out all the way through the finish line.

“The race isn’t over until you cross the finish line. You’ll be surprised at how much can change in the last twenty strides.” —Jackie Dugall

Getting Ready for the Last Weeks of School

  • If you haven’t already, take time…

View original 531 more words

Sharing Our Love of Picture Books by Katherine Sokolowski

April 17, 2015
Featured Image -- 3309

Linda C.:

An excellent post on the value of picture books. Picture books are so important for all ages!

Originally posted on Nerdy Book Club:

It was this photo that started it. Nine weeks ago I looked up from a reading conference with a student and saw this, took the photo, and posted it to Facebook and Instagram.


It really wouldn’t be an unusual sight in my classroom of fifth graders. When we have independent work time, kids read and write what they would like. At any given time you might see some students writing a blog, others working on a presentation, some reading from their independent books, some talking to each other about their reading, and many kids reading picture books. I pop around, child to child, and talk to them about their reading and writing. It is one of my favorite parts of the day.

This photo, however, inspired Jennifer Shettel to contact me. Jennifer is an Associate Professor at a university in Pennsylvania. She wanted me to share with her class of…

View original 794 more words

We Love Ivan

April 3, 2015

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been working on a new teacher resource for Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate.  This is the nonfiction picture book followup to the novel, The One and Only Ivan . . .  which we absolutely loved. We are excited about the new picture book too!! I have enjoyed getting to know the real Ivan as I worked on the read-aloud guide. This is an awesome nonfiction book for the classroom. We love it too!Ivan: The Remarkable True Story Read-Aloud Guide

In leafy calm,

in gentle arms,

a gorilla’s life began.

Katherine Applegate


In spare, powerful words and evocative illustrations, Newbery medalist Katherine Applegate and artist G. Brian Karas present the extraordinary real story of a special gorilla.

Captured as a baby, Ivan was brought to a mall in Tacoma, Washington, to attract shoppers. Gradually, public pressure built until a better way of life for Ivan was found at Zoo Atlanta. From the Congo to America, and from a local business attraction to a national symbol of animal welfare, Ivan the Shopping Mall Gorilla traveled an astonishing distance in miles and Ivanin impact.

This is his true story. Photographs of Ivan are included in the back matter.

Houghton Mifflin

I also discovered an awesome resource on the Ivan website. The We Love Ivan section provides a forum for classrooms to share projects they have created to celebrate Ivan and his legacy. Share your #WELOVEIVAN stories and pictures and see what other classrooms are doing.

Katherine Applegate tells the true story of Ivan in her new picture book

If you haven’t read The One and Only Ivan in your classroom, you should. Check out our Ivan  Novel Study and Unit Plan on TPT ,and NOW our newest product is available on TPT, Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla Read-Aloud Guide.

Ivan Story Cube

Follow us on TPT and Facebook.

Related Posts:


April is National Poetry Month

April 1, 2015




Poems are like messages in a bottle sent out with little hope of finding a recipient. Those of us who find and read poems become their unknown addresses.

From How to Read a Poem (and Fall in Love with Poetry)

by Edward Hirsch Poetry Foundation

As I prepared for today’s post, I again realized I am not as poetic as I would like. I am not as comfortable as I would like to be in my appreciation or teaching of poetry. I know that it is an essential part of who we are. It tells our histories, our dreams, and our secret aspirations, but most importantly it is a creative tool to communicate all of the above.

While we hope that poetry is appreciated in your classroom throughout the year, April is a reminder that our children deserve an opportunity to learn to love poetry.

Have a great day!


Resources for Teaching and Appreciating Poetry

Please share with us the ways you teach poetry in your classroom. Comments are welcome.

Updated and reblogged from our March 30, 2012 post.

Avoid Teacher Burnout: Help a Colleague

March 31, 2015

The end of the school year is approaching quickly. Whether you are on spring break or have just come back from your break, this post has awesome ideas for finishing the school year healthy and strong.Reducing Teacher Stress

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.   Carl Sandburg


Check out Linda Neiman’s recent blog post. . . .

Avoid Teacher Burnout: Help a Colleague.


%d bloggers like this: