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We Love Ivan

March 25, 2015

Linda C.:

Awesome book and resource……

Originally posted on Thriving LjL:

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.  (Resource coming soon I hope.) 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!!


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…

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Free Downloads for Educators

March 25, 2015

Linda C.:

Check out this freebie!

Originally posted on Thriving LjL:

Our TPT store has FREE downloads you can use in your classroom.


I have previously written about the uses of Twitter in education.  I’m a big fan. Have you noticed your students are big fans too?

Use this twitter activity to brainstorm or formatively assess student learning. Our Twitter Activity includes directions and Twitter templates to use with students. This activity can be used as an Exit Slip to create a classroom visual. This product is a zip file which includes a PDF with directions and an editable Word 2010 Twitter Card document.twitter1

Browse our store and get this Free Download.

We would love to hear how you use it in your classroom. Add your ideas to the comment section below.



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GOGO: Active Participation Strategy for the Classroom

March 24, 2015

Research supports the connection between movement and learning.

Some of the smartest things teachers can do are the simplest. When we keep students active, we keep their energy levels up and provide their brains with the oxygen-rich blood needed for highest performance. Teachers who insist that students remain seated during the entire class period are not promoting optimal conditions for learning.

Teaching with the Brain in Mind, 2nd Edition (2005) by Eric Jensen.

You’ve just finished a short lecture and now it’s time to see what students know. It is also time to get their brains and bodies moving.

GOGO (Give One Get One) is a simple way and fun way to do this.

  1. Give students a recording grid.
  2. Have students jot down 3 ideas they learned from the lesson.
  3. Direct them to get up and find a partner. (Remember to greet your partner.)
  4. GIVE ONE idea from your list to your partner. GET ONE idea for your list from your partner.
  5. Record the new idea. (Remember to say, “Thank you.”)
  6. Move on to a new partner and repeat the process.
  7. If your list and your partner’s list are identical, you must brainstorm together any ideas that can be added to both your lists.
  8. Continue until time is called. Use a Whip to share whole class.Exchange no more than one idea with any given partner.gogo1

GOGOIt is a simple way to use formative assessment to check for understanding and it gives students both movement, and  social interaction to hear and share ideas… make meaning.

Have a great day!


International Day of Happiness

March 19, 2015

March 20 is the 2015 International Day of Happiness. Join the movement!

happiness day

Happiness can be taught. Some of us were taught by our parents, a grandparent or even a teacher.  It can be modeled daily in your classroom and in your interactions with students, colleagues, family, acquaintances and even strangers. Life really is what you make of it. (Insert your favorite cliché here.) There’s a body of research to support this and the implications for your classroom are enormous. What can you do daily to foster a safe and positive classroom environment that will encourage more laughter and happiness?

The good news: happiness skills are not hard to learn. It just takes time and practice. Neuroscientist Richard Davidson compares learning happiness to playing tennis. “You won’t end up in Wimbledon the first week, but if you keep on practicing, you absolutely will get better at it.” Though some students just appear to have a happier disposition and outlook, anyone can become happier. According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., a social psychologist at University of California, Riverside, happiness is influenced by our genes, environment, and also by the activities that we engage in.

  • 50% of happiness is influenced by genetic causes
  • 10% is influenced by environmental factors
  • 40% is influenced by intentional activities



What can you do? Plan to do something each day to make those around you (especially your students and colleagues) happier.

5 Ways to spread happiness daily:

  1. Greet colleagues and strangers with a smile. Try it as you walk down the street and the hallway.
  2. Hold the door open at the cafeteria or market and let someone else go first.
  3. Write a thank you note or email to someone to let them know how important they are to you. (Think secretary, custodian, or my principal.)
  4. Use please and thank you in all your social interactions.
  5. Acknowledge the beauty of the world and those around you.

Plan to give your students a daily opportunity to make happy.

5 Ways to model happiness for your students:

  1. Greet your students at the door with a smile!happy face
  2. Begin the day or the class period with a time for students to share. What are you happy about, proud of ….? (Get to know your students.)
  3. Read a book. One of my favorites is Have You Filled a Bucket Today?  Follow up with a journal writing activity. (It works for older kids too. We’re never too old to spread happiness.)
  4. Share a story of students making a difference. Give your students an opportunity to complete a service project for their school or community.
  5. Play music. Invite your students to share their favorite music and add it to your playlist. #HappySoundsLike



Make Friday and everyday HAPPY!

A New Product Blog

March 17, 2015

We published our first post on this blog July 13, 2010. Since then we have had over 39,000 views from 145 countries outside the US, and we have published 176 posts. We have shared relevant advice and resources to support teachers in their classrooms. We appreciate the positive feedback and support we have received.

Many of you know that a little over two years ago we began developing and marketing our own curriculum products in our online store on  Teachers Pay Teachers, an open market place for educators. These are high quality products based on the tenets of Best Practice and  are CCSS aligned. Reviews and feedback have been overwhelmingly positive, and we are committed to expanding our store and product line to meet the needs of committed and busy educators. We are boldly moving forward.

Currently we have two blogs. This blog, From Surviving to Thriving, maintained and authored by Linda Carpenter and Surviving to Thriving LjL maintained and authored by Linda Neiman. Linda and I both enjoy writing and sharing with other teachers, but are careful about over promoting and marketing our products. So, we have created a new blog that will we will use to market our products. We will be sharing our products along with ideas and resources, and yes, more advice. If you are interested please follow our new blog, Thriving LjL for information on our current products, new product releases, and ideas for using them in your classroom. Sign up to receive email updates from any or all of our blogs!

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We appreciate your follows and your feedback. Please let us know how we can best serve your needs.



Reducing Teacher Stress

March 10, 2015
Reducing Teacher Stress

The end of the school year always becomes stressful. Teachers have an abundance of responsibilities that require time, effort, and planning. There are demands from administrators, parents, students, and your own family and friends. It is important to be aware of and recognize the stress teachers face daily.

Recognize stress in your life. . .


Feelings Associated with Stress:

  • Anxious
  • Scared
  • Angry
  • Frustrated
  • Moody

Thoughts You May Have If You Are Stressed:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Fear of Failure
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Worrying About the Future
  • Can’t Concentrate
  • Complaining About Work

Behaviors You May Show If You Are Stressed:

  • Crying
  • Grinding Your Teeth
  • Increase of a Normal Habit or Addiction
  • Losing Your Appetite or Overeating
  • Increased Heart Rate, Breathing or Sweating
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Neck and Lower Back Pain

Ways to Reduce Your Stress

  1. Become Aware of How You React In Stressful Situations.happy face
  2. Be Positive, Speak Positive, Think Positive.
  3. At the end of the school day, think about all the things you achieved and finished rather that what you didn’t have time to get done.
  4. Learn to say NO to certain requests and after school duties. You can’t do EVERYTHING, and you shouldn’t.
  5. Understand and Accept that a teacher is not a SUPER HERO and we do have limits.

adapted from

A Practical Approach . . .

Getting Ready for the Last Weeks of School

  • If you haven’t already, take time to look at what you are going to teach for the remaining time.
  • Be realistic. What can you teach WELL in the time left? (This may mean you leave something out.)
  • Plan instructional strategies and activities that will connect with your students’ interests. (Put on your thinking cap. Mix it up and make it fun for your students and yourself.)
  • Try something different. Take a chance.
  • Review classroom routines, procedures, and behavior expectations (often) in order to create a safe climate for learning in your classroom.
  • Remember the best way to have a productive and enjoyable end of the year is to stay organized.
  • Make general plans through the end of the year.
  • Make specific plans for each week and have copies and materials ready on Monday morning or better yet Friday afternoon.

Communicate with Students and Parents

  • Use email and phone calls to connect with parents.
  • Keep your calendar current and parents informed. We know there are field trips, assemblies, concerts, and a myriad of end of the year events.
  • Make a list of tests, projects, and assignment due dates for yourself and your students. Share these with parents.
  • Let students and parents know when grades drop OR show improvement.

If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.– Lee Iacocca

Take Care of You

  • Your health is important.
  • Use exercise to manage stress. Find time for a walk or a run.
  • Eat nutritiously to stay well and healthy. Plan nutritious meals each weekend and shop for all the ingredients. Consider cooking on Sunday for the week.
  • Make time for you, your family, and your friends.

Finish Strong

  • Don’t forget to not only make the most of your time left, but to enjoy it. Smile. Positivity is infectious.
  • Celebrate growth for you and your students.
  • Plan time for reflection. Start now to plan for a better next year.

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

 Make a Plan to Reduce Stress:

Set two goals that will help you deal with stress and finish the school year strong. Set one personal goal and one professional goal to work on for the remainder of the year. Remember to choose a goal that you can control. Include strategies that you think of to implement your goal.

 My personal goal for reducing stress:


My professional goal for reducing stress:


We’d love to hear what you are doing to plan for the end of the year and reduce stress.


World Read Aloud Day 2015

March 3, 2015

March 4, 2015 is World Read Aloud Day

World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people. By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their futures: that they have the right to read, to write, and litworldWRAD15logo-webto share their stories.

World Read Aloud Day allows members of our year-round programs to invite more people into their literacy community and brings LitWorld’s messages to the rest of the world. World Read Aloud Day is now celebrated by over one million people in more than 80 countries and reaches over 31 million people online. The growth of our movement can be attributed in large part to our network of partner organizations and “WRADvocates” – a group of reading advocates and supporters taking action in their communities and on social media.

LitWorld World Read Aloud Day


Global Literacy Statistics
LitWorld works to cultivate a new generation of leaders, storytellers and academic achievers, effecting change for themselves, their communities, and the world. Our campaigns mobilize children and adults from around the world to advocate for literacy as a human right that belongs to all people.
  • Reading aloud to children every day puts them almost a year ahead of children who do not receive daily read alouds regardless of parental income, education level or cultural background. (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research)
  • According to the latest data (2014), 793 million adults–two thirds of them women–lack basic reading and writing skills. (UNESCO)
  • Since 1985, the female adult literacy rate has risen 15%, which is about double the growth of the male literacy rate in the same time period. (UNESCO)
  • On tests involving 4,500 to 10,000 students in 43 countries, half of the girls said they read for at least 30 minutes a day, compared with less than one-third of the boys. (UNESCO)
  • Even though the size of the global illiterate population is shrinking, the female proportion has remained virtually steady at 63 to 64%. (UNESCO)
  • Among the youth population, female literacy rates have been rising quickly. Nonetheless, three out of five youths lacking basic reading and writing skills are young women. (UNESCO)
  • If all children in low-income countries left school literate, 171 million people could move out of poverty. (World Literacy Foundation)
  • Poorly-literate individuals are less likely to participate in democratic processes and have fewer chances to fully exercise their civil rights (UNESCO)
  • A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five than a child born to an illiterate woman. (UNESCO)
  • A literate and educated girl is three times less likely to acquire AIDS, she will earn at least 25% more income, and she will produce a smaller, healthier family. (UNESCO)
  • Illiterate people earn 30-42% less than their literate counterparts. (World Literacy Foundation)

UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Again this year I am promoting World Read Aloud Day, because I do imagine a world where everyone can read. Please join the movement in your classroom.

If you are looking for an engaging and fun activity for the winter doldrums, check the links below for some great classroom activities and ideas.

We have been adding to our Novel Study and Read-Aloud products on Teachers Pay Teachers. Check out our store, Surviving to Thriving LjL,  for quality curriculum materials for your classroom. 1361495

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