O Is For Obedience

Today we're talking about obedience 
with Katie at Teacher to the Core.

A first-grade teacher out in CA, Katie candidly discusses citizenship in her post about obedience and ... drum roll please ... has a freebie download for us. Thank you, Katie, for your exquisite take on helping nurture an obedient heart in our superheroes.

Before we talk rules here, let's talk bulletin boards. 

Click picture to download lettering from google docs.

If you've been a reader for a while, then you know that I take care of about ten boards at my school, so yesterday I went up there to get my first one put together. I was feeling really good about it, until Mrs. Huckabee came by and asked why I was decorating the new teacher's bulletin board. Sometimes we need to be flexible, don't we. Maybe Fred can just take this one down and swap boards? Yeah, probably not. Fingers crossed the superheroes just happens to be her theme, too. If not, I've already had two Westwood moms offer to help me move this design to another one of my boards. Our Principal said if I do move it, to make sure that it's in a high-visibility area. Isn't that all so super sweet?

Anyway, on to obedience. Superheroes obey the rules. In fact, they fight for justice against those who don't, which is why I felt like it was important to talk about obedience in the book.

At different times and for different reasons, we may want to skirt or stretch the rules. Ever find yourself in the fast check-out at the grocery store with more than twelve items? Ever know anyone who drives with a radar detector in his/her car? Have you ever been tempted to order off the kids' menu for a child who was older than the specified age limit?

Rules are in place to keep us safe, so it's important that we follow them. Ask your superheroes if it's ever okay to question those rules; it'll make for a riveting discussion. There are, in fact, rules that it's appropriate to challenge. 
This would be a good time to pose the question: What rule might you consider a peaceful protest against? It might even be engaging to let students stage a protest. {Just a thought ...}

Use a bubble map to compare and contrast these two books:
What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick
and If Everybody Did by JoAnn Stoval.

How do you teach obedience in your classroom?
And is there room for flexibility, discussion, negotiation? 

And if you'd like to be transparent with your students, answer this with them: What rules do you personally find most difficult to abide by and/or obey? I was the one tempted to order those kids' meals a little longer than we qualified for them ... well, sure, it's says up to age ten, but she only turned eleven eleven days months ago ... O is for obedience.


Talking In Circles

Today I'm excited because look what came in the mail from my friends at the Josephson Institute of Ethics in CA. It's one of their AmAzInG new products 
that I predict you're going to love.

The best part? They're available for all grades K-12. 
I've got the one for grades 6-8 opened up right now and I'm looking at the September, Week 1 page. Basically, there's a quote or a story (with some activities sprinkled in as well) followed by some open-ended reflection questions to get your superheroes thinking,  kind of like this:

Grade 6: What does the quote mean to you? What makes you happy? How does what you say make others happy?
Grade 7: Give three examples of ways in which you can reframe something you've said to make it more positive, happier. What can you do to change what you're about to say before you say it?
Grade 8: Think of three people who always use uplifting words. What character traits do these people have in common? How do these traits help them succeed?

That's it. Five meaningful minutes. More if you've got the time. Use it with a think, pair, share. Have them think about it silently, then find a partner and swap thoughts. Finally, come back to whole group for highlights and closure, time permitting, of course. They'd work well for writing prompts, too.

Imagine if this were planted in your talking circles each day. 
I'm so grateful to Character Counts! for this positively impactful product. 
Click the picture of the product for purchasing info.

Tomorrow our book study continues at Teacher To The Core. I can't wait to read what Katie has to say about obedience.


R Is For Responsibility

Happy Tuesday evening. I hope that things are going well in your corner of the world. My week started Sunday at Camp Lone Star with my family for their annual BBQ fundraiser. It's always so good to all be together, especially in a place whose theme this year is True Peace.

I spent the night in San Antonio and had the pleasure of speaking to a group of music teachers Monday morning. Here's the winner of our character cape.

I spent some relaxing time at my friend Mary's place Monday night, then today on my way home, I met two beautiful teacher bloggers {Cheryl from Crayons and Curls and Lynda from Curls and a Smile} and enjoyed a fantastic luncheon. Life is good.

I came home to a wonderful Chapter 8 post over at 
Hippo Hooray For Second Grade {here}.
Thank you, Angela, for your thoughtful review.

Ah, responsibility, the ability to respond.
This is a great graphic to illustrate that all-important virtue.

These critters live at Mary's little house on the prairie. And her response? She's found a way for them to co-exist. In fact, she doesn't just leave them alone, she feeds them. She's been doing it for five years. It was funny last night, actually, because when Mary didn't get dinner to the mama raccoon in what it thought was a timely manner, that cute coon actually came knocking at the front door. I couldn't believe it. She also feeds the bees, the birds, and the deer. Mary takes responsibility for nature, naturally. It was so much fun to experience.

Anyway, responsibility is about choices and chores. 
Check out this comprehensive chore Pinterest page {here}.
We've designed this CHORE Bingo Board for your chore champs.
Brainstorm a list of at least 30 age-appropriate chores that students could handle. Write them on the white board and ask students to copy their favorite 24 randomly on the Bingo card. While they're writing out their cards, you'll have to write them on a piece of paper and cut it into strips, one chore per slip. Then you'll be ready to play. The first player to get five in a row {or four corners and the middle} is the winner, but in all reality, it's the kids who have chores who are the winners, because they learn early on to take responsibility. 

Oh, and don't forget to talk about stakeholders with your students. A stakeholder is anyone who has a stake in your decisions, anyone who cares about your choices. It's an important concept, and it's never too early to get them thinking about whom their choices are going to affect, either positively or negatively.

After a riveting game of BINGO and a discussion about stakeholders, seal the deal with the song RES-PON-SIBLE.


#Reach Higher

Today I'm delighted to share the #reachhigher project that I am proud to have joined. How fun to collaborate with over a hundred school counselors 
as we set SMART goals to reach higher with our students. 
A huge thank you goes to Dr. Erin Mason for her 
initiative, leadership and drive

This fits so beautifully with our next chapter,
R is for Responsibility.

Come back here Tuesday to see what Angela, a WI-blogger and teacher, has to say about this critical virtue and how she motivates and influences her second graders to be res-pon-sible.

In the meantime, how will you reach higher on this super Sunday?


E Is For Enthusiasm

Today finds us on Chapter 7, excited about enthusiasm with Lorraine from Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies. She's already written about the book once 
(a sort of teaser when we first started) here. Lorraine is one of the most enthusiastic teachers I've never met ... but all that's going to change on Monday, because she's offered to come with me to my workshop to help manage book sales. 
That, and it's an excuse for us to finally meet.

Click the banner or {here} to be ignited by her reflections. 
Super Froggy Lorraine writes with such great passion and voice that you're sure to feel a spark that could easily set the world on fire.

I'm going to be honest, this was a difficult chapter to write, because I wasn't even sure I could convince anyone that you really could teach enthusiasm. But I'm pretty sure we're not born with enthusiasm, necessarily, so I gave it a shot. Look what I spotted recently at Really Good Stuff. Thanks, Brandi. 

So where do your passions lie? 
What are you enthusiastic about? 
And how do those connect to make things happen?

In research for this post, I came across some interesting info from Consultant Barbara Glanz about Contagious Enthusiasm. Words that she equates with enthusiasm are spirit, pride, passion, morale, and attitude
{I'd have loved to be in the workshop where she gave out that handout!}

LOVE this from a Tweet Chat this morning: 

This Simple Truths clip that showcases Vince Lombardi uses the word spirit as well, but also throws in two other E words: excellence and effort.

Funny thing is, when we're passionate and enthusiastic,
everybody wins.
Days go by faster and jobs don't feel like work.

Now think about one of the most passionate people you know.
I'm going with Ron Clark.
He exudes enthusiasm from every pore. To the core.
I got to meet him once, back in 2008, and I can still feel it.

He lives his life large, with passion. I admire that.
And, in turn, I want strive to be like that.

Just for fun, I sent him a copy of the book ... and a challenge.

I know he's busy, but anything's possible ...

Dave Burgess' book Teach Like A Pirate is another treasure that challenges teachers to be passionate about what they do. Every day. In it, he wonders aloud whether teachers have lessons that they could sell tickets for. Hmmmmmm. So I sent him a copy of the book, too. Our JH teaching staff read the book over the summer and will set sail with a book study this upcoming year. I can wait to see what its ideals will ignite in them and how it will ultimately transform them. 

E is for enthusiasm. What are you enthusiastic about today?


Be The One

Today I'm excited because we have a winner for the three-month FarFaria App subscription. Congrats, Sarah Crist. I will be in touch with you to connect you with my friends at FarFaria so you can download your app directly. 

Sarah's favorite B2S book is The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. Such a sweet, sensitive story with a built-in strategy to help young ones stay connected with their loved ones even when distance separates them.

Did you know that there's another book in this series,
one that targets the problem of bullying behaviors?
Click the book cover graphic for a reading on You Tube.

Watching this video from Conscious Discipline might very well be the most important ten minutes that you'll spend today. OK, that might be a stretch, but I promise you that you will not want to miss this look at how bullying happens.

It goes all the way back to birth. The part about children with "difficult temperaments" stopped me in my tracks. I especially connected with the explanation about what a parent says our of frustration and angers and what that parent actually means. How many times was that me? 

A problem in the making ...
Now that we have this powerful information,
how do we meet the needs of those children she refers to as
"desperate for connection" effectively? Or at least a little? Because to them, a bad connection is better than no connection at all. And the part about "I don't care" meaning their brain is shut off, we've got our work cut out for us to reverse their "I don't feel cared for by anyone" feelings, because kids can't learn from someone with whom they don't have a relationship.

The virtue of "empathy is offline." WoW. 

Ok, so the video kind of ends quickly, leaving us hanging. That's because it's produced by a company that'd like you to attend their training and use their program. But you can also elevate empathy and counteract that "problem in the making" by creating a climate of caring attachments in your classroom, with your class family. Put your focus on relationships and linking our students to one another and to you. Let them talk and teach them to listen. Help them express their feelings in a healthy way. Empower them to take responsibility for their own learning so that they don't feel unworthy or disconnected. You could be the one who helps that child connect. One of the slides in my presentation has some challenging Buddy-Buzz questions:

Read Teaching kids to be nice without being bullied {here}.

One by Kathryn Otoshi is a powerful tool 
with an anti-bullying, be-the-one theme. 

Using simple color blots to serve as its characters, Otoshi makes it easy for us to connect feelings to her tale about Blue. Yellow is bright and sunny, for example, and Purple is regal. Like fire, however, Red is hot and its anger translates into bullying behavior. Red pushes Blue around and no one intervenes to make it stop. Because the other colors won't stand up to Red, they are all eventually berated and belittled. Until One comes along. One helps the other colors understand that what Red is doing is wrong. One encourages the colors to be upstanders rather than bystanders. And, in the end, when Red gets so mad that he's about to roll away, it's his true Blue friend who suggests that they co-exist ... and maybe even get along? ... with this reflective inquiry: Can Red be hot and Blue be cool?

Want a glimpse into your students' world? 
Make a Be A Buddy, Not a Bully T-chart before reading One aloud:

Check out this great review with activities for One {here}.
Watch a Vimeo using kid-made stick puppets to act out One {here}.
Don't miss this Pinterest page dedicated to One {here}.

This year, as you work to build relationships with your superheroes, 
why not challenge them with this question:
How will you be the one?

Oh, and be on the lookout in Sept. 2014 for Two!


Check back tomorrow when we go down the road to San Antonio to read what Lorraine from Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies has to say about Chapter 7: E is for Enthusiasm. Coincidentally I get to meet this blogging friend on Monday, and 
I can't wait!


H Is For Honesty

And H is for HEROES!

Superheroes. Everyday heroes.

Kid President's message to be extraordinary resonates with me
and answers my question: What's Under Your Cape? 
Thank you, Jo, for posting it to our FB page.

Visit Soul Pancake for this and more Kid President clips.

Today I'm delighted because one of those extraordinary people, 
Kim from Joy in Sixth
is reviewing Chapter 6 in our book study. 

Kim is a 30-year veteran teacher who has become one of my closest colleagues despite the fact that distance separates us geographically. Go to her JOYful blog to see how she'll use the information in Chapter 6 to help her sixth-grade superheroes soar. Honestly! Tell her I said hello when you leave your kind comments. 

One of my favorite posters about honesty tells it like it is:

Want to be trusted? Tell the truth. 

Like these, it's a virtue that must be a non-negotiable.

Click {here} for source.

My two favorite object lessons for this concept have to be 

My two favorite picture books that reinforce 
the importance of being honest are 
and The Empty Pot by Demi. Kim discusses them both in her post. 

This chapter is so important because it's the basis for friendships. If we are going to form trusting relationships, then honesty truly has to be more than just a policy. It has to be a way of life. Honest people don't cheat, lie, gossip or steal. They are loyal and keep their promises. They tell the truth, even when it might cost more than they'd like to pay. They own up to what they've done, and they work to make it right. Simply put, honest people make trustworthy friends. We can count on them because dependable and reliable. And that's what makes them super.

Here's an activity I posted a few years back at my school site:

I've listed quite of few friends-that-fit titles in Chapter 6;
what are some of your friendship faves? 


Kindsight Is 20/20

Yesterday I stumbled on this thought-provoking quote on 
couldn't refuse making another mini-poster 
using a picture I took of our orange summer sky last night.

Too often we forget to express kindness to ourselves.
What was I learning? I like that reframe.
What will you do differently today, in kindsight?

And speaking of kindness, our friends from the FarFaria app have reached out to me and kindly offered to give one lucky reader a 3-month membership. 
You can get one free story {here}.

From their website:

A World of Stories

FarFaria is an iPad app that provides the perfect story time experience. 
With more than 750 amazing children’s stories—and five new ones added each week—
story time has never been easier. Created for children ages 2-9, FarFaria helps children 
develop a passion for reading and encourages families to spend quality time reading together. 
FarFaria’s engaging story-discovery experience encourages children 
to stumble into new stories they’ll love forever.


  • Unlimited reading from our library of more than 750 stories.
  • Five new, engaging stories added every week.
  • Interactive experience is fun for kids and easy for parents
  • Every story can be read aloud with a Read-to-Me feature.
  • Reading-level badge on every story cover.
  • Offline access to read Favorite stories
  • No advertising. No hidden fees.

As you know, my iPad mini and apps are oh-so-very-new to me, but I downloaded it, signed in, and chose a level 2 book called Can't Catch Caitlyn. I let the device read it to me and watched in awe as this software (are apps actually software?) highlighted the words in blue as they were being read to me.  

Read it again, this time without audio.
Encourage your child read it all by himself the third time.

I marveled at how far we've come and secretly hoped that something like this wouldn't ever replace the old-fashioned lap that we used to sit atop. Then I started to think about talking points within this short story, thinking of some questions whose answers aren't fixed, like this:
*Is it fair the Caitlyn has an earlier bedtime than her brother? 
*What would happen if you talked back to your parents? 
*What about if you ran from them?
*How do you predict they'll catch Caitlyn? 
*What do you think Grandma is knitting and for whom?
*Why is it important to brush our teeth before bed?

Celebrate the touchdown with a photo finish 
and make an album for your rocket reader.   

If you want to win a membership for this cool reading-enrichment app, just tell us in the comments what your favorite Back-to-School book is. The Gruener Generator will randomly pick the winner this Friday, July 25th, at 1 pm central. Check back that afternoon to see if it's you! 
Today I want to express my gratitude at the halfway mark in the book study for all of the character educators who've caped up to share their reflections, thoughts, and ideas for extension. Two bloggers who weren't on the list have reviewed the book as well, so here are those links. Please tell them I sent you to help me thank them for their love and support.

And one of my character role models, Dr. Michele Borba, tweeted this sweet endorsement out to her followers yesterday:

  Our crusade continues tomorrow and takes us into August
with this star-studded blogging line-up:

I predict it'll be super!


R Is For Respect

Today I'm excited because I got to don my character cape yesterday. 
It happened when I asked the winner of the book at 
if I should personalize her copy or sign it generically to make it a 
pay-it-forward copy. She chose the latter and asked that it be signed To Teachers Everywhere so that when she's done reading, she can pass it along to move the message forward. And, since she happens to live in WI, the ripple will be starting in my home state ... can you see why I'm soaring?

Today the focus of our book study is something that made Aretha Franklin famous: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

And our super leaders are Tiffani at Time 4 Kindergarten 

Just look at Amy's little caped crusader ... my heart swells!

Thank you, Tiffani and Amy.

Need a few ideas to help enrich the concept of respect?

Ask students to write a jingle based on Aretha's song. Challenge students to think about something they've noticed that could use more respect. Brainstorm these concerns and make a list. Then have students write a little ditty. 

Here's an example. You notice that your neighbors are leaving their empty garbage cans on the curb instead of bringing them in after the trash has been picked up. Illustrate a poster for your campaign and pair it with a jingle that goes something like this:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T; keep your street curb garbage-can free.

Stray cats or dogs in your neighborhood? Sound off for respect by posting a billboard-style sign that says:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T; please put animals on a leash.

Use this activity to reinforce poems and rhyming. Hang the campaign posters around the school ... or better yet, in the businesses of your community partners ... to remind your stakeholders to always show respect, not only to self and others, but also to property. .

My favorite book to teach respect?  Hey, Little Ant

My favorite respect for difference movie clip? 
This AdOrAbLe song from Stellaluna:

Sesame Street has a respect clip {here}.

Finally, we always chant or sing to seal the deal:

We are almost halfway through our SUPERHEROES acrostic.
Come back Thursday to read what Kim from Joy in 6th 
has to say about honesty.

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