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Do you have a sunshine committee (or events committee) at your school? If you don't, you need to hop on that train, ASAP! As part of the Sunshine Committee and admin team, we try to make our teachers and staff feel appreciated whenever we can. 
I used to work at a school filled with negative vibes. (I know we've all dealt with a Debbie Downer teacher.) Honestly, i'm a huge believer that your vibe attracts your tribe! Our Sunshine Committee and the uplifting environment in our school has had the power to transform many non-believers. 😉 
Sometimes it's just the little things that can completely change the vibe at your school. Stuck at a difficult school with a difficult staff? Maybe all it takes is YOU to make the difference and influence those around you!

 We walk around the hallways with our  cart to distribute treats and smiles to our staff. Sometimes it can be as a simple as offering some afternoon coffee. So if you're looking into creating a Sunshine Committee at your school, i'll share some treat ideas that we've done for our team.


1. Welcome goody bags filled with donut holes. Download the Donut Tag FREEBIE here.


2. Welcome treat for our SRO officer. Download the SRO Tag FREEBIE here.


3. Teacher Appreciation treat! Download the Latte Tag FREEBIE here.


4. Treats for our dismissal team. (We have the silent dismissal program at our school.)


5. 100 calorie snack bars for the 100th day of school!


6. Halloween treats and beverages.





8. Cinco de Mayo Nacho & Guac bar! (Wish I had pictures of the actual taco bar!)


I hope your Sunshine Committee brings lots of joy and positivity to your school!
Don't forget to tag me (@sweettoothteaching) in your sunshine committee photos!
Literacy centers was my absolute favorite time of the day when I was in the classroom! It's the perfect time to sit down with my struggling kiddos and focus on exactly what they need. It's also the perfect time to sit down with my high kiddos and push them to their fullest potential.
I've always worked at a Title 1 school with inclusive classrooms. What does this mean? ALL OF MY STUDENTS were at different levels! I've had ESOL students, gifted, students with IEP's and 504s, and all the things in ONE classroom. This calls for some serious differentiated instruction!
So, throughout my teaching career I learned to spend less time on whole-group instruction and more time on DI. 
I'll give you a glimpse of what my Literacy Centers looks like. 
Planning & Set-up of Centers
First off, I group my students based on abilities. I usually use test scores, teacher judgement, or just a specific skill the group might be struggling with. I change groups around every quarter or on an as-needed basis. I give each group a name that matches the theme of my classroom. Since last year's theme was travel, our center groups were names after continents.
(Make sure to display the group names and members somewhere visible in my classroom.)

I use a piece of velcro to move the groups around the centers.
I've also used this template for centers:


Next up-- decide how often your groups will rotate and what kind of DI plan you want to put in place. 
In my case, I usually see one to two groups a day. Some teachers choose to see three groups and just spend 15 minutes with each group. I rather see less groups and spend more time with each one.
It's totally up to you!

My literacy centers are: reading comprehension, teacher-led, word work, and technology.

 Here's a glimpse inside my DI lesson plan:



This template shows one rotation a day. (Fridays are consumed by testing, which doesn't give us much time for centers!)

You can grab this template along with the Literacy Workshop board in my TPT store.
I use this template on the weeks that i've decided to do two rotations.


Choosing Activities for Centers:
I have SO many center games, task cards, and resources that i've gathered over the years! (The majority of them are from TPT or hand-made resources) They're organized in bins and ziplock bags for easy access!


My DI plans are created based on specific needs I see in my class or skills we're working on. For example, if a group of kiddos bombed a cause/effect test the previous week, we'll focus on cause & effect in our teacher-led center the next week. If we're working on punctuation during whole-group instruction, i'll create a punctuation activity for our word work center. 

I LOVE incorporating task cards in our comprehension center! The kiddos love working with one another and helping each other out with our weekly comprehension skill. I differentiate the independent centers as well. Each group has a different set of task cards depending on their level. (multiple choice, fill in the blank, & 'create your own' options) 

I usually assign a group 'leader' for the month. This person is in charge of making sure everyone understands the activity and is on task. The kiddos know they are not allowed to come interrupt my teacher-led center unless their head is on fire. Literally. 

An anchor chart like this one from @miss2ndgrade would really help. 😉

Word work center is usually the most engaging one! I try to include hands-on activities like this one. We used lucky charms as punctuation marks (each bag was labeled with the punctuation mark it represented) The kiddos had to read the passage together and decide which mark belonged at the end of each sentence.

We also work on vocabulary, spelling, and grammar skills in our word work center.

Our teacher-led center is where the true differentiation magic happens! Every group has a different activity based on their needs. In this case, this group needed some extra TLC with their text-based writing. We used the RACE strategy to identify the components of a paragraph.

We also use leveled readers, work on debriefing cold read passages, and play comprehension games during teacher-led. I try to switch up the activities so the kiddos are always excited to come to see me. 

And that's about it! Literacy centers can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but I promise that once you get into the routine, it's a piece of cake! You'll see the most learning and growth when your kiddos are engaged in the proccess. 
"How do I get started on TPT?", "How do I know if I can use certain fonts and clipart in my products?"
These are some of the questions I get on a daily basis.
So, I've decided to let you guys in on a little background of my TPT history and provide you with some tips on how you can open up your own TPT store! 
I'll start by saying that I am in no way a TPT expert or millionaire. lol  I learn something new every day and am constantly trying to grow and better myself in this business. However, I will also say that it is NOT difficult to start your own store! I feel like this is a very common misconception. 
I opened up my TPT store in 2014. I had zero experience creating or selling online but decided to give it a shot! I did some research on Copyrights and what programs
to use. Here's what I learned:
Using Fonts & Clipart on TPT Products
  • If you are including clipart, fonts, or photographs in your products, you MUST purchase a license for commercial use. The majority of the clipart and fonts sold on TPT are for commercial use. Meaning, once you purchase these images/font you are allowed to use them in your products. Credit is not always required, however it is nice to include a credits page at the end of your product. 
  • You may find free downloadable fonts online. However, that does not mean you're allowed to use them in your products. Make sure to always read the Terms of Use for every clipart or font you download.
Once I purchase a font or clipart set, I like to make a note of it so that I know I have permission to use it. 

Some of my favorite font sellers are:

Some of my favorite clipart sellers are:

Programs for Creating TPT Resources
  • I've found that powerpoint is the easiest program to use when creating resources! It's very practical and allows you to drag images and text around.
  • Adobe Acrobat allows you to secure your PDF files and ensure that all of the clipart is locked and cannot be stolen. 
Upgrading to a Premium Account on TPT

I started creating resources for my students and it slowly turned into my creative outlet. I created my first product in June of 2014 and did not make a sale until July of 2014. You guys, I was so excited about that $1.20. 

I made a little over $100 throughout my first year of TPT selling. During my second year, I made a little over $2,000. I was SO excited and could not believe that I had made that off just creating worksheets on PowerPoint! In 2016, I decided it was worth upgrading to a premium account. Now I would get to keep a larger portion of my sales. I recommend upgrading to a premium account once you start seeing a significant amount of sales. There is no need to purchase a premium account right away! (It's $60 a year.)
Marketing your TPT Products

Now, I will tell you that creating resources can be time consuming. However, promotion and marketing are KEY in making sales. As soon as I opened up my store, I created my Instagram page @SweetToothTeaching which focused on all things educational. I took snapshots of activities in my classroom, organizational hacks, classroom decor, and glimpses of my products in action.  Using hashtags, I searched for other teacher accounts and just started following as many as I could! Soon enough, I had also gained a handful of followers. I started commenting on photos that inspired me and creating relationships with other teachers across this digital space. The online teacher community is honestly AMAZING and extremely helpful. Featuring my products on Instagram and Pinterest really helped me make sales over on TPT. 

Here are some tips for marketing on Instagram/Pinterest:
  • DON'T just post product covers on your feed. (I started by making this mistake.)
  • DO display your products in action in your classroom. 
  • DON'T ask for followers.
  • DO follow accounts you feel passionate about and comment on photos that truly inspire you.
  • DO join collaborative boards and pinning parties. You can find tons of seller forums on the TPT site. This is a great space for networking.
  • DO be honest and REAL about your posts and content. This is what will truly lead you to gain an authentic following and eventually make sales. 
Keeping up with TPT

I try my very best to keep track of my products and constantly brainstorm new ideas. I also like to keep track of my monthly sales and monitor which products are selling the most. This will give me an idea as to what kind of resources to create next. 

This year I am vowing to set aside at least one hour a week to checking emails and responding to questions on TPT. This is definitely my weak area and something I struggle with. I have created a handout for which includes product names and future updates. This will help me keep track of older products that might need some tweaking or additions requested by buyers. 

Getting Started on TPT!


Teachers Pay Teachers has forever changed my life. Thanks to TPT, my husband and I were able to have a beautiful wedding, travel to Bali, and buy our first home within the same year. (We do have income from our jobs, but TPT also played a significant role in all of this.) 

This is why I feel the need to constantly encourage my teacher friends to open up their own store. This business has taught me how to grow as a person and entrepreneur. It has forced me to step out of my comfort zone by reaching out to others and building relationships. Most of all, it has showed me the value of hard work and dedication.

Like I said before, I am obviously not a TPT expert. However, I absolutely LOVE sharing tips and tricks with teachers that are trying to get their store started. I have a tips & tricks highlight on my Instagram feed @SweetToothTeaching where I share Powerpoint tips for creating resources.

If there is anything else you would like to learn more about, feel free to reach out and let me know!


If you know me, you know how much I love classroom transformations! Yes, I know they are a lot of work to prep for. No, I don't do a classroom transformation every week. However, they are truly a magical experience for our kiddos! All the hard work that goes into prepping for one is TOTALLY worth it at the end of the day. 
When I do a classroom transformation, I make sure i'm focusing on a skill or strategy that is difficult for my kiddos to grasp. The key to a transformation is engagement in rigorous content. 
This year my kiddos were extremely overwhelmed with the upcoming state writing assessment. (FSA) We had been reviewing the components of an essay, using transition words, editing, etc. for a WHILE and let's just say we were loosing our minds. So, I decided to engage them with a surprise "Construction Writing Week"


 Ya'll, a transformation doesn't have to be over the top! I didn't spend much to flip this room and my fourth graders were beyond excited when they walked in.

This post contains affiliated links, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may make a commission. This is at no additional cost to you.
Items I purchased:
(They were a bit small for some of my fourth graders, but we made it work!)

I split up the class into four groups. Each group worked at a different station for about 30-45 minutes. We spent the entire week on this unit since some of the activities did take some time. Once a group  completed a station and I checked their work, they were able to move on to the next station.

The 'Transitioning Through Writing' station focused on incorporating transition words. The kiddos had to read the passage and decide which transition words fit best in each sentence. This was definitely the most challenging, yet exciting station for them!


We worked on our grammar skills to sort complex, simple, and compound sentences.


This station required them to break apart the text to identify the topic sentence, key ideas, supporting details, and transition words. Once kids are able to find these components in a passage, they're able to understand why it's so important to include these in their own writing. 

Time to spice up some sentences! We added adjectives and elaborated on the 'simple' sentences written on each card.

The "Piece is Together" station focused on putting an essay together like a puzzle. Let's just say this required LOTS of teamwork. 😉 We identified the important components of an essay such as: introduction, key ideas, and conclusion.

We also worked on reviewing those frequently misspelled words that some adults still just can't figure out. They're and their?... your and you're?... yeah, I refuse to let my fourth graders go into the adult world misusing those. #GrammarCop 

We had over 12 stations/activities throughout the course of the week. Writing Construction week was definitely a success and the perfect engagement right before state testing! 

You can grab this pack in my TPT Store if you're interested in transforming your room.





Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Walmart.


It is BACK TO SCHOOL TIME! Do you know what that means? SCHOOL SUPPLIES. Let’s be honest, you know we all dream about the smell of a brand new pack of Crayola crayons. 

I recently discovered a very convenient tool for teachers. You can now upload your school supply list to Walmart. Parents can easily access your list on the site and order directly to their home or school! This makes their shopping experience 1,000 times better. Because seriously, who has time to tackle the in-store madness during Back to School season? 

Not only that, but Walmart is the most affordable spot for school supplies. I don’t think anyone can beat two packs of Crayola crayons for $1.00. 

GIVE ME ALL THE CRAYONS.
The best part is you can upload your list in just about any format. So yes, you may keep those cute PDF and PNG supply list templates!

Keep in mind that with this supply list uploader, parents can shop whichever way works best for them - online or in stores. (For those that do have time for in-store shopping, haha) They can even use the Walmart app and decide whether they want ‘Pick Up in Store’, ‘Shipped to Store’ or just have their online purchases shipped to their house.

Walmart is seriously school supply heaven and is stocked EVERYTHING the kiddos can possibly need! With this convenient access to local teachers' supply list, parents don’t have to run from store to store searching for that 3 inch binder or the purple folder you asked for. 

Here’s how I keep parents in the loop about this easy tool: A few weeks before school starts, I send a postcard out to my kiddos. It’s a cute way to introduce myself and let them know I am looking forward to meeting them. It’s also a great way to inform parents about our online supply list and allows them to get a head start on shopping. 



During our Open House, many parents already bring in supplies. For those that may not have received the post card or just haven’t purchased the supplies yet, I create a “Supply Corner” where parents can scan the QR code and access my list.

These are some of the items on my supply list this year. I recently added Flair Pens since I now allow my students to use them in their interactive notebooks! 




I hope this online Walmart list uploader helps your 2018-2019 school year run smoothly! 



This post has been sponsored by FIVE STAR® school supplies. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 


If you've followed along throughout my teaching journey, then you probably know how much of an interactive notebook fan I am! I've been using interactive notebooks in my classroom since my first year of teaching. We use them for reading, grammar skills, math, social studies, and science! I'm very big on organization and I feel that interactive notebooks are the best way to get kiddos to go back to previous activities and use them as a guide.
Well, interactive notebooks just got a WHOLE lot better because Five Star® has designed what every teacher has been dreaming about and waiting for: notebooks designed specifically for interactive note taking!  
You guys have NO IDEA how excited I am about this product! Their interactive notebook line includes four designs: 

During the summer I like creating "mock" notebooks for my kiddos. What exactly does that mean? Well, I set interactive notebook standards VERY high in my class. Therefore, I like showing them an example of what a neat and organized notebook should look like! We spend about two weeks at the beginning of the school year practicing cutting, glueing, using markers to outline, and flair pens to write. (Yes, even in third and fourth grade!)


So, I decided to create a mock notebook for my Third Grade Addition & Subtraction Interactive Notebook Product.




I'm loving the fact that these notebooks have page numbers and a side bar. I use the side bars for headings. However, they can also be used as side notes or to workout a math problem. The column on the left-hand side is also great for bulleted list.


Since my kiddos number all of their pages, I always make sure to include a table of contents at the beginning of the notebook. Interactive notetaking is not only engaging, but also an amazing reference tool. Keeping track of previous topics helps them have a review tool for assessments. 


I know we've all been on the struggle bus with missing interactive notebook pieces. Unfortunately when assignments don't get completed on the same day, kiddos tend to 'misplace' all their precut pieces. I've tried giving them little baggies to store their pieces, but of course those get 'misplaced' as well. 🙈 Officially saying goodbye to these excuses. Thank the heavens for these amazing pockets! 




The Five Star® Customizable Interactive Notebook and composition notebook even come with a front cover pocket!

I am SO excited about this product and will definitely be putting it at the top of my supply list this August! 



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