I love to learn about teaching. I am so blessed that my career is like a holy calling and passionate hobby all rolled up into one! The other night, I was sitting in bed at 9:00 on a Friday night paging through the Fountas & Pinnell phonics resource binder for Kindergarten- just for fun. My husband said, “You are such a dork.” (But he said it lovingly, so it’s OK.)
On this page I will share my favorite teaching resources. It will be a fluid list (meaning that I’ll keep adding to it all the time!) so check back frequently. Having said that, only my top picks make this list. I read lots of books. Lots. This page is for the cream of the crop!
Favorite Professional Books for Teachers:
– Claudia Cornett is the “Queen of Arts Integration”. She has written a comprehensive text that tells you everything you need to know to get started with arts integration. I love her and I love her book. She is a fantastic speaker and if you can only buy one arts integration book- this is it.
– Wow. This book knocked my socks off! Beth Olshansky has come up with an amazing, art-centered approach to the writing workshop that has some incredible data to back it up. Basically, Beth posed the question, what would happen if we invited children to illustrate their stories first and write second? The answer led to some incredible discoveries. If you want to improve your students’ writing, read this book. There is also a website for Beth’s approach at Picturing Writing. If you’d like to see her data, click on “Effectiveness.”
In Pictures and In Words: Teaching the Qualities of Good Writing Through Illustration Study– Katie Wood Ray is a well-known writing guru- especially for working with young, developing writers in the early grades. I found this book right after I had finished The Power of Pictures (see above) and realized that they are a match made in heaven. Ray advocates the idea that the “composition” though process is the same whether you are a writer or an artist. By teaching children how to “read” visual compositions (illustrations) and create powerful images that tell a story, we can support their work as writers. It’s a fantastic book and is a perfect companion to The Power of Pictures.
Object Lessons: Teaching Math through the Visual Arts, K-5
– Every time I do professional development for a school, someone always asks me, “What about math?” It seems we can find easy connections between the arts and subjects like Social Studies, Science, and Language Arts, but Math is a bit tricky. Then I found this book! If you are looking for math connections, this book is full of them!
Moon Journals: Writing, Art, and Inquiry Through Focused Nature Study – This one might be my favorite. It’s really special. Here’s the story: two teachers in California noticed one morning that their students were asking lots of questions about the moon. They decided to do a study and incorporated visual art, music, poetry, literature, science, and other forms of creative writing. In other words, they created a beautiful unit full of wonderful, creative lessons. This easy-to-read book for teachers shares their curricular journey (and specific lessons) while also providing an inspirational road map for embarking on a similar journey with your own students on the topic of your choice. Highly recommended.
99 Activities and Greetings – This book has some great greetings and games. I use them for Morning Meetings and other times I need a quick game or activity.
The Daily Five – Back when I first started running “literacy centers” -in the 90s! Yikes!- I was killing myself trying to do it all. I spent hours setting up elaborate stations that needed to be monitored, collected and assessed. They were also thematic, so every time we changed units I had to recreate all my centers. Needless to say, it wasn’t effective. When I found the “Daily 5” book (and corresponding “Cafe” book below) I had an epiphany. It didn’t have to be so hard! I could keep my kids busy doing REAL reading and writing work and focus my time and energy on teaching and assessing the important stuff. While I don’t adopt this approach to the letter, I do think that overall the “two sisters” are on to something! (Note: It’s all about management and procedures, of course!)
The CAFE Book– If The Daily Five is about what the kids are doing during literacy block, the Cafe Book is focused on what the teacher is doing. This might be one of the most helpful books for reading teachers on the market today. Full of assessment forms (and a CD with printable copies) as well as helpful teaching tips, I recommend this book to all literacy teachers!
Reading Essentials: The Specifics You Need to Teach Reading Well by Regie Routman- I *heart* Regie Routman. I’ve had the opportunity to hear her speak at several national conferences and she always knocks my socks off. Regie knows literacy instruction. It’s hard to go wrong with any of her books, but Reading Essentials and Writing Essentials (below) are two of my favorites. You will be inspired.
Writing Essentials: Raising Expectations and Results While Simplifying Teaching (with DVD)– This is my other favorite Regie Routman book. She’s a wizard at teaching reading and writing.
Of course, there are more children’s books I recommend than space on this page! If you would like to know which ones I love, click on the book reviews category to go to all my posts that review or recommend children’s books.
Favorite Teaching Tools:
I can’t live without my gimmicks, instruments and noise-makers! Here are my favorites:
Teacher Timer (12 inch)
– This is such a cool timer because it is visual. As the time winds down, the red “pie slice” gets smaller and smaller. The children can literally “see” the time decreasing. Great to hang on a wall in a visible space and use for partner work, station rotations, etc. It also makes a beeping sound when time runs out.
– I love the Remo drum for managing my movement-based lessons. It’s a fantastic “freeze” signal. Make sure you get one of the larger sizes- 10 inches or higher- for the best sound. This link is through Amazon but you can find them through lots of different vendors. Just Google “Remo Lollipop drum” if you don’t want to use Amazon.
Metal Slide Whistle – My friend (and excellent Drama teacher), Jeff Jordan, uses all kinds of noisemakers and instruments to manage his classroom. Once we taught a workshop together and he used a slide whistle to signal start and stop times for partner work. I love it! Very unique sound that grabs student attention.
Zenergy Chime – This is another favorite for getting attention. One strike of the chime and the sound carries throughout the room. I usually tell them that the 1st chime means to wind up the conversation. The second means to stop talking. You can also purchase the 3 Tone Zenergy Chime (it’s on my wish list!)
Favorite Web-Based Resources:
Teachers Pay Teachers: This website where teachers sell their own resources and materials to other teachers is growing exponentially! I wrote a review of Teachers Pay Teachers here (summary: be a discerning shopper) but there are some excellent and helpful materials to be found on that site! One of my goals is to build my store presence to share my own “creative teaching ideas.” So far, I have one freebie- Reindeer Games– integrating movement, academics, and Christmas fun. I also have my guide to managing movement in the classroom, which is a foundational resource for teachers who want to integrate more movement. If you go visit, you might want to follow me on that site as I will continue adding to my store (freebies too!)
(Want to start selling your own materials on Teachers Pay Teachers? It’s lots of fun!)
The Responsive Classroom– This is my favorite site for all things related to classroom management and building classroom community. They publish excellent, free newsletters (I recommend signing up!) If you want to read old newsletters (always full of helpful articles) visit this page.
Sean Layne’s website, Arts Integration Consulting– Sean Layne is a national leader in arts integration. He and his wife, Melanie, are teaching artists with The Kennedy Center and Sean has developed “Acting Right”- a unique approach to introducing dramatic tableaux infused with classroom management strategies. I saw Sean and Melanie present and they are fantastic. I also love the work they have done to explore effective assessment methods for arts integrated lessons. See Documentation of Student Learning for some examples.
Pinterest– How did I ever function without Pinterest? If you haven’t joined the “Pinning” bandwagon, start now! Pinterest is a website that allows you to bookmark your favorite websites and blog posts visually. In other words, you “pin” an image from the site or post that you want to “bookmark” and assign it to one of your “pinboards” arranged by category. It’s the best thing since sliced bread. Check it out!
Artsedge: The Kennedy Center’s Arts Education Network- If you are interested in arts integration, this site is a “must visit.” There is so much here I couldn’t begin to describe it all. Articles, lesson plans, how-to guides- it’s huge.
Favorite Education Blogs:
Fairy Dust Teaching by Sally Haughey – Sally is a kindergarten teacher who is super-creative and inspiring! She integrates the arts and also has a unique Waldorf-ish approach to her teaching. She has recently re-launched her blog and is offering wonderful, high-quality e-courses. I have taken two and both were fantastic! Even if you teach older kids, there is a lot you could learn from Sally.
Deep Space Sparkle– Patty Palmer is an art teacher extraordinaire who maintains a fantastic web site for art teachers (or teachers who integrate the visual arts.) It’s a beautiful blog full of inspiring ideas.
Teach. Train. Love. – First grade teacher, Bevin Reinen, maintains a beautiful and inspiring blog with topics ranging from movement break ideas to outdoor learning. Lots of good Wonder Teaching going on over there!
ABCs of Reading – This blog is so exciting to me! Jayne Gammons is a kindergarten teacher who is an arts integration expert and advocate. Her blog is designed to match a children’s picture book with an arts area and a literacy skill or focus. Go over there and check it out- you will be inspired.