“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” by Mark Twain

I felt compelled today to do another blog post on choosing to encourage kindness in the classroom even though within the year I wrote one already on Promoting Random Acts of Kindness in the Classroom. I feel this is becoming more and more important in our world today. It is something that is so simple, doesn’t cost money and can be done by everyone. Below I put together a toolkit of resources to help encourage kindness in the classroom.

Projects and Lessons:

The Certified Kind Classroom Challenge  (From the Book Wonder)

Kindness Ninja Challenge

World Kindness Day (Nov. 13th)

Be Kind People Project

The Great Kindness Challenge

Random Acts of Kindness


Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins

How Kind! by Mary Murphy

Harry The Happy Mouse

The Berenstain Bears: Kindness Counts

Kindness Ninja: Recruiting The Team

Kindness Counts: A Story for Teaching Random Acts of Kindness 

I have more books listed on my Random Acts of Kindness blog post.


You Never Know Who’s Day You Have Helped

9 Random Acts of Kindness

A 1st Grader’s Act of Kindness Just Restored Our Faith in Humanity


The healing power of kindness

The Science of Giving: Why One Act of Kindness is Usually Followed by Another

12 Ways to Promote Kindess in the Classroom

Kindess Collection: How to Guide for the Classroom

Please share in the comments ways that you have spread kindness in your classroom or school.


“Educators should be champions of every student who enters the schoolhouse doors.” by Carol Ann Tomlinson

Guest Blog Post by Ace Parsi

The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) is proud to announce the launch of a collection of cutting-edge resources and recommendations available in one central location: Personalized Learning and Students with Disabilities. The resource hub contains information, case studies, and recommendations – all with an eye on the needs and success of students with disabilities – tailored for parents, educators, school communities and policymakers, wherever and however they may be approaching personalized learning.  Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this addition to NCLD.org is the culmination of a three-year exploration of how students with disabilities can benefit from efforts to customize their learning to align with their strengths and interests.

 This new section of NCLD.org features 13 new publications, including resources and policy recommendations for states to successfully design and implement approaches to personalized learning that fully include students with disabilities, nine practical examples of schools and districts utilizing personalized learning frameworks, and a national report exploring how these efforts can best support students with disabilities.

 In addition to working with you all, to produce these resources, NCLD worked closely with advocates, parents, educators, experts and policymakers at both the state and federal levels. NCLD worked specifically in New Hampshire, Colorado and North Carolina–three states that not only reflect geographic, demographic and political diversity, but which are also at different stages of implementing personalized learning.

 The resource hub also includes definitions and key components of personalized learning systems, key questions to ask in development and implementation, and policy and practice recommendations. The resources are customized for parentseducators, administrators and policymakers so they can use personalized learning as a way to create engaging learning environments that allow all students–including those with disabilities–to thrive. These resources build on NCLD’s recent national report, the State of Learning Disabilities, which provides state-specific resources and policy recommendations for supporting students with learning and attention issues.

NCLD believes the future of education is one where all children receive a customized learning experience. Increasing opportunities for schools to adopt a personalized learning approach will allow all students to thrive. We look forward to continuing this important work and ongoing partnership across the field to ensure innovative approaches to learning fully include students with disabilities. 

“Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood.” By John Green

Below are ten books I highly recommend that all Principals should read in no particular order. I would love to hear what books you think should be on this list as I love growing my library! Please add in the comments.

  1. Innovator Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity  by George Couros
  2. Move Your Bus: An Extraordinary New Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life by Ron Clark 
  3. Lead Like a PIRATE: Make School Amazing for Your Students by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf 

  4. The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact by Michael Fullan (He has a lot of great books but this is my favorite)

  5. Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the New Innovation Era by  Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith  
  6. Embracing a Culture of Joy: How Educators Can Bring Joy to Their Classrooms Each Day by Dean Shareski

  7. Anything by Jon Gordan, I love all his books! Soup: A Recipe to Create a Culture of Greatness is probably my favorite. I am currently reading, The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World


“You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” – Albert Einstein

I am very excited to share my new favorite gadget/toy with you! I first learned about Rocketbook on Shark Tank where it was rejected! I was shocked as I thought it was so innovative. On Shark Tank they introduced Rocketbook The Wave, a reusable notebook that you can erase by putting it in the microwave after scanning the pages and saving them into the cloud. The notebook provides a pen and paper experience, yet is built for the digital age; how cool is that! So I have been watching the company as they tested out more ideas and products and moved them from beta to market even though my husband thought I was crazy!

I did not get The Wave because you can only reuse it so many times and I wanted to use this notebook all the time! I purchased the Rocketbook Everlast Notebook on Amazon, as it is endlessly reusable! The Everlast feels like a traditional notebook and connects to all of my favorite cloud services such as Google Drive and Evernote. When you write using any pen from the Pilot Frixion line (which also work on regular paper too), your writing sticks to Everlast pages. When you are ready to send your notes to the cloud notebook of your choice, click on one of the symbols at the bottom of the page that you have created a destination for via the Rocketbook App, then all you have to do is scan and it will send your notes to the right place. After you fill up your pages, take a wet paper towel and wipe it away as the notebook erases like magic!


I wasn’t sure if I would be able to connect to all my different Google Drives as I have multiple accounts for school, work and business but you can using the different symbols. The only thing I would suggest for this as a way to make it even better is I wish it had lines verse the dot grid but I am assuming that is how the magic happens so I am okay with it.

I have been using my notebook for a few days and it has been awesome. No more scrap paper needed for my many to-do lists, no more filling up regular notebooks and putting them some where in case I need to go back to those notes and no more wasting paper as everything I need to access is in the cloud!  Read more about Rocketbook and how educators are using them:

How Rocketbook’s EdTech Solutions Help Students and Teachers Connect

Math Teacher Uses Rocketbook Wave to Bring a New Magic to Learning with the Traditional Pen and Paper

The Everlast Notebook is filled with smart, scannable pages that are also reusable


“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.” By  Carol Welch

I love many chrome apps  but a new favorite is called Move It! Move It integrates brain breaks through reminders that pop up on your screen. You get to set how often you want to be reminded to move and then a random brain break or exercise pops up for you to complete. Here is an example below:

Screen Shot 2017-07-12 at 1.59.37 PM

Once you complete it, click done and you will return to your screen. If you are in a  groove and don’t want to stop you can just click done to go back to your original screen. When introducing this extension to your students. Set up rules and expectations of how this is used in your classroom. It is easy to keep active with the Move It extension for your chrome browser!





“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun” By Mary Lou Cook

Below are sites I like using in the classroom that you won’t find on a typical education best apps/website, article or blog post; as these sites are hidden gems!

White Noise:  I like to have different areas in my classroom such as a collaboration zone and a quiet zone. (See previous blog post on Classroom Zones if you want to learn more) Background white noise drowns out the excess classroom noise around allowing them to better concentrate. There are apps you can buy such as iOS White Noise but I like using the free You Tube white noise channel, a soft murmur or Noisli.

Icons and Photos: Noun project has millions of curated icons, created by a global community that are free! This is great for not only teachers but students too when they are creating projects that need images. The site helps teach digital citizenship skills as the images, when downloaded cite the creator of the image! See below for an example. Another site Photos for Class also does the same thing for images.


Content Resources: I recently stumbled upon DKFindout, a secure site for students to find, explore, and learn about anything. I like providing this site to students for PBL’s and/or Genius Hour as it gives students a place to start exploring different ideas/topics. You do not need to create an account to use it!

Creation: Beatbox academy is lets you create beats using the drum icons they display on their homepage. While you unfortunately can’t record, save, or export any of the rhythms you create on their site; my work around is I have students create their beat and record it using the voice memo on an iPhone or iPad. This is of course after their create the rap/song lyrics about the content they are showing mastery of. Then in iMovie audio they record the lyrics over the beat. Creatubbles is a safe global community for creators of all ages. Students can share any type of art, music, video or craft with the world!

I would love to hear what hidden gem websites you have found that work for the classroom!


“Pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator.” Michael Fullan

Podcasts are a series of audio recordings that you can listen to at anytime. Podcasts are great in the classroom because students can show what they know in a different format and other students can listen to them and learn too. Here are five ways you can use podcasting in the classroom:

  1. Book Talk: When students finish a great book they want to share, they can create a podcast highlighting the book for the book talk series. Other students can listen to the podcasts to see what book they might want to read next.
  2. How To:  This podcast series can be subject based on open to all areas. Students post “how to’s” to show what they know and help other students. For example: How to annotate text or how to apply properties of operations as strategies to add, subtract, factor, and expand linear expressions with rational coefficients.
  3. Student Spotlight: Spotlight a student each week. Students share about themselves to help build classroom culture and climate.
  4. Untold Stories: Students choose a different perspective of a historical event, book etc.
  5. Current Events: Students chose a current event, summarize the event and why it is important.


It is important to plan, produce and the publish! Before the students record their script, they must have it written out and get it approved by me. Then the students produce the podcast using the voice memos app that is on the iPad. Below are the directions that are posted, which I have previously modeled for them. I also have a podcast helper if a student gets stuck. 

  1. Press the record (red button) and start your podcast.
  2. When you are finished click on the record button again to stop the recording.
  3. Then click done and it will ask you to save your voice memo, click save.
  4. Label it with your last name and episode number. Example: Thompson E1.
  5. Click on your recording again and it will open up and give you three options share, edit or delete. Click on the share button and email it to me (the teacher).

Once they send it to me, I edit the files using iMovie to add the theme music and take out any pauses etc. You can also use Garageband to edit as well. Depending on the age level students can do this process too.  Finally you publish; I chose to use my website as the host for the podcasts. This way the students always know where to find them.

Here are a few other tools that have helped with podcasting in my classroom:

Podcasting tips: Use this resource before writing your script to get ideas.

Script Timer: Use this web tool to help determine the length based on your script.

Benefits of Podcasting:

  • Students are practicing reading, writing and listening based on multiple content standards.
  • Students are using high order thinking skills to create and critically think.
  • Students are being assessed in a different way.
  • Podcasts don’t have to be individual but students can collaborate too!


Please share ideas you have done in your classroom using podcasting!

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