Extreme Makeover Classroom Edition: Monument Valley Final Reveal

Hello teachers-- The SuperHERO Teacher here!
Extreme Makeover Classroom Edition is my way of giving back to the teaching community and providing deserving educators with the classroom environment I know every teacher wishes for their students.  The giveaway gives me the opportunity to change the lives of any student who enters that classroom-- which is extremely powerful and rewarding to me.  In this blog post, I'd like to share the final reveal with you!
One of the most challenging components during this process is selecting a winner for the makeover.  Let's face it, every. single. teacher. deserves a classroom makeover and the funding/resources to do so... which is why it is SO hard to pick just one!  I read through EVERY application I receive, because I want to make sure the makeover is a perfect fit for the teacher and what I have to offer.  When I read Megan Decker's post about her experiences on the Navajo Reservation in Monument Valley, Utah, something resonated with me and I instantly knew I couldn't pass up this opportunity. The combination of her passion for helping students succeed and the need for resources in her wonderful community made me confident that she was truly deserving of the makeover.  Meet Megan, a talented 9th & 10th grade ELA teacher!

This is Megan's classroom before the makeover! She did her absolute best with the space she was given.  The wall to left had carpet on it, one wall was dry wall, and the other two walls were a yellow brick!  Based on these pictures that Megan sent, I mapped out a detailed floor plan and renovation for the new room.

Meet the most incredible team on earth consisting of my beautiful mom, grandma, fiance, and TpT bestie, Jessica Tobin! This makeover truly would not be possible without them.  I made shirts that labeled our responsibilities and they remained pretty accurate throughout the process!

Our days started around 6:30am and ended no earlier than 9:00pm.  We were determined to have this new space created for Megan in roughly 36 hours (with a ton of planning ahead on my part).

One of the most memorable and biggest changes in the room involved installing laminate wood flooring.  After the first couple of planks were installed, the process flew by (only a few bruises and blisters, haha)! The new flooring gave the classroom a COMPLETELY different vibe.  It went from standard to extraordinary in just a couple of hours.

In addition to the new flooring, I wanted to dedicate one wall as a statement piece using a stunning mural from Murals Wallpaper.  When I told their designers what I was doing, they so generously donated this Rose Quartz Wall Mural for the classroom, and let me tell you, it truly made all the difference! Not only did it make a big impact when you walked in the room, but it also provided the perfect backdrop for motivational posters I designed.
After 36 dedicated hours and a ton of hard work, the ladies and I were ready for the reveal!  We called Megan in separately at first (along with her parents who visited for this very moment), and her reaction was simply priceless.  Her gratitude was overwhelming, and I knew instantly that she and her students desperately deserved this.

Here's what the makeover included:

  • New desks and chairs from Wayfair 
  • Storage and decor for each of the desks
  • Flexible seating options
  • Purposeful classroom decor and interactive bulletin boards
  • Motivation and diverse decor
  • A conference location for Megan and her students
  • A Zen Zone
  • A reading nook
  • New teacher desk and chair
  • New flooring
  • Wall mural from Murals Wallpaper
  • Fresh coat of paint 
  • A new classroom library donated from my incredible friends, family, and followers
  • A whole lot of love, time, and dedication

Whether I'm designing my own classroom or conducting a classroom makeover, I like to make sure that every piece of decor in the room is purposeful-- which is why I'm a fan of using interactive bulletin boards.  This first interactive bulletin board is a reading challenge displayed in the reading nook.
This Reading Literature Challenge Interactive Bulletin Board is designed to encourage students to read and think outside the box! Each student is given a bookmark with 12 different challenges on it.  Throughout the school year, they work through the challenges and read novels they may not have read previously.  For example, one of the challenges is to read a book on the New York Times best seller list! This bulletin board display is for sale in my Teachers pay Teachers store, and you can find it here.
This second interactive bulletin board is dedicated to whole-class journaling.  It's a way for students to express themselves and share it with their peers.  On each of the hexagons displayed, there's a writing prompt.  Students will choose the corresponding journal, and write their entry.  Their classmates will then have the opportunity to read the entry and write their own! This bulletin board display is called "We All Have a Story to Tell" and it's available in my TpT store here.

Arguably one of my favorite spaces in the room is the Zen Zone.  This is a cozy little space where students who are feeling extra stress or anxiety can go to simply escape the chaos.  I created a Zen Zone booklet that includes meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques/exercises, as well as student challenges to inspire mindfulness.  The Zen Zone also included:

  • Zen Zone booklet
  • Yoga mats
  • Motivational/Self-help books
  • Aromatherapy/essential oils
  • A cozy, relaxing atmosphere 
Check out the Zen Zone booklet here

This makeover took place on the Navajo Reservation in Monument Valley, Utah, so I wanted to be sure to include their culture into the design of the room.  I created these diverse, motivational posters for the space.  They are simple, but leave a powerful impression.

This activity is called "Don't Judge a Book by its Cover: With a Twist".  I included 20+ wrapped books with a hook/description on the front to inspire students to read the novel without judging it by its cover first.  The TWIST is this: when students are done reading a book they enjoyed, they can head to the wrapping station, fill out their own hook/description, and attach it to their wrapped book to convince another student to read the book!  You can find this resource in my TpT store here.

This Navajo poem was a statement piece I wanted displayed in the classroom, so a friend hand-lettered this beautiful piece for me. The deeper message of this poem truly resonated with me as we worked to complete the space for Megan and her students.

How powerful is this simple poster? Hear our voice. My hope is that students will read this and feel empowered to make a difference in their community, society, and world.

I wanted to gift Megan and her students with the power of literature by completing a brand new classroom library.  Not knowing where to begin, I asked my friends, family, and followers to donate diverse books to the library, and donate they did!!! I was blown away by the number of books and resources sent in from the people who support me the most.

I want to also use this as an opportunity to express my gratitude to all of the teachers, TpT sellers, and friends/family who donated books and supplies to the classroom makeover.  This makeover would be truly impossible without your help and support! If you are interested in applying to win a classroom makeover or seeing more details about this makeover, be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook as I post updates regularly.

If you're interested in transforming your own classroom space, I've created this 20 step challenge to guide you through the process.  I include actionable and measurable steps along side videos to help you create the environment and atmosphere you and your students deserve.  Check it out here!

Keep making a difference,
Brittany Wheaton
The SuperHERO Teacher

Choosing the Best Bell Ringer Journal for Your Students

Hi teachers!!! I've been wanting to write this blog post for a LONG time, but I'm finally doing it (cheers)! In this blog post, I will help you choose the best bell ringer journal for your class.  Whether you're a primary education teacher or secondary teacher, I have a bell ringer journal just for you.

What is a bell ringer journal?
A bell ringer journal is a resource that contains 275+ journal prompts that will last the ENTIRE school year.  That's right-- you'll never have to think of a bell ringer prompt again.  WHEW! These prompts are engaging and innovative, but most importantly, they help strengthen students' reading, writing, and critical thinking skills.

What are the benefits of a bell ringer journal? 
There are SO many positive components to implementing a bell ringer journal in your daily routine.

  1. You'll develop a ROUTINE with your students.  Imagine this: you walk into your classroom after greeting each of your students at the door and every. single. student. is working diligently on their bell ringer prompt for the day.  It's a classroom management miracle. 
  2. Once you give students their journal, you don't have to worry about displaying it on the board, coming up with a new prompt each day, or making sure you have a new prompt for each prep.  You simply establish a routine with your students so they know that as soon as they enter the classroom, they work on a prompt.  
  3. It takes 5-7 minutes per class period and students are working on reading, writing, critical thinking, and content related skills the entire time.  That's 1,375 minutes in a school year that they'll be developing their skills without even realizing it!
  4. ORGANIZATION.  If you're an organized freak like me, you'll love this because of the tabs and cover pages that keep students focused.  If you aren't as organized, but want less chaos in your life/classroom, this journal will help you achieve this.  

I have the most options for middle and high school teachers.  Check them out below:
English Lang. Arts VOLUME ONE: 
This is my very first bell ringer journal ever created.  It focuses on open-ended prompts that can ultimately be answered by any subject area.  This version helps students think critically and creatively.  Choose this option if you're looking for great classroom discussions!

English Lang. Arts VOLUME TWO: 
This version is best for ELA teachers who wish to strengthen their students' English related skills.  Each day is of the week is broken up into a different section: famous inspiration, word of the week, figurative language, creative writing, and critical thinking.

English Lang. Arts VOLUME THREE: 
This is probably the most focused bell ringer journal.  It's organized by the Common Core State Standards and each day of the week has a different focus: reading literature, informational text, writing, speaking & listening, or language.  Students will gain the most content-related knowledge from this bell ringer journal.

Growth Mindset Bell Ringer Journal: 
This bell ringer journal works with ANY subject area.  It's focused on growth mindset, career readiness, and goal setting! Each day of the week is broken up into these sections: mindset vocabulary, career readiness, famous inspiration, critical thinking, and photo response.  This journal is great for teachers who want their students to practice writing goals and focusing on their future.

Content Related Journals:
You don't teach ELA? That's okay! I have the following bell ringer journals just for you:

I have three (3) options for upper elementary teachers:
This journal is very similar in content to the secondary volume one, but with more simplistic questions. You have will great discussions with these open-ended, critical thinking prompts that help students think outside the box.  

This is one of my all time favorite bell ringer journals.  It's based on the Common Core State Standards and has completely different prompts than any other journal.  The days of the week are broken into different categories: reading literature, informational text, writing, speaking & listening, and language.  You'll see SO much improvement in your students' reading and writing skills as they complete the prompts throughout the year. 

This journal also has completely different prompts than any of my other journals.  If you want your students to exercise growth mindset on a daily basis, this is the journal to go with!  Your students will become stronger, kinder individuals and they truly think deeply about all of the different prompts available in this journal.  

I like to describe the primary bell ringer journal as a "morning work" journal, because that's what most primary teachers are accustomed to calling it!  Students will work on a variety of different skills in this bell ringer journal that Jessica Tobin and I designed together.  You'll be able to see so much growth as your students gain more skills throughout the year.  It will blow your mind! 

If you're looking for a money-saving option, I've designed a digital version AND a presentation version (sold separately), so that you can either have students answer the prompts on the computer, completely paperless, OR display the prompts on a white board and have students answer the questions on their own paper.  The prompts are still the same, the delivery avenue is just slightly different!

How do I print my journals? I use an HP instant ink printer... which means unlimited printing for $10 a month! It. is. incredible! Ask your local rep at Office Max or Staples and they'll gladly point you in the right direction!

How do I bind my journals? I purchased a TruBind coil machine off Amazon Prime and it has been AMAZING! I takes about 20 seconds to bind a journal and it saves a ton of money in the long run.  If you don't want to purchase a machine, office supply stores will bind things for you fairly inexpensively! #doit

Thank you so much for reading this post and I hope it helps you choose the best bell ringer journal for you and your students!
All the best,
Brittany Wheaton
The SuperHERO Teacher

Get Organized With an Entire Year of English Language Arts Materials

 7th and 8th Grade ELA Materials

Hello my fabulous followers! 
First, I would like to say THANK YOU so much for your continued support.  It's your encouragement that motivates me to create all of these activities and resources (I owe it all to YOU). I'd like to take some time to talk about my new ELA resources that cover the entire school year and how to prepare and organize your upcoming school year using this resource.  Per your requests, I've developed activities and assessments that will have you so prepared, you won't know what to do with all of your spare time! Below, I will highlight some of the most important features of the resource. CLICK HERE TO SEE THE RESOURCE.

If you know me, you know I'm a HUGE fan of organization.  I love knowing that I can find anything I'm looking for in one spot and that it will meet the standards I'm required to teach.  That's why I've created cover pages and tabs for your convenience.  The product is divided into five (5) different sections-- Reading Literature, Informational Text, Writing, Speaking & Listening, and Language (all CCSS aligned of course).  
Use these cover pages to get your whole classroom organized prior to the beginning of the school year.  Sort the resources I've created for you and incorporate all of your own activities, too.  Think of how amazing it would be if you knew you needed to teach a bit more informational text and you could simply turn to that tab and use any of the designated resources.  SIGH OF RELIEF!!! 

I'm a huge proponent of unique, hands-on resources that require students to think beyond the text-- and my guess is, you are too! If you're looking to engage your students in an interactive way, this is the resource for you.  From a vocabulary menu to teaching the narrative process through five minute fairytales, you are sure to create a fun and engaging environment for your students.  There are more than 40 creative ideas in this resource and YOU get to pick and choose when to use them. 
I've created the resources. YOU decide when to implement them.  Make a list of the different novels, short stories, poems, articles, etc. you'd like to use throughout the school year and assign them to my different activities.  You'll enter the school year feeling prepared and less stressed-- every teacher's goal. 

Even though these resources can be used with any text at any time of the year, it's still important to have guidelines for grading, which is why I've created a rubric for each activity as well as included teacher directions.  All you have to do is decide when to assign the different activities (there's a lot... so spread them out accordingly). 
If you follow the suggestion above and schedule out the activities before the beginning of the school year, go ahead and set up your grade book as well.  If you know when assignments will be due and how many points they will be, prepare for them! I loved seeing my grade book perfectly scheduled and knowing when I needed to update grades. 

That's right! You asked for it and I made it happen.  I've been asked 100 MILLION times to make me resources editable so that you can adjust them for your needs, so that's what I did.  This resource is 100% editable.  All you need to do is download the FREE fonts I've linked to in the teacher directions, open the PPT template, and adjust the materials as necessary.  I love this idea because you can so easily differentiate the activities to fit the needs of all your students. 
As you are planning out the school year and determining when you'll use each of the different activities, edit the materials as you go!  Adjust things at the beginning, save as a PDF, and print as you go... You WON'T regret it! 

-Citing textual evidence graphic organizers and examples
-Literary analysis flipbook for any novel
-Citing multiple pieces of textual evidence graphic organizer
-Textual evidence task cards
-Making inferences "Hamburger Style" activity
-Poetry stations and supplemental materials including poems (Because I Could Not Stop for Death, The Road Not Taken, O Captain! My Captain!, Chicago, Sonnet VII, and Still I Rise)
-Determining the TONE and MOOD of the text
-QR Code the Tone & Mood Interactive Activity
-Allusion focus lesson
-Historical background graphic organizer
-Literary timeline organizer
-Novel VS Film interactive manila folder activity (covers characterization and plot structure)
-Vocabulary in literature
-Informational text Q&A research assignments with a focus on textual evidence
-Tween Tribune text analysis
-Student magazine project (includes assignment, rubric, and editable magazine template for students to complete)
-Magazine annotation
-20-time semester long assignment (community issues and current events)
-Five minute fairytales narrative writing activity and task cards
-Persuasive essay project
-Poetry gallery hop
-Artifact speech
-Knockout debates
-Self-concept activity
-Vocabulary menu
-10 weeks of vocabulary terms

Interested? Click here to learn more about my 7th and 8th grade ELA curriculum!
Interested in 6th grade? Click here to learn all about my 6th grade ELA curriculum!
Curriculum coming in the future:
-9th/10th grade
-11th/12th grade
-5th grade

The SuperHERO Teacher

Healthy Teachers are Happy Teachers

Here's a little flashback from The SuperHERO Teacher: [insert enchanting music here] I remember chatting with my mom six years ago just before graduating with my undergrad and finally entering the "adulting" stage we all think is so glamorous until we actually experience it.  My mom was eating a salad and I was eating my usual easy mac with unnecessary amounts of ranch dressing drizzled on it (gross, I know).  She said to me, "I wish I could still eat foods like that, but it's just not possible when you get older."  I chuckled and went on eating my deliciously terrible mac n' cheese.

Fast-forward six years and here I am wishing I inquired a bit more about what my mom meant! It's not even about my size or weight, y'all... It has everything to do with my HAPPINESS.  I've always been a fan of working out because it has always been part of my life, but eating clean was not.  Now that I'm balancing more tasks in life, it's essential that I make eating clean a priority. Since I'm a visual learner, I knew I needed to SEE progress.  I may be feeling better, but I need to see it on a chart or something pretty to believe it (please tell me I'm not the only one).   So, I've created this little Healthy Teacher Chart

To use this FREE chart, simply print it, laminate it, and display it.  With lamination, you can use dry erase markers to mark the daily hydration, fill in weight loss bubbles, and so much more.  I hope you get as much use out of this resource as I have.  I've been tracking my eating habits and working out almost daily.  I can see changes in my body, but most importantly, I feel happy.  What's that saying? Your students will totally feed off your happiness and energy, so invest in yourself.  You can do this! 

5 Tips for Teaching The Great Gatsby

Hello there fellow ELA teacher! You're probably reading this because at some point during the school year, you'll find yourself teaching F. Scott Fitzgerald's beautifully written novel, The Great Gatsby.  I'll be honest with you, this is my all-time favorite novel to teach.  My students tend to begin the novel thinking they will despise the book, but by the end, they are begging for more.  The tips below have helped my achieve high engagement levels while reading The Great Gatsby with my students.
The Roaring Twenties are significantly different from today, and our students may not fully realize that.  If we expect teenagers to get as excited as we do about Gatsby, we'll need to show them the lifestyle represented in the novel.  You can do this several different ways. Start with music.  Go to Pandora, type "Early Jazz" into the search engine, and your classroom will be consumed by the soothing work of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday.  Then, show your students the tremendous fashion of flappers and gangsters from the 20's.  Prompt a discussion with this question: "What do you think people from the 1920's would say about fashion today?" and you're sure to get some great responses.  Lastly, discuss roles of men and women during the time period.  It's important that they understand the different movements that took place during the Jazz Age, especially for women.  TIP: use bell ringers with graphics that represent the themes of the time period.  You can find mine here.

This is so important! Often times, my students found themselves lost in Fitzgerald's complex language. Compare the intense drama that occurs in The Great Gatsby to reality television shows, music, ideas, or actual events that are happening in "their" world.  Using this technique will help students connect with the characters in the novel, and appreciate their hardships a bit more.  Common themes throughout the novel that absolutely still exist in today's society are: jealousy, class, relationships, gender roles, morality, lies & deceit.

This unit is the cat's meow! Would your students look at you like you were crazy? Yeah, mine too.  That's what makes it so fun, though!  Last year, I required my students to use 1920's slang for the entire unit.  If they said, "that's cool" I would ask them to rephrase that.  It was fun to watch students get into the role of the characters.  In addition, this helps further create the atmosphere in your classroom.  You can find slang from the roaring twenties by clicking this link.  BONUS: create bell ringers with common slang as reference piece!
I know, I know, you're thinking "I don't have time for that" but it is totally an essential piece and technically, you only have to do it once.  Make a goal to complete the projects you do alongside reading The Great Gatsby WITH your students.  Showing them the effort YOU put into the project will create high expectations and in return, you will receive quality final projects.  I like to challenge my students by saying, "I want someone to out-do me" and students LOVE the competitive edge.  Once you've created the project the first time, you don't have to continue making it.  Use that project the following years, too! Throughout the years, I've created a variety of 1920's themed newspapers, scrapbooks, poetry journals, and more.

If you're thinking to yourself, "I wish I had all of the resources needed to teach The Great Gatsby in a fun, beautifully designed interactive notebook" then I have the unit for you! I've created this comprehensive unit in an interactive workbook format to keep students focused and organized throughout the novel study.  Seriously, it's ALL here-- anything you can think of!  It has an internet scavenger hunt, bell ringers, vocabulary charts, comprehension questions, figurative language resources, literary elements resources, final projects, essays, tests, and more.  If you want your students to truly appreciate Fitzgerald's work, this is the best avenue.  To learn more about the workbook, click here or on any of the pictures in this blog post.  OH, and the best part?  It's also an adult coloring book with 1920's fashion displayed throughout the workbook!

Thank you so much for reading and I hope your students enjoy reading The Great Gatsby as much as mine do! Stay tuned for more fun-filled blog posts with tips and tricks for novel studies!

Brittany-- The SuperHERO Teacher
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