As August starts to roll around, we as teachers begin thinking about our classroom and resources, some of the things we want to do the first day, week and so forth! What better way to get some great new ideas then to head on over to Teachers Pay Teachers to check out some of the great resources and school items that will make planning and heading back to school that much easier!!

Now is the best time to head on over to Teachers Pay Teachers as they are offering a SITE WIDE SALE for all your purchases beginning August 4-5! You definitely don’t want to miss out! Be sure to check it out and use the code BTS14 to take adantage of the some of the greatest deals!!

In addition, as we all know just how important it is to stock up on great resources as you head back to school, we are offering an ADDITIONAL 15% OFF your items!! Just click on the link below to check out some really great products that will start you off in September, and keep you organized all year long!!


If Don’t have a Teachers Pay Teachers account? Get one now! It’s completely free and you’ll be able to purchase great teacher resources written by teachers, for teachers! Some of the best resources we use in our classrooms were purchased from TPT!

We’re looking forward to beginning a new school year and with that will be working on adding new products to our store, as well as, great resources for free here on our website!! Definitely check back for new updates and don’t forget to share our page with your colleagues!


Loriana, Elita and Lisa


Mean Stinks: Bullying Awareness Posters

We are firm believers that we are all a community of learners. We work together and improve our practice on a daily basis. When we find resources that are useful and done really well, we utilize, share and discuss them.

I recently came across a wonderful set of posters on bullying. They are ready to use and absolutely free! Get them here!

After a little research, I found a fantastic website where teachers and schools post pictures, initiatives within their classrooms, schools and communities on how they are addressing bullying.Is The website is and there is a plethora of resources, ideas and activities!

I particularly love the paint your pinky blue campaign from Secret and promoted by Demi Lovato.  Although it has been around for just over a year, I would love to start it at my school!Billboard_Mean-Stinks_Follow-Us_Large


The website has over 2,000,000 followers and growing every day.   I am inspired to see such great content and initiatives from all around. Join in and let us know what initiatives you have in your classrooms, schools and communities!

For other great resources see our previous posts on Bullying and its Many Forms, The Tuesday 12: 12 Fantastic Books to discuss Bullying with your students, Bullying: Reporting vs. Tattling.  



Article Review: “Turn and Talk: One Powerful Practice, So Many Uses” by West and Cameron

Did you see my summer reading list? No, it wasn’t filled with thrilling fiction (though I did try to squeeze that in!), but excellent math resources!  Since I love all things Lucy West, one of the first things I read was: “Turn and Talk: One Powerful Practice, So Many Uses” by Lucy West and Antonia Cameron (2011).

Here’s a little background on the topic of academic discourse, according to West and Cameron (2011):

  • student discourse is vital for learning, but it is not seen in classrooms regularly (p. 1)
  • “Research from around the world validates the importance of dialogue as a key avenue for learning content with understanding and developing reasoning, social skills, and intelligence” (p. 1)
  • Douglas Reeves, Richard Allington, Vygotsky, and Robin Alexander have “linked academic success with the capacity to engage in conversation and to as and answer questions in full sentences” (p. 1)
  • it is not easy for teachers to engage students in rigorous discourse for a few reasons: the content of the lesson is lacking (i.e. there is nothing to talk about), the lesson is too factual or skills based, the lesson is not based on any “big ideas”, there is not enough time for discussion, and too much time is spend practicing a skill (p. 1-2).

So what are the benefits of “turn & talk”?  West and Cameron have eleven benefits, but I think the three most relevant to my teaching practice are:

  • “Develops capacity to articulate an idea and use new terminology”: this is a key point for me because I find that students are lacking math terms. By talking to a partner during math lessons, students are able to improve and broaden their math vocabulary.
  • “Develops the idea that the source of power is in each learner”: it is so important for students to understand that their voices, ideas, and contributions are essential to a math lesson.  They are the source of power during the lesson and their contributions are essential.
  • “Gets at least 50 per cent of the students talking in a given lesson”: I have several students in my class who love to participate during lessons and discussions, but there are many students who would rather sit back and just listen.  Turn & talk helps me get those students involved in the discussion and helps them build confidence during math lessons.

So when is it a good time for “Turn & Talk”?  West and Cameron provide 10 clues that show student discourse would be beneficial at that time, but for me the following two really stand out:

  • “Preparing to write”: for our numeracy learning cycle, we are focusing on the analysis of the problem (using our GRASS acronym), where students need to explain their thought process as they tackle the problem.  We are asking students to take us step-by-step through their though process.  By having students turn and talk with a partner first, we have found that the analysis of the problem is much more detailed, in-depth, and accurate.
  • “Teaching each other”: it is such a pivotal and powerful moment in a lesson when students are able to teach one another.  It may be that only some students understand the concept enough to teach a peer, or it may be that many students understand the concept and can show their understanding by explaining their ideas to their classmates.  Student discourse would be a great way to review the highlights and summaries of a lesson and to check for understanding. I used this approach during my measurement unit when students had to discuss the various area activities we were solving.  It worked out very well and it had everyone talking!

I highly recommend reading the article by West and Cameron.  It is an essential read for any math teacher who wants to improve both the quantity and the quality of student discourse in the math classroom.

We have been using this strategy during our TLLP math journal project and we have noticed an improvement in student problem solving and analysis. By having students turn and talk with a peer, they are showing how well they are attaining the concept and then have a better understanding of how to approach a problem and solve it successfully.

Chris Bosh on Computer Coding

Computer CodingIt’s been a crazy two months of school.  I am feeling it, how about you? No matter how organized we try to be, things get out of hand and we are forever trying to catch up.  I must apologize to you all; we’ve been absent far too long from our blog.  We are sorry.

Today, I want to get right back into the swing of things.  I recently read an article on Chris Bosh (NBA player for the Miami Heat) writing about why coding is an important skill students need to learn.  I had written about this back in March of this year, Coding: An Essential Skill.  In that post, I included a great video and a link on how to incorporate coding into the elementary classroom.  Chris Bosh is in that video too, but he now has written an essay for WIRED magazine.  This is a wonderful way to peak the interest of our students.  A popular NBA player known by many, leading the way to make students understand the world around them!  Take a look and let us know what you think.

Follow the link for the article.

Here’s Why You Should Learn to Code by Chris Bosh via WIRED

Getting You Ready for Back to School with Scholar’s Choice

As you know, we were given the wonderful opportunity to become Scholar’s Choice Content Champions on their Teacher Blog!

Here’s our most recent article: Back to Cool (Part 1): 12 Creative Community Building Activities for the First Week where we feature six engaging, fun, and creative activities to welcome your students to your classroom.

Be sure to try out these fantastic ideas with your students!!

Accountable Talk in the Math Classroom: Discussion Starter Prompts!

As I’ve written before, I’m in the process of creating a math focus wall for my classroom which will be centred around my SMART Board.  I’ve found a couple of inspiration pics on Pinterest, but I’m still working on a plan that will work for my students.  One of the things that I plan to include are sentence starters to help students during math discussions.

A key component of a successful mass lesson is having the students engaged in robust mathematical dialogue.  I’m a huge fan of Lucy West (check out her site if you still haven’t!) and her article “Turn and Talk: One Powerful Practice, So Many Uses” (West and Cameron), was on my summer reading list.  According to West and Cameron, “robust student academic discourse is vital for deep learning, [but] it is also a practice we see far too little of in many classrooms.”

There may be several reasons for the lack of discourse during math classes—perhaps there may not be enough time, students may not have enough to say, or students tend to lose track and start socializing.  I know that I have overheard my students discuss weekend plans when they should be discussing the methods they used to solve their math problem! All these reasons for lack of math discourse may be tied to one key component overall—students are not sure how to talk about math.  This would explain why math discourse may take up “too much time”, “just doesn’t work”, or students “lose track”.  If students knew how to talk about math, then they would have more opportunities for robust dialogue.

In order to solve this overall problem, I decided to create discussion starter prompts.  I created these on legal size paper as I will be posting them on my math focus wall on a rotating basis. Just print, laminate, and post!

math discourse cards