Level UP Your Instruction with Tract Learning!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022 No comments

If you have been around for a while, you ALREADY know my love for Tract. If you want to know exactly how to use tract, you can read my first blog post here. I think you will find that Tract.app  is an incredible kid-driven website that is highly engaging and high-interest for upper elementary students. On Tract, students practice 21st century skills, find projects that they are passionate about, and create during project based learning. If you haven’t tried Tract yet, you can get FREE access to their website and ALL of their turnkey project guides at tract.app using my access code MSSMITH. 

If you are new to Tract.app, I highly suggest you starting here. Tract has created an INCREDIBLE resource that shares EVERYTHING you need to get your kiddos started on their website. This amazing resource tells you how to get signed up, allows you to access demo sites, and explains all of the teacher features. 

Tract-a-thon coming December 9th! Once you get your kiddos all set up on Tract and they begin to LOVE the platform, I highly suggest that you look into the Tract-a-thon taking place on December 9th. Tract-a-thon is a virtual event highlighting and celebrating incredible student creations from all over the world. (How cool is that?!) In partnership with inspiring changemakers like Malala Yousafzai, Carissa Cabrera, Art by Joudy, Always Alyssa, The Galactic Gal, Will Levis, and Jahkori Hall, TractLearning has launched a set of turnkey project guides that support PBL, Genius Hour, SEL, GATE, and more.

Using the guides, teachers can easily spark engagement as students work to solve real-world problems through hands-on challenges like designing an activism campaign to make a positive change alongside activists @Malala and @Carissaandclimate, building a plan to turn $100 into $1,000 with wealth tips from finance expert and future NFL quarterback, @w.lev, or investigating the pros and cons of space exploration with The Galactic Gal.

If you aren’t ready for the Tract-a-ton, no worries. Tract.app has incredible resources if you’d prefer to have your kiddos focus on a specific subject. As an ELA teacher, I can use Tracts ready to use project guide to easily spark engagement as students identify a message they want to put out into the world and then work to put it into a shareable communication–from a song or letter, to a flyer or film!

These project guides won’t replace my current lessons and projects, they will just supercharge them. Through Tract’s collection of project guides, I can transform what I teach in the classroom into interactive and fun educational projects led and created by kids. Each Project Guide is curriculum-aligned, and designed to help teachers easily integrate short videos from their library into classwork, turning kids' media consumption into a launchpad for an enriching, educational experience that supports project-based learning, Genius Hour, social and emotional learning, GATE, and more. Access ALL of the project guides here.

Remembering 9/11 with Children through Picture & Chapter Books

Monday, September 5, 2022 No comments

One of my goals this year as a reading teacher is to do a better job showcasing books for certain times of year. I'm not sure If I'll do a monthly focus in my classroom, or just do different focuses on what we are reading and what kiddos are interested in. I am learning that the more books I share, the more kids are excited to read. They love grabbing my recommendations and checking them out! In September I wanted to give my kiddos some exposure to September 11th. They weren't alive when the towers fell, but it is still such an important part of our Nation's history and it is important for them to learn about it. Sharing a few incredible books about 9/11 below. Make sure to check the "recommended for" section, as some of the chapter books are more graphic and geared towards upper elementary/middle school kiddos. Personally, I plan to read "The Surviver Tree" to my class and then make a display of the other books kiddos can grab. Although I personally loved "Ground Zero" (mentioned below), I won't be offering it to my 5th graders because it is a bit graphic. 

Happy reading! Did I miss any good 9/11 books?
If so - let me know in the comments! I'd love to check them out! = ) 

Picture Books about September 11, 2001

1) The Surviver Tree by Marcie Colleen
Overview: This hopeful story of a resilient tree that grew (and still grows) at the base of the twin towers is a simple introduction for young readers to gain an understanding of September 11th and the impact it had on America. // Recommended for: All Elementary Children 


Overview: A deeply moving story about community and resilience, from the point-of-view of the Callery pear tree that survived the attacks on September 11, from Eisner Award-nominated author-illustrator Sean Rubin. // Recommended for: All Elementary Children 



Overview: The John J. Harvey fireboat was the largest, fastest, shiniest fireboatof its time, but by 1995, the city didn't need old fireboats anymore. Then, one sunny September day in 2001, something so horrible happened that the whole world shook. And a call came from the fire department, asking if the Harvey could battle the roaring flames. // Recommended for: All Elementary Children 

Overview: Discover the inspiring story of the American flag that flew over Ground Zero, traveled across all fifty states as it was repaired, and returned to New York as a restored symbol of unity. // Recommended for: All Elementary Children 



5) The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein
Overview: In 1974, French aerialist Philippe Petit threw a tightrope between the two towers of the World Trade Center and spent an hour walking, dancing, and performing high-wire tricks a quarter mile in the sky. This picture book captures the poetry and magic of the event with a poetry of its own: lyrical words and lovely paintings that present the detail, daring, and--in two dramatic foldout spreads-- the vertiginous drama of Petit's feat. // Recommended for: All Elementary Children 


Overview: This book is considered a straightforward and sensitive book for a generation of readers too young to remember that terrible day. // Recommended for: Ages 9+ 


Chapter Books about September 11, 2001


1) Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Overview: This book is a thought provoking look at the days leading up to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and how that day impacted the lives of four middle schoolers. // Recommended for: Ages 9-12




2) Eleven by Tom Rogers
Overview: Alex Douglas always wanted to be a hero. But nothing heroic ever happened to Alex. Nothing, that is, until his eleventh birthday. When Alex rescues a stray dog as a birthday gift to himself, he doesn't think his life can get much better. Radar, his new dog, pretty much feels the same way. But this day has bigger things in store for both of them. This is a story about bullies and heroes. About tragedy and hope. About enemies with two legs and friends with four, and pesky little sisters and cranky old men, and an unexpected lesson in kindness delivered with a slice of pizza.  // Recommended for: Ages 10+

3) Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Overview: When her fifth-grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Dèja can't help but feel confused. She sets off on a journey of discovery, with new friends Ben and Sabeen by her side. But just as she gets closer to answering big questions about who she is, what America means, and how communities can grow (and heal), she uncovers new questions, too. Like, why does Pop get so angry when she brings up anything about the towers? // Recommended for: Ages 10-11+

4) Ground Zero by Alan Gratz 
Overview: September 11, 2001, New York City: Brandon is visiting his dad at work, on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center. Out of nowhere, an airplane slams into the tower.  // September 11, 2019, Afghanistan: Reshmina has grown up in the shadow of war, but she dreams of peace and progress. When a battle erupts in her village, Reshmina stumbles upon a wounded American soldier named Taz. One devastating day. Nothing will ever be the same. // Recommended for: Ages 10+ (I would  suggest this for middle school grades, not elementary. I loved this book, but it has some tough topics in it that I wouldn't suggest for younger kids.)

Walmart Deals UNDER a Buck!

Saturday, August 27, 2022 No comments
This is a sponsored post from Walmart. All opinions are my own.

Thank you for shopping with the commissionable links below.

It’s that time of year! Can you believe it? It’s back-to-school season and it’s time for back-to-school supplies! Walmart makes shopping for supplies EASY and AFFORDABLE. Walmart has hundreds of items that are $1 or below so buying school supplies doesn’t have to break the bank. As a teacher, I like to stock up on these affordable items now so that I have extras for students who might need them. Check out my favorite purchases below!

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Meal Prepping... A Teacher's Best Friend!

Sunday, August 21, 2022 No comments

This is a sponsored post from Walmart. All opinions are my own.

Thank you for shopping with the commissionable links below.
Now that school is back in session, I spend my Sundays getting ready for my week. Anyone else? I do laundry, clean the house, and most importantly... I meal prep. If I don't meal prep, I can 100% guarantee that I won't have any food to take to school with me for lunch and... we don't always love lunchroom food. Am I right? Walmart is making it SO easy -AND FUN- to meal prep with their beautiful new line "Beautiful Kitchenware" by Drew Barrymore. I grabbed a beautiful new air fryer and some new pots and pans to help get me motivated and inspired to meal prep during this back to school season.

This week I prepped "Healthier Chicken Salad" from iFoodReal. I pair this with some low calorie crackers and it makes for a perfect, satisfying school lunch! Best part? It's a SUPER easy recipe. I simply cooked my chicken in the air fryer until it was done. (If you haven't cooked your chicken in the air fryer yet - you're missing out!) While that was cooking at 370 degrees for 20 minutes, I chopped celery, red onion, and parsley. I also toasted my pecans in my shiny new pot from Walmart. After the chicken was done, I shredded it up and mixed everything together. You can access the full recipe here

Meal prepping is a LIFE SAVER to me as a teacher. What is your favorite thing to meal prep? I am always looking for new ideas! = ) Click the links below to grab up some beautiful new meal prepping tools from Walmart to get you excited and inspired in the kitchen. Happy cooking! 



Walmart Back-to-School Finds YOU NEED!

Sunday, July 24, 2022 No comments




This is a sponsored post from Walmart. All opinions are my own.

Thank you for shopping with the commissionable links below.

When you shop Walmart during this back-to-school season it is SO easy to grab all of your favorite school supply items at AMAZING prices! As a teacher I grab all of my classroom essentials now, so I am stocked up for the year. If you are a parent, you can grab all of your kiddo’s school supply items without breaking the bank. If you are like me and like to order everything online, Walmart has a 1-click Local School Supply list to help you find your school’s supply list, add to cart, and have free shipping or pick up!  A dream come true! 


As a teacher, I like to grab classroom basics - all are featured below. ALL of these items are important in a functioning classroom and many of them are a dollar or below! You won’t find better deals anywhere else!