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“Self-Esteem and Students”

Astronauts traveling to a new planet are not the only humans who need the right stuff. Students, as well as adults, are always wondering where they stand and if they measure up. When students have low self-esteem you will generally find numerous other issues. Low self-esteem is linked to violence, school dropout rates, teenage pregnancy, suicide, and low academic achievement.

Teachers know that when kids feel better about themselves, they do better in school. The two core aspects of positive self-esteem are the belief and the experience that one is loveable and capable. Students come into your classroom with feelings of self worth or self doubt pre-programed through interactions within their own family setting starting in infancy. Some families are very nurturing, others are toxic. As teachers, we can tell if a student has grown up in a caring family.

When your students are at an age where they are constantly testing their emotions and asking whether they measure up, teachers will find a perfect fit with the Jolly Time Books trilogy. Kelly’s Adventures, a three-book box set, focuses on authentic characters, offering an easy to follow plot about family, school life, and everything centered on growing up in a chaotic world. The characters are believable, diverse, and instantly likeable. With relatable problems and intriguing themes, even the most reluctant readers will remain engaged.

The reader will connect with the characters and find situations that they have likely faced. Themes emphasized include bullies, friendship, values, problem solving, body image, entrepreneurship, perseverance, diversity, unity, and empathy. Teachers are depicted as positive role models who help inspire their students.

Good self-esteem is an essential component for everything children do – from positive academic performance to social skills. Classroom relationships with peers and teachers improve with a healthy dose of self-esteem:  children are better equipped to cope with mistakes, disappointment, and failure. Students are more likely to persevere, stick with challenging tasks, and complete learning activities. As teachers, we have the opportunity to help boost a child’s self-esteem through reading.

What happens when a main character immediately faces a crisis? Many readers relate and respond with empathy. In the opening scene of book 1, Lizzy and others erupt like exploding volcanoes on the kitchen floor after stuffing themselves with cake and ice cream. This embarrassing incident happened to me as a young girl. After she is ostracized by her boyfriend and picked on by bullies, how will Lizzy recover? The highly engaging personal situations and emotional roller coasters will keep the independent reader turning the pages of this book.

As a classroom teacher, I found that students learned better when reading and writing activities were followed by healthy discussions. That is why the three Study Guides for Jolly Time Books are designed as a teacher’s resource. This will save you time in lesson planning, and lead to rewarding classroom experiences. Each free downloadable Study Guide is presented by scene and chapter to match and complement the story. The Study Guides activate students’ ability to recall specific information about the scenes, events, and characters while enhancing their higher-level thinking skills.

The three free Study Guides provide a clear focus at every stage of teaching the text. The questions and interactive activities can be used as a class, in small focus groups, or as homework. The Study Guides contain both closed, comprehension questions, and open, higher order questions, exploring student response, opinion and analysis. The activities are designed to promote thinking and reflection while enhancing individual learning.

As teachers, we have the future of the world sitting in our classrooms every day. Let’s seize the opportunity and help shape what our world will look like in the future.

Jolly Time Books: Kelly’s Adventures Books 1 – 3 Box Set
Also available as individual eBooks or 3 individual paperback books
Book 1 – Searching for Kelly,
Book 2 – Chasing Kelly’s Shadow, and
Book 3 – Kelly Saves the Day

Book Description: In book 1, a black cat crosses Lizzy’s path, and she knows things can only get worse. Her brother, Ben, thinks that moving to a larger city is the answer. Big changes and magical twists abound when the Jolly family moves to Washington, D.C. They discover that Kelly, their new puppy, only adds to the chaos. Who knew?

The adventures continue in book 2 when Lizzy and Ben discover that moving hasn’t solved all their problems. Why does that black cat keep crossing their paths? WHAM! SPLAT! Is Kelly the only one to blame when Grandma decides to ride the Christmas tree, and winds up sprawled on the floor?

In book 3, the pressure on Lizzy heats up after she flips over backward at a student council rally. Will anyone vote for her now? Will Kelly survive the operation to save her life? To relieve tensions, they go on a picnic and hike with friends. What happens when Mr. Jolly becomes separated from the rest of the hikers? Could Ben’s teacher with psychic powers have predicted that this daytime hike would turn into a nighttime rescue?

Study Guides: The best way for readers to access the free eBook Study Guides is to download them from Amazon. All three Study Guides are on the first page of my Author Page. Here is a direct link to my Amazon Author Page.

About the Author: Karen S. McGowan is the author of Jolly Time Books:  Kelly’s Adventures Books 1 – 3 Box Set. She has worked more than 20 years as a teacher and holds a Master of Education degree. She is a leading advocate of education, and has written and published more than six dozen books for children.

Thank you so much for this guest post looking at how equal rights for women is still very much a timely topic!

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What Can a Citizen Do?
Author: Dave Eggers
Illustrator: Shawn Harris
Published: September 11th, 2018 by Chronicle Books

Summary: This is a book about what citizenship—good citizenship—means to you, and to us all: Across the course of several seemingly unrelated but ultimately connected actions by different children, we watch how kids turn a lonely island into a community—and watch a journey from what the world should be to what the world could be.

• What Can a Citizen Do? is the latest collaboration from the acclaimed behind the bestselling Her Right Foot: Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris.

• For today’s youngest readers about what it means to be a citizen and the positive role they can play in society.

• Includes beautiful illustrations and intriguing, rhyming text.

What Can a Citizen Do is an empowering and timeless read with an important message for all ages.


“[This] charming book provides examples and sends the message that citizens aren’t born but are made by actions taken to help others and the world they live in.” —The Washington Post

“Obligatory reading for future informed citizens.” —The New York Times

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ and discussion guide I created for What Can a Citizen Do?:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about the book on Chronicle Book’s What Can a Citizen Do? page.

Recommended For: 

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Orange County Public Schools’ Innovation Office opened in 2018 to support identified “Schools of Innovation” and to support staff in the implementation and development of innovative practices within and across these schools. My school was lucky enough to be considered a “School of Innovation” when the learning community opened in 2018. Then, in the Spring of 2019, the Innovation Office began recording their Appetite for Instruction podcast, and my colleague, Caitlin Chacon, and I were so lucky to be asked to participate.

Our podcast episode was titled “Unleashing Young Readers,” I’m assuming as an homage to this blog, and we shared what literacy instruction looks like at our school, both in the podcast and the companion write up:

Unleashing Young Readers (Episode 3)

Happy listening 🙂


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Barkus: Dog Dreams
Author: Patricia MacLachlan
Illustrator: Marc Boutavant
Published: August 7th, 2018 by Chronicle Books

Summary: Barkus is back! With new tricks. New friends. And lots more fun.

The lovable Barkus and his lucky young owner romp through the pages of this delightful series from Newbery Medal–winning author Patricia MacLachlan. The simple text told in short chapters is just right for children ready to take their first steps toward reading on their own.

View my post about Barkus to learn about book one.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation and Discussion Questions: 

Please view and enjoy the teachers’ guide I created for the Barkus series:

You can also access the teaching guide here.

You can learn more about Barkus on Chronicle Book’s Barkus Book 2 page.

Recommended For: 

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The best way to learn what kids are thinking & feeling is by listening to them, so I am happy to share my students’ voices!

We Shouldn’t Be… by Monika & Jordan, 7th Grade

We shouldn’t be scared, 
scared of the guy with the bullets
who can end our lives with a push
of a trigger. 
Shouldn’t be scared of the people
who have jobs to protect us, yet murder
us without thinking what we’re up to. 

We shouldn’t be scared
scared of the big bad men
who look at us like we’re a meal
and lick their lips hungrily.
Shouldn’t be scared of being beautiful
even though we were all made gorgeously. 

We should be scared
Scared of loving the wrong person, 
scared of THEM who will judge us
because of who and what we love. 

We shouldn’t be scared 
Scared of being judged by what we wear
or how we do our hair instead
of being judged by how we act
and hand situations. 

But guess what? We are. 

We are scared of the bullets that are
out there in the wrong hands. 

We are scared of being beautiful
because those men would kill for us. 

We are scared of loving because 
THEY end up hating us. 

We are scared of wearing the 
wrong thing or saying the wrong thing
because of THEM.

They, them
It’s the world. 
We are scared of the world. But we shouldn’t 
be anymore. Let’s stop being scared. 
We are strong. We can overcome the 
fear, only if we come together. We 
don’t have to constantly be in fear. 

We need to listen.



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The best way to learn what kids are thinking & feeling is by listening to them, so I am happy to share my students’ voices!

Pros and Cons About Digital School by Maelynn, 7th Grade

Schools all over are starting to go digital; however, this leads to a heated debate about whether or not schools should have their students using computers. Some see them as a useful tool to make learning fun and easy and others see them as a big distractor. Here are 10 pros and cons about students using computers. 


  • New skills: Because of being at a digital school, students learn how to type. Not only will it help them now, it will help them in the future. Most people nowadays type up their resumes and other reports. Also, tons of jobs now use technology. Learning how to work and run a computer could be proven helpful later on. With technology popping up more and more, digital schools are providing students with a skill early. 
  • Research is easier: Most teachers eventually give out a research project for their students to complete. If those students go to a digital school, research will be easier for them. All they have to do is search something up. If they’re writing an argumentative essay, they can easily find evidence to support different claims because their laptops provide quick, easy access. They’re capable of browsing the internet to help them with school and expand their branch of knowledge. 
  • Establishes responsibility: Like most electronic devices, you have to plug laptops in to charge them. At a digital school, students can establish a new form of responsibility by having to plug in their laptop each day. As a student, I’ve witnessed other students not being able to do certain things because their battery died. Charging one’s laptop is similar to walking one’s dog–you’ve got to do it or there can be consequences. 
  • Typing is faster: Typing is a lot faster than writing. If you’re typing an essay, report, or something else, typing is way faster because you aren’t writing something word for word. Since it’s faster, students will be able to get more time for their own time like hanging out with family and friends. More free time also means less time on your laptop which is good because of the screen time at school already. 
  • Makes learning fun: As a student, I know technology helps make learning more fun. Teachers like using games to test their students’ knowledge (like Kahoot, Quizizz, Gimkit). Certain games also allow teams letting students interact with each other. Students can be very competitive, so this is a good way for them to blow off steam, have fun, and learn all at the same time. 


  • Big distractor: Laptops can be super distracting. As a student, I’ve witnessed kids playing games while the teacher is talking. Instead of doing work, students decide to play games first and assignments later. Games such as Minecraft and websites like tend to be what students mainly play. Since students have tons of websites at their fingertips, it can be hard to not get distracted. Also, games can be distracting to surrounding students who have a view of the screen. Now the student playing the game and the other students are focusing on the laptop distracted from learning. All of this can lead to bad habits. 
  • Can be unreliable: Every once in a while, wifi can stop temporarily or certain systems shut down. But what happens if things start shutting down at a digital school? Teachers may not be prepared for an unexpected internet issue and this leads to them spending the period figuring out a plan. Shut downs hurt students, too. With the wifi down, they can’t work on or submit any assignments. This usually means students have to now do it for homework, biting away form their time. Being a student, I’ve witnessed systems not working during end-of-year exams, too. This particular scenario affects much of the school and those unlucky students get their exams rescheduled. 
  • Harmful effects: Students who go to digital schools spend a lot of time on electronics. Too much screen time can make it harder for the body to relax, according to research. Furthermore, most students continue to go on their electronics after school. Too much screen time can potentially be harmful. Students should try to spend less time on electronics and more time doing other activities. 
  • Easier to cheat: With laptops, students have access to lots of websites at their finger tips. With this in mind, what’s to stop a student from cheating? If a teacher assigns an essay, summary, or another type of report, it can be easy for students to search it up and copy and paste. Students can also go on certain apps to get answers for their math homework and other subjects. 
  • Writing benefits more: Research shows that writing benefits students more than typing. When you physically write information down, you get a stronger understanding than you do with typing. Research shows that writing is better than typing because typing is faster. Since writing is slower, you process information better. Also, when you write, you get more creative because you aren’t searching anything up for ideas. 

Thank you Maelynn for your analysis of digital schools!



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The best way to learn what kids are thinking & feeling is by listening to them, so I am happy to share my students’ voices!

How Mrs. Moye’s Class Made My Year Better by Breno, 8th Grade

To start with, we read a lot which is awesome. We did things we like while learning. And every single assignment we did was fun–there were no assignment I was bored while doing. And because of this class, I found some great books I would have never found. Sometimes I didn’t want to go to school or was feeling sick, and this class made my day less stressful. When I thought I wouldn’t be able to do something, Mrs. Moye always helped me. So thank you Mrs. Moye for being an awesome teacher and for making my year better!

Tips for Middle School by Leila, 8th Grade

Middle School is like a journey. There’s going to be some things that are hard. Or it may feel like you can’t push through certain trials. But you can! Starting middle school was a pretty scary experience for me. Maybe it will be for you, too, so here are my tips. 

My first tip to surviving middle school is to get a sense of what the people are like. Try to surround yourself with people you feel safe with and people that would be a good influence on you. If you find the right friends, they will always be there for you. 

Tip two is to join any clubs or groups you are passionate about: music, art, sports, whatever it may be–just do it! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Tip three is to NOT PROCRASTINATE! It is the worst thing you can do when you start getting into more advanced classes. Organize your time and study well. 

Tip four is to go to all of those fun field trips and activities your grade level participates in. These events could be one of the best nights of your life. It really gives you a chance to just have fun and be with the ones you care about while you still can. 

My last and final tip is to make the most of your time. It may seem like a big deal at the start, but as it begins to get closer to the end of the year, you realize how important this part of your life is. Get all of your friends’ phone numbers, have them sign your yearbook, hang out with them over the summer. Make every moment count. They might not go to the same high school as you. Take pictures will all your friends, and make it all count while it still lasts!

Favorite 6th Grade Activities by Josh, Nick, Damon, and Nathan, 6th Grade

  • Frog Dissection in Science
  • Teacher vs. Student Volleyball Game
  • Hoops for Hearts
  • Trackfest
  • Valentine’s Day Dance
  • Jazz Field Trip at the Bob Carr
  • End of Year Level Up Party
  • Book Trailer Creation using Animoto in Mrs. Moye’s Claass
  •  PE Units: Track, Basketball, Racketball, Badminton, Capture the Flag, and Friday Freeday
  • Creating a Civilization Activity in World History
  • Finishing the Last Standardized Test of the Year
  • In-Class Book Clubs in Mrs. Moye’s Class
  • Jennifer Nielsen Author Visit
  • Watching a Movie in Language Arts
  • Weird But True Activity in Mrs. Moye’s Class
  • Writing Blog Posts for Unleashing Readers
  • ICT: Coding
  • ICT: Typing and Nitrotype,
  • Online Safety Netiquette Project in ICT
  • Word Webs in World History
  • No Read Ink in Language Arts


Thank you everyone for your thoughts on middle school!



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