Learn & Share Promo’s- Secret Geniuses

Learn & Share Promos

Learn & Share Promo’s

Have you ever wondered what the other teachers are up to in their classrooms? Have you wanted to visit another teacher’s classroom but couldn’t work it out in your schedule or theirs? Are you working with “secret geniuses?” Learn & share promos are the way to go!

Learn & Share Promos

There are ssssssoooooo many times as a teacher that I would walk into one of my colleague’s rooms at the end of the day to find something AMAZING that they did with their class. I would think to myself, “why didn’t I think of that and how come they didn’t share this awesomeness with me?” Now that I am an instructional coach I get to see the AWESOME things that teachers do on a daily basis. The other instructional coach and I came up with the idea to give other teachers a glimpse into their colleague’s classrooms and share their “secret genius” ideas by creating learn and share promos. Gone are the days of keeping to ourselves! Our goal is to create our very own teaching channel created solely of learn and share promos from our teachers aka “secret geniuses”! We really want to change the culture of our school to a culture of collaboration and sharing and learn & share promos are just one strategy we are using.

What Is A Learn & Share Promo?

Learn & share promos are designed as commercials, short (15 minutes or less) infomercials about topics teachers are willing to share. Something that they choose, that they have worked hard on and are proud to share. A new idea that was learned through a class/conference/webinar or through research. A practice they feel other teachers would benefit from or something they wish they would have had before starting something new, or making a change. As teachers, our passion is to teach. We need to expand our mindsets to not only teaching our students, but teaching each other.

High School Math- Growth Mindset Learn & Share Promo

After studying the behavior of thousands of children, Dr. Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset andgrowth mindset to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement.

The Growth Mindset Coach

How Is A Learn & Share Promo Created?

Each learn & share promo video that we created follows the 4 questions of a PLC conducted through a student-centered coaching cycle with an instructional coach. Starting with the foundation of who are our students as learners? Question #1: What do we want our students to know (standards)? Question #2 How will we know if our students have mastered the content (assessment)? Question #3 How will we respond when a student experiences difficulties (differentiation)? Question #4 How will we respond to the students who already know the content (differentiation).


Coaching Cycle Pow Toon

Math Centers In 1st & 2nd Grade Classrooms- Learn & Share

The goal of reorganizing a classroom into math centers is to allow the teacher to provide the highest quality instruction to a small group of students, while other students work productively, independently, and cooperatively in a variety of interconnected tasks at other activity centers. At scheduled times, students shift to a different center so that eventually all students have the opportunity to complete the tasks at every center, as well as to work with the teacher in a small group!

Dice Math Games

Why Create Learn & Share Promos?

As teachers we are often times, at no fault to ourselves, are segregated to our classrooms. It’s how schools have been run for years. We get busy with the day to day hustle and bustle and have everything scheduled down to the minute. We don’t give ourselves credit for the creative things we do. We feel that if we share our ideas we will be seen as boastful, a know it all or a bragger. Well……….. it’s time to make a change. The culture of teaching is changing. Teachers roles are changing. We are now not just lecturers. We don’t just read from basals as students read from their books. We don’t shut our doors and “hide” in our classrooms. We are facilitators and collaborators with open doors, open minds and are creating a culture within the classroom of learning from each other. As teachers, we are also joining a culture of learning more from each other. Practice what you preach right…..

Kindergarten Responsive Classroom Learn & Share Promo

Responsive Classroom is a research-based approach to K-8 teaching that focuses on the strong link between academic success and social-emotional skills.

Morning Meeting Ideas

Student-Centered Coaching Cycles

Student Centered Coaching Cycles

Student-Centered Coaching Cycle Guide

Are you new to instructional coaching? Have you started conducting coaching cycles? Try implementing student-centered coaching cycles using a student-centered coaching cycle guide. Student-centered coaching cycles are based off of the book called, Student-Centered Coaching by Diane Sweeney. Student-Centered Coaching introduces a new way of looking at and delivering school-based coaching across grades K-12 that puts the needs of students’ front-and-center. By focusing coaching on specific goals for student learning and student data, rather than on changing or fixing teachers, a coach can navigate directly towards a measurable impact and increased student achievement.

Components of Coaching Cycles:

  • 4-6 weeks long
  • 1-3 times per week in the classroom during instructional time
  • 1 weekly planning conversation (35-45 minutes long)

Coaching Cycles

Get Your Copy Here!

Student-centered coaching is a great framework to use to take the pressure off of both the teachers and the coaches. Student-centered coaching focuses on using student data to drive instructional decisions.  Pedagogical changes are made according to student needs. Student data is used to focus on differentiation techniques and the art of teaching. As we know, EVERY student has special needs. No two students are exactly alike. They learn at different rates and have different abilities. It’s time we adapt our teaching to fit the needs of every individual student, not just the students with “special needs”, to throw out the one size fits all framework to teaching and focus on doing whatever it takes to educate all students (our school district’s mission statement).

It’s time to gently push your teachers outside of their comfort zones for the benefit of student learning. Our job as an instructional coach is to get teachers to think outside of the box. (P.S. Don’t be surprised if you only get a toe outside of the box, consider it a success)!

Goals Of Student-Centered Coaching:

student centered coaching

There are seven core practices for Student-Centered Coaching:

1. Setting goals for coaching cycles:

Goals should be student-centered, standard focused, set by the teacher and focused on student pre-assessment data. Data should drive your instructional decisions.

2. Using standards-based learning targets:

A Learning Target is…  A goal for students derived from standards, written in concrete, student-friendly language, tracked by students and teachers to assess growth and achievement, about learning, not a task and easily measurable.

3. Using student evidence to co-plan instruction:

Anything that makes student learning visible, performance assessments such as; reading and writing tasks, discussions with students, conferring notes and student work samples. Student Evidence usually doesn’t include…  summative assessments from the back of the book, bubble in assessments, tasks that don’t involve reading, writing, or solving problems, tests!

4. Organizing coaching through cycles:

Qualities of Coaching Cycles: Ongoing, aligned with standards and curriculum, focused on a goal that is set by the teacher, incorporates best instructional practices, incorporates co-planning and co-teaching.

5. Co-teaching with a focus on effective instructional practices: 

There are 6 models of co-teaching including: one teach/one observe, one teach/one assist, parallel teaching, station teaching, alternative teaching and my favorite…… co-teaching! Make sure that the classroom teacher directs the coaching cycle. Make sure that you are co-planning and co-decision making. Remember, it is their classroom and you are a teacher, not an administrator. Also, in order for the teacher to successfully adopt the learning from the coaching cycle they will need to “buy in” to the process and feel that their voice is strong throughout the process. If they feel that the coaching cycle was truly a joint learning experience, they are more likely to continue using the strategy.

I really like using the gradual release model so that teachers feel supported. We create a coaching cycle together, but the teacher continues with the strategy. I check in from time to time (more at the beginning of the release) to see how things are going to see if they want any more support. That way they don’t feel that it is just a dump and run (dump a strategy on them and leave with no support).

6 Models Of Co-Teaching Information

6. Measuring the impact of coaching on student and teacher learning: Make sure that you are constantly evaluating the impact of your coaching cycle. Use data to inform your decisions.

7. Partnering with the school leader: Support from your administration is super important! Make sure that you are sharing your plans and communicating your process with your leaders.

Student-Centered Coaching Meshed With PLC Essential Questions:

Our student-centered coaching cycles are based off of Rick DeFour’s 4 Essential PLC questions.

  1. Who are our students and what do we want them to know? (Standards/learning targets)
  2. How will we know if they have mastered the essential learning? (Formative/Summative Assessments)
  3. How will we respond if they don’t master the essential skills? (Innovation & Differentiation)
  4. How will we respond if they have already mastered the essential skills? (Differentiation)

Student Centered Coaching Cycle Guide

Click Here for the full guide

Student-Centered Coaching Cycle Visuals

I have to admit, I am a visual learner so, I created this visual of what student-centered coaching looks like in my school district.

Student Centered Coaching Cycles

Click Here For Your Free Copy!

Student-Centered Coaching Tool: Diane Sweeney

The results based coaching tool is a must use tool in conducting student-centered coaching cycles. It really helps keep things focused and lays out the process nicely. I really like the teacher and instructional coach reflection that has been recently added to this tool. I believe that reflection is a MUST when growing as a teacher/coach. My coaching partner and I took the results based coaching tool from the book Student-Centered Coaching and tweaked it to fit our student-centered coaching cycles. Below is an example of the student-centered coaching tool that I completed with a 5th-grade teacher on the topic of informative writing. Student-Centered Coaching Tool

Click here for a better view of this completed tool

What forms do you use in student-centered coaching cycles? Please leave a comment. I would LOVE to learn about other tools.

Will You Be My Story Buddy?

Will You Be My Story Buddy 2?

Will You Be My Story Buddy?

Learn how even the youngest of students (Kindergarteners) can hit multiple standards by creating digital stories with the Story Buddy 2 app. Check out this Story Buddy  App tutorial to get started on creating your own Story Buddies!

This past week, I have had the opportunity to help some Kindergarteners create digital stories about their friends. It is one of my FAVORITE jobs as an instructional coach! I LOVE to use technology with students to enhance learning.  It’s AMAZING what even the youngest students are capable of. It was really exciting to see them in action using the technology tool Story Buddy 2. There are tons of digital story making apps out there, but I find the Story Buddy 2 app is the most user-friendly, even for the youngest of students! This project meets multiple standards including writing, technology, speaking and listening and employability skills (see below). Thank you for inviting me into your classroom for this project Mrs. Bratten:)

Will You Be My Story Buddy 2?

Step 1: Interview And Take Notes

Mrs. Bratten’s Kindergarteners interviewed a friend to find out their friend’s favorites including favorite color, food and activity. Mrs. Bratten gave her student’s the job of taking notes about their friend’s favorites using a graphic organizer. This was a great activity to practice their speaking and listening skills along with learning about another friend in their class.Story Buddy

Step 2: Write Sentences

The Kindergarteners then used their notes to write sentences based on their friend’s answer. Each sentence will be used on a page of their digital book. The students were focusing on starting each sentence with a capital letter, writing complete sentences using proper punctuation and finger spacing.

Step 3: Take Pictures/Find Images

Our first task in starting to create our digital story was to get a good picture of their friend. This ALWAYS takes a LOT longer than I think it is going to, but we always manage to get it done right. The kindergarteners learned how to use the camera app on their iPads. We worked on keeping our fingers from getting in the way of the camera, holding the iPads steady, waiting for the focus option to stabilize before taking the picture and checking to make sure we had at least one quality (non-blurry) picture with our friend looking at us. Our next step was to find a picture on the internet that represented the food the students will use in their digital story. We used Google images to find these pictures. This lead to a great opportunity to teach some digital safety skills. Once the student found the picture that they wanted they learned how to save the image to their iPad.
Story Buddy

Step 4: Create Digital Stories

Now it was time to put all of the hard work together to create a digital story. We used the Story Buddy 2 app on the iPads. Students first created a new story and saved it with their names.Story Buddy


  1. Name, Save & Edit: My first goals were to have each student name their creations so that they would it was theirs when we went back in to work on them. I also wanted to show the students how to save properly and re-enter to edit their digital story.
  2. Type 1st Sentence: The students then entered back into their story to put it all together. We had the students start out with typing their first sentence using the typing tool and the keyboard. Students learned how to capitalize letters (beginning of their sentence and names) using the shift key on their iPad keyboards. They also learned how to use the spacebar to create finger spaces between each word in their sentence (to match their handwritten sentences) and how to use the prediction tool built within the iPad to help with spelling.
  3. Upload Pictures: Once their sentence was written for their first page, the students learned how to use the camera button to add the picture (from their iPad’s camera roll) they took of their friend. They also learned how to rotate, move and resize their picture. The pictures were centered directly under their sentences to mimic the pages of a real book. We created the first page together.
  4. Create Multiple Pages: Once the first page was finished it was time to add multiple pages using the same process on their own. Each student created one page for each sentence they wrote. They each wrote 3 sentences and created 3 pages.
  5. Last steps: The last step was to create a cover page for their books. We added another page for our title page. The students typed a title and entered a background color for their cover page. We created these together. Their next job was to add a background color to all of the pages that they created. They did this on their own. The students then were shown how to move their title page to the beginning of their story by dragging and dropping it into the correct order. Once these steps were completed, it was time to save. Once saved, I was able to save the completed projects to my Google Drive where I shared them with the teacher and sent them to the print shop to be printed in color. In addition, I posted them on our district Facebook page to share with the world. The teacher sent the completed stories home with parents at conferences and created a bound classroom book.

Story Buddy

Kindergarten Standards Met:

Speaking and Listening Standards

  • SL.K.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • Follow agreed–upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others and taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).
  • Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.


  • W.K.6: With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.

Technology Literacy

21.K–2.TL.2 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Use a variety of technology tools and media–rich resources to work collaboratively with others.

  • In a collaborative group, use a variety of technologies to produce a digital presentation or product in a curriculum area.
  • Use technology resources for communicating and sharing ideas with others.
  • Participate in learning activities with or about learners from other countries and/or cultures.

21.K–2.TL.5 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand and practice appropriate and safe uses of technology.

21.K–2.TL.6 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Understand basic technology hardware and software and their application.

Employability Skills

21.K–2.ES.1 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Communicate and work appropriately with others to complete tasks. Work appropriately and productively with others.

21.K–2.ES.5 Essential Concept and/or Skill: Work productively and are accountable for their actions. Deliver quality job performance on time.

  • Recognize quality work.
  • Demonstrate a sense of timeliness.
  • Stay on task until work is completed.
  • Understand concept of ethical behavior in producing work.
  • Demonstrate accountability for individual performance.

A must-read for incorporating digital literacy into your classroom!

Digital Storytelling

Get Your Copy Here

Equip your students with essential 21st-century media literacy skills, as they read, write, speak, and create art within the context of digital storytelling, and reach deeper understandings in all areas of the curriculum! In this second edition, both novice and technologically adept K-12 educators will find:

  • Practical techniques to combine storytelling with curriculum content
  • Tips for exploring effective storytelling principles through emerging digital media as well as via traditional literacy skills in reading, writing, speaking, and art
  • Visual aids and video clips that illustrate best practices in media composition

Digital Storytelling Article: Edutopia

*This post may contain affiliate links

Manage Mischief With Mystery Motivators!

Manage Mischief With Mystery Motivators!

Mystery Motivators

Get Your’s Here!

Mystery motivators! Do you have a rambunctious class? Are you looking for a way to manage the mischief in your classroom? Are you feeling like you have tried EVERYTHING under the sun to motivate your students to behave and NOTHING is working! Do you have a student who hasn’t been responding to your classroom behavior management system (Tier 1)? Or, are you just looking for something different. No worries…..help is here! Try a mystery motivator! Mystery motivators can be used as a whole class Tier 1 classroom management strategy, or can be used as a Tier 2 intervention for those students who need that extra behavior support. They are quick and easy to implement!

Mystery Motivators

Click Here for my complete list

Positive Behavior Strategy

As an instructional coach, I have been asked by multiple teachers to help with the little ones in their classrooms who just aren’t responding to their classroom management systems. As a former special education teacher, and my experiences working with students with behavior challenges along with working with my own child’s behavior challenges, I have conducted much research. A strategy that I have used in the past and kind of forgot about, is called a mystery motivator! It is an AMAZING strategy that I have had MUCH success with. Mystery motivators build an element of surprise and anticipation with students. This strategy goes along great with Positive Behavior And Supports (PBIS), which our school uses, Trauma Informed Schools and The Leader In Me program.  It is a strategy that focuses on POSITIVE behavior!

Mystery Motivator

What Is A Mystery Motivator?

Students earn MYSTERY prizes or rewards. They literally have NO IDEA what they are working towards until they actually earn it! Rewards are hidden in items such as plastic Easter eggs, pill cases, envelopes, covered cups…. Items are placed into the mystery object. Items can be tangible items, activities, games….  Tangible items like stickers, erasers, gum, tokens, toys….anything you can fit into your motivation container will work. Or, they could be free items like 10 minutes of free time, game time with a friend, lunch in the classroom or high five from the teacher. The smaller items work really well with individual students. If you are using this whole class your rewards can be bigger like an extra recess, class game or treasure hunt. I also throw in some growth mindset quotes that I like to call “fortunes” (modeled after the fortune cookie of course)!

growth mindset

Shouldn’t We EXPECT Student To Comply With Our Rules Without Rewarding Them?

I know!!! I know!!!! Students SHOULD just do what they are told. They NEED to comply!!!! They shouldn’t have to earn things just to get their work done, do what is EXPECTED!!! Well……. do you work for free? I mean really…. think about it…..would you come into work EVERY SINGLE DAY for free (that means absolutely NO PAYCHECK)!!!! I think most of you out there would answer no! I’m right there with you. I LOVE my job, the teachers and students I work with and am passionate about molding young minds, but I would not, could not work for no $$$$$.

How Do I Start With A Mystery Motivator?

  1. Individual Student or Whole Class? The key to using a mystery motivator is to first figure out HOW you want to use it and WHO you are using it with. Are you going to use it whole class or with an individual student or both?
  2. Survey Your Students: You will need to survey your students or have them come up with rewards they would like to earn. This is an important step. You want to make sure that students are earning preferred items and activities, otherwise, the motivation part won’t work.
  3. Brainstorm Motivators: I usually ask my whole class WHAT they would like to work towards earning. For individual students, I give them a list of items (usually smaller items) they can choose from and ask them if there is anything they would like to work towards that is not on my list. Check out my rewards list. If you are planning on using mystery motivators with your whole class and an individual student, make sure you create a list with the whole class and a specific list with the individual student. I cut this list up and use the slips of paper in my Easter eggs along with a growth mindset “fortune”.  RewardsClick Here
  4. Set Positive Behaviors: Students need to know how they will earn the mystery reward. What are you going to be looking for? Be specific with your positive behavior expectations! This could and SHOULD follow your classroom rules and behavior expectations. Make sure to keep it POSITIVE. Create a visual list and post it clearly in your classroom. Remember, this is a motivation tool, NOT a punishment tool!
  5. Set Up Your Tools: Get A Full List Of My Tools HereI have used a few different tools for my mystery motivators. I have used notecards or popsicle stickers in a manilla envelope (color the mystery square-great for all ages), plastic easter eggs (Egg-cellent behavior), covered cups (punch it picture-great for older students) and pill cases (yes the kind you keep medicine in)! Be creative! You can really use anything that you can HIDE the rewards in. My ABSOLUTELY favorite tool for (younger students) that I have used is plastic Easter eggs. They are fun to open and you can’t see through them. I keep them in an egg carton when I use them with individual students and a basket when using them whole class. These are very affordable and can be reused! I like the Punch It cup board for older students (they like it too)! Check out inspiredelemenatry.com for ideas and directions on how to make this tool.mystery motivator
  6. Set Your Timeline and Goals: Will you students earn a class reward once a week, once a month, daily? It really depends on the behavior needs of your class and the age of your students. Younger students will need to earn a reward on a more short-term basis than older students could. If you have a really wild class, you will need a more short-term reward (even for older students). Like any management system you will need to over do it a bit in the beginning by setting shorter goals then build up to a long term goal. Students with more severe behaviors will probably need very short term goals. It’s immensely important to have students help set the goals! Goal setting is great way for students to hold themselves accountable!

Whole Class Mystery Motivators (Tier 1)

Mystery motivators really work well with a whole class. Grow a growth mindset with your mystery motivator!

Egg-cellent Behavior:

Place a growth mindset saying inside each egg (or other mystery item). For every egg earned, students will open and read the saying (all except for the “special egg” holding the mystery prize). Take a few minutes as a class to discuss what the growth mindset saying means. The goal is to fill the basket. This will help with those students who just can’t help themselves, or the ones who just want to sabotage or curious students. Remember, the goal is to keep the reward a mystery until the goal is met. Mystery motivators can be used as THE classroom behavior management system, or to enhance your current system. This could work with most systems. Here are a few I have used mystery motivators with to enhance what I already had in place.

Easter eggs filled with Growth Mindset messages or “fortunes” I like to call them, are PERFECT to use in your morning meeting or social skills training. What a GREAT way to start the day!Mystery Motivator

144 Easter Eggs for $14.99

 Punch IT!

How it works: Students earn letters (1 at a time) on the board every time the class is “caught” following classroom rules & procedures. Compliment them and write the letter “P” on the board. The next time you “catch” your class with positive behavior, write the letter “U” on the board.. Once the phrase PUNCH IT! with the exclamation mark is written on the board a student gets to “punch the cup”. Use a random student picking tool to determine the student. Inside the cups are class prizes and growth mindset quotes. Check out inspiredelemenatry.com for ideas and directions on how to make this tool. This blog is AMAZING!!!! Erin really does a great job explaining how to use this strategy along with tons of other cool posts:) I adapted this idea to fit my own classroom.

Mystery Motivator

Mystery Marker:

If the students meet the pre-specified criteria, they get to color in the square for that day with the developer pen. If an X appears after the coloring, the envelope is opened and the specified reward is given immediately. If no X appears, congratulate the students on their behavior, describe how well they have performed, and tell the students that tomorrow could be a reward day. On days when the class does not meet the goal, students do not get to check to see whether there is an X. Hold a discussion to see improvement for the next day. Once the Mystery Motivator is revealed, replace it with another reward from the student-generated list.

Mystery Motivator

Get Your Mystery Markers Here!

Mystery Boxes: (Tier 2 ONLY)

This strategy is designed for those students who require a more instantaneous gratification. This works really well with students who benefit from a reward for each task they complete appropriately. To use the pill case as the mystery motivator (yes, it’s a real pill case) place a small reward in each box (NO PILLS PLEASE). I usually use items like small erasers, candies, crackers….. what ever will motivate your student. I also place a growth mindset fortune in each box that the student will need to read (or have read to them) and discuss with an adult. You can also use the mystery motivators from the interest inventory along with a tangible reward, or by itself. It really depends on the level of motivation your student needs. Your timeframe could also change according to your student’s needs. They could earn their reward after completing one assignment, or after the entire reading block. You will need to decide what is best for your student and try different time frames. You will want to over do it at first and give rewards often, then once it starts working, expand your time frame for those students exhibiting the more extreme behaviors. My students have been earning one mystery box for each thumbs up earned. They don’t get the reward in the box if they don’t earn their thumbs up on their chart. It is extremely important that they get their reward as soon as they earn it! It also needs to stay a mystery. I tell my students that if they peek, they don’t get the reward. I cover the top of the box with their pictures (or words for older students) of their task or schedule.

Mystery Motivator

Get Your Boxes Here!

Mystery Motivator With A Clip Chart:

I have used it with a clip chart. I set a goal with my class that if all of my students (the goal depends on the type of class you have) could get to a certain color on the clip chart they could earn a mystery motivator. In using plastic eggs, I used the same concept as the fill the jar concept except we filled a basket. Once the basket was filled, the class could earn their mystery reward (which I placed in the golden egg). The golden egg couldn’t be opened until the basket was full. This reward usually took my class about a month to earn after we had it up and running. I started with a short-term goal to start with (1 week).

When our basket was full, we had a class Easter egg hunt. With the teacher in me, this of course was not a FREE hunt (but the students didn’t know it until the day of the hunt). I wrote math facts (we were learning multiplication facts) on the outside of each egg. To differentiate for my students’ needs I wrote some easier facts (like the 0 and 1 facts) along with some double digit facts (34×20) to challenge the students who had already mastered their facts. They were instructed to ONLY pick up the egg if they knew they could answer the problem (or they wouldn’t get what was inside). I have also used sight words. I had enough eggs for each one of my 27 students to pick up 7 eggs. I gave them each an egg carton, blew my whistle and off they went until we couldn’t find any more eggs. Just make sure to count the eggs before you hide them:) I hid a few extra just in case some weren’t found. Eggs were found by random recess students for days after out hunt (which caused a few problems with other teachers), oops.  Mystery Motivator

Mystery Motivator With A Tally System Or Mystery Word:

I am currently using the mystery motivators in conjunction with the mystery word system in a 2nd grade classroom. Use the same concept above but students earn a mystery motivator for each tally they get as a class, or the number of letters revealed in the mystery word. You could also use this with a red, yellow, green flip a card system (I really don’t recommend this approach -as it does not focus on POSITIVE behavior), this is just my own personal opinion! But, you could have your students who have green cards at the end of the day earn an egg (or whatever other creative mystery you use) for your class basket. I have also used mystery motivators with my classroom economy system. Students could buy Easter eggs with their “classroom cash” to fill our basket.

With all of the systems I have mentioned above, I would also randomly place a “free” egg in the basket, just because and tell my students how AMAZING they were:)

Mystery Motivator

Mystery Motivators With Individual Students (Tier 2):

Tier 2 Targeted Intervention And Supports (MTSS, RTI): Tier 2 doesn’t replace tier 1 supports, rather, it’s in addition to. In order to determine whether a student qualifies for teir 2 supports you will need to look at a few things such as office referrals, screenings, teacher nominations and formative assessments. Students are compared to their peers. Mystery motivators are a GREAT tool to use with students who need super short term motivation!


  1. Tier 1 Core Classroom Instruction: You need to first make sure that your tier 1 (whole class management system) is strong before even considering conducting a tier 2 intervention! This is a VITAL step! Take a close look at your class rules, procedures and expectations. Contrary to what some teacher think, procedures need to be taught, re-taught and practiced consistently. They need to be clearly stated, displayed and referred back to often (like every time you use a procedure). I have been in sssssoooooo many classrooms where rules and procedures were taught in the first week of school, but NEVER re-taught, followed through with consistently or referred back to! Sometimes this is all we need to do in order to get the mischief under control. I always tell the teachers to start with going back to the basics. The point of teaching procedures is to get the students automatic at following them. If you have to, over do it at first. I mean really, this will eventually annoy your students sssssooooo much that they will start holding themselves and each other accountable for following your procedures. It will also communicate to them that you are serious about the expectation that all students follow the classroom procedure.
  2. Conduct the ABC’s Of Problem Identification: Using data to identify and define problem behaviors (This is where an instructional coach or guidance counselor can help identify the ABC’s of behavior identification). Problem Analysis: Using data to hypothesize why the problem behavior identified is occurring. Intervention Design: Developing and implementing evidence-based behavioral supports and interventions that match the hypothesis. Universal strategies, replacement behavior. Response to Instruction/Intervention: Using data to determine the effectiveness of the supports to decide next steps. A crucial part of determining the reason for an undesirable behavior is observing the context in which the behavior occurs, including all antecedents and consequences. Use the ABC’s of behavior identification:
                                                                                                                                               A- Antecedents: What is happening right before the behavior occurs?
      B- Behavior: What the student does, says or doesn’t do.                                        C-Consequence: What happens after the behavior occurs?


  1. Select Motivators: It’s important that you gather a list of motivators that the student would like to work towards earning. There are TONS of ready-made lists out there, but they had items that weren’t realistic/possible for my teacher to use, so, we created our own list of possible motivators. I always make sure to also ask the student if there is anything missing from the list that they would like to earn. Remember, this is the MOTIVATION part, so it is extremely IMPORTANT to have the student choose what they want to earn.
  2. Develop A Plan & Goal: Identify positive behaviors, develop specific goals including a timeline (how often they will be earning the motivator) and figure out what tools you will be using (eggs, sticks, envelopes, pill case..) I would recommend using a mystery motivator along with a self-monitoring tool. The student needs to monitor their own behavior in order to increase their self-regulation.                          Self monitoring                                                              Get a copy here!                                                   This is the self-monitoring chart I am using with a 2nd-grade student. He earns one mystery motivator (Easter egg) for each thumbs up. He gets to pick one egg out of his egg carton immediately after each section. His eggs contain a motivation slip, small treat (like crackers, stickers, candy) and a growth mindset “fortune”. We also use this self-monitoring chart to set goals during his check in/check out. If he meets his goal for the day (we started at 6 out of the 12 eggs) he gets to pick a McDonald’s coupon. We literally started out with a baseline of 0 out of 12. We are working our way up to 12/12 of course. I actually ended up breaking up his morning and his afternoon. He could earn 6 mystery motivators in the morning and 6 in the afternoon with a goal of 3 eggs in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. He came up with all of the motivators, he just doesn’t get them unless he earns the thumbs up.  Click here for your free copy.
  3.  Communicate With The Student: Sit down privately with your student and communicate the new plan. Make sure that you communicate this as a POSITIVE thing!! Many students with michevious behavior are VERY smart and can usually figure out that they are the only one in class on this plan. Some students don’t want to be singled out with an individualized plan. This is where we started the mystery motivator with the whole class as well (see above).
  4. BE CONSISTENT: Follow through with the plan with fidelity. Use formative assessments (daily charts) to gauge whether it is working. Make sure that you praise the student regularly! Remember, POSITIVE reinforcement breeds positive behavior!
    Mystery Motivator



Coaching Cycles (Informative Writing Example)

Informative Writing Coaching Cycle

Coaching Cycles (Informative Writing Example)

As an Instructional Coach, my job is to work through coaching cycles with those teachers who would like to improve or enhance their curriculum or teaching practices. Currently, I am involved in an informative writing coaching cycle with a 5th-grade teacher.

Informative Writing/ Genius Hour Research Notebook & Posters

Informative Writing/ Genius Hour Research Notebook & Posters

What Is A Coaching Cycle?

Coaching cycles take place between an instructional coach and a teacher. In my school district, a teacher has the option to work with any of our 3 coaches. They are NEVER forced in a coaching cycle. Coaching cycles can be conducted on an individual basis or as a group. Coaching cycles are individualized and may look different from classroom to classroom, however, in our district, we follow the same process regardless of the size of the coaching group or topic that we are working on. We follow the PLC framework and work on answering the 4 questions of the PLC.

  1. Who are our learners and what do we want them to learn? (identify standards and select a student-centered goal that connects to the district Vision, Mission, goal, building goal and state standards) DATA NEEDS TO DRIVE INSTRUCTION!!!!!
  2. How will we know if the students master the essential learning? (Plan formative and summative assessments)
  3. What will we do if they don’t learn it or already know it? (Plan for differentiation)
  4. Reflect and share. (Examine pre and post assessments, reflect on the coaching cycle)

Coaching Cycle Intro Video: (created by me: Kristi Druvenga)

Informative Writing & Genius Hour:

The past few years I have worked with 4th and 5th-grade students on genius hour.  The concept behind genius hour is that everyone is a genius in something or they become a genius of a topic of their choice. Students are given a choice in their learning by choosing their own topic to study. Their ideas drive their research. Students choose their own topic and go through the process of conducting research (informative writing process). I quickly realized that genius hour and informative writing go together like mashed potatoes and gravy (my personal favorite:). You can’t have one without the other. At first, I struggled to organize how I would teach genius hour, so I created a plan.Genius Hour


You can grab my entire plan for free here.

 Create A Plan For Research

Step 1: Who are your students and what do you want them to know?

Identify Standards:


The first step in any coaching cycle is to identify your standards. What do you want your students to know? What are your district and building goals? In the coaching cycle process this is where we would unpack and repack the grade level state standards and create “I can” statements for our priority standards. This is also the 1st essential question in the PLC process that our school uses. Check out book by Richard Dufour and Robert Eaker called Professional Learning Communities At Work: Best Practices for Enhancing Student Achievement to learn more about PLC’s and how they run.


Step 2: How will we know if each student has mastered the essential learning?

Plan Assessments:

The second step in a coaching cycle is to plan your assessments. What are your pre-assessment and post-assessments going to look like, measure? How will you use your pre-assessment data? How will your data drive instruction? Are your pre and post assessments similar enough to compare apples to apples? Are they quality assessments? How do you know?

You can find assessments on the internet, or, create your own. I like to use a mix of the two. Be careful with assessments that you don’t create yourself. I use graphic organizers that I find online that fit with what I am teaching as some of my formative assessments. It’s important to make sure that ALL of your assessments, even formative assessments, are aligned to the standards you are working on. I also use the informative writing research notebook as a formative assessment. I choose to create my own summative assessments and rubrics (found in my informative writing pack). I also just started using (and creating) my own student proficiency scales. I believe that it is important for students to understand their learning process and the difference between low-level skills and higher order thinking skills.

Informative Writing Proficiency Scale

                       Writing Checklist


 Step 3: What will we do if they don’t learn it and what if they already know it?


The third step in the coaching cycle is to make a plan for differentiation. Are students exposed to innovative and effective teaching strategies and characteristics of effective instruction? How will we deepen the learning for students who have already mastered the essential skills?

In trying to figure out a plan on how to differentiate I first needed to figure out how we would teach informative writing. I was working 5th-gradeh grade teacher who had taught 1st grade for the past 10 years. I myself had previously taught 3rd graders. I did have experience with teaching genius hour to 5th graders, but I knew I needed to improve my process. So….. I started researching.

I stumbled upon this AMAZING blog called Upper Elementary Snapshots where I found some pretty amazing lessons to start with that were created by the talented Rebecca Rojas from Create Teach Share. I used the 4 mini lessons for getting started with informative writing. I really wish I would have found this sooner. Seriously…….if you haven’t found their blogs yet you NEED to follow them. I ended up purchasing the the Informative Writing For Upper Elementary bundle. Trust me, if you are fairly new to informative writing, it’s a lifesaver.

I realized that my students struggled most with the organization piece when it came to putting all of the teaching together. In order to plan for differentiation, I ended up creating a research notebook along with posters on how to narrow a topic and how to create an essential question that connects with the world. I used this right along with the informative writing lessons. My students struggled the most with narrowing their topics and creating their essential questions. They needed a visual and I needed a better way to explain the process. I also started conducting individual conferencing with those students who needed extra support in both of these processes. The writers workshop framework is something that the teacher I am working with and I are using for our differentiation process throughout the informative writing unit.

writers workshop

Step 4: Reflect and Share


How will your students share their newly found knowledge? What will they create? Once you have a plan in place it’s time to organize the implementation. I prefer to put all of my lessons into a proficiency scale. I use a backwards lesson design similar to the Understand By Design (UBD) framework and Marzano’s Competency Based Education. I am also a HUGE fan of Marzano’s proficiency scale bank. 

Understand By Design