Have you ever had a message that you felt compelled to share with the world? Something that you felt passionately that EVERYONE needs to know, a burst of insight and new understanding that changed your life and now you want it to change the lives of all the people around you?

I’m sure it’s no surprise to those of you who’ve been reading the blog for awhile, but for me right now, that message is one of encouragement for teachers whose enthusiasm for our profession has been chipped away by increasingly stressful work conditions. I want to empower teachers to be resilient and absolutely unshakeable in their enthusiasm for the work they do. I want to share teaching strategies, daily routines, and mindset shifts that will infuse their days with joy and help them uncover the FUN in their work again. I want to share ways they can reconnect with their passion for teaching and inspire students to uncover their passion for learning. Refining this message keeps me up at night and fills my days with purpose.

Hear the Unshakeable presentation at 2 conferences this October

I’m sharing the message through a book to be published this winter. But I’ll be sharing it through a presentation beginning this month! I’ve organized the presentation around three central tenants of the book: authenticity, vision, and a reciprocal energy flow. In the presentation, I’ll share how to let your life and passions inform your teaching, uncover the purpose for your practice and create your own definition of success, and gain energy from kids instead of letting them drain you.

The presentation is called “Unshakeable: How To Find Joy in Teaching Every Day…No Matter What.” Here are two events in October where you can catch it:

NCAEE conference

NCAEE: North Carolina Association of Elementary Educators Conference
Charlotte, NC
Oct 19-21

This is a fantastic conference that’s open to all elementary educators, not just those in North Carolina. Dave Burgess of “Teach Like a Pirate” fame is keynoting, and you can hear other inspiring speakers such as Laura Candler, Kathy Bumgardner, Pat Calfee,”The Bag Ladies” (love them!), and more.  My presentation is on the 20th. Register here or learn more/get hotel info.


center for urban teaching conference5th Annual Urban Teaching and Leadership Conference
Milwaukee, WI
Oct 31

This conference is hosted by the incredible team at the Center for Urban Teaching. They are passionate about preparing and supporting high performing urban teachers not just professionally, but personally and spiritually as well. I will be keynoting the conference as well as leading a Q&A follow up session. Register here.


I’ll also be giving the Unshakeable presentation at some conferences after the holidays –I’ll share those closer to the dates. I am so grateful to the NCAEE and CFUTL for giving me the opportunity to share a message I am deeply passionate about, and I hope some of you will be able to attend! Please leave me a note in the comments or reach out via Twitter if you’ll be there–I’d love to say hi in person!


October was always my favorite month when teaching PreK: a trip to the pumpkin patch, a walk in the neighborhood to collect leaves and other signs of fall, and of course, a visit from the local fire station to show off the fire truck. Though the kids were having fun checking out the truck and cool gear the firefighters were wearing, the information they learned about fire safety was one of the most important lessons of the entire year. Who knows how many lives have been saved through awareness programs with young children?

Free app Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms

Now there’s a fun and engaging way to teach your PreK-3 students about fire safety without a field trip or special guest speaker–just download the new app from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA.) It’s called Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms, and it’s available for free download in iTunes and Google Play.

The focus of the app is on smoke detectors and responding appropriately to smoke alarms. According to the NFPA website, almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Screenshot of the Sparky app story

The app includes an interactive story which is read aloud to students, highlighting each word as it’s read. During the story, students look for fire safety tips and identify them by clicking on the screen.

Sparky app video and game

Additionally, the app includes the “What’s That Sound?” music video to teach kids how to respond to smoke alarms. The app also includes a fun game students could play after your lesson: they must move Sparky around the screen to collect batteries for the smoke alarm, instilling the importance of replacing smoke alarm batteries annually and the smoke alarm itself every 10 years.

Rescue Dogs, Firefighting Heroes, and Science Facts eBook

I also highly recommend the Sparky School House website for all kinds of other free resources for teaching kids in grades PreK-3 about fire protection. You can access:

  • The Sparky’s Birthday Surprise app, in which students learn how to stay safe in a fire. Click the “Apps” tab at the top of the page for related lesson plans for phonics, math, and science.
  • A free eBook called Rescue Dogs, Firefighting Heroes, and Science Facts, great for reading comprehension practice across several genres.
  • Music videos with catchy songs that teach skills like the four key steps to follow when you hear a smoke alarm (also available on SchoolTube in case your district blocks YouTube). Click the Music tab at the top of the page for easy-to-use lesson plans that correspond with the videos.

How have you taught students about fire safety and fire prevention? Please share your favorite teaching ideas and resources in the comments.

Disclosure: The National Fire Prevention Association is a sponsor of The Cornerstone and has compensated me for the time I spent reviewing the app and sharing it with readers. All opinions are my own, and I only share resources that I would use myself in the classroom.


Need support? Join “Encouraging Teachers” on Facebook!

September 23, 2014
Encouraging Teachers Facebook group

Just over a year ago, I created the Encouraging Teachers Facebook group. I wanted a place for educators to inspire and encourage one another throughout the school year. My hope was that teachers would join me in creating an online space to talk about the good things that are happening in education and support one another, a […]

Read the full article…

A bright idea for building school morale through compliments

September 20, 2014
school morale

Most teachers don’t get nearly enough recognition and appreciation–so why not celebrate each other? Start by selecting the fastest and easiest method that faculty currently use to communicate with each other. If all staff members are required to access and use a social media account or learning management system(LMS), utilize that! Otherwise, a simple email […]

Read the full article…

My journey in educational publishing: how to write books for teachers

September 18, 2014
writing and publishing teaching books

If you have been thinking about writing a book for teachers but have no idea how to begin or break into educational publishing, I’d love to share my story with you. Dr. Will Deyamport III interviewed me about educational publishing for his podcast, The Dr. Will Show. In the video below, you’ll hear me speak about: How […]

Read the full article…

Secrets of a teacher who loves her job: make a difference for kids in poverty

September 15, 2014
secrets of teachers who love their jobs: make a difference for kids in poverty

Today’s post is the latest from our Secrets of Teachers Who Love Their Jobs post series. Caitlin is here to to share her teaching journey with us and how she stays excited to go into the classroom each day. Thank you, Caitlin! 1. Tell us about where/what you teach, and how many years you’ve been in the […]

Read the full article…

8 ways teachers can talk less and get kids talking more

September 11, 2014
the person doing the talking is the person doing the learning

On Twitter, I recently shared an excellent article by Justin Tarte called 5 Questions Every Teacher Should Ask Him/Herself. The first reflection question Justin recommends is: Who is doing a majority of the talking in your classroom? It’s the person who is doing the majority of the talking that tends to do the most learning, so what […]

Read the full article…

Win grants/scholarships with a free financial literacy game

September 8, 2014
Register your students in grades 9-12 for this free online financial literacy game to teach real life budgeting. Top scorers will win $3 million in classroom grants and student scholarships!

Disclosure: H&R Block has been a longtime supporter of The Cornerstone through their financial literacy initiatives. They have compensated me for helping them spread the word about these free resources for teachers and kids. The H&R Block Challenge is a completely FREE teen financial literacy program in the form of an online game. Through this game’s […]

Read the full article…

It’s September. Don’t worry, teaching gets better.

September 4, 2014
(Blog post) The best parts of teaching are yet to come! Don’t judge the entire school year by your first few weeks

If you absolutely hate the first few days (or even weeks) of school, you’re in good company. I was discussing this with some friends yesterday and we all agreed that the start of a new school year is the least rewarding time to be a teacher. You don’t know your kids yet, and they don’t […]

Read the full article…

A simpler way to teach writing: the one trait rubric

September 1, 2014
the one trait rubric system for teaching and grading writing

I used to spend hours grading students essays and felt extremely frustrated by the subjectiveness of my system. It was very difficult to think about all six traits of effective writing–ideas/content, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions–at one time while grading. I’d often get sidetracked by mistakes in one area, such as spelling or […]

Read the full article…

When parents want to move their child to another classroom

August 28, 2014
dealing with parents who want to transfer their child to another teacher's room

Having a parent ask to move a child to a different classroom can be a huge blow to a teacher’s confidence. And it’s an issue that nearly every educator will face at some point–if not at multiple points–in their career. Sometime parents don’t like the fact that you are forcing them to address issues they’ve tried to […]

Read the full article…

Intentionally blurring the lines between life and work

August 20, 2014
your work is part of your life

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the separation between our personal and professional lives. The line for me is getting increasingly fuzzy each year, with my professional work spilling over and mixing into my “free time” more and more….and I like that. Teaching, blogging, speaking, consulting, and writing are not just my job. They’re […]

Read the full article…

Bright ideas: how Voxer changed my personal AND professional life

August 16, 2014
Vover has been lifechanging for me as a teacher

I would never have written an article like this a year ago when a friend first told me about Voxer. Friend: “Angela, you HAVE to get on Voxer.” Me, skeptical: “Why? I already have enough social media accounts.” Friend: “No, no, this is different. It’s like text messaging, only instead of typing, you just talk.” […]

Read the full article…

15 terrific resources for close reading

August 12, 2014
close reading posters, anchor charts, mini-lessons, videos, and more

Snap Learning is a longtime partner and supporter of The Cornerstone, and they have sponsored this post. Though their products are not included in the roundup below as these resources are free, I encourage you to check out their Close Reading Portfolio or request a demo of the product here. They’re a fantastic company and I believe their interactive close reading exercises […]

Read the full article…

5 ridiculously unhelpful things I’ve said to students

August 8, 2014
5 things I regret saying to students

I was recently chatting online with a teacher who was sharing how embarrassed she was at a recent interaction with a student. He was frustrated with something in class and she told him, “Stop crying and get back to work.” As we reflected on that together, she wrote: Imagine how I would feel if I were crying […]

Read the full article…

Join us for the #teacherfriends practice Twitter chat!

August 5, 2014
Joing this newbie-friendly Twitter chat every Tuesday evening! GREAT people

Twitter chats are a great way to connect with inspiring people and talk with them about topics you care about. If you are new to Twitter or have never tried a Twitter chat, the #teacherfriends weekly chat is the perfect opportunity to familiarize yourself in a safe, newbie-friendly, encouraging environment. My friend Debbie Clement started the […]

Read the full article…

Edu All-Stars Podcast: Talking teaching and blogging

August 3, 2014
Free education podcast (and YouTube videos) interviewing inspiring educators. Love listening to this while exercising, driving, cooking, etc! So motivating.

I was honored to be a guest on the latest episode of the Edu All-Stars podcast, and I thought I’d share the conversation here with you all! I’ve had some great face to face conversations recently with Chris Kesler and Todd Nesloney (better known as Tech Ninja Todd) and it was so much fun to follow up and chat […]

Read the full article…

What’s it like to teach in Bangladesh?

July 31, 2014
Teaching Around the World

It’s been awhile since I’ve published a guest post in the Teaching Around the World blog series, and what better time than summer to daydream about seeing the world? In today’s post, we’ll hear from Karli Lomax, who has been a classroom teacher for 17 years. She’s originally from Massachusetts and earned her B.S. in […]

Read the full article…

Smooth sailing into a new school year: tips and tricks

July 27, 2014

School doesn’t start back until after Labor Day for us here in New York (sorry to make you jealous!), but of course I’ve already started planning ahead. I’ve teamed up with a fantastic group of teacher bloggers to share ideas for making the start of the school year easier. One major challenge during the first […]

Read the full article…

What do you mean by “it works for me”?

July 23, 2014
questions to ask when reflecting on your teaching practices

Hey, it keeps the kids busy and quiet, so it works for me! I don’t care what the “research” says, it works in my classroom. So what if that’s a better way, this is working for me! Yeah, using technology would probably improve it, but what I’m doing is working, so I’ll pass. How can […]

Read the full article…