Comics, or how I’m surviving the last weeks of school.

Over the last couple of weeks, the Dogman comic series by Dav Pilkey has slowly taken over my first grade classroom.  Over half the kids have one of the books in their backpacks and, “Mr. Halpern, can I read Dogman?” has been a constant question throughout the day.  With three weeks left of school, I decided we were going to shift focus and study Dogman to learn more about what.. Read More

Meghan Markle and ‘that’ kid.

Yesterday, along with three billion people across the globe, I watched American Meghan Markle marry Prince Harry.  There’s something about the Royals that captures folks hearts, and having an American marry into the family was a big deal. Well as I sat watching (because teachers seem to always wake up early, regardless of the day), my eye was caught by one of the page boys who was having a grand old.. Read More

Dragon Diary.

This week the book fair swept into my school.  I always have mixed feelings about it… on the one hand – books!  On the other hand, there’s so much ‘stuff’ masquerading as books… and it always seems my little friends always gravitate towards the ‘barely books’ stuff or books geared towards older grades… but I digress. This year, there were diaries.  There was one with a dragon on it.  It locked.. Read More

Keeping the mindset plate spinning.

One question I hear often is ‘how do you fit it all in’?  The short answer is, I don’t know.  Seriously, the plate spinning is ridiculous, but somehow we figure it out, right?  For me, a big part of the art of teaching is balance – understanding that sometimes some plates might be up, but not spinning as fast and furiously and being alright with that – it’s not easy.. Read More

Let them make the charts!

My district uses the Teacher’s College Units of Study for both Reading and Writing.  While I’ve worked as a coach for these units for the past three years, I’ve never actually taught them day to day (I used the old Writing Units in kindergarten, but I digress…).  So teaching first grade and working with the units daily is actually new to me.  Let me get this right out of the.. Read More

Size of the Problem

As I work in 1st grade, something that continues to be an issue for students is understanding the Size of a Problem.  We all know them… kids who react to small problems in big ways.  My class has a few of these friends and really, all kids can benefit from some discrete teaching around this topic. Michelle Garcia Winner is the expert on social thinking and there are many premade.. Read More

Tell me a story.

Tell, not read.  When I read Mindset for Learning a few years ago for the first time (it’s one you’ll revisit over and over again), the one technique in the book I glossed over was the storytelling.  As a coach, with no class of my own, I didn’t know how to make it work.  Not knowing how to utilize it, I ignored it, but it always lingered in the back.. Read More

1st Grade beginnings…

This week I took over a 1st grade classroom for a teacher out on medical leave.  In addition to the challenges of taking over a classroom in March, there was the added stress of communicating with students about their teacher being sick.  There have been lots of substitutes and inconsistency because of the situation and after five full days of me, I feel like are were starting to come together.. Read More


I’ve waited a whole week since the massacre in Florida to post my thoughts.  I’m going to leave the gun talk to others and focus on what I know in my heart, teachers are heroes – three of the seventeen killed in Florida last week were teachers and reports are they were doing what we all know we’d do in the same situation – literally giving their lives to save.. Read More


The other day I was walking around one of the PreK classrooms I work with as the teacher sat in the middle of the room pulling students, one at a time, to work on some handwriting.  Meanwhile, the rest of the kids were engaged in play around the periphery of the room.  In the library, there was a little girl sitting on a bean bag, holding an old phone up.. Read More