Teach By Design
Dec 12, 2017

Our Favorite Things 2017

We’ve got 24 things you’re just going to LOVE! Whether it’s a favorite pen or an innovative way to use technology in the classroom, here are the little things that will bring big joy to your day. It’s our first annual, PBISApps Favorite Things!

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Smithsonian Learning Lab

If you can’t get your students to the Smithsonian, why not try and bring the Smithsonian to them? The Learning Lab gives you access to the Smithsonian digital collections to create lessons, projects, and activities.You can save what you create and search what others have created as part of this online community platform.

PBS Teachers

Public Broadcasting System has been a pillar of educational programming for decades. PBS Learning Media gives you access to class-room ready resources all in one single portal. It even integrates with Google Classroom!

Maneuvering the Middle

Noelle and her sister, Tyne, operate the website Maneuvering the Middle. Noelle started the site during her second year as a middle school math teacher when she found herself with no one to help her plan during her prep periods. While math gets some extra love on the site, Maneuvering the Middle also offers up lesson plans, ideas for using technology in the classroom, clever organizational tips, and even a specific set of resources all devoted to middle school teachers.

PBIS.org Evaluation Briefs

A few times a year, the folks over at the OSEP Technical Assistance Center publish short summaries of research related to behavioral interventions and support. These briefs save you time by giving you just the highlights from the lengthy published articles. Check out their most recent brief and find out how every $1 invested in SWPBIS resulted in a fiscal savings of $105.


There are so many teachers showcasing their clever ideas and beautiful classrooms on Instagram. Fridays are a day these teachers promote their peers and give you new people to follow. Search the hashtag #TeacherFollowFriday and find your next inspiration.

Amy Groesbeck

Amy is a 3rd grade teacher from Texas and creator of#180DaysInTheLifeOfATeacher. She offers a real-life look at what her days teaching young minds look like. She celebrates the good stuff, commiserates with her fellow teachers over the tough days, and throws in creative ideas you can use right in your own classroom. Give her a follow!


Need a brain break? Teacher.Funnies has you covered. Find a good meme that makes you go, “YAAASSSS!”

Rebecca Eanes

Rebecca Eanes is a best-selling author and the founder of Positive Parenting: Toddlers & Beyond.  Sure, she’s focused on parenting, but her Instagram feed speaks to teachers in the classroom, too. One of our colleagues described it this way: “When I’ve had a hard day, or I feel like all I’ve done is fight all the battles, I’ll lay down and scroll through her Instagram. It makes me feel like maybe tomorrow will be a better day.”

Meme That Expectation [Danielle’s idea from Barlow High School]

Do you work in a high school? Are you ALWAYS looking for age-appropriate ways to integrate PBIS into your setting? Barlow High School has one of our favorite ways of displaying school-wide expectations: Memes. When students showed up to find grumpy cat and Chuck Norris lining the hallways, they didn’t believe the teachers made them.

Daily Shout Outs

Give a fresh take on those acknowledgements by taking advantage of your morning announcement time. Shout Outs are a way for anyone –students, teachers, administrators, anyone – to let someone in the building know they appreciated something they did, said, or noticed. Administrators read through the shout outs and choose one or two to be read (anonymously) during the morning announcements. Then, sometime during the day, all the shout outs that were turned in are hand-delivered to students, staff, or teachers.

Post-It Blasts

At [Middle School], students showed up to school one day to find a post-it note stuck to every single locker. Each note had a short, encouraging message: “You matter.” “Thanks for being you.” “Have an awesome day.” “I’m glad you’re here.” No one was left out and everyone started their day with something positive.

Phone Charging Station

You’ve got rules about cell phones at school. Why not give students a positive reason to happily, and voluntarily, set them aside. Hang a shoe organizer next to a couple of power strips and you’ve got yourself one of our favorite things: A classroom phone charging station.

Classroom Calendar

In our house, we have a family calendar hanging in the kitchen. Whenever someone has something planned, it goes in the calendar. Everyone knows what’s happening when because it’s there…in the calendar…hanging up right next to the coffee beans and juice glasses. Why not do the same thing in your classroom. Post a classroom calendar so students can see when their next test, no-school day, dance, or project due date is coming up.

Flip Chart Markers

It turns out, there is a specific office supply for your very specific needs. Just last year, we learned about flip chart markers. Until that moment, we used everyday Sharpies like everyone else and they always bled through to the page underneath. Enter flip chart markers! They don’t bleed.They don’t run. They’re our favorite!

Personal Tissues

Doesn’t it seem like as soon as you put out a new box of tissues, they’re gone? That’s why we LOVE having a personal stash of our favorite tissues stored secretly in our desk drawer.

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes

Cold season comes quickly this time of year. As soon as you hear your first sniffle, you know the sick days are following up close behind. Give your desk a quick wipe (or two) at the end of the day and you’ve just given yourself an extra line of defense against those germs in the classroom.

Glade Plug-Ins

Whether it’s been a real hot day, or their shoes are drenched from the winter rain, students generate their own aroma. Your classroom doesn’t have to succumb to the scent. One Glad Plugin can turn that musky air into Clean Linen & SunnyDays® dream.


We can’t be alone in this, right? We take morning coffee walks. There are no fewer than three Keurigs and four coffee makers in our office. If there’s a long meeting starting at 9:00 am, you’ll catch side-eye if there isn’t a Starbucks coffee traveler sitting hot in the corner of the room. Coffee is more than a favorite around here, it’s a necessity.

Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pens

Everyone has a favorite pen; ours is the Papermate Inkjoy Gel Pen. It glides along the paper evenly. For the lefties in the building, the ink dries so quickly you won’t smear it along as you write. They come in so many colors, but we think your next red pen should be one of these.

If You Don’t Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students

This is a book any administrator. Aside from its all-too-real title, If You Don’t Feed the Teachers has practical strategies for improving your school climate, communicating better with teachers and parents, and acknowledging the people who make your schoolwork day in and day out. Check out our favorite chapter, “Fat-Free D.E.S.S.E.R.T.S”, with 150 fresh ideas for encouraging teachers and creating the kind of school you always wanted.

The School-Wide Information System (SWIS) Suite

Ok. So, maybe we have a bias with this favorite, but it’s true; SWIS is our favorite system for tracking student behavior data. The SWIS Suite makes decision making so efficient, you’ll spend less time talking about what the problem might be and more time the solving specific red flags you uncover in the data. We’ve got big plans in store for this application. If you’re not already a subscriber, check it out!


Your tablet attaches to the SWIVL and just sits in the back of the classroom. It records you as you move around the room. It’s a great tool for recording observations or even a lesson you want to post on your classroom website. The folks over at SWIVL even have a blog where you can look for new, innovative ways teachers like you use it in their teaching. Our PBISApps trainers SWIVL…won’t you?

High School APBS Network Facebook Page

We’re always on the lookout for new resources for high schools. We love the High School APBS Network’s Facebook page. They post inspiring stories from high schools across the country and all the ways they work to make school better for all students. Go ahead, give ‘em a like.

Integrated Multi-Tiered Systems of Support: Blending RTI and PBIS

We know you manage multiple initiatives all at the same time…every day…all day throughout the year. If you work in a building implementing Response to Intervention and PBIS, make sure this reference lives somewhere on your office bookshelf. Whether you’re new to this arena or a veteran to the game, Kent McIntosh and Steve Goodman have covered all your bases when it comes to integrating your behavioral and academic supports.

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Megan Cave


Megan Cave

Megan Cave is a member of the PBISApps Marketing and Communication team. She is the writer behind the user manuals, scripted video tutorials, and news articles for PBISApps. She also writes a monthly article for Teach by Design and contributes to its accompanying Expert Instruction podcast episode. Megan has completed four half marathons – three of which happened unintentionally – and in all likelihood, will run another in the future.

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