Teach By Design
Holiday
Classroom
Dec 12, 2023

Our Favorite Things 2023

We have 22 new things you’re just going to LOVE! From puzzles, to poetry prompts, here are the little things that will bring big joy to your day. It’s our Favorite Things for 2023!

Hues and Cues

“Lemon”

“Granny Smith”

"Frosted window”

When you hear these words, can you see their color in your mind? That’s the goal of the game Hues and Cues. Pick a color card from the stack of 100 and use one- to two-word clues to describe it. Players have two guesses to find that color on a massive board of 480 colors. Score points based on how closely you guess to the exact color. The player with the most points wins. Whether you’re an art teacher or just looking for a fun game to add to your classroom collection, we think Hues and Cues is perfect.

Gibson is here

If you’ve thought about how to handle the impact of ChatGPT on the work your students submit, Kelly Gibson is here to offer some ideas. Ms. Gibson, or just Gibson as she’s known to her students, is a high school English teacher and a teacher mentor in Oregon. Her TikTok account is full of wisdom she shares with fellow educators including her teaching philosophies, ideas for engagement, and tips for how to leverage the power of AI as a resource in your classroom. She’s funny. She’s honest. We know you’re going to love her as much as we do.

Fix and Finish Fridays

We love learning about group-based interventions in the classroom, so when we came across Fix and Finish Fridays, we knew we had to share. The idea is to get a group of students together who need a little extra time finishing up their schoolwork. Each Friday, students bring their homework, projects, or incomplete assignments and work with their teacher to fix it or finish it. By coming together as a small group, teachers can see where students could use extra help and students get more direct instruction and support where they need it.

Magic Words

Finding the right words to capture an emotion is a skill. To some, it comes naturally. For others, we need practice. Enter The Magic Words, a book of poetry prompts by Joseph Fasano. The prompts work like mad libs: Joseph gives you a poem’s skeleton and it’s up to you to fill in the nouns, adjectives, and verbs. The brilliance of this book is the way it introduces the elements of poetry —rhythm, theme, meter, etc — in super accessible ways. The Magic Words will be released March 2024 and is available now for pre-order.

Lego

It’s easy to hear the word LEGO and think the sets are for kids. We’re here to tell you LEGO is for everyone, adults included. You spend so much of your day instructing other people, sitting down with a set and following someone else’s instructions is so relaxing. If minifigs and bright colors aren’t your thing, we recommend LEGO’s Creator sets. They’re a little more elevated, a little more modern, a little more complex. Shop around and find your next set today!

Wakelet

If you need a way to keep your online resources organized, you need Wakelet. Think, Pinterest, but for teachers! Wakelet is an online space to compile your online materials and share them with each other, students, or other teachers around the world. Create newsletters and reading lists. You can even create a space where students submit their electronic assignments. The options are endless. They offer both free and subscription-based pricing. Sign up today!

Recess Gloves with Touchscreen Fingerprints

There are two things you need when you’re on recess duty: warm clothes and a whole lot of patience. Well, we can’t help you with patience, but we came through with some warmth. We recommend a good pair of gloves for these cold winter months, especially the kind you can use with your technology. These come with touchscreen fingertips so you have access to your phone without compromising your comfort. Plus, you know they’re great because Oprah herself recommended them!

Catchphrase Bingo

We found a fun way to keep students hanging on your every word in class. It’s called Catchphrase Bingo. Here’s how it works. It starts by asking your students to list the words and phrases you say all the time in class. “Phones away” or “Eyes up here, please” might be a couple of go-tos. Then, create a classroom set of Bingo cards and hand them out to students from time to time. When you say one of the phrases, on the card, they get to mark it off. The first one to get a Bingo wins…whatever you agree they win! It’s a classroom-wide practice to hold students’ attention just a little longer.

Storytime Solidarity

Calling all librarians! Here’s a favorite just for you. Storytime Solidarity is an online space supporting “librarians, teachers, and educators to develop diverse, equitable, and inclusive literacy programming and book collections.” It’s a beautiful website full of resources from blog posts, podcasts, articles, and our personal favorite, “Library for the Kind.” There are so many ideas to help you refresh your own collections and ensure every student can find a book reflecting some part of their story.

Adding Users in SWIS

On December 30, we’re saying goodbye to the SWIS Account Management Interface (SAMI). For years, SAMI is where you added, removed, or edited SWIS Suite user information. Now, you get to do all of that in User Management directly in the SWIS Suite. If you’ve never managed users in SWIS before, we’ve got a video to guide you every step of the way. Watch Video

Cards Against Anxiety

If you have a quiet space where students can take a break, this favorite thing is for you! Cards Against Anxiety comes with a guidebook and a set of 25 cards. Each card names a calming technique on the front with a brief description of how to do it on the back. The guidebook highlights which techniques are most useful for specific situations. We think it’s a great gift and an even better universal support in your building!

PBIS Journey to Genius Podcast

We know how important it is to hear directly from the people implementing PBIS where they work and with the students they support. It’s the reason we started our own podcast, Expert Instruction. If you’re looking for another to add to your playlist, we’d recommend PBIS Journey to Genius. Cohosts Dianne Ferrell and Diane Ruff share the ups and downs of implementing PBIS in their school. They talk about it all from a real-world, honest perspective we really appreciate. If you’re looking for some tips or just to relate to someone going through the same stuff you are, PBIS Journey to Genius is worth a listen.

NYT: Connections

On last year’s Favorite Things, we brought you Wordle. This year, we discovered a new game from the New York Times called Connections. The goal for this game is to find four items from the set of 16 that share something in common. For example, you might find BASS, FLOUNDER, SALMON, and TROUT on the list. You can group those together as TYPES OF FISH. To win, create four groups of four words without making four mistakes. Make Connections a regular part of your day or even give it a try it with your class.

Chocolate

If you have a sweet tooth like we do, you know chocolate requires a spot on this list. Dark, milk, with nuts, or without, we’d take a piece of chocolate any day of the week. If we could recommend one to try, we’d point you in the direction of Belize Chocolate Company. Made from locally sourced ingredients in the country of Belize, this chocolate is truly a dream.

Study With Me

The pomodoro technique is a study technique where you spend 20 minutes studying, take a 5-minute break, then back to another 20 minutes of studying, and another 5-minute break. You could set a timer, or you could leverage the power of the internet and press play on a YouTube video. We found one created by Apple starring actress Storm Reid. She studies while you study and takes a break when you take a break. It sounds hokey, but then I tried it and…it was kind of nice. YouTube is full of these types of study-with-me videos we think you and your students will find super useful.

Puzzles

One day, a puzzle appeared on a table in our office at PBISApps. The next thing we knew, the edge pieces were sorted. A border appeared. More sorting ensued. Colleagues started puzzling together over their breaks. On any given day, you’ll find us sitting at the table, working through a section, or talking about the day, or debriefing our last meeting. It’s become a hub for our office and we think your break room isn’t complete without one.

Coffee

Our list wouldn’t be complete without this reliable standby. Coffee makes our mornings a little brighter and our afternoons more energized. Around here we’ve been enjoying Café Bustelo in our daily pot. We also love Blue Mountain Coffee, a hyperlocal product from the hillsides of Jamaica.

TeachFlix

Netflix requires a subscription. YouTube isn’t approved everywhere. Where can you go to get your hands on quality videos appropriate for the classroom? Introducing Teachflix —an online hub of topic-specific videos crowdsourced from teachers like you. You’ll find videos for every grade level on a variety of topics. From math and science to virtual field trips, to read-aloud stories and social-emotional learning, Teachflix has something for everyone!

Green Lantern: Legacy

This favorite comes to us from our resident sci-fi afficionado, Brian Hubberd. Brian says, Green Lantern: Legacy is a Young Adult graphic novel that explores themes of imagination, courage, conquering fear, and family. It tells the story of 13-year-old Tai Pham, who learns (after being given his grandmother's jade ring) she was a member of the Green Lantern Corps, and the ring has chosen him to continue her legacy. This is a great read and a perfect way to see how heroes can come from all backgrounds, cultures, and walks of life.

Coping Skills Alphabet Poster

Once you’ve taught your students how to return to calm when they’re feeling tense, why not post reminders throughout your classrooms and hallways? You can create your own or buy something already made. We love this poster on Etsy. It has a coping skill for every letter of the alphabet. It’s colorful and super useful!

Classroom Snacks

We love snacks! If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that your classroom could always use a more snacks. Every district has its own rules for which snacks you can share and every student has a preference. When you find that sweet spot between what’s allowed and what’s beloved, well, that’s where you want to find things in bulk. Search for “classroom snacks” on Amazon, locate the snack that fits the bill, and add it to your classroom wish list!

Woozoo 5 Speed

Our PBISApps offices are located in two historic buildings on the University of Oregon campus. The windows are beautiful, but not the most efficient. In the winter, our radiant heaters come on and in the summer we love a good fan. Can you relate? When we found the Woozoo, we knew we’d found our summertime office companion for life! It comes with three speeds, a timer, and a remote, but its best feature is the way it oscillates left and right AND up and down. It’s so quiet you can keep it going during your Zoom meetings without any background noise. Can you tell we love it? That’s why Woozoo is on the list! Check for it on sale during those spring/summer months. You can thank us later.

Megan Cave

About

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.