Exciting lesson ideas, classroom strategies, book lists, videos, and reproducibles in a daily blog by teachers
























Meet Beth Newingham

By Beth Newingham on August 30, 2010
  • Grades: 3–5


I’m looking forward to another great year with Scholastic! My name is Beth Newingham, and this is my 11th year of teaching. I worked as the Scholastic Grades 3-5 Teacher Mentor two years ago and then maintained a bi-monthly blog on Top Teaching last year. Being a part of the Scholastic online family has given me such a wonderful opportunity to connect with teachers around the world, share teaching tips, and keep you up to date with what is going on in my own classroom. 


I have lived my entire life in Michigan and currently teach in Troy, Michigan at HillElementary School. The City of Troy is a suburban community located approximately 30 minutes from downtown Detroit. Troy is rich in cultural diversity, and that is certainly reflected in our student population. Of the 350 students in my building, over thirty different languages are spoken in students’ homes. Teachers, parents, and students celebrate this diversity and take great pride in the unique differences we all bring to our school and our community.


Education has always been a very important part of my life. I guess that was inevitable being the child of two teachers. I earned my undergraduate degree from AlbionCollege, a small liberal arts school, in May of 2000 and went on to earn a Masters degree in the Art of Teaching. Since then I have focused a majority of my professional studies on the teaching of reading and writing.  After spending time in both 5th and 2nd grades, this is now my eighth year as a 3rd grade teacher. I have found that teaching a variety of grades has helped me to better understand and appreciate the full spectrum of learning that takes place in elementary school.


My classroom is one in which reading, writing, and math workshops are at the heart of the learning that takes place every day. I also strive to weave technology into my curriculum and work hard to make my lessons applicable to the real world. Whether we are traveling around the United States on our region tour or examining economic principles through our classroom economy, I try hard to make learning in my classroom purposeful and authentic. 


I see education as the main tool that we have to prepare children for their futures. Since it is our students who will become the future leaders and citizens of this world, I see nothing more important than a quality education. Teachers have a unique and daunting responsibility to shape the future through their students. Because of this responsibility, I try to take each opportunity I can to shape the world around me for the better and to instill the same desire in the children I teach. 


I have been married for seven years and give much credit to my husband who has learned that being married to a teacher sometimes calls for the additional tasks of cutting, pasting, and labeling supplies for student projects and lessons. I have a 2-year-old son named Luke, and I also welcomed my second wonderful son Evan into the world this past March. My boys have certainly changed my outlook on life and have strengthened my will to make each child who enters my classroom feel safe and special.


Although teaching is not an easy job, I feel lucky to admit that there is nothing I would rather do.  Making learning both engaging and purposeful for my students is my ultimate goal when creating the monthly ideas and activities I have chosen to share with you.  


Click HERE to follow me on Top Teaching this school Year!

Comments (72)


I love all of your ideas that you share. I am having trouble using the www.kidsbank.com. Do you know of another website to use for the classroom economy activity?

I love the wau Beth N. organizes her room/books. If she has any Manga type books etc. - will you please let me know how she categorizes them? Does she group them - Classics / T.V.-Movies / etc. or alphabetically by title?

If possible, please email me back. I don't think I would catch the answer if it came in a blog.

Thank you -

Carolyn Eagle

Hi Beth,

I lovethe character traits posters that you have provided on your website. I am a teacher my self and I wanted to create activities with font you have used. Can you tell me the name of the font and where I can find it?


You have really inspired my teaching. Thank you! Your hard work is making a real difference in my students' learning. I have a quick question. I came across a wonderful resource (and I thought it was from you) but I can not find it again. It was a Reading Curriculum that provided month by month units based on Kathy Collins, Debbie Miller and Lucy Caulkins' books. I downloaded the First Grade month by month Units. I am changing to Second Grade this fall and am dying to find the Second Grade Reading Curriculum document. Any ideas?


how can I find different ways the short vowels can be spelled?

Hello Beth! I was recently on your classroom website, looking at your classroom library set up, and I love the idea of having a section of books for partner reading (double books). My question is: are these books that you actually have three copies of, so one copy can stay in your library for individual kids to get?


I am interested in purchasing Print Shop for the Mac but am afraid to buy the wrong one. Which one does Beth Newingham use?

Hi Beth,

I've been perusing your website off and on for the last few years since I started teaching the 8 year old class overseas in an international school. I've implemented many of your lesson plan ideas, templates, etc and it's a blast being able to better oneself as a teacher and have fun in the process. Thank you for all of your hard work, quality projects, and for sharing your wonderful ideas. I do have 2 questions for you: 1.) What does a normal week of homework look like for you? and 2.) I believe in classroom community and have always begun class with Morning Meeting to start the day. You've mentioned that you begin with Morning work..what does that look like? Thanks again for sharing your passion with each one of us!


You are an inspiration! Thank you for your willingness to share so many wonderful ideas. I'd love to touch base with you about the Social Studies curriculum you are currently using.

We are hosting an international festival in our third grades. We would like to have our children sing the song you are using about always being an American. I can't find it anywhere! Can you share the name and artist for the song?

Hi Beth, I want to implement a word study program in my classroom next year. I teach first and second grade combined. Do you know if the Word Study Lessons has a book for first or second grade? Selena

Hi Beth, I just wanted to say that I so enjoy reading about your great ideas. I also love visiting your school website. Your students look like they really love learning and enjoy coming to school everyday! I know that I would love going to a class that like! I would love to visit your class and observe your activities and your classroom management. Do you ever have teacher visitors? I only live a couple of hours away. I'm going to be up your way this weekend-too bad it's not during the week.

How do you create your school website? I admit that I know very little about technology, so would creating a website like yours be difficult for someone like me?

Thanks for the inspiration, Lee Ann

Hi Beth!

Thank you for all of your wonderful posts and ideas! I love visiting your website and blog to find new ideas to supplement my teaching. I've implemented many of your creative ideas into my classroom with great success!!

I have a random question for you. I was wondering how you became associated with Scholastic's Top Teaching blog? I am looking for venues to opportunities to share and develop ideas and this seemed like a great way to do so! I was just curious about the how the opportunity came about.

Thank you again for all that you do!

Margie (comment #73),

You indicated that you are having problems downloading some of the Print Shop files on my classroom website. Instead of left-clicking and trying to immediately open the file, try right clicking and choose "Save Target as." Then choose a location on your hard drive to save the file. Now open Print Shop and try to open the file in the Print Shop program.

I have had many different versions of Print Shop over the years, so I am not sure which version I had installed on my computer when I created each word study game. However, I know that all of the old files always continued to be accessible in each newer version that I bought. The only version I am unsure about is the new Print Shop 2.0. I have not tried that version yet. However, it sounds like the new version you have is not compatible with older versions. That is frustrating if that is the case!

Hoefully my first suggestion will work for you!


Mary (comment #56),

You asked about websites to use for leveling classroom library books. I have definitely found that the Scholastic Teacher Book Wizard is the most extensive resource for finding levels for books. However, I also come across some books that are not included on the website. When this happens, I try to make a judgement call. After looking up levels for nearly 3000 books, I have gotten pretty good at determining the characteristics of books at the different levels. I use this knowledge to assign a level to these books. Since I can't be sure of the level that I choose, I try to error on lower side so that my readers are not finding themselves in books that are too difficult. I think you will begin to feel comfortable doing this as you continue to level your library.

Fountas and Pinnell also have a leveled books website, but you have to pay to login. Here is the link to their site: http://www.heinemann.com/products/002119.aspx


Hi there, Just love all your ideas and information! It's so refreshing to see how you come up with all your creative ideas and share them for us to use! Thanks for that!! I'm having trouble with your downloadable files for your center games. I just purchased Print Shop Deluxe 2.0 today, (11/26/10) and can't seem to download any of your zip files from your literacy centers. The extension on your files is .SIG and the printshop files extension is.PSproj. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated! Margie

Hi Beth! I just love your site and all of your wonderful ideas. I have a lot of books in my classroom library, and this year leveled them all. What a task! It has really paid off though. I have been using the Scholastic Teacher Book Wizard, but am finding that a lot of books aren't on there. What do you do in that situation? Are there any other sites you use? Thanks for all of your wonderful info!

Kathy (comment #54),

You asked about my Northeast Region Tour train tickets (at least I think that's what you are referring to).

Here is a link to a WinZip file with all three tickets included: http://hill.troy.k12.mi.us/staff/bnewingham/myweb3/traintickets.htm

I hope this helps you out!


Beth, Thank you for sharing your ideas and printables. Last year I thought I saw a PDF for your Regions' tickets? If you have one I'd sure appreciate it. Kathy

Hi Beth, You have been a tremendous help!! I use your reading workshop model, thinking maps, and everyday math journals. I know in my heart I am doing what is best for all my students. Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Lisa (comment #47),

You asked if I use many worksheets in my classroom. The answer, for the most part, is no. In math, my students do use a math journal that is part of our program, but in reading and writing workshops I tend to stay away from worksheets. I feel like they often limit students' creativity and restrict their personal thoughts. Completing "fill in the blank" answers keeps students from truly elaborating on their thoughts and makes my teaching feel too prescribed.

I do, however, use graphic organizers in reading workshop at times. There are days when I want to assess my students' work, and a bunch of sticky notes in their books is not always a useful way to see if they understood a concept I taught in reading workshop. Perhaps you could use some generic types of worksheets like t-charts, Venn diagrams, etc. that students would be able to complete but would still allow them to record own ideas (not worksheets where there is one right answer).

I hope I've been of some help!


Lisa (comment #47),

You asked if I use many worksheets in my classroom. The answer, for the most part, is no. In math, my students do use a math journal that is part of our program, but in reading and writing workshops I tend to stay away from worksheets. I feel like they often limit students' creativity and restrict their personal thoughts. Completing "fill in the blank" answers keeps students from truly elaborating on their thoughts and makes my teaching feel too prescribed.

I do, however, use graphic organizers in reading workshop at times. There are days when I want to assess my students' work, and a bunch of sticky notes in their books is not always a useful way to see if they understood a concept I taught in reading workshop. Perhaps you could use some generic types of worksheets like t-charts, Venn diagrams, etc. that students would be able to complete but would still allow them to record own ideas (not worksheets where there is one right answer).

I hope I've been of some help!


Sharon (comment #45),

You asked about the spelling/word study program in my classroom. I am currently working on a post that will describe my word study program in detail. It will be posted at the end of the month! Hopefully your questions will be answered in that post!


Amy, Julie, Kristin, Shauna, & Lili,

Thanks so much for all of your thoughtful comments. It is always exciting to hear from teachers who are finding my resources to be useful in their own classrooms! I hope your school years are off to a great start!


Hi Beth,

Once again, thank you for all of your wonderful ideas and resources. Do you have a basic lesson plan that you use when planning guided reading lessons?

Thank you cindy

Do you use many worksheets in your room? I have reading, math and writings workshops in my room. We use a district wide spelling book and use science kits. for social studies I use the districts text and supplement with my own things. I very rarely use worksheets but I'm getting some negative feedback form other teachers. "When they get to fourth grade they can't keep up" or "they have so many missing assignments!" Just yesterday I was told "we have to get them ready for the work they do in the higher grades. Any feedback?

Dear Beth, I just want to let you know how much I admire your hardwork, and how much you have changed my way of teaching, thanks for everything you have shared!!!!!!!

Beth, My colleague and I are trying to create an effective spelling program. We have given the assessments from Words Their Way and now I feel so overwhelmed with what to do. I look at the word lists in the back but I am at a loss for making this program effective and manageable on my part. Where do I begin with creating the word lists and meeting needs? Please help!


Thank you so much for posting such wonderful, useful information!! I am a college student in IL, finishing up my final set of courses and the 'Regional Tour of the US' lesson is absolutely amazing!!

Thank you again!

Thank you so much for being willing to post a template! I really appreciate it and all you do to help us become better teachers and the kids learn even more. You're an inspiration!


I am so grateful for all of the wonderful ideas that you share! Thank-you so much.

Beth, just wanted to say THANK YOU! for fixing the math workshop link. You rock!


You asked about the rules for the Candy Land literacy center game on my website. The rules are very simple. A child draws a letter (or blend) from the pile and then moves to the first space on the board where he or she can make a "real" word by combining the letter (or blend) on the card with a word family on one of the game board spaces. The first student to get to the end of the game board wins! I hope this makes sense! If not, let me know.

Check out my future posts this year on Top Teaching. I will be making a video and writing a post about what word study looks like in our classroom. In that post, I will include some additional game templates and resources.



You asked about what I include on my "Math on the Water" board in my classroom. You can find more information about that topic by reading a post that I wrote last year about Math Workshop. Here is a link to that post: http://blogs.scholastic.com/top_teaching/2010/05/math-workshop.html

Be sure to check out my October Top Ten list which will be posted on Top Teaching at the end of September. In that post I will share with teachers a way to do "Math on the Water" on a Smart Board.

Thanks for reading my blog!


Lisa (Comment #32),

I'm so glad to hear that math workshop is going well in your classroom. I remember the first year I switched to this method of teaching math and felt so excited about it! I finally felt like I was meeting all of my students' needs, and the kids were enjoying math more than ever.

Thanks for your thoughtful comments about my reading and writing workshops as well. It is always exciting to hear that teachers are finding my posts and my website to be helpful.



I will be working on updating my website this weekend and will add a template to the "Books With a Common Theme" section so that you can download the file and create theme posters of your own. Your idea to have students find positive "attitudes" (integrity, tolerance, etc.) in the books they read sounds great! I will let you know when I add the link.

I'm so glad that you have found resources on my website and on this blog to be useful in your classroom. Thanks for posting your comments!


Elizabeth, Cathlin, Amy (and any other teachers who were wondering where my Math Workshop post went),

The "Math Workshop: Using Developmental Grouping to Differentiate Your Instruction" post that I wrote last year can be accessed here: http://blogs.scholastic.com/top_teaching/2010/05/math-workshop.html

I'm sorry the link was broken for a few weeks.

You can also find great information about Math Workshop on Alice Murphy's website: http://alicesmathworkshop.weebly.com/


Hi Beth, I have the exact same question/problem that Cathlin is having about math workshop and the link being broken. I know you're very, very busy, but please, please fix it because I need to look at it. Thank you so much! I really appreciate your website.


I love your "Books with a Common Theme" posters. My school is currently on the journey of trying to become an accredited IB (International Baccalaureate) school. We have certain IB attitudes and a learner profile that the students have to learn. I was thinking of making the attitudes (for example: integrity, cooperative, tolerance, etc.) the themes to help the students learn them. I was wondering if there was anyway that you could e-mail me the template or post the template for your posters in Word or whatever you made them in so the theme could easily be changed. I love the font and the word art and am having trouble recreating it. My e-mail is taitkm@gmail.com.

Your site is amazing! I love all of your ideas. I use all the items from your reader's notebook and have added a choice board response section based on different learning styles and comprehension strategies. The kids love their notebooks and take so much pride in them!


What a great time I have had today looking at your website and all the various information. Thank you for sharing! I had a questions regarding your candy land board which I loved and just printed. I unfortunately don't have Print shop but this I was able to download.. (YEAH) Of course I can figure out my own rules but do you by any chance have a copy of the rules? I'm assuming a child picks up a card and if they can make a word with the starting place they move their piece??? Anyway, thanks again and I look forward to seeing more great ideas that I can use in my literacy stations.

Beth, I just wanted you to know I started Math Workshop with the rotations and they are going FANTASTIC!! The kids learned the procedures quickly and loved the rotations. On little boy came up to me on Friday and said,"This is the first time I have ever liked math!" Thank you sooooo much for sharing all of your knowledge and successes with us. Over the years I have adopted your reading workshop, writing workshop and also the math..This year I even did the ceramic tile quilt project!! You have made me a better teacher! Thank You!!

Beth- I came across your math workshop link at the end of last year and decided to wait until this year to implement it. After showing it to my colleagues, they all want to read the blog but I can't seem to get the link to work. Do you happen to have it in pdf or another format instead of online?


You indicated that your new school was not allowing you to use my genre posters because they were concerned about copyright issues regarding the book covers. My media specialist informed me that it was okay to have single copies of the posters in my classroom. Here is the "law" that she explained to me:

I. Single Copying for Teachers

A single copy may be made of any of the following by or for a teacher at his or her individual request for his or her scholarly research or use in teaching or preparation to teach a class:

a. A chapter from a book

b. An article from a periodical or newspaper

c. A short story, short essay or short poem, whether or not from a collective work

d. A chart, graph, diagram, drawing, cartoon or picture from a book, periodical, or newspaper

I believe my posters would fit into both A and D.

Here is the website where you will find the "copyright laws:" http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ21.pdf

I hope this helps!



You will find more information about my "Team Theme" on my class website. There you will be able to download the templates for the baseball cards and the Sports Illustrated covers. Here is a link: http://blogs.scholastic.com/top_teaching/2009/09/school-year-theme.html



Hi Beth - I'd really like to read your article about math workshops. The link doesn't work. Has the article been removed or just moved? Would you please repost it or let me know what the new link is?

Thanks a bunch, Elizabeth

I love the sports theme open house. Where did you find the baseball cards and sports illustrated cover? Thanks for you dedication to teaching!

Does anyone know where Beth got the baseball cards and Sports Illustrated covers for her open house?

Beth- I enjoy looking at your website on a regular basis! You are so inspiring and have some great ideas! I wanted to know what skills do you have on your Math on the Water board? Are you constantly changing what is on the board? Thanks and have a great first day back tomorrow!

You are a doll!!! Thank you so much for all of your help. I'll let you know how it goes!!


You will find a link to download the "Reading Response Topics" handout in my Reader's Notebook post from last year. You will find it in the Reading Reponse section of that post (section 6) under the smaller heading "Reading Response Topics." Below is a link to the post: http://blogs.scholastic.com/top_teaching/2009/11/readers-notebook.html


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