Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Great new site find...

This is the first year that I will be teaching US History.  I've begun working on my class website for social studies and I have been looking for links to add.  Smithsonian, Thinkfinity, and Verizon have put together American history stories and related resources. They are organized by topic and era. Check it out!!

What are some of your favorite American History resources?

Friday, July 20, 2012


City Change
Grade Change
Subject Change
Yes....I'm doing them all this coming year.  After much deliberation over the last year I decided to leave the only area I had lived and worked in after college and move.  Now I did just decide to move home so it isn't a huge change but I have left the colleagues and support that I have always had.  I left the teachers who could reassure me when I doubted myself and the teachers I knew I could turn to and admit when I feel like I failed a child.  They never judged and always had an encouraging word.  They pushed me to try harder and loved their work as much as I do.  The hardest part of this change has been leaving them.  I have called to check in on their planning meetings with new team members and to hear about their first days of school (for a certain year round teacher!).  I will miss them greatly.  Luckily with the advent of the internet and cell phones, I still get to email them cool stuff I find.  They still send along resources to me.  And we can still share book covers of those must buy books (Do you own Squids will be Squids?  It's my new classroom buy!)
Weren't we cute?? :)

My reason for switching cities/states was about me.  I'll get paid more.  This is always a plus.  NC has frozen salaries for 4 years with no step increase (this goes for this coming year as well).  I'm also at home.  Right now I'm staying at my mom's house and while it isn't perfect it is something you don't truly cherish until you've moved out on your own and return.  Family dinners, chatting over a cup of coffee, a hug goodnight, etc.  As well...for this summer and this summer only, my younger brother and sister are BOTH living in town.  We're all back in the same city.  I have the time off to go and visit and spend time with them.  I know I will always look back on this summer and be very grateful for it.

Now the grade and subject changes were necessary for me to be able to work at the school I wanted.  I interviewed and then was offered the job that night although some of the specific weren't decided on yet.  Over the next few weeks it was decided what grade I would be working with (4th or 5th...5th grade it is) and what subjects I would be teaching.  It looks like I will be team teaching with another teacher (1 of the 6 on the team) and be teaching language arts, social studies, and math.  She will be teaching science, while I teach her class math.  Math was my non-negotiable subject :)  The first 3 years out of college I taught 5th so the age is not new and it is actually a grade I love.  They have independence, personality, and they challenge me and teach me everyday.

I've taken most of the summer off from thinking about school and my class next year.  This has been a big step for me and has allowed me to work on myself.  I think teachers often forget to do that.  However, now as we near the end of July I'm gearing up and getting ready to think about it.  Postings will soon be coming about the new things I'll be doing and the ideas I've stolen borrowed from others online (Pinterest and blogs are a godsend!).

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I know what you did last night....

So there is a young girl in my class whose father passed away a couple years ago.  She used to mention her mom's friend but now this friend has a new title - mom's "special friend."  Well I knew exactly what she meant so I never asked further.  However, it came up again today at lunch.  I decided to joke around with her and asked what a "special friend" was.  She said that for a girl its a boy and for a boy it would be a girl.  "And guess what?!" she says.  Then, referring to the student sitting next to her, she says that this girl's dad has both a wife and a special friend.


I had just seen the above post on Pinterest but I just couldn't stop it.  I tried my best to defend this dad. I don't even really like him.  She has written poems of the pain he caused her when he left and got a new family.  She gets so excited when she actually gets to visit him.  Last time she visited him, he left her with a friend who was a teacher (she shared this to the class as well).  Little did I know at the time that this friend was more than just a babysitter.  Nevertheless, I tried to defend him anyways.

"Well I'm sure they are just friends..I have lots of friends."
"Nope, she had pictures of the two of them at the lake and the beach that his wife didn't know he went to."
"Well.... (here is me stumbling for words) I do lots of different things with my friends."
"No.  She was his special friend.  I asked him if [his wife] knew about her and he said...NO and don't tell her."

So what is the lesson?
Don't have both a wife and a special friend....and don't tell your daughter!  Her classmates and teachers will find out even if your wife doesn't!

Monday, May 14, 2012


So who do you think is more nervous before testing? Teachers or Students? 

After reading Testing Miss Malarkey (free on SlideShare)..I must agree that teachers are.  I'm worried that they're worried and I'm worried that they won't use all their strategies and I'm worried about the students who will work their hardest and still have to retake.  I'm worried about their repressed energy during testing causing poor choices during indoor recess after testing b/c of the rain.

Today we "popped our fears away."  Students (and myself) blew up balloons, wrote our testing fears on them with Sharpie and then went out side and popped them away. I think it was therapeutic for the students fears/worries to be heard and validated.  Then, the act of getting rid of them allowed us to move on to meditative mandala coloring to create a calm and anxiety free environment.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Someone once said...

"If you make it a habit not to blame others, you will feel the growth of the ability to love in your soul, and you will see the growth of goodness in your life."
Leo Tolstoy

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Someone once said...

"To find out what one is fitted to do and to secure an opportunity to do it is key to happiness."
— John Dewey

Friday, April 20, 2012

Conflict Resolution

So I just taught a lesson to my students about conflict resolution.  We read a fable from Australia about name calling, discussed how name calling made us feel and how we could handle it, wrote a list of sentence starters, and did some role playing with characters like Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf.  Not only have we talked about standing up for ourselves this year but we have also discussed how to stand up for your friends if you see something going on.  I ask the kids to do it...I expect that they will stand up for their classmates and yet....I can't do the same thing.
I was letting my dog out this morning at about 6:45am when my downstairs neighbors decided to bring their argument out to the sidewalk.  Now these neighbors like to smoke illegal substances on the porch and listen to loud music at all times of the night, however, I believe that no one should have been subjected to the yelling that pursued.  The woman sat with her arms crossed just taking it as the man yelled, cursed, and berated her.  He used very few other words besides F*&% and B$%&*. Most of it wasn't even grammatically correct (but that's the teacher in me).  Did I go over and stand up for this woman? No.  Did I approach the situation so he didn't feel like he could gang up on her? No.  Instead I tried to make myself invisible which was hard with my dog barking at this man.  I didn't make eye contact and tried not to look.  I didn't want him to yell at me or worse.  I realize this was the best choice and all my friends would tell me the same thing.  But then I begin to students not feel the same way? 

Aren't 9-year-old bullies just as scary to 9-year-olds?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Testing Superheros

Last testing seasons I posted about EOG Superheroes that my students create to get them pumped up for using all their powers/strategies that they have learned throughout the year.  This year I am amping it up!  Here is what testing season has in store:

1. Bulletin Board
Blue sky, green grass, white cloud, yellow sun, and superhero quotes.  I've taken a collection of quotes from different superheroes and changed them to fit the EOG (NC State Testing) and testing in general.  We are also going to use the quotes for students to act out during Morning Meeting. You can get your own copy below.

2. Power Goals
The students will be taking several practice reading and math EOG tests before May.  As the students take the tests, they meet with me to review the test and set goal areas and a target score.  The focus here is on growth and making sure the students are using all the powers/strategies that they can.

3. Power Buckets
North Carolina has 5 standards for math - Numbers and Operations, Measurement, Geometry, Data Analysis and Probability, and Algebra.  Each standard will have its own review bucket - "Power Bucket."  Students will rotate through these buckets each week completing task cards, games, and practice sheets.  And let me tell you about task cards if you don't know - FABULOUS.  They are just questions cut apart and the kids think its fun and their goal to get them all done.  I don't even feel bad about fooling them :)

4. Teacher Dress Up
If the students make their growth goals, the teachers will dress up as EOG Superheroes.  My outfit is in the brainstorming stage.  I'm thinking a giant calculator on my chest, a SQRRR tattoo, a bag with a complete breakfast, etc.  Stay tuned for pictures. They should be great!!

5. Student Created Superheroes
Now students will get to draw and create their own superheroes.  Students will have the choice to free draw their characters or use free clipart that I found online.  They will to label all their super powers.  Check out last year's post

EOG Superhero Quotes (pdf)

EOG Power Bucket Labels - Math (pdf)

EOG Power Bucket Labels - Reading/Genres (pdf)

EOG Superhero Goal Setting (pdf)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Columbian Flower Festival

My students are very lucky that they have Spanish class for 30 minutes 2x a week.  The teacher is a great lady and actually just won Teacher of the Year for our school.  She is from Columbia and wanted to bring a piece of her home and culture to our school.  On March 9th, our school held a Columbian Flower Festival.  Students created flowers out of tissue paper, foam, coffee filters, construction paper, pipe cleaners, etc and we decorated the halls.  Then at home students created "flower boxes" that they carried on their backs and paraded through the halls that afternoon.  The school was decorated (and is still decorated) beautifully!  Take a look at the fun event!!


Friday, March 9, 2012


Had to share... So yesterday as I was leaving school, I walked by the third grade girls in after school leaving the bathroom. We began small talk and then they wanted to tell me about what they were going to play later. The 2 black girls were excited because they were going to pretend to be this little white girl's slaves. Woah haha. So I had to have a quick impromptu lesson about why that might not be the best game. So they said okay they will be her maids. I began having flashbacks of The Help. I quickly ended it as you can play "helpers" and I quickly got out of there. The less I knew the better :-) You have to love their innocence!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Just Checking In...

Our day is arranged to have the final 45 minutes of the day as an "Enrichment" block.  About every 6 days, the students have an extra specials period but during the other days I work to try and work on an art integrated project. During our unit on fractions, we researched and investigated the work of artist Piet Mondrian.  These are the students' finished original works of art.

During another enrichment block, students worked on completed multiplication clocks.  Students practiced their facts by skip counting by each number coming out of the "clock."  Then they got to add their own pizazz.  This was a Pinterest find! Check it out!!
These class rules and consequences were created from Teaching Children to Care.  It was summer read for my school one year and while no one wants a summer read, I did get good information and ideas from it.  It is part of the Responsive Classroom series.  It also limits the numbers of rules and consequences.  These are logical consequences and I work from.  It is only when these are not working that I move to the clip chart.
Class Rules - Respect and care for... Yourself.  Others.  The School.
Consequences - If you broke it, you fix it.  If you are not responsible, you lose a privilege.  Take a break - cannot participate.
This is my classroom clip chart.  I used the consequences developed by the our PBIS team and some of the language that I have used in the past with Responsive Classroom.  Each student has a clothespin with their number (no names or even initials are used).  Students begin each day on green with the opportunity to move up to blue or down to the other colors.  For the most part, students are not able to move back up.  I feel that once you make a poor choice, you cannot erase it but stop it from spiraling.  However, I have found that certain students require the opportunity to move back up and this is written in their behavior plan.
Blue - Great choices and really being a team player!! 
Green - You are making good choices today.  Keep being respectful.  
Yellow - You made a poor choice.  Think about your actions and make better choices.  
Orange - You are making poor choices.  Stop and think about your behavior.  Fill out a Think Sheet.  
Red - You are continuing to make poor choices.  Take home your Think Sheet and bring back signed.

Responsive Classroom Morning Meeting Poster
Greeting --> Share --> Game --> Announcements
1. Come to meeting with empty hands.
2. Sit with your legs crossed and your hands in your lap.
3. Listen to the person who is talking.
4. Raise your hand when you want to talk.
*When I remake the chart, I will change Game to Activity.  Some students think this has to be a game-game, instead of an academic cooperative activity.  I've done everything from clapping games, rhyming games and multiplication games, to four corners and Heads Up Seven Up.

This is the fabulous Extensions chart that my AIG teacher created for my students.  The green squares are reading activities and the orange are math.  All the activities are laminated and Velcroed to the board.  Students can take off the assignment to complete it and then return it.  The Velcro also allows the teacher to change out the assignments to change throughout the year to match the current units and interests of the students.

UPDATE (3/12/2015) - I do not have any of the activities that were on this chart since I have switched schools.  Unfortunately I did not think to take a closer picture.  I am however including a link to the pin where I originally got this idea.  It is a little more zoomed in.  I am also including a link to some of the cards on my new choice technology board.  You could also Google "Cranium Club." This is another take on choice/extension activities and most teacher pages have LOTS of ideas of topics...everything from memorize all the Presidents to create a PPT.
If you have some choice/extension ideas, share them below for others to use!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

100th Day Update

Earlier this year I posted about a great opportunity to participate in the Hundredth Day Hunger Challenge.  Our's went great!  My class raised 120 cans to put towards our school total of 2,100+ cans.  On the 100th day of school we had a school assembly in front of all the bar graphs.  The local newspaper came and so did the school district's tv station.  It was a great event.  The 3rd grade added to the event with a huge poster of 100 difference equations that equal 100.  We are looking for a way to still include them int the 100th day celebration but do something different than they had done in previous years (hats, glasses, 100 beans/noodles/etc).  They really enjoyed it and it was a great review back to algebra which was a our previous unit.

A friend in Charlotte sent me Flat Stanley from her 1st grade class.  He went to our 100th Day Celebration with us!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Reading Stamina - Survey

I started out this year with a focus on building my students' reading stamina.  However, I'm not sure if it is working.  One of my friends is focusing on reading stamina for one of her graduate school research papers.  If you can take a few minutes and complete her survey, that would be great.  They best way for us to help kids is for us to help each other.

Thanks for your help in blogger land!