Thursday, December 5, 2013

Our very mischievous elf......

So the past few days have been very busy in our classroom! Our student teacher, Ms. Hentz finished up on Tuesday, we have been MAP testing and tomorrow each of the 700 students at our school will receive a brand new pair of tennis shoes from a local church!  Through it all, our elf Kringle has been so busy getting into a little ( ok, a lot) of mischief!!! After getting into the powdered donuts on Monday, he found my stash of tinsel. He appeared to have lots of fun and he even blamed it on our student teacher!!! Then this morning I discovered he had gotten into the indoor recess games and had pulled out all the checkers games! Checkers were every where.
I think my students are really enjoying Kringle's daily antics as well as the letters he leaves them each day!
I think the magic of Elf on the Shelf is definitely working because today was the first day in a long time that every student in my class got a 3 for behavior!!!
I am loving it!!!!
Thanks Kringle!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Introducing ......Kringle the Elf

Yes, I broke down and adopted an elf on the shelf for my 5th grade classroom. At first I thought that it might be a little too juvenile for my 5th graders but judging from the reaction of my kids today...they love the idea.

Our elf's name is Kringle and he left the kids a  letter on the Promethean board and a platter of powdered sugar donuts.

I found some cute activities and ideas on daily Elf antics online (thank you to all who have shared).

I will be taking pictures and blogging (hopefully daily) to chronicle Kringle's activities in our classroom.

Follow along for a little holiday fun.....

Monday, September 9, 2013

Best Pencil Sharpener EVER!! (A product review) and a little about my new pencil program!

Last year I got so frustrated that my students broke every pencil sharpener I bought for my classroom. In fact they broke 5 including the one I borrowed from my principal (oops!).  I tried everything to keep those sharpeners working while still making sure my students took the responsibility of having pencils and being prepared for the day. I was just about to give up and let my students use those annoying (not to mention, messy) hand held sharpeners this year.

Then I saw a posting on one of the blogs I read about this beauty.....
A fellow blogger posted that Classroom Friendly Supplies was giving away these sharpeners to teacher bloggers who were willing to try them out in their classroom and do a review on their blog. Well, I could not sign up fast enough and almost immediately I was contacted by a rep who asked me what color I wanted. I picked green because, well green is my favorite color.  Less than a week later, it arrived at my school just in time for me to start my new pencil program in my classroom (see below). I can be a little mechanically challenged so it took me a few minutes to figure out how to put it together and attach it to my table in the classroom. Then I grabbed a fresh pack of No. 2 pencils and I found Nirvana!!  

This sharpener sharpens pencils perfect every time. The cup that holds the shavings is big enough to hold the shavings of at least a dozen pencils before needing to be emptied. And the best part is the little gripper thingy (I am sure there is an official name for it) just push the two levers together and pull out the mechanism (doesn't that sound move official) that holds the pencil, then crank the handle and start sharpening.  The entire sharpener can be mounted to a table or counter in your classroom with a vise like-grip that can be inserted into the bottom of the sharpener. It makes sharpening pencils a DREAM!! I really don't know how I have survived this long without this sharpener. Thanks Classroom Friendly Supplies....I love my sharpener and I know this one will survive my students this year!!!

And as I mentioned, it will really help out with all the pencils I have to sharpen each week now as part of my new pencil program. If you are like me, the last thing you want to endure while teaching is one of your little friend's hands shooting up and announcing that they need to use the pencil sharpener. If you let said friend get up to sharpen his/her pencil then we know that this invites every other student in the class to then want to sharpen their pencil. And this leads to mass chaos, and anarchy!!  Not to mention the number of times that students come to class WITHOUT a PENCIL! Who does that???

So the one time I was on Pinterest (okay, that is a lie, I am on there every week...okay...every day....hour) I saw a pin for a perfect solution to my pencil problem. "Winning the Pencil War" is what it was called and it is free HERE on TeacherPayTeachers. Here are the basics--you give each students eight pencils at the start of every week. I bought plastic pencil boxes at Walmart for 50 cents each and placed 8 sharpened pencils and a pink bar eraser in each one, then put the students name on it. They use them all week and turn the boxes into me on Friday. I check them and if they have all 8 pencils, I leave them a small prize --a sticker, a novelty eraser, etc.  We can't give out candy but are a PBIS school and use a paper money system called SOARbucks (we are the Eagles)  at our school in conjunction with our school store and I gave them a SOAR buck the first week. I then sharpen the pencils that need sharpening and return the boxes to them Monday morning. If they are missing one or more pencils, or if their bar eraser is not in there, they do not get the prize Next month, once we have been practicing this for several  weeks, I will begin keeping track of who has all their  pencils each week for the month and give those students a larger prize and perhaps do a drawing for something bigger. So far so good. The first week I had 6 of my 17 who were missing pencils and last week only 3. The overarching benefit is that students know it is their responsibility to keep up with their pencils and not break them (I suspect some of my little friends were intentionally breaking a pencils lead so they could get up and sharpen their pencil because it meant a) they could escape my lesson for a few minutes b) could get out of their seat and c) they could pass by their friend's desk for a little connection. This program stops those three from happening as frequently, as they are not allowed to use my sharpener. I plan to have a student become my Pencil Helper later in the year also, as I will eventually grow tired of doing all that sharpening!!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Reflections from EdCampSC......

About a year or so ago I started hearing all this buzz about EdCamp. I saw postings on Twitter, read a few posts on blogs and even saw it mentioned on Facebook.  I have to admit, I was intrigued even more once I read up on the format.

For those of you who have not heard, EdCamp is a "un-conference" being organized around the country by educators like us. It is a one day event and I have to say is the best PD I have ever been to. Here is the premise...educators gather together for a day of sharing....only it is much more than that.  At the start of the day, usually over coffee, doughnuts, etc. a brainstorming session is held The attendees write ideas for possible sessions down on butcher paper. Those in attendance who are willing to facilitate a session, sign up to do so next to the session they want to facilitate. Yep there are no canned presentations, no sales pitches, etc. Then attendees vote for the sessions they would like to attend. They are given 3 stickers and they place them next to their top three. Then the group moves into a opening session, usually with a keynote speaker in the field of education, etc. While the keynote is happening, the organizers set the schedule based on the sessions that received the most votes.  Once the sessions are set, the attendees decide which sessions they want to attend. The person facilitating is not a presenter they just get the conversation rolling. The best thing is that these sessions subscribe to the "law of two feet" meaning if you go into a session and it is not meeting your needs/expectations, you get up and go to another hard feelings. There have been EdCamps all over the country including the very first one held in Philadelphia in 2010.  There is even one scheduled for the Netherlands next month. The event is entirely free to attendees thanks to sponsors who provide the facility, meals/snacks/drinks, door prizes, etc.

Yesterday, I attended EdCampSC, the first EdCamp to be held in South Carolina. It was held at Sullivan Middle School (kudos to them and to Rock Hill Schools for hosting this event) in  Rock Hill, SC just outside of Charlotte. It was a 2 hour drive for me, which meant I had to get up around 5am on my day off to get there in time for the 8:30am start. Bleary-eyed with my travel mug of coffee I set out for Rock Hill. Once i got close to my destination, I began to see signs and volunteers directing traffic into the school. More volunteers greeted me, and pointed the way to the registration table where I was greeted warmly, given a schedule sheet with last minute notes and a name tag and sent off to the cafeteria for coffee and doughnuts.  I immediately saw a few familiar faces from the Upstate Technology Conference I presented/volunteered at in Greenville in July including Chris Craft (@crafty184) whom I heard speak at UTC.  I grabbed a fresh cup of coffee and made my way to a table of educators and introduced myself. I found out they were new to EdCamp as well so we all felt a little more comfortable and chatted about what we were excited about for the day.  Soon an announcement was made about the huge sheets of paper around the room. It was time to start brainstorming session ideas. As I walked from table to table I not only realized there were going to be some amazing sessions, but I also saw a lot of common themes---technology, student engagement, Common Core, BYOD and many more. I did not feel ready to facilitate a session (although looking back, I totally should have....but there is always next year), so I just looked at the ideas for the sessions and started to decide which ones I was definitely voting for . I knew it was going to be hard to pick just 3.

Soon we were headed into the auditorium for the keynote.  Eric Sheninger, the principal at New Milford HS and NASSP National Digital Principal Award recipient in 2012 delivered  his keynote via Skype. How cool was that. He had lots of encouraging words for us as educators and encouraged us to use social media to make our voices heard and to share ideas with one another. Once the keynote was over, the schedule was announced and we headed to our sessions. I chose "Twitter in the Classroom" as my first session, facilitated by @NFLafve.  What a great session to kick off with. The participants ranged from a Kindergarten teacher to a University Professor. I was amazed as I listened to these educators share how Twitters was allowing them to get their students engaged, including kids as young as 5. Other issues that cropped up in our discussions were Twitter and other platforms being blocked in our district, using apps such as and addressing BYOD and parents security fears/issues. It was a great discussion and I came away with a lot of new knowledge on Twitter as well as a renewed determination to make it work in my classroom. For the second session I chose "Google Hangouts" and while I did glean some new info from this session, " but after discovering the limitations of Google Hangouts on my iPad, I  failed to use the law of "Two Feet" to find another session, and chose instead to sit and GChat with a fellow blogger/friend  who could not attend the conference, and also tweeted until the session ended.  Before the final session, we were fed a yummy lunch sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcout and I did some more networking.  My last session was very animated and was on a topic that I could relate to "What to Do when Students have No Tech at Home."  It was facilitated by @derekmcquiston a teacher and instructional technology specialist for Rock Hill SD. He was funny and energetic and quite animated and kept the conversation rolling. The group discussed the ideas for getting devices in the hands of students at home through community initiatives with ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner (note to self, talk to folks about getting Charter to replicate some of the programs these other ISPs in othere cities have done,  for our Free/Reduced lunch students here in Greenville.) We also shared ideas for alternate assignments, finding open computer time before, during and after school for these students and using apps that can be accessed on a smartphone (we surmised that more and more parents had them). So it was about getting students access not just devices. I had to admit, I was a little envious (okay A LOT) hearing these teachers from Rock Hill talk about their 1:1 classrooms (RHSD has gone completely 1:1 for grades 4-8) but those teachers also faced issues with students not being able to take the devices home due to parents not attending mandatory meetings or buying the required insurance.  I was also encouraged to hear all the talk about teaching students to be good digital citizens.  The day ended with a closing session where were were told that the official conference hashtag #edcampsc was trending on Twitter! What a great note to end on...but yet, there was more! Door prizes (of which I dd not win) and also a call to spread the word to colleagues that EdCampSC would return again next year, and also that volunteers were needed.  It was a great day and a HUGE shout out to the main organizers/co-founders of EdCampSC,  LaToya Dixon (@latoyadixon5) and Mike Waiksnis (@mwaiksnis) two principals in Rock Hill SD. History was made in Rock Hill yesterday and it would not have been made without them and their planning team! 
Whew! That was long...but I wanted you to get a feel for what the EdCamp movement is all about.  I will leave you with a tweet from Chris Byerle one of the many SC educators in attendance yesterday...says it all.
In fact, one of the highs of my day was meeting so many people in Education in the Carolinas that I follow on Twitter as well as picking up quite a few new followers myself.

Whew- that was long, but I wanted to Skype his 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

We have a Winner!!! My $75 Wise Decor Gift Certificate Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Congrats to Sidney from Teaching is a Gift. Sidney wins a $75 gift certificate to Wise Decor Custom Wall Lettering! Woo Hoo! Start shopping and I would love to know what you get with your gift certificate!  Thank you to all who entered. Check back on my blog this afternoon for some exciting news about a collaborative project I am doing with Pinterest!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Are you following me on Bloglovin?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin I just came across this a few months ago and have nly played with it a little. I have started following my bloggy friends as well as anyone who leaves me a comment here on my blog. I d have a question...I used the "Google" join feature up to this point. Are most of you deleting the widget off your blogs or keeping it? Just curious! Anyway..please follow me on Bloglovin and I will follow you back.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Mentoring a New Teacher

On Tuesday I will attend a breakfast for the new teachers and staff joining our school this year. I will be assigned to mentor a new teacher. This will be my second year and I certainly hope I do a a better job of it than I did last year!! Don;t get me wrong, my mentee last year survived, despite having me as a mentor. You see it was my first year as a mentor, and despite having attended a 3 day PD required by our state, I was flying a little blind. I wanted to support this new teacher (who, by the way, had about 10 more years of teaching experience than I did --more on that later) and assure them that despite being overwhelm, it did get better. But there were days when I was so overwhelmed that I was useless to her.
First obstacle- We were on different grade levels but on the same hall. I have taught 4th grade for 4 years and this new (to our district) teacher was in 4th, while I was teaching 5th. Yes, I knew the curriculum, but so did her team mates so they were better suited to hep her in that area. I tried to handle the nuances of dealing with our student population (and their parents), navigating paperwork, what to do when technology fails, etc. I think I handled that pretty well. It was a challenge to try and do observations because we were on different schedules but we made it work.
Second obstacle- this teacher had been teaching longer than me...she could have mentored me! However, our district requires that all teachers new to our district must have a mentor.

We both survived the school year but I knew when my principal asked me to mentor a new teacher again this year, I needed to make some changes. I came across this infographic on Twitter.
Here is what I am going to do differently this year-
1. Sit down the first day we are back at school (just teachers--no students) and give her a chance to tell me what she needs help with (preparing a classroom for the first day of school is more than putting up bulletin boards and making name tags). I will talk to her about spending the supply money we get wisely and give her tips on how to make it last.
2. Help her prepare for Meet the Teacher (room, letters, forms, etc). Sit down the next morning to talk about how it went.
3. Schedule out a weekly meeting (15-30 minutes) to talk about how things are going and see what support she needs. In addition, of course she can come to me whenever she needs.
4. Make plans to visit her classroom this first day (if not the first week). Sit down afterwards and listen to her tell me how the day went, and give her suggestions for some areas that may need addressing.
5. Find ways to support her and encourage her (notes, small gifts, pat on the back).
6. Encourage her to get involved with committees, PTA, etc. as the year goes on. In the beginning, let her focus on herself and her class.
7.Sit in on her first parent-teacher conference/parent meeting. Maybe even do a mock-conference before hand.

I am genuinely hoping to make a difference with this teacher this year. I remember my mentor when I first began teaching and she was supportive, and encouraging and kept me sane that first year. And while I feel like I was helpful tt he teacher I mentored last year,  think  would prefer getting a brand new teacher this year. I think I can help her so much more.

 If you are not following @Edudemic you need to! Lots of great info here and I stated making a list of ways I could support this new teacher! I am very excited about meeting her on Tuesday and I promise to post periodically about how things are going and share new ideas of what is working with us. Heck, I may even convince her to guest blog with me so you all can get if from the new teacher perspective. In the mean time, head over to Edudemic's website and check out this infographic and the accompanying article!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Giveaway Time: $75 Gift Certificate to WiseDecor.. a great site for custom wall words for decorating your classroom!

If you are like me, you are scratching your head wondering how you are going to turn the blank canvas that is your classroom into a masterpiece. 

Well today is your lucky day!! I have the privilege of offering up a $75 gift certificate for WiseDecor.Classroom Wall Decals

Head over to their website and check out the great wall decal options they have for your classroom walls. I have picked out several that I really like and I will be selecting one and reviewing it on this blog later this month. 

Click on the link below to begin completing the option to be entered into this giveaway.  I look forward to reading all your comments about what you would select if you win the gift certificate.

The contest ends at midnight on Wednesday August 14, 2013. Don;t forget to tell your friends an fellow bloggers. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"I am SO doing this in my classroom this school year!!!"

Do you ever feel like trying every new idea, tool or program you come across? I do! My inner voice should "I am SO doing this, this school year" whenever I come across an idea on Pinterest, or in a workshop r on Twitter.  We all know, the reality is, we come across tons of ideas and we can't possibly implement them all. I am a little GUILTY of starting stuff and then dropping it mid-way through the year. Sometimes that is a good thing, especially when my lack of enthusiasm is evident or if I get to overwhelmed with the day to day stuff. Last year I was so good about doing my daily vocabulary/word of the day and also about blogging with my students.  It helped that I had looked up from 4th to 5th with my same students so I knew them pretty well, especially what they could ad couldn't handle. So here are a few of the new things I am definitely doing in my classroom this year---

1. Class Dojo. I tested this out a few years ago and loved it. But I tried to implement it midway through the year and soon realized you have to get buy-in from the kids from the very beginning. I saw several teachers present on this at workshops this summer and it really got me pumped about using it. It is a computer based behavior management program. The kids love the cute avatars and they love listening for the "ding" when someone gets a point. I will display it on my Promethean boar throughout the day (but not all the time) but will keep the volume up so I can add/subtract points throughout the day as students work. I am using data notebooks this year (see #2 below) so I am going to have students chart their points for a monthly reward.

2. Student Data Notebooks. Let's face it. We live in a data driven world and we teach in a setting riddled with data. Yes, it is difficult to wade through it all to analyze it. But sometimes it is just what is needed to help you develop a solution to a problem to identify a problem you didn't really know was there. I am not a fan of putting more work on my own plate so the use of student data notebooks will put most of the responsibility on the students. It will hold them accountable for behavior and achievement. I am going to start small..charting only 5 things: behavior (using data from Class Dojo), Reading and Math common assessment scores, and vocabulary scores (I am going to try out Flocabulary- see #3 below).  I think this is a good start.

3. Weekly Vocabulary instruction using Flocabulary. My students know the words to every song on the radio but they have difficulty remembering much of what I teach them. We take MAP (Measures of Academic Performance) tests 3 times a year and the students in our school are always weak in vocabulary. Last year I did a word of the day with definition,  picture, context sentence and part of speech. My kids did okay with it, and it was a bit of a chore to keep up with. A colleague used Flocabulary for some of the reading skill we taught lat year and I tried it out at her suggestion. I got a 14 day free trial and I was hooked and so were my students. Argument settled...using Flocabulary for vocabulary instruction this year. There are activities (which I will use for homework practice) and a test you can give with an answer key. It is a great program!

4. Edmodo. Again, I started using it with my students late in the year last year. However, after attending some training this summer, I am ready to go full steam ahead. I love that I can post questions, quizzes, polls, etc. and even share documents. For the students who have computers at home, they love to get on after-school and leave messages for each other or for me.

Well, I think that is about all I can handle to implement this year...although I will continue blogging with my students, I was hoping to have them set up their own blogs but I think I am going to try a hybrid approach with Edmodo and see how it goes.  We are in a bridge year with common core on our grade level, we are in year 4 of Fountas and Pinnell and year 3 of Empowering Writers....I am so going to have my hands full.

I promise to blog periodically throughout the year and let you all know how this goes.

I would love for you to comment below and share the new things you are planning implementing in your classroom this year!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?

This quote has been attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, one of my personal heroes, but I have often heard it quoted (or rather misquoted) by others.   Today I was at school for a little while attending a birthday breakfast for our principal . Yeah, we like her enough to have a breakfast in her honor on a Thursday morning at 7:30 am in the middle of summer break!!  Whenever I am in our building it is inevitable that the memories of the past year, and dreams of the upcoming year begin to creep in. Whether it is the fists week of break or I am staring down the barrel of the final 3 weeks before summer ends, it is always the same feelings and emotions that come flooding back.

As I was driving home I started thinking about what I wanted to accomplish this school year with my students...and this quote came to mind.

I would not so much use this quote for myself, to think of all the things I would attempt but rather use it as a jumping off point for my students.  This could be a writing prompt, a hook in for goal setting, and ever a piece to get them to reflect on the choices they make on a daily basis.

I am think we are raising a generation of kids who don't know HOW to be risk takers. I see my students often trying to take the easy way out rather than seeking out and taking risks with their ideas. I am hoping to remedy that this year and I hope this quote will be a good jumping off point.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Writer's Block, Summer and School Supplies.

I think I have writer's block!! I honestly have not had the energy or the ideas to blog about this summer. However, I know I should be blogging but don;t want to blog just to blog. Get my drift? A lot of the bloggers I follow are very active in both blogging and in TpT. I am neither. I need some motivation!!! ASAP!

I am also in denial tat summer is coming to an end for me in 3 short weeks. Don't get me wrong..I am excited to get back into my classroom and prepare for the upcoming year. I am so excited about my next class of 5th graders. I have done a little PD this summer and I have been reading everyone else's blogs. I have jumped into building a PLN on Twitter and I am ready t go back. I will miss my late nights, freedom to do what I want, hours on the computer, and even more hours with my nose in a book. I have watched 2 entire seasons of series on Netflix (House of Cards and Orange is the New Black...both are very edgy, but I love edgy). I have done some traveling (DC, Virginia and the Outer Banks of NC), spent some quality time with my 12 (almost 13) year old son and also my husband (while my son was away). I have taken m first class (in a long time) at the gym and wasted hours of time I can't account for (and don;t care too).  But I know that all good things must come to an end so.....

I am putting myself on a plan to prepare for back to school starting today, AND I am going to start shopping for supplies for my room. As far as I know we are getting $275 to spend and I am usually half way done spending it by this time. But i am struggling with a theme for my classroom. I re-read a few of the Harry Potter books this summer an I think I may want to tackle doing a Harry Potter theme. Not sure how my 5th graders would like it...I was going to add a tagline/theme to it "Welcome to the Magic of 5th Grade." Would live some feedback from anyone who had done a HP theme in their classroom..there is some stuff on Pinterest, but not a ton. I have some ideas but would love to hear what you all think of it....

So my bloggy friends...I leave you with a video clip from K Mart...about schools supplies (gotta find a way to use this one the first day of school!!). Cracks me up every time I see it...enjoy these last few days of summer. I know I will!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Finally Summer Break...Can I Get A Do-Over?!?!?!

Well summer break is finally here and it is time to look back on the past year and reflect. But honestly, all I can think of is how in so many areas, I want a "do-over."

Let me explain.. This was my first year teaching 5th grade. I also looped up with my 4th graders to 5th. It was genuinely a great year, but I still made some "rookie" mistakes! First off all I was horribly disorganized. I have never been one of those teachers that had the perfect room award, but I let it get out of hand. This may be why I was still plugging away at cleaning and packing my room long after the rest of my team had finished and packed in in to start summer break last Friday. I did get finished at about 4pm which is not bad, but I will still have some damage control to do in August.

Another area I wish I had done better was with WBT. I started out strong..taught them the 5  rules, "class/yes", "Teach-Ok", and a little of the "mirror" technique but had a hard time with consistency and especially keeping up with the scoreboard. My kids loved what we did do, but next year, I will go full-on.

I also failed miserably at saying "NO."  I took on way more than I should have responsibility-wise, including sitting on several committees, and book studies. I need to be able to control the level of commitment and balance my life. With Common Core kicking in next year, I am going to be in over my head. Plus our principal is not allowing us to team teach so I am going to be picking up both Math and Science, along with Writing.

Finally, I have not kept up with this blog!!!!! Now that summer I here, I will do fine, but once school is back on in mid-August, I am going to try not to blog so sporadically, and will share all the exciting things going on in my classroom.

So for those of you who are already on break....we survived another year!!! And to those still plugging away..the end is in sight.  Here's to a productive summer!

Finally, a huge THANK YOU to all my followers...thanks for hanging in there. I promise some fun stuff this summer!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pancakes...Laundry and....Test Prep...oh my!

Yes, I lead such an exciting life, don't I?  Well, this week is Spring Break and since we are staying at home this week, I am catching up on things both work and home related.

This morning I actually got to make breakfast for my son...and made his favorite, pancakes. I was going to try these(since I have seen a bazillion people pinning them on Pinterest.

But who a I kidding...I am just not that fancy (or patient!) So he got the boxed not the frozen ones, the boxed MIX kind. He enjoyed them, and I enjoyed our brief chat at the kitchen table as he wolfed them down ...counting the minuted until he could return tot he couch and his video came. At this point, I take those moments and hold them dear, no matter how brief  because I know it won't be long and he will be heading off to college (okay, that's not for 6 years, but still....)

And then of course there is the laundry....I have put it off all week and I am out of gym clothes (yes, I am going to the gym today....can;t put that off any longer either, plus I need to work off those pancakes I ate this morning!!

And last but definitely not least, on my agenda today is to start writing some plans for test prep and review. Yes, we prep them all year long for THE TEST...but when we return next week to school we have exactly 20 schools days until State Testing begins. And we are not even finished with the last 2 Social Studies units. We are already reviewing ELA and getting ready to start our 5th grade research unit and project but 20 days is not a lot of time to get this all done. I am freaking out just a little. And I am not sure why, because A) state testing is going to happen whether I want t to or not (and whether my kiddos want it to or not) and 2)it happens every year, so why am I shocked, surprised, freaked out...?!?!?! and III)oh whatever...I just need to find an interesting an hopefully fun way to review with my kiddos because i am pretty certain they have forgotten the difference between an adverb and an adjective and what the causes of World War II were. Heck, most days, they forget to put their names on their papers, LOL!! And while you are scratching your heard and asking what about Science and Math don;t forget I team teach so I only do ELA- Reading and Social Studies.

So here is my real I kill a zillion trees (the Lorax is sitting on my shoulder as I type this) and print off the "Essential Facts for 5th Grade" for ELA and Social Studies and pretend my students are going to even look at them, or face the reality that those trees were sacrificed so they could shove them down in their bookbags and rifle through their desks looking for them when I ask them to pull them out to review?!?!?

Or do I take a new and unique approach to review this year, and if so, what is that new an unique approach. We have tons of technology in my classroom (brand new laptops, an iPad, Activotes)....somehow I need to tie in technology because they love it, they respond to it, and it just may cement some of these concepts int heir cute little 5th grade noggins!!!

HELP....suggestions appreciated. How do you review for the TEST...leave me a comment below. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April Currently....and a game plan for this week!

Wow, I can not believe it is April already. Time is flying by so fast! But for now, I will continue to enjoy my spring break. I have managed to get lots of stuff done around my house, and finish my lesson plans for next week. However, I have done nothing else...well that is not entirely true...I have managed to eat my weight (or close to it) in Easter candy an since I have not been to the gym since Friday, I am a little terrified to step on the scale.

Last night I logged onto my blog and started going through my feed and saw lots of people posting this month's Currently. I have not participated in a few months so I was super excited to get back into this little morsel of linky goodness!!

So here is my April that Farley does this every month and that so many people participate. Here is a link to her blog if you want to participate (she has a blank one of these that you can edit in PicMonkey or any other editing program)

My son has a friend over today and I am going to try and pry them away form the TV long enough to get to the Y so I can workout while they swim.  I can't believe that Spring Break is finally here but it is flying by so fast. I keep thinking about my to do list of stuff I wanted to get done this week while we are out of school. I doubt I will be able to complete it but I am going to try, including reading 3 books I brought home in my teacher bag. And who was I kidding thinking I was going to touch any of that work I brought home, lol! 
Whatever I do, I need to stay away form the Easter candy and head to the gym. If I don't I will be sorry!!!
Last but not least, my advice for other bloggers and teacher sis about sharing. I have worked in teams that were great sharers, and also with people who hoard ideas like a fat kid hoards candy bars. The latter is toxic and nobody wants to work on teams like that. The beauty of our profession is that we are by nature sharers and it is after all, about the kids, so why would anyone not want to share. I appreciate those teacher/bloggers out there that share their ideas, projects, TPT stuff (I do pay for my share of stuff on TPT as well..but who doesn't love a freebie every once in a while.   

Well, that is it for today. I plan on checking in tomorrow to see what is happening out there in bloggy land....
and good luck to my TX teacher friends whose kiddos are taking the STAAR writing tests today and tomorrow!!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hello...remember me????

Wow, it is hard to believe it is almost April and I last posted 2 months ago. I suck at keeping New Years resolutions, and keeping up with my blog is one of the resolutions I have failed to keep.
I am really going to try and get better about posting, especially since there are so many exciting things going on in teacher-land these days.

First things first.... I have to start off by saying a HUGE thank you to all of my followers, especially my newest ones. I finally hit the 200 mark, in fact I am currently at 201! Who would have thought 9 months ago that I could have gotten 2 people to follow me, let alone 200! In honor of hitting the 200 mark  I am going to host a little low-key celebratory giveaway. Details coming soon.

Now on to some really important stuff....Spring Break is finally here. I am hoping this week I can get back on the blogging bandwagon. I am not going anywhere, so I will have some free time to blog, and work on some stuff. I am presenting at the Upstate Technology Conference here in Greenville (SC) this summer and I really need to work on my presentation. I also need to work on grad school applications. In the middle of all that, I will be trying to entertain my 13 year old son (in other words I will be chauffeuring him all over town), as well as get my house ready to be painted and for visitors the week of April 8th.

Also, I gave up Facebook for lent so I feel like I have truly been out of touch with what is going on on the world . I can get back online on Sunday but since it is Easter, my first official day back will probably be Monday.

So that is it for now...look for another post tomorrow with some real interesting stuff.  Maybe I can keep this momentum up and post each day for the next 10 during break. Wish me luck and thanks again for following me....

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Everyone needs a BTF....Best Teacher Friend!

Today's post serves several purposes....First off, I need to get back on the blogging train. Second I want to introduce you to my BTF.  That stands for Best Teacher Friend.   My BTF is Beth G. We met, almost with tragic results, on my very  first day of teaching. I say that our meeting almost had tragic results because we actually "met" or almost did, on my way to work that first day! I was driving to my new school, and I was unsure of where I was really going (I had taken a new route to get to my school that day). As I was driving down the road, minding my own business the lane to my right merged. It was one of those merge lanes with lots of lead time (in other words, drivers DID NOT have to get over quickly). No one was in the lane at the time but then all of the sudden I see an SUV to my right, I slowed to allow the driver in and they did not take advantage of my offer....they remained in the merge lane. Well being from up north, this is a pet peeve. If I am going to be nice enough to let you in, you better take advantage of it!!  Well as the end of the merge lane approached and the final warning sign to merge left was visible, the SUV sped up and CUT ME OFF. Surprisingly the Northerner in me did not kick in, and I DID NOT flip the driver off and hurl colorful words (I can only really attribute this to my nervousness and probably God placing His hand over my mouth).  The driver was now in front of me and continued to the light and turned right exactly where I was going to turn right. They continued down the road and I begin to wonder if this driver and I were headed to the same place.  As I approached the turn for my school, the SUV turned....right into my new school's parking lot. I parked and exited my car, a beautiful, tall blonde exited the SUV and said good morning. Boy, was I glad I had not gone into road rage a few minutes earlier. We were going to be working together. Little did I know, how close. As we entered the school and walked toward our first staff meeting I soon discovered, not only were we teachers at the same school, we were going to be teaching the same team and would ultimately become BTF...yep, Best Teacher Friends.

That day I met Beth G changed my life! She is truly one of the kindest, most incredible people I have met in my life. We are completely opposite, so we complement each other well.  She is Mutt and I am Jeff. She is Oscar and I am Felix. She's the Jelly to my Peanut Butter!! Okay, you get the idea. We have taught together on the same team for 4 of the 6 years I have been teaching. One year I moved down to 3rd grade and one year she moved up to 5th grade. We have team taught for the last 2 years,and we both looped up with our 4th grade classes to 5th grade this year. I think what makes us work well as a team is we don't take ourselves too seriously, we don't let the stress of the job impact our friendship, we vent to one another and we have a common goal... loving our students, wanting what is best for them, holding them accountable and encouraging them to do their best!

We are friends outside of school as well and support each other when life gets the best of us. We have been through a lot,and most of the time, laughter is what keeps us going. Our most recent life challenge is our journey to get healthy and lose weight.  She is sort of a gym rat and really does not need to lose weight. I on the other hand, use my treadmill for a clothes rack and need to take off my baby baby is 12  year old now, so I think it is time! We both joined Weight Watchers together a few weeks ago and go to the same WW meeting on Sunday afternoons. She also recently began attending the same church I do.  You would think seeing each other so  much would, we would get tired of each other. NO WAY!  Seeing her smiling face (she's the bubbly one of our duo!)....lightens my spirits because I know she is always in my corner.

So that's my BTF....Beth G.   Who is your BTF???

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lessons from the Inauguration.....and an update on 400 followers (Blog/Twitter Combined)

Being a native of the Washington,D.C. area, and currently living 8 hours away in the South, I am a little homesick this weekend as the nation celebrates the 2nd inauguration of President Barack Obama, our 44th president.

You see, I have been been in the crowds for the past inaugurations of 3 other presidents (Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton) and have watched others on television. I love the excitement of the crowds (despite the often below freezing temperatures), the parties (especially the ball gowns) despite never having attend this part of the inauguration in person) and the feeling that regardless of whom we had cast our vote for, we were all Americans and in participating in this event, we were celebrating a new beginning for our country.

Unfortunately, I am afraid my 10 and 11  year old students will see tomorrow as little more than a reason to stay up late tonight playing video games and sleep late tomorrow, despite the fact that tomorrow is both the day of the inauguration and  the day we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And this really BOTHERS me. You see most of my students are African American. They also live in poverty. To me this is a an issue of great importance because I feel like as a white teacher, I can't teach them about the historic significance of these two event "good enough." And I wonder why when we studied the Roaring 20's in Social Studies a few weeks ago, only a handful knew where/what Harlem was when we talked about the Harlem Renaissance.

I know I am not alone in my concern that a generation of African American has and continues to lose touch with their heritage. And I also wonder that despite it not being a part of our state curriculum, if I need to spend a part of my Social Studies time this week talking about Dr. King and the reasons why we honor him each January with his own day. And also why the 2nd inauguration of President Obama is equally if not more, historically significant than his first inauguration. Don't get me wrong, they know who Barack Obama is. We talk him a lot. We spent a great deal of time talking about his platform last fall before the election (and gave equal time to the platform of Mitt Romney). But do they REALLY get it?

And nothing would have pleased me more than to have had the ability (along with the money) to load them all up on buses and trek North to Washington to see this inauguration in person (I will do this with a group of students before I retire, even if I have to pay for most of it out of my own pocket)!  I know that most won't watch the hours of coverage on TV. In fact, if they come across it while channel surfing, I suspect most will turn the channel to Nickelodeon or more frighteningly, MTV, or pop in a video game.

So as I sit here preparing for the week ahead, I am trying to find ways to incorporate lessons (even if they end up being a few mini-lessons and some teachable moments) so that my students get a better understanding that this is their legacy, their future and they need to pay attention.

If you have any ideas that would help e out, I would greatly appreciate them. Just comment below or shoot me an email to .

As a side note...I am only 70 followers away from reaching my goal of a combined 400 followers on my blog and Twitter. I currently have 130 Twitter followers and 200 blog followers. When those combined numbers reach 350 I will announce the details of my planned giveaway. Stay tuned...and pass the word!!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Calling all SC Techies (and those in NC, GA and TN too)!

Well, I have already fallen off the resolution wagon! No, I did not eat my weight in Ben & Jerry's (although that sounds pretty good right now)....but, I have not kept up with my resolution to blog  at least 4 times a week. And it is only the first week of the year! Yikes!

In my defense, I was diagnosed with Bronchitis this week and have had zero energy.  While I was home from school -sick yesterday I came across a post on Facebook about the Upstate Technology Conference. It is a wonderful 2 day conference full of everything technology related for teachers/administrators that is put on by my school district each year. It is open to anyone who wants to attend (but I'll warn you, registration fills pretty quickly). I presented on blogging in the classroom last year, and plan to present again this year.

Here is the link to the website. Currently they are accepting proposals for presenters and you don't even have to be an employee of our school district to  present. Registration for attendees will open in mid-April.

It really is a great conference. If you are within driving distance of Greenville (SC), I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to attend a great technology conference.

For information about the conference, click HERE.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year.....Currently January 2013

I just love Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade...and not just because she does this awesome "Currently" feature every month. Well this month (technically it is still December as I write this) she got it out a day early so we could all post before we started partying in the New Year.

We are having a low-key New Year's Eve because the hubs is sick and my son and I have been having a pajamas and movies marathon since about 4 this afternoon. I needed to take a little break so I hopped on and started reading my blog feed.

So here is mine....

Here in South Carolina people set off fireworks as much on New Years Eve as they do Fourth of July. I love me some fireworks, however, my puppies hate them and have been pacing nervously every since the fanfare began a few hours ago. Hopefully this will not last all night (so far it 9:30 and still going strong).

Loving the time I have had with my family. We have not done anything over the top... didn't even go on the two day trips we talked about going on at the start of break. My husband has been off with my son and I the entire 13 days which is a first! So we have just had fun being together, playing the PlayStation 3 my son got for Christmas, watching movies, cooking meals together and chilling.

While I don't want that to end, I am excited about getting back to school Wednesday and seeing my students  I think about them a lot over break because they don;t all have the best home lives so I worry about them a little. Plus I know that for several of them, the free breakfast and lunch we provide during the school year makes up the majority of the food they get daily, so with school being out, I worry about if they are getting enough to eat. I pray they had a safe and enjoyable holiday break and I can't wait to hear about to when we all get back later this week.

My OLW for 2013...EXCITED. I am excited about the trip my husband and I are taking in April to Las Vegas for our anniversary. I am excited about planning our 5th grade graduation ceremony and celebration. My students have been with me for 2 years so I am going to have a hard time saying goodbye but I am excited for the new experiences they will have ext year in Middle School. I am excited for the opportunities my son has coming up this summer with church and Boy Scouts. We figured it out the other day, he already had 6 of the 10 weeks he gets off for the summer book with various camps, trips and activities. I am also excited to be going back to school myself in June. I am going to begin working on a Masters in Library Science or Educational Technology (depends on which program/school I get accepted to). I know it will be a lot of work, but I am ready for the new doors this additional degree may open, professionally.

Well, if you are going to link up with this Currently link of Farley's,

don't forget the RULE OF 3
where you need to go to the 2 links before yours and make a meaningful comment
and then come back and comment on the link after yours...

Happy New Year 2013!!!