Monday, December 31, 2012

Presidential Bingo Giveaway

Presidential Bingo is done! (and it isn't your typical Bingo game either)

I will be giving away five free copies of the game to my followers. This game is designed for about 3rd to 7th graders. If you would like one just leave a comment then e-mail me at cateodonnell28 at I will send out five copies (if I have more than five comments I will randomly pick five winners) on Wednesday when I get back to school.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Candy Rewards

Okay - I know that we aren't supposed to use extrinsic rewards in classrooms (at least not very often). But I was reading How Children Succeed more today and it described another study that was very interesting. Children were given an IQ test and then grouped into high, medium and low IQ groups. These groups were then split in two (experimental and control groups) and given the IQ test again. The experimental groups received an M n' M for every question they got right.

The high and medium IQ groups showed no difference between test scores with and without the treat. However, the low IQ group jumped from an average score of 79 to an average score of 97 with the treat. This showed that the students needed extra motivation to try their hardest - something they aren't always going to get in the real world which means their IQs will often look like 79 instead of 97.

My thought was that I could use treats to jump start my students' motivation. Of course I do have some students that are motivated without treats, but I do have a big group that just seem to be killing time at school. I know that their skills are not at the level they should be which makes school so much harder. This causes them to not try as hard which makes school even harder and they are just stuck in a bad cycle.

I was thinking that I would keep a lot of wrapped candies (like individual Starbursts) with me while we review everything we covered for the day and maybe even for a review of what we covered the day before. At first I could use the treats as a reward for every question I asked. Slowly, I would use them less and less frequently until the students are answering and trying because they want to feel successful.

This is just one of my many plans to help my students rise above the expectations everyone has of them. More to come!

Ringing in the New Year Giveaway

The Happy Teacher is having a giveaway with over 70 prizes including a gift card to Starbucks!

Stop by and enter!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Rich Kid - Poor Kid

I am in the middle of reading How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. It is pretty amazing so far - it really is a lot of common sense, but common sense that has been proven by scientific studies.

I am about 1/3 of the way through (according to my kindle) and the book is discussing the issues affluent children have in school/life. This discussion is particular to middle and high school students, but I am sure that it applies to other grades as well. Psychologists have found that affluent children have higher rates of alcohol and drug use and depression than their poor counterparts.

The book theorized that this is because parents of affluent children are more permissive of this behavior (as a group) and help their children get out of trouble so often that dangerous behavior just continues and escalates.

However, the book also asserts that the key factor in depression and dangerous behavior in both rich and poor kids is absent parents or parents that fail to connect with their children.

I read this and I thought, of course that is a problem!

I realize that some parents have to work and can't be with their kids every day after school, but this doesn't have to prevent someone from being an involved parent. My mom worked my entire life and my sister and I had to go to daycare from about 6am to 6pm, but I never doubted how much my mother cared about me and my life. I knew that I was important to my mom, and whenever she could be there, she was. This was a wonderful gift.

I don't want to sound to preachy - but I don't think that we are going to fix the education system in this country until we have every child growing up in a home where he knows how important and how loved he is. That is what we should be talking about when we say "No Child Left Behind".

I would love it if we had "school" for parents. New mothers could bring in their babies and get the support and information they need to be nurturing influences. Parents could be empowered to change their children's lives, and families could learn together.

I think that every parent and every child would benefit from more support, and then maybe achievement and test scores would go up and drop out rates would go down.

Your Kids Can Be Too Young to Talk About Smoking

Have you ever seen the commercial with the mom talking to her baby about not smoking? Well, I love that commercial for some weird reason...

I did talk to my kids about not smoking when they were babies - I think we both got a lot out of those conversations. No one in our immediate family smokes and we live in a smoke-free neighborhood as well. Whenever we are near someone smoking it totally bothers my kids, which is fine with me.

However, I am afraid that at some point they may decide to try smoking.

We were in the car on the way to school (both of my oldest daughters are in preschool) and I thought it would be a good time to talk about smoking again. They already have tumultuous relationships with their friends and I wanted to reinforce the idea that a real friend won't care if you don't want to try smoking.

I launch into this big talk about peer pressure and smoking. The girls are agreeing and offering ideas of what to do/say if someone tries to get them to smoke. About five minutes in my youngest daughter says, "You should never play with matches."

That is when I realized that while I was talking about cigarettes, they were talking about starting fires. They had just had a fire safety day in school and they thought I was talking about a friend who wanted to start fires that were "smoking".

Not the lesson I was aiming for, but still an important one :).

Friday, December 21, 2012

Adorable "Little Kid" Blogs

I enjoy teaching middle school and the older elementary kids, but I will say I am a little jealous of all the adorable things I see from the K-2 teachers. Here is a blog I saw today that is just too cute not to share! (I will add more as I see them :).)

Sea of Knowledge
Being Inspired

So Proud of My Students!

I posted earlier about the difficulty my students have had learning about the theory of evolution. It is a really complicated concept to understand - there are plenty of adults who don't fully understand it. Realizing that my students were not ready to do their best on a test I pushed it back from Friday to the Tuesday before we got out for break.

On Tuesday my kids came in from their other classes where they watched movies and had little parties. Needless to say they were quite disappointed that we were still having the test. However, once their initial complaining was completed (a necessary step in middle school), they did awesome! This was not an easy test - it was 8 short essay questions.

I wasn't trying to be mean, I just wanted to give them as much opportunity to score well on the standards - multiple choice and matching don't tell me much about what they know about the standards we are covering.

I expected many of the kids to race through as fast as they could, like they usually do. Not on Tuesday. Every kid in the classroom worked diligently until they completely finished the test. It was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. You could actually see the wheels turning in their minds as they worked.

I have two theories as to why they worked so hard on this test. First, we had a very successful review session the day before during which we talked about how the different ideas fit together - I think this helped them understand the topic (instead of memorizing facts which they still want to do instead of thinking and understanding). Second, the past few tests they have taken have had the shortest possible answers to my questions - a few words where I was expecting a paragraph. I realized that I needed to tell them exactly what I wanted so I put sentence suggestions on each question. I told the kids these were not requirements, but I wouldn't be able to give anyone full credit for less than the minimum sentence suggestion because they wouldn't be able to get all of the information covered in less than that. Walking around I saw kids going way above my suggested sentences and that was awesome.

I haven't looked at the tests yet - too busy getting ready for Christmas - but I am so proud of my students for working so hard. I don't care how much trouble a student has with a subject, I will work until they get it, as long as they are working too. So, no matter how high or low their test scores - my class was successful on this test.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Concept Mapping

My class was studying evolution last week. We had started with genetics the week before and I was really working to help them connect all the ideas to see that we weren't studying two different topics, but two different parts of one topic. Well, they were supposed to take a test on evolution on Friday, but they just weren't ready. I spent a lot of time over the weekend thinking about how I could help them put all of these different ideas together.

The entire 7th grade science team focused on graphic organizers to cover this specific section of the textbook, but the kids just weren't understanding that this technique was supposed to help them understand the material. I decided to show them just how helpful a graphic organizer can be by creating a concept map of genetics and evolution. I started out with sexual and asexual reproduction and mutations (the place we started two weeks ago) and as we moved through to different concepts I made sure to explain the concept and how it fit in the big picture. It was so great to look up and see understanding on faces for the first time! (Of course there were still some lost looks...)

A concept map is a great tool, but I don't think it would have been helpful any earlier. In order to connect ideas the kids have to have a place to start. It would be an interesting idea to teach based on the concept map from the beginning - give kids a complete map with the big ideas on it. They could see how things were connected and that might help them understand each idea better...

This is something I have to think about this break. I will be mapping out my lessons for "Natural Disasters" and I think giving them the big picture first might help. Of course I have kids that might get overwhelmed by this and not use it as a helpful tool...

I personally love graphic organizers - this is literally how I think in my head. I am constantly making connections between what I am learning (because I am always learning something new) and what I already know. It is amazing how much good information I have gotten from tv shows over the years :) - I am always thinking back to random episodes of Saved by the Bell or FRIENDS or whatever!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Too Many Mistakes!

So, I have been changing one of my products on TpT around lately and I am so embarrassed by the number of mistakes I have found! I know that the seasoned members of TpT always recommend having someone else look at your stuff before posting, but I thought I was doing pretty good. Turns out that the constant interruptions I get while I work are having a negative effect on my work!

Well, good news is I can upload the new corrected format and my customers will get something great - which they definitely deserve!

I wish that I could work for a few uninterrupted hours every day, but with three kids under five that just isn't really an option. Maybe I could go to the library for a while after my husband gets homes from work...

If anyone out there has advice for how to work with little ones in the house, please share!

Someday I would love to make enough money to have my husband stay home with the kids while I work - a big dream on a teacher's salary :). But that really won't happen if I can't get in time to work now!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Independent Science Lessons and Blog Hop!

It is a sad fact in my classroom, but most of my students are not reading at grade level. This has been caused by years of sliding through classes. Our school district enforces "social promotion" so no one is held back. Well, I don't know how many of you read science textbooks, but they are not the easiest material to process. There is new vocabulary, difficult concepts, and lots of math interspersed throughout the book. Imagine trying to read this when you aren't even reading at grade level!

To help my students understand the information, I have begun creating independent lessons that students can use instead of the textbook. These lessons have a mix of text and graphics to help illustrate the big ideas of a topic. I do my best to write them at about a 5th grade level so they are accessible to most of my students. I also use lists to help organize students' progress through the lesson so it is easier to stay on task.

So far I have created the lessons for the major components of our study of the human body. I have many of these for sale at my store. Today I am offering three of my independent lessons as a prize for one commentor on this post. Share a topic you wish you had an independent lesson for, a strategy you have used with struggling readers in your middle school classroom, or anything else!

Good luck to everyone! I can't wait to read your comments!

This post is not just a chance to show off my independent lessons - it is also part of a blog hop for middle school and high school teachers. Continue on to the next blog at Night Light Lessons! If you ended up here without seeing the earlier blogs, you can go back to the beginning at Teaching High School Math.


Tragedy in Connecticut

Like everyone else I am completely horrified about the shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut this morning. It is so awful it doesn't even seem real, but I know that it is very real for the families of the victims. A little piece of my heart will be forever broken for the parents whose children were taken from them.

While I watched the news nonstop this morning, desperate to make sense of this tragedy and crying, I have made the decision that I am done with it. Not for the children or the families, but the spectacle it has already become. I completely understand people wanting to know what happened, but I have decided that I know enough. I will continue to mourn for the families affected, but I can't process anymore of the horror. This is something I have to do to continue to function.

I am so thankful for my own children today and made sure to give them extra love and attention after school.

I will continue to pray for the children and adults who lost their lives today and the families left behind. I will also be sure to take extra care of the children in my life, both at school and at home. Being a little more patient and a little more willing to have fun in the moment will be my memorial to the victims. It will be my way of showing evil that it will never win.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

100 Follower Giveaway

The giveaway is here! There are three different giveaways to enter. The prizes are listed above the entry forms.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!

My First 100 Follower Giveaway Information!

How exciting! I am just nine people away from 100 followers for my TpT store! To celebrate I am having a giveaway. I would like to thank all of the wonderful sellers who have contributed to make the giveaway even better:

 Wow! That is a long list!

I am using rafflecopter to run the giveaway so there are lots of things that you can do to enter :). The giveaway will run until December 18th and you can enter as many times as you would like. Now, how about a look at the prizes...

Here are the prizes from me:

There will be three different giveaways to enter! Good luck!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Great Product for an Even Better Cause

This month Teaching in Blue Jeans is starting a new program at her store called Of the Month. Every month she will pick one of her products and donate all of the proceeds of that product to a specific charity. This month she is donating to Go Ministries who will be providing meals to students at a school in Guatemala - you can read all about it at her blog (linked above).

The product for this month is called "Go Elf Yourself" and it is super cute - it was all over pinterest a while ago. I even sent the link to my daughters' teacher because that would be a pretty cool art project to take home!

Anyway, this is a great program and I encourage you to visit Teaching in Blue Jeans blog and store to help her help others!

Success in Secondary Linky Party

There aren't a lot of secondary teachers at TpT right now (well, compared to elementary teachers) and we need to stick together! :)

Thank you to Success in Secondary for hosting this awesome linky party!

Here is one free item from my store that would be helpful in a secondary classroom:

And here are two paid items that would be equally helpful :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Published Author!

Okay, self-published :).

I just put a young adult novel I wrote on Amazon. It is geared toward girls in 5th through 8th grade, but it will appeal to other ages as well - I know I like it.

It is all about fairy tales, princesses, and dragons, but with a fresh take. Honestly, the reason I started writing it was because I was worried about all of the books I was reading my daughters. All the princesses seemed to care about was finding a prince! I wanted to give my daughters a story about a princess who didn't need or want a prince to rescue her.

The result is a story that I really love. Plus, I had so much fun writing it!


Communicating with Parents

Communicating with parents is one of the most important parts of being a teacher. I can also be one of the most dreaded.

I, myself, have stared at the phone, getting up the courage to call a parent. The days of holding teachers in the utmost respect are gone, and I have often found myself getting blamed for a students' bad behavior.

I once had a parent tell me that it was my fault her daughter was cheating on a test because my test was too hard!

With all of this in mind, I keep slogging away, trying to keep the lines of communication open. This can be especially difficult in a school where parents don't have e-mail. It is so easy to type out a quick e-mail and shoot it off - this is my favorite way to give a kid a pat on the back. Since most of my e-mails are positive I don't have the issues with tone that can come from other e-mails (who hasn't had that problem?!).

Plus, I have the added issue of having parents who don't speak English.

With all of these complications it would be so easy to throw up my hands and not think about it, but I owe it to my students to keep trying.

I only spend an hour a day with these kids - I need the support of their families. Plus, I want the kids to know that I care about them and will do everything I can to help them be successful. For this reason my parent-student conferences are always focused on creating a plan or coming up with strategies to do better. No one wants to be lectured at and it doesn't do any good (I was lectured to a lot as a teenager and it didn't affect my behavior at all).

All of these things are swirling in my head this week as I have a parent conference every day after school! This post was supposed to be about all of my ideas about communicating with parents and it turned into my own little pep talk :). All of the parents I have worked with have been super supportive and that has been a pleasant surprise.

I also found out that several of the kids I am meeting with are good friends outside of school (and so are their parents). I think this will make the conferences even more helpful because we will all be on the same page.

Anyway - just a few random thoughts on a subject weighing heavily on my mind right now - parent communication.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reading Freebies!

By: MsM
Very helpful poetry response worksheets with options for low, medium, and high levels.

How Long Until 100 Followers...?

No pressure to any of my wonderful followers - I appreciate every one of you so much! I was just wondering today when I would get to 100 followers so I could have my first giveaway. While I was thinking about it I decided to make this little post with a prediction - then I can look back and see how close I was.

As of right now I have 33 amazing followers. I will set a goal to have 100 followers by March 1st. It seems like a long time away right now, but I know it will be here before I know it. Isn't that how time works for adults?! Sometimes I long for the days of being a kid and having time drag by...

Freebies for the Older Kids (High School)

A highly scaffolded unit for teaching students some of the basics of writing both short stories and essays.

Classroom Management Freebie!

I love this idea! You put these up when giving directions and kids have a fun way to be reminded of what they are supposed to be doing. I really wish I was in an elementary classroom so I could use these right away!
 Monkey - A Song About the Bullies in Our Head
By: I Am Bullyproof Music
I love this idea because I know all too well how mean we can be to ourselves. What a great way to give kids power over their own thoughts!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


So I have been a little bit MIA this past week and that is because I have been in Disneyland! This was a big trip for our family - the first time we have flown anywhere together (with the kids). We were lucky enough to leave our little boy at home. We missed him, but at one he just wasn't ready for Disneyland.

Our big trip was planned to celebrate our oldest daughter's 5th birthday. The first in three 5th birthday celebrations at Disneyland.

We had so much fun and I have decided I want to live at Disneyland :). Anyway, I thought I would share our most helpful tips just in case any of you are planning a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. It does seem to me that teachers love Disney more than anyone else :).

Top Ten Disneyland Tips
1. Remember, this is supposed to be fun! This is actually a tip I read on another blog when I was preparing for our trip. As much fun as Disneyland is, it can be really stressful too with so many people, so much to do, and overly tired kids and parents. I have a tendency to get stressed out so I made a point of constantly reminding myself that this trip is for the girls. As much as I wanted to follow the plan and see as much of the park as possible, if the girls wanted to ride It's a Small World again I would take a deep breath, smile and say, "Let's do it!" This really made a difference!
2. Little kids need a stroller. Disneyland (and California Adventure) are huge! If you want to move at any kind of a good pace, your little ones are going to need a stroller. I can't imagine what we would have done without it and we have a 5 year old and a 3 year old. Instead of bringing a double stroller we brought two umbrella strollers. This was great because my husband and I could separate and move through the crowd more easily.
You can rent a stroller at Disneyland for $15, which isn't bad considering how expensive everything is. It is a single jogging stroller. If you need two strollers they only charge $25. The negatives to renting a stroller are that there are lots of identical strollers around - you have a nametag on the top to identify your stroller, and the fact that you can't take the strollers out of the park area. Since we were staying at a hotel we had to walk to, this wouldn't have worked for us.
One last thought on strollers - my husband was using our more expensive umbrella stroller that was taller and more sturdy than the typical umbrella stroller I had. He is 6'4" and the stroller was comfortable for him to push. I am only 5'4" and the cheaper umbrella stroller was still too low for me to push comfortably. I wouldn't necessarily buy a stroller just for Disneyland, but if you are in the store and choosing between the $15 stroller and the $50 stroller - I would spend the extra money, you will be so glad you did.
3. Pack snacks! We all know that food is expensive at Disneyland. We also know that kids are constantly hungry. A day or so before our trip I went to Costco and bought beef jerky, trail mix etc... to bring to the park. When we got to California my husband stopped by a grocery store and bought bottled water and juice boxes. Having these snacks handy in our backpack made a huge difference. I could see the jealous looks of all of the other parents when we whipped out a snack for our hungry girls while waiting in line :).
4. Wear comfortable shoes (and schedule a pedicure). Your feet are going to be so sore after a busy day at the park. This is not the time to look fashionable, wear the most comfortable shoes you have and plan on still having sore feet. One night we stopped by the hotel hot tub and soaked our feet while we watched the fireworks. This felt amazing and the girls thought it was pretty fun too.
5. If you have young kids and you can afford it, stay at the Grand Californian. We decided to stay at the Howard Johnson for this trip. It was rennovated not long ago and has a great waterpark-like pool (slides, a bucket that dumps water, etc...). We were so happy with the hotel, except for the fact that we had to walk ten minutes to and from Disneyland. This wasn't a long walk, but with two little girls we found ourselves wishing we had spent a little more (okay, a lot more) and stayed at the closest hotel possible.
6. Young girls must experience the Bippity Boppity Boutique. The Bippity Boppity Boutique is located in the castle at Disneyland, and it is where little girls are turned into princesses. The least expensive package is about $50 and includes a makeover (hair and a little bit of makeup). The most expensive package can run over $200 and this includes a princess outfit from the store part of the boutique. With two girls I wasn't about to spend over $400 so a week or so before the trip I used a 25% off coupon from the Disney store and bought their princess dresses early. The boutique had no problem with the girls bringing their dresses and I saved a bundle!
I realize that even $50 is a lot to spend, but this truly was a magical experience for both the girls and my husband and I.
As a side note - Ariel's Grotto is the restraunt for princess character dining. We splurged (yep, it is crazy expensive) and did this and again, we were so happy we did. They have the whole experience down to a science so little princesses are never kept waiting. Four princesses come to your table and sign autograph books, take pictures, and chat with their young guests. Again, both my husband and I agreed, it was definitely worth the price.
7. Plan your fastpass use. I am always surprised at how many people don't know about the fastpass system at Disneyland. Unlike some other systems, this is totally free to all guests. Just put your park ticket into the fastpass machine (it will come back out!) and collect the slip that prints out. It will tell you what time to return to the ride. When you come back to the ride you stand in the fastpass line which is much faster than the "standby" line. You typically won't wait more than 10 minutes in a fastpass line.
Not all rides have a fastpass. You can get a list of rides that apply on the Disneyland website. These are the bigger rides that are going to have the longest wait times.
In general you can have one fast pass at a time. However, you can have one in Disneyland and one in California Adventure at the same time, so if you are going back and forth between the parks you can have two. Also, if your fastpass time is significantly later in the day, you will be able to get another fastpass before you use your first fastpass. For example, if you have a fastpass for Splash Mountain at 8:00pm and it is only 1:00pm, you will be elligible for another fastpass at 3:00pm. This should be printed at the bottom of any fastpass.
You can also get another fastpass before you use your first fastpass as long as you have reached your ride "window". Let's say that you have a fastpass for Soarin' that is good between 2:00pm and 3:00pm. At 2:00, before your head over to Soarin, stop by Grizzly River Run and get a fastpass for that ride. Now, you can use your Soarin' fastpass while you wait for the window on your Grizzy River Run fastpass.
Finally, even though the fastpasses have expiration times, we were assured by many other guests that you can use it anytime that day. We never tried this, but if you miss your window, it is worth a try.
I do realize that this all sounds confusing. The takeaway message here is this: use the fastpasses. Before you stand in line for anything, make sure you have at least one fastpass in your hand.

8. You can have any purchase sent to the front gate or your hotel room. There are cool stores all over Disneyland - most of them do have a lot of the same items, but there are some specialty items. If you find something you must have, but don't want to carry it around all day, you can have it sent to the front gate. Just give them a couple of hours to get it there before you try to claim it. If you are staying at a Disneyland hotel you can even have purchases sent to your room. A word of warning: don't wait until closing to claim your packages - you will have to wait in yet another line to do so.

Also, the Emporium on Main Street is a huge store and has almost everything that is for sale in the park in it. There is also a Disney store in Downtown Disney that has the best selection anywhere. This is where we made most of our purchases.

9. Ask a cast member - you may be surprised what they can do for you! This is advice I did not take myself. I read that if you ask, you can ride with the conductor on the train (or the monorail) and may even be able to steer the huge riverboat. All you have to do is ask. I found everyone who worked in the park very friendly and eager to share with guests. If you would like to do something special, there is no harm in asking and you may have a very special experience.

10. If you can get up early, do it. Not only do both Disneyland and California Adventure offer Magic Morning Hours (you can get in one hour early), but Disneyland's Main Street usually opens about an hour before the rest of the park. If you can be waiting by the entrance to Fantasyland at 8:00am instead of getting your bags checked near the front gate you will be able to get in a couple of the most popular rides before a major line forms. We were never able to get up this early and even at 8:45 there was a 45 minute wait for Peter Pan!

I hope you found these tips helpful and I encourage you to leave a comment sharing your own tips. If you can't tell I am a little bit Disneyland crazy and I love learning more about my favorite place. Now that our trip is over I need to start planning for our next trip!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Writing Freebies!

A writing activity for either Valentine's Day or the beginning of school - all about friends.

Math Freebies!

A fun game to practice the directions on a compass.
 Extra Large: Single Digit Addition Practice with Touch Points
By Krystie Bithell
Addition practice for the youngest students.

 One Dollar Words Freebie
By: Barbara Evans
A very cool idea - each letter has a value (a = 1 cent, b = 2 cents, etc...) and students use these values to come up with words that are worth exactly a dollar. Not only is this great for math, but it also introduces the idea of "more valuable" words for language arts.

 In a Nutshell
By: Bright Concepts for Teachers
A cute (and important) mental math craftivity. It helps illustrate addition mental math strategies for first through third grade.


Music Freebies!

A worksheet that allows students to respond to a piece of music they have heard.

Games and Activities Freebies

By Kathy Stemke

By Caveman Games

Science Freebies!

70+ science experiments and demo guides

By Tara L

Winter Freebies!

Here are the winter freebies!

A writing center activity where students create a gingerbread recipe.

By Stef Swanson
By Denise - A Little Bit of This and That

By One Room Schoolhouse


Thanksgiving Freebies

It was taking me way to long to post one freebie at a time and I am feeling guilty about the long list I have to get to. So, I have found all of the Thanksgiving freebies people have offered to share and here they are. Thank you to all of the wonderful sellers who are willing to share their products.
By TeacherTeacher

By Christine Maxwell

By MrHughs

Thanksgiving Clip Art and Templates
By Blair Turner
Very cute turkey clip art/art project for young students!

November Freebie Reward Cards
By 4mula Fun
Cute reward cards with lots of things kids love like an I-pod for the day, no homework, and (of course) a hug.


Mrs. Mean Teacher

Some of you may know that I am teaching one science class a day at a middle school. I started in October because of class overloads and everything was really thrown together at the last minute. We ended up in a tiny portable with kids coming and going for the first few days.

I didn't do as much classroom management stuff as I normally do in the first weeks because we had to stay with the other science classes. As a result my class was not the best behaved. (I would also like to note that every principal in the building told me that I had one of the toughest classes they have seen.)

So, we finally got moved to an actual science class - hooray! But, the science teacher who I share the room with was in the room during my first class and I was so embarrassed by how my class behaved. They should no discipline at all - worse than anything I have seen before.

I was not going to be embarrassed again so the next day I put our classroom rules up again for them the review. I told them that we were following these rules to the letter and that they would get one warning and then they would be sent to the "Opportunity Room".

I sent six kids to the Opportunity Room that day. Nothing big, just repeatedly breaking the little rules - being off task talking to a buddy, getting out of their seats without permission (I have a class of wanderers so we needed a very specific rule about this), etc... The kids were incredulous that I would send them out for little things, but it worked. The majority of my students were able to work in peace and I wasn't embarrassed to be the teacher.

I have a feeling that I will need to keep up this mean teacher act for a few more weeks (they are definitely tenacious), but I hope that at some point they will get the message and we can have a fun, lively classroom with lots of learning!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Surfing to Success 100 Follower Giveaway

Just entered the Surfing to Success 100 follower giveaway. The frame backgrounds in the picture are just one of the MANY frames she is giving away so that you can layer them (check out her blog for examples - it is so cute!).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Freebie! Thanksgiving Is...

Ladybug's Lounge came up with this freebie based on the book Thanksgiving Is.... I have never read the book, but based on the activity (writing and drawing a metaphor) I have a feeling it is full of metaphors. Since metaphors and I are peas and carrots (you can't have one without the other!) I was very excited about this worksheet.

In addition to the metaphor worksheet she included a worksheet to keep track of how different cultures give thanks. I am not sure if this is a part of the book or not, but still a great activity - especially for everyone who has a diverse group of students, like I do!

Please remember to have your friends and colleagues download their own copy :)

Thankful for Oodles of Doodles

When I first started at TpT I didn't have any cover pages or other "cute" things in my products. I am just not an artist! When I realized these things were very important to attracting buyers I was lost as to where to start. I actually tried making my own clip art - didn't go that well.

Then I discovered Mrs. Messenger and her "Oodles of Doodles". Everything was so cute and so easy to use. I especially loved that she included both color and black and white versions of her drawings so I could use them as a cover and on black and white pages.

She opened up a whole new world for me! This was my introduction to the seductive world of clip art on Teachers pay Teachers. I would not have the store I have today without Mrs. Messenger.

Also, thank you to all of the bloggers that have linky parties, giveaways and all that other great stuff! You were my inspiration to start my blog!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Light the Lights Place Value Freebie

Realistic Teacher has this very cute place value/ordering worksheet. It could be used as a secular worksheet about lights or for Christmas. It would be great for Kindergarten, 1st or 2nd grade :).

Please remember to share the link and have everyone download their own copy.

Freebie! Winning the Pencil War!

I wish I had seen this freebie last week! I was going crazy in class with the constant pencil issues! I went out during my lunch break and bought an electric sharpener and one hundred pencils. I sharpened a bunch of them and put them in a jar - then I told my students to drop a dull or broken pencil in to pull a sharp pencil out - just like first grade :). It is working so far, but I like this idea too!

It is hard to describe The Wise Owl's strategy as well as the freebie does, so all I will say is - download it and read it! You will be glad you did!

Angry Birds - Freebie

Mary Rosenburg has put together this cute reading lesson based on the popular game, Angry Birds. What a hook for reluctant readers! I would put the sweet spot for this reading practice at about third grade, but older or younger students may find it engaging as well.

Please remember to download your own free copy!

Question from Math Conference

Last week I went to a conference on teaching science to ELL students. It was okay - I think the consensus from people around me was that doing the things we know are good for all students will help ELL students. Things like having new words illustrated up on the wall, taking time to study vocabulary, slowing down and practicing reading/writing skills, etc... It was good to be reminded how frustrating it can be to learn a difficult subject like science in a new language.

Many of the ELL teachers there were also quick to remind us that, even for native English speakers, science itself is a foreign language!

I wish I had more great ideas to share from my conference, but I really don't. If you have ELL students in your classroom you are probably doing everything we covered. As far as this conference was considered - there is no magic combination that will help ELL students in science.

While I was in the science conference, a couple of the other teachers from my school were next door in the math conference. The highlight of this conference was a problem the teachers were given to work. It was based on 6th grade ratios and even most of the high school math teachers couldn't solve it.

I need to brag a little and say here that I did solve it when the teachers shared it on the drive home :).

So, here is the question.

A large container ship is carrying shoes. It hits a storm and crashes. The shoes are tossed overboard and the next morning a nearby beach is covered with shoes. 2/3 of the right shoes on the beach match and 3/5 of the left shoes match. What fraction of the shoes on the beach match?

Leave a comment with your answer and how you solved it :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Freebie! Gingerbread Man Unit

This is an entire unit for FREE! That is hard to beat! Ms Joanne from Teachers pay Teachers has created a unit based on the classic story of the Gingerbread Man. It has a lot of the components found in Writer's Workshop so it could be easily adapted to that format.

This lesson could last more than a week if you use all of the components! It is designed for early elementary students.

Remember to download your own version of this freebie!

Little Book of Thanks - Freebie!

Doodles and Kreations at Teachers pay Teachers have come up with this fun little book for Thanksgiving. It is four pages including the cover and students can practice writing "thanks" (a very important word in thank you notes), circle what they are thankful for and draw a picture of what they are most thankful for this year.

Another great aspect of this product is that it is available in a Spanish version as well!

Please remember that even though this a free product, you should not pass it around freely :). Have your colleagues download their own copy. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Freebie! What Time Is It Mr. Wolf?

LittleRed came up with a fun way to get kids to practice telling time with an analog clock. One page requires students to write down the time shown on the clock. The other page requires students to draw the hands on the clock according to a given time.
The worksheets are given both in color and grayscale, and are designed for kiddos in 1st through 3rd grade.
Please share the link, but have your colleagues download their own copy.

Turkey Template Freebie

This adorable template would make a great project for any preschool or kindergarten class! (I even e-mailed the link to my daughters' teacher!)

Students can choose any number of things they are thankful for and fill out the turkey feathers.

Paige Joyce is new to Teachers pay Teachers and has plenty of adorable items in her store, so check her out :).

The Importance of Compliments

I realize that for many parents the pendulum of praising their children has swung just about as far as it can. Their children are gorgeous, brilliants, completely honest, and just the best thing since sliced bread. Oh, and they are always right.

These parents can be obnoxious and make your job as a teacher much more difficult.

These are not the people I am thinking about today.

Today I am thinking about kids who never get a compliment. The kids whose parents don't hesitate to berate them for making a mistake.

These kids aren't perfect and they do make a lot of mistakes. In fact, their parents might even have good reason not to trust them. But today I saw a little boy receive a compliment from his teacher and shut down because he had no idea how to respond to praise and it just about broke my heart.

So I am taking this opportunity to remind myself, and anyone else who happens across this post, to be generous with my compliments to my students. Every day each one of them does something that deserves a pat on the back, and I want to make sure each one of them gets it.

It is sometimes hard to remember this fact when there is so much naughty behavior to deal with during a class period, but I won't be the teacher I want to be if I don't.

Freebie! Crayons and Colors Clipart

Okay, I know I am not the only one addicted to clipart on Teachers pay Teachers! Well, these cute crayon and color pictures are absolutely free! You can even use them in commercial works as long as you give credit and link back to the Zip-a-dee-doo-dah Designs Store.

As always, please have colleagues download their own copy :).

Math Brain Teasers Freebie

The Games 4 Learning store at Teachers pay Teachers has a really fun set of math brain teasers. There are six in the freebie, but you can buy a full set with 54 different brain teasers.
There are lots of different ways to use these brain teasers (whole class use, individual use, stations, smartboard etc...) and Teresa shares them all.
These are questions like: Alice has two friends and they are all different ages. Determine each friends' age given a set of clues.
I may be a big dork because I would solve these for fun :).
These are recommended for 1st through 3rd grade, but I think 4th, 5th, and even 6th grade students would benefit.
Enjoy! Remember to have your colleagues download their own copy, don't worry, it is free!