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!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Freebie! Diamonds or Coal: A Context Clues Lesson

Ann Fausnight came up with this great lesson to help students find context clues to understand the meanings of words they don't know. A diamond is a part of sentence that helps define your vocabulary word, and coal is a part of the sentence you have to work at in order to help understand your vocabulary word.

This is a great lesson for reading elementary students! Teaching middle school, I can attest to the fact that kids need to know how to use context clues!

Feel free to follow the link and download the lesson - it is a freebie after all! Just have your colleagues download their own copy :)!

Freebie! Let's Talk Turkey!

Okay, I love this freebie! Rebecca Bettis has done an amazing job bringing some history to life for students. It is a reading comprehension packet for kids about 3rd to 5th grade, but the short story would work for 6th graders too :).

Bettis writes about the fact that Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national symbol (instead of the bald eagle). She even uses an excerpt from an original Benjamin Franklin letter (hello, introduction to primary documents).

This is so great, I can't believe it is free!

Remember to give the link to your colleagues, but have them download it on their own.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Teachers pay Teachers: Adding a Link to Your Product Description

<a href="link web address">Link Name</a>

I am posting this little piece of code mostly so I can easily find it when I need it again. I am always having to go back and search the forums for it. Now, it is conveniently on my blog :)

If you want a link to another product in a product description on Teachers pay Teachers just replace the necessary information into the code at the top of this post. It is really helpful if you have "sister" products.

I would caution new members to TpT to only have one link in any product description - too much and it just looks like a random advertisement instead of the helpful suggestion it is :)

Shakespeare Scavenger Hunt - Freebie!

Poetgrl78 has created a fun little "scavenger hunt" about Shakespeare's life. This would be a great introduction to the playwright for high school students (or advanced middle school students).
I have always loved Shakespeare's plays and learning about the man adds insight into his works.
Just a heads up - you will get to do the scavenger hunt too because no key is included.
Visit the store (link above) for lots more Language Arts activities!
Please remember to share the link, but have your colleagues download their own copy - don't worry it is free!

Freebie Alert! Angle Vocabulary Flips!

Elena Fryer has come up with a great activity for putting information about angles in students' math notebooks (of course you don't have to use them in a math notebook, but I think it is brilliant the way she is using this).

There is a picture on one side of the flip that relates to angles. Students paste these into their notebooks so that the flip can be pulled back. Under the flip students write the definition that accompanies the picture.

What a great way to get students actively participating in math class. It is always fun to work with scissors and glue - they won't even notice they are learning about angles too!

You can get to the product by clicking the picture at the top of the page. Share the link with all your colleagues, but please ask them to download their own version.

Brain Rules

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to attend a talk by John Medina on his research all about how our brains work. More specifically, he talked about what we could accomplish if the people in his department (brain research) and the education department (he was from the University of Washington and while the two departments are basically right next door) worked together.

I was fascinated by his ideas!

For example, the human brain works the best when we are moving. Exercise (even a fast walk) reduces stress and gets blood pumping in the body - even to the brain. There have been so many times when I have gotten on the treadmill with a seemingly overwhelming problem and by the time I get off, I have a solution.

Medina suggests that students may do best (of course no research has been done, so it is just a theory at this point) in a school with physical activity between every class. Kids and teachers would come to school in work out clothes. I, personally, would love this :).

There are several studies that support the idea that we acquire new information best while our bodies are cooling down from exercise.

Some schools have already put this idea into practice. Read about a school in Georgia's success here.

Another big idea Medina discussed was how our brains store information. It turns out you need to hear something repeated 20 seconds after hearing it for the first time to start efficiently storing the information. You then need to hear it again several hours later. It sounds a little confusing, but the idea here is repetition. This is one thing I always try to incorporate into my classes - it makes me sound like a broken record, but it is speaking to my students' brains (hopefully).

For more information on John Medina and his book, Brain Rules you can visit his website

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Aliens in the Classroom! Another Freebie!

This fun writing lesson from Primary Paradise has been downloaded 1100 times!!

It is a week long writing lesson based on the kiddos writing stories about aliens. One of the stories she suggested to get started was one of my purchases at a book fair last year, Aliens Don't Wear Underpants. I just had to get it for two reasons. One, anything about underwear is funny :) and two, I have a little girl who refuses to wear underpants (that might just be an overshare - good thing she doesn't read the blog!).

I think this lesson is great because it will get kids working through the writing process and having fun! I also love the structure the lesson provides - you could hand it over to a sub and they would know exactly what to do with the kids. Plus, it gives kids lots of direction so they aren't faced with that terrifying blank page.

This is a great lesson and if you really like it (which of you will!) you can purchase more! It is very convenient!

Just click the picture above to get to the

Measurement Freebie!

As soon as I saw this freebie from the incredible MissMathDork I knew it would be hanging next to my computer for years to come.

Teaching science (and sometimes math) I find myself needing to constantly look up measurement values (how many kilometers in a mile etc...). Well, you would think after all these years I would either have it memorized or have already printed out a cheat sheet - but I haven't! Plus, a lot of times the charts I use online are not very printer-friendly.

Anyway, this way I get to support another amazing teacher at Teachers pay Teachers, and let all of you know about it too!

Click the picture for the download link.

Just a reminder - even though it is free, please have your colleagues download their own copy :).

Teachers help Teachers

My favorite thing about Teachers pay Teachers is the amazing community I have become a part of! Seeing all of the devastation caused by Sandy (I always knew she was trouble) so many teachers were posting on the forums about wishing there was something they could do.

Well, you don't join Teachers pay Teachers because you lack initiative, and one wonderful member, Laurah Jurca of Tools for Teachers, decided to set up a "place" for teachers to donate digital products.

Any teacher affected by the storm can sign up for help and have access to over 200 products at no charge. There are also other teachers collecting hard goods (you can sign up for these at Laurah's site as well).

If you are a seller on Teachers pay Teachers, please consider donating something!

If you need help, here is where you can get it!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude

Learning 4 Keeps

I am so thankful for my family! My own parents got divorced when I was very young - I don't remember them ever being married. I think this had a huge effect on my life because all I have ever wanted was a family of my own.

I was lucky enough to meet a wonderful, handsome (and tall!) man in college and even luckier when he asked me to marry him (many years later).

I was pregnant by our first anniversary and have added a kid every other year since then. (Although that record will end, since three is quite enough for us right now.)

Our children are healthy, kind, and funny. We get lots of cuddles and kisses, and, for now, we are the coolest people in the world to them.

Sometimes I can't believe I got everything I ever wanted! So, this Thanksgiving, and every other day of the year, I feel so thankful for my wonderful family.

The Importance of Formative Assessment :)

Just gave my science class a "practice" test on the digestive, circulatory, and respiratory systems. Also, a little cellular respiration thrown in for good measure.

Turns out - they are not quite understanding what I am putting out there :).

I had some kids that I know never pay attention and I was surprised they even got a few answers right. However, some of my most engaged students still don't understand some topics.

I am so glad we had this practice before the real grade-wide test in two weeks. Now I know that I need to slow waaaaay down!

I am also going to work on one page note sheets for them that explain some of the big concepts we have been working on. They are still learning how to take notes during class and I think being able to take something home and look at it will help.

They are also allowed to use any notes in their notebooks on tests (the idea here is that there will not be a lot of fact questions, but understanding questions). This is a policy that the other science teachers in the building have instituted and since I am the new kid on the block I am following.

In my previous classroom students would never be allowed to use notes. When I first came to the school the students complained that I was too hard, but after a few months they were rockstars on all tests and quizzes!

So, what do you think? Does it help kids to have their notebooks as a security blanket or does it stop them from really learning? I really am curious about this - I don't care what they do as long as they actually learn.