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Friday, November 28, 2014

3-2-1 Sale Linky

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm participating in the Super Cyber Monday sale at TPT. As there are so many high quality educational products there, I decided to join with The Apple Basket Teacher on her sale linky.

I love using task cards as whole class rotations. I have my 5th graders work with a partner to solve the problem, check with each other, and move on. It's great to hear the math conversations going on! Here is one I bought from Teaching with a Mountain View: Two Digit Divisor Division Task Cards { With & Without Rem

Interactive journals are a great hands-on resource that can be kept and used throughout the year. I use them as note-taking guides for each subject and allow my kiddos to refer to them during tests and projects. It's hard to find high-quality interactive notebooks, but here is one I absolutely love from CreateTeachShare: 5th Grade Interactive Math Notebook - OA & NBT

The last product I'd like to share is a Seller's Toolkit from Lovin' Lit. I've been using it to make most of my products lately.HUGE Seller's Toolkit Bundle - Digital Papers, Borders, Fr

2 items on my wish list are: Common Core ELA Assessments by Kristine Nannini, and "Wonder" CCSS Packet by Stephanie Nye

5th Grade Common Core ELA Assessments and Teaching Notes *    "Wonder" Common Core Unit Student Packet

Finally, I'd like to promote 1 item from my store for the upcoming sale. This is a $4.00 thematic unit for 1st grade. They explore Christmas using their 5 senses. It correlates with CCSS reading and writing standards for K-2.
 Christmas and Your 5 Senses--Common Core Reading/Writing U

Now that you've seen my products, go back to The Apple Basket Teacher to look at more great TPT products. Happy Cyber Monday!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

The warm home, delectable smells, excited children running all over the house, time with friends and family...I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving! I'm joining in the Super Cyber Sale on TPT. Everything in my store is 20% off! Eat, take a nap, eat some more, then enjoy the shopping madhouse this weekend :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

You Oughta Know About....Problem of the Month

I'm once again joining Jasmine McClain for the November "You Oughta Know" blog hop. This is my absolute favorite blog hop...I always get so many great ideas!
This month I'd like to talk about the Problem of the Month  from Inside Mathematics.
Check out this video (about 4 minutes long) for a classroom example:
These are CCSS based, multi-level word problems. Even if your state has not adopted Common Core, these are great higher-level problems to really get your students thinking and talking about math. 

Each problem starts at level A, which is primary, but doesn't necessarily mean 1st grade. Depending on the problem, level A can be anywhere k-3. Level E is the most difficult, and is usually designed for high school.

Here is an example I've used in 3rd grade and 5th grade. The problem is called "Diminishing Return". Level A is appropriate for 3rd graders relating multiplication to division:

Level A:   
Some classes are going out for a picnic lunch.  The teachers bought drinks in packs for their classes.   
Thirty-three students are in Mrs. Browne’s class.  Mrs. Browne bought six- packs for her class. She needs helpers, so she picks students to carry one six-pack each.  
Twenty-two students are in Mrs. Robinson’s class.  Mrs. Robinson bought four-packs for her class. She needs helpers, so she picks students to carry one four-pack each. 
Which teacher had to pick more helpers?   
Show how you found your answer. 

It comes with visuals for the students, a list of standards, and a lesson plan for you. (Level A is usually scripted, so they're great activities for a substitute).

This year I tried level B with my 5th graders. It involves adding and subtracting decimals. There is a picture menu included with the toys and prices.

Level B:
Mia has earned $43.94 of tokens playing games at the amusement center.  The store in the amusement center has the following toys for sale. She plans to get toys and donate them to a local charity for needy children.  The tokens are only good in this store, so she plans to spend all the tokens.  What combinations of toys can she buy in order to spend all the tokens?   
Show how you found your solution.

My kiddos worked in groups and had to make posters to share how they came to their solution. It was a great practice in teamwork as well as problem-solving. They looked so great, I even used them for my November bulletin board!

Now that you've learned about the problem of the month, check out these other great blogs for more ideas you just oughta know about!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thanksgiving Linky

I'm joining Promoting Success for their Thanksgiving Linky party. Click on the picture to see all the great Thanksgiving products. I've included a thematic unit and fact/myth discussion freebie (#31 and 32)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fabulous Freebies Friday Linky!

I'm linking up with Catia Dias for her Fabulous Freebies Friday Linky! My freebie is a Thanksgiving Fact and Folklore packet which is a great companion for my 1st Thanksgiving Unit. Check it out, then click on the linky logo to go back to Always a Teacher and Forever a Mom.

Thanksgiving Fact and Folklore    First Thanksgiving Unit

Fabulous Freebies Friday

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween!

We're celebrating a day early, because we're off tomorrow for Nevada Day. Woohoo! Can you believe most of our 5th graders couldn't figure out what our costumes were? Maybe we should have laid out like a domino game :)

Halloween Tips and Tricks to keep you sane:

1. Put a volunteer in charge. I always have a parent to sign up as party coordinator at the beginning of the year. This year I used to ask for volunteers.

2. Stipulate your coordinator to limit sweet treats. I always say 1 baked good, everything else must be fruits and veggies.

3. Sit back and let your coordinator take charge!

4. Copious quantities of caffeine (for you, not the kids)

5. Smile and repeat over and over: "It's only once a year, it's only once a year"


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Liebster Award

Thank you, heather a from "My Life at the Pencil Sharpener" and Lisa Robles at "LisaTeachR'sClassroom" for nominating me for the Liebster Award! This is an award for those new to blogging, and I'm honored to be receiving these nominations!

1. Why and how long ago did you start blogging?
I      I started blogging August 2013. I had been getting so many great ideas from blogs I'd read, and I wanted to be part of that community. It was a slow start (I only posted a few times that year), but I've really picked up over this last summer.
2. What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why? 
Creative tips and resources. I'm all about PLC's and sharing ideas. When I find something effective or unique for my classroom I can't wait to let others in on the good news. 
 3. Is there something you learned late in your blog journey you wished you knew before?
I still have so much to learn, but one thing I wish I knew at the beginning was how to join in a blog hop. I love reading other teacher experts' views on a topic, and getting comments on my own perspective.
4. What is your favorite past time other than blogging?
 My family. I'm married with 3 kids (1 at college, and 2 at home), and I love spending time with them, whether we're working in the yard together, going out, or just sprawled across the living room with our favorite books.
5. How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog? 
I try to post 2-4 times a month, and spend about 3 or 4 hours a week reading and responding to other blogs.
6. What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most?
I like usable tips and resources, and I love to look at other teachers' always gets my creative juices going.
7. Where does your blog inspiration come from? 
My students. I use their talents and their needs to create hands-on learning experiences, that I can share on my blog.
8. Of which post that you have written are you most proud?
My favorite subject to teach is writing, and I've written a couple of posts about my Writer's Workshop. This one I shared on a blog hop with Jasmine McClain is probably my favorite:
9.Is there any post you have been planning to do, but have been postponing it for a while now?
I want to share a little about my science lessons, since this is the first year I've really taught science. I have 2 science classes 4 days a week, and I've been having so much fun! I just need to get all my pictures organized before I post. Look for it soon!
10. What is your favorite aspect of blogging?
I love the feedback I get from other bloggers, and from other teachers (especially my mom). 
11. Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would you be most likely to try yourself?  
I've already tried so many! I get great ideas from blog hops that I want to implement in my own classroom. One that I started this school year was from the August "You Oughta Know" blog hop: learning scale as a formative assessment of students' understanding. My 5th graders are especially reflective and honest about where they feel they are in their learning, and I get immediate feedback for who I need to work with independently or in small groups without waiting to grade that day's assignment.

My Nominees:

To those who have been nominated, here are the "official" rules for accepting:
1. In your post, link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and "shout out." (Follow their blog if you haven't already!)
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you (the ones I answered above).
3. Nominate 11 blogs of your choice that each have less than 200 followers. Provide them with 11 questions to answer or have them answer the questions above.
4. Let your nominees know that they've been nominated and provide them with a link to your post so that they can accept.
5. Send your nominator a link to your post so that s/he can learn more about you as well! (You can just put your post link in the comments below).

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but this is my favorite time of year! My classroom is all set up for Halloween, and I have a few fun Halloween products in my TPT store.

 Check out these links for some of my spooky products:
Bat CCSS Literature and Informational Text Unit
Dem Bones Graphing Activity
October Math Meeting (must have Smart Board Notebook installed)

Being in a modular classroom means I have to borrow a bulletin board inside the building.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


I love fall! It has always been my favorite time of year, from the smells to the decorations...
This was taken at Lagoon, an amusement park in Utah.

...and the fact that my classroom is running (more or less) smoothly. The kiddos are still excited about the wonders this school year will bring, as are all the teachers. We just finished our local hot-air balloon festival, the first units in math, reading, and science are coming to a close, and writer's workshop is up and running full force! Our school is focusing on writing this year, and I'm lucky enough to be facilitating our professional development for the first semester.
I have used writer's workshop for 10 of my 11 years of teaching, and I can't imagine teaching writing any other way. It is universal--works for kindergartners on up. After our last staff discussion I learned that there are many preferences to how it looks. It all depends on your teaching style...and ability to tune out the extra noise.

In my class, I always start with a mini-lesson with either a picture book (even for my 5th graders), anchor chart, or student writing (the exemplars from the CCSS appendix are great, or writing examples from a previous class). That never lasts more than 10 minutes.
Narrative Anchor chart--we add to it with each mini-lesson

Then we write, write, write! Some teachers like silence during this time, some like quiet music in the background, I like the quiet hum of students sharing ideas, peer conferencing, teacher conferences, writing together, along with the students who choose to write independently with a variety of music playing in the background (it's different every day). Wrap up with 1 or 2 students sharing what they are working on with the class. I have found in my own experience that my kids learn as much from each other as from me, so I don't make them write silently on their own during workshop time. Journal time is different; that should be quiet and independent, but I believe workshop time is just that--a workshop. I allow students to co-author books, or split up the job of writing and illustrating if they choose. Some students choose to brainstorm together, then go off on their own and write. Some students stay together from planning all the way through publishing. And there are always others who prefer to work alone.

Whatever works, as long as they're writing!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

100 TPT Followers!

I've hit my first big milestone on TPT: 100 followers! I am so excited I just had to share :)
To celebrate, everything in my store is 20% off, plus the first 3 people to comment on this post will get their  choice of any item in my!
Here's an example of one of my items; I hung it on a mini-bulletin board, but it can easily be strung together as a banner.

The next milestone give-away is for 100 Pinterest followers ;)

Friday, September 12, 2014

You Oughta Know About...the 4 R's

Thank you Mrs. McClain for hosting this blog hop once again! I'm always happy to participate.

This month I'd like to share an effective reading strategy I've been using for long I forgot where I initially heard about it. I've had success with this strategy with first-graders up through fifth-graders. While it is good for any text, I find it especially helpful for nonfiction. It's called 4 R's. 


Sounds way too simple, right? Have students read a short portion of text (independently, with a partner, all doesn't matter). Next they cover the section with their hand. The third step is the most important: they silently remember what they just read about. I usually give them 5-10 seconds of remembering time, depending on the complexity of the text. Lastly, they retell the text to a partner.

To make students accountable for this strategy we play a game called "I Remember". They know they have to retell and they have to listen carefully to what their partner says because they will be sharing both if called on. To play I remember I randomly call a student. They begin with the sentence stem: "My partner remembered..., and I remembered...". This little activity not only holds them accountable for the text, but also helps them comprehend the text better by listening to the details that their classmates got that may differ from what they got out of it. And it gives me insight to their level of comprehension: are they regurgitating what they just heard? Are they referring to the text explicitly? Or are they inferring or drawing conclusions based on what they just read?

I get tons of information. Students are really comprehending the text and having in depth conversations about the text. And best of all, there are absolutely no worksheets that I have to grade!

Thank you for taking time to read my post! Now hop on over to one of these other fabulous bloggers for more great information:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Week 2...and Still Surviving!

I am loving this switch to 5th grade! Through all this chaos, I'm trying to keep up on my blog (yeah right!), join in pinning parties, facilitate my school's professional development, learn a completely different curriculum, and make time for my family. Doesn't sound too difficult?

I'm happy to say that my classroom is finally just like I want it to be...ugly, useless TV removed, interactive bulletin boards up and running, and a good start on the Leader in Me program. Here's to a fabulous year!

4-square "A Great Classmate..." Loved this cooperative learning activity!

Multiplication rockets blasting off

The math conversation bubbles were a TPT find; the hard-to-see vocabulary cards are on my TPT store for kindergarten through 5th grade: CCSS Vocabulary Posters

Trying something new this year--Math Daily 3--so far the kids are loving it, but I'm having a hard time finding TIME to implement. We'll keep on trying.

No more ugly TV blocking my math board!

Schedule Signs: another product from my TPT store--I've been using this one for 4 years now!

And 7 Habits posters to go with our Leadership Jobs.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I'm Finished...Just in Time for Open House!

Finally finished my new 5th grade room. Well, not exactly new; it's the same classroom, just a new grade level. And just in time for our Open House tonight. It was wonderful to meet all my new kiddos and their parents (I think some of the parents were more nervous than the kids). Now I can't wait for Monday! Here are the pictures; you can tell I like green. :)

My birthday banner (a few different options on my TPT store) and behavior chart.

Writing process with the glare from my window and job chart. 7 Habits posters will be added as we get the program up and running.

My door...I love this saying. It was a Pinterest find of course! And the view from my door.

The view from the front.

 My library...super easy book bin labels: black construction paper, silver Sharpie marker, and zebra print duct tape!My reading wall (I love the pom-poms from Michaels)

My book corner with the schedule and objectives.

Math wall...the giant, unused TV should be moved by next week.

It's hard to see, but my reading genre posters from my TPT store are above the Smartboard. I have them in 2 different color schemes. This is the turquoise and lime.
And finally, the view from my desk.  Happy new school year to all!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Time for ANOTHER Switch!

Oh my goodness! I've just been moved from 1st grade to 5th! Don't you love those last minute adjustments? To be fair, I asked my principal last spring to be moved to a different grade level. 7 years with 1st graders is enough. I want to experience all this rewarding job has to offer, and that means working with kiddos of all ages. So now, I need to turn my 1st grade classroom into something a little less cutsie.
 First grade set-up...

 last week...

and I haven't gotten much further. Still waiting on desks and texts to arrive...hopefully they'll be here before school starts! I'll post finished pictures as soon as I'm done :)