Tuesday, December 31, 2013


New Year's Resolutions are a funny business...  I actually love them.  The idea that next year I will be better- at eating right, saving money, being more present.  But they're so tricky to stick to, and often just cause us to feel guilty.

Last year I wrote about a resolution to use the library more.  It wasn't too hard to do, considering I had been avoiding the library for a while due to a large fine I had accumulated.  Whoopsie.  Anyway, I liked this resolution because it was fun and productive and also attainable!

So this year I have resolved to perfect making macarons!  It does seem like somewhat of a culinary challenge as I have heard far more stories of macaron failures than successes.  Anyone have any tips?  I'm mostly excited for this resolution because it will be a fun one to share! 

Any great resolution ideas your considering?

While you ponder it, here is a wish for you, reader, for 2014 from author Neil Gaiman!  May it be a blessed one.

Raise the glass to 2014!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Gift Ideas

Christmas is right around the corner!!  I am thrilled.  I hope you are blessed this season and also have a change to be a blessing.

If you're stumped for gift ideas for your favorite teacher in your life, here are two I'm gifting this year.  (Which is also why I couldn't put up this post sooner!  Can't ruin the surprise!)

Sweet student teacher's time with me finished with a bang!  We honored her at our poetry reading and gave her a bag of new and gently used books.  This was early in the day... a few hours later this bad boy was overflowing!

To make it, I ordered my favorite teacher bag from Land's End.  Then I asked students to donate books for her future library.  They were so excited for her!


For my very special ATPs, I gifted these personalized note paper holders from the one and only Michelle at Monkey See Boutique.  Man, I love that girl.  She did a great job with these...and even did a free reprint when Mrs. Mathai's was sent to me with the wrong spelling.

If you still need ideas, I highly recommend these other fun gifts from Monkey See Boutique (just check under the 'Back 2 School' tab).  Tell her I sent you!

Monogrammed Basket Weave Lunch Totes
Yep, that one is mine!  :)

Personalized Jumbo 40 ounce Hand Sanitizer 

personalized monogrammed SILVER water bottle - perfect for team gifts 

teacher gift set featuring a personalized jumbo hand sanitizer and a monogrammed acrylic notepad holder

Friday, December 20, 2013

Welcome to the Midwest!

Sweet Student Teacher (SST) did a great project with my students a few weeks ago.  They were given several options to present their learning about the Midwest region, including a brochure, poem, poster, or song.  Of course, I am biased to the songs.

Anyone else a TOTAL sucker for a kid singing to you?  Especially a witty parody?  Like "What Does the Midwest Say?"  Yep.  Here are the lyrics:

And Kansas
Nebraska and Ohio
North and South

Minnesota and Wisconsin

Those are the states
In the Midwest
What amusement park
Ce-ce-ce-ce-cedar point
Ki-ki-ki-ki-Kings Island
Si-si-si-si-Six Flags
What crops are there
So-so-so-so-so-soy beans

Some monuments
Jewely-jewely-Jewel Cave
Pipy-pipy-Pipe Stone
There are others
Scotts-Scotts-scootts-Scott Bluff
George-George-George-George Carver
Effi-effi-effi-effigy Mounds

The Soo-locks
Carrying barges
Up and down
The greatest lakes
Chicago Cubs
Play at the
Wrigley Field

Wright brothers made
The first airplane
They lived in Ohio
But Henry Ford
Made the motor
And was from Michigan

And Edwin E. made the

Epic!  Try it out.  You won't be sorry.

And check out this video of "Welcome to the Midwest" to the tune of "Radioactive."  I totally sing this chorus when I hear it on the radio now!

Love seeing kids get this creative about their learning!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fluency Coaching

Check out this SWEET video from ATP with her adorable daughter Malia.  Even Malia gets it that fluency is SO important to comprehension!

Love it!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Jot It Down

We're gearing up to practice watching a video as a form of text (what, what PARCC tests coming!?!!) and wouldn't you know ATP found this catchy video, Jot It Down, to help students take more effective notes.  I dare you not to get it stuck in your head!

I promise I'll post her version as soon as I can talk her into rapping for our classes!

Any other good tips or resources for teaching note-taking?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Western Treasure Hunt

Did I tell you how much my student teacher rocks?  Well, she does.  A lot.  She has been so professional, dedicated, and creative.  It's so fun to watch her grow and take on each challenge I throw her way. 

Like this one.

Sweet student teacher (henceforth SST) created a rockin' treasure hunt to help my students learn about the western region of the United States.  The premise was they had to find No Beard the Pirate's treasure in the West by following clues around the school.

Not only was it fun an exciting, but they learned a ton! 
Here are some pics of the hunt in progress.  I loved that she had everyone dress in their team colors!
The Green Team Working on their first clue


Blue Team is almost ready to look for clue #2!

One of the stops included our school secretary showing the students how to hula!  And SST provided leis as a souvenir of their stop before getting another clue.

Our secretary went above and beyond by dressing up and playing hula music in her office! It was the total highlight!

At the end, the clues led right back to our own classroom where No Beard's (chocolate) gold treasure was waiting! 

The Pink Team tells one fact they learned before getting their gold!

I am so grateful to SST for working so hard on this lesson and can't WAIT to use it again next year!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Classroom Quotes

We're on snow day numero dos!   Big news for this girl who has only had one in the last two years.
And what a snow days for if not catching up on sleep, blogging, and pinterest :)
Enjoy some of these quotes I found today.  Can't wait to incorporate them in my room somewhere.  Any ideas?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Reader's Theatre

Right before Thanksgiving we practiced reading fluency in an exciting way.  Using scripts from Fabulously Funny Fairy Tale Plays, students worked in small groups to perfect their reading fluency in these areas: pace, volume, phrasing, and most of all, expression.
It was such a fun way to show off out learning!  And we got to share our final show with a fourth grade classroom!
Check out these pics from last year's group performing Spiderella, Goldilocks and the Three Bullfrogs, the Emperor's New Hair and more.


New this year....we performed in my room using my sweet new stage (more on it here and here):

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

20 Things in the Classroom

Last week I shared the latest vid from Kid President. 
This week, I found this awesome classroom application of one of his sweet quotes.  Thanks to 4th grade teacher Ms. Revesz in MI for the idea of creating a "compliment wall."  I LOVE it and am totally stealing it soon!

Friday, November 29, 2013


I am so thankful for a job I love and coworkers I respect.  What a blessing.  And the days when you just bubble over with gratitude are just too good.
So I'm pausing to say thank you, to all those I work with and teach and share my teacher life with.  You mean more to me than you will ever know. 
Here's a Thanksgiving Top Ten list I compiled and shared with our students and team parents:
1. Students who are excited to learn.
2. Parents who support their kids by helping them to be their best.
3. Kids who are getting gritty!
4. Students who have already finished their genre reading requirements AND students who are challenging themselves to read more than they did last year.
5. Parents who sign planners, send in donations when we ask, process the day with your kiddos, and tell them, "I love you" and "I'm proud of you!"
6. Watching our students make their best effort!
7. #awesome questions from #awesome students
8. Seeing kiddos take on new challenges!
9. A great first trimester and two more to come.
10. Creative and witty students who make us smile every day!
#humbled :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

20 Things

Happy Thanksgiving, readers!!  I hope you have a lovely time with family, food, and minimal schoolwork to do!  And I hope your time off is seasoned with relaxation and great conversations.  If you're stumped for what to say, just check out some advice from my favorite, Kid President.

You can also check out our team blog here for a Top Ten List we shared with students and parents of all the ways we're grateful for them!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Four Score and Seven Years Ago

Today is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.  So as a good Social Studies teacher ambassador, I would like to share this video of all living US Presidents (and a few other politicians and celebs, too) reading the Gettysburg Address.

Click here to watch!

Ken Burns produced this video with the aim to encourage people to learn the Gettysburg Address...so get after it!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Teachers Are Earning Millions of Dollars!

It's a great read about a great resource.  Teachers, if you aren't on there yet, you need to be!  I have been selling on average one item a day lately!

Friday, November 15, 2013


Hop on over to our team blog to check out a character challenge we're doing right now around the idea of GRIT!

And check out this inspiring TED Talk from Angela Lee Duckworth for a little preview.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tacky Tourist Day

 Happy Tacky Tourist day!  To wrap up our study of the Southeast, we're celebrating with a day of dress up!  Each student was asked to think about tourist destinations in the SE and to dress like their visiting that location.

We also had props available for students who wanted them.

These pics will be the front cover of a scrapbook we're making about the southeast region.

Check out some great examples of costumes below, including yours truly as a hiker on the Appalachian Trail.  And my sweet student teacher from the Grand Ole Opry!
While we did our classwork, we listened to a soundtrack of Southeast songs, including "Georgia on my Mind," "Calling Baton Rouge," "Walking in Memphis," "Sweet Home Alabama," "My Old Kentucky Home," and "Good Old Rocky Top."

Thanks to Mrs. Hall at Fabulous in Fourth for sharing this great idea!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Back to Reality

I was out of the classroom on Friday to be the maid of honor in a dear friend's out of town wedding.  It's always hard to write sub plans and be away from the classroom, but my sweet sub (and another dear friend of mine) left me these sticky notes alllllll over my desk area. 

I kept finding more as the day went on. Talk about a good way to start the week!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Poetry Slam (with the new stage!)

Monday marked our first poetry slam competition! Thanks to the example of my mentor, I have been putting on optional poetry competitions for my students since my first year of teaching. It's a great way to challenge students to step out of their comfort zones and I LOVE celebrating their writing! I especially love having some of my BOYS reading poetry and making it cool!

Thanks to Papa Sheets, my new stage really stepped it up a level this year!

(FYI, The red curtains were $3 flat sheets from Walmart on tension rods from my ceiling)

Can't wait for our next one!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Apps for Teachers

There are tons of blog posts about apps for teachers to use in their classrooms to help with student learning.  This isn't that post.  Instead, I want to tell you about two apps that make MY life easier as a teacher.

1. Do It Tomorrow-Free

This is the mother of all "to do lists."  It has two pages of lists; one for today, and one for tomorrow.  If you do not cross an item off "today" it automatically gets moved to "tomorrow." (You can also manually move items between days).

It's a great way to prioritize what needs to be done today and what can wait.  Plus when you "check an item off" it makes a really satisfying sound.

2. Take a Break-Free

"Take a Break" was recommended to me by a masseuse, so you know it has to be good!  When I can't sleep and am tossing and turning about assessments and meetings and all the business of teaching, I put on the "stress relief" meditation program.  It may sound cheesy, but it really helps for those days/nights when you just can't turn off the running list in your mind.

There are nice options (as you can see above) to customize the program, too.

I hope these help in some way!  I'd love to hear about apps that make your teacher life better!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Author Night

What a great evening we had with Cynthia Lord! It was great to see students and parents coming together to hear her advice on writing and fun stories about her books.  She even told us about SEVEN upcoming books being released in the next two years!!

The room was set up for 200 guests. Cynthia kind of laughed at me when I told her that and assured me she would be happy with 50 attendees on a week night.  

Guess what? We had to put out more chairs!! The event organizer estimated we had about 230 parents, students, and community members!!

It made me so proud of our school and department. I hope this becomes a long-term partnership with Cynthia!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Happy Cynthia Lord Day, 2013!

We're so blessed to have ANOTHER visit from the one and only Cynthia Lord, one of my favorite people and author Rules, Touch Blue, and Hot Rod Hamster.

I can't wait to share more about her visit after today, including a new addition, Author Night with the community.  Until I do, read about her visit last year here.

Monday, October 14, 2013

America Before Columbus

Happy Columbus Day!  I'm enjoying a nice day off.  We've never had Columbus Day off and it's more a matter of coincidence with the way our calendar fell this year, but I am celebrating (brunch & a massage, what, what?!)!

I also thought I'd share a great resource with you, America Before Columbus, produced by National Geographic.  This video is engaging and informative and a great tie to our curriculum.  It really does a nice job telling about life before Columbus and his crew landed at San Salvador and showing the impact of their expeditions.

Here is a link to view the full video

Wishing you a day of good retail sales and no infectious diseases.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist!)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Girls on the Run Continued

You may remember that this past spring I served as running buddy to one of my sweet students who was training for her first 5k with Girls on the Run (if not, check it out here and here).  It really is such an incredible organization and I love all that they do to build into young girls.

It was such a powerful and lovely experience that I decided to train for my own marathon as a "Sole Mate" for Girls on the Run of Cincinnati.  This means that I am raising funds for a girl who is on scholarship.  By the way, no girl is ever turned away from the program for financial difficulties.  That means about 50% of the girls who join are receiving some sort of financial assistance for the program or running equipment (including new running shoes!).

Girls on the Run
On Sunday I hosted a fundraising event to help me meet my goal.  It was a great day with a break in the rain just for us!
My sweet student from last spring came and told us all about what GOTR has meant to her.  Then I planned a 2-mile walk/run course.  About 20 friends joined in the fun!

Sweet student did such a good job talking about GOTR!
And of course, we had some yummy snacks afterwards!
Some of my running friends and my guest of honor :)
I'm still working on raising money for GOTR, so if you would like to donate, it's not too late and it's easy to do online
Thanks in advance for supporting these darling runners!

My GOTR team!  I am so excited to help sponsor a few of these girls!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Thanks, Scholastic!

I got my first box of Scholastic Reading Clubs (formerly Book Clubs) orders for the year today.  Wow!!  Scholastic sent me a pack of TEN free books.  I saw that advertised when I ordered, but I had no idea they would be so good!!

Check out the other titles I got for FREE with my bonus points.  Woooo!

Check it out if you haven't!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Smells Like Miss Sheets

One of the only good things about missing school for two days is the way the kids get so. excited. for your return. 
Of course they all wondered if I was off having fun or was sick... conference attendance still didn't seem to register even after I explained it, but I did feel so loved and missed today.
One student gave me this...yep.  Not sure how to react, but I guess the sentiment is sweet??

And these new braided bracelets make me feel nice and old.  But I do appreciate this trend more than the silly bandz craze.  This was today's haul.
My favorite story though, was when my afternoon class started filing in.  One boy looked at another and said, "I told you she was back.  It even smells like Miss Sheets."  I'm still not quite sure how to take that (I promise I did shower today), but I think it was meant as some sort of compliment.
Oh, fifth graders.  You're my favorite of ever.

p.s. Congrats to Mikala for winning the MonkeySee Boutique give-away!  Thanks to all who entered!