Thursday, September 26, 2013

Brain break and fun rewards videos

I have been working on incorporating brain breaks into my classroom especially when I am transitioning between math and science.  I have really started to use videos, songs, and games as a daily reward for those have great behavior.  I have really been looking and experimenting with different youtube videos.  I wanted to share some of my recent discoveries.

Also check out this play list,



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Online math program review

Educents asked me to review an online math program called CTC Math.


The first thing I noticed about this program is that it is comprehensive!

It covers all math from Kindergarten to Trig!  Since I teach 1st grade, I focused more on what they offered for my students.

I suggest that younger student work under supervision since the process to get into the lessons is not directed.  The parent needs to tell the child where they need to go and what they need to work on.

For older students it is perfect.  Older students are more aware of their weaknesses and know where to navigate to get where they need.

There is a video lesson that can be paused.  It guides the students through the process and provides questions to test understanding.

The lessons are straight forward and really work on skills.

There is also a speed skill section that works on fluency in math facts.

Students can work on everything from basic addition and subtraction to the order of operations.

Parents can get weekly reports.  A family subscription holds up to 5 students.I just found out that there is not a limit!

CTC is a good program to supplement classroom instruction.  It is also good for students that are struggling and need extra instruction at home.  It is best suited for older students that can take responsibility for their own learning.  However younger students can use it with guidance.

You can test it out for yourself!  Visit to check it out!


Friday, September 20, 2013

What a crazy week!! Time for reflection and a five for Friday

Before I start, I want to tell you that I love my school!  My own children attend my school, because I believe in it.  Our school is one of the safest in the region.  We have challenging students, but we work so hard to keep them calm and productive.  Our teachers love the children.  We never like to hear that something has happened to them.  We protect them and do what we can to prevent teasing and disrespect.

Now saying that, my school was pushed into national news this week because of one of our sweet third graders and her twin brother.


1.  Monday.

Our assistant principal was informed by a parent about a bullying issue in third grade.  Our assistant principal is a woman of action.  This issue was resolved very quickly.  A few hours later, the school found out that the story had become viral and was picked up by CNN.

2.  Tuesday

The story spread to other national news outlets and the school is bombarded with calls, positive and negative.  I cannot imagine the work our office went through answering and responding to calls.  The rest of us were living life as normally as we could with all the attention.

3.  Wednesday

Good Morning America shows up at the school to record the twins at work.  They set up in our learning lab.  Trust me the kids knew something was up.

The local news also showed up and caught my class getting lunch.

WNCN: News, Weather for Raleigh. Durham, Fayetteville

4.  Thursday

Things started to calm down.  We were still being bombarded with updates.  The media has been kind to the school.  Others have not been so kind.  The issue is that bullying is a national problem that affects every school, every race, every socioeconomic statues.  It affects us all.

5.  Amber and Ryan appear on Good Morning America.  They are treated to a serenade from Big Time Rush and they get to go to their concert this weekend.  I really think that Amber and Ryan are going to come back as mini celebrities.  Along with attentive eyes, I hope that Amber's experience at school becomes better.

Keep Amber, Ryan, and their mother in your prayers along with our school in this time.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Balance? What balance?

So if you haven't noticed my scale is tipped right now.

I am just overwhelmed with my life at school.  I am soooooo behind.   If only I had an assistant (cue daydream music....).  I will get there.  I so apologize for neglecting all of you.  On top of that I used all my planning time last week and my after school time to parents and my own sick baby.  He is doing better now and we will be celebrating birthdays soon!!!  As my long term readers may or may not remember early Summer is busy with three birthdays and an anniversary (6/20, 6/22, 6/28, and 7/9).  Now early fall comes second with my birthday and my youngest's birthday (9/23 and 10/06).  Will I celebrate 300 at the same time????  Time will tell.

Have a Marvelous Monday.  I am off to bed!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

My obsession with crazy socks!

This week has been a crazy week for me.  Two of my three sons have been sick.  First grade had their first sub today thanks to me!!!  I need to do something a little light hearted today!

I am not a jewelry wearer so I am not so much into some of the decorative or holiday jewelry that a lot of teachers wear.

 I have a few fun holiday shirts, but they can be hard to find when you are picky.


A few years ago someone started another obsession.....

weird, wacky, crazy socks.

It really got started on Dr. Seuss week when we had wacky sock day.  I went out and bought a few pairs of crazy socks then mismatched them.

Some days my socks are plain, but then I have my days that I wear my crazy socks.  The children never mention them.  I am not sure how much they notice.  They don't even say anything on the days I feel really crazy and wear two different socks (My baby sister turned me on to that!).  I do it anyway.

So if you ever run into me, I will warn you.  My shoes will not stand out.  My shirt may not stand out.  My pants are boring and normal.  Check out the socks.

One day when you are having a bad start or just feel blue, I dare you to wear some crazy socks too!  (I double dare you to mismatch them!)


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A blog in silence

I am dedicating my blog space today to remember.

Thank you Perfectly Poetry page for the image.


Monday, September 9, 2013

A new winner and my homework solution for this year.

My first winner never responded to my email :(  so I picked a new winner for the quietest pencil sharpener!  The new winner is Alyce H!!!  Please check your email and get back to me ASAP!!

Homework has always been a great struggle.  Personally I do not trust to "grade" homework since I do not know how much the child has done and how much the parents have done.  In addition since I teach Singapore Math (and common core has this aspect also), I cannot trust that parents are teaching their students how to "think" mathematically or if they are just telling the child what to do.

I want to avoid putting the child through a struggle with the parents and the teacher.  My solution this year is quick activities that support the program and will not stress anyone out.  Hopefully.

The activities are straight forward.  There are no worries about doing it the teacher's way or my parent's way.  I made it for three nights in case there was some practice or a late night.  The activity should take about 5 minutes.  The most important thing is that it takes math into real life.  

I am pairing this with number word practice every night.  This week's words are zero and one. They get to Raise the Roof for every letter of the word.  Sara Edgar created this wonderful pack!!  Click the picture to go see it!!

Next week I intend to offer a digital choice.  The students and parents can choose to go on Dreambox instead of doing the tic tac toe.  I have not received any frantic emails yet.  I will let you know what happens!

Have a wonderful evening!!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Another week done! 5 for Friday and Freebie Friday!!


A pinterest tested five for Friday!

1. Crayon organizer

Crayon organizer.  The original was a spray painted cake pan.  I used a microwave cover from Dollar Tree.  I have a lot of baby food jars.  It takes time.  You have to be able to tolerate the clanking of jars.  It does save time since the students spend less time searching for a particular color.


Sharpie Paint Pens instead of name tags.  LOVE IT!!!!  I do not have to keep replacing tape or tags.  When I want to remove a name, I go over it with a black dry erase marker.  Then I wipe it off.  We have four blocks a day and name tags were a challenge last year.  Now I can have four names written on each desk in their four colors.  I also used it to put names on their bookbag hooks!

Zip tied bus tags.  I made ours from neon index cards.  I wrote the bus number in large black sharpie and laminated the cards.  Most of the tags are still on the book bags.  When I see a bright tag in my car line, I know to look for a note or take them to the bus line.  It took time to create them, but it is worth the peace of mind!!

Mine did not turn out this nice.  It was difficult and by the end of it, I was ready to scream!!  My rusty file cabinet does look better.  I am not sure I would attempt it again.

Duck tape.  Because of high humidity in my classroom, the duck tape did not stick.  The green was especially difficult to deal with.  I did take clear contact paper and go back over it.  It is sticking now and it looks better than the plain gray laminate.  Again it took time.  I was tired by the end of it.

I hope that I gave you some insight into a few DIY projects.  Now for a freebie!!

Picture of Free Teacher Downloads at Teaching Blog Addict

I accidently left one in the teachers' lounge after copying it.  I know it was "borrowed" by a at least one teacher in my school.  I hope you enjoy it!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A great little find for STEM classrooms

I was looking around for a few activities for my students to do about scientists when I came across a chant for STEM.
It has a chant for each section of STEM.  Timothy has also added a lesson plan to go with the chants on his TPT site.

Keep an eye out on Friday, I am perfecting and testing out a mini book for students.  It will offered as a freebie on Friday.

I am also considering a Scientist version.


We know as teachers that short weeks tend to wear us out just as much as our usual routine.  However the weekend is almost here!

Hang in there!!  Congrats Jessica S. for winning the Quietest pencil sharpener!  I sent you an email!!


Monday, September 2, 2013

Currently... September

Listening....  I go through some rotations with television shows.  It helps me work through my chores to hear something familiar playing.  It works better for me than music does.  Right now I am working through Doctor Who again.  I am a geek and (for those that know) eagerly awaiting the 50th anniversary special .  I am also listening to my oldest and youngest sons talking together.  It is a special relationship.  I am privileged to witness it.  I also had the benefit of being the older sister to my sister who is 12 years younger than me.
Loving... I really needed this weekend.  My voice is getting back to normal after a long week of talking.  I am slowly getting geared up for tomorrow.

Thinking... We were able to leave at 2 on Friday and many did.  I decided that I would stay and make sure my plans were done.  I also got part of my copies done so that I am starting the week off on the right foot!

Wanting...We have been through the wringer with my youngest the last 5 days.  He started coughing and throwing up late last week without a fever.  He is also teething with three teeth coming through.  I even think a fourth is not far behind.  I think we are coming out of the woods, but we have to deal with some diaper rash now.

Needing...  I keep running out of ink with my printing so I have to do it in phases.  I just got a new pack of ink so I am off to print again!

 For me...  This month it is my goal to plan on Fridays for the next week, so that I do not worry about it all weekend.  I am going to leave as much work as possible at school for me and my family.  I am also going to treat myself to celebrate my little accomplishments.

Have a wonderful week!  A few hours left to win a pencil sharpener!

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