Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Theme for the School Year

We are beginning our 3rd year with a school-wide theme.  I teach in a parochial school so the theme reflect this.  The first year we were "Anchored in Faith and Excellence".  We had an ocean theme and used currency with our students we called "Barnacle Bucks".  Last year we went all out Hollywood with "Setting the Stage for Saintly Success".  We called our currency "Star Bucks".  We have a monthly store where students can spend their currency.  This year our theme is "Win the World for Jesus".  We are going to focus on a country each month.  Instead of having paper currency this year, we are going to give each student a Passport. 

The currency is all copied in the Passport and is specific to the country we are studying for the month.  Students are awarded a "buck" each day and may keep it with good behavior or it may be taken away if rules are broken.  We also reward students who display extraordinary behavior with extra bucks.  This explains the reason for different amounts of "bucks" each week.  It's kind of a complex system that we have worked to perfect over the past few years.  

We will be using the left side of the pages of the booklet to collect and record facts about the countries.

Click on the picture if you'd like to see the Passport.  Do you have a school-wide theme?  Do you have a currency system and opportunities to spend the currency at your school?  I would love to hear what you have going on! 

Only 5 days until teacher meetings begin.  YIKES!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

DIY Project

We are getting ready to begin our 6th year in our new elementary school.  I have a set of cabinets in my room with about 24 inches of space between the top of the cabinets to the ceiling.  I have been trying to figure out a way to decorate the space, but haven't have any good ideas until . . . I saw an idea on Facebook from a company called Boredworks Signs.  I immediately called my husband to the computer and asked if he thought "we" could make one for my classroom.  He thought it would be no problem so my brain went into overdrive planning, sketching, and making a list of materials.  We went to Home Depot and picked up some of the supplies.  

Of course our 4-year-old daughter was not going to be happy unless she was helping with this project!  She loves helping Mommy and I know that in a few years she will be a great help to me at school!  Any ideas yet on what we're making?
We got the smallest can of paint you could buy, a few spongebrushes, a 4x4 landscape timber that had a bad spot on the end so it was discounted, a 1x8 board, and some sandpaper.  The extremely helpful Home Depot employee used my sketch on a restaurant napkin and cut the wood for me!  My husband was going to do the cutting, but God love him, it might not have gotten done until the 2012-2013 school year!  Lauren and I got busy painting the moment we got home with our supplies.

This is what we had after our first day of work.

Have you figured out what we're making? 

We made a trip to Michael's the next day to get scrapbook paper, Mod Podge, ribbon, and accents!!  I also used my fab fonts from Kevin and Amanda to print some letters on cardstock.  After lots of time working and waiting for Mod Podge to dry we now have the finished product.

Drum roll please . . . 

Now, I'm not going to lie to all you great bloggy friends, this project was fun and I love to use my creativity to make things for school.  I got to make the sign especially for my space, the size I wanted, the color, etc.  But, after thinking I could save money making it myself, probably not true.  Trying to find and coordinate the scrapbook paper, ribbon, accents - a little more difficult than it looks (especially when you are trying to shop with your husband and children :))  All in all, I am very pleased with the outcome, I had a good time making the sign, and I can't wait to see how it looks in my classroom (which is currently closed due to floor waxing - BOO).

I'll try to post pictures next week of how my sign looks in my classroom.  I hate to admit I get so caught up in blogstalking that I have neglected this little ol' blog. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Super Mario Beginning Sounds . . . whatever works!

I work with a kindergarten student who is just now recognizing most upper and lower case letters.  He LOVES video games and would talk about them for our entire 30 minutes of group time if I would let him.  So . . . I thought, let's try to work on beginning sounds using Super Mario characters. 

I plan to use this with him next week.  I will print out and laminate the character pages and cut the characters' names apart from their picture.  I will then have my little kinder match the names with the pictures.  After he's done that, we'll complete the recording sheet by cutting and pasting the beginning sounds onto the recording sheet.

Wish me luck!  I hope that if you have any video games lovers you might be able to use these also! 

Click on each page for the download!

btw - all images came from Google Images

I am learning quickly that all you expert bloggers make creating your own materials make it look way easier than it is!  You all inspire me to keep trying and learning!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mode, Median, and Range Foldable

'Tis the season for State Assessments :(  Before Spring Break our 3rd - 6th graders took the reading assessment.  Tomorrow we return to school after a week off!  We will begin the math assessments soon.  Next week I will be spending my time with the classroom teachers and another special services teacher preparing the 3rd and 4th graders on concepts that are showing up as "most difficult" on their practice tests.

I was assigned the task of preparing 3rd graders on the indicator that addresses mode, median, and range (also maximum and minimum values)!  I created a lesson that utilizes a FOLDABLE.  If you can't tell from the pictures and need a more detailed explanation of the foldable, be sure to let me know!  I will have 30 minutes to teach the lesson and I will see all the 3rd graders during the course of the week, not just the Title I Math students.  We will create the foldable.  I will have done most of the assembly to save time.  The students will just glue down the information and work through the examples.

Next, I used our local weatherman's forecast to create page to check for understanding of the assessed indicator.  I hope you can find a use for this activity with your students!  Enjoy the downloads!

  Here are the downloads!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I have been studying contractions with my 1st grade MTSS group.  In Kansas MTSS = RtI!  I also had an assignment due in one of my master's classes.  I made this "Peanut Contraction Match Up" activity.  Hope you find it useful!

I need to read someone's tutorial about saving my file as a .jpg so you can see my creation!  Someday soon!  For now, you'll have to be unimpressed by clicking on the words :(

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Critical-Thinking Learning Games

A year ago I attended a conference sponsored by the Kansas Gifted, Talented, and Creative organization.  At the conference there were vendors selling all kinds of critical-thinking learning games.  I also met some wonderful gifted facilitators who offered some great recommendations about which games to purchase.  I was able to purchase several games and I wanted to share those with you.  My academically talented students love them!

Rush Hour by ThinkFun

40 Different Traffic Jams, Hours of Fun. Rush Hour pits players against gridlock as they slide cars and trucks out of their way to clear a path for the red car. Four levels of difficulty allow each player to progress at his or her own pace.

We also have Rush Hour, Jr., Rush Hour Safari, and Rush Hour Railroad.  If you have iPods in your classroom there is also an application for Rush Hour in iTunes.

Shape by Shape by ThinkFun

Shape by Shape introduces puzzle solving in a fun, challenging way by encouraging players to match red and yellow tiles to the images on one of 60 challenge cards.

and . . . Square by Square by ThinkFun
Square by Square is very similar to Shape by Shape. 

This is not an advertisement for ThinkFun and they have no knowledge of this post!  My students really love each of these activities.  They would be great to put in a center or to have in your classroom for your high-ability students.  Check back and I will be sharing other critical-thinking learning games in the future!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Meet the Teacher

Welcome to my new blog!!! I have been blogging for more than a year. My other blog that you can see here is a place to showcase the work that I am doing with my academically talented students. I decided to take the plunge and join all of you fabulous teachers who are sharing WONDERFUL ideas!

In order to properly introduce myself, I decided to join Cara Carroll's Linky Party over at The First Grade Parade!

I am in my 15th year teaching at the school where I student taught. Oh my, feeling really old right now! I student taught in a 1st grade classroom. I was hired the following school year to teach 6th grade. Everyone, I was TERRIFIED! I stayed in 6th grade for 3 years and wasn't sure I wanted to leave. Then I had the opportunity to move to 2nd grade. I took it and loved it! I taught 2nd grade for 4 years. Then we had our first child. I then took the chance to teach Title I Reading/Math part-time. It was such a great opportunity for our family! I was working 4 hours a day and it.was.marvelous! We have added two more children to our family and I have gradually worked back to teaching full-time. My work with Title I students takes up 60% of my week and the remaining 40% is spent with academically talented students. I work with students in grades K-6. Talk about variety! I love my school, students, and parents!

I am currently 9 hours from finishing my master's degree in Reading at Pittsburg State University. Go Gorillas! I 'm taking 6 hours this semester and will finish up with 3 hours in the fall of 2011.  It's been a long, slow process that has really given my teaching a whole new energy. Even though the coursework is becoming a little redundant, I have done A LOT of professional reading, lesson planning, and reflecting.

This is me with my family

Here are our three lovely children . . . ages 8, 6, and 4

On with the Q & A!

Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a teacher?
I would love to own a teacher supply store. The only supply store in my small town recently closed - it didn't have much to offer. The university in my town is known for it's education program and I think it could be very successful. A girl can dream right?

Q: What are your hobbies?
Spending time with my family, teaching, and surfing the web.

Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a teacher. I spent a brief time in high school considering becoming a pharmacist - I worked in a pharmacy.

Q: What are your guilty pleasures?
Dr. Pepper, anything sweet, American Idol and Castle!

Q: What is your biggest fear?!
Dying before my children are grown.

Q: When you’re on vacation, where do you like to go?
We like to go camping in Colorado and Disneyworld. My sister is getting married in Vegas in May and I've never been. Very excited!

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Worrying is like a rocking chair . . . it's something to do but it gets you no where.

Q: What do you value most in others?
Kindness, loyalty, honesty, AND a good work ethic!

Q: If you could choose one of your personality traits to pass down to your kids, what would it be?
Maybe my sense of responsibility and ability to self-motivate.

Q: If you could have lunch with anyone in the world….living or dead…who would it be?
My grandmother passed away several years ago and I think of her every day. I would also choose my biological father. I was just getting to know him a few years before he passed away. The moral of the story = don't waste chances with loved ones.

One random thing about myself:

After trying for quite some time to become pregnant, we found out we were expecting our first child on 9/11. I took the phone call from my doctor's office in our school library. I began to cry and the librarian said, "Honey, did you know someone in the Twin Towers?" What a day of crazy emotions.

It was great to meet you!  I hope you'll follow my blog and the resources and ideas I share will be just "The Pot o' Gold" you're looking for!