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September 29, 2013

Super Improvers Wall ( or Not)

I love Whole Brain Teaching.

Last year I had a Super Improvers Wall.  I had the levels (thanks to Teacher on the Loose)

and each of my students had a colored card with their name on it to put their stickers on...except I used gems instead of stickers.  Who doesn't like a little bling!

I get these at Joanne's in a variety of colors.  And the kids LOVE them!  Occasionally I'll buy some that are a little larger just to mix it up....but only because I'm crazy like that....or they are out of the smaller size.  Take your pick.

It was a great success!  I loved it and the kids loved it.  Win-Win!!

Flash forward to a shopping trip near the end of the school year for more gems.  The clerk asked what I was making with so many packages of gems.  I told her about the Super Improver Wall and she suggested if it was something they could wear and collect all year it would be even better.  I agreed and we brainstormed a little about how it could be done.


Then while stalking a favorite blog over the summer aka Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera!  I fell in love with her behavior beads and purchased just about every set she has.

As I was printing set after set out the light bulb went off....click!

Super Improvers Wall....that they can wear!

The kids love these!

Here are the first three tags for you to download and use.

Free Graphics from Phillip Martin

I'll be adding others as I make them.
I hope your kids like these as much as mine do.

September 14, 2013

Attention Please!


You are busy working with a student one-on-one or with a small group and the interruptions just keep coming, right?!

"How do you spell cousin?"

"What am I supposed to do on this one?"

"Did you know it's thirty-eight days until my birthday?"

Really??  You interrupted me for that!

How do you make the madness end?????

Train your kids.  What do you do if _______ happens and I'm busy?  Role-play.  (Kids love that!)

I admit I've not done this well enough many years and it made working with someone or a small group PaInFuL!

I've tried the "Ask 3 Before Me" sign, the crown on my head, etc. to signal no interruptions.

Those all worked to a point but there was something missing.

This year part of training my class included this little miracle.

Sorry it's a little blurry.
Each of the kids gets a stick with their number on it.  (Right now they are all in the container as you can see.) Love the numbers because it makes it possible for me to use the sticks for many years to come.  =)

Then while I work with a child or small group, if someone needs help or attention they quietly walk over and put their stick in the can.  It's important to teach what is a good reason to seek attention before hand so you won't get the birthday countdown info....usually.

When I have a minute between groups or kids, I pull a stick and call that child over so I can help with what they needed and give them their stick back.  Often times the kids will solve their own issue and sneak back over and remove their own stick while I am still working with someone.

Ah, bliss!

September 01, 2013

Back to School with a Bang!

School started with a bang this year people!

The mother of one of my students passed away after battling breast cancer for less than a year.

Another child threw up on the floor (which is naturally carpeted) twice as we were preparing for lunch on a nearly 100 degree day.

I thought I forgot the code to our class ipad cabinet.  But alas, I set the code wrong.  (forehead slap!)

Our school copier broke down on the first day of school, and the second, and . . . too many times to count.

Roto Rooter also had to be called the first day of school . . . thankfully not to my room.

And it's been so hot the last few weeks that I seriously wonder why I shower in the morning and bother to do hair and makeup.  By ten o'clock I'm a hot mess!

In spite of it all, I have to say our new principal is aMaZiNg!!!

I'm piloting a 1:1 ipad classroom this year!  Woot woot!!  (I'd love to hear your favorite apps.)

I have a nice group of kids in spite of the reputation that has preceded them since preschool and kindergarten.  I lucked out, let me just tell you.  The other two classes have some real stinkers.  And while I have a few pips of my own I think it will be a good year.

I have lots of things to share but haven't hung around to take pictures because of the heat so please be patient.

How have your first few weeks gone?

August 05, 2013

You Say It's Your Birthday!

Today we celebrated our daughters birthdays.  They are not twins but were born two years apart to the day!  We actually celebrate for about a week but today was our family dinner celebration where we let them choose any place to go out to eat.

Since everyone has gone to bed and I've got birthdays on my brain, I decided to whip up some cute bee themed birthday cards to use this year with some adorable clip art from Scrappin' Doodles.  (I saw these little birthday bees with the big glasses a couple weeks ago and couldn't resist!)

I have always ordered cards from Vistaprint or Really Good Stuff or some other place to use but when I saw these cuties, I knew I was going to make my own.

There are six different designs and sayings with two per page.  I like to have all the kids in the class sign the back with their personal birthday wishes.  They get quite fun and creative with different colored pencils or doodles.  The birthday boy or girl also gets a birthday pencil and sticker and can bring treats to school to share.  We sing a couple different birthday songs and give a birthday blessing.

You can get them at my TN shop by clicking on the image below.

I hope you can use them.

If you'd like to win a set, just leave me a comment telling me how you celebrate birthdays in your class.

July 23, 2013

Helping Hands...er...Paws

I've been working since about 6:30 this morning.....after staying up to work until 1:00.

And back to school brain has started since I didn't fall asleep until after 2:00 thinking about the gazillion things I need to do and the few things I want to do before school starts!

Ah, but today I have a helper so life is good!

I like do da mouse, Mom!

Or maybe I'm helping him......

July 19, 2013

New Number Line

It's another late night folks.  Even the pets have gone to bed.  That's a bad sign especially when one is a cat.  Aren't they supposed to be nocturnal?

I believe I'm turning into a vampire or some other creature of the night.  This is not going to work when school starts.

But I'll start dealing with that next week...right!  (I know I said that to someone last week...probably my mom since she always worries about me getting enough sleep...still...after all these years.)

Anyway, I've finally got the fonts to not cut off on my first completed school project.  Funny thing is I actually like the font I ended up using better than the one I originally had.  Yes, things always happen for a reason!

So here it is...

my new bee themed number line.

I think it's pretty darn adorable if I do say so myself.

It has a little chalkboard (which unless you live under a rock--you know is all the rage right now), numbers in word and standard form, and ten frames to visually show numbers.

Disclaimer:  The author of this post intended no offense to those who actually live under rocks, want to live under rocks, like rocks, don't like chalkboard, or didn't know that chalkboard rocks!

They are going to look fabulous on my wall IF I find the time to print, laminate and cut them out.  (I will, I will, I will...)

You can find them in my TN shop by clicking on the preview above


you can win a free set by leaving a comment...

Now it's time for bed finally.

July 18, 2013

PDF Problems

I've been so swamped designing blogs that my summer to-do list for school has gotten dusty.

I'm starting to sweat it though with summer winding down and school right around the corner.

So I stayed up super duper late the other night working on a new set of numbers for my classroom.  All was good.

Then I opened the PDF file to see how many pages it ended up being and...


The top half of one of the fonts was missing!



Why is it that some fonts do that?  Only some?  Only the one I wanted to use!


So you'll have to stay tuned for the finished project because it will require some fixing and right now I'm just not in the mood.

If you've also had this problem and figured out a way to fix it please leave me a comment.  And if you'd just like to rant because the same thing has happened to you feel free too.

July 15, 2013

Free Quote

I LOVE quotes!!

I saw this great quote pinned on someone else's blog and thought I've got to add that to my quote collection.

So while I was making one up for myself I added a few with other backgrounds for those of you that also thought you could use it in your room.

Click here to download.
(If you'd like a different background email me and I'll see what I can do.)

July 13, 2013


I found out today that a former student committed suicide.  This amazing young man was also a classmate of my oldest daughter.  She is devastated and I'm in shock.

June 15, 2013

Beginning vs. Ending of the Year

I saw this while eating my Wheaties this morning and nearly snorted milk out my nose!  This sums it up doesn't it?  Not only is that poor end of the year owl disheveled and a hot mess...but also plumper from all the snacking in the lounge.  I thought the timer (?) by the right leg was a crushed beer can but that could just be my wishful thinking!

Happy end of the year & rejuvenating all!

June 07, 2013

Vacation - Day 4 1/2

It's called summer vacation, but it certainly doesn't feel like it yet.

Day 4 and 1/2 and I've just completed my third day of training and finished packing up my classroom today...er...yesterday I guess since it's technically Friday according to the clock.  (YAWN!)

Training day 1 was on common core (math, ELA, and the new science standards).  Wow!  Overload.  Our school believes in jumping in head first...not waiting until someone says "do it now" and then panicking.  I like that, but it's a little scary and daunting.

Did you catch that fancy schmancy zippy word usage?

Day 2 training was on Moodle.  Our system is using this for lesson pacing, common core alignment, document sharing among staff, student and parent communication.  I liked it although it's not as "cute" as I'd prefer.  I'm trying to deal with it.  But I'd like to give it a "makeover"!

Anyone out there use Moodle?  What are your thoughts, feelings, likes/dislikes, etc.  Any suggestions for me as I prepare to do math common core alignment and pacing on it for our second grade team?

It's going to be a busy summer "vacation" or work-cation...or something.

Stay tuned...I have some exciting news concerning next year that I hope to share soon!  :)

May 26, 2013

Last Week of School

This is my last week of school with the kiddos.  I have so much to do...report cards, end of the year gifts for the kids and volunteers, clean up the mess that my room has become, etc.

I have serious fuzzy brain syndrome people.

I'm going to print this and hang it around my neck as a warning to those around me.

The keep calm part is for me and the leave me alone part is for everyone else!  =)

What makes this week even worse is that I seriously have the best class I've had in 20 years.  (Has it really been that long?  Yikes, I'm old!)  I hate to see them go.

And the group coming up next year...the.WORST.ever!

This summer won't last long enough for them to mature as much as they need to folks...

May 22, 2013

Asked a Funny Question

A few weeks ago our school held it's annual Grandparent's Day celebration.

Yes, I know Grandparent's Day is officially in the fall, but our school has it in the spring.
Don't ask me why, I don't really know.
And if you ask anyone of importance why, you'll probably get the go-to answer...
"That's how it's always been done."

I bet you've never heard that one before.  We hear it a lot!

Although next year we'll have a new principal so maybe we won't hear it anymore unless of course they hire someone who has been around long enough to know that's how it's always been done.

Anyway, I'm getting off topic.

So after the big hoopla we do as a whole school, everyone goes back to their respective classrooms. The kids give the nanas and pop-pops a tour of their room, read them a book, have a cookie and introduce them to their teachers.

It's a time for chit chat, small talk, lots of smiling and the like.  Generally, a time to pretend you are a politician.  Shake hands.  Kiss a few babies.

And hope you don't have a kid who stands up on a chair and acts like a goober while the grandparents laugh, clap, and videotape the whole thing.

Anyway, I'm chatting with this one grandfather who looks me in the eye and says, "You've got a really nice classroom.  Did you decorate it yourself?"

I know my jaw dropped slightly...and my eyes blinked a number of times before I responded in true politician form, "Why yes, yes, I did as a matter of fact."

"Really?" he replies, "You did a nice job.  I really like it.  Do you do it every year?"

"Yep, I sure do, although every year I change a few things, rearrange a few things."  I smile and say.

Then I walk away to shake someone else's baby hand and kiss someone else's hand baby because I'm quite frankly dumbfounded.

Are there schools out there where they have decorators on staff and/or don't have to tear the whole room down at the end of the year and resurrect it again a couple of months later?  Do parents/grandparents think we teachers show up on the first day of school to a perfect ready room?

I don't know about you but I spend at least two three weeks decorating, preparing things, etc. before school starts.

Does anyone else out there think this was a bizarre question?  Have you been asked an equally odd question by a parent/grandparent?

April 20, 2013

Hope Springs

With all the tragedy that seems to be surrounding us lately I decided to make a freebie to share some hope.

Without hope we truly have nothing.
Without faith we have nothing.

You can grab it by clicking on it.  The link will take you to Honey Bunch Blog Design where you can find the freebie on the sidebar.

April 14, 2013

Kickin' the Stinky Sharpeners to the Curb

Anyone out there reading this??

Look at that perfect point!  LOVE!

I know everyone's heard of these amazing sharpeners...so I am preaching to the choir.  I've read a gazillion posts raving about them...watched the videos...drooled some more.

However, I haven't been able to bring myself to purchase one with my own hard-earned cash.  It's not that I'm cheap mind you.  I spend more than a person in their right mind should spend on their classroom...again preaching to the choir, I know.  But our school buys us sharpeners so why should I?

But let's face it -- the sharpeners they buy for us S.T.I.N.K!

They jam at least once a day.  Sharpen a pencil crooked...if that is possible.

The best sharpener I have in my room is one I picked up at the Rescue Mission Bargain shop that is industrial strength and probably 50+ years old.  It's true...they don't make 'em like they used to.  If this bad boy wasn't attached to the wall I could probably seriously maim an intruder with it.

Oh, and did I happen to mention that we can't sharpen colored pencils in our cheesy sharpeners because they gum them up so much that they just refuse to work?  So I bought little sharpeners for the kids to use for those at the Dollar Store.

(smiles) Problem solved!

(shakes head) Uh huh, no!

Yep, those are breaking, being used as weapons (they do have a mini-razor inside ya know), and still don't sharpen a pencil perfectly.  That and some kids will twist and sharpen, twist and sharpen, twist and sharpen, twist and sharpen, twist and sharpen...twist.and.sharpen.until.there.is.nothing.left!

Then I had to requisition more paper clips because we had used them all to poke out the tips of the colored pencils that got broken off and stuck in the junky Dollar Store sharpeners.  And later those same paper clips were used as weapons too.


So I'm hoping to put myself out of my pencil misery and either win one of these PERFECT sharpeners or I'm biting the bullet and buying one.

So there!  Take that stinky sharpeners around the world!
You are officially going to be kicked to the curb!

February 25, 2013

Booking Across the USA ~ Montana


I'm hooking up with a group of amazing bloggers to take you on a virtual trip around the USA ~ book by book.  The project is the brainchild of Jodie at Growing Book by Book.

Where is Montana?  (Seems like a silly question, but I've been asked what it's like living in Canada while visiting other states.)

Did you know that Montana is the only state with a triple divide allowing water to flow into the Pacific, Atlantic, and Hudson Bay?  You can learn this and other Fast Facts and Trivia about Montana by clicking here.

You can also visit Montana Kids and learn facts, play games, follow the dino trail, learn about Montana plants and animals, and read cool Montana ghost stories among other things!


As usual, it was hard for me to choose one book...so I didn't!

My first book is an oldie but a goodie called M is for Montana.
I first came across this book when I was a beginning teacher and have loved it ever since.  The illustrations are truly works of art and the book will appeal to children of all ages.

After reading this book, I have my students write acrostic poems with illustrations to match.  Although their poems don't usually have any historical or factual information like the book, they are very personal and creative.  Use watercolor for our illustrations, which is what I believe is used in the book.

I also like to use this book as a springboard before we create chalk mountain art work.  Here is a simple video that explains it much better than I could.

The second book I chose is B is for Big Sky Country.

This is another beautiful book with rich illustrations.  This book has a kind of "double" format.  For smaller kids you could just read the small rhyming portion (as highlighted below in yellow) and for bigger kids (and adults) you could read the larger more in-depth portion.
Here is a link for an idea book I have not used but it looks worth checking out.

I was amazed at how many other books related to Montana came up on Amazon.  (You gotta love the section "Customers Who Bought This Also Bought"...it gets me everytime!)
Third is a class favorite called Who Pooped in the Park? which is about identifying animal scat and tracks in Glacier National Park.
This fun book has kids hooked as soon as they see or hear the title!  I have made photocopies of illustrations in the book and "hidden" them around the room.  Then the kids play detective to try and identify them.  Some even decide they have to use magnifying lenses to look closer at the details.  It's a blast!  I use the song "Scit Scat Diddily Doo" by Foster Brown with this lesson.  It's a hit too.  You can find it on this CD.

I hope you have fun visiting Montana through one or all of these books.  And better yet, that you get a chance to visit in real life sometime in the future!

Click on the button below to go to a post showing all the contributing blogs.



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