Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Happy Hump Day friends!!!!  Welcome to another edition of 

I'm so excited to talk to you about the amazing website Flocabulary!  If you haven't heard of it or checked it out it's a MUST!  Think Ice Cube or LL Cool J meets up with 'old school' School House Rock.   Flocabulary  = Hip hop coming to a classroom near you.

You have to trust me when I say the subscription is totally worth it!  It has several raps to choose from for all kinds of educational skills and topics.  It's also very easy to navigate and the songs are super catchy.  It doesn't take long for my students to memorize a song if we are reviewing a skill for a while.  

The raps/videos are so engaging and not only that they reinforce the skill you are working on because the tune is so catchy.  I hear my students humming these songs all the time.  
Here is a video from my class last year - you can tell we are having a blast with flocabulary!

It is a small investment for a years worth of great, skill based songs and raps that will help your students remember key concepts.  You may even be able to get your PTA or principal to pay for it for you.  You can find out more about it here:

One of the other things I appreciate about Flocabulary that I didn't mention is that they add new content all the time.  So, if you aren't seeing a skill  it's probably 'in the works'.  Another cool feature is you can slow down the rap under settings/controls.  If you have a special needs class or the song is kinda wordy you can slow it down so your students can memorize or sing along with it easier.  
If you are already using Flocabulary share with us what you love about it below and if you haven 't hopped on board yet - you need to at least visit the site and check it out.  If you are feeling like your lesson plans can use a pick me up this is the perfect way to do it!
I hope you can add this to your 'bag of tricks' teacher friends!

Social Media and Teaching

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Images everywhere - Facebook, Instagram, Snap Chat filters ~ I can barely keep up.  We are surrounded by 'perfect' images constantly and not to mention everyone's 'highlight reel' of life.  I get it, I'm guilty of it too.

the pressures of social media and teaching

 It's no wonder you are feeling like a not so great mom, wife, daughter, teacher, friend.  But let me remind you - you are amazing, you are doing your best and you are #winning.
As a teacher that has been active on line for 10+ years I've seen so many changes and with that had lots of different emotions myself over the years when it's come to the dreaded word that I try to avoid at all cost:  COMPARISON.  Ugh, I said it, yuck!  Comparison my friends really truly is the thief of joy!  Don't get sucked up by it, don't get pulled in.
When I started my teacher website at the end of 2007 I felt pretty good about myself.  I loved having teachers sign my guest book and tell me they enjoyed my ideas.  Bahaha - if that doesn't age me... 
I started to recognize other teachers that had websites and would visit their sites to see what they were up to in their classroom.  I came away with great ideas and inspiration.  I too let them know I enjoyed their site and that was about it.
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Fast forward a handful of years and there are thousands of teachers with blogs, stores, social media - you name it.  I had a website before there was a Pinterest and pinning parties and tailwind, etc.
I was so excited when I discovered teacher blogs - that was a true game changer!  Of course I had to keep my website but also start up a blog.  I met so many great teachers and had real life meet ups and blog hops and giveaways and tons of collaboration.  
Then came facebook groups and pages, learning how to do facebook lives, instagram stories, and people asking how many followers you have...don't even get me started on Twitter. ( not my thing yet )
Quickly and I do mean quickly things changed.  It went from leaving a comment on a blog post to my finger scrolling more on my phone than miles I've swam....and trust me I've swam a lot of miles in my life.  Master mind groups were forming faster than I could reply to a comment and my head began to spin.
Seeing images of teachers singing songs with their students and giving fancy high fives at the front door of their classroom started to become the norm.  The perfect classroom that never had a border out of place or a pile of ungraded paper anywhere to be found was not seen though.  
Perfect hair, smiles, classrooms, lesson plans, libraries, it all seemed too perfect...way too perfect.  I started to even feel a little overwhelmed by it all.  I could see how a new teacher that didn't have the money to spend on their classroom would feel a little 'less than.'  The new teacher that is overwhelmed by the curriculum and behavior management alone is feeling even  more inadequate while his/her finger is scrolling...trust me!  I've had a few reach out to me saying they cry at night because they are so overwhelmed.
I'm thankful that there has been a small shift - very tiny but still noticeable.  Teachers posting 'real' pictures and owning their ungraded paper piles, or messy classroom.  We need a balance of this my friends.  Life isn't perfect, in fact it's far from it.  
I guess I just want to remind you that you are wonderful and the look or theme of your classroom doesn't define you!  Your students admire, trust and love you - so don't feel like you have to sing, stand on tables, dance, stay till 6 pm fixing every little loose border or messy cubby.  They will get messy again and your classroom will start each day with your smile and love showered on these lucky students.  Be you, be proud of what you do, you are making a difference every single day.

social media pressure

Be blessed, remember that you are enough and as always happy teaching!  

Don't forget to join me here every Wednesday for my weekly series:

Robot Regrouping

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Regrouping can be tough, I get it.  I taught second for 4 years and that was one of the harder concepts to teach.  I'm currently in third and have to reteach regrouping constantly!  I know when I have to teach #hardthings I usually think of a great hook, song, video, skit or something to really get them engaged and interested in it.  
I know regrouping is a difficult concept that requires lots of reteaching, visuals and hands on activities to help make it more concrete for your young learners.  Whether you are working on borrowing or carrying these robots will be fun to work on and display in your classroom.  They make great visual reminders if they are hanging up and can be used to help your students remember how to regroup.  What are some fun ways you teach regrouping?

regrouping craft

You can grab this mathtivity in my store if you are interested - get it { here }

Bright Ideas Incentive

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I love rewarding kids, finding the good, praising.... accentuating the positive!  So, I love finding, thinking of or coming across ideas that can do just that.  This weekend I was thinking about a few kids I have this year that are smartie pants and either think outside the box or find a new way of doing something and I always praise them for thinking creatively.  It's kinda like a domino effect because when I do that, my other students want to be recognized and they want to share how they come up with an answer in math or thought about how to solve a problem.  What I love about this is that it gets even my more reluctant learners to try to rethink a situation or solve a problem. They love to be recognized for this as well.

reward and incentives in the classroom

So, this weekend I started thinking about something I could do to make these kids feel extra special and since like I said earlier my outside the box thinkers have really been motivating my other learners to do the same so I wanted to give them a little shout out of sorts.  I thought why not use a light bulb and put it on a necklace?  The student that has the bright idea at the moment can be called out and recognized, I told the kids today that the light bulb might move around all day long.  They were on board and loved the idea!
So, today when one of my struggling students asked if he could re organize my reading group books I said sure.  He went about the task diligently and carefully.  He found a new place to put them that made more sense and looked neater.  I praised him for his creative organization skills.  He beamed when I put the bright ideas necklace around his neck.  He wore it so proudly!  If you have students that don't typically think outside the box that's okay.  Find something that they can shine at that you can turn into a bright idea and let them have their moment to shine!
It really is just about building those relationships and their self esteem...once you have that...the teaching comes so much easier...I promise!
The necklace made it rounds today, when another child had a brilliant idea or tackled a problem outside the box I transferred the necklace to that child.  Another idea make a few necklaces so you can have 3 students wearing them at a time during the day.  Either way they still feel special!
I hope you can use this idea, if you want to try it out you can grab it ( here ).

Don't forget to join me here every Wednesday for my weekly series,

Happy teaching friends!

Teaching Perimeter

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Perimeter ~ usually goes right along with area and can be confusing for some of your young learners...hopefully today I will give you some tips to make it stick with them a little more.

tips for teaching perimeter

The first thing I do is take the kids outside for part of the lesson.    
( My brilliant team partner shared this idea of taking them outside years ago )  
This serves several purposes...
First of all, they love being outdoors and switching things up a bit.  But more importantly, we walk ( follow the leader - single file line style ) to the basketball court and spread out around the perimeter of the court.  I stand in the middle and talk to them and get a discussion going about where they are standing.  I listen to the words they throw out at me, like: outside, around, edge, etc.  Usually I have at least one student yell out rim.... a ha!!!!  That's the ticket!
I then tell them yes - that's the perfect way to describe where we are, we are around the rim of the shape ( rectangle )/ court.  
As we go back inside I point out an anchor chart that I have pre made that looks like this:

tips for teaching perimeter

They visual of the box around the word rim is really what helps them remember the most along with the experience of being outside around the rim of the court.  Hopefully these quick easy tips can help make your math block on perimeter really be memorable for your students.

perimeter lesson

Join me every week on Wednesday for more fun ideas on my weekly series:

Let me know how it goes...as always 
happy teaching!

Pin Art and Fine Motor Skills

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Did you know that fine motor skills need to be developed just like other early developmental skills like recognizing colors and letters?  Fine motor skills is a synonym to dexterity which is the coordination of small muscles in movements mostly involving the hands and fingers.  Fine motor skills can be developed in a variety of ways if you have a toddler or young child there are a lot of fun, engaging activities you can introduce to them.

fine motor skills ideas

One great way to get your toddler or preschooler more adept in the area of fine motor skills is the pasta drainer activity.  Place a pasta drainer and some pipe cleaners down in front of them.  Show them how they can push and pull the pipe cleaner through the small holes of the pasta drainer.  They will love it and be busy for a long while. ( Maybe you can fit in that phone call or organize the pantry. )  This simple skill will develop their fine motor skills and practicing this often will build up those muscles.  It's also perfect for eye hand coordination as well.  These types of activities can better prepare your child for holding a pencil in their later years in preschool or kindergarten.  

develop fine motor skills and eye hand coordination with a pasta drainer

fine motor skills for preschoolers

Using their little hands to string beads through pipe cleaner is always a great idea as well. 

fine motor skills for preschoolers

If you teacher K -4th you can also incorporate pin art.  Pin art is wonderful for several reasons!  For one, it definitely helps build their fine motor skills!  In order to use pin art if you aren't familiar with the idea your child or student is asked to hold a push pin in their hand while pressing into a soft area like carpet.  They push through the paper and lift their pin, then the go to the next dot on the paper and repeat.  It's a fun, engaging activity and a quiet classroom activity if you've been cooped up inside from indoor recess it's a great way to keep your sanity.

pin art great for fine motor skills

pin art great for fine motor skills

pin art great for fine motor skills

As you can see introducing young children to these fine motor skills will help make them more successful as they enter their formal education.  Also, it's important to keep their fine motor skills strong and pin art is a wonderful way to do that.  If you are interested in more pin art resources you can find them 
What other ideas have your tried to help build your young child's fine motor skills?

Be the difference

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

My heart comes to you this week very heavy teacher friends...
with the most recent shooting in Florida I'm spent.  I'm sad, frustrated, and beyond angry!  Why don't the powers at be listen?  Why isn't there more funding in education?  Why have counselors and psychologists been cut out of the budget?
I've done some proactive things if you are curious, I'm not just complaining.  I've called representatives, I've donated to everytown.org, I've joined with thousands of teacher friends to share our frustrations.  #armmewith 
But I do know one thing I can do every single day between the 4 walls of my classroom.  It is a simple thing really, it doesn't cost any money and it comes naturally to me - well, probably to most of us that chose this profession, at least I would hope.

arm me with

It's to LOVE ON my students each year as well as OTHER students on my campus.  I find those kids like a magnet : those that are fatherless, or mope around campus.  I don't care what grade they are, I will find them.  I seek them out when I have playground duty, I get to know their names quickly.  I pursue them guys...I really do.
The girl that just moved to the area that never looks anyone in the eye, yeah that one.  I know her by name.  I ask her daily how she is.  I compliment her on something and get her to smile.  I check on her at snack to see if she's still smiling and give her a high 5.  THESE kids NEED US more than EVER!  The ones that are broken and hurting, the ones that could fall through the cracks.  The ones that are always looking at the black top and quiet.  They need you!  They need an adult in their corner that will check in on them.  
I ate lunch with the most difficult boy on campus every Wednesday.  I had him in first grade years ago and as a 5th grader he would come down and have lunch with me.  We didn't have the same lunch - it overlapped just enough that we could share 15 minutes together.  HE SHOWED UP EVERY SINGLE TIME!  He was a troubled kid, he had a chip on his shoulder, he had referrals daily.  BUT, he wanted to and looked forward to eating lunch with me a teacher, not a celebrity, not a famous you tuber...just plain ole me.  
Guess what?!!?  I listened to him, I asked him questions.  I HEARD him, sometimes he vented about a current teacher he had, I listened.  Sometimes he vented about other kids, I listened.  We would also laugh and I would always try to find something we could celebrate together.  If he turned his homework in on time, or didn't get in trouble.  His reward sometimes would be to spend 20 minutes in my class if he met a behavioral goal.  He actually wanted to do that.  Again, just me - an average everyday adult that pursued a kid that would otherwise be ignored and come to hate school.  I'm no superhero, I'm not extraordinary.  
I love this line from the movie While you were sleeping - you can watch it ( here ) go to :38
Sandra Bullock says to Peter          :
" You give up your seat everyday on the train."  
Peter says, " Well that's not heroic."
Sandra replies, "It is to the person that sits in it."

So go out there and be heroic friends!  Whether it's to the kids in your own class or a child you see moping around campus.  We can't save all the broken souls of the world - we can't truly stop evil and school shootings.  BUT, maybe the boy that I sat and had lunch with every Wednesday...maybe he was on that path to ... well who knows?  I don't want to think about that. Maybe he needed me as a caring adult in his life to help change his inner demons just a bit.  Maybe he'll have a couple more like me in middle and high school and just this handful of teachers that reached out and looked out for him is enough.  YOU NEVER KNOW, if I can be the adult or one of them that makes a child realize he's loved and it stops even one from hurting themselves or others than I've done well.
Be that adult friends!  We can't control congress, we can't control the lack of funding for counselors... but we can control how we deal with the angry child that lashes out.  We can choose to be extra patient and kind.  We can choose to listen and take the time to show love even when they may be disrespectful.  Our most difficult kids need us the most!!!!  I'm always drawn to these kids, my heart aches for them.  Some say but you aren't their parent, just let it go.  NO!!!  I say NO WAY!  God has placed that child in my class for a reason and I am responsible for my actions towards that child.  I WILL take a bullet for any student but I WILL NOT let a child slip through the cracks.
At least we can control this - every single day we can control this.
Be that teacher - make that difference - plant that seed that shows you care.
I'm proud to be a teacher and proud to know thousands of teachers that do this every day as well.

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