Happy Thanksgiving




I am thankful for many things and I'm especially thankful to have a job that I love.  Teaching is such an adventure!  It is hard, yes, but anything really worth doing is going to be a challenge.  Teaching is new every day - it is a room full of amazing children who are counting on you to guide them and teach them and have fun with them!  It makes the job a lot easier if you have a supportive school community.  I'm also thankful for that - I work and am able to collaborate with some very talented and giving teachers!  I am mostly thankful for my family though - 2 sweet, incredible, funny teenagers and a husband that I adore!  We have a lot of fun together!

I teach 5th grade and I love this age!  Sometimes these little nuggets can be a bit of a challenge though- when I asked them what they are thankful for, some said "nothing".  Now, I understand that some of them come from some pretty tough situations but still, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for!  I found this free activity from Scholastic that was just perfect for my class - it really helped to flip their attitude!  Check it out!

 Flip Your Attitude Show Some Gratitude
Click the image to head over to Scholastic to download!


Happy Thanksgiving!








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Spooky Spider Multiplication!

Well, it's not very spooky but it is cute!  My latest product for my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  In 5th grade math, we have been multiplying like crazy.  We've moved on to other topics but my students still need to practice to keep it fresh!  I created these task cards with a Halloween-theme for them to work on in our math stations next week.  These task cards consist of 3-digit by 2-digit AND 4-digit by 2-digit multiplication - a little something spooky for all upper elementary students!


Take a look here!
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Managing the Paper Chaos!

Alright, ya'll.  I'm going into my 9th year of teaching and I STILL struggle with all the papers.  It seems to get more difficult every year.  Well, this year, I had an idea and it's really helping keep track of papers.  Best of all, my papers look neat and organized!   Drum roll please......




I went to my local office supply store in search of a folder with multiple pockets.  I found this black, poly folder that has 7 clear pockets inside.  I fancied it up by writing on the cover with a silver sharpie!
Here's a peek of the inside.  In the inside cover, I keep my trusty (old!) EZ Grader and any answer keys that I need to keep handy.  In each clear pocket, I keep papers that need to be graded.  As soon as I collect the papers from my students, I clip them together and slide them in a pocket.  Another tip for you?  If someone is absent, I put their name on a paper and clip it to the top and add a sticky note as a reminder for me.  I LOVE this new system.  It looks good on my desk and it's easy to grab to take with me!

Do you have a system you love to help manage the endless papers?

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Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy



MEMTA Swag!
The Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, also lovingly known as MEMTA.
What an AMAZING experience!  I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that it was the best professional development of my teaching career!

You need to apply to attend the Teachers Academy in Jersey City - over 1500 teachers applied and 150 were accepted.  It felt like I won the lottery! Airfare, hotel, food, classes - all-expenses paid!

I arrived in Jersey City late Sunday afternoon.  The hotel is on the water with a stunning view of the NYC skyline.  The room was fabulous.  And all to myself!  We collected a big bag of swag and then had our first reception.  Cocktails and appetizers at the waterfront outdoor deck and a chance to mingle with teachers from all 50 states and then onto dinner.  Feeling like a VIP.
The view from my room!

Our days start early, breakfast at 7 at the Liberty Science Center.  We had to ride the NJ Transit Light Rail to the Science Center - it's about a 10 minute ride - what a fun commute!

Traveling to Liberty Science Center!


I learned so much in my 5 days that it's impossible to share it all with you in one post.  I plan to blog about the lessons and activities as I use them in my classroom.  They did give us a lot of food for thought and some fantastic instructors.  All of our activities were done using the 5E cycle - the 5 E's stand for: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate.  Now, I've heard of this instructional model before and have actually used it from time to time.  We learned how kids really learn and how to best reach ALL kids - they really need to EXPLORE first, before you explain to them the why's and the how's of what is happening.   When you think about how YOU yourself best learn something new, what really works for you?  Do you learn how to ride a bike because someone told you how to?  Or do you learn by trial and error?  How we learn best is by trial and error - making mistakes and learning from them.  MISTAKES are proof that you are learning.  It may be something you've heard before, but to put into my daily instructional practice will profoundly change the way I teach my students this year.  I expect that with this model, I'll learn as much as my students!
Stay tuned for more!  And I'll leave you with my favorite selfie:


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First Day of School Activity


I LOVE the first day of school, don't you?  It's so exciting to start a brand new school year and meet my new students.  I've tried many different activities for the first day of school but my tried and true favorite is a classroom scavenger hunt!  It gets the kiddos moving around the room and gives them permission to open up cabinets, go out into the hallway, and discover their new home!  My students love it and I love to watch the way they interact with each other.  The Classroom Scavenger Hunt was my first freebie EVER in my TeachersPayTeachers store and it's been downloaded  1,281 times! WOW!  I've recently improved the file and now it's better and cuter than ever!  Check it out in my TPT store.  Click the image below and enjoy!

 



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Setting Up My Classroom

This year, for the very first time in my 8 years of teaching, I've decided to keep the same theme in my room. Since I'm not switching rooms (which I've done 5 times in 8 years!),  it meant that I could leave most of the stuff up on the walls and bulletin boards.  For the first time ever, it took me only 1 day to get my room ready for the summer.  In my school, we need to move the students' desks and chairs out into the hallway, and remove things from the tops of furniture so that they can strip and re-wax the floors. This also means that my classroom set up should be a lot easier too!   I'm hoping to spend the bulk of my pre-planning days (the 5 days before school starts) actually PLANNING!   Yay! I've only stopped into school once this summer (another first! I'm usually there for at least 8 days before pre-planning!)to start placing the furniture and getting my teacher desk ready.  I'm going to freshen some things up a bit.   I'm planning on updating my classroom rules and making new labels for my supply cabinets but overall, I have A LOT less to do this year!  Double YAY!

My theme for last year and this year is SPACE!  It's very subtle and subdued and I love it. I have graphics of the planets over my windows and on the windows, is our word wall.  The word wall letter cards are images of the moon. I hung the curtains I had in a closet at home from my teen daughter's redecorating of her bedroom.  The curtains are turquoise with sparkles - that go perfectly with the theme.  I also have laminated photos of space images and space quotes around my door way.  I'll have to snap some photos of that part of my room!

Here's where I'm at:
 
View from my desk so far!
 
 
My desk
 
 
My favorite bulletin board - I'll share this with you in a post!



 
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What was the CRAZIEST thing you did this summer?

That's me!
Well, let me tell you about one of mine!  It has always been a dream of mine to go zip-lining and  I found that my sister and her hubby also wanted to try it.  There is a place about 30 minutes from me in Ocala FL, Zip the Canyons Zip Line and Canopy Tours, http://www.zipthecanyons.com/index.html .  The Canyons is a 95 acre former limestone quarry with some impressive cliffs.  The "Full Tour" takes you through 9 zip lines, 2 rope bridges and you finish with a 30 foot rappel.  The whole tour takes about 2.5 hours.  There were six of us in our group and two guides.  Guides put the equipment on you and take you to the training line where you learn how to hold the cable and "brake" with your hands.   For every zip, one guide goes first  to "catch" you and the second guide hooks you up and tells you when to go!  For the first few lines, I'm not going to lie, I was VERY scared.  Our guides, Jenn and Matt, were hilarious - they kept us laughing for the entire tour and more importantly they kept us very safe and secure!  After the first 2 lines, we were loving it!  I started to relax a bit more and was able to really look around and take it all in, and BREATHE.  The views are spectacular!  The lines get progressively longer and higher and more exhilarating as you go through the course.  It is an amazing adrenaline rush!  The highest and longest is called "The Point of No Return" aka "The Pooper".  You climb up this incredibly tall tower to the platform to learn that the only way down is to zip across a 1000 foot line over the water.  Jumping off that platform is a literal leap of faith!  We're definitely going to do this again!  What a thrilling adventure!
The Point of No Return

Me with my brother-in-law Richard and my sister Jill!



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Mickelson Exxon Mobil Teacher Academy!

So, this happened last night.....


Yes!  It was a webinar orientation for the Mickelson Exxon Mobil Teacher Academy in Jersey City, NJ the week of July 26th!  I'm sooooo excited!  Out of over 1500 applicants, 150 were chosen - I feel like I won the lottery.  It will be 5 days of science and math professional development plus the opportunity to explore NYC and meet up with my college roommates!  It's going to be fab and fun!
As a former scientist, I love all things science!  The Academy is 5 days of professional development in science and math or, as they call it, "summer camp for teachers".  I've heard that they roll out the red carpet and treat all of the teachers like ROCK STARS!  The way we should be treated....just saying!  I can't wait to tell you all about my experience at MEMTA.  You should apply!!  Here's the link:  http://www.sendmyteacher.com/


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Summer!

Summer is in full swing!  I'm finally sleeping in, reading a ton of books, and hanging out with my kids.  We just finished an epic, very silly, game of Uno.  I love when my growinguptoofast teenagers still play with me every now and then.

I love having the time to catch up on my reading.  I read all year long but in the summer, I read like a fanatic.  I've read a lot of good books so far this summer, but one that stands as of now is "I'll Give You the Sun" by Jandy Nelson.  It's a YA book (recommended for Grades 9 and up) and too mature for my elementary school kiddos but I LOVED this book.  I love the "voices" of twins Noah and Jude.  It's a coming of age story and, coincidentally,  the day I finished the book (in tears) was the same day the Supreme Court ruled on same-sex marriages.  Check it out! #lovewins

I'll Give You the Sun on Amazon
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