Wednesday, December 31, 2014


It's so much fun to link up with Farley from Oh Boy 4th Grade for her Currently linky.

Listening:  I am currently listening to my boys running all around the house.  Since I am divorced, they spend every other Christmas with Dad. This was his year :(.  I missed my little guy like crazy but I'd be lyin' if I didn't say it was nice to have the quiet and some time to get some things done around the house.  Now he's back, as are my two stepsons and they are having a blast running around playing. Ahh....the sounds of laughter and little boy voices. Might as well enjoy it now because it will inevitably lead to shrieking and arguing in 5, 4, 3...  (don't worry...I'll spare you.)  :)

Loving:  I'm loving the book It Starts with Food (o.k. well technically it's the audiobook) but I'm going to give it a whirl because everything they say makes perfect sense. I know it will be hard but I'm committed. Since I have now put it in writing I'm even more committed now, right? 

Thinking: What in the world am I going to make for  dinner?  Why do I do this to myself every night? Get it together, Julie!

Wanting: Another week off from vacation.  What? Don't judge.  Deep down inside you must want another week off too, right? 

Needing:  A more consistent exercise regime. If I take a day off, it turns into a week and then. Never mind. I'll stop there.

Yes, maybe I wish: I could be a stay at home fur mommy. The love of this dog brings so much happiness to my life. He is my sidekick and follows me everywhere.  We are going to have a rude awakening come Monday AM....

What are your goals for the New Year? What are loving, wanting and needing?  I always love hearing from you.

Happy New Year, friends!!

Sunday, December 28, 2014


We have all heard about the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.  However, many of us (myself included) are unaware of how much that unrest, that volatility has impacted the community.  In particular, the people of the community and especially the children.  As educators I think we are by nature, a very kind and compassionate group of people for the most part.  So I was not surprised when a fellow TPT seller Rainah Pray of Fit for Firstie's started a fundraiser for the children of Ferguson, Missouri. This can best be explained in Rainah's own words, as a member of the community who has seen first hand the turmoil and unrest long after the media crews have left.

"The Ferguson Public Library has gone to great lengths to ensure that the kids and community were safe.  They provided a safe place where kids could learn while their schools were forced to close due to the extreme circumstances around them.  The library provided a place for teachers to facilitate learning so kids would have a sense of normalcy.  The library is now in the process of hiring a full time children's librarian to help facilitate their children's programs.  The library is also working to provide continuing support and education to community members.  It stands as a pillar of strength and community and is working to unite others in this time of need." (Rainah Pray)

Rainah has worked tirelessly to organize an incredible fundraiser with Teachers Pay Teachers and educators and sellers to create some truly fantastic resource bundles at incredibly amazing prices.  All proceeds earned from the Funds for Ferguson Fundraiser will be donated directly to the library.

You can learn more about The Ferguson Public Library here and

or here

and here as well

So, if you've been kind enough to still stay with me through this epic post then let me show you what Rainah has put together. Let me tell you folks, these are incredible deals.  I bought a bundle myself.

Here is bundle #1 on sale here at the Funds for Ferguson store on TPT for $17.50.  Sellers include: Tongas Teacher, Melonheadz, Educlips, Creating and Teaching, Confessions of a Tiny Teacher, The Creative Art Teacher, A New Box of Crayons, Fit for Firsties, Lessons with Coffee, and Livin' the Third Grade Dream

This is Bundle #2 also on sale here at the Funds for Ferguson store on TPT. Sellers include:  Kelly Malloy, Dawn Day, Second Story Window, Kim Miller, Jennifer Smith, Miss Johnston, Comprehension Connection, Fit for Firsties, Lessons with Coffee, Nita Marie's Classroom Creations, and Step on Me Moreno.

Bundle #3 is on sale here at the Funds for Ferguson TPT store.  Sellers include:  Growing Firsties, Sparkling in Second, The Printable Princess, Fit for Firsties, Kamp Kindergarten, Enchanted K, Elementary Matters, Stuck on Teaching, Schroeder Shenanigans, First Grade Funtastic, The Primary Source with Ms. Smith and A First for Everything.

Last but certainly not least, is bundle #4 on sale here at Funds for Ferguson TPT store.  Sellers include:  Just Reed, Fun in First, Bonnie Kathryn Kinders and Beyond, Sticky Notes and Glitter, Chalk One up for the Teacher, Tickled Pink in Primary, Fit for Firsties, Sparkling in Second, My Happy Place, Kamp Kindergarten, More than Math, Melissa Dailey, First Grade is a Fairy Tale, I hear ESOL, and Elementary Matters.

I just love when I get something I need for my classroom that also helps out a great cause and best of all, other children.
Wishing you a very happy and healthy New Year!


Sunday, December 7, 2014

My Favorite Things Blog Hop

 I am just giddy about being a part of Where the Magic Happens "My Favorite Things" blog hop.  I may or may not be humming the little tune by Julie Andrews "These are a few of my favorite things" as I type this.  There are so many talented bloggers sharing their favorite things and you could win some of these items just in time for the holidays!  Couldn't you use a little gift for yourself?  I know I could! So without further ado...

I just love Papermate Flair Pens!  I use them for everything!  I write use them to fill out my lesson plan book, correct papers, write notes, record running records- you name it.  I don't have the neatest handwriting and there is something about these pens that make even the messiest handwriting look neater.  Perhaps its the flair tip or maybe the beautiful colors- either way they make me happy.  I will be giving away a pack of Papermate Flair Pens to a winner!  Will it be you?
 As a mom of three boys it's often the smallest things that are the biggest luxuries.  Such as this shampoo and conditioner by OGX. I love how it smells like salon products and I love how it makes my hair feel and look. 

I absolutely adore Target! Just today I bought mason jars, hot cocoa mix, peppermint cotton candy, wrapping paper and ribbon to make these adorable gifts for my son's teachers.  I also bought A LOT more but I have to keep that a secret because 1.) my husband could read this 2.) I spent too much money.  You know the struggle, right? How can you buy just one thing at Target?  It's impossible. 
This idea came from Pinterest  and you can find it HERE.

My favorite holiday is Christmas so what a perfect time to put my Close Reading: Holidays and Holidays Around the World products on sale for 50% off during this blog hop.  Catch it quick- it lasts only a week!

I have many other products on sale too!  Stop by my store to see!

Don't forget to hop along and visit the other fabulous favorites of very talented bloggers.  Just click below!

What are some of your favorite things?

Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season!

Because we value our followers and wanted to treat you to our favorite things Oprah style, we have put together the best giveaway of the season! My bloggy friends and I welcome you to the best, biggest, most cheerful event of the season:

7 winners for 7 prize packs!

Come and enter the giveaway and check out my bloggy friends' favorite things:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
An InLinkz Link-up

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pinterest Picks

I'm very excited to be participating in this super fun Pinterest Pick 3 linky with my dear friends Lisa from Pawsitively Teaching and Marissa from The Inspired Owl's Corner!

Here are my top 3 Pinterest Pins for December:

I love these patterns for making gingerbread houses from lunch paper bags by  We do a "gingerbread activity day" each year and this would be fun!  My students LOVE to color!  You do need to register with to get these patterns.  I did it and it's very easy and free!
How adorable is this guy? can teach your students how to make one too with the easy peesy step by step drawing directions from Artventurous.  Love it!

Do you have paint chips laying around?  These are darling!  They are worth the trip to the hardware store, aren't they.  Thanks Bargain Hoot for the great idea!  What teacher doesn't love a bargain?!
What did we ever do before Pinterest?  Do you have some favorite Pinterest picks for this month?  We'd love if you would link up with us!
Happy Holidays!

An InLinkz Link-up

Monday, December 1, 2014


I am linking up with Oh Boy Fourth Grade for her monthly "Currently" linky.  So fun!

Listening- My son is 8.  He'll be 9 in 2 weeks and he LOVES Christmas.  He truly believes in the magic of the season and he's enthusiasm is infectious.  It warms my heart.  He is watching "Santa Claus:  Escape" beside me, giggling at all the funny parts.  My cup runneth over.
Loving- I started teaching how holidays are celebrated around the word with my Holidays Around the World packet today.  It's my favorite!  I had SO much fun!  My firstie's really liked it too.  It felt like such a breath of fresh air to put the "f word" back in teaching.  Do you
First, we decorated our "suitcases" and filled out our Passport with our information (name, hair color, eye color, and a photo I took of them).
Students put their passports into their suitcase and then received a "boarding pass." 

Then, I had the line up outside the classroom in the hallway.  This was the boarding area.  I hurried back in to set up their chairs into 2 "aisles" like an airplane. They handed me their boarding pass and walked through our classroom door as I greeted them "Good afternoon! Thank you for flying Pettersen Pan Am Airlines.  We hope you enjoy your flight."  They giggled outloud and thought this was the funniest thing ever.  OF course, after they were seated I showed had them "buckle their seatbelts" and we reviewed the procedures for Pettersen Pan Am Airlines. 

I then showed the video link that is included in the product of an airplane tour over England (we "flew" to England today).  They were in awe.  I could hear a pin drop.

After learning about England and how the English celebrate the holidays, we read and discussed the Christmas close read (also included).

 Tomorrow we will re-read this close read and complete our passport by writing something we learned about England.  I will then stamp each passport.  SO fun!

Thinking- I don't NEED another sugar cookie. I have such a sweet tooth.  It's horrible.

Wanting- About 4 hours added to my evenings to blog, pin, shop TpT, watch T.V. and a few other guilty pleasures. :)

Needing- To get to the gym more often.  Yea....about that sweet tooth.....

Giving- Trying realty hard to give my son more patience from me.  He has ADHD and learning disabilities. He's really struggling in school. A lot. I think he is exhausted when he gets home and since I'm Mom, I'm "safe" and all that frustration, worry, anxiety, and stress he feels during the day comes out at night. It's downright heartbreaking sometimes.  I'm trying really hard to be calmer and softer in my words and in my actions so hopefully...he will be.

How about you? Link up for and share what you are loving, wanting, thinking, needing, and giving this December! 

It's always so nice to hear from you! I love your comments!

Friday, November 28, 2014

20 Things People Should Say More Often

We show kid president at every all school assembly at my school.  I watch them over and over and I always get more meaning and more of a message.

Sometimes a post doesn't need many words.

9 year old Robby Novak truly should be president.  Imagine what our world could be like.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reflections on Math Workshop Model

My district began a push towards differentiated math instruction in the form of ability grouping about 3 years ago. It was our first period of the day for 20 minutes which was tough since I believe that a morning meeting is so important.  Last year, we divided our students up by low, average and high ability math learners and we moved them into classrooms based on ability. One teacher worked with the high achievers, one teacher with the average, and so on.  No matter how we did it adding on an extra math push was a lot of work.  It meant extra planning, extra time, and extra work.  Fundamentally it was a great idea but realistically it was really hard trying to find the time both for the implementation and the planning.  It was clear my district was not letting the idea go and it was also clear that the students were benefitting from it. So the question remained.... how was I going to make this work?  How could I reach the need of all my students?  How could I use best practices to reach each student at their ability level since their needs varied so greatly?

This year, I started implementing a math workshop model (you can find some examples of what we have been doing under the heading "math workshop" under the list of topics on the side ).  I will never teach math another way again!  The kiddos are invested, I am able to differentiate my math instruction in a richer way, and after given them their second math assessment I am blown away!  I am seeing so much more progress using a math workshop model than I ever have before using whole class instruction. 


I have also solved my Plus Groups problem (the name my district gives for those ability math groups). I have about a 45 minute to one hour block for math daily.  Some days, due to our specials schedule I only have 30-40 minutes a day. I do a 15 minute math lesson from our math curriculum and then break my students up into 5 math rotations (or centers).  The rotations include:  math with my teacher (cue in- Plus groups), math with someone (usually a game from our math curriculum), math by myself (math journals), math with iPads (I have 4), and a fluency station to work on timed addition and subtraction fact fluency. I am able to fit in 2, sometimes 3 rotations a day.  The next day, we review the previous day's mini lesson and the other groups rotate to the stations they have not been to yet.  The following day, when I start a new mini lesson from our math curriculum, there are new stations. 

I have learned how to keep my prep at a minimum. I learned this the hard way. I started off with high hopes and was creating different games every week.  Who has time for that?! The iPads never change-so that's easy. My math fluency station never changes either.  Each student has a math fluency folder that contains an addition/subtraction practice page and a one minute fluency wheel that I laminated so they can re-use them each week.  These are great!  I got them from Teaching Sweet Shoppe. The fluency program contains board games, minute wheels (which I use with sand timers), sand timers and more.  I love how I can easily assess progress with the timed fluency test each week. When a student has mastered a level, they move up to the next level.  Her product contains an excel sheet for recording scores easily too.  I'm telling you- it's fabulous! The programs come in a variety of grade levels. This is great for even those kiddos that may be slightly below or above grade level.


Ok...where was I? Oh right...that leaves- math by myself which is always our Everyday Math Journals.  If the kiddos finish early they can work on their Math mission notebooks which I purchased from Cara Carroll.

That leaves my last rotation which is math with someone.  This is usually a game from our Everyday Math program.  Sometimes if we are in need of a change, I purchase from TpT. Teach with Laughter has some awesome math games.  I love them not only because they are fun, motivational, and engaging but they also come with pictured directions so the kiddos don't need to interrupt me when I'm working with my math groups to ask how to play. Love that!

 The needs in my classroom vary greatly, as they do in most classrooms.  I have some kiddos that know time not only to the hour and half hour, but also by minute. I also have some that aren't able to recognize numbers beyond ten.  This is when "math with my teacher" works out so wonderfully.  I am now able to meet me students where each of them are at. 

For example, this week with my high flyers, we used coins to show various amounts to "purchase various items", with my low and average groups we reviewed touch money so that they learning the value of each coin.  I am also working on number identification and number discrimination with my kiddos that need help with that. My Number Sense 0-20 product has really helped!  We review the 0-20 flashcards each day that show each number and the its value on a ten frame and with base ten blocks. We then use ten frames and base ten blocks to show these numbers and number values.

                                              Playing "I Have, Who Has" with numbers 0-20
                                              on the ten frame from my Number Sense 0-20

As part of our math ability groups, we are required to provide practice with open response math problems. Students need to be able to explain how they go their answers. My school provided us all with composition notebooks and after fighting with cutting and gluing and pages sticking together, I decided to create some open response word problems on Avery labels that we could just stick in our math notebooks.  This saved time for both my students and me!  Not to mention, it just looks neater!

These labels are available in my store if you find them helpful.

I'm two months in to incorporating a math workshop model and I love it!  I don't ever want to go back.  I truly believe it is best practice.  Do you use a math workshop model in your classroom?  I'd love to hear about it because I always learn so much from you.  I'd love your comments!

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