Monday, December 31, 2012

Give Me Five - A way to help Sandy Hook teachers

We've all been hit hard by the horrible events at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Many of us are still reeling, and we want to do something.  We want to reach out to those who are living, grieving, and beginning the painful healing that is so necessary.  But we don't know what they need.  Like many other teachers, I've wanted to reach out in some way.  But I haven't really known what to do that would be truly helpful.  And     now, Donna at Peace, Love and Learning has come up with a meaningful way that teachers can help.  See her blogpost here.  If you are a teacher who sells products on TeachersPayTeachers, you can offer this.
Sandy Hook teachers can be adopted by TpT teachers who have materials they might be able to use.  The teachers can choose any five items from their store and they will be sent via email for immediate download.  If you're not on TpT but would like to help, read Donna's blog about how you can become an "Angel" by purchasing gift certificates for those teachers to use.

It's a small way to help.  But as someone who's lived through tragedy, I know that sometimes it's the small "reachings-out" (yes, I just created a new word) that make a huge difference.

Won't you consider helping?


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Linking up with great teacher blogs

So Katie, at   (you can follow her link here) had this great idea that we should write about 2 bloggers:  one who has more followers than us and one who has fewer.  I can't write about someone with fewer bloggers, because, as you can see, my numbers are pretty slim right now.  So, yes, please follow me!  It would make me very, very happy.

But I do want to give a shout-out to Kim at  who has guided me through a couple of freaked-out "how do I do this" kinds of questions.  You can follow her here.  Teacher bloggers I've contacted have been very generous with their time, and I really appreciate it.  When I think about how much I've learned in a short amount of time, I am very grateful for their help!

And I'll be even more grateful if a couple of you follow me and then I can write about someone who has just started blogging and has fewer followers!  C'mon!  I'd love to hear from you!

Have a great start to the new year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Some pictures!

I wish I could post pictures of all the students playing these games - it was pretty amazing!  They were totally engaged, cheering each other on, whooping it up when they won, running up to tell me about what they'd learned....It was a great way to spend the last part of the day together before Christmas break.

I hope you have a merry Christmas!  And I also hope you have some time to rejuvenate so that you come back to your students refreshed and ready for 2013!
This one came with a complex set of directions, but the kids got it and enjoyed playing it!

What a clever way to incorporate music into a mystery about a former rock star -turned-quiet-music-teacher!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mysteries...who knew? And board games?

    I don't often challenge my students to all read from the same genre, but we were reading some "unsolved" mysteries (Amelia Earhart, one kind of dinosaur, Pompeii, etc.) and I thought they might enjoy reading a mystery of their own.  The response was pretty lukewarm at first.  I got a couple of, "I tried reading a mystery once but I didn't like it."  I knew I had to be a little more persuasive if this genre was going to be explored the way I thought it could be.

   With the help of one of our librarians, we talked to students about what made a story a mystery, and then she showed them about 100 different books she'd selected for them to look through.  Surprisingly, they went pretty wild over the books.  Over the next few weeks, I heard things like "Wow, I never thought I'd like this book but last night, I read ___pages!"

    It was pretty sweet.  So then tweaking a product that I purchased from Rachel Lynnette on
Creative Book Reports w/ Student Instructions & Grading Rubrics

TeacherspayTeachers, I gave students the choice to create one of nine different projects.  Most of my kiddos loved the choices, and the sheets I used with filled with good suggestions for success.  Now, with only two exceptions, I used projects that students had created in the past.  Rachel's directions were just so much better than mine because they included so many more details, and she'd created a good rubric.  I copied the directions on one page and two copies of the rubric on the back.  The top one was for the students to check off and make sure they'd done everything expected of them, the bottom one was mine.

    Today, I finished grading my 66th project (yeah, maybe I need to reconsider my timing) and 21 of them were game boards.  A lot of them were truly wonderful, but 1/3 of my students picked the same project out of nine choices?  Last year, I think only four or five students did.  I wonder why game boards were the big ticket item this year....I'll post pictures of some of them so you can see them.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My heart is breaking

I wish I could make sense out of something so senseless.  Little just breaks my heart.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday spirit and joining together

So, in the spirit of the holidays, I would like to give away one of my products from my TpT store.  I'm just starting my store and I'd love for you to have something; give me feedback if you'd like.  If you're visiting my blog for the first time, please comment and let me know which product you'd like.

Make sure you put your email in the comment box and tell me which product you'd like to have.  I'll be happy to email it to you. Better yet,  follow me, or even better than that, let's link up.  The more teachers we connect with, the better we become.  I want to surround myself with some like-minded wise souls!

This offer is good through Sunday!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Soooo much to learn!

   Okay, so I may be giving away my age here, but when I went to college (not to become a teacher - that came many years later) I carried a typewriter.

   And today, I think I figured out how to create a grab button and get people to follow me.  Now the grab button works, although I can't seem to get it to show my logo.  Anyone have any suggestions about what to do?
    And the followers was just a matter of reading all the way down through the gadgets that are available to me on this site, many of which do all kinds of amazing things that I may or may not ever use.

    So what have I learned?  Well, my brain hurts.  And it makes me a little humbler about how hard some of what I teach might be to my kids.  This techy stuff is second nature to some of you.  I love it, but it doesn't come easily to me.  Which I guess could be said about anything we teach.  Thank heavens for enthusiasm!

   Okay, if anyone has any ideas on how to make my logo picture show up, please let me know!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Generous Teachers

Kim, over at Joyin6th, is offering a free give-away for teachers.  You know who you are - the folks who could always spend money at stores for something in your classroom - but commonsense dictates that you have to have some restraint.  So take advantage of her generosity, and take a look at some of the good things she talks about in her blog while you're there!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

So much to learn.....

So apparently I didn't link the my last post to the website.  I'm still trying to figure out how to create a grab button without my brain hurting too much!

Anyway, here's the link for Tips for Teachers

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

So, Tips for Top Teachers is giving away a free nook.  Take a look at all the amazing things they've got to share.  Win a free nook  but better than that, make friends and share ideas with other teachers.  Good stuff is going on in education!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Joy in my Heart!

Something that brings a little joy to my heart has been happening in my classroom.  My students and I were talking about the Viking exploration of the new world, and it became apparent to me that they had little understanding of what these trips meant, in terms of distance and effort.  First we looked at a large pull-down map so that they could have some sense of travel from Scandinavian countries to Iceland to Greenland and then to Canada.  Still, they had more questions.  Up came Google Earth.  In answer to one student's question, I went west around the United States, across the Pacific Ocean to Asia.  When I turned back around, the look on some students' faces was priceless.  "The Pacific is HUGE!" they exclaimed.  "No wonder Amelia Earhart couldn't find Howland Island.  Where is it?"  That led to a close-up of the tiny island she had been looking for (we'd just finished reading about her in our Reading anthology.)

  "Do you want to learn more about countries and where they're located?" I asked.  The answer was pretty clear.  So, yesterday, we spent some time in the computer lab with a large, blank world maps and Google Earth.  The goal was to enter as many European countries onto their map as they could, since that's where our Social Studies lessons are heading.

   Some students had trouble translating what was in front of them on their computer screen to what was on paper, but once they got started, they did a great job.  Later, they looked for their homes, and were so excited to see the street levels for familiar places.  In the end, I let them play around on the site, and before I knew it, some of them were touring the White House, some were in Europe, and a couple were in outer space.

   Leaving the computer lab that day was a sad moment for many of them.  But I reassured them that we'd spend lots more time exploring the world in the days ahead.  Nothing warms my heart more than seeing kids get excited to learn more about the world around them!

   And so I've updated an old gem that I used several years ago, but haven't used since.  I developed it as a way to review measures of central tendency with students, but this time, I think I'll use it to do that and to extend their understanding about the world around them.  Maybe it will even lead to further reading and writing about another country.