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Stress Less with Stress Away: My Essential Oils Journey

So I recently shared with you a little about the beginning of my essential oils journey.  Today I wanted to share a little bit about the essential oil that I use called Stress Away.  At this time of year when we are all up to our necks in state assessments we all tend to get a little short and sassy with the way we treat each other and our families.  We may over-eat,  over-caffeinate, or over-binge on something we don't normally do just because our stress levels are at their max.

Stress Away has been my Go-To oil for anxious situations.  A little dab "neat" (that means a drop or two on each wrist) at the beginning of the day and a lunch time, when I'm REALLY anxious about something completely does the trick.  It helps take that panicky feeling away.  You know the one you get when the copier is jammed, the pencil sharpener is broken, there is no air or wifi, and it is a week before testing?  yea THAT feeling... it GOES AWAY!

When I'm not feeling super anxious and don't need the full scale of stress away, I use an essential oil blend I call Calm.  It is made from stress away and lemon which add the perfect lift to my day.

I put it in a glass roller bottle that I ordered from Amazon and add a carrier oil, like Coconut Oil.  I roll it on my feet in the morning before I put on my shoes and socks.  Your feet actually have the largest pores, so it is a perfect place.  I also add some to my wrists and rub them together.

I have had a few people ask me if they can use other essential oils and not Young Living, and of course you certainly can.  I just like Young Living because of it's seed to seal guarantee.  They use certified organic farms and watch over the entire process from start to finish.  That makes me feel safe when I am thinking about what I'm putting in my body.  I don't have to worry about what other things are processed within the oils, and since I'm trying my best to live clean and be healthy, I don't want to add any extra stuff in.

Do you use essential oils to help with stress?  Are you interested in learning more about the oils? You can go here: bit.ly/CCLPYoungLiving to find out more about Young Living and their oils.

Notice and Note: Memory Moments

This week my class tackled the Notice and Note Signpost for Memory Moments.  When a reader is tracking her comprehension and she comes across a situation where a character's thoughts are interrupted by a memory or flashback that comes to the character, they are having a Memory Moment.

Memory Moments help readers understand  the plot, theme, and relationship between the character and the plot. They give us insight into the character's motivation behind some of their thoughts, words and actions.  When we encounter a Memory Moment in our books, I teach my students to stop and ask WHY might this memory be important?  The answer will tell us about a conflict, or development  that may be upcoming in the plot of the story.  The conflict may involve just the character, or may be alluding to something that will be forthcoming in the story.

I love when author's are really good at their craft... I mean, isn't that WHY we want to read their books?  Gary Paulsen starts Hatchet right out the gate with a Memory Moment within the first 3 pages of text.  Brian is sitting in the plane and he says "The thinking started."

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My fourth graders are currently reading Lunch Money by Andrew Clements.  In chapters 5 and 6, Greg Kenton, the main character, shares two memory moments when he flashes back to the first time he meets his arch nemesis Maura.  As readers, we learn about why there is a conflict between these two characters.  I use these chapters in the book to talk to my students about internal and external conflict, and what that teaches use about a character as he/she is developing.  In this particular book, Clements shows Greg remembering something that troubles him, his competition with Maura.  This helps us to see the back story behind why Greg dislikes Maura so much.  It also helps us to make inferences about the plot of the story.  This really helps give my students a deeper purpose for reading.  They look at the novel more closely, because they are reading to prove if their inference has foundation.

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When I first introduce the Memory Momentnt Signpost, I show my students an anchor chart, and we use our tabbed Notice and Note booklets.  We write examples of key words or clues we may encounter that will help us  recognize the signpost.  I also show them this video.  It gives them another overview of the signpost.

Then we use this video to practice the signpost with visual media.  It is easy for them to recognize.

I also like this video from Rataouille

If you have older students they will recognize this quick 20 second scene between Katniss and Peeta from the Hunger Games which gives great insight into the connection between the characters.

Before having my students find and discuss the Memory Moments in Lunch Money, I also remind them of previous picture books we have read that contain Memory Moments.  These include:
Saturdays and Teacakes
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Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
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A Chair for My Mother
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Another book that I just recently found and am adding to my collection is The Day the Crayons Quit. 
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I know this isn't a new book, I had just not thought about using it with Memory Moments until I pulled it out for our Mentor Sentences.  I LOVE when I have an AHA moment too! 

If you are interested in checking out how I help my students stay organized as you teach the signposts, you can go {HERE} and see my tabbed notebook for the signposts.  It has the sign post anchor charts inside, or you have the option of having students write themselves.
Do you have other books that you use to teach the Notice and Note Signpost for Memory Moment? I would love to hear about any new books that you have found that help students!

Teaching with Balance: My Essential Oils Journey

As teachers we all know how totally stressed our jobs can be.  We have demands from students, parents,  coworkers, and admin on a daily basis. I know many of us do our best to try and eat healthy, exercise and drink  as much water as possible during the day. I try to eat as much organic produce as possible, avoid carbs and sugars, but let's be honest, when its report card week and we have papers and conferences up to our eye balls, that doesn't always happen.  I'm always looking for other alternatives to continue my healthy lifestyle and remain calm, cool and collected.

At Christmas time, my sister bought me a diffuser for my home and as a homemade Christmas gift made me three bottles of essential oils blends.  One was called Healthy.  It contained Thieves essential oil which helps you to keep colds and flu at bay.  Another was called Calm which helps to take the stress away when the going gets tough.  The third was called Fun which just, well, smells happy.  It made me start to think about our needs as teachers to maintain balance, and I began to research a company called Young Living.  They appealed to me because they monitor everything they do from the time the SEED is planted on the farm to the SEAL of the jar.  Everything is monitored and tested for purity.  At first I was like meh.. seriously, it's OILS, but then I went to Marshall's and I started SMELLING some of the oils sold there.  I'm not saying there is anything wrong with them, but I could smell the difference in the oils from Young Living, they were cleaner, and stronger, and well, that appealed to me, so that's what I went with.

Since then I've been looking up different ways I can use the oils to promote a healthier environment for myself and my family.  I bought a starter kit which gave me a second diffuser for my home as well as 11 essential oils that I could combine in various ways to help relieve stress, help me sleep better, build up my immune system, help with sore muscles, aches and pains, and use to keep my home fresh and clean.  Using the kit  I've also found a much better balance using essential oils in my daily routine.  I've created blends and used oils to help me with stress relief, dark circles under my eyes, grow my fine hair, and to cook with!  My daughter has used products at softball that have helped her sore muscles after games, and we have gone the entire cold/flu season with literally a ONE DAY stint with not feeling well.
I wanted to take some time and just share that I was beginning this journey, and I was wondering if there were other teachers out there who use essential oils?  My goal is to share what I have figured out in a blog post once or twice a month, and maybe this will help you as a teacher find more balance in your life.  If you have found something amazing to use, please share with me in the comments below, and we can together find out more information about using essential oils.
If you want to find out more about Young Living you can go to: bit.ly/CCLPYoungLiving

Namaste my sweet friends!

Three Things I Loved About My Week: Mardi Gras Fractions, Friends, Facing a Fear

Hello friends!  I wanted to share the Three Things I LOVED about my week last week!  

#1: Celebrating Mardi Gras in the Classroom
This Friday we celebrated with a little Mardi Gras Fun in our classroom.  Fat Tuesday is coming soon, but we have our big state writing assessment on Monday, and I wanted to spend the last 45 minutes of the day relaxed, happy, and ready for the weekend.  Because I still have to teach curriculum and I teach math in the afternoon, I pulled out my Mardi Gras Float Fraction activity.  Students were told there are 12 krewe members on their Mardi Gras Float.  They worked in pairs to answer 10 questions relating to equivalent fractions and easy percents.  These questions told them what each member of the krewe had to wear on the float.  For example, one item said that there were twice as many girls as boys in the krewe.  Students had to figure out that meant there would be 8 girls and 4 boys on the float.  Another was that 75% of the boys had to have dark hair.  Students had to figure out that meant 3 out of the 4 boys.  When they were finished with the 10 math questions and had them checked, they were allowed to draw their floats. They LOVED this activity,  and I loved sneaking in a little extra math practice. The floats while having the same information were all completely different.  So many ways for them to be creative and practice mathematics skills at the same time! Math and art, you can never go wrong.  I love these pictures! 

#2: Time with Friends:  Filling my Cup
I had a few friends from New York visiting me this week.  We got a chance to go out to one of our favorite hangouts, Buffalo Wild Wings, and watch the Syracuse vs Duke game on Wednesday night.  The game was killer!  I mean a win at the buzzer against DUKE is the BEST ever!  But even more important, I had a chance to catch up with friends that I don't often have a chance to see, and well frankly, they "fill my cup." 

Do you have friends who do that for you?  Even though we are far apart I have a few friends that are just... well... there for me.  When I see them they fill up my cup!  I talked to my class about that on Friday.  They know I love Syracuse basketball, and they asked me about the game.  As exciting as it was, I found myself talking more to them about the friends I have who really help me out, and are just fun to be around.  It was honestly a great way to reinforce that Kind is the New Cool mentality, and I saw a lot of my students checking in with each other on the playground and including everyone in their games.  That also was a cup filler!!

#3:  Facing My Fears
My daughter also had an opportunity to "fill her cup" this week by having other friends from NY visiting.  We met our friends at Disney Springs for dinner and to hang out a little.  As a group we decided to go up in the hot air balloon.  Ok, so... yea.... I'm afraid of heights... but I couldn't be the ONLY person who didn't go up in that balloon, so I mustered up a little confidence... yea.. I used my Confidence Essential Oil roller... LOL... and I did it!  8 minutes in a hot air balloon.  I smiled the whole time but inwardly.. I .. WAS... FREAKING OUT!

So that being said, this week after out writing test I am going to read a book to my class called Courage.  We are going to spend some time writing an essay about what it takes to make a person courageous, and how they are courageous about something in their lives.

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Share with me something from your life that you LOVED this week, or a way you had your cup filled, or were fearless.  Any Mardi Gras parades or activities in you week?  I'd love to hear about them!

Have an amazing week friends!

Three Things I Loved About My Week!

Welcome to the weekend friends!  I wanted to take a moment and share Three Things I Loved About My Week.

I hope some of these make you smile or laugh, or give you a new idea for your own life or classroom. Spread the positive my friends... spread the positive.

#1:  Retired Teachers Make the Best Secret Pals
The retired teachers at my school are amazing!  Every month they bring in snacks and goodies for us, and we get a few days of heaven in the teachers room.  They are part of the reason why I never seem to be losing any weight.... ( the other reason may be that I have to get off my couch.. but that isn't something I loved, so we won't talk about it)
How delicious are these cakes looking!  Do you see how they made MANY MANY cakes!  NOT one cake or two cakes that are gone by the time the second lunch round is over, but CAKES for DAYS.....
Do you have anyone who is wonderful to you like this?

#2: World Read Aloud Day!
February 16th was World Read Aloud day.  To celebrate my class found their favorite picture books from my classroom library and a partner that they do not normally read with.  Together they shared their book for about 15 minutes.  Although this wasn't a huge amount of time it was nice see them sit together and read to each other. It brought a sense of calm to the sometimes chaotic classroom that we have, and it made me smile.

#3: Peer Editing and Collaboration
We have been working really hard on our writing skills since we came back from our Christmas break.  We are getting ready to take our state writing assessment in just a few short weeks, and I need my students to have a solid sense of both opinion and informative writing, and how our state will be assessing their skills.  We read a paired text on roller coaster design.  The informative prompt that I gave my students asked them to explain how roller coaster designers are innovative.  I have seen so many improvements in their writing, adding leads, and key details.  Their conclusions are getting stronger too.  One thing that has FINALLY clicked in for them is the importance of peer editing and discussion.  This week I had them practice being both the teaching coach AND the learner.  I pressed them to give specific examples, and we worked on speaking kindly to each other but still giving constructive criticism.  When each group finished students were able to grab a post it note and create a writing goal for next week.  Baby steps lead to giant leaps my friends!

I hope everyone else could find three things that they LOVED about their week!  Feel free to comment below and let me know what you loved!! I would love to hear about it!

5 Interesting Facts, Books and Fun about Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year my friends! Do you celebrate Chinese New Year in the classroom?
Chinese New Year is coming up January 28th.  2017 is the Year of the Rooster. I always like to teach my students something about Chinese New Year because it is a bright, fun holiday in the middle of winter.  Usually it is cold and dismal this time of year, and the thought of hanging a little color up in my classroom always makes me smile at the end of January.

Today I put together 5 interesting facts about Chinese New Year that also contain activities or books that you can use in your classroom to help your students learn about this fun holiday.

FACT #1:  There are 12 Animals in the Chinese Zodiac

In the Chinese Zodiac there are 12 animals represented.  The belief is that Buddha asked the animals of the world to come and help him celebrate spring.  Twelve animals showed up to the party and these animals became the Chinese Zodiac.  Each animal has special qualities, and you can relate your birth year to these special traits.  For example, 2017 is the Year of the Rooster.  The rooster is said to be confident and hardworking.  As a fourth grade teacher most of my students were born in 2007.  This was the year of the Pig or Boar.  People born under the sign of the boar are responsible and kind.  One activity that you could create with your students is a drawing of the animal and have them list the character traits that they are most like within that year.  Here is an example:

This would be a great lesson on synonyms and antonyms for words that correlate with the animal. For example if we were to do the rooster, I would have student look up shades of meaning words for confident and hardworking.  If they wanted to do the year of their birth, for example the boar, I would have them do shades of meaning with responsible and kind.

I follow this activity up with some word work in centers about finding synonyms in context with facts about the Chinese New Year using these cards:

Fact #2: The Chinese New Year Celebrates Spring Cleaning
Out with the old, and in with the new!  That's the motto for Chinese New Year.  What a perfect thing to start daydreaming about during the frosty month of January!  You could relate the idea of GROWTH MINDSET  to the broom.  Have students make two layers of the broom on the bottom. The first layer would contain ways that they used to think about problem solving:  I can't do this, It is too hard, etc.  Then have students place a layer on TOP with new growth mind set.  I CAN get this far.. etc.
It may look something like this:

Fact #3: Red is the Color of Good Fortune for the New Year
One Chinese tradition is receiving a red envelope with money during Chinese New Year.

As a morning work writing activity, I have my students complete a quick write about what they would do with money they received in their red envelopes.

I also try to sneak in a few stories about Chinese New Year during the week when we sit down for our Grammar and Writing time.  Some of my favorites include:

Usually I buy red envelopes on clearance after Christmas, and then we place our quick writes in the envelopes as a bulletin board, but I forgot to buy the envelopes this year, <wah wah wah> so I will have to improvise a little.

Fact #4:  Chinese New Year Allows You to Honor Your Relatives.

It is customary during Chinese New Year to make lanterns to honor relatives who have passed away. The celebration of Chinese New Year usually ends with a Lantern Festival where red lanterns are hung on families homes and gates.  Sometimes the lanterns contain a riddle which makes the festival more lively.  This year as something new, I am going to give my students a center choice about making lanterns.  Our riddles will be math puzzles to help improve our mental math.  Usually I try to complete a brain break math riddle with my students every day.  It helps them to keep them thinking and using their computation skills.  The math riddles are 5-6 step directions that I differentiate and get progressively harder with the skills.  The number riddles never go above 100, so students that need a little extra visual to solve the problems can pull out their hundreds boards and multiplication charts to help them.

I use cards similar to these as my brain breaks:

Then for this lantern craft I will have students write their own riddles that we can include on the lanterns.

Fact #5: Chinese New Year is about Celebration with your Family

Families spend a lot of time eating and celebrating during the Chinese New Year.  What a great way to celebrate the great job your students are doing by having fortune cookies!  We have many Chinese restaurants in our area, and I will be asking them to donate fortune cookies to my students to celebrate.  Even if I have to go to two or three places, it would be a fun treat during our Morning writing work.  A great quick write activity would be to explain how your fortune could be a theme for your life, giving key details that support the central message.  Just something fun to get them thinking and writing. You could also have orange slices or tangerines as your snack during the week.  Many families that celebrate Chinese New Year eat oranges which symbolize luck and wealth.  This is a perfect healthy snack for us living in Florida because oranges are in season.  Some of my students even have orange trees in their yards, so this is a great way to get them to eat better and share a few facts with their families!

Along with the activities above, I also use Tikki Tikki Tembo
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as a mentor text for the week.  I have the Mentor Sentences pack from Ideas by Jivey, so this is an easy no prep lesson for me.  The focus skill is compound sentences, so it is a perfect review and incorporation into our writing work.  We also work on some other word work activities like identifying pronouns, homophones and sentence combining.  These are part of the pack I created for Celebrating Chinese New Year in the Upper Grades.

I would love to hear how you plan to celebrate Chinese New Year, and I hope that you will be able to try some of the activities and books that I've mentioned above.

May the Force Be With You!

Martin Luther King Jr. Opinion Writing with Martin's Big Words

Last week I focused on Martin Luther King Jr. during my writing and word work time. I wanted to share a few activities that we completed in case you were looking for something that was short and sweet, but still helped you cover some of your CCSS standards.

For our word work time I am focusing on prepositions, which was difficult for my smarties to identify in a sentence before break.  I'll be using Martin's Big Words as my mentor text, and since I don't reinvent the wheel, my mentor sentence work came from Ideas by Jivey and her mentor sentence lesson for the week.  It is part of this [Unit].  If you haven't used mentor sentences before, Jessica is a great go to person.  She has several different webcasts you can listen to, and she has written many good blog posts about how to get started.

Beyond the basics of word work with the text, we are also working on opinion writing, so my review/focus is based on opinions.  I took the "Big Words" from the text... Freedom, Peace, Together, Love, and Dream, and we worked on deciding which word was the most powerful.  Together we crafted an opinion paragraph using OREEEO as our organizer.  No, that isn't a typo... I don't use just OREO.. my students are required to give me more.. so we go for TRIPLE STUFFED!
O-opinion, R-reason, E- evidence, E-evidence, E- elaboration (give me the how and/or why connection, O-opinion/transition.  We even had triple stuffed Oreos as a quick reminder snack when we started this discussion.

In their paragraphs, students had to choose which of Martin's words they felt was the most powerful, provide a reason,  back it up with evidence from the text, and then elaborate or extend the connection. I borrowed a few copies of this book from other classrooms in my building, and I also used a reading on YouTube, (You can go [HERE] for it online), so my students had extra access to the book.
We wrote our final copies on a half sheet I created, and then we completed a directed drawing for our bulletin board.  I don't do too many directed drawings with my fourth graders, but I thought this might be a good opportunity to practice some listening skills work since we have been out for 2 weeks.  The directed drawing directions I found for free [HERE].  I love the way they turned out.

Need to order Martin's Big Words?  Click the picture below. (Amazon Affiliate)

Do you have plans for Martin's Big Words that I can add to my list for next year?  I would love to hear about them!

May the Force Be With You,

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