My Truth Monday~ One Little Word

I'm a little late to this linky party, but I love the idea that Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade has set for the 2014..One Little Word
When I read Denise's blogpost, Faith is the first word that came to mind.  2013 was a tough year at school implementing the Common Core Standards and taking revised State Assessments.  Professionally, the year was brutal.  I feel like 2014 will be better having a year under my belt with the new CCSS.  My hubs is also on track to finish his doctoral program in Music Ed.  This has also been stressful as well.  I don't know what 2014 will bring to my family or where we will end up, so I think having a little Faith is the best I can do.  Otherwise I will turn into a crazy person, and 'Ain't nobody got time for DAT!
I love this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  

Stop by and visit Denise at Sunny Days and read about that One Little Word!


13 in 13 {Linky Party}

Can you believe that 2013 is almost over?  It is amazing to me that this year has gone by so quickly. There are so many things that have happened.  I'm taking a few minutes to link up to this fun Year in Review linky party before I start thinking about goals for next year.

13)  Favorite Article of Clothing:  I'd have to say my favorite item at the moment is a recent Christmas present: my Syracuse rugby shirt.  I can't wait to wear this to the upcoming Cuse basketball games.  I also love the new scarf my sister knit for me.  It is this really cool orangey red color.  It will be perfect for winter weather!

12) Favorite Movie:  I woud have to say Despicable Me 2.  I didn't spend much time at the movies this year, but I always get a laugh from the minions.  I love the one I currently have as my phone wallpaper: Cuse Minion!
11) Favorite TV Series:
I don't watch a ton of television, but this year I have liked watching Nashville and Modern Family.  I also just started watching Downton Abbey which is a pretty good one too!

10) Favorite Restaurant:  This one hasn't changed from last year.  I'm still partial to this crazy, artsy pizza joint that thinks it's a junkyard in Gainesville, Florida called Satchels.  I  don't get there very often, but I love it when I visit.  Besides awesome pizza, they have this funny shop in the back which sells all kinds of weird things.  This summer I found this:
I mean seriously.. WHO thinks of these things!  This place is a middle school teacher's brain in a one stop shop! 
9) Favorite New Thing I've Tried:  Twitter!  I was really using it for PLN in the summer, but I haven't been on it as much since school started.  You can join me at @mcphlips00 if you want to see what we've been talking about.
8) Favorite Gift that I Got:  Ok... I totally got an awesome gift this year from my hubby who has been spending too much time reading the SkyMall magazine on his trips lately.
Enter my awesome new "wand" for my classroom!  You can set it up to follow any remote control, so when I go back to school I am going to program it for my Smartboard remote. You can click on the picture for a link to Amazon to read more about it.  It totally shows my INNER GEEK!

7)  Favorite Thing You Pinned:
This really has nothing to do with my classroom, but I love how these scarves are organized.  Mine are always all over the place, and I thought the idea of using a tension rod was awesome.

6) Favorite Blog Post:  My reader's favorite post is about the Integer's and Coordinate Grid Foldable that I created.  You can read about it {HERE}
My favorite blog post is the lab about Surface Area and Volume that I blogged about last May.  My class really liked doing this lab.  It was really interesting to watch them practice making nets and finding Surface Area with objects that I found.  You can read more about it {HERE}

5) Best Accomplishment:  Managing my household and a full time job while my hubs finishes his doctoral program are enough of an accomplishment for me!

4) Favorite Picture: Wow.. there are so many to choose from... I really would have a hard to time picking just one.  I like this family photo that we recently took, although my hubs is not too fond of it:
I also love this one from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I had to chance to go to the parade this year.  It was on my bucket list!
This is one of my favorite school photos:  It is from our Egyptian Tomb.
3) Favorite Memory:  There are tons of memories from this year, but one of my favorites is from the summer when I was in Orlando.  I had a chance to meet up with some pretty awesome bloggy friends at Downtown Disney for lunch. 
These ladies are pretty wonderful, and I am very, very grateful for all of my BBBs that I have gotten to know this year.  Visit their blogs if you get a chance, I know you will walk away with a ton of ideas.  These ladies are pretty creative.  Gina blogs at Beach Sand and Lesson Plans,  Natalie is Being The Queen Bee Isn't Easy, and Joanne is Head Over Heels for Teaching.  
2) Goal for 2014: I think I need to spend a little bit of time reflecting on some realistic goals for 2014, but one that I know of right now is that I am going to comment more on people's blog posts.  I think as teachers when we read each other's blogs it is helpful to let the writer know that what they said somehow connected to you as a reader and fellow teacher.  Even if it is a quick laugh that you got, or something that made you look at curriculum in a different way, I think it is important to validate each other as writer's and professionals.
1) One Little Word:  FAITH... I'm not sure what 2014 will have in store for me, but I am expecting some changes as my hubs finishes his doctoral program.  I just have to lean back and enjoy the ride!

Stop by and visit the lovely ladies above and link up to share your 13 in 13 reflections.  Be sure to leave a little feedback as you visit each other!


Homemade Christmas Gifts!

I wanted to write a quick post today and tell you about a family tradition that I have.  Every year my mom, myself and my two sisters exchange homemade Christmas gifts.  I wreck my brain all year over this.  I'm not a crafty person AT ALL... I mean really NOT AT ALL!
My mother makes beautiful, beautiful quilts, and my middle sister can knit up a storm, but me... meh.. I'm lucky to escape a modge-podge event without my fingers glued together.
This year I made Christmas ornaments.

 I thought these might make a really nice gift for kids in upper elementary grades.  Honestly, they weren't super difficult.
I used blocks of wood that I found a Hobby Lobby, modge-podge, scrapbook paper, beads and pictures.
I started by asking a friend to drill a hole through each of the blocks.  I used 2 blocks for each project, and I needed 8 family photos for each project.  Then I covered each block in scrapbook paper.  Next I printed 4 pictures for each block.  I sized them so they were a little less than the 2x2 block, and modge-podged the heck out of it.

I pulled red chord through both blocks using a paper clip, and then secured the bottom with a red bead. I used my hot glue gun to secure the blocks on top of each other, and tied a silver ribbon on the top.  

My family really liked the idea.  What I tried to do was include a picture of my parents, and each sibling with their spouse on one block, then 4 pictures of all the grandkids on the bottom block.
If I were going to do this in my classroom I think I would include a picture of each student, and then have them find quotes that represented themselves.  I think these would be really nice even as single blocks, and if a parent were willing to help out at a center, supervising the modge-podge and pulling the chord through, this would be an easy gift. to share.

Do you have any special gifts that you share with family over the holidays?  I would love to hear about it.  Let me know!
I'm off to watch my Cuse  hopefully beat Villanova.  We pulled out a football win at the Texas Bowl last night.  Be Loud, Be Proud, Be Orange!

Christmas Break has FINALLY Arrived!

YAY!  Today is my last day of school!  This week has been a roller coaster!  I spent most of it at workshops.  These days were beyond my control as far as when they were planned, so I just had to go with the flow and hope that my class didn't make the naughty list.  Overall, they did a pretty good job.  Thursday and today we tried to get back to a normal routine. It was kind of like being in a holding pattern of sorts.
Tonight I'm pretty excited to go and see my Syracuse Orange play High Point at the Dome.  The game should be a no brainer win, but what I'm really excited for is that my daughter is getting to play in the Pep Band at the game.  This will be pretty exciting for her.  She carries a contra-tuba in the Pep Band, and has been working hard to learn to balance it. I am hoping to post a few pictures over break.
Meanwhile... I found this Christmas Minion picture on Pinterest last week and had to share it.  Who doesn't need a few minions right about now! I know I could use a few to help me pick up some last minute gifts.  Do you have anything left on your shopping list?  I need stocking stuffers.  I'd love a few suggestions.  I have the basics covered, but I was looking for something a little different.  Share something unique if you have found it!


Christmas Thoughts and Traditions

Hello Friends!  I am so Happy Happy Happy that our Christmas break is fast approaching!  We have school until Friday, but I spent yesterday at a workshop, and will be at a different one today.  Tuesday it was for Text Complexity, and today we were looking at visual models for math.  I'll fill you in on that a little later.  Right now, I'm linking up with Michelle over at Fabulous in First.

HOT CHOCOLATE OR EGG NOGG?  Really, I'm a Coffee Girl... I bet you all figured that out pretty quickly.  But when push comes to shove, I'll take hot chocolate.  It's a great treat after being outside in our snowy weather all day!  I love this picture of my son playing in the snow over the weekend.  Our Berner was is heaven too!

DOES SANTA WRAP PRESENTS OR JUST PUT THEM UNDER THE TREE?  Santa wraps presents in our house.  I remember many, many Christmas Eve's where my husband was putting toys together and I was wrapping them.  Fun times.. fun times!

COLORED LIGHTS OR WHITE?  On my tree inside I love colored lights, but outside I like white lights.  I'll admit it though, this year, I am being a total slacker in the decorating department.  I need to be more organized and motivated.

WHEN DO YOU DECORATE?  I usually start after Thanksgiving.  This year we have been involved in several different activities which seem to keep me busier than usual, so I haven't done as much this year.  See the whole, slacker idea above!  LOL

REAL OR FAKE TREE?  For years we had a real tree.  I loved it!  When I was little we always used to go and cut one down ourselves at a Christmas tree farm.  My husband is not a cold weather person.  A few years ago we went to using a fake tree.  

WHAT TOPS YOUR TREE?  A Fleur de Lis  tops our tree.  I wish I had a good picture of it.  We bought it after we visited New Orleans for Mardi Gras.  My husband's band marched in a parade, and the kids and I watched and caught beads.  Over 400 of them!  We string the beads together and use them as garland on our tree too.

FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MEMORIES OR TRADITIONS?  One thing I love is our Christmas stockings.  When my daughter was born I bought plain red stocking with white fur tops.  Every year I buy a pin that represents something that happened to each of us during the year.  For example, when my husband started his doctoral program at UF he got a Gator pin from the Gator Bowl.  He also has one from the London Olympics in 2012.  My daughter has a pin on hers from when she began playing in Tuba Christmas.  This is another one of my favorite Christmas traditions.  Have you heard of it?  Tuba Christmas began in 1974 by a man named Harvey Phillips as a tribute to his mentor.  During the month of December tuba players gather all over the country and play Christmas music on their tubas.  One of the largest gatherings is at the MIDWEST Music Conference in Chicago.  I am hoping to take my daughter to play there some time.  Meanwhile, we go to the local concert every year where my "24" can play.  Here is video of one of my favorite songs.

DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FAVORITE GIFT AS A CHILD?  One year I got a new pair of skis and ski boots.  My parents even had my name engraved in them.  I thought that was pretty cool.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS SONG?  I love the Muppets 12 days of Christmas and Sleigh Ride

CANDY CANES.... YUCK or YUM?  I love Candy Canes.. definitely a YUM

FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIE?  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  It wouldn't be Christmas without Clark!

DO YOU SHOP ONLINE OR IN STORES?  This year I have done a little of both.  I'm learning to love Amazon Prime!
PHOTO CARDS, LETTER, or STORE BOUGHT CARDS?  I do photo cards all the way.  This is mine from this year.  

Enjoy your last few days!  

Ancient Egypt Part 4: Make an Incredible Project with items you can find at home!

Are you getting tired of all of my posts about Ancient Egypt?  This is the last one, I promise.  Or at least I think I promise.  I wanted to share with you a student's project that I thought was just amazing this year.  One of the things that sent me over the top about it was the fact that almost the entire project was created from things she found in her home!  I believe the only purchased item was a can of  gold spray paint!
My girl "J"'s research topic was the Egyptian sarcophagus.  For those of you who are not familiar, the sarcophagus, it is the casket used to bury the Egyptian king.  Usually it is highly adorned in gold and lapis to show the riches of the pharaoh and securely bring him into the afterlife.
"J's" is a beautiful example.

I numbered the picture above to make it easier to explain:
First off, the entire sarcophagus is a stroller box.  J's mom is due any day now with twins!
1) Paper plates!  "J" spray painted them gold and then attached them with a glue gun
2) To make a 3D effect of the crook and staff, "J" used a broken coat hanger.  They wrapped it in paper and then spray painted.
3) These smaller round circles... coffee filters! Bam! 
4)  All the blue which was supposed to represent lapis... NAIL POLISH!  
Holla!  That is one creative girl in my room!  
I love it!


Sparking Student Motivation Summarizing and Video Fun: Ancient Egypt Part 3

What!  More than one blog post in a week!  I know... I know... I can hardly believe it myself!  I'm really trying to sit down and do some reflection about this blog, and I'm resolving to spend a little more time here, even if that means writing and scheduling some of my posts ahead of time.
Today I'm linking up with one of my BBBs, Joanne at Head over Heels for Teaching.  Joanne is fabulous people!  I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting her in the summer, and her positive energy has helped me out many times!

If you've managed to read my posts this week, I've been blogging about the Ancient Egyptian tomb that my smarties put together.  If you are interested, you can read Part One and Part Two.

One of the things I loved about this project came at the end.  We had been practicing a lot of informational reading and writing skills throughout the unit.  Some of them we were teaching in ELA, and others in our social studies class.  We focused a lot on one sentence summaries when we were reading books about the subject. During that reading time I would pair my students with other smarties that were studying the same topic for the research portion.  This gave them a chance to make connections with other people who had similar topics.  It was a great way to reinforce key conversation skills.  At the end though, for  the last piece, I mixed it up a bit.  I had students pair up with anyone of their choice.  Naturally, they gravitated back to their buddies, but that didn't matter.  The challenge I gave them was to create a summary paragraph that connected their two topics.  WOW!  I got some amazing, powerful  paragraphs.  My students had to think about connections that weren't obvious. It was mind blowing to watch what they came up with:

One pair of students had to summarize how the Nile River connected to mathematics.  They wrote about how the Egyptians were responsible for creating a calendar similar to the one we use today, and they used it to mark the flood patterns of the Nile.  I know that doesn't sound like much, but they were into it because they could work with a friend! They also had to come up with pictures and create a collage that complimented the paragraph.  <I love that I could use the paper tablets I bought on clearance at Walmart for 3.00 for this project!>

Here is another example.  In this one, one student had Egyptian medicine, and the other had agriculture.  They wrote about how the Egyptians actually had to learn to grow and cultivate plants that had medicinal value!  Holy Moly Batman!  That's critical thinking!   Take that NYS ELA assessments!
Here is another picture of the projects on the wall.  Our benchmarks for social studies are above them.

Finally, to keep them motivated, I showed them some silly Egyptian videos along the way.
Have you see this one?  It is The Bangles Walk Like an Egyptian put to Michael Jackson's Remember the Time video:

and I have to save the best for last... there can't be Ancient Egypt without Steve Martin!


Ancient Egypt Project: Part 2

A few days ago I posted about the project that my Smarties started on Ancient Egypt.  You can go {HERE} and read about it if you would like!
Today I wanted to post about the opening of King Tut's Tomb.  My smarties spent the month researching a topic of interest from Ancient Egypt.  At school we worked on a research essay, and a museum card for the tomb.  My students were required to create some sort of artifact at home that would represent the area of Ancient Egypt that they studied.  I know I have already said it, but these kids were AMAZING!!  The projects they created were AMAZING, and the tomb set up was also AMAZING!
Check out some the projects:

We set the tomb up in my teammate's room and invited parents to come in after school.  Their child acted like a tour guide and explained all about the geography, economy, culture, people and legacies of Egpyt through the artifacts the classes created.  We even had one student who did a Facetime presentation to his grandmother who lives out of state!  It was an incredible learning environment.  Projects like this always make me proud to teach middle school students.  We are often labeled as the ugly step-child.  We don't fit in an elementary setting, and we aren't mature enough for high school.  But these types of projects, they are an incredible experience for our classes! Thank you for letting me share it with you!

Ancient Egypt Project: Part 1

My sixth grade smarties just finished up a unit on Ancient Egypt.

We spent over a month studying about this Ancient Civilization, and the culminating project was a recreation of King Tut's Tomb which parents came to visit.  I have LOVE LOVE LOVED working on this project with them!  It has really provided me the opportunity to see students in new leadership roles, and differentiate specific instruction for students, especially the students I would consider Gifted and Talented.
Throughout the unit we worked on informational reading and writing skills.  Cause and effect was a big skill, and one thing we wanted our students to make sure they understood was how the Nile River effected life in Ancient Egypt.  We use an interactive notebook, so we had our students work using a foldable.  My teammate teaches our science classes, so she was teaching about land formations, and related all of the pieces to the Nile River.  Our students could explain why the Nile appears to flow North, and why the Egyptian Delta was so important to agriculture.  I am always so grateful to my teammate!  She has great ideas, and we really work well as a team!  Our smarties were really interested in the mummification process.  We used this foldable to reinforce the cause and effect piece.
The template is from Erin at I'm Lovin Lit.  We differentiate depending upon our students.  Some of them get everything blank except the Essential Question, others get the causes but not the effects, etc.
We also have them use the information and write a summary paragraph on the outside of the foldable after we have shared our information.  Sorry I don't have a picture of that.  I need to be a better picture taker at school!
After we finished what we call the "Pillars" of Social Studies (Geography, Culture, Economy, Legacy and People) we had the students pick a topic they were interested in.  We spent about 6 days in the library doing research on our individual projects.  During that time we taught information writing structures focusing on summary.  

We wrote a report and a museum card.  Our smarties were so into this project!  It was amazing how much time they put into it.  It really paid off in the final product!  Stop back to soon to see what happened when we opened Tut's Tomb!


Checking off my bucket list: Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! and a Facebook Frenzy Freebie!

Friends, I wanted to take a moment and just say thank you for sticking by me over the last few weeks!  I've been so busy with school and the holidays, but I wanted to share with you a great experience I had with my daughter, "24" over Thanksgiving break.
My brother in law was able to score tickets to the Macy's Day Parade on Thanksgiving Day.  You really don't need tickets, but we were able to stand in a designated section, and we weren't 5 deep on the sidewalk.  That made the experience a little nicer because we weren't in this crazy crowd.
Here are a few of my favorite pics... sorry a few are a little blurry!
We took this one for my son who chose not to stand outside with no bathrooms in the freezing cold. LOL
Who can't love these minions!  The crowd went wild when they rounded the corner!
We were also pretty excited that the Robertson clan from Duck Dynasty was on a float.  This is such a funny show for me to watch with my kids.  
And finally, the family shot.  We got on a train at 5:45 in the morning to cross this off of our bucket well worth the cold!
BTW.. that my brother in law {MESSARE CLIPS AND DESIGN} that has been making the awesome clipart! Had to give him a shout out! <hee hee>
Welcome Santa!!  This was a great experience!  It got us really pumped up to start our Black Friday shopping the following day.  

I HAD to have one the Duck Dynasty Si cups after seeing them in the parade, we didn't buy the mask, but how funny is my son in this!  I found these items at Kohl's by the way, if you have a Duck Dynasty fan in your household, and you need to make a fun purchase!
Are you finished shopping?  I have barely begun this chaotic part of December!  I need to get my act in gear!  Let me know if you have found any awesome bargains! 
ALSO!!  There are a few more hours for you to go and grab these fabulous products in a blog scavenger hunt that my friend Erin from I'm Lovin Lit has put together.  Go {HERE} to get started.
I'm also participating in a December Facebook Frenzy for grades 6-12.  There are a ton of awesome products that people are giving away during the frenzy.  Like my Facebook page at the top to get started.  I donated my Algebra Properties Match-ups Cards.  You can check out the product {HERE} but if you like my fb page, or you are already a follower, you can get them for FREE until December 9th!


Winter Planning Giveaway B-8 with I'm Lovin Lit

Hello Friends!  I hope that your Thanksgiving Vacation was wonderful!  Mine was full of fun times with my family.  I can't believe all of the fun things we crammed into just a few short days.  I'll be posting about a ton of stuff over the next few weeks.  My class finished up a huge project on Ancient Egypt that I want to share with you, and I also got a chance to cross a fun activity off of my bucket list.

But before I get into that, first up is an awesome Giveaway that my friend Erin at I'm Lovin Lit has organized.  Follow the blog hop and gather all of the secret words for the opportunity to get a ton of great prizes! EVERYBODY WINS!  You can't beat that!

I've been working on a few math products lately.  We will be beginning our fractions unit, so I made a quick game that I'm sharing as part of the giveaway.  It's called.... 
I can't get enough of these sassy snowballs from Messare Clips and Design.  You can check out their set {HERE}
For this part of the Scavenger Hunt, I'd love for you to Follow me on Bloglovin or my TpT store for my latest updates.
and check out my page about Messare Clips as well through the PAGES at the top.  They are part of this awesome GIVEAWAY too, so make sure you visit the page to get their secret code!

This week Monday and Tuesday don't forget to check out the awesome TpT deals for Cyber Monday! My store is 20% off plus you get an extra 10% with the code CYBER.
I just posted my Christmas Figurative Language Set.  I'm using it in my classroom for Word Work practice over the next few weeks.  My class is getting really good at identifying the basics for figurative language, and I'm almost ready to start teaching the other imagery pieces.  Besides, who could resist that tangles moose!

Thanks for stopping by!  Enjoy the Giveaway!

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