One... Little... Word

Good morning!  I was up fairly early today pouring over a few of my favorite blogs via Bloglovin', and read about this great link up party via Primary Powers.  My friend Kim over at the Finding Joy in 6th Grade (great gal... great blog... go follow her if you aren't) was sharing how hard it is to pick just one word.  How you have to mull it over a little and think about how it will stay with you.  Last year, my one word was easy:  FAITH.  I knew there would be a lot of changes for my family in 2014.  We would be living in a new state, with new jobs, and a new home, new schools.  I needed Faith a lot in 2014 with all those life changes.  Now in 2015, I've had to think a little differently about my new word.  It's had to roll around a little in my head.  What do I want to accomplish this year?  What will settle me when stress wants to take over?  Here is what I think will stick with me this year:

I've listened to The Secret and The Power while making my morning commute to work in December.  I know that some people think it's hokey, and a pile of junk, but it came into my life at a time when I needed something to grab on to.  With the stress of holidays, EQTs for my own children, and my husband up to his ears in Marching Band- Bowl Game planning, I needed something to set my soul for the day, and these books did the trick.  I found myself waking in the morning and projecting gratitude outward into my life.  Thanking the universe for the health of my family, and the love I had for them.  Thanking the universe for the prosperity of my TpT store and the abundance of success I was having at school with my class.  And, well, it came back to me.  Here is one example:
If you read about my crazy December {HERE} you know that I took my daughter to New Orleans to play in Tuba Christmas in Jackson Square.  The rehearsal was at Loyola University.  No problem getting there, great parking spot up front, beautiful area.  I had to ask someone how to get to the French Quarter.  A mom who was there waiting for her husband and son started to give me directions, then realized they had changed some of the street names.  Because her family was already going to be heading down there, she jumped in the car WITH ME.. gave me directions to get to the French Quarter, showed me where to park, invited my family to eat lunch with her and her family, and kept track of where we needed to be in Jackson Square.  Random Act of Kindess?  You bet!  But I firmly believe it was because I projected gratitude and kindness out into the world, that when I NEEDED it, it returned to me.
Ok... I'm done.. THAT was a lot for ONE. LITTLE. WORD..
but hey, if you are at a crossroad, and need a little nudge, then maybe my story will help you!
Happy New Year!

December Review: Camellia Bowl and the Dr. Who Geek in Me

Happy Holidays!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.

December has been a crazy month!  I'm guessing you can figure that out by my lack of posting.
My Smarties were busy with all kinds of fun and celebrations this year.  We start band in sixth grade, so this year was extra special with their first concert.  They wanted to perform for their peers so we did an impromptu concert in our quad.  I got to play band conductor... good thing I married one, and somewhat know what I'm doing... NOT!

We also somehow managed to get a free Sunday, AND it also happened to be Tuba Christmas in NOLA! We did a quick road trip so my "24" could play in Jackson Square.  Check out this fun video.

Of course, the day would not be complete without a trip to Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets.

We started our Christmas vacation with a weekend trip to the inaugural Camellia Bowl in Montgomery.  It was a rainy parade and pep rally, but it didn't stop me from scooping up these awesome Post-It Notes that they were throwing out in the parade.  Once a teacher, always a teacher.

The Camellia Bowl was a great time.  That is a nice perk to my hubby's new job.  Go Jags!
I loved this show because I am a big Dr. Who Fan.  My hubs wrote the Tardis onto the field.  It appears, disappears and then appears again.  Very Cool.

Check out their halftime Sci Fi Show opener:

Event though it was a tough loss, the game was really exciting, and I know our  Jags will be pumped for next year.

 I'm looking forward to spending a little time with friends and family over the next few weeks off.  I've got to catch up some blog reading, and blogging in general.

How do plan to spend your vacation?


Products That Will Save My Sanity this Holiday Season!

I LOVE the Thanksgiving holiday break.  I get a chance to relax with family, and rest before the three weeks of Festivus Frenzy!
I always like to make the weeks before Christmas as smooth as possible.  My class is reved up, and honestly everyone is busy.  I have Christmas concerts to attend, presents to buy, a house to decorate, and a classroom to control.
I have a few products that I use to help make the season festive and fun, and save my sanity.
In small group reading work I love my Gingerbread Cookie Survival Kit.  It uses The Gingerbread Boy, The Gingerbread Baby, and The Gingerbread Girl.  Students make character inferences and compare/contrast the paired texts, complete a sequencing activity, and work in a little alliteration.  Students also have the option of completing a persuasive writing activity.  They can create a Gingerbread Cookie Survival catalog where they create an item that will help keep the cookie safe from being eaten during the holidays.  I love using these activities with my students who are struggling with character traits and writing.

I also love to use my Christmas Figurative Language Cards in Word Work Centers.  We've worked our way through the Figurative Language featured in the cards, so these are a great review for them. Plus, how can you not LOVE the tangled moose!
Finally, in Math I'm going to pull out my Jingle, Jangle 'Round the Hundreds Board.  This is a new series of Math Riddles that I've created.  I've really tried to differentiate these Task Cards.  Students who still need a visual use the Hundreds Chart and start at the first Task Card.  Those who can handle it don't use the Hundreds Chart and just use mental math.  My students LOVE using these cards when we have small group math.  I can't wait to see their faces!

Don't forget that the TpT Sale has started today, and you can get 28% off of all of the above products by using the promo code TPTCYBER.  My entire store is on sale, and I have a ton of fun math and ELA products that will help make teaching a little easier while you balance the busy-ness of home.


I'm Wishing for a Cyber Monday Sale!

I love the first weekend of the holiday season!  Friends, Family and Shopping.  It doesn't get much better than that!  I went out with my sister yesterday and did a little Black Friday shopping before the football game.   Today, I'll be visitng a few local stores before heading out to watch my Gators play, then I'll be gearing up for CYBER MONDAY!  I'm sure you've heard about the quarterly sale at TpT.

...but have you entered to win one of the five $25 TPT gift cards yet? Today is the last day to enter. If you win, that extra cash will come to your inbox just in time for the sale! Click the image below to enter if you haven't already... winners will be announced tomorrow!
Now, let's get down to business! What is on your wishlist? I love seeing what other people are buying for their classroom. As if I need any other excuse to buy products from TPT...
Feel free to grab the banners and link up, too! Share two items that everyone has on their wish list from your store and one item that you have on your own wish list that you'll buy during the sale.
The number one thing people have wish listed from my store is my Expressions and Equations Scoot and Compute Pack.  This set of 120 cards covers Algebra from Order of Operations all the way through Inequalities and Two Step Equations.  There are 12 cards for each topic.  I used them as a review when we took our big Algebra Assessment in early November.  My students used the problems at my small group table with me, so I could watch their problem solving process, and formatively assess where we were with mental math computation. I copied one of each of the 12 sets on to colored paper and put them on rings.  That way I could differentiate as needed.  For some of my students that needed a little extra practice in one area, I combined the same colored cards and had them complete practice in one area before moving on to another skill.   I'll pull them out again before our state assessment.  It will be a great test prep tool.

The second most wish listed item is my Salt in His Shoes Reflective Reading and Writing Pack.

I LOVE using this pack with my class after Christmas.  Salt in His Shoes is a great way to reinforce the character traits of Perseverance and Determination.  I use the story to talk about Grade Level vocabulary as well as academic vocabulary,  we discuss Author's Purpose, and character development.  I use the quotes as a bulletin board where students reflect on their own goals and character traits.  Later, I use the story as a springboard for biography writing unit.  This pack will be a STEAL at $2.40 during the sale, plus you get an extra 10% OFF with the code TPTCYBER.
One of the items I'm going to scoop up in the sale is Diane's Close Reading Pack for December.   Diane's Close Reads are FABULOUS products!  I love that they are full of science and social studies related topics.  My class will love reading about Ice Hockey.  It isn't a popular sport down here, and my class doesn't know much about it.  Plus again, it is a great way to teach them about Grade-Level, versus Academic Vocabulary.

What do you have on your wish list?


Black Friday Sale and New Math Riddles Task Cards for Christmas

Happy Black Friday Friends!  I'm headed out to join the millions of people scooping up fun bargains and enjoying the start of the crazy shopping season!
I wanted to pop in and let you know that my TpT store is ON SALE today in honor of Black Friday, so if you are staying home, warm and cozy in your pjs, pop on over and pick up a few things that will help you out in December!  I just posted my new set of Christmas themed Hundreds Board Riddles for practicing Number Sense and Operations.

My class LOVES these.  I have many that are trying to use mental math only to solve them, without the visual of the Hundreds Chart.  So fun!
Don't forget you still have time to enter an amazing giveaway!  Five $25 Gift Cards to TpT.. what a great gift!  Go {HERE} to enter!
Happy Shopping!

Shouting out a HUGE THANK YOU with an incredible Giveaway!

We are so excited for the holiday season that we couldn't help but spread some love! Lots of your favorite TPT Teacher-Authors and I have teamed up to give YOU some TPT spending money. We love you and appreciate you (and we wish we could give all of our fabulous followers some money)!

Enter the Rafflecopter below by simply following our TPT stores, and you will have a chance to win one of FIVE $25 TPT gift cards! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Squared Away on a Sunday: Book Raffle Freebie!

Happy Sunday my friends! I wanted to let you know what I've  Squared Away on a Sunday, as we head into a short two day week.  Today it's about sharing a way I've motived my students to increase their AR reading.

Accelerated Reader is new to me this year.  The first ten weeks I didn't do a very good job of keeping up with AR in my classroom.  I didn't know enough about it, and I didn't do a good job of keeping on my kids about reading and taking the AR tests.  This quarter, I'm doing a much better job of keeping track of things.  One way that is motivating my students is doing a Book Raffle.
Basically, I used my extra bonus points from my Scholastic Book order and ordered books that my students were interested in, and talking about.  I created raffle tickets for my students, and throughout the week I give them tickets for having all of their homework, or keeping organized.  Then, at the end of the week (or two, or a few)  I hold a Book Raffle.  This worked PERFECTLY for me at the beginning of the month when the latest Wimpy Kid book came out.  I put two in the raffle because they wanted it SOOO badly!

I do a book talk about each of the books that are in the Raffle, and then I give my students an opportunity to be the first student  to read the book.  They love this!  They are eager to get extra tickets, and are blowing quickly through the books they win.  What I love best is they are TALKING about the books, and they are EXCITED about the the books, and it makes other kids want to pick up the books are read them!  I try to include a new popular book and a graphic novel as well.  The latest raffle included a graphic novel of The Red Pyramid, so between that and The Long Haul, they were really interested in winning.

So far I have done two raffles, and I plan to do another in the early part of December.  Then I'll have to spend a little time over Christmas break building my stash up again.  But I'll take it!  If you are interested in doing a book raffle in your classroom, you can download these FREE BOOK RAFFLE TICKETS to print and use.  Feedback is always appreciated.

I created a colored version as well as a black and white copy if you need to save ink.  Just print them on colored paper, and they will be equally festive!
ENJOY!  and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Interactive Lessons for Number Sense using a 100s Board

I love interactive math lessons!  I love when my students are so involved that the hour I spend teaching math goes by in an instant!  I love when they DON'T WANT TO STOP learning and practicing math!
First, I want my students to be familar with the hundreds board, and how it works.  I copy a hundreds chart and we use it in our Interactive Notebooks.  Then we Hop' Round the Hundreds Board.  Basically I give them a series of 4-6 directions and they move a bingo chip, or their finger around the board following the pattern I've established.  The cards basically look like this:
I start out super easy, using only addition and subtraction operations.  I want them to learn to listen, since I will not repeat my directions.  I also want to practice our Talk Moves, one of which is Wait Time.. for both them and ME!
Next, I up the anty and include directions that involve all four operations, and words that could be used with them.
Finally, I include phrases that contain math language such as squared, cubed, sum of the digits, product of the digits etc., to really get them thinking.
After each activity we continue with our Talk Moves, and discuss how people "got around the board." Even in sixth grade, I still have students who don't recognize that the numbers on the board go up by 10s, and they count up 17 spaces singly.
I love this type of activity because everyone is engaged in the puzzle.  After we play it as a whole group, I put Task Cards in my Math Rotation for them to play on the Smartboard.
My cuties have been so excited over these riddles, they are even making up their own to stump the class!

When every group has gone through a math center rotation, I pull the game out when we have 5 or 10 minutes and we are waiting on something.  Since the hundreds chart is already in the math notebook, it is easy to grab and go!
This activity is a perfect set up for looking at prime factorization and then on to GCF and LCM. It is also great to review common operations terms, exponents and prime numbers.
If you are interested in this activity, and want something quick to use, you can go {HERE} and find a set of 30 differentiated task cards.  There is also a set that is not themed for Fall {HERE}.
Let me know a few ways you use the hundreds board with "Big Kids" and how you keep things interactive!

What I've Squared Away on a Sunday! America's White Table for Veterans Day

I've loved being able to spend a little time today catching up with some of my favorite bloggers!  I haven't had a lot of time to blog or read blogs lately, and I'm so glad I could find an extra hour today to focus on my bloggy friends and read their posts.
My family and my job have been keeping me super super busy.  I know I'm not alone in that crazy feeling. I can't wait to be off on Tuesday to just have that one relaxing day!
Here's what I've got Squared Away as far as lesson plans for the week: I'm going to continue my work with my Smarties about Veterans Day.  We are using an amazing book from Margo Theis Raven called America's White Table.

  The story is all about the small white table that is set for a single soldier in the American Legions and mess halls of American military bases around the world.   Each item symbolizes the American soldier, freedom and peace that is so important to us.  I chose my mentor sentence from this text, and we are reviewing simile and hyperbole using it.   It is also a way that I review symbolism before it gets too hefty in our literature.  I have a pack for Veterans Day using this book, along with the Mentor Sentence suggestion {HERE}.  Of course, I am ALWAYS an advocate for having a mentor text in front of you that children can read, and refer to, but if you want to learn more about this story, or you are in a pinch, you can watch this video which retells the story.

In Math, I'll be finishing up inequalities, and giving an assessment on equations and inequalities.  I am almost done with my Algebra unit.  It has been a long, long haul, but we are getting there!  In my guided math groups, I'll be using my Inequalities Task Cards from this {PACK}.  I've already done the foldable and interactive lesson.  My smarties really get the idea of reading and graphing the inequalities quickly using this.  I'll have a few other stations running, including my Hoppin Round the Hundreds Board activity.  They LOVE using the hundreds chart for this, and I can tell that mental math skills are improving.  Look at these cuties using their notebooks to check the operations words! LOVE!
I've noticed over the past few weeks, my students are not really picking up on having meaningful conversations when they are working in their math groups, so I'm going to start emphasizing more Math Conversation.  I made a few conversation writing prompts that we are going to put into our interactive notebooks as a reminder.  You can get this FREEBIE {HERE} if your students are needing a little prompting as well. I'd love a little feedback on it as well, if you are feeling generous.

So what do you have Squared Away for the week?  Leave me a comment or two and let me know what your working on!


Getting in a Workout with Combining Like Terms

My Smarties have been working hard lately in Math.  We have A LOT... A LOT of work to do.
One of the big ticket items for us is the Distributive Property.  Using this, we have to learn how to combine like terms and be very proficient with simplifing expressions using the Greatest Common Factor.
There are several items that I begin with in the fall.  One of which is Prime Numbers and Greatest Common Factor.  The easiest thing that I've found is using the Prime Ladder Method.  I want my students to be familiar with the Hundreds Board, so I complete a lesson where we discover the prime numbers through 100 by color coding the board.  Once we are comfortable with the prime numbers, we learn GCF with the ladder.  These lessons along with a foldable can be found {HERE} if you are interested.
Once my Smarties are familiar with GCF, we turn to Distributive Property and combining like terms.
This can be so difficult for them to grasp and go back and forth.  I wanted extra practice for my students in a center like activity, so I created 'Smore Practice with Combining Like Terms.

They loved this!  On top of it making them crave 'Smores,  [Sidebar: this made me laugh because smores is a summer thing for me in the North East but not in Mobile... it's winter time when a campfire is needed hello!  teacher needs to adapt to her surroundings!]
The activity forced my students to take the terms step by step.
We find the original term, then combine the variable terms.  We find the chocolate piece with this answer.  Next, students combine the constant values.  Finally as added practice I provided a value for the variable and my students solved the expression.
I included a student recording sheet with the activity.  I had my students place them in sheet protectors, then they could use the back of the sheet to work through the combinations.  It gave them more space to work and it allowed them the ability to place each piece next to the work to show me the steps and EXPLAIN them.  Hello!  Formative assessment! BOOYA!

Also, my entire TpT store is on sale through Halloween, so you can grab this item for a steal if you're interested!


Teachers Helping Teachers: Adoption Bundle

Being a teacher is an amazing profession.  We face cultural, social and economic challenges every day.  We counsel, doctor, mentor and teach our students while wading through pounds of paperwork, answering emails, copying, cutting, laminating, grading and assessing them.  I know I could not do all of what I do without a supportive family.  This family is not just made up of my husband and children, but it is the support system that I have gained through blogging and TpT.  I was so thrilled to hear that one of my extendend family of BBBs, Nick, from Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason is in the process of adopting a child.  YAY!  Another member to add to my extended family!  I am so excited to be part of this AMAZING bundle that we have put together to help Nick and his family with the cost.
Check out what this product has to offer:
You get over 300+ pages of activities, 19 PRODUCTS!!  Including ELA, MATH, and SCIENCE for only $25.00.  Most of these products you can not individually purchase, but they make a great bundle!
The diversity and ability to differentiate within these is fabulous.  Even though I teach 6th grade, I am still using a ton of these products in centers as review.  I especially like the math task cards.  I can put some of them in a math center rotation a week or two before beginning my decimals unit, and it really helps to refresh my students thinking about the basics.
I included a set of 30 task cards to practice Number Sense using a Hundreds Chart.  These are 4-5 step riddles that help students practice basic operations phrases and computation skills.  There are three different levels so you are able to differentiate.  Plus.. don't even get me started on the ELA goodies!  Seriously!  You know your kids have different interests, let alone reading levels.  These products make my job SO... MUCH.. EASIER! 
How can you beat getting to spend a little more weekend time with your family because we have made easy planning for you ON TOP OF supporting a fellow teacher.  Go {HERE} to check out this amazing product.
Have a great weekend!

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