Teacher Time Management During the Summer

Happy Summer friends!  We are spending our time playing in softball tournaments and visiting colleges across the Southeast.  I love the places we get to visit, and they always give me a little inspiration for my classroom.  While I don't spend the entire 4 days of the tournament glued to my computer, I do have activities that I take with me that help me make a more smooth transition to the school year in August.  Today I wanted to share a few of them with you, in case your life was also spent waiting and watching your kids and their activities.

#1 Read and/or Annotate
One of the best parts of the summer break is that teachers on social media start posting about books that they have begun reading.  While I'm ALL FOR READING for pleasure #givemeallthebooks,
I also like to try and get in some reading for my grade level.  Florida tends to make this a little more easy for me because they publish a list of Florida Sunshine State books.  These are novels by amazing authors that they believe students in Florida should read.  While many of you may not live in Florida, it is a great list to get some good ideas from.  I always try to read at least half of the 3-4 list before school starts because then I can recommend books right away to students when they come back to school.  I always brag on the ones I really really liked to get students interested in reading again right away.  A few of the Sunshine State books are also part of my Reading Tasting Party at the beginning of the year.  It always helps motivate my students, and my stamina tends to rise quickly with these types of activities.  Currently, I'm reading A Whole New Ballgame by Phil Bildner.  Here is an Amazon link (its an affiliate) if you want to read more about this book.

Here is the link to see the Florida Sunshine State books for the year.  This is their main page, and from there you can navigate to each of the book lists.  
There are lists that are 3-5 and 6-8.  I also love checking out the other levels that I'm not teaching. 
#2: Sketch Out Your Classroom and Jot Your Ideas
Another thing I like to do at the ball field is sketch out my classroom and create a things to do list. While I've seen other teacher parents sit at the field and cut laminating, I save this for nights I have to be at practice, NOT for when I'm traveling across the Southeast... too many other things to bring.  I do always carry a notebook with me and I love to spend time sketching out ideas for how I can maximize the space in my classroom.  I also like to look at different ideas that I've saved on Pinterest, and then give myself a reality check for accomplishing those things.  I mean, let's BE HONEST!  Everyone WANTS a Pinterest worthy classroom, and yes, I'm envious, just like others who drool over everything under the sun that is color coordinated.  But I'm a realist, and I know that what is really going to make my classroom amazing, isn't my coordinated teacher box, but the amazing lesson plans and activities that I create for my students.  So I spend my daydreaming time at the ball field thinking up lesson plans and activities.  I make a list of activities I'm thinking of, and then either find the resource on TpT or make it myself to use.  Lots of times if it is an idea for an interactive notebook page, I'll sketch it in my notebook, and then when we are back at the hotel in the air conditioning, I'll put the page together on my computer.  When I get home from the trip, I print it out, tweak it, and put in in my INB sample binder for when I'm ready to teach it.  To me this is a no pressure situation.  I'm at the field, not much else going on, and I let my mind wander.  Sometimes, it wanders its way to school things, and that's when I think creatively about my notebooks.  Other times, meh... I want to read that trashy novel. LOL.  The point is, you have a notebook available, in case the thought comes.  My idea for this novel project came at the ball field, and my class LOVED doing this! Novel Book Report Project

#3: Make a To Do List and Check it Twice
Again, for me it's all about that notebook.  At the beginning of the summer I lay out a few goals that I want to accomplish.  NOT A TON... JUST A FEW!  

We all need to give our brains a break.  It's like doing a reset.  But I do have a few things that I like to take care of before school begins, because it makes the beginning of the year a little less stressful.  For example, I try in the summer to learn to make a few different weeknight meals.  I have teenagers who get home before me, and this summer they are going to learn the art of food prep and meal creation.  Momma doesn't need to do it all.  I've gotten a few meal magazines to take with me when we travel.  I'll make some decisions about meals we may want to eat and and that take under 30 minutes to cook.  This summer we'll be trying them out, and adding them to our monthly meals list.  Another goal that I have for the summer is to get some long term plans in place.  I'm the PLC facilitator for my grade level, so I am going to create our long term plan and goals on a calendar that I can share with my admin and team.  Because the calendar is online, it is easy to access while I'm sitting at the ball field, so in my day dreaming mode, I'll be able to enter dates and thoughts, and be ready for teacher pre-planning.  Usually, I strive for 3-4 big to dos.  If I get super motivated, and those were easy to accomplish, then I set a few more.  But the point is to NOT GO GOAL CRAZY!!!  You want to feel accomplished when the end of summer rolls around.  I want to feel like the summer was productive without feeling like I slaved over my computer.  But having a few goals helps me to prioritize my time when I am sitting and waiting.  Again, I go back to that notebook at the ball field.  I write down calendar dates, to dos, thoughts, ideas, lesson plans, interactive notebook ideas etc.  Then when I get back to my computer, I work on putting those thoughts into my online planbook, or creating new INB pages.  Right now, I'm working on INB pages for our place value unit.  It is going to feel SO amazing to know that I have an entire unit created and ready to launch at the beginning of the year.  It keeps me motivated, and learning all summer long!

I would love to hear what motivates you in the summer!  Leave a comment below and let me know some of your goals and/or accomplishments!


Adding and Subtracting Fractions Game: Mid Week Math Motivation

Hello friends!  I'm back with a little Mid Week Math Motivation, and a game students can play to practice Adding or Subtracting Fractions.

Here are the materials you will need to play:

Fraction bars:  1 whole, halves, thirds, quarters, sixths, eighths, twelfths, and sixteenths.
(You should have enough pieces to create a whole for each)
Fraction dice with the following numbers: 1/3, 1/4, 1/6, 1/8, 1/12 and 1/16
If you don't have fraction dice you can cut out address labels to fit your dice and write the numbers on, or find circle stickers.  I found these chalkboard dice at the target dollar spot in the fall, and I used a chalkboard paint marker to write what I need on them for centers.

If you don't have fraction bars you could go [HERE] and grab a Free set of them, and have your students color in the pieces different colors (or print out the colored Freebie), or you could have your students create a fraction kit using different colors of construction paper.  I use both when we play this game.  The fraction bars that are the freebie I use when we are in class playing the game in small groups.  I have the cards printed on card stock and I laminate them.  Usually I keep 8 sets so that I can have two groups of four playing at the same time.  Some of my smarties need the addition practice, while others are ready to move on to subtraction.  I also put magnets on the set so  students can use them as manipulatives on our magnetic wall.  

I have my students create the construction paper set in class with me.  The pieces are larger, and don't tend to get lost as easily.  We keep the pieces in a ziploc bag then a pocket in our interactive notebooks because I use them for more than just this game.

It is easiest to begin this game by everyone doing the same thing at the same time.  This way you can guide students who are struggling developmentally with understanding the equivalence of the fractions.  I use a gradual release concept the day that I do this, so my students who gain understanding quickly can get started playing each other.  

Adding Fractions Game: COVER UP
Start with your 1 whole strip.  Your goal is to cover your one whole strip completely, without going over.  Take turns rolling the cube and take the fraction you roll and place it on your whole strip.
For example. if I roll a 1/4, I would take my 1/4 strip and place it over the one whole strip.  Play continues until the first person completely fills up their strip.  Students are allowed to "trade out" their equivalent strips as they go.  So for example, if a student has a 1/4 strip, then a 1/6, if the student rolls a 1/3 he/she could trade out the 1/3 strip for 2-- 1/6 pieces.  Then they could also see that 3 1/6 pieces can are as large as 1/2, so they can trade up again.  Here are a few picks of my students trading.  One rolled 3 1/12 pieces during his turn.  Once he put them together, he realized he could trade up the 3 1/12 pieces for a 1/4 piece. 

The whole purpose is getting really good at understanding equivalent fractions.  This is a hands on way for students to find a common denominator.  Once students are comfortable with equivalent fraction trading, have them begin to use a dry erase board to write a numeric equivalent fraction, and then eventually an addition equation. If a student rolls the die and cannot go, he/she loses their turn, and must wait for their turn to roll again.
The winner is the first person to completely cover their fraction strip exactly. 

Subtracting Fractions Game
To practice subtraction, begin with your whole fraction strip covered with two halve pieces.  Take turns rolling the cube, and taking off (subtracting) that fraction.  You will have to exchange the pieces first, so it is a perfect formative way to make sure your students are understanding equivalent fractions (or finding a common denominator).  For example, if I roll a 1/8 on my cube.  I would need to exchange one of my 1/2 pieces for 4/8s in order to subtract one 1/8.  Again, if a student rolls the die and cannot make an exchange, he/she loses their turn, and must wait for another turn to roll again. The winner is the first player to uncover his/her whole piece exactly.

Need to Enrich or Extend?  
1) Have students play in pairs and combine their kits so that have to begin with an improper fraction.
2) See who can create the largest covered fraction within 4 turns, or who can uncover the most pieces.

My class really loved playing this game and it was a great way for my learners to get a hands on experience with equal fractions, and gain a deeper understanding.

Have a great rest of the week my friends!


My Essential Oils Journey: Making it an Oily Summer

We've  made it friends! Summer has officially started in my house! My kids are excited and anxious and overwhelmed by all the possibilities of having 10 weeks off.  As I was reflecting on what my summer might bring, I set my intentions to learn more about my essential oils this summer.

I already know that I use several EO's pretty regularly during the school year, and I'm going to continue that over the summer, because I want to stay as happy and healthy as I have been, and I want my family to do the same.  Today I'm wanted to share with you a little about Peppermint, and few ways I'm going use it during the summer.

Peppermint:  A Pick Me Up In A Jar:

#1: Mosquito Spray
I spend A LOT of time at the ball field in the summer time.  My daughter plays softball competitively and there are times when we can be at the field from sunrise to sunset.  THAT MEANS BUGS.  Mosquito's give use huge welts, but I have always hated the thought of spraying myself with chemicals that contain DEET and other icky things. I've been researching about using an EO blend to help combat these pesky critters, and making it is on my TO DO list this weekend. Guess what!  BUGS....HATE....PEPPERMINT!
The blend contains the following oils which all have amazing properties:
Peppermint, Purification, Citronella and Lemongrass.

The smell is DIVINE!

#2: Diffuse Citrus Blends 
 I found this great picture of a variety of oils I can use in my diffuser to help me keep that fresh, beachy feeling all summer long.  I think I'm going to try them all and then decide which ones are my favorites.

BTW:  I'm a researcher.  I'll admit it.  I don't dive into much without knowing a little about it, and as I was looking up these yummy citrusy blends to diffuse, I also found this infographic from the Oil Moxie about citrus oils.  They are photo sensitive-- meaning they can burn you up to 12 hours AFTER you have put them on if you go out in the sun and are exposed to the heat for a period of time.  I wanted to include the picture here, in case this was something new for you too!

#3: Panaway Pain Paste
I'm going to be making a muscle rub using Panaway to bring with us when we are traveling for softball.  Sometimes after playing 4 games in the heat my girl's muscles are a tad bit sore.  I'm mean spanking those runners out at second on a throw down can take a lot out of a girl!  I'm going to make a muscle rub for her at night.  It contains Panaway, Copiaba, Frank, and Peppermint.  You mix it with several different butters, like cocoa, shea and mango and whip it to make like a body butter cream.  I can't wait to see how it works.  Do you follow me on Instagram? I'll post a picture there when I"m done making ti!

#4: Heat Miser Spritz
The fourth things I'm looking at creating is what I call Heat Miser Spritz.  You know the Heat Miser right?  He always sneaks up on us at the ball park, and leaves feeling like wrung out rags about 4:00 in the afternoon.  This Heat Miser Spritz contains peppermint and lavender, and you use witch hazel and distilled water in a spritz bottle. I know it will be the perfect pick me up to battle the heat on Saturday afternoons!

What I super love about my exploration of this oily journey is that I can create so many things for my family just using the starter kit!  Seriously folks, I can make everything I mentioned about except the mosquito spray which contains citronella oils.  I love that I can take this journey slow and steady and at my own pace.  I can research, read and learn from others on my oily journey.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!  I have been learning so so much about making the most of my healthy environment and promoting wellness in my body, and I would love to share it. If you are interested in learning more about Young Living, or are interested in a kit, just use my affiliate link, or contact me!

Back to Top