September 23, 2016

Five for Friday... and it's Friday!

I truly enjoy joining this fun weekly linky, but once the school  year begins I usually don't find the time to actually post on a Friday. I sometimes don't make it until Saturday or even Sunday, and I often miss the linky all together! This week, ha! For whatever reason I had photos and the time to put my post together on Thursday night, in time for an actual Friday post! YAY!!!

ONE... One of our Friday rituals is Flashlight Friday. Last Friday was the first time that this year's crop of fifth graders took part. They LOVED it and have been begging to use the tiny lights during the week. Gotta love kids who get excited at simple things!


TWO... I am not a cook. I can cook, but I don't care to cook. My idea of cooking is five ingredients or less, no real recipe, and virtually no prep time. Crock pot cooking meets all those criteria. This past week  I made a family favorite and had my niece and her family over for dinner. This recipe is so simple: layer tater tots in the bottom of your crock; layer diced boneless chicken breast over the tots; salt and pepper, then layer shredded Colby Jack cheese over the chicken. Repeat until the crock is full. On top of the last layer of cheese, spread a pouch of REAL bacon bits, and pour milk over the mixture until you can just see the milk along the side. Cook in the crock for 8 hours on low. YUM!


THREE... Speaking of recipes, we had a recipe for a wonderfully successful science lesson... The Chemistry of Lemons. My sixth graders learned how to use litmus paper and test lemon juice for ph level. They then added baking soda at periodic levels and tested several times again until they turned the juice into a base.  Great fun, great learning!


FOUR...I LOVE music! I ALWAYS have a song or melody floating through my head. I walk to a beat, I rock to a rhythm, I dance in my chair... all unconsciously! However, I consciously add music to my lessons as often as I can. Learning tough academic content via a song helps information stick much quicker and more easily than an hour of plain studying. This week we learned two big chunks of material via songs: The books of the Bible in order (all of them) and the Taxonomy levels for Carl von Linne's Classification System. Here my sixers were taking a bit of a brain break while dancing and singing the books of the Bible song. Such fun... AND all twenty-eight kiddos know the books! Interested in the video? Here's the link: https://youtu.be/ixMvFdeo-F0


FIVE... I am the Gadget Queen, or at least that's what my friends call me. I have loads of fun technology toys and am often on the lookout for the next, new gadget that I can add to my arsenal. One of my favorite gadgets is a small, security-style web camera that I purchased on Amazon that I call my Kitty Cam. I can peek in on my two fuzz girls during the day, even talk to them via the camera. In this shot, I've just called to the girls. They are sitting, listening to me talk to them. They looked so cute that I couldn't resist taking a quick pic, another feature of the security camera.


Be sure to stop by Doodle Bugs Teaching to read loads of fun posts about teacher bloggers. It's a great way to get to know the folks behind the blog!



September 20, 2016

September Show and Tell

The third Tuesday of each month is set aside for bloggers to join one of my favorite linky parties...
We are off to a roaring start with our Science class in sixth grade. We've already learned about S.T.E.M. and the engineering process and have just started our study of taxonomy. Last week we practiced classifying cereal in the same way that biologists classify living organisms via a dichotomous key.


We have been taking advantage of our school's new Chromebooks using them at every opportunity. Partially because this week we are doing STARS testing on them, so I want my kiddos well prepared and comfortable with the technology before they test.


We've also been actively working with our Second Grade Buddies. Last week we made these wonderful individual pencils in celebration of the canonization of St. Teresa of Calcutta. Combining two items, one from Look to Him and Be Radiant and one from Glitter Meets Glue, we created the beautiful poster featuring St. Teresa's words, "I am but a small pencil in the hand of God."


Finally, I always must share a pic of my fuzz girls. Here you can see both Daisy Mae and Lulubelle helping me create this blog post. They are such cutie pies that I can't chase them away while I am working. They aren't spoiled a bit!


Be sure to stop by Forever in 5th Grade to read more September Show and Tell posts. It's a great way to keep up with education bloggers around the bloggy world!




September 18, 2016

Children Just Like Me

Time has certainly got away from me! I can't believe that we are starting our fourth week of school. In that time we've started a brand new spelling format in both fifth and sixth grade courtesy of Jen Bengel from Out of This World Literacy, and it is going so well that I just have to smile! We've set up our interactive notebooks in all subjects and grades. We've taken STARS Reading and Math tests that have allowed me to better meet the needs of my students. We've already done one STEM activity and have met with our college professor mentor for an awesome chemistry lesson about lemons. In other words.... We are off to a terrific year of fun and learning!

My little blog, however, has been a bit neglected by me of late. It's been almost two weeks since last I uploaded a post, but my blog itself hasn't been neglected. It's recently received a much needed facelift. I love the new design created by Blogs Fit for a Queen. The Teacher's Desk 6 now looks like a real teacher's desk, complete with all of the tools that I use and photographs of my two fuzz girls, Lulu and Daisy. Courtney and Shannon were terrific to work with! If you are looking to redesign your blog, I HIGHLY recommend Blogs Fit for a Queen!

Something else that got a bit neglected since school started is my reading time. I've spent most of my reading time working on school related reading. This weekend I decided to reclaim a little ME TIME in the reading area. I had received a gorgeous book about three weeks ago and just hadn't had time to do more than look at it and yearn! Today I did MORE...

Published by DK Books, Children Just Like Me: A New Celebration of Children around the World is a gorgeous publication of colorful photographs, maps, graphics, and engaging text that just begs to be read.

A favorite in classrooms, libraries, and homes, Children Just Like Me is a comprehensive view of international cultures, exploring diverse backgrounds from Argentina to New Zealand to China to Israel. With this brand new edition, children will learn about their peers around the world through engaging photographs and understandable text laid out in DK's distinctive style. 
Highlighting 36 different countries, Children Just Like Me profiles 44 children and their daily lives. From rural farms to busy cities to riverboats, this celebration of children around the world shows the many ways children are different and the many ways they are the same, no matter where they live. 
Meet Bolat, an eight-year-old from Kazakhstan who likes to cycle, play with his pet dogs, and play the dromba; Joaquin from New Jersey who enjoys reading and spending time with his family, and whose favorite food is bacon; or Yaroslav from Moscow who likes to make robots. Daily routines, stories of friends and family, and dreams for the future are spoken directly from the children themselves, making the content appropriate and interesting to draw in young readers. 
To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of this special project, all-new photography, maps, and facts give unique insight to children's lives in our world today showing their homes, food, outfits, schools, families, and hobbies. 
A passport to a celebratory journey around the world, Children Just Like Me is perfect for children who are curious about the children of the world and their stories...Amazon.com.
The possibilities for using this book in a classroom are endless. Reading one biography a day aloud to students in elementary grades can lead to discussions about how children around the world are so alike yet so different.

Mini-research activities to learn more about the information presented in the text are bound to be a natural occurrence.

If classrooms are fortunate to have the original text published twenty years ago, a compare/contrast lesson could be in order.

DK Publishers has created a beautiful, useful, and engaging publication that teachers will want to use. They have also provided a free activity kit on their website to aid teachers. There are several sheets to use with students...

...as well as a downloadable .pdf file.


Children Just Like Me is available for purchase at a very reasonable price via a link at DK Books, the publisher, or directly on Amazon.com where it is already the #1 New Release in Children's Customs and Traditions Books.

I'm linking up with This Literacy Life for Book Talk Thursday (even though it's Sunday... I had good intentions). Be sure to stop by her blog for loads of posts about terrific books to use in your classroom!




September 7, 2016

September Winner Wednesday, All About Johnny



The first Wedenesday of every month is set aside as Winner Wednesday. What's that you might ask! It's a fabulous linky where participating bloggers select one of their best teaching products and offer it as a one day only giveaway.

So, are you ready to  win a fun, engaging, and totally useful bundle of three ELA activities for older elementary students just in time for Johnny Appleseed Day on September 26th? Just enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post and if your name is pulled, you will receive this...

Johnny Appleseed ELA Bundle of Three Activities


Here's what you will find inside this bundle. You do have to supply a container, and there is some assembly, mostly cutting and taping.


Let's look at each activity a little closer.

First the Mystery Picture...

The mystery picture consists of a grid of 121 squares in which is written a word(s). Your students follow the coloring key at the bottom of the paper to color in each square. This particular mystery pictures provides students practice with six of the eight parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions. As they color the picture is revealed. This happens to be a picture of Johnny Appleseed with his tin pot hat, standing next to an apple tree.

The ZAP Game...


ZAP is such a fun game to begin with that no matter what skill you practice your students are engaged and learning! If you are not familiar with how to play ZAP, please visit this blog post to learn more. This ZAP game asks your students to distinguish between fact and opinion statements. Don't want to play a game? Use the game cards as task cards in a literacy center. QR Code answers are included on each strip, making them self-checking in a center.

The last item is a set of Task Cards...


Task cards are my go-to activity. I could probably use them every day for every skill if I could. They are so versatile... from a literacy center to a game of Scoot, from a game to an assessment tool... task cards will go the mile for you! This set is designed to give your students practice writing sentences correctly. Intentional  mistakes in grammar, usage, spelling, and punctuation have been placed in each card's sentence. Students are asked to revise and edit the sentences until they are free of mistakes. Once again these cards may be used in a literacy center and since they also contain QR Code answers they are self-checking. A traditional answer key is also provided. Don't forget task cards can be used in many ways... try a Scatter or Scavenger Hunt! Students LOVE to get out of their seats to do work.

Sound like a bundle that you would enjoy adding to your classroom? Just enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to receive it FREE! Don't delay! The giveaway lasts only for today, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Be sure to stop by A Dab of Glue Will Do You or Sara J Creations for more Winner Wednesday blog posts. From there you will be able to enter additional Winner Wednesday giveaways. Good luck!




September 5, 2016

New Saint September 4, 2016

The Catholic Church received a brand new saint on Sept. 4, 2016... St. Teresa of Calcutta! Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful blessing.

Mother Teresa is known far and wide, not just by Catholics, but by so many who are interested in helping the less fortunate of our world. Although she passed from this worldly life nearly thirty years ago, her popularity is as strong today, if not stronger, than when she was alive. A tiny woman, standing just a bit more than five feet tall, her message of love and care for the poor is more powerful than leaders of large nations.

My students and I spent some time last week reading a biographical picture book about this wonderful lady and how she impacted our world. As a memento of our study and Mother Teresa's canonization, I presented my sixth graders with special brags tags (my students collect these as rewards for goals met and for special occasions). You are welcome to share these tags with your students as well.

Just click HERE to download your own file.

Those of you who have visited my desk in the past might remember how I enjoy creating teaching materials that combine my Catholicity with my ELA teaching. I try to incorporate Catholic teaching with typical academic teaching so you will see ZAP games about Lent or Advent, or a mystery picture about First Communion, or even task cards about different saints. My latest creation is in honor of St. Teresa of Calcutta's canonization and is my students' favorite... a ZAP game! I am surprising them with this game on Tuesday morning, after our long holiday weekend.


This is such a fun way for Catholic School students to practice identifying the four types of sentences because all of the sentences are about St. Teresa of Calcutta! Here's what the game strips look like; you can see what the sentences are like. Notice there is no end punctuation to give away the type of sentence. Students must read and think rather than rely on visual cues. There are a total of thirty three sentences that relate a brief biography of St. Teresa of Calcutta's life.



If you are interested in learning more about this fun, engaging game or would like to obtain a copy for yourself, please click HERE.



September 3, 2016

September Pinterest Pick 3

September is such a beautiful month with summer's last splash and the prospect of fall's colorful palette. School is in full swing with routines firmly established and engaging lessons ocurring. The best part about September... a brand new Pinterest linky, YAY!


I have been busily setting up my Google Drive to house my seventh grade English students' assignments. It's a daunting task, at least for me. I still have some of last year's material there that I need to remove and I'm planning on creating individual folders for each student within the class folder. Did you know that you can color code folders in Google Drive? I just learned this! LOVE IT! 


And speaking of technology, if you haven't experienced this fun, oh so useful website yet, YOU HAVE TO TRY IT! Interactive, simple, and FUN, you can create digital assignments in a snap!



Take a peek at this seventh grade English assignment that we worked on the first full day of school. It was their first assignment on their school issued laptop as well their first "graded" English assignment. Every student was engaged, excited, and worked until completion! SCORE for the teacher, SCORE for Padlet! And it took me less than five minutes to set up.


Anchor charts are such a popular trend in education nowadays! I so want to make really cute, attractive, engaging anchor charts. Like this one, just perfect for one of the very first lessons that I teach!


There are sooooo many anchor charts that I would LOVE to be able to create; however, I lack the talent to make these big charts! Instead I collect pin after pin after of them!



And then I figured out a really fun way to use anchor charts in my class. You can learn more about these mini-beauties HERE! My students and I just love them, and I think you might, too!







August 29, 2016

Monday Made It: New Lunch Count System FREEBIE

For as many years as I can count (make that 36) I have taken lunch count one way... call the child's name and put a check next to it if he/she is buying. Even after lunch count went digital online, it was the same way. This takes time, especially with a larger class, and once we went digital you must do attendance FIRST in order to take lunch count. No problem though; it was all good UNTIL...

This school year my students leave homeroom IMMEDIATELY after morning prayer and announcements. For 36 years my sixth graders have been with me for first period. Gulp! I have no time to take lunch count so I had to scamble up a new system. Luckily, I have a terrific teaching partner across the hallway whom I remembered had the same issue last year when this very same group of students was in fifth grade. They left immediately after prayer and announcements last year, too. I asked her how she handled it. What she did was brilliant! Some of you already use systems like this, but for me this was brand new!

She concocted a pocket chart (from the Dollar Tree) with student numbers. Then made small rectangles of red and white to fit in the chart. If a student was buying, he/she would place the red rectangle behind his/her number; if he/she was packing, he/she placed the white rectangle. So clever, so simple!


I followed her lead. I added a little bit of duct tape to my green Dollar Tree pocket chart to match my classroom decor and made a set of selection cards on my computer. I spruced up the cards with some glittery clip art from Glitter Meets Glue and laminated them for durability. I hung up the chart on our classroom door so my kiddos can make their selections before entering the room (hopefully cutting down on forgetfulness).  The last student out the door after prayer and announcements shuts the door so I can read the chart and enter their selections! Problem solved, thanks to Dollar Tree, Duct Tape, and Julie across the hall.

Would you like to own a set of these lunch selection cards? Just click HERE and they're yours, a forever FREEBIE!





How do you do your lunch count? Do you have something cute and clever or tried and true? I'm in search of additional ideas, just in case I need to do something new again next year!

Don't forget to stop by 4th Grade Frolics to check out other fun Monday Made Its posted by teacher bloggers. I always find such fun, clever ideas there!




August 21, 2016

ONEDAY TpT Bonus Sale

Did you miss the Best Year Ever sale that TpT held a few weeks ago? Just not ready for back to school back then? Guess what? You've got one more chance to save on all your back to school teaching products from Teachers Pay Teachers.


And to sweeten your experience, I'm giving away a TEN DOLLAR TpT gift certificate in time for you to spend during this fabulous ONEDAY sale on all your TpT teaching needs. Just enter below before midnight today.

a Rafflecopter giveaway



If you're not sure what to spend your gift certificate on or just looking for some TERRIFIC teaching materials, head over to Mrs. Mc's Place. She is hosting a sale linky party where MANY TpT'ers have posted their BESTEST teaching products for you to peruse. HAVE FUN!



August 20, 2016

Back to School Must Haves and TpT Gift Card Giveaway

I start Back to School with my kiddos this week and I CAN NOT WAIT!

There are three items that I just can NOT do without during a school year.

1. Scoot cards/Task cards
2. ZAP games
3. Mystery pictures


Scoot or Task Cards are THE go to activity in my classroom. 

Versatile beyond measure, they can be used as a whole class activity, as part of a literacy center for individual cstudents, or for small group instruction or practice. The traditional game of Scoot  is only one way to use these activity cards. Images of cards can be uploaded to Quizizz or Plickers for a fun online, digital assessment for your students. Combine bingo cards with task cards for a new twist on an old game. I have created and purchased task cards for nearly every skill that I present to my middle schoolers: kinds of sentences, nonfiction text structures, antonyms, multiple meaning words, the periodic table, etc. Because I teach in a Catholic School, I have even created Scoot cards that incorporate aspects of our faith: All Saints' Day, Stations of the Cross, St. Lucy, St. Patrick, and MANY more.



ZAP games are without a doubt my students' favorite activity!


High paced and engaging, I have used ZAP (originally called BOOM or KABOOM) in my classroom for over 35 years. Such a simple game to assemble and institute, you simply include skill items on slips of paper, along with a few ZAP slips, place them in a container and have students pull the slips and answer the question/problem...and the FUN begins when the first ZAP slip is drawn! Read more about how to play this awesome game HERE.

I've made and used ZAP games for nearly every skill I've ever presented to my classes as well, and have even incorporated religious themes in them, too. Deb Hanson from Crafting Connections affectionately dubbed me "The Queen of ZAP" after I introduced her to this fun, engaging game.


It's no mystery that Mystery Pictures take the sting out of humdrum skill practice!


What's a mystery picture you ask? It's a color by skill activity. Given a grid of words and a color key, students determine the type of word in each box of the grid, color it its corresponding color, and reveal a hidden picture as they work.



The mystery pictures that I design and publish all deal with ELA skills, particularly identifying parts of speech. My students no longer mumble or grumble when they have to identify types of nouns, or distinguish between adjectives or adverbs. Mystery pictures have taken the sting out of boring worksheet drills.

Don't these three teaching tools all sound FUN for your students? And you? Perhaps they may sound like something you can't live without either, especially if you teach ELA to middle grades students???

You can snag ALL of the items pictured in this post as a bundle of Back to School ELA items. Included in the bundle are THREE ZAP games, TWO Mystery Pictures, and ONE Scoot game for a total of SIX items. Normally priced at ten dollars, you can grab the bundle at a significantly reduced price. Just click HERE to download the complete bundle now.


OR enter this Rafflecopter giveaway for a TEN DOLLAR Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificate. You may be the lucky person who wins. Then you can purchase this bundle on Monday, August 22nd and save even more by using your gift card just in time for Back to School!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



In the market for more Back to School items? Hope on over to XClass to the Rescue. There is a wonderful linky party going on that is featuring Back to School teaching products.



August 19, 2016

Five for Friday

I am sneaking this post in....sh, I am actually in an inservice, one about technology. Everyone is required to have a laptop for a hands-on training...and we all know what happens when thirty different laptops start to log on to an online grading program. I am raring and ready to go but the other twenty-nine aren't YET. Soooooo, it's time for...


First.... I finished my classroom this week. Here is the grand reveal!


Second... I have been having such a great time with the app Face Swap. I posted a few pics earlier, but here are a few more.




Third... My 17 year old fur baby had her wellness exam this past week. This is Daisy's happy face as we are getting ready to go home. She passed her test with flying colors, yay! The vet assures me that I should enjoy her for many years to come.


Fourth... This is the BIG WEEK BEFORE THE FIRST WEEK so I've been busily getting notebooks, posters, punch cards, and brag tags ready to go. I just finished up my starter set of tags and got them assembled (with a little help). I just LOVE using brag tags with my older kids. They are a fun, inexpensive reward system. Mine are chiefly used as a homework incentive system. Students do their homework on time and receive fun little tags to collect, showing their accomplisnment. When they collect enough tags they will earn a no homework coupon... GOLD for my kiddos!





Fifth... I had something happen to me that has NEVER, EVER happened before. I live near a long stretch of highway, Ohio Rt. 11. It is rather desolate, exits lead to long distances to small cities or towns. While it does pass near a few larger communities, it is safe to say there is no reason to ever be caught in a traffic jam on this road. However, coming home from a long, first day back inservice that was held 60 miles away, I ran into this. For a moment, this The Walking Dead fan thought she was caught in the zombie apocalypse retreat. I have no idea what caused this jam or why it took me and hundreds of others more than 20 minutes to crawl less than one-half mile... not a nice thing to have happen on that first teacher day!


Something really nice to have happen, though, is being able to link up with Kacey over at Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday. Be sure to visit her blog and read all the fun weekly postings from teachers around the blogging world.