July 30, 2016

Best Year Ever Gift Certificate and Shopping Spree: YOURS!

I'm sure you've heard the news: THE BIG BACK-TO-SCHOOL SALE AT TpT IS ON!

Although the sale doesn't officially start until Aug. 1st, it's fun to do a little pre-shopping, checking things out, filling up that shopping cart... ANTICIPATING!!!

To spice things up a bit in anticipation of this fantastic yearly sale, I've got a little fun for you... not only FUN, but also something to help you grab those BACK-TO-SCHOOL purchases a little less painlessly for your pocketbook...


Complete the Rafflecopter below for your chance to snag this certificate AND A TEN DOLLAR SHOPPING SPREE in my TpT Store. Don't delay; this little giveaway will be over before you know... AND THE BIG SALE WILL START!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! Winner will be notified early on August 1, 2016...just in time for the BEST YEAR EVER!

July 29, 2016

Five for Friday

I have to chuckle a little bit. This is probably one of my favorite linky parties. I love how I can keep up with all the important things in bloggers' lives just by reading Five For Friday posts. However, I never seem to be able to participate each week... too busy during the school year and nothing to post in the summer. It's a catch twenty-two! I decided to just plunge in this week, starting the post early in the week and hoping to finally come up with five things by week's end.

FIRST... I have been teaching myself to play piano for the past few years. My goal is to someday be able to play the piano as I lead my students during liturgy. Almost there, but not quite! Although I've made great progress, I still "burp" when I play. I mix up my right and left hand, transposing the two lines of music or I get finger-tied and cause myself to hesitate. Paul Tate, a noteable liturgical composer and musician, recently published a collection entitled "Sunday Songs." The arrangements are for an advanced beginner to intermediate keyboardist (that would be me), and while simple (no burping on my part) they still are pleasing to the ear. I think I will be reaching my goal this coming school year!

SECOND... Would you believe that a local university offered a summer professional development class about Pinterest? Oh yeah! Besides learning some cool tips, I had the time to finally make my boards look unified. Stop by and check out my pinterest boards; they have great content and they look so neat now. Just click on the link in the righthand sidebar.

THIRD... My friends and I have made weekly trips to our local lakeside park where we feed the ducks and look at the peacocks. Much to our surprise on our last visit, mama peahen was watching over a brand new peachick! Proud daddy patrolled the area while big sister (last summer's pea chick) watched from a perch.

FOURTH... I have come to the realization that I really am old! I never think about my age or how long I've been teaching, but every once in a while something happens that makes you think you have been around quite a while! Right now that thing is a little Instagram linky. So far, of the more than 500 posts, I have been teaching the longest...AND I'm not done yet! How 'bout you? How many years for you?

FIFTH... Netflix, Amazon Video, Acorn...OH MY! All year long THE ONLY TV show that I watch live is The Walking Dead (by the way, it returns on Oct. 23rd and I CAN NOT WAIT!!!!). The television set is seldom on except to keep my fuzz girls company while I am at school. I normally just play music on my Echo. During the summer, however, I am a television freak, binge watching great (and maybe not so great) series. Here's this summer's line-up, so far, not counting movies! Any good ones that you recommend?

Be sure to stop by Doodle Bugs Teaching to find loads of Five for Friday posts where you can catch up with all the news in the teaching blogging world.

July 28, 2016

The Relic

Several years ago I had the pleasure of receiving and reviewing Clark Rich Burbidge's series Giants in the Land. My sixth graders loved these books and were disappointed when the tale ended, so I was excited to hear that Mr. Burbidge has a brand new book/series available. Called The Star Passage Series, the first book is entitled The Relic.

Teenagers Tim and Martie are desperate to end their parents’ downward spiral. Between their father’s PTSD and their mother’s depression, their family has reached a breaking point.
Then an ancient Christmas ornament reveals its secrets, sending the siblings across the centuries on a search for hope. But Tim and Martie aren’t the only ones hunting through time. They’re being watched by dark figures—Trackers doomed to haunt history. These Trackers believe the teens’ ornament is their key to freedom, and they will do whatever it takes to steal it.
What begins as an exciting adventure becomes a deadly race. Can Tim and Martie find the answers they seek before their enemy finds them?....Deep River Books.

Part adventure, part historical fiction, and part inspirational literature, The Relic did not disappoint this middle grades teacher.

Clark Burbidge weaves an alluring tale of the Carson family as they travel through time with the help of a mysterious relic they call the Star of Passage, a large 8 pointed star about the size of an adult's hand. As the tale unfolds, the reader discovers that this is just one relic in a set of six stars from Orion's Belt. The other five stars grant the travelers special powers to aid them on their journeys.

And what journeys they have! The Carson family (Jim, Natalie, Tim, and Martie) meet George Washington at Valley Forge, experience a western wagon train, and travel on the H.M.S. Brittanic Hospital ship during WWI, learning about history while solving family issues and strengthening their values of faith, hope, love, and charity. With the help of the stars, goodly people, and an increasing reliance on prayer they overcome the Trackers, representatives of the power of darkness.

I can not wait to share this book with my students! 

It is a story worth sharing and should be a perfect read aloud for middle grade students. It is a novel suited to discuss the literary element of theme. The clearcut good vs. evil, faith will see you through, among others, makes it especially appealing for use in parochial/Christian schools. Because of its rich historical content it is particularly appropriate for comparing/contrasting with informational texts about the above mentioned events, a learning standard required as part of the Common Core. And finally, the well-crafted plot lends itself to a study of conflict and the elements of rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Burbidge's previous series for this age group, Giants in the Land, and it looks like Star Passage promises to be as good or better!

Click HERE to purchase the Kindle edition.
Click HERE to purchase the hardcopy edition.
Follow the author on Facebook.
Visit The Star Passage website.

I'm linking up with Andrea over at This Literacy Life for her Book Talk Thursday linky. Head on over to see what other books are being featured and to add one of your own.

July 27, 2016

And Then the Sky Exploded

I am an avid reader of middle school and young adult literature. Perhaps it's because of my job as a middle school ELA teacher that I am intrigued by these literary categories, but to be honest: some of the absolute BEST stories are written for fifth through tenth graders! The stories that I enjoy the most for this age group deal with WWII, particularly the Holocaust or the dropping of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombs. Tough issues are tackled head-on with honesty and simplicity. One such book is And Then the Sky Exploded by David L. Poulsen. Scheduled for release by Dundurn Press on Oct. 22, 2016 for Kindle and November 15, 2016, for paperback, I jumped at the chance to read an advance copy, and I was not disappointed in my decision.

While the subject matter of this teen/young adult novel is familiar (the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan) it is looked at in a unique way. Not your typical historical fiction, And Then the Sky Exploded combines a bit of the supernatural (ghosts of the living) with actual history (references to scientists, buildings, events) while the protagonist supplies the narrative of a poignant adventure (traveling to Japan and meeting a survivor). Intrigued? You should be!
“At that exact instant a blinding flash - the light of a thousand, thousand suns - tore apart the sky above the city.  And Yuko's world would never be the same.” 
And Then the Sky Exploded tells the story of ninth grader Christian whose grandfather worked on the Manhattan Project. Originally admiring his grandfather, Christian's feelings change dramatically when he discovers his grandfather had a part in the bombing of Japan resulting in tremendous destruction and loss of life. Via a school field trip to Japan Christian meets a survivor who aids him on his journey to acceptance and healing.

The story unfolds through dual storylines, one Christian's and one the survivor Yuko's. Present action is entwined with past events to build to the climax where the two characters meet in modern Hiroshima. Although I have read numerous accounts of this historical event, from picture books to autobiographies, this technique presents the familiar story in a novel way that makes it distinctive, fresh. It's a piece of literature that deserves to be read and used.

And Then the Sky Exploded contains rich teaching material. Doing a study of genre? This novel provides rich fodder for discussion. Its complex structure will challenge students to identify a definitive genre and force them to provide text evidence to support their choice. Doing a comparative study between fiction and nonfiction? Poulsen's novel contains plenty of historical facts that students can research for authenticity. Teaching plot structure? This is the perfect novel!

Studying characters? The verbal interchanges between the characters are authentic; Poulsen obviously knows teenagers, how they behave and how they speak.
“I turned on the jets. I'm pretty fast when I'm either scared or I think I might score the first touchdown of my football career. When you put the two together I'm a regular Usain Bolt.” 
The only complaint that I have in this arena is that several instances of vulgar language are, in my opinion, dropped into the storyline where they are not needed. Omitting them does not change the storyline, mood, or characters. For this reason I would hesitate to use the actual novel as classroom teaching material, at least for middle school students. However, I would not hesitate to read the book aloud, filtering out the objectionable language. In fact, I am looking forward to sharing this with my junior high students during the coming school year.

To order this intriguing new novel, just click on the book cover above, you'll be glad that you did!

July 25, 2016

Searching with #

If you're like me then you are already getting ready for the new school year. I've been scouring TpT for new products that meet my classroom needs (or are just that cool), and I've been loading up my shopping cart in anticipation of a big sitewide sale (you know it's coming).

Meanwhile, did you know that there are all kinds of fun mini-sales that go on each week over at TpT? You don't have to wait for a huge sale to save big. I've stumbled upon several fun, weekly sales this summer. All of them involve a hashtag!

Want some dollar deals? Visit TpT on Mondays and use #mondaymadness as your search term.

Looking for some half-priced products? On Tuesdays many TpT'ers list two of their items at a 50% discount. Just search for these items using #2fortuesday.

Bundles are the deal of the day on Thursdays. Look for these extra low prices by searching with #thriftythursday.

Have some fun this week and use that # as you shop!

July 19, 2016

July Show and Tell Tuesday

WOWZA! It's already the third Tuesday in July? Where is the time going? In just one month I will be starting inservices for the upcoming school year...sigh!

I am a crazy cat woman! Miss Daisy has been my fur baby for 17 years, a gift from one of my sixers. She loves to have her picture taken as evidenced by the numerous photos of her spread around our home. Poor Lulubelle, who joined our family two years ago, doesn't stay still long enough to frame a shot normally. This fur mama was feeling rather guilty so I gathered the few photos I did have of Lulie, took a few more, and printed them off. I headed off to the Dollar Tree and grabbed three frames.  Below you see the finished product. Yes, yes, Daisy is in some of the photos as well.

I never do anything small, and I never do anything the usual way... or so it seems!

Sitting and watching a new Netflix favorite, "Wentworth" (the Australian equivalent of Orange is the New Black) one sunny, humid evening this past week when CRASH, the entire house shook as if an earthquake had struck! A huge branch (the size of a typical tree) fell on my roof. It is difficult to judge size and proportion from this photo. No wind, no rain, nothing to make it fall, just CRASH! Luckily no one was hurt. The insurance company was great, sending someone out to secure the area and remove the branch. I am just waiting for repairs to be completed and am in discussion with my city about removing the entire tree to prevent anymore sunny day surprises.

Have you seen these cool pencils? Called SPROUTS they contain a seed, a real seed! When the pencil is but a stub, plant it... and VOILA! You have basil or tomatoes or parsley or some other wonder plant! I saw them advertised by Amazon via Facebook, one of those ads in the sidebar. My immediate thought: Awesome Science FUN!!! Of course I clicked on the link to discover a pack of eight pencils cost a tad over eleven dollars. Uh, NO, no matter how cool, just NO! I would need to purchase four packs to supply my class. I decided to give ebAY a try, and boy am I glad that I did! A little over two bucks a pack, my total purchase was a tad over eleven dollars including the shipping. Hmmm, comparison shopping at its best.... LOVE! Love also that these came from Hong Kong because now I can include a little bit of world culture in my classroom with the wonderful foreign language packaging. And a third LOVE... they came pre-sharpened!

I live along the southern shore of Lake Erie in the far north eastern corner of Ohio.  The natural habitat of my area is phenomenal. Simple, beautiful parks are everywhere, one about a mile from my home. The natives, I included, take this treasure for granted, hardly ever venturing to the north coast shore. I decided to make every effort to visit there more frequently this summer.

It just makes me (and obviously my dear friend seen in the photo) smile! Between the ducks, the geese, the swans, and the peacock, not to mention the beautiful surroundings, how could you not enjoy?

Something else that you might enjoy is reading more July Show and Tell posts over at Forever in 5th Grade. It is a great way to keep up with what is happening in the teaching bloggy world and get to know some awesome bloggers!

Since it is Tuesday, you might also like to hop over to Teachers Pay Teachers for #2forTuesday. Use #2forTuesday in the search box to discover loads of wonderful teaching products marked 50% off just for today, Tuesday. Now is a great time to grab some deals for the upcoming school year.

July 12, 2016

#2forTuesday Something Old, Something New

It's time for Two for Tuesday, so you know what that means. Bloggers from all around the teaching bloggy world have selected two of their best teaching products to offer to you today at a 50% discount.

Here's what I've chosed for today's special offer... Something old and something BRAND new! Just click on the product links below the graphic to read more about each item or to download one for yourself.

Be sure to visit Chalk One Up for the Teacher to discover all of the 2 for Tuesday deals for this week or go directly to Teachers Pay Teacher and search using


July 6, 2016

July Winner Wednesday

Today I'm joining Sara J Creations and A Dab of Glue Will Do for their fabulous monthly linky Winner Wednesday. This month for Winner Wednesday you have the opportunity to win my Back to School ELA Bundle, a packet of SIX upper elementary/middle school activities.

Are you looking for FUN and ENGAGING Back to School themed ELA activities to review or introduce key language arts concepts? Look no further! This bundle contains SIX products to help your intermediate students practice identifying parts of speech and kinds of sentences, as well as recognizing fragments, sentences, and run-ons. Included are THREE Zap! games, TWO Mystery Pictures, and ONE pack of Scoot cards. Each item is available separately in my TpT store as well as in this bundle.

First up are three Back to School Zap games... Not sure what ZAP is? Click HERE to read more about it and how it is played. Would you believe that there are nearly EIGHTY Zap games in my TpT Store?

Back to School Zap! Fragments, Run-ons, and Sentences
     Zap is a fun and engaging game to help your students practice mundane skills. This Zap game provides practice with identifying groups of words as either a sentence fragment, as a run-on sentence, or as a complete sentence. Simply click on the product link to read more about it.

Back to School Zap! Kinds of Sentences 
    This Zap game gives students practice with identifying sentences as being declarative, interrogative, imperative, or exclamatory.

Back to School Zap! Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives, and Adverbs
     Learning and identifying the parts of speech can be a real drudge! Zap makes learning this skill FUN!

Also included in the Back to School Bundle are TWO Mystery Pictures. So, what's a mystery picture? Following a key, students match a word's part of speech with its representative color by shading in squares to reveal a mystery picture. The coloring sheet can be projected on a whiteboard for whole group instruction/participation or printed for individual use. This activity aligns with Common Core Standard ELA L.1.

Mystery Picture Schoolhouse
     The parts of speech practiced in this picture are nouns, verbs, adjectives, and conjunctions.

Mystery Picture Apple
     This mystery picture is a bit more challenging than the schoolhouse. With this activity, students practice nearly all of the parts of speech: nouns, vers, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, and interjections.

The last item included in the Back to School Bundle is a scoot game. Basically this is a set of typical task cards; I just designate the pack as a scoot game. GAME sounds so much more inviting than TASK. If you're not sure how to play scoot,you can download the directions HERE along with a set of cards for a math game. You can see my students playing a scoot game in the following video. It's not the one in the bundle, but you get a feel for the activity. Notice how quiet engaged they are.

Back to School Scoot Revising Sentences
     This set of task cards provides practice for students with editing and revising sentences that have a back to school theme. 

On each card is a sentence laced with mistakes in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and/or usage. Students  must write the sentence correctly on their papers before scooting to the next card. What's really fun is that each of the 24 cards contains a QR code; students can use the cards independently, checking their answers.

There you have it! This bundle is PERFECT for those first weeks back to school when upper elementary and middle school students need a refresher on basic skills. Are you ready to take a chance on winning this terrific teaching item? Enter the giveaway in the Rafflecopter below. But hurry! You only have today, Wednesday, to enter! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

When you're finished entering my giveaway, be sure to hop on over to Sara J Creations or A Dab of Glue Will Do to enter more Winner Wednesday giveaways.

July 5, 2016

I Have, Who Has? #2forTuesday

It's that time! Time to link up with Chalk One Up for the Teacher for Two for Tuesday where bloggers from all over the blogging world select two of their TpT products and significantly discount them just for today, Tuesday.

This week I've chosen two I Have, Who Has? games for you. Both are marked 50% off just for today. They are both just one dollar each!

Sometimes called a looping activity, I Have, Who Has? is a fun and engaging activity that provides students with both content area and listening skill practice. 

Students are given a card on which is written an answer followed by a question. They must listen for the question that matches their answer, then read the question on their card for another student to answer. Play continues around the room until all the cards have been read. My students GO WILD for this activity and beg to repeat each game to improve their performance. Beg to do an activity? Definitely, a winner!

Be sure to visit Chalk One Up for the Teacher to discover all of the Two for Tuesday deals for this week or go directly to Teachers Pay Teacher and search using

July 4, 2016

Monday Madness

This deal is over.

I'm joining MANY, TERRIFIC bloggers for a steal of a deal today! We've marked down some of our best selling teaching items to only ONE DOLLAR for just today, the Fourth of July! Check out the terrific teaching products on sale on TpT by searching using #mondaymadness

Here's what I am offering at just ONE DOLLAR today:

Hop on over to Pawsitively Teaching to read more about all kinds of fun deals throughout the week and a HUGE giveaway.

July 3, 2016

July Pinterest Pick 3

I can hardly believe that it is July 3rd already! An entire month of summer break has flown by. It seems like I just posted my June Pinterest Pick 3 pins and it's now time for...

Who doesn't LOVE Pinterest? Such great ideas at your fingertips? My local college is even offering a summer PD class entitled "Pinterest for Educators." College credit to play on use Pinterest? Oh yeah!

For this month's pins I decided to concentrate on "back to school" items. Not actual lessons, per se, but rather the organizing, decorating, getting ideas kinds of pins, all those things that we teachers have already been doing. Here we go...

I don't know about you, but I am always on the look-out for ideas that can make my teaching life easier, cuter, more efficient, etc. There are many super ideas in this first pin to keep a busy teacher happy for time to come. Have fun!

This next pin makes my poor, ole file folder office cubicles look lame. I WANT THESE!!!

So simple! So brilliant! This is one I for sure am doing this coming school year. I have the tension rods already, just sitting in a  box. Time to put them to good use.

There are so many more pins that I would love to be able to share with you as you get your rooms ready for the new school year.  Instead of pinning them here for you, I'll share my board that features all of them. Peruse and pin away!

July 1, 2016

First Five for Friday of July

No. ONE... My poor, sweet furbaby (ha) has been in a grumpy mood lately and will not play with little sis. Little sister gets upset and jumps on sissy which makes Daisy get MAD. Daisy turns around to slap Little Lulie who in turn slaps back. Trouble is, Lulie has eight toes along with eight claws on ALL of her paws. OUCH! Daisy got scratched AGAIN!!!

No. TWO... I have TONS of task cards which were all piled into a single crate. Every darn time that I wanted to use a set I would have to dig through the crate until I located the set that I needed. Of course, it was usually near the bottom! Hopefully, this problem has now been solved. I picked up three different colors of plastic shoe boxes from the Dollar Tree, one color per ELA class that I teach. All the grade five cards are in the red box, the grade six cards are in green boxes, and the grade seven cards are in the blue box.

No. THREE... I made THE MOST DELICIOUS yet SIMPLE dish the other day. While I was cooking the spaghetti I simmered some chopped garlic, crushed red pepper, onion, zucchini, summer squash, and black olives in olive oil and a touch of butter. When the spaghetti was tender, I drained it well, then dumped it in the pan with the veggies to heat through. I smothered it in fresh grated romano cheese. Oh boy... YUM!!! I will make this again!

No. FOUR... We have had the most beautiful sunsets lately. This is just one of many that I have captured on my camera.

No. FIVE... The last time that I joined Kacey on a Five for Friday it was the last day of my school year and I had schlepped home a TON of stuff to work on over break and had dumped it in the spot pictured below. Check out that view on this blog post and compare it to four weeks later. I FINALLY tamed the school mess in my house!

Hurry on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to catch up on all the Five for Friday posts. It is the best way to keep up with all the news in the teaching bloggy world.