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!