Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley

In The Vine Basket by Josanne La Valley, fourteen-year-old Mehrigul has dreams.  She wants to continue to go to school, but her family needs her to sell in the market.  There she meets a woman who admires a vine basket Mehrigul made.  She offers to buy more if Mehrigul will make them.

Mehrigul's mother is depressed and her father discourages her from creating these baskets.  Mehrigul perseveres, because she knows she will be sent away to work in a Chinese factory.





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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Quote of the Week--June 25, 2017


"When people talk, listen completely."

~Ernest Hemingway

Have a good week,


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Earth, Sun, and Moon Freebie


I am in the process of updating my astronomy units in the classroom and in my store.  If you purchased my popular Sun and Shadows activity from my Teachers Pay Teachers store, look for an update soon.
I used the page above for a formative assessment and activity several times during our unit.  I wanted to know what my students knew about the relationship between the earth, the sun, and the moon and how those relationships cause days, nights, seasons, and eclipses.

Students cut out the three circles and demonstrate in partners or small groups the answers to the five questions.  I walked around the groups to note who understood and who didn't.  I had certain groups demonstrate the correct answers for the whole class.

You can download Earth, Sun, and Moon Freebie from my Google Drive here.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Quote of the Week--June 18, 2017



"I have not failed.  I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

~Thomas A. Edison

Have a good week,


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes


Gaby's mother has been deported and her dad moves back into the house to "care" for her.  Gaby writes adoption notices for an animal shelter as a service project, but really wants a cat for herself.

Gaby is a strong character who must handle difficult circumstances.  She finds the will to fight for what she needs and what she wants.



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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Quote of the Week--June 11, 2017

"For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness."

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have a good week,


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Rights, Repsonsibilities, and Privileges Revisited

Words change their meaning.  When I first taught fifth grade, I created this activity for students to look up the meanings of rights, responsibilities, and privileges.  They would brainstorm examples and we would discuss what this would look like in our classroom.

I taught other grade levels for several years and returned to fifth grade this year.  As I was preparing my beginning of the year activities, I realized that how I thought about privilege in the past had changed.

I have updated this lesson to reflect the idea that privilege isn't always something that is earned.  I still call my incentive system "Privileges", but it is with the understanding that privilege has different meanings in different contexts.

To download the new version of Rights, Responsibilities, and Privileges, please visit Artistry of Education @Teachers Pay Teachers.




Sunday, June 4, 2017

Quote of the Week--June 4, 2017


"To add value to others, one must first value others."

~John Maxwell

Have a good week,


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth


I have always admired foster families who give children in trouble a safe place to live while the adults in their lives work out big problems.

Jarrett's mom usually takes in babies, but when a baby has an older brother, Jarrett gets an unwelcome roommate.  The two boys have much to learn about being sort of brothers.




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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Quote of the Week--May 28, 2017




"Don't follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you."

~Margaret Thatcher

Have a good week,



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

My Fidget Rules

We were in the middle of class meeting when a student got out his Silly Putty and started pulling it into long strings.  I asked him to put it away and he responded, "But that's my fidget!"

I said, "Thank you.  You have pushed me to a place where I will now do something about fidgets."

Fidgets are not new in my classroom.  Some students use movement and sensory items to help them stay calm and focused.  The new fidgets are creating distraction and chaos--the opposite of calm and focus.  I didn't want to ban fidgets outright.  I just wanted to return them to their rightful place in my room--in the hands of students who truly need them.

I did some quick research that day and presented my class with the new fidget rules:

1. A fidget is a tool to help you focus during times when you are expected to listen quietly.  It is not a toy.

2. A fidget should be something that no one else notices.  This means it should be silent, small enough to fit in your pocket or in your desk, and not distracting.

3. While using your fidget, you should still be able to look at whomever is speaking.  Remember, a fidget is to help you focus on what is happening.

4.  When a fidget is not in your hand, it should be in your backpack, pocket, or desk.

Now when I see a fidget that doesn't meet these rules, I ask the child to put it away.  If I see it again, I put it away.  I have been fewer problems with fidgets.

To download a free set of fidget rules posters, click here.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Quote of the Week -- May 21, 2017


"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."

~Mark Twain

Have a good week,


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A Song for Bijou by Josh Farrar

Alex Schrader meets Bijou Doucet who recently moved from Haiti after an earthquake.  Alex wants to date her, but Bijou's family doesn't want her to even befriend a boy.

I enjoyed learning about two cultures meeting and connecting.  What I didn't like was the lying the middle school students had to do to keep the adults from knowing what they were up to.  (I know.  I'm such a parent.)


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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Quote of the Week--May 14, 2017

"Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit."

~Moliere

Have a good week,


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Testing 1, 2, 3



I'm a little late this morning with my post...life happens.

There are two versions of each unit test in our math curriculum.  I use one as a pretest and one as a post test.  My students didn't know very much about statistics at the beginning of this unit.  I received a lot of question marks, "I don't know", and "I don't know yet." (Thank you Growth Mindset.)

One student circled the words statistical question on the first page of the test and wrote, "Why is this a thing?"

And then there was the response shown above (edited so you can read it):

"Mountains have gaps and peaks.  More out = outlier.  A cluster of donuts. (Hey, I haven't the faintest idea. :)"

I hope he doesn't answer this way on the SBA this month.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Quote of the Week--May 7, 2017


"The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been."

~Henry Kissinger

Have a good week,


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Basic Operations of Fractions and Decimals Self-Assessment


 This year I am teaching sixth grade math to a group of fifth grade gifted students.  One of the units in our curriculum taught basic operations of fractions and decimals.  It was a cumbersome unit, so I took it apart by skill and made sure my students knew their strengths and weaknesses.

I created this document for students to keep track of their progress throughout the unit.  I would give a pretest, reteach small groups using whiteboards, and then retest to ensure mastery.

To download Basic Operations of Fractions and Decimals Self-Assessment, please click here.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Quote of the Week -- April 30, 2017



"Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future."

Paul Boese

Have a good week,




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I'm on Kidblog: Three Types of Math Problems

I have been using the paid version of Kidblog this year to give my students another platform to publish their writing.  I started with book reviews so that students could share what they were reading with others and get suggestions for a new read.

My Kidblog post about book reviews is here. 

 To download the book review checklist I use with this assignment, click here.

After using them for a few months, Kidblog invited me to write a post about blogging in math.  I wrote three types of problems for my students to solve and discuss online.  You can read about my experiences with blogging in math here.


Overall, I have been pleased with the Kidblog experience.  I have been able to guide my students to better digital citizenship because of the teacher controls they offer.

I am happy to answer any questions you might have about blogging in the classroom.  Ask me anything.




Sunday, April 23, 2017

Quote of the Week -- April 23, 2017



"Reading -- the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay."

William Stryon

Have a good week,



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley


Louisa Brody's Pa is arrested for stealing from the neighbors and Louisa is forced to stay with him until the sheriff can sort things out.  Louisa and her friend Jessamine discover the creature who has actually been taking things from both houses.  Can they convince the judge and sheriff that Pa is innocent?


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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Quote of the Week -- April 16, 2017


"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you."

Louis Smedes

Happy Easter to my Christian readers.

Have a good week,



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Equivalent Expressions Exit Tickets


Here is the third in a series of exit tickets I have created for my fifth graders.  We have been using the district adopted curriculum, but often I need a quick check on a concept to see if they understand it before we move on.

This set of six focuses on using distributive property to create equivalent expressions.  We have already spent time in class reading and drawing models of how distributive property works.  Now I want to know if they can use it.

To download my Equivalent Expressions Exit Tickets that focus on Distributive Property from my Google Drive, click here. All of my math activities come with an answer key.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Quote of the Week -- April 9, 2017


"If you fell down yesterday, stand up today."

~H. G. Wells

Have a good week,


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