Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Signing Off


Nine and a half months ago there was a knock on my door and someone delivered a message that would alter my life's course forever.  I had a choice at that moment. The news could make me grow bitter, or I could absorb it and let it change me into a more compassionate human being. Each morning when I wake up, I try to choose the latter.

During the school year, several things were in maintenance mode as I struggled to come to terms with what my life was about to become. This blog was one of them, and I wondered what my writing future looked like.

This summer I dove into my mess, determined to find answers and direction. I am figuring out what I need to let go of in this new season and what to hang on to. It was not the summer I planned on, but I was grateful to have time and space to do some self-examination.

A few days ago, I was offered a social media coordinator position for a local Celebrate Recovery group.  This is an opportunity to use what I am learning to help and encourage others.  It is an opportunity to use my pain for something good.  As a result I plan to stop writing regular posts for Artistry of Education and dedicate that time to writing about hope, grace, and freedom in knowing the truth.

I have enjoyed the teacher blogging space for the last six and a half years.  I plan to leave the blog and stores up as resources for a while.  It's time for my writing life to follow my new calling.

Thank you for reading and sharing with me all these years,


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Quote of the Week--August 6, 2017



"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture.  Just get people to stop reading them."

Ray Bradbury

Have a good week,



Sunday, July 30, 2017

Quote of the Week--July 30, 2017



"You don't always win your battles, but it's good to know you fought."


John Greenleaf Whittier

Have a good week,


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Our Mars Colony--Settlers Profile



This year I modified my Settlers unit to incorporate what we learned in science.  Instead of creating a historical colony, we studied the plans for a colony on Mars.  We created a class bulletin board with characters and the setting for our colony.  This became a jumping off point for several writing projects.

To download a graphic organizer to create a settler for any colony, click here.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Quote of the Week--July 23, 2017


"The supreme quality of leadership is integrity."

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Have a good week,




Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Nobody's Princess by Esther Friesner

Esther Friesner imagines the childhood of Helen of Troy.  Helen of Sparta is being trained to be a princess and a bride, but she prefers to learn how to fight and have adventures.

I would recommend this book for girls fifth grade and above.  Our sixth graders learn about ancient cultures and this book would fit perfectly in that unit.



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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Quote of the Week--July 16, 2017



"Let children read whatever they want and then talk about it with them.  If parents and kids can talk together, we won't have as much censorship because we won't have as much fear."

~Judy Blume

This was my philosophy as my stepdaughter was growing up.  I committed to reading whatever she was interested and talking with her about it.  There aren't many topics we haven't discussed over the years.

Have a good week,


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Free Summer Writing Prompt: At the Beach


Five years ago, some unusual debris from a Japanese tsunami washed up on Washington and Oregon coasts.  This prompted my original writing prompt post here.

This year I have been updating many of my writing prompts to make them printable graphic organizers.  "At the Beach" should be a realistic account of what might find at the beach that is unusual. 

To download the "At the Beach" writing prompt, please click here.




Sunday, July 9, 2017

Quote of the Week--July 9, 2017

"Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win."
~Jonathan Kozol

Have a good week,


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Kahoot's Customer Service is Fabulous



This is a completely unsolicited testimonial of my experience using Kahoot in my classroom this year.  I do occasionally write posts for products when people ask me to, but only for something I have actually tried in my classroom. My opinion is always my own.

My students love to play Kahoot.  

I started having them create math quizzes for each other at the end of a unit.  They were hooked.

Tech sites are great when they work, but not all of them are very responsive when something goes wrong.  I am happy to report that Kahoot got back to me every single time with a helpful suggestion.

My students are on 1:1 Chromebooks.  We log into Google for everything.  The problem started when they changed or forgot their passwords and tried to log in again.

The password reset process is an email sent to the account holder's email.  They problem is our district will not let students receive email from anyone outside our district.  (This is a good policy in general, it just made it a challenge to complete this particular project.)

After several emails back and forth to Kahoot, they gave me a work-around that allowed me to control password changes.  I was very impressed with their helpfulness and wanted to give them a shout out.

Now I love Kahoot!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Quote of the Week--July 2, 2017


"Suffer the pain of discipline, or suffer the pain of regret."

~Jim Rohn

(One of my students had this on a tee-shirt and I had to look up the quote.)

Have a good week,


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.)


For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.



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