Monday, December 31, 2012

Currently January 2013

Thanks to Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for creating Currently.  It's a great way to learn more about fellow teacher/bloggers.  Visit her blog to learn how to participate.

Happy 2013!

Happy New Year

It's that time of year when I am reflecting on the past and setting new goals.

What are your plans for 2013?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Quote of the Week -- December 30, 2012

“Greatness is frightening.  With it comes responsibility.” ~Seth Godin

Seth Godin from Stop Stealing Dreams Section 35
“Off the hook: Denying opportunities for greatness”
Have a great week,

Friday, December 28, 2012

Groundhog Predictions 2013

My fourth graders would like you and your class to join us in a six week unit of weather predictions and observations.  I have taught this unit several times to intermediate students.  Last year was the first year we started the website.  You can download the lesson plans for free at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

You and your class can follow our project and record your own results at .  Email us at
Freebie Fridays
I was also invited to link up to Teaching is a gift 2013 New Year Link up.  Thank you. 


Monday, December 24, 2012

Do You Believe?

I have a very young fourth grade class.  One girl has spent some of her free time this month writing her letter to Santa.  No one  laughed.  There was a very serious argument about believing or not believing on the playground.
Do your students still believe?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Quote of the Week -- December 23, 2012

“Some people drink from the fountain of knowledge, others just gargle.”

Robert Anthony

Friday, December 21, 2012

Xtra Math & Math Fact Fluency

Have you tried Xtra Math with your students?  I find it an easy way to track my students' progress on mastering their basic facts.  Students can log in at school or at home.  A typical practice session takes 5-10 minutes.  I receive an email each week with a class list and my students' results.


Here is another site where students can practice Math Fact Fluency.

I know I am always looking for ways for students to practice beyond flash cards and timed tests.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist

About a year ago I reviewed Flight of the Phoenix by R. L. LaFevers.  At the time, I looked forward to reading more books in the series. As I have been collecting more titles for my fourth grade students, I got caught up with Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist.  In each episode, he learns more about the mythological creatures he is destined to take care of.  He also learns more about his family -- his missing parents and an evil cousin.


Update June 2014: I made blank printable "trading cards" so students can pretend to be Beastologists.
To see more about my rating scale click here.
Connect with me on Goodreads.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Green and White Today Show Support

I wish I had words of wisdom to share today about violence and moving forward.  All I have are some opportunities to show caring to the staff, students and families at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Some are wearing green and white today which are the school colors.

Sandy Hook Elementary
12 Dickenson Drive
Newton, CT 06482

Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main St.
Newtown, CT 06470

Friday, December 14, 2012

Personification Exercise: Conversation with a Gingerbread House

Personification is where you give a non-living object characteristics of a person.  When people say the dessert is calling their name, they are using personification.

Write a conversation between you and a gingerbread house. 

I used this lesson today to practice dialogue and introduce personification. 

Conversation with a Gingerbread House
By Mary Bauer
"Oh, Gingerbread House,
You taunt me.
You look delicious."
"You want me?
I'm not very good."

"You are."
"Your little sister licked her fingers
all the while she built me."
"Never mind."

"Exercises in Personification" is $3 in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  This product contains five more lessons using personification.
This is also available in my Teachers Notebook Store.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ruby Lu by Lenore Look

This year I changed grade levels from a fifth/sixth to a fourth grade classroom.  I found myself with the challenge of getting books for younger students.  I loved the Alvin Ho series by Lenore Look and I enjoyed Ruby Lu as a main character.
Ruby Lu lives in a Seattle neighborhood not far from me.  Her misunderstandings lead to all sorts of adventures for her and entertainment for readers.


I created a free printable for students to write down a character trait and analyze how that creates problems and solutions. Click here to download.

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kid Quote

One of my students grinned at me last week and announced, "My haters are my motivators."  I don't know if that is original to him, but I love it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Quote of the Week -- December 9, 2012

“Much education today is monumentally ineffective.  All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.”

John W. Gardner
Have a good week,

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Case of the Missing Snowman

You build a snowman and come inside for some cocoa.  While you are warming up, you are looking out the window when you see your snowman come to life.  Write what happens next.

For complete lesson plans using this prompt visit my TpT store for a free download.  Lesson is aligned with Common Core Standards.

Freebie Fridays

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

As many books as I have read for the age group I teach, I had not read any of the books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series until recently.  I have a few students who read several years below the rest of the class.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid is challenging for this group.

I was having a reading conference with one of my students and he was struggling through Dog Days (Book 4)  I was trying to convince him that it wasn't a just right book.  He was determined to change my mind.

Over the next several days, he practiced.  He would come back to me and show me how he was reading more fluently and accurately.  I know this series helped motivate him to work harder.

This isn't the type of book I would pick up and read.  My husband describes the series as for boys by a boy.  (My girls read them, too.)  I did understand the attraction and there are some situations that caused me to laugh loudly.

Here is a printable reading log where students can keep track of the books they have finished and recommend them to others.

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

Monday, December 3, 2012

Keeping it Real

I belong to a Facebook group of teacher bloggers.  Every now and then one of us writes about when our real life intersects with our online life.  Some situations are awkward.

I am glad that I have a couple of teachers who know me in real life read my blog sometimes.  I know it keeps me honest about what my teaching life is really like.  I can't exaggerate or embellish. 

When I post something, I know the chances of it being read in my real life are pretty good.  I won't be embarrassed by what I write.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Quote of the Week -- December 2, 2012

"Pessimism kills the instinct that urges men to struggle against poverty, ignorance and crime, and dries up all the fountains of joy in the world."

Helen Keller

Have a good week,


Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's Here! Winter Holiday Teaching Tips and Freebies

I am excited to be a part of this project for the second year.  Fifty Teachers Pay Teachers sellers have posted special freebies for third to sixth grade classrooms.  You can download your free copy of Winter Holidays Teaching Tips and Freebies and see the resources that are available.

Update: I've already read it cover to cover and downloaded several items to use in my classroom the next three weeks.  I hope you find some great stuff.
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