Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dragonbreath Series by Ursula Vernon

The Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon was not written for me.  The reluctant readers -- typically boys -- love it.  I have very little trouble convincing them to try this series.

Dragonbreath has all sorts of adventures and the books are presented with sections that read more like graphic novels than traditional text.  Since my reluctant readers are often my most reluctant writers, I created a story board for them to plan their stories.  Click here for the free printable story board.

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Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Small Changes

I have been struggling with my blood pressure lately and the new medication isn't working.  My husband suggested that we take the salt shaker off the table. 

What I heard him say was I needed to go through all the cupboards and throw out all the high sodium food and completely change the way we cook and eat.  I panicked.  (I think my blood pressure may have risen.)

My husband reminded me that he suggested just one small change.  I didn't have to redesign my life all at once.

I am learning not to do this in my teaching.  We would adopt a new curriculum or I would see something in someone else's classroom, and I used to feel pressure to throw everything out and start over. 

Now with Pinterest and teacher blogs the amount of great ideas is overwhelming. I want to be a teacher that is constantly improving, but I need to remember to pace myself. 

I have been teaching for twenty-two years and I want to keep teaching awhile longer.  This is a marathon, not a sprint.

What's one small change you would like to try in your teaching this week?
5-Star Blogger

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Quote of the Week & Groundhog Day 2013

"A teacher affects eternity: he can never tell where his influence stops." ~Henry Adams

Update: Please check this post for current Groundhog Predictions information.

Have you visited Groundhog Predictions yet?

My fourth graders and I would love to have you and your students stop by and share your predictions and observations about the weather.
Do you think your area will continue to have winter weather or will you have early spring weather?

Groundhog Predictions 2013 Teachers Pay Teachers
Groundhog Predictions 2013 Teachers Notebook

Have a good week,


Saturday, January 26, 2013

All Things Upper Elementary Link Up

All Things Upper Elementary
A few weeks ago, I found a new collaborative blog called All Things Upper Elementary.  Today they are having their first ever Free for All Linky Party.  I have spent the last hour blog hopping and meeting bloggers that teach the same age range I do.  I also had the opportunity to share Student Designed Experiments.  If you haven't visited this relatively new site, I recommend you check it out.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Student Designed Experiments

For the last several years, I have been spending January and February helping my students get ready for the school science fair.  One of the other teachers puts together a packet of instructions.  Each teacher has their own process for helping students prepare.

The first year I did this project with my students, someone showed me Science Buddies.  The resources for parents, teachers, and students are fabulous and although they have kits for sale, that isn't their primary focus.

If you are preparing your students for a science fair or just looking for some interesting experiments, I encourage you to visit this site.

This year I redid the graphic organizer I have my students use to plan their experiment and record their results.  My Science Experiment Plan is attached as a Google Doc here.

I set a deadline for the first page so I can approve their plans.  The second page is due when their experiments are complete.  The last due date is for the display board and the oral report.
I would love to hear about how you get students ready for a science fair.

Update: I have created a freebie for my Teachers Pay Teachers Store and my Teacher's Notebook Store that contains the forms I use and some directions.
Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Curriculum Updates

This year when I moved grade levels, it gave me an opportunity to review curriculum I had written in the past and update it.  If you previously purchased either of these products through Teachers pay Teachers, you can download the update.  Each of these titles are now available at Teachers Notebook also for $2.00 each.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Heist Society by Ally Carter

The Heist Society series is written by the same author as the Gallagher Girls series.  Middle school girls who read I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd have to Kill You will like this series. 

Kat wants to leave the family business: art theft.  She keeps getting caught up in it anyway.  In the first book, her father is accused of stealing from a mobster and Kat is forced to find the artwork and steal it back.

To find out more about my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Are We All in Sales?

Saturday morning my husband and I each clicked on different links that led us to websites selling something.  I clicked on "Four Signs You Are Having a Heart Attack".  He found "Fatty Foods You Should Never Eat."  Each of us spent several minutes on the sites before we realized we had been duped: the actual information was for sale. Neither of us trusted the site enough to buy what we thought was just another article.

I'm reading a book called To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink.  He proposes that most of us are trying to get people to give up resources in exchange for something.  I don't like thinking that I am in sales, because my image is tainted by the type of experiences my husband and I each had.

Yet every day I try to persuade my students to give me their time and attention for something I feel is valuable. And I have two stores as a freelance curriculum writer where I sell materials I have developed as a teacher. By Daniel Pink's definition, I am in sales.

With these issues in mind, I keep updating my disclosure page.  Visitors should be able to quickly find what they come here for.  If not, I would like to know.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Quote of the Week and Freebie

"Leaders don't convince people to follow them. Leaders walk forward alone and those who want to go down their path decide to follow."

Simon Sinek

If you haven't downloaded Groundhog Predictions 2013, because you don't have a Teachers Pay Teachers or Teachers Notebook account, I saved it as a Google Doc. 

Groundhog Predictions 2013 Teachers Pay Teachers
Groundhog Predictions 2013 Teachers Notebook
Groundhog Predictions 2013 Google Doc
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I'm Guest Blogging Today

I'm excited to be a guest blogger today on Raki's Rad Resources.  My post is called Five Things to Consider When Contacting Parents.  I hope you get a chance to visit Heidi's blog and read it.  I would love to hear other ideas about forming these important professional relationships.
Raki's Rad Resources

Friday, January 18, 2013

Free Arctic Word Sort

Here are some activities to develop vocabulary using Arctic Animals as a theme.  If your students need background information, National Geographic has a collection of short videos.  Just use the search box at the top right corner.  Most videos are just a few minutes long.  I recommend previewing them for your group, because some are graphic.

The Arctic Vocabulary Unit has a word list that may be cut apart into cards.  The next two pages are sorting sheets by number of syllables and parts of speech.  Students can cut and paste the words or write them on the sorting sheets.  The final page lists two poetry forms and a sample of each.

Arctic Word Sort is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers StoreThis activity is also available in my Teachers Notebook Store.

Freebie Fridays

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Scat by Carl Hiaasen

I have to confess that I don't like Carl Hiaasen's books for adults, but I do enjoy his books for 9-12 year olds.  His characters are unusual and the plot is over the top, but I found myself turning the pages quickly to see what happens next.

A teacher disappears on a field trip to a swamp different people have reasons for keeping a secret of one kind or another.  How Hiaasen mixes the events and characters together is entertaining.

Here is a free printable called Elements and Events for students to keep track of important characters and happenings in the plot.
For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, January 14, 2013

More Acts of Kindness

A few years ago I posted my own version of 100 Acts of Kindness.  Several teachers in our building are having their classes keep track of their acts of kindness as we get close to M.L.K. Jr. Day. I wrote a follow up post here.

A colleague of mine who sometimes reads this blog did this with her sixth graders, but for a different purpose.  I am sharing her idea with permission.
Her students were disrespectful to our instructional technology teacher who visits our schools when we have special projects.  She took away all in-class computer access and they had to earn it back by showing 100 acts of kindness.  There were a few stipulations:
1. Everyone had to earn one.
2. Some had to be given by adults.
3. Students couldn't nominate themselves or ask someone else for one.
I hope they learn to value being kind.

Click here to download the four page freebie from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Click here to download the four page freebie from Teacher's Notebook. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Quote of the Week -- January 13, 2013

“An educated person is one who has learned that information almost always turns out to be at best incomplete and very often false, misleading, fictitious, mendacious – just dead wrong.” 

Russell Baker

Have a great week,


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Thank you new followers -- free gift

Yesterday I reached 100 followers.  I thought about doing a giveaway, but I decided that creating a gift for all my friends and followers best represented how I feel right now. 

If you are new to Artistry of Education, I want to share with you my publishing schedule:
Sunday: Quote of the Week
Monday: Whatever is on my mind
Wednesday:  Book Reviews  
Friday: classroom resources like Free Curriculum, Websites, and Writing Prompts

I sometimes write on other days of the week -- especially if I am collaborating with other teacher bloggers on something.

Here is my thank you gift to my friends and followers.  I wrote a lesson using a message in a bottle writing prompt.  It's available in my Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook Stores.

Message in a Bottle at Teachers Notebook

Message in a Bottle at Teachers Pay Teachers

Thanks again for joining me.  I hope I can continue to exchange ideas about teaching with you.

Update: Here is a craftivity that I developed to publish the stories.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Astronomy Resources

If you are teaching astronomy this school year, I highly recommend It is a part of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory. The pictures are amazing! I have had students choose to explore this site in their free time. I know I have barely touched the potential resources on this site.

Besides the pictures, the one part of the site I use every year is the Phases of the Moon Calendar. When I have had my students chart the phases of the moon, we often have cloudy skies here near Seattle, Washington.’s chart is my back up plan.

Here is a copy of my Moon Observation Chart.  Just click on this link to get this freebie.

I recently updated Sun and Shadows Observations in my TpT Store. This packet now contains three more activities.

 Students measure their shadows once in the morning, once in the middle of the day, and once in the afternoon. They will record their measurements and the direction of the shadow for each time. This activity can be repeated during each season. I have attached additional recording sheets with student directions should you wish to do this.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Have You Entered this Giveaway?

Fifth in the Middle is having a giveaway because she now has 100 followers. I offered my 25 Book Reports as one of the prizes. Diane is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card, a pencil sharpener and several other teacher-authors are giving away products.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink

A few summers ago, someone recommended that I read Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future.  He writes about six qualities that are important in today's business and educational worlds: design, story, empathy, symphony, play, and meaning.  Despite our race to improve test scores, I intend to keep including these traits in my teaching.


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

Monday, January 7, 2013

Anxiety and Art

I had a moment this summer when I realized how my fear of what other people think affects everything I do.  I don't think I can begin to describe how every task I do is influenced by other people's expectations (or worse what I think they expect.)

Several weeks ago, I read Seth Godin's post called Anticipation vs. Anxiety.  It caused me to think again how much my teaching is affected by my fears of not reaching perfection.  I don't have time to experience failure in advance. 

I start back to school today, this is a good focus to have.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Quote of the Week and Giveaway

“He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had failed.” - William James

Fifth in the Middle is having a giveaway because she now has 100 followers.  I offered my 25 Book Reports as one of the prizes.  Diane is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card, a pencil sharpener and several other teacher-authors are giving away products.
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