Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Frank Einstein and the Electro-finger by Jon Scieszka

I'm excited to share the second book in the series which is a mix of science fiction and humor.

Frank Einstein, his best friend Watson, and Klink and Klank the robots compete against T. Edison to unlock the science of energy.  The Electro-finger is a new version of one of Nikola Tesla's inventions that taps into energy anywhere.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Teacher Shortages 2015-2016

Followers and frequent readers might know that I left my classroom at the end of last school year.  My resignation letter didn't go viral, and I'm really okay with that.  I also notice that there has been some backlash from other teachers writing their anti-resignation letters.

Here are some articles I have been reading about the teacher shortage.  I know the reasons why I left the classroom.  I would love to read your respectful comments about this topic.

Where Have All the Teachers Gone? -- NPR, March 4, 2015

What If Our Teacher Shortage is Really a Leadership Shortage? -- Huffington Post, November 4, 2015 

The Real Reasons Behind the U.S. Teacher Shortage -- Washington Post August 24, 2015

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Quote of the Week -- December 27, 2015

"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island."

~Walt Disney

Have a good week,

Friday, December 25, 2015

Plan a New Year Party: Story Problems with Multiplication

A group of friends wants to plan a party.  They need to solve some multiplication problems to make sure they have enough supplies for their guests.

To download New Year Celebration, please click here.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

I loved the first book with these characters.  Calpurnia Tate lives in a time where women are expected to stay home and take care of the house and children.  Calpurnia wants to go to college, but her family doesn't take this seriously.  Between the antics of her brother who loves animals and a cousin who moves into Calpurnia's room, Calpurnia has many problems to solve.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Finding the Reading Level: Book Wizard on

I read and review a book a week for this blog.  Recently another teacher asked me about the reading level for a book I recommended.  I immediately went to and typed in the title to their Book Wizard feature.  I have used this feature for years to help students connect with books. 

Many of you may already know about this great feature.  Scholastic sells many books and they report the reading level using a variety of measures: grade level equivalent, guided reading (A-Z), DRA, and Lexile.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

Quote of the Week -- December 20, 2015

"Many of life's failures are experienced by people who didn't realize how close they were to success when they gave up."
~ Thomas Edison

Have a good week,

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Roscoe Riley Rules by Katherine Applegate

Roscoe Riley really does have a good heart, but he solves problems in a way that creates more problems.  (I'm sure you have met students like this.)  Katherine Applegate explains the world through Roscoe's eyes.  First and second graders will relate to Roscoe and be able to read the books independently.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Six Books for Teaching Early U.S. History

I taught fifth grade for several years and in our state that means teaching U.S. History during colonial times up to writing the Constitution.  I collected a number of books on the topic and here are my favorites.  Five of them I previously reviewed.  Just click on the titles below to get more information.

Night Journeys is about indentured servitude during colonial times.  Peter York wants to escape the family who has adopted him.  He finds two runaway servants and knows he can get a reward for turning them in.  Capturing them leads to complications he did not foresee.

 Chains: Seeds of America by Laurie Halse Anderson

Time-Travel with Exceptional Americans by Rush Limbaugh

King George: What Was His Problem? by Steve Sheinkin

The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin

The Fighting Ground by Avi

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Quote of the Week -- December 13, 2015

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking that they don't have any."

~Alice Walker

Have a good week,

Friday, December 11, 2015

Can Cookies Think? Writing Prompt

Recently I found the book Catch That Cookie by Hallie Durand.  
I was inspired to write some lessons that accompany that book.  Today's freebie is a short writing prompt considering what the gingerbread cookie could be thinking and doing if it came to life.

To download the free Gingerbread Cookie printable, click here.

Happy Friday!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Student Leadership Guide: Free Download

Last year my school wanted to increase the number of leadership opportunities for students.  We decided to try a job board for students.  To download the free printable forms we used, please visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store or my Teacher's Notebook store.

One of the reasons for our success was having an adult sponsor each job.  That gave students connection and accountability with an adult that wasn't their classroom teacher.  Every adult at school was encouraged to sponsor a job, but no one was required to.

Another reason that this was successful was the communication between the classroom teacher and the sponsoring adult.  If a student didn't show up for a job, they would be reminded.  If a student was using a job to get out of classroom responsibilities, the adults would talk.

If you have questions or suggestions, I would love to hear from you in the comments section.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Quote of the Week -- December 6, 2015

"Outlasting the critics feels like it will take a very long time, but you're more patient than they are."
~Seth Godin

Have a good week,

Friday, December 4, 2015

Ornament Grid Picture

I have been creating a series of seasonal grid pictures like the one pictured above.  Each graphic is pictured on three sizes of grid paper: 1 inch, 1/2 inch, and 1/4 inch.  Students can color the squares in a pattern, or use the grid to create patterns within the squares.

(I also find this activity a good stress-management for adults.)

To download Ornament Grid Pictures, click here.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein

Billy is spending the summer at a cabin belonging to Dr. Libris.  Whenever Billy reads a book from Dr. Libris' library, he hears voices as though the characters have come to life.

Chris Grabenstein, the author of Mr. Lemoncello's Library, mixes old and new literary references throughout the plot. 

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Monday, November 30, 2015


If you are reading this, you survived Black Friday.  This is the first year in a long time that I have worked retail the day after Thanksgiving.  I'm taking a year off from teaching to get some perspective on things.  

One of the reasons I became dissatisfied with teaching was the emphasis on test scores.  Teaching had to be data-driven.  We test what we teach and as a result we teach what we test.

What I'm finding out is that happens in the business world as well.  I expected to have sales goals, but I didn't expect to have goals on signing people up for credit, issuing care plans, and remembering to ask people to take our survey at the end of each interaction.  I'm not criticizing the company I work for, because I have learned that every business has these types of goals.  Business is data-driven.  Some much more than others.

I notice that I have a better attitude in both business and educational environments when I focus on the people. "Who did I help today?"  The interactions I have in my store may not bring an immediate sale and all the other measurables.  I'm looking long term.  I want people to want to come back another day when they are ready to make a purchase.

How many times as a teacher have I had a student who struggled with me come back and tell me about their successes?  It may not have shown up on my test scores, but it happened later in the important parts of their lives.  And they came back to tell me because they knew I would want to know.

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