Friday, March 28, 2014

Good Day Sunshine!

There isn't much I wouldn't do to soak up a little sunshine right now. But since I'll have to brave a grim 25 degree forecast, I'll have to settle for some virtual sunshine!  I was recently nominated for a Sunshine Blogger Award (thank you Kristen Dembroski) and I'm so excited that this little blog of mine was able to bring a little sunshine to another teacher.  I've been feeling a little blah about blogging lately.  It just seems that I have so many ideas, projects and pictures that are blog-worthy, but absolutely no time at the end of the day to put them into a post.  I think Kristen's Sunshine Award is just the boost I needed to get my blogger groove back on.
So here's the deal...The Sunshine Blogger Award celebrates blogs that – of course – bring a ray of sunshine to the blog community. There are 4 parts to the Sunshine Blogger Award:1. Post 11 random facts about yourself2. Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you3. Nominate 11 bloggers who you think bring sunshine to the world4. Make up 11 questions for your nominees to answer

11 Random Facts about Me:

1- I have my best ideas while swimming laps.  The uninterrupted time in the pool allows my mind to run wild. If I could swim everyday I would. (Not an option with two little ones now!)

2- I eat chocolate chips nearly every morning.  This habit is pretty much the opposite of the rest of my healthy diet, but I find eating chocolate for breakfast seems to nix my sweet tooth for the remainder of the day.  (For more on my unusual breakfast habits see # 4)

3- My sister and I are both adopted from separate families.  People sometimes comment on how alike we look and we just smile and nod.  

4- In our house, we often start our day with techno music (also known in my house as "techno-breakfast").  It is hard to be grumpy or move slow with some good beats playing.  

5- Teaching has ALWAYS been my thing.  I used to play school (or should I say teacher) with neighborhood friends and would regularly assign homework.  They never actually did the homework, which prepared me nicely for dealing with my real students!

6- Hospitals and pretty much all medicine totally freak me out.  I really need to come to grips with this because at some point I'm going to have to face this fear.

7- I don't wash my husband's clothes.  This makes me sound like a terrible wife, but I really hate doing laundry.  I made sure this was in our vows :) 

8- Walking around (with no children) at IKEA is like therapy to me.  I sit down on a couch and relish in the beauty of each organized space.  Then I return home to reality where nothing is neat, organized or thoughtfully decorated.  

9- My DVR is packed with episodes of Person of Interest and Mysteries at the Museum.  I like how Person of Interest focuses on helping people without going overboard with blood and guts.   Mysteries at the Museum reminds me of a great teacher I had in college who told lengthy stories to help students remember historical events.

10- My husband and I have happy hour nearly every day at 5pm.  We stop everything, grab a drink and just talk.  It often only lasts about 15 minutes before our busy life takes back over, but it is just the break we need to relax and reconnect.  

11- I love to read, but I'm embarrassed to say that I seldom take the time to sit down with a book unless I'm on summer break.  By the way, 14 weeks until summer break....but who is counting? 

11 Questions from Kristen Dembroski
1. If you weren’t in the field of Education, which other job would you pursue?Nutrition.  I believe that food is medicine and would love to help people change their lives through wholesome food choices.
2. What is your dream vacation? My dream vacation would involve a 1-year leave of absence from my job, a large RV, my husband, two kids and all 50 states.  Lots of hiking, biking, swimming, snowboarding and sitting around a campfire.   3. What is the best book you’ve ever read?Tough call.  I'd have to say A Short Guide To a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen.  I've read it 100 times and  every time it reminds me to live the way I want to live.

4. What is the most dangerous or bravest thing you’ve ever done?Dangerous and brave really aren't my thing.  Skydiving maybe? 
5. If you had an extra $1,000, how would you spend it?  I have a little over that amount left on my student loans.  Paying them off would be a huge accomplishment.  However, I'd probably use the money to do something fun like travel.   No one ever said on their death bed "I wish I had paid off all those student loans a little sooner."
6. Rank these in order of importance: sleep, food, friends, technology, exercise Sleep, Friends, Exercise, Food, Technology…Now if only I could live by this!  I absolutely need to commit more time to sleep.
7. If you could time travel, which date would you visit?December 25, 2001- I'd like to see my dad just one more time before he passes.  
8. What is the farthest you’ve ever been away from home?I once chaperoned a 10 day school trip to Tianjin, China.  The trip was incredible, but it was exhausting traveling with students so far away from home.   
9. Describe yourself using only 3 words.Grateful, Creative, Industrious 
10. What do you miss most about being a kid?Never worrying.  The older I get the more I worry.  As a child I thought that there was only good in this world and with every passing day I hear more and more of other people's hardships.  I miss that feeling of thinking that nothing bad will ever happen!
11. What would be the hardest for you to give up for a month?It is a tie between my iphone and chocolate.  Both are pretty unnecessary in the grand scheme of things but totally addicting!

11 Bloggers Who Bring Sunshine to the World:

My Questions:
1.  What was your most embarrassing TEACHING moment ever?
2.  If you had an extra 1,000 dollars in your supply budget this year, what would you use it to buy?
3.  Describe a teaching strategy or management trick that works (or worked) in your classroom daily.
4.  What do you believe are three traits of a strong teacher?
5.  How would your most difficult student describe your teaching style?
6.  What do you think your next career will be?
7.  Describe the outfit (and/or include a picture) that you wear most frequently to school.
8.  What blog post are you most proud of?  Include a link!
9.  What advice do you have for new teacher bloggers?
10.  Give three reasons why you sell your original classroom lessons online.
11.  Complete this sentence.  Some people don't know it but I'm______________.
Spread the sunshine folks!  Wishing you all a happy spring.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pinterest Peeps Spring Giveaway

Despite the snow day we had this week and the blistering cold temps, I'm excited to share a huge SPRING giveaway that is going on through March 20th.  Spring has to come sometime!  Tabitha over at FlapJack Educational Resources has reached 10,000 Pinterest followers and is hosting a giveaway to celebrate.  Isn't that incredible?  I'm not surprised considering she has some awesome ideas and an eye for great pins.  There are 80 something bloggers in on this one, so you are sure to find something that matches your grade and subject.  Scroll down to enter my friends…

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 10, 2014

One Lucky Child

I know this isn't about teaching, but it is child-related so I'm thinking a few of my kind followers might be willing to help out.

Celebrate Saint Patrick's Day by making one child feel very LUCKY.  My good friend is adopting a special needs child from China and is fundraising to cover some of the adoption costs.  Any amount helps, but if you donate $25.00 you are entered into a drawing for a chance to win a week stay at this 4 bedroom vacation villa in Kissimmee, Florida.  The raffle ends 3/31/14.

Get inspired here:

Donations can be made with credit card or via check. 

Donate online: 

Donate by check:

As an adopted child myself, I am passionate about supporting my friend in her efforts to adopt a child in need of a loving home.  Thanks for reading and for supporting this amazing cause.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Teachers Pay Teachers Sale I've Been Waiting For!

It is SALE time!  I have at least 10 items on my TpT wish list and now I have a perfect excuse to buy them :)

You are sure to find some quality resources for your classroom by visiting these stores:

English/Language Arts

Tracee Orman:
Danielle Knight:
Addie Williams


Don't forget my store!

Social Studies


Making it as a Middle School Teacher:

Foreign Language

Happy shopping everyone!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Classroom Game: SPOT ON!

It seems like the same kids always raise their hands, carrying the pace of the lesson from one question to the next.  We call on them over and over, hoping the quiet kids and daydreamers might be listening to the answers, but are they? What if ALL students are required to participate?  I've been struggling with this for years and while searching through a box of poker chips (which I usually use for assigning groups) I came up with the idea for a participation GAME where EVERY kid is involved!

Now, the name comes from my slight obsession with British accents so you may choose to change it to something that works for you.  However, my students LOVED saying "Spot On" with an accent....typical 12 year olds they are!

Here is how it worked:

I grouped students in pairs and gave each group of students a set of three different colored chips.  Students placed the chips on their desk, an equal distance between both players.  (As the game became more competitive, my 6th graders added some other rules such as you must keep your hands behind your back while the question is being read.)

Next I shared a multiple-choice question on the whiteboard (PowerPoint would work as well).  I didn't reveal the answers with the question, as I really wanted kids to READ the question and THINK about their own answers before seeing the choices.  Some kids rush and end up making spontaneous guesses, so revealing each part of the question separately seems to slow down their process a bit.

First I showed the question:

Next I showed the question and the answers but not the colored spots:

Last I revealed the colored spots and kids raced against their partner to grab the correct chip on their desk!  Students who believed they had the correct spot held it up for me to see.  I couldn't believe how even my daydreamers were diving for the correct chip on their desk....MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

And yes....I said "SPOT ON" with a ridiculously bad version of a British accent, but my kids totally loved it!

NOTE:  You will need to move the colored spots around for each question, otherwise the kids know which color to grab before the spots are revealed.  I'm sure this was obvious to you, but who knows...maybe you didn't have your morning coffee yet ;)

This game took very little effort to set up (I came up with the idea, set up 5 questions to use throughout my lesson, all over a few sips of coffee before the morning bell rang.)  It allowed me to check understanding throughout my lesson, which targeted the learning goal relating to reading the Periodic Table.  During each round of the game I could informally assess student understanding allowing me to appropriately pace my examples and explanations to meet the needs of the class.  The best part?  EVERY student was engaged!

SO... here I am blogging about it late Friday night hoping it help increase active participation outside the four walls of my classroom.  If you think you might use this idea leave me a COMMENT.  I'd love to hear that my crazy ideas might be useful to some other caffeine-crazed teachers!

Happy Teaching...

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Adoption Fundraiser Contest

This is a quick post about a close friend of mine who is working to raise funds to adopt a child from China.  How amazing is that!  I know that this is not education related, but I figure that at least a few of my readers might be interested in supporting this amazing cause!

Click here to visit my friend's blog and to read about her adoption journey:

Win a week’s stay at this vacation villa in Orlando by making a $50.00 donation to benefit her international adoption through China’s Special Need Program.

All donations are tax deductible and can be made online at: or by check at

Thanks for reading!

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