Welcome to my blog. I see this as a place to reflect on my teaching practices and to share ideas and strategies with other teachers.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Taking Care of Myself

As a teacher, I feel very compelled to take care of others first and to take care of myself last.  After 11 years of teaching, my body had went through quite a change - and not in a good way.  With growing health concerns (blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma, possible sleep apnea, joint pain) and a suggestion from my doctor to see a nutritionist, I decided to take control of my weight by taking better control of what I eat.

I have spent the last year taking ownership of my weight and learning how to be healthy.  I have lost 80 pounds and I want to share how I did it with EVERYONE!!  Here are my stats:

June 2015:
Weight - 213 pounds
Height - 5'3"
Clothing Size - 16 / XL
Bra Size - 40DD
Shoe Size - 8.5
Wedding Ring Size - 6.25

July 2016:
Weight - 133 pounds
Height - 5'3"
Clothing Size - 2 / XS
Bra Size - 34C
Shoe Size - 8
Wedding Ring Size - 5.25


I have lost the weight by making healthier food choices, eating smaller portions, and counting my calories using the FREE MyFitnessPal app on my smartphone.  

I use a food scale or measuring cup to measure EVERYTHING I eat.  I enter my food into my app before I eat to be sure I have enough calories left to eat it.  If I do not have enough calories left, I change the amount or the foods until I find something I do have the calorie budget for.  I have begun sharing my meals on my personal Facebook page with screenshots of my MyFitnessPal food diary.  You can find them by clicking here.  In that Facebook album, I also describe certain products I buy (and why) and how I prepare my foods in the lowest calorie ways.  Disclaimer:  I am not a nutrition expert.  I have found that these products and this strategy works for me (and many of my friends).  However, please read food labels and be sure that they will work for you, also.  

Last, here are some examples of what I eat daily:

·       6 oz of egg whites scrambled, 1 ounce fresh salsa, 2 pieces of bacon
·       a packet of oatmeal (less than 160 calories per packet)
·       1 cup of cream of wheat (prepared with water)
·       a Special K frozen breakfast sandwich
·       Special K cereal with almond milk

Lunch and Dinner
·       3-5 oz. of lean protein (fish fillet cooked with dry seasoning and cooking spray, chicken breast cooked with dry seasonings and cooking spray, 90/10 ground sirloin hamburger steaks with gravy, ham steaks cooked with cooking spray, center cut pork chop cooked with dry seasoning and cooking spray, OR chicken sausages (al fresco is the brand I buy from Walmart)
·       8-10 oz. of low calorie veggies (steamed cabbage, boiled collards, sautéed kale, steamed broccoli, steamed cauliflower, sautéed squash, sautéed zucchini, steamed carrots, no sugar added applesauce, stir fry veggie mixes, green beans, cucumbers in vinegar, or a salad with Skinny Girl dressing and NO cheese or croutons)
·       3-5 oz. of higher calorie veggies/side dishes (mashed potatoes, canned potatoes, pasta salad, sweet potatoes, green peas, butter beans, corn)

I was drinking most of my calories.  I drank my coffee with too much creamer and sugar and I drank way too much sweet tea. So, now I stick to water most of the day.
·       a cup of coffee with sweet 'n low and one tablespoon of creamer (with breakfast)
·       water all day at work (at least 3 big bottles)
·       unsweetened tea with sweet n' low
·       unsweetened lemonade / koolaid with sweet n’ low
·       unsweetened Earl Gray hot tea with sweet n’ low
·       bottled water with zero calorie flavor pouches added

·       light string cheese
·       fresh apple
·       fresh peach
·       fresh strawberries
·       fresh cantaloupe
·       fresh cutie orange
·       ½ cup fresh berries
·       fruit cups in water or juice
·       sugar free jello
·       carrot sticks with skinny girl salad dressing as a dip
·       light n' fit greek yogurt
·       100 calorie packs of popcorn
·       1% Cottage cheese (1/2 cup)
·       half of fresh grapefruit
·       sugar free pickles
        no sugar added applesauce

·       strawberries sweetened with sweet n’ low and light whipped cream
·       sugar free pudding
·       sugar free popsicles
·       sugar free fudgesicles
·       light n’ fit greek yogurt

I hope this information is helpful to LOTS of people.  It has changed my life forever!  I am smaller now that I have ever been!  Good luck!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Math Centers

I have 5 math centers in my classroom.  They are Numbers, Shapes, Graphs, Measurement, and Problem Solving.  I like making each center hands-on and interactive in some way.  I also like to have some recording sheet for each center.  Here is a summary of what I include in each center:

Numbers Center

This center changes the most in my classroom.  Activities include single digit addition and subtraction, place value up to 100, place value up to 1,000, and two digit addition and subtraction.

Some of my favorites from other TPT authors are:

Roll and Add

Roll and Compare

Roll, Build, and Draw

Spin and Add

Spin and Subtract

Shapes Center

For the Shapes center, I give students a picture card from this set:

Then, they cover it with pattern blocks and complete the graph sheet for their recording sheet.

Graphs Center

For this center, I give students a seasonal or themed spinner and corresponding recording sheet.  Students spin the spinner 20 times and record each spin.  Then, they evaluate their graphs and answer a few questions.

Here are some Spin and Graph sets that I have made:

Measurement Center

My Measurement Center includes seasonal or themed picture cards for students to measure and measurement tools.  For my less advanced students, I give them Unifix cubes or a themed ruler 

Problem Solving Center

My problem solving center required some trial and error.  I eventually settled upon these activities:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Daily Morning Meeting and Afternoon Meeting

For the last two years, I have dedicated the first 15-20 minutes of our day to a Morning Meeting and the last 15-20 minutes to an Afternoon Meeting.  This allows us to have a set time to solve common problems, talk about any announcements, and to bond as a classroom community.  I LoVe my Morning and Afternoon Meetings and I will NEVER go back!

Here is a brief description of our morning meeting.

1.  Songs and Dancing - We listen to a few different songs while we sing loudly, shake hands, and hug.  It is a great way to start the day on a positive note.  My favorite song is this one from YouTube.  There are also lots of other great ones on YouTube and from the people who created Conscious Discipline.  "It Starts in the Heart" is my favorite Conscious Discipline CD.

2.  Greetings - We sing and greet each other with a smile, the use of names, and a touch of some sort.  I give options such as:  bear hug, thumb touch, fist bump, pinky hug, handshake, high five, etc.

3.  Schedule and Announcements - I use this part of the meeting to make any announcements that I need to or to discuss changes in our schedule for the day.

4.  Class Problem Solving - I keep a clipboard with notebook paper at the front of the room in a set location.  Students can ask during the day to write things they want to discuss on the clipboard.  I also add things when I feel like we need to discuss them.  During the meeting, I have the student who wrote down a topic discuss it and then I lead them to brainstorm solutions and we make a decision.

5.  Good News - At the beginning of the year, I assign students one day each week to share their good news. This helps to keep the daily meeting short.  During this part of the meeting, the assigned students can share one item of good news.  The other student are taught to be good listeners and ask questions.

6.  Wish You Well - Finally, we list the students who are absent and wish them well with a song.

At the end of the day, we wrap up with an Afternoon meeting.  Here is a brief description of our Afternoon meeting.

1.  Songs and Dancing - We listen to a fun song and dance our way to the rug for our afternoon meeting.  I use this song from YouTube.

2.  Daily Reflection - We list things that we did well and things we would like to work on.

2.  Kindness Report - One of the class jobs in my classroom is Kindness Recorder.  That person writes down kind things that they notice all day long.  At this point in the Afternoon meeting, this person reads the list of people who were kind and what they did that was kind.

3.  Goodbye Song - Finally, we sing our Goodbye Song.  This is also a song I found on YouTube.  You can find it here.  I love that it is the same tune as the Morning Song!

I hope this is helpful!  Are there any components that you add to your Morning or Afternoon meeting?  Please share!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Writing Process Status of the Class Tracking Chart AND Writing Goals Chart

For our writing block each day, we have a quick mini-lesson and then work through the writing process in response to a weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) writing project/prompt.  I keep track of how students are making progress with this Status of the Class tracking chart.

You can find the FREE chart in my TPT store by clicking here.

I decided to make an illustrated version of this chart so that non-readers and struggling readers could better be able to tell independently what the steps in the writing process are.  This version of the chart can be found in my TPT store by clicking here.

In conjunction with this new chart, I wanted a way to make students accountable for the goals we talk about during our writing conferences, so I made a writing conference binder with dividers between each child and anecdotal notes pages.  Then, I made a Writing Goal Chart. The teacher and student work together to choose an appropriate writing goal based on their writing conference.  The student puts a labeled clothespin on the appropriate goal.  Then, the goal can be revisited at each conference and changed when it has been met consistently.  The chart can be adapted for different grade levels by selecting the goals most appropriate for your age group of students and using only those.

You can find this goal chart in my TPT store by clicking here.

Book Character Costume - Big Chicken!

For Halloween this year, our school invited teachers to dress up as storybook characters.  I choose to dress as one of the chickens from the book Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski.  I dress inspiration from these pictures I found on Pinterest:  

Chicken 1          
Chicken 2            

I made the costume with a white dress/bathing suit cover up from Goodwill (about $3).  I bought about 12 white feather boas from the Dollar Tree (about $12) and hot glued them in zig zags across the front and across the back.  I used two bags of hot glue sticks from the Dollar Tree ($2).  

My chicken feet were made from yellow rubber kitchen gloves stuffed with paper and slid over flat shoes I already had.  The kitchen gloves were from the Dollar Tree, also ($1).

The chicken headband was made from two devil headbands I bought at a Family Dollar store ($2).  I cut the horns off of both headbands, glued a piece of plastic perpendicular to the original headband, and then hot glued the horns back onto the perpendicular please of plastic.  

I bought a chicken beak from a local party supply store ($4).

I wore a pair of gold tights I already had and a wide black belt I already had.  

My kids and coworkers loved it!  


It was a lot of fun to dress up as a Big Chicken!  The kids wanted to rub me.  They wanted to touch the feathers and the feet.  I shed feathers all day and the kids were collecting them in their pockets!  I have two students with special needs who were both especially enthralled by the costume.  I gave one boy the feet to take home and the other will get my headband!  

In hindsight, I wish I would have only put feathers up to my waist (or used a skirt instead of a dress).  I also wish I would have made a felt mask with an attached beak (like this one) instead of using a store bought one.  Since the store bought one covered my nose and mouth, it was hard to breathe and I couldn't wear it for longer than a couple of minutes at a time.

I must have shed more than I thought!   At the end of the day, I had a surprise in my mailbox:

What was your Halloween costume this year?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Classroom Transition Songs and Chants

For the upcoming school year, I have been working to add more songs and chants into our school day to make our transitions more fun!  The following songs and chants were gathered from the Internet.  None of them are my own creation.  I tried to include a link to my source.  There are a couple for which I do not know the original source.  If you happen to know the original source, please post in comments and I will fix it!  I hope these are helpful!

Rug Time Song
Sing to the tune of "Shortnin' Bread"

Everybody have a seat, have a seat, have a seat,
Everybody have a seat on the floor.
Not on the ceiling, not on the door...
Everybody have a seat on the floor.
(Repeat 2 times)

Recess Song
Sing to the tune of Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush”

Here we go out to play with friends,
Play with friends, play with friends,
Here we go out to play with friends,
At recess time today.
We'll play nicely with our friends,
With our friends, with our friends,
We'll play nicely with our friends,
At recess time today.

Reading Workshop Transition Song
Sing to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”

Clap, Clap, Clap and Stop!
It’s time to move once more.
Carefully, carefully, carefully, carefully!
Activities galore!

(Repeat 2 times)

Waiting Song
Sing to the tune of “Frere Jacques”

I am waiting, I am waiting
For my friends, for my friends
To get ready, to get ready
So we can begin, so we can begin

(Repeat until ready)

Hallway Song

Doo Wah Diddy
Here we go just a walking down the hall,
Singing doo wah diddy, diddy, dum diddy doo
Hands at our sides and standing straight and tall
Singing doo wah diddy, diddy, dum diddy doo.
We look good-We look good
We look fine-We look fine
Here we go in our line

Lunch Time Song

I see a bunch
Who is hungry for lunch
From a sandwich to spaghetti
Please get in line
And get ready to dine
Because we’re hungry and we’re ready
For lunch

Library Song

It’s time to go to library
Where they have books galore!
From mystery to history
You’ll find what you’re looking for!

Music Song

Music soothes the soul
Beethoven to Rock and Roll
Please line up with things in order
Music Folder and Recorder

P.E. Song

People who are really smart
Know to take care of their heart
Exercise is the thing to do
Learn to be a good sport, too.
Sound off:  shoes on
Sound off:  line up
Sound off:  P.E.
Let’s go!
Have fun!

Art Song

It’s __(day)__ and it’s time for art.
Please line up and get set to start!
Wear your art shirt if your project’s messy
Can’t wait to see what it will be
Boom! Boom!

Computer Lab Song

It’s time for the computer lab
log on - to see
what lesson will it be
learning’s fun in the computer lab

Science Song
sing to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”

S - C - I - E - NCE
Science is so fun for me
Matter and Animals
Weather, too
I hope you like them as much as I do
S - C - I - E - NCE
Science is so fun for me!

Social Studies Song

Let’s learn some his-to-ry
Learn the way things used to be
Regions, capitals, and states
So-cial studies
Don’t be late!

Clean Up Song

Clean Up
Everybody Clean up
Clean Up
Everybody Clean Up
Time to clean up

Pick UP
Everybody Pick up
Pick Up
Everybody pick up
Time to pick up

Pick up the toys
Put them away
Pick up the blocks
Put them away
Pick up the books
Put them away
Put your things away

Barney’s Clean Up Song

Now it’s time to put away
Everything that we took out
When the place is nice and clean
It makes us feel so proud

We always clean up
Clean up
Show we really care
We always clean up
Clean up
Because we like to do our share

After we have had our fun
Playtime’s coming to an end
We sure know it helps a lot
If we can all pitch in

We always clean up
Clean up
Show we really care
We always clean up
Clean up
Because we like to do our share

We always clean up
Clean up
Show we really care
We always clean up
Clean up
Because we like to do our share

Yes, We like to do our share!

Writing Song
Sing to the tune of “Frosty the Snowman”

Let’s write a story,
It is writing time again,
It will be fun writing sentences today,
Oh, I can’t wait to begin...

So, let’s write a story,
It is easy and it’s fun,
There are great ideas in all of us,
And we’ll share them one by one!
Goodbye Song
Sing to the tune of “Day-O”

Day O, Day - Ay - Ay O
We had fun but it’s time to go home
Day! We say Day Ay - Ay O
We had fun but it’s time to go home
Work all day until the afternoon comes
We had fun but it’s time to go home
Read a book and we run in the sun
We had fun but it’s time to go home
Come everybody, tell me about your day
We had fun but it’s time to go home
Tomorrow will be another very special day
We had fun but it’s time to go home
Six steps, seven steps, eight steps out
We had fun but it’s time to go home
We leave our school and then we shout
We had fun but it’s time to go home
Day! We say Day- Ay- Ay O
We had fun but it’s time to go home
Day!  We say day, we say day, we say day-o
A beautiful day, a happy time
We had fun but it’s time to go home
We sang some songs and we some rhymes
We had fun but it’s time to go home
Six steps, seven steps, eight steps out
We had fun but it’s time to go home
We leave our school and then we shout
We had fun but it’s time to go home
Day!  We Say Day-Ay-Ay-O
We had fun but it’s time to go home
Day!  We say day, we say day, we say day-o
We had fun but it’s time to go home
Day O Day O
We had fun but it’s time to go home
Day-O Day-O
We had fun but it’s time to go home
We had fun but it’s time to go home
We had fun but it’s time to go home