Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Currently July

I can’t believe that it’s time to link up with Farley again for this month’s Currently!  It feels like summer just started and then I look at our busy July calendar and realize it’s going to be over before I know it!
Currently July

Listening:  My girls are dancers and they still love Dance Moms.  The yelling on this episode is out of control!  I really do think that almost if not all of the fighting is made up for TV.  We stayed on the same floor as the dance moms, the girls, and Abby at a hotel two years ago and they all got along really well.

Loving:  Loft had a huge sale on Friday…50% off the entire store.  I bought a pair of linen jogger pants and Oh. My. Word.  They are the most comfortable pants ever.  I felt like I was wearing pajamas all day!  I was so excited when I got an email that the sale was extended to the next day, so of course I had to go back and get another pair!

These are the pants!
Thinking:  That I am excited for my retreat with my third grade team, we are going to a local resort!  But, I am super bummed that I will be missing all of the Vegas fun.  So, I will be living vicariously through all of your Instagram posts.  I’ve already started making plans to be there next year though!  Vegas 2016!!!

Wanting:  Nothing!  Let me tell you, that is pretty rare for me.  There is usually something that I have my eye on or that I’m working towards.  Right now, I am so content.  My girls just got home from an amazing week at church camp in California, my husband has the week off and has been grilling yummy dinners, and I have gotten back in a great gym routine.  Life is good and my heart is full!

Needing:  We leave at the end of the week for Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s camp in Flagstaff!  It’s so great to get out of the desert heat and to fellowship with other coaches’ wives.  It’s one of the highlights of my summer every year!

All Star:  I would have to say helping.  I have a hard time saying no when people need help with something.  Whether it’s help with something at school, help finishing a craft, help with errands or meals.  Most people know that if they ask, I will do it!

I can’t believe that I got my Currently done so early and I can’t wait to head on over to Farley’s blog and read what everyone else is up to!

Classroom Routines I Can’t Survive Without #1 {Morning Meeting}

Classroom Routines

Each Tuesday for the next several weeks I will be blogging about the classroom routines that I can’t survive without.  My class is very routine.  That doesn’t mean that we aren’t spontaneous or fun, we are.  There are days where a class discussion takes on a life of it’s own and the lesson plan is thrown out the window.  But, for the most part, we have lots of structure and routine.  It’s one of the things that helps my class run smoothly.  My students always know what to be doing and I often joke that I could not show up for school and they wouldn’t even notice, the day would proceed as normal because they know exactly what to do!

This week’s post is all about Morning Meeting.  It’s how we start our morning every day.  I’ve been doing Morning Meeting in my room for 4 years now and I can’t imagine starting my day without it.

Morning Meeting Preview

I think that Morning Meeting is a worthwhile routine for three reasons.

  • Students problem solve and work together to find solutions to classroom issues during the “Status of the Class,” portion of the meeting.

  • Students have the opportunity to share important news…good or bad.  This is such an important part of the meeting.  Students in the past have shared that dad is away on an extended business trip, that both mom and dad are out of town and grandma is staying with them, that mom left for the hospital late last night to have the new baby, or that grandpa passed away and they will be leaving town for the funeral.  This is so helpful for me to know as their teacher.  When parents are out of town, often folders won’t be signed, routines are off at home, and homework may not be getting finished in a timely manner.  When I know these things I can plan ahead, adjust and help the student.  Sometimes the news is great and exciting news.  This is helpful because I know why a student might have some extra energy or might be having a difficult time staying focused.  It also helps students have empathy for one another and be more understanding if someone is having a hard day.  I never require students to share, sharing news is strictly optional.

  • Morning Meetings are student led.  In my classroom we work through a rotating schedule for Morning Meeting leaders.  Students can pass on their turn if they don’t feel comfortable yet, but I always encourage them to try. 
  • During “Status of the Class,” the students determine the topic of conversation.

  • “Goals and Reflection Time,” students are held accountable and they encourage each other as they work toward goals.
  • Last year I had a student who was 10 points away from making the end of the year pizza party for A.R.  He shared at Morning Meeting that his goal was to earn 10 points that week to make the cut off.  His plan was to find as many picture books and small chapter books in his level to quiz on and read during all of free time and every night at home.  The class really rallied behind him…even the kids that where far from making the party.  They helped find him books and cheered for him each time he passed a quiz!  It was an amazing thing to witness!

  • Effective communication skills are vital in our classroom.  My classroom can be a noisy place….mostly good noise I promise!  I love for my students to talk and discuss and Morning Meeting is a great place to learn and practice those skills.  Those skills then transfer over to academic conversations in the classroom.

  • Speaking and listening skills are throughout the grades as part of the Common Core.  Each grade level has standards that can be addressed during Morning Meeting.

Morning Meeting

Here is a picture of my class practicing how to properly shake a hand as our greeting and using gestures to review some of our classroom expectations.

I encourage you to give Morning Meeting a try.  Tweak it to fit your classroom and your needs, there really is no right or wrong.  Your kiddos will love being able to share and feeling loved and listened to! 

Hop on over and grab my Morning Meeting pack on sale today only for 50% off! 

Monday, June 29, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge Week 3

My newest product is posted!  Click on the picture below to check it out!

Masterpiece new

Join me back here tomorrow where I will be sharing more about
Morning Meeting in my series…..

Classroom Routines

Monday Made It {June 29}

Monday Made It 1

Today’s Monday Made It is brought to you by me and my sisters!  This was definitely a joint effort and I love how it turned out.  My sister has 2 little ones and they are a busy family with lots of activities to keep track of.  She will also be going back to work full time this year, so she wanted to make a “Family Command Center,” to help them stay organized.


The chore chart on the bottom was made by my sister in Tennessee.  The two frames in the middle are for meal planning and a to do list.  The calendar on the top was designed by me!  I was so excited to put my creating/designing skills to use to help her.  She wanted a simple design that would coordinate with the papers she picked for the other frames and the colors in her living room.


I made the slide in powerpoint and saved it as a jpeg.  My sister  uploaded it to costco and printed it as a 16 X 20 to fit the frame. I did have to play around with the slide size so that it would fit properly at that large a size!  I love how it turned out and I am motivated to create my own version now! 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge Week 2 {Dare to Dream}

This week’s challenge is all about setting goals and dreaming big.  When I first started this blogging/TpT journey I didn’t have very many expectations.  I have been blessed beyond measure by TpT.  Here in Arizona, as I’m sure is the case in many other places, our salaries have been cut several times.  This past year my paycheck was only $100 more than when I first started teaching.  Since we are a two teacher household those pay cuts hit us hard.  Enter my little TpT store.  Thanks to TpT and all of the incredible people who have bought my products and supported me, my daughters have been able to continue in dance and we have been able to make ends meet.  That is really all I have ever wanted, I am content.

This challenge did get me thinking about the things that I would like to use my TpT earnings for in the future.

Dare to Dream

Home Improvements:  Our house in 15 years old.  We moved in right before  our youngest was born!  We still have the original air conditioning unit, which really is unbelievable since we live in the middle of a desert and it runs constantly throughout our 115 degree summers.  We have been able to do some small things to our house in the last 15 years, but we have hit the point where we are going to need some serious money to do some serious repairs and facelifts.  My goal is for TpT to help shoulder some of that burden!

College Expenses:  This year we will have a sophomore and junior {WHAT?!?!}.  College is around the corner.  They are both on track to hopefully earn some scholarship money, but with two going to college I know there will still be plenty left for us to pay for.  Oh…and I don’t even want to start thinking about the possibility of weddings after that….Yikes.

Family Vacation:  When the girls were little we had a list of places that we wanted them to see.  I have always thought that in order for them to have a healthy world view they needed to experience places outside of our little desert bubble.  I grew up on the east coast and I have always dreamed of taking them back there.  I grew up surrounded by American history and I want them to see and experience it.  I have a new nephew in Tennessee that we haven’t even met yet, and my oldest has been wanting to go on a mission trip for a few years now. 

As I’m typing all of this I realize that these are all first world problems.  I truly am blessed and I never want to lose sight of that.  I have been blessed beyond measure and more than I deserve.  No matter what happens with my TpT business, I will continue to praise God for blessing my little store and to be grateful for all of you that I get to share this journey with!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mindsets in the Classroom {Chapter 9}

Chapter 9

Now that we have learned all about the importance of growth mindset in the classroom and how to teach students, parents and staff about growth mindset, the author shifts her focus to maintaining a growth mindset school culture.

I am blessed to work in a school and with an administration that is as passionate about growth mindset as I am.  My principal and assistant principal embraced the idea and have decided to make it our school theme/focus beginning next year.  How are we incorporating this into our school wide theme?

  • My assistant principal is having posters made for all of our hallways that have growth mindset language on them.  If you google growth mindset quotes or posters there are a ton of examples!
  • We came up with a theme for the year that incorporates a growth mindset message (I can’t share it just yet….sorry).
  • our PLC teams will be focusing on growth mindset
  • My principal invited my husband and I on the leadership retreat in July.  The focus of the retreat will be on growth mindset and how to train our staff and change our school culture.  My husband will be going to speak to the leadership team! {He is an amazing public speaker!}
  • We have already started with some professional development on growth mindset.  There are some amazing videos out there that you can use.  My assistant principal showed us one on “The Power of Yet.”
  • Staff shirts- I haven’t seen the design yet, but the plan was to incorporate our growth mindset theme into our shirts for the year!
  • Each year, my third grade team incorporates our school theme into A.R., our student data folders, our hallway bulletin board, take home folders, etc…  I’ve already started working on what some of those things will look like next year.  Here are our A.R. bookmarks for next year.


They aren’t ready to post yet, but when they are all finished I will let you know if you are interested!

I also plan on remaking our weekly newsletters to include some message to our parents about growth mindset each week. 

I can’t wait to head over to Hello Sunshine and read what some of you plan on doing to maintain a growth mindset!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Five For Friday


This has been a busy week and as I sit down to recap it all I can’t help but be excited about how much got done and all of the great things ahead for next week!

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On Sunday, my husband and I celebrated our 18th anniversary.  It’s hard to believe that much time has passed.  I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us!



Divider 2

On Monday, I drove my husband to the airport.  He spent the week at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes headquarters in Kansas City becoming a 3-Dimensional Coaching certified presenter.  I am excited to see where this public speaking journey takes him!

Monday afternoon I met my friend Cassandra from Mrs. 3rd Grade for lunch!  She is the first blogger I met in “real life,” and I am blessed to call her my friend!




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This week the TpT Seller Challenge started.  If you haven’t joined yet, head over to Third in Hollywood to get all of the details.  It has really motivated me to get some things checked off my to-do list.  Here are my stats from the beginning of the challenge.  I’m excited to see what they will look like at the end!



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The first week’s challenge was Makeover Madness.  I have been wanting to make over some of my earlier products for a while now and this was the perfect motivation to get started.  I gave 2 of my best sellers a much needed face lift and I’m super excited about how they turned out.  If you already own Literal and Non-Literal Meanings make sure you download the revised file.  There are A LOT of changes to that one!




Click on the picture to check them out in my store!


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This week was also full of dance mom responsibilities.  We have recital this weekend and dress rehearsal this evening.  I was running around picking up last minute costume items, dance shoes, and steaming costumes.  Dance keeps us crazy busy and it will be even crazier this year with Pom at the high school added to the mix.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  My girls are learning amazing time management skills, they hang out with a great group of girls, they have something at school to be a part of but they also have strong connections outside of school and they are engaged in a ton of physical activity.  Not to mention how much they are in love with dance.  They will literally dance for 8 hours (between Pom and studio practice) and then come home and dance in their dance room at home.  There are nights I have to tell my 16 year to STOP dancing and get to bed.  People think we are crazy for letting them stay with studio even though they are on the Pom team now, but neither one of my girls is ready to give it up.  So, I will stick it out with them.  I will run all over town getting costumes made and rhinestoned and spending crazy amounts of money on dance shoes.  The window of them being able to dance like this and me being able to be dance mom is getting smaller and I am going to soak up every minute of it.  Dancing makes them happy and they are learning to give their all to something they love. 


Have a blessed Friday friends!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Makeover Madness

I’m joining the amazing ladies at Teach Create Motivate, Third in Hollywood, Peppy Zesty Teacherista and Sparkling in Second Grade for their TpT Seller Challenge.

Week one is all about making over an older product.  I chose one of my best sellers and one of the first products I ever created for TpT. 


I still love the paleontologist and dinosaur clip art, but I wanted to spruce it up a little by adding some cute borders and some update fonts!  My border and font collection has grown by leaps and bounds since I first created this 3 years ago!

So, here is what it looks like now!


If you already own Fossils are Fantastic you can head over to your purchases on TpT and download the revised product!  If you don’t own it yet, now is your chance to grab it on sale for 15% off!  Click HERE to check it out! 

This fun little challenge has motivated me to take a look at some other products that could use a little freshening!  I’ll keep you posted.  In the meantime, head on over to one of the blogs to check out everyone else’s makeovers!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mindsets in the Classroom {Chapter 5}

Book Study Button


This is one of my favorite chapters yet and it really made me think of how my kiddos, specifically some of my gifted kiddos, respond to failure.  This is the population of kiddos who have heard their whole lives  how “smart,” they are and for a lot of gifted kiddos it is important to look “smart” at all costs.  Failure is handled very differently depending on which mindset you have.

Chapter 5 Graphic1

My goal this past year was to get my students to see failure as a lesson and to understand that taking a chance or not getting something right away doesn’t make you a failure.  This quote was from one of my gifted kiddos after a particularly challenging day of problem solving in math.


Walt Disney Quote


“Our goal is to encourage students to internalize the belief that their own actions and behaviors, not external factors, guide them to achievement or failure.” –Mary Cay Ricci

This part of the chapter was very convicting for me.  I have been thinking for a while now that I need to revamp the whole clip chart/prize system thing.  I like being able to reward students for positive things in my classroom but I really want my students to see that accomplishing a task, especially a challenging one, should be a reward in itself. 

It made me think of those times that we play a class game or do something challenging and the question comes up, as it always does, “What do I get if I win?”  I always respond that you get the satisfaction of winning or completing the challenging task, and for some that is enough.  Now I see that those are my kiddos who are in a growth mindset. 

What do you use in your classroom to manage behavior and/or reward students?

So, how can we help our students respond to failure appropriately and see failure as a chance to grow.

Teachers can help students when they make errors by:

  • help students interpret errors as “data,” that will help them
  • ask students what strategies they have used
  • ask students what other strategies they could try

Moving forward, my goals are to reevaluate my behavior management/reward system and to help my students see failure as information to use moving forward.  Lots to think about!

Join us over at Hello Sunshine and link up your thoughts!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mindsets in the Classroom {Chapter 4}

Book Study Photo

Today’s chapter is all about the importance of critical thinking in a growth mindset classroom. 
Chapter 4 Frame

The chapter begins by talking about the 3 types of critical thinking: reasoning, making judgments/decisions, and problem solving.  The author makes a critical distinction between everyday decision making and the type of decision making necessary for critical thinking.  Ricci explains that it’s our job as educators to give our students opportunities for DEEP and CRITICAL thinking, that critical thinking is not a skill that is taught and then they have mastered it.  It is a process of strategies rather than a set of skills. 
I loved the connection the author made to the critical thinking that is embedded in several of the 8 Mathematical Processes.  This immediately made me think of Number Talks.  If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that I am a HUGE fan of Number Talks.  As part of the Number Talk process students must:
  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. (Practice #1)
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively.  (Practice #2)
  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.  (Practice #3)
Another connection I made was to the problem solving that we do in our math journals.  After having time to solve and reason in their journals, I give students time to talk to their peers about how they solved the problem.  This process emphasizes the same three Mathematical Practices.

Grab these Math Journal Prompts free from my store!  Just click on the picture above!
Next year, I plan on continuing with Number Talks and Math Journals.  I also plan on looking into many of the games the author mentioned in the chapter to build reasoning skills.  My friend Heather at Learning with Mrs. Langley just shared the other day that she put together a Donor’s Choose project for some STEM supplies.  That got me thinking, I may put together a project to fund some reasoning games to use to increase critical thinking and help my students learn the importance of perseverance and effort. 

Here are a few of the games:
I can’t wait to read what everyone is thinking after reading chapter 4.  Don’t forget to link up at Hello Sunshine!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What I’m Wearing Wednesday

wearing linky

I’m linking up with  Ideas by Jivey to share what I’ve been wearing.  I may regret sharing this since these favorite shirts of mine sell out pretty quickly as is…..but they are too good to not share!
I have been obsessed with these shirts on jane.com.


I own this blouse in navy, coral, and blush and whenever they are up I grab a new color!


They are the perfect length and I love the lightweight material.  The button on the sleeve and the pleats at the neck make this shirt work perfectly with dress pants for work or jeans for a fun evening out!

The royal blue and kelly green short sleeve shirts are another gem from jane.com called the Ashleigh blouse.  I just picked up another one in pink!  The little puff on the sleeves is so cute!

Ashleigh Blouse

My other obsession is my favorite pair of Kendra Scott earrings.  I have been pairing them with just about everything.  My blush Kendyl blouse, my navy Kendyl blouse, my coral Kendyl blouse…..do you see a trend here!


I haven’t quite gotten the hang of the selfie yet (my teenage daughters would be so embarrassed!) and the color of the earrings is hard to see, so here they are from the website.

Kendra Earrings

That’s what I’m wearing this Wednesday….and this week if I’m being honest….it’s a rainbow of Ashleigh and Kendyl blouses over here!  Friday the royal blue one with my pink Kendra Scott earrings is on the rotation for my fun girls’ night to see Move with Derek and Julianne Hough!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Mindsets in the Classroom {Chapter 3}

Book Study Button

It’s time to link up again for Chapter 3 of Mindsets in the Classroom.   This chapter was a great refresher on some of the training I received when I became the gifted cluster teacher for my grade level.  Teaching gifted children is all about differentiation…teaching all children is all about differentiation in an ideal world.  So what are some ideas that we can take away to help us be responsive teachers who meet the needs of all of our students?
Here is my chapter summary, followed by a few takeaways from each section of the chapter.


In this chapter the author takes us through the steps for planning differentiated and responsive instruction.


For me personally, this is a huge part of my planning process.  Often when  I preassess my students I find that a great deal of them have already mastered the standards….this is especially true in math with my students who are gifted quantitatively.  Preassessing helps me to determine if there are gaps or skills that students are missing before we continue.  Sometimes I will make center activities and small group lessons that center around these skills.  It also helps me determine which skills will need the most practice with during our math rotations.

How do you handle students who have already mastered the standards you will be teaching?


Curriculum Compacting is something that I learned about in my gifted cluster training.  If I am being 100% honest, it is still the thing I struggle with the most.  What to do with the students that compact out while I still need to teach 28 other students. 

I would love to hear from those of you that use curriculum compacting successfully and how you make it work!


Again, in my gifted cluster classroom this is something that is happening often.  I have an extension menu that I created last year to go with the curriculum frameworks we teach first quarter and my goal is to finish making menus for the rest of the quarters this summer.  Here is what my first quarter extension menu looks like.

Extension Menu 1

When I create an extension menu I try to incorporate math, ELA, science and social studies.  I also try to use the multiple intelligences so that students have a variety of ways to express what they have learned.

Do you use extension menus in the classroom?  Would you be willing to share them?  Maybe we can all swap ideas and avoid recreating the wheel!

Another way that I enrich is through the use of Genius Hour!  Once I get Genius Hour started in my classroom, I allow students who are early finishers or who have already mastered something have extra time to work on their Genius Hour project.  You can read all about Genius Hour HERE.

And check out the Genius Hour Starter Pack I created by clicking the pic below!

Genius Hour Starter Pack Slide


For me this part of the chapter was a huge affirmation!  I am the teacher that when the majority of my class does poorly on an assignment, I ask myself where I went wrong.  If they didn’t get it, that is on me.  I need to go back and I need to try it differently.  It drives me C.R.A.Z.Y. when teachers put assignments in the grade book that most of the class did poorly on. 
Here are some of my favorite ways to do formative assessments on my students:
  • Plickers- my kiddos go crazy when I pull out the plicker cards.  The website is super easy to use and I love that I can control everything through the app on my phone!  If you aren’t using Plickers you NEED to check it out!
  • Learning Road Trip- this is Meet Miss Parker’s cute take on fist to five.  I have the posters hanging in the front of my room and we use this often.  I love to use it to get a quick gauge of where they are before we partner up or before I make small groups.  I heard a great idea in a training to snap a quick pic of the number they are holding up so that you can refer back to it when making your small groups!
  • Exit Tickets- I love using short exit tickets, especially after introducing a new concept.  I check them over at night and use them to group kiddos for reteach time and station work.  Here is an example of an exit ticket I used after introducing equivalent fractions.

Equivalent Fractions (first lesson)

Chapter 3 was a great review for me of things learned during training two summers ago. I definitely needed a reminder of the kind of responsive and student centered classroom I want to have.

I hope that you will link up with us as we continue to learn about transforming our classrooms and schools!