Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Who Needs Markerboards?

Write right on the table.
Use a clorox wipe to clean it all up.
Why worry about passing out those heavy marker boards when you can just write straight on the desk/table/window/floor?  Try it!  It's easy.   Make sure you are using dry erase markers.  Erase with old socks, tissues, dryer sheets, paper towels, etc.  Then when you're finished working, clean with a clorox wipe.  All done!  Back to normal:  so fresh and so clean!  :)
**If your floor has a wax finish you may not want to try that...custodians may get very angry and you ALWAYS want them to be on your side!

All clean...just like new! 
Mark on.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

And the Crowd Cheers....

Wooohooo!  My very first blog award!
The Liebster Award.  

Thanks to Cortney over at Once Upon a Substitute!  Head over to her blog to check out her free President's Day packet,  her AWESOME  reading web idea, and her free exit ticket and password printables to name a few highlights.

 Is it normal to be this excited about getting your first award????????  It's amazing what you can get by offering up Kool-Aid.  LOL 

A Little Tidbit
This award is given to blogs with less than 200 followers and passed from Blogger to Blogger, each hand picked by the previous recipient. It originated in Germany and means dearest or beloved, and Liebe is the word for love. <3
Rules for Excepting
• Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
• Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
• Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
• Present the Liebster Blog Award to blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed.
• Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.

My <3 Heart <3 Goes Out To:

 This awesome blog, Loose Shoelaces, definitely gets my heart!!  She has recently posted a set of math vocabulary cards that are AWESOME!  

SCREECH....Okay, so I have been searching and searching.  I can't find more blogs that don't already have the award or have fewer than 200 followers.  I'm going to have to look into this further and get back to you with the rest of the results.  

Until then....Love on.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Come One, Come All...Drink my Kool-Aid!

So, I've been blogging now for over a month and have been keeping up with my posts pretty well (at least I think so). I have had over 3,500 hits to my blog, but I only have 13 followers. Awesome followers I might add! But, how do I get more followers? Anyone have any good advice?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sentence Variety: 5Ws & H

After reading through paper, after paper, after paper in preparation for the infamous fifth grade writing test next week, we found that our kids were having some serious issues with sentence variety.  Not only the length of sentences, but how the sentences started: He...he...he....he....he.  (I'm DEFINITELY NOT laughing!!)  We did another Beth Estill inspired lesson to brush up as a quick reminder. I took the sentence 'Susan danced blissfully down the hall because she was so happy' and wrote it on chart paper and color coded it with marker according to our big triangles.   Then, we switched the sentence around using different 5W and H beginnings.  The kids came up and color coded with the smelly markers (my kids LOVE the smelly markers...they seem to be much smarter and willing to participate with marker in hand). Afterwards, they did their own sentences at their desks. This is a great way to use those 5Ws & H triangles from the Show Me Wallet I showed on a previous post.  Great little formative assessment.  Here is what to do:

1.  Pass out the sentences that were copied onto card stock paper and cut up. 
2.  Have the students create a complete sentence with the four pieces they've been given.  Make sure they know that the capital letter and the punctuation do not HAVE to be in their normal place. 
3.  Have them pair-share their sentences. 
4.  Have student take out their Show Me Wallet 5Ws and an H pieces. 
5.  Have students label their sentences with the appropriate triangles. 
6. Let them pair up and correct each other's sentences first.  Let them make changes if needed.
7.  Have them switch the sentence up again.  Repeat.

Switch on.

Only Kind of Problems I Have are Word Problems!

Word Problem Posters and simple handout....Click here for free posters and handout.  The picture on the left is the handout, I put each column on its own poster as well.  Enjoy!

 Post on.


This Saturday we debuted the new  FIFTH GRADE WRITING BOOT CAMP at our school. It's not the first time that a Saturday writing event has happened, but it's the first time it's happened like this!  :) It was open to all fifth graders on yes....I didn't type it wrong've got it...SATURDAY! I teach in a uniform school where the kids are only allowed to wear sneakers every day. Let me tell you just how badly that kills my girls. If most of them had one fashion wish each day, it would be to be able to wear their boots to school. get them vamped up for the writing test that will be taking place in seven schools days....they were allowed to come to school on Saturday in regular street clothes and their BOOTS!!!! It's not at all what it sounds. We weren't strapping them down and making them do push ups when they gave wrong answers, nor did we cram more information down their throats in a last minute cram session. Instead we ate a yummy breakfast and then broke into four rotations that focus on what seem to be pretty weak areas across the board:

 Station 1: Who is the subject of my land? (Subjects and Predicates)
Station 2: Positively Pronouns
Station 3: "Jokes!" exclaimed Mrs. Hager
Station 4: Here and There, their, and there.

We all had so much fun.  The kids said it was worth coming to school on a Saturday, so you know it had to be fun!  I'd go so far as to say that we "stomped" it! 

Stomp on.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Posting Plurals

In preparation for the writing test, plurals is the topic of the day. Here's a simple way to practice plurals with your kids that costs only cents. What you will need:

1. Sentence strips
2. Markers
3. List of nouns that follow the rules.

What you do:

1. Write the noun on the sentence strip.
2. Fold the right hand corner to cover up whatever gets taken away on the reform of the word.
3. Write the new ending that makes the word plural.

See pictures below!
Before the flaps are folded down.
After the flaps are folded down (minus the first one).

You could even have your children make their own. You really can use any type of paper and any noun! Simple and cheap!

Make on.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Ever blabberized? If not, click on the video below. It's free and very simple! All you need is a computer, microphone, image and something to talk about. The kids and adults get a kick out of watching the mouth move. Create a good luck message for your kids at test time. Do a quick hook....a review...whatever you want. Have your kids do a Who am I. Get creative. Here's a little message from little ol' me:

Here is an example of what one of my students did on Stonewall Jackson.

Go to BLABBERIZE to check it out.  How could you use blabberize? Leave a comment and let us know.

Blab on.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Writing From the Heart!

While following other teacher blogs (Runde's Room specifically), I came across a great site that has added a little pizzazz to my writing block.  Create hearts, spirals, and waves in your writing by going to this site.  All you have to do is have your students choose which type of text layout they want (up in the right hand corner), type their papers in the box, and then click the layout text button.  The program will open up whatever was typed in the box, as a pdf, in the shape that they chose.  It's AMAZING...and FREE! Only bad's limited to 1000 characters, so the papers can't be too long.  Here is what they look like when they are completed:


Type on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Such a cheap and AWESOME game.  Made in minutes for next to nothing!  All you need are some library sleeves and a piece of posterboard.  As you can see from mine, it has gotten a lot of wear and tear...but clearly it is LOVED by all.  It's the type of game that you can use for anything and the smartest kids may or may not win.  I divide my class into two groups (you could, of course, do more).  You need a score keeper too.  I ask team A a question.  If they get it right, they get one point and go pull a card.  They have to follow the directions on the card.  The cards vary from being blank to having to ZAP the other team (which means the other team loses ALL of their points).  If they do not get the question right, the same question gets asked to the other team and they have an opportunity to get an extra point.  You can change up the rules to work best for you, but I promise your kids will eat this up!  Click here for the 3x5 cards that go in the library sleeves and for homemade sleeves.

ZAP on!

***Remember that you can click on the link above for already made cards to go into the pockets.

This game has been a hit on pinterest, and I have seen quite a few people ask what else is on the cards so here it is if you just want to write them on index cards:
 ZAP other team
 Switch scores with the other team
Add two points to your team score
ZAP both teams
Add to points to the other team's score
ZAP your team
ZAP the other team (second time)
Subtract two points from your team's score
Both scores stay the same
Add two points to the other team
I leave the rest of the cards blank (which means nothing happens)

Show Me Wallet

For years, my children have been writing on whiteboards and we've played the "1,2,3...Show Me" game.  I've always liked it, and so have they, but there are always the kids that keep peeking and changing their answers to what they see on someone else's board.  This "Show Me Wallet" keeps them from being able to peak!  I love it!  Props to Beth Estill (again).  She gave us the idea of the "Show Me Wallet".  I've taken her idea and put it on steroids.  You can use these bad boys in any subject.  Click here for all the documents to download.  All you have to do is get some cardstock of different colors and do some serious photocopying and laminating.  These are great for test review, or a quick formative assessment!  Enjoy!

Show on.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hands in the Air, Touch Your Toes

While I'm on the topic of games, I thought I'd share another simple oldie, but goodie with y'all.  It's great to use for free time and it's also great when you have been teaching for too long and the kids just need to get up and move.  I often use it as a break during tests, rainy days, and after morning meeting.  It really gets their blood flowing.  It's kind of like Simon Says, but requires even less thinking.   So here it is....

1.  You are the caller and the person that determines whether the students are out or not.  (You of course can get a student to do this if they are mature enough or innocent enough)

2.  You say, "Hands in the Air."  The students all put their hands straight up, high in the air.  Then you say, "Touch your Toes."  The students all bend down and touch their toes (I have them bend down at the waste).  You call this back and forth, and forth and back, and back back and forth forth, trying to trick them.

3.  If the students even FLINCH, they are out and have to go sit in their seat.

4.  Continue on with students still in the game.  The game is over when all of the students are out.

You will find that they get REALLY good at it and you have to be really, really fast at calling it out and switching them up.  I find that sometimes I have to actually look the kid in the eye and call the same thing twice really fast to be able to get them out.  Eventually they will all be out.  You'd be amazed how quickly they get out, but also how much they love playing this game.  They will be begging to do it over and over again.  I often use this game to bribe them to work!  Whatever works! 

Play, and let me know how it worked.  

Play on.

Kings and Queens

Have you ever gotten stopped in the hallway and your kids automatically think that you have become deaf and blind?  Here is the SIMPLEST game for the kids to play quietly while you chat with the principal, run to the restroom, talk to another teacher, etc.  I've tried it on first grade through fifth grade and it works!  (You have to sell it to your fifth graders...but it can be done...I do it with mine!)

                                 KINGS AND QUEENS

1.  The children are all lined up in the hallway.  You tell them that you are looking for the child who is standing up the straightest, hands down to the side, and silent.  You pick one child and they become the KING or QUEEN depending on their gender.

2.  They step out of line and stand in the middle of the hallway.  They look for the next child who they think is the quietest, standing the tallest, etc.  They go and tap that child on the shoulder (no words are exchanged) and then that kid is the new KING OR QUEEN (according to gender) who gets to come out in the middle of the hall and find the next person of royalty.
3.  Continue, until you are ready to move on in the hallway.  Whichever child was the last chosen before it's time to quit, gets to be the king or queen the next game you play.

I know some of you might be non-believers.  Play it with the kids a couple of times, run by you.  You'll be amazed just how much they really dig this SIMPLE, SIMPLE game.  It then becomes common place and everyone will be impressed with how quietly your children are standing in the hall, while you take care of business.  Try it and come back and leave me comments about how it worked for you and your kids. 

P.S.  This is also a great game for those of you who line your kids up to take them to the bathroom. 

Game on.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Simple Truth

This is semi-sad...but oh, so true.  As I post my travels on facebook, my friends all comment on how easy my life must be.  My mother does think I'm a teaching genius.  With all the budget cuts going on, the suits obviously think that we have nothing but time to waste.  My kids do think I'm evil some days.  I believe that I'm the best teacher I can be (most days).  And the sad part is....the last picture is pretty realistic...that stack is the stack of five paragraph essays sitting on my kidney table.  I remember the good old days, when I didn't teach to a test and the kids actually explored and taught themselves with a little direction from me.  Oh, and I also remember the day when we could actually discipline children without worrying about being sued.  Ah, the good ol' days.  I have faith that it'll come back around.  Until then, I'll just keep on joking and laughing with my kids...and shoving info down their throats all the while.

Push on.

All SORTS of fun!

After going to the writing professional development a couple of weeks ago, I have found that my kids absolutely love to do sorts.  Who knew?  They are really enjoying the open sort, trying to figure out how I intended for the cards to be sorted.  They have made a lot of good connections and I've learned a thing or two about the sorts we have done so far.

In honor of my kids, I have created three sorts on things that we'll be covering over the next two weeks.  Just copy them on card stock, cute 'em up, and stick 'em in a baggie.  Here are sorts on subject verb agreement, double negatives, and complete or incomplete sentences.  Simple, yet powerful stuff. Check back for more.  I'll be working on the this weekend.  FOLLOW ME and enjoy! :)

Sort on.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Are you looking for a cheap and fast way to give your kids Valentines?  You've come to the right place.  Here is an easy template for quick valentines. Download and just change the name!

If you weren't looking for valentine's, maybe you were looking for a cheap gift for your kids?  A Valentine's homework pass....Click Here

I have a couple of other ideas from last year's Vday in my classroom, BUT, they are on my school computer.  Check back tomorrow for updates.  Enjoy the freebies!

Love on.

Study Jams

We're doing fractions right now: adding and subtracting mixed numbers with unlike denominators.  I have some kids that just don't get the concept of fractions.  I decided the other day to go back, AGAIN, and do some foundation work.  I looked through all my stuff from fourth grade and came across one of my faves....Scholastic Study Jams

I absolutely love them.  Unfortunately there aren't very many of them, but the ones they have are great!  Water Cycle, Solids, Liquids, and Gases, Fractions, and Determining the Missing Operation are the four they have up and running.  Study Jams are similar to Brain Pop and Brain Pop, Jr..   Do you know about them?  If you don't, check them out as well.  Brain Pop has so many great videos on a bajillion kids are huge fans. 

Watch on. :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Like I said in an earlier post, our Standards of Learning Writing Test is coming up at the beginning of March.  Our kids are expected to write a paper that is organized, elaborated, displays voice, word choice, and uses decent mechanics.  Easy enough?  HA!  The first writing test in Virginia is in fifth grade, which means....most kids haven't written since second grade, before they started taking SOLS.  Most students come to us not even being able to write a paragraph.  Needless to say, we have our work cut out for us!

Right now, we're in the middle of a hardcore review session.  Today's lesson:  brainstorming.   Taken from Beth Estill's Writing Professional Development my teammates and I attended recently, we played a little brainstorming game today.  I thought I'd share.  The kids had a blast.  You can of course tweak this to whatever brainstorming model you use (4 square, bubble maps, outlines, whatever).

Here's what happens:  Put the kids into groups of four.  You give each of the four kids a different topic on a different color sheet of paper.   See Beth Estill's example:

Top box is the main idea.  Next level down (1st box) are reasons to support the topic.  Second and third boxes are supporting details.  The long box at the bottom is a closing sentence.

Round 1:  Today, I gave each kid one to two minutes to fill in ONE box.  Then they switch clockwise.  (If they had the pink paper first, now they have the blue)  Round 2:  Give them some time to read what the person before them put. Then start again:  one to two minutes to fill in ONE more box. Switch. Round 3, 4, 5, etc. You continue this over and over, until the all four papers are completely filled out.  Give them a few minutes at the end to revise their brainstorming.  I let them decide which one was the best and then share it with the whole class on the document camera.  Here are some more pics....

Write on...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


So, I've been sitting here, catching up on my DVR homework (I call it homework because my husband and I share a trash shows fill it up quickly and in order to keep him happy, I must do my nightly watching while I search the internet). I have been looking at other teacher's blogs and I'm...jealous. I have no children, but I can't find the time to blog like I would like to. I learn amazing things every day, do amazing things every day, have amazing stories to tell every day...yet, nope....not time to blog. Hmmmmm. I'm really going to try and work on that.

On to what this blog is really about...

My school does a bookclub for 3rd through 5th grade families once a month. My fellow fifth grade teachers and I run the fifth grade book club.  We just finished up the book Waiting for Normal, by Leslie Connor.  AMAZING BOOK!  It's about a little girl named Addie who has, in my eyes, a terrible mother.  It goes through this little girl's trials and tribulations.  I don't really want to give much of the book away because you truly have to read it yourself.  It's definitely an adult and kid friendly book.  This book renders  a lot of discussion, but depending upon your "clientele" this may really hit home with some kids.  Sad to think that there are kids out there that go through what Addie has to go through, but in real life...some go through even worse.  This book really brought our families together.

We like to have our families do some sort of project type activity when we finish, just like we have the kids do in school.  This time, Mrs. Efird, came up with the idea to do a brown bag project.  In Waiting for Normal, the author continuously refers to Addie's brown paper bag suitcase.  We gave each family a brown paper bag and had them create a new cover for the book on the front; they were to decorate the rest with scenes from the book, characters, symbols, etc.  Then they were to look around the room and "pack" their bag with what they think Addie would take with her.  At the end, each kid presented their bag.  We had a blast.  Here are some of the bags.  

Cute, eh? Sooooo....we finished up with Waiting for Normal and we're moving on to Phantom Tollboth, by Norton Juster.  It was one of my favorite books growing up.  I'm pretty excited about reading it again.  I only hope it is as good as I remember.  Our families will have read through page 127 of the book by the next time we meet.  Kicker:  We're meeting the night before our writing Standards of Learning test.  We need things to be fun and light.  So, for our next Book Club in March we've decided to do a "SWEET" project! Have you ever seen the "Peeps Show" that the Washington Post puts on every year?  Peep! Peep! Peep!

We're going to create our own Peeps Show with dioramas of scenes from the book. We're going to let them get started that night and take them home to finish.   I can't wait to see what they come up with!!

Read on, Peeps.  LOL

Sunday, February 5, 2012

World Math's Day

Do your children have a hard time learning their math facts? Do your children enjoy practicing their facts? If you answered yes to either or both of those questions, World Math's Day is the answer for you! Every year our school signs up to participate, along with 5.5 million other children around the world, in the challenge to increase excitement about math! Try it. I promise you won't hate it. In fact, I'm pretty sure you'll love it. Here's what happens...
1. You go to the webpage and register your students.
2. You give them their username and password.
3. They create their own avatar.
3. They practice their facts, in a race against time, with children in other schools and classrooms around the world. GO CHECK IT OUT....IT'S AWESOME and the kids LOVE IT!

P.S. Sometimes, depending on the time of day, the kids end up going against each other. Be prepared for them to get super excited!