Building Each Other Up

        Some of my favorite things about working in a school, networking with other bloggers, teaching different professional development and going to workshops is the chance to meet and work with some  of the best-est teachers on Earth. This is my friend across the hall Mrs. A. She does a math wall each nine-weeks. It literally is her go to for all the important math skills they need to know and takes the place of 20 anchor charts. She doesn't have one white board in her room,  but she makes it work and her students grow by leaps and bounds and she has the data to back that up. Don't forget a cute jingle to help the repetition stick. She laminates the paper at the end of the nine weeks and puts up a fresh sheet. She saves them for the end of the year prep for testing. Yes, you guessed it, those are fraction bars glued up there. 

        Have you ever written a Student Treasures Book for your whole class? This is my writing friend's bulletin board on North Carolina's A-Z Book. Students research and write about some of the most important people, places and things that take place in North Carolina. They also illustrate a letter with those symbols and pictures inside the letter. The whole book can be purchased as a nice souvenir of their 4th grade year. 
           Here's a peek at the third grade awesome- sauce going on down the hall. This is our master bulletin board maker extraordinaire Mrs. D. Her bulletin boards are so funky-fresh and up to date. I'm serious y'all, she keeps them up to date all year. 
        Who doesn't love comparing fairy tales? 
        Whoooooo.... whooooo.... whooooo's peeping some amazing owls? I know I am. These kids and this art teacher blow me away with their artistic abilities. 
        Seriously, can I sign up for a class? 
         Have a fantastic day teacher friends!

More Art

Candy Free Valentines

        Here are a couple printables if you would like to distribute valentines that are candy free. Last year I used oranges for the girls' classes with something along the lines, "Orange you glad we're friends? Happy Valentines Day." This below were valentines from two years ago. I'm sure there are a million ideas on Pinterest, here's a couple more. Click on the links below for a free printable for jump rope or sun glass valentines.

Bubbles:     You have such a bubbly personality, Happy Valentine's Day!
Jump ropes: I love jumping around with you, Happy Valentine's Day! or
                    I hope you have a HOPPY Valentine's Day!
Sunglasses: Your future is so bright, I thought you needed some shades! Happy Valentine's Day!

What are your candy free valentine ideas?

Amazing Artwork Part I

Happy Friday Friends,

        Let me just say, I just want to shout from the rooftop all the great things my colleagues accomplish. For example, teaching six different grade levels a variety of art skills and concepts is no easy task. Seriously, I missed the first half of the year and I asked for permission to show off her students' amazing work. I think she should be so proud. I have been so fortunate to work with two amazing art teachers in my career. The Art program is absolutely needed for children of all ages. I hope legislation in all states continue to find ways to adequately fund these programs.
        I wish I could tell you more about the style of artwork that is represented here, but I'm sorry I cannot. Either way, I hope you enjoy.

PBIS- Dolphin of the Day

     Our school is a PBIS school which basically means we try to encourage appropriate behavior by using research based techniques to redirect students. We use it primarily to prevent as much misbehavior as possible. Different teachers use a variety of techniques that best work for their individual students as well as group rewards for grade levels and our whole school.
     One that we do for our entire school is to recognize a Dolphin of the Day. Each teacher recognizes one student each day and they put their name in a box for a drawing at the end of the day. During the afternoon announcements, the principal calls one student from those kids to display their name on a board by the cafeteria. Here are a few of the documents I created for us to use in our classrooms.
Here is the poster that is by my clipboard in the room. 

Here's how I keep track of who I have selected so I can aim to encourage other kids that might need some redirection.  Also, it helps me to look for the kids that I might not notice as much because they don't talk a lot or misbehave.
Most teachers can just put their student name on a small slip of paper. I have created these for our grade level.  I also like to recognize a small accomplishment on their slip of paper.  You could easily do this reward system for your homeroom class if you didn't use it for the whole school.

     Here are the behavior punch cards we use daily to encourage positive behavior in the classroom. I'm also a huge fan of whole brain teaching and Ron Clark and Hope King and their philosophy on keeping kids engaged. I believe that keeping kids involved and engaged is essential to maintaining a positive learning environment. I'd love to hear what strategies you use in keeping order on your ship?

Christmas Economics

      Last Christmas I had maternity leave with my littlest baby. I totally missed doing this major economics unit with my students as well as my awesome colleagues. I don't want to divulge all the details of this amazing unit because I am hoping she will be able to package it for you in the future. However, here's the skinny.  We began by laying the foundation of economics through interactive lessons.  The fourth grade team created Christmas shops and made several ornaments. The students provided the human and capital resources needed and produced products. They were also paid for their labor. Before Christmas break, students created ads, commercials and used their money to walk from shop to shop and purchase gifts for other people. Again, that's the skinny. I really want her to get this out in the open for you to have all the details on this remarkable, memorable teaching unit. It by far was one of the most memorable moments in my teaching career. Here are a few of the ornaments my class or other classes made. Some were built in a factory and some were specialized labor.

     Santa painted on an oyster shell

     Snowman head on a scallop shell

     Peg board ornament

     Candy-cane reindeer (factory made, assembly line style)

Cinnamon ornaments, these smell amazing.

Ombre' glitter scallop shell ornament

I would say this is my Pinterest fail. Glitter, puzzle piece ornament.

     I love taking time before a holiday or break to work on a creative project.  What meaningful Christmas activities are your favorite to do before break?

Fossil Friday

Happy Fossil Friday,

       Thanks to a wonderful friend who happens to be a fossil enthusiast, we had more than enough fossils to review before our test. The only thing we were missing was a fossilized piece of amber with a mosquito in it or coprolite (fossilized poop).
       Sometimes just looking around and talking to people can not only land you some of the most amazing friends, but wonderful resources to assist you in teaching concepts that are.... prehistoric.
       We also have a wonderful fossil pit in our play ground where students can find shark's teeth. Now, they can find echinoids and fossilized stingray's teeth too. Love what you do! Happy weekend teaching friends.

      You can play this amazing clip from Jurassic World in the background as you investigate these amazing finds from the past. 

When a Picture is Worth More than a Thousand Words

When a Picture is Worth More than a Thousand Words

What is the value of a picture?
What worth does it hold?
Jammed in boxes in the bottom of your closet,
sealed in envelopes never opened.
Filed away till after someone's death,
or maybe laying dormant in some sleeping file on your computer.
Stashed away on a disk inside your camera on the top shelf,
or hidden among thousands on your phone.

What is the value of a picture?
What worth does it hold?
Is it worthless never to be thought of again,
Or does it hold the secrets of the past?

The value is much more than a thousand words.
Pictures capture that one smile, one of fifty smiles for the day.
One smile of thousands per year.
That new tooth smile, toothless smile or jagged teeth smile.
Proud parent smile, happy brother or sister smile.
I wish your grandparents could see you smile,
You are my pride and joy smile.

The value of a picture is more than a thousand words.
More than the thousands of tears that brought us to the place we are today.
The picture that reminds us of who our parents were,
who they are
and who they have helped us to be.
Pictures that reflect the impression of who makes up our personality,
He who has formed us,
Parents that have influenced us,
Friends that have guided us,
Teachers that have encouraged us,
and strangers that have humbled us.

Thousands of words can be spoken around one massive picture,
Looming in a grand room,
Begging the story to be told:
Of when you were five,
I remember when,
That good ol' time,
I'll never forget,
When you were just this big.

But, what happens when those pictures are gone?
What happens when tragedy takes those memories and they have fled?
Fled from your home,
your closets,
your cameras,
your computers,
and slowly your mind.

What happens when you can't remember
exactly anymore
what your child
looked like
coming home from the hospital in that outfit?

What if the words have all left with that picture?
And the memories have already started to fade.
The sadness has filled the void
of all lost things as you slowly realize,
the memories are lost,
the pictures,
and with those,
slowly the words.

They fade into looking at your children now,
Enjoying every minute,
but slowly forgetting...
Forgetting their facial features,
The stormy blue eyes,
just how much hair,
and tiny toes.

So what is the worth of a picture?
I would dare say the worth is something so grand.
So grand,
not only words cannot measure,
a price cannot either.
In lieu of a grandmother's soft hands encouraging you,
Or listening to you with her entire body,
The pictures of her,
those facial features
you hoped to pin point in your children,
And sadness
comes near
when you think of these pictures,
because you know they will not be replaced.
They can't.
Grandma will not be around for pictures,
nor will your children be newborns again.

Pictures tell a story.
In their vastness for a multitude of words,
they share many life times
of families,
and victories.

So capture the moments,
create new memories,
tell your story through pictures
and share your thousands of words.

Time is fleeting,
Memories and moments are whisking away,
Like Cinderella at the ball,
the clock will strike twelve,
there will be a moment where it is too late.

So this picture
of our humble family
is worth more than a thousand words.
The price cannot be obtained.
The photographer will never
understand the magnitude
of what she captured.

Our family,
Our simple, happy family.
What is the value of a picture?
What worth does it hold?
The value is more than a thousand words.
Something so grand.

Photo by GenieLeighPhotography


Thank you Megan!

Three Words... Ahhh MAZ- ING The Walking Classroom

Good Day Mates,

         If you are stopping by to read a little about The Walking Classroom you have jumped onto the right blog. We have had an interesting start to the year to say the least. No complaints, just seems like one of those starts where you can't get a full week in. Have you ever had one of those? Our students participate in some amazing activities provided by our school and county such as; The First Tee Program, Rachel's Challenge and a little hurricane fun brought to you by low pressure storm systems. All these activities are phenomenal, but a full week of instruction would be rockin' awesome.
        Anywho, our recess is near the end of the day. This doesn't necessarily break up the school day, but it's a fun play time for the kids. We have all heard about the benefits of energizers, right? Well, there is an amazing energizer where students still maintain focus on a skill while stretching their little bodies.  I know, I'm killing you with suspense.


         I filled out a grant for The Walking Classroom (which was created by a NC teacher... whoop!) and didn't hear anything for ONE WHOLE YEAR. Practically forgot about the grant. At the end of my tumultuous year last year, I found out on the last week of school I received a grant through quintiles for this amazing program.
         The program is simple. There is a small MP3 player attached to a lanyard with 130 preloaded lessons that range from 12-15 minutes long. They begin with a character education or health lesson for 2 minutes and then a fact filled lesson aligned to your grade level. There are kids who do the teaching, so it's on the kids' level and a teacher interjects great ideas on that topic.
        They sent me a Kit with a student MP3 player and a teacher's manual. I know what you're thinking... I don't use manuals. YES you WILL! It has a brief one page per lesson on prior knowledge vocabulary, probing questions, follow up questions and even a 10 minute quiz.... if you're into that kind of thing. HA!  Say WHAT? Are you serious? YES!
        These past two weeks we have learned all about hurricanes (to introduce us to Matthew making his way up the east coast), summarizing, 1st person/3rd person perspective and biographies. Seriously teachers.... 12-15 minutes, kids are walking, getting exercise, vitamin D, and they enter the class ready for more learning because they feel like they have had a brain break. They have been tricked into thinking that, but they have been learning the whole time. They fell victim to the great Vizzini! You're welcome.

         I'll post more on how I organize these wonderful teaching tools in my classroom soon. Have a great week friends!

Hurricane Matthew

        Good Evening Friends, your grammatically incorrect friend is back and okay.
         I'm writing this with a broken heart. Not so much of a broken heart for our local status after Hurricane Matthew up the east coast of the United States, but a broken heart thinking about our neighbors in countries that would love to be here and have the first world problems we have. 
         Locally, my friends in Florida up to North Carolina are dealing with a tremendous amount of flooding, roads that are washed out, houses damaged, and more. These are all great things to deal with during a Hurricane as it tears up the coast and scatters families and communities until they can come back together. I have worked hard to check on neighbors, widows in our area and other elderly that might need extra help in the aftermath of this natural disaster. 
        Globally, I have been shattered. I have worked closely with groups that have traveled to Haiti. I have great friends and traveled and worked with the orphanages in Saintard, Haiti. I have a deep love for the people of Haiti. I would spend my summers in Haiti if I wouldn't miss my husband so much. The death tolls in Haiti are too much to comprehend. Additionally, the devastation of structures that pale in comparison to our homes here in the US. The pictures are too much to bear. My heart is a fragile one. One that cares for everyone and wants to help anyone in need. 
        Today we traveled eight minutes to our local beach and discovered such a sad find. 

        Do you know what this is? This is speculated to be a Cuban Refugee Raft. After a mild hurricane on the east coast, a refugee raft has washed upon our shores. The craftsmanship of this raft is unbelievable. The flour sacks of the bags are marked with Cuban brands filled with water bottles of air (notice I didn't say empty). There is chicken wire and fencing with more water bottles on the bottom of the boat. There is a rudder made of scrap metal at the rear and it appears there was a mast in the center. 

        My heart just stopped. In the midst of one of the most shameful presidential elections I think I have ever been exposed to... I'm stopped to see something so amazing and sad. The people who fashioned this raft felt that they had no hope whatsoever in their own country they needed to save scraps and make a life raft in hopes of landing and staying in a country for a fresh start. I have never, ever felt in my life that I needed to make a life raft and sail away to a country in treacherous waters. What story could this raft tell? What demise or hope did these people see? 
        As I go to bed with a heavy heart, I am reminded that I am a teacher. The impact that I have or YOU have is greatly underestimated. The twenty-five children I meet on Tuesday morning will be introduced to such brave, creative, hopeful minds that could have created this raft. If you have't checked out NewsELA or ThinkCERCA, they have amazing current events. Search war and peace or the key word refugees. You will be opened up to several kid friendly articles about refugees from Syria, Jewish, European, etc. 

       So as you go your way, think big, think amazing. You are a teacher and a globe changer. You are shaping the minds of children that will make decisions for us in the future. Teach children to be compassionate and kind. They will change the world because you are determined to change the world, one child at a time.