Friday, July 17, 2015

Moving On Up!

Social Studies Friends-

After many years of teaching sixth grade social studies, I am moving up to eighth grade this year and changing schools! Yes, I realize this is a STAAR tested subject! Yes, I realize that I have to move my classroom AGAIN! Yes, I realize that I am going to start from scratch! Call me crazy, but I love a challenge and I am so excited about my new adventure. There are sure to be some changes on my blog as I transition to an "older" group of students and switch my focus to American History. Hopefully some of you will have some great suggestions for my blog.

I just attended a fabulous workshop at my region service center sponsored by LRE (Law Related Education). If you are in Texas and haven't checked out one of their workshops, you are missing out on some great workshops for all grade levels. I especially love their ideas on teaching Celebrate Freedom Week!

Texas Friends- Be sure to check out the Lead4ward website for great resources on unpacking those state standards! 

I am already scoping out SMARTBOARD lessons for U.S. History (since I have one now- yippee) and of course I will be stalking PINTEREST for the latest new ideas for projects and lessons. 

Check back later for the before and after pictures of my new classroom. I have some great ideas (which involves talking my husband into painting) and I can't wait to start the transformation. Enjoy your last few days of summer and remember, change is a catalyst for growth! Let's grow together.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back to Blogging

They say, (not sure who "they" are) that a little confession is good for the soul. So, here goes my best effort at confessing why I haven't posted on my blog for several months. First of all, I love blogging!  In fact, I love it so much that I could literally blog day and night. Therein lies the problem. I simply did not master the art of blogging, running my TpT store, taking a mission trip, getting my son married, graduating another son from medical school and teaching at a brand new school simultaneously while managing to squeeze in some sleep, laundry and stay true to my family and faith. I think "they" call this- biting off more than you can chew! (said in my mother's voice) It's more like- life happens! Of course it doesn't help that my little OCD voice whispers in my ear constantly reminding me of the high expectations (unrealistic goals) that I often set for myself. 

More about my mission trip with Parental Care Ministries in a future blog!

Needless to say, things haven't settled down much and probably never will. So, here I am- back to blogging and I must confess it feels great! I realize now that while feeling a bit over-whelmed with the time management aspect of blogging, I simply have an intrinsic need to share my passion for teaching with others. A lot has happened in the past six months and I promise I won't digress too often- but I will try to catch you up on the major events in the next few weeks. I admit, I am still in awe of the incredible educators who keep me motivated with their up to date blogs and continue to offer such incredible products on TpT. They inspire me to be a better educator and remind me why I love what I do. Wow- confession is good for the soul and so is blogging!

Coming soon- my classroom face lift for 2014-2015.

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Holiday Happiness

Seasons Greetings~
It is hard to believe that one semester is behind us and we are finally enjoying a much needed winter break. Reflecting back over the past few months, I have been blessed to teach in a brand new school with an amazing faculty, staff and students, started a blog and watched one of my former students announce her candidacy for governor of Texas!  I realize now, more than ever how important it is to meet my students where they are, challenge them to strive for excellence, empower them to make a difference in the world and support them when they reach for the stars!  I had so much fun celebrating the holidays with my students in December.  We had incredible performances by our choirs, orchestra, drama and dance departments, my Secret Santa spoiled me rotten, and we had a Fun Friday with Christmas Bingo (with great prizes) and Christmas Karaoke!  My Social Studies classes studied Christmas Around the World! A huge thank you goes out to "Teaching With A Mountain View" for the super fun task cards. I loved that my students not only learned fun facts about Christmas in other countries, but they also reviewed important skills such as compare and contrasting, creating symbols and graphic organizers and categorizing. What a perfect lesson for the end of the semester and the best part is- they were FREE! 

Click to get the your free Christmas Around the World Task Cards!

I love being Nana!
My holiday happiness just keeps getting better by the minute! I have had so many blessings I can't even count them all . . . but, here goes. First of all, my children were able to come home for the holidays (along with my grandsons, age 2 and 8) which means my living room looks like Toys R Us at the moment (but I love it). My oldest son, Cameron received his residency in anesthesiology and will graduate from Medical School on May 24. My youngest son, Chase got engaged on New Year's Eve to his soul-mate, Katie which makes me the mother of the groom!

My snow-buddies!
I just returned from five fabulous days of snow-skiing in Santa Fe, New Mexico with my family and I just found out I will be traveling to Uganda, Africa in February where I will get the opportunity to meet my adopted daughter, Medrine for the first time (more about that later). This is going to be an eventful year! Looks like I had better stay super organized. Any tips for juggling this craziness? 

Looks like I had better start thinking about lesson planning. The second semester is right around the corner. 

Happy New Years,
From my house to yours,

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Great State Plates

I have always loved to travel and some of my favorite childhood memories include family vacations (aka road trips) with my dad at the wheel, mom as co-pilot, and my sisters and I packed in the backseat of the car chanting, are we there yet? We didn't fly anywhere back then, so we took advantage of every opportunity to stop at those silly tourist attractions, roadside parks, Holiday Inns and STUCKEY'S! Of course, dad always missed the exit and my sisters and I would laugh and laugh about how dad always misses the exit (mom didn't think it was funny)! The point is, we loved to buy Stuckey's world famous divinity and shop for rare treasures (aka cheap souvenirs). Some shops featured collectible "State Plates" depicting a map of the state, fun facts and symbols of the state. I never really payed much attention to those plates until now- fast forward to my Social Studies Class/North America Unit/Regions/The United States and I have a flash back. Kids love to make things out of paper plates and I love things that are cheap so, I decided to let my classes use paper plates to create their own souvenir STATE PLATES! Students were assigned a random state (we drew names out of a hat) and then completed a research assignment using the Atlas, the Internet and other resources to find specific facts about their state. They then used the paper plate as a canvas to creatively display their research data and just like that- a GREAT STATE PLATE is born!

My daddy passed away five years ago this month and although I miss him like crazy, I can't help but think of him every time my family takes a road trip. The only difference is- we use GPS and Google Maps, my husband still misses the exits, and we stop at BUC-EE'S- Travel Center. And yes, they have divinity and cheap souvenirs!

Here are a just a few of my favorite souvenir plates~  

See you at Bucee's,
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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Me and My World

Rainy days are always a good excuse to blog (not that I need an excuse) and today it's raining cats and dogs at my house! So, I spent a little time today blog hopping to some of my favorite teacher spots. It always inspires me to see what other teachers are up to and I must admit that it makes me feel a little (well, a lot) guilty that I have been so behind on my post. I really don't have a good excuse other than- life happens. 

My sixth graders are up and running and I am so proud of the way they have adjusted to middle school. We have survived the first fire drills, learning to change classes eight times a day, the lunch line, the pick-up line, conquered combination locks, completed a successful "fun" raiser and yes, we are rockin' the social studies skills!

We started off our year with "Me and My World"-  a fun activity I created to introduce my students to geography and to some of the skills that I want them to master for my class such as; defining the difference between physical and human geography, learning to work in pairs, organizing information, following directions, shading maps and producing a creative project. The finished projects helped me get to know my students better and they make a great bulletin board display for open house. Here are some of my favorites!

Click the link below to download this lesson from my tpt store!

While you are blog hopping today, be sure to check out the new "I Love Clipart" link on my page! It is so much fun to find creative and colorful clip art just for teachers! 

Happy fall!
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Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Madness

It's Interactive Notebook time again! Seems like just yesterday we were setting up last year's INB's. Wow, time flies. Call me crazy, but I just finished covering 113 composition books with clear contact paper for my precious sixth grade social studies students. I know, I know, I am insane! But, seriously for me, it's a labor of love. I realize that some teachers let the students cover them (tried that and wasted lots of paper and class time) and others choose not to cover them at all (personal choice), but it's worth it to me to spend a few hours (four exactly) to protect their colorful cover collages for many years to come. Think of it as preserving history, creating a legacy, or just protecting intellectual property- however you look at it, it just makes for sensational social studies! Students bring magazine pictures from home reflecting geographical, historical, cultural, political or economical themes. We glue the pictures onto the front and back covers of the composition books during one class period (fun day). I use "Con-Tact" brand clear removable paper with a matte sheen to cover them. I purchased mine at Walmart and Target for about $5.per roll. I used about one roll per 25 notebooks. Here are some of my favorite covers so far. Feel free to share these ideas with your students who might need a little inspiration.

My students LOVE working in their Interactive Notebooks! Creating an original cover design allows them to express themselves from a world view perspective, explore and organize ideas and take ownership and pride in their learning. 

Note: I try to collect some old magazines during the summer for students who may not have them at home. Hint: check with your librarian at the end of the school year for old issues that she is about to toss!

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Remind 101

One year ago, I tried a free text-messaging service for teachers that revolutionized the way I communicate with my students and parents. I had always relied totally on written correspondence to get the word out about important events and announcements, but let's face it- the world is texting! I considered using texting, but didn't like the idea of students or parents having my private cell number and I certainly didn't want 120 students responding to my text. Thanks to Pinterest, I found out about Remind101 and my first impression was, "this sounds too good to be true" and "nothing is ever free". I am glad to say that I was wrong!  used it all year with my classes and it worked! The parents loved it and one year later, it is still free! I am thrilled that many of the teachers on my new campus are also hooked on Remind101, which makes me happy, happy, happy! What are you waiting for- start texting and teaching!

Click the link below for a short video about how Remind101 can work for you!
Click Here To Learn More

Until next time- 
Happy texting!
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