Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sparking Student Motivation: Kindness Challenge & Giveaway

Happy Saturday!  This week was a crazy school Monday, early dismissal on Tuesday, no school Wednesday, kindness assembly on Friday.  I had one full day of teaching this week, which makes for some craziness with the end of the marking period fast approaching!  I got through it and I am enjoying a wonderful Saturday on the couch grading papers, writing lesson plans and watching TV!    Today I am linking up with one of my favorite bloggers, Joanne, from Head Over Heals for Teaching for her Sparking Student Motivation party!

Every January at my school is known as Kindness month.  Our school motto is "Obey the Law of Kindness' taken from a Psalm 31:26 (KJV), 'She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness'.  This verse and motto is all over our school.  It is painted on the walls, hung in classrooms, said during the announcements.  It is everywhere!  I love it!  During the month of January, our principal challenges the students to make a strong effort to Obey the Law of Kindness and go out of their way to be kind.  Students, if caught being kind, will earn kindness points with hopes of collecting enough for points for a school wide pizza party!  Teachers tally points in their classroom and every day or every other day transfer them onto large letters that spell ALA. 

Our filled up letters this year!

This year students were also challenged to complete kind tasks outside of school.  They were given a sheet to fill out with what kind deed they completed and they had to have a parent sign it.  These sheets were hung in the hallways for everyone to see!

Kindness done outside of school!

Kindness done outside of school done by one of my students!

On the last day of the kindness challenge, we have a celebration assembly.  We sing, here testimonies and have scripture read.  Each class also votes on a classmate who they feel goes out of their way to be kind to others.  This is not always the most popular kid, but someone who kind to all.  This year they awarded a frist place and a second place in each class.  The race was a close one in my classroom, but I am very proud of the students who were chosen.  My favorite momment of the whole assembly was when the second place winner was announced in my classroom.  This girl is not the most popular person in my class and often gets over looked in class, but she is one of the kindest students.  When they called her name, she was in shock.  She could not believe her classmates chose her.  This student was beaming the rest of the day!

The winners in my classroom! 

We made our goal as a school for the kindness challenge and were rewarded with a school wide pizza party!  This was the highlight of the day for my students!  They enjoyed pizza, juice and fruit snacks!

Pizza always a crowd pleaser!

This was a whole school activity, but I am sure you can modify it for your classroom.  It would be a perfect challenge during Valentine's Day!

I have something that will hopefully motivate YOU!
My dear friend, Jessica, from "Joy in the Journey," and I are celebrating some exciting blogging milestones and are planning a "These Are a Few of Our Favorite Things" GIVEAWAY!

Displaying Favorite Things Giveaway Button.jpg

We're donating our favorite products from our TPT store and a box filled with our favorite things!
Now here's where YOU come it! We'd also like to do a couple of electronic giveaways where the winner will receive some of our blogging friends' FAVORITE PRODUCTS!

If you'd like to donate a product you've made that you love, please fill out the Google form HERE or below:

Thanks so much!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Trying it Tuesday- Week by Week Saving

Happy Snowy Tuesday!  How many of you didn't have school or went home early due to school??  I did!  We had an early release day due to the snow and due to a very long commute I was able to leave extra early!  My principal was practically pushing me out the door!  I felt bad leaving extra early!  I always hate making things difficult for others because I live so far away!

Well, I am proud to say this is my fourth blog post in a row!!!!  I am on a roll!!  I am not sure if the streak will continue, but we can hope!  I am linking up with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for her Tried It Tuesday linky party!  I am linking up with something I am still in the process of trying and will be updating throughout the year!

One of my goals for the year was to save more.  I am terrible with saving money and my current situation does not lend itself to save a lot of money, so I began researching some simple ways to save.  I came across a week by week savings plan.  You start out on the first week saving a dollar and add a dollar to the amount each week.  At the end of the year, you will have saved $1378!!!  I have saved through week three so far!  So far so good!  My biggest problem is not having the cash on hand.

Below is the chart of my savings plan, if you would like a copy of it just click on it!  I am hoping I can keep this goal through the year.  I will be updating throughout the year as to my progress and hopefully I will have saved over a thousand dollars by the end of the year!

Do forget, we still need your help...If you are willing to donate the the giveaway Jessica and I are having, please click here and fill out the google form!  We appreciate your willingness to help!

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Giveaway is Coming...We need your help!

Hello Blogging Buddies!  I hope you have had a wonderful day!  I enjoyed an extra day off relaxing and getting somethings done around the house!  I even finished some grading and lesson planning!

I am excited to announce that a giveaway is coming.  Jessica from Joy in the Journey, who happens to be one of my best friends, and I are planning a super fun giveaway to celebrate blogging milestones!  We are looking for blogging friends to help us!  We are asking you to donate your favorite product that you have made.  This could be the product you use the most in your classroom or the product you like the is your choice!  If you are willing to help us out, please fill out the form below and we will be in contact soon!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

What My Day Looks Like

Hello blogging buddies!  I hope you have had a fantastic Sunday!  I took a two hour nap, which was much needed!  I am excited to have an extra day to rest and get things done!  Does anyone have big plans for tomorrow??

Tonight, I am linking up with Amelia from Where the Wild Things Learn.  She is having a fun linky party right now called A Day Our Way.  I have loved reading about others daily schedule.  

I had a hard time putting a schedule for this together because my schedule is different every day.  Yes, it does make life confusing at times, but I have my cheat sheet hanging up next to my board to remind me.  Here is my schedule broken down by day.

There are two fifth grades in my school and I teach math and science to both classes.  The other teacher teaches reading, language arts and spelling.  We both teach history and bible to our own classes.  We are also responsible for teaching computer and we have an extra special of Spanish each week along with chapel.  

My math block for each class is about 55-60 minutes.  I usually do a whole group lesson and then do some guided and independent practice.  Some days we play math games or rotate through different math centers. 

All of my other periods are 40 minutes long.  For science, I alternate hands on activities with information from the book.  I actually love our science curriculum and so do the kids.  We also watch a lot of videos and sing a lot of songs in science.  I have found a song for pretty much every topic.  The kids love it!

My favorite part of the day is the discussions and reading during bible.  It has been wonderful having the students open up during this part of the day.  We sometimes do bible with the lights off after lunch.  It is a nice calming time of our day.  My students have also been funny with some of the stories we have read and how violent they are!

Well, that is a glimpse at my week.  I can't wait to peek at your schedule!  Have a fantastic night!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sparking Student Motivation: Student to Student Encouragement Cards

Hello Blogging Buddies!  I hope you are enjoying your Saturday.  I am for sure.  My week was a crazy one...I was asked to coach the Varsity Girls Basketball team because their coach was away, which was a step out of my comfort zone.  I ended up having to coach six games this week...three varsity and three JV.  It was intense, but I made it through and rewarded myself with some Chick-fil-a! 

Before I get to my student motivation, I wanted to share some exciting news...I was featured in The Mailbox Feb/Mar Intermediate Edition on their Teacher Talk page!  I was asked to answer the question...'I love when my students...'  It was very exciting to see my name in the magazine!  

Now on to Student Motivation...Today, I am linking up with the fabulous Joanne from Head Over Heals for Teaching.  If you have not checked out her Saturday linky party, check it out.  I always walk away with new ideas! 

Today, I want to talk about something I did with my students over Christmas, but it could be used anytime of the year.  A few years ago, I wanted to do something different with my kids at Christmas.  I was tired of gift exchanges and grab bags, so I developed a card for my students to make for each other.  They would choose another student's name from a bowl and that is who they would make their card for.  Each would do a rough draft and once it was checked they would start their final draft.  The card had them answering four different questions: If they could give their classmate anything what would be, three words to describe their classmate, what they like best about their classmate and something special they would want them to know.  I would let them decorate their card any way they would like.  

Here are some examples of my students Christmas cards from this year.

This was by far my favorite answer to the gift question!

They students took a great deal of time of their cards and were very excited for this project.  Students chose names out of a bowl and some received a friends name and others did not.  It was a challenge for some of them to come up with nice things to say, but I made sure everything was positive in their card.  I was very firm in not letting them switch names.  My class this year also decided to keep their names a secret.  They were very careful to make sure no one would know who they were making a card for.  It was fun!  My favorite part of this project is seeing the kids faces when they read what their classmate wrote.  Some kids keep it in their desk all year and reread it some time to time.  

I created a packet so you have all of the tools to do this activity with your students.  My packet includes various different rough draft and final draft papers.  I also have included templates for different holidays.  This project does not have to be done at a certain holiday, but could be done when students just need some encouragement from each other.  I may do it again towards the end of the year!  You can get this packet for $2 at my TpT store by clicking any of the pictures bellow.  If you do decided to do this with your class, please send me pictures.  I would love to feature them on my blog!  

You can win this packet by playing Pin It to Win It.  Pin any image below and leave me the URL and your email.  I will choose a winner or two tomorrow night.  

Well, I am off to relax some more and possibly grade papers!  I hope you have a fabulous week-end!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sparking Student Motivation- 1 minute recaps

Greetings from a snowy and cold New York!  I am tucked away in my warm house thinking about spring and warm things!  I was blessed with a snow day yesterday!  It was so nice to be able to stay home, catch up on some blog reading, take down Christmas decorations and watch some TV.  It was wonderful!  We did go back to school on Thursday, which made for a one day work week!  It was hard going back, but nice to get into the rhythm of school again!

Today, I am linking up with the fabulous blogger Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching for her Sparking Student Motivation.

Whenever we come back from a long break, my students always want to tell me everything they did.  I decided a few years ago to give my students time to tell the whole class what they did!  I call it One-Minute Recaps!  I give each student one minute to tell the class anything they want!  I usually choose a stick with their name on it and then set the timer.  Sometimes we will do it during morning meetings or we will do it when we have a few minutes throughout the day.  Most students will take the whole time, but some do not.  I don't pressure the kids to do it, but most of the time they want to talk!  I make sure the other students are sitting quietly and they are not aloud to interrupt whoever is speaking.  I also give a one-minute recap, which the students find exciting!  They even told me I could go over the minute when the timer rang!

I am also part of an awesome giveaway with Erin at Learning to Be Awesome!  She has three different giveaways going on through January 13th!  Check it out and enter!

Learning to be Awesome

You should also check out Joanne & Holly's  awesome giveaway!  They have new prizes each day!

Have a great rest of your day!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Blogging Resolutions 2014

Well, I made it though the first day back after break!  My students were surprisingly not to out of control...even with snow coming!  Not sure if school will be had tomorrow, but we will see! 

Today, I am linking up with one of my blogging idols and super stars Diane from Fifth in the Middle.  She is awesome!  I love all of her fabulous ideas and encouragement!  She is having a fun linky party on Blogging Resolutions.  I am usually pretty bad at resolutions, but I figured I would try!

Blog at least once a week is a goal of mine.  I would like it to be more, but I cannot type on the computer and drive my car at the same time!  My commute takes up precious hours of my day, which I would rather be blogging! (This is my second post of the week! We will see if I can keep it up!)

I read many blogs, but I don't comment very often.  I love when people comment on my blog, so I am sure others love comments too!  I would like to make at least one comment on a blog a day!

I often feel like I don't have anything fun or interesting to blog about.  My students always tell me I make class fun.  I need to just get over my self doubt and just blog about what we do in class!  I am sure some one will find it interesting!

Well, I am off to rest and dream of a possible snow day tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Currently January

Happy New Year Blogging Buddies!  I hope you all had a fabulous New Year's Eve.  I am so excited to see where God take me during 2014.  The sky is the limit and I am ready to just let him take me!  I am linking up with Farley for her January Currently!

Listening- Yes...I watch Dance Moms.  It is my guilty pleasure!  I do not like the drama, but I love seeing little kids go after their dreams!

Loving- A new year...I love that God gives us a fresh start each January.  I am excited to see what 2014 has in store for me and for others!

Thinking- There is a snow storm coming and we go back to school tomorrow.  I live an hour and a half from the school and I am hoping I will be able to make it to school!  

Wanting- With coaching basketball, my grading has been put to the side.  I brought a huge pile home with me over break.  I graded a bit, but still have a bit to go!  I wish I had a magic grading fairy to come and finish it all up for me!

Needing- I need to de-clutter my life, especially my bedroom!  I have a hard time getting rid of things, but I just need to bit the bullet and throw things out!

Memory and/or tradition-  My sister and her family live in the Netherlands.  We were able to Skype with her and my nephews at about 1 am on Christmas to watch my nephews open their presents.  It was so much fun!  They are at the perfect age for Christmas and were so excited with each present.  I wish they lived closer, but God has them doing amazing work in the Netherlands.  You can check out their website at

Look at the email I received yesterday!!

Yes, it is true I finally reached 200 followers!  I plan on having a fantastic giveaway in the next week weeks.  Stay tuned!