Monday, January 15, 2018

Achieve Your Goals: Create a Vision Board

What's your dream? 
As teachers we tend to keep our focus on others.... students, teammates, kids, husband, families.  Caregiving is what we do and caretakers are what we are.
But are we carving out time to take care of ourselves?
How would you describe your relationship with yourself? 
Through the years I have learned that my most important relationships are with myself and my Maker. I have discovered that I am most content and satisfied with my life when I am contributing, but I can't give what I don't have. I need to fill myself up so I can pour out onto others. 
  Becoming the best version of ME helps me become a better contributor.   
My word of 2018 is

The idea was sprouted from this piece of scripture: 

I don't believe I was meant to just survive year after year, I believe I was meant to thrive. 
I was not given breath to just grow...God's intention is that I BLOOM. 

 Creating a vision board is a powerful practice that will help me project and visualize my dreams and goals for the new year.
Visualizing is an amazingly powerful practice.  Highly successful people swear by it. 
It can be a game changer in achieving your goals.  
"Seeing" your future as you wish it to be and declaring it as "done" can go a long way to making it happen. The creation of a vision board and it's daily reminders fill you with the fuel to take massive action towards the goals you set. 
Goal getters don't just allow life to happen to them...they know what they want and they go get it

So my vision board depicts the life I want to live, the one that God says I deserve. 
I choose not to fill mine with pictures of material possessions, rather I include images of what I want my life to look like, what I want it to feel like. 
I pick images that evoke feeling within me...feelings that will move me into action. 
My board is a reflection of my dreams related to my job, finances, health, fitness, spirituality and relationships.

The creation of it is an important part of the process. So if you are going to make one, don't just slap some pictures on a board and call it done.  Take time to enjoy the process. 
Find a place to work that is uncluttered and uplifting, light a candle, turn on some music. 

Gather pictures you have taken that remind you of where you want to go and who you want to be.  
Cut them out of magazines or find them on the internet. 
Let these images remind you of all you have been blessed with. 
Thank God for all that he has given you in your life. 
Speak to Him your desires for 2018. 
Ask for His strength and guidance in achieving them. 

Creating your vision board doesn't need to be costly. 
I simply use a cheap cork board I bought from Target. I covered it with material from Hobby Lobby. 

I gathered my photos, pictures and inspirational sayings and worked on arranging them on my board. 

Don't overthink the process. 

Limiting the number of items I add to the board helps me to keep things simple.
I like leaving some blank spaces allows me to add on as the year goes by. 

I will hang this in my office where I can be reminded of the life I am creating for myself. 
So how about you? 
What are your dreams for 2018?  How do you work towards achieving them? 
I would love to hear!
Comment or email me at 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Show Me the Money Skills : Counting Coins and Making Change

Show me the money! 
I can't say that enough to my third graders. They have been struggling with their accuracy when counting a collection of coins. There is no taking shortcuts when working with this skill.  I find they are much more successful when they show the money by drawing it and adding it.  We practice the counting on strategy too, but when faced with problems on tests (especially on the computer), I require them to use this alternative approach. 

Can we talk a minute about how crazy hard the money standards and problems are these days? 
The example above is actually easy compared to something like this: 

Or how about this: 

These multistep problems are the ones our third graders are supposed to be able to solve by the end of the year.  
Needless to say, we have some practicing to do! 
I'm running guided math groups several days a week which gives me an opportunity to squeeze in more practice of skills we have already covered. 
If we leave it for too long, they'll forget it!
Playing games takes the drudgery out of it and can make the practice fun. 
Here is one that we like called "Packing Lunch". This game comes with a set of lunch food cards. 
Kids draw two cards and place it in their lunch bag.  Then they figure out how much change they would get back if they paid with a $5.00.  The person who has saved the most money wins the round. 

They like playing it and seeing what lunches they get to pack.
I like seeing them cross those pesky zeroes when they do the subtraction problem. 
Another skill we can never practice enough!

I've uploaded a file with a bunch of money practice pages and games that I like using with my kids.
It's now in my TPT store. 
You can check here if interested in using it with your third graders. 
Click the link below. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

FREE Martin Luther King Jr. Poem, Questions and Writing Activity

Hello Friends!
It just kind of hit me that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is literally right around the corner!  I wanted to jump on and share a free file with you.  It contains a poem about Martin Luther King Jr. along with a set of questions. I like having my students cut the paper in half and add the poem to their poetry journal.  Then they create a meaningful illustration or visualization for it. 

Sometimes I like partnering up my students for the questions.  They sit back to back as they answer them.  Then they turn around and compare their answers.  They spend time defending or justifying their answers and "coaching" each other as they check their work together. 

There is also a writing activity in which students brainstorm how we can make our school and our world better places.   I have the kindest and sweetest kids imaginable.  I can't wait to see what they come up with!

Click the link below if you are interested in using these materials with your students.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

21st Century Learning and Essential Skills

Image result for 21st century comics
OH, Calvin! Actually, he may have a point. According to the World Forum Economic Report: New Vision for Education, employers are suggesting that there may be a gap between what students are learning and what they need to learn in order to make it in today's workforce. Some are questioning if our schools today are doing enough to equip our young people with the skills needed to thrive and contribute in the 21st century workplace. 

The three R's may no longer cut it. Along with a good reading, writing, and arithmetic foundation, our young people may need more experience with the three C's: collaboration, communication and creativity.  We are living in a rapidly changing world. Employers are looking to hire people who are curious, flexible thinkers and good problem solvers. 

Third graders are naturally curious, talkative and creative sorts. They are never more engaged than when they are working on some sort of problem solving project with one another. 

I'm trying to hold myself accountable for giving them weekly, if not daily, opportunities to explore their creativity as they collaborate and communicate with others through problem solving situations, projects or activities.  

I've created a set of posters that highlight these four skills. They serve as a reminder of the importance of developing these traits. We refer to them all the time in so many different subject areas. 

I've added this set to my TPT store if anyone else is interested in using it. 

Are you working on ways to incorporate the 21st Century Learning Skills in your classroom? 
I would love to hear how it is going for you!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Let it Snow! A Writing Activity

We've been off from school for the last four days but looks like temperatures are on the rise and we'll be heading back tomorrow. I can't can be tough coming back after a break. To make it easier, I like having plans ready to go and I always pick something that will be fun for me to teach and that my third graders will enjoy working on.  I'm sure my kids will want to tell me all about their little snow vacation so we will spend time sharing what we did on our snow days using this writing project. 
We will start day one with brainstorming. 
Here students will brain dump all the possible fun things you can do on a snow day. 

Looks a bit different from what mine would look like....binge watching The Crown, lounging on the couch, eating snacks, searching pinterest, drinking hot beverages, etc, etc.....
HMM...maybe it's a good thing this break is over!

The next step is to further plan out their writing by using a sequence flow chart. They will draw their visualization and add a verb to tell what they did first, second, third, etc. 

One of our reading goals has been to be able to read and comprehend procedural texts. We have read a bunch of "How To's": craft directions and recipes.  We will set this writing up using a procedural text format.  They will write an introduction, list the materials needed for a fun snow day, then write directions for someone to follow.  

I will  have them design a pair of paper boots for an art activity.  It is amazing how creative third graders are...each pair will be unique. 
Click the link below if you are interested in trying out this lesson with your kiddos. 

Enjoy your time with your students!  Have a great week!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Making Inferences: What's My Teacher Been Up To?

Ready or we go! 
The calendar has been turned to January. It's time to think about getting back into the classroom. 
I will begin 2018 by teaching the very important, but difficult reading skill of making inferences. 
This is a tricky skill and I know my kids (and myself) will be struggling to deal with being back at school after our break. A couple of years ago I came up with an introductory lesson for the skill of Making Inferences. It will be perfect for our first day back. It is a fun activity that I call, " What's My Teacher Been Up To?"  It is a great one to use on the first week back from winter break, but can also be used any time of the year.  
I prep and prepare a number of "evidence" bags that contain clues about what I spent my Winter break doing. 

Inside each bag are clues that tell one of the things I did during my days off.  Students work in a small group to evaluate the clues and connect them to make an inference. 

I added multiple clues to each bag. One had a ticket to a museum I visited, a map of the metro we took to get there, and a photograph of my son in front of one of the exhibits. 

Receipts make good clues.  They often include a location plus a date and time. 
I included one for the bowling we did. Students could find clues and make inferences about the number of people who played based on the shoes we rented. 

Students recorded clues and background knowledge on a recording sheet and made inferences. 

Working in a small group helped them to practice 21st Century Skills such as communication and collaboration.  Each group got a chance to share their inferences and were able to give each other feedback. 

It was a great way to introduce a tough skill in a concrete and fun way. 
Choosing high interest activities helps my students and myself get back into our school routine. 
I'm looking forward to hearing and seeing my students work through the clues. 
So, if you are dreading going back, think of a way to make it fun!

I have put other "Making Inferences" lessons and materials together and have added them to my TPT Store.  You can click the link below to check it out. 

What are some of the activities you plan on your first day back from break?
Please share!