Saturday, November 1, 2014

MOVEMBER FUN! Plus a Giveaway!

Happy November 1st Friends!

The last two weeks have just been a BLAST in our classroom! I wanted to do unit on nutrition in relation to Halloween candy, but I couldn’t find the hook that I needed…until….

Did you know that November is commonly called MOVEMBER? Mo Bros take action by changing their appearance by growing a moustache for the 30 days of Movember, to spark conversation and raise funds for men’s health research. Mo Sistas commit to supporting the men in their lives while helping to promote men’s health.”

I pulled out our fancy mustaches from Creative TeachingPress to add a little excitement to our experiments and discussion in science this week. We talked about MOVEMBER and what is and why it is important. The majority of the kiddos knew about it to some extent, several of the kids knew someone that has participated in Movember at some point. We divded into our learning about nutrition, healthy habits, and a close look at sugar! 

Do you colored pencils or markers in close reading?
I looked high and low for some great passages on nutrition to use with my 5th graders. I was SO excited to find this amazing packet from BIG IDEAS IN TEACHING. What I loved about it was the content was SPOT ON, but I LOVED the strategy to go back and COLOR CODE the answers to the questions. We will be using that from now on. Of course we had to use our mustache pencils to help us with this! I just took a mustache from the 100’s that come in this packet from CTP and hot glued them to the top of each pencil. The kids LOVED using their pencils each week! I loved how motivated they were to do their work! 

Do you know how much sugar is in your favorite snacks?
I have been on a “Let’s Get Healthy” journey over this past year. I look at food labels, plan out my meals, and hit the gym on a regular basis. I WAS SHOCKED by the news that American children eat 116 pounds of sugar every year. I wanted to do something with our favorite snacks and let the students visually see what they were eating! I came across Melissa’s amazing SUGAR SHOCK post.

I knew I needed to do this activity as well.I love a good hands on lesson, but I love even more a lesson that IMPACTS our thinking and IMPACTS our health. I asked the students to bring in their favorite sugary snack. We then used the nutritional information to determine how much sugar was in that snack. Students then had to do a little math as 1 gram of sugar = 4 tsps of sugar. We used graduated cylinders to pour our sugar in. 

We created a nifty display on the center table of our classroom. We just couldn’t stop talking about the results. Whenever someone would come into our room to drop something off, one of the students who ask them to come and look at our display. The kids LOVED sharing the information. We ended up keeping it up for Parent Teacher Conferences and the parents were AMAZED as well. My hope is that students take a closer look at what they are eating. We talked about how it is okay to have a pack of M&M’s, but then you should go and play outside with a friend! Truly fascinating conversations we had this week! 

We mustache you what did you learn about sugar?

So much sugar is NOT needed for your body. It is not good for your systems.

Candy Labs-The Great Motivator
We pulled out our mustaches one more time this week to become Mustache Scientists! I think they would wear the mustaches all day if they could! We have been studying properties of matter in science and I used The Science Penguin’s Candy Lab’s product to help us explore the properties of matter through candy. You might be asking, Did they eat the candy?  NO! We used the candy to help learn about describing matter, but we didn’t eat ANY OF IT. When I did this last year, we did, but this year after looking at sugar, none of them even wanted to (well, maybe a few!)!  We were able to use a triple beam balance, measure the volume of the candies, test for solubility, and look at refraction! Such a FUN week of learning.  I really believe that this week will be a touchstone for us. When we are struggling with understand what relative density is or solubility we can think back to what we did this week!

Creative Teaching Press is behind MOVEMEBER 100%.  So much so they would love to give away to one lucky reader a packet of mustaches & photo booth kit so that you can show your support of this important cause! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can't wait to hear your ideas! Happy Week friends! 


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bright Ideas for the Classroom: Simple IPAD Charging Station

Happy Day to You All! 
I am excited join in on the Bright Ideas party this month!

I have been fortunate to get IPADS from three different Donor Choose projects. When I had two or three it was easy to get them charged and know where the cords were….but when I acquired three more it become a challenge! 

The Technology Coordinator for my building came to the rescue! He brought in a file folder stand and power strip! 

This has made such a different for my kids and I! IPADS all go back to the same place! They are ALWAYS charged, which means we can use them RIGHT WHEN WE NEED TO ACCESS THEM!

Super simple idea, but I hope it will help you and your kiddos! 
For more bright ideas more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Teacher Week: My Classroom!

Happy Day Friends!

I am SO excited to share with you my classroom for this wonderful, fantastic, awesome new school year! I love the girls at Blog Hoppin' and am so excited to link up with them for Teacher Week! 

I had an idea in my head of what I wanted my classroom to look like. I knew I wanted to use maps, quotes, and bright, happy colors. I looked ALL over Pinterst and took inspiration from Maria of Kinder-Craze, Rachelle Smith from What The Teacher Wants, Cara from The First Grade Parade, Kristen from Ladybug Teacher Files, Creative Teaching Press' new catalog, as well lots of ideas from Monday Made It's and a variety of craft blogs!

I am blessed this school year as I am looping up to 5th grade with my same kiddos. SO I had a very different kind of summer. I was not thinking and planning about those crucial beginning of the school activities, as I already know my kids and my kids know me. I was able to spend time really mapping out my classroom and spray painting EVERYTHING in site! I think my principal thought I was CRAZY. 

This is my also my 17th year in teaching....ahhhhhhhh! I think this is my favorite classroom ever. It really came together for me and my kiddos. We all love it so much! Our first day of school was simply fantastic! The kids were SO excited about our room. It was truly a magicial day for me! I LOVE looping! I love a bright, happy classroom! I love my kiddos! 

 As you enter my room my hope is that you see lots of colors! I also hope it is a calm space for kiddos! I want my kids to feel at home while in our 5Z classroom! 

Right as you enter you will find our Organization Station! I used a shelf I already had (yeah!) to create this one stop station. I found the lime green and blue buckets at the dollar spot at Target! The black buckets are dish plans from Dollar Tree! I used the chevron name tags from Creative Teaching and subject labels from Ladybug Teacher Files to help keep us organized! I LOVE my lamp! I spray painted an ugly lamp and found the shade at Dollar General for .25 CENTS! I also love my tissue paper flower pot! 


I really love how these flowers came out! A friend made them out of plastic tablecloths! I also love the yellow filing cabinet that everything is sitting on (I spray painted it!)! 

 I love our small group table (it is new this year!) and how everything came together in the back of the room! I made the curtains! Spray painted the lamp and the lampshade. The Daily Five posters are from Rachelle Smith, What the Teacher Wants! The amazing border is all from Creative Teaching Press!  

 We are using Ron Clark's "The Essential 55" in our classroom this year. We are focusing on 10 Essentials, a la Hope King! One of my favorite blog posts I have ever read!

I am already seeing a difference with my kiddos in just a few short days!

I love quotes and fell in love with this quote when I came across it! Do you know who said it? Winnie The Pooh! AHHHHH! Love it even more. I used Creative Teaching Press amazing products to create this bulletin board display! From the flowers to the chevron letters, to the borders. I just LOVE how it all turned out!

Realizing how uneven these pockets are, but I guess that is okay! The pockets will be used for our school-wide behavior program "On a Path To Sweet Success!" I am really excited about this, can't wait to blog more about it in the future!

I have already TRIED to keep classroom data, but this year I am TRULY going to do it! I dedicated an entire bulletin board to it! I am using Primary Polka Dots Data Binders for my kids, so I just blew up the same graphs to 11X17 to use for our classroom data! 

I am excited to try out this organization system this year! Our math books, science notebooks, word nerds notebooks, reading notebooks are all on this shelf! Along with our supply caddies! I am really hoping this works for us. We have pretty small desks, so we needed to try something a bit different!

I just love this picture! Yes, my kiddos know I love chevron! That awesome "Ms. Z" sign was made my one of my kiddos last year!

This is my friend Syd, sitting in this awesome chair that we spray painted! The pillow cases are from WAL-MART! I think that is one of my favorite finds this summer! Syd's awesome mom took all of the pictures of my classroom for me! LOVE YOU SHANNON!

I have lots more to share with you, but will leave you with this one! I LOVE how our supply cabinet turned out and the Dollar Tree bins are a STEAL and just the perfect colors!

I am excited to check out everyone's rooms today over at Blog Hoppin!

Happy Back to School friends!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Are you Ready for SHARK WEEK?

All teachers know that kids learn more when they’re excited and engaged. Today a team of bloggers come together to help your students take a BITE out of learning with a theme your students are sure to love! 

The school district I work in has embraced the Quantum Learning philosophy of teaching. There are so many different aspects of QL that are AMAZING. My favorite idea is "Home-Court Advantage." I LOVE working with my students to create this in our classroom each and every year!

Home court advantage is just what it sounds like-when a sports team plays in their home town on their own field or court, they have a statistical advantage. There is a tremendous amount of research that has been done on this.

Quantaum learning suggests that "
Home court advantage is a powerful psychological tool that creates feelings of safety, support, and belonging on the sports field as well as in the classroom. Students in classrooms where home court advantage has been established are more likely to take risks, participate, and ask and answer questions. At a time when many teachers are pressed to achieve common core standards, establishing a home court advantage in classrooms is a powerful step toward encouraging and reinforcing more effective thinking, discussions and collaboration." (Quataum Learning, 2009) 

There are many things that a teacher can do to create that home court advantage in their classroom in terms of belonging, safety, and support! I blogged about this in depth last year, please click here to read that post! 

Slide 10.png

I LOVE the "I SURVIVED" book series by Lauren Tarshis! One of my favorites is "I Survived The Shark Attacks of 1916." When we talk about ENGAGING books, oh this is the series for you! I have used these books in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade! One of my favorite things about this series is how easy it is to use non-fiction books right along with Mrs. Tarshis' stories. My students are engaged in the story and then they want to look at the primary sources for what really did happen! My Shark Week freebie is a template for students to use to write a newspaper article about what happened during the shark attacks of 1916.

Click HERE to try it out!

Be sure to go for a swim in the linky party below. Every blog in the Shark Week Blog Hop features a fishy freebie for you and your students- but hurry! Shark Week only lasts until Sunday, August 17th  :)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

It's Back to School Time & Giveaway!

What a WONDERFUL summer it has been! I honestly can’t believe that it is almost over. I have had a wonderful, realaxing, fantastic summer filled with gym time, pool time, reading time, and lots and lots of friend time!

The last few weeks I have been working on my classroom and just enjoying every minute of it. I am looping with my students this year, so it is a bit of a different back to school prep for me. I am really excited to see what this year brings!

I am REALLY excited to show off my classroom to you! I will be doing that in the next few weeks! I went a little #chevroncrazy, but I love it so much! I was so inspired by Maria’s room from  I love everything about her colorful room, especially her spray painted filing cabinets!

Teachers Pay Teachers is having their BIG Back to School sale on August 4 and 5! My cart is FILLED to the BRIM as I will be teaching 5th Grade for the first time!

I am excited as this summer I spent some time working on a few products for my store!

We are doing a ROAD TRIP theme in fifth grade this year! I love quotes and I love having my students WRITE about them. This product came from that love! 

Check it out Here!

Last December we did a HUGE “Nutcracker” thematic unit with all of the 4th Graders. We read different versions of “The Nutcracker,” we learned about the music and the composer in Music class, and in Art we drew our own Nutcrackers. It was a PRICELESS time.
My dear kiddo who is presenting her Lego Story Starter build she did about "The Nutcracker"

President Clark (as we call him!) created his own version of "The Nutcracker" He did such a great job!

One of our favorite activities that we used was a daily journalprompt in December based on the holdiays! It was a great time of writing, but then also sharing about traditions that the students have their families.

My all time favorite product is Crock-Pot Cooking & Writing in the Classroom for The Fall! 

I love cooking and I love writing! This product puts those together. I have found that my students are SO engaged in the writing process with these activities.

I was pretty excited about this feedback I received for this product!

Well, friendswhat is in your cart? What are you looking forward to purchasing? How are you enjoying your last minutes of summer?

I would love to send off at TPT gift card to one lucky winner to use in time for the sale! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also check out all of the other pretty amazing bloggers and TPT authors who have their products on sale! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Guided Math Conferences- Chapter 5 & Giveaway!

I have just three lovely weeks left of summer. I can’t believe how fast it went by! I have worked in my classroom a bit I have shared a few sneak peek pics on Instagram come find me @carmencita9c. Next week my team will meet and we will map out the first semester. I am so looking forward to that. I love to have a plan!

Speaking of plan…that is what Chapter 5 is ALL about. Having a plan for routines and procedures during Guided Math so that YOU CAN DO INDIVIDUAL CONFERENCES! For some teachers this comes very easy to them, for others this is more of a challenge. You gotta know where you stand so then you can make a plan for it.

Historically, mapping out routines was not an easy thing for me. Sometimes I would think, “Well they should already know that” and move on. Well that one thing that “they should already know” would always make a big difference and usually create a bit of chaos!
As the book states, “The first step is creating routines and procedures for independent student work is envision precisely what students should be doing.”

You have to think about so many things:
 How do students turn in work?
What do they do if they finish an activity early?
If they need help who do they go to?
What are the voice levels in the classroom?
Can they get up to sharpen a pencil?
Can they ask someone else for help?
Lions, tigers & bears…oh my!

There is SO many things to think about, but my advice is to take it step by step. Start with one of your guided math rotations and work on figuring out what that looks like, sounds likes, and feels like. I love using that terminology when I am thinking about routines and also when I discuss them with my students.

I start with this chart thinking through each rotation on my own. What do I want the students to be doing and reacting to situations that they come across?

From there I move on to create a CHAMPS poster for the rotation.

The procedures are not in their final stages yet!
As the author suggestions we “create and post an anchor chart showing what independent work should look and sound like” and feel like: 

We do this together for a couple of reasons! First of all the students will think of things you do not think of! Most importantly it creates BUY IN and OWNERSHIP! Students will remind others of the expectations (that is PRICELESS!) and they want to succeed at the expectations that the class set. If students do not think of important things, you can add them (that is why it is important for you to go through this process first!).

We now move on to step 2 & 3 “Introduce and model the routines and procedures with mini lessons and “Have students role-play working independently.”

 I can’t stress how important this is! At times it seems silly…I am really going to have my 5th graders practice this routine again…and again. What I found out the routines that we practiced more where the ones that we never had issues with, but the ones we didn’t practice as much we defiantly struggled with. It’s common sense of course, but we are SO pressed for time during the time, it’s hard to “give up that time!” I promise you though, if you do dedicate the time, you will REAP benefits for the rest of the school year!

The last step for teaching routines/procedures is “Have students practice and self-assess their behaviors.”

I always seem to do this very informally maybe just by a thumb up or thumb down. I am thinking about doing more of a rubric this year, to make it more serious for the students. I am hoping to share that with you on Monday! 

The very last step I take is we go back to our anchor chart and finalize it. I will then type it up in the CHAMPS terminology and post it. We will refer it throughout the entire year! I then move on to another rotation and we go through this process again!

There are SO many other details to discuss in this chapter! I will be back on Monday with more! 

Please check out Melissa’s post from Dilly Dabbles who is also hosting Chapter Five! 

I want to leave you with a COOL Give-Away!

One of my favorite bloggers and TPT creators is Melissa from Inspire Me ASAP!

I honestly own every single thing in her store! Not only to own everything, I use EVERYTHING. Many of her products I use every day!

Melissa has generously offered to giveaway her Guided Math 101 Product to one reader from my blog and one reader from her blog! SO you have TWO CHANCES TO WIN! 

Please comment below your best tip for teaching routines/procedures. Make sure you include your email address. Check out Melissa’s blog for another chance to win! I will draw a winner next Friday!
 Make sure to check out the other bloggers who are writing about this awesome chapter!

Monday, July 21, 2014

My "friend", Jen Hatmaker + GIVEAWAY!

Okay…my close friends (well anyone who I am friends with on Facebook!)  know that I LOVE the author, blogger, mother, teacher; Jen Hatmaker.  I even got to pick her up from the airport as she was speaking at conference for my church.
This is a text I received from my friend, Zach before I picked her up….

 So I was COOL. Well, maybe! 

This women has CHANGED my life and continues to do with each blog post she writes!  Did you read her post on Valentine’s Day? I must of read it 100 times!

 Jen Hatmaker recently re-released her book, Interrupted. I am so excited to share a bit about this book with you and the impact it has had on my life.

Almost five years ago I went through a personal crisis. I was dealing with the aftermath of some really stupid (for lack of a better word) decisions I had been making. I was lonely, scared, anxious, thought that Jesus could never forgive me, and embarrassed by it all. I spent about a year and half in counseling trying to recover. It was a rough time in my life. I had few friends during that time, but they were amazing people that stood by me as I figured life out and talked and talked and journaled and journaled  as I figured out why I did what I did (many times over). I am so grateful for those people who spoke TRUTH into my life during this time when it was pretty dark.

A couple of years later I was doing better, much better. I had a job I loved! A super group of kiddos in my class and some terrific parents to work with, and  wonderful co-workers. I was figuring out things, but still dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, but they were less. In some ways I kinda of thought the panic attacks were the “cross I was to bear” for the dumb things I had done.

I picked up the book So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore and just loved it. This was not a book I could just sit and read in one sitting, as it was SO MUCH to process. During the same time I came across the book  Seven by Jen Hatmaker.  I was thinking WHO IS THIS LADY? I would literally LAUGH OUT LOUD as I was reading it!  I met for lunch with a dear friend and we talked for a couple of hours about what I was learning through these books. Deb then let me know that Jen had ANOTHER book out Interrupted and she told me “YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!”

I left lunch that day and I went to the local coffee shop, found a comfy chair, and purchased Interrupted on my Kindle. I sat there for eight hours as I read this life-changing book. I would stop to refill My coffee and send off an email (OR FIVE) to Deb about how great this book was, but that was about it.

WHAT DID I LEARN? What am I learning?

*Tension is not a BAD thing and we can learn SO MUCH FROM IT!

Living on mission is about WHO! For me, right now, those are my neighbors!

*Barefoot Church-Let's come as we are 
Jen and her husband, Brandon, had a tremendous experience of giving up their beloved cowboy boots (I know it sound silly, but you gotta read it! IT IS POWERFUL).  I as well had my “Barefoot Church” experience.  A couple of weeks after finishing up reading “Interrupted” I left on a missions trip for Haiti with High School students from my church. Here is an exert from the blog post…

 “A lady was kneeling with two little ones at her side and one little sitting her lap. She was braiding her hair, or at least trying to, I don’t think the little one wanted it braided. She pointed to her feet and asked if she could have my shoes.  I just walked away, as I didn’t know what to do. One of the Haitian leaders asked me what she said and I told him. I asked him, “Should I give her my shoes?” and he said, “She most likely needs them.”  Zach came up and asked me what was going on and I told him. He said, “Do you want to give her your shoes?”  I told him yes.

Now here is the thing, theses were my very nice, beloved shoes! My comfort shoes, these were not the $1.00 flip flops that I purchased before the trip. I LOVE THESE SHOES.

Zach said he would walk over with me. We walked back and I took off my shoes right at her feet. The lady said, “Merci” and she put on the shoes. We walked away and our leaders were so worried about me walking barefoot. They said that the gravel, glass filled road would be a problem. They also said that there are tree branches with thorns and the thorns were all over the road. I walked about  5 minutes. My feet were hurting, hurting badly. I already had cuts from the sharpness of the rocks and the thorns…just in 5 minutes!

The night before we left for Haiti I had prayed, “Lord please let me give until it HURTS!”  In my mind it was more of a mental hurting for what I would see, but here it was, I am hurting physically.

For the next two years in ANY conversation I had Jen’s book “Interrupted” would somehow come up! (how did that happen?). How can I live a missional life? What does that mean for me? And the list goes on and on. 

A few things came up for me pretty quickly, but it was not easy to implement.

1)       Foster Care- I am a single gal who will be turning 40 next year (AHHHHHHH). I LOVE kids! I want my own kids! Foster to Adopt seemed like a great option form  me. I had several friends praying for  me as I went through the 12 weeks of Foster Care classes. It was a HUGE amount of work and PAPERWORK (agh!), but in September of 2012 I received my official certificate! I mostly do respite care  (just on the weekends). This has been a hard and amazing journey for me. I love, loving on kiddos! I have a kiddo who is coming to stay with me for a few days…excited about pool time, zoo time, and cookie making time! As a single gal, my time is MY TIME. God really has worked with me on NOT being selfish, making sure that when I have kids in my home they are my priority…not my instagram account!

2)      My Neighborhood- THIS is SO HARD FOR ME. I can hang out with kids ALL DAY LONG, but adults make me a bit nervous. Stepping out of my comfort zone is NOT EASY.  I created a neighborhood map and placed it on my fridge so that as I learned things about my neighbors I would write it down and then use that information to help them out! For example, one of my neighbors is a single mom and has three wonderful kids! She LOVES brownies! It is pretty easy for me to make a batch of brownies and take them to her. I  love doing Random Acts of Kindness, but this is NOT about RAKS. This is about developing RELATIONSHIPS with my neighbors! It takes TIME…a lot of time. BUT it is well worth it. So well worth it. You gotta check out the book The Art of Neighboring ….such a great help to me! 

3)      My Classroom- SO how does this message of Missional Living work in my classroom? (By the way, did you know that Jen was a 4th grade teacher? She LOVES teachers...check out this love note she left us).  I teach at a public school so talking about Jesus is not an option. BUT developing RELATIONSHIPS is an option. Helping my students understand that we should LOVE PEOPLE is an option. So we went on an adventure of MISSIONS this past year. My kids loved it when the theme music to “Mission Possible” comes on as they know that means we have a task to complete to HELP others.
My dear student, Joey,  would always name each of our missions “Operation Snickerdoodle” or “Operation Snowman” or my favorite “Operation Coffee Cart” 

At the end of the school year when we wrote and drew pictures of our “Top Ten Learning Experiences” of my 20 kids, 19 put down on one of their spaces one of our “Missions” …..that is just plain awesome. I get to loop with my students this school year so I am looking forward to more and more missions and more missions with depth. 

4)      Healthy Carmen- This past eight monthsI have been on a healthy adventure and I really do feel it is all part of this missional journey! I am able to do SO MUCH MORE now that I am eating well, exercising, and loosing weight. That developing relationships part is much easier, when you LOVE YOURSELF. It is much easier when you are not dealing with panic attacks (not one in eight months)!  Praise Jesus on that!

I look at the school year ahead of me and think about how will I live on mission in my classroom? in my school?  in my community? In my neighborhood? In my home? So much to think about and pray about, but I don’t want to just be sitting…I want to BE DOING! I can't do it all, but I don't have to.

I am excited that my friends at Tyndale have a  copy of “Interrupted” for me to raffle off! A winner will be chosen on Friday.  Just leave a blog post comment on what have you been learning this summer!

I hope you have a wonderful day,