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Friday, November 11, 2016

Featured on Minds in Bloom with Rachel Lynette!!

This post was actually published on Rachel Lynette's blog "Minds in Bloom" in late October. I am grateful she allowed me the opportunity to be a guest blogger and share my successes with the teaching community. 

Centers Survival

For the first time in 13 years I can no longer call myself a second grade teacher.  I am now on the intermediate hall busy as can be with my fourth graders!  Each day I find something different to love about fourth grade.  Of course, with every new experience, there are always challenges. This year, I have 28 vibrant students who absolutely love learning. Sidebar: I’ve never taught that many children so at first I was really nervous…. especially about how I was going to make my Math and Literacy Centers work – and not just work, but work effectively, while meeting the needs of the one group I would be working with at my teaching table.   

I can finally and proudly say that we are off to a good start with our centers.  The students are used to their groups expectations, know the rules, and they transition beautifully.  Now, I am not saying AT ALL that this happened over night… remember, with 28 students it took a lot of modeling and practicing and there are still some things we are working on, but from what I can tell, the students are learning and having a blast working together on their skills and content.

One colleague recently asked me, “How do you make the students accountable for what they are doing in the centers?”  A good question indeed for those who are not familiar with center activities.  Sometimes, my students have recording sheets. Other times, I have dry-erase activities where the students simply flash the work at me while I am working with other students. (Most of the time this is something simple that I can scan over). The students know that a nod from me means “correct” and if I shake my head, they know to return to try again. Simple enough, right?  It works for me, while some teachers might need to concrete proof. You have to find what works for YOU as the teacher!

So, my friends, the bottom line is this: Literacy and Math Centers can be a very effective (and fun) way of assessing student understanding of the concepts you have been teaching...with much modeling and practicing,  IT WILL WORK!  (even with 28 kiddos)  :-)

I'd love to hear your center stories!  Let's connect!  
Instagram: the9thinningteacher

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Celebrating a New Blog and TpT Store!

We have a new teacherpreneur amongst us and to help promote and celebrate, I am joining her in a HUGE TpT giveaway.  Yes - Huge, meaning.... $150 worth of gift cards.  Scroll below to find out how to enter. There are two separate giveaways.  

Congratulations to you Michelle Dupuis!  I hope your store and blog take off with a bang!  And good luck to those of you who enter the contest. This is one that I wouldn't wanna miss, so go see for yourself!  Click on her button below and then have fun entering. You have four days - so spread the love to your teacher friends as well!

a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Start of a New School Year!

It's been a busy time in fourth grade already! I am adjusting well, and loving the independence my kiddos are exhibiting. The best part about being in a new grade level has been seeking the progress and growth my former students have made from 2nd grade.  It's just a small preview, but allow me to show you how our first month of school has rolled out!

The State Superintendent came for a visit and spoke with our children as they were boarding buses.

She also held a round table discussion with the teachers; answering questions and listening to concerns.

My little slice of heaven - book corner!

My students often work in groups on assignments.

We work together to answer questions about our reading stories.

Important facts about Lewis and Clark.

Sometimes the students like to sit on the couch to work!

And sometimes we spread out in the floor for more room!

My fellow fourth grade teacher and Dr. Atkinson.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

WANTED: Book Suggestions for 4th

Ok, so I am new to 4th grade this year after teaching 2nd for 13 years. I have a decent amount of books for my classroom library, but in my opinion, you can NEVER have enough books! So this blog post is for all you intermediate teachers out there.  I need to know what books you have in YOUR libraries!  What are the "must-haves" for my fourth graders? What are some of the books the kids LOVE to read?  All suggestions are welcomed; chapter books, leveled readers, guided reading sets, read alouds, and/picture books... You can leave a comment here on the blog or you can email me at

Thank you so much in advance. This will help me greatly!  :-)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Summer and Sunshine

What teacher doesn't like both?  Summer. Sunshine. A small break from the hustle and bustle of educating the minds of our future!  I know I certainly enjoy summers off.  Travel, ballgames, beach days, time with family and friends.... it doesn't get much better than that!  But most importantly, the summer helps rejuvenate and ready myself for a brand new school year that seems to come quicker as each year passes!  :-) 

Summer is at a half way point, and usually I like to share and read about how other teachers spend their summers.  So, in "Summer Part 1" I'm sharing what I've been involved with so far.  Feel free to leave comments as to what you have been up to!

I've had the privilege of teaching with this beauty for 13 years.  This was her final year in Elementary School - after 30 years of service, she retired. Mid-June we celebrated by taking her to dinner at a local restaurant of her choosing. She promises to return to volunteer and I am certainly holding her to that.... (because she is my aunt and I know where she lives) hehe!

It would not be a summer without a trip to the ballpark. Brittney and I (who is also a teacher at my school) traveled by train from NC to Baltimore to watch my Yankees play at Camden Yards against the Orioles. It was out first train ride AND Brit's first MLB game.... take note, however, she chose not to wear an NY tee!  Grrrrr! She thought it would  be fun to cheer against the Yankees..... I still love her anyway!  

While were were there, we happened to run into a family I am close to and have known for years who had also traveled from NC to see the game!  And a Yankees family at that!  :)  Such a small world - you never know who you're gonna run into!

Teachers take on LUKE BRYAN! This was kind of like an end of the year celebration on the lawn of Virginia Beach.  We had our cowgirl boots on and were ready to dance and sing and watch Luke perform.  Have you seen him perform? MERRRRCY...... I highly recommend it!  :-)

And then insert random stranger guy...... Talk about a photobomb!

And of course one of the best things about summertime is being able to spend some extra time with all the babies I absolutely adore.... And hopefully making a quick trip to see my precious Godbaby in Florida!

Oh, summertime how I love you!  I'm excited to see what the second half of the summer will bring. I am always looking for memories to make! 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Spring Break Shenanigans

Spring Break... two magical words that any educator loves to hear!  This year I spent an entire week in Florida among friends and my beautiful goddaughter.  My "bestie" teaches in Plant City, Florida and a few of the afternoons (her spring break came before mine) we got to spend some quality time together on the beach, at her home, and of course at a Yankees spring training game... Oh yeah - they WON!  :)  The rest of the week I spent time exploring sunny Tampa and just enjoying time off from work.  I'll let the pictures that follow tell the rest of the story!  

I was so excited to be with Kelli and her daughter, Torah (my goddaughter) at Steinbrenner Field for Torah's first Yankees game. Kelli is also a TpT author - check her store out; Elementary Ever After and you can find her on Instagram and Facebook as well!  She has amazing products for primary grades!

Just a sunny day in the gulf with little miss priss!

I am an animal lover so the trip would not be complete without visiting the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. There, I found Nemo and a few other amazing animals!  :)

I caught these pair of otters playing in their habitat. They were so kind to stop and pose for me as I reached for my camera!

Oh the love I have for giraffes. They are such majestic and peaceful animals. At Busch Gardens in Tampa, you can go on an African safari to see some of the most amazing animals up close - and with your ticket to the safari, you get to feed giraffes! This was my third time on the safari.... I might be just a little obsessed!

And of course at Lowry Park Zoo, you can feed them as well!

Spring break is always a great time to rejuvenate for the end of the school year.  I can honestly say I did just that!  I hope each of you were able to enjoy yourselves on your spring break and I wish the best of luck to you and your students as you prepare for those dreaded end of year assessments.  I'd love to know what you did on your spring break.  Leave a comment to share what you did - whether you traveled or just stayed home, it was a break well-deserved!  

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Sound of Science

I LOVE SCIENCE and I love teaching it as well. My students today were engaged in an activity that demonstrated their understanding of Sound Energy. After a short instructional video, some academic conversations, and a brainstorming activity, the students were able to produce pictures that portrayed sources of sound in our everyday lives.  

My only suggestion to the students was to think about the object they were drawing and how it produced a sound. For instance, just by looking at this alarm clock, I wouldn't be able to tell what it was doing to make sound. So my student drew the bells at the top and a "Ringgg!" to go along with his picture.

This picture is a perfect example of what I wanted my students to demonstrate. She drew a horse - but the horse just standing there doesn't make a noise. She drew the horse "neighing" which showed me the exact sound the child was thinking about. 

Ah, the sound of the noisy car horn. Again, a car parked and vacant wouldn't make noise, and not only that - but a car makes many noises. Here, the car is honking; one of the many noises this student could have demonstrated!

All I can say is HILARIOUS!  The wonderful thing about this student's work is that at the beginning of the year, he was a non-English speaking student - Chinese actually. He has picked up so much English and is now making complete sentences. Though he can't read or write many things yet, he was able to complete this activity without any assistance and it made me proud!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Springing into Learning!

Spring time is my favorite time of year to teach.  Our science lessons literally come alive and the students couldn't be more engaged! We observe several animals in their habitats - from the very beginning stages of life, until we set them free. The students remain on task during these lessons and since they are hands-on lessons, they leave each day a wealth of knowledge on how living things grown and change. Each year I have also found that my life cycle lessons create a buzz of meaningful conversation among my students and invoke many questions from their inquiring minds. Take a look at our projects for this spring....

We watch the butterfly change from cocoon to adult, keep them a few days, and then set them free!  

For the first time last year, we watched as the ladybugs hatched. The students enjoyed it so much, I wanted to bring it back this year!

A life cycle lesson wouldn't be complete without those hard working ants!  While, we do not actually see how they grown and change, we enjoy learning about their "jobs" in an anthill.

One very interesting life cycle we observe from beginning to end is that of an earthworm's life cycle. This one actually takes a while, but when the baby earthworms hatch from their pods, we get SO excited!

This year our class was very fortunate to have all of these materials and habitats donated to our classroom by some very generous people associated with the DonorsChoose website.  Our project was scheduled to end by June, so I was actually looking at starting this entire unit with next year's class, but this past weekend, we were completely funded and expect materials by the end of the week!  My goal is to post pictures as the students begin working with the materials.

To supplement learning for my students, I created QR codes to help them learn all about the development of each animals - and others as well.  Below, I have posted my latest product that you can find for FREE in my store!  Just click on the picture to be taken my store for your FREE download!  

If you like this product and feel the need for more, I have a paid product that offers more animals and more QR codes for each. It's pretty awesome, in my opinion, but I guess you could say I'm a bit bias!  Check it out anyway!  :)

Thanks for checking my Spring ideas out!  Be sure to visit other bloggers who are participating in the Springing into Learning bloghop! I am sure you will be able to grab some ideas for all of us!  Go get your learn on!  :)