Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Teacher Testing Tips

I tried this thing...it's called cooking. Ha!

I wouldn't consider myself a great cook (I definitely am NOT a baker! I wish I were though...It just never works out). Nice weather means cooking out. Mr. Patterson and I could sit outside all evening-working in the backyard/redecorating our patio/changing things up outside! Basically anything a homeowner would do! With all this outside-ness means using our grill!

The recipe I am sharing is delicious! I was in charge of creating the pineapple salsa, while the man of the house whipped up the chicken. We stole the recipe from tasty.com. If you have never heard of this website, you must check it out! It is magical.

The recipe calls for rice on the tacos, we did not do that. Just using a wheat wrap, teriyaki chicken, spinach as a base, and the pineapple salsa filed us up. It tasted so fresh.

                       Lucky us, our local market had pineapple on sale for $0.99 the day I went shopping!

I love mini peppers. The recipe calls for 1/3 C red pepper diced peppers. I improvised and used red and orange mini peppers. It tasted the same as a red pepper and I had it on hand and didn't have to buy more.


                         We are not big on onions. I cut up a lot, however, I did not use them all.


 Jalapenos are scary. I love using them in recipes, but, like I said, they are scary! Anytime I cut one I                                                      always wear gloves...is that just me?


 Cilllllllllllllantro! Using this ingredient makes me feel worldly. Fun fact: I grow it! My plant this                                     year has not sprouted enough to cook with. It will be ready soon.


                                                 I did not use a real lime. Just lime juice.


We made a lot more salsa than needed! We used the leftovers to snack on with chips for the next few days. We will definitely be making this again. It was the perfect dinner for the spring feeling in the air. It was also the perfect dinner to get this teacher ready for Istep!!!

Our state testing is just wrapping up this week. It is grueling. Good food is a must for a teacher during standardized testing, am I right?!

Here are some fun things we did for our 4th graders. We called them "magic pencils". We only used them to take notes. These pencils gave brain power!!!!

I saw this floating around on Facebook. I wish I knew who originally posted it so I could give them a virtual high-five. There are similar posts on Pinterest.


Mints are amazing to 4th graders. A magic pencil and a mint will allow any student to kick butt on a                                                                              test.


Each student got a post it. They were instructed to write down one thing that makes them smile. During the test they had the post-it in the corner to remind them of a happy thought. Just a little testing pick-me-up. It was so cute to see what they write down...glitter, pets, new shoes, little brother. 



If you haven't started testing, good luck!!! You've got this. Use these testing tips to help you push through.



Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring Fever



It’s that time of yearSpring is in the air, sports games have started, and I-step has finally arrived!  The pretty weather makes it more and more difficult to  hold the attention of our sweet, squirmy kiddos.  Now is the time of year that extra recesses would definitely be an advantage.  

The Joys of being a Yaya!


As a Yaya, I have had my first experience with sports.  I’ve done it as a mom.  I’ve done it as a stepmom.  I’ve done it as a teacher.  But now, I get to be a sports fan as a Yaya!  There is nothing like it.  We weren’t sure if our little guy would play, but he did and was a hit!  He is silly down to his core.  He kept us all laughing and I loved watching his sweetness.  He didn’t want to be aggressive with the other littles.  I laughed and my heart was completely full.  When it was his turn to sit out, he was talking freely with the other kids and completely enjoying himself.  I’m so thankful for the joy he has brought to our lives!  As a mom you always worry about how other people will see your child.  You don't want your child judged, or better yet, you don't want to be judged as a mom.  All of that is gone as a grandparent and the simple pure joy of watching a child grow and develop is so blissful!



Preparing for the Test

With Istep this week, we have spent the last couple of weeks reviewing, in math in particular.  If you are a teacher or work in a classroom, you know what this weather does to students and what review does to them as well.  They begin to check out!  We’ve tried to switch things up a bit making games out of task cards.  One thing that worked really well was using the cute task cards Mrs. Patterson made.  We used the decimal task cards as a scoot game.  The students loved moving around the room to music to solve the problems.  It held their interest the entire time. 


We also used the adorable multiplication task cards by printing them and stapling pages together for students to work in groups solving the problems and helping one another when someone became stuck on a problem or a part of a problem.  Our colored printer was out of ink, so we printed them in black and white and the kids didn’t even notice.  They were still really appealing with ready to use problems perfect for this time of year.




I hope that testing is going well in your part of the world.  We are testing for two weeks and are working hard to keep things interesting and to encourage our students to do their very best to “show what they know.”  Let us know if you have any special tips to make things fun and engaging for students.  We’d love to hear from you!


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Weekend Project~~~Krylon Looking Glass Paint


    Living in Indiana can be a real treat! You are never really sure what to wear when because the weather is constantly changing! My closet is always confused on days I have recess duty. With this nicer weather we have had the past week I have had the itch to change my back porch a little.
    My husband and I have a thing for antiques. We love us a good yard sale. We love going to antique stores. The rustier the better:) Our back porch has a huge 4 pane window. There are only 2 windows in it, but that is OK with us! The past 2 summers the windows had chalkboard paint on them. This year we wanted to change it up a bit and give it a mirrored look. I am going to take you through the steps to paint a piece of glass using Looking Glass paint by Krylon. This can be stored outside (I recommend the piece being covered by a porch or awning) or inside. It is so easy to do!

                  First, find a surface to paint. I am using a large window as my canvas. I bought 2 cans, but only ended up using about one and a half. This can be bought at most stores. Our local Walmart and Home Depot have them. (We are not blessed with a Target or Hobby Lobby in Seymour, Indiana)


                   Before you get started you need to clean the glass surface. I started out with a razor blade and some CLR to make sure there were no streaks. (Remember, this window has been pained in chalkboard paint so it had some leftover black streaks that wouldn't come off!) When I was done CLR'ing I cleaned both sides of the glass using paper towel and glass cleaner.


               When the glass is done drying you are ready to paint! Krylon has excellent directions. I just follow the back of the can. *Don't forget when spraying on the glass you must spray the side that will be touching the surface of the wall you are using to hang.*

These directions are VERY user friendly.
Don't be nervous, remember, if you mess us you can
use a razor blade to scrape it off and start over.

This has one coat on one glass pane.
                 I painted 3-4 coats on my window. Between each coat I let it dry for about ten minutes. It is amazing what a little spring-ish weather and 2 cans of Krylon Looking Glass spray paint can do to your mood. I am ready to sit out back and enjoy doing nothing but TPT this summer.

Finished product.

                The same day I did this project we also had a hike with some deserving students. We went to Muscatatuck Wildlife Refuge, a local National Park, and took a short hike and had a snack. Our students loved it! We were able to have a park ranger lead us on our hike and explain some of the things we saw. It was a very rewarding experience, we will definitely do it again!

Even though it is not green yet, this
poison ivy can still get you!


               Wherever you are, I hope you have warmer weather coming your way! Good luck on your next painting project! Send us a picture of what you painted using Krylon Looking Glass paint.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Being the Best Authentic Teacher I Can Be












It’s Spring Break and I’ve had the privilege of spending it at home with my loves.  I’ve cooked a lot.  I’ve given my closet a spring makeover, cleaned my classroom, and had the pleasure of spending time at the 2017 Teacher Blogger Retreat. 



I was so excited because Principal Gerry was scheduled to be there.  I drove the beautiful country drive to French Lick listening to a Jerry Archer book on my I-Phone.   (Seriously, if you haven’t tried audio books, give it a try.  It’s addictive.)  I arrived, found a parking spot and began to search for the correct entrance.  The place is both beautiful and enormous.  As I was wandering around, I decided to make a stop in the restroom while I wasn’t surrounded by noisy crowds.  As I made my way inside, I noticed a gentleman sitting down the hall from where I was standing.  I immediately recognized him as the one, the only, Principal Gerry!  I immediately text my teacher friend (on vacation in Florida) and sent her my sneaky pic of him.  She answered right back just as excited as I was.  I mustered the courage to walk up to him.  He was, at that point, sitting with his back to the hall, trying to get his zen on before his lecture.  Even though I totally interrupted his quiet time, he was super nice and posed for a picture with me.  I quickly made an exit not wanting to steal any more of his quiet time and found my way to the crowded area of the retreat. 




Principal Gerry...Trying to get his Zen on.

I stood in line to register and received a super neat tote bag filled with cool goodies!  The organizers sure know the way to a teacher’s heart.  The Scentos company was super cool and donated a ton of goodies for the retreat.  I met some super friendly bloggers while waiting for the doors to open.    I sat with one of my fourth grade teacher friends and settled in for the hilarious Principal Gerry.  Guys…you have to understand.  He is my salvation sometimes on cranky days.  I sit during prep and listen and laugh with him and readjust my attitude on those days. 
A teacher's dream!  Scented markers galore!

He took the stage and I was in for a surprise.  First his name isn’t pronounced Jerry…his name is Gary…I know, right?  He has zero accent.  Zero.  I have more of an accent remaining from living in Arkansas than he has.  Zilch.  Nada.  I listened to him and was surprised to find him…not just funny, but inspirational.  I was prepared to laugh until I cried and to feel like I’d been to a comedy show.  Yes.  He was still hilarious, but he was warm, honest, and made me feel like he was an old friend.  When he left the stage I felt a renewed sense of hope for my profession.  He reminded me of the importance of loving kids, not just worrying about test scores, but truly loving them.  I’m an even bigger fan after listening to him. 


He was followed by Hope and Wade King.  They are a husband and wife that both teach at the Ron Clark Academy.  Their subject was student engagement.  They began their segment walking around the ballroom and standing on chairs to talk to us and keep our attention.  They were high energy and seemed to care about teaching.  Don’t get me wrong.  They were sweet, genuine people.  I just wasn’t feeling the connection.  Hope talked about being high energy, creating room d├ęcor that would engage students, playing games to excite them, and Mr. King got out his electric guitar to show us how to turn popular songs into cheers.  Beautiful people, but again, I just wasn’t buying it.  I finished my day learning a lot and enjoying myself, but I left with this nagging sense of…something.  I wasn’t sure what.





I got home and shared my day with my husband, who is also a teacher, and tried to relay to him that feeling that I had.  I got online and researched Hope King.  I also researched the Ron Clark Academy.  They spend an average of $18,000 per student.  They interview, literally hundreds of students to fill spots of less than fifty.  Their parents have to commit to a grand number of hours of volunteer work within the school to keep their child’s place, and the work load for students is mind boggling.  No doubt, it is a success.  No doubt, their formula works.  They have trampolines, slides, and music blaring as you walk into the school.  Each room is elaborately decorated in themes to engage the students.  One room even has a car inside of it!  Trying to compare the money they spend turning classrooms into an Alice in Wonderland, or a Mario Brothers Video Game just isn’t feasible to a public school teacher.  We are already underpaid and overworked.  Now I have to stand on chairs, play an electric guitar, and make my classroom look like a video game.  WHAT!? 


Here's what I learned from all of this.  While Wade and Hope King were inspiring and incredibly talented, they don’t have all the answers.  No one does.  We are all the same.  We are all just people doing the best that we can.  There is no “one size fits all.”  Principal Gerry is just a person who wanted to inspire his teachers during testing time so he made silly videos that went viral.  Ron Clark is just a person who found himself in a hopeless teaching situation and wanted to make a difference in the lives of kids one step at a time.  We are all just people and we can all make a difference in our own way.   A wise teacher, Mrs. Peggy Stark, once said, “It’s easy.  Just make them love school.”  That’s really the root of it all.  Love our students, and give them a love of learning.  If I tried to be Hope King it would appear manufactured and false.  I have to be me and love my kids to the very best of my ability.  This retreat inspired me to go back and be the best I can be.  I want to engage my students with my own love of learning and pass that along to them.  I want to inspire my students to be lifelong learners.  That’s what it’s all about.  People inspiring young people to go, grow, and do. 

It’s been a fantastic spring break and I feel renewed and invigorated.  A big thanks to all the organizers of the 2017 French Lick Blogger Retreat.  We’ll be back!



http://scentos.com/

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spring Break Freebie!

Mrs. Patterson being jealous she missed out on
Principal Gerry.
It is finally here! SPRING BREAK! One teacher friend is in sunny Florida, while the other is stuck at home in Indiana....Don't feel too sad for her though, she got to go to the French Lick Blogger Meet-up and listen to Principal Gerry Brooks speak. She even got her picture with him! How cool is that?! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous.
Mrs. Reinhart and Principal Gerry.


















Do you give break homework to your students? We have in the past. This year we went a different route and made a reading log. It is a forever freebie in our Teachers Pay Teachers store ------>check it out here!

It comes with 2 different reading logs and 4 different bookmarks. Print and Go ~ or ~ print on card stock/laminate/and go! Either way, it gets students reading....and that is a big deal.


I hate to write and run....but I am in Florida and it is sunny and I want a tan.
Have a great break, wherever you may be!


Friday, March 10, 2017

Rediscovering My Love of Chapter Books


Grateful!  Oh, so grateful that our first round of I-step is over.  We plowed through a power outage, two days off school, terrible storms, lots of rain, and all the fun behavior challenges that come with all the disruptions to routine.  We are all (teachers and kiddos) quite tired of the testing talks so I decided it was the perfect time to begin a novel. 

I must constantly remind myself to slip novels into my reading block.  We are required to teach from the basal reader, but nothing, and I mean nothing compares to a well written novel.  The length of a chapter book gives the much-needed time to develop characters, to make personal connections, and to fall in love with books.  There is really nothing like it!  As a child, my family moved a lot and my very best friends became the characters from the many books I read.  Laura Ingalls is still a character that I consider a friend from my childhood. 

With my busy schedule, it is often difficult to plan for a chapter book.  I have also found that students hate stopping at every chapter to answer two pages of questions and to learn more vocabulary from each chapter that are commonly found buried in the pages of a novel study.  Reading should be a pleasure, and comprehension should be a natural process of reading and getting to know the characters and their predicaments.  Because of this struggle, we developed a product that can be used in grades 3-5 that meet all the Common Core Reading Literature Anchors.  I know we created it, and I shouldn’t toot my own horn, but I really do love this product.   It is called Common Core Reader's Response Graphic Organizers.  It is a pile of graphic organizers for everything from point of view, character development, poetry, figurative language, fables, plot development, and more.  Seriously it has it all.  It is so easy to find a relatable organizer for any book you are teaching and to print, copy, and go.
https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xfrvPEhRao4/WMNN1icV8KI/AAAAAAAABCg/B54OdyUMDN4yeGtd4Y7zk5_mIO02ddMeACLcB/s640/common%2Bcore.jpg

Introducing this novel, How to Steal a Dog, by Barbara O’Connor has been just what both students and teacher need.  We have bounced back from testing and can’t wait to daily dive into this rich piece of literature.  The discussion has been so encouraging to me and has reminded me during this stressful time why I became a teacher. 




 I recreated one of the organizers on chart paper and we completed it while discussing the events of the story all together.




Another exciting element of this week has been the test drive of our new product, “Sneaky Little Leprechauns.”  The students loved using junk from around the classroom to create their works of engineering mastery!  Check out this fun product for a great writing experience along with some hands-on creativity.  The kids loved it!

 Check out these fun Leprechaun traps!



Be sure to go over to our store to check out "Sneaky Little Leprechauns!"

Friday, March 3, 2017

Testing Rockstars


First off, let me fill you in on our week.... This week our state testing began (ISTEP). Tuesday was the first official testing day. Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning we had a bad, terrible, awful storm that cause most of our small town to be powerless...fast forward to Wednesday morning when school was canceled, DURING TESTING, due to no power! Thursday, school was also canceled for the same reason. Lucky us, we got to go back to school on Friday and test our sweet babies who have been off for the past 2 days unexpectedly.
I went to school! There was no cell service, meaning no internet either! I didn't want to be "that teacher" that didn't show up...Do you know how hard it is to get ready in the morning without power?

To encourage our students to be the ROCK STARS we know they are, we have created a fun incentive. Testing Rock Star Tickets will be the 'carrot' you need to dangle in front of your students during the grueling state tests to keep them motivated. These tickets are free in our store, be sure to click the link to download them!

Set up is easy-peasy! Print on colored paper for easier sorting. We chose pink Rock Star tickets and purple Job Well Done tickets. Students knew they wanted a pink! When they earned the pink it was so rewarding to see their face light up---most of them knew they would be getting it when they did. Even the students who might not have showed their best effort and got a purple slip were still excited to get it.



The reward part is the fun part! Get creative! You know your students best, have fun with it. We did our shopping at the dollar spot at Target, the Dollar Tree, and our homes! Here is an unfinished product of part of the grand prize. For the 'runner-up' prizes there will be lunch with the teacher, a drink of their choice, and maybe even a no homework pass (if they're lucky!).


Testing can be boring and long, and then even longer. To us, it is important to make sure our students don't lose focus. These Testing Rock Star Tickets really helped get our students to go above and beyond. They were constantly trying their hardest and wanted that ticket, pink or purple. 
Have fun shopping, remember not to spend a lot. You do so much for your students as it is, don't feel ashamed to go cleaning out a toy closet, or a junk drawer! Kids love that kind of stuff (We should know, we do it all the time! The looooooove it.)

Have fun. Happy testing!