Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Peek at my Week

It's Sunday, so that means it's time for...

We are jumping into probability when we get back from spring break, and I am excited about  incorporating Miss Nannini's March Madness unit! My students are excited about bringing March Madness into our classroom, and we will be using it to reinforce some of the probability skills that we are working on.

I'm also going to be using my newest product: Probability Stations. I was looking for a way to get students practicing be theoretical probability and then testing it out to see how it's very mental probability is different from theoretical. This way they get to do six activities over probably two days and practice the skills in several different situations.

I am really excited about introducing an online game to my students this week. I blogged about Mission-US last week, and I am ready to get back in the classroom and try it out with my students. I'm hoping that it helps them to understand the time period a little better by seeing and experiencing what a teenager in that time would go through. We will be playing Mission 1 starting tomorrow!

We have been doing Tuck Everlasting in my small group reading circles, and I can't wait to get back to it. I haven't read the book since I was a fifth or sixth grader myself, and I can't wait to get back to reading it with my kiddos. We are all loving it, even the ones who weren't into it at all in the beginning have gotten drawn into the story by this point.

We finished the math part of a project before spring break, and we are starting the writing section when we get back. As part of our fractions unit, students found recipes either from home or online that they wanted to share with the class and we practiced scaling them for different sizes groups of people.  Now that we are back, we are going to be publishing our own class cookbook. Students will be rewriting the recipes with new measurements and creating book pages on their own, which we are going to have bound into a class book. They are SO excited!

That's what's going on in my class this week! To hear about the awesome things everyone else has planned, head over to Mrs. Laffin's Laughings and link up!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Five for Friday! (Spring Break Edition) + Spring Cleaning Sale!!!

Well, it's here...the last day of Spring Break. I knew it would happen too fast! Here's what I've been up to this week:

I got five new TPT products posted this week: two sets of math task cards and three new Teacher Toolbox designs. And they're all only $2 each! Click the pictures to see them in my store.

First up: Evaluating Expressions Task Cards for Addition & Subtraction and Multiplication & Division. I specifically wanted them separated this way for when I introduce the skill, but I will likely be making a set of mixed operations to use for review also.

Second: New Teacher Toolboxes! My Teacher Toolbox labels have been my best sellers by far, so when a lovely teacher asked me to make some in college colors for her two daughters, I couldn't resist! Of course, I had to make some for *my* favorite team too! I'm not naming schools because, well, copyright and all. Can you figure them out? Guess all three in the comments, and I might just make your team for free!
Want labels to match your school or college colors? Just email me!

OMG!!! Sucked in! I started reading this at 5am because I couldn't fall back asleep after Hubs left for work, and I was finished before lunch. I'm exercising self control and not starting the second one until I've accomplished something today. :)

Last night, I went with a bunch of my teacher buds to see Wicked at TPAC in Nashville! LOVE, LOVE, LOVED IT! Seriously, if you get the chance, go!

We're having a BBQ at my house this afternoon for my husband's unit, so I am off to clean house and help him cook!

Meanwhile, I'm joining in on the Spring Cleaning Sale fun with Georgia Grown Kiddos. My entire store will be 15% off today through the 31st! Head over to her linky to see who else has their store on sale!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tech Thursday: Google SafeSearch

This week's tech tip: how to set up Google SafeSearch.

Our school has a pretty good internet filter, but sometimes things still show up on my students' Google searches that I would rather not be there. (Especially true of 5th grade boys!) There are a ton of student friendly SafeSearch sites out there, but my big kids want to just "Google it" so they usually don't go to those sites unless I am hovering over them.

Enter Google SafeSearch. If you have a Google account, you can even lock SafeSearch so that you have to be the one to turn it off! The downside is that you'll have to do this on every computer, but if it will clean up the search results (and I'm hoping also the Google ads), it's worth it!

Here's how to get it done:

1. Go to
2. At the top of the first screen you'll see this:

3. Turn on SafeSearch by checking the "filter explicit results" box.
4. If you have a Google account, you can lock this setting. Just click the "lock safe search button".
5. After you enter your password, you will be taken to this screen, and you'll need to click "lock safe search" again.

6. It will work for a few seconds, and when it's ready you'll see this:

As my students would say, easy peasy, lemon squeezy! Hope this helps clean up your students' Google searches!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Web Wednesday: Online Gaming for US History

The downside to being in full time grad school is obvious - It's a *ton* of work! On top of the ton of work that teaching is by itself!

There is a definite upside though. My concentration is on Digital Teaching and Learning, which means that about half of my assignments have me scouring the Internet for resources that can be used in the classroom! That gave me an idea: I should SHARE all of these resources with you! And so, Web Wednesday is born! My plan is to post one new website, game, or web 2.0 tool every Wednesday that I am incorporating into my teaching.

So without further ado...

This week's find is one I'm really excited about for teaching US History. Our Social Studies standards cover US history from Native Americans to the Civil War. That makes this AMAZING online game perfect for my class! We all know that our students *love* video games, and anytime there is a way to incorporate gaming into my instruction, I get excited about it. At 5th grade, it's sometimes tough to find games that have true educational value and are still fun and engaging for students. I think this one fits the bill!

Mission-US ( is a multimedia game that immerses students in historical events. Students take on the role of a child or teen living in a specific time in history. In these roles, students are challenged with a variety of tasks that their character would have needed to complete. They are exposed to elements of daily life in the time period, and witness historical events "firsthand" as their character. You do have to register, but everything is completely FREE!

There is a wealth of information on their Educators page about how each mission applies to your standards, how to incorporate the games in class, and overviews of each specific part of the games. Additionally, there are enrichment activities and writing prompts to enhance the impact of these games in your classroom. There are currently three missions, with plans to add more this summer.

Mission 1 is perfect for my students right now, so it's the one I have focused my attention on. This mission is set in and around Boston in 1770 and follows 14-year-old Nathaniel as he leaves his family home to become an apprentice for a notable printer in Boston. Students learn about Loyalists and Patriots, the Sons of Liberty, and the Boston Massacre. From their teacher's guide:
"As Nat, students playing the Mission will be charged with a number of tasks while working to gain the apprenticeship. From selling advertisements to merchants, to confronting soldiers patrolling the wharves, to learning pro-Patriot songs to play on his pennywhistle, Nat’s activities will introduce the player to the full strata of colonial society and the growing tensions within it. Students will also examine primary source documents from the period as they work to gain Mr. Edes’s respect, and interact with historical figures such as Phillis Wheatley and Paul Revere.

During the Mission, students will play through several “days” of Nat’s apprenticeship, ranging from February 21, 1770 to March 6, 1770.  Each day in Nat’s life focuses on different elements of the growing tensions between the colonists and the Crown...Regardless of which paths students choose, Nat witnesses the Boston Massacre on the night of March 5, 1770. In the aftermath of the Massacre, Nat will be forced to make decisions about where his allegiances lie.  Ultimately, it will be up to the player to determine whether or not Nat continues his apprenticeship and joins the Patriot cause in Boston, runs away to sea, or remains loyal to the Crown."
Mission 2 follows a 14-year-old slave in Kentucky on her journey to escape slavery to Ohio. They discover that life in the North is still dangerous and very difficult for escaped slaves. Students learn about the Fugitive Slave Act.

In Mission 3, students become a Northern Cheyenne boy during the time of Westward Expansion. Topics covered include the conflict between the US government and the Northern Cheyennes, the forced relocation of Native Americans, the Battle of Little Bighorn, and more.

I am really excited about getting to use this site with my students when we get back from Spring Break! I hope you find ways to use it in your classrooms too!


***If you're still reading and you're teaching the American Revolution, head over to my Facebook Page today for a flash freebie that you can use with your Revolution unit! Click on the Fan Freebies button at the top to grab your copy. It'll only be free until tomorrow morning, so get it quick!***

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hello Spring Break! {+New Product Giveaway)

Day #1 of Spring Break is officially underway! It's not even kind of spring-y outside (28 degrees right now!) and according to the forecast, we're in the 40's until Thursday. It's not exactly ideal for Spring Break fun with my little one, but maybe the weather will keep me on track with the hundred items on my to do list! I'm already feeling like this week is too short, and it just started!

So far, I've been pretty productive. My little guy slept until 8, so I finally got around to finishing and uploading these task cards I made a few months back for my class. One set includes only Addition & Subtraction, and the other includes Multiplication & Division.


I looked and looked for task cards that separated the operations this way, because that's how we teach them. Since I couldn't find any, I got to work making my own! I'm planning to add a set of mixed operations and expressions with two operations.


I'd love to give a set of these away today, so if you'd like to enter, leave a comment below with something specific you look for in a set of task cards. I'll draw a winner randomly tomorrow morning!

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March Currently

I can't believe it's already March! This is our short month - three weeks of school, and then Spring Break! I'm linking up for one of my favorite linkys, Farley's Currently!

Listening... My little man surprised his daddy and I today by singing his ABC's! He's still missing a lot of letters, but he's doing pretty well considering we hardly ever sing it to him. I'm a proud mama for sure!

Loving...that I figured out how to put fan freebies on my Facebook page, AND that I had extra time to work on it tonight. explanation needed here, I'm sure. Testing so early is stressful, but once it's over, I'm so happy!

Wanting...I am SO over this cold weather. Tonight, we are down to the low teens with freezing rain/ice until 3am, then snow on top of it. UGH! I am ready for spring!

Needing...Just one more day of the weekend. Our students are off tomorrow due to the weather, but teachers still have to report on a two-hour delay. Fingers are crossed for work time in our rooms! I totally need it!

?????...Brookies. You have to guess the question. Leave your guesses in the comments, and there just might be a reward for you if you're right!

When you're finished guessing and downloading your freebie, head over to Farley's blog to see what everyone else is up to in March!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Five for Fraturday: Testing Week Fun!

My school is officially D.O.N.E. with standardized testing!!! Our testing comes super early in the year, but it's so nice that it's over and I can just teach for the next three months! Since my kiddos worked so hard all morning, we spent most of our afternoons relaxing. (I did squeeze in one educational actvity, though!)

Here are five things from my week:
As a last minute review before testing, we made human timelines of the events leading up to the revolution. I typed full page signs for enough events to split my students into even groups. Each group had 5 minutes to put themselves in chronological order - without speaking! This was amazingly tough for them to accomplish, but fun for me to watch all of their facial expressions and frantic pointing. They were having a little trouble, so I gave them 2 minutes to look at the timelines we had created in their notebooks (You can get it in my TPT store HERE). Again, they weren't allowed to talk. I found that this made everyone work at it, instead of relying on the natural leaders to do all the work. Once the 2 minutes were up, they were allowed to try one more time to get in order in their groups. After looking over the timeline, they did MUCH better! Here are my winners - they were the first group to line up in the correct order.

If you have to cover up everything useful on your walls, you might as well at least cover it with some testing encouragement! My students decorated bulletin board paper with motivational sayings, and I added one more special one the morning before the test.

We finished our baseball theme with some "Game Day" promises. Each student looked through our playbook of testing strategies and chose one they struggle with to promise to work on this week.

In keeping with the baseball theme we did last week, I sent baseballs home to the parents (one for each day of testing), and asked them to write encouraging notes on them for their students. I added a new note every morning, and by the end of the week, their desks were covered with encouragement! I only had a couple of parents not return the notes, and I just wrote notes for those kids myself.

We spent most of our afternoons doing art projects from the fabulous Jen Runde's blog. Her "I am" project was my absolute favorite. The kids loved getting to color the entire page and then write with sharpies over it. I loved getting them to brag about themselves a little bit. We all know fifth graders are right on the edge of the years of zero self-confidence, so I loved this way to get them thinking positively about themselves. I'm going to get them laminated next week and let them take them home after a few weeks in the hallway. (And apparently I forgot to take pictures of them, so I'll take some next week to share!)

Well, that's it for my week. Hope you all are relaxing and having a wonderful weekend! I'm off to start my very first Project Life album! (I'm sure I'll post about it soon!)