Monday, December 30, 2013

The New Year...2014

I am linking up with the First Grade Nest to bring you my resolutions for 2014.  At church on Sunday, our pastor spoke about the new year and resolutions.  He mentioned that we all have great things that happened in the past year, but there are all of those things that we keep hidden from others or that we could've changed a year ago, but just held onto instead.  Isn't that so true?  In some ways I feel like I am making the same resolutions I did at this time last year, but hopefully this can be the year to make the resolutions stick!

Monthly Meal Planning:  This resolutions has two main goals (well, maybe three): 1.  Save money,  2.  Cut down on grocery shopping time.  My plan only requires me to grocery shop once a month.  and 3.  Be healthy.  I have researched numerous blogs and websites about the benefits of monthly meal planning and three reasons I want to do are the major benefits.  I officially made my first monthly meal plan yesterday and I shopped at Costco and Kroger for everything we need for this month.  NO more "What's for dinner?"  I have tried weekly meal planning and it worked very well, but I definitely got burned out of the weekly grocery shopping and the time it took to make a new menu every week.  Now I only have to do planning once a month, I think I can handle that!  This plan also requires us to eat at home and not out.  That will be a benefit to our waistlines and budgets!  As I get this first month off the ground, I will let you know how it goes and hopefully will be able to share more with you about monthly meal planning if it is successful.  Day one and so far so good!

Stick to a blogging schedule:  You know those days when school, work, kids...LIFE consumes you?  Well, that was me the month of November and December.  I neglected my blog, this I know.  I have come to terms with the fact that I am not a daily blogger, but I do want to assure my readers that I am still here and that they can count on new content at least weekly (and preferably the same day each week).  I am putting this on my agenda right away!

Keep up the laundry (and the rest of the chores):  I LOATHE laundry, but I despise the piles of clean laundry more.  I have got to get a handle on the daily chores and especially the laundry.  Any tips??

Date Nights:  I love my husband and we do not get to spend much time together outside of our home and especially do not have date nights.  I would love to make this a monthly event. find a babysitter!

Pursue next step in my career:  I don't honestly know what this is at this point and I love, love, love my job that I have, but in my heart I feel the tug of the next thing.  My dream job is to become a special education teacher consultant and several opportunities have fallen into place this past year to keep that passion stirring.  I am considering going back to school to get my Rank 1, but I am still undecided which avenue to choose.  This year, through lots of prayer and more upcoming opportunities I hope to discover the plan God has set before me.

What about you?  What are your goals for 2014?  Join in with my friends and me let us know your wishes for the new year!  Click the pic below to join in!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Is it Christmas break yet!?

I know I have been a blogging slacker lately and if Christmas break would hurry up and get here, I will have time to reconcile my slacker ways!  Until then, I'm off to another theatre production of The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, starring my daughter as Glossie the Reindeer!  :)

I hope you are enjoying this holiday season!  3 days 'til break!! I can make it, I can make it!!


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ummm...Hey there!

Goodness!! What happened to this week?!  It seems like the whole week passed by and I was just woke up and here it is Saturday morning.  I had intentions of blogging several nights this week, but the week turned into craziness instead.  I had an ARC for a new student, my formal observation and other personal life stuff going on that has resulted in stress and sleepless nights. I am happy to see the weekend and ready for Thanksgiving break!!

More to come later, but for now, I need to catch up on all of the house stuff I neglected this week!  Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fall Themed Skip Counting Puzzles

My students  are having some difficulty with skip counting patterns to learn to multiply.  This skill has been incredibly helpful in the past when teaching my kids about multiplication.  I created some skip counting (Fall/Thanksgiving themed, of course) to help solidify those skip counting patterns. 

The cards are cut apart and the student put the cards in the correct order and practice the skip counting pattern.  Once students are given ample opportunity to practice seeing all of the numbers, I screen or turnover some of the numbers and the students have to recite the pattern while filling in the missing numbers.  Eventually, my hope is they will be skip counting to their little heart content without looking at the cards or a number line.
Check them out at my TPT store!

Fall/Thanksgiving Themed Skip Counting Puzzles

Fall/Thanksgiving Themed Skip Counting PuzzlesThere are patterns for the multiples from 2 through 10.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Mathy Monday-Crossing the Decade *freebie*

Today's math game is about crossing the decuple in math.  If you don't know this means going from one decade of numbers to the next, for example 28, 29, 30.  My math group has great difficulty crossing the decade when counting back.  This is important, because the students will need this skill when learning to do subtraction and counting back to answer subtraction problems.  Also, some of my math kids have difficulty recognizing and naming the numerals 13 and 30 or 15 and 50.  This activity shows them where 15 and 50 (for example) are in a series of counting numbers.  

Materials you will need:
Board game, dice or arrow cards (if you use dice-write the numbers 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90, if you use arrow cards use 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90) , markers or pawns to move on the game board

Find a copy of the game board HERE

Student 1 rolls the dice or draws out an arrow card. Student will move pawn to the space on the game board that is the number before the decade number they rolled or pulled out.
For example:  Student rolls 60, student will move pawn to the 59 on the game board.
Student 2 takes a turn, following the same directions.
The first person to the finish wins.  This game goes quickly, but I have my student play several times with a different partner each time.

Modifications: Have a numeral roll available so the student can look back to find the number and see what is before.  Have the student start at a higher number and count back, to get the rhythm and pattern in mind before moving his or her pawn.

I'm also linking up for Made It Monday!! :)  Hope you enjoy this game!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Veteran's Day & Reading A-Z

As you, loyal readers, know I love and am proud to be using Reading A-Z.  I love everything from their books to their activities for each guided reading lesson!   Today I wanted to share with you some of the activities that I have created for this week's lessons on Veteran's Day.
This week we will be reading the book Veteran's Day found on Reading A-Z.  (If you don't subscribe, I highly recommend the site, these activities will work with any book on Veteran's Day).

 Veteran's Day and the activities that surround this great day of memorial are special to me.  My dad is a veteran of the Vietnam War and helping and providing services to veterans of all wars is very important to my dad and to all of my family.  My dad started the VFW program in his hometown and was commander of the post for several years before recently turning that job over to a new commander.  I am proud of him for doing such a great job and supporting the veterans in his community.
Here is my dad at the VFW post.   I know it is not the best pic, but he not the picture taking kind of guy and I'm lucky to get this one.  PS---no one tell my dad that there is a pic posted of him on my blog ;)  He'll get me for this! :)

So, anyway, back to school and my lessons (PS-my dad always called my homework, lessons.  That drove me nuts when I was little.  It was so old school sounding when he would say, "Do you have your lessons done?")  

I have created a "dressed up" pack of activities to go along with Veteran's Day.  Included in the lessons are:

Vocabulary word wall words

Grammar work-A verb tense word sort

Word Work-Syllables

Comprehension strategy-Visualizing

Writing-A Thank You note to veterans

Head over to my TpT store to download your copy of this activity bundle for next week's Veteran's Day activities! :)

PS:  I will try to create a pack for each Reading A-Z story that I use.  I love the activities that they provide, but I do like them a little cuter ;)  I will be sharing these with you weekly.  I plan to have them posted on Saturdays.  Thanks for reading and supporting me so much!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Five for Friday! :)

It's Friday!!!  This short week has been a long one! ;)  I'm linking up today with Doodle Bugs Teaching to show the top 5 highlights of my week.

1.  We had Tuesday off for Election Day. It was great to have a random mid-week day off.  My kids and I hung out at our favorite bookstore for the morning.  We {heart} Joseph-Beth!

Bonding over books!  Love!

2.  Land of Stories by Chris Colfer.  My oldest child started reading these books and now I am hooked!  FYI: If you haven't read the Land of Stories series...they are awesome.   Chloe is holding the second of the series in this pic. They are the "true" tales of everyone's favorite fairy tales.  The two main characters fall into the Land of Stories and find out some truths about their family.  Check them out!  

3.  The graphic below comes from my favorite iPhone app, Cuptakes.  It has tons of girly graphics for backgrounds or lock screen savers.  I love them!  

4.  These "tweeties" came from Target and inspired me to go for a snuggly, cozy, comfy Christmas theme this year.  Adorable, right?!  

5.  And finally, because I cannot hardly wait until Christmas, I created a simple little Christmas planner for myself and for you.  It is available at my TpT store :)

Have a great weekend!! :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

{FREEBIE} The Little List that Changed my Life ;)

Special education teachers!  Raise your hand if you are knee deep in paperwork and can feel the piles falling in!  I see your hands!  I'm right there with ya!
Meetings, IEPS, progress monitoring...oh my!  It's a vicious cycle that never ends, but I have a little freebie for you today that may just make your life a teensy bit easier.

One thing that I always struggled with was keeping up with the meetings.  It's hard to keep straight all of the attendees, the date (after you have to change it 3 time to accommodate schedules), whether or not parent can come, and on and on.  It seems like this task should be so easy... you invite everyone that works with the student, send the notice, wait to hear from the parent, probably reschedule :), and put it on your calendar to remember.  My problem would come mostly from the fact that I would send a notice and put another notice in the due process file and then I couldn't remember who all was invited and if I had heard back from everyone and then when I needed to see what the meeting is about or who/if I invited a certain person I would have to go dig out that notice from a gigantic file.  Not effective, people.  So, this year I came up with this handy little checklist that has immensely helped to keep me organized.

In the picture on the left you see the checklist includes: Student name, date, time, purpose of the meeting, and blanks for the of the first and second notice.  Then you see check boxes for each person that could (potentially) be invited to the meeting and a blank for the name.  
In the picture on the right you see how I use the checklist.  When I have a meeting notice to send, I fill in the information in the top section and write the names in the blanks for the people that need to be invited.  I put the checklist on a small clipboard that I keep on my desk.  Notice the post-its?
Blue=notice sent, waiting to hear from everyone
Green=Good to go!  All attendees have responded and the meeting is ready to go
As each person responds to whether or not they can attend the meeting, I check off in the check box that the person can attend.  
You can see at this time, I had three meetings getting ready to take place.  I kept the checklists in chronological order from the meeting scheduled soonest to latest.  This also helps me to prioritize what I need to work on, such as writing a new IEP or updating progress monitoring.

I am including a link to my TpT store so you can go download this for free!  MEETING INVITE CHECKLIST
 Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!  Helpful?  Suggestions?  I'd love to hear how you use this!

I hope this helps bring a little more sanity to your day! :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Great News :)

Recently, I have had the opportunity to see my dream of helping other teachers come to fruition not once, but twice in the same week.

The first opportunity came from my new friend, Maggie, from Mississippi.  Maggie read my series of blog posts about how I teach reading and was inspired and had some questions about how I teach reading.  She is a first year special education teacher looking for some advice and I was and am so happy to share with her (and anyone else for that matter).  I must say that I was a little skeptical at first when I received her email asking if we could chat sometime about reading.  I have to admit that I looked her up and made sure she wasn't a stalker or something!  (Betcha didn't know that, Maggie!)  :)  Anyway, she wasn't a stalker and we talked on the phone and I had the opportunity to share with her about how I teach.  Honestly, I loved helping her out, but really the email and phone call was probably more of a blessing to me maybe than it was to her.  Sharing with and helping other special education teachers has become my new mission.  I love teaching and I love kids, but to share my knowledge with others and to work with new teachers is becoming my new dream.

The next opportunity came in the form of another email and follow up phone call.  This opportunity came on exactly the same day as Maggie's email and it about knocked my socks off!  If you've been reading my blog, you know that I am in love with Reading A-Z and the resources the site provides.  Well, the next email came from the product marketing manager from Learning A-Z, Jan.  Her email stated that she had read my blog and she was interested in talking to me about how I use Reading A-Z in my resource classroom.  The next thing I know I am being offered a subscription to RAZ kids to compliment my Reading A-Z use in my classroom.  I could not have been more over the moon about this!  Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Learning A-Z crew!!

So, readers, for you this means a lot more posts about my reading groups and how I teach reading using Reading A-Z and RAZ kids!  I cannot wait to share with you how these resources are helping my students!  I am so excited to see my blog helping other teachers and also helping my students.  This has been a blessing to me in so many ways!


Monday, November 4, 2013

Bead Stems (Math-y Monday)

Well, it's been a few weeks since I've posted any Math-y Monday posts!  The days really get away from me sometimes and I lose track of time and this blog, unfortunately.  Today I want to share with you my math activity for the week and get back on track with the Mathy Monday!

This week we are working on adding within 20 and the activity we are using this week is called, Bead Stems.  In this activity, students are learning to move from using manipulatives or physical object to making a mental representation of the number of objects when items are screened.  This is an important skill in connecting a written amount to the understanding of a quantity.

What you need:  beaded chenille stems (5 to 15 beads), large cup, cover, card set
  *Notice the different color beads.  I put five blue and then five red to help the students see how many are there without counting from one.  There are ten stems, beads number from 5 to 15.

What you do:
1. Place beaded stems in a large cup. Shuffle cards and place in a stack face-down.
2. On your turn
a. Draw 1 beaded stem and determine the number of beads.
b. Place stem under a cover.
c. Draw a card. Look at it briefly and then turn card over (or place it under a cover).
d. Determine how many in all.

In this picture you see the setup of the tools you will need for the activity.

In this picture you see the tools in use.  Notice that the bead stem is covered, screening the beads.  The student must remember how many are on the stem to be able to count on the bead that would need to be added.  We are working mental math here! :)

Leave either the bead stem or the card uncovered, allowing the student the ability to count the beads if needed.  You can also determine which bead cards you use and limiting what the students add to 3 or 4 beads at a time.


Sunday, November 3, 2013


I'm linking up with Farley for November's Currently!  

Listening:  It's early on a Sunday morning and the only ones up right now are the kids.  They love having the TV to themselves until it is time for everyone else to wake up.

Loving:  A extra hour of sleep!  I {heart} daylight savings time!  My kids didn't get the memo, hence the reason they are up so early watching cartoons, but I do like not waking up in the dark during the school week.

Thinking:  I've got to get moving soon.  We have about an hour and a half to get ready for church, but here I sit.  I'll get there! 

Wanting:  I really want to visit the new COSTCO in town after church today!  Guess what the bonus to going to COSTCO is?  Target is right up the road!  LOVE!!

Needing:  Okay, so this probably qualifies as a want, but I NEED a leopard print scarf.  I'm on the lookout!!

Yummy Pin:  Nestle TollHouse Cookie Pie!  Cookie + Pie = YUM!!!  Two treats in one?  Can't get any better than this! | NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Pie

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I'm Here Because of Where I've Been

The title of this post pretty much says it all.  I am at the school I am at, because of the path that was planned for me.  If I hadn't followed my calling and said yes to the places and the people along the way, then I could be somewhere different perhaps.

Let me just update you, in case this is the first post of the last 3 that you have read.  I began telling my story of teaching, the good times and the bad, because I have read so many posts lately on blogs and through Facebook from teachers I follow that have been about teacher's feeling discontent and burned out.  I don't have the answer to why teacher's are feeling so stressed.  Maybe it's the demands of the government, the administration, students, families, colleagues or maybe all of these combined.  Whatever it is, I don't have an answer or a solution to fix what is wrong with everyone, but I do have empathy for those that are struggling.  I wrote these series of posts to possibly give hope to those in a less than perfect environment.  You are not alone, teacher friends, everyone struggles, but God promises that he has a plan and a purpose for you.  You just have to follow him.

I began teaching at a brand new school this year.  Brand new building, brand new staff, new kids, new books, new computers, new everything!  To say it is a dream come true is an understatement, but the road to where I am now has been paved by the choices and the people I have met along the way.

Over three years ago when I began looking for a job in Central KY, I interviewed for two different jobs. You know that I accepted the second job.  What you don't know is that I was not offered the first job, but was offered a one year position in that school.  I declined that at the time, because I needed something more permanent.  You also don't know, that I was offered another interview right here in the town I live in right after I had accepted the job at my second school.  Three years ago I could have been teaching in the county I lived in, what I really wanted to do the whole time, but I had made a verbal commitment to my second school and I couldn't go back on that.  If I had taken any of the other offers, I may have missed out on some of the struggles I had at the second school.  Possibly, I would have not had to work so hard to deal with behavior issues or I would have been in a district with a ton of special education support.  On the other hand, I would not have had the chance to learn new behavior techniques, I wouldn't have become certified as a math interventionist, I wouldn't be a part of a cadre to learn about autism and to better services the needs of those on the spectrum.  I wouldn't have had the chance to work with kids and parents that are different from me and different than what I was used to.  I learned a lot about different cultures and socio-economic levels there.  Maybe I wouldn't have developed my talents to become a leader, because I wouldn't have spent time on leadership teams or Site Based or had my first KTIP intern.  I also wouldn't have made the connections with some really awesome friends that mean the world to me now.  And, maybe my personal kids wouldn't have developed the friendships they made with some outstanding kiddos in that school.  Although, I experienced difficulty and often felt like I didn't really have anywhere to turn for help, the experiences I gained there helped to shape who I am becoming.

When I interviewed for the position I have now, someone said to me that I would be lucky to get a job at this brand new school, because they had heard how many people were applying for the 2 special education positions and it would be really hard to land this job or even get an interview.  At the time, my feelings were a little hurt, but you know, luck really had nothing to do with it.  God had prepared my heart and gave me the knowledge and wisdom I needed to move on one more time to do what He had called me to do.  Everything I had been through, the offers I declined, the chances I took, and the path I followed have all collectively led closer and closer to my dream.  I cannot discount the opportunities that I have had and the people that have influenced my teaching career.  Times were not always rosy, but God is in my plans.  He is in my future and He has led me faithfully this far.  I absolutely love where I am now and am beyond thankful for the opportunity to be where I am.  For now, I am content, I am living my dream right now, but I know there is more to come.  I have new dreams now and God is still in those and I cannot wait to see what is coming next!

To all of you, waiting for what's next, I pray blessings on your journey and your dreams.  Keep doing what you are doing, because you are being prepared for what is coming next.

One more thing...I just thank you all for reading my little blog from all the way out here in Kentucky.  I appreciate each of you that click and read what I have to say.  I have had the opportunity this week to talk with two different people (from different parts of the US) on the phone about my blog and what I'm doing and that is just unreal to me.  When I first started blogging, I had no idea the reach this would take or the difference it might make to someone.  I am starting to see the next part of my dream and God's plans come into view.  For that, I am so thankful!

Keep reading, keep teaching, and keep dreaming!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

My Story-The Next Chapter

Yesterday, I began sharing with you my story of teaching and my struggles and successes along the way.  After reading so many teacher blogs lately about frustrating situations and burnout, I felt like it may be time to share my story with my readers and let other people know that they are not alone.  There is a reason for every season!

My Story-Chapter 2
After searching for a job for several months and continually praying for the right place to go, I was offered a job at a small public school in Central KY.  The commute would be about 25 minutes from our new house and it was an exciting time for our whole family.  We moved in June of 2010 and settled into our new home quickly.  We came here not knowing a soul, except my friend, Mandy's sister, Misty.  I am thankful for her being here and introducing me to some great people that are my new friends today.

I spent a majority of my summer nervous about a new school and homesick.  There were several days that I wondered if I had done the right thing and I missed my family and my old school something awful!  As the summer went on and I was allowed into the school building, I was quickly overwhelmed with the work that needed to be done.  I'm not even talking about paperwork, I mean physical labor here people.  I shared a room with another special ed teacher and her side of the room looked great, but the part I inherited...not-so-much!  I spent several days moving out furniture and pitching junk in a trash can!  Besides the mess that I walked into, I also walked into a school that was the opposite of what I had recently taught at.  This school was in a high minority, high poverty area.  I was warned about the severe needs of my students and the extreme behaviors of some others.  It definitely made this country girl nervous.  This was the closest to "inner city" that I could imagine.  Honestly, some of the stories that I was told made me extremely nervous about working in this school and made me miss home even more.

I must say that although the building was not new and there was a lot of work to do with the students, I was welcomed to the school with open arms and a good attitude.  I will forever be indebted to a few wonderful teachers there.  Cyndee was my special ed partner in crime and she showed me the ropes and the ways of this school district.  The other person is Janet.  Janet became my mom here!  She became my go to person and my surrogate mom (because now I lived 4 and a half hours from my mom).  Janet and I were co-teachers and we could speak to each other in class without saying a word.  We even told our class that I was her daughter and they believed us!  I am proud to call her "mom," when I had to be so far from my own.  I spent many an afternoon spilling my guts to her, sharing my joys, and unloading my burdens.  There were tough circumstances for many of my students (things I had never dealt with before) and Janet showed me support and gave me ways to handle the new kids and situations I faced, all while being my friend and confidant.

During my three years at PES, I encountered many struggles and because the people there are so near and dear to me, I don't feel as if I should share everything that was tough.  One of the biggest challenges for me was coming from a large school district to a very small school district (one elementary-about 300ish kids, one middle, and one high school).  This place was tiny in comparison to my previous district.  There were many times that I felt alone and unsure how to handle situations, because I didn't have a lot of people to bounce ideas off of.  Our special education department consisted of 2 special ed. teachers, speech therapist, OT, and special education director/school psychologist.  Honestly, if there was a problem and one of us didn't have an answer there wasn't really anywhere else to turn.  I can remember one student that I worked with that had some challenging behaviors.  I tried everything that I knew to do to modify his behavior and implemented strategies to keep him in the regular classroom, but for all of my efforts and the advice of others, it was nearly impossible.  Sometimes special education can be a lonely field, just because there aren't as many of us out there and schools usually only have a few sped teachers unlike the several regular education teachers at all grade levels.

My first year there, I felt like it was my calling to be there.  God had opened doors for me and placed me where I needed to be.  There were kids there that needed me and I worked as hard as I could to meet their needs.  The second year, I felt like I should stay and see my kids through another year and the one kid in particular (that I mentioned early) was making progress and I felt compelled to stay and help him and his family.  By the third year, I knew in my heart that my time here was almost over.  The student I worked so hard to help moved away and another student that stole my heart and helped me grow as a teacher was headed to middle school.  I could do longer feel the compelling pull to stay.  I was ready to go and ready to grow.  This brings me almost up to present day, friends.  ;)

I began searching for a new job in the spring and as you know I did find a new school home.  This second chapter of my teaching career was a learning and growing experience.   It gave me the opportunity to work with a population of students different than what I was accustomed to and it gave me challenge of finding and implementing new ideas.  I think this is where I grew the most into a leader and realized more of my dream of becoming a teacher that helps other teachers.  I love, love my students and want to continue working with kids for several years to come, but it also opened my eyes to new opportunities in leadership and gave me the confidence to try new things. I know several of you reading this are in a place that you are not that excited about, but I promise you that you are there for a purpose.  God is growing something inside of you.  He is giving you a challenge and helping you to grow.  I know situations can be tough, but this too shall pass and you will come out better for what you go through in the end.

Tomorrow-The New School :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

For Every Season There is a Reason-My Story (Part 1)

Lately, I've been reading several blog posts about teacher burnout or bad experiences that teachers are having in the classroom this year.  Unfortunately, every career has its lows and teaching is no exception.  We are far enough into the school year now that the new has worn off, the reports cards have gone out, the students are finding their niche (or lack of) academically and socially, and parents are making their pleasure or disdain known.  It is a tough time of year.  Period.  I do not want this post to be about passing blame or even finding reasons why teaching is so difficult, but instead I wish to bring hope to those that are in difficult situations in teaching.  I would like to share my story with you.  I have waited a long time to share my story, as I feel that it is not complete, but I want to share with you and encourage others that are having a rough time right now.  I will warn you now that this promises to be lengthy and maybe emotional (well, mostly for me, anyway), but if you are reading this then please keep reading.  My plan is to write this in three parts, as I have now taught in three different school districts and my prayer is that my story touches someone. 

Part 1-HES
This is my tenth year teaching and it has definitely had its ups and downs.  The first several years are a blur to me now and sometimes I think back and say to myself, "How in the world did I ever make it?"  I was very fortunate to begin my teaching career in January of 2004 after graduating in December of 2003.  I was welcomed into a school that was warm and inviting and I was blessed to teach with some of my college classmates.  I taught in a resource setting all day my first year.  This was a tough time to say the least, because I was brand new and trying to find my way into a school year that had already started around a staff that I didn't know in a town forty five minutes from my house.  This first school though, had several "seasoned" teachers that took me under their wings and taught me "the ways."  The principal, teachers, parents, and students quickly became family to me. HES was the top in the state and reached Proficiency early in the game, but good test scores weren't the only thing that made this school so special. People from the community and in the school often remarked about the care and dedication of the teachers in our building and the amazing parent support that helped create a climate like no other.  The school was often called the most Christian school that wasn't actually a religious school.  Pretty good for a public school if you ask me, as my relationship with God and my care for my family is the most important thing to me.   I spent five years at HES teaching resource and collaboration in the intermediate grade levels and my sixth and final year there co-teaching in Kindergarten.  Little did I know, that God was preparing me for a bigger change and placed me teaching with my best friend that would support and encourage me to make one of the biggest transitions of my life.  

In December of 2010, my husband was offered a job in the Central Kentucky area.  As I mentioned earlier I was teaching with my best friend, Mandy.  Mandy and I often talked about the Central KY area, because this is where her sister lives.  She always talked about how she liked it here and thought I would like it, too.  Little did either of us know at the time that God had something in store.  I vividly remember one day after school helping Mandy wipe down the tables in her Kindergarten classroom discussing G-town and how nice it is and how it would be weird if my husband were to ever relocate with his job to this area. My husband and I knew, in the back of our mind that this may be an option at some point in our lives, but never really expected anything to ever happen.  Not long after my conversation with Mandy that day, my husband informed me that a colleague of his in the Central KY area had been let go and that his company was looking for someone to fill that position.  Suddenly, we were faced with a decision that we had always haphazardly talked about and only really taken lightly, but now realized that this could be reality.  In December of 2009, my husband and I decided that relocating for his job was an opportunity that couldn't be passed up.  God had opened so many doors for us and confirmed this decision to us in so many ways that the final decision was actually very easy to make.  Mandy was the first person that I told.  I told her even before my family knew anything about this at all.  She was so happy for me and encouraged me to go and even though I knew that I would be leaving a school I loved and people that were like family to me, I knew in my heart that this is what we were meant to do.  I must say that my friend's encouragement and excitement for me and this new journey was all of the confirmation that I needed that the right decision had been made. We kept our news quiet through Christmas and finally told our families after the holidays.  Talk about keeping a secret!  Whew!  That was tough!

Soon after the new year, I made the news known to my principal that I would be leaving.  It was a sad time, but exciting.  Emotions were high is an understatement.  My husband started his new position soon after the beginning of the year and moved to Lexington (four hours away from me and our two kids-who at the time where 7 and 3) in February, but I stayed back to finish up the school year and to begin the search for a new job.  This definitely took a toll on my sanity!  I've noticed while reading other teachers posts about their burnout or a tough school year is immediately after big change.  Change is so difficult, but it is how we handle that change that determines how we come out in the end.  

My husband came home every weekend during the five months that we were separate from one another and we either talked or Skyped every evening. Here my little guy is talking to Daddy while he is gone for his new job.

 I am thankful for HES during this time in my life.  Several teachers there took care of me and encouraged me.  Mandy was by my side and always willing to help.  My parents lived close and were there every time I called.  It was tough, but manageable.  During this time of transition I began completing applications and filing out resumes and hoping and praying that I could find a job from hundreds of miles away.  I drove to Central KY twice for two separate interviews and luckily landed the second job.  I was ecstatic to have somewhere to go to when I left my old school.  Leaving my old school though, turned out to be one of the hardest things that I ever did in my life.  

HES is where I "grew up" as a teacher.  I had wonderful mentors, principals, and friends and family all right there in that 500+ student body and staff.  I learned to be a leader there, I followed the footsteps of amazing teachers, and strived to me like them one day, and I was leaving behind my best friends, which now had become my family.  I questioned our decision so many times when it came down to time to really say good-bye.  On the last day of school,  I was a wreck.  I cried probably 90% of that day and when I wasn't crying I was thinking about crying.  I would miss that school so much.  After I said my final good-byes for one last time, I opened the main doors to the outside and stepped out, and thought to myself, "This is the last time that I leave this building as a teacher at HES."  Humbled, heart crushed, excited, confused, anxious were only a few of the ways I was feeling on this last day.  One thing though that gave me comfort was that everyone there always said, "Once a Hunter, Always a Hunter" is a motto that rings so true to the students, teachers and families that go through the doors of HES.

This is just the first "chapter" in my story of life and school.  I must say that life was good there and I was lucky to have been there for so long, but that season of my life was ending and God was preparing me for what lay ahead.  Many changes and questions would soon fill my mind and heart as new school year started.  Fellow teachers, I know how hard it is to make a change.  I know how difficult it is to leave your comfort zone and a place you love, but sometimes God puts you in a place for a season for His reasons.  Whether you have it good where you are at right now or it just stinks where you are, believe that there is a greater purpose for your life.  You are being prepared to do great things.

Until tomorrow and "chapter 2,"  ;)


Monday, October 21, 2013

The ABC Guide to Paraprofessionals' Role and Responsibilities

We all have those moments when we have to create something out of necessity, right?  This year, I am the special ed. team leader at my school and this puts me "in charge" of several things.  I have to attend team leader meetings monthly, help my special ed colleagues by giving suggestions on strategies to help kids and also on all of that lovely paperwork, and working with and managing paraprofessionals.  

I can tell you that I scoured the internet looking for something that would be just right to help me show to a paraprofessional that would lay out what their responsibilities within the school setting are.  I came up empty handed.  I figured that if I had this need then others have this need and there is not much help out there.  So, to help you and me, I have created the ABC Guide to Paraprofessionals' Roles and Responsibilities.  This handy guidebook is organized using the alphabet and is written in a user friendly, positive format.  Each letter of the alphabet is a responsibility or a guideline for a paraprofessional to follow (heads-up...some letters have two responsibilities).  A sign-ff page is included at the end for your documentation for training purposes.

The ABC Guide to Paraprofessionals' Roles and Responsibilities

I hope you enjoy and find it very useful!!


Monday, October 7, 2013


Hey friends!  No Math this Monday!! We are on Fall Break and hanging out in Disney World! :)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Workshop Wednesday-Word Work

I'm joining up with Ideas by Jivey this week for Workshop Wednesday!  This week the topic is Word Work and how you use it in reader's workshop.

This is my word work area.  The small whiteboard hold the directions for the word work and is also needed sometimes to complete word work.  The two ottomans hold all of the materials needed for word work.  (I scored these ottomans with lift off lids at Target on CLEARANCE!)  
My word work works like this:
Each student is tested on fluency each Monday.  The words that the student misses, becomes a word the student needs to know.  These words are placed on notecards and stored in plastic notecard boxes.  The students also have words from their sight word list.  I use FRY words for sight word practice.  The students have between 10-15 words in their word box.  The students have time in their schedule to work on their individual words.  They are assessed on the words on Fridays.  

See what's inside the ottomans and what activities my kids love to use:

I found these red, zipper bags at the Dollar Tree.  They are perfect for holding word work materials and also fit neatly into the ottomans.  Here you see my Nuts and Bolts activity.  The twist the nuts on the bolts to spell their words.

Stickers and Stamps!

Black paper and Chalk
Foam letters

All activities neatly tucked away.

Also, if you've been reading my blog lately, you know that I discussed my procedures for  teaching resource reading/guided reading.  Each guided reading lesson has a word work component.  Some weeks it may be spelling patterns and other weeks it may be synonyms, antonyms, etc.  I keep any activity sheets and instructions for specific activities in the word work area.  The students are required to complete the weekly guided reading lesson specific activity before they can do a choice word work activity.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Math-y Monday & Freebie!

Today's math intervention game is:  Fill 20

Materials: Game Board (click the picture to download a game board), number cube, counters

If your students are working on counting to 20, follow these directions:
1. Get a game board and bag of counters for you and a partner
2. Student 1 rolls the number cube and puts that many counters on the game board.
3. Student 1 tells partner how many counters are on the game board altogether.
4. Partners take turns
5. Players tell partners how many counters are on your game board after each time new counters are added.
6. The first player to fill a game board wins.

If your students are working on adding two groups of numbers that will have a sum less than 20, follow these directions:
1. Get a game board, bag of counters, and a cover (this could be a piece of cloth)
2. On the first turn, player 1 rolls the number cube and puts that many counters on the game board.
Player 1 tells the partner how many counters are on the game board and then cover the board.
3. Student 2 does the same.
4. On the next turn, player 1 rolls the number cube and makes a prediction on how many counters
will be on the board altogether when the rolled number of counters is added.
5. Take the cover off game board, put the counters on, and check the prediction.
6. Student 2 takes a turn
7. The first player to fill a game board wins!

If your student is working on subtracting within 20, then follow these directions:
*For this one you will need a number cube numbered (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2)
1. Get a game board and bag of counters for each player
2. Fill the game board with 20 counters.
3. Player 1 rolls the number cube.
4. Player 1 tells the  partner how many counters will be on the board after player 1 either adds or
subtracts the number rolled.
5. Add or remove the amount of counters from the roll and see if the answer is correct.
6. Player 2 takes a turn.
7. The first player to empty a game board wins!

This is a picture of Fill 20 in action!

These recording sheets are the way I track student progress (with anecdotal notes).  We do activities for structuring (making 5 or 10), addition and subtractions, numeral identification, and forward and backward number word sequence each week.  I take formative assessment notes on each activity and corresponding day, so I remember how certain students do on certain days.  This helps me to know if I need to keep with a certain activity, go back in the progression of skills, or if my students are ready to move on.  This has been extremely helpful for me this year!

Remember to link up your fun math activities!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Linky=Math-y Monday

I am a math convert.  I used to hate math, I mean really hate math.  I was never good at math and when I was in school I always dreaded math.  I had a hard time understanding the concepts and would be totally confused if someone understood math in a different way and tried to show me in any other way other than the way my teacher had shown me.  Then two years ago now, it happened, I found a love for math.  I participated in a yearlong math professional development and it lead to a whole new understanding to math for me.  I could finally see how to do those different techniques teachers would try to teach me and I could finally understand all of the ways to teach math.  I became certified in a program call Add + Vantage Math-Math Recovery through the Kentucky Center for Mathematics.  The whole time I was learning a new way to learn and teach math, I always thought, "Why didn't someone teach me to teach math this way when I was in college?"  In a new blog series, Math-y Mondays, I will be sharing with you some of the intervention techniques and activities that I have learned and implemented with success to my math resource students.
Without further ado, I introduce to you:

My intervention/game for this week is all about forward and backward number sequence.
*PS-You will see a theme develop with my posts.  The strands that are introduced and taught in AVMR are Forward and Backward Number word sequence, Numeral Identification, Addition and Subtraction, and Structuring.*

Math Scrabble
Materials:  100 board/chart
number tiles (1-100)

Place up to 10 tiles on the hundreds board
Put remaining tiles in a container (I used a drawstring bag that students couldn't see through)

How to play:

  1. Each student draws 7 tiles from container
  2. Direct the students by saying, "You are looking for the (number before or number after--you decide beforehand what you need to work on) and placing the number tile on the board (in front of or after) the number tiles that are already on place on the board.  You're goal is to place all of your tiles before the other players."
  3. Students take turns placing number tiles in appropriate places on the hundreds board.
  4. When a student places a tile in the correct position, have the student count back or count up to the next tile on the board.  For example, when I play this game with my students we are working on backward number sequence.  If the number tile on the board is 53 and the student lays down 52, then they are correct and they count back from 52 down to 45 (if that is the next tile up on the board).  Depending on your students you can cover the board with a cloth to cover the numbers so they have to count back without support from the manipulatives.
  5. When a student does not have a tile that will work, the student draws a new tile and play is passed on to the next person.
  6. Continue following directions from step 3 on.
  7. Play ceases when a player runs out of tiles or the board is full. 
My students loved this game and ask to play it everyday!  That is success right there!!  Fourth and fifth grader love something = awesome!! :)  You could adapt this for younger grades that are not fluent to 100, by using only numbers to 30.  

Enjoy!  Link up below and share your favorite math games!!  I hope you join in on some new weekly fun!

Here are the ground rules:
1.  Grab my Math-y Monday button and add it to your math game post
2.  Link up your math game post
2.  Make a new friend!  Check out the link before and after yours and leave a friendly comment :)
3.  Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of this new linky! :)