Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Putting the Spotlight on Mentor Sentences

I have the great privilege of working with 11 AMAZING upper-grade educators, and contributing to the blog, Upper Elementary Snapshots. Our blog is a great source for ideas and resources for the upper elementary classroom.

Click here to check out my latest post on Mentor Sentences. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite strategies to use with my class of 4th and 5th grade kiddos. Come by to learn more about mentor sentences and how I use them in my classroom. Also, grab a freebie/sample of my newest {and possibly my favorite} product on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Responding to Quotes from The One and Only Ivan {Quotable Characters Freebie}

I am currently reading the novel The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate aloud to my class of 4th and 5th grade students. It took me awhile to give this one a try, but now it is quickly making its way to my list of favorites of all time. Not only are my students enjoying it, but it's such a pleasure to read aloud. We have read so many wonderful novels this year. However, this is the first time that while reading, my classroom is silent, students are still, and ALL of them have their eyes glued to the pages, as I read. It brings a smile to my face, each time we read.

This story is told from the point of view of a gorilla named Ivan, who lives at the "Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade". There, he observes the world around him, and enjoys drawing and watching television. This story offers an interesting and unique perspective. It is so much fun to see inside Ivan's mind, and hear the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of this lovable gorilla.

During just our first few days of reading, my students and I have come across so many wonderful gems and words of wisdom from Ivan and Stella (an elephant, and one of Ivan's best friends). We have enjoyed discussing the meaning behind Ivan's words and thoughts. 

My students have been using the following printable to respond to some of the remarkable and meaningful quotes that we come across as we read...

I have been typing out some of my favorites, and students have been gluing them into the quote box. Then they respond!! As we move forward with this story, I plan to let them select their own quotes to respond to!!
My students have realized that so much can be learned about the characters and themes of the story, from what the characters have to say. If you haven't had a chance to read this amazing story, it's a must-read!! You are sure to fall in love with Ivan and the other characters just as much as my students and I have!!!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Day Sale {15% off in 2015!!!}

Ring in the New Year with some goodies for your classroom!! All of us at Upper Elementary Snapshots are having a 15% off sale on January 1st to celebrate the start of 2015!!!

An InLinkz Link-up

Happy New Year!! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Loved That Lesson!! {Show What You Know}

I am so excited to link up with Meg over at The Teacher Studio for her "Love That Lesson" Linky!!!
This week I am keeping it nice and simple. My addition is not necessarily a "lesson", but actually an "assessment"! One that can be used to assess ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING!!!
{Click Here to grab this freebie!!}

For the last couple of weeks my 5th graders have been learning about wind and other weather patterns in science. While they have been engaged and enthusiastic about this topic, it's been a tough road getting them to truly understand it. While reviewing for our test on Friday, I was so surprised and thrilled with how far they had come and how much they had learned. I figured this would be a good time for them to "show what they know"...
Needless to say, I was absolutely floored by how much they knew and how well they presented their knowledge and understanding!!

I didn't want my 4th graders to feel left out, so they completed one on atoms {their current topic in science}!
This "Show What You Know" printable can be used with just about anything.  Students can "show what they know" about fractions, the 13 colonies, non-fiction text features.... This list goes on and on!!!

I love how this quick and simple assessment gives my students the opportunity to show what they've learned in a way that is meaningful to them. An added bonus is that it also allows them to show their creative sides!! While my students will still take a test on Wednesday to further assess their understanding, I already have a pretty great idea about what they know!!

What wonderful lessons have you LOVED lately? Be sure to link up with Meg over at The Teacher Studio!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November Currently!!!

I have been admiring and reading "Currentlys" forever, but this is the first time I am actually participating!! I always mean to, but month ends and month beginnings are always so hectic. :( By the time I get back in to the blogging world, I realize that I am much too late to the party. It's been a quiet and calm Saturday, and as I opened my computer this evening and realized what the date was, my first thought was... the new "currently" must be ready!!! So happy to finally be able to participate!!! Link up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for more "Currently" Fun!!

Listening: Frozen plays in my home constantly! My littlest is a little {and by little, I mean extremely} obsessed with this movie!! I have made 3 purchases for Christmas already...all 3 Frozen related. Here's my cutie as Elsa for Halloween last night {Her big sis went as a mummy!!}....
Loving: I am absolutely loving today's weather!! Our afternoon temp in my neck of the woods, finally hit the 60s!! This was a huge win for us Southern Californians. We were still having 80-90 degree days earlier this week. On my way home this afternoon, I stopped at Starbucks for my first Caramel Apple Spice of the season!! So glad to have this one day of fall weather, as it looks like we're creeping back into the 80s later this week. 
Thinking: I have been thinking about redecorating my littlest's room for awhile now. She's approaching 4 years and is in desperate need of a big girl bed and a big girl room. {Not to mention, a little bit of organization} Check out this lovely mess....
When we moved into our house a couple years ago, hers was the only room we didn't decorate, with the idea that we would redo it when she was ready for a big girl room. We've been a little delayed. Here are a few ideas I was playing around with today...
Wanting: I am a big believer in the 3-day weekend!! There are never enough hours in the weekend to do all of the things that I want and NEED to do!! Here are my thoughts on this....
  • DAY ONE: A day to rest!! After a long week, sometimes all I want to do is sit on the couch in my sweats and watch television ALL.DAY.LONG!!!
  • DAY TWO: A day to do something fun with my family!! 
  • DAY THREE: A day to take care of all the things that need to get done before I head back to another crazy week of teaching and mommying!! Groceries, laundry, papers that didn't get graded the week before, errands that didn't get taken care of last weekend..... This list goes on and on!!
         Anyone else with me on the 3-day weekend?!?!

Needing: When November hit this morning, I woke with the panicked feeling that I NEEDED to start Christmas shopping right away!!! I love this time of year, leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I love holiday shopping!! Every year though, it seems like an impossible feat to get it all done by 12/25! Getting an early start this year!!!

Reading: I am currently reading NOTHING!! I am an avid reader and a lover of books. I'm not sure if it's the lack of time, exhaustion at the end of the day, or just that nothing has caught my attention recently. I have hit a reading drought. Anyone have any wonderful book suggestions??? I'm thinking of trying Farley's recommended book!

Phew!! So there it is folks.... My first "currently"!! There was something very therapeutic about writing this post!! I'm setting a reminder for each month, so that I will never be late/forget again!!
Happy {currently} posting and reading!!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Ready, Print, GO! {Halloween Edition}

Now that I am finally getting settled into the school year with my 4/5 combo class, I finally have found the time to start thinking about all the fun times we have ahead of us!! All of a sudden, Halloween is right around the corner, and I am super-excited to incorporate some Halloween fun into our curriculum next month. To celebrate (while sticking to the standards, OF COURSE!), I put together a collection of math and literacy printables for my 4th and 5th grade kiddos.
Here are a few of my favorites...
The Halloween Roll-A-Story is an old favorite, in which my students roll dice to determine their story's character, setting, and conflict. I do a version of this each year, and it's always so much fun to see what my kiddos come up with!
Idioms are always fun to teach, and  I thought it would be even more fun to use some Halloween-themed figures of speech for the occasion!
I made two of each math page, one for my 4th graders, and one for 5th!

Head on over to my TpT store to view more of these Halloween-themed pages for 4th and 5th grade! I don't know about you, but I can't wait for fall weather (over 100 today in my neck of the woods) and Halloween to finally arrive!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Meet the Teacher Blogger {Linky Party}

Before I get started, I have to thank Designs By Tenille for my beautiful new blog design. She just finished it yesterday and I am absolutely in love with it!!!

Back-to-School time is the perfect time to get to know all of your favorite teacher bloggers! What better way to meet so many wonderful teachers, than at a {linky} party. Stephanie at Falling Into First is having a Meet the Teacher Blogger Linky Party. So, I thought I would join in the fun and share a little bit about me!!

So, here it goes...

I am a 30-something {30s, when did that happen??!!} wife, mommy, and teacher in Southern California. I am married to the best man a girl could ask for. My husband is a 5th grade teacher, so we share the same schedule, and get to spend a lot of time together!! I love it!!! We have 2 beautiful little {well, one not so little} girlies. Our oldest is 11 and will be starting middle school next week!!! I am freaking out, just a little bit! Our youngest is 3, and we are currently trying to survive these crazy toddler years. We know sanity is just around the corner!

I am starting my 10th year of teaching. I have been in 4 grades and at 3 schools in the last 10 years. However, I am about to start my 5th consecutive year in 4th grade, in the same classroom, at the same school. {Although, it looks like a split is in the works for this year!! OMG!!!}

Stephanie put together a great Q & A Session for teachers to share a bit about themselves!! Have a little read, then join in the fun yourself!!


My morning cup of coffee with hazelnut creamer. In these final days of summer, I sneak downstairs before my kids wakeup and drink a cup, in the peace and quiet of my living room! One of the best parts of my day!!
Right now, here is a collection of my happy things...
Is it terrible, that most of my favs are possessions?! I guess "things" implies possessions!


Probably a designer of some sort, I love designing and creating things!


Friendly, determined, and to be honest, I have also been called neurotic from time to time {although, I prefer to think of myself as ENTHUSIASTIC!}


"I absolutely love it when my students start taking things out of their desks before I finish giving directions," said no teacher ever!! 

{This is my biggest pet peeve, and I tell my students this at the beginning of every year, in hopes to keep it from happening... it still does!}


Jennifer Lawrence. She just seems like a kick!!!


The Girl Who Thought Too Much
{I can never seem to turn my brain off!!}


I would love to have the ability to clone myself. There are never enough hours in the day to do all the things I'd like to do and to do all the things that need to be done!


I have two faves! "It is what it is." and "You live, you learn." These are the words I hear come out of my mouth all the time, at home and at school.


Probably something by the Beatles... too many to choose just one!


I used to be a total Night Owl, but now I am neither. It's always too hard getting up and going early in the morning, but after a long day of teaching, with a three-year-old at home, I'm out at the end of the day!! 


I am loving my Reading Portfolios right now!! I just put them together for the year and they look great and I know they are going to be such a hit with my book-loving kiddos!


I wasn't the best student in school. I was unmotivated and a bit of a troublemaker. It wasn't until 10th grade that I realized how much I loved to read, learn, and be successful! So glad I figured it out when I did!

Thanks for stopping by!! Head on over to Falling Into First, to join in on the sharing!! 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Teacher Toolbox Anniversary & Makeover!! {Plus, Link Up Your Own!!}

3 years ago today, I shared a post about the Teacher Toolbox I created to use in my classroom. From there (thanks to Pinterest), Teacher Toolboxes took off and are now EVERYWHERE!!!!
{Terrible iPhone Pic!}

Over the past three years, it has been so wonderful to see so many teachers create and enjoy their own Teacher Toolboxes!! I have seen so many amazing variations on what started out as simple idea. I know that mine came in handy, as I ditched my teacher desk and needed a place to store all my very-much-needed teacher supplies!!

When I realized yesterday that it was the 3-Year Anniversary of the Teacher Toolbox, I thought the best way to celebrate would be to give my original toolbox a bit of a makeover. My classroom colors and style have changed in 3 years, so I thought I would bring the ol' toolbox up to date!
{Still taking terrible iPhone pics!!!}

For my latest toolbox I used a Herringbone background from Sonya Dehart Design, one of my favorite kg fonts, Strawberry Limeade, and an adorable border from Lovin Lit. I printed the labels on cardstock, cut, and taped them in, simply using invisible tape. To top it off, I used Washi Tape to add to the fun!! {My new Washi Tape Dispenser from Michael's sure came in handy!!}
If you would like a copy of the labels to make your very own Teacher Toolbox visit my TpT Store to grab this freebie!!
I can't wait to see 3 more years of Teacher Toolboxes creations!!!

Share your Teacher Toolbox on Instagram with the hashtag #3yearsofteachertoolboxes

Please share a link to your own Teacher Toolbox {New or Old!!!}

Friday, August 1, 2014


We teachers know all about journeys.  Many of us are getting ready to journey back to our classrooms to prepare for the new school year.  Each school year becomes a journey of sorts, with its own set of students, challenges, and rewards.

We teachers also know all about support.   Year after year, we give so much of ourselves to help our students learn, build confidence in their abilities, and empower them to become the future our world needs.  We also support our fellow teachers, our families, our communities.  In the midst of it all, it becomes easy to forget that, simply put, teachers touch lives.
 Every. Single. Day.

Graphics credit to Melonheadz;  Font credits to Hello Literacy, Miss Tiina, and DJ Inkers.  Thanks to Joey Udovich for designing!

While many of us are thinking of back-to-school, Jen Bengel and her family have been preparing for a journey of another kind.  They will soon be traveling to Uganda to adopt a child!  Check out Jen’s blog post HERE! (Prepare to be inspired!)

A number of fellow teacher-bloggers have joined forces to offer a measure of support to Jen and her family as they prepare for their special journey.  Each of us has chosen a resource from our store that, between now and August 31, a portion of each sale’s proceeds will be donated to Jen’s adoption fund!

This is the resource I have chosen:

Between now and August 31, I pledge to donate $1 of each sale of this resource to Jen’s adoption fund.

Hop around to the blogs featured below to see what my friends are pledging!
Apple Slices
Apples & ABC's
Beyond the Worksheet
Crafting Connections
Create Teach Share
Flapjack Education
Learning with Mrs. S
Miss V's Busy Bees
One Stop Teacher Shop
Tales of a Teacher
Teaching Trio
The Teacher Desk 6

We hope you will find this to be a win-win opportunity, where you can purchase some great resources for the upcoming school year, knowing that you are supporting a meaningful cause at the same time!

Note that Jen also has a fundraising bundle available at her store. Don’t miss checking this out, too!
Finally, to make it worth your time to check out all the resources, we are also hosting a raffle giveaway!  The winner of the giveaway will score a great prize package, full of resources from our team – just in time for BTS!

From me, the giveaway winner will receive an item of your choice from my TpT Store!
Here is a small sample of items you may wish to choose from...
So, hop around, check out some fantastic resources, support a cause, touch a life!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reading Portfolios- Part 3: Reading Responses {+ freebie}

This week I finally finished "Reading Portfolios" for my students to use this year for their independent and in-class reading. I wanted students to have a place where they could record and track their independent reading habits, take notes on reading strategies and skills, and respond to their in-class and independent reading.
I previously shared the first two parts of these portfolios: Reading Logs & Stats and Reading Anchor Charts. {Click on the links if you missed these posts!}

Today I wanted to share the final two parts: In-Class Reading Responses and Independent Reading Responses.
This first section was designed for students to record their in-class reading responses, based on the text, class/group discussions, and their own thoughts. 

I have also included a handout called “Writing Reading Responses”, to help students write meaningful and thorough responses.

The next section includes reading response pages that students can use to respond to their independent reading books. Students can respond here for homework or in class after reading their own books. These response pages address specific reading strategies and skills. Students can choose where and how to respond, or you can assign specific skills. There is a place for students to record the date and book they are reading for each response.

Click here or on the pics above for freebies and samples of these response pages.

Lastly, I created and Grading Sheet that can be used monthly, quarterly, or at the end of each semester.
For more details on my Reading Portfolios, visit my TpT page. Check out the preview to read the Teacher's Guide and to see what else is included. 

For ONE MORE DAY my Reading Portfolio will be on sale for 15% off!!!