Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours.....

I hope you enjoy your break!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Gift to You!

Twice a year TpT sellers come together to create eBooks full of links to free activities you can use in your classroom! The winter version eBooks are live now - and totally worth checking out!

Each page has a holiday teaching tip & a link to a free product. Many of the products are holiday themed and would be PERFECT for the days of school left before winter break!

There are eBooks available for all subjects and grades. Check out the 6-12 Math & Science eBook here:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Favorite Things Blog Hop & Giveaway!

I am very excited to participate in "Our Favorite Things Blog Hop & Giveaway"! Each of the bloggers participating has reduced the price of select items in their TpT stores, written a  blog post about a few of their favorite things, and donated a prize to the giveaway. To view other blog posts and to enter the giveaway, make sure to click on the link at the bottom of the page!

Here are a few of my favorite things: 
 I LOVE making candy and baking cookies, then delivering them to friends and family. Last year we moved during Thanksgiving week, and missed out on this tradition because: A)my daughter had pneumonia all throughout December and B) we didn't know anyone in our new city. So far this month everyone has been healthy and I can not wait to cook & deliver treats to the friends we've made over the past year. My favorite treat to make is turtle candies! They are easy to make and taste delicious!
I use regular chocolate chips for the chocolate part, but my dad always uses melting chocolate that he purchases at Costco for this. Apparently it is a lot cheaper, and works well! For nuts I like using pecans, but have a ton of walnuts I need to use up. Either type works great!

We will also be making sugar cookies. My favorite cookie recipe can be found here: Best Sugar Cookies. They are really easy (which is great for someone like me who is horrible at anything that involves using the oven) & they taste delicious!

My favorite store is Publix! If you live in an area without a Publix, I'm sorry!! :) Publix is a grocery store we have in the south. The store "motto" is "where shopping is a pleasure." Shopping truly is a pleasure at Publix. Their selection is phenomenal and customer service is truly amazing. They go above and beyond and are so friendly! In fact, when my husband and I got married rather than hiring a caterer I choose to order trays and things from Publix (because I LOVE their food that much!) My favorite area of Publix is their bakery. They sell the most delicious croissants and breads along with many other treats (like canolis yum yum!) 
For the past year I've been driving 50min every other week to visit the Publix nearest to me. Recently though, we had a store open just 20min away - which of course makes me so happy! I plan on ordering trays for holiday parties from Publix soon - which will make celebrating the holidays way less stressful! I also love that throughout the holiday season they have an option to add a donation to your grocery purchase that goes towards feeding hungry families in the area. In the past few weeks since our store opened I've visited 6 or 7 times and paid for at least 10meals for families in our area!

One of my favorite gifts to give is a bookstore gift card. When I was a child Santa brought my 4 siblings and I gift cards to Barnes and Nobles in our stockings EVERY year. A week or so after Christmas my parents would bring us all to the nearest store and we would spend hours picking out books to purchase with out $10 cards. Those trips were so fun, and the memories I have from those trips are priceless! The nearest bookstore to us now is about 45min away and it's Books a Million. My daughter will be receiving a gift card from there from Santa (my husband and I will receive one too!) and I wanted to share a gift card with one of you so you can have a fun book shopping trip too!
Make sure you enter the giveaway by clicking the link below, to win this and other prizes! The prizes are truly amazing!

In addition to the giveaway, bloggers involved have priced certain TpT store items at 50% off, I've chosen to discount some of my winter holiday themed items! The sale is only for a limited time, so make sure to act quickly! Here is a link to items I have discounted: #Favorite Things 2014

I would love to hear some of your favorite things! Do you have any fun traditions in your family, any store obsessions, and/or a favorite gift to give? Let me know in the comments! I can not wait to hear what you have to say and read the posts other bloggers have shared about their favorite things!

**Note: bloggers LOVE comments and we LOVE gaining followers. It would be lovely if contributors to the giveaway received at least a few thank-yous! :) 

Our favorite things Oprah style: the best giveaway of the season! My bloggy friends and I welcome you to the best, biggest, most cheerful event of the season:

7 winners for 7 prize packs!

Come and enter the giveaway and check out our favorite things:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Math Is Real Life: December

The first Wednesday of each month is a fun link up hosted by:
Math is Real Life.

I love the premise of the link up – all of the posts included are great to share with students to show them that math really can be found everywhere!
This month our family has been spending a lot of time preparing for Christmas. While we do talk a lot about what Christmas is actually celebrating (the birth of Christ) we have fun spending time as a family doing crafts, singing Christmas songs, and watching holiday themed movies.

Last year while browsing Pinterest I found a picture of some popsicle stick snowflake decorations that looked awesome! I created one last year on my own and it’s been hanging in our living room ever since! My daughter spent all year asking when she could make her own so right after Thanksgiving we sat down together and made some new ones.  While creating I realized that there was a lot of geometry involved in each snowflake.. The snowflakes are made up of various lines, angles, triangles and rhombuses. 

This was the first snowflake created. The center is made of equilateral triangles. The outer limbs are perpendicular to the end of a particular triangle. The outside L shapes are right triangles!

This flake has a center made up of rhombi. Many types of angles are also present.

We did not use a protractor or any tools other than our brains, popsicle sticks & glue gun to create the snowflakes. You can tell that we didn't because some of the shapes are off! If we had been more careful and taken measurements we would have had a cleaner overall look!
The final snowflake we made was this "rainbow snowflake.". My 6yr old made this snowflake on her own. We had a wonderful discussion on the different types of triangles she needed to use. The center is made up of equilateral triangles. The outer triangles are isosceles triangles. 

These snowflakes look great hanging up around our house! It's been fun to quiz Dixie and see if she remembers what the various shapes are called! 

Make sure to check out the other posts included in the link up! I've browsed a few already and they are really neat to read!

Monday, December 1, 2014


Teachers pay Teachers only hosts site wide sales once every quarter. This quarters sale is finally here!!! I love stocking up on fun activities, clip art & fonts at fantastic prices! Sale ends tomorrow at midnight! Everything in my store is 28% off (if you use promo code TPTCYBER at check out)! 

-Kimberly Geswein {Fonts}
-Melonheadz Illustrations {Clip Art}
-Glitter Meets Glue {Clip Art}

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Before I go out and start stuffing my face with turkey (yummmm!!!) I wanted to take a second to say Happy Thanksgiving to all of the Americans out there - and to all of the other teachers out there, not from America, have a WONDERFUL day!

I am so thankful for Teachers pay Teachers and so thankful for all of the teachers out there!

Teaching is a tough job! There is a lot that goes into it, and sadly, it's usually a thankless one. I personally am so thankful for all of you though. You are changing lives every day in the classroom, and are making the world a better place! <3

Be safe!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due: Grading Fairly

***Disclaimer: The thoughts shared in this post are my opinion. I would love  love to hear other peoples thoughts on best grading practices.
My 6yr old daughter has spelling tests every week at school, and I hate it. I feel like spelling tests are pointless. Being able to write a word one week doesn’t mean anything to me – especially if you don’t understand what the word means or how to use it. So far, Dixie has done well on her tests. However, every week I anxiously wait for her to bring the graded test home so I can see the grade and breath a sigh of relief. I get anxious because I know how much each word is worth – 10points. Missing 3 words on the test means getting 30% of the test wrong and earning a C grade (70%). Misspelling 4 words would give her a *gulp* 60%. The most annoying thing to me is that if she has 4 words like 
(from this week's list): those    woke    stone    joke
and spells them: 
She would have missed only 4 out of the 18 letters she needed to write down correctly. Adding in the other 6 words on her list, missing 4 letters means missing 9.3% of the test (there are 43 letters in all that make up the entire list of words). 

In my book missing 9% of a 100-point test, should not constitute a near failing grade.  Should it?

Having an elementary-school-age child has changed my philosophy on grading in the classroom. Throughout the years, I’ve gone through a plethora of ideas on best grading practices. Originally I was a teacher who if you solved a problem like 2x+6=4 and wrote x= 1, would make the problem wrong no matter what, and move on to the next one. The more I think about it though, the more I dislike the black and white “wrong is wrong” line of thinking when it refers to grading. Why do I think this? Because I feel, it is mathematically incorrect.

Here’s an example why:
When I teach students how to solve equations, I am teaching them steps they need to follow to correctly solve equations. I am not teaching them that 4/2 = 2 (teaching that was someone else's responsibility). I am teaching students that when they see parentheses around an expression that includes a variable they can remove the parentheses by distributing. I am teaching them that when they see a variable multiplied by a coefficient on one side of the equation and a constant on the other they should isolate the variable by performing the inverse operation (division) to both sides of the equation. In the situation above Jessie is showing me that he has a good grasp of the method I’ve taught. The mistake he made was big enough to change his answer, but it is not big enough for me to mark the question as entirely wrong.

I give credit for work done correctly. I do not believe in marking a problem completely wrong because a minor mistake led to a wrong answer. If I were to give a 10 question, 100-point test on solving multi-step equations (like the one shown above) each question would be worth 10 points. When I grade work my line of thinking goes something like this:
If this question were worth 10 points on the test, I would give this answer 6 or 7 out of 10 points. Jessie completed the majority of the steps correctly – and his grade should reflect that. I do not think it is fair to allow a minuscule mistake like this to cause a failing grade.
I don’t want to get into this too much (this post is already longer than I anticipated) but one of my major issues with standardized testing nowadays is that they do grade students in black in white, “wrong is wrong”, “right is right” form. Standardized testing ignores everything a student does right and puts all of the attention on minuscule mistakes made, which is unfair. Outside of school in the real world we recognize that mistakes are part of being human. Standardized testing ignores that part of human nature and expects absolute perfection.

 I for one would take pride in receiving an answer like the one given by Jessie above. It shows that Jessie is grasping the methods I’ve spent time teaching in class. Standardized testing ignores that anything was done correctly to solve a problem. Jessie would receive the same grade for his work as a student who chooses to go through the test highlighting random answers without doing any work at all – which is wrong.

 How do you grade students work? Do you give credit for work done, or mark everything wrong if the answer is wrong?

IDisclaimer:: I asked my daughter to write the words incorrectly for me so I could add a graphic to the post. She asked me to make sure I shared with you that she does know how to spell the words above correctly. :)

Picture for the title post is from:: Robert Couse-Baker
Clip Art is from: Lovin Lit 
Fonts are from: KG Fonts

Friday, November 14, 2014

Task Card Relay

I was thinking about games in the classroom the other day and had a new (to me) idea. I know I've written this before, but task cards are awesome! Students enjoy them much more than they do completing worksheets. Having one problem on a card vs. 10+ makes them seem less challenging. 

So, here’s an idea to try: 
Divide students into group of 4-6. On a large table (or on the tray under a whiteboard) set up stacks of task cards. Put enough task cards in the stack to make sure each student in a group will be able to have one. If there are 4 students per group, set up stacks of 4 task cards. Then, have students stand in rows (separated by group). Count to 3, and on the first students quickly walks up to the board, grabs the top task card, and solves it. Once they finish, they tag the next person in their group. That student grabs a task card, solves it, then tags the next person.

If the task cards are on a subject students are struggling with, have groups of students team up so that 2 students are working on each task card problem.

The first group to complete their task cards CORRECTLY wins!
*Task cards with QR Codes would work perfectly because rather than scanning an answer sheet to see if students have the correct answers, the teacher (or teacher assistant) can scan the cards and see if answers match.

The hard part of playing games like this where students need to be quick to win, is that some students are just slow. I always try to make sure each group has an even number of slower students, and I try to make sure those students are the first in their group(s) to go, so that they aren't left at the end, embarrassed and sad that their team didn't win.

What do you think of a “task card relay”? Do you play games where students race each other to complete problems in your classroom? How do they work for your students?

~In other totally unrelated news, I woke up this morning, checked out the weather via my weather app, and thought about crawling back into bed and letting my daughter skip school today when I saw the temperature was 23°*gasp* 
 I mean, it's only November. Here in AL it Jan & Feb. are out coldest months. We live down South to avoid the cold. Brrrr.....Anyone else freezing today?

Fonts for this post came from: KG Fonts
Clip art is from:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bundle of Math Resources 80% Off!

Math Teachers of TpT CD Bundle

I am thrilled to be one of eleven Math Teachers of TpT to team up to bring you Volume 2 of math resources for 3rd through 9th grades at a deep discount.  

Included in this bundle is $125 worth of product for only $25 plus shipping! That’s 80% off!  The sale ends on Sunday so make sure to purchase your copy soon! They’d make a great gift for all your math teacher friends - so get your holiday shopping done soon! 

Here is a preview of what is included in the bundle: 
Click on the picture above to purchase the bundle.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Math is Real Life: Thanksgiving Holiday Expenses

Math is Real Life:  Thanksgiving Holiday Expenses
Some of my fellow Math TpTers host a  monthly link up called “Math is Real Life.” I’ve gone through and read all of the previous posts – and LOVE it! I’m so excited to link up this month! 
Link up is hosted by: 
I use math every day -  mostly, for budgeting. Thanksgiving is coming up and my husband asked me to figure out what extra Thanksgiving holiday expenses I expect – so that he can include it in our budget for this month.

 There are 4 main parts of our Thanksgiving holiday expenses.
We budget around $700 for grocery money each month. This year we will be hosting Thanksgiving dinner for part of our family, so there will be extra grocery expenses from that. Since school is out the entire week of Thanksgiving, and since my husband is off work that week, we also plan to do some traveling, which means we’ll need extra gas money set aside! I’m super glad cyber Monday ends up in December this year – so any money we spend then will come from either December’s budget, or our Christmas savings account. However, black Friday spending money needs to be budgeted from our November pay checks, or from our Christmas savings account.

Food Budget:
Turkey Breast: $25
Stuffing: $2
Cranberry Sauce: $2
Gravy: $1.50
Potatoes: $4
Green Bean Casserole: $6
Pie: $8
Total: $48.50

I purchased fall themed napkins last year on clearance, and I have loads of heavy duty paper plates, so I'm set on that (yay!!)
Gold Leaf Place Cards: $4
(Take a maple leaf, spray with gold spray paint, then use permanent marker to write name)
Candles: $10
Ribbon to put around Candles: $6
Total: $20

Gasoline Money:
We plan to travel approx. 1000 extra miles Thanksgiving week.
If gas stays around $2.80 (it’s $2.67 right now – yay!!) and our Camry gets around 30miles per gallon we’ll need less than 34 gallons of gasoline with puts the approximate total at:  $95.20

Black Friday:
This one is hard! I haven’t seen anything in any ads that I *have* to purchase yet. However, I know that no matter what sometime this winter I will be purchasing a tool for my husband that costs $250. I am going to go ahead and set my Black Friday budget at $300. If I do not find gifts for anyone else – I’ll at least purchase my husband's Christmas gift.

Total Thanksgiving Holiday Expenses: $463.70
Note: $300 is going towards gifts!

Now that we have an expected amount, it can be stuck into our budget for the month, which will prevent us from overspending! No surprises!

Where do you see/use math in real life?

Make sure to check out the other Math is Real life Posts which can be found here: Math is Real Life November Edition

Clip Art from: Ink n Things @ Teachers Pay Teachers & Ashley Hughes
Font is from: KG Fonts 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

6 Team Building Activities You Could Do Tomorrow!

One of the best things you can do for your collaborative classroom is occasionally host team building activities.

Team building activities are activities done for fun - no content required. Team building activities strengthen the relationship between a group of students (a class!) and help students communicate more effectively with one another. Activities can be quick - 10min activities, or long whole class period activities. I always make sure students understand that comments made throughout the activity must be positive. Students who berate each other, or act negatively sit out.  

Here are some of my favorite team building activities:

1) Hula Hoop Hop
This is one of my favorites! Students hold hands to form a circle. Place a hula hoop between one set of students. Students then work together to get the hoop all the way around the circle, holding hands the entire time. Occasionally I’ve timed students and the next day students compared their classes time to that of other classes mathematically.

2) Tic Tac Toe
Human tic tac toe is super easy, and super fast. Use tape (or paper) to lay out a tic tac toe board on the ground. Divide students into 2 groups – X’s and O’s. Groups switch off sending a student to the board. Once a team has won the game, or once the game is tied, the game begins again. To show which team they are on, students make an “X” or “O” with their arms.

3) Rope Shapes
Bring a long rope to class. Have each student grab a section of the rope. Then, instruct students to create various shapes with the rope. Squares, rectangles, triangles, pentagons, etc. This activity in a great way to give students practice being group leaders. For each shape you can assign 2 (or 3) students to be the group leaders, while the other students must quietly follow directions. Group leaders instruct students on where they should move to help form the shape. This activity can also be done with 2 groups of students and 2 pieces of rope.

4) Plastic Cup Tower
Divide students into groups of 5 or 6. Give each group a stack of plastic cups. See which group can build the tallest tower in a certain amount of time (2-3min is really fun!). This activity can be done in less than 10min, or you can play once, then have students switch groups and do it multiple times.

5) No Talking Line
Divide students into 2 groups. Then have each group form a line without talking. The easiest lines to form is one where students sort themselves by birthday. Another way is to have them sort themselves alphabetically. Alphabetically is fun at the beginning of the year when students are still learning each others names. They can use hand signs to show letters or numbers, but no words. First group to form a line, wins!

5) Balloon Pass
Divide students into 2 groups. Each group should form a circle. Have each student bring two pencils (or pens) to the activity. Give each group a balloon. Have each group blow up the balloon. Then, have students pass the balloon around their group using only the pencils.

For more ideas, check out these Pinterest links:

Do you have a favorite team building activity? How do you incorporate team building within your classroom?

Leave a comment and let me know!

Clip Art from: Illumismart@ Teachers Pay Teachers, Ashley Hughes, Krista Wallden
Clip Art from: KG Fonts 
Pictures from Kevin Lawver, Matthew Faltz