Sunday, October 25, 2015

I Need a Clean House

You can follow Tracy at her new blog The Knit Wit Teacher

I don't know about you, but a messy house stresses me out.  I often see images like this on Pinterest or Facebook and I can completely relate. 

But as I've gotten older I can no longer handle the messiness. I'm not saying I want my house to be a museum. I get the point of this picture.

But why can't I be a good mom, have a clean house, and happy kids? My kids are 11, 9, 6, and 6. They are old enough to help. I'd like my house to stay clean enough that if a friend or family member stopped by unexpectedly I wouldn't be embarrassed by the disaster that was my house. Do my kids care about this though? No. Instead they want to watch TV or play video games/iPads all day. The screen time was becoming a serious issue so after looking through Pinterest I developed this chart. 

Each kid has a box with their name next to it. After they complete a chore to my expectations they receive their points. If they want to play a video game, iPad, or any other reward they have to spend their points. 

I debated on making outside 5 points but I felt like they should at least have their bed made before they went out. 

We've been using this a week and I've been amazed! My kids have been playing and using their imaginations instead of playing video games. We've had blanket forts in the living room and bedrooms but they are quick to clean them up. Bedrooms and bathrooms are staying clean. I'm not finding shoes in random spots. Will this point system work forever? I'm sure it won't. For the time being it's teaching responsibility, expectations, and how to earn your free time. The first day took a lot of cleaning but now it only takes a few minutes and that's what the kids are FINALLY realizing. If they clean up after themselves, they won't have huge messes all the time. 

Want to know the best part? I'm not going crazy because the house is always messy. :) 
A happy Mommy makes a happy house. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Monday Made It - October 20

You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

Thank you to 4th Grade Frolics for once again hosting Monday Made It.

I have been crazy busy crocheting and loom knitting these last few weeks. Loom knitting is new to me but I'm loving it.

It's so easy and you see results very quickly. Aside from loom knitting I've been crocheting baby blankets for friends.

I crocheted this blanket for a friends' sweet baby boy. It looks purple in the picture but it's actually a mixture of blue and teal. My oldest son picked out the colors saying it's okay for boys to like teal. This is a v-stitch blanket that is super easy to make. You can follow the video here for a guide.

I very quickly loom knitted this hat using this YouTube video also from Melanie Ham as a guide. I love watching Melanie's videos to figure out a project. She does a great job of explaining the steps.

My daughter has really wanted to learn to knit/crochet but her vision disability has bade that goal difficult. Loom knitting was the answer to her prayers. She's able to see what to do and hasn't gotten frustrated. I can't tell you how proud of her I am.

In my classroom I've been working on a novel study for The Sign of the Beaver. I love this book but couldn't find  resources to go with it so I started creating. It took several weeks but I finally finished it. 

For my next Monday Made It, I want to make these adorable Christmas stockings

Don't you just love them??!!! I don't know all the stitches required though so this one may take a bit. Let the fun begin! 


Monday, October 5, 2015

Novel Study

You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

The beginning of the school year got away from me. One big reason for this is that I completely revamped my reading block. With changing school I suddenly had more time in day. 30+ minutes actually. It gave me the ability to move my schedule around and really teach the way I wanted.

I am not a fan of textbooks. I think the stories are boring and my students were not interested in them. I began to think about great children's literature and I wanted to use those books in my classroom. As I've mentioned before 4th grade in my district teaches in 3 week units by skill. It looks like this:

Quarter 1

Weeks 1-3: Sequence
Weeks 4-6: Compare/Contrast
Weeks 7 - 9: Main Idea

Quarter 2

Weeks 10-12: Cause/Effect
Weeks 13-15: Drawing Conclusions/ Inferring
Weeks 16-18: Story Structure/ Text Features

Quarter 3

Weeks 19-20: Fact/Opinion , Predict and Set Purpose
Weeks 22-24: Literary Elements
Weeks 25-27: Story Structure

Quarter 4

Weeks 27-30: Review, Poetry
Weeks 31-33: Fables & Myths/ Visualize / Greek Gods/Goddesses
Weeks 33-35: Graphic Sources

What I've done is attached a children't novel to these and we are doing a novel study while pulling in other resources to also hit the weekly skill. I have started creating my own novel studies but their are some great ones on TPT also.

Here is the Google Doc I've used for my planning and resources. Not only do I use TPT products, and products I've made. I also use children's literature to pull in mini lessons.

Quarter 1

Weeks 1-3: Sequence: Because of Winn-Dixie
Weeks 4-6: Compare/Contrast: Matilda 
Weeks 7 - 9: Main Idea: The Sign of the Beaver

This Novel study will be live next week. I've been delayed....see below for that explanation!
UPDATE: Now live on TPT!!! 

Quarter 2

Weeks 10-12: Cause/Effect: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 
Weeks 13-15: Drawing Conclusions/ Inferring: The One and Only Ivan
Weeks 16-18: Story Structure/ Text Features: Mr. Popper's Penguins

Quarter 3

Weeks 19-20: Fact/Opinion , Predict and Set Purpose: Bridge to Terabithia
Weeks 22-24: Literary Elements: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Weeks 25-27: Story Structure: Charlotte's Web

Quarter 4

Weeks 27-30: Review, Poetry: Love That Dog
Weeks 31-33: Fables & Myths/ Visualize / Greek Gods/Goddesses: Percy Jackson & the Lightening Thief
Weeks 33-35: Graphic Sources: Open

My students absolutely love these books. My teaching partner and I typed up the list of books we were using and explained to parents what we were doing. We stated that if any parent had a problem with the list they were to write in and let us know, otherwise we would use the books listed. We didn't have a single parent contact us so that was good.

Now did we have class sets of all these books in August? Absolutely not. But we asked around and our school librarian was able to use library funds to purchase class sets for us! Our PTO was also willing to step up and purchase books if we needed them. If you don't have a class set, then do a read aloud. Or, purchase it for your Kindle and throw it up on the screen so your class can read along with you.

I've created a novel study for The Sign of the Beaver that we are currently using in class. I'm going to add it to my TPT store ASAP but my darling son Colin derailed my progress.

Being 100% boy he decided to jump OVER the mailbox. Now mind you, I just told him a few weeks ago to stop sitting on top of the mailbox because he would jump and sit on it. Why? I have no idea. But did he listen to his Mother? Of course not. He tried to jump over the mailbox but missed the landing. He landed on the curb instead and received a nasty wrist fracture. I'll spare you THAT picture. It was disgusting. Bones shouldn't bend that way! After the ER, ambulance ride, countless xrays, and specialist he had to have surgery.

We thought they were just going to go in and move the bone back but instead he had to receive a plate and screws. His arm muscle kept moving the bone back out of place.  He will receive his cast next week. Fingers crossed.

If you've never had surgery, or never had a child that has had surgery, thank your lucky stars. The anesthesia is awful for a few days after surgery. Colin's muscles were so sore for 3 days. He could hardly walk, didn't want to eat a thing, and was just overall miserable. We finally turned a corner yesterday and he was able to go back to school today.

Now that he's on the right track I'll work on finishing my Sign of the Beaver Teacher Edition with the answer keys and I'll get that added to TPT. If you have any questions about how I implemented the changes in my Reading Block just let me know!

I've also started crocheting again and I've finished 3 baby blankets over the last few weeks. All those doctor offices really helped with my crochet!

(Follow the link for the YouTube video for these blankets)

Where is picture 3 you ask? I have no idea.....I know I took it but can't find it now. Story of my life. :)

What's going on with you? Inquiring minds want to know!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Made It - July 27

You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

Thank you to 4th Grade Frolics for hosting Monday Made It.This is my favorite link up! All of the neat crafts/projects are inspiring

With only 10 days before school starts for my students I am still waiting to see what grade I'll be teaching this year. That being said, it's made it hard to create for my classroom. Depending on the grade will change how I set things up. 

One thing that I will do regardless of the grade is a first day poster. I may make changes if I end up in primary but for now it will work. I love using these the first day of school because they require little instruction and my kids can work on them while I deal with paperwork/supplies, and talk with parents that come in. 

I also made some cute Super Hero labels or to go along with our school theme. They could also work for name tags for those early days of school. You can find them for free on TPT for a limited time. 

I will hopefully be creating more this week as I find out what grade I'm teaching next week. Fingers crossed I get everything done in time! Have a great week! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Wonder Twins - Unite.

You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

I am a twin. Did you know that? I have a fraternal twin sister. She has blue eyes. I have brown. She's athletic. I can't walk and drink from a cup at the same time. She's spatial. I get frustrated by Tangrams. We are night and day different. 

Growing up I always heard how twins ran in the family but it always skipped a generation. I remember thinking it would be neat for one of my children to have twins. 

While engaged my doctor told me it would be very hard for me to get pregnant. I was crushed. I'd always wanted kids. Imagine my surprise when I found out I was pregnant almost immediately after trying to start a family. In 2004 our oldest son Colin was born. In 2006 we added our daughter Leah. We tried for several months to get pregnant again and had really accepted that it may never happen. 

Then in 2009 we found out I was pregnant again. I was shocked to say the least. I had accepted I would only have 2 children and was ready to move on. I waited the acceptable time and went to the doctor where they wanted to confirm the heartbeat. My mom went with me along with Nick. Nick was leaving after the appointment to go to a textbook adoption meeting so my mom was driving me back home. 

The doctor came in to find the heartbeat and couldn't. I feared I had lost the baby. The doctor wanted to do an ultrasound to see what was going on. We moved down the hall and waited a few minutes for the doctor to begin. A few moments later the doctor found the heartbeat and I finally started to relax. The doctor kept checking things out and then said "Well that's funny, the baby just flipped. Oh, wait a minute.......the baby didn't flip. You are having twins!

I went from fearing I had lost my baby to finding out I was having 2!

My husband turned to me. Patted me on the head. Said "Good job" and left the room. To say he was in shock was an understatement. 

I remember telling the doctor I couldn't be having twins that I was a twin. She just laughed and said that doesn't matter. She was pretty sure I was having identical twins because of only 1 placenta. 

At 34 weeks my baby boys arrived. 

Owyn weighed 5 lbs 5.9 oz. Gavin weighted 4 lbs. 13 oz. They were rushed off to the NICU where they would spend the next 3 weeks. 

They were indeed identical. We left their hospital bracelets on for WEEKS! We were so worried we would mix them up. Luckily for us Owyn has always weighed about 2 lbs more. This has made it easy to tell the boys apart. 
Can you guess who is Owyn? 

Once I was comfortable enough to leave the house with 4 kids ages 5 and under the fun times began. The questions from complete strangers were ridiculous. 

When asked if they were identical I would say "Yes". This was often followed up by "So 1 boy and 1 girl." I simply shook my head and explained that no, it meant they were the same.

But really they aren't the same. They are 2 unique individuals. They may have the same DNA but they are not the same. 

They are both cute. 

They are mischievous. 

They are curious about the world around them. 

They love Mario. 

But they have different personalities. This picture captures that perfectly. 

We never refer to O&G as "The Twins". For their last birthday Owyn wanted cupcakes but Gavin wanted brownies so we had both. They get different gifts. 

We want them to have their special twin bond but we want them to be unique too. 


Because my sister and I were always "The Twins". We were never invited to friends without the other one being asked along. We shared cakes. We shared gifts. We were Tracy and Stacy. Our teachers always compared us. I loved school. My sister didn't. 

This caused a major rift with us later on during Middle School and High School. We were always compared to each other and that really bothered us. 

When I found out I was having twins. I didn't want them to grow up being compared. 

I know that's not realistic. But I want to help them be their own person. If they grow up and want to play separate sports we will let them. If they want to pursue separate paths we will encourage them. Identical twins are the same...but they aren't the same. 

It's hard to separate them into 2 unique people for most people. Twins are becoming more common but still a novelty and people are curious about them. I understand that. 

But I know how it feels to always be compared. My sister was an amazing basketball player growing up. I just wanted to be left alone to read. My dream was to become a member of The Babysitter's Club. She wanted to be a builder. We were so different but our teachers and parents wanted us to be the same. 

It was frustrating. 

So now that I'm raising twins, I want to celebrate that they are identical. I want them to have a special bond. I also want them to grow up and know they are unique and that it's okay to have different friends, play different sports, have different likes and dislikes. 

  Owyn is an enjoy the moment kind of guy. Gavin has become a bit OCD. 

In Gavin's world everything must match and line up. Owyn is not like that at all. But some see them as identical and think they must have the same ability. That's not true. 

It's okay to be your own person and not be molded into someone that isn't you. 

Being a twin and raising twins has been a neat experience. 

I wouldn't have it any other way. I love all 4 of my children. Twins simply add a whole level of crazy. 

If you find yourself with twins in your classroom this year or even a twin, try not to compare them. Especially if they are fraternal. 

Growing up a fraternal twin I've come to believe that fraternal means siblings born at the same time. Would you treat sisters that were 3 years apart the same? Probably not. 


5th Grade Scope and Sequence

You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

My husband teaches 5th grade and they also had to create a PIVOT for their Scope and Sequence. All of the 5th grade teachers worked together to combine resources so that everyone was teaching the same thing at the same time. This really helps when students move among buildings but stay in the district. I asked him to share what they created to help out other educators and he was happy to share.

ELA Scope and Sequence

Math Scope and Sequence

Hopefully if you are trying to create a PIVOT or something similar you can find some useful information here.

Thanks to my hubby for sharing and to all the SCSD2 5th grade teachers for your hard work.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Creating & Troubleshooting

You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

I sat down last night and changed my Creating & Troubleshooting presentation. I wanted to make it more about creating with apps and websites and less about programs we use. I hope you like the changes. Feel free to share this presentation with your colleagues.

Creating and Troubleshooting

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Monday Made It - July 13

             You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

Thank you to 4th Grade Frolics for hosting Monday Made It.
                     I love seeing so many great ideas for the classroom!

With a crazy summer schedule (and over 2,000 miles in a car), I have not gotten to create a lot for my room! I'm hoping to get REALLY busy this weekend. I have been blessed ,however, to learn some incredible new things from inspiring people. Tracy and I have also been blessed to share our experiences and resources with many people through the Indiana eLearning conferences. 

This week I had a new presentation to create on Time Saving Tech in the Classroom. Something that every teacher needs!

In this presentation I tried to cover many of the things Tracy and I use to stay organized in the classroom. Online lesson planning, group email lists, digital newsletters, and booksource.

Have you heard of booksource? My entire classroom library is now scanned into their system, Classroom Organizer,  just by scanning the ISBN with my iPad. (I had to manually input a few too.)

I also included many of the resources we use to digitally share and receive work from our students!

The entire presentation I made for our eLearning presentation can be found here.

What time saving technology do you use in your classroom?

In between presenting I did have time to start a remodeling project on my laundry room. It was dingy and blah, with no storage space. Not a room I enjoyed spending time in!

With some cabinets and a coat of paint the room became much warmer!! I still need to add accessories (and I am saving up for a new washer and dryer), but it is already so much better!

I am happy to have at least one check on my summer to do list at home!!!


Thursday, July 9, 2015

4th Grade Reading Scope and Sequence

You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

Michelle and I worked with the other 4th grade teachers in our district and created a 4th Grade reading Scope and Sequence. While you can use Reading Street as a guide it is not mandatory. Michelle and I very rarely use the textbook, but it's listed if you need it.

We did something new this past year and we focused on a specific skill for 3 weeks at a time. This allowed us to dig deep into a concept before we had to move on. We constantly came back and reviewed the skills throughout the year. is a fantastic website to go along with your reading curriculum and I highly encourage you to check it out if you are not using it in your classroom.

As Michelle and I add materials we will update the doc and you will have even more resources available for you.

If you find resources you think we would love please send them our way!


Scope and Sequence

Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday Made It - July 6

You can follow Tracy at her new blog: The Knit Wit Teacher

Thank you to 4th Grade Frolics for hosting Monday Made It. This is one of my favorite link ups. Teachers are so crafty and inspiring. 

This summer has been jammed packed! Michelle and I have been presenting at various conferences around the state for the #INelearn. We also had the pleasure of going to ISTE and if that wasn't enough. I've moved schools! Right now I do not have a classroom or even know what grade I will be teaching. I will either be 1st or 4th but I will not know until the end of July and school starts back August 3rd!!!! I know what room I will be in but currently all of my stuff is sitting in the hallway. The only thing I do know is our school wide AR theme.  Which brings me to my #MondayMadeIt

Can you guys our AR theme? SUPER HEROES!! I am so pumped for this theme. 

I made this wreath to hang on the outside of my classroom door. I'm still waiting on my super hero ribbon to arrive and I will add that once it comes in but I couldn't wait any longer. 

This type of wreath is the curly loop method. I learned how to do this from Southern Charm Wreaths. She has many videos on You Tube and if you join her mailing list she will send you instructions  t