Tuesday, December 10, 2013


First snow day of the year!!! I am both thankful and flummoxed. We've moved to a modified block schedule and I meet with my 8th grade classes every other day. Last Friday, we let school out early to do inclement weather and my B block missed class. Today's snow day lands on a B day. So those kiddos have missed class twice.

Under the old schedule this wouldn't matter so much, but now they've missed the equivalent of almost a week of classes. In addition to that, they are two classes behind my other class. There is no way to really catch them up before mid-term tests.

Needless to say, we are still adjusting to the new schedule and I'm going to relax, catch up on my blog reading and enjoy the rest of my snow day!

Kitties at my house are also relaxing and enjoying the day.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Currently

I can't believe an entire month has gone by and I've not posted. This school year is just flying. I'm linking again with Farley and her monthly link up.

Listening - West Wing's first season on DVD. I really like this show and I can't count how many times I've watched these dvds.

Loving - until just a minute ago I had a kitty in my lap. He has decided he must be by my side all the time! He is very sweet and loving.

Thinking - during this holiday season and after today's church message that I'm incredibly blessed and have much to be thankful for.

Waiting - I'm ready for winter and SNOW! I think I could live in Alaska. I have been there during summer but would love to make a winter trip to see if I'd like it even more!

Needing - my car has decided to slowly die. It has many miles on it and I wanted many more. But I've started to sink money into repairs every month and it is time to purchase a new one.

Favorite Tradition - I don't really have one. We didn't have consistent Christmas traditions after becoming adults. But that's ok. We had great times together as a family and that's what counts.

Now to start some new blog posts and not have weeks without posting.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


This year is flying by!

I'm linking with Farley for her November Currently!

I am currently watching Iron Man on TV. I can't tell you how many times I've watched it lately. It's great background noise.

I'm loving the extra hour of sleep last night and knowing it will be daylight when I drive to work tomorrow.

I really need to clean my house. But I'm just not in the mood. It really has to happen soon. :)

I've had a nagging sore throat and sinus ick for a week. It has gotten worse this weekend and today my voice has been croaking.

So I really NEED a beach vacation. :)

I love the Pioneer Woman and I made her Hot Corn Chili Dip this weekend. It is going to become new favorite as soon as I get it spicy enough. I was taking it to a friend's party and she requested I make a mild version. It was good, but I'm sure the regular version will be awesome!

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fall Break is Over

Time seems to have flown this year. We are in week 12 of school and I'm feeling a little behind. My class (8th grade) and I are spending a great amount of time on our interactive notebooks. I realized today that we are several weeks behind the topics and standards I covered last year. We are going more in depth, but I also think we are probably spending a little too much time on some topics.

We have a new residency teacher who joined the class this week. He will be with us for the rest of the year. Because of the scheduling of our teachers, he will shadow three of us. He will spend four blocks of his A/B days with the high school US History and American Government teachers and two blocks with my 8th grade US History classes.

His first fun assignment with me is a new seating chart. I have a class of talkers and it seems no matter how I've arranged them they can strike up a conversation with anyone. Mr. P noticed and I challenged him to try another arrangement. I'm all for rearranging as often as is necessary and we are constantly moving around for cooperative groups. I'm looking forward to seeing how he has them arranged next week.

For the first few weeks, Mr. P will be getting used to my classes and learning names. The residency position is new and is a year long clinical practice with one mentor and one school setting. Because of our small 7-12 grade school, Mr. P gets a little different experience but also a much broader base. I think it would be a little overwhelming at first. But it is a typical situation in most small rural schools. You don't get to teach one subject all day, many of my coworkers in HS have 3-5 preps and the flow of daily classes isn't easy. Those with lab classes seem to never have the same class back to back. So they set up labs for one class, teach, then set the lab for the next class, teach and then either set the lab for a third class or reset the lab for the first lab taught that day. It can be exhausting and sometimes frustrating.

I'm happy to have two major preps for classes and two minor preps. One of my preps is keyboarding and the students have self driven assignments. The second is a contemporary issues class and very research based. Students spend the majority of class time researching an issue and discussing/debating their finds. It is a fun class and not hard to prep and we have a nice variety of subjects/standards to cover.

Looking forward to fall!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October Has Arrived

Wow, eight weeks of school have flown by and I am so ready for fall break.

I have two classes that have me rethinking everything I've learned about classroom management. This is becoming very frustrating. So for now, I'm focusing on this month's October Currently from Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade.

I'm currently Listening to the white noise of NCIS and have had a cat in my lap purring. Very de-stressing!

I'm currently Loving the cool fall weather outside. I'm so ready for fall and winter!!!

I'm currently Thinking about going to a wonderful exhibit by Bruce Munro "Lights' a fiber optic exhibit in Nashville, TN. I'm going tomorrow evening and need to get my camera ready - batteries charged.

I'm currently Wanting my last block class to be quiet and focused, seems really hard for them.

I'm currently Needing fall break to arrive SOON!!!!

My current Treat is the free online grade book Engrade! We've been using this as a school for two years and it is wonderful. Parents and students have access. I give quizzes online and it allows my classroom to be fairly paperless. Students can upload work and I can put documents online for them to use. It has a lot of components that I don't use because of limited reliable student access. But it has made grades transparent for students/parents/teachers.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Parent Teacher Conferences

We've passed the mid-nine weeks point of our first quarter. My district holds two evenings of parent teacher conferences. Often the evenings seem to go slowly. Most of my classes in the past have been high school junior/senior level and my parents haven't really needed to conference.

This year, I had lots of interested parents attend. I think it is because my HS classes shifted to freshmen and my junior high parents really wanted to get a grasp on our new schedule. I was very excited by the turn out and I really had some good conversations with both parents and students.

Several of my students commented on our new Reading Like a Historian lessons. They enjoyed the conversations and class discussions. I'm really excited about using the common core integrated lessons even more after our conferences.

A few days later, I treated my World History classes to a Roman breakfast. I found some great Tuscan loaves and boule. I added olives and dates to the menu and had planned on cheese. But as I gathered things that morning, the cheese was left behind in the fridge. :(  I asked each student to simply try a small taste of the dates and olives. They didn't have to eat the entire item. Only a few students weren't up to the challenge. I knew that many of them had never tried dates before, I knew because I hadn't either! If I'd eaten dates, it had to be in the Christmas fruitcake.

The breakfast was a success. The more adventurous students loved exploring the new foods and they were full of suggestions as to what ethnic food they wanted next. I had to remind them I was feeding 40 on my grocery budget. They had some great ideas and we will definitely try new foods again!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Exciting School Activity Days

What do you do on those days in the school calendar that seem to override teaching? Here in the south Football Homecoming is a huge celebration. Last week we had Homecoming for the high school students and today our junior high celebrates the day.

This means that my students have very little focus on academics. All the young men can think about is the "big" play they are going make and the young ladies are all leaving school early to get beautiful! It is a very exciting day for my students. Those not directly involved are still excited because their friends are excited. But their focus is missing.

In addition to Homecoming, our library is having a book fair. I'm a huge supporter of the library and I take my students to the fair during class. If I don't work it in to my class, they only have 10 minutes during break.

Because, the majority of my last class is leaving to get ready for Homecoming, I'm using this opportunity to take the others to the fair. I usually plan a very "light" lesson. If I introduce new material, I will have to repeat it for a large number of students. This may also be the day I break out the History Bingo game.

How do you prepare for these days? I'm would love some new ideas.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Several years ago, I had a class that refused to believe that Pocahantas and John Smith weren't married. After all, the Disney movie had them convinced and why would Disney be wrong about history. :)

In using Reading Like a Historian, they have a great lesson plan discussing this very topic. As I've gotten my materials pulled together for this lesson my co-workers couldn't believe how many students really thought the movie was true.

We did a quick survey of students in the hall, including some older students I had in that first class. They couldn't believe I was actually going to show my class the movie (about a 5 minute clip) because I had refused to show it to them. I can't wait until Monday to see if this group of students has as much faith in the movie as my Disney loving class!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pinterest Project

I have been a traveling teacher for the past few years. :) I've been the floating history teacher and only in my computer lab a couple of periods in the day. Typically, my lab students haven't completed work that could be displayed.

This year, we have changed to a modified block schedule and as the schedule filled it became apparent that I would be teaching some of my history classes in my computer lab!! I love this because I get to do a semi-flipped classroom and really integrate technology into my classes. But I also can decorate and change the lab atmosphere into a total learning environment.

My students' work can be displayed around the room (I didn't want to take over another teachers space when I floated.) My first thing to make for display was washi taped clothespins. I kept seeing them on Pinterest and I knew needed a set.

They were easy to do and with a little Elmer's glue, they were up in no time. I still have some reorganizing to do. I need to group my word walls for the different classes I teach in the lab and I want to add some lamps so that we don't have to use the glaring overhead fluorescent lights.

But I will add things slowly, I have zero $$ in a decorating budget.

Monday, September 2, 2013

September Currently

I've linked up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for this months Linky Party! I love to follow Linkys, I find lots of new blogs to follow and often get lost in the new information. I love that I figured out how to add text to the jpg and thanks to Farley for such a cute design!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hobby and Teaching Collide

This is a wonderful long weekend. I'm still adjusting to a modified block schedule and the start of school. We've had three full weeks.

Occasionally, we have dress down Fridays and I have some coworkers wearing cute appliqued t-shirts. The shirts have our school initials on them in a variety of fonts and fabrics. Being the crafty girl I am, I've decided to applique my own and create an awesome school pride shirt at the same time.

Our school colors are royal blue and white. I have a royal blue T and I'm hoping to find some bright fabric in my quilting stash to add the letters. I have chosen a great front from Kimberly Geswein's collection on Teacher Pay Teachers.

I can't wait to show off my new t-shirt and school pride at the same time!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Land Bridges

My eighth grade US History class is studying explorers and early civilizations. As a close to the unit on early civilizations, I gathered supplies and my classes proceeded to make land bridges - Berengia. I purchased pie plates from the local Walmart. I had lots of clay left over from a previous project and I divided the class into groups of three and gave each group two colors of clay.

They used the map in our text as a guide and they flattened and sculpted the clay into their rendition of the continents. After arranging the continents, they placed them in the pie plates. I borrowed a sno-cone machine and crushed a lot of ice. They covered up their continents with ice making sure the bridges were well covered.

The project went a lot quicker than I had anticipated. We had to wait a little bit to put them in the freezer and that allowed the ice to begin to melt. When they froze, we a great ice age replica. Today, I took the projects out of the freezer and was able to slide each project out the pan. They looked like stain glass.

This allowed us to look at each project and see the arrangements of continents. We were able to critique the projects as a group and discuss any problems we saw as well as compliment the designs of their classmates.

It was a nice beginning of the year project. I arranged the groups randomly and they had to learn to work with new classmates. Next year, I will divide them into groups of two instead of three. The work would evenly distributed with partners.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reading Like a Historian

I was flipping through the Teaching Channel two weeks ago and came across a video of an inquiry based classroom. I loved the environment and knew with Tennessee's leap into Common Core it would blend perfectly with my teaching technique.

The teacher used curriculum from Reading Like a Historian and I knew I needed to try it in my classroom. For the first two days of class, I integrated the intro materials with the beginning of my back to school curriculum. The second lesson involved creating and writing an autobiographical book. I had run across a bound book project on another blog (one I can't find now) and I changed the lesson up just a little to use the bound book.

My students wrote their autobiographies and interviewed people about events in their lives. I have finished reading all of the books and they did an excellent job. I asked them to use as much artistic talent as they had after I explained that my talent lie in stick people but I could color with the best of them.

Here is a sample of one of the books. I learned so much about my students and I loved this lesson as an introduction to my students. I have made instant connections with them.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Liebster Award

I am so excited to have Julie from The Pencil Monkey nominate me for a Liebster Award. I'm very flattered and I've found so many blogs this summer by following other bloggers nominations.

To accept this nomination I must do the following:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5 - 11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted by my nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about myself
5. Create 11 questions for my nominees
6. Contact my nominees to let them know I nominated them

Here are my questions from Julie!
1.  What is your guilty pleasure when you are not teaching?
Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby Ice Cream!

2.  Who is your hero or role model?
My education role model was my senior English teacher, Mrs. West. She had high expectations for everyone in her class, but she knew how to let you know individually what she expected of you. 

3.  Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see myself right here in my school. I love teaching in my high school. The only thing that could change that would be putting a middle school. We are a 7-12 school and I can see so much growth happening over the next few years.

4.  What is your favorite part of your day as a teacher?
I teach history and run the computer lab. I love doing enrichment with computer apps in my lab. I love see kids learn a new skill and then apply that to the content in a new way. It is very exciting. 

5.  What would your students say about you?
That I'm tough but fair and I can be a little wacky and unexpected in the classroom. I think nothing of stopping and pulling a brain break out when I see them start to melt. They just don't expect things like that in their classrooms.

6.  If you could buy one resource for your class what would it be? Why?
I really want a document camera. I love to use primary sources and photographs in my history classes and I really think students need to see those larger than life.

7.  What is your biggest strength?
I use a lot of technology and diverse teaching methods in my classroom.

8.   What is your favorite pen or pencil?
Pentel in green or purple ink and Sharpie Pens

9.  If you could take your class anywhere on a field trip where would it be?
I love national parks. So, I'd probably take them on a tour of Gettysburg or the National Mall.

10.  What is your favorite book?
I really don't have a favorite book, but I have favorite series. I love the mystery writer Dana Stabenow and her Kate Shugak series set in Alaska.

11.  One random item that you can't live without as a teacher.
colored pens

Here are my nominees:
Lisa at

Here are my questions for my nominees:
1. Tea or Coffee?
2. Why did you begin your blog?
3. What is one goal you have for your classroom this year?
4. What is your favorite thing to teach?
5. Mac or PC?
6. What is the most prominent color in your wardrobe?
7. Does your classroom have a decoration theme?
8. What was your favorite class in college?
9. Where would you like to travel most?
10. Do you use foldables/interactive notebooks in your classroom?
11. Do you eat the cafeteria lunch?

My eleven random facts.
1. I love to do needlework. I cross stitch, quilt and last summer I taught myself knitting.
2. This summer I crossed Acadia National Park off my bucket list of national parks to visit.
3. In 2011, I traveled to Alaska on a mission trip. It was fabulous and I would love to go back.
4. If I go back to Alaska, I want it to be on a cruise.
5. Over the summer I went really all out girly and had manicures very two weeks. I never do that!
6. I have scripture verses hidden in spots all around my classroom for me to see throughout the day.
7. I have a screened in porch that I love to sit on but hate to clean. :)
8. I have two kitties, Asher and Puff and they are spoiled rotten.
9. I volunteer with BellyRubs Bassett Rescue. I transport bassetts and occasionally foster them. I love their arhooos, wrinkles and ears!
10. I have a fish pond with 20+ goldfish/koi. They've had babies and I'm scared to try and get a count of those.
11. I want to retire in Guatemala working with friends at a boys ranch they are building!

Thanks again Julie for the nomination!!!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bell Ringers

In the past I haven't used bell ringers, but after watching my colleagues I decided they would make a great addition to my classes.

Today, I've hunted for a few PowerPoint templates. Then I spent a couple of hours taking standardized test prep questions and made a couple of units worth of bell ringers for my 7th grade geography class. I still need to do the same for my 8th U.S. History and 9th World History.

One of my fellow teachers shared that she covered every standard with bell ringers for her students. I've decided to mix standardized test prep questions with content driven questions. I'm still trying to decide if I want to incorporate them into our interactive notebooks.

Speaking of notebooks, what do you do when you find a box of envelopes that have sealed themselves because of the humidity? You cut in them in half and make pockets for your students' notebooks! I found a box today and most were completely sealed. Normally I would have thought "what a waste" but not today. :)

I also walked into my computer lab today and found a wonderful surprise. They had moved in all my new computers, unpacked and installed them! They even fixed mine! I know they have more programs to load, but I'm just excited to see it finished.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Let the Planning Begin!

I am very techy and I haven't carried a planner in years. For years, I carried a thick planner with everything under the sun in it. Then I met the Palm Pilot and fell in love and even convinced my non-tech mom to carry one. It had all my contacts, calendars and needlework inventory in it.

Unfortunately, smartphones/laptops took over and Palm Pilots were out marketed by Blackberry. My first smartphone was a BB and luckily I could transfer everything over and from there my planners were permanent history.

This works really well for my real life but it doesn't really seem to work for my teaching. Last summer I saw these cool personalized planners, but I'm really frugal and just wouldn't purchase one. I thought about making my own and in some ways I did. I pulled my attendance book apart and my lesson planner, three hole punched them and made an organizing binder.  

I'm really horrible about not putting things in my planner. I tend to pull things for the week and have them stacked on my desk or in my classroom closet (really a converted office). This summer I kept following even more middle school bloggers. Miss Math Dork blogged about making her own planner and I was ready to follow her lead. Then something awesome happened, she put her hard work to great use and offered her planner on TPT store, totally personalized!

It took several weeks before I decided to have her plan one for me. But I really couldn't resist. She was wonderful to work with, I picked out colors and fonts and in just a little while, my planner was ready for me to have it printed. She even included a link to a coupon site for the printing. :)

Printing was easy. I uploaded my file to Office Max and made decisions on binding, paper and printing styles. My local store was really quick. I received an email in hours telling me it was ready for pick up. Unfortunately, they made a mistake and printed it one sided and on the wrong paper weight. So while I had lunch and did the grocery shopping they reprinted my planner.

It turned out to be a happy mistake, they discounted the cost and gave me the extra planner for free! I hate to see things go to waste, so at the moment, I'm uncoiling the binding to pull the pages apart. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them but I am seeing the months added to my bulletin board. :)
Please excuse the picture layout, blogger isn't friendly tonight. If you like the planner, check out you won't be sorry.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


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Planning for the New School Year

The school year is just a few short weeks away. I began planning before the year was finished last year. I keep reading blogs about organization, INB planning, and general teacher interactions. I have a long list on TPT that I want to purchase and my new pencil sharpener arrived this week!

I plan on going to my room tomorrow to start getting some things ready. I am teaching world history this year and the curriculum is new for me. I have a huge textbook to look through and the standards are changing next year. This isn't a tested class and I'm finding the current standards vague and loose. Which is ok, I will have a lot of leniency to pull in art and music appreciation as I teach different time periods.

I'm happy to be teaching the "new" for me class because in 2014-2015 Tennessee social studies standards change, this course will move to seventh grade. I will then be teaching it on that grade level. So I feel like I'm getting a head start on the new standards. The draft standards are out and I will be able to use those as a guide for this class.

My INB planning is going well. I'm hoping to get the first four weeks set in my 7th and 8th grade class. I won't be using them in world history. But I will be incorporating foldables and a lot of the same type materials. My goal is to have things planned four weeks out and I have been pulling scope and sequences from several other school systems. I don't think we've used a standard S&S for social studies on our system. I know we use pacing guides/ S&S in math and language arts.

I really work more at home during the summer and I had planned to spend more time in my classroom this year. But I classroom computer quit working the first week after school ended. IT hasn't fixed it yet and it's just been easier to do things on my personal laptop. I've gotten into the habit of saving everything in Dropbox so that I can access all of my new material. I find that I have too many flash drives and never have the one I need on hand. Dropbox is a life saver!

I welcome suggestions or tips on organization. Please feel free to follow me on Pinterest.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Schools Out

We are one of the first schools in the state to get out. Our summer started two weeks ago and the first week out many of us followed our softball team to the state tournament! We placed second in the Class A Division 1.

Awesome group of young ladies, I've had the pleasure of teaching many of them!

As summer is developing, I'm spending a lot of time finding new education blogs to read and looking at lots of ideas on Pinterest. I have the honor of receiving a National 
Endowment for the Humanities Summer Workshop. I will be studying Inventing America in Lowell, MA. I'm looking forward to adding more depth to my Industrial Revolution unit. 

As I add to this I hope to actually begin using this blog to post educational information. I had great plans for this blog when I started but I let life get in the way and it hasn't developed like I envisioned. Hopefully, I can keep up to date.