April 15, 2017


Top Ten
My students love completing the Top Ten topic of the week.  They can’t wait to see what the next topic is for the week.  I let them choose their own topics every now and then. Top Ten can be used across the curriculum.  There really is no limit to what you can use it for. 
How we use Top Ten in the class
A new topic is introduced each week.  I like to pick topics that we are currently studying or may have previously studied.  I do have a collage of pictures and words to help with those writers who have a hard time coming up with ideas. 
My students must show me the list first before moving on to the other activities.  I may correct some of the spelling if a student cannot read the word. I don’t want to take the pleasure away from the writing by correcting spelling errors. Approximations are welcomed and celebrated!
They are allowed to complete the remaining activities in any order they wish.  They have to put the list in alphabetical order, illustrate each word, and write a sentence using the word. 

I may keep a set of activities for each student and put it in their Writing Binder to show at conferences. I allow some students to work together to complete their lists.
 We have create Top Ten list on the following topics:
  • ·      Things that are green, yellow, pink
  • ·      Weather words
  • ·      Things you see in Spring, Fall, Winter, Summer
  • ·      Insects
  • ·      Animals
  • ·      Things we love
  • ·      Places to take a vacation
  • ·      Landforms
  • ·      Favorite movies or TV shows
  • ·      Favorite songs
  • ·      Healthy foods
  • ·      Christmas words
  • Things that produce light

 Students who are hesitant to write enjoy completing the Top Ten activity.  I work with students who have a hard time completing the sentences or coming up with ideas.  We take it a step further and work with one sentence each day.  They write the sentence, read it to a friend, then put the sentence in order.     


I also have some students work with word cards to help with putting the words in alphabetical order.  
Two words, same letter?  What to do?

Checking out the alphabet chart
ideas are endless with what you can do with this activity.  Have you used Top Ten in your classroom?  Let me know how your students enjoy it!!

March 24, 2017

Word Family Project

Who Doesn’t Love a Project?

Especially when it’s quick and the family can help out!  I’m blessed in the sense that my class LOVES anything deemed a project!  They ask for projects!!  So I decided to give them one, but not labor intensive because we have our Landform unit coming up and I know that project will be a little time consuming. 

 Each student was given a different list of spelling words from our basal to use for their book.  You could use any list of words. 


The instructions were simple and I always tell my kids to be as creative as possible.  I think this is why they love the projects so much because their uniqueness shines through! 

I was given a rubric by a partner teacher last year so I just tweaked it to fit this project.  Check it out if you want to give it a try!

The best part is when they get to present their books.  We went to another first grade class to share our books.  

They take such pride in what they do. 

February 28, 2017


Black History Month
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Using Ruby Bridges to teach about Empathy
I remember taking an African-American studies class in college.  You know you have to take one multicultural class and I believe they offered three at the time.  I remember my instructor was a young, bi-racial woman and I vaguely remember her name, but I remember everything she ‘taught’ me with great certainty.  She gave us background knowledge, but the class was all about “Why”. 

  I always saw my mother reading and my uncle had an intensive collection of Afrocentric literature. However, it was this adjunct professor who introduced me to Lisa Delpit, Henry Louis, Gates, bell hooks, Nikki Giovanni, Angela Davis, Michael Eric Dyson, and so many others. 

It was like a light turned on in my mind! I was inspired, engaged, but also enraged that I had not known this feeling in my youth.  Why didn’t my K-12 teachers share this material?

I thought that I missed out on this information because I went to a predominantly white, Christian high school; however, many of my friends were also without this knowledge.  So, it didn’t matter if you went to a private or public school, certain things simply weren’t being taught.

 I think about the education of my own children and I’m disheartened when I remember what books were required readings or just the lack of diversity throughout the curriculum.  I didn’t need to ask why this lack of information existed. I knew why and, in a way, I just accepted it.  You start to internalize the things that you hear so often. 

As an African American, there is a sense of pride when you learn about where you are from and what you are capable of doing. Especially, when all you see is negativity concerning the color of your skin.  Eventually, you will begin to believe the lies that are shown to you in your lifetime. They will become embedded in your psyche and imprinted as truth.  All disenfranchised groups need to know that they count, they matter, and they are important to society as a whole!

I hope that during Black History Month, you were able to dig deeper with your students.  Yes, teaching about the first black____ is good, but that’s just the beginning.  I hope you were able to explore a truth or a falsehood that has permeated society as it relates to African-Americans. I hope that you built a strong foundation of background knowledge so that our children can understand why certain ideals were accepted.   Did you ask WHY is it important that we celebrate the Firsts…what’s the significance? 

You may have gotten responses that made you squirm and feel uncomfortable, but there is growth in that feeling. 

Embrace it and learn.   

January 31, 2017

Black History Month

Build the house on a strong foundation…

Carter G. Woodson is known as the father of Black History month with the initial event being held in February 1926 and was called Negro History Week. The week in February included the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809) and Frederick Douglass (born in February 1818).  In 1976, President Gerald R. Ford asked Americans to "…honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”  

It’s a beautiful thing to learn about the many different contributions that African Americans gave to our country and the world.  However, it’s time to take that learning up a level and really delve into more complex issues that are addressing our nation.  I know it can difficult to do this with younger students but it can be done.  It helps if black history is incorporated throughout the year and not just one month.  This helps students realize that Black History is American History and it’s important to more than one group of people.

 Make sure to teach leaders as they relate to the time period in which they struggled.  It’s great to teach who Ruby Bridges is but you must also address the issue of Jim Crow and the era of segregation in which she lived.  It’s getting away from the “holidays and heroes” teaching.  Absorb students in seeing people along with concepts, issues, and themes.

Black history is not all about oppression and the fight for rights.   We don’t want to focus solely on racism and discrimination during Black History Month, however, these are important aspects of the black experience and it is critical to address.  It is an opportunity to celebrate those moments in which we overcame obstacles in order to succeed. 

So where do you start….

It starts with a good book! 

 Fill your classroom with a variety of African American literature that you have access to throughout the school year.   Books are excellent teaching tools that embrace our students’ diversity.  Make sure your selection doesn’t reinforce negative stereotypes.  Students want and need to see themselves in the literature we present in class.  It is a celebration of our culture and heritage. 

I hope you agree that black history should be taught throughout the curriculum, year round.  It’s how we can build racial and cultural understanding and that’s necessary if we are to survive and thrive as a nation. 

How do you teach Black History?

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January 3, 2017

Acts of Kindness!

I know that the holiday season is over and we have started the quest for a NEW everything!  A new body, a new mind, a new job, you name it, we want it!  Let's not leave the message of caring for others in this month of ME.  I'm going to give out this calendar and challenge my students to complete the task for the day.  I'm blessed in the fact that the majority of my students are kindhearted anyway.  However, I want them to keep that spirit of kindness and become aware of the feeling they get when they do something nice for someone else.  Try it with your class and let me know how these small acts of kindness transformed your students!!

January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

New beginnings and a fresh start!  
I always want to rebuild, rethink, refresh, and reinvent myself!  Actually, I don’t even wait until a new year to switch things up!  I’m constantly rearranging things in my life.  March is just as good as January to make changes.  However, the listiness (is that a word) in me would never pass up an opportunity to create a new To Do work of art.  Okay, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic but it’s true.  I stopped creating a yearly Vision Board and now I have a Vison Wall!  I add and move things around as the year goes by.  It’s a beautiful feeling to see ideas and goals come to fruition.  

Here are my top 5 to start off 2017.

      Complete the Daniel Fast   
This fast is great to jump start healthy eating habits.  It’s also great because the focus is not just about the food but renewing my relationship with God. 

 The Daniel Fast cheat sheet
The Daniel Fast Cheat Sheet

       Read a book a month 
I came across a 52 Week Book challenge and it was pretty cool, but I know I would not be able to keep up with that schedule.  I’ll just pick out one book a month to read.  I notice that I don’t read e-books as much as a hardcover book.  There is something about the feel of a book and the turning of pages that excites me.  I will continue to use my Kindle, but I think I will go back to paper books this year.

 The Alchemist
The Alchemist
Real Heroes 

         Count it all joy
I ended out the year looking for the positive in every situation.  Sometimes it was a struggle but I tried to find the silver lining in everything that happened.  I want to continue that this year.  It sounds cliché when you hear it’s not what happens to you but how you react, but it’s really true.  It helps to know that there is a bigger picture and things happen to grow my faith.  So I started saying, “Count it all joy”, when situations made me angry or when things did not go as planned. 

My happy place

      Pamper and Invest in self
We tend to confuse the two.  I want to be pampered but I need to invest in myself.  So this is the year of learning a new language (or maybe some phrases), learning more about blogging and creating digital products, examining my retirement options and savings plan.  I also want to take time to relax and enjoy myself this year.  Take in a movie, get a mani/pedi, indulge in a massage, or have my tresses twisted by a licensed hairdresser!!

        Make a monthly ‘What did I accomplish?’ list
I guess this would be the To Do list’s fraternal twin.  Sometimes I beat myself up because I feel like I didn’t accomplish the items on my To Do list.  I have to realize that there are steps to be taken in reaching the larger goals and many times I don’t itemize each action.  So when I complete a stroke to finishing the big picture, it gets lost.  Does that make sense?  I want to celebrate the baby steps and moves it takes to reach that higher goal. 

This is just a sample of my changes for 2017.  Now, let me get back to making lesson plans…winter break is coming to an end. 

What are your plans for this New Year?