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?

December 19, 2016

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas!!

It’s my favorite time of year! 
 We have so much fun during the month of December.  Of course we are learning as well!   We started our penguin unit a little earlier this year.  I wanted to spend more time on Polar Bears and comparing/contrasting the two,  so I decided to teach penguins in December. 
 We will learn about Polar Bears in January.
I hope you enjoy looking at our memories as much as we enjoyed making them! 

We love read alouds by special guests!!

Taking responsibility!!

Our Winter Holidays party!!

STEM activity

Turkey in Disguise!!

All About Penguins!

Great FREEBIE from Tools to Grow!

Penguin Glyph FREEBIE from Herding Kats in Kindergarten

November 12, 2016


 It’s great to use for those moments when you need students to complete a task independently with very little assistance from you.  It’s also a great activity to do for morning work.  It does use a lot of copies but it’s worth it.  Each scroll sheet has a 10 by 10 table with boxes large enough to write numbers inside.  

While the number line helps with the concept of sequencing, and base-10 blocks reinforce place value, the hundred chart combines these skills. This is one of the biggest benefits from having the students complete the Scroll.  Students see number lines, organized in groups of 10.  They also observe patterns of tens and ones both horizontally and vertically. 

Students start out writing numbers 1-1000.  Once they reach 1,000 they start writing addition fact sentences up to 18.  When they have reached that goal, they start writing subtraction facts (starting at 18).  You can have students go up to any number you like.  I do have ‘cheat sheets’ available for those students who need extra support.  I printed out charts 1-1,000 and laminated front to back on constuction paper.  I keep them in a magazine holder next to the scroll sheets.  

The sides of the scroll sheet need to be cut so it fits on the paper towel roll better.   I tape the first sheet with packing tape so it holds better but every sheet there after can be connected with clear tape.  I show my students how to attach the sheet and how much tape they need for each. 

 I write their names on the ends of the paper towel rolls. 

I found a $3 basket at Goodwill to store them.  It’s the perfect size for growing Scrolls. 

Students love to see how long their Scrolls can get.  I tell them it’s not necessary to unroll it every time they complete a sheet but they enjoy looking at their progress.

  Stay tuned to see the longest Scroll at the end of the year!!

November 7, 2016

Cause and Effect

I think this is one of the most difficult concepts to teach first graders.  It’s even more difficult when they need to come up with the effect.  We made our way through the first introduction of cause and effect and didn’t do too bad.  There were lots of activities to help master the skill.  As always, we started with some read-alouds and exercised our Metacognition by making a Reading Salad (will post about making a Reading Salad soon). 

Literature we used during the unit

I made sure to ask lots of ‘why’ and ‘what’ questions during the process. 

It also helps to have an anchor chart that remains up throughout the lesson.  Thanks to The Learning Toolbox for this one. 

My class loves all of the Pete the Cat books.  So, it was only fitting that we include one in this unit.  We used Pete the Cat and his White Shoes.  I gave them a sheet of blue construction paper and I saw the most creative cats I’ve ever seen in my life!! 

I used an idea from Teaching With a Mountain View blog and created a Cause and Effect chain.  I used very simple statements that my class could read on their own.  It’s a Freebie on my TPT site

 Click Clack Moo makes my students laugh every year I read it!    It's a cute story!!  The students needed help reading the causes and effects so I had them work in groups with two average-high reading students.  We went through the sentences together before they worked in their groups.  

I was also able to differentiate the lesson thanks to Mrs. Patmore and her 

The kids LOVED the story  A Bad Case of Stripes. The Texas Teaching Chicks offers a cute activity that went along with the book.  

 We learned quite a bit about Cause and Effect!