Tales from Outside the Classroom

Changing Up Bulletin Boards

Head on over to the Ellison blog to see how I gave my bulletin board a different kind of feel using newspaper and the piece remaining from my die cuts.

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Measuring Angles

Head on over to the Ellison blog to see how my students measured angles in our math textbook with a different sort of math tool!  Just click the image below to head over.

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6 YouTube Channels to Help you Teach Math

I like to use videos and songs in my lessons as much as possible.  Having a video give a minilesson gives students the opportunity to take a break from me and my voice, which they love.  It also gives me a moment to sit down.  Sitting down and being quiet for a moment is a glorious feeling that doesn't happen too often.  Watching a video also sometimes gives me a different trick or idea to teach a concept. I also love to look for videos with songs to teach concepts.  While I am a terrible singer, I know how important it is to tap into music and so I love to find videos where they can sing, and I can sing along, and we can pretend it's beautiful noise. :)

I've used videos from each of these channels and I love them.  They're high quality and engaging for the kiddos.  I've included a video from each channel to help you get a feel for what they offer.  You can also click on their header image below to head to each channel.

You *might* be living under a rock if you've never heard of Khan Academy and their website.  Basically, they have videos for teaching everything math, and have expanded to languages, the sciences, and more.  They've changed their website to now allow more direct student interaction and paid services.  Their YouTube page is a bit easier to find a simple video to use as a lesson, in my opinion, versus their website at this point.  The videos are simple and straightforward and teach math concepts well.  

PBS Math Club is new to me but I was quite impressed with the videos.  With the older kids on their image, I expected the videos to be only targeted to upper grades, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a few I could use in 3rd grade as well.  The videos do a great job using real, relevant topics to teach math concepts to students.  I also love their 15 second snippets that teach easier concepts.

Have Fun Teaching is website and YouTube channel with a ton of free teaching resources.  A lot of their videos are geared toward the primary grades but they do also have them for the intermediate grades as well.  I used this video when we were working on geometry to help introduce my students to different polygons and the roots that will help them understand different mathematical terms that have them.

Shmoop offers videos on a variety of topics.  With their quirky style, the kids are engaged and attentive to their message.

The Teacher Tipster is pretty popular- with good reason.  His practical tips and strategies that he uses every day in his classroom are real and work.  I love his style and never get bored with his videos.  

Math Antics videos cover so many topics and strands of math.  I always know I can count on this channel when I'm looking for a video to teach a concept.  While the videos aren't as showy and fun as some other channels, they do a good job of teaching the math concepts.

While, I don't share videos on teaching math, I also have a YouTube channel where I share tech tips.  You can follow that here.

Do you have a favorite YouTube channel that you use for math instruction?

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Teacher Care Package Giveaway!

I've partnered up with some of my favorite intermediate bloggers in celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week.  We are each offering a different Teacher Care Package to help you get through the rest of the year.  We're offering tools and products that will help make your days easier, more organized, and maybe bring a smile to your face. :)

I tried to focus on products around organization  In the care package are: Dry Erase Vinyl Labels pack (they're repositionable!), an Ain't Nobody Got Time for That notepad from Blair Turner Paper, a Paper Mate Flair Pen 4 pack, a 2 pack of Paper Mate Mechanical Pencils (my favorite pencils ever!), Pentel Polymer erasers, a set of 15 black polka dot and gold Thank You cards, two sets of book rings, a set of brass fasteners, a $25 TpT gift certificate emailed after the giveaway ends, and a flash drive with a couple files from my TpT store.  Included on the flash drive are my Editable Binder Covers in black & white, and my Editable Centers Management Powerpoint.

Enter to win my Care Package in the Rafflecopter below.  *Winners must be US or Canada residents only due to shipping.*

If you win, I'll be sure you receive the gift certificate in time do your shopping at the TpT Teacher Appreciation Sale on Tuesday & Wednesday!  Even if you don't win, you can still get those two for 28% off with the promo code ThankYou.

Head on over to the other blogs below to enter to win their Care Packages as well!  We're each offering our own Care Package but each includes a $25 gift certificate to TpT.

Thank you for all that you do every day!  Good luck!

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Mother's Day

Mother's Day is next weekend and I'm on the hunt for ideas on what I'm going to do with my kiddos.  I like to do something simple with the kids that they can take home for their moms or a special woman in their lives.

A few years ago I created this cupcake craftivity and shared it.  It's simple, but it's a cute way that students can write how important their moms are to them.
 I left the template pretty much blank so that students could decorate how they would like.  I love to see the variety of ways they choose to make their "cupcakes".  These sprinkles are adorable.

And these cherries!

You can get this Mother's Day Cupcake Craftivity for free from my TpT store HERE.

I will be letting my students make cards for their moms using Ellison dies.  I'll also be encouraging them to add IOU's the cards.  To see how I made them, click the picture below to head to my post on the Ellison blog.

Happy Mother's Day!

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Airborne Everyday Giveaway

As a Teacher, I need to keep myself as healthy as possible. I recently received a bottle of Airborne ® Everyday ™ multivitamin plus gummies from Airborne to try out and share with you.   I've never used Airborne daily.  My experience was always with the dissolving tablets, so this was a change. I was excited to try these because I'm a big fan of anything gummy.  And, if  I could convince myself that these were the candy gummies I love, maybe I wouldn't eat so many gummies throughout my day.  I sort of buy 5lb. bags of gummies from Costco to keep in my desk, and so I eat them a lot.  

I don't think I can convince myself not to eat the real kind, but these were pretty nice.  They have a great sweet, citrusy flavor when you first eat them.  The flavor goes, and they're a bit more chewy than a normal gummy, but they're good.  I have two kinds of multivitamins in my cabinet that I buy in hopes I'll start taking them in the morning.  Truthfully, though, in the morning the thought of taking a pill is stomach churning.  I like that these don't have to be swallowed, and can be taken at any time without a drink.  

I've tried to keep myself healthy in other ways as well.  I've started to really try to force myself to drink more water.  I drink a lot throughout the day, but generally don't drink too much water.  It's something I'm mentally trying to shift.  Part of the problem is that during the day I don't think about taking drinks, and my water just sits.  Of course, there's also the whole can't-go-to-the-bathroom issue.  So, I'm trying to drink more water in the morning right after I wake up, and then more in the evening.  I was afraid I'd need to get up in the middle of the night, but it's not really been a problem.

I've also started to eat more fruit.  I've always been a big fan of fruit but I don't stay consistent with 
buying fresh fruit and keeping it in the house.  I recently subscribed to a bi-monthly organic produce 
coop through a local farm and it's resulted in me having fresh oranges and apples that I can eat daily.  
For now, my goal is to eat at least either an apple or an orange each day.

The last area I need to tackle is the gym.  I'm always tired, or frustrated, at the end of the day it seems.  Or, I just talk myself out of going to the gym.  I recently expressed this frustration on my Instagram page where I shared the ice cream I purchased that night.  I seem to eat my feelings.  Well, a friend and I got to talking and we're going to try going to the same gym, and go in the morning before work.  I need the accountability to keep me going.  So I hope to start that in the next week or so and that should put me on a great path for the rest of the school year!

What do you do to stay healthy?  Do you want to try the Airborne multivitamin for yourself? I get to give away a bottle of Airborne Everyday Gummies to 3 lucky readers. Leave a comment on this blog post and tell me what you think of Airborne Everyday Gummies and how they can help you better support your immune system.  Winners will be chosen on May 1st.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Airborne Health.  I received products and compensation in 
exchange for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.

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Do you Audible?

Are you familiar with Audible?
Audible is Amazon's Audiobook company.  They offer over 180,000 titles.  Children's books, young adult fiction, romance, you name it and Audible carries it.

As like so many other teachers, I have a long commute to work each day (almost 30 minutes each way).  I'm often still so wrapped up in the stress of my day that I'm unable to leave work at work.  I started listening to Audible through my phone while driving (it syncs with my car stereo via Bluetooth).  Listening to a book helps me unattach myself from work and the neverending to do list.  It lets me relax before I come home.  I often don't have time to read during the school year and this allows me to catch up with a few of my favorite authors.

There are also a multitude of popular children's books and I'm looking into using it in my classroom as part of my read aloud as the students follow along in their copies.  I think changing it up from time to time helps keep students' interest.  I was super excited to see that they've expanded their books with synchronized images so the books can be shown to students as they are listening.  These are PERFECT for listening centers if you have Kindle Fires or other tablets in your classroom.

Audible has a full year subscription program, and one where you can get two books per month instead of one.  Coupons.com has Audible coupon codes which helps make the price tag a little easier on the budget.  Head on over to Coupons.com to try Audible out for yourself for free!

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Visual Reminders

Hey there!  I'm over on the Ellison Education blog today sharing these simple wristbands that I've started using as a quick way to individualize a bit of my instruction.  It takes me less than three minutes to prep each day.  Click on the picture below to head on over and check it out.

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Unshakeable: Tips, Strategies, Energy, Inspiration

Every year I experience a January slow down.  The cold, snowy, dark weather makes me want to go home after school and cuddle under the electric blanket, and makes me hit the snooze button too many times than I'd like to admit. Then, spring hits and I'm generally feeling a little better except it's so hard to stay after school and get work done when it's absolutely gorgeous outside!  I generally notice a change in the "Miss Maguire" from the first semester me to the second semester me.

The day to day me also varies.  If I have a good day, am excited about what happened, and am in a good mental place, I generally work long hours.  I'm often there till nearly 6 pm trying to get organized or caught up.  If I'm not in a good mental place, a few different things happen:  1) I may leave work pretty quickly and drown my sorrows in Mexican food and margaritas, ice cream and drive thru, or a couple servings of wine. 2) I don't let myself leave because "There's SO MUCH to do!" so instead I sit at my desk on Facebook for the first hour after school trying to let the day go and refocus.  This generally results in me staying for about 7 minutes when I finally unplug.  Or, 3) I go talk to people to destress, come in the room and get stressed out by everything that's staring at me, and leave with the idea that I'll do some of it at home.  Guess what?  None of it gets done when I walk through that door.  So I'm either working all night long trying to catch up, or I leave so quickly and am so unproductive that I just grow my to-do list.  It's a bad cycle and it's one I need to break.

I started reading Unshakeable last weekend and it's already provided me with so much inspiration and tangible ways I can improve my day to day!
Click the image above to buy it in paperback or for Kindle straight from Amazon.

From looking at the table of contents I knew Chapter 2 was one I definitely needed to focus on and begin implementing strategies from right away.  I need to up my productivity, especially knowing the sunshine will be calling my name many, many days in the coming weeks.

One of the things I like most about Unshakeable, and Angela's writing style as an author, is that she provides REAL ideas that you can easily implement into your day to day life.  A couple of points that really hit home with me are detailed below.

Be intentional with your time and go to school to WORK
I am so guilty of having a pretty big to do list of things that I want to get done during my 30 minute lunch and recess break.  I don't get specials every day so I just count on that.  We all know that 30 minutes doesn't mean 30 minutes.  And, 99.9% of the time I choose to eat.  So, my to do list of calls that need to be made during business hours continues to grow.  I'm also big on wanting to check my personal email, my two email accounts for the non-profit I'm in, and Facebook in case something earth shattering has happened and I might not know about it for a few hours. (#FOMO anyone?).  As Angela suggests, I often then get distracted and am just a little bit off for the rest of the day as I'm thinking about whatever else is going on outside of my classroom.  Instead, I need to keep myself offline and focused on work.  I can spend that 10 minutes making copies, or grading a quick task, or organizing a table, or filing assessments, etc.  My personal emails can wait three more hours.  This also means that maybe I give myself one day a week to leaving on time, maybe a day when I have dinner plans, and make those necessary business hour calls and errands on that day.  Then, I still have my evening to relax or work on anything else, but I've actually dwindled down my personal to-do list.

Why early morning can be your most productive time
This, I know.  I learned this my first year teaching when I shared a room with someone I became fast friends with (hi, Kristen!) and a staff that truly became like a family.  The earlier I arrived, the more I got done in the peace and quiet and calm before the storm.  This time of the year I let the snooze take over and the excuses begin and I don't utilize this time that's so important and valuable to me in the fall.  Tomorrow, tomorrow I'll wake up with my 5:00 am.

But first, COFFEE
Another area Angela discusses is having a restful morning time.  This is a practice I discovered myself starting in high school.  I wake up slowly. It has evolved from sitting on the couch and watching an hour of news to laying in bed on Facebook catching up from the night hours and drinking my coffee while checking email.  I need this hour or so to get my mind ready.  I think clearly in the morning and so I'm often preparing a mental checklist for the day, running through special events, meetings, and obligations, and thinking about my lessons.  It helps me focus in on the day and start slowly and confidently.

After the kids leave: do mindless tasks first and stay in motion
This is my #1 takeaway.  I often head for my desk and crash into a heap in my chair.  This leads me to my computer, my work email, and then inevitably my personal email and Facebook.  When I leave my desk, it's to leave for the day.  I often look around the room and realize that I did not lock up the computers I should have, my small group table is disheveled, and Sarah left her backpack at her desk.  I need to hit up my two major problem areas (my two tables) first since clean up generally takes less than 10 minutes.  Then, I need to move my work to one of those tables so I am not looking at my computer and sucked into it.

I'm excited to begin implementing some of these strategies (and so many others that are in the book and not included here).  I know my productivity will improve, and that will help bring down my stress and frustration level.  I'd love to hear other tips you have on keeping productive and not getting distracted by your personal life.  Leave them in the comments and I look forward to reading them.

To follow along with the rest of the book study, head on over to Angela Watson's blog and website, The Cornerstone for Teachers, by clicking the image below.

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Teaching Affixes

Each year I teach affixes throughout the year in context.  However, we also focus on it during our spelling practice throughout the year.  To introduce prefixes, suffixes, and roots, I created this tree and display it as an anchor chart in our classroom above our word wall.

Then, as we come across different affixes, we add them to our word wall.  This keeps them fresh in students' minds throughout the year, and also gives us a place in the classroom to refer back.  When we write them to add to our word wall we generate other words that use the same word part, which really helps activate students' schema.

I was looking for ideas to help students to continue to explore the affixes we've studied.  I especially wanted them to be able to work on this independently during our centers.  I created these affix wheels using my Ellison SuperStar machine.  Click the picture to head over to their site to see more about it.

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