Thursday, October 29, 2015

Products for Payday Linky!

Hello! Thank you for stopping by to visit my "Products for Payday" Link up! I am so excited to be joining the fabulous fifth grade team over at Focused on Fifth as an official Focused on Fifth Blogger!

We have one product-based linkup per month. We don't believe in pushing products on you. We want to share great 5th grade teaching strategies and ideas, above anything else!

However, in this one rare instance, we get to share our genius and hard work with you all! 

Today, I'm excited to share my Plants booklet with you! It's aligned with the next generation science standards and developmentally appropriate for 5th grade students. I created this booklet because I was having a hard time finding NGSS aligned materials. 

We still take state science tests in our district but our science curriculum has to be integrated into our English Language Arts curriculum. This book is the perfect fit. It meets science standards while also addressing literacy content.

My students love being able to read this book and interact with the text. The texts are interesting, use critical vocabulary and provoke thought in the students. There are interactive pages spread throughout for the students to process the information.

The pages are not too heavy on black ink, making them economical for teachers and a favorite in the classroom!


You can find this mini book and tons of other great products in my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking any of the images above!

Check out Focused on Fifth by clicking the image below for more great 5th grade content and to visit the rest of the products of payday posts!

Focused on Fifth

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Week in Teacher Fashion - October 21, 2015

I haven't linked up for a few weeks but I wanted to come back and share another week in teacher fashion with you!

The Outfits

I love this maxi dress! It's super comfortable and the fabric is so soft. I paired it with a gray cardigan because it tied in with the waist band and pulled it all together nicely! I love the calm colors on a cloudy day.
Dress and Cardigan are from Loft.

 I have worn this dress in a post before but I paired it with a hot pink cardigan this time for a fun pop of color that isn't overwhelming. I love how this dress pairs with anything! It's just so simple to wear!
Dress is from Loft. Cardigan is from Stitch Fix.

I'm still on the fence about this. I was pretty cold this day so I paired this long cardigan with a solid black dress. I like the design of this cardigan and the weight is great on a cold day. 
Dress if from Kohls. Cardigan is from Maurices.

Alright, this dress is a favorite and go-to that I'm always wearing. I can't get enough of it. I love the little coffee bean print. I paired it with a tan cardigan this time to pull out more of the brown hues in the dress. I usually pair it with black but I really love the lightened up version of this outfit.
Dress is from Loft. Cardigan is from Maurices.

Alright, this was a pretty hot day. It was about 85 and that means that it's super sweaty in my classroom. I love this dress because it's cute all by itself.
Dress is from Loft.

The Makeup

Nude, nude and more nude.

I kicked it up a notch this day with a winged liner and a dark nude lipstick.

Healthy mix of a winged liner and light, natural lip.

Come check out the other teachers who linked up their fashion this week!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Scoop - October 18, 2015

Woah...I have a busy day ahead of me!!

I have been participating in a blog audit recently and one suggestion was that my font was a little too small. I'm trying out a new font size with this post. Let me know what you think.

First of all, cleaning has been my last priority lately. I have to fix that today! I'll go crazy if I don't take care of things around here today.

I've been working super hard to learn Photoshop. I'm taking  self-study online course and it's a lot of fun but so so so so much to learn! I'm still in the slow stages of learning the controls. I haven't actually made anything yet.

Another high priority is to head to the Halloween store. I'm working at MAC on Halloween and I need to have a little something to dress up with. I'm not sure which direction I'm going yet but I'll be sure to let you know and share some pics!

I need a few hours to catch up with responding to emails, messages, and grading in the courses that I teach online for the community college. 

Other than can find me binge watching Arrow. Still.

Come link up and share your week with us!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

You Oughta Know About Flocabulary

Wow! I haven't participated int his blog hop for a while! I love this blog hop because it was the first official blog hop that I ever participated in when I started my blog last year. I love being able to link up with other teachers and just share things that are going on in our classrooms. I have found so many great people and wonderful ideas through these blog hops and link ups and I am eternally grateful for my awesome teaching community!

Today, for "You Oughta Know" I am sharing a website that I totally love....


Flocabulary is an educational hip-hop site created in Brooklyn, NY. The topics on the site cover everything from reading literature, reading informational text, writing, science, social studies and life skills!  It has everything and more is being added on a consistent basis.


The lyrics are witty, funny, and current and the students are always interested in the words on the screen and the animations. They love being able to sing along to it. The best part is that they're learning the entire time...and loving it!

When you first get into flocabulary, you can take a look at videos by subject. I spend a lot of time in Language Arts and Science! 

Once you've selected a subject, you can see all of the topics that are available in that subject. Here are some examples for science. WE've been watching the food chain video a lot lately.

Now, the good part doesn't end with the video...even that's super cool all by itself. The site has a review that you can do. That pops up questions like a slideshow and you can pause to have the students answer them. Then, you can print the lyrics and have students fill in the blanks to see what they're retaining.  The activity is great and it breaks down the topics further by using graphic organizers or visuals. The quiz is the culminating activity for the project and is great for a quick check.  There are key words and topic descriptions too so you can support students in understanding the material that's being covered.

Now, this website does have a small fee but in my opinion (and teacher's budget), it's well worth it! I tried out the free trial at first and I was hooked. I can't imagine my day without Flocabulary now!

They also have a YouTube channel where you can watch some of their videos. You won't have access to any of the activities with it but it's a great thing to watch if you're looking for some great multimedia sources to add to your lessons!!

Check out their YouTube channel here.

Here's a starter video for your viewing pleasure!!

Bright Ideas Blog Hop - Integrating Technology & Math

I am really excited about what I am going to share with you today! Last year, I indicated that one of my professional goals for the current year would be to involve students in their own learning and understanding their own data. I wanted my students to understand their progress and feel proud of their growth. I wanted for them to see the correlation between working hard and results. 

However, I didn't find this to be an easy task and I wasn't 100% sure what to do with it! I started the year by putting a clip chart up in my classroom and I used clothespins for each student. The clothespins will show how each student is progressing toward mastery and it'll be fun to watch everyone move. I have a very competitive class and it'll be interesting to see how they compete with one another to move up the chart in mastery.

The second phase came when my grade level team and I were discussing ways to get students to graph their progress on reading fluency and my grade-level team member mentioned that she had her students graph their growth in their math computational fluency last year. I had thought of doing this this year by giving each student a chart and making paper graphs. It's kind of annoying to use paper graphs and not lose them while you're passing them out and collecting them again repeatedly. team member provided me with this astonishing idea...the students could create a graph in Google sheets for their data and share it with the teacher. I've done this in my class and I now have a folder in my Drive with an individual graph for every single student in my class!! This is such an awesome idea to integrate technology, computer skills, and math! I absolutely love this idea! Plus, it makes it easy to show data on each student by simply printing out their progress chart. No more searching through work samples for meetings, losing stuff, filing hundreds of pages, etc. They're all here!

Here's what it looks like.....

I plugged in some future scores so you can see what it would look like once we have data in!

All we did was create a table on the left on the Google Sheet with a space for each month. Then, we inserted a line graph with values for the scores. Once the graph was popped in, the chart was ready to go! Now, the students can keep track of their progress and it's easy to share with parents as well!

What do you think of this math and technology integration idea? Would you use it? What have you tried in the past that has helped students monitor their own learning?

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider joining me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for more great ideas.

For more bright ideas from other bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting! 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Global Glitter Tribe Monthly Linkup!

The October edition of the Global Glitter Monthly linkup is here and I am so excited to be supporting my fellow Global Glitter Tribe members by linking up! Of course, I really do hope that you come link up with us as well! As one of the founding members of Global Glitter Tribe, I put a lot of pride into this special creation! 

The goal of Global Glitter Tribe is to support teachers in making international connections. We also want to help create a more global perspective in our own schools and classrooms and we hope to accomplish this by collaborating and sharing our schools!

SO...with that....

Totally Inspirational

I am hard-core crushing on all things Sheila Jane Teaching and Teach Happy Membership. It took me a while to find my #THM groove but I am all over the boards lately. When I first found the THM site, I knew that I had stumbled across something special! I have always struggled in my teaching career with maintaining my personal identity. I never wanted to feel like I lost myself or the true person that I am deep down inside because I work in a very traditional and conservative profession. Sheila's message of positivity and hope really resonates with me and I love what she's doing to create a supportive and positive teaching community. One where you can just be yourself and everything is alright!


Wow. This heading could have taken me to a lot of different places. This link up is meant to challenge you. I want for you to really think about your teaching practices and ideas when you sign up for the Global Glitter Monthly linky! I decided to take responsiveness on a different path today. I am looking at my responsiveness as an educator right now in the way that I understand my students' home lives. I really believe that this is key to "getting" the student...understanding the way they work...knowing what's going to work for them and what isn't. We all know that there isn't one magical formula in the classroom. You have to respond to what your students are bringing you and that might even mean knowing about their home life more in depth than you have in the past. Start asking questions, talk to parents, find out!!

Igniting Passionate Readers

My class is IN LOVE with our newsELA subscription this year and, quite frankly, so am I! They love the current, daily, engaging articles. They love reading about the world. They love taking quizzes with instant feedback. They are so into it! I am loving it too! The online grading is super fun! The quiz reports are super helpful for me to analyze! The articles are so so so so so interesting! I won a grant last year that paid for our subscription and I definitely hope to keep using this in future years!!

Bridging the Gap

Let's talk about the home/school gap for a minute. Sure, we try our best to overcome this. However, it's hard. One thing that kept teachers and families at odds last year was our math homework. You see, we were using this super complicated math program and we sent home homework from the math curriculum. The students had a hard time. Parents had no idea what on Earth we were doing. It was a flight. So, this year, in an effort to establish a stronger home-school connection around math, we revamped our homework. It's now a spiral review with more computational skills and I think that it was definitely the best move!

Enjoying Your Time

If you're a reader of my blog, you know that I really prioritize self care and taking time to just be yourself. Not a teacher. We all need to step away from time to time. Even I get so overloaded with things to do and places to be and calories to burn and...and...and....and.  I used to be super invested in baking. I mean really invested...financially and time-wise. Eventually, I burnt out on it. However, I loved baking at home. Decorating cakes became so therapeutic. I could just zone out and get creative for hours and hours. It was so relaxing. It was when everyone started asking to bake and decorate for them that I fell out of love with it. I miss it. I have all of the cake decor supplies around the house and I really might need to get into this again...just to take my mind of things and let my creativity soar!!

Here are some of my past cakes!

So...come link up with us! You have all month and we REALLY want to hear what's taking place in your neck of the woods!!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Sunday Scoop - October 11, 2015

Welcome back to a brand new Sunday morning edition of The Sunday Scoop! 

Have to Do...

I finally read through the ebook I picked up from my TpT idol and read through it in its entirety last night. I seriously COULD NOT put it down. Ever since, I've had idea overload swirling through my head. The amount of information in it was insane and I can't even begin to process the next steps for my blog, store and brand. There's just so much for me to look into and do that I couldn't even sleep last night! So, along with that, I have to recreate my TOU and credits page because I have been bombarded with new inspiration and...simply old TOU and credits no longer fit the direction of my brand.

It's not a secret that I've been heavily considering moving from Blogger to Wordpress. What I'm stuck on is whether I should hire out the migration and set up or try to learn it all myself. There's always a fine line between the DIY thing and being realistic with what's best to use my time on. I haven't figured it out yet but I need to start reading up to decide if the migration is something that I want to tackle on my own.

And along with that...when I do move...should I keep the same blog nam? How do you feel about "Keep Calm and Teach 5th Grade?" Should I find something less grade specific? Shorter? I don't know!!

I have this huge math product in the works. More about that later.

Hope to Do...

I nee a new tan cardigan. Loft to the rescue....

I'm still finishing up my blog hop posts. I have three of them coming up this weekend. Make sure you come visit to see all three posts!!

Happy to Do...

I started binge watching Arrow last night and it is glorious! I am ready to do some more of that!!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Best Houghton Mifflin Journey's Resources (5th Grade Focus)

This year, my school district adopted the Journey's curriculum from Houghton Mifflin. Like any new curriculum adoption, the path to discovering the best pieces is full of surprises and challenges.

After wading through the clutter, clunking around through all of the books, and frantically clicking through the entire online platform, I think that I've found the best pieces for my needs.  Please keep in mind that these may not necessarily suit your needs the best but I hope to help you find a good starting point for using this curriculum if you're new to it as well!

When I first started digging through the boxes, I was overwhelmed. There were so many books. So many teacher's editions, so many little readers...just so much stuff! To top it off, my district doesn't require us to use this curriculum. Rather, we are provided the curriculum as supports and resources to meet the standards in the way that we feel is best. That left for more for me to consider. What fits. What works? What's practical?

Let's get to digging...

Resources Worth Using....

Journey's Reader's Notebook


Why do I like it:  It's so easy to find fault in resources like this. I've heard it all. "They're just worksheets." However, I try to be realistic and look at the value that this resource CAN add to your classroom instruction. Not every single page in this book is gold. Actually, most of the page are probably more like silver BUT, I think that the value here comes in the preparation, consistency and ease of use that this resource provides! It's so easy for teachers to try to be innovative and reinvent every single thing. However, I try to be realistic and use what adds to my day but doesn't drain me. I need to save this creative juices for the right moments.

Where do I find it: The student workbooks are consumable. You have an answer key in your boxes somewhere! :)

How do I use it: I assign pages from this book for students to complete during their Daily 5 rotations. Usually, I have students work on the pages that are connected to the story first. Then, I add one or two pages related to spelling or grammar work. I think that these are very important topics but they often get overlooked in today's classrooms due to time constraints. This helps me get spelling and grammar in with minimal support on my end.

The Weekly Planner

Why do I like it: I love using the weekly planner because it gives me a quick glance at the week. I prefer to use the weekly planner when I sit down to do my lesson planning because I get an "at-a-glance" look at the texts we're using, the skills and strategies that we're working on and all supplemental lessons (grammar, writing, spelling, etc.). There are also lists of the CCSS at the bottom of the page so I can make sure that I have the correct CCSS statements up for the next week.

Where do I find it: In your teacher's edition, this page is just a few pages behind the "Whole Group" tab for each week. Each week has a new planner in the whole group session.

How do I use it: First, I look at the skill and strategy for the lesson. For example, this week's skills are: theme, dialogue, sequence of events. Then, I consider what I know about my students. Who needs help with determining theme? Is there anything that I can do in small groups this week to prepare them for this next week? Where can I put in quick checks or think alouds to support theme in my read aloud or other parts of the day? Then, I pull the materials that go with this. I'll grab the sequence of events graphic organizer, get sequence of events stuff together for small groups, and then check out the teacher think alouds and questions in the text. Next, I'll look at what small group readers are available and schedule those out for small group time. In addition, I flip through the grammar and phonics lessons to see what we really need help with and add those items to my Daily 5 checklists for the week. This helps me maintain a focus in my literacy instruction while also using my  own instructional skills in the topic.

My Write Smart

**Note: This is the online version but the same topics are also available in the Journey's student book and teacher's edition.

Why do I love it: There are honestly just so many reasons to love the My Write Smart component of Journeys. First of all, students today expect to use technology at school. They've lived their entire lives with access to the internet and electronic devices and...guess what...they LOVE it! They want to do things on the computer. Want to make reading quizzes more exciting, make them on the computer! Anyway, the My Write Smart program functions like an online word processor with access to prompts, scoring rubrics, and digital versions of the student texts (with read aloud options available). Second, this maintains online records of student scores and all of their work is right there. There's no more worrying about papers without names, students who just shove their assignment in their desks, etc. Third, practicing written responses in this manner will support students in preparing for their online state tests that require them to do something very similar to this. The students think it's just super cool...for an added bonus!

Where can I find it: If you're online, from your dashboard, the My Write Smart tab is the very last one on the right side. I have to scroll over to find it. Your district has to have your classes set up through your Journey's account for it to work so make sure that's complete. If you want to browse which assignments you can assign in Journey's, go to the assignments tab on your dashboard and then click for "searchable assignments." You can type in Write Smart or Write About Reading for starters. If you've seen those "Write About Reading" prompts in your textbook, those are available as assignments in My Write Smart. There are also performance assessments and other writing assignments as well. 

How do I use it: I have my students practice composing answers to prompts on paper first. I'll print out an "exit ticket" style sheet of paper for the "Write About Reading" prompt in the book. Then, we'll discuss what quality writing looks like in 5th grade and what things are required for a strong written response to the prompt. Then, the students write (on paper) about their thinking. Some days, I'll have students peer edit their responses but typically, they just get approval to move on and they go into their Write Smart assignment and type up their work. This is great for me because I can ready typed work and they get extra keyboarding practice too!

Online Tests

The online tests are one of my favorite components! Like I said before, students today are driven by technology. They want to be on it! The online tests are fantastic because it breaks down your data by student, class, and CCSS strands. I love being able to pull up a quick record of who needs help with each specific standard. Along with that, it breaks down the different components of the teacher's editions and student editions that I can use to teach it! I can add it to my planner or assign it to the students' accounts all right there from the test menu. The tests are customizable and you can assign it in its entirety or just small chunks of it! The written parts are graded by the teacher and you're given a scale to score it on and a place to leave feedback.

Now, getting all of the tests set up is pretty daunting. I actually created documents for my team that walk them through every step of the process. The only part that had to be done by someone else was importing my students into the system. That was done by the technology person at our district office. 

I really encourage you to play with this tool! It's a great thing to add to your instruction if you can get it all sorted out!

Performance Assessment


The last major thing that I think you really must look into are the Performance Assessments. I love these assessments because they really help prepare your students for state testing and Smarter Balanced Assessments. Now, this is not really why I like it. Sure, it helps you get everyone set. However, these assessments are composed of valuable skills that students really need to know! 

The assessments provide multiple texts and the students are required to write a piece integration information from multiple sources. This is a great place to start as a teacher to model what needs to be done while giving the student time to practice. There are multiple assessments included here for your class and they're well worth the time!

Now...perhaps I'll do another post on Journey's and how I'm using different things in my literacy instruction but for now, this is it.

Do you use Journeys? What are your favorite parts?