Friday, May 31, 2013

Guest Poster Emily: Summer Books to Read

Summer Reads That Make You Go Hmmm...

Hi Everyone!  It's Emily from I Love My Classroom.    

I know you aren't used to seeing me over here on All Things Upper Elementary, but
it's really true!  I get to come and visit today.  :)

Today is a huge day for me - it's the LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!  I'm
not trying to rub it in, I'm just really really excited!

I wanted to share some helpful "teacher" books that I've read before and I'm looking forward to reading again this summer.  Then there are some that I've heard wonderful things about and they are in my cart at Amazon.  Maybe you are in the same boat?  No time to read during the school year, so the books are piled high for summer?

Yep!  That's me.
First up - Daily 5 and CAFE by the Sisters.  I enjoy a little refresher of Daily 5 each summer.  It's a good reminder of what works in the classroom, before you tweak it to fit your own schedule.  The big thing that I always take away from the book is how many options I have for it to work in my classroom.  It's a guideline, not a strict program - but the outcomes are wonderful!  Even in my 4th grade classroom, even with the different bunches of kids that I have worked with... Last year there was a book study going on, so I shared a lot of the different things I have done.  Here is the link in case you are interested.  
Now with CAFE - I'm going to admit that I messed up big time when I first read it.  3 Novembers ago  I raced through Daily 5 in one night - stayed up until 3 am to read it, then I went out the next day and bought CAFE.  In a matter of a week I was trying to implement both systems into my classroom.  I was buying listening centers, book boxes, mp3 players, making binders, etc... and it got overwhelming trying to do too much change in a very little amount of time that I couldn't keep up with it all.  So, then I stepped back and took time just to familiarize myself with Daily 5 - working with it, utilizing it - it's so different than our district curriculum of Open Court Reading.  This past year I really got into the CAFE (though I changed it to FACE of a Reader).  I love the aspects and I'm hopeful that next year I will be able to do so much more.  It's about organizing the assessment data and tells you how to work with each child during conferences.

Want my "FACE of a Reader" student strategy list that goes along with the Sister's CAFE?  
It's right here in a Google Doc.  Not super cute, but totally functional.   
Next would have to be The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  Last summer I read the book for the first time, and after I got my head wrapped around all the ideas that she presents, I started feeling more comfortable with it.  I love her ideas to increase student's love for reading.  There were things that I had to adjust for my own class.  Don't we all have to adjust...  
This summer I'm excited to read Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson.  I know there are many things going around about Mentor Sentences, and I would really like to implement that into my classroom next year.  My grade level teammate just finished the book and highly recommended it - she said it was an easy read that makes so much sense.
I'm also excited to read more about Whole Brain Teaching by Chris Biffle.  Last summer I watched a ton of videos to learn the basics, but I'm interested to see the background behind it.  Maybe it's just how I'm wired - needing to read about it in a book - but I'm hoping that it might make more sense to me.

Well - that's it.  My guest post over at ATUE.  :)  It was nice talking to you today!  Hopefully you saw some books that made you go Hmmm...  :)
Feel free to visit me over at my blog, on Facebook, on Pinterest,
or see what I have to help you out in my TPT or TN stores!   

Thursday, May 30, 2013

One of those Weeks...

Yep, we all have them. Just one of those weeks where everything is on your plate and something has to give. Well this week it had to be my scheduled blog post about "Making Time for INBs". Quite fitting if you think about it.

Some of you may know my mother was recently diagnosed with Lymphoma. Last Friday she had her second round of chemo treatments and the week after is always the "bad time". Since my father is a teacher as well, and I am able to work remotely (benefit of virtual teaching), I volunteered to come over and stay during the week so she would have someone to help care for her.

Well, my focus hasn't been on writing a blog post and here I sit at 9:34 pm on Wednesday night to let you know that I'm not forgetting about you all but I wanted to let you know.

I will be back with the blog post about Making Time for INBs in your Classroom in 2 weeks but for now, please jump on over to my blog where I have an Interactive Notebook Linky Party going on! It's for all subjects and all grades! There are so many new people jumping on the INB wagon this summer and we all need inspiration!

Feel free to share a blog post, pictures and/or video for Interactive Notebook resources for others! No product links please.

So, until next time...

Mathematically Yours,

Jennifer Smith-Sloane
4mulaFun on Facebook
4mulaFun on Pinterest

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Vertebrates Unit: Classifying Animals

Now that state testing is over for fourth graders here in Massachusetts (and thanks to all the storms this year it's going to be a lonnnng June), I have felt the pressure of math and ELA lifted, and I've been fitting in more science and social studies into our days.  I also looked over my blog topics over this past year and I was shocked to find I have not posted a SINGLE piece on science!  I actually DO teach science, really!  So I decided to  start at the beginning share a topic that I love to teach the kids:  Animals!  More specifically we begin by studying the traits of, and classifying vertebrates. 

Graphics from
We start out with a study guide.  Instead of waiting until the end of the unit to tell kids what their test will be on, I give them a one page sheet at the beginning of the unit.  It has all the vocabulary concepts and examples that we are going to work on over the course of the unit.  Some kids like to check off each topic as we cover it.

Next, we talk about the stages of the life cycle for all vertebrates.  This eases kids into the year because who doesn't love to draw their favorite baby animal? 

Next, we complete a concept map for vocabulary words including habitat, appendages, body covering,  and adaptations. 

My poster board is in sad shape unfortunately, but only because it's been so useful over the years for both science and social studies concepts.  I'm not sure yet if I want to create a new one on poster board (the kids complain that laminated posters are hard to read because of the glare, and I don't blame them) or some sort of shower board project from the hardware store.  We'll see!

But back to vertebrates.  Next we start our research, checking off which characteristics animals have when it comes to the above traits.


I often alternate colors to help students track on the board, and they've also let me know that the lines are helpful, so I started doing this consistently this year as well.  One thing I love about fourth grade is some kids are starting to be able to verbalize what they need in order to be successful, and they advocate for themselves!

Then we begin research on student generated topics on adaptations, such as why birds can fly and why snakes don't need appendages other than their tails.  I usually group students by their selected topics, and they do an oral presentation to the class about their findings.  I'm not usually a fan of oral presentations, but when it comes to animals students are usually so interested in the topic that they can overcome their shyness to share. 

Finally, my favorite part of our unit is to create our own animals!  They need to decide if its a mammal, fish, amphibian, bird or reptiles, and have the correct traits, but otherwise they can be as creative as they like!  Yet I can still assess which students can apply what they know about the characteristics of each of the animal classes.

The unit that follows is on invertebrates, which I have written about over on my other blog.  So if you're interested in more animal activities, head over to Shut the Door and Teach!  Also, if you're interested in getting these activities and more in a package deal, I have this vertebrate unit on sale for 3 days only at 20% off over at my TPT store. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Change the World...One Lesson at a Time

ATUE friends: I have entered the blogosphere. Cue the celebratory applause! (From myself. Woohoo!) I'm late to the blogging game, but I've loved getting my feet wet here at ATUE and loooooove reading the fabulous posts at my fellow collaborators' own blogs. I'm so excited to jump in myself!

On my first day ever as a teacher, my principal said something that stuck with me. He said that teaching is a huge responsibility, but with responsibility comes opportunity. That really resonates with me. As educators we have the opportunity to change the day, one student, one lesson at a time. And so...One Lesson at a Time was born! 

I'm excited to have another little corner of the internet in which to share ideas about education and connect with inspiring teachers. Here are a few things I've blogged about so far:

My classroom management system:

Although I have several systems in place (including a Bucket Filling program, which you can read more about here on ATUE), my whole-class management is centered around "Team Turner Time". Click the picture to read my post detailing my system - it's a way to promote positive behavior and teamwork while working on elapsed time every day!

Foldable multiplication fun:

This year, I really took my cues from Pinterest - and that meant LOTS of foldable fun in the classroom! Click the picture to read about a quick and easy way to incorporate foldables into multiplication fact practice. 

End of the Year Class Compliments:

I think the end of the year is such an important time for students to reflect on their year and the relationships that they have developed with their classmates. This free activity has colorful slips for students to write compliments to each of their classmates - the best kind of end of the year gift! Click the picture to read more about it on my blog or click here to download your copy for free at Teachers Pay Teachers. 

Thanks for letting me "introduce" myself again - this time as a Blogger! :) Have a great week!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Guest Poster Tammi Booth: The Reading Writing Connection

   Hello! I am honored to be a guest at All Things Upper Elementary. I hope that you will find my post helpful.

   Reading makes you a better writer. Writing makes you a better reader. This seems simple enough. However, when it comes to time constraints, writing usually ends up on the short end of the stick. Experience has shown me the important role writing can play in the development of a reader. I'm going to share some simple truths that I've found when it comes to writing and how I incorporate these into my classroom.

 1. Lay the Foundation: Teach and reinforce daily the basic mechanics and format of writing. Every writing piece contains certain elements such as BME (beginning, middle, end), words that make the author's meaning clear, and of course spelling, punctuation, capitals, etc. I try hard to lay this foundation from day one in my classroom. It takes practice, practice, practice until it becomes second nature. Journal writing is good place to start with this.

 2. Allow time for Creative Writing: My children build upon the foundation through creative writing. Seasonal story starters are some of my student's favorites. Their writing pieces have a place in our classroom and are available as reading material for free time reading or reading workshop. Children need time to be creative and have fun with writing.

3.  Learn the Process:  My children create a formal graded writing piece each quarter. They learn the writing process and how to evaluate their own writing. I walk them through the each step of the process(Pre-writing, drafting, editing/revision, and publishing) at the beginning of the year and gradually allow them to take over. Of course, it's necessary to differentiate according to needs. I may have a small group that requires more guidance through the process while I let the others go. It is so important for them to have an evaluation tool during the process, whether it is a checklist or rubric. 

4. Use Writing to Reinforce Reading: I can't stress enough how important writing can be to connect what you're teaching in reading.  For instance, I follow up my Fables, Folktales, and Myths Unit with a writing piece that requires the elements of a folktale. My students created a tall tale about the founder of our city. This activity integrated our Social Studies standards as well. 
Poetry-I introduce a type of poem, read examples, and then the children write their own. I repeat this process with each type of poem.

Vocabulary-An activity that my children enjoy is creating comic strips with vocabulary words. I differentiate the activity based on the reading level of the children. The example below contains three words from a high level reading story. The children use the words in context while creating a basic plot of a short story. I have also used this activity to implement use of dialogue. 

You can download a copy of my comic strip template from my Reading Strategies Bundle by clicking on the picture.

 Other-use transition words in writing after a lesson on sequence, create an information book requiring the students use nonfiction text features-word bank, glossary, subheadings, pictures with captions, etc.

Writing can be the cement needed to secure the understanding of reading concepts and skills. It is worth the time to make the Reading/Writing Connection.



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Free 4 All Linky Party!

As many of us are wrapping up our school years and counting down the precious days left until Summer, this is the perfect time to start thinking about next year! 

Feel free to grab some of today's FREEBIES, share some of your own and let us know in the comments how many days left YOU have until school is over! 

 And now....ON TO THE LINKY! Below, you'll find a treasure trove of free resources for grades 3-6. Link up your own free items as well! Link to a blog post or straight to your freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

Make sure to spread the love by sharing this linky with other teachers via Facebook, Pinterest, your blog, etc. And in the spirit of collaboration, don't link and run! :) Leave comments for the 2 posts before yours, and come back and leave a comment on the post after yours. 

 Thanks for sharing with us and HAPPY LINKING!

Friday, May 24, 2013

MobyMax It Up!

First off, to all of you who are already on summer break or will be in a few days, congrats! You made it through another school year! For those of you who still have a ways to go, hang in there, it will be here before you know it (yeah, right, I know), and spend some time with us at ATUE for some engaging ideas and activities you can use with your students while you survive enjoy the last few weeks of your school year.

First, let us preface this post by saying that we in no way endorse that a computer program can replace a living, breathing, warm-bodied teacher. However, we do believe that on-line learning tools can be a very beneficial addition to your classroom instruction. There are lots of on-line learning aides out there. We have used IXL, Study Island, and RAZ Kids to name a few. While our students have enjoyed and benefited from using all of them, there is one slight hitch.....they are not free! You have to pay to use them. Gotta have a subscription. $$$$$. Not a big deal for us as our school foots the bill, but not everyone is as lucky to have the available funds. Now, we are not saying that you have to have your students use an on-line learning tool, but it does help and we all have a few students who will balk at the idea of math or reading, but, put them on a computer program, and they can't get enough! We were fortunate enough to have a colleague discover MobyMax and she sent the website our way. THANK YOU!!!

While MobyMax does have a Pro subscription that you have to pay for, there is a free edition. I know what you are thinking, "2 Brainy Apples, free editions are junk compared to Pro editions!" Not so fast! Earlier this year I decided to give the free MobyMax edition a try, and, I gotta tell you, I loved it! So did my students....and so did the parents of my students. While the free edition doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the Pro, you do get 30 day access to these bells and whistles so you can see if you think splurging the $59 is worth it or not. Me, well, I didn't splurge because I felt like the free edition had enough bells for what I needed to use it for.

What is MobyMax, you ask? Well, it is an on-line learning tool that encompasses math (including fact fluency), vocabulary, grammar, and reading is coming soon. You sign up either as a school teacher or homeschool teacher, and after you create your account, you can watch a short tutorial on how to use the tool, or, you can be like me and skip the video and just start clicking on what you like :) It is easy to navigate and easy to begin using. You enter as many students as you would like (yes, even in the free edition), and then you have the option of modifying the settings if you would like (I didn't), then your students are ready to pre-test.

Sounds like a winner so far! How does it work, you ask? Well, Once your students take the pre-test, it places them on their current grade level in that subject area (math, grammar, and soon-to-be reading are determined by mastery of the CCSS). Sound like some other on-line learning tools you have used before? Yep, sounds similar to Study Island.

But, here is the difference that we loved about MobyMax! It then determines upcoming lessons for students to complete. It places lessons in a sequential order from basic skills to more complex skills, so your students aren't just willy-nilly choosing lessons to complete. Yeah, we know you can assign lessons for students to complete in other on-line learning tools, but students and parents ultimately determine which lessons are completed. You can't restrict student access to certain lessons. They have the freedom to choose which ones they want to do. And we aren't saying that's a bad thing, but we know which lessons students need to work on, and it can be time consuming to assign students a lesson because not every student needs to work on the same lesson...but MobyMax makes it easy. If students are in 3rd grade, and they are still having trouble with addition and subtraction, they can't choose multiplication and division lessons because they aren't ready for those yet. MobyMax lists the upcoming lessons students will be working on. As students pass a lesson, they get to move on to the next one. What if you want students to work on a lesson that isn't listed at the top of the list? Well, one of the benefits of being a living, breathing, warm-bodied teacher is that YOU can override the program's decision. And it's very easy to do, we might add, if that is what you wish. We didn't, though.

We even love the way students practice those skills. MobyMax uses a Teach Me, Feedback, and Read Aloud cycle that our students greatly benefited from. Each lesson begins with an animated teaching bit, then students can practice with immediate feedback, and for students who may struggle with reading, there is an option for the computer to read aloud parts of the problem. Perfect for center time at school or independent practice at home.

Now while you do get the Progress Monitoring piece free for 30 days, you still get the scores from each of your students' lessons, so you can easily take those grades and plop them into Excel (or another program) to create your own graph if you decide not to upgrade. This is a great piece of data to have for the RTI process!

There are more great features with the Pro upgrade, but you will get them free to try out to decide if you think it's worth the splurge. Some of the upgrades I used for the 30 days included the Messenger (where you and your students can send secure messages back and forth to each other concerning their progress. I actually had one student ask me to "unlock" a lesson because he wanted extra practice.); badges (if you use Edmodo, then you are familiar with badges...basically the more a student participates, they earn more badges...great motivator for some students!); contests (either between students in your class or your class versus other classes in your school who use MobyMax...we know some students need competition to be motivated); parent portal so parents can see their child's progress and growth; goal setting with progress monitoring which is excellent for kiddos in the RTI process or students with IEPs; and there are many more.

Now, like I said, I didn't upgrade to Pro after 30 days, but it could have been because I found MobyMax so late in the school year I didn't see the benefit of doing so. Will I go Pro after 30 days next school, year..... if I had a Magic 8 ball, it would probably say, "Outlook Good"!

So why am I writing this post now, as so many schools are getting out for summer, and not at the beginning of next school year? 
Summer learning opportunity!!!!!
I wanted to let you all know about MobyMax so you could spend some time this summer navigating, but also since you have an unlimited number of students you can assign to your class (and an unlimited number of classes you can create to which you assign students), what better way (and motivator) for your current students to continue keeping their skills sharp over the summer and continue to grow??????? Just because school ends doesn't mean your account expires. If you set your students up now, they will have access to MobyMax over the summer months and you can  continue to encourage them to keep improving. Parent letters are a snap to print out and send home, and many parents love to have something for their children to do over the summer so they don't regress (and we know most students will regress some over the break). And the best part is YOU don't have to look for practice pages to print, staple into packets, and send home. Too time consuming when MobyMax is ready and waiting. If a student doesn't have a computer or Internet access at home, most all public libraries allow patrons to use their computers and Internet as part of their library privileges.

What do you think about MobyMax? Will you be giving it a whirl? Have you already used MobyMax? What did you think? Let us know your thoughts and if you have used it before. And if you will be using it, please remember to come back and leave us a comment below about your experience!

And don't forget about our Free For All Linky tomorrow! Be sure to come back and link up some great FREEBIES to help everyone get through the rest of the school year!

Until next time!

2 Brainy Apples

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Making the connection between literature and math (part 1)

The school year is winding down, next year’s teaching assignments are being handed out, and teachers are being asked to use up what little bit of money that is left in the budget.   As the head of the math department at my school, I often get asked about “non-classroom supply’ purchases for the math classroom.  Usually, my first go to is any type of hands-on manipulative – unfortunately these are usually too expensive for the teacher budget, so I save my department budget for them.   Next, I try to make a literature connection in the classroom.  Kids LOVE to have story-time… yes, even 8th and 9th graders (no really!)  AND the best part about books is they are completely affordable.  You can get some great deals online in places such as Amazon or you can go to your local used bookstore and pick up some great finds.  (On a side note- my Mother-in-Law owns an amazing used bookstore and I get all the amazing math literature books that I could possibly imagine!  It’s like my birthday multiple times a year!!!)
I know what you are thinking…’MissMathDork, math and literature connections?! UGH!  They must be so young… they must be so boring... They must be so… unavailable’.  Well friends, I’m here to offer you a two-part series on 10 amazing books on 10 different topics that you can EASILY use in your Upper Elementary or Middle School classroom.  AND, as if pointing you in the direction of 10 amazing books wasn’t awesome enough, I’m also providing links to amazing blog posts and TpT products from some of the great collaborators here at ATUE.  One book + multiple products = easy lesson for next year, or even now as the year is winding down! 

10 amazing math books to make a connection with in your classroom
In no particular order of preference, here are the first 5:

If you Hopped Like a Frog by David Schwartz
7 - 10 years
math connection: ratios, proportions, measurements

This book is amazingly cute and fun at the same time.  The premise of the book is connection interesting facts about animals and other creatures around us to human beings.  For example, A frog can jump 20 times it's length.  if a human being could do that, they would be able to jump from one base to another on a baseball diamond! 

Some ideas to use with If You Hopped like a Frog

Proportions Unit and Pacing Guide by 4mulaFun


Spaghetti and Meatballs for All by Marilyn Burns
4 - 8 years
math connection: perimeter, area, math skills, 

This book is one of my favorites.  While the age ranges seems low, don't let that full you.  I have used this with 8th graders working on area and perimeter before and had just as much fun with it.  In this book the family is having a reunion and they must figure out the best seating arrangements for all of their tables and chairs - they think they have a plan... and then the guests show up!

Some ideas to use with Spaghetti and Meatballs for All

Rectangle Round Up by Mr. Hughes

The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns
4 - 8 years
math connection: triangles, polygons, shapes

Love this one for teaching shapes and jumping to polygons in the real world.  This is a story of a little triangle who is sad that he only has 3 sides.  He ventures into the world and meets the shape-shifter,  only to realize that too many sides is a bad idea too!  

Some ideas to use with the Greedy Triangle

G is for Googol by David  Schwartz
8 and up
math connection: all things math!

This book is super fun! It is a math dictionary with fun facts, pictures and connections to math.  My favorite page is D is for Diamond.  WHOA!  MissMathDork a diamond is NOT a mathematical figure - how can that be your favorite page? you might ask... Well, that's why I love that page; it sets the facts straight about a diamond not being a mathematical figure!  as Mr. Schwartz says, 'we put diamond in the book so you would know that it doesn't belong here' (Schwartz, 10)

Some ideas to use with the G is for Googol
Make your own class dictionary!  (hmmm... maybe I need to do this with my kiddos next year!)

Pigs in the Pantry l by Amy Axelrod
One of MANY in the Pigs will be Pigs series!
4 and up
math connection: cooking, fractions

I absolutely LOVE this book!  It's so cute and so fun and those pigs... oh man, they are just plan adorable! This book is chocked full of a well-intending plan going very wrong.  Cooking with fractions and discovering their mistakes brings lots of laughs in the classroom!  

Some ideas to use with Pigs in the Pantry


Wooo! That was a bunch of amazing literature information thrown at you all at once!  I look forward to doing part two very soon!  And, if you all really like this idea, I'd love to do even more books over the summer.  Let me know what you think!  I'd love to hear from  you!!

Want to stay in contact with me?  Here are some awesome options:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Share: A Cat Named Haiku

About three years ago, my husband and I made the trip to the Collingswood Book Festival in New Jersey. It was an amazing afternoon filled with new book treasures just waiting to be found. There were so many authors and illustrators there, and it was such a rewarding experience to meet the talented people who actually created the books I was purchasing for my classroom. The autographed copies I now own ARE treasures in my classroom, and my students always treat these special copies with the respect and awe they deserve. 

It was here at the book festival that I first stumbled across a special little book called A Cat Named Haiku. I teach haiku every year during my poetry unit. I LOVE teaching poetry and am always on the hunt for new poetry resources. In addition, animals are everything to me, so whenever a great poetry resource has an adorable animal theme, I am sold!
I was able to meet the author, Mark Poulton, at the festival as well. Mark is a freelance comic book writer and children's book author who lives in New Jersey. When I was thinking about what to post for this week, I contacted Mark to see if he would mind me blogging about his wonderful book. He was so gracious and kind, and he truly seemed to appreciate my email. For that, he deserves author extra credit (as only teachers can give)!
A Cat Named Haiku (written by Mark and illustrated by the very talented Dexter Weeks) "tells the story of a day in the life of a mischievous little cat as he learns a valuable lesson on love told completely in haiku. All of Haiku's antics are chronicled in the three line poetry of his namesake in this 40 page children's book."

Let me tell you, my students ADORE this book! They chuckle out loud at Haiku throughout the pages of this book, and they love both the illustrations and the poetry. 

I use the book as a springboard for my students to write their own stories in haiku. We have done this in several different ways. One year, I purchased the accompanying coloring book and gave each student a page. Students worked together as a class to write our own tale of Haiku and his antics. Each student wrote his/her own haiku on a coloring book page and colored the picture as well. We then bound them into a book and gave it to my student teacher at the time as a gift for her own future classroom. She was so touched, and she loved that her first book for her classroom was written by all of us!
I have also had students try their hands at writing their own haiku stories. I read A Cat Named Haiku first for inspiration. Students then picked animals of their choice, and they wrote and illustrated their own haiku stories. We had lizards, ostriches, and elephants named Haiku!

This book is always such a hit with my class that I just had to share it with my bloggy friends! The great news I just heard through emailing Mark is that a sequel is coming soon! It will be out in September and is called A Cat Named Haiku 2: The Dust Bunny. "In this all new adventure, Haiku discovers a new world underneath his owner's bed. In the process, he makes a new friend." It is also told entirely in haiku. I can already envision a poetry lesson revolving around what someone might find under our beds or in our rooms!
You can find Mark Poulton and A Cat Named Haiku here:

There is also an app for the iPhone/iPad that comes with an audio version of the book read by Mark as well as eight different puzzles and games...and it's only 99 cents! You can find it HERE.

Thanks to Mark and Dexter for creating such a special book that will be a big part of my poetry lessons for years to come!

Speaking of cats, if you haven't read yesterday's post by Meg from Fourth Grade Studio yet, check it out. She has a great new product, Rescue Pets: Word Problems for Charity. She is donating all profits to help homeless animals! A great math product + helping animals = a win-win!

Until next time, happy teaching, friends!
You can find me here:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teachers Helping Teachers--and Animals?

I know what you are thinking . . . she's crazy.  Or, perhaps, you are thinking--at this time of year, my students are "animal enough" for me!  I get it!  I wanted to share with you something that has been eating away at me for a while, and I finally decided to act on it!

Two years ago, I finally convinced my husband to let us adopt a "rescue kitty" from a new organization in our community dedicated to not only saving animals, but educating people about the pet population.  I had wanted a pet for my family since we lost our other cat to cancer many years ago.  I won't tell you exactly what my husband got in the bargain--but let's just say that we have two cars AND another vehicle in our garage right now.

It did NOT take Milo long to forget he was abandoned and to believe he is king of our castle!

Milo, our furbaby, was the very first adoption from "Wish Upon a Paw", and adding a new family member has been a wonderful learning experience for me and for my older son--far more than having something to cuddle with on the couch!  We have both helped the organization by volunteering in a few different ways, and we are continually impressed with how hard these people work--and for no compensation.  They are constantly organizing fund raisers and finding ways to make every penny count so they can help more animals find their "forever homes".

Although we have helped out some, I have felt like there might be more I can do--and I came up with the idea of creating a product for my store where all the profits go to this organization.  My word problem sets have been growing in popularity, so I thought making a set of these on a "pet" theme might be fun--and I could commit to donating every penny of the profits to this organization.

This has inspired other talk in our house, and my son is now looking into planning a special baseball camp at his high school for special needs students and is eager to get more involved in the service club at school.  Who would have thought that a little furball who was abandoned, rescued, and then placed in our home could have inspired our family to start doing more for others?

So . . . I have no teaching tips today!  I simply challenge each one of you to find a way to make a difference beyond your classroom--whether it be volunteering . . . or finding a few extra pennies to donate to a cause that you value . . . or by talking to your students about "paying it forward" by doing good deeds.  As we continue to see horrific news scroll across our screens and we feel increasing pressures at home and work--we CAN continue to make the world a better place!  Interested in checking out the "Rescue Pets" problem set?  Here it is!

I'd love to hear other ways you are making a difference in YOUR communities!  Share your ideas in the comments--what you are doing may inspire the rest of us to do more!  Please enjoy your last weeks of school--and make sure to check out the amazing posts that have been appearing over the last weeks here at ATUE!  

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