Monthly Archives: May 2013

Wrapping Up The School Year

I’m more than a little jealous of those of you who are done for this school year. I personally can’t wait for the weather to warm up a little bit and start my daily outings with my own kids – you know, the ones I gave life? It’s been a chilly and rainy May, and I’m hoping for a nice warm and sunny summer. I have so many plans for the beach, picnics, playing at the park, and finding new places on this little island that perhaps I haven’t seen yet. Below is a shot of the fam from last summer. We camped that evening with some friends, went on a bit of a nature hike and ate out at one of our favorite little spots that’s only open in the summer time. All in all, a perfect stay-vacation! Insert sigh here…Wrapping Up The School Year

However, before all of the summer fun that I have planned, I need to make it through the final month of my school year!

end of school year ideasOn that note, Laura from Corkboard Connections, was kind enough to allow me to write a guest blog post for her and I’d love for you to check it out if you have a moment. I know I’m not the only one left wondering how to wrap things up in this final month of school!

Please, shoot me a comment with your best end of school year ideas so that everyone can benefit!


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My Summer Read Has Arrived! Accessible Mathematics

I was pleasantly surprised just the other day when I went to collect my mail at the post office, and found that my prize from a blog contest that I entered had arrived! You know that I love PD and professional books. Well, I won a book called Accessible Mathematics: Ten Instructional Shifts That Raise Student Achievement, from Andrea, over at For The Love of Teaching Math. (Thanks again, Andrea.) I haven’t even gotten to sit down and have a really good look yet, but I’m dying to find some time to delve in. The ideas in this book are not about completely revamping your program, but making small shifts in what you already do. Some phrases that jumped out to me in reading the book’s description: “practical” “common-sense ideas” and “streamline your teaching”. Yes, please! I’ll take one of each!


mistake pencilI always read at least one or two professional books over the summer – and it looks like this is going to be one of them! I know, I know. Summer time is a time of rest and relaxation, but for me a big part of the summer is also working on improving my craft and finding at least a few new ideas that I may incorporate into the next school year. (I think it’s because I still feel so lucky to have a job, with the current state of education in my area, even though I’m almost seven years in.)

Anyhow, I’m not going to commit to a “book study” on the book. I’d love to, but I think that it’s just more than I’d like to sign up for – I’m running low on energy! I know that many of you may be in the same boat. However, this is a slim, little read at under 90 pages (there are multiple Appendices in addition to that, though). Very do-able if you are looking for a professional math read this summer. It also has examples from across the grade levels, so if you teach math – you’ll find something useful to take away, I’m sure!

I’m excited to start reading and seeing what common-sense ideas it has to offer me! I’ll be sure to share my main takeaways from the book in future blog posts this summer. If you have read the book, or would like to – please be sure to comment from time to time to tell me your thoughts. A conversation about these 10 shifts would be great.

Thanks again, Andrea. You’ve made choosing a summer reading focus pretty simple this year! I hope that all is well in your state of Oklahoma.


Do you read professional resources in the summer? Do you have a book that you could recommend? Please leave a comment with the title and I’ll add the links to the bottom of this post as they come in!


Some of your favorite professional reads:


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Using Independent Films as Texts in Your Classroom

I don’t know about you, but I’m always on the lookout for a great inspirational video to show my kids, and I have found a few good ones this year. Recently, I’ve been looking into some good sites for independent films that I can show to my students, which either provide a  text for discussion or written response in Language Arts, or that cross over with some of our outcomes in Social Studies and Health. I wanted to share a site that I found which looks pretty promising!

The site is called indie flix and I will tell you up front that it is a paid subscription site. That being said, indie flix has been generous enough to offer Lessons From The Middle TEN, 2 month subscriptions to share with you! How awesome is that? I’ll simply email the ten winners from the Rafflecopter widget below a redemption code and they will not be required to enter any credit card information. Winners will have two months to preview thousands of films from all over the world. Films are rated by age (although you should always preview a video before you show it to your students) and there are films from all genres and on many topics.

Let’s face it. It’s getting to “that” time of the school year when you just want to tear your hair out when students begin to lose their focus, and it can be difficult to keep everyone on pace until the end. That’s why I’m pretty excited! There are many great films on the site that you could use as texts in your classroom to base a discussion around or a writing assignment.

Using Independent Films as Texts in Your Classroom, indie flix, finding kind



Finding Kind is a video currently on free preview until May 24th, and I plan to show it to my students. It’s focused on the epidemic of girls bullying girls.

In February 2009, two young women, Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson joined forces having both been affected by female bullying throughout their youth and decided to create change by giving females a platform to speak out about this universal experience. What began as an idea for a documentary about girl-against-girl bullying, ultimately became Kind Campaign, an internationally recognized movement, documentary, and school assembly program based on the powerful belief in KINDness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl “crime.”


This is just one video on indie flix. As I said, there are thousands of films and although all are not appropriate for the classroom, but many are! There are films on everything from parkour to poverty, and all that’s needed is a teacher to see how the film could be effectively incorporated into her room.

I think that this is the perfect time of the school year to receive a two month free preview from this independent films site! Two months will take us to the end of the school year, and films on controversial or simply interesting topics will hold our kids’ attention when we need it most! Not to mention, the preview will run into the first weeks of summer.  What teacher wouldn’t want to curl up with a cup of coffee and thought provoking film on a rainy July afternoon? I can’t think of any! Wink


Would you like to receive a 2 month subscription to indie flix? Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please feel free to share any independent film sites that you use, in the comments below, as well!

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Thank you Indigo!!!!

I just have a quick post this evening. We got some VERY good news at my school this week. After MUCH work, and many hours we found out that we will be receiving an Indigo Love of Reading Grant for $84 000 over the next three years. Yahoo!!!!!

That’s $84 000 for books and literacy initiatives. Can you believe it? What this means to my school and our kids, I can not even describe. We are a community in need and Indigo has realized that and come to our rescue, so to speak. So, thank you so much to Indigo and all of the awesome teachers and parents who put hours of time into this application. You all rock!!!

Here’s a snippet of the telephone conversation when we found out that we were chosen. It was supposed to be an interview, to decide if our school could move to the next level. Little did we know, we were about to get some AMAZING news:)


Scroll down – we are Souris Consolidated School: Indigo Love of Reading Grant. The phone died right after we got the news and so we got cut off – but you get the idea!


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TPT Appreciation Sale is on now!

Just in case you haven’t heard…

TeachersPayTeachers is having their annual Teacher Appreciation Sale today and tomorrow, May 7-8. I’ll be having a sale in my TPT Store as well! Many people find that this is the sale that they like the most! The year’s almost over and people are thinking ahead for the next school year. Wouldn’t it be nice to have yourself all stocked up so that when Back to School time rolls around you’re already set to go?


Anyhow, I had to let you know about the sale! Happy browsing!

teachers pay teachers may sale


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And the winner is…(Plus Info on Student Blogging)

Thank you to all who hopped on over and followed our blogs and TPT Stores last weekend! Your participation in this little event was awesome! We do have a winner to announce

Drumroll please……

Teachingisagift McKay – your resources and Amazon gift code are on the way! Congratulations! Thanks to everyone who took the time to enter!

cartoon winner

I want to mention one more thing this evening. My post just went live on Global Teacher Connect yesterday and it’s about student blogging. I’d really encourage you to have a peek if you are currently blogging with your students OR if it’s something that you’d be interested in trying next year. I have a Collaborative Project: Student Blogging Form that you can fill out with your info so that you are able to contact each other and pair yourselves up! So far, there are teachers from Morocco, US, Canada, Ecuador and Bermuda who would like to blog this year or next! How cool is that?

If you would like to be contacted next year for blogging – just add that as a note on the form. We already have two teachers who have posted their info, who would be interested in something for next school year.

I’ve just started blogging with my students in the last month or so and we’re about to collaborate with another school on the Island and one in Ontario, Canada. The kids are trying to “fix up” their blogs a bit more for their audience – which is what we want! We want them writing for a purpose, and with an audience in mind! Anyhow, I can see this evolving into something more for next year. Maybe even a “Blog-folio” type of idea. Regular blogging would be great, but also, having their best pieces of writing displayed for an audience would be so cool. It would also be neat to see their writing abilities progress through the year. Anyhow, I am quite excited about what we’ve done with the blogs so far, although we all still have much to learn!

Check out the post on GTC and even if you’d be interested in having your students READ the student blogs and comment on them – fill out the form! The wider the audience the better! Plus, I’d love for my students to get comments from kids all around the world. That would be a big part of my ultimate goal. (I’ll be working on this next year…so stay tuned if you’re at all interested…)

That’s it for this evening! Please leave a comment here or on the Global Teacher Connect post if you have any tips or questions for me about student blogging.

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