Thursday, December 25, 2014

Hope Your Day Has Been Beautiful!

I hope your Christmas day has been full of JOY, love, laughter and great health. Blessings!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Wishing you a Relaxing Holiday Break

I know we have all been awaiting some time to rest and recharge our bodies.  Wow, it's really here.We made it!

Wishing you a safe and relaxing holiday break with your loved ones.

photo credit:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Writing in Reading Class? Of Course!

I teach five classes of reading throughout the day - that's a little over 100 children. We read every day! I love teaching reading! However, there's something else that's just as important that I love teaching my students, and that's life lessons. This week's life lesson - have an attitude of gratitude.

We took a little side step from our usual reading activities and thanked our parents, aunts, uncles, (whomever the child wanted to write) for the kind things they do. This was NOT a letter to ask for more around the holiday season, but a moment just to say "thank you!" Too many times the little daily routines that parents do on a regular basis go unnoticed.

We went through the entire writing process. When editing with students, I loved seeing many of our great $100 vocabulary words we discuss in class on a regular basis included in the letters. For example, one child stated that he appreciated his mom sitting in the stands, cheering him on in the frigid weather. Another student thanked his mom and dad for lifting his spirits when he was melancholy. Metaphors and similes were also used. Two of my favorites were, "You are the hand that picks me up when I get down." "Life is a puzzle, and without you, I'm incomplete."

I know that parents will truly appreciate the words of kindness (I know as a parent I cherish the heartfelt, homemade gifts). Hopefully, these cards will be keepsakes for a lifetime.  More importantly, I hope my students learned an important life lesson: words of kindness make a difference and go so far!

I think I'll go and thank some of those incredible people in my life for all they do.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Quote of the Day: Happy Sunday!

Here's a quote for the day!

Wishing you all a wonderful week (hang in there- ha) before the holiday break. We can do this!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Have you tried Go Noodle in the Classroom?

We all have our favorite programs that we use in our classrooms.  My last post was about how I use ClassDojo to manage classroom behavior. Another favorite program that I use is Go Noodle. Have you tried it? Wow! I love this! It's free brain breaks to get our students wiggling and moving. Don't they all need that?

I certainly don't have time to use it every day with only 55 minutes per class (I teach five classes of students per day). However, when we do have a little extra time, I've set each class up with their own Go Noodle character. As you complete videos, movement, etc, as a class, your character amps up, grows muscles, and you can constantly change your characters. The students visibly see progress and, as you know, this brings excitement.

Last week, we watched a silly (but catchy) video in Go Noodle titled "Kitty High Five." As the students walked out of my class, I gave them a "kitty high five." Even fifth graders thought this was fun!

If you haven't checked it out, you must. I highly recommend it. Click HERE to learn more about Go Noodle. Oh, and did I mention that it's FREE.
Photo Credit:

Too bad I was dancing right along with my fifth graders (oops, I was having a little too much fun) and didn't record them. However, to get a glimpse into how much the kiddos enjoy Go Noodle, I do happen to have a snapshot of some of my former students.
Happy Teaching,

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Persuasive Text and ClassDojo Points?

You all know we have those days when we're frustrated with how lessons go. We've all been there. Well, today was NOT one of those days (thank goodness). I teach five reading classes (about 100 kiddos), and I spotted some beautiful reading and "partner superstars" throughout the day.

This week, we are focusing on persuasive text. Our vocabulary includes words like misleading statements, counterarguments, biased, contradictory statements, exaggerated statements, and point of view. I not only wanted my students to be able to read persuasive text but to be able to extract pertinent information from the text, and give textual evidence to prove those particular opinions. The two persuasive books I choose were about organic farming (included letters to the editor: pro and con) and The School Year Needs to be Lengthened (you can imagine the vociferous objections when I said this) versus We Need Summertime, Too.

Most of my students went from not even knowing what organic meant to believing that organic fruits and vegetables are more "succulent" and "exquisite." I love the vocabulary they're learning!  On the other hand, only a handful felt like we needed more school (ha). Do you blame them? They were definitely able to give multiple reasons from the book as to the invaluable life lessons they learn during the summer.

While my students were working in pairs with their books, I told them that I was going to be looking for "Partner Superstars." I love using ClassDojo in the classroom. If you haven't checked out ClassDojo, you MUST.  It's FREE and is a phenomenal class management tool. Click here to learn more: ClassDojo

ClassDojo allows you to pick avatars for your students and assign particular behaviors. You then can add or deduct points based on student behavior.  I went in and added "Partner Superstars" to my behavior list. As students worked diligently, I used the app on my phone (free from the App Store) to add points to partners. As first, they couldn't believe that I could actually add points while walking around the room.

Note: I give PRAISE TICKETS  in my class, and students can then put those in a bucket to draw for fun surprises such as "wear a hat," "eat with the teacher," "write in ink," "choose your seat," and more. Therefore, each ClassDojo point equals 1 Praise Ticket. Should a student hit 3 points in one class period, it's the "Magic 3." This means a walk to the PRIZE BOX automatically. Woo hoo!

Again, today was one of those days when I felt like everything fell into place. Ahhhh! Don't we love those days! Look at my superstars working hard - giving opinions from the books and supporting it with text evidence and looking up words in the glossary after guessing what complex words meant from the context clues. I'm one proud teacher!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

CYBER SALE ON TPT - December 1 and 2

I'm getting excited! Who doesn't love a sale?  Join the party over at Teachers Pay Teachers.  Shop on Monday and Tuesday, December 1st and 2nd and get great savings.  Shop the cyber sale, and save 20% off EVERY product in my entire store.  Use the promo code TPTCYBER to save an additional 8%.  Load your cart today and get ready. I know my cart is loaded and ready!

Here are a few of my most popular products (all will be on sale Monday and Tuesday).
Alliteration is Alive - Open Ended Activities and Game
Context Clues Bundle (2 Sets: 1 with QR Codes)
Non Fiction Text Features and Text Structure Task Cards

Verb Bundle (Task Cards and Practice)
Verb Bundle (Task Cards and Practice - NO PREP)
Vocabulary Bundle (Task Cards, Digital Media Activity, Vocabulary Resource and More)

Grammar Bundle - HUGE Savings
DON'T FORGET to leave feedback on all products you've purchased. You can use these credits toward your future purchases. Pretty cool!

I'd be honored if you followed me. Be the first to know about my new products and freebies by clicking on the green star near the top of my TpT store page or on the right hand column of the product listing. 

You can also Follow me on PinterestFacebook, and my BLOG!
Happy teaching and happy shopping!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Quote of the Day!

Love this quote! So much of what we do in the classroom is just to facilitate and assist in discovery vs. spoon feeding our students all our knowledge.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fun with Figurative Language

This past week was ALL ABOUT figurative language (similes, metaphors, hyperboles, personification, onomatopoeias, oxymorons, and idioms). Throughout the week, we discussed figurative language, watched videos, analyzed Robert Frost's poem "Walking in the Woods on a Snowy Evening" and analyzed "Gold" by Britt Nicole. This song has such a great message, and my students loved finding figurative language in it. I heard quite a few times, "Can we listen to that again?" Here's the video I used with the lyrics.
While searching for fun activities to do with idioms (yes, you know I was on Pinterest), I found an exciting activity on "Head Over Heels for Teaching's blog." I decided to give it a try.

For homework, students were to bring in an idiom. They could create it, draw the idiom, bring objects in, or act it out. First, I put a picture of my cat in a bag and pulled it out several times. They got it! "You let the cat out of the bag!"

Let the fun begin! We had so many creative idioms brought in. I truly think idioms will be memorable in their minds for quite some time. See some creative examples below.

Early bird gets the worm

When pigs fly

Apple of my eye
A little birdie told me

Kicked the bucket

Put a sock in it & One foot in the grave

Figurative language has been a blast! Can't wait until we spiral around to it again!

Blessings and happy teaching,

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Today's Golden Nugget: The Third Circle

Since school started, I've been busy with planning and implementing activities in my fifth grade classroom. Therefore, I haven't been able to read for personal pleasure as often (you know how that goes).

As soon as I got a few free minutes, I once again grabbed one of my favorite professional development/education books: Teach Like a Pirate written by Dave Burgess.

Today's Golden Nugget: The Third Circle

If you're like me...I wondered what in the world "the third circle" was (interesting title). After reading the chapter, I totally agree that so many professional development workshops and meetings focus on the TECHNIQUES such as scaffolding, "think-pair-share," whole brain teaching, etc., and on CONTENT. Yes, these two "circles" are absolutely important. However, too many times no one is talking about the third circle...PRESENTATION.

I was fortunate enough to experience, in person, the man who's on a mission to change this. Thank you, Dave Burgess, for going on a "one-man mission, traveling far and wide" to share this pertinent aspect of the classroom.

So how do we focus (and improve upon on) the presentation part of our lessons? This chapter reminds us to create those "magical moments" in our classrooms by making it so entertaining that students don't realize they're actually learning. What a concept! We must keep the students engaged throughout the lesson; not just at the beginning of lessons (the energy must be maintained). We must "turn up the heat!"

To keep the energy in the room maintained, we must also transition smoothly. Transitions (in Burgess' words) can kill us. Just taking a few extra minutes to make sure all props, gadgets, equipment, etc. is set out and ready to go can make an enormous difference in the flow of our lesson and student engagement. For example, this past Monday, I knew I was going to play a Connect 4 vocabulary game with my students and show a cute video at the beginning of class to "hook them." What if I'd not had the Connect 4 set up? What is my video wasn't ready to show? What if I didn't even have my projector on or my computer hooked up? We've all been there...we know what happens, and it's not pretty. We lose our students and precious time.
Planning like this (and being totally prepared prior to the lesson) takes extra time and effort. However, just like Burgess sees in his classroom, I sincerely believe we'll also observe positive and worthwhile results and "master the art of gaining student engagement AND also master the art of not losing it."

I can't wait to dive into the next few chapters which discuss numerous hooks and ways to get students moving, focused, and engaged.

Thoughts and ideas come from the book Teach Like a Pirate.

NOTE: CONNECT 4 GAME - I had the class play against me simply using the Connect 4 Game. I projected task cards onto the screen and read them one at a time. I went around the room and called on students to answer the cards. If the student got it right, he/she got to put in a Connect 4 chip. If the question wasn't answered correctly, I got to put a chip in (oh boy). Of course the first to CONNECT 4 chips of the same color WINS. I can tell you that all eyes were on me, all students were ready to play, and all students were 100% engaged. When it was time to quit playing, I got quite a few NO's!  Connect 4 can be played with any educational concept. Have fun!

I LOVE using, and creating, task cards. If you're looking for task cards to use in the classroom, you can find many in my TpT Store

Blessings and happy teaching,

Monday, October 13, 2014

Today's Quote - Happy Monday

Happy Monday! Here's today's quote..."The true aim of every one who aspires to be a teacher should be, not to impart his own opinions, but to kindle minds."

Let's get our students thinking on this beautiful Monday morning (even though their brains are usually half asleep at the start of the week).  :)

Wishing you a wonderful and productive week!

Happy teaching!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Going Digital and Lovin' It

This past week, I attended an informative meeting regarding Edmodo and its features. Yes, we're that fortunate enough in our district to have "technology gurus" stay after school and impart their knowledge on us. Well, I was so curious that I couldn't wait to get home and check it out. I spent a couple of hours perusing this Edmodo site.

Yes, you know you've all done it...I stayed up past midnight figuring this "baby" out. It's pretty simple, by the way. I just had to figure out the type of quiz I wanted my students to take with their reading vocabulary words. I went with "matching" and ran with it.

I also decided that since our homework this week was pertaining to Paul Revere and his midnight ride that I'd check out youtube for any informational videos on this famous Patriot and eventful night in 1775. I found a great video and uploaded it into Edmodo. When you set up the assignment, you tell the students what they have to do to complete the assignment. I had them tell me one thing they learned about Paul Revere or his ride.

Next, I knew of a great video from one of my favorites (Schoolhouse Rocks). The students then watched "The Shot Heard Round the World" and told me one thing they learned. Great feedback, by the way, from this one!

Yes, it took some time to get all kiddos into their accounts, yes it took walking around and answering MANY questions the FIRST time to get them in the rights spots, answering questions on how to turn in assignments, telling them where to go next, etc. Was it worth it? You watch this video and be the judge of that!

Could you hear a pin drop? Me too! Was it a beautiful site? Yes! Did you see any off- task behavior? Neither did I! Check out some of the comments my students left me (which is another feature of Edmodo).

I have to say...this was one of my favorite teaching days so far this school year. Not just because we're going digital but because I tried something new and was prepared for failure all the way. Even if I failed, I'm teaching my students a wonderful life lesson. It's okay to fail. As a matter of fact, because of failures, we experience grand success. Ahhhhhhhh, sweet success on this beautiful Friday!

If you'd like to check out this user-friendly site, go to  Set up your free account, and enjoy the results.

With that, have a great and relaxing weekend! Thanks for following!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Today's Golden Nugget from Teach Like a Pirate: Enthusiasm

Well, another weekend approaches. What am I looking forward to? Reading another chapter in Dave Burgess' incredible book, Teach Like a Pirate.

Today's Golden Nugget: Enthusiasm

I can tell after reading the chapter "ENTHUSIASM" that Burgess feels like this is a doozy. If you're like me, by the end of the day, I could just fall on the floor from exhaustion and all that has occurred throughout the school day. However, we have students to teach and engage! I teach 5 classes of fifth graders. There are times when that fifth class walks in that I think to myself, "I don't want to say all of this AGAIN!" "How can I keep the energy that I had this morning all the way into the late afternoon?" I quote Burgess when he writes, "As a teacher, your days comprise enough positive and negative experiences to either make you feel energized and amazing or beat down and depressed. What you choose to attend to creates your reality."  Wow that last sentence is profound! ALL of our students deserve our best (no matter when they see us during the day).

This past week was my first time to hand out vocabulary to my students. Yes, boring vocabulary (but SO necessary to learn). They were to study the 15 Plot/Story Elements Vocabulary words and will be tested on the terms this coming week. Well, vocabulary (to many students) can be quite mundane. I decided to "hook them into studying" by telling them that, "We'll be playing a game with our words tomorrow. You'll need to know the words, their meanings, and be able to APPLY them in order to be a great team player." The next day students came, ready to play. Yes, they studied!

I set up two chairs at the front of the room with buzzers on top of the chairs. I heard a few whisper to one another, "Oh, it's time for that game she talked about." I then numbered off the students into 2 teams (TEAM 1 and TEAM 2). After explaining my expectations, the rules of the game, and reminding them of safety in the classroom, the game commenced. You could feel the excitement in the room. Students were quickly coming toward the buzzers and giving me the CORRECT answers to my questions. For example, I would say, "The part of the plot diagram that's the most exciting and suspenseful part of the movie, play, or story." They had to answer, "Climax."  I also had them APPLY the vocabulary such as, "GIVE me the name of a non-fiction book" (not just the definition, but can they APPLY the terms). We had a blast! I heard quite a few, "Awwwwwwwwws" when the game was over.

I agree with Burgess when he begins this chapter with saying that "excellence as a teacher starts with having a passion for what you do in life."  I owe it to my students to "bring it!" I may not be able to make EVERY single lesson exciting, but I will give my best and exert a passion in my job every day.

NOTE:  Quotes and ideas are from the must-read book Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.

 If you want to view the Plot/Story Elements Vocabulary terms that I gave my students, with the tests (2 test included- one is modified) along with answer keys, click here: Plot/Story Elements Vocabulary Words, Tests, and Answer Keys

Until the next "golden nugget,"

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


As we remember ALL the courageous heroes who risked, and lost, their lives thirteen years ago on that tragic September day in 2001, we are reminded of how Americans united as one. We also honor those who lost their lives and the families left behind to endure the endless loss and pain. Tomorrow, one of the clips I’ll be showing my fifth graders was created by a school principal. It’s very age-appropriate and equally informational.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Today's Golden Nugget From Teach Like a Pirate - TRANSFORMATION

Well, it's been a while since my last post from Teach Like a Pirate. That certainly doesn't mean that I haven't been wanting to get my hands on this well-written book. The first two weeks of school and getting into the groove of things has prevented me from pleasure reading and blogging. So, what did I hop up and excitedly grab this Saturday morning? Yep, Teach Like a Pirate from Dave Burgess.

Today's golden nugget: TRANFORMATION

Transformation? Yes, it's all about questioning ourselves, "How can we transform our lessons and classroom to be exciting and remarkable enough to where our students don't dread coming to our classrooms." Don't we want our classrooms to stand out from the "sea of sameness?"  Don't you want your students remembering and talking about your lessons years after they had you? I know I do!

In order to do this, Dave Burgess suggests asking ourselves two questions. Yes, the answers can be pretty painful!
1. If your students didn't have to be there, would you be teaching in an empty room?
2. Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?

Wow! Those are pretty "to the point" questions. Not ALL of our lessons have to be jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, but we should certainly have many lessons that conjure up excitement and enthusiasm from those sitting in front of us.

Students inquire, "Why do I have to know this?"  If we just respond by stating, "Because it's on the test," this DOES NOT cut it! It has to be relevant to the students and something that they will apply currently or in the future to the REAL world. Now you've got their attention!

Dave Burgess also talks in his book about proper POSITIONING. As teachers, we must position our classrooms to be "outrageously engaging." Add that "fun factor" and see the smiles on your students' faces. They might just line up and pay a pretty little penny for your lesson that day!

CASE IN POINT: This past week, I knew we were playing Context Clues football in my classroom. Therefore to HOOK them before the lesson, I brought in a white bag with a small football inside it. When I tiptoed over to the bag with the "secret" object, I had all my students in the palm of my hand.  I then told them that they could ask 10 "yes/no" questions to try and guess what was in the bag. Oh my goodness, you could hear a pin drop! A few classes did guess the object. When I pulled out that mini football, I HAD THEM! Now why is she pulling out a football in the middle of our reading class? HOOK!!!!! We're going to play Context Clues football!! Yes!! I don't think they even realized that I'm "making" them learn useful vocabulary words; they were just having a "ball."

Could I have handed out a Context Clues worksheet? You betcha! Would that have been a lesson that students would line up to see? I don't think so!

Thank you, Dave Burgess, for causing me to pause and ask myself some VERY powerful and lesson-changing questions.

NOTE: All ideas are from the must-read book Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.

HOW TO PLAY CONTEXT CLUES FOOTBALL: To play Context Clues Football, divide your class into two teams. Project or place a "football field" onto your board (tape or use magnetic pins). I then used the App TAP ROULETTE to chose the team that would go first. Now you're ready to play. Starting with the winning team, they answer the first task card. If they get it right, they move to the 10 yard line. If they miss it, the other team gets a chance to answer. If students are talking or playing around, it's a fumble, and they move backwards 10 yards.

I just downloaded a football field from the Internet at this site:
Football Field Template and then used my Context Clues Task Cards for the questions. If you want to view the task cards in my TpT store, click here: Context Clues Task Cards or for older grades, check out these UPPER LEVEL Task Cards.

Until our next golden nugget,
Angie @ Positively Passionate About Teaching

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Today's Golden Nugget From Teach Like a Pirate- Ask and Analyze

Well, teachers, you know how it is the first week of school - sore feet, tired back from standing, dry throat from going over all the expectations and procedures, but excited about the new school year. As my "bone tired" body crawled into bed last night, I instantly grabbed the book by my bed that I've been yearning to dive back into - Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.

Throughout the first week of school, I've been "welcoming my students to the world famous learning extravaganza." They now giggle and love it when I say this to them. Dave Burgess is "spot on" with using this and hooks to capture students' excitement. When I tell my students, "You don't want to miss tomorrow. If you do, you'll just have to hear the incredible stories," they all look at each other with wide eyes and wonder what in the world we'll be doing the next day.  I love it! With all of this stirring up and bringing excitement into my classroom, I couldn't wait to get to the next chapter in this MUST READ book - "Ask and Analyze."

Dave Burgess you ask yourself, "What can I write on the board to spark a conversation or create a buzz even before the bell rings?" We should constantly ask ourselves how we can create excitement or come up with REMARKABLE lessons that will WOW our students. It doesn't come easy, and it certainly (as he says) doesn't just "strike us like a bright light." It takes hard work, time and energy, researching, taking notes, and collaborating with others.

Not only should we be constantly questioning ourselves, but the "QUALITY of our questions is critical." We should ask ourselves, "How can I make this lesson memorable, impacting, powerful, and remarkable for my students?"  I told my students the first day of school, "I want you to WANT to come to school, not to feel like you HAVE to come to school."  Therefore, every day I will ask myself, "Is this lesson going to cause excitement and build that desire in my students?" If not, I'm going back to the "drawing board."

Yes, our lessons may blow up in our faces sometimes, and we may fail. If we don't fail, then we are staying in the "safe zone."  Dave Burgess states, "safe lessons are a recipe for mediocrity at best." Do we want to be mediocre teachers for our next generation? NO! Dive in, question yourself with quality questions, and analyze your lessons. The added time you take to do this will change the entire atmosphere of the classroom, your attitude toward your job and students and, most importantly, the way your students feel about YOU, your subject, and learning.

NOTE: All ideas come from the phenomenal book Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess

Until the next "golden nugget,"

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Today's Golden Nugget from Teach Like a Pirate - Build Rapport With Your Students

Well, after battling the crowds at my favorite place to shop...WAL MART (not), I wanted nothing more than to come home, kick my feet up, and dive into a book (yes, I'm an avid reader). Our district was lucky enough to have Dave Burgess speak at this year's convocation, so I was dying to continue his powerful book, Teach Like a Pirate.

Today's "golden nugget" - create a solid and positive rapport with your students. Wow! I couldn't agree more. This is an absolute must, in my opinion. Every year I let my students know that they are mine (that I adopt them for the next nine months). I'm their "mama away from home" and, yes, I WILL cry when they have to leave at the end of the year.

I love how Dave instantly creates a positive rapport with his students by "hooking" them before they even walk into his classroom with a sign titled "Welcome to the World Famous Learning Extravaganza."  Wouldn't you want to enter this room? Yes, I'm curious too! He suggests getting to know your students' "likes" and "dislikes" outside of school, find out what intrigues them, and by all means, learn their names quickly. Begin this on DAY 1 of school.

Yes, this takes extra time from you. For example, on days that I eat lunch with my students, it DOES keep me from eating in the teacher's lounge on those particular days. This is the only time, however, that I can REALLY learn more about them personally. I have had parents text/e-mail me BIG thank you's (their child couldn't wait to have lunch with Mrs. Boo). When I take my evening time to make a "phone-a-great" call, it takes my personal time. However, does this tell my students that they matter? YES! Does this tell the parent that we are on the same page? YES!

As Dave says, we are in the PR business as teachers. We have to sell our classroom. Build excitement about the year to come. Get them curious about what's happening next. We don't want students wondering why they are wasting time with us.

My first day of school is this coming Monday, August 25. I'll certainly be welcoming my students to the "World Famous Learning Extravaganza" and begin building a positive rapport with my students. They will KNOW that they are special, important, and loved.

As you begin (or may have already begun the new school year), remember that it may be your smile or your little comment, "Hey, I love the color of your shirt" that they remember and appreciate. It can change their day and your rapport with them BIG TIME! What ever it takes, build a solid and encouraging rapport with your students. Our job matters; we are changing lives.

**All ideas are from Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess (a must-read).

Go Get This Book!

Until the next "golden nugget,"