Tuesday, June 30, 2015


I'm linking up with Farley once again for her latest edition of Currently.

Listening- One of the things I'm most grateful for... all 10 seasons of FRIENDS on Netflix. I love this show and it's the perfect thing to put on in the background since I've seen every episode multiple, multiple times. 

Loving- This week is about my only week this summer with no real plans. I don't have anywhere I have to be. My July and August are pretty packed with classes, PD, and family trips, so I'm enjoying being lazy.

Thinking- I don't mind doing laundry but I hate having to put it all away when I'm done... it's currently spread out all over my kitchen table.

Wanting- I desperately need a manicure... I think that'll be on my agenda tomorrow.

Needing- My area has been dealing with several 100+ degree days in a room. Today was 109. Not fun. I stayed inside and thanked God for my A/C. I'm hoping the extreme temps go away soon.

All Star- I'm pretty good at making jokes and finding witty things to say with my friends and family... 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

New Classroom

The 2014-2015 school year was a pretty busy one for me, and I needed a bit of time to decompress after school got out. This was my 10th year of teaching, and my fifth year teaching 5th grade. I had a great group of learners and we were able to try a lot of really fun things.

And if you had followed my post at the beginning of the year, I had just completely revamped my class decor... Class Theme... and I thought it would be that way for several years.

I wasn't planning on moving classrooms, especially since I will be in 5th grade again this upcoming school year... and yet, I couldn't resist moving!

My old classroom was on the bottom floor of our two-story 4th/5th grade building. I had a view of the parking lot and we couldn't open our blinds due to the glare off the cars... it wasn't ideal but it was mine, and I was content to stay there for the foreseeable future.

However one of my 5th grade colleagues decided to change grade levels and head to 3rd grade... opening up her room. Did I mention her classroom is upstairs with a view of the lake behind our school?  A definite upgrade in my opinion! So with the okay from my principal, I'm moving up! I've moved all my stuff-- boxes, books, furniture... now I have to think about my theme for my new room.

So that's how my summer has started... A new classroom and a new theme is in the works. I can't wait!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

12 Days of Christmas

I know Christmas is many months away, but I've just uploaded a FREE math problem using the song the 12 Days of Christmas. Perfect for the holidays, and a great way to get your students' thinking critically!

Head to my TPT shop and download it for free. Here's a quick preview!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Zentangle Trees

I wanted to share one of my favorite art projects which combines the use of color (warm vs. cool) and the very popular art form of Zentangles.

Prior to this art project, we had spent a couple of days practicing different Zentangle ideas, and we talked about the importance to creating a graphic pattern. My students really took to it, and came up with some really great ideas.

Once there were ready I gave everyone a blank white paper that had a faint grid on it, with a large circle. Using this, we drew an outline of a tree, and as you can see, the trees' branches overlap, but stop when they reach the edge of the circle.

Each section of the tree features a different Zentangle pattern, and we used both Sharpies and Bic flair pens, to give different sizes to their patterns.

For the colors the students have a choice... either they color within the circle all warm colors: red, orange, yellow, or they choose cool colors: green, blue, purple. For the outside of the circle, they do the opposite set of colors. Students use colored pencils, and color each box dark... to follow cover up each grid.

They turn out so well when they are done, and really look great when mounted on black paper.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Lucid Press

It's been a little bit since I lasted posted anything so I wanted to share a tech tool with all of you... Lucid Press.

Lucid Press is a free online site that allows your students to customize how they create reports, essays, stories... there are limitless possibilities. At my school, all the students have email accounts through Google, so I had each of my 5th graders sign up for their own account. In a free account, you get a specific amount of storage space... but my students have not reached that limit yet.

In 5th grade, one of our writing styles is Informational reports. We use the Lucy Calkins writing program, and within that program I modified it slightly to create 2 different types of reports: (1) a Feature Article about a topic they were interested in; and (2) a Historical report that was chosen from a list of U.S. History events.

I was so impressed with the essays my students were able to write at the end of these units, and they absolutely loved using Lucid Press. It allows for so much customization, and we chose more of a newspaper/magazine article style.

A few tips for Lucid Press:

  1. You can have your students sign up individually, or through your account if you sign up as an Educator. It's a little hard to find the Educator page, so you can find it HERE
  2. The people who work at Lucid Press are very helpful and will often fix problems within your account very quickly if you email them.
  3. Your students can share their papers with each (and you!) so that you can work on group projects together. It's extremely collaborative.
  4. Customizing the page is very easy, as everything is drag and drop. You can move text boxes, pictures, charts, etc. with ease.
  5. Lucid Press also has a section called Lucid Chart, which allows you to create charts and diagrams. I haven't spent enough time with that app to really know how well it works, but if it works as well as Lucid Press, it has to be easy to navigate.

Here's a couple of my students' finished products, which really shows all the different things you can do with Lucid Press. 

One of the teachers in my school district started the twitter hashtag #TeachersGiveTeachers and you should also follow it on Twitter @TsGiveTs ... in the spirit of this idea, I'm sharing with you the Google Doc I created for creating a U.S. history report, and the topics my students had to choose from that covered our section of U.S. history... from the Causes of the Revolutionary War to Westward Expansion.

I hope you feel like you want to try using Lucid Press, as I do think there is a lot of value in what your students are able to create. If you do try it out, I'd love to hear about what you use it for!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Currently- February

Listening: If you haven't caught the Sons of Liberty mini-series on the History Channel, then I highly recommend it. It centers on the beginning of the American Revolution, centered in Boston and the resistance led by Sam Adams, John Hancock, and many more. While it's not 100% historically accurate (and what TV show is), it's highly entertaining and really shows you all that it took to create our nation. 

Loving: I'm a huge fan of February, mainly because I get to start the month off with my birthday! Today I've got a day with my family ahead full of birthday margaritas, a movie, and then a Super Bowl party. This year I don't care who wins, I'll be enjoying the commercials and half time show. 

Thinking: For the last several years my friends and I have had a yearly tradition to head a few hours up into the mountains for a weekend. We have a cabin we've rented that sleeps all 11 of us, and we have a blast. It's just nice to get away. One of the benefits of living in California, you're only a few hours away from mountains or beaches, forests or lakes. The cabin we're staying at is an easy walk to the nearby lake, and there happens to be a delicious diner that specializes in cinnamon buns right around the corner.

Wanting:  to see a little snow this weekend, but it's not likely. It is supposed to rain, but not be cold enough for snow. We're in the middle of a pretty warm winter... wishing it would rain and snow in the mountains more and end this drought!

Needing: To study up on the new module I'm starting on Monday. We're about to tackle multiplying and dividing fractions, and while I like our new math program, it takes some studying from me to make sure I understand what I'm teaching each day, and what the ultimate goal for the kids is at the end of each lesson.

Pageant Title:  What can I say? I often have a witty (or sarcastic) remark ready... It's both a gift and a curse...

Thanks again to Farley for linking us all up for this month's Currently. Look forward to it every month!

Thursday, January 29, 2015


It's on days like today, when I have a "to-do" list that keeps growing, papers to grade, laundry to do, closets to organize, that I wish I could be back on vacation. We all have days like this... they're overwhelming and you wish you had more time on your hands.

I was fortunate enough to get to experience Scotland over my Thanksgiving break. In my district we get a week off at Thanksgiving, and I've found its often a really good time to travel. My family has never been big on celebrating Thanksgiving. As a kid, my brother played hockey and we were always in a different city watching my brother play in a Thanksgiving tournament. Our Thanksgiving meals were often spent in hotels or with hockey teams. So we didn't really have a family tradition of spending Thanksgiving anywhere but a hockey rink.

Now I hadn't been to Europe since 2002, so I was excited to finally be heading back. Add in to that my love of the Outlander book series, and it became obvious that Scotland was my go-to destination. I traveled with one of my best friends and we had a blast. We were only gone 6 days, but I saw so much of the countryside.

Day 1- Glasgow
After flying on the red-eye we landed in Glasgow around 6:30pm. My first adventure... driving our rental car, on the right hand side of the car, on the left hand side of the road. It was nerve-racking at first, but I quickly got used to it.Finally making it to our hotel, we headed out to explore downtown Glasgow. There's pubs everywhere. The streets and buildings are very industrial. We walked a few blocks over and saw where they were beginning to set up their Christmas festival. Lights everywhere. And then we saw this beautiful monument for Veterans. I had to snap a pic.

Day 2- Fort William
The drive from Glasgow to Fort William was beautiful, but was mainly 2 lane roads. That was scarier to drive on, as you're not used to navigating the left lane. But wow did we see some amazing sights. Beautiful lochs along the side of the highway, castles, and old stone houses. We stayed the night in Fort William, which was a very small town, right near Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Scotland.

Loch Lomond was a beautiful spot along the road that we found. Gorgeous clear water. Chilly outside, but amazingly clear and cool.

Day 3- Loch Ness
On the way to the Highlands we stopped at Castle Urquhart on Loch Ness. I was beyond excited to make it to Loch Ness, and while I did search for Nessie, she remained elusive. The castle still had ruins that we were able to walk and climb around. It was interesting to see all the different rooms, how small the doorways were...

Loch Ness was amazing. You've never seen water so dark and black, it almost looks like ink. Loch Ness is so deep and long that all the rest of Scotland's lochs could be dumped into it and it wouldn't fill it up.

Night 3/ Day 4- The Highlands (Inverness & Culloden Moor)

Inverness is the oldest city in the Highlands. It's on the River Ness and is a city of rich history. The Highlands are where most of the battles between the English and the Scottish took place, particularly the last bloody battle at Culloden Moor. This happened in 1745, and following that battle loss the Scottish were not allowed to wear their tartans, and Scottish clan pride was outlawed.

This cairn was created in memoriam for the hundreds of lives lost by both the Scottish and the British during the battle. There is a large historical society on the moor, and it truly is staggering to see.

Night 4-Day 6 Edinburgh
We spent our last 2 days in Edinburgh, which is a gorgeous city. Split up into two parts: Old Town and New Town, with New Town being built in the 1800s, it truly is a historic city. Up on the hill is Edinburgh Castle, which is still used as a British military base, but mainly features tourist attractions. Our hotel was in Old Town, with a view of the castle up on the hill. The view from the castle is spectacular, as you can see the city for miles in every direction. 
Edinburgh Castle is also the inspiration for Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. We went to the Elephant Cafe which is where JK spent many mornings looking up at Edinburgh Castle as she wrote. 

 We also ate at The White Hart Inn which is the oldest pub in Scotland, established in 1516. Robert Burns stayed there. It's really small and quaint inside, and had delicious pub food. It was such a fun place to visit. I also discovered a fondness for hard cider, as it was on tap in every pub and restaurant we went to. 

It was a truly awesome trip. If anyone is thinking about going to Scotland, I highly recommend it. The people are nice and friendly. They would often ask what part of the United States we were from. When we would respond with "California"... they almost always asked, "Oh, what part?" I was amazed at how well the knew the San Francisco area, as it felt so different. The accents were charming, though a little hard to decipher when were farther in the countryside, but we had such an amazing time.