Wednesday, April 16, 2014

GoNoodle: Saving Teachers' Sanity One Brain Break at a Time

Do you have High Stakes Testing in your state?

Yeah... it makes me shutter too... #teacherproblems

My kiddos just finished our SAT-10 testing a few weeks ago and now its the big kids' turn to take FCAT.  FCAT testing means quiet campus, and quiet campus means- at least for this teacher and her students- absolute torture! Do you know how hard it is to keep 19 eight year olds (and one almost 30 year old teacher) quiet... ALL morning?! Challenging to say the least. ;)

So how have I've been surviving these past few grueling days...?

I *may* be bribing my kiddos with sweet treats and brain breaks from! LOL!

I am not a huge fan of using sweets to get kids to do what you want... but these are desperate times and that calls for desperate measures. As I catch kiddos making an awesome choice (like trying to be REALLY quiet or reminding their buddies to be quiet)  I give them one little treat. That of course starts a domino effect, and BOOM, I've got my entire class working to be quiet. 

I've also been using the brain-break website,

As soon as my 4th/5th grade neighbor gives us the green light (We share a chalkboard wall),  I power up the website and we dance/run/breathe our wiggles out from the morning!

Here we are doing the "Wipe Out!" Zumba activity. This is quickly becoming one of my classes faves! What kid doesn't like to pretend they're riding a surf board? LOL!

I'm sure you've heard of GoNoodle and it seriously lives up to all the hype! Oh, and did I mention it's FREE!? Yeah....  SCORE!

 I've been having my kiddos earn brain breaks through out the morning by working as a class to keep quiet. As we go through our activities, if I catch them making good choices, I put a letter on the board. If we spell GoNoodle by lunch time, then the kiddos earn a "student choice" activity from the website. They LOVE it! 

I've also been using this website to break up our subsequently SUPER long afternoon. I just keep the website minimized on my lap top and as we move from one subject to the next, I'll throw a little activity up. I really like the "running" activities for those transition because I tell the kiddos we need to work on our transition speed!   

Want to try GoNoodle for yourself and help your kiddos get their wiggles out or relax before the BIG test? Oh and save your sanity in the process?!  It is super easy to sign up! 

Here's What to Do:

1. Head to 
2. Sign-up and create your class. 

3. Then choose your little "Class Chomp"! 

We chose McPufferson. 

Now you're ready to get movin' and shakin!  
4. Just click "PLAY"
and choose an activity to complete! 

That is NOT all of them either... 

5. Now watch as your kiddos get their wiggles out and you regain your sanity and peace because you'll actually be able to teach after this! 

No searching YouTube, or worrying that the video you chose is super grainy, or worst not age appropriate! You're also guaranteed to not curse under your breathe when that AWESOME video you pinned last night isn't accessable because Pinterest is blocked at school... #canyourelate #teacherproblems #grumble

Be sure to check out GoNoodle and wish me luck as we jelly bean and GoNoodle our way through the rest of the week!  

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bright Ideas Hop Take Three! Organizing Your Small Group Supplies!

Can you believe it is April already?! Well the girls (and guys!) are at it again! I am super excited to share this time saving and sometimes life saving (more on that in a minute) idea with you!

Ok... if you're like me, you like a little organization in your life. You know the kind where everything has it's place in your classroom and you never loose anything because you are THAT organized... (ok.. I *may* still be aspiring to that one...) But anywho... here's a little time saving idea that has saved me more than once!

You know those boring but very practical 3-drawer plastic storage units you can find at Target? Well, turn it into your small group supply station! To do, just label each drawer...

I've found that clear packing tape works well on keeping the labels stuck to the inside of the drawer. Then, fill up each drawer with your supplies for the day's lessons. 

We've got magnifying glasses for going on word hunts and evidence detection, a stack of decoable books, fluency drills, and LOTS and LOTS of sticky notes for our close reading a meaty texts.  What I love is that even if I'm doing different lessons with each group, I have a nice neat place to house all our supplies. No more running around the classroom trying to remember where you put something after you "cleaned-up" your table for that parent conference! YAY! 

On the top, I house all my small group must haves: timers, pencils, pens, markers, and my bell.

This helps keep my table clear for learning but supplies on hand. In my bottom drawer, I also keep a packed crayon box so I can whip that out if we ever need to mark or code text. If you don't need to use the top, you can easily slide this baby right underneath your table top for a super clean look. #aspiration #maybeoneday

I am sure you are wondering why I consider this a "life saving" idea... 
I *may* have been completely thankful for these three little white drawers one especially difficult MONDAY morning when my administrator walked in and plopped down to observe my small group. (They always know the best days to come! ;)). I was already feeling frazzled from practically saving the world from total destruction that am, so I hadn't quite switched to small group teaching in my mind yet. I was thankful to pull open my top drawer and see the supplies for a fairly simple lesson planned for my intervention group that day (we were going to hunt for our phonics pattern in our literature study books and "phoneme graph" them) I was easily able to ramp up that lesson even more by whipping out the sticky notes (note the mounds of them) and having students write questions they had about the text as they read. After graphing our words, we discussed the questions and strategies on how to find the answers. TEACHER SCORE! #lifesaver 

Now go forth and organize! Or at least pin a bunch of awesome organizing tips from these other fabulous bloggers. Having a Pinboard with amazingly organized spaces counts as being organized in my book. ;) 

Like this post? Be sure to catch up with me on

More Bright Ideas to check out... 
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

TBT: Space

I'd thought it'd be fun to do a "Throw Back" beautiful Thursday afternoon! This week we're working through my Space Unit using, "The Moon" as our close read. Here's a peek at what we did this time last year!

Original Post date: 4/13/13

Whew! I've officially finished another week as a working mommy and guys- let me tell you... I am all kinds of tired! There is never a dull moment between my babies at school and
my baby at home!

This week we wrapped up our Space unit.
*Technically* Space is not in our curriculum (BOO!) but I was able to work it in by using our weekly story, "The Moon", as a launching point. (Hehe- see what I did there ;))

Here are some highlights from our research packed past two weeks...

After reading about the moon in our weekly story, we explored the surface of the moon using
Google Moon

If you are not familiar with this program, it is an extension of Google Earth. ( Never used Google Earth? Download it now! It is FREE and it is A-MAZE-ING! It's an constantly updated interactive map! There is also a Google Mars!)

We zoomed over the moon's surface, and found where the first moon landing took place. After viewing a few photos of the landing, we watched an actual video of the first moon steps!

 We also learned more about stars using "The Magic School Bus Sees Stars"

Magic School Bus Sees Stars: A Book About Stars

Then, we used our new found knowledge to compare and contrast the moon to our closest star,
 the sun.

We also learned about the planets and created a "step book" to display what we learned about each planet.

After learning general info about each planet, students chose one planet to research and completed a "Planet Report". 

Now, I  had to balance out this nonfiction heavy unit with some "fun" reads, so we also enjoyed 

 "Green Wilma- Frog in Space" by Tedd Arnold

and "Arthur's First Sleepover"


We used the alien encounter from this book as a launching point for some expository writings on introducing an alien.

First, students pretended they met a creature from outer space and answered some interview questions about their alien.

Then, they used the answers to create an expository writing, explaining about their alien. After some quick editing, students published their writings,

"It Came From Outer Space"

 We also read, "Handshake in Space" about the Apollo- Soyuz Test Project.

 We imagined what it would be like to be an astronaut and created these ADORABLE astronauts, complete with 3-d helmets and glitter suits!

I HAD to make a "Space" themed bulletin board using these gems!

Needless to say, it was a busy last two weeks! 

I am currently in the process of compiling all these fun activities into a one stop unit, "Space-The Final Frontier" 

All these activities and SO.MUCH.MORE are available in my Space: The Final Frontier Unit! Grab it now! :)


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