Saturday, March 29, 2014

This Year

This Year.  This is our year abroad. Our chance to grow, to become better people, to learn more, and to see the world.  My hubby and I are hanging in London for the weekend- a first for the both of us!!  With 4 more international trips planned (thanks to the cheap-ness of RyanAir) before we put our time in Europe behind us, we are trying to enjoy every single minute.  I hope you make the most of this adventure, your year, whatever it may be, and love every minute of it!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sunshine folder

How many of you have a Sunshine Folder?  A folder where you keep happy little notes, memories, and special items from teaching.  My sunshine folder holds AHA! moments had by kids, letters from students after a hard day, and anything that just made me smile and I knew I had to keep.  Whenever I'm having a tough day I look back through this folder {stored in my filing cabinet} and remind myself why I'm here and why I'm doing this.

Today I received a new letter to add to my Sunshine Folder {currently held in the States, but to be added when I return}.  My Spanish students are writing to my students in Colorado from last year.  One of my Spanish students asked about me as a teacher... and this is what my sweet student replied...

Dear Alicia,
  I'm great, how about you? I'm really excited to write you. I'm 12 years old. I love to ice skate too except I fall a lot. I also like to bowl. Yes, I love playing computer games as well. What kind of computer games do you play? What is your favorite? My favorite food is spaghetti!! Mmm so good.
  A day at school in Colorado is fun for me because I have amazing teachers but not as amazing as Kelly. We go to all kinds of classes and switch rooms every hour. What is it like for school where you live?? Kelly was so amazing I had her in 4th and 5th grade and I just absolutely loved her. She let us have so much fun like every single day. Not many teachers are like that. How is she for you? 
   From, Audrey
P.S My favorite color is neon pink i also like blue too. 

Melt my teacher heart.  Audrey just made my day :)  This is definitely what being a teacher is all about.  Am I right?  

Does anyone else have a Sunshine folder?  What do you have in yours?

Monday, March 24, 2014


Today is one of my favorite parts about hosting a giveaway- announcing the winners!!  First, thank you to everyone who participated.  If you didn't win, don't worry!  I'm hosting a sale in my TpT store so be sure to stop by and pick up anything you may have had your eye on :)

And drummmm rolllllll puhleaseeeeee,

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Keeping Students Busy Busy Busy During Spring Fever

Wooh Spring fever has hit hard.  It's hit me, the students, and parents.  Wait, what's homework?  Where do pencils go?  What are we learning next??  Oh. My. Lordy.  To keep students engaged I've had to jazz up a few lessons.  Last week I had to switch gears when I realized attention spans we're flying out the window- one after another.  I vaguely remembered reading about a game somewhere and decided to give it a go.  It is a fun vocab game for ESL students but would also be perfect for working with vocabulary in a traditional classroom, and for a quick and easy brain break!   You can super easily differentiate it!

First separate your class into 2-4 groups.  Have each group stand in a line in front of your whiteboard {or chalkboard!}.  Write a word on the board in front of each line.  Then, the first student in the line of each group must use the last letter of the word to write a new word below it.  So if the first word is Beautiful, the next word must start with "L".  Then the marker is passed back to the next student and they write a word.  If I were to incorporate this game into a traditional classroom, I would have students use only nouns, or only verbs, or words that are 7 letters or longer, or only words that begin with a prefix.  I keep a word wall nearby to support my ESL kiddos, but many don't even look that way.  Allow students to continue the relay for 2 minutes.  {That's more than enough time!}

Review the words, correct spelling, and cross out any repeats {I cross out any words that both groups used- this negates the copy cats}.  And then count up the words each group wrote.  The group with the most words "wins".  It usually takes one or two rounds to get into a groove but all of my students who have played this game really love it!  I hope you can use it in your classroom.  It makes for a simple and fun brain break!

Below I have included some possible vocabulary categorizations.  What other categories can you think up?!

Possible Vocabulary Categorizations:
-  Nouns
-  Verbs
-  Words that begin with prefixes
- Words about science
-  Words about math
-  Words about friendship
-  Adjectives
-  Words about holidays
-  Words about your house
-  Words about the weather
-  Words about movies
-  Words about school
-  Words about clothing
-  Words about food

And don't forget to enter my giveaway that's going on right now!!  The winner receives $25 to TpT!!  It's free to enter- check it out :)

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Friday, March 21, 2014

5 for Friday {Giveaway, Cronuts, Adventures Galore}

HAPPY FRIDAY!!  I just love Fridays!  Everyone's in a good mood, the weekend is *just* around the corner, and you're always allowed to wear jeans :)  Even though I am slightly obsessed with dresses and leggings, nothing beats a good ol pair of jeans.  Am I right?  I'm liking up with the adorbs Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday! 

GIVEAWAY!  Sooo, my birthday was last week and I was hoping to have a celebration with a giveaway and all sorts of fun stuff- but my computer decided otherwise!  So starting RIGHT NOW I'm hosting a giveaway.  Enter below to win a $25 gift car to TpT and MANY amazing products.  Details are at the bottom of the page :)

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CRONUT!  Oh my goodness.  Maybe I'm out of the loop but I had never had one of these bad boys until this week.  My sister-in-law was in town and noticed it as we passed a bakery.  De-lish-ious!  Seriously!  In case you're like me and unaware of the cronut fad... a cronut is a deep fried croissant in the shape of a donut!!  You're welcome. 

Going with the glutenous theme- HELADO {aka Ice Cream/Gelato}!!  While the sister-in-law was visiting we had to get some yumminess :)  I loved every second of it!

My hubby is a huge history nerd.  He studied history in college, can frequently be found reading nonfiction history books, and loves to take me to historical places.  Some I love... others, not so much.  Luckily this week he took me to one that I really loved!  We visited the local castle, Bellver Castle.  You know..... just built in the 14th Century.  No biggie.  It was super cool.  And a very unique date :) 

My hubby and I left our beautiful kitty cat back in the states to stay with my husband's family so I have a weakness for kitty cats when we see them out and about.  This one meowed so loudly when I walked past him that I couldn't help but give him some love.   

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to join to link up for Five for Friday and don't forget to enter the giveaway!!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March Madness!

I love college sports so I cannot help but fall in love with this time of year!! In Spain March Madness doesn't exist, which breaks my math teacher heart. Why, you may ask? Because March Madness is the BEST time to teach/review/explore fractions, decimals, and percents!! Last year I used Miss Nannini's March Madness packet and absolutely fell in love. It's so simple to use. I started off by having my students fill in their own brackets. I took the time to explain step-by-step how they should be filled in. Even students without any basketball knowledge can do this.

Next, we took blank brackets to school administrators and convinced them to fill one in for us! Even the gym teacher and our principal got involved! We posted their brackets on the bulletin board in the hallway so the whole school could follow.

Using the brackets, we had fun completing Miss Nannini's unit- but we even took it a step further.  As the tournament went on we kept track of our predictions. For each game guessed correctly in the first round, students got 2 points (you can go higher to make the numbers more challenging- as long as you stick to the same numbers for everyone), 4 points for the second round, 8 points for the third round, etc... Every few days we would update our brackets and see who was in the "lead". This made the unit feel more purposeful because they wanted to see the likelihood of winning as the class "best guesser".

If you're interested in some more ways to celebrate March Madness, one of my favorites is what I call Math Madness! It's a super easy review/practice game but students LOVE to play it. All you need is a microphone (aka anything that you can hold and pretend to speak into), a review sheet, and Jock Jams Instrumental. That's right- think Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan rockin' out.

And of course, you need your best game show persona. I become Math Mama and use my best game show voice. (Welcome to Math Madness!! Mrs. Jamie, come on down!!!) I introduce the game and explain the rules:
1) Everyone must participate
2) There is the be no speaking
3) Don't work ahead- if  you're using a review sheet
4) You may stand up and dance silently when, and only when, you have completed your work. - This strategy works best if you allow a little extra "dance time" after each problem. Otherwise mathaticians rush right through their work.

Then, write a problem on the board. If using a review sheet, just write a problem from the page. Powerpoints work well too- if you're one of those uber prepared type of people (not me usually!). I love to have the music quietly playing as students walk into the classroom or at the start of math. One person hears it and it builds the excitement and they get so excited over math! Ha.

I keep the music quiet throughout the game so it doesn't become distracting, but it definitely makes it all more fun. One student comes up to the board to solve a problem. While they do the work, other students check their work by solving the problem themselves. While they all work, I walk around and check their work. This also gives me time to work briefly one-on-one with students and provides great anecdotals! When a student finishes their problem, they may stand behind their chair and dance silently!  When everyone is ready to discuss, we stop dancing and we check the students work and discuss the answer. When they finish, I say, "Mrs. Jamie, you are now the proud owner of a fresh-off-the-press, handwritten, check!!" And we all clap and they join their classmates and the game goes on. I keep track of who I call up to the front so everyone gets a turn (even if it's not all that day). This is great to play right before a big test because you get time to review and discuss problems but it also gives their brain a little break from the book work!

Looking for some March Madness literacy fun?! I cannot wait to use this idea from The Brown Bag Teacher next year!! So adorable :)

Do you celebrate March Madness in your classroom at all? What do you do?

And don't forget to stop by this weekend to participate in our giveaway!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Back in Action

My computer is back in action and I am happy happy happy!  I must have needed a weekend away from it- because for whatever reason, it decided to stop working Friday afternoon and promptly begin again Monday morning.  I got the message.  And I rested and played. 

I needed to refocus on myself, my family, my friends, and this wonderful adventure I'm experiencing here in Spain.  Here's just a little glimpse into my much needed weekend.

I hope you're feeling rested, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle your week!  Be sure to stop by later this week for a GIVEAWAY!!  :)

Friday, March 14, 2014


Don't we all always have such grand plans?  And then technology, the Lord, and life around you have other plans?  I was so excited to host a giveaway this weekend- but, my computer has decided to not cooperate, life has caught up to me, and it just doesn't seem to be in the cards for me this week.  NEXT week- I will be hosting a giveaway to celebrate all sorts of fun!  Would you like to participate by sharing a product you've made?  Leave your e-mail below!

Thank you for understanding- I hope your week has been great!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March Mania

Did you know that Spain doesn't do their time change the same time as the States?  So we are still on "normal" time... which is nice for a few reasons- but mainly it makes me only FIVE hours (time difference) away from my momma, meaning I can call her earlier, and worry less about waking her up :)  We will be jumping forward at the end of March though... so I'll have plenty of time to whine about my lost hour then. 

Otherwise, this is my BIRTHDAY week!  My birthday is on Thursday and so to celebrate, I am having a sale in my TpT store AND a giveaway!  All products in my store will be 20% off on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and this weekend I will be hosting a giveaway (I'm one of those people who have a birthday "week" instead of just one day.  Ridiculous, I know.  But if you would like to participate and offer up a product of your own for the giveaway- please leave your e-mail in the comment section below)!!  Make sure you stop by Wednesday to join in on the fun!  I'm a huge birthday nerd and loooove to celebrate my birthday, friend's birthdays, random birthdays, ALL birthdays!  They're just the best :) 

This past month I've finished two products that I'm pretty excited about.  Both are mini math units with a fun activity to do in your classroom.  The first one is a fraction product relating to art.  Students get to cut out and piece together fractions to create a lovely piece of art.  Afterwards, they add their fraction pieces together to find out how many whole pieces they have in their artwork!  Directions, worksheets, and fraction pieces are included (and differentiated!!).

The next product I've been working on is a planting/math activity I did a few years ago with my fourth graders!  I DO NOT have a green thumb- but it went pretty smoothly, so non-green-thumb people will be okay :)  It can super easily incorporate Earth Day and Mother's Day activities!  You plant flowers and track their growth over a 6 week period. A student booklet, directions, tips, graphs, and anything you could possibly need is included.  Perfect to begin a few weeks before Earth Day (Earth Day is April 22nd) and end in time to send the flowers home to Mom for Mother's Day (May 11th)!  Students will measure their plants every week, collect data, and then find and analyze the mean, median, mode, and range.  They will create multiple graphs and discuss their plants as well as the data.  This is a perfect activity for really exploring data!
Thanks for stopping by!  And please let me know if you would like to participate in my birthday giveaway by leaving your e-mail below :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Catching Up

January, February, MARCH!  That's what my grandmother used to always say to me and my brother when it was time to "march" to bed.  And I can't help but think about it every time we usher in this month!   March is one of my favorite months... for so many reasons.  It's my birthday month, it's the month that brings warmer weather, spring break, all things green... it really doesn't get much better.  I'm fresh back from a long weekend away- so before I go unpack, I needed to check in and see how it's going :)

SO much is going on around the bloggy world today.  Have you stopped by I'm Lovin' Lit's blog to join in on her giveaway?  She has some amazing products available for FREE all week! 

It's testing season... what have you done to inspire, motivate, and prepare your learners?  Mrs. Cahill shares all that she does on her adorbs blog!  I may be biased because I worked with her all last year- but she really is the best.  

And how could you miss the Bright Ideas Blog Hop hoppin' around?!  Be sure to check out some of the brilliant ideas.  You can start HERE

My hubby and I only have four more months left in Spain and are planning on taking advantage of them as much as possible!  We went on a trip to Brussels this past week and have up to five more trips planned before we leave in June AND my hubby's sister is coming to visit us this week!  Ahhh- so much excitement!  I look forward to sharing our adventures and my remaining time teaching here in Spain :)  Here's a few pictures from our trip to Brussels, Antwerp, and Bruges

Belgium is known for their mussels and fries!  MMMMM

I hope you enjoy your Sunday!!Be sure to stop by later this week for a giveaway to celebrate my birthday!!