Tracking Reading Progress

I am so proud of my 6th graders. They are leading the school in meeting their reading goals. Recently I started tracking their progress based on the number of AR points they have earned. I have been amazed at the increase in performance just based on the public trackers. Students have even been asking when I will put up the new trackers.

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For my public AR Class Tracker I created ships and buoys. Each buoy has a point amount and the ships travel to a new buoy when the class AR point average goes up. This was so simple, but it has been very rewarding in class culture around reading.

What I LOVE about Valentines Day

This morning I woke up and I was thinking to myself about all the Valentines Day events I have had in my life. I was very excited because I just bought a new shirt that incorporates love, math and ELA!!

Last night we went to our churches Valentine’s Banquet. It was so wonderful to spend time with Jeff and other friends we have made during our time here. It also made me remember all the times in my life that my parents and grandparents made Valentines a special time.


Many people dislike Valentines Day as a commercial holiday or singles awareness day. For me, however, it has always been a day of love. A day when I feel very loved by all those who love me. In elementary school my granny would always send me a special stuffed animal to school. In middle-school, even at my most awkward stages, I could count on my mom to get me flowers. I even remember thinking every year that Daddy forgot Valentines only to find a box of chocolates waiting for me in my room. Yes, I realize that all of these circulate around gifts, but they were very special to me. So before you buy into the negativity surrounding the holiday, remember there is probably someone like me who just needs to feel loved on this the most love filled holiday!!

Today I was happy to share Valentines on Friday the 13th with my 6th and 7th graders. We made conversation heart poetry, wrote advice columns and created recipes for love potions all centered around what we learned in class. A few of my students and my husband even surprised me with some gifts. It has been a wonderful day!! Happy Valentines Everyone!!

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Modeling Poems After Gwendolyn Brooks

Today we looked at the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks and as a class we modeled poetry after her poem “We Real Cool.” Some of my students published their poem on their blog as well. You can find their blogs by clicking student blogs at the top of the page.


6A’s Poem

We real smart.We

don’t fart. We

pass gas. When

we out of class.

We make A’s. We

go all the way!

~ ~ ~

6B’s Poem

We rule school. We

too cool. We

sit at school. We

obey the rules.

Sometimes it’s hard, but we

go Far!


Independent reading has been something that I have struggled with as an educator. However, this year I am having a break through with my students.

Today was a beautiful day for independent reading. I started my intervention class by announcing the current AR standings (and my classes are leaps and bounds above the others in school #proudreadingteacher). That is when my students erupted and were like “Can I take a test?” “Can I check out a book?” It was a frenzy of excitement. Then we looked at a prezi presentation that talks about the importance of reading. After that students had the opportunity to check out books. They each grabbed three books to preview. I announced to the class to find a comfy place so they could get in the “reading zone.” My students then silently read for 30 minutes!! 30 minutes!! Can you believe it!! At the end of the time they started discussing what page number they were on and what had happened in their book. I even got to read my own book for a few minutes. It was beautiful!!

Later in the day one of my students said, “Are we going to do what we did in intervention again in class?” He was so disappointed when I told him no! Tomorrow my students are bringing in blankets so they can make a comfy place to read. They are literally excited about our reading time. I could not be more thrilled as their reading teacher.

A Field Trip and Farm Animals

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go on my first field trip of the year with my students. It was so much fun. The field trip was an incentive for students who had excellent behavior in December and January. Our first stop on the field trip was the bowling ally. Many of my students had never been bowling before. It was fun teaching them how to bowl and celebrating when they finally scored a strike of a spare!

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After the bowling alley we went to the local mall. The students got to choose what they wanted. A lot of my girls came with me to the chinese place in the food court. We ordered and I spoke Mandarin with the attendant. My students were amazed to say the least.

When we were pleasantly full from lunch a few of us decided to go to build a bear. One of my students started lip-syncing to “Let it Go” They helped me to stuff and wash my build a bear – Olaf. Then we named him William-Olaf-Sullivan after our school. He is now our class mascot!

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~ All in all we had a WONDERFUL field trip!

FARM ANIMALS – This morning my student, who is in 4-h, had a cattle show. Unfortunately I arrived late, but I did get to see him with his cow and his awards. He won first place and I am so proud. Next week he is going to the state competition and I hope he does equally as well.

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So those were just a few of the highlights from another week in Mississippi! It has been exciting and amazing to see my students doing awesome things!

I’m a Failure…

So I walked into my house after a week at mom’s and I realized something. I’m a failure…I mean how do women do it? How do they juggle home, family, work and so forth. I watched my mom while I was visiting and she whisked around the room cleaning, doing laundry and everything. The funny thing is she seemed genuinely happy. Me on the other hand I dread cleaning and see it as a necessary evil. I guess I just don’t have the servants heart that she has.

That being said I am overwhelmed by how I will ever live up to my mom, granny, proverbs 31 and the plethora of other women I know who balance everything effortlessly. Also I keep seeing people reach milestones that I thought I would have accomplished by now. I thought I would already have a child and be content in my teaching job etc. It is at these moment in life when you can choose to wallow in self pity or to pick yourself up and let it motivate you to do better.

I don’t regret any of the choices I have made with Jeff. They were all choices that were prayerfully made and they have made us stronger people. In China, it was tough to be away from family, but it drew us together and made us able to effectively communicate and work together. Mississippi has grown me as a teacher in the many issues that I face that I have never faced before. We (Jeff and Jessi) are still working on how to be a content couple in the USA after having so much time together in China.

With the past behind me and the prospect of a new year in front of me, I am simply casting out these hopes or wishes for the New Year.

– I want to have a baby.

– I want to feel God in my life daily and do his will.

– I want to be closer to my husband and be the wife he needs me to be.

– I want to cook at home more and maintain a clean house (even if it kills me 🙂 lol).

– I want to move to a place where I can feel settled, where I have friends and family around me.

– Most of all at the end of this year I don’t want to feel like the failure that I am now!

It takes a…

Okay so the saying is so old – It takes a village…, but it truly does take a lot of people to support a successful teacher. My goal this year is to create a community of learners, but it takes a community to support me in this endeavor. I am so thankful that even though some of my family is miles away I have their support.

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My mom and cousin drove all the way to Mississippi to help me decorate my room. I honestly could not have done it without them. On top of that they helped me to get my interactive notebook stuff organized, so that I would have an example ready for the first day of school. My husband has been my rock through my whole teaching career. He painted my walls and then went around the school to help others. I am so blessed to have married such an amazing individual.

It takes a village – and it will continue to take a village to support me and my students!

Now for you teachers out there. My TpT community is hosting a sale. I have had the privilege over the past year to meet some awesome sellers who create dynamic products for the classroom. Click the image below for our back to school sale!! (It starts on August 4-5th)

Extreme Makeover: Classroom Edition

This year I am dedicated to feeling at home at school and in my classroom. I want the school to be a place where I want to be. Last year during much of the year I couldn’t wait to escape back to my house.

Hopefully this year that will not be the case. Our school recently changed from a pre-k to 8th grade school to a separate elementary and middle school. This is probably one of the best things for our students. Because of the change I was moved to a new classroom. I got permission from my principal to paint and I am very pleased by the results.

I got some inspiration from pinterest and my mom, husband and cousin helped me to carry out my vision. Here are the results of my extreme classroom makeover!

PicMonkey Collage






1. HOT GLUE = Best Thing to Use for Classroom Walls!

2. Reading Area:

  • Dock from Oriental Trading
  • Letters lovingly cut out on the Cricut by my Cousin!

3. Curtains:

  • These are actually napkins that I found at hobby lobby for 20 cents!!

4. Containers and Little Mini-Trash Cans:

  • Mini-Trash Cans – 2 for $1 @ the dollar general
  • Storage items – DOLLAR TREE BABY!! They have A LOT of really good plastic containers this year!


Why I Teach ELA

Stories have permeated my life. When I was a little girl my granny told me the story of the three little pigs whenever I was at her house. My mom also read me a story every night. At family gatherings I would listen from the sidelines to my uncle’s recount the glory days of high school football. At that time I could not wait to learn to read and join the world of stories that swirled around me.

I believe in the power of stories. Stories both read and told; both written and unwritten. Stories give us the power to learn and the power to have our own voice.

I remember distinctly the day my granny gave me my first chapter book. Excitement pulsed through my veins as I dove into the first chapter. This chapter book was different from all the others books I had read. It didn’t have any pictures. My granny explained to me that this book was better, because my mind and imagination would paint the pictures.

As I continued to develop as a reader, I read everything I could get my hands on (shampoo bottles, encyclopedias, can food labels). And in those moments I realized that I did not want to be just a consumer of stories, but a producer of stories. Since then I have read, written, and told stories. I have also began to teach. I have met new and inspiring people and lost those who inspired me most as a child.1931312_1080739099979_5999_n

My granny is gone, but she left me with her passion for stories. A passion for reading, writing and telling stories. A passion that I hope to pass on to my students. And that is why I teach!!


Faith defines who I am as a teacher. It gives me hope on days that seem hopeless, and a pillar of strength when I feel like I cannot go on. Teaching in case you don’t know or are just wondering is hard. I have wanted to leave the profession more times than I can count now, but the love that I have for my students tethers me to teaching. And at the end of the day I think it is something more. I feel called to be in the classroom. I love working for hours and hours to help one student reach a concept. I also live for that one student who says that I made a small difference in their life.

I was recently reminded of my Granny. She was a very special lady and I miss her each day. Although she was not a teacher she taught me how to care for other people. She worked during her last few years of life as a custodian. One year she told me about this girl who always wanted to hug her. My Granny being the person she was gave that girl a hug every single day. At the end of the year my granny recieved a note from the girl. It said simply, “Thanks for hugging me. No one else will and this is the first time I have been hugged since my mother died.” Wow! Giving a hug was such a simple thing and it meant the world to this girl.

As I prepare for the year ahead I have big goals and aspirations for each of my new students. I also have worries and concerns which I pray about daily. However, in my heart of hearts I hope that God will continually remind me that sometimes I need slow down and stop to look for the little things in life to truly bless my students.