Teacher Feature: The Simply Organized Teacher

One of my favorite things to do, if/when I get a moment alone in the car, is to listen to podcasts. A few months ago I found this awesome podcast called THE SIMPLY TEACH PODCAST. This podcast is done by Kelly who used to be a teacher in the classroom and she interviews amazing educators and shares organizational tips.

The Simply Organized Teacher Blog

I wanted to add her to my teacher feature this month because she has some great ideas about packing up and cleaning out at the end of the year. She also has some amazing resources for rejuvenating over the summer and starting off the year right. Click the photo below for a link to the show notes from episode #43 –

Simply Teach- a podcast for teachers, by teachers. In this episode we talk about how to pack up your classroom in an organized way.

If you want some one on one help in your classroom she offers coaching sessions along with other resources in her shop.

So, if you want something neat and teacher-y to listen to, go to iTunes or google podcasts and search for simply teach!

April Showers Bring May Flowers (and spring fever!)

I don’t know about you, but April always seems to be a crazy month. It is filled with Spring Break, Prep for Testing, Testing and a plethora of other events. We are getting close to the end of the year, but school is not over. Sometimes it is hard to keep my students in that mindset!

I like to change things up at this time and I am sure to add interactive activities. Here are a couple of the ideas coming up in my classroom to try and avoid spring fever!

  • TASK CARD Egg Hunt: Basically regular task cards hidden in eggs around the room!
  • Jenga Review: What a great way to review key concepts with an intense game 🙂
  • Brain Breaks – to break up the monotony! We use dance breaks with baby shark and the cha cha slide. We also play quick games shake it out and Gorilla, Man, Gun!

Something that I have seen other teachers do for test review is a carnival! Check out this youtube video:

What kinds of activities do you do to avoid spring fever?

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Teacher on Spring Break!

So I took the week off last week to relax and spend time with my Family. On Saturday, I got to scrapbook with my sister Lindsey. Then, on Sunday we went to stay with my husbands Memaw so that we could purchase the Atlanta City Pass.

Monday we visited the World of Coke and my daughter was enthralled with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear!

Tuesday we met up with my mom to go to the Georgia Aquarium. We were all in Awe of everything there was to see! We got to attend two show the Seal Show and the Dolphin show. At the seal show, we had a blast and sat in the splash zone and got a little wet. So when it came time for the Dolphin show we thought hmmm we’ll sit in the splash zone again. Well, that was a mistake because we got SOAKED!! My daughter was crying and for the rest of the day she said: “Dolphin splashed me!”

Wednesday we met up with my Father-in-Law and headed to the Zoo. The favorite of the day was the Gorillas. My daughter did not want to leave their enclosure! We also rode the zoo train and the Carousel four times (My daughter rode a crane, panda, pig and a horse).

Thursday we were able to attend Fernbank. We got to do several interactive exhibits where we flew like pterosaurs, became meteorologists on the news and explored underground caves. My daughters favorite was the outdoor area and the playground. We ended the day with a 3-D movie about Pterosaurs (my daughter fell asleep).

Friday we hung out at our house and had Indian Food.

Saturday we headed to the Lake and celebrated my Mom’s Birthday. This included my daughter jumping in the water and urging me to come in too!

On Sunday – the first day I even looked at stuff for school – we tried to relax and get ready to head back to work.

What a whirlwind of Fun! I feel kinda like I need a break from break, but it was all worth it.

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Rock Cafe Room Transformation

The inspiration for this room transformation came from an old lab/demo that my partner teacher and I did a couple of years ago (it had been done for years – the copies we had looked like they had been made using ms-dos…if you remember what that is…). Basically, in the lab demonstration, we would cook fudge, pancakes and use snickers to model the process of creating each type of rock. The kids always loved it because they got to eat yummy food while learning = win, win!!

This year instead of just doing the same lab, I decided to kick it up a notch. I donned my chef’s hat and transformed my room into the Rock Cafe!

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Set-up for this was super easy! I put my desks together and added a tablecloth. I also put flowers in the middle I found some cheap vases from amazon.  I then made some cute cafe signs and printed them 🙂

My favorite part of my set up was my cake display. I borrowed some cake trays from other teachers and put some of my nicer rocks on them. Similar to the cakes sitting on display at the counter of a cafe. I know I’m a Nerd!! Here is a picture:

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A few years ago I typed up all the directions and the student sheet for this activity and placed it in my TpT store. It does not have the cafe signs and such – if you are interested let me know in the comments below and I can send them to you!

If you would like to use this in your class, click the link below to be directed to my TpT store:

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Thanks so much for reading this post. Don’t forget to check out my other room transformations – linked on the sidebar!

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The Reading Strategies Book

I am convinced (along with many of you) that all teachers no matter what the content/subject area are reading teachers. As I was perusing some of my favorite teacher youtubers, I came across this great resource. It was reviewed by the Lettered Classroom and Tina Beitler. They both ranted and raved about the strategies presented along with the anchor chart ideas built into the book. I decided to get a copy, and I do not regret it.

I was worried after purchasing that this was going to be a book totally geared toward ELA teachers and not useful for me in the science classroom. And while it does have the language of an ELA teacher’s resource, it still provides valuable strategies to use across content areas.

There are four sections in the book that focus on nonfiction reading strategies. Within these sections is where I found some great ideas. One idea that I use quite frequently is the boxes and bullets strategy. The book explains how to teach students to pull bullet point ideas from their reading in orderly to concisely comprehend the text. It also goes on to show an anchor chart/handout to use with students.

This is not a sponsored post by any stretch of the imagination. I just simply wanted to recommend a good resource if you are wanting to up your literacy game. What strategies do you use in your class?

Want to know more about the Reading Strategies Book – Check out this article! 

NewsELA (not just for ELA)

When I transitioned into the science classroom from ELA several years ago, I was very surprised how many science teachers didn’t know about NewsELA. It was a resource that I used at least weekly with my ELA classes. Naturally that did not change when I became a science teacher. I started pulling articles relevant to our topic of study, and found that students were very engaged with the current-ness of the articles.

How to find articles and What to do with them?

  1. Go to newsela.com
  2. Type in your topic (in my example below I looked for fossils)
  3. Find an article that may work for your group.
  4. Print it with the additional resources OR save the url to share with your students (there is also a pro version where you can create classes and assign articles)

Here is an example of the search and what comes up after you search:

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What I really like about newsELA is the ability to differentiate. You can give the same article but change the reading level. One thing that I do is ask for my students reading level when they take their reading level assessment (STAR or MAP) from my English department. That way I can pinpoint what level students need for their articles.

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Another cool thing is that, if you use BrainPop, NewsELA is now linked to Brain Pop!! Yay! That means it automatically pulls in targeted articles based on the topic of the brain pop.

So, if you have not explored NewsELA I highly recommend that you do so. You can pull in some close reading strategies and really engage students with real-world content! Let me know if you use NewsELA or try it out in the comments below!

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From Chopsticks to Mason Jars

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That is a picture of my new mason jar cup – a purchase I made during my transition from China to the Delta. I am now officially in the Mississippi TFA Corps! It is really exciting to be in a place that is warm and welcoming – not to mention a place that has people who speak my language. I loved China, but I guess it is time for a new step in my life.

This week I attended induction, which is where new corps members get introduced to their new roles in their placement areas. I have enjoyed meeting awesome people from across the U.S. who are going to work hard for the children of Mississippi. We had the opportunity to visit the community of Belzoni, MS – My highlight of the week! (click the link to read more)

Over the next several weeks I will be going through training to make me an even better teacher. I hope to keep you updated along the way. However, I will probably be updating my TFA blog – Jazzy Jottings more frequently during institute. Be sure to check it out as well!