Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sharing Sundays - Planning for Perimeter and Area 3rd - 5th Grade

This is the time of year that I like to really focus on Perimeter and Area.  Even if I have taught the standards previously, this is a great review.  Why do I like doing perimeter and area at this time of year? Well I get to teach and review a lot of standards!

- Adding of greater numbers
- Adding with multiple addends
- Shape review
- Critical thinking
- And of course the obvious perimeter and area

Here are a few lessons, freebies, books and blog posts to help you teach perimeter and area.  Just click on the image to access a PDF file.  Download the file and you can click each link you want.

Head back to the Primary Peach for MORE February fun and freebies.
Happy Teaching!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Weekly Notes for January 29 (Books, Freebies, Lesson Plans, and More)


Book of the week
The current Newbery Award Winner and a Caldecott Honor Book!  Wow, what a book. This is a great book that can be used so many different ways.  The details in this book! This is a great text to use in getting students to dive deeper into descriptions.  You could also use this book to introduce any service projects your school or class may be participating. Last Stop on Market Street is one you can use again and again. 

Lesson of the week
Groundhog Day is approaching. Although it's not a holiday to take up a lot time, I love it. It makes me start the countdown to longer and warmer days. To help teach kids about Groundhog Day I like to use this Poetry Literacy Center. The kids get to have fun while learning.

Fabulous Friday Freebie
Are you still holding on to winter? If so, then check out these Snow Paired Texts created by Ideas By Jivey. She shared this awesome resource on the Primary Peach Blog.

Recipe of the Week
For Christmas my husband got me a bread machine. I have said for years I wanted to try to make my own bread. There is something weird about the way I buy a loaf at the store and a month later it is still hanging around with no mold on it. My daughter loves PBJ sandwiches and I cringe every time I give her a sandwich wondering what preservatives are in the bread. Now I don't have to worry because I know all of the ingredients going into the bread. I found this recipe on and after two tries (I read the helpful reviews and adding the vital wheat gluten, baked it on white bread setting, and used butter instead of shortening) and WOW! My two-year-old eats the bread by itself. It is that yummy. Check out this bread recipe!

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Click this Image to Pin for Later. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Currently January

Ok so I am not so currently seeing as how February is just a few days away, but I wanted to link up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade to share some of the things I have been doing lately.

I have spent my life wanting to be a writer.  But the fear of the page, the reviews, and my own insecurities have keep me from putting my words out there.  I decided I was tired of all of these words dancing in my head and decided to just jump right into the deep end.  

I read several books recently that helped me get in perspective.  I loved Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I love that my writing doesn't have to be for the world.  It can be just for me and it can be incredibly imperfect and still be rewarding.  In response to her book she did a podcast called Magic Lessons.  I love how these lessons connect to the real world.  

I fell in love with Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan.  I have always loved her writing and after reading this book I did some research on Pam.  Turns out she didn't start writing until her third child was in preschool and she was working on an education degree.  Well, guess what both my kiddos are in preschool now and I find I have so many stories to tell to them and about them.  That knowledge pushed me to finish a picture book manuscript I have been working on and submit it to be critiqued at an upcoming writer's conference.  Who knows what will happen, but I am so proud of myself for taking the chance.  

The holiday season has left me in warp speed and I can't seem to slow down.  It is like I am on a roller coaster that never stops.  Round and round and up and down and on and on and on.  I have to get off and I am fairly certain it is just going to have to be a leap of faith to get off this ride.  I need to find time to sit and refocus.  

The south has been cold and wet too often lately.  I am ready to see green grass poking through and my cherry blossoms to start blooming.  The whole family is desperately in need of warm backyard days.  

And for my one word...believe.  It is time that I start believing in myself.  I need to believe that I am a good wife, mother, friend, daughter, and writer.  I don't need the words of others to tell me that.  I just need the knowledge, the belief, that I am.  I wake up every day with the goal of being the best I can be and it is time that I believe that I am.  

Saturday, January 23, 2016

3 Books You Need to Read Right Now

The past 7 months I have learned so much about writing, creating, and marketing.  I feel like I got a business degree without the guidance of a syllabus.  After months of feeling like my list was growing longer and my mind was racing out of control, I was led to these 3 books.  If you are looking for finding creativity, learning how to connect with others in business, and wanting to find a way out of that giant to-do-list, then you have to read these 3 books.

1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
This book spoke to me from the first sentence.  I felt like Elizabeth Gilbert was sitting beside me on the couch coaching me through my need for perfection and my fear of not having perfect words.  I love that she says that creativity doesn't have to be something you are great at and it doesn't have to reach the masses.  I love creating and I feel that I have to be perfect for people to want it. I love the freedom of just being able to create for myself.  No perfection, no marketing, just plain old creating for the fun of it!

2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
I am horrible at walking into new situations,  horrible at small talk with the cashier at a store, and horrible about starting conversations with strangers. I don't know where this fear came from, how id developed, or why it still haunts me at 39.  But, this book helped me realize how much I am on the right track.  What gets stuck in my head is the right thing to say.  I care deeply about other people, but I am always afraid that I will offhandedly offend someone.  I now know why this book has been popular for almost a century.  I just comes down to making others feel important.  A simple smile, a kind word, a nice note.

3. Make it Happen by Lara Casey
So I am sticking with this theme of getting over being perfect.  And this book pushed that issue as well.  I love the freedom of perfect.  That freedom has allowed me to write 23 posts in 23 days and freed me from the fear of pushing publish.  Honestly, what horrible thing could happen?  I write a bad sentence, I miss a word, yep that isn't what a publisher or editor wants, but right now my goal is to write and put my words out in the universe.  Lara Casey has dealt with the demons of being perfect many times.  Her advice is amazing and her tips on tackling a to-do list are life and time-saving!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Weekly Notes for January 22 (Books, Freebies, Lesson Plans and More)

Happy Friday everyone! This week has been a whirlwind of a week. I am always amazed at how a 4-day week can seems crazier and busier than a 5-day week. I hope you have weekends filled with joy and time to relax and enjoy.

Book of the Week
A fabulously woven tale about a boy and his sick grandfather. A belief in magic leads this mystery in discovering the miracle that can save Micah and his grandfather. This is definitely one that your fantasy lovers will enjoy.

Lesson of the week
This week I am looking at Perimeter. This is one of those measurement lessons where you get to review your addition strategies in combination with geometry and measurement. This blog post will give you examples to use in your classroom, along with a practice page download, and a suggested performance assessment.

Fabulous Friday Freebie
This Winter Coloring Book by Krista Wallden is fabulous. It has saved me on cold, rainy days. And my kiddos have something to color other than my walls and floors.

Pin of the Week
I have been working on mastering and creating pins. Here is my newest update on my Poetry Unit.

Recipe of the Week - Seaton Sunday Chicken from Once A Month Meals
A Sunday night repeat in our house. This recipe is perfect for a clean eating night and Monday leftovers. The original recipe for this called for soy sauce and we still use that to combine with the mustard. This chicken is so tender. I like to add carrots, an onion, and small potatoes around the chicken to add to the meal. This one is great for cooking with my kids. They love to help add the veggies and create and pour the sauce.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

February A Poem Each Week

The Free February A Poem Each Week has arrived. This month goes from poems about sickness to roads not taken. We feel the sadness of friends moving, and celebrate the love of friends and family. 

Poetry is great for read alouds and introducing and reviewing standards. This month we are looking at four winter and holiday themed poems.
Sick by Shel Silverstein
(i carry your heart with me (i carry it in) by e.e. cumming
Since Hannah Moved Away by Judith Viorst
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

These discussions and activities give students a chance to connect the poems to themselves and the world around them. Many times we forget the fun of poems because we had to "dissect" them in high school and college. But, kids love it! Poems break rules, have a rhythm that kids understand, and allow them to quickly make connections.

Each of these poems can be easily found in your school or local library. Many of these poems used can be found with an online search as well. If you have trouble locating these poems, please ask your school library media specialist for assistance. Use these FREE resources to get your students excited about reading poetry. These are great fillers during the holiday season for read alouds, end-of-the day, and winding down from recess.

You can access my FREE What is Poetry Book to help students learn poetry terms and styles.

So what are you waiting for? Grab this February a Poem Each Week and treat your class to a great poem. If you like these you can also download the September, October, November, December, and January editions.

Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest to get weekly poetry and teaching ideas.  

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

5 Podcasts to Motivate and Inspire Creativity

Are you feeling a little bogged down.  So many ideas but you don't know where to start or afraid to take the leap?  Well, let these 5 podcasts inspire you!

1. Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert
I love, love, love this one. The first two episodes were so current in my life.  I felt like they were broadcast just for my ears.  This podcasts goes with Elizabeth Gilbert's new book Big Magic.  I will talk more about this in my next post.  If you want inspiration to create something new, then these podcasts are just what you need to get over the fear and just create.

2. Amy Porterfield
Amy Porterfield is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to social media. She is an expert at list building and Facebook.  And what she isn't an expert at, she has lots of friends and guests who are experts.  Each episode is full of ideas for increasing your business potential and there is a freebie to download and use right away.  Her soothing voice is calming, yet inspiring.

3. Smart, Passive Income with Pat Flynn
This is my newest podcast and I like how Pat Flynn seems so down to earth. He has a wide range of guests on his show and each one feels like a conversation with friends.  He doesn't hide any facts from his successes and failures and the honesty makes me feel a more personal connection.

4. The Tim Ferriss Show
From Kevin Costner to tips on better sleep, Tim Ferriss has you covered on ways to be more productive in less time.  His book the 4-Hour Work Week is a huge success.  After following him on Instagram, I realized he has figured out the work/life balance.  A model for success and a voice of reason.

5. Angela Watson's Truth for Teachers
She has taken Teachers Pay Teachers and turned it into so many things.  Her podcasts are current topics that any teacher could relate to and her ideas are easy to implement.  A great model and teacher to use to inspire yourself and others.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Twitter Book Clubs Teachers Need to Follow

Are you looking for new literature to use in your classroom?  Stuck with minimal time to read the new books coming into your library?  Let these two book clubs give you a little help.

1. Sharp Schu Book Club
This monthly book club led by Colby Sharp and John Schu focuses on great books for the elementary level. New books are presented each month and many of the books are NEW books.  I love that there is an inside look on using the most current literature.  This book club is held once a month on Twitter. Here is the information about the February Twitter Chat (February 10th).  Oh and if you haven't checked out their blogs, well you are missing out.  So much information, so much fun, and so many great book suggestions.

2. #2jennsbookclub
This book chat focuses mainly on YA.  It is led by Jennifer LaGarde and Jennifer Northrup. The list for this season is posted and ready to download.  I love that the books for each season are predetermined way ahead of time.  I get a chance to read ahead and have time to take advantage of the local and school library.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Stand Up! A Poem Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr

Martin Luther King, Jr was magnificent in so many ways.  One of the lessons I like to teach my students at this time of year is how to stand up for what they believe in and the changes they want. I really like to focus on the peaceful ways in which Martin encouraged others to bring about change.  I wrote this poem with these ideas in mind.  

Discussion Questions: 
1. What is the repetition of this poem? Why do you think the poet repeated these words?
2. How does the poet think you should try to bring about change?
3. What is the rhyme scheme of this poem?
4. Why do you think the author chose to use an exclamation mark at the end of "Stand Up!"
5. How many lines and stanzas are in this poem?

Writing Assessment: 
Write another stanza to add to this poem.

For more poems like this check out Poetry Literacy Bundle

Cover Photo Credit: gustavofrazao/Dollar Photo Club

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Organizing Your Classroom Library with Goodreads

Today I am writing about organizing your classroom library.  To learn more just hop on over to the Primary Peach.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Weekly Notes for January 15 (Books, Freebies, Lesson Plans and More)

This week was full of excitement - from the National Championship game (hate my tigers lost) to the announcement of the ALA book awards. An interesting twist this year was that a picture book Last Stop on Market Street won the Newbery Award!  Yes, I know I should be featuring the winner this week, but I decided to share the book I had picked to win, Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan.  (This book did win a Newbery Honor). 

Book of the week
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

I feel in love with this book from the first page. I usually do with Pam Munoz Ryan books but this one more so than the others. The intertwining stories take you through such different points of view of the rise of Hitler and the Great Depression. As the story progresses I miss the characters who have passed. This is definitely a read aloud for fifth grade. Love! Love! Love!

Lesson of the week - Poetry terms
Testing time is getting near and poems always make it on the test. Take some time to review or teach the important poetry terms and standards. Here is a great blog post with the information you need, plus a free poetry book to use in your classroom.

Fabulous Friday Freebie AND Pin of the Week
Need tools to help teach synonyms? This pin was one of my highest repins this month. The free synonyms lesson by Jen Bradshaw is a great tool to use in your classroom.

Recipe of the Week
The White Chicken Chili from Marty’s Musings is a staple in our household! My two-year-old loves it. It takes 10 mins to prep in the slow cooker and 4 hours later dinner is ready! Some corn bread with a little cheese added is a great side. A little sour cream and cheese on top is the perfect addition, but isn't needed especially is you are going eating clean.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

5 Social Studies Writing Prompts that Get Kids Thinking

When you are rushing through your science standards at this time of year, take some time to check for student understanding. I know that time is closing in, you have way more to teach than time left in the day. Let students demonstrate their understanding with these writing prompts. These are great ways to integrate subjects and easy the "time" worry.

What would life be like if the British had won the American Revolution?

Describe what life would be like if the civil war has caused a permanent separation of the north and south.

How would life be different if cars had not been invented? Would you travel as much?

Pick a war you have learned about this year. Write a journal entry as if you are a soldier in that war. Add details based on what you have learned.

Pick a community service member (firefighter, police officer, etc). Write a journal entry decrying a day in your life.

Monday, January 11, 2016

4 Ways to Run a Calm and Successful Writer's Workshop

Follow me on Pinterest for more Writer's Workshop Ideas.

Want more ideas on running a Writer's Workshop?  Check out these items below for more.
(Click on each image to learn more.)



Friday, January 8, 2016

Weekly Notes for January 8 (Freebies, Books, Lessons, and More!)

I am so looking forward to this year. After a few years of fearing the page I have decide to buckle down and get over that fear. One of the poems from the January A Poem Each Week is Life Doesn't Frighten Me by Maya Angelou. I am not going to fear the page and when people ask me what I do I will tell them that first I am a mom and second I am a writer. A writer of children's stories and writer to inspire and make the lives of teachers easier.

Book of the week
What a fabulous book! The images draw readers in and this wordless picture book provided so much detail that my two-year-old could tell the story to me as he flipped through the beautiful pages. This is one I hope to see a Caldecott sticker on soon!

Lesson of the week
Creating character is one of the first things students should so when planning a fiction piece. Watch this video and download this handout for ideas on helping student create strong characters.

Fabulous Friday Freebie
The January Edition of A Poem Each week is ready to download. This month focuses on four poems to promote higher level thinking and having students make connections to the text. Poems you will need for this month:
(found in the book My Hippo Has the Hiccups)
January by John Updike
Life Doesn't Frighten Me by Maya Angelou

Pin of the week
I have spent a lot of time lately reading about testing and assessing.  I loved this article by Mandy's Tips 4 Teachers about getting control of student assessments. 

Recipe of the Week
For New Years this year we wanted something warm and cozy. I fixed this white bean and ham soup that I found at Sweet and Simple and a Dash of Crazy. Since I am a little superstitious I added a few collard greens to bring money in the new year.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Writing Exemplar for Personal Narratives - Yellow

By: Jessica Zannini

  My bike had a basket, but it definitely didn’t need one that day.  It was a warm spring day before the butterflies emerge.  I had just gotten the coolest yellow bike at Christmas.  This was my first chance to ride without the cold wind blowing in my face. 
  My best friend, Rebecca, came and asked if I wanted to go for a ride.
  “Of course!” I said.  “Today would be a perfect day.”
  We decided to ride up and down the hill in front of my house.  My dad was cutting the grass, and the lull of the lawn mower made me wish for the carefree days of summer. 
  We were having a blast!  The air was warm enough to take off our shoes and the pavement felt warm as I placed my feet on the ground.  I was preparing for a flight down the hill. It was awesome. I went faster than ever.  As I peddled back towards my house, I was so excited.  I couldn’t wait to tell my dad about my ride.  Nearing the mailbox something caught my eye.  I tried to stop, but I couldn’t.
  SPLAT!  The yellow guts poured out onto the street. My basket had blocked my view of a caterpillar and now he would never become a beautiful butterfly.  The tears began to well up in my eyes.  There were so many tears that they began spilling down my cheek. 
  I was so upset that I dropped my bike in the road and took off full speed into my house.  What had I done?  How could I have taken the life of a beautiful caterpillar that would one day become a butterfly?
  My dad came into my room after me and asked me what I was so upset about. Through my sobs, I informed him that because of my stupid basket I had run over a caterpillar and killed it.   I told him that I would not longer ride a bike, because I didn’t want to kill anymore innocent animals. He said that he felt I would need to still ride my bike some.  He thought that I would get tired of walking everywhere and it would be a shame to not ride the bike that I had loved so much. 

  After our talk, I decided that I really didn’t want to quit riding my bike forever so I told him he had to take the basket off of my bike.  From that day on, my bike was basket free and I have not run over any more caterpillars!

©2016 - Jessica Zannini

Photo: vali_111/Dollar Photo Club

Monday, January 4, 2016

5 Poetry Styles to Spark Creativity in Struggling Writers

We have moved. You can still access these FREE templates and learn more by clicking below.

Click HERE to download these Poetry Templates. 

Want to learn more about teaching poetry?  

Photo: Syda Productions/Dollar Photo Club

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sharing Sunday - Planning for Testing

I am teaming up with The Primary Peach to bring you the January Edition of Sharing Sunday. This month I am helping you plan for standardized testing.  

It took about 10 years of teaching to realize I need to really jump the ball on preparing for standardized testing.  I would feel the crunch as faculty meetings were filled with testing information and the date of the test drew closer.  I finally realized that January was a great place for me to start getting my students ready for testing.  

As a result of starting early, I found that we were all less stressed and were ready to dive in the first day of testing.  My students had ample time to reflect and ask questions so as the days drew closer my test anxiety kids were happier and my students who waited until the day of the test to ask questions that I couldn’t answer asked questions earlier.  

Below you will find reading and math resources, freebies, and blog posts geared toward 3rd grade testing standards. (These can be adapted to meet other grade level standards.) Click on the image to download the PDF that contains all of the links.

Sneaking these test prep activities in your lessons in January, will give students extra time to use these skills on their classroom assessments as well.

Head back to the Primary Peach for MORE January fun and freebies.

Friday, January 1, 2016

9 Tips to Help You Survive Standardized Testing

When you hear the words Standardized Testing do you feel any of the following? 

Frustrated you can't teach what your students need? 
Sweaty palms? 
Anger at politicians for focusing on a test? 
Irritated that your students are overwhelmed by one aspect of the school year? 
Just plain tired? 

If so, then you have come to the right place.  I have the same feelings.  The other day I was flossing my teeth stressing over what testing has become in schools and realized the two were a lot alike. Honestly, I hate flossing.  It's tedious, frustrating, and time consuming, BUT it is something I HAVE to do.  I can complain about it, ignore it, or avoid it, but ultimately I will have to deal with it.  So with that in mind I have 9 tips to help you deal with the testing stress without complaining, ignoring, or avoiding.

1. Monthly Testing Tips
Taking one tip each month let's students practice the skills they will use on testing day.  Yes, that test is months away, but the ability to practice and ask questions before the day arrives alleviates the stress for many students.  I have a list of suggestions I use each month.  These posters are great to help students remember what to do on testing days.

2. Carefully Plan Your Walls
When you plan your walls in August think about what you could use most of the year. When testing time comes, you have to cover your walls or take things down, but if your students are used to using the walls for reference then they will be able to remember things even when they aren't there.  Sometimes even looking in that direction will help them remember details.

3. Quiz Show Friday
I love to use a quiz show on Fridays to review topics.  I will take test questions or make questions based on things my students need to review.  Sometimes I will mix up topics and other times stick with the same topic.

4. Weekly Question Bulletin Board 
Students love a challenge.  Even Good Will Hunting couldn't resist solving that problem on the chalkboard.  Set aside a bulletin board for your grade level.  Let one teacher take the board a month.  The questions should be challenging.  Think those extended response test questions or analogies that will involve critical thinking skills.

5.  Smart Pencils
A smart pencil is a pencil that students use to study and review.

6. Pinterest 
Parents are always asking for ideas and work to help their students. I started boards for each subject or topic that I feel is important for my class.  I invite parents to follow these boards to get ideas for ways they can work with their children a home. If you would like ideas for sharing you can follow my boards.

7. Career Showcase
Have parents come in to talk about their jobs.  What ways do they have to show what they know at work?  Do they have to have meetings with their bosses, create portfolios, take tests, go to extra classes.  Have one parent or community member a month come talk with the class.  Be sure to give the volunteer some talking points to share with the students.

8. Make Testing Days Fun
I have taken several tests as I have advanced my teaching degree.  Taking a test zaps your energy.  It fries your brain. On testing days make the morning all about the test, but the afternoon about fun.  I know you have important standards still to review but you can do this in more relaxed ways.  Giving students learning menus, fun science experiments, and learning games can help keep them engaged after giving their all on a test. Dance parties are a great way to get those brain cells moving again.  (Add picture of science menu)

9. Quick Daily Practice with Data Collection
A daily practice is the best way to have students practice testing skills.  This gives them ample time to ask questions that will arise on testing days.  Daily practice gives them time to work with the standards and experience the successes and make mistakes that will help them enhance their learning. This daily practice should be quick and easy.  Read this post to learn more about daily assessments.

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Photo: alphaspirit/Dollar Photo Club