How to Survive the Week Before Winter Break

1 more week…..1 more week…..1 more week! This seems to be the mantra for lots of teachers around the globe right now. It seems that the weeks between Thanksgiving and Winter Break are the most hectic and stressful time of year. The closer it gets to break, the CRAZIER our third graders have become. Crazy kids=stressed out and crazy teachers as well. Something had to be done before we turned into this…

We needed something to motivate our kids in these last few days before break when the only thing running through their head is vacation. As we were discussing options, we started talking about how we motivate our kids at the end of the year with a balloon pop activity. If their behavior is good (as a whole) for the day, they get to pop a balloon that has a slip of paper with a reward inside. Suddenly it hit us, “Why not do the same thing now but instead of balloons, we wrap up gifts?” When the students came in on Friday, this is what they saw:

Excitement was running high! Kids were whispering left and right, “What are those presents for?” “I wonder what’s inside?” “Are those for us?”

We let the suspense linger for awhile, and then we called them together and explained that there were 5 gifts on the bookcase and they had 5 days of school left before break. We also pointed out the word “GIFTS” written on the board.


We then reminded them of our classroom rules and expectations and that every time one of these was not met, they would lose a letter. But, if they had at least one letter left at the end of the day, they could open a gift!  

Of course, the first question was, “But who gets to open it???” That one was easy to answer! Our class has been introduced to Ron Clark and they know all about “Runners and Riders” (if you don’t know about this, go and read his book Move Your Bus pronto!) We also use Class Dojo so students can earn “Runner” points or lose “Rider” points. We decided that they person that gets to open the present at the end of the day would be the student who earned the most runner points that day. In case of a tie, we would just pick a number between 1 and 10 and whoever was closest would win.

We put this plan into action on Friday, and let me tell you, this has SAVED our sanity. Our students were so motivated and engaged all day long (and that’s saying a lot for a Friday!)

So-we would like to spread some love and good cheer this Christmas to you! Hopefully you can use these reward cards to set up your own gift system and help you survive the last week before break. Click on the picture below to download your free set of Holiday Reward Cards. As always, we would appreciate it if you would leave some feedback love! Merry Christmas!

Holiday Reward Cards

Are you ready for the TPT Cyber Sale?

It’s that time of year again! Sleigh bells are ringing, children are singing, and teachers are...

 shopping of course! For the next two days, you can save 28% on everything in your cart! These sales only happen a few times a year, so we wanted to link up with Teaching in the Tongass to share our top 3 wishlisted items.

Here are our top 3, you can click on the picture to learn more about each one.

Looking for something to use during your traditional unit? We’ve got you covered! Our top wishlisted item (and our top selling) is the Folktales, Fables, and Myths-Traditional Literature Activity pack. This product has posters for each of the three types of traditional literature, games, worksheets, graphic organizers, website resources and more! Everything you need to help your students learn about the different types of traditional literature.

"Ahoy there Mateys!" Our next product is our PIRATES Test Prep Unit. This is a reading and language arts based unit to review concepts that frequently pop up on those standardized tests we all know and love. We’ve taken boring old test prep and transformed it into an engaging and fun experience for your kiddos.

Our last product is our 2nd best seller and so much fun, our Biography Research Pack! We’ve taken the process of writing a biography and broken it down step by step into easy to manage chunks. We have provided everything you need, lesson plans, student pages, character ideas and even directions and materials to make your own Biography Wax Museum as the culminating project. This is one of our favorite writing units of the year and our parents LOVE seeing their kids present all of their new knowledge.

We hope you’ve found some fabulous products to add to your shopping cart. Happy shopping!

Winners, Winners!!!

The winners of our giveaways have been selected and here they are:

Congratulations to...

And the winner of the Student Led Conference Pack is...

Mary Love

Thanks to everyone that hopped through the blogs and welcome to all of our new followers!

Fall in Love with Teaching Blog Hop

Welcome to our Blog! We hope you have enjoyed the Blog Hop so far! Today we would like to share with you about how we “Fell Back in Love” with Parent Teacher Conferences.

We know what you’re thinking, “They’re kidding right? Is it possible to LOVE Parent Teacher Conferences?” We’re here to tell you that it IS possible, and we’ll show you how!

Third grade is a big transition year. We expect third graders to start taking responsibility for their own learning. What better way to accomplish that then to have students lead the conference themselves? We started using student led conferences a few years ago as a way to encourage our students to set their own goals and to be held accountable for the work they have already done. When we first started doing student led conferences, it was a typical Parent Teacher Conference, but we just had the student in attendance. We wanted students to know what we told their parents (you know they all ask anyways) and why should it be such a big secret? We believe that students need to be involved, invested, and included in assessing their academic and behavioral performance.

Eventually we decided that the students needed to play a larger role in the conference. We felt it was important for them to have a voice and be the ones delivering the information about their performance to their parents. We also wanted to make them feel special and to create a stage for them to be the star of the show. From this desire our Superstar Student Led Conference was born. A few weeks before conferences we have our students begin to build their portfolios. They complete reflection sheets and gather work to show to their parents. 

Then we work to turn the conference into a special event. We send out invitations to the parents, create a red carpet, and have the students make a Hollywood Walk of Fame with signs that say, “I’m a superstar because…”.

The last few days leading up to the conferences, we model how the students will share the information with their parents. We stress how important it is to take their time, make eye contact, and speak clearly. We even discuss the importance of dressing professionally for an important presentation and we encourage the students to dress nicely on conference night. Finally, we have them practice with partners until they feel confident. When the night arrives, we make sure to  take a picture of the parent with their child on the red carpet. After all of the conferences are over, the students write a thank you card to their “adoring fans” :) with the picture included.

It really is amazing to watch the parents beam with pride and love watching their child be so grown-up and responsible. The parents love hearing from their own child how school is going, what they’re good at, and in what areas they need to improve. As teachers, we love that the focus of the conference is no longer on us and it has shifted to the students (where it should be!). Students love to be the center of attention, especially those students who might not normally hear positive affirmations about their hard work.

It might surprise you to hear that the students are actually very truthful and knowledgeable about their strengths and areas in which they need to grow. Time and time again we sit in these conferences and agree with most if not all of what the student says. Of course, we do still reserve the right to add our own opinions and comments if necessary for those students that require a little extra guidance (you know the ones!).

Most of all, we love that this creates an experience that many students and parents have never had before. It’s our hope that this is a meaningful, fun and memorable time for all involved. Best of all, we LOVE conferences again!

Are you ready to love your Parent Teacher Conferences as much as we do? Enter our rafflecopter for your chance to win our Superstar Student Led Conference pack for FREE!!! It has everything you need to run your own red carpet event: all of the student self-evaluation and grade recording forms, goal setting pages, student walk of fame templates, pictures and our best tips to running successful student led conferences. Click on the picture below to learn more!

Superstar Student Led Conference Pack (Editable!)

We also have a grand prize rafflecopter for the gift certificates to Teachers Pay Teachers (yay!). Two lucky blog hoppers will win!

Thanks for stopping by! We hope that we have inspired and encouraged you today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tried it Tuesday-The End of Molasses Classes

We are linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for

Have you heard of the book, The End of Molasses Classes, by Ron Clark? 

If you haven’t I highly recommend you go out and grab a copy. I was in need of some major inspiration going into the new school year and started to read the book as my summer read. Once I started reading it I was hooked and almost immediately told Nichole that she had to go and get it too, which she did. Among many great ideas and tips for both teachers and parents, was the idea of incorporating music in the classroom. One of the sections talks about using music to excite, motivate, and inspire students. So we decided to give it a try with our classes. Every year we use a program called Kelso’s Choices as a way to show students how to solve small problems using one of nine different strategies. We thought that this was the perfect opportunity to spice up our usual lesson, so we took the song “Bad Blood,” by Taylor Swift, which talks about having problems with a friend and decided to flip it by creating our own lyrics.

Now we were a little nervous going in because we weren’t sure how well the students would do with coming up with lyrics in the spur of the moment and as teachers, we know that it can be scary to venture into the land of the unknown. In fact, Nichole was skeptical at first, but she said she would do it if I led the lesson. I agreed and gave some (slightly nervous) words of encouragement that we could do it! We chose a section of the song to share and of course when we first played it, the students were super excited. Then we told them that they would be coming up with lyrics to go along with the melody. And with a little support from their talented teachers ;), the students eventually came up with what we thought were pretty good lyrics.

Here are Taylor’s original lyrics:

'Cause, baby, now we got bad blood
You know it used to be mad love
So take a look what you've done
'Cause, baby, now we got bad blood
Now we got problems
And I don't think we can solve them
You made a really deep cut
And, baby, now we've got bad blood

Band-aids don't fix bullet holes
You say sorry just for show
You live like that, you live with ghosts
Band-aids don't fix bullet holes
You say sorry just for show
If you live like that you live with ghosts
If you love like that blood runs cold

'Cause, baby, now we got bad blood
You know it used to be mad love (mad love)
So take a look what you've done
'Cause, baby, now we got bad blood

Our students came up with these lyrics:

We used to have problems,
but now we know how to solve ‘em.
Using Kelso’s choices,
You just have to follow them.

You can tell them to stop,
or wait and cool off.
You can also ignore it,
or you can just walk away.

If that doesn’t work at first,
try another Kelso’s choice.
Maybe try to talk it out,
you can also make a deal.
Apologize to keep it real,
you should share with everyone.
You can always go to another game!

We used to have problems,
but now we know how to solve ‘em.
Using Kelso’s choices,
You just have to follow them.

Then we had to practice (and practice some more) and add some moves and finally they were ready to perform. Below is the student’s rendition of the Kelso’s Choices Song. (There is one spot where the students got a little mixed up but the show must go on!)

The kids loved it and it showed us that sometimes it’s good to step outside of your comfort zone. If you’ve ever wanted to try something like this with your students, I would encourage you to take the plunge, you won’t regret it!


BTS in a Flash! Curriculum Must Haves

We are SO excited about the BTS TPT sale that starts tomorrow! Our wishlist is filling up fast. We're joining up today for the 

linky party. 

Here's a quick peek at one of our products, a product we LOVED last year, and something on our wishlist for this year.

(Click on the cover to see it in our store!)

Ahhhh....test prep! Usually it's such a boring, dreadful thing. We created this unit and focused it around a topic that's so captivating to our students....PIRATES! This is a HUGE 90 page unit that includes everything you need to review those important concepts that always seem to pop up on those standardized tests. Our kiddos love this unit and so do we! 

Properties of Multiplication 7 Day Unit 3.OA.5

We loved using this unit from Cupcakes n Curriculum to teach the Multiplication Properties. This standard is brand new in Third grade, and there really wasn't very much out there to use. This unit was really a lifesaver and very easy to use. 

Mentor Sentence Units (VOLUME 1) Bundle (Grades 3-5): 40 Weeks!

We are excited to try out Ideas by Jivey's mentor sentences. We've read a little about them and we're planning on replacing our old DOL activities with this. Anyone use this already? Any tips for us?

We can't wait to see what everyone else is linking up with, happy shopping!

Currently August- My first time!

Hey All!

I'm linking up with

for the very first time for her Currently August! Here's what's going on in my life currently:
Listening- Food Network Star: I love watching cooking shows (just wish I could cook like them too.)

Loving -Teacher Periscopes: I think I'm officially addicted!  Every time that little whistle goes off, I just have to check to see who's live. We've done one Periscope of our own and we're looking forward to doing more soon. Check us out @teachingwithteamw.

Thinking- 1 week left of Summer: How does the Summer go by so fast??? I can't believe we have to report back to school for training next Monday, teacher work day on Tuesday, then kids come on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to a new year, but I'll miss summer too.

Wanting-A new pencil sharpener for school: Ugggghhhh......pencil sharpeners! I have such a love/hate relationship with them. I only let 1 student have the job of pencil sharpener and they are the only one that's allowed to touch it, but they still end up broken all the time! I think I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and buy a good, expensive, heavy duty one. Any recommendations?

Needing- To finish my classroom: I've been slowly working on my classroom one day a week for a while now, but it's crunch time! I feel like there's always more to do and not enough time to finish it all. 

B2S RAK- Helping my old Student Teacher set up her first classroom: Last year I had the best Student Teacher! We became good friends and she will be starting her first year of teaching this year. I'm planning on helping her set up her room before I have to head back to school.

So, what's going on in your life Currently?  Join the party and link up!


Weekly Summer Link Up: My Best Trip Ever

I am linking up with Monica from I Heart Grade 3 for her weekly link up! The topic for this week is The Best Trip of My Life. 

I’ve had the opportunity to visit some amazing places: France, England, Belgium, Jamaica, but one trip that I will always remember is when I went to Italy in the summer of 2011.

As I mentioned, I had the opportunity to travel out of the country before and it had been a while since I had gone anywhere. I had the itch but no idea where to go. I started to search the internet looking for opportunities to travel abroad and I landed on this website called Geovisions. I found out that it was an organization that offered all types of programs abroad from staying with a host family and tutoring someone in English to being an au pair for young children. Neither of these appealed to me, but I explored further and came across a summer camp program in Italy. Italy had always been one of my dream places to travel to and this program seemed perfect. I would be there for 4 weeks and they would provide a place for me to stay. I would help out at a summer camp teaching English to kids during the week and I would have my weekends open to travel. Let’s just say that I am not a super outgoing person by nature and I had never traveled out of the country on my own before, but something about this program was just calling to me and I couldn’t pass it up. So I applied and was accepted!

Fast forward several months later and I found myself flying to another country for a whole month! I stayed with the other counselors, many of who were still college students. I jokingly like to compare it to MTV’s “Real World” with the whole cast of characters. It was fun getting to meet some great people.

C:\Users\wilsonjoy\Downloads\OneDrive-2015-07-14 (22)\SAM_0656.JPG

There was lots of espresso to help with getting up early each day (until I became super jittery and had to cut myself off), amazing experiences (like bike riding through Tuscany), and wonderful locals (who managed to be welcoming despite the language barrier).

The kids I worked with were a lot of fun, although I quickly learned that they wanted to do work during the summer about as much as any kid anywhere does :).
And let me not forget to talk about the FOOD! It was delicious. When I first got there I was barely able to make it through a plate of homemade pasta--by the time I left I was scraping my plate bare at each meal. There was definitely some weight gained on this trip, but it was worth it!

In the end it was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I have ever had and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.