"The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for."

~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

What My Mom Taught Me

Posted by on Jul 16, 2014 in Uncategorized | 10 comments

Most mothers are instinctive philosophers.

~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

Next Tueday my mom will celebrate her 90th birthday! Well, actually she plans to begin celebrating as soon as any members of the family begin arriving and she plans to continue celebrating until the last ones leave. We are arriving Saturday and leaving next Friday; we plan to do a lot of celebrating. It is, after all, not just her 90th birthday on Tuesday, it is also my sister, Theresa’s 56th birthday, her son, Matthew’s 21st birthday, her grandson, Jackson’s 5th birthday, and my husband’s birthday. It is a four generation birthday plus one.

My mom has 10 children. One of them is celebrating with us from heaven. She has 33 grandchildren. One of them is celebrating with his uncle in heaven. And her 29th great-grandchild is due in October.


Here she is with one of her great grandchildren. I love this picture of my nurturing mother!

A few of the important things my mom taught me:

Have faith, love God – My mom’s faith is her rock. She is unwavering. Hardships are to be met head on and are never thought of as a lapse in God’s love or compassion. She has helped me conquer hardships in my own life.

Love family – Family is everything to my mom. She still cares for each of us in whatever ways she can.

Love kids – A child is the truest gift of God to the world. With 5 younger siblings I have been surrounded by kids my whole life. I enjoyed teaching them everything I learned. I could hardly wait to grow up and become a teacher.

Work hard – (All of the above were reflected by my dad, too – but especially this one.) My work ethic comes from my family. If something needs done, then you do it! I can cook and clean with the best of them. My mom has crocheted afghans and baby blankets for almost everyone. She still works on it when her arthritis allows.

Have fun – Playing cards with my mom and granddaddy and siblings are some of my best memories. We giggled and got silly. I learned how to play and win, yet I always knew the winning wasn’t the important part. And just for my mom and granddaddy I will say ” Moooooooooose!”

There will be lots of silly fun in Ohio in the next week. Many card games, many Farkle championships, but mostly just a huge celebration of an amazing woman. I am so lucky to be able to still celebrate with her. I love you Mom!


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My Attempt at QR Codes

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

We had a training session at our school well over a year ago, before I was at all comfortable with my iPad, on QR codes. I had a student teacher at the time and she knew all about them. She basically took over my iPad and did the activity for me. I saved the handout because I was a little interested and thought maybe I would try them out someday.

A couple of weeks ago I was cleaning off my desk at home, so that it could be functional, and I found the handout. I put it in my folder with lesson ideas I hope to get to someday. This morning I was working to avoid working on the projects I had assigned myself for today, so I started going through the folder. I decided today was the day to tackle QR codes.

I opened the handout feeling my usual feelings of inadequacy when confronting technology and I read the following instruction, “Use a QR Code Generator many of which are free.” I googled QR COde Generator. Up pops one. It is easy. I just type what I want and press save as a PNG. I copy it, paste it, and I have one done. It was so amazingly easy!

So I have created an Analogies for Back to School set of task cards. It is currently free at TpT until I have 50 downloads, then it will be half price for the next 24 hours. Here is a sample.

Analogies for Back to SchoolAnalogies are a great vocabulary building strategy. I made a couple pages to help students understand how to use them and how to read them.



Please check them out and hurry while they are free!



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“Because” their Spelling Wobbles!

Posted by on Jul 11, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.

~ A. A. Milne

Here is a fun mnemonic to help your students with their “wobbly” spelling! You can get it for free in my TpT store.



Small copies for students’ word study or spelling interactive notebooks.

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Thoughts on Back to School

Posted by on Jul 9, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

First, let me say I know it is still summer! I still have a fun, family vacation ahead of me to look forward to. I read a blog recently about having a summer bucket list.  You can read it here. I’ve done number 2 and 4. And I am mulling number 7 over in my head. I need to do number 8 – last year was a tough one. Also number 10 is becoming a reality – I can not do all the things I wanted to do.

I am looking forward to next year. Things are going to be drastically different for me. For the first time in 37 years I will not be teaching math or science. I will only be teaching Language Arts and Social Studies. I am having fun preparing myself for this. I am reading all of next year’s Texas Bluebonnet Books and trying to figure out how I will share them with twice as many kids. I am creating independent spelling/word study units. I am thinking I might have a Daily 5 of my own (or Daily 4). I want to plan out all of my grammar/writing skills with mini-lessons and independent work.

I have been working hard this summer. I have already posted 45 new products on Teachers Pay Teachers. Mostly they are new Explore the State and Spelling Units. But I  have also made some Back to School products. And since it is July and only the crazy truly dedicated teachers are looking, I am making these free for the first 48 hours or 100 downloads. I especially love the product I made today!

Data Collection and Graphs


This Back to School Getting to Know You packet has 28 different questions for data collection. The questions are on ¼ of a page, so that the teacher only needs to use up to 7 sheets of paper for this part of the activity. A blank sheet is also included for your own ideas.

Each student gets a different question on which to collect data. The students will write tally marks directly on their sheet. Some of the questions, for example, ones on reading, math, science, and students’ preferences on school activities will be helpful in understanding your class.

As I said this product will be free until its been there 48 hours (45 now) or 100 downloads. I am hoping for 100 downloads! Please leave me some feedback! Hope you like it.


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Writers on Writing

Posted by on Jun 28, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Aristotle Quote

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A Beginning of the School Year Freebie

Posted by on Jun 26, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Just a quick share! Fun for the kids, insightful for the teacher.

Me MathMe Math

Thanks for stopping by!


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My Kids Can’t Spell!

Posted by on Jun 23, 2014 in Freebies, scavenger hunt, word study | 0 comments

My Kids Can’t Spell!

My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.

~A. A. Milne

My kids can’t spell! Maybe that is because I am not doing word study the right way. Diane Henry Leipzig says ”Word study provides students with opportunities to investigate and understand the patterns in words. Knowledge of these patterns means that students needn’t learn to spell one word at a time.” I thought that spelling lists also did this. Each list has a pattern that is explicitly investigated. Kids need to investigate, I really like that word. And they need to talk about their findings. I pretty much gave this up when we were asked to “do” word study instead. I was under the mistaken impression the word study was playing with word wall words a few times a week.

As I read more about word study I am discovering that, yes, I have not been doing it the right way. I guess that can happen when you feel something extra was thrown at you without clear guidelines or expectations. On the otherhand, I am delighted to find that the “Spelling Units” I have been working so hard on this summer actually reflect good word study practices!

from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/80

Teaching strategies

In word study, teachers encourage students to compare and contrast features in words. One common method for doing so is by having students sort words. When sorting, students use their word knowledge to separate examples that go together from those that don’t.

The first activity I plan to have my students do with their words is a word sort. They are also asked to add other words that they know fit the pattern. Some examples are provided.

In addition to sorting, students may hunt for words in their reading and writing that fit the pattern being studied, may construct a word wall illustrating examples of the different patterns studied, may keep a word study notebook to record the known patterns and their new understandings about words, or may play games and activities to apply their word knowledge (Bear et al., 2000).

Each of my spelling units has a “My Word Collection” flapbook for collecting words from reading. A gameboard is also included with each unit.

A cycle of instruction for word study might include the following:

  • introduce the spelling pattern by choosing words for students to sort
  • encourage students to discover the pattern in their reading and writing
  • use reinforcement activities to help students relate this pattern to previously acquired word knowledge

A Rhyme Time Foldable is included with each unit. Kids have the chance to write some fun couplets with pairs of words with the warning to pay close attention, or get help with possible varient spellings.

Teachers then test students’ pattern knowledge rather than their ability to memorize single words. For example, a teacher might have students work with twenty words during a word study cycle and then randomly test students on ten of those words. For students studying the -at family, a teacher might include the word “vat” on the spelling test even though it wasn’t on the initial spelling list – this allows the teacher to see if students are able to transfer their knowledge of the “at” chunk to a new word they haven’t seen before.

My spelling test, which is a scavenger hunt, has additional words (which may have  been seen at some point throughout the week, but not practiced) for students to apply the pattern being studies.

I am excited and validated by my studies this morning. My frustration with my students poor spelling led me to believe I needed to go back to spelling units. I ‘ve created units (7 done so far) incorporating what I strongly believe to be good practices. Now I know from my reading that I will also be doing a much better job with “word study”.

Spelling Boardgame


Spelling Gameboard

Directions: Decide who will go first. Player 2 picks up a card and reads it to player 1. Player 1 spells the word. If it is spelled correctly, player 1 may go one space for each letter in the word. If spelled incorrectly, player 1 does not move. Player 1 then reads a word for player 2 to spell.

My units come with cards for the game, but any list of words could be written on index cards. In fact, students could make the word cards themselves.

I am hoping the hours I am putting into creating Spelling/Word Study Units this summer will ease my frustration about poor spelling in my classroom.

If you are interested you can find my Spelling Units here.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on word study and any tips you have on making my kids better spellers!








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