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A Go Figure Debut for a Floridian Who Is New!


Her TPT Store
Today my blog highlights Kelly Ann who is an elementary teacher from Florida. She started out teaching first grade, but after four years, she “graduated” to fifth which is still her grade level.

Regardless of the present-day hardships most teachers face, Kelly Ann loves her job. Even at a high-socioeconomic school like hers, her fifth graders come to school with a lot of baggage. Not only is she teaching content that they need for real life, but she enjoys helping them learn how to be good human-beings. Because her students spend such a large part of their day with her, she desires to be a caring, loving, authentic role model for them. That is why she describes her classroom as a family environment. She wants her students to take care of each other while they learn as well as to use their strengths to support each other.

Kelly Ann married her high-school sweetheart. (How romantic!) They have two small children - a four year old and a four month old; so, she is quite a busy lady! Generally, her life with a new baby consists of trying to keep everything afloat and trying to do Teachers Pay Teachers whenever she can! In other words, her free time is null and void. Fortunately, she is able to take this next school year off to be with her kiddos thanks to TPT.

Her Teachers Pay Teachers store is called “Created by Kelly Ann.” Right now it contains 101 quality and reasonably priced resources that are generally focused on intermediate science and social studies, with some ELA and test prep items mixed in.

One of her bundles that my husband is interested in (he teaches 8th grade science) is her Variables in Experiments Bundle. (We all love bundles because they save us $$$.) This resource includes three activities to help students practice and review independent and dependent variables, a difficult concept to master. One of her buyers left the following comment about this resource:

“The scavenger hunt was a huge hit in my class. I was also easily able to see the students who needed some additional help.”

Free Item
Out of the five free resources in her store, I found this one to be well received. It is called Teaching Test-Taking Strategies Posters. These are test-taking strategies posters that her students practice all year long to help them prepare for the inescapable standardized testing. As I looked at the 91 ratings for this item, I discovered that buyers thought these posters were not only useful but just what they needed.

She just launched her new website that incorporates her blog within it. It is entitled Created by Kelly Ann as well. Recently, she has started to create "Quick Tips for Teacher-Authors" that can also be found on this site, Instagram, Facebook in addition to Pinterest.

In everything Kelly Ann does, her teaching, creating her resources, her blog, etc., she has set high expectations for herself!  Check out her store as I know you will love what she has to offer! My husband did, and he is now a Kelly Ann “fan!”

Sock It Away!

Most of us can't live without our cell phones.  Unfortunately, neither can our students.  I teach on the college level, and my syllabus states that all cell phones are to be put on "silent", "vibrate", or turned off when class is in session.  Sounds good, doesn't it?  Yet, one of the most common sounds in today's classrooms is the ringing of a cell phone, often accompanied by some ridiculous tune or sound effect that broadcasts to everyone a call is coming in.  It’s like “technological terror" has entered the classroom uninvited.  Inevitably, this happens during an important part of a lesson or discussion, just when a significant point is being made, and suddenly that "teachable moment" is gone forever.

What are teachers to do?  Some instructors stare at the offender while others try to use humor to diffuse the tension. Some collect the phone, returning it to the student later.  A few have gone so far as to ask the student to leave class.

In my opinion the use of cell phones during class time is rude and a serious interruption to the learning environment. What is worse is the use of the cell phone as a cheating device.  The college where I teach has seen students take a picture of the test to send to their friends, use the Internet on the phone to look up answers, or have answers on the phone just-in-case.  At our college, this is cause for immediate expulsion without a second chance.  To avoid this problem, I used to have my students turn their cell phones off and place them in a specific spot in the classroom before the test was passed out.  Unfortunately, the students’ major concern during the test was that someone would walk off with their phone.  Not exactly what I had planned!

A couple of years ago, a few of us in our department tried something new.  Each of us has purchased those long, brightly colored socks that seem to be the current fashion statement.  (I purchased mine at the Dollar Tree for $1.00 a pair.)  Before the test, each student had to turn off their cell phone, place it in the sock, tie the sock into a knot and place the sock in front of them. This way, the student still had control over their cell phone and could concentrate on doing well on the test, and I did not have to constantly monitor for cheating.

At the end of the semester, we compared notes.  Overall, we found that the students LOVED this idea.  Many said their students were laughing and comparing their stylish sock with their neighbor's.  I was surprised that a few of the students even wanted to take their sock home with the matching one – of course.  So here is a possible side benefit....maybe socking that cell phone away caused my students to TOE the line and study!


How Many Classroom Rules Does A Teacher Really Need?


Now that most of us are getting geared up for a new school year, it's time to think about what classroom rules need to be established. Maybe the ones you had last year just didn’t work, and you are looking for a change. I could recommend many "Do this or this will happen" or "Please don't do this as it will break my heart" statements, but lists can become very long and mind-numbing. Maybe that is why God only gave Ten Commandments. Fewer rules meant less had to be memorized. So, maybe we need to ask ourselves: “How many classroom rules are really needed?” 

I would suggest making a few general rules that are clear and understandable since being too specific often leads to complicated, wordy rules that might cover every possible situation. Most of the time, I post six simple classroom rules (only two words each) in my room which encompass my main areas of concern. I find them to be more than sufficient to govern general behaviors, and because alliteration is used, the rules are easy for all of my students to remember.

1.  Be Prompt – In other words, be on time to school/class/group.

2.  Be Prepared – Bring the items you need to class or to a group. Study for upcoming tests. Have your homework completed and ready to turn in. 

3.  Be Polite – This rule focuses on how we treat each other. Show respect for your teacher(s) and your fellow students in the classroom, in the school, and on the playground.

4.  Be Persistent - The final rule spotlights the need to stay on task and complete an assignment even though it might be difficult. 

5. Be Productive - Always put forth your best effort! Grades are achieved; not received; so, do your best at all times.

6. Be Positive – Bad days happen! If you are having one of those days, I do understand. Please just inform me before class that you are having a bad day, and I will try to leave you alone during class discussion. This is not to be abused.

I firmly believe that class rules must cover general behaviors, be clear as well as understandable. Being too specific often leads to complicated, wordy rules that might cover every possible situation, but are impossible to remember.  (A good example are the IRS tax rules which I still have difficulty comprehending). 
Here are a few things to consider when communicating your classroom rules.
  • Establish clear expectations for behavior from day one.
  • Use techniques such as interactive modeling to teach positive behavior.
  • Reinforce positive behavior with supportive teacher language.
  • Quickly stop misbehavior.
  • Restore positive behavior so that children retain their dignity and continue learning.
If you are interested in using these six rules in your classroom, check them out on Teachers Pay Teachers. Each two word rule is written as a chart, and each is ready to download and laminate to hang in your classroom.


Aliens and Trapezoids

I am always looking for ways to help my students remember things.  For example, when we learn about the properties of one, I sing (yes I do, and a little off key) One is the Loneliest Number.  Since there are so many quadrilaterals to learn (*7 in all), I create quadrilateral stories.  Here is one of my students' favorites.  (Keep in mind, these are college students.)

Once upon a time, I planted a broccoli garden in my backyard.  Since I love geometry, I placed triangle statues all around my garden.  Every morning I would go out to my garden to weed, hoe, fertilize, and water my precious broccoli plants.  One morning, I noticed several of my plants had been eaten.  I was one upset lady; so, I decided to stay up all night and watch to see which critters had the nerve to venture into my garden for a broccoli feast.

That night, I sat at my bedroom window watching the garden.  All of a sudden, out of the sky, came a UFO which landed in my backyard.  As I watched, the door of the UFO opened (I use my arms to imitate the opening door while I say, S-q-e-a-k!) and out came some little aliens.  As they approached my broccoli, they repeated, "Zoid, zoid, zoid".  (I use a high alien like voice.) Sure enough, they ate several of my plants!  They then proceeded back to their spaceship and flew away. 

The same thing happened the following night and the night after that; so, I knew something had to be done.  I went to my garage, and got out my trusty chain saw to cut off the top of each of my triangles.  (I imitate the noise of a chain saw.)  Inside each cut off triangle I placed a bunch of broccoli to entice my visitors.  I knew if those aliens got inside, they would never get out because of the slanting sides.  I went back into my house to wait.

Sure enough, like clockwork, the UFO returned.  Again, the door of the UFO opened (s-q-e-a-k!) and out came the same little aliens. They proceeded to my cut off triangles, and perched on the edge peering down at the broccoli, all the while saying, "Zoid, zoid, zoid".  One by one they leaped inside to eat the broccoli, and guess what.  I trapped-a-zoid!  Okay, you may not be laughing, but I swear this story does help my students to remember what a trapezoid is. 

Let's discuss a couple of important math things about trapezoids that you may not be aware of.   In my story, the trapezoid is an isosceles trapezoid or as sometimes called, a regular trapezoid.  Not only does it have one set of opposite sides parallel, but it also has one set of opposite sides equal (marked with the black line segments).  It also has one line of symmetry which cuts the trapezoid in half (the blue dotted line).  This special trapezoid is usually the one taught by most teachers, but it is really a special kind of trapezoid. 

   trapezoid                                   isosceles trapezoid
For a quadrilateral to be classified as a trapezoid, the shape only needs to have one set of opposite sides parallel as seen in figure one.  The first trapezoid is the one that sometimes appears on tests to "trick" our students.

In the second figure (the isosceles or regular trapezoid), the sides that are not parallel are equal in length and both angles coming from a parallel side are equal (shown on the right).  Lucky for me that I used the second trapezoid for my trap or my zoids would have been long gone, and with my entire crop of broccoli, too!

*square, rectangle, rhombus, parallelogram, trapezoid, kite, trapezium