What Happened in the Classroom When I Posted the Schedule

I was recently asked what advice I would give a brand new teacher.  Well, I’m not a new teacher but I felt like one when I moved to a new school last year.  After my experiences last year, I would always suggest posting a daily schedule!!   Who knew a classroom schedule could be a game changer and bring calm to a classroom of fifth graders?

Up until last year, I was a departmentalized 5th grade teacher with no control over my schedule.  All that changed last year when I moved to another school.  Suddenly, I had a lot of control over when and what I taught AND I was self contained… meaning I taught all subjects except specials and science to a fabulous group of 5th graders.  Wahoo!!! There was just one problem….due to the specials, not one of my days’ schedule was the same!

Looking back,  “Hello, Captain Obvious.  a posted schedule is the answer!”  Well, I never claimed to be the sharpest pencil in the box!  It was a rough couple of  beginning days….”What’s next?”, “What books do I need this morning?” “What specials do we have today?”  I could go on, but it is just too embarrassing!!!

About the third day, after answering way too many questions about “What are we doing today” or “What books do I need to have?”,  I had a moment of clarity after the students left!!! I literally walked over to the white board at the front of my room and wrote the next day’s schedule on the white board.  My classes were listed in one color; specials and non-academic activities such as assemblies in a different colors.



Nirvana!!!  No, not the grunge band…but perfection!   No more, “I don’t have my math book!”, “I thought today was computers, not media!”   No more clamoring from the students as to what the day would bring as students came in.  Suddenly there was peace in the classroom!


graphic by http://www.mycutegraphics.com


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Let me know what you think.  Leave me a comment!




Be The Change!

If you have been on any social media in the past few weeks, you know there’s been a lot of tears shed.  It’s left me feeling helpless and wondering what I can do.  How can I, one person, make a difference?  I have three kids and six grandkids and I worry about their future.

Well, I found my answer in a most unexpected place…FACEBOOK!  Say what?  Yup, I was kind of surprised myself.  I was rolling through my feed this morning and there it was. I am friends with a neat lady who has a Facebook page titled, “Read Like A Rock Star”.  She, too, was shocked and upset with what has been happening AND she had a plan!

Her plan is simple and yet so powerful that I felt that I needed to let everyone know about it.  Here it is… Acts of Random Kindness… with a twist.  Read Like A Rock Star has a plan and I want all of us to get on board with it…that’s why I am writing about it.  She has a store on Teachers Pay Teachers, but this won’t cost you anything more than a moment of your time.

She has created a ARK  board of ideas that each of us can implement on our own!  You could cut the board apart and hand the individual cards out to people or simply choose an act to work on each day.  I have already downloaded my own copy and I plan on starting today!  You DON’T have to be a teacher but you will need to make an account…doesn’t cost a dime!!!  You also don’t ever have to download any thing else from her store.  As she says in her description,

“It’s time to take action. I am a strong believer in being the change you wish to see. One of the happiest times in my life was when I printed A.R.K (Acts of Random Kindness) cards for myself that said, “This act was performed by me, but inspired by God. All I ask in return is that you perform a random act of kindness for someone else.”                                     be the changeHere’s her link…https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Be-the-Change-2639829


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Get Ahead of the Summer Slide!

Are you worried about your K-2 reader losing some ground as summer rolls in? There’s a quick and easy game you can play with your K-2 child that will help them keep their reading skills sharp!  Here it is…

Slide1Outdoor Bingo! Picture and Word Game K-2

Here’s the better news!!!  It’s on sale right now until June 5!  Have fun!


Do You Need to Engage and Excite Students? Use these words!

The words are, “Shall we play a game?“, which  is a throw back to an old 1980’s movie…”War Games”.  Sometimes trying to get our students excited about class work can be like a battle.  I have a very competitive group of students this year. They really love to outdo each other but I also want them to pull together as a team.

I tapped into that competitive streak to get them excited about doing classwork earlier this week.  I have a game I call “Captain and the Crew”.  It takes nothing more than a worksheet, white boards, markers, and erasers.  This game really appeals to them as it pits the class against me!!

As the teacher, I am the “Captain” of my class and my students are my “Crew“.  I handed out the worksheet and then wrote the words “Captain” and “Crew” on my whiteboard at the front of the room. The students work a problem independently.  When the lid is on the marker of all the students, we are ready to share our answers.

Students hold up their individual white boards to show the answer.  If everyone is correct, the students earn 2 tally marks.  If even one student is wrong, I earn 5 tally marks.  That’s not fair, you say? The students were more excited about beating me and me not being “fair” then really had them fired up!


How did I use the worksheet?  I had the students use the worksheet problems as the questions for our game.  See the results of our first game below…


I already have my students begging for a rematch!  Who knew a worksheet could be so fun?

Let me know what you think and if you use it in your classroom!Signature



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How To Solve the Dictionary Dilemma!

Here’s the dictionary dilemma for teachers.  We want our students to increase their knowledge of vocabulary in all subjects, but too often we hesitate to suggest that students look up the words in a dictionary.  For myself, even I used to shudder at the idea of looking up  unknown words in the dictionary!

Engage students are learning students and the best is when they don’t even realize they are learning!!!  I find that most students get very competitive in a game situation and that is what led to, TA DAH!!!  DICTIONARY DASH!!

I have my students get themselves into groups of three.  Each group gets a dictionary.  Because my students are so competitive, I have the students put their hands on the closed dictionary BEFORE I write the word to be looked up on the board.  After the word is on the whiteboard, they can’t start their search until I say “Go!”  The first group to find the word yells “We got it!’ and they send one of the students to the board.

On the board I have drawn a chart.  Word/Part of Speech/Definition.  The chosen student writes the part of speech and the definition.  I will check the student’s choice of definition to make sure it is the one needed for the day’s reading.

The other students are reading the meaning of the word as it is written on the board.  After that, the groups put their hands on the dictionary and the game continues until all vocabulary words needed for that day have been defined.

That being said, let me add a few pointers about the game:

  1.  DO NOT use this game every day in all subjects!  Anything done a lot gets boring and that’s what you’re trying to avoid!!!
  2. DO NOT use this game to look up EVERY vocabulary word in the lesson.  Why?  See #1!
  3. DO use it in subjects other than just Reading.  Students need to see the need for increased vocabulary in all subjects.

I have the students put the vocabulary words and meanings into their subject journal and glossary. We then jump into the lesson.

That’s it…that’s all it took to get my kids excited about using the dictionary!!  What’s the worst?  You lose a bit of time…What’s the best? A new game that takes little to no prep and excited students!Dictionary


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Summertime and the dieting begins!

Teachers are notorious for taking care of all the folks around them and neglecting themselves!  I am no exception. What to do, what to do?  This past year was particularly stressful as our school was under a microscope as a result of low test scores.  Eyes were upon us all year long.  Lessons were scrutinized, data analyzed, resources vetted.  I would like to be one of those”lucky” folks whose appetite disappears under stress, but not me!  I have forgotten where I parked, where I put my keys, and even left my laptop at home; but I have NEVER forgotten to eat a meal and then some!!  As a result, I put on weight this past school year and now I have decided to do something about it.


I have begun to add all kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables to my diet.  I  visit produce stands and take advantage of the local fruits and vegetables.  Luckily, I have a hubby who also likes to eat fresh.  We recently made a chicken avocado salad the was created without any mayo and it was so good!    You can find the recipe on my Pinterest board…https://www.pinterest.com/suemescall1/favorite-recipes/


This took some real thought for me.  I have spent previous summers catching up on my personal reading and crocheting, neither of which take a whole lot of calories to accomplish!  LOL!  I used to joke that I had only one allergy and that was to sweat!

This summer, I decided it was time to overcome my “allergy”.  I have tried to gyms and I have found that I just can’t seem to make the time to visit once school starts.  As a result of what I saw as throwing my money down the drain with a gym membership, I decided if I was going to sweat, it ought to have visible results beyond my weight loss.  I have started working outside at my home.  I have been pulling weeds, edging our yard using a manual edger, raking and putting new mulch in our gardens.  My yards are starting to look better and I am feeling better also.


I used to “pooh,pooh” people who told me that water could help a person lose weight.  Boy, was I wrong!  I have a drinking container that holds a lot of water and I have made it my mission to refill it at least 4 times a day with ice water from my refrigerator.  It keeps me hydrated as I work outside AND when I am inside reading my books or crocheting afghans for my grandkids.  I have found that when I have an urge to see if the food fairy has brought me some goodies since the last time I browsed,  I instead take a long drink of my water, the urge to snack is much easier to ignore.


The hardest part of this journey is knowing that since it has taken me a long time to put on this extra weight, it is going to take some time to lose it!  If you are like me, I want the extra weight off yesterday!  I remember the story of the tortoise and the hare…slow and steady wins the race.  I am letting my clothes let me know how well the weight is coming off and that is also a change for me.  I have been a scales junkie…letting the scales determine how my day would go. Yea!  I lost a pound…a great day!  Woe is me, no weight loss or even a gain!  My day carries a black cloud!  I am not going to let my diet decide how my day will go!

Thus, begins my diet journey.  I’ll keep you posted.  Share with me your favorite diet “tricks” and lets be kind to ourselves together!!