It’s Official….iTEL Pilot…..Initiated!

I am like a kid in a candy store……happier than a pig in mud…..happy as a clam at high tide….you get the idioms, right?  I am unbelievably excited!  Our iTel pilot has been approved by the board, 1,400 iPads arrived to our district Tech office on Monday, and we had our iTEL kick off!  Whoop Whoop!

Members of the iTEL pilot

Members of the iTEL pilot


As an instructor I received an iPad 4 with 64 gigs and 4G capabilities……oh man!  You should have seen me dancing around when I realized it!  Every teacher in the pilot received an iPad 4 with survivor case, MacBook Pro, wireless keyboard, and the dongle.

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My gift packet! 🙂


The only downer on the event was that my partners were unable to come to the kick-off. 🙁  We’re a very small school and we just don’t have the staff to cover the entire sixth grade team.  So I took a picture of their gift packets to make them feel better.  It didn’t work, though!

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Now comes the hard part.  Two grueling weeks of a graduate course, which I’m only partially prepared for….and then the real challenge – integrating this awesome technology with our students as we embark on our Common Core challenge as well.  Do you smell my fear?  I am terrified.  I’ve been researching everywhere to get ideas as well as try to figure out how to get e-books on those devices for cheap!  If you have any ideas, I will be more than willing to accept them.

Our graduate course will focus around personalized learning in addition to learning how to use various apps with the iPad, so we think that’s imperative that we combine those two and provide as many examples as possible.  I created an Xtranormal video that teachers will have to respond to around day 3 of the course and I would love your feedback.

iTEL pilot
by: mrsjeff

Well, wish us luck!

Until the next time,


End of Year Reflections Linky Party

I’m linking with Erin, Miss Lifesaver, for her End of Year Reflections linky party.




I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe that the last day of school is 5 school days away!  I’ve had an awesome year with an awesome group of kids and I’m going to miss them terribly.

Now for my……

End-of-Year Reflection Questions:

  1. What was the biggest professional challenge you faced this year?
  2. What was the biggest personal challenge you faced this year?
  3. How do you think you’ve grown from your experiences?


1. I have had an amazing school year it’s really hard to think of something.  I would say that my greatest challenges have been: (1) finding confidence in myself again and (2) teaching, I mean really teaching, writing again.  I have always been very proud of my instructionally sound lessons and great standardized test scores.  Mine have always been at the top and I have been able to produce well rounded children.  With my change three years ago to a new school, I went from 90 minutes to 60 and that made a huge difference. The first year our scores came back I cried like a baby.  Year two scores were better, but not what I am used to.  Although I am still struggling with the shortened time, I found ways to manage my time better and fine tune my lessons so that I was able to get the bang for my buck.  Unbelievably in fifteen years, I have never been directly responsible for students who would take our standardized writing test.  In North Carolina students take the standardized writing test is 4th and 7th and when I moved to South Carolina students only took the writing test in 5th and 8th.  I was absolutely terrified!  But, with the help of my coordinating teacher and an 8th grade ELA teacher, I think the kids did a good job.  We worked our butts of those last few weeks, but they all seemed very confident on test day.

2.  I think my greatest personal challenge has been balance between work and home.  My DD is autistic and started first grade this year. I have been so worried because these years will be so important for her and with her language delayment (she didn’t start talking until she was almost four), I know that reading will always be difficult for her.  With DH working a second job at night, home cooked meals have been far and few between.  My partner and I spend long hours at school which makes our evening short.  Thank goodness for after school care because homework is done before we get home.  All we have to do is review and get ready for tomorrow – which until last month was all me.  But, last month I decided that Miss Cam was going to start helping out.  She is now expected to pick out her clothes for the next day and pack her lunch box.  Those few changes have made such a huge difference in our night routine.  She is also now responsible for unloading the dishwasher and folding her underclothes.  I’m a very proud mama!

3.  I’ve learned to trust myself more and that it’s ok to rely on others.  In the past, I used my co-workers to validate my ideas, but never to give me new ideas.  I even switched classes with a partner to have her teacher a writing lesson to my students because she does an excellent job at it!  I’ve also learned to  allow DD to become more responsible.  We will not use her autism as a crutch!  She will be successful because she is smart and knowledgeable, and sweet as pie! 🙂

With our iTEL pilot being funded (iPads in the hands of every sixth grader)….I know that there are plenty of challenges ahead.  There will also be some new changes on the horizon (we’re getting a new superintendent…which means we’re probably getting new district office staff as well) but I’m definitely excited about what’s to come!

Want to link up?  Head on over to Miss Lifesaver by clicking on the photo above.

Until next time,


My Kids Rock! and Budding Blog Linky

I know it’s been a minute since I posted, I’ve been recuperating from testing….lol!  It’s been a little over a week since we’ve finished, and my kids and an AWESOME job! 🙂  I am so proud of them.  The Monday before students tested, we had a PASS Celebration/Pep Rally.  Grade levels competed in the following categories:  Academic Challenge, Banner, Chant, and Rap/Song.  When I say we rocked every aspect of the celebration, I mean we ROCKED it!  See a youtube video clip of the rap the kids performed.  I showed them a few examples and various students came up with all the lyrics. The Academic Challenge group answered 11 out of 11 questions. BOOM! You can also see a pic of the banner in the video.

On test days, my babies worked so hard!  They annotated out the wazoo!  My requirement is that as they answer questions, they have to underline key words and phrases in the selections and then write their answer reasoning beside the choices.  No matter what the outcome, I am so proud of these students!  We won’t find out anything until June about how they actually did…..but I already know they killed it!

I’m linking up with I {heart} Recess for her Budding Blog linky party! The only requirement is that you have less than 200 followers….so that’s definitely me! 😉

Budding Blog

To participate in the linky party you have the answer the following questions:

1. Why did you start blogging?
I initially started using a blogging platform for my classroom website. I loved the versatility of it. I especially loved the fact that I could embed documents directly into the site and it allowed for some interactiveness with students and parents. After blog stalking for almost a year, I decided to create a personal blog to share my experiences as a middle school teacher and for a way to share my thoughts and ideas with the world.

2. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?
I am an English Language Arts teacher, because I love to teach reading! I am a voracious reader and I love to share my excitement with my students. I become giddy when I realize they love a book as much as I do!

3. Describe your teaching style.
Hmmmm. My teaching style would be considered tech geek infused. Since I love technology so much, I love to embed it into every aspect of teaching. I use my Promethean board every single day! Students use ActivExpression devices every single day! We are frequently using our netbooks for various reasons and next year I will be a part of iPad pilot! Can you say “stoked”? I’m like a kid in a candy store….hopping, jumping, and dancing around. I’m definitely a “hands on” teacher. I love my kiddos and we have so much fun together. But I’m also a very strict disciplinarian. My students know if they work hard, we’ll play hard. But if they don’t meet my expectations……whoa…..

4. Give three interesting facts about you.
1. When I was two, I fell down the stairs of a college dormitory at my cousins’ college graduation. I knocked out my four front teeth, dislocated my jaw bone, and cracked my bottom front bone. I was without front teeth until I was in the fourth grade. I graduated from that college 20 years later.

2. In college, I sang in a girls group. We performed at the Apollo theater one summer. Although we didn’t win, it was a wonderful experience.

3. I’m addicted to trashy reality shows. R&B Divas, Love & Hip Hop Atlanta, even Keeping Up With The Kardashians….the trashier the better. So sad, I know. I’m utterly horrified, yet unable to look away….no judgement

5. Do you have a TpT store? If yes, post the link 🙂
I do have TpT store, but it’s very, very, very, small. One of my goals is to work on that this summer. 🙂
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth -



Until the next time,


D Day Has Arrived and Currently

Oh my…..I’m trying not to be stressed, but I am so stressed, and so trying not to be…..HELP! Tuesday is D-day….my kiddos take the ELA portion of our standardized test. We have worked hard this year, and I am so proud of the work they have done. We met our MAP goal and exceeded our benchmark goal and I can SEE how hard they’re trying. It just breaks my heart that all their hard work is ignored in the face of this one test. Because the truth of the matter is this…..if they read on a fourth grade level, then who can expect them to pass a sixth grade test? And that’s what really breaks my heart…those students who work their butts off….but just can’t handle the content….

But N-E ways (as my kiddos say)……

In preparation for testing next week, we are having a celebration on tomorrow. Now, THIS I am utterly excited about! Our grade level is competing against other grade levels for some major prizes! And again, they have come up with some down right AWESOME things to do! And I do mean AWESOME! I can’t wait to post the pics and video up tomorrow.

And I work with an AMAZING group of teachers. We’re going to serenade the kids tomorrow. I found a song that someone…I need to look it up so I can give her credit….created using the song, Call Me, Maybe – changed it to Test Me, Baby. I switched it up to PASS This, Baby (PASS I our test acronym) and my amazing cousin sang the lyrics on an instrumental track, because none of us can sing like that it it would’ve been just pitiful….lol.

On now on to May’s Currently….

I truly can’t believe that it is May already! It seems just yesterday I was getting ready for the first day of school and we are now five weeks away from the last day of school……wow!


My Summer Bucket List

1. We only live an hour and a half away from the beach….but hardly ever go. For one, I can’t stand the summer beach traffic! But DD loves the beach so this summer we are definitely going…..and more than once!

2. Over the summer I have Girls Getaways with my sorority line sisters and my best friends. We always have so much fun! I can’t wait to hang out with them, laugh, party, and reminisce.

3. 5 years ago I lost 100 pounds. How? Clean eating and exercise. Somehow I’ve gotten away from that and gained back waaaaay more than I like. So, I’ve joined up with my cousins to get our healthy sexy back! We have our own little group on Facebook where we encourage each other and hold one another accountable.

Well, I really need to get ready so, I’ll holla at’cha later!

Until the next time,


Let’s Get Acquainted – My Classroom

It’s that time again…..Latoya’s Let’s Get Acquainted linky party is going on right now!



This week’s theme is: My Classroom

The top three areas of my classroom are:

1.  My Promethean Board

This is where all the magic happens.  When my projector bulb blows….which happens about once a year, my screams can be heard all the way to our district office….15 miles away! 🙂

2.  My laptop cart


This year, my students have done some awesome things with these computers….and they will again as soon as testing is over!


3.  My storage space

I’m really proud of my Teacher Toolbox.  It was a frequent visitor on my pinterest page and I finally got up the gumption to do one myself!  I tend to just lay tings down, so this baby helps me to become better organized.  I wish you guys could have seen the before pic of that cabinet.  It took me a few hours, but I got it cleaned up.  It doesn’t quite look like this now (the pic is from the beginning of the year), but it stills look pretty good.  I started using those book bags back in September.  Each student has a ziploc bag with their lexile information on it.  They keep their Independent Reading books in that bag nad place that bag in the red Target bag.  Nice and Neat!

What are the three things that you treasure most in your classroom?  Head on over to Flying Into First Grade to link up!

Until the next time,




Spark Student Motivation: Student Passes

I’ve been out of town all weekend at my sorority conference (and I had a blast!), but I can’t NOT link up to Joanne’s linky party.

With middle school students it is ALL about extrinsic motivation.  So often, I hear teachers say, “I shouldn’t HAVE to reward them to learn”….blah, blah, blah.  I laugh and say, “You wouldn’t work without pay would you?”

As an incentive to do well on assessments, I provide students with various passes (Homework, Bonus Points, and Missed Assignment).

5 Bonus Points Pass

Students can earn these passes by making A’s or B’s on assessments or meeting their MAP goals.  I also hand them out when only a few students remember a particular situation, skill, or concept that is a review.

These passes are FREE in my Teacher’s Notebook Store.  Click on the link here to find them.

Until the next time!


Let’s Get Acquainted Linky! (April 14th)


Latoya at Flying Into First Grade hosts this incredibly fun linky party! This week’s theme is the Skittles game!


Red – Butter pecan! It was grandmother and mother’s favorite….so of course it’s mine!

Orange – Becoming a member of my sorority. My mother was there to pin me, and that ceremony is one of the most beautiful ceremonies in the world.

Yellow – LA Lakers! I was born a Lakers fan! And although I am not really a Kobe fan, I couldn’t resist this pic……


Green – Chick-fil-a….hands down! A #1….no salt fries…and a Coke Zero….um, um, good!


Purple – Hmmmmm. When I was two I fell down a flight of stairs at my undergrad alma mater (my entire family went there). I knocked out my four front teeth, dislocated my jaw bone, and cracked a bone in the lower middle. Almost all my elementary school pics have a closed lip smile! The teeth didn’t grow back until 5th grade and they grew in crooked. Hello, braces!

Until the next time!


Spark Student Motivation Saturday (April 13th)

I just love linking up with Joanne over at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation Saturday linky party!


I am a Vistaprint fanatic!  They create first-class marketing products at a very reasonable cost.  Sometimes you can get products for free and only have to worry about paying for shipping and handling.  Through Vistaprint, I have created parent contact postcards (for positive and negative behavior), business cards, a class banner, magnets, and the product I’m highlighting today, “Whooooo Did A Great Job” student reward cards.

Positive Contact Card


I like these cards, because they can be given out for anything! Came in and immediately got started on bellwork? Get a card!  Ranked #1 on our device activity? Get a card!  Awesome participator today? Get a card!  Students return their cards and I put them in a box for a weekly drawing where they can earn various types of passes (HW, Bonus Points, Missed Assignment).  We’re required to make 5 positive parent contacts a month and with this card it is, as my DD says, easy-peasy!

And, like I said earlier, these cards were so inexpensive!  I got 250 of them free and only had to pay shipping and handling.  I ended up going back and ordering a second set, so I think I paid around $14.00 for 500 of them…..that’s it!

Do you have a creative activity that you use to spark your students’ interests?  I’m sure you do, so head over to Joanne’s to share your wonderful strategies!


Until the next time!


Gregor the Overlander: A Book Review

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

 This book is written from the viewpoint of Gregor, an 11 year old boy who lives in New York City.  His father mysteriously disappeared two years ago and as he is watching his two year old sister, Boots, they fall through an air vent that takes them to Underland – a world where humans and various animals live as  almost equals.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

BN Summary:

In the first novel of the New York Times bestselling series by Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games, young Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building and hurtles into the dark Underland. This strange world is on the brink of war, and Gregor’s arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland’s uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it — until he realizes it’s the only way to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance. Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.

When eleven-year-old Gregor and his two-year-old sister are pulled into a strange underground world, they trigger an epic battle involving men, bats, rats, cockroaches, and spiders while on a quest foretold by ancient prophecy.


Oh my goodness!  I could just KICK myself.  My librarian recommended this book to me two years ago and I’ve finally read it!  My family traveled to Maryland this weekend, and I was scouting around for a book to read on the trip.  I definitely hit the jackpot with this one!

I love, love, love The Hunger Games series and this book by Suzanne Collins does not disappoint!  I read the book in one day, in a car, where I usually get carsick if I read for a long period of time!  Today I asked if any of my students had read it – and not a one had!  I couldn’t believe it!  This year I definitely have some voracious readers and this book has been a sleeper!

This book has all of the elements of a fantabulously awesome book – suspense, intrigue, and a good bit of humor.  My favorite line:  Right after Gregor has confirmed the fact that he is “THE OVERLAND WARRIOR”….maybe?

“I am the warrior.  I am he who calls.”  

The bat was still for a moment, then nodded. “It is he.”  She spoke with such certainty that for a second Gregor succeeded in thinking of himself as a warrior.  A bold, brave, powerful warrior that the Underlanders would tell stories about for centuries.  He could almost see himself leading a squadron of bats into battle, stunning the rats, saving the Underland from – 

“Ge-go, I pee!”  announced Boots.

And there he stood, a boy in a goofy hard hat with a beat-up flashlight and a bunch of batteries he hadn’t even tested to see if they still had juice.

The mighty warrior excused himself and change a diaper.

Now, that I have fallen desperately in love with this book, I will be hunting down the second one right after this post…posts! 🙂  And I will hound every single child until they’ve read it too!

Until next time!

Let’s Get Acquainted Linky (April 7th)

Latoya from Flying Into First’s Let’s Get Acquainted Linky is still going strong!



This week’s theme is:  Stranded!

“If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you take?”

1. I would have to take hubby and dear daughter….I couldn’t be anywhere for a long period of time without them!  A weekend….probably….but longer than that I’m sick…..

2.  iDevices…..I can’t go anywhere without my iPad, but I would need my iPhone to tether so that I could have internet access.

3.  A BIIIIIIIIIGGGGGG umbrella connected to a nice comfortable chair, lol.  I don’t mind being active and out in the sun, but when it’s time to rest – I want to be comfortable!


What would be your three items?

Wanna link up?  Click on the linky pic and it will take you right over to Latonya’s site. Don’t forget to click on the link before and after yours and leave a nice comment!


Happy linking!