Tricks of the Trade Thursday: Homework Collection

Yes, I know it’s Sunday, but with the ending of school, I’ve been MIA in the blogosphere.  Jessica at Joy in the Journey is hosting an AWESOME linky party – Tricks of the Trade Thursday and with this week’s subject being Homework Collection….I had to jump in!  I’ll get on track next week!



I am a supporter of homework.  I know how difficult it is to get students to actually complete homework – but I also see the benefits when it connects to current concepts as well as a review of concepts that students have not done well with.  I know that many teachers don’t feel this way, but *shrugging* to each his own.  Besides that, it is required at our school.  So win/win for me!

When I moved to my new school three years ago I went from being responsible for 50 students to 100+ students…..Whoa!  Believe it or not – it makes a HUGE difference!  I also went from having 100 minutes to 55 minutes with students……Double Whoa!  Before, we had 20 minutes of Self-Selected Reading everyday and I could use that time to collect homework It’s taken me three years to come up with something that is workable and I can keep up with.

Students are given a weekly “Homework Sheet” on Monday that isn’t due until Friday.  I got this wonderful idea from our 8th Grade ELA teacher.  She does it for the entire 9 weeks, but sixth graders can barely keep up with assignments week to week! 🙂 It is in three parts:  reading that focuses on concepts, writing/grammer, and independent reading.


Although it isn’t due until Friday, I still check daily to make sure they’re on track.  On Monday, I use PowerTeacher to create a roster that highlights the homework outlined for the week.  I have a student in each class period that checks off on the clipboard and I use Class Dojo to award points for those students who are on track.  I also have them stamp on the assignment as an additional incentive.


On Friday, students staple the Homework sheet to the loose-leaf paper that they’re required to complete the assignments on and turn it in to me.  Students who do not have their homework lose Class Dojo points and are given a Missing Homework slip that is completed by the student and signed by the parent.


They complete both sides and I cut the slip in half.  I keep one and attached it to the signed parent one after it’s brought back.  Each part is a separate grade and I average the three grades to given them a Weekly Homework Average.  Students that have a stamp for every assignment get an additional $5 in Jefferson’s Bucks.

Students are also required to write their homework down in their agenda daily.  As their ticket out the door, I stamp their agenda.

If you’re interested, you can click here to download the Missing Homework Slip from my Teacher’s Notebook Store.

Until the next time!


Green Screen…..Activated!

If you remember, my principal gave me the go ahead at the end of last year to paint a portion of my wall green. At first, I thought that the district workers would do it…..but ummmmm….no, it didn’t work out that way.

At the beginning of the school year I did some research, bought the paint, and a wonderful co-worker painted my wall for me. And there is has been untouched…..all year…..until now!

Half-way painted wall

Half-way painted wall


My social studies partner had our students create music video based on content that they’d learned this school year.  Some of them did an AMAZING job!  I suggested that we switch classrooms so that she could use the green wall (I mean, somebody should get some use out of it, right?)  After she finished videoing the kids she asked me, “So what do we do now?”  Ummmm yeah, hadn’t thought that far yet…

Since we actually had something to work with, I did some researching.  We found a program that did pretty much we wanted (and did I mention we didn’t really know what we wanted anyway?), so my partner purchased it.  The first thing we realized was that the wall wasn’t big enough…. Here’s a pic of a FABULOUS group with the original shoot.




See the bookshelf in the video?  Ummmm yeah….not enough green…..

With the iTEL pilot, each of the teachers received a MacBook Pro along with the iPad.  Somewhere I’d heard that I could use iMovie to create videos with the green screen effect.  I searched….and I searched…..I looked at the help section again….and again….and again….and finally!  I found what I was looking for.  Here is the video that I created using iMovie.

See the bookcase? Ummmm yeah….not enough green….

The software we purchased will allow us to import photos, but as far as I know, iMovie will not. When I created this video, I found a video off YouTube, imported it in, and then reduced the sound. Then I remembered that an awesome teacher, Sean Avery (Check out his blog here), had given me information for video loops that he uses for his videos. Movietools offers various resources that will help with created polished videos.

So on the last day of school, I asked the kids to come up with a “Top 10″…in like two hours….and they did it! Check out my babies on this one!

Despite the fact that it took me aaaaaaalllllll year to get it together…..I have it together! Now all these plans are swirling in my head. I can’t wait!

Until the 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!


Spark Student Motivation Saturday

Happy Sunday, folks! Today is my last day of Spring Break and I’m spending it on the road heading home from Maryland. Traffic……Uggghhhh.

But, I found a linky that I thought would be very helpful and it would help me pass the time as I ride along. Joanne over at Head Over Heels is hosting the Spark Student Motivation Saturday linky party. And yes, I know it’s Sunday, but better late than never, right?


I use Class Dojo as my classroom management tool. The points that students earn from Class Dojo are switched into money (which I call Jefferson’s Bucks). At the end of the quarter I have my Jefferson’s Jam. Students that have earned enough money get to order subs or pizza, play games, and dance to music. This system costs me ZERO dollars. The kids bring in treats for the party and the money for the food!

If you’re interested, click on the link here to read more about Class Dojo and my last Jefferson’s Jam!

Until the next time!


Reading Olympians – An Awesome Resource!


Get Ready for Bloggy Olympics!!!


Join The 3AM Teacher, the Reading Olympians, and over 80 SUPREME education bloggers as we take you through a tour of the Reading Olympians Root Study Program!!

I was so fortunate to hook up with teachers all over the nation to participate in the Reading Olympians project hosted by The 3AM Teacher and Krista Miller and Julie Kiss, The Reading Olympians! I must say that this is an awesome resource and I can’t wait to use it from Day 1 next year.

I have worked on Greek/Latin roots with my students, but very sporadically. I used them mostly during my bellwork lessons, with little connections during the regular classroom day. The Reading Olympians provide a constant connection with these roots and in a no hassle way! In our current standards we have a set number of roots/stems that we are required to teach in each grade. But what if they’ve missed them from the previous year….*shrugging*

Since we were on Spring Break last week, I was able to complete one unit with my students. We have our state standardized test in 4 weeks, and since I only have 60 minutes with my core classes, I decided to use this resource with my elective class. They jumped right into it!

This week was very teacher directed – on Monday, I showed them examples from the packet and they worked in groups to create their own. I actually uploaded the unit into a flipchart for us to use together. Tuesday – Wednesday, I had them work together to complete their graphic organizers, I shared my examples, and they shared theirs. They used the dictionary and thesaurus correctly and their hard work paid off! Our of 14 students, 5 didn’t score 80% or better the first time! Out of those 5, only 1 needs to do another re-test.

I gave them the following criteria on the scoring rubric for their graphic organizers:

1. Complete all four squares in the organizer

2. Make sure you have three words in your word box.

3. Be able to explain your words.

4. Add color to your graphic organizers.

Three of the five stayed after school with me that day, created their flashcards and quizzed each other until they were comfortable retaking the test. One students (who is really low) went from 20% to 80% just after spending thirty more minutes with a partner quizzing each other using the flashcards.

I also created a quizlet flashcard set for the Nike Unit…find it here….Nike Unit Quizlet set. I will continue to create those for students to practice with. I’m using my bulletin board to highlight our Reading Olympians program this year. Teaching so many students (110), I don’t think I will be able to do the necklaces, but I’m looking into figuring out a technology interactive way to do it. It will be one of my summer tasks. Since each child will have an iPad next year, I may buy one necklace and then create it as an Edmodo badge to assign to students. Eureka!

I want to work on creating an additional test for those students who have to retake the test. My sixth graders are verrrry slick (well, they think they are!) and I don’t want to hassle of trying to figure out if they are trying to cheat.

My top concern is time. Last week, it took pretty much 30 minutes to work on the program. I am interested in seeing how the time decreases as we continue to work. I can’t afford 30 minutes a day in my 60 minute class period. If you have an ideas for a departmentalized classroom, please leave me a comment or drop me an email. Also, make sure you follow my blog and the other blogs in this series to be in the running for some amazing prizes!

Discover the program IN ACTION in more K-6th grade classrooms as you Pass the Torch!! Get ideas, discover the progression of the program, and enter the Raffle for a chance to win ONE of the three prizes listed below!!

First Place Winner : Gold Medal

Prizes: Complete Reading Olympians Program

$50.00 Amazon Gift Card

50% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher’s Etsy store!

Second Place Winner: Silver Medal

Prizes: $25.00 Amazon Gift Card

40% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher’s Etsy store!

Third Place Winner: Bronze Medal

Prizes: 30% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher’s Etsy store!


Thanks for stopping by! Next stop, Sweet Rhyme – Pure Reason, a 5th grade teacher who has put her own awesome spin on the Reading Olympians project! Click on the torch at the bottom of this post to visit her page!

Pass the Torch!!!

Click the image below to visit the next blog


Grade 1 & 2

Grade 3 & 4

Grade 5 & 6

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Until the next time!


Be There or Be Square…Freebies Galore!

Teaching Blog Addict is turning two years old! Hooray! TBA is hosting an ultimate freebie celebration filled with freebies for different grade levels, and you’re invited to grab as many freebies as you’d like!

Get your printer ready, make sure your ink cartridges are full, and that you have plenty of space on your hard drive to download all of these awesome freebies! I’m posting quite a few for middle school teachers that are very helpful to me.

Click on the picture link below to find the freebie resources.

There are already a huge amount of freebies on the site so who knows what awesomeness will be there on the 5th? Hope to “see” you there!

Until the next time!

Hanging Out My Shingle!


I promised myself that I would work on opening my TN and TpT stores this week…..and it

is done!  Although it only has a few items, it’s a start! My goal is to tweak things and

continue to add a few things on a regular basis.  If you have some time, click on my widgets

and take a look around.  More to be added soon!



Educents – Get It While It’s Hot!

Educents is a daily deals site featuring the latest educational products at 30% – 90% off.  They will have e-books, software, curriculum, online learning and more.

The site will oficially launch on April 2nd, but if you visit and sign up now, you will receive a $10 Educents gift card.  Click on the pic to visit the site and sign up!

Finding Our Voice! and a TBA Friday (Well, Sunday) Freebie!

Six days to the writing test!  And I have the heebie jeebies!  Although this is my 15th year of teaching, this is the first year that my students will have to take a standardized writing test.  I love writing and I love to teach writing….just not in 50 minutes with reading and grammar as well!  *pausing for a panic attack*.

I am lucky that many of these students are already strong writers in most of the writing rubric areas (content/development and organization), and I’m not even going to touch conventions… we are spending the bulk of our time working on voice.

In VOICE, we focus on the following areas:

  • vivid vocabulary
  • varied sentence structure
  • quotes
  • humor
  • figurative language

The students are really blossoming!  It’s funny,  but my Honor students are still very reserved (and I have SIX days to fix that!), while my other students are taking dramatic risks! 🙂  One of my students called his blueberry muffins “awesomeness in a cup”!  Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about!

And now for the freebie!  I’m linking up with TBA for Freebie Friday (and yes, I know it’s Sunday doggone it!)

Here is a powerpoint that we used to help students beef up their vocabulary.  They did an AWESOME job! I’m attaching the powerpoint and the handout that goes with it.


March Currently!


It’s always exciting to join up with Farley at Oh’ Boy 4th Grade….. for her Currently linky party!

Baby Girl got sick on Thursday and has passed it on down to me! But why isn’t it the same? She was coughing and wheezing. I, on the other hand, am coughing, sneezing, running AND stuffy nose (how does that work?), and aching. I have been in and out of the bed all day (more in than out), and at least got dinner cooked for my family, but that is it! Gonna need some help getting the rest of my stuff together for next week…..sigh

Oh yeah! My team has been selected to participate in the iPad deployment initiative and we are beyond excited! Still trying to wrap my head around it….and Common Core…..and other opportunities that are to come. Gonna stop now, getting overwhelmed…..

My house is a mess! My plan was to work on two rooms this weekend, but that didn’t happen. Anyone have a fairy godmother they can lend me?

This month, Farley asked us to use the first letter in our first name to complete the bottom item (which I have to admit I did not do, initially, because I didn’t read completely).

I like Chocolate….a lot. But, it doesn’t love me quite as much….My willpower used to be better, so if someone can find that pesky thing and send it back to me I would greatly appreciate it!

I loooove Chick-fil-A! Did you notice how my top two include food? That missing willpower again…My friend and I carpool together and we have been there at least twice a week in the past three weeks. Hey! Can someone tell me why the Chick-fil-A craving comes strongest on Sunday when it’s not open???

And…….I absolutely hate…..detest….abhor…CONFUSION! But as a middle school teacher, I see it a lot! But, I absolutely love…..adore… smitten with middle school children! You take the good with that bad, right?

Alrighty! Want to link up? Go visit Farley’s blog and follow the linkz instructions. And don’t forget the rule of 3….Comment on the two posts before yours and the one after!

Until next time!