Let’s Get Acquainted Linky (Week 3)

I had the greatest time participating in Flying Into First’s “Let’s Get Acquainted” linky party!  This week’s linky is….

 The NOUN Game
The noun game is where you simply just name your favorite person, place, thing, and animal.
Gosh that’s a toughie!  I have such wonderful family, friends, and sorority sisters.  If I have to name just one, I will have to say my daughter!  I am so proud of her.  She is autistic and wasn’t even talking at the age of three.  But now she is seven and is talking her (and my) head off!  She has had a wonderful group of teachers and therapists and is blossoming so much.  She is moved out of a self-contained placement into a resource and is killing 1st grade!  And first grade is hard (I’m sure you first grade teachers would agree)!

My Terrific Kid!

My favorite place is wherever my family is.  Every year we vacation somewhere together and have the best time!  This year we’re going back to Disney World only because my dear daughter insisted on going.   We just went two years ago when she was five. Her papa was determined not to disappoint her.  He’s already made all of the arrangements.

The Fam! <3

Any and all things technology – especially my iPad and phone.  With these two babies I can do pretty much anything.
Growing up I had two dogs.  They were both killed in accidents. 🙁 But the dog is not my favorite animal.  My favorite animal is the panther.  It is so beautiful, sleek, and dangerous!!  Plus, it’s the mascot for my Alma mater – Claflin University! 🙂
Now, that you’ve learned more about me, I’d love to learn more about you!  Head on over to Flying Into First by clicking on the pic and link up!
Until the next time,


Two Truths and a Lie Reveal

Last Sunday I linked up with Flying Into First for her “Let’s Get Acquainted” linky party. This week’s theme was Two Truths and a Lie and now it’s time for my BIG REVEAL!

#1 – I lived in Italy for a year. TRUE
My Dad was in the Air Force, but my mom wanted us to have a stable home, so I technically wasn’t a military brat. Since she was a teacher, we spent our summers wherever he was and he came home on his leave days. My dad’s last overseas stay was in Aviano, Italy. As the story goes, my mom went over to Italy for a year and came back with me as a bun in the oven. When I was almost two, we spent the year in Italy with him. Of course, I don’t remember it, but I do have pictures to prove it…..at my mama’s house…..

UPDATE! Found a pic


#2 – My girl group performed at the Apollo Theatre when we were in college. TRUE
I sang on my college choir the entire time I was at Claflin. On our yearly tour my freshman year, we met someone who had an inside with Showtime at the Apollo. Although we were a concert choir, we sang all genres of music…..verrrrrrry talented if I do say so myself. Our groups name was ENCORE. The idea was that we would kick it off and then other groups within the choir would then go. We were so sure that we were going to the Big Apple to be superstars (move over EnVogue), but it was not to be. We didn’t win at the Apollo, but turned out to be a BIG hit on the Atlantic City boardwalk….but that another story to tell!


#3 – My husband and I dated for 10 months before we were married. LIE
My husband and I were college sweethearts and we dated for 10 YEARS before we got married. This year is our 10th anniversary, but I have spent my entire adult life lovin’ that man! And it’s been more than worth it! 🙂

Our Wedding Portrait!

Five for Friday

Today is the last Friday before Spring Break….yippeee! And it has been a whirlwind of a week!  For this first time eva…..I’m linking up with Doodlebugs for her Five for Friday!


The rules are simple…..post five random things about your week.  Post on your blog and then go over to Doodlebugs and link up!


1.  We had our standardized writing test this week.  We made it through!!  I created prize cards for each student and set requirements for them to earn their teacher’s initials.  On Day 1, students had to make sure they used a graphic organizer to plan, colored pencils to highlight voice strategies  (compound and complex sentences, SAT words, and vivid vocabulary), and have a clean final draft.  On Day 2, students had to annotate beside their multiple choice answer choices.


Out of our 110 students…..90 made it to the party.  And boy did we party!  We shut down our hall and had activities in each room.  We also provided them with mini ice cream sundaes.  I’m not sure who had more fun – the kids or us!  I had so much fun I totally forgot to take pictures! 🙁


2.  I created a Facebook page this week for the blog.  If you get the chance, stop over and like my page……*shameless plug*


I am really excited about sharing my professional experiences with friends and colleagues.  This will also give me a chance to utilize a different media outlet to reach other teachers.  Here is my favorite post pic so far…..


3.  I’ve been invited to present at the UTC (Upstate Technology Conference) this summer!  I am so excited!  After the last conference I attended, I decided that it was time to start putting myself out there.  I’ve really gotten into the technology integration and I think that’s the route I want to take.  So here goes….


4.  Since this week was so serious with the testing, I thought we’d spend the last two days doing some unserious work. *smile* Insert “The Ransom of Red Chief”.  If you haven’t read this short story do it now!  It is about to swindlers who decide to kidnap a little boy.  But in the classic O. Henry style, nothing happens the way it’s supposed to.  It’s a great story to teach irony and I found this awesome internet resource to use:  Internet Academy – The Ransom of Red Chief


5.  I’m determined to get back on the healthy fitness track.  My exercising has definitely been sporadic lately.  It’s time for me quit whining and do something about it, hence my new toy.  I’ve purchased another heart rate monitor to hopefully get me motivated to work out harder.


So here are my Five for Friday, what are yours?  Click on the Five for Friday pic to head over the Doodlebugs and link up!

Let Me Just Make It To…..Spring Break…..Linky

from Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life (public library)

D-Day is here!  My students take our standardized writing test tomorrow and Wednesday.  Ummmm….Prozac anyone?  My principal asked me if we were ready…..well, ready or not, it’s coming.  I’m very proud of my students, they’ve worked very hard over the past few weeks with the last push.  This is the first time I’ve ever been teaching a group that has been tested in writing and I am a bit…just a wee little bit….oh let me just come out and say it…..totally and completely nerve-wrecked!

I am trying to keep calm, because I want my students to be calm on tomorrow. It’s that mixture of “Do your best or I’ll kill you” and “Do your best because I know you totally and completely know you can do this”…….I hope that I can pull it off tomorrow…..wish me luck!

Nine 8 1/2 more days until Spring Break so I’m linking up with Brigid’s Daily Lesson Log for her Spring Break Bucket List Linky Party!

I’ve spent 15 years between North and South Carolina and my Spring Break has always been around the Easter holiday.  Not even in 2011 when Easter was at the end of April (which were the longest winter weeks of our life!), did we make any adjustments to that tradition.  How shocking it is to find out that other states (even some that are in the Bible belt) have Spring Break during any other time!!

Last year, baby girl and I had different Spring Breaks (I wasn’t happy….but I was happy), but this year we’ll be together.  I’ve got great things planned for us and hopefully a few days at Nana and Papa’s or Grandma’s house.  🙂  And hopefully my hubby will play hookey with me for a day or two!

Here are my grand plans!!

illustrations courtesy of JWIllustrations


What are your plans??  Click here to link up!

Let’s Get Acquainted Linky Party

Linky parties are so fun!  Tonight I am joining up with Flying Into First with her Let’s Get Acquainted Linky Party!


This week’s theme is:  2 Truths and a Lie

How it Works:
Think of 3 things about yourself or your life.  You should make 2 of them truths and 1 of them a lie.   You can list them on your post in any order.  Do NOT give the answer yet in your post.  People will try  guess your lie in your in the comments of your post.  So remember to be very creative so that it is hard for people to get it right. At the end of the week you can share the answer in your comments from the post or include it in a post you make at the end of the week.  I hope this is understandable.  Mine are below….
1.  I lived in Italy for a year.
2.  My girl group performed at the Apollo Theater when we were in college.
3.  My husband and I only dated for 10 weeks before we got married.
Don’t forget to visit the 2 people that linked up before you and leave them a comment/follow/or just read their post.

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…..so 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…..am 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!


Love ♥


I’m linking up with Moxie for her “Teaching with Moxie” Monthly Photo Challenge!

It’s simple! Link up with a photo of something that fits the monthly theme. For February, the theme is “Love”! The picture can be anything that fits the theme and is teaching-related. Then, write a brief post about the picture, why you chose it, and Link Up! Even better than showcasing your love for teaching will be the fact that you can win a $10 gift certificate to TPT for participating!

Here are my loves (I couldn’t choose just one) 😉


We are lucky enough to have access to a netbook computer cart. Students are able to use the computers at least once a week to create assignments using Web 2.0 tools, blog, and practice ELA concepts.

Students have created Vokis, mini posters using PowerPoint, Wordles, etc.


The ActivExpression devices are mini miracle workers! They get the most off task child involved in a lesson and it gives me immediate feedback on whether students understand what we’re working on. I use them every single day! Our school district follows the EDI (Explicit Direct Instruction) model and the devices are perfect for our “Checking for Understanding” component. I embed questions frequently throughout my lessons and it makes the lessons go so smoothly! Students can answer multiple choice, true or false, sequence, and likert scale questions; they can even text in words and/or phrases!


So here are my loves….what are yours?

Until the next time!


Now That’s What I Call Teamwork! and February Currently

Our sixth grade team of teachers is a real team!  We love our jobs – we love our children and we’d do just about anything to help them become successful.  We work together so well – I AM BLESSED!  I know that our situation is the exception – not the norm – and for that I am truly grateful.

A few months ago, I had a half day meeting at the district office.  Since it is so difficult to get substitutes to agree to come in for 1/2 day, we decided to split our 110 children into three groups.  So these groups were anywhere between 35 and 37 kids….in one classroom…..for 90 minutes!  But it worked! And we’ve realized (after having to do it once last week and twice this week) that we’ve got some really great kids  too!  Our new schedule took away only two changes for the students – but it really made a big deal with their “excitedability”. (Yes, I know that’s not a real word!)

Our SS partner was our sick for two days last week.  We thought it would be only for one day and I was planned for that because students were finishing up a quiz.  But day two…..kinda threw me for a loop.  I thought about it all night, Friday morning, well actually about 15 minutes before the kiddos got there….and Eureka! it came to me.  We were finishing up Euphemisms so I created a mini project for them….Euphemism posters.  Students used PowerPoint to create a poster on a one Euphemism.  See an example below:


I am especially proud of this kid for many reasons….:-)

But the #1 reason there is a smile on my face is because of this:  My last period class is a elective class to assist students with preparation for our standardized test.  But since I had mine and my partners, I allowed students who hadn’t finished their project to finish.  And I didn’t have to do a thing!  I printed out multiple copies of the directions and students who had finished their projects helped those who hadn’t.  I was so proud of these students!!  Plus we used DropItToMe for the first time….and it was NO headache at all…. 🙂


Check them out here!

Euphemism Poster Creation on PhotoPeach

And now for my February Currently!  Thanks to Farley at Oh’ Boy Fourth Grade for hosting this really neat monthly activity!


DD and I are visiting my parents today and they have no willpower!  It’s been NickJr. ever since we stepped into the house. Sigh…..SpongeBob SquarePants has never been a favorite of mine….

My blog has been selected for inclusion in the list of the Top 25 Middle School Teacher Blogs of 2012. If you’re interested, click on the link here.  It took me three years to even get the nerve up to start a personal blog….how excited am I that people are noticing my hard work.

I’ve talked about our 1:1 mobile device initiative in a previous post (I think?) but it’s now really becoming a reality.  My team submitted a group proposal so that all of our students would get the iPads and my principal is pretty sure we’ll be approved.  I also received an email complimenting me on our proposal and was even asked if I would be ok with my ideas being shared in our initiative.  And the final hurrah was being asked to be one of the first teachers for our graduate school class.  Now, it’s not as if I don’t have enough to do (my family thinks I do too much already), but this is a wonderful opportunity for me.  I received my administration degree in 2010 and have been debating what I really want my educational course to be.  Since being back in the classroom after budget cuts – I’m slowly coming to the realization that my niche is technology integration.  I’ve even been contemplating getting an Ed.D in Instructional Technology.  As always, I will put it into the hands of the Lord and allow him to direct my path.  He has never (and will never) steer me wrong!

I want to talk about my “needing”, but I get anxious just thinking about it!  I told my principal somebody better get me a prescription of Xanax.  I love teaching reading and I love to write – but I absolutely hate….strongly dislike teaching writing to sixth graders.  OMG….nuff said.

So anyway…I’m skipping down to my “Pet Peeves”….

#1 Lazy Kiddos – uggghhh….Middle School is hard……6th Grade is the hardest! Our kids go from having one teacher in 5th Grade to having SIX teachers in 6th Grade! Whew!  And many elementary schools are fond of social promotion.  I have at least one student every year who failed EVERY CLASS last year and was PROMOTED!!! What?????!!!!!  So when they get to us and they have to pass aaaallllll classes it is a great shock. You should see some of those sweet little faces at the end of the year – DISBELIEF!  It’s downright comical in a sad, sad, way….

#2 Tapping – More specifically tapping me on my arm/shoulder and repeatedly calling my name….Mrs. J….Mrs. J…..Mrs. J……..WHAT?  Oh, I absolutely despite it…..

#3 Complainers – We are so blessed at my school and school district. Promethean Boards, ActivExpressions devices, laptops and soon (cross your fingers) iPads! But sometimes (like every day) I hear a complaint about something. “These computers are too slow” (Bring your own from home – oh! you don’t have one), “My device isn’t working right” (Ok, get out your whiteboard then), “$.050 for a pencil??” (Tell yo’ mama to go to the store and buy you some), and on and on and on.  Just once I would love to hear “Mrs. J. we are so blessed!” Just once…..or maybe once a day…..

Alrighty now! If you’re going to link up remember to follow the rule of 3 – Comment on the two blog posts before yours and one after.  Who knows the connections you’ll make?


Later guys!

Best Books for Boys

As I’ve stated many times before, I love to read! And as a middle school teacher I try everyday to instill a love for reading into all of my students. But, as I’m sure you know (and have heard before), boys are tough nuts to crack. Because of this, I’m linking up with Courtney over at Swimming into Second to promote the Best Books for Boys linky party and giveaway.



Here are books that my middle school boys love:


The Watsons go to Birmingham 1963 – Christopher Paul Curtis
This book is hilarious! I always read the first chapter aloud and by the time we get to the section where Byron has his lips stuck to the outside rear view mirror, we are all in tears!

Scorpions – Walter Dean Myers
The boys love this one because the main character is a boy. Now, although there are many differences (the setting is in Harlem and we live in a very rural area, for one) we talk about the importance of making good decisions as well as bullying and learning how to say no.

Forged By Fire and Tears of a Tiger – Sharon Draper
There isn’t a Sharon Draper book that I don’t like, but again the boys seem to gravitate toward books where the main character is a male.


They also love the Bluford series…and…..


The Baseball Adventure Series by Dan Gutman.

If you’re interested in participating, click on the linky party image that’s at the top of this post to get into Swimming In Second’s initial post. Oh! Before I forget, there’s also a chance that you can win a
$25 Amazon card giveaway…..


So you get access to great books for our boys and a chance to win? What more can a teacher ask for?