Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Unmotivated Reader...

A few days ago, I looked up from my guided reading group to scan the classroom. I was frustrated to see my independent readers NOT READING. A few of them were actually staring at me. Creepy. I redirected and moved on.

Fast forward to today. At our school, we do "Books and Breakfast", so after my students complete their Morning Message, they grab some grub (we eat breakfast in the classroom) and they read while they eat. Well.... we used to. Today, I looked up and noticed breakfast eaters, Morning Message-ers, but NO READERS.

I was freaking out, y'all. My READERS weren't READING. My kiddos went from telling me EVERY DETAIL OF EVERY BOOK to nada. Zilch. Nothing. I went from, "Ohhh, you made ANOTHER connection??? Really? Already?" to "Put your nose in your book!"

I knew my fourth graders were not enjoying reading.
And I knew I sounded like a JERK telling them to READ, READ, READ when they SO did not want to. I mean, isn't throwing tiny pieces of paper at your neighbor more interesting than that Big Nate book?

So I asked my kiddos to come up with some ideas to help re-motivate them (not gonna to lie, I may have "planted" some of the ideas).

My sweet kiddos said, "Bring back the reading logs!" and I thought, I reeeeaaaaally want you to enjoy reading without having to log your time because that makes it feel like something you have to do, not want to do, so I replied with, "OK, let's think of a way we can record our reading."

My sweet kiddos said, "We could summarize our chapters!" and I thought, Eh, I don't want to read 239 summaries (DON'T JUDGE ME), so I replied with, "OK, let's come up with a way to quickly summarize what we're reading."

I'm going to quickly sum up how the rest of our brainstorming session went:

Me: "What if we write book reviews!!"
Kids: *Intrigued*
Me: "After y'all read, you could summarize your book and rate it so your friends know if they should read it!"
Kids: "We could give our books stars!"
Me: "Sure! How about 3 stars!"
Kids: "Make it 5!"
Me: "Ok! 5 it is! And let's make sure we don't give away the ending... So let's just summarize the beginning and the middle"
Kids: "This sounds fun!"
Me to myself: THANK YOU, LORD! My kids want to read again! And I have a quick way to check what they're reading!

I'm not going to lie, I haven't tried out the book review thing yet... So I can't swear that it works. I'll definitely update y'all once I try it out. BUT I will say my kids are SO STOKED about reading. Like, so stoked they were ready to write reviews on sticky notes!

So yeah... I'm pretty excited to show up maƱana with these review papers. I think I might shut down the classroom for some major D.E.A.R. time so they can really dig into their books.

I want YOU to try out these, too! So I've uploaded them for you to use FO' FREE! Because all kiddos  should get all jazzed about reading! Just click the pic to be taken to the download!

If you download, PLEASE let me know how your kiddos like these review papers! They're short and to the point. Book Title, Beginning, Middle and Rating. BOOM.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Rock and Teach Review: National Geographic Puzzle Explorer App

Hey all! Happy Sunday! And to some, happy loooong weekend! We have MLK day off (Monday) and Tuesday is a teacher work day. So next week is only three-days-of-teaching long! I'm definitely going to take advantage of the day off to SLEEP and the work day to CATCH UP on grades, data charts, anchor charts, room redecorating, etc, etc, etc... I'm thinking I may need more than one work day.... EEK! lol

I'm so excited to review an awesome new FREEEEE app that you can start using in your classroom TOMORROW. Because it's FREE. And AWESOME. Do you have students that like Minecraft? I know mine do... That's why I was SO gosh darn excited about the National Geographic Puzzle Explorer App!! 
This app allows kiddos to build puzzle mazes using different types of blocks (very Minecraft-y).

Thanks to Donors Choose and the most generous donors EVER, my classroom has FOUR iPads. WOOT! Last week I downloaded the app on all of our iPads and let my kiddos explore. The intro gave the students all the information they need to be successful with this app. My tech savvy kiddos had no problem picking up how to solve a puzzle and create a puzzle. 
Some of the awesomeness my students found was: 
   - They get to SOLVE puzzles 
   - They get to BUILD puzzles and then SHARE with their friends to see if they can solve them
   - There are CAMERAS within the puzzles that lead to cool pics and information 

Some of the awesomeness I found was:
   - When they're SOLVING puzzles, they're working on problem solving and logic
   - When they're BUILDING puzzles, they're planning, sequencing and strategizing
   - The CAMERAS expose them to gorgeous, eye-catching pictures full of informative facts

My favorite part of this app is the pictures and information my students are exposed to while "playing". Included in the FREE download is pictures and facts about the Yucatan Peninsula. Other packages include Antartica, the Himalayas, the Nile River (OMG I LOVE EVERYTHING EGYPT) and the Australian outback! Fabulous, aye mate? 

After the initial exploring, I decided to have the kiddos write down these fantastic facts they came across. We're studying information texts in reading right now, so it was a PERFECT tie in. The kids were so excited to find info their friends hadn't found yet and share with the class... They ate this fact finding activity up and didn't even realize they were getting all educational-y! And LOOK at that picture!! 
Check out some of the other fabulous features! 
- 48 National Geographic Photo Fact insights from 5 Regions around the World.
- FREE Yucatan Region; Purchase the Exploration Package with Antarctica and the Himalayas. Purchase the Expedition Package with the Nile River Valley and the Australian Outback.
- Easy to follow multimedia step-by-step maze design Instructions make creation easy and fun.
- 20 unique obstacle blocks can be mixed and match to provide thousands of puzzle designs!

I already loved the Nat Geo Puzzle Explorer App, but made me 100% decide to put this app into our iPad rotation time was the reviews my kiddos gave. Cutest part was THEY wanted to review it. One even gave it five stars!! 

Straight out'ta the mouths of my 4th grade babes: 

Wondering where you can get this fab app? iTunes, of course! Click the pic below to be taken to the iTunes preview! 

Want more information on the app? Check out the Puzzle App website HERE! There are links to info for teachers and parents!

Don't have iPads in your classroom? Then check out THIS great paper puzzle craft-ivity by Nat Geo! I see a math connection here with all those 3D shapes!! 

Are you thinking of downloading? I'd love to hear your thoughts! 
Do you already use this app? I'd love to hear how you're using it in your classroom!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Happy 2016! I hope you had a fabulous holiday season!

My Christmas and New Year FLEW by. I remember there being a lot of time with family, friends and food. Like, ALL THE FOOD. And there were naps... So many sweet naps.
Over the holiday, my baby boy turned THIRTEEN! I now have two teenagers in my house. YIKES. We also spent a few days at our family ranch house gettin' our cowboyANDgirl on. All in all, it was a fantastic two weeks!

I thought a fun way to start off the year would be to host a FEEDBACK FRENZY that all my TPT, Facebook, and IG peeps can take part in!

How do you Feedback Frenzy?
The answer is simple. And awesome.

  • Download as many of my FREE products as you want (there are 22 to choose from) OR make some purchases (thank you in advance for this one!).
  • Leave feedback on the items you downloaded / purchased.  
  • 1 feeback = $1 to spend IN MY STORE! On WHATEVER! 

YES, you're reading that correctly. You can earn AT LEAST $22 to spend in my store. And that's just from the FREE STUFF! 
If you've purchased any of my products, you can earn even more than that. WHAT! 

Once you're done with all that downloading/purchasing and feedback-ing, email me at with the following info:
  - Subject line: Feedback Frenzy
In the body, please tell me:
  - Your name and email
  - How much feedback you left (example: 7 feedbacks)
  - What products you would like (feedback value must match product value)
Rules and Thangs
  - Your Feedback Frenzy email must be in by 11:59pm CST on January 10th. 
  - Please be patient, it may take me 1-2 days to get you your products :)
  - Feedback value and product value must match (products with cents in the price will be rounded to the nearest dollar). 

THANK YOU for taking time to download or purchase my products. 
THANK YOU for taking the time to read this blog. 
YOU encourage me to keep doing what I'm doing. 
YOU ARE A BLESSING. And from the top, side and bottom of my heart, I thank you! 

Now go get your feedback on!