Sunday, 29 December 2013

Special "Half-Over" Sale

Seems like a good time of year for a sale. As you prepare to go back, just think, some of you are already half-way done another great school year! That's what makes me so happy to be participating in a special "Half-Over" Sale to celebrate the half-way point in the school year.

Here's how the sale works:
Save 20% off everything in my store on Monday, December 30
Save 15% off everything in my store on Tuesday, December 31
Save 10% off everything in my store on Wednesday January 1

Looking for something in particular? Make sure to check out these other great TpT authors who are participating in the sale as well. Just keep in mind, some percentages may vary by store.

Happy shopping and Happy New Year! I wish you, and your families, all the best in 2014!


Monday, 23 December 2013

How I survived the last week...

I hope everyone survived those last few days of school, and you are already enjoying the first few days of your holidays.

To say last week was a little crazy, would be an understatement! I don't think I even got a chance to sit down! The week started with our cocoa in a bag fundraising sale. In an attempt to raise money for our Brick by Brick campaign to build a school, we made our Rudolph and Santa cocoa bags.  I set up an assembly line production and we were able to get quite a few made in a short period of time. The kids loved making them and I think they turned out adorable!

Before we even held our sale, I had staff members placing orders, so we were already ahead of the game. The students even managed to get the majority of the supplies donated from some local businesses, so we were hardly any money out of pocket.

This sale ended up being far more successful than I could have predicted. We actually sold out the first day, so we decided to make more and sell for a second day. In the end, we made over 200 bags and  I very proudly wrote a deposit for over $325!! Every staff member I passed in the hall was telling  me how impressed they were with how much money my homeroom had managed to raise! Definitely a good feeling! I'm pretty sure we are going to win the prize for most money raised as a class, and the kids are super excited.

However, no matter how fun it was to make the bags and to make the most money, I still want my students to be aware of why we are doing what we are doing. There are far too many children that do not have the opportunity to go to school, and our main goal is to give all children the chance for an education. I want to make each of my students aware that they have made a difference in the life of another child in this world and they should be very proud of that fact.

The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone, but the things you do for others remain as your legacy.
 – Kalu Kalu

Now that the craziness of the sale is over, we put or focus on getting our holiday baking done. As a culminating activity to multiplying and dividing fractions, I told the students we would be making cookies. Before they were able to make the cookies, they had to show me that they could increase and decrease the recipe correctly using what they learned about multiplying fractions.

To make this activity a little more manageable, I split the process over a few days. Day 1 - we made the dough, day 2 - we baked, and day 3 - we decorated! It was a great way to end the week and the cookies looked great. I think I might have a future "cake boss" in my class!


...and that folks, is how I survived the last week of school.

Enjoy your holidays and Merry Christmas!


Monday, 16 December 2013

Gift #5...and a little holiday baking

4 more days!!!

This is the last week until Christmas break and I am sure most teachers are entering survival mode right now. It can be a challenge getting through these last few days. The kids are ready for the break, and you are most definitely ready for a break, so how do you keep them engaged?

I find the best way is to keep them busy with some fun, hands-on activities. We have been busily making our cocoa in a bags for the brick by brick fundraiser... it was looking like Santa's workshop in my room this morning. Tomorrow is our big sale, so I will update you on how much money we were able to raise.

We have also just finished up a unit on multiplying and dividing fractions, so what better way to increase their knowledge of the concept than to do some holiday baking!

I provided my students with a basic gingerbread and sugar cookie recipe, then gave each student a "real-life" scenario for them to solve.

In each scenario the student is required to either increase or decrease the batch depending on the amount of cookies they are required to make. How do they do that? Multiplying fractions of course!

Here's an example of a scenario...

Each student was responsible for completing two scenarios (one where the ingredients were increased and one where they were decreased). I selected which scenario each student received based on their abilities. Providing six different scenarios allows for a bit of differentiation.

Each student was then responsible for showing all their work in their math scrapbook. Once they had determined the new amounts, they were asked to re-write the recipe, using the new amounts, on a recipe card, and glue it into their scrapbook.

Now that they have shown me that they can do the math, I promised them we would actually bake the cookies. Wish me luck tomorrow. We are  making the dough and baking the cookies, then decorating on Friday morning!

If you are interested in doing this activity with your students to survive this last week, you can download your free copy here.

Now for your final gift of the season. This one will only be available for a short time so make sure you get it right away.
Click on the gift below to open your present!

Enjoy these last few days!


Saturday, 14 December 2013

We remember...

As educators, we remember and honor our fallen colleagues and their students from Sandy Hook School.  We honor them each day in our classrooms in which we continue their dream of teaching our children.  We honor their memory with our service.  Join with teachers everywhere in committing random acts of kindness to show our love for Sandy Hook.
Special thanks to Krista Wallden for the beautiful  image.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

I remember...

Almost year ago I remember scanning my newsfeed on Facebook, and coming across a few teacher bloggers who had written something about being saddened by the event that took place in Newtown. Not sure what they were referring to, I quickly turned on CNN. I sat there in shock, not able to look away, as my then 1 1/2 year old son napped soundly in the next room.

The events of that day shook everyone to the core, I am sure, but being a teacher, it certainly effects you in a whole different way. It happened in our "home".You start to question yourself, "What would I do?", What if it happened here?", "How can a school, of all places, not be safe?", and the question that I'm sure came to every parent's mind, "What if it had been my child?"

I thought of all the families whose babies wouldn't be coming home from school that day. The absence of the excited voices telling their parents about their day and the things their teachers had taught them. I thought about the teachers who made the ultimate sacrifice, because their immediate instinct was, and always will be, to protect their students...their children.

I would never pretend to understand what the staff, students and families of Sandy Hook Elementary went through that day, and continue to go through. It is such a unimaginable tragedy, that we hope never happens again.

So what can we do to show our support to the victims of Sandy Hook? It's always something that starts out small that can often make the largest impact, and I love how the people of Newtown have asked people to show their support.

The people of Newtown, CT, have asked  people to commit  random acts of kindness on December 14 to honor their teachers and students.

What will your random act of kindness be? I would love to hear about it.

Be safe, and keeping doing what you do.


Monday, 9 December 2013

Gift #4...and helping to build a school

Seeing that it is the season of giving, I've decided to help build a school...well my school has decided to help build a school. After a group of our students attended WE day this year, we have decided to start a school wide fundraising campaign, called "Brick by Brick", through the FREE the Children organization.

In many places, education is sadly taken for granted. I know most of my students would be ecstatic if they were told that they no longer needed to attend school, unfortunately for too many children around the world education is a luxury that is simply not available. There is no school to attend, no books to read, and no pencils with which to write.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
- Nelson Mandela

By raising money, we are hoping to provide an education to children in impoverished countries, by helping build them an actual brick at a time. To provide a visual for the students there are posters all over the school stating:

1 brick = $20,
500 bricks = 1 school

Each homerooms' goal is $120, but seeing that I am very passionate about this cause, and also an extremely competitive person, I want to surpass that and win the prize for most money raised by one class.

So here is the plan we came up with to meet/surpass our goal:

Donations - I asked each student to write on a piece of paper, how much money they thought they would be capable of bringing in. I told them it did not matter how much, just to be honest. I totaled up the amounts at the end of class and they claim they are willing to bring in $224 as a class! I also told them I would personally match their donations! I find getting them to put it in writing puts the responsibility on them and they are more likely to bring in the money. I also want them to see that I am also dedicated to making a difference through donating my own money.

Fundraising - We brainstormed as a class some easy ways to raise money. They came up with everything from a bake sale, dance, movie in the theatre, craft sale, hot lunches, and much more. We also got on the phone and contacted local businesses about the cause to see if they were willing to help us out.

So now that we have a plan, we need to put it in action. This week we are making hot cocoa in a bag to sell next week.

*Note - it is currently -40 degrees Celsius with the wind chill, so we thought hot cocoa might be a good seller.

I found some cute ideas online for reindeer hot chocolate and Santa hot chocolate.  Hopefully ours come out just as nice.

I'll let you know later in the week how our crafting went, and how our fundraising efforts are going.

So, in the spirit of giving back, here is your gift for this week. Click on the presents to discover your gift. Hopefully you can make use of them in your classroom.


Friday, 6 December 2013

It's a Frenzy...a Facebook Frenzy!

Are you ready for a little frenzy?

I'm super excited to be joining up with a group of teacher-authors to bring you an amazing assortment of freebies, exclusive to Facebook only! These freebies are geared for grades 6-12 and cover all the core subject areas.

This is my first time taking part in a Facebook Frenzy so I am very excited to see how it all goes, and am especially excited to see all  the awesome teacher-created resources I am going to collect along the way.

So, without further delay, let's start the frenzy...

Head on over to my Facebook page and click the tab at the top that says "FB FRENZY". You will be led to my freebie, once you download the freebie, you can "hop" to the next page by clicking on the snow man, collecting your freebies along the way.

Just a heads-up, these freebies cannot be found anywhere else, so you will want to take advantage of this, as they are only available for the next 4 days!

Enjoy the frenzy...and all the FREEBIES!


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Christmas came a little early this year...

Some amazing teacher-authors from TpT have put together a little something for you to celebrate the holidays...and it's FREE!

This is the 3rd annual TpT Winter Holidays Tips and Freebies Book. There are 4 versions and I am honoured to have been chosen to be a part of the grade 7 - 12 book. Within each book you will find a compilation of 50 teacher-authors who have graciously provided you with a holiday teaching tip and holiday freebie spanning a variety of subject areas.

Check out the grade 7-12 book here.

Special thanks to Addie Williams for putting it all together for us to enjoy!


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Math is Real Life - December Edition

It's that time of the month again, and I am eager to once again join up with the fabulous linky hosted by Miss Math Dork, 4mulafun, Fourth Grade Studio, and Teaching to Inspire in 5th! 
So here we are, the first Wednesday of December and I am definitely in Christmas mode.

Shopping season is upon us, and no matter how much I try to get things bought ahead of time, I am usually scrambling at the last minute to pick up those last few gifts. Christmas can be a very stressful time, especially on your wallet!

I've already informed you of my bargain hunting abilities, and the variety of ways I have discovered to save money. But one of the best things I learned about while researching ways to save money while I was on mat leave, was to take full advantage of any reward programs out there. Almost every store offers points for this and points for that, and I admit it gets annoying carrying around 10 different cards in your wallet. However, I came across one in particular that is an AMAZING program. It's called the Shopper's Optimum Program and it is run through Shopper's Drug Mart. Now I actually had one of these cards in my wallet since I was 18, but never thought much of it, until I starting seeing people post about $200 shopping sprees for free! That's right, I said $200...for FREE!

Normally, collecting enough points to really get anything substantial can take years. The average way to earn points is 10 for every dollar spent. However, if you keep an eye on the flyer, once a month they offer a one day special of 20X the points. If you shop on these days you can rack up enough points with a only a handful of shops in a year. This has been one of the best things I learned from all the other cheap mommas out there!

So I am here to say that it is possible to get something worthwhile from rewards cards in a short amount of time, you just need the right strategy. This is the third year in a row that I have gone on a shopping spree for FREE and I am hooked!!

Now normally this is the points redemption they offer:

But every year before Christmas, they offer a "Super Spend you Points Event" and they increase the amounts. I had over 100 000 points, so I was at the max redemption, which is normally $170, but for this weekend only they were bumping it up to $210!

So here I was holding the flyer in my hands, getting excited for my shopping spree, but before I could do that I needed a plan.

In order to redeem my points I needed to have at least $210 in products before taxes, so I needed to compile a list including prices...and of course I want to get the biggest bang for my buck so I also had to subtract any coupons I could find to match-up with the items I was buying.
I learned the need for a plan from experience. The first year I was all excited and thought I would go in and wing it. Needless to say I am standing at the till $40 short while my husband is throwing me anything he can find, and the line grows behind me. Not my finest moment.

So, the day of arrives and I have my shopping list in hand, my coupons organized in my purse, and an empty shopping cart. It's time to shop!

Normally most people use the points to buy electronics, but there was nothing in particular we needed, so I opted to fill my pantry instead and pick up a few presents at the same time.

So here is what I got..

A few items are missing, as they went straight into the fridge or freezer.

Now that I look at the picture, it doesn't look like a lot, but the best items were a few Christmas presents, including this digital camera for my 4 year old nephew and a cookbook for my sister-in-law.

...and here is what I spent...

The total cost of the items before taxes was $210.58 (we had to throw on a pack of gum at the end to take me over)

The total with taxes was $227.24

I redeemed 95000 points totalling $210.00

I paid.............. $17.24 (which I had a gift card for, so it really did feel FREE)

So there you have it, another example of one of my favourite ways to use math in my real save money!

Happy shopping this holiday season, remember to keep an eye out for those deals!


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Gift #3...and a BIG sale!

So, I feel like I have a lot to be thankful for this week. First off all, conferences are over, second of all it is officially December. There is only 3 weeks left until I am on winter break, and I am soooooo looking forward to it.

The countdown has begun! As of today, there are 15 more school days!  
Of course, that is not the countdown my son is concerned about, he's not thinking about when mom and dad get to be home with him, but more about when Santa Claus is going to come down the chimney.


This is the first year he is able to understand the concept of the advent calendar. I am so excited to finally put it to use. I actually made this one a couple years ago in anticipation for the day my child would be counting down the days until Christmas. I told him that each day he can open a tin and find his treat, and on the last day Santa would come. I quizzed him on the concept afterwards, and I think he's got it! :)

So, on to the next little surprise I have in store for you.
Click on the present below to discover this week's gift! Enjoy!
Stay tuned for a blog post on how I use this particular "gift" later in the week.
...and of course, yet another reason to celebrate... tomorrow (& Tuesday) is the big cyber sale over at TpT. Everything in my store will be 20% off, plus save an additional 10% at checkout with promo code "cyber". Time to empty those wish lists. After all Christmas is just around the corner, so now is as good a time as any!
Happy shopping!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Gift #2

If you missed my post from last weekend, I have decided to show you how thankful I am for all of you by surprising you with a few gifts over the next few weeks.

The arrival of winter, has definitely put me in the holiday season. A few decorations made their way up over the weekend and I spent my Saturday morning at a Christmas craft workshop, making my own Christmas centerpiece. I think it turned out pretty good. What do you think?

I am a crafty girl at heart, but have a hard time finding the time to be crafty. I have the vision for my yearly Christmas card in my head, so that is next on my to do list... along with a million other things...

Anyhoo...I guess you are anxious to see what your gift is this week.

Click on the present to find out!
This gift will only be available for a short time, so make sure to grab it!




Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Giving Thanks Giveaway

Well, Thanksgiving has already come and gone for me up in Canada. The turkey was cooked, the pie was eaten and it was all very delicious. But all my American friends are just getting ready for their Thanksgiving festivities, so why not use that as yet another excuse to show you how thankful I am for all of you.
I promised you some great things this week, so let's get to the next one on the list.  

 It's ........................ another giveaway, specifically designed for middle school teachers.

Middle School Giveaway

Krystal from Lessons From The Middle and Kate from Kate's Classroom Cafe have teamed up to create a giveaway just for middle school teachers, as a little thank you for all you do! I'm excited to be a part of this awesome giveaway and there are lots of fantastic prizes to be won! So, let's get to it!

Middle School Giveaway
Middle School Giveaway
Middle School Giveaway
Middle School Giveaway
Middle School Giveaway
Middle School Giveaway
Good luck!

Monday, 18 November 2013

It's the month of giveaways!

I told you there would be some surprises this month. Here is yet another amazing giveaway opportunity you do not want to miss out on!

I've joined forces with Tracee Orman and an awesome and talented group of secondary school teachers to celebrate the final countdown to "Catching Fire". Not being an ELA teacher (for very good reason, trust me), I have not had the opportunity to incorporate the Hunger Games series in my own classroom, but I will admit that I loved the books and am probably just as excited as most of the teens out there to see the latest movie. So what better way to celebrate than a giveaway, and this is a big one with 26 teacher-authors offering up more than $100 worth of resources!!

Click the image below to find out more.

Good luck!


Sunday, 17 November 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like...

I'll let you be the judge.

Here is the view outside my house today...

and here is the view inside my house...

It is definitely looking like winter, and I have to say it's beginning to put me in the holiday spirit.

It is so easy to start complaining about the cold temperatures, the shoveling, and the terrible driving conditions, but seeing the look on my son's face when he looked out the window this morning made me quickly forget about such things. After all, we chose to live in "winter"peg, and we should know what to expect by now. Watching the white snow fall slowly to the ground is definitely a beautiful thing!

Anyways, the weather has put me in a giving mood, and seeing that the holidays will be here before we know it, I thought I would show you how very thankful I am for all of you out there in blogging land. Click on the present below to see your first gift of the season.

There are a few ways I plan to show my gratitude in the upcoming weeks, so stay tuned.

Pssssst...It involves more presents and a giveaway...shhhhhhhhhh!

Enjoy the weather, wherever you are.


Thursday, 14 November 2013

It's an "all new" Giveaway.

Who doesn't love a giveaway???

Especially a really awesome, amazing, fantastic giveaway!!!

I am so excited to be joining up with an amazing group of TpT authors, to help our friend Meg, over at The Teacher Studio, celebrate her one year anniversary with her "all new" blog.

Today you have the chance to enter to win 12 - $10 shopping sprees in some fantastic TpT stores, geared for grades 5-6. Yes, I said 12!! That's $120 worth of free stuff if you win, and the best part you get to pick what you think will work best in your classroom.

Head on over to "The Teacher Studio", by clicking the image below, to get all the details.

You do not want to miss out on this one!

Good luck!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Reports are DONE! Time to celebrate!

I am very happy to inform you that, as of 10:45 p.m. last night, I submitted my last class of report card comments for term 1. They were due at midnight so I had 1 hour and 15 minutes to spare!
Every year I promise myself that I will get them done ahead of time, but somehow they always seem to sneak up on me.

Reports are definitely time consuming and we have had the format of ours switched on us twice in the last few years. So it seems every year, something a little different is expected of us. Gone are the days of clicking on the pre-made comments, "so and so does satisfactory work" and poof, you were done. We are now required to write individual comments, highlighting each student's struggles, challenges, and goals, which I am all for, as it actually makes the comments meaningful and worth reading (at least I hope they get read, seeing that I spent the better part of my weekend writing them).

Even though I am in total agreement about writing individual comments, sometimes my attitude isn't so positive at around 10:00 at night, when I find myself staring at my computer screen, with those last few students left that you just can't seem to put two words together for to save your life.  I am sure more than a few of you know what I'm talking about.

So, this term, I was determined to make things a little easier on myself. I spoke to a teacher across the hall, who always seems to have her reports done a month in advance, and she told she gets the students to write the comments. Now let's think about this for a minute, I don't trust my own grammar and spelling at the best of times, how am I going trust my grade 8's to write their comments? Of course, she didn't mean literally allow them to write their comments in my grade book, but why not have them tell me, what they feel they struggled with, what they felt was a challenge, and what they hope to achieve next term. I feel that I know my students fairly well by the end of term 1, but I don't necessarily know how each of them feels about their growth over the term, and I am all about reflecting and journaling in math class, so this is what I came up with.

After I handed them out, I started by explaining the grading scale. I wanted to make sure to come up with kid friendly language that they would all understand. Second, we brainstormed about what concepts we have learned this term and filled in the top chart. Third, we also thought back and made a list of specific assignments they could reference in their answers on the back page.

Now that I have a good idea of how they feel they did this term, I am always interested to see how it compares with how I feel they did. Far too often, I find kids do not give themselves enough credit. Most of the ratings were pretty close, if not identical to what I had assigned them. But the part I was most interested in was the answers on the back. I find these answers to be a life-saver when writing comments. When I got stuck on a particular student, I would read their answers, it would jog my memory, and in the end it made for a much more personal comment that I know the students will connect with when they read it.

I will admit that once they hand them in, I immediately flip to the last question on the back to see the responses. My main goal every year is to get my students, all my students, to become more confident in their math abilities, and actually enjoy math. This answer let's me know if I am succeeding.

Here's a few that stood out. I hope you can see through the terrible penmanship and  grammar...

...and since in reality, teaching isn't all rainbows and lollipops...

Now, it may not seem that I am making much of an impact on this particular student (and trust me I am trying) but I did happen to catch her explaining an assignment to another student who had been absent, and I hadn't even asked her to. Plus she was explaining it correctly! So progress is being made, slowly but surely.

If you think you could use this reflection in your own math classroom, you can download your copy here.

So here we are at the end of the term, it feels like a little celebration is in order.
I want to take this time to tell you about a little (it's actually quite big) giveaway that I am taking part in this week.

My blogging buddy Meg, over at "The Teacher Studio" is celebrating her brand new blog design with an amazing giveaway. Some amazing teacher authors have donated $10 shopping sprees in their stores. Each day is a different grade range so head over to her blog to check out the details. I am being featured on Thursday in the grade 5/6 package, so I will have some more info for you then. You don't want to miss out on this one.

Good luck!