Tattling vs. Telling

We have had a lot of issues of tattling in my third-grade class lately. It is very difficult to find a balance between we are a class community, like a family, and we need to help each other and work together, and everyone worry about themselves and then everyone will be taken care of. 

So today we talked about tattling vs telling. 83f659b7fe4c0f66a71474bda7a4e881.jpg

I think the biggest mindset shift for my students is going from “trying to get someone in trouble” to “keeping someone safe and helping them.”

They also can handle a lot more problems than they give themselves credit for. When a kiddo comes to me to tell me someone stole their pencil or whatever, my first question is, “well what did you say to them?” Most of the time their response is “Nothing, I came and told you!” I want to get them out of that habit, because 9 times out of 10 it was just a miscommunication or accident that can easily be fixed without my help.

Kids also have a very strong sense of justice and they want everything to be “fair.” I discuss that further in an old blog post you can read here. So we really need to switch our thinking and ponder how we can help each other and NOT just try to get each other in trouble.fair isn't equal.jpg


Student Led Conferences

I am SUPER excited to tell you guys about my plan for upcoming student led parent teacher conferences! Many student led conference plans I’ve seen include the teacher spending tons of time making giant portfolios for each student. I am not a fan of that. My plan is much simpler.

During daily 5 rotations the week before conferences I am going to meet one-on-one with each kiddo to go over what they are going to say during their conference. I also emailed the parents to let them know what to expect. They should plan on their child being in charge (I’m hoping to not talk much except to support the kiddos and answer questions. Maybe I won’t lose my voice this time around!) It’s important to emphasize to the parents that if I had any major concerns I would have already contacted them. No surprises at conferences!

Here is what will be included in students’ conference folders:

  1. A poem for their parents: We’re working on free verse, shape poems, and acrostic. They could be about their parents or about something we’re learning.

FullSizeRender (1).jpg

2. iReady reports: These take some time for the kids to understand, but I had them write notes on the forms themselves about their scores, their growth beginning to middle of the year, and what sections they did best and worst on. IMG_3657.JPG

3. Goals: After we go over their iReady scores a lot of the kids use those to help them set a goal for themselves. This kiddo chose to work on social studies.


4. Their last math test. I had the kids pick one problem to explain how to solve it to their parents. It could be one they got right or wrong.


5. Writing- we just finished our state non-fiction books. This is an example from one of my lower third writers.

FullSizeRender (2).jpgFullSizeRender (3).jpg

How do you do student led conferences? 

The Power of Music

Music is a super powerful tool for learning. When I was little my mom would put my spelling words into songs becuase that was the only way I would remember them! And this old commercial jingle is the only reason I know how to spell bologna:

When I was in third grade we learned a song that contained all 50 states in alphabetical order, and wouldn’t you know it, I can still sing the whole song today! In fact, I teach that song to my third graders now.

I got a lovely email from a parent about this song:

Christie, I hope you had a nice long weekend! Thank you so much for the 50 state song. We were blessed with our son singing it every day, all day since Friday. We decided to ski yesterday in part so we could wear our helmets to block out his beautiful singing voice. This reminded my wife and I of years ago when Wiggles songs would get stuck in our heads for weeks on end. You can ask him to sing it for the class as he has it down pat!!! 😉 Thanks for all you do and caring so much about the kids!

And that same kiddo went home and found a bunch of cool videos about the states to share with our class. Here is one of them!

There are learning songs online about almost everything.


Long Division:

Ancient Rome:

If you’re about to tell me you’re not really a singer, get over that, your kids will not care, and start singing! 🙂


Bone bone bone bone bone bone muscle muscle muscle muscle muscle muscle muscle tibia tibia knee knee Ribcage Ribcage Ribcage Ribcage Ribcage Ribcage movement movement skeleton skeleton skeleton skeleton skeleton skeleton skeleton calcium tissue broken-bone broken-bone patella femur bicep bicep bicep triceps joint joint joint joint ulna ulna radius tendon humerus compact-bone spongey-bone marrow medullary-cavity periosteum carpals wrist skull skull skull humerus collarbone heel fingers shoulder exercise exercise strong strong strong abs spine heads legs legs legs teeth foot hands arms arms heart elbow 

That looks like a very odd assorted blurb of words. I had my kids at the beginning of our human body unit write down any word they could think of that has to do with bones and muscled. (Some of them used their resources. I already had a few posters up on my walls.) And then I put their reponses into a word cloud using Taxgedgo. We’ll do this again at the end of the unit. This is a great visual to show how much we learned!


There is a slight flaw in this system. It got the text from my blog post, and it included a few extra words like the title of my blog and all the months down the right side of my archives.


I’m a firm believer in precepts; words to live by, life quotes, mottos, really just listening to people smarter than yourself. In my classroom, we have a new words to live by phrase every week. Here is some life advice from some wise people (or their characters) that were lost to us this year:


Back to Basics

I’ve changed myself all around as a teacher this year, trying to fit myself into all sorts of boxes that I didn’t fit in. Trying to appeal to my students, to engage them. Well, all I succeeded in doing was making myself unhappy and stressed out. So I’m going back to what I know, how I enjoy teaching, and I’ll continue to adjust for my students from there. But right now I’ve gotten so far away from myself that I’m lost and that definitely impacts my teaching.

Back to basics, back to non-traditional, back to “deskless,” free choice, no assigned seats, better use of my classroom space, teaching kids to really be accountable for their learning.


Next Semester will be great!

Books, Books, and More Books

There are 18 days left in my 2016 GoodReads Challenge of 125 books. As of December 12th, I’m currently at 116 books. This is two books behind schedule, but my GoodReads schedule doesn’t take into account that I have 15 of those 18 days off from school 🙂 Jammies, tea, cozy red armchair, and books here I come!

So I have to read 9 books in the next 18 days. Thankfully I am a reading multitasker, reading multiple books at the same time (but not simultaneously. That would be crazy.) At any given time I am usually reading a teacher book, a third-grade book (for myself,) a third-grade read aloud for my students (which I totally count,) a Christian book, and a YA or adult fiction book.

I need 9 more books. Here is my plan for the rest of the year. It may change depending on my mood 😉