1,000 Followers Giveaway

Thursday, February 16, 2017
In the summer of 2013, I put a few comprehension packets I had typed up for novel study on Teachers Pay Teachers.  In July, I made a whopping $2.10.  Nonetheless, I was excited that anyone found my products and made a purchase.  Then in August, with back-to-school, my sales skyrocketed to $72.83.  I was hooked!  I remember stressing with Brent over whether or not to pay the $60 per year fee to be a premium seller on TPT and keep more of my profits.  "We spend that eating dinner out, Deana," he reasoned with me...so I did it.

Slowly, my TPT store became more and more successful and I began to revise, add covers, try new ideas, bundle products, etc.  I toyed with other kind of products, but Novel Units are my passion.  I've always loved schoolwork more than any other kind of work and this extension of my job became my favorite hobby.  In my spare time, without fail, TPT is what you'll find me doing.

Two years later in late summer 2015, I attended the TPT conference in Las Vegas.  After the conference, I paid Megan Favre to design my blog and began tracking my TPT statistics.  Whether they have purchased an item from you or not, buyers on TPT have an option to "follow" your account and be notified when you post new products and receive messages from you.  In August 2015, I had only 300 followers although I was in the top 2% of sellers site wide.

Last school year I took all four classes to get my AIG certification and unfortunately blogging and TPT had to take a backseat.  This year, I'm back at it and aiming to take it to the next level in 2017.

This week, I reached 1,000 followers on TPT!  I've been watching that number track closer to four digits for a long time and I'm over the moon excited!  Realizing that many people are paying attention to my work on TPT makes me want to give back and I'm celebrating with a 1,000 Follower Giveaway!!   Enter below for the chance to be one of TEN lucky winners to have a Novel Unit of your choice ($10 value in my TPT store) emailed directly to your inbox.  There are over 50 titles to choose from!

You'll also receive bonus entries by liking my Facebook page and following me on Instagram and Pinterest.  The contest runs for one week and winners will be announced next Friday, Feb. 24th.

By entering, you'll be subscribing to an email list.  I'm planning a ONCE a month email with updates on new products, teaching tips and, most importantly, giveaways!  You don't want to miss out on all I've got planned.  If you're a teacher, I hope you'll join me and if you aren't, please share with the favorite upper elementary teachers in your life!

A few of my Novel Units include:



Do You Kahoot?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
I don't think there's a THING my students enjoy more than Kahoot.  Not cupcakes, not extra recess, not even a homework pass. Someone asks me almost daily, "When are we playing Kahoot again?"

Kahoot is a FREE interactive online game that the teacher controls from a laptop hooked to a display (Smartboard, projection screen, large television, etc.).  It's so easy to set up your own account Kahoot and start creating games.  You can begin by clicking "get a kahoot" at the bottom of the page.  Students play by logging on with any wireless device- iPods, old cell phones, laptops, or my favorite: Chromebooks.  Students key in a code that comes up on the display screen when the teacher begins the game and give themselves a "nickname" which will identify them during the game. I require that my students choose a recognizable name, although sometimes they still get interesting.  Students can play individually or in partners or small groups.

One note about nicknames: last year I had a student named Cassidy and a student named Jack.  They partnered up and they insisted to me that the website was rejecting every name they tried.  It turns out because Cassidy's name contains a bad word and Jack's name is Jack, they couldn't find any combination of their names they could use.  Kahoot is really good at catching "naughty nicknames" as they call them.

As the teacher clicks through the questions on the front board, students click on the color/shape that matches their answer on their own device.  As if the element of timed competition wasn't enough to keep the kids hooked, jazzy and suspenseful music throughout the game.  Kahoot is probably the most engaging activity I do in my classroom and it can be adapted for any subject.

I have mostly used Kahoot for vocabulary review for my novel units.  Look me up under username JustMrsJones to use my public Kahoots that match some of my TPT Novel Units.  I'm always adding more!  I'm super excited because Kahoot just added a new game called Jumble.  In this game, students do more than just answer multiple choice questions; they must correctly ORDER four answer choices.  This will make for great sequencing, spelling and what we did used it for in class today: math!  We played an ordering fractions game and my students loved the extra challenge that Jumble offers.

Speaking of adding new features, Kahoot is always improving and changing.  The last time we played we were excited to see they had added this cute "Podium" screen at the end to recognize the winners instead of just the usual leaderboard.  It also updates you throughout the game about who is on a right answer streak, who hasn't missed any, etc.  Truly, my students and I can't get enough!

How do you Kahoot?


Proud Product of Public Education

Saturday, February 11, 2017
I am a proud product of public education. When I was a kid, no other option occurred to us. Sure, we knew a couple of kids who went to Christian school and once in a while we encountered a family that homeschooled. But by and large, you walked to the bus stop, the yellow bus picked you up and you went where it took you. 

In elementary school, I attended three public schools, including the one where I now teach. At each one, I felt safe, loved and nurtured. Starting at five years old, I spent my days with people who were like me and some who weren’t so much like me on the outside or on paper. The beauty is I didn’t realize or care, because I was too young to know the difference. 

My fourth grade AG teacher is one of two public school teachers that I credit with my career path. I have vivid memories of the discussions we had in class, the projects we did together and “the look” she gave us when we knew we were going to have to sign the behavior book. She had standards and she expected us to live up to them. School wasn’t just a place we went; it was an experience we shared.

In middle school, I qualified for a gifted program and my dad spent three years carpooling from our town to a nearby city every day in his 1984 Escort. (I was born in 1983, so you do the math). On Friday nights, that same Escort dropped me off at “parties” across the county where we played Spin the Bottle and watched scary movies. But by day, we read quality literature together, studied cultures from around the world, and played silly, imaginative games at lunch.  (We were dorks.)

Lessons from these three years of public education are still the ones that I flash back to most often when my husband and I play Jeopardy each night. I couldn’t begin to tell you how much I learned those three years, but I do want you to know this: public school met me where I was and prepared me for a future I couldn’t yet imagine.

I attended high school back in my hometown where I worked my butt off to graduate pretty high up in a competitive class of a few hundred. I say that to say this: I attended private college but only because my public education prepared me to score well enough on the SAT to earn a full tuition scholarship. My college years were dedicated to learning how to give back to public schools as an educator, as I spent countless hours observing, volunteering and student teaching in public schools. 

I’m so thankful for my public school experience. It made me who I am today, along with my abiding church experience and the masterful “schooling” my parents no doubt did at home in addition to our daytime education. Kudos to my parents for trusting a public school system with their daughters when no doubt it had to have been challenging at times.

Here’s the thing people fail to realize about public schools: no one (teacher or student) is there because it’s the easiest thing to do. We’re all there, day in and day out, because it’s the right thing to do. Public schools promote community, diversity, tolerance, and most of all, an education that emulates real life. Despite its flaws, in my opinion, there is no greater establishment in our amazing country.

The other public school teacher with whom I credit my career path is my 10th grade English teacher. She had us write an essay about what we’d like to do with our lives. Before beginning, I told her I was undecided about a career choice because even though I wanted to teach, I worried about selling myself short. She leaned in close, looked me in the eye and told me she never wanted me to think such a thing again.  “There is no more honorable profession,” she said emphatically. 
I believed those six words the moment they came out of her mouth, and I’ve never stopped believing- not this week, and not ever.  Politics and practices will change, but the principles behind public schools won’t change. There's an army of honorable public educators who love children and believe in doing what’s right that can promise you that.


Cross-Multiplication is Not a Trick

Monday, February 6, 2017
A few times in my teaching career I've been advised against teaching cross-multiplication when comparing fractions.  The argument posed is, "It's a trick," and students need to understand the process, not just memorize a trick.

For all the arguments against Common Core (I personally love Common Core, but that's a topic for another post), the change in standards has shifted our focus from product to process in a way that was much needed.  We don't just do long division anymore; we do repeated subtraction and partial quotients.   We don't just do multi-digit multiplication anymore; we do partial products and use the distributive property to break apart the products.  And in my classroom, we don't just cross multiply anymore; we multiply each fraction by a whole number.

I agree that students shouldn't just learn a "trick" but cross-multiplication is not a trick.  It works because you're taking a shortcut for multiplying each fraction by a whole number fraction with a numerator and denominator that matches the denominator of the opposite fraction.  The numbers you write at the top when you "cross-multiply" are simply the numerators of the equivalent fractions that is produced in this process.  Once my students understand this, I don't mind if they just write the number at the top and "cross-multiply" the same way I don't mind if they take shortcuts in other math operations.

Today I worked with a student after school on comparing fractions. (That's the actual paper we used to work on.) While we were "cross-multiplying" he said, "No one's ever really explained that to me before." As a teacher, no one had ever explained it to me either; I just took the time to figure out why it works.  That's the thing about math-- there aren't really any "tricks."  Everything works for a reason.  Our job is to make sure they understand all those reasons, one by one.