Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Back to School Time at TpT!


Hi everyone!

I just wanted to give you a heads up about the TpT sale that's going on now. Most sellers have their stores at 20% off and you get extra from TpT!

I know a lot of us aren't in school mode yet, but it's probably a good idea to think about school for a little bit, then get back to the pool, book, or Netflix show!

You can get things laminated, cut, and organized too! Click the pic to head to my store.

Happy Back to School Time!
Thursday, July 19, 2018

Math Mysteries - How Your Kids Can Use Them to Strengthen Math Skills

I love using Math Mysteries with my kids at school. They get such a big kick out of them and they don't mind doing math to solve the mystery. To help show just what a math mystery is, my sister helped me make a little video. Check it out!


I have math mysteries for a variety of grades (2-4) and even bundles:
  • winter/Christmas/New Year's
  • Valentine's Day
  • March Madness
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Community Helpers
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
My math mysteries are based on Common Core State Standards for their respective grades.
Click here to see them in my store and get ready for a great new year!
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Immigrating to America - and a Giveaway for the Sale

    Well, we are heading for America and Ellis Island! Our classes are preparing to land soon, so I had the kids create a profile for themselves.
First, each child chose a country and then researched common names, clothing, location, etc. so they could create their likenesses. I think they did a darn good job, don't you?
     Next week, we are going to a neighboring school for a simulation of the Ellis Island experience. I'm not sure who's more excited, me or the kids! I think they are pretty nervous because we have been talking about all the things immigrants had to go through to get into America.

    The thought of being detained is a little daunting, but I think it's a good experience for our little millennials. (Is that what they are, or is there a new generation name for them?)
     I'll let you know how the simulation goes. I don't want to give out too much information-just in case one of my kiddos read my blog. HA!


On another note, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a SALE this Wednesday, February 14 and Thursday, February 15. AND, guess who has a gift card to give away? Yep, that's right, I DO!

Be sure to head over to TpT to start piling goodies in your shopping cart!






a Rafflecopter giveaway
Sunday, January 21, 2018

It's Wrong to Hate



Welcome to the new and improved Rockin' Teacher Materials. I thought it was time for a face lift. What do you think? My sister Sabrina created the header for me. I think it came out pretty neat! Thanks Sabrina!

This year when I was getting my room ready, I decided to make a sort of  'Graffiti Wall' using collaborative posters since Sabrina had some in her TpT store! The MLK poster is our latest creation. I absolutely love  this and the message it conveys especially in our world today.




With heart and helping hands a child can accomplish anything.




This is the collaborative poster we started the year with. I absolutely love this one because the kids get to decorate hands and they come out looking so unique. What a perfect way to celebrate our differences!

How do you help your kids learn important life lessons and learn to celebrate differences? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Thanks for stopping by! I've missed you!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Fishbowl Discussions

Fishbowl discussions have really energized my classroom this year. The kids BEG to do them! We have used them with poetry, fables, short stories, and novels. We have even used them to discuss hot topics like the presidential election!
When I set up the fishbowl:
· Half the class sits on the floor in a circle and the other half sits in a chair on the outside of the circle.
· Sometimes I pick the kids randomly, but usually I choose a mix of outgoing and reserved students.
· I ask an open-ended question with room for interpretation to the students in the inner circle.
To ensure successful discussions, there are guidelines we follow. The inside circle must:
· State supported ideas
· Agree or disagree with a speaker and provide supporting or refuting information. PROVE IT!
· Make connections to the conversation.
· Do not interrupt a speaker.
· Do not speak a second time until everyone has had a chance.
The outside circle listens quietly while jotting notes or thoughts they may want to contribute later.
The students may be a little self-conscious at the beginning of the discussion, but usually warm up once the conversation gets going. I tell the kids they are talking to the group, not me. My job is to sit and listen to the discussion and not intervene for about 8-10 minutes. Although, I do sometimes need to redirect the conversation when they get off topic or start repeating the same thing, in different ways.
This page helps me stay organized. I just write the kids’ names in the boxes according to where they sit in the circle. During the discussion, I make a check mark for people who have spoken and keep notes so I can follow up after time expires.


If you would like to organize your discussions, just check it out by clicking the pic!


Thanks for stopping by!





Saturday, April 22, 2017

In Memory of My Angel, Jamison Mackenzie Bell

I don't know how to start this post. It's been almost 7 months since I've even written anything, but now I feel like I need to speak up about a tragedy I never thought I would have to endure.

Almost 7 months ago, on September 28, 2016, my life came to a screeching halt. My middle son, Jamison Mackenzie Bell, took his own life. He was just 25 years old. He apparently had had mental health issues for quite a long time, but he was very good at masking his true feelings and emotions.

In January 2016, he traveled to Virginia to help build a monastery. By the middle of February, he called me and asked me to come pick him up. We made arrangements for the next day, but the next morning I received a call from a safety officer telling me they had my son at the hospital. Apparently, he walked up to a police officer and asked for a ride home to Indiana. I guess he hadn't been eating but had been drinking lots of coffee and seemed to be in a manic state. Daniel and I rushed 10 hours in the snow to Virginia. We were only able to visit him an hour a day, so we spent 23 hours wasting time in a hotel until we could go. 

The hospital in Virginia was wonderful! It was obvious they cared about my son and actually worked so hard to help him get better. He was there 10 days but he wanted to come home desperately. The hospital wasn't completely comfortable letting him leave, but we made arrangements in Indiana and assumed they would have the quality of care we received in Virginia. Nothing could be further from the truth. In Indiana, they have some places you can go for a few hours a day for group counseling. They do have some inpatient facilities however, you have to have a plan on how you are going to harm yourself or someone else in order to be admitted. Consequently, Jamison didn't have a plan at that time, so there was no place for him. 

The psychiatrist he had was shocked by the amount of information sent from the Virginia Hospital. He said that most times 10 days would be on about 10 pieces of paper. Jamison had about 100 pages in his report and it was very thorough. We then asked for genetic testing to make sure Jamison was on the drug that was best for his genetic make up. This doctor refused and said that the one he was on was a good one and it should work. (Should being the operative word.)

The medicine did control manic episodes, but Jamison's depression was unbearable. We finally convinced this doctor to give him something for the depression. Well, of course, we didn't know what the best medicine for Jamison was, so he decided to just take a stab in the dark. He started taking this new drug and was gone a few weeks later. 

I'm not blaming the medicine necessarily, but I am irritated that doctors and insurance companies and lawmakers don't see the value in something as simple as a cheek swab to determine the best medicine for a person based on their genetic make up. It seems like it would save insurance companies a ton of money in the long run. Plus, maybe I would be sitting here laughing with my wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, generous, sweet, and loving son instead. 
If you or someone you know has issues with mental illness, NAMI is a good place to get more information.



So now, I have a 'new normal' in my life. So, just what is Normal after your child dies? 

Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realize someone important is missing from all the important holidays and events in your family's life. 

Normal is feeling like you can't sit another minute without getting up and screaming, because you just don't like to sit through anything anymore. 

Normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand 'what ifs' & 'why didn't I's' go through your head constantly. 

Normal is reliving the event continuously through your eyes and mind, holding your head to make it go away. 

Normal is staring at every boy who looks like he is Jamison's age and then thinking of the age he would be now. Then wondering why should I even imagine it because it will never happen. 

Normal is every happy event in your life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind, because of the hole in your heart. 

Normal is telling the story of your child's death as if it were an everyday, commonplace activity, and then seeing the horror in someone's eyes at how awful it sounds. And yet realizing it has become a part of your "normal." 

Normal is each year coming up with the difficult task of how to honor your childs's memory and their birthdays and survive these days. And trying to find the balloon or flag that fit's the occasion. Happy Birthday? Not really. 

Normal is my heart warming and yet sinking at the sight of something special Jamison loved. Thinking how he would love it, but how he is not here to enjoy it. 

Normal is having some people afraid to mention my son, Jamison. Normal is making sure that others remember him. 

Normal is when the funeral is over and everyone else goes on with their lives, but we continue to grieve our loss forever. 

Normal is weeks, months, and years after the initial shock, the grieving gets worse, not better. 

Normal is not listening to people compare anything in their life to this loss, unless they too have lost a child. Nothing compares. NOTHING. Even if your child is in the remotest part of the earth away from you - it doesn't compare. Losing a parent is horrible, but having to bury your own child is unnatural. 

Normal is taking pills, and trying not to cry all day, because you know your mental health depends on it. 

Normal is realizing you do cry everyday. 

Normal is being impatient with everything and everyone but someone stricken with grief over the loss of their child. 

Normal is not listening to people say things like "G-d may have done this because…" 
I know Jamison is in Heaven, but hearing people trying to think up excuses as to why a fantastic young man was taken from this earth is not appreciated and makes absolutely no sense to this grieving mother. 

Normal is being too tired to care if you paid the bills, cleaned the house, did the laundry or if there is any food. 

Normal is wondering whether you are going to say you have three children or two because you will never see this person again and it is not worth explaining that Jamison is dead. Yet, when you say you have two children to avoid that problem, you feel horrible as if you have betrayed the dead child. 

Normal is asking G-d why he took your child's life instead of yours and asking if there even is a G-d. 

Normal is knowing you will never get over this loss, not in a day nor a million years. 

Normal is having therapists agree with you that you will never "really" get over the pain and that there is nothing they can do to help you because they know only bringing back your child back from the dead could possibly make it "better." 

Normal is learning to lie to everyone you meet and telling them you are fine. You lie because it makes others uncomfortable if you cry. You've learned  it's easier to lie to them then to tell them the truth that you still feel empty and it's probably never going to get any better -- ever. 

And last of all... Normal is hiding all the things that have become "normal" for you to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are "normal."


I am trying to take care of myself and I am seeing a therapist, drawing as a sort of meditation, and writing in a journal. My journal is mostly made up of letters to Jamison. I tell him what happened during the day or what's going on with the family. I even tell him about the little signs that remind me of him.




 I feel him around me all the time and I am so thankful for the the dreams and signs and I am constantly looking out for them. People might think I'm a little silly because I always seem to be talking to birds. But that's OK, people can think what they want, it makes me feel better.














If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 
1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

https://afsp.org/



Sunday, September 25, 2016

SWAG Tags - For Kids with Swagger

I just can't get enough of these SWAG tags! Since I've moved to 3rd grade, I love them even more. When the kids earn a tag, I put their name on the back, and they put it on the chain. I guess a little maturity helps the fine motor skills! And, since I love using whole brain teaching, I just had to have some tags to go along with that! I even made some male teachers to my tags as well.  I love the ball chains I got too. Here are the ones I bought:




I store my tags in a divider box and use Post-it Flags (680-EG-ALT) to divide them by topic. I also put them in ABC order so they are easy to find. (I put everything in ABC order!)
Before I hang a tag on a child's necklace, I put their name on it with Sharpie Retractable Ultra Fine Point Permanent Markers, 3 Colored Markers(1735794)
I also put a bead in between the tags so people can admire the accomplishments of my little rock stars.  


I have a spot where the kids hang their swag tags. That way, they have a place to store them at the end of the day, or when they don't want to wear them. Some kids like to leave them hanging and just stop to look at them once in awhile. Others, wear them for awhile, then take them off for lunch, P.E., etc. It's interesting to watch!



My munchkins are absolutely loving these tags. They earn them for working their way up our 'Super Improver' Chart and for all sorts of other accomplishments as well. 
Just click to check out the freebie to check out the SWAG tags. If you like them, there are a bunch more to get rolling in your classroom! 















              Photobucket
Saturday, August 20, 2016

How to Make the Move to a New Grade and Live to Tell About It

Hi guys!
     Yep, it's me, Hilary and I'm happy to report that I survived my move from 2nd grade to 3rd grade GT! And as much as I hate to admit it, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! Here are a few things I noticed on the first day of school:

  • The kids intuitively know what to do when they come in!
  • They can actually sit down and wait for more than 2 minutes!
  • They don't ask you 40 questions in the first 5 minutes of the day!
  • They don't constantly have a boo-boo that needs a band-aid!
Bottom line . . . they aren't little kids anymore, they are just kids who know what school is about. 
     So, on that first day I decided I didn't want to rattle off a bunch of rules and expectations or do a bunch of 'getting to know you' activities right off the bat. I wanted the kids to 'do school' and have fun. The rules and expectations don't have to be preached and will most definitely be addressed, but not in our first hours together. Here's what we did after everyone arrived:
  • The kids sat in a circle and told me their names. Then, I went around the circle to say their names back to them. I got them all right on the first time around . . . as usual! LOL
  • We stayed in our circle and did a Drama Circle. We had so much fun being dramatic. Drama circles require the kids to actively listen, wait their turn, cooperate with classmates, and follow directions. It is a fun activity that helps them learn to be comfortable in front of their classmates in a non-threatening way. (Read more about Drama Circles by Jen Runde.) It also told me a lot about the different personalities in our class. We did a different drama circle 3 days in a row. They kids are BEGGING to do more! We will, too!
  • After breaking the ice,  the rest of the day went as smooth as silk. We did do a few 'getting to know you' activities, but after our drama, we were all friends.
My advice to you if you are moving grades, just remember why you became a teacher in the first place:
  • You have a heart for kids.
  • You want to make a difference in the lives of kids.
  • You enjoy watching light bulbs go on for kids.
  • You actually like kids.
  • Kids make you smile and even laugh.
  • And the list goes on and on. . . No matter what admin throws at you, just remember, it's just about the kids!
  • Oh, and one more thing . . . you just need to stay one day ahead of the kids! LOL
I know some of you are just gearing up for 
school so it's time to do some shopping! If you'd like to win a Teachers Pay Teachers $10 gift card, just in time for the ONE DAY sale at TpT. Just enter for a chance to win!




You might want to check out drama circles....They ROCK! Stop by my store for a back to school stardust poem freebie as well. 


Have a great year!




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