Saturday, February 9, 2019


This is Shadow.  She is a 5 year old mostly black lab.  And she just might have saved our lives a few weeks ago.  

One day I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, when the dog shelter that I follow just posted a 9 month old pup up for adoption.  This dog didn't look like a mix, she looked like a pure-bread and I knew she was going to go fast.  My husband and I commented immediately that we wanted to meet her.  

The next day the four us drove two hours to New Jersey to her foster home and meet her.  And we feel in love.  We were told that another family was coming to meet her that day as well and the foster parents would determine which family seemed to be the best match for her. 

As we waited for the phone call the next day I knew that we would be devastated if she were to be adopted by the other family.  Luckily, they thought we were the best match.  This time my husband and I went to pick her up, this time without the kids.  The foster mother was crying and assured us that if we didn't want her, she would adopt her.  She is that good of a dog.

Shadow staying warm with below 0 temps outside.  

The last five years with Shadow have been ...... hairy, smelly, fun, and SAFE.  I take her along with me on most of my runs and I really don't worry about anything happening (unless a squirrel runs in front of us).  I'm not really a dog person, and if I'm going to be honest, I wanted a cat but was outvoted.  I hate the slobbering, the snoring, the sneezing in my cereal, constant need to go outside, and the sound she makes when she's licking certain body parts.  But I love this dog and would be wrecked if she were gone.  

This dog rarely leaves my side (unless there's food) and sleeps right beside my bed every night.  A few weeks ago we were all upstairs in bed and I remember listening to Shadow snore.  Then all of a sudden she jumps out of her bed and runs downstairs. She's barking and growling and I'm truly scared.  She's never reacted like this, not even for the UPS guy.  She doesn't relent and if anything she's getting more aggressive.  My husband grabs his gun and goes to check things out.  

My ears are at peak performance at this point.  Do I wake the kids up?  Do I hide?  Do I call 911?  What's my next step?  Then I hear my husband on the phone with 911 asking for police that there's a prowler outside trying to get into our house.  I hear my husband speaking (yelling?) to the person through the door that if he lets the dog out, she'll rip him apart.  And guess what?  The person left.  

Once we were all safe my mind started playing its favorite game: What if?  
What if the person got in the house?
What if Shadow slept through all of that?
What if we had a cat and not a dog?
What if?
What if?
What if?

I have a few tips for those of you who do have dogs:

1) Let the dogs barks.  I find that in most cases larger dogs do not bark as often as smaller dogs.  Whenever Shadow runs to the door and is barking....I don't ask her to stop.  I think it's great for people to know that a dog lives here and one that is territorial enough to bark.  

2) Don't tell people that your dog is harmless.  One time I was sitting on my front porch with Shadow and a stranger was walking up the sidewalks.  When he asked if he could pet her, I responded, "Of course, she wouldn't hurt a fly."  I immediately regretted that.  I didn't know that man.  I didn't know if he was scouting the place or just a harmless passerby.  Perhaps a better response would have been, "Sure, if I tell her that you're okay."

I guess you want to know what happened to the prowler.  Luckily the police were nearby and picked the guy up down the road.  By the way....I still want a cat.  

FYI:  In the time it took me to write this blog post, Shadow needed to go out THREE times.  *sigh*

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Pull Up Project: Month 4 Update

If you want to learn more about my Pull Up Project, you can read about that here.  CLICK HERE.

If I hadn't started this project, or at least told people about it, I would have quit a long time ago.  Sometimes I think to myself, "Why did I ever tell the students about this?".  It would have been so easy for me to quit if I just would have kept my mouth shut.  So here are my options: quit and be a quitter to my students, or just keep on working towards my goal.  I'll keep working towards my goal.  Overall, I am so glad that I told others about my's forcing me out of my comfort zone and I'm getting better at pull ups.

Spoiler alert:  I can complete 5 pull ups with a band!!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Pull Up Project: Month 3 Update

It's month 3!  At the beginning of November, I realized that I wasn't making the progress that I had hoped for on my own, so I decided to ask for help.  I joined the local CrossFit gym and I absolutely love it.  Well, I hate it while I'm doing it, but I can't wait to go back again.  I am seriously sore everyday now, no exaggeration.

While the main focus at CrossFit isn't pull ups (actually, we haven't done any), I am building overall strength.  I know that I will need a lot of strength to pull this off.

My focus for this month was to encourage students to ask for help if they need it.  There is no shame in needed help.  I need help with pull ups, they need help with Algebra, we both need to ask for help.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

I'm Done....Now What?

There is nothing more effective at getting a group of students to misbehave than having nothing to do.  I see it at home: If my older son doesn't have something to do, he will start picking at my younger son.  I see it at Sunday School:  If the students don't have anything to do when their parents drop them off, they start running through the building and chasing each other while screaming.  And of course we all see it in our classrooms.

I always have some kind of on-going task, activity, assignment, SOMETHING, that the students can work on when they have spare time in class.  When my lessons for that day call for something like that, my board will look something like this...

((insert image of board))

Homework:  I assign homework on schoology every Monday morning and it is due by Friday at midnight.  This way the students have all week to complete the assignment and can work on it at a time that is convenient for them.

Khan Academy:  I use Khan Academy to create longer and larger assignments than the homework.  I just did a smaller assignment as a test run, as I've never used Khan Academy with my classes before.  My plan is to give the students their assignment at the beginning of the Marking Period, and they have until the end of that Marking Period to complete it.  You can see a sneak peak of my teacher dashboard.

Old Stuff:  I allow students to reassess twice on any test.  They could use this time in class to prepare for retaking an exam or to actually take the exam (if there's enough time).  

I have found that with these three options the students ALWAYS have something to do.  And believe me, it has really cut down on the misbehavior in my classroom.  

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Pull Up Project: 2 Month Update

If you're new to my pull up project, click on the label "Pullups" to see all my posts about it.

This month's theme is to BE CONSISTENT.  So, yeah.  I did nothing to move forward with this project during the first half of October.  Then on October 15th it occurred to me that I only had about two weeks to make some progress.  At that point, I tried to do pull ups at least every other day.  I'll admit, I tried to cram for a pull up test and although I made progress, it wasn't near what I wanted to accomplish this month.  BUT I did make progress, and that is important to move forward and not backwards. 

Here is the link to this month's video:  Pull Up Project October Update

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Station Rotation: 10/9/18

I think the station rotation I did two weeks ago was a success and I plan to continue to use this on a regular basis in my Algebra classes. Here are the station that I used this week:

The class is 90 minutes long.  We started class with one set of entrance cards.  Students were randomly assigned to a station.  The students spent 15 minutes at each station. Finally we closed with an exit ticket. 

Classroom timer:  Click here.

I put instructions in acrylic frames at the stations where there is no adult.  Click here for those.

Station 1: New Material with Para

At this station the students are graphing equations that are not given in slope-intercept form.  This is something we have not covered in class yet and the small group instruction will be perfect for that.  I used a worksheet that I generated from the KUTA software that my school district purchase.  I assume I would be violating copyright if I shared that with all of you.  So instead, here is a link to their free worksheet similar to what I gave the students.  

Students were permitted to choose between stations 2&3.  They did not need to do both.

Station 2:  Create Something

Before class, I wrote out 60 index cards that each have an equation in slope intercept form.  At this station I put the index cards, poster paper, glue, graph paper, rulers, markers, color pencils, and tape.  The students were required to pick an index card and create a poster that had that equation on it, stated the slope and y-intercept, and had a graph of the equation.  Here is a small sampling of their posters.  

Station 3:  Digital

I found this quizizz on slope-intercept and decided this was a perfect addition to this week's rotation.  I wanted all my classes to use the same quizizz.  In order for it to stay open all day, I logged in on my iPad but didn't answer any of the questions.

Station 4:  Something Old with Me

The students are still struggling with equations.  I suppose we just have to keep at it.  This week we went over equations that have variables on both sides.  Again this was generated from KUTA.  Below is the link for the free version from them.

Station 5:  Interactive

I always want to have a station where the students are forced to interact with each other.  This time around I picked a Sum of 3 (or 4) activity.  Again I went for an old topic that needed revisiting:  Evaluating Expressions.

Exit Ticket

I created this exit ticket so that it incorporated one question corresponding to each station.  I collected these and did comments only grading.  

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Why I LOVE task cards

If you have never used task cards, you are missing out.  When I first heard about task cards, my thoughts were that they were kind of silly.  I mean, all you do is take the problems from a worksheet and print one problem on each card.  Why not just print the flippin' worksheet?  Here's why...

  1. Task cards get the student up and out of their seats.
  2. Task cards don't overwhelm the students.  They focus on one problem at a time.  I especially noticed my IEP students having less anxiety with the cards rather than a worksheet.  
  3. Task cards encourage self-teaching.  I like to use task cards that have QR codes so that the student can self-check and correct misconceptions right away.
  4. Task cards with QR codes are a novelty to my students.  My students like to use new technology and surprisingly many of them have never used or scanned a QR code before they came to my class.  

Before class I will make 2 sets of the cards and laminate them.
I place the task cards on a table near the front of the room and the students are allowed to take 1-3 cards back to their seats depending on how many students are in that class.  As the students finish the problem, they need to scan the QR code to check the answer.  If they are correct, they take that problem back to the table and get a new problem.  If they are incorrect, they must fix the mistake.  

Here are a few to get you started: