December Currently (A Little Late...)

I'm a little late, but better late than never :)

Listening... to Food Network.

My husband has been traveling a lot for work lately (waaahhh), but that also means I get to watch whatever I want whenever I want. I love Giada!

Loving... Teaching poetry.

I was never a huge fan of poetry growing up, but my mentor teacher loved it and passed down that love to me. My 5th graders are loving it too! We are using a poetry unit from Mrs. Renz class. It's wonderful... Go check it out by clicking here.

Thinking... About the last two weeks before break.

I'm thinking about these last two weeks, not because I want break to be here, but because I can't wait to do all the great stuff I have planned.... poetry, fraction cookie recipes for parents gifts (check it out by clicking here), books for my students... so excited!

Wanting... To live at Barnes and Noble

Enough said. :)

Needing... To get some (ok, all) Christmas presents.

Again, enough said. I REALLY need to but presents for everyone on my list.

Favorite Traditions... All day Christmas

I have a HUGE Italian family and we spend all day of Christmas together. We eat breakfast, open presents from my aunts, uncles and cousins, then hang out for the afternoon, then eat dinner, and open presents from my grandparents, have an auction with quarters, get quarter fairy bread (my Nane goes all out).... it just never ends and it's so much fun.


Mrs. Cahill

TeachersPayTeachers Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sale!

Hi friends,

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a site wide sale on Monday and Tuesday. They are taking 8% off and I have made my whole store 20% for the whole weekend through Tuesday. 

Have fun emptying (ok, ok, ok... minimizing your wish lists.) Happy shopping!


Mrs. Cahill

How to Survive Your First Year of Teaching

Hi teacher friends,

I have been on the most major hiatus from my blog. I will be the first to admit it is because.... I am a first year teacher... *sigh*

I have been extremely busy (like most... no... all teachers out there) but I feel like this gave me the best idea ever for a blog post.... Surviving the first year of teaching. I, like all first year teachers, have been on an extreme learning curve this year and I don't want to let all this learning (at my expense of course) to go to waste. So here is my advice for surviving the first year of teaching.

1. Steal. Steal. Steal.

Ok, don't actually steal supplies from the work room, but do steal ideas from other teachers. These are the words of Harry Wong, author of the book, The First Days of School. I was able to watch a clip of him in college and my school implemented his program this year. I still remember him being on stage yelling "steal, steal, steal." Every time you see, hear, or feel something going right in another classroom, ask that teacher what she is doing. Don't worry... they will always tell you, and if they don't, you don't want their advice anyway (but seriously, I can't think of a single teacher who would be crazy enough not to share their ideas).

Whenever you get a chance... you know, in your free time... go into other teachers' room and steal their ideas. You will always learn from every single teacher you watch. Trust me. Just get in there and start stealing.

2. Procedures. Procedures. Procedures.

I will be 100% honest and say I learned this one the hard way. You see, I spent the first few weeks before school trying to organize my room, decorate every flippin corner of it, plan every single minute of the first few days of school, and imagine how I would survive back to school night. All are very important, but I didn't really know what my procedures would be for each part of the day...

How would I make transitions quick and effective? How would I run my math rotations? Could I even handle math rotations? How should they write their names on their papers? How should they turn homework in? What should they do first thing in the morning?

Don't get me wrong, all these things crossed through my mind, but I just kind of figured that they would eventually evolve. Not the case. Don't worry about your room being decorated perfectly, or how parents will feel about you on back to school night (just smile and show how flippin excited you are to be teaching their child). But do think about how you want your day to run, how you will transition, how your math will look, how kids will walk in the hall, how they should write their name on their papers, and exactly what they should be doing when they walk into class in the morning. You won't regret it.

3. Communication. Communication. Communication.

I committed to two things this year and they are the two best things I ever did. I send home a weekly newsletter every.single.week. and I send home progress reports every.single.week. I will be honest and say that the progress reports kill me because I have to type them up myself every week and I have to really stay up to date on my grading, but parents love it! They always know exactly what their learner is missing or behind in every.single.week. and there are no surprises come time for final grades. And that means no frustrated parents or students because they always know what is going on.

My newsletter also holds me accountable because I always input what we are learning in all subjects, all the homework, and any special events. It makes me stick with the plan because it is what learners and their parents are expecting.

4. Join TeachersPayTeachers

When I say this, I don't mean that you should join to buy other teachers' products (but keep doing that if you already are because there is amazing stuff on there). I'm saying you need to get on there and sell. It will change your life because it will make you really think about every single thing you create because you want other teachers to use it because it is good. I don't know how to explain it so just do it. Seriously. Have you done it yet?

5. Learn. Learn. Learn.

Just forgive yourself right now because you are going to make mistakes. I know that people always told me that and I was either like "No, I will be the best first year teacher ever," or "Great, I will probably make the worst mistakes ever." Neither one happened.

I made small mistakes here and there (see procedures for a perfect example) and they didn't end my career. Most of my mistakes were things that only bothered me and that I wish I wouldn't have done. All you can do is learn. Every time I do something that doesn't work (or even that does work) I try to write it down on my lesson plans because it will only make me that much more prepared for my second year of teaching.

6. Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy

Everyone always talks about how you just have to survive that first year of teaching, but I also remind myself to soak it all in because, if you think about it, you will never have a first year of teaching ever again. I will remember every single one of my students from this first year because of the influence they will have on my teaching career for the rest of my life.


That's all my brain and life has time for right now, but I'm so glad I finally documented something from this crazy first year of teaching and I hoped it help all you first year teachers (or maybe even, not first year teachers who needed a small reminder) out there.


Mrs. Cahill

TPT Sale! Whoop Whoop!

Link to my store to get 25% off for 2 days only! 

I just updated my new Common Core Math Journals. My kids love them and it really pushes their thinking as mathematicians. See you there! 


Mrs. Cahill

October Currently

It feels like it's been forever since I have been on my blog, but thanks to Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade I forced myself to get on here because I love doing her currently. 

I'm listening....

Law and Order: SVU. I love this show but I'm really just listening to it because ever since I became a teacher, I don't really know what it's like to actually watch t.v.

I'm loving...

My 5th grade class. The first year is no cake-walk, but I have to say I absolutely love my 5th graders. They make going to work so wonderful.

I'm thinking...

That I would love to know what it's like to just "go home" at night. I don't even know what it's like to not come home and work. Maybe after the third year or so I will know what a work/life balance is. Good thing my husband has an iPad and a t.v. to keep him occupied.

I'm wanting...

To go to Las Vegas. Self explanatory. It's pretty nice that it's only about a 6-hour drive or 1 hour flight from Grand Junction. Be jealous :).

I'm needing....

My 5th graders are reading all these amazing books and I'm so jealous of them in reader's workshop. I wish I could just lay down on the floor with them and just read.... The Maze Runner, I am Number Four, the Percy Jackson series, Tangerine, City of Ember, Suzanne Collins new series.... yeah not fair!

Trick or Treat:

I love those dang caramel apple suckers...

Have a good weekend!


-Mrs. Cahill

My 5th Graders are FUNNY. No seriously! They're hilarious

So I know kids are funny, but I have an unusually hilarious group of kids. They serioulsy make me laugh all the time. It makes it hard to stay mad at them :).

I have been dying to share some of the stuff they say so here are some of the gems I have heard/read.

"You need a better teacher's lounge. It's not very loungy."

"I found a book!.... And apparantly my pants are on backwards..."

"Yes! I'm finished! Darn it... There's always gotta be a back page..."

Here is a great response from one of my students from her science book scavenger hunt. Check out question 2. This kid isn't lying either!

The students had to write a descriptive story about their shoe so that someone else could find their shoe based on the description. One of my students asked, "So would I say my shoe and sock like to make-out all the time?"

One of my students made herself right at home by having her own desk organizer when she came in. She is very concerned about it at all times and this is the note she left for the "bad guys" during our lock down procedure practice:

While my students were making their towers in Tower Topple Team building one of the towers started to lean further and further one team member shouted, "It's gonna be the leaning tower of pizza (pisa), cuz it's leaning all right!"

And last, but certainly not least, I have these magnet clips that never stick so they always make their way to the floor. A couple of my boys found them and thought they were clip-on earrings :).

I will make sure to post more material as my kids come up with it because I feel like I could already write a book on this stuff!


Mrs. Cahill

I am Happy Happy Happy!

Hi teacher and cooking friends!

So I'm not gonna lie. I have been struggling with figuring out an effective way to do my math workshop. I basically had 384 suggestions and ideas for what to do, but everything I tried was driving me crazy. I knew I needed a way to individualize work for students, yet still have them working in groups so they could learn from each other. Easier said than done! 

I finally got an idea from another teacher of how to individualize the instruction, but I had been changing math workshop around so many times that I wasn't sure the kids could handle "Ok, we are going to try something different today" one more time. So this time I wanted wanted to make sure that what I did actually worked, was organized, and that (most importantly) the kids would actually get excited about math workshop.

So what was the answer? Duck Dynasty! Duh! Haha Ok so that wasn't exactly the answer to the math workshop portion of things, but it did work! My kids were soooo excited to learn about the Duck Dynasty Math Workshop board all day, that I barely had to teach them what to do by the time math workshop came around. The just followed the procedures layed out on the board.  Even better? They are actually learning! 

Here is a picture of our math worksop board:

Basically the kids each have a math workshop card with 5 different items on them. 
Then I can rank them in the order they have to complete the tasks. 
I just printed them out and laminated them so I can erase and change the order ranking as I need to.

The five tasks are 

1.) Bookwork/extra practice

2.) Common core math journal (Number and Operations in Base Ten in my tpt store now! Other standards coming soon.Click on the image to check it out!)

3.) A math game aligned to the lesson (center game/activity in my tpt store too! Click on the picture below!)

4.) Extension work 

5.) Khan academy. 

I am still able to split the class into manageable groups and they never say, "I'm done. What do I do now?" They just have to look at their workshop card, which is now called the Duck Dynasty board, N and get to work. They absolutely love math workshop now! Who knew that was all I needed to organize my math workshop?!

I hope to have many of the items above in my store soon so you can check them out if you think this might work in your classroom as well.

Happy teaching!


Mrs. Cahill

P.S. Here is a sneak peak of the bookmarks I made. My reader's workshop has been going great, but maybe a little Duck Dynasty will make it even better! 

Tower Topple Team Building

Tower Topple Team Building!

Now that's a bit of a tongue twister! So what is it?

Ok, so I have neglected my blog for weeks now, but I am cutting myself some slack because I am a first year teacher :). Understandable right?

On that same note, we did this activity during the first week of school (which was....oh, I don't know.... 4 weeks ago ha) but it was such as success that I wanted to share it with you.

My kids were put into groups of two and they were given 2 large pieces of construction paper, 1 medium piece of construction paper, 10 strips of a construction paper, and tape. (Hint: teachers this is a great time to use all those "extra" scraps of paper that pile up in the work room or classroom that you always say you are going to use, but never do :).

Then students had to create the tallest tower that would hold a staple remover at the end of the team building activity. I was so impressed by the results. I thought one or two groups would have some moderately strong towers, but I have some great future engineers in my classroom. Here are some pictures of the towers.

I know that was A LOT of pictures, but I just loved it. The kids loved it too. They did a great job, it was a great team and community builder, and the results were amazing!

I have this activity in my back to school pack in my TeachersPayTeachers store. Click on the picture below to check it out!

Have a good weekend friends!



September Currently

Hi teacher and cooking friends,

After I figured out how to do the currently with Oh' Boy 4th Grade in August, I have been waiting for September to do this one. I loooooooved seeing what everyone puts on their version of their currently and I can't wait to see everyone's this month!

Here it is:

Happy Monday friends!



Co-Teaching Part 4 of 5.... and a little carrot cake

Hey cooking and teaching friends,

I have just survived my first two weeks as a real-life teacher! Agh! But.... and oh yes.... there is a but... I have officially come down with a wonderful cold. I shouldn't be surprised considering I had four students absent this week... The good news is that I have a four-day weekend to try and recover, because this first-year teacher is NO WAY, NO HOW going to attempt to make sub-plans. So here is to the rest of my weekend.... 

Besides that wonderful cold, my first two weeks went pretty good and I am excited to be back for the fourth installment of co-teaching with Kelly Anne. 

This week is about how we made co-teaching count. I really feel like I can't take too much credit for this aspect of our co-teaching relationship, because Kelly did the bulk of this part (I am especially realizing this now that I am teaching without her- well physically at least.... she is still on my speed dial, so don't feel too bad for me). 

Anyways, after I was done student teaching first semester, I was offered a job that would allow me to continue working in the school (and with Kelly-whoop whoop!) At this point, Kelly made sure we were utilizing this set-up to the students' advantage. One of my favorite "interventions" we did was math groups. We (and by we, I mean Kelly explained it to me and I agreed) pulled data from their testing, class work, and anectodals, and grouped the students based on where they were as mathematicians. This didn't mean that we only worked with struggling mathematicians, we also worked with students who needed to be challenged. 

Kelly would teach the whole class math lesson and then students would go to work on extra practice and math games. After students had a chance to work in Math Workshop, I would pull math groups while Kelly was working with the rest of the class. I would take the group of students into the hall and teach them a new super-mini-lesson on a gap they may have in math or teach a new 6th or 7th grade concept to students who needed a challenge. Sometimes this meant practicing basic multiplication facts and sometimes this meant teaching a whole new concept to students. It was a great way for us to utilize the fact that we had two-teachers, my job as an "interventionist," and to fill gaps and/or challenge our 5th grade learners. 

I was able to learn about a whole different aspect of helping our students grow because of this set-up that Kelly created. And students growing?! Isn't that like the best thing ever! 

Now, don't forget to check out Kelly's blog AppleSlices. You will love her (I wouldn't lie to you, plus she is so adorable it's ridiculous!) And make sure to come back next week for our fifth (AND FINAL.... eeek) post on co-teaching.

And here is a little peek at the carrot cake (and the massive amount of ingredients it takes.... who knew?) I made this weekend. Not as easy as my mother makes it look, but the husband ate it anyway :).

Happy teaching and cooking!

Mrs. Cahill