19 things I'm doing instead of lesson planning

1. writing this blog post…. you know… because I blog super consistently #sarcasm

2. finishing my third Jodi Picoult book in 4 days… I mean they're only 400 pages each… and her books aren't that interesting #sarcasm #Ishouldputsarcasmaftereverythingisay

3. grading… because the only time I grade is when I have other stuff to do…. obviously. 

4. watching football with my husband… I don't even know who's playing, but I need to support my husband's interests

5. baking a third batch of cookies… I mean, what's another 5 pounds.

6. staring at the Christmas tree… that probably needs to be taken down… but I should lesson plan first… haha 

7. laundry 

8. still typing this blog post

9. making a shopping list for next week…. you can never be too prepared

10. thinking about which order I should spend my Christmas gift cards. 

11. watching Taylor Swift videos… she needs more views anyway. 

12. watching The Golden Girls. "ihaveeveryepisodememorized…. but I need to make sure I didn't miss anything over the years. 

13. refreshing my instagram feed every 18 seconds… you know… in case anything has changed since then… #dontjudgeme

14. watching the haunted house episodes of the Ellen Show on YouTube. You WILL laugh until you cry… in case you need other stuff to distract you as well.

15. hypothetically decorating my house

16. checking instagram again

17. just checked Facebook

18. cleaning out our junk drawer. there's no time like the present 

19. a puzzle. 

How Grading Math Saves My Sanity

I have a serious love-hate relationship with math.

I have tried about 9 million different set-ups for math workshop, and so many things haven't worked for a variety of reasons. But a couple of things have really worked for me. Hence, the love-hate relationship. One thing I LOVE is having my students grade their class work. It saves my sanity.

To give you an idea of my math workshop and how this works I will explain quickly (HAHAHAH… I never explain anything quickly).

Anyway, my students and I do my Morning Math from 8:30-8:40 and then our math instruction from 8:40-9:00. Students then go to specials from 9:00-10:00.

When they come back from specials, they start on their math packets right away. This my second favorite thing ever. I had to split my math block up last year, a few weeks into the school year, because I was going crazy about my reading and writing schedule… I didn't want to, but it ended up being the best thing ever. This year I intentionally planned my math block to be broken up this way.

My students come in from specials and get started right away. I don't have to say anything. They just know what to do.

Anyway, the math packet is where the grading comes in. My students work on a math packet every week. Usually two pages per day (mostly review with some current concepts mixed in). This set-up helps me, because (most of the time) students don't have to ask me 9,384,293,751 questions.

The cover of the packets looks like this every week:

My students work on their packets while I am working with groups, helping other students, or trying to pull that same first group (just keeping it real here). I needed a way to hold them accountable while I was pulling groups. 

While I work with groups, I also have students play math games, play games on the computer, or do enrichment work. If they ever get done with something or are done with groups they go back to the math packets. It's kind of the home-base. 

That is great in theory, but I noticed many of my students who I had play games first or who met with me would often say… "I didn't finish because I met with you…" or "I played math games first." 

I knew sometimes this was the case and I planned accordingly, but some fifth graders were getting "too smart" for me and I needed an a way to track all this. I actually used this idea when I was student teaching when Kelly Anne from Appleslices suggested I try it.  I liked it then, and realized I needed to go back to it. 

We grade every single problem and they give themselves a 0-4 on every problem. I can tell who would be and is dishonest and I just watch accordingly, but it really is a non-issue because I keep the packets mostly review, they know the expectations, and my students are motivated to get all 4's so they can get a check plus. 

After we grade, they have to count up all their points, write their score in points, and then write whether they got a check plus, check, or check minus on the covers of their packets. 

We figure their points by the amount of problems. For example, if there were 20 problems, it is out of 80. I just gage how hard the packet was, who was able to do a good job, and if most students missed a problem. For a normal day I would write something like the following on the board: 

70-80 = check +
60-69 = check
0-59 = check -

If students get a check minus, they have to come see me and then we discuss what we need to do for them to get at least a check. 

The packets come to me at the end of the week and I do a quick check.

Easy peezy (is that how you spell that?)

Happy Teaching,


How I stopped teaching from the "magical teaching carpet" and why I don't feel guilty about it...

Have you ever read book after book and heard teacher after teacher talk about a strategy that is "the best," and think, "Hey, I should be doing that?"

And 9 times out of 10 those strategies work, because all these really smart researching people and all these really smart teachers have done all this research and all this teaching. They know what they're talking about, you try (tweak it here and there) and then love how it works for you too.

Phew…. thank God I figured that out before it was too late.

Have you ever done this and it just doesn't work? And then think (over and over again) what am I doing wrong? What else can I do?

This is me and teaching from the magical teaching carpet.
I literally #canteven

I have tried and quit, then shortened my lessons to keep their attention on the carpet…. and quit again. Then tried shortening my lessons even more (we're in the 7-10 minute range here people) and then quit again. Then kept my lessons short and tried a seating chart… and then quit again…. Then danced like a crazy person to keep their attention and stamina during the 7 minute lesson next to a person who they would never even think of talking to in any other situation…. and then quit FOR GOOD. I am done with the carpet.

I used to feel guilty about it, but I don't anymore… it just doesn't work for me… and I think I gave it a pretty good chance (no offense carpet… we just aren't meant to be).

I have circle tables, that hold four students into perfect groups, where they can teach each other (pretty sure today's average fifth grader is smarter than me anyway).

I have to constantly remind myself to walk around the room, but I'm better at that than maneuvering around 24 medium sized human being booby traps on the carpet to get to the two students who always lay down on the carpet while you are teaching (I don't know how you people do it… also, how are they so flexible?)

I also have to be very intentional in how I allow my students to move so their bodies get a break from the chairs (and don't lay down on the floor next to their chairs anyway).

I have to make my lessons engaging…. like all good teachers do…  (also why I stopped teaching from the carpet). My lessons require notebooks, and scissors, and glue, and markers, and writing, and whiteboards, and talking in small groups… and everything else I love, that 10 years olds and I just can't seem to figure out  how to transport to the carpet in one piece without someone losing an eyeball or top of a gluestick (not necessarily in order of importance).

So there you have it. I don't teach from the carpet. I don't feel guilty about it. And I don't think I (or you) should feel guilty about anything that works for you and your learners.

Happy Friday!


Stitch Fix Love

Hi friends,

I blogged about my Stitch Fix one other time, mostly because I am a Nosy Rosie and I always want to see what others are getting. I figure if I keep posting mine, you will keep posting yours :). So here it goes:

Duran Mixed Material Leopard Print Top

This is the first shirt in my fix. I actually wore it yesterday and that's what this picture is from. It is gray with a leopard print pocket on front and and a leopard print back… My husband said, and I quote, "Well, you're keeping that." Win!

Praxton Pleat Detail Split Neck Blouse.

This was the second item. It was cute, but not super flattering. I am sending this one back.

Adal Ribbed Knit Cardigan

I will be honest and say I didn't even know what this thing was when I got it out of the box. Again, not flattering or something that I had to have, so I am sending this one back too.

This is where it got tough for me to decide. I specifically asked Stitch Fix to send me dresses (specifically shirt dresses) because I wear them ALL the time at work. They sent both of these, and I couldn't decide if I wanted one, both, or neither.

Kerrigan Printed Abstract Stripe Tie Waist Sheath Dress.

I really didn't like this when I saw it in the box, but when I tried it on, I was pleasantly surprised. My husband liked it too. As of this post, I was still deciding :).

Teagen Colorblock Button Down Dress.

This dress is more my style, and something I think I would try on if I saw it on the store. My husband doesn't like me to spend all of our money on clothes, so I try to not buy everything I like. So at the time of this post, I was still deciding between the dresses :).

Feel free to help me make a decision because I sure can't! 

Happy Sunday,


Click here if you want to sign up for your own Stitch Fix. 

Cloudy with a Chance…. Part 1

Hi friends, 

So I don't know if I have told you all this, but I LOVE science. It's pretty much my favorite thing ever in the whole big wide world.

It took me until college to feel that way but when I fell in love with science, I fell hard, and I haven't looked back since.

I am always looking for ways to engage my students and countless opportunities to explore and experiment and that's how this whole unit came to be.

I recently read Hope King's Set the Stage to Engage eBook and she had some great ideas for weather units and that was exactly the unit we are starting with in fifth grade.

I put her ideas to work for my classroom decorations. My goal is to decorate my classroom every time we start a new unit to always have my kids excited about what they will learn next.

I decorated the outside of my classroom with a tomato tornado and a sign that said, "Welcome to Chewandswallow- Home of Extreme Weather." The bacon was a hit with kids and adults.

I made a tomato tornado in the classroom too and then I added some spaghetti and meatballs! These were my favorite thing ever.

The last thing I did was decorate each of the tables with a circle shaped food. I had an egg, an orange slice, a donut, a lemon slice, a pizza, and a lime slice. The kids loved having their own food tables of your unit. 

We obviously had to start our weather unit by reading Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 

We talked about the weather in the town in the book and then we talked about what we already knew about weather. 

One of our first things we needed to get going was setting up our weather station so our classroom weather reporter can record our weather each day for the rest of the year. We will track the temperature,  precipitation, wind, cloud formations, air pressure, and humidity. 

Here is the recording sheet we are using right now and you can grab this freebie by clicking on any of the images.  

Some of our measurement tools are pretty primitive, but the kids have had a blast.

The first thing we learned about was temperature and I gave some kids liquid thermometers and some kids regular thermometers and told them to figure out how to measure temperature. This was the best idea ever because we live in a VERY warm part of Colorado and it's always hot this time of year. The day we measured temperature it was probably 90 degrees and the liquid thermometers were all reading about 50 degrees. Some students tried sticking them in the rocks, in the grass, and even on the top of a slide to get a better read. 

When we got back inside, we discussed what they thought and they figured out that the normal thermometers worked and when they decided the liquid weren't so reliable. I then let one student do some research on the computer to figure out what happened and she discovered the truth about the liquid thermometers. 

After that, the students came up with and recorded how we would record temperature every day when it was their week to do weather reporter. 

Next, we learned about wind direction and students made their own wind vanes. 

Again, I didn't really give them any direction. I showed them some wind vane designs and some supplies I had available and told them to figure it out. 

Here are some pictures from that day:

When we came back inside, we talked about whose worked and whose didn't. Some students had put the vanes on too tight or not on strong enough, so they wouldn't spin or they would just fall off. Some kids talked about knowing which direction was which would have been helpful :).

So of course we downloaded a compass app on my phone, figured out which way was north, and then came up with a classroom procedure for whose wind vane we would use and how we would measure wind direction each day. We also made sure to note which way was North :). 

The next thing we did was create a way to measure precipitation and the process was very similar to how we created wind vanes. I told them the supplies I had or that they could use and then told them to figure it out. Here are some pictures of what they came up with. 

Many of them had similar designs, but some were more precise with the measurements and their data collection ideas. After we created them, we discussed which design would be the most accurate. The class even noticed that the cups we had were kind of slanted, which may not be the most accurate. 

Because of this, we ended up creating a better model with cups that didn't have a curve and put our cup outside to measure the precipitation. We also decided to have measurements to the nearest quarter inch. 

The last thing we did was learn about the Beaufort Wind Scale. We just used the handouts and scales to measure wind. You can find lots of different options for this by searching Beaufort Wind Scale on Google. Just choose one that works best for you.

Well thanks for sticking with me on that one…. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball Part II is coming soon :)


Mrs. Cahill 

NEW Blog Design and Giveaway!

Hi friends,

I am so excited because I just go my blog designed by the wonderful Kassie over at Designs by Kassie. She was absolutely amazing to work with and I am IN LOVE with my blog. I seriously stare at it all day #sorrynotsorry.

I wanted to share my excitement with you, so I am hosting a giveaway with the wonderful Kelly Anne over at Appleslices. Just about a year and a half ago, Kelly told me about blogging, TPT, instagram, etc. and I thought she was absolutely crazy. Well here I am and I owe so much of this to her. It seemed so fitting that she would help me with this giveaway and she came through big time for me :).

I am giving away $25.00 to TPT along with all five of my back to school packs.



Kelly is giving away her ENTIRE bundle of Fifth Grade Writing Units. They have been working their way to the top lists on TPT, and for good reason. I am using them in my classroom, and they are AMAZING.

Sooooo….without further talking, enter below to win all three of these awesome prizes!

Thank you so much for following along and making this journey the amazing thing that it is!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway


 The Hungry Teacher

Five For Friday!

Hi friends,

I have never done the Five for Friday Linky, but I have been wanting to for forever and there's no time like the present… and I feel like I just opened the biggest present ever…. and that's 1.

My new blog design! EEEEKKKKKK. I have been waiting ALL summer for Kassie over at Designs by Kassie to design my blog and nothing has ever been more worth the wait. I'm in love and there are some surprises in store to celebrate the new design! Come back soon.

Weather. We have been doing our weather unit in fifth grade these last three weeks and I never thought I would have this much fun with weather. We have made wind vanes, anemometers, barometers, rain gauges, and cloud viewers so far. I have a fun project in the works too! 

Green chiles. My husband and I grew up in central Colorado and went to college just 90 miles away in Pueblo, Colorado. Green chiles were abundant in the San Luis Valley we lived near, and Pueblo has their very own Pueblo Green Chiles. We now live in Western Colorado (pretty much Utah) and these have become our number one missed food. Nothing compares to Pueblo chills and we buy them in bushels when we make it to the other side of the mountains.

Narrative Writing. I simply can't explain how amazing Kelly Anne's Narrative Writing Unit is. It will change your life. Trust me. 

September 11th. Dealing with the memories of this day isn't always easy, but hearing the conversations and seeing the products of this day may have been one of my favorite days of teaching ever. 

What a fun linky. I hope to see you all again next week! 


Mrs. Cahill 

Classroom Reveal

Hi friends,

I am finally back into the blogging groove and I wanted to share my classroom. This is actually my third year in this room, because I student taught in this very classroom, and now I'm starting my second year of teaching here.

I am pretty much in love, and if you're ready for an obscene amount of pictures then you are at the right place :).

Here are some of the images of the front of the room:

I finally found a permanent place for my projector after the fire marshal made us take them down from our ceilings, so it's no longer the elephant in the room…literally and figuratively. That thing was obnoxious at the front of the room.

My clip chart on the left side of the picture is Harry Potter themed and you can find it here. 

I made my own word wall letters because I wanted more neutral colors and I really wanted circular ones altering seeing The Brown Bag Teacher's. You can find mine by clicking here.

This is the front of the room with my homework board, jobs, and morning math board (which is one of my all time favorite things ever). The kit is called Every day Math Counts and it's a great way to review math standards in 5-10 minutes every day.

Here is a close up of my morning math board:

Here is a picture of my favorite part of my room. My classroom library: 

I spent a lot of time and money on this, but I don't think I have ever done anything that was more worth it than this. My students LOVE it, are reading like you wouldn't believe, and the middle school English teacher has started asking if she can send middle school students to check out books from me. Talk about the highest form of book flattery ever!!! I also love that my book bin labels are neutral colors. If neutral is your style, then you can get them here. 

These are my listening center kits I set up after an entire school year and summer thinking about doing this. My mom is the and donated three of the iPods to my classroom. 

Here are some pictures from when you walk into the classroom: 

I begged to have the tables back, that were in the room while I student taught, after a very long year with desks. If you ever have the space and/or option then get tables. I can't even explain how much better tables are compared to desks. I have even read research (teaching and dining related) about how circle tables contribute to positive conversations and communities. That's why many Italian restaurants have large circular dining tables. The Italian girl in me couldn't argue with that logic.

Here is a close-up of the table caddies on their desks. It has all their markers, colored pencils, and crayons. They also have these awesome dictionaries and thesauri that I found in the dollar bins and Target. Now that school has started, their glue, scissors, and a few writing utensils have made their way to the cubbies as well.

This is my computer wall with two of my bulletin boards. I have four computers and then those bulletin boards will be used for math, writing, and science/social studies. 

These are some pictures of the other side of my room. The chalkboard eventually became my "Facebook" board (my adaptation of the cafe board) and then my interactive language bulletin board. 

My teacher desk and group table. I simply don't have the space for a desk, and my mentor teacher got rid of hers when I student taught with her, and I have never felt the need for one. I love this space in my room and I love all my beautiful binders from Target. I keep everything I use in them.

This is my math bookshelf. This holds most of my math manipulatives and resources, along with some extra math games for students to play. 

 These are my students mailboxes with all my other math games I have made from the Investigations curriculum. I finally have started using the games all the time so I love having them for easy access at all times.

The mailboxes are where my paper helpers return all the graded work for students to take home at the end of each day. I numbered them using binder clips and some stickers that I wrote their student numbers on.

Well, I think I covered it all. I love my room soooooooo much and I may or may not have the most wonderful class ever this year.

But more about that later…


Mrs. Cahill