Monday, October 26, 2015

Calling all Secret Agents!

Are you ready to help us find the nation's missing laptops with top secret government information on them? My kids were, and this led to probably the best lesson to date in my teaching career. After my visit to the Ron Clark Academy (post on that below or here), I have been filled with ideas and inspiration on ways to engage my students. In math we have to give our students time to practice the skill we are teaching them, and I could've given them a worksheet to practice, but that wasn't going to fly. I saw Hope King's Set the Stage to Engage series this summer, and she did a spy lab for non-fiction texts, so after looking at her pictures, I made it my own for my kids. We were working on adding and subtracting fractions, and their skills were tested during this unit.

I'll start with the set-up, and it was easy. The hardest thing for me was figuring out how I wanted to set up my desks! Oops! I made my desks into three groups (math groups) because my activity was differentiated and I wanted them to be able to talk to their math groups throughout. I made a spy area in the back of my room using string and black lights. This is where the clues were housed. I had all of my lights off and my window blacked out with black butcher paper from our art teacher. They saw by using push lights from Walmart. I got all of the set up idea from Hope King! 

I had my art teacher bring my students to me from specials, and I was standing outside my door, in my black sunglasses and black blazer with my iPad ready to let my fellow agents in. They were asked to sit on the carpet when they entered the room.

I filled my students in on the issue the government had called for our help on. After that we were on the clock to figure out who stole the iPads from our school that the government was housing top-secret information. 

Every student had a file folder with a letter about the situation, their first clue, and a clue tracking sheet. Once all the expectations were given, the agents were off to work. I put on a little background music to set the stage, and intensify the situation! They had to solve each problem using their yellow notepad and when they finished with a clue, they went on to another with my approval. 

My favorite part of the room was the clue area. I have a wide range of abilities in my classroom, so I differentiated for my three groups. 

Most students ended around the same time, and they had to work with their group to make a final decision about who they thought stole the laptops. I had an idea during the lesson to have my dad call at the end and say he was with the White House. I told my kids they had to come up with a final decision because someone would be calling us from the White House. "THE WHITE HOUSE?? Like where Obama lives??" So I texted him and never heard back so I didn't think he could but left my ringer on loud just in case. At the end of my lesson, my ringer went off, and it was madness in my room. "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!!" Once they got quiet, I picked up and my dad asked who they thought the culprit was, and my students told him the clues led them to believe it was our principal. He said,"Agents, thank you for your hard work, I'll share this information with the president. Hopefully we can work again soon." Their reactions were great, "Did we seriously just talk to someone from the White House?" "I cannot wait to tell my mom!"

As a result of my RCA experience, I am trying my hardest to find ways to engage my students in different and unique ways, and I learned its importance through this activity when every single student is working hard and independently. I hate to admit this, but I was fighting back tears because of how hard they were working! 

I am working on getting this made into a product for my TPT store. So check back soon!

If you have any questions on anything I did for this lesson, feel free to email me at 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wedding Weekend

Hi all! Not teacher related today, but I have been in full on wedding mode, getting ready for my sister's wedding this coming weekend. I have had an important speech hanging over my head all week, until tonight! Procrastinated I mean completed it! :)  I finished my maid of honor speech! WHOO! I am so excited to share with you about the wedding sometime next week! I wanted to explain my M.I.A. on here this week, I blame this important life event! I hope you have a great rest of your week!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Game of Life

I hope everyone is surviving the craziness teachers face this time of the year with end of the quarter, parent teacher conferences, and report cards. My crazy week just ended, and what a great feeling it is!  I have had some amazing days at school, and I am excited to share them with you over the next week!

I am one of the luckiest teachers because I have a wonderful resource teacher who pushes into my classroom everyday of reading and math. We work so well together and collaborating is our forte.

We had a week of working on adding and subtracting decimals using real life situations. Sammy and I thought of this idea of a classroom economy, and we couldn't figure out the details. After thinking about it more we came up with this idea of the Game of Life, and made it come to life!

Each kid started off with $1,000.00. At the beginning, everyone had to pick their job card which had their salary on it. As we cheered and oohed and ahhed for each other when they picked their cards, the kids began to get super excited!

Once everyone got their jobs and found out their salaries, we let them go and browse the 6 different sections they would be purchasing from, Cars, Houses, Entertainment, Electronics, Colleges, and Vacations. Their were 5 options at each. When Sammy and I were creating this activity we made the prices from super expensive to cheap. Our reason for this was to see what the kids would do and watch them try to budget their money. Throughout the activity, every time I would ring the bell, the students would receive a PAY DAY! At that point their were lots of, "YES!" "Finally!" "I really needed that!" There was even a kid who was begging for a pay day! :)

When we decided it was time, our students were allowed to make their purchases at their own speed. They used a tracking sheet similar to a check balance to keep track of purchases and salaries, deposits and withdraws. Students also had to watch out for the 2 police, good and bad. I was the good police because if I saw a student doing a great job, they would get to pick a lottery ticket with varying amounts. Sammy was the bad police because she gave out tickets with fines on them. She called out random birthday months, days of their birthday, and they had to go to the hall and pay up! One kid had to go out 4 times, "WHY ME?!"

Overall the activity was a success! Students were working on adding and subtracting decimals the whole time! The only rule was they had to have some money left over, and once they heard that they were going to make more purchases. One student said, "Well, I guess I'll go to college again!"

At the end, they were not ready for it to be over. Since this activity they have asked multiple times, "When are we going to play Life again?" I would call it a success. 

I have it up in my TPT store! If you have any questions feel free to email me at 

Happy Saturday!

Monday, October 12, 2015

The RCA Experience!!

Where do I even begin? I think Friday was the best experience I have ever had. The Ron Clark Academy is nothing short of amazing! This past week was our school's Fall Break. Let me rewind back to March, that is when my co-worker/friend Ashley and I decided to take the plunge and get tickets to RCA. It was something I have been looking forward to since we received the conformation email! Ashley and I went to Atlanta on Wednesday and went shopping, explored ATL, and ate delicious food. Thursday night, I was so excited, I couldn't really sleep. The anticipation allowed me to get about 4 total hours of sleep, but come Friday morning that didn't matter!

We arrived at 8 sharp and began gathering around the gate. Promptly at 8:15, the gates opened and we were escorted into the library where the music was blaring and everyone was dancing. I was immediately greeted by an adorable 5th grader, and we had a short conversation before she asked me if I wanted to go jump on the trampoline. Of course I didn't bat an eye, and before I knew it, I was meeting Kim Bearden and getting strapped into the trampoline. A trampoline in the middle of their library? That is my childhood dream come true! I couldn't imagine what else was to come!

We then went into the main building and began our day. I don't want to spoil the greatness that happens there, so I'll give you a quick snapshot. As soon as we were inside we were welcomed by more music and dancing. Ron welcomed everyone, and we were off to our first part of the day. The morning was a whirlwind of classroom observations and workshops. 

One of my favorite quotes from Ron was "Allow yourself to forgive yourself." This hit home with me because I am my own worst critic! 

One of the most inspirational part of the day was listening to Kim Bearden. She is such a genuine person, and a phenomenal educator. She told us her story and she touched everyone in that room. One of my favorite quotes of the day was something Kim said that really stuck with me, "I believe what I can do, not what I can't do." This is a quote I am going to keep close. 

The middle of the day was lunch in their Harry Potter inspired dinning hall. During lunch we had a wonderful conversation with a 7th grader and she told us everything we were curious about, and so much more. She even noticed that I wear the same perfume as Hope King, one of their teachers. The ability the kids have to carry a conversation with an adult is amazing!

After lunch there were more classroom observations and workshops. Rigor was in everyone of those classrooms, but along with the rigor was student engagement and fun. I enjoyed watching the different teachers teach because they all had their own unique way of running their class that were all very similar, if that makes sense. 

At the end of the day is was time to be SLIDE CERTIFIED! I was standing at the top of the slide and there were two students on either side of the slide and the boy looks at me and says "Superman, you're definitely going to superman." Without even thinking twice, I was sliding head first down the slide! The end of the day was just as amazing as the rest of it. I won't ruin the end, you'll have to go and experience it for yourself. 

My time at RCA has forever changed my teaching life. This experience is one of the hardest things to put into words, and I have pondered over it for a while and haven't found a good way to say it other than incredible in every way. I have a list of goals that I hope to accomplish by the end of the year because I was so inspired and saw the amazing things happening in that school. I also got to meet some of my teaching and blogging role models. Hope King made my day! I was so glad I got to meet her, she is as sweet as I had imagined. I aspire to be like her everyday!  

I hope you have an opportunity to visit this one of kind school because it is guaranteed to change your world and I know this because it changed mine.

Find more info about RCA here

Sunday, October 11, 2015


I am so excited to bring you my new blog design. Alexis from Laugh, Eat, Learn made my vision come to life, and I count imagine it any other way! This new design makes me so much more excited to get my blog out there, when its ugly and purple I wanted to hide it! Thanks to Alexis, I am proud to show off my blog and share it! So everybody get ready!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Miss Schaar's Diner

Happy Fall! I have been super busy, and waiting so patiently for my new blog design that should be up hopefully very soon! I cannot believe that it is already October, where has the year gone? In math we just wrapped up our unit on adding and subtracting decimals. With our scope and sequence we had entire week of problem solving. I was racking my brain for ideas on how to make this engaging for my kids. Enter my idea for Miss Schaar's Diner. 

Our math block is right after specials. So lucky me, I had plenty of time to turn my room into a diner. I started off very simple this year. I bought the red and white table cloths from Party City and the red diner baskets at SAMs Club. Simple as that. When my kids came in the oohs and ahhs began. Just a simple table cloth thrown over their desks got them that much more excited about what we were going to do! 

As they entered the room I handed out menus to my diner. The students got a chance to look over it and talk about what they would order with their partners. We started with our "appetizer" which was doing 2 practice problems on the board and the kids did on white boards. Once we had completed our appetizer round, it was on to the main course. 

For the main course, they were invited back to their tables with their math groups. The main course was the task cards at their desk in the red baskets. I made these task cards with my students' names on them and differentiated for each group. They worked together to complete the task cards.

At the end, they had to pay for their meal, AKA the receipt which was their exit ticket. This was a quick and easy way to see how the kids were doing with adding and subtracting decimals.

The students had a great time feeling like they were taken to a diner away from school. I have ideas for next year when I do this activity to add more to it, but this year was a success! 

If this is something that will work for your class, I have posted it to TPT as an editable product so you can personalize it for your class!

Find it here.