I'm a big fan of using parody in the classroom.  I always have been!  Stick around for today's link up with my girls over at Focused on Fifth to see how I use it at Christmas time!

About a year ago I legitimately used the song Amish Paradise to teach my students something.  I can't for the life of me remember what that something was - but that is beside the point!  The great thing about that song (and all the rest of the songs Weird Al Yankovich sings) is that they are a perfect example of parody.  Totally inappropriate to use with children!! But parody none the less.

Hi Friends!

We're talking all things holiday writing today!  I have to admit, I find it a reaaaallll struggle to write with my students at this time of the year.  Here in New Zealand we are on the count down to SUMMER, so we have that to contend with too.  I'm linking up with my pals over at Focused on Fifth to bring you some super holiday writing ideas!

If there's one thing I love, it's Christmas.

I love the smell, sights, sounds, and well, I love everything about it.  Christmas for me is at the end of the school year and in summer time.  It's a wonderful time, even without the magic that winter brings.

I'm linking up with my girls over at Focused on Fifth for our monthly Products for Payday linky. We've each highlighted a resource we think should be in your cart for the big sale!
Check out my Christmas Themed Thinker's Keys resource.  This has 20 higher order thinking writing prompts to keep your students really engaged over the coming weeks!


It's me.  The crazy person who lost it yesterday.  I want to use more colourful language, but, well you know me!

Yesterday I was unrecognisable.
I wasn't the composed, 30 year old who can juggle 28 student's learning needs without letting anyone fall through the cracks.
I wasn't the creative musician who can write a song to teach my students how to tie their shoelaces, or skip count in 2's.
I wasn't the daughter, sister, or friend that you've known for the past 30 years.

I was... well let's face it, I was a pyscho.

You might not know this, but I cried the entire way home.  I couldn't see through the tears.  The radio might have been playing, but I was too loud to hear it.  I haven't cried like that since... Well I don't think I've ever cried like that.
You might also not know, but I could feel it coming.  I could feel my stomach knotting, I lost control of my thoughts, everything was in a blur.  I tried to let you know, but you didn't hear me.  You might have been listening, but you didn't hear.
You might not know this, but I'm crying right now.

Can you believe that we are half way through NOVEMBER?!
Oh my word that is cray cray!

If you're here today, you're in for a treat!  The bloggers from Focussed on Fifth have come together and we are hopping from one place to the next sharing some great tips with you!  Don't worry - you can start anywhere!  Once you end up back here you have completed the loop!  Happy hopping!

My tip is SUPER simple.  I call it "What do you want me to do about that?"

As teachers we read a lot right?

We read the books we are about the give our kids to study.
We read literature telling us how to be a better teacher.
We read reports and other formal documents.
We read emotions, tensions, situations.

But when do we get to read for fun?

Kid President has declared this month "YESvember".  I like that.

I like KP

Let's do this thing!

The beautiful Farley has once again knocked it out of the park with her Currently linky party.  I love this time of each month.

Something new

Something exciting

Something different!

Hey hey everyone!

Welcome to our first Products for Pay Day linky party!  The bloggers of Focused on Fifth have come together to share with you our FAVOURITE products to share with you this month.

This month I'm going to go indepth on my best seller.

Click the image to find this on TPT

This product has seriously been a well used addition to my classroom over the past 4 years, and a welcome addition to hundreds of classrooms around the world since I uploaded it to TPT a year ago.

Included are 60 cards with question stems that can be used with any book - with particular focus on fiction texts.  I do have a non fiction version (or a version for younger readers too, if you are teaching younger grades!)

The first thinking skill covered is the remembering skill.  In these 10 cards, the focus is on recall, and remembering what has happened in the story so far.

Once students have mastered recalling facts from a text, they can move on to the all important skill of understanding what has happened.  This is where students are able to describe events, characters, and parts of a text in their own words.
After that comes the skills of analysing and applying.  Inference skills, and the ability to relate events to their own life come into play here.

There are a few great hands on activities suggested in these cards too!

Finally, the synthesis and evaluation cards. These cards are truely all about the higher order thinking skills.  The questions on these cards require students to really understand the text so that they can modify, rewrite, or even change complete sections of the story.

My favourite thing about these cards is the way that my students have taken ownership of their learning through using them.  They choose their own cards, generally one from each level, and tackle hard themes and concepts, all while reading a book of their choosing.

The cards are generic enough that they can be used with any book, but specific enough that you will be able to cover what ever skill you need to - all while promoting higher order thinking.

I will have all my Bloom's products on sale at 20% off for the next three days.  Check them out using the links below!

Original Bloom's (as featured in this blog post)
Bloom's for younger readers
Bloom's for non-fiction texts
AND the bundle of all three of the above sets

Check out what the rest of the Focussed on Fifth bloggers have for you over at the linky!

Hey everyone!  I'm blogging today over at Focused on Fifth with three super awesome math games that my kids LOVE!

Check it out here

Do you know any other games that are great for maths learning?  Share them below!

Hey wonderful people!  How has October found you?  It's found me a week out of schedule and not sure what way is up!

Quick check in - It's Spring break, so I'm nice and relaxed, but I didn't realise the date!  I'm so confuddled, but it's totally ok!

I'm here linking up with my favourite linky of all time - Currently!

Listening - normally she gets me in such a great mood!  Today Pandora is being a bit annoying though...

Loving - The weather is warming up!  Summer is on the way.

Thinking - I just had an appointment at the bank.  Things are good!  I might be able to get a loan.  Unfortunately the area I live in is very quickly being priced out of my reach...

Wanting/Needing - I want it... But I don't need it.  AND I need it, but I don't want it... sort yourself out girl!

Boo-tiful - I LOVE the colours and sights of Spring.  The blossoms are in full force at my parents place.  It's stunning!!

I just wanted to leave y'all with a freebie!  What's October without a little treat right!

Classroom management was something that did NOT come easy to me.  I had to work really hard to build up my skills, and every day since I still have to work at it.  My dear friends over at our blab group talked about classroom management the other day!  I was supposed to have this post all ready to go, but ended up running out of time. Check it out, share it round, and add your comments to tell me what else you think I've missed!!

  1. Learn their names.  QUICKLY!
  2. Use a soft voice
  3. Lower your voice when correcting student behaviour.  They will respond better to it.
  4. Use non verbal cues to gain attention
  5. Only speak when students are all quiet
  6. Assume the best of your students
  7. Set high expectations
  8. Praise your students 
  9. Don't settle for "good enough".  If you expect your students to be silent, don't continue until they are
  10. Create a team environment in your class
  11. Keep your students with you when they mis behave.  You are the one with the relationship with them, not the principal
  12. Have them walk with you as a consequence at break time
  13. Use class dojo!  
  14. Talk to your kids parents about positive things as well as the negative issues you have
  15. Write N-O-I-S-E on the board.  Rub out a letter each time the class gets too noisy.  When the word is gone, kids must be silent
  16. Clip charts (You should know that I'm NOT a fan!!) but there are people that swear by them.  Class dojo is better
  17. Teach respect 
  18. Expect respect
  19. Model respect
  20. Have a buddy class that you read with.  You can then use this relationship you've built up as a safe place to send students who need a time out
  21. Be consistent
  22. Be firm - but fair
  23. Establish rules together.  That way you will have student buy in
  24. Be positive in your conversations with students and teachers
  25. Don't look at your students records until after a month at school. Allow yourself time to get to know the students you have BEFORE you find out what their previous teacher thought
  26. NEVER say "oh they are from ... family", or compare them to siblings you may have taught before
  27. Develop leadership qualities in your students regardless of their age/grade level
  28. Be aware of different learning styles
  29. Avoid confrontations in front of your students
  30. Greet your students each and every morning by name
  31. Use proximity to your advantage.  Wander through your students as they are working to keep an eye on things
  32. As the teacher - you be the one that writes the date on your students work.  Set your students off on their task, and then wander around and write the date in the margin of their work.  This is a great way to check that everyone is working on the correct page or that they understand what they are doing!
  33. Be organised
  34. Dress nicely
  35. Brush your hair
  36. Wear nice clothes
  37. (Ok so all the above might seem obvious!! but the more care you take with your appearance, the more the kids you have will know that you want to be there, and the more they will want to be there too!!)
  38. Be organised
  39. Be flexible
  40. Have fun!
  41. Have clear routines
  42. Spend more time observing what is happening in your room, rather than reacting to the kids
  43. Take responsibility for your students, both academically and behaviourally
  44. Respond to disruption with as little further interruption as possible
  45. Start fresh every day!
  46. Make the rules you have simple
  47. Check out Whole Brain Teaching rules
  48. Keep your learning environment clean and tidy
  49. Don't over stimulate your students
  50. Use Brag Tags 
An a bonus tip - add in a little bit of LOVE! 

What other classroom management ideas do you have?

WOW!  It's finally here!! The launch of our super awesome blog - Focussed on Fifth!

Focused on Fifth
I've joined with some of my favourite teacher-author/bloggers, and we have a brand new blog all about the wonders of 5th grade.

Now you might be thinking - but Erin, don't you teach 2/3rd grade now?  And you'd be right!  In fact I might even move down the grades in coming years.  HOWEVER, I spent the first 9 years of my career teaching 4-7th grade, so I'm still full of ideas and things to share with you.

If you are quick then you can enter the giveaway!  10 people will win a prize package worth nearly $40, and one lucky winner will win all that AND a $35 TPT gift card!

So what are you waiting for?!  Head over now and follow us to enter and win!!!

Hey hey hey!

Can you believe that it's September already?! Not me!  Not only did August FLY by, but the year is going by so quickly!

Here in New Zealand we are so close to our Spring holiday break.  3 and a half weeks and we will be on the count down to summer!  Makes me feel better about the summer snaps that have filled my insta feed over the past few months.

Y'all know Farley right?  Surely you do.  I'm heading over to her blog - Oh Boy 4th Grade to link up for another CURRENTLY!

Listening - It's just come on New Zealand Netflix, and I'm jumping on the band wagon... Noooooot sure if it's my cup of tea.  I'm not affected by blood and guts, but the demonic supernatural things I'm not really a big fan of.  We'll see if this carries on to become an addiction, or if I stop at episode 3...

Loving - Ummmm this was HAAARRRRDDD!!!  I am loving so many things right now.  I'm totally 100% in LOOOOOOVVEEE with Blab.im - seriously you should all get in on this!  I've made so many super fun friends, and the PD that you get from the conversations is incredible!  Head over there now and subscribe to some of my most favourite blabs - The Teacher Blab Show, Global Edventures (Which is one that I'm a co-host for!!), and the awesome Shameless Sunday Teacher Talk.
These are co-hosted by some of your favourite bloggers - Mrs Shipley, Miss Meg, Sheila Jane teaching, Ms Idealistic, And SOOOOO many more!
Check out these pictures for a few more things I'm loving right now - including my super cute nephew who is 7 weeks old today!

A photo posted by Learningtobeawesome (@learningtobeawesome) on

Thinking - Yeah so the biggest news item in my country right now is allllll about us getting a new flag.  You'd seriously think that we were all being sent to war or something.  It's a bit ridiculous.  The issue? Our flag looks too similar to Australia's.  Which is true.  But hey!

Wanting - Well part of this is happening!  I'm heading to Australia next weekend for a belated 30th birthday trip with my mum, cousin, and aunt.  We are heading to Melbourne and going to see Lion King.  I am excited.  I really want a loooong holiday, preferably on a tropical island with a cocktail in my hand.

Needing - Be positive.  It's something I need to work on.  I don't want to get jaded about things.  I want to be a shining light in a dark place.
A photo posted by Learningtobeawesome (@learningtobeawesome) on
Finally, my three goals!

  1. I need to do a month sugar free.  Starting tomorrow - because I've got a beer in my hand right now...
  2. I teach piano too!  Woop woop.  I only have one student right now, but I will be putting a flyer out this week so hopefully a few more kids want to become awesome too!
  3. I've started boot camp and pump, but I need to get some cardio into my routine!  Countdown to summer is on!
Have a great week!  What are you looking forward to this month?

 Hey everyone!  Welcome to our first global eduventures blab challenge!  Use these photos to complete the challenges in the google form found HERE.
As you can tell these are my REAL holiday snaps.  No photoshop at all! haha.




Is it okay to even say that statement?!  Bear with me.  I'm going to unpack it with you.

My dear friend Jameson, over at Lessons with Coffee, has challenged and inspired me (and others) to get uncomfortable with who we are and look at what is really going on in our world!  It's a crazy place out there and it's our responsibility to do what we can to make it a little less crazy.

Feeling uncomfortable yet?  I am.

This is me.

I am white.

I am female.

I come from a family that could afford private school education.

I have never gone hungry.

I have never been cold.

I've never been arrested, never accused of doing something because I happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, never been confused for someone else simply because of the colour of my skin.

I have never wanted for anything - physical, emotional, or otherwise.

I don't say all this to rub it in your face, I say it because it's my truth.  I won't apologise for it, but I also won't use it to hide behind either.  At least that is my aim.

So my girl J has a few questions to think about.  I'm going to do my best to work through them and answer to the best of my ability.


"Imagine a little black boy, like millions around the country, and every day after school he goes to the community center to shoot hoops. The first time he was really bad, didn’t make a single shot. Still, he goes back the very next day. The following week he made a few shots. After a few months of daily attempts, some days he makes a few more than others, but most he makes just a few total. After a year or so, he makes more shots than he misses. Despite week after week of relative failure, he continued to try, and eventually he found success."
Disclaimer - We don't have "African-American" people in New Zealand obviously.  So for my reflections I will talk about my Maori students.  For all intents and purposes the situation is the same.

Easy Question

Why did the boy become better?
Easy Answer?  Because he practiced.  Simple.

Harder Questions

Why in the face of failure does the boy come back day after day, week after week, month after month to improve his shooting abilities? — What is it about basketball that makes him so willing to work so hard to put in the long-term commitment necessary for success?
Harder Answer?  No one is pressuring him.  He likes it.   He has role models that play too - I'm thinking big high profile role models from his own culture.  People that he admires from popular culture or the media are good at Basketball, and so he wants that too.  

Thought Provoking Question

How do these elements relate to school? Why don’t our basketball boys persevere in the classroom? Why do they give up as soon as they encounter any academic difficulty?  If we want students who engage in the practice necessary to achieve, if we want students who persist in the face of failure, if we want students who want to come to school, then what do we need to do to make school more like basketball?

When so much of our job as teachers is attacked by the media is it any wonder that our students - of any culture - don't trust us?  Putting that aside, and looking at the students in my class this year, I think of one kid in particular.  She has struggled with academics her whole life, albeit short.  The role models she looks up to are sports people, musicians, and actors.  Those are the things she excels at, because she sees people that look like her who are good at those things.  I've seen her discouraged, down, and frustrated on several occasions.  What more can I do than continuing to encourage her, modelling good learning, and keep it fun.  Basketball is after all a game.  Games are fun.  Fun is good.  

Let's make learning fun.  

I'm not sure that I have fully comprehended the questions, but there is always has to be a starting point to each and every discussion that we have.

Go.  Join.  Be challenged.  Get uncomfortable.  Most importantly - Read the book "Mulitplication is for White People". 

Hey friends!!

I'm coming at you quickly with an announcement and some Back to School goodies for you.

First up a winner to my massive $50 TPT gift card birthday giveaway.  Congratulations Jane!  Not sure of your last name (which doesn't matter!), but I'll be emailing you the gift card after I've posted this blog post.  Thanks to everyone for entering and following along - We might just have to have another giveaway soon!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Alrighty friends, now I've got some awesome links for you.  The 3rd annual BACK TO SCHOOL e books from TPT sellers are up on Teachers Pay Teachers NOW!

Here are the links to each of them.  Every single page in the books have a freebie on them for you to snag for your back to school season.  Click on the images to take you to TPT to download for yourself!

So much amazing in these downloads!  What are you waiting for?!

Also check out my Back to School thinkers keys while you're there.  Such a great way to get your students thinking in different and clever ways from the first day of school!

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