Sunday, December 27, 2015

Weightlifting Grips: Which one should you use when?

As someone who lifts weights, it is almost instinctive to hold a barbell or dumbbell a certain way depending on your exercise.  For example, when you want to do a deadlift, most people grab the barbell with palms facing down or away from you (overhand grip); considered the classic grip.  During this grip, you tend to be working the muscles in your forearm, your shoulders and your back muscles.

The underhand grip is mostly used when working the biceps, since that area will have to work the most to lift the weight.  Your palms are facing up/towards you in this type of grip.

These two grips are the most common.  Often times, I would see people holding a barbell with a mixed grip, one hand with an overhand grip and the other with an underhand grip.  I would mainly see Crossfitters with this grip.  That made me think; was I doing something wrong?!  So I looked into it.

The mixed grip is used for a deadlift.  When typically using an overhand grip, as the weight gets heavier, the barbell would be known to slip from a weightlifters hands.  Some use a weightlifting strap, which is wrapped around your wrist and around the barbell to help it from slipping away from you, prior to targeting the muscles/areas that you want to work.  But, they should not always be used.  Using straps is a whole other debate in and of itself.   To avoid the slipping and using straps, a lot of weightlifters use the mixed grip.  Again, this is to help the bar from slipping away from you.  Basically, if it starts to slip, it slips into the other hand.  This grips allows for you to lift heavier weights.  It is important to add that every time you perform a deadlift, you should NOT to use the mixed grip.  Use only when it is necessary.  Another type of grip that is known to help the bar from slipping from your hands is called the hook grip.  Typically with an overhand grip, you wrap your fingers around the bar and place your thumb over your fingers.  In a hook grip, it is actually the opposite.  The thumbs grip the bar first and the first couple of fingers lay over the thumb.

I hope this information helped you.  Different grips work different areas of your body.  The mixed and hook grip with help you lift heavier weights without having the bar slip away from you as easily. If after using this grip, and you can't perform the exercise for the area that you want to target then something is wrong.  It could be your posture or simply that the weights are too heavy for you.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

No Elf on the Shelf??

These days, it's not surprising that as teachers we can't celebrate just one hoilday this winter.  
Probably, like many of you, I work in a district that includes a variety of backgrounds. That being said, we can't just focus on one holiday, but we would have to focus on many!  In my classroom, my co-teacher and I try to incorporate different kinds of these holidays to be politically correct.  Everything now is labeled "holiday."  My school has a Holiday Show, Holiday Parties, Holiday Concerts, etc.... 

For our holiday party, we incorporate different holidays through stations.  We have Pin the Nose on Rudolph, the Dreidel Game, and an informational text Kwanzaa coloring book.  
Those of you that are elementary teachers know how crazy December can be.  The best way to describe it, is that it's like a month of full moons.  Often times, we need ideas to allow us teachers to survive through it all!

During this time of year, Elf on the Shelf for Christmas has been very popular, as well as Mensch on a Bench for Hanukkah with parents.  To play off of those successes on the home front, why not incorporate something similar into our classroom?!  Enter, Snowman is the PLAN!

Another one of my co-workers also loved the idea, so she went out on a search to find us a wintery character that we could use in our classrooms.  What she found were cute little snowmen; perfect for our winter holiday theme.  This worked so well in the classroom in terms of keeping the students on track with our daily routine.  Our third graders love it so much, that in past years they write letters to our snowman, have made him a home, have made him accessories; just to name a few!   

I have created a (colored/B&W) letter for the students that is generic, that students can read or have read to them.  The gist is that Old Man Winter has sent this snowman down to be on the lookout for good and some not so good behavior.  Our snowman will report back to the Arctic on a daily basis and the weather depends on on how well they behave.  Just like the other figures; if you touch him, he will melt and lose his magic.  Students must also name their Snowman to be unique to our classroom.  I'm rooting for Lee from Room 23.   I also created a goodbye letter to present to the students prior to the holiday break to let them know that the snowman must go back.  The best part is that the product if FREE!

Check it out here:

Some of our hiding spots have been between the books.  One of my favorites is the snowman that  created an array for the students to solve.  Multiplication is a huge math topic for our third graders, so I definitely wanted to incorporate that.  We also wonder how many inches it will snow this winter (based on our behavior)?!  My co-teacher and I try to relate his activities to things we are doing in the classroom currently, or even earlier in the school year as a review.  

There is also a generic letter having the snowman saying goodbye to the class!  This is the perfect way to get your students stay behaved during all of the holiday madness!  I hope this can give you a bit of sanity to get through the month.


Monday, November 30, 2015

TpT Credits...A Must Read Reminder for Teachers! you teachers know that when you purchase items from Teachers Pay Teachers site that you EARN credit???  Yup, earn credits.  These credits can be used towards your future purchases.  Twenty credits count as one dollar and can be used as if it were a coupon/coupon code. For every dollar you spend, you earn a credit.  For example, if you were to purchase my task cards for introducing multiplication and division for $3; then you would earn 3 credits.

If you didn't know this, you MUST do it NOW!  (Don't forget that #CYBERMONDAY deals are going on now and tomorrow!!)  All you have to do is go to your My Purchases tab under My TpT drop down, when you are logged in on TpT.  Under the title of each purchase, is a yellow star for you to provide feedback.  Click on that link, rate the product and leave a comment!  That's it.  You just earned credits to be used towards future purchases!

Leaving feedback not only earns you credits which equates to dollars, but you are also helping out the teacher seller.  The more feedback a seller receives, the better it looks for a buyer.  Believe it or not, sellers only get 10% of their buyers leaving feedback.  When you see the number of ratings of a product (Ex: 7 ratings), that is the number of feedback the seller received, not how many people actually bought the product.  So your feedback really does help!   It even helps if you provide feedback on free products that you downloaded.  Teacher sellers thank you!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Study skill strategy.

I always try to make review fun and easy. Not only that, but something that the students can do independently! I've done this activity for sometime, and for all subject areas. It's so easy to do too!

First, all you need are strips of paper, index cards, or anything you can write on and cut up. If I am creating the review. I write a question on one side of the index card or strip of paper and the answer on the other side. After doing that, I cut zig zags, wavy lines,  a combo of both and so on separating the question and answer! I do this for all of the cards, but vary my cut for each. This way it creates a puzzle piece and the two fit together! If students are doubts this with me, I shuffle up cards and place questions on one side and answers of the other. Students read the questions first and try to find the answer! If it doesn't fit together like a puzzle piece , then the answer is incorrect and students will try again!

I particularly like this as a center activity. Students are able to check their answers and answer questions they struggle with. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even use the same color marker for the question and answers that match that will help students that struggle even more. 

Not only is it great for review, it's a great way for students to make and practice their fact families, study new vocabulary, and easy enough for them to create in their own at home!

My students loved it! They even wanted to create their own questions for their book review. I know it may not be anything new, but simple ideas work too! I am now on a mission to create templates of these puzzle strips for my TpT store...... Stay tuned! 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Sweet Potato & Quinoa Patties

Just made a new recipe on my last Sunday Meal Prep day, and I'm completely obsessed so I have to share. I love when I find receipes that I enjoy since I'm such a picky eater.  It's also super easy to make too! 

Ingredients you need:
~2 sweet potatoes
~1 medium onion
~thyme (fresh or dried)
~2 cups of COOKED quinoa
~3 teaspoons of garlic
~ salt (I use PinkHimalayan)
~ ground pepper
~coconut oil (couple of spoonfuls)

1. Cook quinoa.  (I usually make this ahead of time, especially if using in other recipes... It freezes well!) Boil water and place 1 cup of quinoa... Quinoa will double in size once done. I've made the mistake before of boiling two cups and getting 4 cups of cooked quinoa. 

2. Rinse 2 sweet potatoes and dry off with a paper towel. Use a fork to punch holes throughout the potato (very important!!!) place in the microwave and cook on baked potato setting (usually about 8 minutes for 2)

3. Dice medium onion and sauté with a little bit of EVOO over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt to help the onions sweat. Cook until the onions become translucent; then add the garlic (only for a bit so it doesn't burn) and a big (palm size) helping of thyme. I only had dry thyme at home so I put a palm size full of thyme and rubbed my hands together to bring out its flavor. Mix ingredients together and take off heat.

4. In a large mixing bowl, place cooked quinoa, the onion mixture and cooked sweet potato without the skin. 

5. Wait until sweet potato has cooled and mix together. Add salt and pepper for flavor. 

6. Form mixture into balls and flatten into small patties. 

7. In the same sauté pan as you cooked the onions, add a spoonful of coconut oil to melt in the pan over medium heat. Cook patties on each side till they brown. They may not completely stay together... But no worries they still taste great. 

Voila! Simple, easy and healthy too!

Sorry I didn't take pictures of the finished product... Smelled too good that I had to eat, and totally forgot about the leftovers! I will definitely add them once I make this awesome recipe again! 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Math Treats: Blog Hop

I am so excited to partner up with Doc Running from Everything Education and other wonderful math teachers to share some Math Treats.  From the looks of it; I may be one of the only elementary level teachers that is participating in this blog hop.  Although this may be true, my experience as a sixth grade math teacher knows that a few of my "treats" are acceptable and have been used successfully in most if not all grade levels.

"Treat" #1: Task cards

All of my students love task cards.  I have utilized task cards in a variety of ways.  Most often, I use task cards as a scavenger hunt in my classroom.  Depending on their level; I hide my task cards very well; or in more conspicuous places.  Depending on the skill I am targeting, I either have students work individually or with a partner.  The latter tends to happen the most in my classroom. can be heterogenous or homogeneously grouped.  Not only are the students up and out of their seats, but they are having fun and completing/practicing math problems along the way.  The scavenger hunt idea is used mainly as a review of the skill or topic most recently addressed.  

I found that task cards were great for reluctant learners and for completing during after school activities to keep the students engaged.  During guided math; I also use task cards as a center activity.  This activity is done independently, so it is primarily a review of previously taught topics or a skill that needs continued practice throughout the school year.  I do this so that I know that students can work independently and quietly while I am working with a small group of students. Additionally, task cards have been used in my class for earlier finishers.

"Treat" #2: Choice boards    

For every topic or unit of study that is being completed; the students are given a choice board.  This choice board allows the students to pick activities they would like to complete when they are not meeting with me during our guided math time.  It is a great way to differentiate activities to meet the needs of all of your students.  The choice board is posted in the classroom but a copy is also given to each student to keep and reference back to if needed.  The board if actually a 3 box by 3 box grid, like a bingo board with the center box being a "free space".  This allows for eight different activities for the students to complete.  Each choice board is given by topic; so it may seem like coming up with eight different activities is a lot of work, but it's all relative because it is not changed weekly but rather every two or three weeks. 

There are certain assignments that I want students to complete throughout the topic, I label them MUST DO's.  Meaning that the students must do two (at maximum) of the activities listed on the board before the end of the topic assessment.  All of the other activities (six of them) are available for them to complete.  Depending on the activity, students may be given bonus points on that topic test if they complete the activity, or even given a homework pass.  I have used a choice board in both my sixth and third grade math classes and have had very little trouble having the students "buy in" to the idea.  They love having the option of the work they want to do.  Let me stress though, that the activities provided are not "busy work" but rather, meaningful activities. 

"Treat" #3: Grudgeball:

I have posted about this in the past; but it's so great that it is worth mentioning again.  I actually found the idea of Pinterest.  It's a game that I thought would be great to motivate my students.  With the Common Core Standards in place; the pacing of our Math curriculum has become insane. There is so much to cover within a given time period. This often makes it difficult for mastery of this skills because we are often have to go on to the next skill or topic. Being that this has been this way for a while, my awesome co-teacher and I decided that we needed to switch some things up and add some more fun to math.  Our students needed to be motivated in order for them to want to learn and enjoy math. Enter Grudgeball.

As the students were comparing answers, one of us divided the board into four groups and labeled. Each groups had five rows of four X's, for a total of 20 X's under each group. We also set up a "basket" and shooting lines. (Think of a two and three pointer in basketball.) we used an empty trash can and walked 10 feet away from the basket and placed a piece of tape on the floor for the first shoot line and a second piece of tape about another foot or two from the first taped line. 

At the start of the game, we explained the rules and stressed that we will go in group order to answer the questions. The group will answer their question, and the other groups need to agree or disagree. If they agree students one student in the group gets to shoot a ball (we like one that can't bounce and is fairly small; about the size of a baseball or softball). That student can decide if they want to shoot for two extra points or three extra points (based on taped lines on the floor). If a student misses the basket, but answers the question correctly they can erase two (2) X's from any group/team they want. They can split their points into different groups. If they get the basket from the first taped line on the floor, they can erase four  X's and if they get a basket from the second taped line, they can erase five X's. If the group gets the question wrong, they do not get to erase any X;s and we move onto the next group. The students are very competitive and it becomes a fun battle as to who will erase from which of the teams. Often times, they majority of the teams go against one, or teams align with one another. Once a team no longer has X's, they have to start adding X's back, following the same point value rules. This continues on until the end of the review questions.   Again, the team with the most X's wins.

The students absolutely LOVED this game.  I mean, really LOVED.  I hadn't seen my students so excited about math.  I think the competitive nature of the game gets the students hooked; and promotes students collaborating. This was a Pinterest tried and true success! I hope you can find a way to incorporate it into your classroom too!

These are just a few of the "treats" that I have used in my classroom with success.  They have not only been a treat for me, but for my students as well.  

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Little Things

This past week, I had a student say that no teacher ever made him feel the way that I made him feel that day.  To back track a bit, this student is a very quirky one.  He has friends, yet he can be very immature, make silly voices, and annoy others.  This student believes that Disney characters are real, is obsessed with Star Wars and even asked if we can watch one of the movies on his birthday and was quite disappointed,almost shocked, when I told him that we could not fit it into our schedule.  

This student tends to struggle paying attention in a whole class setting.  If you are a teacher, you know how you feel after you get asked the same question that you answered 10 times before they even asked.  He was that student.  I always felt that I was on repeat.  But that day last week, made me see a whole other side to him.  In our guided reading group, we are reading one of the Judy Moody books and I saw this student come alive.  He had a sparkle in his eye that I hadn't yet seen from him.   As a kid that struggles staying with the whole class discussion, I was so happy to see him shine in a small group.  Excited to see him completely engaged in our activity, I kept asking him his thoughts on our novel.  The book is a bit humorous and has some silly parts, such as a musical toilet bowl.  This student created and sang a song that he felt would come from the musical toilet bowl.  Totally creative and off the cuff; my heart smiled that he was so into the book.  His song made me and his peers laugh so hard.  But what touched me was what he said afterwards.  

This student told me that I was the first teacher to ever laugh at his jokes.  My heart had been smiling, and now was a bit broken from what he said to me.  He said that everyone told him his jokes were silly and stupid.  I can't believe this.  First, I hope it isn't true.  Secondly, all I know is that I made him feel respected and appreciated.  Something as little as a laugh; and I feel that we now have a connection.  

I thought that this needed to be posted.  Not to necessarily praise myself, but to bring attention to the little things.  You never realize how important you are to a child, until one says what this student said to me.  We need to realize that a "good morning" might be the only one he/she hears in a day.  These are my tips to make your students feel extra special.  

 1.  I think one of the most important thing to do with all students is to build a relationship with every one of them.  

Get to know what interests them outside of school.  Students will feel special that you are interested in things they do.  This is important to do with all students, even the most difficult and will keep you from having issues with them in the future. I also ask students to give me their schedule for upcoming sporting events or activities that they are involved in.  I like to attend these events, again to show them that I care.  For those of you that can't possibly do that, try to ask them how things went back in school.  

2.  Praise students for even the smallest of things.  

One thing I have found that makes an impression is putting Post-It Notes on a students desk praising them for the little things.  "Great job participating yesterday!," "Thanks for being a role model for the rest of the class."  "I loved that you helped clean up the room yesterday."  " Great job practicing your multiplication facts." Little handwritten notes go a long way.  It is definitely a great confidence booster for students, and perfect for the student that starts "slipping" in class.  

3. Be specific with praise.  Avoid just using simple praise, such as "Good Job!"

Be specific in what you praise them on.  For example, I often say, "I like how you used pictures to solve your problem."  "i love how you explain your answer in detail."  " I love that you supported your answer with evidence from the text."  " I love how John is quiet in line."  It can be specific for students, but I especially like it to bring attention to other students that are not doing what they should be doing.  It kills two birds with one stone; praising one student and letting others know what your expectations are.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Kayla Itsines' BBG workout

I've tried quite a few workout routines.  By far my absolute favorite is Bikini Body Guide (BBG) by Kayla Itsines.  Kayla is from Australia and studied at the Australian Institute of Fitness where she became a AIF Master Trainer.   She became famous by using social media, such as Instagram and Facebook and posting the wonderful transformations of her clients.

This program isn't just for women that want to lose weight, but women that want to become lean, strong and the best they can be.  The workouts consist of resistance training, cardio training and stretching.  Kayla has BBG 1.0 and BBG 2.0; each of which is twelve weeks.  The resistance portion is done in circuits.  Each day consists of two rounds of two different circuits.  For each circuit, you have to complete the four exercises as many times as possible in  seven minutes.  The total workout is about a half hour.  You are to complete these circuits three times a week.  On the other days of the week, Kayla wants you to do low intensity work; what she called LISS.

This workout can be done at home (within minimal equipment...dumbbells, medicine balls, chairs/benches) or at the gym.  I sweat like a pig so doing these exercises at home is for me.  Thus far, this exercise has made me the leanest I've ever been and I noticed a big difference.  But I will say that I also continue my other classes at the gym too.  I just love spin and my weight lifting classes too much!  These HIIT (high intensity) circuits have helped me make the most change.  I am actually on my second round of 1.0.  This time around, I hope to go from BBG 1.0 to 2.0 for a total of 24 weeks.  When I first started BBG, I was lucky if I could get through two rounds of the circuit within seven minutes.  Now, I can do the same activities in four rounds within the seven minutes.

If you reached your plateau, then I think this will be just the thing to get you to see change.  I love the flexibility that you can have with it, and after 30 minutes your workout is done.  No excuses anymore.     It's definitely something you want to look into.  Check out some of these transformation photos.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Apparel for my #fitfam

This week I got a special delivery; my new workout tanks!  Not only are they cute; but are super soft, fun and motivating.  I found mine on Etsy from Blessons Apparel.  Find them at or see others @blessonsapparel.

Can't wait to wear one of these adorable tanks to my next body pump class! Strong is the new skinny!

Where were these when I needed purple and gold for pledging??? I would have rocked Little Miss Fierce! #dphieproblems

Perfect addition to my #fitfam wardrobe!

Girls Pumping Iron

My normal Saturday routine is going to the gym and take a body pump class.  I'm not talking, your 5 or 10 pound free weights; I'm talking about barbell lifting.  Many women are afraid of lifting weights due to the fear of becoming "bulky"; but we simply don't have the level of testosterone needed to bulk up like guys do.  The girls that are bodybuilders probably are taking hormone supplements, and training specifically to get that bulk. 

In researching this for myself, I learned that if you lift weights, you can have more effective fat loss.  Additionally, the more muscles that you have, the more your metabolism speeds up and the more calories you will burn at rest.   Here is a great website that I found, that even provides videos of how to effectively complete some of these moves.

Since taking these classes, I have seen more definition in my muscles (as little as they are...LOL).  Seeing this progress (not perfection) has had its benefits for me.  I feel ten times stronger than I was in my 20s, increased my energy levels, and increased my overall confidence.  Now, I don't feel like a tool going out onto the weight room floor with free weights or the machines.  I don't feel silly lifting in front of the guys either.  I honestly feel that you attract people when you exude confidence.

You can start small to see what you can handle.  I suggest either trying a class or going with someone that can assist you.  The weights I lift now are double the size, if not more, than my initial lifting weight.  Everyone starts somewhere!  Try adding some routines to

Here's to a cuter booty!


Rates, Ratios, and Proportions Task Cards

Using task cards has always been something I have loved to utilize with my students.; and they tend to love them as much as I do.  They can be used many different ways.  They can be used as a center activity; as a game with a partner or the entire class; used as a scavenger hunt around the classroom; and even for an early finisher.  I love that I can make my own and adapt them to fit the needs of my students.

One of the reasons that I love using task cards, is that it is a way to get my students out of their seats for our 90 minute mathematics block.  Ninety minutes can be a long time.  This is especially wonderful for my students with focusing issues, as well as some of my squirmy 11 and 12 year old boys in class.    Another way we get our students out of their seats and moving is during Guided Math time.  These tasks cards are perfect to use at a center/station during this time of math class as well. 
It's so nice to see my students working so nicely together! I love to pair students up with someone they don't normally associate with, or with someone with a different ability level! Task cards are even great for students to complete individually! I love making it a game and seeing how competitive these kids can get with themselves or one another! They try their best work and focused to answer all questions accurately! That's a win for me too!

Check out my Teachers Pay Teachers Store for these task cards as well as other educational material.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Screw being skinny.....

I DISLIKE being the "skinny" girl.  Did you ever think you would hear someone say that?  Probably not, but now you have.  There are multiple reasons as to why I feel this way.  I've always been the skinny framed girl, even called Katie Anorexic by people I considered my friends when I was in middle and high school.  It was their way of getting my attention in the lunch room, on the bus, or in the hallways.  Sadly enough it didn't always bother me because I thought they could be calling me worse things.  That was until I realized that being called "Katie Anorexic" really wasn't a compliment.  As an adult now, I would always get upset whenever people would tell me how skinny I was, how lucky I was or that I was crazy if I thought I needed to lose weight.  I actually can't take it...because the truth was I wasn't happy and had my own insecurities.  Has this happened to you?

Now of course, I consider myself lucky in some aspects of my frame, but I haven't always been happy with how I have looked.  First, I follow my paternal grandmother genes and have what I call a buddha belly.  I have always had fairly slim limbs, but all my weight (whenever I gained) always went to my gut.  Not my chest or my glutes (where I could use it...LOL), but the buddha belly.  The reason I would always get upset whenever someone commented on my weight was because it was how I felt about MYSELF.  I get that many people would be happy at my weight, etc...., but these were my feelings.  I knew when I wasn't eating right or working out enough, because I felt it.  I felt it through my clothes and the skin I was living in.  I always joke back and tell people that I can hide the weight there well.  So although, I "looked" skinny,  I always felt self-conscious because I didn't like the skin I was in.  I knew I COULD be in better shape.  I knew I SHOULD be eating better, (boy, could I eat) and should try to rid myself of my sweet tooth.  Was I overweight, no.  But to me the true question to ask myself was if I was happy, and I would always answer no.  I'm sure many of you can relate, no matter what your weight or what your clothing size.

We often say that life seems to get in the way.  About 5 years ago, my life felt like it was in pure turmoil and I didn't put myself first.  I drained all of my energy into something in my life that I COULD CONTROL, the things I was good at; teaching.  At the time, everything that was being turned upside down was out of my control.   It was then that I realized that I dedicated my entire life to my job. I didn't watch what I was eating or even exercise.  So of course I was unhappy,   That was until, I realized that I need to be putting myself first and taking care of myself.  You must make time.

Fast forward a few years, finally I told myself that there were no more excuses.  I got in control of my life and tried to find balance.  I was going to the gym regularly, not a few days here and there, but on a consistent basis.  Let me tell you, it gave me a high like no other.  Screw being skinny, I wanted to be STRONG!!  Little by little, I was able to run longer and faster.  I was able to lift heavier weights.  So heavy in fact, that I was squatting weight larger than some 40 year old men in my class, or even the same if not more weight than the instructor.  The more weight I packed on, the more I sweat, and the longer the fat burn.  I was losing and firming at the same time.

I changed what I was putting in my body too.  I started doing the nutritional plan of Tone it Up and became a part of a community of women that motivated one another or held one another accountable.  I took before pictures and posted them on Instagram (no, I will not be sharing...LOL) because these women knew nothing about me so I wasn't in fear of being judge, because if I didn't want to see them again, I didn't have to).  They wouldn't lie to my face because they were afraid of hurting me.  I posted my daily meals or me sweating from a crazy workout.  But I will say one thing....not one of them told me how skinny I was or how I shouldn't be there as part of the community.  They just told me to keep going.  That was the first time, I felt that others got it.  It had nothing to do with my size, but truly how I felt about myself.    I will never forget posting a side by side of my before and after.  I was shocked at my changes but also proud of my accomplishments.  It's true what they say....being fit is a lifestyle!!! You must make it part of your life if you want to see and maintain the results.  I am not where I want to be, but now I am happier with my body and proud of what I have accomplished.  Anything is possible if you set your mind to it.  You must believe to achieve.

I am still on my journey.  Want to join me?

Strong is the new skinny!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Celebrating My New Blog Design with a FREEBIE

I am so excited to share my new blog design created by the fabulous, Laine Sutherland at A Little Peace of Africa.  She was so great to work with and was very accommodating.  Those of you that know me, know that I can never make a decision and with her help and that of my friends and family; this was the outcome!    I am celebrating in every way!  I hope that this can add to my business; because teaching (and fitness) is what I am passionate about and what makes me happy.

So because I am feeling so pumped; I wanted to share a FREEBIE of mine.  How many of you are like "If it's free; it's for me!"?  Well I am feeling totally that way every September.  As teacher, we spend so much on our classroom and supplies at that start of every school year.  So much money, that I don't always have the funds available to purchase items for my classroom prize box.  Throughout a school year, I can easily spend between $400-$500 on items for my prize box.  (Trust me, sometimes, I feel like it is worth every penny.) But now as I try to save for a house too, I totally did not want to purchase anything especially at this time of the year.  As many of you feel the effects too; the last time I got paid was in June.  Plus, I need a couple of months to catch up and pay those bills I racked up over the summer.

So....I decided to create these incentives that were free or would cost me little to no money.  Let me tell you; they are truly a hit.  I never knew how many kids actually wanted to eat lunch with me, or sit in my chair.  They would save their hot tickets (my classroom incentive...stay tuned for that post) for that over a small foam football.  It is a win-win situation for all of use.  I hope you can find use for them too!  Let me know how it works out for you?


Here is the direct link to my store:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Love to Read Inspiration

This summer, I was asked to read Book Love by Penny Kittle and it was truly about promoting reading in the classroom. Something that we all want; to promote lifelong readers! When told I was to read it, I mentioned the book to my cousin whom is a 7th and 8th grade ELA teacher to see if she had ever heard of it! Of course, she said yes and that it was good, but that she had a better book that I should read because it changed  the entire way she taught. That book was called The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller! If you teach ELA at all, it is a MUST read! 

So I added this book to one of my must read professional books over the summer! It was a very quick and easy read and I haven't been the same since... LOL! After reading this book, I was so pumped to get back in the classroom! I couldn't wait to get my "kids" pumped about reading too! 

Day One, I asked my students how many books they thought was a lot to read in one school year. I got responses such as twenty, five, ten and sadly, even one.  It was then that I brought up Donalyn Miller's 40 Book Challenge.  The look on some of my students' faces was pure shock that myself and my co-teacher would be asking them to read at least 40 books this year.  I think my enthusiasm became so over the top that my students were starting to believe that they could actually do this.  My enthusiasm was so over the top that I pulled an Oprah moment..."You are going to read 40 books, and you are going to read 40 books, and you, and you."  I pointed to every student stressing that I believed that they could make this feat.  I also wanted to know where the students saw themselves as a reader, I had them complete my Reading Inventory.  This can also guide me to assist students in choosing books to read.  One of the greatest things about this challenge is that the students choose their books.  Students tend to hate reading when they have questions to answer or a project to do afterwards.  This challenge is to have students be exposed to different genres, yet given the "power" to choose their books they read.  Additionally, they don't have to do a project after every. single. book.    

The next day, I discussed the different genres and provided examples of books that fit these genres the students are familiar with.   Our school has started a Drop Everything and Read time built into our daily schedule.  I had students identify the genre of the book they were reading and the reasons why it fell into this genre.  My co-teacher and I wanted to make our pledge to read 40 books official, so we signed a poster board that I created making our pledge.  Then we asked our students who wanted to join us, and one by one each of our students signed the pledge.

To add more excitement for reading we also decided to make our Friday D.E.A.R time a "Flashlight Friday."  Students can read in the dark with flashlights.  Oh my!  I've never seen kids so excited to read before.  We even had parents write us letters saying that their child had disliked reading, and now were coming home to read during their free time.  Seriously, I'm not even joking!  This totally makes my heart smile!

Later, we wanted our students to maintain a Readers' Response Notebook to keep a reading log with a rating system, as well as a visual to see what genres they have read, or have left to read.

Instead of doing projects after reading their books, Miller suggests on doing "Book Commercials" to sell their books to classmates.  This is do be done at least once a marking period, and most importantly, not for every book.  Since I teach third grade, my co-teacher and I thought the students needed some assistance at first to organize or summarize their feelings about the book.  We also needed to stress that the students are not to give away the ending, or tell us too many details.  

We are excited to see how well and how far the challenge goes!  Will you take the challenge??

Happy Reading, 
K. Mac

Get my activities here:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Meal Prep

As a teacher, September tends to be a crazy month! There is so much to be done for the new school year that often times I find myself working 10-12 hour days! The last thing I want to do when I come home is cook, let alone make it a healthy meal! It was so much simpler to have a bowl a cereal, but definitely not good for the waistline. 

From all the health blogs I read, many of them say that meal prep is key to stay on track! So last week, I gave it a try and let me tell you; I'm hooked! Granted, I only have to cook for myself, so I was able to make my breakfast, lunches, and dinners; I still found it beneficial. Even if I had a family to feed, what I made could at least make breakfast and dinner for the week!  

I love breakfast!!! I love it so much that I can have breakfast foods anytime of day (even cereal for dinner :( ). So I started my meal prep with making a batch of protein pancakes. They are so easy to make! The Tone It Up girls have this recipe! I use half of a banana, mash it up with some almond milk, a scoop of my favorite protein powder (Perfect Fit Protein in Vanilla is my favorite for this recipe), a quarter cup of egg whites and a couple of dashes of cinnamon! That makes one pancake and will leave you full throughout the morning! I cook it on low heat and I add some fresh fruit to the top or in the batter.  These aren't the perfect pics but I made about six ahead of time and freeze them with a piece of wax paper between them in a Ziploc bag.
I also made my favorite TIU recipe, true banana chia seed muffins! To get the recipe, go to search for recipes and this recipe will be under the breakfast tab! I have sent so many of my fitness to this site because so many of them have tried and loved these delicious muffins! I can make about 20 muffins with this recipe! I keep them in the fridge. They are great for breakfast or a snack. I just hear them in the microwave for 30 seconds and they feel like they have just come out of the oven! 

Moving onto lunch and/or dinner! I started by getting spaghetti squash! The hardest part of this recipe was cutting the darn thing open in half. Afterwards, I ripped out some of the seeds.
I took some olive oil and drizzled it in open halves of the squash. I rubbed in the oil and sprinkled on black pepper and pink himaylan salt. I then placed the squash open face down on a baking sheet and cooked for 45 minutes on 350. Once it is finished all you have to do is scrape the inside with a fork and Voilà; you have spaghetti squash. In a small pan I heated up some coconut oil, put in a spoonful of garlic and some lemon juice and parsley. I drizzled it on top of the spaghetti squash and it was delish! I'm going to add some shrimp to it next time! It even fed me for five meals! There was no guilt because it was a vegetable!

My next recipe was quinoa stuffed peppers! The funny part of all of this is I was supposed to use 3 cups of cooked quinoa, and on accident I made 6 cups, because it basically doubles in size when you cook it (duh, Katie)! Oh well, I'll just freeze the extra for another week of meal prep... LOL! I got about a bag of 8 peppers from the produce market and was able to use all 8 because they were fairly small! This recipe would normally fill 6 large peppers! I placed the quinoa in a bowl, added some black beans, cut grape tomatoes, 2 jalapeño peppers, some corn, cilantro, Mexican blend cheeses (1/2 cup) and some taco seasoning. Mix it together and place mixture into the peppers. I use parchment paper to line a 9x13 baking dish, especially for the overflowing goodness! Bake on 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

I also had some fresh watermelon and grapes to snack on too throughout the week! It took a little bit of time, but well worth it; knowing I'd be eating healthy morning, noon, and night! 

Next time, I'll be making homemade Lara bars.... Can't wait to see how those turn out and maybe save myself some mulla in the long run! 

Happy prepping,

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Welcome Sign Bunting

I'm beyond excited to go back to teaching in third grade!! This past week, I spent a lot of time in my classroom that I share with my co-teacher decorating for the start of school!

One of the things I wanted to do was create bunting to invite the students (and others too) into our classroom!  We have huge three windows and I have seen other colleagues hang signs across them in the past! I am obsessed with chevron, so I wanted to create my own bunting; chevron style! My co-teacher loves to scrapbook; so I had an idea! 

First, I created my own chevron style welcome sign. Check it out my TpT store:

The best part is it is FREE!! I then asked my co-teacher to bring in some of her scrapbook papers! When she did, I picked out papers with both patterns and textures. From there, I used printed out my welcome sign letters and arranged them on the scrapbook paper. I created a template for bunting and cut all of the scrapbook papers to match. I also cut off the excess trim from my letters and aligned them in the thick scrapbook paper. I used rubber cement (if you haven't used this for your projects; you MUST try it!) to glue onto the scrapbook paper. Once dried, I laminated each and cut off the excess lamination! 

Afterwards, I attached Command hooks on both sides of the window and then strung yarn with small knots at the end to hang on the hooks. 

Finally, I used small binder clips to attach the bunting to the yarn and then I spaced them out and readjusted the length of yarn to have the right amount of swag!

Here is the final product!