You Oughta Know About . . .Vocabulary Go Fish!

Ahoy, there fellow bloggers! I am SO super excited to be linking up with Jasmine McClain from Buzzing with Mrs. McClain for her "You Oughta Know . . ." blog hop. It is my first and ever blog hop. Woo-Hoo!!! I feel so honored to be a part of this blog hop and community of teachers!

This past year has been a huge blessing for me in the teaching world. I was able to get a teaching position in an awesome school district closer to my home while still teaching my favorite grade, third grade! Oh, I should also mention that I have some cool TOAs (Teacher On Special Assignments) in my school who bring back a wealth of strategies and knowledge to share with each school site's teachers. The Reading TOA in my school, Wendy, is just truly UH-MAZING! I tell her I need something or want to try something and she is on it! No questions asked. 

Well, this past week, I told her I wanted some new vocabulary games I wanted to incorporate during Team Tasks with my kiddos. I usually use vocabulary match, vocabulary bingo, vocabulary Headbandz (which I blogged about back in September), and vocabulary charades. But . . . you know, after 10 different selections stories, the games start to seem the same. Even though my kiddos are perfectly content with the ones I already introduced, I will tell you that I was NOT! I, myself, was getting super bored and just wanted something new that I did not know about or have heard of before.  Well . . . ask and it shall be delivered! She introduced me to "Vocabulary Go Fish" and printed all of my current theme's vocabulary in color & in card stock. 

NOW, we all know the original game. BUT, in case you don't, I got you covered!

Step 1: Each person gets 5 cards, you call on someone to see if they have a card that matches yours. If they do . . . wonderful . . . you get to put down both cards. If you don't however, the person you picked says "Go Fish" and you take a card from the middle pile. The person with zero cards left wins the game. 

(Below is a picture of my kids distributing 5 cards to each person on their team and placing the remaining extra cards on the middle of the table)
Step 2: You call on a classmate in your team. You ask them for either the definition to a vocabulary word you have OR you ask if they have the vocabulary word to the definition that you have. 

The SMART part that Wendy, my wonderful Reading TOA thought of: "How do kids know if they matched their cards correctly?"

Step 3: YOUR role: facilitate and make sure that students are playing fair, following directions, and actually using the definition and vocabulary words VERSUS just looking at the emoticons/emojis.

 Step 4: I usually walk around with a clipboard to make anecdotal notes of my students. In this scenario, I use it for teamwork, knowing their vocabulary words and their definitions, and participation.
 Step 5: If a student happens to have a word and the definition in their own deck of cards, you have them share it with their tables and ask them to read and define the vocabulary word. The table checks the matching emoticons and the kid is good to go! (This came up when we played).

Why do I spend so much time on vocabulary? I think that I grew up being told that the more words I recognized and knew, the more I would expand my reading skills and speaking language. As an ELL student myself, I found this to be true. I may not have remembered every single vocabulary word that my teachers and parents have taught me, but it came in handy during my SATs and during college courses when I remembered seeing and hearing them. It eventually went from being in my short term memory to my long term memory. Now, with the invention of text messages and a world full of hashtags; more so than ever, I feel like my students need to be exposed to their vocabulary words more than just for their selection tests. 

AND, please please please don't forget to hop on over to fellow teacher bloggers for some  more "You Oughta Know . . . "


Five for Friday . . . Why Are a Bunch of My Kiddos Out with the Flu?

Just call me sickle cell Kristin because that is exactly what my sorority sisters wanted to nickname me before my pledge sisters thought it would be more appropriate to call me "Ross" from Friends. I seriously JUST got over my fever this past weekend and now I am sick again with the flu. My body aches and my throat is hoarse. I had 6 kiddos gone the last 3 days from my classroom. A few more were called today to go home early. I am currently writing this blog in a drowsy Nyquil state of mind. But don't mind me, because it's been a few Fridays since I linked up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky party.

**Be forewarned that you have been advised. Any typos are a product of my Nyquil induced state of mind.**

Adam Glendon Sidwell, the author of Fetch & EverTaster came to my school for a book signing and an assembly on "The Art of a Story". It was such a fun and interactive assembly! Sidwell uses elements of telling a story that all writers must have in order to publish a good book. He uses academic language such as "rising action", "climax", "moral or theme", and he talked about how his books weren't written in just one day. He had actually spent 8 months writing EverTaster and revising and editing until he was proud and content with the end product.

He also does graphic animations for movies like Tron, Toy Story 3, King Kong, Thor, and many other ones I can't think of. Visit his website to learn about his assembly and his work. Below is a quick snippet of his book that was turned into a movie:

The assembly tied in perfectly with how my students JUST finished sharing their Published personal narrative pieces just last week. They took turns coming up to the document camera and sharing their stories. As a class, we all got to give each other constructive feedback according to the rubric that was presented to them before they started writing.

This past month I joined Jameson at Lessons with Coffee for my first ever Slant Box. I have been exchanging e-mails with the ladies that have been paired up with me. One of them I make a Slant Box for and the other makes one for me. I just feel so happy getting to know new fellow bloggers. I am lucky to have been paired up with really talented and hard working ladies. (Obviously I am no dum dum and won't be posting a pic of the contents in my box in case the person I am sending it to reads this)! 


I was recently contacted by Jasmine McClain from Buzzing with Mrs. McClain to join her blog hop. First of all, I was SO honored that I just couldn't turn it down. It'll be my first ever blog hop so please keep a look out for some "You Oughta Know..." posts & my specific topic from myself and other wonderful teacher bloggers out there.

Last, but certainly not least . . . it is World Series time and even though my team is behind by 2, I have complete faith that the SF Giants can pull it off! Tomorrow is another day. #OrangeOctober 


Liebster Award Nomination

Wow . . . what a relaxing and fun Sunday! Sheri from Early Years with Sheri 

just nominated my blog for the Liebster Award. This award goes to new bloggers with less than 200 subscribers. Thanks again Sheri for the nomination!

I now get the pleasure of answering 11 questions about myself and then nominate 11 more new bloggers for this award.  So, here I go:

1. Why and how long ago did you start blogging?
I seriously just started blogging this past Summer. I have been following a lot of teacher blogs, fashion blogs, lifestyle blogs, and crafting blogs for quite some time now. I even tried my own lifestyle blog last year, but constantly having to update all the time was very time consuming and it just didn't work out for me. Then my friends whom I worked with started blogging and I saw how much fun they were having exchanging ideas and collaborating with people around the world. It really opened my eyes to how you don't have to be in the same school as someone else to collaborate and share best teaching practices. I want to grow as an educator and part of it is learning from others and sharing what I know and do best.

 2. What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why? 
Love. Which is why I came up with the play on word with my last name "Li" for my blog. I love what I do and am passionate about what I do from the moment I wake up and step out of my bed to the moment my students greet me on school campus. Teaching and sharing what other great teachers have passed on to me truly makes me feel happy and gives me a meaning and purpose to my life. I just LOVE it!

3. Is there something you learned late in your blog journey you wished you knew before? 
I did learn that there are some people that don't bother responding to your comments just because you are a brand new blogger or because you CHOOSE not to sell products you create on TpT. I wouldn't change anything about my journey; as I know in my heart my blogging intentions and am content with what I have. Megan, from Teaching Super Power has been a real sweetheart! Not only does she make and design blogs, is a BIG time blogger, but she is a teacher herself and always makes time for her followers by answering and commenting back on their questions. She really gave me some great advice on tips and tricks to the blogging world. I heart her!!!

4. What is your favorite past time other than blogging
Napping! Back in the good ol' days I used to stay up all night and sleep all day. I didn't take care of my body by giving it the proper 8+ hours of sleep. Then came my 30s and my body is now paying for it. Like my mother likes to tell me, "Before your 30s you abuse your body. After your 30s your body abuses you!" Why don't I ever listen to my mother when she is trying to teach me a lesson at the moment of....but pay for it way later? Booooo.....

5. How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog? 
Maybe 2-3 hours per week depending on if I have content to share or if I am busy at school. I like to stay in my classroom after the day is over until I am ready for the following day. I try, again keyword: T-R-Y, very hard to not take work home. But things like printing my centers, laminating, and making my anchor charts can only happen at my home. So that is always going to be my priority after my family, of course. 

6. What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most? 
I LOVE anything classroom organization related, D.I.Ys, fun projects and art, fashion outfit of the days, and anything subscription box related. I can read and troll these blogs for hours! Which means I learned nothing about the importance of sleep because I often give up valuable sleeping time to stay up reading these blogs.

7. Where does your blog inspiration come from? 
My first blog inspiration came from Hope King's Elementary Shenanigans. She has the cutest blog layout template, classroom decor sets, and awesome teaching ideas! Then there is Kristen from Lady Bugs Teacher Files who makes the most awesome products I know! They are truly awesome and all my $$$ often goes to their TpT products. They are both just SO organized and talented!!!

8. Which post that you've written are you most proud of?
My Pinterest Board Covers from August 3, 2014 that was inspired by Lady Bugs Teacher Files after I saw how she organized her Pinterest. It took me HOURS to make my own covers and A LOT of Melonheadz (not complaining because I HEART Melonheadz clip art) clip art to make my covers. 

9. Is there any post you have been planning to do, but have postponing it for a while now? 
Yes, I keep forgetting to show my super organized sub tub and sub folder organization. For years now, subs always leave me a thank you note to my attention to detail and explanation. I do take pride in the fact that I take good care of my subs. In turn, they take good care of my kiddos and follow the lesson plan that I leave for them. Unfortunately, every time I remember I want to make a post about this, I am either exhausted, sick, lazy, or busy catching up on my Tivo.

 10. What is your favorite aspect of blogging? 
I think Sheri from Early Years with Sheri  said it best. I think my favorite part is that I am learning from teachers across the web some truly rigorous and engaging lessons to incorporate in my classroom. It keeps me motivated to give my students instruction that is meaningful and challenging at the same time. 

11. Which recipe, project, or idea on my blog would you be most likely to try yourself? 

I'm a big believer in Interactive Notebooks. So much so, that I am incorporating them in Social Studies and Science this school year. I would LOVE to incorporate Sheri's 2D shapes page when I hit my Geometry Unit.

Pay it Forward: My Liebster Nominations

2. Katie Foley - The Pawsitive Pencil
3. Felicia MacFarland - Oh, Snap! Elementary
4. Alexis Hudgens - Mrs. Hudgens Hears a Who
5. Melissa Cloud - A Teaspoon of Teaching
7. Nicole - Beginning with Baer
9. Jessica -Tk And Tassels 

Now that you've been nominated, here are the "official" rules for accepting:
1. In your post, link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and "shout out."
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you (the ones I answered above).
3. Nominate 11 blogs of your choice that each have less than 200 followers. Provide them with 11 questions to answer or have them answer the questions above.
4. Let your nominees know that they've been nominated and provide them with a link to your post so that they can accept.
5. Send your nominator a link to your post so that s/he can learn more about you as well! (You can just put your post link in the comments below!)


Organizing Technology in Your Classroom

Ahoy there, bloggers! Have you recently had the AWESOME privilege of having your own class set of laptop carts in your classroom? My district had some extra funding this past school year and each classroom in grades 2-5 will be getting their own laptop cart and 26 laptops (for grades 2-3) and 35 laptops (for grades 4-5). 

Now . . . anyone that knows me well, knows I LOVE technology. So much so, I miss my SmartBoard. Booo... (that's another story).

Oh well, life goes on (I suppose).

Like many teachers in my school, I was excited to get rid of the old desktops that took up too much classroom space. I decided to not keep any of my desktops and only keep my laptops. I knew that as a teacher, it would be a lot of work to get the routine for myself and for my students going in terms of how to properly treat their laptops. But, after 3 weeks of consistently implementing it every single day, things are running smoother and much better.

The first thing I recommend if you happen to have a cart (then you will definitely KNOW what I am talking about) is to get some organization with the charging cords and ethernet cords itself.

What You Will Need:

  1. label machine
  2. twisty cord ties
  3. labels for the labeling machine

This is what my cart looks like from afar when it is open:
(Can I say how awesome it was that I was given purple bins to store all the mouse and headphones)?!?

I not only used a labeling machine to number the mouse and headphones, but I have one going around the proper cord and ethernet cord. Upon sticking the labels, I felt the need to secure them better with a twisty tie (I believe I got mine from Daiso, a Japanese dollar store).

Now a close up view of the inside of my laptop cart:

Each slot was properly numbered by the technicians in the District Office before being delivered to each classroom. However, after using it for a day, I realized that the cord situation was a HOT MESS!  They tangle once everything is unplugged, making it super difficult to figure out which cord went where. On top of that, if you messed up on the cords; then boy oh boy you would have to unplug everything and start again because the cords only reach a certain amount of length. Frustrating to say the least! 

What does this crazy, needs everything organized lady do? I stayed after school one day for an extra hour to get all of these cords organized is what I did! First, I made sure that I had all of the cords paired up with the right cords. Next, I used the labeling machine to number the cords so I knew which laptop and slot went with which cords. Finally, I used twisty cord ties that I had and bonded everything together. It sure was a plus that the twisty cord ties came in my exact classroom colors (totally unplanned too, I had these twisty cord ties forever and never put them into use). Life is great I tell ya!!! No more messy cords either!

Laptop Pass Out Daily Routine:

  1. First thing I do when I come in the morning is unplug the charging cord and the ethernet cable. 
  2. I hired (Yes, hired because my students have to persuade me in their job application to why they deserve a classroom job) 2 technology crew members. Every morning after our morning calendar and daily routine, they help pass out the headphones and mouse. Before we pack up and go home, they put away all the headphones and mouse.
  3. They also come and help me pass out the laptop and put them away at the end of the day.
  4. A bonus job, is that they also get to help any classmate that still does not know how to properly shut down a computer. 
  5. I always count the laptops before any child is allowed to get their backpacks or leave the classroom. 
  6. Being the super anal person that I am, I also am the one that plugs and unplugs the chargers and ethernet cable cords because if that thing breaks...there goes my classroom technology time.
How I use the Laptops in my Classroom:

  1. May Do time for our school wide typing - "Typing Agent"
  2. Assessments - my District purchased the ability to have students take their core curriculum assessments online, as well as district benchmark tests online. 
  3. Inquiries and research projects
  4. Class forums and discussions - Last year I purchased my own domain name and built my own classroom website thru Weebly. Weebly has a feature where I can post forum discussions, surveys, and quick charts for students to vote and answer questions on.
  5. Accelerated Reader & Accelerated Math
  6. Virtual Re-reads - My district also purchased virtual features that allow the students to watch grammar snapshot videos, re-read their selection story for the week, or take performance tasks online.
  7. Virtual Math Manipulatives-Singapore math gives virtual manipulative access to students online for their math
  8. Writing - students now can publish their own writing piece using MS Word. 
  9. Powerpoint presentations for Science & Social Studies
Of course, with anything classroom related, you have to teach, model, and train your students with what you want them to learn. It will be challenging in the beginning, but they pick up these things fast!
There is SO much you can do with them. I am a little sad though that I can't sign my students up for their own e-mails (due to internet safety issues). I wish my district would purchase the kiddos a safe email addy for all of them so that I wouldn't have to go around with my USB drive saving their work or e-mailing them to myself when I forget my USB drive at home. I have 2 friends at different school districts that said their district actually provided the students with their own Google accounts. Sounds SO awesome! Seriously, the only CON I have experienced is the ethernet cables being so new and dang tight. I had to pinch it with my nails to get them out. They are starting to get more loose, so my nails are happy.


October Currently: Fall is Here!!!

Whee . . . it's October! I know for some teachers this is their least favorite time of the year due to the kiddos being on a sugar high, costume crazy frenzy; but I heart Halloween! I can't wait until October 31st and do some Spook-tacular activities with my class. (I know a lot of you out there are excited that Halloween falls on a Friday this year).

BUT, in the meantime, I will settle for the beginning of October and enjoy all the food and fruits that the fall season brings. Beginning of October also means ... drum rolls please ... October Currently! I am linking up with Farley from Oh'Boy 4th Grade again.


All About that Bass by Meghan Trainor. I am seriously obsessed with this song. It is so catchy and the message to young ladies all women to accept their own body is pretty powerful too. I love that Jimmy Fallon did a classroom instruments version on the Tonight Show.


It's my momma's birthday tomorrow! The end of September and first week of October is a tough one for me when it comes to buying gifts and making cards because not only is it my mother's birthday in October 2nd, but my sister's birthday is a week before hers on September 28. Ooof...my poor wallet!

I am SO in love with the way my card turned out. Of course, I won't take all the credit. I asked my sister to help me cut the actual 3-D box while I stamped, used the big shot, and cut my heart away. I hope my mom loves her card as much as I do!


Still thinking about winter break and starting a countdown on my desktop calendar. Enough said!!!


Oh...another reason why October is wonderful... it means I am that much closer to Black Friday shopping. I know that Silhoutte did a BOGO last year of their machine. I had a tight budget last year, so I am hoping this will be the year I can get me one. This way, I can have one in my classroom and one at home. 


And, I really need to get my way to Michaels since they have 50% off coupon this week. I want me one of these awesome Fuji Film Instax cameras. Of course, mine is going to be the pink one!


To spare everyone from too much T.M.I, let's just keep it simple and say that I need a day to pamper myself. I tend to always forget to do what I need to for myself once the school year starts. I am hoping this weekend I will be able to go take care of all my essential maintenance routine!

Trick or Treat

"Trick or treat, smell my feet . . . give me something good to eat!" Yes . . . I am SUPER mature! I think I even on both. I need a good trick (spook) but I equally want all my treats!