Monday, November 10, 2014

Brain Breaks with!

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Have you heard of need to go, if you haven't!  It's a super fun brain breaks website for your class.  It features tons of dance and kid-friendly videos to move to.  It also has relaxation videos.  You and your class can create an avatar.  This avatar grows and becomes a champion as your class accrues more minutes doing brain breaks or exercises.  My first grade students last year...LOVED it!  

Classroom management tip here:  I told them they needed to show me UH-MAZING focus during our lesson and independent work and if they did well...then...GO NOODLE!  They got to work and stayed focused ASAP...with the excitement and anticipation of a brain break in mind!  

On top of's free to sign-up!  And you know how I love FREE.  :)  

Please come back and post a comment about how your students reacted to it.  Thanks!


It's Been Awhile!

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Hello again!'s been awhile...a LONG while!  If you're still sticking around...I THANK YOU!

Why have I been MIA, you ask?  Well...since my last post 10 months ago, I bought a house in England, visited family & friends in CA, one of my dogs passed away, friends came to visit, and the most exciting and educationally-related change is...

...I'm back in special education, as both a resource specialist and special education chairperson for my school!  It's been a good 2 years in general education and as much as I loved being a first & second grade teacher, my heart and passion continues to be in special education.  So when the opportunity presented itself...I grabbed it!  It's another change and learning curve for sure.  My previous sped experience have ranged from mild/moderate to moderate severe pre-k & kinder students.  Now...I'm working with fourth & fifth grade students with mild to moderate special needs in the general education population.  My awesome students come to me in the resource room and we work on their individual needs.  On top of that...I'm also the special education chairperson for my school.  Nothing like leading a team to jump right back into sped.  Another experience to add to my repertoire! Learning curve?  Yeah...just a little.  Stressful at the beginning, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.

So...I'm back!  I have my forever friend, Michelle Strazzeri, owner of in Orange County, CA and to thank for being an inspiration. 

How's your school year going?  I'd love to hear it!

Stay tuned!  



Friday, January 3, 2014


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To write your mind is to create your story.

One of my New Year Resolutions is to write more...create.

I often tell my students that writing is simply putting down what you are thinking on paper. Writing can be about anything that is in your mind.  Writing can be recreating your day's story or creating a fantasy.  Writing is beautiful.

My students used to often say to me, "I can't write."  I tell them, "There is no I can't. What you think in your head, you can write.  Just say the word slowly to try to hear all the sounds in the word.  You can do it."  (By the way, I don't tell my students to just sound out the word, I find "say the word slowly to try to hear all the sounds in the word" is more directive and effective.)  

I love to see my students write their thoughts onto paper.  I love seeing them grow in their fine motor skills, spelling, sentence structure, grammar, and thinking.  The more my students practice their writing, the more confident they become in creating, dreaming, and sharing their stories, which is the goal.

However, the more I think about my writing, I've also realized that writing is difficult.  As an educator, I want to write to inform and inspire my readers, as opposed to writing (or "blogging") just to fill in space.  I want to create something that is worth reading because in today's world I know how valuable our time is in this infinite chaotic space that is the WWW.  

Being more selective and thoughtful in my writing is for me.  Writing for my young students is a completely different story.  

My first grade students this year, they write something every day.  They have writing journals that they write in every morning during morning work.  The writing prompts can range from what they did over the weekend, their reflection on a topic we learned, their thoughts on an event that happened, etc.  Beyond the daily writing journals we also create class books for our classroom library, which they love to read from.  

Like I said, writing is creating a story.  I'd like my students and their parents to look back in their writing journals at the end of the year and see the amazing growth they've made.  We started school in late August and the difference in their writing from beginning to present day amazes me.  Some of my students came to me with the emergent stage of writing (stringing random letters together to represent words) and within 4 months, they've past the transitional stage of writing (spelling words correctly by recognizing patterns) to the fluency stage of writing (writing in sentences resembling adult writing).  

I appreciate your time.  How do you get your reluctant students to write?  Please share your thoughts.  Thanks for stopping by.  


Monday, December 30, 2013

Motivation (Intrinsic & Extrinsic)

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During my undergraduate years, I remember taking a psychology course and within this course, I still remember learning about the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.  The topic still intrigues me and I'm always drawn to articles related.  

Motivation.  According to Psychology Today, "Motivation is literally the desire to do things."

There are two types of motivation:
1: Intrinsic Motivation.  It is that inner desire or drive that makes you do something because you want to because you enjoy it or are interested in it.  You doing something for the sake of doing it and not for anything or anyone else, but doing something for you. 


2: Extrinsic Motivation.  Doing something for an external or tangible reason, ie helping another person out because s/he asked, working to earn money, or acting on something for a praise or encouragement.  Extrinsic motivation is doing something and seeking something in return.  
Now, yes, we all act for both intrinsic and extrinsic reasons, but today I came across another article regarding praise.  Praise is an extrinsic motivation that educators use daily.  There is a right and wrong way to praise as an extrinsic motivator.

As a teacher, I'm all about intrinsic motivation within students.  How?  Strangely enough, encourage students extrinsically (to a certain degree) in hopes to achieve the intrinsic motivation within themselves.  To feel proud of their work and act on their own without always searching for a tangible or verbal reward from others.  When I praise my students, it's about acknowledging a specific effort, as opposed to just a "Good job."  Good job to what?  Be specific.  If a child reads 10 books, state the fact that the child read TEN books!  If a child drew a beautiful picture, comment on what you like about the picture.

I prefer praise to be specific, but I also prefer praise to be minimal and/or random and unexpected.  Sometimes I reward my students with ClassDojo (see the ClassDojo post) positive points or other external rewards (lunch with teacher, bring a stuff animal to class, etc.) for doing good, other times I don't, even if they did something good (hence the "to a certain degree" comment).  I often tell them "Sometimes you get rewarded, sometimes you don't; do you feel good about what you did?"  They always respond with, "Yes."  I smile and simply say, "Okay." 

I often hear them tell each other, "It's okay, sometimes you get rewarded, sometimes you don't."  

I like to keep them on their toes.  Will intrinsic motivation grow and resonate with them?  I will be biased and brag and say that my students are the kindest and will do things for others on their own.  Intrinsically motivated?  I hope so.  :)

What do you think?  What's your take on motivation these days?  How do you motivate your students?

Ms. Lulu Teaches' 2014 New Years Resolutions

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It's almost 2014 and as I've sat here for the past 2 hours, I've perused the net (as I usually do) and looked back at what I've written and shared with the WWW (hehehe).  

Now, I don't normally do new years resolutions, let alone share it...but I've seen results in writing things down.  It's an accountability thing, as well as affirmative statements turn to successes-type of action here.

Ms. Lulu Teaches' 2014 New Years Resolutions

  1. Write more...Create.  Whether it is in a journal, blogging, tweeting, or creating classroom materials.  Ideas as an educator.  Diary life.  Those in-the-moment epiphanies.  
    • Goal: Write at least 4 times a week.
  2. Read more.  Whether it is news & research articles on education or daily news in general.  Fiction.  Non-fiction.  Best sellers.  Classics.  Firing up that Kindle.  
    • Goal: Read daily for both pleasure and education-related thoughts.
  3. Exercise consistently.  I exercise throughout the year.  I get into Beachbody programs, like P90X, Insanity, and currently with Focus T25.  
    • Goal: Exercise 5 days/week & be consistent.
So, there you have it.  Keeping it short & simple.  Keep me accountable?  :)


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Bring Coloring Pages to Life in 3D with ColAR Mix App!

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Recently, I stumbled upon this cool website/app called .  You need to check it out.  Kids can turn a picture into 3D art with a mobile phone or iPad.  1) You print a coloring page from the website. 2) Kids color the page in crayon or colored pencil (markers don't seem to work).  3) You or their parents download the ColAR Mix App onto mobile phone or iPad.  4) Using the App, you take a
picture of the colored page.  5) Voila!  The kid's colored page comes to life in 3D!

I think it's awesome for all ages.  It promotes fine motor skills and technology at the same time!  And if you're creative enough, you can implement it into your curriculum.  

I tried the bird and worm coloring page with my first graders, as it corresponds with our animal theme in science.  My students loved it!  


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Great Apps for the CC (Common Core) Classroom

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Thanks to Frizzle, a Scholastic blog, here is an excellent website that lists Great Apps for the Common Core standards classroom!

They are not all free, but I've downloaded a few on my iPhone and I love them as a teacher and organizer, while my students are engaged with these tech savvy websites to help them learn and play in the areas of language arts and math.

I'm interested in this Shake-a-Phrase app, but hesitate in buying it right now.  If YOU buy it, please let me know if you recommend it or any of the apps listed.  Thank you kindly!

What do you think of Common Core?  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Behavior Think Sheet

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If you read my Beginning of the Year Information, you would find the documents I sent out to my first graders' parents this year.  

Within this document it talks about my class' behavior plan and how I incorporate ClassDojo, which my first graders love!  I talk about giving my students 3 strikes when they break a class rule.  

1st strike is just a verbal warning and a negative point on ClassDojo.

2nd strike is to take time during their afternoon recess to reflect on their behavior with the Behavior Think Sheet.  Rather than have my students lose recess by just sitting out, they need to reflect on what they did on the Behavior Think Sheet.  Once they finish the sheet and we've discussed the behavior, then they're free to play again, if there's time left.  This Sheet goes home with the student with the expectation that parents discuss it with him/her, sign it, and return the Sheet the next day.

Feel free to use the Behavior Think Sheet.  Please leave me a comment and let me know how it goes for you.  

Thank you!


Beginning of the Year Information

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Hello there!

I just wanted to share with you the information I send out to parents the first week of school.  In this pdf file, you will see:

-Introduction to me 
-Class information
-New school year questionnaire 

When I send several papers home at a time, I make sure they are in different colors.  One, so it's colorful.  Two, so parents can see the different & separate information.  Three, in case the student does not return a certain paper, I can identify the needed document by color.  Some of these pages (2 & 3 and 5 & 6) I print front & back to save paper, and because they just go together.

I hope this helps smooth things out for you and your beginning of the year!

Sunday, September 1, 2013


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Okay, so if you are about making posters of quotes then this is the site for you!  Recite is where you can "turn a quote into a masterpiece."  Pretty neat.  You can type just about anything and they have a plethora of backgrounds and cool fonts that will create your quote into something awesome!