Thursday, November 15, 2012

Google Chrome Read and Write App

It's new! It's Awesome! Kids and teachers are loving it! 

This app is helping bridge the gap for our struggling readers and writers. Google has developed a system that allows you to collaborate with others while providing a contextual spell checker, a word dictonary, a picture dictionary and a text-to-speech program  (reads back your text),  ALL in one document!  This is huge for our struggling readers. Students are able to hear what they write and see a picture for a word they type, this is amazing!  Example. I ate ice cream for "desert" or "dessert". Not sure of the correct word to use? Then use the picture dictionary and choose the correct spelling!

You can find the app in the Google Chrome's Web Store  FREE! It works with Google Chrome's web browser in Google Drive with all of Google Documents.

Check out Leander's Assistive Technology In Action  blog, for an example of Google's Read Write App and how technology is being used in the classroom's of Leander ISD!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cognitively Guided Instruction

What is CGI??

Understanding how children's mathematical thinking develops and reflection on how to help children build up their concepts from within (Carpenter 1999).

Children's Mathematics Cognitively Guided Instruction, Thomas P. Carpenter, 1999.

After attending a series of Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) sessions, provided by our district, it was a no brainer for me, this is the only way to teach math!! My students turned into little math investigators! They were exploring and discussing math and developing their own understating of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

I promise, if you as a teacher have not tried CGI in your classroom then you have no idea all the math your students are truly capable of and already know!!

The hardest part, as a teacher, will be letting go of the teaching. Once you stop talking and start listening, you will finally be teaching! Seriously, I kept hearing this and it hit home one day when I was with a student who was just not getting the concept of what I was teaching. After trying several different strategies I eventually said, "Okay, you teach me." It became apparent, the misunderstanding, as he was explaining it to me. The CGI for his learning became simple once I stopped talking and started listening!!

Here is link to read more on CGI from the developers. Cognitively Guided Instruction: A Knowledge Base for Reform in Primary Mathematics Instruction

The most importan thing to know in CGI is; there are three levels of developmental strategies.

1.  Direct Modeling Strategies- These kids must see exactly how the problem goes! They  need to see every number.

2.  Counting Strategies-  These kids are FINGER counters. They dont necessarily need to see every number, but use a counting strategies to go up or down.

3.  Number Fact- Theses kids know facts and know how to get to other facts from "derived facts".

A teacher needs to identify these students and place them into these category and then build their understanding of number sense to move them to the next step.

Don't tell your students how to start a problem. Only help them to "unpack" the problem. You might have to ask a question 10 ways to get them to figure out where they might need to start, but you have let THEM figure it out so they can own a strategie that works for THEM not YOU! Just remember, the one doing the talking is the one doing the learning! So teachers, STOP talking and START listening!

Below are examples of 3rd and 5th graders work, using CGI math problems.  You can see the difference in strategies. They all got the answer but in 3 different ways.

Counters and Direct Modeling

Direct Modler and Derived Facts

Your job as a CGI teacher is guide their thinking and develop higher level thinkers through the use of inquiry! will be posting lessons and centers from my CGI classroom soon!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bear Toast for Kids

 LOVE, LOVE this easy, fun breakfast toast for my 17 month old and so does he!! This idea, I know, is not new but it's new to me and WE love it! 

Bananas, blackberries and cinnamon toast are his favorite, so we just combine them in a fun way and GRRRRRR, we eat and enjoy!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Upcycling Old Knife Holder

So I was roaming through Pinterst and found such a great, crafty idea from Roaming Rolfe's blogspot! Thank you for the inspiration!

You know how I love turquoise, so again I found a fun way to incorporate it into my decor! The color is Martha Stewart Lagoon, leftover from a previous project ( Turquoise Armorie)! Here is how I did it! Now my mixer and knife holder all match! I'm loving my kitchen even more!!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wooden Photo Project

Want to make some cool gifts for family or friends?! Check out Design By Nicola FB page for a great tutorial on how to transfer photos on to wood or visit her website Design By Nicola.

I followed this easy tutorial from Design By Nicola, Part 1 and Part 2,  and then added fun embellishments to mine for Father's Day gifts! Along the way I discovered a cool new way to display family photos, as you can see I was running out of space! I just Velcroed the blocks of wood to our armorie (previous blog before and after armorie ) so I could move them around and change up the design! Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!

Super Cool and Fun to Make!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Scented Nail Polish

Strawberry, Orange, Fruit Punch, Banana, Lime!!!!!

Okay, so I saw this scented nail polish and I really wanted to try it! For only $10.00, I wasn't quite sure if it could really possibly smell like fruit. Once I opened it, really all I could smell was a tiny hint of the flavor on top of the strong smell of polish. But once it dried, I could smell the fruit! Some flavors are stronger than others, strawberry and lime, but overall I could smell a hint of fruit. The polish does not go on very smooth and has a matte finish, so I covered it with a sparkly top coat also from Claire's. Overall it was fun trying out the polish! The turquoise -fruit punch was my favorite!

Here are the links to their website of these products. 

Sweet Scents Polish Set
Sparkly Top Coat (could not find the actual one (called Disco) on their website but this one is very close)

Sweet Scents Polish from Claire's

Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Wreath

It's getting close to spring so it's time to switch out the winter wreath for a fun, festive spring wreath! I made this one the same way as my Valentine wreath.

You can purchase this wreath from me here at or Follow the simple steps below.

Here is what you need

Rick Rack Ribbon
Crayon or Marker
Straight Pens

Trace and cut circles

I use about 150-175 circles

Fold circle in half

Fold in half again

Pin to Styrofoam

I set them out to make it even as I go

Add rick rack ribbon first and start to pin circles

Pin Ribbon in to hang on door

Add a bow, Hang and Enjoy!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Delicious Cake Pops!

My family can't resist these yummy cake pops! I make them, display them and wait for them to disappear one by one! I made a batch this week for our new neighbors that moved in next door. It was a sweet, yummy welcome to your new home gift! Everyone always ask how I keep them from running down the stick, so here is how I do it.

Here is what you need

These are real cake pops. I don't mix the icing in the cake and use chocolate.

This is the trick!

 Use any cake recipe that you like. Here is the trick, if you don't want them to run down your stick, don't add as much water to your batter. When the direction say to mix in 1 cup of water, only had 1/3 cup water. The batter has to be like dough.

Use a cake pop/donut maker.

Bake in a cake pop/donut maker, bake 5-6 minutes.  Spay with cooking spray each time so they don't stick.

Let cool on a rack.

Don't ice until completely cool, about 20 minutes.

Use any icing that you like.

I tried new icing flavors from Duncan Hines called Frosting Creations. I split the can into 3 parts and made original, cotton candy and cherry vanilla. They have many new flavors to choose from and actually were very good and easy to use!

Display and Enjoy!

Sick a stick into the cake ball, be sure not to poke it all the way through. Here, I used beverage stirs because I like the colors, they were the colors of spring.  Most groceries stores don't sell sucker sticks so be creative, next I might use pixie sticks.

I also made these for my sons first birthday party but with homemade butter cream icing and they were delicious!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lollipop Cookies

Kids love cookies and suckers, so why not make cookies on a stick!
My son and I made these fun lollipop cookies for a yummy snack!

Here's what you will need

Divide dough into 5 equal parts and add color

Roll each color into smaller balls about the size of a grape

Combine one color of each small ball and roll together

Roll between fingers to get a long skinny line  about 10"

Coil dough up, use your finger as a guide to coil

Insert sticks and bake for 7 mins. Let cool on rack. Add ribbon to sticks

Decorate and Display


Eat em up! Yum!

Caught you sneaking one off the table!! But mom, they are so good!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Silk Dyed Easter Eggs

Silk Dyed Easter Eggs

This was the first time I attempted to make silk  dyed Easter eggs and it sure was fun! A little tricky but they came out pretty cool. 

I went to the local thrift shop and bought material that was %100 silk. I had to dig through hundreds of shirts but I did find some pretty cool patterns and the best part they were all under $2 bucks!

Tie egg with a twist tie or rubber band
The material has to be %100 silk or it won't work.  Wrap the egg tightly with the printed side of the silk on the egg. Make sure it is nice and tight because any part of the egg not touching the silk will not have color. ( I have seen some wrap the egg with thread to make sure every part of the egg as color).
Cover with pillow case and tie

Cover in plain fabric and tie up tight. I cut up an old pillowcase. Try not get air trapped in there because they will float up when  you boil them.

Boil 25-30
Add 1/4 cup vinegar to water and bring to a boil. Let the eggs boil for 25-30 minutes. Take out and let cool for 20 more minutes. The anticipation of seeing how they came out is so much fun. 

Display and Enjoy!

Let them dry on a cooling rack for about an hour. Display them in a fun creative way! 

Happy Easter!