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To say this past school year was a challenge would be an understatement. I knew that creating a new curriculum for a new course would be challenging. I was prepared for that though, and it turns out, I did it very well. What I didn't know it that my mom would pass away. I was not prepared for that in any way, shape or form.

In early February my mom was admitted to the hospital for food poisoning, but in all the tests to figure out what was causing her vomiting they discovered her pancreas had a very enlarged duct and they were worried about cancer. On February 20th my mom had surgery to have her spleen removed and part of her pancreas due to an enlarged pancreatic duct. She was to stay in the hospital for 10 days for recovery. The surgery itself went great. It wasn't cancer like we feared and the doctor was very positive when he talked with us after surgery. We were euphoric to say the least.

On Sunday, February 26th mom came home. Earlier than expected, but she was going to the bathroom on her own and that's what they were waiting for. Again, good news.

Late Monday afternoon mom started feeling bad. She said that she felt really hot but she was freezing to touch. She also had stopped urinating. My sister called the hospital and they wanted mom to come down immediately. Dad called and said not to worry, don't come down to the hospital. He felt like maybe she had some kidney issues, and she may stay over night, but it would be okay.

At 2am my brother called me asking that I open my front door. He needed to talk to me. I didn't want to open that door, because I knew what he was going to tell me and I didn't want to hear it.

Around 1am on Tuesday, my mom had died.  My dad was with her, but he didn't really recall what happened. They removed him from the room and started doing CPR when moms blood pressure bottomed out. But in the end. They couldn't save her. He was in such shock, he couldn't tell us what caused her death.

In late May we received her teach certificate. Mom died from sepsis.

Reading that on her death certificate was my undoing. I couldn't comprehend it.

I knew my mom. She wouldn't have complained when she started feeling bad. She wouldn't have wanted to worry my dad or have him take her back to the hospital and wait on her again. She would have hoped that the feeling would pass.

But it didn't.

My mom and I weren't BFF's, but she was my mom. And her death hit me harder than I could have imagined. I have not handled her death well and it was a real struggle to get through it. I'm still struggling.

But I know that time heals, and I'm trying to give myself the time I need.

Hopefully, I'll be back to blogging on a regular basis soon. But until then, please say a prayer for me and for my family. They say the first year is the hardest. I'm discovering that it's true.

I never really considered online teaching until I realized that with 4 kids our doctor bills were getting outrageous. I googled online teaching jobs, and I found VIPKID. That day changed my life.

I found a new love for teaching. Each day I wake up and start my day teaching English to Chinese students. Do I know Chinese? Not a bit. But this company has paved the way for American and Canadian teachers to share English with Chinese students ages 5-12 with a unique online learning platform.

I set my schedule each week and I can work at little or as much as I want. I am pumped for summer, because I can open my schedule fully. The support from the company is amazing and parents truly want their kids to succeed. 

I don't create a single lesson. I don't have meetings. I'm not dealing with unrealistic admin expectations or crazy parent demands. 

I. Teach. 

I get supported. I get praised. I am offered incentives. 


If you are considering a second job or would like to broaden your teaching experience I encourage you to apply with VIPKID. 

I haven't regretted it one bit. The extra income as allowed me to pay of thousands of dollars in doctor bills. Remodel my house. And in a few weeks. I will have a new pool installed. None of that would have been possible without this company. 

With bonuses and incentives you can make $20-$22 per hour doing what you love without leaving your home. 

Trust me. Apply. You won't regret it! 

My transition room has been in a great deal of transition this year. Trying to find a schedule that works for us, curriculum that is on our level, and just getting a flow together has been exhausting! But, it's finally coming together!

As you may know, my district is 1:1 so every student in my room has an iPad mini. With that luxury does come some requirements. We have to use the tech obviously, but we are being asked to use Canvas (a learning platform mostly used at universities) in our classrooms. I could not wrap my head around how to get this to work with my T1 kids, but after much thought I finally developed interactive phonics lessons.

I created these lessons to follow my Saxon Phonics lessons. I will eventually have all the letters of the alphabet. Currently, I am creating on an "as needed" basis so it's random. I kept thinking I'd get ahead over Thanksgiving break but my house was hit with a nasty cold, so that didn't happen!

I was required to teach using Canvas for my long 40 minute observation. I used the following lesson for that observation and my admin loved it!

Phonics Lesson - Letter Z

These lessons are meant to be interactive. My students write in the missing letter, circle, draw lines, and get moving during these lessons. And the best part? They love them! I can keep their attention for the ENTIRE lessons. That's major for my wiggly kiddos.

I hope you find these lessons as useful as I do.


P.S. If you love this lesson and want more just like it, please head to my TPT store.

I love being a teacher. It's all I've ever wanted to do. But, it doesn't pay the bills.

Especially when you are a family of 6 and have a special needs child and 3 more accident prone boys. Within 8 months 2 of my kids had major surgery, and I was left with thousands of dollars in doctor bills.

I started looking around for an online teaching position and I stumbled upon VIP Kid.

VIP Kid is an online platform for Chinese students ages 5 - 12 to learn English. It has been a perfect fit! I have to work a minimum of 7.5 hours a week but I have the option of working more. I teach 25 minute classes and then switch to another student.

VIP Kid makes the Power Points that you use and you have 25 minutes to teach a 25 - 35 slide Power Point. I typically teach phonics with some grammar, math, and geography thrown in.

Beijing is 12 hours ahead of Indiana so I teach a 6:30 am class followed by a 7:00 am class and then I leave for work Monday - Friday. On Friday nights I teach a class at 9:00pm, 9:30, and 10:00.

Saturday and Sunday I teach from 7:00 am to 9:30 and then I teach again Saturday night. I'm teaching while my kids are asleep so I'm not missing out.

And I get a nice pay check around the 15th of the month. I'm finally making a dent in all of my doctor bills!

If you'd like to learn more just follow this link.

Don't freak out about not having an ESL license. I don't have one either. If you know how to teach Phonics, you'll be great! 


I knew that this school year would be full of changes. I was moved from 4th grade to a new Transition to First grade room. I spent the summer planning and thinking my students to be lower first grade students. Turns out, it's more of a repeat kindergarten room with 11 students. I had to completely change my mindset.

At the beginning of the year I had 11 students that didn't know 26 letters / sounds. We didn't know our numbers, shapes, or colors. Not 1 student knew how to write a sentence or even how to write with spaces between words. I had 3 students that were spelling their names wrong, and 11 students that could not login to their iPads with their usernames/passwords. What we knew on Monday, we didn't remember on Wednesday. To say it was a shock would be an understatement.

I had to completely revamp my entire curriculum. I had to find resources. I had to figure out to make my schedule work. I'm just now starting to get into a routine. We are 32 days in, and I'm still not certain that my routine is working. I'm constantly making changes and pulling new resources.

So what resources am I using? Good question. I'm trying to stay away from curriculum they've already used. Instead of the new Reading Street series I'm using Reading Street 2008 and scrambling to find resources. If anyone has the weekly selection test book for Kindergarten please send it my way. The Reading Street Common Core assessments are entirely inappropriate. I want the weekly selection tests that were over the story we working on all week, but I can't find it anywhere!

For Math I'm using the Kindergarten Harcourt book.

After we finish the kindergarten book I'll move on to the first grade edition. 

I love the Scope and Sequence of this math series. I had to order 1 copy of the student workbook from Amazon and I make copies each week. But it's worth every penny! My district currently has enVision and I'm not a fan of it at all! Being given the freedom to go back and use Harcourt was a major plus. We are adopting Math this year and I hope we adopt Go Math for Indiana. It's more in line with this Harcourt series, and has a digital component. Fingers crossed! 

For some Harcourt Math resources click here. 

For Phonics our district uses Saxon. I tried to start with the first grade Saxon and that was kind of working until we hit blends. That was a major disaster and I went home in tears that day! After talking with our Title 1 Reading Instructor we decided to go back to Kindergarten Saxon. I'm only doing the last 2 days of each letter as that's more our level and will get us through the letters and onto blends/digraphs. Once I finish kindergarten, I'll go back to the first grade Saxon and start it over. 

I'm also creating digital Phonics Lessons that follow the Saxon Scope and Sequence. I plan on using these with Canvas our digital platform. It's similar to Schoology. Students will be able to annotate the slides with me while I monitor them using Apple Classroom. Stay tuned to my TPT store for these when I finish! I can't wait to share them with you. 

I'm also implementing Minds in Motion in my school. Minds in Motion is an AMAZING program that helps students with hand eye coordination, motor skills, balance, and this all carries over into the inner ear. You would be amazed at how much the inner ear has to do with student success. 

And on top of all of this I've started a second job as a VIP Kid teacher, and I'm in the middle of a basement remodel.


Stay tuned for a Blog post about being a VIP Kid teacher. I absolutely love it!

When I received word that I was being moved back to Scottsburg, I was also told I would be teaching a new classroom.  This classroom would be for students that did not need to repeat kindergarten, but they weren't ready for first grade either. It would be a "Gift of Time" room. I would have a max of 15 students. I would teach kindergarten the first half of the year, and first grade the second half of the year. At the end of the year my students would be promoted to first grade for the following year. 

I was told that I wouldn't follow the kindergarten curriculum or the first grade curriculum. I also wouldn't use the textbooks for those grades. I would have free rein on my curriculum. 

Hmmmmmm.......sounds like a dream doesn't it? 

But, this means that I'm winging it. I have no standards, I have no Scope and Sequence. That first week of school I will see where my students are, and I'll go from there. 

I'm a planner. I like to know what I'm doing, and how I'm going to do it. 

Right now, this new assignment feels very vague. I've tried Googling Transitional First Grade, and there isn't a lot out there. My TPT cart is full of materials that I think I could use, but again, I'm not sure. 

These are a few of the TPT products that look promising: 

Anyone else a T1 teacher out there? How does your classroom look? Pros/Cons? What works? What doesn't? 


Last night I was sitting in the yard with my sister when I heard the words every mother dreads to hear.

"Don't tell mom!"

I quickly jumped up from my chair and ran around to the side of the house where I found my twins, my dog, the neighbor boy, and 3 dead baby birds.

It seems that the neighbor boy wanted to check out the birds in the nest in the tree by the house. Gavin decided to get a stick and tilt the nest so they could see. As you can imagine, that did not end well. The poor birds along with the nest fell out of the tree, and my dog got to the birds before I did.

I was traumatic for all of us. I was beyond upset that the boys went against the "Stay away from the birds" rule that has been in place for weeks. I was alarmed that Gavin didn't seem to know how to act after the fact. I was upset that they their first instinct was to hide what they had done, instead of calling for help.

The neighbor boy was sent home. I disposed of the birds. Both boys were sat down and we talked about hiding things is not the way to handle things. We also talked about how animals deserve to be treated just like humans. It doesn't matter if it's a cat, dog, baby bird, etc. Neither of the boys were wanting to talk about how it happened, they were more concerned about why the dog attacked the birds. We talked for awhile, and the boys were sent to bed.

This morning both boys woke up and came and hugged me to say they were sorry. They then sat outside talking to me about the birds. This is when they told me there were 4 birds, not 3. I immediately put the boys and the dogs in the house, and I ran around to the side of the house. I quickly found baby bird number 4. He was still alive, and huddled up to a drainage pipe.

How my dog missed him, I have no idea.

I ran inside to get my husband to help me, and then donned my gardening gloves and went back out. I picked the bird up and we tried putting the nest back in the tree but it was crumpled and the baby bird kept falling/jumping out of it. Mommy / Daddy bird were close by and ticked off that I had the baby at this point. You can imagine the scene. I was huddled under the tree trying to get the baby while dodging Mommy / Daddy.

Hubby went inside to get a small box that we set the nest/bird inside of and we wedged it into the tree. We quickly backed away and Mommy / Daddy bird immediately went to the baby. We watched from a distance and Mommy / Daddy bird quickly went about feeding their baby.

Owyn and Gavin were thrilled that one bird survived. They are now banned from going near the tree and can only watch from a safe distance away. We then talked a great deal about how even if you think you're going to get into trouble, you have to ask for help when you need it. If you don't, others could be in danger. Animals should be given the same respect as people. I think the boys finally realize it. But I know that curious minds don't always think clearly. 

Gavin is our curious child. He always wants to be right in the middle and asking "Why?".  As a parent, it's hard to keep that curiosity strong, while keeping him and others safe. I don't believe for a minute that he wanted to hurt the birds. But, he didn't understand the consequences of  his actions either. Being young, and trying to figure out the world around you can be a challenge. 

Today I'm thankful that 1 bird did survive. I'm thankful that the Mommy / Daddy bird didn't abandon him, and I'm thankful for the teachable moment. 

Parenting is tricky business. 

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