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My humorous thoughts about life.

"My Humorous and Helpful Thoughts About Teaching / Educational Resources for Your Classroom / Music and Random Fun"

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Teacher Help

Cartoon about social distancing
Ron Leishman's art reminds us
to keep six feet apart!
As COVID 19 sets in, some teachers have been asked to teach remotely. Wow! That sounds like quite a challenge. Furthermore, I was dis-hearted to learn about a Florida teacher who was expected to come in to work, with the entire staff, to train on how to teach from a distance. That sounds about as right as the carpet shower on television.

Another tough situation is the poorer school districts where the kids don't have computers to learn from. In our city, many of the kids receive free breakfast and lunch. Without school, there is fear that some kids could go hungry. Luckily our city is back on track to feed these homebound students. The program was put on jeopardy when a worker tested positive for the new Coronavirus.

free resource to teach kids how to solve logic puzzles
Kids LOVE logic puzzles!
To be helpful, I'm linking to my many free resources HERE. Whether you're a teacher trying to teach remotely or a parent who needs something for your kids to do, hopefully you can find something you need.

If you are looking for paid resources, I have plenty of those, too. My store has resources for everyone K - 12 in multiple subject areas. Recently, I've sold quite a few directed lessons in PowerPoint. With these you don't have to be a teacher to guide your kids. Here is a link to my PowerPoint Lessons. I only have 370, though.

                           Here's an inference lesson for 3rd - 5th graders.

Reading passages for middle school students about youtubers
High Interest Reading for Middle School Kids
Printables have been popular, too, especially my Reading Passages. But mostly, I want to give y'all a virtual (((hug))). One way or another, we will get through this! If there is anything you need for kids, feel free to email me at jlanskyATcomcastDOTcom. I'm ready to help!

Catch My Products
The Gifted Department Store

Monday Music Moves Me is About Walking

Since I live in Memphis, this is where I walk. Here's a song about it.

Here's another song about going for a walk. Ready to go with The Brady kids?

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Giveaway for Teachers and Teacher Sellers!

🍎❤️🍎Teachers, Homeschooling Parents and TpT Authors, we are giving away this BIG Bostitch laminator. It's the perfect time to win this to use for all of your at home teaching or product creation!

This Big Bostitch Laminator is a FABULOUS resource to have at school or at home. It heats up super fast, laminates fast and will handle a lot of big jobs that your small, handy laminator just won’t. And… we are giving it away!

It's EASY to enter, but you must have a Pinterest account to do so.

The winner will receive:
• Big Bostitch Laminator - $100
• 9 X 11 200 Letter Size Laminating Pouches - $18
• 12 X 18 100 Big Laminating Pouches - $38
• KaBoom Colored Card Stock (40) - $9
• Kaboom Colored Paper (100) – $16

Enter the Rafflecopter here:

Our Terms:

You must live within the continental United States.
You must provide your shipping address if chosen as the winner.
We will check to see if you have followed and pinned.
This giveaway is in no way associated with Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Are you Stuck at Home?


This month, I've been blogging about classroom community, but ironically, many of you are not in the classroom due to concerns over the Coronavirus. Some used to say it was overhyped, but not anymore, do they? How else does the world stop the spread of a pandemic if not for social distancing? I believe the entire country needs to shut down, NOW, before this runs rampart in the midwest and other lightly hit areas. On another note, my husband and at least one of my kids is upset with me for giving two ghost tours, over a week ago, before our little adventure shut down for the month. My daughter reminded me that I'm over 55 years of age; however, I've been in great control of my Diabetes, recently by dropping almost twenty pounds and keeping my sugars at ideal levels.

Hand Washing

I thought I knew all about this topic as I sang "Got a fever of 103˚" in my head while washing, but there is a lot that I just learned. I never washed around my thumbs or between the fingers. This is really important, too. If you scrub every area of your hands front and back, it really does take a good twenty seconds. I had just been scrubbing the palms repeatedly rather than the entire area.


One of my favorite things to do at home is to turn on YouTube and dance to Zumba tunes. I'll post my favorite Zumba dances in my Musical Monday Moves Me post, so you can join in. I'm also trying to eat healthy, via Noom. My 19 pound weight loss is due to enrolling in this program and becoming more focused on how I'm eating. My mind has been more at the table as I enjoy each bite and am better able to cue in to signs telling me that I'm full. If you want to join, I'll drop my referral code that gives you a free trial and 20% off. I think I get an Amazon card from it but am not sure.  Join Noom Here.

What to Do with Your Class

If you teach high school, you should take a look at this: High School Reading Passages Bundle. Find SIX highly engaging reading passages with questions to keep your kids learning!

If you're wondering what to do with your class while out on break, I have an idea. I wrote a book called, MRS. ZIMMERMAN'S DONUTS, which is a middle grade novel about bullying. You may purchase or read about it here.

#teacherspayteachers #TpT #iteachLA

I would love for you to read my book, and if you think it would be good for your kids, I'm working on a book study to go along with it! By buying the book study, that will contain the book, you will have permission to send it to your class. That's a phenomenal deal for a class set! If you are like me, you read books before assigning them. If you want to get just the book to do that, you can. If you decide to buy the study, TpT will refund you the cost of the book if you ask. 

Monday Music Moves Me

As promised, here are some of my favorite Zumba dances that I do from the comfort of my bedroom while in my pajamas. The dogs watch but tend to fall asleep rather than join me. 

First up, I love A. Sulu and dance to a lot of his tunes. He always seems to get me to sweat, too. Here he is dancing to Marvin Gaye.

I also love this one! I especially like the smiling lady to the left of the lead dancer. She looks like she's having a blast and as a result motivates me!

With this post, I could go on and on, since I dance to multiple songs on any given day, but I will stop with Mambo Number 5. I've danced to a couple of versions to Lou Bega's song, but this is my favorite! I also think of my sweet Erica who is by my side.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Encourage Kids with Specific Messaging & Animal Music

Specific Praise

We all, most likely, grew up wanting to hear our parents and teachers tell us we were good, but maybe that was not the best thing to hear. What happened when the adults forgot to tell us that we were good? Did we automatically think we were bad? To be honest, I can't remember back that far, can you? Either way, ever wonder what "good" actually means? It's a rather nonspecific term, which means it's much better to zero in on the behavior you like in a kid and want to see, again.

article about how to praise kids in classroom and home
Art by Sarah Pecorino
As a teacher, this is where the specific praise can be helpful. Instead of telling the child, "You're so smart!" focus on the skill completed or the effort involved. "I can tell you worked hard to figure that out!"

Instead of saying, "You were good at recess, today," say, "I like the way you invited Charlotte to play with you. It must be tough for her being the new girl, but you made her feel welcome!"

These sorts of specific praises are great for teaching kids what you want to see them accomplish. And as we know, kids do better with praise than criticism.

But do you need to praise after everything they do? No. After all, if you constantly praise kids, the words lose their meaning. Save the praise for something special. Praise regularly but not the same praise every time they finish. After all, too much of a good thing can be bad.

Monday Music Moves Me is for the Animals!

First up is Maroon 5 with "Animals." I usually like to post the original video, but it was kinda gross, so here's the Saturday Night Live version.

Next up is a song I remember from elementary school, but certainly not this version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

Finally, I know I've posted this one before but it's good enough to post twice. Here is Harry Nilsson with "The Puppy Song." They are so cute!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Stop the Braggart, Win TpT Money, and Monday Music Moves Me

Stop the Braggart!

Although I'm a firm believer in freedom of speech, certain things should not be said in order for a classroom to have positive energy. As the adult in the room, you have the power to curb those words or phrases that may be hurtful to others. The obvious "no nos" are the direct insults given to fellow classmates, but some words can serve as indirect insults that are less recognizable for what they truly are.

Having taught gifted and talented kids for thirty years, I'd often come across that braggadocious child who always wanted to flaunt his or her high IQ. It's great that they see themselves as smart, but do they really if they must constantly remind you of this?

#iteachtoo #teachers, article about bragging
Art by Ron Leishman
mean words are hurtful #teachingtips
Art by Ron Leishman

I never allowed children to shout, "This is easy!" Maybe the work is easy for them, in which case I'd encourage him or her to tell me privately because I can always make things tougher. But what about the kid sitting next to the braggart? Image being the child struggling over the assignment only to hear the bright kid boast about how easy the assignment is for him or her. Although this  comment may seem innocent, it's not. It can be hurtful to several kids!

Furthermore, shouting, "This is easy" in a classroom can also lead to a bit of social suicide. Just watch the other kids roll their eyes at the bright child's announcement and you know he or she won't be the first child picked at recess. It's important that these students understand that not only is their bragging hurtful to others but also harming him or herself.

I've also heard teachers comment about something being easy. My answer to that is "Don't!" You never know who may struggle with the lesson, actually, you probably do. That child feels awful when they can't figure out the lesson that you called "easy." I may sometimes tell kids that what we are doing is tough and good for you for working hard to figure it out, but to label something as easy serves no good purpose.

teachers can make hurtful comments unintentionally
Art by Ron Leishman

See you next week when we'll discuss ways to encourage kids to do well.

$100 TpT Gift Card Giveaway!

Ends 03/13/20!

                  #giveaway Enter to win $100 from TpT

Raffle CLOSES:  03/13/20
Prize: $100 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card 
You can win a Teachers pay Teachers shopping spree of $100!  

If you'd like to receive freebies along with my posts, sign up for my email list! Although my email posts are similar to my blog posts, people on the email list often receive free resources with my articles. You can, too, simply by signing up to have my emails delivered. Plus, by signing up, you get the free product pictured below. So what have you got to lose? Nothing!

#Free #Teacher #lessons

Want to teach students about kindness? Click HERE to find a helpful bundle on Character Education. Guess what? It costs less than $5 because two of the resources in the bundle are FREE!

I'm also excited to have posted one of my novels on Teachers Pay Teachers. It's a story about bullying. Check out MRS. ZIMMERMAN'S DONUTS, HERE!

Novel or ebook about bullying behaviors

Monday Music Moves Me

Since my post was about the braggart, here is Carly Simon with, You're so Vain!

Next up is Taylor Swift and Brendon Uri from Panic at the Disco with Me.

And finally, here's what happens when the guy is not right. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Want to Win TpT or Amazon Money?

Ready to win?

I am currently involved in a contest giveaways. Share pins to win a choice of $40 to either TpT or Amazon.

Good Luck!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Multiplying Positive and Negative Integers

A Negative Times A Positive is Negative

When it came to deciphering negative and positive integers, the bottom line from my student days was always, "Remember the rule." This can be helpful when problem solving but understanding is always better.

Let's think about a negative number multiplied by a positive number. The rule is that a negative times a positive is negative. Great, but what exactly does this mean? Did anyone watch the Super Bowl? Okay, maybe that's a dumb question, but here is a way to use the Super Bowl as an example of multiplying negative and positive numbers.

Supposed you bet your friend $5 that San Francisco would win the Super Bowl. Guess what? You lost that bet, but since you bet one friend $5, that's all you lost. 

1 X $5 = $5
or since you are losing $5 call it,
1 X (-5) = -5

Had you made this bad bet with three friends, you'd be out three times the amount because . . .

3 X (-5) = -15

A Negative Times a Negative is Positive

But what if you won that bet? In that case, you are taking away the possibility of losing $5, so . . .

(-3) X (-5) = 15

-3 is the amount of times you could have paid a bad bet if you made one, 
while -5 represents the amount you could have lost.

Therefore, congrats! You made $15!
This worksheet is part of my Positive and Negative Integers Bundle. Sorry but, $5 is a little more than you would need to pay to buy this resource. Not a bad price for all that you get!

Next time you want to teach that a negative times a positive is a negative, try explaining this to your kids It's certainly better than telling them to just memorize the rules.

Blog post with Teaching tips for multiplying positive and negative integers #TpT

If you'd like to receive freebies along with my posts, sign up for my email list! Although my email posts are similar to my blog posts, people on the email list often receive free resources with my articles. You can, too, simply by signing up to have my emails delivered. Plus, by signing up, you get the free product pictured below. So what have you got to lose? Nothing!

#Free #Teacher #lessons

See you next week when we look at ways to make the classroom a kinder place.

Monday Music Moves Me

This week's theme is songs with names in the title, so I'm starting with a song by Kiss that is dramatically different from any other song this band has ever written, "Beth."

My next song was sung at the first concert I ever attended at Red Rocks in Colorado. I've always loved, "Amie" by Pure Prairie League!

Finally, this is an old song that we always sang to our daughter, Judy. Plus, it is totally goofy! Please listen to "Judy in Disguise" by John Fred and His Playboy Band.

Free tips for teaching middle school math number operations with integers

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Double Negatives and Musical Selections

Double Negatives

The English teacher hates when students write using double negatives because a double negative changes the meaning of what is said. Although the math teacher may not have a problem with double negatives, he or she knows that when you put them together you have a positive.

The rule states that minus a negative is adding. Other than memorizing a meaningless rule, this can be a tough concept to teach. However, if you are teaching minus a negative to seventh graders, you'll probably do better than when I taught this concept to gifted and talented fifth graders.

Let's think of minus a negative as taking away debt! Suppose a student borrowed a dollar from his friend's mom to get a goody at the bake sale. When the student went to pay the friend's mother back, she told him not to worry about it. So in a sense, the boy made a dollar.

$0 - (-$1) = $1

She took away the dollar debt, thus giving the boy a dollar.

Let's look at this another way, from the viewpoint of the English teacher. If I held a pencil in my hand and said, "I don't have nothing in my hand," would this be true?

Yes. I don't have nothing in my hand. I have something . . . a pencil!

The big question, however, is whether or not this argument works in an ethical debate. If I did a wrong and apologized for it, did I take away the wrong? Maybe or maybe not.

Good luck explaining this to your students. The older they are, the more likely they are to understand because once again, this is a Piaget sort of concept!

If you are interested in a resource for teaching middle school math, check this out!
Tune in next week for my last math post, multiplying integers. 

If you'd like to receive freebies along with my posts, sign up for my email list! Although my email posts are similar to my blog posts, people on the email list often receive free resources with my articles. You can, too, simply by signing up to have my emails delivered. Plus, by signing up, you get the free product pictured below. So what have you got to lose? Nothing!

#Free #Teacher #lessons

Monday Music Moves Me

Since I mentioned the ethics of taking away a wrong through an apology, I decided to post these songs about apologizing

First up is Linda and Paul McCartney with Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. I actually had an Uncle Albert; but if anyone should apologize, I'd say it should be him. He was awful to my Dad . . . but that's another post. I'm glad Paul McCartney has fond memories of his Uncle Albert and is apologizing for his generation's treatment of the older generation.

Here's another great song. Elton John with 
Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word.

What's even more important than the apology is what someone does to change. That's why I chose this next song, Man in the Mirror, by Michael Jackson.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Leap Into Learning Blog Hop

Blog hop for teachers to pick up free resources

 Reading Specialty  Gateway Behaviors to Bullying Free Reading Passage

Thanks for hopping to Catch My Words. Some bloggy friends and I have joined together to share FREEBIES that you can use at anytime during the year no matter the season. Grab a total of NINE freebies by hopping to each blog until you end up back here. Or, if you want you can check out  just the blogs that feature an item in these grade levels. 

Blog hop for grades pk-2 
Blog hop for grades 3-5 (Contains my Resource)

My freebie has been featured in the TpT newsletter and advertised throughout Teachers Pay Teachers. It's an original story about Gateway Behaviors to Bullying.

 Gateway Behaviors to Bullying FREE Reading Passage

A couple of years ago, our school had an anti-bullying initiative where we were encouraged to teach about gateway to bullying behaviors. I searched all over the internet for a reading passage for my fifth grade class. Everything I found was either babyish or had someone attempting suicide. Since I found nothing in between, I wrote this story to highlight exactly what I wanted to say, and it's FREE!  

This seven page resource, was written to help curb the bullying epidemic in schools. The story follows Miriam and her best friend to see how their behaviors just might hurt feelings. The teacher is instructed to stop throughout the passage to discuss what has taken place. Just click HERE and join over 10,000 teachers who have downloaded this story. If you like it, I'd love to read your feedback!

Read what buyers have said:
  • "Very few resources, if any, focus on those "smaller" bullying behaviors which often go overlooked, but definitely add up emotionally to a victim. I'm so glad this resource takes these behaviors into account. Great job!"
  • "I am blown away. What an excellent resource that gets to the heart of SO MANY behaviors that so many of us do, having begun in our early years of school. I will be using this with my own children in our family discussions, but this would be excellent for classroom guidance class or even just character building time in an ordinary classroom setting. Thorough. Realistic. Fit to today's times and things real kids can relate to. I'm awfully curious to read other stories just like this."
  • I like that the story discusses hurtful behaviors commonly seen on the playground but not identified as "bullying". The questions were very thought-provoking. I think my kids (and I) gained a lot from this lesson!

I have a lot of thought provoking reading passage in my store that are from third grade up to high school. Feel free to browse my reading passages as a group or check out a few of my favorites!

Are you looking for a new and different historical fiction passage about the Underground Railroad? Take your students on a reading adventure about runaway slaves with this original story. Through this close reading passage, students will learn what it was like to be a runaway slave from around 1860s, America. Students will remain engaged with the story and intrigued with higher level, critical thinking questions. This product is perfect for Black History Month or year round!
This easy to use resource includes:
  • Original first person narrative as told through voice of a male slave.
  • Human faults or qualities of the characters.
  • Close Read symbols to guide and ready students for discussion.
  • Vocabulary questions to clarify meaning of text.
  • Higher level questions to spark critical discussions in the classroom.
  • Grammar correction opportunities from speech of fictional characters.
  • Lines and plenty of room for student answers.
  • Complete answer key for teacher

Or maybe you are interested in saving 30% off the price of individual resources with a bundle.

Are you on the lookout for fun historical fiction reading passages because your social studies book is not grabbing your students' interest? Find this bundle complete with everything you need to engage and challenge you kids. Your students will love these easy to print and go stories with questions and activities that will teach history in an exciting way.
By purchasing this bundle, you are saving 30% off the price of individual resources.
This bundle include SIX reading passages:

Thanks for hopping by. Teachers are awesome!


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Adding and Subtracting Positive and Negative Numbers and Stories

When kids are tasked with having to add and subtract negative numbers, the easiest way to teach this is to pull out a numberline. Although a line has arrows at the ends and never ends, notice how teachers always tell students to, "Get in a line!" I was a weird teacher because I told mine to get into a line segment or make two parallel line segments. Sometimes when we were waiting outside the bathroom, I asked the kids to make perpendicular lines, or I'd ask them to count off using prime numbers. That was always fun! But back to the old number line.

using a number line for teaching addition and subtraction of positive and negative numbers

The number line above goes in both directions, as a middle school number line should, so when you go to solve a problem, you simply count in the direction of the number's sign. Ie., if there is not a negative sign in front of it, you will head right or in the positive direction. If the number is negative move to the left.

 -10 + 5 = -5

Number lines to solve problems involving positive and negative integers

A number line makes teaching this concept so much easier than trying to teach without one.

But, what if kids are tasked with adding numbers such as:

- 4 + 8 =

To solve this problem, I tell kids to use the commutative property of addition.

-4 + 8 = 8 + -4 = 8 - 4

You can turn this problem into a first grade problem!

If you are interested in a resource for teaching middle school math, check this out!
Tune in next week for tips on how to teach minus a negative number.

Monday Music Moves Me

This week is all about songs that tell stories, so here is the ultimate classic in that department.

American Pie, by Don McLean

This musical number tells a farewell story to the 50s and 60s and how music died with the plane crash that killed Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and the Big Bopper. The music is filled with hidden messages involving the Vietnam War and Jackie Kennedy, "the widowed bride" in some accounts, while others believe the song is referring to Buddy Holly's pregnant wife who miscarried. One could spend the year analyzing the story of American Pie, but I'd rather just listen to it.

Next up is Paul Simon with Me and Julio Down at the School Yard.

This is the story of a couple of kids in trouble for the unknown actions down at the school yard. Simon purposely kept the actions vague; but whatever it was, Mama and Papa didn't like it!

This last song is one I had to post because I believe history has gotten it all wrong with blaming poor Mrs. O'Leary and her cow for the Chicago Fire of 1871. I've written a different version of this story that you can purchase at my TpT Store.

Historical Fiction Story about Chicago Fire of 1871, theory of what really happened