Who wants some pie?

Yeah, I know, this is supposed to be a teacher blog. So, why am I offering up pie? Well, I am SO in love with my new little oven that I have to share. You heard that right. I'm head-over-heels for an appliance. Here's the situation... I'm sort of a lazy cook. The easier the better is my motto. I also really like gadgets that do fun things. So, when I saw this thing on Amazon and watched some of the videos, I couldn't stop myself. Isn't it pretty?


So let me just tell you... it's faaaaaaabulous! I have not used my big oven even once since I got this last month. So far I've made homemade bread and rolls, pizza, a roasted chicken, pigs in a blanket, bagels, toast, steak, chicken fingers, pork tenderloin, baked potatoes, cookies, brownies, and lasagna in this little oven. And they all turned out perfectly. Look at the apple pie I made...FROM SCRATCH...

Beautiful, huh? And delicious, I might add. (Just disregard the disposable pie plate. I did mention that I'm a lazy cook.) Here's the recipe I used. You must try it!

The sauce it makes to pour over the apples is amazing, like liquid caramel! Mmm... Ok, so the oven (Breville Smart Oven) is a little pricey but so worth it. It heats up super fast, remembers your preferred settings, has convection, is easy to clean, and can bake, roast, broil, toast, warm, reheat, and a lot more! Did I say that I'm in love?

Okay, enough about that. Here's my other new baby...


This thing is ridiculously easy to use! I didn't really need a laminator but amazon has it right now for $19 and who ever runs out of things to laminate? Not me! The film pouches aren't that expensive and they're nice and thick. Plus, you can cut close to the paper and it doesn't separate which is a big deal. My school has a big laminator but it takes forever to heat up, the film is thin and cheap, and it's just a pain to use. I'm going to get a lot of use out of this little one. Look, what I did today...

Now I just need to cut them out. Have you bought something really cool for your classroom or house? If so, I'd love to hear about it!


Black History Month in the Classroom

February is Black History Month. If you're like me, you have little time in your day to fit in extra learning when it doesn't align with the required curriculum. But there is so much rich history to be learned by studying the important historical figures that we celebrate in February!

Since our social studies block has all but been eliminated by walk-to-intervention time, I'm planning to integrate Black History Month into my language arts block. If you look at the Common Core Standards, you'll see that many of the "Speaking and Listening" standards provide a perfect opportunity to read, learn, and talk about African-American history.

One of my favorite books to read aloud is My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. written by his own son. It gives a new perspective to the story of Dr. King, one that the children can relate to... a proud son talking about his loving father.

I will read this book in January, since that's when we celebrate MLK's birthday. But, it's a great way to start a study of African-American history. After reading this book, I give students an opportunity to write about their own fathers. This allows for making text-to-self connections and integrates writing into our studies. 

We follow up the book and writing with the video Our Friend, Martin (You can view the entire movie for free on youtube!) and a comprehension packet that involves main idea, text features, vocabulary, and context clues.

After completing our studies of Dr. King, we start researching other important figures in African-American history: Rosa Parks, Mae Jemison, Frederick Douglass, Jackie Robinson, Booker T. Washington, and Mary McLeod Bethune are a few that we focus on. The students get to choose one of the above people to research with their group. They use the facts they learn to create a poster, write a short biographical report, and then present it in front of the class.

We have the advantage of being just a few miles away from Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach. A field trip to the college and Mary McLeod's home isn't always possible, but we can pretty easily bring in a speaker from the college to talk about her life and accomplishments.

Most communities have some sort of African-American organization that can provide speakers to schools. One to try is the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs. Listening to a speaker, asking questions, and talking about what they learned are important skills for our students to learn.

Have fun celebrating Black History Month!

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