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Front Row for ELA Articles & Adaptive Math

This year I was introduced to a great website that has quickly become my students' favorite. Front Row is website that allows students to practice ELA, Math and Social Studies skills. My students love it because they earn "piggy coins" for completing assignments and practicing skills. (Side note- the "piggy store" where the kids spend their coins has a 30 second time limit which makes my teacher heart so happy. I hate when my students spend all their time on the incentive!)

I love technology and I love finding new websites that my students can use during independent time. This one impressed me because the format of the ELA articles is aligned with the format of most computer-based testing programs. In New York State we are not far from having all of our state tests in computer-based format. Whether you agree with computer-based testing or not, I feel that it's my job to familiarize my students with multiple forms of reading and writing assignments.

Today I've highlighted some of my favorite features of Front Row but I've only scratched the surface. The best part is, you don't need a school license to enjoy the benefits of Front Row. There is a paid school edition, but the free version is certainly enough to get your kids some extra practice! If you want to skip ahead, I've posted a video at the bottom of this post which walks you through my favorite features!

I mainly use Front Row for is the high-interest ELA articles and written responses. You can filter the ELA articles by reading anchor skills, and assign a different level of the same article to specific students. YES- you read that correctly, people! So my kiddos reading on a 1st grade level can read the same article as their accelerated classmates (are those angels singing?!) You can also assign the article at one level and the written responses at another- allowing your kids who struggle with writing to still read on level.

I LOVE a website that will give my valuable data and help guide my instruction. As a special education teacher, I am always looking for more data to formulate goals. Front Row shares the progress of each student in meeting proficiency for the Common Core anchor skills. 

The groups report is one of my absolute favorite features! It automatically groups my students based on their most recent performance in ELA and math assignments. Although this isn't the only information that I use to group my students, it does provide good supplemental data and is a good starting point when I am planning my leveled groups for guided instruction.

The word study reports show the progress my students have made toward mastering word study skills, spelling patterns and phonics lessons.

Front Row also has great standards-based printables and slideshows to use in your classroom.

7 Survival Habits for the Working Teacher Mom

If you've been reading my blog for a few years, you know I used to be a type-A work-a-holic. Not anymore. Nope. I've changed. Now I am a type-A work-a-holic mom! As I'm reflecting on the past two years of being a working teacher mom, I'm proud to say that I am content. I love going to work in the morning and I love coming home at night.

Last year was rough, I won't lie. I was hanging by a thread on good days. If you walked in my classroom at lunchtime, I was shoveling leftovers in my mouth, while checking my email and pumping. It was not a good look. I was sleep deprived and burned out.

This year has been a tremendous change. Not only did I transfer to a less demanding classroom and cut my commute in half, but I'm finally getting the hang of it (most weeks). I've learned what works for me. I've been fortunate to be surrounded by friends and family who have lived this same struggle and shared wisdom and support along the way. Whether you're expecting your first child or you're currently hanging by a thread, I hope this post finds you motivated to put your family (and your self) first.
Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate and sponsored links which means if you click on a product or service, I will receive a small commission. 

A few months back Facebook reminded me that I posted a status three years ago, right before my wedding that stated All I want for Christmas is to get enough sleep. HA. I wish I could go back to that naive girl and smack her for ever thinking she was sleep deprived without kids. I would also tell her to go to sleep now because your well-rested days are numbered.

I used to tell myself lies like "I'm the type of person who only needs 5 hours of sleep" or "The more sleep I get, the more tired I feel". WRONG. The truth is,

Circus Themed 1st Birthday Party

Spring is upon us which is the time of year that I associate with birthdays. All of my siblings and I have March, April and May birthdays and the tradition continues in my own family now. I struggled with choosing a theme for my son's first birthday because let's be honest- first birthday parties are more for the moms and dads! Babies don't really care what color their paper plates are. I perused Pinterest for months leading up to the party, and eventually stumbled upon the Fisher-Price circus themed party decorations. I loved the bright colors and the adorable animals.

Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links.

It was easy to find matching tableware, straws and napkins at Party City and Target. The snacks were easy- I stocked up on kettle corn from BJ's and found the popcorn tubs at Dollar Tree.

Upper Elementary Classroom Tour

So here's the deal. I finally had a minute in my classroom without students to take photos for an updated classroom tour. Running out the door every day is the truest form of the #workingmomstruggle. Gone are the days where I could stay late to take photos for my blog.

We're on winter break here in WNY and I went in to school today to pick up a few things. Of course, I brought my little with me (you'll see baby feet make a cameo appearance later in the post). As I started to prepare this post, I realized the content was far too much for one post! Over the next few weeks, I'll be taking on each area of my classroom and describing them in detail. For today, here is a look at my new home in the upper elementary world. Enjoy!

Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

I'm not going to be obnoxious and tell you these cookies are scrumptious and to die for, because they're not. They are a spin off of a 21 Day Fix cookie recipe and they are an easy recipe to whip up when you're trying to diet make it past four days on a diet. This week we had takeout pretty much every single night, as life would have it. By Friday night I was in desperate need of a detox. Since Punxatawney Phil saw his shadow this week and we have six more weeks of winter, I figured
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