In the article, Homework: A Few Practice Arrows, Susan Christopher makes the following statement:
“When homework is used as a formative assessment, students have multiple opportunities to practice, get feedback from the teacher, and improve. Homework becomes a safe place to try out new skills without penalty, just as athletes and musicians try out their skills on the practice field or in rehearsals. Effective homework is the rehearsal before the final event. Because the role of homework has changed in my classroom, so has the way I evaluate it. I no longer count homework when computing student grades.”  

Having taught in a setting where more than 80 percent of the students are eligible to receive free or reduced lunch, I have seen first hand the hinderance that homework can be on a students grade.  When I first started teaching, I assigned homework each night, and graded it, because thats what I thought you were supposed to do.  Many of my students didn’t return their homework, or quickly became discouraged from doing it because they didn’t have support at home.  Then there were also students who would ace their homework, but weren’t able to perform in class (presumably because a parent or someone else was doing most of the work).  Similar to the teachers at Health Sciences High and Middle College (Fisher, Frey, Pumpian, 2011) in San Diego, California, my school district went through an extensive reevaluation of our grading procedures and moved to standards based grading several years ago.  
After some time and effort, my district began using a variety of standards based performance assessments.  Several committees were formed to create district wide assessments to be used to measure student performance, and there is no longer a category in our grading system for “homework”.  It wasn’t until a few years ago though, that I decided I was no longer going to grade homework.  I was having the same issues as in the past with only a handful of students returning homework, and I began to ask myself why I was giving my little first graders homework.  What is it that they were getting out of it?  I decided that the homework that I was giving wasn’t exactly serving the purpose that I intended, which was to practice the classroom content.  Rather than asking for clarification, or help, I began to see my first graders getting stressed about their homework and on a few occasions even copying from friends.  These were habits and attitudes towards school that I did not want to see forming at such a young age.  
    I made the decision to not only stop grading homework, but to scale back on how much I gave.  Instead I only give the homework that I feel the students need in order to do well.  As Susan Christopher (2007) states “when homework is used as a formative assessment, students have multiple opportunities to practice, get feedback from the teacher, and improve. Homework becomes a safe place to try out new skills without penalty, just as athletes and musicians try out their skills on the practice field or in rehearsals. Effective homework is the rehearsal before the final event.”  I have dramatically reduced the amount of homework that I give as a result of this reflection on my practice. I do give nightly math homework, because it is included with our curriculum (its just a tear out page in their workbook) and the parents really like it. Other than that I send home a word list for the year and students are expected to read nightly. I also have a variety of digital resources on hand for parents to use should they feel like their child needs (or they want) more. I invite students to bring in any homework or extra items that they do at home if they want recognition for it or have questions, but I make it clear that it is not part of their grade.
I have had an overwhelmingly positive response to this method from parents and students alike. Here are a couple of more resources regarding homework that you may find interesting!

*I really enjoy Rick Wormeli's videos- he does a really great job at explaining standards based grading!


Christopher, S. (2007).  Homework: A few practice arrows.  Educational Leadership, 65(4), 74-75.

Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Pumpian, I. (2011).  No penalties for practice.  Educational Leadership, 69(3), 46-51.

My Journey with Essential Oils

Disclaimer-  In order to maintain compliance with my Young Living member agreement and FDA rules and regulations I am extremely limited with the content that I am able to share with you in regards to my experiences with YL Essential Oils.  I do not claim that YL Essential Oils can be used to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat  or prevent any disease or abnormal condition of the body.  My intent during this post is to share with you my journey and how the use of essential oils has helped to enhance my life.

Hello... My name is Lindsey, and I'm an essential oils addict.

My oils are always with me!
I started this journey with essential oils about 3 years ago after attending a "class" that was hosted by a good friends sister.  I had already heard a lot about these oils, but like many I was skeptical.  The presentation was extremely informative, and I really connected with the information being given, especially our presenters personal journey with essential oils.  Long story short, I decided to give it a try and ordered a starter kit.  I knew my husband was going to think I was crazy for spending $150 on a bunch of little vials of smelly stuff but I figured what the heck, maybe one of the "potions" would help with that haha (on a side note, the starter kit now comes with SO much more than what I got, for the same price)!

One day I wasn't feeling well, my sweet 2yr old
 brought me things to make me feel better :)
     When my oils arrived I had just pulled a muscle in my back/ neck area and my neck was completely locked up.  Despite everything I tried I could not turn my head.  Before heading to the chiropractor the next day I thought I would give these oils a try.  I put on two of the oils right before bed as directed, and when I woke up the next morning my neck cracked like crazy and I was able to fully rotate my head!  Coincidence or not I was sold (I figured that was unlikely to be related to any kind of placebo effect).
     At the time my son was also having respiratory issues and we could not use any typical household cleansers.  Creating a mixture of Thieves and Lemon oils with vinegar and water worked well for all of our day to day surface cleaning for several years.
     In short, I used all of the oils in my kit almost daily for several different needs and noticed improvement in our quality of life.  My kids and husband even began to ask if I "had a potion for ______" (they lovingly call them my potions lol).  And that initial kit that I had purchased lasted me almost an entire year!

    Around my 1 year anniversary with Young Living I began to branch out and purchase oils to meet specific needs, as well as a second kit- this time it came with a diffuser!

    By the time I had received my diffuser I had already heard about other people using oils in their classrooms so I thought I would give it a try.  If you decide to do this, it would be wise to double check with your school district/ administration regarding their policies around such a thing.  I do not diffuse the oils while the kids are in the room- some of them are fairly strong when being actively diffused, so I usually do it in the morning before they arrive or at the end of the day after they have left.  Some of my favorites to diffuse are Peace and Calming, Thieves, Citrus Fresh and Lemon.  I usually set my diffuser right on the carpet... mainly because thats where we spend a lot of our time in 1st grade.  I imagine that the carpet absorbs all the diffused goodness ;-)

This is not a good way to store your oils.
 Do as I say, not as I do ;)
Take a peek inside my current YL Essential Oils collection!
Click on the link to learn more about each oil.

Lavender, Lemon, Panaway, Lime, En-R-Gee, Stress Away, Fennel, Slique, Citrus Fresh, Purification, Highest Potential, Joy, Thieves, R.C., Vetiver, DiGize, Valor, Peppermint, Frankincense, EndoFlex, Peace and Calming

While I do use some oils in the classroom on occasion, I mainly use them personally so that I am bringing the best version of myself into the classroom each day.  Should you be interested in trying these for yourself PLEASE make sure you are using therapeutic grade oils.  To date I only know of two companies who are able to call themselves "therapeutic grade", Young Living and DoTerra.  If you are thinking that you want to try Young Living, I highly suggest becoming a "member".  Think of it as the Sam's Club for oils.  There is no obligation to buy or have a monthly sales quota.  You simply get the wholesale price (24% off retail) of all your purchases.  To become a member you would need to sign up here- Member Sign Up (Use the code 1443071 when prompted for your enroller/ sponsor ID).  As part of your membership you are required to purchase a starter kit (you can view them here- Starter Kits).  They range in price depending on the kit that you choose but they are well worth every cent.  Like I said, I have now purchased two and will likely be purchasing a 3rd very soon.  I recommend getting one of the kits that includes the Everyday Essential Oils Kit (alone this kit is $170!).  These oils are the most common ones for day to day use.

I hope that you found this post to be somewhat informative.  I apologize that I had to be fairly vague in order to be compliant with FDA regulations.  Should you have any specific questions regarding my journey, the oils or their uses please don't hesitate to email me or message me via Facebook at Teacher Mother Wife = Life.    I personally have had great success by using these oils, and it is my sincere hope that you would to!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  Young Living products are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.

You Oughta Know! September Edition

Welcome to September's edition of You Oughta Know a blog hop created by Jasmine over at Buzzing With Mrs. McClain.  This is the first one after our summer hiatus, which you would think means that theres a lot that I want to tell you about.  But quite honestly, its September and my brain is kinda on autopilot.  I took a moment to think about what impacted me the most this summer, and that of course has to be Periscope and Blab.  If you haven't checked them out yet you REALLY need to.  There have been so many other posts done about those two things though, and I did not want to be repetitive. 

Then it hit me... it wasn't just Periscope or Blab that made my summer, but who was on the other side.  One of them is this fabulous lady:

Please allow me to introduce you to Sheila Jane from Sheila Jane Teaching.  

Sheila has dedicated herself to teacher wellness... and she's pretty stinkin' amazing at it.  On her website you can sign up to become a Teach Happy Member #THM and have access to oodles of sparkly hearted teacher amazingness, or you can follow her on social media and basque in her glittery feel-goodness.  Either way you will not be disappointed.  Seriously, Sheila has an amazing talent for being down to earth and real, while also sending out uplifting vibes for teachers everywhere.  There have been many days where she has said exactly what I needed to hear.  She also provides teachers with a wealth of information on entrepenuer know-how.  No matter what the topic is, I can not get enough!  I could spend hours talking about how much her efforts mean to me and teachers everywhere... but I really want you to find out for yourself.  Go to her website or follow her on social media @sheilajteaching... either way you will surely not be disappointed.

Classroom Reveal!

Hello!  Well here we are- I'm headed into the 3rd week of school, and have been meaning to do this for quite some time.  Setting up and getting ready for the beginning of school was a labor of love this year, accompanied by packing my house and getting ready to move.  I apologize for the delay and the somewhat poor quality of the pics, but I am finally ready to show you the place I am calling home this year!  Enjoy :)

This is the view as you enter my door.  We will soon be filling up the walls and boards with student items!  #stillnotlovingtheblue

 We have a beachy theme this year.  My 7yr old suggested I hang this fishing net on the door ;)  I'm thinking of putting their names or something else spectacular on here.

As you look to the right you have my small group table (not shown), student work display and my desk!

Here is the front of the room.  My easel does not stay there, I move it based on our needs but usually its blocking my desk.  This is the front of our room!

Front of the room/ whole group area

These two bulletin boards will eventually be focus walls for math and language arts... I think.

Our classroom library

Leveled book tubs in our classroom library

I'm hoping this will house some technology.... but if it doesn't, it will be our writing center (paper cutter will not be there lol)

This shelf houses our math manipulatives

This is how I plan for a month at a time- I put all the resources/ copies that I will need for the week in each tub!

Well, that's it for now!  It is certainly still a work in progress, but it has come a long long way.  Stay tuned for updates!

Five for Friday- August 20

Five for Friday Linky with Doodle Bugs Teaching
Hello everyone!  Thank goodness it is finally Friday  Saturday.  This week was a long one!  As you've probably heard me say before, my school has the unique opportunity to try some new initiatives (does anyone else feel like that is a four letter word? lol) this year.  Basically, without going into the nitty gritty details using lots of big words and acronyms, our school has a lot of needs and is not performing as well as we would like therefore the state is encouraging us to change it up a bit.  I use the word encourage purposefully here... it is quite the different vibe from when (in another building, same district) we were not making AYP under No Child Left Behind.  Long story short, there are a number of things we are trying this year and you will probably hear more about them later- in regards to this week though it meant coming back for 4 full days of professional development before the rest of the district officially comes back next week.


So this was my view all week long.... enough said.


     And when I wasn't professionally developing I was attempting to battle this disaster.  Every spare minute that I could squeeze out of my day was spent in here.  We have open house on Tuesday night... I might be ready.  While I have a lot of great storage in my room (as you saw if you watched any of my room periscopes), I'm missing a giant walk in closet that I had in my old room.  There is a lot of stuff that I don't need this year (former grade levels etc.) but I don't want to bring it home since we're going to be moving in a few weeks, and I just don't have the time to sort through it all right now.

So this is my solution for now!  I have this large double sided bookshelf in my room... and my boxes of randomness fit/ hide perfectly on the back side!  Score!!


I had a dear colleague text me Thursday evening to see how the week was going... I sent her this pic.  It was 6:45 and I was still at school (had been there since 7am).  This year we are having family meetings/ goal setting before school starts and we were required to call each family to set up an appointment.  I do not like talking on the phone :-/  Bad, I know, but I did it!  I only got through to a few families, but it was very cool to make the connection this early in the year :)  Even though it was out of my comfort zone I will definitely do it again next year.

On Friday my team got together for a grade level meeting (because we just didn't have enough meetings this week!) and this was the highlight of my week- Look at all that color coded planning amazingness! :)  We took a look at our year long plan which was created by Traci Clausen over at Dragonflies in First.  You can get it on her tpt shop here.  We had our math and language arts already on the map and had to decide how/ when we were going to do science and social.  Now we just need to go back in and put the different standards that we will be covering each week.  I seriously LOVE this year long planner, and like I said in an earlier scope you should definitely check it out!!

I wanted to wrap it up by showing you this must have app that I discovered yesterday afternoon.  I think we can all agree that leveling our classroom library is a bit of a chore.  Last year I used Scholastics app (and in previous years I've sat on the Scholastic website and typed the titles in one by one), but a very large portion of my books weren't in their database.  I searched for a new one yesterday and came across this- Literacy Leveler.  This is a paid app- $3.99, but it was well worth it!  It simply scans the ISBN barcode and tells you the Lexile, DRA, and Guided Reading levels!  It was SO fast you guys!  There were still a handful of books that were not in the database, but it was significantly fewer than what I've encountered in previous years.  If you have a lot of leveling to do you NEED this app!

Well, that's about it for this week!  I am going to take the weekend and try not to think about school stuff- before I know it Monday will be here and I will be in for another long week!  I hope that you all enjoy your weekend as well!!

Five for Friday

Linky Party over at Doodle Bugs Teaching

Well, I started this post a few hours ago... and then Blab.im happened. So here I am, late Friday night trying to finish it up!  This one will probably be short, sweet and to the point!

On Sunday I had the pleasure of attending a MOPS retreat to plan this coming year.  It is always nice to get a day away from the stresses of motherhood and spend some quality time with other awesome moms, especially as we come up for new ideas for our MOPS group.  Would you look at this adorable table scape that was created for our luncheon?  The best part was that it overlooked a beautiful scenic MN lake.

No detail was left out!  I loved our rustic mason jar glasses and drink charms!

I snagged these babies this week... and immediately made several new teachers smell the stinky cheese marker ;)  I'm kinda obsessed with all of them... especially the nacho cheese one lol.

Being a teachers kid means helping in the classroom over the summer.  I thought we would make it some special "back to school" time and treated us to breakfast! She was pretty excited about it!

Of course there was also social media!  It was hard to start making the adjustment towards "school life" and not focus so much on my social media life.  I did get some Periscope and Blab time in though, don't worry- Here is a screen shot of the PeriscOprah Sheila Jane... notice Angie Olson and I geeking out a little bit over teachers in MN :) 

And last but not least... I've finally made some progress on my classroom this week!

Dusted off the old laminating machine and started getting my seafoam green decor ready!

Got my word wall up- loving how it looks in person!

The best moment was realizing that I had a whole bunch of washi taped decor that matched my theme  for this year!  Here is my display for student work!

I'm LOVING how my sink area looks!

This week will be full of a lot of PD and trying to get my room in order- I'm sure I'll be stressed to the max!  We have 2 more weeks until school starts and there is a lot to be done.  I hope that all your back to school festivities are going well!

#TptChat Classroom Decor

Every Sunday I participate in the Twitter chat #tptchat.  I discovered it about a month ago and haven't looked back!  If you have yet to try it, I highly recommend stopping by to see all the action :)

This Sunday's topic is classroom decor, a topic that has pretty much consumed my summer and of course I have plans this evening :( So since I'm not sure how much I will be able to participate live in the chat, I thought I would also do a blog post about it!  

As you may or may not know I am moving into a new classroom this year (only the 5th year in a row, no biggie) which is all good except for one major thing... the color of my room.  Not joking, it is the color of the bird in the graphic above on all 4 walls and just as bright- you can see before photos here. It doesn't look SO terrible in pics... but in real life it is a different story.  Now let me just say, I am all for bright colors in the elementary classroom as long as its done right.  I prefer bright pops of color or accents and more subtle walls.  I desperately wanted to repaint the walls this year, but summer school was held in my wing, so that wasn't going to happen.  So I've spent the summer stressing about how to make this the ideal environment for both me and my learners.

My ideal learning space is one that students feel comfortable in.  I like to try and make it more "homey" than institutional.  While I have a highly structured environment, I strive to create a space where the students can move around, access materials easily, collaborate and have fun.  As we all know, this is much easier said than done and I am nowhere near perfect :) 

So here is my room last Thursday, just minutes after summer school ended (I was very eager to get in there and get to work!)

 Here is a peek into "the tub" that is currently residing in my dining room...  I think you can get a feel for what I'm going for this year!

These prints were given to me as a gift after my daughter was born.  They were in her nursery :)  They will look perfect in my classroom- and I will love looking at them again!

This was also her lamp... I'm going to see if it works and fits in with my color scheme!

One major problem right now is that the other teacher's belongings are still in here... so I can't get much done until they relocate to a new home :( :( all 42 boxes of it.

So this is what I've been able to do so far (warning, its not much!)  
I put up two bulletin boards... although I'm still not sure what I'll be using them for, and got my classroom library spot picked out.  Now I just need more shelving :-/  (my room last year had built in bookshelves)

Moved my desk... last year I chose not to have a desk, and set my computer on a table instead.  That table did not make it to my new room so I'm just going to deal with it this year (I'm already making a big enough stink about the boxes).  I'm wondering why I seem to have a plethora of grown up chairs...

This is my tentative small group area... not sure though.  It was going to be the classroom library... but from past experiences I'd rather have me closer to the door and the library further away (I've had a runner or two in my day)

I have spent the majority of the summer creating classroom decor that I may want to use in my room. After many hours of creation I decided on this set:
 I love the patterns of chevron, polka dots, quatrefoil etc. and all the colors.  I think they will help create a more soothing effect while still incorporate the wall color in the room.

Another set that I created (and I LOVE) has been widely popular on my TPT is my "Into the Woods" collection:

Over the years I have purchased a few classroom decor items, mainly word wall or classroom labels.  This year I thought I'd try my hand at creating my own visions and I have to say it was a little addicting!  There are so many wonderful options for papers/ clip art out there that the possibilities are endless!  I just can't wait to get in my room and get it all put together.
Make sure you tune into #tptchat tonight on Twitter for more details, and if you can't stop by for the live action search the hashtag!  Happy decorating! :)