180 Days of Musical Encouragement 

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“Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest. Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:20-21‬ ‭MSG‬‬ http://bible.com/97/pro.18.20-21.msg

I love music. Music connects with the very essence of my soul. Music makes me feel happy and confident. It makes me cry, smile and angry. I find meaning in songs and attach them to memorable moments in my life.

When my husband and I were dating, I once asked him to write a list of ten songs he would put on the soundtrack of his life. I’ve done this with my students as well. It gives me a bit of insight into who they are.

Now, I plan to use music to extend my reach and plant positive seeds. I don’t work in the worst of the worst areas with the toughest of the toughest kids. However, I do work with kids who do not always hear positive words from the ones who love them most. Some say there’s nothing you can do about that. I say, “I’ll do what I’ve been asked to do then allow God to do the rest”.

Over the past three days, I’ve spent moments with God searching for 180 songs to play for my students when they enter my room each morning. These songs hold power; they speak of love, motivation, self-worth, goodness, happiness, hope and possibilities.  It a nice mix of genres, old and new, popular and rare, mature and youthful. But the things they all have in common are the ability to satisfy the mind, give life and produce fruit. I’m so excited to see what God will do with this. 😊

  1. One Love– Bob Marley
  2. Through Your Eyes– Britt Nicole
  3. Future – Musiq Soulchild
  4. There’s Hope– India Arie
  5. Once a Day– Michael Franti
  6. Dreams– Ashanti
  7. I Can Do Anything– Fresh Beat Band
  8. Dare You to Move– Switchfoot
  9. Count on Me– Bruno Mars
  10. Try Everything– Shakira
  11. Eyes Wide Open– Sabrina Carpenter
  12. Go Get It– Mary Mary
  13. Don’t Stop Believing– Glee
  14. i– Kendrick Lamar
  15. Can’t Stop the Feeling– Justin Timberlake
  16. I Got Sunshine– Avery Sunshine
  17. I Lived– One Republic
  18. Rise Up– Andra Day
  19. Tomorrow– Annie
  20. Lean On Me– Bill Withers
  21. Never Settle– Goldford
  22. Upside Down– Jack Johnson
  23. Better Together- Jack Johnson
  24. Strength Courage and Wisdom– India Arie
  25. Sure Looks Good to Me– Alicia Keys
  26. Surprise Yourself– Fresh Beat Band
  27. Wake– Hillsong Young and Free
  28. Golden– Jill Scott
  29. We Are Family– Sister Sledge
  30. Remedy– Adele
  31. All You Need is Love– Beatles
  32. What a Wonderful World– Louis Armstrong
  33. Somewhere Over the Rainbow– Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
  34. Heroes– David Bowie
  35. Don’t Worry Be Happy– Bob Marley
  36. It’s My Life– Jon Bon Jovi
  37. Fireworks– Katy Perry
  38. Unwritten– Natasha Bedingfield
  39. True Colors– Cyndi Lauper
  40. Lovely Day– Bill Withers
  41. Stand By Me– Ben E. King
  42. Follow the Sun– Xavier Rudd
  43. Pieces– Bethel Music
  44. A Beautiful Day– India Arie
  45. Everybody– Ingrid Michaelson
  46. Grateful: A Love Song to the World– Nimo Patel
  47. Three Little Birds– Bob Marley
  48. We Are Here– Alicia Keys
  49. What I Am Is– Seasame Street and Will i. Am
  50. Free– Michael Medall
  51. Greatest Love of All- Whitney Houston
  52. Man in the Mirror- Michael Jackson
  53. Beautiful Day– U2
  54. Keep Your Head Up– Andy Grammar
  55. I Can See Clearly– Jimmy Cliff
  56. Take Me the Way I Am– Ingrid Michaelson
  57. Hey, Hey, Hey– Michael Franti & Spearhead
  58. Wake Up Everybody – John Legend
  59. Move– MercyMe
  60. The Sound of Sunshine– Michael Franti & Spearhead
  61. Life is Wonderful– Jason Mraz
  62. Shiny Happy People– REM
  63. So Happy Together– The Turtles
  64. Smile– V. Bozman
  65. Brand New Day– The Wiz
  66. We Are the World
  67. On Top of the World- Imagine Dragons
  68. Roll with the Punches– Lenka
  69. Ok It’s Alright with Me– Eric Hutchinson
  70. Fireflies– Owl City
  71. Live Like You’re Dying– Kris Allen
  72. Roar– Katy Perry
  73. Brave– Sara Bareilles
  74. Wavin’ Flag– K’Naan and Will i. am
  75. Girl in the Mirror– Sophia Grace
  76. Best Day of My Life-American Authors
  77. Wouldn’t It Be Nice– Beach Boys
  78. Good Vibrations– Beach Boys
  79. Sunny Day- Joy Williams
  80. Good Morning- Mandisa
  81. I Can– Nas
  82. It’s a Beautiful Day– Jamie Grace
  83. Shed a Little Light– Goldford
  84. Lovin Me– Jonathan McReynolds
  85. Meant to Live- Switchfoot
  86. Wake Me Up– Aviici
  87. The Man– Aloe Blacc
  88. Hello World– Aloe Blacc
  89. Live Your Life- TI
  90. Alright– Kendrick Lamar
  91. Lighters– Eminem
  92. One Call Away- Charlie Pugh
  93. Don’t You Worry Child– Swedish House Mafia
  94. Save the World– Swedish House Mafia
  95. Superheroes– The Script
  96. Keep Ya Head Up– Tupac
  97. Walking on Sunshine– Katrina & the Wave
  98. The Climb– Miley Cyrus
  99. Get Up, Stand Up– Bob Marley
  100. Story of Your Life– Matthew West
  101. Mean– Taylor Swift
  102. Speak Life– Toby Mac
  103. How Far I’ll Go– Alessia Cara
  104. You Lift Me Up– The Afters
  105. Hurricane– Natalie Grant
  106. Happiness– Needtobreathe
  107. Every Good Thing– The Afters
  108. Not For a Moment– Meredith Andrews
  109. Blink– Revive
  110. Good to Be Alive– Jason Gray
  111. Pocket Full of Sunshine– Natasha Bedingfield
  112. Gold– Britt Nicole
  113. You Are Loved– Josh Groban
  114. Get Back Up– Toby Mac
  115. Free to Be Me- Francesca Battistelli
  116. Watch Me Shine– Joanna Pacitti
  117. Beautiful, Beautiful – Francesca Battistelli
  118. I’m Letting Go– Francesca Battistelli
  119. Put a Little Love in Your Heart– Anne Lennox and Al Green
  120. Victory – Kim Burrell
  121. Reach for the Stars– S Club 7
  122. Soar– Christina Aguilera
  123. Larger than Life– Pinkzebra
  124. Turn! Turn! Turn!– The Byrds
  125. A Change Gonna Come– Sam Cooke
  126. Overcomer– Mandisa
  127. Confident– Kidz Bop
  128. What Makes You Beautiful– Kidz Bop
  129. Sky’s the Limit– Biggie
  130. Am I Wrong– Nico and Vinz
  131. I Am Light– India Arie
  132. Brave– Moriah Peters
  133. One Life- Hedley
  134. You’re Not Alone– Marie Miller
  135. Titanium– David Guetta & Sia
  136. The Greatest -Sia
  137. Nothing’s Real But Love– Rebecca Ferguson
  138. People Help the People- Birdy
  139. Kill’em With Kindness– Selena Gomez
  140. The Same– Matthew & Marisa
  141. When Love Takes Over– Kelly Rowland
  142. People Get Ready– The Impressions
  143. Where is the Love?– The Black Eyed Peas
  144. Glory– Common and John Legend
  145. Better When I’m Dancin– Meghan Trainor
  146. Stronger– Kelly Clarkson
  147. Who Says– Selena Gomez
  148. Hero– Mariah Carey
  149. I Wish You Well– Elizabeth Mitchell
  150. Peace Like a River– Elizabeth Mitchell
  151. You Are My Sunshine– Elizabeth Mitchell
  152. This Little Light of Mine– Elizabeth Mitchell
  153. Sesame Street Song– Jimmy Fallon and The Roots
  154. Don’t Give Up– Bruno Mars
  155. Believe in Yourself– Michael Buble
  156. Can’t Hold Us– Macklemore
  157. Take On the World– Rowan
  158. On Top of the World– Dove Cameron
  159. Everything is Sound– Jason Mraz
  160. Living in the Moment– Jason Mraz
  161. The World is Watching– Two Door Cinema Club
  162. Happy– Pharrell
  163. Hall of Fame– The Script
  164. Brighter Than the Sun- Colbie Caillat
  165. I‘m the World’s Greatest– R. Kelly
  166. Who I Am– Natasha Bedingfield
  167. Believe in Yourself
  168. Just Stand Up
  169. All- Star- Smash Mouth
  170. Good Feeling– Flo Rida
  171. Happy– Natasha Bedingfield
  172. Hakuna Matata– The Lion King
  173. I’m a Believer– Smash Mouth
  174. Boomerang– Jojo Siwa
  175. Crazy– Gnarls Barkley
  176. Haven’t Met You Yet- Michael Buble
  177. Waka Waka– Shakira
  178. Try– Colbie Caillat
  179. Power Within Me– Junga World
  180. Feel the Rush– Shaggy
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It Sounds Crazy When I Say It Aloud…

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…but it works for me. I always feel like at any given moment I have a billion thoughts flowing through my head at one time!!  I am so distracted by my own thoughts I often have several unfinished projects or tasks or books or hairstyles or folded clothes or whatever. 

So to help me focus I use prayer and lists. 

Lists like these:


have kept me sane throughout the summer. 

Functioning without a dinner menu wasn’t possible for me this summer either:


So I’ve already developed 4 different menus for the school year: 


And it’s not just my personal life in which I need mental organization. 

I need different calendars for the different aspects of my professional life:


And I like to have, if not all, majority of my resources in one easy to get to place. That’s why I developed this over the summer.  It’s a flexbook textbook created using ck12.org. It’s my own personal one-stop shop of concept development tasks, practice activities and center activities. My hope is, as the school year rolls through, I can just pull tasks and activities from here to implement in my classroom. I did this so I won’t have to scramble for ideas during the heat of the moment. I thought carefully and purposefully about everything I placed into the flexbook, ensuring I chose items that were meaningful, engaging and met the level of the standards. 

When I tell people about it, it sounds crazy and overwhelming. The truth is, as thoughts came to me, I was able to insert it into my flexbook and ease my mind and eliminate unnecessary thoughts. This actually made it better for me because while I was spending time with my family, I didn’t have to think about school stuff. I was able to be present in each moment. Even better, it’s less work I’ll have to do as the year begins because the hard work is done. 

Coaching Goals 2016

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At the end of last school year, the math teachers and I got together to discuss use of manipulatives and mathematical discourse. (A Balanced Approach Prezi)

During this professional learning session, we read portions of this article. Teachers were asked which of the 5 Practices they felt they needed to work on the most. Like most teachers, many felt they were already using the practices and had a difficult time selecting one on which to improve. But like any growth mindset person, we know there’s always room for growth. 

This is why one of my coaching goals for this school year is to work with teachers on improving on one of the five practices. My plan is to confer with teachers within the first month of school to establish the goal and collect data and monitor progress throughout the first semester. This falls right in line with our school goal of increasing classroom discussions. I’ll be using this book as a guide. 


My second coaching goal for the year is increasing the use of manipulatives within all math classrooms. I’m still pondering the best method for doing so. The biggest hurdle is teacher comfortability. However, I know the more they use them, the more they will become comfortable with using them. So step 1, ease teachers into use and help them feel comfortable using them. Step 2, ensure teachers are using best practices when employing manipulatives.   At my elementary school, teachers were more willing to use them as it was a high priority. Now in my middle school, it’s not as high on the list. 

If anyone has any ideas and strategies they’ve used, please leave a comment and share. 

As the School Year Approaches 

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This summer was a first in a long while for me. It was the first summer I had not worked majority of the summer. I actually spent time with my family, with my God and with myself. I worked out hard until our vacation, and then I completely let myself go 😕.  Not only that, I allowed myself to begin thinking heavily about what I want from this new school year. 

A Different Kind of Year

This school year, I’ll have the pleasure of teaching one class of Introduction to Algbrea (8th) in the mornings and performing coaching duties for the rest of the day.  I’m elated by this setup because there are so many things I would love to improve upon as a middle school teacher. I want this school year to be better than two years ago when I was teaching 7th grade, which I would classify as a “pretty good” year.  

So here’s what I’ve been thinking:

  1. Standards-based grading: At our school, we have developed a school-wide grading policy. I’m wondering how my philosophy about SBG will fit into the school’s vision. This year, I would like to continue using portfolios and having students submit the work they feel best displays their understanding of the concepts. But I would like to incorporate concept quizzes which would go into the grade book for reporting purposes. My thoughts are, in addition to the mini daily formative assessments and the common formative assessments (required to administer every Friday) I would provide written feedback to students on the work submitted from the portfolio, it would be a checkpoint each week so students By the time they take the common assessments (summative/formative) we would have  a holistic view of their progress. This post from Dane Ehlert inspired me to keep moving in a fair grading direction.  This year, I will develop literature to share with parents so they will have a better understanding of SBG. 
  2. Context for Learning: When I was coaching at an elementary school, we had learning kits developed by Catherine Twoney Fosnot called Context for Learning.  I loved these kits as they introduced mathematical concepts through an interesting context using books and visual images. I’m using this instructional strategy for the 8th grade concepts this school year. To begin each unit, I have a context which will engage students in investigating the mathematical ideas vs me teaching and telling everything upfront followed by some sort of problem solving activity. Using Fosnot’s work as a guide, the lesson structure will include an investigation, my support during the investigation, and a student-led discussion to summarize the investigation.  Many contexts will be introduced by a video or image. Here’s an example of a lesson I wrote using Fosnot’s lesson structure. Uncle Drew- Solving Equations 
  3. Literature Centers: I’ve pulled book titles from this list and activities from this site to put in a center. Students would read the texts to reinforce ideas and understandings of the mathematical concepts covered using various reading strategies. 
  4. Games for Practice: When I was in the classroom in 2014, I don’t think I incorporated practice enough to balance instruction. This year, as I’m organizing my tasks and activities, I have been very intentional about including practice activities. I don’t want to be a Kuta Software printing teacher. I want my activities to be engaging and meaningful to students. So I plan on making a lot of the games using Popsicle sticks, Versatiles templates, fun kid games like musical chairs and more.