Transcontinental Railroad-Choo Choo

Transcontinental Railroad. Late 1800s. 6th grade curriculum. 12 year olds who would rather be talking with their friends, facebooking, going to the movies. Do you see where I’m headed with this? I had to do SOMETHING that would keep them engaged. I wanted them to know:

1. How hard it was to build

2. How it felt to be mistreatedย 

3. How important it was to our country

Definitely got the 1st 2 across and hope they understood the 3rd one as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

Each student had to wear a name card identifying who they were while building their part of the railroad. An apology to the Chinese immigrants who were treated unfairly.



The bottom railroad was made by one class who had more time to work while the top one was made by the class who didn’t have as much time.

It was ORGANIZED CHAOS in our room. ๐Ÿ™‚

They had rulers to measure the paper, and I wrote the measurements on the board of what they needed to do.

However, here is a bit of wisdom.

DO NOT ASSUME that they all know how to measure with rulers.ย 

DO NOT ASSUME that they can do this by reading measurements on the board.

I think I will make a section of the track in front of them next year before I let them go at it. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s amazing the things I learn each day from my students!!

It ended up being an engaging activity that I will have them do every year that I teach history!


Rachel’s Tears Book Review

Rachel's Tears: The Spiritual Journey of Columbine Martyr Rachel ScottRachel’ s Tears by Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott

Goodreads Summary:

The Columbine tragedy in April 1999 pierced the heart of our country. In December 1999, we learned that the teenage killers specifically targeted Rachel Scott and mocked her Christian faith on their chilling, homemade videotapes. Rachel Scott died for her faith. Now her parents talk about Rachel’s life and how they have found meaning in their daughter’s martyrdom in the aftermath of the school shooting. “Rachel’s Tears” comes from a heartfelt need to celebrate this young girl’s life, to work through the grief and the questions of a nation, and to comfort those who have been touched by violence in our schools today. Using excerpts and drawings from Rachel’s own journals, her parents offer a spiritual perspective on the Columbine tragedy and provide a vision of hope for preventing youth violence across the nation.

My Thoughts:

A very moving and spiritual book about the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. Of course I remember this horrific event, but I never followed too much of it afterwards concerning the victims or the shooters.

This book revealed the spiritual walk and life of Rachel Scott, one of the 13 victims in the form of narration from her parents and others who knew her as well as her journals. The journals were amazing as they shed light on her personal walk with God.

I’m a better person because of reading this book.

If you want to read about Rachel’s Challenge which was started because of her kind nature and spirit you can visit the website below:

Rachel’s Challenge

Night by Elie Wiesel Book Review

Night  Night by Elie Wiesel

Goodreads Summary:

Nightย A terrifying account of the Nazi death camp horror that turns a young Jewish boy into an agonized witness to the death of his family…the death of his innocence…and the death of his God. Penetrating and powerful, as personal asย The Diary Of Anne Frank,ย Nightย awakens the shocking memory of evil at its absolute and carries with it the unforgettable message that this horror must never be allowed to happen again.

My Thoughts:

Author wasn’t afraid of revealing his thoughts and feelings even when it made him seem harsh. An honestly written book about what he went through and how it changed him during those times! Very thought provoking. Makes the reader wonder how he/she would have reacted to those terrible atrocities.

Some powerful quotes from the book-

” ….I feel that books, just like people, have a destiny. Some invite sorrow, others joy, some both.”

“To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive;to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”

” He does not want his past to become their future.”

5 of 5 stars

Trapped Book Review by Chris Jordan

Trapped  (Randall Shane #2)Trapped by Chris Jordan

Goodreads Summary:

“Mom, I need your help. Please callโ€”” That’s it. The call cuts off in midsentence. No static. Nothing.Just an overwhelming silence.

Long Island single mom Jane Hartley is frantic when her sixteen-year-old daughter, Kelly, a survivor of childhood leukemia, disappears from her bedroom one night. To Jane’s frustration, the police believe that Kelly ran off willingly with her boyfriend, Seth. Unaware that her daughter even had a boyfriend, Jane soon discovers that Seth is no boy. He is an adultโ€”a man who, after meeting Kelly on the Internet, took the teenager on one thrill-seeking ride after another. From motorcycles to skydiving, Jane’s little girl has been hiding some dangerous secrets.

Like mother, like daughter.

Adamant that Kelly is not a runaway but, rather, is being held against her will, Jane hires ex-FBI agent Randall Shane to follow the trail of her missing child. But every step brings them closer to a cold-blooded predator lurking in the shadowsโ€ฆ coiled around Jane’s shameful secretโ€ฆwaiting to strike.

My Thoughts:

This one hit close to home with the kidnapping of Jane’s teenage daughter who has kept secrets from her mom.ย 2nd book of Chris Jordan’s Randall Shane mysteries. Great way to pass a Sunday afternoon.

This is the 2nd one I’ve read by Chris Jordan. They aren’t excellent in keeping me grasping at the pages to find out what’s going to happen next, but I do like them and like them enough to read more of his. ๐Ÿ™‚

3 of 5 stars

Sitting Bull Book Review

Sitting Bull: Dakota Boy (Childhood of Famous Americans)Sitting Bull by Augusta Stevenson

Did you ever read these little biographies when you were in elementary school? I remember I couldn’t get enough of them! I don’t remember how many I read back then, but they were so easy to read, and I remember feeling like I was back in that time.

I picked this one up last week from our school library because I knew we had a 6th grade history lesson coming up on a couple of battles between the settlers and the Indians where Sitting Bull was involved. It didn’t disappoint! Loved it! ๐Ÿ™‚

Goodreads Summary:

Sitting Bull was admired by friends and enemies alike for his courage, strength, intelligence, and humanity. A great Sioux chief, he fought to preserve his people’s homeland and way of life from the encroachment of the white man. Illustrations.

Sitting Bull didn’t always have that name. He earned it in his youth.

I’m hoping that some of my students will pick this one up so they can get a clearer picture of what life was like for the Indians during that time. ๐Ÿ™‚

5 of 5 stars

French and Indian War Comic Strips





Now this was FUN! I’m hoping it made a lasting impression and led to a greater understanding of the French and Indian war. Which by the way-in my opinion wasn’t named correctly since it was a war between the French and British with the Indians being allies of the French. How confusing is that???? They should have kept 5th graders in mind when naming this one. ๐Ÿ™‚

We had already read and discussed the French and Indian War and taken notes on it before we did this activity. And STILL-I think I might should have required the same information for everyone in the 4 frames. If you could see each one you would notice that a couple of kids got a little confused about the Proclamation of 1763 and the Treaty of Paris. I mean who wouldn’t? So note to self for next year-TEACH FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR, MAKE COMIC STRIPS, THEN LEARN ABOUT PONTIAC’S REBELLION. ๐Ÿ™‚ PROBLEM SOLVED!

I originally put this in my lesson plans for 2 days-2 class periods that is. Next year it will be going down in the books for 3 days. Unless I have them finish it for homework, and I’m not too keen on homework. ๐Ÿ™‚

All in all, this was FUN, engaging, and student centered. I have detected another problem though. When the kids are actively working on something where they don’t need too much of my help I GET BORED! I’m thinking of buying a pedometer to see how many miles I walk each day at school in my classroom. ๐Ÿ™‚ Maybe I should start making what they make when it’s a project like this!!!!

This is definitely a lesson/activity that I will repeat in the years to come!






Since I don’t really have an original bone in my body here are a couple of links where I got this idea. ๐Ÿ™‚

Mr. Husted’s Class

John Jones’ Elementary School

Do you have a lesson/activity that is so good that you will do forever????



I had to get in a long run this weekend since I’m (ha-ha) training for my half marathon at the end of February. ๐Ÿ™‚

I did it. 9 miles in 1:53:11. NO WALKING!!



To say I am proud and feeling a little cocky is an understatement! ๐Ÿ™‚

Mile Splits:










Miles 1-4 I felt GREAT. I’m talking GREAT. I didn’t have to worry about hunters (I ran on the dirt roads near my house) because I was singing with my IPOD so I knew I wouldn’t be shot. ๐Ÿ™‚

The end of mile 5 was fine, too, because of my friend called the DOWNHILL. ๐Ÿ™‚

So you can probably guess what happened at mile 6. Yep, the enemy-UPHILL himself. OMG! Mile 7, too. But I didn’t give up. Miles 8 and 9 I wasn’t “hurting”, but I.WAS.TIRED. ๐Ÿ™‚

Look at mile 9. Yep. Now I know how a horse feels when they sense they are returning to the barn. They run fast!


Seriously thought I was going to throw up when I stopped running. ๐Ÿ™‚

Ate a banana and drank a tank of water. ๐Ÿ™‚

Then it hit me. I hadn’t fueled properly. See for breakfast I ate some peanut butter cheerios and a greek yogurt. Yum. I didn’t eat lunch because I went running around 11:45 am. Uh-oh. I DID eat this little gummy energy gel. WOW. It must have worn off after mile 4. ๐Ÿ™‚

Took a shower, posted my accomplishment, and took a little nap. Little might not be the best adjective to describe that nap. Woke up at 4:30-went out to eat at 5. THANK.GOD.

Now it’s 7:15 pm, and I feel good!

Let me back up for a minute-my calves NEVER hurt during this run! They usually have flames coming out of them. ๐Ÿ™‚

My 2 big toes started hurting, and my back ached a little.

Now I’m just tired. Headed to bed to peruse the internet and read. It was a great run!

What’s your longest run? How did you feel after your FIRST really long run? Any advice or suggestions?


Good Night Maman Book Review

Good Night, MamanGood Night, Maman by Norma Fox Mazer.

Goodreads Summary:

“Dearest Maman,ย 
I keep all my letters to you in my notebook under my pillow. One day, when we’re together again, I’ll give them to you, and we’ll sit and read them….”

In June 1940, twelve-year-old Karin Levi’s world is torn apart as the German army occupies Paris. Karin, her older brother, Marc, and their “maman” must flee, seeking safety wherever they can find it. But Maman falls ill and is unable to travel, forcing Karin and Marc to leave her behind. When Marc manages to obtain two coveted places aboard a ship bound for America, the distance between them grows even greater. Will Karin ever see her beloved “maman” again?

My Thoughts:

I loved this book. It told the story of Karin, a Jewish girl, hiding from the Germans with her family. It was told in a sort of two fold way-the story of her life from her point of view and then letters she wrote to her mom when they became separated.

I’m warning you-if you are sensitive like me you are going to need some tissues.

This is definitely a recommend for my students! ๐Ÿ™‚

On a sidenote-since this will probably never happen again I thought I needed to capture this image. I am 2 books AHEAD of schedule for my reading goal this year!! What? Seriously? I.ROCK. ๐Ÿ™‚

2013 Reading Challenge
You have read 7 books toward your goal of 200 books.
Great work, you’re 2 books (1%) ahead of schedule.

Running Confession

Ran 3 miles after school with my running buddy OUTSIDE. Been running on the treadmill lately so it felt good to run outside. I just wish there were some trails near our school. It gets a little boring running around town. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have a running confession to make. I don’t like training for this half marathon. I mean not that I’m really training for it like I should be, but if I was…. See that’s the problem. I LOVE to run, but I love to run when I want to run and how long I want to run.

I was supposed to start training for the Princess Half Marathon that is at the end of February back in November. Ahem. Just now starting the training. ๐Ÿ™‚

So lets say I am on a crash course. I will be seeking out EVERY Disney character I can during the race to take a picture with, you know for the memories, or ummmm the REST BREAKS!! ๐Ÿ™‚

So if you are the praying kind, and if you like me just a teensy bit, please PRAY for me! ๐Ÿ™‚ That I will finish this race without getting picked up by the street sweeper!!!

Sidenote- this is the kind of day I had today at school.

5th grade:

One student who is 13 told me he was 14. Told another teacher he was 13. He doesn’t know how old he is.

One student didn’t know the difference between a heart and a star while looking at a star.

One student forgot how to spell I. The capital letter I.

Only one of these students has an IEP. Really.

I have to say I handled ALL 3 situations well thank you very much. ๐Ÿ™‚

Teaching kids is NEVER boring!

Do you have a running confession?

How was your day?