Thursday, November 5, 2015

Review: Mentoring Minds Common Core Aligned Resources

This post is sponsored by Mentoring Minds, although the opinions of the product are mine.

(Motivating Reading - Common Core Aligned - Level 2  • Published by Mentoring Minds)

Hello Everybody,

I was recently introduced to an educational publishing company called Mentoring Minds. Mentoring Minds is a company that was founded by former educators, and is developing research based learning resources that are Common Core Aligned.  The goal for the products is to meet the needs of both the students and teachers!

Mentoring Minds has developed Math, ELA, Reading, and Science Resources.   I chose to review the Motivation Reading Level 2 product.  You can read more about it, and purchase here.

When I agreed to review this product, I didn't know anything about the company or product.  I was pleasantly surprised when I received a package in the mail and saw that it included both a student and teacher copy of the resource.  This gave me a broader preview of what Mentoring Minds has to offer.


The Motivation Reading Student Edition includes 24 reading passages.  Along with each reading passage are assessments, critical writing passages, extended practice, and parent assessments.
At the back of the book, there is a reading glossary, and a chart intended to mark off student success as they master the skills in the book.

The passages in the book are age appropriate, and aligned with common core!  The activities that go along with each passage are intended to assess the student's comprehension of the material that they read, and be able to answer (writing practice) questions based upon what they read.

By itself, the Motivation Reading Student Edition is a useful resource to gauge student comprehension. Having the reading passages and assessments included in the book altogether would save the teacher a lot of extra time writing their own and trying to figure out how to cover all of the Common Core Standards required.  Combined with the Motivation Reading Teacher Edition, it is a complete package.

Sample Reading Passage from Motivation Reading (Common Core Aligned) Level 2
To read more about and purchase the book click here!


The Motivation Reading Teacher Edition, in my opinion, is a valuable tool. At the front of the book, is a list of content that is included in the Motivation Reading Student Edition.  This is particularly helpful because it explains in detail how the Student Edition should be used. 

Included in the book are instructions for use, a break down of the Common Core Standards applied, vocabulary focus, suggestions for instruction of the standards, and suggested books for read alouds, student lead reading, and for research projects.

For each of the 24 passages in the Motivation Reading Student Edition, the Teacher Edition details out how to teach the skills, as well as provides assessments, interventions, answer keys for the activities, and a break down of the standards.  

What I like the most about this book is that it explains the Common Core standards, and then breaks them down with suggestions how to teach the skills.  This in particular is something that is lacking in a lot of the resources on the market. Teachers are expected to align their lessons to Common Core Standards, but don't always have the resources necessary to do this. The methods and activities included in the Teacher Edition are supported by research that is made available on the Mentoring Minds website, here.

Mentoring Minds ONLINE

Mentoring Minds has an online portal that allows the teacher to access the Teacher Edition, assessments, and other helpful tools.  The teacher has the options to utilize the books, use the online portal, or a combination of both.  For schools that are going paperless, this would also be a positive for purchasing the product.

I came away from the online experience thinking that Mentoring Minds had thought of everything that I would want to have available to me.  Every step of the way there is support.

Mentoring Minds  has prepared a section of Webinar Resources (click the image for the link). On November 10th, 2015,  Mentoring Minds will be hosting a webinar "Integrating Critical Thinking into Math, Reading, Science, and Writing with Total Motivation"  You can register through their link here.  The previously hosted webinars are also available to view on the webinar page.


• Motivation Reading is Common Core Aligned
• Research Based
• Very detailed with instructions, and suggestions for teaching the specific skills based on the
     Common Core Standard.
• Teacher Edition is available with the Student Edition
• Assessments
• Online resources for added flexibility and resources.
• Suggested intervention for students that are needing additional assistance.
• Support


The only drawback to this product that I have found is that due to the copyright restrictions. Permission is not granted to copy pages from the book for classroom use.  Multiple copies of the book would need to be purchased.  Many schools and teachers won't have a problem with this,  but some schools with limited resources may find it difficult to provide a set for each student.

Other Products by Mentoring Minds....

Math Products
ELA Products
Reading Products
Science Products
Critical Thinking
Professional Development

Friday, October 9, 2015

Periscope Tutorial: Adding Periscope Widget on Blogger or WP Blogs

Are you a fan of Periscope?  Do you like to make impromptu posts, or check throughout the day for your favorite Teacher Sellers pop on and share their latest gadget or product?  Periscope has made it possible to share with your fans and followers when you are on LIVE!  

This quickie tutorial will show you how to generate the code and embed it in either Blogger or Word Press blogs!  It takes all of a minute or two to do.  It's really easy!

Step 1 is to log into Periscope here:   The page will come up and look just like the screenshot above!

Step 2.   Type in your username and click the green button.   Wa la!

Step 3 - Copy the embed code as  shown in the screen shot.

(If you are on Word Press - Scroll down to where it says Word Press Instructions)

Step 4.  Open up your Blogger dashboard, click LAYOUT.   Here, you are going to want to open up a new HTML Gadget.   Then PASTE the code you received from Periscope into the box.

Before you hit SAVE.....  To make the widget centered add the code:   <center> at the beginning of the snippet of code and end it with </center>   This will center the coding and it will look all pretty.

Save widget.  You can now re-position it where you want it to appear in your sidebar.

This image shows what the widget looks like.


Step 4:  Open your dashboard,  click on Widgets.  

.  Open a new TEXT box.

Paste the code into the box.   Add the center tags <center>  </center> as shown in the image to center the widget.  After it is saved, you can re-position where the widget appears in the sidebar.

See how easy that was?

For other Blog tutorials,  check out my sidebar menu.  

If you haven't started a blog yet, or you are looking to convert to Word Press,  check out my Blog design site here:  Teacher Blog Designs!  Now offering migration and full Virtual Assistant services as well! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fer Cryin Outloud...Mr. Gionet

"Fer Cryin Out Loud"  - R.I.P. Mr. Gionet    August 8, 2015

As many teachers and students are excitedly heading back to school,  it gives me pause for thought about the teachers that influenced my life over the years.  The first person that comes to mind is my 9th grade World Cultures teacher, Mr. Gionet.   He was new to the school that year, all of the girls were crushing on his handsome good looks.  To say that he was tough on his students, in many cases, is an under statement.  Though I have to say that he is one of the most respected and loved teachers. 

One of Mr. Gionet's favorite sayings was "Fer Cryin' Out Loud"....  as well as "Don't do anything stupid!"  There are many more Gionet-isms to list. 

Mr. Gionet was the first teacher that took the time to recognize that even though I am a different kind of learner, that if I applied myself that I would succeed.  There was one particular day in Mr. Gionet's class that changed my life.  He had given us an assignment which was an oral presentation in front of our classmates.  We were to give a 2 minute talk where we had to either make something, or explain how something was made.  Of course the thought of me standing up in front of my peers, and actually speaking intelligently petrified me.  I never was very good at public speaking, but it is a skill that Mr. Gionet felt was important.   At the time,  I was horrified at the idea.

I blush very easily, and when I am nervous or scared I talk really fast.   Think of  "deer in the headlights" personified.   Rather than face certain humiliation and embarrassment,  I opted to take a failing grade and not do the assignment.   That wasn't good enough for Mr. Gionet.   He asked me to step out into the hall, which was reserved for really bad kids.  When he was finished talking to the rest of the class, he came out into the hall to talk to me.  He asked me what I thought I was doing.  He said that my refusal to do the assignment was not acceptable, and that he expected me to show up the next day.  He was not going to allow me to fail.

Mr. Gionet coached track and football in Snohomish.

Despite the stern look on his face, I knew that he cared.  He and I talked for a few minutes about the disruption I had made in class and that he believed I had a lot more potential than I was showing him.
He expected me to be prepared for class the next day, and he didn't care what my talk was on, but I was going to do it.

I went home that night and told my Mom that I needed to have some sort of THING to do that I could explain how it was made in 2 minutes.  We decided that I would bake some scones to take to class and explain to the other classmates how they are part of my heritage.   We baked the scones the night before and I wrote my talk on the index card Mr. Gionet gave me.

The next day rolled around and I was nervous as heck.  I could tell my cheeks were flushed, and as my luck would have it,  Mr. Gionet called me up to his desk.  He sat at the back of the class and all eyes were on me while I began my talk.  I could feel my voice starting to shutter, cheeks bright red, and I began talk faster.  If you think 2 minutes isn't very long, wait until you're giving a talk.  It felt like forever. The only face I remember in the group of classmates was Alan Schoeban.  He was smiling at me the whole time, which actually helped me not be so nervous.  When I was done,  I uncovered the pans of fresh made scones.  Of course all of the student's eyes lit up because they got to eat in class.  Mr. Gionet let them dig in, and he came over to me and told me I did a good job.  He said he was proud of me.  The best part, I got an A.  Not an A+,  but just an A.   He said I didn't get an A+ because I had talked a little too fast. :)    I can live with an A.   After the presentations were over and the classmates had ate.... Alan Davis and Brad McDaniel came up to me and said that they liked my food.

The rest of the school year,  I worked harder and better.  Not just for Mr. Gionet, but for myself.

I moved on the high school and graduated with my class.  I had the opportunity a few times to see Mr. Gionet, as he had moved up to the high school to teach Government and History.  No matter how long of a time it was since you were in his class, he always knew you by name and had a thoughtful comment.  He expected his students to be prepared, to act responsibly, and to do our best.

Over a year ago,  I had heard that Mr. Gionet had cancer.  There is a group that was set up on Facebook for his current and former classmates to send him messages and keep up with him.  It was amazing to see how many people across the country knew of him, and thought the world of him and his family.   At one point, I wondered if he knew just how many people loved him and thought the world of him.  Many of us followed the page faithfully to see if there was any news on Mr. Gionet's health.  He continued to teach and coach (track and football) while undergoing treatment.  I've talked to classmates who had seen him during this time, and he was business as usual.  He never let anything get him down. That didn't really surprise me because that was the kind of person he was.

I had gotten in touch with his wife a couple weeks ago to get their home address as I wanted to send him a card to let him know that he had a profound impact on my life, and that the work I now, and my work ethic, has a lot to do with him.

I sit here writing this post with tears in my eyes because I didn't get the chance to say the things to Mr. Gionet that I wanted to. With a heavy heart...On August 8th, Mr. Gionet passed away.  I chose today to write this post because his memorial service is this afternoon at Snohomish High School.  I'm not able to fly back to attend, but I wanted my friends and followers to know what a great teacher I had.

(This picture was taken outside of SHS, where a memorial was posted at the big tree in honor of Mr. Gionet. Students came from all over the country to honor him today).

Mr. Gionet wasn't just a teacher.  He was a mentor, and friend to so many.   He didn't just stand in front of the classroom dictating facts and info, he was a part of our learning.  He wanted his students to THINK, and to really dig deep and learn.  He lived the lessons he taught, and set the bar really high. Not just because he could, but because he knew that we could all reach it.  It was an honor and privilege to be his student.

This is a picture of the note that Mr. Gionet had posted to his podium in his classroom.  I saved this picture because I believe that these are words that we could all live by.

So long, Mr. Gionet.  I imagine that the fishing is pretty good in Heaven.

Until we meet again.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Being Motivated - Monday

My dear friend Mel from Graphics from the Pond created this awesome new "Motivate Me Monday" link up.   What I liked about it was it gave me time to pause and reflect about what my answers were.  Many of the things that I wrote down are things I'd been pondering, but hadn't really figured out how to make it into a post. :)   Until now....

The link up includes a blank Motivate Me work sheet that you can find on Mel's page,  and this week has 6 prompts as seen in the sample below.  You can learn more about the link up HERE

And then what you do is write on post-it-notes or other scraps of paper and attach it to your board.  Then you take a picture of it. :)

Inspirational Quote: (Upper left)  My quote from Pele' was taken from the Internet.  I liked the theme.   I think the combination of hard work, and loving what you do is important for success.

Inspirational Friend:  (Upper right)   My friend Danielle Knight (@studyallknight) inspires me, and she probably doesn't even know it.  She has a creative talent that is unique, she is a go-getter.  Rarely do I ever see her down about anything. Even if something may be not be quite right, She figures out a cool way to deal with it.  She is a true blue friend...Friends like that are definitely rare! :)

Something an Inspirational Teacher or Colleague might say:    #fercryinoutloud was chosen in honor of my teacher Mr. Gionet that passed away last Saturday after a long battle with cancer.  My blog post tomorrow will explain more in detail why this person is significant and why I chose his hashtag to use. :)  For now, just trust me that this person is one of the finest teachers I ever had the privilege of knowing, and will be dearly missed.

Song Lyric:   I used a snipped from the Lady Antebellum song Compass.  This song was chosen because it reminds me to follow the path that I am meant to be on not the one others expect me to follow.  Even when times are darkest, there are friends and family along the way that will be there. And if not, there is always loud music, chocolate, and the occasional mixed cocktail. :))

Makes me Smile:   A job well done.   Lately,   I've been doing a lot of extra work and just having so much accomplished, and the people the work was done for appreciate and love it - it makes it all worthwhile.

Something to look forward to:   Launching my new product line.  A work in progress for a long, long time... :)

Thank you for reading, if you made it this far.   In the coming days, and weeks, you're going to see a huge transformation in my Blog and web presence. :) Woo hoo!  Stay tuned.    And if you are so inclined, show Mel some <3 at her Blog From the Pond..

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Shark Week

Most teachers know that kids learn better when they are engaged and excited about what they are studying.  A group of teacher bloggers came together this week to help your students take a BITE out of learning by celebrating SHARK WEEK!


I put together a freebie for you called "My Pet Shark..." It's a simple flip type book that gives the students a fun way to write about what they are learning about sharks.  This activity is variable so you can use it with younger as well as older students.  I have included 2 cover styles, and mixture of pages to choose from.

I printed my example copy with #Astrobrite paper.  I just love how it turned out!

fintastic freebie

Be sure to go for a swim and visit MRS. O Knows's Blog.  She has an amazing freebie for you too!

Every blog in the Shark Week Blog Hop features a jawesome freebie for you and your students- but hurry! Shark Week only lasts until Sunday, July 12  : )

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bloglovin' for Teacher Bloggers

Are you new to Blogging, or aren't sure what Bloglovin' is?   You've come to the right place.

In 2013,  Bloglovin' took the place of Google Reader (A Blogspot feature).  If you didn't have Google Reader, you probably don't know what you're missing.  Google Reader gave Bloggers a way to follow each other, and be able to read posts via email.  It was a pretty cool tool because you could see at a glance what was new.

Bloglovin' is a FREE service that allows Bloggers to FOLLOW you!   It's a great tool which allows hour follows to keep up with your posts.

It's easy to sign up.   Go to

You have a choice to sign up using your Facebook login, or you can create an email login.

After you have completed the sign up process, you can go to Bloglovin and customize your settings. You will look for the pull down menu at the top right of the page.

You can add your logo, a description of your Blog, and link your Blog to Bloglovin.   Linking up your Blog to Bloglovin is important because this is how other Bloggers (fans, friends & followers) can follow you.  :)

Linking your Blog to Bloglovin requires confirming.  If you have a brand new Blog, it's a good idea to have one post on your page so that Bloglovin will link up properly.

Below the section in settings where you add your logo, description, and Blog - is a section for notifications: 

This section will give you control in what notices you receive, and how frequently you receive them. This is a nice feature.  If you're anything like me,  extra emails can become a deal breaker.  I like receiving my Bloglovin notices all in one email.

After you exit out of Settings, under the same pull down, you can start following other Blogs.

At the top of the Bloglovin page, you can click on the link to Find Blogs.  As shown in the screen shot above, the Blogs are put in categories.  If you know the name of the Blog you would like to find, you can type it into the search box.  (My Blog is under Crayonbox Learning... are you following me?)

Once you find the Blogs you would like to follow, click FOLLOW and start reading! :)

If you want to adjust which Blogs you follow, you will go back to the pull down menu, and select "EDIT BLOGS YOU FOLLOW."  Here, you can choose to mark it private so it isn't on your list of followed Blogs, put them in a group, and unfollow. 

If you'd like to add a Follow me on Bloglovin' Button on your Blog, the HTML code is below.  You can copy/paste it and put it into your HTML widget.  You'll edit the code marked in purple with your own Bloglovin URL

Copy/Paste code below into a new HTML widget.

<center><a title="Follow Me on Bloglovin" href="Your Bloglovin Here"><img border="0" alt="Follow on Bloglovin" src="" /></a>

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Currently - May 2015

Hey friends!   It's time for the May Currently! Yay!

It has been a BUSY couple of months.  I am looking forward to life slowing down a little bit.

LISTENING:  I've been watching Undercover BOSS on Netflix for the last few days.  It would be nice to think that there are employees out there that enjoy their jobs and give it their all... AND.. that bosses take the time to say thank you!

LOVING: Spring is here and everything is in bloom.  I've been enjoying the fresh grass, blooming flowers, and birds making nests in the trees.  

THINKING:  I'm working on my house... thinking about a fresh coat of paint, new rugs, linens and planting tomato plants!  :)

WANTING: A vacation to some place warm, maybe with a white sandy beach.

NEEDING:  Ice cream.  It's the simple things. :)

SUMMER:  Sun, FUN, and fresh blended margaritas.    My summer will be filled with more adventure and fun, instead of just work.  I can't wait!