Cultivating Minds Without Losing My Own

Join me on my Adventures in Elementary Education

Hello Middle Twp. Elementary Grade 5!


I am so excited to be joining the staff of Middle Twp. Elementary #2 5th grade team! Joining an elementary school mid-year to replace a beloved teacher is a daunting task, but I believe that I am more than up for it! This is my 17th year as an educator. Five of those years have been spent teaching middle school, 8 teaching upper elementary school, 2 years as an instructional coach,  and the last two as an administrator. I found that I missed the classroom and working with students daily terribly! I am so grateful for this opportunity to return to the classroom. Allow me to introduce myself.

Teacher is one of my many roles in life. In addition to the time I will be spending with my students, I am a mother, coach, and artist. My husband and I share five (yes, you read that correctly) children ranging in age from 10-20. I coach my daughter’s travel soccer team and manage the travel lacrosse league for my town. I love art and share that passion with children and adults through art parties.

Here we are! Missing our oldest two daughters! It’s very hard to get 5 kids together at once!

I am a graduate of Stockton University for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees.  I have a BA in elementary education as well as psychology.  My master’s degree is in instructional technology.  I am also flip classroom certified, and hope to incorporate some of those practices into our learning.




I plan on using this blog as a way for families to take a peek into our classroom each week to better understand what we are learning and how they can help and also to provide short tutorials on the skills we are covering to ensure that students have all the resources needed to be successful in completing homework and studying for upcoming assessments.  Each Sunday I will provide a brief summary of what will be covered in each subject area for the week.    Along with each summary will be a short video that will explain any terms or skills so that students and families can reference them during the week to assist with assignments.  Links will be posted on the right hand side to allow for students to access websites used in class at home.

This week we will be getting to know each other.  On Tuesday, we will spend time learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the impact he has made on our country.


Wednesday and Thursday will consist of play practice as well as skill assessments to help me better get a feel for where my students are which will in turn better help me to plan for the coming week.  On Friday, we will practice our audience skills and watch our classmates perform!

Pay it Forward- A Lesson in the Gift of Kindness


pay it forward


February, albeit a short month, is one that is jam-packed with activities.  Many of our activities this month are focused around Valentine’s Day and our hearts.  We are going to take this to “heart” this month and begin a 2 week family project.  Many of us have seen the movie “Pay it Forward” which came out in the late 90’s. The premise of the movie is that if one person does an act of kindness for another it can start a chain reaction of events that can change the lives of thousands of people for the better.  We will be reading the novel, Pay it Forward  in class beginning next week as a read aloud.  The author of the original book recently released a child-friendly version this past August.  It is a beautifully written book that I hope will encourage my students to begin to look for ways to be kind and do kind things for others on a regular basis.  

Beginning the weekend of Valentine’s Day, February 14th, students will be given a kindness journal to keep track of acts of kindness they either see,  do for others, or have done for them.   The notebook will be divided in to three sections- things I have done for others, things I saw someone do for someone else, and things someone has done for me.   In addition to recording the act that was done or seen, they will also write a sentence or two or draw a picture to describe how they felt.  For example, my daughters made me a special snack and hid it in my lunch box the other day.  When I found it at lunch, it touched me and made me feel good that my girls were thoughtful enough to make me a healthy snack knowing that I had been rushing around that morning and hadn’t packed much of a lunch for myself.   If I were recording this in my kindness journal I would have recorded in the “Someone did Something Nice for Me” section.    I am asking students to write one act of kindness for each day.  The goal is that students will develop a sense of community through this activity and become more aware of the way we make others feel when we are kind.  This assignment will be due on February 27th.  I am requiring students to do this EVERY DAY- even weekends!

Please feel free to comment in your child’s journal as well or better yet, start a family kindness journal and have everyone participate!   Just like in the book and movie, I would love to see everyone “Pay it Forward” and cultivate a community where kindness grows and thrives!


Happy New Year! The Impact of Mindset on Goals


mindset 1

New Years is a time when many people reflect back on the past year and analyze their choices in life and begin to think about how to make the next year better.  I usually set goals for myself rather than resolutions.  Resolutions are defined as the answer to a problem.  I think we can all admit that there are problems in our lives we’d like the answers to, but just making a resolution is not the answer.  I’ve made what I thought were resolutions in the past (to go to the gym more, to eat healthier, to not procrastinate on assignments, to get the laundry done quicker, etc).  These are not answers to a problem though.  Technically they are goals I’d like to achieve.  I’d like to go to the gym more and in order to do that, I will have to take steps to make it happen such as schedule time, arrange childcare, and pack my gym supplies.  I’d like to eat healthier and in order to do that I will need to shop with purpose for healthier ingredients, prepare food at home instead of getting take out, and skip out on some of those not so healthy snacks.  

This week, we will be spending some time learning about setting goals for ourselves.  We will work to set goals for both school and home.  We will think about the steps we will need to take to ensure that we can follow through on these goals and be successful.  While we are doing this we will also examine a theory in a book that I read last year, Mindset.  In this book the author, Carol Dweck, identifies 2 different ways of thinking, or mindsets.

mindset 2



 The first is a fixed mindset.  Those with a fixed mindset believe that they are who they are, can do what they can do, and think the way the think because they are born that way.  For example if you always struggled with math that is because you were born with a limited knowledge of math and once you hit that point you couldn’t learn any more.  Those with a fixed mindset believe that they are the way they are and that is that.  They will continue to prove that they are what they believe until they experience a failure.  For example, if you always believed you were the fastest person and then you were beat by someone else you would be crushed.  Your beliefs were ruined!  You would start to feel horrible about yourself.  This mindset is not wrong- but it can be detrimental to learning.  If you immediately think that you are a failure because you fail one test think of how that can impact your willingness to learn more or different ways in the future!

The Second mindset is the growth mindset.  In this mindset, people believe that they can be and do anything that they want.  It may not be easy.  They may not be able to do it right off the bat.  It may require failing a few times before getting it, but with hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to try new and different ways to achieve their goal they will eventually get it.  I have been working very hard to develop my growth mindset.  

Let me give you an example from my life.  Many years ago, I had a teacher that told me I was not good at math.  I would never be able to be good at math because I just couldn’t get it.  I started to really believe this about myself.  I thought I was dumb.  She was right, I would never get it.  This impacted my career choices.  I had hoped to be an engineer like my grandfather.  If I wasn’t any good at math though, I could never do that.  I believed this until I was an adult.  I did very well in college math classes and could do all the math I needed in real life with no problem, but I still thought of myself as a failure.  When I was hired as a teacher in Millville, I was hired to teach 7th grade math- this was a nightmare for me!  How could I teach kids if I was a failure?!  Fortunately, I was working with an amazing team of math teachers at Lakeside.  They helped me to see that there are many ways to teach concepts and that not every student gets it the first time around.  Through teaching and working hard to ensure that all of my students were given the tools and strategies they needed to be successful in math class, I changed my mindset from fixed to growth.  I watched kids struggle but not give up and cheered with them when they finally got it.  If these kids could try and try and try until they were successful, then so could I.  I decided I would never limit or label myself as one thing again.  Now I look forward to someone telling me I can’t do something so that I can prove them wrong!  I never thought I’d achieve my master’s degree (neither did some other people) but I did.  I never thought I’d be getting certified to be a principal, yet by July I will be.  Next up on my challenge list- earning my doctorate degree.  I’m not a person who is going to be limited by others opinions of myself or limitations I used to believe about myself anymore.  MINDSETS CAN BE CHANGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We will be learning about the mindsets in class this week as we set goals for ourselves for this year.  We will be signing a contract as a class to promise to aim for growth and not become fixed in any one area.  The TEDX video below explains the powerful impact of mindsets on our lives.  It is a little long, but very much worth it!

So, will you join us and grow?

Happy Thanksgiving from Our Class to Yours




Thanksgiving is truly my FAVORITE holiday!  There are not pressures of gift giving or costume creating.  It is a time to celebrate friends, family, food, and gratitude for what we have instead of worrying about what we do not have.  Each year my classes learn about the 1st Thanksgiving thanks to virtual fieldtrips provided by Scholastic.  This experience helps to set the tone for our week of gratitude.  We have spent this short week focusing our efforts inward and learning different ways we can show our gratitude to others.  Some students wrote lists or essays about what and whom they are thankful for.  Others drew pictures or asked to visit old teachers with whom they’ve made lasting connections to show their gratitude.

I have created a video to express my gratitude to the parents of my students.  I am so very grateful for the time I get to spend with your children each day.  I am so honored to be one of the many professionals that has a hand in shaping them into the adults they will become.  I am especially thankful to all of you who came out to conferences this week so that I could meet and discuss your child’s progress with you.  This was a record setting year for me in terms of parental attendance at conferences.  Please take a few minutes to watch the video I created for you, the parents, as a way to express my thanks in entrusting your children to me each day.  It is not an responsibility that I take lightly, and I thoroughly LOVE my job!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Mrs. Sinone and family

Honoring Those Who Have Taught


In honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, I would like to thank those who have impacted my life and taught me the most valuable lessons, both academic and life.  Let me begin with the teachers from the academic realm.

Mr. Kopreski was my senior year AP English teacher.  He taught me the value of the written word and the impact it can have on others.  His encouragement has led to a life long love of literature and writing for which I will be forever grateful.

At the elementary level, I will forever remember Mrs. Allen.  At the end of my 4th grade year she presented each of us with a book.  Mine was The Island of the Blue Dolphins.  It remains to this day one of my favorite stories.  In addition to this gift, she was the one to comfort me and counsel me through my parents divorce.  She did what all good teachers did and taught the whole child and realized that until my soul was patched up, my learning would take a back burner.  She taught me to be a compassionate teacher.

I can not go any further with this post until I mention the most influential teachers in my life- my family.  My mother taught me that real women cry, laugh, hang curtains, hold babies, sing lullabies, hug, and are strong.  I am so lucky to have an independent, beautiful, supportive mother who has picked me up at my lowest and stood by me at my highest.  Beside her was a man who came into our lives and loved us as his own.  He coached us, joked with us, and raised us to be strong minded, hard workers. My Dad and Step-mom have taught me that slowing down and homemade is a wonderful way to go.  Be it through gardening (though I hated picking the veggies as a teenager) or family meals quality time is important.   My siblings each have faced demons and struggles and yet have all shown me what a force grace and determination can be.  The obstacles they have over come be it addiction, challenges in marriages or with children, or physical injuries have shaped them into the people they are today.  I have learned through them that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger more loving people.

My Nanny and Papa have taught me the importance of faith and grace in the belief that God is good and always there for me.  Their love story has spanned more than 60 years, produced 5 children, and dozens of grandchildren and great grandchildren.  I am inspired by every facet of their time together from struggling to raise kids and put my grandfather through college to the daunting and sad effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.  The unwavering faith they have in each other and God is breathtaking.

My husband has given me the gift of love and taught me to trust in others again.  He is nothing short of an savior to me and my 2 little girls.  He has from day one loved us unconditionally.  He has shown me what it is to be loved and cherished and for that I will be eternally grateful.  I am so thankful to have a wonderful partner to spend my days and raise our kids with.

My children have taught me that life gets messy, can’t be planned, is loud, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  My two little girls taught me the meaning of love at first sight.  That truly unconditional love does exist and when it hits you it is awe inspiring.  My three amazing step kids taught me that regardless of how a child becomes yours it creates a powerful connection that can not fully be described.

My best friend Becky, has taught me that some bonds are meant to be regardless of DNA.  She has taught me that true friends don’t care if you are wearing make up or have even showered- when you need a hug you need a hug!  She along with many of the other inspiring “teachers” have seen me at my worst, wiped tears, talked until we were blue, and helped me get back to the best me I can be.  She has counseled me through a divorce and walked me down the aisle at my wedding.  A girl can’t get a better friend than that!

Thank you to all the “teachers” that have helped make me the woman, mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, teacher, person I am today.



Inspirational People Remind Us to Be Kind To All


Our current read aloud novel is a biography of the amazing Helen Keller.  She has inspired so many by overcoming odds stacked steeply against her to not only live life but live life well.  Helen Keller was born “normal.”  She was born a child with perfect vision and hearing.  Very early in life she became ill and a fever caused brain swelling that took away her sense of sight and hearing.  For a long time she was trapped in a dark, scary, tricky world.  Her parents were able to secure a teacher for her, Annie Sullivan, who unlocked the door to Helen’s world and the rest as they say is history.  Her story has so inspired a few of my students that they wrote the rest of my blog entry for me!  Meet our guest bloggers!

Julianna  is very intrigued by Helen Keller’s story and infact has begun reading her own Helen Keller book at home.

I like the book about Helen Keller because I like learning how she learned how to speak.  I like to see how Annie came up with ways to teach Helen.  I have read about 5 books about Helen Keller.  I have always loved learning about how she learned to do everything she could do.


Tykia shares Julianna’s admiration for Helen Keller and composed the following blog entry:

I like Helen Keller because she’s amazing!  She was deaf and blind.  I feel so bad for her.  Then she learned to speak.  Helen Keller is an awesome girl.  She was blind and deaf and couldn’t talk, but then she learned how to talk.  She is amazing!


Angelita agrees with the other ladies that Helen is simply amazing!

I like Helen Keller because she is interesting to me.  Helen amazes me how she learned to speak.  When she speaks it is not clear, but you can understand her.  She uses her hand to feel what the other person is talking about.  She smiles and makes feelings with her face.  Helen is a great and famous person to learn about. 


We watched the following clip today when we reached the part in her biography where she has learned to speak:


We have had many discussions in class about acceptance of others.  One of my cousins posted a link to an amazing video about the power our words have.  Please take a minute to watch it and speak to your kids about acceptance, bullying, and thoughtful words. 


We Have a Dream Too


Today was one of those days that makes me believe I’m doing the right thing with my life and BOY DID I NEED IT!  We are entering the winter doldrums coupled with subfreezing temperatures which can lead to some dicey days in the classroom.  We actually had decent attendance (a minor miracle considering our schools have been hit hard with the flu and nasty norovirus).  Not only did we attend but we came to work! We began our day with listening to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.  I can listen to this every year and never get bored.  He had such a way with words.  When we were done, we composed our own “I Have Dreams Too” paragraph for what we would like to see the world look like for our children and grandchildren.  My class came up with some truly powerful stuff!  Take a peek at our video below:

 That, my friends was not the end of our day!  Due to inclement weather (read freezing and Mrs. Sinone was in no way going to shiver through the rest of the day) we had recess in the classroom and practiced one of our class favorites- yoga!  What a nice way to get healthy and center ourselves before our next activity!


We wrapped up our day getting poetic with similes.  We decided it was time to take down the holiday chains and put our hears on the ceiling- literally!  We created heart mobiles and composed simile valentines for all to see.  In the spirit of figurative language I leave you with a simile that described my feelings for my students at the end of this productive day.  I’m as proud as a peacock of my Room 11 kiddos!

Our Wish For You and Yours


In this era of political correctness and equality, whatever you and your family  choose to celebrate do it filled with joy and love.  For me and my family that will be Christmas and the New Year.  May your season be filled with hope, joy, love, and kindness.  Spread it liberally amongst all you encounter!  Below is a music video from my class to you.  We spent some time reflecting on the song, “Grown Up Christmas Wish,” and wrote our wishes for those we love, those we cherish, and those who maybe could use a little more loving and cherishing in their lives.  Enjoy!


Thank You for Your Generosity and Kindness


My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.  I love that it is a day dedicated to sharing your gratitude for what and who you have in your life.  I am saddened each year that the focus on this day is diminished more and more by that other holiday that follows it about a month later.  While I enjoy the winter holidays too, I love the sincerity and lack of commercialism that Thanksgiving embodies. 

I want to thank the parents and families of my students.  Thank you for sharing your children with me.  Especially this year, I want to express my gratitude for the this class in particular.  I have spent the last year and 3 months working with an amazing group of kids.  Looping with them from 3rd to 4th grade was the best decision I have made professionally.  I have learned so much about myself as a teacher and created such a enriching and close knit classroom family with these kids.  I am truly going to be a wreck at the end of the year when they move on 🙁 . 

We created a movie dedicated to our families and friends to share our gratitude for the love and support you have given us.  The song in the background is Generosity and Kindness by Natalie Merchant.   In doing this we also used American Sign Language.  This is near and dear to our hearts here in room 11.  We love learning to communicate in new ways.  Please watch the video and enjoy.  Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!


Our Afternoon with Taylor Swift and the R.E.D. Campaign


Anxiously Waiting for the Webcast to Start!This afternoon we had an awesome experience!  We participated in  a live web cast with the one and only Taylor Swift! offered an afternoon with Taylor to help launch their R.E.D. campaign which stands for Read Every Day.  Coincidentally, Taylor’s new album is also titled Red. 

Taylor Swift is an avid reader.  As she says, “It’s fun to escape from your life and jump into the lives of different characters.”  Students in the live audiance as well as the students in our class gasped with excitement when she mentioned the titles of her favorite childhood books.  They have something in common with a super star!  Some of her favorites include the Harry Potter series, Charlotte’s Web, and Star Girl (which I can see flying off my bookshelf in the days to come!)  She chooses books based on other people’s recommendations.  Her favorite genre is historical fiction.  She loves to imagine living in another time.   She told the students, ” No matter what you are reading you’re picking up knowledge that is impacting you whether you realize it or not.” 

Ms. Swift has clearly been seen and impact of reading on her life.  She credits reading with helping her to be a better song writer.  She won a national poetry contest in 4th grade and wrote a novel while on vacation when she was 12.  While she admits these were not her best pieces of writing, the encouragement of her parents, friends, and teachers helped her to realize that she had real potential.  She encouraged us to focus on learning and studying as much as possible and to find something that we love.  If we can do that it will help us get through those bad days and tough times in life.  I have to admit I was blown away by how wise this 22 year old is!  She reminded us that we can find beauty and magic everywhere we look if we use our imagination. 

When it comes to writing her music, Taylor says the process changes every time.  Sometimes a lyric or melody will just come to her and she has to whip our her cell phone to record a quick reminder so she won’t forget it.  Many of her songs are about things that have happened to her or her friends.  Some are about movies or books she has read.    For example the song, “Mean” is about an article written about her music.  The critic was mean in his criticism.  When that song became an anthem for anti-bullying she said that was one of the proudest moments in her life.  She says she was lucky to have good, stable influences in her life to keep her on the right track.  Below is a couple of clips from our web cast.


Taylor even sang to us!

We Love you Taylor Swift!!!!!!!

Well needless to say Taylor Swift inspired us not only to read more, but to write more too!  We spent the remainder of the day publishing our first piece for our portfolio, an expository  essay on what it means to be a good citizen.  In addition to typing that and getting it in its best final form, we used Doreen Cronin, author of The Diary of a Fly, as a mentor to help us create our Diary of a Bat book.  A silly take on being a bat infused with actual facts about bats.  Stop by the third floor hall to take a peek at the work of some up and coming authors from RM Bacon Elementary School!


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