Cultivating Minds Without Losing My Own

Join me on my Adventures in Elementary Education

Easing Test Anxiety- Tips to Help Your Child Feel Prepared and Stress Free on Test Days


It’s that time of year again- NJASK time.  We will be testing from Monday, May 12th to Friday, May 16th.  The first two days will be focused on Language Arts, the second two days on Math, and the final day on Science.  While this one week out of the entire year really shouldn’t get the fanfare that it does as it is only one of MANY ways students are assessed each year, it still manages to cause unnecessary stress and anxiety for many (teachers too!).  There are many things you can do at home to help prepare your child for the test each day.  Below are a few easy tips to help make next week less stressful!

Tip #1- Get a Good Night’s Sleep!

good sleep


As if testing and sitting still for the morning isn’t hard enough, imagine doing that while tired!  Try to get between 7-8 hours of sleep the night before the test.  Wake up on time so that you don’t feel rushed or panicked as you start your day.

Tip #2- Eat a Healthy Breakfast!

healthy breakfast

Try to avoid sugary cereals or treats in the morning.  The sugar may give you energy initially, but it will cause you to tire out quickly!  Also, try not to eat too large of a breakfast if you are not used to that.  We don’t want to have to worry about a sore stomach while we are giving our brain a workout!

Tip #3- Wear Comfortable Clothes!

comfy clothes

Make sure you keep an eye on the weather report and dress appropriately.  You don’t want to be too hot or too cold.  You can bring a lightweight hoodie to wear if you think you will be chilly, but you will not be permitted to wear heavy coats.  Also, remember you will be sitting for the majority of the morning.  Wear clothes that will be comfortable around the waist.  I suggest sweats or elastic waist bottoms and loose, comfortable fitting tops.

Tip #4- Don’t Spend Too Much Time on Any One Problem

time management

Pace yourself!  If you begin to get frustrated with a question, skip it and come back to it if time allows.

Tip #5- Use ALL of the Time Given!

keep writing

Remember if you finish early to go back and check your work.  Did you use the Writer’s Checklist?  Did you answer every question?  Did you record your answers in the correct spot?  Can you add anything to your written responses or open ended questions?


try your best

Remember this is just one test!  You’ve learned everything you need to complete this throughout the year.  Your teachers are rooting for you!  WE KNOW YOU CAN DO THIS!

As parents we often feel helpless during test week.  Please keep a positive attitude and encourage your child to try their best as that’s all they can do!  Also, when your child comes home,  if the weather  and your schedule allow, please give them some down time to decompress!  Let them play!  I will not be assigning homework at all next week as we are working super hard all day.  We will be working a fun science activity in the afternoons- dissecting owl pellets!  If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your child’s teacher!


Virtual Field Trip to the Plimoth Plantation to Attend the First Thanksgiving


This week we will be taking a trip way back in time to the first Thanksgiving. Ok, I did not develop a time machine (though that would be AMAZING and I would so take a year off to re-examine life choices and visit places I’ve read about ), rather we will be using the amazing site put together by one of my favorite publishers, Scholastic. We will be visiting the settlers and the Wampanoag Native American tribe to learn about life for children at the beginning of our country’s exisistance. Students will be using the information they gather to write their next full length writing piece comparing and contrasting Thanksgiving now with the First Thanksgiving.

Take a peek at the website we will be using curtesy of

Thanksgiving Historical Investigation

In addition to this investigation we will be wrapping up out math topic 10 with a quiz on Tuesday.
Also a reminder that our Attitude of Gratitude journals are due on Wednesday for a Social Studies test grade!


Happy First Day of Fall! Weekly Learning Goals for 9/23-9/27


fallHappy Fall!  I love this time of year!  Cooler temperatures, back to routines, leaves changing colors, and of course a reason to buy new boots are some of the reasons this is one of my favorite times of the year!  We are continuting on our journey through 4th grade this week.  We will be hosting the Basic Skills Teachers on Tuesday as they conduct Sweeps testing.  This testing is one of the criteria we use to identify and create plans for students who may be struggling in either math or language arts.  We will also be wrapping up our 2nd math unit this week.  Please take a few minutes to take a peek at our learning goals for this week and the attached videos/presentations to help your child prepare for class.  You may also access any of the videos used on this site in the archives to the right.


Monday and Tuesday- Students will be using place value skills to order and compare numbers.  Lesson 3-4 and 3-5

Wednesday- Students will be using organized lists to help them keep track of information as they solve problems. Lesson 3-6

Thursday- Topic 3 Test

Friday- Students will be using mental math strategies to help them solve addition and subtraction problems.  Lesson 4-1 and 4-2

Lanugage Arts:

We will be working on putting the events of a story in the correct sequence this week.  In addition to that goal we will be working on writing our autobiographies (thanks for helping your child fill out the packet and returning it!).  As a way to make our writing better we will be working on adding figurative language .  Our goal is to include similies and metaphors to make our writing pop.


I Want to Hear You ROAR This Year!


Each year I choose a theme song for our class to help guide us and motivate us on our educational journey.  This year for the Class of 2022 I have chosen Katy Perry’s new song “Roar.”  I chose this song for a couple of reasons.  It is extremely motivational!  Nothing will keep us down!  We can do anything!  No matter how small or insignificant we feel, we have the power to prove our ability and let others know we are here.  We can ROAR!  Ok, it also has a great beat and I can’t help but sing at the top of my lungs and dance every time I hear it!  So to my new 4th graders, the future Class of 2022, I ask- are you ready to ROAR this year?

R- Really work hard, try our best, ask questions, challenge ourselves

O- Our best effort will shine through each day!

A- Always learn!  Everyday!

R- Remember I am here for you!  Remember we are here for each other!


Welcome to the 4th Grade Class of 2013-2014!


Summer is ending (BOOOOOOOO!) but a wonderful new school year is almost here!  I am so excited to be teaching 4th grade again this year!  We have so many awesome adventures ahead of us!  Sophie the Hedgehog and I would like to welcome the class of 2013-2014 to room 11:

Calem Bowman

Rachel Brisbone

Rashem Bryant

Tanaiya Cephas

Janisa Clark

Kavasia Coles

Gage Culp

Benjamin Davis

Mark Green

Niyasia Jenkins

Micah Love

Alayjiah Medina

Alzavier Ortiz

Mackenzie Parsons

Ashley Spinney

Cindia Torres-Rosado

2013-2014 Supply List

2 Marble Composition Notebooks (1 for math and 1 for Language Arts)

5 pocket folders with prongs (1 for each subject)

1 box of pencils

1 box of thin markers, crayons, or colored pencils 

5 one subject notebooks (1 for each subject for classwork)

a family photo (because we are ALL family 🙂

We can’t wait to meet all of you and begin learning together!  We have a new reading series this year and a TON of new apps on our ipads to work with!  I hope you are ready to jump into learning- it’s going to be a WILD ride!


To The Class of 2021


To the Class of 2021,

You will forever be in my memories as my looped group.  When we first met in September of your third grade year, I knew you would be a group I’d never forget.  I was right, I will never forget you nor would I want to, but not for the reasons I originally thought.  I originally thought I would never forget the challenges we experienced in those first few weeks of getting to know each other.  You see, I had been out of the classroom for a year and you guys seemed to like to test me as I got my feet wet again in the teaching game.  Prior to teaching you, I had been serving as the Literacy Coach for our school.  I had never taught 3rd grade.  This was surely going to be a test.

As the year went one, we continued to challenge and push each other to be our best.  You all challenged me to research new ways of teaching and I challenged you to work harder then you thought you could.  I am so thankful that you pushed me to research, study, get creative, and work hard.  It is being with this class that reminded me I LOVE TEACHING!  Watching the successes you’ve all made has made my heart sing.  You have all come so far- and it’s just the beginning!

At the end of that first year, Dr. Cook told me that he needed me to teach fourth grade the following year.  There were too many third graders to fit in 2 classrooms.  He thought I would be upset and not want to try something different AGAIN, but he was wrong.  I said, “sure, but I want my kids again.”  At this point Dr. Cook and many others thought I was crazy.  We had a great, educational, wonderful, challenging, and at times rough year.  Didn’t I want to start fresh with new kids?  NO!  And I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Starting this year, our second school year together, I knew I had to come up with some new tricks to keep things fresh and keep you from getting bored with me.  I found the Daily 5 which allowed us to move around more and get our hands on material rather than listen to me teach at you all day.  I found new technology to work with- Kidblog, edmodo, ipads, and SumDog to name a few.  We experimented, we researched, we wrote, we read, and we learned again together.  You have never ceased challenging me to work harder and I hope I returned the favor.

I am so proud of each and every one of you.  Our school motto is “Then, Now, Always Family” and our classroom has truly become like a family.  We have days when we annoy each other, days we love each other, days we joke, days we share sadness, and many, many days we laugh with each other.   I will miss each and everyone of you!  Yes, even those of you who were experts at pushing my buttons at times!  I have prepared a video surprise for you and your parents to enjoy as our time together ends.  I want you to know that I will be in the stands as you walk across that stage at graduation in June of 2021 cheering as each of your names are called.  I will probably shed tears as you leave tomorrow partially out of sadness to see you leave and partially out of awe and amazement for the people you have become in the last two years.  Keep moving, keep challenging yourselves, keep learning and you will truly be standing in the hall of fame.

With my love,

Carrie Sinone

Tech Us Out!


imageTonight was our annual Tech Showcase.  It is an evening dedicated to showing how 21st technology tools are integrated into our classrooms.  Teachers and students demonstrate and teach others, both adult and students, how to use tools and sites that we use in our rooms.  Four of my students volunteered their time and gave absolutely amazing presentations!  They spoke about how we use the classroom social media site, edmodo, in our class.  They discussed digital safety, collaboration with other classes around the world, and the importance of digital citizenship.  I am so proud of them!  They came up with their own presentations, answered questions, and spoke eloquently to many visitors!  These kids are tech superstars!


Olympic Day……FINALLY!


odWe finally participated in Olympic Day today!  No rain to ruin our day!  For those of you not familiar with our small town, we are insanely competetive and sports oriented.  Our high school football team has a rivalry with the next town over that is documented to be over 100 years old!  We love to play hard!  While we are competetive, today was all about fun!  Olympic Day is a tradition in which all of our towns 6 elementary schools students’ in grades 4-5 march in a parade through town and then compete in a series of track and field events.  I remember doing this when I was in school and how special the whole day made each kid feel. 

So, today was our day!  We had a blast in the out of nowhere heat that hit us.  Sunscreen was sprayed, shouts were heard for blocks, and fun was had by all!


Moving into May!


They say, “April showers bring May flowers.”  Well, on this dreary Monday morning I can only hope that these final damp days of April will help to produce beautiful buds by the end of the week!  While last week was very busy and activity packed, this week will be a week of preparation for the NJASK, wrapping up novels, and prepping our room for test week.  Here are our objectives for this week and how you can help support learning at home:

Reading:  This week we are working with identifying important information in non fiction texts, relating events to each other, and identifying text structure.  Each night your child will have a recap of the lesson as well as a test prep worksheet to complete.

Grammar:  We are working on editing sentences for capitalization, commas, and apostrophes.

 Vocabulary:  This week we are working on using figuartive language phrases correctly. 

Math:  We will be wrapping up decimals on Tuesday with a test on Wednesday.  After that we will be reviewing Geometry which is very vocabulary based instead of computation based.

Science:  We are continuing work with our Body Encyclopedia in class.  \

Today I Felt I Mattered


Let’s be honest, shall we?  Teachers often perform a thankless job.  Don’t get me wrong a good teacher is beloved by his or her students for that year they are in the classroom, but often a year or two down the road referred to as Mr. or Mrs. So-and-so.  We as teachers understand this is the natural progression of things and to a point encourage it.  Change is natural and affections and connections alter as we grow.  Still, we are often left years down the road looking at our collection of yearbooks and class photos of classes gone by wondering where are they?  Did they turn out ok?  Did they ever get the times tables mastered?! 

It is truely frustrating if you think about it too long.  Often teachers are belittled or down-rigth trashed by politicians and tax payers for our long summers off and easy schedules…..hahahahaha!  Meanwhile everyone relies on teachers.  There is not a profession out there that does not obtain its foundations through education.  Some countries would literally die for our educational opportunities.  Let me tell you how I spend my many hours “off.”  I research, create, try out, and use my own kids as guinea pigs for future lessons.  I shop for snacks, supplies, sometimes even clothing for my students who need a little extra help (and yes this comes from my meager pay).  I attend seminars.  I give seminars.  I write curriculum.  I blog.  I create websites for my class.  Often times I work harder at home wracking my brain to find better ways to do things and reach my students during my work day than I do actually implementing the lessons during class time.  I spend hours reading the 5 novels that my literature circles are all reading to keep up and stay ahead of them so as to ask the meaningful questions.  My own kids often as when I will be done and able to play or read on weekends with them. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I am NOT COMPLAINING!  This is more than a job for me.  This is a calling.  I could not imagine doing anything else.  But still at times you wonder, does it matter?  I’m forgotten a year or two down the road.  Does it stick?  Did I help?

Today, I was reminded I do matter.  I had an experience I wish every educator could have.  One of my first ever 4th graders, now junior in high school, came in to teach my class a lesson about how laws are created.  I had no clue she would be one of the students teaching when I agreed to this co-teaching experience.  What a wonderful surprise. 

Let me tell you about Kwanaya as I first remember her.  She was a beautiful little girl who had quite a big personality.  More often than not that personality landed her in some tight situations.  She struggled a bit academically, but you could tell she had a lot to offer.  We did not hit it off the first half of that year.  And then we had THE TALK.  You know the talk you have with one of your students where you are basically letting them “get the mama treatment.”  You talk to them straight, no holding back and make the options VERY clear.  That talked changed our relationship.  I told her, “show me you want this and are willing to try, and I will back you one hundred percent.”  Well that year ended very well for her.  She left me for 5th grade in a better place academically.  I cried. 

A few years later, I had the opportunity to spend a year at the middle school.  The first day students arrived I found myself almost pounded into the lockers by this beautiful young woman who tackled me with a bear hug.  My Kwanaya had grown up.  She was now an A and B student and a proud member of our AVID class.  I cried again that night so happy for her and all she had achieved.  I also cried because she made me feel that I mattered that day too.  That I had somehow contributed to all the great things she was doing.

Today, as I right this, I cry again.  Such happy, happy tears!  I am so proud of the young woman she has become.  She was able to work well with my class and really teach them something.  She is eloquent and sophisticated.  She is gracious and patient.  She remembered me again and let me know that the things we do as teachers are not for naught.  They matter.  Today has been one of my proudest moments in this profession.  To see one of “my kids” come back and have made so many good choices and worked so hard and have such wonderful plans and goal for her future makes my heart sing. 

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