Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Instead of cutting and laminating, I wound up on Pinterest tonight and was inspired to create a quick little freebie!  This is an activity sheet that I will be using in the first few days to see if the Kinders can distinguish their 'b' and 'd' letters.  :)  I used my school colors but I was thinking of which color words would be easier to view for a speedy assessment.   Enjoy!
Grab your Freebie here!

~Jill Cruz

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Data Notebooks: The Whole Story

Last year before I knew I was being moved to kindergarten I was working with my 1st grade team like crazy creating, innovating, fretting, worrying, over-achieving, and get the idea.  All of this nutty behavior was coming in on the heels of the new evaluation systems and the Common Core Standards.  Looooong story short, we developed a rubric to match all of the math standards for 1st grade.  We were feeling good! 

Then the call came and even looooonger story short, I was moved to Kindergarten 2 days before school. All of my Pinterest work and first grade curriculum development was for not, or at least, not for me.  But I was eager to tackle the new adventure in my life.  I shared with the K-teachers what the 1st grade teachers were up to and they were excited.   They said they wanted that, too, but with the Reading/Writing standards as well. 

So I started working on the Kindergarten version.  I tried a few different design templates, and we utilized what we had.  When the year was over, I reflected on this tool and I just knew I could make it better-more teacher friendly at the very least.  So this was the end product!  I am happy to say that it caught on like wild fire and the rest of the district wanted it, too.  This summer I created the k-5 Data Notebooks for my district and put them on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  While presenting at the administrative retreat, the middle school contracted me out to make theirs.  I am super excited, a bit overwhelmed, and just eager to do what God has put in front of me (all the while preparing for the new school year-oh, and I moved classrooms again..5 times in 6 years-but I'm not counting

This is a customized grade book for the New Indiana Academic Standards College and Career with a rubric to match each of the standards.  I have it sectioned out by quarters.  Enjoy and give me feedback.

If you want one or would like to view a preview of the Data Notebook, click here.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


I just completed my first year as a kindergarten teacher.  I thought 1st grade was testing my limits, but God knows better than I and kindergarten is my love.  The year brought many ups and some downs. Thankfully I embraced the "ignorance is bliss" attitude and survived the potty accidents, meetings, pd, teacher training, curriculum mapping, planning, data collecting, book ordering, tears (both from student and teacher LOL), field trips, special days (and let me tell you, EVERY day is a special day in kindergarten *sarcasm intended*), graduation, painting, reading, writing, new technology, and the list goes on!

All in all, the craziest year and best!  I was honored as the Outstanding Teacher of the Year with a dear friend a colleague across the hall in a tie. And while I'm beyond thankful, the best part of my move was now I'm in the same building as my best friend in the whole wide world and a new and very dear friend came into my life. (The beautiful gal concentrating behind my daughter.)This has been the best year yet and I'll be ready to do it all again after summer!  Teacher peeps, you know what I'm say'in!

My sister in Christ and BFF in the whole world!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Have to Laugh...

I have to laugh because I naively thought that I would have time to write on my blog, but the start of this year has been insane!  I love my new position of being a Kindergarten teacher, but I am overwhelmed with learning the Journys reading curriculum, preparing for observations using the Marzano model, organizing my room and materials, and on and on and on.  I know that it is not anymore than the average teacher, but seriously, how do we do this?!?

So, here is what I have been up to with my new 29 little Kinders:

  • Apple field trip
  • Daily 5 Launch
  • Lucky lessons with Lucky the dog
  • Procedures, procedures, procedures
  • Phonics/word work
  • HeidiSongs
  • iPads
  • NWEA standardized testing
  • Apple day with parent volunteers
  • And I ran a HALF MARATHON!!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Huge Change

This week I had huge changes! I went from teaching 1st grade to NOW teaching Kindergarten.  I have so much to post, but that will happen when my head stops spinning!!  LOL!  I must say, I am very excited for this new adventure and I can't believe how much kindness and support has been shown to me over the last 3 days!!!  Stay tuned....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Common Core Posters for Math

Wow!  Many teachers in my district just finished up an intense power collaboration session to help with all of the new expectations coming in the fall.  The biggest one that we are all concerned with is the evaluation process and collecting student data.  Displaying student growth and tracking is huge, too.  Our teachers developed some rubrics and data books.  It all got my brain and creative juices flowing and I came up with these posters for each Common Core Math Standard for 1st grade.  Click here or on the picture to visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  :)   

I hope you like them and that you can find them useful in your classroom.  I'll be using this bad boys to shine up on my projector as we work through their data folders. 

Here is the freebie student data book that our team developed.  I got the go ahead to share this freebie.  :)

Click on the picture or here.  Don't forget to grab the cover!  Click here for the super fun cover.  :)

And now it is seriously time for some non-school related time.  :) 


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lessons Learned

Apparently I am getting to my little blog once a month...I have a feeling that I will be able to keep up with it better now that all of my stress is gone for the year. ;)  Right teachers?!  All I've been doing is sitting in the sun eating bon bons since my year ended.  Ummmmm, no.  While I have been in the sun a little, long enough to get a terrible uneven burn on my legs and one, yes one, arm, I have also been Pinterest'ing and "shopping" up a storm.  I am eager to start another year after this summer of projects and professional development workshops. 

This year I have learned so much, mostly about myself.  I could probably write a self help book.  I have been coaching myself and encouraging myself after some pretty heavy blows.  As curious as you all must be, I cannot disclose all that much simply because I want to remain in my family, workplace, church, and circle of friends.  So, with that said, I will tell you what I have learned (which is probably what every person learns, but we don't have Oprah to tell us these precious little nuggets  anymore so we must figure them out for ourselves-thanks Oprah, ugh!)  Here goes:
  • If you enjoy doing something and it isn't hurting others, then do it.  Especially if it is what God has gifted you to do.
  • When others are pointing out your flaws then they are intimidated by your success
  • Humble yourself at every opportunity and take credit for nothing, instead give it back to Pinterest, which is clearly where ALL ideas come from
  • SMILE every day as often as possible
  • Make learning fun.  Honestly, this is first grade in America-do a craft in every unit because these are 6 year olds and they need to be able to be 6!
  • Laugh with your students
  • Let your students see you upset, life is hard and if they see you process through and still come out smiling later in the day/week/year then that is healthy
  • Enjoy being you, God loves you so why can't you love you?!  Get a grip.
  • Sing because it is fun
  • Dance and be silly
  • Get organized at home and at school
  • Let the parents of your students help, they want to and you need as much help as you can get
  • Spend time with the Father and pray for your students & co-workers
  • It's OK to overdo things as long as you don't go crazy, and if you do then there are pills to help you out
  • Get a pedicure
  • Exercise then go order Dairy Queen, you deserve it.
  • Listen to your music loudly in your classroom: hip hop, worship, Adele, Bruno Mars, Jesus Culture, and the Civil Wars to name a few
  • DRINK Coffee a lot
I ended this year with a lot of emotions.  I decided to fill my life with positive influences and let go of the drama.  I learned to put up boundaries and not be so transparent.  This summer while I am looking for new ideas and "creating" some fun lessons with our new reading curriculum, I will be also working on ME so that I can be the best teacher for my precious little Firsties to be.  :o)

(Some AWESOME teachers with me in the middle wearing the ear wrap)