Feature Friday: Nadine Ball

Welcome to Feature Friday! Where we showcase a new teacher each week in an interview. For past Feature Friday interviews, go here

Today’s Feature Friday is highlighting Nadine Ball, a second-grade teacher at Ucon Elementary in Ucon, Idaho, which is where I went to elementary school! She has been teaching there for 30 years now. Nadine is mom to Rachel Hassman, our feature Friday interview from last week. Rachel mentioned what an influence her mom has been in choosing a teaching career, so I only found it fitting to interview the legend herself! 

 Mrs. Ball loves second graders for their sense of humor and ability to accept other peers without judgment. She also loves what an innocent view they have of the world. Here’s what Nadine has for us today. 

How do you integrate the arts into your classroom? 

“I admit I was better at this when our district did not hire music teachers. Now we have them and it is awesome. When I was without music teachers, I recruited parent volunteers to come into the classroom and teach music. As far as art itself, I have always encouraged creativity and taught some sort of art lesson weekly. I still do this and it definitely varies each week and is often related to holidays. I rely on what I learned in my art methods class years ago to teach such things as grid, painting, etc.”

If you could recommend one children’s book, what would it be? 

“Wow, to recommend just one childrenś book…I cannot do it!
Maybe to recommend just one author:  Here are three.”

Suzy Kline (Horrible Harry series)
Tomie dePaola
Chris Van Allsburg

What are your best tips to avoid burnout? 

“a. take summer off and relax!
b. hang out and chat often with colleagues; share fears and frustrations
c. try to always appreciate kids and their unique qualities”

What do you wish someone would have told you in your first year of teaching? 

“To just chill out and enjoy each day! Recognize the fact that every day will not be a great one and you always have tomorrow. Kids are resilient and forgiving.”

How has education changed in the years you’ve taught? 

“Education has changed every single year. I would say Math and Reading instruction has seen the most changes, mostly in theories and what works best for kids. When federal money is flowing, math and reading curriculum is updated often and each time something new is adopted, it is slightly different. HOW to teach math and reading is always tweaked, depending on what book on the subjects is popular at the time.”

How do you use student voice in your classroom? 

“Second graders do pretty much what I want them to and I call the shots mostly. I feel that I welcome all types of opinions and allow kids to express themselves freely. We do quite a bit of journal writing, creative writing and research and I think this allows kids to use their own interests. None of my kids participate in student council, where their voice could change the school. But we do have that and as kids get older, their voice maybe means more. I always listen to kids and their ideas!”

What are your favorite units to teach? 

“–solar system
–early US history and native Americans
–careers
–Idaho and state symbols
–rocks/minerals”


It was so fun to be able to interview two generations of second-grade teachers and see the insight they had for us. Enjoy that new grandbaby, Nadine and thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today! 

Tips On Choosing Your College Major

Hey seniors! College is coming, and one of the many decisions you are about to make is what your major will be. It’s daunting to choose a path that can determine the rest of your life. Here’s hoping that after reading this, the decision will be slightly easier for you. Here are some of my favorite tips from myself and other trusted sources on how to choose a college major. 

  1. Know your personality type. I am a big advocate for Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and how it can help you be successful in your life. Knowing this can help you with the direction in your college path and eventually where your career will end up. You can read about it here or take the test to find your personality here. You can even read about your personality type in the workplace and common careers among that MBTI in the description of each type. 
  2. Decide what degree of education you want to obtain. You can stop at an associate’s degree, or continue on to a doctorate. How far you take your education can help you decide which major to choose. 
  3. Don’t stress over choosing one right away. Some people know what they want their major to be by 8th grade. Others it takes until their Sophomore or Junior year of college before they know. It’s all in your own timing. Take a variety of classes if you don’t know right away. Most importantly, remember that this is the time in your life where not having a direct plan or having an opportunity to explore is okay and even encouraged. Take advantage of that! 
  4. Truly consider your school choice when choosing a college major. Schools are known for and will put more funding into certain majors that they are known well for. 
  5. Know that it’s okay to change your mind. On average, the majority of college students will change their major at least once before graduation. 

What helped you choose your major in college? 

Look For The Rainbows: The Positives Of COVID-19

We are roughly two weeks into COVID-19 shutdowns, how is everyone doing? Have we settled in and found our new “normal” yet? Here in Utah, schools are closed until May and we aren’t even into April yet! It’s heartbreaking to see teachers and students everywhere long to be back in their classrooms. 

Watching the news is crazy and full of negatives. During this time, let’s focus on the positives. Here are a few I’ve witnessed here in my community. 

Teachers parading the streets their students to honk, wave, and say hi to them from a distance. 

Students standing out in the rain and snow just to watch their teacher’s drive by. 

Rainbows posted in windows throughout the neighborhood to remind us that after every storm, there will always be a rainbow and that it will be okay. 

#chalkthewalk around my neighborhood

Copious amounts of incredible people on social media doing various things to keep our kids occupied and learning during this uncertain time. Storytimes, zoo tours, drawing lessons, free resources, and more. 

#chalkthewalk around my neighborhood

Sidewalks chalked with uplifting, happy messages. 

Teachers posting about how sad they are that they cannot be with their students right now, even though it may be spring break for some. 

Virtual scavenger hunts. 

More reading, more loving, and more time to slow down. 

Right now, things are uncertain and difficult. It’s hard not to be with friends, it’s hard to be walking through the uncertainty each day brings, and it’s hard to navigate our own emotions while keeping up with our kids’ emotions as well. But we can do this. Look for the helpers, focus on the good, keep a positive attitude, and remember that rainbows always come after the storm. 

We can do this. 

My Favorite Positive Reinforcement Strategies In The Classroom

You can read countless research studies on a positive environment and how using these positive reinforcement strategies can help you see better behavior in kids, spouses, pets, co-workers and more. When it comes down to it, those who are properly praised for a task will statistically try harder and do better the next time it is expected of them. 

Creating a positive classroom culture starts with a simple positive comment toward your students. Here are a few of my favorite positive reinforcement ideas I came up with while teaching. 

A cheerio or other cereal placed on the desks of students who are following directions. 

Tally points on the board for groups that were working together or following directions, that ended up amounting to no reward other than “winning” against other groups. 

Little stickers for students showing correct behaviors. 

High-fives to those following directions. Oprah style worked best for us- “Johnny gets a high-five, Amelia gets a high-five, Andrew gets a high-five! Awesome job on following directions!” It’s amazing what kids will do for a simple high-five and a little public praise. 

Simple and subtle compliments to students working hard. 

We put a money economy system in place with coins. It’s fun to see the hard work first graders will put into cleaning up the floor at the end of the day when a plastic nickel is on the line. 

My favorite way by far was telling the class every single day what an amazing group of students they are. They become what you tell them they are- So tell them they are great and eventually they are going to believe you. I have more thoughts on this later, stayed tuned for another blog post regarding this. 

Praising positive behaviors yields productive results. It has been researched, it’s science. And on top of that, I’ve witnessed first-hand how well it works, not only with my students, but my children, and even, MY DOG. 

How have you made your classroom a positive place? 

My Best Field Trip Tips

Field trips season is coming this spring! Nothing causes kids more excitement and teachers more anxiety than a day outside of school in unfamiliar territory. Field trips can be so nerve-wracking because it takes planning, permission slips, parent volunteer sign-ups, and more. 

I spent two months in a 4th-grade classroom during my time student teaching, and during that time we as a 4th-grade team went on SIX different field trips! In my next block of student teaching, I was in a 2nd-grade classroom where we went on two field trips in two months. In my first long-term substitute teaching job after graduation, the first-grade team I was working with brought the kids on a field trip to the aquarium. All within the same school year, I was able to experience TEN field trips. 

Ten field trips in nine months with three different age groups gave me a lot of experience that I am here to share with you now! 

  • Prep the students beforehand- Don’t leave them with uncertainty, walk them through what will happen, how it will happen, and how you expect it to happen. Tell them how to enter the bus, how to sit on the bus, how to handle lunchtime, how to find you if they need you, and more. Set CLEAR expectations and repeat them again and again. 
Exploring and learning about The Great Salt Lake by getting into it!
  • Give your students examples and stories of why your expectations are set the way they are. The first field trip I went on with my 4th-grade class, their teacher told them a story of how she lost a student on a field trip because the student wasn’t following instructions and she wasn’t paying close enough attention. She made them a promise that she would pay extra attention to every single one of them and do her part if they did their part by adhering to expectations. Adding a personal experience helped those students realize just how important paying attention and following procedures really was. 
  • Count your students. Then Count again. And again. Always be counting the students.
  • Use the buddy system. It is used often and is somewhat obvious for teachers, and for good reason, it works! 
Writing in their field trip journals
  • Have your students keep a field trip journal to record their learning. Give them prompts during breaks to write about what they are seeing, learning, and doing.
  • Parents. You most likely have at least one parent in your classroom that is willing to step up and to help you with what you need. Utilize these parents as chaperones, organizers, and more! Use them as often as possible. 
  • Take pictures. If possible, take pictures of your students for parents to see and to show your students later as well. These memories are priceless and everyone will appreciate them later. 
  • HAVE FUN. There is no lie a certain level of stress accompanies any given field trip. But when it comes down to it, you’ve done the planning, you’ve prepped the kids, and now it’s time to enjoy the field trip and watch the students learn and grow in a new environment. 
Handcarts and pioneers are a deep part of Utah’s state history. Field trip at the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville, Utah.
Touring Utah State University’s campus

Field trips can be incredibly rewarding if they are done correctly. Students can learn and grow outside of the classroom and it can give them the hands-on experience they need to understand how the world works around them. Gone are the days of passive learning where we sit in desks and copy notes. Now is the time for active learning and putting understanding into the hands of the students. 

What are your best field trip tips that you would add to this list? 

The Importance Of Students Having A Global Perspective

We have our neighborhoods and communities that kids are aware of. 

We have schools that they know very well. 

The towns they grow up in are a part of them. 

Sometimes even the cities neighboring can be important in their lives as well. 

And of course, our own state has an impact on them. 

But what about moving beyond our states? Or even our nation? What is the importance of giving kids a global perspective? 

Teaching students about global affairs in an authentic way can teach them acceptance and understanding of cultures and others. It can allow them to feel more empathy as they learn more about the various types of living styles. It can open their eyes to see that their lifestyle isn’t how someone else lives. 

They might even have the chance to say, “Hey! This kid is just like me.” 

Having a mindset that our world goes beyond the walls of our schools or the lines of our states gives us millions of minds to collaborate with and help with finding solutions. We can start asking the important questions like, “Why is Singapore’s math curriculum working so well and how can we use it too?” 

There is a better chance they will end up in global careers by learning about them now. 

Students won’t just know about the Great Wall of China, they will understand the history and importance of it, as well as the impacts it has on China’s residents today. 

So start introducing other cultures in your classroom. Give your students the opportunity to interact and collaborate with other students across the globe, through email, skype, or social media. Break down the four walls of your school and the limits of your cities to show our future leaders what a global perspective looks like. 

Featured Image: Pexels.com

A Little Math, A Little Art, A Lot Of Fun

When math overrides the majority of the time throughout the day, how do we incorporate the arts? We make art mathematical! Here is a fun activity to learn about the color wheel, as well as apply fraction skills in the process of creating the color wheel. 

You’ll need a print out of a blank or semi-filled in color wheel, and modeling clay.

I used Crayola Model Magic clay for this activity. It’s soft, squishy, and will change colors when mixed! Normal clay can work just fine too. You can either let it dry and let them glue it to the page when it’s finished, or toss it back all together and store it in an airtight container for future use. 

Start with three equal pieces of clay in red, yellow, and blue. 

Leave a small reference piece behind, then with remaining clay, split into two equal pieces, creating two halves.  

Mix the colors! Write out the fractions on the paper as well. 

Orange= ½ R ½ Y 

Purple= ½ B ½ R 

Green ½ Y ½ B 

For a shorter activity, find a smaller color wheel cut into sixths and stop here. For a longer activity, continue on. For the sake of a shorter blog post, I will only model one part of the next step.

On the blue and green side- split the blue and green pieces in ½. (For reference, I pulled a new piece of blue clay for this.)

Mix the blue and green pieces to make green-blue. Green-blue is equal to ½ G, ½ B. Or it is also equal to ¼ Y ¾ B. 

The other half of the green that was split before will be used to mix with a half piece of the yellow. 

Continue the same with yellow-green, red-orange, etc. 

Common core standards: 
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.NF.A.3
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.NF.A.2

featured image: hosmerart.blogspot.com