Teach Addition and Subtraction- Reading Stories!

Reading can promote learning in all content areas. Teaching in predominately ESOL classroom, I love to include stories while I teach math. Parents can also purchase books connected with math. Math can be tricky to teach as well as for students to connect to math. If students are naturally good in math, they love it! If students feel nervous or do not do as well in math, they generally do not like math class. I try to incorporate as many other skills in math class so students can engage through their strengths.

In a general math lesson, I like to read a story every week to demonstrate what topic we are learning. There is a book for everything! Sometimes, I show videos of someone else reading it. I find videos like this on YouTube all the time. Crazy, huh! Next, I show examples for 5-10 minutes. The following 10-15 minutes, I have students give directions to other students or they work in partners and read the steps we created together as a class. Lastly, I give a 5-10 minute activity of independent work. Students love to engage others. Many students in my class express they begin to like math class. I teach 3rd grade. This scares me that students already associate math with fear and anxiety.

My top 5 reasons to include reading in math

1. Students love getting read to. I know even in high school, I enjoyed getting read to in classes. It’s strange and its weird but I think it reminds children or students when their parents read to them at night. Students associate read aloud to love and caring.
2. The students can understand the “why,” in math. Common Core wants students to understand the “why” and be able to express “the why” through oral and written formats. While I teach math, I constantly have students tell me “why” they added or “why” the borrowed in subtraction. Consistently giving them ways to hear and express the “why” is important.
3. Using different ways of teaching is beneficial. Some students have math anxiety. Reading a story might calm nerves and these students who do better with language skills. Teaching through their strengths might allow students to relate to math.
4. Add these books to a small library dedicated to math concepts that students can read during reading time. This promotes math concepts during reading lessons and reading skills during math lessons. Cross-curricular and making connections between subject promote and prove to show more learning. Students begin to have more long term memory about the different topics.
5. Connect writing or oral stories in the classroom. Books can encourage and be a support to help with word problems. Many books about mathematical concepts use similar language to questions in word problems. Also, word problems become less scary because they have already included reading comprehension in their math lessons.

Books for addition and subtraction

The first two books are the puppy series. Here are reviews about these series. Reading through this blog, I found so many positive reviews! They are great for younger students. Suggestions would be KG-2 grade.

The Number Tales series recieved mostly 5 stars on Amazon. From reviews, many parents who read to younger kids (3-5) found them less engaging. I reccommend these books for 1-3 grade.

If you are looking to get a set. Amazon has a set of 5 books, including the two I have here.

Only two reviews on Amazon, but both gave the next book 5 stars! I know I enjoy reading this book. This can be read to younger children still. I recommended KG-2.

The next two books are great for older students. Recommendation is 2-5 grade. Frankie Pickle is a collection of comic strip stories relating to math concepts! Engaging! No reviews were less than 3 stars on Amazon! Multiplying Meanace really engages older students in multiplication facts but students can relate through repeated addition. I love reading this story to my students.

Amazon might provide better deals, so check their prices at first!

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Why Is Saying Goodbye Hard?- Last Days of Venezuela

Goodbye Friends.

Hope to see you soon. It was a pleasure to work with you. We won’t say goodbye but see you later. This is truly the hardest part at the end of a school year.  It is the time of the year where you know you may never see this person again. You hope you do and some friendships can last through social media and WhatsApp. Maybe a few relationships will continue through Skype. You could also be lucky enough to work with another international teacher in another country in the future. Maybe you will both travel to the same country? But the realization that the last days at a school still hurt each time and it does not get easier every time. It gets harder because the hope you have that all the beautiful friends you met here may never talk to you again. It is hard realization.


Tips for this hard moment

  1. Find a way to keep in contact. Both parties should agree if keeping in contact is through Facebook. Maybe, you decide you will skype occasionally? Like family members back home, make time for those who are truly special to you. Exchange contact information or update your contact information as you change countries. I find comfort in knowing I can speak to the amazing friendships I made in Kuwait and China. So, knowing that I have lifelines in Venezuela feels good. I make it a goal to send a message to my close friends bi-monthly. Yes, sometimes I miss a month. But I want them to know I am thinking about them. I also want to keep up with their lives. Although we do not live in the same country, I want to know all the new adventures they are going on. Even if their adventure is binging on Netflix! I binge on that too!
  2. If you can or have the ability to plan a face-to-face visit, do it! I met my best friend in China. I have seen her every other summer since we met in China. Or is it every summer? Either way, both parties tried to make sure we see each other for at least a few days. It does feel like you start from where you left off. You laugh at the moments you experience together. But you also celebrate how different your lives are now. I know my BFF is a mommy of twins. She moved to a new state and recently went back to school to further her degree. I am traveling the world still and did end up meeting the man I will marry. Both of our lives took a great and unique direction. The most important aspect is we celebrate each other for what they are doing now! She also has never made me feel guilty for my choice to work abroad. It is sometimes the easiest to talk with her because I am not expected to fit her mold of a successful life.
  3. The hardest part for me is comparing new friends and colleagues to previous friends and colleagues. Everyone is different. All the friendships that you form will be different. One close friend, I only speak to twice a year, but that is A LOT! While others I message virtually monthly. I also compare how the friendships turn out. I remember thinking in Kuwait. “Wow, I like working with non-teachers. They are easier to get along with.” I move to Venezuela. “Wow, I like working in a larger school. There is more opportunity for friendship.” But, China was only 8 foreign hires in the city! I find myself also looking at the greener grass instead of celebrating and appreciating the green grass I have in my life. I am sure in Mongolia, I will wish I have a Mongolian mommy who loved me like one of her daughters.


Stay Positive

While everyone cries the last day, stay as positive as you can! Make sure you give and show the love to the people who matter to you in the school year. Make sure they know how much you love them. This can be gifts. But this can also be just your warm presence.


Remember and talk about all the fun times! Remember and thank them for all the times they stuck by you and helped through that difficult time. Remember that they were an intricate part of your life and it is your decision to decide if they stay that way. Obviously, it is extremely difficult to talk to all the staff you worked with. However, I do find that I have a close relationship with 2-3 people a year.


I found myself done this over the past few years is pull away. I think this is a protection strategy. I know I will cry but I do not want to cry in front of people. It is a fear, but I always find I cry in front of people once during the year. I cried yesterday, so maybe I can stay strong until I get home. Peter get those tissues ready!


Letter to My Venezuelan Momma

Dear Daniela,

Since last year, maybe you did not know it, but I always felt the closest to you. I felt like we are the same person but born a few years apart and in different countries. Over the course of this year, I met your beautiful family and fell in love them as well. You are truly and beautiful person. Although my Spanish sucks and you believe you speak like the step mom on Modern Family, we found common ground and love that can’t be explained or taken away. I send my prayers every day for you and your family and I hope that one day we meet again. Maybe in Venezuela! Maybe in the USA! But, I still hope and pray that our paths will cross again. I hope we WhatsApp throughout this time apart and I hope we continue to find common ground and connections miles and countries apart. I will love you and your family forever!




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3 Funniest Moments Abroad- Students Are Funny!

Students always make me laugh. The curious mind is such a great thing. Here are some funny moments that I laugh whenever I think about. I hope I continue to get these funny moments over my career. Although, seeing the lightbulb moment is great as a teacher. Your struggling reader can read. Your student who couldn’t add, can now! I think I enjoy teaching more with the funny every interactions where I become “friends” with my students. They are absolutely hilarious. Probable should have a youtube channel! I think one of these kids does. Hopefully, it is private.

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Venezuela vs. Kuwait- Where Should I Move To?


Many times when I go back home after a placement, I seem to get the same question. Where did you like teaching better? Where did you like living better? Would you stay if x, y, or z didn’t happen?  So today I would like to dive into whether I liked Venezuela or Kuwait better.


International Schools abroad target the rich population or foreign population in the country. You are required to have a passport from another country. Bilingual Schools do not have that problem. They teach two or three languages equally throughout the day. The school I worked in Kuwait was a bilingual school, so therefore I did not serve the richest students in Kuwait. However, most Kuwaitis are given sums of money from their government and are considered wealthy throughout the world. Also, I served students whose parents did not want to spend the most on their child’s education but at the same time wanted a decent education. Blend these together, you get parents who believe they know how to make a great educational system without conferencing with teachers or other educator professionals.



Also, the school becomes “for profit,” so budget cuts are done through not purchasing programs or more learning materials. Therefore, the classroom I worked in was given nothing but whatever the parents were willing to bring. Luckily, you ask nice enough in Kuwait at least 5 parents bring in more than you ever wanted the next day. I also worked with a team of 8 other teachers in grade three. Each class could have 20 students each. That is 160 students per grade level. The high school had 6 classes each of about 25 students. There was a lot of students to hold clubs. There was a lot of students to participate in sports. Therefore, there was also people to teach and inspire as well as teachers to bounce ideas off of and get new information or ideas.

Read for free, now on Serial Reads: Law and Disorder by Heather Graham!


The school I worked in Venezuela was smaller. The school only had one class per grade level. I taught the biggest classes at 16 students. Some classes were 3 students. Just 3. Imagine how work ethic diminishes when you only have 2 other people to bounce your ideas off of. Imagine if you don’t like one of your classmates. The small class sizes proved to be unhealthy in social skills. This school also said it was an International school. Therefore, all students have another passport. It, however, was mainly Venezuelans that were born in America or have a Spain or Italian passport. This school was the cheapest international school in Caracas.  One mom put the tuition cost and the parents’ opinions in a perfect metaphor. “Parents here want to pay for the mashed potatoes but they expect the lobster with it.”


It was run by a board who also were parents. They believed they knew more than educational professionals. My opinions were never expressed to the board and my administration never used our opinions to improve the learning environment effectively. This soon becomes demotivating for teachers to not put full effort into their work. I soon only made sure I put all my efforts into my classroom and all the other things I needed to do became less serious.


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Steps to be an English Teacher Abroad- Easy and Simple

Step 1:

Research programs that get you TEFL certification. Many of the programs will also provide assistance or help to get a job abroad. Premier TEFL is on such program that gives you certification as well as training.


Step 2:

Think about your top choices in countries. Do your research. Look up everything about the new country. Peter and I generally skip this step which is why we worked in Caracas, Venezuela during one of the worst times in their economic history and a brink of violence. List them in order from wanting to move the most to least. What experiences do you want? If you want local friends, look up on how people treat foreigners. Although this is a stereotype, it will at least open your eyes to how a good percent of people think.


Step 3:

Say yes to a job.


Step 4:

Contact the embassy to the country you are moving to. Prepare all your paperwork. The Visa process is the most stressful. You think the American government works slow. Kuwait and Venezuela both are extremely slow compared to America. China is generally quicker in all government offices. Many countries require health checks and some require STD checks.


Step 5:

While preparing paperwork, keep in contact with the school. Request to speak to team members. Request to speak to any teacher. Get a general idea of what you are walking into.


Step 6:

Find out what you need to pack. Many countries do not have or offer what America or western cultures have available. What are you most items? Is shipping accessible in the country you are moving to? How long do shipments take? Peter love his Yorkshire tea. Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea Bags, 240-Count I make sure we have a half year supply when we go over. This gives enough time before shipments can arrive, which has more Yorkshire tea. Believe me, after a long workday having a comfort makes it feel normal.


Step 7:

Decide if you are a two suitcase kinda person or do you need everything. I met both kinds of teachers. Peter and I are two suitcases type of people. Get vacuum air bags and begin packing. Start with things you need but you don’t use daily or weekly.You may want to consider getting TSA locks. 4 Pack TSA Approved Travel Combination Cable Luggage Locks for Suitcases & Backpacks – Black Also, here are some great ideas for suitcases. U.S Traveler Rio Carry-On Lightweight Expandable Rolling Luggage Suitcase Set – Royal Blue (15-Inch And 21-Inch)


Step 8:

Tie up loose ends in America or the west. Or tie them up as best as possible. The less you need to worry about the better.


Step 9:

Skype accounts need to be ready. Speak to family and friends how you want to keep in contact.


Step 10:

Finish packing. Throw a going away party or meet up for dinner. Saying goodbye is always the hardest but this is what you need to get used to as an international teacher.

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TEFL Certification Reviews – Get It and Go!

1. Premier TEFL

This site gives a search for overseas positions and also has an online TEFL certification.

1. Go Overseas

This site provides a search engine for teaching English abroad as well as programs abroad you can use to get your TEFL. Ths is great for young adults looking for a change while they travel. Although many Americans do not take a GAP year, this is a great way to have a gap year and still continue learning about yourself and teaching. Double check the TEFL programs that they require 10 hours in the classroom and 120 hours of studying. This is so you have enough practice and theory to be successful in the classroom. I loved that this site is not an online program but helps you find a program in the country you want to live in.

2. Go Abroad
Like, Go Overseas, this is a search engine to find where classes are offered and where jobs are. They do not necessary give guidance and you do not need to pay. Well, you pay for your TEFL certification.

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Steps To Be An International Teacher- Easy and Simple

Working and finding a job abroad can be daunting. Although in reality, it is much easier to move to another country than to another state. My family all the time tells me of jobs or teacher shortages in other states. However, I think the cost of living is usually higher than abroad. I also know teacher internationally gives me an allowance for housing or free accommodations. The school does all the hard thinking and work for an international hire. As long as the school is honest and transparent, teaching abroad is less paperwork and way less stressful inside and outside the classroom.

 Step 1:

Make sure you graduated as an Education Major and you have your degrees. Also, you should have your transcripts. The schools want 2 or 3 years of experience. They take years of experience from your home country as well as less desirable international teaching jobs. Schools that do not want the 2-3 years of experience may need a lot of new teachers. This means the school is new or the school is run more like a business. This either suits a teacher or you find the way administration handles situations awful. Some schools require 2-3 years of experience because of the country’s visa policy.

Use TIEonline for job postings. You can also join other agencies that help get international jobs like Teachanywhere or Search Associates.

Check the school’s reputation onInternational Schools Review. It gives a review of all international schools.

Another way is to join International School Fairs. I have never gotten a job this way. However, this is a popular way amoungst international teachers.

Step 2:

Think about your top choices in countries. Europe generally does not supply housing. The Middle East and Asia generally pay the better salary versus living expenses. South America and Africa generally pay a salary where you come out even. Also, I like living in obscure places. So sometimes it is knowing what countries have to offer and what you want. Kuwait, for example, is one of the easier countries as the first international experiences. The main reason is they have everything you may think you need. Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse and much more. If certain comforts are needed they most likely have the same brand or similar quality.


Step 3:

Say yes to a job. Sometimes this is the hardest part. International schools like to give you a short timeline. Breathe and reflect if the country a good fit and if the school is a good fit. Ask for more time if you need it. Be honest with the reasons why you need time. I find when I tell them I have other interviews and want to see other offers first, the school does wait.

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Checklist for Moving to A Foreign Country- Easy to Follow

Moving abroad can be hard. Especially saying all of those goodbyes can break hearts. But this checklist makes packing for you new and exciting adventure easy. Remember, ask what products are in the country and what you can find. The less materialistic you are the easier it is to live anywhere.

      1. Passport with at least 6 months validity. (You can always get a new passport once you move to a new country at the USA Embassy. Make sure you fill the new job’s requirements. Sometimes they would like at least a year.)
      2. Clothes for the seasons you will be living in. I always found I could buy clothes abroad. China is harder the heavier you are or for bigger sizes. I could only find form fitting clothes there and during my time in China, I preferred baggy clothes.
      3. Keep all important documents in two places. I bring a folder with me with ALL my health checks and documentation. Copies of my passport, birth certificate, Social Security, Credit Cards, and anything else important. I also keep a copy at home. Therefore, if something happens I have two copies made and can fix any paperwork dilemmas quickly. I never needed to thus far. But you never know. I know many countries want you to get an STD check. Clicking the link, you get $10 off your purchase. http://www.stdcheck.com/?coupon=10OffOrder
      4. Figure out the top 5 things you can’t live without. Ask if you can find these products or brand names in the country your moving to. If you can’t bring at least a 6 month supply. If shipping is not good, bring a 10 month supply so you have those items and feel comfortable and at home.
      5. Money to exchange or local currency. I would say about 300 to 500 dollars for the first month of working can have you be fairly comfortable and depending on where you move can help set up a few things such as new furniture (if you are a nester) or pieces of artwork. This will come with time but it is not to not feel like your waiting for a paycheck.
      6. Ideas and plans for travel. As an international teacher, you get more breaks than I feel my United States friends do. You also have enough money to get in a few international destinations check off the bucket list. Having a few ideas of what you want to see is great. Air tickets are cheapest about 8-6 weeks before travel. Also, check what kind of visas are needed for tourists and most of the time this paperwork can be done in a host country. If not get VISAs over the summer for your bucket list destinations.


    1. Charity thinking: Ask the school if there is something the local teachers need. They love getting goodies from their international teacher friends.
    2. Ask the school if school supplies are needed to purchase. What can you find in the country? What would you need to bring?

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Questions to Ask in Interviews?- Be Prepared

The Interview

Please come prepared with questions. Do you have any questions? What do you want to learn about us? What do you want to know about the school? Do you have questions about the country?


Interviews can be scary. You get nervous. You really want the job and you start to feel like you can’t it after a few rejections or when the school ghosts you. But really interviews should just be the time you let who you naturally are shine. I have found the more relaxed and open I was in an interview, I got along and understood administration better and worked better with them. The interview process should be looked at as a dating prospect. You both need to like each other for the dates and eventually a marriage to continue. In the international circuit, once you don’t like a school or a school doesn’t like you, the job change happens quickly.



Being mentally prepared with questions is ideal. Peter and I write all the questions we want answering. We make sure we at least have 15 questions ready. Sometimes, the school answers most of them but you have enough to seem intelligent, prepared and that you equally care about furthering this relationship.

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