180 Days of Musical Encouragement 


“Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest. Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:20-21‬ ‭MSG‬‬ http://bible.com/97/pro.18.20-21.msg

I love music. Music connects with the very essence of my soul. Music makes me feel happy and confident. It makes me cry, smile and angry. I find meaning in songs and attach them to memorable moments in my life.

When my husband and I were dating, I once asked him to write a list of ten songs he would put on the soundtrack of his life. I’ve done this with my students as well. It gives me a bit of insight into who they are.

Now, I plan to use music to extend my reach and plant positive seeds. I don’t work in the worst of the worst areas with the toughest of the toughest kids. However, I do work with kids who do not always hear positive words from the ones who love them most. Some say there’s nothing you can do about that. I say, “I’ll do what I’ve been asked to do then allow God to do the rest”.

Over the past three days, I’ve spent moments with God searching for 180 songs to play for my students when they enter my room each morning. These songs hold power; they speak of love, motivation, self-worth, goodness, happiness, hope and possibilities.  It a nice mix of genres, old and new, popular and rare, mature and youthful. But the things they all have in common are the ability to satisfy the mind, give life and produce fruit. I’m so excited to see what God will do with this. 😊

  1. One Love– Bob Marley
  2. Through Your Eyes– Britt Nicole
  3. Future – Musiq Soulchild
  4. There’s Hope– India Arie
  5. Once a Day– Michael Franti
  6. Dreams– Ashanti
  7. I Can Do Anything– Fresh Beat Band
  8. Dare You to Move– Switchfoot
  9. Count on Me– Bruno Mars
  10. Try Everything– Shakira
  11. Eyes Wide Open– Sabrina Carpenter
  12. Go Get It– Mary Mary
  13. Don’t Stop Believing– Glee
  14. i– Kendrick Lamar
  15. Can’t Stop the Feeling– Justin Timberlake
  16. I Got Sunshine– Avery Sunshine
  17. I Lived– One Republic
  18. Rise Up– Andra Day
  19. Tomorrow– Annie
  20. Lean On Me– Bill Withers
  21. Never Settle– Goldford
  22. Upside Down– Jack Johnson
  23. Better Together- Jack Johnson
  24. Strength Courage and Wisdom– India Arie
  25. Sure Looks Good to Me– Alicia Keys
  26. Surprise Yourself– Fresh Beat Band
  27. Wake– Hillsong Young and Free
  28. Golden– Jill Scott
  29. We Are Family– Sister Sledge
  30. Remedy– Adele
  31. All You Need is Love– Beatles
  32. What a Wonderful World– Louis Armstrong
  33. Somewhere Over the Rainbow– Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
  34. Heroes– David Bowie
  35. Don’t Worry Be Happy– Bob Marley
  36. It’s My Life– Jon Bon Jovi
  37. Fireworks– Katy Perry
  38. Unwritten– Natasha Bedingfield
  39. True Colors– Cyndi Lauper
  40. Lovely Day– Bill Withers
  41. Stand By Me– Ben E. King
  42. Follow the Sun– Xavier Rudd
  43. Pieces– Bethel Music
  44. A Beautiful Day– India Arie
  45. Everybody– Ingrid Michaelson
  46. Grateful: A Love Song to the World– Nimo Patel
  47. Three Little Birds– Bob Marley
  48. We Are Here– Alicia Keys
  49. What I Am Is– Seasame Street and Will i. Am
  50. Free– Michael Medall
  51. Greatest Love of All- Whitney Houston
  52. Man in the Mirror- Michael Jackson
  53. Beautiful Day– U2
  54. Keep Your Head Up– Andy Grammar
  55. I Can See Clearly– Jimmy Cliff
  56. Take Me the Way I Am– Ingrid Michaelson
  57. Hey, Hey, Hey– Michael Franti & Spearhead
  58. Wake Up Everybody – John Legend
  59. Move– MercyMe
  60. The Sound of Sunshine– Michael Franti & Spearhead
  61. Life is Wonderful– Jason Mraz
  62. Shiny Happy People– REM
  63. So Happy Together– The Turtles
  64. Smile– V. Bozman
  65. Brand New Day– The Wiz
  66. We Are the World
  67. On Top of the World- Imagine Dragons
  68. Roll with the Punches– Lenka
  69. Ok It’s Alright with Me– Eric Hutchinson
  70. Fireflies– Owl City
  71. Live Like You’re Dying– Kris Allen
  72. Roar– Katy Perry
  73. Brave– Sara Bareilles
  74. Wavin’ Flag– K’Naan and Will i. am
  75. Girl in the Mirror– Sophia Grace
  76. Best Day of My Life-American Authors
  77. Wouldn’t It Be Nice– Beach Boys
  78. Good Vibrations– Beach Boys
  79. Sunny Day- Joy Williams
  80. Good Morning- Mandisa
  81. I Can– Nas
  82. Keep Tryin‘ – Groove Theory
  83. Shed a Little Light– Goldford
  84. Lovin Me– Jonathan McReynolds
  85. Meant to Live- Switchfoot
  86. Wake Me Up– Aviici
  87. The Man– Aloe Blacc
  88. Hello World– Aloe Blacc
  89. Live Your Life- TI
  90. Alright– Kendrick Lamar
  91. Lighters– Eminem
  92. One Call Away- Charlie Pugh
  93. Don’t You Worry Child– Swedish House Mafia
  94. Save the World– Swedish House Mafia
  95. Superheroes– The Script
  96. Keep Ya Head Up– Tupac
  97. Walking on Sunshine– Katrina & the Wave
  98. The Climb– Miley Cyrus
  99. Get Up, Stand Up– Bob Marley
  100. Story of Your Life– Matthew West
  101. Mean– Taylor Swift
  102. Speak Life– Toby Mac
  103. How Far I’ll Go– Alessia Cara
  104. You Lift Me Up– The Afters
  105. Hurricane– Natalie Grant
  106. Happiness– Needtobreathe
  107. Every Good Thing– The Afters
  108. Not For a Moment– Meredith Andrews
  109. Blink– Revive
  110. Good to Be Alive– Jason Gray
  111. Pocket Full of Sunshine– Natasha Bedingfield
  112. Gold– Britt Nicole
  113. You Are Loved– Josh Groban
  114. Get Back Up– Toby Mac
  115. Free to Be Me- Francesca Battistelli
  116. Watch Me Shine– Joanna Pacitti
  117. Beautiful, Beautiful – Francesca Battistelli
  118. I’m Letting Go– Francesca Battistelli
  119. Put a Little Love in Your Heart– Anne Lennox and Al Green
  120. Victory – Kim Burrell
  121. Reach for the Stars– S Club 7
  122. Soar– Christina Aguilera
  123. Larger than Life– Pinkzebra
  124. Turn! Turn! Turn!– The Byrds
  125. A Change Gonna Come– Sam Cooke
  126. Overcomer– Mandisa
  127. Confident– Kidz Bop
  128. What Makes You Beautiful– Kidz Bop
  129. Sky’s the Limit– Biggie
  130. Am I Wrong– Nico and Vinz
  131. I Am Light– India Arie
  132. Brave– Moriah Peters
  133. One Life- Hedley
  134. You’re Not Alone– Marie Miller
  135. Titanium– David Guetta & Sia
  136. The Greatest -Sia
  137. Nothing’s Real But Love– Rebecca Ferguson
  138. People Help the People- Birdy
  139. Kill’em With Kindness– Selena Gomez
  140. The Same– Matthew & Marisa
  141. When Love Takes Over– Kelly Rowland
  142. People Get Ready– The Impressions
  143. Where is the Love?– The Black Eyed Peas
  144. Glory– Common and John Legend
  145. Better When I’m Dancin– Meghan Trainor
  146. Stronger– Kelly Clarkson
  147. Who Says– Selena Gomez
  148. Hero– Mariah Carey
  149. I Wish You Well– Elizabeth Mitchell
  150. Peace Like a River– Elizabeth Mitchell
  151. You Are My Sunshine– Elizabeth Mitchell
  152. This Little Light of Mine– Elizabeth Mitchell
  153. Sesame Street Song– Jimmy Fallon and The Roots
  154. Don’t Give Up– Bruno Mars
  155. Believe in Yourself– Michael Buble
  156. Can’t Hold Us– Macklemore
  157. Take On the World– Rowan
  158. On Top of the World– Dove Cameron
  159. Everything is Sound– Jason Mraz
  160. Living in the Moment– Jason Mraz
  161. The World is Watching– Two Door Cinema Club
  162. Happy– Pharrell
  163. Hall of Fame– The Script
  164. Brighter Than the Sun- Colbie Caillat
  165. I‘m the World’s Greatest– R. Kelly
  166. Who I Am– Natasha Bedingfield
  167. Believe in Yourself
  168. Just Stand Up
  169. All- Star- Smash Mouth
  170. Good Feeling– Flo Rida
  171. Happy– Natasha Bedingfield
  172. Hakuna Matata– The Lion King
  173. I’m a Believer– Smash Mouth
  174. Boomerang– Jojo Siwa
  175. Crazy– Gnarls Barkley
  176. Haven’t Met You Yet- Michael Buble
  177. Waka Waka– Shakira
  178. Try– Colbie Caillat
  179. Power Within Me– Junga World
  180. Feel the Rush– Shaggy

Preaching What You Practice 


Since 2010, I functioned in the role of math coach until the beginning of last school year. Feeling a bit burnt out and moving to a new school district created a perfect opportunity to go back into the classroom. With an amazing group of 7th graders, I was able to practice a lot of things I had preached for the past 4 1/2 years. 

Read more here Preaching What You Practice by Jenise Sexton

Giving Them What They Want


Within my post There’s a Disconnect, students shared they would like to review concepts to be assessed by playing games. Wanting to be a woman of my word, I did what I always do when I need to think, I went for a walk.  (Total sidebar, taking a moment to “be in the moment” and decompress is essential to your well-being.  Try it some time.)

What came out of that walk is explained below.

Hunger Games

Our last unit dealt with probability.  Perfect!  I tied in the last unit with other concepts to be covered on our district final.  We watched the first 20 minutes of The Hunger Games.  From there we completed The Reaping and the games began!


Within this Powerpoint, you’ll find directions for two games played, Hot Seat and Review Relay.  Students were pumped about earning points for the districts.

This may have been my favorite game.  Tributes had to make it to the cornucopia to retrieve items from their sponsors.


Incorporating technology, we played Kahoot, Overthrowing the Capitol.



My students need some extra motivation to compensate for the lack of intrinsic motivation quite often throughout the year.  The end of the year was no different.  To keep students motivated to continue down the road of success until the very last day, we developed a mini-society.


School ended May 20th.

There’s a Disconnect


To me, the whole purpose of students submitting assignments is for me to see what they know and understand at the time the work is submitted. It’s like a checkpoint, a formative assessment and not just a grade in the gradebook. This year, I’ve been very intentional about implementing tasks to build understanding, formatively assessing almost daily and using a rubric to evaluate student understanding. 

Even still, there’s been a bit of a recurring theme for my students. I noticed that many students do well on class work and formative assessments scoring 2’s and 3’s on a 4 point rubric. However, when it comes to the common assessments student score poorly. This has baffled me so much.  How can a student show they understand one moment and appear to have no idea on a certain assessment?  No need to assume Jenise, just ask them.  So I did. 

The black lists are factors students contribute to poor performance

The orange list are suggestions students gave to me to try to help them. My thoughts are in blue.

Take a close look at the first orange list. What do you notice? Some of the feedback was very enlightening. There were suggestions given that I was already providing but the students didn’t make a connection to their purpose. There were things I would definitely try. Of course some things were suggested to which I could not compromise such as give extra credit, use traditional grading, and give them rules or steps to follow. 

I’ve learned so much just by asking their opinion, being transparent and being open to receive whatever they may say. These things may very well be the key to dissolving the disconnect. 

Turtle Says Its My Secret Weapon


Have you ever heard of the 5 love languages? If not, they were developed by Gary Chapman a psychologist who studies people and their relationships. He says we all possess five languages that make us feel loved. There may be one language that speaks louder than others, which is referred to as our primary love language. The 5 languages are Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Gifts and Quality Time. For more on this visit, 5 Love Languages.

In years past, I’ve had students complete the profile for kids or teens. This would allow for more insight into building a relationship with students and getting to know them better. I learned the students “love language” and spoke it for encouragement and did my best to not use it against them for punishment. For example, if a student’s primary love language is quality time, I would make sure I stopped by their desk to check on them more frequently than others. Or I would allow them to work with a partner when others were working independently. If the student misbehaved I would do my best not to send them out of the class. If I did they could interpret my sending them away as I don’t love or care about them.

With 100 students it has been difficult to speak each student’s primary love language for the sheer fact that I cannot remember them all. However, because it’s just who I am, I cannot do away with them. So I make sure I’m multilingual, speaking all five languages. The more this is done, the more I can clue into which ones make more of an impact on certain students. Enter academics, the students begin to trust me, they let their guards down. This is the gateway for a safe environment for the students. This is the gateway for them to be down for almost anything. This is what Turtle said was my secret weapon.