Tuesday, July 28, 2015

B2S Wish List!

Hola, all!

Before I get into this post, I wanted to mention really quickly that my old e-mail address is no longer working. If you've sent anything to that email as of late, I am not getting it, so make sure to click the contact me button to the right to be directed to the correct e-mail, thank you!!

I'm suffering from some low iron lately, so getting motivated to go back to school has been really tough. I literally go upstairs to work in my office and I'm wiped out, so it's been a daily struggle to push myself to be productive.

Three weeks before school starts, and since I'm not entirely sure about my courses/class loads yet, and we can't get back into the building, I'm making my wish list for back to school!

This year my wish list is a bit different, as it's stuff I would love to have to help me be more productive in the morning and at school! Also, some of it's really cute. :) (**Disclaimer: This is NOT an affiliate post, I was not given and do not have any of these products!)

1. Coffee Kozy from Knot Unraveled. Not only are these Kozy's adorable, they support a great cause! Proceeds from each sale are donated to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society!

2. This adorable Kate Spade clock for my desk to keep track of time during my planning period.

3. The TYME curling iron. I have heard a lot about this, and that it can really save time with curling hair in the morning. As trimester 3 and baby are soon approaching, I would love a way to get ready quickly so that I can still resemble a human being after little to no sleep!

4. The Inkjoy 2 in 1 Stylus Pen. I have a Lenovo Yoga ThinkPad, and it's got an awesome touch screen! This would be super handy to have on my desk at all times!

5. All of my units spiral bound! If you've been following you know I just had my books spiral bound at Office Max, and my While You Were Out book spiral bound. This is a total dream for me to have all my materials that I copy and use in one spiral in order to save trips to the copy room. I always end up going all the way back because I realize I took something out of a binder like a dummy!

I'm also thanking myself for being such an office supply hoarder, as the only things on my shopping list right now are a ton of highlighters and extra notebooks for students who can't get out to get one! This also means I might get to splurge on some of my wish list items, eek!

Happy B2S Shopping Everyone! What's on your list? Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mid-Summer Giveaway!

Hi everyone!

Since I arrived home from the TpT Conference Sunday night, I've been processing everything I learned and reflecting on all of the great ideas and memories from it! It's been a lot to take in, and I'm slightly overwhelmed, but excited to process all of my ideas and learn how to manage my time while preparing for the school year and baby (which we found out is a girl, on Thursday, eek!!)

Here are my top 5 biggest takeaways:

1. Networking is *KEY*
2. Being on TpT=Being a small business owner, take it seriously!
3. You must find your niche and stay true to it
4. TpT should enhance your work in the classroom
5. Teachers rock!

With #5 in mind, I've teamed up with a great group of Middle School Bloggers and TpT Sellers to bring you this great mid-summer giveaway! We are giving away TWO prizes! A $60 Target Gift Card and a TpT Product Bundle! Please see the rafflecopter below for how to enter. And make sure to stop by and check out these other wonderful teacher bloggers!

Best of luck!


                         Lit With Lyns   //    Middle School Math Man   //   Teaching Teens in the 21st!        
                                          Koch's Odds 'N Ends    //     Junior High Core Values                                

Our TpT Bundle includes the following items:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 29, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Dare to Dream!

This week the TpT Challenge was all about why we joined TpT in the first place. I've been working on this post all week, but this was a surprisingly hectic week with our whole house being torn up for new carpeting, painting the nursery, and a few other things!

Here is my reasoning for why I do TpT, and why I blog at all, actually!

1. Share resources and learn from other teachers: There is something amazing about teachers. Teachers are willing to share and help each other more than any other group of professionals I've seen. When I first started teaching and blogging, it was so wonderful to learn from others, and to get ideas for everything from classroom management to decorating a classroom. I feel like blogging is so great because it's unedited. Teachers are free to share what they do, and explain if it worked or not. Everything I read in books back in the early 2000's seemed stale to me. It was always these magical strategies that worked perfectly in a utopian classroom. Blogging changes that, and people are realistic with their goals and struggles in the classroom. TpT is also like that for me. I'm not a perfect person, and sometimes I'll put up a resource that works great for me, but receive feedback that it didn't work for someone else. I hate it when people feel that way because I don't want to let them down. It actually gives me a great deal of anxiety, and I rush to fix the product in any way I can so I can provide a great product for people. This has actually made me a better teacher, because I'm really thinking through why it didn't work for someone else, and what could I do to make it better and easier to use in the classroom? And...it usually results in a better product that I can use in my own classroom the next time I teach it!

2. Help decrease debt and pay off student loans: I have a lot of student debt. I said it. I went to a private college, law school for a year, and have two masters degrees. Any way that I can supplement my income to help decrease my investment in my education is a plus in my book. I've used my TpT earnings as an allowance, so that I can put my salary towards paying off debt. Since I know I won't win the lottery anytime soon, I wanted to be proactive and do something about it! :)

3. Eventually develop a product line or resource book: One of my major dreams as an educator is to develop something that can be used nationwide. I'm not looking to become "edu-famous", but I would like to feel that I've contributed in a professional way to the incredible community of educators in our nation and world. I truly believe that TpT and Blogging support the idea of a virtual PLC, and we learn best from each other. Teachers are the experts in their field, and with the increasing takeover by publishing companies to control curriculum and education, I think it is absolutely crucial that we support and take care of each other. I think many teachers have a million things they are good at, and a handful of things they are absolutely excellent at. If everyone developed resources, materials, or products that showcase their gifts, I think we would be in a much better place. I also feel like middle-level education is somewhat lacking in resources, materials, and products available for their classroom. My ultimate goal would be to contribute in my own small way to this population with something of value. 

Why do you blog? Why do you put resources on TpT? What's your "end game"? 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Classroom Management Forms

Yesterday I posted my new Classroom Management Forms pack, which contains all of the forms I use in my classroom to keep things running smoothly and organized. The newest item in that pack is the While You Were Out cover and table, which I decided to have bound in a spiral at Office Depot last night. It was ready to pick up this morning, and I was so excited to go and get it! (I'm a sucker for anything that is bound in a spiral, but these could easily be printed at your school or home and hole punched for a binder).
I chose to have the front cover printed in color and laminated, which was an extra $1.50

I created a document with 130 pages of the While You Were out table, and the cover. 

This gives me enough pages in case I make some insane mistake, and allows for enough room for my 5 preps! (I will be combining some of them onto the same page for this spiral).

My back cover is the 65# Brights, and chose the Cosmic Blue, laminated as well. I also picked the white coil.

Grand total? $21.16, plus 25% off, so $15.87 total! For me, it's totally worth it to have everything in spot, and looking nice and neat!

Here's a mock up I did today just to show you how it works! I am loving this layout, and I felt like I had more than enough room to put all the information I needed to. 

Students can see exactly what they missed, and then I often post more details on my weebly page or echalk page for students to see. Next year, I'll be linking my One Note notebook, where I put my detailed agenda that I project daily to save myself a little bit of time!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Makeover Madness!

First of all, I would like to start off by saying, CONGRATS TO THE NEW DYNASTY,
THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS!! :) There was a lot of rally towel swinging and yelling happening in our house last night, and a lot of fireworks being set off in our neighborhood after the Hawks big win last night. What was a great series!

So I saw from Third in Hollywood that they decided to do a TPT Seller Challenge, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to jump on, since I'm heading to the TpT Conference in fabulous Las Vegas in July!

For this week's challenge, we were asked to makeover a product in our store, so I decided on my Reading Project Descriptions and Rubrics. These were definitely due for a facelift!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Interactive Student Notebooks 2.0

You know I love the ISN, but I wanted to make some changes for next year, in terms of how I organize it and utilize it within the classroom. This post will be chock full of pictures of what it looked like this year, and how it will be changing next year!

Here's an example of my running ISN table of contents from this year, it was great, but I really felt like it lacked some additional organization. I like having the CCSS on the right, and towards the end of the year, I started printing copies of it for students to save time writing in the Table of Contents in their own notebooks.

Here's the ISN TOC for this year! And yes, I've already begun the planning process, in fact, while watching the Blackhawks DOMINATE last night, I ended up planning out the entire year in order to be able to show all of you the new and improved ISN. I also wanted to do this now so that I could relax the rest of the summer. I have two more preps to do this for, but I'm most comfortable with my 8th grade ET class, so this was where I decided to start.  This will be a huge help when I go on maternity leave (if you missed the memo, I'm expecting December 3rd, yay!!), and there will be a clear plan in place for my long term sub.

What's new other than the color scheme?? TABS (more later)! This was something I did with my writer's notebooks for 7th grade this year, and it was such a time saver for my students!

All right, so I took one of my students ISN's from this year (it is AWESOME), and I'll be using it to compare and contrast the new version.

Student Cover: Nothing on this is changing. They must have their name on it (covered on this one), and she used clear packing tape to keep her pictures and decorations safe. I think the personalization is great for students, and gives them ownership.

So off to Target I went today to get my new notebook, and I was oh so excited! As I've said in the past, I highly recommend getting a Mead, 5-Star or equivalent notebook with a sturdy cover. Also, ask students to get COLLEGE RULED instead of wide ruled. The college ruled is just a bit bigger, and students don't need to trim pages to get them in the notebook. This year my students will need a full 5-subject notebook, but in the past a 3 subject has been more than enough. 

Time to decorate!

 Totally stole my students idea and put packing tape over it (which I used to do with my high school assignment notebooks, lol)
 And decided to cover the back with packing tape, too. Why not?
I also threaded a string through the side, not just to look cute, but to make a little bookmark to mark my page in the ISN!

On to the Table of Contents. Here is my students first page from last year. I used to have them divide by quarter, but I don't really see the appeal of this anymore this year.

New Table of Contents

 I decided to break up the notebook into many different sections:

1. Anchor Charts and Data
2. Quarter 1 Literature
3. Quarter 2 Literature
4. Quarter 3 Literature
5. Quarter 4 Literature
6. Reading Conferences/Reflection
7. Grammar Invitations
8. Writing
9. Vocab and Root Word Study
10. Free Writing (Need to add this section in my TOC still)

You'll notice I went through and determined the CCSS the best fit each activity, and while it initially seemed light to me in the lit. section, I had to remind myself that our 8th graders do both Reading and Writing in one 42 minute class period. Basically, each quarter is divided in half, where the first half focuses on literature and the second half on the writing. Also, not every single activity (like group and partner work) ends up in the ISN, so there is a bit of wiggle room. The biggest difference in the ISN for next year is that my students will be recording all of their data, and also keeping a record of their learning styles in their notebook. This will be all at the beginning for them, along with their anchor charts.
The reading conferences and reflection area is a great place for students to track what they are reading, or what they want to talk about when we meet to discuss their books. They can also keep track of their book shopping list and keep a log of what they have read this year and enjoyed.

 I color coded the Grammar Invitations section so I knew which quarter I intended to do each grammar invitation. This may or may not actually happen, so I will not keep this color coded when I print for students.
 This is where it gets boring, and why I put the Vocab and Root Word study at the end. I used to have students keep this work in a manila folder, but it often was lost, or in some cases, taken and copied, from their folders. Not anymore!
After this section is where I'll add the Notes and Free Writing Section.

Finally, I added the side tabs this year for extra organization:

Here's a smattering of the activities we used in the ISN this year that were super valuable:
Smashbook for Night. Using my own unit, along with the Smashbook project from Tales of Teaching in Heels, this unit was a bigger success than usual!

More of the smashbook!

Grammar Invitation Anchor Charts for Commas (more coming this summer as I finish creating them!)

Freebie from Tales of Teaching in Heels again!

 Poetry analysis sheet from Holocaust unit

 Invitation to Write and Express Lane Edit

Argumentative Unit Group Assignment (Forensic Argument)

 Close reading on Walt Whitman Free in my store!

Vital Vocabulary 

Edgar Allan Poe analysis!

I'm beyond excited to try out this *new* system next year and see how the changes work in my classroom. I'm toying with the idea of having them put EVERYTHING in their notebook at the beginning of the year. My ideal world would include all of my handouts being bound into a spiral that I can just pass out to my students, but for now gluing them into notebooks will have to do! 

For those of you who may find the ISN daunting, the best advice I have is to just jump in and try it. You'll find a way that works for you, and it may be totally different from every other teacher who uses it. That's OK!