Friday, November 29, 2013

Shhhhh!!!! Cyber Monday is Coming!

Black Friday? Schlmack Friday! Who needs those crowds, trampling, lack of sleep, lines, etc.? Well, i admit I did do some Black Friday shopping. But, I avoided the Wal-Marts and other gatherings of scaries, and only shopped during normal waking hours. Did I stand in some lines? Yes, but it was worth it.

What's also worth it, and you don't even have to get out of your pajamas or even your bed for (well, if you work like I do, then you probably have to do those things)? Anyway, I am not making much sense, am I? Let's just cut to the chase. The Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Monday (and Tuesday) sale is nearly here!!!!

My whole store will be on sale as will so many of your other favorite sellers. Just stop by to spend a few measly dollars and buy some emergency sub plans to set your mind at ease. Never worry about those last-minute, have-to-be-absent days again by knowing you have sub plans ready to go and just waiting for implementation.

Also, now would be the time to clear out those Wish Lists. Stock up for the school year on all those units, lessons, and activities you've been eyeing. Just don't forget to enter "CYBER" at checkout to get that extra savings!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Back to School Sale

It's that time again! Teacher Pay Teachers is having their Back to School Sale. Don't miss out on savings on all those amazing resources you NEED for you and your students. You know the drill by now... most sellers (including ME!) discount their items up to 20%, plus enter the code BTS13 at checkout to get an additional 10% off... for a total of up to 28%.

My ENTIRE store will be 20% off, plus that 10% code so make sure you are ready for subbing season with all the sub plans, forms, and downtime activities you need. Be sure to check out my products in my store as well as all the other phenomenal sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New Class*y Collaboration Announcement

I am so excited to announce that I am a part of brand new blogging collaboration... a Class*y Collaboration. It is a group of 12 bloggers who have gotten together because of a burning desire to share ideas, activities, and freebies!

To kick things off, we are offering an everybody-wins giveaway... that is everybody wins if you are willing to go far out on a limb and follow us on Bloglovin. That's it. That's all you have to do. Just follow the directions on the blog post and you will get an amazing Follower-Only Freebie Pack. Just click over to see a sample of the awesome resources you get for free just for clicking the follow button. So go get you some! And share with your friends so they can get some too!
Plus... one lucky follower will get a $50 winner's choice gift card. Man! I kind of wish I wasn't a contributor and could enter this one myself. Ha!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Love Reading All Your Favorite Blogs on Bloglovin

I don't know if you are aware or not, but Google Reader is going away. I was quite panicked since that's how I follow and read all my favorite blogs. The search was on for a new way to keep up. The consensus in the blog world seems to be Bloglovin. I have to be honest. I only just signed up so I don't really have any grounds to compare it to Google Reader, but others seem to be happy with it. To make sure you don't miss any of your favorite blogs, go check out Bloglovin for yourself. When I signed up, it gave me an option to import my blogs from Google Reader, so I did that. But just to make sure you have Sub Hub in that list, click the link and follow so you don't miss any sub-tastic posts! Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Sunday, June 2, 2013

End-of-the-Year Student Gifts and Momentos

Can you smell that? It's skin frying in the heat of summer. Can you hear that? The pool and beach are calling my name. As my first year of teaching comes to a close, the temptations of summer fun beckon louder and louder. I still have four student days and one teacher work day to complete my mile-long end-of-the-year to-do list. In the middle of all the have-to's like report cards, permanent record files, and classroom clean-ups, I wanted to make sure to leave a little time for some fun want-to's.

First of all, after four years of trying to get a class of my own, I wanted a special way to remember them. I did not want the typical class photo with students signing the matte... mostly because I already have one of those from my student teaching class. As I was wasting time, I mean "researching," on Pinterest, I came across these gems for my favorite team... the San Antonio Spurs!

And then I got to thinking. I am pretty sure, I have worn one of my five pairs of TOMS at least 3 days every week of this year. I find TOMS to be some of the most comfortable shoes to teach in. I have them in lots of colors to match with just about every outfit and am affectionately known as the TOMS teacher. So, I thought, what better momento to have of my first class, than student-designed TOMS? I ordered a pair of white TOMS and bought some fabric markers. I used these. I would definitely recommend thin-tipped ones.

 My students this year are amazing artists, so I held a contest to design the TOMS toes. I chose two winners and let them draw their designs on my shoes. Then I had every student in the class sign around the sides. I am in love with how they turned out! I wore them on spirit day and got so many compliments! I don't think I will wear them too often because I don't want to ruin them, but I know I will have these for many years to come!

Now, for student momentos, I went with another fantastic idea I found while pinning. My classroom theme is the beach, so this beach ball idea was perfect. On the last day, I will let students write their own names large on one section and then sign each other's beach balls with Sharpies. I can't wait to see their excitement!

Finally, I wanted to give them a useable end-of-the-year gift. I definitely want to encourage summer reading, so I thought a fun bookmark would be perfect. I know you have probably seen this gem floating around Pinterest. 

They are listed as being great for a Mother's Day gift, and I agree. But I also think the students will love to read using themselves as the bookmark. I decided to try it. I erased my whiteboard and used that as the background for the photos. I had students pose with their arms over their head as if they were holding on to something. Some got really into it with faces and everything. Then I printed out their photos on 4x6 photo paper and cut out their shapes (this was the crazy time-consuming part, but my own children helped out a lot). I laminated each one to make them stronger and used a small hole puncher to make a hole on the hands. Finally I added a string to the top (I used embroidery thread since my daughter has a ton of that from making friendship bracelets).

Come on, summer! I can taste that frosty adult beverage now.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week is Here! And I Appreciate the Subs Too!

Here in the U.S., this week is celebrated as Teacher Appreciation Week. If you ask me, the best thank you's come from the students themselves. It's those precious drawings, notes, and hugs that come from the little lives you touch everyday. Those are the items I save year after year. Those are the things I pull out after a hard day and that give me the motivation to push through the challenges.

But other tokens certainly don't hurt either. Ha!

At my school, the administration has planned a week of little freedoms and yummies to make our teachers feel appreciated. First, we get to wear jeans all week (YAY!). Two days this week, lunch will be provided for all teachers and stuff... one day by our hospitality committee and the other by the PTA. One day we get to wear flip flops (again, YAY!). And there are suggested ways for students to dress, such as animal prints to show "they are WILD about their teachers."

As a former substitute teacher, I know that subs are often left out of these celebrations. Some campuses I was on graciously included me in all their festivities, while others did not. However, I want all you substitutes to know that I APPRECIATE YOU!!!! Yes, I am yelling it from the rooftops. I am especially thankful for all of you subs who read my blog and other blogs... those of you who see yourselves as the vital professionals you are and not babysitters... those of you who bother to carry a bag of tricks and have back-up lessons and activities just in case. It is because of subs like you that classrooms can run smoothly when teachers have to be out.

My biggest hope for you is that you think of yourselves as a teacher and that others see you that way as well. I know that doesn't always happen. I was once asked by a parent if I was "a real teacher." I reluctantly shied away from the obnoxious, snarky reply I wanted to make and calmly told her that yes, I was a certified teacher and had plenty of classroom experience.

Other people agree with me it seems. I found this wonderful guest post by Somewhat Simple on Skip To My Lou on some ideas for Substitute Teacher Appreciation gifts. Look at how cute these are!

Some of you may already be aware from reading other blogs and following others on Facebook or even remember from last year, but Teachers Pay Teachers will be having a Teacher Appreciation sale. May 7-8, just use check-out code TAD13 to get 10% off your Teachers Pay Teachers Purchases.

And to show you, the hard-working and much-loved substitute teacher, that you are also appreciated, my store (along with many others, including all the top sellers) will be throwing an additional sale on those days as well. You will get 28% on every item in my store, including Just Add Paper substitute plans, CCSS Emergency Substitute Teaching Plans, and Down with Downtime time filler activity ideas.

So, start making that wish list and get ready to check-out on May 7 and 8 to take advantage of the savings!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Beautiful, Simple Books with Powerful Messages

Well, I have been slammed hard by the testing monster... my first year of teaching in the most tested grade level. We have already survived the writing test. (Well, we don't have scores yet, but I am more than pleased with the effort of my students.) But we still face math and reading tests this week. The last two weeks have been spent making sure everyone was up to speed in reading and math. And right in the middle came... an author visit.

My first thought was, "Really? You want to pull us out of class right before testing for an author visit?" I was less than willing to give up time with my sweeties. And for some author visits I have sat through, that would have been true... but not this one.

I had never heard of Kathryn Otoshi or her books One and Zero, although they were published in 2008 and 2010 respectively. Boy, have I been missing out! And I want to make sure you aren't doing the same.
I brought my students into the cafeteria where the presentation was all set up, and standing before us was a small, pretty, Asian woman (which was wonderful for my Asian ESL students to see such a role model). When she spoke, she commanded the room without being authoritarian or over the top. The students were fascinated as she read them her books and explained the stories of how they came to be. She even led them in a reader's theater of one of them.
Both books are beautifully simple in their words and illustrations, but carry powerful messages. One tells the story of how red bullies blue while none of the other colors stand up to red. Then along comes a number 1 who encourages the colors to turn into numbers against red's will. But because 1 refuses to back down, so do all the other number colors. What a brilliant way to convey the message, "Sometimes it just takes one [to stand up to a bully]."
Zero focuses on believing in yourself, appreciating differences, and acceptance. In this story zero is sad because it has no value and can't count along with the other numbers. Zero tries to change and become something it is not, but it never works. Finally, zero is inspired by former bully red (who is now a number 7) to see itself as open and not empty. Zero shows the other numbers how to count even higher by adding a zero to each number. This book could even be a great way to introduce skip counting by 10s and some place value. Again, absolutely brilliant!
When we got back to our classroom, we had a discussion on the books and the author, and every single one of my students got the messages communicated. 
I have added these books to my collection, and I would urge anyone trying to teach these values to do the same.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Guest Blogger: Drawing Attention

Please welcome guest blogger Lee Reed.

Last week I was told there was an opening to fill in for an art teacher. Of course, I accepted the assignment and walked down to the art department to talk to Mary, the art teacher. What I saw and experienced there brought back old memories. There wasn't a surface anywhere that didn't have a paint or marker stain on it. Not only that, it smelled like an art department with the faint smell of turpentine permeating the air. Mary is an attractive woman in her fifties whose hair is completely gray and always a bit disheveled. She told me that she normally left a video for the kids to watch. For some subs, this might seem like a dream assignment, but I don't care for it. I would much rather teach something. Studies have shown that the average student spends an entire year under the tutelage of a substitute between kindergarten and high school graduation. We simply can't afford to waste that time.

I explained to her that I had some background in the arts and would like to try to teach something. She liked the idea, knowing her students really didn't like videos any more than I did. She told me she would leave the decision up to me and suggested I email her with my ideas.

Over the weekend I thought a lot about what I would do. My thinking took me back to my early days in the art world. I took a course in photography my first year in college and fell in love. I wanted to make it my major but was intimidated by the amount of art courses I would have to take: drawing, painting, sculpting, and more. With little experience in those areas, I worried I couldn't hack it but was willing to give it a try. What I learned and what I hoped to pass on to the kids in class, was that there were things that could be said through art that are nearly impossible to say with words. I was hooked, and I hoped I could hook a few of the kids in class.

The question that plagued me was this: how was I going to help these students see that in the space of one 50 minute hour? I remembered a lesson plan I had seen created by Ray Appel. Ray is a math teacher at the Rochester Elementary School. When he isn't busy teaching math and creating products to help other math teachers, he loves to cartoon and has put together a series of lessons on cartooning that he offers for free on his website.

I ran the idea past my wife, who loved it. (She's a university professor with a doctorate in education, so I value her opinion highly.) I also ran the idea by Mary, who was also in favor of the strategy. In my opinion, it was a strategy I could teach in a short period of time that might just spark an interest in the arts at a new level. Cartoons are relatively simple to draw even if you have limited artistic skills, and they can easily be manipulated to express a great many emotions. It looked like a good strategy for getting some kids involved in the arts that might normally feel welcome there.

The day of the sub assignment came and I told my story. Mary had written my name on the board up front under the heading “Guest Artist.” I explained why I thought cartooning was something they might really enjoy. I showed them how simple it was to make a face and how to manipulate the features. Then I gave them the rest of the hour to draw six faces representing six different emotions. Then I walked around the room to see what they were doing and offer encouragement.

I was pleasantly surprised at what I saw. Most were taking the assignment seriously. Some students clearly had some skill and were doing some amazing things. Others were doing the bare minimum to meet the requirements so they could go back to socializing with their friends. What pleased me most, however, was the few that did not have a lot of talent but saw this as a kind of back door to the art world. They had paid attention to my instructions and were working hard to make images they could be proud of. These were exactly the students I had hoped would benefit most. As far as I was concerned, the lesson was a success regardless of the results. However, if I was happy at the beginning, I was happier still when I saw what the class created. Some of the work was truly outstanding. Enough so that I was happy I had taken the risk.

My experience is that there are a lot of remarkable resources available on the Internet these days. I do my best to seek out the good sources, particularly the good free sources of information for teachers. Ray Appel is but one example of what is available. I can't promise that everything will work as well, but I think you'll be impressed with what is out there if you know where to look.

Lee Reed is a father, grandfather, and substitute teacher working on his credentials to become a full time teacher. Mostly though, he is a patient observer of life's ironies and loves to write about his experiences, especially those that have taught him important lessons. You can see more of his writing at Teaching a Day at a Time or check out his new book, The Substitute Teachers Toolkit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A New Publication to Fall in Love With

As a former journalist and current educator, two of my favorite things are magazines and education. And if I find a combination of the two, what could be better than that? Well, you also must know that I tend toward the OCD side, so organization is also on top of my list. I have found something that meets all these criteria, is brand new, and is written and published by none other than the fabulous Charity Preston of The Organized Classroom Blog.

Taa daa!!!! Meet The Organized Classroom Magazine:

And the first issue is 100%, no-strings-attached FREE! Oh, be still my beating heart! And that first free issue is all about Taming the Paper Monster. I mean, who doesn't have one of those? Just click on the link to download your free copy. And if you decide to subscribe, it's only $24 for a year of monthly issues just as helpful, beautiful, and informational as this one.

This will definitely be on my monthly must-read list from now on. Now... do you think she might let me write an article for it... hee hee

Friday, February 1, 2013

Super Sale!

While everyone else is obsessed with the big game on Sunday, Teachers Pay Teachers is having another site-wide sale. So go long and enter the code SUPER to save on any and all products. Plus most sellers, including me will have their entire stores for an additional 20% off. That's up to 28% off all day Sunday. Touchdown!

Check my store for sub plans, monthly writing packets, and more!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Consequences: Certainty Is More Important Than Severity

Classroom management. The two words strike fear in many teachers' and subs' hearts. It seems to be one of those things that you are either naturally good at, or you constantly struggle with. I am in the "struggles with" category. This year seems to easier, but I attribute it more to my students than to me. Somehow the stars aligned, and I have no major behavior issues my class this year. The worst things I seem to deal with are incessant talking, reluctancy to work, and immaturity issues.

So, when my vice-principal came into my classroom and offered me the chance to attend a two-day classroom management workshop, I jumped at the chance. This week, I attended the first day, and it was well worth it. And it's not even that I was learning a ton of new things. Most of what the presenter said, I had heard in grad school and some of it I even already do, but it was nice to hear it again, get some validation for what I am doing, and commiserate with other teachers. It seems you very rarely get the opportunity to talk about the realities of teaching with other teachers.

Anyway, this session focused on classroom organization, educational psychology needs theories (a student cannot learn or be focused if certain needs are not being met), and useful classroom strategies. I will write more on those topics another time.

The thing I want to focus on in this post is my big a-ha moment from that workshop session. There was a quote the presenter used, and she only briefly dwelled on it. But for me, it made the choir of angels sing in the room. It struck me this way because it hit so close to home. What the presenter said was this:

"It's the certainty of the consequence and not the severity that makes the consequence effective."

Now, I will come clean and fess up to you right now. I am one of those teachers who gives waaaaaaay too many warnings. I don't like to punish kids. I don't want to punish kids. Not even my own kids. I am the teacher who says for the tenth time, "I am not going to say this again." And, in a classroom with some behavior challenges, that gets me in trouble every time.

The presenter compared this concept to driving through those neighborhoods or small towns notorious for their traffic cops. You know the ones. We all know the ones. In San Antonio, it's Castle Hills and Leon Valley. They are the places where if you even think about rolling through the stop sign or not using your blinker to turn or accidentally go 1 mile and hour over the speed limit, you instantly look around for the lights and listen for the sirens. Because you are CERTAIN that one minor infraction is going to warrant a ticket. And how do you drive through those areas? Well, of course, you drive through those areas with extra caution, paying close attention to your speed and the traffic signs around you. In short, you do you best to make sure you follow all the rules... even the ones you may not follow in other areas of town.

You need to be that notorious area of town as a teacher. Your students need to know that there will most definitely be a consequence every time they make a less-than-desireable choice.

What I really like about the statement is the severity part. I don't have to be mean, slam-down-the-hammer-of-classroom-justice teacher. I don't have to stop class and administer a consequence for every rule breaker. For many students, just "the teacher look" can be consequence enough... or a simple statement of redirection... or even just your walking close to them. I can administer the consequence based on the infraction AND the student. For example, the student who has had an issue and is in tears about it (I mean genuine tears because this is the first time they've ever been in trouble) does not deserve the same consequence as the student who had the same issue, but comes to you with arms crossed and smirk on their face. It goes back to another of my favorite quotes:

"Fair isn't everybody getting the same the thing. 
Fair is everybody getting what they need to be successful."

So, what I took away from this part of the session is that I need to have a wealth of consequence ideas of varying degrees of severity, ranging from the "teacher look" to office referral. Students need to know you will enforce those classroom and school rules at all times.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Gingerbread Man Is Not Just for Christmas

The holidays are over, and I've been back at school for a week. I wanted to take some time to share with something my class did leading up to the holidays. Although holiday-ish, it is my no means limited to holiday time. Many of you may be able to use this in your classroom. And even for substitutes in a long-term position (or even a day or two), this can be a great reading and writing activity.

When deciding what to do in the month of December, I was a little worried since over half of my students do not celebrate Christmas. I wanted to do something that brought the feeling of the month of December, however. I ended up using The Gingerbread Man.

I started the unit by reading as many different versions of The Gingerbread Man as I had. Here are a few I used, but there are so many great ones out there.

We discussed the story structure, analyzing all the parts. We even used a Story Map I found on Teachers Pay Teachers for the students to write out all the parts.

Then I gave them blank copies of that same story map to start planning out their own versions of The Gingerbread Man. The students then used that map as their plan to write their rough draft. They finished off the writing process by revising and editing and writing their final copy on clean notebook paper (fronts only) and stapling the pages together at the top.

To publish the project, I had the students create their main character. I had bought fun foam gingerbread shapes at Michael's that they could use if they chose a gingerbread character. And I just made lots of different colors of construction paper available for decorations or character creating if it wasn't a gingerbread character. Finally, it was all glued on a large sheet of red construction paper. The results were awesome!

Here are some of my favorites. Now, don't look too closely at grammar and spelling. I have mostly ESL students, so those are not their strengths.

First, meet Cheesey Cheese Man.

And this is Gingerbread Cowboy (as in Dallas Cowboys) with Eli Manning and other professional athletes such as Tim Duncan and Tony Parker making cameos in the story.

This is Gingerbread Fisherman. I really loved how this students brought her own interests into the story.

Here is Ninjabread Man. Although, this was an example I gave, so it may not win super creativity points, I thought the student's execution of both the story and the costume were excellent.

And finally, let me introduce Pizza Man. My favorite part of this story was her refrain of, "I'll run and I'll run with my pepperoni twist. You can't catch me. I am the Pizza Man." OK, it doesn't rhyme, but I sure loved that "pepperoni twist" part!

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