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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I Kind of Am In It For the Money...

This is a bit of a rant, so be forewarned...

I am growing weary of seeing cutesy teachery sayings all over the internet that try to convince me my low pay is worth it.
You know, because of the kids.

Well, I gotta tell ya - I kinda am in it for the money.

I don't mean rock star money.

I mean a well educated professional with a ridiculous level of responsibility money.
I mean expected to keep children safe and possibly give up my own safety to do so money.

I'm not asking for much.  I have as much education as an attorney and at least as much responsibility.
I'm not even asking for that much money.

I'm just asking to make a living wage so I don't have to rob Peter to pay Paul every month.
Just normal living expenses, nothing extravagant.  You know, just food, shelter, basic clothing, possibly a little ice cream now and again.

And don't make me feel guilty when you do give me a raise and make it look like I'm stealing candy from a baby!
Don't tell me I shouldn't ask for more, because, really, it's for the children.

Why do folks find it so reprehensible to pay teachers an adequate wage?

Is it because there are so many of us?  If so many people are able to do it, it must not be that special?

Is it because everyone has been to school and it looks easy so it must be easy?

Is it because we put up with it and continue to work crazy long hours and do loads of extra work without demanding compensation?

Is it because simply screaming to the rooftops that we value children in our society doesn't really make it true?

Now, don't get me wrong - I do love my kids!  I take them home in my heart and in my head every single night.  They make me laugh and cringe and wonder and weep.  Helping kids learn is tons of fun and I will continue to teach because it is my career, my calling, my niche.
I love my job.
And my second job, which supplements the first job.

So, I won't be pinning the cute little sign that tells the world I don't value my job enough not to expect to be properly compensated for it.
I will not revel in the fact that I can work miracles with inadequate resources.
I will not use making a difference in children's lives as an excuse to accept low wages.

Because it is about the children.  Do we not value them enough to also value those who guide them, teach them, keep them safe?

Screaming to the rooftops that we value children in our society doesn't really make it true.
Sometimes you have to prove it.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Why We Didn't Take Our Math Test Today

There are some days that just defy all good sense, some days that go awry, and some days are like creepy crawly bugs - unpredictable and wiggly and a little funny looking.  

Missing part word problems are kinda hard.  We really have to think hard to figure those things out.  When we get it right and understand that math, our teacher gets pretty excited and sometimes she scoots around in that old, wooden rocking chair.  Sometimes a rung falls out of the bottom and she fixes it.  A lot.
And sometimes, (okay not sometimes - really just this once), the whole chair splits in half, collapses to the floor, and there is the teacher sitting in a pile of chair parts.

Some days you really discover where your brain is.  In a split second, when the adrenaline flows and your heart races and you discover that you are sprawled out in the floor in a pile of spindles and splintered wood, the first thing that comes to mind and flies out of your mouth is incredibly revealing.

 "I have a connection!!  I feel like Goldilocks!"

Thank goodness one of those naughty words didn't fly out.  I'm kind of fond of some of those words:)

No - the first place my teacher brain went was making a connection.  Those comprehension skills are so deeply embedded in my brain that they superceded naughty words!

I am Goldilocks!

 And they got it.  And we laughed.  And we didn't take our math test.
 But we sure know how to make a connection.  :)

Of course, after a wiggly, funny looking bug day happens, you can't just up and take a math test.
We'll save that for a plain ol' nobody laughs hysterically at the teacher for 20 minutes day.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Double Trouble

Have you ever read Two of Everything by Lili Toy Hong?
It is a Chinese folktale about a little old woman and a little old man who find a magic pot that doubles anything you put inside - including the little old man and woman!  

And it is a terrific resource for teaching the doubles strategy in math.  Whatever goes in the pot gets doubled when it comes out!

Today we put a set of cubes into our magic pots 
and we pulled out double!

I found these cute little 'cauldrons' after Halloween last year and snapped up a handful of them - they were perfect for this!
This was a such a quick and easy activity!  No prep, no copies - we just recorded what we did in our math journals.  And you gotta love easy peasy on the first day back after winter break:)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Re-establishing Routines and Procedures in January

Monday is staring me down.
Back to my classroom full of first graders.  Who have been out of school for 16 straight days.
Over two weeks of no structure, no expectations, no school rules!

So I'm going in like it's Day 1.  We're going to go over routines and procedures just like we did in September.  I  may take up a bit of time that first week back, but it will pay off in the long run:)

Here's how I teach procedures:
Never assume they know anything.  Model exactly the behavior you want.
Observe and Share
I ask the kids the watch what I do and be ready to share what they noticed.   I model the procedure exactly how I want the kids to do it and let the kids tell what they saw.  They will tell all (or most) of the important components of the procedure.  It is so much more meaningful when they discover it for themselves instead of listening to the teacher tell them how.
I model it again and name each step while I do it. 
Now I ask a couple of volunteers to show the class the procedure.  Again, I ask the kids to watch and notice.  The kids will share what they saw. 
This time I ask a group of kids to model the procedure.  Repeat the noticings and sharings.  I do this until everyone has had a chance to model and share.
Now the whole class will practice the procedure and debrief with what they did correctly and where there were shortcomings.

I am also going to use some journal prompts and a mini book I made to help kids write and draw about our classroom procedures.  I have posted it to TpT as a paid product, but I am offering it for free through Sunday so we can all go back stress free on Monday:)

I hope you can use it!

Also, don't forget about all the great management tools you get snag in this Educents deal!  16 items to help reorganize, redecorate, and gain control -over 600 pages for 10.99.

Grab the $10 off deal for signing up with Educents and you can get it for 99 cents!!!!
Here's the link for the $10 off deal:

Management, Décor, & Organization Oh My!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Cheap Resources on a Teacher's Budget

I don't know about you, but my budget is stretched 
thinner than a super model on a cleansing diet. 

I'm always looking for the best deal.
And a discount.
And a coupon code.
Or just free is good, too:)

So, of course I frequent TpT, TN, FB, blogs, etc. for ideas, freebies, and links to cheap stuff.

Well, one of my go to places recently is Educents.
They offer all sorts of educational products at crazy discounts and very often they have several downloadable resources for free.  Not only have I been able to benefit from some of their amazing deals, I have also been able to participate as a seller and contribute some of my products as part of Educents bundles.

Now for the coolest deal I've seen yet-
Educents is offering $10 off your first order!  That means some of the already discounted products are 10 bucks cheaper.  All you have to do is click on this link:

You sign up, get your $10 off and pick up a cool new resource.
Easy Peasy:)  And that super model budget is preserved!

So, now for my shameless plug!
I am participating in this bundle and you can grab $46.00 worth of resources for a cool 99 cents:)
Management, Décor, & Organization Oh My!

Now, for a little CONTEST!  If you sign up for Educents and get your $10 voucher, comment below.  On Monday, January 13th I will choose a winner to choose a couple of items from my store :)

If you get your voucher and pick up the behavior management packet for 99 cents or if you already bought the pack, comment below and I will choose another winner to either choose an item form my store or I can customize your Take A Break packet to color coordinate with your classroom!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Time to Rejuvenate Your Room!

Time for New Year's Resolutions!
Okay, so who am I kidding, I never make or keep resolutions! :)
But this year, I think I am going to make a few classroom resolutions.
A sort of January Jump Start.
Room Rejuvenation.
Classroom Reboot.

Resolution #1  Review, reteach, clarify, model, demonstrate, and practice classroom procedures and routines.  And then do it again!  I need things to run smoothly in the long stretch between January and spring break:)  The kids need to know exactly what is expected of them and exactly what the procedures are so we can cruise through our day without me having to explain every day how to get a pencil, where to put the papers, or how the tape player works.

Resolution #2  Organize!  I must get a better plan for keeping all of my records straight!   I feel like I have a great system set up for stations and rotations, lessons and transitions are pretty smooth, and materials are well organized.  But the paperwork - Geez Louise I cannot keep up!   I need binders:)

Resolution #3  Spruce things up a bit.  The room looked great in August, but things are getting a little tired looking.  Time to tidy up, put some things away, and revamp a few things.  My helper chart isn't working all that well and it's a little old and frayed so it must go!

While doing this, I thought surely other teachers are doing the same thing, so some friends and I got together to offer you this amazing bundle for you to quickly and easily make some changes!  

I am excited about this bundle because it includes new management techniques, behavior interventions, decor, forms, and all sorts of other organizational must haves!  It's only $10.99 and includes over 600 pages of items that can be quickly and easily implemented when you return to your classroom.
(AND, if you use the code EXTRA20, you get an additional 20% off!)

  I have included my Take A Break pack in the bundle. 

But this is just one product from the bundle.  There are 14 others!  Here's a quick peek, but you can surely head over the Educents post to read about each one!

And there's' MORE:)
Comment below one thing you want to change in your classroom and be entered to win one additional product from the listed participating stores!  {Oh you can pin something too for an extra entry!}

Enjoy the rest of your holiday!  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Educents Blog Hop and A Giveaway

How does 20+ fabulous first and second grade products
containing 982 pages worth $115 for only $30 sound?
And use the coupon code EDUCENTS20 for an 

Sounds like a deal!

I am very excited to be a part of the bundle with Educents! I know you will love these Addition and Subtraction Strategy Sorts.  It not only helps kids choose a useful strategy, it gives them the tools to use the strategy to solve the problem.

Finding the solution to each problem is not the primary goal of this activity.  At least not initially.
This set helps kids determine which addition or subtraction strategy will help them solve computation problems.  Determining which strategy best fits the problem is an important skill to learn without being encumbered with the actual computation.

Once this skill is mastered, then the computation can be thrown in to help the actual use of the strategy.

Both sets are included in the bundle!

Here are a few sample pages...


There are many other products in our bundle to get your kids learning!  
Centers, printables, vocabulary, book studies, interactive notebooking and so much more!

Click on the button below to see another fabulous product from the bundle!

First Grade Buddies
But that's not all!   Since you are on my blog I would like to give you a chance to win a little something extra for free!  Please see below to enter to win any two items from my store and a FABULOUS pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies!  Good luck!

The deal won't last long so head over now!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Even Middle School Boys Notice!

I know there have been some vocal attacks on 'cute' in the online education community lately.  I think some of the opponents of 'cute' assume that cute and quality cannot coexist - that if teachers spend time and money creating a "cute" classroom- decorating, arranging, and organizing, then they must not spend any time or effort on creating quality planning and instruction.

Well, of course, this isn't true, and there are thousands of classrooms all over the world that prove quality instruction can take place in a beautiful space. And I truly feel that my students are better behaved and more relaxed when my classroom space is organized and attractive.  I am a firm believer that a tidy, organized space with a unified theme or color scheme has a wonderfully positive effect on classroom management and student behavior.

I have also heard some folks say that the kids don't notice anyway, they don't care, so why bother?  Well, if the kids don't care - I do:)  I have to spend most of our day in our classroom and I want it to be comfortable!

But, I decided to do a little informal survey anyway and I figured I couldn't find more apathetic test subjects than middle school boys, so I asked my two older boys (6th and 7th grade) what they thought.

They both said they appreciated it when their teachers took time to decorate their classrooms.  My 7th grader said a clean, put together classroom made him feel like the teacher wasn't going to waste any time looking for stuff and it showed that the teacher cared about her things.  The 6th grader said he felt calmer and happier in a space that was decorated nicely and wasn't too busy with lots of different colors and patterns and posters, etc.  They both said it helped them get to know their teacher better because they could usually get a feel for her style right away.

Wow.  I must say I was a bit shocked.  I thought they didn't care.
On the other hand, they have helped me clean and prepare my classroom every summer since they were young so they're not objective observers, I suppose.

And speaking of middle school...
I attended my sons' Back to School night last week and was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the 6th grade English class!  Just look at her lovely space-

The IB Learner Profile board

Waiting for fabulous student work...

Love the curtain to hide the clutter and wires:) 

The theme for the year - Change.
Isn't it beautiful?
And, yes, my son did notice and he did appreciate it:)
Not that he loves or appreciates the effort of his other teachers any less!

At any rate, I know it isn't for everyone, but I enjoy organizing and decorating my classroom space:)
I STILL don't have photos for my room tour yet, but here are a few photos I managed to snap...

Wish Garden
This is my "Wish Garden" that I put out during orientation, Back to School Night, and Parent/Teacher Conference night.  The cards are attached to pencils and stuck into a container full of rice.  The family just "picks" a flower with an item they want to donate and the child gets to keep the pencil:)

Take A Break Station
This area continues to evolve and this is what I've come up with this year.

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