Sunday, February 24, 2013

Flash Sale - Greek and Latin Roots 50% Off

I got feedback today on one of my Greek and Latin roots sets that the person wished it was less expensive. Now, it is only $5 which I consider a bargain for five weeks of vocabulary, but I also remember a time (not too long ago) when $5 was... a lot of money to spend on something for my classroom. (Yep, things can get that tight.)

So, as a thank you to everyone who has purchased from me in the past few months I am having a flash sale of everything Greek and Latin in my store :). All four of the vocabulary sets and the word walls are 50% off until 10pm tonight.

<a href="">Visit My Store Here!</a

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Middle School Product Linky Party - Freebies and Paid Products

Share products that will be helpful for other middle school teachers this week! Please make your first product free and your second product can be a paid product. Share as much as you like, but stick with this pattern :).

Teachers pay Teachers vs. Teacher's Notebook

I am thinking about starting a store at Teacher's Notebook, but I really don't know anything about it. I looked on Facebook and TpT has about 46,000 likes while TN has 4,000 likes. This would suggest that Teacher's Notebook has fewer participants, but how many fewer? In the TpT Newsletter a couple of weeks ago Paul said that 171,000 teachers joined in January and half of February. The difference between the hundreds of thousands of teachers on TpT and the 46,000 likes on Facebook is pretty big. So, maybe the 4,000 teachers on TN is hiding tens of thousands of teachers on the website.

You can have a free store on TN and still get 75% of your sales which isn't bad so I think I will start a free store and see what happens.

Do you participate on TN? What do you think? I know a lot of other TpT sellers are curious about this too so please share freely :).

Friday, February 22, 2013

I Think I Invented Something New on TpT!

A couple of months ago (maybe a few weeks ago - time is very fluid for me right now) I was reading all these posts about people asking other people to pin for them because they were very close to their goals. Now, I know some people on TpT get annoyed by this, but I am all for it. It is all about getting new teachers to our stores, right? If someone asks me to pin for them I go to their store and if I see something I think is cool I pin it.

Anyway, I was thinking about these posts and thinking  about how I feel pressure to pin my products to all of the boards they apply to - but not all in one day because that annoys people too... That is when I got the idea for a pinning party. We could start a link where people actively look at other people's stores to pin for them.

I was a little nervous with all of the negative pinning threads going on, but I went for it. It turned out to be really fun and pretty popular.

Now, anytime I look at the promotions board on the TpT forums I see someone suggesting a pinning party. I think that is pretty cool!

Just had to share :).

Friday Freebie!

To celebrate the end of another successful week I am making one of my products free for the day.

This is one of my newest products for 3rd Grade Common Core. It is a reading passage on Blackbeard the pirate with corresponding questions.

This products is based on CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.1 (Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.)


The freebie is down now; I hope everyone that dowloaded it enjoys it!

You can still buy the product here...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Common Core - Coming to a School Near Me

Washington State will be adopting Common Core officially (with state testing) for the 2014-2015 school year.

Currently 45 states (and the District of Columbia) have adopted Common Core. This count includes states who are not currently using the Common Core, but have a plan in place - like Washington State. States who have not yet adopted Common Core include: Texas, Alaska, Michigan, Virginia, and Nebraska.

What I love about this is that all teachers across the United States will be working from the same standards. This means that if I take the time to align all of my lessons on Teachers pay Teachers teachers all across the country will be easily able to use them in their classrooms.

Do I think that Common Core will make us better teachers or students better learners? Not so much. I believe that a good teacher covers what students need to know to be successful in life and in the next grade. It doesn't matter if they are using Common Core or not.

I do think Common Core will make it easier to compare the educational systems within states. Since we are all supposed to be teaching the same things it will be easier to see who is doing it well and who isn't. Getting data from all over the country will help everyone see what is working and what isn't. This, in theory, should make our educational system better.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Learning to Read and Write

There is one thing that I do love about teaching middle school - all of the students know how to read and write (well, for the most part).

I have always been mystified about how kindergarten and first grade teachers get students to that beginning level of reading and writing. It was not covered at all in my Masters program and as a science major in college I didn't take any classes on it then either. I have always realized that K-2 probably wasn't a good fit for me because I can't imagine being that responsible for a child's future education.

Well, now I have my own little five year old and I am doing the very thing I have feared for so long - teaching someone the basics of reading and writing. I am by no means doing it alone - she goes to preschool - or even the right way for all I can tell, but we are doing it nonetheless.

I feel that right now she is on the cusp of reading which is amazing to see. Kids' memories are incredible! While I know she isn't actually reading yet she can recite a whole long list of books at our house. I know that she is getting closer to reading because she can find the first letter of a word and make a really good guess as to what it is based on the picture and context of the story.

We did have one little problem earlier this week with the letter S. She just could not write it, despite the fact that I know she has written it in the past. Anyway, it just wasn't happening, they kept coming out looking like funky threes.

She was getting frustrated and I was getting frustrated - it was not a good situation. So, we let it go and did something else for a while.

I am guessing that this is how it goes for everyone during this important learning time - two steps forward, one step back...

I don't mind the occasional bumps in the road as long as we keep trying. After all, with something as important as reading and writing giving up is not an option :).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Crestline Fire and Teachers pay Teachers

A couple of weeks ago (the morning of the Super Bowl) an elementary school in my district was destroyed by fire - literally nothing was left. The good news was that no one was hurt - the fire took place at about three in the morning. The bad news was - well, that a school was just gone.

Take a minute and think about what it would mean if everything in your classroom was gone overnight.

There is more good news, however. Not only has our district and the local community been amazing (the kids were back to new classes and classrooms on the Wednesday after the fire), but once again the Teachers pay Teachers community really stepped up.

I am constantly reminded of what an awesome "place" TpT is. The teacher-sellers on the site really are the best of the best. Everyone goes above and beyond and is so generous - not only when there is a disaster like the fire or Hurricane Sandy, but with their time and knowledge every day.

Here are some particular rock stars who jumped at the chance to help our Crestline teachers:

See what I mean about amazing?!

Here are some blogs, stores, and products these great teachers have chosen to share with you...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Greek and Latin Roots

I am working on word walls for my Greek and Latin Root Sets. My first world wall included the root word plus about five words built from the root along with their definitions. With 25 roots in each set this took a very, very long time to complete. As a result I didn't work on the rest of the sets for a long time.

I decided that it was important to offer the word walls, but to save my sanity I am not including the definitions of each word based on a root. Instead, I offer more words for each root (around 6).

I think there are benefits to both walls (with definitions and without), but what do you think? Do you use definitions on your word walls? Would you buy the set without the definitions?

Your thoughts are really appreciated - in fact I will anyone who comments on this 2 sets of both my Greek and Latin Roots Worksheets and Quizzes and the corresponding word walls.

President's Day

Happy President's Day, everyone! Did you know that President's Day was really on created to celebrate George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, both of whom have birthdays in February?

President Nixon, of all people, began celebrating it as a day for all presidents.

You can learn more about President's Day with my Differentiated Grammar Package - although it is focused on grammar every sentence I use contains some new information about President's Day and the two presidents it celebrates.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

How Often Should a Teacher Contact Parents?

This is something I often wonder, both as a teacher and as a parent.

As a teacher I like to contact my students' parents as much as possible - to share good news as well as troubles in class. One of my goals this year was to contact parents at least twice a month. (I am only teaching one class so I have about 25 students instead of closer to 100 so this is a reasonable goal, I think.) If you could general communications to all parents then I am doing pretty well. Of course there are some parents I contact much more often than twice a month.

I do wonder though if I am annoying parents by being so quick to pick up the phone or send an e-mail. I know that as a parent I welcome any communication from my daughters' teachers. I want to know exactly what is happening in class and what I can be working on at home.

I was at a play date with another mother from my daughters' class and she basically said the same thing. In fact, she was wondering why she wasn't hearing more from the teacher.

So, it seems like parents like communication from teachers. However, I still have children in preschool, maybe by the time they get to middle school I will feel differently...

I would love to hear some opinions on this. Am I contacting parents too much, not enough or just right?

President Obama Plans to Increase Preschool Opportunities

President Obama knows how important preschool is for underprivileged children. This is not just an education issue, but an important economic issue as well. Studies suggest that for every dollar spent on preschool there are between $7 and $10 in savings. How can we not make this investment with a return like that?

It does turn out that the preschool advantage is pretty specific to underprivileged children. That is to say that children from wealthy or even upper middle class families do not benefit as much from preschool. This is because they are already getting a lot of the skills taught in preschool at home. It is also true that the positive affects of preschool tend to diminish over time. Some Republicans point to this fact as a reason not to invest in early childhood education. I, however, believe that this is just a sign that more needs to be done continuously to help students keep the gains they made in preschool. One or two years in a high quality preschool program will not stop the poverty cycle alone, but it is a great start.

What do you think? Should we invest in preschool for our underprivileged children? Do you believe that preschool can make a difference?

Share your thoughts! This is one of my favorite subjects and I can't wait to hear what you think (even if you respectfully disagree :)).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Finally back!

Hello loyal readers!

I can't believe you have stuck with me this long! Here is the short version of what happened: computer got sick and wouldn't work, luckily it was still under warranty so I bundled it up and sent it to Texas - for three weeks! As soon as I got the message it was on its way back I was tracking it like a madwoman. Today I got home from school to see a note on my door - they tried to deliver it today, but couldn't leave it without a signature so they will be back tomorrow.

Nope - I was not going to let that happen. I basically stalked my computer to the depot where it was sent out of this morning - drove 45 minutes to get there (getting lost a couple of times) and was lucky enough to have someone still there 30 minutes after closing time.

All I can say is thank goodness my baby is home!

I have so much to share, but I am in desperate need of sleep right now - just had to share that I am still here!