Thursday, July 17, 2014

School Is Sneaking Up On Me… and the Indiana Dollar Sale!

Is it just me, or is this summer going WAY too fast? I just got back from a trip (recap to come!) and suddenly it feels like I need to be getting ready for back-to-school already. I only have about a month until we go back- and that includes moving into my new room, going through all of the resources left in my room by the last teacher, getting a handle on my new curriculum, and our August PD and teacher work days!

Did I mention my new room currently looks like this?

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YIKES. And that’s before I move in ANY of my own stuff!

So, as I start thinking about next year and the things I’ll need, I’m checking out the Indiana Teachers’ Christmas in July sale. Yes, I know a lot of people are doing a sale right now, but this one is as easy as Dollar Tree or the Target Dollar Spot.

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C’mon teachers- you all know how easy it is to fill up your cart with back-to-school stuff when it’s all $1 : )

Some of my FAVORITE blogger/sellers have marked down over 100 resources to just ONE DOLLAR for today only. I have found some awesome things to make back-to-school a little less “omgoodness-it’s-only-a-month-away?!” scary… and I hope you do too!

Here are my items on sale:

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An Exclamation Mark Mini- Unit centered around one of my FAVORITE back to school books- including a craftivity, differentiated writing prompts, two flipbooks, and a page to break down the puns in the book, too!

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Nonsense Word Context Clues- a pack that uses nonsense words to teach the skill of using context clues to find the meaning of an unknown word. The “silly” words make it fun and make sure that EVERY student in your class is truly practicing the skill.

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Sweet or Sour? A Game for Reading Multisyllabic Words with Prefixes- one in my series of games to help second/ third graders transition from applying decoding rules to monosyllabic words to those “bigger” words. The words are spaced to help students practice “chunking” them into smaller pieces, and the game element makes it fun!

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Turn the Question Around- One of my most popular resources on TpT! Perfect for teaching kids to write in complete sentences. I ALWAYS use this during the first week of school because it allows me to get to know my students while also giving them pressure-free practice with QUITA, or putting the question in the answer. Teaching them this strategy EARLY saves me so much frustration later!

For today only, all of these are just ONE DOLLAR… and so are the resources below!

 

Thanks for checking them out : )  When do you go back to school?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top 10 Tips for Landing a Teaching Job

Since graduating college 5 years ago, I have searched for a teaching job three times- once out of college, again after a Reduction in Force, and finally when my husband landed a job out-of-state. The job search process can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 10 tips for landing a teaching job!

Top Tips for Landing a Teaching Job- Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

1) Build and use connections.
I can’t tell you how many times a position in my school was posted as “available,” but the principal really had someone in mind already. Usually, this person was a substitute teacher, a paraprofessional, a student teacher, or a volunteer that the school staff knows and loves already. Whenever possible, find a way to spend time in the school and network so you can be that “in” person!

2) Aim for professionalism everywhere- including online.
Administrators are looking to hire education professionals. Be sure that you make the best impression possible- from your interview attire, to your resume’, to your social media profiles and postings. Professionalism alone won’t win you the job, but a lack of professionalism can make you lose it.

3) Find a proofreader.
When a principal hires someone to teach spelling and grammar, they are looking for someone who can demonstrate it. In a stack of resumes, would you put one on top that says “alot” as one word? A computer spell checker is not enough. Ask a friend to double-check your application materials, especially your resume and cover letter.

Setting up for a Teacher Job Search- from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

4) Organize your job search materials- both physical and digital!
Most teacher job applications ask for your resume, a letter of interest, letters of recommendation, your transcript, and your educator license. I kept important original documents in one folder, made extra copies of everything, and scanned everything I thought I might need digitally. I put every digital file into a designated job search folder, so I was never searching my computer to find the right file. When I started looking, I also created a job hunt bag for my physical portfolio, copies of my resume, letters of recommendation, etc. It was all in one place, ready for an interview at a moment’s notice.

5) Search online…
Use the Internet to your advantage. Find teacher job search platforms (such as K12JobSpot.com and SchoolSpring.com), but be sure you also check the website for the state Department of Education and the websites of your local districts. I made a bookmarks folder on my computer to make it much quicker to check these every day. [You can read more about job search organization here.]

6) … and go in person!
Although digital application platforms can be efficient, a personal touch can make a huge difference. I like to stop by schools (dressed in a suit) and ask if I can introduce myself to the principal. Even if I can’t, I drop off a physical copy of my resume’ if they’ll take it, and I am sure to be very polite to anyone I see! (Sometimes you may not meet a principal- but you want to make a good impression with the secretary, custodian, or whomever you meet!) Face-to-face can be the edge you need in a digital arena. Adding a handwritten thank you note after an interview can tip the scales in your favor, too.

7) Highlight your experience and strengths.
When you create a resume, letter of interest, and portfolio, give specific examples of extraordinary activities you have done. We all have taught lessons, given assessments, etc.- but what did you do that other teachers wouldn’t have done? The more specific you can be, the more you will stand out!

Teaching Portfolio from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

8) Use your portfolio in your interview.
Let’s face it- most principals and interview committees just don’t have time (or take time) to look through your portfolio. When I interviewed, I created a portfolio for myself to use as a prop. When the principal asked a question about my classroom management, I not only told her what I do, but I was able to show her as well. Visuals (especially photographs!) are incredibly effective in helping administrators imagine you teaching in their school. [Read more tips for making a teacher portfolio HERE.]

9) Do your research and show why you want THIS job, not just any job.
Even if you just plain need a job, take the time to research each school and district so that you can personalize your letter of interest and resume’ to match. Ask an example- if they’re an RTI school, mention your previous experience providing interventions for struggling students. Before an interview, this research can also help you come up with great questions to ask that show your interest in the job!

10) Make it “you”!
One time, I applied for a position and never heard back, even though a teacher in the district had personally recommended me. When he asked the principal, she told him there were over 400 applicants for a single position. In an applicant pool so large, you need to do something to make yourself stand out. When I dropped off my resume’ and materials to schools last fall, I placed them in these rainbow folders. Unconventional? Sure, but when a principal mentioned it at an interview, I knew showing a little personality had helped my resume’ stand out.

Job Search Tri-Folder from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

Sending a deluge of teaching applications with no response can be discouraging, but stick with it! Finding the right school that appreciates your talents and strengths is well worth it. Best of luck to you on your job search!

{Oh, and if it goes well? You may end up in a new position like me! This year I’ll be teaching 4th grade science and social studies! Excited to try something new!}

If you liked this post, you may also find other posts in my On the Hunt for a Teaching Job series helpful… and once you get the job, be sure to check out my series, I Just Got a Teaching Job, Now What?! Thanks for reading  : )

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bright Idea: Happy Journals

Time for a bright idea for teaching your students to be happier!

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A few years back, I worked with a student who was constantly negative. She would constantly tell me everything that had gone wrong with every day, and her very self-centered worldview made it hard for everything not to seem like some kind of personal injustice.

I worked with this student after school, and thankfully her parents understood that their child needed emotional support as much as she needed academic support.

I wanted to encourage some positive self-talk and giving the student an opportunity to reflect on the positive things going on in her day, so we created a Happy Journal!

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I gave her complete control over the cover. I drew “Happy Journal” on the cover to get her started, but otherwise I let her fill in pictures and words of things she loved, and a few stickers too. I wanted it to feel like HERS- and show all the things that made her happy.
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On the inside cover, I wrote her a personal note about the purpose of the journal. I’m an optimist at heart, and I truly believe in the power of forcing yourself to TRY to think positively, even when you don’t feel like it! Looking for the blessings is a powerful thing.
Every day, I asked her to write 3 positive things about her day or about life. Occasionally, she could even think of more.
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Having a reason to look for those good things (and meeting with someone to stay accountable) made a huge difference in this child.
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I wasn’t picky about spelling, punctuation, or even complete sentences- this was all about taking the time to notice good things in life. It also helped me (and her parents) to see some of the things that helped her mood.
After doing this as a sort of intervention for one student, I think that it would make a great end-of-the-day activity for ALL of my kids after they pack up for the day.
A Happy Journal made a huge difference for this girl. Hopefully, it’s an idea that could come in handy in your classroom, too!  : )
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to check out another Bright Ideas post on how I organize progress monitoring data and anecdotal notes. Please consider following me on Facebook, Instagram, and Bloglovin!
You can read lots more Bright Ideas for your classroom here. Be sure to check the grade level and topics!


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bright Ideas- Label Centers for Easy Setup

It’s that time again! Today I’m here to share a bright idea for labeling your centers to make them even easier and quicker to set up each week.

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I have a ton of “center” style activities. Even when I started using the Daily 5 in my classroom, I still used these a lot for Word Work, reviewing skills, small group focus lessons, and as fast finisher activities.

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When they come with a cover page or directions, I like to laminate it and tape it onto the front of a manila folder.  (A colleague of mine likes to laminate the whole manila folder and then use an X-acto knife to slice apart the opening which is even sturdier!)

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I also add a Velcro dot to the flap since the brad tends to wear out. Small pieces inside go in Ziploc bags to stay organized.

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This has worked really well for me, but I still have to open each center and re-read the directions each year to make sure I set out the right supplies. This year, I realized I could make that easier on myself.

Enter: washi tape! (easily removable, and also cute)

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With just a little tape and a Sharpie, I am labeling each center with the supplies students will need. I also put a C in a circle if I need to copy something, like a recording sheet.

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Now, when I get out a center, I don’t even have to open it to know exactly what I need to get out. At a glance, I can make sure a center is ready and kids won’t need to interrupt me.

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And the best part? I can gradually add these labels as I go through the year, so it doesn’t have to be a huge one-time project!

I love sharing ideas and resources from my classroom- so if you think you might be interested in more, please follow me on Bloglovin, Facebook, or Instagram : )

Do you love finding Bright Ideas for your classroom? Check out the link-up below to see over 100 posts from some amazing, creative bloggers. Every time we have this link-up, I stumble across an idea that makes my life so much easier- hope you do, too!


An InLinkz Link-up

Thanks for stopping by!


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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bright Ideas- Post-It Races

Sure, we’ve all used Post-Its, and loved them- but today I’m sharing a way to use Post-Its that you might not have tried before!

Welcome to the April edition of the Bright Ideas! As always, this link-up is meant to help you discover some amazingly simple, absolutely free ideas… and some awesome new blogs, too!

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Two years ago, my students were learning the names of the continents, and some were really struggling. Our map didn’t make it easy to read the continent names, so I made labels using Super Sticky Post-It Notes.



To practice identifying continents, we simply mixed up the Post-It notes and I challenged students to put them on correctly as quickly as they could. We called it the Post-It Place Race- and the idea could work for identifying continents, countries, states, etc.

This year, I started looking for ways to apply this kind of interactive practice with Post-Its in other ways. Some ideas:
  • matching vocabulary to definition
  • matching shape/ solid names to their pictures
  • matching color words to colors
  • matching number words to numerals
  • labeling parts of a book (cover, table of contents, title page, etc.)
  • labeling text features in non-fiction
  • labeling parts of a plant, cell, human body, etc. in science
  • labeling parts of a friendly letter
  • labeling or matching basic classroom nouns for ESL students
  • filling in “missing” spots on a hundreds chart or “missing” letters
  • ordering the days of the week, numbers, story sequences, etc.
  • fun test prep!
  • and… anything else you can think of!
This year I’m really enjoying using this strategy on an anchor chart- so it can hang in our room as a reference, but still be used for practice at a center, during whole group instruction/ review, or with small groups who need extra reinforcement of a concept.

I do recommend the Super Sticky notes because they tend to hold up a little better to repeated placing and removal : ) but other than that, the possibilities for this simple teaching strategy are endless!

I’d love to hear your ideas for using Post-It Place Races in your classroom!
Interested in more ideas to simplify, organize, and inspire your teaching? I’d love to connect with you on Bloglovin, Facebook, and Instagram : )

Make sure you browse the rest of the Bright Ideas Link Up below, too! 150 bloggers are sharing helpful ideas, labeled by title and grade level to help you find the perfect ones for YOUR classroom. Read, pin, and get inspired for the home stretch!


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring Blogger Meet-Up Hop!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting over 40 other teacher bloggers at  the beautiful French Lick Springs Hotel!
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I grew up in Indiana and I’d heard of French Lick, but I had no idea these historic resorts were so gorgeous! (And décor for our meet-up being sponsored by Schoolgirl Style didn’t hurt one bit!)
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The French Lick Springs Hotel and the West Baden Resort in French Lick are over 100 years old, and have been restored to look every bit as beautiful as when they were first built. The detail and feel of the place was incredible! I would love to go back for a weekend getaway!
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Even better than our beautiful surroundings, though, were the amazing teachers I met!
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Of course, I was thrilled to see some friends I had met at an Indiana blogger meet-up the year before…
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But I loved meeting more friends from Indiana (and nearby in the Midwest, like me) too! Here’s a shot of most of us after breakfast on Sunday.
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We gathered to share blogging tips, chat about teaching, and just plain have fun!
I got so much out of this! My top 3 takeaways:
  • Instagram (follow me here!) is a GREAT way to connect with other teachers and to let blog readers get to know your personal side! I am having so much fun taking snapshots of my days, but also seeing yours!
  • When it comes to blogging, set routines and stick to them. (Sounds simple, but it’s definitely an area where I need to improve!)
  • Be grateful. This year, I was so fortunate to get a teaching position. Even though I miss the classroom, hearing so many other teachers talk about the conditions in their schools (from 37 kindergarten students to a floundering new school to poverty and transiency and crazy co-workers)… well, let’s just say I came away grateful and renewed to love what I do and where I am right now!
After our lunch together, we had a teaching tool swap. Each blogger bought their favorite teaching tool! I brought some finger lights, like the ones in this picture…
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And received an amazing staple remover! If you have ever tried to use one of those claw staple removers on a bulletin board, you know how awful it is. But this one, being thin and smooth, easily slides under staples on a board and pulls them out seamlessly. I am so thankful that Stacey of Teaching Ever After thought to bring this to the meet-up!
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What’s even more amazing? Holly of Mrs.  Ehle’s Kindergarten Connections did an incredible job of organizing this blogger meet-up and rounding up donations from a cast of all-star sponsors!
There was a giveaway of amazing prizes- and I won some beautiful classroom décor items from Creative Teaching Press! I am so excited to get these laminated and look for ways to use them in my classrooms- especially the chevron nameplates in my favorite color (teal!) and the cute hexagon labels to keep me organized!
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We each came home with brand-new Scentos markers and pens (some of which haven’t even been released to the public yet, like these candy scented sets!)—and they smell so delicious! My students love them : )
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Kaeden Books sent a personalized sample of books for each attendee (even for someone like me, who teaches multiple grade levels!) A company that personalizes their donations for each attendee? I can only imagine what kind of personal attention you’d get if you were ordering for your school! (And the World War II graphic novel? AMAZING!)
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We were also lucky enough to pick up an Erin Condren gift card, Jamberry nail wrap samples from Holly, and some resources from Crayola and SDE, too!
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The Vera Bradley company was even kind enough to send a tote bag for EVERY person. Yeah, not even kidding. How generous of them to donate their beautiful bags! (And, let’s face it, what teacher doesn’t need more tote bags?)
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Thank you to Holly for all her hard work, and to all of the companies who sponsored our meet-up. I have been sharing everything I brought home with my colleagues, and I am simply amazed at your generosity!
Even better? Many of the companies who sponsored our meet-up are offering YOU a chance to win prizes, too! Look what you can win at the end of our hop! : )
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Okay, enough gushing—keep hopping and enter for YOUR chance to win all this and MORE! Next in the hop…
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Greg drove all the way up from Nashville to hang out with us, and he is every bit as personable and genuinely sweet in person as he seems on his blog!
Thanks for stopping by! Hop to Greg’s blog here: