Writing my way through the school year!

Archive for September, 2011

The Best Things in Life are FREE!

Teachers don’t make much money, correct?  It’s common knowledge that we are one of the hardest working professions, make very little money, and yet , we have a high level of “out-of-pocket” expenses.  That’s why I (and probably every teacher I know), love it when someone comes out with a Fun Resource that Entertains and Engages,(FREE) ! Get it?

However, what irks, and disappoints, me are the companies who provide you with a free tool when they first enter the market.   They reel you in and you  use their products for an entire school year, loving every minute of it.  Finally, you get to the “How could I teach without this? point, and then BAM! They want you to pay! And yes, I’m calling two of  them out, Voki and Glogster! I fell in love with these tools and they became an integral part of my classroom. At least I had a warning with Glogster, (not that it made any difference), but Voki, good gosh! That one really upset me, because I used those cute little Avatars for everything last year!

Isn’t there another way? Couldn’t they be a little less expensive? And I’m already way ahead of them on solutions to affordability.

“Write a grant” they say.  Grant writing is a timely process and just like money, that’s not something I have a lot of!

“Ask your district”, they say, and to this I say, “Hah!” No, I say, “Hah, Hah!!”

“JUST $29.95 a year!” Well imagine if I pay every company for the tool I enjoy using $29.95 a year every year! Do the Math…

“We have the free version”, and the free version sucksess-fully keeps me from giving 20+ kids what they really need.

I know, it’s their companies and they have the right to charge and make a profit, it’s the American way! I  am also aware that I do not have to purchase the product or tool. But understand this, I am one of those teachers.  That teacher that is going to dig among the lint in his/her pocket, swipe that card, and buy that product, in order to offer my students the education I would give my own children. A lot of us are, and maybe that’s why many of these companies start charging after they gauge how many of us would pay.

But, enough venting, I end with a special shout-out, “Woo-hoo” to all those companies, (You know who you are), that offer teachers tools that are still free, (or even give a free version that’s doable), you are appreciated!:)

“Glad You Could Make It!” Open House Happiness!

It’s the little things.

Monday was Open House. It went very well, I had a great turnout! Only three parents didn’t make it.  I give credit for the huge turnout to the cute little invite I send home with magnet tape on the back and the words, “Stick this on your refrigerator”, the raffle (items I find around the classroom), and my new friend Remind101.  But that’s not why I’m writing this post.

A colleague of mine gave me this idea. It’s a single sheet of paper divided into two.  The title reads “Glad You Could Make It”.  At the top the students write to their parents.  The students took their time and wrote a heartfelt message to their parents. The one I saw the most was, “Look at my work!”   At the bottom, the parents respond to their child.

In the morning, the kids read what their parents wrote. Every parent responded!  I have to admit it, I took a peek  at the ones that were left face up on the desks. What a mixture of messages;  “I am proud of you”,  “The sky is the limit” , “I loved your work”, and of course, my favorite, “Your teacher seems nice.” 🙂

I allowed my students to share their letters during Morning Meeting.  The pride and love they felt reading the responses from their parents enveloped our circle.  I hope they treasure these letters.

A simple sheet of paper. It’s the little things.:)  GLAD YOU COULD MAKE IT LETTER TO PARENT

When is a PLC, not a PLC?

As I have mentioned many times before, I went to the PLCSummit 2011 in Arizona, and became enlightened about what a PLC school really “looked” like. My former principal allowed us to come back and share what we learned with our teams and the staff. As we continued through the year, I felt really good about what we are doing, and how we were doing it.

However, with our new administrator,  I question the validity of our PLC, it seems we have taken a step backwards.  We have been assured that if we have concerns, we should let them be known, but I wanted to check with my PLC PLN, before I made that move, to see if my concerns had any validity. Below is a list of changes to our PLC that have me concerned. I know every principal is different, so maybe her format is different, yet still adheres to the basic tents of PLC. Help a teacher out, and let me know what you think!

  1. We have not met as a team to plan during one of our PLC meetings so far. Our PLC meetings have been used as “workshops” for various school issues.(i.e. DPAS training)
  2. At our last PLC meeting, she attended with a list of “Reflection” questions. (School started Aug.29)When asked what our needs were, we responded “time to plan.”
  3. A calendar for the school year, that tells us what subject we can talk about, and at what meetings we can talk about them.
  4. We were told what our SMART goals were (Do other schools use this?), Reading and Math, and as I stated above, at which meetings these topics will be addressed.
  5. Every PLC meeting will have a Reading coach, Math coach, or principal present for “support.”
  6. As we meet, what we say is written on an Ipad. (If my former principal attended, he took notes on ideas he felt he could share with the staff)

I watched the PLC videos, and it was run by the teachers, and they were doing an excellent job! I felt that we were moving towards that last year, and now I feel stifled. I would love some feedback and/or from teachers who are in PLC schools, just to see if my concerns are really something I should worry about. Thanks!

TeachHub Monthly Classroom Projector Giveaway!

We teachers are always looking for a way to get tech tools for free! Actually, anything for free. 🙂

Well TeachHub has decided to help us out!  They are conducting a monthly contest where each winner will receive a ViewSonic DLP Projector.  This projector is a powerful little projector that’s ideal for classrooms and school use!

To Enter:

Sign up as a TeachHub member.

If you are already a member, just sign in!

Then simply complete the form on the Classroom Projector Giveaway Page!


1st deadline: Monday, September 26, 2011 at 12p.m. CST 
2nd deadline: Monday, October 24, 2011 at 12p.m. CST 
3rd deadline: Monday, November 14, 2011 at 12p.m. CST

Winners will be randomly chosen from all entries 
and announced the week of the deadline date. Good Luck!

The Cheerful Teacher -Staying Away from the Dark Side!

The Cheerful Teacher!

I am ashamed to write this. Ashamed that I behaved in this manner years ago.

Back in the 80’s, we had a teacher in our school who was always smiling. She smiled all the time.  I always wondered why she was  so cheerful. Didn’t she realize how annoying she was? Didn’t she realize that people had problems? To put an end to her everlasting cheerfulness,  a colleague and I decided we were going to “get her.” We were in the grade below her, and we decided we were going to put the worst kids in her class, and force her to stop being so cheerful.

Well, our plan didn’t work, she still smiled, and she continued to annoy me until she moved out of the state.

Fast forward twenty + years. I am now the cheerful teacher.  I am the teacher who is always smiling, no matter how “bad” my kids are.  I am the positive, (most of the time), one who tries to make the best of a bad situation. I am the one greeting students and staff alike with a cheerful “Good Morning”, even if I don’t receive a response.

I am not the only cheerful one in my school, there are a few of us. I am sure there are teachers who find us annoying, as I did that teacher from long ago. We have been asked why we are so cheerful. They have tried repeatedly to drag us to the dark side, but we continue to go towards the light.:)

I can’t tell you when my attitude changed. I just know that noone wants to spend 6 1/2 hours a day with a miserable person. I thought about my own children being stuck with a teacher like that.  In this climate of teacher-bashing, it can be difficult to remain positive.

In the years that I have been teaching I have had my share of personal problems, but I have not let them affect the way I treat my students.  I have experienced divorce, death of a parent, and illness. I have not allowed any of these issues to treat my students with any less respect and love than I was used to giving.  As a matter of fact, being around my students caused me to be sucked into their world, and to forget about mine for a little while.

Am I perfect? No! Do I have a grin plastered on my face all day? No!

But I do laugh, smile, and compliment our kids every chance I get. Wherever that teacher is from long ago, I hope she is still smiling.  I wish I could tell her I have joined the ranks of the cheerful teacher and that I am never going over to the dark side again! 🙂

“Word of Mouth” Tech Tools and Resources #2

I’ve decided that every 5 new tools I “discover”, I will not only post them on my blog, but I will also update my “Word of Mouth” Livebinder.  Hopefully, some of these tools will be useful to you as well.

Children’s Books Forever! – I found this one on ilearn Technology, always a great source for the coolest sites ever! Those of you with IWBs will love this site. Digital  FREE childrens books, classics and favorites, that can be viewed on IWBs, Powerpoints, or overhead projectors.  The quality of these books is not shabby either! I already sent the link to the lower grades in my school.

National Archives Experience- Digital Vaults –  (iLearn Technology) Do you teach SS?  Are you always in need of primary sources? All I can say is Wow! I am teaching the Civil War and I got lost in this site and what you can do with it. If you want to make history rea,l utilizing primary sources, this site is it. It’s a digital vault that you can control, you can choose the pics you want and then create a poster or movie. Excellent site!

Reading Rewards.com – (Edmodo community) I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand Reading logs. “Read for 20 minutes and write it down.” BORING! Here is a way to spice up your reading logs, it’s gone digital! And it’s not just a Reading log, they have social networking, K-12 Teacher Tools, and Reading Rewards!

thatquiz – (HP TeacherExchange) – Math test activities for students and teachers. Online interactive quizzes in a number of subjects.You can set up a class home page and administer your tests from there, or give the students the test code of the assigned test. You can create your own tests; matching, multiple choice , and slides.

Bizworld:The Bizworld Foundation (Sean Murray) I learned about this from one of my readers, the Education Coordinator for Bizworld.  If you are looking for a program that provides real world financial literacy and entrepreneurship, this is it! It’s for grades 3-8, and it’s broken down into three kits, BizWorld,  BizWiz, and  BizMovie.  Each kit provides the kids hands-on activities to promote that goal, and it looks like a lot of fun!  BizWorld focuses on business and enterpreneurship, BizWiz, money management, and BizMovie, technology and entrepreneurship. I am excited about using  BizWiz with my class this year!

“Word of Mouth” Livebinder

“Number One Teacher” – A Poem for THAT Teacher!

I found this in my piles of ‘teacher stuff”, I think one of my students gave it to me.  It’s on pretty stationary and laminated.:) I don’t know the author, but it’s a great poem, dedicated to teachers.   I dedicate this to all the hard-working teachers returning to work!

Number One Teacher

I’m happy you’re my teacher;

I enjoy each lesson you teach.

As my role model you inspire me.

To dream and to work and to reach.

With your kindness you get my attention;

Every day you are planting a seed

Of curiosity and motivation

To know and grow and succeed.

You help me fill my potential;

I’m thankful for all that you’ve done.

I admire you each day, and I just want to say,

As a teacher, you’re number one!

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