Thursday, December 20, 2012

Clipboards Galore!

If there was ever a time where clipboards could be considered a trend it would be NOW. There are so many uses for clipboards in your classroom.

And they are cheap, cheap, cheap! You can get them at most places for a dollar. They come in a standard 8 1/2 x 11 and a mini version at most stores.

Here are my top 5 favorite things to do with clipboards!
(in no particular order)

1. A clipboard countdown

This site comes with free printables and a tutorial for the clipboard and the countdown numbers!

2. A classroom clock out clipboard

I fully support teaching children to read an analog clock but when it comes to having children sign in and out of the classroom they waste a lot of time staring up at that clock to figure out what time it is when they leave and come back. This clipboard solves it all - the digital time is right on the clipboard. 
At $13.29 this clipboard is a bit pricey. I'm sure you creative teachers out there can come up with a homemade solution ;) 

3. A way to display student work!

No more staples and pins. Just clip them on and clip them off!

4. Chalkboard clipboards!!!!

I love it when students have their own dry erase boards to participate in class with. But guess what..the boards are expensive or they are too cheap and get dirty and smudgy! The markers dry out wayyyyy too soon or the kids write so hard with them that the marker part disappears. So how about making a class set of chalkboards out of clipboards. Students can keep a few pieces of chalk at their desk. I imagine that is a much cheaper solution. Students can still use the board to clip papers on when doing work around the room. A multi-purpose board!

5. Gifts for teachers and friends

Get some scrapbook paper mod podge and you are in business!

If you are a teacher or a sub today is probably your last day until Winter Break. Congrats! You made it to 4:00! Enjoy your break and take these ideas with you!

My Substitute Teacher Behavior Plan

Coming into a classroom as a sub can be very scary. You don't know the type of group you are going to have. You don't know what the teacher's behavior plan is. You don't know if they have one at all! I have created a plan that starts from the moment the students enter your room until the moment they leave at the end of the day. So far it has worked wonderfully.

1. Get yourself some name tags. Walmart sells 50 in a pack for about a dollar. They are sticky so the children can stick them right on their shirts where you can see them.

It makes a day so much easier to be able to call a child by their name no matter where they are in the classroom. The first thing I do when I walk in a classroom is make the tags before the kids come in the room. It makes passing them out so much easier and its a simple way to take attendance...the tags you have left are your absent kids. You will waste a few tags here and there. Keep them for the day in case those kiddos come in late.

2. Tell students they must keep them on all day. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Here is where the behavior plan comes into play. I found that the moment a corner of the name sticker came off a child's shirt it drove them nuts and they voluntarily ripped it off and it was in the trash. This made it so I had no idea what the child's name was and had to waste more name tags. At the beginning of the day this is my speech to solve it all:
"Since you all have to remember one name (mine) and I have to remember all of yours I will be giving you these name tags. You must keep it on all day and where I can see it. At the end of the day I will be checking you before dismissal. If you still have it on AND you were well behaved you will get a reward. Depending on how good you are will depend on the size of your reward. If you aren't wearing your name tag at the end of the day, you will get nothing, no matter how well behaved you were."
Now the end of this may sound harsh but it works. Their eyes will light up at the chance at a reward and they are excited about the challenge to keep their name tag on all day. It gives them something they need to be responsible for and they have to be accountable. No tag = no reward.

3. My rewards. I stocked up on stickers, bookmarks, pencils, erasers...all sorts of goodies at Target, Goodwill, and the dollar store. Trust me the small price you will pay for all of these goodies pays off when you have mostly hassle free days as a sub. You can decide what are the big rewards and what are the small rewards.

4. Remind the students often throughout the day although they are all pretty good about remembering when a reward is at stake. I never tell the students what the rewards are that they are working toward. It keeps their day mysterious. You don't want to risk having a student say "I have to be good for WHAT? a sticker?! Forget it!!!!" Good luck to you keeping that class tamed!!!

Easy Time Fillers

Situation: You are in class and your students have finished their work and it is too early to start the next subject but you have nothing else for them to do. They are starting to become noisy and rowdy. You don't want a teacher or the principal to walk by your classroom and think you can't handle the classroom.

Solution: Easy time fillers that need little to no preparation.
1. Have students clean out their desks. Students desks will always need some straightening up and students are thrilled to be given time to do so.
2. Have students read quietly in their seats. Find a nice part of the room where you think a child would like to read and tell the class you will be looking for the quietest reader to sit there. You will be amazed at how quiet a room can get.
3. Give students a writing prompt. Give students a writing prompt. Simply write it on the board. It can have to do with what they are learning about, the season, or an upcoming holiday. I find students really enjoy ones they have to complete like "It was a snow day, we were sledding down the icy hill when all of a sudden...." Let students know the best workers will be able to share their work and you are guarenteed a quiet classroom.

These are just a few easy time fillers I have used in the classroom in every grade. It helps give you 15-20 minutes of quiet especially if you need time to set anything up for the following lessons.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Book Review

I recently posted about this book in a prior post.
I have been reading and highlighting, reading and highlighting every minute I've been free. I have about 4 chapters left but I couldn't wait to finish it to tell you how wonderful I think this book is. This book has insider tips, example answers to challenging interview questions, and provides the ins and outs of all kinds of interview structures and procedures.

Three things I have learned so far from this book:
1. In previous interviews, I wasn't answering questions with a student centered focus. I was just trying to impress the interviewer and hoping they would like me. 
2. Administrators and principals are not interviewing you to see if they like you to put you in their school. They are looking for the perfect fit to educate their students. 
3. My answers to questions in interviews were too short in my attempt not to ramble. 

I think any teacher trying to get a job in this tough market can walk away learning something from this book. (The author of this book has no idea who I am, I just really enjoyed learning so much and wanted to share!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Putting Students Into Groups

I was subbing and saw these on the teacher's desk. Brilliant. These grouping pencils have so many different ways to group students - from color of pencil, number, and shapes on the pencil's eraser. I did some googling and found them here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Classroom Full of Ideas

I subbed in a 2nd grade classroom this week and I fell in love with everything about this classroom. You can tell a lot about each teacher of the classroom you visit. I could tell this teacher was organized and created, shared, and used wonderful ideas to benefit her students. I took some pictures of some things I want to include in my future classroom.

Let's start from the moment I sat at the teacher's desk. The pink paper in the picture was a laminated piece of paper labeled "Substitute's Procedures". This gave me an idea of how an average day goes with key pieces of information. She answered questions I had such as, "Do I pick the kids up from recess?" and "What is her behavior plan?" 

 Her lesson plans were impeccable I could tell these were her daily plans not just ones for the sub but they were so detailed I could follow them with out a problem. I noticed something on the top of her typed lesson plans that the template was from 
I searched and this is a snip from their main page with the pros of using their site:
And it's only $12/year. Seems pretty reasonable! ( has no idea who I am I just really love this idea)

Moving on....

Behind her desk were bins label by each subject. In each bin held manuals, textbooks, and all the work for that day/week. This was a very accessible feature in the room and it prevents you from just having things pile up. Piles = yuck!!!


These drawers hold all the manipulatives that the children will need during math (base 10 blocks, coins, rulers, shapes, etc.) Instead of having a huge stash you need to distribute they have been per-distributed in each drawer. Each drawer is assigned a number and each child has an assigned number. This saves a lot of instructional time and there are no arguments because every child has their own stash and it is all labeled with THEIR number.

This is inside one of the drawers:

So great right?!

The final gem I will share is this table/shelf/podium on wheels. In most classrooms, instead of fumbling with workbooks and teacher's manuals I place them on a nearby table or projector. Two problems: 1. a table isn't movable and causes you to have to sit so you are close enough to see the print. 2. less and less classrooms have projectors and they are clunky. This table/desk hybrid was easy to lean on and place everything I needed. I was able to teach a lesson using base-10 blocks very easily and I could move around the room with all of my materials.

On days like this subbing really has it's benefits!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Closet Organization

I was searching around for some organizational ideas when I came across this. I was drawn to the organization tags.
These were made from a CD label template and glued to cardboard much like one from a cereal box. I loved the idea but wanted to change it up a bit. Instead of labeling my tags by day I wanted to label them by the type of garment (cardigan, shirts, dresses...). That is how I have my closet arranged already and I knew this would make searching through my closet that much easier. So I began crafting.

It was a little time consuming. I spent a long time trying to decide how I wanted to design my tags. This was well worth it. It will take less time finding clothes in the morning as well as less time keeping my closet organized when putting laundry away.

Helpful Tips:
~ I used Microsoft Word and opened a template for a CD label.
~ I found my own designs I wanted and saved them to my computer and inserted them as a picture onto the labels.
~ I printed on regular printer paper.
~ I cut a slit in the bottom to get it to fit over the bar.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Commonly Asked Interview Questions For Teachers

 Preparing for an interview can be a task among itself and sometimes more stressful than the actual interview. Here are some commonly asked interview questions.

Getting to know you:
Why did you choose this profession as a career?
What makes you the best candidate for this position?
What research have you done about our school?
Describe a personal experience which had an impact on your teaching?
What are your interests outside teaching?
What would you like us to know about you?
Interpersonal Skills:
If I spoke with your students, cooperating teacher, university supervisor, principal, colleagues, or friends, what three words would they use to describe you?
How would you facilitate collaboration between home and school?
If confronted by an angry parent (colleague) on an issue, how would you respond?
How would your students know that you genuinely care about them?
How important is it for you to be well liked by your students?
How would you respond to a student who asked you for your advice on a difficult personal situation?
Describe a typical class period.
What instructional strategies have you found most effective?
What are the components of an effective lesson plan?
Describe a lesson which was particularly successful by walking me through each stage from planning through delivery.
Explain what a strong balanced literary program would look like in your classroom.
What research-based teaching strategies have you used?
What specific strategies would you use to assist students who are struggling in reading and math?
Describe how you have differentiated a lesson to accommodate varying student needs?
What would you do to actively engage your students?
What do you do when you see some students are not learning?
How would you motivate the reluctant learner?
What would you do with students who fail continually to complete homework?
How do you measure student success?
What would you do to improve student achievement?
How do you know whether your curriculum is appropriately matched to your students’ needs?
Classroom Management
What type of classroom management plan would you implement?
How would you set up a student management system?
How do you handle children who are difficult to manage?
Describe the toughest discipline situation you encountered and how you handled it.
If you were having classroom management difficulties, when and who would you ask for help?
During your student teaching experience what did you find most challenging?
Describe a time that you were in a difficult situation and explain how you resolved it?
If you were doing something for students that you knew was right and your principal told you to stop, what would you do?
Tell me a story from your experience that keeps you up at night.
Describe in detail your best and worst days in a classroom.
Describe the best lesson you ever taught and explain why it was great.
Describe a challenge you encountered during student teaching. What did you learn from it?
What are your long term goals?
What new ideas would you bring to our school?
Give an example of a time you went above and beyond to accomplish a task.
What does loyalty mean to you?
Is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you were hoping I would?
Questions to ask:
Do you provide a mentoring program?
How does the school district support professional development?
How are parents involved in the school?

December is here!

It's the most wonderful time of the year. A time when no one should be in a bad mood. Here are some things I'm happy about for December.

1. Christmas Decorations. I found so many cute things at the dollar store!

2. Holiday Drinks. This Gingerbread Cookie Martini is from Outback Steakhouse. I also love a good Starbuck's Peppermint Mocha.

3. Holiday Nails. I found this cute Christmas sweater print at Five Below. This is the Sally Hansen Salon Effects Real Nail Polish Strips. They can normally run anywhere from $8-$12 dollars a box depending on where you go but at Five Below I got it for well, below $5. Instead of doing all my nails I just did my ring finger. That way the box will last me through December. (That great saving tip was given to me by my best friend, Rachael)

4. Deals, Deals, Deals. I got these Target Merona Flats brand spankin new at Goodwill for $8.

Starbucks currently has a promotion if you buy 5 of their delicious holiday drinks you will get one free in January.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dollar Store Lovin'

If you are a substitute teacher or a new teacher, you are probably broke and trying to stretch every paycheck. I'm with you and that is why I have fallen in love with the dollar store. Did you know that most of the products at the dollar store are priced at 70% less than drugstores and super markets?! Now some things are worth buying and some are not. I've done some research and compiled a list of things to BUY and SKIP that will help you in your classroom and your home.

- Containers. This really is a no brainer folks. The dollar store sells a variety of containers from plastic, glass, to fabric lined. This is a great deal when you have to buy one for every student in your class. These can be used to store folders, supplies, books, etc. The dollar store will also carry containers to go with the seasons and holidays. 

- Shampoo. Now this I really didn't believe but according to Consumer Reports, spending money on expensive shampoos does not improve hair any better than cheap store-brand shampoos. The only difference you will notice is the smell will not be as strong but your hair will be just as clean. Many dollar stores are carrying name brands like L'Oreal, Pantene, and Suave. 

- Party Supplies. How many times do you reuse your party supplies for each themed party you have? That's right - never. The quality of materials may not be as great but it all looks the same and will last through out the entire party. 

- Frames. Again, the quality will not be the same but they are just as cute and functional. You can spray paint them to make them any color you wish!

- Teacher Supplies. From stickers to pocket charts, I've seen it all at the dollar store. 

- Paper Products.  You're going to get what you paid for here. Poor quality napkins that rip and you'll end up using double or triple the sheets/towels. Not worth it. 

- Pet Food. The knock off brands might not use the same ingredients and make your furry friends sick. It isn't worth the risk.

- Oven Mitts. I'm speaking from experience when I say SKIP THIS ITEM. They are not made with the same material and are a lot thinner. It will not do the job of keeping out the heat. And as they say..If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. 

Happy Thrifty Shopping!      



Sunday, November 25, 2012

So you have a job interview...

You've gotten past the sheer excitement at the fact that you have secured yourself a job interview in this competitive field of teaching....NOW WHAT?! Don't panic. I've put together some great resources to help.

1. The Corner Stone For Teachers 

The link will lead you to interview tips as well as suggestions on how to answer. 
A great page for a quick refresher. 

This article is from 2010 but I still think the advice is relevant. 
More great resources are listed at the bottom of their page. 

3. Ace your Teacher Interview: 149 Fantastic Answers to Tough Interview Questions

I saw this book on Pinterest and  checked it out online. It has a lot of great reviews. I was able to order it on for about $8.50 and should be getting it delivered in the next two weeks.(I wasn't able to get it right on my Nook- sad face) I'll read and keep you updated on this one, it looks promising.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Recite This

I just heard about this fantastic website while listening to a radio station. It's called ReciteThis.Com. The website allows you to enter any quote or saying you would like and it creates these beautiful prints for you! Use it to make signs for your classroom, inspirational quotes to frame, or desktop backgrounds. Below is my creation.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Storage Ideas

Sometimes as teachers we feel like hoarders - here are some great storage ideas to store all our "stuff": 

1. Storage Seat Crates

2. Storing Clipboards
3. Lazy Susan
source unknown
4. Storing little things
5. Storing things by month

Monday, November 12, 2012

DIY: Mod Podge

I've really been on a craft kick lately and I don't I hate it. I chose to mod podge. I mod podged (yes, I will use this as a verb) when I was a kid but I hadn't done it in a long time. I didn't realize just HOW easy it is!

I went out to Michael's to get my materials:
I found a wooden letter (my first initial), some scrap book paper. This was a pack of 24 sheets with different prints all in the same color scheme, and MOD PODGE (I hear angels singing whenever I say the words). Just like the spray paint there are different finishes for Mod Podge. I chose satin to give my finished pieces some sheen to them. There was also Matte (would give you a flat finish), Paper, even Sparkle! This also came as a spray paint. For smaller pieces I would recommend the bottle of glue like I used. You won't have the fumes so you can do it inside without passing out or losing brain cells.

With my materials in hand and Oprah's Next Chapter with Carrie Underwood on the television I was ready to get started.
Since the letter C is curved I decided to cut my scrap book paper into 2 inch pieces and strategically laid them on the wood. With a sponge brush you slather the glue onto the wood and place your paper where you want it. I let that take some time to dry (maybe 10 minutes) then I cut around the perimeter of my letter. When that was finished I painted the Mod Podge on the outside of the letter and over the paper. This hardens and gave it a nice shine.

After my night of Mod Podging complete I had finished clothes pins, my big letter C and an iPhone case. I simply covered an old one I had gotten from Five Below. Yay for recycling!!!

DIY: Spray Painted Furniture

This weekend I was on a mission. A mission to make something adorable. I set my sights on my ugly TV stand.
To create this easy and inexpensive look keep reading!


1. Get yourself some spray paint. Make sure it will adhere to the material you will be spraying. The basic can will spray onto metal, wood, wicker, glass and ceramic finishes. If you will be spraying plastic you will need a different can. Decide what finish you want when the paint dries. Choosing Flat will dry without any sheen. It will look like a basic painted wall. Gloss will have some glisten to it. I haven't tried their Satin ones but I assume they would be shinier than gloss. I used 1 and a half cans of black flat spray paint for this piece of furniture.

I went to Michael's and Walmart for my materials. I found a can of basic spray paint at Michael's was $4.99 and a can from Walmart was $3.67.

2. You will also need to get some sand paper. This will help rough up the surface to help the paint adhere better. You will also smooth out any imperfections you have on your piece of furniture. I got a set of three sheets for about $3.

3. To add some pizzazz to my TV stand I bought some stencils. I grabbed a set from Martha Stewart for $8.99. Pricey for my standards but it came with a lot of great useful stencils AND the back is sticky even after you clean it. This makes it easier when stenciling. Get yourself a  sponge brush and paint for this step. I used some black and white acrylic paint I had laying around and mixed it to make a grey (even though it really looks like white in the pictures!

4. I bought a can of clear varnish spray paint too. This just acts as an extra shield against nicks and scratches. 

Then you have everything you need to begin!

This whole project cost me a little under $23 ( I had a 20% off coupon at Michael's). I still have materials left over. I also went ahead and spray painted plastic drawers.
This is all part of a room makeover. My color scheme is black, grey, white, and yellow. Next weekend I'll be tackling my dresser! Stay Tuned!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Goodwill Hunting

Today my friend Brianna and I went on a Goodwill shopping spree, we called it Goodwill Hunting (we're pretty clever, right?) I have been a fan of shopping at Goodwill for about a year now. You would be surprised at the great finds you can get if you really take the time to look. I've been to three locations in my area and they always have some great name brand finds (J.Crew, Ann Taylor, Target, and H&M). Most of the items I've found are gently used or still have the tags on them! I have also gotten a lot of great items for substitute teaching - bookmarks and stickers for about 25 cents a pack.

Here are some of today's finds, all were less than $5.00 each:
These are great items to add into your wardrobe. Even if you wear them once they are well worth it! Happy bargain shopping!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

DIY: Beautify Your Storage

As a teacher and a girl, I always want to try to make things as pretty and/or coordinated as possible. When searching for storage bins and drawers they come in black, white, clear and sometimes a few other colors. Why not take some time to personalize them into one-of-a-kind pieces?

I've seen some ideas on pinterest. I also saw this fantastic filing cabinet while substitute teaching yesterday:
I was able to speak to the wonderful teacher and she said she found self-adhesive shelf liner at T.J Maxx and used that to cover her filing cabinet and other surfaces and bins in her room. I thought it just made the room so much more personalized and her. I left that school and on my way to the nearest T.J Maxx. I was able to find some shelf liner. 30 sq. ft for $5.99. When searching for shelf liner it needs to be self-adhesive. I've seen projects where the back of the liner is not sticky and you need to use glue, tape, or mod-podge but I thought this would be a lot easier.

I found a pink giraffe print. Now, I may not want my life covered in pink giraffe but I really wanted to try out this project. I plan on going back to T.J Maxx when they re-stock their inventory on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays to search for more prints.

I began with my item of choice to cover:
I began cutting my shelf liner and sticking. The beauty in this self-adhesive is you can remove it and replace the liner plenty of times and it remains sticky in case your placement is off.

 I found using an exacto knife was easier to work with. I simply stuck my liner on the drawers and was able to slice off the pieces I didn't want. This did take some time and patience. I recommend using a credit card to smooth out bubbles although I didn't have to do that too much.
Ta-Da! I have a new revamped piece of storage.

Shelf-Liner Featured: The MacBeth Collection
More shelf liner products:
Con-Tact - Bed Bath & Beyond
Con-Tact Brand