Saturday, January 17, 2015

Home Office Hacks - A Bright Idea!

I'm so excited to be back with the Bright Ideas group! Today I'm sharing a few of my favorite hacks for my home office.
These organizational hacks might help you begin the new year with a few fresh ideas for your home office.

Back to Work Here reminder

Don't you hate working with huge files? I really hate trying to update old files, because I'll get halfway before my adult ADD kicks in. I created a PowerPoint slide called "Back to Work Here!" It helps me restart quickly.

Listen to the iPod without speakers

Love listening to your iPod/phone? Tired of dealing with speakers on your desktop? Put your iPod in a glass or mug to amplify the sound. I use this both in my classroom and my home office to reduce desktop clutter.

Don't Lose Your List

I'm much more productive now that I've trained myself to keep my to-do list under my mouse pad when I leave my desk. My desk looks more organized, and I always can locate my notes quickly.

Work in a Happy Place

My home office used to be half of the "catch-all" room over the garage. The other half is the kiddo's playroom. Shockingly, I didn't get much accomplished there. My laptop stayed on the dining room table, since I love the natural light in that room. Recently, hubby moved out the dining room table (we never used it anyways, since we have a table in the kitchen.) I moved in my desk, office chair, printer, file cabinet, and a cheap bookcase from Craigslist, and I am happy as a clam. :)

Contact Paper = Awesome

I recovered my old file cabinet from when I began teaching in the 90's. I found a fun roll of shelf paper at Big Lots, and had a blast. If you choose to try this, make sure to remove the handles (if possible) to help you get a smooth finish.
If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider joining me on Facebook and Teachers Pay Teachers
for more great ideas. For my other bright ideas, click here. For more bright ideas from a variety of other bloggers, please browse the link-up below. Thanks, y'all!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

January in my Intervention Groups

Happy 2015! I have enjoyed the last 2 weeks, as I took the time to slow down, reflect, and spend time with my family. As 2015 begins, I wanted to take a moment to share some easy and fast materials I'll be using with my Literacy Intervention groups. Please note: all of my intervention groups are upper elementary, but these can be customized as needed for your class. Each of these activities includes fun materials to practice essential literacy skills. Enjoy!

Fun Word Searches for January

My kiddos enjoy word searches, and the words in these help to "front-load" my kiddos with the appropriate vocabulary to be able to participate in rich discussions.
Click to download for free from my TPT store

Click to download for free from my TPT store

Speaking and Listening About 2014

I love Flocabulary, and the Year in Rap 2014 does not disappoint! From the Winter Olympics to Ferguson, Missouri, the Year in Rap is sure to generate opportunities for speaking and listening within your class, too! For a close listening activity, use the "Fill in the Blanks" sheet, and allow repeated listening. I'm going to use it as a journal prompt: "Describe an important event from 2014. Be sure to justify why this event was important."

Click to visit Flocabulary's Year in Rap 2014

Essential Mid-Year Comprehension Skills

We are going to be focusing on Analogies and using Context Clues. I use task cards as a quick and effective way to differentiate for my struggling readers. Added bonus - the quick assessments are a fast and easy way to see who needs remediation.
Click to view these in my TPT store

Click to view these in my TPT store
 Looks like I'll spend this weekend printing, laminating, and cutting task cards!


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Letters For Building Words - Free Download

Just a quick post to share the letters my students use when we Build Words. The vowels and consonants print on separate sheets so you can copy them on colored paper, if you wish. I usually use colored paper for vowels, since it helps us make sure our words always contain a vowel. Enjoy!
Click here to download for free from Google Drive!
There are many ways to use these - I usually keep a few laminated sets at my small group table. They are handy to pull out and demonstrate a concept quickly with a small group.

Another way I use them is as an accommodation for students with disabilities. I have had several students with reduced muscle tone, so I try to modify assignments that involve cutting for their benefit. My problem? They loved to Build a Mystery Word. My solution? They have their own set of letters in their pencil pouch, and when we Build a Mystery Word, they can participate without stressing over the cutting.

I'm sure you can think of other uses for these cards! Have an excellent rest of the week, y'all!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sometimes, $45 Buys Peace of Mind...

I'm a teacher. I know teachers don't make much; I knew it when I began teaching in '98. I never got into teaching for the paycheck. I want to make it clear that I am *not* complaining. I am a very fortunate person with a family who makes me laugh every day.  :)  I feel a huge gratitude to have a job that helps me feel as though I am making a difference in the world. Teachers have lean times like everyone else, and we have times that we are overcome by the goodness that comes from the world. That being said, today I want to tell you what a relief to be able to walk into a grocery store and spend an unbudgeted $45 without guilt. By the way, I know unbudgeted is not a word, but you know what I meant.

Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Well, here’s my journey to that $45: it is 3 weeks until Christmas, and the only people I've been shopping for are my kiddos. I have a little health issue, so I'm working half-time this year. The budget is key to keep away from the credit cards, since I've already given Citibank and Chase enough money. I took today off to attend health appointments. I was going to go to an appointment, then visit my own kiddos for lunch before the second appointment. I was pretty happy at the prospect of a day to myself, to tell the truth.

Instead, one kiddo was picked up sick from school yesterday, so she stayed home today. This morning, we ran out of oatmeal and peanut butter, aka little guy’s breakfast and lunch. No problem; grocery trip done after the appointment. Splurge and get a couple of foodie treats, spend extra $. An hour later, I have the unexpected someone-just-puked-and-it’s-cold-and-flu-season trip to the store. The kind of trip when the grocery store clerk asks, "What happened?"

There’s the $45. We never know when we will need it, but it bought me peace of mind knowing that I am able to walk in the grocery store and know that I’m able to buy whatever I needed without guilt. I don't feel like I should have spent it on new tires, or my health insurance, or a visit to my therapist. Even better, I didn't feel any post-purchase remorse for my morning splurges. Nutella is essential, right? After taking a sick day (which I feel fortunate to have), visiting the doctor, buying essentials, and $45 bucks worth of carpet cleaner and disinfecting wipes, I still don’t have to worry about the grocery budget. I am one of the lucky ones. 

In our house, it seems that unexpected expenses are usually around $50, $200, and $400. It might be paying the deductible for an emergency room visit, or repairing the dryer (with a ton of help from Hubby and Dad!). Today, I feel thankful to have a job and a business that helps to absorb bumps in the road, and let me take the time I need to take care of my family, to disinfect the house – ick! and to take care of myself.

I know I haven’t been blogging much lately. My depression was back, and I’ve spent the last month getting everything back on track. I’ve got additional support in place – including a light therapy machine! I am enjoying it so far, and it definitely isn’t hurting anything. I’ll fill you in another time. Thanks for listening, y’all.

Just a little more, then I'm through - promise. I wanted to give a huge hug to the teacher-blogging community. I'm feeling the love, and it helps so much to connect with all of you, both near and far. I'm already planning for Vegas in July, to see y'all again with a ton of hugs! <3  Thanks!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bright Ideas - A Round Up!

Welcome to the November edition of the Bright Ideas Link-Up! This one is a special one! Over the past 10 months, we have shared thousands of great ideas through our monthly Bright Ideas event. This month, we’re re-capping all of those great ideas, just in case you missed any!

Back in August, I wrote about ways to use classroom magazines effectively, which you can read all about here:

In July, I shared my most popular Bright Ideas post, all about my Brain Booster Box:

In May, I shared Bright Ideas for Word Work. I was so happy to share the little tricks I use to keep Word Work fun and organized!

Back in April, I shared my eco-friendly Reminder Bracelets! This tip saves me so much time, and is a great way to keep the lines of communication active between home and school.

March was Cheap Ways to Tame the Clutter: (And what teacher doesn't have stacks of clutter everywhere?? I can't be the only one!)

Last, but my favorite, is from last February - Use Pinterest for Transitions!

There are so many Bright Ideas out there! I hope that you found an idea (or a few ideas!) that you can use in your own classroom. Be sure to check out the link up below for tons more fabulous ideas from my bloggy friends! Have a great day!

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