Friday, July 31, 2015

Five for Friday [July 31]

I made it my goal to do two five for Fridays for the month of July....... I did one the first Friday of July and let's be honest.. I've been lucky to even remember that it's Friday.. Summetime and the struggle is real!  I usually like to have my post ready to go before Friday, but here I am at 6:25 am writing my post to meet my goal!  Instead of recapping just this week, I'm going to recap the past three weeks.. I hope that's okay!

Mid July, I got to go visit my best friend in Kansas.  She's lived there for four and a half years and this was the first time (I should have gone sooner!) that I went out to visit her.  It was SO fun getting to see all of the places she's told me about for the past four and a half years!! I loved getting to hang out and relax with her and her little boy while her husband was away for work.  It's so great getting to do all of the fun things we'd normally do while we're together.  We checked out a little water park in a town close to hers and we checked out a lake in another town close to hers.  I LOVED getting to see all of the greenery there! It's so much different than California!!

Now that my husband and I live closer to the beach and it's summertime, I've been wanting to go to the beach more.  I'm surprised I've only gone three times this summer!! It's my favorite place though. I  can sit at the beach all day and do "nothing" and have the greatest time unlike being at home all day and doing just about "everything" and feeling bored!  The left picture is the beach I/we go to usually.  The right picture is a picture from yesterday when I got to drive an hour north to go visit a friend and her family on vacation!!
 I've been working HARD in my TPT store and I am LOVING it!  I went back and worked on revamping some of the covers and previews of my earlier products.  I have learned so much in the past few months it's amazing!! I also had a "Flash Sale" of my newest product bundles - some Common Core Gradebook Pages for grades Kinder through 5th.  It was a fun learning experience.  I'm really loving my TPT journey!!!

My husband and I moved an hour and a half south of where I had been living/working for the past three years.  I left SO many friends there.  I have been SO blessed by many of their friendships that I have still gotten to see them and hang out with them.  One friend moved just 30 minutes away from me and we checked out a french bakery together in a nearby city (left picture).  I got to hang out with my mother-in-law who lives just 20 minutes away and I found a boba shop as we explored one of the beach cities (middle).  Another sweet friend and her baby came all the way down to see my new place and have lunch (right).  And of course spending time with my friend at the beach yesterday!  I'm so blessed by these friendships that flourish even though the distance isn't the most convenient!!

I am so excited to announce that I got to sign my contract for my teaching position this fall!! I'll be teaching TK at a local elementary!! This is my celebratory Starbucks drink :) My husband and I took a leap of faith and moved without me having a job lined up.  Just 6 days after I signed my exit paperwork at my old school, I got a phone call and was offered the job! This past week I got to make it official by signing my contract!! YAY!!

Okay and I couldn't resist this last **BONUS** picture of my bulldog, Coco, hanging out with me on my yoga mat this week!! She's been my go to girl since it's summer.  Bless her sweet heart!

I loved getting to take this trip down memory lane looking back over the past three weeks!! Hopefully I can stay more on top of my Five for Fridays in the future :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Teacher Time Saver: Gradebooks SIMPLIFIED!!

I'm spotlighting this post as part of Kindergarten Dragons' Spotlight Saturday link up!  Check out the rest of the Spotlight Saturday posts by visiting her page, including the one by Kindergarten Dragons!  I love how she used sharpies to color in some designs on her 31 Oh Snap Pop Up Bins!

This post was also linked up with Literacy Loves Company's Teacher Time Saver Linky Party! Check out her post about the crock-pot she uses in her classroom to save her time prepping her lunch while getting some much needed bits and pieces caught up during those precious (and oh so short) lunch breaks!
Aligning my gradebook to be Common Core friendly has saved me HOURS upon HOURS of time, both in the short term day to day basis AND the long term of report card season!

As my school adopted the Common Core, our report cards took an overhaul to reflect the new Common Core standards.  I was new to the school and just felt "new" in general.  I felt like I just jumped in to everything without really KNOWING what to expect further down the road.  I still remember shoving EVERYTHING into my cupboards the day before school started and then spending the next summer pulling everything back out to reorganize it PURPOSEFULLY!!

The exact same thing happened with my gradebook.  I "shoved' everything into the slots.  I had one page devoted to each ELA, Spelling, Vocabulary, and Math.  I just put assignments in, one after another, on the page that was most fitting.

When it came to the end of the trimester and having to do report cards, I had to "decode" all of my chicken scratch that I'd been filling in for the past nine weeks.  I was thankful enough to have the spelling and vocab on their own separate pages, but the ELA and Math pages were NIGHTMARES to figure out.

The rest of the year, I didn't have much of a chance to do make many changes.  After 1st trimester comes Christmas and I didn't even have time to sit and THINK about grades, let alone create a system that was helpful.  At the 2nd trimester end, I had the same problem as 1st trimester.  With one trimester left, you just focus on the finish line and pay no attention to "revamping" anything!

That summer, I started with making gradebook pages that would help with the Math Common Core standards since that was what my school was adopting first.  I took each standard and created a section just for it - this is my "condensed" version.

This was SO helpful already!! From here, I made an "extended" version.  I expanded the pages to include the Common Core Standard actually written out so I could refer to it quickly and easily.  Then I made it so that there are five slots under each standard.  I know 5 isn't "that many" but I tend to take only a few of the really important/heavily evidenced pieces of student work and enter them into my gradebook.

When it came to report cards - I was able to quickly look back into my gradebook and find each standard listed with each of the corresponding assignments and assessments.  I could combine standards if I needed to (if they were combined on the report card) and I didn't have to spend HOURS decoding my gradebook to figure out which assignment went with which standard.

I've learned what information I like to include in my gradebook as I put each assignment in.  I add the date.  The title of the assignment or test, the page number(s), and the title of the story or unit it is from.  I also like to put how many points it was worth.  Basically I want enough information (not EVERYTHING) but enough that I can look it up if I need to later on.

At the beginning of the year, I print the pages back to back so they'll spread across my gradebook binder easily.  I also make enough sets to last me through the year (however many grading periods there are) so I don't have to do it again throughout the year.

I've created these gradebook pages for all grades Kinder through 6th in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!  They are offered at each grade level in individual content areas (ELA or MATH) and also as a bundle to save money!

Check out the bundles here!! If you are interested in one content area, click your grade level picture below and once it takes you to the TPT listing, the individual content areas are linked.

I hope you find these helpful!!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Making assessment easy!

,Assessment can be so daunting, especially when it comes up at the most busy times of the year. There are so many parts and pieces to check over, evaluate, reevaluate, mark off, and just DO.  

I've been working on creating resources to make the assessment process so much more seamless.  This is my first resource in a line of many in which all components are included to make assessment go smoothly. 

Get it here:

This assessment pack focuses on recognizing and naming upper- and lowercase letters.  This is one of the assessments I'll be using within the first few days of school to check in with where students are at.  

The pack includes a set of 26 uppercase letter cards and a set of 26 lowercase letter cards.  I print these out and laminate them.  This year I am really excited to print things out on neon paper so I'll be printing the uppercase letters on one neon color and the lowercase letters on a different neon colored paper.  After I print them out I will laminate and cut them out.  I prefer to laminate and then cut them out so I only end up cutting them out once.  I sometimes will trim the edges off of things like this before laminating them so that I can try saving a little room.  [side note: I've been thinking of what to do with the extra little bit of room left on my lamination pouches because I hate to see them go to waste - I think I've figured out a good solution, but I'll be saving that for another post, so stay tuned!]

When it is time to assess students, I will put these cards into a bin, tray, or container of sorts.  I'll have the student sit across from me.  Sometimes I will pull the cards out of the bin and other times I'll have the student pull them out one at a time. I don't pull the cards out in alphabetical order - I always do this at random because I want the assessment to be as accurate and authenitc as possible rather than having the students be able to recognize the letter simply because they recited the ABC's in their head between each card.

In addition to the letter cards, this pack has an "Assessment Check Off" page.  This page has each of the letters (upper- and lowercase) laid out convienently so they are easy to see.  I laminate this whole page.  This page will be used during the assessment when I have a student sitting across from me.  I'll use a whiteboard marker to mark the letters the student has said correctly and also those said incorrectly just to check progress.  After the assessment, I'll send the kiddo back to join the rest of the class and I'll transfer this information onto the student roster/data sheets that are included.  The "assessment check off" page does add an extra step, but it helps me from having to shuffle through a bunch of papers to mark off the information while I'm assessing the student.  We all know that when we assess students, as soon as we start to look around, shuffle things, or take longer than expected to mark something, the student starts to get curious as to what we're doing and it starts to bother them and interfere with their performance. I feel like this page helps me limit that type of interference.  Yes, it does create an extra step, but in the end, I prefer to do it this way.  If you find this step cumbersome, it's easy to skip!

The next component of the pack is the roster/data pages.  There are two sets of these pages - one for the uppercase letters and one for the lowercase letters.  Each set has room for you to write in up to 30 student names.  I always copy these at the beginning of the year so that I have enough pages for each round of assessments I will do (the beginning of the year and the end of each trimester/semester/quarter).  I copy them so that when they lay flat in my Student Data binder, they will stretch across - from left to right - showing me each of the letters for that case.

After transferring all of the information over from my "Assessment Check Off," I count the total of known letters and write that in the total column at the end.  I do this for each kiddo.

I use this information throughout the year for different things.  I might look for trends of letters that have proven troublesome and need more attention - the b's, d's, p's, and q's - and I use it to help me drive instruction either whole class or small group.

I hope this is helpful!  Keep an eye out for my other packs in the assessment series.  I'll be adding ones that allow students to write out their letters, recognize and identify numbers, "draw" corresponding items to match their numbers, etc. 

Let me know if you have any questions :)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Five for Friday [July 10]

I am so excited each week to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.  I LOVE getting to know other teacher bloggers each week!  I love seeing the fun things everyone does each week outside of teaching!

 When my sister was visiting last week, she shared her Victoria's Secret perfume stick thing with me.  It was SO amazing.  I loved it!! I wanted to swing by Victoria's Secret right away to pick up my own, but instead, I went online and found it.  It was actually on clearance for about $9 so I bought two!!  They came this week and I LOVE them!! I just tried to find it on the website to link up, but they are no longer available :(

 I've been enjoying the "cooler" weather lately, though my husband says that its going to be getting really hot here soon!  Eeek!! I actually wore a sweatshirt and jeans all day the other day.. and I live in Southern California!! Anyway, it's been beautiful to stay home and work on my TPT products.  I even found that there is a bird's nest huddled into the rafters of the deck just above ours!

I'm enjoying staying home and one of my favorite things about being here is being able to spend more time with this girl.  She has so much of a personality and she's pretty stubborn, but I enjoy her each and everyday.  I feel so blessed to be her human "mama!"
 Oh my gosh, oh my gosh! I went shopping today!! I haven't gone shopping in over a year!! You can find out here the 10 things I learned from not buying clothes for a WHOLE YEAR..

I went to my FAVORITE store - ROSS - and found a couple of goodies!!

 Seriously - CHECK OUT THESE PANTS!! They were made out of the most AMAZING material I have ever worn.  Oh my goodness.  They fit like yoga pants BUT I think they are regular pants haha! What do you think? I LOVE them!! I even asked one of the sales ladies at Ross if she thought they were yoga pants or regular pants.. and she said REGULAR : )
 AHH I love them!!
 One thing I've noticed has come out as one of the newer trends are these flowy kimono type tops.  I have LOVED seeing my friends wear them and I was so excited to find this cute one.  I can do so much with it! I also got this black and white striped pencil skirt.  I LOVE it! I've seen these pencil skirts a lot and was so excited to get one!  It was only $7.
These two finds were super exciting too.  A cream/ivory tank that's flowy with a racerback and a zipper for less than $6.  Then a brownish/dark mauveish crochet type sweater.  I have a million of these types of things and they are always my favorite.  I love them so much.  This was the one thing I was hesitant to buy in the realm of "Do I need this?" but I always love them so much so I figured I'd go for it! It was the most expensive of everything - $13.
Lastly.... SCREEN CASTS!! Have you ever made a screen cast? I made a few this past school year for my grade level to show/explain how to do things and it was so fun!  It's actually addicting!!  Last week I posted a screen cast about organizing product links for TPT and it was a huge success.  I loved knowing it helped others.

This week I posted a post with four videos about how I create my collage previews.  Check it out here!

Thanks so much for stopping by!!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Creating Collage Previews and Product Preview Files

Hi everyone!! I have learned SO much since first starting my TPT.  The sellers forums and the Facebook groups have been SO helpful!! So many TPT teachers have posted tutorials and tips on how to do things on their blogs and those have been incredibly useful!

I have been learning more and more about creating product previews and collages that showcase what my product is all about.  I made a few screencasts to show you how I make my collage preview inside my product powerpoint and how I use my product PDF to create my previews.  The videos are a few minutes each, so you might want to pin them to come back to them.

The first video shows how I save my PowerPoint slides as pictures and use these pictures to make my collage preview page.

The second video shows how I use my PowerPoint to make my PDF and open it in Adobe to add in my credits page and any other pages I want to add.

The third video shows how to create your product preview document right from your product PDF.  In this video, I also show you how to reduce the size of your Product Preview (TPT only allows previews to be up to 5MB).

The fourth video shows how to create your product preview from the pictures that were made from your PowerPoint slides.

I know everyone has their own way of doing each of these steps - this is what works for me right now.  I'd love to hear from you if you have other tips in this process or if you learned something from my videos!  I hope they are helpful :)

Video 1: Collage Preview #1 - Creating A Collage Preview Page
Video 2: Collage Preview #2 - Adding pages to Adobe PDF
Video 3: Collage Preview #3 - Creating a Preview from Product PDF
Video 4: Collage Preview #4 - Creating a Preview from Slide Pictures

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Circle Punches = Life Savers

I created these two products with circle punches in mind:
ABC Sorting Mats

I knew I wanted the pieces to be circular and easy to use so I planned for the "letter chips" (as I like to call them) to be 1" and 1.10" to be able to cut them out easily!

I've been looking at Joann's and Michaels for the right size punches, but I typically can't find the right size in stock at a decent price.  I bought one at Michaels but when I got it home, it didn't cut very well, so I need to take it back.

I decided to check Target and I found a 1.5"!  I was surprised to find one at Target!! I still needed to find a 1" for the products above.  I checked Amazon and ended up finding a 1" and a 1.25" that together would cost less than one of those at Michaels or Joann's!  Thanks to Amazon Prime, the two punches came in the mail today!!

The one on the right is the one from Target.  It's 1.5" even though it looks a lot smaller!!  The two on the left are from Amazon.  The farthest left is 1" and the middle is 1.25". 

I was so excited to try them out that I printed out one of the letter chip pages from the HFW Spelling Mats. This page has the letters at 1.10" so that when they are punched out they wont accidentally have any white around the edges.  The circle punches are awesome because you can actually see where you are cutting so it's REALLY easy to line up the circles!

I plan to print them out and then laminate them before I actually punch them out.. But I was so excited to try it out I didn't want to wait to laminate them just yet.  These are AWESOME and I'm already thinking of a bunch of other uses for them!!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Organizing product links for easy use with TPT!!

I would consider myself a "newb" in the realm of TPT and blogging, but I was finding it really cumbersome to add links and HTML code to my product descriptions.  I wanted to be able to easily organize my product links in a way where I could just copy and paste them along with the HTML codes.

You can check out these ABC sorting Mats in my TPT store :)

I recorded this screen cast to share my tip with you!  I really hope it's helpful for you!! I love finding things that make life easier and more efficient. 

Please let me know if this is helpful to you :)  Leave any questions in the comments :)

Five for Friday [July 3]

I'm so excited!! This is my second Five for Friday that I've been able to do!  I made it one of my goals for the month of June to try it out and do it at least once.  Now for July, my goal is to do it at least twice!!

It's only fitting that the first thing I mention is that my husband and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary on Sunday!!
This is one of my favorite pictures from our wedding. 
We celebrated by going to one of our favorite sushi places!
My sister came to town and visited me for a few days!  We had a blast hanging out, going to the beach, and showing her around some of the local places.  She even helped with some of the tail end parts of our move (unpacking, organizing, cleaning...).  It was so fun to have her here!
Things have finally been slowing down now that we've moved and we're settling into our place.  I'm so thankful!! I've finally been able to work on my TPT stuff.  It's such a perfect creative outlet for me that it can be hard to turn my mind off.  The other day, I had Rehab Addict playing in the background while I worked on my products!
Last year I challenged myself to a year of not buying any clothes.  Well that year is finally up!! I blogged about the 10 things I learned from the whole experience!!

Click the picture to go to the blog post!

I've been working little by little to get our house all organized and put together now that we've moved.  Our old house was a three bedroom two bath and our new house is one bed one bath.  Needless to say, we've downsized a LOT!! Figuring out what to keep her and what to put in storage has been quite a creative endeavor!! But I have made a lot of progress in making our little house a home!  On Saturday my husband, his dad, and his brother, brought a load of stuff to storage for us and some of the last items that would come to our house.  I walked in on Saturday with my living room looking like this:
 The picture doesn't even do it justice!! There were just as many boxes piled up in my closet as well!!
Now I have one kitchen box left!! It's been a lot of work, but little by little, it's all gotten done!! This place definitely feels more like a home!

While you're here,  I'd love for you to check out my TpT store!! I can always use more followers and more people to follow!!