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Clever Ideas for Teachers

     "I'll introduce you. But you'll regret it. Almost everyone does," my friend said, as she chuckled knowingly. 
     "Say goodbye to your husband. Your kids. Even the dog," she warned. 
     This was getting scary now. The dog? No. Not the dog!
     Oh, I would not be deterred. She was exaggerating anyway. You know how some people are.
     *Sigh* How naive I was back then. That fateful day I learned how to use Pinterest. 
    We've been through a lot, Pinterest and me. When we add in the dollar store, we are pure magic. Thanks to P and DS my classroom has never been so beautifully organized. My anchor charts have never been so colorful. My "getting to know you" ideas and writing prompts have never been so dynamic. 
                             

      Regrets? I've had a few. The duct tape wallets my advisory class tried to make. I had that pinned to my "Clever Ideas" board. It's not so clever when your money sticks to your wallet because the designer doesn't completely fold in the edges. And we won't even talk about the NECCO conversation heart picture frames. Let's just say that dogs don't tolerate glue ingestion very well. And maybe you should watch out for my "Clever Ideas" board.
      But mostly, I've had successes. Wild, joyous successes. Here are a few of my favorites.
                                                This year's dollar store haul.
         Sunny T. had to hop onto the chair to get in on the action. Okay, maybe he was feeling a little neglected.
            Here is clever idea #1. No more multiple pinholes. I just hang these colorful clips on the pushpins. The board stays neat looking, and I can easily switch out the display.                


     Clever idea #2. All of my class rosters are hanging on one lanyard! All I have to do is grab it and dash out to save myself my class (kidding, people!) in case of an emergency, fire drill, or assembly. 





       Clever idea #3. No more missing pencils! These duct tape pencil markers work like a charm.



      Speaking of charm, My Love is beckoning. I haven't pinned in at least an hour.
     

Super Secondary Lifesaver Lessons Labor Day Linky!

          The new school year has started, and the book you need for your next unit was supposed to arrive yesterday... but didn't. Or, you need something wonderful to leave with a sub, and you need it NOW! Or maybe laryngitis is making you sound like Bea Arthur, and you want your students to work on something that doesn't require you to do a lot of talking.
         Take a deep breath. We've all been there. The great Super Secondary group is here to help with a Labor Day Lifesaver Lessons blog hop, hosted by the magnifique Tammy from Teaching FSL!
                                    
        Sometimes you need a lifesaver lesson; a low prep,easy to use, print and go lesson that will be meaningful to your students. No busywork. When I need such a resource, I turn to this.
        This study tip flip book is so easy and fun to put together that your kids will "flip" for it! Best yet, all you have to do is make the copies!
        The Don't Flip! Study Tip Flip book includes lifelong strategies on how to study. Organization, memorization, note-taking, and more are covered. Once students put the book together, they'll read through the booklet and answer accountability questions about each strategy. 

        I like to use the black-line version,because my students like to take the book home to color. If you're wondering, yes, 12 year olds DO like to color! And they are darn good at it too!
        Here's what it looks like:



Come and take a look!

Days of Gratitude

In my attempt to find some calm in the end of the year chaos, I decided to start a 7 Days of Gratitude series. I realize that we have set aside a day to show thankfulness, and this is not it. But one measly day a year is not nearly enough. If you think it might be refreshing to consciously practice gratitude right about now, please feel free to join me! Stores celebrate Christmas in July. Why can't we have Thanksgiving in Spring?

Two researchers in the field of positive psychology, Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, describe gratitude as the ability to be keenly aware of the good things that happen to you and never take them for granted. They say that grateful people express their thanks and appreciation to others in a heartfelt, sincere way.

I would like to begin my 7 Days of Gratitude by thanking Michelle, The 3AM Teacher
Michelle is a talented artist and an absolute pleasure to work with! Somehow, she understood my vague requests, and figured out exactly what I would love. (Michelle may have the ability to perform magic, but this has not been confirmed.)  Please visit her blog, The 3AM Teacher if you are in need of a blog design. I know you will be as grateful as I am.

It is in the spirit of thankfulness that I introduce this freebie:
Warning: this product will leave your colleagues feeling warm and fuzzy. Has been known to cause grown teachers to cry.

Poem in Your Pocket Day 2014

It is almost time for one of my favorite days of the the year...
Poem in Your Pocket Day!
Click here for a freebie.
Would you like to give your students an opportunity to experience poetry just for the simple joy of it?  The Academy of American Poets designates one day during National Poetry Month to be Poem in Your Pocket Day. The idea is to find a poem that you love, carry it around, and share it all day long with everyone you meet. It’s fun! It’s also a great way to celebrate and discuss poetry!

I also encouraged kids to find a line from the poem and write it in a unexpected place. They were really excited to do this, and likened it to secretly leaving a treasure for someone to find.
                                       

Enjoy the celebration! And remember: you can celebrate a local version of Poem in Your Pocket Day on any day of the year!

                                      


Move Over James Cameron...Make Way for The Peanut Gallery

I'm not known for being on the cutting edge of technology. Or anything else for that matter. So when I found The Peanut Gallery by Google, and I saw that it was released on March 19th, I was excited to have found a really cool brand spankin' new bit of technology. Until I saw that the release date was 2013.

Okay, so I'm still not cutting edge, but The Peanut Gallery definitely is. First you choose a silent film from over a dozen choices, then you speak intertitles (subtitles) into your microphone. The movie will play back with your intertitles in place.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hd8HzLCIstE


I'm always looking for interesting ways to teach students how to write dialogue. Last year, right after our state tests, I taught a mini-lesson on dialogue writing and then had students work in small groups to compose dialogue for the video below. The results were hilarious.



Our twins were arguing about whose turn it is to cook dinner, whose turn it is to use the car (a Little Tykes coupe, of course), who produces the smelliest poopy diaper... It was a good learning experience, and the timing was perfect, because after the tests we all needed a good laugh.

This year I might do the same thing using The Peanut Gallery. If you can think of other ways to use it, I'd love some additional ideas!

Note to Self: Don't be an Idiot


                 Like most epic fails, all I can say in my defense is that it seemed like a good idea at the time.
                 Isn't that what everybody says in retrospect, after their rash decision to do something every logical person knows is monumentally stupid... fails? Like when you bungee-jump from your neighbor's tree using elastic you repurposed from Grandpa's old Fruit of the Looms? Or when you pull a James Thurber. Thurber, author of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, lost his eyesight as a child, because he and his brother were playing William Tell.  I know. It's painful to visualize that one. ( I guess William Tell never heard of the "don't try this at home" disclaimer.)
James Thurber
               


                   I didn't bungee jump or attempt to shoot an arrow off someone's head, but I did do something equally stupid. I gave a short (announced) quiz and I introduced a new unit of study on a Monday.
                   It doesn't sound too stupid right?! Well, it is when you take into account daylight saving time. Okay, so now you get it. My morning classes looked like extras from The Walking Dead. If they were any more immobile,  Resuscitation Annie would no longer have the training mannequin monopoly.
                   Sadly, I wasn't much better myself. I'm starting to think that instead of "springing ahead" on a Sunday at  2 AM, we should do it on a Monday at 2 PM. Think about it.