Inspirational Quote for the Week Ahead!

This week I was lying in bed about to go to sleep and I KNEW I needed to get up and go get ice packs from the freezer for my knees. I lay there grumbling to myself that I was already in bed and it would take so much work to get up and I would have a hard time falling asleep once I got back in bed.

Then a tiny voice in my head said "It's not work. It's worth it." 

Whoa! Mind shift!

How often do we grumble and complain because it's SO MUCH WORK to do something? What if instead of grumbling, we spent that energy DOING IT because ultimately it is worth it.

It's worth it to double and triple check back in with that student who needs that little extra guidance. 

It's worth it to share your ideas at a meeting knowing it might lead to follow up and YOU implementing the idea because then your ideas become reality for the whole school. And who knows? Someone might volunteer to help you with it!

It's worth it to make the time to meet with a classroom teacher who might need some extra support. Because not so long ago YOU were (or still are at times!) that teacher.

Is it more work? OF COURSE! But work that makes you grow, it makes you learn. it makes you more engaged, it helps to build a school that YOU want to work in and it forces you to become a stronger teacher. SO WORTH IT!

It's not work. It's worth it.

Have an AWESOME Read Across America Week!


Five For Friday 2-26-16

Excited to link up to Five for Friday!

 I was looking at my blog this week and realized I had 138 tags!!! 

I had tags for teacher, teaching, first year teacher, new teacher....yes very redundant! And overwhelming when scrolling through my blog. 

I narrowed it down to 29 tags which is a HUGE improvement!

I FINALLY linked my PayPal account to my Teachers Pay Teachers page PLUS verified my PayPal account. Woo HOO! Now that's what I call adult-ing.
Teachers Pay Teachers, Text Structure, 6th Grade
Once I was on TPT, I decided to update some of my products so they were visually nicer on the eye.

Then (gulp) I set prices for them.


All my products were always free but after seeing over 5,000 downloads on some of these free products I realized I was just cheating myself. I work hard on the products! 
Relaxation Station, Classroom Management, Break
This week I redid my Relaxation Station sign because my original sign was getting pretty beat up!

When I was done, I added it my TPT store!

See this post about how I initially set my relaxation station up and see this post for the link to the I Choose board.

Watch my latest Periscope to learn all the juicy details about what is in my Calm Kit and how I use it in my class [plus a spontaneuos classroom tour!]!!

My goal for TPT is to continue to update it with products as I create them for my classroom.

Is it weird I'm already brainstorming how I want to decorate my classroom for next year?? I'm thinking lots of brights (think Astro brights) on black. I've started to Google (being on a social media break can sometimes be a inconvenient! No Pinterest!) 
And I've been adding things to my Amazon cart!! #NotOrderedYET

We had our monthly staff breakfast this morning and I brought fruit salad! I can't bake to save my life so I figured fruit is an easy and healthy option [Okay. Total confession? I actually had to Google how to cut up strawberries! Whoops]. 

And here's what else I have been browsing on Amazon...HMM I wonder what or why I would need a red braided wig?? Could it have to do with Read Across America Week?? That is somehow ALREADY NEXT WEEK??! 

Take your guess in the comments and find out next week!


How to Create a Digital Chalkboard (In a Simple Way!)

I was playing around with Keynote the other night and a GENIUS idea came to me and I HAD to Periscope and blog about it! 

So you know how you really want to create a chalkboard background for your classroom decorations or TPT products? 

Well, if you are me, in the past you would Google "Chalkboard Background", copy and paste the background in, stretch the original image that you stole from some poor person until it was completely distorted and it just looked FUNKY then give up because it looked HORRID and you felt guilty about stealing someone's picture of a chalkboard from Google. TRUE STORY.

So then I had this brainstorm and HAD to share!!

You start off by Googling "Chalkboard Background" (Wait...this sounds familiar? Just wait!) then you go to images and choose a picture that you like the color of (I think a fairly consistent and less smeary chalkboard works best).

Then go to your file and insert a square and make it fit the page. You'll want Keynote to not cover the whole screen (see below) so you can still see the chalkboard in the background. 

THEN under Style select Color Fill under Fill, click the wheel, click the eyedropper then move the circle over to the chalkboard you chose and click.


No copyright worries, no worries about the background looking funky because you stretched the image. Just pure AWESOME chalkboard color. The color I ended up with was Red 92, Green 92, Blue 92. 

So now let’s say you want to add lettering right?

I found this website with the great title Hipster Chalkboard Look and Feel. Because I want to be a hipster please!

And they have chalk colors with the RGB slider numbers! How cool is that!

So let me choose a font. At first I was looking though my Hello and KG fonts but then I noticed that they had fonts on this site too! What?? I really am a hipster I guess. 

The fonts are located on UCreative and I was choosing between the Urban Sketch, Retchman and Return to Sender. THEN I FOUND A KG FONT! What! Yes it’s called Second Chances and I LOVED IT! It was the WINNER. 

After selecting the font I went back to check the chalk RGB numbers when I realized I could just use the eyedropper tool here too. I LOVE my Mac. Seriously people if you are on the fence, do it. Don’t buy a PC because you’re scared.

Random aside but the only thing I don’t like is that the my stick drives aren't recognized and some of my old files made on Publisher aren't recognized on my Mac so eventually I’ll have to go copy them into PowerPoint (yes, I have a PC laptop as well as a Mac..and an iPad...and an iPhone...I've somehow turned into THAT person!) so then I can open them in Keynote. Anyways though! Back to chalkboard inspired life!

I also found on this Hipster page links to My Fonts where I found these super cute little chalkboard decorations!  What!! And they are free. Which is my favorite word. 

So I can add some of these too! These are a little tricker to figure out. The word "And" appears when you hit the letter Y. Why? I’m not sure!

Don't you love the chalkboard look? Now I have to go create something using this awesome discovery!


Inspirational Quotes for the Week Ahead!

How is it already SUNDAY NIGHT??

I wanted to share my FAVORITE quote with you as well as a classic Dr. Seuss quote for motivation for the week ahead!

This has been my favorite quote for a longggg time - since junior year of high school! It is the quote I always turn towards for inspiration when things get hard. It motivated me through senioritis, through college, through job searching, and in my current job today. We think opportunity is glamorous and a thing of chance but I truly believe it is in the nitty gritty, in the day to day, in the hard work that opportunities arise. 

My second quote is in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday NEXT WEEK! Seriously, does the school year fly or what?

This quote inspires my teacher side of me, wanting to fire up my little students hearts for a love of reading and learning!

I hope you have a wonderful week!

PS. Made both of these using Rhonna Design Collage App - completely obsessed!!

Five For Friday 2-19-16

Hi!! Very excited to be linking up to Five for Friday!

I am OBSESSED with Periscope! Do you scope? You should. Whether you are just watching other teacher scopers or scoping yourself, there is SUCH positive energy and you leave each scope READY to rock your life. I wrote this post after my first experience with scoping with some tips for first time it if you don't want to make the mistakes I did at first! Sheila Jane's scope about Periscope is also awesome for understanding how Periscope is for EVERYONE! 
Follow me @VoraciousTeacher! 

I scoped this week about Simple Hacks for Your Classroom...VERY SIMPLE things but they have made my teaching life better. Check out this post I wrote to go along with it.

My second graders have started their Real World Problems research! 

This is a BIG project (think eight weeks!). 

Last year when I started the long term project I really didn't have an overarching view of the project or an end goal. This year I KNOW what the end result will be and possible hiccups along the way so it makes it a lot easier this year to know how to approach each part of the project. 

One example is last year, I expected students to choose a topic and write two wonders in week 1. Then in week 2 students were expected to research using websites and books. 

Whoa! Slow down! 

This year I split both lessons in half so instead of taking two weeks, it will take 4. I'm hoping by doing this, less students will be left behind at each step because I'm pushing too much in each lesson. 

I expanded the worksheet from 2 pages to 4 which I hand out in chunks and divided the first two pages into sections A-D, and each week the focus is on a different letter. It lets the kiddos marinate more in each section. 
For example for choosing a topic, we really took our time discussing what real world problems are, what's the difference between smaller everyday problems and big worldwide problems, analyzing William Kamkwamba's story The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind for problems that were in William's life. 

Then students turned and talked about a problem they wanted to learn about and wrote it on the top of their paper. They went on Padlet and typed their name and topic that I'll use for grouping the students for week 2. That's it. 

Sure some of the students finished early and went on to write their wonders. But most of the students didn't. But unlike last year, they chose some really great deep topics because I didn't rush the process and I really let them reflect on it.

I have given up social media for Lent. It's weird how something can sneak up on you and take up SO much of your time without you even realizing it: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, Twitter, Snapchat, even YouTube. What!!! I mean, that's SEVEN social media platforms and on Twitter I have THREE Twitter handles. 

I view social media as a way to share but I had become a mindless consumer.

The only two "social" venues I planned on keeping are my two blogs. I feel blogging is more concrete, more thoughtful and less mindless: it's harder to read blog after blog without getting information overload. 

Then I got hooked on Periscope and initially was going to keep Periscope on my phone until 2/13 so I could watch the Trials live via Flo Track (see below!!) ...then I had such a hard time deleting it!  

My goals for this social media purge are: 
Open up more space social media took up.
Build closer, more true relationships.
Use that time to pursue my passions: teaching, running, yoga, writing, and blogging.

This past weekend was exciting not because it was Valentine's Day (although I do love Valentine's Day - especially kiddos Valentine's! Aren't they the sweetest when they come up to you and hand you their Valentine with the sweetest little smile??). And not because it was February Break (Four Day Weekend!).
Because it was the Olympic Marathon Trials in LA!

The top three men and top three women go onto represent the USA at the Olympics in Rio. I was rooting for Meb for the men and Kara for the women (plus any other Oiselle birds!). The race was INTENSE!

Watching on Periscope and checking the paces and places throughout the race was completely nerve wracking. Meb ending up placing second. Then I was waiting for the women's race results. Shalane, Amy, Desi and Kara were vying for the top three spots. I was refreshing FloTrack when my sister came in and told me Kara was fourth. I collapsed on my bed and took a nap.

Wait what??

I was emotionally drained! Hearing the disappointing news Kara didn't make the team? My body just collapsed. Boom. Nap time! Yes, I become very emotionally involved in elite racing!


Simple Hacks for Your Classroom

I scoped today on Periscoped (@VoraciousTeacher) about three super easy teaching hacks to make YOUR life easier. 

My first is tech related and they are headphone splitters. 

I can't even claim this hack which is kind of embarrassing because I'm a tech teacher. But that's the power of collaboration! Because one morning I stopped in my coworkers classroom and she showed me some headphone splitters she had bought so two students could use an iPad at the same time. 

Um genius! 

This way students can share an iPad and it doesn't have to be noisy! 

The other way to use them is during research! I'm going to blog on Friday about how my second graders are doing their research projects. We use databases like PebbleGo, BrainPop Jr. and World Book Kids during research and they all read to the students or have an audio component. With the splitters, students can work at one computer listening at the same time.  

Sharing a computer opens up conversations about the information and they absorb so much more of the content. I know it sounds weird by just having them share a computer this would happen but it's true. 

It's also helpful if you have a limited number of computers or iPads, that way students can more easily share the technology. I bought the splitters from Amazon here

My second hack are these SUPER cute golf pencils I bought from Amazon. The main reason I love them is because its really hard for kids to use a two inch pencil as a sword. 

Wait, just kidding. That's just one reason I love them. 

I really love them because I was going through SO MANY pencils since the beginning of the year, I HATE sharpening pencils, the kids were chewing on the pencils and the erasers were gone day one. They end up looking pretty beat up after just a week or two (I teach 500 students). 

These golf pencils are cute, have an eraser, MATCH MY DECOR, are harder to chew on because they are so short, and are pretty hard to use as an improvised sword.  I bought them from Amazon here

My third hack connects to pencils. 

Despite all the pluses of the golf pencils, the erasers do wear down. Instead of buying eraser caps, I buy large erasers at the store and rip them in half. I store them in a cup behind my easel and I hand out three per class. 

I'll admit, they do "wander and get lost" sometimes and sometimes students have a hard time knowing the right time to ASK for an eraser (Need to work on developing hand signals!) but it makes my life easier because I don't need to worry about every pencil being perfect.

 I buy the erasers in town but they are similar to these erasers on Amazon (Can you tell I love Amazon?? When I had to tally teacher expenses for my taxes, I just went to My Orders on Amazon and started my list from there!). 

I hope these ideas are helpful and I would love to hear your ideas!


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