Friday, May 29, 2015

May Recap

It's the last Friday of the Month!  So it's time to link up with Julie at Faulkner's Fast Five and do a quick recap:



1.  I gave my finals during May and started (somewhat) my summer vacation!  I say somewhat because I have been doing some day to day subbing and attended some profession development and am working on special projects for my job.  But still...what a relief.

2.  I had my 3rd interview for the position I really want.  (I am still waiting to hear back.)  The waiting is the worst part isn't it?  Every time my phone rings I jump!

3.  I posted new products in my store!  Stay tuned for a post about how I teach my Fairy Tale project!



4.  I was appointed to the Standing Committee on International Affairs for NCTE! (That happened today!)  It's a 3 year commitment which means I have a great excuse to go to NCTE for 3 years in a row!  I'm also presenting there this year so I'm doubly excited.

5.  I got an interview for a summer hostessing job!  I've never been in the service industry but I decided to go for it.  I should find out Monday if they liked me or not!


Click the Friday Flashback image to check out other Teacher Bloggers posts about their May!


Thanks for reading! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Set Your Sub up for Success: Tips and Tricks for Classroom Teachers

I've given plenty of tips to substitutes themselves but I think there are several things that teachers can do to set their substitutes up for success as well.  So here's what I like to see from teachers when I am subbing:

1.  Seating Charts.  I really appreciate when teachers leave a seating chart.  A lot of the online software now allows you to create these with pictures too which is useful.  This helps me identify students and usually, because you know what you're doing, helps the class be set up to be successful.

2. Detailed plans.  Please leave detailed plans.  If they are working on something from the day before please tell me exactly what the directions were, when it's due etc.  Also leave early finisher work!

3. Assignments that must be turned in.  I can't stress this enough.  Please have something that MUST be turned in and then make sure to give them credit for it.  When students feel like they can turn it in later the class period turns into a free for all and it's much harder to control them.



4.  Too much work to finish.  This goes along with the first part.  Give so much work there will be NO DOWN TIME.  Then I can collect what is finished and tell them to do the rest at home or I can collect it all and tell them I'll mark down who used their time wisely and who didn't.

5.  Codes necessary to access technology.  Depending on your school this is more or less necessary but if the subs at your school do not get their own access codes please make sure that you leave one.  Honestly, this is important even if you do not plan on the sub using technology.  If I need to kill time or something happens where your assignment doesn't work I can usually come up with a quick fix but it typically uses the computer.

6.  Information.  Is someone allowed to have a specific device? Wear a hat? Take a break if stressed?  Knowing what those accommodations are help alleviate awkward situations.  Who can I ask for help? Students? Staff?  Are there any tricks to dealing with certain students?  A little information goes a long way.

7.  High expectations.  Consequences.  Leave your students with high expectations and follow through on consequences.  Especially early in the year make an example of students who are given a bad report from the sub.  Send them to the office, give a detention, or whatever your system is.  Once students realize that you take subs seriously they typically do too!  It'd be awesome if you can reward them if they're good too!

I've created a Sub Binder with these tips in mind.  You can find it in my store HERE.

Edited to add: I've linked up with Secondary Smorgasbord!
Check out the posts below about having a sub in your class


Check out the products below to help subs in your classes be successful!

What would you add?

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

My Summer Bucket List 2015

I am already on summer break technically and I'm already getting bored.  Until the local schools get out for summer I'll be subbing as much as possible to try and earn a little extra cash.  I am also scheduled to teach a few classes but there is a strong chance that they won't hit their enrollment or that full time faculty will be given them so I need any chance at income I can have.  Money will be tight this summer so I'm creating a mostly FREE or at least cheap summer bucket list.

I'm from the Cleveland area so while some of these are specific to my area I'm sure many other metropolitan areas have similar events going on.


1.  Edgewater Live!  Our public parks system started putting on these great outdoor concert/gatherings on Thursday nights all summer.  They have food trucks, activities for families, and great live music all on the shores of Lake Erie.  I plan on hitting up a few of these!

2.  Shakespeare in the Park! I love this.  Every summer the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival puts on two different plays every weekend in parks around the city!  This year it is Timon of Athens and Merchant of Venice. It comes right to my local park so I can't wait!  I'll try to see both shows.

3.  The Beach!  For those of you who don't know... Lake Erie, and the great lakes in general are huge.  They are like looking at the ocean- you can't see across.  (Some of my friends from elsewhere in the country were surprised by that)  Therefore they have beaches.  With less undertow and no sharks!  I want to lay out and get some sun a few times this year.

4.  Tremont Art Walk!  I've meant to go to this for years and never have.  Held the 2nd Friday of every month the Tremont Art Walk is held in a trendy neighborhood in Cleveland and involves tons of art galleries being open and just a festive atmosphere.

5.  The Cleveland Zoo!  My parents have a membership or I can go on Mondays when all residents of the county can go for free!  I haven't been in such a long time but it really is a great gem.

6.  Hiking!  I'm going on a nature lover family vacay to North Carolina (ok yes that costs money) but I'll hike a lot there and hope to do some around here at home too!

7.  Swimming!  My parents belong to a yacht club so hopefully they'll let me tag along to their pool a few times.

9.  Backyard fires!  Unfortunately my townhouse doesn't have a backyard but lots of my friends do.  Here's hoping for lots of s'mores (I like my marshmallows crispy- how about you) and fun with friends.

10. Festivals!  Cleveland has so many festivals I can't even hope to list them all here.  But I'm going to try to hit up several for free entertainment and cheap street food!

What are you doing this summer to keep busy?

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Teacher Organization: The Binder Method

I think I've written about the fact that I struggle with organization before.  Obviously I have tons of things on my computer, but I'm a visual person and I personally find it easier to keep paper copies of handouts, worksheets, rubrics etc.

I like to divide up my lessons thematically or by specific texts.  I then keep master copies of all activities in clear page protectors in binders.  This makes it a lot faster for me to make copies.  I can pull out a sheet and stick a post it on it with the number of copies needed.  It also helps me compare different activities side by side without having to print copies I don't need.

I've started creating binder covers for my binders.  Here's the set I have so far.  A photo will be forthcoming!


I'm looking for more topics to create covers to so please feel free to suggest some!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

School's Out for Summer!

Ahh, teaching college means I AM DONE!  Well, until summer semester is happening but I'm only teaching 4 credit hours so it won't be so bad!

I'm linking up with The Language Arts Classroom and Faulkner's Fast Five for this fun Sailing into Summer blog hop!



Here are 5 things to think about as you wrap up your year.


1)      Keep finals simple.  I make my final papers due several days before the end of the semester and have a very short (easy to grade) final in class.  This keeps them accountable, but also makes it so I can have my final grades in on time! I use this activity for my students:


2)      The end of the year is a great time to reflect upon your teaching strategies.  Several things worked well in my classes this year.  One thing I really want to keep is the memoir unit with my first semester writing class.  I loved learning about my students, and I allowed them to write their memoirs in any mode they wanted to which resulted in some very creative results!  I use my classroom questionnaires to help get feedback quickly and easily.


3)      Despite the good things I always want to change things up.  Next year I'd like to try a problem based learning experience in at least one of my classes.  I'd also like to fine tune my portfolio system and my feedback system.



4)      Teacher and student gifts are very popular around this time of year.  One year I gave my closest colleagues beach bags with water bottles, powdered lemonade, a trashy romance novel, and a beach towel.  They cost about $10 each and it was great.  For students, when I had a small class I wrote them each a personalized letter discussing their strengths.  I loved doing it.

5)      What do I do to stay organized? Binder clips and file folder rubber bands.  This helps prevent the inevitable pile of papers spilling all over the floor.  I still need to perfect my systems though.


Thanks for reading! How are you sailing into summer?  Don't forget to check out the rest of the participating blogs!

Friday, May 8, 2015

CCSS Alignment for Ms. F's Products!

This is my first, in a series, of Common Core alignment pages for my products.  This one is just for the Reading: Literature portion for Grades 9-10.  I have listed each standard in its entirety,  potential "I can" statements for each standard, and each of my products that I feel most appropriately deals with that standard.  Hopefully this helps you find the products you need to teach the skills your students are expected to know!  Some are text specific but some can be used for any text!  To find each product go to My Store and use the search box to search the title listed!



 Thanks for reading! I'd love to know if you find this useful or not!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Teachers I Appreciate

It's teacher appreciation week and many people are sharing with the world the teachers that influenced them.  I thought I'd give some quick shout outs to a few key teachers from my life.

Mrs. Pine (Kindergarten)  She was young and fun and gave me a great first introduction to school.  She left at spring break when she had a baby but I'll always remember her!

Fred DiFillipo (1st Grade)  Mr. D will forever be remembered as the teacher who always had a jar out filled with various things for us to guesstimate the amount of and for showing us The Letter People.  Later, I found that he went to Xavier University just like I did and whenever I'd visit during college he'd give me some money so I could bring him Busken cookies the next time I was home.  Oh, and lets not forget that he was in one of the best bands ever... The Skinny Boys!  Along with Mr. Hovan (the sign language interpreter) and Mr. Curtain (the gym teacher who was later our principal).  Man could they wail on the Taft School Shuffle.   In honor of Mr. D here's my favorite letter:

Kim Vivolo (2nd Grade) I believe I've written about her before.  She instilled a love of reading in me and I credit her with all my oral reading skills.  She showed me how to add inflection and use voices when reading aloud, a skill I value to this day.  Just a great spirit too.  So happy and friendly and energetic.

Colleen Feighan (3rd Grade)  This was the year we got to read Charlotte's Web my favorite children's book.  We also raised chicks (I just found my book all about their life cycle).  My egg never hatched (Tinkerbell) so I got to share with my friend Tara.  Our chick was Yum-Yum.  I also remember learning about different artists because she had an art degree as well.

Mrs. Kirby (4th grade)  Mrs. Kirby loved pigs.  I love pigs.  We were meant to get a long.  I loved her class and even got to go to her house for lunch once!  She was such a fun lady.

Julie Tabaji (6-8) band. Julie set me on a 11.5 year journey of playing in band.  Because of her I have the best memories. She taught us to improvise and love polka.   Her energy was and still is contagious!

Mrs. King (8th grade) Social Studies and language arts.  She had lots of creative lessons and high expectations.  I wrote my first 5+ page paper for her.  Oh I wish I could find it.

Ms. Schwartz (8th grade)  Science.  This was one of two years in my life I enjoyed science.  It was so hands on!  She was another full of life teacher with a great sense of humor.

Gail Meinke (9th grade) English.  I loved this class.  I'll never forget writing on chart paper in the hallways and creating zines.  This is when we really started analyzing literature instead of just reading.

Jamie Cure (10th grade) English.  I will forever remember this humanities themed course where we used an old school textbook.  We kept track of all the allusions to things we'd read that we saw out and about.  To this day I see something and think "10th grade allusion."  She was tough but smart and I probably learned more in that class than most of the rest of the classes I took that year combined.

Holly Schafer (10-12th grade) Homeroom and AP gov't.  Schafer was young.  I'm now past the age she was our senior year which really hits home.  She was so energetic and excited about teaching.  Our homeroom had SO MUCH FUN with her.  My AP gov't class was just 10 girls and she taught us a LOT.  I also remember her giving us advice about relationships and scheduling classes in college.

Dave Hille (12th grade) FUN Physics.  I only needed one more science credit so I took the lowest level of physics I could.  Best decision ever.  Just like my 8th grade science class I loved it because it was hands on and interesting.  Mr. Hille was also a young teacher and had great ideas to keep us engaged.  As an inclusion class a couple of my friends and I got the opportunity to help others who needed more assistance which was cool too.

David Gannon (9-12th grades) Drama, Communications & Media etc.  I took Mr. Gannon for several classes as well as performed in several shows he directed.  Every time I hear "Scaramouche Scaramouche will you do the fandango" in Bohemian Rhapsody I think of him and the lesson he did on the Comedia del Arte  (did I spell that right?).  His classes introduced me to students I didn't normally get to interact with and really gave me a lot of knowledge that I wouldn't have gotten in just my core classes.

I'm sure I'm missing a few- and there are some teachers I appreciate for showing me what not to do now that I am a teacher but I'll leave them nameless.

I have been beyond blessed in my life to have these amazing teachers.  I truly don't think I'd be where I am now if any of them hadn't been present in my life when they were.  I'm lucky that I'm still in contact with at least a third of this list.  So teachers, if you read this-- Thank you.  Oh, and I apologize.... I now realize though I was never the "bad" kid I was probably the overly talkative, bother you before class when you're setting up, never let you breathe kid.  Whoops.


Thanks for reading! And don't forget to take a second and say "thank you" to the teachers who influenced you in your life.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week 2015: Round Up of Deals

Lots of stores are running promotions for Teachers Appreciation Week which runs from May 3-9th in the US this year.  I'm going to keep updating this list as I am made aware of the deals so keep checking back!


1.  Chipotle: On May 6th bring in your teacher ID and get a BOGO deal on either a burrito, bowl, salad, or taco order!  Can you say "Date night?!"   Fasle alarm- it was an old ad making the rounds.  They have decided not to do anything for TA this year.  Boo!

2.  Office Depot:  Throughout the week Office Depot is offering $5 off of $25.  You're probably running out of supplies so do one last stock up before the end of the year!

3. Staples:  Throughout the week Staples is offering 40% back in rewards on teaching supplies.  Not too shabby.  PS if you haven't signed up for their teaching program you need to.  It's free and worth it.

4.  McDonalds:  This seems like it might be regional but it's worth asking about.  The article linked to here is for Arizona teachers can they can get a key tag to get a free drink every day till the end of the year!  I'm definitely going to be asking my local McDonalds.

5. Cici's Pizza:  From 4pm-Close on May 5th teachers get a free buffet!  I'm assuming you need to buy a drink.  I love that you can special order pizzas at the buffet since I can't have cheese.  Hmm I'm supposed to be eating healthy but this is a tempting offer.


Let me know of any large scale opportunities you've heard about this week and I'll update my list!

Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Teaching Writing: Thesis Statement Thoughts

Do your students struggle with writing thesis statements?  Mine definitely do.  I find it challenging to help them see that they can come up with several different ones and use them to guide their writing. They don't realize they can edit them later if their paper took a different turn.  Or, for some students- they just can't get past writing a statement of fact for a thesis statement.

To solve this problem I created this presentation to teach my students about the types of thesis statements that can be used for different types of writing.



I also recently found the idea of a "Thesis StatementThrowdown" which I'd like to try in the future. Check out Caitlyn Tucker's blog post about it here!

Another interesting site that I came across but have not gotten to experiment with too much yet is this Thesis Generator.  I think I'll have my summer class play with it to see if it helps!

Lastly, for a cross-curricular approach this three part lesson from Teaching History helps students learn to write thesis statements in response to DBQs (Document Based Questions).

How do you teach your students about thesis statements?

Thanks for reading!