Monday, August 29, 2011

Nothing about nothing

Wow, just when I was thinking about deleting all my “store items on TpT” I suddenly start to make a few sells. But then, TpT takes their HUGE cut and I’m left with almost nothing. In the last couple days I have made three sells and I took home less than 50% of each sell. I wonder just how these teachers who are reporting sales of over $75,000.00 dollars are doing that. I know they are elementary teachers but losing such a large cut of everything is ruff.

I know my stuff may not be the best, and I know there just aren’t that many middle school teachers on the site, and I REALLY KNOW that there are even less middle school HISTORY teachers out there. So my chances of doing well are next to now. I was figuring that I just might give everything away then delete it all. I’ll keep the blog no one reads and keep getting their emails, just so I can “keep up with the Jones so to speak”.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Baseball card-style project

I have always been a fan of the old baseball cards. Recently I was at a teacher training session and we did electronic baseball cards. However, I got to thinking about my poor kids that don’t have a computer, done have internet access, of just don’t have the time to do the cards the electronic way.

I came up with a better way to do the same thing. It’s not as fancy or as colorful but it does get the information that I want. I bought a few stacks of 3x5 index cards at Wal*Mart, punch a single hole in the top left-hand corner and pasted them out to my students in sets of six. So I sent a few bucks, but the results were magic.

I then handed of the directions which included a sheet of pictures of each of the names on the paper. (This is a word doc so you can change the names to fit your time period). I explain that picture goes on the blank side and the information required goes on the lined side. I only wanted five bullet points of information. I did not want an essay of long write ups. I just want FACTS. I also wanted the name of the person and the dates of their life. Simple enough.

I have the students over a dozen names to pick from and told them I only wanted five. They chose which five they wanted to do. Freedom of choice works wonders. I tend to get my five back from almost every students because they picked. The hold in the top was for them to ties short string to hold their cards together.

These Baseball cards work like a charm. The item is a simple word doc costing only a buck. Need more info, I will glad to email you about this project and others. As I have always said, I’m just an email away.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Keep reading, it WILL get better...

Ok, by looking at the stats, someone is looking. 53 pages views since that last post went up but no one is speaking. I really would love to know just who is coming by my middle school classroom. At least comment a “Hi” before you leave. I really would like to ‘meet’ you and come by to read what you have written. Don’t just leave me hanging.

I can see where they are coming from. The forum is getting some hits, Rundes Room is getting a few but Sqworl is sending the most folks over. The numbers are not that impressive but at least that tells me I am not doing this in vain. I just need to keep posting this blog address on everything at the forum. Maybe it will kick start the readers.

I have only been posting since late July and I didn’t expect many folks in the first place. Now that school has started I can start blogging about my experiences, post a few of my own freebies, and commenting on other people’s blogs.

My blogs here will be random at best since I have another blog over at Xanga that I write for on a daily basis. This one has to take a back seat while I handle that one.

Visitors have ranged from 34 to two depending on the day. Sure there are bloggers here on TPT that have MUCH higher numbers but they have also been here forever. All I want is a few minimal sales. One or two would be nice. At that point I would start putting up more stuff if I even THOUGHT there was other social studies teacher out here.

I have gotten a few really good comments about my materials, some folks love them and said I am charging too little, others tell me what I am missing so that I can fix them. One person even told me he would have paid $5 for one of my freebies. Sure, my question is "Would he have even looked at it if it was $5?" Am I charging too little?

Class has been wonderful. It’s not that I ‘hated’ my last year’s class; it’s just that this year’s group is really a good one. I am just spending too much time worrying about being part time. I want to be full time at the school. I want to deal with the kids not worried about paying bills.

I have been asked yesterday about coaching girls basketball. It has been years since I did girl’s BB but I have coached both Rec ball and middle school ball. Maybe that’s my ticket to getting full time. I don’t know. I need to think about this.

Today’s freebie is: Archeology-thru-Clay-Pots

Friday, August 19, 2011


My enjoyment of TPT has disappeared. The sales have been DEAD! I mean D-E-A-D. my freebie downloads have been fantastic but the sales don’t exist. Not at all. I have gotten a few comments that have been “constructive” which was nice. I even got one that said my freebie was so good that he would have paid $5 for it. But other than that, TPT has been a bust.

Okay, I know it is early yet and I do know I am a middle school history teacher and at TPT there just isn’t much call for middle school stuff. May I should “dumb” my stuff down so that it fits more into an elementary type classroom activity.

Elementary people‘s stuff seems to sell really well. But I’m not elementary and I’m not much good at high school either. My stuff tends to fit 6-10th for the most part. I’m now looking to move my stuff over to another site where I might get a little more action.

It’s funny, but this blog doesn’t get any action either. I do well on my Xanga blog. I’m always getting comments and I have a few very good friends over there. But here, I am just talking to myself just to hear myself talk.

Now as for my new school, things have gone well as for as my classes are concerned. I love them. However, it seems like I am spending too much of my day “homeless”. I share a room with the other history teacher which is great but for the most part if I don’t camp out in his room all day, no one else wants to see me in their room. I have been “tossed” out of several classrooms this week.

I have wandered down to the library several times. Today I even went home early because I was done for the day. I have been a regular district teacher for the last 21 years and I just don’t know what to do with all my ‘free’ time. I should be busy all day and I’m not.

MY classes have been so fulfilling. The kids love what I do and the other history teacher thinks I am the guru of my subject. I love the fact that he thinks that but I think I could do really good stuff with some ov his classes to make him even better. And he is all fine with that. Like I said, I think he and I work well together.

Next week we will see. I will most likely just show up, teacher my assigned times and go home. My brain can seem to accept that but I will just have to make myself do that.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

This is it, time to start!

It was been so time consuming, getting ready for day one of school. It’s not that I need to be prepared because I am. With 21 years behind me I have my lessons together, they are all mapped out, worksheets typed, power-points done, and what I’m going to say has been rehearsed and told for years. It is the idea that I will be in front of new students, be in a new classroom, be moved around from room to room over the course of the week.

I have to rearrange what I do because I will be in different room on different days. Monday I will teach in the art room with no Promethean board, Tuesday I will be in the history room with everything at my finger tips, the same thing on Wednesday and Thursday; Friday I will be out in the temp building with no Promethean board, no nothing. Each one requires you to do something other than what I have done for years.

I have activities that do not require a board and visuals to work on so moving to different locals isn’t a problem for the students; it’s just a logistical problem for me. I have to rearrange what I do. The kids will never know that I had to change things.

I hope to walk in and just do what I always do and WOW them beyond belief. However, because I stick to my guns’ on things like ‘being on time, having homework, using a black ink pen, and such; I have been told by a couple of teachers that I may not make it here. I ask them if they wanted to start a betting pool to guess at how soon I quit. They back away. These students may not have been held to those standards but that will change – for them.
A few other faculty members said that I will be a breath of fresh air in these kids lives, that will will step up and do what is asked, that I will love them and they will love me. I have so many hands on type projects, very few work sheets, very little “homework”, plenty of tech type assignments, things they are not getting under their normal past teachers.

Several teachers are complaining about the lesson plans they have to write and I’m saying “I have written them in the past” and I have them all done. All I will have to to is rearrange them to meet the needs of my next classroom order. It looks like I will have very little homework to do to be ready for this class other than to rearrange my assignments.

The problem I will have in my “Art in Literature” classes will not be what to do or how t grade. The ELA teacher will tell me what she wants done; I just have to see to it that it gets done. I will only see these kids twice a week and work on what they need to do. She will grade them. We will be creating totem poles for one class, set one will be how the students see themselves currently and the next – finished totem will be how they see themselves in the future. The sixth grade will be working on a Greek mythology project. I don’t have to create the idea because she already has in her mind what she wants to students to do, I just need to instruct them as to how to do them. I can just be an Art teacher and work a lot of one-on-one.

Monday will be a meet and greet time with the kids going to each of their classes for about 20 minutes after an elongated homeroom where all the paperwork will be done. I really just need to hang out because as a part-timer I don’t even have a homeroom. That could change in time to come.

The art teacher has talked to me about coming across the hall anytime I don’t have a class and working with her and her students. She only sees them once or twice a week – strange I know, but that’s another topic. She could use the help so that she – and I – can spend more one-on-one with her students. She has to teach kids from 1st grade to 8th grade and with the lower kids they want her attention all the time and she can’t ever get all things done. I told her I would love being in there. Art is my second/first love. I have an art degree and it was the first one I went after still I got sidetracked in later college years to history.

We will see what life tosses at me after I meet the students tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A habit of the new school

This in-service was like no other that I have had in the last 21 years. We had a guest speaker covering the Seven Habits and the book “the Leader In Me”. It was strange to see the principal actively involved in the in-service just like the rest of us. As she likes to say, she is a “teacher’s principal”.

The Sephen Covy book is the focus of this year’s school. The seven habits will be what we will live by and teach the students about. It seems very straightforward and something I am not used to because my old school system never wanted the students to “win-win” of “understand first”. They were all about the test scores at all cost. Here we are about the whole child and everything is about moving them along the path of leadership.

As I have heard over and over, “It’s a God thing”. I do believe it is – or it has been. I believe I am here for a reason and I have to hand all my problems and issues over to God. He will take care of it if I just let me do His thing. I have always thought that but now I truly BELIEVE it.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People deals with first being BE PROACTIVE vs. REACTIVE. We experience private victories but we need to get to public victories. We need to shift our thinking from the SEE to DO to GET, or Behavior to Results. Everything we do is a Choice and we all choose to respond in a way. It is all choice. Every day we deal with the circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence. One, we have a choice and the other we have no choice. We learned “What can I do?”

The Second habit we will work with is “Begin with the end in mind”. Know where you are going, not where you want to start. In a sense, start with you own obit. How do you want people to remember you? Do what you need to do to get to that remembrance. “Mental creation precedes physical creation.” How many times do we begin teaching something and the kids never know where we are going or what you want them to know. Tell them up front what they need then show them how to get there.

Some great quotes from yesterday second Habit were “I want to be the kind of person my already thinks I am.”, My Mission Statement is “Nothing Less”. MY own became “Live, teach, coach in Love”. That’s me, I love what I do – my family, my job, and my pastime.

Today we will learn Habit Three, to “Put first things first” followed by “Win-Win” and “Seek to understand then to be understood”. It should be another great day in a private school as opposed to the public school system.

By the way, we began with a pray and had one before we had lunch too. They provided lunch instead of making us leave to pay for our own lunch. How nice was that?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Today it starts

You can tell it is school time. I was awake and up at 3 AM. Not that I wanted to be but because my body just would not turn off. I’m sure that in a few hours it will shut down and I will need to take a nap. However, sooner or later I will get back into my normal sleep routine. But for now, it is just too dang early.

So far I have eaten come cereal, read the online newspaper, checked the local TV station’s website, read my Facebook comments, and checked my two email boxes. I checked in on my school website, and personal school page, then checked my stuff on TPT before jumping on this blog.

It is very dark outside but I know that the alarm would have gone off  - or WILL go off – in just about half an hour then it really will be time to get up and get going; two hours after I already got up.

We had a great day yesterday learning about Edline and and what we can and cannot do on our own site. I just need to find out if I can check in on other’s pages to see how and what they have done. I know that I jumped on mine quick last night and uploaded photos and posted calendar events, web links, and other opening items for my students.

Now it is just time to start our regular in-services and do the Stephen Covey “The Leader In Me” training before school starts. I have done a good bit of the reading that is required. I just got the book two days ago so I am behind most of the regular teachers. Plus I have read and finished two of the books the 6/7 grade classes will be doing this year so that I can start my “Art in Lit” classes.

Went I got home yesterday I found a large package waiting for me. It is my new Civil War uniform. All the shirts, pants, coat, belts, buckle, cap and accessories. And it is all wool – regulation material. Wool in August. I tried it on but boy is it HOT. Good thing I won’t be wearing this till December or January. It is all very heavy. How did those guys in the 1860’s wear this stuff – and fight in this material?

It’s 5 AM and now I am getting sleepy!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Last day of summer!

Here it comes. Tomorrow is the first day of my new life – except for the fact that my new life has been starting in spits and puttering for over two weeks now. Tomorrow we will be going over techie stuff that I have been dying to learn. I will take what they “teach” us and run with it full force. I know what is coming; I just can’t get into it until they give me my password and my new email account.

I have surfed the EdLine website, loved at all that I can do, and tried to get familiar with the program before I get access. I have told the teacher that within a couple a days she could use my site as an example of what can and should be done on the site.

Once I get my email account for the new school I can get in touch with a few of my former friends at the old school and ask them to stay in touch. I have some very long-time, and very good friends that I don’t want to lose. I hope that we stay in contact right along with my new teacher friends.

It’s going to be hard to sleep tonight knowing that my summer vacation is over and life starts anew tomorrow. I have met several of my new students and prepared for my first week’s classes. However, this week will be my dress rehearsal of all my lessons, getting my printouts done, and preparing what I will say and do those first couple of days.

You can tell I’m a class nerd. It may be my 22nd year but my stomach is all aflutter.  I am ready to jump in with both feet. I have my students signed up for my online quizzes and ready for their online Collaborize Classroom essays. I want 70-80% of their work done online and parents to help them and me.

I need to quit typing and call it a night but I can’t. Guess I’ll go read TPT, upload a few new assignments, worksheets, and other goodies. I’ll look into their forums, check Facebook, check on my Twitter account and just keep busy until I can’t hold my eyes open.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Two Days to go

I have talked to the systems bus transportation people so that we can use their bus for my history club. I talked to my favorite bus driver and she is so glad to drive for me and the new school. She told me, “You are gonna love these kids. It’s not what you have been used to all these years. They will love you and what you are going to bring to them.” That’s another good sign that the HEART made the right decision.

As I signed all my pay paperwork for the new school I did not add anything to the check. I NEED the full check since it will be so much less than I used to make. But God called me to do this and from all comments, I have made the right choice. The principal always says “It’s a God thing!” I hope so.

The room is ready, my day one plans are set, my in-service reading is done, and I have keeps to most everything in the school. I have an in-service Monday evening on Ed-Line, the website that applies the teachers to let parents and students know what is going on every day. From what I hear it is a lot like BlackBoard so I can do all my wizardly stuff to make it my own.

So as you can see this is my last weekend of peace and quiet. I never stop working of doing things. I have uploaded tons of things to TeachersPayTeachers to maybe get something going. As a secondary school teacher sales have been dead with a capital “D”. I did have one person who sent me a compliment when he said the freebie I was offering was “Awesome! I would be willing to pay $5 for this. Thanks for making it free!”

I comment back that I’m glad he could use it. My own students loved it and that why I designed it. I would be willing to give all my stuff away if only TPT would let me. I figure that if it works for me maybe if could work for someone else. No, I do not think all my stuff is that good but it helps my own students and that is the only thing I am trying to do.

Sorry but is not about the money, it’s about helping students. I guess that’s why I love doing this.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The NEWBIE Strikes!

So the new year began today – sort of. I had a “new teacher orientation” from 8-noon. I attended as a 21 year “NEWBIE” teacher but it is all about new to this school. Maybe I need get a map of the school, a tour of the teachers’ lounge that I never go into, and were the faculty restrooms are or things of that sort.

There are little things everyday that need me to look into but nothing that I HAVE to do. Now come Friday evening I have a “Math Night” meeting (their version of Drop Everything And Read) to go to with all the middle school teachers, then Saturday there is a “Safeguarding God’s Children” class that I have to attend.

Real school starts next Tuesday for our first in-service. That will continue Wednesday and Thursday also. School for the students begins on Monday the 15. By then I better be ready. Everything else begins as the school has given me a full calendar for everyday of the year. Boy this school has something planned from pre-school to 8th grade dances and assemblies.

At my old school I had to beg for stuff to put on the calendar each month.

Today I got my brand new laptop and an offer to help with the school’s webpage. I KNEW IT WAS COMING but if it means I can get closer to 100% I’ll take it. I was also asked about a school wide TV production which I would love to do very much.

Life is picking up as the school year gets closer and closer.