Friday, March 24, 2017

Why Teachers Need Their Teacher Tribes

Teachers, take a close look at your colleges, do they want the same things for your student as you do?  Do they share the same passions and interest for teaching as you do?  I'm sure they truly do care about their students and teaching or most of them wouldn't be doing what they do.  But, do they (really) have that underlying craving for teacher engagement like you do.? I know you do or you wouldn't be here reading this right now.
Teacher Engagement at the French Lick 2017 Blogger Meetup
There are two types of teachers;  those that teach and those that TEACH (Teachers Engaging All Children Happily).  It means they are excited to engage their students.  For those of us who TEACH, we need more from our professional developments that our district offers.  We don't need another PD day where we analyze DIBELS data or look over yet another adopted curriculum.  We need to be inspired by others who are like minded.  We need to be surrounded by other teachers who feel the same way about teaching as we do.
T.E.A.C.H Teachers Engaging All Children Happily
This is why I am willing to travel 2,500 each way across the country for the weekend each year, just to be with other educators who are just as passionate about teaching as I am.  The weekend puts me in a room filled with other teachers who aren't afraid to "Think Different" be different and teach differently all to engage the students.  

This past weekend.  I connected with educators from all over the United States and Canada, sharing ideas, swapping stories and laughing a lot.  It is important for teachers to find their tribe, if you can't find it within the walls of your school, look elsewhere, perhaps another school, online in a Facebook group or message board.  Wherever it is, know that there are others like you that feel the same passion you do for teaching.  Don't be discouraged by those who you work with, close your door and do your thing.  Do what makes you happy.  Remember, a happy teacher makes a happy class.



Saturday, March 18, 2017

So You Want to Open a TpT Store

I am often asked how hard it is to be a full time teacher, wife, mom and a TpT seller.  I'll tell you the truth, life is hard, but it isn't impossible.   Many people do it and you can too.  However it isn't just making cute little worksheets on your computer then putting them up into cyber space and waiting for the money to come rolling in.  Theres a lot more to it than that.  



So you want to open a TpT store.  Let me break it down for you.  First Lets start with the actual product creation.

Your Product Must be your Original Idea
Do not take an idea you saw o Pinterest and recreate it
Don’t alter a Freebie from another seller
There are probably things you do everyday in your classroom that
you have come up with all on your own that would be valuable to
Stay away from big names like Dr. Seuss, Pete the Cat  Elf on a
Shelf for copyright reasons. Just because others do it doesn’t
mean it is alright. Trust me it isn’t fun to get a cease and desist letter. 
Tools of The Trade
For product creation PowerPoint, Keynote, Pages, Photoshop, or illustrator can be used.  When I first started out I didn’t know better and I used MS Word.  I spent countless hours trying to nudge graphics around my page trying to line everything up.  If only someone had told me to just use PowerPoint.

Fonts: 
There are so many fonts out there.  You’ve probably heard the jokes about not using Comic Sans.  I too used to use it in the beginning.  Hey it’s what I had. However, things have changed and now there are so many font choices and font designers.  When creating products Just make sure to follow the font designers’ TOU. If they require a license for their font in order for you to sell a product using their font.  Please buy the license.  Think of it this way.  If the font only cost you $5 you will essentially recoup the cost of the font within one sale.    Just don’t get too crazy with your font usage in a product.  You want your products to be readable by kids.  It’s one thing to have fancy fonts on the covers, but for the text that students are reading make it easy on the eyes. These are a few font designers who offer font licenses for all of their fonts.



Clipart:
Clipart will most likely be one of your ongoing expenses.  I have an obsession with clipart.  I have one designer that I use primarily in most of my products and then back-ups if that designer doesn’t have what I need.  For me I like my products to have a uniformity when using clipart- this is something I didn’t think about early on and it shows in my earlier products.  Just like font designers Clipart artist also have TOU for their work.  Be sure to follow and respect these as well.  Some will allow their work to be used on interactive products, smartboards, or webpages and others will not.These are just a few of my favorite Clipart artists'.




Be sure to give The artists' credit in your products.   Most sellers have a credits page stating this product was made using the following resources then it will list the fonts and clipart designers logos with links to their stores. 

·      Cover page
·      Additional contact page (should there be any issues/typos)
·      A terms of use Page
·      Credits Page
·      Advertisement of other products page

Once your product is complete you will need to flatten and secure your product.  This protects your work and the images that you used from being copied/lifted.  I use Adobe Acrobat Pro to secure all my products.  I can also use it to make products editable.  There are FREE programs out there to secure, however, I am not familiar with them.  I bought Adobe Pro my first year. It was money well spent. I bought mine on Amazon.
(Please know that clicking this link that you are clicking an affiliate link)  

Remember it Takes Money to Make Money
The TpT Store & All Of It’s Components

When you open a TpT store you want to open a Premium Seller Store.  I know $59.99 might seem like a lot of money, it did to me too when I first started out, but you make it back and in the end, it is a tax write off.  Also, you will make that money back faster because of the ratio of money that TpT keeps when you are a Premium Seller versus not being a premium seller.

Selecting a Store Name
When choosing your store name be creative, but not too creative.  You want people to remember your store name easily.  Also, don’t copy another store’s name.  For example, I’m Time 4 Kindergarten, so please don’t open a store and call it Time Four Kindergarten or Time for Kindergarten.   

What is in a TpT store?
Your Profile Picture
When selecting your profile picture, you will need an image that is round. You can choose a photo such as your blog button if you have one like I did or a photo of yourself.  However,  the photo should be of high quality, not a selfie or something that you cropped your family out of.  Remember this is the face of your store.  Look at the landing page of TpT and see what others use as their Profile Picture.  You'll quickly pick out the ones that aren't professional looking.   This is a business treat is like one.  

Personal Quote/Quote Box
This is a space that recently has become quite popular as an extra space to feature products in stores.    There are several tutorials available on how to design an animated Gif for your quote box or you can pay another TpT’er  like I did to do it for you.  Time is money.  After I spent a few hours trying to make my own, I decided I had other things I could be doing with my time, like sleep…  Thanks to Lindsey Nagorski I have exactly what I want. 

Store Banner
Your store banner is yet another way to welcome customers into your store, tell them about a new product, or just add a little pizzazz and monthly thematic flair.  To change this, you first need to go to your Dashboard> marketing> customize from there you can upload your image.  Jillian Starr offers Free Monthly Store Banners if you don’t want to make your own.  The below is not one of hers, I actually felt creative this month.
 
My Featured Items
This is your retail store space to feature four of your products.  Think of it as yet another store window.  Many sellers including myself often feature products that are seasonal, or a new release.  Whatever you choose you want the product covers to reflect your brand and your store.
 
Custom Categories
These categories are on the left side.  This is where you can create categories that fit your specific product descriptions.  Think about the types of products you create and what you will potentially create in the future.  You will be tagging your products with these categories.  Notice that I have also used icons to dress up my custom fields.  This can be achieved by using symbols or copypaste characters.  Visit http://www.copypastecharacter.com/  for a variety of characters to use.


My Product is Secure-It's Time to Upload to TpT
Upload your product to TpT along with 4 images of your product.  These can either be images that TpT creates from the PDF or images that you make or take of the product.  

Next if you are on Pinterest make a pin for your product and pin it.  If you have a blog, blog about it, show it being used in your classroom.  If you have a FB page for your blog, share it.  If you are on Instagram, share it there too.   The more you spread the word about your product, the more likely you are to get the word about your product out there.  However, don’t spam the web all at once.  I like to wait a few hours or even a day in between. 

I have compiled below some resources that I have found to be helpful for those who are just starting out and those who just need a refresher along the way.

Great Resources from TpT Authors on How to TpT
       How do I TpT?


Want to take your Pinterest or Blogging to the next level? Take a class online from Blog clarity

Or Maybe you are ready to try your hand at Smartphone Marketing. This online course is Amazing.  I started it last summer and Tabitha is always adding to it. The online Facebook group is so much help too.  

I hope you have found all of this to be valuable and somewhat helpful to getting your TpT store off the ground.  There are a lot of resources out there to help you get started.   The TpT community is full of wonderful teacherprenuers who are a supportive group.   We look out for each other and will come together when needed.  I have made many friendships all because of TpT.


Monday, February 6, 2017

My Show and Tell Apron: An Apron that Teaches

Happy Monday, Today this post is all about something I just absolutely LOVE!!!! The person behind it is one of the most creative, talented and fabulous, people I have ever met. In 2012  I was lucky enough to meet Sandy Welch at the I Teach K conference in Las Vegas.  Sandy is the genius creator of the amazing Show and Tell Aprons.  After seeing these aprons, I just new I had to have one.  Of course I wanted it to match my classroom and Sandy was willing to accommodate my special request.
Show and Tell Teaching Apron:Show and Tell Aprons  are a must for every primary classroom.  These versatile aprons can be used in all curricular areas.  Once you start using your apron you'll wonder how you ever managed to teach without it.
I LOVE  my Show and Tell teaching apron. I use this apron all the time. At the beginning of the year, when I am introducing letter names and sounds, I can load the pockets with the letters and picture cards to quiz my kids as they enter the classroom.  As we move on to word families and CVC words, I have cards for these too.  For math I have cards for subitizing, number recognition, ten frames, base ten and tally marks.
Show and Tell Teaching Apron
The apron have 5 clear plastic pockets for the cards.  Under that there are two cloth pockets that can hold extra cards.
Show and Tell Teaching Apron
Here are a few more examples of how I use my apron
  • Password/Exit Ticket: as students enter or exit I quiz them
  • Walk-About Assessment: as I walk about I can quickly check-in with kids and assess
  • Story Retelling: the pockets are great for sequencing- 
  • Math: addition, subtraction, use for number bonds
  • Rhyming: which pictures rhyme
  • Sound segmenting/Word blending: 
  • Sight Word of the day: 
  • Mix up Sight Word: Great to mix up the spelling of a sight word and have students figure out the magic word.
Be sure to visit Sandy's Website to order your very own Show and Tell Apron.  There are some great videos there as well on other ways to use your apron.   

Now, to jump start your collection of cards, you can get your own set of Brown Bear Brown, Bear Story Retelling cards for Free from my TpT store 

Be sure to read how my other blogging buddies are using their Show and Tell Aprons in their classrooms too.  You will see why we all LOVE Sandy and her FABULOUS aprons.  Once you have one you will too.  

Want to see how my other blog friends are using their aprons, head over to Mrs. Wills Kindergarten and see for yourself.

P. S. If you already own one, please share how you use it.  

Have a great week.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

100th Day of School, Hooray!!!

It's that time of year when schools are preparing to celebrate the 100th day of school- sorry f you've already had yours.  Our 100th day is January 31st.  It seems to come earlier every year.  I guess that is becasue we seem to start school earlier each year.
Celebrate the hundredth day of school with fun and engaging activities that are sure to keep your students busy all day long while learning and having fun.

This year our 100th day falls on a Tuesday which is our half day.  This means
we will be cutting our festivities short.  I'm not sure how we will be cramming a full day of fun into a half day of school.  I think we will have to skip our computer time that day just to fit something else in.  

On Monday at the end of the day I'll have my kids make their 100th day hats so they can wear them first thing in the morning.
100th day of school hats from Hooray for the 100th Day of School pack by Time4Kindergarten
After our school wide morning assembly we will get the party started! The students will rotate through centers creating and completing the following...  
100th day Necklace
100th day of school necklace  from Time4kindergarten
Writing Numbers to 100
Write numbers to 100 by Time4Kindergarten
When I'm 100
This is always a favorite of mine, their answers are hysterical.  I use the aging app and take their picture a few days before and have them printed so they can have their picture when they do their writing. Some say they will be bald, or have canes or wrinkles. 
100th day writing activity with Aging Booth App
Making a 100 Day Snack
100th day of school snack by Time4kindergarten Download the free snack sign up sheet
Want labels to go on your students bags so they don't mix up their bags, becasue you know they will.  Plus labels are just fun and festive. I use the Avery 8153 labels to print on.  All you do is highlight where it says name.
100th Day Snack label from Time4kindergarten
Snack Sign-Up List 

All of the above activities can be found in my Hooray for the 100th day of school pack in my TpT store
Click to see pages from the pack
video

At the end of the day we will have a school-wide classroom caravan to view all the 100 days classroom projects.  Here are some projects from last year.
100th day projects
100th Day of School Books
100th day of school books
I will also be placing out a book browsing box this week for the kids to look at.  I have a large collection of 100th day books that I have collected over the years. Many can be purchased through my affiliate link from Amazon. Should you should to click through, any money I make through affiliate links goes directly back into my classroom to purchase teaching supplies.

  

I hope you have a FABULOUS!!!! 100th day of school.  I know we will my class is getting so excited about it. Every day during our calendar math time they keep telling me how many more days we have until our big celebration.  I
m just glad it isn't on a Monday again.
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