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Saturday, March 11, 2017

ProClick Heaven

I broke down and finally bought the binding system of my dreams.  I have been looking at these for years.  I have never liked the comb systems and didn't want to spend hours threading them through.  I also have hand punch and coiling different kinds of books and always found them tedious.  I always felt like if the wire was easy enough to work with (like 20 gauge) then it was soft enough to bend out of shape.

I've been spending a lot of time on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I have been mostly downloading free stuff for the last few years. However, this summer I bought a grammar pack that I love.  I have used it throughout the year.  Sadly, we are only a fourth of a way through it, but I think it has been helpful as grammar instruction is not a focal point in our curriculum.  (We focus more on reading!) I also just purchased a checklist file that I absolutely love.  In the instructions and pictures, it shows the ProClick system along with tabs!  (I also love tabs!) I showed my terrific co-teacher and she now wants one also.  I see about 130 students throughout the day (however, some are the same students whom I have 2X a day.) So it might be hard for me to make each one a book.  However, I do have a type of "reading" class, a literacy club, and a social studies club with about 25 students in each.  That is manageable.  I also have a teacher-reading group that I could make books for.  (I don't know if they would all appreciate this, but I know some might!) I did my online research and did find one new Pro Click on eBay. It was $49.99 for a starting bid.  I was going to bid on it, but I could not figure out my eBay username. I think I possibly deleted my account because I spent so much on it before. (Ah, I loved those lots of Tim Holtz art supplies!) So I ended up getting one on Amazon Prime for about $70.  With the plastic covers (25), the black back covers (25), and the 100 spines, the total came to about $170!  Okay, that is a lot, but I decided I would make my own grade book,  planner, and parent contact binders for school next year.  The grade book I use is about $25, the Erin Condren planner is at least $75, and when I order the parent contact it is probably $14.  Now, I can customize my own things that will fit for middle school.  Most teacher items out there are geared toward elementary school. Another nice thing is that I only pay about $9.99 for ink since I got my HP Officejet 5740.  I feel like I can print so much for pennies and it looks great.  I was always stingy about ink before but now I want to print in color.
Since I got this system a few days ago, I've made a student checklist book that I can use for anything. I'm trying to focus on positive participate and acts rather than talking out and forgetting materials. I also made a class sign-out sheet.  I like the idea of both not being in a huge binder so we can take both to the library or on a fire drill.  I have a lot of future projects in mind:

*Substitute teacher information book and plans
*Pencil sign-in and out book
*Reading strategies
*Year long vocabulary words book
*Our warm-up sentence editing book
*One with every reference handout I give out
*A "How to..." book like "How to head a paper" and "How do I sign-out a book"
*Technology book (passwords, links, directions)
*Procedures books
*Class quotes
*Book reviews
*Student suggestions
*Masterlist of things to change for next year
*Book of things that people (teachers!) have borrowed (they often do not return them)
*Class narratives
*Student projects
*Donation tracker
*Classroom library manual for student librarian
*Class jobs

Personal projects:
*Kids parties organizer
*Life book
*Health and fitness tracker
*Budget/spending tracker
*House organization/donations
*Tax donation tracker
*Skill books for kids
*Photo books for kids
*Family recipe book
*Family genealogy book
*House passwords/security
*Car/house information
*Birthday tracker/cards

The possibilities are endless. I also ordered the clear plastic sheets and the shiny black back covers.  I love how the pages lay flat and can be folded back.  I am tired of huge binders that I have to lug around.  I ordered the 5/16" box of 100 black spines.  However, I am probably going to order the bigger spines so I can add more papers. There is also an easy open tool that I did not get.  You can also "edit" or open the spines with a pen to add and remove more sheets.  I have just torn out a few pages so far.

I am working on learning how to make my own Teachers Pay Teachers style items.  Most of them are made with Power Point whereas I prefer Microsoft Word.  However, I have to update.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

IPad Pro Finally!

After Black Friday, I finally bought myself an iPad Pro.

I had purchased a Samsung Notebook 10.1 that I really loved.  However, there was a problem with the power button being depressed and the screen went black. I had the screen replaced by a friend, but he said that it was only a temporary fix.  Samsung would not replace the device so it barely lasted a year.  The major things that I loved about that Samsung was the multi-tasking and the pen.  I need the pen.  I used to draw and annotate as much as I could. I was able to print from it, but I had issues accessing some of my files from my other computers.  I loved watching movies and playing games on that thing too.  When it died, I set it on a shelf with thoughts of buying something more substantial.   I really wanted a iPad Pro when I heard about the Apple Pencil.  I had gotten a few iPads from donations for school. They had held up pretty well for years. Sometimes if something got on the screen of my Samsung, it would malfunction.

So I started looking at the iPad Pro, but the price was just too much.  I really didn't want to spend that much because I had just gotten my Mac Book Pro a year before.  Did I really "need" a tablet?  No.  I really didn't.  I went tablet-free for months.  Then, around Black Friday, I started seeing ads for the 12.7 inch iPad for less than $800.  I knew that I wanted the biggest "canvas" I could have.  I really missed drawing and doing art work on a table. I visualized how organized I would be with the iPad pro.  I would always keep it with me.  I would use it for everything!

So, when I saw a deal on Walmart for $725, I finally bought it.  I also got the Apple Pen for $99.  I was planning to wait and buy the "perfect" case and screen cover on Amazon.  My iPad came very quickly, but I had to wait almost a week for the Apple Pen.  I ended up buying a beautiful leather case  from KAVAJ on Amazon.  (  I really love it.  I also got a case with a separate keyboard from Best Buy that I like, but am not using right now. I find the keyboard on the iPad is fine to use.  I bought a glow-in-the-dark Apple Pen holder for the charger and a magnetic pen hold for when I use my keyboard case.

Now, I can't imagine life before my iPad.  My favorite app is PDF Expert.  I downloaded my language arts curriculum and can annotate my lessons and units. There are times when I just put the iPad under the document camera to go over certain things.  Of course, my nephew had put many of his favorite games on it along side my favorite games.  I love the app Sketches and I am able to keep notebooks for everything from school things to handwriting to ideas.  My niece and nephew like some of the handwriting apps.  However, the large size is too much for them to handle. They prefer the 9.7 inch iPads/tablets.

I really like just taking a screenshot and then altering those images.  I haven't been writing as much as I would like, but I am amassing some ideas.  I still am working with paper and in my other notebooks.  The cost of this was huge.  However, I think I am saving money on "real" art supplies.  For example, I always am tempted to buy those coloring books. However, that is something I can do on my iPad.  (Also, it keeps me in the lines!)  I don't buy magazines or newspapers because I read a lot on my iPad.  Now, my ONLY complaint is that my shoulder hurts from using it so much.  I still read paper books in the bathtub, the day they come up with a waterproof iPad is the day I quit buying paperbacks (yeah, right!) 

I love doing school work in bed and being able to print to my HP printer in the other room.  I'm sure a lot of people don't use the Apple Pencil, but for me, it is a must. I frequently annotate PDFs.  I do need to charge it quite a bit, but I keep the charger by my pen so it can charge at night.  Again, I only wonder why I waited so long to get this device.   Although it is costly, I just cut back on my grocery bill, going out to eat, movies, and buying clothes/shoes.  I've been avoiding Michaels and buying any sewing fabric or supplies.  I wonder if this iPad actually saved me money!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Teeth Whitening

Every time I go to the dentist someone always says, "Wow, you have beautiful teeth!"  I am always like, "Really?" I am glad that I am cavity free, but I'm sure a lot of people are. Due to crowding, my one bottom tooth has moved.  Another thing I always think of is that my teeth are yellow! I guess I have this weird thing about teeth.  I always notice people's teeth.  If their teeth are really white, I am always very impressed.  I went to the dentist for a cleaning and check up this past week.  This is only my second visit to this dental office.  They are very thorough and do a great job.  On my last visit, they told me about the process to whiten.  I was really on the fence and tried another 6 months of store bought kits and home remedies. Nothing really worked!

So I finally made the decision to professionally whiten. They had a card of teeth colors and mine was C2, which was yellowish. They said that these colors whiten faster.  It was $295.  A technician came in and made a mold of my teeth.  She kept saying that I was easy to take impressions from and that she got the most beautiful molds she's ever gotten. That was weird because using all those whiten at home molds always made me gag and dry heave.  This was easy.  Later that day, the office called and said that my kit was ready.  I stopped in the next day.  I got a quick lesson on how to whiten. I started as soon as I got home. 
Original teeth color before whitening

Day 1 after first whitening

Day 2 

Day 3

The procedure is pretty easy.  They gave me a prescription sensitivity toothpaste that I brush with. I don't rinse after brushing.

 I have these syringes with the whitening gel.  I put a thin line of it in the clear molds of my teeth and put them in.  Then I am supposed to suck in my breath, so they seal.  Then, I take a wet toothbrush and clean my gums so the whitening stuff doesn't get on it.  I set my cell phone timer for 30 minutes.

That's it.  I have always had sensitive teeth, but I am not noticing anything too different. I keep going about 7-10 days until I reach my ideal white color.   They also told me to rinse after drinking coffee (or red wine, but I don't drink that).  I was also told to go to every other day if my teeth start to hurt.  The worst thing is that I feel like my teeth were worse than I though.  I now look at them and think, "Why didn't I do this before?"  I'll keep updating.  
Day 4

Day 5
        Day 6
Day 7
    Day 8
I thought that my teeth would be a lot whiter at this point:( I think I'm going to use more gel and maybe leave it on longer.  I have been rinsing my mouth after coffee.  Is this just the natural color of my teeth?  I guess I do see a slight improvement.  They said 7-10 days, so I guess I can't give up now.
Day 9
AFTER Day 10

This should be my LAST night of whitening.  I really don't feel like my teeth are even that much whiter!  I still have two tubes of the whitening stuff left.  I believe those are for touch-ups.  However, I wonder if I should just continue to try to whiten.  They really don't look that different to me...Is this $300 down the drain? 

Day 11:  I wondering if the light in my bathroom is bad.  I am going to take a teeth selfie in a better lit room and see if there is any improvement. 

In same light

Day 1                                                           Day 17 (11th whitening treatment) Better light picture!

I've come too far to give up now.  I have the gel for about six more treatments.  If I don't see more of an improvement, I will contact my dental office.  I still see that yellowish tinge.
Treatment 15 or so

I really wanted my teeth white-white.  However, they do look better!  I have one tube of the whitening stuff left. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Washi Tape Pringles Can Ruler Holder

So I have a lot of colored duct tape and washi tape.  My new policy of "shopping at home" means that I can only craft with items I have. I am buying absolutely nothing. I no longer step into Michaels.  I do not darken the door of Dollar General.  I don't shop online at Amazon for chalkboard paint markers.  
Is scented duct tape something I really needed to buy? Probably not.  Okay, now the glitter duct tape is pretty amazing. I mean, it is glitter. However, there is a very small amount of it on the roll. The old me would probably try to hoard this amazing product. The new me is using it!

I saw something on Pinterest about up cycling Pringles containers. The truth is that I never particularly liked or disliked Pringles. However, I bought a can of the salt and vinegar.  Would I ever eat them? I didn't think so.  However, one day when my niece and nephew were here I decided to bust them out.  Strangely, they both (especially Syd) loved them.  So I guess I'll be buying them for a while. I did buy the sour cream, but Syd really liked the salt and vinegar!

After several years of hiding my rulers at school due to sword fighting,  I decided to put them out again.  Students were working on a book project and kept asking for them.  So I started to wrap various tapes around the cylinder.  I had a lot of washi tape to fill in any holes left by the duct tape.  

This was fun and easy.  I did tape on a "Ruler" sign on it when I took it to school.  I now just painted two more Pringles container. I know they will come in handy soon!
When painting them, I did sand them a little first so the paint would stick better!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Stickers and Labels for Erin Condren Planner

I've had this Xyron machine for many years. It can laminate, make magnets, and make stickers depending on what cartridge you buy.  The cartridges are about $30 each, but I often bought them using one of my Michael's or Joanne's coupons.  
I was on Pinterest and found a bunch of websites for free Erin Condren planner stickers.  I started going to the website and printing them out.   I thought I'll give them a try and see which sizes and colors I like. 
I quickly ran them through my Xyron in full sheets. Normally, it is better to trim them a bit.  The first one I do usually comes out a bit wrinkled. The second run is usually fine.  I had two unopened cartridges of the adhesive. Wow, I could make thousands of stickers.

You just peel off the plastic cover.  
Then, the hard part is cutting out your new stickers. This is the type of thing that I do while watching TV.  I usually just get in a zone.  Peeling the bad off of your new stickers can be a pain.  I store the little labels in a pouch in my Erin Condren planner.  These turned out well, but I also had some Avery "Return Address Labels."  I basically just went to the Avery website, typed in the info., and then printer.  It was great not to have to cut the stickers out.  I need to get more Avery labels soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Erin Condren Teacher Planner Obsession

I'm in love with my Erin Condren teacher planner!  I was on the fence about ordering one because I was wondering if I needed it and would use it.  To answer that, yes, I need it and I'm already using it. I actually just brought my laptop and planner over to my mom's to show her.  Guess who is getting an early Christmas gift this year? Yep, I ordered her an Erin Condren life planner.  Sadly, my sister is claiming that she doesn't need one.  (Hmm...we shall see!) I now feel like everyone needs a paper planner.  
It only took about two weeks for me to get my planner. It comes in a lovely box and is wrapped in tissue paper.   I got free shipping because I went over $100.  Okay, the planner itself is $60-70 depending on your add-ons. However, I ordered a lot of other things like fun pens, stickers, and some dry eraser dividers.  I'm so glad I did too, because that is what makes it really interactive.  I just ordered more of that stuff, too.  You get 15% off on accessories if you order three. 

The teacher planner has a lot in it.  It has both a month calendar and a weekly lesson planner.  There are all types of grids, student lists, substitute information, and absentee tracker.  Some of that is more for elementary teachers.  However, I really need the weekly planner. I love the password section in the beginning. It's a small thing, but I am always getting locked out of my computer.  This will definitely be a big help.  I teach two subjects.  I also have four sections of language arts. I am really particular about marking where I left off in each class. Also, with assemblies and special events coming up, I need to know what is coming up.
The stickers are beautiful.  There are a variety of stickers in the back of the planner. You get some free ones.  I also love the ones I ordered. They are not just beautiful, but inspiration.   I am already using them, too.  The beauty of the planner is color coding and using the stickers to highlight things.
Pockets and folders!  This is the main reason I had to have this particular planner.   There is a pouch for pens, etc. I got two clear folders and one colorful folder.  I can shove a ton of stuff in here. As any teacher will tell you, we get a ton of paper on a daily basis. I get notes from kids, parents, administration, other teachers, fundraiser, and papers I need to fill out and return.  It is a real pain to keep all these papers together. Now, I am going to put them all in this planner.  
Okay, another thing I felt like I "had" to have was the wet erase boards.  I even ordered the cute wet erase markers.  I have so many places to make lists. I love and need lists to function. I have so many things to do.  Now, I can keep that list in ONE place.  I typically have five different lists going.  Yep, that is not good. 
I love the cover! It is a thick laminated plastic.  I spent a lot of time picking out the perfect cover.  My name is on it.  Hopefully, I will never left this planner out of my sight.  I do tend to leave things all over the place, so the name on the cover is a good thing. Weirdly, the planner also matches my new Mac Book Pro cover.  Now, if I could just dress as carefully, I would be much more stylish.
Calendar stickers.  You do have to stick on the days on the monthly calendar.  I didn't mind doing this.  However, I am still on summer vacation (until tomorrow!)...In my mind, stickers are pretty much always a good thing. 
Inserts.  For some reason, I wanted the weekly meal planner wet erase sheet.  I realized that I can use it to plan out my school lunches.  I always bring my lunch unless it is an inservice day.  However, at the grocery store, I am often just rolling around randomly buying coffee and bags of kale I never eat.    Now, I will have to have some sort of notion of what to pack.  I guess I could also eat it for dinner.  Most of my dinners are pretty much: frozen pizza, eat at mom's, Chik Filet, can of soup, slim jims, etc. 
I also ordered some really adorable post-it notes.  There are great because I can start adding things I know we will do that I am not sure when. For example, in language arts, we give a beginning of the year reading diagnostic exam.  I don't know what exact day so I can just write it on a post it note and move it to the correct day when I know.  There is always so much going on at the start of the year, that I want to make sure I don't forget anything important. With this planner, I am already off to a great start thanks to my new planner.  Well, goodbye SUMMER 2016!  It's time to move into School Year 2016-2017.  I believe that I can stay organized, calm, and inspired this entire year. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Reading Rainbow Bulletin Board

For the last few years I had a loose theme of tie-dye in my classroom. This year I decided that I wanted to change that into a rainbow chalkboard theme. Last year I did a book recommendation board. I was considering doing a procedures book, but decided to stick with promoting reading.

The title is "Reading Rainbow." I played around with doing a curved rainbow.  However, since I was alone at school, it was really hard to get it "equal." So I decided to just go with a straight rainbow.  I like all of my bulletin board to be interactive. I still need to photocopy my book recommendation forms. Student are to take a blank slip,  write about a book they loved, and staple it under the correct genre.  At times, we also just use post-it notes that can be easily removed.
 The cloud says, "Share books you love on the rainbow." I used Microsoft Word (chalkboard font that I got online) in black on white paper. I use a glue stick to glue on the titles onto colored paper.  I really try to avoid using colored ink because it can be hard to see (plus expensive.)  I did not laminate the newer signs I made.  I probably should have.
I used part of last years bulletin board with the "This book is so..."   I have some adjectives that might help describe books on the top and genres on the bottom. 

I got a new border called Paint Chips from Really Good Stuff.  I simplified my classroom guidelines board.  I really want everything to look uncluttered.
As soon as possible, I invite students to share their favorite books and check out books from my classroom library.  For me, creating a culture of reading starts on day one.  We always make time to talk about books.  I try to provide some fun pens to write with and time so students can share their books and favorite genres.
This bulletin board is only effective if students get time to share.  I will probably give students a few slips to keep in their binders.  I will also make a folder to store the other slips with a stapler.  I would then like to transition over to a book recommendation on post-it note system as we will probably need this board for class. I try to stress that life-long readers try to have their next book lined up while they are reading their current book.  We try to maintain "Someday" lists of books they someday want to read. The idea is from Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer.  A book I highly recommend!