Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Surviving the Temps: Tip #2 Put up Curtains

Decorating tip #2:  Put up CURTAINS.

     No, you do not have to know how to sew.  And please don't go out and spend hundreds of dollars!  Throughout the years I have had several versions of curtains.  One year I bought white valances at Walmart and I dyed them to the color I wanted.  I have 6 windows, so I did two pink, two blue, and two purple.  They looked okay.

Then a few years later, I sewed blue curtains with silver stars and silver ribbon.  They were darling, but now they don't match my theme.  So one project this summer is to make new ones!  BUT- I am not spending a ton of money or SEWING!  This time it is with coupons and this new amazing invention I have discovered- FABRIC GLUE!

Here's how you do it:

1.  Measure your window.  Determine how wide your window is, and also how far down you want your curtain.

2.  Decide how much fabric you need.  For example, my windows are 26 inches wide.  I want my valance to be 12 inches in height.  So, I need 156 inches of fabric (about 4.5 yards) by 12 inches.

3.  Collect coupons!  My favorite coupons are from JoAnn Fabric.  They also have a 15% discount for teachers.  So, I use the coupons when I buy my fabric.  I bought 5 yards of fabric for $4.50 a yard.  My total was $22.50.  Then I used my 40% off coupon, and I only paid $13.50 for all of that fabric!  I would have spent at least $60 at Walmart.

4.  Pick a color of ribbon (if you want) and also lace.  I look for what is in the clearance area.  Also, I have waited for another 40% off coupon and bought it a week later.  You could also go to Hobby Lobby and use their 40% off coupon (it's in the weekly paper on Sundays),  The price for lace trim and ribbon can be as little as a $1.00 to as much as you are willing to spend.

5.  Lay out your fabric.  Here you can see how I laid it out across my hallway.

6.  I measured 28 inches for each window (allowing for a 1 inch hem) by 13 inches.

7.  Get some SHARP scissors and start cutting!

8.  Now take each rectangle and your fabric glue.  You can wing it, or use a ruler.  I measured with a ruler.  Go about one inch in on each side and just GLUE it!  :)

9.  Do all 6.

10.  By the time you finish curtain #6, your first curtain is dry enough to start adding ribbon and lace.  For this step, I first measure and cut 6 24-inch sections of lace.  I like to put the lace on the bottom.  I think it adds a nice finished look.  Then I flip over the curtain and glue it to the back of all 6.

11.  Take your ribbon and tie 12 bows that are the same size.  I use fabric glue to keep the bow together.  Then, glue the bows to each corner of each curtain.

12.  You don't have to add this step, but I like it.  I add a ribbon to the front, right above the lace, to give it a finished look.

13.  Let the curtains dry for a couple hours, or just hang them up!

14.  THIS IS MY FAVORITE TIP:  don't buy a curtain rod.  Just get a staple gun and staple the suckers up there!

Easy peazy!  You can also just do the fabric and skip all the detailing.  Here are the pictures of my finished curtains:

How to Put Together a Classroom in Two Days or Less!

How to Put Together a Classroom in Two Days or Less!
By Renee Shaver

Only two days to put your classroom together?  OMG what are you going to do?!  Whether your school is being remodeled, you had to switch classrooms, or you were just hired, we have the answer for you!  Here is how to put your classroom together in only two short days:

First of all, before you start, STOP freaking out and get off of Pinterest!  This is not the time to make your classroom a Pinterest classroom.  You can do that later on in the year when you have time.  For now, the focus is organization.

Today's goals:
1.  Measure all bulletin boards.  You will need one for Reading, Writing, Math, Social Studies, and Science.  Keep it simple- don't add boards!  Just do the minimum.  If you only have 3 boards, then only do 3- Reading, Writing and Math would be the priority.

1.  Decide where students are going to put all their supplies.

2.  Book Shelves: One for free choice, one for reading groups, and one for teacher manuals/guides.

3.  Arrange desks and decide where your teacher desk will go.

4.  Bulletin Boards:  Keep it simple!  Pick one or two colors.  Use anchor charts.  Stay away from Pinterest and Instagram!

5.  Classroom Management: magnets, clothes pins, etc.

6.  Daily Schedule

7.  Put away everything else.

8.  Lesson plan book- get it together and ready!  Prepare for the first WEEK.  Make all copies and write out lesson plans.

9.  Put names on EVERYTHING!
     1.  Friday folder filing basket
     2.  Lunch Count
     3.  Notebooks
     4.  Folders

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Resolution

This post is long overdue.  I finally am making myself sit down and put this into writing!  So here it goes....

My new year's resolution is to stop bringing home papers to grade.  That's right.  I said it.  No more grading papers at home!  No more dragging papers to and from school!  

I decided that grading papers is just a stupid waste of time.  I'm not saying assessing your students is a waste of time, don't get me wrong.  I just think us teachers are doing it wrong!

Think about it for a minute.  Most schools use a standards based grading system.  That system doesn't mean averages and percentages.  It doesn't mean how many papers does little Johnny turn in on time.  It means, can little Johnny add and subtract?  Does he know how to write a sentence?  CAN he do it?  

We have to change our thinking.  Especially with all the new ways of teaching.  Think about it.

I spend about one hour a night planning math workshop.  ONE hour.  It's ridiculous to spend another hour grading math!  Especially when I teach 4 other subjects.  The amount of planning time has tripled in the last year- I am planning like crazy!  Also, we need time to analyze all that data...

There aren't enough hours in the day.  Something has to go.  Grading papers- what is the point?  I already have a system to know who has turned in what.  I already know what each kid can and cannot do- thanks to exit slips and small group work.  I already know what each kid excels and needs help on thanks to the 8 million tests we take.  So why the heck am I spending all this time grading?

Parents.  They need to see their child's work.  

Sure- valid point- but do they actually do that?  Do they need to see 10 papers that have a grade on it crammed into a Friday folder?  What if they only get one graded thing per subject, per week?  Do they even look at it?  The kids don't.  Well- I take that back.  Some do.  They really look forward to getting big projects back with a grade on it.  


That is what I am going to focus on and come up with a solution.  BTW, I teach 6th grade.  All subjects.  If you have any ideas, please comment below!

Check out my latest YouTube Vlogs; 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tips and Tricks to help with teacher OVERLOAD!

Well I am about 6 weeks into the school year.  AND I am on OVERLOAD!  After a total break down this weekend, I have re grouped and reminded myself of a few tips and tricks that I use every year to help myself out.  Here they are!

Tip #1
Yep- that's right.  I said it.  Leave school after the bell rings.  You have given your best all day long, and you are exhausted!  Why are you staying late?  To grade papers?  To plan?  To make copies?  That's just stupid.  You NEED a break.  That's why people go home after work.  Yes, you are a teacher, and yes there is a ton to do!  But let's face it, we could work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and NEVER be caught up!  So to avoid total burn out, and to save your sanity, go home!

Tip #2
Stop grading papers.
You are a teacher, not a clerical aid or a book keeper.  You work with your students all day, EVERY day.  Have you ever made a huge difference by grading homework?  Or putting stars on papers?  NO!  Stop.  Use your time for something that truly will make a difference.  Plan an awesome lesson.  Go get that funny book from the library.  Make some phone calls to parents.  DO something that will make a difference.  I have always believed teachers should never be behind their desk.  They should always be with kids.  In doing so, you WILL make a difference!  Mark in homework and hold kids accountable- but for crying out loud, STOP grading papers!

Tip #3
Buy a secret recorder pen.
This is my best tip.  I have a secret recorder pen that I use for conferences and meetings.  As teachers we are bombarded all day long- parents, administrators, kids, etc.  By the end of the day I can't remember what was so important at that morning meeting... so a few years ago I bought a recorder pen.  I secretly record meetings and I listen to them in my car on the way to or from work.  That way I can wrap my head around what is really important.  ALSO, use this pen for conferences!  When we meet with parent after parent, it's so hard to remember what you promised one parent or what one parent said to you!  I record all my conferences and then I spend an hour or two listening to them at home.  Then I can make an organized list of notes or things that I said I would do.  I also can take some notes on which parents are divorced, have custody, kids background stories, etc.  This has saved me time and time again!

Tip #4
THROW away that pile.
We all have it.  THE PILE.  It builds slowly at first, then gets bigger, and bigger, and BIGGER, and next thing you know it's a mountain!  It stresses you out just because it's there.  It could be papers to grade, notes from your literacy coach, articles to read, etc.  If you haven't touched it in a week, you are never going to touch it.  Save yourself a heavy dose of Advil and just throw it away.

Tip #5
Invest in some spa music and lavender.
Spray yourself down with lavender and put on some spa music.  Close your eyes and just be calm.  Do this at least once a day.  Just don't fall asleep or do this while you are working with kids... ha ha!

Tip #6
This should be my number one tip.  Youtube has saved me so much time!  If my principal suggests a book or a training, I just search it on Youtube.  Then I watch the video while I get ready in the morning.  Or I listen to it while driving to work.  This way I don't have to READ anything and I sound like an expert!  I have subscribed to many teaching channels on Youtube so I can even stay a little ahead.

Tip #7
Again, this one should be my number one.  I make Siri read me my work emails, messages and articles form my principal, and books.  If you can get a digital copy of something, then Siri can read it it to you.  This is such a time saver!  I will be doing a tutorial on this one soon.  It's that awesome.

Well... those are my biggest tips.  Use these regularly and see if they help you!  Also, let me know your ideas down below.  We can all use these tips to avoid teacher OVERLOAD!  

Monday, June 22, 2015

How do you cool off on a hot summer day?

What do you do when it is hot outside?  Nala lays down in my bathtub... Lol!  :)

Well, I'm not laying in the bathtub all day and I am a human!  So I came up with my own budget-friendly idea!

Yep- that's a baby pool with a raft floating in it!

Here's what you need:

1.  Blow up kiddie pool.  I got mine at Walmart for $15.  Make sure it's long- I got the 10 foot long one (I may have over-done it.  I think you would be fine with a 6 or 8 footer!)

2.  A raft.  This was free for me because I already had one.  I have seen rafts at the Dollar Store for a $1.  The one I have was from King Soopers- I got it on sale a few years ago for $15.

3.  Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.  Let's face it- skin cancer and sun spots are not worth it!  Protect yourself.

4.  A good book!

     I am reading Falling in Love with Close Reading and then for fun I am reading the last book in the Divergent series.


1.  Blow up kiddie pool.
This turned out to be the hardest part.  I thought I could use my bike pump, but the nozzles didn't match!  Then I tried to blow it up.  That was just dumb.  So, after a quick drive to my parent's house, I borrowed my dad's camping gear.  I used this cool little device to blow up the pool.  Much easier- but it did take about 30 minutes.

2.  Fill kiddie pool with water.  That took a loooooong time.....

3.  Let pool sit in the sun for a few hours.

4.  Blow up raft.  This took 30 seconds.

5.  Lay on raft in pool.  Read book and RELAX!  :)

I hope you enjoyed this.  If you try it, let me know in the comments below!

:) Nala Bella

TPT Challenge Week 2: Dare to Dream

I am continuing with the TPT challenge and this week is Dare to Dream!  

1.  Pay off my car.  I am SUPER close!  I only have about $3500 left.  It's so close I can taste it!  I don't just want to pay my car off, I want to start a savings account so I will actually have CASH the next time I need to buy a car!  The struggle is real...

Everyday, the struggle is real.

2.  Make it through the month without a credit card.  This relates to number one!  I struggle on my one income.  As teachers, we only get paid once a month.  I get so panicky over how I am going to buy groceries and gas the last two weeks of the month- it makes it hard to enjoy the first two weeks!

Funny Pictures Of The Day - 71 Pics
This is me today.  Grr....

3.  Travel.  I have always wanted to spend my summers at the beach.  I have one major obstacle.  Her name is Nala.  Don't get me wrong, I love my dog!  But she is a difficult one.  Nobody can watch her except for the dog kennel.  She doesn't get along with other dogs and she is afraid of kids.  So- that means whoever watches her has to make sure she is away from dogs and kids at all time.  That eliminates all of my friends and family!  Everytime I want to go somewhere, I have to budget an extra couple hundred for the dog kennel.  Usually my TPT money covers that.  But then I don't have any spending money!  This is a huge goal of mine.

Bora Bora, Tahiti.  If I disappear.... this is where you will probably find me. Tucked under a tree with a pile of books.

4.  Give back.  I want to get more involved.  When I am super successful, I will use my TPT earnings to donate to my school, church, and animal shelters.  If I ever make enough- I want to start a rescue for aggressive dogs.  I want to hire dog trainers to work with the dogs and make them adoptable.  There are too many "aggressive" dogs out there that could be saved with the proper training.  It seems like there are resources for Pitbulls- but what about the other breeds?  I would also hire a special trainer just to fix Nala and make her like kids!  Sigh... now I know I am dreaming!

Nala found her "place."  Ha ha- this reminds me of Snoopy!

Nala Bella  :)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

My Dad :)

I have the best dad.  No really, I think I do!

In honor of Father's Day, I just had to write about my dad.

He is always there for me.  Not just to listen, but to help me with EVERYTHING!  He can fix anything- or if he doesn't know how to fix it, he knows who to call.  He's always been there for my mom and my sister, and anyone else who needs anything.  I've never heard him say no when someone asks for help.  He even hung a 20 foot ceiling fan with one hand for me.

If my car breaks down, he's there and knows what to do.  Water in my crawlspace?  He not only fixes it, but knows how to clean it up.  Light switch doesn't work?  It's fixed before I know it's broken!

My dad is a superhero.  He doesn't sleep.  He works nights so that he has time during the day to get chores and things like that done.  He's selfless- he volunteers at work to work on holidays so the parents of younger children can be with their families.

He loves golf and working on his model cars.  He doesn't ever go in half way to a hobby- it's always 100% in!

I just love my dad.  I feel so blessed to have him as a father.  :)