Monday, June 20, 2016

5 Ways to be Productive During Summer Break

Hi there fellow teachers and HAPPY summer! 

I know there are still a few of you who are wrapping up the end of the school year, but the majority of us are free to refresh and refocus ourselves in order to begin preparing for the new school year.  If you're anything like me, though, you intend to have everything planned and perfect for the beginning of the school year, you blink, and then summer is over & you're scrambling to find anything and everything on Teachers pay Teachers just to get through the first day.  I am guilty of this, but have found 5 easy steps to avoid this chaos.  Below, you'll read my tips on how to be productive during summer break, while still finding time to rejuvenate and find your love for teaching again. 

TIP ONE: Prioritize your time

Whether you have children, a summer job, or a ton of extra curricular activities, it's safe to say that we are all busy, busy, busy during the summer time.  I know we hear that "we are so lucky" from our non-teacher friends, but the truth of the matter is, our minds are going a million miles per minute and it's often challenging to simply keep our head above water.  With that being said, it's time to begin prioritizing your time.  Make a list of tasks that absolutely MUST get completed by the end of the summer.  Then, make a list of tasks that you WANT to complete, but aren't necessarily essential.  For every 4 tasks that need to be completed, add a task that you WANT/ENJOY.  This will give you an extra push and incentive to complete not only the tasks that are essential, but also some of the pressure-free items as well! 

TIP TWO: Refresh your mind

I truly believe our school systems work the way they do because teachers NEED summer break in order to refresh their minds.  Teacher burnout is a real thing, and if we don't have the allotted time to remember WHY we entered the profession in the first place, we will have some serious issues.  This is YOUR time to focus on yourself as a teacher and reflect on your decision to educate the lives of our future generations.  Be sure to do exactly that.  Work out, go to the beach, take a vacation, and meditate/think/reflect on what you love as an educator.  If it helps, write these things down.  There's no doubt in my mind that if you are happy, your students will be, too! 

TIP THREE: Determine what's important

Do you REALLY need to have a hand decorated bag for each of your students on the first day?  Probably not.  I'm not saying to cut corners, but finding things at the Dollar Spot at Target or bulk items on Amazon may be easier than crafting for 3 weeks out of the summer, just to get the perfect Instagram picture.  Trust me, I've been there.  LOL-- I've had some great ideas, but they cost me some serious time.  Yes, the students will LOVE your hand decorated bag... but guess what, they will love the one from the Dollar Spot equally as much.  It's the thought that matters, anyways.  What I'm trying to say is this: determine what's most important, find the easiest route that will be equally as effective as the most challenging, and save your time/money! 

TIP FOUR: Bribe yourself

This is my favorite and I do this often.  Usually, it has to do with grading.  I tell myself: "Brittany, if you can get all of these essays graded by 9pm tonight, you can treat yo' self to a margarita with the girls tomorrow after school!" IT WORKS EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. You can bribe yourself with food, drinks, clothing, girl time, romantic time, vacation time, Netflix time, YOU time.  

TIP FIVE: Use a teacher planner

I'm going to take a moment to brag just a tiny bit here... Only because it has taken me 3 years to perfect this teacher planner.  It is so important to stay organized, and these 100% editable organizers allow you to do just that.  In fact, you can achieve all of the first four tips with this handy little organizer! 


Let's take a closer look at the organizer.  It's 162 pages and completely editable.  With 7 different themes, you're bound to find one that fits your visual preferences!  There are DETAILED directions and suggestions on how to use them and the best part is that you can either use them digitally, OR you can print them-- whichever fits your lifestyle best. 

Anything you can think of that a teacher would need is included in the organizer.  Data tracking sheets, lesson plan documents, grade grids, etc.  


This is an image of my personal planner in action. I used my Shabby Chic theme and typed in my plans and printed as I went.  It's an absolute lifesaver!  If you don't believe me, you can check out some of the awesome reviews it has receive on TpT.  

Overall, I hope that you are able to prioritize your time, determine what's important, and refresh your mind as you prepare yourselves for the new school year!  I'd love to hear from you! Please comment below with how YOU like to be productive during summer break!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Informational Text Interactive Notebook RELEASED!

WOW-- I am embarrassed to say that this is my first blog post in three years. Yes, that's right, THREE YEARS! I'm so excited to be back, though, and to show off my fancy new blog design by Laine Sutherland from A Little Peace of Africa! Well, here goes nothing!

After two months of working on this product, I have finally released the Information Text Interactive Notebook for grades 7-12 in my Teachers pay Teachers store.  Let me tell you... I took my time on this product because I wanted to make sure it was absolutely perfect for YOUR students.  Each page has detailed instructions for the students and meaningful interactive activities that will help your students think outside the box and beyond the surface of the text.  

Some may think I am crazy, but I strongly believe that having a visually appealing assessment for your students to complete is essential.  Bright colors and organized designs make a significant difference in my student's scores.  When I provide my students with something stimulating to the eye, and they see how much effort I've put into it, they work harder as well.  The same goes with excellent student or teacher examples.  If you show pictures or concrete examples of your expectations, your students will mimic them. 

So, let's talk about this interactive notebook.  How is it different from other interactive notebooks? The first answer that comes to mind is that it is designed for OLDER students, grades 7-12.  The questions are all based off the Common Core State Standards (info text 7-12) and Bloom's Taxonomy-- making the questions not only engaging, but also challenging.  


The interactive piece helps students stay organized as well as break down tasks into smaller steps.  In the image above, you can see that students will first demonstrate the annotation markings by providing an example beneath the flaps on the left and then practice the markings on The Gettysburg Address on the right.  Because this is one of the first lessons in the notebook, students can go back and reference the markings for the other informational text pieces they read.  


Another positive component of this interactive notebook is the fact that ANY informational text piece can be used for the different lessons.  For example, I teach American Literature, so my non-fiction texts are all related to AL in some way.  In the picture above, I used Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech; however, any text would work because all texts have vocabulary terms with connotative and denotative meanings.  Right?! :) 


The interactive lessons go beyond just text.  Students will analyze graphs, news broadcasts, Public Service Announcements (PSA) and more.  Analyzing and evaluating images and graphs will help students develop the critical thinking skills needed to think outside the box and come to conclusions based on concrete evidence and observations. 


Lastly, the lessons incorporated throughout the interactive notebook are beneficial for not only analyzing informational text, but also writing and responding to any piece of literature.  The lesson above focuses on sandwiching quotes and citing textual evidence as opposed to simply throwing in a random quote without an explanation (which, let's be honest, we all know happens)!  Developing this skill will help them in all aspects of an ELA course. 


Thank you so much for reading about this interactive notebook!  I truly hope this helps you meet your content standards and helps your students grow.  I'm looking forward to posting more blog posts (hopefully I won't take a three year break in between this time! hehe)

Best wishes,
Brittany

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