TPT Quote Box - EASY PowerPoint Tutorial

Alright TPT friends, I'm going to try and make this tutorial easy because let me tell took me about two hours before I finally perfected my quote box picture! I followed tutorials as well, but I work best in Microsoft PowerPoint and I just couldn't get everything looking perfect. I am *cough* somewhat of a perfectionist. 

There are other ways to do this, but this is what has worked for me!

TO SKIP STEP 1 AND 2: you can download the template HERE

Open a new PowerPoint presentation and adjust your slide size to a width of 4.7 inches and a height of 1.5 inches. This size will eventually produce a JPEG image that is 450 x 150 pixels. 

Change the background color on the slide. This took me awhile to perfect because you want it to blend into the store background color. Enter the numbers below into the custom colors: 

Color Model: RGB
Red: 242
Green: 242
Blue: 242

Create you image! Try to use the space on the entire slide. 

Save your slide as a JPEG or PNG image. 

Now you will need to upload your image to the internet. I couldn't quite figure out the best way to do this, so I created a secret board on my Pinterest account and uploaded the image there. That way, it was on the internet but no one had to see it. 

Click on your image and then right-click to "save image URL."

Your image URL will be pretty long, and there's just not enough room for such a long URL in the quote box. You need to go to a website like Tiny URL to make your URL smaller. 

Right-click and paste your URL into the box to make it smaller. 

Almost Done!

Log in to your TPT account. 
1. Click on "My Account"
2. Click on "Store Profile" 
3. Click on "Edit" 

Paste the following link into the "Personal Quote" box (with your information). Your product link will also need to be a tiny URL. 


Now SAVE and you are DONE! 

If you have any questions, feel free to comment on this blog and I will do my best to answer them! 

Interactive Notebook Time Saving Tips

I always had a pretty difficult time keeping my students' math notes organized. Although I taught my students HOW to take notes, there were always a few who would skip random pages or just not remember where their notes were. In return, they never EVER referred back to their notes. It just seemed like a waste. 

This past school year, I finally implemented interactive notes in my math class. Let me tell you - it changed EVERYTHING! I cannot say enough good things about them! 

  1. Student notebooks are neat and organized.
  2. They know exactly where to write their notes and math reflections.
  3. Practice problems are always under the notes so that they can refer back to them.
  4. Students ACTUALLY look back in their notebooks (often) in order to refresh their memories. 
  5. Absent students catch up easily and always ask for their missing notes. 
  6. Students really love their notebooks and are proud of their work. 
I could go on and on. 

Now, I'll be the first to admit that (like everything else), there is some trial and error that comes along with interactive notebooks. The first time that I used interactive notes for a math lesson, I gave the students way too many notes to cut and glue and...well...let's just say that I didn't have much time to teach the rest of that period. 

1. Cutting and gluing can take a long time. Don’t worry students will get faster at it! Try to find or create notes with limited cutting. Although there are some CUTE interactive journals available, some of them are not practical in a class period with limited time.

2. Give students a time limit to cut and glue their notes before you start the lesson. I encourage them to help one another if they see that their neighbor is not finished yet. I even walk around and help students during the countdown (which they love). Once the time limit is up, I start my lesson and that student needs to glue their notes at a later time.

3. Unless you plan on spending a good part of the lesson cutting and gluing, don't give students more than three pages at a time. There have been times that I have assigned cutting and gluing as morning work, and this helped a lot because we were able to start our math lesson immediately. 

4. Assign students various jobs! I have two students that pass out and collect the scissors and glue bins, another passes out the interactive notebook pages, and a fourth student is the "recycle bin manager" and picks up all of the scraps of paper when he/she is finished cutting and gluing. 

5. Cut and glue notes in your own notebook to show students the finished product. I often take quick pictures of my notes with my phone and then project the picture on the board for students to see more clearly. If you don't have time for this, cut and glue at the same time as the students. I am usually finished first, and they always want to compete in order to keep up with me. I then hold up my finished product as a visual. This ensures that students glue their notes correctly and it saves a LOT of time!

6. Cutting and gluing is often a quiet activity in my classroom. When they cut, glue, AND talk, they move a whole lot slower.

7. I find that liquid glue works better than gluesticks. A FEW dots about an inch away from the edges goes a long way! 

8. Don't give up on your notebooks! Stick with them the entire year, and you will NOT regret it! 

Here are two interactive notebook freebies to explore!  

Happy Teaching!

Thank you, Teachers Pay Teachers.

I've been thinking lately. When I was a child, I was awfully shy. As a shy kid, you basically make a small group of friends and hang onto them for dear life. I was never very assertive and kind of a pushover. Okay, not just "kind of."

People be like: 

After college, I discovered that I was a pretty good teacher. It came very naturally and I was always looking for ways to learn more and make lessons more interesting and engaging for my students. Unfortunately...people love to stomp on teachers. Parents, administrators, leaders, friends: everyone seems to think that they know better than the one that is in the trenches; the one that wears the hat of mom, nurse, leader, friend, maid, and many other things on a daily basis. It tore me down. "I GUESS I'm a...good...teacher." 

Then one day, I discovered a little website 
known as TeachersPayTeachers

I put some basic resources up there because, hey, what's it going to hurt? I didn't think that anything would sell. After all...there were already so many great products on there! Then I started selling some products, so I put more products in my store. Cause and effect: more things started to sell. Wait. Other teachers really want to buy things that I create? 

The moment that I felt my store become "successful" by my own standards was the moment that completely changed the way that I viewed myself. I was no longer this young, fairly inexperienced "good" teacher. I felt so alive. I felt like I was worth something, like I had something to say and something to teach my much more experienced peers. TpT gave me so much worth. It made me feel like I had a voice in a profession that is often voiceless. 

My whole outlook changed. My demeanor changed. I discovered that I had some pretty serious leadership qualities hidden deep inside of me. I "overcame" much of my shyness because I saw myself as many of my peers and buyers saw me: an expert in my field. I became grade chair and led my team, often fighting for them in front of administrators. My peers saw a change in me. My peers voted me Teacher of the Year. 

I'm different now. A lot different. 

Thanks, TpT. You changed my life without even meaning to. 

Makeover Madness

I am SO excited to participate in the TPT Seller Challenge. Who doesn't love a good challenge? 

This week's challenge is "Makeover Madness" - encouraging TpT authors to makeover products that may be a little outdated. The funny thing is, this is the exact thing that I have been working on for the past few weeks since school ended. Yes...our last day of school was May 22nd in my county. 

I would like to say that my taste and style has changed a bit over the years since selling items on TpT. Ok, it's changed QUITE a bit. I look at old products and cringe. Ouch. I really need to update a few of them, but I'm definitely working on it!

Here are few that I've been working on. HUGE change...and not cringe-worthy!

and a Science Product: 

I'm going to keep working now, but I'm looking forward to the next challenges! 

What Works in Fifth Grade!

Dearest Teachers,

Although I am a teacher myself, even I didn't appreciate teachers as much as I do now that I have a school-aged child. My daughter is in preschool this year, and I notice every little thing that her teacher does for her because I KNOW and I UNDERSTAND the effort it all takes! This work that we do challenges us to our core, and no one but a teacher quite understands the time, effort, sweat, tears, joys, sorrows, heartaches, and every emotion in between that we experience on a yearly basis. It's all worth it, and I wouldn't trade it for any other profession. From one educator that "understands" to another, THANK YOU for ALL that you do. 
I start out each year by introducing various Life Lessons to my students. We discuss each one and students write about them during morning work. I then attach them to my bulletin board, and I refer back to the Life Lessons as needed throughout the year. I find that having those deep discussions at the beginning sets a precedent of behavior for the rest of the year. It works! 

Don't quite know what to do with those yearly class pictures? I added them to the front of my desk! It's a fun way to display the classes over the years, and my current students love to look at them! 

I place a laminated classroom list next to my "turn in" box in the classroom. When students turn in an assignment, they use an overhead marker (I find it works best on laminated paper) to write their initials next to their name on the list. This allows me to quickly check who has or has not turned in their assignments! 

Last week, a friend of mine (who just so happens to be a kindergarten teacher) asked me for a favor: watch her class for half an hour during my classroom's counselor lesson. OF COURSE I agreed right away.

Before I go on, let me give you some background information: 

1. My own mom was a kindergarten teacher for 17 years. 
2. I have been teaching FIFTH graders for the past 8 years. 
3. This day just happened to be the Friday before Spring Break. 
4. I have a five year old and a three year old at home. 

So there I am...2:15pm...walking towards a class of five year olds with a big smile on my face. In my hands are a stack of papers that I planned to grade because the kindergarten teacher left a short DVD for me to play during this half hour. If you teach kindergarten (or 1st, or 2nd grade), I can already hear you chuckle at my innocence. 

I confidently walk into the classroom and I am greeted with several hugs. They are so sweet. Yet...behind me...I hear something that sounds like crying. Crying?  It turns out that I was watching the class right after their lunchtime. This little girl's "Nana" had come to eat lunch with her. Well, Nana needed to leave, and this child wasn't going to have it. 


Mission number 1: have students sit down on the rug and put in DVD. 
Mission number 2: peel kindergartner from Nana. 

While I fumble with the DVD, I am bombarded with quite a few questions: 
~Can we go to the treasure box? 
~Do you know today is Friday?
~Do you know tomorrow is spring break?
~Can we go to the treasure box?
~Are we going outside today?
~Where are the book buddies (my fifth graders)?
~Why aren't the book buddies here?
~Can we go to the treasure box? 

This was all within a two minute period. I'm starting to sweat. 

I finally accomplish mission one. On to mission two...who happens to be crying even harder at this point. Nana desperately looks at me and says, "take her" and I desperately look at Nana and say, "okay..."

Yes, I literally peeled the child from Nana and closed the door. Yes, there were tears and some screams, but I sat down next to her and quickly changed the subject. I am, after all, a mommy. I understand five year old brains.  

She whimpered for the next half hour, but at least she wasn't screaming. 

Now back to the other twenty-some odd five year olds. You would THINK that they would sit quietly and watch the interesting cartoon, right? After all, my daughter would be interested. Nope, not so much. 

Oh, a few were watching quietly. The others? One was looking through the teacher's cabinet, two were wrestling on the floor, three girls were rummaging through papers, crayons, and glue because they felt like creating some art, two needed to use the restroom, and another asked me if he could go to the treasure box today. 

This was the longest half hour of my life. The longest. By the end, I managed to somewhat line them up quietly and walked them outside into the waiting arms of another kindergarten teacher. 

Oh, how I missed my fifth graders. I grabbed my (still ungraded papers) and ran back to the class and told them all about my adventure. It didn't sound quite so adventurous when I repeated it to them, but I had certainly been through a journey! 

DEAR kindergarten teacher, 

I admire you. 
I don't know how you do it. 
You deserve a major raise. 
I will never take you for granted. 

Teaching Students to Annotate Poetry

I have to admit - I was never a fan of poetry. In the words of my students, I just didn't "get it." That all changed my junior year of high school. I had what in most of my classmates' minds was the toughest teacher in the school. She certainly wasn't "warm and fuzzy," but she pushed us and challenged us. I fell in love with poetry in her class because she was able to open my mind to it. Sign of a great teacher.

When I told my students that we will complete a unit on poetry this year, there were groans aplenty. That just wouldn't do for me - so I worked to create a poetry unit that they would be excited about.

We started out reading a lot of funny poems (Shel Silverstein was a favorite), but we also read a lot of classic poems by Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Langston Hughes. The Langston Hughes poems worked SO well since we were studying the Harlem Renaissance in social studies. Cross-curriculum instruction at its best!

I taught them the parts of a poem and rhyme schemes, and we had poetry readings - snaps and all! Lots of fun was had by all, but I just wanted them to go a little deeper.

Since I only fell in love with poetry once I was able to fully understand it, I had to teach my students to do the same. Cue annotation. 

I think as teachers of elementary students, we are often a little apprehensive to introduce concepts like "annotation" because they are still young and you just never know how students will perceive a difficult concepts. They ALWAYS manage to surprise me!

To teach annotation, I introduced the poem, The Wind Began to Rock the Grass by Emily Dickinson. The students read the poem to themselves, and then I read it out loud to them. Of course, when I asked them what they thought the poem was about - many were unsure. I told them that we are going to annotate the poem, gave them the definition, and then we dived right in.

I read the poem stanza by stanza again, but this time we defined words, asked questions, and made comments on the left hand side. On the right side of each stanza, we wrote a one sentence summary. As we defined words, we talked through the words and used context clues. It's amazing how intuitive fifth graders are. They can always figure out the meaning of a word (even though they don't always believe in themselves).

We worked through the first three stanzas together, and then I let them complete the last two on their own. As you may guess, they excitement began to build as the poem drew to a close. The light bulbs went off, the choirs began to sing, the end of the tunnel was in get the idea. Students were SO EXCITED about the fact that they now understood the poem so clearly! This certainly ended up being one of those "it worked!" lessons.

Here is another example with the poem, A Bird Came Down by Emily Dickinson. 

The next day, I asked students to work in partners and gave them a new poem to annotate. I was very impressed with their work, and they were able to see the purpose of annotation and understand why it helps them become better readers and writers. I learned a good lesson too: start annotation at the beginning of the year! :)

I use a PowerPoint Lesson and Interactive Notes to teach this entire unit. The lesson teaches students how to annotate slide by slide!

Happy Teaching!

How to Secure PowerPoint Presentations

Welcome to my first blog post ever! I am just a little bit excited! 

Quick background on PowerPoint presentations - I LOVE teaching with them! I add pictures, videos, and website links to mine in order to keep kids engaged in my lesson. 

When I started selling some of my lessons on TPT though, well....I ran into a dilemma. The presentations are not easy to secure. 

I can hear a few teacher friends now: all you have to do is save the lesson as a show! Unfortunately, a simple "save as" overrides that. Same goes with "read only."

So what is a TPTer to do?

Here is what I have been doing. Not sure it's the best way, but it makes sense to me! 

1. Before I begin a presentation, I insert a background that I like and then add my copyright to the bottom. 

2. Then, "save as" and click on JPEG. This will save the slide as JPEG images. 

3. You can then re-insert this JPEG images as the presentation's background. This way, your copyright appears on all the slides. Even if the purchaser wants to insert another slide into your presentation, your logo will still appear. I was pretty proud of myself for thinking of that all on my own(!)

4. Go ahead and create your lesson now!

5. Once your lesson is complete, you will need to save the ENTIRE presentation as PNG files. Simply click on "save as" and then "save as type" and choose PNG. 
PNG files are higher resolution and look much better than JPEG images. 

6. Before you do anything else, you will also want to click on "save as" and save this entire presentation as the original. You will have two copies: the original (which you will be able to edit) and the TPT version (which is not editable). 

7. Now I insert as many blank slides as I need. If you have 30 slides in your presentation, insert 30 blank slides. I like to do this in the same presentation instead of a new file because I already saved the background with my copyright info on it (see step number 3). 

8. Now, go to design: format background: insert picture from file, and choose your first PNG image. This will insert the image as the background of each slide which protects the image from editing. 

9. Here are my two images. The first slide is editable, and the second slide is not. 

10. After all of the slides are complete, I delete the originals and "save as" a TPT version. 

There may be a faster or easier way in the future, but for now, I'm sticking with this! 

Here is the final lesson {with scaffolded notes):