Monthly Archives: July 2014

Crafter’s Corner: Vintage and Travel Themed CCSS Standard Posters + “I Can..” Statements

Good morning guys! Seeing that it’s “summer vacation”, I should be able to say I’m overly rested and itching to tackle my “to do” list – but…. I stayed up WAYYY past my bed time “crafting”! No, I wasn’t decoupaging letters or creating another travel themed bunting – I was actually “digitally crafting”!

Last year, I wrote the appropriate CCSS standard we were covering on the board every day. While it didn’t seem TOO time consuming, I was also rushing to get it done before the morning bell would ring! I’ve seen different teachers blog about “CCSS standards posters” and wanted to see what it was all about!

After a few hours of extensive research, I set out to create my own 9th-10th grade CCSS ELA Posters! But I didn’t stop there…. I was on such a “roll” that I thought to myself, “Why not create some handy “I can…” posters to go with the standard posters? They would really make our learning objectives more clear to my students!” Sooooo… I made those at the same time as well! Of course, I followed my “Travel Themed Classroom” look and set the standards and “I can…” statements on an old vintage “tag”! I thought it looked great without being too “busy” or obnoxious! What do you think?

Travel Themed CCSS Posters CCSS Posters 9th-10th Grade thumb3 thumb4

Does anyone else use standards posters in their classrooms? I’ve got them all printed out and I’m taking them to be laminated right after I finish this post! Wooo hooo!


Tired of Teaching “Elements of Plot”? A New, Fun Approach!

Are you tired of beginning each school year with the same ol’ “Elements of Plot” lesson? The initial vocabulary and concepts related to “Plot” can be kind of “dry” and “boring”, especially if you’re a student in grades 7th-10th! You know what I’m talking about because we’ve all been there 😉

I took some time (well, quite a bit of time!) designing a new way to introduce the “elements of plot” to my ninth grade English students! Instead of using the original “Plot Mountain” (pictured below) – I decided to take my students on “Plot Roller Coaster Ride”! Sounds fun – right? Obviously, I thought so! With that being said, I took the liberty to create a comprehensive, lesson bundle covering “The Elements of Plot” in alignment with CCSS standards!

Typical Plot MountainTypical Plot Mountain


Plot Roller Coaster Ride

New Plot Roller Coaster

Download FREE Plot Roller Coaster PDF

Inspired by the graphic organizer shown above, I went on to create a PREZI presentation, student note-taking packet and two intertactive activities to use this year as I teach this standard (RL 7-10.3). I’ve included a few thumbnails of these resources below but you can view a full product preview here:

Elements of Plot Bundle – PREZI, Student Note Packet, Activities, Task Cards

Elements of Plot Lesson Plans Elements of Plot Lesson Plans Elements of Plot Lesson Plans Elements of Plot Lesson Plans Elements of Plot Lesson Plans

As you can see, I’ve incorporated “Plot” Task cards into one of the activities in this bundle! I am really excited to use these because I think the students are going to love them! Each “Plot” task card includes a short description the setting, protagonist and antagonist of potential plot structure. There are a variety of ways to use them in the classroom, but students use the Plot Roller Coaster graphic organizer to create their own plot line from the information found on the “Plot” task cards! I’ve included an example of one below 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-07-27 at 4.34.44 PMIf you’re one of those teachers that has taught the same “elements of plot” lesson over and over (just like me!), maybe it’s time you step out on a limb and change it up for the new school year!


Pinning is Winning: 1 Pinterest Strategy That Has BOOSTED My Exposure!

When I opened my TPT store back in March of 2014, I spent a decent amount of time reading through all of the threads within the Seller’s Forum. Day after day I read posts from sellers “swearing” by Pinterest as a tool to increase sales! I just wasn’t buying it. “What are the chances of someone (EVEN JUST ONE PERSON) repinning a pin that I pinned to my humble Pinterest boards?” I knew that some of the individuals writing a few of these posts had a “MEGA Pinterest following” and the strategy made more sense in that case, but to sum it up, “SKEPTICAL” was the best word to describe my thoughts on the matter….

FAST FORWARD…. to 4 months later and here I am – watching my phone blow up with Pinterest notifications (which I don’t mind in the least)! I dedicated this last week to honing in on my “Pinterest skills” and I’ve learned more than I ever imagined.

Disclaimer: I am in no way a Pinterest all-star, in fact, I would still consider myself a rookie. But in celebration of my progress and in hopes of helping just one person increase their exposure on Pinterest, I thought it wise to write this post.

The moral of the story: Don’t JUST Pin Product Covers!

From March to June, the only thing I had ever pinned was my own product covers. That’s right, I didn’t pin any pins that would float through my Pinterest feed. I didn’t pin any interesting resources from websites. I ONLY PINNED MY COVERS. That’s what you call a #PinterestFAIL!

I started to think about the purpose of pinning covers and why we do it. We want to drive potential buyers to our products, right? Well, sometimes buyers are going to need to be “caught” and “reeled in” with a larger HOOK! What I mean is this: I realized I needed to create “Pins” (related to the product I was trying to promote) that would catch buyers’ attention. Simple – right?

Then I came to my next dilemma…

How do I grab the attention of potential buyers? Well, you’ve got to convince them that your product is going to fulfill a NEED of theirs. Why do people NEED your product? Will it make their job easier? Will it increase student engagement? Will it save them valuable time? Once you’ve hooked them with a solution to their problem, they click on the link and are taken to the product – THE SOLUTION! From there, all of the hard work that you’ve poured into your product cover, product preview and thumbnails will do the selling for you!

As I am writing this, I’m thinking, “Readers probably just think I am on some “Pinterest Soapbox” and am blabbing for sake of blabbing….” But I will show you evidence that proves this strategy works!

Here is the PRODUCT cover of a new product that I just created and posted in my TPT store within the last week:

Slide1Using my old strategy, I pinned this cover to three different Pinterest boards (ONE being my board and TWO being COLLABORATIVE boards). If I add up all of the “repins”, I think there are a total of “8”. Yes, eight people saw this and considered it useful enough to pin. From the time that I pinned this cover until last Tuesday night (about 7 days), I sold TWO of these bundles from my TPT store.

My sales data looked like this:

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 2.21.31 PMI had sold another small product on the larger mountain 🙂 Now, what you are about to see is what happened to my sales after changing my pinning strategies. The first two mountains below are the same mountains seen above (for comparison).

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 2.21.52 PMBig difference in sales between the two strategies, eh? Again, these are VERY SMALL successes… Most would call these sales “chump change”… but it’s “chump change” that taught me a valuable lesson! Since Wednesday, a total of 2.5 days, I’ve sold SIX more of these bundles – with only doing one thing different!

So what did I do to cause this BOOST in sales and exposure?

I started creating additional pictures/collages to use as a “Pin” to promote this product. This is not a promotion of any kind, but I use this easy web-based photo editor called Pic Monkey to create my “Pin” images. Pic Monkey is a resource that I learned about in the Seller’s Forums! Again, it’s important that we look at it this way, “How does my product fulfill a need for someone?” If you can answer that question, then you are well on your way to pinning success! Above, you saw the product cover. Now I am going to show you the first image I created specifically for “Pinterest” marketing…

PinterestcollageSo this was attempt #1…. Looking back at it now, I still didn’t really convey the message of how this could be valuable to someone in need of back to school activities… With that being said, it still received triple the number of “repins” that my product cover received. 

So I thought, “That was okay, but I am going to try this again!”

pinterestBTSpromo1….and I came up with this! I guess I was feeling a little overwhelmed while lesson planning and, for me, humor is the best coping device! I guess a few others appreciated the humor because I quickly had about 50 pins! And it’s still being repeatedly pinned as we speak!

But I’m not one that just stops when I experience a small success, so I tried again….

4ActivityBundleWe all know that our beloved summer vacation is coming to an end and I was feeling anxious… so I channeled that anxiety into this “Pin”! I posted this late last night and I woke up to the always-welcomed “Cha-ching” alert this morning… TWO more bundles sold!

Well… that’s all of the “Pinterest Wisdom” I have to share today. I hope you found my “psuedo case study” the least bit valuable, and if not, maybe you gleaned a little entertainment from my proclivity to make Pinterest work for my TPT store!

Do you have any tips or tricks that would be valuable to others? I’d love it if you would share them in the comments below! I would also love to know which of the three images created specifically for Pinterest caught your eye the most? Just curious 🙂

Keep calm and PINTEREST on!



Travel Themed Classrooom: My Favorite Classroom Bunting Yet!

Today I finished yet another “project” in hopes of one day fulfilling my “vision” of a Travel themed classroom (with an “older” look)! I created these bunting graphics using PowerPoint and clip art that I purchased online. You can download this file for FREE here: Reading Will Take You Places Bunting! Just tryin’ to share the wealth 😉

After printing and laminating the file, I simply bought some black ribbon (on sale) and a spool of “twine” and went to work! I used hot glue to attach the first two buntings to the black ribbon and then (as you can see) simply “clothes pinned” the third line of bunting to the twine! I can’t believe how well it turned out! I can’t wait to add this to my classroom wall and let it shine among my other “travel themed” classroom decor! Let me know what you think!

If you’re thinking about creating your own “Travel Themed” classroom, check out my related blog posts:

DIY Decoupage Storage Cabinets (Travel Style)

Hitting the “Travel Theme” Jackpot!

Decorative Wooden Letters!

You may also want to follow my newest Pinterest Board for even more inspiration!

Travel Themed Classroom Pinterest Board



Classroom Trash to Treasure: DIY Decoupage Storage Cabinets

In my last post, I told the story of my first classroom “trash to treasure experience” and what it resulted in, which were these ahhh-mazingly fun and functional (I might be just a tad biased) plastic storage cabinets:

IMG_4376 IMG_4375 IMG_4374 IMG_4373 IMG_4372Now, I know you are going to find this hard to believe but these were old, dusty (that’s putting it lightly), plastic storage cabinets that were left in my new classroom (which I’m not able to move in to yet) by the last teacher. Just so you can comprehend the “trash to treasure” transformation that went down in my garage today, here are a few pictures of them in my classroom before I got my hands on them:

IMG_4363 IMG_4361 IMG_4359This project took me about 6 hours in total (but I spent a lot of time waiting for things to dry) and it cost me $0…. Yes, it cost me NOTHING because I had leftover scrapbooking paper and Mod Podge from my projects that I’ve done over the past few days! Read more

Trash to “Travel Treasure”: Teacher Edition

I set out to town today with a specific goal in mind: I need to make/force/learn to be the most organized teacher there is… Now, I know what you’re thinking – there are teacher’s out there (you can find some of them on their blogs – like The Clutter-Free Classroom) that are truly the EPITOME of classroom organization…. Anyhow, as the saying goes, “Shoot for the moon, and if you miss, you’ll land among the stars 🙂 Isn’t that just the most encouraging, “2nd place is okay!” saying out there? [Insert sarcastic nod here]

I see all of these veteran teachers on sites like Teacher’s Pay Teacher’s that create and sell classroom labels/signs, custom binder covers, and everything else you can imagine related to the classroom…. and get this… ALL of it is drenched in a specific theme! I absolutely love seeing this but could never imagine having the time to find and execute all of this “fluff” during my last two years of teaching. Well, I have realized that you can use your summer vacation one of two ways: 1) Wine.Dine.Repeat OR 2) Prepare yourself and your classroom for an AWESOMELY ORGANIZED school year! I have obviously chosen number 1 for the last two summers, but this summer is a “#2 Summer” ALL THE WAY 🙂 Read more

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