Go Back to School with NEW YEAR Activities
Yes, by all means please continue to enjoy your holiday break. But, if you are like me and you are thinking about what to do with your students when you get back I do have a few ideas for you!
For math teachers, these New Math Resolutions are a great way to get your students thinking about ways they can improve their work in math and set some goals. You can post them around the room to keep your students motivated throughout the term.
For ELA, or really any teacher who wants to get their students writing, the New Year Goals Essay with Doodle Notes is a great way to get kids thinking, writing, and goal setting, the first day back.
Making TPT a Side Hustle that Works For You
When I was first considering starting a Teachers Pay Teachers store it seemed a little intimidating and overwhelming. I could see all of the items other people posted and it seemed like everything was covered, plus I didn’t really have time for what seemed like a second job. A colleague of mine was doing really well, but he had a very specific niche (check him out here) and I just didn’t see where I could fit in. What did I have to offer? Why would anyone buy my stuff? But, he kept hounding me to try it- what did I have to lose? So, I gave it a shot with a few unique ideas I had laying around. I tried the Basic Seller Membership which has no fees, but a smaller payout, and gave it a go. It was a slow start, but once I started selling and getting feedback, it drove me to create more. Then, I was given some new classes and dove into some new professional development, and the ideas really started flowing. I upgraded to a Premium Seller Membership, which is $59.95 a year, with a higher payout and more features, and never looked back.
It’s been four years and my store, Cassandra’a Corner is still growing.. I love the feedback I get from customers and I love that all the products I created are passive income- I don’t need to do anything but wait for someone to buy one. Now, I wonder why I waited to so long to start and I encourage colleagues to share their great ideas on TPT. If you are thinking about setting up a store here is my advice
- Start with what you need. What are you creating for your own classes right now? Whatever it is, if it’s working, sell it. Don’t try to think of things to create outside of your classroom needs, create what you need so you are helping yourself and your current students and some other teacher who can purchase your product. For a few years in a row I was given new classes each fall without much curriculum. I was making new activities, assessments, and worksheets for those classes anyway, so why not post these items and make some cash? This way I wasn’t creating more work for myself, I was selling the work I was already doing.
- Create items you are passionate about. When I was chair of the formative assessment team at my former school I dug in and created tons of task cards and tracking forms for the math department to use. Then I started posting them. It was something I needed for school so it didn’t seem like extra work. It was something I was passionate about so I could put my heart (and my time) into these things and it even lead to more opportunities, like presenting at a state conference.
- Try your products out in class first. The only way to see if your products really work with students is to try it. When you do, you can see how it works and add details to your descriptions. Believe me if you have a mistake the kids will find it, which is better than a customer finding it and leaving a bad review. At the same time, while working your students, they might inadvertently give you suggestions on how to make it better before posting. As teachers, we have enough pressures and deadlines, TPT shouldn’t be one as well, so take your time and post the products when you know they are ready. Remember, TPT will be there tomorrow, you don’t need to post today.
- Make sure your free item says something about the quality of work you provide. When you join TPT, you have to post one free item. When I first started, mine was a lame generic exit ticket. I assumed I should save my best work for real sales. But, your free item can deter people from looking at your other work. In general, customers search the topic they need and the free category first, so make sure you stand out.
- Create a vanity page for every item. This is an additional page included in your product that showcases, your TPT store, your social media pages, and additional products. A vanity page let’s your customers know you have more to offer and reminds them where they need to go to get more great products. Admittedly, this is something I am still working on. When I started, I didn’t have a blog or social media dedicated to promoting my store, I was just posting products. I didn’t really think about promoting r advertising what I had to offer. So, now I am slowly going back and adding these pages to old products. However, all of my new products have a page that directs people back to me.
- Be careful with pricing. Yes, you want to make money, but you are also selling to teachers and we all know how much extra money they have lying around. When pricing, think about how much you would spend on a similar item. Consider the time you put into creating it and ask yourself, how much you would pay to have skipped all the work? Additionally, TPT has suggestions for items and you can search similar items to see what they sell for. I tend to price my products on the lower end to encourage more sales, and when a product is very popular and has good reviews, I bump up the price a bit.
- Share your items in social media. As soon as a I post a new item, I share it on Pinterest. I will occasionally share to FB and Instagram too but Pinterest generates the most traffic for me. Make sure to go back to your account and repost items again and join group boards to get more views. Follow other teachers to get ideas, but also to share your ideas with them and their followers. Plain and simple: the more people who see your products, the more customers you will generate.
Stay Organized With This Weekly Schedule
I created this Weekly Schedule to so that I had a running To Do List at school. Every Friday I make my list for the next week, by day and by items that I need to accomplish sometime that week. Sure, I have a large desk calendar, but we are talking To Do List here- one that will keep me on track each day with MUST Dos and goals to accomplish on a daily and weekly level. So a nicely organized, colorful list keeps me on track and organized each week. Try it out and see how it works for you! Click on the link, which will take you to my TPT store where you can download my Weekly Schedule for FREE!
March Craftivities For the Classroom
With Pi-Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and spring just around the corner, March is a fun month for craftivities in the classroom. For St. Patrick’s Day my TPT store Cassandra’s Corner has math shamrocks from pre-algebra to Calculus as well as ELA shamrocks to get your students writing and your classroom looking festive. I have Pi- day Garland and math activities too.
Toast to the New Year!
When we return to school after winter break I like to have some entertaining activities to ease my students back into learning. I don’t want to overwhelm them that first day back because it’s hard for me to come back to work, so I know it’s hard for them too. At the same time, I need them focused on learning and I need to have objectives that address some standards. This year, I choose to focus on goal setting. So instead of resolutions we wrote goals on cut-out pieces of toast and “toasted” the new year. To go along with that and make us a little more accountable, I created some doodle notes to help my students set goals and turn those goals into a five paragraph essay. The doodle notes help them brainstorm ideas for goals, narrow those ideas down, begin writing reasons why they picked their goals and steps for how they could achieve them. I wanted my students to make realistic goals, that were dependent on only themselves and were measurable. In order to really show them what types of goals fit that criteria I modeled the process for them so I went through the whole process in front of my class and now I have some pretty sweet goals myself. I won’t share my whole five paragraph essay here, but my goals are to read 24 books this year, find ways to volunteer in my community monthly, and come up with an organized schedule for all my scrapbooking throughout the year.
Let’s face it middle school students love it when you get the crayons, markers and colored pencils out. With that in mind I have been trying, this first year of teaching middle school, to come up with ideas that allow then to be creative but also act as some type of formative assessment of the concepts we have been working on. This idea is way easier when you teach math, as I did in my former life. I have been trying to take some of the same short and sweet ideas I used in my math classes and convert them into English class activities and assessments.
As of late, my 7th grade class has been working on parts of speech and my 8th grade class had been working on figurative language, so I created these ornaments as a way of checking in with them. I give them an ornament with a specific part of speech on it and they have to write examples of it and show it to me before hanging it on the appropriate tree. I have found if I give everyone different ornaments that there is less “sharing” and they actually have work on it themselves. It also means I need to do this over and over to check-in on all my students understanding of each part of speech, but then I have an easy warm-up or exit ticket each day for a little over a week. The kids seem to enjoy this over the typical worksheet and it also helps that they are entertained by the coloring and decorating part. An added bonus is my room feels a little more festive as well.
Factor the Snowman
Here is a little craftivity I have been working on lately and the reason why. I run the after school tutoring program at my middle school. That means students from 5th-8th grade can come and get extra help two days a week for 45 minutes- of and we give them a snack. SO, yes some kids are there for the snack, others for the free daycare, but most do some type of work and ask for help. With no real guidelines for how to run the program (I volunteered to do it but as a newbie I didn’t know what it really was) and a wide range of abilities I needed to make sure I taught them some type of lesson or did something beside homework help. However these are middle school students and so sitting them down for another lesson after a full days worth just isn’t going to happen. So, I have decided to do a quick math review- something they will all know (or should know) and then give them a tiny assignment to complete before they can get their snack (hows that for a little motivation). Since it’s snowing ALOT here I thought the snowman theme would work and I even made some for my English class. So far the feedback is “snow man don’t have four parts- they have three!” But, they are working and asking questions and getting feedback so my job here is done!
If you like these snowman check out the link to my TPT store below. If you’d like to see more of them, shoot me a message.
I currently teach middle school ELA and PE. For the last 15 years I taught high school math and English. I love creating new lessons and activities for my students to try in class.
When you combine my passion for reading with the fact that I taught AP Literature and Language for three years and I have a son who is involved with Battle of the Books you get a recipe for book studies. I have a wide variety and various levels and my collection continues to grow as I read more with my kids and my students.
My current passion is formative assessments and you will find that I have tons for math Since I am now full-time English I am building up my collection in that arena as well. Stay tuned for links to some of my presentations on Formative Assessments which I have given at the Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conferences as well as the Oakland County Best Practices Conference.
For now, check out my store at Teachers Pay Teachers: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Cassandras-Corner