Saturday, June 30, 2012

Work Smarter, Not Harder #9

Hi everyone! It’s Hope King from Second Grade Shenanigans, and I am super excited to tell you about a few things that I have used to keep me from working harder and instead, working smarter in my classroom.

Classroom Jobs:
One thing that I have always pressed the "dislike" button on in my classroom is classroom jobs. I always… I mean ALWAYS forget to assign new jobs! I just couldn't keep up with the week to week helpers and it drove me absolutely CRAZY!! Last year, I implemented a new little system that saved my teaching life called Rockin’ Responsibilities. This method allows the students to apply for a new job at the beginning of each nine week period. They complete a “job application” and once assigned a job, will continue with their duties until the next nine week period rolls around. I mean come on...can somebody press the "easy" button PLEASE?!?

Check out the download for Rocking Responsibilities HERE. It includes job descriptions, application form, and classroom job labels. I take pictures of my students and glue them to clothespins to attach to the labels.

Assigning Student Numbers:
My second little tip is something that I am sure you are all too familiar with. However, when I began teaching first grade, I thought they may be a little too young to keep up with assigned numbers! I am here to tell you…it works like a charm! Each year, I assign each student a number. This makes life super easy when trying to keep track of work, tests, papers, and all of the hundreds of other things that we must keep up with from day to day!  A numbering system is also fantastic at the beginning of each year.  I simply leave the cubby numbers, desk numbers, etc. up and these are things that I will not have to redo unless I change my theme or they begin to get that "grungy" look.  I love, love, love my numbering system and it has always been a huge time saver!
You can click HERE to check out my MP3 student number labels. 

I hope these two little tips will save you some much needed time in the classroom! Be sure and check in from time to time at Second Grade Shenanigans for more tips and ideas! Have a blessed weekend, friends!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Work Smarter, Not Harder #8

I think you've all figured out by now that my motto is Work Harder, Not Smarter!  lol

My tip today, is short and sweet...
Hang your anchor charts, calendar, posters, etc. using 3M clips or clothespins instead of hot gluing or taping to the wall.  When it is time for those all important standardized tests, simply flip them over so the students can not see them.  This will save you time by not having to cover up or take down.

Don't forget to keep sending me pictures of your focus walls.  I'm working on a huge blog post with lots of pictures and a FREEBIE to be posted on Sunday, July 8th!  (I'm also hoping to hit 300 followers by then for a combination celebration!)  Tell your friends to send me their pix! 


Monday, June 25, 2012

Focus Walls

Somthing that I am sadly lacking in my classroom this past year was a great focus wall.  I won't bore you with the story of ALL of 2nd grade changing buildings AND all but 2 of the 11 teachers being new to 2nd grade again, but let's suffice it to say that it was a whirlwind to move into the classroom 4 days before students began.  It was a "hold on for everything you've got" school year as we endured one upheaval after another (remember the principal and asst. principal being "gone" 24 days into the year???)  Yep, it was a rough year.

SO, this summer, I am working dilegently with the help of blogs and pinterest (which I had no clue about either until Christmas) to get my room off on the right foot this year.  However, I am having trouble finding many good pictures of focus walls.  I would love for us to have a blog hop to look at pictures of great focus walls.  Do you have one you would like to share?  If so, please send me your picture(s) and the link to your blog that has more info about the focus wall.
(  I will be gathering pictures for the next couple of weeks and then I'll post them all on Sunday, July 8th.  I look forward to seeing your pictures.  I KNOW it will help me bring my thoughts together and help many, many more teachers as well.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Once a Month Grocery Shopping & Menu Planning

Here's a couple of bold statements... 1) I grocery shop ONLY ONCE A MONTH!!!  2) I spend less than $200 A MONTH on a family of four.  (Well, until my oldest got married, it's less than that now.)Yes, I'm serious. Do you dread going to the grocery store? Do you get tired of hearing "What's for supper tonight?" as soon as you walk in the door?  Well, I am combining my "Work Smarter, Not Harder!" and my "Super, Sizzling Summer Special" today to tell you more about how I accomplish this.
I got tired of going to the grocery store several times a week (and spending tons of money) and trying to figure out what was for supper everynight when I just wanted to rest and relax for a while after my day at school.  So, I decided to do menu planning.  Now, this was several years before I even had a computer or internet, so I had no idea this was actually a concept used by others.  I just designed mine by trial and error.  Since I only get paid once a month, I thought, "Why don't I shop just once a month?"  (Took me a couple of months to actually get it down to 1 time a month.)  But since then, my life has had more freedom (I get to come home in the afternoons rather than going to the grocery store 2-3 times a week) AND more money (all those impulse purchases!!!).

I'm also working MUCH Smarter, because I know what's in my pantry, refrig, freezer AND I also know what is for dinner each night of the month.  I'm saving time and money and not working so hard.

When the economy started nose-diving a few years ago, my friends starting asking me to share my tips.  I conducted several classes and people were begging me to put it into a book.  So, I did! 

Thanks to all who purchased my book during my Super, Sizzling, Special.  You can still order.  However the price is $14 and includes shipping and handling.  Just send me an e-mail with your address after purchasing.  You can send this money to my paypal account:
Included in this book you will find:
     explicit instructions of how to complete once a month grocery shopping
     menu planning
     other frugal money saving tips

After all, I am known as the QUEEN of FRUGAL around this place!  lol

It is homecoming at our church and revival begins tonight, so I will be busy this week, but I would love to hear from you.  How often to you buy groceries?  How much do you spend?  Do you menu plan? 

I'm still loving the looks of my new blog design.  I have to come to it several times each day just to look at how darling it is!  lol

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Brand New Look

I am super, duper excited over my new AHHH-DOR-ABLE blog design!  I have dabbled with doing my own thing and trying to make the vision in my head actually happen.  Of course, that is very challenging when you have NO clue what you are doing! I have checked with several people who do blog designs, but being a newbie to this blogging world, I just couldn't bring myself to spend hundreds of dollars.  I was so excited to read Christi's blog post this week and immediately contacted her.  I cannot believe how simple and enjoyable she made this whole process for me!  If you have been feeling that your blog design is not "quite right" and just can't do what you would like, then Christi is the perfect person to contact!!!

When Cynthia contacted me about doing her new blog design, I was so excited to see her frog theme. She had a great idea, but wanted something more professional. I think this whimsical design certainly hits the mark.

Whether you're looking for a new Blogger theme, graphic elements for other web projects, or even cute printable items for your classroom, I'm here to help. At Design by Christi, I prove that creative designs and accessories don’t have to be expensive. I’d love to work with you next. What can we create together?

Christi =)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Work Smarter, Not Harder! Post #6

Hi Everyone!

I know the title of this series is to "Work Smarter, Not Harder," but it seems that I am SO in the summer mode (and after 9 days of rest and relaxation on vacation), I am finding it extremely hard to even think about working!  Anyone else having this problem???

Good thing that I've made a list of items to discuss for this series or I would already be out of things to say!  LOL


This coming school year, we are going to begin with a "Once Upon a Time in 2nd Grade" theme.  (We are even having matching t-shirts made for the teachers to wear on the first day!)  We are required to do "Instructional Read-Alouds" daily in our reading group.  Each teacher has chosen a fairytale to begin the year.  Each teacher will also complete a read aloud lesson plan for the fairytale with vocabulary words, writing activities, differentiation, etc.  Then we plan to rotate our book each week.  Voila'!  10 weeks of instructional read-aloud lesson plans for each teacher, with only 1 week's worth of work.  Doesn't get much better than that!  (I'm hoping this will work so well, that I can persuade everyone to continue with this plan...Just think...for the entire year I would only have to make FOUR lesson plans!)  WOW!!!  It couldn't get much smarter than that!

Hmmm...I'm wondering if I can talk each teacher into doing 1 week's worth of science lesson plans, social studies lesson plans.......hahaha!!!

Do you do anything along these lines that makes your school year smarter and not harder?

Now, I guess it's time to get out of vacation mode...I've got gardening to do, windows to wash, porches to sweep...

But, before I's a FREEBIE for you! 


Monday, June 18, 2012

Super, Sizzling Weekly Summer Special #2

Add the picture above and join up anytime this week to display your own weekly special!
It's time for my weekly special to be posted.  This week's special (beginning today and ending next Sunday at midnight) is.......

Buy my newest unit

And receive this unit FREE!

Just send me an e-mail (found at end of the unit) to receive your freebie.  Do not purchase the 2nd unit.

Thanks!  I hope you are all enjoying your summer!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Work Smarter, Not Harder! #5

Post # 5 – Using a Shared Folder

If your school doesn’t utilize a shared folder, consult with your tech person about placing one on everyone’s desktop.  Now, let me stop and clarify right here, that shared folder and tech person are as savy as I get.  I so wish I knew more about computers, but alas, I do NOT!  All I know is that we have one placed on each teacher’s desktop of the teacher computer.  In this folder, our morning announcements (which are videotaped by the students) is placed so that we all have access each morning.  In addition to that, our 2nd grade level has a shared folder.  In it we place our lesson plans, ideas, websites, etc. so that we all have a chance to utilize the wonderful ideas we have.  If your school is like mine, good intentions fall by the wayside, when you don’t have enough time to meet as a grade level.  By having this shared folder, we can just shoot each other an e-mail stating what we’ve placed on the Shared Folder.  It’s a great way to “Work Smarter, Not HARDER!!” 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Work Smarter, Not Harder #4

Hello everyone.  I realize it is Thursday morning and I am a day late on my installment for my series, “Work Smarter, Not Harder!”  I do apologize.  You see, I am on vacation, and I kind of lost track of the days…hehehe…Don’t you just LOVE summertime???

My tip for today is to utilize 3-ring binders.  If you’re like me, you always have a few extra of those lying around.  In our school district we have 4 qtrs.  Therefore, I have four binders labeled Q1, Q2, Q3, & Q4.  Inside each of those notebooks, I have the months.  When I print a worksheets, lesson plan, activity, etc.  I save the original.  (Be sure you use a YELLOW highlighter and write ORIGINAL across it.  When copying, you cannot see the yellow.)  Place it in your notebook.  Sometimes, I even use a pencil and write quick notes on the back to myself such as:  GREAT! Need more time, too easy, etc.  The next school year as I’m making my lessons, the current notebook is on my desk.  Rather than having to print AGAIN (and use more of that valuable ink), I just take out of the binder, place in my “to copy” folder a week in advance, and I’m ready to go.

 Thanks for all the comments you have been leaving.  I’m glad these tips and this series is helping some of you out there.  Feel free to blog about it, share with your co-workers, or pin.  I’m just trying to make things a little easier for everyone!

Back to the subject of vacation, for some reason the Internet here does not allow for downloads (took me an hour yesterday for a very small file) or uploads to my stores.  However, I’m using the time to make lots of new items for when I get home next week.  Here is a sneak preview of my latest:

We are doing “Once Upon a Time” for the entire 2nd grade with each teacher having a different story.  I made this one to use in my room.  If there’s anyone else out there using this theme for back to school, I would LOVE to hear from you what you need.  I’ve got lots more goodies I’m going to be making also.

Well, I’m back to vacationing and losing track of the days.  But I PROMISE, I’ll be back Sunday with Post #5- Using a Shared Folder.  See you then!  J


Monday, June 11, 2012

Super, Sizzling Summer Special Monday Linky

Welcome to the very first, SUPER, SIZZLING SUMMER SPECIAL Linky Party.  I will be hosting this party each Monday until July 31st to offer you some great deals in my TPT and TN store.  This week's special is:

for $10.00. and receive


That's 10 math stations & 10 literacy stations...a total of 20, for 50 cents each!!!

Just purchase the first, send me a message on here or an e-mail (found at end of the unit) and I will send you the 2nd one free via e-mail.  Do NOT attempt to purchase through the store. 

Well, that's my SUPER, SIZZLING SUMMER SPECIAL for this week.  Check the links below to see other great deals.  I know we would ALL appreciate if you took the time to be a follower of our blogs and stores when you come across a new one!

If you would like to link up, just right click on the picture at the top, save to your computer and post each Monday with a link back to my blog.  Be sure you link up so everyone can find the great deals.  Feel free to link up just once, each Monday, or just a few of your choice.  ENTIRELY up to you.  Let me know if you have any questions.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Work Smarter, Not Harder Post #3

Getting Ahead on Your Lesson Plan Book

Today's smarter tip probably seems too easy....and it really is.  This one won't take you but a couple of hours TOPS and will put you so far ahead of the game next year.  Whether you do your lesson plans on the computer or you write them by hand, simply going ahead and filling in all the weekly dates, special days, holidays etc.  will make it so much easier when it comes time next year to do those mundane type of things.  If you know your schedule add the times and activities.  If you teach special themes add those into the months you teach.  ANYTHING you add now, will be that much less during the busy school year.  Remember, we want to make this next year all about Working Smarter, NOT Harder!  Check back Wednesday for the next part of my series.

To make this summer even more exciting (not much can beat simply being summer!), I am going to have a WEEKLY special in my TPT and TN stores.  In addition, I will be hosting a weekly Monday linky, for others to offer great specials also.  Come back tomorrow to join up or look for some great deals!  Get ready for some Super, Sizzling, Summer Specials!


Friday, June 8, 2012

How to Pin from a Blog

Did you know there is a right way AND a wrong way to pin an item on Pinterest?  Yep, there sure is!  Doesn't it annoy you when you see an AWESOME idea on Pinterest and click on it, but it takes you to the entire blog or website and you are unable to find the actual post?  Let's spread the word about how to post the actual picture to take you directly to the post.  It's really VERY simple. 

1) Click on the title of the actual post.  (ex:  You would click the title of my post for today titled, "How to Pin from a Blog.")  It might not look like anything changes, but the actual url DOES change.  From this:
to this:

2) Next, pin the picture of the item on the post that you want to pin.

What this insures is that when you have time to go back and look at your pins, it will take you directly to the post with the picture and not just the main blog.

In case you want to practice, feel free to practice on my latest unit.  I am VERY excited about this unit.  We will actually be teaching spelling this year...for a grade and everything...WHOO!!!  HOOO!!! and AMEN!!! 

I am including my original poem to post about "The Spelling Bee."  It includes award coupons as well as "stinger" coupons to encourage students to use their best spelling.  (They never know when the Spelling Bee will visit throughout the year.)

A craftivity is also included.  (I am super-proud of myself for making this one on the computer.  I am just not a person who can draw, though I am so a "wanna-be!" :-)

I, personally, think it's time we teach students HOW to spell and WHY to spell a word a certain way. Therefore, I am including rules also.  (Over 40 different rules to meet needs from kindergarten students to 3rd grade.)

I am running an introduction special on it.  This 73-page until will normally sell for $8.00, but you can get it now at the introduction price of $5.

Click here to purchase from my TPT store.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Work Smarter, Not Harder - Post #2

Post #2:  Year at a Glance

Several years ago, a friend of mine in another grade level made a form she titled, Year at a Glance.  She was very gracious and gave me a copy.  I tweeked it to fit my needs.  I have posted as a FREEBIE in my TPT store, (I haven't taken the time to figure out how to do Google Docs yet) so go download your copy to map out your year.  It is in Word, so that you can edit to fit your needs.  Here is the one we will be using in 2nd Grade with our new standards.  Keep this handy for the upcoming year.  It definitely keeps you on track with your pacing and makes life so much easier!
(Just click on the picture to download your copy.)

I will be adding to my series each Sunday and Wednesday.  My other posts will involve...well, who knows?  After all, it's SUMMER!!!  :-)
Next Post:  Getting Ahead on Your Lesson Plan Book
Look for it Sunday!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Bloggy Ramblings!

What a whirlwind of a day!  Today, we went shopping for a wedding dress for my youngest daughter, Camille.  We went to Davids' Bridal (about an hour or so from our house).  Such a different experience than with our oldest daughter.  We told the lady assigned to us our budget and she STUCK with it.  My daughter takes after me...she is short!  (Only 4ft. 11 inches)  She is also super tiny.  They only had 2 dresses in size 0 petite.  I could NOT believe it when Camille fell in love with the very first one.  It is ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS on her!  Wow!  Much easier than when we shopped multiple times for Megan 2 years ago, but we ended up with the perfect dress for both!

While we were in the area, we HAD to go to Target.  (Who doesn't love Target???)  I found two adorable little buckets in the $1 bin (don't you love that section?).  I got a red and a green.

 I plan to use them to change the way we do pencils.  Is there anyone else out there who let's the situation with sharpening pencils get on your ever-loving last nerve???  This year, I will go back to having FULL control over the pencils.  Yep, I'm one of those who likes to have ultimate control.  I plan on having sharpened pencils in the green bucket.  When students break a pencil, rather than digging in their crayonbox for a new pencil or for their pencil sharpener, they will simply walk quietly over and place the broken one in the red bucket and grab a sharpened pencil in the green bucket.  In my perfect little world (that I see in my mind...hahaha) this is going to be a WONDERFUL plan!  :-)

AND, my cat was very happy with the Target bag.  She LOVES playing with plastic bags for some reason.  I guess it's the sound the bags make.

Don't forget that I just took the plunge and opened up a store on Teacher's Notebook.  I'm running a GRAND OPENING special of 1/2 off everything in my store.  Click on the banner below to go browse around.  This will be the ONLY time I discount my products so much.  The sale will last until Saturday.  I am adding new products daily, so keep checking it out.

Last, but certainly not least, check back tomorrow for Post # 2 of my Work Smarter, Not Harder! series. (Click on sign to read post #1)

Remember, there will be a freebie with tomorrow's post!  :-)


Monday, June 4, 2012

Farley's Linky...

It's that time!  Yep, it's the first of the month and time to link up to Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade.
I've now been out of school for a week, but we were gone to Florida all of last week, so today is my first official weekday at home.  Believe it or not, I'm finding myself at loose ends and can't seem to get going on ANYTHING.  Tomorrow we go bridal dress shopping for my baby...(maybe, I'm just a little sad about that is why I can't seem to do anything today??).  Oh well, it's short and sweet.  Here's my currently...

Check back soon.  I'll be posting the next post in my "Work Smarter, Not Harder!" Series.  Don't miss it.  It will include a freebie!  :-)


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Work Smarter! Not Harder! Post #1

Work Smarter, Not Harder!

My motto for many, many years has been WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER!  Now, you may be asking yourself, “How is this possible?”  Yes, as teachers, we are some of the hardest working bunch of people I know of.  It seems we are always redoing, revising, reinventing, etc., etc., etc.  There are several ways that I try to stick to my mantra to make life easier.  I plan on doing a series this summer here on my blog to give tips and encouragement to make your life more simple, enjoyable and easier.  I hope you will visit often to see my latest post and add comments and questions to help us all.

Today is post #1:  Are You Working Hard at Planning or Hardly Planning?

I like to use the beginning of the summer to map out my next school year.  Other teachers always ask me why I’m not spending hours on lesson plans during the school year.  My reasoning is simple…I did it in the summer at my own pace when I was relaxed and WANTED to do it.   First, on my computer I make a folder titled for the next school year.  (2012-2013).  Inside this folder I make a folder for each month. 
Inside each of those folders, I make a math, language arts, reading, writing, science, social studies etc. folder.

Next, inside each of those folders, I make…hahaha…you got it…MORE folders.  (Make August first, then copy, paste and simply change the month name…remember SMARTER…).  These I label for the things I use to teach the unit such as, Power Points, Hands on Activities, Worksheets, etc. 

Then as I come across ideas on Pinterest, blogs, TPT, Teacher's Notebook, etc. I just drop them into the correct month, subject and teaching style folder.  During the school year as it is time to plan for the unit, everything I need is at my fingertips and it makes planning a breeze!  Of course, I've been doing this for several years, so now I just change the year and add or delete to make it jive with the current school year.  (This year I'll be doing a LOT of adding and deleting with the new standards!  :-)

*EXTRA, EXTRA* - I have opened a store in Teacher's Notebook called, "Cynthia's Pad."  I am having a 50% off sale to welcome you all to my store.  Don't miss it!

What do you do to make lesson planning easier during the school year?

Next post:  Year at a Glance