Thursday, June 25, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge Week 2: Dare to Dream

I am loving this TpT Seller Challenge! I definitely experienced a severe case of TpT-burnout during the school year, but now this much-needed motivation is pushing me to revise my old products and create new products. There's nothing better than binge-watching "Parenthood" and "Orange is the New Black" while working on my TpT products. Thanks to Teach, Create, Motivate; Peppy, Zesty Teacherista; Third in Hollywood; and Sparkling in Second for hosting such a fantastic challenge!

There are many things in life that I wouldn't be able to do on my teacher's salary alone. With a lot of time, research, and hard work, my growing TpT business may help me reach my dreams. Here they are:

1. I cannot wait to finish the K-12 Reading License program at Hamline University. Earning this reading license will be the next substantial step in my teaching career. I've completed two out of the required six courses, but decided to put the rest on hold until I've saved enough money to pay for the courses in full without taking out loans or borrowing money from my sister. I still owe her money from the course I took nearly a year ago! At least she doesn't charge me interest like my credit card companies do...

2. I bought my MacBook Pro in 2009, but it's time for a new MacBook. While I love what I've been able to create with my MacBook Pro, I just want to toss it out the window every time I see this hostile wheel of death:

I added the maximum amount of ram two years ago and it helped a lot, but now creating classroom resources, polishing up TpT products, and completing homework has gotten even more complicated with an aging computer that is so incredibly s-l-o-w. Also, the battery wants to be serviced:

I suppose I could replace the battery and install a solid state drive to improve the speed, but that would cost me several hundred dollars. It's been 6 years since I purchased my last laptop, so I think it's time I treat myself to a new one. Hopefully I'll be able to purchase a new MacBook or MacBook Pro within the next year.

3. I had a great time hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal in 2007 and loved every minute I spent during my 6-week trip to southern Africa in 2011 so it would only make sense to make a trip to Tanzania. I really, really, really want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but it would be a very expensive adventure. Perhaps summer 2016?

4. I was elated when I became a first-time homeowner last summer in July. While I love my home, I had to cut back in other areas to make financial ends meet. Before I owned a home, I had enough money to go to a very special gym, The Firm. I was addicted to their spin classes. They were so much fun and made an hour class feel like it was 15 minutes. This gym also offered yoga classes. They keep the classes pretty small so the instructors were able to connect with everyone to ensure we had the best form possible. I was really close to doing a handstand! Unfortunately, I couldn't afford the membership anymore after buying my home so I had to cancel it. I can't wait to go back and reinstate my membership so I can one day do a handstand.

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Week 1 of the TpT Seller Challenge, Makeover Madness, inspired me to update my old products. Last week's post showed my "Tally Marks" makeover. I started out with the intention of just improving the product cover, but then it turned into an all-day project. I ended up revising the format of all the worksheets, adding an additional activity and adding an answer key. This makeover madness motivated me to improve another math product, my "Counting Coins" product. I created this coin product a year and a half ago, so it definitely needed more than a cover update. Here are the changes I made:

I really need to stay away from my blog, TpT, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. for the rest of the day so I can focus on finishing my "Writing for Social Justice" lesson plan. I will be presenting it tomorrow for the last day of my Minnesota Writing Project class at the University of Minnesota. My 3rd grade lesson plan focuses in on the social justice theme of bullying. I will write about this and share my lesson plan and resources next week in case you are looking for something to do with your students in October for National Bullying Prevention Month.

Enjoy the upcoming weekend!

Ms. Mai Huynh

Friday, June 19, 2015

Five for Friday (6/19/15)

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday! This is the end of the second week of my summer vacation. Since I'm not teaching summer school for the first time in nine years, I thought I was going to have tons of time to relax, but this summer is shaping up to be one of my busiest summers both personally and professionally.

I love creating resources for the classroom, but sometimes I really lack the motivation to spruce the resources up with eye-catching covers to post onto TpT. While it's a lot of fun and the production involved serves as my creative outlet, sometimes I would just rather relax and stare at the TV. Luckily a group of lovely ladies organized the ultimate 4-week TpT Seller Challenge hosted on Teach, Create, Motivate. The first week of the challenge involves revamping a product or cover. I was totally on-board! If you are a seller and haven't joined yet, make sure you read all about the TpT Seller Challenge and join. Here's my first makeover I did on my tally marks product:

My second makeover is the BIG makeover. I spent a lot of time creating first grade morning work for my kiddos that were aligned to the Minnesota State Standards for Math and ELA, but now I've decided to revise it to align with the Common Core State Standards for Math and ELA. Minnesota is unique in that we were the only state to adopt the CCSS for ELA but not for math. Our math standards are currently being reviewed and there are many rumors that suggest we may be adopting the CCSS for math, but who knows. Rumors are rumors. Regardless of our state's decision, I decided to make the change because I got a lot of inquiries asking me to make Common Core aligned morning work. Hopefully I'll be done by the end of July. If you wish to purchase the Minnesota aligned first grade morning work, then you should do so now. You would then have the added benefit of being able to later download the updated CCSS version for no additional charge. It's a pretty amazing 2-for-1 deal!

I just absolutely love miniLUK puzzles. Children are highly engaged with the playful design while reviewing key skills. If you don't know what they are you should watch this short video to learn all about it. Even though it sounds like it, I am not affiliated with this company--I just want everyone to benefit from this great product. It took just two activities with me for my niece to complete the rest of the activities independently. She was able to check her own work too so I was able to keep the other little guy occupied!

Since there are so many approaches to education, teachers constantly need to be learning and being a part of professional learning communities in order to be skilled and effective teachers. My friends and family are always saying, "You're in school again??" Yup! I'm not seeking any sort of degree beyond my master's, but I'm always looking for additional opportunities, whether at the university or at a workshop, to further advance my educational practice. An area that I've never been entirely confident in is my teaching skills in writing, so I enrolled in a 3-credit course at the University of Minnesota called "Writing for Joy and Justice." Our course is based on Linda Christensen's text Teaching for Joy and Justice.  

The final project involves writing a lesson plan that addresses a social justice theme. I chose to address the social justice theme of bullying. I've been busy gathering and reading resources, so I'll share the lesson plan that will be written, in a later post. Anyway, while researching, I stumbled upon this amazing publishing company called Free Spirit Publishing--and it's based right here in Minnesota! Here's their incredible mission: "Free Spirit has had the same mission for more than 30 years: to provide children and teens—and the adults who care for and about them—with the tools they need to think for themselves, overcome challenges, and make a difference in the world." Needless to say, I found many books and resources that fit nicely within the climate I have and would like to continue fostering in my classroom. Here's the first two books (in which I imagine will be the start of my Free Spirit Publication collection):

I wonder how long my two nieces will continue doing the work that I've created. As of now, they don't even realize it's work. They actually think completing these worksheets is some kind of fun! Here's my niece working on her summer packet:

I'm so excited to have fun this weekend and work a little less. I'm going to Rock the Garden (one of the largest music festivals in the Twin Cities) tomorrow to see one of my favorite bands, Belle and Sebastian. And the cool thing? It's happening in my backyard...literally! They are almost done setting up for the festivities that will begin tomorrow afternoon.
Here's a picture taken from my balcony:

Then I'm going to spend Sunday with my daddy (I'm 33 and I'll never stop calling my dad my daddy) and the rest of my family. Happy father's day to the best daddy in the world!

That concludes another entry from Diary of a Grumpy Teacher. Until next time, please enjoy your weekend!