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Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year!

Hi there fellow teachers,

I love being a teacher! I love the students, the planning, the preparing, the teaching and the resource making!
So what was I doing New Years Eve and now on New Years day? Creating resources to be used in the classroom because I ENJOY doing it!

I don't usually like New Year resolutions. It's just the New Years Fever that hits us all and causes us to want to make this year bigger and better. This year I have succumbed....sorta.... I have a list of things I would like to do in January. Hopefully by limiting them to January goals I can achieve them all!
My first....to do a blog everyday of January!
Make sure you follow me so you don't miss out on all the tips, freebies and products I will be sharing over the next 31 days.

For starters here is my first product (he he) of 2015, a bundle of all my resources from 2014 for a steal.
Due to being busy this year having a baby, building and moving into a new house and continuing to work full time during it all, I only made 17 products. But they were 17 pretty awesome products and they are available to you for half price during January,

Persuasive Writing Unit 
Place Value Cupcakes
Easter Bulletin Border
Heat Unit
NAPLAN Revision Quizzes
Complete Spelling Package
(including Ultimate Collection of Spelling Activities) 
ACARA Year 3 Checklist
Mothers Day Activities
Fire Safety Unit
No Fuss Classroom Calendar
Night and Day Unit
First Aid Unit
Year 3 ACARA Test
Complete Multiplication Memorisation Package
Christmas Around the World and Other Activities
Christmas Spelling Activities
Grouping Cards

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Revamping Your Teaching Store

After taking (maternity) leave from my Teachers Pay Teachers store I felt like an update was needed upon my return. Here's a list of what I have gone through and done:

  • New store banners
  • Analysed statistics for views vs downloads. If your products are getting views then your thumbnails and titles are doing their jobs. If your views vs downloads ratio isn't good (high views/low download number) then your summary of the product (or the product itself) is not good enough. My free products average out to have about 1 download for every 5 views and my paid is approximately 1:20. Definitely room for improvement.
  • Went 'searching' for my products to see what else was out there that was similar and where my products showed up in the list.
  • Based on the analysis and search results I changed some product descriptions, titles and thumbnails. I plan to redo a few of my products but that will take more time.
  • Adjusted prices for highly successful and unsuccessful products. Pricing products isn't an easy task and you shouldn't feel bad about adjusting prices as needed. 
Its definitely helped motivate me to start producing content again...now just to find the time....


Saturday, 18 October 2014

I'm Back!

So I have been gone from the blogging and creating teaching product's world for a while. I had a baby (Aria) and worked up until three days before she was born (I had my reports done and left the relief teacher with almost all the lessons planned for). I then went back to work when she was 2 months old leaving her with her stay-at-home Daddy. Oh and we moved into the house we had been building. (http://thesasha-customdesign.blogspot.com.au/) Crazy I know! It's been hard work looking after a baby and 22 students and it has left no time for anything else.

So it may come as no surprise that if you are not active on your blog or on the teacher selling sites that sales and views decline. The moment I started to upload new products my sales increased dramatically. I am hoping to keep this increase going by putting up new products every month and blogging at least once a week. Check out my new products below.
First Aid 

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


My store is on sale for the next two days! Click my store name above to browse the bargains!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Mother's Day

To be honest I usually don't do anything in my class for Mother's Day. I either forget about it or worry that I will forget about Father's Day and then that's not very fair. It usually involves some sort of expensive craft activity that has little educational value that Mother's will inevitably throw out.
This year I made several resources so that Mother's day could be a week long theme that had educational value.

First off is an I Love You Flower. Students write down similes for how much they love their mothers e.g. I love you like a bee loves honey. It can also be used for teaching prodigy with students mentioning how much female animals love their offspring e.g. like a doe loves its fawn.

Next is a coupon book. I don't see the point in the ones that are pre written and all the students do is colour. Get your students to come up with ideas and write complete sentences.

Why should all the lovely things kids create go straight home? Decorate your classroom with 'All About My Mum' bunting for when the mothers come into your room.

Revise procedural writing with a made up Perfect Mother Recipe. A very cute gift for Mum.
Sometimes you need early finisher activities and a word search and acrostic poem are perfect for this. 

All these activities are available for sale or you can make up your own proforma's. Follow the links below to your favourite teachers resource site. My package includes both Australian and America Spelling of Mum.

Monday, 21 April 2014

My Spelling Approach

Stay tuned till the end for FREEBIE!

I have been perfecting my spelling approach ever since I became a teacher 5 years ago. It was my worst subject in school and I thought the main approach used by my teachers had failed me. 

I wanted to perfect my spelling approach so that it allowed the weakest students to succeed and the top students to excel. I looked at many spelling approaches and through trial and error came up with a system that is currently showing great results. Of course I will continue to perfect it as time goes on but for now here it is:

My spelling approach focuses on rote memorisation of words and is not a phonetic approach. Phonics does have a place in the classroom and sounds should be taught for the benefit of spelling and reading but I keep it separate to my spelling program as not all students are able to effectively spell using sounds. Sounds did not click with me until I became a teacher and had to learn how to teach them. I want to make sure the words my students are learning to spell are applicable to them so the list I use comprises of 1200 words that make up 89% of written English language. I arranged them in increasing complexity with some more frequently words introduced earlier. These words are broken up into 120 lists of 10 words.

Many teachers choose a spelling approach where they allow students to pick words of interest. This can be good for motivating students but should a year 3 student be able to spell tyrannosaurus over they? With a word that big and complex how long will they retain that word if they still struggle to spell they?
Other teachers choose to take words spelt incorrectly from students writing. But if a student did one trip to a random country town is it important they spend a week learning to spell it?

I send the spelling list home to parents to encourage work on the words at home and have a class set of the complete list for use by students.
I use a pre test to roughly assign students to a list. This method is not full proof but it would be a waste of time to start all students from list 1.

A typical spelling lesson in my room goes for 15-20 minutes. You want to keep it quick and fast moving.
1.Spelling instructions and recording who wants a test.
2.Test (students not having a test continue on)
3. L.S.C.W.P.C.
4.Spelling Activity
5.Early finishers task or free time
If students do not finish the activity they should be required to complete it at an alternative time.

Look, Say, Cover, Picture, Write and Check has its place in a spelling program but is not effective if students don't focus while doing it nor if it is your stand alone spelling program. It can be a complete waste of paper and can teach students to spell incorrectly if they copy their own list words into their book/journal. I have my lists laminated and students use whiteboard markers or crayons to write their words on the back. This is a great trick as it forces students to 'cover' their words. We all know most kids just copy if they are able to.

For those that don't know what Look, Say, Cover, Picture, Write, Check is: The students look (L) at each word in turn and say (S) the word as they turn the card over (C). The students picture (P) the word in their head and then they write (W) the word with a whiteboard marker or whiteboard crayon (messier but don’t dry up or stop working from pressing too hard). Finally they check (C) that they have spelt the word right.
Students then complete a spelling activity from these Spelling Activity Task Cards usually selected in advance by me.
For younger students I have activity sheets I laminate and they write over.
For older students I have Spelling Activity Grids so they can have more of a choice of the activities they do or use it for homework.

Students shouldn't be forced to stay on a list for a set amount of time. Some students learn words more slowly then others and shouldn't be rushed. I keep a track of how often students pass so that I can given them extra help, encouragement or a push if needed. 
At the beginning of the spelling lesson the teacher calls out each list in turn and records who wants a spelling test. Students then complete the test on a scrap piece of paper (precut stash by teacher) as the teacher calls out one word from each list being tested before cycling through again.
The teacher should use the name of the students rather then the list name to ensure students don’t miss any words. It may sound quite daunting to test so many different lists at once but it ensure students do not cheat and can easily be completed in 5 minutes with a quiet class and practice.
The teacher then marks the test immediately. To pass a list students must get all 10 words correct. Students should study their errors if they don’t pass.
Talk to students every few weeks about how to tell if they are ready for a test. i.e they complete L.S.C.P.W.C without errors or needing to look back.
Publicly reward students with a certificate when they pass every 10th list. 

The most important part of my spelling program is the termly test. The main problem with rote learning is that students commit the words to short term memory but it is not guaranteed that they will commit it to long term memory. To catch the words that slip, a termly test needs to be done. I find it best to test on the block of 10 lists closest to where they are at. If the student passed list 13-23 then I would test them on 11-20. Use your discretion and knowledge of the students. The students are required to repeat any lists they did not receive 100% on. To repeat means they need to practice the words and repass a normal class test.

So that's how my spelling program works. Hopefully it gave you some ideas on how to perfect your own program or inspire you to try mine. If you do like the sounds of my approach you can purchase all the resources feature above in my Complete Spelling Package:

Grab these Spelling Posters FREE right now!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Preparing for.....dun dun dun.... NAPLAN

****Like MrsAmy123 on facebook  www.facebook.com/mrsamy123 ****

It's an acronym that no Australian teacher likes to hear. But whether we like it or not, NAPLAN is going to be here soon.
I don't condone teaching to NAPLAN but I do believe in preparing my students for it and ensuring they do not suffer adversely because of it.
In term 1 I make sure I cover as much of the wide scope of the Australian Curriculum as possible when it comes to Numeracy. This includes revision of what the students should have learnt in previous years and some new information that is often included in NAPLAN.
For English I cover both persuasive and narrative writing.
I also cover a wide scope of grammar, spelling and reading concepts.
Term 1 Planner

At the end of each week I get my students to do a quick 15 minute quiz. These quizzes not only allow students to display their understanding of the concepts taught that week but also familirise students with question types. Without these practise quizzes students would get answers wrong simply because they shaded two answers in or didn't understand what to do. I begin the lesson by introducing or revising that NAPLAN strategy for that week. These strategies are used by adults all the time during tests but need to be taught to students. I use characters to make these strategies stick in the students head and make learning them more interesting.

Careful Cara - Read the question carefully
Whinging Whinnie - Don't get upset about the test
Naughty Nick - Always one answer that is obviously wrong
Diligent Dolly - Working quickly and monitoring the time
Sneaky Sarah - Two answers are usually very similar
Guessing George - If in doubt guess, but use other tricks to eliminate answers

I then give students time to complete the quiz. To help gradually build up their confidence with tests I go through the first one to two tests with the class and discuss or give hints to the answers. The next few tests I only read the questions. Then they begin doing the test independently.
As students believe they have finished the quiz I mark their answers and give them a second attempt at any they get wrong. If on the second attempt the answer is still wrong I briefly explain to them which is the correct answer. My students then go on to IPad free time. Once everyone is finished I go through all the questions with the students to make sure they understand the concepts the question was testing. Incorrect answers can be recorded for later small group activities or one-on-one help.

You can purchase the quizzes I use here:
While I used them weekly they can easily be used daily in Term 2 until NAPLAN.

I do one full practice test (Numeracy) at the conclusion of term 2 that I then analysis for topics that I need to revise in term 2 with either the whole class or small groups.

The other part of preparing students is to make them understand that NAPLAN is 4 tests that you do your best in but they are not something to stress over. I explain the format of the NAPLAN, that no one is expected to get 100% on it. That is has questions from the Year 5 and 7 NAPLAN test. I also tell them that not even I usually get 100% on the test. I tell the students that doing their best will make me proud and that is something they should strive for.

Using these strategies above I avoid having any tears or comments of 'I can't do this' during NAPLAN week.

Good luck with NAPLAN 2014!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

First Milestone

Today I finally made $100 profit on Teachers Pay Teacher. Its been a while coming but I am glad to have made it because I am sure many give up before they achieve it.

I first signed up to sell in August 2013. That may seem like a long time to get to $100 but there are many reasons for it. My hope in sharing these reasons with you is that you will hit this milestone quicker if you decide/have decided to sell.
August is the end of the American Teacher's holidays so most are already going to have their things ready to go for the new school year. To start selling at that time of the year with classroom display items isn't going to get you much business. The first few things I put up were job charts and simple posters. I sold a few to the last minute teachers but had missed the boat.
So wrong time of the year plus wrong products meant minimal sales and a large decrease in my motivation to make more products.
Fast forward to January and I slowly got back into it and over the month I added some more products. Steady sales started coming in. My products are cheaper then what most charge as I can only justify charging what I myself would pay and I am a stooge!

So tips for people just starting:

  • Don't start your store in late August and expect sales that will motivate you.
  • Spend time making and uploading products that will sell at the time of the year you start in i.e. classroom displays in May/June, Christmas stuff in November etc. 
  • Be proud of when you do make a sale- no matter how small.
  • Read lots of the posts on the sellers forum-there is a wealth of knowledge there!
  • If you want to see a good increase in sales build up 20 (timely) resources (I only just hit 20). Make at least 5 of them freebies that will get people's attention. I found a strength in making free bulletin borders.
  • Become familiar with your dashboard and especially your statistics. Even if you aren't getting sales the statistics will show you if people are viewing your products and let you know if your freebies are getting downloaded.
I will post more tips soon. For now, check out my store as I am currently having a 10% off sale. (Ends 12/4/14)
If this post has helped your decision to start selling please consider using my referral link:

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

How I Got Started on Teacherspayteacher

While I was in uni studying to be a teacher I had a part time job. What I loved about it was that I could easily do extra hours and earn more money whenever I wanted. If I didn't feel like extra work I didn't take anything extra on. Its nice being able to earn extra money and I often miss it. I have tried a couple of online things to make extra money.

In 2012 I began making Youtube videos, an enjoyable hobby that I hoped would end up putting a little extra in the bank. A year later I had made a tiny bit of money but was frustrated with putting up what I thought was quality videos and not getting the views or subscribers. I no longer enjoyed it and looked for my next opportunity.

Late 2012 I joined a host of survey sites online and spent countless hours (multi-tasking while being a couch potato) filling in surveys. Again I made a little bit of money but became frustrated at the constant time spent doing a survey only to have "this survey is not right for you" appear 20 minutes in and get no rewards for it. It quickly became repetitious and while I still receive the emails I don't do the surveys. I made a little more then Youtube but it took up more time and was less enjoyable.

In July last year I finally got on board the Pinterest train and quickly got addicted. It wasn't long before a pin lead me to Teacherspayteachers. Like so many other teachers I make a lot of my own resources and thought "I could do that." A little umming and arrhing later I had uploaded my first product!

Check back soon for the next part of my journey. Check out my store here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Mrs-Amy123 

If you are interested in signing up and selling your own products on TeacherspayTeachers going through the link below will benefit both of us and I am happy to provide support for anyone that needs help getting started that uses the link.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Ultimate Collection of Spelling Activities

This past month I finally completed a project I have wanted to do for a few years. I wanted to make a written copy of all my spelling activities and more then that I wanted something I could display and easily show my students what the daily activity was without having to go through it all and write an example. Less explanation time, more learning time.

The spelling program that I use (available here:  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Complete-Spelling-Package-1171467) is based on route memorisation of the words and is not phonetically based. As such I wanted a complete spelling activities list that doesn't involve finding patterns etc that seem make up 50% of most other spelling activity lists. 

I managed to record 90 spelling activities and I grouped them into the following headings:Quick and easy
Literacy based
Numeracy based
Requiring materials
IPad/computer based
This makes picking a spelling activity for the day a simple task.

I believe in making spelling quick and fun. Who wouldn't get sick of repeating the same 10 activities over and over again. 90 spelling activities should get you through almost half the year before you have to repeat any. Most of the activities can be done in an exercise book to save you photocopying costs. I usually remind students to stick to the lines and use one page a week, ruling around completed spelling activities. 

I have made this complete list of spelling activities available for purchase here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Ultimate-Collection-of-Spelling-Activities-Ideal-for-Smart-Board-1171455

This package contains a PDF file for you to be able to print out the activities as cards for easy reference. Print 4 to a page to save paper or A4 for display. It also contains a PowerPoint presentation for putting up on the Smartboard for easy reference by your students during spelling time. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

No Fuss Calendar!

I always liked the idea of having a class calendar but the upkeep of it always seemed to result in the calendar staying on the same date for months. I have a job chart in my class and someone assigned to update the calendar but as a lower primary teacher the students would either forget to update the calendar (at an appropriate time) or would take forever going through the cards to find the replacements- even if I put them all into order and wrapped them neatly in an elastic band.

Now I could take the responsibility away from the kids and do it myself but then you have to ask yourself what is the point of having a calendar?

Enter my new and improved calendar! All the cards have been hole punched and attached together with a hinged metal ring. This means no loose pieces, always in order and easy to update at a drop of a hat. I have the metal rings handing on large pins in the wall but you could also use strong magnets on a white board or sticky hooks on a wall. When printed on A4 the cards are largest for students to copy the date off of for their work.

Its not hard to make your own but you can download my rainbow edition at Teacherspayteacher.
Included in the package is:

date, month (words and numbers form), day and year (2014 & 2015) printable cards to allow you to make a displayable flip calendar. 

Also included are 8 weather cards for those that like to include this with their calendar.

Alternatively use the months and days for a word wall display.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Persuasive Writing Unit-NAPLAN Prep

So in less then a week I go back to school! While this year is my third in grade three and I really feel like I have a good handle on the grade and a large supply of resources it will be unlike any year of my teaching career so far.

You see, I will having my first child sometime after NAPLAN this year, taking the shortest maternity leave I can (aiming at three weeks!!) and then will spend the rest of the year with a newborn in my house.

So before I go back to school I want to have as much of the term planned out as I can so I can make this term as easy on me as possible and allow for the planning of term 2. I'm terrified of going on maternity leave and coming back to a class that hasn't progressed while I was away so I want to leave detailed plans for during my absence (no, I don't  have to but I am very dedicated to my students education).
So that brings me to the first completed package for this term-

Persuasive Writing Unit.

The package is a complete 10 week unit on persuasive writing (exposition writing). It includes a planner based on ACARA curriculum that features a variety of interesting teaching strategies and the worksheets and posters to go with each lesson.
The planner was written for year 3's but is easily adjustable for using in year 4 and 5 classrooms. 
At just over three pages the planner features five to six steps for each lesson, keeping it simple and succinct. Teachers need to use their own skill to ensure the lesson remains explicit and teaching oppurtunities are not missed.  
The file has been zipped so please make sure you have a program that can open the file after downloading.
I have trialled this unit for the last two years and have achieved excellent results whilst providing education and enjoyable lessons to the students.
Download link: http://www.teachersmarketplace.com.au/browse/resource/?cid=6948&searchstring=q%3Dpersuasive%2Bwriting%26resourceid%3D%26subjectid%3D