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The new school year is just around the corner and it's time to start thinking about organization....

Last year, I created a Google Form for my student information, and it was one of my favorite things. Using Google Forms allowed me to send the "paperwork" prior to Meet the Teacher night. Thus, that step freed me to focus on forming relationships with my students and parents.

I wasn't the only one who loved Google Forms 

Feedback from parents was extremely positive. They loved the fact that they didn't have to sit and stress over paperwork during "Meet the Teacher Night." I just sent to the link prior to "Meet the Teacher" and they were able to fill it out on their own time. I received almost ALL of the information before Meet the Teacher and only had about 3 that filled it out the night of.

All has been submitted.... Now what?

After the parents click 'submit', all of the information automatically goes to a spreadsheet that only you can see. I just simply saved the shortcut to my computer screen and always had easy access to emergency contact information, pick up information, etc... You can also print a copy if you prefer.

Here's what my Google Form looks like:

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Pencilgrip.com is providing a special offer to our readers! They are offering 15% off your total online purchases for a year. Just enter the code: YOUWIN15 to redeem your discount. Below are a few of The Pencil Grip, Inc. products. My personal favorite is the Kwik Stix. I started using them this past year with my Pre K students and they were an instant favorite. The solid tempera paint sticks roll on so smoothly and there is no mess! 

Total life saver for any Pre K classroom!





Y'all. The Heidi Swapp Lightbox is just too fun! I've been playing around with it a little more to see how I could actually use it in therapy.
Sets used were: alphabet set (Welcome), alphabet set (Talk and Weather), emoji icons, and bright icons.

The Talk UR (heart) Out is just fun. Wouldn't it be great for Valentine's Day? 

The emoji set would be great for my middle-schoolers. I always struggle with age-appropriate activities for them. These could incorporate emotions with how they communicate - texting. Discussion topics could be - which "happy" emoji would you use and why? Which ones are appropriate for friends? Which ones are appropriate for your parents?

How about a weather board? There aren't many symbols, but the sun, cloud and umbrella cover most of our basic weather. Students then pick clapping hands if they like the weather OR turn the "thumbs up" sign to "thumbs down" to indicate the weather is yucky.

And lastly, I considered using the symbols to indicate rules in the therapy room. Lips for talking, heart in the speech bubble for kind words, peace sign for respect for others, boom! for praise, the globe for expending skills, and a heart to let students know they are loved.

If you get a lightbox, don't forget we have a freebie for you!

Instagram is dangerous. At least, for my wallet.

I've been seeing all these fabulous teachers on Instagram with Heidi Swapp lightboxes. And I'm thinking - I think I have a lightbox from my scrapbooking days! But of course, Heidi's is just awesome. It's a marquee, and after seeing all the wonderful teacher ideas, I had to have one. I mean, our school's theme next year is Rock Stars. The marquee is a NEED, right?!? At least that's what my sister tells me.

After a trip to Michael's with my friend and $40 later, here's what I have. To be clear, the lightbox was 40% off of $40, and I had my teacher ID for 10%, so it was half price! I bought two sets of letters, some glitter tape, and some Tim Holtz scissors. For the non-sale price of the marquee, I got even more!

The marquee is a nice size. It runs on either C batteries OR a USB port (brick not included). Heidi provides storage for the cord, which makes me soooo happy!
The cord storage is super easy to open - no breaking of fingernails. The battery compartment is at the bottom. Here's the closed view.

A few notes:
* The letters do NOT come in alphabetical order, which is basically my librarian sister's nightmare. They also have a clear plastic film on them. Go ahead and take some time and organize them.
* Each set includes 50 letters, but the package doesn't tell you which ones. Both of my sets had 3 of A, E, I, O, and U; 2 of B, C, D, F, G, H, L, M, N, P, R, S, T, and W; and one of J, K, Q, V, X, Y and Z.
* The width of the letters varies slightly. For example, the I is not as wide as the W tile.
* The letters and slides go in from the right side. Lay out the letters and then slide in to avoid misspellings.
* I'd like to see some punctuation - a slash for speech/language or an ampersand for Speech & Language and an exclamation point after Rocks!
* You will need a brick if you decide to use the USB cord.
* The visual instructions at Michael's instruct you to cover the side with tape. I bought mine but I haven't put it on yet. My friend reports the tape is not positionable - it's pretty sticky. Also, the USB port and on/off switch are on the side, so the tap doesn't go all the way around the box.

Here is my friend's sign. No, that's not a misspelling, it's a play on her name.

Did I mention our school's theme is Rock Stars? I decided to try my hand at my own design! You can use transparencies for your printer, but they were $1-2 per page at my local stores, and I didn't want to wait for an online order. I went with vellum from Michael's for $3.24. Here is what the sign looks like on regular paper - the light still shines through. The paper is more visible but not distracting.
Vellum is pretty good. Be sure to change your printer settings for paper to lightweight. The vellum did come out with a few smudges, which must have occurred during the printing process. The ink was dry once the paper came out. The vellum is a little more transparent.
Guess what? This sign is a freebie for you! Just go to All Y'all Need, download, print, and trim along the lines!





Hello!
I've been reading Growth Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck as part of a summer book study. I am so excited to  share what I took away from chapter 2! See chapter 1 insights from hosts Kindergarten Smorgasboard and Kindergarten Chaos.

Dr. Dweck explains that there are two types of mindset: growth and fixed. This chapter is chock-full of details, examples and how the two mindsets affect our view of failure, depression, success and work ethic. Here is my definition of the two mindsets....

Fixed Mindset

Someone who believes that they are born with all of the ability they will ever need. There is no need to put forth effort because one shouldn't have to work hard if they are talented/smart enough. People in a fixed mindset stay in their comfort zone where success is a sure thing. I think of a teacher that never wants to try something new because she has found what works and is sticking to it. The thought of failure and challenging one's self isn't appealing at all.

Growth Mindset

Someone who believes that one can change how talented or intelligent you are. It's all about hard work and motivation. People in a growth mindset thrive on a challenge. They are never satisfied and want to constantly challenge one's ability. A teacher that is constantly researching best teaching practices and implementing new ideas comes to mind.

Mindset and Failure

This is what I found to be most interesting. One mindset correlates failure to self worth. For example, a failed action turns into the belief that I am a failure. Dr. Dweck explains, "Beyond how traumatic a setback can be in the fixed mindset, the mindset gives you no good recipe for overcoming it. If failure means you lack competence or potential - that you are a failure - where do you go from there?" This is when the blame game comes into play. It wasn't my fault, they shouldn't have been standing there in the first place. I had practice last night so I didn't have as much time to study. The reasons go on and on....

The other mindset correlates failure as something that can be faced, dealt with, and solved. The problem is a learning experience that happens on the road to success. One can reflect and grow from their mistakes.  For example, if a student does badly on a test, they will be motivated to study harder and work harder next time.


Mindset and Depression

Dr. Dweck explains that each mindset deals with depression differently.

Fixed mindset individuals become unmotivated, may not get out of bed, and stop trying to solve their problems. Thus, resulting in failure and the perception that I am a failure.

Growth mindset individuals that are depressed do the exact opposite. They begin to cope with determination. The worse they feel, the more motivated they become to confront their personal problems.

What I take from this chapter.... 

I truly believe that I have evolved from the fixed mindset to the growth mindset. In college, I believed that I was smart and talented. Therefore, I was going to be a wonderful teacher no matter what. Things had always come very easy to me and I thought teaching was going to be the same. (I know.... you are totally laughing right now!) This changed when my students walked through the door! I began to feel like I wanted to grow more professionally and was never satisfied with the norm. I'm still a work in progress because I am also a total perfectionist! But, I do believe that evolving towards a growth mindset has helped me see that failure is just as important as success.

Good news! Dana from Common to the Core is also giving her spin on chapter 2. Head on over to her blog to read her thoughts on Mindset!








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