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Jun 29, 2015


Hey everyone! This is week three of the big #tptsellerchallenge, hosted by Third in Hollywood, Teach Create Motivate, Sparkling in Second, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista! To learn more about the TpT Seller Challenge, Click HERE

I JUST made my new products and uploaded them last night.. After this, I'm going to take a short break so I can get ready for the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Vegas! We are only a week away from the conference dates, I can't believe it! 

So here is what I would like to share for the "Make Your Masterpiece" challenge. Yesterday I uploaded three editable binders (Teacher, Student, & Substitute Binders)  as well as two bundled products of the binders. (Student & Teacher Combo, and all three binders bundled together).  

For this challenge I'll focus on the editable teacher binder! Later in the week I'll swap this product with someone else so we can help each other edit and perfect our creations! 

Editable Teacher Binder - Glitter & Gold
Teachers - Enjoy your summer!!! Download and be organized later for the fall! Don't stress about the upcoming school year, you'll have everything ready to go!! :)
Have all your classroom info at your fingertips! You'll have an entire calendar plus schedule sheets in several different formats! (Horizontal, Vertical, Single-Day, In-Depth, etc). You'll also have information on your lessons, centers, grouping, seating arrangements, faculty meetings, parent meetings, to do lists, contacts, rosters, grading, note taking and more!

Be BINDER READY for the fall!

Contents Include:
Teacher Binder Cover & Spine
Schedule (Mon-Fri
Schedule (Mon-Fri) Horizontal
Schedule (Mon-Fri) Vertical
Schedule Single Day Format
Schedule In Depth Single Day
Full Calendar
Class Roster
Seating Arrangement
Grouping Arrangement
Lesson Planning Pages
Lesson Prep Checklist
Center Activity Pages
Grouping for Centers
Computer Logins & Info
Faculty Meeting Page
Faculty Meeting Notes
Parent Meeting Page
Parent Meeting Notes
Miscellaneous Pages
To Do List
School Contacts
Binder Tabs
Thank You Page

Are YOU a part of the TpT Seller Challenge? :) Post your masterpiece link below and I'll leave you some love on your blog!

Jun 28, 2015

Teacher Binder - Tips & Free Resources!


   If you're an organization freak like myself, you may LOVE the topic of teacher planners and binders like I do! Even though all teachers should be enjoying their summer right now, it may give you piece of mind to have everything ready for Back to School. In fact, you can just spend an hour or two planning and then enjoy the rest of your summer worry-free!!
     What I've found to be incredibly helpful for staying organized throughout the school year are teacher binders... They are simply LIFE SAVERS. Don't kill your precious time by rifling through endless stacks of papers in a big drawer.. No teacher has time for that!

Let this be the year that you start utilizing teacher binders in your classroom! If you're not sure how to go about it, here are my tips and a few free resources!

Tip #1 - Have separate binders for separate topics or resources.
This will prevent your binders from paper overload. I like to have a separate binder for when a substitute comes in.. I'll just leave out that binder for them! Also having a student binder with student-related printables (homework folder, while you were out sick/here's what you missed folder, student information, reading logs, IEP forms, etc.)  is nice to have separate from my own teacher binder.

Tip #2 - Use plastic sheet protectors and have master copies. That makes everything WAY MORE organized and paper friendly!

Tip #3 -  This is my biggest tip - Go digital. Have everything saved and backed up on the computer in case of an emergency. I cannot tell you how many times I've dumped coffee inside my teacher bag... so fun. You can thank me later. ;)

Tip #4 - Make it EDITABLE for every year! (another reason to go the digital route!)

Tip #5 - Use tabs to find things FAST.

Tip #6 - Have an entire calendar in your teacher binder, not just Monday through Friday. If you're like most teachers, (unfortunately) your planning isn't just limited to weekdays. Have multiple formats available in your binder for planning!

Tip #7 - Have a MISC section. I love having this section in my binder for extra planning templates.

Tip #8 - Use binder spines. SO much easier to find on the bookshelf!

Tip #9 - Be even MORE ORGANIZED with topic covers and a Table of Contents!

Tip #10 - Edit so it fits the needs of your students! This is a great reason to have digital and editable copies of your binder. Your students needs will change every year. You will need to alter your binders to accommodate your new students!

 Here are some FREEBIES that you may use as templates in your teacher binder!

Download all the free pages in one PDF file here! 

So those are my tips and freebies for creating teacher binders in the classroom! If you loved the binders you saw in the photos, I designed them and you can find them here! :)

Triple Binder Bundle! - Teacher - Student - Substitute Editable Binders

Teacher and Student Editable Combo Pack

Editable Teacher Binder

Editable Student Binder

Editable Substitute Binder

Jun 26, 2015


Task cards have become my go-to item in practically everything I teach!  When I first started using Teachers Pay Teachers, I began to notice this “strategy” being used in multiple products.  So I thought, I can do this too, and began to create them in ways that worked best for my students.  Although I teach English/Language Arts, task cards can easily be used in any subject area and at any grade level, whether it be elementary, middle, or high school.  That’s what is so great about them!  They’re also an excellent way to save paper and avoid making copies of the always dreaded worksheets that my students despise…

For those of you who aren’t familiar with task cards, they’re basically a modernized version of index cards.  They’re extremely versatile, in that they can be both on paper, on actual index cards, in notebooks, or even used virtually.  Julie Faulkner, one of the many fabulous TPT sellers, has taught me a great deal about incorporating these into my everyday lessons.   I originally purchased her, “Citing TextualEvidence Task Cards,”and once I saw how easy they were to integrate, in addition to how engaged my students were while using them, I was hooked! 

How can task cards be used?  The options truly are limitless!!!  I have used them in whole group discussions, in small groups, in pairs, on a 1 on 1 basis, and with gifted and lower level students.  They are a great way to review and can serve as a quick formative assessment, as well.  To give you an idea of what they look like in my middle school E/LA classroom, I have included pictures of my text structure and types of sentences task cards.  An individual task card may include a paragraph or two (or more, depending on space) and 1 question, or it could have multiple questions.  They could also have a specific task for students to complete. 

Before Christmas break, my students and I were reading the short story version of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.  I found a great lesson on (RWT) called “Beyond the Story:  A Dickens of a Party.  In this lesson, students are required to research 4 specific areas (history, fashion, entertainment, and etiquette) regarding the Victorian Period, which is when "A Christmas Carol" takes place.  In order to incorporate technology (and make the assignment a little easier for me to grade) I used the information provided on the RWT website and created virtual task cards using power point on each of the areas students were to investigate.  On each card I included links that students could click on in order to perform their research.  Then I posted this assignment on Edmodo.  This allowed students to have the option to complete part of the assignment at home, if needed, and then submit their work using Edmodo, as well. If you aren't familiar with Edmodo, Education Technology & Mobile Learning posted a great video tutorial on how to use Edmodo in the classroom here.  The lesson turned out great and even kept my students engaged during that last week of school before getting out for Christmas!  

My personal favorite aspect of using task cards in the classroom, is that they allow for a great way to differentiate instruction (and we know how differentiation is CONSTANTLY being pushed).  For example, maybe you have a student(s) who is doing well with addition and subtraction, but is really struggling in multiplication.  You could group the students accordingly, by having those that need help with multiplication using task cards that focus on just that, while other students are working on different objectives/tasks.  Not only does this strategy allow you to target specific needs for various learning levels, but it also helps to prevent students from being overly aware of what other students/groups are working on in class.  I like to avoid giving students the opportunity to make fun of others at all cost, and this was one way to do that.

If you’re interested in using task cards in your classroom, you can find an unlimited amount of resources on TPT.  If you’re ready to branch out and make your own, you can also download task card templates.  I downloaded several multi-colored blank task cards from Rebecca Bishop for free here.  With the unlimited versatility that task cards offer, you really can’t go wrong with this incredible teaching tool!

About Me

I just completed my 11th year of teaching Middle School English/LA.  About a year ago, my family moved just outside of Atlanta, GA due to my husband's job.  I absolutely LOVE my new school, and am so thankful to have a great group of teachers that have helped make my transition to a new state much easier than I had anticipated. When I'm not dealing with the crazy pre-teens, you can usually find me on the baseball field with my 3 favorite guys.  My husband, Jason and I have 2 boys, ages 8 and 6.  Both eat, sleep, and dream baseball. Our only daughter is a 12 year old lab mix named Abby.   

Please visit my TPT store and blog, Lit with Lyns, for activities and teaching tips on middle school reading and writing!

Jun 23, 2015

Classroom Decor GIVEAWAY!

Hi teacher friends,
     I'm so excited to say that I finally reached one of my big goals yesterday.. I now have over 500 followers on TpT!! :)

     To help say THANK YOU to all the amazing teachers who followed the StudentSavvy store, I wanted to host a big giveaway! Since Back to School is around the corner, I'll be hosting a "Classroom Makeover" Giveaway! Choose your FAVORITE themed classroom (you will see the full list of options when you sign up) and if you are the winner, I'll send you the file so you can give your classroom a FULL MAKEOVER!

Jun 22, 2015

TpT Seller Challenge - DARE TO DREAM

Hi everyone,
It is the SECOND WEEK of the TPT SELLER CHALLENGE! To learn more about the Challenge, Click HERE! 

This week's challenge is titled, "Dare to Dream". We are asked to blog about our future goals and dreams!

So here's what I came up with:

1. I am getting married this year!!! My fiancé and I have been planning since August and it's quickly approaching in November! It's mostly planning little details now but I just pray everything goes smoothly the day of!! But whatever happens, I'm just happy to be getting married to my best friend and love of my life :) I love spending every day with my Matthew, I can't wait until we are married!

2. I am loving this new identity of "Teacherpreneur". I love taking risks and having a small business to run... It is so cool to see two passions of mine (teaching) and (designing educational resources) and putting them together!
3. If you haven't listened to Pat Flynn's Podcast "Smart Passive Income", you should definitely give it a listen! By passive income, he's describing system of automation - growth, transactions, and cash flow without having to be present in every business action. He helps entrepreneurs grow their online business to where they can have flexibility with their life. He talks about "working hard now so you can reap the benefits later!"
4. Whether I'm teaching or selling online resources, I want to enjoy it and be fully present in the moment! Sometimes my brain goes in a million different directions and I get overwhelmed! I've always been a dreamer and it's hard to reign myself in.  I need to enjoy the process and be thankful for what I DO have... which is a lot :)
So what are your goals and dreams for your TpT business? Post your link below and I'll be sure to stop by your blog!

Jun 19, 2015

Jun 18, 2015

6 Strategies to BOOST Student Behavior!


    Student behavior can be quite complicated but the strategies teachers use can be simple, and yet still effective. These six easy-to-implement behavior interventions are simple ways to boost your students behavior. You can never have too many strategies since you never know what unique learner will be entering your class!
1. Point to the Rule
It does not get much easier than this strategy. Most teachers have their expectations or rules visually displayed within the classroom; however, they do not refer to them or use them when correcting student behavior. When a student is not following a classroom expectation, simply point to the rule. Constantly referring back to the classroom expectations, especially during the first few months of school, gives students gentle reminders. Refer to the rule number instead of the actual rule, such as "You are not following rule number 3, please stop". This way it is very clear and the teacher and student typically become less likely to become entangled in a power struggle.

2. Self Addressed Discipline
Self Addressed Discipline is a good strategy to use when you have parents who are equally responsive to their child’s behavior as you. When a student continues a behavior (calling out, out of seat, etc.) after a couple of warnings, he/she is required to complete a form letter. The letter identifies the inappropriate behavior and an explanation of how the student plans to correct the behavior in the future.

The completed form is then put into an envelope with the parents name. The student is informed that the letter will be placed in a file unless the student exhibits the inappropriate behavior again within a designated time frame (that day, that class period, etc.). If the behavior occurs again then the letter is sent home or it could be scanned and emailed to the parents. Parents should understand the meaning of this form. The power behind this strategy is that the student knows the letter is sitting and ready to be sent home and the teacher is not making an idle threat such as “I’m going to call your parents”. Some children can regain control of their behavior once the letter is ready to be sent home.

3. Appointment Cards

Many inappropriate behaviors occur because the student is trying to get attention or avoid a task. Appointment Cards help give students the attention they want but at a more appropriate time that is designated by you. As the teacher you need to give them the message that they are not in control of your classroom and that there is a more appropriate time to address the issue. If you do not want to stop instruction, then you can use appointment cards to formalize the process. Let students know that you want to talk about the issue, but not at that moment and they can make an appointment to talk with you at a designated time. You can also use the appointment cards when YOU want to make an appointment with a student to discuss their behavior. This can be especially helpful for students who are on an individual behavior point system. Assign a point value for completing the card and they will be reinforced for completing the appointment card instead of continuing the disruptive behavior. It is important to continue to give students different strategies that they can use and when students use one of these strategies, you should reward or reinforce that choice.

4. Transition Tickets
If you have trouble transitioning your class from one activity to another, this strategy will be invaluable. Prior to the transition time (lunch to recess, between subjects, end of the day), assign 2 to 3 behaviors that you will be looking for as you walk around the class or walk down the hall. As the class begins the transition, begin handing out "transition tickets" which could simply be raffle tickets to students who are following the behavior expectations. The tickets can then be collected at the end of the week for an actual raffle. After consistently implementing this over the course of the week, a class can usually successfully transition in less than a minute.

5. Timer Surprise
This strategy is another attempt to utilize the rules and expectations already posted in the class. First, students should be very aware of the rules and know exactly the behaviors that are needed. The teacher then uses a standard egg timer and arbitrarily sets the timer, so no one knows when it will go off (you can also use the timer on the Promethean board if you have one.) When the timer goes off, the teacher looks around the room to see if the students are following the class rules. All rules can be used or only one rule may be designated for each interval. If the class is following the rule, then some type of reinforcement is given, such as a check, link in class chain, or other class-wide reinforcement system. The teacher then resets the timer without looking at the amount of time and follows the same procedure. This procedure takes very little time and is effective because it is intermittent and random. This strategy can be used with an individual student, as well as with an entire classroom.

6. Mystery Hero Student
This strategy is helpful when a couple students are creating most of the behavior problems within the classroom. The teacher explains that there is a student’s name written down and kept in the mystery hero student envelope. Throughout the day, the teacher will be watching this student to see if they are following the classroom expectations or some other set criterion (ex: staying in seat, raising hand, keeping hands to self).
If the mystery student meets the set criterion or expectations, then the whole class receives a reward and the name of the student will be revealed. The rewards do not need to be big or even tangible. I plan on having a future post about reward menus that will give lots of ideas! If the criterion is not met then the name of the student is not revealed (you do not want to embarrass the student) and another chance is given the next day. Another option could be putting all the student names on popsicle sticks and place them in a jar. At the end of the day, the teacher would pull out one stick. If the student whose name was drawn has followed all the expectations throughout the day, then the student will get his/her name put on the “Mystery Hero” wall and be given a mystery hero certificate. Add these strategies to your behavior "toolkit" and give your students a behavior boost at the beginning of the school year!
  Click below for FREEBIES of Self-Addressed Discipline and Appointment Cards.
Laura has worked as a School Psychologist for the past 10 years and is currently a Special Education Coordinator in South Carolina. She is married with two sweet daughters and loves sailing, running, and spending time with her family. Check out her blog for more behavior resources and classroom management techniques, as well as early learning resources she has created for her own children.
Discover Hidden Potential on TPT                                Discovering Hidden Potential Blog

Jun 17, 2015

Class Dojo with Sara Rucker

Class Dojo - My favorite classroom tool, and soon to be yours too!

Class Dojo is all about reinforcing positive behaviors and eliminating negative behaviors. It also helps to maintain positive and open relationships with parents.

Setup is easy – just create a new class, naming it whatever you wish, and enter each of your students’ names. Each student will have their own custom monster. This monster can be theirs all year, or if you want, you can allow them to customize their monster at home using their student code.

There are two ways to invite parents to join your class – by email or by letter. Either way you invite parents, they will be given an access code which will give them access to their students’ progress, which can be viewed at any time.

After setting up your class, now it is time to customize your behaviors – positive and negative.
Customize your behaviors to fit the needs of your class. You can also customize the amount of points the students receive.
The options are: 1 to 5 points.

Introduce Class Dojo on the first day of school. On the main page, there is an introduction video for students to view. After the video, show your students the behaviors you have set in place. Make a monster for yourself, to let them hear the sound it makes when a positive point is given, and yes, let them hear the sound it makes when a negative point is given. On the first day of school, it will definitely scare them lol. No one wants to lose a point! But, unfortunately, you do have to give them out sometimes.

Positive and negative points have different sounds.
So if you have Class Dojo on the screen in front of your classroom, students will be able to hear the sounds. I have even pressed freeze using my projector remote, so my screen is frozen, and no one knows who is getting points. It keeps every student alert and focused.

Now, I am going to tell you about the almighty *RANDOM* button!
When you click random, it randomly chooses one student who you can choose to receive a point, or lose a point. This is a great tool to use when you are working with a small group and you want to make sure that the rest of the class is on-task. No one knows who is going to be chosen, not even you. I promise that you will never hear your class quieter than when you are using the random button. It is a miracle worker.
You’ll thank me later for this trick. ;)

Unlike behavior charts, parents are kept in the loop automatically.
They can see why their child received points or lost points INSTANTLY.
If they don’t check the app constantly, a weekly behavior report is sent out every Friday.

Like Remind101, you can send out class broadcasts to every parent who is signed up, or you can send private messages to just one parent. They can also message you at any time. Parents love the instant feedback, instead of waiting around for a reply to an email.

Ready to get started? Get out your smartphone, iPad, or laptop!

        Download the ClassDojo app on any iOS or Android device!

        Or sign up on the web at

        Play around with the Demo Class to see how easy it is to give students feedback.

        Create your class and enter your students!

        Join your school to see who else is using ClassDojo!

        Easily invite parents by clicking on the ‘parents’ tab.

About me:
My name is Sara Rucker and next year will be my third year teaching First Grade. I am a Class Dojo Mentor, so if you have any questions about this amazing resource, please feel free to email me at
My TPT link:
Facebook Fan Page:

Class Dojo FREEBIES in my TPT shop:
1. Class Dojo Reward Pack:
2. Class Dojo Monster-rific Tags

Jun 15, 2015

How to Become a Teacher Blogger!

Goal for the Summer - Become a Teacher Blogger! 
Accomplish your goal in 9 easy steps!

Have you been wanting a creative outlet to share your thoughts on teaching? Or maybe you want to collaborate with other teachers while sharing educational resources and strategies?

Have you been considering to design a blog but either haven't had the time or simply didn't know where to begin? 

NOW is the perfect time to become the Rockstar Teacher Blogger you've always wanted to become! Once you've really committed to designing your blog, the hard part is over!

Here are my 9 easy steps to design the perfect blog for YOU!

1. Get rid of the negative thoughts, worries, and preconceived ideas you have about starting or maintaining a blog. 
When I first starting blogging, all I thought was, "there's so many blogs now, I should have started years ago. How is anyone going to find my blog with the other ones out there?"
Some other great hits are..
"Blogging takes up so much time."
"My ideas and writing skills aren't that great."
Just stop. GET OVER these mental battles. If you are convinced you're blog won't be noticed among the millions of blogs out there, you won't be fully committed to designing your blog. Just know that there's space for all different types of niche blogs.

2. Who is your audience? 

Listen up, because this is the most important question when designing your blog. Who is your blog audience?
You always want to have this question in the back of your mind when making decisions about your blog.
Are you writing to your students? Are you writing to other teachers and educators? Parents?

What is their age range?
What are their interests?
**After your blog is up and running, you'll have more insight to the last two questions by setting up Google Analytics. 

3. What style of blog do you want to portray?

What is the best style that will speak to your audience? Be sure to consider both blog design and your style of writing. Just remember it doesn't have to be all or nothing, think of your style on a spectrum (Ex: personal journal being on one side of the spectrum, a dissertation on the other). After considering your audience, do you want your blog design to have a more casual style or more of a "business" style?
But most importantly, you want to come across as authentic. Do what feels natural for you. Your style may change over time and that's ok!

Take this fun little quiz to discover your blogging style! 

4. What's your name? 

Do you already have an idea for a blog name? Do you have an online store that you want to link to your blog? What about a specific niche that you want to blog about? I suggest making everything cohesive if you have a logo or store already designed.

If you're unsure or starting from scratch, again think about your audience. What keywords might they be searching for?
Pick a name that clearly states what your blog is about. Have a "mission statement" or a simple explanation of what the purpose of your site is.

Ex: Mine is "Student Savvy". My mission or purpose statement is: "Where teachers become savvy about their students, finding the latest information and resources for the classroom!"

5. Pick your colors & theme

Photo Credit: PressReleaseFinder via Compfight cc

This is the fun part! Colors should reflect the style of blog you want to create. Do you want a whimsical (soft colors) or maybe a more modern (bold colors) blog? Possibilities are endless :)
Is there an overall theme to your design?

6. Find a website designer.
Unless you have a background in graphics or webdesign, please do not attempt to design your own website. And whatever you do, DO NOT slap on a pre-made blogger template. I hate saying this, but it comes across like you don't care that much about your website. Invest in yourself and in your blog! I understand if you don't want to spend a fortune on a designer, but you don't have to! There are so many great designers out there that will assist you with your blog for a very reasonable price.
Even if your site tanks (which it won't if you follow these steps), at least you know you gave it your best efforts.
Also, when you invest in your blog, you'll treat it differently. You'll take pride in your blog. You deserve it, your readers deserve it, and it's like putting on a brand new outfit - it feels amazing! ;)

If your not sure where to look for a designer, check out Melanie Anne Creative. She designed my blog and she is FANTASTIC. She is so quick to respond to any questions I have. I still contact her to make changes to my blog when I see where I can make quick improvements to my site or discover some new tool.
Click here to chat with Melanie about your fabulous new design :) 

7. Communicate with your designer what you want for your blog.
Most likely, your designer will give you some great ideas of what your blog needs. Do a little research and figure out what buttons, links, and tools you want.

**Tip for Teacher bloggers: make sure you have a "Pin Me" button that automatically pops up when readers hover the cursor over an image.

8. Sweet, I have a blog... Now what?!?!
Now start posting! Write to your readers with passion and experience, like you already have a huge following - even from day one.
Try not to have your first post be, "Well... here's my blog.. Let's see how this thing goes." Try to jump right in with meaningful content!

9. Congrats! You have a fabulous blog! Here are some things to keep in mind:
-Try to keep your posts on topic. Sharing something personal about you is great but it depends on the type of blog you have. If you mostly blog about teaching resources, don't suddenly bombard your readers with multiple recipe posts, photos of your kids, etc. Keep it on topic most of the time!

-Find your readers! But where might they be?
Do you have a following on Facebook or Instagram? Use what you already have to find your readers!

-If you have a store, don't have your blog be one big advertisement. If you have an online store, that's great! But don't constantly promote only your products to readers. Give them value content so you don't drive them away,

-Reach out and connect with other bloggers. Don't just copy and paste the same message onto a bunch of different blogs "Hi I'm _________ please check out my blog at ____________". That's spamming. Instead, read their content and write a meaningful response. You can provide a link to your blog and invite them to say hi but make sure before you provide that link you gave them a meaningful message. You are much more likely to have visitors this way. :)

-Participate in link-ups, blog-hops, and other collaborative activities. 

-Invite guest bloggers to your site or submit guest post ideas to other blogs.


Those are all my tips for building a successful blog... Now go out there and design the blog of your dreams! :) 

Have any questions or want to share your new blog with other readers? 

Post a link to your blog below! 


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