5 Facts About Me

Nikki, over at the Teaching Autism Blog has set up a "5 Facts About Me" linky party that I thought would be fun to join and to learn more about some of my TpT friends!

1. I am a pet lover. 

I am currently owned by 2 golden retrievers and 3 cats. Before I majored in education I actually wanted to be a veterinarian! I have never been without at least 2 pets in my household during my adult life. One of the dogs that holds a VIP spot in my heart was Penny, who I found in the parking lot of my dorm in a blizzard in 1990. She was with me for over 14 more years. I really feel like I was the lucky one during that blizzard!
Penny with new puppy Maddie in 1997.

Currently I have two golden retrievers, Katy and Hurley. 

Katy was my first golden retriever and I have truly fallen in love with the breed. A golden retriever is about the most perfect soul on earth! I have enrolled Hurley in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study to help discover why this breed is so prone to cancer. The leading cause of death in golden retrievers is cancer, 60% of will die from the disease.

I am fascinated with therapy and service animals. Katy would make a fantastic therapy dog. She was actually in training before we the program we were enrolled in shut down and shortly after she had to have a series of knee surgeries. She was instrumental in bringing out the "talking" in my son when he was 3 and speech delayed. She's also a fantastic dog to read to. She's currently on her second round of the Harry Potter series read aloud!

2. I love to travel.

I love to get away and see new places. Over the years, especially with my kids young, my favorite place has been Disney World. I love driving under the "Welcome to Walt Disney World" signs into the utopian world of Disney. It is so easy to escape the problems of life and the world within their walls. 

Last shuttle launch of Atlantis, July 8, 2011.

Other places I have enjoyed experiencing are Space Shuttle Atlantis launch, Washington D.C., The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,  different cruise ports in the Caribbean, and the most beautiful place I've ever seen Alaska!

Stingray City, Grand Cayman

Butter beer and Hogwart's Castle!

The Sawyer Glacier at the end of the Tracy Arm Fjord.

3. Couldn't live without my Tivo!

I hate watching live TV and I hate commercials even more! My Tivo is the best invention ever! I record the shows I want to watch. I can watch them on my schedule and skip through commercials. I can stream through places like Netflix. It really is a wonderful invention!

4. I read the newspaper every day!

 I am still old school and read the newspaper every day! My day is just not right if I don't start it off with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. 

5. I would love to move!

I grew up in Sioux Falls, SD, and I have lived in the Omaha, NE, area for over 20 years. The midwest is a great place to grow up and to raise a family, but I am really ready to change my landscape! After traveling to the beautiful places like Alaska, Florida and the Caribbean, the flat corn fields are getting really, really drab!

In 2011 we spent some time staying in New Smyrna Beach, Florida during our two space shuttle trips. It is such a beautiful little town that isn't overrun with tourism. I could really see myself settling there one day!

So there you have it, 5 facts about me! I'd love to learn 5 facts about you! Head over to the Teaching Autism blog and link up your "5 Facts About Me" post!

How TpT has Changed My Life!

On June 21, 2015, I celebrated my fifth anniversary of selling at Teacher Pay Teachers. The Teaching Bank was born seven years before joining TpT, but TpT is definitely the key in the success of The Teaching Bank today! TpT has taken The Teaching Bank from a hobby business to an actual company.

When I was pregnant with my first son I made the decision to take some time off teaching. I had been working at an inner city school and the stress was taking its toll. My early years there were great despite the challenges. We had a fantastic principal who supported us and treated us like professionals. Sadly, he retired and the new principal was his polar opposite. She was incompetent to the point that the entire staff met with the superintendent begging for help. Unfortunately, our pleas fell on deaf ears and the stress continued. After suffering two miscarriages that year I decided to take a year leave in the hope to protect my new pregnancy. I was blessed with my wonderful son that November.

When I was in my early 20's I suffered a mild hearing loss. It never affected my teaching and I was able to carry on a regular everyday life.  After having my son, my hearing loss progressed to the point where I knew I would not be able to be an effective classroom teacher any longer. My loss is a rare type where hearing aids provide very little assistance. According to my audiologist I rely on lip reading and body language for 80% of my hearing. This change to my life was devastating. I had spent so much time and money on my education (Bachelor's and Master's degrees) and I really enjoyed teaching. To have it no longer an option was hard to face.

I am a good bargain shopper and good at keeping to a budget (read cheap!) so we were able to get by on my husband's salary. When my son was nearing preschool age I started to realize that tuition would be a stretch on our monthly budget. Around that time eBay was all the rage and I started to think about what I could sell to help bring in some preschool tuition money. I had written quite a bit of my own curriculum materials while teaching due to the lack of resources at our inner city school. It seemed a burden at the time, but ended up being a blessing in disguise for me. I decided to put together a few of the novel studies that I created and see if there was a market on eBay for my materials. Turns out there was! I was able to make enough to pay the monthly preschool tuition and give us a little breathing room in our budget.

I was able to expand my sales outlets over the following years to eNotes and Amazon. I was able to make enough to save up for Lasik surgery (when I can see clearly I can hear better!) and even some family vacations. I was pretty proud of my little business. Then came TpT!

In 2010, I was reading the Disney forums on the disboards.com. A retiring teacher had asked where she could sell her classroom materials other than a garage sale. Someone in the thread mentioned TpT. I had never heard of it so I decided to check it out. The site looked intriguing so I listed a couple of my items to see what would happen. Immediately I received a few sales so I upgraded to the premium seller status on June 21, 2010. This move has changed my life!

TpT allowed me to take my little fun money business to a whole different level. In the past five years, in addition to funding family vacations, it has allowed me to create a college fund for my three kids and a retirement fund for myself. It has given my family financial stability with savings in the bank. I incorporated the business in 2013 and registered the trademark for my name and logo, as well as registered the copyright of my work. My hobby business has turned into a real company. And I was able to do this all from my home so I am here everyday for my kids and able to be flexible to join in for school functions or volunteer in their classrooms.

Of course the money is wonderful, but in addition, and more importantly than the money, the success that TpT has brought me has helped me regain my confidence. It has made me feel that I am still working within my trained profession as a true contributor. I may not be working face to face with students everyday due to my hearing loss, but my ideas and creations are. I am still touching students and making a difference. That means the world to me and I thank TpT everyday for providing this outlet to me and all the other wonderful teacherpreneurs out there!

So Happy Anniversary TpT, here's to many more wonderful years together! :)

Here's a great graphic from the TpT site to explain more about all they do for me and many, many other teachers out there! Click on the graphic to learn more about opening a store for yourself!

Happy National Therapy Animal Day!

Click the image to read more!

Preventing the Summer Slide

Summer is getting closer and closer. There are only 21 school days left here!  While we all long for the relaxed lazy days of summer we also need to worry about summer slide. Summer slide is a real concern for teachers and parents.  According a report from the National Summer Learning Association, in the article, "Keeping Kids Off the Summer Slide", by Reading is Fundamental 

"A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year.... It's common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills."  

 To combat the summer slide for my children I have been working on putting together a summer curriculum that they can spend an hour or so on each day and still get to enjoy all the fun that summer can bring. I am fortunate to have the curriculum that I have created to use with my own kids. I have also found many targeted resources to fill in the gaps, both paid and free, from the overabundance of offerings from some fantastic teachers at Teachers Pay Teachers. 

For my son, who is going into 5th grade next year, my plan is for him to complete some of my Novel Studies for reading, do daily timed tests from my multiplication and division units to keep fluent in his basic facts, and do some daily grammar/punctuation/spelling sentences from my Alien Text Talk unit. I have found some great writing prompt activities that incorporate science and social studies and math spiral activities from TpT to fill in the gaps and give him some practice to stay on board with math and writing.

For my daughter, who is going into 7th grade next year, my plan is about the same with the exception of the daily timed tests as she is fluent in her basic facts.

As a parent, creating a plan for your child is easy with a site like Teachers Pay Teachers at your disposal. You can find thousands of free and paid resources created by the people who know what works and really know what students need, TEACHERS!

Teachers who are looking for something to send home with their students over the summer can also find great resources at Teachers Pay Teachers that students can complete independently, or with just a little help from a parent or older sibling. 

A novel study is a great place to start to find a reading activity that can be completed fairly independently and is fun and interesting enough to keep the student engaged. I have 82 Novel Studies in my store, all for quality, high interest titles to keep the student engaged and entertained. Click on any of the titles below to learn more about what each unit has to offer.

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If you are looking for some resources to keep your students and/or your own kids fresh, take a look at TpT and you will have more resources that you could dream of to keep these kids learning and growing over the summer!

Of course, don't forget to sit back, relax, and enjoy your summer as well!

Happy Summer!

*Graphics provided by: Scrappin Doodles, mycutegraphics.com, and Elizabeth Villwock.

March Forth on March Fourth to Celebrate National Grammar Day!

Today, Tuesday, March 4, is National Grammar Day! It's the day to celebrate the proper use of language in both written and spoken form.

Hopefully you've never received this:

As a user of the Internet I am sure we've all experienced this at some point!

Proper grammar is so important, not just to communicate effectively, but it could be a matter of safety or happiness in your love life!

For this special day we can choose who we want to be.

To help in your grammarly endeavors here's a helpful website:

To celebrate in the classroom try my fun activity that asks students to convert a text message, in all its jumbled "text speak" glory to a statement using correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. In honor of National Grammar Day my Text to English Full year Daily Practice Activity will be available for 50% off!

Happy National Grammar Day! I hope you get through the entire day without hearing or seeing one of your pet peeve grammar mistakes! Don't lose hope if others have too loose of a view on proper grammar! ;)

Updated Novel Units Now Available!

I have been busy updating my existing novel units. Based on customer feedback I decided that the CCSS alignment checklists needed an overhaul to minimize paper usage. I have strived to make them more concise while maintaining readability. I think you will be pleased with the results.

I also revamped the End of Book Activity Packet that is included with each novel unit to add some color and make them more eye catching. I kept the black and white version as well so that you have the choice on how much printer ink you want to use! ;)

Finally, I added my newest product, Story Elements Interactive Notebook Activity Packet, to each novel unit. This packet can be used with any novel and I think you will find it to be a nice addition to your novel unit study!

I am finished updating 32 of my 82 units. The updated units are shown in the photo below. If you have previously purchased any of these units please return to your "My Purchases" in your TpT or Teachers Notebook account and re-download the updated versions at no additional cost. If you have purchased any of these units from Amazon or TpT on a CD please email me at the address on the first page of the file letting me know your user name and I will gladly email you a copy of the updated unit.

I am moving on down my "to do" list to get the remaining 50 units updated. Please "like" The Teaching Bank on Facebook where I will announce the newest updates as I get them completed.

Thank you everyone for your patronage and I hope that you are happy with the new changes and additions to the units!

Goals for 2015!

While surfing through Facebook I came across Erica Bohrer's Linky Party on her blog, Erica's Ed-Ventures, for 2015 goals. I'm not a huge New Year's Resolution person, mainly because I am a bit of a realist/perfectionist and know that I will break them! Hate to fail! :)  After reading Erica's post and the other linked posts, I decided this wouldn't be too overreaching for me so I decided to join in!

I am very fortunate that I am a cheapskate to some degree. It helps that I don't accrue unneeded debt and keeps me in line financially. My kids would not describe it as a favorable trait of mine, but that leads me to my biggest goal: help my children become more financially literate and smart. My oldest son, Joey, is 15 now and just got his driver's license. He's hoping for a car in his future. I am trying to instill the earning and saving habit in him so he can better handle the responsibility of keeping up on the costs of a car. He is at an age where he is going places socially with friends, out to eat, etc. He is quickly learning how expensive these things can be and how he needs to monitor his budget and decide on "wants" versus "needs". He has a teen checking account with a debit card and he's really done well with it. He doesn't do his chores quite at the rate that I would like, but he does learn that when he doesn't do them his bank account stays smaller! His big goal is to get a real job so he can earn "real" money versus the "peanuts" I pay in in allowance!

My middle child, Ally, is a middle-schooler and the "in" thing to do is shop and hit Starbucks. Again, not cheap entertainment. She recently got the teen checking account with a debit card also and is budgeting well.  She's more fortunate than her brother in that the neighbors are hiring her for babysitting and pet sitting so she's able to make "real" money a little easier at this age than a boy. Her wants are more expensive than her brothers though so she can burn through that money. She's a little more responsible in the fact that she will actively seek out extra chores for extra cash when needed. Nice for me!

My youngest son, Sam, is only in 4th grade and the thing we are working on most with him is not acting on impulse. He doesn't need every cool thing or sweet treat he sees! This is a tough lesson for him, but I am sure it will come as he matures.

My professional goals for 2015 are to expand The Teaching Bank. I am very interested in Interactive Notebooks and am working on some products along those lines. The key for me is there are so many wonderful products out there and I don't want to be a copycat. I want to utilize the methods in a unique way, so that's my big challenge.

I enjoyed attending the 2014 TpT Conference and hope to attend again this year. Hoping to learn even more that will help on the goal of expansion of my store.

I am not a huge believer in diets. First, they don't work that well for me, and second, the results generally aren't long term.  I really try and follow an 80/20 philosophy all the time where 80% I eat right and 20% I splurge. For the most part this works well for me as long as I can keep my thyroid counts within a good range. My thyroid works like a roller coaster though so that is always a challenge!

I am a pretty faithful walker when the weather cooperates. I have 2 golden retrievers and they are a huge motivator for me to get out there and walk. They stay healthier which means they will hopefully live longer and that keeps me going!

In my personal life my main goal would be to keep my kids on a happy, healthy path. I want to help them grow and develop into decent, kind adults that are open minded thinkers and are independent enough to take on the world! They are on that path, but as they hit the teen years it is becoming harder to control that path. As they go down this path as teens I hope I can weather the behaviors and attitudes that all teens have without too much drama!

Thank you to Erica at Erica's Ed-Ventures for the idea to write out these goals and the opportunity to link up. Do you have goals to share? Write them up and head over to Erica's Ed-Ventures and link up too!

Happy 2015 everyone and good luck with all that you hope and dream for the upcoming year!