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 2015!

Today, May 18, 2015, is the first annual National Therapy Animal Day.  Therapy animals are used more and more often as we discover how much value they can add to healing and learning for people of all ages. Check here to read current news stories that exhibit the miracles that these animals can bring to us.

I am a huge animal lover and am/have been owned by several pets. Around my son's 3rd birthday we were concerned about his speech development. He wasn't much of a talker, but he was expert at getting his needs met using other methods. He reminded me of the rabbit in the Frosty the Snowman special. He didn't see a need to talk!  Around that same time we got a new golden retriever puppy, Katy. Katy saw Sam as another puppy playmate and as she was growing she could get a little rambunctious with Sam and sometimes knock him over.

Of course we worked with training Katy, she's now a proud graduate of the Canine Good Citizenship program, but part of it was also teaching Sam to use the commands of sit, off, and down in a strong voice. Sam very quickly learned that talking and using his voice served a great purpose and he started using it more and more, not just with Katy, but with all of us. There were many a morning I would wake up to find Sam laying next to Katy's crate chattering away telling her all about his adventures, hopes and dreams. It was such a touching sight to see.

Katy is an extremely tolerant dog and she loves anyone and everyone! She would make an ideal therapy dog and in fact we went through some training to lead to it. Unfortunately the program we were working with ended their classes and Katy ended up having a series of knee surgeries to correct joint issues in both of her knees so her career as a therapy dog has never been realized. She spends hours at home providing us constant unconditional love and "therapy" though. One of the things she loves more than anything is to lay with us and be read to! She's sat through the entire Harry Potter series a couple years ago with my older kids and is now working her way through it again with Sam.

I've seen the value that the love and attention of a pet can bring to the mental well-being of the people around them. They really can be miracle workers! I would love to see the use of reading dogs in schools increase!

As part of my Wonder Novel Study, I created a reading informational activity about therapy dogs. I offer it outside of the novel study as a free download in my store. It is a wonderful activity to explore the use and benefits of therapy animals. Click on the picture to go to the FREE download.

In honor of Katy, and all the wonderful therapy animals out there, Happy National Therapy Animal Day!

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! ;)

Happy 148th Birthday Nebraska!

Today, March 1st, is Statehood Day in the state of Nebraska. We are celebrating 148 years since officially becoming the 37th state on March 1, 1867! In honor of Statehood Day I am offering my Complete Nebraska State Study Interactive Notebook Unit for over 50% off!

Happy 148th Birthday Nebraska!

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!

Complete Nebraska State Study Interactive Notebook Unit

I am really excited to share my newest product, Complete Nebraska State Study Interactive Notebook Unit! I've been working on it for almost 3 months and I am really proud of how it has turned out!

I moved to Omaha, NE, for my first teaching job back in 1995. My assignment was 4th grade. The biggest part of the Social Studies curriculum for 4th grade is to teach Nebraska History.  I had just moved to Nebraska, living here for only 2 months. Omaha was the only part of Nebraska I had ever been in! If you are familiar with a Nebraska map you will see that Omaha is on the extreme east side of the state, you don't even need to drive through other areas of Nebraska to arrive in Omaha. You head over the Missouri River (Iowa border) on I-80 or I-29 and go directly into Omaha. So needless to say I did not have one bit of background knowledge of the state of Nebraska or its history!

In addition to a lack of personal experience the district gave me ZERO resources to use to teach this curriculum, no textbooks, no informational books, no teachers manuals, nothing, zero, zip! So to say I really was not qualified or prepared to teach this required Social Studies curriculum is an understatement!

I made it through that first year, how I'm not quite sure! I learned about Nebraska right along with my students. Second year I was able to start to refine resources that I created and by the third year it was looking even better. The silver lining of the experience is that by being given nothing I was able refine my creating skills and have been able to utilize those skills with my The Teaching Bank adventures!

Over the past couple years a hot topic in educational resources has been the use of Interactive Notebooks. I have watched other sellers create some fantastic resources on TpT and have had a great deal of success doing so. I love the idea of the Interactive Notebook and have been wanting to create something of my own. I had no interest in copying what other sellers were doing and wanted my work to be original.

Earlier this spring my 4th grade son's teacher contacted me asking if I had any resources to help with her Nebraska Unit. I enjoy sharing my resources with my childrens' teachers, but sadly I had nothing to share in this case as I had never formally created anything for Social Studies to offer. Her email sparked an idea. Why not create the Interactive Notebook product that I've wanted to make using the Nebraska State Study curriculum as my subject! It's original and it is definitely needed! I would have been in heaven to have something like this available my first year teaching! So with that my Complete Nebraska State Study Interactive Notebook Unit, was born!

I do understand that this product doesn't have the widest audience, mainly Nebraska teachers! I created it with 11 distinct sections so that can be used in isolation or all together so that teachers can pick and choose to fit their needs. This also gave me the opportunity to offer the Lewis & Clark section and The Oregon Trail section as separate, stand-alone items to market to the wider US audience. You don't have to be a Nebraska teacher to use either of those!

The unit/INB is broken into the following sections:

Section 1 covers Nebraska's location within the United States, surrounding states, populous cities, regions, waterways/aquifer, and weather.

Section 2 covers Nebraska's flag, seal, state symbols (bird, tree, etc), federal government representatives, state representatives, introduction to the Unicameral Legislature, and the steps of how a Bill becomes a law.

Section 3 covers Nebraska's notable people, places of interest, and fun
facts about the state.

Section 4 covers Nebraska during the Prehistoric times. Activities include: vocabulary, Ashfall Fossil Beds, animals in Nebraska during the Ice Age, and first humans in Nebraska.

Section 5 covers the tribes of Nebraska, study of an Earthlodge, Earthlodge vs. Tipi comparison, and investigate the many uses of the bison.

Section 6 covers the location and exploration of the Louisiana Purchase, map the journey of Lewis & Clark, investigate supplies needed for the journey, timeline of the journey, journal the journey, and impact of the exploration.
*This section is not Nebraska specific and can be used nationwide!


Section 7 covers the first pioneer settlers, mapping the Oregon Trail, investigate reasons for traveling the Oregon Trail, research supplies needed for the journey, hardships endured, journal the journey, and the Mormon Trail.
*This section is not Nebraska specific and can be used nationwide!

Section 8 covers Nebraska's road to statehood, including activities for the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Homestead Act, housing on the prairie, life of a pioneer child, impact of the railroad to NE, and NE becomes a state.

Section 9 covers how the issues (suffrage, prohibition, race relations, Native Americans, child labor, worker's rights, election reforms, political reforms, and anti-monopoly reforms) during this time period affected the people of Nebraska.

Section 10 includes 2 informational articles along with activities touching on Nebraska's role in World War II, the Cold War and the role of SAC and STRATCOM.

Section 11 includes activities dealing with Nebraska's major industries: crops, livestock, and other important NE industries.

All of these sections are available on their own so you can tailor it to your own classroom needs. You can also buy the entire unit together as one bundle at a reduced cost. 

This can save you money and it includes everything you need to teach your entire state study for Nebraska. The alignment to the Nebraska 4th Grade Social Studies State Standards is included with every section to make planning even easier!

I hope this product can be the lifesaver for you that it would have been for me back in that first year of teaching! This covers everything that you need for the Nebraska study in the format of an Interactive Notebook. Your students will be motivated, involved, and at the end have their very own Nebraska State Guide!