Thursday, September 3, 2015

#TBT: Teachers Love Technology

Happy Throwback Thursday! Today's throwback is from March 25, 2013, and is all about using technology in the classroom! As with anything "tech-related" this post can seem a little dated - which is why I chose it!

How much have we changed in the techy classroom department? Check out the post and comment below to let me know your thoughts!


Happy Monday!

I hope your weekend and first day back at work went well today (unless of course you are on Spring Break, in which case, I hope your first day of break went well...but I'm sure it did!). I'm counting the days until our half day on Friday as it gives me something to look forward to! We were supposed to have Friday off, but since our school district has had so many snow days this season, the district decided to attend school this Friday, instead of our new projected last day on Monday June 24. Oh well... at least it's a half day?

Think back to your days in the classroom. Do you visualize computers, laptops, tablets, and/or interactive SmartBoards? Of course not! Not that long ago, the terms "school" and "classroom" conjured up images of chalk boards (maaaaaybe a white board if you were lucky), dusty textbooks, and hand-cranked wall pencil sharpeners. But now, the integration of technology is seamless and adequate for our ever-changing technological society. It is now easier than ever to incorporate all types of technology into the classroom, with increased options and feasibility. As you will find out below, tech-teaching is the way of the future, and you will understand, if you don't already, why teachers love it!

I was recently contacted by a woman named Allison, via email, to view an Infographic she helped create on technology and its role in teaching. I was immediately drawn to the sincere and personal email I received from Allison. She mentioned a specific blog post I had written regarding my future goals of incorporating technology in the classoom, and seemed genuinely interested in my feedback on the graphic. After close review of the Infographic, I would love to share it with you!

What do we Know Infographic

I was surprised by the statistic of the number of classrooms with Smartboards, or similar interactive whiteboards. I am unfortunately in the 4 of 10 without this resource in my room. That is my number one resource on my wish list for the upcoming school year - although it is really out of my hands. 60% seems so high to me, but that is great! I'm so glad to see that percentage!

I was also pleasantly surprised at the statistic of tablets in the classroom. Did I read that correctly - over 1/3 of teachers reported having a tablet or ereader in their classroom! Again, my classroom is lacking this :(

It was no surprise to me to read that many teachers find the integration of technology in the classroom to be beneficial to their teaching and students' learning. It really inspired me to push for more technological resources in my classroom, and to think more creatively to allow more access to the technology I do have in the classroom.

If you are interested in reading the full article accompanying this Infographic, you can find it here.

I would love to know your thoughts about how you incorporate technology in the classroom. Any advice for a newbie tech-teacher? Do think a lot has changed in the 2 years this was first published? Leave a comment below to let me know your thoughts!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Busy Bee's Guide: Fitting in Exercise

You are swamped at work. You've been eating a Cracker Jack's for lunch every day this week because you haven't had time to go grocery shopping. The kids are hungry/grumpy/cold/needy in some other way. You haven't peed in 17 hours. How the hell are you going to find time to work out?!

I get it. Life is hectic. Always. You know how important your health is, but how can you justify a 30 minute run when you haven't had time to cook anything other than TV dinners. I'm here to give you a few ways to fit exercise in to your busy life, no matter how busy you are! Some of the tips help you to find the motivation to commit, while other little tips to sprinkle in throughout the day to increase overall health. Pick and choose which tips work for you, or do them all!

  1. Schedule It! Seems simple enough, but if you pencil pen it into your day, you may be more likely to commit to it, like you would a doctor's appointment or important meeting. Even better, sign up for a class ahead of time, at a certain time, so that you are even MORE motivated to go (either because it seems that much more of an appointment, or because you already paid and don't want to lose your $20).
  2. Walk It Off. Depending on your job, you may be eating lunch at your desk. Why don't you take time during your lunch break to walk, or otherwise exercise. If you have a 60 minute lunch break, taking 30 minutes to jog around the neighborhood (or even your Office Park) will help you meet your goal for daily exercise. Jogging not your thing? Maybe you get too sweaty during cardio exercises and find it difficult to head back to the office after a sweat-sesh. It doesn't have to be anything strenuous - it can be a walk or some light yoga. Anything that gets your otherwise stationary body moving is great for your overall health.
  3. Healthy Commute. Drive to work? Park your car in a spot a little further than usual. May seem small, but every step counts (literally). Maybe you have the luxury of biking or even walking to work on days where it is nice out. Do that! Do you take the subway or bus to work? Get off a stop or two (or more) before your regular stop to get some extra walking in. In the same vein, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Incorporate any and all opportunities for an increase of movement - you'll be glad you did.
  4. Get Up, Stand Up. Stand up for your health. (see what I did there?)Wake up a little bit earlier each morning to incorporate some exercise. Start slow. Maybe you wake up only 15 minutes early in the beginning. Maybe you only are able to stand doing stretches at first. That's okay. You are building a habit that will increase your exercise overall, and your tolerance to that early morning light.
  5. Play Out! Instead of looking at exercise as a "work out" look at it as a "play out." Have fun with it and incorporate the kids! Head to the park and play tag. Go for a bike ride with the family. If you aren't self-conscious, while your kiddos climb the structure, you can be doing squats near the bench, wall push-ups along the fence, or crunches on the grass. You don't have to compromise exercise when you get the whole family involved.
  6. Turn It Up with HIIT. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, are exercises that keep your heart rate up with quick bursts of exercise, followed by short active recovery, that burns more calories and fat in less time. People who are strained on time like incorporating HIIT exercises because they can still get the benefits of exercise (weight loss, increased stamina, heart health, etc.) without spending hours at the gym. Click here for more on HIIT workouts.
  7. Be a Goal Setter. Set a goal that you can stick to. Be specific and realistic. Don't set an arbitrary goal like "lose weight" or "exercise more". Choose a measurable goal such as "Exercise for 30 minutes 3 times a week" or "Go to Spin class every Friday for a month." That way, you'll know exactly if you met your goal, when you met your goal. What will make this even more motivating? See #8.
  8. Take Data! As a former teacher and current behavior analyst, I love me some data. I love taking data on my client's progress with meeting their behavioral goals, but I also love to do this for my own personal goals. It doesn't have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as checking off days on a calendar to show which days you made it to the gym. It could be graphing your weight loss. Anything that is visual and keeps you objective and on track is so helpful in making meaningful changes. Don't forget the rewards for reaching your goals! (Just maybe not like, German Chocolate Cake...)
  9. Make a Date! One of the most helpful things for me when I'm trying to get back into an exercise routine is to make an exercise date with someone. If someone is counting on me to meet them at Zumba, you best believe I'll be there. How embarrassing will it be if I bail?! Recently, a friend and I have been texting each other in the mornings before work to motivate the other to get up early and exercise. Having a partner to help support you is unlike any other motivator for me.
  10. Do What You Love. This is the biggest tip I can give you. If you hate doing the elliptical, you probably aren't going to do it, especially if you are just starting to exercise now. To get yourself into the routine of exercising regularly, do something you can't wait to do. My favorite activity? Soccer! I am lucky to have multiple leagues in my area to join, and am currently on 3 different teams. That's three different games a week. Three days with exercise already added to it. I NEVER want to skip soccer (which can be a blessing and a curse - especially if I'm injured) so it's so easy for me to get my active minutes in when that's on the horizon. Find something you love. Maybe a class at the gym, a team sport in your area, or even yoga at home. Check your local YMCAs or fitness centers for gym classes, workshops or sport's leagues. Once you find an activity that keeps you move that you love, you'll never choose the couch again.

I hope these tips were helpful! Do you have any more tips to add to help out fellow Busy Bees? Leave your best tips below!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Nuts About Snacks! My 3 Fave Post-Workout Eats

So you've just had a killer workout. What do you reach for when you get home? A candy bar? A bottle of water? The remote? I'm here today to give you some ideas for some great post-workout snacks to help keep your health in check.

It may seem counterintuitive; after all, you just worked out to get rid of calories! Why would you want to put more in your body? Well, because, science.

According to researchers and nutritionists, it's important to eat after a workout in order to help repair muscle tissues and restore glycogen, or energy levels (source). The calories you eat post-workout are used to restore energy and protein that were lost during your workout. In fact, the longer you wait to eat post-workout, the more your energy stores deplete. Waiting even 2 hours post-workout to refuel results in a 50% decrease in your body's ability to refill muscle energy stores, compared to grabbing a snack immediately (source)

My day is usually pretty jam-packed as it is, so I don't have time to make myself an icy-cold recovery shake, or flip myself a high-protein omelet. My go-to snacks are ones I can pack away in the morning and grab when I need them. I don't need to worry about refrigeration or prep of any kind; just grab and go! Without further ado, here are my 3 favorite post-workout snacks for the athlete on-the-go:

  1. Nuts! This quick, low-maintenance snack is an excellent source of protein. Almonds, for example, provide you with 7 grams of protein per 1 ounce serving! I use these little dressing containers to portion out my nuts at the beginning of the week, then I just grab one for the road! My favorite nuts are almonds, cashews, and walnuts.
  2. Banana and almond butter. Bananas sometimes get a bad rap, but don't be fooled by the high levels of fructose and carbs: that just means it can be converted into energy more quickly! Even more, when served with a tablespoon of almond butter, you are adding protein and some healthy fats. Plus, the potassium in bananas are crucial for muscle recovery!
  3. Jerky.  I love me some jerky. LOVE. And now, I can have it, guilt-free! Having a 1 ounce service of jerky, particularly my favorite turkey jerky, provides enough calcium to help refuel the proteins for muscle recovery. Additionally, the amino acids in the protein are essential for post-workout muscles tissue rebuilding. For more information on the benefits of jerky, check out this video!

Some Snacking Tips:

  • Always pair these snacks with at least 8oz of water, but chances are you'll crave more. Hydration is KEY to recovery.
  • Don't go bonkers with the protein. While protein is beneficial post-workout, you really only need 10-20 grams of protein to help refuel your muscles.
  • Be mindful of the serving size. For example, if you have a bag of jerky for your post-workout snack, read the label to determine how much of that is actually one serving. Chances are, there are multiple servings in that bag. High-protein snacks don't equal low-calorie too. You want to refuel your body, but not derail your progress.
  • Take into account the time between your workout snack, and your next meal. I often workout between lunch and dinner, so my workout snack may be more substantial than say, a workout that ends 90 minutes before dinnertime. You may find recipes for smoothies that call for everything but the kitchen sink, and while it has mucho grams of protein, it also has mucho calories - more than you need to tie you over for dinner. Be mindful about your caloric intake and you'll continue smoothly on your journey to health!
  • If you are interested in how much of which nutrients your body needs to replenish after a workout,checkout this post on Spark People.
  • For more tremendous healthy snack ideas, head to Nuts.Com. Their Healthy Snacks page is broken down into different categories of healthy snacks (like Vegan Snacks, or Healthy Snacks for Kids) to help refine your search. The page also includes information on other health and nutrition related topics.

What are your favorite post-work out snacks? I'm always looking to add to my arsenal!

This post was inspired by Nuts.Com and I did not receive any compensation for this post. All opinions are my own (in fact, I drafted this with my fave snacks BEFORE I even saw that offered these in their store! Go fig). Enjoy!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

TBT: Beauty DIY

Hi All,

I wanted to spice things up a little bit for this week's Throwback Thursday's post. This week has been about B2S so I thought I'd remind you of an easy Lush Hack. Check out the original post from September 30, 2014:

Have you all heard of Lush? It's a handmade cosmetics chain that make their products with organic and fresh fruits and vegetables, high quality essential oils, and safe synthetics. They use very little to no preservatives and packaging and always telling you exactly what is in each product and where it was made (and who made it!). All of their products are cruelty free and most are vegan. I am a big fan and my all-time favorite product is their Big shampoo. Now, I have lots and lots of thick hair, however it is very fine and oily. So even though this miraculous product is a "volumizing" shampoo, it works wonders on my hair. It makes it feel light, bouncy and smells ah-mazing!

I've used this product for years and have always followed it up with a generic conditioner (as I mentioned, dryness is not my problem). However, on a recent visit to my local Lush location, I noticed they had a Big conditioner! (Apparently it has been around for a while, but I usually just purchase my shampoo on their website, so I hadn't seen it) Their conditioner came as a solid, which I honestly, wasn't sure about. I had tried a solid shampoo in the past and I never felt that I was getting enough product for my hair. I also hated the way it melted in the shower and stuck to the metal tin I bought. You are supposed to keep those things out of the shower in between uses to dry, but who remembers to grab their shampoo from the linen closet each day for a shower?

Anyway, I decided to try this conditioner, as it was a different texture (smoother and more "gelatinous" I guess) and, I mean, it's Big. I placed it on my shower caddy, unwrapped and ready to go. While I enjoyed the texture of the bar, it melted ALL.OVER.THE.PLACE. It dripped down the caddy grates all over my other products. I was wasting my new conditioner chunks at a time! Plus, I found it difficult (though not as much as my prior experience with solid hair products) to use enough product. I love the idea of the limited packaging, but it was too difficult for me to use regularly.

Then, I had an idea.


If you want to know how, check out the steps below (in pictures):

Boil some water. Not precise I know, but you will be adding the water to the conditioner, so there aren't exact measurements. How much water you need depends how much product you have, so err on the side of boiling more than you think you need.

Chop up your solid conditioner bar (see how floppy it is!)

Throw the pieces in a new pot or bowl (that can withstand boiling temperatures!).

Start pouring your boiling water and mixing. Don't dump it all in, just a little at a time while it starts to liquefy.

Mix and stir until smooth.

Once it's smooth, add to a container. Be careful because it's hot! I used an old Big shampoo pot.

This looks lumpy like tapioca pudding but it's not. The contents separate in the heating process, which results in this look. 

I labeled my new product using Washi tape reinforced with clear packing tape. This step is really only necessary if your pots look identical, but it's always fun to use fun printed tape :)


Are you a Lush fan? What is your favorite product?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Behavior Chart: Tips & Tricks

Greetings Friends!

Back to School is right around the corner for many (or has come and gone for others). As you settle back into your classroom routine, I wanted to write a post, prompted by a few questions from readers, for how I used my behavior clip chart in my classroom in the past. Read on for some suggestions on types of consequences, timeline for rewards and types of class-wide rewards!

How Do You Choose the Consequences?

Because the chart is used to identify and help change behaviors of varying degrees, your consequences should match. If a student calls out one time during a class (and conceivably doesn't "misbehave" again that period or day), you wouldn't immediately move their clip to Red and call mom to report this infraction. Likewise, you probably wouldn't reward a student with a one-on-one pizza party of the student did raise their hand (though you might!). You need to think about if the "punishment fits the crime" and if the "reward fits the success."

You may want to incorporate some of the worksheets I have provided in the Behavior Management Starter Kit for use with you consequences. For example, if a student had a particularly difficult day, but doesn't warrent a phone call home (I like to save phone calls home for MAJOR incidences, such as a school fight) you may require the students to fill out the My Behavior Reflections worksheet or the Behavior Think Sheet.

Also included in the Starter Kit are rewards, sticker charts, and positive notes home. I often used these to reinforce certain behaviors ("focus on yourself" was a big one in my class!) that didn't require any money and very little time. It was also very exciting for many of my students who felt proud bringing home a note from home.

You can also include things like class sticker charts or individual sticker charts. These would be for long term goals you want your kiddos to work on. The purpose of the sticker charts are to provide immediate reinforcement using secondary reinforcers (in this case, stickers) to build up to earning a larger, more substantial reinforcer. (read the section on classroom goals and rewards for more info)

Overall, I try to stick with the motto "make the punishment fit the crime" especially when it comes to consequences for negative behavior. While my school had a policy about missing recess (we were allowed to use that as a consequence), it oftentimes was not effective, and in fact usually detrimental. Take, for example, the student who cannot stay in her seat, no matter how many warnings. Do you think taking away recess, the only time she can actually let all this built up energy out, is a good, effective strategy? Likely not. Thankfully, as teachers, we are creative, passionate, and smarty-pants. You can think of applicable and effective consequences that will fit with any behavioral infraction you run into.

Is your behavior chart just for individuals?

While the chart itself may be centered around individual behavior, I make sure to incorporate classroom behavior goals as well. Students need to learn how to work together as a team and to build each other up. This is a real world skill! While it's important not to have a reward riding on one member of the group, allowing the group as a whole to earn a larger reward for each other is a great way to build a community and cooperation among your littles.

How do you choose the classroom goals and rewards?

The way we determine our goal is to discuss this together as a class. It will be much more effective if the students are involved in choosing their own goal to work on rather than me. I offer suggestions and reasons why I think one type of goal will be better than another (such as, oh I don't know...raising your hand vs. giving more hugs to your classmates) and we choose together as a group. You as the teacher decide how long you think your students should work toward earning this prize. I usually had a "Goal of the Month" and while our BIG reward was earned at the end of the month (provided we made it, which we always did), I would have little mile markers for smaller rewards.

Do I have to use EVERYTHING in the Starter Kit?

Absolutely not! I didn't even! I made sure to add lots of different resources for you to pick and choose what works best for you. You may even have your own rewards system that you use separately from your clip chart, and that's okay! The point of this type of resource is to provide you with supports and strategies you need to run a successful classroom.

And while we're on the subject, check out this post on Behavior Charts: Why We Need Them and How to Use Them.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Staying Refreshed for B2S!

Morning friends,

This week, I've linked up with Mrs. D's Corner (again!) to bring you more tips for Back to School. This week (the last week) is all about how to stay refreshed and energized during this hectic time! Keep reading for my top 5 tips for staying refreshed during Back to School!

Top 5 Tips on How to Stay Refreshed for B2S

Sweat it out!
One of the best ways to maintain your energy and sanity is to get your sweat on! Not only is sweating  a natural detox to help revitalize you, but exercise release endorphins to help you remain happy, healthy, and calm. And do I really need to outline all the health benefits of exercise (like increased heart health, lower BMI, lower cholesterol, etc. etc. etc.)

My favorite ways to incorporate exercise is to make it part of my routine. If you want to look and feel your best, you need to prioritize your health, both physical and mental health! It took A LOT for me to force (yes, force) myself to the gym after a long day at work. I was running around all day, saving the world one student at a time, and felt that spending time at the gym was a luxury I couldn't afford to take. I had other things to do, like MORE world saving! However, over time, I felt more and more sluggish, my skin felt oily and sallow, and my work production was suffering (think, taking 3 times as long to plan one math lesson!). I realized that this was a direct result of putting my health on the back burner. Once I started making my health a priority, my attitude, energy levels, and stamina increased! More on this below

If you are interested in ways to fit in exercise, check back for a related post next week :)

Gulp It Down! 
Water that is. You are running around all day, you barely have time to use the bathroom! Why would you want to increase the chances you'll have to go by drinking more water?! I get it. I really do. However, your body loves you and needs you. You wouldn't compromise a students' health in favor of convenience would you? Of course not! So why do you do it to yourself? Do yourself and your health a favor, and pick up the damn water bottle.

If you are interested in tricks to increase your water consumption, check back for a related post next week!

 Eat It Good!

You know this. I know you know this. But even if it's hard to do this all the time, do it as much as you can. It's 3pm and the Teacher's Lounge vending machine is calling you. Don't beat yourself up over this, but don't submit that you're a lost cause either and allow the rest of the day to be crap. Love yourself and provide yourself with good, health foods. Nutrious, whole foods will not only make you feel better emotionally (who doesn't feel good when they bite into an apple?), but when paired with an overall healthy lifestyle (so, follow the tips above too!), your energy levels will soar, your anxiety and depressive symptoms will decrease, and your satisfaction and patience (we ALL need more of that) will shoot through the roof.
 Breath, Stretch, Shake (Let It Go)!

And while you are at it, listen to that song if you need a little pick me up.

Deep breathing, streatching sequences, and yoga have all shown to increase energy levels and decrease anxiety and depression. This doesn't have to be some elaborate formal practice. Simple morning stretches before you get out of bed help to revitalize you and get you ready for the day ahead. Likewise, simple stretches and breathing exercises can help you when you're feeling stressed, or even just tired and need a little more energy. Check out my Pinterest Board of the same name, to incorporate different stretches into your day.

No Shame in ME Time!
Even if you listen to NOTHING I've said thus far, take this one to heart. As a badass, super hero teacher like yourself, you NEED to take sometime to just be you. Even Clark Kent needs some Me Time every once in a while. Whether it's knitting on the couch in silence, reading a book on your porch, or rocking out to some awesome tunes, you gotta do you (I hate that phrase, but for real though...). There's no shame in self-love!

Hope these tips are helpful as you start off the new year! Good luck and go save the world!

Make sure to check out Mrs. D's Corner to give her a shoutout for setting up this terrific month-long link-up!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

One More Day! (TPT Sale)

Hey all!

Just a quick post to remind you that there is a BONUS day to save on your favorite TPT sellers' products! Head over the my store now to save 28% on ALL of my products (even my bundles!). Make sure to use the code MORE15 to ensure you get the most savings! And HURRY - it ends tonight!

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