Archive for November, 2010

Brain Binders: Puzzle #2005

Puzzle #2005

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Finished Puzzle
        Front | Back

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Brain Binders: Puzzle #2004

Puzzle #2004

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Finished Puzzle
        Front | Back

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Brain Binders: Puzzle #2003

Puzzle #2003

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Finished Puzzle
        Front | Back

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Brain Binders: Puzzle #2002

Puzzle #2002

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Finished Puzzle
        Front | Back

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Brain Binders: Puzzle #2001

Puzzle #2001

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Finished Puzzle
        Front  |  Back

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What Are Brain Binders?

What are Brain Binders? Each page linked below contains one puzzle with a finished picture. The goal is to fold the puzzle into a shape with a solid color on each side. Simply print, cut out, and fold to match the finished picture…it sounds easy until you try it! Brain Binders – All you need is a sheet of paper and a brain.

2 folds
3 folds
4 folds
5 folds

They’re baaaaaaack! Tips for getting the year off to a great start

Success in dealing with those first days of school depends on planning and organizing now, and a number of Teachnet readers have shared ideas for doing so. We’ll visit this topic regularly; here are some of their thoughts…

Supply Lists:
We’ll skip the usual items such as paper clips, rubber bands and pencils, and move right into emergencies. Safety pins, extra clothing and needle and thread are some of the things to have handy just for your own use, if not your students’. Do you have an apron or large “work” shirt to protect your clothes? Even an extra pair of old, cheap comfortable shoes will work if you break a strap or lose a heel. Most schools now have a plan in place for medical emergencies, supplying a bag of cleaning, disinfecting and wound-covering supplies for your use or for handing to your minor-injury-prone student (depending on the age). This kit should also include the obvious such as bandages and rubber gloves for wound-handling and the not-so-obvious such as magnifying glass, tweezers and mini flashlight. Mandatory for many classrooms now are baggies with emergency medical items to carry out to the playground or to field trips. Know your school’s protocol for dealing with medical situations and for sending students to the office or the school nurse.

Even if your school doesn’t allow you to THINK about hammering a nail in the wall, a tool kit is as indispensable as one for the home. Tools need to still be safe and usable, of course, but save money by rounding up some older, less-used items from home or from your friends and family. Hammer, pliers, phillips and slot head screwdrivers (including micro ones for eye glasses), nails, a small assortment of screws, small can of oil or WD-40, work gloves, handful of clothespins, a few rags; you get the idea. This isn’t Tool Time, just a back-up supply of essentials.

For office supplies, here’s a tip; think medical. Drug companies spend tons of money on junk to give to doctors and their staffs, so if you know someone who works for one, they probably can load you up with sticky notes of all sizes, pens, pencils, clips, note pads, thermometers, clocks and rulers. Also, round up large paper clips or (our favorite) wooden clothespins for clipping stacks of papers together. Stationery should include thank you notes and envelopes for field trip or visiting speaker follow-ups. Back up the required ball of string with fishing line for hanging objects “invisibly”.

Some other items our readers have suggested keeping around include hot glue gun for attaching objects to the wall (but talk to your maintenance dept. first), standard size flashlight (got batteries?), your own personal cup or mug, cheap camera and film, backup car keys, spare bulb for your overhead projector, length of sticky-back velcro, old towels from home, and a sheet of plastic or old shower curtain for use as a drop cloth or umbrella or, hmmm, a bulletin board covering? Which brings us to:

Bulletin Board Ideas:
We received email from several teachers who thought they’d get their room decorated, organized and ready-to-go in a couple of days, only to spend more than that just doing the bulletin boards. There may be nothing more intimidating than that blank “canvas” (how many times do we hear “I can’t draw a straight line?”). Well, here are some ideas:

Use fabric for a fairly permanent covering which won’t show thumbtack holes. One reader even saw on TV this “on-the-wall” idea: soak the fabric in liquid starch, wring it out, and smooth it out on the wall and hold it in place with thumbtacks until it dries. To remove it, just lift a corner and pull off. We haven’t tried it, but the show claimed it works on bulletin boards. Other bulletin board covers could be wrapping paper, plastic table cloths, paint, wallpaper, flat bedsheets, aluminum foil and yes, the shower curtain. Decorating ideas abound; some suggestions were creating a windowpane, or a doodle board your students can add to as they like (just white paper and a bucket of markers). Still stumped? When in DesignerLand, do as the designers…just steal your ideas. Our staff designer assures us that all those “best of” graphic design books of winning contest entries aren’t being snatched up by other designers for nothing. For a breath of fresh air, skip the bulletin board “idea books” and look to MTV or print advertising (try a Rolling Stone or Wired magazine for a real jolt). Our favorite is still the Communication Arts Advertising Annual (it should be available at least at your public library), which shows examples of the best in print, TV, radio and the best metaphor…billboards.

Finally, our decor page has tips for getting that great killer headline from your head to cut-out letters for your bulletin board.

Display Work:
Related to bulletin boards is the issue of how to display student work. You can always use work to fill up the bulletin board you don’t know what to do with, or tape it to the wall. But try going off-the-wall using fishing line to hang things “invisibly” (in some cities, fire code does not allow use of more flammable material such as yarn). Foldable clothes drying racks, skirt hangers and old umbrellas can also be used for displays. Anything that folds out which papers or 3-D art can be clipped or taped to will work. Attaching small steel cable to two well-anchored screws in adjacent walls also makes a no-sag way of hanging those items.

Classroom Display Alphabet

This alphabet is as simple as download, print and decorate. Download to your computer and open in Adobe Acrobat, then print. This display uses 26 different fonts to give you a visually interesting display, and brings creativity to the letter recognition process. All letters are outline-only, making this a perfect first day activity to color the letters and put them up.

Click here to download the alphabet

Print Your Own Keyboard for Typing Practice

Printable keyboard for typing practice

Click here to download your own keyboard. Prints out on a 8-1/2″ X 14″ sheet of paper. Practice, practice, practice! To find out more read our article here.

Way To Glow! Free Printable Light Bulb Reward graphic

Click here to download the free “Way To Glow!” light bulb rewards images. Print, trim and hand out as you see fit.

Printable Oversized Playing Cards – Download the free PDF

These oversized playing cards are great for all kinds of math activities. Simply download the Acrobat PDF file, print and trim.

Click here to download: MAC | PC | 26 pages, 1.2 mb Adobe Acrobat PDF file

Excel Lesson Plan Template

This lesson plan template for Microsoft Excel is a contribution from Debra Miller.

Debra says, “I left some values filled in just so people could get an idea of what goes where. They can delete all of my times, etc. In addition, the column width can be adjusted also. This fits on one page, but I have enlarged it over two pages for a friend to have more room to write. They just need to save this to Excel, then bring it back up and rename it each week.( ex: l/p 2-7-03) (Excel will not let you use a slash mark to save an item.) In Georgia, I am required to put in the state standard number for the lesson and just a brief summary of what I intend to teach. It all fits if you adjust the size of the font for the box if the type is too long. ”

Click here to download Debra’s lesson plan template.

Selling Yourself: Creating the Ultimate Teaching/Interview Portfolio

Whether you are a 20-year veteran or just starting out, a portfolio should be a key component of your teaching tools. Portfolios are a nearly universal requirement for the hiring process, but if you already have a secure job you should view a portfolio as your insurance against unforseen district shake-ups. Keeping one of these self-promotion tools up-to-date also can be a good exercise in self-evaluation.

Think of a teaching portfolio as an expanded resume. A few personnel administrators will welcome a variety of formats, such as a box of notes, clippings, photos and objects. However the majority look for a standard 3-ring binder. Inside they will expect to find things that show a teacher’s strengths, goals and achievements. This variety of items could include a resume, references, letters of recommendations, transcripts, education philosophy, classroom management theory, examples of lessons and photos of your classroom in action. It’s not a scrapbook, but a representation of your teaching abilities.

* Buy The Book: An obvious first step is to purchase a three-ring binder now to keep on a shelf in your room. The visual reminder might be enough to encourage you to save information for it.
* Be A Smart Curator: Figure out how you are going to save information and move it into your portfolio. One way would be to keep a large enough box in your room to archive things from your classroom for up to a year at a time. At least once per year, sort through your archive box and move items over to a portfolio box or file. Some items might be obvious enough to go straight into the portfolio file, such as printed results of special committee work you participated in.
* Divide And Conquer: Use tabbed dividers to organize and separate the contents of your portfolio. Identically named folders can be kept in your portfolio box or file cabinet as holding places for information. Suggestions for sections: resume and certification information; classroom planning, instruction and evaluation; personal goals and professional preparation; committee work; outside educational activities.
* Put It On The Calendar: Pencil in days on your calendar to review your portfolio and sort through your archive box.

Elements of a Good Portfolio

Use this list as a starting point for ideas for information and items to include in your portfolio:

* Table of contents
* Resume, including continuing education, special committee work and awards and special recognition
* References
* Letters of recommendation
* Transcripts
* Educational philosophy
* Classroom management theory
* Personal goals
* Sample worksheets, games and tests
* Examples of lessons – units or projects
* Photos of your classroom in action to illustrate your lesson examples
* Examples of students’ work
* Final results of projects or committees you have been a part of
* Optional: short video showing you in action in front of the classroom and one-on-one with students
* Optional: screen shots and addresses of school or classroom websites you have created
* Optional: computer disks and print-outs of programs you have written or modified


* Keep It Simple: Don’t overload your portfolio with page after page of lengthy text or repetitive photos. Imagine viewing a friend’s home video…would you rather see two hours of jerky graduation footage or five minutes of highlights?

* Keep It Manageable: Three-ring binders are the preferred choice for portfolios.

* Be Timely: Review your portfolio at least twice a year. During winter and summer vacations you can use some of the breathing room to pause and reflect not only on your portfolio, but your teaching in general. Also pencil in changes to your resume at this time so that when needed, an updated version can be retype without having to round up the latest information.

* Say Cheese: Keep a cheap camera with fast film, flash and batteries at your desk to use on a moment’s notice. Using a camera regularly will get your students used to being photographed in the classroom.

* Make Copies: Where possible, use copies of originals in your portfolio, keeping the originals in a safe place. To add a professional touch to photos, tape them to a sheet next to captions printed from a computer. Run a color copy of the whole finished sheet to use in the portfolio, and take the originals back off the taped-up master.

* Make It Clear: Create a custom cover for your portfolio with a three-ring binder with a clear insert on the cover. Use clear plastic page holders inside to keep your pages clean and neat.

* Keep It Legible: Use a computer to type and print out easy-to-read information sheets or a table of contents. Use 12 point type where possible for easy readability.

Face-to-Face: Going for the job interview

Face-to-Face: getting interviewed

Spending all those years in college to become a teacher still all boils down to one thing – you have to get through a job interview to get hired. Whether you are looking for your first job, or the change in employment comes is the result of a move or career politics, your future is in someone else’s hands.

Teachnet readers have shared their experiences and opinions on the following pages. We’ll focus primarily on the interview process as it relates to the education field.

Preparing for the Interview
Know Yourself – How long has it been since you reflected on who you are? Make a list of your skills and personal interests. What are your philosophies on education and its subcategories, like discipline, behavior and performance in the classroom? And, above all, ask yourself why you like children and want to teach them. Write your list as if you were sharing it with a stranger who doesn’t know you; soon enough you’ll be faced with that very scenario.

Experience – Be prepared to elaborate at the interview about your coursework and work experience, both paid and volunteer.

Get Your Portfolio in Order – If you haven’t done so lately, familiarize yourself with your portfolio, making sure it is up-to-date. For more information on portfolios, see the Teachnet article Selling Yourself: Creating the Ultimate Teaching/Interview Portfolio.

Do Your Homework – Check out the district in any way you can. This would include web research for the district’s website if they have one, and asking questions on education mailing lists or newsgroups. Also, with the current bashing education gets from the general public, you can count on regular articles in the local newspaper. If you are focusing on one district in particular, you should be up-to-date on what the local media is saying about the school district.

Prepare Your List of Questions – Intelligent, confident job candidates will have their own list of questions for their interviewers.

The Interview
Above all, be yourself. Answer questions honestly, with the eagerness and enthusiasm you should have naturally. If you have to fake a love for children, you are in the wrong profession. Answer questions with examples from your portfolio which you should be able to go straight to without digging. Ask your own questions about the job and its benefits, and about the district in general.

The Followup
The interview may be over, but your work isn’t. Send a business-like letter to your interviewer(s) thanking them for the opportunity to meet with them. Then keep in touch with a phone call to the personnel office every week.

Tips to Remember

  • Plan well ahead. Get your portfolio in order, and research the school district.
  • Run through a mock interview.
  • Arrive at the interview early.
  • Be yourself during the interview.
  • Show confidence and enthusiasm.
  • Ask questions.
  • Refer to your portfolio when answering questions.

Fundraising Basics

For all too many teachers, going back to school means another year of fundraising. While district budgets finance some supplies and equipment, there are often needs that go beyond these small budgets. Whether you need new computer hardware and software, supplies for a new craft corner, or are planning a major field trip, you’re going to need cash to get there. When parents just can’t dig any deeper into their pockets, fundraising may be the only option.

Step 1: Contact your administration
Taxes may apply and your office should have the details. Plus, you don’t want to start down a path only to be shut down over political reasons (like a competition with the PTA.)

Step 2: Put someone in charge
You will need an energetic contact person who can do good PR with students, parents, and faculty and be responsible for collecting money or order forms. They will organize the effort to get the word out about the fundraiser. (See “Your Job as a Contact Person” at right.)

Step 3: Set a goal
If you’re working toward a specific purchase or event, determine the amount of money you need to accomplish the task. Include every expense you may encounter in your final total. For instance, make sure to include the purchase of extra cables if you’re buying a computer, and don’t forget to figure in taxes.

Step 4: List your options
While having a car wash might be an option for bringing in the cash, it’s probably not all that feasible if your first graders are the ones doing the washing. Make a list of every possible option you would want to look into. Take into account previous experience as well – if last year’s wrapping paper sales flopped, you probably don’t want to give it another go.

Step 5: Choose your fundraiser
Take into account the amount of money you need to raise. If you need a large amount of money, a car wash may not be your best option. Put it to a vote, or have the contact person make an informed decision on what will be best for the group. Factors to consider are: number of people available to raise funds, safety (door-to-door is not always an option), and perishablity of product (like candy sales in the summer heat).

Step 6: Set a deadline
Having a deadline for the project is important if you’re doing product sales. You will need to have all orders and money collected before you can place a catalog order, or return leftover product in the event of a candy sale.

Step 7: Keep them posted
For the duration of the fundraiser, keep the momentum going with regular updates using graphics like a bar graph to chart your success.

Step 8: Wrapping it up
Deliver ordered goods (if necessary) and total up your profits. Compare your totals with your goal and determine whether or not there is a need for more fundraising if you fall short, or how to spend your surplus if you’ve met with success.

Some options to consider:

* bake sales
* car washes
* candy sales
* flower & bulb sales
* magazine subscriptions
* catalog items such as wrapping paper, holiday gifts, books
* personalized items for your school such as t-shirts, school supplies, car tags, key chains, spirit items

Options Online: Conduct your own searches to find more fundraising options for your group. Check out the companies below to get you started:

* supplies the good old standbys: lollipops, sports keychains, cookie dough, and other brochure sales. They also offer a profit of 50%.
* helps you organize magazine sales. (Hey, everyone buys magazines!) A list of titles is available at their site.