Warm Fuzzies

7:30 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

My students are always asking what they get for doing me a favor.  I tell them that it is a warm fuzzy place in my heart...or brownie points.  Then I usually go a little further and explain the significance of these thing.  I tell my students that at some point they will need a favor (a letter of recommendation or some help with a paper in college), and that those warm fuzzies and brownie points add into their coffer for when they need something from me.

This may seem like a lot to go through to get help passing out papers or bringing boxes in from my car, but I don't think that a lot of my students ever get this explained to them.

The same thing is sometimes explained to students who are starting to become habitual behavior problems.  I really don't think anyone ever explains to most of my students that there isn't really any fresh start or reset...your behavior does follow you, and you develop a reputation.

When I saw this picture on Pinterest from A love 4 teaching I wanted to do something like this with my high school students.  I think I need real warm fuzzies.  I am not sure how I will use this in my classroom, but I may try it. 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.


Five for Friday 8/29

8:53 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

I am linking up again this with with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.


I discovered two more real-life friends that blog.

My sorority sister Angel has a great blog that she write about home and family.  She includes wonderful family history and recipes.  Check her out at: Downtoearthangel.

Carlie is a friend from high school, and I have to say that her blog was the first one I ever read.  She is mom to four boys and write about her adventures. She has a wonderful way with words.  Check her out at: Twinklingalong

I tried to find pictures on my computer of me with these two ladies, and I realize as we were friends long before digital photography was big, I don't have any digital ones.  Maybe I can find some and make them digital later today.



I went shopping yesterday to find a dress for the first day of school on Tuesday.  I only own like three real dresses for school.  I have a few dressier ones, but they are from years ago and they aren't really school-style.  They may not actually fit any more.

Shmurtz and I went to Kohls and walked around picking up anything either of us liked or that was a dress even if we didn't like it.  Yes, I let my six year old help me pick out clothes; she is quite the fashionista.  When we had been through all the racks, we headed to dressing room.





Smurtz tried on the sweaters I picked up although they were too big for her, and I proceeded to wade through the stack we had picked up.  I did try on this animal print dress she picked out, but it was out of my price range.



I walked away with four dresses (all of which were on clearance) and two tops.  I also got two Star Wars t-shirts for dear hubby.

Which one should I wear on day one?



Now to buy a pair of shoes...


I finally got around to using the Jamberry sample that Christi from Plaid Apple sent me.  I was skeptical about this, but I am now on day five, and I might have a new favorite product.



Applying the one on my right hand was a little challenge, but once I figured it out and got the rough edges smoothed, I am so very happy.



I never paint my finger nails because I hate the way the polish looks by day two.  I tried these on my pinky fingers, but my other sample will go on a more productive finger.  I already have the styles I want to buy picked out.





We recently became a two cat family, but Twitch is still my little boy.  He loved to climb in bags: grocery bags, the girls' backpacks, laundry bags, but his favorite is ALWAYS my school bag, so he is happy it is back to school time.



He is ready to go back to school.

I know that I am finally ready for school to start on Tuesday because I have my Jolly Rancher stash ready.  This tradition started with my father, who was a high school math teacher for years.  He always kept Jolly Ranchers in his desk.  He made it a point of sharing this idea with me telling me that students and parents have a hard time being grumpy when they were just given candy.



So in honor of him I start every year by handing out Jolly Ranchers to my classes.




First Day of Professional Development

7:27 PM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

Well, today marked my first day back to work.  It was welcome and professional development, which I helped to organize last week at our district improvement meeting.  My day went something like this:

7:15- my alarm went off and I hit snooze twice.

7:30- get a text from co-worker asking me to text her when I get there.  Really? She was already there? We don't start listening to people until 8:15...she is crazy!


7:50-leave the house with iced coffee in hand after it splashed all over kitchen while putting the top on my Tervis cup.

7:55- Arrive at school, climb two flights of stares in 80+ heat, drop stuff in classroom, and head to cafeteria...all while thinking: It does start at 8:15, right?

8-8:15: Sit with above mentioned coworker, say hi to people, eat a muffin and yogurt provided at staff breakfast, touch base with principal, and hear superintendent say he wasn't sure if technology department was showing up because neither I nor the tech. director were there yet (Tech director pulled in just behind me)

8:15-9- Hear all the administrators' speeches and introductions of new staff.  Over half the high school staff was replaced this year. in addition to two new in the middle school, two new at the elementary, and a new elementary principal (she seems like she will be fun and fit right in). These weren't bad as all of them kept it short and sweet.  Nothing earth-shattering to report, so that is always good news.

9- Teaching staff reports to the M.C. for a presentation from ISD staff on the curriculum initiative started two years ago.  I was hopeful after our planning meeting last week to hear about the status of the documents, where they are stored, and the good ways to write assessments....boy was I disappointed!

9-9:40- Listen to lady from the ISD tell us a story about her summer vacation trip to Chicago.  Really?  Why does this matter?  At least I can now plan a good trip to Chicago for my kids.

9:40- She finally starts talking about the curriculum initiative, but she uses scare tactics...again...yes, she tried to scare everyone last spring at a special education meeting too.  I thought the point of this initiative was to have all our bases covered?  I text a friend on the other side of room, and we muse over what this lady is thinking.  My coworker and I pass a few notes.

10:15-Bathroom break...I had too many beverages this morning, and I need to get up or I will fall asleep.  As I walk down hallway, my principal comes out and asks my opinion.  I laugh at first and tell him I will be right back.  Upon return I find he and the new elementary principal have similar feelings to mine.

10:30-Parapros are allowed to leave....lucky ducks.

11- We are finally free from the ISD ramblings.  It's a shame the other lady never got to talk because I bet she was interesting.

11-12-Meeting with principal as a 6-12 building.  He goes over some items on our evaluation rubric to tie into the work we will do this afternoon.  I am actually excited to get some work done.  We are broken up into department groups for after lunch work on scope and sequence.  He makes a few announcements and releases us for lunch.

12-12:45- Eat with coworker, find and copy some ELA scope and sequence documents, answer some PowerSchool questions...basically get nothing done in my room, which is why I brought my lunch.

12:45-1- Quick recap of what the boss needs from our work session.

1-1:45- Plan in our 6-12 department using state documents as the documents for social studies that they talked about this morning are not available yet.  Make some decisions on starting points in time.

1:45- Move upstairs to our floor to finish working with texts on scope and sequence.  I don't know what is worse the M.C. or the third floor...I am wearing a dress tomorrow.

1:45-2:30- Help department plan the year and semesters for world and American history as I have taught both.  Talk about work spouses and Captain Morgan rum.  Decide that our department budge of $50 is enough for one bottle of rum for one department meeting...to be held off campus!


2:30-2:45- Convince boss that we need 10 more world history books and another teacher's edition


2:45-3- Recap with whole staff of what we did today and what to bring tomorrow

3-4-Pack up stuff, send out documents for photographer tomorrow that include students names, grades, and id numbers, grab a package that arrived for me, deliver package to councilor as it is testing materials, try and sneak out...get spotted by principal and have a quick conversation about tomorrow.

4- Leaving the building at last!





Monday Made It 8/25

7:30 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

I am linking up a gain for Monday Made It.  As you read this I will be working my way through a full day of PD planned by our district improvement team, which I am part of.  Yes, back to school is in full swing.

I know this is a re-made it from last week, but I am so super excited about my first connection with a company for a giveaway.



One day left to enter:



I posted about the way I do vocabulary in AP Psychology.  Read the post HERE.  After writing that post, I decided to make my plastic vocab container a little cuter.

This is what it looked like when I started.

I sprayed the top with the rustoleum that matches my desk.

I measured and cut the contact paper.  I then lined it up on the bottom and rolled it onto the container.


I then used my trusty exacto knife to trim the top.


Pretty awesome!

It looks so fabulous on my desk with all the awesome other desk items I got to match my color scheme.




I made some table numbers for my classroom.  I am excited to see how long they last and how much I use them.



You can pick up your own set at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

I also printed some cute labels for my classroom.  I got these frames for free HERE.

I laminated them today when I went into school.  Twitch wanted to help me cut them out.


I am taking them with me tomorrow to hopefully get them on tables and bins.




I made a big mess in my classroom yesterday.  I believe in the "It must get worse before it gets better" philosophy.  I gutted my closet and book shelves.  This was what it looked like about halfway through.

I actually had a fair amount a room to spare when I was done.


I found this whole pile of PD binders and notebooks.  I be there are some really great ideas in here.  I have set these aside to go through at my leisure...like I'll have any of that until Thanksgiving.


I have a few projects to finish on my list.
I have no idea what they clean our white boards with over the summer, but they never erase right the first time I use them.  Once I clean them with real white board cleaner, they are fine.


Social Studies Bell Ringer/Board Work with Daily Social Studies

9:02 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

I feel like it has been ages since I wrote an actual post...well, not ages, but a few days at least.  I started this blog, so I could write and share my ideas.  This is something I have been doing in English for almost ten years now since I student taught, but I haven't been doing it near as long in my social studies classes; probably about half as long.

This idea was spawned from the need for bell work when I taught middle school social studies.  I needed to get their fidgety little bodies going.  I have continued to use this in my high school social studies classes with much success.

The first thing you need is one of my Daily Geography Practice and This Day in History Sheets, which are available on my TPT store for FREE!

The other product I use for this bell work: Great Source's Daily Geography Book.  I bought the seventh grade book years ago for myself.  It appears they now might require you to purchase it through your school authorized purchaser and that the price has gone up, but it is worth every penny because it has the vocabulary, answers, and quizzes right in that awkwardly sized book.

There are other companies produce these, but this has been the best one I have found.


UPDATE:  This book is no longer available for individual purchase, but I have created my own weekly geography:  Check it out: Daily Geography

I have used this same seventh grade book for social studies classes from 6th-10th grade.  I plan to continue using it this year with my civics classes of juniors.  I just thing that the skills are so timeless: using maps, higher level thinking, research, and general knowledge to be Culturally Literate.

The only other thing you will need it an internet connection to This Day in History by History.com  History.com does a daily video of what happened on today in history.  It also provides a comprehensive list with events and links to further reading on the events.  For example: On today, August 8th, in the year 79 A.D. Mt. Vesuvius erupted.



I copy these with the questions with the This Day in History sheet on the back.  These then become the students' bell work for the week.  Notice the heading says 7-1.  This is because I have several of these books, so this reminds me that it is 7th grade book week 1.

When they come in to my class, they use whatever resources they have (textbook, dictionary, atlas, almanacs, phone) to work through the answers to the questions for the day.  There is usually a fair amount of talking and helping going on as the students work through these questions.

When they finish the two questions for the day, we talk about what happened on this day in history.  Now, we could just have a conversation about this stuff, but I have found that having them write something down help move it to memory.  Now I do not expect them to recount every item that we talk about nor do I test them on this, but it gives us a chance to talk about interesting things that we might not get to in our regular class.  I mean how often do you really get to talk about Mt. Vesuvius?

Some days we watch the video, but some days we don't.  Also, there are days when nothing on the list of events strikes me, so we don't talk about anything.  I usually only pick 1-4 items of the list because I find it can be too much.

To save myself some headaches over the years, I have printed out my favorites and keep them in a binder chronologically.  This way if I am gone or the internet goes down (that never happens at your school, right?) I am not left in a lurch.

Overall, my social studies bell work accomplishes several things:

1) Students are engaged from the start of class.
2) Students are learning research and problem solving skills when they don't readily know an answer
3) Students are becoming culturally literate citizens
4) Students are getting a chance to discover interesting tidbits of knowledge not normally covered in class content.

I strongly encourage you to give this a try.  

I would love to hear what other secondary teachers use for bell work.

Don't forget to enter my giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out other Secondary Sunday finds:



Five for Friday Giveaway 8/22

2:25 PM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

I am linking up again this week with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.


First off is my giveaway with Sassafras for a pair of their awesome scissors.  Check out my post on them.


I have officially completed enough hours to renew my teaching licence here in Michigan.  I have 180 clock hours, and my license isn't up until June of 2017.  I guess I can relax for a few years on that.  This is my PD sheet from last school year.




I made bakes potatoes in the crockpot this past week.  It might be my new favorite thing to do in my crockpot.  Your really should try it.  My chef hubby doubted me, but liked them better than in the oven.



I am working on my post for our Together Teacher book study.  

Check out this weeks post at Jackson in the Middle.  It really is a great book.

Jackson In The Middle



Last, but not least. I go back to work on Monday.  I don't know where my summer went, but we have PD for two and half days next week before the long holiday weekend.  I am enjoying what is left with a pedicure and a beer!





Check out the other five for Friday posts:


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