Oriental Trading Company Back to School and Giveaway

3:30 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

We are back in school now. I spent several weeks working on my classroom and lessons, but the whole process was much easier thanks to Oriental Trading Company. I also have a great giveaway for you as well.
 I have received these items at no cost in exchange for an honest review; these words and opinions are 100% my own.  I received no compensation for this post.

Birthday Pencils

Several years ago I read that celebrating student birthdays is a great way to build relationships as students might not get any other celebration.  This year I got several packages of birthday pencils so that I can give each student one on their special day.  I will add a cute printable tag for a quick gift.

Extreme Dot to Dot

One of my goals for this year is to create collections of puzzles, games, and activities for students who finish early.  I don't want any wasted class time, so engaging add-on activities like these Extreme Dot to Dot books will keep their minds active.  I like the Legends and Lore one especially since it fits well with my English curriculum.

Magnet Tape

How any teacher can survive without this magical stuff is beyond me.  I have two white boards in my room, so I put magnet tape on everything.  This roll has a peel-and-stick side that makes it easy to attach to posters and documents.

I added the magnet tape to some cute chalkboard clips that I had for a quick way to hang papers on my board.  Right now they are holding our behavior matrix and the lunch menu.

It can be cut with regular scissors; no special tools are needed.

Plastic and Metal Scissors Set

This year will be the first year that I will have enough scissors for everyone in even my largest class.  While these plastic and metal scissor sets are not big enough for my largest high school students, they are fine for most of my younger students.  This is such a fantastic deal at less than $5 for a set of 12 in six colors.  I unpacked them and dreamed of a rainbow themed classroom.

 Bulletin Board Supplies

One of my favorite things to get from Oriental Trading Company is bulletin board supplies.  I love their fadeless paper and have rolls in black and purple (two of my classroom colors).  They also have a massive assortment of borders like the two I have used below.

And now a chance to win $25 to Oriental Trading 

Company for your own classroom.

Prize: $25 Oriental Trading Gift Card
Giveaway Organized by:  Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 9/8/16 and is open worldwide.

Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

Freebie Friday: Substitute Plan Form

3:30 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

I hate to admit it, but I am starting to think about heading back to school.  That means a whole new set of classes, which means it is time to update my Sub Plan Form. 

During my first years teaching, whenever I had to be gone, I would carefully type out all the directions for each class, but I never included classroom expectations or procedures.  

I was fortunate to be hired in December a week after graduation, so I never had to spend a semester or more subbing in area schools.  I didn't know how important general classroom information was to the substitute.  It wasn't until I was planning for maternity leave several years later that it dawned on me to include classroom procedures and expectations in those plans.

The idea of a substitute planning form started as a project for my maternity leave, but when I returned, I continued to use it each time I had to be out of the classroom.  Now I am sharing it with you.

Sub Planning Form

The newly updated version has directions on how to make a copy for each year or term. You can copy and paste to add more classes or delete some if you have fewer.  We have seven periods right now, but we used to run six.  You can also copy the whole schedule if you are going to be gone for multiple days.

I used to make a new copy of my yearly template each time I was going to be gone.  Now I just edit the template for that year right in my Google Drive each time I am going to be gone.  Then I download it as a pdf and email it off.  I use a pdf because it can be opened on any device.

Sub Planning Form

The first several pages are the core information about the course.  I have my examples and questions/suggestions for you in red.  Edit it as you need to fit your classroom and procedures.

These pages are all editable too, so if you have different expectations or procedures in different classes, you can adjust.  Sometimes teachers have classes in multiple buildings with different information, and these pages can be updated for each building.
Sub Planning Form
The sub plans themselves contain an example plan from my classroom.

The periods all have a place for the subject, times, and students who can be trusted to help out in the class.

Underneath is a numbered list of assignments, which you could ask the substitute to cross them off as they complete them to help you figure out where to pick up on your return.

Sub Planning Form

Hopefully, you find this as useful as I do when preparing for the new year and days out of the classroom.  Please don't forget to leave some feedback on the download.

I leave this form and my Substitute Feedback Form for my subs to communicate back to me.

Check out all my other Freebie Posts

Saturday Morning Coffee: Classrooms

3:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

This week is all about classrooms since I will be heading to the school soon to set up and organize my classroom for the new school year.  I want to share some of the great reads I have found on setting up, organizing, decorating, and generally prepping your classroom for the school year.

1.  While I have some wall space, I don't want to cover all of it with anchor charts.  I think I am going to use Longwing Montessori's plans for a PVC Anchor Chart Stand.

2.  Pretty much everything on Classroom Cribs is worth looking at for classroom design.  I have incorporated many examples already.

3. Erin Klein is my go-to person for all things classroom design.  She has a plethora of blog posts, but my favorite is Designing Your Classroom Space.

4.  Last winter the Teachers Pay Teachers Blog had a post on Secondary Classroom Organization.  I especially liked the idea of using color- I do this with notebooks: one color for each class.

5.  I adore anything Teaching Sam and Scout puts out, so her Decoration and Organization for the Secondary Classroom is one I refer to yearly.

6.  Karen from Our Class Web has and organization post with numerous tips.

7.  The Classroom Creative's post on Classroom Organization has lots of tips too; I want a reminder board by the door.

8.  I followed Finally in First's tip for storing borders with binder clips.

9.  Eat. Write. Teach is one of my favorite secondary teaching sites, and her Konmari for the Classroom if perfect for those purging times like getting ready for fall.

10.  I have my Classroom Transformation series from two years ago, and my room looked much the same last year.

P.S.- Be sure to grab my Rainbow Desk Labels for Grouping

I print two sets: one for the desks and one to hand out randomly to students on the first day of school to assign seats.  If you put them on tables randomly, you can get four different groupings: the random table groups, numbers, letters, and colors.

Did you find any great reads this week?  

I would love to know your classroom tips.

The Duchess Quest: Author Interview and Giveaway

5:00 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

The Duchess Quest (Jordinia #1)
by C.K. Brooke

"Love is destined to find her..."

Dainy doesn't know that she is the lost Duchess of Jordinia, believed to have been assassinated fifteen years ago. Nor does she know that her uncle has implemented an illegal contest to seek her, offering her marriage hand as the reward!

Though at odds, three clashing rivals - including a noble giant, a forest dweller and a thieving rake - voyage together by woodland, prairie and sea to recover the lost royal, notwithstanding the assassins and spies at their tail. Soon, young Dainy is swept into a comically complex romantic quadrangle as each suitor competes to capture her heart. Charmingly romantic and bursting with political intrigue, startling twists and vivid characters, readers of romance and fantasy alike will adore this original yet timeless tale of swashbuckling adventure and unlikely love.

 I have received a complimentary copy of this book to review. The opinions here are 100% mine!  This post contains affiliate links.

 About the Author

C.K. Brooke is a 2015 Shelf Unbound Notable Indie author with a five-star rating by Readers' Favorite. She holds numerous fantasy and romance publications with 48fourteen, Limitless Publishing, and Elphame Press. Her lifelong passion is books - reading, writing, editing, publishing and blogging about them. When not blissing out in literary land, she enjoys infotainment podcasts, singing, songwriting and playing the piano. She lives in Washington, Michigan with her husband and young son. There're tons to check out at the new CKBrooke.com, so come and see what she's up to! Check out her V.I.P. Readers Club (Subscribers get a free eBook!)

Author Links:
WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebookAmazon Page

Who is your favorite author?  Why?
Hate to be cheesy, but J.K. Rowling, man! Although I'd already started writing books before she was published, she's probably the reason I'm an author today. I remember reading the Harry Potter series for the first time in sixth grade (back then, only four books were out) and realizing in awe, for the first time, how a book could completely suck me out of my reality and blow my world away. I fell in love with reading through her. 

Who is your favorite or least favorite character in your book?  Why?
My favorite character is Jon Cosmith. One reviewer described him as a "charming bastard," and that's why I love him. He's sexy, flawed, ambiguous, and wickedly funny. As for my least favorite character... It's so hard to dislike anyone, even my bad guys, because they're all dutifully playing out the roles I wrote for them. But I'd have to say, for this particular book, DuBerre and Visidair - the Head of Jordinian Intelligence and his hitman spy - are pieces of work. 

How do you handle writer’s block?
I don't get writer's block, just writer's ADD. LOL! I'm never out of ideas. You should see my notebooks overflowing with story concepts I don't have nearly enough time to write out at this stage in my life, with an active preschooler at home. But if I'm ever stuck on something, I just go back to the outline, or follow Joseph Campbell's legendary advice: "Follow your bliss." If I'm writing what I'm passionate about, then the flow will never ebb. 

 What advice do you have for young/student writers?
Chase your passion. Follow your bliss. You have to be emotionally, personally and vehemently invested in what you're writing for it to succeed. Don't chase a trend or write for a market - be yourself, and write the story only you can tell. Also, listen to your editors. They know best. *wink*

Explain your revision process.
In the beginning, with this book? Oh, boy, it was a nightmare. I had to rewrite The Duchess Quest dozens of times before it was market-ready. Although I'd been hobby writing all my life, I was a complete n00b in the professional field back then. The book started out with twice the word count, and I had to chisel it down to half its size. That was almost three years ago. Now, having just completed my ninth manuscript (incidentally, the third book in the Jordinia series!), my revision process is much lighter. One could say I've gotten the hang of it by now. :)

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Teach 365: The School Year

11:18 AM Sarah Koves 0 Comments

During the School Year


For five years I coached our middle school track team.  When my oldest started high school, this one was on the things that came off my plate because I was spending countless hours at practices and meets with kids that weren’t my own. Every day after school from March until June, and 1-3 late night meets a week meant many hours away from my family.   It was a fun and rewarding experience, and something I believe you should try whether you are a teacher or not.  


Since 2009 I have been the National Honors Society advisor.  This means I get to work with the most talented and brightest upper classmen at our school.  It also means a lot of extra work; because many of my students are involved in athletics, I hold as many of our meetings during my lunch hour, which means I am eating on-the-go..  We run four blood drives a year, and that truck arrives at 6 AM.  I don’t know about you, but I am NOT a morning person, so being at the school to unload that truck is as much of a challenge for me as it is for my NHS members.  We also volunteer at many school and community functions; in fact, I am the go-to person when an organization needs volunteers because they know I have access to 20+ students who need to log volunteer hours.  This means fielding emails, sharing information, managing paperwork, and documenting hours and finances.  We also participate in our holiday Adopt-a-Family program every year, which takes time and organization.  Each spring we hold an induction ceremony as part of our Honors Night celebration.  If you have ever planned a induction or ceremony of any kind, you understand the time and stress involved so that the entire event is seamless and perfected for public presentation.


Oh the committees!  District Improvement, Technology, and School Improvement  are just a few of the committees that I work with during the school year.  Each of these committees is responsible for a different aspects of education and are necessary for state reporting and smooth functioning of the school and district.  District Improvement meets one afternoon a month while the technology team meets when necessary to brainstorm and problem-solve.  The school improvement team usually meets during the school day, which results in sub plan writing and grading happening after school hours.


(insert dance grading photo)

Professional Development
(insert dance planning photo)

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