Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Teachers Pay Teachers

You will spend more time planning as a teacher than actually teaching the information to your class. I am a teacher who loves to put tremendous amount of care and fun in my class. My lessons are always interactive and engaging. My students are always amazed at the level of work I put into my lesson planning. Even though I put a lot of time into my lessons, it takes a tremendous amount of time to plan for each class. In my fifth year of teaching, I want to expand my knowledge about teaching lessons and curriculum development. Teachers Pay Teachers became my savor because I did not have to spend most of my time developing materials.

I discovered Teachers Pay Teachers back in 2012. I started to develop resources for my chemistry class over the summer before my first year of teaching. I created 60 different lessons that summer. I gave up creating lesson after that summer because I become consumed with everyday life. Now, I want to start to develop more resources for my classroom. This year I tried using some great lessons from my favorite Teachers Pay Teachers sellers in my classroom. I have found my student respond well to my lessons because I have time to develop the lessons as opposed to spending most of my time developing worksheets and Power Points. Teachers Pay Teachers resources have been a great time saver when it comes to getting quality materials that matches my teaching style. I spend more time grading and providing feedback, than creating materials. During my brief vacation, I started mapping out the entire unit and planning my daily lessons. I will be creating a post about my lesson planning process. It saved me so much time! 

The Biology Teacher (My Store) 
Amy Brown Science (I use all of her materials for my units) 
Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy (I love their interactive notebook pages) 
Ladybug Teacher Files (I use this seller's materials for my classroom organization)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

HP Instant Ink

I am currently looking for ways to save money, especially on school supplies. One of the things I have spent the most money on is ink for my HP print. In order to get a full set of color in cartridges, I would have to spend $90!! I love to use color ink. My Pinterest board is filled with colorful classroom decoration ideas that require a lot of ink. When I discovered HP Instant Ink, I was instantly in love with this program. I immediately signed up. Every month or when you run out of ink, you can get new ink cartridges in the mail before you run out of ink. The first step after you get an HP printer is pick the plan that works for you. Here are the plans listed below:

Occasional Printing: 2.99/month (50 pages/month)
Moderate Printing: 4.99/month (100 pages/month)
Frequent Printing: 9.99/month (300 pages/month)

I choose the 4.99/month plan because I print mostly word wall and poster for my room every few months. The ink does last longer than the ink cartridges you get in the stores. This is great because you don't need ink every month. Also, your printer must be connected to the internet. The Instant Ink program works wireless through your printer and let's the service know that you need more ink.

If you don't have an HP printer, I would definitely invest in one. This program is really great for small business owners or teachers who print a lot of every month. If you rare print and don't use that much ink every month, then the HP Instant Ink is not for you. I discovered HP Instant Ink on another teachers blog over a month ago and decided to join. This service is definitely worth it if you are a teacher and you want to save money on ink.

HP Instant Ink is a great way to save you money on ink every month. Click here to start saving money on printing. Get three months off using the code (SCHOOL3) at the checkout!

Professional Development for Science Teachers

I have been going back and forth about continuing my education. It has been over a year since I graduated M.Ed. program at Concordia. I really enjoyed the online experience, but I want to learn more about the recent changes in the science curriculum. National Generation Science Standards were adopted in my state and I want to be able to use these standards in my classroom. Another reason why I am considering applying to another masters program is because I want to get more experience learning the theory behind teaching. In addition, getting the courses I need in order to become certified in chemistry is a great asset to have. An addition certification will make me more marketable for applying to other science teaching positions.

When I was a novice teacher, I did not understand the meaning or value of professional development. All new teachers were expected to attend professional development off campus over the summer. This experience was very similar to the student teaching course I took in college. The workshops were geared towards teachers who did not have any teacher training. I had experience developing lessons and reading about different educational pedagogy. The workshops taught me that I needed to think outside of the box in terms of my lessons, but did not have the knowledge to do so. In my second year of teaching, I was hungry to learn more about education and how to develop lessons for multicultural classrooms. There is a certain way to teach students from different backgrounds and I wanted to figure out how to teach those students. My thesis was about character development in science classes. Again, I did not have a direct path for what I want to study and uncover. Actually, I am still discovering new things everyday about learning every year I teach.

I currently teach biology at a high school. Teaching science has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had in my life. When science is taught in an engaging way, students are excited to learn what you are teaching. I want to continue to develop my teaching so I can make my lessons more engaging for my students. Every year I look for professional development opportunities for me to be able to incorporate more quality lessons in my classroom. Here are a list of some useful resources for science teachers who want to get more professional development outside of their schools.

NSTA Membership 

The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) is a great membership for science teachers. The membership includes access to discounts on conferences (I am going to one in December for the first time) and books. NSTA Book Store is teacher heaven! All of my favorite professional development books can be found in the store. NSTA also has magazine that for elementary, middle, and high school teachers. I am subscribed to Science Teacher Magazine. Science Teacher Magazine has different activities and labs that high school science teachers can use in their own classroom.

Any Subject Specific Membership 

Subject specific memberships are really awesome because they provide great activities and conferences that are specific to the subject you teach. I have a membership with the National Association of Biology Teachers. I love this membership because I get information about labs and activities related to the subject I teach. There are other memberships for middle school science teachers, chemistry teachers, physics teachers, and many more.

Advanced Degrees

Ph.D or Master's level degrees are a great way to get some extra professional develop. This is the most expensive option for professional development, but I found it to be the most rewarding. I advise that you look at different types of programs. Find the program that meets your needs the most and won't break the bank. Some schools will also pay for you to get professional development. I am looking into a couple of graduate school programs for special education and science education. I would suggest looking in you own area for programs, figure out the cost of the program, then ask your employer to cover some of the costs. I am going to cover in another post how to ask for money for your professional development from your employer.


Books are a great way to get some new fresh ideas in your classroom. Most teachers spend their time reading over the summer because that's when they have time. I love going into Barnes and Noble to look at educational books. Amazon has a great education resources for teachers who are interested in using books for professional development. NSTA has a selection of great books teachers to incorporate lessons into their curriculum. Start by doing a search for different topics you are interested in (ex. coaching, reading, writing). Create a list of book you want to read that are related to your topic. If there are any previews for the book (Amazon has great previews), then read the table of contents to see if the book is right for you. Reading about different topics is a great inexpensive way to do professional development. 

ATTENTION ALL SCIENCE TEACHERS. I am hosting first book club meeting next month. This book club will be completely hosted on my blog. Share ideas that you have used in your classroom in the past and discuss how the book inspired you to try something new in your own classroom. Teachers who teach K-12 are welcome to join. The book announcement will be made at the end of each month. Tune in every week on Wednesday to have a live discussion on my blog. Follow my blog by email for more book club updates. 

What is on your summer reading list? What science books to you suggest for the new science teacher book club? 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

My First Year Using Interactive Notebooks

I have wanted to use interactive notebooks for a long time. The reason why I wanted to use them is because I wanted my students to be able to learn and develop their understanding by using these notebooks. I have read multiple different guides about how use a science notebook in a science class. With all of this information, I decided to create my own interactive notebooks for my biology classes this year. It has been a blast using notebooks. My students are really organized and enjoy making their notes come to life using the interactive notebooks.

I teach students who need some extra help with organization. Having the science notebook helps them keep track of the information all in one place. This is one of the reasons why I love interactive notebooks. One tip I have for having students create their own notebook is to make sure they paste the papers into the notebook and write the assignment on their table of contents. Some of my students skipped this step in the beginning. If you don't check to make sure they are following the rules, your students will not develop this habit.

One thing my students did not enjoy was the cutting and pasting all of the paper into their notebooks. Some students who enjoyed the process really took their time to make their notebook look neat and presentable. Other students often shoved papers into their notebook and did not take time to glue the papers into the notebook properly. I found some great interactive notebook resources that did not require cutting and pasting. I used Amy Brown's Interactive Notebook Pages as a way for my students to review the information they learn in class. I use a lot of her materials for my class. If you teach biology, I would recommend her resources for your biology classes. I cut all the assignments before class and the students just pasted them into the notebook after completing them. My student prefer not to cut and paste papers into their notebook.

Grading the notebook is a very important part of making sure students maintain their notebooks. I have a rubric that I use for my students that is very simple and straight forward. I check my students notebooks once every week to make sure they have all of the assignments. If a student's notebook does not receive good score, I all the student to make up the points by completing assignments and make their notebook look neater. Students appreciate this because they have an opportunity to increase their grade and you make sure that the student has everything they need to be successful.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Secrets of Classroom Management

I have read a lot of blog posts on classroom management. Teachers believe that their best form of classroom management is to get the students to do what you want when you want them to do it. This may be true, but what about the students? I have struggled with classroom management in the past. I believe every new teacher can attest to the fact that they have failed to properly manage the classroom. Throughout my years of teaching, I have tried and failed to make my class achieve the ideal vision of classroom management. I am still working on trying to achieve this goal. When I have failed to figure out the secret to classroom management, I have turned to reading countless number of books and articles about how to effectively manage the classroom. None of the suggestions below I obtained by reading a book or an article. All of these pieces of advice I have learned through trial and error.


Every blog post and book I have read did not appropriately address this issues of experience. I believe experience in the classroom will not only make you a better teacher, but at classroom management. Experience gives you the presence and confidence to demand attention in the classroom. I did not realize my true confidence in teaching until my fifth year of teaching. 


The students need to feel like you are in the room and that they can learn from you. A teacher with a strong voice and powerful stance will definitely command the attention of the classroom. If you do not have a strong voice or command the attention of the classroom, then you should practice this skill in front of the mirror. Students will respond to you better when you have a stronger presence in the room. 

Content Knowledge 

I am a major advocate of teacher knowing the information they are teaching especially in high school. If you do not know what you are talking about, then the students will sense that you don't know what you are talking about. Students will be less engaged in your class and the subject matter. Teachers will also feel nervous when they teach the subject which will lead to less classroom management. Teach a subject that you about and what to teach others about. This will make the class more interesting for your students and for yourself. 

Lesson Planning 

If you have a solid lesson plan, then you for lesson will do the classroom management. Students trust teachers who have a clear vision for their classes. They want to know that their time in your class will be informative and engaging. Teachers who do not put the time and the care into their lesson plans will see that their classroom management techniques are not effective because their students do think their class is important. Lesson plans allows you to not worry about what you are going to teach and more about whether or not you students are learning in the classroom. Lesson planning is a daunting task. I know. I strongly believe planning ahead will allow you to be a more effective teacher over time. 

I am going to create a lesson planning series for high school biology course on my blog. There are so many resources out there waiting to be used. I will show you how to get these resources use them to create great lesson plans. Subscribe to my blog to get more updates on lesson planning.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Making Food Webs Activity

I am finally found my inspiration to make my own products again. I am currently teaching Biology at a great high school in Connecticut. Biology is my favorite subject to teach at the high school level. I am so excited to share some of the new resources with you. All of my materials have been classroom tested. My test my resources in my classroom first and then I make modifications. This activity was an instant success with my students. The students enjoyed the graphics and the challenge of the assignment. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Lessons You Will Learn in the Classroom

Many have tried and failed at teaching. I want to share my experiences in the classroom to show that their is hope if you choose to remain in the classroom. There is a way to manage your sanity and become an effective teacher. The secret is to believe in yourself and learn from your mistakes.

In order to teach you must have the drive and passion to want to improve your skills over time. In my experience, I have learned my most valuable lessons by making mistakes in my career. Looking back I would not change my mistakes for anything. A lot of people say that we should learn from our mistakes, but in the teaching profession you will make a lot of mistakes. Learning from them will enable you not to repeat them. Students deserve a quality teacher who cares ensuring that their learning continues to happen in the classroom. Continue to find resources that will help you solve the issues and make you a better teacher in the long run.

Teaching does not give you instant gratification. Sometimes students do not see the lessons they need to learn from failure and blame their teachers for their mistakes. Students learn from their failures until they have experienced failure and survived it. Your classroom may be the first time a student gets a failing grade on an assignment. Some students might have a very negative reactions because they are dealing with some issues that have nothing to do with you. As a teacher, you need to learn about each individual student and how they deal with difficult situations. Once you learn about their challenges, devise a plan for that student that involves teaching them how to cope with difficult situations. I have plenty of experience dealing with this. More tips about this topic will be shared in future posts.

Have you every experience challenges in your teaching career? How did you learn from those mistakes? Share your experiences below.