Sunday, June 30, 2013

Another Short Note

Dear Paula Deen,

I think you are awesome. I will continue to use clips from your shows in class, and reference you in every discussion we have about butter.

Your fan, 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Short Note

Dear Kleenex,

I just saw your back to school commercial. Let me point out that an awful lot of schools only just began break. Heck, CPS just wrapped things up three days ago.

On behalf of teachers everywhere, I may very well request that parents donate only non-Kleenex brand tissue this coming school year.

A customer in disbelief

Monday, June 24, 2013

Time for the Little Things

I've not posted often yet this summer, mainly because it's summer, of course! I've been working on taking care of all those things on the to-do list that get pushed to the back burner during the school year - you know, things like house cleaning : ).

Also on the list are some minor upgrades to the blog. For one, I finally locked in my own domain, so I can now leave out the "blogspot" in the web address (have no fear, if you use the blogspot address, it will redirect you to Next I created my own font from my every day handwriting (go to to do this for FREE!). I used that to help create my first shot at a custom header - nothing fancy schmancy yet, but it was beginning to bug me!

A good chunk of time has been spent finishing up the last of my grad school assignments before our July break, which I am happy to announce I have completed! I have to show up to class this Wednesday, but everything has been turned in and I am DONE!

And then of course is the reading. Ah, reading for fun and reading to improve my craft... at the same time! Over the course of this school year I've followed a few blogs centered on "Whole Brain Teaching," and I have become intrigued enough to seriously look into it, so I am currently reading the book. Seems to me this would work perfectly for FACS!

I hope all of you are enjoying your summer, striking that golden balance between productivity and relaxation!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Chalkboard to Dry Erase Board

Got one of these in your classroom?

While I understand that some people like going old school (literally) in this way, I am not a big fan - particularly when it comes to being covered in chalk dust all day long. But before I lucked out with a SMART Board, this was what I had (note the yellow arrow for the ever clever way I posted my bell ringers each day). After they installed the SMART Board and moved this puppy over to the side, I decided it was time to make a conversion.

Sticky dry erase paper which works ever so well atop chalkboards. You can get super large pieces to cover an entire board, but because I knew I was going to divide the board into sections anyway I went with smaller dimensions to save some cash.

After taking careful measurements, I cut the roll into the size sections I wanted. Then, I washed and dried the chalkboard really, really well. After this I began hanging the dry erase paper on the chalkboard. Warning: do NOT attempt this alone, even with small dimensions. You need at least four hands to keep the bubbles smoothed out.

I then created headings for the top of each section using cardstock, scrapbook paper, lamination, and magnets. The final step was backing the ribbon with magnetic tape (easy to take down to clean the board).

And there you have it! No more chalk dust, and it definitely adds needed color. Still have to take care of that stupid wallpaper border. And the stencils. And the gap of chalk board at the bottom. But all in all, great project. The only flaw I've found with the dry erase rolls is that bubbles do tend to seep in when the humidity is high, but they're easy to squeeze out.

I completed this over the semester break, so had the dry erase board available to me the entire second semester - it worked beautifully. So if you have a chalkboard to replace and little funding, I highly recommend this option!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Awkward Meeting, Pinterest Style

Awkward encounter with 7th grade student at the Y:

'Billy': {gasp!} Mrs. C! What are YOU doing here??!!
Me: {recalling recent Pinterest giggle} Oh, you know, hunting elephants. What are you doing here?
'Billy': {after brief moment of confusion} I, too, am hunting elephants.

Impressive recovery and response for a 13 year old.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Thwarting the Clock Watchers

There are at least a couple in every class, and they're contagious. You know who I'm talking about - the clock watchers! These are the students who have to constantly glance at the clock, contorting their bodies into whatever position necessary every 80-90 seconds, and begin packing up well before necessary. This disease always spreads to those seated next to them, and then to the students seated next to those students, causing the contortions and early packing to ripple throughout the classroom causing numerous disruptions.

About three years ago I had one particular class so infected with this malady I couldn't take it any more and I removed the clock from the wall. I knew if this was the only move I made that students would begin "inconspicuously" (why do they think we can't see the phones?) checking their cell phone clocks every couple of minutes, transferring their attention from the wall to their laps. So I instituted the timer policy.

I informed the students that I had set a timer to go off one minute before the bell. I told them that once the timer went off I would end class and they could begin cleaning up and getting ready to go, not before. A few students grumbled that one minute is not enough time. So, I set a timer for one minute and we did a "dry run" of how long it took them to put away all of their things and get ready to go. They were all surprised to find that it actually only takes them about 20 seconds to get their belongings in order. I then let them sit there and look at each other for the next 40 seconds so that they could feel just how much time that one minute is. Then I had them get their stuff out again and we held class.

It was amazing. With no clock, the constant glancing and contorting disappeared. Without their anxiety over the possibility of "not having enough time to pack up," they actually paid attention until the end of the hour. Game changer. I have instituted the same policy with every class since that day. When more clean-up time is needed (for sewing classes, project days, etc), I change the timer to compensate. 

I use my cell phone for this purpose, as I can set the timers for every class one time, click "weekdays," and never have to worry about forgetting to set them. Every once in a while I do forget to turn them off during Institute Days, and an alarm that sounds like the 108 minutes are up and I need to enter "4 8 15 16 23 42" to prevent the end of the world goes off during an informational session on gangs or library services. Oops, awkward...

When I introduce the procedure to the kids on the first day, I always show one of the students in each class that I have the phone set on "airplane mode" so that they know I'm not also receiving texts : ). This builds their trust, establishes the reason I can have my phone out and they cannot, and keeps me out of trouble. 

What kind of trouble can having your phone on during the school day cause? See this article: "Texting Between Classes Can Get You Fired... or Pregnant."

As long as you stick to your word and dependably end class with the timer, the kids are really good about not packing up before time, eliminating that end-of-class clean-up creep. Definite sanity saver! 

Anybody else have a system for thwarting the clock watchers?

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Now that it's summer, it's time to try some new things - I'm going to start with Twitter! It's not like I have all sorts of fascinating things to say, but occasionally there's a thought or question that crosses my mind that's certainly not worth a full post.

Kind of like right now.

Anyway, if so desired the "Follow" button is on the right.

I loaded up the car with all I'll need to prepare for next year along with a few extras... this view wasn't planned but sums up the beginning of summer perfectly, don't you think?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Poster Sale!

If you haven't checked out yet, now is the time! And no, sadly I get no money from them, I'm just a big fan. Not only do they have terrific resources, if you sign up for their email list you get to take part in their Terrific Tuesday sales during the summer! Every Tuesday they put up a slew of posters for $5, in addition to other great discounts. Here's one I added to my collection today (18" x 24" laminated):

Check 'em out! 

Monday, June 3, 2013


2012-2013...SURVIVED! Hooray for summer!

And I am proud to say, I cleaned/purged/organized 99% of my classrooms over the year, so next year I will be able to hit the ground running. One of my major projects was a storage area in between the two rooms, which I have converted into... my office! I LOVE it! Check out some pics:

This it the view from the door. The top shelves were cabinets I removed the doors from and added a maroon backing (school color). I have on the shelf my high school diploma, my BS, my master's degree, and my preschool diploma! And yes, I do feel silly bubbling out my name, but you know. That's a freezer off to the side, which I didn't utilize at all this year but is great for hanging my pictures on : ).

Gee, how many Pinterest ideas can you find in this photo? I especially love having my lesson plan binder displayed on the plate stand. The volleyball is signed by my favorite team, from two schools ago - I still carry their picture in my purse. Those kids just graduated from high school last week. Crazy how fast time flies by!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Currently June

You couldn't tell it from today's weather (50 degrees? Are ya kiddin' me???), but it is JUNE! And with a new month comes a new Currently from Farley!

Listening - at first intermission we are up by 2! Yeah buddy!

Loving - 3 hours, 10 minutes of students tomorrow, then SUMMER!!! The adults still have a full day, but we all know that's gravy once the last bus pulls out.

Thinking - How long can I put off my summer to-do list? I have A LOT of school work to do this summer, but I need to make sure that I truly take some time off as well so that I can return refreshed in August. Gah, I shudder to already be thinking of August...

Wanting - I've already accomplished most of the packing up, but I want to make sure I get everything wrapped up and locked up. I've spent an unfathomable amount of time getting these rooms the way I want them, I do not want to have to start over!

Needing - RECOVERY TIME! I've always had a good-sized to-do list for summer, and I've always started my timeline the first week school is out. Foolish, foolish girl, as most of the first week is spent in various forms of sleep. This year I'm just admitting that the first week will be more or less dedicated to napping and recovery.

Vacay Essentials - First and foremost, my Kindle! SO MUCH TO READ!!! Sunblock, as I burn easily. And of course my phone for all the photos I'll take (which I'll look back at during the tough times next school year).

3 hours, 10 minutes... Bring it on!