Welcome back to #tptSMsurge for Mix it up Monday- Instagram style!

Let me start out by saying, I LOVE Instagram. Before I ever started using it for TpT, I was using it for my personal life. Brynn Allison, our Literary Maven, already mentioned that you need to decide if you want to combine your personal and business accounts or keep them separate. I decided I wanted to start over again to create a public account for my business. There are some things that I want to post for just my friends and some that I like to share with everyone. When I'm sharing with the whole world on my @caitscoolschool account, I remember that I only want to share things that if any principal or parent or colleague were to see it, they would find it to be acceptable. 

So, what do I post? What kinds of things can you post? 

Here's a snapshot of how I mix it up:

Takeaways from this example: 

  1. 4 out of 9 are business-related and connecting to other TpT-ers.
  2. Two are related to hashtags, which will easily connect to more people.
  3. Two connect to other forms of social media (blog & Facebook). 
But, I'm not the ultimate Instagrammer (I'm still working on that!). Let's go over some specifics about content.

Here are SEVEN different kinds posts you can use (with some of my favorite examples!):

1. Product photos: The best product photos are action shots or samples. @mrsedgarsclass shows some work from a student, which prompted one of her products. I love this because it inspires me to want to check out her product and see what she did with this.

2. Classroom DIYs, tips, & tricks: IG is the perfect place to show short, quick diy projects! I'm currently in LOVE with this idea from @prideandprimary (I just need to get my hands on some of that chalkboard tape!). Her classroom pictures give her followers a new idea and shows them how to execute it on their own.

3. People (and pets!): Feature people! Yourself, your family, and friends. Even your pets, because we all love a good puppy pic. People pics make you seem like a real person :) @missjohnstonsjourney regularly features her #ootd (outfit of the day) and also shared her wedding journey with her followers! Great way to engage with others (who doesn't love a good wedding?!). Here's a people pic example, @missjohnstonsjourney giving a shout out to a friend @lessonswithcoffee:

4. Behind the scenes: Show some you doing all of that hard work! What's your home office look like? What's your classroom look like? Finished products and perfect classrooms don't come from nothing! @schoolandthecity gave a glimpse of what one corner of her room looks like so far in this great pic!

5. Inspirational quotes: Everyone needs some inspiration sometime. Why not give it to others? If you need some help adding text, revisit Becky's post (The Class Couple) here. One of my favorite quote people is @iamkidpresident. He's hysterical, but always makes me think. (Also, don't you love cheese and bacon??)

Here's another example from @adabofgluewilldo (LOVE this quote!):

6. Questions: Ask a question to engage your followers! Get others' opinions or ideas or votes. Everyone likes to know that you care what they think. @weareteachers threw out an easy question and received a ton of responses (over 100)!

7. Part A. Link up: Create your own, or connect with others through a link up. A popular one every month is "Currently" from @farleyfarleyfarley...this used to just be a blog post, but is now included for IG also! Link ups combine the idea of a question with a hashtag so you can connect with lots of different people. Take a screenshot of the background, and then add your own text on top. Post in Instagram using the #hashtag. 

Part B. Link up with hashtags! Use popular hashtags to connect with others like:#ootd (outfit of the day) or #widn (what I'm doing now). @sharpinsecond uses #widn to connect with a few others on IG. It also provides a quick glimpse into your life, plus if you tag a couple friends, it gets them in on the action.

I hope everyone can get in on the IG action now and mix it up! What's your favorite kind of post? 

When I'm having one of those days when I need one glass two glasses of wine after a ten hour (or more) day that's involved a data meeting/poor assessments/lesson plan gone horribly wrong/someone else telling me how to my job, my husband always asks, "Why do you even teach if you dislike it so much?" 

Immediately, I say, "The kids." Because that's what it comes down to, them. But every now and then, I need a reminder to figure out why I'm doing this and what I really believe in. This blog post is not just for you, but it's for me to, a reminder to myself for why I'm teaching and why I love my job. 

1.Be there. 
Show up every day. I don't mean you can't have doctors' appointments or sick days or personal days. We all have lives. But 99%, you need to show up- physically AND mentally. For some of these kids, you're the only one who does. They need you. And they know when you're not there. Be the best teacher you can be the moment you walk in that door. 

2.Be flexible. Rarely do lessons go according to plan, and it's okay. Some of the best times I have with my class are the ones that run off script. Don't get flustered, just go with it. One of the ways truly embraced this idea this year was changing the way I plan. Instead of Mon, Tues, Wed, etc., I now plan by numbering the days, just in case I don't finish something. One time, a student asked me about an animal named in our Time for Kids article- a narwhal. I didn't know what it was, but I figured it would be great to learn all about it. We spent the next 20 minutes doing some research about narwhals. (They're pretty cool, by the way.) 

3.Give them what they want. Every kid wants choices. Why not give it to them? Giving your students choices allows them the chance to take charge. It's not MY classroom, it's OUR classroom. I don't believe in a dictatorship. I use this philosophy in my fourth grade classroom and my college classroom. Let them choose between performing a skit, writing a paper, or creating a diorama. In the end, they can show you the same ideas that you want, but in their own creative way.

4.Accept only the best. You know what your students can do. I've been to look at a student's paper when they turn it in, and give back, simply saying, "Try again." They learn that I only accept AWESOME, AMAZING work, and this pushes them to try more.

5.Have fun. Dive in with the kids! Pick lessons and projects that make you excited! We do a research project every year, but I'm forever choosing different topics so I can learn something new too. I choose new books for our novel study, or a different writing project. If I stop having fun with my job, then it's not fun for anyone. :)

Continue with our blog hop by hopping over to Luckey Frog Learning! 

This week's topic for the weekly summer link up with Monica at I Heart Grade 3 is all about talents...so I'm trying to figure out two of my talents. 

The first one is easy (and none of my friends will be surprised by this)- BAKING! I LOVE to bake. I like to cook also, but baking is something I can safely say that I'm very good at. I have several Pinterest boards that I like to pull ideas from and I'm always volunteering to bring cookies, cupcakes, or some other concoction to a party. I'm very well-known for saying that baking is the only science I understand. Here are a few of my baking adventures:

An American flag cake for 4th of July

Mini apple pies...just because :)

Watermelon-colored chocolate chip cupcakes with buttercream frosting

Now for my second talent... perhaps my creativity, because I just love making things. My mother always liked to say that I just like making a mess, but I promise- great things come from my messes! Baking is one of those things, but I'm always crafting- at home and in the classroom with my kids. Here are a few at-home crafts: 
Picture of Hedwig on top of some Hogwarts books (photo is a little dark)
Homemade Brownies in a Jar for my room mothers one year

Repurposed wine bottles & corks, all dressed up for the holidays
Changed what used to be my wedding sign into this cute chalkboard Christmas wine sign
Now I have an itch to bake something delicious and then craft after...

Check out more amazing talents here:
 My Talent(s)

Hi, everyone! We're so glad that you're joining us for our #tptSMSurge! I'm ecstatic to be discussing Facebook with you because I'm a complete Facebook addict. I've been a Facebook-er since it was limited to only college students way back when...and it was one of the first social media forms I ventured into as a TpT-er because I'm the most comfortable with it.

If you're just starting with our surge, be sure to read Brynn, The Literary Maven's post here

Here are some quick & easy tech tips to help you navigate through the many facets of Facebook. I've included lots of screenshots, but be sure to let me know if you have any questions!

1. Create a business page and choose your preferred audience. This will help you to connect your store with Facebook and help people to find you. You can edit the key words at any time. Choose an age range and interests that match your page. In particular, make sure you choose the age group for your products & blog posts. I teach 4th grade and most of my products are for 3rd-5th grades. I have interests such as "intermediate," "reading," and "learning." These categories will also help when you promote your posts! 

2. Reach more people by sharing through your personal page or in groups. Facebook is designed so that the more people that like your page, the more people that will see it. It also takes into consideration your words and your pictures in your posts. Kelli will talk more about what to include in your posts on Mix It Up Monday, but for now, let's talk about more ways to reach your audience. 

Personal page: You can certainly share by clicking "Share now" and it will be shared on your personal page. This is quick and easy. You might not want to share too often in this way, however, because you could bother your non-teacher Facebook friends.

Groups: After you post, you can share your posts with different groups you are a part of. Share by going to your the post, then click "Share..." That will open up a "Share This Link" box. Click where it says "On your own Timeline," and change it to "in a group." Type in the group's name and then type in your new post. Done!
Note: This does NOT mean to share with every Facebook group you're a part of. There are some groups that want to share TpT products and some that want to share ideas. Be aware of whom you' re sharing with.

3. Schedule a post. Doesn't scheduling make life so much easier?? With all of the social media forms, I love scheduling an article, blog post, promotion, etc. to just pop on Facebook. This especially will be helpful in August and September (aka the months of BTS insanity!). Try to have about one or two posts max per day. You don't want to clog up anyone's newsfeeds. The ideal times for posting vary for different social media forms. 

Facebook's ideal posting times are 6-8am and 2-5pm. If you're like me, you totally understand why these times are the most popular...a little Facebook with my morning coffee and a little afternoon brain break. Here's how to schedule your posts to hit your maximum audience. P.S. One of the things I LOVE about Facebook is that you don't need another app to schedule posts- yay!

4. Have giveaways or flash freebies. 

Giveaways: Rafflecopter is a great (easy!) way to perform a giveaway. Create your post with an image to show about your giveaway. Ask people to like and comment (with their emails is helpful for you!). Then, if you go to http://fbflash.rafflecopter.com, you will need to enter your ID number. You can find this at the bottom of your "About" section of your Facebook page. Rafflecopter will pull up your most recent posts and you just need to select it and scroll down to the bottom to click on "Pick a Random Winner." The great thing is that the likes and comments will help more people to see your page and give you more exposure. #winning.

Flash freebies: For this, you really only need to post about the freebie. Many sellers like to do a series of flash freebies for big milestones, like 1,000 TpT followers, or blogiversaries. If you want to do a whole day of these, or even a few hours of these, the best thing to do is to schedule your posts. Have participating sellers send you links to their products and you can do a post ahead of time about it. 

5. Be a pal! Like, friend, comment, & share other people's posts. If you want people to connect with you, connect with them. When someone asks a question on their post, respond. People will notice that you're engaged and you will get more people to comment back to you.

I hope these tips have been helpful! Try a few of them out this week as part of our #tptSMSurge :)

Don't forget to use your TpT Social Media Checklists freebie to help with all of your Facebook planning!

Remember that time you went to a required professional development and it was actually worthwhile and informative? Last September, this happened. Not only did I learn something worthwhile, but it has inspired me several times over to create new learning projects. This glorious idea was a concept called lapbooks. While I'm sure this isn't rocket science, it is a newer concept for me.
Using a file folder and printables, kids can cut and paste and explore their way through any topic. For December, we delved into snow and Snowflake Bentley. We researched snow and read the story about the man who first photographed snow. In our lapbooks, we worked on a glyph, found some vocabulary, asked questions, charted our new knowledge, created a timeline, and evaluated our story. So many things in one file folder! The best part- my students LOVED it! They wanted more. The lapbooks were amazing because they engaged my students and had them practicing a variety of skills. I was impressed at how well they comprehended our story.
My CCF lapbook! http://bit.ly/1MEsK8h

JGP lapbook :) http://bit.ly/1JtrCB5
As any good teacher knows, too much of a good thing can make it boring, so I held off creating more lapbooks until my five-years-in-the-making Roald Dahl author study.
I was able to create two lapbooks- one for James and the Giant Peach and one for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory- which helped me to differentiate for the multiple groups in my classroom. We created fun covers for our books, delved into character traits, extensions (postcards from the peach and factory adventures), evaluated the novels, researched Roald Dahl's life, and even practiced a little grammar. It was easy to pull a small reading group while others worked on their lapbooks. And the best part- my students still LOVED them! They wanted to make more of them.

I ended creating one more- an End of Year lapbook that worked to preserve our amazing memories of fourth grade. Plus, it was engaging during that final week of school (you know, when everyone is worn out and they have the attention span of a goldfish- including the teachers!).

The lapbooks have been so fun that I'm still finding more ways to incorporate them into my classroom. I've created lapbooks for so many of my favorite novels including: Matilda, The Westing Game, Charlotte's Web, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and more! See what I've come up with here. 

Have you ever had an inspiring pd? 

5 years ago…that seems like so far away right now!

5 years ago…was 2010.

I was 23. It was the summer of my 5 year high school reunion. (This year will be our 10th!) Here's a pic from 2010's reunion (I'm bottom right-we were such babies!):

I was in-between houses, crashing at my parents’ house before completing my move from the suburbs into the city Baltimore. I didn’t even have a job teaching yet…that would come the day AFTER I signed my lease for the cutest littlest house in Canton. That house now has 2 years of memories (lots of macaroni and cheese and wine). My former roommate (also a teacher!) and I are still very close- she was one of my bridesmaids!

After moving into that house, I would meet my neighbors next door, one of whom was my future husband. A momentous occasion in 2010 that I didn't even realize was so important back then!

SO much changed that year, but it was definitely a meaningful year when I made some lasting friendships and met my dream guy, the-boy-next-door.

In another five years...maybe I will....be a mom? A WAHM? Still blogging? Still teaching college? Live in the suburbs? Have another dog (one is never enough, even though I love my muppy!)? The possibilities are exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time!

I'm linking up this post with some other amazing teachers, starting with Monica from I Heart Grade 3. Check out more blast from the past posts by clicking on the link.

I'm linking up with Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the first time :)

Listening: I love beaches and I've been getting into HGTV. Watching all of the renovation shows is addicting. Hubby and I are looking to redo our bathroom and this is giving me so many ideas!

Loving: Tana French was introduced to me last December through a book club friend. The Secret Place is her fifth (and last) book. I hope she's working on more because I love this murder mystery series. It's different from everything I've read- dark & twisty (think Gillian Flynn) and features a new main character from the Dublin Murder Squad each time. 

Thinking:  My best friend lives in Florida and I live in Maryland. This means we don't get to hang out a whole lot. I'm SUPER excited that I'm going to see her this upcoming Friday!!! I cannot stop thinking about it :)

Wanting: Summer has been about a LOT of yummy foods (especially ice cream!). It's so hard to eat healthy!

Needing: Running is what balances out all of my eating. I have no problem running several miles when it means I can eat more of that tempting ice cream ;)

All Star: I've been doing a lot of planning- my upcoming Florida trip, my road trip vacation with the hubs at the end of the month, this brand new blog, an exciting social media initiative with my PA TPT friends, and more TPT projects to work on. Planning, planning, planning...

Time to get back to all of that planning...

If you read my previous post, you know that I took a lot of English classes in high school and college, which is partially due to my love of books and a lot to do with my love of language. I love writing papers almost as much as I love reading books. I appreciate authors who use specific language, and I like to use it when I write and when I speak (even if it sounds funny sometimes). Just this past weekend, I told my husband that we could meander on our way back to our hotel. He thought this sounded a little silly, because we were just walking, but that's the word that came to me. We weren't walking, running, ambling, strolling, or any other word related to walking as much as we were meandering. It just fit. 

Anywho. The point of my love affair with language is that I have been brainstorming about a quote that means a lot to me. This is hard because I'm obsessed with quotes and am picky about language. I have a Pinterest board that is mostly composed of quotes here. I thought about this for awhile, and there are many contenders, but this is the one that resonates with me most clearly:

My grandmother always told me to be nice, and if I wasn't going to be nice, then I should just stay quiet. My parents instilled manners into my siblings and me from an early age. We said please and thank you for everything. Being nice and polite have always been important to me.

To me, kindness is a combination of those two things. It is something that is universal to all people, like a smile. If you have nothing else to give, give someone a smile. It costs you nothing, but to them, it could mean anything. Smile for someone, hold the door for someone, give someone a thumbs up or high five, write a "thinking of you" card and pop it in the mail...be kind to others because kindness is universal. 

The second reason I like this quote has to do with my first year of teaching. I was lucky enough to teach a third grade inclusion classroom for DHH (deaf/hard of hearing). This was one of the coolest experiences I have had. I do not know sign language and had an interpreter for my DHH students in addition to the support of an amazing special educator as my co-teacher. When I struggled occasionally with understanding my students and with them understanding me, I hoped they understood that I meant everything with kindness and always wanted them to feel included in everything in our classroom. 

Also, this experience showed me how easily kids can communicate through kindness. Just a smile to one another, and it didn't matter if there were anything differences, physical or otherwise, between them. Smiles, and kindness, are universal. 

Do me a favor, and give someone random a smile today. Spread kindness.

The close second (um, and third) quotes: 

***This idea for this blog entry came from the Weekly Summer Link Up from I Heart Grade 3. Check out more blogs entries about favorite quotes here!***

So I'm starting a blog- another, new exciting adventure! I'm hoping to write about teaching, books, Pinterest adventures (baking & crafts!), TeachersPayTeachers ventures, and more.

Writing comes naturally to me (an accidental almost-English major). Throughout high school and college, I took every English class I could in-between required classes, including many creative writing courses. Mostly, I can't believe that I took this long to get started! 

A little about me: I'm a born-and-raised Marylander (I bleed orange and purple), just got married back in October 2014 to a wonderful man, and am obsessed with my two fur babies- a rambunctious yellow lab named MacGyver and a sassy but loving street kitten named Skitten. I work a million and one jobs, play lots of social sports, love the sun, sand, sangria, & summer, and read books by the zillions. 

That's all for now...I'm excited to make some blogging friends and see where this adventure takes me! :)

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