Monday, 9 November 2015

Improving Reading Comprehension

Reading comprehension is virtually impossible without a strong background in basic skills – firstly from the processing of individual letters and their associated sounds, to word recognition, to the processing of sentences and paragraphs in much longer and more complex texts.

From personal experience, I see much explicit instruction in the first of the basic skills mentioned, but not as much confident instruction in the skills required to make sense of more complex text - perhaps I am only speaking for myself…..! Not only did I require further professional development (a refresher), but afterwards I gave myself the challenge of creating my own resources to support what I had learned.

If you can’t find the relevant professional development, the following books come highly recommended:

Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor

Comprehension From The Ground Up by Sharon Taberski 

When comprehending, learners strive to process text beyond word-level to get to the big picture. The 6 comprehension strategies that will enable our students to get to where they need to be are the following:

Making connections

Regardless of the strategy being taught, the process of explicit instruction should remain the same:

Select the text
Explain the strategy
Model the strategy
Guided support
Independent practice

Some wonderful examples of the explicit instruction of comprehension strategies can be found below, courtesy of Christina DeCarbo.

Let’s connect what we know about comprehension strategies to Common Core.

The Common Core Reading Anchor Standard No.1 for Literature and Informational Text is:

“Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text."

To that end I created ‘Checkbox Challenge’ which I hope to make into a series.
By creating this pack I hope to encourage struggling readers from second to fourth grades to practice their comprehension skills, using non-fiction text with age-appropriate content.  
(I used this pack with my very able first graders)

Click here to find this product in my store
The texts vary in length, but I have tried to keep the sentence structure and vocabulary simple. The passages are mostly written within the third to fifth grade Lexile bands. A word of caution however - the levels should only be used as a guideline - some of the more challenging topic vocabulary increases the Lexile level. (This type of vocabulary is topic specific and students would not be expected to know it).

The pack contains 2 pages per topic, which can be printed back to back. The first page introduces the text and questions. On the second page, students can highlight the piece of text which contains the answer. Some questions may require the students to look beyond the text to infer the answer.

I have used this pack with my advanced first graders, although the basic premise is for intervention with older grades.

•The texts help students develop skills in retrieving information from text.

• The check boxes allow those students, who struggle with handwriting and writing skills, to demonstrate their understanding and achieve success.

• These texts are suitable for independent work and ideal for shared and guided reading. They are also suitable for small group work where reading skills can be modelled, practiced and developed.

NB: The preview contains an example of one text so you can evaluate whether it is appropriate for your students.

My wish is that ‘Checkbox Challenge’ supports your classroom curriculum, whilst engaging and improving your students’ comprehension skills

You can find more great comprehension activities for K-5 {here}

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Teacherpreneur Tips Mini-Series Part 1

So, folks – welcome to my first mini blogging series!

So, what is the aim of this series? 

  I have been selling teaching resources for 3 years now and I will not mince my words, it is not easy. It was a steep, steep learning curve, involving reading, researching, hours of hard work and commitment, asking friends’ advice, and reading some more! It really helps if you are a night owl, who does not sleep well! (It’s also useful to remember that google is your friend!). Don't begin your store thinking it will be a quick money maker - it's not going to happen!

However, it occurred to me that there are so many sellers going through the same process when signing up as a new seller. Why reinvent the wheel multiple times? Yes, some of us prefer to keep our best secrets to ourselves, as we are in direct competition after all, but sales and success usually come from creating a quality resource. So I thought maybe it is time to reach out to new sellers and be a kind of mentor. Don’t worry – I will be sharing my own tips and advice directly from my experiences and research. However, this is my disclaimer – I am NOT an expert, what I say should be taken as a guideline only. I am not a top seller, but I do hope I can save you time by sharing some of my best tips with you. After all, in the teaching profession, collaboration is key! I will be posting useful links throughout the series. Some of them may involve quite a bit of reading – please take your time when processing the multitude of information - there is no need to run before you can walk! (Permission has been sought from all authors I have referred to in this post).

This mini-series will run for the month of November, so keep checking back for the next chapter!


I would like to sell my teaching resources.
How do I do this? Where do I start? 

Well, you have multiple options! My personal preference is not to sell on marketplaces which target the same audience, e.g. Teacher Pay Teachers and Teacher's Notebook. I came across TpT first and have remained there since, as it is just the best community to be part of! I also sell on Educents - mainly because it targets a huge home-school market. The third site I sell on is TES Global - this is because it targets UK buyers. There are tons of sites out there - some more successful that others - choose carefully where you invest your time and consider what your long-term goals are.

For this chapter, I will use TpT as my main example - most sites are similar in make-up, although some have more functionality than others.

1. Premium Seller Status: If you decide you would like to sell on TpT, I suggest you become a Premium seller from the beginning, as opposed to Basic seller. Many people decide they will sell first, make the money, then invest it in Premium seller status. I would not recommend this at all. It can take some time to get your first sales on TpT - after all there are almost 100,000 sellers, so the competition is fierce. It takes time to build a following, to get repeat buyers etc, so it could be months before you have made enough money to invest in Premium seller status.
Basic seller fees:  No annual membership fee, 60% royalties (so 40% commission fee), plus $0.30 transaction fee in certain circumstances.
Premium seller fees:  Annual Membership: $59.95, 85% royalties (so 15% commission fee), plus $0.15 transaction fee in certain circumstances. 

So, if you do the Math, basically your earnings will double as a premium member! The annual membership fee is definitely worth it, especially if you aim to sell in large quantities.

2.  Seller Handbook: I would highly recommend that you read the seller handbook. I made so many mistakes to begin with and these could have easily been avoided by reading the handbook first. Welcome to TpT

3.  Copyright Information: It is extremely important that you become familiar with what you can legally sell on TpT. Please don't make the mistake of checking what other sellers are selling and assuming it is allowed. For example, although you may see lots of Dr. Seuss products on TpT, you cannot actually sell these products because of copyright. Same goes for Disney, Minions etc, etc! These large companies employ people to trawl marketplaces like TpT who get hit with multiple Cease and Desist letters. In these instances, TpT will quickly remove your products. Always check first - the best place to ask advice is the TpT forums. Copyright and Trademark Policy.

4.  Profile: Fill out your store profile - your buyers want to know who you are and what you do. If you can bear it, upload a photo of yourself! The psychology is that a buyer is more likely to trust you if they can see your face. I am currently considering this option - I have been hiding behind a logo for the last 3 years - I did want a degree of anonymity, but my circumstances have since changed, so you may see my face in future! (Profile pics showing too much flesh are a big no no - lol!). If you don't want your face to be seen, you can make yourself a logo or get one made for you. I would recommend having both square and round to hand. Here are some examples of buttons that I use. {N.B: These are also necessary if you are going to sell clip art - any sellers making resources using your clip art will want to credit you with a clickable link to your store. Some use text, but most will want to use your button}. Buttons will be crisper if you can make them using a program like Photoshop, but PowerPoint is just as acceptable. If you don't have the time or skills, it is worth investing a few dollars to have a designer make one for you - you want your store to look as professional as possible.

You can also do other cute things to your profile if you wish.  For example, I have added some social media buttons to mine using HTML.  There are a few options for your store quote section - post a cute or profound quote! You can also use this section to highlight resources with clickable links.  I use it to showcase my design store.  One thing that I would not recommend, which I see quite often, is adding a link to social media, e.g. a facebook page - what you are doing here is sending potential buyers away from your store!

If you would like to know how to add social media buttons, please ask and I will add a tutorial.  I would also direct you to this tutorial by Christi Fultz which explains how to add images and links to your store quote section: TUTORIAL

5.  Primary Free Resource:  You must upload a free resource in your TpT store before you can upload anything to sell. Make sure this is a good quality resource. Many buyers will judge your paid resources from this primary free resource. Make sure it showcases your style and professionalism.

6.  Dress up your store:  The main way to dress up your store is by adding a banner. I keep the same banner all year round - I tend to forget to change it up and have been known to have an autumn banner showing at Christmastime! I see many fabulous seasonal banners or banners highlighting an upcoming sale, but I just don't have the time to invest in this. Adding a banner gives your store that extra touch. It adds information, is eye-catching, and I believe it shows buyers you are committed to your store. It is also possible to add a link to your banner which can direct buyers to a new product you are excited about or a custom category - lots of possibilities. 
 The main banner is called the 'leaderboard' and you also have a second option to add a 'column banner' - located on the left hand side.

The video below shows you where to locate your banners, how to upload them and add a clickable link. I must apologize for this video - it is my first ever and when I am nervous I gabble and speak at a thousand words per minute! I was very aware of speaking S-L-O-W-L-Y and C-L-E-A-R-L-Y, but it resulted in a bit of a M-O-N-O-T-O-N-E! Hopefully you will find it useful though!

You have a few options when creating your store banners. You can create them yourself - this will depend on the time you have available and your skills. Again, they look much crisper when using design software, but they can be created in PowerPoint.

Below are some examples of store banners and the sizes you will need:

Teacher Pay Teachers: 706 x 90px (5.98cm x 0.76cm)

Educents: 1000 x 161px (8.47 x 1.36cm)

TES Global: 1146 x 250 (9.70 x 2.12 cm)

If you need a helping hand, there are many clip artists on TpT who sell store banners - you can then dress them up according to your requirements. Graphics From The Pond has a great free set for TpT stores to start you off: Dress Up Your Store Basics Pack - Make Banners and Badges  If you have absolutely no time at all - find a designer to help you!  Starting at $5, you can add a fabulous banner to your store!  I love Alexis Sanchez from Laugh, Eat, Learn - she is super easy to work with and very reasonably priced.

7.  Featured Products: The featured products section is useful to highlight seasonal products, bundles or series. Remember to change it out regularly.  Follow this path to find this section: Seller Dashboard>View and Edit Product Listings>Quick Edit>Status. You can have up to 4 resources featured - choose wisely!

8.  Customized Categories: Don't rely on the search bar in which ever platform you are selling! Some are better than others, but can be fickle. Instead imagine that a potential buyer has come across your store, you may have 10 pages of products - you want them to find the product they are looking for quickly. They will soon be put off scrolling page after page and quickly look for a store that does have customized categories. Initially, as you begin to create products, you will find each marketplace has a set of tags that you can attach to your product. This is fine to begin with, but as you build on quantity, you will find that your products begin to fit into easily customizable categories - utilize this to help your buyers stay.  Follow this path to customize your categories: Seller Dashboard>View and Edit Product Listings>Manage Your Categories. Don't forget to save!

I love these for category icons: or

9.  Data:  Teachers love data - right?!  Familiar yourself with your product data - it is important to see how each product is performing.  Is it overpriced?  Is it underpriced? Is it wishlisted? How many views has it had? etc. Find those statistics here: Seller Dashboard>Product Statistics.A good rule of thumb for your conversion rate is anything that is around 3% + is performing well.  If the % is very high, perhaps make your product more expensive - it is performing very well indeed!  Below 3% - you need to be asking yourself what you can do to make this product perform better.  
Also keep a daily record of your sales and productivity performance - this will keep you focused on your goals. Primary Paradise has a fabulous free Data Tracker here: Easy Stats Tracker Freebie 
It is also useful to track your monthly earnings from year to year - you want to see a pattern of growth.  Never compare yourself to other sellers - it can be very demotivating and demoralizing! Some sellers come out of the starting blocks with a bang, but most are slow burners like you and me!  With permission from Christi Fultz, click the pic below and find her fabulous Earnings Tracker!

So, that's it for Part One!  I am sure there is so much more, but I was aware that it was already a long read!  If you are ready to sell, just click on the pics below.  These contain affiliate links.  

Happy selling!

Chapter Two - Creating a Product - coming soon!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Freaky Friday tomorrow!

This is a closed promotion. We are not accepting new collaborators at this time.

This year there are 5 Fridays in October, so you will be treated to 'spook'-tacular deals for 5 weeks!
The deals started on October 2nd and will run each Friday through October 30th!

Here is how it works:
Each Friday the participating sellers will select one product from their store to mark down to just $1 for the day!

How will you find these products?
There are 2 ways:

1. Type freakyfriday into the TPT search engine

2. Click the links to the participating stores in the linky at the end of this post and it will take you directly to that store's $1 deal for the day!

  You can also click the first link- it will bring you to all the $1 deals of the day!

So what will you find from me this week?

Ready To Find All the $1 Deals for Week 1 of Freaky Friday?

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