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I never really considered online teaching until I realized that with 4 kids our doctor bills were getting outrageous. I googled online teaching jobs, and I found VIPKID. That day changed my life.

I found a new love for teaching. Each day I wake up and start my day teaching English to Chinese students. Do I know Chinese? Not a bit. But this company has paved the way for American and Canadian teachers to share English with Chinese students ages 5-12 with a unique online learning platform.
 

I set my schedule each week and I can work at little or as much as I want. I am pumped for summer, because I can open my schedule fully. The support from the company is amazing and parents truly want their kids to succeed. 

I don't create a single lesson. I don't have meetings. I'm not dealing with unrealistic admin expectations or crazy parent demands. 

I. Teach. 

I get supported. I get praised. I am offered incentives. 

I. LOVE. THIS. COMPANY.

If you are considering a second job or would like to broaden your teaching experience I encourage you to apply with VIPKID. 

I haven't regretted it one bit. The extra income as allowed me to pay of thousands of dollars in doctor bills. Remodel my house. And in a few weeks. I will have a new pool installed. None of that would have been possible without this company. 

With bonuses and incentives you can make $20-$22 per hour doing what you love without leaving your home. 

Trust me. Apply. You won't regret it! 
-Tracy


My transition room has been in a great deal of transition this year. Trying to find a schedule that works for us, curriculum that is on our level, and just getting a flow together has been exhausting! But, it's finally coming together!

As you may know, my district is 1:1 so every student in my room has an iPad mini. With that luxury does come some requirements. We have to use the tech obviously, but we are being asked to use Canvas (a learning platform mostly used at universities) in our classrooms. I could not wrap my head around how to get this to work with my T1 kids, but after much thought I finally developed interactive phonics lessons.

I created these lessons to follow my Saxon Phonics lessons. I will eventually have all the letters of the alphabet. Currently, I am creating on an "as needed" basis so it's random. I kept thinking I'd get ahead over Thanksgiving break but my house was hit with a nasty cold, so that didn't happen!

I was required to teach using Canvas for my long 40 minute observation. I used the following lesson for that observation and my admin loved it!

Phonics Lesson - Letter Z



These lessons are meant to be interactive. My students write in the missing letter, circle, draw lines, and get moving during these lessons. And the best part? They love them! I can keep their attention for the ENTIRE lessons. That's major for my wiggly kiddos.

I hope you find these lessons as useful as I do.

Enjoy!
-Tracy

P.S. If you love this lesson and want more just like it, please head to my TPT store.





I love being a teacher. It's all I've ever wanted to do. But, it doesn't pay the bills.



Especially when you are a family of 6 and have a special needs child and 3 more accident prone boys. Within 8 months 2 of my kids had major surgery, and I was left with thousands of dollars in doctor bills.

I started looking around for an online teaching position and I stumbled upon VIP Kid.

VIP Kid is an online platform for Chinese students ages 5 - 12 to learn English. It has been a perfect fit! I have to work a minimum of 7.5 hours a week but I have the option of working more. I teach 25 minute classes and then switch to another student.

VIP Kid makes the Power Points that you use and you have 25 minutes to teach a 25 - 35 slide Power Point. I typically teach phonics with some grammar, math, and geography thrown in.

Beijing is 12 hours ahead of Indiana so I teach a 6:30 am class followed by a 7:00 am class and then I leave for work Monday - Friday. On Friday nights I teach a class at 9:00pm, 9:30, and 10:00.

Saturday and Sunday I teach from 7:00 am to 9:30 and then I teach again Saturday night. I'm teaching while my kids are asleep so I'm not missing out.

And I get a nice pay check around the 15th of the month. I'm finally making a dent in all of my doctor bills!

If you'd like to learn more just follow this link.


Don't freak out about not having an ESL license. I don't have one either. If you know how to teach Phonics, you'll be great! 

-Tracy

I knew that this school year would be full of changes. I was moved from 4th grade to a new Transition to First grade room. I spent the summer planning and thinking my students to be lower first grade students. Turns out, it's more of a repeat kindergarten room with 11 students. I had to completely change my mindset.




At the beginning of the year I had 11 students that didn't know 26 letters / sounds. We didn't know our numbers, shapes, or colors. Not 1 student knew how to write a sentence or even how to write with spaces between words. I had 3 students that were spelling their names wrong, and 11 students that could not login to their iPads with their usernames/passwords. What we knew on Monday, we didn't remember on Wednesday. To say it was a shock would be an understatement.

I had to completely revamp my entire curriculum. I had to find resources. I had to figure out to make my schedule work. I'm just now starting to get into a routine. We are 32 days in, and I'm still not certain that my routine is working. I'm constantly making changes and pulling new resources.

So what resources am I using? Good question. I'm trying to stay away from curriculum they've already used. Instead of the new Reading Street series I'm using Reading Street 2008 and scrambling to find resources. If anyone has the weekly selection test book for Kindergarten please send it my way. The Reading Street Common Core assessments are entirely inappropriate. I want the weekly selection tests that were over the story we working on all week, but I can't find it anywhere!

For Math I'm using the Kindergarten Harcourt book.


After we finish the kindergarten book I'll move on to the first grade edition. 


I love the Scope and Sequence of this math series. I had to order 1 copy of the student workbook from Amazon and I make copies each week. But it's worth every penny! My district currently has enVision and I'm not a fan of it at all! Being given the freedom to go back and use Harcourt was a major plus. We are adopting Math this year and I hope we adopt Go Math for Indiana. It's more in line with this Harcourt series, and has a digital component. Fingers crossed! 

For some Harcourt Math resources click here. 

For Phonics our district uses Saxon. I tried to start with the first grade Saxon and that was kind of working until we hit blends. That was a major disaster and I went home in tears that day! After talking with our Title 1 Reading Instructor we decided to go back to Kindergarten Saxon. I'm only doing the last 2 days of each letter as that's more our level and will get us through the letters and onto blends/digraphs. Once I finish kindergarten, I'll go back to the first grade Saxon and start it over. 

I'm also creating digital Phonics Lessons that follow the Saxon Scope and Sequence. I plan on using these with Canvas our digital platform. It's similar to Schoology. Students will be able to annotate the slides with me while I monitor them using Apple Classroom. Stay tuned to my TPT store for these when I finish! I can't wait to share them with you. 

I'm also implementing Minds in Motion in my school. Minds in Motion is an AMAZING program that helps students with hand eye coordination, motor skills, balance, and this all carries over into the inner ear. You would be amazed at how much the inner ear has to do with student success. 

And on top of all of this I've started a second job as a VIP Kid teacher, and I'm in the middle of a basement remodel.

LIFE IS CRAZY!!

Stay tuned for a Blog post about being a VIP Kid teacher. I absolutely love it!
-Tracy



When I received word that I was being moved back to Scottsburg, I was also told I would be teaching a new classroom.  This classroom would be for students that did not need to repeat kindergarten, but they weren't ready for first grade either. It would be a "Gift of Time" room. I would have a max of 15 students. I would teach kindergarten the first half of the year, and first grade the second half of the year. At the end of the year my students would be promoted to first grade for the following year. 

I was told that I wouldn't follow the kindergarten curriculum or the first grade curriculum. I also wouldn't use the textbooks for those grades. I would have free rein on my curriculum. 

Hmmmmmm.......sounds like a dream doesn't it? 

But, this means that I'm winging it. I have no standards, I have no Scope and Sequence. That first week of school I will see where my students are, and I'll go from there. 

I'm a planner. I like to know what I'm doing, and how I'm going to do it. 

Right now, this new assignment feels very vague. I've tried Googling Transitional First Grade, and there isn't a lot out there. My TPT cart is full of materials that I think I could use, but again, I'm not sure. 

These are a few of the TPT products that look promising: 







Anyone else a T1 teacher out there? How does your classroom look? Pros/Cons? What works? What doesn't? 

-Tracy








Last night I was sitting in the yard with my sister when I heard the words every mother dreads to hear.

"Don't tell mom!"

I quickly jumped up from my chair and ran around to the side of the house where I found my twins, my dog, the neighbor boy, and 3 dead baby birds.

It seems that the neighbor boy wanted to check out the birds in the nest in the tree by the house. Gavin decided to get a stick and tilt the nest so they could see. As you can imagine, that did not end well. The poor birds along with the nest fell out of the tree, and my dog got to the birds before I did.

I was traumatic for all of us. I was beyond upset that the boys went against the "Stay away from the birds" rule that has been in place for weeks. I was alarmed that Gavin didn't seem to know how to act after the fact. I was upset that they their first instinct was to hide what they had done, instead of calling for help.

The neighbor boy was sent home. I disposed of the birds. Both boys were sat down and we talked about hiding things is not the way to handle things. We also talked about how animals deserve to be treated just like humans. It doesn't matter if it's a cat, dog, baby bird, etc. Neither of the boys were wanting to talk about how it happened, they were more concerned about why the dog attacked the birds. We talked for awhile, and the boys were sent to bed.

This morning both boys woke up and came and hugged me to say they were sorry. They then sat outside talking to me about the birds. This is when they told me there were 4 birds, not 3. I immediately put the boys and the dogs in the house, and I ran around to the side of the house. I quickly found baby bird number 4. He was still alive, and huddled up to a drainage pipe.

How my dog missed him, I have no idea.

I ran inside to get my husband to help me, and then donned my gardening gloves and went back out. I picked the bird up and we tried putting the nest back in the tree but it was crumpled and the baby bird kept falling/jumping out of it. Mommy / Daddy bird were close by and ticked off that I had the baby at this point. You can imagine the scene. I was huddled under the tree trying to get the baby while dodging Mommy / Daddy.

Hubby went inside to get a small box that we set the nest/bird inside of and we wedged it into the tree. We quickly backed away and Mommy / Daddy bird immediately went to the baby. We watched from a distance and Mommy / Daddy bird quickly went about feeding their baby.


Owyn and Gavin were thrilled that one bird survived. They are now banned from going near the tree and can only watch from a safe distance away. We then talked a great deal about how even if you think you're going to get into trouble, you have to ask for help when you need it. If you don't, others could be in danger. Animals should be given the same respect as people. I think the boys finally realize it. But I know that curious minds don't always think clearly. 

Gavin is our curious child. He always wants to be right in the middle and asking "Why?".  As a parent, it's hard to keep that curiosity strong, while keeping him and others safe. I don't believe for a minute that he wanted to hurt the birds. But, he didn't understand the consequences of  his actions either. Being young, and trying to figure out the world around you can be a challenge. 

Today I'm thankful that 1 bird did survive. I'm thankful that the Mommy / Daddy bird didn't abandon him, and I'm thankful for the teachable moment. 

Parenting is tricky business. 
-Tracy

I'm sure most of you have read a sexy shower scene in a romance book at some point in your life. #noraroberts fan anyone?

Keep that in mind while I tell you how that works in real life.

I was in the shower yesterday when my husband came in to check on me. I've had a terrible cough lately and I thought the steam would help. He did what any husband would do when looking at their wife in the shower and he kissed me, and then our oldest son started banging on the door yelling for my hubby.

Hubby closes the curtain and opens the door. Oldest tells him that our youngest son was messing around with the bird nest in the tree by the front porch. Hubby deals with that, and then shuts/locks the door again.

I hear him shaving. At this point I know I'm going to get kissed again, with no whisker burn. Woot! Woot!

Hubby walks across the bathroom. He reaches one hand up and grabs the shower rod while pulling back the curtain with the other hand. He leans in to kiss me and.....

He pulls the shower rod / curtain down on top of me.

While he's falling he somehow hits the shower head and pulls it down so water is now hitting me in the face.

He continues to fall and grabs the shower dial turning it to freezing.

He's half in the shower at this point fully dressed.

I'm frantically trying to untangle myself from the curtain, and trying to get the water to stop spraying me in the face at the same time. I finally get the curtain sorted, and I'm able to turn off the freezing water.

Hubby stands up dripping wet and looks mostly pitiful. I just started laughing.

Hubby turns around and grabs a towel for himself while I get the shower rod/curtain hung back up.

This is real life.

In romance books the shower is romantic.

In my life the shower is where I have a few minutes to shave my legs. Most of the time.

Often times my husband will come in and talk to me or a kid will sit down on the floor and talk to me. Why do we talk in the bathroom? I have no idea. It's just happened.

I have found out more about my kids while I'm washing my hair or shaving than at any other time. I know it's weird, but it's life. It's not unusual in our house and privacy is respected.

While my shower scene may not be romance book worthy, I wouldn't change it. It shows that hubby and I can laugh at ourselves and we get it.  Life, or even a moment in life, doesn't always go as planned.

Enjoy it anyway.

And if you get a sexy shower scene, I hope it doesn't end in cold water. ;)

-Tracy


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