The #1 Overlooked App for Busy Teachers: ColorNote


Okay. So there’s this motto, “Never let them see you sweat.”  And then there’s my motto, “Never let them see you sweat even when you feel like a hot mess.”  This motto applies in a plethora of situations.  Trust and believe.

TeachTees, how do you keep your demeanor calm, cool, and collected even when you have a million things to do on your to-do list?  And remember, you are not just a teacher…you have a big, complicated, meaningful life that you have to live and contend with.

The answer:  Colornote.

Yes tried and true. This very simple app (and I promise the creators don’t even know me, though after this post I think I’ll introduce myself) is the best app since app (yes I said the best “app since app”).

It’s simple. There are two ways to create lists:

  1. Text – Type away your random thoughts, poems, songs, favorite quotes you hear or read, information people say to you while you are on a call, information you need handy (since your phone is always with you), lesson plan ideas, drafts, etc. etc.
  2. Checklist – Make your grocery list, kid list, classroom list, bulletin board list, data list, wish list, household chores list, etc. etc. and tick them off once they get done.

I’m a lot ocd so I have to do lists or else my brain will explode (hyperbole hyperbole)…I don’t know what your situation is…but chances are if you want to reduce your stress level and just be a little more collected…make lists until your thumbs hurt.

You can also color code your list and sort your list by created time, modified time, alphabetically, or color.

There’s calendar syncing and backup with gmail, reminders, sharing options, lock, web search, and the list goes on and on.  Just check out the ColorNote website or your Google Play Store.

There’s something magical about lists.  And I promise this is true.  Once you write it down, it gets done.  You’ll surprise yourself by the stuff you get done simply because you wrote it down.  It may not be today or by someone else’s bogus or insanely improbable (impossible) deadline, but it’ll get done.

And remember, you are only human, not a machine.

If anyone treats you like you are a machine, you know what they can really do, right?

P.S. IPhone users, you are on your own with this one. I believe ColorNote has an IOS version, but I’m strictly talking about the ColorNote app on Android.

Later TeachTees.

5 Amazing Things That Only Happen to Teachers During the First Week of School


1.  You are the most interesting person in the room.

Savor the first week of school as students size you up and down.  They are determining which teacher will be the weak fence they will jump on and shake for the rest of the year.  They are determining which teacher will be strict and which teacher will be fun.  Forget about the icebreakers.  Double-down on who you want to be known as for the rest of the year!  First impressions matter and first impressions stick.

Tip#1:  Do not try to be the fun and/or cool teacher.  You’ll be chasing your tail all year if that’s not true to who you are.  Slap them in the face with school work (metaphorically speaking of course)!

2.  You don’t have much grading to do.

You get to go home with some short paragraphs or essays about who students are..or you could simply have them fill out a flash card.  If you are like me, you’d skip the paper trail and have them tweet or post on Edmodo their personal introductions.

Tip#2:  Avoid the paper trail.  It will follow you to your grave.  If paper is a must, have students grade and or give each other feedback on their work.  The paper does no good sitting on your desk, under a paper clip, or in a file.

 3.  Your administrators throw you the keys to the supply closet.

Need bulletin board paper?  Need dry erase markers?  Need post-its?  Chart paper?  Now’s the time to ask.  (And steal a few while they aren’t looking.)  They all want you to have a great first week so your wish is their command.

Tip#3:  If they are already being stingy, go to my TeachTee Deals page to find out how you can snag some free resources.  Otherwise you’ll be coming (bleeding) out your pocket the whole year.

4.  You bring your lunch to school.

Over the weekend you cooked a fantastic 10-course meal and then cut up the leftovers to make a gourmet wrap alongside your fresh squeezed green juice since you are trying to lose weight.  Pump your brakes, how long will you keep that up??  Soon you’ll be throwing chalk and erasers into your mouth as a snack.

Tip#4:  Get a microwave and a fridge in your classroom.  Stock up on healthy frozen meals..  Grocery shop during the middle of the week (research says Wednesdays) for the best deals.  Stock up on fruits and vegetables.  Keep your weight and stress in check by setting yourself up for success.

5.  You talk to other teachers about non-school related issues.

How’s your son?  How’s your back?  How was vacation?  Can I see the pictures?  Soon these questions will be replaced with:  How long will you be at the copy machine?  I’m so tired of these kids.  What do they want us to put up on the board again?  Common Core what?  When is the bulletin board due?

Tip#5:  Teachers are people first!  Treat each other with respect and kindness.  You don’t know what lies behind each other’s demeanor.  Help each other when you can and avoid throwing each other under the bus.  Don’t lose yourself in the mumbo-jumbo.

Follow me on twitter @ttrspks and like my facebook page


Later, TeachTees.  I love you :0)


3 Wonderings You Have About the Shommon Shore err Common Core


3 Wonderings You Have About the Shommon Shore err Common Core

What a great article published on the New York Times The Opinion Pages, “The Common Core and the Common Good” in support of the Common Core by Charles M. Blow.

1.  At first, you certainly thought the Common Core was just some more mumbo jumbo for the education soup!  LOL.

But seriously, you think anything that seeks to unify standards across the board (the United States) has to be good right?  The sheer effort it took to have almost all states agree to them has to be applauded.

2.  However, you wonder if this solution is really the answer to the problem at all?  In other words, are the nation’s children lagging behind, as Charles so eloquently reminded us, because of some standards?

Ummm.  You don’t really think so.  Because you use the standards to teach, and really the language of the standards or what the standards are asking you to teach kids is really THE SAME THING AS BEFORE.  Really.

And if you are not a teacher…you don’t get it.  We’re still teaching the same concepts and skills as before.


3.  About that problem…can we consider the cultural differences and thus influences involved which cause other countries to surpass our nation’s “work ethics”?

What is the new-new motivation going to be for America’s children?  They certainly don’t lack intelligence, what a teacher will tell you is that they lack the motivation to pursue knowledge because the students don’t really “see” what the point of it is.

I could go on but,…aaah…another post another day.

By TeachTees!!

Chaos vs. Flow: “10 Steps to Better Student Engagement”


No I’m not talking about two rap “beefs”.  I’ll leave that to 2 Chains or 2 Chain or 2 Chainz…whatever.

Tristan de Frondeville, in his article, “10 Steps to Student Engagement” wrote about how project-based learning strategies can improve your everyday classroom experience.

He also said, and I quote, “As a teacher, my goal was to go home at the end of each day with more energy than I had at the beginning of the day. Seriously.”

Well, as a new mom, going to school part-time, teaching-by-day, tutoring-by-evening, and being involved in my school, I couldn’t help but to continue reading.

His Top 10 are as follows:

1.  Create an Emotionally Safe Classroom

2.  Create an Intellectually Safe Classroom

3.  Cultivate Your Engagement Meter

4.  Create Appropriate Intermediate Steps

5.  Practice Journal or Blog Writing to Communicate with Students

6.  Create a Culture of Explanation Instead of a Culture of the Right Answer

7.  Teach Self-Awareness About Knowledge

8.  Use Questioning Strategies That Make All Students Think and Answer

9.  Practice Using the Design Process to Increase the Quality of Work

10.  Market Your Projects

OOOOOOOhhhhh – This is great.  My 4 top “Take-Aways” from his article:

A.  “The Muddiest Point and the Clearest Point: What was most confusing about the work you did today, and what new thing was the most clear?”


C.  You can ask students to put a finger up when they’re ready to answer, and once they all do, ask them to whisper the answer at the count of three. They can answer yes, no, or maybe with a thumbs-up, thumbs-down, or thumbs-sideways gesture. That also works for “I agree,” “I disagree,” or “I’m not sure.”

D.  The Partnership for 21st Century Skills


The #1 Worst Thing That Happened to Education



The #1 Worst Thing That Happened to Education is Congress.

AP Interview: Duncan on reform and back to school (Where would we be without the Associated Press creating news and trickle-down talking points?)
Yep, that’s right.  I’m amazed at how a body of elected officials can screw things up–well no, not amazed, actually.

“Here you go squirrels, here’s some more nuts!”

Squirrels = us

Nuts = some more teacher jargon

That’s right, I’m calling the Common Core Standards some more teacher jargon I have to learn and become skilled in if I want to keep my job.

Common Core = A new set of dentures I have to put in my mouth so when I smile folks can tell I’m a “good” teacher who “cares”.

I just want to know where was Common Core over 100 years ago, before “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” commenced…and kids could read James Joyce before they hit puberty?

And what about, BEFORE integration (yes when schools were segregated) and so-called “low-income” and “minority” children were getting a stellar education DESPITE the lack of separate but equal resources?

Please read the following so you learn what I’m talking about:

1.  The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 A History of the Education of the Colored People of the United States from the Beginning of Slavery to the Civil War by Carter Godwin Woodson (May 17, 2012) FREE on your KINDLE

or 2.  Click here to get the FREE PDF Download:  The_Education_Of_The_Negro_P

Since laws are what solve problems…can somebody just pass an Education Continuity Law which hereby states that Congress shall not enact any more laws, herein and heretofore, that will make any more further changes to education to waste all our time and distract from the real problems in education (which have nothing to do with money and eh, hem, standards)?

My favorite lines from the article (If I have to tell you why, then you are not thinking):

1.  In an interview with The Associated Press, Duncan said he believes students will see the concrete effects of those changes when they head back to class.

2.  Duncan said these state plans could help guide Congress in coming up with a comprehensive plan to fix the No Child Left Behind law, which Republicans and Democrats alike say is broken.

3.  “Many, many states are emphasizing again not just the basics but a world class education,” he said.

4.  Duncan said the transition to the standards might be “a little bumpy or choppy, but it’s a huge step in the right direction.”


Top 10: The Don’ts and Don’ts of Teaching


Gary Rubinstein so eloquently explains what I wish every new teacher knew before writing a lesson plan.  Spot on, spot on.  I had to re-post.  Click here to read it.

Here’s his top ten with a Student-Teacher spin:

1.  Don’t try to teach too much in one day.

Teacher:  What!!  Tell me about it.  Hours spent planning the best lesson in the world, only for the worst student in the world to turn it to s&^*.

2.  Don’t teach a lesson without a student activity.

Student:  Yawwwwn.  Texting, texting, texting.  When will she tell me what to do?  Oh my god, I hate this class.  Let me break this pencil in half.  Let me rip up this paper.  Let me throw the back of an eraser at someone’s head.  If I don’t look at her and look uncomfortable, maybe she’ll stop.

3.  Don’t send kids to the office.

Student:  Hallelujah.  I’ve been acting up just because I can’t stand this class.  I’d rather go sit In Mr. Blank’s office–he gives me food and I get to eavesdrop on all the drama.  DEUCES!!  Let me secretly let my friends know how happy I am to be leaving.

4.  Don’t allow students to shout out answers.

Teacher:  Who do I listen to?  Who do I pick?  How do I control all these kids calling out, and then getting into arguments with each other?

5.  Don’t make tests too hard.

Student:  This teacher is retarded.  She didn’t teach us this!!!  So what I wasn’t paying attention.  I’m going to fail this class so I’m not even going to bother try to pass.

6.  Don’t be indecisive.

Teacher:  Ummmm, well.  Why?  Oh.  Well, yea, go ahead.

7.  Don’t tell a student you are calling home.

Student:  CALL MY HOUSE.  I don’t care.  My momma ain’t gonna do nothin’ anyway.  She didn’t do nothin’ the last time.  She ain’t even home.  She didn’t pay the bill and the phone is cut off.  I’m not even staying with her right now.

8.  Don’t try to be a buddy.

Teacher:  Tell me all your problems.  I will pretend to care.  Sure, you can comb my hair into a ponytail!

9.  Don’t dress too casually.

Teacher:  If I’m hip, the kids will like me.  Oops, didn’t have time to do the laundry–spent too much time on the lesson plan.  These kids look a mess anyway, why am I dressing up?

10.  Don’t babble.

Teacher:  When I was in Russia, I told him, “Stop, stop.  You can’t do this thing.  Let me tell you.”  So you see, when I say “stop” and you “stop” then we can do the thing.

All tongue-in-cheek of course!  Read his explanations by clicking here.