Sunday, September 29, 2013


Well, I'm here to apologize!  My son had gotten ill Friday night and kept us up ALL night.  I was a walking ZOMBIE on Saturday! I was hoping to get it done today but I didn't make it.  So that means NBC Sunday is postponed til next week.  Have a great week and see you then!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

NBC Sundays #2-Scholarships

This week's post is about how to find those scholarships.  (I had much more to say about this than I anticipated so I'll save my discussion on entry 4 for next week.)

The easiest way to look for scholarships is to go straight to the NBPTS website.  On their fees and financial support page they have direct links to many different scholarships. On that page (click here to get there) they have listed links to state and local funding and corporations/foundations who will fund. It is IMPORTANT to note that in order to qualify for these scholarships you MUST pay your initial fee FIRST.

So let me tell you MY story about getting full funding.  I got the $1200 state scholarship with no problem  (this has since been suspended in the state of CA).  To get the Amgen scholarship I had to act quickly.  I can't quite remember the process exactly but it was something like you log on to the NBPTS website and click a link or send a message.  They open up those scholarships at a certain time at a certain hour and it's first come first serve. I MISSED IT.  Yes, I missed it!  I had too much going on and I just plain forgot to sign up.  

Luckily, my friend who was also going through the process (thank you Aun!) found out that we could get the very same scholarship through National University!  
National University

They have a free support program and were also allocated funds from Amgen for scholarships.  Even after her and me (and 2 other colleagues of mine) received scholarships from National University there was still scholarships left!  So while the scholarship money allotted to NBPTS had run out quickly, National University still had plenty.  We were lucky thanks to the hard investigative work of my colleague.

They also mention loans offered by NEA and for veterans but obviously I encourage you to seek out scholarships.  It is not a cheap process!

So briefly I want to mention that there are free support networks out there for you.  As mentioned earlier National University carries out a program on campus or online.  I could never make either of their sessions.  I did however make it to CTA's (California Teacher Association) 3 day seminar last summer and that was probably THE BEST thing I did to get familiar with the process.  Our presenter got us organized and started on entry 4.  CTA's support is also free.  It is run by Stacy Begin who was the presenter at the 3 day seminar and she held meetings throughout the year as well as online classes. (Stacy is on twitter at @STBegin) Both of those programs are funded through a grant (if I remember correctly!) which allow it to be free.  My district offers a support program but it was going to cost $500 and I really didn't want to pay anymore expenses.  

At this 3 day seminar by CTA they encouraged us to seek out other funding from local businesses in our school's community.  They talked about writing letters, setting up meetings and networking with people in the community who would like to help the local school.  One suggestion was to approach real estate agents.  Make your case as having a nationally board certified teacher in the local school would be a good selling point for them, possibly increase home values as the schools had highly qualified teachers.  Another suggestion was to approach any business who funds little leagues, such as pizza parlors.  They could also market that they helped fund a teacher which in turn helped the children of the community.  The best way to get this type of funding is to be creative and to be personable!  

Good luck in finding a scholarship for yourself and I'll see you next week to talk about entry 4!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

NBC Sundays #1

Those of you who follow me are aware that last year I went through the National Board Candidate process. So what I've decided to do is make Sundays my NBC Sunday and write posts that will help you prepare for candidacy and if I didn't pass also help me stay focused to redo whichever part needs to be redone!

Today's post is all about organization. Now that the school year has already begun it is so easy to say I'll put it off to tomorrow...or next week...or even next month! If you can avoid it please do! I had every good intention to stay on my outlined path but did I? No! So how did I spend the week before I had to turn the paperwork in? Yes cramming and rushing and praying I wrote well enough to impress the reader who would be scoring my work! Which is why I sit here wondering if I passed rather than feeling confident that I did a great job.

So what I had done with my cohort is map out on the calendar when each task would be completed. So here was our plan: 

1. Mid-August - Finish entry 4, teacher accomplishments (before school begins)

2. October - Finish entry 2, social studies/arts

3. January - Finish entry 3, math/science

4. February Finish entry 1, writing

5. Sign up for the exam in January (which was actually pushed back to February this year).

IF I had actually stuck to this schedule then May would not have been so stressful! 

HOWEVER, making a schedule (whether you follow it or not!) would be pointless if you haven't paid your $565 to NBPTS. Just as early as last year they were still sending boxes out but they have since gone digital and everything is turned in online. I was a part of the first digital group! (The boxes were for turning in your portfolio and now its an ePortfolio). There are scholarships of all kinds and maybe you'll qualify. I was able to get a $1200 scholarship (which is no longer available) and a $750 scholarship from Amgen. It meant the only fee I paid was the $565. Without a scholarship you are looking at just over $2500. It's not cheap so find those scholarships! 

This week I encourage you to make a schedule and keep to it so you don't suffer like I did! (Unless you work well under pressure)

Next week I'm going to focus on where to look for scholarships and entry #4.

I wish you luck if you are going to do this process and want to let you know I'm here to go through it with you!  I enjoyed the process even though I was a procrastinator and am looking forward to helping others!

Good luck to those of you who decide to do this!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sight Word Program now in TpT!

Well time has literally FLOWN by since having baby J!  It's been 7 weeks since he arrived and I knew I'd have to get those favorite things posts up BEFORE I had him and turns out I was right! I still have 2 more product reviews sitting in my post list just waiting for me to finish them up and share with you.  Those will come out {hopefully!} before September is done.  If not, I guess I'll just wait til next summer since they are beginning of the year products.  Why not?!  I've postponed it this long, right? *sigh*

So even though I was delightfully sidetracked with my sweet newborn I was determined to get this product finished and up on TpT. (especially since I needed it for my return to work next week!)  So on to the product!  It is a high frequency/sight word (whichever term you like to use more!) program.
Click {here} to pick yours up on TpT!

In the past I've begun this program by talking about how we are going to be working towards the most ultimate, incredible, fantabulous ice cream party. And of course that draws their interest in and I've found that this has been an incredible incentive for my students!

Now I must tell you that I have run this party 2 ways.  In years when a lot of children have learned 60+ words they only get what they've achieved at the ice cream party.  Each list they complete earns them one more ice cream scoop or topping.  BUT in years (like the year I taught Transitional Kinder) where the little ones didn't get anywhere near 100 we just had an ice cream party where they could pick what they wanted on one scoop of ice cream.

The first time someone can read 10 words we celebrate!  I give that child a certificate and make a big, BIG deal.  This is what the certificate looks like.  There is one for each level but there is also a generic certificate without a background that you could copy in mass and keep on hand.

This year they'll be tracking their progress on this little graphic:

There is a "topping-less" ice cream graphic to my packet if you want to go the 3D way and use art materials for the sprinkles and mini chocolate chips!

I've also created word cards that can be posted on your word wall.  They look like this:
But once again if you'd prefer to give it a background of your own I've also created word cards that have no background so you can personalize it to your classroom.

And how to keep track of their progress you ask?  Well, there is also an assessment piece to this program! There is a master checkoff list AND a checkoff for each individual list.  Like this:

The students will look at this list of words while you check off on your sheet above:

(Student Material)
OR further along in the year you may want to use this list:

I have an assessment folder where I keep all my student materials and I'll just tuck a stapled copy of the checkoff lists in the front pocket.  That way I never lose my master list or the student lists!

For my students' writing folders they must have a list they can access while in the writing workshop time.  So I've created this freebie for you! (It is a part of the packet as well) To get this freebie just click on my freebie link above. :-)

In kindergarten I work towards 100 words.  Seeing all 100 can be intimidating at the beginning of the year.  So the first time they are working with the lists in writing workshop I print out the first student material list, which contains only list 1 & 2.  This list will last through to the first reporting period in November.  After that I put in the list with all 100 words.  However, if a child is easily distracted and just can't focus enough to pour through the 100 words to find the one they are looking for I will print out more of the student material lists for them.  The freebie will also include all 200 words on one page for you first grade teachers (and end of year kinders!)

And lastly, parent involvement.  You do all you can do in class.  That's a fact.  But how about at home?  As a part of their daily homework my little ones are going to be getting this worksheet this year:

There is a list to go home for EVERY level with instructions in English AND in Spanish. I've also put in parents letters in English and Spanish!  There is an introductory letter which explains why reading sight words is so important and informs the parents of what list their child is beginning on and also there is a shorter letter that I attach to the list each time a new one goes home.  When the new list goes home it includes the parent letter, the list and their certificate of achievement for passing the previous level.

OK, so that was A LOT of information!  If you're still reading this and you've decided to purchase my program I have one itty bitty request! Please take pictures of your class party and send them my way!  I'd love to see how far each of your little ones got! Oh, and thanks for sticking through this LONG post!