Saturday, July 1, 2017

TpT Cover Design Tells All

What does a cover design say?  A lot! 
TPT Cover Design - Renee Dawn
I discovered that pretty fast, in creating products for TeachersPayTeachers!

I started with a couple of counting songs.  They're relaxing and meditative, and so they double as behavior management aids--though you can't tell from my first little foray.

I designed a cover--a thumbnail image--and uploaded to TpT.
Within a week I was tweaking it.
I learned to use PowerPoint instead of Word.  Here's the trick: you create a rectangular cover image for a product, 8 1/2 X 11", and then copy and paste it into a dedicated "Thumbnails" PowerPoint with 8X8" pages.  You rearrange the elements so they fit into the square, and save as a jpg.

Over time I added bells and whistles and a year later, I uploaded this: 

 counting to 100 song Renee Dawn

 And this:

You can't tell a book by it's cover.  Not the whole book, but you can tell plenty.
  • Did I take the time to research the common practices and expectations?  Yeeesss!
  • Did I put a LOT of thought into the composition, colors, and shapes?  Um...countless hours.
  • Did I sell the "sizzle" as well as the steak?  I mean, does the product look cool, and must-have for my targeted audience?  Well, it does to me, although I admit I'm biased.
Here are some more ideas:
  • Large, readable title (on a cell phone, the thumbnail might be less than an inch)
  • One or two large images: an eye-catching photo or clip art
  • A few key words, not cluttered
  • Indicate appropriate grades
  • Copyright notice
  • Logo in the lower corner, small
  • Color-coding; e.g., Math products are blue, ELA yellow
  • Repeating elements in all my cover designs:
    • Border element
    • Image placement
    • Artistic background
I'll be honest.  I didn't want to dredge up my ugly old thumbnails from the basement--where they cowered--buried and chained.  

I pulled them up to remind myself, that no one goes from zero to sixty in a second.  Everything takes time--and effort.
 The Perfect Lesson - Renee Dawn

No doubt, I'll keep evolving.  If I were starting over, I might make my scalloped border bigger, and all my title fonts plainer.

But for now, I'm happy to wander through my store and wonder how I ever climbed that super-steep tech-hill.

 Renee Dawn Cover Design

Want more inspiration?  You could roam around TeachersPayTeachers like an art museum.  These stores have great cover designs, and they couldn't be more different:

  • Stacey Lloyd's covers can be cinematic.  Look at her second page of products, as page one has mostly bundles.
  • Jadyn Thone uses pastels in original and classy designs.
  • Sara Rucker features huge letters in a rainbow of neon colors with a black script sub-title, and adorable clip art.
  • Danielle Knight is often cited as an all-around favorite.

I hope you're curious to experiment with your cover designs--and to combine your elements in a creative way.  You don't want to be too dull, or too wild, or to copy the next guy.  You want your store to stand out and represent you perfectly.  I can't wait to see!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

TpT HQ in NYC: A Field Trip

Teachers Pay Teachers has a new headquarters in New York City.  Want to take a field trip with me? 
At a meet-up yesterday...  

First stop: Union Square, AKA a portal to infinity.  There's a countdown clock--no, not the national debt.  This clock ticks away the seconds left in the day.  I guess it's a reminder to make the most of each one!  

The Public Art Fund website says it's "meant to convey the energy, exhilaration, and ultimate flux that is the essence of New York City."  And...a classroom anywhere in the world, I might add.

For us geeks--that's all of us, right?--it's 12:04 (reading from the left), plus 46.2 seconds.  Reading from the right, there are 11:55 hours, plus 13.7 seconds, and 7 hundredths of a second, left in the day.

The gold starburst next to the clock is a mystical "Metronome" Art that pulses with the city.  Steam bursts from it's center and a metal wand moves in phase with the moon.  A giant hand, cast from George Washington's statue--also in Union Square--is featured, of course.

You see where we're going with all this?  Like, down a rabbit hole--Ha!

Four blocks uptown is TpT HQ.  Karen (product manager from TpT) greets me downstairs and directs me to the elevators.  Now I'm in Primary Heaven.
Eleven flights up, the all-white hallway just past the sign-in desk is pristine.  Everything is pristine.  How do they do that?
Details, details.  See Chanel No. 5 above the restroom sink?  Does everyone at TpT smell like roses?

Well, everyone is sweet!  After a meet and greet--with Amy (Director of Seller Happiness), Adam (CEO), Shaeera (Newsletter Editor), Amie (Glitter Meets Glue) and Angela Watson (Growth Mindset pioneer)--I take a quick spin around the entire floor.  
 Modern and mid-century-mod buffs prepare to be enthralled.
Raise your hand if you like to day dream out the window.  ☪
We end our tour back at the front desk, with TpT mementos on the wall.
Amy and Adam lead a discussion about the changes coming to TpT. 
It's leap of faith.  Doesn't TpT--like any great teacher--always tweak things till they're a raving success?

And don't the flowers in Amy's hair reassure you that everything will be OK?

I love it when Adam says, "The most dangerous thing is if I stop hearing the truth."
More details:  There's Jillian Hochdorf with the long brown hair and glasses, running the slide show.  Just beyond her is Kimberly (Alferi), who is impossibly elegant and kind, and who knew the founder Paul, before TpT was up and running.  Her products were among the first posted.  Further back is the lovely Anne Gardner.

Do you see the black and white checkered bags here and there?  They contain 2 baguette sandwiches, chips, an apple, cookie, and water.  I was too excited to eat at TpT, but the goat cheese and fig baguette was my lifeline on the trip home.

It was fun to meet familiar faces from the TpT forum: Kathy from Sunshine and Lollipops, Ellen from A Place Called Kindergarten, and Janet from Biology Music Videos.

A big shock was K from Pathway 2 Success and her uber-tech husband (Teachers Love Data).  They're NOTHING like what I expected.  From their poised, prolific, and astute presence on the forum, I expected...

Well, never mind what I expected.  It just goes to show, people will surprise you!  In a very nice way.  I'll just add, we ain't seen nuttin' compared to what's coming from Pathway.

So, with lots of vivid memories and a mint green TpT T-shirt in my bag, I wandered out into the busy street...

 ...past the world-class farmer's market.
And yes, I ran my hands through the sheepskin from the Catskill Merino Sheep Farm.  At $350 I was tempted, very tempted to drag it home on the subway.

Funny though, the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes didn't tempt me at all.  They just didn't smell enough like Italy, or the Earth, or whatever I thought 6 bucks a pound tomatoes should smell like.
Past The New School, an icon of creativity.  The 3D accordion glass windows made me think of two things: my steep learning curve at TpT, and also the success chart that the new changes will bring--if I work like crazy for it.  

I also thought: Hey!  TeachersPayTeachers is the New School!

Well, I hope you enjoyed our field trip.  We'll have to do it again sometime!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Father's Day Cool Cards

Father's Day is cool and easy with these printable cards.
  Father's Day Card - Renee Dawn

Just print, fold and write "I love you, Dad!"  Then add from a selection of stylish ties in this Father's Day Card Kit.

Kids can get creative.  If they brainstorm zebras and stripes, they might come up with something like this:

Dear Dad,

  • Don’t change your stripes.  You’re perfect the way you are!
  • I’m wild about you!
  • You’ve earned your stripes!  Thanks for being a great dad!!
  • I love your stars and stripes!
  • A zebra’s kid never falls far from the tree!
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Zebras are cool
And so are you!

Would you kindly share your kids' zebra bon mots with us?  Bring 'em on, the corny ones, too.

  Father's Day Card - Renee Dawn

Father's Day keeps getting cooler and more creative.

So...what else can you say to a cool, sweet, wonderful dad?

  • You’re one cool cat!
  • You’re spot on!
  • You’re the sweet spot in my life!
  • You’re my safe spot!  Thanks for being a great dad!
  • Don't change your spots.  You're perfect the way you are!

 Father's Day Card - Renee Dawn

A home-made card tells Dad that he's special enough to take your creative time and effort.  This kit has a template and photo tutorial for making a gorgeous collage tie.

And an insert to write your message.  

  Father's Day Card - Renee Dawn

“You’re the best dad in the universe!” -- though it might conjure up images of odd dads on other worlds.

   Father's Day Card - Renee Dawn

“My love is tailor-made for you!” -- perfect for this Father's Day shirt card

“I just want to say, 'I love you so much'!”  You can never say that too often.

Of course, the best Father's Day gift is spending time together.  Quality time--a hug, a thank you, recalling good times, and creating great new memories. 

  Father's Day Card - Renee Dawn

Whether you're celebrating your own dad or a father-like figure in your life, I hope you have a wonderful Father's Day.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Day Craft Box in Red White and Blue

Memorial Day...
I like to get kids talking about what Memorial Day really means.  I use internet images to get the conversation started.
This Memorial Day craft box is a lovely keepsake to capture the feelings of the day.

For creative ideas on how to use this craft box, see what other teachers have done.  I'd love to hear your ideas, too.
For more Memorial Day crafts...
My kids never get tired of making Number Chart Robots.  And I never get tired of making the math-literacy-art connection.

To our armed forces, thank you for your service.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Easy Behavior Management with Game Charts

Easy behavior management?  Yes, please!
It's the end of the year, with spring fever, final assessments, and the full moon--all at once.  My easy solution?  Behavior management charts.
 As soon as my kids walk in the door, I color a dot on the chart and say, "Thank you for walking in so quietly.  You just got a dot."
 When they open their homework books quietly they get another dot.  Same for...
  • Doing their morning work
  • Putting book bags in the closet 
  • Continuing their morning work
  • Closing their books and organizing their tables
  • Coming to the meeting area
Sometimes they get two dots in a row, just because they're so wonderful.  By the time we're at the meeting area and we've finished a little morning talk, they have 10 dots.

Their prize?  I open on the SMARTboard.  The very best behaved child of the day gets to choose a fun action song.  Some of our favorites:
  • Peanut Butter in a Cup - Moose Tube
  • Purple Stew - Moose Tube
  • Chicken Dance - Maximo
  • Clap it Out - Blazer Fresh Hip Hop Trio
  • Class Dismissed

We get a few minutes of respectful zany-ness.  By that, I mean, no touching or talking, and no dangerous moves.  If someone breaks a rule I stop the video, and say "You're talking."  (or whatever they did)  Then I ask the child to move to a spot a little further out from the group and we all continue dancing.  Sometimes I simply point to a child, and put a finger on my lips while smiling, or wag a finger.  No bad feelings.

It's a great way to punctuate the day!  We have more dots and other treats during the day:
  • Run outside for 3 minutes
  • Free-style dance to a pop song
  • Stomp around the room while we count to 100
  • Talk to a friend for 3 minutes
I recycle my behavior management charts.  The first time around I put a neon dot.  Next go-round, I place a black dot in the center.  Then I put a big circle around the dot, then an X, and finally a check mark above it.
I use my behavior management charts for other things, too.  They work wonderfully well for a single child's good behavior--with a bonus letter home and an award certificate.

And I'm using a chart to count down to the final day of school:

 Now that my kids' behavior is stellar, it'll be bitter sweet to see them go!

Then the silence really will be deafening.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mother's Day Card Easy Printable

Mother's Day is a must-do craft.

It also falls in the middle of test week--and test prep.  What to do?

I like this card because it's easy and beautiful.  Print and go.

While kids are coloring their pop-art beautiful hand images, I can do a little one-on-one academics to prepare for the big tests.  Not fun, I know, but necessary.

Our Mother's Day cards get bumped up a notch by gluing a few tissue paper balls on the cover.  It's simple to make a big impact.  Simply place a tray or basket of tissue squares on each table.

BIG glue tip: For quick and easy gluing, have one child walk around the room and place a few dots of glue--one on each flower--for every card.  Kids love scrunching up their little tissue balls and placing them artistically on the page, but squeezing out glue is optional.

Your glue monitor can make a second round, to fill in the blanks.

Finish off the cards with a simple picture and phrase inside.  

I love you, Mom
You're the best mom ever!
Let's reach for the stars

It will warm Mom's heart, and it will be stress-free for you.  That's a whole lotta love.
Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Teacher Appreciation Week Sale!

It's Teacher Appreciation Week!  Let's celebrate with a...drumroll...
All my teacher resources are 28% off with Coupon Code: THANKYOU17

Here are some delightful choices:

A gorgeous Mother's Day Card, with dozens of suggested phrases you can use for any occasion.  This easy printable works well for a Thank You, Friendship, Graduation, or Memorial Day veterans card, or to send any thoughtful message.

A butterfly mask or flying butterfly craft to celebrate spring, symmetry, or your unit on insects.

A keepsake Memorial Day craft box.  One buyer placed paper mache hearts inside to give to veterans.  Another hung them from the classroom ceiling with different length strings.  There are wonderful possibilities...

A Substitute Teacher's Survival Kit with tons of tips, printables, teacher scripts and lessons, so you will be calm and confident in the classroom.  

NOT JUST FOR SUBS, this guide makes a great refresher course or a comprehensive sub binder for the regular teacher.  If you need to take a day off, no worries!  This Sub Binder will assure that your class was in good hands.
Or my all-time favorite, this in-depth guide to the Perfect Lesson.  It features checklists, charts, cheat-sheets, insider tips, scripts, class posters, lesson plans and lesson plan templates for an expert Danielson teacher evaluation in K – 5.

Whatever you do, end the school year with 28% off, and enjoy every bit of it!