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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Do student teachers have it easier now than 20 years ago?

I was having a conversation with a fellow co-worker about how today's student teachers don't seem as stressed about student teaching as we were when we went through it.  As I think back to 1999, I remember wanting to show a three-minute clip from a documentary for one of my classes.  That involved me setting up my VCR to tape it when it came on TV, taking that tape to the school and fast-forward to the spot I wanted, recording it onto another tape with our dubbing system, checking out a TV/VCR cart and finally having it ready for class.

Now, I search for a clip on YouTube, and I'm done.  3 hours of time down to 20 seconds.

However, I believe it is a different generation with different needs that our student teachers are teaching.

Who had it easier?  Hard to say.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Talk About Putting in Some Hours on TeachersPayTeachers!!

Holy smokes!  For the past two weeks I've been burning the midnight (and weekend) oil redoing every product I have for sale on TeachersPayTeachers.  I didn't really know what I was doing when I started.  For example:


1.      I had my items priced WAY too low.  I started out selling at $0.25 thinking I'll sell more this way.  Not knowing that there is a $3.00 minimum to checkout.  Therefore 99% of my items are at least $3.00 now. 

            Sales went up.


2.      I didn't have any previews in my items.  I spent HOURS adding previews to all of my items in a collage format so customers can see the whole item.  I know some people just take part of their item for the preview, but I like the collage way so I went with that. 

            Sales went up.


3.      My cover pages were tiny.  The titles were too small to see from the main page.  Therefore, I changed all of my cover pages by creating them in PowerPoint and setting the slide to 8" x 8" and saving the slide as a .jpeg

            Sales went up. 


4.      I started to bundle a bunch of my items together and offering them at a discsount compared to buying each item individually. 

            So far sales haven't gone up on these like I thought they would, but I'll give it time.


5.      I was adding my items to Pinterest directly from my TpT store.  This was a big mistake.  The cover pages are too small to stand out on Pinterest so I now use the cover file I created in PowerPoint as stated in #3.  

            Slowly getting some repins and followers on Pinterest


6.      I started adding hyperlinks to my products in my product descriptions.  Use this forumula in your description and just add the url of your product where it says WEBSITE and what you want it called where it says TITLE.  <a href="">TITLE</a>

            I can't wait to see how this pays off. 

So feel free to learn from my mistakes and do all of these things above right away.  Maybe you haven't done these things and you're already established on TpT and want to redo your products using the steps above.  I currently have 69 products.  My estimate is that over the last two weeks I've spent 40-50 hours working on fixing everything.  Will it be worth it?  I certainly hope so!

 Good luck!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I had a shop teacher in high school who would say, "You need some experience with a hammer and nail before I'll let you use the air nailer."  I didn't like that philosophy so much I was in shop class because I REALLY wanted to use that air nailer, but as I've gotten older I appreciate what he was implying.  At least for me, if I've done something manually, I usually have a better appreciation and respect for what the technology I'm using is making up for.  Before I simply push the buttons for 8 x 3 on a calculator I'm glad that I know why 8 x 3 equals 24 - not just because the screen says so.  (Yes, I looked back before typing more to make sure I had 24 as my answer...twice). 

Sometimes I wonder if we're taking things too fast before we've solidified the foundation.  The thing is, I'm not critical of technology at all.  I'm a HUGE techie, but I also grew up before a lot of the technology we use today was available so I have a different frame of reference.  Not that the way things used to be was better (let's take dial-up internet connections for instance), but the frame of reference is there.   
So, in your opinion, what are some aspects of education that you'd like students to know how to do "the old way" so they have a better foundation of knowledge so when they use the technology that is available today they understand what it is replacing?

P.S. - I own several air nailers now and think of that teacher every time I use them. 
So, in your opinion, what are some aspects of education that you'd like students to have a better foundation of knowledge in?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

How Teaching Was 15 Years Ago

So I have a student teacher this quarter and we spend quite a bit of time talking about the profession and what it takes to be a teacher today.  In our conversations I started thinking about what really has changed in my career from 15 years ago.   Here is a list of 15 changes from my first year 15 years ago:

1. Not one single student had a cell phone.  Neither did the teachers.
2. We shared a computer in our area that was on a cart.
3. We had to "reserve" the T.V. on a cart that had the VHS player
4. We didn't have a DVD player, but we did have laser discs (picture a DVD 10 times the size)
5. Grades weren't online - kids actually checked in with their teacher regarding their progress
6. We had grade level secretaries
7. Our school had one computer lab
8. No one ever said the words "common" and "core" next to each other
9. Over half of the parents came to conferences, now it's a quarter
10. YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter didn't exist
11. The number one drug moving through schools was marijuana - now it's heroin
12. To borrow a school computer for the weekend meant monitor, hard drive, keyboard, and mouse
13. The schools first digital camera to a 3-1/2" hard disk to save pictures
14. We didn't have security badge activated locks on any doors or security badges
15. We were allowed to use chalk.  Yes, you are reading this correctly.  No chalk.





But I am still surviving social studies.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Stock Market Activity

If you are looking for a fun way to teach students about the stock market have I got an activity for you! 

Stock Market Activity
I have used this in the past as a way for students to understand the power of purchasing stocks and the fluctuations in the stock market.  This activity has got even my most reluctant learners to participate because everyone wants to win. 

The students are given $50,000 to invest in 10 different companies and use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that has all of the calculations they need embedded in the spreadsheet.  The students are directed to the NASDAQ web site and away they go. 

You can set this up as a contest whenever you want.  I'm going to start this half-way through the 3rd quarter this year and have the competition run until the last week of school.  You'll have students that put the NASDAQ app on their phones and will get stock updates that they'll tell you about. 

I've found it helps students understand how much money can be made and lost as well as the impact of the global market. 


Monday, February 3, 2014

Welcome to the brand new blog of Surviving Social Studies!


Welcome to my blog!  I am in my 15th year teaching middle school Social Studies and have taught grades 7 and 8.  I've been a seller on Teachers Pay Teachers for a few years now and decided to add a blog that will link back to my store.  In my 15 years teaching I've taught courses in U.S. History, Geography, Political Science, Economics, Psychology, Sociology, and Anthropology and have lesson material available in my store that will hopefully be of use to you.

When I'm not teaching I spend my time with my wife and two daughters as well as run an online woodworking business on Etsy called Along the Ridge.  You can check out what I create on that site at or at

Needless to say I stay quite busy.  I hope that you subscribe to my blog and that you'll check back in once in a while.  I'd be happy to follow your blog as well. 

Until later!