Monthly Archives: November 2008

Saving Energy $$ and Being Green at the Same Time

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Using a screensaver is not energy efficient.  Put your computer and monitor on sleep mode when you aren’t using it.  Don’t leave it on during the day or night when you aren’t using it.  $600 million dollars in energy is wasted each year, according to Real World Green, by businesses not following these tips.

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If you need some encouragement to save on your heating bill this winter, try the “Freeze Yer Buns Challenge 2008″ at Crunchy Chicken Blog (Putting the mental in the environmental).
The idea is to pledge to keep your thermostat at a low level this winter. In our case, we always keep our heat at 68 in the winter and the AC at 78 in the summer (if we use the AC, that is).
As Crunchy Chicken says, “How low can you go?”
 
 

 

 

 

 

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How to Subscribe to This Blog and Other Blogs So You Can Keep Up With Changes and Additions

If you want to subscribe to this blog, go to http://www.google.com/reader and download a blog reader (it’s free). Google’s blog reader is easy to use. In this way, you can subscribe to as many blogs as you want and know when there is new information to read. Every time you open your blog reader, you’ll be alerted of any new posts made since your last log-in.

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Using FREE Online Translators to Communicate with Parents and Students

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My six years of Jr. High and High School Spanish have not held up well for me. While I was able to get around better during a few trips to Mexico, my Spanish is very poor. For instance, I never got the hang of past tense and future tense. I am only able to speak in the present.  So much for “living in the NOW.”

Even so, recently I impressed all the teachers eating lunch in our cramped teachers “lounge” by calling my Spanish-speaking parents to let them know some important information.  (These teachers weren’t actively eavesdropping—we practically sit on each other’s laps in the teacher’s lounge).

Here’s my tip (after the big buildup): I use a free online translation website to type what I want to say. This helps me correct my fuzzy Spanish. Sometimes I’ll get a Spanish-speaking student to check it over for me before I call. 

The link I’ve provided offers translation between many languages including between English and Spanish, German, Dutch, Portuguese, French, Russian and Italian. Also, it allows translations between and amongst these languages.  Another feature is that you can compare the translation the website derives to one that Google Translator provides. This is another check that someone like myself who is not fluent might want to use as a double check.

If you use a translation website, be sure to remove any slang from the phrase you are typing in. I also try to insert the name of the student and polite remarks such as please and thank you to what I eventually say to parents.

I’m not saying the website provides a perfect translation, but I’ve always gotten my point across with non-English speaking parents. And I am planning to take Spanish again next year with the hope of organizing some much-needed free ESL classes for parents in our community. My secret hope is to learn how to make many foreign culinary delights and trade garden seeds. Sshh! Don’t tell.

Unfortunately, my school district doesn’t have translators or other professionals to help with the language divide. So foreign-speaking parents really appreciate when a teacher takes the extra time to get to know them and help their son or daughter.

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Thoroughly Thrifty Thursdays

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How’s that for a nifty (thrifty) title!

I think it’s a good idea to keep track of what you are doing to get ahead. There are many ways, but here is a little tracking method I learned from Justice Desserts Blog:

Let’s see what I can come up with using her formula:

Planting: I’m putting the 1/4 inch root part of every onion I cut for cooking back into the garden for future onions (yes it works!) Also, planting the eyes off every potato I cut up for cooking back into the garden. Yes! They will make FREE potatoes.  I jog out there, making it a little exercise routine as well.

 Harvesting: swiss chard, green onions, cabbage, rhubarb, ground cherries,

Preserving:ground cherries, hickory nuts from the woods

Prep something: Cooking sale turkeys and putting the extra meat in the freezer for future quick casserole dinners after long days at school.

Manage Reserves: Going through what is left of last year’s canning extravaganza to see what needs to be eaten up. Rotation, rotation, rotation!

 

Saw this on another frugal blog:

Office Depot has a 15% off your entire order code. Valid through Nov. 22, 2008 on-line and over the phone. Enter code 19574436.

You may also enter code 32776683 (on-line only) if you are spending $100 or more to receive a free Coby CD Radio Boombox.

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Eight Frugal Things in the Classroom That Have an Impact– for Free!!

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1.   ACT and SAT prep courses are great, but often they cost $$$ that some of our students don’t have. Even if schools have them for free, they may not fit into the schedules of busy high schoolers.  There are many good prep videos available on Youtube and teachertube. It’s not enough to know the material, you must also know the strategy for finishing the test in an accurate way.  In particular, I like Super Magnet Man’s guide to taking the science portion of the ACT. 

2.   In middle school, one of our challenges is to teach students to be prepared and to be responsible.  They are terrible about coming to class unprepared.  Getting a student their supplies takes precious minutes from teaching. Here are some suggestions. I keep pink paper and green pens available for borrowing. They must be signed out (a student is always assigned to this task before I begin teaching.)  I have a record of how often students are coming to class unprepared and am able to speak to parents, if needed. Sometimes being unprepared is part of a larger problem of not being on task. When parents see that 25 days out of 20 little Susie came to class without her book, folder, assignment book, paper and pencil they get a good picture of what part of the problem is.  Please note: students who speak to me privately about financial problems are always given enough supplies until they tell me they need more. I buy extra when they are on sale for this purpose.

 

3.   Teachers are extraordinary at their capacity for giving.  At our High School, athletes are supposed to dress up on game day.  For boys, this means khaki pants, dress shirt and tie.  Many students don’t have these clothes and could not afford them. Our teachers buy them the outfits and no one is the wiser.  Sometimes they are wearing a pair of khakis that a teacher can’t fit into anymore, or a tie that was given at holiday time that the teacher cannot use.  Be on the lookout for things like these. Set aside shirts that may be a little tight—there may be a boy that needs it for game day, college or job interview, or Trivia bowl competition. 

4.   We have a nice tradition at our school where we bring things to the teacher lounge we no longer need and these things are either given away or sold.  For example, someone had very nice quality sheets given to them that they could not use. They were offered at half price and I grabbed them quickly! Start this tradition at your school!

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5.   I have a friend who is a very harried High school math teacher who needed her coffee first period to be alert for doing math.  She noticed that her students commented on her coffee and liked the smell of it. This grew into a tradition in her first period classes that if they brought a covered cup, she would provide the coffee. The student’s parents have volunteered to keep the supply of coffee grounds and creamer flowing.  It’s a little thing, but it really was a special touch her first period math students enjoy and brought them closer together. She says they are very close now.

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6.   Kids love traditions and special rituals.  Special occasions aren’t just for the youngest students. This is especially true for middle and high school students who are still bouncing back and forth maturity-wise between adulthood and childhood.  I like to introduce historically significant dates into my curriculum even if it’s the kind of thing we do after our work is done.  One good place for finding out Birthdays of authors or famous people, National Holidays, Monthly celebrations to use in your planning is the teacherscorner.net. The event calendar for November is located here:

 

7.   I like to keep a classroom set of plastic page protectors for using classroom copies of things. Saves money on laminating and you can always change what is in them, Or store several things in them and only use the page on top.  With these the students can highlight important text and wipe off again. Or they can use them for say, math worksheets.  By writing with a dry erase marker, they can be used again and again. A new sheet can be popped in each day! Another advantage is that it is a very “green” idea.

8.   Help Campbell Soup Company help our schools by donating to the Future Farmers of America organization. Even if you don’t have one at your school, it is a terrific program for students.  Go to check out http://www.helpgrowyoursoup.com/ . Look especially at the “Nourishing Minds” tab. When you click on the red barn, Campbells will donate $1.00 to the National FFA Organization.

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