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Finals Study Tips for Students

Finals time is approaching! Even if it will look a little different this year than years past and future.  

My current work as a learning specialist at a top tier university has allowed me to work on creating easy and quick resources for students to use to help improve their study habits and approaches.  I wanted to share a few quick and easy bites of information that you could pass along to your students as they get ready for final exams! 

1.  Come up with a plan and start organizing at least two weeks before the exam

   I know, this seems unrealistic, and not something that our students will want to do, or do they even think that far in advance.  BUT I like to make this part of the finals prep a part of class.  I  usually spend a chunk of one class session having students get out all of their handouts, notes, and resources.  We then make a list as a class of all the possible resources they have to study from.  As always, there are some students who do not have the needed materials, or these things went missing in the abyss of lockers and backpacks. I allow time for students to reach out to a friend in the class to get a picture of the missing resource so that they have it to reference later.  Again, I start this about two weeks before the exam date, to get kiddos thinking about the fact that there WILL be a final exam, and to show them how much information will be covered on it. 

2.  Choose a good study space 

This is key.  I always suggest NOT studying in your room, but especially not studying in your bed.  Your body feels your bed and just wants to go to sleepy sleep!  I suggest a desk, a kitchen table, or ( in the future) a favorite coffee shop or library. This change of location lets your brain know that you are ready for studying and studying only! 

3. Minimize Distractions 

PUT THE PHONE DOWN. This is SO hard. Even for adults.  I suggest setting a timer for a certain amount of time you want to study, and then placing your phone in another room.  I also always think back to my college days, in the height of Facebook.  My friends and I would dutifully go to the library to study for finals and inevitably end up wasting so much time on social media.  The solution we came up with?  We would assign a friend ( THAT WE TRUSTED) to change our passwords so that we couldn't log into our accounts even if we wanted to. And we would give them a task we needed to complete before they gave us the new password to change back.   You don't even realize how much you reach for social media until you try and can't do it.  Easy way to limit distractions! 

4. Chunk Your Time

Activity study for about 20-30 mins and then take a 5-minute break.  During this break, make sure to stretch and move around.  The more movement the better to wake your brain up and ger oxygen to your brain.  Sitting down for a 2-hour study session is a daunting process.  But a 20-minute chunk? Easily doable. Plus, your motivation will not run out as fast, and you can keep studying for longer!  Make sure to take a snack and water break too! 

5. Utilize the Study Cycle! 

Studying is not a one-time thing.  It is a constant cycle that should be repeated over and over! 

The Study Cycle: Preview, Attend, Review, Study, Assess

These are just a few of the tips myself and my fellow learning specialist have come up with for our college students!  You can find these and more  Here on our TPT store!  

What are some of the tips you give your own students for finals? Post them in the comments below! 

Disney Tips and Tricks!

I LOVE Disney World.  And I love a good deal even more.

Last January, I was supposed to go on a weekend Disney trip with my brother and sister, but sadly the polar vortex grounded my flights....  However, I was able to go in June with the same tickets I had purchased before!

I wanted to share some of the tips we used to help plan an affordable and fun Disney trip!

First, take advantage of freebies! You can get a free pin for ANYTHING at guest services.  Make this your first stop so that you can have your pin for your whole trip!

Military Discounts-  If you have a family member in the military, this is a great way to make sure your money goes a long way!  First, you get discounts at any Disney hotel.  However, the best one to stay at is Shades of Green.  This is an EXCLUSIVE hotel for military members.  Plus, all of their stores and food is TAX-FREE.  Your coffee in the morning?  No tax!  Your Disney toy that the kiddos had to have?  Tax-free in the store!  Plus, you get discounted tickets and more with a military ID!

Disney Springs-  this is a great way to get great entertainment without a price tag!  There are always lots of shows, singers, and interactive events happening at Disney springs.   It's a great way to spend an evening or part of a day without using a park pass!

Hilton Honors/ Marriot Gold-  if you are a member of Hilton or Marriot rewards programs you can use your tickets at amazing hotels for less than the price of a Disney hotel but still get all of the perks! 
For example, Swan and Dolphin, which is close to Epcot and the Skyliner, is a Marriot property and will allow you to use reward points on your stay!  Plus, you still have access to extra magic hours while staying there!

The Hilton properties also grant access to extra magic hours, and are located within walking distance to Disney Springs.  You can use your rewards points to book a stay there!  AND if you are a Hilton Honors member, you get a free breakfast or coffee/pastry each morning!  Saves you money at Starbucks or in the parks!

Do you have other ideas to share?  Tell us in the comments! And enjoy the video of our park day!

New Year New Budget: 5 Easy Money Saving Tips I am Trying This Month

I have a new job, live in a new city, and am trying to buy a new house!  Per usual, I cannot simply do one thing at a time...

Since my new job ( my new DREAM job!  more on that later...) pays a little less than what I was making last year, I really needed to rethink my spending habits ( hello daily Dunkin runs, I'm looking at you).

For this month, I have decided to try out 5 easy strategies to jump start my money saving and money making MO!   I tried to come up with things that are easy and simple to implement so that I do not feel overwhelmed or like I am suddenly missing out on all the fun just to save money.

Look at my ideas below and let me know what you think or if they worked for you!

1. Unsubscribe from store email lists! 

All day long at work, my phone pings with new emails and 90% of them are from the stores I love to shop at advertising the deal of the day.  I am a sucker for a great deal, and I am also a sucker for good advertising...  These emails have lead me to more impulse purchases than I want to admit. 

To take control of my impulse spending, I decided to take away the temptation.  I unsubscribed from all of the emails that popped up in my inbox from 8am to 10am.  And it was A LOT.   I figured that I should start with a small chunk, and not get overwhelmed with how many unsubscribe buttons I needed to click...

In just 10 minutes I unsubscribed from my biggest impulse buy stores: Nordstrom Rack, Loft, JCrew Factory, Banana Republic, Old Navy, and a few more.

First, I feel like this is going to lessen my email anxiety ( so. many. unread.)  I also think not having those amazing sales in my face all day every day will keep me from pressing purchase!

2. Change my Google Autoload settings

The best part of online shopping is the ease.  The worst part is also the ease...  Clicking one little button to buy my whole cart of things is so easy that I don't even think twice about doing it.  It's not real money if its online right?!

I decided to go in and change my google chrome settings to NOT remember my credit card number.  This way,  I will need to physically take out my credit card to type it in, and that will make my transaction time a little longer, giving me time to really think about if I need what I am about to buy.

3. Get Rid on One Click On Amazon

Like the clearing of my autofill, this is another big step for me.  Amazon has taken over my ordering history, and it's always so easy to just have an idea of something I want, type it in, see it's on prime, and one-click it to my house!

I have decided to undo my one-click options, again to make myself really think through my purchases and decide if I need that new sweater or book.   Which brings me to number 4...

4.  Get Me A Library Card

Throw Back Tune for this one!

I LOVE reading.  Right now I get amazing free books from bookbub, but I also have a subscription to kindle unlimited which costs me $10 a month.  That sounds so reasonable for as many books as I want at my fingertips, but then I remember that there are these things called libraries that let me read an unlimited amount of books FOR FREE.  That is $120 bucks in my pocket at the end of the year, and I still get to read until my heart's content.   Plus, most libraries have their own ebooks available to check out, so I can still get myself the reads I want instantly!

5. Money Maker Alert- Selling Clothes and Buying Thrifty

I have a lot of clothes. Mostly from my online impulse purchases and those great deals that I just cannot say no to.

But this also means that I have a lot of clothes that I no longer wear.  Part of my new year goal was to clean out my closet.  In the middle of that process, I made myself a promise to get rid of anything I had not worn in a year.  Spoiler:  there were many things I had not worn in a year... Many of these, I am ashamed to say, still had the tags.

I now have a big collection of clothes that I am going to try to resell to a few of my favorite places.  Plato's Closet was always a spot I used in college and high school, but many of my clothes are too "sophisticated" for their clientele.  (This is what I was told when I brought in some of my work clothes last time)   However, I do have a lot of pieces to sell from the before time when I was a fun college kid and not a teacher with 30 sensible cardigans.    The best part is that PC pays you in cash right on the spot.

For my more sophisticated clothes, I like to bring them to the Clothes Mentor.   They also pay out in cash that day, and this makes hauling my bins of clothes there worth it.

The downside of these places is that I am left with all the clothes that they did not buy, and I normally just let them sit and sit and sit in my closet.  Until I discovered thredup! 

I love that they send you a free clean out kit and you can just fill it up, send it off, and forget about it until the money rolls in!

Last year I made about $300 in sales from this site.  You can make money two ways, they immediately buy your stuff and the cash goes right into your account, OR your item is chosen for consignment, and you make the money when someone purchases your item.

The best part is that they recycle/donate the clothes that they do not pick, taking that process off of your hands! That is really my fav part ( besides making that cash moneyyyy).

This is one the store that I did not unsubscribe from.  The reason being, the clothes I want are deeply discounted, and they send out some really great discount codes.   Plus, I am thrifting and saving money on clothes that I would normally buy full price.

If you are interested here is a referral link with a discount code for



I plan on updating this with an extimate of how much I was able to not spend. 

I would love to hear other ideas for how to save money!  Leave them in the commnets below!

Top Reasons Aries Make Amazing Teachers

As a proud Aries, I am beyond excited for Aries Season!  (side note: if you try and google Aries season it comes up Arie's season and all you get are links for the bachelor...)   In my family of five, four of us are Aries!  We pretty much have a birthday cake a week in the month of April.    Living with larger than life Aries, and being one myself I got to thinking about how this fire sign might be impacting my teaching.  So, I present to you:

Top 5 Reasons Why Aries Make The Best Teachers

Am I biased?  Yes. But I am owning it ( as a true Aries would) :)

1.  Aries are the leaders of the zodiac.

As the first sign, and a cardinal sign at that, we are ready to lead any day and in any way.  So, it only makes sense that Aries feel comfortable being in charge every minute of every day in their classroom.  And we do it with ease.  The role of the teacher is one that suits the Aries personality perfectly.

2. Aries Will Defend Our Students No Matter What

You think you can come after my kiddos? Think again.  The protective nature of the ram is awakened in Aries teachers.  Our students are our babies and we will advocate for their best interests in every breath.  And trust me, you do NOT want to get on an Aries' bad side.

3.  Aries Are The Life Of The Party ( and by party I mean classroom)
The fun-loving nature of an Aries is right at home in the classroom.  Aries teachers are always up for trying new lessons and new technology.  We love to be cutting edge, and bring this desire into our lesson plans on the daily.

4. The Enemy of an Aries is Bordeom
Aries HATE to be bored.  So, it makes sense that they would never want to be bored at work.  This makes for impromptu sing-alongs and dance parties, and crazy creative lessons.   I can guarantee an Aries teacher is probably not giving lecture notes every day in class...

and Finally:

5. Aries Teachers Will Always Tell It Like It Is
Aries despise dishonesty and do not enjoy playing games with people.  You will always know where you stand with an Aries and you will always get the truth from them.  This quality can be startling when you are on the receiving end, but it also means that Aries teachers will tell you exactly what you need to know to help you be your best. They are there to be your fiercest advocate and help you to create action plans for conquering the obstacles in your life.  You cannot find a better, more honest ally than in an Aries.

Where are my other Ram teachers at?!  Drop me a comment below :)

Your Brain On Books!

I have a new passion project!  A fellow teacher friend and I are trying to build funds to start a company that aims to get socially conscious kids books into the hands of early readers, donate books to schools in need, combats early childhood literacy inequities, and raises awareness about early childhood literacy.  Basically, we want to do it all!   But we need some help!  We have started a fundraising campaign to try and get our project off the ground!  If this sounds like an idea you can get behind, help us out by simply sharing the link!


​We want to change the world one book at a time!  

Crime Scene In Your Classroom

I am finishing up my Lord of the Flies unit and just created a super exciting lesson with my fellow 9th-grade teacher.  I figured I would share the wealth and pass on the lesson here to anyone else teaching this classic novel.

The skills we wanted to focus on were examining the text closely and using textual evidence to support your argument.  But we did not want to do another writing assignment...

So, we decided to files some charges in the murders of Simon and Piggy!

Students were asked to close read the definitions the four murder charges.  Then, they needed to define unknown vocabulary.

Finally, students are asked to make a decision on which charges to make for the different deaths and the different characters who partake in the deaths.  This is where they must support answers with textual evidence.

Of course, we couldn't just do a worksheet... We had to create a crime scene! 

I created body outlines on the floor in masking tape and wrangled the art teacher into creating the Law and Order logo on my board.  I added some palms cut out from cardstock and printed other clues like the conch shell and Pigg's glasses.  I also printed out detective badges and handed them to each student as they walked into the room to help get them amped to learn. 

DISCLAIMER: the masking tape outlines took soooooooo long.  In the middle of making them I questioned why I was spending so much time on a display for a lesson that would be two days long at most.  But, the kids were really excited about the lesson and drawn in right away.  So I decided it was worth it.  I will be trying to look for easier ways to make these outlines in the future....

If you want to try out my lesson I have it for FREE right now on my TPT store.  Just download it here!  No need to follow or leave feedback.  I just want to help other teachers out who might be interested!

If you are looking for other activities, check out  my LOTF bundle here

And if you want to see my crime scene, check out the video below.  I also included photos of my set up.  And yes, that is the Law and Order theme song you hear :) 

I would love to know how this lesson works out for you!

p.s ignore my messy classroom, but that's real life!


Anyone Here A Doctor?

I recently started teaching the novel Speak with my honors students.  We are focusing a lot this year on finding textual evidence to support ideas and claims.  But honestly, it can get a little tedious to simply ask my students to look up quote after quote after quote.   So, I decided to get a little creative with finding textual evidence and address a serious issue brought up by the novel at the same time! 

The main character in the novel, Melinda, is suffering from depression.  The author makes the conscious choice to characterize her with different signs and symptoms of depression.  I decided to make my students "doctors" for the day and have them prove to me that she could indeed be diagnosed with depression.  

I found a website that listed the signs and symptoms, listed them and made a sheet for my students to write their "observations" of Melinda.   They had to find a quote to correspond with all the symptoms.   They did a great job!  We found textual evidence of all of the signs and symptoms of depression. 

This activity lead us into a discussion about teen depression where we looked at facts and stats about depression in teens.  We talked about who to speak with if you think you need help, and what kinds of things you can do to treat depression.  Find the worksheet here and a link to a site with information about teen depression below.  

I hope this lesson is helpful and enjoyable! 



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