Think Outside the Box

Think Outside the Box

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Making a GIF and updating my TpT website

Am I amazing or what?!?

I am totally going to toot my own horn right now.  I (read the directions and after many missteps) figured out how to:
 a) create the appropriate sized pictures to go in my TpT quote box
 b) save them as jpegs (and adjust the pixel size!)
 c) upload them to a FREE GIF maker 
 d) save the GIF
 e) embed the GIF in my TPT quote box

Aren't you impressed?

This is honestly something I've wanted to try, but have been feeling really intimidated by.  I'm not going to lie, it took me forever and a day just to figure out the series of steps to make a static "cute" quote box.  But, then, since I'd already spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out which character I'd messed up in the line of code, I decided to go for it.  

And you know what, making the GIF was the easiest part of all! 

So these are the images I decided to use.  I wanted to spruce up my store for the upcoming CYBER MONDAY & TUESDAY SALE (which you ALL know about, right?) and so I made these in PowerPoint and then went from there.


  1. Create a NEW slide show, click on THEMES to select SLIDE SIZE.  Customize the slide size: Width: 4.25 inches x Height: 1.75 inches.
  2. Design the number of slides you'd like in your animated GIF.  (I'm not a graphic designer, so I'm sure that my slides will get better over time.)
  4. On my Mac, I can select SAVE AS PICTURES.  When I select it, I can choose the file type JPEG.  Then click OPTIONS.  At the bottom, I can adjust the pixels.  I set my max height to be 150 pixels, and the width automatically changed (to about 380).  (Do not exceed 175 wide x 450 tall).


  1. Open a new tab in your browser, and go to the website GIFMAKER.ME
  2. UPLOAD your JPEG images from the folder on your computer.
  3. (I found that if I uploaded the "whole slide show" three times in a row, it wouldn't freeze at the end of the animation.)
  4. Select your timing.  I used 1500 milliseconds.  It might be too fast.  2000 milliseconds might be too slow.  Play around with it.
  5. I left ALL OF THE OTHER SETTINGS alone!  (Including number of repeats.  It was set to 0, which means infinite.)
  6. On the bottom right you can select DOWNLOAD GIF.
  7. It will open as a preview and defaults to your DOWNLOADS folder.  However, I renamed it from the preview and saved it into the folder with my other store banners.


  1. Open a new tab in your browser, and go to the website IMGSAFE.ORG
  2. Sign up for a free account.  Then LOGIN.
  3. UPLOAD your GIF from the folder on your computer.
  4. Go to MY IMAGES and select your new GIF.  It will open a web address where it is housed online.  COPY the entire web address.


  1. Open a new tab in your browser, and go to the website TINYURL.COM
  2. PASTE the web address in the provided box.  CLICK  MakeTinyURL!
  3. On the next screen it will give you a shortened web address.  You will need this for "hacking" your quote box.  (I suggest that you not only copy to clipboard, but also write it down. Between this step and actually pasting into the code, I made many errors and had to try again and again.)


  1. Open a new tab in your browser, and go to the website Glitter Meets Glue
  2. Read the directions CAREFULLY and follow the steps for linking your product page to your quote box. (It involves a pinterest pin and a TINYURL.  I followed her instructions.)
  3. When you get to STEPS 8 & 9 and you edit your Teachers Pay Teachers profile, you will need to use your GIF TINYURL in the place of

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Small Changes - Big Project


This morning I decided that I'm going to pay $20 to feature my All-in-One Bulletin Board: Molecular Genetics on Teachers Pay Teachers next month.  (I'm hoping everyone is following a similar pacing guide, and will hit THE CENTRAL DOGMA OF BIOLOGY at the same time I will.)

From September 19th through the 22nd, my product will be featured at the top of the product listing page (IF the user selects to sort by SCIENCE and 9-12.)  I can use my earnings to pay for the promotion, so I don't have to put up any money up front, which is really nice.  

Because I'm featuring this product, I decided that I needed to go back and make sure I applied the advice I got from Misty Miller, as well as make a few minor changes to my logo and preview page.

I needed to :
1. Copyright EVERY page
2. Include my PLEASE READ: Terms of Use, Follow Me, Provide Feedback, and Credits pages
3. Update my thumbnails and previews with a watermark

Of course, its never as simple as 1,2,3.  First I had to update my logo to include a font that I know I had purchased, therefore have commercial copyright permission to use.  Then I had to go in and update the image on my PLEASE READ document and the thumbnail for the preview.  While I was in the preview, I also moved the blocks around to make the product description more visible.  Then I had to edit a typo on the Follow Me page, create the Provide Feedback page, and edit the Credits page.  Once all of those minor changes, that took 2 hours, were done, I was able to insert the PLEASE READ pdf into the existing pdf.  I had to add in the copyright text on each page and I finally was able to upload the modified document 3 hours after I began.

I hope that now my edits will be faster, all I will need to do is insert the copyright and the modified PLEASE READ document into each of the All-in-One Bulletin Board files and then upload to TpT.  I know I need to edit my bundle so that they contain the copyrighted pages, and then I'll have to make time to do the previews and modify the thumbnails.  But, that is not happening today.  Today, I'm done with TpT, and on to grading tests and entering grades online.

Have any of you had to modify your TpT materials?  Have you found a simpler way?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Learning how to improve my store

I did what every great student needs to do, I asked for feedback.  I wanted positive words of encouragement and constructive criticism on my overall look, pricing, and quality for my Sunshine State Science store on Teachers pay Teachers. 

I went on to the forums and I asked for input.  And from the 6 responses I got, I was very pleased.  I had some great insight on what to include from Misty Miller, who's blog, is just a treasure trove of helpful hints for anyone that wants to improve their Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Misty has GREAT advice, and better yet, EASY TO FOLLOW instructions on how to improve almost every aspect of your store.  Her first suggestions for me were to include the copyright on every single page of each document, add a Terms of Use and Credits page (along with info on how to Follow Me), and finally to add hyperlinks in my product descriptions.


Over this long Labor Day weekend, I took her advice.  I created the documents she suggested, and I included them on my TWO new products.

It will be a loooong time before I get a chance to edit EVERY SINGLE ONE of my 71 products to make sure they are up to date.  But I will do at least one per weekend until Christmas Break, and then I'll reassess.  (I also have to be sure to switch out my clipart ~which I think is all public domain and copyright free~ to be sure that I'm not infringing on anyone's intellectual property rights.)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Focus on Environment & Culture

I grabbed this piece of the Indiana's DOE's Walkthrough Checklist, and while they use their own RISE evaluation tool and Florida uses the Marzano system, the verbiage has showed up in the evidence section of my observation results, so I'm certain that portions overlap.

The first week is so important for setting expectations, practicing classroom routines, modifying behavior, preparing for all the uncomfortable growth the brain will do throughout the year.  And for some reason, my first thought every year is, DECORATE!  Not organized, neat & uncluttered, but full on Pinterest-ed!

Rather than taking the time to set up the bins and boxes, I quickly Clorox-ed the cabinets and surfaces and began my room beautification process.  I spent days, at least two full ones, hot gluing posters to my walls, making makeshift bulletin boards from cork squares and plastic tablecloths.  I posted all of my Learning Goals, Marzano Scales, Essential Questions, Vocabulary, and even made a place to celebrate success as evidence of my deliberate practice.  I went to multiple stores to stock up on new hot glue sticks, double sided tape, borders, fabric scraps, and cute pushpins.  As I looked at Pinterest Biology classrooms, I felt less than average, Let me tell you, when I got to the end of the day on Thursday, I felt ready to move on to updating my syllabi and photocopying my first three days work of handouts.

Feeling good on Friday, I left knowing I wouldn't have to wait in line for the copier.  I could tackle a new lesson planning software that promises to make my life easier, as soon as I manage to figure it out (without training).

And then Monday morning arrived.  Two full days before students reported, half of the artifacts I had dutifully displayed were dangling, a quarter were already on the floor.  Ugh!  Really?  Phew!  At least the Learning Goals, Marzano Scales, Essential Questions, Vocabulary, and Celebrations of Success had weathered the humidity and soaring temperatures of a weekend without AC.

By the time students were waking up on Wednesday, the dangling had begun drooping and dropping.  My masterpiece, the All-in-One Display, had lost its battle, oh how the mighty had fallen.  (And I didn't even get to take a picture to use on my TpT store!!! GRRR!)  The hours of work staring up at me from the dusty, cockroach trodden floor.  I pulled down the last of the hangers-on and tidied up.  I. WAS. ANNOYED, but optimistic.  Maybe I'll have my kids re-glue them to the walls when we are ready to display their first set of content review bulletin boards.  It can be part of their project, design the display space...

I didn't spend the time organizing my supply closet, (read: I threw everything in and closed the door.  The tornado may have touched down less than a quarter mile from school during orientation, but it wrecked havoc on my supply closet!) or setting up all of the interactive notebook supply bins.  I wasted my time decorating and it was all for naught.

So.  Lesson learned.  Pinterest has beautiful rooms with banners and borders and alternative seating options... but I need to use this year as an eye-opener.  The check boxes don't ask for color schemes or coordinating frog themes, they ask for organization, neatness and lack of clutter.  I can get points for an orderly environment.  I have already displayed the Learning goals/data on the panes of the cabinets where plenty of clear tape will hold them in place.

Next year, I'll set a reminder on my phone to read this post and start with CLEANING and ORGANIZING, not decorating.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

$10 Dry Erase Tables

Let me start off with this.  THIS WAS NOT MY IDEA, I found a post by Sprout Classrooms from 2014 and pretty much followed her directions to a T.


Tables in Use

"Important Things"

Everyone's Engaged

Dry Erase Table Transformation



Total Time = 5 days
Primer ~ 3 hrs + overnight
Dry-Erase ~ 2 hrs + 3 DAYS cure


My total cost was ~$120 for 12 tables
$10 per table!


  • Acetone 
  • Lint-Free Rags
  • Latex Primer (indoor)
  • Paint Roller & Pads (2 x smooth finish)
  • Paint Stir Stick (...which I forgot, so an old ruler...)
  • Paint Can Opener
  • Disposable Paint Tray (2)
  • Rust-Oleum Dry Erase Paint (1 kit for 3-4 tables)
  • Tarps or Sheets (to make your custodians happy)



Clean & Prime

  1. Use acetone on a lint-free rag to clean the table tops.  DO NOT USE SOAP (per the directions on the primer can).
  2. Shake the primer vigorously.  Open, stir completely, pour into paint tray.
  3. Roll primer on to table tops and sides, using a somewhat thick coating.  (I did NOT sand the table tops, once I cleaned them, I went straight to primer and had no issues.)  
  4. DO AT LEAST 3 COATS.  Per the directions on the primer can, allow 1 hour between coats.  The dry erase paint does not have much of a white background, so you want complete coverage with the primer.
  5. Allow to set overnight.
Save any leftover primer for next summer - the original post suggests reapplying before each school year. (I did 12 tables and used 2/3 of the gallon of primer.)


Dry Erase Paint

  1. Shake the dry-erase coating and base paint cans vigorously.  Open each, pour A into B and stir completely.  Pour into paint tray.
  2. Roll dry-erase paint on to table tops and sides, using a thin coating.  (This is a VERY thin paint, be careful with splashing.)  The roller will make it look texturized as you apply, but it does dry to become a slick surface.
  3. DO AT LEAST 3 COATS.  Per the directions on the box, allow 30 minutes between coats. 
  4. Allow to cure for 3 days.
I used 3 boxes of dry-erase paint for 12 tables.  I have a back up box, just in case, but after testing, I didn't seem to need an extra coat, even though I have some "dull" spots.


In an inconspicuous location, like the side of the table, test your markers.

Test Your Markers!

EXPO - Bold Colors
EXPO - Multi Pack
CRA-Z-ART Dry erase
some residue
all clear
significant residue
  1. Let the marker dry on the surface for about 15 minutes.
  2. Erase.
  3. Use white board cleaner (or water) to clean completely.

My Notes & Opinions:

Overall, I'm amped to try these out with the kids on the first day of school! I think they are really going to enjoy working problems and brainstorming on these tables, rather than in their notebooks.  I can see a lot of jig-sawing and collaboration in their future.

EVERY.  SINGLE.  TEACHER. who stopped by to say hello during pre-planning exclaimed, "WOW!  How did YOU get new tables?!?"  When I told them about the dry erase surface, their envy grew.  Even the custodians, who were justifiably concerned about their newly waxed floors, were pumped.  The white certainly brightens up my window-less lab.

I read that the PINK EXPO markers leave a stain, and although my test pink did not, I am going to pull the pink markers and not use them.  I am disappointed that the Cra-Z-Art markers I found on clearance left such a residue.  I'm not going to be using these with kids.  I'll see how they do on my normal teacher whiteboard, and if they stain there, I'll give them away.  Wah. Wah.

From the blog post by Sprout Classroom, I calculated 4 boxes of Rust Oleum Dry Erase Paint for 12 tables (that are approximately 3' x 6').  I only ended up using 3 of the kits, even with 3 coats.  We will be using the tables regularly and I'll see if we need to add a coating of dry-erase over the Labor Day long weekend.  If not, maybe Christmas break will see a reapply, or maybe right before the end of the school year. (I didn't like using my back to school planning time for this project).

Last, but certainly not least, I tend to be an "ask for forgiveness" person.  However, in this case, I definitely asked for permission.  My principal had to get the go ahead from the county level to "alter school property" so I'm glad I didn't just wing it.  If you'd like a copy of the email, I used Genius Hour Projects as my driving factor, please request it in the comments.

What do you think?  Is this something you will try?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Less than ONE week!

It's official, I got my back to school letter from my principal yesterday.  And wouldn't you know, I had my mind prepped for reporting on Wednesday, only to find that the first day of pre-planning is actually Tuesday!  Doh!

Last year I started off with students personalizing a Fakebook page I found for FREE on Teachers pay Teachers.  I found, though, that my high school students were much LESS into Facebook than my middle schoolers had been.  This was kind of a flop for me.  (I *am* still thinking about using it as a product choice as we learn about different scientists.  I'm thinking I will have a bulletin board of profiles that students create.  What would be REALLY cool, would be to have a "News Feed" along side of it, using emoji post-it notes and hashtags.)
This year, I want to start off the year with a Growth Mindset theme.  I was contemplating all these cool bulletin boards and posters that I could buy or make.  But what better way to get buy-in than to have my classes make them?  

The project I'm most excited for this year is my Wonder Wall/ Innovation Space.  I want to have stations where groups can collaborate and brainstorm - whiteboards, rolls of brown kraft paper, chalkboards - and present.  I'm floating an idea past my principal to paint my tables in the lab with chalkboard and/or dry erase paint.  (If that doesn't work, I'll just cover with paper like at Maggiano's).

All of these will be used as I try my hand at Genius Hour with my Physical Science kids.  These 80/20 projects will give students the opportunity to research, plan, experiment, create, revise, and present solutions to a problem or topic of their choice.  (I am going to write a grant for some easy to program robots, to entice them to choose technology and engineering topics, but we'll see how it goes.)

I guess in the next 10 days I'm going to have to sit down and plan how this is really going to work.  I'm excited to go back to school and tackle these projects!  What projects or strategies are you excited to try out this year?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


PHYSICAL SCIENCE BUNDLE - All in One Bulletin Boards
Hooray!  ALL of the posted requirements for ALL of your observations for Physical Science.  This bundle includes a LEARNING GOAL & SCALE, ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS, and VOCABULARY for *every* unit in Physical Science!

  • Nature of Science
  • Motion & Forces
  • Work, Power & Energy
  • Waves: Sound & Light
  • Electricity & Magnetism
  • Thermal Energy & Heat
  • Properties & States of Matter
  • Atoms & The Periodic Table of Elements
  • Chemical Bonds & Reactions
  • Solutions, Acids & Bases
  • Carbon Chemistry & Biochemistry

And, as if that wasn't enough, I've also posted my Marzano Scales Bundle.  The same topics are covered, for every unit, for the WHOLE year!  


I'll be adding the individual All-in-One Boards and Marzano Scales later this week, but to get the most bang for your buck, go for the BUNDLE! 


-Carrie from Sunshine State Science

Friday, July 22, 2016


Goal for the day: Pass on good vibes!

1. Download a FREE item from Sunshine State Science @ Teachers pay Teachers.
2. Write a review.
3. Leave your email, so I can reach you.

** I'll send you a prize!! ** 

(First 10 reviewers get a little something to sip as they sit through their pre-planning day.)

Thanks a latte!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Back to school already?!? Yup.

Two weeks from Wednesday, teachers in my district report back to school. I'm excited to do my  to school shopping. (Who am I kidding, I loaded up on school supplies before the Walmart displays were totally stocked. And I found some killer rebate deals on copy paper at Staples a couple of weeks ago.). I'm eager to catch up with my friends: colleagues and students.  I like the routine of the days and surprise of the unpredictable moments. I'm rested and ready.

I am in a different place, mentally, this summer.  For the first time, I took the month of July off.  I didn't plan.  I didn't professionally develop, I didn't even read a motivational book.  Instead, I did my professional development and Chemistry certification test in June.  I studied eight hours a day for weeks getting ready.  Then I took my exam and turned off my "school brain."  We took a road trip to the mountains.  I read Judy Blume and watched two seasons of Glee.  I relaxed on the couch and pinned sunsets and nothing related to education (lie, but very few...).

At first, I felt guilty.  But then I realized that for these three weeks, I'm actually getting the mental vacation I have earned through the school year.  I have finally figured out what my administrators have been encouraging: rest and relaxation. Rejuvenation. Respite. And in two more weeks, I'm going to be ready to return.

I am looking forward I the year.  I'm excited to figure out how to fit I the engineering themed Genius Hour projects using Dash &, TED Talks, and CrashCourse.  I'm ready to take another try at classroom management, high school edition.  I've got some (unfleshed) ideas about procedures to implement.  I'm going to enjoy these next two weeks off and then I'm going to jump right in.


What did you do over summer break?  Did you rest?  Did you pretend to rest while you really worked?  Are you feeling refreshed and ready to return?