Tuesday, April 29, 2014

TPT TIPS TUESDAY - Research = Success!

 Hi everyone, I'm Gina from PerfettoWritingRoom - today, we are going to talk in a BIG way about learning from others.

NO, we are not talking about stealing people's good ideas.
In a previous "episode" we have discussed the great value of being yourself. Stealing other people's great ideas will only take away from the time you could be using finding out how GREAT YOU are and what you have to offer.

What we ARE talking about TODAY is RESEARCH. 

A friend of mine told me that MOST BUSINESSES fail withing three years due to lack of research and not knowing the market or the business fully when entering. Despite all of the caveats I thought of about why making teacher resources was different - there's very little overhead! I'm in it for the long run! - after hearing his story I saw that a business is a business, and perhaps I should listen to him. You should, too.

Greg Loxton - Unaffiliated with TpT. 

1. If you keep offering your customers souffles with truffles when they want scrambled eggs, you are essentially turning away your customers. 
Gregg is my friend Jen's husband, and he has made of life of selling ideas. He has sold the program Money 101, which is still in operation and made a hobby out of thinking ahead of the next person. He is currently thinking of a way to sell the idea of vertical landscaping in urban areas where it would be most beneficial.
     The best advice he gave me came by way of a true story (admittedly written like a bad joke).

Friends of his opened a bed in breakfast in a region THEY liked, that THEY always wanted to live in. And it was there that they cooked the food that THEY really liked because one of them was interested in the culinary arts.
      Every day, she cooked breakfast. At a B&B, the proprietors either cook before everyone gets up or at least set the menu to simplify things. People kept asking for scrambled eggs, but she hadn't made that. She had made something altogether more luscious, complicated, more, uh, French or in keeping with what she wanted her bed and breakfast to be. 
      Her brother comes down for a visit. He sees these shenanigans going on and finally says, "People are telling you what they want and you're not giving it to them? How many times do you have to have people ask you for scrambled eggs before you make it for them!" 

Greg continues by saying, either move to a more artsy area where they want souffles with truffle oil, or give customers what they

So HOW Do We Correlate Greg's Lesson to TPT?
2. USE RESEARCH TO LEARN YOUR MARKET. Greg said several things. All of them true. You will fail if you do no research into your industry, and, if you refuse to give people what they want, they will go elsewhere. 
       TpT is VERY different from a bed and breakfast. People often will not tell you they want scrambled eggs. In fact, you often will stumble around blind wondering what you're doing wrong. Conversely, you may be doing great but you wont' know where that money is coming from. Pinterest? Facebook? Your blog? 
Despite this, TpT is a great place to ask for help, or to do some research on your own. It also can shed light on why you are making the amount you are making. 

It is up to you to:
 be at peace with the little you make, knowing you are doing what you love (making souffles for the few who appreciate them), 
 improve if you can by learning a trick or two (getting those eggs to the table on time when people want to eat, and finding that you can provide something both you and the customers like), or . . . 
deciding you need to be where you will be most appreciated (opening a new bed and breakfast somewhere else where people love your culinary acumen),

But no matter what, research will INFORM you about who you are, what you want, and how you will get there. Just remember to be yourself every step of the way. 

BOX . . .

There are several ways to research on TPT that are beneficial or damaging! If you go to the main, Home Page, (See Picture Below)

You will notice a BEIGE "VIEW SELLERS" Box on the LEFT HAND SIDE. So what can you learn?

 - Learn from the Top Sellers.
   Click on Top Sellers. 
   Ways You Can Learn
   - How many of them are providing elementary resources? 
   - How many of them are providing secondary resources? 
   - Specialty items? 
   - How many of them are providing very general items that are 
      easy to download, open and use for a one-day class? 
   - How many of these items are complicated or full units? 
   - How many of these are for all grades - like decor or forms?
   - How are these top sellers describing their items?
   - Are the top sellers using links inside the product descriptions?
   - What do the best covers look like, generally speaking?               
             (Remember no one is copying anyone here, but ask 
              yourself what you might be most drawn to see what your 
              biggest errors might be)
   - What else do you notice that perhaps I am not asking you?

I feel like this is a mini-lesson plan, but the point is, we do have to learn what customers want, and what works well, while also being true to ourselves. YES, the forum is wonderful, but DATA is wonderful too, and wonderfully clear! 

 4. Making a List of YOUR Top Observations is the Best Thing You'll Ever Do. Then Assess.

    You will learn something fascinating, something you can use in your existing products or future products. Make up your list of observations and compare it what your doing. Then get to work

    You might think you already know what you'll find (Oh the top sellers do elementary stuff - I know! And I sell high school music so why bother?).
   But after you do this exercise you can answer more nuanced questions. Not merely what kinds of materials the top sellers are offering but what is the nature of these products, and how are they advertised? 
     Do you think you don't have time to do all this observational study and research? Greg might argue you can't afford not to do the work. Businesses fail because people do what they love without doing any research at all and without putting in the necessary time to know what the customers want. If you are doing TpT as a hobby, fine. If you'd like to join the $1000+ club, put some time in to just looking around on that page. In the long run, it will shorten the path to success. 

- Are you saying I should change what I'm making and doing?
Yes and no. Do not be something you aren't or make what you aren't comfortable making. I WILL say I just recently realized - or at least I believe - that my products might be a tad too complicated. It is possible that some people want to print, hand out, and go. It is possible that if you have to learn about my product in order to use it, you might not want to buy it. In changing what I am doing, I am not being something I am not, I am merely improving my product. Looking around has helped a great deal, and spending the time is worth it - I assure you it will be worth it for you too. You will learn something completely different but equally valuable. 

5. And the Dangerous Part - Going Too Far
Of course, you can also look at Top Sellers, and keep going through the pages, for hours and hours and hours, until you find your all time sales ranking. I found mine once, and for about a week I kept checking it relentlessly like a squirrel caching acorns for winter. It was a sickness I wouldn't wish upon anyone. 
     It makes FAR MORE SENSE to look at the top seller to see what folks are doing right, and see what strategies align naturally with your own personality to help you see success sooner than it does to waste time watching a number you ultimately have very little control over. 

Finally, we are teachers and are always preparing students and expecting them to explore the world and to do research. Why wouldn't we expect anything less of ourselves when undertaking what is essentially a business venture?

Come on Back every Friday and Tuesday for Tips and Features that matter. We'll keep the coffee on for ya!

Follow our blog and get TpT Tips Tuesday and Feature Friday.

                                  Stop by and take a gander . . .
Browsing is fun and there's a sale today. . . 

PerfettoWritingRoom(c) All Things Writing!
Thanks for visiting - here's a freebie, on us!

Here's a reasonably priced Peer Editing pack
students can use in any writing class!

If you haven't joined TpT. . . Let me Refer you!

Friday, April 25, 2014

FEATURE FRIDAY - ELA Test Prep, It can be done, and FUN, with Teacher's Craft!

Hi, I'm Gina of PerfettoWritingRoom and welcome to FEATURE FRIDAY! Is is me, or are these Fridays just whizzing by?
    It is test prep time, and since it is still April, poetry is on the menu. Because teachers love poetry, we have this idea that students are going to naturally love it too. But if you add to the mix the nervous energy of test taking and the pull of vacation, you have a volatile and often disappointing recipe that will leave you frustrated.
      I have a few ideas that I have implemented in the classroom that might work well to keep students engaged in poetry and also serve as test prep. Additonally, I INVITE ALL READERS to SUBMIT their IDEAS!    And today I wanted to share with you an idea from my newest friend, Laney Farrugia, known as Teacher's Craft, who has something she implements regularly and finds works wonders for poetry knowledge, appreciation and test prep, too.

If you want to get a cup of coffee, now is the time . . . 
 are ya ready? Good!
Poetry Test Prep - Fun and Easy

I champion creative writing and poetry, and little wonder. Do you have any idea how many skills are transferred over to other areas of thinking and writing - you know, the areas that we consider "important"?

There are many standardized tests for secondary students, to name one might lead you to think that I am only talking about that test, so let's include them all. English language arts includes many skills, and often, the ones tested may include:

  • Grammar
  • Language usage
  • Word choice
  • Essay construction
  • Sentence mechanics
  • Organization
Critical Reading
  • Vocabulary
  • Main idea
  • Inference
  • Fact vs. Opinion
  • Logic
  • Semantics
This does not include Subject tests. Students benefit from knowing how essays work, how to find meaning and subtext and of course to understand terminology. As April is poetry month, you can make the most of the time when things are in bloom by using poetry's transferable and plastic capabilities. Nearly ALL OF THE SKILLS needed in critical reading can be applied either to essays and large swathes of text, or to more manageable but equally challenging poems. If you organize your year so that you are doing poetry in April your students will thank you. 

1. Let students TEACH EACH OTHER. - We are all about getting the sage off the stage, right?
I love being the sage, don't get me wrong, but once you present the necessary components of a poem, and the terminology that might be asked on a test (some examples might be the parts of a poem, figures of speech, other literary tropes), students can create questions on TASK CARDS and ask them of each other. Students can make educational videos, be the teacher for the day, be in charge of ONE major element you (or they) choose or decide upon, or more. 

2. Play a GAME. Whether you up the stakes with a special privilege to the team winner, give one team bragging rights, or prefer a more community helping vibe, it's your call. It is spring. Can you and your students leave the room? In the game above where students ask questions about a poem, students can actually hide some of the task cards they created, and you can allot points for how fast the other team finds them and then answers them correctly (this ensures the students WANT to find the cards, ha ha). 

3.  Make the students WORK HARD. A poem is a thing that comes to life the more you look at it, read it, ask questions of it, and unravel its layers. And yes, test makers know this too. So everything from meter and rhyme scheme, connotation and denotation, simile and meter, reader response, tone - questions that are analytical to questions about simple vocabulary - it is ALL fair game.  And the more students do this, and the more they take the lead and challenge each other, the better. 

The point is in the end students are BETTER at analyzing poetry and understanding how a poem works and what a poem is. They are more prepared for a test, but even if they are given a short story or essay in the future on a standardized test . . . they will be significantly better prepared to tackle whatever is in front of them. They will be better, more critical thinkers. Poetry has a way of doing this because of its compact nature. It is to an even greater degree than short fiction, very complicated. There is great reward to be had in teaching short fiction and poetry in your classroom, and yes, the skill required in working with poetry transfers to other forms of reading and writing.

Poetry Test Prep with My New Friend

Also known as Laney

You know how I get when I meet other wonderful English teachers. Some of my very best friends are English folks. And there's nothing better than a cup of coffee and a new friend. Laney, who lives in Naples Florida, was an intensive Reading/Language Arts teacher in a Title I school for five years. During that time, Laney was consistently on the Top-10 List of reading teachers in her county. In fact, she actually ranked number one in her third year, which is quite an accomplishment!
        Awards and accolades aside Laney Farrugia told me that "What really made my heart swell as a teacher was hearing students say to me, 'You’re the first teacher who has ever told me I’m smart.' or when former students would tell me that I am the reason that they love to read." 

Like me, Laney Farrugia, aka Teacher's Craft, loves adding items to her store, and she has recently added hard goods like craft items and teacher decor - something I know that she is excited about. What most excited me was how SHE ENGAGES STUDENTS WITH POETRY and INCORPORATES TEST READINESS

Oh, Let's Take a look . . .Poetry Standardized Test Prep


Teacher Craft's (Laney's) Poetry Standardized Test Prep is wonderful for so many reasons. It not only teaches important poetry components, it teaches test components and then allows students to practice in class as if it were a standardized test. It is not unlike walking you through your own Kaplan training program, except you don't have to go to school for it or pay for any training at all. Just use the Power Point along with the students and they will benefit.

This is an essential resource that has been successfully used in the classroom. But let's talk about why. 

1. It is not a quick fix - it is a long product that begins with the basics, walking students through the foundation. Rhythm, speaker, line, stanza, etc.

2. You choose how you want to use it. Do you want to do a few slides a day? Fine. If you want to do even more, well you can do that, just review it beforehand and figure out what your game plan will be. Have students take notes (probably an even better idea). If students know the earlier stuff, then you can enhance it by discussing things you have recently done in your own classroom or use the material as a launching point to discuss them in further detail. If they do NOT know it, then you can just go slower.

3. Parts of a Poem - I like that when you are done using this product students will be familiar with all the basic terminology, as well as the more advanced material. It isn't just for test prep. It is for learning about poetry in general.

4. Review and then the tackling of all the types of questions standardized tests ask about poetry. As a teacher, I love providing my students with keys. I know they have to use their own minds to figure out how those keys fit. I also know they may have to run madly around the castle staring at odd and various locks, always wondering how this or that may fit. But the best tools make it easier for students. THIS makes it methodical and so much easier. Clean and organized and dare I say fun?? More like a grand tour around the castle in a group . . .

5. Practice and Examples for each. Ooh La la. There is nothing better than preparing students for examples of what they might see, so they can recognize what type of question it is, understand what is being asked of them, and better figure out how to answer that question. And all of it is in one resource.

6. It has multiple benefits.  It helps students understand poetry on multiple levels, regardless of testing. While the practice questions help students be prepared for a test as stated above in number 5, the fact remains that students are in fact learning the concepts - this is evident from the beginning, as poetry concepts are introduced and demonstrated and the focus in not merely on how to improve one's score.  Very much a "treasury" resource - one you want to hold on to and use for years to come.

Laney of Teacher's Craft is so happy to be tutoring and staying home for awhile with her son until he is old enough to attend school, and of course making wonderful resources for teachers.
Her fantastic product . . .
Poetry Standardized Test Prep is available
 in her store Teacher's Craft along with so many other resources for teachers. It was a true pleasure having her with us today. 

*If you're looking for the mother of all literary term glossaries, and consider yourself a bit of a wordsmith, pick up the Complete Literary Term Glossary by PerfettoWritingRoom, with nine quizzes and keys, and such fascinating and useful terms that it will be a resource you will come to personally treasure. 

We look forward to seeing you next week for TIPS and FEATURES! We'll keep the coffee hot and ready for you!
Be good, PerfettoWritingRoom

Are you thinking of joining TpT?
Let me refer you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Hi and welcome to another episode of TPT Tips Tuesday!
     There are SO many wonderful free tutorials out there, on everything from what level of membership of TpT you should choose, to how to zip a file, to how join a collaborative pin board, to how to handle negative feedback.
     Today, I'd like to mention JUST TWO stores who are offering free tutorials that are helpful to our TpT friends starting out. FREE really is key sometimes, and while you do need to spend money to make money, sometimes you just don't have the money to spend - am I right?? Providing a great freebie that helps fellow TpT-ers also helps YOU.
And you know that - people just might linger in your store LONG ENOUGH to see another item and purchase it!

TIP ONE - Apart from your First Item, Which Must Be Free, Consider Having a Free Item Which May Help Your Fellow Sellers.

- Reason 1 : As mentioned above, fellow TPT sellers visiting your store for a helpful freebie might also find an indispensable paid item resulting in a few nice sales for you.
- Reason 2 : You get more store views, traffic. likes, and interactions with others, creating more of a community feel. Remember the MALL? There were always more browsers than buyers, but browsing is a good thing. People popping in and visiting because you put in the effort to offer a few helpful items will only help your store and your relationships - possibly in ways you cannot foresee.

TIP TWO - Do you even remember your first item? Well THAT Free Item, and every other Paid Item, May occasionally have to be Done Over. And then, Done Over again.  

Do you ever teach writing? And the rewrite process? Few of us get it right the first time. Many $1000-a-month+ sellers say, and say often that they dedicate time to taking a hard look at their poor-performing items and reworking them, changing the covers, tweaking, editing, or overhauling them. 
        Case in point: I spent MONTHS working on what I thought would be a wonderful series. It's my SONNET SERIES. Just THINK about this. . . 

Part One Product
The Sonnet: A History: A Power Point Presentation with companion Notes, Quiz and Key - Total 22 pages.

Part Two Product
The Sonnet: Meter and structure with Shakespeare with Shakespeare - a Power Point with 
       Notes, 7 Activities, 2 assessments, Keys.  45 pages+

I'm not even finished with the third product and I realized these might be TOO big, too inflexible, or too much of a commitment for what the topic is. Maybe buyers want choice and flexibility. Perhaps they just want a day activity for the sonnet, and not two whole weeks just for meter and structure! 
       These questions and more are the types of questions sellers should ask themselves when a product is not moving - especially for a product that they otherwise strongly believe in. 
      Other questions may have to do with aesthetics - the cover - its title size, font, placement, etc. Is the look of the cover "age appropriate" for the audience? It's important to remember that when you work on your computer, everything looks quite large. Your product will be reduced on TPT to a 1x1 inch tile (or maybe 1 and 1/2 inch, which is still very small) when a consumer is scrolling through items on the website. Remember this and place your large clear and readable font as close to the center of the product cover page as you can!!

Tip Three - Use Free Tutorials When You Can - And Say Thank You! It is Good Form

Before we start, remember that as teachers we live to educate and help others. Often times we aren't even aware of who we help. We don't always get the thanks we deserve. When we do get thanked, it means so much. If you download someone's freebie, if you read my blog or anyone's and it helps you, if you like someone's store and their offerings, if someone has helped you in any way at all, you really should:

  • Send them a little note of thanks
  • Like their store
  • Follow them via the venue in which you found them (their blog, Face Book, etc)
  • Give them positive feedback in some way
It is not that difficult or time-consuming to do. But it can make someone's day, let someone know that they are on the right track. It is the right and professional thing to do. Best case scenario is that they will be grateful and may even return the favor. Worst case scenario is that you get nothing in return but the knowledge that you did the right thing, but that is still something. AND NOW ONTO THE TUTORIALS AND FREE ITEMS. 

1. You can start right now with Charity Preston's free  "Mini Video Course on TPT and Social Marketing" - This is RIGHT on YOUR DASHBOARD on the lower right hand side. There are eight or nine videos you can watch that will walk you through how to use TPT and maximize your effectiveness from the beginning.

2.  Visit Core Inspiration by Laura Santos. A wonderful woman who not only has a great store with great items worth looking at, but who has taken the time to put together a couple of GREAT resources I STILL use today. She has a FANTASTIC product that walks you through. . . .

how to enhance your product description in TPT so that your BOLD and  underline, will stay put, how to link a secondary product in your description, for example:
"If you like this product but feel you'd also like an assessment to go along with it, consider our bundle:" (and here would go a LIVE link to your larger more expensive item which if clicked would divert readers to another product inside your store). 

BUT that's not all. She is kind enough to provide a sample blurb that provides advice to folks reading  YOUR product description on how to follow you, like you, and receive your updates. In my opinion, it's one of those really exceptional items I keep around and always open up . . . "How do I add that html again?" It's just great. She has other wonderful items too, and I am grateful enough that I am asking you all to follow and LIKE her store, see her great items, download this FREE product, say THANKS, and, there is at least one other free product you might really want, too. But Easter did just pass. You might need to go hunting for it.  :)

Selling Strategies may have been around for a long time, OR may be the new kid in town. I do know that right now, Selling strategies has at least 25 items in store, all geared specifically towards setting up and succeeding at being a seller. Most of these are very reasonably priced, and at least 6 of these are FREE. 
     I particularly liked "All Fonts are Not Created Equal" and "How to Create a Terms of Use Page." It takes many new sellers a long time to get around to buying or looking for fancy fonts. Terms of Use can be tricky, and many newbies - and I was newbier than most - simply didn't have or use a TOU page for a long time, which is not acceptable. Protect your work. 
         Similarly, download some items, like the store, and say thank you. Provide feedback in exchange for your good fortune! 

More Great TPT Tips Next Tuesday! 

And DO stop in on Friday for Feature Friday - When we secondary English folks get cozy and chat it up.

Feature Friday With your HOST Gina

                           And our wonderful
                   New English Teacher Friend 

 Laney from Teacher's Craft!

WE'll KEEP the Coffee Brewing! 

Gina - ThePerfettoWritingRoom

Do you want you join TpT but haven't? 

Friday, April 18, 2014

FEATURE FRIDAY #3: Getting Cozy! The Close Read with Sara Fuller, Gina and Coffee. . .

I'm your host, Gina of the PerfettoWritingRoom(c), store at teacherspayteachers.com and this cozy little blog, where friends meet to talk about TpT and my favorite subjects: English, language and writing.

It's April so let's talk about poetry, and close reading, the coziest of all types of reading.

CLOSE READING - is reading for understanding, though that understanding is one that moves from a simple read-through and "look up the definitions" type of understanding, to a more nuanced approach that is based on LAYERS. There is no strict order in which to follow a close reading process, though the list may look something like this. Keep in mind that EACH article in the list may require you to read again:

  • a simple read through
  • a reading while circling unfamiliar words. These must be looked up and you will read through again, understanding the text as a whole
  • summarizing or rewriting the text in your own words (not required, but this proves your understanding)
  • Noting words that demonstrated sound devices (assonance, consonance, alliteration, etc)
  • Figurative language, metaphor, simile, synecdoche, metonymy, personification, pathetic fallacy, and more)
  • Rhetorical devices 
  • Noting Structure (this includes - meter, rhyme scheme, or stanza, but may also include parallel structure, repetition, internal rhyme, and more) 
  • Tone - in particular the author or speaker's attitude toward the subject or characters being spoken about in the poem
  • Diction (word choice, level, usage).
  • OTHER - this may include historical, cultural, or background information known about the writer, if the piece is known to be semi-autobiographical or not, the period in which it was written or other elements that might enrich the reader's understanding or "reader response" to the poem.
THE Goal of the close read is to have a deeper appreciation and understanding of your text, in this case, your poem. AND, as the goal of most schools and colleges in to advance written and spoken communication, students should be able to write about what they now know or have learned about the poem through classroom discussion and then, a paper.

Sara Fuller is always having some crazy adventure or other

                                              Visit My Store - Ms. Fuller's Teaching Adventures!

Whether her adventure is teaching, coming up with some new product for her store on teacherspayteachers,  or hanging out with her cat Titus (you DID know Titus is short for Titus Andronicus, from Shakespeare, right?) Sara is always up to something.
       Sara left her post over at TpT, and her home not far from Cleveland to make a little pit stop at the PerfettoWritingRoom and have a little cup of coffee with me .  .   .

Is it me, or do English-loving folks the world over always have things in common? 

  • First of all . . . I had a black cat, I named him Horace after you guessed it, Horace Walpole, given credit for the first Gothic novel (though it's not very good). 
  • We both love travel. Sara is planning on going to California and Scotland this summer! Don't you just wish you could go too? I lived in San Diego for awhile . . . let me tell you, it's a great place, and I have visited many many countries. . .though I'm not going anyplace this year :(
  • And both of us have worked very hard in our respective teaching fields, performing in various roles and positions proving our worth and versatility along the way. Ms. Fuller, from "Ms. Fuller's Teaching Adventure's started her career "at an alternative high school," where she "then moved onto an alternative/special education school" and taught multiple subjects to grades 7-12. She adds that she "taught at a charter school where I taught 7th and 8th grade. This year I'm teaching writing courses at the local community college and I love it." 
  • Sara also loves "taking photographs [and] reading YA literature." Would you be shocked if I told you I did too? Yeah, I didn't think so. . .

Apparently, Ms. Fuller, from Ms. Fuller's Teaching Adventures is wonderful at making CLOSE READ Products as well. . .  

which happens to be one of my favorite activities from being in grad school and teaching college. When I saw this product and reviewed it, what really struck me was its versatility. See the pics below.

                           Ms. Fuller's Product (Cover)                                A Marked Up Page!

Not only does Ms. Fuller's Teaching Adventures offer 6 poems, the product is organized according to GRADE appropriate poetry, offers task cards, keys, and makes the entire process versatile (sort of like Sara herself). It seems Ms. Fuller agrees on its versatile and adds that "This is one of my very favorite products.  Though each poem has a recommended grade level they can be mixed and matched to your students' needs.  In addition there are task cards and for some poems multiple variations of the questions to allow for differentiation."

Though the cover SAYS it can be used for grade 6-12, this product has VERY SUCCESSFULLY been used at the college level. It includes five steps for understanding and analysis, "Ode on a Grecian Urn,"  "Ozymandias" and four other poems (I don't want to give away all the goodies)  and while this can be used all year long, we teachers just love using poetry at the end of the year. 

Now is the best time to pick it up  : )

My coffee is just about finished, but Sara told me she'll be having a sale. If you'd like stop by and see her store. Pop in say hi. It's very nice over there! 

And EVERY FRIDAY for Feature Friday - Secondary English Teachers from TpT!

WE'll KEEP the Coffee Brewing! 

Gina - ThePerfettoWritingRoom
Do you want you join TpT but havent? Let Me Refer you!

Take a gander at PerfettoWritingRoom's Store

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

TpT Tuesday! #2: "THIS kind of Money for What I love?" and Why You MUST Be Yourself

 1.  "Getting this kind of money for doing what I love? I wouldn't have imagined it possible." (Yes, advertising is good, but not everyone is advertising like crazy).                                      

                                        Melissa Shutler. . .

(visit Melissa's shop by clicking her name above)

 VARIETY, they say, is the spice of life. I say it confuses you and give you indigestion. Especially if you are trying to be successful. With so much advice, who do you listen to?

Melissa Shutler, lovely woman, successful teacher and product maker is surprising because she flouts some of the rules we've come to expect about how to succeed.

There are many paths to greatness, success, love, or whatever your life goal may be at the moment. It astounds me that while Melissa Shutler admits on the one hand that "I don't know why I have found success here. I haven't marketed a ton. My blog is weak," she also adds that "I just pour my heart and soul into everything I make. I get inspiration for new products from my students. I also find inspiration in the nonfiction section of the library.  I constantly look for ways to bring math and nonfiction together."
          Anyone who's been on TpT knows how important marketing is or seems to be. Apparently, loving what you do and doing it well CAN be enough. Advertising will only help. Advice: make good products, and do what you can, WHEN you can.

2. Do YOU think that BEING on TPT has MADE YOU A BETTER TEACHER? (Yes - and if you have an idea that helps your students and fills a need, it can be a successful product that will help others). 

                                                 Work Smarter, Not Harder (Love that name!) 
Work Smarter Not Harder
Click on the live link to visit the shop!
 "Work Smarter, Not Harder"says that "selling here has changed and improved the way I teach and the emphasis I place on materials I use. This is my 9th month and I am thankfully 20 away from my first 1000 in a month.  It has been an amazing journey and just like teaching, I am constantly reflecting, growing, and learning. I think originality goes a long way. If you can find that something that is lacking in your room, attempt to design or create it.  If you need it, chances are others do too!!"


 3. So I Should Just Go Out and Follow Their Advice? And Then I Will Start to Be More Successful?

Not so fast! Every week I'll be bringing you absolutely wonderful, and ever more specific advice. Sometimes the advice will be contradictory - and that is ok. 

Did you ever need to get somewhere, but you asked too many people for directions? One person wanted to draw a map, another person kept pointing to indicate left and right even though you lost track five turns ago, a third person was very fond of McDonald's and other fast food markers, and the last person insisted on using north, northeast, southwest, and maybe mile markers? It is enough to make you pull over at the side of the road, cry, and not want to go anywhere. JUST LOOK at how different and varied the "directions to success" can be. 

       You may wonder, what do you do FIRST? And Who's RIGHT 
       (maybe they all are, so be calm as you read. . . )

Please consider the Following . . . 
Amount of Items
Some successful sellers have 27 items and made over $1000 dollars a month. Others needed over 100 items. And yes, some have over 250.

Advertising/ Promotions/Linkies
As we've seen above there are sellers who are making $1000 (and much more) who "dabble" a little in advertising. There are others who swear by it and aver that they wouldn't be making what they are if they weren't relentlessly advertising on "fill-in-the-blank."

Grade Level -
There are $1000-and-over sellers at the elementary, middle and high school level. I do believe that there are more elementary level "big sellers" though there are many more elementary sellers in general. It makes sense.
So much has been made about the Elementary versus the High School sellers. I teach high school, and I don't want it to feel like we are all going to "duke it out in the parking lot after school." But hey, I have an old-school metal lunch box, and yes, I'm from Jersey. But the FACT remains if you just read a little further, I'll illuminate you on my larger point. PLEASE, put the lunch boxes and pointy objects down. We are all adults here.
Imagine TpT like an giant and elaborate juggling performance. A juggler has ONE BALL the moment he joins TpT. The other balls one can choose to juggle with are:
the forum; the tutorials offered by Tpt sellers; the freebies offered by TpT sellers; the newsletter; the promotion option and other steps on Tpt like fixing up your store; pinning and Pinterest; pinning parties; rafflecopters, giveaways and blog hops or other collaborative ventures; starting a blogs; joining bloglovin; FaceBook; instagram; twitter and more. . .

**PLEASE KNOW that you should feel free to "juggle" all, some, or nearly none of these. The very successful sellers use these to different degrees, and they began doing them at different times in different order as they felt ready and comfortable! There is no judgement or pressure in how much or how little you do, what you start with, etc. In fact, as Melissa Shutler above will contend, you do NOT have to juggle every ball, all the time, and well, to be what you or others consider successful. You only have to be yourself....and . . .



The most important thing you must realize, and then remember, is that YOU are on a very individual journey.

  • You can't trick the Buyer.  Don't make what you don't teach or specialize in. Numerous sellers have said don't make Kindergarten products if you teach 8th grade because you've decided you would make more money that way. You know what? You won't make more money. Same thing goes for clip art or other really "hot," "trendy" or high-selling areas. People are experts for a reason. Nothing is more chafing than someone telling you your job must be easy. Hey you're a teacher right? You get your summers off. So why should any of us think we can do so easily what another seller does at a different level?

  • Don't trick yourself either. You can spend hours researching what's hot and what's popular, but more likely, what will do well is something that you will think of that inspires and fascinates you. If you continually look outside yourself to what others are doing, you may really be selling yourself and your potential short. Ultimately you will less satisfied and fulfilled. The best new product you create can only come from your own head and heart. 

  • Find out what you are specifically good at - then make more versions of it. You already know you sell high school social studies, or fifth grade specializing in geography. The fateful day will come when you make a "hot button product" that buyers can't get enough of. Sorry, but this is an organic process that you'll probably just stumble up. When it happens, Meredith Anderson (the first to mention this, who is another top seller) suggests that you use ideas in NEW and multiple ways ( take your simple product and expand it into a unit, a single lesson, as task cards, as a Power Point, a game, for more than one level, you get the idea) in order to maximize its reach and selling potential.), or make different volumes. (see final bullet).

                                                                  Meredith Anderson
                                                               (click on the live Name link!)

  • ONCE you Have Done That - you are in effect Building Your Store!

    It has been said on the thread too, do NOT add items to your store simply for the sake of it. If you put sub-par items in your store, you may get the reputation of not caring very much, or having low quality items in general. Every item should be your best. If it takes longer, so be it. Have good strong items that represent who you are, and what you are passionate about.

  • The Bundle. One you have a Bigger store and items that are RELATED, (a little of this was tangentially touched upon by Meredith Anderson) make a SERIES out of them if you can and feel it is appropriate and fun to do. Then, bundle them. I will not say much more about this, except to say there will be more about this in another post.

4. SOME TIPS FROM THE HEART, By PerfettoWritingRoom

                                                      You didn't know I have a new logo?
                                                       Stop by, pop in and say "Hi" 

1.  I WANT to talk about the following in the next few weeks:
Bundles (types and ways to do it)
Advertising (Copromote, linkies, pinning, FB etc. etc)
And so much more
But I'd like to clarify that

2. The worst thing you can do is read a TpT Tips for Tuesday post, and then follow the advice "just because" you believes it will lead to success without any thought to your own personal gut instinct.
REMEMBER that this post is itself about "Variety" and contradiction, really. While everyone on the thread succeeded, they all did it using the tools of success in their own way, and they did it by being themselves. What worked for one person didn't work for someone else.
      You'll know it's time to take a new step on your journey WHEN you feel "excited" by the prospect. IF you feel NERVOUS or if you feel stressed out by it, then it isn't time to do it yet. I know that perhaps some of you might think "Oh this is so obvious." Actually it isn't. There are so many people that get overwhelmed by the many tasks required.
     My husband Gene says.
"How do you eat the elephant?"
One bite at a time."

3. Tpt Tips for Tues has the SAME problems as the problems you will find in any self-help book.  
You must remember to be yourself or risk being led astray. 
        Melissa Shutler, "Work Smarter, Not Harder" and Meredith Anderson are successful because they are themselves, and they did what they loved. You can't fake life, or your products. 

4. The little SECRET is this. Fiction writers always want to distance themselves from their work and say "I am not my book." This is the lie;  but it is this lie that enables them to plumb the horrors, the agony and ecstasy, the closets of their aunts and attics of their grandmothers to write with abandon and, if not without fearlessness, then at least without fear of certain kinds of retribution. Even fiction is a kind of truth.
(I accept the hate mail).

            *Authors are their books. And you are your products. Be yourself, and you will sell.*

And lastly let us go back to our very first sentences "VARIETY, they say is the spice of life. I say it confuses you and give you indigestion. Especially if you are trying to be successful.  With so much advice, who do you listen to?"

The answer is to Use TpT Tips Tuesday as a guide.... but LISTEN TO YOURSELF.

please join this blog!

WE'll KEEP the Coffee Brewing! 

and Don't Forget that Feature Friday  . . .
                   is right around the Corner!

Gina - ThePerfettoWritingRoom
Do you want you join TpT but havent? Let Me Refer you!
Take a gander at PerfettoWritingRoom's Store   

Friday, April 11, 2014

FEATURE FRIDAY 2 - Kim Kroll - Teacher, and Animal Handler?

What I love MOST about TpT is meeting new people, and finding out how very much I like them and have in common with them. Kim Kroll is one of these people who loves animals, and language arts as much as I do. About five or six days ago, thanks to a thread I started that was a call to action and support for secondary English and Writing teachers on TpT, Kim and I started chatting. . .

                                                                          Kim Kroll

Kim and I have never met but lived not that far apart for years - I'm from NJ and she's from Delaware - and apparently, I missed a fantastic opportunity to meet a really wonderful person. Kim has recently moved to San Antonio Texas. From what I understand, the stars at night are very big and bright over there. . .

Have Any of You Been There??
San Antonio is one of the most lovely places. I went there at probably a less than ideal time (summer) but the Alamo, the River Walk, the long list of restaurants, thriving artist community, access to recreation and let us NOT forget the EVER WEIRD and VERY COOL AUSTIN that is nearby makes it a place with a unique and piquant cultural flavor.

What is Kim Kroll up to?
Did you ever feel so busy, days go by and you just can't keep track? I imagine you have, and Kim has too. A new arrival to San Antonio, she has had a very long and satisfying 20+-year run as a Delaware teacher, eleven years of this with 6th and 7th graders.

 Kim is still hard at work, teaching . . . though not where you'd expect.

The San Antonio Zoo? How Cool is that?

Sure, I'll admit it, I wanted to be a snake handler and work in a zoo when I was younger. Or last week. Ask Kim Kroll about snake handline. . .Yeah, she's checked THAT off her "to do" list. Working with lemurs? Watching an addax give birth...

Sure. . . Why NOT? Kim Kroll DOES that now, after a life of teaching students, she is lifting up rosy boas aloft for children (like me, age undisclosed) to touch and learn about. You are aware that they are not slimy, right?And Kim hasn't even BEEN at the San Antonio Zoo that long - a bit more than three months. She says she can't imagine how much more she will learn, but  adds that "I'm sure it's just a matter of time before I find ways to work [my new-found knowledge] into my TpT products!" After what must have felt like a lifetime in a classroom, Mrs. Kim Kroll is now creating her products at night after working days as an educator at the zoo.

My take is that life affords all of us opportunities we never saw coming. Some wondrous, though they are terrifying at first. It's up to us to open our hearts to them and make of them what we can. We can turn a blind eye, or hard back against it, or embrace it as Kim and her husband have done (Kim's husband is in the military) and open ourselves up to a new challenge and grow as a result.

What Kim and I BOTH LOVE About April -
(no it's probably not the pictures below. . .)

Kim joked that she was swinging with the monkeys at her new job - and it sounds like a lot of fun. About the amount of fun students want to have once the April comes around. No matter how good we are as teachers, haven't we all had that moment when the student turn longingly towards the windows? Who can compete with the smell of new grass, the turn of sunlight stronger than before, signalling schooltime is nearing its end?

Students need to be engaged, busy and learning until the end of the year, so the more active they are, the better. April is a great time for poetry and fiction writing both. The economy of words, critical thinking, focus on spelling, grammar and usage is STILL EVERY BIT AS IMPORTANT in fiction and poetry as it is in your traditional essay. Cut your students' attention span some slack, why don't you!? Give them something fun to write about.

When the students look like this . . . 


Maybe you should help them out a little bit . . .

The "Exquisite Corpse" turns into "Collab-O-Writing" for a Broader Age
One of my all-time favorite activities always used to be called - and correct me if I'm wrong - an exquisite corpse. This is an unbelievably fun activity that lasts up to two days. I went through the process myself in graduate school and really enjoyed it.THE IDEA, which you may already know, is that students write multiple stories together at the same time. By the time I was overjoyed to try the exquisite corpse, the instructor did almost nothing. The reason is because the The exquisite corpse is really a concept for higher level students (again - graduate school), where everyone already has a finely-honed ability, style, and well-developed understanding of story.  Even the name indicates an aura of jargon-y nonsense. I suppose a fifth grader might think of gory Halloween when the word "corspe" is thrown is thrown around, but the term is generally confusing for students and not very descriptive of its function or rules.
           Of course the exquisite corpse has its problems. Problems multiple and messy in fact when tried in a timed environment with school-aged students, anywhere from five to ten papers in circulation at once, and fast and slow writers all working together.

This is perhaps another reason why I liked talking so much with Kim. She had thought up of a way to engage students of a very WIDE AGE range, using a similar technique to the exquisite corpse, but adding elements that made it easy for the teacher to use, AND incorporated transition words during the course of the writing process, clearly something that a regular exquisite corpse couldn't do. Called "Collab-O-Writing" Kim created a usable and very beneficial material out of a fun but otherwise theoretical concept that wasn't very functional in the middle school and high school classroom. Once I saw it, I realized that it:


          Collab-O-Writing #2 With TRANSITIONS. COMPLETE packet (Fun
                           Kim's Store                                               Visit Kim's Cool Product

  1. has common core applications
  2. TEACHES transitions within the context of story writing 
  3. Employs skills transferable to the essay writing process
  4. Is undeniably fun and engaging
  5. Is streamlined for ease of use for students and the teacher
  6. Had many extended uses (team story collections, rewrites and final drafts, reading aloud, team or class publication options).
  7. Last but certainly not least "Collab-O-Writing" is simply a clever portmanteau word! Thanks Kim!

In short, Kim, who not that long ago lived nearby (though I had never met her) had unwittingly improved upon MY VERY FAVORITE (and I thought used only by me) class writing activity, then moved all the way to Texas, stealing my favorite "What-would-you-be-if-you-weren't-a-teacher" job?
  Kim, my hero of the week!

I don't much care that it's April and I should be doing poetry, I LOVE LOVE this product and think it's worth a nice look-see. Finish your coffee - if you are with me now at press time - and stop by to pay her a visit. She did move to San Antonio not that long ago. Check in at her "house" at TpT and pay her a visit - we all like a visit now and then . . . 

And EVERY FRIDAY for Feature Friday - Secondary English Teachers from TpT!

WE'll KEEP the Coffee Brewing! 

Gina - ThePerfettoWritingRoom
Do you want you join TpT but havent? Let Me Refer you!

Take a gander at PerfettoWritingRoom's Store

TELL US - WHAT is a COOL, FUN, Interactive Writing Activity for Students, Grades 8 and Up??Let's Get the Conversation Started!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Feature Friday; A TpT Secondary English Feature

Wonderful People Who Will be Visiting With Us Each Friday! Get the Coffee Ready!

Me! Your Blog Host   


The Secondary ELA Tentative Lineup!!!

The Value of TpT - and Feature Friday. . .

  1.  I am so happy to feature new friends, colleagues and compatriots in teaching, creating, and curating wonderful materials for use by teachers, writers, home-schoolers, and more. What I find most amazing about Teacherspayteachers.com is that even though there are three million sellers on site, TpT can and often does feel like a family. 
  2. It is a wonderful place where you have the opportunity, online, to meet other people who are interested in the craft and the art of teaching and educating. 
  3. A place to learn how to improve what you are currently doing, and to find inspiration for new ideas, courage to forge new friendships, new units and materials for your own class, or new business ventures. 
  4. A place to feel very good about where you are right now, AS you are, and also a place to launch oneself, to take that giant leap forward, on your own, or with a little help from your friends. 
  5. I would not be able to host the Virtual Sit Down that is Feature Friday if it weren't for TpT. We hail from places scattered and wide across America. This alone feels very comforting and liberating. That here, we can come and meet qualified people like ourselves who are so good at what they do, who all share one thing in common, and that we can support each other, visit and peruse each others' great items and learn a little more about each others lives. 

WE Will See You Tomorrow!
Have you visited my store?

If you haven't joined TpT yet,  let me refer you!