Thursday, February 27, 2014

3 Million Teachers Linky Party!

The sale is ON!!! However, my store is asleep! LOL!

To pass the time, I thought I'd try hosting my first linky party for other sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers. If you'd like to post a link to your favorite product, you may post it here. I think it would be nice if everyone would post one link for their own product, and one for a product in someone else's store that you think is fabulous, plan to buy, or wish you created yourself. Share the love!

I look forward to checking out all the wonderful products! Thanks for visiting! I hope you'll check out my new blog while you're here. :)

Thanks and best wishes, all!

An InLinkz Link-up

Create.Educate.Inspire: Blog Design... What do you think?

Suzanne at Create.Educate.Inspire: Blog Design... What do you think? designed her own blog, and I love what she did! I'd love to learn how to do this myself. Check it out! Click on the link above. What do you think?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Three Million Teachers SALE!

Wow! Can you believe it? Teachers Pay Teachers has grown to 3,000,000 teachers! That's right! Three million teachers have discovered the wonderful opportunity that TpT offers to augment their teaching plans with resources created by other teachers, just like them!

To celebrate, TpT will be holding a site-wide sale on February 27-28. That's this Thursday and Friday! As a gift to all my loyal followers, I wanted to give you a virtual "heads-up" so that you can plan your purchases accordingly. There are so many wonderful products to be found on the site, but I hope you will take the opportunity to visit my store at because my ENTIRE STORE will be 28% off for both days!

I am especially excited about my updated math centers bundle for grades 3-4. This is a "Forever" product because anyone who buys it will receive all future math task cards I create for this grade level span FREE as I add them to my store! I have another set that should be ready to add to this bundle shortly after the sale. Buy the bundle during the sale at a 28% discount off the already discounted bundle price of 30% off, and get the new product FREE.

The price of the bundle will go up as I add more task cards, so purchase Thursday or Friday, February 27-28 in order to receive the full discount, as well as FREE access to future math task cards for grades 3-4. You can find this fabulous bundle here:

Make sure to use Promo Code TPT3 at checkout to receive your full discount!

See you at the sale!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How to Copyright-Protect Your Product Pins on Pinterest

I promised to write a blog post about how to copyright-protect your Pinterest pins, but then I got sidetracked by a different topic, so here goes. J

Since I  previously wrote about how to create long Pinterest pins, I’m going to start with a pin that has already been created, but just needs the final layer of copyright protection. Read my previous posts about creating products and pins in order to find out more about copyright protection in these steps.)

Step #1: Open the Pin

This pin just needs a few more steps to make it difficult for someone to copy my product without paying for the privilege. J

Step #2: Insert and Format the Copyright Symbol

Click on “Insert” at the top of your page, then click on “Symbol.”

You’ll see a list of symbols. Scroll through until you find the circled c copyright symbol. (On my MacbookPro, this is under the “Trade” set of symbols.) Click on the symbol, then click on “Copy.”

As you can see, the symbol is way too small, so you will need to make it bigger.

Highlight the symbol with your mouse, then click on “Format,” then “Font,” and change the size. 

You can choose to make it smaller, and copy it many times, or make it large enough to cover most of the items on your pin. I do this by making the font size 1,000. You have to manually type this number in where the font size is located. Then click “Save” or “Okay.”

Step #3 Drag and Drop

Next, drag the symbol where you want it to be on your pin. If you want it to appear multiple times, you will need to copy and paste it multiple times. 

Make sure that each inside page of your product  is covered with the symbol. Don’t worry that you can’t see through it at this point. We’ll fix that next.

Step #4 Transparency

Although you want to protect your product from being illegally copied, you still want viewers to be able to see what’s inside. Otherwise they may decode not to purchase. So, you need to make the copyright symbol somewhat transparent. You can actually do this before step #3 if you want. I like to do it after because it’s easier for my eyes to see before the symbol is transparent, but do what works for you.

In order to make the symbol(s) transparent, you must highlight the symbol again with your mouse. 

Then go up into “Format,” click on “Font Color” then “White” and then click “Text Effects.” Click and hold the “Transparency” button, adjusting it from one side to the other. I usually set mine to around 60%, but use whatever works for you. You want to be able to see through the copyright symbol well enough to get a good luck at the product, but you want to make it dark enough that no one will want to print it out that way.

Step #5 Save Your Pin

At this point, I like to save my pin as both a file and a JPEG. 

To save as a JPEG, click on “File,” then “Save As,” make sure it’s listed as JPEG or JPG, then click on “Save.” This will save the pin as a new picture, which flattens and protects all the images on the pin from being lifted out and used elsewhere.

Step #6 Rename It

Open your Finder to locate the pin. 

Click on the title “Slide01.jpeg” and then on “Rename.” 

Rename the slide with whatever you want to name it, but leave the file extension as .jpeg or .jpg. I like to add the word “Pin” (Pin for Multiply 2-3 Digit Numbers.jpg) to the name to make it easier to find later when it’s time to pin it to Pinterest. It’s your choice, though. Scroll to the end of the name (after .jpeg or .jpg) and click “Enter.”

Step #7

Your new copyright-protected pin is ready to pin to Pinterest! Congratulations! You did it!

I hope this post was helpful to you! Please leave a comment or question below, and come back to my blog often!

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, February 17, 2014

"Where's the Chocolate?"

“I’m sorry. The brain you are trying to reach has been temporarily disconnected. Please try again later, after its owner has consumed vast quantities of peanut butter and chocolate.”

This is how I feel after a school day filled, not with real teaching, but with IEP meetings, staff meetings, grade level PLC meetings, and/or most district-level in-service training meetings. Numb. Zoned out. Mentally disconnected. Certainly not rejuvenated, empowered, or engaged, ready to go back to my classroom with renewed enthusiasm and energy.

It wasn’t always this way. When I first entered the teaching profession, almost 16 years ago now, I LOVED any kind of training meeting. I always came back from them with new things I’d learned and that I could use immediately in my classroom. It was exciting to share a classroom with other teachers from all over the district, share our successes and our failures, make new friends, and continue to share with one another years after the training day.

It started every September with the new training day classes booklet. Inside were lists of classes for each range of grade levels, where the classes would be held (never in the district office, BTW, almost always in the classroom of the teacher conducting the training), the times/dates for the training classes, and the number of teachers allowed in each session.

We were allowed to sign up for a total of five classes each year (although we wanted more), and we could wait as long as the week before a training class in order to sign up, if we wanted. However, we knew better than to wait. The best classes filled up fast, so we signed up as fast as we could. We’d meet with our teacher friends during lunch in the staff room (yes, we actually sat down and ate lunch daily) to discuss the classes we wanted to take, and we’d all call in our choices by the end of the week.

On training day, we’d carpool from our school, then sit together in the training class, not to waste time with idle chatter, but to talk about how we would use the strategies or supplies in our own classroom when we returned. If there wasn’t enough room in our class for everyone we knew who wanted to attend, we’d take notes, or make extra copies, to share with other teachers back “home.” We didn’t compare test scores, or try to pinpoint who was the best teacher. We just shared, and helped each other.

Principals did not show up at these trainings to check on us. There was a sign-in sheet, and we were trusted to take a reasonable lunch, as well as breaks when we needed them. There were bowls of chocolate on the tables, and we shared handfuls with each other, grinning about the mood-lifting properties of chocolate which were extolled by researchers. We were sharing not just the chocolate, but also a love of teaching and learning, a love of sharing our enthusiasm with each other, a love of the difference we were making in the lives of our children.

We didn’t need to be policed because we WANTED to be there. We talked. We laughed. We LEARNED: from the classroom teacher,  from the trainers, and from each other. When we returned to school we were enthusiastic about what we learned, eager to share new lessons and new materials with our students. Years later, we still shared new learning materials we had stumbled upon, or which had been shared with us by a colleague. We sent them by district “pony mail” to other schools where other training day friends worked, because that’s what they were to us: Friends. Colleagues. Teachers. Never competitors.

Unfortunately, this is not the way we are trained today. I can’t remember the last training day where we were allowed to choose what interested us, where we learned from Master Teachers, shared ideas with other teachers, or came home excited to share what we learned with our students. Today’s trainings usually involve district bureaucrats, corporate trainers, and principals acting as police officers to ensure our compliance. 

When asking fellow teachers what they thought of the training there is usually much eye rolling, groaning, and exasperation. Today there is definitely no sharing, no enthusiasm, and definitely no eagerness to apply what has been learned.

Today I ask, “Where’s the chocolate?”

Sunday, February 16, 2014

“My Babies! My Babies!” How to Increase Document Security and Protect Your Work from Thieves

“My Babies! My Babies!” How to Increase Document Security and Protect Your Work from Thieves

You’ve spent all this time creating products for TpT and you’re finally ready to upload them to the site. It’s kind of like sending your babies off to meet the world on their own. How do you protect them? Unfortunately, there are thieves in the world who are ready to take your work and claim it as their own, even profit from it. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent them from trying, you can do several things to make it extremely difficult for them, so that hopefully they decide to leave your work alone.

First, TpT is primarily a site for teachers. Being a teacher myself, I believe that most teachers are good and noble people with high moral characters. However, every group has a few rotten apples, and our profession is no exception. We’ve even had a few new sellers on TpT who stole the work of others and posted it as their own! While TpT site administrators take a dim view of these thieves, it can be extremely traumatic for the victims to go through the process of having to prove their work has been stolen. As sellers, we share best practices for copyright protection with each other. Here are a few of the ones I have learned from others and which I use on my products.

1. Appeal to their good side.

Every one of my products contains a page with my copyright information. I can’t take credit for writing it, as another TpT seller (I don’t remember which one) shared her wisdom with the rest of us on the Sellers Forum. I gave it some minor tweaks, including my name instead of hers, things like that. I tell my buyers that I am a teacher, just like them, that I work hard on my products, and remind them of the law concerning my copyrighted works not being copied or posted to the Internet, as this allows my hard work to be stolen by others. I think most teachers respond to this and act in good faith to follow the rules.

2. Make it difficult to copy your work without knowing it’s wrong.

You’ll also notice that the bottom of every page of my products includes my store name and the year, “Copyright Carol’s Garden 2014,” along with the name of the product. This goes at the bottom of EVERY PAGE of my products, except the cover, which has my store logo prominently displayed. If someone tries to copy my work, they will have to white out or digitally remove that copyright information. This is a pain, but also forces them to re-examine their intentions, again appealing to their good side.

3. Use a phantom phrase.

Another protection I use is the phantom phrase. I learned this one from Tools for Teachers’ Laurah J. Torres. She’s one of the “tech gurus” among the sellers on the forums, and she answers many of our copyright questions. Laurah knows computer language inside and out. She recommends placing an unusual phrase, which only you know and will remember, behind all your work, on every page. No one but you and your computer will know it’s there, but an Internet search will help you locate any documents which contain that phrase.

For instance, let’s say that I use the phrase, “Penny’s purple purse was eaten by broccoli!” as my phantom phrase. The easiest way to insert it in my document would be to start with a blank page, type the phrase in white text so that it blends in, and then add all my other text and graphics on top of the phrase.

However, let’s say that either I forgot to do that, or else I just found out about this “phantom phrase” technique, and want to add it to an existing document. It’s not too late. J

First I open the document. Then, I click “Insert, Text Box” and use the mouse to click and drag the box to the desired size. I type the phantom phrase,  “Penny’s purple purse was eaten by a broccoli!” 

Next, I change the color of the phrase to white so that it “disappears” into the background of the paper. 

Finally, I click on “Arrange, Send to Back” so that it is hidden behind all the other elements on the page. I know it’s there, and most importantly, the computer knows it’s there, but anyone viewing the document will never see it, and would not know what to look for unless I told them my secret phrase. 

Later, after posting my product to the Internet, I can type this phrase into a search engine to search for any illegal postings of my products.

4. Save each page as a picture.

This step is a fabulous way to prevent anyone from modifying your work. It also “locks down” any graphics or clipart (which most clip artists require in their TOU’s) so that they cannot easily be lifted from your product and used elsewhere. PDFs are NOT secure!

(If you did NOT use PowerPoint to create your product, you can take a screen shot of each page and use those to complete the next step. Otherwise, you may follow these directions.) With your finished document still open in PowerPoint, click on, “File, Save As Pictures.” Change the format from JPEG to PNG (clearer than JPEG), and click on “Save.” You will see a screen notifying you that each page has been saved to a new file with the same name as your product.

Next, open the Finder to locate the new pictures. They will be named “Slide01.png,” “Slide02.png,” “Slide03.png,” etc. Double-click on each slide until all of them are open on your desktop. (I like to do this in numerical order to keep the pages organized.)

Find “Slide01.png” and click on the name “Slide01.png.” You should see a drop-down menu. Click on “Rename,” and delete just the part that says, “Slide,” leaving the “01.png” and type in the name of your presentation. Then move your cursor all the way to the right before clicking on “Save.” (Otherwise, the name will revert to “Slide01.png” and you will have to start all over again!) Repeat these steps for each slide of your product.

5. PDF It

Once that’s finished, it’s time to create the final version of your product. Go back to PowerPoint, open a new document, and set it up with the same format (page orientation and size) you used for your product. Then copy and paste each slide in the correct order into the new PowerPoint. Click on “Save.” (I like to add the word, “FINAL” to this version, in order to distinguish it from the previous version, which I keep in case I need to make changes later.) 

Then click on “Save As,” and change the document format to PDF. Each of these steps is important, and all of them add to the security of your document.

Now your product file is ready to post to the site! You still need to create a preview, description, and tags the standards, but the hard part is done! Congratulations! Your product “babies” are ready to face the world!

I hope this post was helpful to you! If it was, or if you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I hope you’ll stop by my blog again soon for my next post, “How to copyright your preview and protect your pins on Pinterest.”

Thank you for stopping by! Have a wonderful week and come back soon!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What Program Should I Use to Create My Products for TpT?

What Program Should I Use to Create My Products for TpT?

Scrolling through the forum topics, I often see this question from newbies, “What program should I use to create my products for TpT?” My opinion/answer seems to mirror that of many of the other sellers on TpT, and is in two parts.

First, use whatever program works for you. There are at least a dozen different programs that are used to create products for sale on TpT. If the program you are using works for you, then there’s no reason why you should not continue. However, if you’re the one posting the question, or checking the answers left by the other sellers, then chances are that your program of choice is NOT working for you. These questions are usually broken down further into a choice between Word and PowerPoint. That’s where the second part of my answer comes into play.

If your product consists mostly of text, then Word is the program to use. That’s why it’s named “Word.” :D It’s designed for typing and formatting text, and it’s pretty easy to use for that purpose. In addition, most schools and businesses have computers with Word installed, and most users are familiar with the program. That’s why my first several products were designed in Word.

Here comes the “But,” part. If your product contains a lot of graphics or other elements designed to make it more visually pleasing, then Word may just drive you nuts. I know this from my own experience. I had used Word for years, was familiar with it, and didn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t use it to create my products, BUT it irritated me no end when it came time to add graphics to my pages. Clipart seemed to “jump” or “hide” behind other features whenever I added a new one. I could never seem to get things lined up and STAY the way I wanted them. Instead, the whole page seemed to be “melting” off the edge. My work definitely did not look professional!

After a few months of this, I finally stumbled onto the TpT Sellers Forum, where I read one of those, “What Program Should I Use to Create My Products for TpT?” posts. Seller after seller recommended PowerPoint! They extolled its virtues at great length, saying how much easier it was to use in every way, especially with products which included visuals. Although I had used PowerPoint in my classroom, it was not my “go to” program. After reading all the sellers comments, however, I decided to give it a try.

I have to admit it was difficult at first. Word was second nature to me, while PowerPoint was not. However, when I placed graphics into my new products, they actually STAYED where I put them! No more tracking them down or playing frustrating games of “Hide and Seek” with visual elements! Plus, little crosshairs magically appeared whenever I placed items on the page, and “told” me whenever items were lined up perfectly straight with other page elements, even items that were all the way on the other side of the page! AND if I wanted to copy all the formatting on a given page (especially when I was making task cards or other repetitive pages) all I had to do was click on the page thumbnail to the left of the main screen, go to “Edit, Copy,” and then paste an exact copy of that page as an entirely new page! WOOOOOOO HOOOOOOO!!!!!! Ridiculous excitement ensued, plus I saved untold hours of work over the next several months. Now I would never go back to Word to create my products, unless I was creating a literature unit, or something else text-heavy like that.

Now I am definitely in the “PowerPoint Sellers Club," so to speak. I still stumble onto new features all the time, all of which makes creating products easier. It especially helps when I am adding copyright information to my products, which I’ll review in a different post.

I hope this post has helped you! If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I’ll try my best to answer it. J

Have a wonderful week!
Carol (Carol’s Teaching Garden)

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