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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Best Color Printer for Teachers!

The Teacher's Toolbox
Okay, so I just have to share this with you. Early last summer, when I'd had enough of buying ink cartridges and being interrupted in the middle of printing jobs with those "replace magenta" messages, I started researching printers. 

Now, this is not my favorite thing to do. I like shopping, but I really don't like shopping for tech-related items. It's always such a scary thing for me - such a commitment. What if I make the wrong choice? Then I'm stuck with it. Despite this, I put my big-girl pants on and did my homework. 

One option I found is to subscribe to an ink replacement service but I really did NOT like the idea of a monthly payment and still being limited to how many pages I can print, rollovers, etc... I didn't want the printing police standing over my shoulder every time I hit 'print'. 

Then I found this: the Epson EcoTank Color Printer. A year later, the angels are still singing its praises! I love this printer! 

The Teacher's Toolbox

Let me just put this out there right away: It is not cheap. $399. There. I said it. But let me tell you why this is the best investment I've ever made: No cartridges. No monthly fees. No guesstimating how many pages you'll print. That's right! This printer comes with ink tanks that last two years, or 4,000 black and 6,500 color pages. This is for the ET-4500 model that I have. You can get even more pages from the 4550

But let me translate this into real life. I'm a teacher in a special-ed classroom. I make A LOT of adapted materials for my classroom. This requires A LOT of color printing. I'm also a seller & buyer on Teachers Pay Teachers and you know what that means - lots of printing. I was a little pessimistic as to just how long my ink would last. But you know what? I just now replaced the black ink - a year later!! And the color ink tanks are still half-full. That's amazing! Did I mention I print A LOT?
And it gets better... the ink bottles are only about $12 a bottle! You can get them here on Amazon, or at your local office supply store. I'll show you how easy this was. 
Here's a side view of my printer and those are the ink tanks. Black is all the way to the right and is nearly empty. 
Open your ink bottle. 
Fill the tank with ink. 

No mess if you're careful. One tiny spot on my hand. 

Reset the ink levels and ta-da! I'm good to go! Looks like I'll be replacing Yellow next summer. 

By the way, this printer also has all the other techie-good-stuff: All-in-one, wireless, wi-fi, scanner, copier, fax...

So, if you're in the market for a new printer, I recommend this one. This was just the right printer for me. Full disclosure, I use Amazon affiliate links, but I'm not trying to get people to buy this printer. I just want to share my discovery with other teachers so you, too, can be ink-saver free! Do your own homework, of course. Some of the reviews are negative (which I don't get), but if you're just using this printer at home and not running an Office Depot, you should be very happy with it. You can get it on Amazon with free shipping if you're a Prime member. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below if you have any questions and certainly let me know if you decide to buy one! Happy printing! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Enter to win!

Don't forget to enter our giveaway! Contest ends 6/26!  

Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway Organized by: An Apple for the Teacher

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 6/26/16 and is open worldwide.  

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Organizing Manipulatives & a TPT Giftcard Giveaway!

Here's an excuse to shop that Target dollar spot! AND if you keep reading to the end, you can enter to win a $25 TPT gift card to make up for all that shopping! 

I have a lot of these cute little manipulatives. I use them as counters, game pieces, in exploration and sensory bins and in so many different ways. One of my favorite ways to use these are for my non-verbal students. We use alphabet mats and sight-word mats daily in our small groups. When I call out a letter or sight-word, the students place their counter (bead, flower, star, acorn...) on the letter/word. Great way to assess, too! 

I used to just throw them in baggies in a bin but now I keep them in this organizer and I LOVE it! 
 The boxes are clear, so you can see exactly what you've got. The boxes fit into the carrying case and it stacks nicely on a shelf. 
 I'll probably end up getting another one of these because you just CAN'T have too many seasonal mini-erasers! 
You can get the large-sized case of 16 boxes on Amazon for about $30. It sells as a 'photo-storage' case, but teachers have a way of finding new uses for things, don't we?! They also have a smaller version for about $10 for a case of 6 boxes. Then you can add to your collection a bit at a time. So, there you go! Another reason to buy up all those Target dollar spot finds! 


Prize: $25 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway Organized by: An Apple for the Teacher

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 6/26/16 and is open worldwide.  

Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Check here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Just in! Superhero Nametags & Labels for the classroom!

Next year, we are having a school-wide Superhero theme! Our motto: Learning is our super-power! Cute! I just made up some adorable nametags for my classroom. I can't wait to get them set up so I can post pictures for ya! 

If you like them, you can get a set for your classroom, too. Just click on the image below:
 Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox

I'm sure I'll have to restrain myself from buying up everything superhero! I did find these a few months ago at the Dollar Tree and I'm so glad I grabbed them! 

So cute! Can't wait to get started on the new theme! 

If you have a super cute superhero classroom, leave a link to your blog or picture below in the comments. Would love to share! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

A sad day for my home state

Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox

Easy-to-use printables for Kindergarten Sight-words

Do you use Wonders? It's the Mc-Graw-Hill reading series that we use at my school. I use it in my K-3 special-ed class and there are a lot of things I really like about it. One of the struggles we all face now is teaching very young children to read. In Kindergarten, they must learn a minimum of 40 sight-words. Yikes! The Wonders reading series breaks them up into ten units. 

To make this easier in my classroom, I've created these simple little checklists for my students to use. It's a great tool for them and for me. Students can use it for their word work, at centers and for homework. Their parents can use it at home for practice and it's a great way for them to know how their child is progressing. I use it for quick checks and weekly assessments. 
Sight word practice and Assessment

There's also a complete list of all of the words from all ten units. I use this periodically to monitor how many words my students have. I also use this list as remediation for my special needs students who are not quite on grade-level. It gives them a way to feel successful as the lists are broken down into smaller tasks and they can move on as they are ready. Click on the image below for a free printable sample
 Freebie! Sight-word checklist 
For homework, I use these sight-word practice sheets. There are 4 pages per week. These can also be used for independent practice or morning work. You don't even have to be using Wonders to use these practice sheets. 

They introduce the words and provide different ways to practice the same words for the week. There's even a spot for parents to initial. 

Most importantly, each page includes a fluency box with the new words and review words. The fluency box is on each page for daily practice and review of past words. As you know, fluency of sight words will help students become more confident readers. So, the more practice we can provide, the better! There are also weeks of review included throughout the packet and review pages at the end. 
Click on the image below to get this packet:
 Sight-Word Homework

Monday, June 6, 2016

Time to Pack! Freebie!

As the song goes... Get on the bus, Gus! Just drop off the key, Lee! Am I dating myself?? It's a Paul Simon song that just came to mind when I was thinking about packing up the classroom and leaving for the summer. 

It's bittersweet. All the effort that goes into making our classrooms look so inviting, especially in elementary school, and then we just take it all down a few months later. Some years, I like to leave certain things on the walls: bulletin board fabric, alphabets, etc... Other years, I'm tearing it down and stuffing my recycle bin and trash cans as fast as I can. 

Whatever your method is, you probably have a lot to do. So here's a handy little checklist to make the job easier. Click on the image below to get your checklist. Happy Summer! 
 Mrs. Irvin's Toolbox

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Another school year complete!

If you've been teaching awhile, or even if you haven't, you're probably experiencing that warp-speed feeling you get at this time of year. There was a time, earlier in my career, when I felt like I'd never make it to June. Now, I feel like the calendar is racing me to the finish line! There's never enough time to meet all the goals we set for ourselves and the deadlines that have been set for us. 
Luckily, there's summer break! If it weren't for this, we may just keep extending our own timelines in order to meet our goals. And if it weren't for summer break, we would NEVER take a break! 

Everyone knows teachers work all summer preparing for the coming year. But the pace is our own and the quiet time is also a bonus! ;) I am so looking forward to this renewal period. There will be family time, a little beach time and lots of cleaning and reorganizing both at home and in my classroom. But that's what gets me excited to start another year. Nothing beats the feeling of being organized and prepared. 

 Register here!
Did I mention I'll be attending the TPT conference in Orlando in July? I can't tell you how excited I am about that! (more to come about that later) If you're attending the conference, let me know in the comments. It'll be fun to network and make new friends!