Saturday, June 20, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

DIY Goodbye Gifts On the Fly

Here is a Simple Goodbye Gift for My Students I Made On The Fly

 My student teaching has come to an end and with that comes many tears, and you guessed it...DEBT! Needless to say, the struggle is very real and I am on very tight budget.

However tight my budget may be, I felt compelled to get my Montessori students something to thank them for allowing me into their lives. 

Given that they are Montessori children and I was in a fully Montessori school, I had to keep the gifts simple and practical. This is because the real gift comes from me teaching them, doing my best work and encouraging them to to do theirs. 

PENCILS...What is more practical than a pencil??? 

Lime Green is my Shiz, and it is perfectly gender neutral. You may click on the image above to buy these Yoobi pencils for just $2.99 at Target


Every teacher needs a label maker, regardless of what grade or subject you teach. Organization is key!  

My label maker turned these regular pencils into customized gifts for my sweet students....

Yes, they are alligators! 


My students were so impressed the pencils had their names on them, they said they would keep them forever!

As teachers, student teachers, future teachers and residents of America, we all know that pencils are a hot commodity and they disappear like your keys at 7am on Tuesday.

Keep Cute and Carry On!

-Miss Vikkers

Sunday, February 22, 2015

How to rock your student teaching supervisor evaluaiton!

Student Teaching Supervisor Evaluations

Here are the three outfits I wore for my
 student teacher supervisor evaluations. An observation like this is an awesome opportunity to wear outfits you always want to wear, but tend to save for something "special" or "important." Well, here is your opportunity! 

EdTPA Humor....

I am starting to get an 


I am at the point during the edTPA where nothing makes sense and I don't know where I am. I mean this literally, as yesterday I found myself writing my edTPA while in the bathtub. 
I had to stop, wipe the soap off my eyes and say, how did I get here!  

Photo of me, after the life changing bath I took today.... 
I realize that I got to this point of feeling like I have the time for a comforting bubble bath, because I finished Task 1 and I started to get cocky. 

Task 2 is manageable and borderline enjoyable, but Task 3, Task 3 is out of this world overwhelming!
Instead of bathing in my own tears of edTPA despair, I used my pruning fingers to make a few Kanye West memes... 


What is "after edTPA?"

Instead of my typical sign off, I say...


-Miss Vikkers

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Nickel and Dimes...Valentine's!

Good Morning and Happy Valentine's Day to All My Hardworking Teachers, Students and Fellow Student Teachers!

 I have been looking forward to sharing this particular student teaching outfit with you all for several weeks now. I say this because, there are few things that get me more excited than mixing patterns! It is so common to be apprehensive about breaking the outdated rules of fashion. Many think that if it doesn't match flawlessly, there is something wrong with you as the fashion coordinator. I raise you one mixed pattern outfit and throw at you another fashion no, no...mixing black and brown! To be fair, nature does this everyday, which is why I knew it was perfectly acceptable to break this color pairing rule using a classic leopard print pattern. 

Brown leather shoes, a black leather belt and red tights, 
oh my!


My dress is from the always affordable, Rue21.

My cardigan is from the always reliable,  Papaya Clothing.

My bright red tights and Bow belt are from, Target.

My adorable saddle shoes are from, Payless.

My special Valentine's Day earrings are handmade from a local boutique!

At school today, we had a 5th grade Valentine's day party. This is a huge deal, because so many teachers feel that parties are frivolous and unnecessary in the classroom. This is simply wrong and unfair. We take too much from students as it is and 5th grade is typically the last year before middle school steals any hope of classroom frivolousness. 

Here's to putting the joy back in school!

I wanted to thank my Cooperating Teacher (CT) for dealing with the never ending hassle of the edTPA, so I bought her something sweet! 
(FYI, this was not the greatest idea because just about every child in the class bought her an expensive box of quality chocolate.) 
I found these mini chalkboards at Walmart and I used them to personalize the candy. 
 (If I were to do this again, I would rethink the candy and give her something sweet, with less calories, like vanilla hand lotion!) 

My big point is, thank your CT's for all of their support. The edTPA is as much a hassle for them, as it is for you. They have to make accommodations for video taping, they have to reconfigure their daily and weekly schedules, they have to take away their valuable planning time to offer you support and advice and they have to sacrifice all the benefits of having a full time student teacher to the rigorous and demanding edTPA
You as a student teacher have to sacrifice and they as CT'S have to sacrifice as well, so let them know you appreciate what they do! 

Here's to hoping you all have your own student teachers one day!

So I took a night off from the edTPA and made my 5th graders some quick, easy and cheap valentines! 


I bought this box of chips for $9 at Walmart. Now I could have saved money and bought some random snack sized pretzels or no name chips, but 5th graders are already all about those brand names and they want Doritos! Cooler Ranch to be precise! Unfortunately, this was the best selection of chips I could find, so not every kid got the chips they wanted, but I encouraged them to trade. I left their names off the valentines, so they could smuggle their snacks without guilt.  

Obviously, there were more fancy ways to make, style and print these labels, but I am not a graphic designer and I am on serious budget. I need to save my ink and anything too over the top would have taken an entire cartridge of ink. 


I bought these .97 cent stickers to dress up the Valentine's and make up for the lack of color. 


And I used these funky scissors to make the Valentine's look more crafty. I made this in about 2 hours and the kids thought it was awesome.
 Also, the teacher appreciated that I didn't pass out even more sugar, since each student's desk had a heart shape mailbox full of sugar.
Keep Cute and Carry On!
- Miss Vikkers 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

ALST, 280 Rigorous and Wonderful Minutes of Reading and Writing

My strenuous, but stimulating experience with the 

infamously laborious,

ALST Teacher Certification Examination

   Yesterday, I boldly took the Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST) NYSTCE (I don't know what this second acronym stands for and I do not have enough finger strength left over to find out, but my guess...Nauseated and Yawning everSuffering Teacher Candidates ExtremeExperimentationofExaminations) teacher certification exam. 
   This exam was 280 minutes of arduous vocabulary and demanding reading, as well as a rainforest full of frequent urination and a desktop computer screen that caused excessive ocular stress, did I mention my feeble and sluggish Delete button, or my completely unreliable and noncommittal T button? 
   Yes, through the heavy rain of the computer lab's white noise machine and the required pounding of my 11 year old keyboard, I successfully (though this is still up for debate) completed the dreaded ALST. I saved this certification exam for last, and rightfully so, because it would have wiped away any testing confidence I had. I have successfully completed the Educating All Students (EAS) exam and the Content Specialty Test ((CST) for Elementary Teachers) with ease, but I knew this exam would be different. 
   I am here to offer my support and tips for success on the ALST exam that is newly required for all NYS teachers. 

  1. Do the online practice test, Linked here. This practice test will give you a taste of the accelerated reading level and the specificity and difficulty level of the questions. In addition, it will walk you through the writing, which is worth a hefty 60% of your final score.
  2. If your school offers a training/study session, take it! 
    • *You do NOT need to take a prepaid training, like those offered in NYC, because you can NOT study for this exam. 

      • You need to study the exam its self, NOT the content!*
    • Think of your test prep for the ALST as a throwback to your irrelevant days "studying" for the SAT's in high school, when your teachers taught you how to take the test, rather than what was on the test. 

  1. This is NOT an exam you should take with the expectation of having a typically functioning day afterwards. Schedule this exam for your day off. I know, I know, this sounds like cruel and unusual punishment, but you will be glad that you have nothing else to do after you walk out of the lab, that requires brain power, finger strength or proper posture*. 
       *Given the hunchback you will inevitably develop slamming on the keyboard like a test taking maniac!
  1. This exam is 210 minutes, so be sure to schedule your exam time around the time of day you perform best. 
    • I am NOT a night person and I am NOT much of a morning person; I consider myself a 10 to 4 person! So get to know yourself and chose your personal best 4 hours for this exam. 
    •  *Sorry night-owls, midnight to 4 am's time slot usually isn't available*

Funny Friendship Ecard: I'm not a morning person. I'm not a night owl. But I can rock 11:30 a.m. like nobody's business. TOTALLY!

  1. Arrive early. This will give you the necessary time to use the bathroom and find the correct room for the test center. During the exam there is no bathroom break! 
    • *This does however, depend on your testing site. I have been to places with monitor's who will sign you out for a "Scheduled Break" and I have been to others who hit the stop watch and say run! 
  2. To be safe, drink as much caffeine as you can, in as little liquid form as possible. I say you follow this tip regardless if reading and writing are your personal strength or not. This is an exhausting exam for anyone and you will need any mental boost you can get, all legal please!
  3. If you are like me, than you probably try not to over do it on the caffeine. If this is you, I say, take your Vitamins, particularly B-Vitamins. They are a natural way to boost energy and clarity. 
    • Fish oil is great too for brain power, but a fish oil routine takes a few months to take full effect.
  4. Most sites will choose your seat for you, but if your testing center allows you to choose your own throne, be strategic, pick a quiet and cozy corner, AWAY from the door. People will be coming and going often and though they are very quiet, it is a continuous distraction, especially when you are stuck reading fantastic facts about farming or fungus.  
 test taking tips - monitor your time so you don't look like this

  1.  Now that you are sitting, I will get to the important stuff, TIME MANAGEMENT
    • The above linked website tells you how to time manage, but I could have benefited quite a bit from actually following a set schedule based on my personal needs and skills. 
    • There are 40 reading questions to complete first, but you can always skip them and return to them later, if you want to do the writing first. Make this decision before you start the exam.
      • **This is the most important tip I can give you, well second to the potty tips...

    • The test framework provided says you should spend 20 minutes on each of the two constructed responses and 60 minutes on the extended response. I do NOT agree with this and I am going to re-frame the given schedule based on my personal experience. 
      • Allow 30 minutes for each of the two constructed responses. They must be organized, concise and grammatically correct. This will allow you 20 minutes to write your 150 to 250 words, with an additional and critical 10 minutes to fully edit your writing. As the saying goes, "Writing is Rewriting."

      • You SHOULD only need 35 minutes to write your extended response, but you will need a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes to edit. The extended response is a culmination of your first two constructed responses, making the third extended essay slightly easier to write, but requiring more editing than the others.  

4.      The readings will vary, as some passages are less complex than others. The key here is to read the questions carefully and at least twice! 

    • Most importantly, ANSWER the questions accordingly and correctly! The multiple choice answers will be tricky and deceiving; (They are as deceiving as your shady ex boyfriend. He says one thing and means another!) The questions are designed to require multiple readings. If you are unclear of what the question is truly asking you to do, you will pick the first answer you think is right and that is not good test taking, pick the answer that answers the question. I can not stress this enough!

    • Some of the teacher candidates I spoke to finished the ALST early and some didn't even have time to finish!

      • And then there is me, who was editing my final paragraph of the final extended response with 60 seconds left! I successfully placed my very last edit, just as the clock cut me off. 
    • **Now I believe this would not have happened had I done the writing FIRST, like my brilliant 4 out 4 score receiving friend.

    • This however, will ONLY work if you follow a strict time schedule, so that you do not run out of reading time. When writing, time can be slightly fudged and adjusted as needed, but you cannot answer a question about something you have not read, certainly NOT with these high level questions. 

      • All in all, the exam was not terrible, but it was certainly the most difficult, well second to the fantastic edTPA of course! 

- Good luck to all my fellow teacher candidates and please, let me know all about your personal experiences with the teacher certification exams you have taken! 

Keep Cute and Carry On!

- Miss Vikkers

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Making Everyday Slacks Look Like Casual Jeans

Do NOT let these pants fool you, they are not jeggings, they are sleggings*! 
(Slack pant leggings??)

At first glance, these may appear to be casual jeans, but in fact, they are navy blue cotton stretch slacks. They are straight leg and machine washable. I bought them at, which is where I buy almost ALL of my straight leg work pants! The store is totally affordable and their pants come in all styles and colors. I drive over an hour to the Palisades Center Mall, in West Nyack, JUST to visit this fun store. 

AHH...the mall is my happy place. 

I went for a country-esque theme with this outfit and I felt very comfortable in the classroom. Now, I do NOT recommend you wear this to parent-teacher conferences or to your Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) lesson and meetings, but it is just right for a busy and ever-moving day in the elementary classroom.

Landen says "where are we going?" Scott said "shopping with Mama Tiffy"...Landen grins great big and says "Yes!!!!!!!"...I swear he could be my mini me sometimes, lol.

 *I do own a pair of "Joga Pants" as well and they are from the always cozy store of Aerie. These exercise pants are full-on yoga pants that come with two functioning back pockets, tan stitching, metal brackets and a roughed up blue jean fabric. 
Well Done Aerie, Well Done!

This awesome necklace has a great matching bracelet, but I don't know about you girls, but I hate wearing bracelets in the winter. It is sensory overload with my gloves, long sleeves and the parka I am often forced to wear during these cold NY months. 
Ok you got me, I would NEVER wear a parka. However, this is the FIRST year I have ever felt compelled to purchased and wear a puffy winter coat and at times, it feels like I just wrapped myself in my bed's comforter and headed to work! 

Ahh, only 112 days left until spring!

I have noticed that as the edTPA fast approaches during my speedy first #studentteaching placement, I feel less inclined to make the classroom a runway and more motivated to make it like a retirement home, because I must admit I am exhausted! With that in mind I will do my best to wear everything in my closet, including all 32 cardigans I purchased for student teaching, yes, I said 32. That is what happens when you start purchasing student teaching clothing on the same day you are accepted into the teaching program!

Keep Cute and Carry On!

- Miss Vikkers

Monday, January 26, 2015

Polka Dot Day!

Anti-Bullying Polka Dot Day! 

     Today was polka dot day at school! All us teachers and students wore polka dots to fight bullying and promote good choices and respect for others. Each student picked five hand made polka dots with random student names and they wrote something nice about that student. The comments were anonymous, but wonderfully uplifting! They will be posted on all the walls throughout the school.

     Here is a comprehensive list of anti-bullying texts for students grades 4 to 9. Upper elementary school and middle school are the toughest times for bullying and more importantly, it is the most critical time for intervention. It is not easy to find meaningful literature on this topic for older children, so the topic requires a great deal of creativity and commitment! I have plenty of faith that all my readers are deeply devoted to this issue and are willing to do whatever it takes to make a difference.

Scholastic posted these 15 books on their website


   I know my dots are a bit over the top, but that is the ONLY way I know how to tackle a theme in fashion! 
I go all the way or not at all. I follow this path of thinking always, even though I was accused of causing one teacher to stroke due to my excessive polka dots!  
I take Fun with Fashion VERY seriously!


Here is a link to my frequently updated "Lots of polka dots and spots" Pinterest board...

Keep Cute and Carry On ! 
-Miss Vikkers