3 Easy and Quick Ways to Save Your Willpower for BIG Things

Your willpower is like a gas tank

When you wake up in the morning, your willpower tank is full. It replenishes with sleep. Once I understood this little fact, inspiration struck.

1. Plan your outfits for the week

$5 and 15 minutes on Sunday saves me from decision fatigue. Instead of spending an ounce of willpower, I have five dollar store baskets in my closet. I put my clothes for that day along with any underthingies and jewelry.

Some people like to hang their clothes together, but I like the separation of my weekly outfits from my wardrobe. It makes it easy for me to see what I am wearing on a weekly basis so that when it is time to declutter, it’s easy to think about what clothes sparks joy, and which are just taking up space.

Decisions saved: at least 5
– which underthings to wear
– outfit to wear?
–  jewelry to wear? necklace? long? short?
–  shoes to wear? flats? heels? sandals?
–  socks to wear? color? style?

2. Pack your meals for the week

My favorite thing about Harry Potter is Mrs. Weasley and the homemaking magic that allows her to knit sweaters, clean dishes, and create meals. I wish life was like that. I wish I could wave my wand and have all the adulting things done. Spend an hour or two on the weekends and prepare your lunch for the week. You can find a ton of quick and easy ideas on my this Pinterest board.

My favorite lunches

Although, my favorite lunches are the easiest things. I love easy, but I need healthy and cheap.

  • Chili (any variety of beans, diced tomatoes, cumin seasoning)
    Open, drain, rinse the can of black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and fire-roasted tomatoes and dump them all in the instapot with a good amount of cumin, salt, and pepper.
  • Cucumber, Avocado, Tajin seasoning
    I slice a cucumber, slice up half an avocado, and throw them in a bowl. Sometimes I’ll add raw onions, tomatoes, cilantro, jicama or whatever tickles my fancy.
    Decisions Saved: at least 4

    – pack a lunch or buy a lunch today?
    – what to make for lunch
    – what to pack with your main lunch
    – which containers/Tupperware/bags to use

3.  Rotate your menus/meal delivery service

Before we got a meal delivery service, I built 4 months of meals that I rotated. You can even organize your list using my digital bullet journal meal plan template. Planning eventually took no time because I recycled the same four months. I could plan, shop, prep, and organize within two-three hours. That was two-three hours of running my gas tank.

Click on the image above to visit the template

We get 3 dinners for $60 a week. Even with groceries for lunches and the basics, I still spend about $100 on groceries. However, I have zero food waste at the end of the week, I have cut my grocery shopping time down from an hour to 15 minutes. I have cut my meal-prep time to nothing. The best part? I make all of my meal-plan related decisions on the weekend with a glass of wine during Friday-night movie time.

Click to visit my YouTube review

Decisions saved: at least 3
– what to make for dinner (every night)
– which recipes to try
– which ingredients to buy

What will you do with your 12 decisions a day?

Twelve small decisions translate into three or four big decisions. It’s like saving the gas from several small trips for a big trip. If you recovered 12 decisions worth of willpower “gas,” what would you spend it on?

– working out?
– daily cleaning routines?
– meditation?
– Yoga?
– pursuing a passion?
– create something?
– write a novel?
– build healthy habits?
– crafting/DIY projects?

“You are one decision away from a completely different life” #5SecondRule | @MelRobbins

Common Core: What does it look like in the classroom?

Common Core

I have been a Common Core junkie since the beginning. 6 years ago I went out of county to get basic training. It was love at first site.

I was a rebel as a teacher.  I ditched my textbook about the 4th year in my career. It was easy to see that the curriculum wasn’t doing anything for my students. And, to add insult to injury, when I sat down with the state standards, the text book didn’t cover the standards AND the text meant for my 5th graders was actually a 3rd grade reading level. So when Common Core came down the line, I was eager to re-energize my self-built curriculum with rigor and choice.

That, for me, was my beginning of understanding what Common Core was and what it looked like in the classroom. Despite all of the training that I’ve had since, and all of the practice that I’ve done, I still felt uncertain when someone asked “so, what does it look like?”

So, what does it look like?

This is the most fair question that I come across because it speaks so deeply to a common problem in education. Sometimes, awesome ideas, tools, resources, and programs are adopted at initiatives and teachers who aren’t part of the conversation are expected to change their practice, the practice they think has worked for them, sometimes for decades. Too many times I see teachers being given theory, when practice is really what we need.

Achieve The Core – Beyond The Lesson

There is no magic bullet. However, this little beauty is pretty darn close. It’s a single page, easy to ready, and easy to use, and it’s flexible for many uses. It can be used as a non-evaluative observation tool. It can be used by teachers as a lesson plan guide. The questions can also be used by teachers as a a way to guide the self-reflection that good teachers need to become great teachers. It’s also a pretty awesome discussion tool.

Check it out!

common core

It Gets Better

Hopefully, you’ve taken a few minutes to click on the image, or the words above, to visit the Beyond the Lesson tool. If not, take a few seconds.

I’ll wait.

Done?

Isn’t it great?

Now that you’ve gotten a taste of how AchieveTheCore.org ‘s awesomeness. Get ready to dig in for the entire meal.

The Instructional Practice Guide

This little beauty is short, to the point, and makes creating lessons, reviewing lessons, reflecting on lessons, and everything in between a breeze. The Instructional Practice Guide (IPG) is split into 3 Core Actions.

Click HERE to get the IPG

Core Action 1: Focus each lesson on high0quality text (or multiple texts) Of course, this can also be media, primary sources, secondary sources, poetry, and much more. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly limiting word “text.”

Core Action 2: Employ questions and tasks, both oral and written, that are text-specific and accurately addressed the analytical thinking required by the grade-level standards. How much more simple is this? I love that it focuses the efforts of the teachers into a specific direction that will really give their students a real taste of what a Common Core Classroom looks and feels like.

Core Action 3: Provide all student with opportunities to engage in the work of the lesson. ALL students. This is huge. Your low kids, your high kids, your purple kids, your pink kids, your tall kids, your short kids, your EOs, your ELLs, your athletic kids, your techy kids. ALL kids have the right to learn. This Core Action speaks deeply to my philosophies and beliefs.

Each Core Action has a subset of skills with a rubric for ranking. Even though there is a rubric, it’s meant as a tool to measure growth, not as an evaluative tool that’s mean to to be scored and weighed.

No More Uncertainty

If you feel uncertain when someone asks “Ok, but what does it look like in the classroom?” I would encourage you to check out these resources.

What tools do you find the most useful when implementing the Common Core standards?

Tell me in the comments below. Life can get crazy, and busy, and can go by in a blur, but take a few minutes to reach out. I’d love to chat with you.


My name is Jenna, the EduSlayer. I’m writing this blog to give teachers shortcuts to getting the most out of their time.  If you want to learn more about how I keep track of the many moving parts of my job, check out my post about how I use my Digital Bullet Journal and get your own FREE template.

Check out my OnePageNGSS tool. All of the NGSS standards in one place.

Feeling stressed? Do you rush through your day, or you do live each moment? If you want to learn about how I decrease my stress and made healthy choices habitual and effortless (and lost 40 pounds  in the process,) check out my post about the importance of routines.

Now, go out and EduSLAY!

Kiddom Will Save Teachers Time and Hassle, All For FREE!!

kiddom

I knew the minute I met Abbas Manjee that Kiddom was something magical for teachers.

kiddom

First off, this guy had passion. It was more than an undirected, general passion. It was an educated passion, an articulate passion, that was perfectly aligned with my teacher-heart: making high-quality content accessible to teachers and students. How could I have known by the inviting smile of this former high school math teacher, that Kiddom would prove to be one of the most transformative pieces of technology out there? You can call it instinct, but I call it simple luck.

Abbas is Kiddom’s Chief Academic Officer. I met Abbas when I was invited to do an Ignite Talk hosted by EdSurge in Oakland. After I slayed my Ignite talk, I got to mingle with the educators and education technology folks. Abbas was one of the first people I connected with because the Kiddom team looked like they were buzzing with teachers excited about what they do. So, I meandered his way with a coffee cup and curiosity.

The first thing I asked was if Kiddom was free.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that there are beautiful programs out there that change lives and are worth every penny they might cost. However, in Jenna-land, things need to be free. I was shocked that his answer was, “Of course. Why would we charge teachers anything?” @Yo_Mista @Kiddomapp Click To Tweet (And, despite its success, it remains free.)

All right, touché Mr. Manjee, touché. As he described his experience teaching over-age high school students in New York City, I found myself relating the story of hours spent researching materials and activities that would meet the standards and connect with my students. We both agreed the time was well spent, but that finding it was so much time.

I asked him, “Wouldn’t it be great if someone just put it all in one place?”

“That’s what we’re trying to do at Kiddom. I love comic books, so I think of Kiddom as Batman’s utility belt for teachers. Kiddom gives easy access to the tools you need when they need them. But when they don’t need them, they stay out of your way. It’s not clunky.”

Mind. Blown.

He walked me through the basics, but I was not prepared. To be honest, Kiddom does a lot and they have a lofty goal, so it’s hard to succinctly describe the scope of its capabilities, but essentially, Kiddom helps teachers plan, assess, and analyze student learning via a variety of user-friendly interconnected tools.

Library – Free Resources, Quizzes, and More

Kiddom’s platform connects directly to a library packed with videos, quizzes, activities and more. They do all of the heavy lifting so you can focus on student progress and commit less time to scouring the internet for something useful, and more time building a real individual picture of what your students look like, their strengths, and where they need support.

You might ask where all of this vetted content comes from. The answer may surprise you. Kiddom’s library offers materials from places like Khan Academy, CommonLit, CK-12, PBS Learning Media, Newsela, and much more. This gives you a plethora of resources from the best sites with a search engine that allows you filter according to standards and content.

Planner – A Digital Curriculum Tool

kiddom

Planner is your best friend. You don’t need to scour the internet for resources and activities. You make curriculum once, and then click and drag assignments directly into your class’s timeline. Or, you can drag and assign it directly to an individual student’s timeline! No headaches, no fingers tired from over-typing. You get vetted content and can create student learning pathways using click and drag tools and lessons. Each lesson you assign provides vital feedback and data that you can use to tailor resources and instruction to meet the needs of your students in an interactive and engaging way that also has massive credibility.

The planner can be used like Pinterest, which means that you can save ideas that you like, but may not want to use now. You can also organize your assignments into categories based on topics or standards. You can even create more than one course. Which means that once you organize your lessons into a curriculum that you can share them across all of your classes.

Oh, and did I mention Kiddom’s planner is integrated with Google Drive? That means you can access and assign students any Google Drive attachment, right from Kiddom! You get all the perks of Google Classroom right from this nifty feature.

Gradebook and Reports – Beautiful and Meaningful

kiddom

More like EMPOWERbook. This tool functions like a grade book on hyper drive because it has a variety of beautiful, full colored reports that you can use to analyze student growth and which steps to take next.

Kiddom’s reports are unique because you not only get overall class mastery reports but with a single click you can instantly convert those whole class reports into individual reports. This means that you get to spend your time analyzing and taking action on your student data, instead of grading to just get the data!

Collaboration and Sharing – Co-Teachers Rejoice!

I am a huge proponent of #BetterTogether. I am only as good as the people I collaborate with. The problem that arises with using a full platform is that it is challenging to share class and individual progress with administrators, coaches, TOSAs, and other people you might work with. Well, Kiddom has created a collaboration tool that will make it clear to anyone, no matter what their stake, where your class is in their academic journey.

Not only can you collaborate on Kiddom, you can decide what level to invite your collaborative partner into your Kiddom account. If you grant “view only” access, collaborators will not be able to edit or modify your lessons. This would be super useful to share with the people who support you in meeting your students’ needs. “View only” will grant someone access to view without the ability to change your content. This is great when you are working with a coach or TOSA. This is even beneficial for principals because all it takes is a glance to see what you’re doing in your classroom.

However, sometimes we work in teams. Sometimes teachers of different content subjects get together to build cross-curricular units. Sometimes you co-teach, or team-teach. Don’t worry, Kiddom’s got you covered, too. You can grant a collaborator “edit” permission collaborators can make changes, as well as have access to class or individual reports. If I were still in the classroom I would collaborate with my RSP teacher, my ELD teacher, and my PE teacher so they all had access to create their own assignments, or so they have a better picture of how they can support each of my students.

Student Dashboard – And It Works on iPads and iPhones

One of the most powerful things we can encourage our students to do is “own” their learning. Research tells us that students who feel an ownership will approach classroom tasks very differently from a student who is passive. Kiddom is built for student engagement. Students have access to their very own dashboard where they can track their overall progress, progress on individual skills, and respond to teachers’ comments. Oh and their iOS app works well for students who are glued to their phones.

Parent Engagement

Parent engagement is one of the most challenging parts of our already challenging job. I have some sway with my students. I’ve built a relationship with them, but it proves a challenge when it comes time to build those same relationships with their parents.

We don’t spend as much time with parents as we do with students. In fact, most of what our parents know about us is what their children tell them. With full-time jobs and full-time parenting, we need to make it as clear as possible, as quickly as possible, where students are and how we are celebrating their successes and supporting their needs. Kiddom has parent-communication tools built in so that your parents know the exact location of their child’s academic and social emotional growth (did I mention they have a social emotional component?). Yeah. That’s real.

The Bottom Line

I’m not the only one singing the praises of Kiddom. Ann Leghorn, a high school teacher says, “Kiddom has made me stop and say ‘Am I just letting this student repeat what they already know or am I really challenging them?’” Ann speaks to the importance of giving our lessons meaning.

Differentiation makes the content more accessible across ability levels. Although it’s key, it’s also very hard. Mrs. Oldenburg, a Special Education teacher in a Self-Contained Special Education Classroom. “Kiddom provides differentiation tools that allow me to reach all my students on their level!

If you haven’t tried Kiddom yet, they offer free and live digital demos! Or, if you’d rather learn it for yourself, check out these introductory videos. It might seem overwhelming, but if you reach out to the Kiddom team, they’ll support you. They even have a live chat feature in their app where you can ask them questions at any time. Oh, and if you already use Kiddom, take a second and send them some love. I’ve got a tweet below you can copy and paste, or throw them a digital high-five.

@Kiddomapp, keep up the good work! *digital high-five* #BetterTogether Click To Tweet

Digital Bullet Journal FREE Template

My Digital Bullet Journal

Head on over to bulletjournal.com if you haven’t heard of bullet journaling.

It is a combination of an organization system, task list keep, calendar tracker, habit tracker, book list, any list, really – anything. I loved bullet journaling. I loved doodling, deciding color scheme, and everything else. What I didn’t love was HOW TIME-CONSUMING it was.

In my professional capacity, I work with technology to make teacher’s lives easier. I help people understand the tools that are out there that will provide them with self-grading quizzes, math practice that feels like games, and other fun and engaging ways to give students the opportunity to create content, rather than passively consuming it.

So, I figured, why not do that with my Bullet Journal?

Tracking habits became as simple as clicking a button, events and tasks became infinitely easier to manage. And, most important to me, because it was digital, I. Could. Never. Lose. It!!! (A feat for me)

My own digital bullet journal is full of recipes, lists, tasks, notes, and everything else. I created a template to share with my friends who were curious, and today, I’m sharing that template with you!


My own digital bullet journal is full of recipes, lists, tasks, notes, and everything else. I created a template to share with my friends who were curious, and today, I’m sharing that template with you!

Index

 

This is crucial. Using Google Sheets means that you have an unlimited amount of tabs at your fingertips, which is amazing, and overwhelming. Using the simple “link” feature on a cell in the index page, you can keep track of all of your pages. This is also useful when creating a new page because you can link back to the index page, making navigation SUPER simple!

Weekly Grocery List

Making your list is easy because it’s been segmented by common areas in the grocery store, saving you time and money because your location-organized grocery list will keep you on track. When you download the Google Sheets App (iOS App Download -or- Android App Download) there is an amazing button, the strike-through button. You can simply touch the screen and your item will be stricken through!

Task List

 

The beauty of the Bullet Journal system is that it has a predictable flow. You start with your future log, your monthly spreads, then your daily spreads.  This little page will help you keep track of events, projects, due dates, bills, and all other things that sneak up on us. Ever wish you could have your Christmas cards ready early? Put “write Christmas Letter” in November. “Order Christmas Cards” in October. When you’re looking at your Weekly Spread and Daily Logs, you can revisit this page easily to populate it with events and tasks.

Weekly Spread and Daily Log

 

This is what I touch and look at daily. The three columns help me organize my tasks, which is a blessing! I have a lot on my plate, just like I bet you do. I keep track of tasks, link relevant emails, and plan my blog, videos, and other social media events. If I accomplish a task, I use the strikeout key.

 

If I don’t accomplish a task, I just change the font color to a light gray. This helps me figure out if I’m giving myself too much to do in a day, (if the tasks are grayed out,) or if I am not giving myself enough to do (all items use the strikethrough font.)

Habit Tracker

Part of the magic of the Bullet Journal is that you can keep track of the healthy habits you’re trying to build. This page helps you do that. You select a series of habits that you would like to keep track of. Type in the days of the week across the top row.

I like to use M for Monday, T for Tuesday, W for Wednesday, R for Thursday, F for Friday, S for Saturday, and N for Sunday.

Then input the dates and use the lightest color to set your goals and darker colors to show which days you accomplished those goals.

Cleaning Zones

 

Because we only have one spin on this planet, I don’t want to spend a ton of time cleaning. However, cleaning my house has given me the mental and emotional energy to make the best and healthiest choices.

Daily zones are things that I accomplish on a daily basis. The Weekly DC (Deep Cleaning) zones are restricted to a single room and each daily task should take no more than 20-30 minutes. I got the zone rotation idea from DoItonADime.

Mood Matrix

 

If you are a fan of the Bullet Journal system, then you are probably familiar with BohoBerry. She does a Mood Mandala Spread that tracks her daily mood throughout the month in a beautiful mandala. It’s gloriously beautiful. It was more important for me to get the data, to just track my feelings.

NGSS – One Page Standards Sheet

 NGSS. Simplified.

I created this resource for any and all teachers.

When I began working on Lake County’s Next Generation Science Standards Lending Library, the first thing I did was to familiarize myself with the standards. For me, that meant writing down each standard. I know this sounds crazy, but it really helped me figure out how the standards fit together and what each standard was actually saying.

One of the things that surprised me most when I went through the standards, was how few there was per grade level. “This could fit on one page,” I said to myself. So, when I was done with my standard study, I decided to use my notes to create a single-page resource.

One Page Means Less Reading

It is my dear hope that teachers use this resource to study, plan, examine, reflect, and every thing else teachers are great at in order to improve their understanding of what the NGSS standards are asking students to be responsible for.

One Page Means Limitations

This resource is far from done. I’m collaborating with some smart folks to make the resource even better.

Below you will find the links to the One Page NGSS resources. I have grades K-5 and will add the middle school standards over labor day weekend.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or comments, please reach out to me via email: jenna@mrsjennarodgers.me

 

Kindergarten


1st grade
 


2nd grade


3rd grade

4th grade

5th grade

 

 Middle School and High School Coming Labor Day Weekend

Routine Can Put Your Health Habits on Autopilot

morning routine, healthy habits

I recently lost 40 pounds. People ask me how I do it, and I joke that the answer was simple for me. I did build routine after routine after routine. I cultivated several routines until all of the healthy habits I wanted to be successful at have become the background noise of my life.

Once my house was clean I suddenly had the mental energy to begin my journey of self-awareness. I began to focus on the healthy habits that I wanted to build.

After I had my list of healthy habits (fitness goals, meal planning, and cleaning routines to name a few,) I knew that I was going to have to be strategic about how I introduced these new habits into my lifestyle. I didn’t want to get overwhelmed and ditch my efforts halfway through, as was my usual pattern. Routines saved me. Afterwards, I wondered at the fact that I used the power of routine in my classroom, but had never thought to use the same power in my life.

Automate your Life

Why is it important to create a morning routine? Our willpower is a like a gas tank.When we first wake up, if we’ve had a solid amount of healthy sleep, we have a full tank. Every decision you make throughout the day depletes your tank a little bit. Routines are ways that you can automate your behavior and actions so that there is no decision to waste your willpower and you get the things that are important to you done.

 Check out my Morning Routine

 

1. When

The first thing you need to decide is when do you want to do your routine?  I would start with a single routine. Slow, purposeful change is a change that will fundamentally change your life. I don’t say that lightly. Routines have helped me lose 30 lbs, routines have helped me declutter my home and keep it clean, and routines have helped me automatically make healthy decisions every day.

2. What

What do you want to accomplish during your routine? It’s important to know what you want to have done at the end of your routine. Do you want to have your work bag ready by the door for grab and go? Do you want to walk a mile? This is when I think about the healthy behaviors and decisions that I want to make.

3. How?

How are you going to accomplish the tasks you want to accomplish during your routine? This is KEY. It’s easy to say that you’re going to “be more active,” or that you’re going to “work out,” but what does that look like? What will that look like every day? It’s important to figure out a realistic way to meet your goals.

4. Make Lists

Use check off lists to access the rewards center of your brain. There’s a reason that people spend money on digital goods like gems on freemium games. Setting goals and meeting goals make our brains happy. Research shows that if you write something down, your chances of completing the task drastically improve. I love lists, that’s why I adore my Digital Bullet Journal.

5. Practice

Spend time practicing the different elements of your routine, physically and mentally. Research shows that visualization has real, measurable effects on improvement. Spend time practicing the mechanics of the routine. If you want to get up and put your workout clothes on first thing in the morning, put them right next to your alarm on the other side of the room. Darken your room as much as you can. Set your cell phone for 3 minutes. Get into bed and make an authentic effort to relax. When the alarm goes off, jump directly out of bed and throw on those clothes. Try to practice a few times a day before you commit to your routine.

6. Reflect & Adapt

Routines need to be living thingsThat means that you need to constantly ask yourself what’s working and what needs to change. This is one of the most important parts of building routines. Before we can cultivate a life, we need to examine how well things work for us. Pay attention to how successful your routine is making you feel. What parts are working? If pieces of your routine stress you out, if there are pieces that you aren’t looking forward to, I would suggest that you spend some time examining why and come up with a different plan.

Check out the companion You Tube Video