Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Flexible Seating - Part 3!

I've been blogging about my journey learning about alternative/flexible seating - what it was; FAQs and more in previous posts.  
If you missed those posts, you can find part 1 {HERE} and part 2 {HERE}.

Part 2 left off with my decision that I would try flexible seating for 3 weeks at the end of the year to see how it works before making a decision to go for it in the fall!  

This week I'm sharing about the three week trial period:

 I starting using flexible seating as an experiment.  I didn't have enough seating arrangements, but I was able to have the following:

4 desks raised to their highest level
Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3

1 bean bag chair (borrowed from my son)

Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3

1 round table lowered to 6" off the floor with bath mats
Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3
Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3
2 crate seats with cushions like these below that are from Ms. Third Grade Blog

2 fidget seat cushions from OT (I don't remember the name of them.)
Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3

1 portable tray for the rug area

Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3

I still had all 24 desks and chairs - so there were plenty of seats for the remaining 10 students.  I also had a table with regular chairs as well.  

The first day that the students walked in - they were excited! You would've thought I told them we were going to have recess all day! (Really - even though the only changes were the ones listed above.)

  I don't have pictures to share with kids in the seats because I don't have permission to do so. I didn't think to take pictures of just the seating, but the above pictures are pretty close to looking like the ones I had.  Just imagine happy, happy faces!

The first thing I did was have them sit on the rug and we discussed the various seating available.  Then I used this chart to introduce the rules that we'd need.

Schoolhouse Treasures and flexible seating part 3

You can get this set of rules (without my logo) as a PNG file {HERE}

My Take Away From The 3 Week Trial:

  • The students LOVED it!
  • I had one administrator that couldn't stop saying positive things about it each time she came into the room!
  • I did not have issues with noise - in fact it was the opposite!
  • I only had to move a student once in the time period as he didn't make the best choice for where to sit.
  • The bean bag, the crate seats and the tall desks were very popular!
  • I had to rethink where/how I would distribute papers because they didn't have desks.
  • Our "book boxes" were okay to store things for 3 weeks, but it won't work for the entire year.  I'll have to come up with something different for them to store materials.
  • Next year's students came to visit for 20 minutes on our "Step Up" day and I talked about many things with them about 3rd grade, but according to the 2nd grade teachers, the seating was all the rage when they went back to their classrooms!
  • Students at the tall desks got tired of standing after awhile, but still wanted to use the desks...so I'm thinking I need to get them a stool as an option when they get tired.
  • Students preferred being able to switch seats throughout the day.  I knew staying in one seating option for the day was too long so we tried half day rotations.  Students liked changing for each "period".  I was good with that so that's something I'll continue with.
Well - that's my trial period of flexible seating and I'm still excited to continue to have flexible seating for the 2016-2017 school year!  Now I need to figure out how to make it happen!

Join me next week for part 4 where I venture into funding for this idea!

What are your thoughts on flexible seating?  Are you doing it?  If not, is it something you'd like to try?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below - I really get excited to read your comments.
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

An Awesome Reading Discussion Series Continues!

It's Thursday - so that means that The Reading Strategies Book discussion series continues!
I have a couple of freebie items to go with this week's goal topic too...so keep reading!

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 10

I'm joining a few other terrific bloggers in reading this book by Jennifer Serravallo and sharing our thoughts about the goal and 3 strategies from the book each week!

If you're just joining us now, no worries!  You can catch up quickly by following the links below:

This Week We're Looking at Goal 10: Getting the Most from Text Features

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 10

Why is this goal Important?

Research has indicated that despite all the teaching that is done on text features, most of it has to do with identifying the text features.  Jennifer, the author, believes that we need to go much more beyond that!  We need to spend considerable time "teaching students to use the features to get more information" from the nonfiction text.  We need to show students how to "synthesize the visual and textual information." 

How to Tell If A Student Needs to Work on This Goal:

Here's a continuum of level of understanding students might have in text features.  The list begins with the lowest level and progresses to higher levels of understanding about nonfiction features.
  • student ignores text features
  • can only name the feature
  • names and knows its purpose
  • can explain what text features are teaching
  • deeper explanation of text features including combining information from the text and the feature
  • can connect feature not only to text but also to other features included
Ways to get to know what your student knows about text features are through conferencing with the student, asking questions, having students jot down thoughts as reading, written answers to questions etc.  Kindergarten students might not get beyond the identifying of the features, but the author states that by 5th grade reading levels, students should be able to do all.

Time to move onto the Strategies that you can use with students to improve their skills.

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 10

 "Reread and Sketch with More Detail"

Who is it for: Levels A-Z+ 
What Genre/Text: nonfiction
Skills Used: visualizing, monitoring for meaning

This strategy involves reading the text.  Then stopping to sketch a picture based on what you remember of what you just read.  Reread the text again and try to add more details to the first sketch.  Keep repeating this process until you think you have all the important information sketched into your drawing.

In my 3rd grade classroom, I would model this process for students at first.  Then do one together and then release them to try on their own. (I do, we do, you do method.)

I also think there would need to be a discussion between a sketch and a detailed drawing.  The sketch is quick and as we continue adding to it, it will become a detailed drawing.

Prompts to use while students are working with you
  • picture what you just read
  • jot down a sketch
  • Did you get more information after rereading?  Add it to the sketch.
  • Can you get more details?  Let's try!
  • Wow!  Look at all the details you have now that you've read it several times!
I'm wondering if it might be worthy to have them use a different colored pencil each time...that way they could see how each successive reading helped to add details.

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 10

 "Cover Up Then Zoom In"
Who is it for: Levels A-Z+
What Genre/Text: nonfiction
Skills Used: questioning, determining importance

Getting students to use the text and not the visuals at first is what this strategy is all about.  Use a sticky note to cover the images on the page.  Read the text and think about what it's all about.  The the sticky note would come off and then zoom into the image to see what new information might be found!    

Prompt the students with: "What new information am I learning with this image?  What parts of what I just read are shown in this image?"

NOTE: The author states that this strategy might not work as well

 with the youngest of readers because they most often need to use

 the pictures to help them read the text.

I think this could be done with younger readers if the teacher reads the text to the class without showing pictures first.  Then after reading students could be shown the picture to see what new information comes from it.

I found a site called SMEKENS that has an example of an opposite method: eliminating the text and leaving the images first!  Students would look at images first to see what they've learned and then would be shown the text.  They have a couple of sample pages (with and without text) that you can download.  Click {HERE} to go to the site to get your own copy!

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 10

 "Cracking Open Headings"

Who is it for: Levels P-Z+ 
What Genre/Text: expository nonfiction
Skills Used: inferring

As the authors says, most headings are clear in their meaning, but sometimes the author gets creative and crafts a heady that makes the meaning/relationship to the text unclear.  

This strategy involves looking at the headings and if any have a creative title or are confusing, write down the heading title in the chart's first column. 

Then go to the beginning of that section and read.  As you read, try to figure out why the author chose that heading and what it might mean.  

Can you figure out what the heading means now?  Write the meaning in the second column.  

Now rename the heading with one that makes sense to you and write it in the last column.
The chart would look something like this:

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews Strategies for Goal 10
You can get a copy of my version of this chart from Dropbox {HERE}!

If you've been following along and haven't picked up a copy of this book, I wouldn't hesitate anymore!  

I think this book is a game changer!  (And....I'm not getting anything for saying that!  That's just my own personal thought!)

What do you think of these strategies?  Would  you be able to use them in your grade level?  Let me know in the comments below!
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Flexible Seating - Part 2

       Today, I'm continuing to share my journey into flexible seating.  If you missed Part 1, I wrote about the various sites and posts that gave me the background information on what flexible/alternative seating is.  You can find that post {HERE} 

After getting more of an idea of what alternative seating was, I decided to look into the various types of flexible seating. 

One of the first sites that I found with ideas for alternative seating in the upper elementary level was Jennifer Findley's post called "Alternative Seating in the Classroom".  Prior to finding this post, most of what I read about flexible seating involved grades K-2.  I teach 3rd grade so I was glad to see another class above 2nd grade using it and being successful.

                                                                      Alternative seating in the classroom can be a huge motivator for student engagement and learning. Read this post to learn how one teacher uses alternative seating in literacy.

I found this post titled "18 Flexible Seating Ideas for Your Classroom" by Kindergarten is Grrreat!  This post let me know that it can be as simple as a beanbag, bath mat, or crate seats.  It doesn't have to be expensive seating.  She gives some tips on how to do flexible seating at no cost too.

After that, I came upon Lucky Little Learners' (Angie Olson) post: "Flexible Seating FAQ's"  

I love the chart  that shows her flexible seating rules.  I decided that if I implemented flexible seating, I would use a chart similar to this one to set guidelines in place.  I also found it interesting that she said that she doesn't have issues with students talking too much.  Angie answered all my questions and concerns within her post.  She stressed that the key to making it work was to MODEL, MODEL, MODEL!

For the first time, I began to feel that flexible seating would be something that I could do in my classroom!  I felt like I had enough background information and many of my questions were answered and fears were squelched for now.

I made the decision to try alternative seating for the last few weeks of the school year!  
Depending on how that experience went, I would consider making the switch permanently for the 2016-2017 school year. 

What about you?  Have you tried alternative seating?  Do you have any advice or tips for me to consider?  I'd love to hear from you!
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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Quick Flash Giveaway for $10 TPT Gift Card!

Just a quick post to share that I have the opportunity to give away 1 of TPT's many $10 Gift Cards - just in time for the upcoming one day SALE!   In case you haven't heard - there's a sale coming on Monday, August 22nd!

Schoolhouse Treasures gives away a $10 TPT gift card!

Everything in my store will be 20% off and you can get an additional 10% off at checkout using the code: ONEDAY

Giveaway Details:

  • 1 person will win a $10 gift card!
  • Follow me on Instagram and comment on my post by sharing what is the best product you've ever bought from TPT!
  • Winner will be randomly chosen using all who commented by 2 pm (Eastern Time) Monday, August 22nd! 
  • Winner will be announced on my Facebook Page, Twitter and Instagram accounts by 3 pm!
So, you might want to follow all or at least one account, so you can get the announcement!  

That's not a requirement - just a suggestion!

Good Luck!
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Friday, August 19, 2016

Laminator Giveaway!

One of my best purchases I've made as a teacher is my laminator! I've had mine for about 5 years now and . I . just . LOVE . it!
Schoolhouse Treasures and others giveaway a laminator and sheets!  Giveaway ends August 21, 2016

It's great because I can laminate something quickly at home and I don't have to worry about the one at school being out of order or missing film!  Don't get me wrong - I still use the one at school, but if I'm home and need something done - then I can do it!

The film at home is so much stronger and thicker than the one at school, so if I have something extra special that I want to last - I'll use mine at home!

It's also nice to have when you have something small to laminate for personal use.  
Note: don't laminate your social security cards!  I did - and then I read the fine print on the card that says don't laminate - OOPS!

This summer, I used my laminator at home to get so much done during the summer and now I don't have to worry about laminating at school when I'm crazed about getting my room ready!  

So...when I had the opportunity to join up with some fantastic bloggers to offer a free laminator and sheets - I jumped at the chance!  I know how much you'll love using a laminator!


Schoolhouse Treasures and others giveaway a laminator and sheets!  Giveaway ends August 21, 2016

 Prize: Laminator and set of laminating sheets 

 Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)

 Co-hosts: An Apple for the Teacher, Crystal Clear Teaching, Teaching Ideas For Those Who Love Teaching, Simone's Math Resources, Teaching With Hope, Sarah Griffin (Daughters and Kindergarten), Mrs Humphries Class, and The Literacy Garden. 


Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. 
Giveaway ends 8/21/16 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? 

 Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

Good Luck!
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Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Reading Strategies Book Club: Goal 9

Today, I'm linking up with other blogger friends to host the review of Goal 9 from The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo!

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

You can find my other reviews of goals below:
Goal 8 - HERE
Goal 7 - HERE
Goal 6 - HERE
Goal 5 - HERE
To see with the introduction and the first 4 chapters (which I missed) click {HERE}. 

Let's get into this week's goal: Determining Key Details 

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

Why is this goal important?

Jennifer explains that there is a difference between identify details and being able to identify the key details.  It's important to not only know what the text is about, but to be able to read through a text and identify the facts that "align with the main idea."  

I like the analogy she uses to explain the need for students to know the key details of a text: she says determining key details is using a highlighter in text to only highlight the facts to go with your main purpose for reading vs. highlighting everything in the text.

In early grades (K-1) almost all the information is related to the main idea, but Jennifer says "that as the text get complex, the density of information increases" and "the task of supporting an idea with related details becomes more challenging."  By 4th and 5th grade level text, there can be multiple ideas presented within a page of text.

How to tell if your students need to practice this skill:

  • support a topic with little detail
  • when their support for a main idea is based on one paragraph or just the photo in the text.
  • give you a list of random information that may fit the topic but may not
  • they can state the main idea but are not able to support if with specific information without prompting
  • need support/help in knowing which details are the most important

There are so many strategies that are in this book for each goal, that I'm only sharing 3 each week.  Here are the ones I chose to share:

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

9.3 "A Spin on KWL"

Who is it for: Levels A-Z+ 
What Genre/Text: nonfiction
Skills Used: activating prior knowledge

This strategy gets students to think before reading about what they are sure they know, what they think they know and what they wonder about the topic.  So...

Instead of this K-W-L

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

Use This K-W-L:

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

You can get this new K-W-L {HERE}!

NOTE: Jennifer does not say that the student has to fill out a written KWL - it can certainly be done orally!  The focus should be to get students to think about the 3 parts prior to reading.

Let's take a look at the next strategy I chose to share with you this week:

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

9.4 "Check Yourself"
Who is it for: Levels A-Z+
What Genre/Text: nonfiction
Skills Used: monitoring for meaning

The Check Yourself strategy is used when you're reading and you realize that something is confusing and not making sense.  We need to teach students to stop, reread, and think about what is confusing and why.  

Jennifer says to prompt the student to think: Did I misread a fact?  Is it different than what I thought I knew?

Reread - based on what you read, what are  you thinking about what you knew before or based on what you read are you thinking you misread it the first time?

The book shares a poster that is circular in nature called "Check Yourself"
It is a visual of the steps in this strategy: 

READ - Notice Confusion - Reread - Revise Your Thinking - and back to Read.

Moving onto the final strategy this week:

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

9.19 "Event Connections"
Who is it for: Levels P-Z+ 
What Genre/Text: narrative nonfiction
Skills Used: understanding cause and effect, sequencing, summarizing

This strategy is for historical narratives that often contain lots of details and information that are usually hard to keep track of.

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo
The author suggests keeping track of these events by jotting them on paper in a timeline fashion with a few key words.  This will create a flow-chart of events that will remind students of the important events in the book and their relationships.

Jennifer also suggests that students may need to have help with using the strategies for goal 5 which was understanding plot and setting.  She states that some of those strategies even though fiction in nature could be adapted to the narrative fiction to assist students in understanding flashbacks or foreshadowing that may occur in these texts.

Well - that covers the 3 strategies that I'm focusing on today!  Make sure you check out what other bloggers are choosing as strategies to focus on for this week....click {HERE} to see!

Join us in reading this book!  Get your own copy HERE.

I really would like to hear your thoughts on this goal or on the whole book series so far....just leave a comment below!

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Flexible Seating Part 1

Flexible seating has become the latest trend in classrooms across the blogging community.  It's a trend that I think is a positive move in education.  Last spring I started to think about implementing it in my classroom.  I wanted to investigate how others were implementing this idea and I began to look into the various seating possibilities out there.

 I found this post on the A Trendy Teacher site called "Alternative Classroom Seating".  

Schoolhouse Treasures & flexible seating - What is it and what is the research behind it?

This post is full of answers to questions that teachers may have about using alternative seating.  I highly recommend it as a go to post for all things related to flexible seating.
She also has a Part 2 post with more answers to questions about alternative seating.

That post led me to Top Dog Teaching's post: "Why the 21st Century Classroom May Remind You of Starbucks"

Schoolhouse Treasures & flexible seating - What is it and what is the research behind it?

For more pictures showing how she uses alternative seating in her classroom, click {HERE}

I'm a big fan of Greg from the Kindergarten Smorgasbord (who isn't?) and he uses flexible seating in his class.  He got rid of all desks and chairs!

Schoolhouse Treasures & flexible seating - What is it and what is the research behind it?

He often mentions flexible seating but this is one post that he comments on it as he reveals his room set-up.

Greg recently had a FB video about the topic of flexible/alternative seating.  I like how he tries to keep it real by saying that it's "all about giving kids choice".  It's not about fancy seating.  

Erin Klein's name comes up in any search for alternative seating!  She is one of the first to begin talking blogging about it from what I've found.  Here's a post from 2014 that will make you drool over the set up of the classroom!

Here is a Smart Brief article by Erin called "Ditching the Desks in Second Grade". She has written several other articles as well and it's all worth checking out to see what she has to say about changing up the classroom environment.

Another post worth checking into is {HERE}.  Erin refers to the lining up of desks as the "cemetery effect".  This post gives you ways beyond desks to avoid that effect.


That was my next question.... is there research and if so - what does the research say about alternative seating?  So.... I started looking for research.

I found this post by a principal: All In On Flexible Seating and Why You Should Be Too: A Principal's Perspective   He mentions some of the research listed below and more that convinced him to go all in with flexible seating/classrooms.

I found this Edutopia article: Flexible Classrooms: "Providing the Learning Environment That Kids Need"  This article shares that a school in Albemarie County Schools found that their students improved in engagement, academic grades were up and students are more able to communicate and think critically since implementing flexible classrooms.  That sounds impressive!  Who doesn't want that for their students?

There is research about movement increasing brain activity.  This article talks about the relationship and how it can increase student attention spans.  

A British study showed reported improved behavior and energy levels in a classroom that used standing desks for their class of 9 & 10 year old students.

This UK study showed that standing in classrooms has health benefits such as "increased heart rates", more calories being burned and "improved insulin effectiveness".

Stability balls use provide improved posture, increased core muscle, and burns more calories according to this article. This article was written based on adults using the ball versus office chair for work, but wouldn't the benefits be the same for children?

To sum up all the research and anecdotal observations by teachers: when alternative seating is used, behavior improves, posture is improved, engagement is increased, students work more independently, enjoy the flexibility and the freedom it provides. 

It sounds like a win-win situation to me!  I still needed to look into all the seating options there are for flexible seating before I take the plunge.  Stay tuned for Part 2 where I write about the many options I've found.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you if you've tried this in your classroom!  What are the pros and cons that you've found in flexible seating?

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Reading Strategies Book Club: Goal 8

I'm joining up with fellow bloggers again to review the book: The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo!  

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book: Goal 8

Thank you to those who have joined me for previous posts in this book study.  If you're new this week, you might want to go back and read the following:

Goal 7 - HERE
Goal 6 - HERE
Goal 5 - HERE
To see with the introduction and the first 4 chapters (which I missed) click {HERE}.  This link brings you to Kelly Malloy's site An Apple For The Teacher

This week we are taking a look at goal 8: 

Determining Main Topics and Ideas (nonfiction)

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book: Goal 8 

Why is this goal important?
Students need to know more about the main idea or topic of what they read in nonfiction.  Comprehension of nonfiction text is more than just being able to recall a couple of interesting facts'  This goal is about learning how to understand the entire section of text.  As students progress through to higher reading levels, the text may have multiple main ideas and the need for nonfiction comprehension is critical.

How to tell if your students need to practice this skill:
Jennifer gives several ideas for how to assess students in this skill both formal and informal methods.  You'll know a student needs practice when they can't give you the main idea of the whole text or article; if they give you only a few facts or only give the main idea of a part of the text.

Here's the 1st strategy I've chosen to spotlight this week:

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book: Goal 8

8.2 "Notice What Repeats"
Who is it for: Levels A-I
What Genre/Text: Nonfiction
Skills Used: determining importance
Students would use this strategy to figure out what a book is mostly about and it involves looking and paying attention to what is repeating on each page.
Jennifer uses a picture from a book about ostriches to show this strategy.  The pictures and text repeatedly uses and shows information about the ostrich's nest.  In the example there are sticky notes with arrows pointing to each section that shows the repetition.  That's a clue that the main idea of this section is ostrich lay eggs in nests that are different from other birds.

Jennifer also briefly explains the different between main topic and main idea.  In early reading levels, (before level J), books have a main topic.  Main idea is more than the main topic.  For example in the above ostrich example: 
Main topic is Ostriches
Main idea is an ostrich has a different kind of nest than most other birds.
NOTE: the author says that for students at the lower levels expecting them to identify main idea may be too difficult; identifying the main topic is sufficient.

Prompt students to notice what repeats - on the page, in text, the pictures.  Have them look for what's the same and use that to state the main idea/topic.

Here's the 2nd strategy I chose:

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book: Goal 8

8.2 "Opinion - Reasons - Evidence"
Who is it for: Levels M-Z+
What Genre/Text: Expository nonfiction
Skills Used: determining importance, synthesizing

This strategy involves noticing how the text is organized.  Sometimes the author may come right out and express their opinion and then offers the details 
the author may start with details and then the author concludes with an opinion.

Paying attention to and following the structure of the evidence, reasons, and opinion will help you to identify the main idea.

I created a poster based on the example shown in the book:

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book: Goal 8

Click {HERE} to download the PDF file for this poster.

Finally, the 3rd strategy I chose to talk about today:

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book: Goal 8

8.18 "Shrink A Text With a Partner"
Who is it for: Levels M-Z+
What Genre/Text: nonfiction
Skills Used: summarizing, determining importance

This strategy involves reading a section of text with a partner.  Together decide what the main idea is and shrink it down into 1 sentence!

After students have practice doing this with partners several times and are successful, then the author suggests having students work independently.

Steps to this strategy.:
Read a chunk of text.
Stop & decide the main idea with your partner.
Say the main idea in 1 sentence.

I've created a worksheet that I plan to use with my class:

Schoolhouse Treasures Reviews The Reading Strategies Book: Goal 8

Click {HERE} to get a PDF of the worksheet!

I hope you learned something new or got an idea from this post!  I'd love to hear your thoughts or comments below.

There's still time to join us in reading this book!  Get your own copy {HERE}

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