Last week, my printer died.

I mean, not a wholesale, “feet to the sky” death. More like a “you can’t make me do anything, anymore” death. I guess “died” isn’t the right word. More like “stopped participating.”

 I have had this Lexmark all-in-one printer (some of you are rolling your eyes — “Lexmark — no wonder”) for many years. In its day, it did lots of stuff for a printer: it faxed (very cool), scanned and stored, copied and printed, in beautiful full color images. It was fast. It was professional looking. I was in love. But in a way that only electronics manufacturers can understand, it became obsolete as soon as I took it off the shelf at Circuit City. I didn’t realize (at that time) that the ink cartridges that were FREE FREE FREE with the purchase (of any printer) only printed about three pages. So I had to return within the week to purchase full-size ink cartridges (black and color) for my brand new printer.

 Holy office supplies! These babies were expensive! And guess what? Circuit City didn’t carry them. I laughed. “You just sold me this printer five days ago, but you don’t carry the cartridges?” The guy couldn’t even tell me where to get them. I should have seen the future, right there.

 Short story: it was very difficult (and expensive) to “feed” this printer. AND it decided when (and I imagine why) it was going to actually print things. It’s software commandeered my computer. For every five pages I printed, I had to turn the printer off and on again at least twice. Before last week, it had decided to “not communicate” wirelessly with my computer, jammed when there was low paper, jammed when it was full of paper, only copied when the paper was put on the glass and not through the feeder, and stopped faxing altogether. Scans went to Saturn (I think) instead of my laptop. And the drivers used to compel the printer to do anything with my computer were not compatible with any modern operating system. Sigh. Off to buy a new printer.

 Here’s the BIG silver lining: I got to go to STAPLES!


Staples (Canada)


 I just LOOOOOOVVVVVEEEEEE office supplies. I have since I can remember. And have you gone into Staples lately? Just the Post-It aisle is enough to make me weep with joy.

I was confessing my obsession with paper products and other schoolish things, when I was conversing with my mom last week, and discovered that it is, in fact, a genetic disorder. Apparently, she cannot let my dad go to Staples alone to pick up copy paper (a $4.00 purchase) because he comes home with $70 worth of very cool stuff that he just has to take home and love. (I am my father’s daughter…).

I also think it’s a teacher thing. Most of my friends (and, being a teacher, a lot of my friends are, also) run to Staples the last week of August to buy things for their classrooms, not because the prices are better (they’re not) but because they give away lots of free stuff to teachers that week!.  Who doesn’t like free? And take a poll of how many teachers go to Wal-Mart to buy bulk quantities of colorful pocket folders and spiral notebooks, at $0.10 each, at the end of the summer. It will be around 99.99%, I think.


I have been working with a group of 4th, 5th and 6th grade teachers at a local elementary school, on the topic of vocabulary instruction. As part of the training series, the literacy coach suggested we include what we call a “make and take” session: one where teachers take the idea they’ve learned in professional development, and use materials provided to actually create something for their classroom. It’s something all teachers love, but we never have time to do during the school day.

Of course, presenting a “make and take” session means that I got to go to Staples to prepare (**”Yes!” ** in my son’s “victory” voice)…

But what excitement washed over the teachers when they saw the plethora of colorful materials we collected…


Just a sampling of our colorful materials…


The biggest hits were the jewel-tone index cards that had different colors on the front and the back, and (of course) the smelly markers.  Ziploc baggies are also attractive to teachers, especially elementary ones, and we had a couple of different sizes. The only thing that would have made our collection complete was sticky labels . If you give a teacher Ziploc bags, markers, index cards and sticky address labels, there’ s no telling what she can create!

 ————————————————————-  Postlude: I bought a Hewlett-Packard. It’s black. It’s sleek. It has a touch screen, and it “found” my network and all my printers without me hooking it up with a cable. I told my husband I am naming it “Hal” because it seems to know exactly what I’m thinking. It has apps on it for free organizers and word games to print out daily (Who doesn’t like free?) and will even give me the weather report if I touch the screen (I’m not lying).  It does everything that “Lex” did, and more. Lex will move to my office as a copy machine. We still like each other, but Hal is my new love. If you want to read more about the vocabulary centers we created, check out “Raising Rigor With Word Work: Ancient Rome”. Also see my Downloadable Resources tab for featured printables about Ancient Rome.