Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Have you gone CRAY for task cards? **Freebie Alert

Hey Guys! Today I'm blogging over at Virginia is for Teachers all about how I'm Cray for Task Cards! Head on over to see what I've been up to and you must just land yourself a freebie.

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fall in Love with Teaching Blog Hop

I am so excited to be participating in the "Fall in Love With Teaching" blog hop. Today, I want to share my ideas for avoiding the paper trap. (Keep reading...there may or may not be a giveaway at the end of this post.)

Here's how I control the choas in my classroom:

1. Top-Cubby Turn In
Every student in my room has a cubby for their bookbag. The bottom part of their cubby is for snack, lunchboxes, and clipboards. The top part of their cubby is for turning in work. I typically just have a "Reading", "Math", and "SS/Science" turn in bin that my students put their papers in as they finish an assignment. However... I can be super lazy and let the papers pile up and then it's frustrating to try to match up all the different assignments from that subject and put them in number order for entering grades.

Now, as soon as my students finish an activity they put it in their "top cubby". Later, when most are turned in, I walk around and collect them. Since my cubbies are numbered, the papers are already in ABC order and it is really easy for me to see who hasn't turned it in.

2. The Grading Crate
Instead of having student mailboxes that I sort graded papers into, I have a grading crate. I throw all of my graded assignments in the crate and when I have time (assemblies, indoor recess, etc.) I sort the papers into the hanging file folders which are in order by student number. By this point in the year, I have my student numbers memorized so it usually doesn't take me that long to sort. I love this because it can just go in the corner when I don't need it and if I need to take it home to catch up, it is easy to do.

3. Unfinished/Absent Work Bins
In my classroom, I have these amazing shelves that hold paper bins. Every student has one to house their textbooks (on bottom) and their unfinished word (on top). I have noticed that unfinished work has a greater chance of actually getting done if their desk can't eat it.  When a student is absent, I just pull out their bin, set it on their desk, and assign a desk-mate the job of making sure all of the missing student's papers gets their name on it and into the bin.

There you have it! 3 simple ways that I have found to make my classroom-life easier.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

...Keep reading for yet another giveaway...

Looking for some Autumn infusion for your classroom? Check out my Autumn Themed Math & Grammar Task Cards, Hot off the Press! They can be downloaded together or individually.

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Don't stop now! Keep on hoppin' with Edventures4Kids!
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Monday, August 10, 2015

Quick Tips: 5 Tips for Back to School Prep

I'm back with another Quick Tips post to give you 5 things to think about when setting up your classroom and preparing for your students. These 5 tips have saved me a lot of time throughout the year by shaving minutes off of day to day activities. This time adds up, people!

Let's Go:
No more arguing over whether or not you already stacked your chair or wondering where your chair ended up during center rotations (because apparently in third-grade world, it is super important to have the exact same chair all day).

It is no fun to do this for them in August, it takes time. But, there will be no more confusion over what side houses what. This is more to hold my parents accountable for their end of communication than my students. I also include my procedures, homework schedule, and contact information right on the folder so I will never hear the excuse, "I didn't know" (...hopefully). This 3 pocket folder is from Teacher Direct.

You will thank yourself mid-year when everything is a mess and you don't have time for figuring out where something needs to go. It also makes it easy to give students directions to find something because we all know "on top of, right beside, to the left of, etc..." will not result in you getting the thing you need.

I am so glad that I hopped on this bandwagon after reading this post from The Kindergarten Smorgasboard. If you do interactive notebooks in your classroom, this is a must! It saved me so many precious minutes throughout the year when gluing down smaller, sort pieces.

I have noticed students respond better to libraries that have a corner. When bookshelves lay flat against a wall, there isn't really a space for students to gather. Creating a nook makes them feel like it is a separate area and they are more likely to spend time there. It sounds cray, I know...but it's true!

Check out my other quick tips!

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Monday, August 3, 2015

TPT BIG SALE: Do it like a BOSS ...5 Tips

Have you heard?!? There is a monstrous sale going on RIGHT NOW over at TPT! Seriously, I'm not being dramatic when I say it is the best sale of the year! Take the opportunity now to stock up with things you know you will need (...or want) throughout the year.

The vast majority of sellers, including yours truly, have placed their stores on sale at a whopping 20%. With a total of 28% off when you use the code BTS15. Don't miss out!

Here are my tips to ensure that you WIN during this sale:

1. Buy something you NEED
Invest in something that is an absolute must for your classroom this year. It could be a teacher organizational tool or a curriculum need.
Have to teach grammar this year? Check out my Grammar Interactive Notebook.

2. Buy something you WANT
Come on, you can't go shopping and NOT get something you want. Pick something pretty or something you've had your eye on that makes you smile.
Like to eat? I know I do! 
Check out these resources that use food to hook your students when teaching comprehension skills.

3. Buy a BUNDLE
The quality of work and quantity of resources that you get in a bundle is amazing! However, for us on a budget, they can also be amazingly expensive. Take the time now to buy a bundle that you've had your eye on. 28% makes a BIG difference on higher priced items.
Do you INB? Check out these bundled reading and math interactive notebooks, 5 notebooks in one!

Two more tips for my fellow TPT teacher-author-sellers:

4. Invest in CLIPART
Yes! You can have a solid educational resource, but if it's not cute, it won't sell (as much). You have to invest in your business and this is a great place to start. I love Creative Clips by Krista Wallden.

5. Invest in FONT
How can you not? Fun Fact: Even fonts that were free for you to download are probably not free for you to use commercially. Take the time now to buy font licenses, you will need them. I love Kimberly Geswein Fonts.

There you have it. So go be a BOSS!
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Sunday, August 2, 2015

#2getherwearebetter Bulletin Boards

I am so excited to be linking up with Angie and Ashley to talk about Bulletin Boards! My old classroom actually only had one bulletin board (gasp!?!)....I know, I know. So, I got pretty creative with using all of my wall space. This post will show case all of my boards (bulletin, white, chalk) and hopefully I can give someone in my same situation some inspiration!

*Disclaimer: Here in my part of Virginia, we are not back at school. We aren't even allowed back in the building yet. Yup. So that means all of these pictures are from the school year that just ended. I am also moving schools and leaving my beautiful classroom behind for a "portable" classroom (you can read more about that here). 
Portable = Trailer
Make sure to come back next month for another #2getherwearebetter linky where everyone will be showing off their rooms (and trailers), it should be interesting!

You are going to see a theme in my boards. It is my favorite tip:

....Now on to the pictures...

This is a panoramic view of my room. The bulletin board I told you about is the one with the black paper. You will notice a lot of wall space left unused. We have a very strict fire code in our county and their are specific regulations about how much of our wall we can cover and how much space we have to leave between the items on our wall and the ceiling. Don't even get me started on classroom doors...NO PAPER! You heard that right, as of 3 years ago, we can't even decorate our classroom door. Everything has to be at least 2 inches away from the door frame. Wack.

I actually don't use paper for my bulletin boards. I use plastic table cloths. You can get 3 table cloths in any color for $1.00 from Wal-Mart. I like these because they keep their color all year. I know a lot of people like fabric, but there are just too many hoops I would have to jump through to use them in my county (fire code again).

My chalkboard, which is huge, is along the entire front wall of my classroom. Right in the middle is my Promethean board, which leaves me with a left and right side to utilize. The right side of the board is my student center. This is the side closest to the door and it has everything they need to interact with throughout the day. 

Here's what the numbers mean:
1. My state objectives: I printed these on neon paper a couple years back . I keep them in a plastic sleeve. When I switch units, I just switch up the order of the papers in the sleeves. It works perfectly because I never forget to post my standards.

2. Missing Work Chart: This is my missing work station (you can see a better close up below). When I grade an assignment and notice a student didn't turn it in, I issue them a missing work ticket with their name, the assignment name, and the due date. I place these tickets in the pocket chart next to their number because let's face it, if the assignment never made it out of their desk, the ticket won't either. My parents always stop by to peek at this when they are in the building to see what their kids is missing.

3. Classroom Rewards: My school has a reward system where every class can earn stickers for good behavior around the school. We tally and reward by quarter, so these black papers became covered in our school pride stickers throughout the year.

4. Helpers: There is a list with boys names and a list with girls names. Each day I would circle the girl and boy helper of the day. The list went in order so the students always knew who was next.

5. Bathroom Checkout: My students got 3 bathroom breaks a week (outside of our regularly scheduled class break times). As they used each one, they crossed off a number on the red, yellow, then blue sleeves. Any bathroom breaks not used by Friday result in a ticket for our class drawing.

6. Lunch Count: All of the sections represent a different choice. The students move their name magnets (you can see those in a column along the side of the board) to the choice they were having that day.

The precious teacher who was in this room before me had a whiteboard installed, which I appreciate. This white board is not magnetic, which I don't appreciate. So, I decided to use it as my class calendar. I didn't expect this to build responsibility like it did. My 8 year olds were checking it to make sure they brought sneakers on PE day and that they were prepared for their day to be the helper. You can read more about what I included on the calendar here.

Ok, so this is my actual bulletin board. I might have had only one, but it was super long! I always divide my bulletin board into sections to house my retired anchor charts. When I add anchor charts, I only staple it at the top, so students can flip through if they need to get to an older chart.

About a year ago, I asked maintenance to hang another bulletin board on the wall, it ended up being about the size of the ones they sell for college dorms. But, that's ok! It was just big enough to hold my Behavioropoly board.

When you run out of bulletin boards, anything will do. My cabinets turned into my Data Wall and blank wall space turned into our Homework Turn-In Spot!

Thanks for stopping by!

Make sure to check out some of the other teachers linking up to get even more great ideas for your bulletin boards!!!

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First Day Tried & True Linky: Lesson Idea for the First Day!

When I first joined this amazing linky of First Day plans, I knew I wanted to share my favorite writing lesson for the first day. It gets students sharing and building relationships right from the start!
It all centers around one of my favorite first day read alouds: 
How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague 

I have read this book every first day for the past four years, people. You know it has to be good if even Pinterest (which has exploded over the past 4 years) hasn't yet shown me a lesson that I would use to replace this. It is definitely tried and true!
Click here for my lesson plan.

The writing template I use for this activity is apart of my Back to School Essentials Pack.
Thanks to Chrissie at Undercover Classroom and Sarah at Education Electrification for hosting this great linky party! Be sure to check out other Tried & True activities as you plan your first day!
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